Many were still about the lawn as he left the cottage—they were all about him, those sick, half frantic creatures—and still they made noises; still some of them cried and sobbed; still in their waning paroxysms they moved hither and thither. They appealed to some numbed, dormant sense in Madison, in a subconscious way, as things to be avoided. And so, almost mechanically, he took the little path that, striking off at right angles to the wagon track where it joined the Patriarch's lawn, came out again upon the main road at the further end of the village.

And, as he walked, like tidal waves on-rushing, emotions, utterly at variance one with another, hurled themselves upon him, and he was swept from his mental balance, tossed here and there, rolled gasping, strangling in the chaos and turmoil of the waters, as it were, and, rising, was hurled back again.

White as death itself was Madison's face; and at times his fingers with a twitching movement curled into clenched fists, at times his open palms sought his temples in a queer wriggling way and pressed upon them. Doubt, anger, fear, a rage unhallowed—in cycles—buffeted him until his brain reeled, and he was as a man distraught.

It began at the beginning, that cycle, and dragged him along—and left him like one swooning, tottering, upon the edge of a precipice. And then it began over again.

And it began always with a picture of the Roost that night—the vicious, unkempt, ragged figure of the Flopper—the sickly, thin, greedy face of Pale Face Harry, the drug fiend, winching a little as he plunged the needle into his flesh—the easy, unprincipled gaiety and eagerness of Helena for the new path of crime—crime—crime—the Roost exuded crime—filth—immorality—typified them, framed them well as they had sat there, the four of them, while that bruised-nosed bouncer had brought them drink on his rattling tin tray. And then his own self-satisfied, smug, complacent egotism at his own cleverness, his unbounded confidence in his own ability to pull off the game, and—

Well, he had pulled it off—he'd won it—won it—won it—everybody had fallen for it—the boobs had been plentiful—the harvest rich. What was the matter with him! He'd won—was winning every time the clock ticked. Somebody back there was probably throwing good hard coin at him this minute—the damned fool! Madison threw back his head to laugh in derision, for there was mocking, contemptuous laughter in his soul—but the laugh died still-born upon his lips.

It was fear now—fear—staggering, appalling him. He was facing something—something—his brain did not seem to define it—something that was cold and stern and immutable, that was omnipotent, that embodied awe—a condemnation unalterable, unchangeable, before which he shrank back with his soul afraid. Before him seemed to unfold itself the wagon track, the road to the Patriarch's cottage; and he was there again, and whispering lips were around him, and men and women and children were there, and in front of them, leading them, slithered that twisted, misshapen, formless thing—and now they were upon the lawn, and about him everywhere, everywhere, everywhere was a sea of white faces out of which the eyes burned like living coals. What power was this that, loosed, had stricken them to palsied, moaning things!

Madison shivered a little—and a sweat bead oozed out and glistened upon his forehead. Hark—what was that! Clarionlike, clear as the chimes of a silver bell, rang now that childish voice—rang out, and rang out again—and the crutch was gone—and the lame boy ran, ran—ran! And who was that, that stood before him now—that golden-haired woman beside an empty wheel-chair, whose face was radiant, who cried aloud that she was cured! And who were these others of later days, this motley crowd of old and young, that passed before him in procession, that cried out the same words that golden-haired woman by the wheel-chair had cried—and cried out: "Faith! Faith! Faith!"

Madison swept the sweat bead from his forehead with a trembling hand. It was a lie—a lie—a lie! He had taught them to say that—but it was all bunk—and all were fools! He could laugh at them, jeer at them, mock at them, deride them—they were his playthings—and faith was his plaything—and he could laugh at them all!

And again he raised his head to laugh; and again the laugh was choked in his throat, still-born—Helena was straight! To his temples went his twitching hands. Anger raged upon him—and died in fear. Anger, for the instant maddening him, that he should lose her; rage in ungovernable fury that the game, his plans, the hoard accumulated, was bursting like a bubble before his eyes—died in fear. No, no; he had not meant to laugh or mock—no, no; not that, not that! What was this loosed titanic power that had done these things—that had brought this change in Helena; that had brought a change in the Flopper, transforming the miserable, pitiful, whining thief into a man reaching out for decent things; that had wrought at least a physical metamorphosis in Pale Face Harry—that had transfigured those three who, in their ugly, abandoned natures then, had hung like vultures on his words in the Roost that night! What was this power that he was trifling with, that brought him now this cold, dead fear before which he quailed! What was this something that in his temerity he had dared invoke—that rose now engulfing him, a puny maggot—that snatched him up and flung him headlong, shackled, before this nebulous, terrifying tribunal, where out of nothingness, out of a void, the calm, majestic features of the Patriarch took form and changed, and changed, and kept changing, and grew implacable, set with the stamp of doom. What was it—in God's name, what was it brought these sweat beads bursting to his forehead! Was he going mad—was he mad already!

And then the cycle again—doubt, anger, fear—until his brain, exhausted, seemed to refuse its functions; and it was as though, heavy, oppressing, a dense fog shut down upon his mind and enveloped it; and now he walked as a man in great haste, hurrying, and now his pace was slow, uncertain.

And so he went on, following the little path that bordered the woods on one hand and the fields on the other; went on until he neared the village—and then he stopped suddenly, and turned about. Some one had called his name.

From the field, a man climbed over the fence and came toward him. The man's face was tanned and rugged, his form erect, and the sleeves rolled back above the elbows displayed browned and muscular forearms. Madison stared at the man apathetically. This was the farm of course where Pale Face Harry boarded, and this was Pale Face Harry—but—

"Doc," said Pale Face Harry, and he shuffled his feet and looked down, "Doc, I got something I've been wanting to say to you for a week."

Madison still gazed at him apathetically—Pale Face Harry for the moment was as some unwarrantable apparition suddenly appearing before him.

Pale Face Harry raised his eyes, lowered them, kicked at a clod of earth with the toe of his boot—and raised his eyes again.

"Say," he blurted out, "I'm through, Doc. I'm—I'm going to quit."

Into Madison's stumbling brain leaped and took form but one idea—and he jumped forward, reaching savagely for Pale Face Harry's throat.

"You'd throw me, would you! You'd throw the game—would you!" he snarled, as his fingers locked.

Pale Face Harry, twisting, wriggled free—and retreated a step.

"No; I ain't!" he gasped—and then his sentences came tumbling out upon each other jerkily, as though he were trying to compress what he had to say into as few words as possible and as quickly as he could, while he watched Madison warily. "I ain't throwing nothing. I just want to quit myself. I keeps my mouth shut—see? I don't want none of the share what's coming. Say, I've got more'n a hundred times that out of it. Look at me, Doc! Say, I'm like a horse. That's the Patriarch and living honest. Say, in all me life I never knew what it was before till we comes here. If I took the dough what's coming I'd go back to the old hell, and I'd go down and out again. Say, it ain't worth it, there's nothing in it. I ain't throwing you, Doc—I just blows out of here with me trap closed. Say, look at me, Doc—don't you get what I mean?"

And then Madison burst into a peal of wild, strange laughter; and, as though no man stood before him, started on along the path—and Pale Face Harry sidled out of his way and stared after him.

"For—for God's sake, Doc," he called out, stammering, "what's the matter?"

But Madison made no answer. He heard Pale Face Harry call out behind him; in a subconscious, mazed way, he sensed the other following him, gropingly, hesitantly, for a few yards, then hold back—and finally stop.

The path swerved. Madison went on—blindly, mechanically, as though, once set in motion, he must go on. Some ghastly, unnatural thing was clogging his brain; not only in a mental way, but clogging it until there was physical hurt and pain, an awful tightness—something—if he could only reach it with his fingers and claw it away! There was black madness here, and a pain insufferable—a damnable impotence, robbing him of even the power, the faculty to think or reason, or to make himself understand in any logical degree the meaning or the cause of this thing that sent his brain swirling sick.

He halted. His lips were working; the muscles of his face quivered. And suddenly, snatching his hat from his head, he flung himself on the ground and plunged face and head, feverishly, tigerishly, into the little brook that ran beside the path. Again and again he buried his face in the cold, clear, refreshing water—and then, still on hands and knees, he raised his head to listen. Softly, full of a great peace, full of a strange sweetness that knew no discord, no strife, the notes of the chapel bell floated across the fields. Evening had come; the day's work was done—it was benediction time. It was the call of the faithful—the Angelus of those who believed.

It came, the revulsion, to Madison in a choked sob—and he stood up. The day's work was done—here. Here they would go in quiet thankfulness each from the farm to his little cottage, each to his simple, wholesome meal, each to the twilight hours of gentle communion as they talked to one another from their doorways, each to his bed and his rest, tranquil in the love of God and of man.

Madison flung back the dripping hair from his forehead. Strange, the contrast that, unbidden, came insistently to him now: The liquid notes of the bell wafted sweetly on the evening breeze; the howling, jangling turmoil of the city slums, of his familiar haunts where, in mad chaos, reigned the hawkers' cries, the thunder of the elevated trains, the noisome traffic of the street, the raucous clang of trolley bells—the sweet perfume of the, fields, the smell of trees, of earth, of all of God's pure things untouched, unsoiled; the stench of Chatham Square, the reek of whiskey spilled with the breath of obscene, filthy lips—the little village that he could see beyond him, the tiny curls of blue smoke rising like the incense from an altar over the roofs of houses whose doors had no locks, whose windows were not barred, where plain, homely folk, unsullied, lived at peace with God and the world; the closed areaways of the Bowery, the creaking stairs, the dim hallways leading to dens of vileness and iniquity where, safe by bolts from interruption, crime bred its offsprings and vice was hatched. What did it mean!

And so he stood there for a little space; then presently he started forward again; and presently he reached the village street, walked down its length, greeted from every doorway with hearty, unaffected sincerity, and after a little while he came to the hotel, and to his room—and there he locked the door.

Helena was straight—the words were repeating themselves over and over in his brain. He began to pace up and down the room. The words seemed to take form and shape in fiery red letters, being scrawled by invisible hands upon the walls—Helena was straight. Straight with Thornton, straight with any man—straight with her Maker. He knew that now—he had read it as a soul-truth in those brave, deep, tear-dimmed eyes. And he had lost her! It seemed as though he had become suddenly conscious that he was enduring some agony that was never to know an end, that from now on must be with him always. He had lost her—lost Helena.

From his pocket he drew out his keys and opened his trunks, and took out the trays and spread them about. There were very many trays, they nested one upon the other—and they were exceedingly ingenious trays—false-bottomed every one. And now he opened these false-bottoms, every one of them, and stood and looked at them. The surest, safest, biggest game he had ever played, the game that had known no single hitch, the game that had brought no whispering breath of suspicion flung its tribute in his face. Money that he had never tried to count, notes of all denominations, large and small, glutted the receptacles—jewels in necklaces, in rings, in pendants, in brooches, in bracelets, diamonds, rubies, emeralds, winked at him and scintillated and glowed and were afire.

And he stood and looked upon them. What was it the Flopper had said when they had brought the Patriarch back—he did not remember. What was it that Pale Face Harry had said a little while ago—he did not remember. These were jewels here and money—wealth—and he had won the greatest game that was ever played—only he had lost her—lost Helena. And he stood and looked upon them—and slowly there crept to his face a white-lipped smile.

"I'm beat!" he whispered hoarsely. "Beat—by the game—I won."

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