Lo, Michael!

Produced by Charles Aldarondo, Keren Vergon, Josephine
Paolucci, and Project Distributed Proofreaders

LO, MICHAEL!

BY
GRACE LIVINGSTON HILL

“But, lo, Michael, one of the
chief princes, came to help me.”

—DANIEL, 10:13.

CHAPTER I

“Hi, there! Mikky! Look out!”

It was an alert voice that called from a huddled group of urchins in
the forefront of the crowd, but the child flashed past without heeding,
straight up the stone steps where stood a beautiful baby smiling on the
crowd. With his bundle of papers held high, and the late morning sunlight
catching his tangle of golden hair, Mikky flung himself toward the little
one. The sharp crack of a revolver from the opposite curbstone was
simultaneous with their fall. Then all was confusion.

It was a great stone house on Madison Avenue where the crowd had gathered.
An automobile stood before the door, having but just come quietly up, and
the baby girl three years old, in white velvet, and ermines, with her dark
curls framed by an ermine-trimmed hood, and a bunch of silk rosebuds poised
coquettishly over the brow vying with the soft roses of her cheeks came out
the door with her nurse for her afternoon ride. Just an instant the nurse
stepped back to the hall for the wrap she had dropped, leaving the baby
alone, her dark eyes shining like stars under the straight dark brows, as
she looked gleefully out in the world. It was just at that instant, as if
by magic, that the crowd assembled.

Perhaps it would be better to say that it was just at that minute that the
crowd focused itself upon the particular house where the baby daughter
of the president of a great defaulting bank lived. More or less all the
morning, men had been gathering, passing the house, looking up with
troubled or threatening faces toward the richly laced windows, shaking
menacing heads, muttering imprecations, but there had been no disturbance,
and no concerted crowd until the instant the baby appeared.

The police had been more or less vigilant all the morning but had seen
nothing to disturb them. The inevitable small boy had also been in
evidence, with his natural instinct for excitement. Mikky with his papers
often found himself in that quarter of a bright morning, and the starry
eyes and dark curls of the little child were a vision for which he often
searched the great windows as he passed this particular house: but the man
with the evil face on the other side of the street, resting a shaking hand
against the lamp post, and sighting the baby with a vindictive eye, had
never been seen there before. It was Mikky who noticed him first: Mikky,
who circling around him innocently had heard his imprecations against the
rich, who caught the low-breathed oath as the baby appeared, and saw the
ugly look on the man’s face. With instant alarm he had gone to the other
side of the street, his eye upon the offender, and had been the first to
see the covert motion, the flash of the hidden weapon and to fear the
worst.

But a second behind him his street companions saw his danger and cried out,
too late. Mikky had flung himself in front of the beautiful baby, covering
her with his great bundle of papers, and his own ragged, neglected little
body; and receiving the bullet intended for her, went down with her as she
fell.

Instantly all was confusion.

A child’s cry—a woman’s scream—the whistle of the police—the angry roar
of the crowd who were like a pack of wild animals that had tasted blood.
Stones flew, flung by men whose wrongs had smothered in their breasts and
bred a fury of hate and murder. Women were trampled upon. Two of the great
plate glass windows crashed as the flying missiles entered the magnificent
home, regardless of costly lace and velvet hangings.

The chauffeur attempted to run his car around the corner but was held up at
once, and discreetly took himself out of the way, leaving the car in the
hands of the mob who swarmed into it and over it, ruthlessly disfiguring it
in their wrath. There was the loud report of exploding tires, the ripping
of costly leather cushions, the groaning of fine machinery put to torture
as the fury of the mob took vengeance on the car to show what they would
like to do to its owner.

Gone into bankruptcy! He! With a great electric car like that, and servants
to serve him! With his baby attired in the trappings of a queen and
his house swathed in lace that had taken the eyesight from many a poor
lace-maker! He! Gone into bankruptcy, and slipping away scot free, while
the men he had robbed stood helpless on his sidewalk, hungry and shabby and
hopeless because the pittances they had put away in his bank, the result of
slavery and sacrifice, were gone,—hopelessly gone! and they were too old,
or too tired, or too filled with hate, to earn it again.

The crowd surged and seethed madly, now snarling like beasts, now rumbling
portentously like a storm, now babbling like an infant; a great emotional
frenzy, throbbing with passion, goaded beyond fear, desperate with need;
leaderless, and therefore the more dangerous.

The very sight of that luxurious baby with her dancing eyes and happy
smiles “rolling in luxury,” called to mind their own little puny darling,
grimy with neglect, lean with want, and hollow-eyed with knowledge
aforetime. Why should one baby be pampered and another starved? Why did the
bank-president’s daughter have any better right to those wonderful furs and
that exultant smile than their own babies? A glimpse into the depths of the
rooms beyond the sheltering plate glass and drapery showed greater contrast
even than they had dreamed between this home and the bare tenements they
had left that morning, where the children were crying for bread and the
wife shivering with cold. Because they loved their own their anger burned
the fiercer; and for love of their pitiful scrawny babies that flower-like
child in the doorway was hated with all the vehemence of their untamed
natures. Their every breath cried out for vengeance, and with the brute
instinct they sought to hurt the man through his child, because they had
been hurt by the wrong done to their children.

The policeman’s whistle had done its work, however. The startled inmates of
the house had drawn the beautiful baby and her small preserver within the
heavy carven doors, and borne them back to safety before the unorganized
mob had time to force their way in. Amid the outcry and the disorder no one
had noticed that Mikky had disappeared until his small band of companions
set up an outcry, but even then no one heard.

The mounted police had arrived, and orders were being given. The man who
had fired the shot was arrested, handcuffed and marched away. The people
were ordered right and left, and the officer’s horses rode ruthlessly
through the masses. Law and order had arrived and there was nothing for the
downtrodden but to flee.

In a very short time the square was cleared and guarded by a large force.
Only the newspaper men came and went without challenge. The threatening
groups of men who still hovered about withdrew further and further. The
wrecked automobile was patched up and taken away to the garage. The street
became quiet, and by and by some workmen came hurriedly, importantly, and
put in temporary protections where the window glass had been broken.

Yet through it all a little knot of ragged newsboys stood their ground in
front of the house. Until quiet was restored they had evaded each renewed
command of officer or passer-by, and stayed there; whispering now and again
in excited groups and pointing up to the house. Finally a tall policeman
approached them:

“Clear out of this, kids!” he said not unkindly. “Here’s no place for you.

Clear out. Do you hear me? You can’t stay here no longer:”

Then one of them wheeled upon him. He was the tallest of them all, with
fierce little freckled face and flashing black eyes in which all the evil
passions of four generations back looked out upon a world that had always
been harsh. He was commonly known as fighting Buck.

“Mikky’s in dare. He’s hurted. We kids can’t leave Mick alone. He might be
dead.”

Just at that moment a physician’s runabout drew up to the door, and the
policeman fell back to let him pass into the house. Hard upon him followed
the bank president in a closed carriage attended by several men in uniform
who escorted him to the door and touched their hats politely as he vanished
within. Around the corners scowling faces haunted the shadows, and murmured
imprecations were scarcely withheld in spite of the mounted officers. A
shot was fired down the street, and several policemen hurried away. But
through it all the boys stood their ground.

“Mikky’s in dare. He’s hurted. I seen him fall. Maybe he’s deaded. We kids
want to take him away. Mikky didn’t do nothin’, Mikky jes’ tried to save
der little kid. Mikky’s a good’un. You get the folks to put Mikky out here.
We kids’ll take him away”

The policeman finally attended to the fierce pleading of the ragamuffins.
Two or three newspaper men joined the knot around them and the story was
presently written up with all the racy touches that the writers of the hour
know how to use. Before night Buck, with his fierce black brows drawn in
helpless defiance was adorning the evening papers in various attitudes as
the different snapshots portrayed him, and the little group of newsboys and
boot-blacks and good-for-nothings that stood around him figured for once in
the eyes of the whole city.

The small band held their place until forcibly removed. Some of them were
barefoot, and stood shivering on the cold stones, their little sickly,
grimy faces blue with anxiety and chill.

The doctor came out of the house just as the last one, Buck, was being
marched off with loud-voiced protest. He eyed the boy, and quickly
understood the situation.

“Look here!” he called to the officer. “Let me speak to the youngster. He’s
a friend, I suppose, of the boy that was shot?”

The officer nodded.

“Well, boy, what’s all this fuss about?” He looked kindly, keenly into the

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