It was 7 p. m. in the narrow streets of the mill city of Fall River, Mass. Frazzled textile workers were trudging into cinema theatres. Clerks were taking off their shoes, preparatory to reading the newspapers, while their wives washed the supper dishes. Unnoticed, a fire broke out in the abandoned mill of the Pocasset Manufacturing Co. on the edge of the business and theatrical district.

It spread rapidly, fanned by bitter winds. A general alarm was sounded. Out of the theatres stumbled blinking creatures whose sham emotions were slowly growing real....

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