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Behind The Scenes In St. Louis
by [?]

St. Louis cannot be said to be a moral city. It is as immoral as any in the country. I am told that the professional Social Evil in St. Louis is an unprofitable occupation “because of amateur competition.” I am quoting a gentleman who is interested in sociological questions very largely. From what he said I deduce the conclusion that the daughters of the poor are preyed upon by the men so successfully as to account for the prevalence of virtue in the wealthier circles. Fearful stories are current of the immorality of the working girls, but these, I suppose, may be discounted to a certain extent. I hesitate to tell you some things I have heard about the tribute exacted of the girls in some of the big dry goods emporiums. Suffice it to say that these stories are told of three of the great merchant princes. One of them is said to make it a rule that no girl shall be employed who fails to understand that she is liable to his advances. Another merchant prince, portly and domineering, who gained unenviable notoriety because of his attempt at political coercion of his employes, had a bad reputation in this same line. Still another merchant prince who runs a strictly cash store, had one of his girls arrested for stealing goods and refused to prosecute her when she threatened to tell all she knew about how girls held their places in his establishment. As I say, these stories should be discounted, in all probability, but where there is smoke there is fire and most of the stories come from the girls in the big stores.

The city of St. Louis is hopelessly monotonous. It is a big place. A great business is carried on there, but it seems to be done by people somnambulistically. The soporific atmosphere that the readers feel when perusing the “Globe-Democrat” or “Republic” is characteristic of the town. The great majority of the people seem unable to arouse themselves to any action, even of viciousness. The crowd just lives as if it were soaked and sodden in the city’s vast beer output. It is content to let a few men and a few big concerns monopolize all the business. It scarcely has energy enough to try to amuse itself. It goes to bed at half past nine, and never thoroughly wakes up. The town is sleepy, notwithstanding its size and its boasted progress. It grows because it can’t help itself. The people appear to be good because they’ve not energy enough to be otherwise. St. Louis, Mo., November 10.