Richard Harding Davis.

Vera, the medium : Miss Civilization online

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never had any claim

The Judge interrupted quickly.

"That's all right, Stephen; that's all right,"
he said. "Don't excite yourself. Just get what
you're to say straight in your mind and stick to it.
Remember," he went on, as though coaching a
child in a task already learned, "there never was
a written agreement."

23



Vera, the Medium

"No!" muttered Hallowell. "Never was!"

"Repeat this to yourself," commanded the
Judge. "The understanding between you and
your brother-in-law was that if you placed his
patent on the market, for the first five years you
would share the profits equally. After the five
years, all rights in the patent became yours. It
was unfortunate," commented the Judge dryly,
"that your brother-in-law and your sister died
before the five years were up, especially as the
patent did not begin to make money until after
five years. Remember until after five years."

"Until after five years," echoed Mr. Hallowell.
"It was over six years," he went on excitedly,
"before it made a cent. And, then, it was my
money and anything I give my niece is charity.
She's not entitled 3

Garrett appeared at the door. "Miss Coates,"
he announced, "and Mr. Winthrop." Judge
Gaylor raised a hand for silence, and as Mr. Hal-
lowell sank back in his chair, Helen Coates, the
only child of Catherine Coates, his sister, and
the young District Attorney of New York came
into the library. Miss Coates was a woman of
between twenty-five and thirty, capable, and self-
reliant. She had a certain beauty of a severe type,
but an harassed expression about her eyes made

24



Vera, the Medium

her appear to be always frowning. At times, in a
hardening of the lower part of her face, she
showed a likeness to her uncle. Like him, in
speaking, also, her manner was positive and de-
cided.

In age the young man who accompanied her
was ten years her senior, but where her difficulties
had made her appear older than she really was,
the enthusiasm with which he had thrown himself
against those of his own life, had left him young.

The rise of Winthrop had been swift and spec-
tacular. Almost as soon as he graduated from the
college in the little "up-state" town where he had
been educated, and his family had always lived,
he became the prosecuting attorney of that town,
and later, at Albany, represented the district in
the Assembly. From Albany he entered a law
office in New York City, and in the cause of reform
had fought so many good fights that on an
independent ticket, much to his surprise, he had
been lifted to the high position he now held. No
more in his manner than in his appearance did
Winthrop suggest the popular conception of his
role. He was not professional, not mysterious.
Instead, he was sane, cheerful, tolerant. It was
his philosophy to believe that the world was in-
nocent until it was proved guilty.

25



Vera, the Medium

He was a bachelor and, except for two sisters
who had married men of prominence in New
York and who moved in a world of fashion into
which he had not penetrated, he was alone.

When the visitors entered, Mr. Hallowell, with-
out rising, greeted his niece cordially.

"Ah, Helen! I am glad to see you," he called,
and added reproachfully, "at last."

"How do you do, sir?" returned Miss Helen
stiffly. With marked disapproval she bowed to
Judge Gaylor.

"And our District Attorney," cried Mr. Hal-
lowell. " Pardon my not rising, won't you ? I
haven't seen you, sir, since you tried to get the
Grand Jury to indict me." He chuckled delight-
edly. "You didn't succeed," he taunted.

Winthrop shook hands with him, smiling.
"Don't blame me" he said. "I did my best. I'm
glad to see you in such good spirits, Mr. Hallowell.
I feared, by the Despatch "

"Lies, lies," interrupted Hallowell curtly.
"You know Judge Gaylor?"

As he shook hands, Winthrop answered that
the Judge and he were old friends; that they knew
each other well.

"Know each other so well!" returned the
Judge, "that we ought to be old enemies."

26



Vera, the Medium

The younger man nodded appreciatively.

"That's true!" he laughed, "only I didn't
think you'd admit it."

With light sarcasm Mr. Hallowell inquired
whether Winthrop was with them in his official
capacity.

"Oh, don't suggest that!" begged Winthrop;
"you'll be having me indicted next. No, sir,
I am here without any excuse whatsoever. I
am just interfering as a friend of this young
lady."

"Good," commented Hallowell. "I'd be sorry
to have my niece array counsel against me
especially such distinguished counsel. Sit down,
Helen."

Miss Coates balanced herself on the edge of
a chair and spoke in cool, business-like tones.
"Mr. Hallowell," she began, "I came-

"Mr. Hallowell?" objected her uncle.

"Uncle Stephen," Miss Coates again began,
"I wish to be as brief as possible. I asked you to
see me to-day, because I hoped that by talking
things over we might avoid lawsuits and litiga-
tion"

Mr. Hallowell nodded his approval. "Yes,"
he said encouragingly.

" I have told Mr. Winthrop what the trouble is,"
27



Vera, the Medium

Miss Coates went on, "and he agrees with me
that I have been very unjustly treated "

" By whom ? " interrupted Hallowell.

"By you," said his niece.

"Wait, Helen," commanded the old man.
"Have you also told Mr. Winthrop," he de-
manded, "that I have made a will in your favor?
That, were I to die to-night, you would inherit ten
millions of dollars ? Is that the injustice of which
you complain ?"

Judge Gaylor gave an exclamation of pleasure.

"Good!" he applauded. "Excellent!"

Hallowell turned indignantly to Winthrop.
"And did she tell you also," he demanded,
"that for three years I have urged her to make a
home in this house ? That I have offered her an
income as large as I would give my own daugh-
ter, and that she has refused both offers. And
what's more" in his excitement his voice rose
hysterically "by working publicly for her living
she has made me appear mean and uncharitable,
and "

"That's just it," interrupted Miss Coates. "It
isn't a question of charity."

"Will you allow me?" said Winthrop sooth-
ingly. "Your niece contends, sir," he explained,
"that this money you offered her is not yours to

28



Vera, the Medium

offer. She claims it belongs to her. That it's
what should have been her father's share of the
profits on the Coates-Hallowell coupling-pin. But,
as you have willed your niece so much money, al-
though half of it is hers already, I advised her not
to fight. Going to law is an expensive business.
But she has found out and that's what brings
me uptown this morning that you intend to
make a new will, and leave all her money and
your own to establish the Hallowell Institute.
Now," Winthrop continued, with a propitiating
smile, "Miss Coates also would like to be a phil-
anthropist, in her own way, with her own money.
And she wishes to warn you that, unless you de-
liver up what is due her, she will proceed against
you."

Judge Gaylor was the first to answer.

"Mr. Winthrop," he said impressively, "I give
you my word, there is not one dollar due Miss
Coates, except what Mr. Hallowell pleases to
give her "

Miss Coates contradicted him sharply. "That
is not so," she said. She turned to her uncle.
"You and my father," she declared, "agreed in
writing you would share the profits always." Mr.
Hallowell looked from his niece to his lawyer.
The lawyer, eying him apprehensively, nodded.

29



Vera, the Medium

With the patient voice of one who tried to reason
with an unreasonable child, Mr. Hallowell be-
gan. "Helen," he said, "I have told you many
times there never was such an agreement. There
was a verbal "

"And I repeat, I saw it," said Miss Coates.

"When?" asked Hallowell.

"I saw it first when I was fifteen," answered
the young woman steadily, "and two years later,
before mother died, she showed it to me again.
It was with father's papers."

"Miss Coates," asked the Judge, "where is
this agreement now ? "

For a moment Miss Coates hesitated. Her dis-
like for Gaylor was so evident that, to make it
less apparent, she lowered her eyes. "My uncle
should be able to tell you," she said evenly. "He
was my father's executor. But, when he re-
turned my father's papers" she paused and
then, although her voice fell to almost a whisper,
continued defiantly, "the agreement was not with
them."

There was a moment's silence. To assure him-
self the others had heard as he did, Mr. Hallowell
glanced quickly from Winthrop to Gaylor. He half
rose from his chair and leaned across the table.

"What!" he demanded.
30



Vera, the Medium

His niece looked at him steadily.

"You heard what I said," she answered.

The old man leaned farther forward.

"So!" he cried; "so! I am not only doing
you an injustice, but I am a thief! Mr. Win-
throp," he cried appealingly, "do you appreciate
the seriousness of this ?"

Winthrop nodded cheerfully. "It's certainly
pretty serious," he assented.

"It is so serious," cried Mr. Hallowell, "that I
welcome you into this matter. Now, we will set-
tle it once and forever." He turned to his niece.
"I have tried to be generous," he cried; "I have
tried to be kind, and you insult me in my own
house." He pressed the button that summoned
the butler from the floor below. "Gentlemen,
this interview is at an end. From now on this
matter is in the hands of my lawyer. We will
settle this in the courts."

With an exclamation of pleasure that was an
acceptance of his challenge, Miss Coates rose.

"That is satisfactory to me," she said. Win-
throp turned to Mr. Hallowell.

"Could I have a few minutes' talk with Judge
Gaylor now?" he asked. "Not as anybody's
counsel," he explained; "just as an old 'enemy*
of his?"



Vera, the Medium

"Well, not here," protested the old man queru-
lously. "I'm I'm expecting some friends here.
Judge, take Mr. Winthrop to the drawing-room
downstairs." He turned to Garrett, who had
appeared in answer to his summons, and told him
to bring Dr. Rainey to the library. The butler left
the room and, as Gaylor and Winthrop followed,
the latter asked Miss Coates if he might expect to
see her at the "Office." She told him that she
was now on her way there. Without acknowl-
edging the presence of her uncle, she had started
to follow the others, when Mr. Hallowell stopped
her.

After they were alone, for a moment he sat
staring at her, his eyes filled with dislike and with
a suggestion of childish spite. "I might as well
tell you," he began, "that after what you said
this morning, I will never give you a single dollar
of my money."

The tone in which his niece replied to him was
no more conciliatory than his own. "You can-
not give it to me," she answered, " because it is not
yours to give." As though to add impressiveness
to what she was about to say, or to prevent his
interrupting her, she raised her hand. So inter-
ested in each other were the old man and the girl
that neither noticed the appearance in the door

32



Vera, the Medium

of Dr. Rainey and the butler, who halted, hesitat-
ing, waiting permission to enter.

"That money belongs to me," said Miss Coates
slowly, "and as sure as my mother is in Heaven
and her spirit is guiding me, that money will
be given me."

In the pause that followed, a swift and singu-
lar change came over the face of Mr. Halloweli.
He stared at his niece as though fascinated.
His lower lip dropped in awe. The look of hos-
tility gave way to one of intense interest. His
voice was hardly louder than a whisper.

"What do you mean ?" he demanded.

The girl looked at him, uncomprehending.
"What do I mean ?" she repeated.

"When you said," he stammered eagerly, "that
the spirit of your mother was guiding you, what
did you mean ? "

In the doorway, Rainey and the butler started.
Each threw at the other a quick glance of con-
cern.

"Why," exclaimed the girl impatiently, "her
influence, her example, what she taught me."

"Oh!" exclaimed the old man. He leaned
back with an air almost of disappointment.

"When she was alive?" he said.

"Of course," answered the girl.
33



Vera, the Medium

"Of course," repeated the uncle. "I thought
you meant " He looked suspiciously at her
and shook his head. "Never mind," he added.
"Well," he went on cynically, striving to cover
up the embarrassment of the moment, "your
mother's spirit will probably feel as deep an in-
terest in her brother as in her daughter. We
shall see, we shall see which of us two she is going
to help." He turned to Garrett and Rainey in
the hall. "Take my niece to the door, Garrett,"
he directed.

As soon as Miss Coates had disappeared,
Hallowell turned to Rainey, his face lit with
pleased and childish anticipation.

"Well," he whispered eagerly, "is she here?"

Rainey nodded and glanced in the direction
opposite to the one Miss Coates had taken.
"She's been waiting half an hour. And the Pro-
fessor too."

" Bring them at once," commanded Mr. Hallo-
well excitedly. "And then shut the door and
and tell the Judge I can't see him tell him I'm
too tired to see him. Understand ? "

Rainey peered cautiously over the railing of
the stairs to the first floor, and then beckoned
to some one who apparently was waiting at the
end of the hall.

34



Vera, the Medium

"Miss Vera, sir/' he announced, "and Pro-
fessor Vance/'

Although but lately established in New York,
the persons Dr. Rainey introduced had already
made themselves comparatively well known. For
the last six weeks as "headliners" at one of the
vaudeville theatres, and as entertainers at private
houses, under the firm name of "The Vances,"
they had been giving an exhibition of code and
cipher signalling. They called it mind-reading.
During the day, at the house of Vance and his
wife, the girl, as "Vera, the Medium/' furnished
to all comers memories of the past or news of
the future. In their profession, in all of its
branches, the man and the girl were past masters.
They knew it from the A, B, C of the dream
book to the post-graduate work of projecting from
a cabinet the spirits of the dead. As the occasion
offered and paid best, they were mind-readers,
clairvoyants, materializing mediums, test mediums.
From them, a pack of cards, a crystal globe, the
lines of the human hand, held no secrets. They
found lost articles, cast horoscopes, gave advice
in affairs of the heart, of business and speculation,
uttered warnings of journeys over seas and against
a smooth-shaven stranger. They even stooped to

35



Vera, the Medium

foretell earthquakes, or caused to drop fluttering
from the ceiling a letter straight from the Himala-
yas. Among those who are the gypsies of the
cities, they were the aristocrats of their calling, and
to them that calling was as legitimate a business
as is, to the roadside gypsy, the swapping of
horses. The fore-parents of each had followed
that same calling, and to the children it was com-
monplace and matter-of-fact. It held no adven-
ture, no moral obloquy.

" Prof." Paul Vance was a young man of under
forty years. He looked like a fox. He had red
eyes, alert and cunning, a long, sharp-pointed
nose, a pointed red beard, and red eyebrows that
slanted upward. His hair, standing erect in a
pompadour, and his uplifted eyebrows gave him
the watchful look of the fox when he hears sud-
denly the hound baying in pursuit. But no one
had ever successfully pursued Vance. No one
had ever driven him into a corner from which,
either pleasantly, or with raging indignation, he
was not able to free himself. Seven years before
he had disloyally married out of the "profession"
and for no other reason than that he was in love
with the woman he married. She had come to
seek advice from the spirit-world in regard to

36



Vera, the Medium

taking a second husband. After several visits
the spirit-world had advised Vance to advise her
to marry Vance.

She did so, and though the man was still in
love with his wife, he had not found her, in his
work, the assistance he had hoped she might be.
She still was a "believer"; in the technical vernac-
ular of her husband "a dope." Not even the
intimate knowledge she had gained behind the
scenes could persuade her that Paul, her hus-
band, was not in constant communication with
the spirit-world, or that, if he wished, he could
not read the thoughts that moved slowly through
her pretty head.

At the time of his marriage, the girl Vera, then
a child of fourteen, had written to Vance for help.
She was ill, without money, and asked for work.
To him she was known as the last of a long line
of people who had always been professional
mediums and spiritualists, and, out of charity
and from a sense of noblesse oblige to one of the
elect of the profession, Vance had made her his
assistant. He had never regretted having done
so. The bread cast upon the waters was returned
a thousandfold. From the first, the girl brought
in money. And his wife, the older of the two,
had welcomed her as a companion. After a

37



Vera, the Medium

fashion the Vances had adopted her. In the ad-
vertisements she was described as their "ward."

Vera now was twenty-one, tall, wonderfully
graceful, and of the most enchanting loveliness.
Her education had been cosmopolitan. In the
largest cities of America she had met persons of
every class young women, old women, mothers
with married sons and daughters; women of so-
ciety as it is exploited in the Sunday supplements;
school-girls, shop-girls, factory-girls all had told
her their troubles; and men of every condition
had come to scoff and had remained to express,
more or less offensively, their admiration. Some
of the younger of these, after a first visit, returned
the day following, and each begged the beautiful
priestess of the occult to fly with him, to live with
him, to marry him. When this happened Vera
would touch a button, and "Mannie" Day, who
admitted visitors, and later, in the hall, searched
their hats and umbrellas for initials, came on the
run and threw the infatuated one out upon a cold
and unfeeling sidewalk.

So Vera had seen both the seamy side of life
and, in the drawing-rooms where Vance and she
exhibited their mind-reading tricks, had been
made much of by great ladies and, for an hour as
brief as Cinderella's, had looked upon a world of

38



Vera, the Medium

kind and well-bred people. Since she was four-
teen, for seven years, this had been her life a
life as open to the public as the life of an actress,
as easy of access as that of the stenographer in
the hotel lobby. As a result, the girl had encased
herself in a defensive armor of hardness and dis-
trust, a protection which was rendered futile by
the loveliness of her face, by the softness of her
voice, by the deep, brooding eyes, and the fine
forehead on which, like a crown, rested the black
waves of her hair.

In her work Vera accepted, without question,
the parts to which Vance assigned her. When
in their mummeries they were successful, she
neither enjoyed the credulity of those they had
tricked nor was sobered with remorse. In the
world Vance found a certain number of people
with money who demanded to be fooled. It was
his business and hers to meet that demand. If
ever the conscience of either stirred restlessly,
Vance soothed it by the easy answer that if they
did not take the money some one else would. It
was all in the day's work. It was her profession.

As she entered the library of Mr. Hallowell,
which, with Vance, she already had visited several
times, she looked like a child masquerading in
her mother's finery. She suggested an ingenue

39



Vera, the Medium

who had been suddenly sent on in the role of the
Russian adventuress. Her slight girl's figure was
draped in black lace. Her face was shaded by a
large picture-hat, heavy with drooping ostrich
feathers; around her shoulders was a necklace of
jade, and on her wrists many bracelets of silver
gilt. When she moved they rattled. As the girl
advanced, smiling, to greet Mr. Hallowell, she
suddenly stopped, shivered slightly, and threw her
right arm across her eyes. Her left arm she
stretched out over the table.

"Give me your hand!" she commanded. Du-
biously, with a watchful glance at Vance, Mr.
Hallowell leaned forward and took her hand.

"You have been ill," cried the girl; "very ill
I see you I see you in a kind of faint very
lately." Her voice rose excitedly. "Yes, last
night."

Mr. Hallowell protested with indignation.
"You read that in the morning paper," he said.

Vera lowered her arm from her eyes and turned
them reproachfully on him.

"I don't read the Despatch" she answered.

Mr. Hallowell drew back suspiciously. "I
didn't say it was the Despatch" he returned.

Vance quickly interposed. "You don't have
to say it," he explained with glibness; "you

40



Vera, the Medium

thought it. And Vera read your thoughts. You
were thinking of the Despatch, weren't you ? Well,
there you are! It's wonderful!"

"Wonderful? Nonsense!" mocked Mr. Hal-
lowell. "She did read it in the paper or Rainey
told her."

The girl shrugged her shoulders patiently.
"If you would rather find out you were ill from
the newspapers than from the spirit-world," she
inquired, "why do you ask me here ?"

"I ask you here, young woman," exclaimed Hal-
lowell, sinking back in his chair, "because I hoped
you would tell me something I can't learn from
the newspapers. But you haven't been able to do
it yet. My dear young lady," exclaimed the old
man wistfully, "I want to believe, but I must be
convinced. No tricks with me! I can explain
how you might have found out everything you
have told me. Give me a sign!" He beat the
flat of his hand upon the table. "Show me some-
thing I can't explain!"

" Mr. . Hallowell is quite right, Vera," said
Vance. "He is entering what is to him a new
world, full of mysteries, and that caution which
in this world has made him so successful "

With an exclamation, Hallowell cut short the
patter of the showman.

41



Vera, the Medium

"Yes, yes," he interrupted petulantly; "I tell
you, I want to believe. Convince me."

Considering the situation with pursed lips and
thoughtful eyes, Vera gazed at the old man,
frowning. Finally she asked, "Have you wit-
nessed our demonstrations of mind-reading?"

Mr. Hallowell snorted. "Certainly not," he re-
plied; "it's a trick!"

"A trick!" cried the girl indignantly, "to read
a man's mind to see right through your fore-
head, through your skull, into your brain ? Is
that a trick?" She turned sharply to Vance.
"Show him!" she commanded; "show him!"
She crossed rapidly to the window and stood
looking down into the street, with her back to
the room.

Vance, with his back turned to Vera, stood
close to the table, on the other side of which Hal-
lowell was reclining in his arm-chair. Vance
picked up a pen-holder.

"Think of what I have in my hand, please,"
he said. "What is this, Vera ?" he asked. The
girl, gazing from the window at the traffic in the
avenue below her, answered with indifference,
"A pen-holder."

"Yes, what about it?" snapped Vance.

"Gold pen-holder," Vera answered more rap-
42



Vera, the Medium

idly. "Much engraving initials S. H. Mr. Hal-
lowell's initials "

"There is a date too. Can you "

"December Vera hesitated.

"Go on," commanded Vance.

"Twenty-five, one, eight, eight, six; one thou-
sand eight hundred and eighty-six/' She moved
her shoulders impatiently.

"Oh, tell him to think of something difficult,"
she said.

From behind Mr. Halloweirs chair Rainey
signalled to Vance to take from the table a pho-
tograph frame of silver which held the picture of
a woman.

Vance picked it up, holding it close to him.

"What have I here, Vera ?" he asked.

Hallowell, seeing what Vance held in his hand,
leaned forward. "Put that down!" he com-
manded. But Vera had already begun to answer.

"A picture, a picture of a young woman. Ask
him to think of who it is and I will tell him."

At the words Mr. Hallowell hesitated, frowned,
and then nodded.

"It is his sister," called Vera. "Her name
was I seem to get a 'Catherine' yes, that's
it; Catherine Coates. She is no longer with us.
She passed into the spirit-world three years ago."

43



Vera, the Medium

The girl turned suddenly and approached the
table, holding her head high, as though offended.
"How do you explain that trick ?" she demanded.

Mr. Hallowell moved uneasily in his chair.
"Oh, the picture's been on my desk each time
you've been here," he answered dubiously.
"Rainey could have told you."

"As a matter of fact, I didn't," said Rainey.


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Online LibraryRichard Harding DavisVera, the medium : Miss Civilization → online text (page 2 of 9)