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Children of the Whirlwind by Leroy Scott
page 2 of 390 (00%)
uniform, dingy, scaling redness. The house of the Duchess, on the left
side as you came down the street toward the little Square which
squatted beside the East River, differed from the others only in that
three balls of tarnished gilt swung before it and unredeemed pledges
emanated a weakly lure from behind its dirt-streaked windows, and also
in that the personality of the Duchess gave the house something of a
character of its own.

The street did business with her when pressed for funds, but it knew
little definite about the Duchess except that she was shriveled and
bent and almost wordless and was seemingly without emotions. But of
course there were rumors. She was so old, and had been so long in the
drab little street, that she was as much a legend as a real person. No
one knew exactly how she had come by the name of "Duchess." There were
misty, unsupported stories that long, long ago she had been a shapely
and royal figure in colored fleshings, and that her title had been
given her in those her ruling days. Also there was a vague story that
she had come by the name through an old liking for the romances of
that writer who put forth her, or his, or their, prolific
extravagances under the exalted pseudonym of "The Duchess." Also there
was a rumor that the title came from a former alleged habit of the
Duchess of carrying beneath her shapeless dress a hoard of jewels
worthy to be a duchy's heirlooms. But all these were just stories--no
more. Down in this quarter of New York nicknames come easily, and once
applied they adhere to the end.

Some believed that she was now the mere ashes of a woman, in whom
lived only the last flickering spark. And some believed that beneath
that drab and spent appearance there smouldered a great fire, which
might blaze forth upon some occasion. But no one knew. As she was now,
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