Edward Fuller.

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THE



COMPLAINING MILLIONS OF MEN



h novel



BY



EDWARD FULLER



! The complaining millions of men
Darken in labour wd pain "

— Matthew Arnold



'




NEW YORK
HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS

18 9 3



Copyright, 1892, by Edward Fuller.
Copyright, 1893, by Harper & Urothers.



All rights reserved.



TO



EDAVIX MUXROE BACOX



WITH THE SINCERE REGARDS OF ONE OF HIS MANY I'lTILS

IN THE PROFESSION OF JOURNALISM, WHICH HE HAS

DONE SO MUCH TO MAKE HONOURABLE



CONTENTS



CHAP. PAGE

I. FRANCIS BARETTA 1

II. ARRAGON STREET 10

III. TERRA INCOGNITA 22

IV. "NEVER IS A LONG WORD" 34

V. THE ENEMIES OF SOCIETY 42

VI. POOR MAUD ! 53

VII. "under WHICH KING, bezonian ?" 66

VIII. MILDRED IS DOUBTFUL 76

IX. BARETTA IS CONFIDENT 85

X. " NO ONE WILL EVER LOVE YOU AS I DO !" 96

XI. PLAYING WITH FIRE 107

XII. AN EXPLOSION 115

XIII. BARETTA LEAVES ARRAGON STREET 125

XIV. DAISY IS GLAD TO SEE PHILIP 135

XV. DAISY'S STRATAGEM 146

XVI. THE NOBLE HOUSE OF SMOLZOW 155

XVII. "IT WILL BE A GREAT CHANGE" 166

XVIII. THE LION OF THE HOUR 176

XIX. AN UNEXPECTED VISITOR 1S6

XX. A PLAN OF CAMPAIGN 195

XXI. TAKEN AT THE FLOOD 206

XXII. "LA LUTTE POUR LA VIE" 219

XXIII. BARONIAL HOSPITALITY 234

XXIV. "YOU HAVE MADE ME WHAT I AM !" 247

XXV. AN EMISSARY 257

XXVI. "HOW CAN SHE ENDURE HIM?" 269

XXVII. THE DIPLOMACY OF HERR EMU 27S



CHAP. PAGE

XXVIII. BARETTA REFUSES TO YIELD 288

XXIX. IIERR EMIL SETS A TRAP 297

XXX. A FRUITLESS MISSION 306

XXXI. MAUD BECOMES ALARMED .310

XXXII. A DESPERATE HOPE 327

XXXIII. BARETTA'S HUMILIATION . 335

xxxiv. baretta's revenge . 344

XXXV. " THERE ARE BLIND WAYS PROVIDED " 354

XXXVI. "i WILL SAVE HIM !" 364

XXXVII. A CRY FOR HELP 373

XXXVIII. MAUD HEARS THE TRUTH 382

XXXIX. HEMMED IN 390

XL. THE WAY OUT 399

XLI. MRS. CADWALLADER'S PROPHECY 407



THE COMPLAINING MILLIONS OF MEN



CHAPTER I
FRANCIS BARETTA



"You must come to me on Thursday ; there are so many peo-
ple I want you to meet."

" Thank you, Mrs. Chilton," said the young man, flushing
slightly. " I shall be very grateful for the privilege."

" Oh, don't take it too seriously." Mrs. Chilton gazed anxious-
ly down the street — a rather dingy thoroughfare, choked with
traffic. " Isn't that my car coming — a yellow one ?"

" There seems to be a blockade — a big carf is standing across
the track."

" I believe Charles Street is just the very w r orst street in Boston.
I can't remember getting a Belt Line car without having to wait
and wait. That is the trouble with living at the South End. Oh,
of course you know my number, Mr. Baretta — 37 Pembroke
Square. Do you think you can find it ?"

" Yes, thank you ; I am beginning to know Boston well in these
days — some parts of it, I dare say, that few Bostonians know."

"Ah, your work — all my friends will be anxious to know
about that,"

"It isn't among them" — began the young man, with a frown
which made his dark face more forbidding than it was by nature.
But Mrs. Chilton interrupted him.

" Now don't say anything rude. Wait until Thursday — then
you may be as rude as you like. They will like you the better
for it. Well, there is my car at last." Mrs. Chilton turned a

A 1



cheerful face, with some reminiscences of rouge and powder about
the eyes, towards her companion, and put out her hand in token
of farewell. " Thursday — 37 Pembroke Square."

Baretta lifted his hat, then waved to the driver of the ap-
proaching conveyance to pull up his horses. " At what time ?"
he asked, as the car came to a stop.

Mrs. Chilton turned on the step and looked back at him.
" Oh, any time after four," she said, with a look and tone which
expressed surprise.

Baretta lifted his hat a second time, and fell back to the curb
with a conviction that somehow he had made a mistake, and that
Mrs. Chilton w r ould have snubbed him if she had had a better
opportunity. He was always making mistakes when he was
talking with people of her sort, who placed a higher value, it
seemed to him, upon the accessories of human intercourse than
upon the essentials. He could never get used to picking and
choosing his words — to thinking whether what he did was the
right thing or not. There were more important matters to con-
sider than these. It will be seen that this young man had but
a slight acquaintance with that order of society in which certain
observances come by instinct and are taken for granted. He
thought that good-breeding had to be acquired, like Latin, by a
painful mental process. Consequently he experienced some
qualms at the prospect of appearing at Mrs. Chilton's on Thurs-
day. Mrs. Chilton held no formal receptions, but she was always
at home to her friends on that day. She was a woman who
liked to see people ; and she enjoyed the desultory and harmless
gossip that diffused itself around her with each fresh arrival.
She had won no inconsiderable reputation in literature. She
wrote bad stories and good poems. Youth and beauty were
long ago things of the past — Baretta had observed the traces of
rouge and powder as he talked with her — but she was still fond
of both, and usually managed to gratify her fondness. She
understood perfectly how to be agreeable to those who were
inexperienced enough to be just a little awed by her eminence.
There was always a pretty girl or two at these informal gather-
ings to pour tea, and young men who were trying to make their
way on the newspapers and magazines invariably received from

2



her a cordial welcome. She had her little vanities, her small
weaknesses, but her kindness of heart was unfailing.

Baretta had an exaggerated idea of her importance — he had
so often seen her name in the society journals — and he felt
that it was a great triumph to be admitted to anything like
intimacy with her. Few experiences in his life hitherto had
been calculated to flatter his vanity, which even without encour-
agement was very great, He felt that he possessed more than
ordinary mental powers, but that circumstances had been against
their fullest exercise. His childhood had certainly been depress-
ing enough. His father was a barber — a man of uncertain
nationality, although he called himself a Hungarian. His mother
had been a factory -girl in a Xew England town — she died when
Francis was only five years old — and her lineage was worse than
inconspicuous. As long as he could remember his life had been
uncertain and migratory. The elder Baretta had experienced
more than his share of the changes of fortune. But he had a
cheerful temperament, and he never made any difficulty about
seeking fresh fields and pastures new. In this wandering life
Francis shared, acquiring much experience of men and things at
the expense of that confiding simplicity which is properly char-
acteristic of youth. A cheap boarding-house — and the succes-
sion of these in* the boy's experience went on with dreary unrc-
mittingness — is not an ideal place either for moral or for
intellectual development. But some faculty within him, de-
rived from one knows not what remote ancestor, made him inde-
pendent to a very striking degree of his environment. His days
at school were few and irregular ; but he learned to read and to
write, and he accumulated facts and drew inferences from them
almost without learning. Thus he early discovered that he was to
all intents and purposes a waif and stray upon the turbid current
of the world, and that whether he sank or swam depended en-
tirely upon himself. He recalled his first resolution to cut hx.se
from the wretched parental wreck with singular vividness on
this bright afternoon in early April, as he walked up Beacon
Street in the glowing sunshine. Perhaps this was because the
memory of the few words with Mrs. Chilton seemed to justify
that first plunge of long ago. He shuddered as he thought of

3



the darkness of the waters in which he had struggled. Well,
he had at least proved his right to live ; and there were great
things in the future for him — of that he felt confident. On
Thursday afternoon he might take the first step towards achiev-
ing some of them.

Another young man coming down the steps of that courtly
stone mansion which is now the Bowdoin Club stopped as he
saw Baretta approaching and held out his hand.

"How are you?" he asked, cordially. " Where have you been
keeping yourself for the past two months ?"

Instead of answering this question, Baretta stared first at the
speaker and then at the house from which he had come. " Do
you belong to the Bowdoin ?" was what he said at last.

Baretta's manner was abrupt, and the other young man flushed
suddenly as if he felt that it was also offensive. "jS t o, I don't,"
he answered shortly. "Do you?"

" Me !" cried Baretta. He had done much to educate himself,
but there were times when he lapsed from the correct use of his
mother-tongue. " Don't be absurd, Yates." He paused a mo-
ment, and then he added, with an assumption of carelessness
which was not quite free from embarrassment, " Of course, I
didn't mean to offend you."

"Offend me!" repeated Yates, with a laugh. "My dear
fellow, it's a great thing to belong to the Bowdoin. But as
for myself, I sometimes wonder that they let me into the Pil-
grim."

" I dare say there are differences which it takes you swells to
comprehend."

" See here, Baretta !" Yates had turned to walk up the street
with his companion, but as he spoke he stopped suddenly and
faced him. " I wish you'd drop that nonsensical talk. Rave
against capital all you like, but for Heaven's sake respect the
boundaries between Society and Bohemia, and remember that
I live in Bohemia."

" I will remember," said Baretta. He had apparently taken
the rebuke in good part, but there was a sudden gleam of anger
in his eyes. " Perhaps," he added, presently, " you will see me
in Bohemia before very long."

4



" Oil, so you are going on an exploring expedition in the en-
emy's country before you destroy it."

" It is you who are talking nonsense this time, Yates," said
Baretta, calmly. " But you are like all the rest. That is why
when Socialism wins it must be destructive rather than construct-
ive. The partisans of the established order misrepresent its
aims so completely, and oppose them so bitterly, that it has no
choice between surrender and war to the death. And the So-
cialists will never surrender."

" I suppose that you have talked that sort of stuff so long you
really believe it."

" Stuff! Oh, well, they called the talk about popular rights
stuff once. And then came the French Revolution."

" The French Revolution ! That's the final, convincing argu-
ment. I never knew you fellows to fail to bring it out. But it
isn't half so efficacious a threat as you think. We've had An-
archists and bomb-throwers and Johann Most since then, and
we've found out what arrant cowards the whole gang are. No,
Baretta, don't talk about the French Revolution. Threaten us
with Nationalist clubs— that will be worse."

" There is no use in discussing the subject with you," retort-
ed Baretta. " And I don't want to lose my temper."

Yates laughed again. He was a tall, fair young man, with
keen blue eyes and a sweeping blond mustache. " Well, let
us agree that I am unsympathetic and stupid, and tell me about
this excursion into Bohemia."

" Oh, that !" said Baretta, contemptuously. " It is nothing
worth talking about."

" That must be the reason that it interests me," Yates de-
clared. The two young men had now reached the corner of
Park Street, and Yates turned to go down the hill towards Tre-
mont Street. " Come over to my rooms, Baretta, and let me hear
the whole story,"

" I haven't any story to tell."

" That's what Canning's knife-grinder said, but I am not phi-
lanthropist enough to kick over your wheel."

Baretta laughed, although he did not understand the allusion
in the least. But he made it a rule never to confess ignorance

5



of anything. He had educated himself, and he did not like to
admit that there were any imperfections in the work. " Oh,
well, I will come with you," he said, " but I can tell you in a word
what I mean. I am going to Mrs. Chilton's on Thursday."

" Mrs. Chilton ? She writes that gush in the Trumpet, doesn't
she ?"

Baretta looked at Yates in astonishment. This was worse than
not knowing who Canning's knife-grinder was. " Do you mean
to say, Yates, that you have never read Mrs. Chilton's stories —
or her poems ?"

" Dreadful, isn't it?" said Yates, smiling. "But there's so
much that I haven't read. Look out ! there's an electric coming.
I hate those cursed things ; I know I shall be run over by one of
them some day."

Yates's rooms were in Livingstone Place. To reach them one
entered a narrow hallway and climbed three flights of steep
stairs. " I think it's rather pleasant when you get here," Yates
said, as he threw open the door and waited for his companion to
enter.

" Very pleasant indeed," assented Baretta, looking about him.
It was a large square apartment into which he was ushered, with
two windows looking upon the Place, and two upon Tremont
Street. The furnishings were comfortable rather than luxurious.
A big desk, strewn with books and papers, occupied the centre
of the room. There were well-tilled bookcases all around the
walls ; photographs, framed and unframed ; a few busts, one or
two good paintings, an ebony cabinet in one corner with a dis-
play of china ; crossed foils and gloves above the mantel, and
near the fireplace a morris-chair, drawn close to a small table
with a lamp upon it. There was a doorway curtained with a
Turcoman portiere which led to the bedroom beyond. Baretta,
with a feeling of bitterness, which showed itself in the corners
of his mouth, thought of his own stuffy little chamber in a
squalid part of the city, and wondered what Yates would say if
he should invite him to visit it.

" No, Mrs. Chilton's fame lias only reached me through the
Trumpet" said Yates. " But if she is a friend of yours I shall
have to make her further acquaintance — in print. Sit down,





Baretta, and make yourself comfortable. You'll find some cig-
arettes on the desk." He went to the cabinet and paused with
his hand on the door. " Will you have maraschino or curagoa ?"

" Neither — I don't drink."

" Nor smoke ?"

" No ; I can't afford to do either." Baretta spoke aggressively,
as if he expected to be disputed. But Yates merely shrugged
his shoulders, and came away from the cabinet without opening it.

" What a lot of books you have," said Baretta, after a moment
of silence, seeing that the other intended to make no reply to his
last observation. " I envy you those."

" I don't know how they have accumulated so rapidly. A
good many of them are not of much account. That set of Brit-
ish Poets is rather a good one, and there's a second edition of
Dodsley in half calf that I picked up at a bargain. Are you in-
terested in old plays ? Here is a remarkably fine set of Bell's
Theatre that I had bound up with some extra plates."

Baretta looked vaguely at the backs of the volumes indicated
and shook his head. " My reading hasn't been much in that
line — although, of course, I've dipped into them ; oh yes, I've
dipped into them. But I've had too much else to do and to
think of. I must make all my reading serve one purpose."

" Ah, it's a great thing to be so terribly in earnest. How is
it you've found time for Mrs. Chilton's poetry ?"

" Well, don't you know," replied Baretta, in an embarrassed
sort of fashion, " I hunted it up and read it after I had met her."

Yates laughed. " I see you're guilty of these little bits of
social finesse like the rest of us. And so you are going to roar
for her on Thursday."

" What do you mean by that ?"

" Don't take offence — it's a compliment, I assure you. Mrs.
Chilton is fond of lions — I know that much about her — and you
are to be the latest exhibition."

" If I thought she asked me merely to be stared at by a gap-
ing crowd — "

" Oh, you misunderstand me. It's an honour. Boston so-
ciety — all but the very best — is chiefly devoted to the pleasures
of the chase, and noble game is essential."

7



" Well," said Baretta, rather irritably, " I confess that I don't
understand you. It's absurd to suppose that Mrs. Chilton invited
me because she fancied I had any pretensions to eminence."

" Far be from me, Baretta, to destroy your guileless confidence,
but I should like some time to give you a little lecture upon
Boston and the Bostonians, and how to succeed among them."

" Success of the sort you mean is what I do not want." The
young man took a few turns up and down the room, his brows
meeting in a thoughtful frown, and a strange light flashing from
his eyes. " You would laugh at me if I should confide to you
my real ambition. You would call me a dreamer and an enthu-
siast — no, you would call me a fool. But I should like to have
you think that I am sincere."

"My dear fellow !" cried Yates, in a tone of remonstrance.

" I suppose you have heard of Matthew Arnold," Baretta went
on, still walking up and down. " I don't mean to be sarcastic ;
I dare say you have read his books, which is more than I have
done. But I once came across a poem of his — I've forgotten
what it was all about now — only two lines seemed to burn them-
selves into my memory — they seemed to tell me all at once what
my life work was to be. They must be familiar to you :

" ' The complaining millions of men
Darken in labour and pain.'

That's all — but what a picture of human life it gives ! Well,
Yates, it's to the complaining millions that I have dedicated my
poor powers. When I come to die I want to feel that I have
done my best to wipe out that monstrous injustice which men
call law, or government, or society — it's just as bad by any
name."

" I see, I see," murmured Yates, as Baretta paused and looked
at him. " But I think you are going to work the wrong way."

" The right way is not palter and compromise, at all events,"
declared the other, vehemently. " That has been tried a good
many years, and it has never led to anything but failure."

" Ah, yes ; but can the labour and pain be abolished even if
you tear down the whole social structure ? That's the point."

" One can do no more than try."

8



"And when you are sitting in the ruins, how do you propose
to rebuild ?"

" Oh, one needn't cross a bridge before one comes to it."

" You are like all the rest," said Yates. " It is impossible to
pin you down to anything definite. You ask us to close our
eyes and swallow the medicine you give us without a grimace.
But come, you haven't told me about Mrs. Chilton yet."

Baretta threw himself into a chair with an air of relaxation
which was in striking contrast to his former mood of pas-
sionate intensity. " You bring me down to the solid ground
again with a vengeance," he said. " As to Mrs. Chilton, there's
really nothing to tell except that I have met her two or three
times at the house of some people who have been very kind to
me, the Lawrences — "

" The Lawrences !" cried Yates.

"Oh, do you know them? I never heard them speak of
you. Well, and so when Mrs. Chilton met me on the street
this afternoon she asked me to come on Thursday."

" No — it is probably some one else that I am thinking of,"
Yates said, in a curiously constrained manner, ignoring the ex-
planation about Mrs. Chilton for which he himself had asked.
" The name has unpleasant associations for me, that is all.
And Mrs. Chilton — she is as charming as her poetry, I dare say."

" I thought you had not read her poetry," said Baretta, star-
ing at him.

" My dear fellow," answered Yates, gayly, " I take your word
for it. And I am really beginning to envy you your opportu-
nities."

A peculiar smile appeared on Baretta's face. " What would
you say, I wonder, if you could see Miss Mildred Lawrence?"

The book which Yates had taken up fell to the desk with a
bang.

" You do know them ?" cried Baretta, rising from his chair.

" How careless of me !" said Yates, with an air of vexation.
He looked up, and the eyes of the young men met. " Oh, I beg
your pardon," he added; "I was thinking of something else.
No, Miss Mildred Lawrence — is that the name ? — is an entire



CHAPTER II
ARRAGON STREET

Baretta felt certain that Yates must at some time have
known Mildred Lawrence, in spite of his denial ; and when he
came away from his friend's rooms he was still wondering what
the connection between them might have been. That it was a
disagreeable recollection there could be no manner of doubt.
Miss Lawrence herself must have had some motive for reticence,
because he was sure that he had more than once mentioned
Yates's name in her presence, and she had certainly given no in-
dication of recognizing it. Baretta vaguely determined that if
there were any mystery here he would get to the bottom of it.
He was rather fond of mysteries ; he made his own career one,
although the main facts of it were tolerably simple.

It was when he was about twelve years old that he had taken
his resolution to cut loose from the disagreeable associations
among which he had been brought up. With a keenness of
perception beyond his years he had realized the fact that a
drunken father was an incumbrance, and that he must get on in
the world by his own efforts. At this time the elder Baretta
was enjoying a sober interval, and was working at his trade in
Portsmouth, lie was not a bad parent, according to his lights ;
he always treated the boy kindly, and when he had any money
bestowed dimes and nickels upon him with great generosity.
Francis hoarded these gifts, and managed to add to the sum by
carrying parcels for a chemist in the place and by holding the
horses of men who resorted to the hotel for a cocktail or a
whiskey-and-soda. When he had accumulated five dollars he
bought a ticket for Boston, and thus disappeared from the New

10



Hampshire town forever. It was a hazardous undertaking, but
the boy's confidence in himself was justified by events. On the
very morning of his arrival he was attracted by a placard in the
window of a clothing-shop, which announced that extra sales-
men were wanted. He entered and applied for a position.
The man to whom he was directed looked at him and laughed.

" I guess you're hardly big enough, sonny," he said.

Francis drew himself up with an air of importance. "I may
not be very big," he observed, " but I know a thing or two."

The man laughed again, more loudly than before. " You've
got cheek, at any rate. Where do you come from ?"

" From Springfield," answered the boy. " My father's dead,
and the folks I was with didn't treat me right, and so I ran
away."

This falsehood ran so glibly from his tongue that the head
clerk accepted it as truth. " How old are you ?" he asked.

" Sixteen," said Francis.

" You're pretty small for your age."

" Well, perhaps Til grow."

" Have you any references ?"

The demand puzzled him for a moment. This was a contin-
gency for which he had not provided. But he quickly came to
the conclusion that if he got on at all it must be by sheer au-
dacity and nothing else. " I can write to Springfield," he said,
confidently, " but I don't want to. They might make me go
back."

" Have they any legal claim upon you ?" asked the clerk.

" I — I don't know exactly what you mean. They ain't no
relations."

The man looked at him a moment with a contemplative air.
" It's against the rules to hire a boy without references," he said
at last; "but I like you, young feller, and as one of our boys
has been taken sick, I am going to give you his place until he
comes back. Be here to-morrow morning at eight o'clock
sharp."

In this extraordinary fashion Francis began his career of in-
dependence. After having got his start by misrepresentations.
he resolved to be faithful to his employers, and he kept his reso-

11



lution. His early experiences had not been calculated to devel-
op in him the finer virtues ; but he had no innate love of evil,
and so long as it was not necessary to his advancement he could
be scrupulously honest. He never acquired any of those vices



Online LibraryEdward FullerThe complaining millions of men [microform] : a novel → online text (page 1 of 35)