Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Mary Meehan and PG
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 yard.
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
the pursuit 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 in
strict accord 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 for herself.
On the hot August day upon which she began to make history, she stood in
the gutter 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 with
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
that electrical 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 defensive policy against the marauding masculine.
But at the first indication of an outside enemy, the herd instinct
manifested itself, and she allied herself with prompt and passionate
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 pavement
into the cathedral yard.
“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.
Nance promptly stepped up to the alley gate and wiggled her fingers in a
way peculiarly provocative to a juvenile enemy.
“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