BY ALICE HEGAN RICE
Author of "MRS. WIGGS OF THE CABBAGE PATCH," "LOVEY MARY," "SANDY," ETC.
ILLUSTRATED BY WALTER BIGGS
THIS STORY IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED TO THE SMALL BAND OF KENTUCKY
WRITERS WITH WHOM IT HAS BEEN MY HAPPY FORTUNE TO MAKE THE LITERARY
I THE FIGHT
II THE SNAWDORS AT HOME
III THE CLARKES AT HOME
IV JUVENILE COURT
V ON PROBATION
VI BUTTERNUT LANE
VII AN EVICTION
VIII AMBITION STIRS
X THE PRINCESS COMES TO GRIEF
XI THE STATE TAKES A HAND
XIII EIGHT TO SIX
XV MARKING TIME
XVI MISS BOBINET'S
XVII BEHIND THE TWINKLING LIGHTS
XVIII THE FIRST NIGHT
XIX PREPARATIONS FOR FLIGHT
XX WILD OATS
XXII IN THE SIGNAL TOWER
XXIII CALVARY CATHEDRAL
XXIV BACK AT CLARKE'S
XXVI BETWEEN TWO FIRES
XXVII FATE TAKES A HAND
XXVIII THE PRICE OF ENLIGHTENMENT
XXIX IN TRAINING
XXX HER FIRST CASE
XXXI MR. DEMRY
XXXII THE NEW FOREMAN
XXXIII NANCE COMES INTO HER OWN
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
"The boy is infatuated with that girl"
"Her tense muscles relaxed; she forgot to cry"
"Don't call a policeman!" she implored wildly
You never would guess in visiting Cathedral Court, with its people's hall
and its public baths, its clean, paved street and general air of smug
propriety, that it harbors a notorious
past. But those who knew it by its
maiden name, before it was married to respectability, recall Calvary
Alley as a region of swarming tenements, stale beer dives, and frequent
police raids. The sole remaining trace of those unregenerate days is the
print of a child's foot in the concrete
walk just where it leaves the
court and turns into the cathedral
All the tired feet that once plodded home from factory and foundry, all
the unsteady feet that staggered in from saloon
and dance-hall, all the
fleeing feet that sought a hiding place, have long since passed away and
left no record of their passing. Only that one small footprint, with its
perfect outline, still pauses on its way out of the alley into the great
At the time Nance Molloy stepped into that soft concrete
and thus set in
motion the series
of events that was to influence her future career, she
had never been told that her inalienable rights were life, liberty, and
of happiness. Nevertheless she had claimed them intuitively.
When at the age of one she had crawled out of the soap-box that served as
a cradle, and had eaten half a box of stove polish, she was acting
with the Constitution.
By the time she reached the sophisticated age of eleven her ideals had
changed, but her principles remained firm. She did not stoop to beg for
her rights, but struck out for them boldly
with her small bare fists. She
was a glorious
survival of that primitive
Kentucky type that stood side
by side with man in the early battles and fought valiantly
On the hot August day upon which she began to make history, she stood in
amid a crowd of yelling boys, her feet far apart, her hands
full of mud, waiting
tensely to chastise
the next sleek head that dared
show itself above the cathedral
fence. She wore a boy's shirt and a
ragged brown skirt that flapped about her sturdy
bare legs. Her matted
hair was bound in two disheveled braids around her head and secured with
a piece of shoe-string. Her dirty round face was lighted up by a pair of
dancing blue eyes, in which just now blazed the unholy light of conflict.
The feud between the Calvary Micks and the choir boys was an ancient
one, carried on from one generation
to another and gaining prestige
age. It was apt to break out on Saturday afternoons, after rehearsal,
when the choirmaster had taken his departure. Frequently the disturbance
amounted to no more than taunts and jeers on one side and threats and
recriminations on the other, but the atmosphere
that it created was of
nature that might at any moment develop a storm.
Nance Molloy, at the beginning
of the present controversy, had been
actively engaged in civil warfare
in which the feminine
element of the
alley was pursuing a defensivepolicy
against the marauding masculine.
But at the first indication
of an outside enemy, the herd instinct
manifested itself, and she allied
herself with prompt
loyalty to the cause of the Calvary Micks.
The present argument
was raging over the possession of a spade that had
been left in the alley by the workmen
who were laying a concrete
into the cathedral
"Aw, leave 'em have it!" urged a philosophical
alleyite from the top of a
barrel. "Them ole avenoo kids ain't nothin'!--We could lick daylight
outen 'em if we wanted to."
"Ye-e-e-s you could!" came in a chorus
of jeers from the fence top, and a
brown-eyed youth in a white-frilled shirt, with a blue Windsor tie
knotted under his sailor collar, added imperiously, "You get too fresh
down there, and I'll call the janitor!"
This gross breach
of military etiquette
evoked a retort
from Nance that
was too inelegant to chronicle.
"Tomboy! tomboy!" jeered the brown-eyed youth from above. "Why don't you
borrow some girls' clothes?"
"All right, Sissy," said Nance, "lend me yours."
The Micks shrieked their approval, while Nance rolled a mud ball and,
with the deadly
aim of a sharpshooter, let it fly straight at the
white-frilled bosom of her tormentor.
"Soak it to her, Mac," yelled the boy next to him, "the kid's got no
business butting in! Make her get out of the way!"
"Go on and make me!" implored Nance.
"I will if you don't stand back," threatened the boy called Mac.
stepped up to the alley gate and wiggled her fingers in a
provocative to a juvenile
"Poor white trash!" he jeered. "You stay where you belong! Don't you step
on our concrete!"
"Will if I want to. It's my foot. I'll put it where I like."
"Bet you don't. You're afraid to."
"I ain't either."
"Well, _do_ it then. I dare you! Anybody that would take a--"
In a second Nance had thrust
her leg as far as possible between the
boards that warned the public to keep out, and had planted a small alien
in the center of the soft cement.
This audacious act was the signal for instant
battle. With yells of
indignation the choir boys hurled themselves from the fence, and
descended upon their foes. Mud gave place to rocks, sticks clashed, the
air resounded with war cries. Ash barrels were overturned, straying cats
made flying leaps for safety, heads appeared at doorways and windows, and
frantic mothers made futile
efforts to quell the riot.
Thus began the greatest fight ever enjoyed in Calvary Alley. It went down
annals as the decisive
clash between the classes, in
which the despised swells "was learnt
to know their places onct an' fer
all!" For ten minutes it raged with unabated fury, then when the tide of
battle began to set unmistakably in favor of the alley, parental
authority waned and threats changed to cheers. Old and young united in
that the Monroe Doctrine must be maintained at any cost!
In and out of the subsiding pandemonium darted Nance Molloy, covered with
mud from the shoestring on her hair to the rag about her toe, giving and
taking blows with the best, and emitting yells of frenzied victory
every vanquished foe. Suddenly her transports were checked by a
disturbing sight. At the end of the alley, locked in mortal
beheld her arch-enemy, he of the brown eyes and the frilled shirt, whom
the boys called Mac, sitting astride the hitherto
invincible Dan Lewis,
the former philosopher
of the ash barrel
and one of the acknowledged
leaders of the Calvary Micks.
It was a moment of intensechagrin
for Nance, untempered by the fact that
was much the bigger boy. Up to this time, the whole
affair had been a glorious
game, but at the sight of the valiant
on his back, his mouth bloody
from the blows of the boy
above him, the comedy
changed suddenly to tragedy. With a swift charge
from the rear, she flung herself upon the victor, clapping her mud-daubed
hands about his eyes and dragging him backward
with a force that sent
them both rolling in the gutter.
Blind with fury, the boy scrambled to his feet, and, seizing a rock,
hurled it with all his strength after the retreating Dan. The missile
flew wide of its mark and, whizzing high over the fence, crashed through
the great rose window that was the special pride of Calvary Cathedral.
The din of breaking glass, the simultaneous appearance of a cross-eyed
policeman, and of Mason, the outraged janitor, together with the
of what had happened, brought the frenzied
combatants to their senses. Amid a clamor of accusations and denials, the
policeman seized upon two culprits and indicated a third.
"You let me go!" shrieked Mac. "My father'll make it all right! Tell him
who I am, Mason! Make him let me go!"
But Mason was bent upon bringing all the criminals to justice.
"I'm going to have you all up before the juvenile
court, rich and poor!"
he declared excitedly. "You been deviling the life out of me long enough!
If the vestry had 'a' listened at me and had you up before now, that
window wouldn't be smashed. I told the bishop
something was going to
happen, and he says, 'The next time there's trouble, you find the leaders
and swear out a warrant. Don't wait to ask anybody!'"
By this time every window in the tenement
at the blind end of the alley
had been converted into a proscenium box, and suggestions, advice, and
incriminating evidence were being freely
"Who started this here racket, anyhow?" asked the policeman, in the bored
tone of one who is rehearsing an oft-repeated scene.
"I did," declared Nance Molloy, with something of the feminine
gratification Helen of Troy must have felt when she "launched a thousand
ships and burnt the topless towers of Ilium."
"You Nance!" screamed a woman from a third-story window. "You know you
never done no such a thing! I was settin' here an' seen ever'thing that
happened; it was them there boys."
"So it was you, Dan Lewis, was it?" said the policeman, recognizing one
of his panting victims, the one whose ragged
shirt had been torn
completely off, leaving his heaving chest and brown shoulders bare. "An'
it ain't surprised, I am. Who is this other little dude?"
"None of your business!" cried Mac furiously, trying
free. "I tell you my father will pay for the darned old window."
"Aisy there," said the policeman. "Does anybody know him?"
"It's Mr. Clarke's son, up at the bottle works," said Mason.
"You let me go," shrieked the now half-frantic boy. "My father 'll make
you pay for this. You see if he don't!"
"None o' your guff," said the policeman. "I ain't wantin' to keep you now
I got your name. Onny more out o' the boonch, Mr. Mason?"
Mason swept a gleaning eye over the group, and as he did so he spied the
footprint, in the concrete.
"Who did that?" he demanded in a fresh burst of wrath.
Those choir boys who had not fled the scene gave prompt
"No! she never!" shouted the woman from the third floor, now suspended
half-way out of the window. "Nance Molloy was up here a-washin' dishes
with me. Don't you listen at them pasty-faced cowards a-puttin' it off on
a innercent little girl!"
But the innocent
little girl had no idea of seeking refuge
in her sex.
Hers had been a glorious
and determining part in the day's battle, and
of having her name taken down with those of the great
leaders was one not to be foregone.
"I did do it," she declared excitedly. "That there boy dared me to. Ketch
me takin' a dare offen a avenoo kid!"
"What's your name, Sis?" asked the policeman.
"Where do you live?"
"Up there at Snawdor's. That there was Mis' Snawdor a-yellin' at me."
"Is she yer mother?"
"Nope. She's me step."
"And yer father?"
"He's me step too. I'm a two-step," she added with an impudent toss of
the head to show her contempt
for the servant of the law, a blue-coated,
brass-buttoned interloper who swooped down on you from around corners,
and reported you at all times and seasons.
By this time Mrs. Snawdor had gotten
herself down the two flights of
stairs, and was emerging from the door of the tenement, taking
curl papers as she came. She was a plump, perspiring person who might
have boasted good looks had it not been for two eye-teeth that completely
dominated her facial
"You surely ain't fixin' to report her?" she asked ingratiatingly
of Mason. "A little 'leven-year-ole orphin that never done no harm
"It's no use arguing," interrupted Mason firmly. "I'm going to file out a
warrant against them three children if it's the last act of my mortal
life. There ain't a boy in the alley that gives me any more trouble than
that there little girl, a-throwin' mud over the fence and climbing round
the coping and sneaking into the cathedral
to look under the pews for
nickels, if I so much as turn my back!"
"He wants the nickels hisself!" cried Nance shrilly, pushing her nose
flat and pursing her lips in such a clever imitation
of the irate janitor
that the alley shrieked with joy.
"You limb o' Satan!" cried Mrs. Snawdor, making a futile
pass at her.
"It's a God's mericle you ain't been took up before this! And it's me as
'll have the brunt to bear, a-stoppin' my work to go to court, a-lying to
yer good character, an' a-payin' the fine. It's a pity able-bodied men
like policemens an' janitors can't be tendin' their own business 'stid