xt7000000102 https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt7000000102/data/mets.xml Dixon, Thomas, 1864-1946. 1911  books b92-201-30752164 English Doubleday, Page, : Garden City, N.Y. : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Root of evil  : a novel / by Thomas Dixon ; illustrated by George Wright. text Root of evil  : a novel / by Thomas Dixon ; illustrated by George Wright. 1911 2002 true xt7000000102 section xt7000000102 

lHe turned and saw Nan"




        A NOVEL

           AUTHOR OF
      ''THE ONE WOMAN,' ETC.







            PUBLISHED, JANUARY, I9I1


        MY FATHER

 This page in the original text is blank.



        BoOK I--THE SEED

A Star Boarder
Things Beyond Price
A Lovers' Quarrel
MNr. Bivens Calls
An Issue is Forced
The Forgotten Man
A Vision

      Boox II-THE ROOT

An Old Perfume .
An Intruder
A Straight Tip
Every Man's Shadows
Gathering Clouds
The Storm Breaks
At the King's Command
A Ray of Sunlight
Beneath the Skin
The Demigod

   I I 0
I '43
   I 53

i- PI-_ X


  1 5



(I"EL1 It                                  PAGE
   XI. The Lamp of Aladdin                 I87
   XII. Temptation         .   .         .  201
 XIII. The Forbidden Land.                 209
 XIV. An Aftermath            .            2 21
 - XV. Confession         .   .      .     230
 XVI. The Unbidden Guest.                  235
 XVII. Some Inside Facts  .                242
XVIII. The Dance of Death .                259
XIX. The Last Illusion   .                272
  XX. The Parting of the Ways .            287
  XXI. A Plea for Justice      .      .    303

           BooK  III - TnE  FLOWER
    I. The Devil Smiles       .   .       3I5
    II. Beside Beautiful Waters            321
    III. The Tempter's Voice    .           333
    IV. The Mockery of the Sun              348
    V. A Trump Card .                      353
    VI. Through Purple Curtains.            366
  VII. The Land of the Sky         .       374
  VIII. The White Messenger    .    .      392
  IX. The Eyes of Pity       .    .       402
    X. An Epilogue   .    .    .   .    .  4o7



" He turned and saw Nan"  .           Frontispiece
                                         rACMNC PACE
` ' I was seeing a vision, little pal' ID    I04

"He hurled him down the steps"      .        ISO

"' I must save her. I must be cunning' "     284

" Nan looked at him in despair"              386

 This page in the original text is blank.





  SCENE: New York and the Mountains of North carolina
               TIME: z898 to 1907

JAMES STUART, a young Southerner in New York.
NAN PRIMROSE, his fiance.
MRS. PRIMROSE, her mother.
JOGLN C. CALHOUN BIVENs, a millionaire.
DR. HENRY WOODMAN, who loves his n-eighbour.
HARRIET, his daughter.
His MAJESTY, the King of America.



              ]BOOR t-,Ce ZeCD

                   CHAPTER I

                   A STAR BOARDER

  At the end of a warm spring day in New York, James
Stuart sat in the open window of his room on Washing-
ton Square, smiling. With a sense of deep joy he
watched the trees shake the raindrops from their new
emerald robes, and the flying clouds that flecked the
Western sky melt into seas of purple and gold.
  A huckster turned into Fourth Street, crying:
  " Straw - berries! Straw - berries! "
  And the young lawyer laughed lazily.
  The chatter of the sparrows, the shouts of children
in the Square and the huckster's drawling call seemed
the subtones of a strangely beautiful oratorio of nature
into which every sound of earth had softly melted.
Even the roar of the elevated trains on Sixth Avenue
and the screech of their wheels as the cars turned the
corner of the filthy street in the rear were music. A
secret joy filled the world. Nothing could break its
spell -not even the devilish incessant rattle of the
machine hammers flattening the heads of the rivets
on the huge steel warehouse of the American Chemical
Company rising across the avenue. The music he


The Root of Evil

heard was from within, and the glory of life was shining
from his eyes.
  Again the huckster's cry rang over the Square:
  "Straw -- berries! Straw --berries!"
  The dreamer closed his eses and smiled. A flood of
tender memories stole into his heart from the sunlit
fields of the South.  He had   gone hunting wild
strawberries with Nan Primrose on the hills at home in
North Carolina the day he first knew that he loved her.
  How beautiful she was that day in the plain blue
cotton dress which fitted her superb young figure to
perfection! How well he remembered every detail of
that ramble over the red hills - he could hear now the
whistle of a bob white sitting on the fence near the
spring where they lunched, calling to his mate. As
Nan nestled closer on the old stile, they saw the little
brown bird slip from her nest in a clump of straw, lift
her head, and softly answer.
  "Look!" Nan had whispered excitedly. "There's
her nest!"
  He recalled distinctly his tremor of sympathetic ex-
citement as her warm hand drew him to the spot. With
peculiar vividness he remembered the extraordinary
moisture of the palm of her hand trembling with eager
interest as he counted the eggs - twenty beauties. But
above all memories stood out one! As he bent close
above her he caught for the first time in his life the
delicate perfume of her dark rich hair and felt the thrill
of its mystery.
  "It's their little home, isn't it, Jim!" she exclaimed,
  "I hope I can build as snug a nest for you some day,
Nan!" he whispered gravely.
  And when she stood silent and blushing, he made
the final plunge. Looking straight into her dark eyes
he had said:



                  A Star Boardei.                 5

   "I love you, dear -Nan! "
   As she stood very still, looking down in silence, with
a throb of fear and aching tenderness he dared to slip his
arm around her waist and kiss the trembling lips. And
then he noticed for the first time a deep red strawberry
stain in the corner of her mouth. In spite of her strug-
gles he laughingly insisted on kissing it away -- a fact
which led to his first revelation of her character -
could he ever forget the glory and wonder of it! She
had seized his arms, gasping for breath.
  "Don't-don't, Jim-I can't stand that any
more!" And then as a dreamy smile stole into her
face she suddenly threw her own arms around his neck
in passionate tenderness, returning with interest every
kiss he had taken
  " Straw-berries!"
  The man looked up and drawled his familiar cry.
  "Yes - Yes!" he shouted. "Two boxes. Put them
on the stoop - and keep the change!"
  He threw the man a silver dollar, and the white teeth
of the Italian signalled a smile of thanks as he bowed
low, lifting his dirty cap in acknowledgment.
  Nor was Nan's beauty merely a memory, it was the
living presence, the source of the joy that filled his soul
to overflowing to-day, for she had grown more beautiful
than ever since her mother had moved to New York.
  He had always believed that the real reason in the
back of Mrs. Primrose's shallow head for this move to
the North had been the determination to break his
engagement and make a more brilliant marriage for
Nan. And so when they left he followed.
  The mother had always professed for him unbounded
loyalty and admiration. But he had never been de-
ceived. He knew that INIrs. Primrose lied as she
breathed - politely, but continuously - by her in-


The Root of Evil

voluntary muscles. Day and night since they had
reached New York she had schemed for Nan. She had
joined every society, club, and coterie into which she
could buy, push, or manceuvre her way. She had used
her Revolutionary ancestry and high social standing
in the old South as the entering wedge and had finally
succeeded in forcing her way into at least one charmed
circle of the rich and powerful through the Daughters
of the American Revolution.
  She had leased a house in the fashionable neighbour-
hood of Gramercy Park, and to meet the extraordinary
expense, began a careful and systematic search for rich
young men to whom she could let two floors. Stuart
had seen through her scheme at once - especially as
she had insisted with increasing protestations of love
that the engagement be kept a secret until they were
ready to marry.
  He was sure in his heart that Nan had never joined
in those plans of her mother, though he had wished that
she might have shown a little more strength in resist-
ing them. He trusted her implicitly, and yet she was
so beautiful he couldn't see how any man with red blood
in his veins could resist her. And he had spent two
miserable years. Every time her mother had come
near, purring and smiling, he had always expected to
collide with a rival as he went out the door.
  Well, he was going to win at last, and the world was
full of music! He had the biggest surprise of life in
store for Nan - something no true woman's heart could
resist. He had succeeded after incredible difficulties
in secretly building a cottage by the sea in Brooklyn.
Its lawn sloped to the water's edge, and a trim boat
lay nodding at the dock. He had been out of town
two weeks - ostensibly on law business in Balti-
more - in fact he had spent the time putting the


A Star Boarder


finishing touches on this home. He had planted hedges,
fruit trees, vines and flowers, and covered every bare
inch of soil with fresh green sod. Neither -Mrs. Prim-
rose nor Nan had the faintest suspicion of what he had
been doing. He had written several letters to Nan and
a friend had mailed them in Baltimore.
  To-morrow he would lead his sweetheart into this
holy of holies of Life -the home Love had built.
He could see now the smile of tenderness break over
her proud face as he should hand her the keys and ask
her to fix the wedding day.
  No matter on what his eye rested, he could see only
Beauty, Glory, Sunlight!
  An assortment of idlers, tramps, and thieves had
drifted into the Square and crowded its seats. A
drunken woman, her slouchy black dress bedraggled
and drenched from the rain, lurched across the walk,
dropped on a bench and sat muttering curses at a
carriage on the north side. He had often looked at
those flashing, windows in the millionaire's row beside
Fifth Avenue and then at the grim figures of the human
wolves and reptiles that crawled into the Square from
below Fourth Street, and wondered what might happen
if they should really meet. But to-day he gazed with
unseeing eyes. There was on all the earth no poverty,
no crime, no shame, no despair, no pain, no conflict.
The splendour of the sunset was in his soul and the world
was athrob, with joy.
  His reveries were broken by a timid knock on the
door and a faint call:
  " Jim! "
  "Come inl" he cried.
  "You're not a bit glad to see me," the soft voice
said. "I've been standing out there for ages!"
  "Forgive me, Sunshine, I must have been dreaming,"


The Root of Evil

Stuart pleaded, leaping from his seat and seizing her
hand. "I'm awfully glad to see you!"
  "Then, don't call me that name again," she pouted.
  "Why not"
  "Because it's undignified. All nicknames are."
  "But isn't it beautiful"
  "It would be if my hair wasn't red and I didn't have
freckles and was older," she protested, looking away to
hide her emotion.
  "But your hair isn't quite red. It's just the colour
of the gold in honeycomb," he answered, gently touch-
ing her dishevelled locks - "besides, those few little
freckles are becoming on your pink and white skin -
and you are nearly fifteen."
  "Well, my hair is red enough to make me think you're
teasing when you call me Sunshine," she replied
  "Then I won't call you that any more. I'll just
say, little pal - how's that "
  "That's better!" she said with a smile and sigh.
  "Oh, Jim, I've been so dreadfully lonely since you
were away! Where did you go And why did you
stay so long And why didn't you write me more
than one little letter And why didn't you answer
the one I wrote in reply - You know I'm almost an
orphan anyhow. Papa spends nearly all his time at
the factory, the drug store, the dispensary, and visiting
his patients. I declare, Jim, I'll die if you go away
again. I just can't stand it." She dropped at last
into a chair exhausted.
  Stuart smilingly took her hand:
  "Lonely, Miss Chatterbox -when that big father
of yours worships the very ground you walk on!"
  "Yes, I know he does, Jim, and I love him, too, but
you've no idea how dreadfully still the house is when



A Star Boarder

you are gone. Oh, say! I'll tell you what I want - tell
me you'll do what I ask-promise me  Say you will"'
   "What is it"
   "I want you to be a real boarder, and eat with us!
And when Papa's gone, I'll sit at the head of the table,
smile and pour your tea. You'll do it, won't you
Say yes - of course you will!"
  "But,my7dear child, your father don't take board-
  "But he will if I ask him. I'll beg and tease him
till he gives in."
  "Oh, I couldn't think of letting you put him to all
that trouble."
  "But it wouldn't be any trouble. You see I'd keep
house for you!"
  "That would be very nice, dear, but I'm sure your
father would draw the line at a real boarder. I'd never
have gotten this beautiful room with that big old-fash-
ioned open fireplace in your home if it hadn't happened
that our fathers fought each other in the war, and be-
came friends one day on a big battle-field. You see, my
father took such a liking to yours that I came straight
to find him when I reached this big town. It's been a
second home to me."
  "Be our boarder and I'll make it a real home for you,
Jim! " she pleaded.
   Ah    you'll be making a real home some day for
one of those boys I saw at your birthday party - the
tall dark one I think"
  "No. He doesn't measure up to my standard."
  "What ails him"
  "He's a coward. My hero must be brave - for I'm
timid. "
  "Then it will be that fat blond fellow with a jolly



The Root of Evil

   "No, he's a fibber. My Prince, when he comes, must
be truthful. It's so hard for me always to tell the
  "Then it will be that dreamy looking one of fifteen
you danced with twice"
  "No, he's too frail. My hero must be strong -for
I am weak. And he must have a big, noble ideal of
life; for mine is very small - just a little home nest,
and a baby, and the love of one man!"
  Stuart looked at her intently while a mist gathered
in his eyes:
  "I'm not sure about that being such a very small
ideal, girlie!"
  "But oh, my, I've forgotten what I came running
home for! Papa sent me to ask you to please come
down to the factory right away. He wants to see you
on a very important matter. It must be awfully im-
portant. He looked so worried. I don't think I ever
saw him worried before."
  "I'll go at once," Stuart said, closing the window
and blowing a kiss to the girl as he hurried down the
  He strode rapidly across town toward the Bowery,
through Fourth Street, wondering what could have
happened to break the accustomed good humour of the
  "Worry's something so utterly foreign to his char-
acter," the young lawyer mused.
  The doctor had long since retired from the practise
of medicine as a profession, and only used it now as
his means of ministering to the wants of his neighbours.
His neighbours were a large tribe, however, scattered
all the way from the cellars and dives of Water Street
to the shanties and goat ranges of the Upper Harlem.
Stuart had never met a man so full of contagious health.



A Star Boarder

He was a born physician. There was healing in the
touch of his big hand. Healing light streamed from
his brown eyes, and his iron-gray beard sparkled with
it. His presence in a sick-room seemed to fill it with
waves of life, and his influence over the patients to
whom he ministered was little short of hypnotic.
  "Christian Science is no new doctrine, my boy," he haad
said one day in answer to a question about the new cult.
  "I thought it was," Stuart answered in surprise.
  "No. All successful physicians practise Christian
Science. The doctor must heal first the mind. I can
kill a man with an idea. So often I have cured him
with an idea. If I can succeed with ideas, I do so. If
there's no mind to work on, why then I use pills."
  The young man stopped impatiently at Broadway,
unable to cross. A little girl of ten, pale and weak and
underfed, staggering under a load of clothing from a
sweatshop on the East Side, had been knocked down
trying to cross the street to deliver her burden to a
Broadway clothier. A long line of cars stood blocked
for a quarter of a mile, every car packed with human
freight, every seat filled, every inch of standing room
jammed with men and women holding to straps. Tired
office boys even clung to the rear guards at the risk
of death from a sudden collision with the car behind.
  They were always crowdded so at this hour. And
yet Stuart recalled with a curious touch of irony the fate
of the indomitable old man, Jake Sharp, who had fought
for years to force this franchise for a public necessity
through the city government. His reward was a suit
of stripes, shame, dishonour, death. No one knew,
or cared, or remembered it now. A new set of corrupt
law makers took the place of the old ones, their palms
still itching for money, money, money, always more



12             The Root of Evil
  "And men who seek to serve the people must grease
their itching palms or make way for those who will! " he
muttered, fighting his way across. "A tough town -
this, for a young lawyer with ideals. I wonder how
long I'll hold out"
  Stuart found the doctor standing at the door of his
factory, shaking hands and chatting with his employees
as they emerged from the building at the close of a day's
work. A plain old-fashioned brick structure just off
the Bowery was this factory, and across the front ran
a weatherbeaten sign which had not been changed for
more than fifty years:


  The doctor's father had established the business
fifty-two years ago, and the son, who bore the father's
name, had succeeded to its management on his death,
which occurred just after the return of the younger man
with his victorious regiment from their last campaign
with Grant before Petersburg and Appomattox.
  He had given up the practise of medicine after the
war, and devoted himself to the business of which his
father had been justly proud. The house of Henry
Woodman had been a pioneer in the establishing of
a trade in pure drugs. In the time of the elder Wood-
man, adulteration and humbug were the rule, not the
exception, in the business.
  Woodman's stalwart figure towered in the doorway
above his employees as they passed into the street.
For every man, boy, and girl he had a nod, a smile, or
a pleasant word. It was plain to see that the employer
in this case had made his business the way to the hearts
of the people who served him.


A Star Boarder

  He took Stuart's hand in his big crushing grip and
  "Have you any engagement this evening"
  Stuart smiled and hesitated.
  "A girl-I see!" laughed the doctor. "Well, I'll
get through by nine o'clock. You can give me the
three hours till then It's a matter of importance,
and I want your advice."
  " My advice - you ! " Stuart exclaimed.
  "Yes. You're the brightest young lawyer I know
in town. I've gotten along without lawyers so far, but
I guess I'm in for it now. You can come with me"
  "Of course," Stuart answered hurriedly. "Forgive
my apparent hesitation, doctor. I was just surprised
at your worry. What's the matter"
  The older man was silent a moment and then slowly
  "I'll tell you later. I wish to show you something
before I ask your advice on a question of law; we must
hurry. We will finish by nine and you will be a little
late for dinner.  But if she loves you, you can telephone
and she will wait. It will be all right"
  Stuart coloured.
  "Of course, it will be all right - besides, she doesn't
know yet that I've returned."
  The doctor handed the young lawyer a letter which
he opened and read hastily.
                               No. 6o GRAMERCY PARx.
Dear Sir: I must have an answer to the proposition of the American
Chemical Company before noon to-morrow. After that hour the matter
will be definitely closed.
                               JNO. C. CALHOuN BIvENs.
 April a, 188g.

 Still looking at the letter he asked:
 "What does it mean"



14             The Root of Evil
  "An ultimatum from the Chemical Trust. I'll ex-
plain to you when you've seen something of my work
to-night. The first hour I want you to put in with
me at the dispensary."
  Stuart's eye rested on the embossed heading of the
letter, "No. 6o Gramercy Park," and he slowly crushed
the paper. It was the Primrose house, Nan's home!
Her mother had succeeded.
  Bivens, the new sensation in high finance, she had
established as her star boarder in his absence! Bivens,
his schoolmate at college - Bivens, the little razor-
back scion of poor white trash from the South who had
suddenly become a millionaire!
  His blood boiled with rage. He could see the soft,
cat-like movements of Mrs. Primrose and hear her
purring while she spun the web to entangle him with
Nan. As he turned and followed the doctor, he
laughed with sudden fierce determination.



               THINGS BEYOND PRICE

  The dispensary was Woodman's hobby. The old-
fashioned drug store stood on a corner of the Bovery,
and in the rear extension which opened on the side
street, he had established what he had laughingly called
his "Life Line, " a free dispensary where any man
needing medicine or a doctor's advice could have it
without charge if unable to pay.
  For ten years he had maintained the work at his own
expense. out of the profits of his store. The happiest
hours of his life he had spent here ministering to the
wants of his neighbours. He had come to be more
than consulting physician at the dispensary. He had
become the friend and counsellor of thousands.
  The waiting room was crowded, and the line extended
into the street. On the doctor's entrance the shadows
suddenly lifted. Men and women smiled and called
his name. He waved a cheerful salutation and hurried
to his place beside the assistant.
  For two hours Stuart saw him minister with patience
and skill to the friendless and the poor.  For each
a cheerful word, and the warm grasp of his big hand
with the prescription. The young lawyer watched with
curious interest the quickened step with which each one
left. The medicine had begun to work before the pre-
scription was filled. Waves of healing from a beautiful
spirit had entered the soul, and drooping heads were sud-
denly raised.


I6             The Root of Evil

  When the last applicant had gone, Stuart turned to
the doctor:
  "And what is the proposition which the distinguished
young head of the Chemical Trust has made you "
  "That I sell my business to them at their own valua-
tion and come into the Trust - or get off the earth."
  "And you wish my advice"
  " Yes."
  "What figure did he name"
  "More than its cash value."
  "Then you will accept, of course"
  "I would if there were not some things that can't be
reckoned in terms of dollars and cents. If I take stock
in the American Chemical Company I am a party to
their methods, an heir to their frauds."
  "Isn't fraud a rather harsh word, Doctor"
  "No. It's the truth."
  Stuart smiled good-naturedly.
  "Yet isn't the old r6gime of the small manufacturer
and the retailer doomed Isn't combination the new
order of modern life Will it pay you to fight a losing
  "The man who fights for the right can't lose."
  " Unless they fight trusts! " Stuart said smilingly.
"Bivens is not a man of broad culture, but he is a
very smooth young gentleman       "
  "He's a contemptible little scamp! " snapped the
older man. "When I took him into my drug store six
years ago, he didn't have a change of clothes. Now
he's a millionaire. How did he get it He stole a
formula I had used to relieve nervous headaches, mixed
it in water with a little poisonous colouring matter,
pushed it into the soda-fountain trade, made his first
half-million, organized the American Chemical Company
and blossomed into a magnate. And now this little


Things Beyond Price

soda-fountain pip threatens me with ruin unless I join
his gang and help him rob my neighbours. It happens
that I like my neighbours. And the more I see of this
city, the more thrilling its life becomes, the more wonder-
ful its opportunities. Opportunity means one thing to
me - quite another to Bivens. The world he lives in is
a small one. I live in God's big world. I belong to
no class. I know them all from the lonely multi-
millionaire on Murray Hill to his equally lonely brother
thief who crawls into his lair by the river. And I don't
envy one more than another. My business is to heal
the sick, not merely to make money. Thousands of
children die at my very door every summer who could
be saved by a single prescription if they could get it.
That's the thought that grips me when I begin to figure
the profits in this trade. I'm making a fair living. I
don't want any more out of my neighbours. I've
shown you some of them to-night."
  "I'll never forget them," Stuart broke in.
  "We used to cry over Uncle Tom's woes," the doctor
continued. "And yet there are more than five million
white people in America to-day who are the slaves
of poverty, cruel and pitiless, who haven't enough
clothes to keep warm, enough food to eat, and are
utterly helpless and forsaken in illness. The black
slave always had food and shelter, clothes and medicine.
My business is to heal the sick - mind you! Shall I
give it up to exploit them"
  "But could you not use your greater wealth for greater
good if you joined the trust" the lawyer asked.
  "No. What we need to-day is not merely more
money given to charity. We need more heart and soul,
manhood and womanhood, given in heroic service.
We need leaders whose voice shall rouse the conscience
of the nation that Justice shall be done."

I 7


The Root of Evil

   "But the point is, Doctor, are you sure that you are
on the side of Justice in this big business battle that's
now on between competition and combination" asked
the younger man, quietly.
  "What do you mean"
  "Why, that your building over there has an honour-
able history, but it's old, a little shabby, and, judged by
the standards of the new steel structures of the Trust
that are rising over the city, out-of-date. Won't they
make drugs more economically than you do and drive
you to the wall at last Isn't this new law of coopera-
tion the law of progress - in brief, the law of God "
  "That remains to be proven. I don't believe it."
  "Well, I do, and I think that if you fight, it will be
against the stars in their courses  
  "I'm going to fight," was the firm response.
  "And you wanted my advice," Stuart laughed.
  The doctor smiled at his own inconsistency.
  "Well, I know I'm right, and I wished you to back
me up. The law is on my side, isn't it"
  "The written law, yes. But you are facing a bigger
question than one of statutory law."
  "So I am, boy, so I am! That's why I gave you a
glimpse to-night of the world in which I live and work
and dream."
  "Bivens has put up to you a cold-blooded business
proposition      "
  "Exactly. And there are things that can't be bought
and sold. I am one of them!" The stalwart figure
rose in simple dignity, and there was a deep tremor
in his voice as he paused.
  "But I'm keeping you. It's nine o'clock - and
somebody's waiting - eh, boy"
  "Yes," Stuart answered apologetically. "I'm afraid
I've not been of much use to you to-night."



              Things Beyond Price                 I9
  The doctor bent closer, smiling:
  "I understand -of course! The angels are singing
in your heart this evening the old song of life that always
makes the world new and young and beautiful. Over
all ugliness the veil of the mystery of Love! The only
real things to-night for you - the throb of triumph
within your heart, the hovering presence of a woman's
face, the tenderness of her eyes, the tangled light in
her hair, the smile on her lips, the thrill of her voice,
the pride of her step, the glory of her form
  "Yes," Stuart echoed with elation.
  "And yet-it couldn't be measured in terms of
barter and sale -could it" The doctor gripped his
hand tenderly in parting.
  The smile died from the younger man's face and his
answer was scarcely audible:
  " No!"



                A LOVERS' QUARREL

  It was half past ten before Stuart reached Gramercy
Park. The wind had shifted to the southeast and a
cold, drizzling rain mixed with fog enveloped the city.
Somehow the chill found his heart. The windows of
.Nan's room were dark. For the first time in his life
he had called and found her out. He rang the door-
bell in a stupor of disappointment. For just a moment
the sense of disaster was so complete it was ridiculous.
  A maid answered at last and ushered him into the
dimly lighted parlour.
  "Miss Nan is at home, Berta" he asked eagerly.
  The little Danish maid smiled knowingly:
  " Na, but Meesis Primrose-"
  With a groan Stuart sank to a chair. The maid
turned up the lights and left the room. He looked
about with astonishment. Things had been happen-
ing with a vengeance during his absence. The entire
house had been redecorated. An oriental rug of daz-
zling medallion pattern was on the newly polished floor.
Instead of the set of Chippendale mahogany the Prim-
roses had brought from the South, a complete outfit
of stately gilded stuff filled the room, and heavy
draperies to match hung from the tall windows and
folding doors.
  On the table in the corner stood a vase filled with
gorgeous red roses. The air was heavy with their
perfume. It made him sick. The mother's velvet


A Lovers' Quarrel

hand he saw at once. Of course she had not borrowed
the money from Bivens. She was too shrewd for that.
But she had borrowed it beyond a doubt, and she had
evidently gone the limit of her credit without a moment's
hesitation. He wondered how far she had gotten
with Bivens. Could it be possible that Nan was with
him to-night No - preposterous!   He heard the
rustle of Mrs. Primrose's dress and saw the smile of
treacherous joy slowly working into position on her
plausible face before she entered the room.
  She greeted him with unusual effusion:
  " Oh, Jim, this is such a glorious surprise: Nan
didn't expect you till morning and she will be heart-
broken to have missed you even for a half hour. My
dear, dear boy, you have no idea how lonely both of us
have been without you the past two weeks."
  "You missed me too, Mrs. Primrose"
  " Of course, I missed you, Jim ! You've come to
be like one of us."
  She leaned close and purred the last sentence in the
softest feline accents. Stuart felt his nerves quiver
as the imaginary claws sank into his flesh, but he smiled
back his grateful answer.
  "It's so nice of you to say that."
  "What's more natural You know I've always
loved you next to Nan."
  She spoke with such fervour that Stuart shivered.
It was sinister. She evidently felt sure of his ruin. He
was too much dazed to find a reply, and she went on
  "We needed you here so much to help us fix up.
We've had the good luck to rent our second floor to
a young millionaire
  "Mr. Bivens, yes
  "Why, how did you know" she asked wit