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ERB Summary Project Girl from Farris's


Summarized by
Duane Adams

David Bruce Bozarth,
Managing Editor


Officer Doarty

Lieutenant Barnut - mentioned

murdered businessman - John Secor

Abe Farris - brothel owner

Maggie Lynch - heroine

Rev. Theodore Pursen - social reformer

Assistant to Rev. Pursen

Real Estate agent - Farris's

State Attorney

Odgen Secor - foreman grand jury/businessman

banker - grand jury member

Mr. Smith - grand jury member


Eddie the Dip - young hoodlum

May Beverly - brothel owner

June Lathrop - Maggie real name

Mr. Brown - Maggie's boss at the Kesner Building

Sophia Welles - Secor's fiancee

Miss Peebles - Pursen's cousin, Sec. for Society

Mr. Stickler - Secor's office manager

Miss Smith - Secor's stenographer

Mrs. Carson - employment bureau employee

Sammy - Secor's office-boy

Jim - Secor's chauffeur


Night watchman - Railway Exchange Building

elevator man - Railway Exchange Building


Miss Castrol - nurse

Norton - bank president

man from Idaho

gold mine owner

general store owner

Thompson - gambler


June's mother

John Smith - John Secor's alias


Farris's - bar and brothel

Twenty-Fourth Street - south side Chicago


Beverly Club - brothel

Dearborn Street Bridge


Wabash Avenue

Kesner Building

Railway Exchange Building

Lunch Club - on Wabash Ave.

Lake Shore Station

Grant Park

St. Luke's - hospital

La Salle Street

Shoshone, Idaho

Ketchum, Idaho

Palace Lunch Room

Q. P. Saloon

Short Line Hotel

Criminal Court Building - Chicago


Monarch of the Mornings - newspaper

Grand Jury

Cottage Grove Avenue car

Society for the Uplifting of Erring Women

Short Line Railroad

Limited - train


The first publication of this story was in All-Story Weekly on September 23, 30; October 7,14, 1916. Its original title was "The Girl From Harris's." The Wilma Company, The House of Greystoke, and Charter have also published this story.

"In ‘The Girl from Harris's' Ed adopts the role of social reformer, commenting bluntly and witheringly about the alliance, in Chicago, between certain vice interests, scheming politicians, and powerful real estate groups and property owners. In addition, through his portrait of a hypocritical clergyman he offers a caustic view of religious do-gooders and of society's narrowly puritanical standards. Ed's characters are created with a sentimentality that weakens the story's realistic effect." Porges

"... partially autobiographic description of a broken businessman leaving Chicago for an Idaho ranch where he tries gold-mining. (Burroughs had previously left Chicago to work on an older brother's ranch in Idaho, and had tried gold-mining as well.) Lupoff

"Not very good as a work of fiction." Lupoff

"... the futility of attempting to compete in a field so far removed from my own." E. R. Burroughs

Burroughs planned to expand this story but abandon it for other projects. Farris's was started at the same time as "The Mucker," a much better story. D. J. Adams

Chapter I. Doarty Makes a "Pinch"

Police officer Mr. Doarty hangs around Farris's, a bar and brothel, at two in the morning, hoping to pin something on the owner, Abe Farris. From the corner saloon comes laughter and a scream. Doarty ignores the after hours infractions because of repeated failures to prosecute. Farris no longer feels obligated to give Doarty any privileges. Doarty moves to the back of Farris's. A woman descends the rickety fire escape. She is not dressed for the evening. She maneuvers her way to the alley near Twenty-Fourth Street. Doarty stops her and learns that Farris has taken her clothes and is holding her against her will because she wanted to leave, possibly to work for the Beverly Club, another brothel. Doarty tells her that he is taking her in as a witness against Farris. The girl, Maggie, is reluctant. Doarty threatens to charge her in the murder of a well-known businessman at Farris's. The man actually died of acute endocarditis. The policeman gets her to admit that they tried to bribe her to forget the dead man's name. Doarty describes how the newspapers were pressured into squashing the story. He takes her to the police station. Maggie files a complaint against Farris. Doarty hurries back to the brothel and arrests Farris. Farris posts bond. Farris talks to Maggie and has her clothes returned plus one hundred dollars.

Chapter II. And Wires Are Pulled

The Rev. Theodore Pursen reads the "Monarch of the Mornings," an inflammatory newspaper. He complains to his assistant about the assistant State attorney's comments about him and extols his article in the Monarch of the Mornings. Doarty phones Dr. Pursen and tells him that he thinks he has the goods on Farris. He asks him to talk with Maggie so she won't back down. Pursen brings three reporters with him to the courthouse. Maggie will not talk to him because of the publicity it will raise. Pursen appeals to her to do the right thing for the community. Maggie tells him to get lost. Humiliated and disappointed, Pursen leaves. The Farris case is bound over to the Grand Jury. Farris posts bond and heads for his real-estate agent. He pressures him to get the charges dropped and to stop the moral reformers. He intimates to the agent that an important official can be bought off. He pays a visit to his city alderman. In a couple of days, a multitude of sources pressures the state attorney's office to kill the reform because it will cause the red-light houses to move into decent neighborhoods, thus ruining property values. The State Attorney knows the pressure comes from self-serving interests, but he is politically wise and ambitious. He is confident that he can make the Grand Jury do his wishes.

Chapter III. Grand Jury

Farris is free on bond. Under witness protection, Maggie is a prisoner. The Grand Jury complains about the futility of their job. The jury foreman, Ogden Secor, states what the other jurors believe, that the state's attorney manipulates them and the cases to his desired personal results. The Farris case starts. Doarty is vague. The jury member, who is a banker, questions the policeman. Doarty states that a conviction of Farris is unlikely. Jury member, Mr. Smith, asks why the case is now questionable. Before he can answer, the attorney dismisses Doarty. The state's attorney pushes the foreman to call for a vote. Mr. Smith suggests that they need to hear from Maggie, the complaining witness. The sergeant-at-arms calls Maggie to the stand. As the attorney questions the girl, Secor becomes sympathetic towards her. Maggie won't tell them why or how she ended up in a brothel. She is resolute that she is stuck in prostitution and states, "There are no good men."

Chapter IV. Decency

Maggie is dismissed. Secor asks her to wait for him in the witness-room. The jury is leaning towards a true bill. The State's attorney talks them out of it with the promise of going forwards later with more evidence. The case is dropped. Secor meets with Maggie. She is expecting an offer to become his mistress. Instead, Secor offers to help her turn her life around. As he leaves, he gives her a paper with the name of a man who can help her find a decent job. She realizes that she doesn't know the juryman's name and is disappointed to read the name on the paper, "Rev. Theodore Pursen."

Chapter V. A Friend in Need

As Maggie crosses the Dearborn Street Bridge to the Loop, she wonders if her benefactor is as crass as Rev. Pursen. In the Cottage Grove Avenue car moving down Wabash Avenue, she speculates about the man and reads in a newspaper about a job at the Kesner Building. Eddie, a pimply-faced young man, approaches her and tells her that May Beverly wants to give her a job. He also proposes to pimp for her. She refuses the offer and enters the Kesner Building. The interviewer says there are many applicants for the job. She gives him her real name, June Lathrop. He hires her. However, the pay is poor, and she has to move into an apartment near the red-light district. She works hard and studies stenography at night in an attempt to better herself. Months pass. Her boss, Mr. Brown, is forced to let her go because of budget cuts. She works as a temp for months. She takes a poor-paying job in a printing company. The boss makes an indecent proposal. She quits. She bumps into Eddie, who feeds the starving girl. He offers to pimp for her. She refuses. Eddie accepts her new life. Maggie tells him that she can't get a good job because her clothes are in rags. Eddie hocks his valuables and gives her the money.

Chapter VI. Secor's Fiancee

At the home of his fiancee, Sophia Welles, Secor asks the Rev. Pursen about Maggie. He says that she never showed up. The Rev. asks Miss Welles for a donation to the Society for the Uplift of Erring Women. Pursen explains the society. Secor discovers that the society offers little practical help for erring women. Pursen defends the society and its secretary, Miss Peebles, his cousin. Miss Welles defends the society, her pet project. Secor wants to meet with Miss Peebles before he will donate. Secor suggests helping the girl from Farris's. Pursen thinks Maggie is a hopeless case. Miss Welles makes a donation. Pursen leaves. Sophia thinks Pursen is wonderful. Secor implies that the charity is a scam to keep a relative employed. They argue about Pursen's motives. Sophia again delays their wedding date. She and her family desire the marriage to Secor to gain a higher social status. During the next month, Pursen becomes a regular visitor to the Welles. Sophia is totally committed to Pursen's cause. She wishes Pursen had Secor's money and social status.

Chapter VII. June's Employer

Secor instructs his office manager, Mr. Stickler, to find a replacement for his stenographer, Miss Smith, while he is away in New York. June Lathrop goes to the employment office in her new clothes. Mrs. Carson of the employment bureau has a job for her at the Railway Exchange Building. She goes to the office. The office-boy is suspicious of her. Mr. Stickler interviews her. He gives her a difficult dictation test. She transcribes it. She passes the test with no errors. Stickler hires her. On the way out, she discovers to her horror that she is working for John Secor and Co. A man notices Maggie giving Eddie the Dip money. Stickler and Miss Smith train June in her job. June is introduced to Ogden Secor. She wonders if he will remember her as Maggie.

Chapter VIII. Sammy the Sleuth

Secor does not recognize her. June catches Sammy, the office-boy, searching her desk. Sammy tells her that he is just practicing. He is taking a detective course to get a job at Pinkerton. He also admits tailing her to the Lunch Club when she met with Eddie the Dip. She makes him promise to stop tailing her. Secor tries to remember where he has seen June before. June finds Secor to be honorable, Stickler to be a hunter of women and Sammy to be a friend. Months pass. The Rev. Pursen comes to Secor. June worries she will be disclosed as Maggie. Pursen can't place her. Secor gives Pursen a donation. Time passes. June feels secure. Secor leaves for New York. June is called into Stickler's office. Sammy enters and tells Stickler that the police are here to see him. June is dismissed. Doarty is one of the policemen. They sell Stickler tickets to a policemen's benefit. Doarty reveals to Stickler that June is Maggie Lynch from Farris's. They leave. Stickler asks June to stay after hours and makes an indecent proposal to her. She threatens to tell Secor. Stickler reveals that he knows she came from Farris's. She rejects him. Stickler fires her. Stickler leaves for the day. Sammy, who has been hiding in the office, decides to tail Stickler.

Chapter IX. "Unclean - Unclean!"

Secor's chauffeur, Jim, picks him up at the Lake Shore Station. As they pass the Railway Exchange Building, he notices lights on. He goes to investigate. He discovers two burglars opening his safe with the combination. Only he, Stickler, and June know the combination. Secor hits one of the men over the head with his walking stick. Jim hears two shots and sees a man running towards Grant Park. He falls in the street. The night-watchman explains to the police that the fallen man had an accomplice who got away. The elevator-man takes Jim up to Secor's office, where he finds his boss beat to a pulp. Secor is taken to St. Luke's hospital. Secor summons Stickler to the hospital. Stickler calls Doarty and tells him that June/Maggie knew the combination to the safe. Stickler tells Secor that the burglars took twenty-five thousand dollars and that arrests are being made. Doarty and June enter. Doarty reveals to Secor that his secretary is Maggie Lynch from Farris's. The Rev. Pursen remembers the girl from the grand jury investigation. Secor also remembers her. Doarty implies that Maggie gave the combination of the safe to accomplices. Secor asks June if this is true. She denies being part of the burglary. The doctor enters and berates Miss Castrol, the nurse, for allowing all the people in the room. He tells them to leave. Secor, who is no longer himself, refuses to press charges. Doarty warns Maggie to leave the city.

Chapter X. "Rats Desert - -"

A month later, Secor returns to his slumping business to discover Stickler has fired June. He has blocked June's past history out of his mind. Secor can't concentrate. His business starts to go under. Stickler leaves to join a competitor. Secor declares bankruptcy. Miss Welles leaves Secor for the Rev. Pursen. Secor goes to his friend Norton, a bank president, to seek consul about getting on his feet again. He quickly realizes that Norton wants nothing to do with him. He goes into a bar on LaSalle Street and strikes up a conversation with a man from south of Goliath, Idaho, a division headquarters for the Short Line. Secor remembers that he owns a one hundred and sixty-acre ranch near Goliath. Former friends avoid him. Secor develops a drinking habit. After the bankruptcy settlement, Secor has a little cash left. He heads for Idaho.

Chapter XI. A Matter of Memory

A gold mine owner talks the once shrewd Secor into leaving the train at Shoshone to go to Ketchum. Once there, he fleeces Secor out of his remaining cash. The general store owner employs him, forces him to save his money, and keeps him from becoming a hopeless drunk. After six months, Secor demands his money and heads for Goliath. He gets drunk and goes to the Palace Lunch Room for dinner. His waitress is June Lathrop, who is shocked to see him so disheveled. He doesn't recognize her. They visit about ranching. She tells him that he'll fail if he keeps drinking. The next day he heads for the ranch with a flask in his pocket. He discovers his dream ranch is actually barren land with no water. Secor spends most of his time in the Q. P. Saloon. During a poker game, Secor catches two men cheating. A fight ensues, and a gambler named Thompson pulls a gun. Secor decks him. The sheriff takes Secor to jail where later he learns that he has killed the man. Secor is devastated. The sheriff tells him that it was self-defense. June comes to visit him in jail. She tells him who she is. The name means nothing to him but she looks familiar.

Chapter XII. Just Three Words

June visits him daily. Secor is exonerated. She feels obligated to help him because he helped her turn her life around. She wonders if the beating he received is the reason why he doesn't recognize her. June tries to get Secor to promise not to drink any more. He starts to say that he loves her, but she runs away. Secor starts to drink again and lands in jail. June visits him and tells him that he can't love her and that he must not ask why. She offers to help him regain his self-respect. She tells him to do something at the ranch, like pan for gold. He promises to try. The judge sentences him to three days on the chain-gang. June weeps when she sees him chained. The sentence sobers him up and gives him a new resolve. June realizes that she is in love with him. When he is released, she is there to walk by his side. He admonishes her not to be linked to the town drunk. She strikes back and tells him that she won't love a quitter and a coward. He asks her to declare her love for him so that he has some hope. She knows in her heart that this will eventually bring them misery. For his sake, she admits that she loves him.

Chapter XIII. "For the Murder of ..."

For a year, he pans for gold. The abstinence and the outdoor labor renews his body and mind. He starts to remember his past. Panning for gold proves to be unprofitable and the ranch is to be sold for taxes. He wants to buy it back. June informs him about a government reclamation project that would put a town in the middle of his property. She withdraws her savings and forces him to take the money as a loan. As they pass the Limited (train) on their way to the Short Line Hotel for dinner, the Rev. Pursen and Sophia, who are on their honeymoon trip, discover them. Their looks aimed at June triggers Secor's memory of the hospital scene. June fears the worst. Secor says that it doesn't matter. He still loves her and wants to get married. She reminds him of her time at Farris's. It doesn't matter to him. Doarty shows up and arrests her for the murder of John Secor, the businessman who died at Farris's.

Chapter XIV. Some Loose Threads

June's case is brought to the Criminal Court Building, Chicago. Secor hires a lawyer to defend her against the charge of murdering his uncle. June's mother is a surprise witness. She tells the story of how a John Smith's (John Secor) car broke down in front of their house. He falls in love with June, courts her, marries her, and moves her into Farris's. John uses the girl's naiveté of the city to convince her that the occurrences at Farris's are normal for a big city. On the stand, June declares that she didn't know John's name was Secor nor did she know that he was already married until after he died. Farris told her that the police would arrest her. She figures out that Farris's is a brothel. Farris tries to get her to become a prostitute. When she tries to leave, Farris takes her clothes and locks her in her room. Farris testifies that he told June about the non-marriage after John's death. Two doctors testify that John died of a heart attack. The jury acquits her. Sammy, who is a detective now, greets June outside the courtroom. June tells Secor she can't marry him because of what went on with his father. Secor informs her that John was his uncle, not his father. Sammy explains how he saw Stickler give the combination to the safe to two men at Farris's. Secor declares all of June's objections to marriage gone. June agrees.