Lo, Michael (Chapter 1, page 1 of 9)


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Chapter 1

"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.

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