“Is the evil of lottery-policies so great that you class it with the curse of rum?” asked Mr. Dinneford.
“It is more concealed, but as all-pervading and almost as disastrous in its effects. The policy-shops draw from the people, especially the poor and ignorant, hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. There is no more chance of thrift for one who indulges in this sort of gambling than there is for one who indulges in drink. The vice in either case drags its subject down to want, and in most cases to crime. I could point you to women virtuous a year ago, but who now live abandoned lives; and they would tell you, if you would question them, that their way downward was through the policy-shops. To get the means of securing a hoped-for prize—of getting a hundred or two hundred dollars for every single one risked, and so rising above want or meeting some desperate exigency—virtue was sacrificed in an evil moment.”
“The whisky-shops brutalize, benumb and debase or madden with cruel and murderous passions; the policy-shops, more seductive and fascinating in their allurements, lead on to as deep a gulf of moral ruin and hopeless depravity. I have seen the poor garments of a dying child sold at a pawn-shop for a mere trifle by its infatuated mother, and the money thrown away in this kind of gambling. Women sell or pawn their clothing, often sending their little children to dispose of these articles, while they remain half clad at home to await the daily drawings and receive the prize they fondly hope to obtain, but which rarely, if ever, comes.
“Children learn early to indulge this vice, and lie and steal in order to obtain money to gratify it. You would be amazed to see the scores of little boys and girls, white and black, who daily visit the policy-shops in this neighborhood to put down the pennies they have begged or received for stolen articles on some favorite numbers—quick-witted, sharp, eager little wretches, who talk the lottery slang as glibly as older customers. What hope is there in the future for these children? Will their education in the shop of a policy-dealer fit them to become honest, industrious citizens?”
All this was so new and dreadful to Mr. Dinneford that be was stunned and disheartened; and when, after an interview with the missionary that lasted over an hour, he went away, it was with a feeling of utter discouragement. He saw little hope of making head against the flood of evil that was devastating this accursed region.
MRS. HOYT, alias Bray, found Pinky Swett, but she did not find the poor cast-off baby. Pinky had resolved to make it her own capital in trade. She parleyed and trifled with Mrs. Hoyt week after week, and each did her best to get down to the other’s secret, but in vain. Mutually baffled, they parted at last in bitter anger.
One day, about two months after the interview between Mrs. Dinneford and Mrs. Hoyt described in another chapter, the former received in an envelope a paragraph cut from a newspaper. It read as follows: