Meet us on:
 
Entire Site
    Try our fun game

    Dueling book covers…may the best design win!

    Random Quote
    "He who is of calm and happy nature will hardly feel the pressure of age, but to him who is of an opposite disposition youth and age are equally a burden."
    More: Age quotes
     

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Follow us on Twitter

    Never miss a good book again! Follow Read Print on Twitter

    Act II

    • Rate it:
    • 1 Favorite on Read Print
    Launch Reading Mode Next Chapter
    Chapter 2
    Previous Chapter
    [Library of "The Towers," HEGAN's Long Island country place. A spacious room, furnished luxuriously, but with good taste. A large table, with lamp and books in the centre, and easy-chairs beside it. Up stage are French windows leading to a veranda, with drive below; a writing desk between the windows. Entrance right and left. A telephone stand left, and a clock on wall right.]

    [At rise: ANDREWS, standing by the table, opening some letters.]

    LAURA. [Enters from veranda.] Good afternoon, Mr. Andrews.

    ANDREWS. Good afternoon, Miss Hegan.

    LAURA. Has father come yet?

    ANDREWS. No; he said he'd he back about five.

    LAURA. Is he surely coming?

    ANDREWS. Oh, yes. He has an important engagement here.

    LAURA. He's working very hard these days.

    ANDREWS. He has a good deal on his mind just now.

    LAURA. It's this Grand Avenue Railroad business.

    ANDREWS. Yes. If it should go against him, it would confuse his plans very much.

    LAURA. Is the matter never going to be decided?

    ANDREWS. We're expecting the decision any day now. That's why he's so much concerned. He has to hold the market, you see . . .

    LAURA. The decision's liable to affect the market?

    ANDREWS. Oh, yes . . . very much, indeed.

    LAURA. I see. And then . . .

    'Phone rings.

    ANDREWS. Excuse me. Hello! Yes, this is Mr. Hegan's place. Mr. Montague? Why, yes; I believe he's to be here this afternoon. Yes . . . wait a moment . . . [To LAURA.] It's some one asking for Mr. Montague.

    LAURA. Who is it?

    ANDREWS. Hello! Who is this, please? [TO LAURA.] It's Mr. Bullen.

    LAURA. Mr. Bullen? I'll speak to him. [Takes 'phone.] Hello, Mr. Bullen ! This is Miss Hegan. I'm glad to hear from you. How are you? Why, yes, Mr. Montague is coming out . . . I expect him here any time. He was to take the three- five . . . just a moment. [Looks at clock.] If the train's on time, he's due here now. We sent to meet him. Call up again in about five minutes. Oh, you have to see him? As soon as that? Nothing wrong, I hope. Well, he couldn't get back to the city until after six. Oh, then you're right near us. Why don't you come over? . . . That's the quickest way. No; take the trolley and come right across. I'll be delighted to see you. What's that? Why, Mr. Bullen! How perfectly preposterous! My father doesn't blame you for what happened. Don't think of it. Come right along. I'll take it ill of you if you don't . . . truly I will. Yes; please do. You'll just have time to get the next trolley. Get off at the Merrick road, and I'll see there's an auto there to meet you. Very well. Good-bye. [TO ANDREWS.] Mr. Andrews, will you see there's a car sent down to the trolley to meet Mr. Bullen?

    ANDREWS. All right.

    [Exit.]

    LAURA. [Stands by table, in deep thought, takes a note from table and studies it; shakes her head.] He didn't want to come. He doesn't want to talk to me. But he must! Ah, there he is. [Sound of a motor heard. She waits, then goes to the window.] Ah, Mr. Montague !

    MONTAGUE. [Enters centre.] Good afternoon, Miss Hegan.

    LAURA. You managed to catch the train, I see.

    MONTAGUE. Yes. I just did.

    LAURA. It is so good of you to come.

    MONTAGUE. Not at all. I am glad to be here.

    LAURA. I just had a telephone call from Mr. Bullen.

    MONTAGUE. [Starting.] From Bullen?

    LAURA. Yes. He said he had to see you about something.

    MONTAGUE. [Eagerly.] Where was he?

    LAURA. He was at his brother's place. I told him to come here.

    MONTAGUE. Oh! Is he coming?

    LAURA. Yes; he'll be here soon.

    MONTAGUE. Thank you very much.

    LAURA. He said it was something quite urgent.

    MONTAGUE. Yes. He has some important papers for me.

    LAURA. I see he made a speech last night that stirred up the press.

    MONTAGUE. [Smiling.] Yes.

    LAURA. He is surely a tireless fighter.

    MONTAGUE. It's such men as Bullen who keep the world moving.

    LAURA. And do you agree with him, Mr. Montague?

    MONTAGUE. In what way?

    LAURA. That the end of it all is to be a revolution.

    MONTAGUE. I don't know, Miss Hegan. I find I am moving that way. I used to think we could control capital. Now I am beginning to suspect that it is in the nature of capital to have its way, and that if the people wish to rule they must own the capital.

    LAURA. [After a pause.] Mr. Montague, I had to ask you to come out and see me, because I'd promised my father I would not go into the city again for a while. I've not been altogether well since that evening at Julia's.

    MONTAGUE. I am sorry to hear that, Miss Hegan.

    LAURA. It's nothing, but it worries my father, you know. [pause.] I thought we should be alone this afternoon, but I find that my father is coming and... and Mr. Baker is coming also. So I mayn't have time to say all I wished to say to you. But I must thank you for coming.

    MONTAGUE. I was very glad to come, Miss Hegan.

    LAURA. I can appreciate your embarrassment at being asked to . . .

    MONTAGUE. No!

    LAURA. We must deal frankly with each other. I know that you did not want to come. I know that you have tried to put an end to our friendship.

    MONTAGUE. [Hesitates.] Miss Hegan, let me explain my position.

    LAURA. I think I understand it already. You have found evil conditions which you wish to oppose, and you were afraid that our friendship might stand in the way.

    MONTAGUE. [In a low voice.] Miss Hegan, I came to New York an entire stranger two years ago, and my brother introduced me to his rich friends. By one of them I was asked to take charge of a law case. It was a case of very great importance, which served to give me an opening into the inner life of the city. I discovered that, in their blind struggle for power, our great capitalists had lost all sense of the difference between honesty and crime. I found that trust funds were being abused . . . that courts and legislatures were being corrupted . . . the very financial stability of the country was being wrecked. The thing shocked me to the bottom of my soul, and I set to work to give the public some light on the situation. Then, what happened, Miss Hegan? My newly made rich friends cut me a deal; they began to circulate vile slanders about me . . . they insulted me openly, on more than one occasion. So, don't you see?

    LAURA. Yes. I see. But could you not have trusted a friendship such as ours?

    MONTAGUE. I did not dare.

    LAURA. You saw that you had to fight my father, and you thought that I would blindly take his side.

    MONTAGUE. [Hesitating.] I . . . I couldn't suppose. . .

    LAURA. Listen. You have told me your situation; now imagine mine. Imagine a girl brought up in luxury, with a father whom she loves very dearly, and who loves her more than any one else in the world. Everything is done to make her happy . . . to keep her contented and peaceful. But as she grows up, she reads and listens . . . and, little by little, it dawns upon her that her father is one of the leaders in this terrible struggle that you have spoken of. She hears about wrongdoing; she is told that her father's enemies have slandered him. At first, perhaps, she believes that. But time goes on . . . she sees suffering and oppression . . . she begins to realize a little of cause and effect. She wants to help, she wants to do right, but there is no way for her to know. She goes to one person after another, and no one will deal frankly with her. No one will tell her the truth . . . absolutely no one! [Leaning forward with intensity.] No one! No one!

    MONTAGUE. I see.

    LAURA. So it was with you . . . and with our friendship. I knew that you had broken it off for such reasons. I knew that there was nothing personal . . . it was nothing that I had done . . .

    MONTAGUE. No! Surely not!

    LAURA. [Gazes about nervously.] And then the other night . . . you told me you were investigating the traction companies of New York . . . their connection with politics, and so on. Ever since then I have felt that you were the one person I must talk with. Don't you see?

    MONTAGUE. Yes; I see.

    LAURA. I have sought for some one who will tell me the truth. Will you?

    MONTAGUE. [In a low voice.] You must realize what you are asking of me, Miss Hegan.

    LAURA. I have not brought you here without realizing that. You must help me!

    MONTAGUE. Very well. I will do what I can.

    LAURA. [Leaning forward.] I wish to know about my father. I wish to know to what extent he is involved in these evils that you speak of.

    MONTAGUE. Your father is in the game, and he has played it the way the game is played.

    LAURA. Has he been better than the others, or worse?

    MONTAGUE. About the same, Miss Hegan.

    LAURA. He has been more successful than they.

    MONTAGUE. He has been very successful.

    LAURA. You were concerned in some important deal with my father, were you not?

    MONTAGUE. I was.

    LAURA. Then you withdrew. Was that because there was something wrong in it?

    MONTAGUE. It was, Miss Hegan.

    LAURA. There were corrupt things done?

    MONTAGUE. There were many kinds of corrupt things done.

    LAURA. And was my father responsible for them?

    MONTAGUE. Yes.

    LAURA. Directly?

    MONTAGUE. Yes; directly.

    LAURA. Then my father is a bad man? MONTAGUE. [After a pause.] Your father finds himself in the midst of an evil system. He is the victim of conditions which he did not create.

    LAURA. Ah, now you are trying to spare me!

    MONTAGUE. No. I should say that to any one. I am at war with the system . . . not with individuals. It is the old story of hating the sin and loving the sinner. Your father's rivals are just as reckless as he take Murdock, for instance, the man who is behind this Grand Avenue Railroad matter. It is hard for a woman to understand that situation.

    LAURA. I can understand some things very clearly. I go down into the slums and I see all that welter of misery. I see the forces of evil that exist there, defiant and hateful . . . the saloons and the gambling-houses, and that ghastly white-slave traffic, of which Annie Rogers is the victim. And there is the political organization, taking its toll from all these, and using it to keep itself in power. And there is Boss Grimes, who is at the head of all . . . and he is one of my father's intimate associates. I ask about it, and I am told that it is a matter of "business." But why should my father do business with a man whose chief source of income is vice?

    MONTAGUE. That is not quite the case, Miss Hegan.

    LAURA. Doesn't the vice tribute go to him?

    MONTAGUE. Part of it does, I have no doubt. But it would be a very small part of his income.

    LAURA. What then?

    MONTAGUE. The vice graft serves for the police and the district leaders and the little men; what really pays nowadays is what has come to be called "honest graft."

    LAURA. What is that?

    MONTAGUE. The business deals that are trade with the public service corporations.

    LAURA. Ah! That is what I wish to know about!

    MONTAGUE. For instance, I am running a street railway . . .

    LAURA. [Quickly.] My father is running them all!

    MONTAGUE. Very well. Your father is in alliance with the organization; he is given franchises and public privileges for practically nothing; and in return he gives the contracts for constructing the subways and street-car lines to companies organized by the politicians. These companies are simply paper companies . . . they farm out the contracts to the real builders, skimming off a profit of twenty or thirty per cent. One of these companies received contracts last year to the value of thirty million dollars.

    LAURA. And so that is how Grimes gets his money?

    MONTAGUE. Grimes' brother is the president of the company I have reference to.

    LAURA. I see; it is a regular system.

    MONTAGUE. It is a business, and there is no way to punish it . . . it does not violate any law . . .

    LAURA. And yet it is quite as bad!

    MONTAGUE. It is far worse, because of its vast scope. It carries every form of corruption in its train. It means the prostitution of our whole system of government . . . the subsidizing of our newspapers, and of the great political parties. It means that judges are chosen who will decide in favor of the corporations; that legislators are nominated who will protect them against attack. It means everywhere the enthronement of ignorance and incompetence, of injustice and fraud.

    LAURA. And in the end the public pays for it?

    MONTAGUE. In the end the public pays for everything. The stolen franchises are unloaded on the market for ten times what they cost, and the people pay their nickels for a wretched, broken-down service. They pay for it in the form of rent and taxes for a dishonest administration. Every struggling unfortunate in the city pays for it, when he comes into contact with the system . . . when he seeks for help, or even for justice. It was that side of it that shocked me most of all . . . I being a lawyer, you see. The corrupting of our courts . . .

    LAURA. The judges are bought, Mr. Montague?

    MONTAGUE. The judges are selected, Miss Hegan.

    LAURA. Selected! I see.

    MONTAGUE. And that system prevails from the Supreme Court of the State down to the petty Police Magistrates, before whom the poor come to plead.

    LAURA. And that is why the white-slave traffic goes unpunished!

    MONTAGUE. That is why.

    LAURA. And why no one would move a hand for Annie Rogers!

    MONTAGUE. That is why.

    LAURA. And my father is responsible for it!

    MONTAGUE. [Gravely.] Yes; I think he is, Miss Hegan.

    A PAUSE.

    LAURA. Have you seen Julia Patterson lately?

    MONTAGUE. I saw her last night.

    LAURA. And how is Annie?

    MONTAGUE. She . . . [Hesitates.] She is dead.

    LAURA. [Starting.] Oh!

    MONTAGUE. She died the night before last.

    LAURA. [Stares at him, then gives a wild start, and cries] She . . . she . . .

    MONTAGUE. She killed herself.

    LAURA. Oh!

    MONTAGUE. She cut her throat.

    LAURA. [Hides her face and sinks against the table, shuddering and overcome.] Oh, the poor girl! The poor, poor girl! [Suddenly she springs up.] Can't you see? Can't you see? It is things like that that are driving me to distraction!

    MONTAGUE. [Starting toward her.] Miss Hegan . . .

    LAURA. [Covering her face again.] Oh! oh! It is horrible! I can't stand it! I . . .

    [Sound of motor heard; they listen.]

    LAURA. That is my father's car . . . Mr. Montague, will you excuse me? I must have a talk with my father . . .

    MONTAGUE. Certainly. Let me go away . . .

    LAURA. No; please wait. Just take a little stroll. I . . .

    MONTAGUE. Certainly, I understand.

    [Exit right.]

    LAURA. [Seeks to compose herself; then goes to window.] Father!

    HEGAN. [Off.] Yes, dear.

    LAURA. Come here.

    HEGAN. [Enters.] What is it?

    LAURA. Father, I have just had dreadful news . .

    HEGAN. What?

    LAURA. Annie Rogers . . . that poor girl, you know . . .

    HEGAN. Yes.

    LAURA. She has killed herself.

    HEGAN. No!

    LAURA. She cut her own throat.

    HEGAN. Oh, my dear! [Starts toward her.] I am so sorry . . .

    LAURA. [Quickly.] No, father! Listen! You must talk to me . . . you must talk to me this time!

    HEGAN. My child . . .

    LAURA. You cannot put me off. You cannot, I tell you!

    HEGAN. Laura, dear, you are upset . . .

    LAURA. No! That is not so! I have perfect control of myself. There is no use crying . . . the girl is dead. That can't be helped. But I mean to understand about it. I mean to know who is responsible for her death.

    HEGAN. My dear, these evils are hard to know of . . .

    LAURA. That house to which that girl was taken . . . there is a law against such places, is there not?

    HEGAN. Yes, my dear.

    LAURA. And why is not the law enforced?

    HEGAN. It has not been found possible to enforce such laws.

    LAURA. But why not?

    HEGAN. Why, my dear, this evil . . .

    LAURA. These people pay money to the police, do they not?

    HEGAN. Why, yes; I imagine . . .

    LAURA. Don't tell me what you imagine . . . tell me what you know! They pay money to the police, don't they?

    HEGAN. Yes.

    LAURA. Then why should the police not be punished? Do those who control the police get some of the money?

    HEGAN. Some of them, my dear.

    LAURA. That is, the leaders of Tammany.

    HEGAN. Possibly . . . yes.

    LAURA. And Mr. Grimes . . . he gets some of it?

    HEGAN. Why, my dear . . .

    LAURA. Tell me!

    HEGAN. But really, Laura, I never asked him what he gets.

    LAURA. [With intensity.] Father, you must understand me! I will not be trifled with . . . I am in desperate earnest! I am determined to get to the bottom of this thing! I am no longer a child, and you must not try to deceive me! Mr. Grimes must get some of that money!

    HEGAN. I think it possible, my dear.

    LAURA. And do you get any?

    HEGAN. Good God, Laura!

    LAURA. Then what is the nature of your relationship with Grimes?

    HEGAN. Really, my child, this is not fair of you. I have business connections which you cannot possibly understand . . .

    LAURA. I can understand everything that you are willing for me to understand! I want to know why you must have business connections with a man like Boss Grimes.

    HEGAN. My dear, I think you might take your father's word in such a case. It has nothing to do with vice, I can assure you. Grimes is a business ally of mine. He is a rich man, a great power in New York . . .

    LAURA. Do you help to keep him a power in New York?

    HEGAN. Why, I don't know . . .

    LAURA. Do you contribute to his campaign funds?

    HEGAN. Why, Laura! I am a Democrat. Surely I have a right to support my party!

    LAURA. [Quickly.] Have you ever contributed to the Republican campaign funds?

    HEGAN. [Disconcerted; laughs.] Why . . . really . . .

    LAURA. Please answer me.

    HEGAN. I am a Gold Democrat, my dear.

    LAURA. I see. [She Pauses.] You put Mr. Grimes in the way of making a great deal of money, do you not?

    HEGAN. I do that.

    LAURA. He is interested in companies that you give contracts to?

    HEGAN. Really! You seem to be informed about my affairs!

    LAURA. I have taken some trouble to inform myself. Father, don't you realize what it means to corrupt the government of the city in this way?

    HEGAN. Corrupt the government, my dear?

    LAURA. Does not Grimes have the nominating of judges and legislators?

    HEGAN. Why, yes . . . in a way . . .

    LAURA. And does he not consult with you?

    HEGAN. Why, my dear . . .

    LAURA. Please tell me.

    HEGAN. [Realizing that he cannot make any more admissions.] No, my dear.

    LAURA. Never?

    HEGAN. Absolutely never.

    LAURA. He has never made any attempt to influence the courts in your favor?

    HEGAN. Never.

    LAURA. Not in any way, father?

    HEGAN. Not in any way.

    LAURA. Nor in favor of your companies?

    HEGAN. No, my dear.

    LAURA. You mean, you can give me your word of honor that that is the truth?

    HEGAN. I can, my dear.

    LAURA. And that none of your lawyers do it? Do you mean that the courts escape your influence . . .

    HEGAN. [Laughing disconcertedly.] Really, my dear, this is as bad as a Government investigation! I shall have to take refuge in a lapse of memory.

    LAURA. [Intensely.] Father! Is it nothing to you that I have the blood of that poor girl on my conscience?

    HEGAN. My child!

    LAURA. Yes; just that! She was caught in the grip of this ruthless system; it held her fast and crushed her life out. And we maintain this system! I profit by it . . . all this luxury and power that I enjoy comes from it directly! Can't you see what I mean?

    HEGAN. I see, my dear, that you are frightfully overwrought, and that you are making yourself ill. Can't you imagine what it means to me to have you acting in this way? Here I am at one of the gravest crises of my life; I am working day and night, under frightful strain . . . I have hardly slept six hours in the past three days. And here, when I get a chance for a moment's rest, you come and put me through such an ordeal! You never think of that!

    LAURA. It's just what I do think of! Why must you torture yourself so? Why . . .

    HEGAN. My dear, I, too, am in the grip of the system you speak of.

    LAURA. But why? Why stay in it? Haven't we money enough yet?

    HEGAN. I have duties by which I am bound . . . interests that I must protect. How can I . . . [A knock.] Come in!

    ANDREWS. [Enters.] Here are the papers, Mr. Hegan. They must be signed now if they're to catch this mail.

    HEGAN. All right.

    [Sits at desk up stage and writes.]

    LAURA. [Stands by table, staring before her; picks u¢ book carelessly from table.] "Ivanhoe" . . . [Fingers it idly and a slip of paper falls to floor. She picks it up, glances at it, then starts.] Oh! . . . [Reads.] "Memo to G., two hundred thousand on Court deal. GRIMES." Two hundred thousand on Court deal! [Glances back at her father; then replaces slip and lays book on table.] Father, have you read "Ivanhoe"?

    HEGAN. [Without looking up.] I'm reading it now. Why? Do you want it?

    LAURA. No; I just happened to notice it here.

    HEGAN. [Looks up sharply, watches her, then finishes writing.] There! [Rises; the sound of a motor heard.] What's that?

    ANDREWS. [Near window.] It's Mr. Grimes.

    LAURA. [Starting.] Grimes!

    HEGAN. [TO ANDREWS.] Bring him in.

    [ANDREWS exit.]

    LAURA. Father! Why do you bring that man here?

    HEGAN. I'll not do it again, dear. I didn't realize. He happened to be in the neighborhood . . .

    LAURA. I won't meet him!

    HEGAN. [Putting his arm about her.] Very well, dear; come away. Try to stop worrying yourself now, for the love of me . . .

    [Leads her off left.]

    ANDREWS. [At window.] This way, Mr. Grimes.

    [GRIMES enters; a powerfully built, broad-shouldered man of about fifty, with a massive jaw, covered with a scrubby beard; the face of a bulldog; a grim, masterful man, who never speaks except when he has to. He enters and seats himself in a chair by the table.] Will you have a cigar? [Grimes takes a cigar, without comment, and chews on it; sits, staring in front of him.] Mr. Hegan will be here directly, Sir.

    [He nods, and ANDREWS exit. GRIMES continues to chew and stare in front of him. He is not under the necessity of making superfluous motions.]

    HEGAN. [Enters left.] Hello, Grimes!

    GRIMES. Hello!

    HEGAN. [Betraying anxiety.] Well?

    GRIMES. It's done.

    HEGAN. What?

    GRIMES. It's done.

    HEGAN. Good! [Grimes nods.] How did you manage it?

    GRIMES. [Grimly.] I put my hand on 'em!

    HEGAN. Which one? Porter? [GRIMES nods.] Oh, the old hypocrite! What did you offer him? Cash? [GRIMES shakes his head slowly.] What?

    GRIMES. Discipline!

    HEGAN. [Perplexed.] But . . . a judge!

    GRIMES. When a man's once mine, he stays mine . . . no matter if it's a life job I give him.

    MEGAN. But are you sure it's safe?

    GRIMES. The decision comes tomorrow.

    HEGAN. [Starting.] What?

    GRIMES. Tomorrow noon.

    HEGAN. But how can they write the decision?

    GRIMES. They'll adopt the minority opinion.

    HEGAN. Oh! I see!

    [Chuckles.]

    GRIMES. You be ready.

    MEGAN. Trust me! I'll have to go in now.

    GRIMES. It'll be a great killing. Old Murdock has plunged up to his neck!

    HEGAN. I know! We'll lay them flat. I'll get ready. [Rises.] Old Porter! Think of it! When did you see him?

    GRIMES. Last night.

    HEGAN. I see. I'll be with you.

    GRIMES. Just a moment. I'll take the money.

    HEGAN. Oh, yes. Why don't you let me hold it and buy for you?

    GRIMES. I'll buy for myself.

    HEGAN. Very well.

    [Sits at desk.]

    GRIMES. It's two hundred thousand.

    HEGAN. That's right. [Writes a check, rises and gives it to Grimes.] There.

    GRIMES. [Studies the check, nods, and puts it away carefully.] When's the next train?

    HEGAN. In about ten minutes. [Rings bell.] Andrews!

    ANDREWS. [Enters left.] Yes, Sir.

    HEGAN. I'm going into town at once. Telephone orders to the house.

    ANDREWS. Yes, sir. And shall I come in this evening?

    HEGAN. Yes; you'd better. And telephone Mr. Isaacson and Mr. Henry Sterns to meet me at eight o'clock for an important conference at . . . let me see, where?

    GRIMES. At my rooms.

    HEGAN. Very good. And they're not to fail on any account. It's urgent.

    ANDREWS. Yes, sir.

    [HEGAN and GRIMES go off centre. ANDREWS remains sorting papers. A knock, right.]

    ANDREWS. Come in!

    [MONTAGUE enters.]

    ANDREWS. Oh, good afternoon. I was looking for you, Mr. Montague. Mr. Bullen has come.

    MONTAGUE. Oh! Where is he?

    ANDREWS. He's waiting. I'll tell him you're here.

    [Exit right.]

    MONTAGUE. [Stands at window and sees motor departing.] Grimes! I wonder what that means? [Turns away.] And what a coincidence, that I should be here! Humph! Well, it's not my doings. Ah! Bullen!

    JACK. [Enters, right, in great excitement.] Montague !

    MONTAGUE. Yes.

    JACK. I've got 'em!

    MONTAGUE. What?

    JACK. I've got 'em!

    MONTAGUE. You don't mean it!

    JACK. Got 'em dead! Got everything! There's never been a case like it!

    MONTAGUE. [Gazing about.] Ssh! Where was it?

    JACK. At Judge Porter's house.

    MONTAGUE. What?

    JACK. Yes. . . . Grimes came there.

    MONTAGUE. When?

    JACK. Last night. My friend was in the next room . . . he heard everything!

    MONTAGUE. And what are they going to do?

    JACK. Porter is to switch over, and sign the minority opinion, and that's to come out as the decision of the Court.

    MONTAGUE. Good God! When?

    JACK. Tomorrow.

    MONTAGUE. Impossible!

    JACK. There's to be a meeting of the judges this afternoon. See . . . here's the decision! [Takes paper from pocket.] The one they mean to kill!

    MONTAGUE. [Looks at paper.] Merciful heavens!

    JACK. And look here! [Unfolds a paper, which has pasted on it bits of a torn and charred note.] He threw this in the fireplace, and it didn't burn.

    MONTAGUE. Bullen!

    JACK. In Grimes' own handwriting: "My Dear Porter--I will call" . . . you can see what that word was . . . "at eight-thirty. Very urgent." How's that?

    MONTAGUE. Man, it's ghastly! [A pause.] How did you manage to get these?

    JACK. It's a long story.

    MONTAGUE. How did Grimes work it? Money?

    JACK. Not a dollar.

    MONTAGUE. What then?

    JACK. Just bluffed him. Party loyalty! What was he named for?

    MONTAGUE. But in a suit like this!

    JACK. Never was a better test! If Hegan lost this case, he'd be wiped off the slate, and the organization might go down at the next election. And what were you put in for, judge Porter? Don't you see?

    MONTAGUE. I see! It takes my breath away!

    JACK. [Looking about.] And what a place for us to meet in! Did you see Grimes?

    MONTAGUE. Yes.

    JACK. I'll wager he came to tell Hegan about it.

    MONTAGUE. No doubt of it.

    JACK. God! I'd give one hand to have heard them!

    MONTAGUE. Don't wish that ! It's embarrassing enough as it is!

    JACK. [Staring at him.] You'll see it through? You won't back out?

    MONTAGUE. Oh, I'll see it through . . . trust me for that. But it's devilish awkward!

    JACK. Why did you come here?

    MONTAGUE. I tried not to. But Miss Hegan insisted.

    JACK. [Laughing.] The same here! I was fair caught!

    MONTAGUE. And now she'll think we learned it here. I'll have to explain to her . . .

    JACK. What?

    MONTAGUE. I Must!

    JACK. No! [LAURA appears at windows, centre, and hears the rest, which is in excited tones.] It is not to be thought of!

    MONTAGUE. But I can't help it, man! Miss Hegan will think I've been eavesdropping!

    JACK. Do you realize what you're proposing, man? You'll ruin everything! We've got Grimes dead . . . we can land him in jail! But if Hegan heard any whisper of it, they'd balk everything!

    MONTAGUE. But how?

    JACK. They'd hold up the decision of the Court . . .

    MONTAGUE. Nonsense! With all that they'd stand to lose . . .

    LAURA. [Coming forward.] I beg pardon, Mr. Bullen.

    JACK. Oh!

    LAURA. I didn't wish to hear what you were saying. But I couldn't help it. I was caught unawares. [The three stare at each other.] It is something that involves my father. [Looking at the papers in BULLEN's hands.] Mr. Bullen has brought you some evidence. Is that so, Mr. Montague?

    MONTAGUE. [In a low voice.] Yes, Miss Hegan.

    LAURA. And you wished to take me into your confidence?

    MONTAGUE. I wished to make it impossible for you to think we had obtained this evidence in your home.

    LAURA. I See.

    MONTAGUE. You will do us the justice to recognize that we did not seek admission here.

    LAURA. Yes; I do that. [A pause.] All that I can say is, that if you think it best to take me into your confidence, you may trust me to the bitter end.

    MONTAGUE. Miss Hegan, Mr. Bullen has brought me evidence which proves that the decision of the Court, which is to be made known tomorrow, has been . . . improperly affected.

    LAURA. [Quickly.] By whom?

    MONTAGUE. By Robert Grimes.

    LAURA. [Starts wildly.] And the evidence involves my father?

    MONTAGUE. Your father will be the chief one to profit from the change.

    LAURA. [Sinks back against the table; stares away from them, whispering.] To Grimes . . . two hundred thousand on Court deal! I see! I see! [Faces them, weakly.] And what . . . what do you mean to do?

    MONTAGUE. I intend to wait until the decision has been announced, which will be tomorrow, and then to call a public meeting and present the evidence.

    LAURA. [Starts to implore him; then controls herself.] Yes, yes . . . that is just. But then . . . see! It hasn't been done yet!

    MONTAGUE. How do you mean?

    LAURA. The decision hasn't come out. It could be stopped!

    JACK. Why stop it?

    LAURA. That would prevent the wrong! I would . . . oh, I see! You want to expose Grimes! You'd rather it happened!

    JACK. The crime has already been committed.

    LAURA. And you, Mr. Montague . . . you prefer it so?

    MONTAGUE. I had never thought of any other possibility.

    LAURA. Listen! I don't understand the matter very clearly. The Grand Avenue Railroad case . . .

    MONTAGUE. It is an effort to annul a franchise which was obtained by proven bribery.

    LAURA. Then, if the public could win, it would be worth while, would it not?

    MONTAGUE. It would establish a precedent of vast importance. But how could that be done?

    LAURA. We have a hold upon these men . . . we could compel them to give way!

    MONTAGUE. They would never do it, Miss Hegan . . . they have too much at stake.

    LAURA. But . . . the evidence you have! Mr. Bullen said you could send Grimes to jail.

    MONTAGUE. That was just wild talk. Grimes has the district attorney and the courts. He could never be punished for anything.

    LAURA. But the exposure!

    JACK. He's been exposed a hundred times. What does that matter to him?

    LAURA. But then . . . my father is involved.

    JACK. Quite true, Miss Hegan . . .

    LAURA. And I can make him see how wrong it is.

    JACK. You can make him see it! But you can't make him do anything!

    LAURA. Ah, but you don't know my father . . . truly, you don't. He does these evil things, but at heart he's a kind and loyal man! And he loves me . . . I am his only daughter . . . and I can help him to see what is right. We have always understood each other; he will listen to me as he would not to any one else in the world.

    JACK. But what can you say to him? We can't put our evidence in your hands . . .

    LAURA. I don't need your evidence. I must tell you that I, too, have found out something about this case. I know that my father paid Mr. Grimes to influence the decision of that Court. And I know how much he paid him.

    MONTAGUE. Miss Hegan!

    JACK. Good God!

    LAURA. You see, I am not afraid to trust you . . . . [A pause.] What is the nature of your evidence against Grimes?

    MONTAGUE. It comes from an eye-witness of his interview with the judge.

    LAURA. And it is some one you can trust?

    MONTAGUE. It's for Bullen to tell you.

    JACK. The judge has a nephew, a dissipated chap, whose inheritance he is holding back . . . and who hates him in consequence. The nephew happens to be a college chum of mine. He witnessed the interview and he brought me the evidence.

    LAURA. I see. Then, certainly, I have a case. And don't you see what a hold that gives me upon my father?

    JACK. Miss Hegan, you are a brave woman, and I would like to give way to you. But you could accomplish nothing. This suit, which is nominally in the public interest, is really backed by Murdock and his crowd, who are fighting your father; you must realize his position . . . the thousand ties that bind him . . . all the habits of a lifetime! Think of the friends he has to protect; you don't know . . .

    LAURA. I know it all. And, on the other hand, I know some things that you do not know. I know that my father is not a happy man. There is a canker eating at his heart . . . the fruit of life has turned to ashes on his lips. And he has one person in all this world that he loves . . . myself. He has toiled and fought for me . . . all these years he has told himself that he was making his money for me. And now he finds that it brings me only misery and grief . . . it is as useless to me as it is to him! And now, suppose I should go to him and say: "Father, you have committed a crime. And I cannot stand it another hour. You must choose here and now . . . you must give up this fight against the people . . . you must give up this career, and come with me and help me to do good in the world. Or else" . . . [her voice breaking.] . . . "I shall have to leave you! I shall refuse to touch a dollar of your money; I shall refuse in any way to share your guilt!" Don't you see? He will know that I am speaking the truth . . . and that I mean every word of it. Oh, gentlemen, believe me . . . my father would be as strong to atone for his injustices as he has been to commit them! Surely, you can't refuse me this chance to save him?

    JACK. Miss Hegan . . .

    MONTAGUE. For God's sake, Jack . . .

    JACK. Excuse me, Montague. How long would you expect us to wait, Miss Hegan?

    LAURA. You need not wait at all. You could go right ahead with your own plans. Meantime, I can go to my father . . . I will have tonight to plead with him, and tomorrow morning you will know if I have succeeded.

    JACK. Very well . . . I will consent to that.

    LAURA. Let Mr. Montague come to my father's office tomorrow morning at ten o'clock. I shall not give him up . . . even if I have to follow him there! And now . . . good-bye . . . [Starts toward the door, breaks down and cries.] Thank you! Thank you!

    [Stretches out her hands to them.]

    MONTAGUE. [Springing toward her.] Miss Hegan !

    LAURA. Give me a little courage! Tell me you think I shall succeed !

    MONTAGUE. [Seizing her hand.] I believe you will, Miss Hegan!

    LAURA. Ah! Thank you!

    MONTAGUE. [Kisses her hand; tries to speak; overcome.] Good-bye!

    LAURA. [Exit.] Ah, God!

    JACK. I understand, old man! If only she weren't so rich!

    MONTAGUE. If only she weren't . . .

    JACK. Yes, yes, dear boy; I know how it is. You're troubled with a conscience, and yours must be strictly a cottage affair! But forget it just now, old fellow . . . we've got work before us. Play ball!

    [Takes him by the shoulder; they go off.]

    [CURTAIN]
    Next Chapter
    Chapter 2
    Previous Chapter
    If you're writing a Upton Sinclair essay and need some advice, post your Upton Sinclair essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

    Top 5 Authors

    Top 5 Books

    Book Status
    Finished
    Want to read
    Abandoned

    Are you sure you want to leave this group?