[A hand-writted note, transcribed below, appeared on the first page of this copy of the book. The etext transcriber cannot attest to its authenticity.]
My Dear Mr. Norris:
Owing as I do so very much to your earliest and most unqualified approval of this story in manuscript form it is my determination to inscribe a copy to you whether you will or no. That it reaches either you or the public "under cover" so soon is due entirely to you. Therefore refuse not a corner on the family table to the off-spring you so generously fostered; neither attempt to deny in the future that your sins do find you out.
With the most grateful remembrances I am,
Doubleday, Page & Co.
COPYRIGHT, 1900, BY
DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & CO.
TO MY FRIEND
WHOSE STEADFAST IDEALS AND SERENE
DEVOTION TO TRUTH AND BEAUTY
HAVE SERVED TO LIGHTEN THE METHOD
AND STRENGTHEN THE PURPOSE OF
THE MAGNET ATTRACTING: A WAIF AMID FORCES
When Caroline Meeber boarded the afternoon train for Chicago, her total outfit consisted of a small trunk, a cheap imitation alligator-skin satchel, a small lunch in a paper box, and a yellow leather snap purse, containing her ticket, a scrap of paper with her sister's address in Van Buren Street, and four dollars in money. It was in August, 1889. She was eighteen years of age, bright, timid, and full of the illusions of ignorance and youth. Whatever touch of regret at parting characterised her thoughts, it was certainly not for advantages now being given up. A gush of tears at her mother's farewell kiss, a touch in her throat when the cars clacked by the flour mill where her father worked by the day, a pathetic sigh as the familiar green environs of the village passed in review, and the threads which bound her so lightly to girlhood and home were irretrievably broken.
To be sure there was always the next station, where one might descend and return. There was the great city, bound more closely by these very trains which came up daily. Columbia City was not so very far away, even once she was in Chicago. What, pray, is a few hours—a few hundred miles? She looked at the little slip bearing her sister's address and wondered. She gazed at the green landscape, now passing in swift review, until her swifter thoughts replaced its impression with vague conjectures of what Chicago might be.
When a girl leaves her home at eighteen, she does one of two things. Either she falls into saving hands and becomes better, or she rapidly assumes the cosmopolitan standard of virtue and becomes worse. Of an intermediate balance, under the circumstances, there is no possibility. The city has its cunning wiles, no less than the infinitely smaller and more human tempter. There are large forces which allure with all the soulfulness of expression possible in the most cultured human. The gleam of a thousand lights is often as effective as the persuasive light in a wooing and fascinating eye. Half the undoing of the unsophisticated and natural mind is accomplished by forces wholly superhuman. A blare of sound, a roar of life, a vast array of human