The Devil in the White City

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Summary

Part II: An Awful Fight (Chapters 22-25)

Summary Part II: An Awful Fight (Chapters 22-25)

Summary: Chapter 22: Acquiring Minnie

Holmes continues to prosper off his ventures. He collects rent, runs the hotel, manages a mail-order medicine service, and leads the Silver Ash Institute, among others. He continues to furnish his hotel on credit without intending to pay. He sympathetically wards off letters from the Cigrands, Conners, and private detectives, giving false leads and promising to notify police if he hears anything about the whereabouts of the young women, whom he actually murdered.

While searching for a new secretary, Holmes discovers that an old acquaintance, Minnie R. Williams, has moved to Chicago. Her “plain, short, and plump” physical appearance isn’t his usual type.

Minnie and her sister Anna were orphaned in Mississippi. Anna went to a reverend, and Minnie went to Texas with her rich guardian-uncle. When he died in her third year at the Boston Academy of Elocution, she inherited a valuable estate in Texas. Holmes met her on a business trip to Boston and made successive trips to court her with gifts and outings. Eventually he bored of her, but she had fallen in love.

Holmes asks Minnie to work for him, then to marry him, on one condition: she must call him Henry or Harry Holmes, though she only knows him as Harry Gordon. Unbeknownst to her, he never records their marriage, and he remains married to Clara Lovering and Myrta Belknap on paper. He persuades Minnie to transfer the Texas land to “Alexander Bond,” (Holmes) who gives the deed to “Benton T. Lyman” (Pitezel). Holmes now owns Minnie’s inheritance.

Holmes fabricates the Campbell-Yates Manufacturing Company. This company produces nothing, but serves to hold assets and hold off creditors. Holmes lists the five owners as: himself; Minnie; H. S. Campbell (the fictitious owner of Holmes’ castle); A. S. Yates, also fictive; Henry Owens (a porter employed by Holmes).

Summary: Chapter 23: Dreadful Things Done by Girls

In Spring of 1893, Chicago prepares rapidly for the Fair. Exhibits from around the world arrive: a British locomotive and ships, German weapons, Buffalo Bill and his Wild West show, sphinxes, mummies, and cannibals. Bloom opens the Algerian village a year early and reaps profit. He shows his belly-dancers at a club, but there is no suitable musical accompaniment. On piano he improvises the tune that we now associate with snake charming.