An American Tragedy Chapter 34

The scene was the executive chamber of the newly elected Governor of the State of New York some three weeks after the news conveyed to Clyde by McMillan. After many preliminary and futile efforts on the part of Belknap and Jephson to obtain a commutation of the sentence of Clyde from death to life imprisonment (the customary filing of a plea for clemency, together with such comments as they had to make in regard to the way the evidence had been misinterpreted and the illegality of introducing the letters of Roberta in their original form, to all of which Governor Waltham, an ex-district attorney and judge from the southern part of the state, had been conscientiously compelled to reply that he could see no reason for interfering) there was now before Governor Waltham Mrs. Griffiths together with the Reverend McMillan. For, moved by the widespread interest in the final disposition of Clyde’s case, as well as the fact that his mother, because of her unshaken devotion to him, and having learned of the decision of the Court of Appeals, had once more returned to Auburn and since then had been appealing to the newspapers, as well as to himself through letters for a correct understanding of the extenuating circumstances surrounding her son’s downfall, and because she herself had repeatedly appealed to him for a personal interview in which she should be allowed to present her deepest convictions in regard to all this, the Governor had at last consented to see her. It could do no harm. Besides it would tend to soothe her. Also variable public sentiment, whatever its convictions in any given case, was usually on the side of the form or gesture of clemency—without, however, any violence to its convictions. And, in this case, if one could judge by the newspapers, the public was convinced that Clyde was guilty. On the other hand, Mrs. Griffiths, owing to her own long meditations in regard to Clyde, Roberta, his sufferings during and since the trial, the fact that according to the Reverend McMillan he had at last been won to a deep contrition and a spiritual union with his Creator whatever his original sin, was now more than ever convinced that humanity and even justice demanded that at least he be allowed to live. And so standing before the Governor, a tall, sober and somewhat somber man who, never in all his life had even so much as sensed the fevers or fires that Clyde had known, yet who, being a decidedly affectionate father and husband, could very well sense what Mrs. Griffiths’ present emotions must be. Yet greatly exercised by the compulsion which the facts, as he understood them, as well as a deep-seated and unchangeable submission to law and order, thrust upon him. Like the pardon clerk before him, he had read all the evidence submitted to the Court of Appeals, as well as the latest briefs submitted by Belknap and Jephson. But on what grounds could he—David Waltham, and without any new or varying data of any kind—just a re-interpretation of the evidence as already passed upon—venture to change Clyde’s death sentence to life imprisonment? Had not a jury, as well as the Court of Appeals, already said he should die?

In consequence, as Mrs. Griffiths began her plea, her voice shaky—retracing as best she could the story of Clyde’s life, his virtues, the fact that at no time ever had he been a bad or cruel boy—that Roberta, if not Miss X, was not entirely guiltless in the matter—he merely gazed at her deeply moved. The love and devotion of such a mother! Her agony in this hour; her faith that her son could not be as evil as the proven facts seemed to indicate to him and every one else. “Oh, my dear Governor, how can the sacrifice of my son’s life now, and when spiritually he has purged his soul of sin and is ready to devote himself to the work of God, repay the state for the loss of that poor, dear girl’s life, whether it was accidentally or otherwise taken—how can it? Can not the millions of people of the state of New York be merciful? Cannot you as their representative exercise the mercy that they may feel?”

Her voice broke—she could not go on. Instead she turned her back and began to cry silently, while Waltham, shaken by an emotion he could not master, merely stood there. This poor woman! So obviously honest and sincere. Then the Reverend McMillan, seeing his opportunity, now entering his plea. Clyde had changed. He could not speak as to his life before—but since his incarceration—or for the last year, at least, he had come into a new understanding of life, duty, his obligations to man and God. If but the death sentence could be commuted to life imprisonment——

And the Governor, who was a very earnest and conscientious man, listened with all attention to McMillan, whom, as he saw and concluded was decidedly an intense and vital and highly idealistic person. No question in his own mind but what the words of this man—whatever they were, would be true—in so far as his own understanding would permit the conception of a truth.

“But you, personally, Mr. McMillan,” the Governor at last found voice to say, “because of your long contact with him in the prison there—do you know of any material fact not introduced at the trial which would in any way tend to invalidate or weaken any phase of the testimony offered at the trial? As you must know this is a legal proceeding. I cannot act upon sentiment alone—and especially in the face of the unanimous decision of two separate courts.”

He looked directly at McMillan, who, pale and dumb, now gazed at him in return. For now upon his word—upon his shoulders apparently was being placed the burden of deciding as to Clyde’s guilt or innocence. But could he do that? Had he not decided, after due meditation as to Clyde’s confessions, that he was guilty before God and the law? And could he now—for mercy’s sake—and in the face of his deepest spiritual conviction, alter his report of his conviction? Would that be true—white, valuable before the Lord? And as instantly deciding that he, Clyde’s spiritual adviser, must not in any way be invalidated in his spiritual worth to Clyde. “Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted?” And forthwith he declared: “As his spiritual advisor I have entered only upon the spiritual, not the legal aspect of his life.” And thereupon Waltham at once deciding, from something in McMillan’s manner that he, like all others, apparently, was satisfied as to Clyde’s guilt. And so, finally finding courage to say to Mrs. Griffiths: “Unless some definite evidence such as I have not yet seen and which will affect the legality of these two findings can be brought me, I have no alternative, Mrs. Griffiths, but to allow the verdict as written to stand. I am very sorry—oh, more than I can tell you. But if the law is to be respected its decisions can never be altered except for reasons that in themselves are full of legal merit. I wish I could decide differently. I do indeed. My heart and my prayers go with you.”

He pressed a button. His secretary entered. It was plain that the interview was ended. Mrs. Griffiths, violently shaken and deeply depressed by the peculiar silence and evasion of McMillan at the crucial moment of this interview when the Governor had asked such an all important and direct question as to the guilt of her son, was still unable to say a word more. But now what? Which way? To whom to turn? God, and God only. She and Clyde must find in their Creator the solace for his failure and death in this world. And as she was thinking and still weeping, the Reverend McMillan approached and gently led her from the room.

When she was gone the Governor finally turned to his secretary:

“Never in my life have I faced a sadder duty. It will always be with me.” He turned and gazed out upon a snowy February landscape.

And after this but two more weeks of life for Clyde, during which time, and because of his ultimate decision conveyed to him first by McMillan, but in company with his mother, from whose face Clyde could read all, even before McMillan spoke, and from whom he heard all once more as to his need of refuge and peace in God, his Savior, he now walked up and down his cell, unable to rest for any length of time anywhere. For, because of this final completely convincing sensation, that very soon he was to die, he felt the need, even now of retracing his unhappy life. His youth. Kansas City. Chicago. Lycurgus. Roberta and Sondra. How swiftly they and all that was connected with them passed in review. The few, brief, bright intense moments. His desire for more—more—that intense desire he had felt there in Lycurgus after Sondra came and now this, this! And now even this was ending—this—this—— Why, he had scarcely lived at all as yet—and these last two years so miserably between these crushing walls. And of this life but fourteen, thirteen, twelve, eleven, ten, nine, eight of the filtering and now feverish days left. They were going—going. But life—life—how was one to do without that—the beauty of the days—of the sun and rain—of work love, energy, desire. Oh, he really did not want to die. He did not. Why say to him so constantly as his mother and the Reverend McMillan now did to resolve all his care in divine mercy and think only of God, when now, now, was all? And yet the Reverend McMillan insisting that only in Christ and the hereafter was real peace. Oh, yes—but just the same, before the Governor might he not have said—might he not have said that he was not guilty—or at least not entirely guilty—if only he had seen it that way—that time—and then—then—why then the Governor might have commuted his sentence to life imprisonment—might he not? For he had asked his mother what the Reverend McMillan had said to the Governor—(yet without saying to her that he had ever confessed all to him), and she had replied that he had told him how sincerely he had humbled himself before the Lord—but not that he was not guilty. And Clyde, feeling how strange it was that the Reverend McMillan could not conscientiously bring himself to do more than that for him. How sad. How hopeless. Would no one ever understand—or give him credit for his human—if all too human and perhaps wrong hungers—yet from which so many others—along with himself suffered?

But worse yet, if anything, Mrs. Griffiths, because of what the Reverend McMillan had said—or failed to say, in answer to the final question asked by Governor Waltham—and although subsequently in answer to an inquiry of her own, he had repeated the statement, she was staggered by the thought that perhaps, after all, Clyde was as guilty as at first she had feared. And because of that asking at one point:

“Clyde, if there is anything you have not confessed, you must confess it before you go.”

“I have confessed everything to God and to Mr. McMillan, Mother. Isn’t that enough?”

“No, Clyde. You have told the world that you are innocent. But if you are not you must say so.”

“But if my conscience tells me that I am right, is not that enough?”

“No, not if God’s word says differently, Clyde,” replied Mrs. Griffiths nervously—and with great inward spiritual torture. But he chose to say nothing further at that time. How could he discuss with his mother or the world the strange shadings which in his confession and subsequent talks with the Reverend McMillan he had not been able to solve. It was not to be done.

And because of that refusal on her son’s part to confide in her, Mrs. Griffiths, tortured, not only spiritually but personally. Her own son—and so near death and not willing to say what already apparently he had said to Mr. McMillan. Would not God ever be done with this testing her? And yet on account of what McMillan had already said,—that he considered Clyde, whatever his past sins, contrite and clean before the Lord—a youth truly ready to meet his Maker—she was prone to rest. The Lord was great! He was merciful. In His bosom was peace. What was death—what life—to one whose heart and mind were at peace with Him? It was nothing. A few years (how very few) and she and Asa and after them, his brothers and sisters, would come to join him—and all his miseries here would be forgotten. But without peace in the Lord—the full and beautiful realization of His presence, love, care and mercy…! She was tremulous at moments now in her spiritual exaltation—no longer quite normal—as Clyde could see and feel. But also by her prayers and anxiety as to his spiritual welfare, he was also able to see how little, really, she had ever understood of his true moods and aspirations. He had longed for so much there in Kansas City and he had had so little. Things—just things—had seemed very important to him—and he had so resented being taken out on the street as he had been, before all the other boys and girls, many of whom had all the things that he so craved, and when he would have been glad to have been anywhere else in the world than out there—on the street! That mission life that to his mother was so wonderful, yet, to him, so dreary! But was it wrong for him to feel so? Had it been? Would the Lord resent it now? And, maybe, she was right as to her thoughts about him. Unquestionably he would have been better off if he had followed her advice. But how strange it was, that to his own mother, and even now in these closing hours, when above all things he craved sympathy—but more than sympathy, true and deep understanding—even now—and as much as she loved and sympathized with, and was seeking to aid him with all her strength in her stern and self-sacrificing way,—still he could not turn to her now and tell her, his own mother, just how it all happened. It was as though there was an unsurmountable wall or impenetrable barrier between them, built by the lack of understanding—for it was just that. She would never understand his craving for ease and luxury, for beauty, for love—his particular kind of love that went with show, pleasure, wealth, position, his eager and immutable aspirations and desires. She could not understand these things. She would look on all of it as sin—evil, selfishness. And in connection with all the fatal steps involving Roberta and Sondra, as adultery—unchastity—murder, even. And she would and did expect him to be terribly sorry and wholly repentant, when, even now, and for all he had said to the Reverend McMillan and to her, he could not feel so—not wholly so—although great was his desire now to take refuge in God, but better yet, if it were only possible, in her own understanding and sympathetic heart. If it were only possible.

Lord, it was all so terrible! He was so alone, even in these last few and elusive hours (the swift passing of the days), with his mother and also the Reverend McMillan here with him, but neither understanding.

But, apart from all this and much worse, he was locked up here and they would not let him go. There was a system—a horrible routine system—as long since he had come to feel it to be so. It was iron. It moved automatically like a machine without the aid or the hearts of men. These guards! They with their letters, their inquiries, their pleasant and yet really hollow words, their trips to do little favors, or to take the men in and out of the yard or to their baths—they were iron, too—mere machines, automatons, pushing and pushing and yet restraining and restraining one—within these walls, as ready to kill as to favor in case of opposition—but pushing, pushing, pushing—always toward that little door over there, from which there was no escape—no escape—just on and on—until at last they would push him through it never to return! Never to return!

Each time he thought of this he arose and walked the floor. Afterwards, usually, he resumed the puzzle of his own guilt. He tried to think of Roberta and the evil he had done her, to read the Bible—even—lying on his face on the iron cot—repeating over and over: “Lord, give me peace. Lord, give me light. Lord, give me strength to resist any evil thoughts that I should not have. I know I am not wholly white. Oh, no. I know I plotted evil. Yes, yes, I know that. I confess. But must I really die now? Is there no help? Will you not help me, Lord? Will you not manifest yourself, as my mother says you will—for me? Will you get the Governor to change my sentence before the final moment to life imprisonment? Will you get the Reverend McMillan to change his views and go to him, and my mother, too? I will drive out all sinful thoughts. I will be different. Oh, yes, I will, if you will only spare me. Do not let me die now—so soon. Do not. I will pray. Yes, I will. Give me the strength to understand and believe—and pray. Oh, do!”

It was like this in those short, horrible days between the return of his mother and the Reverend McMillan from their final visit to the Governor and in his last hour that Clyde thought and prayed—yet finally in a kind of psychic terror, evoked by his uncertainty as to the meaning of the hereafter, his certainty of death, and the faith and emotions of his mother, as well as those of the Reverend McMillan, who was about every day with his interpretations of divine mercy and his exhortations as to the necessity of complete faith and reliance upon it, he, himself coming at last to believe, not only must he have faith but that he had it—and peace—complete and secure. In that state, and at the request of the Reverend McMillan, and his mother, finally composing, with the personal aid and supervision of McMillan, who changed some of the sentences in his presence and with his consent, an address to the world, and more particularly to young men of his own years, which read:

In the shadow of the Valley of Death it is my desire to do everything that would remove any doubt as to my having found Jesus Christ, the personal Savior and unfailing friend. My one regret at this time is that I have not given Him the preƫminence in my life while I had the opportunity to work for Him.

If I could only say some one thing that would draw young men to Him I would deem it the greatest privilege ever granted me. But all I can now say is, “I know in whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day” [a quotation that McMillan had familiarized him with].

If the young men of this country could only know the joy and pleasure of a Christian life, I know they would do all in their power to become earnest, active Christians, and would strive to live as Christ would have them live.

There is not one thing I have left undone which will bar me from facing my God, knowing that my sins are forgiven, for I have been free and frank in my talks with my spiritual adviser, and God knows where I stand.

My task is done, the victory won.


Having written this—a statement so unlike all the previous rebellious moods that had characterized him that even now he was not a little impressed by the difference, handing it to McMillan, who, heartened by this triumph, exclaimed: “And the victory is won, Clyde. ‘This day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.’ You have His word. Your soul and your body belong to Him. Praised, everlastingly, be His name.”

And then so wrought up was he by this triumph, taking both Clyde’s hands in his and kissing them and then folding him in his arms: “My son, my son, in whom I am well pleased. In you God has truly manifested His truth. His power to save. I see it. I feel it. Your address to the world is really His own voice to the world.” And then pocketing the note with the understanding that it was to be issued after Clyde’s death—not before. And yet Clyde having written this, still dubious at moments. Was he truly saved? The time was so short? Could he rely on God with that absolute security which he had just announced now characterized him? Could he? Life was so strange. The future so obscure. Was there really a life after death—a God by whom he would be welcomed as the Reverend McMillan and his own mother insisted? Was there?

In the midst of this, two days before his death and in a final burst of panic, Mrs. Griffiths wiring the Hon. David Waltham: “Can you say before your God that you have no doubt of Clyde’s guilt? Please wire. If you cannot, then his blood will be upon your head. His mother.” And Robert Fessler, the secretary to the Governor replying by wire: “Governor Waltham does not think himself justified in interfering with the decision of the Court of Appeals.”

At last the final day—the final hour—Clyde’s transfer to a cell in the old death house, where, after a shave and a bath, he was furnished with black trousers, a white shirt without a collar, to be opened at the neck afterwards, new felt slippers and gray socks. So accoutered, he was allowed once more to meet his mother and McMillan, who, from six o’clock in the evening preceding the morning of his death until four of the final morning, were permitted to remain near him to counsel with him as to the love and mercy of God. And then at four the warden appearing to say that it was time, he feared, that Mrs. Griffiths depart leaving Clyde in the care of Mr. McMillan. (The sad compulsion of the law, as he explained.) And then Clyde’s final farewell to his mother, before which, and in between the silences and painful twistings of heart strings, he had managed to say:

“Mama, you must believe that I die resigned and content. It won’t be hard. God has heard my prayers. He has given me strength and peace.” But to himself adding: “Had he?”

And Mrs. Griffiths exclaiming: “My son! My son, I know, I know. I have faith too. I know that my Redeemer liveth and that He is yours. Though we die—yet shall we live!” She was looking heavenward, and seemed transfixed. Yet as suddenly turning to Clyde and gathering him in her arms and holding him long and firmly to her, whispering: “My son—my baby—” And her voice broke and trailed off into breathlessness—and her strength seemed to be going all to him, until she felt she must leave or fall—— And so she turned quickly and unsteadily to the warden, who was waiting for her to lead her to Auburn friends of McMillan’s.

And then in the dark of this midwinter morning—the final moment—with the guards coming, first to slit his right trouser leg for the metal plate and then going to draw the curtains before the cells: “It is time, I fear. Courage, my son.” It was the Reverend McMillan—now accompanied by the Reverend Gibson, who, seeing the prison guards approaching, was then addressing Clyde.

And Clyde now getting up from his cot, on which, beside the Reverend McMillan, he had been listening to the reading of John, 14, 15, 16: “Let not your heart be troubled. Ye believe in God—believe also in me.” And then the final walk with the Reverend McMillan on his right hand and the Reverend Gibson on his left—the guards front and rear. But with, instead of the customary prayers, the Reverend McMillan announcing: “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time. Cast all your care upon Him for He careth for you. Be at peace. Wise and righteous are His ways, who hath called us into His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that we have suffered a little. I am the way, the truth and the life—no man cometh unto the Father but by me.”

But various voices—as Clyde entered the first door to cross to the chair room, calling: “Good-by, Clyde.” And Clyde, with enough earthly thought and strength to reply: “Good-by, all.” But his voice sounding so strange and weak, even to himself, so far distant as though it emanated from another being walking alongside of him, and not from himself. And his feet were walking, but automatically, it seemed. And he was conscious of that familiar shuffle—shuffle—as they pushed him on and on toward that door. Now it was here; now it was being opened. There it was—at last—the chair he had so often seen in his dreams—that he so dreaded—to which he was now compelled to go. He was being pushed toward that—into that—on—on—through the door which was now open—to receive him—but which was as quickly closed again on all the earthly life he had ever known.


It was the Reverend McMillan, who, gray and weary—a quarter of an hour later, walked desolately—and even a little uncertainly—as one who is physically very weak—through the cold doors of the prison. It was so faint—so weak—so gray as yet—this late winter day—and so like himself now. Dead! He, Clyde, had walked so nervously and yet somehow trustingly beside him but a few minutes before—and now he was dead. The law! Prisons such as this. Strong, evil men who scoffed betimes where Clyde had prayed. That confession! Had he decided truly—with the wisdom of God, as God gave him to see wisdom? Had he? Clyde’s eyes! He, himself—the Reverend McMillan had all but fainted beside him as that cap was adjusted to his head—that current turned on—and he had had to be assisted, sick and trembling, from the room—he upon whom Clyde had relied. And he had asked God for strength,—was asking it.

He walked along the silent street—only to be compelled to pause and lean against a tree—leafless in the winter—so bare and bleak. Clyde’s eyes! That look as he sank limply into that terrible chair, his eyes fixed nervously and, as he thought, appealingly and dazedly upon him and the group surrounding him.

Had he done right? Had his decision before Governor Waltham been truly sound, fair or merciful? Should he have said to him—that perhaps—perhaps—there had been those other influences playing upon him?… Was he never to have mental peace again, perhaps?

“I know my Redeemer liveth and that He will keep him against that day.”

And then he walked and walked hours before he could present himself to Clyde’s mother, who, on her knees in the home of the Rev. and Mrs. Francis Gault, Salvationists of Auburn, had been, since four-thirty, praying for the soul of her son whom she still tried to visualize as in the arms of his Maker.

“I know in whom I have believed,” was a part of her prayer.


Dusk, of a summer night.

And the tall walls of the commercial heart of the city of San Francisco—tall and gray in the evening shade.

And up a broad street from the south of Market—now comparatively hushed after the din of the day, a little band of five—a man of about sixty, short, stout, yet cadaverous as to the flesh of his face—and more especially about the pale, dim eyes—and with bushy white hair protruding from under a worn, round felt hat—a most unimportant and exhausted looking person, who carried a small, portable organ such as is customarily used by street preachers and singers. And by his side, a woman not more than five years his junior—taller, not so broad, but solid of frame and vigorous—with snow white hair and wearing an unrelieved costume of black—dress, bonnet, shoes. And her face broader and more characterful than her husband’s, but more definitely seamed with lines of misery and suffering. At her side, again, carrying a Bible and several hymn books—a boy of not more than seven or eight—very round-eyed and alert, who, because of some sympathetic understanding between him and his elderly companion, seemed to desire to walk close to her—a brisk and smart stepping—although none-too-well dressed boy. With these three, again, but walking independently behind, a faded and unattractive woman of twenty-seven or eight and another woman of about fifty—apparently, because of their close resemblance, mother and daughter.

It was hot, with the sweet languor of a Pacific summer about it all. At Market, the great thoroughfare which they had reached—and because of threading throngs of automobiles and various lines of cars passing in opposite directions, they awaited the signal of the traffic officer.

“Russell, stay close now.” It was the wife speaking. “Better take hold of my hand.”

“It seems to me,” commented the husband, very feeble and yet serene, “that the traffic here grows worse all the time.”

The cars clanged their bells. The automobiles barked and snorted. But the little group seemed entirely unconscious of anything save a set purpose to make its way across the street.

“Street preachers,” observed a passing bank clerk to his cashier girl friend.

“Sure—I see them up here nearly every Wednesday.”

“Gee, it’s pretty tough on the little kid, I should think. He’s pretty small to be dragged around on the streets, don’t you think, Ella?”

“Well, I’ll say so. I’d hate to see a brother of mine in on any such game. What kind of a life is that for a kid anyhow?” commented Ella as they passed on.

Having crossed the street and reached the first intersection beyond, they paused and looked around as though they had reached their destination—the man putting down his organ which he proceeded to open—setting up, as he did so, a small but adequate music rack. At the same time his wife, taking from her grandson the several hymnals and the Bible he carried, gave the Bible as well as a hymnal to her husband, put one on the organ and gave one to each of the remaining group including one for herself. The husband looked somewhat vacantly about him—yet, none-the-less with a seeming wide-eyed assurance, and began with:

“We will begin with 276 to-night. ‘How firm a foundation.’ All right, Miss Schoof.”

At this the younger of the two women—very parched and spare—angular and homely—to whom life had denied quite all—seated herself upon the yellow camp chair and after arranging the stops and turning the leaves of the book, began playing the chosen hymn, to the tune of which they all joined in.

By this time various homeward bound individuals of diverse occupations and interests noticing this small group so advantageously disposed near the principal thoroughfare of the city, hesitated a moment,—either to eye them askance or to ascertain the character of their work. And as they sang, the nondescript and indifferent street audience gazed, held by the peculiarity of such an unimportant group publicly raising its voice against the vast skepticism and apathy of life. That gray and flabby and ineffectual old man, in his worn and baggy blue suit. This robust and yet uncouth and weary and white-haired woman; this fresh and unsoiled and unspoiled and uncomprehending boy. What was he doing here? And again that neglected and thin spinster and her equally thin and distrait looking mother. Of the group, the wife stood out in the eyes of the passers-by as having the force and determination which, however blind or erroneous, makes for self-preservation, if not real success in life. She, more than any of the others, stood up with an ignorant, yet somehow respectable air of conviction. And as several of the many who chanced to pause, watched her, her hymn-book dropped to her side, her glance directed straight before her into space, each said on his way: “Well, here is one, who, whatever her defects, probably does what she believes as nearly as possible.” A kind of hard, fighting faith in the wisdom and mercy of the definite overruling and watchful and merciful power which she proclaimed was written in her every feature and gesture.

The song was followed with a long prayer and by the wife; then a sermon by the husband, testimonies by the others—all that God had done for them. Then the return march to the hall, the hymnals having been gathered, the organ folded and lifted by a strap over the husband’s shoulder. And as they walked—it was the husband that commented: “A fine night. It seemed to me they were a little more attentive than usual.”

“Oh, yes,” returned the younger woman that had played the organ. “At least eleven took tracts. And one old gentleman asked me where the mission was and when we held services.”

“Praise the Lord,” commented the man.

And then at last the mission itself—“The Star of Hope. Bethel Independent Mission, Meetings every Wednesday and Saturday night, 8 to 10. Sundays at 11, 3, 8. Everybody welcome.” And under this legend in each window—“God is Love.” And below that again in smaller type: “How long since you wrote to Mother.”

“Kin’ I have a dime, grandma? I wana’ go up to the corner and git an ice-cream cone.” It was the boy asking.

“Yes, I guess so, Russell. But listen to me. You are to come right back.”

“Yes, I will, grandma, sure. You know me.”

He took the dime that his Grandmother had extracted from a deep pocket in her dress and ran with it to the ice-cream vendor.

Her darling boy. The light and color of her declining years. She must be kind to him, more liberal with him, not restrain him too much, as maybe, maybe, she had—— She looked affectionately and yet a little vacantly after him as he ran. “For his sake.”

The small company, minus Russell, entered the yellow, unprepossessing door and disappeared.