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Full text of "Held to answer : a novel"

HELD TO ANS 



PETER. CLARK MACFARXANE 



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HELD TO ANSWER 




Follow your star, John," Bessie declared stoutly. 
FRONTISPIECE. See page 82. 



HELD TO ANSWER 

A NOVEL 



BY 

PETER CLARK MACFARLANE 

AUTHOR OF "THOSE WHO HAVE COME BACK," ETC, 



WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY 

W. B. KING 



TORONTO 

MCCLELLAND, GOODCHILD, & STEWART 

LIMITED 



Copyright, 1916, 
BY LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY. 



All rights reserved 



Published, February, 1916 
Reprinted, February, 1916 (four times) 



PRESSWORK BY 
C. H. SIMONDS CO., BOSTON, TT. S. Ju 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

I THE FACE THAT DID NOT FIT i 

II ONE MAN AND ANOTHER 12 

III WHEN THE DARK WENT AWAY 27 

IV ADVENT AND ADVENTURE 37 

V THE RATE CLERK 54 

VI ON Two FRONTS 64 

VII THE HIGH BID 76 

VIII JOHN MAKES UP 88 

IX A DEMONSTRATION FROM THE GALLERY . . 98 

X A STAGE Kiss 107 

XI SEED TO THE WIND 113 

XII A THING INCALCULABLE 127 

XIII THE SCENE PLAYED OUT 134 

XIV THE METHOD OF A DREAM 145 

XV THE CATASTROPHE 154 

XVI THE KING STILL LIVES 161 

XVII WHEN DREAMS COME TRUE 173 

XVIII THE HOUSE DIVIDED 186 

XIX His NEXT ADVENTURE 202 

XX A WOMAN WITH A WANT 216 

XXI A CRY OF DISTRESS 225 

XXII PURSUIT BEGINS 242 

XXIII CAPRICIOUS WOMAN 257 

XXIV THE DAY OF ALL DAYS 265 

XXV His BRIGHT IDEA 281 

XXVI UNEXPECTEDLY EASY 293 

XXVII THE FIRST ALARM 307 

XXVIII THE ARREST 320 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

XXIX THE ANGEL ADVISES 332 

XXX THE SCENE IN THE VAULT 341 

XXXI A MISADVENTURE 358 

XXXII THE COWARD AND His CONSCIENCE . . . 366 

XXXIII THE BATTLE OF THE HEADLINES 378 

XXXIV A WAY THAT WOMEN HAVE 391 

XXXV ON PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION .... 400 

XXXVI A PROMISE OF STRENGTH 430 

XXXVII THE TERMS OF SURRENDER 441 

XXXVIII SUNDAY IN ALL PEOPLE'S 463 

XXXIX THE CUP Too FULL 472 

XL THE ELDER IN THE CHAIR 491 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



*' FOLLOW YOUR STAR, JOHN," BESSIE DECLARED 

STOUTLY Frontispiece 

HE FELT STRICKEN, BROKEN, OVERWHELMED . PAGE 26 
A FOOLISH QUIVER PASSED OVER HIM AND SHOOK 

HIM TILL HE ACTUALLY TREMBLED . . "46 
" DON'T SPEAK TO ME, DON'T ! " SHE COMMANDED 

HOARSELY "184 

" YOU NAILED IT UP," REBUTTED JOHN FLATLY " IQ4 
" THAT MAN is INNOCENT " . . . " 509 



2137056 ' 



HELD TO ANSWER 

CHAPTER I 

THE FACE THAT DID ttOT FIT 

Two well-dressed men waited outside the rail on what 
was facetiously denominated the mourners' bench. One 
was a packer of olives, the other the owner of oil wells. 
A third, an orange shipper, leaned against the rail, pull- 
ing at his red moustaches and yearning wistfully across 
at a wattle-throated person behind the roll-top desk who 
was talking impatiently on the telephone. Just as the 
receiver was hung up with an audible click, a buzzer on 
the wall croaked harshly, one long and two short 
croaks. 

Instantly there was a scuffling of feet upon the lino- 
leum over in a corner, where mail was being opened by a 
huge young fellow with the profile of a mountain and a 
gale of tawny hair blown up from his brow. Undoubling 
suddenly, this rangy figure of a man shot upward with 
Jack-in-the-box abruptness and a violence which threat- 
ened the stability of both the desk before him and the 
absurdly small typewriter stand upon his left. Seizing 
a select portion of the correspondence, he lunged past the 
roll-top desk of Heitmuller, the chief clerk, and aimed to- 
ward the double doors of grained oak which loomed be- 
hind. But his progress was grotesque, for he careened 
like a camel when he walked. In the first stride or two 
these careenings only threatened to be dangerous, but in 



2 HELD TO ANSWER 

the third or fourth they made good their promise. One 
lurching hip joint banged the drawn-out leaf of the chief 
clerk's desk, sweeping a shower of papers to the floor. 

" John dammit ! " snapped Heitmuller irritably. 
The other hip caracoled against the unopened half of the 
double doors as John yawed through. The door com- 
plained loudly, rattling upon its hinges and in its brazen 
sockets, so that for a moment there was clatter and dis- 
turbance from one end of the office to the other. 

The orange shipper started nervously, and the chief 
clerk, cocking his head gander-wise, gazed in disgust at 
the confusion on the floor, while far within Robert 
Mitchell, the General Freight Agent of the California 
Consolidated Railway, lifted a massive face from his desk 
with a look of mild reproof in his small blue eyes. 

Yet when the huge stenographer came back, and with 
another scuffling of clumsy feet stooped to retrieve the 
litter about Heitmuller's revolving chair, he seemed so 
regretful and his features lighted with such a helplessly 
apologetic smile that even his awkwardness appeared 
commendable, since it was so obviously seasoned with the 
grace of perfectly good intent. 

Appreciation of this was advertised in the forgiving 
chuckle of the chief clerk who, standing now at the rail, 
remarked sotto voce to the orange shipper: " John is as 
good as a vaudeville act! " 

At this the red moustaches undulated appreciatively, 
while the two " mourners " laughed so audibly that the 
awkward man, once more in his chair, darted an embar- 
rassed glance at them, and the red flush came again to his 
face. He suspected they were laughing at him, and as 
if to comfort himself, a finger and thumb went into his 
right vest pocket and drew out a clipping from the adver- 
tising columns of the morning paper. Holding it deep in 
his hand, he read furtively: 



THE FACE THAT DID NOT FIT 3 

ACTING TAUGHT. Charles Kenton, character actor, 
temporarily disengaged, will receive a few select pupils 
in dramatic expression at his studio in The Albemarle. 
Terms reasonable. 

Then John looked across aggressively at the men who 
had laughed. They were not laughing now, but nodding 
in his direction, and whispering busily. 

What were they saying? That he was a joke, a fail- 
ure ? That he had been in this chair seven years ? That 
he was a big, snubbed, defeated, over- worked handy-man 
about this big, loosely organized office? That in seven 
years he had neither been able to get himself promoted 
nor discharged? No doubt! 

As if to get away from the thought, John turned from 
his typewriter to the open window and looked out. There 
was the spire of the grand old First Church down there 
below him. Yonder were the sky-notching business 
blocks of the pushing city of Los Angeles, as it \vas in the 
early nineteen hundreds. There, too, were the villa- 
crowned heights to the north, shut in at last by the 
barren ridges of the Sierra Madre Mountains, some of 
which, in this month of January, were snow-capped. 

But here were these foolish men still nodding and whis- 
pering. Good fellows, too, but blind. What did they 
know about him really? 

They knew that he was a stenographer, but they did 
not know that he was a stenographer to the glory of God ! 
one who cleaned his typewriter, dusted his desk, opened 
the mail, wrote his letters, ate, walked, slept, all to the 
honor of his creator that the whole of life to him was 
a sort of sacrament. 

They thought he was beaten and discouraged, an in- 
dustrial slave, drawn helplessly into the cogs. They, 
poor, purblind materialists, were without vision. They 
did not know that there were finer things than pickles and 



4 HELD TO ANSWER 

crude oil. They did not know that he was to soar; that 
already his wings were budding, nor that he lived in an 
inner state of spiritual exaltation as delicious as it was 
unsuspected. They pitied him; they laughed commis- 
eratingly. He did not want their commiseration; he 
spurned their laughter and their pity. He was full of 
youth and the exuberance of hope. He was full of an 
expanding strength that made him stronger as his dream 
grew brighter. Only his eyes were tired. The cross 
lights were bad. For a moment he shaded his brow ten- 
derly with his hand, reflecting that he must hereafter use 
an eye-shade by day as methodically he used one in his 
nightly study. 

The morning moved along. The yearning orange 
shipper went away. One mourner rose and passed inside. 
The other waited impatiently for his turn to do the same. 
Luncheon time came for John, and he ate it in the file 
room ravenously ; and while he ate he read the Con- 
gressional Record; and reading, made notations on the 
margin, for John was preparing for what he was pre- 
paring, although he did not quite know what. The train 
of destiny was rumbling along, and when it stopped at his 
station, he proposed to swing on board. 

His luncheon down swiftly, as much through hunger as 
through haste, he swung out of the door, bound for 
Charles Kenton, "actor temporarily disengaged - 
Hotel Albemarle terms reasonable," moving with such 
headlong speed that he was soon within that self-important 
presence. 

" Hampstead is my name," he blurted, with clumsy 
directness, "John Hampstead," and the interview with 
Destiny was on. 

" The first trouble with you," declared the white-haired 
actor critically, " is that your face doesn't fit." 

John wet a lip and hitched a nervous leg, but sat awk- 



wardly silent, his eyes boring hungrily, as if waiting for 
more. The actor, however, was slow to add more. 
Faces were his enthusiasm, as well as the raw material of 
his profession, but this face puzzled him, so that before 
committing himself further he paused to survey it again: 
the strong nose with its hump of energy, the well but- 
tressed chin, and then the broad forehead with its un- 
usually thick, bony ridge encircling the base of the brows 
like a bilge keel, proclaiming loudly that here was a man 
with racial dynamite in his system, one who, whatever else 
he might become, was now and always a first-class ani- 
mal. 

The eyebrows heightened this suggestion by being 
thick and yellow, and sweeping off to the temples in a 
scroll-like flare. The forehead itself was broad, but 
gathered a high look from that welter of tawny hair 
which was roached straight up and back, giving the effect 
of one who plunges headlong. 

But the eyes completely modified the countenance. 
They did not plunge. They halted and beamed softly. 
Gray and deep-seated, they made all that face's force the 
force of tenderness, by burning with a light that was 
obviously inner and spiritual. The mouth, again, while 
as cleanly chiseled as if cut from marble, sensitive, im- 
pressionistic, fine, was, alas! weak; or if not weak, ad- 
vertising weakness by an habitual expression of lax 
amiability ; although along with this the actor noted that 
the two lips, buttoning so loosely at the corners, could 
none the less collaborate in a most engaging smile. 

Kenton concluded his second appraisal with a little ges- 
ture of impatience. The man's features gave each other 
the lie direct, and that was all there was to it. They 
said: This man is a beast, a great, roaring lion of a 
man ; and then they said : No, this lion is a lamb, a mild, 
dreamy, sucking dove sort of person. 



6 HELD TO ANSWER 

" That's it," he iterated. " Your face doesn't fit." 

Hampstead did not wince. 

' The question is," he proposed, in a voice husky with 
a mixture of embarrassment and determination, "how 
am I to make it fit? Or, failing that, how am I to get 
somewhere with a face that doesn't fit ? " 

The actor's reply was half sagacity, half " selling 
talk ", mixed with some judicious flattery and tinged 
with inevitable gallery play, although there was no gal- 
lery. 

" Elocution ? " Kenton observed, with a little grimace 
of derision. "No! Oratory? Not at all!" The 
weight of his withering scorn was tremendous. " There 
are no such things. It is all acting ! A man speaks with 
the whole of himself his eyes, his mouth, his body, his 
walk, his pose everything. That's what you need to 
learn. Self-expression! I can make your face fit. 
That's simple enough," and Kenton waved his hand as if 
the re-stamping of a man's features was the easiest thing 
he did. " I can make your body graceful. I can take 
that voice of yours and make it strong as the roar of a 
bull, and as soft as rich, brown velvet. Yes," and the 
actor leaped to his feet in growing enthusiasm, " I can 
make 'em all respond to every whim of what's passing 
inside. But," he asked suddenly, with a penetrating 
glance, "will that make an orator of you? Well, that 
depends on what's passing inside. It takes a great soul 
to make an orator great imagination, mind, feelings, 
sentiments. Have you got 'em? I doubt it! I doubt 
it!" 

The old man confirmed his dubiousness with the un- 
complimentary emphasis of hesitating silence. In the sin- 
cerity of his critical analysis, he had forgotten that he was 
trying to secure a pupil. "And yet and yet " his 
eye began to kindle as he looked, " I tell you I don't know,. 



THE FACE THAT DID NOT FIT 7 

boy there's something there might be something be- 
hind that face of yours. It might come out, you know, 
it might come out! " 

Kenton drawled the last words out slowly in a deeply 
speculative tone, and, then asked abruptly : " How old 
are you ? " 

" Twenty-four," admitted John, feeling suddenly as if 
he confessed the years of Methuselah. 

But the dark eyes of the old actor sparkled, and his 
long, mobile lips parted in the ghost of a sigh which crept 
out through teeth stained yellow by years and tobacco, 
after which he ejaculated admiringly : " My God, but 
you are young ! " 

This came as an inspiring thought to John. He did 
feel young, all but his eyes. What was the matter with 
them that the lids were so woodeny of late ? Yes ; he was 
young, despite seven submerged years, and the wings of 
his soul were preening. 

Back in the General Freight Office, John fell upon his 
work with happy vigor. Spat, spat, spat, and a letter was 
on its way from Dear Sir to Yours truly. But in the 
midst of these spattings, he paused to muse. 

" Kenton said he could make me graceful," the big fel- 
low was communing over his typewriter, when abruptly 
the outer door opened and, after a single glance, John ap- 
peared to forget both his communings and his work. 
Swinging about, he sat transfixed, his odd features turned 
eccentrically handsome by a light of adoration which be- 
gan to glow upon them, as if an astral presence had en- 
tered. 

Yet to the unprejudiced observer the newcomer was no 
heavenly being, but a mere schoolgirl, whose dress had 
not been long at the shoe-top stage. With a swish of 
skirts and an excited ripple of laughter, she had burst in 
like a breeze of youth itself. But to this breeziness of 



8 HELD TO ANSWER 

youth the young lady added the indefinable thing called 
charm, and the promise of greater charm to come. She 
was already tall and would be taller, fair to look upon and 
certain to be fairer. To a dress of some warm red color, 
a touch of piquancy was added by a Tam-o'-Shanter cap 
of plaid that was itself pushed jauntily to one side by a 
wealth of crinkly brown hair; while a bit of soft brown 
fur encircled the neck and cuddled affectionately as a kit- 
ten under the smooth, plump chin. The face was oval 
with a tendency to fullness, and the nose, while by no 
means retrousse, was as distinctively Irish as the sparkle 
in the blue of her laughing eyes. Irish, too, were the 
smiling lips, but the delicious dimples that flecked the 
white and red of her cheeks were entirely without nation- 
ality. They were just woman, budding, ravishing 
woman ; and there is no doubt whatever that they helped 
to make the fascination of that merry face complete, when 
its spell was cast over the soul of Hampstead. 

" Oh, John ! " exclaimed the young lady with impul- 
sive familiarity, bounding through the gate and over to 
his side, " I want you to write some invitations for me. 
This is my week to entertain the Phrosos. See! Isn't 
the paper dear? " 

There were caresses in the big man's eyes as the girl 
drew near, but he replied with less freedom than her own 
form of address invited : " Good afternoon, Miss 
Bessie." 

The restraint in his speech however was much in con- 
trast to the bold poaching of his eyes. But Bessie ap- 
peared to notice neither restraint nor the boldness as, 
standing by his desk, with the big man looking on inter- 
estedly, she undid the package in her hand. 

The picture of frank and simple comradeship so im- 
mediately established proclaimed a certain mutual un- 
awareness between this pretty, half-developed girl and 



THE FACE THAT DID NOT FIT 9 

this big, unawakened man that was as delightful to con- 
template as it evidently was to enjoy. 

"Isn't it darling?" the girl demanded again, having 
exposed to view the contents of her box, invitation paper 
with envelopes to match, in color as pink as her own 
cheeks. 

" Yes, Miss Bessie, it is dear," John concurred placidly. 

" But you are not looking at it," protested the girl. 

" No," the awkward man confessed, but entirely un- 
abashed, " I am looking at you devouringly." 

" Well, you needn't," Bessie answered spicily. 

" Yes, I need," John declared coolly. " You do not 
know how much I need. You are the only unspoiled 
human being I ever see in this office." 

" Old Heit does look rather shopworn," Bessie whis- 
pered roguishly. " But, look here," and she thrust out 
her lips in a pout that was at once defiant and tantalizing, 
while her eyes rested for a moment upon the closed 
double doors : " My father is an unspoiled human be- 
ing." 

"What have you been doing to your hair?" Hamp- 
stead demanded critically, refusing to be diverted. 

" Doing it up, of course, as grown women should," 
she vouchsafed with emphasis. " Don't you like it? " 

With a flash of her two hands, one of which snatched 
out a pin while the other swept off the plaid cap, she spun 
herself rapidly about so that John might view the new 
coiffure from all angles. 

" Oh, of course, I have to like it," he said, with mock 
mourn fulness. " I have to like anything you do, be- 
cause I like you, and because you are my boss's boss ; but 
I am sorry to lose the thick braids down your back, with 
that delicious little velvety tuft at the end that I used to 
catch up and tickle your ear with in the long, long 
ago." 



io HELD TO ANSWER 

" But how long ago was that, Sir Critical ? " challenged 
Bessie. 

" Long, long ago," affirmed Hampstead, with another 
of his humorous sighs, " when it was a part of my duty 
to take you to the circus and buy you peanuts and lemon- 
ade of a color to match your cheeks." 

" And that," dissented the young lady triumphantly, 
" was only last September, and the one before that, and, 
in fact, almost every circus day since I can remember." 

" But now that you are doing your hair up high, you 
will not need me to take you to the circus again." 

This time the note of sadness in Hampstead's voice was 
genuine, whereat all the loyalty in the soul of Bessie 
leaped up. 

" You shall," she declared, with an impulsive sweetness 
of manner, while she leaned close and added in a whisper 
that made the assurance deliciously confidential " as 
long as you wish." 

" Then I shall do it forever," declared John recklessly. 

" However," and Miss Elizabeth Mitchell, with a play- 
ful acquisition of dignity, switched the subject abruptly 
by announcing briskly, " business before circuses." 

" Phrosos before rhinos, as it were," consented John. 

" Yes now take your pencil and let me dictate." 

" But," bantered John, " I allow no woman to dictate 
to me. Besides, I write a perfectly horrible hand." 

" Oh," explained Bessie, " but I want them on the 
typewriter. It'll make the other girls wild. None of 
them can command a typewriter." 

" Yet," protested Hampstead, " overlooking for the mo- 
ment the offensiveness in that word ' command ', I ven- 
ture to suggest, Miss Mitchell, that things are not done 
that way this year. A typewritten invitation isn't con- 
sidered good form in the best circles." 

" I don't care ; we'll have 'em," declared Bessie. 



II 

" We'll set a new fashion." Her little foot smote the 
floor sharply, and she stood bolt upright, so upright that 
she leaned back, gazing at John through austere lashes, 
her face lengthening till the dimples disappeared, while 
the Cupid's bow of her lips became almost a memory. 

" Oh, very well," weakened Hampstead, bowing his 
head, " I cannot brook that gaze for long. It shall be 
as your Grace commands." 

"Tired, aren't you?" commented Bessie, suddenly 
mollified, and scanning the big face narrowly, while a 
look of soberness came into her eyes. " I can see it; and 
your eyes look bad very bad, John." Her voice was 
girlishly sympathetic. " These people do not appreciate 
you, either. But I do ! I know ! " and she nodded her 
round chin stoutly, while she laid a hand upon the arm 
of this man who, seven years her senior, was in some 
respects her junior. " You are a very great man in the 
day of his obscurity. It will come out some time. You 
will be General Manager of the railroad, or something 
very, very big. ( Won't you? " and she leaned close again 
with that delightfully confidential whisper. 

" I admit it," confessed John, with a happy chuckle. 

But Bessie's restless eye had fallen upon the clock. 
" Pickles and artichokes ! " she exclaimed, with a sudden 
change of mood, " I must flit." 

Snatching from her bag a crumpled note, she tossed 
it on the desk, calling back : " Here. This is what I 
want to say to 'em." 

Hampstead sat for a moment looking after her, his lips 
parted, his great hands set upon his knees with fingers 
sprawled very widely, until Bessie was out of view be- 
hind the double doors that admitted to her father's pres- 
ence. 



CHAPTER II 

ONE MAN AND ANOTHER 

IN the dusk of the early winter's night in that land 
where winter hints its presence but slightly in any other 
way, two children dashed out of a rambling shell of a 
cottage that sprawled rather hopelessly over an unkempt 
lot, screaming: " Uncle John! Uncle John! " 

Roused from castled, starry dreams, the big stenog- 
rapher, who had been enjoying the feel of the dark upon 
his eyes, and the occasional happy fragrance of orange 
blossoms in his nostrils, greeted each with a bear hug, 
and the three clattered together up the rickety steps into 
a tiny hall. On the left was an oblong room, and beyond 
it, through curtains, appeared a table set for dinner. 
Light streaming in from this second room revealed the 
first as a sort of parlor-studio, where a piano, a lounge, 
easels, malsticks, palates, and stacks of unframed can- 
vases jostled each other indifferently. An inspection 
would have shown that these pictures were mostly land- 
scapes, with now and then a flower study in brilliant 
colors ; and to the practised eye a distressing atmosphere 
of failure would have obtruded from every one. 

From somewhere beyond the dining room came the 
odor of cooking food, and the sound of energetic but 
heavy footsteps. 

" Hello, Rose," called John cheerily. 

At the moment a woman came into view, bearing a 
steaming platter. She was large of frame, with gray 
eyes, with straight light hair, fair wide brow, and fea- 



ONE MAN AND ANOTHER 13 

tures that showed a general resemblance to Hampstead's 
own. Her face had a weary, disturbed look, but lighted 
for a moment at the sight of her brother. 

Depositing the platter upon the table, the woman sank 
heavily into a chair at the end, where she began imme- 
diately to serve the plates. The children, a girl and a 
boy, sat side by side, with John across from them. This 
left a vacant chair opposite Rose, and before this a plate 
was laid. 

For a time the family fell upon its food in silence. 
The girl was eleven years old perhaps, with eyes of 
lustrous hazel, reddish-brown hair massed in curls upon 
her shoulders and hanging below, cheeks hopelessly 
freckled, mouth large, and nose also without hope through 
being waggishly pugged. The boy, whose sharp, pale 
features exhibited traces of a battle with ill health begun 
at birth and not yet ended, had eyes that were like his 
mother's, clear and gray, and there was a brave turn to 
his upper lip that excited pity on a face so pale. He 
looked older but was probably younger than his sister. 
Hero-worship, frank and unbounded, was in the glance 
with which the two from time to time beamed upon their 
uncle. 

After a considerable interval, John, glancing first at 
the empty chair and then at his sister, asked with signifi- 
cant constraint in his tone : " Any word ? " 

His sister's head was shaken disconsolately, and the 
angular shoulders seemed to sink a little more wearily as 
her face was again bowed toward her plate. 

After another interval, Hampstead remarked : " You 
seem worried to-night, Rose." 

' The rent is due to-morrow," she replied in a wooden 
voice. 

" Is that all ? " exclaimed John, throwing back his head 
with a relieved laugh. At the same time a hand had 



14 HELD TO ANSWER 

stolen into his pocket, and he drew out a twenty-dollar 
gold piece and tossed it across the table. 

' The rent is $17.50," observed Rose, eyeing the coin 
doubtfully. 

" Keep the change," chuckled John, " and pass the po- 
tatoes." 

But the woman's gloom appeared to deepen. 
' You pay your board promptly," she protested. 
' This is the third month in succession that you have also 
paid the rent. Besides, you are always doing for the 
children." 

" Who wouldn't, I'd like to know?" challenged John, 
surveying them both proudly; whereat Dick, his mouth 
being otherwise engaged, darted a look of gratitude from 
his great, wise eyes, while Tayna reached over and patted 
her uncle's hand affectionately. " Tayna " was an In- 
dian name the girl's father had picked up somewhere. 

" Besides," went on John, " Charles is having an up- 
hill fight of it right now. It's a pleasure to stand by a 
gallant fellow like him. He goes charging after his ideal 
like old Sir Galahad." 

But the face of his sister refused to kindle. 

" Like Don Quixote, you mean," she answered cyni- 
cally. " I haven't heard from him in three weeks. He 
has not sent me any money in six. He sends it less and 
less frequently. He becomes more and more irrespon- 
sible. You are spoiling him to support his family for 
him, and," she added, with a choke in her voice, while a 
tear appeared in her eye, " he is spoiling us killing our 
love for him." 

The boy slipped down from his chair and stood beside 
his mother, stroking her arm sympathetically. 

" Poppie's all right," he whispered in his peculiar 
drawl. " He'll come home soon and bring a lot of money 
with him. See if he don't! " 



ONE MAN AND ANOTHER 15 

" Oh, I know," confessed Rose, while with one hand 
she dabbed the corner of her eye with an apron, and with 
the other clasped the boy impulsively to her. " I know I 
should not give way before the children. But but it 
grows worse and worse, John ! " 

" Nonsense ! " rebuked her brother. " You're only 
tired and run down. You need a rest, by Hokey ! that's 
what you need. Charles is liable to sell that Grand 
Canyon canvas of his any time, and when he does, you'll 
get a month in Catalina, that's what you will ! " 

The wife was silently busy with her apron and her 
eyes. 

" Do you know, Rose," John continued with forced 
enthusiasm, " my admiration for Charles grows all the 
time. He follows his star, that boy does ! " 

" And forgets his family leaves it to starve ! " re- 
proached the sister bitterly, w r hile the sag of her cheeks 
became still more noticeable. 

" Ah, but that's where you do Charles an injustice," 
insisted John. " He knows I'm here. We have a sort 
of secret understanding; that is," and he gulped a little 
at going too far "that is, we understand each other. 
He knows that while he is following his ideal, I won't 
see you starve. He's a genius; I'm the dub. It's a fair 
partnership. His eye is always on the goal. He will get 
there sure and soon, now, too." 

"He will never get there!" blurted out the dejected 
woman, as if with a sudden disregard ful loosing of her 
real convictions. " For thirteen years I have hoped and 
toiled and believed and waited. A good w r hile ago I 
made up my mind. He has not the vital spark. For 
five years I have pleaded with him to give it up to sur- 
render his ambition, to turn his undoubted talent to ac- 
count. He has had the rarest aptitude for decorating. 
We might be having an income of ten thousand a year 



i6 

now. Instead he pursues this will-o'-the-wisp ambition 
of his. He is crazy about color, always chasing a foolish 
sunset or some wonderful desert panorama of sky and 
cloud and mountain seeing colors no one else can see 
but unable to put his vision upon the canvas. That's the 
truth, John! I have never spoken it before. Never 
hinted it before the children ! Charles Langham is a fail- 
ure. He will never be anything else but a failure ! " 

The words, concluded by the barely successful sup- 
pression of a sob, fell on unprotesting silence. Who but 
this life- worn woman had so good an opportunity to know 
if they were true, so good a right to speak them if she 
believed them true ? John looked at his plate, Tayna and 
Dick looked at each other. It required a stout heart to 
break the oppressive quiet, and for the moment no one in 
this group had that heart. The break came from the 
outside, when some one ran swiftly up the steps and 
threw open the front door. Instant sounds of collision 
and confusion issued from the hall, followed immediately 
by a masculine voice, thin and injured in tone, calling ex- 
citedly : 

" Well, for the love of Michael Angelo ! What do you 
keep stuffing the hall so full of furniture for? Won't 
somebody please come and help me with these things ? " 

The dinner table was abruptly deserted; but quick as 
John and the children were, Rose was ahead of them, 
and when they reached the hallway, a thin man of me- 
dium height, with an aquiline nose, dark eyes, and long 
loose hair, was helplessly in the embrace of the laughing 
and crying woman. 

" Oh, Charles, you did come home ; you did come home, 
didn't you?" she was crying. 

Charles broke in volubly. " Well, I should say I did. 
What did you expect? Have I ever impressed you as a 
man who would neglect his family? " After which, with 



ONE MAN AND ANOTHER 17 

the look of one who has put his accusers in the wrong, 
he rescued himself from his wife's emphatic embraces, 
held her off for a moment with a look of real fondness, 
and then brushed her with his lips, first on one cheek 
and then upon the other. 

" Dad-dee ! " clamored the children in chorus. " Dad- 
dee! " Yet it was noticeable that they did not presume 
to rush upon their father, but flung their voices before 
them, experimentally, as it were. 

"Well, well, las ninas" (las ninas being the Spanish 
for children), the father exclaimed, his piercing dark 
eyes upon them with delight and displeasure mingling. 
" Aren't you going to give me a hug ? Your mother 
nearly strangles me, and you stand off eyeing me as if 
I were a new species." 

At the open arms of invitation, both of the children 
plunged unhesitatingly; but their reception was brief. 

" Run away now, father is tired," the nervous-looking 
man proclaimed presently, straightening his shoulders, 
while he sniffed the atmosphere. " Dinner, eh ? Gods 
and goats, but I am hungry ! " 

Rose led the little procession proudly back to the table, 
drawing out her husband's chair for him, hovering over 
him, smoothing his hair, unfolding his napkin, and stoop- 
ing to place a fresh kiss upon his fine, high, but narrow 
brow. 

' That will do now ; that will do now," he chided, with 
an air of having indulged a foolishly doting woman long 
enough. " For goodness' sake, Rose, give me something 
to eat." 

His wife, still upon her feet, carried him the platter 
from which the family had been served. Charles con- 
demned it with a glance. 

"Isn't there something fresh you could give me? 
Something that hasn't been pawed over? " 



i8 HELD TO ANSWER 

His tone was eloquent of sensibilities outraged, and his 
dark eyes, having first flashed a reproach upon his wife, 
swept the circle with a look of expected comprehension 
in them, as if he knew that all would understand the deli- 
cacies of the artistic temperament. 

" Why, yes," admitted Rose, without a sign of resent- 
ment. " I can get you something fresh if you will wait 
a few minutes." 

She slipped out to the kitchen from which presently the 
odor of broiling meat proceeded, while the artist coolly 
rolled his cigarette, and, surveying without touching the 
cup of coffee which John had poured for him, raised his 
voice to call : " Some fresh coffee, too, Rose, please ! " 

After this Langham leveled his eye on his brother-in- 
law and asked airily, " Well, John, how's everything with 
you?" 

" Fine as silk, Charles," replied Hampstead. " How 
is it with you ? " 

" Never better," declared Langham. " Never saw 
such sunsets in your life as they are having up the 
Monterey coast. I tell you there never were such colors. 
There was one there in December," and he launched 
into a detailed description of it, his eyes, his face, his 
hands, his whole body laboring to convey the picture 
which his animated spirits proclaimed was still upon the 
screen of his mind. 

As the description was concluded, Rose placed a plat- 
ter before him, upon which, garnished with parsley, two 
small chops appeared, delicately grilled. 

Abruptly ceasing conversation, Charles sank a knife 
and fork into one of them and transferred a generous 
morsel to his mouth. 

" Thanks, old girl ; just up to your topmost mark," he 
confessed ungrudgingly, after a few moments, during 
which, with half -closed eyes, he had been chewing vigor- 



ONE MAN AND ANOTHER 19 

ously and with a singleness of purpose rather rare in 
him. 

" Sold any pictures lately ? " asked John casually. 

" No," said Langham abruptly, lowering his voice, 
while a look of annoyance shaded his brow. " I dropped 
in at the gallery first thing, but " and he shrugged his 
shoulders "Nothing doing! However," and he be- 
came immediately cheerful again, " Mrs. Lawson has been 
looking awfully hard at that Grand Canyon canvas. If 
she buys that, my fortune's made." 

" And if she doesn't," observed Rose pessimistically. 

"And if she doesn't?" her husband exclaimed with 
sudden irritation. " Well it'll be made just the same. 
You see if it isn't! Oh, say! " and a light broke upon 
his face so merry that it immediately dissipated every 
sign of annoyance. " What do you think ? I saw 
Owens to-day, the fellow who auctions alleged oil paint- 
ings at a minimum of two dollars each. You know the 
scheme pictures painted while you wait roses, chrys- 
anthemums, landscapes even. Well, he offered me fifteen 
dollars a day to paint pictures for him. Think of it! 
To sit in the window before a gaping crowd painting 
those miserable daubs, a dozen or two a day, while he 
auctions them off. His impudence! If I had been as 
big as you are, Jack, I would have punched him." 

" Fifteen dollars a day," commented Rose thought- 
fully. 

" Yes," laughed Langham, his little black eyes a-twin- 
kle, as he clipped the last morsel from the first of his 
chops. " The idea ! " 

" Well, I hope you took it," his wife suggested. 

" Rose ! " exclaimed Langham, rising bolt upright at 
the table and looking into her face as if she had unwar- 
rantably and unexpectedly hurled the blackest insult. 
" Rose ! An artist like me ! " 



20 HELD TO ANSWER 

" It is the kind of a job for an artist like you," she re- 
joined stingingly, with a sarcastic emphasis on just the 
right words. 

"Oh, my God! My God!" exclaimed the man 
sharply, turning from the table, while he threw his hands 
dramatically upward and clutched at the back of his head, 
after which he took a turn up and down the room as if 
beside himself with unutterable emotions. 

John judged that this was the fitting moment for his 
withdrawal, but Langham's distress of mind was not too 
great for him to observe the movement and to follow. 
He overtook his brother-in-law in the studio-parlor, and 
his manner was coolly importunate. 

" Say, old man ! " he whispered, " could you let me 
have five? I'm a little short on carfare, and you'll be 
gone in the morning before I get up." 

" Sure," exclaimed John, without a moment's hesita- 
tion, delving in the depths of the pocket from which he 
had produced the money for the rent, and handing out a 
five-dollar piece. 

" Thanks, old chap," said Langham, seizing it eagerly 
and hastening away, after an affectionate slap on the 
shoulder of his bigger and as he thought baser metaled 
brother-in-law. He did not, however, say that he would 
repay the loan, and Hampstead did not remark that it 
was the last gold coin in his pocket and that he should 
have no more till pay day, ten days hence. 

John let his admiration for the assurance of Langham 
play for a moment, and then turned to the rear of the 
studio, opened a door, struck a match, and groped his 
way to a naked gas jet. The sudden flare of light re- 
vealed a lean-to room, meant originally for nobody knew 
what, but turned into a bedroom. The only article of 
furniture which piqued curiosity in the least was a table 
against the wall, across which a long plank had been 



ONE MAN AND ANOTHER 21 

balanced. Upon it and equilibrated as carefully as the 
plank itself, was a row of books of many shapes and 
sizes and in various stages of preservation. This plank 
was John's library. 

Stuck about upon the walls were several large photo- 
gravures, portraying various stirring scenes in history, 
mostly Roman. They were un framed and fastened 
crudely to the wall with pins. Evidently this was the 
living place of an untidy man. 

The tiny table, with its balanced over-load of books, 
was directly beneath the gas. John dropped heavily into 
the wooden chair before it and drew to him a number 
of sheets of paper, upon which, with much labor and 
many erasings, he began to fashion a sort of motto or 
legend. Satisfied at length with his work, he printed the 
finished legend swiftly in rude capital letters in the center 
of a fresh sheet, snatched down the picture of a Christian 
martyr which occupied the central space above his library, 
and with the same four pins affixed his motto in that par- 
ticular spot, where it would greet him instantly upon 
opening the door, and where it would be the last thing 
upon which his eyes fell as he went to sleep and the first 
when he awakened in the morning. 

Once it was in position, he stood off and admired it, 
reading aloud : 

" ETERNAL HAMMERING is THE PRICE OF SUCCESS ! " 

" That's the stuff," he croaked enthusiastically. 
" Eternal hammering! " And then he paused a moment, 
after which his reverie was continued aloud. " That 
actor was telling me to-day about technique. He said: 
' There's a right way to do everything to pitch a horse- 
shoe even.' He's right. The fellow with the best 
technique will knock the highest persimmon. What 



22 HELD TO ANSWER 

makes me such a good stenographer? Technique. 
What makes me such a bum office flunkey ? The lack of 
technique no voice no form no self-confidence. 
I am a young-man-afraid-of-himself that's who I am. 

" Technique first and then gravitation ! That's the 
idea!" 

By gravitation, however, Hampstead did not mean 
that law which keeps the heavenly bodies from getting 
on the wrong side of the street, but that process, which 
in his short life he had already observed, by means of 
which the man in the crowd who takes advantage of his 
opportunities and, by the dig of an elbow here, the insert 
of a shoulder there, and the stiff thrust of a foot and leg 
yonder, sooner or later arrives opposite the gateway of 
his particular desires. 

Mere opportunism? That and a little more; a sort of 
conviction that fortune herself is something of an op- 
portunist, that what a man wants to do, fortune, sooner 
or later, will help him to do, if he only wills himself in 
the direction of the want early enough and long enough 
to give the fickle jade her chance. 

By way of proceeding immediately to hammer, Hamp- 
stead reached for a heavy calf -bound volume, bearing 
the imprint of the Los Angeles Public Library, and set- 
tled himself to read. 

Most people in the railroad office were tired when they 
finished their day's work. They were done with effort. 
John, however, was just ready to begin. They thought 
of recreation; John thought only of hammering. 

Since his scholastic education had been broken off in 
the middle by economic necessities, he had formed the 
plan of reading at night the entire written history of the 
world, from the first cuneiform inscription down to the 
last edition of the last newspaper. In pursuance of this 
plan, he had already traveled far down the centuries, and 



ONE MAN AND ANOTHER 23 

it was with eagerness that he adjusted his eye-shade to- 
night, because when he lifted the cover of his book he 
knew that he would swing open the doors on one of the 
greatest centuries in human history, the century in which 
the world discovered the individual. Hampstead was 
himself an individual. This was in some sense the story 
of his own discovery. 

When John had been reading for perhaps half an hour, 
there came a bird-like tap at his door, accompanied by a 
suppressed giggle. 

" Who comes there?" called the student in sepulchral 
tones, stabbing the page at a particular spot with his 
thumb, while his eyes were lifted. 

The only audible sound was another giggle, but the 
door swung open mysteriously, revealing two small, 
white-robed figures silhouetted against the shadows in the 
studio. 

" Enter, ghosts ! " John commanded, in the same 
sepulchral voice, while his eyes fell again upon his pages. 
The ghosts chortled and advanced, but with great cir- 
cumspection, to the little table with its dangerously bal- 
anced bookshelf, its miscellaneous litter of papers, and its 
silent, absorbed student. 

Tayna, her long burnished curls cascading over the 
white of her nightgown, and her eyes shining softly, 
ducked her head and arose under one arm of her uncle, 
where presently she felt herself drawn close with an af- 
fectionate, satisfying sort of squeeze. The boy, ap- 
proaching from the other side, laid an arm upon the 
shoulder of the man, and stood watching with fascination 
the eyes of his uncle in their steady sweep from side to 
side of the printed page. 

" Uncle John," asked Tayna shyly, burying her face 
in his neck as she put the question, " when will you be 
President?" 



24 HELD TO ANSWER 

" When shall you be President ? " corrected the boy, 
looking across at his sister with that same old-mannish 
expression which was a part of all he said and did. 

Hampstead cuddled the girl closer, and his eye aban- 
doned the page to look down the bridge of his nose into 
distance. 

" Why? " he asked presently. 

" Oh, because," said Tayna, with a little shiver of 
eagerness, " I can hardly wait." 

Hampstead's eyes wandered to his motto on the wall. 
The eyes of the boy followed and spelled out the letters 
wonderingly, but in silence. 

"We must be able to wait," said John, squeezing 
Tayna again. "It's a long, long way; but if we just 
keep on keeping on, why, after a while we are there, you 
know." 

Tayna sighed and reached up a round, plump arm till 
it encircled Hampstead's neck, as she asked, still more 
shyly : 

" And when you are President, every one will know 
just how good and great you are, and they won't call you 
awkward nor nor homely any more, will they? " 

A flush and a chuckle marked John's reception of this 
query, after which he observed hastily and a bit appre- 
hensively : 

" Say, you wet little goldfishes ! Remember that you 
are never, never, now or any time, howsoever odd I bear 
myself, to breathe a word to anybody, not to a single 
soul, not to your mamma or your papa or your Sunday- 
school teacher or anybody, of all these nice little play se- 
crets which we have between ourselves." 

An instant seriousness came over the children's faces. 

" Cross my heart," murmured Tayna, with a twitch 
of her slender finger across her breast. 

" And hope to die," added Dick, with a funeral solem- 



ONE MAN AND ANOTHER 25 

nity, as he completed Tayna's cross by a vertical move- 
ment of a stubby thumb in the direction of his own wish- 
bone of a breast 

Hampstead looked relieved. 

" But," affirmed Tayna stoutly, " they are not play se- 
crets. They are real secrets. Aren't they?" 

John looked up at his motto again. 

" Yes," he said in a low, determined voice. " They 
are real secrets." 

" And," half -declared, half-questioned Dick, " if you 
aren't President, you are going to be some other kind of 
a very great man ? 

" Aren't you ? " the boy persisted, .when Hampstead 
was silent. 

" Tell you to-morrow," laughed John. " Good night, 
ghosts!" and with a swift assault of his lips upon the 
cheeks of either, he gently impelled them toward the door. 

" Good night, your Excellency ! " giggled Tayna. 

" Good night, my counselors," responded Hampstead, 
reaching for his book. 

An hour later Hampstead was still reading. Another 
hour later he was still reading. But something like a 
quarter of an hour beyond that, when it might have been, 
say, near half-past eleven, he was not reading. He was 
turning his head strangely from side to side and digging 
a knuckle into his eyes. A surprising thing had hap- 
pened. He could no longer see the lines upon the page 
nor the page itself nor the book nor anything! 

His first impression was that the gas had gone out ; but 
this swiftly gave way to the conviction that he had gone 
blind stone blind ! and so suddenly that it happened 
right between the beheading of one of the queens of 
Henry the Eighth and the marrying of another. -He was 
now tardily conscious that for some time his eyes had 
been giving him pain, that he had rubbed them periodi- 



26 HELD TO ANSWER 

cally to clear away white opacities that appeared upon the 
page; but now there was no pain; they were suffused 
with moisture, and the room was dark. 

After an interval he could make out the gaslight glow- 
ing feebly like the tiny glare of a candle visible in some 
distant pit of darkness, but he could discern no shapes 
about the room. Not one ! 

A horrible fear stole into his breast and chilled it. 
All of him had suddenly come to naught, and just as he 
was getting started. He turned futile, streaming orbs 
lip to where his new-made motto should loom upon the 
wall. It was there, of course, mocking at him now; but 
he could not see it. He could not see the wall even. 
For fully five minutes he sat in darkness, his hands 
clasped above his bowed head. Then he arose and 
.groped his way along the wall to the door and opened it, 
and stood facing out into the grotesque dark of the 
studio. He thought of trying to grope his way across it 
of calling out but decided to wait a few minutes. 

He felt stricken, broken, overwhelmed. His life, his 
career, himself were ruined. He required time to get 
used to the sensation, time to adjust his mind to the ex- 
tent of the calamity and to gather some elements of for- 
titude wherewith to face the world. Not even Rose must 
see him broken and shattered as he felt right now. 

Turning back, he closed the door, felt his way to the 
gas, and turned it off. He had no need of gas now. 
Then he lay down, fully clothed, upon the bed, with a 
cold cloth upon his eyes, thinking flightily and feeling 
very sorry for himself. 




He felt stricken, broken, overwhelmed. Page 26. 



CHAPTER III 

WHEN THE DARK WENT AWAY 



513 

General Freight Department 
CALIFORNIA CONSOLIDATED 
RAILWAY COMPANY 

ROBERT MITCHELL, 

General Freight Agent. 

Walk in! 



THIS was the sign on the door that John Hampstead 
had opened every morning for seven years. This morn- 
ing he did not open it, and there was something like con- 
sternation when as late as nine-thirty the chair of the big, 
amiable, stenographic drudge was still vacant Old Heit- 
muller, the chief clerk, after swearing his way helplessly 
from one point of the compass to another, was about to 
dispatch the office boy to Hampstead's residence. 

Inside, and unaware of all this pother, sat the General 
Freight Agent. Big of body, with the topography of 
his father's heath upon his wide face, soft in the heart 
and hard in the head, Robert Mitchell was a man of no 
airs. His origin was probably shanty Irish, and he didn't 
care who suspected it. By painful labor, a ready smile, 
a hearty laugh, a square deal to his company and as square 
a deal to the public as he could give " consistently " 
he had got to his present modest eminence. He was go- 
ing higher and was not particular who suspected that 



28 HELD TO ANSWER 

either; but was not boastful, had the respect of all men 
who knew him well, and the affection of those who knew 
him intimately. 

He sat just now in a thoroughly characteristic pose, 
with the stubby fingers of one fat hand thoughtfully 
teasing a wisp of reddish brown hair, while his shrewd 
blue eyes were screwing at the exact significance of the 
top letter on a pile before him. 

Over in a corner was Mitchell's guest and vast superior, 
Maiden H. Hale, the president of the twelve thousand 
miles of shining steel which made up the Great South- 
western Railway System, in which Mitchell's little road 
nestled like a rabbit in the maw of a python. Mr. Hale 
was signing some letters dictated yesterday to John, find- 
ing them paragraphed and punctuated to his complete 
satisfaction, with here and there a word better than his 
own looming up in the context. For a time there was no 
sound save the scratching of his pen and the fillip of the 
sheets as he turned them over. Then he chuckled softly, 
and presently spoke. 

" Bob," he said, " that's an odd genius, that stenog- 
rapher out there." 

" Yes," replied Mr. Mitchell absently, without looking 
up from his work, and then suddenly he stabbed the at- 
mosphere \vith a significant rising inflection : " Genius ? " 

" Well, yes," affirmed Mr. Hale. " Genius! He im- 
presses you first as absurdly incompetent, but his work- 
manship is really superior, and later you get a sugges- 
tion of something back of him, something buried that 
might come out, you know." 

" I used to think so," the General Freight Agent re- 
plied, with a tone which indicated loss of interest in the 
subject, but being tardily overtaken in his reading by a 
sense that he had not quite done justice to the big stenog- 
rapher, he broke the silence to add : " He is a fine char- 



29 

acter. He has very high thoughts," vacancy was in 
his eye for a moment, " so high they're cloudy." 

And that was all. Mr. Hale made no further com- 
ment. Mr. Mitchell, a just man, was satisfied that he 
had done justice. Thus in the minds of two arbiters 
of the destinies of many men, John Hampstead, loyal, 
laborious, who had served faithfully for seven years, was 
lifted for a moment until the sun of prospect flashed upon 
him, lifted and then dropped. And they did not even 
know that nature, too, had dropped him, that he was 
blind. 

But just then a privileged person knocked and entered 
without waiting for an invitation. The newcomer was 
Doctor Gallagher, the " Company " oculist, his fine, dark 
eyes aglow with sympathy and importance. 

" That boy Hampstead," he began abruptly, " is in bad 
shape." 

" Hampstead ! " ejaculated Mr. Mitchell antagonisti- 
cally, as if it were impossible that lumbering mass of bone 
and muscle could ever be in bad shape. 

" Yes," affirmed the physician, with the air of one who 
announces a sensation, " he's likely to go blind ! " 

" No! " ejaculated Mr. Mitchell, in still more emphatic 
tones of disbelief, though his blue eyes opened wide and 
grew round with shock and sympathetic apprehension. 

" Yes," explained Doctor Gallagher volubly. " Con- 
tinual transcription, the sweep of the eye from the note- 
book page to the machine and back, year in and year out, 
for so long, has broken down the muscular system of 
the eye. He had a blind spell last night. He can see 
all right this morning. But to let him go to work would 
be criminal. I have him in the Company Hospital for 
two weeks of absolute rest, and then he will be all right. 
But the typewriter, never again ! You can put him on 
the outside to solicit freight, or something like that." 



30 HELD TO ANSWER 

A broad grin overspread the features of the General 
Freight Agent. " You don't know John," he said. 
" That boy would die of nervousness the first day out. 
He's afraid of people. Besides," went on Mitchell, " we 
couldn't get along without him. He knows too much 
that nobody else knows." 

" Well, anyway, never again the typewriter ! " com- 
manded the doctor from the door, getting out quickly 
and hurrying away with the consciousness of duty ex- 
tremely well performed. He knew that he had exagger- 
ated the extent of John's eye-trouble; but he believed that 
it was necessary to exaggerate it, both to Hampstead and 
to Mr. Mitchell. 

In his darkened room at the hospital, John was feeling 
somehow suddenly honored of destiny. People w r ere 
thinking, talking, caring about him. There was exalta- 
tion just in that. But also he was fuming. He wasn't 
ill. He was simply confined. He could not read. He 
could not write. He could do nothing but sit in a dark- 
ened room according to prescription, and wait. But on 
the third day Doctor Gallagher said : 

" As soon as it is dusk, you may go out for a swift 
walk. That's to get exercise. Keep off the main 
streets ; keep away from bright lights, do not try to read 
signs, to recognize people, or in fact to look at anything 
closely." 

John leaped eagerly at this permission, but there was 
design in his devotion to the new prescription of which 
the doctor knew nothing. On the fifth day of his con- 
finement, Tayna and Dick, who had been coming every 
afternoon to sit for an hour in the semi-darkness with 
their uncle, surprised the interned one doing odd con- 
tortions in the depths of his room: twisting his wrists; 
standing on one foot like a stork and twirling his great 
heel and toe from the knee in some eccentric imitation of 



WHEN THE DARK WENT AWAY 31 

a ballet dancer ; then creeping to and fro across the room 
in a silly series of bowings and scrapings and salutings 
that threw Dick into irrepressible laughter. Caught 
shamefacedly in the very midst of these absurdities, 
John confessed to the two of them what he would at the 
moment have confessed to no other living being last 
of all to Bessie. 

" I am taking lessons," he said, " from an actor. He 
is going to make me easy and graceful, so people won't 
call me awkward any more nor homely," and he looked 
significantly at Tayna. 

" Oh," the children both gasped respectfully, and re- 
peated with a kind of awe in their voices : " From an 
actor!" 

" Yes. Every evening the doctor lets me go for a walk. 
On every other one of these walks I go to the actor's 
hotel, and he teaches me." 

" Awh ! An actor-r-r ! " breathed Dick again, his fea- 
tures depicting profoundness both of impression and 
speculation. 

" Say ! " he proposed presently. " I would rather you 
would be an actor than a president, anyway." 

John laughed. " I am not going to be an actor," he 
said, " I am only going to be polished till I shine like a 
human diamond." And then he devoted himself to the 
entertainment of his callers. 

" Remember ! Never again the typewriter ! " the 
physician adjured sternly, when the fortnight of John's 
captivity was done. For although conveying this ver- 
dict immediately to Mitchell, the doctor had postponed 
its announcement to his patient till his discharge from the 
hospital. John was stunned. The typewriter was his 
bread. At first he rebelled, but with a rush like the swirl 
of waters over his head, the memory of that night when 
he was blind for an hour came to him and humbled him. 



32 HELD TO ANSWER 

With the trembling courage of a coward, he opened 
the door of room 513; saw with sickening heart the 
strange face at his desk, shook the flabby hand of Heit- 
muller, and inwardly braced himself to enter for the last 
time between the double doors, where presently he con- 
fessed his plight as if it had been a crime. 

" You don't imagine we would let you go, do you? " 
Mr. Mitchell asked, while an expression of amazement 
grew upon his face till it became a laugh. " Why, Jack " 
Mr. Mitchell had never called him Jack before " we 
should have to pay you a salary just to stick around and 
keep the rest of us straight." 

The stenographer gulped. It was not the first note of 
praise he had ever received from this kindly railroad 
man, but it was the first time Mr. Mitchell or any one 
else in that whole office had ever acknowledged to John 
that he was valuable for what he knew as \vell as for 
what he beat out of his finger-tips. 

" You are going to be my private secretary," explained 
Mr. Mitchell, still chuckling at the simplicity of John. 
" I have few letters to write, and you know enough to do 
most of them without dictation. You keep me reminded 
of things; handle my telephone calls and appointments. 
Gallagher says your eyes will probably give you no trouble 
whatever under these conditions. The salary will be fif- 
teen dollars more a month." 

The big awkward man w r as too confusedly grateful 
and overwhelmed even to attempt to murmur his thanks. 
Instead, he did a thing of unheard-of boldness. He 
reached over and touched the General Freight Agent on 
the arm, just stabbed him in the upper, fleshy part of 
the arm with a thrust of his stiff fingers, accompanying 
the act with a monosyllabic croak. It was a clumsy 
touch, and it was presuming ; but to a man of understand- 
ing, it was eloquent. 



33 

After one month in this new position, John found him- 
self seeing the transportation business through new 
glasses. He had passed from details to principles, and 
the change stimulated his mind enormously. 

One of his new duties now was to sit at the General 
Freight Agent's elbow in conferences, and later to make 
summaries of the arguments pro and con. In transcrib- 
ing Mr. Mitchell's part of these talks, it interested John 
to elaborate a little. Soon he ventured to make the 
General Freight Agent's points stronger when he felt it 
could be done, and then waited, after laying the transcript 
on the big man's desk, for some word of reproof. Re- 
proof did not come, and yet John thought the changes 
must be noticed. 

But one day H. B. Anderson, Assistant General Freight 
Agent of the San Francisco and El Paso, a rival line, 
was in the office. 

" Mitchell," Anderson began, " I am compelled to ad- 
mit your argument reads a blamed sight stronger than 
it sounded to me the other day." 

At this the General Freight Agent laughed compla- 
cently. 

" The point about the demurrage especially," went on 
Anderson. " I didn't remember that somehow." 

" Um," said the General Freight Agent in a puzzled 
way and picked up the transcript of the argument. As he 
scanned it, his face grew more puzzled ; then light broke. 
;< Yes," he replied emphatically, " that's the strongest 
point, in my judgment." 

" Well," confessed Anderson, " it knocks me out. I 
am now agreeable to your construction." 

The private secretary listened from his little cubby-hole 
with mingled exultation and apprehension. When the 
visitor had gone, the General Freight Agent walked in 
and tossed the transcript upon the secretary's table. John 



34 HELD TO ANSWER 

looked up timidly. The Mitchell brow was ridged and 
thoughtful. 

" Hampstead," he declared with an air of grave re- 
luctance, " I guess I'll have to lose you, after all." 

" What, sir," gasped John, guilty terror shaking him 
somewhere inside. 

At the change in John's face, Mitchell threw back his 
head and laughed; one of those huge, hearty, bellowing 
laughs at his own humor, from which he extracted so 
much enjoyment. 

" Yes," he specified, " I am going to put you in the rate 
department. You have the making of a great railroad 
man in you. ( What you need now is the fundamentals. 
That's where you get 'em. Your brains are coming out, 
John. I always thought you had 'em, but it certainly 
took you a long time to get any of them into the show 
window." 

" It was seven years before you let me get to the win- 
dow at all," suggested John, meaning to be a little bit 
vengeful. 

" Nobody's fault but yours, my boy," said the G. F. 
A. brusquely, over his shoulder. " By the way," he re- 
marked, turning back again, " you aren't afraid of people 
any more, either." 

John flushed with pleasure. This was really the most 
desirable compliment Mitchell could bestow. 

" I think I am getting a little more confidence in my- 
self," the big man confessed, glowing modestly. 

This was what three months of Kenton and " old 
Delsarte", as the actor called the great French apostle 
of intelligible anatomy, had done for John. 

But Kenton and " old Delsarte " were doing something 
else to John that was vastly more serious, but of which 
Robert Mitchell received no hint until nearly a year 
later, when the knowledge came to him suddenly with a 



WHEN THE DARK WENT AWAY 35 

shock that jarred and almost disconcerted him. It was 
somewhere about noon of a day in February, and he had 
just touched the button for John Hampstead, rate clerk. 
Instead of John, Heitmuller answered the summons, 
laughing softly. 

Now in the rate department John had made an amaz- 
ing success. In six months gray-headed clerks were 
seeking his opinions earnestly. At the present moment 
he was in charge of all rates west of Ogden, Albuquerque, 
and El Paso, and half the department took orders from 
him. 

" John's away at rehearsal," explained Heitmuller, still 
chuckling. 

"At rehearsal?" 

" Yes, he's going to play Ursus, the giant, in Quo 
Vadis, with Mowrey's Stock Company at the Burbank 
next week." 

" The hell ! " ejaculated the General Freight Agent, 
while a look of blank astonishment came upon his usually 
placid features. " When did that bug bite him ? " 

" I can't tell yet whether it's a bite or only an itch," 
grinned Heitmuller. " For a while he was reciting at 
smokers and parties and things, and then I heard he was 
teaching elocution at home nights. Now he's got a small 
dramatic company and goes out around giving one-act 
plays and scenes from Shakespeare. Pretty good, too, 
they say ! " 

" Well, I be damned," Mitchell commented, when Heit- 
muller had finished. 

" He's only away from eleven-thirty to one-thirty," ex- 
plained Heitmuller. " He was so anxious and does so 
much more work than any two men that I couldn't refuse 
him." 

" Of course not," assented Mitchell. 

" Besides," added the chief clerk, " he might have gone, 



36 HELD TO ANSWER 

anyway. John's getting a little headstrong, I've noticed, 
since he's coming out so fast." 

" Naturally," observed Mitchell drily, after which he 
dismissed Heitmuller and appeared to dismiss the subject 
by turning again to his desk. 



CHAPTER IV 

ADVENT AND ADVENTURE 

BUT the General Freight Agent took care that Mrs. 
Mitchell, Bessie, and himself were in a box at the Bur- 
bank on the following Monday night, when the curtain 
went up on the Mowrey Stock Company's sumptuous 
production of Quo Vadis, which for more than nine days 
was the talk of the town in the city of angels, oranges, 
atmosphere, and oil. The Mitchells strained their eyes 
for a sight of their late-grown protege, but it appeared he 
was not " on." However, in the midst of a garden scene 
with Roman lords, ladies, soldiers in armor and slaves 
decking the view, there appeared a huge barbarian, long 
of hair and beard, his torso bound round with an immense 
bearskin, his sandals tied with thongs, his sinewy limbs 
apparently unclad, savage bands of silver upon his massy, 
muscled arms, the alpine ruggedness of his countenance 
and the light of a fanatical devotion that gleamed in his 
eye contributing in their every detail to make the crea- 
ture appear the thing the programme proclaimed him, 
" Ursus, a Christian Slave." 

But the programme claimed something more : that this 
Ursus was John Hampstead. 

Mitchell gaped and then rocked uneasily. The thing 
was unbelievable. If the man would only speak, per- 
haps some tone of voice but the man did not speak, not 
even move. He stood half in the background, far up the 
center of the stage, while the talk and action of the piece 
went on beneath his lofty brow, like some mountain tow- 



38 HELD TO ANSWER 

ering above a lakelet in which ripples sparkle and fish 
are leaping. At length, however, stage attention does 
center on Ursus, when the man enacting St. Peter, struck 
by the nature-man's appearance of gigantic strength, 
observes : 

" Thou art strong, my son? " 

The rugged human statue moved. In a voice that was 
low at first but broke quickly into reverberating tones 
which filled the theater to the rafters, the answer came : 

" Holy Father ! I can break iron like wood ! " 

As the speech was delivered, the eye of Ursus gleamed, 
the folded arms unbent, and one mighty muscle flexed 
the forearm through a short but significant arc, after 
which the figure resumed its pose of respectful but im- 
pressive immobility. 

In that single speech and gesture Hampstead had 
achieved a personal success and keyed the play as plau- 
sible, for by it he had come to birth before a theater- full 
as a character equal to the prodigious feats of strength 
upon which the action turned. 

" Go to the stable, Ursus ! " commanded an authori- 
tative voice. 

The huge head of the hairy man, with its crown of 
long, wild locks was inclined humbly, and with an odd, 
rolling stride suggestive of enormous animal-like 
strength, he swung deliberately across the scene and out 
of it. 

Robert Mitchell, staring fixedly, suddenly nodded his 
head with satisfaction. At last, in that careening walk, 
he had seen something that he recognized. That was 
the walk of Hampstead; but now Mitchell recalled it 
was long since he had seen that gait, long since he had 
heard the office door reverberate from a bang of one of 
those hip joints, long since the big man had made any 
conspicuous exhibition of the physical awkwardness that 



ADVENT AND ADVENTURE 39 

once had been so characteristic. And now? Why now 
John was an actor. Not Nero yonder, harp in hand, 
looked more nearly like his part. Hampstead had put on 
the pose, the voice, the walk, as he had put on the bear- 
skin and the beard. 

"Isn't he w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l ? " breathed Bessie, with a 
little squeeze of her father's arm. 

Mitchell laughed amiably and reached out for the 
curling lock upon his brow which was his mainstay in 
time of mental shipwreck and began to twist it, while 
he waited impatiently to see more of Ursus. 

But the play appeared to have forgotten Ursus. A 
great party was on in the palace of Caesar. The stage 
was alive with lights and music, and with the movements 
of many people senators in togas, generals in armor, 
women with jewels in their hair and golden bands upon 
their white, gracefully swelling arms. There was drink- 
ing and laughter and high carousal. In right center, 
Caesar upon his throne was singing and pretending to 
strike notes from a harp of pasteboard and gilt, notes 
which in reality proceeded from the orchestra pit. At 
lower left upon a couch sat Lygia, the Christian maiden, 
beautiful beyond imagining and being greatly annoyed 
by the love-makings of the half -intoxicated Roman 
soldier, Vinicius, who had laid aside his helmet and his 
sword, and was pleading with the lovely but embarrassed 
girl, at first upon his knees, then standing, with one knee 
upon the couch, while he trailed his fingers luxuriously 
through the glossy blackness of her hair. 

As the love-making proceeded, Lygia's apprehension 
grew. When Vinicius pressed her tresses to his lips, she 
shrank from him. When, after another cup of wine and 
just as the whole court was in raptures over the con- 
clusion of Caesar's song, Vinicius attempted to place his 
kisses yet more daringly, Lygia started up with a cry of 



40 HELD TO ANSWER 

terror. Instantly there sounded from the wings a bel- 
lowing roar of rage, and like a flying fury, the wild, 
hairy figure of Ursus came bounding upon the scene. 

Seizing Vinicius by the shoulders, Ursus shook him 
till all his harness rattled, then hurled him up stage and 
crashing to the floor. Lygia was swaying dizzily as if 
about to faint, but with another leap Ursus had gained 
her side and swung her into his arms, after which he 
turned and went hurdling across the stage, running in 
long, springing strides as lightly as a deer, the fair, de- 
licious form of the girl balanced buoyantly on his arms, 
while her dark hair streamed out and downward over his 
shoulder all of this to the complete consternation of the 
half-drunken Court of Caesar and the vast and tumul- 
tuously expressed delight of the audience, which kept the 
curtain frisking up and down repeatedly over this cli- 
matic conclusion of the second act, while the principals 
posed and bowed and posed again and bowed again, to 
the audience, to themselves, and to the scenery. Robert 
Mitchell even, supposed that Ursus was bowing to him, 
so being naturally polite and somewhat beside himself, 
the General Freight Agent was on the point of bowing 
back again when Bessie screamed : 

" Oh ! Oh ! He bowed directly at me." 

By this time, however, the curtain had recovered from 
its frenzy and stayed soberly down while the lights came 
up so the people could read the advertisements on the 
front. Immediately the tongues of the audience were all 
a-buzz, and industriously passing up and down the lines 
of the seats was the information that John Hampstead 
was a local character. " Oh, yes, indeed, instructor in 
public speaking at the Young Men's Christian Associa- 
tion." 

In due course, this piece of interesting information 
reached the Mitchells in their box. 



ADVENT AND ADVENTURE 41 

" I knew it all along," gurgled Bessie proudly. 

" I begin to be jealous," announced Mrs. Mitchell, 
broad of face, expansive of heart, aggressive of disposi- 
tion. " I want all these people to know that Ursus is our 
rate clerk." 

" And I want them to know," said Mr. Mitchell, by 
way of venting his disapproval, " that he is spoiling a 
mighty good rate clerk to make a mighty poor actor." 

" But," pouted the loyal Bessie, " he is not a poor actor. 
He's a^v-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l actor ! You are spoiling the plain 
truth to make a poor epigram. You," and she looked 
up pertly at her father, " you are just a bunch of sour 
grapes! You kept my poor Jack's nose on the grind- 
stone so long that he broke out in a new place, and now 
you are afraid you'll lose him." 

" Your poor Jack ! " sneered Mrs. Mitchell merrily. 

" Yes mine ! " answered Bessie stoutly. " I always 
told you Jack Hampstead was a great man in disguise. 
I saw him first before he saw himself, almost. I'm 
going to be his friend for always and for always. Oh, 
look there ! " 

The curtain had gone up on an odd, out-of-the-way 
corner of the imperial city. There had been some col- 
loquy over the gate of a small close, participated in by 
the vibrant voice of an unseen Ursus and the calmer one 
of a visible St. Peter, after which the gate opened and 
Ursus entered, bearing the still fainting form of Lygia 
in his arms; giving, of course, the desired impression that 
this fair figure of a woman had been nestling on his great 
bosom ever since the curtain went down some twelve 
minutes before, an inference that led some of the clerks 
in the General Freight Office and other persons scattered 
through the audience, to envy John. This presumption, 
however, was some distance from the truth. As a matter 
of fact, Lygia had but recently resumed her position in 



42 HELD TO ANSWER 

the arms of Ursus, while two stage hands, lying prone, 
had plucked open the gate; and various happenings quite 
unsuspected of the audience had intervened, at least one 
of which had been a severe shock to the Puritan nature 
of John Hampstead. 

However, there was the dramatic impression already 
referred to, and it ate its way like acid into the con- 
sciousness of at least one person in the playhouse. 

Ursus, after looking about him for a moment in the 
little yard of the Christian's house to make sure he was 
entirely surrounded by friends, drew his fair burden 
closer and, as if by a protective instinct, bent over it 
with a look of tenderness so long and concentrated that 
his flaxen beard toyed with the white cheek, and his flaxen 
locks gleamed for a moment amid the raven ones. 

" Well," commented Bessie, in a tone that mingled 
sharp annoyance with that judicially critical note which 
is the right of all high-school girls in their last year, " I 
do not see any dramatic necessity for prolonging this. 
Why doesn't he stick her face under the fountain there 
for a moment and then lay her on the grass ? " 

Mercifully, Bessie was not compelled to contain her 
annoyance too long. Ursus did eventually relinquish his 
hold upon the lady, and the piece moved on from scene 
to scene to the final holocaust of Rome. 

With the news instinct breaking out above the critical, 
the dramatic columns of the morning papers gave the 
major stickful of type to the performance of that his- 
trionic athlete, John Hampstead, forgetting to mention 
his connection with the Y. M. C. A., but making clear 
that in daylight he \vas a highly respected member of the 
staff of Robert Mitchell, the well-known railroad man. 

But to John, the process of conversion from rate clerk 
to actor had been even more exciting than the demonstra- 
tion of the fact proved to his friends. 



ADVENT AND ADVENTURE 43 

To begin with, it was an experience quite unforgettable 
to the chairman of the Prayer Meeting Committee of the 
Christian Endeavor Society of the grand old First Church 
when for the first time he found himself upon the stage 
of the Burbank at rehearsal time, with twenty-five or 
thirty real actors and actresses about him. He looked 
them over curiously, w r ith a puritanic instinct for moral 
appraisal, as they stood, lounged, sat, gossiped, smoked, 
laughed or did several of these things at once; yet all 
keeping a wary eye and ear for the two men who sat at 
the little table in the center of the bare, empty stage with 
their heads together over a manuscript. 

" Just about like other people," confessed Hampstead 
to himself, with something of disappointment. 

There were some tailor suited women, there were some 
smartly dressed young men, there were some very nice 
girls, not more than a whit different in look and manner 
from the typists in the general office. There were two 
or three gray-haired men who, so far as appearance and 
demeanor went, might have served as deacons of the First 
Church. There were a couple of dignified, matronly- 
looking elderly ladies with fancy-work or mending in 
their laps, as they swayed to and fro in the wicker rockers 
that were a part of the furnishings for Act II of the 
play then running. These two ladies, so far as John 
could see, might have been respectively President of the 
Ladies' Aid and of the ; Woman's Missionary Society, in- 
stead of what they were, " character old women," as he 
later learned. 

Totaling his impressions, Mowrey's Stock Company 
seemed like a large exclusive family in which he was 
suffered but not seen. Nobody introduced him to any- 
body. Mowrey merely threw him a glance, and that was 
not of recognition but of observation that he was pres- 
ent. 



44 HELD TO ANSWER 

" First act ! " snapped the manager, with a voice as 
sharp as the clatter of the ruler with which he rapped upon 
the table. Stepping forward, prompt book in one hand, 
ruler in the other for a pointer, he began to outline the 
scene upon the bare stage : 

" This chair is a tree that stage brace is a bench 
this box is a rock," and so forth. 

The rehearsal had begun. It moved swiftly, for Mow- 
rey was a man with snap to him. His words were 
quick, nervous, few until angry. His glance was im- 
perative. It was all business, hot, relentless pressure of 
human beings into moulds, like hammering damp sand 
in a foundry. 

" Go there ! Stand here ! Laugh ! Weep ! Look 
pleased ! Feign intoxication ! " Each short word was 
a blow of Mowrey's upon the wet human sand. 

John's name was never mentioned. Mowrey called 
him by the name of his part, Ursus. Ursus was " on " in 
the first act, but with nothing to do, and his eyes were 
wide with watching. One woman in particular attracted 
him. She was tall and shapely, clad in a close-fitting 
tailored suit, with hat and veil that seemed to match both 
her garments and herself. She moved through her part 
with a kind of distinguished nonchalance, her veil half 
raised, and a vagrant fold of it flicking daringly at a rosy 
spot on her cheek when she turned suddenly; while in 
her gloved hands she held a short pencil with which, from 
time to time, additional stage directions were noted upon 
the pages of her part. This accomplished and really 
beautiful young actress was Miss Marien Dounay, one of 
the two leading women of the company. 

Hampstead was inexperienced of women. He con- 
fessed it now to himself. But this was to be the day of 
his opportunity, and he felt the blood of adventure leap- 
ing in his veins. In his consciousness, too, floated little 



ADVENT AND ADVENTURE 45 

arrows like indicators, and as if by common agreement, 
they pointed their heads toward Miss Dounay. 

If it were she now who played Lygia? Yes; it was 
she. They were calling her Lygia. Hampstead smiled 
to himself. Presently he chuckled softly, and the 
chuckle appeared to loose a small avalanche of new-born 
emotions that leaped and jumbled somewhere inside. 

But the first encounter was disappointing. Miss 
Dounay seized him by the arm, without a glance, her 
eyes being fixed on Mowrey, and led the big man out 
of the scene exactly as if he had been a wooden Indian 
on rollers. 

" Now," she said, " you have just carried me off." 
Her voice had wonderful tones in it, tones that started 
more avalanches inside; but she appeared as unconscious 
of the tones and their effect as of him. She was making 
another note in her part. 

" Better practice that ' carry off stage ' before we try 
it at rehearsal," called the sharp voice of Mowrey. His 
eyes and his remark were addressed to Miss Dounay. 
Miss Dounay nodded. 

" Shall we ? " she said, and looked straight at Hamp- 
stead, giving him his first glance into self-confident eyes 
which were clear, brownish-black, with liquescent, un- 
sounded depths. In form it was a question she had 
asked ; in effect it was a command from a very cool and 
business-like young person. 

" I presume we had better," said John, affecting a fool- 
ish little laugh, which did not, however, get very far be- 
cause the earnest air of Miss Dounay was inhospitable to 
levity. 

" See here ! " she instructed. " I throw up my arms in 
a faint. My left arm falls across your right shoulder. 
At the same time I give a little spring with my right leg, 
and I throw up my left leg like this. At the same instant 



46 HELD TO ANSWER 

you throw your right arm under my shoulders, your left 
arm gathers my legs ; I will hold 'em stiff. There ! " 

Miss Dounay's arm was on John's shoulder, and she 
was preparing to suit the res of her action to her words. 
" Without any effort to lift me," she continued, talking 
now into his ear, " I will be extended in your arms. All 
you have to do is to be taking your running stride as I 
come to you, and after that to hold me poised while you 
bound off the stage. Can you do it ? " 

With this crisp, challenging question on her lips, Miss 
Dounay completed the proposed manoeuvre of her lower 
limbs, and John found himself with the long, exquisitely 
moulded body of a beautiful woman balancing in his arms, 
while a foolish quiver passed over him and shook him till 
he actually trembled. 

"Am I so heavy?" asked a matter-of-fact voice from 
his shoulder. 

'* You are not heavy at all," replied Hampstead, hotly 
provoked at himself. 

" Run, then," she commanded. 

The resultant effort was a few staggering, ungraceful 
steps. 

" Dounay weighs a hundred and fifty if she weighs an 
ounce," said a passing voice. 

John, all chagrin as he deposited the lady upon her 
feet, saw her lip curl, and her dark eyes flash scornfully 
at the leading juvenile man who, with grimacing intent 
to tease, had made the remark to the ingenue as both 
passed near. 

"Insolence!" hissed Miss Dounay after the scoffer, 
and turned again to Hampstead, speaking sharply. 
" Very bad ! You must be in your running stride when 
my weight falls on you. ( We must practice." 

And practice they did, at every spare moment of the 
rehearsal during the entire week. From these " prac- 







A foolish quiver passed over him and shook him till he 
actually trembled. Page 46. 



ADVENT AND ADVENTURE 47 

tices ", Hampstead learned an unusual number of things 
about women which, in his limited experience, he had 
either not known or which had not been brought home to 
him before. Some of these he presumed applied gener- 
ally to all women; others, he had no doubt, were par- 
ticular to Miss Dounay. 

As, for instance, when he looked down at her face 
where it lay in the curve of his arm, he saw that the oval 
outline of her cheeks was startlingly perfect; that there 
were pools of liquid fire in her eyes; that her lips were 
beautifully and naturally red; that they were long, pliable, 
sensitive, with fleeting curves that raced like ripples upon 
these shores of velvet and ruby, expressing as they ran an 
infinite variety of passing moods. The chin, too, came in 
for a great deal of this attention. It was round and 
smooth at the corners, with a delicately chiseled vertical 
cleft in it, which at times ran up and met a horizontal cleft 
that appeared beneath the lower lip, when any slight 
breath of displeasure brought a pout to that ruby, pendant 
lobe. This meeting-place of the two clefts formed a kind 
of transitory dimple, a trysting-place of all sorts of fugi- 
tive attractions which exercised a singular fascination for 
the big man. 

He used to wonder what the sensation would be like 
to sink his lips in that precious, delectable valley. It 
would have been physically simple. A slight lifting of 
his right arm and shoulder, a slight declension of his 
neck, and the mere instinctive planting of his lips, and 
the thing was done. However, John had no thought 
of doing this. In the first place he wouldn't without 
permission; for he was a man of honor and of self-con- 
trol. In the second place, he wouldn't because a woman 
was a thing very sacred to him, and a kiss, a deliberate 
and flesh-tingling kiss, was a caress to be held as sacred 
as the woman herself and for the expression of an emo- 



48 HELD TO ANSWER 

tion he had not yet felt for any woman ; a statement which 
to the half-cynical might prove again that John Hamp- 
stead was a very inexperienced and very monk-minded 
youth indeed to be abroad in the unromanticism of this 
twentieth century. Yet the fact remains that Hampstead 
did not consciously conspire to violate the neutrality of 
this tiny, alluring haunt of tantalizing beauty which lurked 
bewitchingly between the red lower lip and the white firm 
chin of Miss Marien Dounay. 

But there were other things that John was learning 
swiftly, some of which amounted to positive disillusion- 
ment. One was that a woman's body is not necessarily 
so sacred nor so inviolate, after all. That instead of in- 
violate, it may be made inviolable by a sort of desexing 
at will. Miss Dounay could do this and did do it, so 
that for instance when her form stiffened in his arms, it 
was no more like what he supposed the touch of a 
woman's body should be than a post. In the first place 
the body itself, beneath that trim, tailored suit, appeared 
to be sheathed in steel from the shoulder almost to the 
knee. John had supposed that corsets were to confine the 
waist. This one, if that were what it was and not some 
sort of armor put on for these rehearsals, encased the 
whole body. 

Another thing that contributed to this desexing of the 
female person was Miss Dounay's bearing toward him- 
self. He might have been a mere mechanical device for 
any regard she showed him at rehearsals. She pushed 
or pulled him about, commanded the bend and adjust- 
ment of his arms as if he had been an artificial man, and 
never by any hint indicated that she thought of him as a 
person, least of all as a male person. Undoubtedly this 
robbed his new adventure of some of its spice. But a 
change came. When for five days John was undecided 
whether he should admire this manner of hers as supreme 



ADVENT AND ADVENTURE 49 

artistic abstraction or resent it as supercilious disdain, 
Margaret O'Neil, one of the character old ladies who had 
constituted herself a combination of critic and chaperone 
of these " carry " practices, turned, after a word with 
Miss Dounay, and said : 

" We should like to know who it is that is carrying us 
about." 

" Why, certainly," exclaimed John, all his doubt dis- 
appearing in a toothful smile as he swept off his hat. 
" My name is Hampstead, John Hampstead." 

" Miss Dounay, allow me to present Mr. Hampstead," 
said Miss O'Neil, without the moulting of an eyelash. 

Miss Dounay extended her hand cordially for a lofty, 
English handshake, accompanied by an agreeable smile 
and a chuckling laugh, understood by John to be in 
recognition of the oddness of the situation. 

After this, things were somewhat different. There 
was less sense of strain on his part, and he began to 
realize that there had been some strain upon hers which 
now was relaxed. Her body was less post-like; and to- 
ward the end of rehearsal, when possibly she was a little 
tired, it lay in his arms quite placidly, relaxing until its 
curves yielded and conformed to the muscular lines of 
his own torso. 

Yet Miss Dounay never betrayed the slightest self- 
consciousness at such moments. Whatever the woman 
as woman might be, she was, as an actress, so absolutely 
devoted to the creation of the character she was rehears- 
ing, so painstakingly careful to reproduce in every detail 
of tone and action the true impression of a pure-minded, 
Christian maiden that Hampstead, with his firm religious 
backgrounding, unhesitatingly imputed to the woman her- 
self all the virtues of the chaste and incomparable Lygia. 

.When dress-rehearsal time came at midnight on Sun- 
day, just after the regular performance had been con- 



50 HELD TO ANSWER' 

eluded, and John saw Miss Dounay for the first time in the 
dress of the character, his soul was enraptured. The 
simple folds of her Grecian robe were furled at the waist 
and then swept downward in one billowy leap, unrelieved 
in their impressive whiteness by any touch of color, save 
that afforded by the jet-bright eyes with their assumed 
worshipful look and the wide, flowing stream of her dark, 
luxuriant hair, which, loosely bound at the neck, waved 
downward to her hips. The devout curve of her ala- 
baster neck, the gleaming shoulders, the full, tapering, 
ivory arms, her sandaled bare feet yes, John looked 
close to make sure, and they were actually bare 
rounded out the picture. 

Marien Dounay stood forth more like an angel vision 
than a woman, at once so beautiful and so adorable that 
big, sincere, open-eyed John Hampstead worshipped her 
where she stood worshipped her and loved her as a 
man should love an angel. Yet as he looked, he was 
almost guiltily conscious that he knew a secret about this- 
angelic vision, that this chiseled flesh with rounded,, 
shapely contours that would be the despair of any sculp- 
tor was not as marble-like as it looked, was, indeed, soft 
to the touch and warm, radiant and magnetic. 

And John, blissfully aglow with his spiritual ardor, had 
no faint suspicion that his secret might kill his illusion 
dead, nor that his devotion would survive that decease,, 
although something very like this happened on the night 
of the first performance. 

The great second act was on. Things were not going 
as smoothly as they appeared to from the front. Even 
the inexperienced Hampstead, as he waited for his cue, 
could see that 'his angel was being enormously vexed by 
the manner in which Vinicius made love. Henry 
Lester was a brilliant actor, but flighty and erratic. Dur- 
ing rehearsal Mowrey had much trouble in getting him 



ADVENT AND ADVENTURE 51 

to memorize accurately the business of his part. He 
would do one thing one way to-day and forget it or re- 
verse it on the next. To-night Lester was committing 
all these histrionic crimes. Miss Dounay had contin- 
ually to adapt herself to his impulsive erraticisms, to 
shift speeches and alter business. The climax of ex- 
asperation came when one of the wide metal circlets upon 
his arm became entangled in the gossamer threads of 
Lygia's hair and pulled it painfully. Yet the actress was 
sufficiently accomplished to play her own part irreproach- 
ably and deliver John's cue at the right moment to secure 
the startling entrance already described, and thus to be 
gracefully and dramatically swept away from the rude 
advances of her importunate lover. 

It was at the end of this particular scene and off stage, 
when the curtain was descending to the accompaniment 
of applause from the audience, that the death of John's 
illusion came. For a delicious instant, he was still hold- 
ing Lygia from the floor as if instinctively sheltering her 
amidst the general confusion of crowding actors and 
hurrying stage hands. Nothing loth, she lay at rest, with 
eyes closed and features composed as if in the faint. To 
the raw, impressionable young man, Marien had never 
looked so much an angel as at this moment; and now 
she was coming to, as if still in character. Her eyelids 
fluttered but did not open, and then her lips moved 
slightly, stiffly, under their load of greasy carmine, as if 
she would speak. In self-forgetful ecstasy, Hampstead 
bent eagerly to receive the confidence. Perhaps she was 
going to thank him, to whisper a word of congratulation. 
Whatever the communication might be, his soul was in 
raptures of delightful anticipation as he felt her breath 
upon his cheek. 

The communication was made promptly and unhesi- 
tatingly, after which Miss Dounay alertly swung her feet 



52 HELD TO ANSWER 

to the floor and walked out upon the stage to receive her 
curtain call, leading Ursus by the hand, mentally dazed, 
inwardly wabbling, outwardly bowing, trying, in fact, 
to do just as the others did. But in John's mind now 
there was this numbing sense of shock, for he could not 
refuse to believe his ears, and what this angelic vision 
had breathed into them in tones of cool, emphatic convic- 
tion, was: 

" What a damn fool that man Lester is ! " 

Off the stage again Hampstead stumbled about amid 
flying scenery, racing stage hands, and a surging mass of 
supernumeraries, like a man recovering consciousness. He 
wanted to get out of sight somewhere. He had the feel- 
ing of having been stripped naked. Every vestige of his 
religious adoration had been dynamited out of existence. 
This was no Christian maiden but an actress playing a 
part. As for the woman herself, she was very blase and 
very modern, who, at this moment, as he could see by a 
glance into the open door of her -dressing room, was sit- 
ting with crossed knees, head back and enveloped in a 
halo of smoke, while her pretty lips were distended in a 
yawn, and the spark of a cigarette glowed in her finger 
tips. 

"And I am another!" Hampstead muttered, with a 
sneer that was aimed inward. 

Seven minutes later, Lygia walked out of her dressing 
room minus the cigarette and looking again that angel 
vision, but Hampstead knew better now. He viewed her 
at first critically and then reflectively; but was presently 
startled at the gist of his reflections, which was a sort of 
self-congratulation because this creature that he was 
about to take in his arms was not an angel, but that more 
alluring, less elusive thing, a woman. 

Two more minutes and the pair of stage hands were 
stretched stomach-wise upon the floor ready to swing 



ADVENT AND ADVENTURE 53 

open the wings of the gate at the cue from St. Peter, and 
Lygia was lying once more in John's arms. In the in- 
stant of waiting before the curtain rose, he had time to 
notice how contentedly and trustfully she appeared to 
nestle there. Her breathing was like his at first, easy 
and natural; but gradually, as the moment of suspense 
lengthened and the instant of action drew near, the rhyth- 
mic pulse of both bosoms accelerated, as if, heart on heart, 
their souls beat in unison. John was noticing, too, how 
soft Marien's body was where the armor did not extend, 
how deliciously warm it was, indeed how something like 
an ethereal heat radiated from it and filled all his veins 
with a strange, electric, impulsive wistfulness. What was 
that giddy perfume ? 

Involuntarily he drew her closer, with a gentle, steady 
pressure. At this she raised her eyelids and gazed at 
him for a moment, contemplatively first and then pas- 
sively curious, after which she lowered the lids again, 
while her lips half parted in a voiceless sigh. 

So far as Hampstead was concerned, illusion had gone. 
He knew that he was just a man. So far as Miss Dounay 
was concerned, he suspected that she was just a woman. 
But devotion remained. John did not relax his hold. 
Instead there was a momentary tightening of his arms. 

"Let 'er go," called the low, tense voice of Mowrey; 
and with a rustling sound the great curtain slipped slowly 
upward. 



CHAPTER V 

THE RATE CLERK 

THE week went by like a shot. On Sunday night the 
glory that was a very stagy Rome burned down for the 
last time beneath the gridiron of the old Burbank Theater. 
On Monday morning no odor of grease paint and no 
noxious smell of stewing glue, which proclaims the scene 
painter at his work, was in the nostrils of John. Instead, 
the clack of typewriters, the tinkle of telephone bells, the 
droning voices of dictators, and the shuffling feet of office 
boys filled his ears. 

As if to completely re-merge the man in his environ- 
ment, Robert Mitchell came walking in, tossed a bundle 
of papers upon the desk, fixed the rate clerk with a shaft 
of his blue eye, and commanded drily: 

" Ursus ! Make a set of tariffs embracing our new 
lines to correspond with the commodity tariffs of the San 
Francisco and El Paso." 

John colored slightly at the thrust of that name Ursus, 
but looked Mr. Mitchell fairly and meekly in the eye and 
answered : 

" Yes, sir." 

" Have them effective July ist," concluded the Gen- 
eral Freight Agent, as he turned away. 

Burman, the lordly through rate clerk, lowered his sleek 
face behind his books and snickered. John shot a scowl 
at Burman and then for a few minutes hunched his shoul- 
ders over the documents in the case. 

The California Consolidated was being consolidated 



THE RATE CLERK 55 

some more. Two more roads in the big system had just 
been pitchforked into the jurisdiction of Robert Mitchell, 
adding twelve hundred additional miles to his responsi- 
bility and pushing him several swift rounds up the ladder 
of promotion. 

These additions made the California Consolidated com- 
petitive with the San Francisco and El Paso lines at 
hundreds of new stations. John's job was to consolidate 
the freight tariffs of the three lines and make sure that 
they equalized the rates of the competitor at competing 
stations. It was an enormous task, and the General 
Freight Agent had breezily commanded it to be done in 
ten weeks. That was why Burman snickered. It was 
also why Hampstead scowled. 

Now a freight tariff starts youthfully out to be the 
most scientific thing in the world, but it ends by being 
the most utterly unscientific document that ever was put 
together. The longer a tariff lives, the more depraved 
it becomes. The S. F. & E. P. tariffs were very old, 
but not, therefore, 1 honorable. 

John turned to the shelf that contained them and 
scowled again, a double scowl, as black as his blond 
Viking brows could manage. These were to be his 
models. They were yellow a disagreeable color to 
"begin with, each a half inch thick and larger than a let- 
ter page, abortions, every one of them ! They were pea- 
vine growths like the monster system which issued them, 
cumbered with the adjustments and easements of the 
years. 

The flour tariff! The hay tariff! The grain tariff! 
John took these in his hands one by one and glowered 
at them. The mistakes, the . inconsistencies, the clumsi- 
ness of thirty sprawling years were in them. And he 
was asked to duplicate these confusions on his own sys- 
tem. 



56 HELD TO ANSWER 

Should he do it? No ; be hanged if he would ! He felt 
big and self-important as he slammed the first of them 
face down upon his desk and each thereafter in succes- 
sion upon its fellow, until the pile toppled over, after 
which, leaving the reckless heap behind him, while Bur- 
man snickered again, John stamped out of the room. 

" These S. F. & E. P. tariffs are so old they've got 
whiskers on 'em," he began to say to Mr. Mitchell, " and 
hairs ! And the hair has never been cut nor even combed. 
They have been tagged and fattened and trimmed and 
sliced and slewed round till the tariff is issued just to keep 
up the basis and the tradition, and then you look in some- 
thing else, an amendment, or a special, or a ' private 
special ', or sometimes the carbon copy of a letter, to find 
out what the rate actually is. Sometimes when I call 
their office up on the 'phone to get a rate, it takes 'em 
twenty-four hours to answer, and maybe a week later 
they notify me the answer was wrong. Our slate is 
clean; why not simmer the figures down to what is the 
actual basis instead of the assumed one, and publish the 
rates as we intend to charge 'em, and as we know they 
do charge 'em ? " 

Mitchell had listened with surprise at first to this rash 
proposal. It sounded youthful and impetuous. But it 
also sounded sensible. Mitchell hated red tape, and he 
knew that John's idea was the right one; but tradition 
was god on the S. F. & E. P. They would fight the in- 
novation and fight it hard ; they might win, too, and Mr. 
Mitchell had no stomach for tilting at windmills. How- 
ever, it might be a good thing for John, this fight ; might 
make him forget that foolish stage ambition of his; and 
if he won, might crown him so lustrously that of itself 
it would save him to a future already assuredly brilliant 
in the railroad business. 

" Do you think you could whip it out with 'em before 



THE RATE CLERK 57 

their faces, John, when the scrap comes?" Mr. Mitchell 
asked tentatively, but also by way of further firing the 
soul of the fighter. 

" I believe I could," replied John ardently. 

" Then go to it," said Mr. Mitchell tersely. 

And John went to it. 

But there was another man who had been shocked by 
John's theatrical venture, and that was the pastor of the 
First Church, who had his virtues, much as other men. 
His face was round and like his figure, full of fatness. 
He was a merry soul and loved a joke. He had a heart 
as tender as his sense of humor was keen. 

But beside his virtues, this man of God had also his 
convictions. His pulpit was no wash-wallowing craft. 
He steered her straight. To Heaven with Scylla! To 
Gehenna with Charybdis! Indeed, if there was one man 
in all Los Angeles who knew where he was going and all 
the rest of the world too, it was this same Charles Thomp- 
son Campbell, pastor of the aforesaid grand old First 
Church. Doctor Campbell's hair and eyes were black. 
His voice had the ultimate roar in it. When he stood 
up, locks flying, perspiration streaming, and thumped his 
pulpit with that fat doubled fist, the palm of which had 
been moulded in youth upon the handle of a plow, every 
nook and cranny of the auditorium echoed with the force 
of his utterance. But Doctor Campbell's convictions, 
like most people's, were only in part based upon knowl- 
edge. 

Some things in particular he wot not of yet scorned. 
One was the modern novel. Another was the stage? 
Shakespeare, Doctor Campbell admitted largely, had shed 
some sheen upon the stage and more upon literature ; but 
he never quoted Shakespeare. One could almost doubt 
if he had read him, and when Shakespeare came to town, 
he never went to see him. 



58 HELD TO ANSWER 

On the morning, therefore, when the good Doctor 
Campbell read in the papers that the youngest of his 
deacons had the night before made his debut as Ursus 
in Quo Vadis, he was not only pained but moved to self- 
reproach. Grief enveloped him. It thrust the sharp 
cleft of a frown into his smooth brow. It thrust his chin 
down upon his bosom and caused him to heave a tu- 
multuous sigh. He bowed his head beside his study 
table and then and there put up an earnest petition for 
the soul of John Hampstead. It was a sincere and nat- 
ural prayer, because Doctor Campbell was a sincere man 
and believed in the efficacy of prayer. 

Besides, he loved John Hampstead. The young man's 
impending fate stirred the minister deeply and caused 
him to reproach himself. In this mood, he dug out all 
his sermons on the stage, nine years of annual sermons 
on the influence of the drama, and read them sketchily 
and with disappointment. Paugh ! Piffle ! How weak 
and ineffective they seemed. He delved into his concord- 
ance for a text and found one. Then he drove his pen 
deep into his inkwell and began to write. 

The following Sunday night Doctor Campbell's red, 
excited features were seen dimly through dun, sulphurous 
clouds of brimstone and fire; but to the preacher's dis- 
may, John Hampstead was not present for fumigation. 
The reverend gentleman, in his unthinking goodness, had 
quite overlooked the fact that the play in which John was 
performing concluded on Sunday night instead of Satur- 
day night; and so while his pastor was hurling his fiery 
diatribes at that conspicuously assailable institution, the 
stage, Deacon Hampstead was blissfully bearing Marien 
Dounay about in his arms. 

But the next morning John read the sermon published 
in the newspaper. He had already noted that the more 
doubtful the sermon, the more likely it is to get into the 



THE RATE CLERK 59 

headlines, because from the editor's standpoint it thus 
becomes news, and late Sunday night, which is the scarcest 
hour of the whole week for news, there is more joy in 
the " city room " over one sermon that breathes the fiery 
spirit of sensation than over ninety and nine which need 
no hell and damnation in which to express the tender 
gospel of Jesus. John read it with a sense of wrath, of 
outrage, and of humiliation. That night he launched 
himself at the study door of his pastor. 

" I was very sorry you did not hear my sermon last 
night," began Doctor Campbell blandly, sensing the ad- 
vantage of striking first. 

" Brother Campbell, I have come to arraign you for 
that sermon," retorted John, with an immediate outburst 
of feeling. " I say that you spoke what you did not 
know. I say," and his voice almost broke with the weight 
of its own earnestness, " I say that you bore false wit- 
ness!" 

The amazed minister's mouth opened, but John re- 
pressed his utterance with a gesture. 

" You will say you preached your convictions. I say 
you preached your prejudice, your ignorance. I say you 
bore false witness against struggling women, against as- 
piring men, against those of whose bitter battlings you 
know nothing." 

The Reverend Charles Thompson Campbell leaned back 
aghast. No man had ever presumed to talk to him like 
this, no man of twice his years and spiritual attainments; 
yet here was this stripling not only talking to him like 
this, but with a fervor of unction in his utterance that 
made his upbraiding sound half inspired. 

" You are condemning the stage as an institution," 
went on John scornfully. " You might as well condemn 
the printing press as an institution. You discriminate 
with regard to newspapers and books. Do the same with 



60 HELD TO ANSWER 

the stage. Taboo the corrupt play and teach your people 
to avoid it. Support the good and teach the managers 
that you will. Taboo the notorious actor or actress if 
you wish. Give the rest of them the benefit of the doubt, 
as you do in your personal contact with all humanity. 
Oh, Doctor Campbell, you are so charitable in your per- 
sonal relations with men and so uncharitable in much of 
your preaching! " 

This one exclamatory sentence had in it enough of 
affectionate regard to enable the minister to contain him- 
self a little longer, under the impassioned tide which now 
flowed again. 

" The stage ? The stage as an institution ? " John 
appeared to pause and wind himself up. " Why, listen ! 
The stage function is a godlike function. When God 
created man out of the dust of the ground and breathed 
into him the breath of life he planted in man's breast 
also the instinct to create. That instinct is the founda- 
tion of all art. Man has always exhibited this passion 
to create something in his own image. It might be a rude 
drawing on a rock, or only a manikin sculptured in mud 
and set in the sun to dry; or it might be a marble of 
Phidias, with the form, the strength, the spirit of life 
upon it. The painter can go farther. He gets the color 
and the very visage of thought and even of emotion. Yet 
each falls short. There is no God to breathe into their 
creations the breath of life." 

The minister leaned back a little as if to put his under- 
standing more at poise. 

" But," continued Hampstead, " the playwright and the 
actor can go farther. They breathe into their creations 
that very breath of God himself, which he breathed into 
man. They make a character real because he is a living 
man. They put him in the company of other men and 
women who are as real for the same reason; they toss 



THE RATE CLERK 61 

them all into the sea of life together; the winds of life 
blow upon them. Hate and love, virtue and vice, hope 
and despair, weakness and strength, birth and death, work 
their will upon them." 

" That is very beautiful, John," said Doctor Campbell, 
" very beautiful." 

The tribute was sincere, but John was not to be checked 
even by a compliment. 

" The stage creates and recreates," he rushed on. " It 
can raise the dead. It makes men and women live again 
Julius Caesar and Cleopatra, Napoleon and Dolly 
Madison. It seizes whole segments out of the circles of 
past history and sets them down in the midst of to-day, 
with the glow of life and the sheen of reality over all, so 
that for an afternoon or a night we live in another con- 
tinent or another age. We see the life, the customs, the 
petty quarrels, the sublimer passions, the very pulse- 
beats of men of other circumstances and other genera- 
tions than our own, so that w r hen we come out of the 
theater into the times of to-day, we have actually to 
wake ourselves up and ask : Which is real, and which is 
art?" 

Doctor Campbell leaned forward now. His mouth 
was round, his eyes were widely open. 

" It is that which gives the stage its dignity and power," 
concluded John. " It is the highest expression of man's 
instinct to create a new life in a more ideal Eden than 
that in which he finds himself. When you condemn the 
stage you condemn the creative instinct, and," exhorted 
John, with the sudden sternness of a hairy prophet on 
his desert rock, " you had better pause to think if you do 
not condemn Him who planted that instinct in the human 
breast." 

Hampstead had now finished; but the minister was in 
no hurry to speak. He felt the spell of the picture which 



62 HELD TO ANSWER 

had been painted, but he felt still more the spell of the 
young man's ardent enthusiasm. 

" You must have thought that out very carefully, 
John," he said. 

" Brother Campbell ! " answered John fervently, " I 
have done more than think it out. I have felt it out. I 
propose to live it out ! " 

But Doctor Campbell had kept his head amid this swirl 
of words, and his return was quietly forceful. 

" The stage of to-day," he began, " as I know it from 
the newspapers and the billboards, never seemed so vul- 
gar and damnable as it does now after your glorious 
idealization of it. I, as a preacher of righteousness, 
must judge of such an institution externally, by its ef- 
fects. I have weighed the stage in the balance, John, and 
I have found it wanting." 

This time there was something in the minister's calm 
tone, in the cool detachment of his point of view, that 
held John silent. 

" Isn't it possible," the minister continued, in a kind 
of sweet reasonableness, " that there is something in- 
sidiously demoralizing or infectious about it ? Take your 
own experience, John. You are a Christian man. You 
have been soaking yourself in the atmosphere of the stage 
for a couple of weeks. Examine your soul now, and 
answer me if you are as fine, as pure a man as you were 
before you went there. Are you? " 

" Why, of course I am," ejaculated Hampstead im- 
pulsively. 

" Think," commanded the minister, in low, compelling 
tones; for having controlled his emotions the better, he 
was just now the stronger of the- two. " Are you 
John?" 

Hampstead opened his mouth eagerly, but the minister's 
repressing gesture would not let him speak. The young 



THE RATE CLERK 63 

man was literally compelled to think, to question his own 
soul for a moment, and as he searched, a telltale flush 
came upon his cheek, and then his glance fell. There was 
an embarrassing moment of silence, during which this 
flush of mortification deepened perceptibly. 

The minister was a wise man. He read the sign and 
asked no questions. He upbraided nothing, cackled no 
exultant, " I told you so." 

"Let us pray, Brother John," he proposed after the 
interval, and knelt by his chair with a hand upon Hamp- 
stead's shoulder. The prayer was short. 

" Oh, Lord," the man of God petitioned, " help us to 
know where the right stops and the wrong begins. Keep 
us back from the sin of presumption. Give thy servants 
wisdom to serve thy cause well and work no ill to it by; 
over-zeal or over-confidence. Amen! " 

Doctor Campbell might have been praying for himself. 
But John knew that this was only a part of his tact. 

As the two men rose, John felt a sudden impulse to 
defend the stage from himself. 

" It was my own fault," he urged ; " the fault of my 
own weakness in unaccustomed surroundings. It was 
not the fault of the surroundings themselves, nor of any 
other person. Besides, it was nothing very grave." 

" Deterioration of character is always grave," said the 
Reverend Charles Thompson Campbell as he walked to 
the door with his caller, and the minister's tone intimated 
his conviction that this particular deterioration had been 
very grave indeed. 



CHAPTER VI 

ON TWO FRONTS 

THERE was high commotion in a big front office in 
the top floor of a tall, gray building that stood in the 
days before the fire on the corner of Kearney and Market 
streets in the city of San Francisco. This gray struc- 
ture housed the general offices of the San Francisco and 
El Paso Railroad Company, and that big front office con- 
tained the desk of the Freight Traffic Manager. Before 
this desk sat a man with a domed brow and the beak of 
an eagle, hair gray, eyes piercing, complexion colorless, 
and a mouth that closed so tightly it was discernible only 
as a crescent-shaped pucker above his spike-like chin. 
His mouth at the moment was not a pucker; it was a 
geyser. The name of this man was William N. Scofield, 
and he was obviously in a rage. He had grown up with 
the S. F. & E. P., his brain expanding as it expanded, his 
power rising as it had risen. Long ago, when the one 
lone clerk in its little rate department, he had made with 
his. own hands the first of those yellow commodity tariffs 
that John Hampstead had scorned with objurgations. 
Now Scofield held in the hand which trembled with his 
anger the first of that upstart's own contributions to the 
science of tariff making not yellow, but white, in token 
of the clarity it was meant to introduce. 

" How did they make it ? this this botch ! " he ex- 
ploded, repeating his interrogation with other embellish- 
ing phrases not properly reproducible and then slamming 
the offending white sheets down hard upon his desk, 
much harder than John had slammed the yellow ones, 



ON TWO FRONTS 65 

this impudent, white-livered thing that was an assault 
upon the customs he, Scofield, had instituted and time 
itself had honored! 

" Telegram ! " he barked to his stenographer. " Robert 
Mitchell, Los Angeles. Insist immediate withdrawal 
your entire line of commodity tariffs, series J. Basis 
carried in our own tariffs is only one we will recognize." 

Mitchell answered : 

" Decline to withdraw ; our tariffs issued on actual 
basis on which charges are assessed." 

The fight was on. 

Arming himself cap-a-pie with tariffs, amendments, 
letters, and memoranda, Mitchell two days later followed 
his telegram to San Francisco. Most of his resources, 
however, were packed behind the wide, blond brow of 
John Hampstead^ who accompanied his chief and was 
more eager for the fray than Mitchell. The battle began 
on Monday morning about ten of the clock, and was not 
finished with the day. The field of action was a room 
of this same gray building, where Howison, General 
Freight Agent of the S. F. & E. P., sat at the end of a 
long table, flanked right and left by assistant general 
freight agents, rate clerks, and even general and district 
freight agents called in from the field, all to convince 
Robert Mitchell and his lone rate clerk sitting at the other 
end of the table that their new tariff was a hodgepodge, 
without practical basis or the show of reason to support 
it. Scofield himself did not take a seat in the battle line, 
but looked in occasionally, either to walk about nervously 
or sit just back of Howison's shoulder. 

On the afternoon of the second day, the enemy Traffic 
Manager appeared to watch Hampstead intently for half 
an hour. Again and again the keen old fighter saw his 
allied forces attack, but invariably this self-confident, 
smiling young man with a ready citation, the upflashing 



66 HELD TO ANSWER 

of a yellow " special ", the digging out of a letter or a 
telegram from his file, or occasionally even of an old 
freight bill issued by the S. F. & E. P. showing exactly 
what rate had been assessed, triumphantly repelled the 
assaults, until reverses began to be the order of the day. 

" It strikes me," Scofield remarked sarcastically, " that 
this young man has got us all pretty well buffaloed. The 
trouble is, Howison," he glowered, " that your Tariff 
Department needs cleaning out. You've got a lot of old 
mush heads in there." 

With this warning shot into his own ranks, Scofield 
arose, went discontentedly out, and never once came back. 
Keener than any of his staff, he had already discerned 
that defeat was advancing down the road. 

But the battle of the tariffs raged on throughout the 
week, and it was not until late on Saturday afternoon 
that John, standing in one room of the suite in the Palace 
Hotel charged to the name of Robert Mitchell, flung the 
pile of papers from his arms into the bottom of a suitcase 
with a swish and solid thud of satisfaction. Victory 
from first to last had perched upon his tawny head. He 
had met good men and beaten them; and he had a right 
to the wave of exultation that surged for a moment 
dizzily through his brain. 

Mr. Mitchell, too, was feeling exultant and proud be- 
yond words, as he stood in the door of John's room. 
His hands were deep in his pockets ; his large black derby 
hat was pushed far back from his bulging brow. On his 
great landscape of a countenance was an oddly significant 
expression. 

" Well, Jack," he began, after an interval of silence, 
" what about the stage ? " 

John started like a man surprised in a guilty act, al- 
though he had known for months that this was a ques- 
tion Mr. Mitchell might ask at any moment; but the 



ON TWO FRONTS 67 

decision involved seemed now so big that from day to 
day he had hoped the inevitable might be postponed. 

" I shall be naming a new chief clerk in a couple of 
weeks, now that Heitmuller is to become General Agent," 
Mr. Mitchell went on half-musingly, and as if to forestall 
a hasty reply to the question he had asked. " The new 
man will be in line to be appointed Assistant General 
Freight Agent very soon, on account of the consolida- 
tions." 

For a moment John saw himself as Chief Clerk, sitting 
in the big swivel chair at the high, roll-top desk, with all 
the strings of the business he knew so well how to pull 
lying on the table before him; with clerks, stenographers, 
men from other departments and that important part of 
the shipping public which carried its business to the gen- 
eral freight office, all running to him. 

And from there it was only a short, easy step to the 
position of Assistant General Freight Agent. 

Only the man who has toiled far down in the ranks of 
a railroad organization doing routine work at the same 
old desk in the same old way for half a score of years 
can know on what a dizzy height sits the Chief Clerk, or 
how far beyond that swings the lofty title of Assistant 
General Freight Agent. 

" Your advancement would be very rapid," suggested 
Mr. Mitchell, flicking his flies skilfully upon the whirling 
eddies of the young man's thought. 

John had achieved enough and glimpsed enough to see 
that Mitchell was right. Advancement would be rapid. 
Mitchell would soon go up the line himself; he could 
follow him. General Freight Agent, Assistant Traffic 
Manager, Traffic Manager, Vice-president in charge of 
traffic President ! with twelve thousand miles of shin- 
ing steel flowing from his hand, which he might swing 
and whirl and crack like a whip! The prospect was 



68 HELD TO ANSWER 

dazzling in the extreme, and yet it was only for a mo- 
ment that the picture kindled. In the next it was dead 
and sparkless as burned-out fireworks. 

" You have a strong vein of traffic in your blood," the 
General Freight Agent began adroitly, but John broke in 
upon him. 

" Mr. Mitchell," he said, and his utterance was grave, 
" I am sorry to disappoint you, but it comes too late. A 
year ago such a hint would have thrown me into ecstasies. 
To-day it leaves me cold. I have had another vision." 

The face of Mitchell shaded from seriousness almost 
to sadness, but he was too wise to increase by argument 
an ardor about which, to the railroad man, there was 
something not easy to be understood, something, indeed, 
almost fanatical. Instead Mitchell asked with sober, in- 
terested friendliness: 

" What is your plan, John ? " 

" To resign July first," John answered, for the first 
time definitely crossing the bridge, " to come to San 
Francisco and seek an engagement with some of the 
stock companies playing permanently here, even though 
I begin the search for an opening without money enough 
to last more than a week or two." 

"Without money!" exclaimed Mr. Mitchell, in sur- 
prise. 

" Yes," confessed Hampstead, flushing a little. " My 
salary was not very munificent, you know, and I have 
usually contrived to get rid of it, frequently before I got 
the pay check in my hands." 

Mr. Mitchell's small, prudent eyes looked disfavor at a 
spendthrift 

" However," he suggested, " you have only yourself to 
think of." 

" That's another point against me," confessed Hamp- 
stead. " I have some one else to look out for. My 



ON TWO FRONTS 69 

brother-in-law is an artist, you know, and he has not been 
very successful yet, so that I hold myself ready to help 
with my sister and the children if it should ever become 
necessary." 

" That's a handicap," declared Mitchell flatly. 

"I won't admit it," said John loyally. "You don't 
know those children. Tayna's the girl, nearly twelve 
now, a beauty if her nose is pugged. Such hair and eyes, 
and such a heart! Dick's the boy, past ten. He's had 
asthma always, and is about a thousand years old, some 
ways. But they " 

Hampstead gulped queerly. 

" Those two children," he plunged on, " are dearer to 
me than anything in the whole wide world. You 
know," and his tone became still more confidential, while 
his eyes grew moist, " it would only be something that 
happened to them that would keep me from going on with 
my stage career." 

Mitchell's respect for John was changing oddly to a 
fatherly feeling. He felt that he was getting acquainted 
with his clerk for the first time. He resolved that he 
would not tempt the boy, and that if it became necessary, 
he would help him. However, before he could express 
this resolve, if he had intended to express it, the telephone 
rang. 

Hampstead answered it, stammered, faltered, replied: 
" I will see, sir, and call you in five minutes," hung up 
the 'phone and turned to confront Mitchell, with a look 
almost of fright upon his face. 

" It's William N. Scofield," he exclaimed. " He wants 
me to take dinner with him at his club to-night." 

A disbelieving smile appeared for a moment on the 
wide lips of Mitchell ; then understanding broke, and his 
smile was swallowed up in a hearty laugh. 

" He wants to offer you a position," Mitchell said, 



70 HELD TO ANSWER 

when his exultant cachinnations had ceased. " Look out 
that he doesn't win you. Scofield is a very persuasive 
man. He nearly got me once. Besides, he has more to 
offer you than I have." 

Hampstead pressed his hand to his brow. Under his 
tawny thatch ideas were in a whirl. 

" What shall I do ? " he asked rather helplessly. 

"Stay over," commanded Mitchell unhesitatingly. 
" Ring up and tell him you'll be there." 

" But there's no use, anyway," replied John suddenly, 
getting back to the main point. " My mind's made up." 

" No man's mind is made up when he's going to take 
dinner on the proposition with William N. Scofield," an- 
swered Mitchell oracularly. 

" And you ? " asked Hampstead, suddenly aware how 
good a man at heart was Robert Mitchell, and quite un- 
aware that he had seized that gentleman's pudgy right 
hand and was wringing it in a manner most embarrassing 
to Mitchell himself. " You " 

But the telephone was tingling impatiently. 

" Mr. Scofield wants to know," began a voice. 

" Yes, yes, I'll be happy to," interrupted John, not 
knowing just what tone or form one should take in ex- 
pressing the necessary amenities to the secretary of a 
great man. 

" Very well. His car will call for you at six-thirty," 
responded the voice. 

But before John could pick up the thread of his un- 
finished sentence to Mr. Mitchell, a knock sounded at the 
door, at first soft and cushioned, as if from a gloved 
hand, then louder and more determined, and repeated 
with quick impatience. 

" Come in," called Mitchell. 

The knob turned, and the door swung wide, leaving the 
panel of white to frame the picture of a woman. She 



ON TWO FRONTS 71 

was young, of medium height and appealing roundness, 
clad from head to foot in a traveling dress of dark green, 
with a small hat of a shade to match, the chief adornment 
of which was a red hawk's feather slanting backward at a 
jaunty angle. A veil enveloped both hat brim and face 
but was not thick enough to dim the sparkle of bright 
eyes or the pink flush of dimpled cheeks, much less to 
conceal two rows of gleaming teeth from between which, 
after a moment's pause for sensation, burst a ringing 
cadence of laughter. 

" Miss Bessie ! " exclaimed John excitedly. 

" The very first guess ! " declared that young lady, ad- 
vancing and yielding the doorframe to another figure 
which filled it so much more completely as to sufficiently 
explain a more deliberate arrival. 

" Alollie! " ejaculated Mitchell, who by this time had 
turned toward the door. " What in thunder? " 

But the General Freight Agent's lines of communica- 
tion were just then temporarily disconnected by an as- 
sault upon his features conducted by Miss Bessie in per- 
son. During this interval, Mrs. Mitchell stood placidly 
surveying the room, and as she took in its air of prepara- 
tion for immediate departure, a tantalizing smile spread 
itself on her expansive features. 

" Is this an accident or a calamity ? " demanded 
Mitchell, playfully thrusting Bessie aside and advancing 
to greet his wife. 

" Both!" declared that lady, submitting her lips with 
more of formality than enthusiasm, after which, feeling 
that sufficient time had elapsed to make an explanation 
of her sudden appearance not undignified, she proceeded : 

"Just one of my whims, Bob! Next week was the 
spring vacation; no school, and the poor child was pale 
from overstudy and so anxious about her examinations 
(Bessie shot a look at Hampstead), that I just made up 



72 HELD TO ANSWER 

my mind I'd bring her up here and let her get a good bite 
of fog and a breath from the Golden Gate." 

" Fine idea ! " declared Mitchell. " Fine ! Now that 
you've had it," he chuckled, " we'll start home. I'm 
leaving at eight." 

" You are not ! " proclaimed Mrs. Mitchell flatly. 
" You will stay right here for at least three days and do 
nothing but devote yourself to your child. And to her 
mother! " she subjoined, as if that were an afterthought; 
all with a toss of her chin, which, by way of emphasis, 
held its advanced position for a moment after the speech 
was done. 

"And the business of the company?" Mitchell sug- 
gested, with a solicitous air. 

" It can wait on me," averred Mrs. Mitchell decisively, 
taking a turn up and down the room and surveying once 
more the signs of confusion and of hasty packing. 
" Many's the time I've waited on it. You can stay, too, 
John," she said, turning to Hampstead. " I want you 
to take Bessie to a lot of places Robert and I have been 
and won't care to visit this time." 

" Robert ! " and while her eyes turned toward the 
windows, two of which opened on a view of Market 
Street, the new commander began a redisposition of 
forces, " I rather like this suite. Bessie and I will take 
the corner room. You can take this room and Mr. 
Hampstead can move across the hall, or anywhere else 
they can put him." 

As an act of possession, Mrs. Mitchell walked to the 
dresser, took off her hat, stabbed the two pins into it em- 
phatically, and tossed it upon the bed, where it bloomed 
like a flower-garden in the midst of a desert of papers 
while she, still standing before the mirror, bestowed a 
few comfortable pats upon her hair. 

" John/' Mitchell said jovially, " I know orders from 



ON TWO FRONTS 73 

headquarters when I get 'em. You were going to stay 
over, anyway; but use your own judgment about obeying 
the instructions you have just received." 

" Never had such agreeable instructions in my life," 
declared Hampstead, turning to Mrs. Mitchell with an 
elaborately stagy bow, and the natural quotation from 
Hamlet which leaped to his lips : 

" ' I shall in all my best obey you, madam.' ' 

" See that you do," said that lady, not half liking the 
bow and shooting a glance at Hampstead less cordial than 
austere. " And by the way," she added, " see that you 
don't let that stage nonsense carry you much further, 
young man," with which remark Mrs. Mitchell turned 
abruptly and gave Hampstead a most complete view of a 
broad and uncompromising back. 

In Mrs. Mitchell's mind a man had much better be a 
section hand on the Great Southwestern than a fixed star 
on the drama's milky way. 

" By the way, mother," remarked Mr. Mitchell, with 
the air of one who makes an important revelation, " John 
is just going out to dine with William N. Scofield." 

Mrs. Mitchell turned quickly, and her dark eyes shot a 
meaningful glance at her husband, while the line of her 
lower lip first grew full and then protruded. A squeeze 
of that lip at the moment, Hampstead reflected, would 
extract something at least as sour as very sour lemon 
juice. 

" Scofield is after him," bragged Mitchell. 

" Well, see that he doesn't get him," his wife com- 
manded sternly, and then shifting her somber glance until 
it rested on John with a look that was near to menace, 
inquired acridly: 

''' Young man, you wouldn't be disloyal? You 
wouldn't sell yourself?" In the second interrogatory 
her voice had passed from acridity to bitterness, while the 



74 HELD TO ANSWER 

eyes bored implacably, till Hampstead at first wriggled, 
then grew resentful and replied crisply, standing very 
straight : 

" No, Mrs. Mitchell, I would not sell myself ! " 

" That's right," exclaimed Bessie, stepping impulsively 
toward John's side. " Do not let her browbeat you. I 
am sorry to say, Mr. Hampstead, that mother is in- 
clined to be somewhat dictatorial. You , see what she 
does to poor papa ! " 

" And you see what you do to poor me," exclaimed that 
worthy lady, turning on her daughter with surprise and 
injury in her glance and tone, " dragging me almost 
out of bed last night to make this foolish trip up here 
with you. Next week, of all weeks, too, when I wanted 
to do so many other things." 

"Ho! ho! " broke in Mitchell, "so that's the way of 
it. This trip up here is a scheme of yours," and he 
turned accusingly upon his daughter, but Bessie smiled 
and curtseyed, entirely unabashed. " Well, then, I don't 
guess we'll stay," teased Mitchell. "And I don't sup- 
pose you knew a thing about Hampstead's being here. 
That was all an accident." 

" It was not," flashed Bessie. " I did. I haven't seen 
dear old John for a year. I could go in and have delight- 
ful tete-a-tetes with him when he was a stenographer, but 
out in the Rate Department there are forty prying eyes 
and men with ears as long as jack-rabbits. He hasn't 
taken me to a circus or anything for nobody knows how 
long. You shall give him money for theater tickets, for 
dinners, for auto rides, for everything nice for three 
whole days." 

Bessie was standing directly in front of her father, 
her eyes looking up into his, and her two hands patting 
his generous jowls, as her speech was concluded. 

John listened rapturously. This was the old Bessie 



OX TWO FRONTS 75 

talking. She had entered the room looking a year older, 
a year prettier since that day when he wrote the Phroso 
invitations for her, and had taken on so easily the lacquer 
and dignity of dresses and of years that he was beginning 
to feel in awe of her. This speech was a great relief. 

Besides, in the whirl of the hour before she came, he 
had found himself strangely wanting to take counsel 
with Bessie. The Mitchells had made of him for all 
these years a convenient caretaker of their daughter. 
Bessie had made of him a playfellow with whom she 
took the same liberties as with any other of her father's 
possessions. This attitude on her part had created the 
only atmosphere in which Hampstead could have been at 
ease with her. It had permitted his soul to bask when 
she was by, but it had done no more. But now, he some- 
how wanted to confide in Bessie, not to take her advice 
for he wasn't going to take anybody's advice; all advice 
was against him, but to tell her what he was going to 
do, because he believed she would listen appreciatingly, 
if not sympathetically. He felt he needed at least the 
added support of a neutral mind. He had rejected Mr. 
Mitchell's proposal, but the glitter of it flashed occasion- 
ally. And now he was going to face the resourceful, the 
ingratiating, the dominating William N. Scofield, and he 
felt like a man who goes alone to meet his temptation on 
the mountain top. 



CHAPTER VII 

THE HIGH BID 

FOR an hour and a half at dinner, and for another 
hour sunk in the depths of a great leather chair in the 
lounging room of the Pacific Union Club, William N. 
Scofield had searched the soul of Hampstead, who had 
not only been led to talk rapturously of his stage ambi- 
tion but to reveal the metes and bounds of his interest 
in and knowledge upon many subjects. 

" Gad, but you know a lot," ejaculated Scofield, with 
unfeigned amazement. " Where'd you get it all? " 

" I have read a good deal," confessed John, trying to 
appear much more modest than in his heart he felt; for 
it was a part of Scofield's whim or of his campaign to 
flatter him enormously, and he had succeeded. 

But for a time now, the Traffic Manager was silent, 
puffing meditatively at his cigar and staring at the ceiling 
through loafing rings of smoke in which, as if they were 
floating letters, he seemed to read the transcript of his 
thought, the thought that if, beside employing this 
enormously able young man, he could also enlist in be- 
half of the railroad as an institution his capacity for 
fanatical devotion to an ideal, the prize was one worth 
bidding high for, high enough to win ! 

" People like you, Hampstead," Scofield broke out 
presently, and in his most ingratiating vein. " We all 
felt that down at the office. You did a difficult thing 
without making an enemy of one of us. Therefore what 
your personality can do interests me even more than what 
you know." 

The railroad man interrupted his speech to shoot an 



THE HIGH BID 77 

exploratory glance from under veiling lids and went on 
calculatingly : 

' The railroad business is going to change. Now we 
tell the Railroad Commission what to do. The time is 
coming when it will tell us what to do, and we will do it. 
But the public attitude toward the railroad has also got 
to change." Scofield's tone had taken on new emphasis. 
" You would make the type of executive that could change 
it ! The successful transportation man of the future has 
got to be a sort of ambassador of the railroad to the 
people, and the man who best serves the people tributary 
to his road will best serve his stockholders." 

" Do you know who gave me that point? " the Traffic 
Manager asked, turning from the vision he was contem- 
plating in the clouds of smoke over his head and looking 
sharply at Hampstead. 

" Naturally not," admitted the younger man. 

" Bob Mitchell," said Scofield, and paused while his 
thin lips coaxed persistently at the cigar which appeared 
to have gone out. " Bob Mitchell ! And I reviled him 
for his sagacity, told him he was an altruistic fool. But 
after a while I saw he was right. Then I tried to get 
him for us, but I didn't succeed. He wasn't as sensible 
as I hope you will be. Besides, I am going to offer you 
more than I offered him." 

More than he offered Mitchell! There was a sudden 
jolt somewhere in John's breast, and he wet a dry, parched 
lip, but did not speak. 

" Yes," breathed Scofield softly, almost as if he had 
been interrupted. " I am going to offer you more. 
Hampstead ! " and the voice was raised quickly, " I want 
you to be our General Freight Agent ! " 

If Scofield had leaned over and kissed him, John would 
not have been more surprised, nor have known less what 
to say. 



78 HELD TO ANSWER 

" General Freight Agent ! " he croaked hoarsely. 

" Yes," affirmed the other coolly, almost icily, while he 
flicked the ashes from his cigar and enjoyed the sensation 
his proposal had produced. 

" At my age ? " stumbled John, still groping, but trying 
to see himself in the position. 

" Why, yes," reassured Scofield suavely. " You tell 
me you're past twenty-five. Paul Morton was Assistant 
General Freight Agent of the Burlington at twenty-one. 
Look where he is to-day in the cabinet of the President 
of the United States. The salary," Scofield added casu- 
ally, by way of finally clinching the argument, " will be 
twelve thousand a year." 

Hampstead's lips silently formed the words twelve 
thousand ! But he did not utter them. They dazed him. 
They rushed him headlong. They made rejection im- 
possible. No man had a right to throw away such a 
fortune as that. One thousand dollars a month! He 
felt himself yielding, helplessly, irresistibly. 

And then, suddenly as the photographer's bomb lights 
up every lineament of every face in the darkened room, 
for one single moment Hampstead saw things clearly and 
in their true proportions. This Schofield was not a man. 
He was a grinning devil, with horns and a barb on his 
tail. He was tempting, trapping, buying him. He would 
not be bought. "No, Mrs. Mitchell, I -would not sell 
myself," he had said, not, however, meaning at all what 
that lady meant. 

Leaning back stubbornly, his fist smiting heavy blows 
upon the cushioned arm of the chair, John muttered 
through clenched teeth : 

"No! No! No I'll never do it. No, Mr. Sco- 
field, I cannot accept your offer. I thank you for it ; but 
I cannot accept it. The stage is to be the place of my 
achievement. v Why, why, Mr. Scofield, the wonderfully 



THE HIGH BID 79 

flattering offer you have made to me to-night has come 
because of the training incident to the cultivation of a 
stage ambition. If it can bring me so much with so little 
devotion, is it not reasonable to suppose that it will bring 
me more very much more? I will not be so disloyal 
to that which has been so generous with me." 

Scofield's countenance had suddenly and impressively 
changed. It became a mask of stone, a sphinx-like thing, 
the brow a knot, the nose a beak, the mouth a stitched 
scar. The beady gleam of the eyes from beneath drawn 
lids was sinister. This fanatical young fool was es- 
caping him, and Scofield did not like any one to escape 
him. 

But the young man refused to be swerved by frowns. 

" Not to manage railroads," he declared enthusias- 
tically, " but to mould human character is to be my life- 
work ; to depict the virtues and the vices, the weaknesses 
and the strengths of life, to make men laugh and love 
and forget." 

Scofield's eyes twinkled, and his mouth became less a 
scar, but John thought this was a very fine phrase really, 
and he rushed along: 

"Life looks like a tangle, like a mess drudgeries, 
disappointments, injustices the wrong man prosper- 
ing the wrong girl suffering! The drama composes 
life. It grabs out a few people and follows them, com- 
pressing into the action of two hours the eventualities of 
a lifetime and shortening perspectives till men can see the 
consequences of their acts, whether for good or for ill. 
The stage teaches the doctrine of the conservation of 
moral energy and of immoral energy that sustained 
effort, conserved effort is never cheated; it gets its goal 
at last." 

" Say ! " broke in Scofield ; but John would not be 
denied what he felt was a final smashing generalization. 



8o HELD TO ANSWER 

" To figure the tariff on human conduct, to grade and 
classify the acts of life, to quote the rates on happiness 
and misery in trainload lots. That's what I'm going to 
do," he concluded, with a glow upon his face. 

But by this time a smile of cynic pity had appeared 
upon the face of the railroad man. 

" Hampstead," he exclaimed sharply, with a mimic 
shudder and a shrug of relief as if he had just escaped 
something, " you're not an actor. You're a preacher ! " 

John gasped. 

" You're a moralist," asserted Scofield accusingly, " a 
puritanical, Sunday-school, twaddling moralist. I have 
misjudged you. I wouldn't want you around at all." 

With a look akin to disgust upon his face, the railroad 
man made a motion with his fingers in the air as if rid- 
ding them of something sticky, and arose, not abruptly 
but decisively, making clear that the interview had proved 
disappointingly unprofitable and was therefore at an end. 

John also arose, bewildered by the sudden change in 
Scofield's attitude a change which he resented, and 
alsq^jjie ground of it. He a preacher? The idea was 
ridiculous. 

Besides, it makes an astonishing difference when one 
has been stubbornly refusing an offer to have the offer 
coolly and decisively withdrawn. Something subtly 
psychological made him want the offer back. The door 
of opportunity had been closed behind him with a snap 
so vicious that he wanted to turn and kick it open. 

But the thin, talon-like hand of Scofield was hooking 
the young man's rather flaccid palm for a moment. 

^ Remember what I tell you," he barked out in parting. 
" You're not an actor. You're not a railroad man. 
You're a preacher ! " 

The last word was flung bitingly, like an epithet. 

John, feeling uncomfortable, walked out and along one 



THE HIGH BID 81 

side of Union Square, casting a momentary wondering 
eye on the stabbing, twin towers of the Hotel St. Francis, 
many windowed and many-lighted ; then turned on down 
Geary into Market and along that wide and cobbled 
thoroughfare to the doors of the old Palace Hotel. By 
the time he was in bed, he realized that Scofield had 
shaken him terribly. His decision was all to make over 
again. 

However, Bessie would be there for three days to help 
him, and with this thought he felt comforted. 

" It's been a great three days," sighed John, on the fol- 
lowing Tuesday. Bessie also sighed. 

They had clambered down from the parapet below the 
Cliff House and sat watching the seals at play upon the 
rocks a stone's throw out from beneath their feet Their 
position marked the southern portal of the famous Golden 
Gate, through which a mile-wide stream of liquid blue was 
running. Across the Gate rose the sheer gray cliffs of 
Marin County and beyond those the rugged greens and 
blues of the mountains, spiked in the center by le peak 
of Tamalpais. 

Before their faces, the ocean, in swells and scoops of 
ever grayer gray, ran out to catch the horizon as it fell, 
illumined in its lower reaches by the sun, which was sink- 
ing into the haze above the waters like a lustrous orange 
ball. 

Southward, beyond the green head of Golden Gate 
Park, the yellow gray of the sand dunes and the blue gray 
of the sea met in a lingering, playful kiss that swept back 
and forth in a long shimmering line which ran on sinu- 
ously, growing fainter and fainter, till lost in the shadow 
of the distant cliffs. 

The hour was five o'clock. At eight that night John 
was to leave for Los Angeles. His vacation the only 



82 HELD TO ANSWER 

vacation of his hard-driven life was to end, and an 
epoch in his existence was also nearing its end. The past 
was clear as the land behind him ; the future was an area 
of tossing uncertainty. Nothing appeared, no track, 
no wake, no sail, no sun even. Only far over, beyond the 
curve of the horizon, was a kind of strange, unearthly 
glow, and on this his eye was set. 

For three days his soul had ebbed and flowed like that 
lip of foam upon the beach, now stealing far up on the 
land, for him the backward track ; now turning and 
running far out to sea, for him the way of adventure 
and advance. 

But now the ultimate decision was to be made. Bessie 
saw it rising like a tide upon that face which once had 
seemed not to fit, a rapt look which snuggled in the hills 
and hollows and then began to harden like setting concrete. 
No one would call that face homely now. Interesting, 
most likely, would have been the word. 

The gray eyes burned brighter, the lips grew tighter. 
The chin advanced, moved out to sea a little, as it were. 

" Follow your star, John," Bessie declared stoutly, 
though a look of pain momentarily touched her whitening 
lips. " I shall despise you if you do not." 

" The decision is made," John replied solemnly, " and 
you, Bessie, have helped to make it." 

Bessie did not reply; she only looked. 

Silence fell between them. Silence, too, was in the 
heavens; the sun, the waves, the restless wind for the 
moment appeared to stand still. All nature had paused 
respectfully. A man, young, inexperienced, but poten- 
tial, had cast the horoscope of life beyond the power of 
gods or men to intervene, and with it had cast some 
other horoscopes as well. 

Hampstead felt the spell his act of will had wrapped 
about them, but he felt also the substance of his resolu- 



THE HIGH BID 83 

tion framing like granite in his soul and making him 
strong with a new kind of strength. 

But soon the sun was descending again, the clouds were 
drifting once more, and a gust of wind nipped sharply, 
causing the skirts of John's overcoat to flap lustily. 
Bessie twitched her fur collar closer about the neck, and 
thrust both hands deep into the pockets of her gray ulster. 
Hampstead passed his own hand through the curve of the 
girl's elbow, gripped her forearm possessively, selfishly, 
absently, and drew her toward him. 

Indeed Bessie was closer to him than she had ever been 
before ; and yet she had never felt so far away. 

" Oh, but it's great to have a woman by you in a crisis," 
John chuckled happily. 

Bessie looked up startled. John had called her woman. 
But she recovered from the start, he had also called her 
a woman. 

" Come to understand each other pretty well, haven't 
we?" John observed, still looking oceanward, but giving 
the arm of Bessie what was intended for a meaningful 
squeeze. 

" Not at all," sighed Bessie, also still looking ocean- 
ward. 

Hampstead, his thoughts bowling rapidly forward, con- 
tinued motionless until a white-winged, curious-eyed gull 
sailed between his line of vision and the water. Then, as 
if abruptly conscious that Bessie's answer was not what 
it should have been, he turned, and at the same time boldly 
swung her body round till they stood facing each other. 
Bessie met this gaze unblinkingly for a moment, with her 
face set and sober; then something in John's mystified 
glance touched her keen sense of humor, and she laughed, 
her old, roguish laugh, and flirted the stupid in the 
face with the end of her boa. 

" You great big egoist ! " she smiled. " There, that's 



84 HELD TO ANSWER 

the first chance I've had to use that word. I only learned 
the difference between it and another last week." 

" Indeed ! " retorted Hampstead. " And when did you 
learn the difference between me and the other word ? " 

" Well, I'm not sure that there is a difference," she 
sparred. " Being polite, I just concede it." 

" Oh," he chuckled. " But," and he was serious again, 
" you say we don't understand each other? " 

"Nonsense; I was only joking. I do understand 
you; you great, big, egoistical egotist! You are just 
now absolutely self -centered and all, all ambition! 
And I am secretly secretly, you understand proud of 
you!" 

" And you," said Hampstead, drawing her close again, 
" are just the truest, most understanding friend a man 
ever, ever had. You know, Bessie, a fellow can talk to 
you just like a sister, a pretty little sister ! " he sub- 
joined, when Bessie looked less pleased than he thought 
she should. 

" You've changed a lot, too, in a year," he conceded, 
studying her face critically. " When you came into the 
hotel that night, you struck fear into my heart, and then 
kind of made it flutter. I said to myself, ' She's gone 
the old Bessie, that could be played with. But here's a 
young woman, a handsome young woman, taking her 
place.' " 

" Did you say that? " asked Bessie happily. 

" An exceedingly beautiful woman," went on John, as 
if stimulated by the interruption. " By George, a very 
corker of a woman look at those eyes, those lips, those 
dimples. Same old dimples, girl ! " he laughed emotion- 
ally. " And I said, ' Now, here's a woman, a ripe, won- 
derful woman, to be made love to ' ' 

"John!" 

There was in Bessie's sudden exclamation the sur- 



THE HIGH BID 85 

charged sense of all the proprieties which their relationship 
involved. 

" Oh, don't be alarmed," exclaimed Hampstead, sud- 
denly very earnest and respectful. " I am not leading up 
to anything. I do not misunderstand the nature of your 
goodness to me. I am not presuming anything. I am 
only telling you what I said to myself." 

" Oh," murmured Bessie noncommittally, though 
she shivered for a moment as if a gust of wind had come 
again. Hampstead, feeling this, drew her still closer and 
hunched his broad shoulder to shelter her more, as he 
explained further: 

" But it was I, you know, and there was nothing for me 
to do but to fly. I was for jumping out the window. 
And then you suddenly made that wonderful speech about 
going to the circus with dear old John, and your mother 
let it out that you wanted me to run around with you 
here, and I saw that toward me you were the same old 
Bessie; that for a few days we could be once more just 
friendly, only two finer friends, because we're both grown 
up now." 

:< Yes," Bessie sighed, almost contentedly. " I did 
want you, John. A girl gets tired of society, of clubs 
and dances and things, even in High. You know, I get 
weary of the sight of these slim, pompadoured boys some- 
times. I just wanted somehow to feel the arm of a real 
man, to hear him talk, even if he does nothing but talk 
about himself, and until this minute in three days has not 
confessed that I have dimples, and and a heart." 

" Slow, about some things, am I not? " confessed John. 
"Awfully, awfully slow!" 

" I will agree with you," said Bessie, with a mournful- 
ness that literally compelled him to perceive that she was 
some way disappointed in him. 

" But," he inquired reproachfully, " aside from my use- 



86 HELD TO ANSWER 

fulness as a social escort and a sort of masculine tonic, 
you do admire me a little, don't you? " 

" Oh, yes," she answered frankly. " I admire you a 
lot." 

" But you're disappointed about something ? " 

" Apprehension is the better word," she confessed 
soberly. 

"Apprehension? Of what?" John was looking at 
her almost accusingly. Bessie avoided his glance. She 
could not tell him what she feared nor why she feared it. 

" You think I'll fail ? " John demanded. 

" No," disclaimed Bessie seriously. " I think you will 
succeed ! " 

" You think so ? " and Hampstead's face lighted bril- 
liantly. " Oh, God bless you for that ! " and again he 
shook her, this time tenderly and drew her closer till her 
breast was touching his, and she leaned her head far back 
to look up into his face. 

" Yes," she breathed softly, " I think so ! " 

" And you do not think me silly foV turning my back 
upon solid realities to follow my ideal ? " 

" No ! No ! " and she shook her head emphatically, " I 
honor you for it, John. You have inspired me, John, and 
thrilled me. I used to think how good you are ! Now 
I think how noble you are ! You have made my feel- 
ing for you one of worship fulness almost." 

The look in her face did express that, and Hampstead 
noticed it now. 

" Ah," he murmured, pressing her arms against her 
sides, " you dear, impressionable little girl ! " 

Quite thoughtless of how unnecessarily close he was 
drawing Bessie, either to shelter her from the wind or for 
the purpose of conversation, or especially in the fulfillment 
of his duty to his charge as guide and protector, John was 
finding a pleasurable sensation in this position of in- 



THE HIGH BID 87 

timacy, and was indeed, just upon the threshold of one 
very great discovery when he made another, perhaps 
equally surprising, but vastly less important. Looking 
into the upturned eyes, which after the canons of Delsarte, 
he was thinking expressed " devotion " perfectly, a 
shadow was seen to project itself downward from the 
upper lids across the iris, as if a storm were gathering on 
a placid lake. John watched the shadow curiously as it 
deepened, until it became clear that a mist was congealing 
in those swimming violet depths. 

" Why, Bessie," he exclaimed, amazed, " you are going 
to cry ! " 

On the instant two tears trickled from the dark lashes 
and gleamed for a moment like solitaire diamonds in the 
setting of two ruby spots that had gathered unaccountably 
upon her upturned cheeks. 

" You are crying," he charged straightly. 

Bessie's expression never changed, but her smooth, 
round chin nodded a trembling and unabashed assent. A 
sudden impulse seized John. The position of his arms 
shifted. 

" Bessie ! " he murmured feelingly, " I am going to 
kiss you ! " 

Bessie did not appear half as surprised at this announce- 
ment as Hampstead at himself for making it. 

" May I ? " he persisted. 

The expression of devotion in Bessie's swimming orbs 
remained unstartled, her pose unaltered. Only her lips 
moved while she breathed a single word : " Yes." 

Instantly their ruby and velvet softness yielded to the 
pressure of John's, planted as tenderly and chastely as 
was his thought of her, for that other discovery that he 
was on the verge of making had been fended off by the 
coming of the tear. 



CHAPTER VIII 

JOHN MAKES UP 

THAT night, according to programme, John went back 
to Los Angeles ; and a few weeks later, also according to 
programme, he was again in San Francisco, no longer a 
railroad man, but in his thought an actor. 

Now calling oneself an actor and being one are quite 
different ; but it took an experience to prove this to John. 
Even the opportunity for this experience was itself hard 
to get. It was days before he even saw a theatrical man- 
ager, weeks before he met one personally, and a month 
before he got his first engagement. 

When he talked of the drama to actors the way he had 
talked of it to the Reverend Charles Thompson Campbell, 
they did not comprehend him ; when he talked to them as 
he had to Scofield, they smiled cynically ; when he admitted 
to one manager that he was without professional experi- 
ence, the admission drew a sneer which froze the stream 
of hope in his breast. 

John thereafter told no other manager this, but learned 
instead the value of a " front ", and inserted in the profes- 
sional columns of the San Francisco Dramatic Review a 
card which read : 




" Heavy " in theatrical parlance means the villain. 
Modestly confessing himself not quite equal to " leads ", 



JOHN MAKES UP 89 

though in his heart John scorned to believe his own con- 
fession, he had announced himself as a " heavy." 

This card appeared for three succeeding weeks, but on 
the fourth week there was a significant change. It read : 



JOHN HAMPSTEAD 

HEAVY 
With the People's Stock Company 



The People's Stock Company was new, a " ten-twenty- 
thirty " organization, got together in a day for a season of 
doubtful length, in a huge barn of a house that once had 
been the home of bucket-of -blood melodramas, but for a 
long time had been given over to cobwebs and prize fights. 
The promoters had little money. They spent most of it 
on new paint and gorgeous, twelve-sheet posters. Every- 
thing was cheap and gaudy, but the cheapest thing was the 
company and the least gaudy. 

The opening play was a blood-spiller with thrills guaran- 
teed; the scene was laid in Cuba at a period just pre- 
ceding the Spanish-American War. Hampstead's part 
was a Spanish colonel, Delaro by name. Delaro was no 
ordinary double-dyed villain. He was triple-dyed at the 
least, and would kick up all the deviltry in the piece from 
the beginning to the end ; he would steal the fair Yankee 
maiden who had strayed ashore from her father's yacht ; 
he would imprison her in an out-of-the-way fortress ; court 
her, taunt her, threaten her and then when the audience 
was wrought to the highest pitch of excitement and the 
last throb of pity for her impending fate at the hands of 
this fiend in yellow uniform and brass buttons, the gal- 
loping of horses would herald the appearance of Lieu- 
tenant Bangster, U. S. N., lover of the maiden and hero 
of the play. (The Navy on horseback!) A pitched 
battle would result, pistols, rifles, cannon would be fired, 
the fortifications would be blown away, and Old Glory 



90 HELD TO ANSWER 

go fluttering up the staff to the thundering applause of 
the gods of the gallery. 

Delaro was an enormous opportunity; but it was also 
an enormous responsibility. John went into rehearsal 
haunted by fear that the carefully guarded secret of his 
inexperience would be discovered, knowing that instant 
humiliation and discharge would follow. He had 
trudged, hoped, brazened, starved, prayed to get this part. 
He must not lose it, and he must make good. The sweat 
of desperation oozed daily from his pores. 

Halson, the stage manager, was a tall, tubercular per- 
son, with a husk in his throat and a cloudy eye. This eye 
seemed always to John to be cloudier still when turned on 
him. On the fourth day of rehearsal, these clouded looks 
broke out in lightning. 

" Stop that preaching ! " Halson commanded impa- 
tiently. " You are intoning those speeches like a parrot 
in a pulpit. Colonel Delaro is not a bishop. He is a 
villain a damned, detestable, outrageous villain ! Play 
it faster; read those speeches more naturally. My God, 
you must have been playing By the way, Hampstead, 
what were you playing last ? " 

The shot was a bull's-eye. John felt himself suddenly 
a monstrous fraud and had a sickening sense of predes- 
tined failure. In his soul he suddenly saw the truth. 
Acting was not bluffing. Acting was an art ! The poor- 
est, dullest of these people, bad as they appeared to be, 
knew how to read their lines more naturally than he. He 
was not an actor. He never had been an actor. He was 
only a recitationist. 

" What were you playing last, I say ? " bullied Halson, 
as if suddenly suspicious. 

But John had rallied. " If I don't get the experience, 
how will I ever become an actor," \vas what he said to 
himself. 



JOHN MAKES UP 91 

" My last season was in Shakespeare," was what he 
observed to Halson, with deliberate dignity. 

" Oh," exclaimed the stage manager, much relieved. 
" That explains it. I was beginning to think somebody 
had sawed off a blooming amateur on me." 

John had not deemed it prudential to add that this sea- 
son in Shakespeare lasted one whole evening and con- 
sisted of some slices from the Merchant of Venice pre- 
sented in the parlor of the Hotel Green in Pasadena ; and 
the scorn with which Halson had immediately pronounced 
the word " amateur " sent a shiver to Hampstead's mar- 
row, while he congratulated himself on his discretion. 
Nevertheless, he suffered this day many interruptions 
and much kindergarten coaching from Halson and felt 
himself humiliated by certain overt glances from the 
cast. 

"The boobs!" thought John. "The pin-heads! 
They don't know half as much as I do. They never 
taught a Y. M. C. A. class in public speaking; they never 
gave a lesson in elocution in all their lives, and here they 
are staring at me, because I have a little trouble mastering 
the mere mechanics of stage delivery. It's simple. I'll 
have it by to-morrow." 

But at the end of the rehearsal, John felt weak. In- 
stead of leaving the theater, he slipped behind a curtain 
into one of the boxes and sank down in the gloom to be 
alone and think. But he was not so much alone as he 
thought. A voice came up out of the shadows in the 
orchestra circle. It was the voice of Neumeyer, the 
" angel " of the enterprise, who was even more inex- 
perienced in things dramatic than his " heavy " man. 

" How do you think it'll go ? " Neumeyer had asked 
anxiously. 

" Oh, it'll go all right," barked the whiskey-throat of 
Halson. " It'll go. All that's worrying me is this blamed 



92 HELD TO ANSWER 

fool Hampstead. How in time I sawed him off on my- 
self is more than I can tell. However, I've engaged a new 
heavy for next week." 

John groped dumbly out into the day. But in the sun- 
shine his spirits rallied. " They can't take this part away 
from me," he exulted and then croaked resolutely : " I'll 
show 'em; I'll show 'em yet. They're bound to like me 
when they see my finished work." 

And that was what he kept saying to himself up to the 
very night of the first performance. But that significant 
occasion brought him face to face with another problem, 
his make-up. 

The matter of costume was simple. It had been rented 
for a week from Goldstein's. It was fearsomely con- 
trived. The trousers were red. Varnished oilcloth leg- 
gings, made to slip on over his shoes, were relied upon to 
give the effect of top boots. The coat was of yellow, with 
spiked tails, with huge, leaf-like chevrons, with rows of 
large, superfluous buttons, and coils on coils of cord of 
gold. 

But make-up could not be hired from a costumer and 
put on like a mask. It was a matter of experience, of in- 
dividuality, and of skill upon the part of the actor. All 
John knew of make-up he had read in the books and 
learned from those experimental daubs in which his 
features had been presented in his own barn-storming pro- 
ductions. The make-up of Ursus had been almost en- 
tirely a matter of excess of hair, acquired by a beard and 
a wig rented for the occasion. This, therefore, was 
really to be his first professional make-up, and Hamp- 
stead was blissfully determined that it should be a stunning 
achievement. 

In order that he might have plenty of time for experi- 
ment, the heavy man entered the dressing rooms at six 
o'clock, almost an hour and a half before any other actor 



JOHN MAKES UP 93 

felt it necessary to appear, and went gravely about his im- 
portant task. 

First treating the pores of his face to a filling of cold 
cream, all the books agreed in this, John chose a dark 
flesh color from among his grease paints and proceeded to 
give himself a swarthy Spanish complexion. Judging 
that this swarthiness was too somber, he proceeded next 
to mollify it by the over-laying of a lighter flesh tint; but 
later, in an effort to redden the cheeks, he got on too much 
color and was under the necessity of darkening it again. 
Thus alternately lightening and darkening, experimenting 
and re-experimenting, seven o'clock found him with a 
layer of grease paint, somewhere about an eighth of an 
inch thick masking his features into almost complete im- 
mobility. 

Next he turned attention to the eyes, blackening the 
lashes and edging the lids themselves with heavy mourn- 
ing. At the outer corners of the eyes he put on a smear 
of white to drive the eye in toward the nose; between the 
corner of the eye and the nose, he was careful to deepen 
the shadow. This was to make his eyes appear close to- 
gether. Down the bridge of the nose he drew a straight 
white stripe to make that organ high and thin and nar- 
row; while in the corner between the cheek and nostril 
went another smear of white, to drive the nose up still 
higher and sharper. 

In the midst of this artistry, Jarvis Parks, the charac- 
ter man, who had been assigned to dress with Hampstead, 
entered. 

" Hello," said John, with an attempt at unconcern. 

" Hard at it," commented Parks, and began with the 
ease of long practice to arrange his make-up materials 
about him, after which deftly, and almost without looking 
at what he was doing, he transformed himself into a 
youthful, rosy-cheeked, navy chaplain. 



94 HELD TO ANSWER 

" Half hour ! " sang the voice of the call boy from below 
stairs. 

John was busy now adjusting a pirate moustache to his 
upper lip by means of liberal swabbings of spirit gum. 
As he worked, he hummed a little tune just to show 
Parks how much at ease and with what satisfied indiffer- 
ence he performed the feat of transposing his fair Saxon 
features into the cruel scowls of a villainous Spanish 
colonel. 

But catching the eye of Parks upon him for a moment, 
Hampstead was puzzled by the expression, although he 
reflected that it was probably admiration, since he cer- 
tainly had got on ever so much better than he expected. 
It surely was a fine make-up a brilliant make-up. 

" Fifteen minutes," sang the voice of the call boy. 

Hampstead could really contain his self-complacency 
no longer. 

" Well," he exclaimed, turning squarely on Parks, 
" what do you think of it? " 

Now if John had only known, he disclosed his whole 
amateurish soul to wise old Parks in that single question, 
for a professional actor never asks another professional 
what he thinks of his make-up. 

" Great ! " responded Parks drily, but again there was 
that look upon his face which Hampstead could not quite 
interpret. 

" Five minutes ! " was bellowed up the stairway. 

Hampstead drew on his coat of brilliant yellow, buckled 
on his sword, and had opportunity to survey himself again 
in the glass and bestow a few more touches to the face 
before the word " overture ", the call boy's final scream of 
exultation, echoed through the dressing rooms. 

The corridor outside John's door was immediately filled 
with the sound of trampling feet, of voices male and 
female, some talking excitedly, some laughing nervously, 



JOHN MAKES UP 95 

every soul aquiver with that brooding sense of the ominous 
which sheds itself over the spirits of a theatrical company 
upon a first night. 

Parks, with a final touch to his hair and a sidewise 
squint at himself, turned and went out. The footsteps 
and voices in the corridor grew fainter and then came 
trailing back from the stainvay like a chatterbox reces- 
sional. 

It was quiet in the dressing rooms, except for a droning 
from across the way, and John knew what that was ; for 
the sweet little ingenue had told him in a moment of confi- 
dence : " On first nights I always go down on my knees 
before I leave my dressing room." There she was now, 
telling her beads. 

" Shall I pray, too ? " he asked, and then answered reso- 
lutely, " No ! Let's wait and see what God'll do to 
me." 

His throat was arid. His lips, from the drying spirit 
gum and the excess of grease paint, were stiff and un- 
responsive. 

"Eternal Hammering is the Price of Success" he mut- 
tered thickly, trying to brace himself. " Now for a great 
big swing with the hammer." But his spirits sagged un- 
accountably, and he turned out into the corridor as if for a 
death march. 

At this moment the area between the foot of the stairs 
and the wings of the stage was a weaving mass of idling 
scene-shifters, hurrying, nervous, property men, and a 
horde of supernumeraries made up as American sailors, 
Spanish soldiers, and Cuban natives. All was movement 
and confusion. 

The principals had drifted to their entrances and taken 
position in the order in which they would appear ; but they 
too were restless ; nobody stood quite still ; at every move- 
ment, at every loud word, everybody turned or looked or 



96 HELD TO ANSWER 

started. The hoarse voice of Halson and his assistant, 
Page, repeatedly resounded. 

As Hampstead descended the stairs upon this strange, 
moving picture, it appeared to him to organize into a 
ferocious, misshapen monster that meant him harm ; or a 
python coiling and uncoiling its gigantic, menacing folds. 
The thing was argus-eyed, too, and every eye stabbed him 
like a lance. 

Emerging upon the floor, John paused uncertainly be- 
fore this hostile wall of prying scrutiny. Somebody 
snickered. A woman's voice groaned " My Gawd ! " and 
followed it with a hysterical giggle. 

Could it be that they were laughing at him ? John felt 
that this was possible; but he stoutly assured himself that 
it was not probable. 

However, just as his features passed under the rays of a 
bunch light standing where it was to illumine with the 
rays of the afternoon sun the watery perspective of a 
jungle scene, he came face to face with the stage manager. 
Halson darted one quick glance, and then a look of horror 
congealed upon his face. 

" In the name of God! " he hissed huskily. " Hamp- 
stead, what have you been doing to yourself ? " 

"Doing to myself?" exclaimed John, trying for one 
final minute to fend off fate. " Why ? What do you 
mean ? " 

Halson's voice floated up in a half humorous wail of 
despair, as he rolled his eyes sickly toward the flies. 

"What do I mean?" he whined. "The man comes 
down here with his face daubed up like an Esquimaux 
totem pole, and he asks me what do I mean ? " 

But Halson was interrupted by a sudden silence from 
the front. The orchestra had stopped. The curtain was 
about to rise. 

" Page ! Page ! " groaned Halson in a frantic whisper, 



JOHN MAKES UP 97 

" Hold that curtain ! Signal a repeat to the orchestra ! 
Here, you ! " to the call boy. " Run for my make-up box. 
Quick!" 

John's knees were trembling, and he felt his cheeks 
scalding in a sweat of humiliation beneath their blanket of 
lurid grease, as Halson turned again upon him with : 

" You poor, miserable, God-forsaken amateur ! " 

Amateur ! There, the word was out at last, and it was 
terrible. No language can express the volume of oppro- 
brium which Halson was able to convey in it. To Hamp- 
stead it could never henceforth be anything but the most 
profane of epithets. As a matter of fact, he was never 
after able to hate any man sufficiently to justify calling 
him an amateur. 

While the orchestra dawdled, while the company of 
" supers " crowded close, and the principals looked sneer- 
ingly on from all distances, Halson made up the heavy's 
face for the part he was to play, thereby submitting John 
Hampstead to the bitterest humiliation of his dramatic 
career. 

Yet once engaged upon this work of artistry, the stage 
manager's wrath appeared to soften. Half cajoling and 
half pleading, he whined over and over again, "If you 
had only told me, Mr. Hampstead! If you had only told 
me, I would have helped you." 

" If I only had told him," reflected John, beginning all 
at once to like Halson, and never suspecting that the man 
in his heart was hating him like a fiend, and that his fear 
that the amateur would go absolutely to pieces under the 
strain of the night was the sole reason for soothing and 
encouraging and commiserating him by turns. 

But now the orchestra grew still again. 

" Aw-right," husked Halson, and Hampstead heard that 
ominous, sliding, rustling sound which to the actor is like 
no other in all the world. 



CHAPTER IX 

A DEMONSTRATION FROM THE GALLERY 

EVERY chair in the orchestra of the People's Theater 
was taken; the boxes were occupied, and as for the odd 
rectangular horseshoe of a gallery, with its advancing 
arms reaching forward almost to the proscenium arch, 
while its rearward tiers rose and faded into distance like 
some vast enclosed bleachers, it seemed a solid mass of 
humanity. The curtain rose on critical silence. The 
repetition of the overture had given a hint that all was not 
running smoothly, and at the first spoken word a jeer came 
from the gallery. The actor stammered and made the 
foolish attempt to repeat his words, but the attempt was 
lost in a clamor of voices. Feet were stamped, hats were 
waved, peanuts and popcorn balls were thrown. The 
actors braced themselves and went on doggedly, but so did 
the balconies, and it presently appeared that something 
like a demonstration was in progress. Swiftly an ex- 
planation of the great masses in the gallery and their 
behavior was passed from mouth to mouth behind the 
scenes. It said they were six hundred south-of-Market- 
Street hoodlums who had been hired by a rival theatrical 
manager to come and break up the performance. 
Whether this was true, or whether the outbreak in the 
gallery was merely the unsuppressible spirit of turbulent 
youth, it stormed on like a simoon, gaining in volume as 
it proceeded. 

For a while the people down-stairs, having paid their 
thirty cents to witness a theatrical performance, protested ; 



DEMONSTRATION FROM THE GALLERY 99 

but they appeared soon to conclude that the show in the 
gallery was the more worth while. Ceasing to protest, 
they began to applaud the trouble-makers and even to abet 
them. 

Behind the scenes panic reigned. The actors at their 
exits bounded off, panting in terror, as if pelted by bullets. 
Those whose cues for entrance came, snatched at them 
excitedly, and like gladiators rushing into the arena, 
plunged desperately upon the stage. The face of the lead- 
ing lady was white beneath her make-up as she almost 
tottered upon the scene. Some instinct of chivalry led 
the mob to desist for a minute while she delivered her 
opening lines. But the demonstration broke out afresh 
as the leading man entered, though he wore the uniform 
of a lieutenant in the navy. His every speech was jeered. 
The excitement grew wilder ; not a word spoken upon the 
stage was heard, even by the leader of the orchestra. 

" My God, what they will do to you, Hampstead ! " ex- 
claimed Halson fiercely, as a detachment in the gallery 
began to march up and down the aisle, the rhythm of their 
heavy steps making the old house shiver like a ship in a 
storm. 

Yet of all the actors trembling behind the scenes, it is 
possible that Hampstead was the very coolest. He had 
been the most perturbed, the most distraught; but this 
counter-disturbance made his own distressing situation 
forgotten. No eyes w r ere riveted on him now. No 
thoughts were on him and the terrible humiliation he had 
publicly endured or the wretched failure he was going to 
make. The best, the most experienced, were in the most 
complete distress clear out of themselves. The lead- 
ing man had become angry, had lost his lines, and did not 
know what he was saying. 

" Stanley's lost ; he's ad-libbing to beat the band," John 
heard Page remark. 



ioo HELD TO ANSWER 

Ad-libbing! It was a new word. In the midst of all 
this confusion, John took note of it and next day learned 
of Parks that it was a stage-participle made from ad 
libitum. An actor ad-libbing was an actor talking on and 
on to fill space in some kind of a stage wait or because, as 
with Stanley, he had forgotten his lines. 

Neumeyer, the " angel ", came in from the front and 
added his white, agitated face to the awed groups standing 
about the wings. 

" They've lost half the first act," he groaned, through 
chattering teeth. " Even when they wear 'emselves out, 
the piece is ruined because the people down-stairs have 
missed the key to the plot." 

" Your cue is coming," bawled Page to John. 

" Don't worry, though," croaked Halson in Hamp- 
stead's ear, still fearful that his man would collapse. 
" The piece is going so rotten you can't make it any worse. 
Cut in!" 

But to his surprise, Hampstead's eye glinted with the 
light of battle. 

"Worry?" he exclaimed excitedly. "Watch me. 
I'm going to get 'em ! " 

Halson gazed in pure pity. 

" Get 'em," he gutturaled. " You poor, God- forsaken 
amateur ! " 

But the cue had come. Colonel Delaro, his sword clat- 
tering, his buttons flashing, his tall figure aglow with color, 
leaped through the entrance and took the center of the 
stage so clumsily that he trod on Stanley's favorite corn 
and hooked a spur in the mantilla trailing from the arm of 
Miss Constance Beverly, the mislaid daughter of a million- 
aire yachtsman; but nevertheless, Hampstead was on. 
'' He had seized the center of the stage and he filled it full, 
as with an ostentatious gesture, he swept off his gold lace 
cap before Miss Beverly. 



DEMONSTRATION FROM THE GALLERY 101 

" What star's this ? " shrieked a voice on one side the 
gallery. 

" No star at all. It's a comet ! " bawled a man from the 
other side, cupping his hands to carry his second-hand wit 
around the auditorium. 

The Spanish War was not then so far back in memory 
that the sight of the uniform did not speedily kindle a 
little popular wrath upon its own account, and the demon- 
stration began again and rose higher, but Hampstead be- 
came neither flustered nor angry. He maintained his 
character and his dignity. He remembered his speeches, 
and delivered them in stentorian tones that sounded vi- 
brantly above the general clamor. W r hen the gallery dis- 
covered to its surprise that here was a voice it could not 
entirely drown, it stopped out of sheer curiosity to see 
what the voice was like and found it as attractive as it was 
forceful. Moreover, there was a kind of special appeal 
in it. It was the voice of a real man; if they had only 
known it, of a man at bay. He was not Colonel Delaro, 
plotting against the liberty and affections of a lady. He 
was John Hampstead, fighting, with his back to the wall, 
fighting for his opportunity, for an accredited position 
in this poor, cheap misfit company, a position which 
seemed to him just now the most desired thing in all the 
world. Furthermore, he was fighting to justify his own 
faith in himself and the faith of Dick and Tayna; yes, 
and the faith of Bessie. 

Hampstead was, moreover, used to rough houses. He 
had faced them more than once on his own barn-storming 
one-night appearances. 

The way to get an audience like this he knew was to 
play it like a fish, to get the first nibble of interest and 
then hold it motionless with the lure of some kind of 
dramatic story. The situation called for a skilled, 
dramatic raconteur, and in truth that was what Hamp- 



102 HELD TO ANSWER 

stead was, not an actor but a recitationist Also his 
talks in church circles had given him skill in extemporane- 
ous speaking. It happened that his speeches in this first 
act completed the introduction of the plot, but they were 
meaningless without a clear knowledge of what already 
had been said. Now Hampstead began, at first instinc- 
tively and then deliberately, as he played, to gather up 
these lost lines of half a dozen actors and weave them into 
his own. The fever of composition seized him. He used 
the people on the stage like puppets. He made them help 
him re-lay the plot while he struggled to grasp the atten- 
tion of the mass child-mind out there in front and enthrall 
it with a story. 

No better way could have been devised of making 
Hampstead overcome his terrible faults of action and de- 
livery. ( With marvelous intensity came more repose. 
His eyes had been changed by the deft hand of Halson till 
they no longer looked like holes in a blanket ; and he shot 
out his speeches, never once in that rhythmic, preaching 
tone, but rapidly, jerkily, plausible or menacing by turns, 
but all the while convincingly. 

Within a few minutes the audience was captured. It 
lost its enthusiasm for riot and sat silent, following first 
the story as Hampstead had retold it and then the action 
which thereafter began to unfold. It was the sheer 
strength of the personality of the man which made this 
possible. In his strength, too, the other players took 
courage ; and soon the action was tightly keyed and mov- 
ing forward to a better conclusion of the act than any re- 
hearsal had ever promised. 

At the fall of the curtain, an avalanche leaped upon 
Hampstead, an avalanche which consisted solely of Hal- 
son. He seemed to have a thousand hands. He was 
slapping John on the back with all of them, in fierce, con- 
gratulatory blows. 



DEMONSTRATION FROM THE GALLERY 103 

" Man ! " he exclaimed. " Man ! You saved it ! You 
saved it ! " 

Neumeyer was capering about deliriously, while tears 
of joy were . trickling from his eyes. Others crowded 
round: Stanley, who had the lead, amiable old Parks, 
Lindsay, Bordwell, Miss Harlan, and the rest. 

The audience, too, was excitedly expressing itself with 
hand-clappings and foot-stampings. 

" Scatter ! " bawled Page. 

The stage swiftly cleared of people as the curtain began 
to rise. 

" Miss Harlan ! " Page was shouting. " Mr. Stanley ! 
Mr. Hampstead ! " 

In the order named, the three emerged and took their 
calls, but the heartiest applause was for the big man in 
yellow and red, who, quite ignoring the orchestra circle, 
showed all his teeth in a cordial and understanding grin 
to the galleries, which thereupon broke out in that hurri- 
cane of hisses which is the heavy's hoped-for tribute. 

Throughout the remainder of the performance, the yel- 
low and scarlet figure of Delaro, with his great, sweeping 
gestures and his vast, bellowing voice, moved, a unique and 
dominating figure; no doubt the first and last time in 
which a villain who as a character was without one re- 
deeming quality was made the hero of the gallery gods. 

With the final fall of the curtain, Hampstead climbed 
to his dressing room, tired but gloriously happy. All the 
company knew his shame, the shame of being an amateur; 
but all, too, knew his power, the power of a man who 
could rise to emergency, who had commanding presence 
and constructive force. 

The dressing rooms were mere partitions open at the 
top, so that everybody could hear what everybody else was 
saying, or could have heard, if only they had stopped to 
listen. But apparently nobody listened. The strain was 



104 HELD TO ANSWER 

over, and everybody talked as if the joy were in the talk- 
ing and not in being heard. Yet after the first few 
minutes of excited bio wing-off of steam, there came a lull, 
as if all had stopped for breath at once. 

Into this lull, Dick Bordwell, the juvenile man, as he 
wiped the grease paint from his face, lifted his fine tenor 
voice in the first half of a queer antiphonal chant, by 
inquiring loudly above his four wooden walls toward the 
common ceiling over all : 

" Who is the greatest leading woman on the American 
stage f" 

" Louise Harlan ! " chanted every voice on the floor, 
their tones mingling merrily, as if they were playing a 
familiar game. 

" Right-o," sang Dick, and chanted next : " Who is 
the greatest leading man on the American stage ? " 

" Billie Stanley ! " chorused the voices, with shrieks of 
laughter. 

" And who," inquired Dick, with an insinuating change 
in his voice, "who is the greatest juvenile man in 
America? " 

" Rich-a-r-r-r-d Bordwell ! " screamed the magpies. 

" Right-o-right ! " echoed Dick, with a grunt of im- 
mense satisfaction; and then he went on piping his in- 
terrogatories, as to the rest of the company, desiring to be 
informed who was the greatest character old man, charac- 
ter old lady, soubrette, light comedian and stage man- 
ager, concluding yet more loudly with : 

" And who is the greatest amateur heavy on the Ameri- 
can stage f " 

As if they had been waiting for it, the voices burst out 
like a college yell : 

"John Hampstead! John Hampstead is the greatest 
amateur heavy on the American stage!" 

The spirit of fun and hearty good will with which this 



105 

initiation ceremony had been performed was salve to the 
bruised, excited soul of John. Besides an ever present 
sense of meanness and hypocrisy from the concealment he 
had practiced, John had suffered a feeling of extreme 
loneliness that had at no time been so great as now, when, 
the strain of the play over, all these children of the stage 
were romping joyously together. Now they had included 
him in the circle of their magic fellowship. True, they 
had used the hateful word amateur, but that was in play, 
and he was sure they would never use it again. 

And he was right from that hour some of them who 
liked him showed it ; some who disliked him showed that ; 
some merely revealed themselves as cool toward him or 
appeared ill at ease in his presence ; but never one of them, 
by word or act, failed from that moment to recognize his 
standing as a man entitled to all the free masonry of 
their unique and fascinating profession. 

But the climax of this climactic night for John was 
reached when, descending the stairway, Halson honored 
him with an astounding confidence. 

" Marien Dounay joins the People's to-morrow," he 
whispered excitedly. 

" Fact ! " he affirmed in response to John's look of sheer 
incredulity. " She's a spitfire and a genius. She can do 
what she likes. She's quarreled with Mowrey. She's 
coming here to spite him. Pie for us while it lasts, huh ? 
She opens as Isabel in East Lynne." 

John knew that Mowrey had come up from Los Angeles 
and was just opening a long season at the Grand Opera 
House ; but Marien Dounay almost a star ! in that 
thread-bare play, East Lynne, in this out-at-elbows com- 
pany, and in this old barn of a house ! Impossible ! 

This was what John was thinking, but he was too weak 
to give it utterance. He wanted Halson's information to 
be true whether it was or not. Yet in the midst of the 



106 HELD TO ANSWER 

elation which began to kindle swiftly, he remembered what 
Halson had said to Neumeyer on Saturday in the dark of 
the orchestra : that a new man had been engaged to play 
the heavies. 

A wave of bitterness surged over him; and yet, he 
reflected, things must be changed. They would scarcely 
let him go after to-night, so he mustered courage to 
inquire : 

" By the way, Halson, what do I play in East Lynne? '' 

11 You play the lead," affirmed Halson, with dramatic 
emphasis. 

"The lead?" John gulped, struggling as if a cobble- 
stone had just been tossed into his throat. 

" Sure ! You'll get away with it, too," declared the 
stage manager with over-enthusiasm, slapping John heav- 
ily upon the back as the big man turned away quickly, 
utterly unwilling that any save two or three not there to 
look should see into his face. 

It would scarcely have diminished his joy to know that 
he was getting the lead simply because Archibald Carlyle 
was such an unredeemed mollycoddle that the leading man 
usually chose to enact the villain, Levison. 



CHAPTER X 

A STAGE KISS 

FOR the strange freak of Miss Marien Dounay in join- 
ing The People's Stock Company, the papers found ready 
explanation in artistic temperament. The brilliant young 
actress, so the story ran, taking umbrage because Miss 
Elsie McCloskey, twin star of the Mowrey cast, was 
chosen to play a part for which Miss Dounay deemed her- 
self specially fitted, had resigned in a huff; and thereupon, 
to spite Mowrey, had signed with this obscure stock com- 
pany playing a dozen blocks away, where it was believed 
her popularity would be sufficient to punish the well-known 
manager in his one vulnerable spot, the box-office. 

But there was one person interested who did not care a 
rap why Marien Dounay was playing Isabel Carlyle, the 
wife of Archibald Carlyle at the People's Stock this week, 
in the time- frazzled drama of East Lynne, and that was 
the man to play Archibald. She was there, and that was 
enough for him, swimming into his ken at the first re- 
hearsal like a vision of some glory too entrancing to belong 
to anything but a dream. 

Had she changed much in the four months since he 
had held her in his arms ? Not at all, unless to grow more 
beautiful. 

Yet if that crude actor fancied himself on terms of more 
than bare acquaintance with this exquisite creature, his 
imagination presumed too far. Miss Dounay's bearing 
made it instantly apparent that she gave herself airs. One 
comprehensive glance was bestowed upon the semicircle 



io8 HELD TO ANSWER 

of the company. Hampstead's portion was more and less, 
a look and a nod. The nod said : " I know you, puppet." 
The look warned : " But do not presume. Stand." 

John stood, wondering. As rehearsals progressed, his 
wonder grew into bewilderment. Miss Dounay treated 
the whole company cavalierly, but she treated him disdain- 
fully. Her feeling for the others was simply negative; 
for him it appeared to be positive. 

As an actress, it developed that she was " up " in the 
part of Isabel, having played it many times. She had, 
moreover, ideas of how every other part should be played 
and was pleased to express them. Nobody protested, Hal- 
son least of all. She was a " find " for the People's. As 
a director, too, Miss Dounay was masterful. A languid 
glance, a single word, a very slight intonation, had more 
force than one of Halson's ranting commands. And she 
was instinctively competent. 

Hampstead, despite his own sad experience, watched 
her open-mouthed. This young woman, it appeared, was 
an intellectual force as well as a magnetic one. She cut 
speeches or interpolated them, altered business, and in one 
instance rearranged an entire scene, while in another she 
boldly reconstructed the conclusion of an act. The storm 
center round which much of this cutting, slicing, and fat- 
tening took place was Hampstead. She heckled him un- 
mercifully about the reading of his lines, ridiculed his 
gestures, and badgered him to madness. 

On the fourth day of this, John moped out of the 
theater, head down, reflecting bitterly upon the illusory 
character of woman, of which he knew so little, 
moped so slowly that Parks overtook him on the first 
corner. 

" This woman is a friend of yours," Parks proposed 
tentatively. 

" I thought she was," sighed Hampstead weakly, " but 



A STAGE KISS 109 

she keeps cutting my speeches. By the end of the week, I 
won't have any part left at all." 

Parks indulged a self-satisfied chuckle at the keenness of 
his own discernment. 

" Don't you see," he explained, " she's cutting the stuff 
you do badly. She took away from you a situation in 
which you were awkward and unreal. She changed that 
scene around and left you with a climax in which you are 
positively graceful as well as forceful. You'll get a big 
hand in it. She studies you. I've watched her." 

" Old man," blurted Hampstead, with sudden fervor, 
" it w r ould make me the happiest man in the world if I 
thought that you were right. But you are wrong, and 
her badgering has begun to get on my nerves. Say ! " and 
he interrupted himself to ask a question not yet answered 
to his satisfaction. "Why is she here? with the 
People's, I mean ? " 

" You've heard the stories," answered Parks, with a 
shrug. " However, I doubt if it's any mere whim. She 
appears to me to have a cool, good reason for anything 
she does." 

Parks turns off at Ninth Street, and John moved on 
down Market. " A cold good reason for what she does," 
he murmured. " What's the answer, I wonder, to what 
she does to me ? " 

As the days went on, John's wonder grew. 

Now it is according to the method of dramatists that 
when a husband is to be abandoned by his wife in the 
second act there shall be certain tender passages between 
the two in the first act, and this ancient drama was no 
exception. There were contacts, handclasps, embraces, 
kisses. Through all of these at rehearsal time the two 
went mechanically. Miss Dounay apparently treated 
Hampstead with mere indifference, but actually she found 
a thousand little ways to show utter repugnance. After 



no HELD TO ANSWER 

the first shock, John's combative instinct and his pride led 
him to face this situation, so difficult for a gentleman, un- 
flinchingly. Taking her hands, pressing her to him, pat- 
ting her cheek, playing with the wisps of hair upon her 
temple, he conscientiously rehearsed the part of the affec- 
tionate, doting husband. His very sincerity, it would 
seem, must have been a rebuke to the woman. She must 
have seen that his heart was stirred by an unexplained 
feeling toward her, and might have observed in his deter- 
mined bearing under the galling fire of her man-baiting 
something noble. 

Here, if she could only perceive it, was a man who had 
turned his back on at least one of the kingdoms of this 
world to become an actor ; a man who would endure any- 
thing, suffer anything to add to his knowledge and skill in 
that difficult and all demanding art; which, indeed, was 
why he laid himself open to her polished ridicule by over- 
playing every scene, overemphasizing every word, over- 
expressing every gesture and emotion. 

But she never relented, not even on the night of the first 
performance. Instead she became more aggressive in her 
antagonism, her method changing from subtle scorn to 
open derision. 

Now among experienced actors there are a great many 
things which may take place upon the stage unsuspected of 
the audience. On this night, all through the tender ex- 
changes of that first act, Miss Dounay seized upon inter- 
vals when her back was to the front to throw a grimace at 
John, to do, or sotto voce to say, something irritating or 
ludicrous that would throw him out of character, or, as 
the profession puts it, " break him up." John steeled 
himself against all of this and went on playing with that 
dignity of earnestness which seemed to characterize all 
his life, until it would appear the climax of malice was 
reached when, as Miss Dounay hung about his neck, she 



A STAGE KISS in 

laughed in the midst of one of his tenderest speeches, and 
whispered : 

" There is a daub of smut on the end of your nose." 

To John this communication was an arrow poisoned by 
the subtle power of suggestion. Was there smut upon his 
nose? If there were and he touched it with a finger, it 
would smear and ruin his make-up. If he did not remove 
it, the audience would observe it the first time he came 
down stage and laugh. On the other hand, he did not 
believe that there was smut upon his nose. How could it 
get there ? In no way unless some joker had doctored the 
peephole in the curtain just before he peered out at the 
audience. 

Smutted or not smutted? To touch his nose or let it 
alone? That was the maddening question. The puzzle 
and the doubt disconcerted him. His memory faltered, 
his tongue stumbled, and a feeling of awful helplessness 
came over him. He was breaking up! He was out of 
character! This devilish woman had succeeded. She 
saw it, too. John read the exultation in her eyes, and it 
filled him with indignation until a wave of wrath surged 
over his great frame like a storm. Miss Dounay saw his 
eyes grow suddenly stern with a light she had never noticed 
in them. One arm was encircling her in a caress, the 
other hand rested upon her shoulders. For one instant 
she felt this embrace tighten into a python grip that was 
terrifying. The man's position had not changed. To the 
audience it was still a mere pose, an expression of endear- 
ment. 

But to Marien Dounay it was an ominous hint that this 
great amiable child had in him the primal elements of a 
brutal strength. A look of alarm shot into her face, and 
she whispered : 

"Don't, John! Don't." 

The tone of her voice was pleading. She, the proud, 



H2 HELD TO ANSWER 

had cringed. She had called him John. She had sur- 
rendered. 

" It was just a mean little fib," she whispered, and for 
a moment clung to him helplessly. 

John, greatly surprised, was not too much surprised to 
feel the exultant surge of victory. For one moment he 
had lost control of himself, but in that moment he appeared 
to have gained control of Marien. 

The strangest thing was that Miss Dounay seemed 
rather happy about it herself ; and the wide range of the 
woman's capacity was revealed by her swift transition to a 
mood of purring contentment and a spirit of affectionate 
camaraderie that presently reached a surprising climax. 

The act ended in the garden, with Isabel seated on a 
rustic bench, and Archibald bending over her. As the 
curtain descended, he was to stoop and print a kiss of 
tenderest respect upon her forehead. But now, as the cur- 
tain trembled, Miss Dounay lifted not her forehead but her 
lips, and held them, warm and clinging, to his for an in- 
stant that to Hampstead seemed a delicious, thrilling eter- 
nity, from which he emerged like a man newborn. 

But the male instinct to gloat was the first clear thought. 

" You do like me, don't you ? " he breathed exultantly, 
while the curtain was down for an instant. Marien 
answered with her eyes and a quick affirmative nod, be- 
fore the curtain bounded upward again for a last picture 
of husband and wife gazing into each other's eyes with a 
look expressing an infinitude of fondness. But John had 
ceased to be Archibald. What his look expressed was an 
infinitude of mystery and joy. 

" And they say there is no satisfaction in a stage kiss ! " 
he whispered to himself as he leaped up the stairs to his 
dressing room. 



CHAPTER XI 

SEED TO THE WIND 

THE next night Miss Dounay gave John her forehead 
instead of her lips to kiss, but she heckled him no more, 
and it was perfectly obvious to him, as to Parks, that she 
helped him deliberately and had been helping him all along 
by her stage direction. 

"If you've got her interested in you, you're fixed for 
life," grumbled Parks wistfully. " That girl's going up 
the line, and she's got stuff enough to take somebody else 
with her." 

There was a suggestion in this which John resented. 

" I'm going up, too," he rejoined with the defiant ex- 
uberance of youth, " but on my own steam." 

Parks looked at John up and down, and laughed, 
just that and nothing more. The old man's frankness 
was comforting at times; at others disagreeable. John 
moved away irritated, and his head went up into the clouds 
of his dreams. But there was something in what Parks 
had suggested that kept coming back to his mind. True, 
Miss Dounay never exchanged more than the merest 
words of courtesy with John off the stage. But on the 
stage and at rehearsal it really did seem as if there was a 
very nice little understanding growing up between them. 

Off stage John dreamed of going to call upon her. In 
his little room he thought of her much and hungrily. 
That he should think hungrily was not strange, since he 
was hungry. His salary was twenty dollars a week. To 
send half to Rose, and save money to meet his wardrobe 



H4 HELD TO ANSWER 

bills, he lived on two meals a day. The morning meal, 
taken at half-past nine, consisted of coffee and cakes, and 
cost ten cents. The evening meal was taken at half-past 
five. It was a grand course dinner that went from soup 
to pie, and its cost was fifteen cents. The tip to the 
waitress was a smile. 

When one goes supperless to bed, dreams come lightly 
and are fantastic. John's dreams were of banqueting 
after the play with Marien Dounay. Greenroom gossip 
had it that Marien lived royally but in modest thrift; 
that her French maid, Julie, was also cook and house- 
keeper; that Marien's disposition was domestic and yet 
convivial. That instead of a supper down town in one 
of the brilliant cafes, she preferred the seclusion of her 
small but cozy apartment, and the triumphs of Julie at a 
tiny gas grill, supplemented and glorified by her own 
skill with the chafing dish. That there were nights when 
she supped alone, but others when a lady or two, or much 
more likely a gentleman, or mayhap two gentlemen were 
honored with invitations to this feast of goddesses; for 
tiny, efficient, ambidextrous Julie was in her way as much 
of an aristocrat as her mistress, and as skillful in im- 
parting the suggestion that she was herself of some su- 
perior clay. Subject to the whims of her mistress, she, 
too, had whims, and made men and women not only 
respect but admire them. Rumor said that if an invitation 
to one of these midnight revels with toothsome food 
under the personal direction of this flashing beauty ever 
came, it was on no account to be despised, especially if a 
man were hungry either for beauty or for food. 

John Hampstead was hungry for food, and now he 
began to feel hungry also for beauty. This last was 
really a new appetite. John, through all his struggling 
years, had of course his thoughts of woman as all men 
have, but vaguely, as something a long way off, in- 



SEED TO THE WIND 115 

definitely postponed. Yet ever since he carried Lygia 
in his arms, these thoughts of woman had been recurring 
as something nearer, more tangible, and more necessary 
even. As for that kiss in the garden scene of East 
.Lynne! Well, there was something wonderfully awak- 
ening in that kiss. It was worlds different from that 
brotherly, sympathetic little kiss he had given Bessie yon- 
der upon the rocks. 

By the way, why did Bessie cry ? He used to won- 
der sometimes why she did! And why did Marien 
Dounay taunt him till he was angry enough to beat her, 
.and then kiss him? 

Women were hard to understand. They seemed to 
do things that had no meaning; to use words not to con- 
vey but to conceal thought; and they spoke half their 
speeches in riddles. However, John reflected that when 
he had been with women more, he would know them 
better. And in the meantime he supplemented his pro- 
fessional contacts with Marien by thinking of her con- 
stantly, even to the point where his absorbing interest 
led him to follow her home at night after the play, 
keeping always at a safe distance behind, and to stand 
across the street and watch till the light went on in that 
third-story bay-window on Turk Street near Mason ; and 
then still to stand, trying to interpret the meaning of 
shadows moving across the window for uncounted hours, 
till the light went out, sometimes at two and sometimes 
later, or until a policeman bade him move on. If any 
one had told John that he was falling in love with Marien 
Dounay, he would have indignantly rejected the idea. 
She held a fascinating interest for him, that was all. 
Something basic in him was attracted by something basic 
in her, and he yielded to it wonderingly, experimentally 
almost, and that was all it amounted to. 

But on the night that Miss Dounay completed her en- 



n6 HELD TO ANSWER 

gagement at the People's, for her tiff with Mowrey was 
over in just four weeks, the opportunity came to John to 
submit his feelings to more searching experimentation. 

It had been his custom to wait in the shadowy wings 
each night to see the object of his solicitous interest de- 
part, supposing himself always to be unobserved. But 
on this last night Marien surprised him into nervous thrills 
by walking over into the shadow with the cool assurance 
of an autocrat, and saying : 

" Come home to supper with me, John." 

At the same time Miss Dounay took the big man's arm 
as comfortably as if the matter had been arranged the 
week before last, and John walked out as if on air, but 
hurriedly. That soft touch upon his arm made him 
hungry with indescribable anticipations. Moreover, he 
was stirred by an itching curiosity concerning the whole 
of the intimate personal life of Marien Dounay. Who 
was she ? What was she ? How was she ? 

Yet on the very threshold of the little apartment, his 
sense of what was conventional in the world out of which 
he had come halted him. 

" Should I ? " he asked huskily, as the door stood 
open. " Would it be proper ? " 

" Most particularly proper, innocent ! " laughed Marien. 
" At the theater Julie is my maid ; at home she is my 
housekeeper, my social secretary, my companion, and 
chaperone." 

While the light of reassurance kindled on John's face, 
Marien gently drew him inside. 

" Behold ! " she exclaimed with a stage gesture, when 
the door was closed behind him. " My temporary home ; 
my balcony window overlooking the street, my alcove 
wherein I sleep, the kitchenette in which we cook; be- 
hind that the bath, and back of that Julie's own room. 
Isn't it dear?" 



SEED TO THE WIND 117 

" Dear ! " That was a woman's word. Bessie said 
that about her invitation paper for the Phrosos. 

" Dear?" he breathed, comparing it in one swift esti- 
mating glance to his own barren cell. " It's a para- 
dise!" 

" So much more seclusion than in hotels," declared 
Marien, and then went on to say in that sort of tone 
which belongs to an air of frank and simple comrade- 
ship : " So much less expensive, too. Do you know 
what saves a girl in this business? Money! Ready 
money. And do you know what ruins her? Extrava- 
gance debt. We are very economical, Julie and I. 
We have what crooks call ' fall money ', laid by for any 
emergency. That's what you'll need to do. Save half 
your salary every week. There'll be weeks you don't 
play, weeks when you have to go to expense. You may 
be ill or have an accident, or your company will close un- 
expectedly. Save. Save your money ! " 

Marien uttered these bits of practical wisdom, which 
were to John the revelation of an unthought-of side of 
this exquisite young woman's character while she was 
conducting him toward the window. 

" Sit here," she commanded. " Look straight down 
Turk. See the lights battling with the fog. Listen to 
the waning music of the night in this noisy, cobbly, clangy 
city. Don't turn your head till I say ! " 

The lights were indeed beautiful, each with its halo 
of mist. The clanging bells of cars, and even the horrible 
squeak of the wheels as they turned a curve, with the 
low singing of the cables that drew them, did rise up 
like the orchestration of some strange new motif of the 
night that lulled him till he was only faintly conscious 
of the opening and closing of doors and a rustling at the 
other end of the room. 

" Now ! " called the voice of Marien cheerily, awaken- 



n8 HELD TO ANSWER 

ing him with a sudden thrill to the realization of her 
presence. 

She stood at the far end of the room, surveying her- 
self in a long mirror. Her figure was draped rather 
than dressed in a silken, shimmering texture of black, 
splashed with great red conventional flowers. The gar- 
ment flowed loosely at neck, sleeves, and waist, and the 
fabric was corrugated by a succession of narrow, ver- 
tical, unstitched pleats, which gave an illusory effect of 
yielding to every movement of the sinuous body and yet 
clinging the closer while it yielded. As John gazed, 
Marien belted this flowing drapery at the waist with a. 
knot of tiny crimson cord, and then released her coils 
of rich dark hair so that they fell to her hips in a flutter- 
ing cascade as silky as the texture of her robe. 

When she advanced to him, the shimmering, billowy 
movements of the gown matched the rhythmic sway of her 
limbs as completely as the red splashes upon it matched 
the color of her cheeks. She came laughing softly, and 
bearing in her hand a pair of tiny red and gold slippers. 

A low divan ran along one side of the room, piled 
high with gay cushions. Near the foot of it was a Roman 
chair. 

"Sit here," said Marien, indicating the chair; and 
John, as if obeying stage directions, complied, while his 
hostess sank back luxuriously amid the cushions and by 
the same movement presented a slim, neatly booted foot 
upon the edge of the divan, so very near to the big man's 
hand as to embarrass him. At the same time she held 
up the slippers to his notice and observed with a nod to- 
ward the boot : 

" As a mark of special favor.'* 

For a moment John's face reddened, and he looked the 
awkwardness of his state of mind, his tyz$ gjiifting from 
the boot to Marien's face and back again. 



SEED TO THE WIND 119 

Her face took on an amused smile, and the boot wiggled 
suggestively. 

" Oh," exclaimed John, blushing with fresh confusion 
at his own dullness as he bent forward and began to 
struggle with the buttons of the boot. 

" You see," he explained presently, still worrying with 
the combination of the first button, "you see well, I 
guess I don't know women very well." 

Marien laughed happily. 

" Stage women ! " John added, as if by an afterthought. 

" Stage women," affirmed Marien loyally, " are no dif- 
ferent from other women only wiser." Then she 
tagged her speech sententiously with, " They have to be. 
Careful! You will tear the buttons off. And you 
you are pinching me ! " 

" I beg your pardon," stammered John. " But there 
are so very many of these buttons." 

After an interval during which Marien had appeared 
to watch his labors with amused interest, she asked, with 
mocking humor : 

" Are you hurrying or delaying ? I can't quite make 
out." 

But John was by this time enjoying the to him novel 
situation, and merely chuckled happily in reply to this 
thrust. When the shoes were off, by a mystifying move- 
ment Marien snuggled first one stockinged foot and then 
the other into the gold embroidered slippers and with a 
sigh of contentment appeared to float among her pillows, 
while she contemplated with smiling attention the face of 
Hampstead. Presently she asked smiling: 

" Are you a man or a boy, I wonder ? " 

Feeling himself drifting farther and farther under the 
personal spell of this magnetic woman, and entirely will- 
ing to be enthralled, John answered her only with his 
eyes. 



120 HELD TO ANSWER 

" That's the Ursus look," she laughed softly, as if it 
pleased her. 

A silver cigarette case was on a tabaret within reach of 
her hand. 

" Have a cigarette ! " she proposed. 

John declined, a trifle embarrassed by the proffer. Miss 
Dounay lighted one and puffed a small halo above her 
head before she looked across at him again and asked 
quizzically : 

"You do not smoke?" 

"And I do not think women should," Hampstead re- 
plied, with level eyes. 

" It is a horrid habit," she confessed, " but this busi- 
ness will drive women to do horrid things. Listen, 
Hampstead. It's hard for a man ; you've found that out, 
and you're only beginning. It's harder for a woman; 
the despairs, the disappointments, the bitter lonelinesses, 
the beasts of men one meets ! But " With a shrug 
of her shoulders she suddenly broke off her train of 
thought, and turning an inquiring glance on Hampstead 
asked : 

" You never smoked ? " 

" Oh, yes," confessed John, " but I quit it. I decided 
it would not be good for me/' 

She regarded him narrowly, and asked : 

" You would not do a thing which did not appear good 
for you?" 

There was just a little accent on the " good." 

" I have tried to calculate my resources," John con- 
fessed, resenting that accent. 

Again Miss Dounay contemplated him in silence. 

" You are a singularly calculating young man, I should 
say," she decreed finally. " And how long, may I ask, 
have you been living this calculating life? " 

Marien was making a play upon his word " calculate." 



SEED TO THE WIND 121 

" Seven years, I should say," replied John, thinking 
back. 

" Seven years ? " she mused. " Seven ! And you feel 
that it has paid?" 

" Immensely," replied John aggressively. 

" By the way, how old are you, Ursus ? " 

This was what the old actor had asked. People were 
always asking John how old he was. 

" Twenty-five," John answered a trifle apologetically. 
" I got started late. And you ? " 

The question was put without hesitation, as if it were 
the next thing to say. 

" A man does not ask a woman her age in polite con- 
versation," suggested Marien tentatively. 

" He does not," replied John quickly, " if he thinks the 
answer is likely to be embarrassing." 

Marien's face flushed with pleasure. 

" Oh, hear him ! " she laughed. " This heavy man is 
not so heavy, after all; but," she added, with another in- 
sinuating inflection, " he is always calculating." Then 
she went on, " You are right. The confession to you at 
least is not embarrassing. I am twenty-four years old, 
and I, too, have been living a calculating life for seven 
years." 

" For seven years. How odd ! " remarked John, rather 
excited at discovering even a slight parallel between him- 
self and this brilliant creature. 

" Yes," Marien replied. " I ran away from home at 
sixteen. I have been on the stage eight years. The 
first year was a careless one. The other seven have been 
calculating years." 

John could think of no words in which to describe the 
sinister significance which Marien now managed to get 
into her drawling utterance of that word " calculating." 
She made it express somehow the plotting villainies of an 



122 HELD TO ANSWER 

lago, of a Richard the Third and a Lady Macbeth, and 
then overlaid the sinister note with something else, an im- 
pression of lofty abandon, of immolation, as if, in cal- 
culating her life, she had laid upon the altar all there was 
of herself everything in order to attain some su- 
preme end. 

John, staring at her, got a sudden intuitive gleam of 
a woman who was not only ambitious as he was ambitious, 
but wildly, dangerously ambitious, with a danger that 
was not to herself alone, but -to any who stood near 
enough to be trampled on as she climbed upward, dan- 
gerous to one who might love her, for example ! 

He got the thought clearly in his mind, too; yet only 
for a moment, and to be crowded out immediately by 
another thought, or indeed, a succession of thoughts, all 
induced by the picture she made amid her cushions. 

How beautiful she was! How very, very beautiful! 
And how magnetic! How she had made the blood run 
in his veins when she lay upon his breast as Lygia, their 
hearts beating, their souls stirring together ! 

And now she had resigned herself for an hour to his 
company, had given him her confidence, was awaiting, as 
it seemed, his pleasure, while the color came and went 
in her cheeks, while subdued lights danced in the dark 
pools beneath lazily drooping lashes, and the filmy gown 
which sheathed her body stirred with every breath as if a 
part of her very self. 

Lying there like this, her presence ceased soon to in- 
duce thoughts and began to stimulate impulses. Hamp- 
stead longed to reach out and lay a hand upon her. She 
was so alluring and so, so helpless. 

For weeks now he had allowed himself to dream of 
her as possibly the woman of his destiny, not admitting 
it, but still dreaming it. Here in his presence, she sud- 
denly ceased to be even a woman. She was just Woman ; 



SEED TO THE WIND 123 

and the primal attraction of the elemental man is not for 
the woman. Fundamentally, it is just for woman. And 
here was Woman, the whole race of woman, beautiful, 
bewitching, compulsive. 

An odor began to float in from the kitchenette, an odor 
that was not of coffee and cakes, nor of grease upon the 
top of a range in a dirty little restaurant. It was savory 
and fragrant, and it filled his nostrils. It reminded him 
of all the appetizing meals he had ever eaten. It made 
him hungry with all the hungers he had ever known ; his 
brain was reeling ; he was going to faint, and with mere 
appetite. Yet the appetite was not for food. 

With a kind of shock he recognized the nature of his 
appetite. The shock passed; but the hunger remained. 
John felt that he himself was somehow changed. He 
was not the Chairman of the Prayer Meeting Committee 
of the Christian Endeavor Society, not a Deacon of the 
grand old First Church. He was instead the man that 
the Reverend Charles Thompson Campbell feared for and 
prayed for. He was the man whose heavy ridged brows 
had indicated to the shrewd old actor a nature packed full 
of racial dynamite. 

And Woman was fulminating the dynamite. Delib- 
erately or recklessly or innocently ; but none the less 
surely. Her lips were pliant. Her form was plastic. The 
smouldering light in the eyes, the lashes drooping lazily, 
the witchery of a dark tress which coiled upon the white 
soft shoulder, all combined in the appeal of physical 
charm. To this, Woman added the subtle, madden- 
ing witchery of silence, breathing, watchful, waiting 
quiet. 

This silence continued until it became oppressive, explo- 
sive even. 

Would she not speak ? He could not. Would she not 
move ? He dared not. 



I2 4 HELD TO ANSWER 

As if in response to this frenzy of thought, the ripe lips 
parted in a smile that added one more lovely detail to the 
picture by revealing rows of pearly, even teeth, and her 
hand began to move toward him. 

" Don't touch me don't," he found himself pleading 
suddenly. 

But already the hand was laid tenderly upon his own, 
and Hampstead returned the clasp like one who holds the 
poles of a battery and cannot let go. 

Laughing softly, Woman drew Man gently to her, his 
eyes gazing fascinated into the depths of hers, his body 
bending weakly, nearer and nearer. 

"John!" she breathed softly, "John!" 

But at the first warmth of breath upon his cheek, the 
explosion came. He snatched her in his arms as if she 
had been a child, and pressed her to his heart rapturously, 
but violently. And then his lips found hers, vehemently, 
almost brutally, as if he would take revenge upon them 
for the passion their sight and touch had roused in him. 
She struggled, but he pressed her tighter and tighter, till 
at length she gave up, and he felt only the rhythmic pul- 
sing of her body. 

When at length he released the lips and held the face 
from him to gaze into it fondly, her eyes were closed, and 
the head fell limply over his arm with the long tresses 
sweeping to the floor. 

In sudden compunction he placed her tenderly upon 
the divan. 

" I have hurt you, Marien ; I have hurt you. Forgive 
me ; oh, forgive me ! " he implored in tones of deep feel- 
ing. 

When she remained quite motionless, he asked, fool- 
ishly, " Marien, have you fainted ? " 

Slowly her bosom rose with a respiration so deep and 
long that it seemed to stir every fold of her pleated gown 



SEED TO THE WIND 125 

and every cushion on the divan, while with the eyes still 
closed the face moved gently from si'de to side to convey 
the negative. 

" Thank God ! " he groaned, dropping to his knees be- 
side her, where, seizing her hand, he began to press his 
kisses upon it. 

Presently disengaging the hand, Marien lifted it, felt 
her way over his face and began to push back the towsled 
mop of hair from his brow, and to stroke it affection- 
ately. 

" I thought I had hurt you," he crooned. 

" You did," she murmured. 

" Oh, I am so, so sorry," he breathed, seizing her hand 
once more and pressing it against his heart. 

" I do not think I am sorry," she sighed contentedly, 
and was still again, the lashes lying flat upon her cheeks, 
the long tresses in disarray about her head. 

Lying there so white and motionless, she looked to John 
like a crushed flower. Her very beauty was broken. As 
he gazed, remorse and contrition overcoming him, her lips 
parted in a half smile while she whispered : 

" The the calculated life cannot always be depended 
upon, can it ? " 

Innocently spoken, the words came to John with the 
force of a reproach, which hurt all the more because he 
was sure no reproach had been meant. She had trusted 
him, and he had failed. His sense of guilt was already 
strong. At the words he leaped up and rushed toward 
the hat-tree upon which his hat and coat had been dis- 
posed. Yet before he could seize them and start for the 
door, Marien was before him, barring his way, looking 
pale but majestic, like a disheveled queen. 

" Let me go," he said stubbornly. " I am unworthy to 
be here." 

" Stay," she whispered, in a tone sweeter, tenderer, 



126 HELD TO ANSWER 

than he had ever heard her use before. " It is my wish. I 
do not," and she hesitated for a word, " I do not misun- 
derstand you poor, lonely, hungry man ! " 
" Supper, Madame! " piped the voice of Julie. 



CHAPTER XII 

A THING INCALCULABLE 

ONE whole month passed before John sat again at mid- 
night in the Roman chair with Marien vis-a-vis upon her 
heaped-up cushions. Many things may happen in a 
month. Many did in this. For John it was a month of 
progress in his art. Though the People's Stock Company 
had passed out of existence within two weeks after Marien 
Dounay's departure from it, John had done so well that 
he found no difficulty in securing an engagement as heavy 
man across the bay in Oakland with the Sampson Stock, 
the grade of which was higher and its permanency well 
established. 

It was also a month of progress in his passion for 
Marien Dounay, although during all those thirty days 
he did not see her once. In the meantime imagination 
fed him. Every memory of that night and every deduc- 
tion from those memories fanned the flame of his infatua- 
tion. Each in itself was slight, but they were like a thou- 
sand gossamer webs. Once spun, their combined holding 
power was as the strength of many cables. 

Take, for instance, the environment in which he found 
her. It spoke gratifyingly to him of a genuinely good, 
modest nature to see that she shrank away from the garish 
theatrical hotels to this quiet nest with Julie. It revealed 
a true woman's instinct for domesticity not only surviving 
but flourishing in this vagabond life to which her pro- 
fession compelled her. 

And yet how unlike the life of the fine women he had 
known in the old First Church. It would have so shocked 



128 HELD TO ANSWER 

them, this roving, Bohemian life that turned the night 
into day, the deep-sleep time from twelve to three into 
the leisure, happy, carefree hours that were like the sun 
at noon instead of the dark of midnight. How unbe- 
coming it would have been in those coddled home-keep- 
ing women of the First Church, this reversal of life, 
how immoral even! Yet to her it was natural. In her 
it was moral. It did pay a proper respect to those con- 
ventions which protect the character and happiness of 
woman. It was not prudish. It was better than prudish, 
it was good. Her virtue was not forced. It was hardy, 
indigenous, self -enveloping. Yes, this whole mode of 
life became her in her profession. 

And the thought that he was of her profession threw 
him into raptures. Hers was a life into which he could 
enter, had entered already, by reason of the favor she 
had shown him. What could that favor mean ? Nothing 
else but love. She had given him too much, forgiven him 
too much in that one evening for him to question that at 
all. 

And he loved her ! Doubt on that score had vanished 
so many days ago that he could not remember he had ever 
doubted it. 

That the partnership could not at first be equal, he was 
humiliatingly aware ; but the development of his own pow- 
ers would soon balance the inequality. However, it was 
something else that for the moment wiped out of mind the 
enormity of his presumption, and this was that memory 
of unpleasant experiences at which she had hinted. The 
thought of this beautiful, ambitious, devoted creature 
battling her way alone among selfish, brutal, designing 
men was 'maddening to him. The chivalrous impulse to 
be with her, to protect her, to battle for her, made him 
forget entirely considerations of inequality, and he pre- 
pared to offer himself boldly. If she did not invite him 



A THING INCALCULABLE 129 

again soon, he meant to seek her out; but the invitation 
came before his processes had reached that stage. 

John was impatiently prompt. His eyes leaped upon 
her eagerly as if to make sure she was still real, still the 
flesh and blood confirmation of his passion. She was, 
not a doubt of it. Her eye was bright; the clasp of her 
hand was warm. Her personal power was never more 
evident, its whimsical manifestations never more varied, 
interesting, or captivating than now. 

To John, no longer quite so hungry, for his salary was 
larger now, that supper was not so much a meal as a series 
of delightful additions to his impressions of the finer 
side of the character of Marien. But with the supper 
despatched, and his beautiful hostess again lolling in lux- 
urious relaxation, it was her personality once more rather 
than her character which began to play upon him like an 
instrument with strings. Lazily she brooded and mused, 
talked and was silent, drifting from momentary vivacities 
to periods of depressed abstraction. Again and again 
John felt her eyes upon him scrutinizingly, estimatingly 
almost, it seemed to him. Because it was a supremely 
blissful experience to submit himself thus to the play of 
her moods, John postponed the declaration he felt im- 
pelled to make until it burst from him irresistibly, like a 
geyser. 

" Listen! " he broke out excitedly, and began to pour 
out impetuously the tale of his swiftly ripened infatua- 
tion. 

Marien did listen at first as if surprised, and then with 
a flush of pleasure that steadily deepened on her cheeks. 
Even when he had concluded she sat for a moment with 
lips half parted, eyes half closed, and an expression of en- 
chantment upon her face as if listening to music that she 
wished might flow on forever. 

" Do not speak ! " John protested suddenly, as her ex- 



130 HELD TO ANSWER 

pression appeared to change. " The picture is too beau- 
tiful to spoil. Let me take from your lips in silence the 
kiss that seals our betrothal." 

But Marien held him off with sudden strength. 

" Marien, I love you. I love you," he protested vehe- 
mently. 

" No," Marien replied, lifting herself higher amid the 
pillows and speaking alertly as if she had just been given 
words to answer. " You do not love me. You love the 
thing you think I am." 

John's blond brows were lifted in mute protest. 

" Listen ! " she exclaimed. " You compelled me to lis- 
ten. Now I must compel you to listen mad, impetuous 
man ! " and she seemed almost resentful. " In what you 
have just been saying, you have written a part for me. 
You have given me a character. If I could play that part 
always, I should be what you are in love with, and you 
would love me always ; but I cannot play it always ; I can 
play it seldom. I play it now for an hour and then per- 
haps never again." 

" Never again? " Hampstead gasped, something in the 
finality of her tone thrilling him through with a hollow, 
sickening note. 

Her eyelids narrowed as she replied : " You forget 
that I, too, live the calculating life." 

There was again that mysteriously sinister meaning in 
her utterance of the word " calculating." 

" The key to my life is not love ; it cannot be love," she 
went on. " I am not the purring kitten you have de- 
scribed. It angers me to have you think so. I am not 
a thing to love and fondle. I am a tigress tearing at one 
object. I am," and in the vehement force of her utter- 
ance she seemed to grow tall and terrible, " I am an am- 
bitious woman ! An unscrupulous, designing, clambering, 
ambitious woman ! " 



A THING INCALCULABLE 131 

" But I love you, Marien," John iterated weakly. 

" There is no place for love in the calculating life," she 
rejoined unhesitatingly. " Love is a thing incalculable." 
Yet as she uttered this sentence, her tone softened, and 
her eyes had a look of awe and hunger oddly mixed in 
them; but immediately the expression of resolute ambi- 
tion succeeded to her features. 

" When I am at the top," she proposed loftily. 

" But the better part of life may be gone then," John 
protested bitterly. " The top ! When shall we reach the 
top?" 

" I shall reach it in a bound when my opportunity 
comes," Marien answered with cool assurance. " No- 
body, not even myself, knows how good I am. Any night 
some man may sit in front who has both the judgment 
to see and the money to command playwrights, theaters, 
New York appearances to order. When they come, I 
shall conquer. Oh," and her eyes sparkled while she 
shivered with a thrill of self-gratulation, " it is wonderful 
to feel the great potential thing inside of you, to know 
that your wings are strong enough to fly and you only 
wait the coming of the breeze. It is dazzling, intoxica- 
ting, to think that within three months I may be a Broad- 
way star; that within a year the whole English-speaking 
world may recognize that a new queen of the emotional 
drama and of tragedy has been crowned. Until that 
hour," and she lowered her voice as she checked the exal- 
tation of her mood, " until that hour a lover would be a 
millstone." 

" But," exulted John, " you are not at the top yet. I 
may arrive first ! " 

Marien looked him up and down and laughed, just 
laughed, about the look and laugh that Parks had given 
him. 

Hampstead's eager face flushed. 



132 HELD TO ANSWER 

" You do not think that possible," he challenged aggres- 
sively. 

" No, dear boy," replied the woman, her tone and 
manner swiftly sympathetic, " I know it is not possible. 
You do not realize how far you have to go. If you 
have genius, you do not show it. You have talent, tem- 
perament, intelligence, application; these may win for 
you, but the way will be long and the compensation un- 
certain. If you persist for ten, fifteen, maybe twenty 
years, till some of your exuberance has died, till ex- 
perience has rounded you off, till you have learned from 
that great big compelling teacher out there in front, the 
audience, what is art and what is not; while you may 
not be accounted a great star, yet the world will recog- 
nize your craftsmanship and concede you a place of emi- 
nence upon the stage, a position well worth occupying, 
but one for which you will pay long years before you get 
it." 

" But our love," John protested helplessly. 

" Who said * our love/ ' ' Marien declaimed almost 
petulantly. " I have not confessed to any love." 

" But but," and John's eyes opened widely, " you 
would not permit " 

" I did not permit," she flashed. " You took, and I 
forgave because I told you I could understand. Can you 
not, blind man, also understand? If man is sometimes 
man, will not woman also sometimes be woman ? " 

"Did it mean no more than that?" 

John's eyes searched hers accusingly. 

Her answer was to scorn to answer. She made it 
seem that she was dismissing him, exactly as any heart- 
less woman might dismiss a favorite who had amused 
her for an hour, but whose antics and cajoleries had now 
begun to pall. 

Dazed and dumb, Hampstead seemed to feel his way 



A THING INCALCULABLE 133 

backward toward the door, where Julie came mysteri- 
ously, unsummoned, to help him on with his coat and 
thrust his hat into his hand. When John turned for a 
last look, Marien's back was turned, and though the head 
was bowed and the side of the face half concealed, he 
thought he saw a look of agony upon it. 

" Marien," he murmured hoarsely, with sudden emo- 
tion. " Marien ! " 

But on the instant she raised her face to him, and it 
was the old face, wonderful and witching, beaming with 
a happy, cordial smile as she laid her hand in his without 
a sign of restraint of any sort. The very heartlessness 
of it completed his bewilderment. Did the woman not 
know that she was breaking his heart? It killed his 
hope ; it cowed him and threw him into a sullen mood. 

" Good-by, Miss Dounay," he said huskily. 

Her eloquent eyes shot him a look in which reproach 
and tenderness mingled, while her hand pulsed quickly 
like a heart beating in his palm. What mood of sullen- 
ness could withstand that look? Not his. He smiled, 
as if a ray of sunshine played upon his face, and amended 
with: 

"Good night, Marien." 

" Good-by, John," she answered sweetly. 

The door was closed behind him before John realized 
that with all her sweetness, she had said good-fry, and 
the emphasis was on the " by." 

At the corner the bewildered man turned and looked 
up. He could see the lace curtain at the window, but he 
could not see the pillows on the divan quivering with 
sobs from a soft burden that had flung itself among 
them when the door was closed. 



CHAPTER XIII 

THE SCENE PLAYED OUT 

MARTEN DOUNAY loved him, but for the sake of her 
own ambition was trying to kill that love. This was 
the explanation which the sleepless, tossing hours fed 
again and again into John Hampstead's mind until he 
accepted it as the demonstrated truth. 

As for himself, he could no more have killed his love 
for Marien than he could have killed a child. He de- 
termined deliberately to match his will against hers and 
break it; to see her again immediately, to meet her argu- 
ments with better arguments, her firm rejections with 
firmer affirmations ; to melt her resolution with an appeal 
to her heart; in short, and by some means not now 
clear, to overmaster her purpose for the sake of her own 
happiness as well as his. 

But a thought of Bessie Mitchell came crowding in. 
Now this was not altogether strange, since John had half- 
consciously cherished the notion that he would some 
day love Bessie, and he reflected now that she must have 
had a feeling of the same sort toward himself. Per- 
haps this was why she cried that day upon the rocks ; per- 
haps, too, that was why he kissed her, for he was be- 
ginning now to understand some things better than he 
had before. Conscience demanded therefore that he 
write Bessie a tactful letter which, while vague and gen- 
eral, would yet somehow reveal the tremendous change 
in the drift of his affections. 

Just that much, however, was going to be hard a 



THE SCENE PLAYED OUT 135 

brutal piece of work to merely hint that some other 
woman might be coming more intimately into his life 
than this trustful, jolly-hearted companion. But it was 
honest and it must, therefore, be done. 

Hampstead summoned grimly all his resolution and 
dipped his pen in ink. 

" Dear Bessie," he wrote, and then his pen stopped, 
and an itching sensation came into the corners of his 
eyes and a lump into his throat. 

Presently he laid the pen down as resolutely as he had 
taken it up. He could not write Bessie out of his life, 
after all; at least not like that. Instead he wrote a letter 
that was a lie, or that started out to be a lie; but the 
surprising thing to Hampstead was that while he wrote, 
visioning Bessie at home in Los Angeles, rose-embowered, 
or walking to school beneath rows of palms, he was him- 
self transported to Los Angeles, and the letter was not 
false. He was back again in the old life, and Bessie was 
an interesting and necessary part of it. 

Yet he found he could not seal himself into the old 
life when he closed the flap of the envelope. The mo- 
ment the letter was mailed, his mind went irresistibly 
back to Marien, whom it was a part of his plan to see 
that very day. This was possible because Mowrey re- 
hearsals were long and somewhat painful affairs. 

Hurrying from the Sampson Stock, at the end of his 
own rehearsal, John was able to cross the bay and reach 
the Grand Opera House while Mowrey's people w r ere 
still wearily at work, and to make his way apparently 
unseen through the huge, gloomy auditorium to a box 
which was deep in shadow, as boxes usually are at re- 
hearsal time. 

Marien was " on ", and the big fellow's heart leaped 
at the sound of her voice; yet presently it stood still 
again, for his jealous ear had detected a disquieting note 



136 HELD TO ANSWER 

in her utterance, a sort of cajoling purr which the lover 
recognized instantly. It was not Marien Dounay in re- 
hearsal, nor yet in "character"; it was Marien herself 
when in her most ingratiating mood, and was meant 
neither for the rehearsal nor for the character, but for 
the actor who played the opposing role. 

Who, by the way, was this handsome man, with the 
rare, low voice that combined refinement and carrying 
power, so absolutely sure of himself, whose every move 
betokened the seasoned, accomplished actor, and who dis- 
played to perfection those very graces which John him- 
self hoped some day to exhibit? 

In the box in front of Hampstead was another ghostly 
figure, also watching the rehearsal. John reached for- 
ward and touched him on the shoulder, whispering hol- 
lowly : " Who is the new leading man ? " 

" Charles Manning of New York," was the reply ; 
" specially engaged for this and three other roles." 

" Thank you," said John, swallowing hard, for now 
he understood perfectly the disagreeable meaning of those 
cajoleries. They represented just one more element in 
Marien Dounay's calculating life. This New York ac- 
tor might go back and drop the word that would bring 
her opportunity, the thing her vaulting ambition coveted 
more than it coveted love. Therefore she was taking 
deliberate advantage of these situations to kindle a per- 
sonal interest in herself, for which, once her object was 
gained, she would refuse responsibility as heartlessly as 
she had tried to reject the big man who just now started 
so violently as he watched her. 

Look at that now! The stage direction had required 
Manning to take Marien in his arms for a minute. 
Hampstead ground his teeth. 

Well, why didn't they separate? What was she cling- 
ing to him so long for? Why, indeed, if it were not 



THE SCENE PLAYED OUT 137 

for this same reason that to John, stewing in jealous 
rage, seemed despicable and base. This was not nice; 
it was not womanly; it was not a true reflection of 
Marien's character. It was, he assured himself hotly, 
one of the things from which he must save her. 

But he had no opportunity to begin his work of salva- 
tion that afternoon, for rehearsal ended, Marien walked 
out with Charles Manning so closely in her company 
that Hampstead could not so much as catch her eye, and 
his emotions were in such a riot that he dared not trust 
himself to accost her. 

When John had walked the streets for an hour, with 
the storm of his feelings rising instead of settling, he 
resolved upon a note to Marien and went to the office 
of the Dramatic Review to dispatch it. 

" Dear Marien," he wrote. " I must see you to-night. 
I will call at twelve. JOHN." 

The brevity of this communication was deliberately 
calculated to express his headlong mood and the depths 
of his determination. He had not asked an answer, but 
waited for one, assuring himself that if none came he 
would call just the same. Yet the answer was ominously 
prompt. John tore it open with brutal strength and saw 
Marien's handwriting for the first time. It was vigorous 
and rectangular, but unmistakably feminine, and there 
was neither salutation nor signature. 

" Stupid ! " the note began abruptly. " I saw you in 
the box to-day. I will not have you spying upon me. 
You must not call. I have tried to make you under- 
stand. Why can you not accept the situation? Or are 
you mad enough to compel me to stage the scene and play 
it out for you ? " 



138 HELD TO ANSWER 

John read the note twice, crumpled it in his hand, 
and walked slowly down Geary Street to Market and 
down Market Street to the ferry. 

In the second act that night he forgot to take on the 
knife with which he was to stab his victim, and nearly 
spoiled the scene, through having to strangle him in- 
stead. 

"Stage the scene and play it out for you?" What 
could she mean by that. 

Determined to find out, John hurried from the theater 
at the close of the performance, with his lips pursed stub- 
bornly, and at exactly twelve o'clock Julie was answering 
his ring at the door of the little apartment on Turk 
Street. 

" Ah ! " she exclaimed, smiling cordially. " It is the 
big man again. No, Madame is not in. She is having 
supper out to-night. With whom? La! la! I should 
not tell you that," and Julie shrugged one shoulder only, 
after a way of hers, and made a movement to close the 
door; but something in John's eyes induced her to add, 
with both sympathy and chiding in her tone : " You 
must not come to see Madame when Madame does not 
want you." 

" But I must see her, Julie ! " John pleaded huskily, 
rather throwing himself upon the mercy of the little 
French woman. 

Julie gazed at him doubtfully. She had fended off 
the attentions of many an importunate suitor from her 
beautiful mistress but never one who engaged at once 
so much of her sympathy and respect as he. In her 
mind she was weighing something; reflecting perhaps 
whether it was not kindness to this big, earnest man to 
let his own eyes serve him. Her decision was evidently 
in the affirmative. 

"If you go quickly to the entrance of Antone's," she 



THE SCENE PLAYED OUT 139 

suggested hurriedly, " you will see Madame arriving pres- 
ently in an automobile." 

Stubborn as John was in his purpose, he nevertheless 
flushed that even Julie could think him capable of stand- 
ing at the door of a French restaurant at midnight wait- 
ing to catch a glimpse of the woman he loved in the com- 
pany of another man. Yet pride was so completely 
swallowed up in jealousy and passion that another five 
minutes found him loitering before the entrance to An- 
tone's, resolving to go, to stay; to look and not to look; 
feeling now weakly ashamed of himself and now meanly 
resolute. 

The place was half underground, with a gilded and 
illumined entrance that yawned like the mouth of a mon- 
ster. John was sure from its outward look that An- 
tone's was no more than half respectable. The fragrance 
of the food which assailed his nostrils was, he felt equally 
sure, an expensive fragrance. A meal there would cost 
as much as a week of meals where he was accus- 
tomed to take his food. Manning, of course, had a fine 
salary. He could afford to take Marien for an automo- 
bile ride and to Antone's for supper. 

Hampstead's envious rage flamed again at this thought, 
but at the moment the flash of a headlight in his eyes 
called attention to an automobile just then sweeping in 
toward the curb. However, instead of the stalwart, 
graceful figure of Manning, there emerged from the car 
a squat, oily- faced man, huge of paunch, with thick lips, 
a heavy nose, pouched cheeks, and small, pig-like eyes, 
upon whose broad countenance hung an expression of 
bland self-complaisance. By an odd coincidence, this 
man was also connected with the stage. John knew 
him by sight as Gustav Litschi, and by reputation as a 
very swine among men, utterly without scruple, although 
endowed with an uncanny business sense; a man who 



I 4 o HELD TO ANSWER 

had money and whose theatrical ventures always made 
money, though often their character was as doubtful as 
himself. 

Disappointed, Hampstead nevertheless experienced a 
feeling of curiosity as to Litschi's companion, and before 
drawing back, followed the gross glance of the gimlet 
eyes within the car to where they rested gloatingly upon 
a woman in evening clothes, who was gathering her train 
and cloak about her preparatory to being helped from 
the car. To John's utter amazement the woman was 
Marien. 

For a moment he stared as if confronted with a spec- 
ter, then felt his great hands itching while he wavered 
between a desire to leap upon this coarse creature and 
tear him to pieces, and the impulse to accost Marien with 
reproaches and a warning. But the swift reflection that 
she probably knew the man's character perfectly well 
prompted John instead to the despicable expedient of de- 
liberately spying upon her. Turning impetuously, he ran 
quickly down the steps in advance of the couple. 

" One ? " queried the headwaiter, with a keen esti- 
mating glance under which John ordinarily would have 
felt himself to shrivel; but now a frenzy of jealousy and 
a sense of outrage had made him bold. 

" Yes," he replied brusquely ; " that seat yonder in the 
corner where I can see the whole show." 

It was a lonely and undesirable table, smack against 
the side of the wall, along which ran a row of curtained, 
box-like alcoves that served as tiny private dining rooms. 
John could have it and welcome. He got it, and as he 
turned to sit down, his eye scanned the interior swiftly 
for Marien and Litschi. To his surprise they were com- 
ing straight at him, Marien leading. Certain that she 
had seen him and was going to address him, John never- 
theless determined to await a look of recognition before 



THE SCENE PLAYED OUT 141 

arising. To his further surprise, no such look came. 
Coldly, icily beautiful to-night, the glitter in her eyes 
was hard and desperate, with a suggestion of menace in 
it, reminding John of that momentary intuition he had 
once experienced, that this woman could be dangerous. 
Her note had warned him not to spy upon her, he re- 
called. It must be that her discovery of his presence had 
roused a devil in her now. So strong did this feel- 
ing become that he felt a relief as great as his surprise 
when she brushed by as if oblivious of his presence and 
passed from view into the nearest box, the curtain of 
which a waiter was holding aside obsequiously. 

When the screening curtain dropped, swinging so near 
that John could have reached across his table and touched 
it with a hand, he had a sense of sudden escape, as if 
a tigress, sleekly beautiful and powerfully cruel, had over- 
leaped him to tear a richer prey beyond. The swine-like 
Litschi, waddling after her into the box, was the chosen 
victim. Yonder by the curb John had feared for Marien ; 
now, repulsive as the creature was, he felt a kind of pity 
for Litschi. 

Yet with the curtain drawn, Hampstead's emotion 
passed swiftly back to love and anxiety for her. She 
had not seen him, that was all. The supposed look of 
menace was the product of his imagination and his jeal- 
ousy. 

As the minutes passed unnoted, this anxiety grew again 
into sympathy and consideration. Marien had com- 
plained to him of the hard things she had 'to do. This 
supper with Litschi was merely one of them. That scene 
with Manning was another. He reflected triumphantly 
that she had not welcomed Litschi to her apartment ; but 
compelled him to bring her to this public place. Poor, 
brave girl ! She had to play with all these men ; to warm 
them without herself getting burnt; to woo them des- 



142 HELD TO ANSWER 

perately upon the chance : Manning that he might some- 
where speak the fortunate word, Litschi that in some 
greedy hope of gain he might be induced to risk his 
money on the venture that would give Marien the op- 
portunity for which she had been calculating indomitably 
for seven years. 

But what was that? 

John's hand reached out and clutched the table vio- 
lently, while his body leaned forward as if to rise. What 
was that she had said so loudly he could hear, and so as- 
tonishing that he could not believe his ears ? 

He had been sitting there such a long, long time, think- 
ing thoughts like these, stirred, soothed, and stirred again 
by the sound of her voice, heard intermittently between 
the numbers of the orchestra. He had ordered food and 
eaten, then ordered more and eaten that, anything to 
think and wait, he did not know for what. 

Waiters bearing trays had come and gone unceasingly 
from behind the curtain four feet from his eyes, and he 
knew that they had borne more bottles than food. Sev- 
eral times he had heard a sound like " shots off-stage." 
This sound always succeeded the entry of a gold sealed 
bottle. Evidently they were drinking heavily behind the 
curtain, Litschi's voice growing lower and less coherent, 
and Marien's louder and less reserved, till for some time 
he had been catching little snatches of her conversation. 
She had been talking about her future, painting a picture 
of the success she would make when her opportunity 
came; but now she had said the thing that staggered 
him. 

" What ? " he came near to saying aloud ; and at the 
same time he heard the drink-smothered voice of Litschi 
also with interrogative inflection. Litschi, too, wanted 
to be sure that he had heard aright. 

" I say," iterated the voice of Marien deliberately, as 



THE SCENE PLAYED OUT 145 

if with calculated carrying power, " that a woman who 
is ambitious must be prepared to pay the price demanded 
her heart, her soul if need be herself! " 

She plumped out the last word ruthlessly, and broke 
into a half-tipsy laugh that had in it a suggestion unmis- 
takable as much as to say : 

"You understand now, don't you, Gustav Litschi? 
You realize what I am offering to the man who buys me- 
opportunity? " 

Her heart her soul herself! Hampstead, having 
started up, sat down again weakly, the cold sweat of hor- 
ror standing out upon his brow. 

So this was what she had meant all the time in her 
speech about the calculating life. She could not give 
herself up to love him or any one, because she was dan- 
gling herself as a final lure to the man who would give her 
opportunity. 

Why, this woman was spiritually morally poten- 
tially, a " he could barely let himself think the hateful 
word. To utter it was impossible. 

Perhaps she was worse! A choking, burning sensa- 
tion was in his throat. He tore at it with his hands, gasp- 
ing for breath. He wanted to tear at the curtain at the 
woman! How he hated her! She had no longer any 
fineness. She was a coarse, designing, reckless prosti- 
tute! There ! In his agony, the word was out. He sent 
it hurtling across the stage of his own brain. It flew 
straight. It found its mark upon the face of his love and 
stuck there blotched and quivering, biting into the picture 
like acid. It ate out the eyes of Marien Dounay from 
his mind ; it ate away her pliant ruby lips, her cheeks and 
her soft round chin, and it kft of that face only a grin- 
ning hideousness from which John Hampstead shrank 
with a horrible sickness in his heart. 

At this moment the curtain rings clicked sharply under 



144 HELD TO ANSWER 

the sweep of an impetuous arm, and with the suddenness 
of an apparition, Marien stood just across the table from 
him. Her face was highly colored, but the preternatural 
brightness of the eyes had begun to dull, and there was a 
loose look, too, about the mouth, the lips of which were 
curled by a mocking smile. 

" Well, John Hampstead ! " she sneered, with a vindic- 
tive look in her eyes, insinuating scorn in her tones. 
" Now that I have played out the scene, do you think you 
understand? " 

John had risen stiffly, every fiber of him in riot at the 
horror he had heard and was now seeing; but his self- 
control was perfect, and a kind of dignity invested him 
for the moment. 

" Yes," he said, meeting her gaze unflinchingly, " I 
understand ! " 

The tone of finality that went into this latter word was 
unescapable. As it was uttered, Marien attempted one of 
her lightning changes of manner but failed, breaking 
instead into a fit of hysterical laughter, during which, 
with head thrown back, her body swayed, and she dis- 
appeared behind the curtain, where the laughter ended 
abruptly in something like a choke, or a fit of coughing. 

But John's indignation and disgust were so great that 
he did not concern himself as to whether Miss Dounay's 
laughter might be choking her or not. Embarrassed, too, 
by the number of eyes turned curiously upon him from 
the nearer tables where the diners had observed the inci- 
dent without gathering any of its purport, his only im- 
pulse was to pay his bill and escape, before the building 
and the world came clattering down upon him. 



CHAPTER XIV 

THE METHOD OF A DREAM 

So paralyzing to a man of Hampstead's sensitive nature 
was the effect of Marien Dounay's startling disclosure 
that he experienced a partial arrest of consciousness, the 
symptoms of which hung on surprisingly. 

Somehow that night he got back to Oakland, and the 
next morning was again about his work ; but the days went 
by mechanically days of risings and retirings, eatings 
and sleepings, memorizing of lines, mumbling of speeches, 
sliding into clothes, slipping into grease paint, walkings 
on and walkings off. Through all of these daily obliga- 
tions the man moved with a certain absent-minded pre- 
cision, like a person with a split consciousness, who does 
not let his right lobe know what his left lobe is thinking. 

He knew, for instance, that a telegram came to him one 
day with the charges collect, and that he paid the charges 
and signed for the message, but he did not know that the 
message lay unopened on his dresser while he spent all 
his unoccupied time sunk in a stupor of meditation upon 
the thing which had befallen him. 

Most astonishing to John was the fact that while he 
felt rage and humiliation at having so duped himself over 
Marien Dounay, he had no sense of pain. He was like a 
man run over by a railroad train who experiences no throb 
of anguish but only a sickish, numbing sensation in his 
mangled limbs. 

Recognizing that his condition was not normal, Hamp- 
stead wondered if he could be going insane. He was 



146 HELD TO ANSWER 

eating little ; he was taking no interest in his work. He 
went and came from the theater automatically, impatient 
of company, impatient of noise, of newspaper headlines, 
of interruptions of any sort, anxious only to get to his 
room, to throw himself into a chair or upon a bed, and 
relapse into a state of mental drooling. After several 
days he roused from one of these reveries with the clear 
impression that some presence had been there in the room, 
had breathed upon him, had touched his lips, and spoken 
to him. He leaped up and looked about him. He opened 
the door and scanned the corridor. No one was there, 
no echo of corporeal footsteps resounded. 

Realizing that it must have been his own dream that 
waked him, he came back sheepishly and tried again to 
induce that state of mental dusk in which the odd sensa- 
tion had been experienced. Soon he roused again with 
the knowledge that the presence had been with him and 
had departed; but this time a clear picture of the vision 
remained. It was a woman, it was like Marien. It 
was, he told himself, the image of his Love. He enter- 
tained it sadly, like an apparition from the grave. The 
vision came again, but with repeated visits, its form began 
to change, until it no longer resembled the form of 
Marien. 

This was exciting ; the image might change still further 
till it definitely resembled some one else. 

This surmise proved correct. It did change more and 
more until identity was for a time completely lost, but as 
days passed, the features ceased to blur and jumble. The 
eyes were now constantly blue; the complexion was con- 
sistently pink and white; the hair was brown and began 
to appear crinkly; the lips grew shorter, and of a more 
youthful red; the chin broadened and appeared fuller and 
softer. One morning these rosier lips smiled with a 
rarer spontaneity than the vision had ever shown before, 



THE METHOD OF A DREAM 147 

and with the smile came two dimples into the peach-blow 
cheeks. 

" Bessie ! " John cried, with a welcoming shout of in- 
coherent joy. " Bessie ! " 

But his joy was speedily swallowed up in the gloom of 
mortifying reflections. Could it be that his love was so 
inconstant as to transfer itself in a few days from Marien 
Dounay to Bessie Mitchell, and if it did, what was such 
love worth? Besides, how could he love Bessie as he 
had loved Marien. There was no fire in her. As yet, 
she was only a girl. But at this juncture a memory came 
floating in of that day on the Cliff House rocks, when 
some vague impulse, which he thought to be sympathy, 
had made him draw Bessie's face up to his and kiss it. 
Now, as he recalled it, the touch of her lips was the touch 
of a woman; and her look that puzzled him then, why, 
it was the look of love ! 

Hampstead leaped up excitedly. Bessie was a woman, 
and she loved him ! And he loved her ! But how could 
he have been such a' fool as to think that he loved Marien? 

" Passion," he told himself scornfully, " mere passion." 

" She was the first ripe woman I ever touched, and I 
fell for her! That's all," he muttered. "But, how 
could I ever, ever, ever have done it? " 

Heaping bitter self-reproaches, he took his bewildered 
head in his hands, while he wrestled with the humiliating 
chain of ruminations. Naturally enough, it was the 
memory of a speech of Marien's which afforded him his 
first clue. 

" In what you have just been saying, you have given me 
a character," she had replied to one of his advances. "If 
I could play that part always, I should be what you are in 
love with, and you would love me always; but I cannot 
play it always ; I can play it seldom. I play it now for an 
hour and then perhaps never again." 



148 HELD TO ANSWER 

This speech, vexatiously enigmatic then, sounded sud- 
denly rational now. It meant that he had unconsciously 
bestowed upon her his idealized conception of woman- 
hood. This was made comparatively easy because in the 
plays Marien almost invariably enacted the heroines, al- 
ways sweet, always gentle, and almost always good; or, 
if erring, they were more sinned against than sinning. 
Most of these piled-up virtues of her roles John dotingly 
had ascribed to her, and his professional contacts af- 
forded few glimpses of the real Marien by which his 
drawing could be corrected. 

Atop of this had come those few hours of delicious in- 
timacy in her apartment, when she had deliberately played 
the part she saw that he would like. This had sufficed 
to make his illusion complete. 

Still John had no reproaches for the actress. Instead, 
he found within him a renascence of respect for her, par- 
ticularly for her frankness. Most women most men, 
too, for that matter, he thought play the hypocrite with 
themselves and with others. He must do her full credit. 
She had not done so. She might have ruined him. He 
owed his escape to no discernment of his own. When 
he had not understood, she had resolutely played the 
scene out for him to the uttermost. It must have cost 
a woman, any woman, something to do that, he reasoned. 
Under this interpretation, Marien was no longer repulsive 
to him. Instead, he found in her something to admire. 
Her courage was sublime. Her devotion to her god, am- 
bition, if terrible, was also magnificent. - 

" Yet, why," he asked himself, " did she let me take her 
in my arms? Sympathy," he answered at last. "She 
never loved me. A woman who loved a man could not 
do what she did in the restaurant. She was very sorry 
for me, that was all. She let me kiss her as she would let 
a dog lick her hand." And then he remembered another 



THE METHOD OF A DREAM 149 

speech of hers: " If a man is sometimes man, may not 
woman be also sometimes woman? " 

This helped him finally and completely, as he thought, to 
understand; but it left him with a still deeper sense of his 
own weakness and humiliation. 

Marien Dounay had roused the woman want in him 
and while she was near, her personality had been strong 
enough to center that want upon herself. But when she 
shook his passion free of her, it turned, after circling like 
a homing pigeon, due upon its course to Bessie. John 
saw that this was all logical and psychological. Patently, 
it was also biological. 

But it was mortifying beyond words. He felt that he 
had dishonored himself and dishonored Bessie. He had 
supposed himself strong; he found himself weak. He 
had been swept off his feet and out of his head. He was 
ashamed of himself, heartily. Bessie, the good, the pure, 
the noble! Why, he could not think of her at all in the 
terms in which he thought of Marien Dounay. His in- 
stinct for Marien had been to possess. For Bessie it was 
to revere, to worship and yet and yet he wanted 
her now with an urge that was stronger than ever he had 
felt for Marien. 

Still, he had no impulse to rush to Bessie. He felt 
unworthy. He could not see himself taking her hand, 
touching her lips, declaring his love to her now. It 
seemed to him that he must test his love for Bessie before 
he declared it, and purify it by months years, perhaps, 
of waiting, as if to expiate the sin of his weakness. 

But in the meantime, Bessie loved him, and would be 
loving him all the time. And he could write to her ! Ah, 
what letters he would write, letters that would not only 
keep her love alive but fan it, while he punished himself 
for his insane disloyalty. 

Disloyalty ! Yes, that was the very word. He knew 



150 HELD TO ANSWER 

as he reflected that he had been disloyal ever to yield to 
the spell of Marien Dounay. He had been disloyal to 
Bessie, to his ideals, and to himself. 

He turned to where a few days before he had pinned 
his old Los Angeles motto on the wall of his Oakland 
room : " Eternal Hammering is the Price of Success." 

Hammering, he decided, was the wrong word. It was 
not high enough. He stepped over to the wall and 
changed it to the new word so that it read : 

" Eternal Loyalty is the Price of Success." 

He liked that better; so well, in fact, that he lifted his 
hand dramatically and swore his life anew, not to ham- 
mering but to Loyalty, loyalty to himself, to Bessie, to 
Dick and Tayna, and to God! 

This gave him a feeling of new courage. He turned 
away as from a disagreeable experience now forever 
past. His eyes wandered about the room exactly as if he 
had returned from an absence, taking in detail by detail 
the familiar, scanty furniture, the hateful spring rocker, 
the washstand, the bed, the torn, smoke-soiled curtains at 
the window, the picture of Washington at Valley Forge 
upon the wall, and the dresser with its cheap speckled 
mirror. 

His glance had just paused mystified at the sight of the 
unopened telegram upon the dresser when there was a 
knock at the door. 

With a stride, John turned the key and swung open 
the door. 

Bud, the fourteen-year-old call boy of the Sampson 
Theater, entered; a breathless, self-important youngster 
with freckles and a stubby pompadour. 

" Mr. Cohen's says yer better write a letter ter yer 
sister," the lad blurted, while his eyes scanned the room 
and the actor, where he stood reaching in a dazed sort of 
way for the telegram. 



THE METHOD OF A DREAM 151 

" Hey," exclaimed Hampstead, looking up sharply, 
"my sister?" 

" Ye-uh," affirmed Bud stoutly. " Mr. Cohen's got a 
letter from her, and she wants to know if yer sick 'r 
anything." 

" By jove, that's right, Bud," confessed John with 
sudden conviction. " I've had my mind on something of 
late, and guess I've rather overlooked the folks at home. 
I'll write to-day. Awfully kind of you, old chap, to come 
over. Here!" 

And Hampstead, now with the telegram in his hand, 
attempted to cover a feeling of confusion before these 
bright, peering eyes by a pilgrimage to the closet, from 
which he tossed Bud a quarter. The lad accepted the 
quarter thankfully. 

" Say, Mr. Hampstead," he broke out impulsively, with 
an embarrassed note in his voice, " I'm sorry you got your 
notice ! " 

" Got my notice ? " asked John a bit sharply. 

" Yes. Yer let out," announced Bud, with unfeeling 
directness, though consideration was in his heart. " You 
been good to me, Mr. Hampstead, and I'm sorry you're 
goin'. Some of the others is, too." 

But John was roused now, thoroughly. 

"Why, Bud, what are you talking about?" he de- 
manded, turning accusingly to the boy. 

" For the love of Mike," exclaimed Bud, advancing a 
little fearsomely and studying the face of Hampstead 
with new curiosity, " Yer let out and don't know it ! 
What'd I tell 'em? Why, there it is," and he snatched 
up a blue, thin-looking envelope from the dresser. " Y* 
got it a week ago when you got yer pay. Y' ain't opened 
it even." 

Hampstead took the blue envelope from Bud's hand, 
an awful sense of weakness running through him as he 



152 HELD TO ANSWER 

read that his services would not be required after the 
customary two weeks. 

" What did I get this for, Bud? " he asked, sensing the 
uselessness of dissimulation before this impertinent child. 

" Y' got it fer bein' dopey," answered Bud reproach- 
fully. " Y' ain't had no more sense than a wooden man 
fer ten days. Say, Mr. Hampstead," he ventured fur- 
ther with sympathetic friendliness, " yer a good actor 
when you let the hop alone. Why don't you cut it? 
You're young yet. You got a future, Mr. Cohen says, 
if you'll let the dope alone." 

Hampstead's face took on a queer, half -amused look. 

"Is that what he said?" 

" That's what he said," affirmed Bud aggressively. 

" Well, then, all right, Bud. I will cut it out. Here's 
my hand on it." 

Bud took the hand, a trifle surprised and feeling a little 
more important than usual. " Say," he added confiden- 
tially, " wise me, will y' ; what kind have you been takin' ? 
Mr. Cohen says he's never seen nothin' like it, and he 
thought he'd seen 'em all." 

" Oh, it's a little brand I mixed myself," confessed 
John. " But I'm done with it. Run along now, Bud. 
You've been a good pal," and he gave the lad a pat on 
the shoulder and a significant shove toward the door. 

" Glad I came over," reflected Bud at the door, jingling 
the quarter in his pocket. " Better write yer sister, or 
she'll be comin' up here. Say," and Bud returned as if 
for a further confidence, " y' never know what a woman's 
goin' to do, do y'? Las' fall a woman shot our leadin' 
juvenile in the leg because she loved him. Get that? 
Because she loved him ! " 

Bud's drawling scorn was inimitable. 

" Y' can't figger 'em, can yuh? Some of 'em wants to 
be called, and some of 'em don't. Some of 'em wants 



153 

their letters before the show, and some of 'em after. 
Some of 'em is one way one day and the other way the 
next day. If I ever get my notice, if I ever lose my 
job it'll be about a woman. I never seen a man yet that 
I couldn't get his nannie. I never seen a woman yet that 
couldn't get mine and get it fresh every time I run a step 
fer her. Say! Mr. Hampstead honest ain't they 
the jinx?" 

Bud had got his hand on the door, but getting no 
answer to this very direct and to him very important 
question, he turned and scrutinized the face of the big 
man curiously at first and then with amazement, as he 
exclaimed : " Fer the love of Mike ! He ain't heard 
me. Say, Mr. Hampstead ! Say ! " Bud went back 
and shook the big man's arm, with a look of apprehension 
on his face, and shouted very loud, as if to the deaf: 
" Say ! Come out of it, will y' ? Don't write. Tele- 
graph her. Gosh ! She might blame me ! " 

After which parting gun in behalf of duty and of pru- 
dence, with a sigh and the air of having done a man's 
best, the lad got hastily through the door and slammed 
it after him very loudly. 



CHAPTER XV 

THE CATASTROPHE 

BUD was right. John had not heard him. He stood 
with the telegram torn open in his hand. 

" Charles fell from El Capitan," it ran. " Body 
brought here. ROSE." 

For a moment the man gazed fixedly, deliberately but 
absently crushing the envelope in one hand, while the 
other held the open message before him. Then his lips 
moved slowly and without uttering a sound, they framed 
the words of his thought : " Charles ! Dead ! Mer- 
ciful God!" 

For a reflective interval the gray, startled eyes set them- 
selves on distance and then turned again to the message. 
It was dated April 4. 

April 4? What day was this? 

On the dresser was an unopened newspaper. John re- 
membered now he had bought it yesterday, or rather he 
assumed it was yesterday. The date upon the paper was 
April 14. If it were yesterday he bought that paper, to- 
day was the i5th, and Charles had been dead eleven days ! 
What had they thought what had they done without a 
word from him in this crisis? What had become of 
them ? 

And there were unopened letters on the dresser, three of 
them, all from Rose. John tore them open, lapping up 
their contents with his eyes. 



THE CATASTROPHE 155 

" Poor, poor Rose ! " he groaned. " What must she 
think of me?" 

The first letter told of the death of Charles and the 
lucky sale of " Dawn in the Grand Canyon " which af- 
forded money for the recovery of the body and its decent 
interment, but little more. 

The second letter was briefer and expressed surprise at 
not hearing from him in response to her message, which 
the telegraph company assured her had been delivered to 
him in person. This letter showed Rose bearing up 
under her grief and stoutly making plans for taking up 
the support of her children. 

The third letter was addressed by the hand of Rose, 
but the brief note enclosed was penned by the kind-hearted 
Doctor Morrison, the railroad's " company " physician, 
to whom, as a part of his outside practice, Rose would 
have applied in case of illness. 

" Your sister," Doctor Morrison wrote, " has suffered 
a complete nervous breakdown. Long rest with complete 
relief from financial care is imperative." 

This letter stirred John to immediate action. He 
rushed to the long-distance telephone. The telegraph was 
not quick enough. 

" Please reassure my sister immediately," John tele- 
phoned to Doctor Morrison. " Every provision will be 
made for her care and that of the children." Not satis- 
fied with this, John sent a telegram to his sister direct and 
to the same effect. 

These messages were dispatched as the first and most 
natural impulses of the brother's heart, without pause to 
consider the responsibilities involved ; and then, having no 
appetite for breakfast, John returned to his room to write 
to Rose. 

Poor Rose ! And poor old Charles ! Such an end for 
him. No great pictures painted; no roseate successes 



I 5 6 HELD TO ANSWER 

gathered; just to follow his vision on and on until in 
absent-minded admiration of a sunset glow he stepped off 
the brow of El Capitan in Yosemite and fell hundreds of 
feet to death. Yet John's grief was strangely tempered 
by the thought that somehow this death was fitting. It 
was like the man's life. In art he had tried to walk the 
heights with no solid ground of ability beneath, and he 
had fallen into the bottomless abyss of failure. 

For a moment John pitied Charles greatly; yet when 
he thought of Rose, prostrated, as he was sure, not by 
grief, but by long anxieties, his feeling turned to one of 
reproach. When he thought of the children left father- 
less, with no provision for their future or that of Rose, 
the reproach turned to bitterness. He found himself 
judging Charles very sternly, and a verse from scripture 
came into his mind, something about the man who pro- 
vides not for his own being worse than a murderer. 

But in the midst of this condemnation, Hampstead's 
jaw dropped, and he sat staring at the pen with which he 
was preparing to write. The expression on the man's 
face had changed from concern to one of agony. When 
the pain passed, his features were gray and tenantless, 
almost the look of the dead; for John Hampstead had 
suddenly perceived that his stage career was ended! 

Rose, Dick and Tayna were now " his own." To give 
Rose the best of care, upon which his heart had instantly 
determined, he must have what were to him large sums 
of money weekly and monthly ; money for nurses, money 
for doctors, for sanitariums possibly; and perhaps Dick 
and Tayna must be sent to boarding-school or some place 
like that for the present, while their higher education must 
also be considered and provided for. 

John knew he could never do these things and follow 
the stage. He could succeed upon the stage; he had 
proven that, to his own satisfaction at least; but he could 



THE CATASTROPHE 157 

not make money there yet, not for years and years. Ma- 
rien was right. If he persisted, rewards would come and 
affluence. But they would come at the other end of life. 
He must have them now. 

Perhaps hardest of all to John was the hurt to his pride, 
to his seif-confidence, the reflection that, having set his 
eye upon a shining goal, he must abandon the march 
toward it unbeaten, with his strength untested, or with the 
tests so far made distinctly in his favor. It was hard to 
think himself a " quitter." And yet he could feel the 
stir of a noble satisfaction in being a " quitter " for duty's 
sake. He remembered with a certain sad pleasure how 
almost prophetically he had told Mr. Mitchell that it would 
only be something that would happen to Dick and Tayna 
that could keep him from going on with his ambition. 
Now exactly that had come to pass; yet to make imme- 
diate surrender of the ambition to which he had devoted 
himself with such enthusiasm seemed impossible. He 
knew what he should do what he intended to do but 
he lacked the resolution for the moment. 

If Bessie were only here! 

And yet if she were, he would shrink from her pres- 
ence. He felt just now unworthy to look into those 
trusting eyes of blue. This time he must face his destiny 
alone. 

His head sank low. His hands were clasped above it, 
as they had been that night when he was stricken blind. 
The world was dark before him. Now, as then, he felt 
sorry for himself. In a very few months a great many 
things had happened to him that had wrenched him 
violently. He had been racked by doubts and inflamed 
by mysterious emotions. He had hoped and he had 
dared ; he had struggled ; he had gained some things and 
lost some; but he had survived, and on the whole was 
conquering. Now came the heaviest blow, as it seemed, 



158 HELD TO ANSWER 

that could possibly fall upon his head, and just in the 
very hour when the upward way was clearing! 

His face was flat upon the page he had meant to fill with 
words of love and help to Rose. Above him, on the wall, 
was the sheet of faded yellow paper that bore his just 
amended motto. Two pins, loosened no doubt when he 
changed the word on the legend, had been whipped out 
by the breeze which swept in through the open window, 
and this breeze now fluttered the free end of the yellow 
sheet insistently like a pennant, so that the distracted man 
lifted his clouded eyes and read once again, as if to make 
sure: 

" Eternal Loyalty is the Price of Success." 
" Loyalty to what? " he demanded fiercely of himself. 
To his ambition? Or to two little growing lives that 
trusted and believed in him? 

To put the question like that was to answer it. John 
rose abruptly, snatched the legend from the wall, crumpled 
it as he had the envelope, and cast it on the floor. He 
didn't need it any more. 

" And yet," he reflected after a moment, " why not ? " 
"Uncle John, when will you be president?" Tayna 
had asked him that one night, and he smiled as in fancy 
he felt her arms again about his neck, her bare feet cud- 
dling in his lap. The thought roused him. He was not 
surrendering all ambition when he surrendered a stage 
ambition. He was a man of greatly increased ability now 
as compared with then. Surely a man was pretty poor 
stuff if, having been defeated in one desire through no 
fault of his own, he could not carve out another niche for 
himself somewhere in the wide hall of achievement. 
John stooped and recovered the crumpled square of yel- 
low, smoothed its wrinkles reverently, and fastened it 
again and more securely upon the wall above him. 



THE CATASTROPHE 159 

That night John Hampstead went to the theater as 
usual, but entered the dressing room like a man going 
into the presence of his dead. Throughout the per- 
formance he made his entrances and exits solemnly. 

The play for this, his final week, was Hamlet, and 
John's part was the King. Every night as the Prince of 
Denmark killed him with a rapier thrust, John enacted 
that spectacular and traditional fall by which, since time 
forgotten, all Kings in Hamlet go toppling to the floor r 
where they die with one foot upraised upon the bottom- 
most step of the throne, as if reluctant even in death to 
give up the perquisites and preeminence of royalty. So 
hour by hour John felt that he was killing the King in 
his soul, but the King died reluctantly, always with one 
foot on the throne. 

The last night came, and the last hour. Methodically 
the man assembled his make-up materials, his grease 
paints, his hare's feet, and the beard he had himself 
fashioned for the King to wear, and put them away, with 
their sweetish, unmistakable odor, in the old cigar box, 
to be treasured henceforth like sacred things, symbols of 
a great ambition which had stirred a young man's breast, 
and remembrances of the greatest sacrifice it seemed pos- 
sible aspiring youth could be called upon to make. 

But no one was to know that it was a sacrifice; not 
Rose, not Dick nor Tayna even. They were to think he 
did it happily and because "The stage the stage life, 
you know! Well, probably there are better ways for a 
man to spend his energies." 

But, really, in his heart of hearts, Hampstead knew he 
would love the drama always. He owed it a debt that 
he could never repay, and some day when he had achieved 
a brilliant success in another walk of life when Dick 
and Tayna were grown and far away perhaps he would 
take out the old cigar box and gather his children around 



160 HELD TO ANSWER 

him, if he should have children, and tell them the story 
of his first divinest ambition as one tells the story of one's 
first love; and of the great sacrifice he had made in the 
cause of duty, fingering the while these crumbling things 
as one caresses a lock of hair of the long departed. 

" Look, Bud, here's a box of cold cream nearly full. 
You can get a quarter for it from somewhere along the 
line," suggested John, nodding toward the row of dress- 
ing rooms as he walked away, his overcoat over his shoul- 
der, a suitcase in his hand. 



CHAPTER XVI 

THE KING STILL LIVES 

To make money quickly and steadily and in consider- 
able amounts, was his immediate necessity. He remem- 
bered, naturally, that only seven months ago William N. 
Scofield had offered him a salary of twelve thousand dol- 
lars a year, and he went to see that gentleman promptly. 
But while the Traffic Manager's eye lighted at sight of 
him, the light faded. Scofield did not refer to the offer 
he had made or the things he had talked about that night 
in the Pacific Union Club. He only said absently : "I 
will speak to Parsons." The next day Parsons offered 
Hampstead a position in the rate department at one hun- 
dred dollars per month. John was not greatly surprised. 
He knew the world was like that. 

Of course, he might have gone next to Mr. Mitchell, 
but did not. In the first place John knew that no posi- 
tion which that kind-hearted gentleman might offer could 
pay as much money as he must have. In the second 
place, he felt himself big with a sense of new-grown 
powers, of personality that he wanted to capitalize, not for 
some employer, but for himself. 

" Seems to me," he communed, as he walked down 
Market Street, " that I could sell real estate, or stocks, or 
bonds; that I could promote enterprises, work with big 
men, put through their deals, and make a lot of money. 
I believe I will try it." 

An advertisement which seemed to promise something 
like this was answered by him in person, but it proved 
instead a proposition to sell books. John revolted at the 



162 HELD TO ANSWER 

idea, but the books interested him greatly. The set was 
designed for self -improvement, and the price was thirty 
dollars. 

" Every time you sell a young man or woman a set of 
these, you do them good," he suggested to the manager, 
with a glow upon his face. 

" Exactly," assented that suave gentleman, sighting two 
prime essentials of a salesman, faith in his article and a 
missionary enthusiasm. " You could make a hundred a 
week selling 'em ! " 

One hundred dollars a week! John looked his in- 
credulity. 

" What were you doing before ? " inquired the manager. 

"Acting!" 

" Selling books is like acting," mused the manager. 
"If you are a good actor, you could make a hundred a 
week easy." 

Because John needed one hundred dollars a week, and 
reflected that the experience would be good training for 
that higher form of salesmanship upon which he meant 
to embark, he took his prospectus and started out. The 
first week his commissions were $7.50. He had made one 
sale. But he needed one hundred dollars worse the 
second week, and set forth with greater determination. 
That week he made two sales. " I've almost got it," he 
assured himself, gritting his teeth desperately. And the 
third week he did get it. His commissions for six days 
were $74.50, for the next week $i 12.50, for the fifth week 
$145.00. John Hampstead was successfully launched 
upon an enterprise that would care for all his money 
wants. 

And the work itself was happy work. It was no foot- 
in-the-door, house-to-house campaign on which he had 
entered. Ways were found of gathering lists of persons 
likely to be interested. He called upon these people like 



THE KING STILL LIVES 163 

a gentleman; he was received and entertained like one. 
His self-respecting manner, his stage-trained presence, 
his growing store of personal magnetism, his strong, inter- 
esting face, with the odd light of spiritual ardor in his 
eyes, and the little choke of enthusiasm that came into his 
voice, all helped to make his presence welcome and his 
canvass entertaining. He became an adept in reading 
character and in playing upon the springs of desire and 
resolution. 

He discovered, too, something to interest and admire in 
nearly every one upon whom he called. He was surprised 
to find how nice people were generally. He had before 
known people mainly in the mass, as publics, as audiences, 
or congregations. Now he began to know them as indi- 
viduals, and to like them, to conceive a sort of social pas- 
sion for them, and to desire fervently to do all men good. 
With this went the knowledge that he was becoming 
socially very skillful, and a sense of still increasing per- 
sonal power peppered his veins with the sparkle of new 
hopes. Ambition flamed once more. The king in his 
soul was alive again. He could not only meet people, but 
handle them. He felt that as a politician he could win 
votes, as a lawyer he could sway juries. 

He might even turn again to the stage, with the pros- 
pect of swifter and surer success; but he had begun to 
discover that one cannot go back, that no life ever flows 
up-stream. 

Yet the thing which really made the stage career no 
longer possible was this sense of new powers grown up 
within him that were not mimetic, but creative and con- 
structive, and which would insistently demand some other 
form of expression. 

Besides, the perspective of his life was now long enough 
for him to look back and see how all his experiences had 
enriched him. His very awkwardness, his temporary 



164 HELD TO ANSWER 

blindness, his dramatic ambition, the calamity which shat- 
tered that career and made him a seller of books, each 
had been a step into power. His passion for Marien even, 
while it was a fall, was a fall into knowledge, which 
taught him self-control and made his love for Bessie a 
tenderer and, as he fancied, a stauncher devotion than it 
could otherwise have been. 

This gave him a feeling, half -superstitious and half- 
religious, that his existence was being ordered for him by 
a power above his own. The effect of this was to in- 
crease his eager zest for life itself. He lived excitedly, 
hurrying continually, to see what would leap out at him 
from behind the next corner. 

Meantime, he was making money. Within six months 
all the bills were paid and he had more than a thousand 
dollars in the bank. Rose was out of the sanitarium and, 
with Dick and Tayna, was housed in a cottage on the 
slope of a hill in western San Francisco, where the setting 
sun flashed its farewell upon the windows, and the wide 
ocean rolled always in the distance. 

John was beginning, too, to feel that the time had come 
when he could go back to Bessie and tell her of his love. 
The past seemed very far past indeed. The memory of 
those whirlwind hours of passionate attachment to Marien 
Dounay was like a distorted dream of some drug-induced 
slumber into which he had sunk but once, and from which 
he had awakened forever. 

Letters had passed frequently between himself and 
Bessie. On his part, these were carefully studied and 
almost devoutly restrained in expression; but none the 
less freighted in every line with the fervor of his growing 
devotion to her. 

On her part, the letters were as frankly and impulsively 
rich with the essence of her own happy, effervescent self 
as they had always been. She had expressed a loyal sym- 



THE KING STILL LIVES 165 

pathy with him in the shattering of his stage career, but 
had commended him for his renunciation, while through 
the letter had run a note of relief, which led John to dis- 
cover for the first time that Bessie's concurrence in his 
dramatic ambitions was never without misgivings. True, 
she had told him this once, but it was when he had been 
too deaf to hear. What pleased John most in this cor- 
respondence was a pulse of happiness, quickening almost 
from letter to letter, which the big man felt revealed her 
perception of his growing love for her. 

Perhaps it was this that put the past so far behind, that 
made it seem as though his love for Bessie had always 
been a part of his life, and the impulse to declare it a 
legitimate ripening of fruit that had grown slowly towards 
perfection. 

In this mood a day was set when John would go to 
Los Angeles to visit Bessie. As the time approached, he 
could think of nothing else. On the morning of that 
day, the evening of which was to mark his departure, he 
was canvassing in Encina, a beautiful section of that urban 
population of several hundred thousand people across the 
Bay from San Francisco, the largest municipal unit of 
which is the City of Oakland. But thoughts of Bessie 
crowding in, so filled the lover's mind with rosy clouds 
that he had not enough of what salesmen call " closing 
power." 

As it happened, a tiny park was just at hand, two blocks 
long and half a block wide, curved at the ends, dotted with 
graceful palms, with tall, shapely, shiny-leaved acacias, 
and covered with a thick sod of grass, laced at intervals by 
curving walks. 

Upon a bench in the very center of this park Hamp- 
stead dropped down and gave himself up to blissful medi- 
tations. Across the street from him was a block of happy- 
looking cottage homes, the homes of the great middle- 



i66 HELD TO ANSWER 

class folk of America, the one class that John knew well 
and sympathetically, for he himself was of it. 

On the corner directly before him was a grass-sodded 
lot, larger than the others, holding in its center, not a 
cottage, but a structure of the country schoolhouse type, 
painted white, and with a small hooded vestibule out in 
front. Over the wide doors admitting to this vestibule 
was a transom of glass, on which was painted in very plain 
letters the words : CHRISTIAN CHAPEL. 

" The house of God does not look so happy as the 
homes of men hereabout," Hampstead remarked, and 
just then was surprised out of his own thoughts by seeing 
the door of the deserted looking chapel open and two men 
come out. One was tall and heavy, gray of moustache 
and red of face, wearing a silk hat, a white necktie, and 
a full frock coat. 

"An ex-clergyman," voted Hampstead shrewdly, be- 
cause, aside from his dress,, the man looked aggressively 
unclerical. 

The other was slender, with a black, dejected moustache 
and also frock-coated, but the material of the garment was 
gray instead of black, and the suit rubbed at the elbows 
and bagged at the knees. This man carried a small 
satchel. 

" Some sort of a missionary secretary, I'll bet you," 
was John's second venture at identification. 

Another incongruous thing about the man with the 
clerical dress was that he had a carpenter's hammer in his 
hand. Dropping this tool upon the wooden landing, 
where it clattered loudly, he drew a key from his pocket 
and locked the door, shaking it viciously to make sure that 
it was fast. Then, descending the steps, with the claw of 
the hammer he pried loose a plank, some six or eight feet 
long, from the wooden walk that ran across the sod to 
the concrete pavement in front. The missionary secretary 



THE KING STILL LIVES 167 

took one end of this, and the two raised it across the door, 
where the ex-clergyman disclosed the fact that his bulging 
left hand contained nails, as with swinging .blows, he began 
to cleat the door fast. 

" Nailing up God ! " commented John, whose mood had 
become sardonic. 

" What's the story, I wonder," he remarked next, and 
rising, sauntered across the narrow street and up the 
wooden walk, till he stopped with one foot on the lower 
step, gazing casually, with mild curiosity expressed upon 
his face. 

The missionary secretary had noted John's advance and 
appeared to recognize that his chance interest was legiti- 
mate. 

" A miserable, squabbling little church," the man re- 
marked, an expression of pain upon his face. " A dis- 
grace to the communion. I'm the District Evangelist. 
I've had to step in from the outside and close it up, in 
the interest of peace. Brother Bur beck, here, is a leader 
of one of the wings. He has tried to bring peace in 
vain." 

" I have stood up for the Lord against the disturber," 
announced Brother Burbeck over his shoulder, while he 
dealt a vicious blow, as if the head of the nail were instead 
the head of the malefactor. 

"And who was the disturber?" queried John. "A 
man of bad character, I suppose." 

" No, you couldn't call him that, could you, Brother 
Burbeck?" ventured the District Evangelist. "Just a 
young man from the Seminary, with his head overflowing 
with undigested facts." 

" Near facts, they was only," interjected Brother 
Burbeck sententiously, as he held another nail between a 
hard thumb and a knotted finger, and tapped the head 
gently to start it. 



168 HELD TO ANSWER 

" Rather undermining the faith of the people in the old 
Gospel," went on the Evangelist. 

" Takin' away what he couldn't never put back," 
amended Brother Burbeck, between blows, and then added 
accusingly : " He had no respect for the Elders, not 
a bit." 

Brother Burbeck's tones, as he contributed this addi- 
tional detail, were as sharp as his blows. 

" You were one of the Elders ? " inquired John, in an 
even voice that might have been construed to mean re- 
spect for the eldership. 

" I am one of 'em," corrected the driver of nails. " I 
preached the old Jerusalem Gospel myself for twenty 
years," he affirmed proudly, " until my health failed, and 
I went into undertaking." 

" You appear to have got your health back," observed 
John dryly, noting marks of the hammer upon the plank 
where the nail heads had been beaten almost out of sight 
by his slashing blows. 

" Yep," admitted that gentleman, just as dryly. 

Looking at Elder Burbeck's large head, with its iron- 
gray hair, at the silk hat, which stuck perilously, but per- 
sistently, to the back of it; noticing the folds of oily flesh 
on his bullock neck, the working of his broad, fat shoul- 
ders, and the sweat standing out on his heavy jowls, as if 
protesting mutely this unusual activity discharged with 
such vehemence, John made up his mind that he could 
never like Elder Burbeck. In his heart he took the part 
of the disturber. 

" You know what this reminds me of, somehow ? " he 
asked, with just a minor note of accusation in his tone. 

" Not being a mind reader, I don't," replied Elder Bur- 
beck, turning on John a look which showed as plainly as 
Jhis speech that in the same interval of time when John 
was deciding he didn't like Burbeck, Burbeck was decid- 



THE KING STILL LIVES 169 

ing he didn't like John. " What does it ? " and the Elder- 
undertaker stared fiercely at the book agent. 

" Nailing Jesus to the Cross," replied John, shooting a 
glance at Burbeck that was hard and beamlike. 

"Hey!" exclaimed Burbeck, his red face reddening 
more. 

" But," explained the Secretary, interjecting himself 
anxiously, as a man not too proud of his duty that day, 
" it is in the interests of peace. We expect to give time a 
chance to heal the wounds. In six months the disturbing 
element will have gone away or given up, and then we can 
open the doors to peace and the old faith." 

" Oh, I see," said John, as instinctively liking the Mis- 
sionary Secretary as he instinctively disliked Brother Bur- 
beck, " it is a movement in behalf of the status quo?" 

" Yes," replied the Secretary, smiling faintly, as he 
noticed the shaft of humor in John's eye. 

" And Brother Burbeck ? " John twitched his chin in 
the direction of the tipsy silk hat and the vehemently 
swinging hammer. " He is the apostle of the status 
quo?" 

" Yes," assented the Missionary, smiling yet more 
faintly, after which he countered with: "Are you a 
Christian, my brother? " 

" I was a Deacon in the First Church, Los Angeles," 
answered John, " but I've been traveling round for a year 
or so. Hampstead's my name." 

The Secretary's face lighted with unexpected pleasure. 

" How do you do, Brother Hampstead," he exclaimed, 
putting out his hand quickly. " My name's Harding." 

" Glad to meet you, Brother Harding," said John ; " I've 
seen your name in the church papers." 

" Brother Burbeck, this is Brother Hampstead, of the 
First Church, Los Angeles," announced Harding, when 
that gentleman, having driven his last nail and smashed 



170 HELD TO ANSWER 

the plank a parting blow with his hammer, turned to them 
again. 

Elder Burbeck's manner instantly changed. " Oh, one 
of our brethren, eh, Hampstead? Why, say, I remember 
hearing you talk one night down there in Christian En- 
deavor when I was down at the Undertakers' Convention. 
They told me you were going on the stage. That's how I 
remember you so well, I guess." 

" I got over that nonsense," said John easily. " Sorry 
to hear you've been having trouble in your little church." 

" It's been a mighty sad case," sighed the Elder, heav- 
ing his ponderous bosom and mopping his red brow and 
scalp, for the removal of his hat revealed that his iron- 
gray hair was only a fringe. 

" By the way," asked John, who was contemplating the 
bulletin board, " what about the Sunday school ? I see 
it's down for nine forty-five." 

" Dwindled to a handful of children/' declared Bur- 
beck, as if a handful of children was something entirely 
negligible. 

John had a reason for feeling especially tender where 
the feelings of children were concerned. 

" But they'll come next Sunday, and they'll be terribly 
disappointed," he urged. " It will shake their faith in 
God himself. They won't understand at all, will they? " 

" I reckon they will when they see the church nailed 
up," answered Burbeck grimly, quite too triumphant over 
spiking an enemy's guns to consider the mystified, won- 
dering soul of childhood as it might stand before that 
nailed door four mornings forward from this, for the day 
of the crucifixion of the door was Wednesday. 

Their task completed, the Elder and the Evangelist 
were turning toward the street. " Good-by, Brother," 
said Harding, again shaking hands. 

" Oh, good-by, Brother Hampstead," exclaimed Bur- 



THE KING STILL LIVES 171 

beck, turning as if he had forgotten something, and offer- 
ing his stout, once sinewy palm. 

John gave it a grip that shook the huge frame of Elder 
Burbeck, and made him feel, as he seldom felt about any 
man, that here was a personality and a physical force at 
least as vigorous as his own. 

" Good-by, Brother Burbeck," John responded, with an 
open smile; and then while the two men took themselves 
down the street in the direction of the car line, the book- 
agent went back and sat contemplatively in the park. 

It was a marvelously pleasant day. A few fleecy clouds 
were drifting overhead, revealing patches of the unrivaled 
blue of California's sky above them. The sun shone 
warmly when the clouds were not in the way, and when 
they were, the lazy breeze made its breath seem cooler 
and more bracing, as if to compensate for the absence. 
Down the street two or three blocks Hampstead could see 
the Bay waters dancing in the sunlight. The cottages on 
both sides of the park were embowered with vines, roses 
mostly, white roses and red, with here and there a giant 
bougainvillea, some of its lavender, clusterlike flowers 
abloom, and some of them still sealed in their transparent 
pods that looked like envelopes of isinglass. 

High in the blue an occasional pigeon circled ; off to the 
left a kite appeared, sailing high, and bounding vigorously 
when the upper air currents freshened. 

On John's own level, the world was faring onward 
very happily. 

About every cottage there was an air of nature's cheer 
and a suggestion of blooming activity. Only the little 
church looked hopeless and abandoned of men, the letters 
of its name staring out big-eyed and lonely from above the 
glass transom, while the plank of the status quo, nailed 
rudely across its front, was a brutal advertisement of its 
dishonored state. 



172 HELD TO ANSWER 

" Some day," mused John, " I think I'll build a church, 
and I believe I'll build it to look like a cottage, with roses 
round it and bougainvilleas and palms, with broad veran- 
das, inviting lawns, and bowering vines. I'll make it the 
most homey looking place in the whole neighborhood, with 
a rustic sign stuck up somewhere that says * The Home 
of God ', or something like that." 

Still musing, the scornful words spoken to John by 
Scofield more than a year ago on the steps of the Pacific 
Union Club, came idling into his mind : " Remember ! 
You're not an actor! You're a preacher." He smiled 
as he recalled Scofield's irritation at the idea, and his 
own. How ridiculously impossible it had seemed then 
and seemed to-day! And it was still so irritating as to 
stir him into getting up and walking away from the little 
chapel in the direction of the street car. Yet his mind 
reverted to the closed door. 

" Won't they be disappointed, though ? Those chil- 
dren!" 

At the corner he turned and looked back as if to make 
sure. Yes, there was the weather-worn streak upon the 
door, at that reckless angle which proclaimed the mood of 
the man who placed it there. 

" And they nailed up God ! " Hampstead commented 
grimly, swinging upon his car. 

That afternoon at five o'clock he left for Los Angeles. 



CHAPTER XVII 



IT was three o'clock on Thursday afternoon, and John 
was sitting happily in the Mitchell living-room in Los 
Angeles, waiting for Bessie to come from school. Mrs. 
Mitchell stood on the threshold, dressed for the street save 
for her gloves, at one of which she was tugging. 

" I have always felt, Mr. Hampstead, that you were a 
very good influence for Bessie," she was saying guilefully, 
" and I do wish you would talk her out of that university 
idea. She graduates from High in June, you know ; and 
she talks nothing, thinks nothing, dreams nothing but uni- 
versity, university, uni-v-e-r-s-i-t-y ! " Mrs. Mitchell's 
elocutionary climax was calculated to convey a very fine 
impression of utter weariness with the word and with the 
idea ; but John, who had flushed with gratification at the 
crafty compliment, would not be swerved by either guile 
or scorn from an instinctive loyalty to Bessie and her 
ideals. 

" I'm afraid I couldn't do that," he said soberly. " My 
heart wouldn't be in it. Bessie has a wonderful mind. 
You should give her every advantage." 

" Well, talk her out of Stanford, then," compromised 
Mrs. Mitchell, as if in her mind she had already surren- 
dered, as she knew she must. " She's determined to go 
there. Stanford is a kind of man's school, from what I 
hear. Lots of the Phrosos are going to U. C." 

"But if I rather favor Stanford myself?" suggested 
Hampstead, feeling his way carefully. 



.174 HELD TO ANSWER 

The front door opened and closed, and John's heart 
leaped at the sound of a light footstep in the hall. As 
if hearing voices, the owner of the footsteps turned them 
towards the living room. 

Book strap in hand, wearing a white shirt waist and 
skirt of blue, with the brown crinkly hair breaking out 
from under a small straw hat worn jauntily askew, Bessie 
paused upon the threshold, her eyes a-sparkle with ex- 
pectancy. 

"John!" she exclaimed, with a little shriek of joy. 
" You you old dear ! " and she came literally bounding 
across the room to greet him as he rose and advanced 
eagerly. 

Hampstead thought he had never seen such a glowing 
picture of animal health and exuberance of life. 

" Well ! " exclaimed Mrs. Mitchell, addressing her 
daughter with chiding in her tones. " Why don't you 
throw your arms around him and be done with it ? " 

Bessie blushed, but John covered her confusion by ex- 
claiming : 

" I almost did that myself, Mrs. Mitchell, I was so glad 
to see her ! " Whereupon he laughed hilariously, it was 
such a good joke; and Bessie laughed, turning her face 
well away from her mother, while Mrs. Mitchell laughed 
most heartily of all at the thought of John Hampstead 
putting his arms around any woman, except, of course, 
as he might have done in the practice of his late profession. 

" And now," declared Mrs Mitchell, as she managed 
the last button of her glove, " I must abandon you to your- 
selves; but don't sit here paying compliments. Get out 
into the air somewhere." 

" Oh, let's," assented Bessie, with animation. " Only 
wait till I change my hat ! " 

" Don't," pleaded John. " I like that one." 

" But I have another you'll like better," called Bessie 



WHEN DREAMS COME TRUE 175 

over her shoulder, for already she was racing out of the 
room past her mother. 

" Good-by. Have a good time ! " Mrs. Mitchell lifted 
her voice toward her daughter racing up the stairs, and 
then turning, waved her ridiculous folding sunshade at 
John as she adjured : " Give her your very best advice ! " 

" Never doubt it," echoed John, with the sudden feel- 
ing of a man who is left alone in a house to guard great 
riches. 

"How do you like it?" 

Bessie had taken a whole half -hour to change her hat, 
but her dress had been changed as well, to something white 
and filmy that reached below the shoe-tops and by those 
few inches of extra length added a surprising look of 
maturity to the pliant youthfulness of her figure. This 
was heightened by a surplice effect in the bodice forming 
a V, which accentuated the rounded fullness of the bosom 
and gave a hint of the charm and power of a most be- 
witching woman, ripening swiftly underneath the artless 
beauty of the girl. 

" Wonderful ! " John exclaimed rapturously, rising as 
she entered. 

Bessie's mood was lightly happy. His was deeply 
reverent, and there was a world of devotion and tender- 
ness in the look he gave her, which thrilled through the 
girl like an ecstasy. 

All the past was coming up to John's mind, all the long 
past of their friendship with its gradual ripening into 
normal, all-comprehending love, but still he was searching 
her uplifted face as if for a final confirmation of the one- 
ness of the vision of his love with this materialization of 
youth and woman mingling; for he must make no mistake 
this time. 

Yes, the confirmation was complete. It was the true 



176 HELD TO ANSWER 

face of his dream. In it was everything which he had 
hoped to find there. Marien Dounay had made woman 
mean more to him than woman had ever meant before. 
But here in the upturned, trusting face of Bessie, with 
its sparkle in the eyes and its sunny witchery in the 
dimples, there was something infinitely richer and more 
satisfying than experience or imagination had been able 
to suggest. 

Here, he told himself reverently, was every blessing 
that God had compounded for the happiness of man. And 
it was his, modestly, trustfully his. Every detail of 
her expression and her beauty, every subtly playing cur- 
rent of her personality, made him know it. He had but 
to declare himself and reach out and take her like a 
lover. 

But, strangely, he could do neither. An awe was on 
him. He felt like falling down upon his knees and thank- 
ing God, but not like taking her ; not like touching her 
even, though he could not resist that when Bessie extended 
frankly both her hands, quite in the old manner of cordial, 
happy comradeship. John took them in his, and as she 
returned his touch with the warm frank clasp that was 
characteristic of her hearty nature, he got anew the sense 
of the woman in her. It swept over him like an intoxica- 
tion that was rare and wonderful, like no rapture he had 
ever known before half -spiritual but half wholly 
human therefore with something in it that frightened 
him. 

" Bessie," he asked, abruptly, " could we get away from 
here quickly in a very few minutes away from men 
and houses and things? " 

Bessie looked surprised. "Of course ; we're going out, 
aren't we ? " 

" But quickly," urged John, " just a mad impulse, just 
a romantic impulse ; the feeling that I want to get you out 



WHEN DREAMS COME TRUE 177 

of doors. You are like a flower to me, just bursting into 
beautiful bloom. Better still, a wonderful fruit, which 
in some sheltered spot has grown unplucked to a rich 
tinted ripeness. You are so much a part of nature, so 
utterly unartificial, that it seems I must see you and enjoy 
you first in a setting of nature's own." 

This was the frankest acknowledgment of her beauty 
and its appeal to him that John had ever made. It seemed 
to Bessie that he made it now rather unconsciously; but 
she saw that he felt it and was moved by it. To see this 
gave her another delicious thrill of happiness. Indeed 
her girlish breast was all a-tremble with joys, with curi- 
osities, with expectancies. She, too, felt something won- 
derful and intoxicating in this slight physical contact of 
her lover's fingers. She felt herself upon the verge of 
new and mysterious discoveries and recognized the natu- 
ralness of the instinct to meet them under the vaulted blue 
with the warm sun shining and the tonic breezes blowing 
past. 

;< Your impulse is right, John," Bessie answered, with 
quick assent and an energetic double shake of the hands 
that held her own, and they went out into the sunny 
street. 

Not far from the Mitchell residence, on the western 
hills of Los Angeles, is a little, painted park, with a maple- 
leaf sheet of water embanked by closely shaved terraces 
of green, and once or twice a clump of shrubbery crouch- 
ing so close over graveled walks as to suggest the thrill 
of something wild. From one of these man-made 
thickets a toy promontory juts into the lake. Upon this 
point, as if it were a lighthouse, is a rustic house, octag- 
onal in shape, with benches upon its inner circumference. 
Embowered at the back, screened half way on the sides, 
and with the open lake before, this snug structure affords 
a delicious sense of privacy and elfin-like seclusion, pro- 



178 HELD TO ANSWER 

vided there be no oarsmen pulling lazily or tiny sailboat 
loafing across the watery foreground. 

This day there was none. The stretch of lake in front 
stared vacantly. The birds twittered in the boughs be- 
hind, unguardedly. The perfume of jasmine or orange 
blossoms or honeysuckle or of love was wafted through 
the rustic lattices; and here John and Bessie, seated side 
by side, were able to feel themselves alone in the universe. 

But it was so delightful just to have each other thus 
alone and know that at any moment the great words so 
long preparing might be spoken, that instinctively they 
postponed the blissful moment of avowal, with vagrant 
talk on widely scattered subjects. Indeed, it seemed to 
each that any word the other spoke was music, and any- 
thing was blissful that engaged their minds in mutual 
contemplation. But nearer and nearer to themselves the 
subjects of conversation drew until they talked of their 
careers. 

John, they agreed, was going to be something big, 
very, very big; though he still did not know what, and in 
the meantime he was going to make money, yet not for 
money's sake. 

As for Bessie, she, too, had developed an ambition and 
surprised John into delightful little raptures with her 
statement of it. 

" This country has been keeping bachelor's hall long 
enough," she dogmatized, placing one slim finger affirma- 
tively in the center of one white palm. " Women are 
going to have more to do with government. Here in 
California we'll be voting in a few years. When it comes, 
John, I'm going to be ready for it." 

The idea seemed so strange at first, this dimpled 
creature voting, that John could not repress a smile. 
But Bessie, her blue eyes round and sober, was too earnest 
to protest the smile. 



WHEN DREAMS COME TRUE 179 

" Father's going up the line ; you know that, of course," 
she affirmed. " He'll be a big man and rich almost before 
\ve know it ; but they're not going to make any social buzz- 
buzz out of little Bessie. That's why I'm aiming at Stan- 
ford. I'm going in for political economy. When 
woman's opportunity comes, there are lots of women that 
will be ready for it. I'm going to be one of them." 

Bessie nodded her head so emphatically that some 
crinkly brown locks fell roguishly about her ears, and 
John was obliged to smile again ; but for all that the big 
man was very proud of the purpose so seriously an- 
nounced. Besides, with Bessie's manner more than her 
words there went an impression of the growing depth and 
dignity of her character that was to John as delightful as 
some other things his eyes were boldly busy in observing. 
But presently these busy observations and reflections 
kindled in him again an overwhelming sense of the wealth 
of woman in this aspiring, dimpled girl. With this went 
an exciting vision of the bliss which life holds in store for 
any mutually adapted man and woman where each is con- 
sumed with desire for the other. 

" Bessie ! " he broke out impulsively, arising quickly and 
looking down into her upturned, intent face. " Doesn't 
everything we've just been talking about seem unimpor- 
tant?" 

Bessie's features expressed wonder and delightful an- 
ticipation. 

" Beside ourselves, I mean," John went on, and then 
added impetuously: "To me, this afternoon, there is 
just one fact in the universe, Bessie, and that fact is 
You ! " 

The light of a shining happiness kindled like a flash on 
the girl's face, and she threw out her hands to him in the 
old impulsive way. 

" Just one thing I feel," John rushed along, seizing the 



i8o HELD TO ANSWER 

outstretched hands and playfully but tenderly lifting her 
until she stood before him, " just one thing that I want to 
do in the world above everything else, and that is to love 
you, Bessie, to love you ! " 

The words as he breathed them seemed to come up out 
of the deeps of a nature rich in knowledge of what such 
love could mean. 

Bessie, her face enraptured, did not speak, but her 
dimples behaved skittishly, and there was a sharp little 
catch of her breath. 

" Just one ambition stands out above every other," con- 
tinued the man with a noble earnestness " the ambition 
to make you happy to protect you, to worship you, and 
to help you do the things you want to do in the world. 
For marriage isn't a selfish thing! It doesn't mean the 
extinction of a woman's career in order that a man may 
have his. It is the surrender of each to the other for the 
greater happiness and the higher power of both." 

Suddenly a choke came in the big man's voice. 

" That's what I feel, my dear girl," he concluded 
abruptly, with an excess of reverence in his tones, " and 
that's what I want to do ! " 

As he spoke, John had lifted her hands higher and 
higher till one rested on each of his shoulders. Man and 
woman, they looked straight into each other's eyes, as they 
had that day upon the cliff, but this time it was his lip that 
quivered and his eyes that misted over. 

Bessie, sobered for a moment almost to a sense of un- 
worthiness, as she felt all at once what it meant for a 
great-hearted man to so declare himself to a woman, saw 
something in that growing mist which impelled her to 
immediately reward the tenderness of such devotion with 
a frank confession of her own. 

" Well," she breathed naively, " you have my permis- 
sion to do all those things. I'm sure, John, the biggest 



WHEN DREAMS COME TRUE 181 

fact, the biggest love, the biggest career in the world for 
me is just you! " 

Bessie accompanied the words with an ecstatic little 
shrug of the shoulders and a self -abandoning toss of the 
head. 

Reverently John pressed his lips upon hers and held 
her close for a very, very long time; while a thrill of in- 
describable bliss surged over and engulfed him. His 
embrace was gentle, even reverent ; but it seemed he could 
not let her out of his arms. Here at last was one treas- 
ure he could never surrender; one renunciation he could 
never make. 

" And to think," sighed Bessie, after a long and bliss- 
ful silence, finding such rapture in nestling in those strong 
arms that she was still unwilling to lift her head from 
where she could feel the beating of his happy heart, " to 
think how long we have loved each other without ex- 
pressing it; how loyal we have been to each other's love 
even before we had grown to recognize it for what it 
truly was." 

Bessie looked up suddenly. It seemed to her that 
John's heart had done a funny thing; that it staggered 
and missed a beat. 

But John ignored her look. His face was set and 
stubborn. He changed his position slightly and gathered 
her yet more determinedly in his arms, so that Bessie felt 
again how strong he was, and how much it means to 
woman's life to add a strength like that. 

" Do you know, John," she prattled presently, out of 
the deepening bliss which this enormous sense of se- 
curity inspired, " do you know that I used to fear for 
you? For me rather! To fear," she exclaimed with a 
happily apologetic little laugh, " that you might fall in 
love with Marien Dounay ! " 

But the laugh ended in a choke of surprise, when 



182 HELD TO ANSWER 

Bessie felt the body of the big man shiver like a tree in a 
blast. 

"Why? Why? What is the matter, John?" she 
asked in helpless bewilderment, for the odd face with a 
profile like a mountain had taken on a look of pain, and 
while she questioned him, he put her from him and 
with a low groan sank down upon the bench. 

The little summer house was still undisturbed by the 
rude, annoying outer world; but its atmosphere had 
subtly changed. A chill wind blew through the shrub- 
bery and the fragrance of bush and flower was gone. 
Even the sun, as if he could not bear to look, had dropped 
behind the hill; for something had edged between the 
lovers. 

Bessie's artless words made John remember as very, 
very near, what, during this delicious hour in her pres- 
ence, had seemed to be worlds and worlds behind him, 
in fact made him feel his shame and guilt so deeply that 
he could no longer hold her in his arms. Then the 
story of his infatuation for Marien Dounay came out, as 
he had always felt it must, sometime, for the purging 
of his own soul, even if it were she who would suffer 
most, the old, old law of vicarious suffering again ! 

Bessie listened with white, set face, while John reso- 
lutely spared himself nothing in the telling, but when the 
look of hurt and pain took up its abode permanently in 
those mild blue eyes, a feeling of yet more terrible mis- 
giving overtook him and he would have checked the 
story if he could. But once started, his natural shrink- 
ing from hypocrisy compelled him to tell the truth. 

" You can never know how I have reproached myself 
for it," he concluded. " I have suffered agonies of re- 
morse. Wild with love of you, and the impulse to de- 
clare that love, I have stayed away six months. It 



WHEN DREAMS COME TRUE 183 

seemed to me at first that I could hardly get my own con- 
sent to come at all from her to you; that I must doom 
myself to perpetual loneliness to expiate my sin. And 
yet, Bessie," John made the mistake of trying to ex- 
tenuate, " it was probably not altogether unnatural, know- 
ing man as I begin to know him." 

To the young girl, facing the first bitter disillusion- 
ment of love, it came like a flash of intuition that this 
last was true ; that men were like that all men ! They 
were mere brutes! This intuition maddened the girl, 
and her disturbed emotions expressed themselves in a 
burst of flaming anger. 

" You may go back to Marien Dounay," she exclaimed 
hotly. " I do not want her left-overs." 

" But," protested John, with something of that sense 
of injury which a man is apt to feel if forgiveness does 
not follow soon upon confession, " you do not under- 
stand!" 

" I understand," retorted Bessie with blazing sarcasm, 
" that you fell hopelessly in love with this woman ; that 
you embraced her, kissed her, worshipped the ground she 
trod on ; that you proposed to marry her almost upon the 
spot; that she refused you and drove you from her; that 
for a month you wrote me letters of hypocritical pre- 
tense ; that when she finally not only repulsed you but re- 
vealed herself to you as a woman without character, you 
considerately revived your affections for me." 

John felt that in this storm of words some injustice 
was being done him ; yet he could not deny that such an 
outburst of wrath upon Bessie's part was natural, and he 
humbled himself before the blast. 

In the vehemence of her demonstration, Bessie had 
arisen, and after the final word stood with her back to 
her lover, looking out upon the little lake which suddenly 
seemed a frozen sheet of ice. 



184 HELD TO ANSWER 

" Bessie ! " John murmured huskily, after an interval. 

" Don't speak to me, don't ! " she commanded hoarsely, 
without turning her head. 

John obeyed her so humbly and so completely that she 
began to wonder if he were still there, or if he had sunk 
through the ground in the shame and mortification which 
she knew well enough possessed him. 

When she had wondered long enough, she turned and 
found him not only there but in a pose so abject and 
utterly remorseful that her heart softened until she felt 
the need of self-justification. 

" You were my god," she urged. " You inspired me ! 
I worshipped you ! I thought you were as fine a man as 
my own father and finer because you had a finer ambi- 
tion. I thought you were grand, noble, strong ! " Bessie 
stopped with her emphasis heavy upon the final word. 

" Is not the strong man the one who has found in 
what his weakness lies ? " John pleaded humbly. 

But as before, his attempt at palliation seemed to anger 
her unaccountably, and she turned away again with feel- 
ings too intense for utterance with, in fact, a dismal 
sense of the futility of utterance. She wanted to get 
away from John. She wished he would not stand there 
barring the door. She wished he would go while her 
back was turned. A sense of humiliation greater than 
had possessed him, she was sure, had come over her. If 
the lake in front had been sixty feet deep instead of six 
inches, she might have flung herself into it. 

" But you love me ! " pleaded John from behind her, 
his voice coming up out of depths. 

" Do you think I would care how many actresses you 
lost your dizzy head over if I didn't?" retorted Bessie 
petulantly, and instantly would have given several worlds 
to recall the speech. 

" No ! No ! " she continued, stamping her foot an- 




Don't speak to me, 



don't!" she commanded hoarsely. 
Page 184. 



WHEN DREAMS COME TRUE 185 

grily, " I don't love you. I love the man I thought you 
were." 

" All the same, I love you," groaned John, rising up 
to proclaim his passion hoarsely and then flinging him- 
self again upon the bench, where with head hanging 
despondently, he continued : " I love you, and I don't 
blame you for hating me, and you can punish me as long 
as you want and in any way you want. You can even 
try to fall in love with some one else if you like. Marry 
him if you want to. I love you, and I'll keep on loving 
you. No punishment is too great for the thing I've 
done." 

The effect of this speech on the outraged Bessie was 
rather alarming to that indignant young lady. When 
John began to heap the reproaches higher upon himself, 
she felt a return to sympathetic consideration for him 
that was so great she dared not trust herself to hear more 
of them. 

' Take me home ! " she commanded hurriedly, walk- 
ing swiftly by him, but with scrupulous care that the 
swish of her white skirts should not touch the bowed 
head as she passed, and no more trusting herself to a 
second glance at that dejected tawny mop of hair than 
to hear more of his self-indictment. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

THE HOUSE DIVIDED 

AFTER parting from Bessie at her father's door, John 
spent twenty- four hours in dumb agony at his hotel, de- 
voting much time to uncounted attempts to frame a letter 
to her. But the one which finally went by the hands of 
a messenger was a mere cry that broke out of his heart. 
All it brought back was an answering cry, four pages 
with impetuous words rioting over them. There were 
splotches of ink where the pen had been urged too reck- 
lessly, and as John held it up to the electric light, he tried 
to imagine there were watery stains upon it. 

That night Hampstead left Los Angeles for San Fran- 
cisco and spent an aimless Saturday brooding upon the 
ocean beach, needing no sight of the jutting Cliff House 
rocks upon which his lips had first touched Bessie's to em- 
bitter his reflections. Sunday morning, however, as 
early as nine o'clock, found him threading the graveled 
paths of the little park in Encina, and taking his place 
upon the rustic bench across from the dingy chapel. The 
cleat remained on the door. God was still nailed up ! 

John could not help thinking that he, too, was rather 
nailed up. Drawing Bessie's last letter from his pocket, 
he held it very tenderly for a time in his hand, then opened 
it to the final paragraph, which his eyes read dimly 
through a mist that overspread his vision like a curtain of 
fog. 

" I shall always love you, John," her pen had sobbed, 
" always ; or at least, it seems so now. But you have 



THE HOUSE DIVIDED 187 

hurt me in what touches a woman nearest. I have tried 
to understand I think I have forgiven but that full 
confiding trust ! Oh, John ! " 

The letter didn't cut off hope exactly; but it didn't 
kindle any bonfires, either. As John read it, he felt for- 
lorn and helpless, and perceived that he had made rather a 
mess of things generally. 

And, in the meantime, there was absolutely nothing 
more important for him to do than to sit on the park bench 
before this wretched-looking, dishonored little church 
and watch to see whether any children came to Sunday 
school. 

Yes, two were coming now. One was a little girl 
of six or seven, in a smock immaculately white. She was 
bareheaded, but her flaxen locks were bound with a bright 
blue ribbon that just matched the blue of her eyes. Her 
stockings were white, and her shoes were patent leather 
and very shiny. She walked with precise, proud steps, 
and looked down occasionally at the glinting tips of her 
toes to make sure that they were still unspotted. Once 
she stopped and touched them daintily with the handker- 
chief she carried in her hand, and then glanced up and 
around swiftly with a guilty look. 

By her side walked little brother. He might have been 
four. He might have been wearing his first pants; his 
feet might have been uncomfortable; the elastic cord on 
his hat might have been pinching his throat most irri- 
tatingly, and probably was; but for all of that he trudged 
along sturdily, as careful of his four-year-old dignity as 
his sister obviously was of her motherly office. 

He stretched his legs, too, to take as long steps as she, 
which was not so difficult, because his sister minced her 
gait a little. 

Together they swung around the corner, and their 
feet pattered on the board walk leading across the sod 



i88 HELD TO ANSWER 

to the chapel. Involuntarily they stopped a moment 
where Elder Burbeck had borrowed the plank, then 
stepped over the hole and mounted with confident, strain- 
ing steps to the platform. The sister was now a little in 
advance, one hand holding her brother's and lifting 
stoutly as he struggled to surmount the unnatural height. 

But the door of the church was closed. This non- 
plussed the little lady for just a second, after which she 
thrust up her chubby hand and gave the knob a turn. The 
door did not respond. She rattled the knob protestingly, 
and then, looking higher, saw the plank nailed across. 

At this the small miss stepped back confounded, to the 
accompaniment of childish murmurings. Little brother 
did not understand. He clamored to be admitted to his 
" Sunny Kool." The little woman tried again, but the 
door baffled her most indifferently. However, after a 
moment of wondering dismay, this tiny edition of the 
feminine retreated no farther than to turn and sit down 
upon the steps, first dusting them carefully, and inducing 
little brother to sit beside her. Strength had been baffled, 
but faith was still strong. 

" The eternal woman ! " commented John reverently. 
" So Mary waited at the tomb." 

But other children were coming, and soon a fringe of 
little bodies was sitting around the platform, and soon a 
border of little feet decorated the second step, the girls' 
feet neatly, daintily composed; the boys' feet restless, 
clumsier, beating an insistent tattoo as they awaited the 
appearance of some grown-up who could admit them or 
explain. 

"Teacher! Teacher!" 

One little girl set up the shout, and like a bevy the 
smaller children swarmed across the street and into the 
park to meet a very slender girl, perhaps sixteen years of 
age, with her light brown hair in half a dozen long, roll- 



THE HOUSE DIVIDED 189 

ing curls that, snared at the neck by a wide ribbon, hung 
half way down her back. 

Attended eagerly by this childish court, the babble of 
their voices rising about her, the girl mounted the steps, 
stood a moment in confusion before the locked and barred 
door, then looked about her helplessly, almost as the chil- 
dren had done. 

" This is my cue," John declared with decision, rising 
from his seat and crossing to the chapel. 

" My name's Hampstead," he began, taking off his hat 
to the girl. " I belong to the First Church, Los Angeles." 

" How do you do, Brother Hampstead," she responded, 
in a voice that expressed instant confidence, while her 
large eyes, blue as the sky, lighted with pleasure and re-' 
lief. " I am Helen Plummer, teacher of the infant class.'* 

" You seem to be embarrassed," John proceeded. 

"Whatever shall I do?" confessed the young lady, 
looking at the barred door, at her charges about her, and 
at John. 

John laid his hand upon the plank at the end where it 
projected beyond the edge of the little, coop-like vestibule, 
and gave it a tentative pull. It did not spring much. 
Burbeck's nails had been long, and he had driven them 
deep. But John was strong. He swung his weight upon 
the end of the plank and it gave a little. He swung 
harder, and it yielded more. Presently he heard a 
squeaking, protesting sound from the straining nails, and 
increased his efforts till the veins knotted on his fore- 
head. 

" Bet y' he can't," speculated an urchin whose chubby 
toes were frankly barefoot and energetically digging into 
the sod of the lawn. 

" Bet yuh he will," instantly countered another, shifting 
his gum. 

" Oh, I do hope you can ! " sighed the fairy thing 



190 HELD TO ANSWER 

with the curls down her back and the eyes like the sky. 

That settled it for John. This plank was coming off. 
Nevertheless, there was a pause while he mopped his 
brow and considered. The result of these considerations 
was to fall back for reinforcement on two cobbles of un- 
equal size chosen from the gutter, the larger of which he 
used as a hammer while the smaller served as a wedge, till, 
w r ith a final wrench, the plank came free. 

But Elder Burbeck had locked the door. 

" A hairpin ? " queried John of the sky blue eyes. 

" I have not come to hairpins yet," blushed the teacher 
of the infant class. 

John remembered the buttonhook on his key ring, and 
after a few moments of vigorous attack with that humble 
instrument the bolt shot accommodatingly to one side and 
the door swung open. 

" Thank you so much ! " exclaimed the blue eyes, though 
the red lips of pliant sixteen said never a word, but framed 
themselves in a very pretty smile. 

John acknowledged the smile with one of his broadest. 
At the same time, he reflected that Miss Helen's failure to 
regard as seriously unusual either the barred door or 
its violent opening was significant of the state to which 
affairs in the little church had come; and it was with a 
grim sense of duty well performed that the big man fol- 
lowed the trooping children into the chapel and looked 
about him. 

The building was small, yet somehow it appeared larger 
inside than out. The utmost simplicity marked its fur- 
nishings. The seats were divided by two aisles into a 
central block of sittings and two side blocks. The pulpit 
was a mere elevated platform at one side, flanked by lower 
platforms, one of which supported a cabinet organ. The 
dull red carpet upon the floor was dreary looking ; but the 
walls and ceilings were neatly white, giving a suggestion 



THE HOUSE DIVIDED 191 

of lightness and cheer quite out of harmony with the cir- 
cumstances under which John had entered it. 

The twenty or more children massed themselves, as if 
by habit, upon the front seats, and presently, with Helen 
at the organ, Hampstead had them singing lustily one 
song after another, while the size of the audience in- 
creased by occasional stragglers until, during the fourth 
song, two women appeared, each rather breathless, and 
one with unmistakable evidences of having got hurriedly 
into her clothes. John felt the eyes of the women upon 
him suspiciously, and noticed that neither spoke to the 
other, and that they took seats on opposite sides of the 
church. 

At the end of the song, he walked over to the older of 
the two ladies, who somehow had the look of a wife and 
mother in Israel, and said : 

" My name's Hampstead, First Church, Los An- 
geles." 

" I'm Sister Nelson," replied the lady, a trifle stiffly. 
" I teach a class of boys. But I thought the church was 
closed till I heard the organ. Are you a minister ? " 

"Me? No!" And John smiled at the thought, but 
he also smiled engagingly. Mrs. Nelson instantly liked 
and accepted him and allowed her stiffness to melt some- 
what. 

" I just happened in," John explained, as he turned to 
cross toward the young lady on the other side, who ap- 
peared, he thought, to eye him rather more suspiciously 
after such cordial exchange with Mrs. Nelson. 

" My name's Hampstead," he began. " First Church, 
Los Angeles. I just happened in." 

" I'm Miss Armstrong," replied the lady, with convic- 
tion, as if it were something important to be Miss Arm- 
strong. " I was teaching a class of girls before Brother 
Aleshire left ; or rather, was driven away ! " and the lady 



192 HELD TO ANSWER 

darted a look that ran across the little auditorium like a 
silver wire straight at the uncompromising figure of Sister 
Nelson. " I thought there wasn't to be any Sunday 
school until I heard the organ." 

" Guess I'm responsible for that," replied John. " I 
just kind of butted in." 

Miss Armstrong did not ask John if he were a minister. 
She knew it was unnecessary after he said " butted in." 
But she also felt the warmth of his engaging smile and 
yielded to it after a .searching moment, for he really did 
look like a well-meaning young man. 

Before the pulpit, and in front of the central block of 
chairs where the children were gathered, was a huge 
irregular patch in the carpet. This patch was about mid- 
way between the two outer plots of chair-backs, in the 
midst of one of which, like a solitary outpost, sat the 
watchful Mrs. Nelson, while Miss Armstrong performed 
grim sentinel duty in the other. 

To this patch in the carpet, as to the security of neutral 
ground, John returned after establishing his identity and 
status with the two ladies, and from that safely aloof posi- 
tion, after a moment of hesitancy, ventured to announce : 

" Since we seem somewhat disorganized this morning, 
I suggest that Sister Nelson take all the boys, and Sister 
Armstrong take all the girls, while Miss Helen will take 
the little folks, as usual." 

It was evident from their respective expressions that 
Mrs. Nelson did not know about this idea, and that Miss 
Armstrong also had her doubts ; but the children settled it. 
The tots rushed for the small platform on the left of the 
pulpit which had some kindergarten paraphernalia upon 
it, while the larger boys charged for Sister Nelson and be- 
gan to arrange the loose chairs in a circle about her. The 
larger girls made the same sort of an advance upon Miss 
Armstrong. 



THE HOUSE DIVIDED 193 

Within five minutes, preliminaries were got out of the 
way, heads were ducked toward a common center, and 
there rose in the little church that low buzz of intense in- 
terest, possibly more apparent than real, which an old- 
fashioned Sunday school gives off at recitation period, 
and which is like no other sound in the world in its ca- 
pacity to suggest the peaceful, bee-like hum of industry 
and contentment. 

Standing meditatively in the center of the open space 
before the pulpit, thrilling with pleasure at the situation, 
feeling somehow that he had created it, John heard with 
apprehension a quick heavy step in the little entry, saw 
the swinging inside doors give back, and observed the 
stern, red face of Elder Burbeck confronting him across 
the backs of the middle bank of chairs. 

The Elder had a fighting set to his jaw ; he had his un- 
dertaker hat upon his head ; and he glared at John accus- 
ingly as if he instantly connected him with the policy of 
the open door. But as if to make sure first just what 
mischief had resulted, Elder Burbeck's glance swept the 
room, taking in by turns Miss Armstrong with her girls, 
Sister Nelson with her boys, and Miss Helen with her 
kindergarteners. 

As the Elder gazed, his expression changed perceptibly, 
and he reached up and took off his high hat, lowering it 
slowly, but reverently. 

John, who had been standing perfectly still upon the 
patch, meek but unabashed, experienced an odd sensation 
as he witnessed this manoeuvre. It was dramatic and as 
if some presence were in the room which the Elder had 
not expected to find there. Yet, notwithstanding this, the 
apostle of the status quo turned level, accusing eyes upon 
John across the tiers of chairs, and began to advance 
down the aisle upon the right where Sister Nelson had 
seated herself. John, at the same moment, began a 



I 9 4 HELD TO ANSWER 

strategic forward movement upon his own account, so 
that the two met midway. 

" You broke open the house of the Lord," charged 
Elder Burbeck sternly. 

" You nailed it up," rebutted John flatly, his features 
grave and his whole face clothed in a kind of dignity that 
to Elder Burbeck was as disconcerting as it was impres- 
sive. 

The Elder opened his mouth to speak but closed it again 
without doing so. Something in the very atmosphere was 
a rebuke to him. Perhaps it was the presence of the Pres- 
ence! He had indeed nailed up the house of the Lord! 
He thought he had done a righteous thing, but under this 
young man's eyes, burning with an odd spiritual light, 
before his calm, strong face, and in the presence of these 
children, the accusation smote the Elder deep. He began 
to suspect that he had done a doubtful act. 

" Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins," 
piped a high voice sharply at his elbow, and Elder Bur- 
beck started guiltily, as if his conscience had shouted the 
sentiment aloud. It was only one of Sister Nelson's boys 
singing out the text ; nevertheless, the Elder was as shaken 
as if he had heard a voice from on high. 

But at this juncture John Hampstead put out his hand 
cordially. Elder Burbeck took it tentatively, almost 
grudgingly, and was again dismayed to feel how strong 
that hand was and to observe how, without apparent ef- 
fort, it shook him all over, as it had shaken him that day 
upon the walk outside. Yet the Elder mustered once 
more the spirit of protest. 

" The church was closed by order of the District 
Evangelist," he urged, but his urging, even to himself , 
sounded strangely lacking in force. 

" It was opened in the name of Him who said * Suffer 
little children to come unto me and forbid them not,' " re- 







" You nailed it up," rebutted John flatly. Page 194. 



THE HOUSE DIVIDED 195 

plied the interloper, quietly and emphatically, but not of- 
fensively. 

In the meanwhile the subtle cordiality of John's man- 
ner did not abate but seemed rather to grow, for, still 
clinging to the Elder's hand, Hampstead walked with him 
back down the aisle to the open space before the pulpit. 
Burbeck felt himself strangely subdued. He was minded 
to rebel, to flame up ; but somehow he couldn't. Yet Sis- 
ter Nelson's eye was upon him, and it would imperil his 
own leadership to appear beaten by this mild-mannered 
young man who assumed so much so coolly and executed 
his assumptions so masterfully. The alternative strategy 
which suggested itself to the mind of the Elder was to 
take the lead in showing that he recognized the intrusion 
of Hampstead as somehow an intervention from which 
good might <*ome. To make this strategy effective, how- 
ever, action must be immediate ; but the shrewd Elder was 
easily equal to that. Sniffing the air critically for a mo- 
ment, he announced, loudly enough to be heard by all, 
even by Sister Nelson, busy with her boys : 

" You need some windows open, Brother Hampstead ! 
You go on with your superintending; I'll attend to that 
myself." 

Immediately the Elder laid his tall hat upon the pulpit 
steps and busied himself with opening the windows at the 
top. 

John watched him with carefully concealed amazement, 
until an unmistakable awe settled in upon him; for here 
was obviously the exhibition of a mystery, the demon- 
stration of a power within him not his own. Here was 
something he had not done; yet which had been done 
through him, through the presence of the Presence. 

As the lesson hour proceeded, a trickling stream of 
adults began to filter in. Their attitude, any more than 
Burbeck' s had been, was not that of people who enter a 



196 HELD TO ANSWER 

house of worship. Surprise, excitement, conflict was 
written on their faces. They took seats in one side sec- 
tion with Elder Burbeck and Miss Nelson, or upon the 
other side with Miss Armstrong ; and then, between fierce 
looks across the abyss of chair-backs at the " disturbing" 
element," the other side in a church quarrel is always 
that, they bent a curious watchful eye on Hampstead. 

At first the notes of the organ had notified those in the 
immediate neighborhood that the house of God was no 
longer nailed up. Members of each party, fearful that 
the other might gain an advantage, began at once to spread 
the news in person and by telephone, so that now all over 
Encina women were struggling with hooks and eyes and 
curling irons, and men were abandoning Sunday papers 
and slippers on shady porches, shaving, dressing, and 
rushing in hot haste to the battle line. 

When the children filed out, the opposing groups of 
adults remained buzzing among themselves like angry 
hornets, but with no more communication between the two 
ranks than bitter looks afforded. 

John, extremely desirous of getting well out of the zone 
of hostilities, was actually afraid to leave these belligerent 
Christians alone together. He thought they might break 
into pitched battle; the women might pull hair, the men 
swing chairs upon each other's heads. His fears were ab- 
ruptly heightened by a series of violent bumps on the steps 
outside, followed by a trundling sound in the vestibule as 
if a cannon were being unlimbered. Instantly, too, every 
face in the little chapel turned at the ominous sounds, but 
John was puzzled to observe that the expression of even 
the bitterest was softened at the prospect. 

This was explained in part when there appeared through 
the swinging inner doors not the muzzle of a fieldpiece, 
but a lady in a wheel chair, who, though her dark hair had 
begun to silver, was dressed in youthful white and had 



THE HOUSE DIVIDED 197 

about her the air of one who refused to allow mere in- 
validism to triumph over the stoutness of her spirit. 

Her vehicle was propelled by a solemn looking Japa- 
nese, and as if by long understanding, one man slipped 
forward immediately from each faction, and the two 
made a way among the chairs for the Oriental to roll his 
charge to the exact center of the unoccupied middle bank 
of sittings. 

Bestowing on each helper a look of gratitude from her 
dark eyes, which were large and luminous, the lady sent 
a benignant smile before her round the church like one 
whose presence sweetens all about it. Evidently she was 
one member of the congregation who observed a scrupu- 
lous neutrality while holding the affection and regard of 
all. 

" The Angel of the Chair! " murmured Miss Plummer 
in John's ear, as she passed to a seat with Miss Arm- 
strong. 

John looked again at the form in the chair, so frail and 
orchid-like, with its delicately chiseled face and its expres- 
sion of courageous spirituality. Remembering how the 
features of all had softened at the sound of the wheels, 
he felt that she well deserved the title. This impression of 
her saintly character was somehow heightened by a chain 
of large jet beads ending in a cross of the same material, 
which the whiteness of the gown outlined sharply upon 
her breast; so that John found himself instinctively lean- 
ing upon her as a possible source of inspiration and 
relief. 

From her position of carefully chosen neutrality, the 
Angel of the Chair immediately beckoned Miss Armstrong 
to her from one side and Elder Burbeck from the other. 
Each approached, without in any way recognizing the 
presence of the other; and Miss Armstrong was appar- 
ently asked to detail what had happened, Burbeck's part, 



198 HELD TO ANSWER 

it would seem, being to amend if the narrative did his 
faction less than justice. 

The story finished, and the Elder nodding his assent to 
it, the Angel of the Chair dismissed her informants and 
turned a welcoming glance on John, who advanced with 
extended hand, but judging that his formula of introduc- 
tion was now unnecessary. 

" I am Mrs. Burbeck," the lady said pleasantly in a rich 
contralto voice. 

Hampstead all but gasped. This delicate, spirituelle 
creature that hard, red-faced partisan's wife! It seemed 
impossible. 

But Mrs. Burbeck was composedly taking from her lap 
a twist of tissue paper from which she unrolled a simple 
boutonniere, consisting of one very large, very corrugated 
and very fragrant rose geranium leaf, upon which a per- 
fect white carnation had been laid. 

" Do you know, Mr. Hampstead," she went on placidly, 
" what I am going to do ? " and then, as John looked his 
disclaimer, continued : " I have always been allowed the 
privilege of bringing a flower for the minister's button- 
hole. Brother Ingram would never take his flower from 
any one else. When the rain kept me away, he would not 
wear a flower at all. Brother Aleshire also took his 
flower from me." 

" But," protested John, in sudden alarm, " I am not a 
minister at all, you know. I just happened in, and I as- 
sure you that all I am thinking of now is a way to happen 
out." 

The Angel, it appeared, was a woman with deeps of 
calm strength in her. 

" You have been a real minister in what you have done 
this morning," she said contentedly, entirely undisturbed 
by John's embarrassed frankness. 

" But how am I going to get out from under? " gasped 



THE HOUSE DIVIDED 199 

the young man, feeling more and more that he could trust 
this woman. 

The Angel of the Chair smiled inspiringly. 

" The Scripture has no rule for getting out from un- 
der," she suggested quietly, " but there is something about 
not letting go of the plow once you have grasped the 
handles." 

The Angel was looking straight up at John now, search- 
ing his eyes for a moment, then adding significantly : 

" I do not think you are a quitting sort of person." 

A quitting sort ! John could have blessed this woman. 
In two sentences she had felt her way to the principle he 
had tried to make the very center of his character, 
loyalty to duty and everlasting persistence. Some people 
rather thought he was a quitting sort. John knew he 
was not, and to prove it bent till his buttonhole was in easy 
reach of the hands uplifted with the flower. 

" And what," he asked, " does the minister do when he 
has received this decoration from the Angel of the 
Chair?" 

It was Mrs. Burbeck's turn to feel a flush of pleasure at 
this appellation from a stranger. 

" Why," she smiled, her large eyes lighting persua- 
sively, " he goes into the pulpit and announces a hymn." 

" Which I am not going to do," declared John, " because 
I should not know what to do next." 

" In that hour it shall be given you," quoted the lady. 

Now it was very strange, but when Mrs. Burbeck quoted 
this, it did not seem like an appeal to faith at all, but the 
simple statement of a fact. It chimed in, too, with that 
odd suggestion of the presence of the Presence, which had 
come to John a while ago. 

Feeling thereby unaccountably stronger, and endued 
with a sort of moral authority as if he had just taken Holy 
Orders because of the carnation which bloomed so 



200 HELD TO ANSWER 

chastely white upon his breast, John squared his shoulders 
and mounted into the pulpit. There was something that 
God wanted to say to these people, and he accepted the 
situation as an obvious call to him to say it, but when he 
essayed to speak, awe came upon him, as it had a while be- 
fore. 

" Brethren," he confessed humbly, in a voice barely 
audible to all, " I am not a preacher. I haven't got any 
text, and I don't know what to say, except just perhaps 
to tell you how I happened to be here this morning." 

Then he told them simply and unaffectedly but with un- 
conscious eloquence how he happened to see the church 
nailed up and how it sounded like the echo of the blows 
upon the cross ; how, this morning, with a sad ache in his 
own heart, the thought of the faith of little children dis- 
turbed by that brutal plank upon the door had brought 
him all the way over here from his home in San Francisco 
and led him to do what he had done. He even told them 
of his meditative comparison between the houses of peo- 
ple that looked so happy and the house of God that looked 
so unhappy. 

But while John was relating this modestly, yet with 
some of the fervor of unction and some comfortable de- 
gree of self-forgetfulness, he was interrupted by a sound 
like a sob, and looking down beyond Elder Burbeck to 
where Sister Nelson sat, he was surprised to see a hand- 
kerchief before her eyes and her shoulders trembling. 
Over on the other side, too, handkerchiefs were out, so 
that John suddenly realized that he or somebody had 
touched something. 

Who had done it? What had caused it? Once more 
there came to the young man that eerie consciousness of a 
power within him not himself, and the feeling frightened 
him. 

"That's all I have to say, brethren," he declared ab- 



THE HOUSE DIVIDED 201 

ruptly, his voice growing suddenly hollow. " I am terri- 
fied. I want to get away ! " 

Without even the singing of a hymn, John lifted his 
hand, bowed his head, and murmured something that was 
to pass for a benediction. 



CHAPTER XIX 

HIS NEXT ADVENTURE 

YET once out of the pulpit, John's sense of terror 
seemed to leave him. With some of the people coming 
forward to press his hand and even to wring it ; with the 
Angel of the Chair giving him a wonderful look from her 
luminous eyes, he began to feel strangely, happily satisfied 
with himself, as though adrift upon an unknown sea 
but without fear and joyously eager for the next adven- 
ture. 

That adventure came when blue-eyed Helen of the In- 
fant Class said pleadingly : 

" Oh, Brother Hampstead ! Will you call on Sister 
Showalter this afternoon and read a chapter ? She is very 
ill and lonely." 

" Yes," assented John recklessly. " But explain who it 
is that's coming a book agent to read to her." 

John had no idea who Mrs. Showalter was; but they 
gave him a number. He had no idea what a professional 
clergyman reads to a sick woman; but that afternoon he 
pushed his little New Testament in his hip pocket some- 
what as Brother Charles Thompson Campbell used to do, 
and went out upon his errand. 

A faded, hollow-eyed, middle-aged woman met him at 
the door, with a face so somber that in his instant thought 
and ever after, John dubbed her the Gloom Woman. 

" My name is Hampstead," he explained. " I called to 
see the sick lady." 

" My mother ! " answered the woman, in tones as 



HIS NEXT ADVENTURE 203 

somber as her countenance. " She has been asking for 
you for an hour. She is very low to-day. The doctor is 
with her and he is apprehensive." 

Through air that was close with a sickish, sweetish 
smell, accounted for by large vases of flowers and by a 
small Chinese censer with incense burning in it, past fur- 
nishings, that were meager, stuffy, and old-fashioned, 
John was conducted to a large square room with the blinds 
drawn low. In the center of this room was a huge black 
walnut bedstead, with the head rising pompously high. 
By the far side of the bed sat a professional looking man 
in the fifties, with his chin buried in his hand and his eyes 
meditatively fixed upon a very old and dreary face amid 
the banked-up pillows, a face of purplish hue that 
seemed without expression except for a lipless, sunken 
mouth, and eyes that glowed dully under sagging heavy 
lids. 

" Mother! " said the woman, speaking loudly, as if to 
waken a soul from the depths, " this is Brother Hamp- 
stead!" 

The aged eyes roamed the shadows anxiously for a mo- 
ment, while a withered purple hand felt its way about 
upon the coverlet till John touched it timidly with his. 
Instantly and convulsively the old fingers gripped the 
young, with a pressure that to the caller was damp and 
deathly. 

The woman appeared to John almost lifeless. He felt 
embarrassment and resentment. Why didn't they tell 
him she was like this? 

The hand was tugging at him, too, like a sort of under- 
tow, pulling him down and over. The watery old eyes 
were fixed upon him. John's embarrassment increased. 
What did the poor creature want ? To kiss him ? What 
does a minister do in such a case, he wondered, sweat 
breaking out on his brow. 



204 HELD TO ANSWER 

" I think she wants to say something; bend low so you 
can hear her," suggested the mournful voice of the Gloom 
Woman. John bent over till he felt the patient's hectic 
breath upon his cheek, and shrank from it. 

"The minister of God!" croaked the voice so faintly 
that the words barely traveled the necessary six inches to 
his ear. 

No man ever felt less like the minister of God. Hamp- 
stead was hot, flustered, self-conscious, almost irritated. 

But again he felt the hand like an undertow, tugging 
him down. 

" Read to me ! " croaked the ghost of a voice. 

This was something to do. A curtain was raised 
slightly so that the visitor could see, and he read the 
twenty-third Psalm and the twenty- fourth. 

As Hampstead read, his embarrassment departed. He 
began to find a joy in what he was doing. He let his rich 
voice play upon the lines sympathetically and had a sus- 
picion that he could feel the strength of the sick woman 
reviving as he read. 

" She likes to have the minister pray with her," said 
the voice of the Gloom Woman from the background, 
when the reading was concluded. 

Again John stood gazing helplessly, till the old hand 
dragged him down, and sinking upon his knees beside the 
bed, he found that words came to him, and he lost himself 
in them. His sympathy, his faith, his own sore heart and 
its needs, all poured themselves into that prayer. 

Once or twice as words flowed on, Hampstead felt the 
old hand tugging, as though the undertow were pulling at 
it, and then he noticed after a time that he did not feel 
these tuggings any more; but when the prayer was fin- 
ished and he rose from his knees, the grip of the hand did 
not release itself. Instead, the fingers hung on, rather 
like hooks, so that John darted a look of inquiry at the 



HIS NEXT ADVENTURE 205 

purplish face upon the pillows. To his surprise, the chin 
had dropped and the eyes had closed sleepily. 

The doctor, who had been sitting with his hand upon 
the pulse, gently placed the wrist which he had held across 
the aged breast and stood erect, with an expression of de- 
cision which no one could misread. 

" Oh ! " sobbed a voice from the gloom. 

Hampstead felt a sudden sense of shock, and his knees 
swayed under him sickeningly. That was death there 
upon the pillow ; and that was death with its bony hooks 
about his palm. Sister Showalter had gone out with the 
undertow that pulled at her while he was praying. 

John lifted his hand helplessly. 

" It it doesn't let go," he whispered. 

The doctor glanced at the embarrassed Hampstead 
searchingly, then reached over and straightened the aged 
fingers. 

" Young man," said the physician earnestly and even 
reverently. " She clung to you as she went down into the 
waters. For a time I felt your young strength actually 
holding her back, and then your words seemed to make 
her strong enough to push off boldly of her own accord. 
It is a great thing, my friend," and the doctor seemed 
deeply affected, " to have strength enough and sympathy 
and faith enough to rob death of its terror for a feeble 
soul like that a very great thing ! " 

The earnestness of the doctor brought a lump into 
John's throat. 

" Thank you, sir," he murmured, but immediately was 
lost in looking curiously at the thing upon the pillows. 

" You have another duty," said the physician, nodding 
toward the shadows at the back, where a single heart- 
broken wail had been followed by a convulsive sobbing. 

John went and stood beside the Gloom Woman. 
" Mother is go h-h-gone ! " she sobbed. 



206 HELD TO ANSWER 

" Yes," said Hampstead simply. 

And somehow he didn't feel embarrassed at all now by 
the presence of death. He did not hesitate as to what to 
do. He just put out his hand and laid it in a brotherly 
way on the woman's shoulder, noticing as he did so that 
it was a frail, bony shoulder, and that it trembled as much 
from weakness as with emotion. 

" Let the tears flow, sister," he suggested, " it is good 
for you." 

And the tears did flow, like rivers, and all the while 
John's speech was flowing in much the same way, and 
with tears in it, until presently the woman looked up at 
him, surprised both at the manner and the matter of his 
speech. Was it he who had spoken, this man who said 
he was only a book agent ? 

John too was surprised at his words, at their tone, at 
the superior faith and wisdom which they expressed. He 
really did not know he was going to say them. When 
spoken, it did not seem as if it could have been he that 
had uttered them, and he had again that awesome sense of 
a power within him not himself. 

" You are a minister of God ! " declared the Gloom 
Woman with sudden conviction. 

Hampstead trembled. This was what the dead had 
whispered to him. It frightened him then, it frightened 
him now. He was not a minister of God. He was a 
man misplaced. He wanted to get out and fly. Yet be- 
fore he could check her, the Gloom Woman had raised his 
hand and kissed it. 

This made him want to fly more than ever ; but he man- 
aged first to ask : " Is there anything more that I can 
do?" 

There was, it seemed, and he did it ; and then, getting 
into the outside as expeditiously as possible, he filled his 
lungs with long, refreshing drafts of the sun-filtered ozone 



HIS NEXT ADVENTURE 207 

and found his footsteps leading him, as if by a kind of in- 
stinct of their own, down one of the short side streets to 
where the waters of the Bay lapped soothingly against the 
sea-wall. 

But the Bay zephyrs could not wash that series of vivid 
experiences, half-ghastly and half-inspiring, out of mind. 

He had blundered, all unprepared, into the presence 
of death. His sense of the fitness of things revolted. 
He was unworthy unable unclean. He a book 
agent! a rate clerk! an actor! who had held Marien 
Dounay in his arms and felt his body thrill at the beat- 
ing of her heart ! 

Yet this old woman had called him a minister of God! 
This Gloom Woman too had called him the same. Min- 
ister! Minister! What was it? Minister meant to 
serve. A servant of God ! But he had not served God ! 
At least not consciously. He had only served humanity 
a little. He had served the old woman as a prop to her 
fears, like an anchor to her soul when she drifted out into 
the deeper running tide that ebbs but never floods. He 
had served the Gloom Woman when he stood beside her 
while she opened the tear-gates of her grief. 

It was very little ! Yet that much he had really served. 
To reflect upon it now gave him a sense of elation greater 
than when he had beaten Scofield and his tariff depart- 
ment; greater than when he had quelled the mob at the 
People's; greater than when he had crushed Marien in 
his arms like a flower ; greater even than when Bessie had 
looked her love into his eyes. 

He began to perceive that his life was surely mounting 
from one plane to another and reflected that he had 
reached the highest plane of all to-day when the Angel of 
the Chair had pinned upon his coat the badge of Holy 
Orders ; when this other saint, sinking into the dark tide, 
had hailed him a minister of God ! Highest of all, when 



208 HELD TO ANSWER 

this Gloom Woman, out of her soul's Gethsemane, had 
wrung his hand and kissed it so purely and also hailed him 
as Minister of God! 

For some weeks the little chapel in Encina, its troubles 
and its troubled members, continued to exercise a strange 
fascination over John. Each Sunday he shepherded the 
Sunday school and talked a blundering quarter of an hour 
to the older folk who gathered; while between Sundays 
he devoted an astonishing portion of his time to visiting 
these wrangling Christians in their homes, for the am- 
bition to heal this disgraceful quarrel had taken hold on 
him like some knightly passion. 

And in the midst of all these busy comings and goings, 
odd, half-humorous reflections upon his own status used 
to break in upon John's mind. Not a self-respecting 
church in the communion, he knew, but would have eyed 
him askance because he had been an actor. Only this lit- 
tle helpless church, whose condition was so miserable it 
could not reject any real help, accepted him; and that 
merely in a relation that was entirely unofficial and unde- 
fined. Still a sense of his fitness for this particular task 
grew upon him continually ; and it was really astonishing 
how every experience through which he had passed had 
equipped him for his peacemaker task: most of all those 
pangs endured because of his break with Bessie, which, 
although eating into his heart like an acid, yielded a kind 
of ascetic joy in the pain as if some sort of character 
bleaching and expiation were at work within him. 

In the meantime, an arbitration committee consisting of 
the District Evangelist, Brother Harding, and Professor 
Hamilton, the Dean of the Seminary, was at work upon 
the affairs of the little church. Both wings consented to 
this, but with misgivings, since the one man they were 
really coming to trust was Hampstead himself ; and when 



HIS NEXT ADVENTURE 209 

the night for the report of the arbitration committee ar- 
rived, each faction turned out in full strength, with sus- 
picions freshly roused, and all a-buzz with angry con- 
versation as if the church were a nest of wasps. 

" Things are pretty hot," remarked the Dean under 
his breath, coming up to read the report. 

" They are awful," groaned the District Evangelist. 

John presided, standing carefully on his neutral patch 
in the carpet, and was dismayed and sickened by this new 
and terrible display of feeling. He had come to know a 
very great deal about these people in the last few weeks ; 
he had seen how some of these men struggled to make a 
living; how some of these women bore awful crosses in 
their hearts; how sickness was in some houses, cold de- 
spair in others; how much each needed the strength, the 
joy, the consolation of religion, and how large a mission 
there was for this church and for its minister. 

But the Dean was reading his report now, in a high, 
lecture-room voice. It was very brief. 

" As for the matters at issue," it confessed, " your com- 
mittee finds it humanly impossible to place the responsi- 
bility for this regretful division. It believes the only fu- 
ture for the congregation is in a wise, constructive, for- 
ward-moving leadership which can forget the past en- 
tirely. 

" It finds that such a leadership now exists in one thor- 
oughly familiar with the difficulties of the situation and 
enjoying the confidence of both factions; and it recom- 
mends that this congregation make sure the future by call- 
ing to its pastorate the one man whom the committee be- 
lieves supremely fitted for the task, our wise and faithful 
brother, John Hampstead." 

The congregation had not thought of Hampstead as a 
minister. He had not permitted them to do so. To them 
this recommendation was a surprise. 



212 HELD TO ANSWER 

gained your confidence. Because of his humility and his 
sincerity, I feel that I can trust him. You feel that you 
can." 

" But," protested John, with a gesture of desperation, 
" I am not educated for the ministry." 

" You have something more needed here than educa- 
tion," interjected the Dean of the Seminary, still in his 
lecture-room voice. " Besides, the seminary is but ten 
miles away, by street car. You may complete the full 
three years' course at the same time you are making this 
little church into a big one ! " 

Something in John's breast leaped at the prospect of a 
college course, and the idea of making a little church into 
a big one appealed to his inborn passion for definite 
achievement; yet with it all came once more the feeling 
that he was being hopelessly and helplessly entangled. 

" But," he struggled, looking with moist, appealing 
eyes, first at Hamilton and then at Harding, " I have not 
been ordained, and I have no call ! " 

" No call ? " queried Dean Hamilton, laughing nerv- 
ously, as was his way of modifying the intensity of the 
situation. " Your capacity to do is your call." 

" Being honest with yourself, do you not believe that 
you can save this church ? " argued Brother Harding. 

John felt that he could, but his soul still strained within 
him, and his eyes roved over the audience, the corners of 
the room and the very beams in the ceiling, as if seeking a 
way of escape. 

Suddenly a man stood up in the back of the church. 

" Will he take a side? " this man demanded excitedly, 
with hoarse impatience. " What side is he on ? " 

The very crassness of this partisan creature, so seething 
with personal feeling that he understood nothing of the 
young man's agony of soul, lashed the tender sensibilities 
of Hampstead like a scourge, so that all his nature rose in 



HIS NEXT ADVENTURE 213 

protest. From a figure of cowering doubt, he suddenly 
stood forth bold and challenging. 

" No ! " he thundered. " I will not take a side ! The 
curse of God is upon sides, and every man and every 
woman who takes a side in His church ! I will take the 
Lord's side. I challenge every one of you who is willing 
to leave his or her petty personal feeling in this contro- 
versy, for to-night and forever, to come out here and stand 
beside me. I place my life career upon the issue. I will 
let your coming be my call. If you call me, I will answer. 
If you do not, God has set me free from any responsi- 
bility to you." 

The questioning partisan sank down abashed before 
such prophetic fervor. John stood waiting. No eye 
looked at any other eye but his. The silence was electric 
and pregnant, but brief, broken almost immediately by a 
low, rumbling sound and the rattle of wheels against 
chairs. The Angel of the Chair, propelling her vehicle 
herself, was coming to take her place beside John. 

She had barely reached the front when the tall form of 
Elder Burbeck was seen to advance stiffly and offer his 
hand to Hampstead. 

The venerable Elder Lukenbill, goat-whiskered and 
doddering, leader of the Aleshire faction, hesitated only 
long enough to gloat a little at this spectacle of his rival, 
Burbeck, eating humble pie, and then, prodded from be- 
hind, arose and careened on weak knees down the aisle. 

Others began to follow, till presently it seemed that the 
whole church was moving ; everybody stood up, everybody 
slipped forward, or tried to. Failing that, they spoke, or 
laughed, or sobbed, or shook hands with themselves or 
some one near; then craned on tiptoe to see what was 
happening down where half the church was massed about 
the two elders, about the Dean and the Evangelist and 
John. 



210 HELD TO ANSWER 

But to John it was a shock ! His face turned a faded 
yellow. His eyes wandered in a hunted way from the 
face of the Dean to that of the Evangelist, and then 
slowly they swept the congregation to meet everywhere 
looks of approval at the Dean's words. 

" But," he protested breathlessly, like a man fighting 
for air, " I am not a minister. I am a book agent. I 
have been an actor. I am unfit to stand before the table 
of the Lord, to hold the hand of the dying, to speak con- 
solation to the living beside the open grave ! I am unfit 
unfit for any holy office ! " 

But his desperate protestation sounded unconvincing 
even to himself. He had been doing some of these 
things already and with a measure at least of acceptation. 
All at once it seemed as if there was no resisting, as if a 
trap had been laid for him and for his liberties; and he 
struck out more vehemently : 

" Think what it means, you young men ! I ask you 
especially " and John held out his hands towards them, 

I scattered through the audience " What it means to 
abandon life and the world by donning the uniform of the 
professional clergyman! Wherever you go, in a train, 
in a restaurant, upon a street, you are no longer free, but a 
slave to forms and to conventions. You must live up, 
not to your ideal of what a minister is, but to the popular 
ideal of how a minister should appear. It is a vow to 
hypocrisy ! 

" It is a vow also to loneliness. The minister is cut off 
from the life of other men. No man thereafter feels 
quite at ease in his presence, but puts on something or puts 
off something, and the minister never sees or feels the real 
man except by accident. 

" For a few weeks," and John lowered his voice to a 
more tempered note, " I have been happy to do some serv- 
ice among you ; but I was free ! As I walked down the 



HIS NEXT ADVENTURE 211 

street I wore the uniform of business. No man could 
say : ' There goes a priest ; watch him ! ' 

" Listen ! " In the silence John himself appeared to be 
listening to some debate that went on within himself, and 
when he began to speak once more it was with the chas- 
tened utterance of one who takes his hearers into a sacred 
confidence. 

" I have had ambitions, brethren, and I have given them 
up. I have had a great love and all but lost it. Failures 
have humbled me. Disappointment and surrenders have 
taught me some of the true values of life. I have tried to 
gain things for myself and lost them. When I think of 
seeking anything for myself again, after my experiences, 
I feel very weak and can command no resolution; but 
when I think of seeking happiness for others, for little 
children in particular, for wives and mothers, for all 
women, in fact, with their capacity to love and trust ; for 
striving, up-climbing men yes, and the weak ones too, 
for I have learned that the flesh is very weak when I 
think of seeking the good of humanity at large, I feel im- 
mensely strong and immensely determined. For that I 
am ready to bury my life in the soil of sacrifice, but not 
professionally ! 

" I hate sham. I hate professionalism. I am done 
with part-playing. I will not do it. I cannot be your 
minister! " 

John's last words rang out sharply, and the audience, 
seeing that the heart of a man with an experience had been 
shown to them, sat breathless and still expectant. 

In the silence, the voice of the District Evangelist was 
presently audible. 

" Brother Hampstead," he was saying quietly, " is a 
man I don't exactly understand, but I think in his very 
words of protest he has given us the reasons why he 
should be a minister, and he has revealed to us why he has 



214 HELD TO ANSWER 

Abruptly the tall forms of these men sank from view; 
then the front ranks of people, crowding around, also be- 
gan to sink, almost as ripe grain bows before a breeze, un- 
til even the people at the back could see that Brother 
Hampstead was kneeling, with the yellow crest of his hair 
falling in abandon about his face. 

The long, skeleton hand of Elder Lukenbill was 
sprawled over John's bowed head, overlapped aggres- 
sively by the stout, red fingers of Elder Burbeck, while the 
dapper digits of the Dean of the Seminary capped and 
clasped the two hands and tangled nervously in the tawny 
locks themselves. 

" With this laying on of hands," the Dean was saying, 
still in that high lecture-room cackle, although his tone 
was deeply impressive, " I ordain thee to the ministry of 
Jesus Christ ! " 

When, succeeding this, the voice of the District Evan- 
gelist had been heard in prayer, there followed an impres- 
sive waiting silence, in which no one seemed to know 
quite what to do, except to gaze fixedly at the face of John 
Hampstead, which continued as bloodless and as motion- 
less as chiseled marble ; until, bowed in her chair, as if she 
brooded like a real angel over the kneeling congregation, 
the rich contralto voice of Mrs. Burbeck began to sing: 

" Take my life and let it be 
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee, 
Take my hands and let them move 
At the impulse of Thy love." 

Presently her voice changed to " Nearer My God to 
Thee ", while other voices joined until the whole church 
was filled with the sound, and when the last note had died, 
the very air of the little chapel seemed tear-washed and 
clear. 

In this atmosphere John Hampstead arose, and when 



HIS NEXT ADVENTURE 215 

one hand swept back the yellow mass of hair, a kind of 
glory appeared upon his brow. Once an actor, once a 
man of ambition, he was now consecrated to the service of 
humanity. 

But he had not surrendered his love for Bessie Mitchell, 
and Marien Dounay was still in the world, mounting 
higher and higher toward the goal she had imperiously 
set for herself. 



CHAPTER XX 

A WOMAN WITH A WANT 

FIVE years walked along, and great events took place. 
The earthquake seized the San Francisco Bay district and 
shook it as a dog shakes a rat. Fire swept the great city 
on the peninsula almost out of existence; it made rich 
men poor, and hard hearts soft for a few days at least 
and by shifting populations and business centers, af- 
fected the east side of the Bay almost as much as the west, 
so that in all that water-circling population there was no 
business and no society, no man or woman or child even, 
that was thereafter quite as it or he or she had been. 

In this seething ferment of change nothing altered more 
than the circumstances of John Hampstead. He had 
buried himself and found himself. He had sought relief 
in a self-abandoning plunge into obscurity, yet never had 
a minister so humble gained such burning prominence. 
The town hung on him. Men who never went to church 
at all leaned upon him and upon the things they read about 
him from day to day. 

He had gone upon a thousand missions of mercy; he 
had fought for his lambs like a lion; he had faced 
calumny; he had dared personal assault. He had tri- 
umphed in all his conflicts and stood out before this 
sprawling, half metropolitan, half-suburban community of 
half a million people as a man whom it trusted too 
much almost. 

Under his ministry in these five years, the wretched lit- 
tle chapel had grown into the great All People's Church. 



A WOMAN WITH A WANT 217 

To attend All People's was a fad; to belong to it almost 
a fashion. The newspapers daily made its pastor into a 
hero, and the moral element in the population looked upon 
him as its most fearless champion and aggressive leader. 

But into this situation and into All People's one morn- 
ing a woman came walking, with power to shake it more 
violently than an earthquake could have done. 

The choir was just disposing of the anthem. The 
Reverend John Hampstead sat, but not at ease, in his high 
pulpit chair, which, somehow, this morning reminded him 
of the throne chair of Denmark upon its stage in that barn 
of a theater which at this very instant was only five years 
and five miles distant; the chair from which he 
used to arise suddenly to receive the rapier thrust of his 
nephew, Hamlet. This morning a vague uneasiness filled 
him, as if he were about to receive a real rapier thrust. 

The minister's sermon outline was in his hand, but his 
eye roamed the congregation. It took note of who was 
there and who was absent; it took note of who came in; 
but suddenly the eye ceased to rove and started forward in 
its socket. 

Deacon Morris was escorting a lady down the right- 
center aisle. To distinction of dress and bearing the 
newcomer added a striking type of beauty. Her figure 
was tall, combining rounded curves and willowy grace. 
In the regularity of its smooth chiseling, her profile was 
purely Greek. The eyes were dark and lustrous, the 
cheeks had a soft bloom upon them, the lips were ripely 
red ; and if art had helped to achieve these contrasts with a 
skin that was satiny smooth and of ivory creaminess, it 
was an art contributory and not an art subversive. 

"More beautiful than ever!" murmured the minister 
with the emphasis of deep conviction. 

The lady accepted a sitting well to the front. Her head 
was reverently bowed for an interval and then raised, 



2i8 HELD TO ANSWER 

while the black eyes darted one illuminative glance of 
recognition at the man in the pulpit, a glance that made 
the minister start again and confess to himself an error 
by admitting beneath his breath : " No, not more beau- 
tiful more powerful ! " 

Lengthened scrutiny confirmed this judgment. Soft 
contours had yielded, though ever so slightly, to lines of 
strength. There was greater majesty in her bearing. 
She was less appealing, but more commanding. John re- 
flected that it was rather impossible it should be other- 
wise. The man or the woman who fights and conquers 
always sacrifices lines of beauty to those muscle clamps of 
strength which seem to sleep but ill-concealed upon the 
face. 

And Marien Dounay had conquered ! In five years she 
had mounted to the top. With the memory of her latest 
Broadway triumphs still ringing, this very day her name 
would be mentioned in every dramatic column in every 
Sunday paper in America. To have uttered that name 
aloud in this congregation would have caused every neck 
to crane. 

Alone conscious of her presence, John found himself 
counting the cost of her success. Part of that cost he 
could see tabulated on her face. Another part of it was 
the grisly and horrible intimation to the loathsome Litschi, 
which he had overheard on the unforgetable night in the 
restaurant. He found himself assuming that she had 
paid this latter price and experienced a feeling of revulsion 
at recalling how once this woman's mere presence, the 
glance of an eye, the touch of a hand, the purring tones of 
her voice, had been sufficient to melt him with unutterable 
emotions. This morning, gazing at her through that pe- 
culiar mist of apprehension, almost of fear, that had been 
clouding his mind since before her entry, John knew that 
she was a more dangerous woman now than then ; and yet 



A WOMAN WITH A WANT 219 

the same glance showed that she was not dangerous to 
him, for the dark eyes looked at him hungrily, with some- 
thing strangely like adoration in them, and there was an 
expression of longing upon the beautiful face. 

When he stood up to preach, she followed his every 
movement and appeared to drink down his utterance 
thirstily. Skilled now in spiritual diagnosis, the minister 
of All People's read her swiftly. She had gained but 
she had not gained all. Something was still desired, and, 
he could not help but believe, desired of him. Having 
coldly driven him from her with a terrible kind of vio- 
lence, she had come back humbly, almost beseechingly. 

So marked was this suggestion of intense longing that 
the feeling of horror and revulsion which had come to 
Hampstead with the entry of the actress gave way en- 
tirely to an emotion of pity and a desire to help, and he 
tried earnestly to make his sermon in some degree a mes- 
sage to the woman's heart. 

The position of the Reverend John Hampstead in All 
People's Church and in the community round about was 
due to no miracle, but had grown naturally enough out of 
the strong heart of the man and his experiences. 

When, for instance, in the early days at the chapel, 
John missed the Pedersen children from the Sunday 
school, and found their mother in tears at home because 
the children had no shoes, and that they had no shoes be- 
cause Olaf gambled away his weekly wage in " Beaney " 
Webster's pool room where race-track bets were made, and 
poker and other gambling games were played, all in de- 
fiance of law, and when he found the police supine and 
prosecutors indifferent, the practical minded young di- 
vine sent Deacon Mullin who, to his frequent discom- 
fiture resembled a " tin can " sport more than a church 
official into Beaney's to bet upon a horse. When the 



220 HELD TO ANSWER 

Deacon's horse won, and Beaney all unsuspecting paid the 
winnings over in a sealed envelope, the next Sunday night 
John took the envelope into the pulpit and shook it till it 
jingled as he told the story which next morning the news- 
papers printed widely, while the minister himself was 
swearing out a warrant for the arrest of Beaney. 

That was the beginning, but to John's surprise it was 
not the end. Beaney did not plead guilty meekly. He 
fought and desperately, for this meddlesome amateur 
clergyman had lifted the cover on a sneaking underground 
system of petty gambling, of illicit liquor selling, and of 
graver violations of the moral laws, which ramified 
widely. Attacked in one part, all its members rallied to a 
defence of the whole that was impudent, determined and 
astonishingly powerful. 

Hampstead was unknown, his church small and 
wretched and despised. His sole weapon was the news- 
papers who would not endorse him, but who would print 
what he said and what he did. What he said was not so 
much, but what John Hampstead did was presently con- 
siderable, for a few public-spirited citizens put money in 
his hand for detectives and special prosecutors, and he 
spent more hours that year in police courts than he did in 
his church. 

In the end he won. The lawless element, sore and 
chastened, acknowledged their defeat, while the forces of 
good and evil alike recognized thus early the entry into 
the community of a man whose character and personality 
were henceforth to be reckoned with. 

But while these battlings earned John publicity and high 
regard, they also won him hate and trouble. The work 
cost him tremendous expenditure of energy and sleepless 
nights. It made enemies of men whose friendship he de- 
sired. It brought him threats innumerable. A stick of 
dynamite was found beneath his study window. Yet 



A WOMAN WITH A WANT 221 

John's devotion made him careless of personal danger. 
He trembled for Rose and Dick and Tayna ; he trembled 
for the man who had crept through the shadow of the 
palms to plant that stick and time that fuse, which merci- 
fully went out ; but somehow he did not tremble for him- 
self. 

Besides, out of the shadow of danger, there seemed to 
reach sometimes the flexing muscles of an omnipotent 
arm. As, for instance, when an arrested gambler, out 
upon bail, came into his study one night with intent to kill. 
At first the minister was talking on the telephone, and 
some chivalric instinct restrained the would-be assassin 
from shooting his nemesis in the back. 

Next John laughed at the preposterous idea of being 
killed, failing to understand that the threat was earnest 
or to perceive how much his caller was fired by liquor. 
Such merriment was unseemly to the man on murder bent ; 
he found himself unable to shoot a bullet into the open 
mouth of laughter, and fumbled helplessly with his hand 
behind him and his tongue shamefacedly tied until the 
minister directed his mind aside with a question about his 
baby, following quickly with sympathetic talk about the 
man's wife and mother, until the spirit of vengeance went 
out of him, and he broke down and cried and went away 
meekly with a parting handshake from his intended vic- 
tim. 

It was only after the man had gone that John felt 
strangely weak with fright and bewildered by an odd sense 
of deliverance. 

Yet all these battles were only a part of John's activi- 
ties ; nor did they grow out of a fighting spirit, but out of 
a sympathetic nature, out of his passion for the hurt and 
helpless, and his brave pity for the defenceless. 

His impulsive boldness, his ready tact, and his disposi- 
tion to follow an obligation or an opportunity through to 



222 HELD TO ANSWER 

the end, no matter where it led, had made him father con- 
fessor to men and women of every sort and the unofficial 
priest of a parish that extended widely on the surface and 
in the underworld of the life about him. 

Naturally, All People's was extremely proud of its 
pastor, of his broad sympathies and his devoted activities. 
Impressionable ladies felt that there was something ro- 
mantic in seeing him stand yonder in the pulpit, so grave 
and priestly ; in seeing him come down at the end of the 
service, so approachable to all; and in taking his hand, 
not knowing whether some archcriminal had not wrung it 
an hour before he entered the pulpit, or whether last night 
those firm fingers might not have smoothed back the hair 
from the brow of some dying nameless woman in a place 
about which nice people could scarcely permit themselves 
to think. 

There was even excitement in attending the church, be- 
cause one never knew who would be sitting next, some 
famous personage or some notorious one, for Doctor 
Hampstead won his friends and admirers from the 
strangest sources imaginable. 

As to pulpit eloquence, there was admittedly seldom a 
flash of it at All People's. By an enormous digestive 
feat, John had assimilated that seminary course of which 
the Dean had spoken, boasting that he read his Greek 
Testament entirely through in the three years, upon the 
street cars that plied between his home and the seat of 
theological learning. But this did not make of Hamp- 
stead a strong preacher, although the impression that he 
might be, if he chose, was unescapable. His passion, he 
declared, was not to preach the gospel but to do the gospel. 
People sat before him spellbound, not by his eloquence, 
but by a sense of mysterious spiritual forces at work about 
them. At times, the mere exhalations of the man's sunny 
personality seemed sufficient to account for all his in- 



A WOMAN WITH A WANT 223 

fluence; at others there was that mysterious feeling of the 
Presence. 

But as the membership grew and the sphere of its 
pastor's influence extended, there began to be less and 
less of his personality left for expenditure upon that 
" backbone of the church " which had been there longest 
and felt it first. 

More than once Elder Burbeck took occasion to voice a 
protest over this. John put these protests aside mildly 
until one day, when the minister's nerves had been more 
than usually frazzled by a series of petty annoyances, 
the Elder blunderingly declared that the church paid the 
minister his salary and was entitled to have his services. 

" Is that the way you look at it? " asked John sharply. 
" That you pay me my salary ? Then don't ever put an- 
other coin in the contribution box. I thought you gave 
the money to God, and God gave it to me. I do not ac- 
knowledge to you or to any member of this church one 
single obligation except to be true in your or their soul's 
relation. I owe you neither obedience nor coddling nor 
back-smoothing." 

" But you don't realize," urged the Elder. " These 
things were well enough when our church was small. 
But now it is big. It occupies a dignified position in the 
community, and all this riff-raff that you are running 
after" 

"Riff-raff!" John exploded. "Jesus gathered his 
disciples from the riff-raff! His message was to the riff- 
raff ! He said : ' Leave the avenues and boulevards and 
go unto the riff-raff ! ' What is any church but riff- 
raff redeemed? What is any sanctimonious, self-satis- 
fied Pharisee but a soul on the way to make riff-raff of 
himself again? What gave this church its dignified po- 
sition in the community? Did you, when you nailed the 
plank across the door?" 



224 HELD TO ANSWER 

Elder Burbeck flushed redder than ever and turned 
stiffly on his heel, not only inflamed by the crushing sar- 
casm of this rebuke, but stolidly accepting it as one more 
evidence that in his heart this minister of All People's 
was much more human and much less godlike than many 
gaping people seemed to think. Both the resentment and 
the inference the Elder stored up carefully against a 
day which he felt that he could see advancing, while the 
minister, too intent upon his work to scan the horizon 
for a cloud, hurried away upon another of his errands to 
the riff-raff. 

With this fanatic ardor of personal service now highly 
developed, it was inevitable that the appeal in the eyes of 
Marien Dounay should act like a challenge upon the chiv- 
alrous nature of John Hampstead. 



CHAPTER XXI 

A CRY OF DISTRESS 

AT the close of the service, Doctor Hampstead moved 
freely and affectionately among his people, according to 
his habit. To the Angel of the Chair, who during all 
these five years had been his spiritual intimate and prac- 
tical counselor, until in his regard she stood frankly can- 
onized, went the last hearty handclasp, after which the 
minister hurried to where the actress still waited in her 
pew. Save for a dapple-whiskered janitor tactfully busy 
in the far-off loft of the choir, the two were alone in the 
large auditorium. 

" Miss Dounay," John began in sincere tones, extend- 
ing his hand cordially, " I congratulate you heartily on 
the splendid success that you have won." 

He felt a sense of real triumph in his heart, that after 
what had passed between them he was able to greet her 
like this in all sincerity, although she had helped greatly 
by receiving him with that odd look of worshipfulness 
which he had discerned from the distance of the pulpit. 

" Thank you, but please do not congratulate me," the 
actress exclaimed quickly, while a look of pain came un- 
disguised into her eyes, and with a mere shrug of those 
expressive shoulders she hurled aside all pretense at formal 
amenities. " Oh, Doctor Hampstead," she began, breath- 
ing his name in tones of respect that deepened into rev- 
erence, and frankly confessing herself a woman in acute 
distress by adding impulsively : 

" I have gained everything we once talked about, and 



226 HELD TO ANSWER 

yet I believe I am the unhappiest woman in the world." 

There was almost a sob in her voice as she uttered the 
words, and the minister looked at her intently, with his 
face more gravely sympathetic than usual. 

" I am trying to revive something," she hurried on, as 
if there was relief in thus hastily declaring herself, " try- 
ing to get back something. You alone can help me. 
My happiness, my very life, it seems to me, depends upon 
you. Will you come to see me this afternoon at the 
Hotel St. Albans, say at four? " 

" I should like to," responded the minister frankly, his 
desire to help her growing rapidly ; " but I have a funeral 
this afternoon." 

" Then to-night," the actress urged, " after your ser- 
mon is done ? " 

As if anxious to forestall refusal, she gave him no 
chance to reply, but continued with some display of her 
old vivacity of spirit : " We will have a supper, as we 
did that night you came in after the play. Julie is still 
with me, and another maid, and a secretary, and some- 
times my * personal representative.' Oh, I have quite a 
retinue now ! Do say you will come, even though it is an 
unseemly hour for a ministerial call," she pleaded, and 
again her eyes were eloquent. 

But it was not the hour that made John hesitate. He 
felt himself immune from charges of indiscretion. He 
knew that despite his youthful thirty years, he seemed 
ages older than the oldest of his congregation, a man 
removed from every possibility of error; one whose sim- 
ple, open life of day-by-day devotion to the good of all 
who sought him seemed in itself a sufficient armor-proof 
against mischance. 

He came and went, in the upper and in the underworld, 
almost as he would; saw whom he would and where he 
would. Jails, theaters, hotels, questionable side en- 



A CRY OF DISTRESS 227 

trances, boulevards and alleys were accustomed to the 
sight of his comings and goings. If the stalwart figure 
of the man loomed at midnight in a dance hall on the 
Barbary Coast of San Francisco or in the darkest alleys 
of an Oakland water-front saloon, his presence was re- 
marked, but his purpose was never doubted. He was 
there for the good of some one, to save some girl, to haul 
back some mother's boy, to fight side by side with some 
man against his besetting sin, whether it be wine or 
woman, or the gaming table. Therefore he could go to 
call on Marien Dounay at ten o'clock at night at the 
Hotel St. Albans as freely as on a brother minister at 
noon. 

What had made him suddenly withhold his acceptance 
of the invitation was the entry of something of the old 
lightness of spirit into her tones for a moment, accom- 
panied by the suggestion of a supper. He knew enough 
of the whimsical obliquities of Marien Dounay's nature 
to appreciate that he must meet her socially in order to 
minister to her spiritually; but he did not propose that 
the solemn purposes of his call should be made an op- 
portunity for entertainment or personal display. 

However, Marien had instantly divined her mistake. 
"Doctor Hampstead!" she began afresh, and this time 
her voice was low and her utterance rapid. " My season 
closed in New York last Saturday night. I was com- 
pelled to wait over three days to sign the contract for my 
London engagement. The moment that was out of the 
way, I rushed entirely across this country to see you ! I 
arrived this morning. I came here at once. Oh, I must 
talk to you immediately and disabuse your mind of some- 
thing something terrible that I have waited five years to 
wipe out." 

She clasped her hands nervously, and her luminous 
eyes grew misty, while she seemed in danger of losing 



228 HELD TO ANSWER 

her composure entirely, an unheard-of thing for Marien 
Dounay. 

Her imploring looks and the impetuous earnestness of 
her appeal were already leading John to self-reproach 
for the sudden hardening of his judgment upon her; but 
it was the last sentence that decided him. He knew well 
enough what she meant, and something in him deeper 
than the minister leaped at it. If she could wipe out 
that grisly memory, the earliest opportunity was due her, 
and it would relieve him exactly as if a smirch had been 
w r iped from the brow of womanhood itself. Besides, 
there had always been to him something puzzling and 
incomprehensible about that scene in the restaurant, 
which, as the years went by, was more and more like a 
horrible dream than an actual experience. 

" I will come, Miss Dounay," he assured her gravely. 

" Oh, I am so glad! " the woman exclaimed with a lit- 
tle outstretching of her hand, which would have fallen 
upon John's on the back of the pew, if it had not been 
raised at the moment in a gesture of negation as he 
said: 

" But please omit the supper, I am coming at your 
call eagerly happily but not even as an old 
friend ; solely as a minister ! " 

This speech was so subtly modulated as to make its 
meaning clear, without the shadow of offense, and 
Marien's humbly grateful manner of receiving it indi- 
cated tacit acknowledgment of the exact nature of the 
visit. 

Nevertheless, the minister found that in thus specify- 
ing he had written for himself a prescription larger than 
he could fill. Between the whiles of his busy afternoon 
and evening he was conscious of growing feelings of 
curiosity and personal interest that threatened to engulf 
the loftier object of his intended call. Old memories 



A CRY OF DISTRESS 229 

would revive themselves ; old emotions would surge again. 
The spirit of adventure and the spice of expectancy thrust 
themselves into his thought, so that it was with a half- 
guilty feeling that he found himself at the hour appointed 
in the hotel corridor outside her room. He was minded 
to go back, but stood still instead, reproaching himself 
for cowardice. His very uncertainty gave him a feeling 
of littleness. 

Eternal Loyalty was still and forever to be his guiding 
principle; and should he not be as true to this actress 
who had appealed to him, who perhaps was to tell him 
something that would prove she had a right to appeal to 
him, as to any other needy one? Should he shrink be- 
cause of the irresistible feeling that it was more as a 
man interested in a woman than as a priest to confess 
a soul, that he found himself before her door? Should 
all of his experience go for nothing, and was his char- 
acter, strengthened by years and chastened by some bitter 
lessons, still so undependable that he dared not put him- 
self to the test of this woman, even though her mysteri- 
ous power was so great that she could command a man's 
love and deserve his hate, yet send him away from her 
without a hurt and feeling admiration mingled with his 
horror ! 

For a man with John Hampstead's chivalrous nature 
to put a question like this to himself was to answer it in 
the affirmative. Temptation comes to the minister as to 
other men, and it had come to John. But had not Marien 
Dounay herself taught him of what weakness to beware? 
That flesh is flesh? That juxtaposition is danger? Be- 
sides, should not the disastrous consequences which had 
followed from his contacts with the woman have made 
him forever immune from the effect of her presence? 

John approached and knocked upon the door. 

His knock was greeted with a sound like the purr of 



230 HELD TO ANSWER 

an expectant kitten, and the knob was turned by Marien 
herself, with a sudden vigor which indicated that she had 
bounded instantly to admit him. 

Her manner, in most startling contrast to that which 
she had displayed at the church, was sparklingly viva- 
cious; but her dress was more disconcerting than her 
manner ; in fact, to the minister, it seemed that very same 
negligee gown whose pleats of shimmering black with 
their splotches of red, had clung so closely to her form 
in those never-to-be-forgotten hours in the little apart- 
ment on Turk Street in San Francisco. Her hair, too, 
flowed unconfmed as then. The picture called up over- 
whelming memories, against which the minister in the 
man struggled valiantly. 

" I have not worn it since, until to-night," the woman 
purred softly, happy as a child over his glance of recog- 
nition; but when Hampstead, in uncompromising silence, 
stood surveying her critically, she asked archly and a bit 
anxiously, " Are you shocked ? " 

" Well," he replied a trifle severely, " you must admit 
that this is not sackcloth and ashes." 

" It is my soul, not my body, that is in mourning," 
Marien urged apologetically, trying the effect of a melt- 
ing glance, after which, walking half the length of the 
room she turned again and invited him to lay off his 
overcoat and be seated. John could not resist the play- 
ful calculation of her manner without seeming heartless ; 
and yet he did resist it, standing noncommittally while 
his eyes sought the circumference of the room inquiringly. 

" And look ! " went on Marien enthusiastically, for 
she was trying pitifully by sheer force of personality to 
recreate the atmosphere of their old relationship in its 
happiest moments. " See, here is the Roman chair, or 
at least one like it; and there the divan, piled high with 
cushions; I am as fond of cushions as ever. You shall 



A CRY OF DISTRESS 231 

sit where you sat; I shall recline where I reclined. We 
will stage the old scene again." 

" Not the old scene," replied the minister, with quiet 
emphasis, feeling just a little as if he had been trapped. 

Still his strength was always sapped on Sunday night ; 
and no doubt in utter weariness, one's power of resistance 
is somewhat lowered. Besides, Marien was so beautiful 
and so winning in manner; her arms gleamed so softly 
in their circle of silk and filmy lace, and there was in the 
atmosphere of the room an abundance of an indefinable 
something which was like a rare perfume and yet was 
not a perfume at all, but that effect of lure and challenge 
which her mere presence always had upon the senses of 
this man. 

Moreover, it seemed so fitting to see this exquisite 
creature happy instead of sad that it would have taken 
a coarser nature than John Hampstead's to break in bru- 
tally upon her whimsical happiness of mood. He judged 
it therefore the mere part of tact to remove his overcoat. 

" Julie ! " called Marien, and there was a not entirely 
suppressed note of triumph in her tone. 

The little French maid appeared with suspicious 
promptness from behind swinging portieres to receive the 
coat and to give the big man, whom she had always liked, 
shy welcome upon her own account. 

True to her nature, Miss Dounay's every movement 
was theatric. She stood complacently by until the maid 
had done her service and withdrawn. Then pointing to 
the Roman chair, she said to Hampstead : 

" Sit there and wait. I have something to show you, 
something beautiful wonderful overwhelming al- 
most!" 

Hesitating only long enough to see that the minister, 
although a bit suspicious, complied politely with her re- 
quest, Marien, with dramatic directness, and humming 



232 HELD TO ANSWER 

the while a teasing little tune, followed Julie out through 
the portieres, but in passing swung the curtains wide as 
an invitation to her caller's eyes to pursue her to where 
she stopped before a chiffonier which was turned obliquely 
across the corner of the large inner room. 

Marien's shoulder was toward John, but the mirror be- 
yond framed her face exquisitely, with its hood of flowing 
hair and the expansive whiteness of her bosom to the cor- 
sage, while the long dark lashes painted a feathery shadow 
upon her cheeks as her eyes looked downward to some- 
thing before her on the chiffonier. For a moment she 
stood motionless, as if charmed by the sight on which 
their glance rested. Then, using both hands, she lifted 
the object, and instantly the mirror flashed to the watching 
man the picture of a swaying rope of diamonds. They 
seemed to him an aurora-borealis of jewels, sparkling 
more brilliantly than the light of Marien's eyes, as she held 
them before her face for an instant, and then, with a 
graceful movement which magnified the beauty of her 
rounded arms and the smoothly-chiseled column of her 
throat, threw back the close-lying strands of her hair to 
fasten the chain behind her neck. 

For another second the mirror showed her patting her 
bosom complacently, as if her white fingers were loving 
the diamonds into the form of a perfect crescent, which, 
presently attained, she surveyed with evident satisfaction. 
Turning, she advanced toward her guest with hands at 
first uplifted and then clasped before her in an ecstasy of 
delight, while she laughed musically, like a child intoxi- 
cated by the joy of some long anticipated pleasure. 

Upon a man whose love of beauty was as great as John 
Hampstead's, the effect was shrewdly calculated and the 
result all that heaven had intended. 

" Wonderful ! " he exclaimed, leaping up to meet her as 
she advanced. "Splendid! Magnificent!" 



A CRY OF DISTRESS 233 

Each adjective was more emphatically uttered than the 
last. 

Satisfied beyond measure with the effect of her diver- 
sion, the calculating woman drew close with a complete 
return of all her old assurance and stood like a radiant 
statue, a happy flush heightening on her cheeks, while the 
minister, entirely unabashed, feasted his eyes frankly on 
the beauty of the jewels and the snowy softness of their 
setting. When, after a moment, Marien made use of 
his hand as a support on which to pivot gracefully about 
and let herself down with dainty elegance into the midst 
of her throne of cushions, Hampstead stood, a little lost, 
gazing downward at the vision as though spellbound by 
its loveliness. 

For a moment the actress was supremely confident. 
Breathing softly, her dark eyes swimming like pools of 
liquid light, into which her long lashes cast a fringe of 
foliate shadows, she contemplated John Hampstead, tall, 
strong, clean, healthful looking, his yellow hair, his high- 
arched viking brows, the look of kindliness and the cast of 
nobility into which the years had moulded his features, un- 
til it seemed to her that she must spring up and drag him 
down to her lair of cushions like a prize. 

But she made no impulsive move. Instead, she 
breathed softly : " Doctor Hampstead, will you touch 
that button, please?" 

John complied courteously, but mechanically, as if 
charmed. The more brilliant lights in the room were in- 
stantly extinguished. What remained flowed from the 
shrouding red silk of the table lamp so softly that while 
all objects in the room remained clearly distinguishable 
even to their detail, there was not a garish beam any- 
where. 

It was a fitting atmosphere for confession, and even the 
diamonds in this smothered light seemed suddenly to grow 



234 HELD TO ANSWER 

communicative, to multiply their luster, and to break more 
readily into the prismatic elements of color. 

" More and more beautiful," Hampstead murmured, 
passing a hand across his brow. 

" Sit down ! " Marien breathed softly, motioning toward 
the Roman chair. 

Hampstead was surprised to find how near the divan the 
inanimate chair appeared to have removed itself. Had 
he pushed it absently with his leg, as he made place for 
her, or had she, or had the thing itself insensate wood 
and leather and plush felt, too, the irresistible thrall of 
this magnetic, beauty-dowered creature who snuggled 
amid these silken panniers ? 

" I do not know diamonds very well," the minister con- 
fessed, sinking down into the chair. 

" Look at them," Marien said, with a delightful note of 
intimacy in her voice, at the same time lowering her chin 
close, in order to survey the jewels as they lay upon her 
breast. 

In John's eyes, this downcast glance gave Marien an 
expression that was Madonna-like and holy, and this again 
deepened his feeling of pity for her heartaches, and his 
anxiety to help her in what it was her whim to mask from 
him for the moment with all this childish play of interest 
in her jewels and in her own beauty. But it also disposed 
him to humor her the more, removing all sense of re- 
straint when he followed the glance of her eye to where 
the more brilliant stones of the pendant lay in the snowy 
vale of her bosom, or when, leaning closer still, he could 
see that their intermittent flashing facets were responding 
to the pulsing of her heart. 

" And what is the amber stone ? " he asked innocently. 

" Amber ! " Marien laughed. " It is a canary diamond, 
the finest stone of all. It alone cost four thousand dol- 
lars." 



A CRY OF DISTRESS 235 

" Four thousand dollars ! " The minister drew in his 
breath slowly. " It had not occurred to me that there 
were such jewels outside of royal crowns and detective 
stories," he stammered. " Four thousand dollars ! 
What did the whole necklace cost ? " 

" Twenty-two," the actress answered almost boastfully, 
again bending to survey the blazing inverted arch of 
jewels. 

" Thousand? " The minister's inflection expressed his 
incredulousness. 

" Thousand," Marien iterated with a complacent drop 
of the voice, and then, while the fingers of one hand toyed 
with the pendant, went on : "I have a perfect passion 
for diamonds! That canary stone has temperament, life 
almost. Perhaps it is a whim of mine, but it seems to me 
that it reflects my moods. When I am downcast, it is dull 
and lusterless ; when I am happy, it flashes brilliantly, like 
a blazing sun. 

" It is influenced by those whom I am with. It never 
burned so brilliantly as now. Your presence has an ef- 
fect upon it. Cup your fingers and hold it for a moment, 
and see, after an interval, if its luster does not change." 

Astonished at the feeling of easy intimacy which had 
been established between them so completely that he saw 
no reason at all why he should refuse, Hampstead did as 
he was bidden, although to hold the brilliant stone it was 
necessary for the heads of the two to be drawn very close, 
so that the tawny, wavy, loose-lying locks of the minister 
and the dark glistening mass of the woman's hair were all 
but intertwined, while the four eyes converged upon the 
diamond, and the two bodies were breathless and poised 
with watching. 

Presently the man felt his vision swimming. He saw 
no single jewel, but a myriad of lights. He ceased to feel 
the gem in his hollowed fingers, and was conscious instead 



236 HELD TO ANSWER 

of a soft, magnetic glow upon the under side of his hand. 

In the same instant, he became aware that Marien's 
eyes no longer watched the stone, but were bent upon his 
face, and he felt a breath upon his cheek as her lips parted, 
and she murmured softly : 

" John." 

This word and touch together gave instant warning to 
the Reverend Doctor Hampstead of the spell under which 
he was passing, a spell mixed in equal parts from the 
responsiveness of his own nature to all beauty of form, 
animate or inanimate, and from the subtle sympathy which 
the rich, seductive personality of Marien Dounay had 
swiftly conjured. The shock of this discovery was en- 
tirely sufficient to break the potency of the charm. 

" It did seem to change, I thought," the minister said 
casually, at the same time slipping his hand gently from 
beneath the jewel. 

By the slightly altered tone in his speech and the easy 
resumption of his pose in the chair, Marien perceived that 
the minister and his purpose was again uppermost in her 
caller. 

As for John, slightly irritated with himself, and yet 
feeling it still the part of tact to show no irritation with 
Marien, he guided the situation safely past its moment of 
restraint. 

" You said there was something you wished to tell me," 
he reminded her gently ; then added gravely : " That is 
why I came to-night. I was to be your father-confessor." 

The considerateness of Hampstead's tone and manner 
was as impressive as it was compelling. Marien's face 
became instantly sober, and she fidgeted for a time in 
silence as if it were increasingly difficult to broach the sub- 
ject, but finally she labbred out : 

" You misunderstood me horribly once horribly ! " 
With this much communicated, she stopped as abruptly 



A CRY OF DISTRESS 237 

as she had begun, while a frightened look invaded her 
liquid eyes. 

" Misunderstood you," Hampstead iterated gently, but 
with firmness, " I understood you so well that except 
through an impersonal desire to be helpful, I should never 
have come here." 

The very dignity and measured self-restraint of the 
minister's utterance robbed the woman of her usual ad- 
mirable self-mastery. She cowered with timid face amid 
her pillows, as her mind leaped back to that night in the 
restaurant with Litschi, and the terrible lengths to which 
she had gone to shock this same big, dynamic, ardent 
Hampstead from his pursuit of her. 

As if it were compromising himself to sit silent while he 
read her thoughts and heard again in his own ears that 
terrible speech, the minister went on to say sternly : 

" You know that I shrank then, as from a loathsome 
thing, at the price you were willing to pay for your suc- 
cess. I must forewarn you that the memory does not 
seem less abhorrent now than the fact did then." 

When Hampstead bit out these sentences with a fire of 
moral intensity burning in his eyes, the quivering figure 
upon the cushions shuddered and shrank. 

" Oh, John ! " a broken voice pleaded. " Did I ever, 
ever say those hateful w^ords? Can you not conceive that 
they were false? That they were spoken with intent to 
deceive you, to drive you from me, to leave me free to 
make my way alone, unhampered, as I knew I must ? " 

The minister, his face still white and stern, his gray 
eyes beaming straight through widening lids, declared 
hotly : " No ! I cannot conceive that a good woman 
would voluntarily smirch herself like that in the eyes of a 
man who loved her for any other single purpose than the 
one which she confessed, an ambition that was inordinate 
and immoral. That thought was in your speech, and 



238 HELD TO ANSWER 

by Heaven " he shook an accusing finger at her " I 
believe it was in your purpose! " 

The woman cowered for a moment longer before 
Hampstead's gaze, then a single dry sob broke from her, 
while one hand covered her eyes, and the other stretched 
gropingly to him, across the pillows. 

" I had the purpose," she admitted haltingly. " I con- 
fess it. Is it not pitiful? " and the lily hand which had 
felt its way so pleadingly across the embroidered cushions 
opened and closed its fingers on nothing, with a movement 
that was convulsive and appealing beyond words. 

" Pitiful," the minister groaned. " My God, it is 
tragic ! " 

" Yes," she went on presently, in a calmer voice that 
was more resigned and sadly reminiscent : " I purposed 
it." 

And there she stopped. Her tone was as dry as ashes. 
This man had surprised her by revealing a startling 
amount of moral force, which had quickly and easily 
broken down her coolly conceived purpose to make him 
believe that his sense of hearing had played him false that 
night in the restaurant. She had, however, confessed 
only to what she knew he knew ; but the roused conscience 
of the preacher of righteousness detected this and was not 
to be evaded. He proposed to confront this woman with 
her sin. 

"You confess only to the purpose?" John demanded 
accusingly. 

The glance of the woman fell before his blazing eye. 
She had meant to answer boldly, triumphantly; but the 
sudden fear that she might not be believed made her a 
coward, and forced the realization that she must not at- 
tempt to deceive this man in anything. 

" Sometimes one says more than one is able to per- 
form," she whispered weakly. " Sometimes a woman 



A CRY OF DISTRESS 239 

names a price, and does not know what the price means, 
and when the time of settlement comes, will not pay it 
cannot pay it because there is something in her deeper, 
more overruling than her own conscious will, something 
that refuses to be betrayed ! " The last words were torn 
out of her throat with desperate emphasis. 

John sat watching the woman critically, with an all but 
unfriendly eye, while she struggled over this utterance, 
yet the very manner of it compelled him to believe in her 
absolute sincerity at the moment. Her revelation was 
truthful, no doubt, but just what was she revealing? The 
substance was so contrary to his presumption that his com- 
prehension was slow. 

" You mean," he began doubtfully 

Marien took instant courage in his doubt; he was al- 
most convinced. 

" I mean," she exclaimed, leaping up with an expansive 
gesture of her arms, while the jewels, like her eyes, blazed 
with the intensity of her emotion : " I mean that I never 
paid the price!" Her voice broke into a wild crescendo 
of laughter that was half delirious in its mingled triumph 
and joy. Hampstead himself arose involuntarily and 
stood with a look first of amazement, and then almost of 
anger, as he suddenly seized her wrists, holding them close 
in his powerful grasp, while he demanded in tones hoarse 
with a pleading that was in contrast to his manner : 

" Marien, are you telling me the truth? " 

The woman faced his searching gaze doubtfully for an 
instant ; then seeing that the man was actually anxious to 
believe her, she swayed toward him, weakened by relief 
and joy, as she cried impulsively : 

" It is the truth ! It is the truth ! Oh, God knows it is 
the truth ! " 

The fierceness of the minister's grip upon her wrists in- 
stantly relaxed, and he lowered her gently to the cushions, 



240 HELD TO ANSWER 

where she sat overcome by her emotions while he stood 
gazing at her as on one brought back from the dead, ex- 
pressions of wonder and thanksgiving mingled upon his 
face. 

But presently a reminiscent look came into Marien's 
eyes, and she began to speak rapidly, as if eager to confirm 
her vindication by the summary of her experiences. 

" It was hard, very hard," she began. " It commenced 
in that first careless, ignorant year I told you about. I 
was fighting it all the time ; fighting it when you were with 
me. That was really why I broke out of Mowrey's Com- 
pany. Men such beasts of men! proffered their 
help continually, but not upon terms that I could accept. 
It seemed, eventually, that I must surrender. I taught 
myself to think that some day, perhaps when I stood at 
last upon the very threshold " she paused and looked 
over her shoulder at some unseen terror. " But the time 
never came. I burst through the barriers ahead of my 
pursuing fears." 

The actress ceased to speak and sat breathing quickly, 
as if from the effects of an exhausting chase. 

Hampstead turned and walked to the window, where, 
throwing up the sash, he stood filling his lungs deeply with 
delicious, refreshing draughts of the outside air. Coming 
back, he halted before her to say in tones of earnest con- 
viction : 

" Marien " he had called her Marien ! " I feel as if 
the burden of years had been removed. Few things have 
ever lain upon my heart with a more oppressive sense of 
the awful than this vision of you, so beautiful and so pos- 
sessed of genius, consecrating yourself with such noble de- 
votion to a lofty, artistic aim, and yet prepared to 
to " His words faded to a horrified whisper, and find- 
ing himself unable to conclude the sentence, he reached 
down and took her hand in both of his, shaking it eroo- 



A CRY OF DISTRESS 241 

tionally while he was able presently to say reverently and 
with unction : 

" God has preserved you, Marien. You owe Him 
everything." 

" It was you who preserved me," she amended, with 
jealous emphasis and that look again of hungry devotion 
which he had seen first in the church. " It is you to whom 
I owe everything." 

" I preserved you ? " Hampstead asked, now completely 
mystified, as he remembered with what scornful words 
and looks she had whipped him from her presence. " I 
do not understand. We pass from mystery to mystery. 
Is it that which you said you must tell me ? " 

" No. I have told you what I wanted to tell you." 

The woman was again entirely at her ease, shrugging 
her beautiful shoulders and yawning lazily, a carefully- 
staged and cat-like yawn, in which she appeared for an 
instant to show sharp teeth and claws, and then as sud- 
denly to bury them in velvet. 

The minister stood gazing at her doubtfully. 



CHAPTER XXII 

PURSUIT BEGINS 

BOTH recognized that the time had come to close the 
interview, and each was extremely pleased with its re- 
sult. Marien had demonstrated to her complete satis- 
faction that this minister was still a man; that his flesh 
was wax and would therefore melt. She believed that 
to-night she had seen it soften. 

As for John : He believed that this evening had wit- 
nessed a triumph for his tact and his moral force. His 
sympathy was wholly with the woman. Convinced 
afresh that there was something sublime in her char- 
acter, he determined to give her every opportunity to 
reveal herself to him, and to spare no effort upon his 
own account to redeem her life from that ingrowing self- 
ishness which he felt sure was making her unhappy now 
and might ultimately rob her of all joy in its most splen- 
did achievements. 

" I shall save three o'clock to-morrow for you," Miss 
Dounay proposed, as if reading the minister's purpose 
in his eye. 

But John Hampstead was a man of many duties, whose 
time was not easy to command. 

" At three," he objected, " I am to address a mother's 
meeting." 

" At four then," Marien suggested, with an engaging 
smile. 

" At four I have to go with a sad-hearted man to see 
his son in the county jail," John explained apologetically, 
as he scanned his date book. 



PURSUIT BEGINS 243 

" At five ! " persisted Marien, the smile giving way 
before a shadow of impatience. 

John laughed. 

" It must seem funny to you," he declared, " but I 
have an engagement at five-thirty which makes it im- 
possible to be here at five. The engagement itself would 
seem funnier still ; but to me it is not funny only one 
of the tragedies into which my life is continually drawn. 
At that hour I am to visit a poor woman who lives on a 
house boat on the canal. Monday is her husband's pay 
day, and he invariably reaches home on that night in- 
flamed with liquor, and abuses the woman outrageously. 
I have promised to be with her when he comes in. I 
may wait an hour, and I may wait half the night." 

" Oh," gasped Marien, with a note of apprehension. 
** And suppose he turns his violence on you ? " 

" Why, then I shall defend myself," John answered, 
good-humoredly, " but without hurting Olaf . 

" I am likely to spend the night on that canal boat," 
he added, " and in the morning Olaf will be ashamed 
and perhaps penitent. He may thank me and ask me 
to meet him at the factory gate next Monday night and 
walk home with him to make sure that his pay envelope 
gets safely past the door of intervening saloons." 

" But why so much concern about unimportant people 
like that ? " questioned Marien, her eyes big with curi- 
osity and wonder. 

" Any person in need is important to me," confessed 
John modestly. 

" But how can you spare the time from the regular 
work of the church?" 

" That is my regular work." 

Marien paused a moment as if baffled. 

" But but I thought a minister's work was to preach 
i so eloquently that people will not get drunk ; to pray, 



244 HELD TO ANSWER 

so earnestly that God will make men strong enough to 
resist temptation." 

" But suppose," smiled John, " that I am God's an- 
swer to prayer, his means of helping Olaf to resist 
temptation. That is the mission of my church, at least 
that is my ideal for it; not a group of heaven-bound joy- 
riders, but a life-saving crew. There are twenty men 
in my church who would meet Olaf at a word from me 
and walk home with him every night till he felt able to 
get by the swinging doors upon his own will." 

Marien's eyes were shining with a new light. 

" That is practical religion," she declared. 

" Cut out the modifier," amended John. " That is 
religion ! There are," he went on, " even some in my 
congregation who would take my watch upon the canal 
boat; but I prefer to go myself because " 

" Because," Marien broke in suddenly, " because it 
is dangerous." Her glance was full of a new admiration 
for the quiet-speaking man before her, in whose eyes 
burned that light of almost fanatical ardor which she 
and others had marked before. 

" More because it is a delicate responsibility," the 
minister amended once more. " Tact that comes with 
experience is essential, as well as strength." 

"And do you do many things like that?" Marien 
asked, deeply impressed. 

" Each day is like a quilt of crazy patchwork," John 
laughed, and then added earnestly : " You would 
hardly believe the insight I get into lives of every sort 
and at every stage of human experience, divorces, quar- 
rels, feuds, hatreds, crimes, loves, collapses of health or 
character or finance crises of one sort or another, that 
make people lean heavily upon a man who is disinter- 
estedly and sympathetically helpful." 

"And your reward for all this busybodying? " the 



PURSUIT BEGINS 245 

actress finally asked, at the same time forcing a laugh, 
as if trying to make light of what had compelled her to 
profound thought. 

" A sufficient reward," answered John happily, " is 
the grateful regard in which hundreds, and I think I may 
even say thousands, of people throughout the city hold 
me: this, and the ever- widening doors of opportunity 
are my reward. These things could lift poorer clay 
than mine and temper it like steel. The people lean upon 
me. I could never fail them, and they could never fail 
me." 

The exalted confidence of the man, as he uttered these 
last words, which were yet without egotism, suggested 
the tapping of vast reservoirs of spiritual force, and as 
before, this awed Marien a little; but it also aroused a 
petty note in her nature, filling her with a jealousy like 
that she had experienced in the church when she saw 
John surrounded by all those people who seemed to take 
possession of him so absolutely and with such disgusting 
self-assurance. 

Maneuvering her features into something like a pout, 
she asked mockingly : 

" And since you would not leave your mother's meet- 
ing and your jail-bird and your wife-beater for me, is 
there any time at all when an all-seeing Providence 
would send you again to the side of a lonely woman? " 

The minister smiled at the irony, while scanning once 
more the pages of his little date-book. " To look in after 
prayer meeting about nine-thirty on Wednesday night 
would be my next opportunity, I should say," he reported 
presently. 

"Wednesday!" complained Marien. "It is three 
eternities away. However," and her voice grew crisp 
with decision, " Wednesday night it shall be. In the 
meantime, do you speak anywhere? I shall attend the 



246 HELD TO ANSWER 

mother's meeting, if you will tell me where it is. I 
shall even come to prayer meeting; and," she concluded 
vivaciously ; " you will be borne away by me trium- 
phantly in my new French car, which was sent out here 
weeks and weeks ago to be tuned up and ready for my 
coming." 

On Wednesday night Miss Dounay made good her 
word. When the little prayer-meeting audience emerged 
from the chapel room of All People's, it gazed won- 
deringly at a huge black shape on wheels that rested at 
the curb with two giant, fiery eyes staring into the night. 

The old sexton, looking down from the open door- 
way, saw his pastor shut into this luxurious equipage 
with two strange women, for Marien was properly ac- 
companied by Julie, and nodded his head with emphatic 
approval. 

" Some errand of mercy," he mumbled with fervency. 
" Brother Hampstead is the most helpful man in the 
world." 

Nor was this the last appearance of Marien Dounay's 
shining motor-car before the door of All People's. It 
was seen also in front of the palm-surrounded cottage 
on the bay front, where John Hampstead lived with his 
sister, Rose, and the children, and enjoyed, at times, 
some brief seclusion from his busy, pottering life of 
general helpfulness. 

Once the car even stopped before the home of the 
Angel of the Chair, perhaps because Hampstead had told 
Marien casually that of all women Mrs. Burbeck had 
alone been consistently able to understand him, and the 
actress wished to learn her secret. But the Angel of the 
Chair, while quite unabashed by the glamour of the ac- 
tress-presence, nevertheless refused entirely to be drawn 
into talk about Brother Hampstead, who was usually the 
most enthusiastic subject of her conversation. Instead 



PURSUIT BEGINS 247 

she spent most of the time searching the depths of Miss 
Dounay's baffling eyes with a look from her own lumi- 
nous orbs, half -apprehensive and half-appealing, that 
made the caller exceedingly uncomfortable; so that 
Marien would have accounted the visit fruitless and even 
unpleasant, if she had not, while there, chanced to meet 
the young man known to fortune and the social registers 
as Rollo Charles Burbeck. 

Rollo was the darling son of the Angel and the pride 
of the Elder's heart. Tall, blond, handsome, and twenty- 
eight, endowed with his mothers charm of manner and 
a certain mixture of the coarse practicality and instinct 
for leadership which his father possessed, the young man 
had come to look upon himself as a sort of favorite of 
the fickle goddess for whom nothing could be expected 
to fall out otherwise than well. Without money and 
without prestige, in fact, without much real ability, and 
more because as a figure of a youth he was good to look 
upon and possessed of smooth amiability, Rollie, as his 
friends and his doting mother called him, had risen 
through the lower rounds of the Amalgamated National 
to be one of its assistant cashiers and a sort of social 
handy-man to the president, very much in the sense that 
this astute executive had political handy-men and busi- 
ness handy-men in the capacity of directors, vice-presi- 
dents, and even minor official positions in his bank. 

But there were, nevertheless, some grains of sand in 
the bearings of Rollo's spinning chariot wheels. 

In his capacity as an Ambassador to the Courts of 
Society, he had the privilege of leaving the bank quite 
early in the afternoon, when his presence at some day- 
light function might give pleasure to a hostess whose 
wealth or influence made her favor of advantage to the 
Amalgamated National. He might sometimes place 
himself and a motor-car at the disposal of a distinguished 



248 HELD TO ANSWER 

visitor from outside the city, might dine this visitor and 
wine him, might roll him far up the Piedmont Heights, 
and spread before his eye that wonderful picture of com- 
mercial and industrial life below, clasped on all sides by 
the blue breast and the silvery, horn-like arms of the Bay 
of San Francisco. 

All these things, of course, involved expenditures of 
money as well as time. The bills for such expenditures 
Rollo might take to the president of the bank, who wrote 
upon them with his fat hand and a gold pencil, " O. K. 
J. M." after which they were paid and charged to a 
certain account in the bank entitled : " Miscellaneous." 
This, not unnaturally, got Rollie, in the course of a 
couple of years, into luxurious habits. After eating a 
seven-dollar dinner with the financial man of a Chicago 
firm of bond dealers, it was not the easiest thing in the 
world to content himself the next day with the fifty-cent 
luncheon which his own salary permitted. Furthermore, 
Rollo, because of his standing at the bank and his social 
gifts, was drawn into clubs, played at golf, or dawdled 
in launches, yachts, or automobiles with young men of 
idle mind who were able to toss out money like confetti. 
It was inevitable that circumstances should arise under 
which Rollo also had to toss, or look to himself like the 
contemptible thing called " piker." Consequently, he 
frequently tossed more than he could afford, and even- 
tually more than he had. 

To meet this drain upon resources the debonair youth 
did not possess, Rollie resorted to undue fattening of his 
expense accounts, but, yvhen the amounts became too 
large to be safely concealed by this means from the 
scrutiny of J. M., he had dangerous recourse to misuse 
of checks upon a certain trust fund of which he was the 
custodian. He did this reluctantly, it must be under- 
stood, and was always appalled by the increasing size of 



PURSUIT BEGINS 249 

the deficit he was making. He knew too that some day 
there must come a reckoning, but against that inevitable 
day several hopes were cherished. 

One was that old J. M., brooding genius of the Amal- 
gamated National, might become appreciative and double 
Rollie's salary. Yet the heart of J. M. was traditionally 
so hard that this hope was comparatively feeble. In fact, 
Rollie would have confessed himself that the lottery 
ticket which he bought every week, and whereby he stood 
to win fifteen thousand dollars, was a more solid one. 
Besides this, hope had other resources. There were, for 
instance, the " ponies " which part of the year were 
galloping at Emeryville, only a few miles away, and there 
were other race tracks throughout the country, and pool 
rooms conveniently at hand. While Rollie was too timid 
to lose any great sum at these, nevertheless they proved 
a constant drain, and the only real asset of his almost 
daily venturing was the doubtful one of the friendship 
of " Spider " Welsh, the bookmaker. 

Rollie's first test of this friendship was made neces- 
sary by the receipt of a letter notifying him that the 
executors of the estate which included the trust fund 
he had been looting would call the next day at eleven for 
a formal examination of the account. Rollie at the mo- 
ment was more than fifteen hundred dollars short, and 
getting shorter. That night he went furtively through 
an alley to the back room of the bookmaker. 

" Let me have seventeen hundred, Spider, for three 
days, and I'll give you my note for two thousand," he 
whispered nervously. 

" What security ? " asked the Spider, craft and money- 
lust swimming in his small, greenish-yellow eye. 

" My signature's enough," said Rollie, bluffing 
weakly. 

" Nothin' doin'," quoth the Spider decisively. 



250 HELD TO ANSWER 

Cold sweat broke out on Rollie's brow faster than he 
could wipe it off. 

" I'll make it twenty-five hundred," the young man 
said hoarsely. 

Spider looked interested. He leaned across the table, 
his darting, peculiar glance shifting searchingly from 
first one of Rollie's eyes to the other, his form half 
crouching, his whole body alert, cruelty depicted on his 
face and suggesting that his nickname was no accident 
but a sure bit of underworld characterization. 

" Make it three thousand, and I'll lay the money in 
your hand," said the Spider coldly. 

Rollie's case was desperate. He drew a blank note 
from his pocket, filled it, and signed it; then passed it 
across the table. But with the Spider's seventeen hun- 
dred deep in his trousers pockets, the feeling that he had 
been grossly taken advantage of seemed to demand of 
Rollie that his manhood should assert itself. 

" Spider, you are a thief ! " he proclaimed truculently. 

" I guess you must be one yourself, or you wouldn't 
want seventeen hundred in such a hell of a hurry," was 
Spider's cool rejoinder, as he practically shoved Rollie 
out of his back door. 

Now this retort of Spider's was quite a shock to Rol- 
lie; but there are shocks and shocks. Moreover, when 
the executors upon their scheduled hour came to Rollo 
Charles Burbeck, trustee, and found his accounts and 
cash balancing to a cent, which was exactly as they ex- 
pected to find them, why this in itself was some compen- 
sation for taking the back-talk even of a bookmaker. 

But the next day Spider Welsh's roll was the fatter by 
three thousand dollars, and the trust account was short 
the same amount. 

Thereafter, and despite good resolutions, the size of 
the defalcation began immediately to grow again, al- 



PURSUIT BEGINS 251 

though Rollo, if he suffered much anxiety on that ac- 
count, concealed it admirably. He knew that under the 
system he was safe for the present, and outwardly he 
moulted no single feather, but wore his well tailored 1 
clothes with the same sleek distinction, and laughed, 
chatted, and danced his way farther and farther into the 
good graces of clambering society, partly sustained by 
the hope that even though lotteries and horse races failed 
him, and the " Old Man's " heart proved adamant, some 
rich woman's tender fancy might fasten itself upon him, 
and a wealthy marriage become the savior of his im- 
periled fortunes. 

It was while still in this state o-f being, but with that 
semi-annual turning over of dead papers again only a 
few weeks distant, Rollo was greatly amazed to blunder 
into the presence of Marien Dounay in his mother's sun- 
room at four o'clock one afternoon, when chance had 
sent him home to don a yachting costume. A little out 
of touch with things at All People's, the young man's 
surprise at finding Miss Dounay tete-a-tete with his own 
mother was the greater by the fact that he knew a score 
of ambitious matrons who were at the very time pulling 
every string within their reach to get the actress on exhi- 
bition as one of their social possessions. 

Because young Burbeck's interest in women was by 
the nature of his association with them largely mer- 
cenary, and just now peculiarly so on account of his own 
haunting embarrassment, he was rather impervious to the 
physical charms of Miss Dounay herself. He only saw 
something brilliant, dazzling, convertible, and exerted 
himself to impress her favorably, postponing the depar- 
ture upon his yachting trip dangerously it would seem, 
had not the two got on so well together that the actress 
offered to take him in her car to shorten his tardiness at 
the yacht pier. 



252 HELD TO ANSWER 

After this, acquaintance between the two young peo- 
ple ripened swiftly. Because John Hampstead was so 
busy, Marien had an abundance of idle time upon her 
hands. Agitated continually by a cat-like restlessness, 
seeking a satiety she was unable to find, the actress had 
no objections to spending a great deal of this idle time 
upon Rollo. He rode with her in that swift-scudding, 
smooth-spinning foreign car. She sailed with him upon 
the bay in a tiny cruising sloop that courtesy dubbed a 
yacht. More than once she entertained Rollie with one 
of these delightful Bohemian suppers served in her hotel 
suite, sometimes with other guests and sometimes flat- 
teringly alone. 

Rollie enjoyed all of this, but without succumbing 
seriously. His spread of canvas was too small, he car- 
ried too much of the lead of deep anxiety upon his cen- 
terboard to keel far over under the breeze of her stiffest 
blandishments ; but all the while he held her acquaintance 
as a treasured asset, introducing her to about-the-Bay 
society with such calculating discrimination as to put 
under lasting obligations to himself not only Mrs. von 
Studdef ord, his friend and patron, but certain other care- 
fully chosen mistresses of money. 

As for Marien, her triumphs were still too recent, her 
vanity was still too childish, not to extract considerable 
enjoyment from being Exhibit " A " at the most im- 
portant social gatherings the community offered; but her 
complacence was at all times modified by moods and 
caprices. She would disappoint Rollie's society friends 
for the most unsubstantial reasons and appeared to think 
her own whimsical change of purpose an entirely suffi- 
cient explanation. Sometimes she did not even bother 
about an explanation, and her manner was haughty in 
the extreme. 

Her most vexatious trick of the kind was to disappear 



PURSUIT BEGINS 253 

one night five minutes before she was to have gone with 
Rollie to be guest of honor at a dinner given by Mrs. 
Ellsworth Harrington. The hostess raged inconsolably, 
taking her revenge on Rollie in words and looks which, 
in her quarter, proclaimed thumbs down for long upon 
that unfortunate, adventuring youth. 

" Take me about nine hundred and ninety-nine years 
to square myself with that double-chinned queen," mut- 
tered Rollie, standing at eleven o'clock of the same 
night upon the corner opposite the Hotel St. Albans 
and looking up inquisitively at the suite of Miss 
Dounay, which was on the floor immediately beneath 
the roof. 

The young man's hat was pushed back so that his 
forehead seemed almost high and, in addition to its 
seeming, the brow wore a disconsolate frown. 

" Looks as if I'd kind of lost my rabbit's foot," he 
murmured, relaxing into a vernacular that neither Mrs. 
Harrington, Mrs. von Studdeford, nor other ladies of 
their class would have deemed it possible to flow from 
the irreproachable lips of Rollo Charles Burbeck. Yet 
his friends should have been very indulgent with Rollie 
to-night ! The world had grown suddenly hard for him. 
The executors were due again to-morrow ; and his deficit 
had passed four thousand dollars. 

So desperate was his plight that for an hour that after- 
noon Rollie had actually thought of throwing himself 
upon the mercy of Mrs. Ellsworth Harrington, who had 
hundreds of thousands in her own right, and who might 
have saved him with a scratch of the pen. Her heart 
had been really soft toward Rollie, too, but Marien's 
caprice to-night had spoiled all chance of that. Nothing 
remained but the Spider. Rollie had an appointment 
with him in fifteen minutes. 

But in the meantime he indulged a somber, irritated 



254 HELD TO ANSWER 

curiosity concerning Miss Dounay. Since staring up- 
ward at her windows brought no satisfaction he had re- 
course to the telephone booth in the hotel lobby, and got 
the information that Miss Dounay was out but had left 
word that if Mr. Burbeck called he was to be told he 
was expected at ten-thirty and there would be other 
guests. 

That meant supper, and a lively little time. No doubt 
the actress would try to make amends. .Well, Rollie 
would most surely let her. He had no intention of quar- 
reling with an asset, even though occasionally it turned 
itself into a liability. But it was now past ten-thirty, 
ten forty-seven, to be exact, and his engagement with the 
Spider was at eleven. However, since his hostess was 
still out, and therefore would be late at her own party, 
his prospective tardiness gave the young man no con- 
cern. 

But, on leaving the telephone booth and advancing 
through the wide lobby of the hotel, young Burbeck was 
surprised to see Miss Dounay's car driven up to the curb. 
There she was, the beautiful devil! Where could she 
have been? Yet, since Rollie's curiosity and his wish 
for an explanation of her conduct were nothing like 
so great as his desire to avoid meeting her until this 
business with the Spider was off his mind, he executed an 
oblique movement in the direction of the side exit; but 
not until a shoulder-wise glance had revealed to him the 
stalwart form of the Reverend John Hampstead emerg- 
ing first from the Dounay limousine. 

" The preacher ! " he muttered in disgusted tones, " I 
thought so. She's nuts on him ; or he is on her, or some- 
thing. Say ! " and the young man came to an abrupt 
stop, while his eyes opened widely, and his nostrils 
sniffed the air as if he scented scandal. " I wonder if 
she tried the same line of stuff on the parson, and he's 



PURSUIT BEGINS 255 

falling for it? It certainly would be tough on mother 
if anything went wrong with her sky pilot." 

However, Rollie's own exigencies were too great for 
.him to forget them long, even in contemplating the pros- 
pective downfall of a popular idol, and he made his way 
to his engagement. 

Rollie was a long time with Spider. Part of this 
delay was due to the fact that the Spider was broke. He 
did not have forty-two hundred dollars, nor any appre- 
ciable portion thereof. Another part of the delay was 
due to the fact that Spider took some time in elaborating 
a plan to put both Rollie and himself in possession of 
abundant funds. The plan was grasped upon quickly, 
but, being a detestable coward, Rollie halted long before 
undertaking an enterprise that required the display of 
nerve and daring under circumstances where failure 
meant instant ruin. 

However, there was at least a gambler's chance, while 
with the executors to-morrow there was no chance. In- 
evitably, therefore, the young man, white of face, with a 
lump in his throat and a flutter in his breast, gripped 
with his cold, nerveless hand the avaricious palm of 
Spider, and the bargain was made. Even then, however, 
there was a stage wait while an emissary of the Spider's 
went on a dive-scouring tour that in twenty minutes 
turned up a short-haired, scar-nosed shadow of a man 
who answered to the name of the " Red Lizard ", a 
designation which the fiery hue of his skin and the slimy 
manner of the creature amply justified. 

Once out of Spider's place, Rollie lingered in the alley 
long enough to screw his scant courage to the place where 
it would stick for a few hours at least; and at precisely 
half-past eleven, looking his handsome, debonair self, 
his open overcoat revealing him still in evening dress, and 
with his silk hat self -confidently a-tilt, he sauntered non- 



256 HELD TO ANSWER 

chalantly through the lobby of the Hotel St. Albans to 
an elevator which bore him skyward. 

The pride of the Elder and the son of the Angel, the 
social ambassador of the Amalgamated National, was 
prepared once more to do his duty by his fortune. 



CHAPTER XXIII 

CAPRICIOUS WOMAN 

WITH more than a month of odd hours invested upon 
Marien Dounay, the Reverend John Hampstead had re- 
luctantly made up his mind that failure must be written 
over his efforts in her behalf. 

She had never told him the secret want which was 
making her unhappy. Her manner and her mood varied 
from flights of ecstasy, bordering on intoxication of 
spirit, to depths of depression which suggested that the 
gifted woman was suffering from some sort of mania. 
She was always eager to see him, always clamoring for 
more of his time, and yet after the first week or so he 
never left her presence without being made to feel that 
her hours with him had been a disappointment. 

To tell the truth, he had himself been greatly disap- 
pointed in her. She appeared to him altogether frivo- 
lous, altogether worldly. He was completely convinced 
that she had not only toyed with him years ago, but was 
toying with him now, although of course, in an entirely 
different way. 

For five days he had not seen her, but hating to give 
up entirely, and finding himself one evening in the vi- 
cinity of the Hotel St. Albans, he ventured to run in 
upon her for a moment. She was decked as if for an 
evening party in a dress of gold and spangles, as conspic- 
uous for an excess of materials in the train as for an 
utter absence of them about the arms and shoulders, 
which, on this occasion, even the blaze of diamonds did 



258 HELD TO ANSWER 

not redeem from a look of nakedness to the eyes of the 
minister, a mental reaction which any student of psy- 
chology will recognize as ample evidence that John 
Hampstead, man, had passed entirely beyond the power 
of Marien Dounay, woman. 

Miss Dounay received her caller with that low purr of 
surprise and gladness which was characteristic, and in- 
stantly proposed that they go out for a ride on the foot- 
hill boulevard, and a dinner at the Three Points Inn. 

While the minister had not planned to give her an 
evening, this was one of the rare occasions when he had 
leisure time at his disposal, and since he had resolved 
to make one last effort to help the woman, he decided to 
accept the invitation. 

The evening, however, was not a success. The din- 
ner was good, the roads were smooth, the night air was 
balmy and full of a thousand perfumes from field and 
garden ; but Miss Dounay's mood, at first merry, sagged 
lower and lower into a kind of sullen despair, in which 
she reproached the minister bitterly for his failure to 
understand her. 

Frangois, the chauffeur, had, by command of his mis- 
tress, stopped the car on the curve of the hill, at a point 
where the bright moon made faces as clear as day, and, 
having climbed down as if to look the car over, they 
heard his boot heels grow fainter and fainter on the 
graveled road as he tactfully ambled off out of earshot. 

Hampstead was still patient. 

" I have been so earnest in my desire to help you," he 
said, by way of broaching the subject again. 

" You cannot help me," Marien snapped. " Some- 
thing bars you. Your church, your position, all these 
foolish women who are in love with you, this whole com- 
munity which has made a ' property ' god of you, they 
are to blame! They stand between us. They prevent 



CAPRICIOUS WOMAN 259 

you from seeing what you ought to see. They make you 
blind. You think you are humble. It is a mock 
humility. Under its guise you hide a lofty egotism. 
You think you are a preacher; you are not. You are 
still an actor, playing your part, and playing it so busily 
that you have ceased to be genuine. All this sentiment 
which you display for the suffering and needy and dis- 
tressed is a worked-up sentiment. It goes with the part 
you play. It makes you blind, false, hypocritical ! " 

" Miss Dounay! " exclaimed the minister sharply. 

But beside herself with chagrin and disappointment, 
the woman ran on with growing scorn, as she asked 
sneeringly : " Do you not see that all this gaping adora- 
tion is unreal? That a touch would overthrow you? A 
single false step, and the newspapers which have made 
you for the sake of a front-page holiday would have 
another holiday, and a bigger one, in tearing you down? " 

Hampstead gritted his teeth, but he could not have 
stopped her. 

" Can you imagine what would be the biggest news 
story that could break to-morrow morning in Oakland ? " 
she persisted. " It would be the fall of John Hamp- 
stead. Can't you see it?" she laughed derisively. 
" Headlines a foot tall ? Can't you hear the newsboys 
calling? Can't you see the * Sisters ' whispering? Can't 
you see the gray heads bobbing? The pulpit of All Peo- 
ple's declared vacant! John Hampstead a by-word and 
worse a joke ! Can't you see it? " 

Not unnaturally, the minister was angry. 

" No," he said sharply, " and you will never see it, 
for I shall not take that single false step of which you 
speak." 

" Oh, you really would not need to take it," sneered 
the actress, with a sinister note in her voice, " a man in 
your position need not fall. He may only seem to fall." 



260 HELD TO ANSWER 

It seemed to John that the woman was actually menac- 
ing him. 

" Frangois ! " he called sharply. 

The chauffeur's heels came clicking back from around 
the turn, and in a silence, which upon Miss Dounay's 
part might be described as fuming, and upon the min- 
ister's as aggressively dignified, the couple were driven 
back to the hotel, arriving in time for Rollie Burbeck to 
emerge from the telephone booth, to observe the car, 
and to avoid its occupants. 

With almost an elaboration of scrupulous courtesy, 
the minister helped Miss Dounay from the automobile, 
walked with her to the elevator, and ascended to the 
doorway of her apartment, where, extending his hand, 
he said sadly, in tones of finality, but without a trace of 
any other feeling than regretful sympathy : " I still de- 
sire to befriend you as I may. But I shall not be able 
to come to you again." 

To his surprise, Marien answered him with something 
like a threat! 

" It is I," she rejoined quickly, " who will come to 
you. I do not know how it is to happen yet, but I will 
come, and when I do if I am not much mistaken you 
will be happier to receive my call than you ever were to 
receive one in all your life before!" 

Again there was menace in her tone, and never had 
she looked more imperiously regal than as she stood 
holding the loop of her train in the left hand, the right 
upon the knob of the door, the shimmering evening cloak 
pushed back to reveal her gold and spangled figure, stand- 
ing arrow straight, while the dark eyes shot defiance. 

Neither had she ever been guilty of a more studied 
or effective bit of theatricalism than when, immediately 
following this insinuating speech, the actress noiselessly 
propelled the door inward, revealing the presence of a 



CAPRICIOUS WOMAN 261 

group of men in evening dress posed about the room in 
various attitudes of boredom. As the door swung, these 
men turned expectantly and with quick eyes photographed 
the picture of the minister in the hall, his sober, per- 
plexed gaze set upon the figure of the beautiful woman, 
whose features had instantly changed as she made her 
entrance upon an entirely different drama. 

" Ah, my neglected guests ! " exclaimed the actress in 
tones of mild self-reproach. " You will forgive my not 
being here to receive you, when you know the reason. 
Doctor Hampstead has been showing me some of the 
more interesting and unusual phases of that eccentric 
parish work of his, over which you Oaklanders rave so 
much. And now, the dear good man was hesitating in 
the hall at intruding upon our little party. I have in- 
sisted that he shall be one of us. Am I not right, gen- 
tlemen?" 

Several of Miss Dounay's guests were well known to 
Hampstead personally, and the readiness with which they 
dragged him within attested to the clergyman's wide 
popularity among quite different sorts of very much 
worth-while persons, for, as a matter of fact, Miss 
Dounay's guests were rather representative. The group 
included an editor, an associate justice of the Supreme 
Court, a prominent merchant, a capitalist or two, and 
other persons, either of achievement or position, to the 
number of some eight or ten. 

Their presence witnessed not only that Miss Dounay, 
in her liking for a virile type of man, had made quick 
and careful selection from those she had met during her 
short stay in the city, but also testified to the readiness 
with which this type responded to the Dounay personality. 

That no other woman was present, and that the ac- 
tress should assume the entire responsibility of entertain- 
ing so many gentlemen at one time, was entirely in keep- 



262 HELD TO ANSWER 

ing with her particular kind of vanity and the situations 
it was bound to create. 

Standing in the center of the room, wearing that ex- 
pression of happy radiance which admiration invariably 
brought to her face, her bare shoulders gleaming, her 
jewels blazing, she rotated upon her heel till her train 
wound up in a swirling eddy at her feet, out of which 
she bloomed like some voluptuous flower, while a chorus 
of " Oh's " and " Ah's " of laughing adulation followed 
the revolution of her eyes about the circuit ; for the guests 
knew that to their hostess this little gathering was a play, 
and their part was to enact a vigorously approving au- 
dience. 

" Gentlemen," she proposed, " you are all in evening 
dress ; but I," and she shrugged her bewitching shoul- 
ders naively, " I have been in this gown for ages 
until I hate it. Will you indulge me a little longer ? " 
And she inclined her head in the direction of the red 
portieres through which she had gone that first night 
to don the diamonds for Hampstead. 

Of course the gentlemen excused her, and Miss Dounay 
achieved another startling theatricalism by reappearing 
in an astonishingly short time, offering the most surpris- 
ing contrast to her former self. The yellow and span- 
gles were gone. In their place was the simplest possible 
gown of soft black velvet, with only a narrow band pass- 
ing over the shoulders and framing a bust like marble 
for its whiteness against the black. The dress was en- 
tirely without ornament, presenting a supreme achieve- 
ment of the art of the modiste, in that it appeared not so 
much to be a gown as a bolt of velvet, suddenly caught 
up and draped to screen her figure chastely but beauti- 
fully, at the same time it revealed and even emphasized 
those swelling curves and long lines which lost them- 
selves elusively in the baffling pliancy of her remarkable 



CAPRICIOUS WOMAN 263 

figure. The hair was worn low upon the neck, and the 
jewels which had blazed in her coiffure like a dazzling 
crown were no longer in evidence. With them had gone 
the pendants from her ears, and that coruscating circlet 
of diamonds from the neck, which was her chief pride 
and most valuable single possession. There was not even 
a band of gold upon her arms, nor a ring upon her taper- 
ing finger. Hence what the admiring circle seemed to 
see was not something brilliant because bedizened, but a 
creature exquisite because genuine, a beauty depending 
for its power solely upon nature's comeliness. 

No woman with less beauty or less art, desiring to be 
admired as Marien Dounay passionately did, could have 
dared this contrast successfully. No one who knew men 
less thoroughly than she would have understood that for 
a purely professional artist to attain this look of a sim- 
ple womanly woman was the greatest possible triumph, 
stirring every instinct of admiration and of chivalry. 

And whatever was at the back of the trick Miss Dounay 
had played and there was generally something back 
of her caprices in thrusting John Hampstead, with 
whom she had practically quarreled, into this group of 
guests, she appeared to forget him entirely in the suc- 
cession of whims, moods, and graces with which she 
proceeded to their entertainment. 

For one thing, she admitted them to the large room 
which served as her boudoir, into which they had seen 
her go in gold and spangles to emerge like a miracle in 
demure black velvet. 

Of course, there was an excuse for thus titillating the 
curiosity of vigorous men with that lure of mysterious 
enchantment which lurks in the boudoir of a lovely 
woman, and the excuse was that the room, while half- 
boudoir, was also half-studio, and held tables on which 
were displayed the models of the stage sets and the cos- 



264 HELD TO ANSWER 

turner's designs for Miss Dounay's coming London pro- 
duction. 

As the actress had divined, the inspection of these fas- 
cinating details of stagecraft interested her guests as 
much as the display of them delighted her. 

In the hour which ensued before the supper, a colla- 
tion that in its variety and substance again proved how 
well the actress comprehended the appetite of the male, 
two or three guests arrived tardily. The earliest of these 
to enter was Rollo Charles Burbeck, who came in ample 
time to roam about the room of mystery at will with the 
remainder of the guests. Indeed, he stayed in it so much 
that its enchantment for him might have been presumed 
to be greater than for the others. 

Before the supper, too, one of the guests craved the 
liberty of departing. This was the Reverend John 
Hampstead. The farewell of his hostess was gracious 
and without the slightest reminiscence of anything un- 
pleasant, but he was prevented from more than men- 
tally congratulating himself upon the change in her man- 
ner toward him by the fact that in walking some ten feet 
from where he touched the fingers of his hostess to where 
a butler-sort of person, borrowed from the hotel staff, 
stood waiting with his overcoat, Doctor Hampstead came 
face to face with Rollie Burbeck, who was just emerging 
from the boudoir-studio with a disturbed look upon his 
usually placid face, as if, for instance, he had seen a 
ghost 

In consequence, the minister moved down the corridor 
to the elevator, not pondering upon his own perplexities, 
but thinking to himself, " I wonder now if that young 
man is in any serious trouble. It would break his 
mother's heart it would kill her if he were." 



CHAPTER XXIV 

THE DAY OF ALL DAYS 

NEXT morning Doctor Hampstead was up bright and 
early, clad in his long study gown and walking, according 
to custom, beneath his palm trees, while he reflected on 
the duties of the day before him. This was really the 
day of all days for him, but he did not know it. 

An unpleasant thought of Marien Dounay came im- 
pertinently into mind, but he repressed it. He had failed 
with her. A pity! Yes; but his work was too big, too 
important, for him to permit it to be interfered with 
longer by any individual. 

Besides, there were with him this morning thoughts of 
a totally different woman, whose life was as fresh and 
beautiful as the dew-kissed flowers about him. Five 
years of unswerving devotion on his part had all but 
wiped from her memory the admission of her lover which 
had so hurt the trusting heart of Bessie. That confiding 
trust, the loss of which her pen had so eloquently la- 
mented, had grown again. The very day was set. In 
four months John Hampstead would hold Bessie Mitchell 
in his arms, and this time it seemed to him, more surely 
than it had that day in the little surnmer house by the 
tiny painted park in Los Angeles, that he would never, 
never let her out of them. 

In the midst of these reflections, a thud sounded on 
the graveled walk at the minister's feet. It was the 
morning paper tightly rolled and whirled from the unerr- 
ing hand of a boy upon a flying bicycle. The minister 



266 HELD TO ANSWER 

waved his hand in response to a similar salute from the 
grinning urchin, then turned and looked at the roll of 
ink and paper speculatively. That paper was the world 
coming to sit down at breakfast with him, and tell him 
what it had been doing in the past twenty-four hours. It 
had been doing some desperate things. The wide strip 
of mourning at the end of the bent cylinder, indicating 
tall headlines, showed this. The paper had come to him 
to make confession of the world's sins. This was right, 
for he was one of the world's confessors. 

But with this thought came another which had oc- 
curred to him before. This was that he had won his con- 
fessor's gaberdine too cheaply. He had gained his posi- 
tion as a deputy saviour of mankind at too small ia cost. 
Sometimes he questioned if he were not yet to be made to 
suffer excruciatingly supremely i f , for instance, 
Bessie were not to be taken from him. Yet he knew, as 
he reflected somewhat morbidly to this effect, that such a 
suffering would hardly be efficient. It must be some- 
thing within himself, something volitional, a cup which 
he might drink or refuse to drink. The world's saviour 
was not Simon of Cyrene, whom they compelled to bear 
the cross, but the man from the north, who took up his 
own cross. True, Hampstead had thought on several 
occasions that he was taking up a cross, but it proved 
light each time, and turned into a crown either of public 
or of private approbation. Yet the cross was there, if 
he had only known it, in the tall black headlines on the 
paper rolled up and bent tightly and lying like a bomb at 
his feet. 

However, instead of picking up the paper, he strolled 
out upon the sidewalk and down for a turn upon the sea- 
wall. The lately risen sun shot a ray across the eastern 
hills, and the dancing waters played elfishly with its 
beams, as if they had been ten thousand tiny mirrors. A 



THE DAY OF ALL DAYS 267 

fresh breeze was blowing, and as the minister filled his 
lungs again and again with the wave-washed air, it 
seemed as if a great access of strength were flowing into 
his veins. It flowed in and in until he felt himself 
stronger than he had ever been before in his life. 

With this feeling of strength, which was spiritual as 
well as physical, came the desire to test it against some- 
thing big, bigger than he had ever faced before. All un- 
conscious how weak his puny strength would be against 
its demands, he lifted his arms towards the sky like a sun- 
worshiper and prayed that the day before him might be 
a great day. 

Then leaving the sea-wall, the minister walked with 
swinging, quite un-gownly strides up the sidewalk and 
turned in between the green patches of lawn before his 
own door, picking up the paper and unrolling it as he 
mounted the porch. On the step before the top one he 
paused. The black headline \vas before his eye. 

"DOUNAY DIAMONDS STOLEN" was its 
screaming message. 

The minister was quickly gutting the column of its 
meaning, when a step upon the graveled walk behind 
startled him into turning suddenly toward the street, 
where between the polished red trunks of the palms and 
under their spreading leaves which met overhead, he saw 
framed the figure of Rollie Burbeck, halting uncertainly, 
with pale, excited face. This expression, indeed, was a 
mere exaggeration of the very look Doctor Hampstead 
had last seen upon it; but he did not immediately con- 
nect the two. 

''' Your mother ! " exclaimed the clergyman apprehen- 
sively, for that precious life, always hanging by a thread 
which any sudden shock might snap, was a constant 
source of anxiety to those who loved the Angel of the 
Chair. "Something has happened to her?" 



268 HELD TO ANSWER 

" No ! To me ! " groaned the young man hoarsely, 
hurrying forward as the minister stepped down to meet 
him. 

" Something awful ! Can I see you absolutely alone ? " 

",Why, certainly, Rollie," replied the minister with 
ready sympathy. " Come this way." 

Hastily the minister led his caller around the side of 
the wide, low-lying cottage to the outside entrance of his 
study. 

" Is that door locked ? " asked Rollie, as, once inside 
the room, he darted a frightened glance at the doorway 
connecting with the rest of the house. 

Although knowing himself to be safe from interrup- 
tion, the minister tactfully walked over and turned the 
key. He then locked the outer door as well, lowered the 
long shade at the wide side window, and snapped on the 
electric light. 

" No eye and no ear can see or hear us now, save one," 
he said with sympathetic gravity. " Sit down." 

Rollie sat on the very edge of the Morris chair, his el- 
bows on the ends of its arms, while his head hung for- 
ward with an expression of ghastliness upon the weakly 
handsome features. 

" You saw the paper? " he began. 

The minister nodded. 

" Here they are ! " the young man gulped, the words 
breaking out of him abruptly. At the same time there 
was a quick motion of his hand, and a rainbow flash from 
his coat pocket to the blotter upon the desk, where the 
circlet of diamonds coiled like a blazing serpent that ap- 
peared to sway and writhe as each stone trembled from 
the force with which Burbeck had rid himself of the hate- 
ful touch. The minister started back with shock and a 
sudden sense of recollection. 

" Oh, Rollie," he groaned, and then asked, as if 



THE DAY OF ALL DAYS 269 

not quite able to believe his eyes : " You took them ? " 

"I I stole them," the excited man half -whispered. 

" Why ? " questioned Hampstead, still wrestling with 
his astonishment. 

" Because I am short in my accounts," Rollie shud- 
dered, passing a despairing hand across his eyes. " I 
have to have money to-day, or I am ruined." 

" But you could not turn these into money. You must 
have been beside yourself." 

" No ! " replied the excited man, with husky, explosive 
utterance ; " the scheme was all right. Spider Welsh 
was going to handle 'em for me. We were to split four 
ways. But the Red Lizard fell down." 

"The Red Lizard?" interrupted the minister; for he 
knew the man who bore the suggestive title. 

" Yes. He was to hang a rope down from the cornice 
on the roof of the hotel, opposite her window, so it would 
look like an outside job, and he didn't do it. I got the 
diamonds easy enough easier than I expected you 
know how that was, with all those people coming and go- 
ing in that room. But I went to bed and couldn't sleep 
for thinking about the rope. I got up before daylight 
and went down to see if it was there. So help me 
God, there's no rope swinging. That makes it an inside 
job ; it puts it up to the guests. By a process of elimina- 
tion, they'll come down to me. I am ruined any way you 
look at it, and the shock will kill mother! " 

The minister studied the face of his caller critically. 
Did he love his mother enough to greatly care on her 
account, or was this merely an afterthought? 

" What am I going to do? " the shaken Rollie gasped 
hoarsely, his eyes fixing themselves in helpless appeal 
upon the clergyman. 

" The thing to do is clear," announced the minister 
bluntly. " Take these diamonds straight back to Miss 



270 HELD TO ANSWER 

Dounay. Tell her you stole them. Throw yourself on 
her mercy." 

A sickly smile curled upon the young man's lip. 

" Her mercy ? " he repeated. " Do you think that 
woman has any mercy in her? She has got the worst 
disposition God ever gave a woman. She would tear me 
to pieces." 

The young fellow again lifted a hand before his eyes, 
shuddering and reeling as though he might faint. 

With a feeling almost of contempt, Hampstead gripped 
him by the shoulder and shook him sternly. 

" Your situation calls for the exercise of some man- 
hood if you have it," he said sharply. "Tell me. 
Why did you come here ? " 

" To get you to help me out ! " the broken man mur- 
mured helplessly, twisting his hat in his hands. " That 
was all. I won't lie to you. You've never turned any- 
body down. Don't turn me down ! " 

" It was on your mother's account ? " 

" No, I'm not as unselfish as that. It's just myself. 
I don't know what's the matter with me. I've lost my 
nerve. I had it all right enough when I took 'em, ex- 
cept for just a minute after; that's when I met you 
going away, and with that damned uncanny way of yours 
you dropped on that something was wrong. But I had 
my nerve all right; I had it till I got out there on the 
street this morning and that rope wasn't swinging there 
over the cornice. Damn the Red Lizard! All I ask is 
to get out of this, and then to get him by the throat ! " 

Surely the man had recovered a portion of his nerve, 
for at the thought of the failure of his partner in crime, 
his face was suffused with rage, and his weak, writhing 
hands became twisting talons that groped for the throat 
of an imaginary Red Lizard. 

At sight of this demonstration, Hampstead leaned back 



THE DAY OF ALL DAYS 271 

in his chair, with the air of one whose interest is merely 
pathological, observing the phenomena of a soul in the 
throes. of incurable illness. His face was not even sym- 
pathetic. 

" You have come to the wrong place," he said briefly. 

"You won't help me out?" 

" Not in your state of mind which is a mere cow- 
ardice in defeat mere rage at the failure of an ac-. 
complice. I should be accessory after the crime." 

" Not even to save my mother ? " whined the wilted 
man. 

" I should be doing your mother no kindness to con- 
firm her son in crime." 

Young Burbeck sat silent and baffled, yet somehow 
shocked into vigorous thought by the notion that he had 
encountered something hard, a man with a substratum 
of moral principle that was like immovable rock. 

For a moment the culprit's eyes wandered helplessly 
about the room and then returned to the rugged face of 
the minister, with so much of gentleness and so much of 
strength upon it. Looking at the man thus, Rollie had a 
sudden, envious wish for his power. This man had a 
strength of character that was enormous and Gibraltar- 
like. 

" You can help me if you will ! " he broke out wretch- 
edly, straining and twisting his neck like a man bat- 
tling with suffocation. 

" Yes," said the minister quietly, his eyes searching to 
the fellow's very soul, " I can if you will let me." 

"Let you?" and a hysterical smile framed itself on 
the young man's face. " My God, I will do anything." 

" It's something you must be, rather than do," ex- 
plained the physician to sick souls, once more deeply sym- 
pathetic, and leaning forward, he continued significantly : 
" I want to help you, not for your mother's sake, nor 



2^2 HELD TO ANSWER 

your father's, but for your own whenever you are ready 
to receive help upon proper terms. You have come here 
seeking a way out. There is no way out, but there is a 
way up." 

The cowering man shook his head hopelessly. He 
had not courage enough even to survey a moral 
height. 

For a moment the minister studied his visitor thought- 
fully, wondering what could make him see his guilt as he 
ought to see it ; then abruptly he drew close and began to 
talk in a low, confidential tone. Almost before the sur- 
prised Rollie could understand what was taking place, 
the Reverend John Hampstead, to whom he had come 
to confess, was confessing to him; this man, whom he 
had thought so strong, was telling the story of a young 
girl's love for him; of his weak infatuation for another 
woman, of the heart-aches that half -unconscious breach 
of trust had occasioned him, and worst of all, the pangs 
it had cost the innocent girl who loved him and believed 
in his integrity with all her impressionable heart. 

There was a moisture in the minister's eye as he con- 
cluded his story, and there was a fresh mist in Rollie's 
as he listened. 

But the clergyman passed on immediately from this to 
tell modestly how, when the death of Langham had im- 
posed the lives of Dick and Tayna on him like a trust, he 
had been true to it, although at the cost of his great 
ambition; but that afterward this surrender had brought 
him all the happiness of his present life as pastor of 
All People's, while the hope of winning that first love 
back had been given to him again. 

" And so," Hampstead concluded, " to be disloyal to 
a trust has come to seem to me the worst of all crimes; 
while to be true to one's obligations appears to me as 
the highest virtue. In fact, the whole active part of my 



THE DAY OF ALL DAYS 273 

creed could be summed up pretty well in this little idea 
of trust. 

" Trust is almost the highest thing in life. It is the 
cement of civilization. Trust is the very foundation of 
banking. You believe in banking, don't you? In the 
principle? The idea that hundreds of people trust some 
banker with their surplus funds, and he puts those funds 
at the service of the community as a whole through loan- 
ing them to persons who redeposit them, to be reloaned 
and redeposited again, so that the bank, a bundle of 
individual trusts of rich and poor, becomes one of the 
f ulcrums upon which civilization turns ? " 

Burbeck listened rather dazed. " I never thought of 
the principle," he faltered after a minute, " I thought of 
it as a job." 

" Well, you see the point, don't you ? It's rather a 
high calling to be a banker. Now in this case the dead 
man whose fund you have looted trusted the bank; the 
bank has trusted you, and you have stolen from the 
bank. Miss Dounay has trusted you, and you have 
stolen her diamonds. You see at what I am getting? " 

Hampstead paused and glanced penetratingly into the 
face of Rollie, who had been a little swept out of him- 
self, as much in wonder at the new insight into the life 
of the minister as at the convincing clarity of the lesson 
conveyed. 

;< Yes," he replied thoughtfully and with an air of 
conviction, " that I am not to think of myself as merely 
a thief, but as something worse, as a traitor to many 
sacred trusts." 

" Exactly," exclaimed the minister with satisfaction 
at the sign of moral perception growing. " To shield a 
thief from exposure is possibly criminal. To help a man 
repair the breaches of his trust, to put him in the way of 
never breaking another trust as long as he lives, that is 



274 HELD TO ANSWER 

the true work of the ministry. If it is for that you want 
help, Rollie, you have come to the right place." 

" I did not come for that," admitted the young fel- 
low, strangely able to view himself objectively as a sadly 
dispiriting spectacle. " I came, as you said, in cow- 
ardice, because I didn't know which way to turn, desir- 
ing only to find a way out. Somehow, I felt myself a 
victim. You make me see myself a crook. I came 
here feeling sorry for myself. You make me hate my- 
self. You make me want to be worthy of trust. You 
give me hope. I have a feeling I never had before, that 
I am not much of a man, that I am not equal to a man's 
job. But tell me what I must do to repair the breaches 
in my trust, and let me see if I think I can do them." 

Burbeck's manner had become calmer, and something 
of the grayness of despair had left his face, but now at 
the recurrence of all his perplexities, he presented again 
the picture of a .man cowering beneath a mountain that 
threatened to fall upon him. 

" First of all, you must go back to Miss Dounay with 
her diamonds," prescribed the minister seriously. " If 
you have not manhood enough to face her with your con- 
fession, I do not see the slightest hope for your char- 
acter's rehabilitation." 

" But the executors ! " exclaimed Rollie, with the sense 
of danger still greater than his sense of guilt. " They 
will be checking me up at eleven. I've got to cover the 
shortage, or I'm lost. J. M. would be more terrible than 
Miss Dounay. It would not be vengeance with him. 
He'd send me to San Quentin, entirely without feeling, 
just as a matter of cold duty. He'd shake hands and 
tell me to look in when I got out. That's J. M." 

" Yes, I think it is," said the minister, pausing for a 
moment of thought. His body was balanced and rock- 
ing gently in the swivel chair, his hands were held before 



THE DAY OF ALL DAYS 275 

him, the tips of the thumb and fingers of the right hand 
just touching the tips of the thumb and fingers of the 
left hand and making a rudely elliptical basket into which 
he was looking as if for inspiration. 

Rollie, waiting, hoping, without knowing what to 
hope, had begun to study Hampstead's face with a 
respectful interest he had never felt before. He noticed 
the dark shadows beneath the gray eyes, and that lines 
were beginning to seam the brow, while just now the 
broad shoulders had a bent look. For the first time it 
occurred to him that Hampstead's work might be hard 
work, and he began to feel a kind of reverence for a 
man who would work so hard for other people, and to 
reflect that it was noble thus to expend one's energies, 
noble to be true to trusts of any sort. It was admirable. 
It was worthy of emulation. A sudden envy of Hamp- 
stead's character seized him, and he began, in the midst 
of his own distress, to think how one proceeded to get 
such a character. By the simple process of being true to 
trusts, the minister had suggested. But this seemed rather 
hopeless for Rollie. His chance had gone unless ! 
His mind halted and fastened its hope desperately to this 
grave, silent, meditative face. 

The minister was considering very delicate ques- 
tions: trying to decide how much weight the slender 
moral backbone of this softling could carry, asking 
whether by leaning upon the side of mercy, by taking 
some very serious responsibility upon himself, he might 
not shelter him from the consequences of his crime while 
a new character was grown. 

But such questions are not definitely answerable in 
advance, and it was neither Hampstead's usual mag- 
nanimity nor his leaning toward mercy, but his moral 
enthusiasm for the rehabilitation of lost character that 
impelled him to take a chance in his decision. 



276 HELD TO ANSWER 

" When do you say they will be upon your books ? " 
he asked abruptly. 

" Before twelve, sure ; by eleven, probably," was 
Rollie's quick, nervous answer. 

"And how much is your defalcation? " 

" Forty-two hundred," sighed Rollie. 

" The expedient is almost doubtful," announced the 
minister solemnly, and with evident reluctance ; " and I 
do not say that the time will not come when you are 
stronger, perhaps when you must tell Mr. Manton that 
you were once a defaulter; but that bridge we will not 
cross this morning, and in the meantime, I will let you 
have the money to cover your shortage." 

" Brother Hampstead ! " gulped Rollie, reaching out 
both hands, while his soul leaped in gratitude. It was 
also the first time he had ever called Hampstead 
" Brother " except in derision. 

The minister waved away this demonstration with a 
gesture of self -deprecation, and a smile that was almost 
as sweet as a woman's lighted up his face, while he took 
from a drawer of his desk a small, flat key, familiar to 
Rollie because he had seen it before, and many others 
resembling it. 

" Here," said Hampstead, " is the key to my safe de- 
posit box in the Amalgamated National vault. In that 
box is eleven hundred dollars. It is not my money, but 
was provided by a friend for use in a contingency which 
has not arisen. I feel at perfect liberty to use it for this 
emergency. As you will remember, there is already on 
file with the vault-room custodian my signed authoriza- 
tion for you to visit the box, because you have served as 
my messenger before. You will be able, therefore, to 
gain unquestioned access to it the minute the vaults are 
open, which as you know is nine o'clock. Take the en- 
velope marked ' Wadham currency.' In the meantime I 



THE DAY OF ALL DAYS 277 

will go to a friend or two, and within thirty minutes after 
the bank's doors open, I will bring you another envelope 
containing thirty-one hundred dollars." 

Rollie listened as a condemned man upon a scaffold 
listens to the reading of his reprieve. 

" How can I thank you ? " he croaked finally, clutch- 
ing at the minister's hand. 

" You don't thank me," adjured Hampstead, towering 
and strong, while he gripped the pulseless palm of Bur- 
beck. " Don't thank me! Do your part; that's all." 

Rollie clung to the strong hand uncertainly for a few 
seconds until he himself felt stronger, when his face 
seemed to lighten somewhat. 

" You have a wonderful way with you, Doctor Hamp- 
stead," he exclaimed. " You have put conscience into me 
this morning and courage." 

" Both are important," smiled the minister. 

At this moment, Rollie, who was beginning to recover 
his presence of mind, did one of those innocent things 
which thereafter played so important a part in the trag- 
ical chain of complications which followed from this in- 
terview. The act itself was no more than to select from 
a small tray of rubber bands upon the study desk, the only 
red one which happened to be there, and to snap it with 
several twists about the neck of the vault-box key, re- 
marking as he did so: 

" For ready identification. There are sometimes sev- 
eral of these keys in my possession at once." 

The minister nodded approvingly. " I suppose," he 
commented, " other people make use of you as a mes- 
senger to their boxes." 

" Half a dozen of the women have that habit," the 
young man observed. 

" Trusted ! " exclaimed the minister impulsively, lay- 
ing a cordial hand upon the young man's shoulder. 



278 HELD TO ANSWER 

" You have been greatly trusted. It is a rare privilege, 
isn't it?" 

Rollie nodded thoughtfully. 

" And these ? " questioned Doctor Hampstead, motion- 
ing to where the diamond necklace curled, appearing to 
Rollie less like a serpent now and more like a strangler's 
knot. 

" I'm afraid of them," said the young man with a 
shudder. " Couldn't couldn't you take them back to 
her and tell the story ? " 

The clergyman shook his head solemnly. 

" I cannot confess your sins for you," he averred. "If 
you are not man enough for that, we might as well stop 
before we begin." 

Hampstead's tone was final. 

" You are right," admitted Burbeck, in tones of con- 
viction ; " you are right." 

But still he could not bring himself to touch the dia- 
monds, and stood gazing as if charmed by the evil spell 
they wrought. Sensing this, the minister took up from 
his desk a long envelope which bore his name and ad- 
dress in the corner, opened it, lifted the sparkling string 
by one end, dropped it inside, moistened the flap, sealed 
it, and handed it to Burbeck. 

" There," he exclaimed, " you don't even have to touch 
them again. Go straight to her hotel." 

" Oh, but I cannot," exclaimed Rollie, apprehension 
trembling in his tones. " I shall not dare to leave the 
bank until the shortage is covered. The executors might 
come in ahead of time, and I must be there to stall them 
off, if necessary. But I might telephone to Miss 
Dounay." 

;< Telephones are leaky instruments," objected Hamp- 
stead, with a shake of his head. 

" Or send her a note," suggested Burbeck. 



THE DAY OF ALL DAYS 279 

" Notes miscarry," controverted the minister saga- 
ciously, " and they do not always die when their mission 
is accomplished. Since you are taking my advice, I 
would say summon all your self-control, contain your 
secret in patience during the hours you must wait until 
your shortage is made good, and you can leave the bank 
to see Miss Dounay in person. You must do your part 
entirely alone, for my lips are sealed." 

"Sealed?" questioned Rollie, not quite comprehend- 
ing. 

" Yes, the secret is your own. Think of your con- 
fession as made to God ! " 

" You mean that you would never tell on me, no matter 
what happened ? " 

" Just that. The liberty is not mine. I can only ex- 
pect you to be true to your trust as I am true as a minis- 
ter to mine." 

This was an idea Rollie could not grasp readily. It 
was taking away a prop upon which he had meant to 
lean. 

" But," he argued, " you make it possible for me to 
take your money and that of your friends and keep it, 
if you don't have some kind of a club over me." 

" Exactly," replied the minister. " I want no club 
over you, Rollie. You must be a free agent, or else I 
have not really trusted you. Your right action would 
mean nothing if compulsory. You must be true to your 
trust from some inner spiritual motive." 

But Rollie was still groping. " And if I should, for 
instance, steal the money you give me ? " 

" You would know it, and I, and one other," replied 
the minister, raising his eyes devoutly. 

Rollie swept his hand across his face slowly, with a 
gesture of bewilderment. This minister was taking him 
to higher and higher ground. He began to feel as if 



280 HELD TO ANSWER 

he had been led up to some transfiguring mountain peak 
of moral eminence. 

" It is the highest appeal which could be made to the 
honor of another," he breathed in tones approaching 
awe. 

" Exactly," declared Hampstead again with that air 
of finality, " and if I should fail to be true to my part 
of the trust, what has passed between us this morning 
has been the mere compounding of a felony and not the 
act of a priest of God looking to the regeneration of a 
soul." 

In a wordless interval, Rollie Burbeck pressed the 
minister's hand once more and departed, his face still 
wearing a veiled expression as if he had not quite caught 
the import of all that had been said. 

But neither, for that matter, had the minister; al- 
though he was never surer of himself than now, when he 
ushered his guest out of the side door with a cheery, 
courage-giving smile, and hastened in to his greatly de- 
layed breakfast. 

With a thoughtful air and a feeling of intense satis- 
faction in his breast, he unfolded his napkin, broke his 
egg, and sipped his coffee, still with no suspicion that this 
was the day of all days for him, or that he had just sawed 
and hammered the cross which might make his title clear 
to saviourhood. 



CHAPTER XXV 

HIS BRIGHT IDEA 

YOUNG Burbeck's desk at the Amalgamated National 
was in an open space behind a marble counter. About 
him in the same open space were desks of two other 
assistant cashiers. Back of these were the private offices 
of the cashier, the president and the vice-president, as 
well as one or two reception rooms. Beyond the marble 
counter was a broad public aisle, on the farther side of 
which the tellers and bookkeepers worked, screened by 
the usual wire and glass. The safe deposit vaults were 
in the basement and reached by a stairway from the open 
lobby on the first floor. 

Hurrying from the minister's house, Burbeck reached 
his desk at ten minutes before the hour of nine. This 
left him ten minutes of waiting before he could get the 
eleven hundred dollars of the Wadham currency; and 
waiting was the very hardest thing he could do under the 
circumstances. He was the first of the assistant cashiers 
to arrive, but the cashier, Parma, heavy-jowled, with 
dark wall eyes, was visible through the open door of his 
office, checking over some of the auditor's sheets with a 
gold pencil in his pudgy hand. His thick shoulders and 
broad, unresponsive back somehow threw a chill of ap- 
prehension into Rollie. What brought that old owl 
down here at this time of the morning, he wondered. 

The colored porter, resplendent in his uniform of gray 
and brass, advanced with obsequious courtesy and prof- 



282 HELD TO ANSWER 

fered a copy of the morning paper. Rollie snatched at 
it with a sense of relief, but the relief was only mo- 
mentary. There was the hateful headline again. It 
had been hours, days, weeks since he saw that headline 
first, while standing on the street and looking up for the 
rope that was to be swinging over the cornice of the 
Hotel St. Albans. Couldn't they get something else for 
a headline? Why, of course not. The paper had been 
on the street but three hours. That headline must hold 
sway till the noon edition. Besides, it was a good head- 
line. 

Rollie grasped the paper firmly with both hands, threw 
his head back, and pretended to read; but he was not 
reading. He was looking to see if his hands trembled. 
Unmistakably they did. They trembled so the paper 
rattled as if it were having a chill. But pshaw ! There 
was really little to read anyway, beyond the headline. 
The news had come in too late to make a story for the 
morning papers. It only said that Miss Dounay had 
been entertaining some friends and on retiring at half- 
past two had chanced to notice that her diamond neck- 
lace was missing. A search failed to reveal it in the 
apartment. She at once notified the police. That was 
all. No word as to who was present, who was sus- 
pected, whether a guest, or a servant, or a burglar, or 
whether any clue had been discovered. There had been 
no time for that. That would be the story for the after- 
noon papers. They would find out all about Miss 
Dounay's movements the night before, and all about her 
party, and who was present. They would interview each 
guest, and get a statement from him. They would be 
sure to interview John Hampstead. Rollie had a sudden 
feeling of security as he thought of their investigating 
Hampstead. It was amazing what a rocklike confidence 
a man could feel in Hampstead. 



HIS BRIGHT IDEA 283 

But they would also interview him Rollie Burbeck. 
Because he was so readily accessible, they would inter- 
view him first. ,What would he tell them ? How would 
he bear himself? Would his voice tremble when he tried 
to talk, as now his hands trembled when he tried to hold 
the newspaper? 

At this very moment the diamonds were in his inside 
coat pocket. Could he receive the reporters with his 
usual urbanity, sit smiling nonchalantly, and recite the 
incidents of the evening, suggest theories and clues, ex- 
press his righteous indignation at the crime, all with 
that envelope and its contents rustling under every move- 
ment of his arm? Could he? 

To the young man's tortured imagination, the neck- 
lace became again a serpent. He could feel it crawling 
there over his heart, could hear it hissing and rattling 
as if about to strike. The"n it ceased to be a serpent, and 
was a nest of birds. He knew that every time a re- 
porter asked a question, one of those birds would stretch 
its wings and call " Cuckoo." 

There ! It said " Cuckoo " just then. Was the bank 
haunted ? Rollie looked up frightened. Cold sweat was 
on his brow. Not his hands alone but his whole body 
trembled. He was really in a very bad way. Could 
a man have delirium tremens, just from fright? Rollie 
didn't know, but if a reporter came in just then, he was 
sure that he would take out the diamonds and hurl them 
at the news gatherer. 

Speaking of delirium tremens, he wished he had a good 
stiff highball. He must slip out presently long enough 
to get one. Worse than reporters would be coming 
round, too. Detectives would come. Chief of detec- 
tives Benson might come in person. Rollie disliked Ben- 
son and mistrusted him. Benson went on the theory that 
it takes a crook to catch a crook ! When it came to in- 



284 HELD TO ANSWER 

ducing a crook to talk, he was a very handy man with a 
club. Benson would at once scour the pool rooms and 
hop joints. Suppose he got the Red Lizard in the drag- 
net. Suppose he hit the Red Lizard a clip or two with 
that small, ugly billy that was generally in Benson's 
pocket when he went to the sweat room; or suppose he 
kept Red's "hop" away from him for a few hours? 
Or suppose Benson happened to know in that uncanny 
way of his that he, Rollie, had done business with Spider 
Welsh? He might just walk into the bank and search 
Rollie on suspicion. And Rollie would have to submit, 
would have to seem to invite him, almost. His teeth 
were chattering at the thought. 

Discovery disgrace conviction ruin that was 
the sequence of the ideas. Stripes! Ugh! Just when 
the way out, " the way up," was opening to him, too. 
Discovery, now that a moral hope was gleaming, would 
be infinitely more terrible than an hour ago, when he was 
only a rat burrowing from a terrier. 

He tried to shake himself together. He must brace 
up and play the game with a cool head, or he could not 
play it at all. One thing was clear. The diamonds must 
be got out of his possession temporarily. But where 
should he put them? In his desk? Anywhere about the 
bank? Benson would find them if he started a search, 
and if Benson didn't search, some one in the bank might 
stumble upon them accidentally, and then the cat would 
be out of the bag for fair. 

There was a police whistle now ! The agitated young 
man looked about, startled, and then laughed at himself. 
It was not a police whistle at all. It was the first clear, 
bell-like note of the bank clock, beginning the stroke of 
nine. 

With a sensation of relief that for a few minutes wait- 
ing was over and there was occupation for mind and 



HIS BRIGHT IDEA 285 

body, Rollie took the minister's key and strolled in the 
most casual manner he could command down to the vault 
room. 

" Doctor Hampstead's box," he announced, exhibiting 
his key. The vault clerk turned to his card index as a 
mere matter of form, for he remembered well enough 
Rollie's authorization, and read upon the card of the 
Reverend John Hampstead his signed permission for 
Rollo Charles Burbeck to do with his box " as I might or 
could do if personally present." The clerk stepped inside 
the vault, scanned the numbers and tiers, and thrust his 
master-key into the proper lock. Rollie slipped the 
minister's key into its own place, turned it, and the door 
flew open. The vault clerk returned to his stand outside 
the door. Rollie took the box and walked into one of 
the private rooms provided for the safe deposit patrons. 
In a moment he was ripping open the envelope marked 
" Wadham Currency ", which he found exactly as the 
minister had described it. 

At sight and feeling of the money in his ringers, a 
great wave of hope surged over Rollie. It was a solid 
assurance of escape. With this assurance, there came 
to the young man a sharp, definite impulse to begin at 
once the work of character building. As an initial step, 
he wrote upon one of his personal cards: "I. O. U. 
$1,100," and signed it, not with his initials, but boldly 
in vigorous chirography, to express the stoutness of his 
purpose, with the whole of his name, " Rollo Charles 
Burbeck." When putting this card carefully back in the 
envelope from which he had extracted the currency, and 
placing the envelope on the top of the papers in the box, 
the young man experienced a fine glow of satisfaction. 
He had done a good and honorable act in this bold as- 
sumption of his debt and in thus leaving the written 
record there behind him. 



286 HELD TO ANSWER 

But when Rollie took up the currency from the table 
and slipped the long, thin package into his inside pocket, 
his fingers came in contact with that other envelope, the 
presence of which, under the strain of what he must go 
through this morning, threatened to break down his nerve 
completely. 

With the preacher's box lying there open before him, 
came a sudden inspiration. What safer place for the 
Dounay jewels than in it? Doctor Hampstead's char- 
acter put him absolutely above suspicion. He was the 
one guest at the supper before whose door no process 
of elimination would ever halt to point the finger of sus- 
picion. His box, at the moment, was the safest place in 
the world for the Dounay diamonds. 

Rollie was all alone in the closed room. No glance 
could possibly rest on him; yet, as furtively as if a thou- 
sand eyes were peering, he slipped the envelope contain- 
ing the diamonds from his pocket into the box and heaved 
a sigh of relief when he saw the lid cover the package 
from his sight. Returning to the vault room, he locked 
the box in its chamber and went upstairs to his desk in 
quite his usual debonair manner. 

With a new feeling of confidence which made him bold 
and precise in all his movements, Rollie laid the safe 
deposit key, with its innocent little red rubber band about 
it, exactly in the center of the blotter upon his desk, where 
it might be every moment under his eye. Then, in the 
most casual way in the world, he pinned a penciled note 
to the stack of bills representing the " Wadham cur- 
rency " and sent it by one of the bank messengers across 
the wide aisle to a receiving teller's cage. When it ar- 
rived, the gap in his financial fences had narrowed to 
thirty-one hundred dollars. This lessening of the breach 
increased his self-control and strengthened his resolution. 
He had only to wait now until the minister appeared with 



HIS BRIGHT IDEA 287 

the additional currency, and then at the first opportunity 
he would slip down to the vault, get the diamonds, and 
go straight to Miss Dounay. 

And in the meantime his premonition that reporters 
would lean heavily upon him for information about the 
actress's supper party proved correct. When he talked 
to these reporters, Rollie noticed that it gave him a fresh 
sense of security to let his eye turn occasionally to where 
the little flat key with the red band about it lay upon his 
desk, lay, and almost laughed. It was really such a 
good joke to think where the diamonds were. 

What made this joke better was that each reporter 
shrewdly inquired whether Rollie thought the diamonds 
had actually been stolen, or whether this might not be 
the familiar device of dramatic press agents. Begging 
in each instance that he be not quoted, Rollie admitted 
that of course the whole affair might be no more than the 
latter. 

Yet after the reporters had gone, Rollie wished he had 
not done this. It was clever, but it was not just to the 
woman to whom he was going to make his first exhibition 
of new character by returning her jewels and making a 
plea for mercy. That was not going to be an easy job 
that confession? Besides, everything depended on 
whether she would grant his plea or not. Ruin stared 
again at this angle; for Miss Dounay might hand him 
over to Benson. Once more he had that distasteful 
vision of a chalky head and a suit of stripes. The 
thought produced a physical sensation as if his whole 
body were being stung by nettles. 

But here came a big man down the aisle, his features 
expressing grave consideration, and his gray eyes 
twinkling with evident satisfaction. It was Doctor 
Hampstead. Courage and increase of confidence seemed 
to come into the office with the minister, and more was 



288 HELD TO ANSWER 

imparted by his cordial hand-clasp, as he leaned close and 
asked in a low voice : 

" You got the Wadham currency? " 

" Yes," Rollie answered eagerly and in an excited 
whisper told how he had laid the foundation stone of his 
new character by his I. O. U. left in the place of the 
currency. 

" That is good," agreed the minister, his face beaming. 
"The right start, my boy, exactly." 

Then, with a replica of that smile, sweet as a woman's, 
with which he had two hours before passed over his 
vault key to Rollie, he now placed in his hands an en- 
velope like that which had contained the Wadham cur- 
rency, only thicker. The young man seized it grate- 
fully, but with fingers trembling so he could hardly get 
behind the flap of the envelope. 

" It is there," said the minister, a little gurgle of emo- 
tion in his own throat. 

" It is here," mumbled Rollie woodenly, a surge of 
relief and gratitude rising so high in his breast that it 
felt like a tense hard pain, and for a moment stifled the 
power of speech so that for want of words he reached 
out and touched the hand of the minister caressingly 
with his clammy fingers. 

Hampstead, happier, if possible, than Rollie, under- 
stood his emotion. 

" It's all right," he whispered. " Courage, boy, cour- 
age ! " At the same time he laid a hand upon the young 
man's arm, with a pressure almost of affection. With the 
word and touch came clarity both of thought and feeling. 

" Will you excuse me three or four minutes, Brother 
Hampstead? " Rollie inquired, the sudden leap of joy in 
his heart that the embezzlement was now to be legitimately 
wiped out so great that he could not this time stop to 
send the money across by a messenger. 



HIS BRIGHT IDEA 289 

The minister smiled understandingly, and Rollie 
stepped out of the little gate and across to the teller's 
window. 

When he returned, old J". M. himself had come out of 
his office and was chatting with the minister. There was 
nothing unusual about this, since wherever Hampstead 
went persons of every sort were anxious to get a word 
with him. Presently Parma too joined the group at 
Rollie's desk. Of course the topic of conversation was 
Miss Dounay and her diamonds, for both the president 
and the cashier had learned that the minister and their 
own social ambassador were present at the supper, which 
every hour became more famous. In the midst of this 
conversation, a telephone call for Mr. Manton was 
switched to Rollie's desk. 

" Yes," said the president, talking into the 'phone. 
".We will send a man over to represent us. Are you 
ready now? " 

The bank president hung up the telephone and turned 
to Rollie. " Step right over to the Central Trust, Bur- 
beck, and see us through on those transfers, will you? 
They are waiting now." 

There was nothing for Rollie to do but to go im- 
mediately, much as he desired to whisper one more word 
of gratitude to the minister, and to receive the addi- 
tional installment of moral strength which he felt sure 
would follow from a few quiet minutes with this man 
on whom his soul had begun to lean so heavily. 

" Certainly, Mr. Manton," he answered, and then as 
he reached for his hat, he turned to the minister, saying : 
" Shall I find you here when I return ? " 

" That depends on how long before you return," 
laughed the minister, but the blandness of his expression 
indicated that he was in no hurry, and Rollie went out 
expecting to see him again in a few minutes. 



290 HELD TO ANSWER 

But the matter of the transfers was not so easily dis- 
patched. Over one detail and another the young man 
was held for nearly forty minutes. The delays, too, were 
of that vexatious sort which detained him without em- 
ploying him ; so that most of the irritating interval could 
be and was devoted to a consideration of his own very 
private and very pressing affairs. 

Giving up hope of finding the minister in the bank upon 
his return, he addressed both his thoughts and his fears 
to the subject of Miss Dounay and her diamonds. The 
prospective interview with this passionate, self-willed, 
and no doubt wildly excited woman loomed before him 
oppressively, and the nearer it drew, the more ominous it 
seemed. A man going unarmed to return a stolen cub 
to a tigress in a jungle lair would be going upon a mission 
of peace and safety compared to his. He feared that in 
her passionate vehemence she would never permit him to 
get the full truth before her. How was he to turn aside 
the impact of her sudden burst of rage? She would as- 
sault him tear him ! If that curious Morocco dagger 
he had seen some of the guests fumbling with last night 
were at hand, she might even kill him. 

The idea occurred to him that he had best lie to her, 
or at least begin by lying to her; that he might play the 
role of restorer of her diamonds, and put her under a 
debt of gratitude, explaining that the thief had brought 
them to him to borrow money on them ; then, in the softer 
mood that would come through joy over their prospective 
recovery, he might elaborate the story, touch her sym- 
pathies, and make his full confession. She might even 
be happy enough over their recovery to cease the hunt for 
the criminal, and thus make confession unnecessary. 
That in itself would be a great relief. 

Yet the common sense, if not the moral sense, of the 
young man rejected a proposal to lay the bricks of new- 



HIS BRIGHT IDEA 291 

found honesty in the mortar of a lie. If he were true 
to the trust which Hampstead had reposed in him, he 
would walk straight into Miss Dounay's apartments and 
say, " Here are your diamonds. I am the thief. I throw 
myself upon your mercy ! " This was what he resolved 
to do. 

Reentering the bank, young Burbeck walked first to 
the open door of Air. Manton's office. That gentleman 
was engaged with a caller, but the shadow at the door 
caused his eye to rove in that direction. Rollie waved 
his hand; J. M. nodded. The transfers had been accom- 
plished; the president had taken note of that fact, and 
the assistant cashier's mission was discharged. 

Rollie went immediately to his desk. There was a 
litter of papers representing matters of greater or less 
importance which had required attention during the in- 
terval of his absence from the office. He sifted them 
quickly. Some received his penciled O. K. and went 
into a basket for the messenger; two or three took him 
on errands to other desks about, or to the windows op- 
posite; the rest went into a drawer. He had not re- 
moved his hat from his head, for he proposed to go 
immediately to Miss Dounay before the remnants of his 
fast oozing resolution could entirely trickle away. 

But when he turned to pick up the vault key which his 
eye had seen so many times this morning, it was not at 
hand. He removed everything from the desk, he 
searched every nook and cranny of it. He took up the 
waste-basket, dumped the contents upon his desk, and 
examined every scrap and fold of envelope or paper. 
He even got down upon his knees and made sure the key 
was not upon the carpet, going so far as to move the 
desk. The key had disappeared. He searched his own 
pockets, realizing that when he left the bank that was 
where the key should have been placed. 



292 HELD TO ANSWER 

In the excitement of the moment when Hampstead 
had brought in the money that saved him from being a 
defaulter, and in the disconcerting presence of J. M. 
and Parma, when he wanted to be alone with his bene- 
factor, and especially with the more disconcerting in- 
struction to go out and look after the transfers, he had, 
for the time being, forgotten the key. Now it was not 
to be found. 

Rollie stood nonplussed first, and then aghast. His 
guilty conscience instantly suggested that some one had 
seen or suspected his visit to the vault and what had oc- 
curred there. This idea brought a rush of blood to the 
head. He was dizzy and had almost an attack of vertigo. 
Yet with a few clearing minutes of thought, the explana- 
tion leaped plainly into mind. Doctor Hampstead had 
taken the key. In the interval while Rollie was at the 
teller's window, he must have seen it lying there upon 
the desk, recognized it by the red rubber band, and hav- 
ing been assured that the key had served its purpose, had 
done the perfectly natural thing of dropping it in his 
pocket, and thinking no more of it. 

Where was the minister now ? Until Rollie could find 
him and get the key, he could make no confession to 
Miss Dounay. 



CHAPTER XXVI 

UNEXPECTEDLY EASY 

FOLLOWING his instincts rather than any rule of sense, 
Rollie hurried out upon the street, posted himself upon 
a conspicuous corner, and for several minutes indulged 
the wildly improbable hope that he might spy the minister 
passing in the throng. When a little reflection had con- 
vinced him that this was time wasted, he made a hasty 
inventory of near-by places where his benefactor might 
have gone, and even went so far as to hurriedly visit two 
of them, threading the tables of the Forum Cafe, where 
sometimes Hampstead ate his luncheon, and scanning the 
chairs in the St. Albans barber shop, where from time to 
time the dominie's tawny fleece was shorn. 

But by this time a new probability forced itself into the 
distracted young man's consciousness. This was that 
the minister had gone to pay his sympathetic respects to 
Miss Dounay and condole with her over her loss. Rollie 
was so near the Dounay apartment that to go upstairs 
and inquire if the minister were there would have been 
easy, but the peculiar circumstances made it difficult. 
Indeed only to recall how near he was to that fearsome 
lair of the tigress threw him into cold shivers and made 
him fly to the safer vantage ground of the telephone upon 
his own desk at the bank. But even merely to inquire 
for the Reverend John Hampstead from there was hard. 
In his nervous state, depleted by gloomy forebodings and 
now unfortified by the possession of the diamonds, Rollie 
felt utterly unequal to even a long-distance contact with 
that high-powered personality. All the morning he had 



294 HELD TO ANSWER 

been in terror lest she herself should call him up. AH 
the morning he had known that in his character as an 
interested friend he should have telephoned to her. 
Now, the moment she recognized his voice, he would be 
taxed with this breach! What was he to say? Why, 
that he had not telephoned because he was intending to 
call in at the first moment he could get away from the 
bank, and that he would be up very soon now. She 
would be sarcastic, but the explanation would positively 
have to do. Besides, he had to locate the minister ! and 
so, struggling to command a tone of indifference, he 
gave the St. Albans number. 

Of course Julie or the secretary would answer, any- 
way. But evidently Miss Dounay, in her highly aroused 
mental state, was keeping an ear upon the telephone bell, 
for it was her own animated note that rasped at him 
through the instrument. It appeared, mercifully, that 
she did not recognize his voice, a fact which at first 
relieved him, but on later reflection, at the conclusion of 
the incident, shook his remaining self-confidence still fur- 
ther to pieces, for it showed how completely out of hand 
he had allowed himself to get. 

When, moreover, Rollie launched his timid inquiry if 
the Reverend John Hampstead was there, he got a nega- 
tive so sharp that the receiver seemed to bite his ear. He 
broke the connection hastily and sat eyeing the telephone 
apprehensively, expecting the mouthpiece to open like 
a solemn eye, scan him inquiringly, and report to Miss 
Dounay. When it did not, he shrugged his shoulders 
and elongated his neck to get rid of that noose-like feel- 
ing which had just come upon him from nowhere. He 
had not killed anybody. ,What was the noose for, then ? 
But this reflection got a most disagreeable answer : " It 
would kill your mother to know you are an embezzler 
and a thief. You would then be her murderer." Again 



UNEXPECTEDLY EASY 295 

he shrugged himself free of the distasteful sensation. 
" Buck up, Burbeck," he commanded himself, " or you 
are done for." Once more he grabbed the telephone, 
and this time more determinedly, for in the midst of his 
misery one really first-class inspiration had come to him : 
this was to communicate with the county jail. The 
minister was really much more likely to have friends in 
the county jail than in the St. Albans; and it was a safe 
wager that he went there more frequently. Rollie knew 
the jailer well. 

"Hello Sam," he called. "This is Rollie. Has 
Doctor Hampstead been there this morning?" 

"Yeh!" 

"There now?" 

" Nope." 

" Know where he went? " 

Evidently Sam turned to some one else in the room for 
information. Rollie heard a voice answering him and 
caught the words " San Francisco " and " Red Lizard." 

" Did you get that ? " called Sam into the 'phone. 
" He's gone to San Francisco." 

"Yes, but what's that got to do with the Red 
Lizard?" 

" He came down to see the Red Lizard." 

" The Red Lizard ! " Rollie could not restrain a gasp, 
and then wondered if gasps are transmitted over the tele- 
phone but went on to ask : " Is the Red Lizard in ? " 

"Yeh!" 

"What for?" 

Rollie was clinging to the telephone now like a drown- 
ing man to a rope's end. 

" He got in some kind of a row with a service elevator 
man at the St. Albans last night and landed on him with 
the brass knucks. This morning the judge gave him 
three months in the county." 



296 HELD TO ANSWER 

Rollie clenched his teeth, and his shoulders rocked for 
a moment. So that was what happened to the Red 
Lizard ! What a long time ago last night w r as ! How 
many things had happened ! Last night he was a crook 
and a defaulter. To-day he was an honest man, and his 
accounts would bear the scrutiny of an X-ray. Now if 
only those diamonds 

But Sam had gone right on talking. 

" We think Doctor Hampstead went to San Francisco 
on some sort of errand for the Lizard Red's got a 
woman sick over there or something. But, say, the par- 
son telephoned his house before he left here, and they can 
tell you sure." 

"All right, thanks." 

"So long, Rollie!" 

Gone to San Francisco! Worse and worse. Rollie 
huddled in his chair. But there was still a grain of hope. 
Sam might be mistaken, or the trip might be a short one, 
or the minister might have left a telephone number that 
would reach him. 

But the voice of Rose Langham dashed these hopes 
one by one. Her brother had gone to San Francisco on 
an uncertain quest ; he would not be back until very late 
at night, and he had no idea himself where in the city his 
search would lead him. 

For the second time that day Rollie found himself in 
a state bordering on physical collapse. The very stars 
were fighting against him. After the strain of a year 
in which the fear of detection, however masked, had al- 
ways been present, his nerves were in none too good con- 
dition, anyway. The events of the last twenty-four 
hours had racked them to the limit of self-control. And 
yet, when safely past the danger of discovery of his 
defalcation, the growing sense of the enormity of the 
crime of theft had brought him to a point where in sheer 



UNEXPECTEDLY EASY 297 

self-defense he felt he must seize the jewels and literally 
fling them at their owner. Now, goaded, tricked, tan- 
talized, defeated everything was in . a conspiracy 
against him! It was enough to drive a man insane. 
Burbeck felt himself very near the maniacal point. 
Again he was seeing things. One moment the street out- 
side was full of patrol wagons, all ringing their gongs at 
once, while platoons of police were marching and sur- 
rounding the bank. Another moment he had decided to 
anticipate the police by rushing out to the corner by the 
plaza, tossing his hat high in the air, and shouting and 
shrieking until a crowd had gathered, when he would 
exhibit the diamonds and proclaim himself the thief. 

But he was spared the possibility of this insane freak 
by the fact that he could not exhibit the diamonds. They 
were in the vault. Damn the vault ! To hell with them ! 
To hell with everything! To hell with himself! That 
was where he was going! 

Suddenly he looked up, trembling. Mercer, the as- 
sistant cashier whose desk was next to his own, must 
have overheard him. But no, Mercer was calmly writ- 
ing. He had heard nothing, because nothing had been 
spoken. Rollie had been thinking in shouts, not speak- 
ing. And yet he looked about him wonderingly, like a 
man coming out of a temporary aberration. 

" I will be shouting it next," he said to himself. " I 
am getting dotty; I'll burst if I have to hold this much 
longer. I'll burst and give the whole thing away." 

His hat had been pushed back from his brow ; he drew 
it forward and down until it shaded his face, and then 
with his jaws set in the most determined mood he could 
muster, he walked out of the bank and piloted his steps, 
with knees that were sometimes stiff and sometimes tot- 
tering, in the direction of the Hotel St. Albans. 

Without waiting to be announced, he went up and 



298 HELD TO ANSWER 

knocked at the door of Miss Dounay's apartment. It 
was opened a mere crack to reveal a nose and a bit of 
an eyebrow. This facial fragment belonged to Julie, 
and with it she managed to convey an expression at once 
forbidding and inquisitorial. 

" Oh, la la ! " she exclaimed, after her survey. " It is 
the handsome man. Come in," and the door swung wide. 
" Madame will be glad to see you. Perhaps you bring 
the diamonds." 

Julie said all this in her slight but charming accent 
with an attempt at good-humored vivacity, but that last 
was a very embarrassing remark to a caller in young 
Mr. Burbeck's delicate position. It caused one of his 
knees to knock sharply against the other as he manceu- 
vered to a position where he could lean against a heavy 
William-and-Mary chair, and thus remain standing until 
Miss Dounay should enter the room; since to sit down 
and then rise again suddenly was a feat that promised 
to be entirely beyond him. 

Moreover, light as had been Julie's manner, Rollie 
saw that her appearance belied it. Her eyes were red, 
her sharp little nose was also highly colored, and in her 
hand was a tight ball of a handkerchief that had been 
wetted to such compactness by tears. 

Mercifully Miss Dounay did not leave time for the 
young man's apprehensions to increase. She entered al- 
most as Julie disappeared, wearing something black and 
oddly cut, a baggy thing, like a gown he remembered 
once seeing upon a sculptress when at work in her studio. 
It was the nearest to an unbecoming garb that he had 
ever known Marien to wear, and yet unbecoming was 
hardly the word. It did become her mood, which was 
somber. Her face was pale, and there were shadows 
beneath her eyes. She looked subdued, defeated even; 
but by no means broken. There were hard lines about 



UNEXPECTEDLY EASY 299 

her mouth, lines which Rollie had never seen there before. 
She wore a sullen expression, and a passion that was 
volcanic appeared to smoulder in her eyes. She greeted 
him rather perfunctorily, as if her mind had been brood- 
ing and, after bidding him be seated and sinking herself 
upon a couch, cushion-piled as usual, shrouded herself 
again in a state of aloofness which reminded him of the 
weather when a storm is brooding. 

Rollie had expected her to be raging like a wild woman, 
alternately hurling anathemas at the thief for having 
stolen her gems and heaping denunciations upon the po- 
lice because they had not already captured the criminal 
and recovered the necklace. 

Her apparent indifference to that subject only empha- 
sized to Rollie what he had before observed, that it 
was impossible ever to forecast the mind of this woman 
upon any subject, or under any circumstances. At the 
same time, the young man was extremely grateful for 
this abstraction, because it made what he had to do vastly 
easier. 

" I suppose," he ventured huskily, " you are worried to 
death about your diamonds." 

The sentence drew one lightning flash from her eyes, 
and that was all. 

" To tell you the truth, I have hardly thought of them," 
she snapped. 

Rollie sat with open mouth, totally unable to compre- 
hend, staring until his stare annoyed her. 

" I say I have hardly thought of them," she repeated, 
with an asperity entirely sufficient to recall the young 
man from his amazement at her manner to the real object 
of his visit. 

" But wouldn't you like to get your diamonds back? " 
he asked perspiringly. 

"Of course, silly!" the actress replied, not bothering 



300 HELD TO ANSWER 

to conceal the fact that she regarded Burbeck as a child, 
sometimes useful and sometimes a nuisance. Appar- 
ently, she had hailed his advent because her ill humor 
required a fresh butt, Julie's face having indicated 
clearly that she had been made to suffer to the breaking 
point. 

But Rollie was in no position to insist upon niceties of 
speech or manner. He had a trouble compared to which 
all other troubles of which he had ever conceived were 
nothing at all. He was haunted by a terrible fear, and 
to escape its torture he plumped full in the face of it by 
blurting : 

" I have come to tell you that you are going to get 
your diamonds back." 

If Marien's demeanor were a pose, it must have 
proved that she really was what her press agents claimed, 
the greatest actress on the English speaking stage. 
She did not start, or speak. For a few seconds not even 
the direction of her glance was changed. Then her face 
did shift sufficiently for the black piercing eyes to stab 
straight into Rollie's, while her brows were lifted in- 
quiringly. The glance said, " Well, go on ! " 

The young man obeyed desperately : " I am an am- 
bassador for the " 

Still Miss Dounay did not speak; she did not move 
nor change an expression even; and yet Rollie felt him- 
self interrupted. He could not tell how this was done, 
but he was sure that this woman had detected him in the 
first note of insincerity and by a thought- wave had em- 
phatically said, " Don't lie to me ! " 

All at once, too, he realized that this motionless, mar- 
ble-lipped creature sitting there before him was more 
implacable, more potential for evil than the raging tigress 
he had expected to confront. He felt somehow that she 
was not a woman, but a super-devil into whose clutches 



UNEXPECTEDLY EASY 301 

he was being drawn. He even had a sense that he was 
not going to be allowed any increased issue of moral 
stock on the ground of telling this woman the truth. He 
was going to tell her the truth because he had to, because 
she hypnotized it out of him. 

" I say," he began, and stopped to wet his lips, but 
found his tongue so furred that it could not function in 
that behalf. " I say," he went on again, croaking 
hoarsely, " that I am the thief." 
'"You? The banker?" 

Rollie fell to wondering how blue vitriol bites. Cer- 
tainly it could not be more biting than the sarcasm in 
look and tone with which the woman had asked this 
question. 

" Yes, I " 

The young man was going to prepare the soil for 
throwing himself upon her mercy this woman whom 
he was now positive knew no such thing as mercy by 
telling her about his defalcation; but in the wooden state 
of his mind, one quivering gleam of intelligence sug- 
gested that it was quite unnecessary to tell her anything 
about his defalcation; that it might give her an added 
set of pincers for the torture she might choose to inflict. 

" Yes, I stole them," he affirmed doggedly. " And I 
am going to bring them back." 

" Going to ? " she asked, again making the fine shade 
of her meaning clear with the slightest expenditure of 
sound. 

" Yes, a little accident happened." 

" An accident ! " The woman's eyes blazed, her cheeks 
were aflame, and her whole attitude expressive of menace. 
"You didn't lose them?" 

" I only lost control of them for a few hours through 
a bit of stupidity," he confessed, and hurried on to ex- 
plain : " For safe keeping this morning I locked them 



302 HELD TO ANSWER 

in John Hampstead's safe deposit box, and he went off 
with the key. He's wandering around the tenderloin of 
San Francisco now on an errand for a man in the county 
jail, and they don't even expect him home before to- 
morrow morning. We can get them " 

Again Rollie felt himself mentally interrupted, al- 
though Miss Dounay had not spoken. 

This time, however, her features did change unmis- 
takably. She had been listening with a cynical expres- 
sion that somehow suggested the manner of a cat about 
to pounce; and suddenly this manner had departed. It 
was succeeded by a look of surprise and then of thought- 
ful interest, followed by that indefinable something which 
bade him cease to speak. He paused abruptly with his 
tongue in air, as it were; yet she neither spoke nor 
looked at him. Her features were a sort of moving 
picture of complex and swift-flying mental processes 
which succeeded one another with astonishing rapidity 
and ended in a queer expression of glory and triumph, 
while she stiffened her body and drew a full breath so 
quickly that the air whistled in her narrowing nostrils. 

Then, as if becoming suddenly aware of the visitor's 
presence, Miss Dounay turned her eyes directly upon him 
and exclaimed, with a manner quite the most pleasant 
she had yet displayed: 

" Oh, I beg your pardon, Mr. Burbeck. Something 
you said started such an interesting train of thought." 

Her cordiality extended to the point of reaching out 
a hand and laying it reassuringly upon Rollie's arm, while 
she asked, and this time with a tone of real consideration : 

" Will you be kind enough to tell me again, very care- 
fully, and a little more in detail, just why you couldn't 
bring the diamonds to-day ? " 

Rollie, greatly relieved at this softening in Marien's 
mood at the very point where he had feared she might 



UNEXPECTEDLY EASY 303 

actually leap on him and throttle him, retold the story, 
only being careful to omit all reference as to why he 
chanced to be visiting Doctor Hampstead's box, and why 
Doctor Hampstead happened to come into his office so 
that he might pick up the key, as he did. 

" What an odd coincidence ! " commented Marien, 
when the recital was finished. Actually, she was laugh- 
ing. Rollie's heart went out to her completely. He felt 
a sting of self-reproach at the harshness of his judgment 
of her, and was sensible of a new charity growing in his 
life for all mankind. It was really going to be made 
easy for him to take " the way up." He felt like sing- 
ing a little psalm of thanksgiving. 

" And the minister has no idea that the diamonds are 
in his vault ? " that mercurial lady inquired, with a 
chuckle. 

" Not the least in the world," assured Rollie, anxious 
to relieve his benefactor of any slightest odium of indis- 
cretion. 

" And when did you say Doctor Hampstead was ex- 
pected home from San Francisco ? " 

Miss Dounay had stopped laughing and had an intent 
look, as if desiring to understand something very clearly. 

" Perhaps the last boat to-night possibly not till to- 
morrow morning." 

' Then there is no way of getting the jewels until 
to-morrow morning?" 

" None at all," confessed Rollie. " But as a matter of 
fact, they are perfectly safe there safer than they are 
in your own apartment." 

" So I should say," Miss Dounay observed dryly, " un- 
less I revise my guest list." 

Rollie flushed. 

" That was coming to me," he confessed, frowning at 
himself. " That and much more." 



304 HELD TO ANSWER 

His tone was serious and full of bitter self-reproach. 
Miss Dounay's surprisingly indulgent attitude embold- 
ened him to pursue the disagreeable subject farther. 

" I have not told you," he went on, " that I came to 
ask you for mercy." 

" Do you not perceive that you are getting it without 
asking?" the actress replied, with a liquid glance that 
was really full of gentleness and sympathy. 

" Of course," Rollie averred. " But I am so grateful 
that I did not want you to think I could take it for 
granted. I was in a terrible position, Miss Dounay. 
The crime was not accidental, but deliberate ; that it mis- 
carried was the accident. But that your diamonds are 
to be restored to you, and that I myself am on my way 
to a sort of character restoration, if I ever had any, 
which I begin to doubt, is all due to one good friend 
whom I saw to-day, and who is also a good friend of 
yours." 

Again Rollie was interrupted; but this time there was 
nothing intangible about it. 

Miss Dounay's face grew suddenly hard; cruel lines 
that were tense and threatening appeared about her 
mouth, while her eyes bored straight into his, as she ex- 
claimed : " Never mind about that now. As for the 
theft: you need never hear from me one word about 
what you have done. The only injunction that I lay 
upon you is to keep absolute silence about it yourself. 
Remember, no matter what comes to pass, you know 
nothing and have nothing to say. So long as you are 
silent, I will protect you absolutely. Break the silence, 
and you will go where you belong! " 

Of all the hard glances Miss Dounay had given young 
Burbeck, the look which accompanied this last menacing 
sentence was positively the hardest. A spasm of mortal 
terror wrung the young man's heart, as he saw how de- 



UNEXPECTEDLY EASY 305 

liberately implacable this woman could be, and how com- 
pletely he was in her power. 

But presently, Miss Dounay, as if suddenly ashamed 
of her outburst of feeling over so slight an occasion, 
broke into radiant smiles, took Rollie by the arm, and 
led him a few steps in the direction of the door. Her 
manner was gracious and almost affectionate, proclaim- 
ing that at least as long as all went well with her moods, 
the whole wretched incident was past and forgotten ab- 
solutely. 

As if to make this emphatically clear, she inquired: 

" And when is it that you go out with Mrs. Ellsworth 
Harrington upon her launch party? " 

"With Mrs. Harrington's launch party?" Rollie 
asked, in a dazed voice, his mind groping as at some 
elusive memory. 

" Yes," the actress replied crisply. " You told me 
yesterday you were going out to-day with her party for 
a cruise on the Bay." 

" Yesterday! " confessed Rollie dreamily. " By Jove, 
so I did. But," and as though it made all the differ- 
ence in the world, "that was yesterday!" 

"And isn't to-day to-day?" Miss Dounay asked sig- 
nificantly. "Going to buck up, aren't you?" she con- 
tinued with intimate friendliness of tone. " You are 
still to continue as the Amalgamated's social ambas- 
sador?" 

" Why, of course," the young man replied, although 
weakly, for after what he had passed through of hope 
and fear in the past few hours and even the past few 
minutes, he felt quite unequal to any such prospect as 
the immediate resumption of his social duties. 

But it was a part of the swiftly forming plans of the 
strong willed woman that he should take them up im- 
mediately, and she cleverly recalled his mind to the 



3 o6 HELD TO ANSWER 

necessity of special attention to Mrs. Harrington's 
projects by inquiring tentatively: "I suppose Mrs. 
Harrington was very much put out because I did not 
attend her dinner last night?" 

" I should say ! " confessed Rollie, turning a wry face 
at the memory. 

" Suppose," suggested Miss Dounay in calculating- 
tones, " that I went with you upon her launch party this 
afternoon." 

"You? Oh! Miss Dounay!" Rollo exclaimed, with 
another of his looks of dog-like gratefulness. " Could 
you be as good as that ? Why, say ! " and the young 
'man's enthusiasm actually began to kindle. "You'd 
undo the damage of last night and fix me with her for 
life. Positively for life; because," and he hesitated 
while an expression half ludicrous and half painful 
crossed his face; "because you are ten times as big a 
social asset now that that " he could not bring him- 
self to finish the sentence. 

But Miss Dounay relieved him of his embarrassment 
by appearing not to notice and broke in with a practical 
question : 

" What time does the launch leave the pier ? " 

" At four. It is now one-thirty." 

For a moment Miss Dounay's brow was threaded with 
lines of thought, as if she were making calculations and 
tying the loose ends of some project together in her 
mind. 

" Yes," she said, her face clearing and a look of impish 
happiness coming into her eyes, " I can go. It will be 
a delightful relief. I have been bored beyond measure 
by my own company to-day. Come here at three-thirty 
and Francois will take us to the pier." 



CHAPTER XXVII 

THE FIRST ALARM 

DOCTOR HAMPSTEAD was more successful than he had 
dared to hope in his quest for the woman of the under- 
world to whom the Red Lizard, from his position in the 
county jail, acknowledged a tardy obligation. By five 
o'clock the sufferer was located, her condition inquired 
into, and the services of a nurse from the Social Set- 
tlement near by arranged for, with instructions that 
the minister be notified of any serious change in the pa- 
tient's condition. 

His breast warmed comfortably with the sense of duty 
done, the clergyman made his way toward the water 
front, congratulating himself that he would get the six 
o'clock boat and be at home in time for dinner ; but as he 
walked through the ferry building, his eye was caught 
by a headline in one of the evening papers. " MIN- 
ISTER TO BE ARRESTED" it proclaimed in tall 
characters of glaring black; and he reflected cynically 
at the eagerness with which the headline makers seize 
upon that word " minister " or any of its synonyms. It 
made the black letters blacker when they spelled min- 
ister, priest, or clergyman. 

Wondering what preacher could have got himself in 
trouble, and feeling a slight sense of resentment at the 
creature, whoever he might be, to have thus brought 
notoriety and possible dishonor upon the calling, Doctor 
Hampstead bought a copy of the paper from fat Her- 
mann of the crutch and red face, who has stood so 
many years at the ferry gate; but reading no farther 



3 o8 HELD TO ANSWER 

than the headline, he doubled the paper in his hand and 
elbowed his way through the crowd to a seat on the ex- 
posed upper deck of the ferryboat. Wearied from the 
exertions of his day, the minister found temporary diver- 
sion in watching the fountains of humanity gushing up 
the stairways. Many of the people he knew, and those 
who saw him nodded as they passed. Once or twice it 
struck him that there was something peculiar in these 
glances of recognition, a startled look of surprise or 
wonder that he could not quite understand. Occasion- 
ally the bold look of a man he did not know but who 
apparently recognized him had in it a quality of cynicism 
or of gloating. 

With a disagreeable feeling of embarrassment which 
he did not undertake to explain, the minister turned away 
from the crowd and fell to watching the sweep of bay 
and the plowing craft upon it. The fresh salt breeze 
was very grateful to his face and lungs after the noisome 
alleys through which his mission had taken him. The 
water this evening was amethyst blue, and under the 
prows of the passing boats broke into foam of marble 
whiteness. The sky above was a pure turquoise, except 
towards the west, where the descending sun kindled a 
conflagration of glory in the low-lying clouds. All this 
wealth of refreshing color and the tonic in the stiffening 
breeze made the world not only seem fresh and pure, but 
full of power; as if to give assurance that the ocean and 
the coming night were big enough and strong enough 
to swallow all the unpleasantness and all the weakness 
and wickedness of men, and send the sun up to-morrow 
morning upon a new day that was fresh and pristine, 
like the day of creation itself. 

Hampstead remembered his prayer of the morning that 
this particular day might be a great one, and felt a 
trifle disappointed. In a kind of a way it had been big. 



THE FIRST ALARM 309 

Rollie Burbeck had come to him, broken and cowering. 
He had helped him; he believed he had saved him. 
Surely, for the time being, he had saved that gifted 
mother of his from the awful shock of knowing that her 
son was a defaulter and a thief. True, he had plunged 
heavily in rescuing that boy; yet the money came from 
people who believed in Hampstead sufficiently to give 
him of their surplus wealth for just such ventures. If 
the effort failed, they would regret the loss of the man 
more than the loss of the money. 

Yet the minister really believed that Rollie was going 
to take the " way up ", and assuring himself once more 
of this, fell to wondering how Miss Dounay received the 
penitent when he brought back the diamonds, and 
whether she had acted generously or spitefully. Specu- 
lating next whether the story of the return of the dia- 
monds had been given to the newspapers yet, and anx- 
ious to know how they had handled it, if it had, Hamp- 
stead bethought him of the paper in his hand and un- 
folded it for inspection. 

But the make-up of the front page forced his atten- 
tion back upon the matter of the minister who was to be 
arrested. The sub-head startled him, for it contained 
his own name, while the opening sentence revealed that 
it was himself who was to be arrested, and that the 
occasion of the arrest was the charge that he had stolen 
the Dounay diamonds. 

At the first impact of this astounding piece of news, an 
exclamation of amazement broke from the minister's 
lips; but immediately his teeth were set hard as his eye 
dived down the column, lapping up the words of the 
story by sentences and almost by paragraphs. 

Miss Dounay, it appeared, had gone to the office of 
District Attorney Miller at three o'clock that afternoon 
by appointment, and had there sworn to a complaint, 



310 HELD TO ANSWER 

charging him, the Reverend John Hampstead, with the 
theft of her diamond necklace, valued at twenty-two 
thousand dollars. There were a few lines of an inter- 
view with District Attorney Miller, in which that offi- 
cial stated that at first he had not regarded Miss Dounay's 
charges seriously, but that the actress was so emphatic 
in her demand for the warrant of arrest that he had not 
felt himself justified in refusing it. At the same time, 
the District Attorney expressed his personal belief in the 
innocence of the minister. 

An attempt to serve the warrant immediately, the story 
said, had been frustrated by the temporary absence of the 
Reverend Hampstead in San Francisco upon one of his 
accustomed missions of mercy. 

The article concluded with the statement that while it 
was generally known that Doctor Hampstead was one 
of Miss Dounay's guests on the night before, the report 
that he had been charged with the theft of the diamonds 
was everywhere received with a smile, and there was 
some harsh criticism of the District Attorney for issuing 
a complaint, the only effect of which must be to gratify 
the enemies of the clergyman, and to lessen his influence, 
thus hampering him in the good work he was doing in 
the community. This would be all to no purpose, since 
even a preliminary hearing must be sufficient to show 
that there was no evidence against him, and that the 
complaint itself was due to the extravagant suspicion of 
a highly nervous woman, laboring under great emotional 
strain. 

That the actress herself, a woman of moods and ca- 
prices, had no adequate appreciation of the seriousness of 
her act in thus attacking the character of Doctor Hamp- 
stead was made evident to the reporters, when a tele- 
phone call to her apartments revealed that in the very 
hour when an endeavor to serve the warrant of arrest 



THE FIRST ALARM 311 

was being made, the actress was leaving her hotel in the 
company of a well-known young business man for a 
pleasure cruise upon the Bay. 

The minister saw with satisfaction how completely the 
facts as developed had been edited into a story, the as- 
sumptions of which were entirely favorable to him. 
That was good. It was also right. That in itself would 
show this reckless woman that the people would refuse 
to believe ill of him upon the word of any mere stranger. 

Nevertheless, reflection on the sheer impudence of the 
woman's attack made Hampstead angry, and with a 
quick, nervous movement he crushed the paper into a 
ball and hurled it over the side. 

Was there ever a story of blacker ingratitude? Was 
there ever a weaker, more craven specimen of a man? 
Was there ever a more clever, more devilish woman ? 

So this was the way she made good her threat. She 
had set this trap, had persuaded Rollie to pretend to steal 
the diamonds and to make a false confession to him, 
during which the minister had actually sealed the dia- 
monds in one of his own envelopes. John wished he 
could be sure whether the young rascal actually took 
the diamonds away with him, as he appeared to do, or 
whether he didn't drop them in a drawer of the desk 
or about the study, where a search would reveal them. 

With facial expression quite unministerial Hamp- 
stead's mind raced on to the question whether the story 
of the defalcation was also trumped up? But at this 
point his excited mental processes halted, puzzled for a 
moment; and then abruptly his face cleared, as he saw 
the untenableness of his suddenly conceived theory. No ; 
it would not do. Rollie had undoubtedly been perfectly 
sincere, and this scheming Jezebel of a woman had merely 
taken advantage of him in the moment of confession, 
and made him either consciously or unconsciously, and 



314 HELD TO ANSWER 

he could form of what the strain would be like, he felt 
equal to the load. In the consciousness of this strength, 
his shoulders stiffened with pride and a sort of eagerness 
to take up their burden. A sense of triumph even came 
to him. This self-deluding woman should see how 
strong he was, and how unshakable was the faith of the 
community in the integrity of his character. 

But when the minister, rather calmed by having hard- 
ened himself thus against what appeared to be coming 
upon him, lifted his eyes suddenly from the deck, he 
was disconcerted to observe a group of people eyeing 
him curiously at a distance of some dozen or twenty feet. 
These were people whom he did not recognize, but some 
one of them evidently knew him and had pointed him out 
to the rest. He reflected that they must have been 
watching him for some time. No doubt they had ob- 
served his demeanor as he read the paper, and after- 
wards when he tossed it away in anger. He must have 
made quite an exhibition of himself, and it gave him a 
creepy sensation to catch these curious, unfeeling eyes 
upon him as if they viewed the struggles of a fly in a 
spider's web. It made him feel that he was entangled, 
and he began to realize what a diversion his entanglement 
would afford this whole metropolitan community, and 
that to-night, through the headlines in the papers, every- 
body was watching him just as these people were. He 
reflected, too, that there is a fascination about watching 
the fall of a tall tree, of a tall flagpole, or of a tall human 
being. At the moment Hampstead did not feel so very 
tall; yet he knew that deservedly or undeservedly, he 
was upon a position of eminence, and his fall would 
afford an interesting spectacle. 

However, he did not intend to fall. Rising vigorously 
from his seat, the minister confronted with a smile the 
group who had been gazing at him. " Good evening, 



THE FIRST ALARM 315 

gentlemen," he said pleasantly, and walked toward the 
front of the boat. 

" Some nerve, what ! " was a comment that broke out 
of the group as he passed it. Whether the words were 
meant for his ears or not, they reached them and caused 
another smile. 

" I'll show them nerve ! " he mused, with foolish but 
very human pride. 

Mingling in the crowd which trampled and elbowed its 
way off the boat, the minister was careful to bear himself 
with open-eyed good cheer. He kept his chin up, a self- 
confident smile upon his face, and his eyes roving for a 
sight of familiar faces. Whenever he caught the eye 
of an acquaintance, the greeting he bestowed was hearty 
and betokened a man without the slightest cause for anx- 
iety of any sort. 

Nevertheless, it was disturbing to perceive that people 
rather avoided his eye. Generally quite the reverse was 
true, and it was rare upon the boat that some one did not 
approach him and fall into conversation. Yet so subtle 
is that mysterious psychology of the social impulse that 
now a mere publication of the fact that he was to be 
arrested, even accompanied, as it was, by the statement 
that nobody believed him guilty, had yet sufficient influ- 
ence to make him shunned. What a silly world it was, 
after all! 

But in making the transfer from the ferry to the sub- 
urban train, there was a walk of two hundred feet, with 
a news stand on the way, and then fresh disillusionment 
lay in wait for Doctor Hampstead, in the form of a later 
edition of another Oakland paper. 

" CLERIC FLIES ARREST," bawled this headline 
stridently. 

The minister's lip curled sarcastically at sight of this, 
but he bought the paper, reading as he walked to the 



314 HELD TO ANSWER 

he could form of what the strain would be like, he felt 
equal to the load. In the consciousness of this strength, 
his shoulders stiffened with pride and a sort of eagerness 
to take up their burden. A sense of triumph even came 
to him. This self-deluding woman should see how 
strong he was, and how unshakable was the faith of the 
community in the integrity of his character. 

But when the minister, rather calmed by having hard- 
ened himself thus against what appeared to be coming 
upon him, lifted his eyes suddenly from the deck, he 
was disconcerted to observe a group of people eyeing 
him curiously at a distance of some dozen or twenty feet. 
These were people whom he did not recognize, but some 
one of them evidently knew him and had pointed him out 
to the rest. He reflected that they must have been 
watching him for some time. No doubt they had ob- 
served his demeanor as he read the paper, and after- 
wards when he tossed it away in anger. He must have 
made quite an exhibition of himself, and it gave him a 
creepy sensation to catch these curious, unfeeling eyes 
upon him as if they viewed the struggles of a fly in a 
spider's web. It made him feel that he was entangled, 
and he began to realize what a diversion his entanglement 
would afford this whole metropolitan community, and 
that to-night, through the headlines in the papers, every- 
body was watching him just as these people were. He 
reflected, too, that there is a fascination about watching 
the fall of a tall tree, of a tall flagpole, or of a tall human 
being. At the moment Hampstead did not feel so very 
tall; yet he knew that deservedly or undeservedly, he 
was upon a position of eminence, and his fall would 
afford an interesting spectacle. 

However, he did not intend to fall. Rising vigorously 
from his seat, the minister confronted with a smile the 
group who had been gazing at him. " Good evening, 



THE FIRST ALARM 315 

gentlemen," he said pleasantly, and walked toward the 
front of the boat. 

" Some nerve, what ! " was a comment that broke out 
of the group as he passed it. Whether the words were 
meant for his ears or not, they reached them and caused 
another smile. 

" I'll show them nerve ! " he mused, with foolish but 
very human pride. 

Mingling in the crowd which trampled and elbowed its 
way off the boat, the minister was careful to bear himself 
with open-eyed good cheer. He kept his chin up, a self- 
confident smile upon his face, and his eyes roving for a 
sight of familiar faces. Whenever he caught the eye 
of an acquaintance, the greeting he bestowed was hearty 
and betokened a man without the slightest cause for anx- 
iety of any sort. 

Nevertheless, it was disturbing to perceive that people 
rather avoided his eye. Generally quite the reverse was 
true, and it was rare upon the boat that some one did not 
approach him and fall into conversation. Yet so subtle 
is that mysterious psychology of the social impulse that 
now a mere publication of the fact that he was to be 
arrested, even accompanied, as it was, by the statement 
that nobody believed him guilty, had yet sufficient influ- 
ence to make him shunned. What a silly world it was, 
after all! 

But in making the transfer from the ferry to the sub- 
urban train, there was a walk of two hundred feet, with 
a news stand on the way, and then fresh disillusionment 
lay in wait for Doctor Hampstead, in the form of a later 
edition of another Oakland paper. 

" CLERIC FLIES ARREST," bawled this headline 
stridently. 

The minister's lip curled sarcastically at sight of this, 
but he bought the paper, reading as he walked to the 



316 HELD TO ANSWER 

car steps. But the sub-head was more disturbing. 
41 Hampstead's Premises Searched," it declared, the types 
seeming to scream the words exultantly. 

Searched and in his absence ! This was outrageous ! 
More; it was alarming, for there were papers in his 
study which he had good reason for keeping from the 
eyes of the police. Fortunately, however, the most im- 
portant of these were in the safe deposit box. He felt 
deeply grateful now for this box, the key to which was 
in his pocket ; and after a sympathetic thought for Rose, 
Dick, and Tayna, and the excited, bewildered state in 
which they must have received the officers, the clergyman 
turned his mind to a contemplation of this new account 
in detail, and thereby got his first real taste of what an 
unfriendly attitude on the part of a newspaper can make 
of the most innocent circumstances. 

Up to now, the minister, his utterances, his denuncia- 
tions, even his moral crusades, had been popular. The 
papers had put the most favorable construction upon all 
his acts. Their columns and their headlines had done 
him respect and honor. But now this paper had put 
every circumstance in the worst possible light. It 
cleverly touched up those scenes in the picture which 
looked incriminating and left the others unillumined, until 
one would never gather from the story that there was any 
reason to doubt the guilt or the guilty flight of the min- 
ister. 

Hampstead attributed this to mere unfriendliness, never 
suspecting that in one hour between editions an editor 
could have subtly sensed a popular readiness to accept 
the worst view of his case, and deliberately pandered 
to it as a mere matter of commercial newsmongering ; 
nor that this unfavorable account was to be accepted as 
the first straw blown up in a hurricane of adverse criti- 
cism which would rise and sweep over the city and 



THE FIRST ALARM 317 

blow its very hardest in the aisles of All People's Church 
itself. 

The effect of this narrative upon Hampstead's mind 
was unspeakably oppressive, and he looked up from its 
perusal with relief and pleasure at finding a well-known 
physician in the seat beside him. The doctor was prom- 
inent in the work of one of the Encina churches, and 
had been particularly sympathetic with Hampstead in 
campaigns against petty crime. The minister had a 
right, therefore, to feel that this man was one of his 
friends; yet the physician greeted him with a self-con- 
scious air and immediately relapsed into silence. Hamp- 
stead endured this until the humor of the situation forced 
itself upon him. 

" Oh, cheer up," he laughed, poking the physician with 
an elbow. " You probably know worse people than dia- 
mond thieves." 

The doctor also laughed and disclaimed any sense of 
gloom, but his was an embarrassed merriment, and he 
refrained from meeting the eye of the minister. How- 
ever, after another interval of silence, as if feeling that 
he should at any rate say something, he reached over and 
laid a patronizing hand upon the minister's knee. 

"Of course, Doctor Hampstead," he suggested, " every 
one is confident you will be able to prove your innocence." 

The minister made an ejaculation that was short and 
sharp. 

The doctor looked at him with surprise, as if ques- 
tioning whether he heard aright. 

" Under the law, I thought a man was presumed to be 
innocent, and that his accusers had to prove his guilt," 
went on Hampstead. 

The doctor flushed slightly, and while his eyes roved 
through the car window, declared: 

" Well, I am afraid, Doctor Hampstead, you will find 



3 i8 HELD TO ANSWER 

that a public man against whom a charge like this is 
hurled is presumed to be guilty until he proves himself 
innocent." 

"That is your attitude?" inquired Hampstead coldly. 

" Oh, by no means," protested the physician. 

" It is his attitude all the same," commented the min- 
ister to himself, somewhat bitterly, as he descended from 
the train at the station nearest his home. 

" How does he take it ? " asked one sage citizen, crowd- 
ing into the vacant seat beside the physician, while a 
second leaned over from behind to hear the answer. 

" Very much worried," replied the doctor, as gravely 
and as oracularly as he would have pronounced upon 
another man's patient. " Very much worried ! " 

" Would you believe," the physician inquired presently 
of the first citizen, with a hesitating and extremely con- 
fidential air, " would you believe that Doctor Hamp- 
stead would say ' hell ' outside of a sermon, I mean? " 

" No," answered the man addressed, " I would not," 
and his eyebrows were lifted, while his whole face ex-. 
pressed surprise, shock, and a desire for confirmation. 

" Well," concluded the doctor enigmatically, " neither 
would I." And that was all Doctor Mann did say upon 
the subject, yet citizen number one, while casting the dice 
with citizen number two at the Tobacco Emporium on the 
corner next the railroad station to see which should pay 
for their after-dinner smoke, communicated in confidence 
that the Reverend Hampstead had, in the stress of his 
emotion, uttered an oath ; in fact, and to be specific, had 
said that his persecutors, all and singular, and this actress 
woman in particular, could go to hell! 

This conference between citizen one and two may have 
been overheard. An inference that it was so overheard 
might have been drawn from the columns of The Sen- 
tinel, which next morning concluded its story of the re- 



THE FIRST ALARM 319 

markable developments of the night with the observation 
that the character of the minister was evidently cracking 
under the strain, since last night upon the suburban train, 
when a friend addressed him with a solicitous inquiry, 
the accused clergyman had broken into a stream of pro- 
fane objurgations loud enough to be heard above the roar 
of the train in several seats around. It was added that 
the reverend gentleman quickly regained control of his 
feelings and apologized for his form of expression by 
saying that he had been overworked for a long time and 
the developments of the day had seriously upset him. 

John Hampstead read this particular paragraph in The 
Sentinel with a sense of utter amazement at the wicked 
mendacity of public rumor, since what he had said to 
Doctor Mann was merely " Humph ! " uttered with sharp 
and scornful emphasis. 

But there was a far bigger story than that in the morn- 
ing Sentinel. It had to do with those things which hap- 
pened between the hour when John Hampstead dropped 
from his train, a little irritated with Doctor Mann, and 
the hour when he went to bed, but not to sleep. 



CHAPTER XXVIII 

THE ARREST 

As the perturbed minister, hurrying from the train, 
turned into the short street leading toward his home 
upon the Bay-side, he was charged upon by Dick and 
Tayna, both of whom, in the state of their emotion, for- 
got High School dignity and came rushing upon their 
uncle with feet thudding like running ostriches. Tayna's 
cheeks were red as her Titian hair with flaming indigna- 
tion, and her eyes burned like lights, while her full red 
lips pouted out : " Isn't it a shame ? " 

" It's a darn piece of blackmail, that's what it is, and 
it's actionable, too!" 

This oracular verdict, of course, came panting from 
the lips of Dick, who, over-exerted by his run, stood with 
arms akimbo, hands holding his sides, and his too heavy 
^ead tipping backward on his shoulders, while with scru- 
tinizing eye he studied the face of his uncle. 

As for Hampstead, in the devoted loyalty of these 
fatherless children and the distress of mind which each 
exhibited, he entirely forgot the sense of hot injustice 
and wrong burning in his own breast. All the emotion 
he was then capable of turned itself into sympathy for 
them and solicitous anticipations as to the effect of the 
whole wretched business upon his sister Rose. With a 
sweep of his strong arms, he gathered the two young 
people to his breast, printing a kiss on Tayna's cheek, 
which he found burning hot, and squeezing Dick until 
the stripling gasped and struggled for release as he used 



THE ARREST 321 

to do when a squirming youngster. With his arms still 
affectionately about the shoulders of the two, Hampstead 
walked on down the street, palm-studded, with flower- 
bordered skirts of green on either side and the blue vista 
of the Bay showing dimly in the growing dusk. 

Rose was waiting on the piazza.. Her face was very 
calm, yet to John's keen eye, it bore a look of desperately 
mustered self-control. With the ready intuition of her 
sex, she had divined far more completely than her brother 
how desperate and dangerous was the struggle upon 
which he was entering, and she was determined to give 
him every advantage that sympathy, poise, and unwaver- 
ing loyalty could supply. 

" It's all right, Rose, all right," he hastened to assure 
her, as the steps were mounted. " A mere extravagance 
of an excited woman that the papers have made into a 
great sensation. It will melt away like fog. We are 
helpless for a few days until I can demand and receive 
a hearing upon preliminary trial. That will show that 
they have no case at all. Until then, we must simply 
stand and be strong." 

Rose was already in her brother's arms, yet his speech, 
instead of reassuring her, made the tears flow. 

" It is so so humiliating to think of you defending 
yourself," she protested, " to hear you talk of their 
inability to make out a case. It seems so so lowering, 
as if you were going to be put on trial just like a crim- 
inal." 

" Why," replied John, " that's just what it all means. 
Just like a criminal!" 

He said the thing strongly enough, but after it came a 
choke in the throat. He had not really comprehended 
this before. He had thought of making his defense 
from the standpoint of the popular idol that he was. As 
a matter of fact, he was going to trial like any criminal. 



322 HELD TO ANSWER 

His vantage ground was merely that of the prisoner at 
the bar. This prepared him for what Rose had to say 
next; for subtly perceiving that her brother had sus- 
tained an additional shock, her own self-control revived. 
Wiping her eyes, she turned to lead the way within. 

" They," she said solemnly, " are waiting in the study." 

" They ? " inquired Hampstead. 

" There are four men in there," Rose replied. " They 
want," and her voice threatened to break, " they want 
you!" 

At this bald putting of the horrible fact, Tayna burst 
into a wail of woe and flung her arms about her uncle, 
whom she had followed into the hall. 

" There, there, girl, don't cry," urged her uncle sooth- 
ingly. " There is no occasion for it ; this is annoying 
but not necessarily distressing. It is a mere formality 
of the law which must be complied with. Run along 
now, all of you, and wash the tears out of your eyes. I 
will be with you in five minutes. Let us sit down to a 
happy, cheerful dinner. I confess I am a little upset 
myself, but not too disturbed to be hungry," and with a 
weak attempt at grimacing humor, the big man laid a 
hand upon the region of his diaphragm. 

In his study, as Rose had forewarned him, the min- 
ister found four men: Searle, Assistant District Attor- 
ney; Wyatt, Deputy Sheriff; and two city detectives. 

Searle was a suave, resourceful man and the one as- 
sistant in the District Attorney's office whom Hamp- 
stead had found himself unable to trust; and that rather 
because of his personal and political associations than 
for any overt act of which the minister was cognizant. 

Wyatt was a bloated person, amiable in disposition, 
whose excess of egotism was coupled with a paucity of 
intelligence, yet wholly incorruptible and with an exag- 
gerated sense of duty that made him a capable officer, 



THE ARREST 323 

a thing with which his breeding, which was obtrusively 
low, did not interfere. 

Hampstead was able to master his feelings sufficiently 
to greet the quartet urbanely, if not cordially. 

" A disagreeable duty, I assure you," conceded Searle. 

" A disagreeable experience," laughed Hampstead, but 
with no great suggestion of levity. 

" I guess I don't need to read this to you, Doc," said 
the Deputy Sheriff, as he opened to Hampstead a docu- 
ment drawn from his pocket. " It is a warrant for your 
arrest." 

The minister took the document and glanced it 
through, his eyes hesitating for a moment at the name of 
the complaining witness. 

" Alice Higgins? " he asked, with an inquiring glance. 

" The true name of the complaining witness and ac- 
cuser," replied Searle. 

" Oh, I see," assented John. 

It had never occurred to him that Marien Dounay was 
only a stage name. Was there anything at all about this 
woman that was not false, he wondered. 

John returned the warrant to Wyatt and caught the 
look in that officer's eye. A sense of the horrible indig- 
nity of arrest came over the minister, a perception of 
what it meant: this yielding of one's liberty, of one's 
body to the possession of another, who might be a coarser 
and more inferior person than one's self. With a guilty 
flush, John thought how many times in his crusades 
against the gamblers and small law-breakers he had 
procured the swearing out of complaints that led to the 
arrest of scores of men. He had marveled at the ven- 
omous hatred which those men later displayed toward 
himself, regarding him as the author of a public disgrace 
put upon them, and not upon them alone but upon their 
families also. Now he understood. 



324 HELD TO ANSWER 

" The bail is fixed at ten thousand dollars," explained 
Searle smoothly. " When we got your telephone mes- 
sage that you would be home at seven o'clock, I took the 
liberty of arranging for Judge Brennan to be in his 
chambers at nine to-night so that you could be there 
with your bondsmen and not have to spend the night in 
jail." 

" That was very considerate of 'you," assented the 
minister, a huskiness in his tone despite himself. 

The night in jail ! The very idea. And ten thousand 
dollars bail! He had expected to be released upon his 
own recognizance. Again that disagreeable intimation 
of being treated like a common criminal came crowding 
in with a suffocating effect upon his spirit. But he ral- 
lied, exclaiming with another effort at easy urbanity: 
" Very well, I acknowledge my arrest, and it will be un- 
necessary to detain you gentlemen further. I shall be 
glad to meet you with my bondsmen in the judge's 
chambers." 

The Deputy Sheriff coughed in an embarrassed way, 
but stood stolidly before his prisoner. 

" I am sorry, Doctor Hampstead," explained Searle, 
" but we shall have to search you. Benson's men here 
will do that." 

" Search me ? " exclaimed Hampstead, with a sudden 
sense of insult. " By the appearance of things," he 
added, while casting a sarcastic look at the signs of dis- 
order about, " I should think this farce had been carried 
far enough. You did not find the diamonds here. You 
do not expect to find them upon my person, do you ? " 

The speaker's tones witnessed a natural indignation 
and considerable irritability. 

" I got to do my duty," replied Wyatt stubbornly, mak- 
ing a sign to the two detectives, who immediately arose 
and advanced upon the minister. 



THE ARREST 325 

For an instant the situation was exceedingly tense. 
Hampstead was a very strong man, and his resentment 
at what seemed an insult put upon him with malice, was 
very hot. But good sense triumphed in the interval of 
thought which the officers diplomatically allowed. 

" Oh, of course," he exclaimed with a gesture of sub- 
mission, " you men are only cogs. Once the machinery 
of the law is put in motion, you must turn with the 
other wheels. Pardon my irritation, gentlemen, but the 
situation is unusual for me and rather hard. I feel the 
injustice and indignity of it very keenly." 

"We appreciate your situation perfectly," said Assist- 
ant District Attorney Searle smoothly. " As you say, 
we are all of us cogs." 

Yet the actual search of his person, once entered on, 
seemed to Hampstead to proceed rather perfunctorily, 
although at the same time he got from the faces and 
manner of all four an impression of something they were 
holding in reserve. 

" What is this ? " asked one of the detectives dramat- 
ically, holding up a long, narrow key with a red rubber 
band doubled and looped about the neck, which he had 
just extracted from the minister's pocket. 

' That is the key to my safe deposit box at the Amal- 
gamated National," replied Hampstead, naturally enough. 

" Then," said Wyatt bluntly, " we've got to search that 
box." 

The minister was instantly on his guard. 

Some play of eyes between the four men, accompanied 
by a subtle change in the expression of their faces, 
warned him that they must have been apprised of the 
existence of this box and that the key was the real ob- 
ject of their personal search. Hampstead resolved 
hastily to defeat them. 

" I decline to permit it," he declared shortly. " There 



326 HELD TO ANSWER 

are very private papers in that box, things which have 
been communicated to me in the utmost confidence, and 
I would not be justified in permitting you or any one 
else to handle them. Under the rules of the bank, 
without my consent or an order of court, you could not 
reach the box." 

" I have that order of court here," said Searle, speak- 
ing up quickly, but with cold precision of utterance, " in 
a search warrant directed particularly to your safe de- 
posit box." 

Like a flash, Hampstead thought that he under- 
stood. 

"So that is what you are here for, Searle?" he 
snapped sarcastically, turning and confronting the As- 
sistant District Attorney. " I never have trusted you. 
I couldn't understand your presence here or your in- 
terest in this silly charge; but now I comprehend fully. 
You have taken advantage of it to get your eyes on the 
perjury case I have against your bosom friend, Jack 
Roche. Well, I warn you! This is where I stop and 
fight!" 

But Searle refused to get angry at this bald impugn- 
ment of his integrity and motives. No doubt it was his 
confidence in an ultimate and complete humiliation of 
the minister that enabled him to maintain an unruffled 
demeanor while he suggested blandly : 

" Perhaps you ought not to proceed further, Doctor 
Hampstead, without the advice of a lawyer." 

The proposal touched the minister in his pride. 

"A lawyer?" he objected scornfully. "Thank you, 
no ! My cause requires no expert advocacy. In my ex- 
perience of the past four years, I have learned quite 
enough about court practice to cope with this ridiculous 
burlesque without professional assistance." 

Searle, playing his cards deliberately, took advantage 



THE ARREST 327 

of the minister's assumed acquaintance with legal lore to 
suggest with alacrity : 

" You know then, Doctor, that it is useless to fight a 
court order of this sort, as you spoke of doing in your 
excitement a moment ago. I think, with the attorneys 
of your Civic League, you have gone through a safe de- 
posit box or two upon your own account, by means of 
just such a search warrant as I now exhibit to you." 

Again Hampstead's second thought assured him that 
he was powerless to resist. 

" Yes," he confessed resignedly to Searle's speech, 
after the necessary interval for consideration, " I sup- 
pose I must admit it. When I spoke of fighting, I spoke 
in heat; partly because I feel the gross injustice and bit- 
ter wrong this senseless charge is doing to innocent peo- 
ple other than myself, who am also innocent, and partly 
because, as I have already told you, I utterly distrust 
your motive in making the whole of this search. You 
must be as well aware as I that this charge is the work of 
a woman who, to speak most charitably, is beside herself 
with excitement." 

But Searle only smiled, and observed with urbanity 
unruffled. 

" I am sorry, Doctor, that you distrust me. You 
may have the privilege, of course, of being present when 
we examine the contents of the box." 

" Naturally I shall insist upon that," said the minister. 

" In that case," Searle added with significant em- 
phasis, " I think your observations will convince you that 
we are solely concerned in a search for the diamonds." 

" As I like to believe well of all men, I shall hope so," 
countered the minister; and then, since the demeanor of 
the officers made it clear there was no more searching to 
be done, he continued, after a glance at his watch : "If 
I am to meet Judge Brennan and yourself with my bonds- 



328 HELD TO ANSWER 

men at nine o'clock, I suggest that we go from there 
direct to the bank vaults. They are accessible until mid- 
night, as you doubtless know." 

" Very good, Doctor," replied Searle in that oily voice 
which indicated how completely to his satisfaction affairs 
were progressing. 

" And now," suggested the minister, with a nod to- 
ward the street door, " as the hour is late, I will ask you 
gentlemen to excuse me." 

Searle darted a look at Wyatt. 

" Very sorry, Doc, but I got to stay with you," volun- 
teered the deputy, " and hand you over to the judge." 

Once more the flush of offense mounted to the cheek 
of Hampstead. Hand him over to the judge! How 
galling such language was when used of him! Again 
he recalled with compunction how many arrests he had 
caused without an emotion beyond the satisfaction of an 
angler when he hooks a fish. But he John Hampstead 
minister, preacher, pastor of All People's; a shining 
light in a vast metropolitan community! Surely it was 
something different and infinitely more degrading for 
him to be arrested than for a mere plasterer, or mayhap 
a councilman? He had a greater right than they to be 
wrathful and resentful. Besides, they were guilty. 
Judges, juries, or their own confessions, had unfailingly 
so declared. He was innocent, spotlessly innocent of the 
charge against him. His defenselessness proceeded 
from relations of comparative intimacy with the actress, 
and his priestly knowledge of the guilty person. Yet the 
thought of this helped humor and good sense to triumph 
again, over his rising choler. 

" Oh, very well," he exclaimed, half-j ocularly, half- 
derisively. "Make yourself at home; all of you make 
yourselves at home. We are accustomed to an unex- 
pected guest or two at the table. Be prepared to come 



THE ARREST 329 

out to dinner. Listen, if you like, while an arrested 
felon telephones to his friends, seeking bondsmen. You 
may hear secret codes and signals passing over the wire. 
You may even wish to put under surveillance the gen- 
tlemen with whom I communicate." 

"Doctor! Doctor!" protested Searle, with hands up- 
lifted comically. " Your hospitality and your irony both 
embarrass us. The detectives and I will be on our way. 
Wyatt will have to do his duty." 

" As you please," exclaimed Hampstead, who was fast 
recovering his poise ; " quite as you please." 

With this speech he held open the outside door and 
bade the three departing guests good evening; and then, 
while the Deputy waited in the room, the clergyman was 
busy at the telephone until he had the promise of three 
different gentlemen of his acquaintance to meet him at 
Judge Brennan's chambers at nine that night and qualify 
as his bondsmen in the sum of ten thousand dollars. 

This much attended to, dinner became the next order; 
but it was not a very happy affair. There had never 
been a time when the little family group, bound together 
by ties that were unusually tender, wished more to be 
alone at a meal. Now, when the superfluous presence 
was the official representative of the very thing that had 
plunged them into gloom, the situation became one of 
torture. Food stuck to palates. Scraps of conversation 
were dropped at rare intervals and upon entirely ex- 
traneous subjects in \vhich nobody, not even the speakers, 
had the slightest interest. At times there was no sound 
save the audible enjoyment of his food by their guest, 
for the Deputy Sheriff, accustomed to the ruthless thrust 
of his official self into the personal and sometimes the 
domestic life of individuals, was quite too crass to sense 
the embarrassment and positive pain his presence caused 
and was also exceedingly hungry. 



330 HELD TO ANSWER 

In this general silence, the grating of wheels on the 
graveled walk outside the study door sounded loudly. 

" Mrs. Burbeck ! " exclaimed Hampstead in some sur- 
prise. " She never came to me at night before. Finish 
your dinner, Deputy. If you will excuse me, I must 
receive one of my parishioners in the study." 

" Sorry, but I can't excuse you, Doc," replied Wyatt 
jocularly; "but if you'll excuse me for just a minute, 
while I get away with this second piece of loganberry pie, 
I'll be with you." 

" Be with me ? " asked the minister, color rising. " Do 
you mean that you will intrude upon the privacy of an 
interview with a helpless lady in a wheel chair who 
comes to see me alone ? " 

Wyatt's fat cheek was bulging, and there were tiny 
streams of crimson juice at the corners of the lips; but 
he interrupted himself long enough to reply bluntly: 
" I ain't agoin' to let you out of my sight. Orders is 
orders, that's all I got to say." 

" But tell me, Wyatt, who gave you such orders ? " 
queried the minister, with no effort to conceal his irri- 
tation. 

" Searle. And they were give to him," answered the 
Deputy phlegmatically, his fat-imbedded eyes intent upon 
the white and crimson segment of pastry on his plate. 

" And who gave such orders to him ? " persisted Hamp- 
stead. 

"If you ask me " began the Deputy, and then exas- 
peratingly blotted out the possibility of further speech 
by the transfer of the dripping triangle to his mouth. 

" .Well, I do ask you," declared the minister curtly. 

" He got 'em from Miss Dounay." 

"And is that woman running the District Attorney's 
office?" questioned the minister scornfully. 

"Search me!" gulped Wyatt, with a shrug of his 



THE ARREST 331 

shoulders. " I had one look at her. She's got eyes like 
a pair of automatics. You take it from me, Doc," and 
Wyatt laid his unoccupied hand upon the sleeve of the 
minister, " if she's got anything on you, compromise and 
do it quick; if she ain't, fight, and fight like h ." 
Wyatt stopped and shot an apologetic glance around the 
table. " 'Scuse my French," he blurted, " but you know 
what I mean." 

" Yes," said the minister, holding his head very 
straight, " I realize that you do not mean to insult me.'* 

"Insult you?" argued the Deputy, overflowing with 
satisfied amiability. " After coming over here to arrest 
you, and you givin' me a dinner like this ? Pie like this ? 
Well, I guess not. I'm bribed, Doc, that's what I am. 
I got to go in that room with you when you see the old 
lady; but I'll hold my thumbs in my ears, and I won't 
see a d there I go again." Once more Wyatt' s 
apologetic look swept around the table. 

" Mrs. Burbeck is in the study," announced the maid. 



CHAPTER XXIX 

THE ANGEL ADVISES 

BECAUSE locomotion was not easy for her, it was to 
have been expected that the conferences between John 
Hampstead and Mrs. Burbeck, which, especially in the 
early days of his pastorate, had been so many, would take 
place in that lady's home; and they usually did. But as 
time went on, her own independence of spirit and in- 
creased consideration for the minister led Mrs. Burbeck 
frequently to prefer to come to him. To make this easy, 
two planks had been laid to form a simple runway to the 
stoop at the study door. When, therefore, the minister 
entered his library to-night, closely followed by Wyatt, he 
found that good woman waiting in the wheel chair beside 
his desk. The object of her call showed instantly in an 
expression of boundless and tender solicitude ; and yet the 
clergyman immediately forgot himself in a conscience- 
stricken concern for his visitor. 

" You should not have come," he exclaimed quickly, 
sympathy and mild reproach mingling, while a devotion 
like that of a son for a mother was conveyed in his tone 
and glance. 

Truly, Mrs. Burbeck had never looked so frail. All 
but the faintest glow of color had gone from her cheeks ; 
her eyes were bright, but with a luster that seemed un- 
earthly, and her skin had a transparent, wax-like look that 
to the clergyman was alarmingly suggestive, as if the pale 
bloom of another world were upon her cheeks, which a 
single breath must wither. 



THE ANGEL ADVISES 333 

Making these observations swiftly as his stride carried 
him to her, the minister, speaking in that rich baritone of 
melting tenderness which was one of Hampstead's most 
charming personal assets, concluded with : " You are not 
well. You are not at all well." 

" Oh, yes," the Angel answered, " I am well." 

Although she spoke in a voice that appeared to be thin 
to the point of breaking, her tone was even, and her senses 
proclaimed their alertness by allowing her eyes to wander 
from the face of the minister and fix themselves inquir- 
ingly over his shoulder on the unembarrassed, stolid man 
at the door. 

" Tell her not to mind me, Doc," interjected Wyatt in a 
stuffy voice. At the same time an exploratory thumb 
brought up a quill from a vest pocket, and the deputy be- 
gan with entire assurance the after-dinner toilet of his 
teeth, while his eyes roamed the ceiling and the tops of 
the bookcases as if suddenly oblivious of the presence of 
other persons in the room. 

" Yes," said the minister reassuringly, " we will not be 
disturbed by Mr. Wyatt's presence. He is merely doing 
his duty." 

" You are ? " Mrs. Burbeck hesitated with an upward 
inflection, and the disagreeable word unuttered. 

" Yes," replied the minister gravely, his inflection fall- 
ing where hers had risen. " I am." 

" Oh, that woman ! That woman ! " murmured Mrs. 
Burbeck, " I have mistrusted her and been sorry for her 
all at once. But it was Rollie that I feared for." 

There was a sigh of relief that was as near to an exhi- 
bition of selfishness as Mrs. Burbeck had ever approached ; 
after which, mother-like, she lapsed into a rhapsody over 
her son. 

" Rollie," she began, in doting accents, " is so young, so 
handsome, so responsive to beauty of any sort; so ready to 



334 HELD TO ANSWER 

believe the best of every one. I feared that he would fall 
in love with her and ruin his business career you know 
how these theatrical marriages always turn out or that 
she would jilt him and break his heart. Rollie has such a 
sensitive, expansive nature. He has always been trusted 
so widely by so many people. Since that boy has grown 
up, I have lived my whole life in him. Do you know," 
and she leaned forward and lowered her voice to an im- 
pressive and exceedingly intimate note ; " it seems to me 
that if anything should happen to Rollie, it would crush 
me, that I should not care to live, in fact should not be 
able to live." 

Tears came readily to the limpid pools of her eyes, and 
the delicately chiseled lips trembled, though they bravely 
tried to smile. 

Hampstead sat regarding her thoughtfully, love and 
apprehension mingling upon his face. It suddenly reoc- 
curred to him with compelling force that the most awful 
cruelty that could be inflicted would be for this delicate 
and fragile woman, who to-night looked more like an 
ambassadress from some other existence than a thing of 
flesh and blood, to know the truth about her son. Seeing 
her thus smiling trustfully through her mother-tears, 
thinking of all that her sweet, saint-like confidences had 
meant to him, Hampstead felt a mighty resolve growing 
stronger and stronger within him. 

But for orice Mrs. Burbeck's intuitions were not sure, 
and she misconstrued the meaning of her pastor's silence. 

" Forgive me," she pleaded in tones of self-reproach. 
" Here I am in the midst of your trouble babbling of my- 
self and my son. Yet that is like a mother. She never 
sees a young man's career blighted but she grows sud- 
denly apprehensive for the child of her own bosom. 
Now that feeling comes to me with double force. I love 
you almost as a son. Consequently, when I see my boy 



THE ANGEL ADVISES 335 

out there in the sun of life mounting so buoyantly, and 
you, so worthy to mount, but struggling in mid-flight 
under a cloud, I feel a mingling of two painful emotions. 
I suffer as if struck upon the heart. My spirit of sym- 
pathy and apprehension rushes me to you, yet when I get 
to you, my doting mother's heart makes me babble first of 
my boy. And so," she concluded, with an apologetic 
smile, "you see how weak and frail and egotistic I am, 
after all." 

" But," protested Hampstead, who had been eager to 
break in, " my career is not blighted. I am not under a 
cloud. It annoyed me to-night upon the boat and train 
to discover how suddenly I was pilloried by my enemies 
and avoided by my friends. They seem to take it for 
granted that I am already smirched ; that to me the sub- 
ject must be painful, and as there is no other subject to be 
thought of at the moment, hence conversation will also be 
painful. .Because of this I am a pariah, to be shunned 
like any leper." 

With rising feeling, the young minister snatched a 
breath and hurried on. 

" Now, Mrs. Burbeck, I do not feel like that at all. I 
have put myself in the way of sustaining this attack 
through following the course of duty, as I conceived it. 
I need not assure you that I am innocent of a vulgar thing 
like burglary. I need not assure the public. It is impos- 
sible that they should believe it. Nevertheless, I have 
seen enough in the papers to-night to show how they will 
revel at seeing me enmeshed in the toils of circumstance. 
To them it is a rare spectacle. Very well, let it be a 
spectacle. It is one in which I shall triumph. I propose 
to fight. I feel like fighting." His fist was clenched and 
came down upon the arm of his chair, and his voice, 
though still low, was full of vibrant power. 

" I feel that I have the right to call upon every friend, 



336 HELD TO ANSWER 

upon every member of All People's, upon every believer in 
those things for which I have fought in this community, 
to rally to my side to fight shoulder to shoulder in the 
battle to repel what in effect is an assault not upon me, 
but upon the things for which I stand." 

Mrs. Burbeck's expressive eyes were floating full with a 
look that verged from sympathy toward pity. 

" You will have to be a very expert tactician," she said 
soberly, drawing on those fountains of ripe wisdom, so 
full at times that they seemed to mount toward inspira- 
tion; " if you are to make the public think of your em- 
barrassment in that way. It is going to look at this as a 
disgraceful personal entanglement of a minister with an 
actress ! " 

Hampstead writhed in his chair. Nothing but the 
depth of his consideration for Mrs. Burbeck kept him 
from exclaiming vehemently against what he deemed the 
enormous injustice of this assumption. 

"She's right, Doc; right's your left leg," sounded a 
throaty voice, which startled the two of them into remem- 
bering that they were not alone. 

" Why, Wyatt ! " exclaimed the minister reprovingly, 
turning sharply on the deputy. 

" Excuse me, Doc," Wyatt mumbled abjectly. " I just 
thought that out loud. All the same, she's wisin' you up 
to somethin' if you'll let 'er. Some of these old dames 
that ain't got nothin' to do but just set and think gets hep 
to a lot of things that a hustlin' man overlooks." 

Hampstead was disgusted. 

" Don't interrupt us again, please, Wyatt," he ob- 
served, combining dignity and rebuke in his utterance. 

But Wyatt, influenced no doubt by the look almost of 
fright on Mrs. Burbeck's face, was already in apologetic 
mood. 

" Say," he mumbled contritely, " you're right, Doc. 



THE ANGEL ADVISES 337 

I'm so sorry for the break that, orders or no orders, I'll 
just step out in the hall while you finish. But all the 
same, you listen to her," and he indicated the disturbed 
and slightly offended Mrs. Burbeck with a stab of a tooth- 
pick in the air, " and she'll tell you somethin' that's use- 
ful." 

" Thank you very much, Wyatt," replied the minister 
in noncommittal tones, but with a sigh of relief as the 
deputy withdrew from the room. 

Yet he had a growing sense of depression. Wyatt's 
boorish, croaking interruption had thrown him out of 
poise. Mrs. Burbeck's exaggerated sense of the gravity 
of the matter weighed him down like lead, and the more 
because an inner voice, sounding faintly and from far 
away, but with significance unmistakable, seemed to tell 
him her view was right. Nevertheless, his whole soul 
rose in protest. It ought not to be right. It was a gross 
travesty on justice and on popular good sense. 

Mrs. Burbeck, looking at him fixedly, noted this 
change in spirit and the conflict of emotions which re- 
sulted. Reaching out impulsively she touched the large 
hand of the man where it lay upon the desk. 

" I feared you would take it too lightly," she reflected. 
' Youth always does that. For this world about you to 
turn and gnash you is mere human nature, which it is your 
business to understand. Has it never occurred to you 
that the same voices who upon Sunday cried out : ' Ho- 
sannah, Hosannah to the son of David ! ' upon Friday 
shouted: 'Away with him! Crucify him! Crucify 
him!' 

" But I am innocent," Hampstead protested, though 
weakly. 

" And so was He," Mrs. Burbeck replied simply. 

" But He was worthy to suffer. I am not," murmured 
Hampstead humbly. 



338 HELD TO ANSWER 

" Sometimes," suggested the sweet- voiced woman, 
" suffering makes us worthy." 

" But," affirmed the minister, his righting spirit coming 
back to him, " I can prove my innocence! " 

The face of Mrs. Burbeck lighted. " Then you must," 
she said decisively. " You give me hope when you say 
that. It was to tell you that I came, fearful that you 
would rely upon the public to assume your innocence until 
your guilt was proven. Alas, they are more likely to as- 
sume the contrary, to hold you guilty until you prove 
yourself innocent." 

" I have been made to see that already," replied Hamp- 
stead. " At first, no doubt, I did underestimate the 
gravity of the situation. You have helped me to appraise 
its dangers more accurately." 

But Mrs. Burbeck had more important advice to give. 

" Yes," she went on half -musingly, because tactfulness 
appeared to suggest that form of utterance, " you will 
have to vindicate yourself absolutely. It is a practical 
situation. The danger is not that you will be convicted 
and sent to jail. Nobody believes that, I should say. 
The danger is that a question-mark will be permanently 
attached to your name and character. The Reverend 
John Hampstead, interrogation point! Is he a thief, or 
not? Did he compromise himself, or not? Is he weak, 
or not? This is the thing to fear, the thing that would 
condemn you and brand you as stripes brand a convict." 

For a tense, reflective moment the minister's lips had 
grown dry and bloodless; and then he confessed grudg- 
ingly : " I begin to see that you are right." 

" You should begin your defense by a counter-attack," 
Mrs. Burbeck continued, feeling that the man was suffi- 
ciently aroused now to appreciate the importance of vigor- 
ous defensive actions. " Declare your disbelief that the 
diamonds have actually been stolen. Get out a warrant of 



THE ANGEL ADVISES 339 

search, and you will probably find them now concealed 
among her effects. At any rate this counter-search would 
hold the public verdict in suspense; and it would be like 
your well-known aggressive personality. If the search 
fails to reveal them, if her diamonds really are stolen, 
your complete vindication must depend upon the capture 
and exposure of the real thief." 

Hampstead wiped his moist brow nervously. It was 
uncannily terrible that this woman of all persons in the 
world should say this to him. However, he had suf- 
ficient presence of mind to urge : 

" But how unjust to force a contract like that upon 
me." 

" It is unjust," admitted the Angel of the Chair. 
" Yet the innocent often suffer injustice, and you must 
realize that you are not immune. That is your only 
course, and I came specifically to warn you of it. Prove 
there was no theft, or get the thief! " 

There was snap and sparkle in Mrs. Burbeck's eyes. 
Despite her physical frailty, her spirit was stout, and her 
conviction so forcefully conveyed that the minister de- 
livered himself of a gesture of utter helplessness. 

" I cannot do either," he said, half -whispering his 
desperation. " Yet I think I appreciate better than you 
how sound your advice has been. But there are reasons 
that I cannot give you, that I cannot give to any one, why 
the course which you suggest cannot be followed. I must 
go another way to vindication; but," and his voice rose 
buoyantly, " I will go and I will get it." 

Mrs. Burbeck received with misgivings her pastor's 
complete rejection of the advice she had offered, yet some 
unconscious force in the young minister's manner swept 
her on quickly against her judgment and her will to an 
enormous increase of faith, both in the strength and the 
judgment of the man. As for Hampstead, he concluded 



340 HELD TO ANSWER 

his rejection by doing something he had never done be- 
fore. That was to lean low, his face chiseled in lines of 
gravity and devotion, and taking the delicate hand of Mrs. 
Burbeck, that in its weakness was like a drooping flower, 
lift it to his lips and kiss it. 

" Conserve all your spirit," he said solemnly, still cling- 
ing tenderly to the hand. " It may be that I shall have to 
lean heavily upon you." 

" You may have my life to the uttermost," she breathed 
trustfully, never dreaming the thought unthinkable which 
the words suggested to her pastor and friend. But an 
extraneous idea came pressing in, and Mrs. Burbeck 
raised toward the minister, in a gesture of appeal, the 
hand his lips had just been pressing, as she pleaded : 
" And do not think too hardly of the woman. She loves 
you." 

" Loves me ! " protested Hampstead, with a ghastly 
hoarseness. " The woman is incapable of love of pas- 
sion even. She is all fire, but without heat though 
once she had it. She is a mere blaze of ambition. All 
she cared for was to bring me to my knees, to dangle me 
like a scalp at her waist." 

Mrs. Burbeck steadied him with a glance from a mind 
unimpressed. 

" Be sorry, very sorry for her ! " she insisted gravely. 
" Acquit yourself of no impatience not even a reproach- 
ful look, if you can help it. She is to be pitied. Onh 
the malice of unsated love could do what she has done. 
Show yourself noble enough, Christ-like enough, to be 
very, very sorry for her ! " 

" We got to go if we get there by nine! " 

It was the smothered voice of Wyatt, calling through 
the door. 



CHAPTER XXX 

THE SCENE IN THE VAULT 

SILAS WADHAM, mine-owner; William Hayes, mer- 
chant, and E. H. Wilson, capitalist, subscribed to Hamp- 
stead's bond. Each was a big man in his way; each had 
unbounded faith in the integrity and good sense of the 
minister. They were not men to be swept off their feet 
by mere surface currents. They laughed a little and ral- 
lied John upon his plight, yet he knew somehow by the 
bend of the jaw when they dipped their pens in ink and 
with clamped lips subscribed their signatures, that these 
men were his unshakably. 

One circumstance might have seemed strange. None 
of them were members of All People's. Yet this was not 
because there were not men in All People's who would 
have qualified as unhesitatingly; but because John had a 
feeling that he was being assailed as a community char- 
acter rather than as a clerical one. 

Within ten minutes the formalities in Judge Brennan's 
chamber were concluded, Hampstead was free, but as he 
turned to Searle waiting suavely, backed by the suggestive 
presence of the two detectives, there came suddenly into 
his mind the memory that Rollie Burbeck's I. O. U. for 
eleven hundred dollars was in his safe deposit box in the 
envelope marked " Wadham Currency." This was a 
chaos-producing thought. If Searle once got an eye on 
that card, it would start innumerable trains of suspicion, 
each of which must center on the young bank cashier. In 
his present state, that boy was too weak to resist pres- 



342 HELD TO ANSWER 

sure of any sort. He would crumble and go to pieces. 
And yet, it was not the thought of the exposure and ruin 
of this spoiled young man that moved Hampstead to an- 
other of those acts which only riveted the chains of sus- 
picion more tightly upon himself. It was the vision of 
the mother who only an hour before had murmured 
tremulously: "If anything should happen to him, I 
should not be able to live." 

" Searle ! " exclaimed the minister passionately. " You 
must not proceed with this. If you are a man of any 
heart, you will not persist against my pleadings. I tell 
you frankly there are secrets in that box which, while they 
would do you no good, could be used to ruin innocent men 
guilty ones, too, perhaps; but the innocent with the 
guilty." 

Hampstead was speaking hoarsely, his voice raised and 
trembling with an excitement and lack of nerve control 
he had never exhibited before in public. 

The prosecutor's face pictured surprise and even gloat- 
ing, but his eyes expressed a purpose unshaken. 

" Confidences in my possession must be respected,'* 
Hampstead went on, arguing vehemently. " The confi- 
dences of a patient to his physician, of a penitent to his 
priest, are respected by the law. Because some of these 
confidences happen to be in writing, you have no right to 
violate them." 

" And I tell you I have no intention to violate them," 
Searle returned testily. " My order is a warrant of 
search for a diamond necklace." 

" And I tell you I will not respect the order of the 
court," blazed the minister. " You shall not examine the 
box!" 

Judge Mortimer was startled; the bondsmen, although 
surprised by the minister's show of feeling, were sym- 
pathetic. 



THE SCENE IN THE VAULT 343 

" I do not care whether you consent or not," Searle re- 
joined sarcastically. " I have the key, and I have the 
order of court, which the vault custodian must respect. I 
have done you the courtesy to meet you here so that you 
might be present when the box was examined. You must 
be beside yourself to suppose that I can be swayed from 
my duty, even temporarily, by an appeal like this." 

" I think, Doctor, you should have the advice of your 
attorney on this," suggested Mr. Wilson considerately; 
and then turning to the Assistant District Attorney, ob- 
served sharply : " It seems to me, Searle, that this is 
rather a high-handed procedure." 

But this remark of the practical Mr. Wilson had an in- 
stantly calming effect upon the minister. 

" No, no," Hampstead exclaimed, turning to his friend ; 
" I do not want an attorney. I do not need an attorney. 
I should only be misunderstood. It is the thought of 
what might result to innocent people through an examina- 
tion of this box that stirs me so deeply." 

" All the same, I think we had better have an attorney 
immediately," declared Wilson. " I can send my car for 
Bowen and have him here in fifteen minutes." 

" An attorney," commented Searle brusquely, " could do 
nothing except to get an order from a Superior Court 
judge enjoining the bank from obeying the search war- 
rant of this court. He would be lucky if, at this time of 
night, he caught a judge and got that under two or three 
hours. I will be in that box in five minutes. Come 
along, if you want to." 

Searle moved toward the door, followed by the two de- 
tectives, his purpose perfectly plain ; yet the minister hung 
back, for the first time so confused by entangling develop- 
ments that he could not see where to put his foot down 
next. 

" I think, Doctor Hampstead," advised Mr. Wadham 



344 HELD TO ANSWER 

kindly, " that since the District Attorney has matters in 
his own hands, you had better go with him and witness the 
search. If you do not object, we shall be glad to accom- 
pany you. Our presence may prove helpful later." 

Because his mind ran forward in an absorbed attempt to 
forecast and forestall the probable developments from the 
impending discovery of the clue against Rollie, the min- 
ister still paused, until his silence became as conspicuous as 
his inaction. 

" Oh, yes, yes," he exclaimed, suddenly aware of the 
waiting group about him. " Yes, by all means, go with 
me. What we must face, we must face," he concluded 
desperately, with an uneasy inner intimation that he was 
saying perhaps the wrong thing. Yet \vith the vision of 
Mrs. Burbeck's saintly, smiling face before him, Hamp- 
stead, usually so calm and self-controlled, had little care 
what he said or how he said it so long as his mind was 
busy with some plan to fend off this frightful blow from 
her. 

Mr. Wadham was a man of mature years and fatherly 
ways. He took the young minister's arm affectionately in 
his, and urged him forward in the wake of Searle, who 
had already moved out into the wide hall accompanied 
by the two plain-clothes men. Hayes and Wilson, still 
sympathetic, but no longer quite comprehending the undue 
excitement of the young divine in whose integrity their 
confidence was so great, fell in behind. 

Once before the custodian of the vault, another evidence 
of the thoughtfulness of Searle appeared. John R. Cos- 
tello, attorney of the bank, was conveniently on hand to 
read the warrant of the court and to instruct the custodian 
of the vault upon whom it was served that it was in proper 
form and must be obeyed. 

Because the number of witnesses was too large to be 
accommodated in the rooms provided for customers, the 



THE SCENE IN THE VAULT 345 

inspection of the minister's box was made upon a table in 
the vault room itself. In the group of onlookers, Hamp- 
stead, because of his commanding figure, his remarkable 
face, and his very natural interest in the proceedings, was 
the most conspicuous presence. As naturally as all eyes 
centered on the box, just so they kept breaking away at in- 
tervals to scan the face of the big man who stood before 
them in an attitude of embarrassed helplessness. He was 
obviously making a considerable effort to control himself. 
Only Searle was sure that he understood this. But at the 
same moment, two of the bondsmen, the kind-hearted 
Wadham and the shrewd, practical Wilson, appeared to 
observe this attitude and to detect its significance. They 
exchanged questioning glances, and were further mystified 
when for a single moment a look of confident reassurance 
flickered like the play of a sunbeam upon the face of the 
minister. 

That was in his one selfish moment, when he recalled 
how the search of the box, after all these excessive pre- 
cautions of the District Attorney's office, could only recoil 
upon their case like a boomerang; but his countenance 
shaded again to an expression of anxious helplessness as 
Searle paused dramatically a moment with his hand upon 
the box. Then the hand lifted the hinged cover, reveal- 
ing the contents. 

As if from a nervous eagerness to come quickly at the 
object of his search, the Assistant District Attorney turned 
the box upside down and emptied its contents on the table ; 
and yet, when this was done, nothing appeared but papers. 

Searle attempted to open none of them. Proceeding 
with deliberate care, as if to vindicate himself in the eyes 
of the bondsmen from the suspicion of the minister that he 
might be on a " fishing expedition ", he merely took up 
each piece singly and precisely, felt it over with his long, 
thin fingers and laid it by, until at length but two envelopes 



346 HELD TO ANSWER 

% 

remained. The first of these was long and empty looking 
and gave evidence that the flap had been rudely, if not 
hastily, torn open. Searle held it in his hand now. 

Hampstead' s heart stood still; he knew that this must 
be the envelope which had contained the Wadham cur- 
rency, hence between this attorney's thumb and forefinger, 
screened by one thickness of paper, lay the card that was 
the clue to Rollie Burbeck's crime. But the moment of 
suspense passed. 

Submitting it to the same inquisitive finger manipula- 
tion as the others, yet not looking within it nor turning it 
over to read what might be written on the face, Searle 
laid the Wadham envelope on the pile of discards. 

" Thank God," gulped Hampstead, yet with utterance 
so inchoate that Hayes, the third bondsman, standing 
nearest, did not catch the words, but a few minutes later, 
discussing the matter with Wilson, said : " I heard the 
apprehensive rattle in his throat just before Searle came 
to that last envelope." 

But in the meantime, Hampstead was asking himself 
suspiciously what was .this last envelope? He thought 
he knew by heart every separate document that was in the 
box, and he could not recall what this might be. 

" You must be convinced by now," argued Searle, as if 
deliberately heightening the suspense, while he turned a 
straight glance upon the minister, " that I had no object 
in inspecting the contents of this box except to search for 
the diamonds." 

" And you have not found them ! " 

This was obviously the remark which should have come 
in triumphant, challenging tones from the minister. As 
a matter of fact, it came quietly, and with a sigh of relief, 
from Silas Wadham. 

The minister did not speak at all, did not even raise his 
eyes to meet the glance of Searle. His gaze was fixed as 



THE SCENE IN THE VAULT 347 

his mind was fascinated by the mystery of the last lone en- 
velope. 

" Not yet," replied Searle significantly to Wadham's 
interjection, but instead of disappointment there was that 
quality in his tones which heightens and intensifies ex- 
pectancy. At the same time he took up the envelope by 
one end, but, under the weight of something within, the 
paper bent surprisingly in the middle and the lower end 
swung pendant and baglike, accompanied by the slightest 
perceptible metallic sound. Every member of the group 
of witnesses leaned forward with an involuntary start. 
Triumph flooded the face of Searle. With his left hand 
he seized the heavy, bag-like end and raised it while the 
envelope was turned in his fingers bringing into view the 
printing in the corner. 

" This envelope bears the name and address of the 
Reverend John Hampstead," he announced in formal 
tones. " I now open it in your presence." 

Nervously the Assistant District Attorney tore off the 
end of the envelope, squinted within, and exclaimed : " It 
contains " His voice halted for an instant while he 
dramatically tipped the envelope toward the table and a 
string of fire flowed out and lay quivering before the eyes 
of all " the Dounay diamonds ! " 

The jewels, trembling under the impulse of the move- 
ment by which they had been deposited upon the table, 
sparkled as if with resentful brilliance at having been thus 
darkly immured, and for an appreciable interval they com- 
pelled the attention of all ; then every eye was turned upon 
the accused minister. 

But these inquisitorial glances came too late. Amaze- 
ment, bewilderment, a sense of outrage, and hot indigna- 
tion, had been reeled across the screen of his features ; 
but that was in the ticking seconds while the gaze of all 
was on the envelope and then upon the diamonds and their 



348 HELD TO ANSWER 

aggressive scintillations. Now the curious eyes rested 
upon a man who, after a moment in which to think, had 
visioned himself surrounded and overwhelmed by circum- 
stances that were absolutely damning, his own conduct 
of the last few minutes the most damning of all. His 
face was as white as the paper of the envelope which con- 
tained the irrefutable evidence. His eyes revolved un- 
certainly and then went questioningly from face to face in 
the circle round him as if for confirmation of the con- 
clusion to which the logic of his own mind forced him 
irresistibly. In not one was that confirmation wanting. 

" But," he protested wildly, and then his glance broke 
down. " It has come," he murmured hoarsely, covering 
his face with his hands. " It has come ! " 

His cross had come ! 

Some odd, disastrous chain of sequences which he had 
not yet had time to reason out had fixed this crime on 
him. By another equally disastrous chain of sequences, 
he must bear its guilt or be false to his confessor's vow. 
Especially must he bear it, if he would shield that doting 
mother who trusted him and loved him. 

As if to hold himself together, he clasped his arms be- 
fore him, and his chin sunk forward on his breast. As if 
to accustom his mind to the new view from which he must 
look out upon the world, he closed his eyes. The heaving 
chest, the tense jaws, the quivering lips, and the mop of 
hair that fell disheveled round his temples, all combined to 
make up the convincing picture of a strong man breaking. 

Not one of those present, crass or sympathetic, but felt 
himself the witness to a tragedy in which a man of noble 
aspirations had been overtaken and hopelessly crushed by 
an ingrained weakness which had expressed itself in sordid 
crime. 

Even the hard face of Searle softened. With the dia- 
monds gleaming where they lay, he began mechanically to 



THE SCENE IN THE VAULT 349 

replace the contents of the box. But at the first sound of 
rustling papers, the minister appeared to rouse again. He 
had stood all alone. No one had touched him. No one 
had addressed him. The most indifferent in this circle 
were stricken dumb by the spectacle of his fall, while his 
friends were almost as much appalled and dazed as he him- 
self appeared to be. 

" I suppose," he said with melancholy interest, at the 
same time moving round the table to the box, " that I may 
take it now." 

" Certainly, Doctor," replied Searle suavely, yielding 
his place. Nevertheless, there was a slight expression of 
surprise upon his face, as upon those of the others, at the 
minister's sudden revival of concern in what must now 
be an utterly trifling detail so far as his own future went. 
Hampstead appeared to perceive this. 

" There are sacred responsibilities here," he explained 
gravely, with a halting utterance that proclaimed the deeps 
that heaved within him ; " which, strange as it may seem to 
you gentlemen, even at such an hour I would not like to 
forget." 

Taking up a handful of the papers, he ran them through 
his fingers, his eye pausing for a moment to scan each one 
of them, and his expression kindling with first one memory 
and then another, as if he found a mournful satisfaction 
in recalling past days when many a man and woman had 
found peace for their souls in making him the sharer in 
their heart-burdens, days which every member of that 
little circle felt instinctively were now gone forever. 

Last of all his eye checked itself upon the envelope 
marked " Wadham Currency." Allowing the other 
papers to slip back to their place in the box the minister 
turned his glance into the open side of this remaining en- 
velope. It was empty, save for a card tucked in the 
corner. 



350 HELD TO ANSWER 

" This thing appears to have served its purpose," he 
commented absently, as if talking to himself. Then casu- 
ally he tore the envelope across, and then again and again ; 
finer and finer; yet not so fine as to excite suspicion. 
Looking for a wastebasket and finding none, he was about 
to drop the fragments in his coat pocket. 

" I will take them," said the vault custodian, holding out 
his hand. To it the minister unhesitatingly committed the 
shredded envelope and card which contained the only 
documentary clue to any other person than himself as the 
thief of the Dounay diamonds. A few minutes later, this 
clue was in the wastebasket outside. The next morning it 
was in the furnace. 

The group in the vault room broke away with dis- 
pirited slowness, as mourners turn from the freshly heaped 
earth. Behind all the minister lingered, as if unwilling to 
leave the presence of his dead reputation. 

But the man's appearance somewhat belied his mood. 
He was thinking swiftly. This was no uncommon plot 
which had overtaken him. It was conceived in craft and 
laid with power to kill. The diabolical cunning of the 
scheme was that it forced him to be silent or to be a traitor. 
The indications were that he had been betrayed out- 
rageously; but he did not know this positively, therefore 
he could venture no defense at all against this black array 
of circumstances. It might be only some terrible mistake, 
and for him to venture more now than the most general 
denial might bring about the very calamities he was trying 
to avert. He dared not even tell the truth: that he did 
not know the diamonds were in the box. Especially, he 
dared not say that he did not put them there. 

For the first time an emotion like fear entered his soul, 
but it passed the moment the priestly ardor in him saw 
which way his duty lay. If Rollie had grossly sold him 
into the power of the actress at the price of his own es- 



THE SCENE IN THE VAULT 351 

cape, he felt more sorry for the poor wretch than before. 
He was glad that he had destroyed the I. O. U., discovery 
of which might have incriminated the young man help- 
lessly, and he resolved to continue upon his mission as a 
saviour, even though he himself were lost. It suddenly 
occurred to him with doubling force that this was what it 
meant to be a saviour. 

With this conviction firmly in his mind, Hampstead 
turned to Wilson, Wadham, and Hayes, who had been 
waiting in considerate silence, and led the way upward to 
the dimly lighted lobby of the bank, feeling himself grow 
stronger with every step he mounted ; for the maze of com- 
plexities in which he found himself had quickly reduced 
itself to the simple duty of being true to trust. Eternal 
Loyalty was again to be the price of success. 

As his friends gathered about him on the upper floor for 
a word of conference, they were astonished at the change 
in his expression. It was calm and even confident ; while 
a kind of spiritual radiance suffused his features. 

" My friends," the minister began in an even voice, that 
nevertheless was full of the echo of deep feeling, " I can 
offer you no explanation of the scene to which you have 
just been witnesses. It is almost inevitable that you 
should think me guilty or criminally culpable. I am 
neither! " The affirmation was made as if to acquit his 
conscience, rather than as if to be expected to be believed. 

" But," and his utterance became incisive, " there is 
nothing to that effect which can be said now." 

" Something had better be said now," blurted out the 
practical Wilson flatly, " or this story in the morning 
papers will damn you as black as tar." 

" Not one word," declared the minister with quiet em- 
phasis, " can be spoken now ! " 

In Hampstead's bearing there was a notable return of 
that subtle power of man mastery which had been so im- 



352 HELD TO ANSWER 

portant an element in his success. Before this even the 
aggressive, outspoken Wilson was silent; but the three 
men stood regarding John with an air at once sympathetic 
and doubtful. They were also expectant, for it was evi- 
dent from the minister's manner that he was deliberating 
whether he might not take them at least a little way into 
his confidence. 

" Only this much I can indicate," he volunteered pres- 
ently. " A part of what has happened I understand very 
clearly. A part I do not understand at all. In the mean- 
time, some one, but not myself, is in jeopardy. Until the 
confusion is cleared, or until I can see better what to do 
than I see now, I can do nothing but rest under the cir- 
cumstances which you have seen enmesh me to-night. Of 
course, it is impossible that such a monstrous injustice 
can long continue. I hold the power to clear myself 
instantly, but it is a power I cannot use without vio- 
lating the most sacred obligation a minister can assume. 
I will not violate it. I must insist that not one single word 
which I have just hinted to you be given to the public. 
Silence, absolute and unwavering silence, is the course 
which is forced upon me and upon every friend who would 
be true to me, as I shall seek to be true to my duty." 

The three friends heard this declaration rather help- 
lessly. In the presence of such a lofty spirit of self- 
immolation, what were mere men like themselves to say, 
or do? . Obviously nothing, except to look the reverence 
and wonder which they felt and to bow tacitly to his will. 
Hampstead knew instinctively and without one word of 
assurance that these men, at first overwhelmingly con- 
vinced of his guilt by what they had seen, and then be- 
wildered by his manner, now believed in him absolutely. 
It put him at ease with them and gave him assurance to 
add: 

" I know that not one of you is a man to desert a friend 



THE SCENE IN THE VAULT 353 

in the hour of his extremity, and no matter what happens 
I believe your faith in me will not falter. You will under- 
stand my wish to thank you for what you have done and 
may do, and to say good-by for to-night. My burning 
desire now is to get by myself and try to comprehend what 
has happened and what may yet happen before this miser- 
able business is concluded." 

Cordially taking the hand of each, while the men one 
after another responded with fervent expressions of faith 
and confidence, the minister turned quickly upon his heel, 
crossed the street, and leaped lightly upon a passing car. 

Silence ! Silence ! Unwavering silence ! The car 
wheels seemed to beat this injunction up to him with every 
revolution. Silence for the sake of others, some of whom 
were supremely worthy, one at least of whom might be 
wretchedly unworthy ! Above all, silence for the sake of 
his vow as a vicar of Christ on earth. What was it to be a 
Christian if not to be a miniature Christ, a poor, stum- 
bling, tottering, stained and far-off pattern of the mighty 
archetype of human goodness and perfection? Accord- 
ing to his strength, he, John Hampstead, was to be per- 
mitted to suffer as a saviour of a very small part of man- 
kind and in a very temporary and no doubt in a very in- 
adequate way, the virtue of which should lie in the fact 
that it pointed beyond himself to the one saviour who was 
supremely able. He, too, must be " dumb before his 
shearers ", not stubbornly, not guiltily, and not spectacu- 
larly, but faithfully and for a worth-while purpose, the 
saving of a man. 

For a change had come swiftly in the relative impor- 
tance of the motives which determined his course. With 
the actual coming of his cross, he had caught a loftier 
vision. It was not to save the few remaining weeks or 
months or years of the life of a saintly and beautiful 
woman that he was to stand silent even to trial, convic- 



354 HELD TO ANSWER 

tion, and disgrace. It was to save the soul of a man, a 
wretched, vain, ornamental and unutilitarian sort of per- 
son, but none the less unusually gifted in many of his 
faculties, perhaps wanting only an experience like this to 
precipitate the better elements in his nature into the 
foundation of such a character as his mother believed him 
to possess. 

This change of emphasis strengthened Hampstead 
enormously. It gave him calm and resolution, increasing 
self-control and fortitude, a dignity of bearing that prom- 
ised at least to remain unbroken, and a sense of the pres- 
ence of the Presence which it seemed could not depart 
from him. 

When John reached home, he found Rose, Dick, and 
Tayna waiting anxiously. A sight of his face, with the 
new strength and dignity upon it, allayed their apprehen- 
sion, but the solemnity of manner in which he gathered 
them about him in the study roused their fears again. 
Briefly he related how the diamonds had been discovered 
in his safe deposit vault. Sternly but kindly he repressed 
the hot outburst of Dick; sympathetically he tried to stem 
the tears of Tayna, but before the pale face and the dry, 
fixed eyes of Rose he stood a moment, mute and hesitant, 
then said with tender brotherliness : 

" Old girl, in the silence of waiting for my vindication, 
it is going to be easier for you and the children to trust 
me than for others. But even for you it will be hard. 
Others can withdraw from me, can wash their hands of 
me; and they may do it. You cannot, and would not if 
you could." 

Rose clasped her brother's hand in silent assurance ; but 
Hampstead went on with saddened voice to portray what 
was to be expected. 

" You will all have to bear the shame with me. In fact,, 
my shame will be yours. You, Rose, will be pointed out 



THE SCENE IN THE VAULT 355 

upon the street as my sister. Tayna, at school to- 
morrow, may encounter fewer smiles and some eyes that 
refuse to meet hers. Dick will have some hurts to bear 
among his fellows, for he has been loyally and perhaps 
boastfully proud of me. I have only this to ask, that you 
will each walk with head up and unafraid, with no attempt 
at apology nor justification, and with no unkind word for 
those who in act or judgment seem unkind to me." 

The feeling that they were to be honored with bearing 
a part of the burden of the big man whom they loved so 
deeply stirred the emotions of the little group almost be- 
yond control. Dick moved first, clutching his uncle's 
hand. 

" You bet your life ! " he blurted, then turned and bolted 
from the room. Tayna next flung her arms about her 
uncle's neck and wet his cheek with scalding tears, then 
dashed away after Dick. Last of all, Rose stood with her 
hands upon his shoulders. She was taller for a woman 
than he for a man, and could look almost level into his 
eyes. 

" My brother ! " she said significantly. " My strong, 
noble, innocent " and then a gleam of light shot into her 
eyes as she added " my triumphant brother ! " 

"My bravest, truest of sisters!" The big man 
breathed softly, and drawing the woman to him imprinted 
that kiss upon the forehead which, seldom bestowed, 
marked when given his genuine tribute of respect and af- 
fection to the woman who, older than himself by ten 
years, had been the mother to his orphaned youth and had 
created the obligation which, uncharged, he none the less 
acknowledged and had striven to repay by a life of con- 
scientious devotion to her and to her children. 

The door closed after her " Good night ", and John 
stood alone glancing reflectively about the long, book-lined 
room. Here many of his greatest experiences had come 



356 HELD TO ANSWER 

to him. Here he had caught the far-off kindling visions 
of that rarely human Galilean, with his rarely human 
group about him, trudging over the hills, sitting by the 
side of the sea, teaching, healing, helping. Here he had 
caught the vision of himself following, afar off, two thou- 
sand years behind, but following teaching, healing, 
helping in His name. 

The telephone rang, its sharp, metallic jingle shocking 
the very atmosphere into apprehensive tremors. Yet in- 
stantly recalled to himself and to the new height on which 
he stood, Hampstead lifted the receiver with a firm hand 
and replied in an even, measured voice : " The Sentinel? 
Yes Yes No There is nothing to say Abso- 
lutely! I do." 

The receiver was hung up. The only change in Hamp- 
stead's voice from the beginning to the end of this con- 
versation, the larger part of which had taken place upon 
the other end of the line, was a deepening gravity of utter- 
ance. In a few moments the 'phone rang again. It was 
The Press. The papers all had the story now. The Oak- 
land offices of the San Francisco papers were also clamor- 
ing. Each wanted to know what the minister had to say 
to the damning discovery of the diamonds in his box. 

For them all Hampstead had the same answer : " I 
have nothing to say yet." Some of the inquisitors 
cleverly attempted to draw the clergyman out by suggest- 
ing that there was plenty of opportunity for a counter- 
charge that the diamonds had been planted in his box, 
since it was improbable in the last degree that a man of 
ordinary intelligence would conceal stolen diamonds in a 
safe deposit box held in his own name, the key to which he 
carried in his own pocket; but the self -controlled man at 
the other end of the telephone fell into no such trap. To 
direct attention to an inquiry as to who had visited his 
vault, or might have visited it, during the time since the 



THE SCENE IN THE VAULT 357 

diamonds were stolen was the last thing the minister would 
do. Already he had reasoned that the vault custodian on 
duty in the morning, knowing that Hampstead had not 
been to the vault during the day, but that Assistant Cashier 
Burbeck had, would do some excogitating upon his own 
account; but the minister reflected that this would not 
be dangerous, since the custodian, sharing in the very 
great confidence which Rollie enjoyed, would conclude 
that this young man had been made the innocent messenger 
for depositing the diamonds in the vault, and for the sake 
of unpleasant consequences which might result to the 
bank, would no doubt keep his mouth tightly shut. 

The last call of all came from Haggard, whose city 
editor had just told him that the minister declined any 
sort of an explanation. Haggard was managing editor 
of The Press and Hampstead's true friend. 

" Do you know what this does to your friends ? " de- 
manded Haggard passionately. " It makes them as dumb 
as you are. I know you ; you've got something up your 
sleeve. But this case isn't going to be tried in the courts. 
It's being tried in the newspapers right now. Once the 
court of public opinion goes against you, it's hard to get 
a reversal. And it's going against you from the minute 
this story gets before the public our version of it even 
for we have got to print the news, you know. We've 
never had bigger." 

Some sort of a protest gurgled from Hampstead's lips. 

" Oh," broke out Haggard still more impatiently, " I 
think the majority have too much sense to believe you're 
a common thief ; but they're going to be convinced you're 
a damned fool. A public man had better be found guilty 
of being a thief than an ass, any day. Now, what can I 
say?" 

" I am very sorry," replied Hampstead in a patient 
voice, " but you can say nothing absolutely nothing." 



CHAPTER XXXI 

A MISADVENTURE 

COUNTING back from the scene in the vault room of 
the Amalgamated National, which took place at about 
nine-thirty, it was five and one-half hours to the time 
when Marien Dounay and Rollie Burbeck had steamed 
out with Mrs. Harrington upon her luxurious launch, the 
Black Swan, which was so commodious and powerful that 
it just escaped being a sea-going yacht. 

But now, after the lapse of this five and one-half 
hours, neither Marien nor Rollie had returned, and only 
one of them had an inkling of what might have been hap- 
pening in their absence. Information from the Harring- 
ton residence that the Black Swan would return to the 
pier about ten-thirty, caused a group of hopeful young 
men from the newspaper offices to take up their station 
on the yacht pier slightly in advance of that hour. But 
their wait was long, so long in fact that one by one they 
gave up their vigil and returned to their respective offices 
with no answer as yet to the burning question of what 
had led Miss Dounay to suspect that her diamonds were 
in the minister's safe deposit vault. But the distress and 
disappointment of the reporters was nothing like so great 
as the distress and disappointment upon the Black Swan y 
although for a very different reason. 

The evening with Mrs. Harrington and her guests had 
begun pleasantly enough. The party itself was a jolly 
one, and so far as might be judged from outward ap- 
pearances, Miss Marien Dounay was quite the j oiliest of 



A MISADVENTURE 359 

all ; excepting perhaps Mrs. Harrington herself who was 
elated over the unexpected appearance of the actress; and 
Rollie, over its effect in immediately restoring him to the 
lost favor of his hostess. As many times as it was de- 
manded, Miss Dounay told and retold the story of the 
loss of her jewels. She was the recipient of much sym- 
pathy and of many compliments because of the admirable 
fortitude with which she endured her loss. 

Rollie thought Miss Dounay appeared able to dispense 
with the sympathy, but perceived that she greatly enjoyed 
the compliments. That she should keep the company in 
ignorance that her diamonds were to be recovered and 
continue to enact the role of the heroine who had been 
cruelly robbed of her chief possession, did not even sur- 
prise him. It was her affair entirely since she had bound 
him to secrecy, and whatever the motive, in the present 
state of his nerves, he was exceedingly grateful for it; 
having meantime not a doubt that the disclosure would 
be made ultimately in a manner which would permit the 
actress to gratify to the full her childish love of theatrical 
sensation. 

The cruise began with a run far up San Pablo Bay to- 
ward Carquinez Straits, followed by a straightaway drive 
out through the Golden Gate to watch the sun sink be- 
tween the horns of the Farallones; but here the heavy 
swells made the ladies gasp and clamor for a return to 
the shelter of the Bay. Re-entering the Gate as night 
fell, there was good fun in playing hide-and-seek from 
searchlight practice of the forts on either side the famous 
tideway, and some mischievous satisfaction in lounging 
in the track of the floundering, pounding ferryboats, and 
getting vigorously whistled out of the way. It was even 
enjoyable to grow sentimental over the phosphorescent 
glow of the waves in the wake or the play of the moon- 
beams on the bone-white crest at the bow. But after an 



360 HELD TO ANSWER 

hour or so of this, when it would seem that all of these 
things together with the tonic of the fresh salt breeze had 
made everybody wolfishly hungry, Mrs. Harrington's but- 
ler, expertly assisted, opened great hampers of eatables 
and drinkables, and began to serve them in the cabin which 
would have been rather spacious if the crowd had not 
been so large. 

" Calmer water, James, while supper is being served ! " 
Mrs. Harrington had ordered with a peace-be-still air. 

James communicated the order to the captain, who un- 
derstood very well that Mrs. Harrington was a lady to be 
obeyed. But it happened that there was a very fresh 
breeze on the Bay that night, and that a swell which was a 
kind of left-over from a gale outside two days before was 
still sloshing about inside, so that " calmer water " was 
not just the easiest thing to find, though the captain looked 
for it hard. 

" Calmer water, James, I said ! " Mrs. Harrington di- 
rected reprovingly, after an interval of watchful impa- 
tience, accompanying the observation by a look that shot 
barbs into the eye of the butler. A close observer would 
have noticed and James was a close observer of his 
mistress that Mrs. Harrington's neck swelled slightly, 
and that a flush began to mount upon her cheeks. 

James knew this pouter-pigeon swelling well and its 
significance. Mrs. Harrington must now be obeyed. 
Calmer water had to be had, if it had to be made. 

" Back of Yerba Buena, it is calmer," the lady con- 
cluded, with an increase of acerbity. 

James lost no time in conveying this second command 
and a description of its accompanying signal, to the cap- 
tain. 

" ' Behind the Goat,' she said," James concluded. 

Now this island which humps like a camel in the middle 
of the San Francisco Bay is known to the esthetics as 



A MISADVENTURE 361 

Yerba Buena, but to folks and to mariners it is Goat 
Island. James was folks; the captain was a mariner. 
Mrs. Harrington might have been esthetic. 

" She draws too much to go nosin' round in there," 
replied the captain reluctantly, and explained his reluctance 
with a mixture of emphasis and the picturesque, by add- 
ing, " Behind the Goat it's shoal f rorrl hell to break- 
fast." 

" She said it," replied James truculently ; and stood by 
to see the helm shift. 

" In she goes then, dod gast her ! " muttered the cap- 
tain. 

" So much calmer in here under the sheltering lee of 
Yerba Buena," chirped Miss Gwendolyn Briggs, another 
quarter of an hour later. 

" Why, to be sure," assented the hostess, as with a 
provident air she surveyed her contented and consuming 
guests who were ranged like a circling frieze upon the 
seat of Pullman plush which ran round the luxurious 
cabin, with James and his two assistants serving from 
the long table in the center. 

It has been hinted that Mrs. Harrington was inclined to 
stoutness. She was also inclined to Russian caviar. Hav- 
ing seen her guests abundantly supplied, she lifted to her 
lips a triangle of toast, thickly spread with the Romanof 
confection. James stood before her, supporting a plate 
upon which were more triangles of toast and more caviar 
in a frilled and corrugated carton. 

But quite abruptly Mrs. Harrington, who was proper 
as well as expert in all her food-taking manners, did an 
unaccountable thing. She turned the toast sidewise and 
smeared the caviar across her wide cheek almost from 
the corner of her mouth to her ear. At the same mo- 
ment James himself did an even more unaccountable 
thing. He lurched forward, decorated his mistress's 



362 HELD TO ANSWER 

shoulders with the triangles of toast, like a new form of 
epaulette and upset the carton of caviar upon her ex- 
pansive bosom, where the dark, oleaginous mass clung 
helplessly, quivered hesitantly, and then began to roll 
away in tiny, black spheres and to send out trickling ex- 
ploratory streams, the general tendency of which was 
downward. 

Nor was Mrs. Harrington alone in this sudden eccen- 
tricity of deportment. Over on the right Major Hassler, 
florid of person and extremely dignified of manner, was 
filling the wine glass of Mrs. Marston Conant, when 
abruptly he moved the mouth of the bottle a full twelve 
inches and began to pour its contents in a frothy gurgling 
stream down the back of the withered neck of John 
Ray, a rich, irascible, slightly deaf, and sinfully rich 
bachelor, who at the moment had leaned very low and 
forward to catch a remark that the lady next beyond 
was making. As if not content with the ruin thus 
wrought, Major Hassler next swept the bottle in a dizzy, 
cascading circle round him, sprinkling every toilet within 
a radius of three yards, and after dropping the bottle and 
flourishing his arms wildly, ended by plunging both hands 
to the bottom of the huge bowl of punch on the end of the 
table nearest him. 

The only palliating feature of these amazing perfor- 
mances of Major Hassler, of James, and of Mrs. Har- 
rington, was that nearly everybody else was executing 
the same sort of scrambling, lurching, colliding, capsizing, 
and smearing manoeuvres upon their own account. For 
a moment everybody glared at everybody else accusingly, 
and then Ernest Cartwright, sitting on the floor where 
he had been hurled, offered an interpretation of the phe- 
nomena. 

"We struck something! " he suggested brightly. 

" By Gad ! " declared Major Hassler with sudden con- 



A MISADVENTURE 363 

viction, as he straightened up and viewed his dripping 
hands and cuffs with an expression quite indescribable. 
" By Gad ! That's just what I think ! " 

" James ! " murmured a voice almost entirely smothered 
by rage. 

James, despite the horrible fear in his soul, dared to 
turn his gaze upon his mistress, when suddenly a spasm of 
pain crossed the lady's face. 

"Oh!" she gasped. "Oh, my heart!" Wrath had 
given way to fright, and the hue of wrath to pallor. 

In the meantime, the Black Swan was standing very 
still, as still as if on land, which to be exact was where 
she was. From without came the sound of waves slap- 
ping idly against her sides, and then she shivered while 
the screws were reversed and churned desperately. From 
end to end of the cabin there were " Ohs " and " Ahs," 
and shrieks of dismay, with short ejaculations, as the 
guests struggled to their feet and stood to view the ruin 
which the sudden stoppage of the craft had wrought upon 
toilets, dispositions, and the atmosphere of Mrs. Harring- 
ton's happy party. 

The next half hour, to employ a marine phrase, was 
devoted to salvage of one sort and another. One thing 
became speedily clear. The Black Swan had her nose 
fast in most tenacious clay. No amount of churning of 
the screw could drag her off. And no amount of tooting 
of whistles brought any sort of craft to her assistance. 
She was stuck there till the tide should take her off. 
The tide was running out. By rough calculation, it 
would be eight hours till it came back strong enough to 
lift up her stern and rock her nose loose. 

It was an unpleasant prospect. 

With Mrs. Harrington sitting propped and pale in the 
end of the cabin, her guests tried to cheer her by making 
light of their plight and the prospect; but as the waters 



364 HELD TO ANSWER 

slipped out and out from under the Black Swan, till she 
lay on the bottom with a drunken list, and the hours crept 
along with dreary slowness through the tiresome night, 
one disposition after another succumbed to the inevitable 
and became cattish or bearish, according to sex. But 
the very first disposition of all to go permanently bad 
was that of Marien Dounay. Young Burbeck thought he 
understood to the full her capacity to be disagreeable, but 
learned in the first hour that this was a ridiculously mis- 
taken assumption. 

Nor could any mere petulance on account of weariness 
or cramped quarters among people who under these cir- 
cumstances speedily became a bore to themselves and to 
each other, account for her behavior. Never had Rollie 
seen so many manifestations of her feline restlessness, 
or her wiry endurance. When other women had sunk 
exhausted to sleep upon a cushion in a corner, or upon 
the shoulders of an escort who obligingly supported the 
fair head with his own weary body, Miss Dounay sat 
bolt and desperate, staring at the myriad shoreward lights 
as if they held some secret her wilful eyes would yet 
bore out of them. 

Though Rollie loyally tried, as endurance would per- 
mit, to watch with Marien through the night, sustaining 
snubs and shafts with humble patience and venturing an 
occasional dismal attempt at cheer, the first sign of re- 
laxation in Miss Dounay's mood was vouchsafed not to 
him but to Frangois. 

This was when at eight o'clock the next morning, after 
toiling painfully up the steps at the landing pier, her 
eyes fell upon the huge black limousine, with the faithful 
chauffeur, his arms folded upon the wheel, his head 
leaning forward upon them, sound asleep. He had been 
there since ten-thirty of the night before. Other chauf- 
feurs had waited and fumed, had sputtered to and fro 



A MISADVENTURE 365 

in joy-riding intervals, and had gone home ; but not Fran- 
gois. A smile of pride and satisfaction played across 
Miss Dounay's face at this exhibition of faithfulness, 
and especially in the presence of this jaded, dispirited 
crowd. 

" Frangois," Miss Dounay exclaimed, prodding his el- 
bow until his head rolled sleepily into wakefulness, " I 
could kiss you ! " 

However, she did not. Rollie opened the door, Miss 
Dounay stepped back, motioned into the comfortable 
depths Mrs. Harrington and as many other of the ladies 
as the car would accommodate, and was whirled away. 



CHAPTER XXXII 

THE COWARD AND HIS CONSCIENCE 

ON the theory that his duty as an escort still survived, 
Rollie was given a seat upon the limousine beside Fran- 
gois; but at the door of the St. Albans Miss Dounay dis- 
missed him as curtly as if she had quite forgotten that he 
was now or ever of any importance to her. 

While to escape a breakfast with that thistle-tempered 
lady on such a morning would, under ordinary condi- 
tions, have been a distinct relief, this morning it ap- 
pealed to Rollie as merely palliative. It was a mercy, but 
no more. He did not expect to know one single sensa- 
tion of real relief until he saw Miss Dounay holding her 
precious diamonds once more in her hands. It was his 
intention, after a hasty breakfast, to make the swiftest 
possible transit to the residence of the Reverend John 
Hampstead and there secure the loan of a certain key 
and rush back to the bank. Within, say, seven minutes 
thereafter, he anticipated that this taste of true relief 
would come to him. 

It was twenty minutes past eight as he crossed the wide 
lobby of the hotel. His physical condition was far from 
enviable. He was clad in a baggy-elbowed, wretchedly 
wrinkled, and somewhat stained yachting suit. He had 
not slept since the night before, in which, he now recalled, 
he had not slept at all. During this extended period of 
wakefulness he had been upset and out of his orbit. Yet 
all this while the world had been rocking along, provok- 
ingly undisturbed by his troubles, and right now a big 



THE COWARD AND HIS CONSCIENCE 367 

new day was hurrying on. The cars were banging out- 
side, and the newsboys were making a devil of a racket 
about something, their cries filling the street and ringing 
vibrantly into the lobby from without. Everything was 
strident and noisy, jarring upon his nerves. His first 
instinct was a dive for the bar, but he stopped before the 
door was reached. He was on a new tack. He resolved 
not to drink to-day. He had signed no pledges; but he 
felt that a highball was not in keeping with what he pro- 
posed to do. 

Instead he veered toward the grillroom and ordered a 
pot of hot, hot coffee with rolls. To fill the impatient in- 
terval between the order and the service, he snatched 
eagerly at the morning paper in the extended hand of a 
waiter. At the first glance his eyes dilated, and his lips 
parted. 

When the coffee came, he was still absorbed. The 
dark liquid was cold before he swallowed it, mechanically, 
in great gulps. It was well the chair had arms, or his 
body might have fallen from it. His mind was reeling 
like a drunken thing as he tried to grasp the process by 
which a woman's malice had used him for a vicious as- 
sault upon the man who had saved him when he stood 
eye to eye with ruin. 

Slowly Burbeck's muddled intelligence groped back- 
ward over the events of yesterday. What a fool, he! 
How clever, she ! How demoniacally clever ! No won- 
der she forgave him so lightly; no wonder she cooed so 
ecstatically once she found the diamonds were in the 
preacher's vault! No wonder she had made sure that 
he went upon the yachting party, even to the point of 
going herself. It was to keep him out of reach until her 
diabolical plot against Hampstead could take effect. And 
no wonder she sat bolt and staring at the shore lights all 
the long night through. 



368 HELD TO ANSWER' 

But why did she plot against Hampstead? What was 
between the clergyman and herself? Why did Hamp- 
stead not strike out boldly and clear himself at one stroke, 
by the mere opening of his lips? He not only had not 
defended himself, but the papers declared he had a guilty 
air, that he fought against the opening of the box, and 
bore himself in a manner that convinced even his bonds- 
men he was guilty. 

But the newspaper chanced to relate as an interesting 
detail how the minister had quickly recovered his self- 
possession, to the extent of rearranging the contents of 
his box after their handling by Assistant District Attor- 
ney Searle, and that he had even casually destroyed one 
paper with the remark that it was something no longer to 
be preserved. 

This almost accidental sentence gave Rollie the strang- 
est feeling of all. He knew what it must have been 
that was destroyed, the evidence of his own indebted- 
ness, to explain which would inevitably lead to his ex- 
posure. This, too, accounted for the preacher's protest 
and his apparent guilty fear. He could not know the 
diamonds were in the box ; he did know the I. O. U. was 
there. He had destroyed it at the very moment when 
the discovery of the diamonds must surely have convinced 
him that the culprit he was shielding had betrayed him 
like a Judas. 

" And yet he stands pat ! " breathed Rollie huskily, 
while the greatest emotion of human gratitude that his 
heart could hold swelled his breast almost to bursting. 

" I didn't know they made a man that would stand the 
gaff like that," he confessed after a further reflective in- 
terval. 

Burbeck's first instinct was to rush to the telephone 
and acquit himself in the minister's mind of all complicity 
in the plot ; for inevitably Rollie thought first of himself. 



THE COWARD AND HIS CONSCIENCE 369 

But thought for himself recalled the threat of Marien 
Dounay. How fiercely she had warned him that his 
secret was not his own, but hers! He grasped the sig- 
nificance of her threat now as she had shrewdly calculated 
that he would. Let him murmur a word, let him attempt, 
no matter how subtly or adroitly, to set in motion any 
plan that would loosen the tightening coils about John 
Hampstead, and this woman would turn her crazy venge- 
ance on him, would fasten his crime upon him, would 
do a baser thing than that, would make it appear that 
he had deliberately placed the diamonds in the minister's 
vault, thus causing her innocently to do him this grave 
injustice. Thus in his exposure he would not be con- 
templated with indulgent sadness as a gentleman weakling 
who had descended to vulgar crime to make good an- 
other crime as heinous; but, on the contrary, would be 
regarded hatefully, repulsively, with loathsome scorn and 
withering contempt, as a despicable ingrate base enough 
to shift his guilt to the shoulders of the one who had 
rescued him. 

Before this prospect, fear paralyzed every other im- 
pulse of his heart, every faculty of his brain. His head 
was aching violently. He pressed his hands against his 
temples, and wondered how he could get quietly out of 
here and where he could fly. 

A secluded room of this very hotel suggested the surest 
isolation. He got up-stairs to the writing room, where 
a hastily scrawled note to Parma, the cashier, made the 
night upon the Bay the excuse for his absence from the 
bank for the day. Another to his mother, he dared 
not hear her voice telling him of what had befallen her 
beloved pastor, that he was too weary even to come 
home and would sleep the day out in Oakland, leaving 
his exact whereabouts unknown to avoid the possibility 
of disturbance. 



370 HELD TO ANSWER 

Mustering one final rally of his volitional powers, 
Rollo approached the desk and registered as some one 
not himself before the very eyes of the clerk, who knew 
him well and laughingly became accessory to the subter- 
fuge. 

Once within the privacy of his room, the impulse to 
telephone to John Hampstead and tell that distracted man 
a thing which he would be greatly desiring to know, 
came again to the young man ; but in part exhaustion and 
in part cowardice led him to postpone that simple act till 
he had slept, rested, thought. 

A few minutes later, with shades darkened and cloth- 
ing half removed, he buried his feverish head among the 
pillows and sought to bury consciousness as well. But 
the latter attempt was a failure, for the young man found 
himself prodded into the extreme of wake fulness, 
thinking, thinking, thinking, until he was all but mad. 
Out of all this thinking gradually emerged one solid, tin- 
shifting fact. This was the character of John Hamp- 
stead. He, Rollo Burbeck, might be a shriveling, palter- 
ing coward; Marien Dounay might be only a beautiful 
fiend; but John Hampstead was a strong, unwavering 
man. John Hampstead would s-tand firm ! 

Buoying his soul on this idea, Rollie dropped off to 
feverish slumber. But the sleeper awoke suddenly with 
one question hooking at his vitals. Was any man phys- 
ically equal to such a strain? Was John Hampstead 
still standing firm like the huge human bulwark he had 
begun to seem? 

Shrill cries floated upward from the street, sounding 
above the persistent whang of car wheels upon the rails. 
These were the voices of the newsboys crying the noon 
edition. 

Rollie rose uncertainly and tottered to the telephone, 
where he asked that the latest papers be sent up to him, 



THE COWARD AND HIS CONSCIENCE 371 

and awaited their coming in an ague of suspense and 
fear. 

When they were received, he found little upon the 
front of either but the story of the minister's arrest for 
the theft of the diamonds and the finding of the jewels 
in his box, coupled with fresh emphasis upon his exhibi- 
tion of the demeanor of a guilty man. It flowed up and 
down the chopped-off and sawed-out columns, liberally 
besprinkled with photographs of the chief actors in the 
drama, then turned upon the second page and spread 
itself riotously, in various types. 

Through these paragraphs the mind of young Bur- 
beck scrambled like a terrier digging for a rat, pawing 
his way desperately to make sure of the answer to his 
one, all-consuming question : Was the preacher still 
standing? The first paper declared accusingly that he 
was; that, like a guilty man taking advantage of techni- 
calities, he refused to speak. The second paper affirmed 
the same, but with even greater emphasis, though without 
the meaner implication. 

In the spread-out story there were set forth details and 
conjectures innumerable that would have interested and 
amazed Rollie, if his mind had been able to grasp them 
at all; but it was not. It fastened upon the one thing of 
ultimate significance in his present water-logged state. 
Hugging in his arms the papers which conveyed this su- 
preme assurance to him, as if they had been the spar to 
which his soul was clinging, he rolled over upon the bed 
with a sigh of intense relief and sank instantly into long 
and unbroken sleep. 

Hunger wakened him at eight in the evening; but in- 
stead of ringing for food, he asked for the evening pa- 
pers. Again their message was reassuring. His nerves 
were stronger now ; his soul was gaining the respite which 
it needed. He dispatched a messenger to his home for 



372 HELD TO ANSWER 

fresh linen and a business suit, turned on the water in 
the bath, arranged for the presence of a barber in his 
room in fifteen minutes, and the service of a hearty din- 
ner in the same place in thirty. 

The refreshment of invigorating sleep, plus the spec- 
tacle of John Hampstead, that Atlas of a man, standing 
rock-like beneath the world of another's burden, had in- 
spired Rollie sufficiently to enable him to resume once 
more the pose of his presumed position in life. To be 
sure, he was still under the spell of his fear, and could 
not see himself as yet doing one thing to weaken the 
pressure upon his benefactor. 

For this dastardly inactivity he suffered a flood of 
self-reproaches, but stemmed them with reflections upon 
the irreproachable character of the minister, and his im- 
pregnable position in the community. He reflected how 
futile and puerile all the endeavors of the newspapers to 
involve this good man in scandal must prove. How 
ridiculous the idea that he could be a common thief! 
How suddenly the wide, sane public, after a day or two's 
debauch of excitement, would turn and bestow again their 
unwavering confidence upon this man and laurel his brow 
with fresh and more permanent expressions of their re- 
gard for his high character. Reflections like this, winged 
by his own inside knowledge of the true greatness of 
the victim, together with the soothing influence of a bath, 
the ministrations of a skilled barber, and the sedative 
effects of a good dinner, sent young Burbeck to his 
home somewhere about ten o'clock in the evening, to all 
appearances quite his usual, happy-looking self. 

The telephone had apprised his mother of his coming, 
and she had remained up to meet him. 

" Oh, my son ! " she murmured happily, as he laid his 
smooth cheek against hers and mingled his wavy brown 
hair with the silvering threads of her own dark tresses. 



THE COWARD AND HIS CONSCIENCE 373 

The young man gave his mother a gentle pressure of 
his hands upon her shoulders, then turned his face and 
kissed her cheek, but ventured no word. A sense of 
blood guiltiness had come upon him at the contact of her 
presence. 

"Of course you have seen what that woman and the 
papers are doing to Brother Hampstead," his mother ob- 
served sadly. 

" Yes," replied the young man, in a tone as dejected as 
hers. 

" They are tearing his reputation to pieces," the mother 
went on. " There is hardly a shred of it left now. Like 
vultures they are digging over every detail of his life and 
putting a sinister interpretation upon the most innocent 
things. The worst of it is that even our own people begin 
to turn against him. Some of the people for whom he 
has done the most and suffered the most are readiest 
with their tongues to blast his character. It is a sad 
commentary upon the way of the world." 

"Still," urged Rollie, "the man is strong; his char- 
acter is so upright; his purposes are so high and so un- 
selfish that no permanent harm can come to him. His 
enemies must sooner or later be confuted, and he will 
emerge from all this pother " Pother: it took great 
resolution for Rollie to force so large a fact into so small 
a word " a bigger and a more influential man in the 
community, even a more useful one than before." 

Mrs. Burbeck listened to this tribute from her beloved 
son to her beloved minister with a joy that was pathetic. 
She had never known him to speak so heartily, with such 
unreserved admiration before. It told her things about 
the character of her son she had hoped but had not known. 
Yet she felt herself compelled to disagree with her son's 
conclusions. 

" That is where you are wrong, my boy," she said, 



374 HELD TO ANSWER 

again in tones of sadness. " The public mind is a strange V 
consciousness. If it once gets a view of a man through 
the smoked glasses of prejudice, it seldom consents to 
look at him any other way. Remove to-morrow every 
vestige of evidence against Brother Hampstead, and, 
mark my words! the fickle public will begin to discover 
or invent new reasons why, once having hurled its idol 
down, it will not put him up again." 

" You take it too seriously, mother," suggested Rollie 
half-heartedly, after a moment of silence. 

" No, I do not," Mrs. Burbeck replied, shaking her 
head gravely. " The worst of it is the man's absolute 
silence. If he would only say something. There must 
be some sort of explanation. If he took the diamonds, 
there must have been some laudable reason. This morn- 
ing there were literally tens of thousands of people hop- 
ing for such an explanation and ready to give to him 
the benefit of every doubt. There are fewer such to- 
night. There will be fewer still to-morrow. 

"If somebody else stole them, and Brother Hamp- 
stead, to protect the thief, planned to hold them tem- 
porarily while immunity was gained for the coward, he 
must see now that he made a terrible mistake, that for 
once he has carried his extravagant leniency entirely too 
far. If this theory is correct, the thief must have fled 
beyond the very reach of the newspapers, or be insane, 
or a drug fiend, or something like that. I cannot con- 
ceive of any human being so base, or in a position so 
delicate that he would not instantly make a public con- 
fession to spare his benefactor." 

Rollie had turned and was looking straight at his 
mother, almost reproachfully, certainly protestingly, at 
the torture she was causing him. She saw this strange 
look and stopped. 

" Oh, my boy," she exclaimed. " You are so sympa- 



THE COWARD AND HIS CONSCIENCE 375 

thetic. How proud, how selfishly happy it makes me 
to feel that nothing like this can ever come upon my 
son!" 

But Rollie's eyes had shifted quickly to a picture on 
the opposite wall, and he braced himself desperately 
against these bomb-like assaults of his mother upon his 
position. 

" Yes," he said after an interval, " it must be pretty 
hard on Hampstead." But though he made this remark 
seem natural, his brain was again reeling. With mighty 
effort he forced himself to give the conversation another 
turn by a question which had been fascinating him during 
the whole day. 

" Tell me," he asked, " how is father taking it? " 

" Very hardly," Mrs. Burbeck confessed. " You 
know your father: so proud, so exact and scrupulous in 
all his dealings, with his word better than the average 
man's bond, yet not lenient toward the man who errs. 
He thinks everybody good or bad, every soul white or 
black. When Brother Hampstead was prosecuting law- 
breakers in court, father was proud of him ; but when he 
goes off helping jail-birds and fallen women, father is 
harsh and utterly unsympathetic. 

" Last night when the first charge appeared, father was 
greatly incensed, because at last, he said, Brother Hamp- 
stead had done the thing he always feared, brought the 
church into a notoriety that was unpleasant. This morn- 
ing, at the story of the diamonds in the vault, he was 
dumbfounded. To-night he talks of nothing but that, 
whatever the outcome, All People's shall clear its skirts 
of the unpleasantness by requesting Brother Hampstead's 
resignation." 

" Resignation ! " Rollie gasped. " Resignation sim- 
ply for doing his duty ! Why," he burst out excitedly, 
*' that would be treachery ! It would be the act of Judas. 



376 HELD TO ANSWER 

Don't let father do it, mother," he pleaded. " Don't let 
him put me in that position ! " 

A wild look had come into the young man's face as he 
spoke. 

" You? In what position? " 

Mrs. Burbeck was surprised at the expression on her 
son's face. 

For a moment Rollie floundered wildly. 

" Why, you see I I believe in Hampstead. I 
I have told the bank that he is all right, no matter what 
happens. I don't want my own father reading him out 
of the church, do I ? " 

Mrs. Burbeck' s perplexity gave way to smiling com- 
prehension, which was met by relief and some approach 
to composure upon the features of her son, who felt that 
he had escaped the eddy of an appalling danger. 

" Naturally," replied Mrs. Burbeck soothingly. " What 
a loyal nature yours is! By the way, Rollie," and the 
force of a new idea energized her glance and tone; " it 
is only half-past ten. Wouldn't it be fine of you to just 
run over and give Brother Hampstead a pressure of the 
hand to-night, and tell him how loyally your heart is. 
with him in this trying situation? It would mean so- 
much to him coming from a strong, successful, young 
man of the world like you, whose position he must ad- 
mire so much ! " 

Rollie's face went white, and his eyes roved despair- 
ingly. It must have been well for the mother's peace of 
mind, as it certainly was for his, that, having asked her 
question, instead of studying his face while she waited 
for the answer, she let her eyes fall to the seal ring she 
had given him upon his twenty-first birthday, and busied 
herself with studying out again the complexities of the 
monogram and holding off the hand itself to see how 
handsomely the ring adorned it. 



THE COWARD AND HIS CONSCIENCE 377 

" I think I'd rather not to-night, mother," Rollie re- 
plied, as if after a moment of deliberation. " This thing 
works me up terribly you can see that and I'm a 
bit short on sleep yet. If I went to see Brother Hamp- 
stead to-night, I'm sure I shouldn't sleep a wink after- 
ward. Besides, my coming might alarm him. It might 
make him think his plight is worse than it is ; it would be 
so unusual." 

Again the mother-love surged above any other emo- 
tion, " You are right," she admitted, caressing his 
hand. " It was only an impulse of mine, anyway. You 
must be tired, poor boy." 

" Pretty tired, mother," he confessed truthfully; then 
stooped and kissed her upon the cheek and seemed to 
leave the room naturally enough, although in his soul he 
knew that he fled from her presence like a criminal from 
his conscience. 



CHAPTER XXXIII 

THE BATTLE OF THE HEADLINES 

HAMPSTEAD was determined not to show the white 
feather. The morning after the discovery of the dia- 
monds in his box, he made the effort to go about his 
daily duties unconcernedly and even happily, with a smile 
of confidence upon his face. His bearing was to pro- 
claim his innocence. But it would not work. Crowds 
gaped. Individuals stared. Reporters hounded. The 
very people who needed his help and had been accustomed 
to receive it gratefully, appeared to shrink from his pres- 
ence. At the homes where he called, an atmosphere of re- 
straint and artificiality was created. He tried to thaw 
this and failed dismally ; it was evident that the recipients 
of his attentions also tried, but also failed, for all the 
while their doubts peeped out at him. 

After half a day the minister gave up and sat at home 
immured, besieged, impounded. He was like a man 
upon a rock isolated by a deluge, the waters rolling hori- 
zon-wide and surging higher with every edition of the 
newspapers. 

Oh, those newspapers! John Hampstead had not 
realized before how much of modern existence is lived in 
the newspapers. So amazingly skillful were they in 
sweeping away his public standing that the process was 
actually interesting. He found himself absorbed by it, 
viewing it almost impersonally, like a mere spectator, 
moved by it, swayed to one side or the other, as the record 
seemed to run. The description of the scene in the vault 



THE BATTLE OF THE HEADLINES 379 

room, even as it appeared unembellished in Haggard's 
paper, overwhelmed him. 

" It is the manner of a thief hopelessly guilty," he con- 
fessed. 

On the other hand, when Haggard's paper in an edi- 
torial asked argumentatively : " Why should this man 
steal ? What need had he for money in large sums ? " 
John's judgment approved the soundness of such a de- 
fense. " There were a score," affirmed the editorial, 
" perhaps a hundred men who had and would freely sup- 
ply Doctor Hampstead with all the money necessary for 
the exigencies of the work to which he notoriously de- 
voted all his time. As for his personal needs, the man 
lived simply. He had no wants beyond his income." 

" True perfectly true. A good point that," conceded 
Hampstead to himself. 

But that evening one of the San Francisco papers re- 
ported that at about the time the diamonds were stolen, the 
Reverend Hampstead had approached various persons in 
Oakland with a view to borrowing a large sum of money 
without stating for what the money was required. The 
paper volunteered the conjecture that the minister, 
through speculation in stocks, had overdrawn some fund 
of which he was a trustee, and of which he was presently 
to be called upon to give an accounting ; hence the desper- 
ate resort to the theft of the diamonds and the temporary 
holding of them in his vault, boldly counting on his own 
immunity from suspicion. 

This conjecture was extremely damaging. It skill- 
fully suggested a logical hypothesis upon which the min- 
ister could be assumed to be a thief ; and so high had been 
the man's standing that some such hypothesis was neces- 
sary. 

As Hampstead read this, he felt the viciousness of the 
thrust. It was false, but it had the color of an actual in- 



380 HELD TO ANSWER 

cident behind it. Some clerk, bookkeeper, or secretary to 
one of the men who had so promptly enabled him to meet 
Rollie's defalcation, seeing the comparatively large sum in 
cash passed to the hand of the minister, had done a little 
thinking at the time and when the arrest came had done a 
little talking. 

Yet the morning papers of the next day had apparently 
forgotten this incident. They were off in full cry upon a 
much more dangerous trail by digging deeper into the re- 
lations between the minister and the actress. As if from 
hotel employees, or some one in Miss Dounay's service, 
one of them had elicited and put together a story of all 
the calls that Hampstead had made upon Miss Dounay in 
her hotel during the five weeks she had been at the St. 
Albans. This story made it appear that the minister had 
become infatuated with the actress, and that he had sought 
every means of spending time in her company. 

It was skillfully revealed that Miss Dounay at first had 
been greatly attracted by the personality and the apparent 
sincerity of the clergyman; but as her social acquaintance 
in the city rapidly extended and the work upon her Lon- 
don production became more engrossing, she had less and 
less time for him, and was finally compelled to deny her- 
self almost entirely to the divine's unwelcome attentions, 
notwithstanding which the clergyman still found means of 
forcing himself upon the actress. . One such occasion, it 
appeared, had prevented the appearance of Miss Dounay 
at a dinner given by a very "prominent society lady of the 
town, where the brilliant woman was to have been the 
guest of honor. Some one had even recalled that the 
minister was not an invited guest at the dinner during 
which the diamonds were stolen. He had presented him- 
self, it seemed, after the affair was in progress and de- 
parted before its conclusion. 

But it was left to one of the evening papers of this day 



THE BATTLE OF THE HEADLINES 381 

to explode the climactic story of the series. The writers 
of the morning story had been careful to protect the con- 
duct of Miss Dounay from injurious inference; but now 
the Evening Messenger went upon the streets with a story 
that left Miss Dounay's character to take care of itself, 
and purported boldly to defend the minister. 

PREACHER NOT THIEF,, boldly ventured the headlines. 
The report declared that an intimacy of long standing had 
existed between the minister and the actress. The public 
was reminded of what part of it had forgotten and the 
rest never knew, that John Hampstead had himself been 
an actor. The narrative told how the minister had made 
his professional debut in Los Angeles by carrying this 
same Marien Dounay in his arms in Quo Vadis, night 
after night, in scene after scene, during the run of the 
play ; and hinted broadly of an attachment beginning then 
which had ripened quickly into something very powerful, 
so powerful, in fact, that when Hampstead was playing 
with the " People's ", an obscure stock company in San 
Francisco, Miss Dounay had broken with Mowrey at the 
Grand Opera House, because he refused to have the awk- 
ward amateur in his company, and had herself gone out to 
the little theater in Hayes Valley and lent to its perform- 
ance the glamour of her name and personality, merely to 
be near the idol upon whom her affections had fixed them- 
selves so fiercely. 

Actors now playing in San Francisco who had been 
members of the People's Stock at the time remembered 
that the couple succeeded but poorly in suppressing signs 
of their devotion to each other, and the stage manager, 
now retired, was able to recall how in the garden scene of 
East Lynne, Miss Dounay had deliberately changed the 
" business " between Hampstead and herself in order that 
she might receive a kiss upon the lips instead of upon the 
forehead as the script required. 



382 HELD TO ANSWER 

This mosaic of truth and falsehood related with gusta- 
tory detail a violent quarrel between the two which oc- 
curred one night in a restaurant prominent in the night 
life of the old city, the result of which was that Miss 
Dounay cast off her domineering and self-willed lover en- 
tirely. 

" After a few weeks," the article observed soberly, 
" the broken-hearted lover surprised his friends by re- 
nouncing the stage and entering upon the life of the min- 
istry as a solace to his wounded affections." 

In support of this, it was pointed out that the minister 
had never married nor been known to show the slightest 
tendency toward gallantries in his necessarily wide associ- 
ation with women. 

The glittering achievement of vindication was next at- 
tempted by the Messenger's story. This admittedly was 
theory, but it was set forth with confidence and particu- 
larity, as follows: 

" The return of the actress, in the prime of her beauty 
and at the very zenith of her career, upon a visit to Cali- 
fornia, which had been her childhood home, not unnat- 
urally led to a revival of the old passion. For a time the 
two were running about together as happy as cooing doves. 
Then a clash came. This was over the question of the 
harmonizing of the two careers. Obviously, Miss 
Dounay could not be expected to give up hers, and the 
minister was now so devoted to his own work that he 
found himself unwilling to make the required concession 
upon his part. 

" A serious disagreement resulted. The actress was a 
woman of high temper. It had been the custom to de- 
posit her diamonds in the minister's box as a matter of 
protection. On the night of the party, she had com- 
mitted them to him, as usual. But the next morning, 
angered over the clergyman's failure to keep an appoint- 



THE BATTLE OF THE HEADLINES 383 

ment with her, the actress, in a moment of reckless pas- 
sion, had charged him with stealing them. Under the cir- 
cumstances, Hampstead, as a chivalrous man, declined to 
speak, knowing full well that sooner or later the woman's 
passion would relent, and she would release him from the 
awkward position in which he stood." 

There were holes in this story. At places it did not 
fit the facts ; as for instance, the minor fact that by com- 
mon agreement the minister did not leave the dinner party 
until considerably after twelve, consequently at a time 
when the bank vault was inaccessible. There was also the 
major fact that the theft of the diamonds was discovered 
and reported at two o'clock in the morning, and not the 
next day " after the minister's failure to keep an appoint- 
ment with the actress had angered her." 

But these trifling discrepancies were disregarded by the 
eager rewrite man, who threw this story together from the 
harvesting of half a dozen leg-weary reporters. 

Xor did they matter greatly to Hampstead. He read 
the story with whitening lips. He recognized it as the 
sort of vindication that would ruin him. It made his 
position a thousand times more difficult. It was infinitely 
harder to keep silence when the very truth itself was 
blunderingly mixed to malign him. 

Nor did the public mind the discrepancies greatly. The 
Messenger's story was a triumph of journalism. It was 
the most eagerly read, the most convincingly detailed ex- 
planation of what had occurred. The public absorbed it 
with a sense of relief that at last it had learned how such 
a man as John Hampstead could have fallen as he had. 
The story even excited a little sympathy for the minister 
by revealing the unexpected element of romance in his life. 
Nevertheless, its publication upon the evening of the third 
day after the minister's arrest battered away the last pre- 
tense of any considerable section of the popular mind 



384 HELD TO ANSWER 

that, whatever the outcome of his trial, Hampstead was 
any longer a man entitled to public confidence. 

Flying rumor, published gossip, and vociferous assault 
upon one side, combined with guilty silence upon the 
other, had absolutely completed the work of destruction. 
The reputation of the pastor of All People's was hope- 
lessly blasted. Even to the minister, sitting alone like a 
convict in his cell, this effect was clearly apparent. The 
question of whether he was a thief or not a thief had 
faded into the background of triviality. The issue was 
whether he, a trusted minister, while occupying his pulpit 
and bearing himself as a chaste and irreproachable serv- 
ant of mankind, had yielded to an intrigue of the flesh. 
The indictment did not lie in definite specifications that 
could be refuted, but in inferences that were unescapable. 

The riot of reckless gossip had made the preacher's 
honor common. Anything was believable. Each single 
incident became a convincing link in the chain of evidence 
that John Hampstead was an apostate to the creed and 
character he espoused. 

The minister in his study, his desk and chair an island 
surrounded by a sea of rumpled newspapers, harried on 
every side by doubt and suspicion so aggressive that it al- 
most forced him to doubt and suspect himself, laid his 
face upon his desk. 

This was more than he had prayed for. This was no 
honored cross that he was asked to bear. It was a robe of 
shame to be put upon him publicly. To be sure, it was 
loose, ill-fitting, diaphanous, but none the less it was envel- 
oping. It did not blot out, yet it ate like a splotch of acid. 

But suddenly the man sat up, and for the first time since 
the startling disclosure in the vault room, a look of terror 
shot into his eyes, terror mixed with pain that was inde- 
scribable. It was a thought of the effect of this last story 
upon the mind of Bessie that had stabbed him. Bessie 



THE BATTLE OF THE HEADLINES 385 

had grown wonderfully during these five years. She had 
completed four years at Stanford and one year of post- 
graduate work in the University of Chicago. To-mor- 
row, if he had the date right, she would be receiving her 
degree. The beauty of her character and the beauty of 
her person had ripened together, until John's imagination 
could think of nothing so exquisite in all the universe as 
Bessie Mitchell. And after the degree and a summer in 
Europe, she was coming back to California and to him! 
Together they were going to enter upon a life and the 
making of a home that was to be rich in happiness for both 
of them, and as they fondly hoped, rich in happiness for 
all with whom they came in contact. 

Reflecting that in this last week Bessie would be too 
busy to read the newspapers, John had chivalrously 
thought to tell her nothing of what was befalling him, 
that she might set out happily upon her European journey. 
But now had come this alleged vindication, which was the 
most terrible assault of all, with its disgusting insinu- 
ations. He felt instinctively that Bessie would see that 
story, because it was the one of all which she ought not 
to see. Seeing it, he assured himself, she would believe 
it, more fully than any one else would believe it. John 
knew that despite his own years of steadfast devotion and 
despite her own constant effort to do so, she had never 
quite wiped out the horrible suspicions engendered by his 
confession of the brief attachment for Miss Dounay. He 
suspected it was a thing no woman ever successfully wipes 
out. This damnable story would revive that suspicion con- 
vincingly. It was inevitable that Bessie should believe 
that Marien Dounay's presence had revived the old infatu- 
ation, and that he had yielded to its power. 

This reflection left Hampstead with his lips pursed, his 
cheeks drawn, sitting bolt and rigid like a frozen man. 

In this polar atmosphere the telephone tinkled. The. 



386 HELD TO ANSWER 

minister answered it with wooden movements and a 
wooden voice : 

" No, nothing to say yet." 

Always the " yet " was added. " Yet " meant the min- 
ister's hope for deliverance. The reporters who had 
heard that " yet " so many times in the three days began 
to find in it something pathetic and almost convincing. 
But though the minister had added it this last time from 
sheer force of habit, the hope had just departed from 
him. With his love-hope gone, there was nothing person- 
ally for which John Hampstead cared to ask the future. 
Time, for him, was at an end. He was not a being. He 
was an instrument. 

But as if to remind him for what purpose he was an 
instrument, he had barely hung up the 'phone when there 
was a faint tap at the outer entrance of his study, fol- 
lowed at his word of invitation by the figure of a man 
who, with a furtive, backward glance as if afraid of the 
shadows beneath the palm trees, slipped quickly through 
the narrowest possible opening, closed the door and halted 
uncertainly, his eyes blinking at the light, his hands rub- 
bing nervously one upon the other. The man was care- 
fully dressed and tonsured. There was every evidence 
that to the world he was trying to be his old debonair self, 
but before the minister he stood abject and pitiable. 

" Rollie ! " exclaimed Doctor Hampstead, leaping up. 

" She haunted me ! " the conscience-stricken man fal- 
tered helplessly, sinking into a chair. " She threatened to 
denounce me right there in the bank, if I dared to com- 
municate with you." Again there was that frightened 
look backward to the door. 

An hour before, when the minister had not yet reasoned 
out the effect upon Bessie of this awful story of his alleged 
relations with the actress, he would have leaped upon 
Rollie vehemently, so anxious to know how the diamonds 



THE BATTLE OF THE HEADLINES 387 

got into his safe-deposit box as almost to tear the story 
from the young man's throat. 

But now he had the feeling that there was no longer 
anything at stake worth while. All in him that quickened 
at the sight of his visitor was a sort of clinical interest 
in the state of a soul. 

As Rollie told his story, the minister gasped with relief 
to learn that his own plight was due to no Judas-like be- 
trayal, but that the young man was, like himself, a victim 
of this scheming, devilish woman, and he listened with 
sympathetic eagerness while the narrator depicted 
brokenly the frightful conflict between fear and duty 
through which he had passed during the two days gone. 

But with the narrative concluded, the duty of each was 
still plain. The silence must be kept. Moreover, in this 
revulsion of feeling from doubt to active sympathy, the 
minister perceived that things were going very hardly 
with the young man. Knowing Miss Dounay now rather 
well, he was able to understand, even without explanation, 
the paralyzing fear which had kept Rollie dumb for these 
three days, and to realize that his coming even tardily was 
a sign of some renascence of moral courage. This per- 
ception quickened both the minister's sympathy and his 
interest in his duty. He was able to interrogate the young 
man considerately and to put him gradually somewhat at 
his ease, and this so tactfully as to make it seem to Rollie 
that his delay in coming was half a virtue and that the act 
of coming itself was a supreme moral victory which gave 
promise of greater victories to come. 

But it did not require this exhibition of magnanimity to 
bring young Burbeck to finish his story with an outpour- 
ing of the bitter self-reproaches he had for two days been 
heaping upon himself. 

" I never realized before what a despicable coward sin 
or crime can make of a man," he concluded. " This spec- 



388 HELD TO ANSWER 

tacle of you bearing uncomplainingly upon your back the 
burden of my guilt before this whole community sets 
something burning in me like a fire. It has given me 
courage to come here. Sometimes in the last few hours 
I have almost had the courage to come out and tell the 
truth, to denounce this devilish woman for what she is r 
and to take my guilt upon myself." 

For a moment Rollie's eyes opened till a ring of white 
appeared about the iris, and he shifted his position dizzily. 

" But," exclaimed the minister with sudden apprehen- 
sion and an outburst of great earnestness, " you must not. 
You must consider your mother. I command you to con- 
sider her above everything else ! I should forbid you to 
speak for her sake, if nothing else were involved. I do 
want you to become brave enough to take this guilt upon 
yourself, if circumstances permit it; but, they do not per- 
mit. Besides," and the minister shook his head sadly, 
" even that would now be powerless to relieve me from 
these awful consequences. I might be proved spotlessly 
innocent of the charge of theft, and yet my reputation 
would still be hopelessly ruined. It has cost me all, Rollie 
all!" 

The minister and the penitent, the innocent and the 
guilty, drew together for the moment linked by that bond 
of sympathy which invariably exists when one man suf- 
fers willingly in the cause of another, and is heightened 
when the sufferer winces under the pain. 

" Even," the minister labored on, " even that hope of 
Her, of which I told you the other day, has been torn 
from me." 

Rollie's face turned a more ghastly white. 

" That? " he murmured huskily. 

" That ! " assented the minister, with a grave, down- 
ward bend of the head. 

" It is too much," groaned the young man in real agony 



THE BATTLE OF THE HEADLINES 389 

of spirit. " Nothing, nothing that is at stake is worth 
that can be worth that." 

For a moment Hampstead was silent. 

" To be loyal, Rollie, to be true to the highest duty is 
worth everything." 

This was what he would have liked to say ; it was what 
he believed; it was what he meant to demonstrate by his 
course of action ; but for the moment he could not say it. 
Instead, he swallowed hard and looked downward, toying 
with a paper-knife upon his desk. But his visitor was 
going now. There was no reason why he should stay, 
and the minister, as he held open the door, was able to say 
warningly : " Remember ! Not one word for the sake 
of your mother's life." 

" But you," protested the young man, his eyes again 
staring wildly. 

" You are to try not to think of me," declared Hamp- 
stead, with low emphasis, " except as my own steadfast- 
ness in my duty if I am able to be steadfast may 
help you to be steadfast in yours. Rollie! We under- 
stand each other? " 

But the young fellow only shook his head negatively 
with a growing look of awe and wonder in his eyes, 
then turned and slipped hastily away. He did not under- 
stand this man the bigness of him at all; but he 
found himself leaning on him more and more heavily and 
felt some spiritual cleansing process digging at the inside 
of himself like the scrape and bite of a steam shovel. 

As for the minister, once he was free to think of him- 
self alone, he perceived that Rollie's story had set him 
free of silence. It supplied the gap in his knowledge 
which had made him dumb. There was a real defense 
which could now be offered. Now, too, that there was. 
-again some prospect of vindication, he felt his desire for 
"vindication grow. 



390 HELD TO ANSWER 

Up to the present he had waived arraignment on the 
charge, and had twice secured the customary two days' 
postponement of the hearing upon preliminary examina- 
tion. But immediate action should now be taken. Ac- 
cordingly he located Judge Brennan at his club by tele- 
phone and the Assistant District Attorney Searle at his 
residence, and without explanation asked that the time for 
his arraignment and preliminary hearing be set as soon as 
possible. 

Next morning the papers presented as the most star- 
tling development of the Hampstead Case the fact that the 
minister had announced himself prepared to go to trial, 
and the preliminary hearing had been set for Saturday at 
ten o'clock in Judge Brennan's court room. 

Public interest centered, of course, upon the nature of 
the minister's defense. There was even observable some- 
thing like a turn of the tide in his favor. Rumor, sus- 
picion, and innuendo for the time had played themselves 
out. Shrewd managing editors keen students of mass 
psychology that they were discerned signs that these 
ebbing cross-currents of doubt and uncertainty might 
sweep suddenly in the opposite direction, and they were 
alertly prepared to switch the handling of the news if the 
popular appetite changed. 



CHAPTER XXXIV 

A WAY THAT WOMEN HAVE 

FRIDAY for John was a day of impatience, its tedious 
hours consumed in turning over and over in his mind the 
story he would tell upon the witness stand and the plea he 
would make to the court for a dismissal of the com- 
plaint against him ; when the day was finished, John found 
his mind in a rather chaotic state, and it seemed to him 
that little had been accomplished. 

But if little happened that day in Encina which was of 
moment to his cause, there was an interesting sequence of 
events transpiring in Chicago, which had at least some re- 
lation to the matter ; for this was the day upon which the 
degrees were being conferred. 

The assembly hall of the great university was large, and 
every seat was taken. The huge platform was decked, 
studded, draped and upholstered with professors, assistant 
professors and presidents, all in mortar boards and gowns, 
the somber black of the latter relieved by the rich colors 
of the insignia indicating the rank or character of their re- 
spective degrees. 

The presence of all this banked and massed doctorial 
dignity made the atmosphere of the hall to reek with 
erudition. The vast number of individuals in front felt 
their puny intellects dwarfed to pigeon's brains. Hitherto 
some of them had rather congratulated themselves that 
they knew the multiplication table and the rule of three. 
Now their instinct was to grovel. 

Yet not all of that assemblage were so impressed. 
Robert Mitchell was not. Huge of chest, thick-fingered, 



392 HELD TO ANSWER 

heavy-shouldered, amiable of his broad countenance, 
shrewd of eye, and growing thin of that curly brown 
thatch which had been one of Hibernia's gifts to his en- 
semble, he surveyed the scene with a critic's air. 

Not that Mitchell scorned the pundits of learning. Be- 
ing the vice-president of a transcontinental line of railroad 
and therefore necessarily a man of wide acquaintance and 
of wide employment of the talents of mankind, he knew 
there were occasions when even he must wait upon the 
pronouncements of some spectacled creature of the labora- 
tory. Still, he could not help reflecting that he would 
like to see that pale, gangling pundit on the end try to cal- 
culate the exact instant in which to throw the lever to 
make a flying switch. He would like further to see that 
fellow with a dome that loomed like a water-tank on the 
desert try to pick up a string of car numbers as they ran 
by him on the track, and see how many he could carry in 
his head and carry right. 

. In fact, everything about the function expressed itself 
to Mitchell in terms of traffic. Quite a hall, this. The 
seats in it came from Grand Rapids, no doubt ; or perhaps 
from Manitowoc. The rate from Grand Rapids was 
nineteen cents a hundred or thereabouts ; from Manitowoc 
it was twenty, practically an even basis. But on a trans- 
continental haul now, to San Francisco for instance, com- 
mon point rates applied, and Manitowoc had an advan- 
tage of five cents a hundred unless unless the Michigan 
roads rebated the Michigan manufacturers something of 
their share in the division of the through rate. Of course, 
rebates were illegal ; but you never could exactly tell what 
an originating line might not do to keep a sufficient 
amount of business originating. Take his own line, now, 
for instance, and borax shipments from the Mojave 
Desert as against the Union Pacific with borax shipments 
from Death Valley. 



A WAY THAT WOMEN HAVE 393 

Thus the mind of the great master of transportation 
roved on while professors rose and droned and presented 
round rolls to never-ending strings of candidates; but at 
length there appeared in the serpentine line going up for 
Master's degrees one presence which took the glaze of 
speculation from the eye of Mitchell. 

The world at large has often noted the anomalous fact 
that a Doctor's cap and gown does not appear to detract 
greatly from the masculinity of a man. If anything, it 
makes a beard, a brow, or the pale, unprosperous furze 
upon a lip look more virile than otherwise; but that 
same cap and gown will deceitfully rob a woman of 
something of the indefinable air of her femininity. It 
gives her an ascetic cast, and asceticism is unwomanly. 
But there are exceptions. Some types of women's faces 
look just a little more fetchingly feminine and bewitch- 
ingly alluring under a mortar-board cap than beneath any 
other form of headdress. 

The eye of the railroad man rested now with benevo- 
lence and satisfaction upon the shapely, ripened figure of 
such a woman. Glowing upon her features was a youth 
and a feminism so vital as to seem that nothing could 
overcome them. Her eyes were blue and bright ; her hair 
was brown and crinkly; while dimples that refused to be 
subdued by the dignity of the occasion kept continually 
upon her features the suggestion of a smile about to 
break. 

But with these evidences of sunny personality, there 
went stout hints of substantial character. The forehead 
was good and finely arched to stand for brains. The chin 
was perhaps a trifle wide to permit the finest oval to the 
countenance, but it suggested balance and power, and pro- 
claimed that what the mind of this young lady planned, 
her will might be expected to accomplish. In fact, the 
young lady stood at this moment face to face with the con- 



394 HELD TO ANSWER 

summation of a five years' programme, and five years is 
long for youth to hold a purpose. 

With swelling satisfaction the railroad man saw the 
president of the university now addressing his daughter. 
It was the same Latin formula that had been repeated 
scores of times already this morning; but now Mitchell 
made his first effort to grasp it, to reason out its mean- 
ing, all the while greatly admiring his daughter's unfalter- 
ing courage under the fire of these unintelligible phrases. 

The somewhat irrepressible Miss Bessie was, indeed, 
doing very well. For a moment the dimples had actually 
composed themselves, and there was a light of high dig- 
nity in the eye, as the candidate extended her hand for the 
diploma and stood meekly while the silken collar was 
placed about her neck. 

" That is a very able man, that Doctor Winton," re- 
marked Mitchell to his wife. " He has got the same way 
as the rest of them when he talks; but what he says is 
sense." 

Since Mitchell did not know at all what the university 
president had said, this remark showed that he had fallen 
back upon his intuitive judgment of men and had swiftly 
perceived in the university president something of the 
same practical qualities that go to the making of a busi- 
ness executive in any other walk. 

But an excited whisper was just now coming from be- 
hind the white-gloved hand of Mrs. Mitchell. " Oh ! 
look ! " that lady exclaimed, " she's got her box lid on 
crooked ! " 

It was true that Miss Bessie by some restless twitch of 
her head or some rebellious outburst of a knot of that 
crinkly hair, had got her mortar board -rakishly atilt. Of 
course, there were other mortar boards askew, but Bessie's 
was individualistically and pronouncedly listed far to port. 
And she didn't care. Bessie was so brimming and beam- 



A WAY THAT WOMEN HAVE 395 

ing with the happiness of life that her whole being was 
this morning recklessly atilt. 

But that afternoon, at about the hour of three, in the 
ample suite of rooms high up on the lake side of the An- 
nex, which had been occupied by the Mitchells for a week, 
there was nothing atilt at all about the soul of Bessie. 
Her spirits were all a-droop. One single glance around 
showed that the busy preparation for the European trip 
had been suspended. Wardrobe trunks stood about on 
end, their contents gaping, while dresses \vere draped over 
screens and chairs and laid out upon beds ; but the packers 
had ceased their work. Mrs. Mitchell, distracted between 
parental love and the fulfillment of long cherished plans, 
as well as distressed at the exhibition of petulant and even 
tearful temper which her daughter had been displaying for 
an hour, walked restlessly from room to room. 

" I tell you, it's California for mine! " that young lady 
affirmed in school-girlish vernacular, while an impatient 
foot stamped the floor, a dimpled hand smote wilfully 
upon the arm of a huge, brocaded satin chair, and the blue 
swimming eyes burned with a rebellious light. 

Neither the language nor the mood would seem to be- 
come the beautiful Mistress of Arts; but each testified to 
the survival of the humanness of the young woman. In 
justice to her, however, it must be explained that she had 
not begun this upsetting of father's and mother's and her 
own cherished plan with impetuous defiances. She had 
begun gently, with sighs, with remarks about longing for 
California. She felt so tired; she wished she didn't have 
to travel now. If she could just go back and walk under 
the palms and orange trees in dear old Los Angeles ; if she 
could get one great big bite of San Francisco fog, and see 
a little desert and a mountain or two, before starting out 
for this junky old Europe, she would be reconciled. 

Otherwise, she would not be reconciled. Of course, 



396 HELD TO ANSWER 

she would go, since they had planned it for so long, and 
since mamma's heart was set upon it ; but she would go 
unreconciled. 

Reconciled! Mrs. Mitchell knew perfectly well what 
reconciled meant, but she did not know just what Bessie 
meant by dinging on that word. 

After fifteen minutes it appeared that Bessie was 
through with hints. She had begun to boldly propose, 
and then earnestly to plead, and finally tearfully to de- 
mand that the European trip be postponed two weeks. 

" But my child ! The trip is all planned. The passages 
are paid for, everything is ready," protested Mrs. Mitchell. 

" But what's the good of being the slave of your plans? 
You don't have to do a thing you don't want to just be- 
cause you've planned." 

Bessie's lip was full and ripe when she pouted and her 
voice was freighted heavily with protest and appeal. 
How pretty her eyelids were when there was a tear quiver- 
ing on the lashes like a ball of quicksilver. And how 
really enchanting she looked, as with hair a bit disheveled 
and color heightening, she went on to argue impetuously : 

"What's the good of having a private car? What's 
the good of being a vice-president's wife and daughter, 
if you can't change your mind and go galloping out to 
California when you feel like it? Back to your own 
home! Back to your own people! Back where the 
scenery is the grandest in the world! Back where the 
sky is high enough that you don't have to shoulder the 
zenith out of the way in the morning so that you can 
stand up straight and take a full breath." 

" Bessie Mitchell ! " exclaimed her mother at this junc- 
ture, turning on her offspring accusingly. "What has 
got into you ? Something has ! You're up to something. 
What is it?" 

Bessie brooked her mother's discerning glance and then 



A WAY THAT WOMEN HAVE 397 

dodged it, very much as if that lady had hurled at her the 
silver-backed hair brush she held in her hand. 

" Why," she exclaimed with an air of injured inno- 
cence; " nothing has got into me. I was just taking one 
last look at the California papers, and it made me home- 
sick." 

She made a gesture toward a pile of papers that sur- 
rounded her chair. Mrs. Mitchell paused and cerebrated. 
Somewhere about two o'clock of the afternoon, Bessie had 
stepped to the telephone. 

" Send me up the last week of San Francisco and Los 
Angeles papers," she ordered. 

The papers came. She went through the Los Angeles 
papers first, turning their pages casually, with occasional 
comments to her mother. And then she started the San 
Francisco file, scanning this time more swiftly and more 
casually until upon the very last of them she became sud- 
denly absorbed in uncommunicative silence; after which 
the musings and the sighings had begun, followed by this 
absurd proposal, this passionate outburst, and this dead- 
lock of the two women behind entrenchments of news- 
papers on the one hand and barricades of trunks upon the 
other. 

As between her strong-willed daughter and her strong- 
willed self, Mrs. Mitchell knew that she generally emerged 
defeated. So far now she had been defeated at least to 
the extent of an armistice. The packers had been stopped, 
while the argument went on. 

But in the meantime Mrs. Mitchell was violating the 
rules of war by bringing up reinforcements. Mr. Mitchell 
was on his way over from the Monadnock Building. He 
would soon settle Miss Bessie ; that is, if he did not make 
a cowardly and instant surrender, because Mrs. Mitchell 
knew well enough he would rather sit on the rear plat- 
form of his private car and watch the miles of steel and 



398 HELD TO ANSWER 

cinder stream from under him for ten hours a day for the 
rest of his life than visit his native sod for five minutes. 

When Mrs. Mitchell heard her husband's voice in the 
next room, she hurried out to fortify him. 

Bessie also heard the voice and hurried to the bathroom 
to remove traces of tears; for tears were not powerful 
arguments with her father. Smiles went farther and 
faster. Kisses were the deciding artillery. 

Father and mother, advancing cautiously upon daugh- 
ter's position, found it unoccupied. But the papers were 
strewn about. Mitchell picked up the one which lay in the 
chair. His glance was entirely casual, but suddenly his 
blue eye started and then blazed. 

" The hell ! " he ejaculated, and read eagerly down the 
column. 

" Well, I be damned ! " was his next contribution to the 
silence. 

Mrs. Mitchell stared at her husband in amazement. 
Then, seizing her reading glass, for a reading glass was so 
much better form than spectacles, she glanced over her 
husband's shoulder, read the headline and a few words 
following. 

" The deceitfulness of that child ! " she ejaculated, an 
expression of indignant amazement on her face, while the 
hand with the reading glass dropped to her hip, and her 
eyes were turned upon her husband. 

" I always knew that boy's good-heartedness would get 
him into trouble some day," the good woman averred after 
a moment. 

" Well," rejoined her husband, in tones sharp with 
emphasis, " I'd back up on a freight clear round the 
world to get him out. Our trip to Europe is off. We go 
west on nine to-night." 

Mr. Mitchell started for' the telephone, and Mrs. 
Mitchell's eye followed him approvingly, a look of sym- 



A WAY THAT WOMEN HAVE 399 

pathy and motherliness triumphing over every other ex- 
pression upon her face. 

Now there wasn't any particular obligation on the part 
of Robert Mitchell to John Hampstead. Hampstead had 
merely worked for Mitchell through eight years of faith- 
fulness in small things, which was a way that Hampstead 
had. But as the Vice-President of the Great South- 
western looked back, those eight years of faithfulness 
bulked rather large, which, again, was a way that Robert 
Mitchell had. 

As to Bessie! But that is a way that women have. 
The deeper -and the more serious her attachment for John 
Hampstead had grown, the more guilefully she had con- 
cealed that fact from even the suspicion of her parents. 
Yet now her disguise was penetrated, she sobbed it all out 
on her mother's shoulder and got the finest, tenderest as- 
surances of sympathy and enthusiastic connivance that 
could be vouchsafed by one woman to another. The 
Mitchells were that way. Let hearts and happiness be 
concerned, and all other considerations of life could ride 
on the brake-beams. 



CHAPTER XXXV 

ON PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION 

BUT though a very human hope was in his breast, the 
man who went out to face a public hearing on Saturday 
morning upon a charge of felony in the city where a 
week before he had been a popular idol, was not the 
same man who had stood trembling and bewildered in the 
vault room. 

Rose had noticed first merely a physical change in her 
brother's appearance, as from day to day the situation 
became more intense. She saw lines deepen on his face, 
the knot of pain grow again and again upon his brow, 
and the whiteness of his skin increase to a point where 
it ceased to be white and became a parchment yellow, 
only paler than his tawny hair. But later she became 
conscious that there was taking place also a spiritual 
change, a certain rare elevation of the character of the 
man, giving at times the eerie feeling that this was not 
her brother, but some transfiguration taking place before 
her eyes. 

When John Hampstead appeared in Judge Brennan's 
court room, something of this exaltation of character was 
discernible, even to those who had known the minister 
casually. Desiring ardently a happy outcome, the man 
revealed in himself something of a new capacity to en- 
dure yet further reverses. 

Rose, Dick, and Tayna had been determined to ac- 
company John and to sit beside him as he faced his ac- 
cusers; but he forbade this, declaring that it would be 



ON PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION 401 

construed by his enemies as an attempt to create sym- 
pathy. 

Yet, despite the stoutness of the clergyman's hope for 
justice, the sight of the court room, of Judge Brennan 
upon his bench, the clerk and the official reporter at 
their desks, Searle, Wyatt, the detectives, the massed 
spectators, packed, craning, curious, and the vast 
crowd that had surged in the streets about the building 
and in the corridors, through which way had to be made 
for him, were all such sinister reminders of the position 
in which he stood, that for the time being they crumpled 
the very breastwork of innocence itself. 

" The case of the People versus John Hampstead," an- 
nounced the judge in matter-of-fact tones. 

There was a slight movement among the group of at- 
torneys, principals, officers, and witnesses within the rail 
and before the long table, as they either hitched chairs, 
or leaned forward with eyes and ears attentive. Out- 
side, the closely packed onlookers breathed short in 
hushed expectancy. 

" Prisoner at the bar, stand up ! " 

It was the monotonous, unfeeling voice of the clerk 
who said this, himself arising. 

Hampstead, accustomed as his own legal battlings had 
made him to court formalities and to seeing men ar- 
raigned in just this language, failed to comprehend its 
significance when addressed to him. For an appreciable 
instant of time he sat unheeding, until every eye in the 
throng and the glance of every officer of the court 
stabbing into his face with inquiring wonder, recalled 
him to his position. Then he arose hastily, with traces 
of confusion which were so instantly repressed that when 
necks already craned stretched a little farther, and eyes 
already staring set their gaze yet more intently on the 
tall figure of the man, they saw r his strongly moulded 



402 HELD TO ANSWER 

features as gravely impassive as some weather-blasted 
granite face upon a mountain. 

But for all its massy strength, it was seen again to be 
a gentle face. The lips were firmly set, but the expres- 
sion of the mouth was kindly. The eyes were fixed upon 
the clerk who read the charge against him, while the 
prisoner listened with a look at once solemn and dutiful, 
for it seemed that again John Hampstead had risen 
equal to the height on which he stood. 

The tableau was an impressive one. It revealed the 
majesty of man bowing before the majesty of the law. 
It seemed to portray at once the ponderousness and the 
powerfulness of organized government. A woman who 
was almost a stranger had touched a tiny lever and set 
the machinery of the law in operation against the most 
shining mark in all the community; and here was the 
man, with the guillotine of judgment poised above his 
head, answerable for his acts with his liberty and his 
reputation. 

In feelingless monotones that galloped and hurdled 
through the maze of technical phrasings, the clerk read 
the complaint which charged the minister with the crime 
of burglary; then, pausing for breath, he asked the formal 
question : 

" Is this your true name ? " 

" It is," the minister replied quietly, but in a voice of 
vibrant, carrying quality that must have penetrated to 
the outward corridor, and seemed to sweep a sense of 
moral power to every listener's ear. 

The voice was answered by a sigh, involuntary and 
composite, that broke from somewhere beyond the rail. 
The hearing was on. The unbelievable had come to pass : 
John Hampstead, pastor of All People's Church, was 
actually standing trial like a common felon. 

Briefly and casually the Court instructed Hampstead 



ON PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION 403 

as to his rights and that he was entitled to be represented 
by counsel of his own choosing, or to have counsel ap- 
pointed for him by the Court. 

The minister, still standing and speaking with delib- 
erate composure, thanked the Court for its consideration, 
but stated that without disrespect to the legal profession 
which he greatly honored, he did not feel that his cause 
required expert defense; that in his experience he had 
acquired a considerable knowledge of court practice and 
would depend upon that, trusting his Honor to put him 
right if he stumbled into wrong. 

The judge nodded comprehension and assent, and the 
defendant sat down. 

" Are the People ready ? " inquired the Court. 

" We are," answered the crisp, crackly voice of Searle. 

"And the defense?" 

Hampstead, his arms folded passively, responded with 
a slight affirmative bow. 

" We will call Miss Alice Higgins," announced Searle, 
his voice this time reflecting that sense of the dramatic 
which hung over the court room like a cloud, impreg- 
nating its atmosphere as if with an electric charge. 

The woman known as Marien Dounay had been sit- 
ting at the right of Searle, gowned in tailored black, her 
person stripped of everything that looked like ornament. 
The wide, flat brim of her hat was carefully horizontal 
and valanced by a curtain of veiling, which, while black 
and large of cord, was wide meshed enough to show that 
the very colors of her cheeks were subdued, as if her 
whole person were in mourning over the somber duty to 
which she regretfully found herself compelled. And yet 
the beauty of her features, adorned by the black and 
sweeping eyebrows and lighted by the smouldering jet 
of her eyes, was never more striking than now, when, 
after standing for a moment, tall and graceful on the 



404 HELD TO ANSWER 

raised platform of the witness chair, she sat down, and 
leaning back composedly, swung about to where her 
glance could alternate between the eye of the Court who 
would hear her and that of Searle who would inter- 
rogate. 

But though her composure appeared complete, and 
never upon any stage had her magnetic presence more 
completely centered all attention upon itself than in this 
melodrama of real life, it was none the less noticeable to 
the discerning that she had not glanced at Hampstead, 
whose sleeve her arm must have brushed in passing to 
the witness chair ; and that she still avoided looking where 
he sat, but six feet distant, his own eyes resting upon her 
face with an odd, speculative light in them. 

" Please state your name, business occupation or pro- 
fession, and place of residence," began Searle, putting 1 
the opening interrogatory in the usual form through 
sheer force of habit. 

" I am an actress by profession. My name is Alice 
Higgins; my place of residence is New York City." 

" In your profession as an actress and to the public 
generally you are known as Marien Dounay ? " 

" Yes," replied the witness. 

" You are the complainant in this action ? " 

"Yes." 

" I will ask you," began Searle, " if you have ever seen 
this necklace before?" 

He drew from a crumpled envelope that familiar tiny 
string of fire and offered it to the witness. Miss Dounay 
took it, passed it affectionately through her fingers, dur- 
ing which the brilliance of the gems appeared to be mag- 
nified, and then, holding the necklace by the two ends, 
dropped it for a moment upon her bosom, a touch of 
naturalness that was either the height of art or the su- 
preme of femininity. 



ON PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION 405 

" They are my diamonds," she replied. 

" And what is their value ? " 

" Twenty-two thousand dollars." 

" Lawful money of the United States? " 

" Yes." 

" Now, Miss Dounay," continued Searle, " will you 
be kind enough to relate to the Court when and under 
what circumstances you first missed your diamonds." 

Miss Dounay told her story briefly and skillfully, with 
an appearance of reluctance when she came to relate the 
circumstances and facts which pointed to the minister 
as the thief. She stated that Hampstead had always 
shown curiosity regarding the diamonds and had espe- 
cially questioned her concerning their value. As a 
trusted friend, whom she had known for years, and who 
during the last several weeks had visited her frequently 
and become rather frankly acquainted with her personal 
habits and mode of life, he knew where she kept the dia- 
monds. That so far as she knew, he was the only one 
of her acquaintances who possessed this knowledge ; that 
she had worn the diamonds in company with him during 
the evening preceding the supper party, at which she 
appeared without them; that no one but her guests were 
in this room in which the diamonds were kept tempora- 
rily, and that no one but him, so far as she remembered 
observing, was in that room alone; that it was her cus- 
tom to keep the box containing these and other jewels in 
the hotel safe, and when, after the departure of her 
guests, she went to the casket to send it down-stairs, it 
was gone. 

Her story done, and to the attorney's complete satis- 
faction, Searle then put the final formal questions : 

" This property was taken against your will and with- 
out your consent? " 

" Yes." 



406 HELD TO ANSWER 

" This all happened in the City of Oakland, County of 
Alameda and the State of California?" 

" Yes." 

" That is all," concluded the prosecutor. 

" Cross-examine," directed the Court, turning to the 
defendant. 

" I have no desire to cross-examine," replied the minis- 
ter quietly, but again with that vibrant, far-carrying note 
in his utterance. 

" You are excused," said the judge to the actress. 

With an expression of relief, Miss Dounay left the 
stand, still without once having directed her gaze at the 
accused, although he continued from time to time to re- 
gard her fixedly with a curious, doubtful look. 

" Miss Julie Moncrief," announced the prosecutor. 

Red-eyed and frightened, the French maid took the 
stand. In a trembling voice, and with at least one ap- 
pealing glance at the minister, who appeared to regard 
her more sympathetically than her own mistress, the little 
woman gave her testimony. It told of finding the de- 
fendant alone in this room where the guests had been 
inspecting the models for the London production of the 
play. He was not near the table upon which the models 
were displayed, but standing by the chiffonier, with his 
arm absently thrown across the corner of it, and the hand 
within a few inches of the small drawer in which the dia- 
monds reposed temporarily. 

",What part of his body was toward the chiffonier? " 
asked the prosecutor. 

" His back and side." 

" Where was he looking? " 

" Out toward the room to which the guests had with- 
drawn." 

"As if watching for an opportunity of some sort?" 
suggested Searle. 



ON PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION 407 

Hampstead started, and his eyes kindled, but he did 
not speak. The Court, however, did. 

" In view of the fact," interposed his Honor, " that 
Doctor Hampstead is unrepresented by counsel and tak- 
ing no advantage of a technical defense, I will remind 
you, Mr. Searle, that your last question calls for a con- 
clusion of the witness. She may testify where he was 
looking, but she cannot tell what she thinks his actions 
implied." 

" Of course, your Honor, that is right," confessed 
Searle quickly. " The witness is somewhat hesitant and 
embarrassed, and the form of my question was inad- 
vertent. Under the circumstances," he added suavely, 
" I am being especially careful not to take advantage of 
the defendant." 

' That must be apparent to all, Mr. Searle," the judge 
palavered in return. 

"Where was he looking?" queried Searle. 

Having been properly coached by the attorney's ques- 
tion and his reply to the judge, the half frightened girl 
faltered : 

" He was looking out, as if watching for an oppor- 
tunity." 

Color mounted to the cheeks of the judge. Searle 
looked properly surprised. The defendant smiled 
cynically. 

" Strike out that portion of the answer which involves 
the conclusion as to why he was looking out," instructed 
the judge solemnly to the reporter. 

" Certainly," exclaimed Searle apologetically. None 
the less, he was satisfied with his manoeuvre. He knew 
the effect of the little French girl's conclusion could not 
be stricken out of the mind of the judge who had heard 
it expressed, nor out of the mind of the public before 
whom he was in reality trying his case. 



408 HELD TO ANSWER 

" State what further you observed," directed the at- 
torney. " Did you see him move, or anything? " 

" He did not move ; he only smiled at me and was still 
there in the same position when I went out. A few 
minutes later, I was surprised to see him bidding Miss 
Dounay good night." 

" Strike out that the witness was surprised," com- 
manded the Court sternly, while Julie shivered at the 
sharpness of Judge Brennan's tone. 

" That is all," continued Searle. 

" Do you wish to cross-examine ? " inquired the judge, 
directing his glance to Hampstead. 

" I do not," replied the minister. 

This time the judge looked surprised, and there were 
slight murmurings, rustlings, and whisperings beyond the 
rail. The faltering testimony of the little maid had 
driven another nail deeply in the circumstantial case 
against the minister, and he had not made the slightest 
effort to draw it out by the few words of cross-examina- 
tion that might have broken its hold entirely. He might, 
for instance, have asked if she saw any one else alone in 
this room. But the minister did not ask it. 

Searle went on piling up his case. The detectives 
testified to the arrest of the minister, to the search of his 
person and house, and to the finding of the diamonds in 
the vault box, after which the jewels themselves were in- 
troduced in evidence and marked : People's Exhibit 
" A ", while the envelope which had contained them and 
bore the minister's name and address upon the corner, 
became People's Exhibit " B." 

Each detective and Wyatt was asked to describe 
minutely the actions of the minister from the time when 
the personal search ending in the discovery of the safe 
deposit key was proposed until the time when the dia- 
monds were exposed to view upon the table in the vault 



ON PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION 409 

room. By this means, Searle got before the Court the 
demeanor of the minister as indicating a consciousness 
of guilt. 

Relentless in pursuing this line, Searle put on the de- 
fendant's own bondsmen, Wilson, Wadham, and Hayes, 
compelling them to describe, although with evident re- 
luctance, the impetuous outburst against the opening of 
the box when the bond was being arranged, and the 
scene in the vault to which they had been witnesses. 

Wilson, chafing at the position into which he was 
forced, was further roused when Searle exclaimed sud- 
denly : 

" I will ask you if the defendant, on or about the day 
that these diamonds were stolen, did not approach you 
for the urgent loan of a considerable sum of money." 

Wilson glared and was silent. 

"Did he, or did he not?" persisted Searle sharply. 

" He did," snapped Wilson. 

" How did he want it, cash or checks ? " 

" He wanted cash, but I do not see, Mr. Searle " he 
began. 

" Excuse me, Mr. Wilson, but I think you do see, J> 
replied Searle. " Did you give it to him ? " 

" I did," replied Wilson, " and I would have given 
him more " 

" I ask that a part of this answer be stricken out, your 
Honor, as volunteered by the witness, and not in response 
to the question," demanded Searle brusquely. 

" I think we should not let ourselves become too tech- 
nical," replied the Court, with a chiding glance at Searle, 
for Mr. Wilson was a person of some importance in the 
community. 

Searle, slightly huffed, again addressed the witness. 

" Did the defendant tell you what he wanted this large 
sum of money for?" 



4io HELD TO ANSWER 

" No. Furthermore " began the witness. 

"That will do! That will do!" exclaimed Searle 
rising, and motioning with his hand as if to stop the wit- 
ness's mouth. " That is all," he added quickly. 
" Cross-examine." 

Wilson turned expectantly to Hampstead. He was 
aching to be permitted to say more, to offer testimony 
that would break the force of that which he had just 
given. But the minister, comprehending fully the gen- 
erous desire of his friend, merely looked him in the eye 
and shook his head ; for this was one of the trails neither 
he nor any one else must be permitted to pursue. 

Having asked this series of questions of Wilson about 
the money, apparently as an afterthought, which it was 
not, Searle then recalled Hayes and Wadham, and put 
the same questions to them. Each made the same at- 
tempt to qualify and enlarge, but each was carefully held 
to a statement which pictured John Hampstead making 
desperate efforts among his friends to raise quickly what 
must have been a very large sum of money, for an un- 
explained purpose. 

Searle felt this to be the climax of his case. 

" The People rest," he exclaimed with dramatic sud- 
denness, sitting down and inserting a thumb in his arm- 
hole, while after a defiant glance at the minister, he turned 
and scanned the spectators outside the rail for signs of 
approval of the skillful handling of their cause by him, 
their oath-bound servant. 

But the eyes of the spectators were on the defendant, 
who now stepped to the platform and stood with upraised 
right hand before the clerk to be sworn. As he composed 
himself in the witness chair, his manner was cool and even 
meditative. The central figure in this tense, emotional 
drama, which had every significance for himself, he 
seemed scarcely more than aware of his surroundings. 



ON PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION 411 

" My name," he began deliberately, " is John Hamp- 
stead. I am thirty-one years old, and a minister of the 
gospel. I reside in the County of Alameda. I am the 
person named in this complaint. I was at Miss Dounay's 
supper party, although I did not stay to supper. I was 
probably in the exact position described by the maid, for 
I believe her to be truthful. However, I do not remem- 
ber the incident, beyond the fact that the group gradu- 
ally withdrew from this room, and I remained there in 
reflective mood for a short interval. I saw Miss 
Dounay's diamonds last that evening when she excused 
herself from the company to change her costume. I saw 
them next the morning after, upon the desk in my 
study." 

The minister paused. The massed audience leaned 
forward, intent and breathless. Now his real defense 
was beginning. His manner, balanced and impersonal, 
was carrying conviction with it. The man was the de- 
fendant the prisoner at the bar yet he spoke delib- 
erately, as if not himself but the truth were at issue. 

" They were brought there," the witness was saying, 
" by a man who told me that he had stolen them. He 
appeared to be excited. Indeed, his condition was piti- 
able. I advised him to immediately return the diamonds 
to Miss Dounay, confess his crime to her, and throw him- 
self upon her mercy; but there were circumstances which 
made it impossible for him to act immediately. That is 
all." 

The minister turned from the Court, whom he had 
been addressing, and faced Searle, as if awaiting cross- 
examination. The audience had listened with painful 
interest to the minister's story. The manner of it had 
unquestionably carried conviction, but its very un- 
bolstered simplicity had in it something of the shock 
which provokes doubt. This effect was heightened by 



412 HELD TO ANSWER 

its extreme brevity and a suggestion of reticence in the 
narrative. 

" Have you concluded ? " asked the Court, reflecting 
the general surprise. 

" I have," replied the minister, with the same quiet 
voice in which he had given his testimony. 

" Begin your cross-examination," instructed Judge 
Brennan. 

" Who is the man who brought these diamonds to 
you?" asked Searle, hurling the question swiftly. 

" I cannot tell you," answered the minister gravely. 

"Why can you not tell?" The voice of Searle was 
harshly insistent. " Don't you know who the man was ? " 

" I do, most assuredly." 

" Why can you not tell it? " 

" Because the secret is not mine." 

"Not yours?" A sneer appeared on the lips of 
Searle. 

" It came to me by way of the Protestant confessional," 
explained the minister. 

" The Protestant confessional ! What do you mean 
by that?" barked the prosecutor. 

" Simply," replied the minister, " that the instinct of 
confession is very strong in every nature moved to peni- 
tence and a hope of reform; so that every minister and 
priest of whatever faith becomes the repository of a vast 
number of confessions of fault and failure, some trivial 
and some grave. I used the term ' Protestant confes- 
sional ' because the Roman Catholic Church erects the 
confessional to a place of established and formal im- 
portance. In most other communions it is merely in- 
cidental to pastoral experience, but none the less it is a 
factor in all effort at rehabilitation of character." 

" And you will not give the name, even to protect your- 
self?" 



ON PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION 413 

" It is not," replied the witness, " a matter in which 
I feel that I have any choice. The confession was not 
made to me as an individual, but to me as a minister of 
God. I will hold that confidence sacred and inviolate at 
whatever cost until the Day of Judgment." 

Dramatically, though unconsciously, the witness lifted 
his right hand, as though he renewed an oath to God. 

For the first time, too, the utterance of the defendant 
had betrayed personal feeling, and for a moment there 
was a sheen upon his features, as of a man who had 
toiled upward through shadows to where the light from 
above broke radiantly upon his brow. 

" And you take advantage of the fact that such a con- 
fession as you allege is privileged under the law and need 
not be testified to by you ? " 

" As I said before," reiterated the minister, with a 
calm dignity that refused to be ruffled by the sneer in the 
cross-examiner's question, " I do not feel that the secret 
is mine." 

The impression that at this point the witness was re- 
tiring behind intrenchments that were very strong was 
no more lost upon Searle than upon the spectators, and 
he immediately attacked from another quarter. 

" We are to understand, then, Doctor, that your guilty 
demeanor which has been testified to by your friends as 
well as the officers was entirely because you knew the 
discovery of the diamonds in your box would lend color 
to the charge made against you ? " 

This was another trail that Hampstead must not allow 
to be pursued. 

" You are at liberty to make whatever interpretation 
of my demeanor you wish, Mr. Searle," he replied, a 
trifle tartly. 

" Yes, Doctor Hampstead ; we are agreed upon that," 
rejoined the prosecutor dryly, at the same time making 



414 HELD TO ANSWER 

a gallery play with his eyes. " You say," Searle con- 
tinued presently, " it was temporarily impossible for the 
man who brought these diamonds to you to return them 
to Miss Dounay. Why did you not return them your- 
self instead of placing them in your vault to await the 
convenience of the thief?" 

The insulting scorn of the latter part of this question 
was meant to be diverting to the audience as well as 
highly disconcerting to the witness, but the minister 
smothered the sneer by replying sincerely and cour- 
teously : 

" I felt, Mr. Searle, that my problem was to rebuild in 
the man a sense of responsibility to a trust and the 
courage to act upon a moral impulse. Wisely, or un- 
wisely, I insisted that the entire procedure of restoration 
should devolve upon the penitent himself. His first 
spiritual battle was to nerve himself to face the owner of 
the diamonds." 

" Precisely," observed Mr. Searle smoothly, abandon- 
ing the jury rail, against which he had been leaning, to 
balance himself upon the balls of the feet and rub his 
palms blandly. " And in the meantime, while this thief 
was gathering his courage, did your consideration for 
your friend, Miss Dounay, impel you to notify her that the 
diamonds were in your custody and would be returned 
to her very soon ? " 

" Not alone was I impelled to do that," replied the 
minister ; " but the unfortunate man urged such a step 
upon me. I declined for the same reason. My entire 
course of action was dictated by a desire to make this 
man morally stronger by compelling him to assume and 
discharge his own responsibilities. I was willing to 
point out the course ; but he must walk the way alone. I 
will forestall your next question by saying that for the 
same reason I did not notify the police." 



ON PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION 415 

Searle was nettled by the easy compactness with which 
the minister cemented the walls of his defense more 
closely by each reply to the questions in cross-examina- 
tion. 

" You are aware, Mr. Hampstead," he thundered with 
a sudden change of tactics, " that the act which you have 
just set forth, so far from setting up a defense to this 
charge, proves you guilty under the law as an accessory 
after the fact." 

" I am not aware of it," replied the minister, with dis- 
tinct emphasis. " My impression was that the law con- 
siders not only an act but the intent of the act. The in- 
tent of my act was not to conceal a crime, but to recon- 
struct the character of a man." 

Searle darted a hasty and apprehensive glance at the 
massed faces behind the rail. 

' That is all," he exclaimed dramatically, with a cyn- 
ical smile and an uptoss of his hands, calculated cleverly 
to portray his opinion of the utter lack of standing such 
replies as those of the minister could gain him in a court 
of justice. 

Judge Brennan looked at Hampstead. " Have you 
anything in rebuttal ? " he asked. 

" Nothing," replied the minister, arising and stepping 
down to his chair at the long table, where he remained 
standing while the attentive expression of Court and 
spectators indicated appreciation that the climax of the 
defendant's effort was at hand. 

The very bigness of the thing the man was trying to 
do was in some sense an attest of character, and here and 
there among the onlookers ran little currents of reviving 
sympathy for the clergyman, who stood waiting quietly 
for the moment in which to begin his final effort as an 
attorney in his own behalf. 

Keenly sensitive to the subtlest emotions of the crowd, 



416 HELD TO ANSWER 

he understood perfectly well that the effect of his testi- 
mony had been at least sufficient to secure a verdict of 
suspended judgment from the spectators; and he ex- 
pected far more from the balanced mind of the judge; 
so that it was with a feeling of renewed confidence, al- 
most an anticipation of triumph, that he prepared to 
make the final move. 

"If the Court please," he began dispassionately, as if 
pleading for a cause that had no more than an abstract 
meaning for himself, " I desire to move at this time the 
dismissal of the complaint, upon the ground that the evi- 
dence is insufficient to warrant the holding- of the de- 
fendant for trial before the Superior Court." 

The minister stopped for breath, and there was an- 
other of those strange, composite sighs from beyond the 
rail. 

" In support of that motion," and a note of growing 
significance appeared in the speaker's tone, " I argue 
nothing, except to ask this Court to accept as true every 
word of testimony spoken by every witness heard upon 
the stand this morning." 

The Court looked puzzled, but the ministerial de- 
fendant went on: 

" I believe the truth has been spoken by Miss Dounay 
by the maid by the officers and by my own 
friends. Yet the facts testified to may be true," the 
minister's voice rose, " and the inference to which they 
point be wickedly and damnably false ! It is so with this 
case; for be it noted that I ask your Honor to consider 
also that my testimony is true. It denies no statement; 
it controverts no fact in the case of the prosecution. On 
the contrary, it confirms them ; but it also explains them." 
Again the defendant's voice was rising. " It confirms 
the facts, but it utterly refutes the inference that this 
defendant at the bar is guilty. Consider the entire fabric 



ON PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION 417 

of evidence as a seamless garment of truth, and you can 
dismiss the complaint with an untroubled brow. Reason 
is satisfied! Justice is done! " 

Hampstead paused, and a shade of apprehension came 
to his face, for his eye had traveled for a moment to that 
massed expectancy without the rail. 

" The verdict of your Honor is to me," Hampstead 
in his growing earnestness had abandoned the fictional 
distinction between the pleader and his client, " of more 
than usual importance, for by it hangs the verdict of the 
people whose interest is attested by those packed bencheg 
yonder. Without disrespect to your Honor, I can sa^ 
that I care more for their verdict than for that of any 
twelve men in any jury box or any judge upon any bench. 

" But under the circumstances the whole people cannot 
actually judge they can only be my executioners. 
They have not heard me speak. They can not look me 
in the eye, nor observe by my demeanor whether I speak 
like an honest man or a contemptible fraud. They see 
me only through a cloud of skillfully engendered suspi- 
cion. They hear my voice only faintly amid a clamorous 
confusion of poisoned tongues. Your Honor must see 
for them, and speak for them. Your Honor's verdict 
will be their verdict. I tremble for that verdict. I plead 
for it ! 

" I ask your Honor to take account of the difficulty 
of my position, presuming, as the law instructs the Court 
to presume, that it is the position of an innocent person. 
Bound by the most inviolable vow which a man can take, 
I am unable to offer to you a conclusive defense by 
presenting the man who committed the crime. He may 
be in this court room now, cowering with a consciousness 
of his guilt and in awe at beholding its consequences to 
the one who has helped him. He may be an officer of 
this Court; he might be your Honor, sitting upon the 



418 HELD TO ANSWER 

bench, which, of course, is unthinkable yet no more 
unthinkable to me than that I should be charged with 
this crime. But though he be here at my very side, I 
cannot reach out my hand and say : ' That is the man.' 
I will not touch him nor look at him. Unless he speaks 
and I confess that there is an outside reason why I 
should absolutely forbid him to speak there is no de- 
fense that can be offered, beyond the simple story I have 
told you. 

" May I not, also, without being accused of egotism, 
remind your Honor that if it is decided that I appear 
sufficiently guilty to warrant a criminal trial in the Su- 
perior Court, my work in this community will be at an 
end." 

The minister was speaking for the first time with a 
show of deep feeling, and an indulgent sneer appeared 
upon the lips of Searle. This was not legitimate argu- 
ment. Yet a mere preacher might not be supposed to 
know it, and therefore he, Searle;, would magnanimously 
allow the man to talk himself out, if his Honor did not 
stop him. 

But the Court was also complaisant, and the minister 
went on with passionate earnestness to plead : 

" Regardless of the ultimate verdict of a jury, the 
stigma of a felony trial will be upon me for life. From 
this very court room I shall be taken to your identification 
bureau. I shall be weighed, stripped, measured my 
thumb prints taken my features photographed like 
those of any criminal ! " 

As Hampstead proceeded, his speech began to be 
punctuated with spasmodic breaks, as if the prospective 
humiliation was one at which his sensitive nature revolted 
violently. 

" And those finger prints," he labored " those meas- 
urements and that photograph will become a part 



ON PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION 419 

of the criminal records of the State of California 

for as long as the paper upon which they are made 
shall .last!" 

" No ! No ! ! No ! ! ! " shrilled a hysterical voice that 
burst out suddenly and ended as abruptly as it began. 

Strangely enough it was the complaining witness who 
had cried out. She had risen and stood with hands out- 
stretched protestingly to the minister, while whispering 
hoarsely: "It cannot be! It cannot be!" 

" Madam ! " thundered the minister, viewing the 
woman sternly, his own emotion of self-sympathy dis- 
appearing at this unexpected sign of softness in her, 
while his eyes blazed indignantly : " That is a police 
regulation which by long custom has come to have all 
the force of law. If you doubt it, your accomplice there 
will so inform you ! " 

Hampstead, as he uttered the last words, had shifted 
his blazing glance to Searle, who at first disconcerted and 
endeavoring to pull Miss Dounay back into her seat, now 
rose and turned toward the defendant, his own face 
aflame, and hot words poised upon his tongue. 

But Judge Brennan was rapping for silence. 

"Compose yourself, madam!" he ordered sternly. 

But before the minister's accusing glance, Miss Dounay 
was already dropping back into her chair, and as if in 
dismay at her outbreak, buried her face in her hands, 
while Searle, quivering with fury, snarled out : 

" I resent, your Honor, with all my manhood, the 
epithet which this defendant has gratuitously and insult- 
ingly flung at me." 

" Be seated, Mr. Searle," commanded the judge. 
" Doctor Hampstead's position is very distressing. He 
will withdraw the objectionable epithet." 

" I withdraw it," acknowledged the minister, recover- 
ing his poise; yet he said it doggedly and uncompromis- 



420 HELD TO ANSWER 

ingly, qualifying his withdrawal with : " But your Honor 
will take into account that the manner of the repre- 
sentative of the District Attorney has been offensive to 
me, though some of the time veiled by an exaggerated 
pretense of courtesy. It has seemed to me the manner of 
an accomplice of the complaining witness, and I withdraw 
the statement more out of respect to this Court than out 
of consideration for him." 

Searle glared, but resumed his seat, giving vent to his 
temper in a violent jerk of his chair as he dropped into it. 

' You may conclude your remarks," observed the Court 
to Hampstead. 

" There is nothing to add," replied the minister, after 
a reflective interval, " except to urge again that your 
Honor consider the grave consequences of yielding to a 
one-sided view of the case. I ask only that truth be 
honored and justice done ! " 

With this the defendant sat down. 

Miss Dounay appeared to have regained her com- 
posure, but, white and still, her glance was now fixed as 
noticeably upon the face of the defendant as before she 
had markedly avoided it. 

With a hitch to his vest and. a forward thrust of the 
chin, Searle rose to attack the plea of the defendant. 

" Your Honor may well ask with Pilate : ' What is 
truth ? ' ' he began, the manner of his speech showing 
that while his self-control was admirable, his mood was 
that vindictive one into which many a prosecutor appears 
to work himself when arising to assail the cause of a 
defendant. 

" However," he prefaced, " I must first apologize to 
your Honor for the momentary loss of control on the part 
of the complaining witness. Your Honor will realize 
that her emotions were wantonly and deliberately played 
upon by the defendant in a skillful endeavor to create 



ON PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION 421 

sympathy for himself. The fact that he succeeded so 
readily is an eloquent bit of testimony to the sympathetic 
nature of this estimable and brilliant woman, to the ease 
with which her confidence is gained, and the painful re- 
luctance with which she performs her duty in this sad 
case : for any way we view it, it is a sad case, your Honor, 
and no one regrets more than I the harsh words w r hich 
must be spoken in the course of my own duty to the 
people of this county. 

" However," and Searle paused for a moment as if 
both gathering breath and steeling himself for the vicious 
assault he proposed to make : " Addressing myself to 
the plea of the defendant for a dismissal of this case, I 
must say flatly that the motion itself, the argument to 
support it, and the testimony upon which it is based, 
constitute the most audacious combination of effrontery 
and offensive egotism to which a court w r as ever asked to 
listen. I congratulate your Honor upon the patience and 
self-control with which you have contained yourself while 
permitting this defendant to go on from statement to 
statement, involving himself deeper in this dastardly 
crime with every word. 

" If, your Honor, in all my days at the bar as a 
prosecutor, I have ever looked into the face of a guilty 
man, it is the face of this man! this egotist! this 
boastful braggart! " As Searle hurled each epithet, 
he worked his passion higher and shook an offensively, 
impudently accusing finger at the defendant; "this hypo- 
crite ! this paddler of the palms of neurasthenic 
women ! this associate of criminals ! this shepherd 
of black sheep, who now sits here with a sneer upon his 
lips lips which have just committed the most appalling 
sacrilege by seeking to cloak the guilt of a dastardly act 
with the sacred gown of a priest of God ! " 

As a matter of fact, there was no sneer discernible to 



422 HELD TO ANSWER 

any one else upon the lips of the defendant. At first 
smiling at the mock-fury into which Searle was lashing 
himself, they had become white and bloodless under the 
sting of these heaped-up insults. But this last was more 
than the man could stand in silence. 

" Is my position so defenseless, I ask your Honor," 
Hampstead interrupted, " that I am compelled to endure 
this?" 

The judge bestowed a chiding glance upon the attorney, 
but replied to the minister : 

" A certain liberty is allowed the prosecutor." 

" But that liberty should not be a license to defame ! " 
protested the defendant. 

" Am I to be permitted to proceed with my argument 
or not?" bawled Searle in his most bullying manner, 
while he glared at the audacious minister. 

" You may proceed," replied the Court, affecting not 
to notice the disrespect with which it had been addressed. 

Searle continued, lapsing now into an argumentative 
strain. 

" The defendant himself has said that the case against 
him is without a flaw. He has had the effrontery to 
urge that your Honor accept the testimony against him 
as true testimony. He has only argued that if we are 
to believe the witnesses for the prosecution, we are also 
to believe him. I say I affirm with all the force at my 
command that we are not to believe him at all! 

" I ask your Honor to consider first the motive for his 
testimony. The man is hopelessly involved. The charge 
of burglary is a simple one, compared with the broader 
indictment of moral profligacy which the whole com- 
munity is at this moment prepared to find against him. 
Ruin stares him in the face. His pose is shattered. His 
disguise is penetrated. If he goes from this court room 
to the identification bureau of which he has spoken in 



ON PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION 423 

his mawkish plea for sympathy, as I believe he will go, 
he goes to be catalogued with criminals, and to be damned 
forever in the esteem of his neighbors. 

" To avert that, would not your Honor expect this de- 
fendant to be willing to perjure himself without a qualm? 
Will a man who has lived a lie before a \vhole community 
for five years hesitate to add another in an endeavor to 
avert his impending fate? Will a man who has stolen 
the jewels of his trusted friend hesitate to swear falsely 
in denial of such an act? Will a man who has worked 
upon the sympathy of his friends to secure large sums 
of money for a purpose so doubtful that it is undis- 
closed Will he hesitate to work upon the sympathies 
here by words and implications, by innuendoes that are as 
false to religion as to fact? 

;< Your Honor knows that he would not so hesitate. 
Your Honor knows, through long familiarity with the 
law of evidence, that the testimony of a defendant in his 
own behalf, because of his intense interest in the outcome 
of his case, is always to be weighed with extreme 
care. 

" I believe under such circumstances not only the mo- 
tives, the springs of action, but the probable mental proc- 
esses of the witness are to be taken into account. I 
ask your Honor what a defendant involved in the mesh 
of circumstantial evidence here presented would probably 
do under these circumstances. Your own judgment an- 
swers with mine that he would probably lie, and exactly 
as this defendant has lied ! " 

Again Searle turned and shook his long arm with 
insulting undulations in the direction of the defendant, 
after which he continued: 

" Turning from probabilities to experience, I ask your 
Honor out of his memory of years of service upon the 
bench, what does the arrested thief taken like this one, 



424 HELD TO ANSWER 

with the loot in his possession what does he do? 
Why, he either confesses his crime, or he tells you that 
he is not the thief but an innocent third party, who un- 
wittingly received the loot from the man of straw, whom 
his imagination and his necessities have created. That 
latter alternative is the defense of this alleged minister of 
the Gospel ! He had not the honesty to confess, but tells 
instead that same old lie which criminals and felons have 
been telling in that same witness chair since this Court 
was first established. 

" Yet this defendant's story has not even the merit of a 
pretense to ignorance that the goods he held were stolen 
goods. He boldly admits that he knew they were stolen ; 
that he was personally acquainted with the owner; that 
he knew the distress of her mind; knew the police de- 
partments of half a dozen cities were searching for the 
jewels, and that the newspapers were giving the widest 
publicity to the facts and thus joining in the chase for 
loot and looter. And yet he calmly permits these dia- 
monds to repose in his vault with never a word or hint 
to calm the distress of his friend or relieve the peace 
officers of burdensome labors in which they were engag- 
ing and the unnecessary expense which they were thus 
putting upon the taxpayers who support them! 

" Why, your Honor, if the witness's own story is true r 
he has given this Court an abundant ground for holding" 
him to answer to the Superior Court, not indeed upon the 
exact charge named in that complaint, but as an acces- 
sory after the fact to said charge. 

" But it is not true. To use his own phrase, it is wick- 
edly and damnably false! So palpably false that it col- 
lapses upon the mere examination of your Honor's mind! 
without argument from me. 

" Yet I cannot close without calling attention to the 
sheer recklessness with which this thief and perjurer has. 



ON PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION 425 

heightened the infamy of his position by an act of brazen 
sacrilege. He has sought to make plausible his weak, 
unimaginative lie that he received these goods instead of 
stealing them, by pretending that he received them in his 
capacity as a religious confessor, under conditions that 
bound him to a silence which the voice of God alone 
could break. 

" That, in itself, is a claim that should bring the blush 
of shame to the cheek and rouse the hot resentment of 
every honest minister and of every honest priest, and 
make them join with the outraged feelings of honest lay- 
men and of citizens generally in demanding that justice 
descend upon this man and strike him from the pedestal 
of self-righteous egotism upon which he stands. 

:< Turning again for a moment to the question of prob- 
abilities : I ask your Honor if it is probable, even think- 
able, that any minister, standing in the position of regard 
in which this minister stood last Sunday morning be- 
fore the eyes of his people, would deem a crisis like this 
insufficient to unseal his lips and absolve him from his 
confessional vows? His very duty to his God and to his 
congregation, to the poor dupes of his hypocrisy, to say 
nothing of his duty to himself, would compel him to go 
upon the witness stand voluntarily and reveal the name 
of the alleged thief! 

" Such a consideration again forces upon any unbiased 
mind the conviction that this man is not speaking the 
truth. View him as a thief, and you suspect that his 
story is a lie. Try to view him as a minister, acting 
honestly and in good faith, and you no longer suspect, 
but you deeply and unalterably know that his story is a 
lie!" 

Searle, now at the height of his self-induced passion, 
as well as at the climax of his argument, stood bent over, 
his eyes blazing at the judge, his face red, his neck swol- 



426 HELD TO ANSWER 

len, his features working in rage, and his voice deepening 
to a bull-like roar, while with an upper-cut gesture of his 
clenched fist and right arm, he appeared to lift the words 
to some mighty height and hurl them like a thunder bolt 
of doom. 

The minister, sitting with every muscle taut, as he 
strained under the viciousness of this assault, felt just 
before its climax some insensible cause directing his gaze 
from the face of his official accuser to that of his real 
Nemesis, the actress, and was surprised to see her crouch- 
ing like a tigress for a spring, with eyes fixed upon the 
prosecutor, and a look of unutterable malice, hate, and 
loathing in their savage beams. 

But with this scene thrown for a moment on the screen 
of his mind, the suddenly sobering utterance of Searle 
indicated that he was concluding his argument, and the 
defendant's eyes returned quickly to the attorney's face. 

" For these reasons, your Honor," the man was say- 
ing, " so patent and bristling from the testimony that I 
need not even have spoken of them in order to bring 
them to your attention, I ask you to find that the offense 
as charged in the complaint has been committed, and that 
there is sufficient cause to believe the defendant guilty 
thereof, and to order that he be held to answer before 
the Honorable, the Superior Court of the County of 
Alameda and the State of California." 

Searle sat down and wiped his brow, confident that 
he had added greatly to his reputation by a masterly ar- 
gument which had sealed the fate of a man, against 
whom, despite the minister's suspicions, he really had 
nothing in the world but that instinct for the chase to 
which, once a strong nature gives up, it may find itself 
led on to excesses that are the extreme of injustice. 

The audience moved restlessly yet silently, shifting 
cramped muscles tenderly and rubbing strained eyes ; but 



ON PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION 427 

still alert for the issue of the scene which in one hour 
and fifty minutes had been played from one climax to 
another. 

" You have the opportunity to reply," said the Court, 
addressing Hampstead. 

" The spirit and the manner of this address is its own 
reply," answered the defendant quickly, believing hope- 
fully that it was. 

But the audience, more discerning than the defendant, 
issued the last of its long-drawn collective sighs, fore- 
seeing that the drama was now at its inevitable end. 

In sharp, machine-like tones, the verdict of Judge 
Brennan was pronounced : 

"Held to answer! Bail doubled! Adjourned!" 

The gavel fell sharply, and the eyes of the Court 
darted a warning glance beyond the rail as if to forestall 
a possible demonstration of any sort. But there was 
none. A kind of restraint appeared to hold the court 
and spectators in thrall. Then the official reporter closed 
his notebook with an audible whisk; the clerk, gathering 
his papers, snapped them loudly with rubber bands; and 
the judge arose and started toward his chambers, while 
Wyatt moved over and took his place significantly by the 
side of Hampstead. As if this broke the spell, there was 
a shuffling of many feet, while the minister was immedi- 
ately surrounded by his bondsmen and a few friends. 
The friends pressed his hand and stepped away into the 
outgoing crowd; but the bondsmen went with him into 
the judge's chambers, where the new surety was quickly 
executed. After this, wringing the hand of each of the 
three men feelingly, Hampstead asked to be excused. 

" I have an humiliating experience to undergo," he ex- 
plained, with a meaningful glance at Detective Larsen 
who, representing the Bureau of Identification, stood 
waiting. " I prefer to face that humiliation alone." 



428 HELD TO ANSWER 

" I understand," exclaimed Wilson, his face flushing. 
" It is a damned outrage ! I didn't know such a thing 
could be done. I thought every man was presumed in- 
nocent until proven guilty! Instead of that, they put 
him in the Rogues' Gallery ! " 

" You are as innocent as an angel from heaven," 
averred the white-bearded W r adham extravagantly, as 
he laid an affectionate hand upon the shoulder of the 
younger man. 

' You are, indeed," echoed Hayes, his voice hoarse 
with emotion. " I confess again that we doubted for a 
time, but your character rises triumphant to the test." 

The minister was unwilling to trust himself to further 
speech ; for his disappointment with the verdict had been 
great, and the sympathetic loyalty of these trusted friends 
made self-control difficult, so with only a nod of com- 
prehension, he turned quickly to where Detective Larsen 
waited. 

It was nearly one hour later when the minister, 
clothed again, stepped out upon the street. Behind him 
was his record in the criminal history of the State of 
California. He had seen his name go into the card 
index with a wife murderer on one side of him and the 
author of an unmentionable crime upon the other. With 
the sickening memory of his loathsome ordeal searing his 
brain he was only half-conscious of the clatter and bang 
of the busy city life about him. Mercifully the gaping 
crowd had dispersed. Hurrying people went this way and 
that, intent upon their own concerns. But a newsboy, in- 
tent, too, on his concerns, thrust the noon edition of 
The Sentinel before the minister's eyes. Seeking the 
headline by habit, as the eyes of the victim turn to the 
torturing irons, he read in letters as black and bold as 
any he had seen that week, the verdict of Judge Bren- 
nan. 



ON PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION 429 

"HELD TO ANSWER!" 

Instinctively Hampstead paused, like a man in a daze, 
then passed his hand before his eyes to blot the black 
letters from his sight. In the identification bureau, the 
meaning of those three words had just been defined to the 
most sensitive part of his nature in abhorrent and revolt- 
ing terms. The sight of that headline to be flaunted 
on every street corner was like seeing these words, with 
their loathsome connotation, spread upon a banner that 
arched over the whole sky of life for him. It over- 
whelmed him with a sense of the public obloquy to which 
he was now to be subjected. 

On the street car, as he rode homeward, the minister 
felt the eyes of the people upon him, curiously he 
knew, derisively he imagined; yet some were in reality 
sympathetic. The conductor, as he took the clergyman's 
nickel, touched his hat respectfully, thus subtly indicating 
that there was some vestige of religious character still 
outwardly attaching to his person. And a workman, 
his tools in his hand and the stain of his craft upon his 
clothes, leaned over and touched the minister upon the 
arm. 

" My boy was playing the ponies in Beany Webster's 
place," he said. " You saved him for me. I don't care 
what else you done; if they ever got me on the jury, 
there's one would never convict you of anything." 

The minister recognized the friendliness of the remark 
with a cordial smile, and put out his hand to grasp grate- 
fully the soiled one of the toiler. That handclasp was 
immensely strengthening to him. He felt as if he had 
taken hold of the great, steadying hand of God. 



CHAPTER XXXVI 

A PROMISE OF STRENGTH 

LATE in the afternoon of this day, which, it will be 
remembered, was Saturday, the minister had three 
callers in tolerably prompt succession. The first to ap- 
pear was the Angel of the Chair, hailing the minister 
with a smile as if, instead of disgrace, he had achieved 
a triumph. 

Hampstead's sad face lighted with sheer joy at her 
manner. It was such a relief that she had not come to 
commiserate him. His mood was extremely subtle. It 
irritated him to be pitied; it stung him to be doubted. 
He only wanted to be believed and to be encouraged by 
those who did believe him. This fragile blossom of a 
woman who, with all her gentleness and weakness, had 
yet in her breast the battling spirit of the martyrs of old, 
touched just the right note, as after an interval of sym- 
pathetic silence, she asked gently, with a voice full of 
the tenderest consideration, " Can you can you see it 
to the end?" 

"To the end?" 

Hampstead lifted his brows gravely. "You mean 
conviction ? " 

" Yes," she answered with that simple directness which 
showed that she was blinking no phase of the question. 
" Is the issue big enough to require such a sacrifice? " 

" Oh, I think it is too improbable it could go to that 
length," Hampstead answered thoughtfully. 

"But it might! Is it worth it?" Mrs. Burbeck per- 
sisted. 



A PROMISE OF STRENGTH 431 

The calm sincerity of her manner poised the question 
like a lance aimed at his heart. 

Hampstead hesitated. He really had not thought as 
far as this, any farther in fact than the hateful smudge 
of the thumb print and the picture in the Gallery of 
Rogues. But now, with her considerately calculating 
glances upon him, he did think that far, weighing all 
his hopes, his work, his position at the head of All 
People's, his priceless liberty, his fathomless love for 
Bessie, against the pledged word of a priest to a weak 
and penitent thief, whose soul at this moment trembled 
on the brink, suspended alone by the spectacle of the in- 
tegrity of the confessor to his vow. 

He weighed his duty to this thief now somewhat as 
five years before he had weighed his duty to Dick and 
Tayna against the supreme ambition of his life. The 
stakes then, on both sides, large as they had seemed, were 
infinitely smaller than the values at issue now. Looking 
back, John knew that then he had not only made the 
right decision, but the best decision for himself. He 
thought that he was humbling himself; but instead he 
had exalted himself. 

But now the lines were not so sharply drawn. He 
was renouncing his very position and power to do his 
duty. 

"Is it?" 

Mrs. Burbeck half-looked and half-breathed this gentle 
reminder that she had asked her pastor a question. 

" I believe," said the minister, revealing frankly the 
trend of his thought, " that the nearest duty is the great- 
est duty; that the man who spares himself for some ' 
great task will never come to a great task. I hold that 
a man ought to be true in any relation of life; and 
when the issue is drawn between one duty and another, 
he should try to determine calmly which is the highest 



432 HELD TO ANSWER 

duty and be true to that. I shall try to be that in this 
case even to conviction ! " 

The sheen upon the face of the woman as she listened 
was as great as the glow upon the face of the man as he 
spoke. 

" That is a very simple religion," Mrs. Burbeck con- 
curred happily, " and it contains the larger fact of all 
religion. That is why Jesus went to the cross; because 
he was true. That was why the grave couldn't hold him ; 
because he was true. You cannot bury truth, nor brand 
it, nor photograph it, nor put its thumb prints in a book, 
nor put stripes upon it." 

Hampstead arose suddenly, enthusiasm kindling like 
the glow of inspiration upon his face. " That is why 
I still feel free unscathed by what has happened," he 
exclaimed. " In a small and comparatively unimportant 
way it has been given to me to be true. Yes," he said, 
sitting down again and speaking very soberly, " I shall 
be true to the end conviction, imprisonment even. 
Prison terms do not last forever; and every day spent 
there will be a witness to the fact that I am true." Ex- 
alted enthusiasm had passed on for a moment to a 
strained note that sounded like fanatical egotism. 

As if to check this Mrs. Burbeck asked quietly but 
with a significance that was arresting: 

" Are you strong enough, do you think ? " 

For a moment the minister was thoughtful and some- 
thing like a shudder of apprehension swept over him. 

" No," he replied humbly. " I begin to confess it to 
myself. The fear that I will weaken begins to come 
to me at times." 

" That is good," the Angel of the Chair commented 
surprisingly, gathering her scarf about her shoulders as 
she spoke. "It is better to be too weak than to be too 
strong. But strength will be given you. That is what 



A PROMISE OF STRENGTH 433 

I came to say. I feel strangely weak myself, to-day, and 
must be going now." 

" You should not have come," reproached the min- 
ister, as he helped Mori, the Japanese, to wheel her to 
the door ; " and yet I am so glad you did come, for you 
have made me feel like some chivalrous champion of 
eternal right jousting in the lists against an impious 
Lucifer." 

For this the Angel gave him back a smile over the top 
of her chair, and the minister watched her out of sight, 
reflecting that in the few days since this strain upon them 
all began she had failed perceptibly, and recalling that 
never before had he heard her allude to her weakness 
or make her physical condition the excuse for anything 
she did or did not do. 

t Within a quarter of an hour, so soon almost that it 
seemed as if he had been waiting for his wife to depart, 
Elder Burbeck was announced as the second caller at 
Doctor Hampstead's door. 

For the five years of his eldership before the advent 
of Hampstead, Elder Burbeck had a record in the official 
board of never permitting any subject to be passed upon 
without a word from him, nor ever having allowed any 
question to be considered settled until it was settled 
according to the dictates of the thing he supposed to be 
his conscience. 

At their first momentary clash on the day when Hamp- 
stead, the book agent, had broken open the church which 
Burbeck had nailed up, the older man thought he sensed 
in the younger the presence of a spiritual endowment 
greater than his own. To this the ruling Elder had 
bowed within himself. Externally, his manner was not 
changed, nor his leadership affected. To the con- 
gregation his submission to the final judgment of the 
minister was accounted as a virtue. Instead of weaken- 



434 HELD TO ANSWER 

ing him, it strengthened his own standing with the mem- 
bership. 

While Burbeck had at times voiced his protests to the 
pastor at what he felt to be mistaken sentimentalism, and 
while the protests had been dismissed at times with an 
unchristian impatience, there was no one to whom the 
events and disclosures of this terrible week of headlines 
had been more surprising or more shocking than to the 
meticulous apostle of the status quo. Upon the Elder's 
metallic cast of mind each revelation impacted with the 
shattering effect of a solid shot. Through a thousand 
crevices thus created, suspicion, rumor, and the stream 
of truths, half-truths, and lies percolated to the bed of 
reason. His mind was without elasticity. The school 
of logic in which he had been trained reasoned coldly, 
by straight lines to rectangular conclusions. There was 
no place for allowances or adjustments. Once a stitch 
was dropped, there was no picking it up, and the blemish 
was in the garment. 

So he reasoned now about Hampstead. The minister, 
having been weak once, must have also been wicked; 
being brittle, he must have been broken; frail, he must 
have been fractured. Having been wicked, broken, frac- 
tured, this explained his immense sympathy for -and ca- 
pacity to reach other frail, weak, brittle men and women ; 
but it did not justify his pose as a pillar unscathed by 
fire. Loving All People's as he loved himself, his wife, 
his brilliant son, with pride and self-complacence, 
Burbeck felt hot resentment at the disgrace which the 
disclosures and the flood of scandal brought upon the 
church. 

Searle himself had not believed many of the charges 
he hurled against Hampstead in his concluding speech. 
Elder Burbeck, who heard that speech from behind the 
rail, believed it all. Believing it, and believing in his 



A PROMISE OF STRENGTH 435 

mission to purge the church of this impostor, his zeal 
roused him to the point where he forgot to be logical. 
He believed the preacher was a thief, a liar and a hypo- 
crite; and at the same time believed that he had told the 
truth upon the witness stand in his own defense. But 
this only made his sin more heinous. He was harboring 
some crook some other man, weak, frail, brittle, 
wicked as himself. That man was necessarily a hypo- 
crite, a whited sepulcher, posing before the community 
as a pillar of virtue. It would be an act of righteous- 
ness to find and expose that man. But who could it be ? 
Somebody at that supper, of course. Now it might be 
Haggard, managing editor of The Sentinel; newspaper 
men were always suspicious characters, anyway; and 
surely Hampstead was under obligations to Haggard. 
Haggard, with all his publicity, had given the minister 
his first fame, and for years supported him upon his 
pedestal as a public idol. Yes, it probably was Hag- 
gard. But whoever it was, Burbeck undertook in his 
mind a second mission ; to find and expose and brand the 
thief whom the minister was protecting. 

With no more fiery fanaticism did the followers of 
Mohammed set out with the sword to purge the world of 
infidels than did Elder Burbeck purpose to purge All 
People's of its pastor and wring from the lips of Hamp- 
stead the secret of another's crime. 

He entered the minister's study with a pompous dig- 
nity that was ominous. His face was as red, the bony 
protuberances on his boxlike and hairless skull were as 
prominent, as ever. His shaggy eyebrows lent their 
usual fierceness to the steel gleam of his blue eye. His 
close-cropped gray mustache clung perilously above lips 
that were straight and unsmiling. 

" Good evening, Hampstead," he said, with a falling 
inflection. 



436 HELD TO ANSWER 

This was the first time he had ever failed to say 
" Brother " Hampstead. 

The minister had risen to greet his visitor, but subtly 
discerning in the first appearance of the man the mood in 
which he came, had not advanced, but stood with his 
desk between them, waiting. 

" How are you, Burbeck ! " the minister replied evenly. 
This was also the first time he had failed to address the 
Elder as " Brother." He was rather surprised at him- 
self for omitting it now and took warning therefrom that 
his feelings were poised upon hair triggers. 

The Elder saw in the minister's manner instant con- 
firmation of his conclusions. The man had not the spirit 
of Christ. He met hard looks with hard looks. This 
was well. It made the Elder's task the easier. He could 
proceed at once to business. 

In his hand he held a copy of the last edition of The 
Sentinel, and now he spread the paper across the desk 
before the clergyman's eye. The same old headline was 
there, " HELD TO ANSWER," but in the center of the 
page was a frame or box which contained a half-tone, a 
smear, and a short column of black-face type, both words 
and figures. 

Hampstead saw at a glance that it was a printed copy 
of his Bertillon record. The smear was his thumb print ; 
the picture was his picture, a half-tone of the bald, un- 
retouched photograph of himself which had been made 
for the Gallery of Rogues, and across the bottom of the 
picture was a suggestive space, in which was printed: 

" No. ?" The inference sought to be conveyed was 

clear. So great was the sense of pain which Hampstead 
felt that it was reflected in the glance he turned upon the 
Elder, a glance that came as near to an appeal for pity 
as any that had yet been in the clergyman's eye. But 
it met no response from the stern old Puritan. 



A PROMISE OF STRENGTH 437 

" Be seated ! " the i. rister said, a trifle sadly. 

" I can say what I've got to say better if I stand," re- 
plied the Elder tersely. "Of course you'll resign!" 

A look of intense surprise crossed the face of Hamp- 
stead. 

" Resign what ? " he asked, with raised brows. 

" Why, the pulpit of All People's! " 

The minister stared in amazement. Burbeck also 
stared, but in impatience, during an interval of silence 
in which Hampstead had full opportunity to weigh again 
the manner of his visitor and appraise its meaning. 

" No," the young man replied within a minute, firmly 
but almost without inflection, " I shall not resign." 

" Then," declared Burbeck aggressively, " the pulpit 
of All People's will be declared vacant." The Elder's 
chin was raised, and implacable resolution was photo- 
graphed upon his features. 

Again Hampstead paused, and weighed and sounded 
the really sterling character of this honest old man, whose 
pride was as inflexible and undeviating as the rule of his 
moral life. He saw him not as a fanatical vengeance, 
but as a father. He thought of Rollie, of the man's 
pride in his son, and of what a crushing blow it would be 
to him to know the plight in which that son really stood 
to-day. It brought to him the memory of something he 
had read somewhere : " The more you do for a man, the 
easier it is to love him and to forgive him." His feeling 
now was not of resentment, but of sympathy. He felt 
very sorry for the Elder and for the position in which he 
stood. 

" Why, Brother Burbeck," he reproached softly, " All 
People's would not do that. You would not let them do 
that. When you have stopped to think, you would not 
let me resign even. If I am convicted by a jury, I should 
have to resign; but a jury would not convict, I think. 



438 HELD TO ANSWER 

Besides, many things can happen before that. My ac- 
cuser, who knows I am innocent, might relent. It is even 
more conceivable that a condition might arise under 
which the thief could speak out, and I should be vindi- 
cated." 

The upper lip of Burbeck curled till it showed a tooth 
and then straightened out again. The minister con- 
tinued to speak: 

" To resign now would amount to a confession of 
guilt. To force me to resign would be an act of treach- 
ery. I am guilty of nothing, proven guilty of nothing. 
I am assailed because of the whimsical caprice of a half- 
crazed woman. I am temporarily helpless before that as- 
sault because I am faithful to my vows as a minister of 
All People's, vows which I took kneeling, with your 
hand upon my head. In spirit I am unscathed, as your 
own observations must show you. If my reputation is 
wounded, it is a wound sustained in the course of my 
duty, and it is the part of All People's and every mem- 
ber of it to rally valiantly to my support. If I were not 
persuaded that they would do this, I should be gravely 
disheartened." 

The manner in which Hampstead spoke was clearly 
disconcerting to the Elder. He felt again that conscious- 
ness of moral superiority before which he had bowed un- 
til bowing had become a habit. But now he had more 
information. Reason stiffened the back of prejudice. 
He knew that this assumption of the minister was a 
pose. His conviction was this time strong enough to 
avert its spell; and he answered unmoved, except to- 
deeper feeling, with still harsher utterance : 

" Then Hampstead, you will be disheartened ! All 
People's shall never support you again. I have called 
a meeting of the official board for to-night. I shall pre- 
sent a resolution declaring the pulpit vacant. If they 



A PROMISE OF STRENGTH 439 

recommend it, it will be acted upon to-morrow morning 
by the congregation. If they do not receive it, I shall 
myself bring it before the congregation." 

A look of deepening pain crossed the features of the 
minister. 

" Not to-morrow," he pleaded, his voice choking 
strangely ; " not to-morrow. I have been counting 
greatly on to-morrow. It has been a hard week. 
Alan ! " and Hampstead suddenly arose, " man, have you 
not heart enough to realize what this has been to me. I 
long passionately for the privilege of standing again in 
the pulpit of All People's. I want them to see how un- 
daunted in spirit I am. I want them to judge for them- 
selves the mark of conscious innocence upon my face. 
I want to feel myself once more under the gaze of a 
thousand pairs of eyes, every one of which I know is 
friendly. I want the whole of Oakland to know that my 
church is solidly behind me; that though in a Court of 
Justice I am ' Held to Answer ', in the Court of the Lord 
and before the jury of my own church, I stand approved, 
with the very stigma of official shame recognized as 'a 
decoration of honor." 

Hampstead had walked around the desk. He lifted 
his hand in appeal and sought to lay it upon the shoulder 
of the Elder to express the sympathy and the need of 
sympathy which he felt. 

But Burbeck deliberately moved out of reach, replying 
sternly and perhaps vindictively : 

" Hampstead ! You do not appear to appreciate your 
position. You will never again stand in the pulpit of All 
People's. That is one sacrilege which you have com- 
mitted for the last time. More than that, I hold it to be 
my duty to God to wring from your own lips the secret 
of the man whom you are shielding, and I shall find a 
way to do it ! I " 



440 HELD TO ANSWER 

But the man's feeling had overmastered his speech. 
His body shook, his face was purple with the vehemence 
of anger. He lifted his hand as if to call down an im- 
precation w 7 hen words had failed him, then abruptly 
turned, unwilling to trust himself to further speech, and 
made for the outside door. It closed behind him with 
a bang that left the key rattling in the lock. 

Perhaps this noise and the sound of the Elder's clump- 
ing, heavy feet as they went down the steps, prevented 
the minister from hearing the chugging of a motor-car 
as it was brought to a stop in front. 

Elder Burbeck, hurrying directly across the street to 
relieve his feelings by getting away quickly from what 
was now a house of detestation, almost ran into the huge 
black shape drawn up before the curb. He backed away 
and lunged around the corner of the car too quickly to 
notice the figure that emerged from it, or his emotions 
might have been still more hotly stirred. 

Hampstead, sitting at his desk, trying to think calmly 
of this new danger which threatened him, and to reflect 
upon the irony of the circumstance by which the father 
of the man and the husband of the mother he was risking 
everything to protect, should become the self-appointed 
Nemesis to hurl him from his pulpit and wrest the secret 
from his lips, heard faintly the ring at the front door, 
heard the door close, and an exclamation from his sister 
in the hall, followed by silence which, while lasting per- 
haps no more than a few seconds, was quite long enough 
for him to forget, in the absorption of his own thoughts, 
that some one had entered the house. Hence he started 
with surprise when the inner door was opened, and Rose 
appeared, her white, strained features expressing both 
fright and hate. She closed the door carefully behind 
her and whispered hoarsely : " That that woman is 
here!" 



CHAPTER XXXVII 

THE TERMS OF SURRENDER 

"WHAT woman?" asked Hampstead, in disinterested 
tones, too deeply absorbed in the half cynical reflection 
which the mission of Elder Burbeck had induced to real- 
ize that there was but one woman to whom his sister's 
manner could refer. 

" That that woman ! " replied Rose again, unable to 
bring herself to mention the name. 

" Oh," exclaimed her brother absently, but starting up 
from his reverie. " Oh, very well ; show her in," he 
directed. His tone and gesture indicated that nothing 
mattered now. 

Rose was evidently surprised at her brother's instruc- 
tion and for once inclined to protest the supremacy of his 
will. 

: ' You are not going to see her again? " she argued. 

" I know of no one who should be in greater need of 
seeing me," John rejoined, with sadness and reproach 
mingled in equal parts. 

" But alone? Think of the danger! " 

" Seeing her alone has done about all the harm it could 
do," the brother replied, with a disconsolate toss of his 
hands, while the drawn look upon his face became more 
pronounced. " Show her in ! " 

Rose turned back with a cough eloquent of dissenting 
judgment and left the door flung wide. John at his dis- 
tance sensed her feeling of outrage in the fierce rustling 
of her skirts as she receded down the hall, and presently 
heard her voice saying icily : " The open door ! " 



442 HELD TO ANSWER 

The minister smiled, with half-guilty satisfaction. 
His sister had refused Miss Dounay the courtesy of her 
escort to the study. He suspected that Rose had even 
refused to look at the visitor again, but having indicated 
the direction in which the open door stood, had whisked 
indignantly beyond into her own preserves. 

The hour was now something after sunset, and the 
room was half in gloom. The actress paused inside the 
door, standing stiffly. Hampstead sat before his desk, 
his elbows on the arms of his chair, his hands hanging 
limp, his shoulders drooping, his eyes cast down and 
fixed. He was again thinking. He had a good many 
things to think about. The coming of the actress 
brought one more. He was not utterly despondent, but 
he had been brought to the verge of catastrophe; perhaps 
beyond the verge. The woman against whom he had 
done no wrong, and who had brought him to the preci- 
pice, now stood in his room, the place of all places in 
which he could feel the desolation creeping round his soul 
like rising waters about a man trapped by the tide in 
some ocean cavern. But the minister was not now think- 
ing of that. Instead his mind recalled wonderingly that 
fleeting picture of this woman in court, with her eyes 
gleaming savagely at Searle and crouching like a tigress 
about to spring. 

As if to call attention to her presence, the actress 
swung the door noiselessly toward the jamb, until the 
lock caught it with an audible and decisive snap. The 
minister reached out a hand and touched a button that 
flooded the room with light. 

Miss Dounay was clad exactly as she had appeared 
in court, except that she was more heavily veiled, so that 
the prying light revealed no more of her features than 
the sparkle of an eye. Hampstead had not risen. 

" Well ! " he said, quietly but emotionlessly. 



THE TERMS OF SURRENDER 443 

" Yes," she replied, in a low, affirmative voice, exactly 
as if in answer to a question. 

"Why did you do it?" 

Hampstead asked the question abruptly, but very 
quietly, and accompanied it with a gravity of expression 
and a gesture slight but so inclusive that it comprehended 
the entire avalanche which had been released upon him 
during the six days which had passed since he had talked 
with this woman in the limousine upon the moonlit point 
above the city. 

Before replying, the actress raised both hands and 
lifted her veil. The disclosure was something of a reve- 
lation. The features were those of Marien Dounay, but 
they were changed. There had been always something 
royal in Marien's glances, but the royal air was gone 
now: something dominant in her personality, but the 
dominance had departed. The suggestion, too, of 
smouldering fire in her eyes was absent; instead there 
appeared a liquescent, quivering light, in which suffering 
and the comprehension that conies with suffering com- 
bined to suggest helpless appeal rather than the old, im- 
perial air. 

This softening of expression had extended to her 
mouth as well. The lips, as red, as full of invitation as 
ever, were more pliant; they trembled and formed them- 
selves into tiny undulating curves which suggested and 
then reinforced the imploring light of the eyes. Her 
beauty was more appealing because it was no longer com- 
manding, but entreating. 

" Why did you do it ? " the minister repeated, when his 
eyes had completed his appraisal, and the woman was 
still eloquently silent. 

" Because I loved you," she answered briefly. 

Her declaration was accompanied by an attempt at a 
smile that was so brave and yet so faltering that it was 



444 HELD TO ANSWER 

rather pitiful. But Hampstead, looking at the beautiful 
shell of this woman who had so vindictively hurled him 
down, was not in a mood to feel pity. Instead he was 
merely incredulous. 

" Love ? " he asked cynically, rising from his seat. 

" Yes," exclaimed the woman with convulsive eager- 
ness, as if her voice choked over speaking what her 
lips, by the traditional modesty of her sex and the moun- 
tain of her pride and self-will, had been too long for- 
bidden to utter. " Yes, I have always loved you ! " 

With this much of a beginning, excitedly and with the 
air of one whose course was predetermined, the actress 
plucked off her hat, stabbed the pin into it, and tossed 
it upon the window seat; then nervously stripped the 
gloves from her hands ; all the while hurrying on with a 
sort of defensive vehemence to aver: 

" I have loved you from the first moment when you 
held me in your arms long enough for me to feel the 
electric warmth of your personality. You roused, 
kindled, and enflamed me ! The sensation was delicious ; 
but I resented it. It offended my pride. I had never 
been overmastered. You overmastered me without 
knowing it. I hated you for it. You were so so un- 
sophisticated ; so good, so simple, so ready to worship, 
to admire, to ascribe the beauties of my body to the 
beauties of my soul. I hated you for that, for my soul 
was less beautiful than my body, and I knew it. I re- 
sisted you and yielded to you; I hated you and loved 
you ; I spurned you and wanted you. 

" You were so awkward, so impossible ; you had so 
much of talent and knew so little how to use it. It 
seemed to me the very mockery of fate that my heart 
should fasten its affection upon you. I tried to break the 
spell, and could not. I yielded to my heart. I had to 
love you, to let myself adore you. 



THE TERMS OF SURRENDER 445 

" I thought of taking you with me, but the way was 
too long ; yours was more than talent far more ; it was 
genius, but buried deep and scattered wide. It would 
have taken a lifetime to chisel it out and assemble it in 
the perfect whole of successful art. I shrank before the 
treadmill task. 

" And something else I was jealous of you ! " 

Hampstead, who despite his incredulity had been lis- 
tening attentively, raised his eyebrows. 

" Jealous of the artist you might become. Your genius 
when it flowered would overtop mine as your character 
overtops mine." 

The speaker paused, as if to mark the effect of her 
words. 

" Go on," urged Hampstead impatiently, and for the 
first time betraying feeling. " In the name of God, 
woman, if you have one word of justification to speak, 
let me hear it ! " 

" I have it," Miss Dounay rejoined, yet more impetu- 
ously, " in that one word which I have already spoken 
love!" She paused, passed her hand across her brow, 
and again resumed the thread of her story, still speaking 
rapidly but with an increase of dramatic emphasis. 

" Then came the final ecstasy of pain. You loved me. 
You demanded me. You charged me with loving you. 
You told me it was like the murder of a beautiful child to 
kill a love like ours. You argued, persuaded, demanded 
compelled almost possessed me ! " 

The woman's face whitened, her eyes closed, and she 
reeled dizzily under the spell of a memory that swept 
her into transports. 

" But," replied the minister quietly, " you killed our 
beautiful child." 

" No ! No ! ! " she exclaimed, thrusting out her hands 
to him. " Do not say that ! I only exposed it to the 



446 HELD TO ANSWER 

vicissitudes of years, to absence and to a foul slander 
which my own lips breathed against myself ! But I did 
not kill it! I did not kill it!" 

" At any rate, it is dead," replied the man, his voice 
as sadly sympathetic as it was coolly decisive. 

" But I will make it live again," the woman exclaimed 
desperately. " I love you, John ! Oh, God, how I love 
you!" 

She endeavored to reach his neck with her arms, but 
the minister stepped back, and she stood wringing them 
emptily, a look in her eyes as if she implored him to 
understand. 

But the minister was still unresponsive. 

" It was a queer way for love to act," he protested, 
and again with that comprehensive gesture which called 
accusing notice to the ruin pulled down upon him. 

" But will you not understand ? " she pleaded. " It 
was the last desperate resource of love. I could not reach 
the real you. I tried for weeks. I endured insuffer- 
able associations. I assumed distasteful interests all 
to put myself in your company; to keep you in mine; to 
create those proximities, those environments and situa- 
tions in which love grows naturally. Again and again I 
thought that love was springing up. But I was disap- 
pointed. You did not respond. What I thought at first 
was response was only sympathy. To you I was no 
longer a woman. I w r as a subject in spiritual pathology. 

" When I saw this, first it irritated, then maddened 
me. I knew that you were not yourself, that your en- 
vironment had insulated you. That you were so inter- 
ested in the part which you were playing, so absorbed 
by the duty of being a public idol, that you could not 
be yourself, the man, the flesh, the heart, I know you are. 

" In desperation I resolved to strip you, to hurl you 
down, to rob you of the public regard, of your church, 



THE TERMS OF SURRENDER 447 

of everything; to strip you until you were nothing but the 
man who once held me in his arms, his whole body 
quivering, and demanding with all his nature to possess 
me." 

As the woman spoke, her voice had risen, and a half- 
insane enthusiasm was gleaming on her face, while her 
fingers reached restlessly after the minister who, as un- 
consciously as she advanced, receded until he stood cor- 
nered against the door. 

" Now," she continued, in her frenzied exaltation of 
mood, " it is done ! You see how easily it was accom- 
plished. Nothing should be so disillusioning, so re- 
awakening to you as to observe how light is your hold 
upon this community, how selfish and insincere was all 
this public adulation. I, a stranger almost, of whom 
these people knew nothing, was able, with a ridiculously 
impossible charge, to brush you from your eminence like 
a fly. 

" Of what worth has it all been? Of what worth all 
that you can do for people like these ? Your very church 
is turning against you. It will cast you out." 

A shade had crossed the brow of Hampstead. 

"You think that?" he asked defiantly. 

" I know it," Marien replied aggressively. " That 
square-headed old Elder came to see me this afternoon. 
Shaking his hand was like taking hold of a toad. Ugh ! 
He wanted to pry into your past through me, the old 
reprobate ! " 

" Hush ! I will not hear him defamed. He is an hon- 
orable and a well-meaning man, against whose character 
not one word can be breathed." 

Marien's eyes flashed. Impatient and regardless of 
interruption, she continued as though Hampstead had 
not spoken. 

" And he, the father of the man you are suffering to 



448 HELD TO ANSWER 

shield, is to be the first to take advantage of your mis- 
fortune. The old Pharisee! I nearly told him who the 
real thief was." 

" Miss Dounay ! " 

The minister's exclamation was short and sharp, like a 
bark of rage. His face was drawn until his mouth was 
a seam, and his eyes had shrunk to two shafts of light. 
"Miss Dounay! That is God's secret. If you had 
spoken, I should have " He ceased to speak but held 
up hands that clenched and unclenched. 

The actress was feeling confident now. She had 
goaded this man to rage. Beyond rage might lie weak- 
ness and surrender. She threw back her head and 
laughed. 

" Yes, I will finish it for you. You would have been 
inclined to strangle me; but I did not tell him. Yet not 
for your reason, but for mine. So long as you rest under 
the charge, your enemies gnash; your friends turn from 
you. Instead of being insulated from me by all, you are 
insulated from all by me. There is no one left but me. 
I love you. I am beautiful, rich, with the glamour of suc- 
cess upon me. I can override anything; defy anything. 
I can be yours altogether yours. You can be mine 
altogether mine. You can leave these shallow, ungrate- 
ful gossips and scandalmongers to prey upon each other, 
while you and I go away to an Eden of our own." 

The actress paused, breathless and again to mark ef- 
fects. The minister's face had resumed its normal be- 
nignity of expression. He was gazing at her thought- 
fully, contemplatively. Marien took fresh hope, know- 
ing upon second thought now, as she had known all 
along, that she could not successfully tempt this man by 
a life of mere luxurious emptiness. Falling into tones 
of yet more confiding intimacy, she continued: 

" Besides, John, I am not jealous of your genius any; 



THE TERMS OF SURRENDER 449 

more. My love has surged even over that. You have 
still a great dramatic career before you. You shall come 
into my company. You shall have every opportunity. 
^Within two years you shall be my leading man; within 
five, co-star with me. Think of it. Your heart is still 
in the actor's art. Acting is religion. After God, the 
actor is the greatest creator. He alone can simulate 
life. The stage is the most powerful pulpit. Come. 
We will write your life's story into a play. We will play 
the faith and fortitude which you have shown into the 
very soul of America, like a bed of moral concrete! 
Are you not moved at that?" 

She paused, standing with head upon one side, and the 
old, alluring, coaxing glances stealing up from beneath 
the coquettish droop of her lids. 

" No," Hampstead replied seriously. " I am not 
moved by it at all. Had you made this speech to me five 
years ago, I should have been in transports. To-day the 
art of living appeals to me beyond the art of acting. I 
have no doubt I feel as great a zest, as great a creative 
thrill in standing true in the position in which you have 
placed me as you ever can in the most ecstatic raptures 
of the mimetic art. No, Marien," and his tone was 
conclusive, " it makes no appeal to me." 

The beautiful creature, perplexity and disappointment 
mingling on her face, stood for a moment nonplussed. 
The expression of alert and confident resourcefulness 
had departed. Her intelligence had failed her. Yet 
once more the old smile mounted bravely. 

" But there still remains one thing," she breathed 
softly, leaning toward him. " That is I. Everything 
you have got is gone, or going. I have taken it away 
from you that I might give you instead myself. You 
had no room for me last week. You have nothing else 
but me now. It hurt me to give you pain. I hate Searle. 



450 HELD TO ANSWER 

I could have torn his tongue out yesterday. But you will 
forgive me, John. I did it for love." 

Her utterance was indescribably pathetic indescrib- 
ably appealing. 

" I am not to blame that I love you. You are to blame. 
No, the God that constituted us is to blame." 

Her tones grew lower and lower. The spirit of hum- 
bled pride, of chastened submission, of helpless want en- 
tered more and more into the expression of her face and 
the timbre of her soft voice, while the very outlines of 
her figure seemed to melt and quiver with the intensity 
of yearning. 

" It has been hard to humble myself in this way to 
you," she confessed. " I tried to win you as once I 
won you, as women like to win their lovers. But I am 
not quite as other women. I have to have you! My 
nature is imperious. It will shatter itself or have its 
will. I shattered your love to gain my ambition's goal. 
And now I have shattered your career to gain your love 
again." 

Hampstead, though his consideration was growing for 
the woman, could not resist a shaft of irony. 

" That was a sacrifice you took the liberty of making 
for me," he suggested. 

" But, don't you see, it made me possible for you 
again," and the actress smiled with that obtuseness which 
was pitiful because it would not see defeat. She drew 
closer to him now, well within reach of his arm, and stood 
perfectly still, her hands clasped, her bosom heaving 
gently, a thing of rounded curves and wistful eyes, the 
figure of passionate, submissive, appealing love, hoping 
desiring waiting to be taken. 

Yet the minister did not take her. 

But whatever agonies of lingering suspense, of dying 
hope, and rising despair may have passed through the in- 



THE TERMS OF SURRENDER 451 

domitable woman as she stood in this pose of vain and 
helpless waiting, there was yet a spirit in her that would 
not surrender because it could not. 

With eyes mournfully searching the depths of the face 
before her, she began her last appeal. 

" And yet, John, there is a sacrifice that I am willing 
to make that is all my own and none of yours. I will 
renounce my own ambition, abandon the stage, cancel 
my engagements, give up that for which I have bartered 
everything a woman has to give but one thing. I have 
kept that one thing for you alone. The name of Marien 
Dounay shall disappear. I will be Alice Higgins again. 
I will be not an artist but a wife. I will be the associate 
of your work. You must go from here, of course. I 
have made your remaining impossible. But we will find 
some place where men and women need the kind of thing 
that you can do. It is a great need. There is a sort of 
glory in your work which I have not been too blind to 
see. My bridal flowers shall be the weeds of humble 
service. I will employ my art to bring cheer into homes 
of poverty, freshness and brightness to the sick. I will 
try to be God's replica of all that you yourself are. I say 
I will try!" 

She had raised her face now and was searching his 
eyes again. 

" I will do all of this, eagerly, joyously, fanatically, 
John Hampstead, if it will make it possible for you to 
love me as once you loved me," she concluded, with 
the last words barely audible and sounding more like 
heart throbs than human speech. 

Hampstead, looking levelly into her face, saw that the 
woman spoke the truth, that she was absolutely sincere. 

She saw that he saw it, and with a gesture of mute 
appeal threw out her hands to him. But they gathered 
only air and fell limply to her side. 



452 HELD TO ANSWER 

The minister, although his manner expressed a world 
of sympathy, shook his head sadly. Marien's face grew 
white, and the red of her lips almost disappeared. A 
look of blank terror came into her eyes, while one hand, 
with fingers half-closed, stole upward to the blanched 
cheek, and the other was pressed convulsively against 
her breast. 

" I have my answer John! " she whispered hoarsely, 
after an interval. " I have my answer ! " 

" Yes, Marien," he replied, sorrowfully but decisively, 
"you have your answer." 

Her eyes, always eloquent, and now with a look of 
terrible hurt in them, suffused quickly, and it seemed 
that she would burst into tears and fling herself weakly 
upon the man she loved so hopelessly. Instead, how- 
ever, only a shiny drop or two coursed down the cheeks 
which continued as white as marble; and she held her- 
self resolutely aloof, but balancing uncertainly until all 
at once her rounded figure seemed to wilt and she would 
have fallen, had not the minister thrown an arm about 
the tottering form and with gentle brotherliness of man- 
ner helped her to a seat in the Morris chair. 

For a considerable time she sat with her face in her 
hands, silent but for an occasional dry, eruptive sob. 

Hampstead, standing back with arms folded and one 
hand making a rest for his chin, looked on helplessly, 
realizing that for the first time he was studying this com- 
plex personality with something like real comprehension. 

While he gazed a purpose appeared to stir again in the 
disconsolate figure. The dry sobs ceased, and the body 
straightened till her head found its rest upon the back 
of the chair ; but there the woman relaxed again in seem- 
ing total exhaustion with eyes closed and lips slightly 
parted. Hampstead drew a little closer, as if in tribute 
to this determined nature which now obviously fought 



THE TERMS OF SURRENDER 453 

with its grief as it had fought to gain the object of its 
attachment indomitably. He had again the feeling 
which had come to him before, that she was greater, was 
worthier than he. 

" How I have made you suffer ! " Marien exclaimed 
abruptly, at the same time opening her eyes. 

" Yes," the minister confessed frankly, while the lines 
of pain seemed to chisel themselves deeper upon his face 
with the admission, " you have indeed made me suffer." 

"Can you ever, ever forgive me?" she asked, lifting 
her hand appealingly. 

It was a small hand and lily white, with slim and taper- 
ing fingers. The minister took it in his and found it as 
soft as before, but chilled. 

" Yes," he said, gravely and calculatingly, " I do for- 
give you. The ruin has been almost complete ; but I am 
strong enough to build again ! " 

" Oh," she exclaimed eagerly, starting up, " do you 
think you can? " 

" Yes," he assured her stoutly, " I know it." He was 
beginning to feel sorrier for her than for himself. 
" You, too," he suggested gently, " must begin to build 
again." 

Again her features whitened, and she fell back, press- 
ing her brow with a gesture of pain and bewilderment, a 
suggestion of one who wakes to find one's self in chaos. 
It seemed a very long time that she was silent, but with 
lines of thought upon her brow and the signs of strength- 
ening purpose gradually again appearing about her mouth 
and chin. When she spoke it was to say with determina- 
tion: 

:< Yes ; and I, too, am strong enough to build again. 
In these silent minutes I have been thinking worlds and 
worlds of things. I have lost everything yet every- 
thing remains and more. My art shall be my hus- 



454 HELD TO ANSWER 

band; and I will be a greater actress than ever. I shall 
play with a greater power, inspired and informed by the 
love which I have lost. I was never tender enough be- 
fore. The critics charged me with hardness; I hated 
them for it. I could not understand them. Now I 
know. I could never play but half a woman's heart. I 
was too selfish, too proud, too imperious. I regarded 
love too lightly. That mistake will be impossible now. 
I know that love is all and all. There is no ecstasy of 
love's delight of which my imagination cannot conceive; 
there is no despair which the loss of love may produce 
that my experience will not have fathomed before this 
poignant ache in my heart is done." 

At first John recoiled a little at this talk of a utili- 
tarian extraction from her bitter experience and his; yet 
he reflected that it was like the woman. It was but the 
outcrop of the dominant passion. Since girlhood she 
had seen herself solely in terms of relation to her art; 
therefore this attitude now indicated, not a lack of fine- 
ness, but her almost noble capacity for converting every- 
thing to the ultimate object of the artist. Without such 
capacity for abandon, there was, he reflected, no supreme 
artist; and, he reasoned further, no supreme minister 
or man, even. To this extent and in this moment, 
Marien's bearing in defeat was a lesson and a spur to 
him. 

" I shall go widowed to my work," she went on to 
say, " but it will be a greater work than I could have done 
before. Then I had an ambition. Now I have a mis- 
sion ! To show women and men too the worth and 
weight and height and depth and paramount value of 
love." 

Hampstead was again deeply impressed with her enor- 
mous resiliency of spirit. The woman's heart had been 
torn to pieces ; yet while each nerve and fiber of it was a 



THE TERMS OF SURRENDER 455 

pulse of pain, she was purposing to bind the thing to- 
gether and let its every throb be a word of warning to 
womankind. 

" I learned it from you," she explained, almost as if 
she had read his thoughts. " I understand now the ex- 
alted mood in which you spoke a few minutes ago. I am 
sorry that I have lost you ; but I am not sorry that I have 
hurled you down, since it leaves revealed a nobler figure 
of a man than I had thought existed." 

Hampstead shuddered, in part at his own pain, in part 
at the ease with which she uttered the sentiment, because 
this woman could really never know how much his fall 
had cost him. 

" Each of us in life I fear must be held to answer for 
his own obtuseness," he suggested. 

" But that is not all we are held to answer for," Miss 
Dounay replied with sudden perception. " We must pay 
the penalty of the obtuseness of others." 

" Ah ! " exclaimed the minister quickly. " There you 
stumbled upon one of the greatest truths in religion, 
the law of vicarious suffering. We are each compelled, 
whether we will or not, to suffer for the sins of others. 
If we, you or I, mere humanity that we are, can so man- 
age such suffering that it becomes a redemptive influence 
over the life of the one who caused it, we have done in a 
small and distant way the thing which the Son of Man 
did so perfectly for all the world." 

" I see," she exclaimed eagerly, pressing her hands to- 
gether in a sort of rapture. " It is that which you have 
done for me. You have suffered for my sin, and you 
have so managed the suffering that you have taken away 
some of my selfishness and will send me out of here, as 
I said before, not with an ambition, but with a mis- 
sion." 

She had risen, and though her manner was still sub- 



456 HELD TO ANSWER 

dued, it was again the manner of self-possession. Yet 
the new mood into which she had passed, and the new 
light of spiritual enthusiasm which had come upon her 
face, in no wise wiped out the impression that in the hour 
past she had tasted the bitterest disappointment that a 
woman can know, had plunged to the very depths of 
(despair, and was still under its somber cloud. Indeed it 
was the fierceness of the conflagration within her which 
had burned out so swiftly at least a part of that dross of 
selfishness of which she had spoken, and clarified her 
vision, so that their two minds had leaped quickly from 
one peak of thought to another, to come suddenly on em- 
barrassed silence just because all words, all deeds even, 
seemed suddenly futile to express what each had felt and 
was now feeling. 

As the conversation lapsed momentarily, both appeared 
to find relief in trivial interests. The minister straight- 
ened the books in the rack upon his desk, then looked at 
his watch and noted that it was fifteen minutes to seven 
and reflected that seven was his dinner hour. 

The actress gave her hair a few touches with her hands, 
and stood adjusting her hat before the mirror above the 
mantel. But the veil was still raised. Hampstead 
watched these operations silently, moved by evidences of 
the change in the woman. 

" You have forgiven me," she began again, noticing 
in the mirror that his eye was upon her ; " but I do not 
iforgive myself. My first mission is to repair the damage 
which I have done to you. I will go immediately to 
Searle and tell him the truth." 

Hampstead's mouth fell open, and a single step car- 
ried him half way across the room. 

"But you must not tell Searle nor any one else the 
truth ! " he affirmed vehemently. 

It was Marien's turn to be surprised. 



THE TERMS OF SURRENDER 457 

" You mean that I am not to undo the wrong that I 
have done you? " she asked in amazement. 

" Not that way," he answered, with deliberate shak- 
ings of the head. 

" You mean that you are to stand under the stigma 
which now rests upon you ? " she insisted, with a gleam 
of the old imperious manner. " Certainly not! I have 
done wrong enough ! It cannot be undone too quickly. 
I shall tell the truth to Searle. I shall gather the re- 
porters about me and spare myself nothing. I will re- 
veal the whole horrible plot; I will confess that Searle 
was duped, and that you were grossly conspired against 
by me!" 

Again Hampstead, meeting that level glance, knew 
that the woman spoke in absolute sincerity. She was en- 
tirely capable of doing it. Once a course commended 
itself to her judgment, she had already shown that she 
would spare nothing to follow it. 

" But you forget young Burbeck," he exclaimed. 
" Your exposure would mean his exposure." 

".Well?" 

Marien's eyes and tone both expressed her meaning, 
though she added incisively : " He is no reason why you 
should linger under this cloud." 

Hampstead gazed at the woman doubtfully, speculat- 
ing as to what argument would make the strongest appeal 
to her. 

" His mother," he began gravely, " is my dearest 
friend. She is the most saintly woman I have ever 
known. One year of her life to this community is worth 
more than a score of years of mine than all of mine. 
Let her know in private that her son is the thief, and she 
would grieve to death in a week. Let her know sud- 
denly, with the force of public exposure, and it would 
kill her instantly, like an electric shock." 



458 HELD TO ANSWER 

But this note proved the wrong one. Marien instantly 
took higher ground. 

" I know that woman," she replied. " I have sensed 
her spirit. You do her injustice. If she knew the facts, 
she would speak, though it killed her and ruined her son, 
rather than see you endure for a single day what you are 
suffering now." 

Hampstead knew better than the speaker how true this 
was. 

" But there is another reason, a higher reason," he 
began slowly, with a grave significance that caught 
Marien's attention instantly, "the soul of Rollie Bur- 
beck!" 

The minister had breathed rather than spoken these 
last words. They had in them a sense of the awe he felt 
at what hung upon his actions now. 

For an instant, the keen eyes of the woman searched 
the depths of Hampstead's own, as if she was making 
sure that what she heard and understood with this new 
and spiritual intuition which had come so swiftly out of 
her experience, was confirmed by what she saw. 

"You mean," she asked, only half credulous, "that 
you will suffer for his sake as you have suffered for mine, 
until new character begins to grow in him just as a new 
objective begins to stir in me? You mean that? " 

Hampstead nodded. " That is my hope," he said 
solemnly. 

" Oh ! " Marien sighed, with a prolonged aspirate note 
which expressed reverence, awe, and astonishment. 
" But the charges ? They will be pressed. You will be 
held convicted imprisoned ! " 

" I cannot think it," argued John soberly. " A way 
will appear to avoid that. Yet we must contemplate the 
worst. One thing is sure," and his voice appeared to 
increase in volume without an increase of tone, " one 



THE TERMS OF SURRENDER 459 

thing is sure : In the position in which you have placed 
me I must remain until the thing for which I am stand- 
ing has been accomplished however long that takes 
and if the wrong you have done to me confers any obliga- 
tion upon you, it is to keep your lips sealed till I give 
you leave to open them." 

Miss Dounay, more humbled by this steadfast mag- 
nanimity of soul which could refuse vindication when it 
was offered than awed by the sudden force of self- 
assertion which Hampstead manifested, looked her sub- 
mission. 

" Man ! " she exclaimed impulsively, seizing both his 
hands for an instant. " I revere you. You are not the 
flesh I thought. You have altered greatly. Yours was 
not a pose. It is genuine. I am reconciled a little to 
my loss. You are not mine because I was not worthy 
to be yours ! " 

Hampstead made a deprecating, repressive gesture. 

" Let me finish," she protested. " I am even less hu- 
miliated. The thing required to charm you was a thing 
I did not possess ! " 

" Beauty is a great possession," Hampstead smiled. 
" I have been and am sensible to it. I was sensible to 
your beauty to the last. The woman I love is beautiful." 

' The woman you love ! " Marien's whole manner 
changed. Her face took on the tigerish look. " There 
is some one else then? At least," she added reproach- 
fully, " you might have spared me this." 

" It was necessary," the minister replied quietly, " if 
we were really to understand each other," 

The gravity of the man's tone, as well as some subtle 
recovery within herself, checked the tigerish impulse. 
Swiftly it gave way to pain and humility again. 

1 You you are to marry? " she faltered weakly. , 

" No," he replied, with ineffable sadness. " This " 



460 HELD TO ANSWER 

and again that comprehensive gesture which he had used 
so frequently to indicate the catastrophe which had come 
upon him, " this has dashed that hope entirely ! " 

The actress stood completely confounded. Within 
herself she wondered why she did not fly into a jealous 
passion. Surely she was changing; she felt half bewil- 
dered, half distrustful of her own moods in which she 
had believed so surely before. She was also completely 
staggered by this crowning revelation of the capacity of 
the man for sacrifice. Instead of the jealous passion, she 
felt a sisterly kind of sympathy; but it was only after a 
very considerable interval that Marien trusted herself to 
ask with trembling voice : 

" She is very very beautiful this this woman 
whom you love ? " 

The question was put very softly, meditatively almost. 

" To me, yes," replied the minister with emphasis. " I 
think you would say so too." 

" You were engaged ? " 

" Not when I met you first ; but there had been a bond 
of very close sympathy between us. After you were 
gone, I felt that I had never really loved you; and my 
heart fastened itself on her. I loved her and told her 
so. But I felt it my duty to tell her the truth about you. 
Manlike, I thought she would comprehend. Woman- 
like, she comprehended more than I thought. She be- 
lieved me weak and uncertain. She loved me still, but 
with a pain of disappointment in her heart. She put my 
love upon a kind of probation. The probation has lasted 
five years. It was almost finished. After what the 
papers have published in the past few days, you can im- 
agine that now all is over." 

" But you will write to her ? You will see her ? You 
will explain? " Marien questioned in self-forgetful eager- 
ness. 



" THE TERMS OF SURRENDER 461 

"Explain," he smiled sadly. "What a futility! 
What explanation could there be after what I had told 
her? You know a woman's heart. More firmly than 
any other, she would be forced to an implicit belief in 
what the newspapers have falsely intimated concerning 
our relations in the past few weeks." 

" But I will go to her myself ! " Marien exclaimed im- 
petuously. " I will tell her the truth." 

" Do you think she would believe you ? " he asked 
frankly. " Could you expect any woman to believe in 
your sincerity under such circumstances, upon such a 
mission? You would not be able to believe it your- 
self." 

" You are right ! " Marien admitted after a moment 
of thought. " Once away from the restraining influence 
of your character, my true nature would reveal itself. 
I should hate her ! I do hate her ! No, I could not go ! " 

" And so, you see," John did not finish the sentence 
but had recourse to a helpless smile and a pathetic shrug 
of the shoulders. 

Marien lowered her veil. The interview was running 
on and on. It must come to an end. 

" It all becomes uncanny," she exclaimed. " There is 
too much converging upon your heart. There must 
come a rift in the clouds. I have submitted to your com- 
pelling altruism but only for the present. If something 
does not happen within a reasonable limit of time, I shall 
positively and dangerously explode ! " 

John smiled at the vehemence with which she spoke. 

" But in the meantime silence ! " he adjured im- 
pressively. 

' Yes," she assented reluctantly. " But at the same 
time I shall not know one gleam of happiness, one mo- 
ment's freedom from mental anguish until your vindica- 
tion is flung widely to the world." 



462 HELD TO ANSWER 

r< But in the meantime, silence ! " reiterated John ob- 
stinately. 

" And in the meantime," she consented more resign- 
edly, " silence ! " \ 

" Good night, Marien," said the minister, putting out 
his hand. 

" Good night, Doctor Hampstead," she replied, seizing 
that hand impulsively, then flinging it from her again as 
she turned, without another glance, to the door. It 
closed behind her softly, considerately almost, but with 
that same decisive snap of the lock which had shut her 
in three quarters of an hour before. 

Hampstead stood a moment in reflection. She had 
come and she had gone, leaving behind a great sense of 
relief, of complexities unraveled, of good accomplished 
and of further danger averted. Of one thing he felt 
sure now; he would never go to prison. A way would 
be found to avoid that. Her vindictive malice had spent 
itself and been turned to an attempt at co-operation. 

But he was still under clouds : one the verdict of Judge 
Brennan, " Held to Answer " ; the other less black, but 
larger and murkier, the cloud of public condemnation; 
and for the present he must remain under both. Besides 
which, there was his church and Elder Burbeck to con- 
sider. 

And to-morrow was Sunday! 



CHAPTER XXXVIII 

SUNDAY IN ALL PEOPLE'S 

ELDER BURBECK did not make good his threat. 
Hampstead stood again in the pulpit of All People's on 
Sunday, as his heart had so passionately desired. 

But the reality disappointed. The contrast between 
this day and last Lord's day was pitiful. To be sure, the 
church was packed ; but not to worship. The people 
curious and wooden-hearted had come to be witnesses 
to a spectacle, to see a man go through the business of a 
role which his character no longer fitted him to enact. 
The service and the sermon were one long agony. John 
spoke upon the duty of being true. His words came back 
upon him like an echo. 

As for Elder Burbeck, he had only halted. The minis- 
ter, from considerations of delicacy which were promptly 
misconstrued, having remained away from the called 
meeting of the Official Board on Saturday night, all 
things in that session had gone to Burbeck's satisfaction. 
He held in his pocket the resolution of the Board, recom- 
mending that, the congregation request the resignation 
of the pastor of All People's. He might have introduced 
this at the close of the sermon, thus turning the ordinary 
congregational meeting into a business session; but the 
Elder was an expert tactician. He decided to devote the 
entire day to a final estimate of just what inroads the 
week had made upon the ascendancy of the minister with 
his people. 

However, the manner in which the sermon was re- 



464- HELD TO ANSWER 

ceived encouraged him to go forward immediately with 
his plans. As the congregation was upon the last verse 
of the last hymn, the Elder ascended to the pulpit beside 
the minister. He did not look at the minister. He did 
not whisper that he had an announcement to make, and 
Hampstead did not say at the end of the hymn : " Elder 
Burbeck has an announcement to make." This was the 
usual form. But it was not followed. Instead, Burbeck, 
unannounced, with coarse self-assertion, made the an- 
nouncement : 

" There will be a business meeting of the church on 
Monday night to consider matters of grave import to the 
congregation. Every member is urged to be present." 

There was a grave doubt if the Elder had a right of 
himself to call a meeting of the church. Yet the only 
man with force enough to voice that doubt was the minis- 
ter, and he did not voice it. Instead, he stood quietly 
until the announcement was concluded and then invoked 
the benediction of God upon all the service, which, of 
course, included the announcement. 

When at the close of the service Doctor Hampstead 
undertook to mingle among his people, according to cus- 
tom, he found a minority hysterically hearty in their as- 
surances of confidence, sympathy, and support; but the 
majority avoided him. Instead of enduring this and 
withering under it, the minister was roused into some- 
thing like aggression. By confronting and accosting 
them, he forced aloof individuals to address him. He 
made his way into groups that did not open readily to 
receive him. In all conversations he frankly recognized 
his position, made it the uppermost topic, and solicited 
opinion and advice. He even eavesdropped a little. 
Once people opened their mouths upon the subject, he 
was astonished at their frankness. When the sum total 
of the impressions thus gathered was organized and de- 



SUNDAY IN ALL PEOPLE'S 465 

ductions made, he was stunned almost to cynicism by 
their results. Of course, no one indicated that they be- 
lieved him guilty of theft, and in the main all accepted 
his defense as the true defense. But they found him 
guilty of folly a folly with a woman. Whether it was 
merely a folly and not a sin, it appeared was not to 
greatly alter penalties. 

Yet justice must be done these people. They felt sorry 
for their minister and showed it; and they only shrank 
from him to avoid showing something else that would 
hurt him. They still acknowledged their debts of per- 
sonal gratitude to him, but now they experienced a feel- 
ing of superiority. Their weaknesses had overtaken 
them in private; his had caught up with him under the 
spotlight's glare. They looked upon him with commis- 
eration, pityingly, but from a lofty height. Besides 
which, they accused him of an overt offense. He had 
brought shame on All People's. He had preached to 
them this morning upon the duty of being true; but he 
had himself not been true to the proud self-interest of 
All People's. 

This indignant concern for the reputation of All 
People's was rather a surprising revelation to Hamp- 
stead. He had fallen into the way of thinking that he 
had made All People's; that he and All People's were 
one. That the congregation could have any purpose that 
did not include his purpose was not thinkable. He had 
never conceived of it as a social organism, with self- 
consciousness, with pride, \vith a head to be held up and 
a reputation to be sustained. To him All People's was 
not a society of persons with a pose. It was an associa- 
tion of individuals, each more or less weak, more or less 
dependent in their spiritual nature upon each other and 
upon him; the whole banded together to help each other 
and to help others like themselves. He had thought of 



466 HELD TO ANSWER 

himself as the instrument of All People's in its work of 
human salvage. But he now discovered that in these 
four years All People's had suffered from an over exten- 
sion of the ego. It had been spoiled by prosperity and 
public approbation, just as other congregations, or in- 
dividuals, might be or have been. The admiration of 
the members for him as their pastor, their humble obedi- 
ence to his will, was in part due, not to his spiritual 
ascendancy, not to his conspicuously successful labors as 
a helper of humankind in so many different ways, but 
to the fact that these activities of the minister won him 
that public admiration and approval which shed a glamour 
also upon the congregation and upon the individual mem- 
bers of the congregation. Because of this, they wor- 
shipped him, honored him, and palavered over him to a 
point where Hampstead, no doubt as unconsciously as 
the congregation and as dangerously, had suffered an 
over-extension of his own ego. 

But deflation of spirit had come to him swiftly. Now 
his own pride and his own self-sufficiency had all been 
shot away. If any remained, the effect of this Sunday 
morning service was quite sufficient to perform the final 
operation of removal. 

He was to preach that night from the text : "If God 
is for us, who is against us." He gave up the idea. It 
sounded egotistical. He preached instead his farewell 
sermon, though without a word of farewell in it, from 
the text: 

" Brethren, even if a man be overtaken in any trespass, 
ye who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of 
gentleness ; looking to thyself lest thou also be tempted.'* 

That was what the pastor of All People's was trying 
to do, to restore a man. In preaching this sermon, he 
forgot that this was his valedictory, forgot himself, for- 
got everything but the great mission of spiritual recon- 



SUNDAY IN ALL PEOPLE'S 467 

struction upon which he had labored and proposed to 
labor as long as life was in him, no matter what yokes 
and scars were put upon him. In it he reached the ora- 
torical height of his career, which was not necessarily 
lofty. 

But people listened and with understanding. Some 
of them cried a little. It made them reminiscent. The 
man himself, now slipping, had once restored them with 
great gentleness. All said, " What a pity ! " 

But Hampstead, while he spoke, was steeling himself 
against the probable desertion of his congregation. He 
had a feeling that he could win them back if he tried hard 
enough, but he began to doubt that they were worth win- 
ning back. He had really never sought to win them to 
himself personally; he would not begin now. 

Instead, he saw himself cast out. The verdict of the 
church on Monday night would also be " Held to 
Answer." 

He saw it coming almost gloatingly, and with a fierce 
up-flaming of that fanatic ardor which was always in 
him. The desire came to him to seize upon the position 
in which he stood as a pulpit from which to deliver a 
message to the world that greatly needed to be delivered, 
to say something that his fate and his life thereafter 
might illustrate, and thus make his public shame a greater 
witness to the truth than ever his popularity had been. 
In one of the loftiest of his moods of exaltation, he strode 
homeward from the church. 

At ten o'clock, he telephoned the morning papers that 
at midnight he would have a statement to give out. 
It contained some rather extravagant expressions, was 
couched throughout in an exalted strain, and ran as fol- 
lows: 



468 HELD TO ANSWER 

AN ADDRESS TO THE PEOPLE 

" They tell me that I have stood for the last time in the 
pulpit of All People's; that on Monday night I shall be 
unfrocked by the hands that ordained me; for my minis- 
terial standing was created by this church which now 
proposes to take it away. This act, more than a court 
conviction, will seem my ruin. I write to say I cannot 
call that ruin to which a man goes willingly. 

" It is not my soul that hangs in the balance, but an- 
other's. While this man struggles, I declare again that 
I will not break in upon him. I can reach out and touch 
him; but I will not. He will read this. I say to him: 
' Brother, wait ! Do not hurry. I can hold your load a 
while until you get the grapple on your spirit/ 

" But for saying this, I am cast out. 

" Men observe to me : * What a pity ! ' I say to you : 
' No pity at all ! ' 

" Is a minister who would not thus suffer worthy to be 
a minister? The conception can be broadened. Is any 
man? Is an editor worthy to be an editor, a merchant, 
a teacher, a lawyer, a doctor, standing as each must at 
sometime where the issue is sharply drawn between loy- 
alty and disloyalty to truth or trust, is any of them 
truly worthy or truly true, who would not willingly suf- 
fer all that is demanded of me? 

" It does not require a great man to be true to the clasp 
of his hand : nor a minister. I know policemen and mo- 
tormen who are that. To be that, upon the human side, 
has been almost the sum of my religious practice not 
my profession, but my practice. By that habit I have 
gained what I have gained and lost what I have lost. 
Humbled to the dust, I dare yet to make one boast: I 
have not failed in these small human loyalties, except as 
my capacities have failed. 



SUNDAY IN ALL PEOPLE'S 469 

" This last act of mine, which will be regarded as the 
consummation of failure, is the greatest opportunity to 
be true that I have ever had. 

" To go forth on foot before this community, held to 
answer for my convictions, fills me with a sense of aban- 
don to immolation upon high altars that is almost intoxi- 
cating. 

" I can almost wish it might never be known whether 
I spoke the truth or not about the Dounay diamonds; 
that in my death, unvindicated, I might lie yonder on the 
hills of Piedmont ; that on a simple slab just large enough 
to bear it, might be written no name but only this : 

"'He believed something hard enough to live for it' 

" I wish even that you might crucify me, take me out 
on Broadway here and nail me to a trolley pole. But 
you will not do this. I am not so worthy. You are not 
so brave. Those men had the courage of their convic- 
tions who nailed up the Galilean and hurled down with 
stones the first martyr. You have not. Courage to- 
day survives; but it is reserved for ignoble struggles. 
Men are more ready to die for their appetites than to 
live for their convictions. Men fear to be uncomfortable, 
to be sneered at, to be defeated. Paugh! Defeat is not 
a thing to fear. To be untrue is the blackest terror ! To 
become involved for the sake of one's convictions should 
not be regarded as calamity. Yet it is, in. these soft 
days. 

' The hope that the fall, even of one so humble and 
unimportant as I, may be some slight protest against this 
spirit of weakness, takes out the sting and gives me a 
delirious kind of joy. 

" I would like to have been a great preacher. I am 
not. I would I had a tongue of eloquence to fire men 
to this passion of mine. I have not. That is the pity! 
I was proud and jealous of my position. I have lost it. 



470 HELD TO ANSWER 

" Yet I do not doubt that I shall find a field of useful- 
ness. Deep as you hurl me down, I do not doubt but that 
there are some to whom even if condemned, spurned, un- 
frocked oh, the eternal silliness of that! as if any de- 
crees of men could affect the standing or potentiality of 
a soul I can come as a welcome messenger of helpful- 
ness. To them I shall go! They may be found here. 
If so, I shall remain here go in and out pointed at 
as the man who failed. 

" Perhaps I can even make failure popular. It ought 
to be. There is a great need of failures just now, for 
men who will fail for their true success's sake. 

" The world needs a new standard of appraisal. It 
honors the man whose success bulks to the eye. It needs 
to be a little more discriminating; to find out why some 
men failed, and to honor them because they are failures. 
Some of the greatest men in America and in history were 
failures. Socrates with his cup was a failure. Jesus 
was a failure. It was written on his back in lines of blis- 
tering welts. It was nailed into his palms, stabbed into 
his brow, hissed into his ear as he died. 

" Re-reading at this midnight hour what I have written, 
I perceive that it sounds slightly frenzied. But my soul 
just now is slightly frenzied. If I wrote calmly, un- 
egoistically, it would be a lie. What is written is what I 
feel. 

" Here and there some will approve this document. 
More will sneer at it. But it is mine. It is I. I sign it. 
It is my last will and testament in this community where 
once daring to boast again I have been a power. 

" Friends and enemies alike ! this final word. 

" I have not grasped much, but this : To be true. 
When somebody trusts you worthily, make good. Be 
true, children, to the plans and to the hopes of parents. 
Be true, lad, to the impetuous girl who has trusted you 



SUNDAY IN ALL PEOPLE'S 471 

with more than she should have trusted you. Be true, 
women, to your lovers and your husbands; men to your 
wives, your partners, your fellow men, your patrons; to 
your talents, your opportunities, your country, your age, 
your world ! Be true to God ! If you have no God, be 
true to your highest conception of what God ought to be. 

" It sounds like a homily. It is a principle. You can 
multiply it indefinitely. It runs like a scarlet thread 
through religion, and it will go all around the borders of 
life. 

" Eternal Loyalty is the Price of true Success. 

" To this conviction I subscribe my name, myself and 
everything that still remains to me. 

" JOHN HAMPSTEAD, 

" Pastor of All People's Church." 

John felt that he wrote this and that he signed it in 
the presence of the Presence. The address and not the 
sermon was his valedictory. 



CHAPTER XXXIX 



WHILE the Monday morning papers played up the 
" Address to the People ", in the evening John noticed that 
his name had slipped off the front page. This was at once 
a relief and a bitterness. It told him that he was done 
for; that, as a matter of news, he was only a corpse wait- 
ing for the funeral pyre. That pyre was a matter to 
which Elder Burbeck was attending, assisted by a com- 
mittee of fellow zealots male and female who were 
industriously conducting a house-to-house canvass of the 
entire membership of All People's during the hours be- 
tween Sunday at one and Monday night at eight. De- 
spite the lofty mood of self-sacrifice into which the man 
had worked himself, the knowledge of all this busy bell- 
ringing and its sinister purpose operated irritatingly on 
the skin of Hampstead. It made his flesh creep with an- 
noyance that grew toward anger. 

But in the midst of these creepings, a significant thing 
happened. The Reverend William Dudley Rohan, pastor 
of the largest, the richest, and by material standards the 
most influential protestant congregation in the city, came 
in person to call on Hampstead, to shake him by the hand 
and say : " Your address had an apostolic ring to it. I 
believe in you sincerely." 

In John's mail that afternoon there came from Father 
Ansley, an influential priest of the Roman Catholic com- 
munion, a letter to similar effect. 

Moreover, as the activity of Elder Burbeck developed, 



THE CUP TOO FULL 473 

John began to hear more and more from members of his 
own congregation who either refused to believe the 
charges against him, or, if not so ready to acquit, none 
the less refused to desert him now. 

All of these things seemed definitely to testify that a 
wave of reaction was upon its way. They almost gave the 
man hope. Yet by the end of an hour of calculation, 
John saw that after all it was a small wave. All Peo- 
ple's church had more than eleven hundred members. He 
had not heard from one fifth of them. Those who had 
communicated or come to press his hand were very fre- 
quently the weak, obscure, and least influential. They 
were the " riff-raff ", as Burbeck would have called them, 
of the congregation. The pastor did not disesteem their 
support on this account. Instead he valued it a little 
more; yet gave himself no illusions as to its value in a 
battle-line. 

At the same time his friends urged him to organize 
against the assaults of Elder Burbeck; to send out bell- 
ringing committees upon his own account. Yet he would 
not do this. He would not make himself an issue. But 
the minister's negatives were not so stout as they had been. 
It was one thing to write in a frenzy at midnight how 
bravely he would endure his fate. It was another to wait 
the creeping hours in passive fortitude until the blow 
should fall. 

By noon he confessed to himself that he was feeling 
rather broken. For a week he had eaten little, and that 
little nervously, absently, and without enjoyment. His 
sleep had been restless and unre freshing. Strong, vigo- 
rous as he was, reckless as were the draughts that could be 
made upon his work-hardened constitution, a fear that it 
would fail him now began to agitate the man. He must 
be strong physically. He must bear himself unyield- 
ing as Atlas. His shoulders, instead of sinking, must 



474 HELD TO ANSWER 

stiffen as the still heavier load rolled upon them. But his 
mind also must be strong. 

He was almost mad with thinking on his course, with 
trying to reason out some Northwest Passage for his con- 
science. Every eventuality had been considered, every 
resulting good or injury taken into account. When he 
did sleep, dreams had come to him horrible, portending 
dreams that lingered into wake fulness and filled the hours 
with vague, tissue-weakening dread. He knew the mean- 
ing of this. His brain was so wearied with thinking of 
the perplexities which bristled round him that the very 
processes of thought had begun to operate less surely. 
Conclusions that should have stood out sharp and clear 
became blurred. Doubts and indecisions clamored round 
him. Things settled and settled right came trooping 
back to demand realignment. This alarmed him more 
than anything else, the fear that the course he had 
chosen and which he knew to be right, might seem, in 
some moment when his mind passed into a fog, the 
wrong course; and he would falter not for lack of will but 
because of the maiming of his judgment. 

He longed for counsel, to talk intimately with some 
one, but was afraid, afraid he might get the wrong 
advice and follow it. The loyalty of Rose, the judgment 
of the Angel of the Chair, he trusted; but himself he be- 
gan to mistrust. Mistrusting himself, he dared not talk 
at all, lest he either exhibit signs of weakness that would 
frighten Rose, or lest, in that weakness, he confess too 
much to Mrs. Burbeck. 

One fear like this and one alarm acted to produce an- 
other until something like panic grew up in his soul. A 
.small onyx clock was on the mantel. The hands pointed 
to one and then to two and to three. At eight he 
must go to the church and see himself accused by those 
whom he loved, and for whom he had labored. 



THE CUP TOO FULL 475 

But at half-past three he saw clearly that his intended 
course was wrong, that he should defend himself and 
speak the truth : that his silence was working greater ill 
than good. 

The clock tinkled four with this decision still clear in 
his mind. But the tinkling sound appeared to ring an- 
other bell deep inside him a bell that boomed from far r 
far away and made him think of some one's definition of 
religion, " as a power within us not ourselves that makes 
for godliness." That power had spoken out. It revived 
the decision of half-past three. His former course was 
right. He must not swerve. With a gesture of pain 
and terror he flung up his hands to his brow. The 
calamity had fallen. His mind was passing under a fog. 
Defiantly he tried auto-suggestion to school his will 
against a possible reversal in the hour of trial, saying to 
himself over and over again: "I will stand! I will 
stand ! I will stand ! " He quoted frequently the words 
of Paul : " And having done all, to stand ! " 

At length he fell back limply in his chair. A vast irk- 
someness had taken possession of him. He was tired 
tired of thinking of It tired of waiting for It to come. 
"Why didn't the clock hurry? The coming of Tayna to 
the study alone brought a welcome to his eye. Tayna! 
So full of buoyant, blooming youth ; so quickly moved to 
tears of sympathy; so lightly kindled to smiling, happy 
laughter! Tayna, her melting eyes, her red cheeks, her 
one intermittent dimple, who flung her long arms about 
her uncle and held him close and silently as if he had been 
a lover! 

But it was only a moment until Tayna too irked the 
tortured man. The touch of her cheek upon his cheek and 
the aggressive mingling of her thick braids with his own 
disheveled locks, once brushed so neat and high, now so 
apt to loop disconsolate upon his temples, reminded him 



476 HELD TO ANSWER 

of something quite unbearable but quite unbanishable, 
a vision, and a vision which must be entertained alone. 

" Stay here and keep shop," her uncle said with sud- 
den brusqueness, forcing her down into his own chair at 
the desk. " I can see no one; talk to no one; hear from 
no one. I am going up-stairs ! " 

" Up-stairs " meant the long, half-attic room in which 
Hampstead slept. It ran the length of the cottage. 
There were windows in the gables, and dormers were 
chopped in upon the side toward the Bay. At one end, 
pushed back toward the eaves, was a bed, fenced from the 
eye by a folding screen. Far at the other end was a table, 
a student-lamp and a few books. Between lay a long, rug- 
strewn space which Hampstead called his " tramping 
ground." 

Here, when he wished to retire most completely from 
the public reach, he made his lair. Upon that rug-strewn 
space he had tramped out many of the problems of his 
ministry. In the past week he had walked miles between 
one gable window and the other, and stopped as many 
times to gaze out through the dormer windows over 
the crested tops of palms to the dancing waters on the 
Bay. 

But now he had retreated there, not to be alone, but be- 
cause he felt a sudden longing for companionship ; and for 
a certain and particular companionship. That touch of 
Tayna's soft cheek upon his own had brought with sting- 
ing poignancy the recollection of what the presence of 
Bessie would be now, Bessie as she once had been, dear, 
loyal, sympathetic, wise ; as she had begun to be again De- 
fore that last trip east ; as she would have been when she 
returned and found him still strong and faithful. 

Yet now she would never come. She was in Chicago 
to-day no, upon the Atlantic. Last week was her final 
week. She had been getting her degree there while his 



THE CUP TOO FULL 477 

unfrocking was beginning here. She was attaining her 
high hope as he was losing his. He had meant to tele- 
graph her his congratulations, but he had forgotten it. 
That was just as well now. All this hissing of the poi- 
soned tongues must have poured into her ears. The old 
doubts would be revived. She would feel herself shamed, 
humiliated, all but compromised by these disclosures, and 
she would never see never communicate with him 
again. No letter had come in that last week, no telegram 
from the ship's side. That proved it clearly. She was 
lost to him. 

Yet now his church his liberty his reputation 
nothing else that he had lost or might lose seemed worth 
while. He wanted only her, cared only about her. His 
duty had melted into mist. He could not see its out- 
lines. But there was a face in the mist, her face ; and a 
form, her form. And he would never see her in any 
other way but this way a vision to haunt and mock 
and torture him. 

Thinking these thoughts over and over again, the man 
walked steadily from gable's end to gable's end and back 
again, until his legs lost all sense of feeling; but still he 
walked, and occasionally his fists were clenched and beat 
upon his chest, while an expression of agony looked out of 
his eyes. 

The Reverend John Hampstead, pastor of All People's, 
a man of some victories and of some defeats, a man of 
some strength and of some weaknesses, was fighting his 
most important and his hardest battle, and he knew it. 
And he was no longer fit. The preliminary days of bat- 
tling in the lower spurs and ranges had exhausted him. 
The summit was still above. The higher he toiled, the 
weaker he grew ; the greater need for strength, the less he 
had to offer. He felt his purpose sag, his courage break- 
ing. He had faced too much, and faced it too long and 



478 HELD TO ANSWER 

too solitarily. Others had sympathetically tried to get 
into his heart, and he had shut them out. It was a place 
which only one could enter, and she was not there. Now 
he knew that she would never be there. 

That was the final mockery of his fate. At the time 
when he loved her most, when he needed her most, when 
before God, he deserved her most, she was most irretriev- 
ably lost. The pang of this, the awful inevitableness of 
it, broke him like a reed. From time to time he had 
sighed heavily, but now a dry sob shivered in his broad 
breast. His shoulders shook, and then his legs crumpled 
under him; he was on his knees and sinking lower and 
lower, like a man beaten down, blow upon blow, until at 
length he lies prostrate before his foes. 

" Not that, O God," he sobbed; "not that! I cannot 
I cannot lose her. Leave me, oh, leave me this one 
thing ! I ask nothing more ! Nothing more." 

There was silence for an interval and then the plead- 
ings began more earnestly, more piteously. " O God, give 
me her ! Give me love ! Give me completeness ! Give 
me that without which no man is strong, the undoubting 
love of an unwavering woman ! Give me that and I can 
face anything endure anything ! " 

For a moment his hands, virile and outstretched, 
grasped convulsively the far edges of the Indian rug on 
which he had fallen, and thrust themselves through the 
stoutly woven fabric as if it had been wet paper. Scald- 
ing drops had begun to flow from his eyes like rivers. He 
seized the fabric of the rug in his teeth and bit it. He 
forced the thick folds against his eyes as if to dam the 
flooding tears. 

" It is too much ! It is too much ! " he moaned. " O 
God," he reproached, " you have left me ; you have left me 
alone and far. I have stood, but I am tottering." He 
dropped into a sort of vernacular in his blind pleadings. 



THE CUP TOO FULL 479 

" I can go, I can go the route, but I cannot go it alone. 
Give me her, O God, give me her! " 

His voice, half-delirious, died out in a final withering 
sob, as if the last atom of his strength had gone with this 
passionate, hoarse, uttermost plea of his soul. His great 
fingers stretching out again to the limit of his arm, 
knotted and unknotted themselves and then grew still. 
The shoulders, too, were motionless. The face was 
turned on one side; the profile of the ridged forehead and 
the thrust of nose and chin, so strongly carved, appeared 
against the grotesque pattern of the rug as features deli- 
cately chiseled. The eyes were open, tearless now and 
staring. They had expression, but it was the expression 
of the beaten man. The mouth was parted, and the firm 
lines were gone from it. It was the old, loose, flabby 
mouth that had once marked the weak spot in the charac- 
ter of the man. Again the man was weak. He lay so 
still that life itself seemed to have gone. The wandering 
afternoon breeze that stole in through one gable window 
and went romping out at the other played with the mass 
of hair upon his brow as indifferently as if it had been a 
tuft of grass. 

Even the man's enemies must have pitied him had they 
seen him now. Searle, standing over him, would have 
felt a twinge of conscience. Elder Burbeck, before that 
spectacle, would at least have paused long enough to mur- 
mur, sincerely, with upturned eyes and a grave shake of 
the head, " God be merciful to him, a sinner." But 
neither Searle nor Burbeck, nor any other eye was there 
to see how he lay nor how long. Perhaps not even Tayna, 
crouching on the stairs outside, hearing his sobbings 
and venting tear for tear, could have computed the 
time. 

Surely the man knew nothing himself except that he 
fell asleep and dreamed, this time not horribly, but felici- 



480 HELD TO ANSWER 

tously, a dream of Bessie; that she was coming to him ; 
that she was there. It was such a beautiful dream. It 
took all the strain out of the muscles of his face. 
It tickled the flabby mouth into smiles of happiness. It 
triumphed over everything else. It made every expe- 
rience through which he had gone seem a high and beauti- 
ful experience because it brought him Bessie. 

A knock at the door awoke him. It was such a cruel 
awakening. Bessie was not there. His cheeks were hard 
and stiff where tears had dried upon them. His shoulders 
and neck ached from the position in which he had slept. 
The rug was rumpled. The room was bleak and desolate. 
The breeze was chill and gloomy. The situation in which 
he stood came to him again with appealing acuteness and 
stung his memory like scourging whips. He rose with 
pain in his mind, pain in his heart, pain in every tissue 
of his body. 

But there are worse things than pain. John was ap- 
palled to realize that he had risen a quaking coward. 

The knock had sounded again. It was a soft knock, but 
it echoed loud, like the crack of doom. It stood for the 
outside world ; it stood for the accusing finger ; it stood for 
the felon's brand; it stood for the great monster, Ruin, 
which threatened him, which terrorized him, which he had 
faced courageously, but which at last through the work- 
ings of his own morbid imagination and the tentacles of a 
great love, torn blood-dripping from his heart, had over- 
awed him. Before this monster he now shrank, cowering 
as only six days before he had seen Rollie Burbeck cower. 
He said to himself that he, John Hampstead, was the 
greater coward. Rollie had faltered in the face of his 
crime. He, the priest of God, was faltering in the face 
of his duty. He retreated from his own presence aghast 
at the thought. He looked about him wildly, and saw his 
features in the glass. It was a coward's face. He felt 



THE CUP TOO FULL 481 

something stagger in his breast. It was his coward's 
heart ! 

Again the knock sounded. Not because he had grown 
brave again, but because he had grown too weak ,to 
resist even a knock upon a door, he gave the rug a kick 
that half straightened it, and in the tone of one who, de- 
spairing help, bids his torturers advance, he called: 
" Come in." 

But instead of waiting to see who entered, he turned 
his back and walked off down the room with slow, dis- 
consolate stride, head hanging, shoulders drooping, knees 
trembling, feet dragging, utterly unmindful to preserve 
longer the pose of strength even before the dear 
ones whom he wished above all to see him brave and 
strong. 

It was the silence of the one who entered that made him 
turn slowly, staring, his form lifting itself to its full 
height, and a hand rising to sweep the hanging hair from 
his eyes as he gazed for a moment in unbelieving bewilder- 
ment and then hoarsely shouted : 

" Bessie ! Bessie ! Is it you ? " 

Before the broken, paralyzed man could leap to meet 
her, the young woman had flung herself into his arms, 
with a cry almost of pain : " John ! Oh, John ! " 

He clasped her hysterically, half laughing and half sob- 
bing : " Thank God ! Thank God ! " and then, mur- 
muring incoherently, " It is the answer of the Father ! It 
is the answer of the Father! " 

Bessie, the first surge of her emotions over, stood look- 
ing up into John's storm-stressed face, with glistening, 
happy eyes. 

It was evident that all the vapor of her doubt and mis- 
understanding had been burned away. She was again the 
old Bessie. She had started to him by an instinct of 
loyalty, spurred by a love that had refused to die, yet, 



482 HELD TO ANSWER 

womanlike, was still doubting. But the moving picture 
which the papers of succeeding days had reeled before her 
eyes as her train sped westward ; the solemn face of Rose, 
the teary eyes of Tayna, whom she had found sitting at 
the foot of the stairs outside ; and now this glimpse of that 
stooping, passionately despairing, hopelessly broken figure 
were enough to banish doubt forever. They testified that 
John Hampstead, in the soul of him, was true to love 
as to duty that he had burned out the scar of his first 
disloyalty to her in the fires of intense suffering. 

Her radiant beauty, the soft, trusting blue of her eyes, 
the wonderful witchery of smiling lips and dimpling 
cheeks, the proud, happy, worshipful look upon her face, 
all proclaimed the bounding joy with which she hurled 
herself again into his life. 

John perceived this in ecstasy. Bessie was not lost to 
him, but won to him by what had happened. The mere 
perception threw him into a frenzy of joy, and yet it was a 
reversal of probabilities so sudden and so overwhelming 
that he dared not accept it unattested. 

" But, Bessie," he protested. " But, Bessie? " 

" But nothing ! " she answered stoutly, flinging her 
arms once more about his neck and drawing his lips down 
to hers, while she passionately stamped them again and 
again with the seal of her love and faith. 

With the submission of a child, and under the stimulus 
of such convincing, such deliciously thrilling demonstra- 
tion as this, the strong-weak man surrendered uncondi- 
tionally to an acceptance of facts at once so undeniable and 
so excitingly happy. 

But the articles of surrender could not be signed in 
words. He drew her close to him and held her there 
long and silently, feeling his heart beat violently against 
her own, and at the same time his tissues filling with new 
and glowing strength. A sigh from Bessie, softly audi- 



THE CUP TOO FULL 483 

ble and blissfully long-drawn, broke the silence and the 
pose. 

John held her at arm's length his eyes a-dance with 
the emotional riot of an experience so foreign to the 
ascetic life which his character had forced upon him that 
he felt the wish for anchorage at which to moor himself 
and his joys. Such a mooring was offered by the long, 
wide window seat before the dormer which looked over 
palms and acacias to the Bay. 

Taking Bessie by the hand, he led her to this tiny 
haven. 

" Oh, John," she murmured, with a flutter in her voice 
and a sudden gust of happy tears, as she cuddled down 
against his shoulder, " it has been such a long, cruel wait, 
hasn't it? Such a hilly, roundabout way that we have 
traveled to know and get to each other at last." 

" But now it's over," he breathed contentedly, sway- 
ing her body gently with his own. 

As if a tide had taken them, they drifted out; two 
argonauts upon the sea of love with the window seat for 
a bark, and soon were cruising far out of sight of land. 
There was little talk. Words were so unnecessary. To 
feel the presence of each other was quite enough. For 
the time being, degrees and careers and private cars, 
courts and newspapers, actresses and diamonds, elders 
and church trials, were sunk entirely below the hori- 
zon. 

Bessie was first to come back from this nebulous state 
of bliss to the more tangible realities of the situation. 
With her lover so close and so secure, she experienced 
a stirring of possessive instincts accompanied by an im- 
pulse to caretaking. John was hers now, and he re- 
quired attention. With a soft hand she smoothed the 
yellow locks backward from his brow. With pliant 
fingers she sought to iron out the lines of care from his 



484 HELD TO ANSWER 

face, and with lingering, affectionate lips to kiss the tear- 
stiffness from his eyelids. 

To the man of loneliness, these attentions were ex- 
quisitely delightful. They soothed and fortified him. 
They calmed his nerves and ministered to clarity of 
thought. This was well, for there were things that 
needed to be said as well as those which needed to be 
done. 

Dusk was falling. John arose, lighted a pendant bulb 
in the center of the long attic, and sat down again, taking 
Bessie's hand in his while he told her the story of the 
diamonds as he had told it in court told her so much 
and no more; then stopped. The cessation was abrupt, 
decisive, but also interrogatory. John could not tell Bes- 
sie more than he could tell any one else and be true to his 
vow. Would she appreciate this and acquiesce? Or 
would she resent it? 

Bessie understood the question in the silence. Her an- 
swer was to snuggle closer and after allowing time for 
this action to interpret itself, to say: 

" That must be the bravest, hardest thing you have 
done, John dear ; to stop just there, when telling me." 

" It was," he answered softly. 

" It makes me trust you further than ever," she as- 
sured him, passing her hand under his chin and pulling 
his cheek to hers, again with that instinct of possession. 
" You must not be less true but more, because of me," she 
breathed softly. 

" But there is one thing I can tell you," he continued, 
" which no one else knows nor can know now." 

And then he told her of Marien's visit. The girl lis- 
tened at first with cheeks flaming hot and her blue eyes 
fixed and sternly hard. Yet as the narrative proceeded, 
she grew thoughtful and then considerate, breaking in 
finally with: 



THE CUP TOO FULL 485 

" But she did it so wantonly, so irresponsibly ; what 
reparation does she propose ? " 

" To immediately make a public confession that her 
charge against me was utterly false," replied John, 
strangely moved to speak defensively for Marien. 

" She will do that?" exclaimed Bessie, her face alive 
with excitement and intense relief. 

" She would have done it," answered John, " but I for- 
bade her." 

"Forbade her? Oh, John!" The soft eyes looked 
amazement and reproach. 

" Yes," acknowledged John in a steady voice. " You 
see, her word would become instantly worthless. To be 
believed, her confession would have to be supported by 
the naming of the real thief." 

" And is the saving of a thief worth more to you than 
your church your good name your your every- 
thing?" 

" In my conception, yes," John answered seriously. 
" That is what I have a church, a name, everything, for ; 
to use it all in saving people or in helping them, if the 
other is too strong a word." 

As her lover spoke in this lofty, detached, meditative 
tone, Bessie held him off and studied him. This was the 
new John Hampstead speaking; the man she did not 
know; the man who, up to the hour when cruel scandal 
smirched it, had stirred this community with the example 
of his life. Before this new man she felt her very soul 
bowing. She had loved the old John. She adored the 
new. 

" Oh, John ! How brave ! How strong ! How right 
you are ! " she exclaimed, with a note of adoration in her 
voice. 

A pang of self-reproach shot through the big man. 

" Not so brave not so strong as I must as I ought 



486 HELD TO ANSWER 

to be," he hastened to explain. " In fact, I have been 
doubting even if I were right, after all." 

Bessie's startled look brought out of him like a con- 
fession the story of the last hours before her coming; 
the full meaning of the state in which she found him; 
how the burden of it all had overtoppled him; how she 
had come to find him not brave and certain, but doubting. 

" But now," she affirmed buoyantly, " you are strong, 
you are certain again." 

The very radiance, the fresh youthful happiness on the 
face of Bessie, checked the assent to this which was on 
his lips. He suddenly thought of what this action would 
mean to her, this beautiful, loving, aspiring young woman. 
She was his wife now in spirit. By some miracle of God 
their lives had in a moment been fused unalterably. He 
might bear a stigma for himself, but had he a right to 
assume a stigma for her ? 

" Why, John," she murmured, wonder mingling with 
mild reproach, as she saw him hesitate. 

" Listen, my girl," began her lover, with infinite sym- 
pathy and tenderness in his manner, and gravely he re- 
sketched the elements in the situation as they would apply 
to her. 

Bessie did listen, and as gravely as John spoke to her, 
listened until her eyes were first perplexed and then down- 
cast. Sitting thus, seeing nothing, she saw everything; 
all that it might mean to her to become the partner of 
this public shame. She thought of her college friends, 
of her mother with her social aspirations, of her strong 
and high-standing father and the circle of his business 
and personal associates; of the part she hoped herself to 
play in the new political life that was coming to her sex. 
She saw it and for a moment was afraid, cowering be- 
fore it as her lover had cowered. John, in an agony of 
suspense, watched this conflict staging itself graphically 



THE CUP TOO FULL 487 

upon the features he loved so deeply, gleaning as he waited 
another two-edged truth, and that truth this : The love of 
a woman may make a man surpassingly stronger; it may 
also make him immeasurably weaker. It depends on the 
woman. He was weaker now. He had accepted her, 
demanded her of God, and God had given her. She 
was part of him now. It must no longer be his judgment 
but their judgment which ruled. She was forming their 
judgment now. He leaned forward apprehensively, like 
a criminal awaiting his fate. He had surrendered his 
independence of action. Had he gained or lost thereby? 

Bessie stood up suddenly. Her face was still white, 
but her square little chin with its softly rounded corners 
was firmly set. 

" Your decision," she affirmed stoutly, " was the right 
decision. Your course has been the right course. You 
must not waver now. I command I compel you to 
go straight forward. And I will stand with you go out 
with you. From this moment on, your duty is my duty ; 
your lot shall be my lot." 

A smile of heavenly happiness broke like a sunset on the 
face of Hampstead. 

"Thank God!" he murmured reverently; "thank 
God!" 

And then as a surging Niagara of new strength rushed 
over him, he clasped her tightly, exclaiming enthusiasti- 
cally : " I feel strong enough now, strong enough for 
everything ! " 

Standing thus, smiling blissfully into each other's faces, 
the lovers became again the two argonauts upon a shore- 
less, timeless sea. As they came back, Bessie, a look 
half mischievous and half bashful upon her face, pleaded 
softly: 

" John ! Ask me something, please? " 

" Ask you something," her lover murmured, with a 



4 88 HELD TO ANSWER 

look of dutiful affection, "why, there is nothing more 
that I can ask." He sighed contentedly. 

" But put it into words. Something to which I can 
answer Yes," she said, a happy blush stealing across her 
cheeks. 

The big man gazed at her with a puzzled expression. 

" So so that our engagement can be announced in 
the papers to-morrow morning." 

John asked her, grimacing delight in his sudden com- 
prehension, and took her answer in a kiss. But immedi- 
ately after he became serious. 

"To-morrow morning?" he queried apprehensively; 
and then answered the interrogation himself. " No, not 
to-morrow, Bessie. Not soon. Later. When the issues 
are decided. When we know the worst that is to fall. 
Not now. You must protect yourself as well as your 
father and your mother from such notoriety ! " 

But Bessie's own uncompromising spirit flashed. 

" No," she exclaimed with a stamp of her foot that 
was characteristic. " Now ! This is when you need me ! 
Now you are my affianced husband ; I want the world to 
know that he is not as friendless as he seems. That we 
who know him best believe him most. Do you know, big 
man, that my parents cancelled their European trip and 
have been rushing across the continent with me in a special 
train faster than anybody ever crossed before, just to 
come and stand by you. Mother had a headache and is 
resting at the St. Albans, but father and I why, father 
is down-stairs in the study waiting. He must have been 
there hours and hours. Father ! " 

Bessie had rushed across the room and flung open the 
idoor leading downward. 

" Father," she cried. " Father ! We are coming." 

" What's the hurry ? " boomed back a big, ironic voice 
that proceeded from the round moon of an amiable face 



THE CUP TOO FULL 489 

in the open door of the study near the foot of the stairs. 
The face, of course, belonged to Mr. Mitchell, and he en- 
larged upon his first gentle sarcasm by adding : " I 
bought a thousand freight cars the other day in less time 
than it has taken you people to come to terms." 

Nevertheless, he greeted his former employee with cor- 
dial and sincere affection, while Bessie, radiantly happy 
but a little confused, asked: 

" What must have you been thinking all this time? " 

" Mostly I was thinking what a superfluous person a 
father comes to be all at once," laughed Mr. Mitchell. 
"Isn't there anything I can do at all?" he asked, with 
mock seriousness. 

" Yes," rejoined Bessie in the same spirit. " Tele- 
phone the papers to announce the engagement of your 
daughter to the Reverend John Hampstead, pastor of All 
People's Church." 

" Oh, I did that after the first hour and a half," ex- 
claimed the railroad man, laughing heartily. 

But the situation was too grave, the feelings of all were 
too tense, to sustain this spirit of badinage for long. 
Bessie and Tayna fell upon each other with instant liking. 
Even Dick and Rose seemed able to forget the crisis which 
overhung them in the sudden advent of this beautiful 
young woman who had come into their ken again so sud- 
denly and so mysteriously, and seemed to represent in 
herself and her father such a sudden and vast access of 
prestige and power to the cause of their uncle and 
brother. 

John and his old employer sat down in the study for a 
quiet talk in which the minister related what he had told 
Bessie, the circumstances in which he stood, and finally 
and especially, his new compunction and Bessie's firm de- 
cision. 

" She was right ! " The heavy jaws of Mitchell snapped 



490 HELD TO ANSWER 

decisively. " The whole thing is a community brain 
storm. It will pass." 

" The criminal charge," began John, feeling relieved and 
yet looking serious. 

" Nothing to that at all," answered the practical Mitch- 
ell, with quick decision. " Ridiculous ! You're morbid 
from brooding over all this. From the minute this 
woman comes to you with her admission, you must have 
just ordinary horse sense enough to see that between 
us all we can find a way to stop that prosecution without 
making it necessary to expose anybody at all." 

Mitchell, observing Hampstead closely, saw that he was 
rather careless of this; that in fact he only thought of 
it when he thought of Bessie; that the one thing gnawing 
into him now was the action of the church. That was 
something outside of Mitchell's experience. Whether a 
church more or less unfrocked his future son-in-law was 
small concern. He was a man who thought in thousands 
of miles and millions of people. 

" Come, Bessie," he called, " we must be getting back 
to the hotel." 

" You will stay for dinner, Mr. Mitchell ? " suggested 
John. 

" No, I'll be getting back to mother. I just came to 
tell you that I am with you. My attorneys will be your 
attorneys. My friends and my influence will be your 
influence. Some of these newspapers may bark out of 
the other corner of their mouths after they've heard from 
me. Come on, Bessie ! " 

" But," demurred Bessie, " I'm not coming. I am go- 
ing to the church to-night to sit beside John." 



CHAPTER XL 

THE ELDER IN THE CHAIR 

THE auditorium of All People's was cunningly con- 
trived to bring a very large number of people close to 
each other and to the minister. Roughly semicircular, 
with bowled main floor and rimmed around by a gallery 
that edged nearer and nearer at the sides, it was possible 
to seat fifteen hundred persons where a man in the pulpit 
could look each individual in the eye, and except where 
the screen of the gallery broke in, each auditor could see 
every other auditor. 

The special meeting for an object unannounced but 
clearly understood was, of course, an assemblage of the 
church itself; yet so great was the general interest in 
what was to transpire, and so willing were the moving 
spirits to play out their act in public, that no one was 
turned away. By an instruction from Elder Burbeck, 
the ushers merely sifted people, sending the members to 
the main floor, and the non-members up-stairs into the 
gallery. 

Hampstead entered the church at precisely eight o'clock. 

The auditorium was filled with the buzz of many voices, 
but as the pastor of All People's advanced down the aisle, 
this hum gradually ceased, and every eye was turned upon 
the man, who tall and grave, with features slightly wasted, 
nevertheless wore a look serenely confident and even 
happy. 

This expression in itself was instant occasion for won- 
der and surprise. Was this man really unbreakable? 



492 HELD TO ANSWER 

Knowing nothing of what had happened in the day to en- 
courage its pastor and make him strong, his congregation 
was much better prepared to see him as Bessie had found 
him three hours before than as he now appeared. 

There were glances also for the faithful Rose, pale and 
worn, but bearing herself with true Hampstead dignity; 
for aggressive, wizened Dick, and for Tayna, emotional 
and ready, as usual, for tears or laughter. But there 
were more than glances for the lady who walked at the 
pastor's side proudly, with a possessive air as if she owned 
him and were glad to own him. There was searching 
scrutiny and attempt at appraisal. 

All People's had never seen this woman before. She 
looked young; yet bore herself like a person of conse- 
quence. She was beautiful, but the dignity of her beauty 
was detracted from by dimples. Yet with the dimples 
went a masterful self-possession and a chin that was a 
trifle square and to-night just a trifle thrust out, while her 
head was a little tilted back and her blue eyes were a little 
aglint with shafts of a light something like defiance, as if 
to say : " Hurt him at your peril. Take him from me if 
you can ! " 

Who was she ? No one knew. Everybody asked ; but 
no one answered. 

After standing in the aisle before his family pew, while 
Rose, Dick, Tayna, and Bessie filed in before him, the 
minister stood for a moment surveying the scene. As he 
looked, the serenity upon his features gave way to pain. 
The situation saddened him inexpressibly. He was like 
a refugee who returns to find his home ruined by the 
ravages of war. How peaceful and how helpful had 
been the atmosphere of All People's! How happily he 
had seen its walls rise and its pews fill ! How many good 
impulses had been started there! What a pity that the 
note of inquisition and of persecution should now be 



THE ELDER IN THE CHAIR 493 

sounded. How sad that strife should come! And over 
him of all beings ! He had often looked upon a congrega- 
tion torn by dissensions concerning its pastor, and he had 
said that no church should ever undo itself over him. 
When his time came to go, he would go quietly. 

Yet now he was not going quietly, but that was be- 
cause he felt it was not himself that was involved; in- 
stead it was a principle. Either this congregation ex- 
isted to mediate love, helpfulness, and a charitable spirit 
to the world, or it had no reason for existence at all. It 
had better be disrupted, this gallery fall, this altar crum- 
ble, these walls collapse, these people be scattered to the 
winds, than All People's become a society for the ad- 
vancement of pharisaism. 

He noted that the gallery was packed, but on the main 
floor empty spaces stared at him from the central tier of 
pews. Half of All People's members must have remained 
away. John realized with new emotion what this meant : 
that there were men and women in his congregation who 
could not see their pastor arraigned like this, who could 
not bear to witness the rising waves of bitterness, the 
charges and the counter-charges, the incriminations, the 
malicious spirit of partisanship which invariably breaks 
out in times like these. But it meant too that these same 
soft-hearted folk were also soft in the spine; unwilling 
to take a stand with him; unwilling to be recorded pro 
or con upon a great issue like this; people for whom he 
had done a service so great that they could not now turn 
down their thumbs against him, yet lacking in the 
strength of character either to sit as his judges or to cast 
a vote in his favor. 

From this thought of jelly-fish the minister turned, al- 
most with relief to where, stretching widely behind the 
Burbeck pew, was a mass of close-packed faces, with 
super-heated resolution depicted upon their features. 



494 HELD TO ANSWER 

The bearing of these partisans in itself reflected how they 
had been solicited, inflamed, and organized. They were 
there like an army to follow their leader. 

Good people, too, some of them ! Doctor Hampstead's 
very best people. Yet to recognize them and their mood 
gave him a sense of personal power. He believed that he 
could walk over there and talk to these people ten minutes, 
and they would break like sheep from the leadership of 
Brother Burbeck. They would come pressing around 
him with tears and expressions of confidence. But it was 
not in John's purpose to do that. He was on trial. If 
on the record of his life among them, these people could 
condemn and oust him, his work had been a failure. It 
was as well to know it. 

One thing more the minister took into account. The 
number of persons who, half in an attitude of aggressive 
loyalty and half in tearful sympathy had gathered in the 
tiers behind his own pew was less by half than that 
massed behind the Burbeck leadership. The issue was 
not in doubt. It had been decided already, in the news- 
papers, in the court room, and in all this busy bell-ringing 
of the last two days. 

And now, having seen as much and reflected as much 
as has been recorded, Hampstead sat down and slipped a 
furtive lover's hand along the seat until it found the hand 
of Bessie, and took it into his with a gentle pressure that 
was affectionately reciprocated. 

But if to the congregation the entry of the minister and 
the woman of mystery by his side was sensation number 
one in this evening of sensations, the entry of the Angel 
of the Chair was sensation number two. Mrs. Burbeck, 
propelled as usual by Mori, the Japanese, was just appear- 
ing at the side door ; and this time there was no trundling 
to the center between two factions. Instead, with Japa- 
nese intentness of purpose, and as if he had his instruc- 



THE ELDER IN THE CHAIR 495 

tions beforehand, Mori drove the chair straight across the 
neutral ground to the end of the Hampstead pew. 

The church, seeing this act, grasped instantly its solemn 
meaning. The house of Burbeck was divided against it- 
self. Mrs. Burbeck had often disapproved of her hus- 
band's course in church leadership, but she had never taken 
sides against him. To-night she did so. The issue was 
too great, too fundamental, to do otherwise. That it hurt 
her painfully was evident. Her face had lost its smile. 
The pallor of her cheeks was more wax-like than ever, 
and there was a droop in the corners of her mouth that no 
physical suffering had effected. But the lips were tightly 
compressed, and the valiant spirit of the woman looked 
resolutely out of her eyes. Those near and watching 
the face of her husband saw that this look affected him; 
saw him start as if he had hardly expected such action, 
hardly realized what it would be to find her thus opposing 
him. They even noted that a fleeting expression of doubt, 
of sudden loss of faith in his own course, came into the 
eyes of the man. 

Nevertheless, although with a sigh at the burdens his 
faithfulness to the Lord so often compelled him to bear, 
Elder Burbeck set his spirit sternly upon its task. He was 
the Nemesis of God. He would not shrink though the 
flame scorched him, the innocent, while it consumed the 
guilty. 

Yet from the moment that this glance had passed be- 
tween the husband and the wife, it appeared that a gloom 
of tragedy settled upon the gathering. Again the congre- 
gation sank of itself to awed silence, so intense that a 
cough, the clearing of a throat, the dropping of a hymn- 
book into a rack, echoed hollowly. Slight movements 
took on augmented significance. Thoughts boomed out 
like words, and looks had all the force of blows. 

The polity of All People's was ultra-congregational. 



496 HELD TO ANSWER 

The proceedings had the form of order, but were primi- 
tive and practical; yet every step, voice, motion, detail, 
took on an exaggerated sense of the ominous, as if a man's 
body were on trial instead of merely his soul. 

Nor was Elder Burbeck at all approving of Hamp- 
stead's manner to-night. The minister had shown again 
his utter incapacity to appreciate a situation. He was too 
cool, too unmoved. He had taken a full minute to stand 
there posing in pretended serenity while he looked the con- 
gregation over. From Burbeck's point of view, this man- 
oeuvre was dangerous tactics. There was always some 
indefinable power in that deep-searching look of Hamp- 
stead's. If the man should stand up there and look at 
these people for ten minutes longer, he might have them 
all over there palavering about him. He was looking in 
the gallery now. Well, let him look there as long as he 
liked. The gallery couldn't vote. Burbeck's own eye 
wandered into the gallery. On the other side from him, 
just where the horseshoe curve began to draw in toward 
the choir loft, sat his son, Rollie. 

" Rollie should not be up there," the Elder instructed, 
turning to an usher. " Go and tell him to come down." 

" He says he is with a lady who is not a member," re- 
ported the usher on returning. 

" Huh? " ejaculated Burbeck, turning a surprised gaze 
upon the figure of a woman heavily veiled who sat beside 
his son. 

That woman ! What sacrilege had impelled his son to 
bring her here? Had she not wrought ruin enough al- 
ready? Must she gloat over the shame she had brought 
upon this congregation and upon the church of the living 
God? And must his son be the means of her coming? 
What was that boy thinking of, anyway? 

And yet, since Rollie had grown into so fine a figure 
of a man, his father had come to regard his son and what 



THE ELDER IN THE CHAIR 497 

he chose to do with an indulgence he granted to no one 
else. He wished the boy would come to church more ; he 
wished he would give more attention to those things to 
which his father had devoted his life; and yet he could 
make allowance for him. The young man's environment, 
his social gifts, his business prospects, all inclined him to 
another set of associations. Besides, the boy's own char- 
acter seemed so fine and strong, the sentiments of his 
heart so truly noble, that the father's iron judgment 
softened even in the matter of an indiscretion so flagrant 
as this. He reflected too that for business reasons it was 
doubtless just as well if Rollie were brought into no promi- 
nence in this unpleasant affair. In fact, Elder Burbeck 
would have been as well satisfied if his son had stayed 
away altogether. 

" It is time to call the meeting to order," suggested 
Elder Brooks, a pale, nervous man whose eyes were con- 
tinually consulting the typewritten sheet which he held in 
his hand. 

" Yes, Brother Brooks," agreed Elder Burbeck, advanc- 
ing to the table below and in front of the pulpit. He was 
almost directly in front of where Doctor Hampstead sat in 
his pew. 

John noticed that the Elder looked worried and over- 
anxious. His pouchy cheeks sagged; there were huge 
wattles of red skin beneath his chin, and his whole counte- 
nance had a more than usually apoplectic look. 

" Brother Anderson will lead in prayer," announced the 
Elder in unctuous tones. " Let us stand, please ! " 

The congregation stood. But Brother Anderson's 
leadership in prayer could not be deemed very successful. 
He led as if he himself were lost. His prayer appeared 
to partake of the nature of an apology to God for what 
the petitioner hoped was about to be done. 

During the length of these whining orisons, the congre- 



498 HELD TO ANSWER 

gation grew impatient. The gallery in spots sat down. 
The effect of the prayer was in total no more than a 
dismal thickening of the gloom of tragedy that hung 
lower and lower over the meeting. Yet once the prayer 
was ended, Elder Burbeck baldly declared the object of 
the meeting. 

His manner was strained, his voice was harsh and halt- 
ing, but he began stubbornly and plodded forward dog- 
gedly, gradually laboring himself into the hectic fervor of 
his assumed position as the instrument of God to purge AIL 
People's of its pastor. 

Yet it was in keeping with the tenseness of the situation 
that as the emotions of the vehement apostle of the status 
quo reached their height, his words became rather less 
florid, and he concluded in sentences of sycophantic calm 
and tones of solicitous consideration for the feelings of 
the piece of riff-raff he was about to brush aside with a 
sweep of his fiery fan. 

" There is before us," he assured his audience finally, 
"no question of the pastor's guilt or innocence of the 
charges made. The question is one of expediency; as to 
what is best to do for the good name and the future use- 
fulness of All People's. The Board of Elders, after 
serious and prayerful consideration," Brother Burbeck's 
voice whined a little as he said this, " has felt that it was 
best for the pastor and best for the interest of the church 
to ask him to resign quietly and immediately. That re- 
quest has been emphatically declined. It has become our 
duty, painful as it is," the Elder sighed and twitched 
his red neck regretfully in his white collar, " to present 
to the congregation a resolution covering the situation. 
That resolution the clerk of the church will now 
read." 

But instead of looking at the clerk, the chairman looked 
at Elder Brooks. 



THE ELDER IN THE CHAIR 499 

Those typewritten lines, the mere holding of which had 
given Elder Brooks that sense of importance which it was 
necessary for him to feel in order to be able to act de- 
cisively in a matter like this which went gravely against 
some of the instincts of his soft nature, were, by him now, 
with a final and supreme sense of this importance, passed 
to the clerk of the church, a fat, ageless, colorless looking 
man who read stolidly that : 

Whereas, the pastor of this congregation, John 
Hampstead, has been held to answer to the Superior 
Court of this County upon a charge of burglary and has 
been otherwise involved in public scandal in such manner 
that he appears either unable or unwilling to establish his 
innocence; and 

Whereas, it is the judgment of this Board that such a 
situation is one highly detrimental to the causes for which 
this church exists, and one calculated to bring reproach 
upon the church and the sacred cause of Christ; 

Therefore, be it resolved that the pastoral relation ex- 
isting between All People's Church and the said John 
Hampstead be, and now is, immediately dissolved. 

" This, brethren," announced Elder Burbeck, with an 
air of pain that was no doubt real, and a fresh summoning 
of divine resolution to his aid, " is the recommendation of 
your official Board. What is your pleasure concerning 
it?" 

" I move its adoption," quavered Elder Brooks. 

" I second the motion," Brother Anderson suggested 
faintly. 

"Are you ready for the question?" hinted the ruling 
Elder. 

But a man stood up somewhere over behind Hamp- 
stead. " I should like to ask, Brother Burbeck," he in- 
quired, " if that was the unanimous resolution of the 
Board." 



500 HELD TO ANSWER 

" It was not unanimous," replied the Elder, slightly 
nettled, " as you know, Brother Hinton. It is a majority 
resolution. The question is now upon its adoption." 

Elder Burbeck swept a suggestive eye over his care- 
fully organized majority, and this time his hint was taken. 
Calls of " question " arose. 

But Hinton remained uncompromisingly upon his feet. 
He was a tall man and pale, with a high, bone-like brow, 
a long spiked chin, and gray moustaches that drooped 
placidly over a balanced mouth. 

" I understand that the chair will not attempt to railroad 
this resolution," he ventured with mild sarcasm. 

Elder Burbeck's habitual flush heightened as, after a 
premonitory rumble in his throat and an enormous ef- 
fort at self-control, he replied emphatically: "Brother 
Hinton, the resolution will not be railroaded ; " and then 
added warningly: "To avoid stirring up strife, how- 
ever, I hope we may vote upon it with as little discussion 
as possible." 

" Yes," admitted Brother Hinton dryly, but still stand- 
ing his ground. " I think it is perfectly understood that 
debate where its outcome is pre-determined, is useless. 
Yet without having consulted the pastor of this church as 
to my course, I voice the sentiment of many around me in 
urging him to stand up here as its pastor, as he has a right 
to do, and as the congregation has a right to ask him to do, 
and tell us what he thinks should be our course in the 
premises." 

Brother Hinton's was a well balanced mind, and it 
seemed for a moment that his own manner might inject 
some coolness into the situation. Indeed, the good Elder 
Burbeck trembled lest it might, for the fires of purification 
being up, he wished them to burn, undampened. 

Certainly for John Hampstead to stand up there and 
tell that congregation what to do was the last thing the 



THE ELDER IN THE CHAIR 501 

Elder wanted. Besides, he resented some of Brother 
Hinton's imputations as disagreeable. 

The chairman answered curtly : 

"If the pastor did not respect the eldership sufficiently 
to advise it, I think it can hardly be expected of him to ad- 
vise the congregation ; or that the congregation would take 
his advice if he gave it." 

The face of Hampstead whitened, and his muscles 
strained in his body. 

This was really a mean speech of Elder Burbeck, yet 
he did not wish to be mean. He meant only to be just 
to All People's church. His zeal on the one hand, his 
pre judgment upon the other, had led him to consider no 
procedure as proper that did not look immediately to the 
hurling down of the usurper. 

" The pastor is not at issue," he concluded with heat al- 
most unholy. " It is the good name of All People's that is 
at issue." 

The face of Hampstead whitened a little more. 

" But," persisted Brother Hinton ; " let our pastor make 
his answer to the charges, that we may determine for our- 
selves what is the issue." 

Enough had been said. John Hampstead stood tall and 
statue-like in the aisle, with the manner of a man about to 
speak the very soul out of himself, if need be. Before 
this manner, Elder Burbeck recoiled a little, as he knew he 
must, if this man asserted himself. For one despairing 
moment the good man felt that the cause of righteousness 
was lost. But something in the manner of the minister 
himself reassured the Elder. The man's soul went back 
a little from his eyes, receded, as it were, like a tide, 
while he turned toward the congregation and in kindly, pa- 
tient tones began : 

" I cannot speak to charges, Brother Hinton ! None 
are presented against me. It was for this reason that I re- 



502 HELD TO ANSWER 

fused to appear before the eldership. This resolution is 
not a charge. It is an assault. There is no proposal on 
the part of this Board to find out if I am guilty of any- 
thing. They propose a course which assumes my guilt to 
be of no importance. I tell you that it is of all impor- 
tance. 

" Perhaps, brethren, I have been too reticent. Perhaps 
the peculiar circumstances out of which this congregation 
has grown during the five years of my ministry have made 
it difficult for all of us to see aright or to act aright in this 
trying situation. I stand before you to some extent a 
victim of misplaced confidence in you. I was surprised 
that the newspapers should inflame public opinion against 
me. I was surprised that a Court of Justice should hold 
me to answer for this improbable crime. Yet, during all 
these, to me, cataclysmic, happenings of the past week, 
I have looked to the loyalty of this church with an assur- 
ance that never wavered; an assurance that in the light of 
what is happening to-night seems more tragic than any- 
thing else. I never had a thought that you would not 
stand by me, at least until I was found to be guilty." 

A note of pathos had crept into the minister's voice. 
The gallery listened intent and breathless. Elder Bur- 
beck felt an irritation in his throat. 

But the minister was continuing : 

" Indulging this faith in you, entirely occupied with the 
many perplexing circumstances of this lamentable affair, I 
am made now to feel that I neglected you too long. 

" I perceive now that your minds, too, were inflamed 
with suspicion; that well-meaning but mistaken zealots 
among you have felt called upon to take advantage of the 
situation to purge the church of my presence. 

" Once I saw this movement under way, I felt too hurt 
to oppose it. It seems to me that it has been done cun- 
ningly and calculatingly. No charges have been presented 



THE ELDER IN THE CHAIR 503 

against me; therefore I cannot defend myself; and I will 
not defend myself. I am only analyzing the situation for 
you, that what you do may be with open eyes. It is urged 
that I am not on trial ; therefore as a popular tribunal, you 
cannot go into the details and ascertain the truth for your- 
selves. 

" A hasty decision is demanded ; therefore there is no 
time for the situation to clear and for calm counsel to pre- 
vail. Bear in mind that you are called upon to take action 
quickly, not for my sake as a minister ; not for your sake 
as individuals ; but because the good name of this church is 
alleged to be suffering. Is it not in reality because the 
vanity of some of the members of this church is suffering? 
"If that is so, it is not a reason, my brethren, for hasty 
action against any man. Surely it is not a reason for 
hasty action against me. I ask those of you who can re- 
member, to go back, to recall the circumstances under 
which I became your pastor. You were humble enough 
then. There was small thought of the good name of this 
congregation when I sat in the park out there and saw this 
man nailing a plank across the door. I did not question 
his good intentions then. I do not question them now. 
But he is proposing to do the same thing in effect that he 
did then ; to nail God out of His house. 

" Oh, not because I am nailed out. You may cast me 
out, and this church will go on. But if you cast out any 
brother, even the humblest, wrongfully or for self- 
righteous reasons, you depart from the spirit of Christ. 
You should be helping that man instead of hurting him. 
How much less would you cast out your pastor for the 
same reason." 

"Brother Hampstead!" It was the voice of Elder 
Burbeck, grating harshly by the forced element of self- 
restraint in his tones. " You are misapprehending the 
issue. There is no proposal to cast you out of the congre- 



504 HELD TO ANSWER 

gation. The proposal is merely that you retire from the 
position of eminence which you occupy, exactly as I might 
be asked to retire if my own name had been smirched." 

" There you are ! " ejaculated Hampstead. " ' Had 
'been smirched/ Your chairman's phraseology shows that 
he assumes that my name has been smirched. I deny it. 
I indignantly reject the specious argument that the action 
of this church to-night does not amount to a trial. Be- 
fore the eyes of the world you are finding me guilty. You 
place upon me a stigma as a minister that will follow 
wherever I go, the inference of which is unescapable. 
From the hour when I became the minister of this congre- 
gation until now, I have gone about as a servant of the 
One Master, according to my judgment and my capacity. 
The point of view of the authors of this resolution seems 
to be that I have been the servant of this congregation; 
that I may be hired or discharged, that I am theirs, that I 
have been working for them. That was a mistake ! It is 
a mistake. I know you have paid me a salary, but I have 
never felt that it conferred upon me any obligation to you. 
I thought you gave the money to God, and that he gave it 
to me, and that with it I was to serve Him and not you. 
That service was rendered in all good conscience to this 
hour. Are you now presuming to oust me because I can 
no longer serve God? Or because you are unwilling for 
me longer to serve you? 

" Your Board has asked me to resign. To resign 
would be a confession of guilt. I do not feel guilty. I 
am not guilty. My conscience is clear. Personally, I was 
never so satisfied that I was doing right as now. 

" Sometimes I must have done the wrong thing. Look- 
ing back, it seems to me now that sometimes when you 
approved most heartily, when the public ovations were the 
loudest, the thing achieved was either of doubtful worth 
or very transitory. The present case touches funda- 



THE ELDER IN THE CHAIR 505 

mental issues. It has to do with one of the most sacred 
duties of the minister. 

" The resolution to which I am entitled from this con- 
gregation is a resolution of absolute confidence. There is 
but one other resolution that could adequately express the 
situation, and that is the one which is proposed by the 
Board. If you cannot pass the resolution of confidence, 
I think that you should pass the one that has been pro- 
posed. That is the advice which I have to offer. That is 
the answer which I make to this unjust, this unchristian 
assault upon your pastor in the moment when, tried as he 
has never been tried before, he needs your loyalty and con- 
fidence more than he can ever need it again." 

Hampstead sat down. He had spoken with far more 
feeling than he had intended, but he had exhibited much 
less than he experienced. 

Yet the total effect of his words was less happy than 
his friends had hoped. Instead of appealing to his audi- 
tors, he appeared to arraign them. Elder Burbeck was 
greatly relieved. He saw that this arraignment had an- 
tagonized and solidified his own cohorts. 

But the tall man with the lofty brow was on his feet 
again. 

" I wish to move," said Brother Hinton, " a resolution 
such as Doctor Hampstead has suggested; a resolution of 
sympathy and absolute confidence, and I now do move that 
this church put itself upon record as sympathizing fully 
with our pastor in his unpleasant position, and assuring 
him of our confidence in the unswerving integrity of his 
character and of our prayers that he may be true to his 
duty as he sees it. I offer that as a substitute for the reso- 
lution before the house." 

The resolution was seconded. There was an interval 
of silence, a feeling that the crucial moment had been 
reached. Question was called. The substitute was put. 



506 HELD TO ANSWER 

" All in favor of this resolution which you have heard 
made and with the formal reading of which we will dis- 
pense, please stand," proclaimed Elder Burbeck. 

There was an uncertain movement. By ones and twos, 
and then in groups the persons sitting on the Hampstead 
side of the church rose to their feet, until with few excep- 
tions all were standing. 

" The clerk will count." 

There was an awkward silence. 

" One hundred and sixty-three," the colorless man an- 
nounced presently. 

" All opposed, same sign." Burbeck's adherents arose 
en masse at the motion of the Elder's arm, which was as 
involuntary as it was in judicial. 

The clerk did not count. It was unnecessary. " The 
motion is lost," he said to the presiding officer. 

"The resolution is lost," announced Elder Burbeck 
loudly, in tones that quickened with eagerness. " The 
question now recurs upon the original resolution." 

Erect, poised, feeling a sense of elation that he was 
now to let loose the wrath of God upon a recreant shep- 
herd of the flock, the Elder stood for a moment with his 
eyes sweeping over the whole congregation, and taking 
in every detail of the picture; the disheartened, defeated 
group behind Hampstead, the flushed, determined face of 
the minister, the defiant blaze in the eyes of the rosy-faced 
young person by his side, who was this strange woman, 
anyway ? and then his own well-marshalled loyal forces, 
who to-night played the part of the avenging hosts of 
Jehovah ! 

Up even into the gallery the Elder's eyes wandered 
with satisfaction. These galleries should see that All 
People's would not suffer itself to be put to shame before 
the world. Something centered his eye for a moment 
upon Rollie. His son was gazing intently, leaning for- 



THE ELDER IN THE CHAIR 507 

ward with a hand reached out until it rested on the balcony 
rail. Then the Elder's eye returned to the lower floor and 
to the mission now about to be accomplished. 

" Are you ready for the question? " he inquired, with 
forced deliberation, enjoying the suspense before its inevi- 
table outcome of satisfied justice. 

" Question ! Question ! " came the insistent calls. 

But now there was something like a movement in the 
gallery. The old Elder's eye, noting everything, noted 
that; looking up, he saw that Rollie's seat was empty; 
but higher up the gallery aisle the young man was visible, 
making his way quickly toward the stairs. That was 
right, he was coming down to vote ; but he would be too 
late. 

" All in favor of the resolution severing the pastoral 
relation between All People's Church and John Hamp- 
stead will signify by standing." 

The Elder rolled the words out sonorously. In his 
mind they stood for the thunder of divine judgment ! 

The solid phalanxes upon his left arose as one man and 
stood while their impressive numbers were this time care- 
fully counted by the clerk. The tally took some time. 

" Opposed, the same sign ! " The Elder barked out the 
words like a challenge. Again the straggling group be- 
hind Hampstead arose. The minister himself stood up. 
As a member of the congregation, he had a right to vote, 
and he would protest to the last this injustice to him, this 
slander of All People's upon itself. 

Mrs. Burbeck could not stand, but raised her hand, so 
thin and shell-like that it trembled while she held the white 
palm up to view. 

Elder Burbeck saw this and noted with a slight addi- 
tional sense of shock that Rollie was now beside his mother 
and standing also to be counted with the Hampstead ad- 
herents. 



508 HELD TO ANSWER 

" The resolution is carried," said the clerk to the Elder. 

"The resolution " echoed Burbeck, his voice begin- 
ning to gather enormous volume. But when he had got 
this far, his utterance was arrested by the sudden action 
of his son, who remained standing in the aisle, with one 
hand grasping his mother's, and the other outstretched in 
some sort of appeal to him. 

" Father ! " the boy whispered hoarsely ; " don't an- 
nounce that vote ! Don't announce it ! " 

This startling interruption appeared to freeze the whole 
scene fast. The throaty, excited tones of the young man 
floated to the far corners of the auditorium, and again the 
sense of some impending terror forced itself deeper into 
the crowd-consciousness. 

"Don't announce it? What do you mean?" ejacu- 
lated the father in an irritated and widely audible whis- 
per. 

The suddenness of this outbreak and the astounding 
fact that it should come from his own flesh, had thrown 
the Elder completely off his stride. 

" Because," the young man faltered, his face white, his 
eyes wild and staring, " because it's wrong ! " 

The huge dominating figure of a man stood for a mo- 
ment nonplussed, wondering what hysteria could have 
overtaken his son ; but annoyance and stubborn determina- 
tion to proceed quickly manifested themselves upon his 
face. 

" Don't, father ! " pleaded the young man, advancing 
down the aisle, " Don't ! I've got something I must 
say!" 

By this time, Hampstead, quickly apprehensive, had 
stepped out from his pew and was seeking to grasp Rollie's 
arm ; but the excited young man avoided him, and stand- 
ing with one hand still appealing toward his father, and 
with the other pointing backward toward the minister, he 




" That man is innocent." Page 509. 



THE ELDER IN THE CHAIR 509 

announced with a sudden access of vocal- force : " That 
man is innocent." 

The words had a triumphant ring in them that echoed 
through the auditorium. 

" Innocent ? " 

The tone of the senior Burbeck was scornful in the ex- 
treme. Increasing anger at being thus interfered with, 
especially by Rollie had turned the Elder's face almost 
purple. " Young man," he commanded harshly, " you 
stand aside and let this church declare its will." 

" I will not stand aside," protested the son. " I will 
not let you, my father, do this great wrong. He for- 
bade me to speak ; but I will speak. Yes, no matter what 
happens, I must speak." 

The young man turned a frightened glance upon his 
mother. Mrs. Burbeck was gazing intently at her son, a 
look of shock giving way to one of comprehension and 
then a pitiful half-smile of encouragement, as if she urged 
him to go on and do his duty, whatever that involved. 

" That man," Rollie began afresh, his neck thrust for- 
ward desperately, while he pointed to the minister, who 
had stepped back once more as though he felt the purposes 
of God in operation and no longer dared to interfere; 
" that man is innocent. I am the thief. I stole the dia- 
monds. I did it to get the money to cover a defalcation at 
the bank. Fearful of the consequences, I turned to him in 
my distress. He got the money to restore what I had 
stolen. I put the diamonds in his box for an hour, and by 
a mistake he went off with the key. That explains all. 
When I returned from the cruise on the Bay and learned 
what had happened, I was paralyzed with fear. At first I 
did not even have the manhood to go and tell him how the 
diamonds got into his box. When I did, he made me keep 
the silence for fear the blow would kill my mother. It 
seemed to me that this was not a sufficient reason. But 



510 HELD TO ANSWER 

I was weak ; I was a coward. Yet the spectacle of seeing 
this man stand here day after day while his reputation was 
torn to pieces, unwavering and unyielding whether for the 
sake of my mother or such a worthless wretch as I am, or 
for the sake of his priestly vow, made me stronger and 
stronger. Yet I was not strong enough to speak. Not 
until to-night. Not until I saw my mother's hand tremble 
when she held it up to vote for him. I only came down 
here to stand beside her. But one touch of hers compelled 
me to speak. I am prepared to assume my guilt before 
this church and before the world. I was a defaulter, and 
John Hampstead saved me. I was a thief, and he saved 
me. I was a coward, and he made me brave enough at 
least for this. I tell you, the man is innocent, absolutely 
innocent. He is so good that you should fall down and 
worship him." 

Rollie's confession in detail was addressed to the con- 
gregation as a whole, and he finished with his arms ex- 
tended and chest thrown forward like a man who had 
bared his soul. 

After standing for a moment motionless, his eyes 
turned to his mother, and with a low cry he dashed to 
where Hampstead was bending over her. She lay chalk- 
white and motionless, one hand in her lap, the other swing- 
ing pendant, the hand that had just been raised to vote. 
The eyes were closed ; the lips half parted ; the expression 
of her face, if expression it might be termed, one of utter 
exhaustion of vital forces. 

For a moment the young man stood transfixed by the 
spectacle of what he had done. How shadow thin she 
looked! This was not the figure of a woman, but some 
exquisite pattern of the spiritual draped limply in this 
chair. 

And yet, as if affected by his appealing gaze, the fea- 
tures moved, some of the looseness departed from the 



THE ELDER IN THE CHAIR 511 

corners of the mouth, the eye-lashes fluttered and a deli- 
cate tint showed upon the cheek, disappeared, came again, 
and went away again ; but with each appearance lingered 
longer. The lips moved too as if a breath were passing 
through them ; almost indistinguishably and yet surely, the 
bosom of her dress stirred, collapsed, and stirred again. 
The young man had rather unconsciously seized both 
wilted hands, forcing the minister somewhat away in or- 
der to do so. It was his mother. He had struck her de- 
fenseless head this blow. Unmindful of the sudden awe 
of silence about him, followed by murmurings, ejacula- 
tions, and then a universal stir of feet, the blank looks, 
the questionings, the staring wonder with which neighbor 
looked to neighbor, the young man watched intently that 
stirring of the mother breast until it became regular and 
rhythmical. 

The lips were moving now again ; but this time as if in 
the formation of words. Rollie bent low, until his ear 
was close. 

" Let me think, let me think," the lips murmured 
wearily. " My son was a defaulter and a thief John 
Hampstead knew. John Hampstead showed him the bet- 
ter way." She turned her head weakly and eased her 
body in the chair, as if to make even this slight effort at 
conversation less laborious, and then began to speak once 
more: 

" But he was not strong enough to walk that better way, 
so John Hampstead took the burden upon his own shoul- 
ders and carried it until my boy was strong enough to bear 
it for himself." 

Sufficient strength had returned for one of her hands to 
exert a pressure on the hand that held it. 

" Yes, mother," Rollie breathed fervently into her ear. 

" But now," and the voice gained more volume, " but 
now he is strong enough. He has done a brave and noble 



HELD TO ANSWER 

thing at last. I forget my shame in pride and gratitude to 
God for my son that was lost and is alive again forever 
more." 

The last tone flowed out upon the current of a long, 
wavering sigh, which seemed to take the final breath from 
her body. 

" Yes, mother ! " the young man urged anxiously, put- 
ting an instinctive pressure upon the hands he held, as if to 
call the spirit back into her again. There was an instant 
in which he felt that it was gone. She had left him. But 
the next instant he felt it coming back again like a tide 
and stronger, much stronger, so that there was real color 
in her cheeks, and then the eyes opened and looked at him 
with a clear and steady light, with the glow of love and 
admiration in them. 

"Thank God!" murmured the voice of Hampstead 
hoarsely. " She is back. She will stay." 

" Yes," Mrs. Burbeck affirmed, faintly but valiantly, 
turning from the face of her son to that of the minister 
with a look of inexpressible gratitude and devotion. 
" Yes, I am back," she smiled reassuringly, " and to stay. 
I never had so much reason so much to live for as 
now." 

The enactment of this scene at the chair, so intense and 
so significant, could have consumed no more than two 
minutes of time. The congregation, keenly alive to the 
effect the disclosure must have upon the life of the mother, 
was in a state to witness with the most perfect understand- 
ing every detail of the action about the invalid's chair. 
While the issue was in doubt, the audience remained in an 
agony of suspense and apprehension. 

With the sudden look of relief upon the face of the 
minister, followed presently by a luminous smile of pure 
joy while his shoulders straightened to indicate the rolling 
off of the burden of his fears, the suspense for the congre- 



THE ELDER IN THE CHAIR 513 

gation was completely ended. Reactions began immedi- 
ately to occur. 

Far up in the gallery a woman laughed, an excited, hys- 
terical, brainless laugh, and every eye darted upon her in 
reproach. Then down in front somewhere near the first 
line of the Burbeck adherents, a man began to sob, 
hoarsely and with a wailing note, as if in utter despair. 
Again every eye swung from the woman who had laughed 
to the man who was crying. As they fell on him, he stood 
up. It was Elder Brooks, the man who had written the 
resolution declaring the pastoral relation severed. With 
streaming eyes he was hurrying toward Hampstead. But 
now other women were laughing hysterically, other men 
were sobbing. Everywhere was exclamation, movement, 
and a sudden impulse toward the minister. The people in 
the gallery came down, crowding dangerously, to the rail. 
On the main floor little rivulets of excited human beings 
trickled out from the pews and streamed down the aisles. 
The first to reach Hampstead was a woman. She caught 
his hand and kissed it. Elder Brooks came next. He 
flung an arm about the minister's neck, but instead of look- 
ing at him or addressing him, covered his face in shame. 

But it was no longer possible to describe what any one 
individual was doing. The entire audience had become a 
sea which at first rolled toward Hampstead and then 
swirled and tossed its individual waves laughing, cheer- 
ing or applauding frothily. In mutual congratulation 
men shook each other's hands and some appeared even 
to shake their own hands. Women kissed or flung their 
arms about one another. Two thirds of the main floor 
was devoid entirely of people. The other third was a 
struggling eddy in which the tall form of the ex-pastor, 
for they had. just voted him out of the pulpit, stood re- 
ceiving every one who reached him with a sad kind of 
graciousness. 



514 HELD TO ANSWER 

Songs broke out. For a time the people in the gallery 
were singing: "Blessed be the tie that binds." Those 
below sobbed through " My faith looks up to Thee ", and 
presently all were singing " Nearer my God to Thee, 
nearer to Thee." This continued until the gathering 
seemed to sing itself somewhat out of its hysteria; and 
then, weaving to and fro, the tide began to ebb back up the 
aisles and into the pews again. 

At first the people thought they had done this of their 
own accord, but later it appeared that it was Hampstead 
who was making them do it. He was a leader. In the 
temporary chaos, his will alone retained its poise, and it 
was the suggestion in the glance of his eye and finally in 
the gestures of his hands that sent them back to their 
seats. 

When the singing stopped, and the audience sat some- 
what composed and considering what should happen next, 
the minister remained master of the situation. 

To protect himself somewhat from the surging waves of 
humanity, Hampstead had' stepped upon the platform. 
He stood now with one hand resting easily upon the back 
of the chair beside the communion table. The chair was 
not empty, for it contained the huge, collapsed bulk of the 
Elder, the upper half of whose body had sunk sideways 
upon the end of the table, with his huge red face fenced off 
from view by one arm, as if to shroud the shame of his 
features. He was inert and "still. The fragile human 
orchid in the chair had not been more motionless than he. 
The tip of an ear, one bald knob of his head, were all that 
showed to those in front ; and the other arm was extended 
across the table, the fingers overhanging the edge of it. 

The spectacle of the man lying crushed and broken upon 
the very table from which so often he had administered 
the communion, cast a deepening spell over all. But it 
also forced on all a thought of sympathy for this rashly 



THE ELDER IN THE CHAIR 515 

misguided man, who as a spiritual leader of this church 
had shown himself so utterly lacking in spiritual discern- 
ment. This was quite in keeping with John Hampstead's 
mood. 

" Our very first emotion," the minister began, " must 
be one of sympathy for this well-meaning brother of ours 
who has been the unfortunate victim of a series of mis- 
takes in which his has been by no means the greatest. 
While he sits before us overcome with humiliation and re- 
morse, Elder Burbeck will pardon me if I speak for a mo- 
ment as if he were not here. I wish to urge upon you all 
that no one least of all myself should reproach him 
for the thing which he has done. I have never doubted 
that he was acting in all good conscience. The succession 
of events, once it had begun to march, has been so remark- 
able that now, looking back, we must each and all of us 
feel how puny are men and women to resist the winds of 
circumstance which blow upon them. 

'" To me, granting the beginning of this strange series 
of events for which I am at least in part to blame, it seems 
now that all the rest has been inevitable. I think we 
should reproach no one. Certainly I shall not. Instead, 
I am thinking that it is a time for great rejoicing. That 
mother who has so many times shown us the better way, 
has shown it to-night. Looking up to her son whose act 
of moral courage, witnessing to the new character that he 
has been building, has made possible the happy climax of 
this tragic hour looking up to him she has said : ' I 
never had so much to live for as now.' That should be 
the feeling of each one of us. 

" The events of to-night must have been graven deeply 
into all our hearts. None of us can ever be quite the 
same. Each must start afresh, with our lives enriched by 
the lesson and by the experiences of this hour. 

" It has brought to me the keenest suffering, the bit- 



5i6 HELD TO ANSWER 

terest disappointment, that I have ever known. It has 
brought to me also a deepening faith in the marvelous 
power of God to overrule the most untoward incidents to 
His glory. It has brought to me also the greatest gift that 
any man can have upon the side of his earthly relations, 
a joy so great, so supreme, so ineffable that I cannot speak 
farther than to say to you that it is mine to-night ; and that 
you look into my eyes at the happiest moment I have ever 
known." 

There was a movement in the gallery. A tall woman, 
heavily veiled, with an air of unmistakable distinction 
about her, arose and mounted the aisle step by step to the 
stairway leading downward. 

Desiring with all the violent impetuosity of her nature 
to break out with the truth that would vindicate the man 
she loved so hopelessly and had involved so terribly, 
Marien had nevertheless been true to her vow of silence. 
But she had brought Rollie Burbeck to this meeting, and 
she had kept him there. At the critical moment she had 
sent him down to stand beside his mother, until the young 
man's clay-like soul at last had fluxed and fused into the 
moulding of a man. Having seen the mischief she had 
wrought undone, so far as anything done ever is undone, 
she was leaving now, when the minister had begun to 
speak of what she could not bear to hear. 

Hampstead's gaze watched the receding figure, and a 
poignant regret for her smote in upon him in the midst of 
all his joy. 

Desperately, with that enormous resolution of which 
she was capable, Marien Dounay was stepping undemon- 
stratively out of his life. But as she went, he knew that 
the verdict pronounced upon him by the court was one 
now pronounced upon her. All through life she would be 
held to answer for the love she had slain for the sake of 
her ambition. 



THE ELDER IN THE CHAIR 517 

Of those who followed the eye of the minister as it 
marked the departure of the woman from the gallery, 
some, of course, recognized her, and for a moment they 
may have been puzzled over the mystery of the part she 
had played in that moving drama, the last act of which 
was now drawing to its end before them; but the minister 
was speaking again : 

" It seems to me best for us all," he was saying, " to 
disperse quietly, to go each to his or her own home, to our 
own families, into the deeper recesses of our own hearts, 
to ponder that through which we have passed and plan for 
each the future duty. 

" Upon one point I am inclined to break into homily. 
The great lesson which I myself have learned can be best 
expressed in the verdict of the court at my preliminary 
hearing : ' Held to Answer/ It seems to me there is a 
great philosophy of life in that. In the crowding events 
of the week past, I have been ' Held to Answer ' for many 
mistakes of mine. Some of you must find yourselves held 
to answer now for the manner in which you have borne 
yourselves. Our young brother, Rollie Burbeck, for 
whom we feel so deeply and whose courage to-night we 
have so greatly admired, will be held to answer to-morrow 
before his associates and the world for his past mistakes 
and for his proposals for the future. But we shall be held 
to answer also for our blessings and our opportunities. A 
great joy has come to me. The woman I have loved de- 
votedly, but perhaps undeservingly, for years, has come 
thundering half way across the continent to stand beside 
me here to-night. She brings me great happiness, an in- 
creasing opportunity to do good. For that also I shall be 
held to answer, since joys are not given to us for selfish 
use, but that we may enlarge and give them back again. 

" And now, though I am no longer your pastor, you 
will permit me, I am sure, to lift my hand above you for 



Si8 HELD TO ANSWER 

this last time and invoke the benediction of God which is 
eternal upon the life of every man and woman here to- 
night." 

" But," faltered Elder Brooks, starting up, his voice 
trembling, " that was our great mistake, our great sin. 
iYou are to be our pastor again ! " 

The minister shook his head slowly and decisively. 
The Elder stared in dumb, helpless amazement, while a 
murmur of dissent rose from the congregation, but 
quieted before the upraised hand of the minister. 

" It seems to me," said Hampstead, speaking in tones 
of deep conviction and yet with humility, " that God has 
declared the pulpit of All People's vacant; that both you 
and I are to be held to answer for our mutual failure by a 
stern decree of separation. For there is another lesson 
which has been graven deeply in my life. It is this : No 
man can go back. No life ever flows up stream. The 
tomb of yesterday is sealed. The decision of this congre- 
gation is irrevocable. Less than a quarter of an hour has 
passed ; but you are not the same, and I am not the same." 

In the minister's solemn utterance, the message of the 
inevitable consequence of what had happened was carried 
into every consciousness. There was no longer any pro- 
test. The congregation bowed, mutely submissive, while 
John Hampstead pronounced the benediction of St. Jude : 

" Now unto him that is able to guard you from stum- 
bling, and to set you before the presence of his glory with- 
out blemish in exceeding joy, to the only God our Saviour, 
through Jesus Christ, our Lord, be glory, majesty, domin- 
ion and power before all time, and now, and forever more. 
Amen." 

The meeting was over. But the audience sat uncer- 
tainly in the pews, with expectant glances at Elder Bur- 
beck. It seemed as if he should rouse and say something. 
John, in recognition of the naturalness of this impulse. 



THE ELDER IN THE CHAIR 519 

turned and laid his hand upon the shoulder of the man. 

" My brother," he began, and applied a gentle pressure. 
But something in the unyielding bulk of the man made 
him stop with a puzzled look, after which he turned and 
glanced toward Mrs. Burbeck. Already Rollie was push- 
ing her chair forward, her face expressing both anxiety 
and love. She had been eager to go to her husband be- 
fore, but consideration for his own pride, which would re- 
sent a demonstration, had withheld her. She touched 
first the outstretched drooping finger. 

" Hiram ! " she breathed softly, coaxingly, " Hiram ! " 

Receiving no response, Mrs. Burbeck drew the obscur- 
ing hand gently from before the face. Her own features 
were a study. It was curious of Hiram to act this way. 
He was a man of stern purpose. Having been over- 
whelmingly shamed by his error, it would have been like 
him to stand bravely and confess his wrong. But his 
parted lips had no purpose in their form at all. The red- 
ness of his skin had changed to a purple. She laid her 
fingers on his cheek and held them there, for a moment, 
curiously and apprehensively. Then a startled expression 
crossed her face, and a little exclamation broke from her 
lips. Instead of leaning forward, she drew back and 
lifted her eyes helplessly to the minister. 

Hampstead met her questioning, pitiful glance with a 
sad shake of the head and affirmation in his own tear- 
filling eyes. He had sensed the solemn truth from the 
moment of that first touch upon the huge, unresponsive 
shoulder. 

For an appreciable interval the face of the woman was 
white and set and unbelieving, and then she folded her 
hands and bowed her head in mute acknowledgment of the 
widowhood which had come upon her. 

With the audience aghast and breathless in sympathetic 
understanding, Hampstead looked down upon the silent 



520 HELD TO ANSWER 

figures where they posed like a sculptured group, the upper 
bulk of the man unmoving upon the table, the woman un- 
moving in the chair, and behind the chair, the son, also 
bowed and motionless. 

Hiram Burbeck was dead. He, too, had been held to 
answer, but before the highest court, for his harsh 
legalism, for his unsympathetic heart, for his blind leader- 
ship of the blind. 

How strange were the issues of life! This leaflike 
shadow of a woman, her mortal existence hanging by a 
thread, had withstood the shock for which the minister 
had feared and risen strong above it. She still had 
strength to bear and strength to give. But the proud, 
stern father had crumpled and died. 

Again there was the sound of sobbing in the church; 
but the intimates of Mrs. Burbeck quickly gathered round 
and screened the group of mourners from the eyes of the 
people who filed quietly out of the building. For a time 
the steady tramp of feet upon the gallery stairs, with the 
snort and cough of motor-cars outside, resounded harshly, 
and then the church was emptied. Rollie had taken his 
mother away. Rose, Dick, and Tayna were gone. The 
huge chair by the end of the communion table was emptied 
of its burden. That, too, was gone. All the wreckage, 
all the past, was gone. 

The old sexton stood sadly by the vestibule door, his 
hand upon the light switch, waiting the pleasure of his 
pastor for the last time. 

Absently, John Hampstead climbed the pulpit stairs and 
stood leaning on the pulpit itself, surveying in farewell the 
empty pews and the empty, groined arches. They had 
stood for something that he had tried to do and failed; 
but he would try again more humbly, more in the fear of 
God, more in the spirit of one who had turned failure into 
victory. 



THE ELDER IN THE CHAIR 521 

Standing thus, looking thus, reflecting thus, John heard 
a soft step upon the pulpit stair. It was Bessie, who had 
lingered in appreciative silence, the faithful, indulgent 
companion of her lover's mood. As she approached, the 
rapt man swung out his arm to enfold her, and they stood 
together, both leaning upon the pulpit. 

" To-night one ministry has ended," John said pres- 
ently ; " to-morrow another shall begin." 

" And it will be a better ministry," breathed Bessie 
softly, " because there are two of us." 

" And they twain shall become one flesh" 



THE END 



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