Richard Lawrence Makin.

The beaten path; a novel online

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Set up, electrotyped, and published August, 1903.

Norioood Press

J. 5. Cutting & Co. Berwick & Smith Co.
Norwood, Mats., U.S.A.

" This that they call ' Organizing of Labor? is, if
well understood, the Problem of the whole Future,
for all who will in future pretend to govern men"

THOMAS CARLVLE, " Past and Present," Bk. IV, Chap. III.




I. A Candidate ....... . i

II. Margaret Leverson . . . . 15

III. A Movable Feast 22

IV. The Valley of the Shadow 35

V. Lazarus and Dives ....... 45

VI. The Leverson Chess-board 56

VII. The Fitness of Things ........ 65

VIII. Another Feast 74

IX. A Mere Matter of Business ...... 85

X. Mobray Doniphan's Carriage is kept Waiting . . 98

XI. One-sided Confidence 112

XII. An Unfortunate Success ...... 122

XIII. The Burney House 132

XIV. Piety and Wit *.'.'..". . . .149

XV. Dangerous Ground 159

XVI. Counter-currents 167

XVII. Brockton Junction 175

XVIII. Leverson hears a Great Deal too much about Owen

Thallon 192

XIX. The Colonel faces an Unexpected Development . . 204

XX. A False Step 221

XXI. Reggie makes a Clean Breast of It . . . . 236

XXII. "But kept all these Things and pondered them in her

Heart" 249

XXIII. Mobray Doniphan finds himself out of his Element . 267





XXIV. Whitelaw searches a Title . . . . .

XXV. A Man and a Priest

XXVI. Whitelaw is put in his Proper Place and makes

the Most of It

XXVII. The Colonel and Whitelaw chant the Requiem of a

Respectable Corporation

XXVIII. In which a Free-thinker and an Evangelist stretch
the Colonel's Elastic Temper to the Breaking

Point . - * * r ,;

XXIX. Smiles and Tears * .

XXX, Great Things, and Small . . .
XXXI. Of Controlling Interests, Financial and Otherwise .
XXXIL The Barriers -break Down . . , ..-..

XXXIII. Unspoken .

XXXIV. At Odds

XXXV. Margaret sends a Message

XXXVI. The Leverson Dinner is kept Waiting .

XXXVII. Leverson's Limit



2 9 I




Light in Darkness 512






AN accident had happened at the Leverson Car Works.
Being the noon hour, the crowd about the entrance was
representative of every shop in Brockton as Dr. Lindley, in
answer to the hurry call sent out fifteen minutes before,
elbowed his way through the thickly packed mass of human
beings drawn together by sympathy or curiosity.

" It's Rough Raggles's little girl," some one called from
the front rank for the information of those behind, " and
kilt for sure ! "

"God help the mother ! She doesn't know yet," a woman
said. .half to herself, as she turned away.

" What did they send fer the Doctor fer, if the child's
gone? Raggles has no too much money to spend on doc-
tors," remarked a second woman.

"Why, to hold an inquest, you goon," came from a
third, with a touch of superior wisdom. " Even one of the
Raggles kids will have to have that much done fer it. But
you needn't worry. It'll be at ther cost of the county, so
Raggles '11 be no worse off. There's enough kids left,
I reckon."

The woman who spoke last wore no unkindly face ; she
was simply taking a glance at the great balance sheet of


life and death as it appeared from her point of view. She
had buried a good many children herself and had survived
it. On the whole, there were many things worse than
death, and she shrewdly suspected the first speaker of a
leaning toward the sentimental not to be encouraged. (

Meanwhile the Doctor had pushed his way into the freer '
space inside the shop, where, between the great entrance
door, fringed with its rows of curious faces, and the pon-
derous machinery, now no longer in motion, he came upon
a smaller group bending over a mere atom of humanity
lying upon a pile of rough coats spread out on the earthen

The child's head rested upon the arm of one of the
workmen, who did not turn nor look up as the rest moved
aside to let the Doctor pass, but continued in his kneeling
position, his eyes fixed intently upon the face of the dead

" Electric shock ! How did it happen ? "

The Doctor asked the question of the crowd collectively,
though he lost no time in waiting for an answer, lifting the
limp little wrist in his left hand, and passing his right, with
a quick professional touch, over the face and shoulders,
keeping it for an instant over the heart.

" It war ther big dynamo, the one we calls ther ' Man-
killer,' Dr. Lindley," one of the workmen volunteered.
" The child brought Haggles his dinner just before noon,
and on her way back she cut through the dynamo room.
She'd picked up a bit of a scrap of iron to play wid, and in
some way she must'er touched the armature. It had its
grip on 'er before any of us could snatch 'er away. She's
er goner, sure, poor little kid ! "

" The same way Fielding was killed last fall," the Doctor
muttered, half to himself. " It's the Leverson way of
running things;" and then he added aloud, "Where's
Raggles ? "


" He's been took home all broke up," the same man
answered again. " He war 'most afraid to go home ter see
his wife, but Meyer, the preacher" (pointing to the man
supporting the child's head), " said he'd f oiler him later wid
ther body, soon as ther curriner seen it. I reckon they'd
take it kindly, Doctor, if you'd hold the inquest long toward
evenin' down to their house. It 'ud be a kind of satisfac-
tion to 'em, and a good many of the hands 'ud like ter be
there out of respect to Mrs. Raggles."

" I'll make it half-past seven," the Doctor said thought-
fully. " I shall want any of you who saw the accident as
witnesses, and six of you for a jury." And resuming his
usual crisp, matter-of-fact tone, he ran over several familiar
names of those present, the fact that these appointments
were considered to confer a certain degree of distinction
upon the recipient not escaping his acute perceptions. He
had noticed the same thing under similar circumstances

This last duty had brought the Doctor to his feet again.
The workman preacher, Meyer, had also risen, bearing the
child's body in his arms with a delicacy of touch one would
not have looked for in a man of his class. Much thrown
as the Doctor was with that class, in his capacity of general
practitioner, Meyer was more or less known to him by
reputation, but until now he had never found himself
at such close quarters with him. It was with a certain
growing interest that Lindley observed the man as he
stood there without speaking, as if waiting the coroner's
permission to depart.

The tall, spare figure, clad in its workman's loose-fitting
clothes, might not have attracted attention under other
circumstances, but now the Doctor noted that the man held
himself more erect than most of his kind, and that the
carriage of the head upon the long, thin neck had a certain
dignity about it, almost stately, the Doctor thought.


The face was framed in great masses of dark, slightly
wavy hair, worn long, while below a scantier beard failed
to hide a sensitive mouth, which might have seemed almost
womanish had it not been for the deep, strong lines just
below it ; lines the purport of which, to Lindley's experi-
enced eyes, there was no questioning, lines of suffering
borne patiently. Yet he was young, certainly short of

His lips were moving slightly, the large, dark eyes still
fixed upon the light burden he carried in his arms with
this same rapt intensity of gaze as if they were piercing
into unfathomable depths, eyes characteristic of the
man and the type, of the religious enthusiast and devotee.

" I know of your work among these people," Lindley
said, addressing Meyer directly for the first time. " I'm
glad you've consented to go to them in their trouble. You
can help them if any one can."

Meyer's face flushed with pleasure at the words, yet the
smile which flitted across it died out again as he answered

" I know I can bring them comfort if they will but take
it, so many will not."

The words puzzled Lindley, but setting them down
rather to the peculiar phraseology of a class than being
fraught with any special meaning, and being, as usual,
pressed for time, he dismissed them without much ponder-
ing, and hurried off to the main office of the mill fronting
on the street, outside of which he had left his horse and
buggy. He had barely reached the door, however, when
a light touch upon his sleeve made him turn sharply to
find himself facing a young fellow of perhaps five and
twenty, whom a moment before he had noticed standing
just outside the crowd, an interested spectator of what had
been passing.

" I beg pardon for interrupting you in this sad business,"


the stranger began with some hesitation, " but can you tell
me if there's any use my waiting here to see Mr. Leverson ?
I can't find any one in the office, and about all I can elicit
from the foreman is that the proprietor of the establish-
ment is not here now."

"They're all more or less rattled over this business,"
the Doctor said good-naturedly, "but I happen to know
from experience that the Leverson Works is about the
last place to find Ashton Leverson. If it's any business
connected with the Works, you'd better see Mr. Dobson,
the Manager."

" No, it has no connection of that kind," the other
answered in the hurried tone of a man conscious that
he is taking up valuable time, "and yet this is the ad-
dress given in an advertisement in answer to which
I've come some distance, at at a good deal of incon-

As he spoke, the answer to the advertisement drew
from its vest pocket a crumpled bit of newspaper and
handed it to the Doctor as if it were a voucher for its
respectability. Lindley ran his eye over it, taking in at
the same time the sufficiently patent facts that the stranger
was very plainly though neatly dressed, and that he looked
tired dog tired.

" Humph ! Advertises for a private secretary and gives
this address ! Odd, and therefore like Leverson," the
Doctor muttered. " Here, Dobson ! " addressing a tall,
spare man with an anxious face, who just then hurried
past in the direction of the office. " What's the meaning
of this ? Leverson's advertised for a secretary and gives
this address."

"I'd like to find out who sees the applicants," the
stranger put in politely.

" I do, more's the pity," Dobson growled, eying the new
arrival with much distrust, though addressing the Doctor.


" They've been turning in here all yesterday and all this
morning, and he hasn't so much as left me a word of
instructions. I sent the first batch up to the house, as
I couldn't tell what in thunder they were after, and he
sent back word I wasn't to do that again, and I won't.
I just turn 'em loose! So, you see, I'm through with
you ! " he added, turning contemptuously upon the appli-

"Very likely," the stranger remarked quietly, "but I'm
not quite through with you. I want to know in plain
English whether or not the situation's taken. If you
don't happen to know, you'd better say so."

" And you'd better get out, young man, and leave me in
peace ! " Dobson snapped angrily. " I can't be bothered
with out-at-elbows candidates for the place of Leverson's

" Really ! " the candidate retorted with amiable com-
posure, though he had thrown back his head and fixed a
pair of cold gray eyes on the irate Dobson ; " I beg par-
don, I thought I was speaking to his puppy-dog."

For an instant there was an ugly look in the Manager's
eyes, but the stranger was an easy two inches over six feet,
and the Doctor made haste to relieve the situation.

" Oh, come ! we haven't time to waste over definitions ! "
he said good-humoredly. " I know you're rattled over this
business, Dobson, but you might find time to answer a
civil question."

" Answer ! Haven't I answered ? " the Manager snorted
scornfully. " As he's so anxious to know it, I believe one
of the lot that was here this morning went back and got
the place, so there's no use any more following." And
with another snort Dobson disappeared into the shop.

As he handed back the scrap of paper to the dismissed
candidate, Lindley noticed that the slight flush which had
mounted to his forehead at Dobson's words had given


place to a deadly pallor, and that, after the manager's
exit, he leaned, as if for support, against the jamb of the
office door.

" Oh, come, I wouldn't mind him. As I said, he's rat-
tled over this business," the Doctor remarked soothingly.
" You've been travelling a goodish bit, I should say," he
added interrogatively, with a more careful scanning of the
stranger's face and figure. " In from Lancaster, mebby ? "

" No, I came down the river from Harrisburg yesterday
on one of the timber rafts. We got into a good many
jams so that we were late in last night, and I put up with
some of the lumbermen at one of their inns at the lower
end of the town. I was a trifle fagged and had the bad
judgment to oversleep myself this morning; which may
result, it seems, in my having to walk back again, as the
current don't run both ways on the Susquehanna."

The incongruity of a young fellow with the address and
bearing of a gentleman, who was an applicant for a posi-
tion of trust, travelling, from seeming motives of economy,
on timber rafts and putting up at lumbermen's inns, did
not decrease the Doctor's interest in the new arrival, but
he bided his time.

" Oh, I wouldn't give the thing up as hopeless," he
began cheerily. " It beats me what in the world Lever-
son can want a secretary for, but as he does, I wouldn't
give it up without a try. It by no means follows that he
will get on with this new one, and before the afternoon
the place may be vacant again. From what I know of
him I should say making vacancies was Leverson's strong

" And how far may it be to Mr. Leverson's house ? "

" It's pretty well on the other side of the town from
here. You can go there by electric cars from the Brock-
ton post-office, and that's a mile. You'd better take a seat
in my buggy ; I can get you that far."


" You're very good," the stranger answered, his face
flushing again. " Your offer sounds tempting."

"Jump in, then," Lindley said, proceeding, without
further words, to conduct the candidate through the office
and across the narrow sidewalk which bordered the Works
on this side, where, shouldering their way through the still
gaping crowd, they mounted into the Doctor's comfortable

Neither spoke for the next few minutes, the Doctor's
attention being entirely absorbed in handling his spirited
mare, while his companion threw himself wearily back on
the deep seat as if he enjoyed the luxury.

It was only the profile of the face that the Doctor
caught when later, the mare having dropped into an
easier pace, he turned once more toward his companion,
but he saw enough to answer one or two questions that
had just entered his head respecting this latest acquisition
of Brockton. Despite the weary look in his eyes and his
ready acceptance of a helping hand, there was an odd
suggestion of self-confidence about him, as perceptible in
the closely knit, muscular figure, as in the firmly set lines
of a square jaw, the slightly compressed lips, or the broad,
low forehead.

" Humph, enough brain, bone, and tissue to make him
more than passable," was the Doctor's inward comment.
" Yet he's drawn a bit heavily on the latter. I'll bet a hat
he's not tasted breakfast, and here we are at dinner time."
This conviction was so strong with the Doctor, and he was
so afraid of involuntarily giving it expression, that he
plunged into other matters rather abruptly.

"Were you in business in Harrisburg ? " he began inno-
cently, flicking a fly off the mare's polished flank, and
then apologizing for the liberty with a " Whoa, Nell !
Gently, girl, gently ! "

" I spent a couple of years with the law firm of Hartley


and Bald as clerk," the other said in the tone of a man
anxious to make a good impression. "I've a letter from
them here which may prove of use to me, and after that
I took a place on the Sentinel, because I couldn't well
afford to go on with the law, and thought journalism
might give me a chance. I was there nearly a year when
the paper changed hands and I was left out in the cold ;
so after knocking around for a month or two, my eye
caught Mr. Leverson's advertisement, and I started out
to see if I couldn't better myself here. It struck me there
might be a chance to start something on my own account
in the newspaper line in a smaller town, and this place
with Mr. Leverson would give me bread and butter while
I was looking about."

" Yes, I see ! Well, if you get the place, your bread's all
right, though I'm not so sure about the butter, for Lever-
son's not given to high wages," the Doctor laughed, run-
ning his eye with evident satisfaction over the contents
of the large blue envelope his companion handed him.
"That's all right," he said as he returned it. "I know
Bald slightly myself. I see your name's Thallon Owen
Thallon. Humph ! It's a name with a sort of prosperous
ring to it, so you ought to get on. All you want, I reckon,
is to get started right, and that's what we've got to see to
now. I'm sorry you've struck a poor time to see Ashton
Leverson on business."

" If you mean it's his dinner hour, I needn't hurry up
there, as far as that goes."

" Oh, Lord, no ! It's not that. Leverson's a swell and
dines late. That's one innovation since his brother's time,
his elder brother, John Leverson."

"Yes? I've heard the name," the younger man said,
with the polite encouragement due to one who was giving
him a mile lift behind a good horse.

" There was a good fifteen years' difference between the


two, and some other differences which counted for more,"
the Doctor ran on, with unconcealed delight in his dis-
covery of an absolutely fresh listener who came so highly
recommended. "John Leverson did well by his business,
and as a natural consequence his business did well by him.
He'd built these works by the time he was thirty, and at
forty he was a rich man. Never for one little minute what
you'd call stuck up, you know, but in his way as proud as
Lucifer, as he had a good right to be."

Thallon murmured his appreciation of this admirable

" Had a trick of carrying his head thrown well back, "
the Doctor went on in pleased reminiscence ; " the way
you held yours just now when Dobson was trying to jump
on you. Oddly enough you reminded me of him then
for half a minute. Hello, you're not sick, are you ? "
This with a touch of professional concern to his com-
panion, who had sunk back into his seat, the gray look on
his face again.

" No, not ill, only a trifle fagged. I shall be all right
after a bit," the latter said hastily, passing his hand across
his forehead as if he brushed aside a distasteful subject.
" From what you say " he spoke now in a lighter vein,
not devoid of effort "I draw the conclusion that you
don't like the younger Leverson. As for the brother, it's
easy to see that he had all the virtues which go to make
up that paragon of goodness, ' the self-made man ' the
kind which invariably returns to his native farm to lift the
mortgage, endows the village with a library in memory of
his mother, or the meeting-house with a chime of bells,
marries his early love, the village beauty, and lives happily
ever after. No breath of scandal about him, of course."

" All wrong," the Doctor answered, laughing. " John
Leverson was anything but a saint. I reckon he had his
fling like other boys in his younger days, though that was,


of course, a trifle before my time ; but he did fill the place
that belonged to him, and he filled it well, which is more
than can be said for his successor."

" Anything but a saint," Thallon repeated slowly, as if
he enjoyed the sound of the words. " Yes, I've heard the
name before. Pray go on."

" Oh, there isn't much more to tell ; he lived and died a
plain Pennsylvania manufacturer, but he made the mistake
of trying to educate his brother into something better.
Knowing him as I did, I was never able to understand
that in him. I suppose there must have been a streak of
blamed foolishness back somewhere in the Leverson stock,
and that was the way it took to come out in him. For
himself, he was satisfied to own and run half of Brockton,
as Brockton was in those days, when the lower Susque-
hanna Valley was at its best. He did it too, before he
died, but he certainly encouraged Ashton to look out for
broader fields to browse in."

" Literature ? " suggested his listener, smiling wickedly.

"The Lord only knows what he'd planned for him. All
I know is that he started in wrong. To give Ashton a
college education was quite right, though it ought to have
been with some definite object, and I suppose keeping him
over in Europe needn't have ruined him, but it hardly
fitted him to take up his brother's business. I've thought
sometimes that he never intended him to take it up at all,
but if he had other plans, sudden death turned them all
into thin air. Any one would have said that John Lever-
son had a good thirty years before him, when at forty-five
he turned a sharp corner and went out like a candle. That
was three years ago. He died after a week's illness, with-
out so much as a word, let alone the stroke of a pen, and,
of course, everything fell to Ashton. How he's taken it
up, you'll be better able to judge when you make his
acquaintance. Even if he were ready to do the work,


which he isn't, he knows no more about running a shop
than a five-year-old baby. The whole thing's in the hands
of middlemen and superintendents and the result's chaos."

" I judged from his advertisement and from things I've
heard, that he was engaged in assisting hungry editors to
fill their magazines," Thallon said, in the tone of a man
who regarded that as an excuse for anything.

" Oh, my, yes ! That is, he thinks he is," the Doctor put
in with great contempt. " I hear he's writing a book a
novel, or some such drivel. It's his latest fad, just as last
year he went in for yachting, and the year before for horses.
If he knows as much about his book as he does about
horses, it must be a peach. I suppose he wants a secre-
tary to look out the long words in a dictionary, and to
transpose something he's read so people '11 think it's his.
Has piles of literary chaps up from the city to eat his
dinners for a week at a time and scratch his back until
they hear him purr. On the whole a meaner lot I never
laid eyes on ; though, by the way, I mean no reflection on
the profession in general. Journalism's another matter;
something might be done at that by a young fellow with
push and some vestige of a conscience. However, that's
all in good time."

" Yes. What I'm worrying about just now is whether
Mr. Leverson can be prevailed upon to employ another
middleman," Thallon said, welcoming the change of

" Who'll take the same place at Elmhurst that Dobson
does at the mill, some one with unlimited responsibility
and no authority. A sort of clerical dry nurse under con-
trol of the infant," Lindley said with a shrug, and then
gave his attention to his mare again, as she swung into an
open gateway, with " Whoa, Nell ! Steady, girl ! Here we
are at my house, as the vixen knows well enough. You'd
better come in and take pot luck with us."


For the moment surprise, perhaps, predominated over
Thallon's gratitude. At any rate, it was several seconds
before he expressed any.

Had he been a less attentive listener, he would have
noticed some time before that they had driven a good deal
more than a mile and had left the manufacturing and busi-
ness sections of the town well behind them. The latter part
of their way had been through broad macadamized streets
shaded by double rows of elms, the large, old-fashioned,
frame houses on either side standing well back, surrounded
by trimly kept lawns and gardens. It was before one of
the least pretentious of these houses that the mare had

Online LibraryRichard Lawrence MakinThe beaten path; a novel → online text (page 1 of 40)