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The Root of Evil



Edward Peil Sr. (Leonard Craig)Justina Huff (Patricia Jordan)William H. Turner (Judge March)Carol Holloway (Hazel Welsh)Joseph W. Smiley


Patricia Jordan loves Leonard Craig, who hasn't proposed because he is poor. Her family has been on the ragged edge for years. Her mother and younger brother Cyril rebel against their poverty and constantly remind Patricia that wealthy, middle-aged Judge March needs only a little encouragement to ask her to be his wife. Patricia thinks that married to the judge, she can aid her family and give her brother an education. The judge proposes and Patricia later becomes his wife. Leonard's firm sends him to South America and he arranges with the judge's gardener's daughter Hazel to look after his mother. While the young wife is fairly happy, her hopes are not realized. The judge sees to reason to allow her an income when he supports her well. Patricia's family is not benefited, and Cyril has plunged into debt. Town moneylender Joel Martin, money lender of the town, encourages the boy in his helplessness, and when the first I.O.U.comes due, Cyril goes to his sister for money. Patricia pays his bills and when Cyril's demands become greater she turns to the stock market rather than have Martin go to the judge. She loses money and finds herself at a crisis. Cyril has quarreled with Martin and the brokers have wired Patricia for immediate remittance. The gardener, Hazel's father, is also in Martin's power, and when Hazel meets Martin, he openly encourages the attentions of the sinister old man. Patricia writes to Leonard, who has arrived on his first visit home, appealing for aid. The gardener delivers the note. Leonard responds, lends her money and warns her to stop speculating. The gardener returns to his cottage and finds Hazel struggling against the moneylender's embrace, and the gardener shoots Martin and gains possession of the note Patricia sent to Leonard. Suspicion points to Cyril as the murderer. He is arrested. His sister is astounded, but when Leonard, who saw the murder as he left the house, tells her the truth her only thought is to clear her brother. Leonard confronts Welsh and threatens to have him arrested. Welsh defies him and threatens to expose Leonard and the judge's wife. As the day of the trial approaches he fears arrest and takes a daring chance. He mails the note to the judge, knowing that at all costs the judge will shield his wife. The judge is shocked, but Patricia tells Leonard to tell the truth at all costs. Leonard tells the judge everything and when Patricia enters, instead of casting her off, the judge declares he believes in her. Welsh is arrested. Leonard realizes that Hazel is no longer a child and that he loves her, but Hazel will not give him an answer while the cloud hangs over them. The police enter to take her into custody. She faints in Leonard's arms. In his cell Welsh is found dead next morning. Hazel tells the truth and Cyril is freed.