Thursday, November 8, 2007



The Grain of Dust
INTO the offices of Lockyer, Sanders, Benchley,
Lockyer & Norman, corporation lawyers, there drifted
on a December afternoon a girl in search of work at
stenography and typewriting. The firm was about the
most important and most famous--radical orators often
said infamous--in New York. The girl seemed, at a
glance, about as unimportant and obscure an atom as
the city hid in its vast ferment. She was blonde--tawny
hair, fair skin, blue eyes. Aside from this hardly
conclusive mark of identity there was nothing positive,
nothing definite, about her. She was neither tall nor
short, neither fat nor thin, neither grave nor gay. She
gave the impression of a young person of the feminine
gender--that, and nothing more. She was plainly
dressed, like thousands of other girls, in darkish blue
jacket and skirt and white shirt waist. Her boots and
gloves were neat, her hair simply and well arranged.
Perhaps in these respects--in neatness and taste--she
did excel the average, which is depressingly low. But
in a city where more or less strikingly pretty women,
bent upon being seen, are as plentiful as the blackberries
of Kentucky's July--in New York no one would
have given her a second look, this quiet young woman
screened in an atmosphere of self-effacement.
She applied to the head clerk. It so happened that
need for another typewriter had just arisen. She got
a trial, showed enough skill to warrant the modest wage
of ten dollars a week; she became part of the office force
of twenty or twenty-five young men and women similarly
employed. As her lack of skill was compensated by
industry and regularity, she would have a job so long
as business did not slacken. When it did, she would
be among the first to be let go. She shrank into her
obscure niche in the great firm, came and went in mouselike
fashion, said little, obtruded herself never, was all
but forgotten.
Nothing could have been more commonplace, more
trivial than the whole incident. The name of the girl
was Hallowell--Miss Hallowell. On the chief clerk's
pay roll appeared the additional information that her
first name was Dorothea. The head office boy, in one
of his occasional spells of "freshness," addressed her
as Miss Dottie. She looked at him with a puzzled
expression; it presently changed to a slight, sweet smile,
and she went about her business. There was no rebuke
in her manner, she was far too self-effacing for anything
so positive as the mildest rebuke. But the head
office boy blushed awkwardly--why he did not know and
could not discover, though he often cogitated upon it.
She remained Miss Hallowell.
Opposites suggest each other. The dimmest personality
in those offices was the girl whose name imaged to
everyone little more than a pencil, notebook, and
typewriting machine. The vividest personality was Frederick
Norman. In the list of names upon the outer doors of the
firm's vast labyrinthine suite, on the seventeenth floor
of the Syndicate Building, his name came last--and,
in the newest lettering, suggesting recentness of
partnership. In age he was the youngest of the partners.
Lockyer was archaic, Sanders an antique; Benchley,
actually only about fifty-five, had the air of one born
in the grandfather class. Lockyer the son dyed his
hair and affected jauntiness, but was in fact not many
years younger than Benchley and had the stiffening
jerky legs of one paying for a lively youth. Norman
was thirty-seven--at the age the Greeks extolled as
divine because it means all the best of youth combined
with all the best of manhood. Some people thought
Norman younger, almost boyish. Those knew him uptown
only, where he hid the man of affairs beneath the
man of the world-that-amuses-itself. Some people
thought he looked, and was, older than the age with
which the biographical notices credited him. They knew
him down town only--where he dominated by sheer force
of intellect and will.
As has been said, the firm ranked among the greatest
in New York. It was a trusted counselor in large
affairs--commercial, financial, political--in all parts of
America, in all parts of the globe, for many of its
clients were international traffickers. Yet this young
man, this youngest and most recent of the partners,
had within the month forced a reorganization of the
firm--or, rather, of its profits--on a basis that gave him
no less than one half of the whole.
His demand threw his four associates into paroxysms
of rage and fear--the fear serving as a wholesome antidote
to the rage.
It certainly was infuriating that a youth, admitted
to partnership barely three years ago, should thus
maltreat his associates. Ingrate was precisely the epithet
for him. At least, so they honestly thought, after the
quaint human fashion; for, because they had given him
the partnership, they looked on themselves as his
benefactors, and neglected as unimportant detail the sole
and entirely selfish reason for their graciousness. But
enraged though these worthy gentlemen were, and
eagerly though they longed to treat the "conceited
and grasping upstart" as he richly deserved, they
accepted his ultimatum. Even the venerable and
veneerated Lockyer--than whom a more convinced selfdeceiver
on the subject of his own virtues never wore
white whiskers, black garments, and the other badges
of eminent respectability--even old Joseph Lockyer
could not twist the acceptance into another manifestation
of the benevolence of himself and his associates.
They had to stare the grimacing truth straight in the
face; they were yielding because they dared not refuse.
To refuse would mean the departure of Norman with
the firm's most profitable business. It costs heavily to
live in New York; the families of successful men are
extravagant; so conduct unbecoming a gentleman may
not there be resented if to resent is to cut down one's
income. The time was, as the dignified and nicely
honorable Sanders observed, when these and many similar
low standards did not prevail in the legal profession.
But such is the frailty of human nature--or so savage
the pressure of the need of the material necessities of
civilized life, let a profession become profitable or
develop possibilities of profit--even the profession of
statesman, even that of lawyer--or doctor--or priest--
or wife--and straightway it begins to tumble down
toward the brawl and stew of the market place.
In a last effort to rouse the gentleman in Norman
or to shame him into pretense of gentlemanliness, Lockyer
expostulated with him like a prophet priest in full
panoply of saintly virtue. And Lockyer was passing
good at that exalted gesture. He was a Websterian
figure, with the venality of the great Daniel in all its
pompous dignity modernized--and correspondingly
expanded. He abounded in those idealist sonorosities that
are the stock-in-trade of all solemn old-fashioned frauds.
The young man listened with his wonted attentive
courtesy until the dolorous appeal disguised as fatherly
counsel came to an end. Then in his blue-gray eyes
appeared the gleam that revealed the tenacity and the
penetration of his mind. He said:
"Mr. Lockyer, you have been absent six years--
except an occasional two or three weeks--absent as
American Ambassador to France. You have done nothing
for the firm in that time. Yet you have not scorned to
take profits you did not earn. Why should I scorn to
take profits I do earn?"
Mr. Lockyer shook his picturesque head in sad
remonstrance at this vulgar, coarse, but latterly frequent
retort of insurgent democracy upon indignant aristocracy.
But he answered nothing.
"Also," proceeded the graceless youth in the clear
and concise way that won the instant attention of juries
and Judges, "also, our profession is no longer a profession
but a business." His humorous eyes twinkled merrily.
"It divides into two parts--teaching capitalists
how to loot without being caught, and teaching them
how to get off if by chance they have been caught.
There are other branches of the profession, but they're
not lucrative, so we do not practice them. Do I make
myself clear?"
Mr. Lockyer again shook his head and sighed.
"I am not an Utopian," continued young Norman.
"Law and custom permit--not to say sanctify--our
sort of business. So--I do my best. But I shall not
conceal from you that it's distasteful to me. I wish to
get out of it. I shall get out as soon as I've made enough
capital to assure me the income I have and need. Naturally,
I wish to gather in the necessary amount as
speedily as possible."
"Fred, my boy, I regret that you take such low
views of our noble profession."
"Yes--as a profession it is noble. But not as a
practice. MY regret is that it invites and compels such
low views."
"You will look at these things more--more mellowly
when you are older."
"I doubt if I'll ever rise very high in the art of
self-deception," replied Norman. "If I'd had any bent
that way I'd not have got so far so quickly."
It was a boastful remark--of a kind he, and other
similar young men, have the habit of making. But
from him it did not sound boastful--simply a frank
and timely expression of an indisputable truth, which
indeed it was. Once more Mr. Lockyer sighed. "I see
you are incorrigible," said he.
"I have not acted without reflection," said Norman.
And Lockyer knew that to persist was simply to
endanger his dignity. "I am getting old," said he.
"Indeed, I am old. I have gotten into the habit of
leaning on you, my boy. I can't consent to your going,
hard though you make it for us to keep you. I shall
try to persuade our colleagues to accept your terms."
Norman showed neither appreciation nor triumph.
He merely bowed slightly. And so the matter was
settled. Instead of moving into the suite of offices in
the Mills Building on which he had taken an option,
young Norman remained where he had been toiling for
twelve years.
After this specimen of Norman's quality, no one
will be surprised to learn that in figure he was one of
those solidly built men of medium height who look as
if they were made to sustain and to deliver shocks, to
bear up easily under heavy burdens; or that his head
thickly covered with fairish hair, was hatchet-shaped
with the helve or face suggesting that while it could
and would cleave any obstacle, it would wear a merry
if somewhat sardonic smile the while. No one had ever
seen Norman angry, though a few persevering offenders
against what he regarded as his rights had felt
the results of swift and powerful action of the same
sort that is usually accompanied--and weakened--by
outward show of anger. Invariably good-humored, he
was soon seen to be more dangerous than the men of
flaring temper. In most instances good humor of thus
unbreakable species issues from weakness, from a desire
to conciliate--usually with a view to plucking the more
easily. Norman's good humor arose from a sense of
absolute security which in turn was the product of
confidence in himself and amiable disdain for his fellow men.
The masses he held in derision for permitting the classes
to rule and rob and spit upon them. The classes he
scorned for caring to occupy themselves with so cheap
and sordid a game as the ruling, robbing, and spitting
aforesaid. Coming down to the specific, he despised
men as individuals because he had always found in each
and everyone of them a weakness that made it easy for
him to use them as he pleased.
Not an altogether pleasant character, this. But
not so unpleasant as it may seem to those unable
impartially to analyze human character, even their own--
especially their own. And let anyone who is disposed
to condemn Norman first look within himself--in some
less hypocritical and self-deceiving moment, if he have
such moments--and let him note what are the qualities
he relies upon and uses in his own struggle to save
himself from being submerged and sunk. Further,
there were in Norman many agreeable qualities,
important, but less fundamental, therefore less deephidden--
therefore generally regarded as the real man and
as the cause of his success in which they in fact had
almost no part. He was, for example, of striking
physical appearance, was attractively dressed and
mannered, was prodigally generous. Neither as lawyer nor
as man did he practice justice. But while as lawyer he
practiced injustice, as man he practiced mercy. Whenever
a weakling appealed to him for protection, he gave
it--at times with splendid recklessness as to the cost
to himself in antagonisms and enmities. Indeed, so
great were the generosities of his character that, had
he not been arrogant, disdainful, self-confident, resolutely
and single-heartedly ambitious, he must inevitably
have ruined himself--if he had ever been able to
rise high enough to be worthy the dignity of catastrophe.
Successful men are usually trying persons to know
well. Lambs, asses, and chickens do not associate
happily with lions, wolves, and hawks--nor do birds and
beasts of prey get on well with one another. Norman
was regarded as "difficult" by his friends--by those
of them who happened to get into the path of his ambition,
in front of instead of behind him, and by those
who fell into the not unnatural error of misunderstanding
his good nature and presuming upon it. His clients
regarded him as insolent. The big businesses, seeking the
rich spoils of commerce, frequent highly perilous waters.
They need skillful pilots. Usually these lawyer-pilots
"know their place" and put on no airs upon the
quarter-deck while they are temporarily in command.
Not so Norman. He took the full rank, authority--
and emoluments--of commander. And as his power,
fame, and income were swiftly growing, it is fair to
assume that he knew what he was about.
He was admired--extravagantly admired--by young
men with not too broad a vein of envy. He was no
woman hater--anything but that. Indeed, those who
wished him ill had from time to time hoped to see him
tumble down, through miscalculation in some of his
audacities with women. No--he did not hate women.
But there were several women who hated him--or tried
to; and if wounded vanity and baffled machination be
admitted as just causes for hatred, they had cause. He
liked--but he did not wholly trust. When he went to
sleep, it was not where Delilah could wield the shears.
A most irritating prudence--irritating to friends and
intimates of all degrees and kinds, in a race of beings
with a mania for being trusted implicitly but with no
balancing mania for deserving trust of the implicit
And he ate hugely--and whatever he pleased. He
could drink beyond belief, all sorts of things, with no
apparent ill effect upon either body or brain. He had
all the appetites developed abnormally, and abnormal
capacity for gratifying them. Where there was one
man who envied him his eminence, there were a dozen
who envied him his physical capacities. We cannot live
and act without doing mischief, as well as that which
most of us would rather do, provided that in the doing
we are not ourselves undone. Probably in no direction
did Norman do so much mischief as in unconsciously
leading men of his sets down town and up to imitate
his colossal dissipations--which were not dissipation for
him who was abnormal.
Withal, he was a monster for work. There is not
much truth in men's unending talk of how hard they
work or are worked. The ravages from their indulgences
in smoking, drinking, gallantry, eating too much
and too fast and too often, have to be explained away
creditably, to themselves and to others--notably to the
wives or mothers who nurse them and suffer from their
diminishing incomes. Hence the wailing about work.
But once in a while a real worker appears--a man with
enormous ingenuity at devising difficult tasks for
himself and with enormous persistence in doing them.
Frederick Norman was one of these blue-moon prodigies.
Obviously, such a man could not but be observed
and talked about. Endless stories, some of them more
or less true, most of them apocryphal, were told of him
--stories of his shrewd, unexpected moves in big cases,
of his witty retorts, of his generosities, of his peculiarities
of dress, of eating and drinking; stories of his
adventures with women. Whatever he did, however trivial,
took color and charm from his personality, so easy
yet so difficult, so simple yet so complex, so baffling.
Was he wholly selfish? Was he a friend to almost anybody
or to nobody? Did he ever love? No one knew,
not even himself, for life interested him too intensely
and too incessantly to leave him time for self-analysis.
One thing he was certain of; he hated nobody, envied
nobody. He was too successful for that.
He did as he pleased. And, on the whole, he pleased
to do far less inconsiderately than his desires, his
abilities, and his opportunities tempted. Have not men
been acclaimed good for less?
In the offices, where he was canvased daily by partners,
clerks, everyone down to the cleaners whose labors
he so often delayed, opinion varied from day to day.
They worshiped him; they hated him. They loved
him; they feared him. They regarded him as more than
human, as less than human; but never as just human--
though always as endowed with fine human virtues and
even finer human weaknesses. Miss Tillotson, next to
the head clerk in rank and pay--and a pretty and
pushing young person--dreamed of getting acquainted
with him--really well acquainted. It was a vain dream.
For him, between up town and down town a great gulfwas
fixed. Also, he had no interest in or ammunition
for sparrows.
It was in December that Miss Hallowell--Miss Dorothea
Hallowell--got her temporary place at ten dollars
a week--that obscure event, somewhat like a
field mouse taking quarters in a horizon-bounded grain
field. It was not until mid-February that she, the
palest of personalities, came into direct contact with
Norman, about the most refulgent. This is how it
Late in that February afternoon, an hour or more
after the last of the office force should have left,
Norman threw open the door of his private office and glanced
round at the rows on rows of desks. The lights in the
big room were on, apparently only because he was still
within. With an exclamation of disappointment he
turned to re-enter his office. He heard the click of typewriter
keys. Again he looked round, but could see
no one.
"Isn't there some one here?" he cried. "Don't I
hear a typewriter?"
The noise stopped. There was a slight rustling
from a far corner, beyond his view, and presently he
saw advancing a slim and shrinking slip of a girl with
a face that impressed him only as small and insignificant.
In a quiet little voice she said, "Yes, sir. Do you wish
"Why, what are you doing here?" he asked. "I
don't think I've ever seen you before."
"Yes. I took dictation from you several times,"
replied she.
He was instantly afraid he might have hurt her feelings,
and he, who in the days when he was far, far less
than now, had often suffered from that commonplace
form of brutality, was most careful not to commit it.
"I never know what's going on round me when I'm
thinking," explained he, though he was saying to himself
that the next time he would probably again be
unable to remember one with nothing distinctive to fix
identity. "You are--Miss----?"
"Miss Hallowell."
"How do you happen to be here? I've given
particular instructions that no one is ever to be detained
after hours."
A little color appeared in the pale, small face--and
now he saw that she had a singularly fair and smooth
skin, singularly beautiful--and he wondered why he had
not noticed it before. Being a close observer, he had
long ago noted and learned to appreciate the wonders of
that most amazing of tissues, the human skin; and he
had come to be a connoisseur. "I'm staying of my
own accord," said she.
"They ought not to give you so much work," said
he. "I'll speak about it."
Into the small face came the look of the frightened
child--a fascinating look. And suddenly he saw that
she had lovely eyes, clear, expressive, innocent. "Please
don't," she pleaded, in the gentle quiet voice. "It isn't
overwork. I did a brief so badly that I was ashamed
to hand it in. I'm doing it again."
He laughed, and a fine frank laugh he had when
he was in the mood. At once a smile lighted up her
face, danced in her eyes, hovered bewitchingly about
her lips--and he wondered why he had not at first
glance noted how sweet and charmingly fresh her mouth
was. "Why, she's beautiful," he said to himself, the
manly man's inevitable interest in feminine charm wide
awake. "Really beautiful. If she had a figure--and
were tall--" As he thought thus, he glanced at her
figure. A figure? Tall? She certainly was tall--no,
she wasn't--yes, she was. No, not tall from head to
foot, but with the most captivating long lines--long
throat, long bust, long arms, long in body and in legs
--long and slender--yet somehow not tall. He--all this
took but an instant--returned his glance to her face.
He was startled. The beauty had fled, leaving not a
trace behind. Before him wavered once more a small
insignificance. Even her skin now seemed commonplace.
She was saying, "Did you wish me to do something?"
"Yes--a letter. Come in," he said abruptly.
Once more the business in hand took possession of
his mind. He became unconscious of her presence. He
dictated slowly, carefully choosing his words, for perhaps
a quarter of an hour. Then he stopped and paced
up and down, revolving a new idea, a new phase of the
business, that had flashed upon him. When he had his
thoughts once more in form he turned toward the girl,
the mere machine. He gazed at her in amazement.
When he had last looked, he had seen an uninteresting
nonentity. But that was not this person, seated before
him in the same garments and with the same general
blondness. That person had been a girl. This time
the transformation was not into the sweet innocence of
lovely childhood, but into something incredibly different.
He was gazing now at a woman, a beautiful worldweary
woman, one who had known the joys and then
the sorrows of life and love. Heavy were the lids of
the large eyes gazing mournfully into infinity--gazing
upon the graves of a life, the long, long vista of buried
joys. Never had he seen anything so sad or so lovely
as her mouth. The soft, smooth skin was not merely
pale; its pallor was that of wakeful nights, of weeping
until there were no more tears to drain away.
"Miss Hallowell--" he began.
She startled; and like the flight of an interrupted
dream, the woman he had been seeing vanished. There
sat the commonplace young person he had first seen.
He said to himself: "I must be a little off my base
to-night," and went on with the dictation. When he
finished she withdrew to transcribe the letter on the
typewriter. He seated himself at his desk and plunged
into the masses of documents. He lost the sense of his
surroundings until she stood beside him holding the
typewritten pages. He did not glance up, but seized
the sheets to read and sign.
"You may go," said he. "I am very much obliged
to you." And he contrived, as always, to put a
suggestion of genuineness into the customary phrase.
"I'm afraid it's not good work," said she. "I'll
wait to see if I am to do any of it over."
"No, thank you," said he. And he looked up--
to find himself gazing at still another person, wholly
different from any he had seen before. The others had
all been women--womanly women, full of the weakness,
the delicateness rather, that distinguishes the feminine.
This woman he was looking at now had a look of
strength. He had thought her frail. He was seeing
a strong woman--a splendidly healthy body, with sinews
of steel most gracefully covered by that fair smooth
skin of hers. And her features, too--why, this girl was
a person of character, of will.
He glanced through the pages. "All right--thank
you," he said hastily. "Please don't stay any longer.
Leave the other thing till to-morrow."
"No--it has to be done to-night."
"But I insist upon your going."
She hesitated, said quietly, "Very well," and turned
to go.
"And you mustn't do it at home, either."
She made no reply, but waited respectfully until it
was evident he wished to say no more, then went out.
He bundled together his papers, sealed and stamped
and addressed his letter, put on his overcoat and hat
and crossed the outer office on his way to the door.
It was empty; she was gone. He descended in the
elevator to the street, remembered that he had not
locked one of his private cases, returned. As he opened
the outer door he heard the sound of typewriter keys.
In the corner, the obscure, sheltered corner, sat the girl,
bent with childlike gravity over her typewriter. It
was an amusing and a touching sight--she looked so
young and so solemnly in earnest.
"Didn't I tell you to go home?" he called out, with
mock sternness.
Up she sprang, her hand upon her heart. And once
more she was beautiful, but once more it was in a way
startlingly, unbelievably different from any expression
he had seen before.
"Now, really. Miss--" He had forgotten her name.
"You must not stay on here. We aren't such slave
drivers as all that. Go home, please. I'll take the
She had recovered her equanimity. In her quiet,
gentle voice--but it no longer sounded weak or insignificant--
she said, "You are very kind, Mr. Norman.
But I must finish my work."
"Haven't I said I'd take the blame?"
"But you can't," replied she. "I work badly. I
seem to learn slowly. If I fall behind, I shall lose my
place--sooner or later. It was that way with the last
place I had. If you interfered, you'd only injure me.
I've had experience. And--I must not lose my place."
One of the scrub women thrust her mussy head and
ragged, shapeless body in at the door. With a start
Norman awoke to the absurdity of his situation--and
to the fact that he was placing the girl in a compromising
position. He shrugged his shoulders, went in and
locked the cabinet, departed.
"What a queer little insignificance she is!" thought
he, and dismissed her from mind.
MANY and fantastic are the illusions the human
animal, in its ignorance and its optimism, devises to
change life from a pleasant journey along a plain road
into a fumbling and stumbling and struggling about
in a fog. Of these hallucinations the most grotesque is
that the weak can come together, can pass a law to curb
the strong, can set one of their number to enforce it,
may then disperse with no occasion further to trouble
about the strong. Every line of every page of history
tells how the strong--the nimble-witted, the farsighted,
the ambitious--have worked their will upon their feebler
and less purposeful fellow men, regardless of any and
all precautions to the contrary. Conditions have
improved only because the number of the strong has
increased. With so many lions at war with each other
not a few rabbits contrive to avoid perishing in the
Norman's genius lay in ability to take away from
an adversary the legal weapons implicitly relied upon
and to arm his client with them. No man understood
better than he the abysmal distinction between law and
justice; no man knew better than he how to compelor
to assist--courts to apply the law, so just in the
general, to promoting injustice in the particular. And
whenever he permitted conscience a voice in his internal
debates--it was not often--he heard from it its usual
servile approbation: How can the reign of justice be
more speedily brought about than by making the reign
of law--lawyer law--intolerable?
About a fortnight after the trifling incident related
in the previous chapter, Norman had to devise a secret
agreement among several of the most eminent of his
clients. They wished to band together, to do a thing
expressly forbidden by the law; they wished to conspire
to lower wages and raise prices in several railway systems
under their control. But none would trust the
others; so there must be something in writing, laid away
in a secret safety deposit box along with sundry bundles
of securities put up as forfeit, all in the custody of
Norman. When he had worked out in his mind and in
fragmentary notes the details of their agreement, he
was ready for some one to do the clerical work. The
some one must be absolutely trustworthy, as the plain
language of the agreement would make clear to the
dullest mind dazzling opportunities for profit--not only
in stock jobbing but also in blackmail. He rang for
Tetlow, the head clerk. Tetlow--smooth and sly and
smug, lacking only courageous initiative to make him a
great lawyer, but, lacking that, lacking all--Tetlow
entered and closed the door behind him.
Norman leaned back in his desk chair and laced his
fingers behind his head. "One of your typewriters is
a slight blonde girl--sits in the corner to the far left--
if she's still here."
"Miss Hallowell," said Tetlow. "We are letting
her go at the end of this week. She's nice and ladylike,
and willing--in fact, most anxious to please. But the
work's too difficult for her. She's rather--rather--well,
not exactly stupid, but slow."
"Um," said Norman reflectively. "There's Miss
Bostwick--perhaps she'll do."
"Miss Bostwick got married last week."
Norman smiled. He remembered the girl because
she was the oldest and homeliest in the office. "There's
somebody for everybody--eh, Tetlow?"
"He was a lighthouse keeper," said Tetlow.
"There's a story that he advertised for a wife. But
that may be a joke."
"Why not that Miss--Miss Halloway?" mused
"Miss Hallowell," corrected Tetlow.
"Hallowell--yes. Is she--VERY incompetent?
"Not exactly that. But business is slackening--
and she's been only temporary--and----"
Norman cut him off with, "Send her in."
"You don't wish her dismissed? I haven't told
her yet."
"Oh, I'm not interfering in your department. Do
as you like. . . . No--in this case--let her stay on for
the present."
"I can use her," said Tetlow. "And she gets only
ten a week."
Norman frowned. He did not like to HEAR that an
establishment in which he had control paid less than
decent living wages--even if the market price did
excuse--yes, compel it. "Send her in," he repeated.
Then, as Tetlow was about to leave, "She is trustworthy?"
"All our force is. I see to that, Mr. Norman."
"Has she a young man--steady company, I think
they call it?"
"She has no friends at all. She's extremely shy--
at least, reserved. Lives with her father, an old crank
of an analytical chemist over in Jersey City. She hasn't
even a lady friend."
"Well, send her in."
A moment later Norman, looking up from his work,
saw the dim slim nonentity before him. Again he leaned
back and, as he talked with her, studied her face to
make sure that his first judgment was correct. "Do
you stay late every night?" asked he smilingly.
She colored a little, but enough to bring out the
exquisite fineness of her white skin. "Oh, I don't mind,"
said she, and there was no embarrassment in her manner.
"I've got to learn--and doing things over
"Nothing equal to it," declared Norman. "You've
been to school?"
"Only six weeks," confessed she. "I couldn't afford
to stay longer."
"I mean the other sort of school--not the typewriting."
"Oh! Yes," said she. And once more he saw that
extraordinary transformation. She became all in an
instant delicately, deliciously lovely, with the moving,
in a way pathetic loveliness of sweet children and sweet
flowers. Her look was mystery; but not a mystery of
guile. She evidently did not wish to have her past
brought to view; but it was equally apparent that
behind it lay hid nothing shameful, only the sad, perhaps
the painful. Of all the periods of life youth is the best
fitted to bear deep sorrows, for then the spirit has its
full measure of elasticity. Yet a shadow upon youth
is always more moving than the shadows of maturer
years--those shadows that do not lie upon the surface
but are heavy and corroding stains. When Norman
saw this shadow upon her youth, so immature-looking,
so helpless-looking, he felt the first impulse of genuine
interest in her. Perhaps, had that shadow happened
to fall when he was seeing her as the commonplace and
colorless little struggler for bread, and seeming doomed
speedily to be worsted in the struggle--perhaps, he
would have felt no interest, but only the brief qualm
of pity that we dare not encourage in ourselves, on a
journey so beset with hopeless pitiful things as is the
journey through life.
But he had no impulse to question her. And with
some surprise he noted that his reason for refraining
was not the usual reason--unwillingness uselessly to add
to one's own burdens by inviting the mournful
confidences of another. No, he checked himself because in
the manner of this frail and mouselike creature, dim
though she once more was, there appeared a dignity, a
reserve, that made intrusion curiously impossible. With
an apologetic note in his voice--a kind and friendly
voice--he said:
"Please have your typewriter brought in here. I
want you to do some work for me--work that isn't to be
spoken of--not even to Mr. Tetlow." He looked at
her with grave penetrating eyes. "You will not speak
of it?"
"No," replied she, and nothing more. But she
accompanied the simple negative with a clear and honest
sincerity of the eyes that set his mind completely
at rest. He felt that this girl had never in her life told
a real lie.
One of the office boys installed the typewriter, and
presently Norman and the quiet nebulous girl at whom
no one would trouble to look a second time were seated
opposite each other with the broad table desk between,
he leaning far back in his desk chair, fingers interlocked
behind his proud, strong-looking head, she holding
sharpened pencil suspended over the stenographic notebook.
Long before she seated herself he had forgotten
her except as machine. There followed a troubled hour,
as he dictated, ordered erasure, redictated, ordered rereadings,
skipped back and forth, in the effort to frame
the secret agreement in the fewest and simplest, and
least startlingly unlawful, words. At last he leaned
forward with the shine of triumph in his eyes.
"Read straight through," he commanded.
She read, interrupted occasionally by a sharp order
from him to correct some mistake in her notes.
"Again," he commanded, when she translated the
last of her notes.
This time she was not interrupted once. When she
ended, he exclaimed: "Good! I don't see how you did
it so well."
"Nor do I," said she.
"You say you are only a beginner."
"I couldn't have done it so well for anyone else,"
said she. "You are--different."
The remark was worded most flatteringly, but it did
not sound so. He saw that she did not herself understand
what she meant by "different." HE understood,
for he knew the difference between the confused and
confusing ordinary minds and such an intelligence as his
own--simple, luminous, enlightening all minds, however
dark, so long as they were in the light-flooded region
around it.
"Have I made the meaning clear?" he asked.
He hoped she would reply that he had not, though
this would have indicated a partial defeat in the object
he had--to put the complex thing so plainly that no
one could fail to understand. But she answered, "Yes."
He congratulated himself that his overestimate of
her ignorance of affairs had not lured him into giving
her the names of the parties at interest to transcribe.
But did she really understand? To test her, he said:
"What do you think of it?"
"That it's wicked," replied she, without hesitation
and in her small, quiet voice.
He laughed. In a way this girl, sitting there--
this inconsequential and negligible atom--typefied the
masses of mankind against whom that secret agreement
was directed. They, the feeble and powerless ones, with
their necks ever bent under the yoke of the mighty and
their feet ever stumbling into the traps of the crafty--
they, too, would utter an impotent "Wicked!" if they
knew. His voice had the note of gentle raillery in it
as he said:
"No--not wicked. Just business."
She was looking down at her book, her face
expressionless. A few moments before he would have said
it was an empty face. Now it seemed to him sphynxlike.
"Just business," he repeated. "It is going to take
money from those who don't know how to keep or to
spend it and give it to those who do know how. The
money will go for building up civilization, instead of
for beer and for bargain-trough finery to make working
men's wives and daughters look cheap and nasty."
She was silent.
"Now, do you understand?"
"I understand what you said." She looked at him
as she spoke. He wondered how he could have fancied
those lack-luster eyes beautiful or capable of expression.
"You don't believe it?" he asked.
"No," said she. And suddenly in those eyes, gazing
now into space, there came the unutterably melancholy
look--heavy-lidded from heartache, weary-wise
from long, long and bitter, experiences. Yet she still
looked young--girlishly young--but it was the youthful
look the classic Greek sculptors tried to give their
young goddesses--the youth without beginning or end--
younger than a baby's, older than the oldest of the sons
of men. He mocked himself for the fancies this queer
creature inspired in him; but she none the less made
him uneasy.
"You don't believe it?" he repeated.
"No," she answered again. "My father has taught
me--some things."
He drummed impatiently on the table. He resented
her impertinence--for, like all men of clear and positive {?}
mind, he regarded contradiction as in one {?}
pudent, in another aspect evidence of the fol{?}
contradictor. Then he gave a short laugh--the {?}
ing laugh of the clever man who has tried to believe his
own sophistries and has failed. "Well--neither do I
believe it," said he. "Now, to get the thing typewritten."
She seated herself at the machine and set to work.
As his mind was full of the agreement he could not
concentrate on anything else. From time to time he
glanced at her. Then he gave up trying to work and
sat furtively observing her. What a quaint little
mystery it was! There was in it--that is, in her--
not the least charm for him. But, in all his experience
with women, he could recall no woman with a comparable
development of this curious quality of multiple
personalities, showing and vanishing in swift succession.
There had been a time when woman had interested
him as a puzzle to be worked out, a maze to be explored,
a temple to be penetrated--until one reached the place
where the priests manipulated the machinery for the
wonders and miracles to fool the devotees into awe.
Some men never get to this stage, never realize that
their own passions, working upon the universal human
love of the mysterious, are wholly responsible for the
cult of woman the sphynx and the sibyl. But Norman,
beloved of women, had been let by them into their
ultimate secret--the simple humanness of woman; the
{?}ry of the oracles, miracles, and wonders. He
{?}red that her "divine intuitions" were mere
{?} guesses, where they had any meaning at all;
that her eloquent silences were screens for ignorance or
boredom--and so on through the list of legends that
prop the feminist cult.
But this girl--this Miss Hallowell--here was a
tangible mystery--a mystery of physics, of chemistry.
He sat watching her--watching the changes as she bent
to her work, or relaxed, or puzzled over the meaning
of one of her own hesitating stenographic hieroglyphics
--watched her as the waning light of the afternoon
varied its intensity upon her skin. Why, her very hair
partook of this magical quality and altered its tint,
its degree of vitality even, in harmony with the other
changes. . . . What was the explanation? By means of
what rare mechanism did her nerve force ebb and flow
from moment to moment, bringing about these fascinating
surface changes in her body? Could anything, even
any skin, be better made than that superb skin of hers
--that master work of delicacy and strength, of smoothness
and color? How had it been possible for him to
fail to notice it, when he was always looking for signs
of a good skin down town--and up town, too--in these
days of the ravages of pastry and candy? . . . What
long graceful fingers she had--yet what small hands!
Certainly here was a peculiarity that persisted. No--
absurd though it seemed, no! One way he looked at
those hands, they were broad and strong, another way
narrow and gracefully weak.
He said to himself: "The man who gets that girl
will have Solomon's wives rolled into one. A harem at
the price of a wife--or a--" He left the thought
unfinished. It seemed an insult to this helpless little
creature, the more rather than the less cowardly for
being unspoken; for, no doubt her ideas of propriety
were firmly conventional.
"About done?" he asked impatiently.
She glanced up. "In a moment. I'm sorry to be
so slow."
"You're not," he assured her truthfully. "It's my
impatience. Let me see the pages you've finished."
With them he was able to concentrate his mind.
When she laid the last page beside his arm he was
absorbed, did not look at her, did not think of her.
"Take the machine away," said he abruptly.
He was leaving for the day when he remembered her
again. He sent for her. "I forgot to thank you. It
was good work. You will do well. All you need is
practice--and confidence. Especially confidence." He
looked at her. She seemed frail--touchingly frail.
"You are not strong?"
She smiled, and in an instant the frailty seemed
to have been mere delicacy of build--the delicacy that
goes with the strength of steel wires, or rather of the
spider's weaving thread which sustains weights and
shocks out of all proportion to its appearance. "I've
never been ill in my life," said she. "Not a day."
Again, because she was standing before him in full
view, he noted the peculiar construction of her frame--
the beautiful lines of length so dextrously combined that
her figure as a whole was not tall. He said, "A working
woman--or man--needs health above all. Thank
you again." And he nodded a somewhat curt dismissal.
When she glided away and he was alone behind the
closed door, he reflected for a moment upon the
extraordinary amount of thinking--and the extraordinary
kind of thinking--into which this poor little typewriter
girl had beguiled him. He soon found the explanation
for this vagary into a realm so foreign to a man of his
high tastes and ambitions. "It's because I'm so in
love with Josephine," he decided. "I've fallen into the
sentimental state of all lovers. The whole sex becomes
novel and interesting and worth while."
As he left the office, unusually late, he saw her still
at work--no doubt doing over again some bungled piece
of copying. She had her normal and natural look and
air--the atomic little typewriter, unattractive and
uninteresting. With another smile for his romantic
imaginings, he forgot her. But when he reached the street
he remembered her again. The threatened blizzard had
changed into a heavy rain. The swift and sudden
currents of air, that have made of New York a cave of the
winds since the coming of the skyscrapers, were darting
round corners, turning umbrellas inside out, tossing
women's skirts about their heads, reducing all who were
abroad to the same level of drenched and sullen wretchedness.
Norman's limousine was waiting at the curb.
He, pausing in the doorway, glanced up and down the
street, had an impulse to return and take the girl home.
Then he smiled satirically at himself. Her lot
condemned her to be out in all weathers. It would not be
a kindness but an exhibition of smug vanity to shelter
her this one night; also, there was the question of her
reputation--and the possibility of turning her head,
perhaps just enough to cause her ruin. He sprang
across the wind-swept, rain-swept sidewalk and into the
limousine whose door was being held open by an obsequious
attendant. "Home," he said, and the door
Usually these journeys between office and home or
club in the evening gave Norman a chance for ten or
fifteen minutes of sleep. He had discovered that this
brief dropping of the thread of consciousness gave him
a wonderful fresh grip upon the day, enabled him to
work or play until late into the night without fatigue.
But that evening his mind was wide awake. Nor could
he fix it upon business. It would interest itself only in
the hurrying throngs of foot passengers and the ideas
they suggested: Here am I--so ran his thoughts--here
am I, tucked away comfortably while all those poor
creatures have to plod along in the storm. I could
afford to be sick. They can't. And what have I done
to deserve this good fortune? Nothing. Worse than
nothing. If I had made my career along the lines of
what is honest and right and beneficial to my fellow
men, I'd probably be plugging home under an umbrella
--and to a pretty poor excuse for a home. But I was
too wise to do that. I've spent this day, as I spend all
my days, in helping the powerful rich to add to their
wealth and power, to add to the burdens those poor
devils out there in the rain must bear. And I'm
rewarded with a limousine, and all the rest of it.
These thoughts neither came from nor produced a
mood of penitence, or of regret even. Norman was
simply indulging in his favorite pastime--following
without prejudice the leading of a chain of pure logic.
He despised self-deceivers. He always kept himself free
from prejudice and all its wiles. He took life as he
found it; but he did not excuse it and himself with the
familiar hypocrisies that make the comfortable classes
preen themselves on being the guardians and saviours
of the ignorant, incapable masses. When old Lockyer
said one day that this was the function of the "upper
classes," Norman retorted: "Perhaps. But, if so, how
do they perform it? Like the brutal old-fashioned farm
family that takes care of its insane member by keeping
him chained in filth in the cellar." And once at the
Federal Club-- By the way, Norman had joined it, had
compelled it to receive him just to show his associates
how a strong man could break even such a firmly established
tradition as that no one who amounted to anything
could be elected to a fashionable club in New
York. Once at the Federal Club old Galloway quoted
with approval some essayist's remark that every clever
human being was looking after and holding above the
waves at least fifteen of his weaker fellows. Norman
smiled satirically round at the complacently nodding
circle of gray heads and white heads. "My observation
has been," said he, "that every clever chap is shrewd
enough to compel at least fifteen of his fellows to wait
on him, to take care of him--do his chores--and his
dirty work." The nodding stopped. Scowls appeared,
except on the face of old Galloway. He grinned. He
was one of the few examples of a very rich man with a
sense of humor. Norman always thought it was this
slight incident that led to his getting the extremely
profitable--and shady--Galloway business.
No, Norman's mood, as he watched the miserable
crowds afoot and reflected upon them, was neither
remorseful nor triumphant. He simply noted an interesting
fact--a commonplace fact--of the methods of that
sardonic practical joker, Life. Because the scheme of
things was unjust and stupid, because others, most
others, were uncomfortable or worse--why should he
make himself uncomfortable? It would be an absurdity
to get out of his limousine and trudge along in the
wet and the wind. It would be equally absurd to sit in
his limousine and be unhappy about the misery of the
world. "I didn't create it, and I can't recreate it.
And if I'm helping to make it worse, I'm also hastening
the time when it'll be better. The Great Ass must have
brains and spirit kicked and cudgeled into it."
At his house in Madison Avenue, just at the crest
of Murray Hill, there was an awning from front door
to curb and a carpet beneath it. He passed, dry and
comfortable, up the steps. A footman in quiet rich
livery was waiting to receive him. From rising until
bedtime, up town and down town, wherever he went
and whatever he was about, every possible menial detail
of his life was done for him. He had nothing to do
but think about his own work and keep himself in health.
Rarely did he have even to open or to close a door. He
used a pen only in signing his name or marking a passage
in a law book for some secretary to make a typewritten copy.
Upon most human beings this sort of luxury, carried
beyond the ordinary and familiar uses of menial
service, has a speedily enervating effect. Thinking
being the most onerous of all, they have it done, also.
They sink into silliness and moral and mental sloth.
They pass the time at foolish purposeless games indoors
and out; or they wander aimlessly about the earth
chattering with similar mental decrepits, much like monkeys
adrift in the boughs of a tropical forest. But Norman
had the tenacity and strength to concentrate upon
achievement all the powers emancipated by the use of
menials wherever menials could be used. He employed
to advantage the time saved in putting in shirt buttons
and lacing shoes and carrying books to and from
shelves. In this lay one of the important secrets of his
success. "Never do for yourself what you can get some
one else to do for you as well. Save yourself for the
things only YOU can do."
In his household there were three persons, and sixteen
servants to wait upon them. His sister--she and
her husband, Clayton Fitzhugh, were the other two
persons--his sister was always complaining that there were
not enough servants, and Frederick, the most indulgent
of brothers, was always letting her add to the number.
It seemed to him that the more help there was, the less
smoothly the household ran. But that did not concern
him; his mind was saved for more important matters.
There was no reason why it should concern him; could
he not compel the dollars to flood in faster than she
could bail them out?
This brother and sister had come to New York
fifteen years before, when he was twenty-two and she
nineteen. They were from Albany, where their family
had possessed some wealth and much social position for
many generations. There was the usual "queer streak"
in the Norman family--an intermittent but fixed habit
of some one of them making a "low marriage." One
view of this aberration might have been that there was
in the Norman blood a tenacious instinct of sturdy and
self-respecting independence that caused a Norman
occasionally to do as he pleased instead of as he conventionally
ought. Each time the thing occurred there
was a mighty and horrified hubbub throughout the
connection. But in the broad, as the custom is, the
Normans were complacent about the "queer streak."
They thought it kept the family from rotting out and
running to seed. "Nothing like an occasional infusion
of common blood," Aunt Ursula Van Bruyten (born
Norman) used to say. For her Norman's sister was
Norman's father had developed the "queer streak."
Their mother was the daughter of a small farmer and,
when she met their father, was chambermaid in a Troy
hotel, Troy then being a largish village. As soon as she
found herself married and in a position with whose duties
she was unfamiliar, she set about fitting herself for them
with the same diligence and thoroughness which she had
shown in learning chamber work in a village hotel. She
educated herself, selected not without shrewdness and
carefully put on an assortment of genteel airs, finally
contrived to make a most creditable appearance--was more
aristocratic in tastes and in talk than the high mightiest
of her relatives by marriage. But her son Fred was a
Pinkey in character. In boyhood he was noted for his
rough and low associates. His bosom friends were the
son of a Jewish junk dealer, the son of a colored washwoman,
and the son of an Irish day laborer. Also, the
commonness persisted as he grew up. Instead of seeking
aristocratic ease, he aspired to a career. He had
choice of several rich and well-born girls; but he
developed a strong distaste for marriage of any sort and
especially for a rich marriage. A fortune he was
resolved to have, but it should be one that belonged to
him. When he was about ready to enter a law office, his
father and mother died leaving less than ten thousand
dollars in all for his sister and himself. His sister
hesitated, half inclined to marry a stupid second cousin
who had thirty thousand a year.
"Don't do it, Ursula," Fred advised. "If you must
sell out, sell for something worth while." He laughed
in his frank, ironical way. "Fact is, we've both made
up our minds to sell. Let's go to the best market--
New York. If you don't like it, you can come back and
marry that fat-wit any time you please."
Ursula inspected herself in the glass, saw a face and
form exceeding fair to look upon; she decided to take
her brother's advice. At twenty she threw over a multimillionaire
and married Clayton Fitzhugh for love--
Clayton with only seventeen thousand a year. Of
course, from the standpoint of fashionable ambition,
seventeen thousand a year in New York is but one
remove from tenement house poverty. As Clayton had
no more ability at making money than had Ursula herself,
there was nothing to do but live with Norman and
"take care of him." But for this self-sacrifice of
sisterly affection Norman would have been rich at thirtyseven.
As he had to make her rich as well as himself,
progress toward luxurious independence was slower--
and there was the house, costing nearly fifty thousand
a year to keep up.
There had been a time in Norman's career--a brief
and very early time--when, with the maternal peasant
blood hot in his veins, he had entertained the quixotic
idea of going into politics on the poor or people's side
and fighting for glory only. The pressure of expensive
living had soon driven this notion clean off. Norman
had almost forgotten that he ever had it, was no longer
aware how strong it had been in the last year at law
school. Young men of high intelligence and ardent
temperament always pass through this period. With
some--a few--its glory lingers long after the fire has
flickered out before the cool, steady breath of worldliness.
All this time Norman has been dressing for dinner.
He now leaves the third floor and descends toward the
library, as it still lacks twenty minutes of the dinner
As he walked along the hall of the second floor a
woman's voice called to him, "That you, Fred?"
He turned in at his sister's sitting room. She was
standing at a table smoking a cigarette. Her tall, slim
figure looked even taller and slimmer in the tight-fitting
black satin evening dress. Her features faintly
suggested her relationship to Norman. She was a handsome
woman, with a voluptuous discontented mouth.
"What are you worried about, sis?" inquired he.
"How did you know I was worried?" returned she.
"You always are."
"But you're unusually worried to-night."
"How did you know that?"
"You never smoke just before dinner unless your
nerves are ragged. . . . What is it?"
"Of course. No one in New York worries about
anything else."
"But THIS is serious," protested she. "I've been
thinking--about your marriage--and what'll become of
Clayton and me?" She halted, red with embarrassment.
Norman lit a cigarette himself. "I ought to have
explained," said he. "But I assumed you'd understand."
"Fred, you know Clayton can't make anything.
And when you marry--why--what WILL become of us!"
"I've been taking care of Clayton's money--and of
yours. I'll continue to do it. I think you'll find you're
not so badly of. You see, my position enables me to
compel a lot of the financiers to let me in on the ground
floor--and to warn me in good time before the house
falls. You'll not miss me, Ursula."
She showed her gratitude in her eyes, in a slight
quiver of the lips, in an unsteadiness of tone as she said,
"You're the real thing, Freddie."
"You can go right on as you are now. Only--"
He was looking at her with meaning directness.
She moved uneasily, refused to meet his gaze.
"Well?" she said, with a suggestion of defiance.
"It's all very natural to get tired of Clayton," said
her brother. "I knew you would when you married
him. But-- Sis, I mind my own business. Still--
Why make a fool of yourself?"
"You don't understand," she exclaimed passionately.
And the light in her eyes, the color in her cheeks, restored
to her for the moment the beauty of her youth that was
almost gone.
"Understand what?" inquired he in a tone of gentle
"Love. You are all ambition--all self control. You
can be affectionate--God knows, you have been to me,
Fred. But love you know nothing about--nothing."
His was the smile a man gives when in earnest and
wishing to be thought jesting--or when in jest and
wishing to be thought in earnest.
"You mean Josephine? Oh, yes, I suppose you
do care for her in a way--in a nice, conventional way.
She is a fine handsome piece--just the sort to fill the
position of wife to a man like you. She's sweet and
charming, she appreciates, she flatters you. I'm sure
she loves you as much as a GIRL knows how to love. But
it's all so conventional, so proper. Your position--her
money. You two are of the regulation type even in
that you're suited to each other in height and
figure. Everybody'll say, `What a fine couple--so well
matched!' "
"Maybe YOU don't understand," said Norman.
"If Josephine were poor and low-born--weren't one
of us--and all that--would you have her?"
"I'm sure I don't know," was his prompt and amused
answer. "I can only say that I know what I want, she
being what she is."
Ursula shook her head. "I have only to see you
and her together to know that you at least don't
understand love."
"It might be well if YOU didn't," said Norman dryly.
"You might be less unhappy--and Clayton less uneasy."
"Ah, but I can't help myself. Don't you see it in
me, Fred? I'm not a fool. Yet see what a fool I act."
"Spoiled child--that's all. No self-control."
"You despise everyone who isn't as strong as you."
She looked at him intently. "I wonder if you ARE as
self-controlled as you imagine. Sometimes I wish you'd
get a lesson. Then you'd be more sympathetic. But
it isn't likely you will--not through a woman. Oh,
they're such pitifully easy game for a man like you.
But then men are the same way with you--quite as
easy. You get anything you want. . . . You're really
going to stick to Josephine?"
He nodded. "It's time for me to settle down."
"Yes--I think it is," she went on thoughtfully. "I
can hardly believe you're to marry. Of course, she's
the grand prize. Still--I never imagined you'd come
in and surrender. I guess you DO care for her."
"Why else should I marry?" argued he. "She's
got nothing I need--except herself, Ursula."
"What IS it you see in her?"
"What you see--what everyone sees," replied Fred,
with quiet, convincing enthusiasm. "What no one could
help seeing. As you say, she's the grand prize."
"Yes, she is sweet and handsome--and intelligent
--very superior, without making others feel that they're
outclassed. Still--there's something lacking--not in her
perhaps, but in you. You have it for her--she's crazy
about you. But she hasn't it for you."
"I can't tell you. It isn't a thing that can be put
into words."
"Then it doesn't exist."
"Oh, yes it does," cried Ursula. "If the engagement
were to be broken--or if anything were to happen
to her--why, you'd get over it--would go on as if nothing
had happened. If she didn't fit in with your plans
and ambitions, she'd be sacrificed so quick she'd not
know what had taken off her head. But if you felt what
I mean--then you'd give up everything--do the wildest,
craziest things."
"What nonsense!" scoffed Norman. "I can imagine
myself making a fool of myself about a woman
as easily as about anything else. But I can't imagine
myself playing the fool for anything whatsoever."
There was mysterious fire in Ursula's absent eyes.
"You remember me as a girl--how mercenary I was--
how near I came to marrying Cousin Jake?"
"I saved you from that."
"Yes--and for what? I fell in love."
"And out again."
"I was deceived in Clayton--deceived myself--
naturally. How is a woman to know, without experience?"
"Oh, I'm not criticising," said the brother.
"Besides, a love marriage that fails is different from
a mercenary marriage that fails."
"Very--very," agreed he. "Just the difference
between an honorable and a dishonorable bankruptcy."
"Anyhow--it's bankrupt--my marriage. But I've
learned what love is--that there is such a thing--and
that it's valuable. Yes, Fred, I've got the taste for
that wine--the habit of it. Could I go back to water
or milk?"
"Spoiled baby--that's the whole story. If you had
a nursery full of children--or did the heavy housework--
you'd never think of these foolish moonshiny
"Yet you say you love!"
"Clayton is as good as any you're likely to run
across--is better than SOME I've seen about."
"How can YOU say?" cried she. "It's for me
to judge."
"If you would only JUDGE!"
Ursula sighed. "It's useless to talk to you. Let's
go down."
Norman, following her from the room, stopped her
in the doorway to give her a brotherly hug and kiss.
"You won't make an out-and-out idiot of yourself,
will you, Ursula?" he said, in his winning manner.
The expression of her eyes as she looked at him
showed how strong was his influence over her. "You
know I'll come to you for advice before I do anything
final," said she. "Oh, I don't know what I want! I
only know what I don't want. I wish I were well
balanced--as you are, Fred."
THE brother and sister dined alone. Clayton was,
finding his club a more comfortable place than his home,
in those days of his wife's disillusionment and hesitation
about the future. Many weak creatures are curiously
armed for the unequal conflict of existence--
some with fleetness of foot, some with a pole-cat weapon
of malignance, some with porcupine quills, some with
a 'possumlike instinct for "playing dead." Of these
last was Fitzhugh. He knew when to be silent, when
to keep out of the way, when to "sit tight" and wait.
His wife had discovered that he was a fool--that he
perhaps owed more to his tailor than to any other
single factor for the success of his splendid pose of
the thorough gentleman. Yet she did not realize what
an utter fool he was, so clever had he been in the use
of the art of discreet silence. Norman suspected him,
but could not believe a human being capable of such
fathomless vacuity as he found whenever he tried to
explore his brother-in-law's brain.
After dinner Norman took Ursula to the opera,
to join the Seldins, and after the first act went to
Josephine, who had come with only a deaf old aunt.
Josephine loved music, and to hear an opera from a
box one must be alone. Norman entered as the lights
went up. It always gave him a feeling of dilation,
this spectacle of material splendor--the women, whose
part it is throughout civilization to-day to wear for
public admiration and envy the evidences of the prowess
of the males to whom they belong. A truer version of
Dr. Holmes's aphorism would be that it takes several
generations in oil to make a deep-dyed snob--wholly to
destroy a man's or a woman's point of view, sense of
the kinship of all flesh, and to make him or her over
into the genuine believer in caste and worshiper of it.
For all his keenness of mind, of humor, Norman had the
fast-dyed snobbishness of his family and friends. He
knew that caste was silly, that such displays as this
vulgar flaunting of jewels and costly dresses were in
atrocious bad taste. But it is one thing to know,
another thing to feel; and his feeling was delight in the
spectacle, pride in his own high rank in the aristocracy.
His eyes rested with radiant pleasure on the girl
he was to marry. And she was indeed a person to
appeal to the passion of pride. Simply and most
expensively dressed in pearl satin, with only a little
jewelry, she sat in the front of her parterre box, a
queen by right of her father's wealth, her family's
position, her own beauty. She was a large woman--tall, a
big frame but not ungainly. She had brilliant dark
eyes, a small proud head set upon shoulders that were
slenderly young now and, even when they should
became matronly, would still be beautiful. She had good
teeth, an exquisite smile, the gentle good humor of those
who, comfortable themselves, would not have the slightest
objection to all others being equally so. Because
she laughed appreciatively and repeated amusingly she
had great reputation for wit. Because she industriously
picked up from men a plausible smatter of small talk
about politics, religion, art and the like, she was
renowned as clever verging on profound. And she
believed herself both witty and wise--as do thousands,
male and female, with far less excuse.
She had selected Norman for the same reason that
he had selected her; each recognized the other as the
"grand prize." Pity is not nearly so close kin to love
as is the feeling that the other person satisfies to the
uttermost all one's pet vanities. It would have been
next door to impossible for two people so well matched
not to find themselves drawn to each other and filled
with sympathy and the sense of comradeship, so far as
there can be comradeship where two are driving luxuriously
along the way of life, with not a serious cause for
worry. People without half the general fitness of these
two for each other have gone through to the end,
regarding themselves and regarded as the most devoted
of lovers. Indeed, they were lovers. Only one of those
savage tests, to which in all probability they would never
be exposed, would or could reveal just how much, or
how little, that vague, variable word lovers meant when
applied to them.
As their eyes met, into each pair leaped the fine,
exalted light of pride in possession. "This wonderful
woman is mine!" his eyes said. And her eyes answered,
"And you--you most wonderful of men--you are
mine!" It always gave each of them a thrill like
intoxication to meet, after a day's separation. All the joy of
their dazzling good fortune burst upon them afresh.
"I'll venture you haven't thought of me the whole
day," said she as he dropped to the chair behind her.
It was a remark she often made--to give him the
opportunity to say, "I've thought of little else, I'm
sorry to say--I, who have a career to look after." He
made the usual answer, and they smiled happily at each
other. "And you?" he said.
"Oh, I? What else has a woman to think about?"
Her statement was as true as his was false. He
was indeed all she had to think about--all worth wasting
the effort of thought upon. But he--though he did
not realize it--had thought of her only in the incidental
way in which an ambition-possessed man must force
himself to think of a woman. The best of his mind was
commandeered to his career. An amiable but shakily
founded theory that it was "our" career enabled him
to say without sense of lying that his chief thought
had been she.
"How those men down town would poke fun at
you," said she, "if they knew you had me with you all
the time, right beside you."
This amused him. "Still, I suspect there are lots
of men who'd be exposed in the same way if there were
a general and complete show-down."
"Sometimes I wish I really were with you--working
with you--helping you. You have girls--a girl--to
be your secretary--or whatever you call it--don't
"You should have seen the one I had to-day. But
there's always something pathetic about every girl who
has to make her own living."
"Pathetic!" protested Miss Burroughs. "Not at
all. I think it's fine."
"You wouldn't say that if you had tried it."
"Indeed, I should," she declared with spirit. "You
men are entirely too soft about women. You don't
realize how strong they are. And, of course, women
don't resist the temptation to use their sex when they see
how easy it is to fool men that way. The sad thing
about it is that the woman who gets along by using
her sex and by appealing to the soft-heartedness of
men never learns to rely on herself. She's likely to
come to grief sooner or later."
"There's truth in all that," said Norman. "Enough
to make it dangerously unjust. There's so much lying
done about getting on that it's no wonder those who've
never tried to do for themselves get a wholly false notion
of the situation. It is hard--bitterly hard--for a man
to get on. Most men don't. Most men? All but a
mere handful. And if those who do get on were to tell
the truth--the WHOLE truth--about how they succeeded
--well, it'd not make a pleasant story."
"But YOU'VE got on," retorted the girl.
"So I have. And how?" Norman smiled with
humorous cynicism. "I'll never tell--not all--only the
parts that sound well. And those parts are the least
important. However, let's not talk about that. What
I set out to say was that, while it's hard for a man to
make a decent living--unless he has luck--and harder
still--much harder--for him to rise to independence----"
"It wasn't so dreadfully hard for YOU," interrupted
Josephine, looking at him with proud admiration. "But
then, you had a wonderful brain."
"That wasn't what did it," replied he. "And, in
spite of all my advantages--friendships, education,
enough money to tide me over the beginnings--in spite
of all that, I had a frightful time. Not the work. Of
course, I had to work, but I like that. No, it was the--
the maneuvering, let's call it--the hardening process."
"You!" she exclaimed.
"Everyone who succeeds--in active life. You don't
understand the system, dear. It's a cutthroat game.
It isn't at all what the successful hypocrites describe
in their talks to young men!" He laughed. "If I
had followed the `guides to success,' I'd not be here.
Oh, yes, I've made terrible sacrifices, but--" his look
at her made her thrill with exaltation--"it was worth
doing. . . . I understand and sympathize with those who
scorn to succeed. But I'm glad I happened not to be
born with their temperament, at least not with enough
of it to keep me down."
"You're too hard on yourself, too generous to the
"Oh, I don't mean the men who were too lazy to
do the work or too cowardly to dare the--the unpleasant
things. And I'm not hard with myself--only frank.
But we were talking of the women. Poor things, what
chance have they got? You scorn them for using their
sex. Wait till you're drowning, dear, before you criticise
another for what he does to save himself when he's
sinking for the last time. I used everything I had in
making my fight. If I could have got on better or
quicker by the aid of my sex, I'd have used that."
"Don't say those things, Fred," cried Josephine,
smiling but half in earnest.
"Why not? Aren't you glad I'm here?"
She gave him a long look of passionate love and
lowered her eyes.
"At whatever cost?"
"Yes," she said in a low voice. "But I'm SURE you
"I've done nothing YOU wouldn't approve of--or
find excuses for. But that's because you--I--all of us
in this class--and in most other classes--have been
trained to false ideas--no, to perverted ideas--to a
system of morality that's twisted to suit the demands
of practical life. On Sundays we go to a magnificent
church to hear an expensive preacher and choir, go in
expensive dress and in carriages, and we never laugh at
ourselves. Yet we are going in the name of One who
was born in a stable and who said that we must give
everything to the poor, and so on."
"But I don't see what we could do about it--" she
said hesitatingly.
"We couldn't do anything. Only--don't you see
my point?--the difference between theory and practice?
Personally, I've no objection--no strong objection--to
the practice. All I object to is the lying and faking
about it, to make it seem to fit the theory. But we were
talking of women--women who work."
"I've no doubt you're right," admitted she. "I
suppose they aren't to blame for using their sex. I
ought to be ashamed of myself, to sneer at them."
"As a matter of fact, their sex does few of them
any good. The reverse. You see, an attractive woman
--one who's attractive AS a woman--can skirmish round
and find some one to support her. But most of the
working women--those who keep on at it--don't find
the man. They're not attractive, not even at the start.
After they've been at it a few years and lose the little
bloom they ever had--why, they've got to take their
chances at the game, precisely like a man. Only, they're
handicapped by always hoping that they'll be able to
quit and become married women. I'd like to see how
men would behave if they could find or could imagine
any alternative to `root hog or die.' "
"What's the matter with you this evening, Fred?
I never saw you in such a bitter mood."
"We never happened to get on this subject before."
"Oh, yes, we have. And you always have scoffed
at the men who fail."
"And I still scoff at them--most of them. A lot of
lazy cowards. Or else, so bent on self-indulgence--
petty self-indulgence--that they refuse to make the
small sacrifice to-day for the sake of the large advantage
day after to-morrow. Or else so stuffed with vanity
that they never see their own mistakes. However, why
blame them? They were born that way, and can't
change. A man who has the equipment of success and
succeeds has no more right to sneer at one less lucky
than you would have to laugh at a poor girl because
she wasn't dressed as well as you."
"What a mood! SOMETHING must have happened."
"Perhaps," said he reflectively. "Possibly that
girl set me off."
"What girl?"
"The one I told you about. The unfortunate little
creature who was typewriting for me this afternoon.
Not so very little, either. A curious figure she had.
She was tall yet she wasn't. She seemed thin, and when
you looked again, you saw that she was really only
slender, and beautifully shaped throughout."
Miss Burroughs laughed. "She must have been attractive."
"Not in the least. Absolutely without charm--and
so homely--no, not homely--commonplace. No, that's
not right, either. She had a startling way of fading and
blazing out. One moment she seemed a blank--pale,
lifeless, colorless, a nobody. The next minute she
became--amazingly different. Not the same thing every
time, but different things."
Frederick Norman was too experienced a dealer
with women deliberately to make the mistake--rather,
to commit the breach of tact and courtesy--involved
in praising one woman to another. But in this case
it never occurred to him that he was talking to a woman
of a woman. Josephine Burroughs was a lady; the
other was a piece of office machinery--and a very trivial
piece at that. But he saw and instantly understood
the look in her eyes--the strained effort to keep the
telltale upper lip from giving its prompt and irrepressible
signal of inward agitation.
"I'm very much interested," said she.
"Yes, she was a curiosity," said he carelessly.
"Has she been there--long?" inquired Josephine,
with a feigned indifference that did not deceive him.
"Several months, I believe. I never noticed her
until a few days ago. And until to-day I had forgotten
her. She's one of the kind it's difficult to remember."
He fell to glancing round the house, pretending to
be unconscious of the furtive suspicion with which she
was observing him. She said:
"She's your secretary now?"
"Merely a general office typewriter."
The curtain went up for the second act. Josephine
fixed her attention on the stage--apparently undivided
attention. But Norman felt rather than saw that she
was still worrying about the "curiosity." He marveled
at this outcropping of jealousy. It seemed ridiculous
--it WAS ridiculous. He laughed to himself. If she
could see the girl--the obscure, uninteresting cause of
her agitation--how she would mock at herself! Then,
too, there was the absurdity of thinking him capable of
such a stoop. A woman of their own class--or a woman
of its corresponding class, on the other side of the line
--yes. No doubt she had heard things that made her
uneasy, or, at least, ready to be uneasy. But this
poorly dressed obscurity, with not a charm that could
attract even a man of her own lowly class-- It was such
a good joke that he would have teased Josephine about
it but for his knowledge of the world--a knowledge in
whose primer it was taught that teasing is both bad
taste and bad judgment. Also, it was beneath his dignity,
it was offense to his vanity, to couple his name
with the name of one so beneath him that even the matter
of sex did not make the coupling less intolerable.
When the curtain fell several people came into the
box, and he went to make a few calls round the parterre.
He returned after the second act. They were again
alone--the deaf old aunt did not count. At once
Josephine began upon the same subject. With studied
indifference--how amusing for a woman of her
inexperience to try to fool a man of his experience!--she
"Tell me some more about that typewriter girl.
Women who work always interest me."
"She wouldn't," said Norman. The subject had
been driven clean out of his mind, and he didn't wish to
return to it. "Some day they will venture to make
judicious long cuts in Wagner's operas, and then they'll
be interesting. It always amuses me, this reverence of
little people for the great ones--as if a great man were
always great. No--he IS always great. But often it's
in a dull way. And the dull parts ought to be skipped."
"I don't like the opera this evening," said she.
"What you said a while ago has set me to thinking.
Is that girl a lady?"
"She works," laughed he.
"But she might have been a lady."
"I'm sure I don't know."
"Don't you know ANYTHING about her?"
"Except that she's trustworthy--and insignificant
and not too good at her business."
"I shouldn't think you could afford to keep
incompetent people," said the girl shrewdly.
"Perhaps they won't keep her," parried Norman
gracefully. "The head clerk looks after those things."
"He probably likes her."
"No," said Norman, too indifferent to be cautious.
"She has no `gentlemen friends.' "
"How do you know that?" said the girl, and she
could not keep a certain sharpness out of her voice.
"Tetlow, the head clerk, told me. I asked him a
few questions about her. I had some confidential work
to do and didn't want to trust her without being sure."
He saw that she was now prey to her jealous suspicion.
He was uncertain whether to be amused or irritated.
She had to pause long and with visible effort
collect herself before venturing:
"Oh, she does confidential work for you? I thought
you said she was incompetent."
He, the expert cross-examiner, had to admire her
skill at that high science and art. "I felt sorry for
her," he said. "She seemed such a forlorn little
She laughed with a constrained attempt at raillery.
"I never should have suspected you of such weakness.
To give confidential things to a forlorn little incompetent,
out of pity."
He was irritated, distinctly. The whole thing was
preposterous. It reminded him of feats of his own
before a jury. By clever questioning, Josephine had
made about as trifling an incident as could be imagined
take on really quite imposing proportions. There was
annoyance in his smile as he said:
"Shall I send her up to see you? You might find
it amusing, and maybe you could do something for her."
Josephine debated. "Yes," she finally said. "I
wish you would send her--" with a little sarcasm--
"if you can spare her for an hour or so."
"Don't make it longer than that," laughed he.
"Everything will stop while she's gone."
It pleased him, in a way, this discovery that Josephine
had such a common, commonplace weakness as jealousy.
But it also took away something from his high
esteem for her--an esteem born of the lover's idealizings;
for, while he was not of the kind of men who are
on their knees before women, he did have a deep respect
for Josephine, incarnation of all the material things
that dazzled him--a respect with something of the reverential
in it, and something of awe--more than he would
have admitted to himself. To-day, as of old, the imagemakers
are as sincere worshipers as visit the shrines.
In our prostrations and genuflections in the temple we
do not discriminate against the idols we ourselves have
manufactured; on the contrary, them we worship with
peculiar gusto. Norman knew his gods were frauds,
that their divine qualities were of the earth earthy. But
he served them, and what most appealed to him in
Josephine was that she incorporated about all their
divine qualities.
He and his sister went home together. Her first
remark in the auto was: "What were you and Josie
quarreling about?"
"Quarreling?" inquired he in honest surprise.
"I looked at her through my glasses and saw that
the was all upset--and you, too."
"This is too ridiculous," cried he.
"She looked--jealous."
"Nonsense! What an imagination you have!"
"I saw what I saw," Ursula maintained. "Well,
I suppose she has heard something--something recent.
I thought you had sworn off, Fred. But I might have
Norman was angry. He wondered at his own
exasperation, out of all proportion to any apparent
provoking cause. And it was most unusual for him to feel
temper, all but unprecedented for him to show it, no
matter how strong the temptation.
"It's a good idea, to make her jealous," pursued
his sister. "Nothing like jealousy to stimulate interest."
"Josephine is not that sort of woman."
"You know better. All women are that sort. All
men, too. Of course, some men and women grow angry
and go away when they get jealous while others stick
closer. So one has to be judicious."
"Josephine and I understand each other far too
well for such pettiness."
"Try her. No, you needn't. You have."
"Didn't I tell you----"
"Then what was she questioning you about?"
"Just to show you how wrong you were, I'll tell
you. She was asking me about a poor little girl down
at the office--one she wants to help."
Ursula laughed. "To help out of your office, I
guess. I thought you'd lived long enough, Fred, to
learn that no woman trusts ANY man about ANY woman.
Who is this `poor little girl'?"
"I don't even know her name. One of the typewriters."
"What made Josephine jealous of her?"
"Haven't I told you Josephine was not----"
"But I saw. Who is this girl?--pretty?"
Norman pretended to stifle a yawn. "Josephine
bored me half to death talking about her. Now it's
you. I never heard so much about so little."
"Is there something up between you and the girl?"
teased Ursula.
"Now, that's an outrage!" cried Norman. "She's
got nothing but her reputation, poor child. Do leave
her that."
"Is she very young?"
"How should I know?"
"Youth is a charm in itself."
"What sort of rot is this!" exclaimed he. "Do
you think I'd drop down to anything of that kind--in
ANY circumstances? A little working girl--and in my
own office?"
"Why do you heat so, Fred?" teased the sister.
"Really, I don't wonder Josephine was torn up."
An auto almost ran into them--one of those
innumerable hairbreadth escapes that make the streets
of New York as exciting as a battle--and as dangerous.
For a few minutes Ursula's mind was deflected. But a
fatality seemed to pursue the subject of the pale
obscurity whose very name he was uncertain whether he
remembered aright.
Said Ursula, as they entered the house, "A girl
working in the office with a man has a magnificent chance
at him. It's lucky for the men that women don't know
their business, but are amateurs and too stuck on
themselves to set and bait their traps properly. Is that
girl trying to get round you?"
"What possesses everybody to-night!" cried Norman.
"I tell you the girl 's as uninteresting a specimen
as you could find."
"Then why are YOU so interested in her?" teased
the sister.
Norman shrugged his shoulders, laughed with his
normal easy good humor and went to his own floor.
On top of the pile of letters beside his plate, next
morning, lay a note from Josephine:
"Don't forget your promise about that girl, dear.
I've an hour before lunch, and could see her then. I
was out of humor last night. I'm very penitent this
morning. Please forgive me. Maybe I can do something
for her.
Norman read with amused eyes. "Well!" soliloquized
he, "I'm not likely to forget that poor little
creature again. What a fuss about nothing!"
MANY men, possibly a majority, have sufficient
equipment for at least a fair measure of success. Yet
all but a few are downright failures, passing their lives
in helpless dependence, glad to sell themselves for a
small part of the value they create. For this there are
two main reasons. The first is, as Norman said, that
only a few men have the self-restraint to resist the
temptings of a small pleasure to-day in order to gain
a larger to-morrow or next day. The second is that
few men possess the power of continuous concentration.
Most of us cannot concentrate at all; any slight
distraction suffices to disrupt and destroy the whole train
of thought. A good many can concentrate for a few
hours, for a week or so, for two or three months. But
there comes a small achievement and it satisfies, or a
small discouragement and it disheartens. Only to the
rare few is given the power to concentrate steadily,
year in and year out, through good and evil event or
As Norman stepped into his auto to go to the office
--he had ridden a horse in the park before breakfast
until its hide was streaked with lather--the instant he
entered his auto, he discharged his mind of everything
but the business before him down town--or, rather,
business filled his mind so completely that everything else
poured out and away. A really fine mind--a perfect
or approximately perfect instrument to the purposes of
its possessor--is a marvelous spectacle of order. It is
like a vast public library constantly used by large
numbers. There are alcoves, rows on rows, shelves on
shelves, with the exactest system everywhere prevailing,
with the attendants moving about in list-bottomed shoes,
fulfilling without the least hesitation or mistake the
multitude of directions from the central desk. It is
like an admirably drilled army, where there is the nice
balance of freedom and discipline that gives mobility
without confusion; the divisions, down to files and even
units, can be disposed along the line of battle wherever
needed, or can be marshaled in reserve for use at the
proper moment. Such a mind may be used for good
purpose or bad--or for mixed purposes, after the usual
fashion in human action. But whatever the service to
which it is put, it acts with equal energy and precision.
Character--that is a thing apart. The character determines
the morality of action; but only the intellect
determines the skill of action.
In the offices of that great law firm one of the
keenest pleasures of the more intelligent of the staff was
watching the workings of Frederick Norman's mind--
its ease of movement, its quickness and accuracy, its
obedience to the code of mental habits he had fixed for
himself. In large part all this was born with the man;
but it had been brought to a state of perfection by the
most painful labor, by the severest discipline, by years
of practice of the sacrifice of small temptations--
temptations to waste time and strength on the little pleasant
things which result in such heavy bills--bills that
bankrupt a man in middle life and send him in old age into
the deserts of poverty and contempt.
Such an unique and trivial request as that of
Josephine Burroughs being wholly out of his mental
habit for down town, he forgot it along with everything
else having to do with uptown only--along with
Josephine herself, to tell a truth which may pique the
woman reader and may be wholly misunderstood by
the sentimentalists. By merest accident he was reminded.
As the door of his private office opened to admit
an important client he happened to glance up. And
between the edge of the door frame and his client's
automobile-fattened and carefully dressed body, he
caught a glimpse of the "poor little forlornness" who
chanced to be crossing the outer office. A glint of
sunlight on her hair changed it from lifelessness to golden
vital vividness; the same chance sunbeam touched her
pale skin with a soft yellow radiation--and her profile
was delicately fine and regular. Thus Norman, who observed
everything, saw a head of finely wrought gold--
a startling cameo against the dead white of office wall.
It was only with the second thought that he recognized
her. The episode of the night before came back and
Josephine's penitent yet persistent note.
He glanced at the clock. Said the client in the
amusing tone of one who would like to take offense if
he only dared, "I'll not detain you long, Mr. Norman.
And really the matter is extremely important."
There are not many lawyers, even of the first rank,
with whom their big clients reverse the attitude of servant
and master. Norman might well have been flattered.
In that restrained tone from one used to servility and
fond of it and easily miffed by lack of it was the whole
story of Norman's long battle and splendid victory.
But he was not in the mood to be flattered; he was
thinking of other things. And it presently annoyed him
that his usually docile mind refused to obey his will's
order to concentrate on the client and the business--
said business being one of those huge schemes through
which a big monster of a corporation is constructed by
lawyers out of materials supplied by great capitalists
and controllers of capital, is set to eating in enormous
meals the substance of the people; at some obscure point
in all the principal veins small but leechlike parasite
corporations are attached, industriously to suck away
the surplus blood so that the owners of the beast may
say, "It is eating almost nothing. See how lean it is,
poor thing! Why, the bones fairly poke through its
meager hide."
An interesting and highly complicated enterprise is
such a construction. It was of the kind in which
Norman's mind especially delighted; Hercules is himself only
in presence of an herculean labor. But on that day he
could not concentrate, and because of a trifle! He felt
like a giant disabled by a grain of dust in the eye--
yes, a mere grain of dust!" I must love Josephine
even more than I realize, to be fretted by such a paltry
thing," thought he. And after patiently enduring the
client for half an hour without being able to grasp the
outlines of the project, he rose abruptly and said: "I
must get into my mind the points you've given me
before we can go further. So I'll not waste your
This sounded very like "Clear out--you've bored
me to my limit of endurance." But the motions of a
mind such as he knew Norman had were beyond and
high above the client's mere cunning at dollar-trapping.
He felt that it was the part of wisdom--also soothing
to vanity--to assume that Norman meant only what
his words conveyed. When Norman was alone he rang
for an office boy and said:
"Please ask Miss Halliday to come here."
The boy hesitated. "Miss Hallowell?" he suggested.
"Hallowell--thanks--Hallowell," said Norman.
And it somehow pleased him that he had not
remembered her name. How significant it was of her
insignificance that so accurate a memory as his should
make the slip. When she, impassive, colorless, nebulous,
stood before him the feeling of pleasure was, queerly
enough, mingled with a sense of humiliation. What
absurd vagaries his imagination had indulged in! For
it must have been sheer hallucination, his seeing those
wonders in her. How he would be laughed at if those
pictures he had made of her could be seen by any other
eyes!" They must be right when they say a man in
love is touched in the head. Only, why the devil should
I have happened to get these crazy notions about a
person I've no interest in?" However, the main point
--and most satisfactory--was that Josephine would be
at a glance convinced--convicted--made ashamed of her
absurd attack. A mere grain of dust.
"Just a moment, please," he said to Miss Hallowell.
"I want to give you a note of introduction."
He wrote the note to Josephine Burroughs: "Here
she is. I've told her you wish to talk with her about
doing some work for you." When he finished he looked
up. She was standing at the window, gazing out upon
the tremendous panorama of skyscrapers that makes
New York the most astounding of the cities of men. He
was about to speak. The words fell back unuttered.
For once more the hallucination--or whatever it was--
laid hold of him. That figure by the window--that
beautiful girl, with the great dreamy eyes and the soft
and languorous nuances of golden haze over her hair,
over the skin of perfectly rounded cheek and perfectly
moulded chin curving with ideal grace into the whitest
and firmest of throats----
"Am I mad? or do I really see what I see?" he
He turned away to clear his eyes for a second view,
for an attempt to settle it whether he saw or imagined.
When he looked again, she was observing him--and once
more she was the obscure, the cipherlike Miss Hallowell,
ten-dollar-a-week typewriter and not worth it.
Evidently she noted his confusion and was vaguely alarmed
by it. He recovered himself as best he could and debated
whether it was wise to send her to Josephine. Surely
those transformations were not altogether his own
hallucinations; and Josephine might see, might humiliate
him by suspecting more strongly-- . . . Ridiculous!
He held out the letter.
"The lady to whom this is addressed wishes to see
you. Will you go there, right away, please? It may
be that you'll get the chance to make some extra
money. You've no objection, I suppose?"
She took the letter hesitatingly.
"You will find her agreeable, I think," continued
he. "At any rate, the trip can do no harm."
She hesitated a moment longer, as if weighing what
he had said. "No, it will do no harm," she finally said.
Then, with a delightful color and a quick transformation
into a vision of young shyness, "Thank you, Mr.
Norman. Thank you so much."
"Not at all--not in the least," he stammered, the
impulse strong to take the note back and ask her to
return to her desk.
When the door closed behind her he rose and paced
about the room uneasily. He was filled with disquiet,
with hazy apprehension. His nerves were unsteady, as
if he were going through an exhausting strain. He sat
and tried to force himself to work. Impossible. "What
sort of damn fool attack is this?" he exclaimed, pacing
about again. He searched his mind in vain for any
cause adequate to explain his unprecedented state. "If
I did not know that I was well--absolutely well--I'd
think I was about to have an illness--something in the
He appealed to that friend in any trying hour, his
sense of humor. He laughed at himself; but his nerves
refused to return to the normal. He rushed from his
private office on various pretexts, each time lingered in
the general room, talking aimlessly with Tetlow--and
watching the door. When she at last appeared, he
guiltily withdrew, feeling that everyone was observing
his perturbation and was wondering at it and jesting
about it. "And what the devil am I excited about?"
he demanded of himself. What indeed? He seated himself,
rang the bell.
"If Miss Hallowell has got back," he said to the
office boy, "please ask her to come in."
"I think she's gone out to lunch," said the boy. "I
know she came in a while ago. She passed along as you
was talking to Mr. Tetlow."
Norman felt himself flushing. "Any time will do,"
he said, bending over the papers spread out before him
--the papers in the case of the General Traction Company
resisting the payment of its taxes. A noisome
odor seemed to be rising from the typewritten sheets.
He made a wry face and flung the papers aside with a
gesture of disgust. "They never do anything honest,"
he said to himself. "From the stock-jobbing owners
down to the nickel-filching conductors they steal--steal
--steal!" And then he wondered at, laughed at, his
heat. What did it matter? An ant pilfering from
another ant and a sparrow stealing the crumb found
by another sparrow--a man robbing another man--
all part of the universal scheme. Only a narrow-minded
ignoramus would get himself wrought up over it; a
philosopher would laugh--and take what he needed or
happened to fancy.
The door opened. Miss Hallowell entered, a small
and demure hat upon her masses of thick fair hair
arranged by anything but unskillful fingers. "You
wished to see me?" came in the quiet little voice, sweet
and frank and shy.
He roused himself from pretended abstraction.
"Oh--it's you?" he said pleasantly. "They said you
were out."
"I was going to lunch. But if you've anything for
me to do, I'll be glad to stay."
"No--no. I simply wished to say that if Miss
Burroughs wished to make an arrangement with you, we'd
help you about carrying out your part of it."
She was pale--so pale that it brought out strongly
the smooth dead-white purity of her skin. Her small
features wore an expression of pride, of haughtiness
even. And in the eyes that regarded him steadily there
shone a cold light--the light of a proud and lonely soul
that repels intrusion even as the Polar fastnesses push
back without effort assault upon their solitudes. "We
made no arrangement," said she.
"You are not more than eighteen, are you?"
inquired he abruptly.
The irrelevant question startled her. She looked as
if she thought she had not heard aright. "I am
twenty," she said.
"You have a most--most unusual way of shifting
to various ages and personalities," explained he, with
some embarrassment.
She simply looked at him and waited.
His embarrassment increased. It was a novel
sensation to him, this feeling ill at ease with a woman--
he who was at ease with everyone and put others at their
ease or not as he pleased. "I'm sorry you and Miss
Burroughs didn't arrange something. I suppose she
found the hours difficult."
"She made me an offer," replied the girl. "I
refused it."
"But, as I told you, we can let you off--anything
within reason."
"Thank you, but I do not care to do that kind of
work. No doubt any kind of work for wages classes
one as a servant. But those people up there--they make
one FEEL it--feel menial."
"Not Miss Burroughs, I assure you."
A satirical smile hovered round the girl's lips. Her
face was altogether lovely now, and no lily ever rose
more gracefully from its stem than did her small head
from her slender form. "She meant to be kind, but
she was insulting. Those people up there don't
understand. They're vain and narrow. Oh, I don't blame
them. Only, I don't care to be brought into contact
with them."
He looked at her in wonder. She talked of Josephine
as if she were Josephine's superior, and her expression
and accent were such that they contrived to convey an
impression that she had the right to do it. He grew
suddenly angry at her, at himself for listening to her.
"I am sorry," he said stiffly, and took up a pen to
indicate that he wished her to go.
He rather expected that she would be alarmed. But
if she was, she wholly concealed it. She smiled slightly
and moved toward the door. Looking after her, he
relented. She seemed so young--was so young--and
was evidently poor. He said:
"It's all right to be proud, Miss Hallowell. But
there is such a thing as supersensitiveness. You are
earning your living. If you'll pardon me for thrusting
advice upon you, I think you've made a mistake.
I'm sure Miss Burroughs meant well. If you had been
less sensitive you'd soon have realized it."
"She patronized me," replied the girl, not angrily,
but with amusement. "It was all I could do not to
laugh in her face. The idea of a woman who probably
couldn't make five dollars a week fancying she was the
superior of any girl who makes her own living, no matter
how poor a living it is."
Norman laughed. It had often appealed to his own
sense of humor, the delusion that the tower one happened
to be standing upon was part of one's own stature. But
he said: "You're a very foolish young person. You'll
not get far in the world if you keep to that road. It
winds through Poverty Swamps to the Poor House."
"Oh, no," replied she. "One can always die."
Again he laughed. "But why die? Why not be
sensible and live?"
"I don't know," replied she. She was looking away
dreamily, and her eyes were wonderful to see. "There
are many things I feel and do--and I don't at all understand
why. But--" An expression of startling resolution
flashed across her face. "But I do them, just the
A brief silence; then, as she again moved toward the
door, he said, "You have been working for some time?"
"Four years."
"You support yourself?"
"I work to help out father's income. He makes
almost enough, but not quite."
Almost enough! The phrase struck upon Norman's
fancy as both amusing and sad. Almost enough for
what? For keeping body and soul together; for keeping
body barely decently clad. Yet she was content.
He said:
"You like to work?"
"Not yet. But I think I shall when I learn this
business. One feels secure when one has a trade."
"It doesn't impress me as an interesting life for
a girl of your age," he suggested.
"Oh, I'm not unhappy. And at home, of evenings
and Sundays, I'm happy."
"Doing what?"
"Reading and talking with father and--doing the
housework--and all the rest of it."
What a monotonous narrow little life! He wanted
to pity her, but somehow he could not. There was no
suggestion in her manner that she was an object of
pity. "What did Miss Burroughs say to you--if I
may ask?"
"Certainly. You sent me, and I'm much obliged
to you. I realize it was an opportunity--for another
sort of girl. I half tried to accept because I knew
refusing was only my--queerness." She smiled charmingly.
"You are not offended because I couldn't make
myself take it?"
"Not in the least." And all at once he felt that
it was true. This girl would have been out of place in
service. "What was the offer?"
Suddenly before him there appeared a clever, willful
child, full of the childish passion for imitation and
mockery. And she proceeded to "take off" the grand
Miss Burroughs--enough like Josephine to give the
satire point and barb. He could see Josephine resolved
to be affable and equal, to make this doubtless bedazzled
stray from the "lower classes" feel comfortable in those
palatial surroundings. She imitated Josephine's walk,
her way of looking, her voice for the menials--gracious
and condescending. The exhibition was clever, free from
malice, redolent of humor. Norman laughed until the
tears rolled down his cheeks.
"You ought to go on the stage," said he. "How
Josephine--Miss Burroughs would appreciate it! For
she's got a keen sense of humor."
"Not for the real jokes--like herself," replied Miss
"You're prejudiced."
"No. I see her as she is. Probably everyone else
--those around her--see her money and her clothes and
all that. But I saw--just her."
He nodded thoughtfully. Then he looked penetratingly
at her. "How did you happen to learn to do
that?" he asked. "To see people as they are?"
"Father taught me." Her eyes lighted up, her
whole expression changed. She became beautiful with
the beauty of an intense and adoring love. "Father is
a wonderful man--one of the most wonderful that ever
lived. He----"
There was a knock at the door. She startled, he
looked confused. Both awakened to a sense of their
forgotten surroundings, of who and what they were. She
went and Mr. Sanders entered. But even in his confusion
Norman marveled at the vanishing of the fascinating
personality who had been captivating him into forgetting
everything else, at the reappearance of the
blank, the pale and insignificant personality attached
to a typewriting machine at ten dollars a week. No,
not insignificant, not blank--never again that, for him.
He saw now the full reality--and also why he, everyone,
was so misled. She made him think of the surface of
the sea when the sky is gray and the air calm. It lies
smooth and flat and expressionless--inert, monotonous.
But let sunbeam strike or breeze ever so faint start up,
and what a commotion of unending variety! He could
never look at her again without being reminded of those
infinite latent possibilities, without wondering what new
and perhaps more charming, more surprising varieties
of look and tone and manner could be evoked.
And while Sanders was talking--prosing on and on
about things Norman either already knew or did not
wish to know--he was thinking of her. "If she happens
to meet a man with enough discernment to fall in
love with her," he said to himself, "he certainly will
never weary. What a pity that such a girl shouldn't
have had a chance, should be wasted on some unappreciative
chucklehead of her class! What a pity she hasn't
ambition--or the quality, whatever it is--that makes
those who have it get on, whether they wish or no."
During the rest of the day he revolved from time
to time indistinct ideas of somehow giving this girl a
chance. He wished Josephine would and could help, or
perhaps his sister Ursula. It was not a matter that
could be settled, or even taken up, in haste. No man
of his mentality and experience fails to learn how perilous
it is in the least to interfere in the destiny of anyone.
And his notion involved not slight interference with
advice or suggestion or momentarily extended helping
hand, but radical change of the whole current of destiny.
Also, he appreciated how difficult it is for a man to do
anything for a young woman--anything that would not
harm more than it would help. Only one thing seemed
clear to him--the "clever child" ought to have a
He went to see Josephine after dinner that night
His own house, while richly and showily furnished, as
became his means and station, seemed--and indeed was
--merely an example of simple, old-fashioned "solid
comfort" in comparison with the Burroughs palace.
He had never liked, but, being a true New Yorker, had
greatly admired the splendor of that palace, its costly
art junk, its rotten old tapestries, its unlovely genuine
antiques, its room after room of tasteless magnificence,
suggesting a museum, or rather the combination home
and salesroom of an art dealer. This evening he found
himself curious, critical, disposed to license a longsuppressed
sense of humor. While he was waiting for
Josephine to come down to the small salon into which
he had been shown, her older sister drifted in, on the
way to a late dinner and ball. She eyed him admiringly
from head to foot.
"You've SUCH an air, Fred," said she. "You should
hear the butler on the subject of you. He says that
of all the men who come to the house you are most the
man of the world. He says he could tell it by the way
you walk in and take off your hat and coat and throw
them at him."
Norman laughed and said, "I didn't know. I must
stop that."
"Don't!" cried Mrs. Bellowes. "You'll break his
heart. He adores it. You know, servants dearly love
to be treated as servants. Anyone who thinks the world
loves equality knows very little about human nature.
Most people love to look up, just as most women love
to be ruled. No, you must continue to be the master,
the man of the world, Fred."
She was busy with her gorgeous and trailing wraps
and with her cigarette or she would have seen his
confusion. He was recalling his scene with the typewriter
girl. Not much of the man of the world, then and
there, certainly. What a grotesque performance for a
man of his position, for a serious man of any kind! And
how came he to permit such a person to mimic Josephine
Burroughs, a lady, the woman to whom he was engaged?
In these proud and pretentious surroundings he felt
contemptibly guilty--and dazed wonder at his own
inexplicable folly and weakness.
Mrs. Bellowes departed before Josephine came down.
So there was no relief for his embarrassment. He saw
that she too felt constrained. Instead of meeting him
half way in embrace and kiss, as she usually did, she
threw him a kiss and pretended to be busy lighting
a cigarette and arranging the shades of the table lamp.
"Well, I saw your `poor little creature,' " she began.
She was splendidly direct in all her dealings, after the
manner of people who have never had to make their own
way--to cajole or conciliate or dread the consequences
of frankness.
"I told you you'd not find her interesting."
"Oh, she was a nice little girl," replied Josephine
with elaborate graciousness--and Norman, the "take
off" fresh in his mind, was acutely critical of her
manner, of her mannerisms. "Of course," she went on,
"one does not expect much of people of that class. But
I thought her unusually well-mannered--and quite
"Tetlow makes 'em clean up," said Norman, a
gleam of sarcasm in his careless glance and tone. And
into his nostrils stole an odor of freshness and health
and youth, the pure, sweet odor that is the base of all
the natural perfumes. It startled him, his vivid memory
of a feature of her which he had not been until now
aware that he had ever noted.
"I offered her some work," continued Josephine,
"but I guess you keep her too busy down there for her
to do anything else."
"Probably," said Norman. "Why do you sit on
the other side of the room?"
"Oh, I don't know," laughed Josephine. "I feel
queer to-night. And it seems to me you're queer, too."
"I? Perhaps rather tired, dear--that's all."
"Did you and Miss Hallowell work hard to-day?"
"Oh, bother Miss Hallowell. Let's talk about ourselves."
And he drew her to the sofa at one end of the
big fireplace. "I wish we hadn't set the wedding so far
off." And suddenly he found himself wondering
whether that remark had been prompted by eagerness--
a lover's eagerness--or by impatience to have the
business over and settled.
"You don't act a bit natural to-night, Fred. You
touch me as if I were a stranger."
"I like that!" mocked he. "A stranger hold your
hand like this?--and--kiss you--like this?"
She drew away, suddenly laid her hands on his
shoulders, kissed him upon the lips passionately, then
looked into his eyes. "DO you love me, Fred?--REALLY?"
"Why so earnest?"
"You've had a great deal of experience?"
"More or less."
"Have you ever loved any woman as you love me?"
"I've never loved any woman but you. I never
before wanted to marry a woman."
"But you may be doing it because--well, you might
be tired and want to settle down."
"Do you believe that?"
"No, I don't. But I want to hear you say it isn't
"Well--it isn't so. Are you satisfied?"
"I'm frightfully jealous of you, Fred."
"What a waste of time!"
"I've got something to confess--something I'm
ashamed of."
"Don't confess," cried he, laughing but showing
that he meant it. "Just--don't be wicked again
That's much better than confession."
"But I must confess," insisted she. "I had evil
{illust. caption = " `Would you like to think I was marrying you
what you have?--or for any other reason whatever but for what you
are?' "}
thoughts evil suspicions about you. I've had them
all day--until you came. As soon as I saw you I felt
bowed into the dust. A man like you, doing anything
so vulgar as I suspected you of--oh, dearest, I'm SO
He put his arms round her and drew her to his
shoulder. And the scene of mimicry in his office flashed
into his mind, and the blood burned in his cheeks. But
he had no such access of insanity as to entertain the
idea of confession.
"It was that typewriter girl," continued Josephine.
She drew away again and once more searched his face.
"You told me she was homely."
"Not exactly that."
"Insignificant then."
"Isn't she?"
"Yes--in a way," said Josephine, the condescending
note in her voice again--and in his mind Miss Hallowell's
clever burlesque of that note. "But, in another
way-- Men are different from women. Now I--a
woman of my sort--couldn't stoop to a man of her
class. But men seem not to feel that way."
"No," said he, irritated. "They've the courage to
take what they want wherever they find it. A man will
take gold out of the dirt, because gold is always gold.
But a woman waits until she can get it at a fashionable
jeweler's, and makes sure it's made up in a fashionable
way. I don't like to hear YOU say those things."
Her eyes flashed. "Then you DO like that Hallowell
girl!" she cried--and never before had her voice
jarred upon him.
"That Hallowell girl has nothing to do with this,"
he rejoined. "I like to feel that you really love me--
that you'd have taken me wherever you happened to
find me--and that you'd stick to me no matter how far
I might drop."
"I would! I would!" she cried, tears in her eyes.
"Oh, I didn't mean that, Fred. You know I didn't--
don't you?"
She tried to put her arms round his neck, but he
took her hands and held them. "Would you like to
think I was marrying you for what you have?--or for
any other reason whatever but for what you are?"
It being once more a question of her own sex, the
obstinate line appeared round her mouth. "But, Fred,
I'd not be ME, if I were--a working girl," she replied.
"You might be something even better if you were,"
retorted he coldly. "The only qualities I don't like
about you are the surface qualities that have been
plated on in these surroundings. And if I thought it
was anything but just you that I was marrying, I'd
lose no time about leaving you. I'd not let myself
degrade myself."
"Fred--that tone--and don't--please don't look at
me like that!" she begged.
But his powerful glance searched on. He said, "Is
it possible that you and I are deceiving ourselves--and
that we'll marry and wake up--and be bored and
dissatisfied--like so many of our friends?"
"No--no," she cried, wildly agitated. "Fred, dear
we love each other. You know we do. I don't use
words as well as you do--and my mind works in a queer
way-- Perhaps I didn't mean what I said. No matter.
If my love were put to the test--Fred, I don't ask
anything more than that your love for me would stand
the tests my love for you would stand."
He caught her in his arms and kissed her with more
passion than he had ever felt for her before. "I
believe you, Jo," he said. "I believe you."
"I love you so--that I could be jealous even of
her--of that little girl in your office. Fred, I didn't
confess all the truth. It isn't true that I thought her
--a nobody. When she first came in here--it was in
this very room--I thought she was as near nothing
as any girl I'd ever seen. Then she began to change--
as you said. And--oh, dearest, I can't help hating her!
And when I tried to get her away from you, and she
wouldn't come----"
"Away from me!" he cried, laughing.
"I felt as if it were like that," she pleaded. "And
she wouldn't come--and treated me as if she were queen
and I servant--only politely, I must say, for Heaven
knows I don't want to injure her----"
"Shall I have her discharged?"
"Fred!" exclaimed she indignantly. "Do you
think I could do such a thing?"
"She'd easily get another job as good. Tetlow
can find her one. Does that satisfy you?"
"No," she confessed. "It makes me feel meaner
than ever."
"Now, Jo, let's drop this foolish seriousness about
nothing at all. Let's drop it for good."
"Nothing at all--that's exactly it. I can't
understand, Fred. What is there about her that makes her
haunt me? That makes me afraid she'll haunt you?"
Norman felt a sudden thrill. He tightened his hold
upon her hands because his impulse had been to release
them. "How absurd!" he said, rather noisily.
"Isn't it, though?" echoed she. "Think of you
and me almost quarreling about such a trivial person."
Her laugh died away. She shivered, cried, "Fred, I'm
superstitious about her. I'm--I'm--AFRAID!" And she
flung herself wildly into his arms.
"She IS somewhat uncanny," said he, with a
lightness he was far from feeling. "But, dear--it isn't
complimentary to me, is it?"
"Forgive me, dearest--I don't mean that. I
couldn't mean that. But--I LOVE you so. Ever since I
began to love you I've been looking round for something
to be afraid of. And this is the first chance
you've given me."
"I'VE given you!" mocked he.
She laughed hysterically. "I mean the first chance
I've had. And I'm doing the best I can with it."
They were in good spirits now, and for the rest of
the evening were as loverlike as always, the nearer
together for the bit of rough sea they had weathered so
nicely. Neither spoke of Miss Hallowell. Each had
privately resolved never to speak of her to the other
again. Josephine was already regretting the frankness
that had led her to expose a not too attractive part of
herself--and to exaggerate in his eyes the importance
of a really insignificant chit of a typewriter. When he
went to bed that night he was resolved to have Tetlow
find Miss Hallowell a job in another office.
"She certainly IS uncanny," he said to himself. "I
wonder why--I wonder what the secret of her is. She's
the first woman I ever ran across who had a real secret.
IS it real? I wonder."
TOWARD noon the following day Norman, suddenly
in need of a stenographer, sent out for Miss Purdy, one
of the three experts at eighteen dollars a week who
did most of the important and very confidential work
for the heads of the firm. When his door opened again
he saw not Miss Purdy but Miss Hallowell.
"Miss Purdy is sick to-day," said she. "Mr.
Tetlow wishes to know if I would do."
Norman shifted uneasily in his chair. "Just as
well--perfectly--certainly," he stammered. He was not
looking at her--seemed wholly occupied with the business
he was preparing to dispatch.
She seated herself in the usual place, at the opposite
side of the broad table. With pencil poised she fixed
her gaze upon the unmarred page of her open notebook.
Instead of abating, his confusion increased. He could
not think of the subject about which he wished to
dictate. First, he noted how long her lashes were--and
darker than her hair, as were her well-drawn eyebrows
also. Never had he seen so white a skin or one so
smooth. She happened to be wearing a blouse with a
Dutch neck that day. What a superb throat! What
a line of beauty its gently swelling curve made. Then
his glance fell upon her lips, rosy-red, slightly pouted.
And what masses of dead gold hair--no, not gold, but
of the white-gray of wood ashes, and tinted with gold!
No wonder it was difficult to tell just what color her
hair was. Hair like that was ready to be of any color.
And there were her arms, so symmetrical in her rather
tight sleeves, and emerging into view in the most delicate
wrists. What a marvelous skin!
"Have you ever posed?"
She startled and the color flamed in her cheeks. Her
eyes shot a glance of terror at him. "I--I," she
stammered. Then almost defiantly, "Yes, I did--for a while.
But I didn't suppose anyone knew. At the time we
needed the money badly."
Norman felt deep disgust with himself for bursting
out with such a question, and for having surprised her
secret. "There's nothing to be ashamed of," he said
"Oh, I'm not ashamed," she returned. Her agitation
had subsided. "The only reason I quit was because
the work was terribly hard and the pay small and
uncertain. I was confused because they discharged me
at the last place I had, when they found out I had been
a model. It was a church paper office."
Again she poised her pencil and lowered her eyes.
But he did not take the hint. "Is there anything you
would rather do than this sort of work?" he asked.
"Nothing I could afford," replied she.
"If you had been kind to Miss Burroughs yesterday
she would have helped you."
"I couldn't afford to do that," said the girl in her
quiet, reticent way.
"To do what?"
"To be nice to anyone for what I could get out
of it."
Norman smiled somewhat cynically. Probably the
girl fancied she was truthful; but human beings rarely
knew anything about their real selves. "What would
you like to do?"
She did not answer his question until she had shrunk
completely within herself and was again thickly veiled
with the expression which made everyone think her
insignificant. "Nothing I could afford to do," said she.
It was plain that she did not wish to be questioned
further along that line.
"The stage?" he persisted.
"I hadn't thought of it," was her answer.
"What then?"
"I don't think about things I can't have. I never
made any definite plans."
"But isn't it a good idea always to look ahead? As
long as one has to be moving, one might as well move in
a definite direction."
She was waiting with pencil poised.
"There isn't much of a future at this business."
She shrank slightly. He felt that she regarded his
remark as preparation for a kindly hint that she was
not giving satisfaction. . . . Well, why not leave it that
way? Perhaps she would quit of her own accord--
would spare him the trouble--and embarrassment--of
arranging with Tetlow for another place for her. He
began to dictate--gave her a few sentences mockingly
different from his usual terse and clear statements--
interrupted himself with:
"You misunderstood me a while ago. I didn't
mean you weren't doing your work well. On the
contrary, I think you'll soon be expert. But I thought
perhaps I might be able to help you to something you'd
like better."
He listened to his own words in astonishment. What
new freak of madness was this? Instead of clearing
himself of this uncanny girl, he was proposing things
to her that would mean closer relations. And what
reason had he to think she was fitted for anything but
just what she was now doing--doing indifferently well?
"Thank you," she said, so quietly that it seemed
coldly, "but I'm satisfied as I am."
Her manner seemed to say with polite and restrained
plainness that she was not in the least appreciative of
his interest or of himself. But this could not be. No girl
in her position could fail to be grateful for his interest.
No woman, in all his life, had ever failed to respond to
his slightest advance. No, it simply could not be. She
was merely shy, and had a peculiar way of showing it.
He said:
"You have no ambition?"
"That's not for a woman."
She was making her replies as brief as civility
permitted. He observed her narrowly. She was not shy,
not embarrassed. What kind of game was this? It
could not be in sincere nature for a person in her position
thus to treat overtures, friendly and courteous overtures,
from one in his position. And never before--
never--had a woman been thus unresponsive. Instead
of feeling relief that she had disentangled him from the
plight into which his impulsive offer had flung him, he
was piqued--angered--and his curiosity was inflamed
as never before about any woman.
The relations of the sexes are for the most part
governed by traditions of sex allurements and sex tricks
so ancient that they have ceased to be conscious and
have become instinctive. One of these venerable first
principles is that mystery is the arch provoker. Norman,
an old and expert student of the great game--the
only game for which the staidest and most serious will
abandon all else to follow its merry call--Norman knew
this trick of mystery. The woman veils herself and
makes believe to fly--an excellent trick, as good to-day
as ever after five thousand years of service. And he
knew that in it lay the explanation for the sudden and
high upflaming of his interest in this girl. "What an
ass I'm making of myself!" reflected he. "When I
care nothing about the girl, why should I care about
the mystery of her? Of course, it's some poor little
affair, a puzzle not worth puzzling out."
All true and clear enough. Yet seeing it did not
abate his interest a particle. She had veiled herself;
she was pretending--perhaps honestly--to fly. He
rose and went to the window, stood with his back to
her, resumed dictating. But the sentences would not
come. He whirled abruptly. "I'm not ready to do the
thing yet," he said. "I'll send for you later."
Without a word or a glance she stood, took her book
and went toward the door. He gazed after her. He
could not refrain from speaking again. "I'm afraid
you misunderstood my offer a while ago," said he,
neither curt nor friendly. "I forgot how such things
from a man to a young woman might be misinterpreted."
"I never thought of that," replied she unembarrassed.
"It was simply that I can't put myself under
obligation to anyone."
As she stood there, her full beauty flashed upon
him--the exquisite form, the subtly graceful poise of
her body, of her head--the loveliness of that goldenhued
white skin--the charm of her small rosy mouth--
the delicate, sensitive, slightly tilted nose--and her eyes
--above all, her eyes!--so clear, so sweet. Her voice
had seemed thin and faint to him; its fineness now seemed
the rarest delicacy--the exactly fitting kind for so
evasive and delicate a beauty as hers. He made a slight
bow of dismissal, turned abruptly away. Never in all
his life, strewn with gallant experiences--never had a
woman thus treated him, and never had a woman thus
affected him. "I am mad--stark mad!" he muttered.
"A ten-dollar-a-week typewriter, whom nobody on earth
but myself would look at a second time!" But something
within him hurled back this scornful fling.
Though no one else on earth saw or appreciated--what
of it? She affected HIM thus--and that was enough.
"_I_ want her! . . . I WANT her! I have never wanted a
woman before."
He rushed into the dressing room attached to his
office, plunged his face into ice-cold water. This somewhat
eased the burning sensation that was becoming
intolerable. Many were the unaccountable incidents in
his acquaintance with this strange creature; the most
preposterous was this sudden seizure. He realized now
that his feeling for her had been like the quiet, steady,
imperceptible filling of a reservoir that suddenly
announces itself by the thunder and roar of a mighty
cascade over the dam. "This is madness--sheer madness!
I am still master within myself. I will make
short work of this rebellion." And with an air of
calmness so convincing that he believed in it he addressed
himself to the task of sanity and wisdom lying plain
before him. "A man of my position caught by a girl
like that! A man such as I am, caught by ANY woman
whatever!" It was grotesque. He opened his door to
summon Tetlow.
The gate in the outside railing was directly
opposite, and about thirty feet away. Tetlow and Miss
Hallowell were going out--evidently to lunch together.
She was looking up at the chief clerk with laughing
eyes--they seemed coquettish to the infuriated Norman.
And Tetlow--the serious and squab young ass was
gazing at her with the expression men of the stupid
squab sort put on when they wish to impress a woman.
At this spectacle, at the vision of that slim young
loveliness, that perfect form and deliciously smooth soft
skin, white beyond belief beneath its faintly golden tint
--the hot blood steamed up into Norman's brain, blinded
his sight, reddened it with desire and jealousy. He
drew back, closed his door with a bang.
"This is not I," he muttered. "What has
happened? Am I insane?"
When Tetlow returned from lunch the office boy on
duty at the gate told him that Mr. Norman wished to
see him at once. Like all men trying to advance along
ways where their fellow men can help or hinder, the head
clerk was full of more or less clever little tricks thought
out with a view to making a good impression. One of
them was to stamp upon all minds his virtue of promptness--
of what use to be prompt unless you forced every
one to feel how prompt you were? He went in to see
Norman, with hat in hand and overcoat on his back and
one glove off, the other still on. Norman was standing
at a window, smoking a cigarette. His appearance--
dress quite as much as manner--was the envy of his
subordinate--as, indeed, it was of hundreds of the
young men struggling to rise down town. It was so
exactly what the appearance of a man of vigor and
power and high position should be. Tetlow practiced
it by the quarter hour before his glass at home--not
without progress in the direction of a not unimpressive
manner of his own.
As Tetlow stood at attention, Norman turned and
advanced toward him. "Mr. Tetlow," he began, in his
good-humored voice with the never wholly submerged
under-note of sharpness, "is it your habit to go out to
lunch with the young ladies employed here? If so, I
wish to suggest--simply to suggest--that it may be
bad for discipline."
Tetlow's jaw dropped a little. He looked at
Norman, was astonished to discover beneath a thin veneer of
calm signs of greater agitation than he had ever seen in
him. "To-day was the first time, sir," he said. "And
I can't quite account for my doing it. Miss Hallowell
has been here several months. I never specially noticed
her until the last few days--when the question of
discharging her came up. You may remember it was
settled by you."
Norman flung his cigarette away and stalked to the
"Mr. Norman," pursued Tetlow, "you and I have
been together many years. I esteem it my greatest
honor that I am able--that you permit me--to class
you as my friend. So I'm going to give you a confidence--
one that really startles me. I called on Miss
Hallowell last night."
Norman's back stiffened.
"She is even more charming in her own home.
And--" Tetlow blushed and trembled--"I am going
to make her my wife if I can."
Norman turned, a mocking satirical smile unpleasantly
sparkling in his eyes and curling his mouth
"Old man," he said, "I think you've gone crazy."
Tetlow made a helpless gesture. "I think so
myself. I didn't intend to marry for ten years--and then
--I had quite a different match in mind."
"What's the matter with you, Billy?" inquired
Norman, inspecting him with smiling, cruelly unfriendly
"I'm damned if I know, Norman," said the head
clerk, assuming that his friend was sympathetic and
dropping into the informality of the old days when they
were clerks together in a small firm. "I'd have
proposed to her last night if I hadn't been afraid I'd lose
her by being in such a hurry. . . . You're in love yourself."
Norman startled violently.
"You're going to get married. Probably you can
sympathize. You know how it is to meet the woman
you want and must have."
Norman turned away.
"I've had--or thought I had--rather advanced
ideas on the subject of women. I've always had a horror
of being married for a living or for a home or as
an experiment or a springboard. My notion's been
that I wouldn't trust a woman who wasn't independent.
And theoretically I still think that's sound. But it
doesn't work out in practice. A man has to have been
in love to be able to speak the last word on the sex question."
Norman dropped heavily into his desk chair and
rumpled his hair into disorder. He muttered something
--the head clerk thought it was an oath.
"I'd marry her," Tetlow went on, "if I knew she
was simply using me in the coldest, most calculating
way. My only fear is that I shan't be able to get her
--that she won't marry me."
Norman sneered. "That's not likely," he said.
"No, it isn't," admitted Tetlow. "They--the
Hallowells--are nice people--of as good family as there
is. But they're poor--very poor. There's only her
father and herself. The old man is a scientist--spends
most of his time at things that won't pay a cent--utterly
impractical. A gentleman--an able man, if a
little cracked--at least he seemed so to me who don't
know much about scientific matters. But getting poorer
steadily. So I think she will accept me."
A gloomy, angry frown, like a black shadow, passed
across Norman's face and disappeared. "You'd marry
her--on those terms?" he sneered.
"Of course I HOPE for better terms----"
Norman sprang up, strode to the window and turned
his back.
"But I'm prepared for the worst. The fact is, she
treats me as if she didn't care a rap for the honor of
my showing her attention."
"A trick, Billy. An old trick."
"Maybe so. But-- I really believe she doesn't
realize. She's queer--has been queerly brought up. Yes,
I think she doesn't appreciate. Then, too, she's young
and light--almost childish in some ways. . . . I don't
blame you for being disgusted with me, Fred. But--
damn it, what's a man to do?"
"Cure himself!" exploded Norman, wheeling
violently on his friend. "You must act like a man. Billy,
such a marriage is ruin for you. How can we take you
into partnership next year? When you marry, you
must marry in the class you're moving toward, not in
any of those you're leaving behind."
"Do you suppose I haven't thought of all that?"
rejoined Tetlow bitterly. "But I can't help myself.
It's useless for me to say I'll try. I shan't try."
"Don't you want to get over this?" demanded
Norman fiercely.
"Of course-- No--I don't. Fred, you'd think
better of me if you knew her. You've never especially
noticed her. She's beautiful."
Norman dropped to his chair again.
"Really--beautiful," protested Tetlow, assuming
that the gesture was one of disgusted denial. "Take
a good look at her, Norman, before you condemn her.
I never was so astonished as when I discovered how
good-looking she is. I don't quite know how it is, but I
suppose nobody ever happened to see how--how lovely
she is until I just chanced to see it." At a rudely
abrupt gesture from Norman he hurried on, eagerly
apologetic, "And if you talk with her-- She's very
reserved. But she's the lady through and through--
and has a good mind. . . . At least, I think she has.
I'll admit a man in love is a poor judge of a woman's
mind. But, anyhow, I KNOW she's lovely to look at.
You'll see it yourself, now that I've called your attention
to it. You can't fail to see it."
Norman threw himself back in his chair and clasped
his hands behind his head. "WHY do you want to
marry her?" he inquired, in a tone his sensitive ear
approved as judicial.
"How can I tell?" replied the head clerk irritably.
"Does a man ever know?"
"Always--when he's sensibly in love."
"But when he's just in love? That's what ails
me," retorted Tetlow, with a sheepish look and laugh.
"Billy, you've got to get over this. I can't let
you make a fool of yourself."
Tetlow's fat, smooth, pasty face of the overfed,
underexercised professional man became a curious
exhibit of alarm and obstinacy.
"You've got to promise me you'll keep away from
her--except at the office--for say, a week. Then--
we'll see."
Tetlow debated.
"It's highly improbable that anyone else will
discover these irresistible charms. There's no one else
hanging round?"
"No one, as I told you the other day, when you
questioned me about her."
Norman shifted, looked embarrassed.
"I hope I didn't give you the impression I was
ashamed of loving her or would ever be ashamed of
her anywhere?" continued Tetlow, a very loverlike light
in his usually unromantic eyes. "If I did, it wasn't
what I meant--far from it. You'll see, when I marry
her, Norman. You'll be congratulating me."
Norman sprang up again. "This is plain lunacy,
Tetlow. I am amazed at you--amazed!"
"Get acquainted with her, Mr. Norman," pleaded
the subordinate. "Do it, to oblige me. Don't
condemn us----"
"I wish to hear nothing more!" cried Norman
violently. "Another thing. You must find her a place
in some other office--at once."
"You're right, sir," assented Tetlow. "I can
readily do that."
Norman scowled at him, made an imperious gesture
of dismissal. Tetlow, chopfallen but obdurate, got
himself speedily out of sight.
Norman, with hands deep in his pockets, stared out
among the skyscrapers and gave way to a fit of remorse.
It was foreign to his nature to do petty underhanded
tricks. Grand strategy--yes. At that he was an adept,
and not the shiftiest, craftiest schemes he had ever
devised had given him a moment's uneasiness. But to be
driving a ten-dollar-a-week typewriter out of her job
--to be maneuvering to deprive her of a for her brilliant
marriage--to be lying to an old and loyal retainer who
had helped Norman full as much and as often as Norman
had helped him--these sneaking bits of skullduggery
made him feel that he had sunk indeed. But he ground
his teeth together and his eyes gleamed wickedly. "He
shan't have her, damn him!" he muttered. "She's not
for him."
He summoned Tetlow, who was obviously low in
mind as the result of revolving the things that had been
said to him. "Billy," he began in a tone so amiable
that he was ashamed for himself, "you'll not forget I
have your promise?"
"What did I promise?" cried Tetlow, his voice
shrill with alarm.
"Not to see her, except at the office, for a week."
"But I've promised her father I'd call this evening.
He's going to show me some experiments."
"You can easily make an excuse--business."
"But I don't want to," protested the head clerk.
"What's the use? I've got my mind made up. Norman,
I'd hang on after her if you fired me out of this
office for it. And I can't rest--I'm fit for nothing--
until this matter's settled. I came very near taking
her aside and proposing to her, just after I went out
of here a while ago."
"You DAMN fool!" cried Norman, losing all control
of himself. "Take the afternoon express for Albany
instead of Harcott and attend to those registrations
and arrange for those hearings. I'll do my best to
save you. I'll bring the girl in here and keep her at
work until you get out of the way."
Tetlow glanced at his friend; then the tears came
into his eyes. "You're a hell of a friend!" he
ejaculated. "And I thought you'd sympathize because you
were in love."
"I do sympathize, Billy," Norman replied with an
abrupt change to shamefaced apology. "I sympathize
more than you know. I feel like a dog, doing this.
But it can't result in any harm, and I want you to get
a little fresh air in that hot brain of yours before you
commit yourself. Be reasonable, old man. Suppose
you rushed ahead and proposed--and she accepted--and
then, after a few days, you came to. What about her?
You must act on the level, Tetlow. Do the fair thing
by yourself and by her."
Norman had often had occasion to feel proud of the
ingenuity and resourcefulness of his brain. He had
never been quite so proud as he was when he finished
that speech. It pacified Tetlow; it lightened his own
sense of guilt; it gave him a respite.
Tetlow rewarded Norman with the look that in New
York is the equivalent of the handclasp friend seeks
from friend in times of stress. "You're right, Fred.
I'm much obliged to you. I haven't been considering
HER side of it enough. A man ought always to think
of that. The women--poor things--have a hard enough
time to get on, at best."
Norman's smile was characteristically cynical.
Sentimentality amused him. "I doubt if there are more
female wrecks than male wrecks scattered about the
earth," rejoined he. "And I suspect the fact isn't
due to the gentleness of man with woman, either. Don't
fret for the ladies, Tetlow. They know how to take
care of themselves. They know how to milk with a sure
and a steady hand. You may find it out by depressing
experience some day."
Tetlow saw the aim. His obstinate, wretched
expression came back. "I don't care. I've got----"
"You went over that ground," interrupted Norman
impatiently. "You'd better be catching the train."
As Tetlow withdrew, he rang for an office boy and
sent him to summon Miss Hallowell.
Norman had been reasoning with himself--with the
aid of the self that was both better and more worldly
wise. He felt that his wrestlings had not been wholly
futile. He believed he had got the strength to face the
girl with a respectful mind, with a mind resolute in
duty--if not love--toward Josephine Burroughs. "I
LOVE Josephine," he said to himself. "My feeling for
this girl is some sort of physical attraction. I certainly
shall be able to control it enough to keep it within
myself. And soon it will die out. No doubt I've felt
much the same thing as strongly before. But it didn't
take hold because I was never bound before--never had
the sense of the necessity for restraint. That sense is
always highly dangerous for my sort of man."
This sounded well. He eyed the entering girl coldly,
said in a voice that struck him as excellent indifference,
"Bring your machine in here, Miss Hallowell, and recopy
these papers. I've made some changes. If you
spoil any sheets, don't throw them away, but return
everything to me."
"I'm always careful about the waste-paper baskets,"
said she, "since they warned me that there are men
who make a living searching the waste thrown out of
He made no reply. He could not have spoken if
he had tried. Once more the spell had seized him--the
spell of her weird fascination for him. As she sat
typewriting, with her back almost toward him, he sat watching
her and analyzing his own folly. He knew that
diagnosing a disease does not cure it; but he found an
acute pleasure in lingering upon all the details of the
effect she had upon his nerves. He did not dare move
from his desk, from the position that put a huge table
and a revolving case of reference books between them.
He believed that if he went nearer he would be unable
to resist seizing her in his arms and pouring out the
passion that was playing along his nerves as the delicate,
intense flame flits back and forth along the surface of
burning alcohol.
A knock at the door. He plunged into his papers.
"Come!" he called.
Tetlow thrust in his head. Miss Hallowell did not
look up. "I'm off," the head clerk said. His gaze
was upon the unconscious girl--a gaze that filled Norman
with longing to strangle him.
"Telegraph me from Albany as soon as you get
there," said Norman. "Telegraph me at my club."
Tetlow was gone. The machine tapped monotonously
on. The barette which held the girl's hair at
the back was so high that the full beauty of the nape
of her neck was revealed. That wonderful white skin
with the golden tint! How soft--yet how firm--her
flesh looked! How slender yet how strong was her
"How do you like Tetlow?" he asked, because
speak to her he must.
She glanced up, turned in her chair. He quivered
before the gaze from those enchanting eyes of hers. "I
beg pardon," she said. "I didn't hear."
"Tetlow--how do you like him?"
"He is very kind to me--to everyone."
"How did your father like him?"
He confidently expected some sign of confusion, but
there was no sign. "Father was delighted with him,"
she said merrily. "He took an interest in the work
father's doing--and that was enough."
She was about to turn back to her task. He
hastened to ask another question. "Couldn't I meet your
father some time? What Tetlow told me interested
me greatly."
"Father would be awfully pleased," replied she.
"But--unless you really care about--biology, I don't
think you'd like coming."
"I'm interested in everything interesting," replied
Norman dizzily. What was he saying? What was he
doing? What folly was his madness plunging him into?
"You can come with Mr. Tetlow when he gets back."
"I'd prefer to talk with him alone," said Norman.
"Perhaps I might see some way to be of service to
Her expression was vividly different from what it
had been when he offered to help HER. She became radiant
with happiness. "I do hope you'll come," she said
--her voice very low and sweet, in the effort she was
making to restrain yet express her feelings.
"When? This evening?"
"He's always at home."
"You'll be there?"
"I'm always there, too. We have no friends. It's
not easy to make acquaintances in the East--congenial
"I'd want you to be there," he explained with great
care, "because you could help him and me in getting
"Oh, he'll talk freely--to anyone. He talks only
the one subject. He never thinks of anything else."
She was resting her crossed arms on the back of her
chair and, with her chin upon them, was looking at him
--a childlike pose and a childlike expression. He said:
"You are SURE you are twenty?"
She smiled gayly. "Nearly twenty-one."
"Old enough to be in love."
She lifted her head and laughed. She had charming
white teeth--small and sharp and with enough irregularity
to carry out her general suggestion of variability.
"Yes, I shall like that, when it comes," she said;
"But the chances are against it just now."
"There's Tetlow."
She was much amused. "Oh, he's far too old and
Norman felt depressed. "Why, he's only thirty-five."
"But I'm not twenty-one," she reminded him. "I'd
want some one of my own age. I'm tired of being so
solemn. If I had love, I'd expect it to change all that."
Evidently a forlorn and foolish person--and doubtless
thinking of him, two years the senior of Tetlow
and far more serious, as an elderly person, in the same
class with her father. "But you like biology?" he said.
The way to a cure was to make her talk on.
"I don't know anything about it," said she, looking
as frivolous as a butterfly or a breeze-bobbed blossom.
"I listen to father, but it's all beyond me."
Yes--a light-weight. They could have nothing in
common. She was a mere surface--a thrillingly beautiful
surface, but not a full-fledged woman. So little did
conversation with him interest her, she had taken
advantage of the short pause to resume her work. No,
she had not the faintest interest in him. It wasn't a
trick of coquetry; it was genuine. He whom women had
always bowed before was unable to arouse in her a spark
of interest. She cared neither for what he had nor
for what he was, in himself. This offended and wounded
him. He struggled sulkily with his papers for half an
hour. Then he fell to watching her again and----
"You must not neglect to give me your address,"
he said. "Write it on a slip of paper after you finish.
I might forget it."
"Very well," she replied, but did not turn round.
"Why, do you think, did Tetlow come to see you?"
he asked. He felt cheapened in his own eyes--he, the
great man, the arrived man, the fiance of Josephine
Burroughs, engaged in this halting and sneaking flirtation!
But he could not restrain himself.
She turned to answer. "Mr. Tetlow works very
hard and has few friends. He had heard of my father
and wanted to meet him--just like you."
"Naturally," murmured Norman, in confusion. "I
thought--perhaps--he was interested in YOU."
She laughed outright--and he had an entrancing
view of the clean rosy interior of her mouth. "In ME?
--Mr. Tetlow? Why, he's too serious and important
for a girl like me."
"Then he bored you?"
"Oh, no. I like him. He is a good man--
thoroughly good."
This pleased Norman immensely. It may be fine to
be good, but to be called good--that is somehow a
different matter. It removes a man at once from the
jealousy-provoking class. "Good exactly describes him,"
said Norman. "He wouldn't harm a fly. In love he'd
be ridiculous."
"Not with a woman of his own age and kind,"
protested she. "But I'm neglecting my work."
And she returned to it with a resolute manner that
made him ashamed to interrupt again--especially after
the unconscious savage rebukes she had administered.
He sat there fighting against the impulse to watch her
--denouncing himself--appealing to pride, to shame, to
prudence--to his love for Josephine--to the sense of
decency that restrains a hunter from aiming at a harmless
tame song bird. But all in vain. He concentrated
upon her at last, stared miserably at her, filled with
longing and dread and shame--and longing, and yet
more longing.
When she finished and stood at the other side of
the desk, waiting for him to pass upon her work, she
must have thought he was in a profound abstraction.
He did not speak, made a slight motion with his hand
to indicate that she was to go. Shut in alone, he
buried his face in his arms. "What madness!" he
groaned. "If I loved her, there'd be some excuse for
me. But I don't. I couldn't. Yet I seem ready to
ruin everything, merely to gratify a selfish whim--an
insane whim."
On top of the papers she had left he saw a separate
slip. He drew it toward him, spread it out before him.
Her address. An unknown street in Jersey City!
"I'll not go," he said aloud, pushing the slip away.
Go? Certainly not. He had never really meant to go.
He would, of course, keep his engagement with Josephine.
"And I'll not come down town until she has taken
another job and has caught Tetlow. I'll stop this idiocy
of trying to make an impression on a person not worth
impressing. What weak vanity--to be piqued by this
girl's lack of interest!"
Nevertheless--he at six o'clock telephoned to the
Burroughs' house that he was detained down town. He
sent away his motor, dined alone in the station restaurant
in Jersey City. And at half past seven he set out
in a cab in search of--what? He did not dare answer
that interrogation.
LIFE many another chance explorer from New York,
Norman was surprised to discover that, within a few
minutes of leaving the railway station, his cab was
moving through a not unattractive city. He expected to
find the Hallowells in a tenement in some more or less
squalid street overhung with railway smoke and bedaubed
with railway grime. He was delighted when the
driver assured him that there was no mistake, that the
comfortable little cottage across the width of the
sidewalk and a small front yard was the sought-for
"Wait, please," he said to the cabman. "Or, if you
like, you can go to that corner saloon down there. I'll
know where to find you." And he gave him half a
The cabman hesitated between two theories of this
conduct--whether it was the generosity it seemed or
was a ruse to "side step" payment. He--or his thirst
--decided for the decency of human nature; he drove
confidingly away. Norman went up the tiny stoop and
rang. The sound of a piano, in the room on the ground
floor where there was light, abruptly ceased. The door
opened and Miss Hallowell stood before him. She was
throughout a different person from the girl of the office.
She had changed to a tight-fitting pale-blue linen dress
made all in one piece. Norman could now have not an
instant's doubt about the genuineness, the bewitching
actuality, of her beauty. The wonder was how she
could contrive to conceal so much of it for the purposes
of business. It was a peculiar kind of beauty--not the
radiant kind, but that which shines with a soft glow
and gives him who sees it the delightful sense of being
its original and sole discoverer. An artistic eye--or an
eye that discriminates in and responds to feminine
loveliness--would have been captivated, as it searched in
vain for flaw.
If Norman anticipated that she would be nervous
before the task of receiving in her humbleness so
distinguished a visitor, he must have been straightway
disappointed. Whether from a natural lack of that
sense of social differences which is developed to the most
pitiful snobbishness in New York or from her youth and
inexperience, she received him as if he had been one of
the neighbors dropping in after supper. And it was
Norman who was ill at ease. Nothing is more
disconcerting to a man accustomed to be received with
due respect to his importance than to find himself put
upon the common human level and compelled to "make
good" all over again from the beginning. He felt--
he knew--that he was an humble candidate for her
favor--a candidate with the chances perhaps against
The tiny parlor had little in it beside the upright
piano because there was no space. But the paper, the
carpet and curtains, the few pieces of furniture, showed
no evidence of bad taste, of painful failure at the effort
to "make a front." He was in the home of poor people,
but they were obviously people who made a highly
satisfactory best of their poverty. And in the midst of it
all the girl shone like the one evening star in the mystic
opalescence of twilight.
"We weren't sure you were coming," said she. "I'll
call father. . . . No, I'll take you back to his workshop.
He's easier to get acquainted with there."
"Won't you play something for me first? Or--
perhaps you sing? "
"A very little," she admitted. "Not worth hearing."
"I'm sure I'd like it. I want to get used to my
surroundings before I tackle the--the biology."
Without either hesitation or shyness, she seated herself
at the piano. "I'll sing the song I've just learned."
And she began. Norman moved to the chair that gave
him a view of her in profile. For the next five minutes
he was witness to one of those rare, altogether charming
visions that linger in the memory in freshness and
fragrance until memory itself fades away. She sat
very straight at the piano, and the position brought
out all the long lines of her figure--the long, round
white neck and throat, the long back and bosom, the
long arms and legs--a series of lovely curves. It has
been scientifically demonstrated that pale blue is preeminently
the sex color. It certainly was pre-eminently
HER color, setting off each and every one of her charms
and suggesting the roundness and softness and whiteness
her drapery concealed. She was one of those rare
beings whose every pose is instinct with grace. And
her voice-- It was small, rather high, at times almost
shrill. But in every note of its register there sounded
a mysterious, melancholy-sweet call to the responding
nerves of man.
Before she got halfway through the song Norman
was fighting against the same mad impulse that had all
but overwhelmed him as he watched her in the afternoon.
And when her last note rose, swelled, slowly
faded into silence, it seemed to him that had she kept
on for one note more he would have disclosed to her
amazed eyes the insanity raging within him.
She turned on the piano stool, her hands dropped
listlessly in her lap. "Aren't those words beautiful?"
she said in a dreamy voice. She was not looking at
him. Evidently she was hardly aware of his presence.
He had not heard a word. He was in no mood for
mere words. "I've never liked anything so well," he
said. And he lowered his eyes that she might not see
what they must be revealing.
She rose. He made a gesture of protest. "Won't
you sing another?" he asked.
"Not after that," she said. "It's the best I know.
It has put me out of the mood for the ordinary songs."
"You are a dreamer--aren't you?"
"That's my real life," replied she. "I go through
the other part just to get to the dreams."
"What do you dream?"
She laughed carelessly. "Oh, you'd not be
interested. It would seem foolish to you."
"You're mistaken there," cried he. "The only
thing that ever has interested me in life is dreams--
and making them come true."
"But not MY kind of dreams. The only kind I like
are the ones that couldn't possibly come true."
"There isn't any dream that can't be made to come
She looked at him eagerly. "You think so?"
"The wildest ones are often the easiest." He had
a moving voice himself, and it had been known to affect
listening ears hypnotically when he was deeply in earnest,
was possessed by one of those desires that conquer
men of will and then make them irresistible instruments.
"What is your dream?--happiness? . . . love?"
She gazed past him with swimming eyes, with a
glance that seemed like a brave bright bird exploring
infinity. "Yes," she said under her breath. "But it
could never--never come true. It's too perfect."
"Don't doubt," he said, in a tone that fitted her
mood as the rhythm of the cradle fits the gentle breathing
of the sleeping child. "Don't ever doubt. And the
dream will come true."
"You have been in love?" she said, under the spell
of his look and tone.
He nodded slowly. "I am," he replied, and he was
under the spell of her beauty.
"Is it--wonderful?"
"Like nothing else on earth. Everything else seems
--poor and cheap--beside it."
He drew a step nearer. "But you couldn't love--
not yet," he said. "You haven't had the experience.
You will have to learn."
"You don't know me," she cried. "I have been
teaching myself ever since I was a little girl. I've
thought of nothing else most of the time. Oh--" she
clasped her white hands against her small bosom--"if
I ever have the chance, how much I shall give!"
"I know it! I know it!" he replied. "You will
make some man happier than ever man was before."
His infatuation did not blind him to the fact that she
cared nothing about him, looked on him in the most
unpersonal way. But that knowledge seemed only to
inflame him the more, to lash him on to the folly of an
ill-timed declaration. "I have felt how much you will
give--how much you will love--I've felt it from the
second time I saw you--perhaps from the first. I've
never seen any woman who interested me as you do--
who drew me as you do--against my ambition--against
my will. I--I----"
He had been fighting against the words that would
come in spite of him. He halted now because the food
of emotion suffocated speech. He stood before her,
ghastly pale and trembling. She did not draw back.
She seemed compelled by his will, by the force of his
passion, to stay where she was. But in her eyes was a
fascinated terror--a fear of him--of the passion that
dominated him, a passion like the devils that made men
gash themselves and leap from precipices into the sea.
To unaccustomed eyes the first sight of passion is
always terrifying and is usually repellent. One must
learn to adventure the big wave, the great hissing,
towering billow that conceals behind its menace the wild
rapture of infinite longing realized.
"I have frightened you?" he said.
"Yes," was her whispered reply.
"But it is your dream come true."
She shrank back--not in aversion, but gently. "No
--it isn't my dream," she replied.
"You don't realize it yet, but you will."
She shook her head positively. "I couldn't ever
think of you in that way."
He did not need to ask why. She had already
explained when they were talking of Tetlow. There was
a finality in her tone that filled him with despair. It
was his turn to look at her in terror. What power
this slim delicate girl had over him! What a price
she could exact if she but knew! Knew? Why, he had
told her--was telling her in look and tone and gesture
--was giving himself frankly into captivity--was prostrate,
inviting her to trample. His only hope of escape
lay in her inexperience--that she would not realize. In
the insanities of passion, as in some other forms of
dementia, there is always left a streak of reason--of
that craft which leads us to try to get what we want
as cheaply as possible. Men, all but beside themselves
with love, will bargain over the terms, if they be of the
bargaining kind by nature. Norman was not a haggler.
But common prudence was telling him how unwise his
conduct was, how he was inviting the defeat of his own
He waved his hand impatiently. "We'll see, my
dear," he said with a light good-humored laugh. "I
mustn't forget that I came to see your father."
She looked at him doubtfully. She did not understand--
did not quite like--this abrupt change of mood.
It suggested to her simplicity a lack of seriousness, of
sincerity. "Do you really wish to see my father?"
she inquired.
"Why else should I come away over to Jersey
City? Couldn't I have talked with you at the office?"
This seemed convincing. She continued to study his
face for light upon the real character of this strange
new sort of man. He regarded her with a friendly
humorous twinkle in his eyes. "Then I'll take you to
him," she said at length. She was by no means satisfied,
but she could not discover why she was dissatisfied.
"I can't possibly do you any harm," he urged, with
"No, I think not," replied she gravely. "But
you mustn't say those things!"
"Why not?" Into his eyes came their strongest,
most penetrating look. "I want you. And I don't
intend to give you up. It isn't my habit to give up.
So, sooner or later I get what I go after."
"You make me--afraid," she said nervously.
"Of what?" laughed he. "Not of me, certainly.
Then it must be of yourself. You are afraid you will
end by wanting me to want you."
"No--not that," declared she, confused by his quick
cleverness of speech. "I don't know what I'm afraid
"Then let's go to your father. . . . You'll not tell
Tetlow what I've said?"
"No." And once more her simple negation gave
him a sense of her absolute truthfulness.
"Or that I've been here?"
She looked astonished. "Why not?"
"Oh--office reasons. It wouldn't do for the others
to know."
She reflected on this. "I don't understand," was
the result of her thinking. "But I'll do as you ask.
Only, you must not come again."
"Why not? If they knew at the office, they'd
simply talk--unpleasantly."
"Yes," she admitted hesitatingly after reflecting.
"So you mustn't come again. I don't like some kinds
of secrets."
"But your father will know," he urged. "Isn't
that enough for--for propriety?"
"I can't explain. I don't understand, myself. I
do a lot of things by instinct." She, standing with her
hands behind her back and with clear, childlike eyes
gravely upon him, looked puzzled but resolved. "And
my instinct tells me not to do anything secret about
This answer made him wonder whether after all he
might not be too positive in his derisive disbelief in
women's instincts. He laughed. "Well--now for your
The workshop proved to be an annex to the rear,
reached by a passage leading past a cosy little dining
room and a kitchen where the order and the shine of
cleanness were notable even to masculine eyes. "You
are well taken care of," he said to her--she was preceding
him to show the way.
"We take care of ourselves," replied she. "I get
breakfast before I leave and supper after I come home.
Father has a cold lunch in the middle of the day, when
he eats at all--which isn't often. And on Saturday
afternoons and Sundays I do the heavy work."
"You ARE a busy lady!"
"Oh, not so very busy. Father is a crank about
system and order. He has taught me to plan everything
and work by the plans."
For the first time Norman had a glimmer of real
interest in meeting her father. For in those remarks
of hers he recognized at once the rare superior man--
the man who works by plan, where the masses of mankind
either drift helplessly or are propelled by some
superior force behind them without which they would
be, not the civilized beings they seem, but even as the
savage in the dugout or as the beast of the field. The
girl opened a door; a bright light streamed into the
dim hallway.
"Father!" she called. "Here's Mr. Norman."
Norman saw, beyond the exquisite profile of the
girl's head and figure, a lean tallish old man, dark and
gray, whose expression proclaimed him at first glance
no more in touch with the affairs of active life in the
world than had he been an inhabitant of Mars.
Mr. Hallowell gave his caller a polite glance and
handshake--evidence of merest surface interest in him,
of amiable patience with an intruder. Norman saw in
the neatness of his clothing and linen further proof
of the girl's loving care. For no such abstracted
personality as this would ever bother about such things
for himself. These details, however, detained Norman
only for a moment. In the presence of Hallowell it
was impossible not to concentrate upon him.
As we grow older what we are inside, the kind of
thoughts we admit as our intimates, appears ever more
strongly in the countenance. This had often struck
Norman, observing the men of importance about him,
noting how as they aged the look of respectability, of
intellectual distinction, became a thinner and ever thinner
veneer over the selfishness and greediness, the vanity and
sensuality and falsehood. But never before had he been
so deeply impressed by its truth. Evidently Hallowell
during most of his fifty-five or sixty years had lived
the purely intellectual life. The result was a look of
spiritual beauty, the look of the soul living in the high
mountain, with serenity and vast views constantly before
it. Such a face fills with awe the ordinary follower
of the petty life of the world if he have the brains to
know or to suspect the ultimate truth about existence.
It filled Norman with awe. He hastily turned his eyes
upon the girl--and once more into his face came the
resolute, intense, white-hot expression of a man
doggedly set upon an earthy purpose.
There was an embarrassed silence. Then the girl
said, "Show him the worms, father."
Mr. Hallowell smiled. "My little girl thinks no one
has seen that sort of thing," said he. "I can't make
her believe it is one of the commonplaces."
"You've never had anyone here more ignorant than
I, sir," said Norman. "The only claim on your courtesy
I can make is that I'm interested and that I perhaps
know enough in a general way to appreciate."
Hallowell waved his hand toward a row of large
glass bottles on one of the many shelves built against
the rough walls of the room. "Here they are," said
he. "It's the familiar illustration of how life may be
"I don't understand," said Norman, eying the
bottled worms curiously.
"Oh, it's simply the demonstration that life is a
mere chemical process----"
Norman had ceased to listen. The girl was moving
toward the door by which they had entered--was in the
doorway--was gone! He stood in an attitude of
attention; Hallowell talked on and on, passing from one
thing to another, forgetting his caller and himself,
thinking only of the subject, the beloved science, that
has brought into the modern world a type of men like
those who haunted the deserts and mountain caves in
the days when Rome was falling to pieces. With those
saintly hermits of the Dark Ages religion was the allabsorbing
subject. And seeking their own salvation
was the goal upon which their ardent eyes were necessarily
bent. With these modern devotees, science--the
search for the truth about the world in which they live
--is their religion; and their goal is the redemption of
the world. They are resolved--step by step, each
worker contributing his mite of discovery--to transform
the world from a hell of discomfort and pain and death
to a heaven where men and women, free and enlightened
and perhaps immortal, shall live in happiness.
They even dream that perhaps this race of gods shall
learn to construct the means to take them to another
and younger planet, when this Earth has become too
old and too cold and too nakedly clad in atmosphere
properly to sustain life.
From time to time Norman caught a few words of
what Hallowell said--words that made him respect the
intelligence that had uttered them. But he neither
cared nor dared to listen. He refused to be deflected
from his one purpose. When he was as old as Hallowell,
it would be time to think of these matters. When
he had snatched the things he needed, it would be time
to take the generous, wide, philosopher view of life.
But not yet. He was still young; he could--and he
would!--drink of the sparkling heady life of the senses,
typefied now for him in this girl. How her loveliness
flamed in his blood--flamed as fiercely when he could
not see the actual, tangible charms as when they were
radiating their fire into his eyes and through his skin!
First he must live that glorious life of youth, of nerves
aquiver with ecstasy. Also, he must shut out the things
of the intellect--must live in brain as well as in body
the animal life--in brain the life of cunning and
strategy. For the intellectual life would make it
impossible to pursue such ignoble things. First, material
success and material happiness. Then, in its own time,
this intellectual life to which such men as Hallowell ever
beckon, from their heights, such men as Norman, deep
in the wallow that seems to them unworthy of them, even
as they roll in it.
As soon as there came a convenient pause in Hallowell's
talk, Norman said, "And you devote your whole
life to these things?"
Hallowell's countenance lost its fine glow of enthusiasm.
"I have to make a living. I do chemical analyses
for doctors and druggists. That takes most of my
"But you can dispatch those things quickly."
Hallowell shook his head. "There's only one way
to do things. My clients trust me. I can't shirk."
Norman smiled. He admired this simplicity. But
it amused him, too; in a world of shirking and shuffling,
not to speak of downright dishonesty, it struck the
humorous note of the incongruous. He said:
"But if you could give all your time you would
get on faster."
"Yes--if I had the time--AND the money. To make
the search exhaustive would take money--five or six
thousand a year, at the least. A great deal more than
I shall ever have."
"Have you tried to interest capitalists?"
Hallowell smiled ironically. "There is much talk
about capitalists and capital opening up things. But
I have yet to learn of an instance of their touching
anything until they were absolutely sure of large profits.
Their failed enterprises are not miscarriage of noble
purpose but mistaken judgment, judgment blinded by
hope and greed."
"I see that a philosopher can know life without
living it," said Norman. "But couldn't you put your
scheme in such a way that some capitalist would be led
to hope?"
"I'd have to tell them the truth. Possibly I might
discover something with commercial value, but I couldn't
promise. I don't think it is likely."
Norman's eyes were on the door. His thoughts
were reaching out to the distant and faint sound of a
piano. "Just what do you propose to search for?"
inquired he.
He tried to listen, because it was necessary that he
have some knowledge of Hallowell's plans. But he
could not fix his attention. After a few moments he
glanced at his watch, interrupted with, "I think I
understand enough for the present. I've stayed longer
than I intended. I must go now. When I come again
I may perhaps have some plan to propose."
"Plan?" exclaimed Hallowell, his eyes lighting up.
"I'm not sure--not at all sure," hastily added
Norman. "I don't wish to give you false hopes. The
matter is extremely difficult. But I'll try. I've small
hope of success, but I'll try."
"My daughter didn't explain to me," said the
scientist. "She simply said one of the gentlemen for
whom she worked was coming to look at my place. I
thought it was mere curiosity."
"So it was, Mr. Hallowell," said Norman. "But
I have been interested. I don't as yet see what can be
done. I'm only saying that I'll think it over."
"I understand," said Hallowell. He was trying
to seem calm and indifferent. But his voice had the
tremulous note of excitement in it and his hands fumbled
nervously, touching evidence of the agitated gropings
of his mind in the faint, perhaps illusory, light of a newsprung
hope. "Yes, I understand perfectly. Still--
it is pleasant to think about such a thing, even if there's
no chance of it. I am very fond of dreaming. That
has been my life, you know."
Norman colored, moved uneasily. The fineness of
this man's character made him uncomfortable. He could
pity Hallowell as a misguided failure. He could dilate
himself as prosperous, successful, much the more
imposing and important figure in the contrast. Yet there
was somehow a point of view at which, if one looked
carefully, his own sort of man shriveled and the Hallowell
sort towered.
"I MUST be going," Norman said. "No--don't
come with me. I know the way. I've interrupted you
long enough." And he put out his hand and, by those
little clevernesses of manner which he understood so
well, made it impossible for Hallowell to go with him
to Dorothy.
He was glad when he shut the door between him and
her father. He paused in the hall to dispel the vague,
self-debasing discomfort--and listening to HER voice as
she sang helped wonderfully. There is no more trying
test of a personality than to be estimated by the voice
alone. That test produces many strange and startling
results. Again and again it completely reverses our
judgment of the personality, either destroys or
enhances its charm. The voice of this girl, floating out
upon the quiet of the cottage--the voice, soft and sweet,
full of the virginal passion of dreams unmarred by
experience-- It was while listening to her voice, as he
stood there in the dimly lighted hall, that Frederick
Norman passed under the spell in all its potency. In
taking an anaesthetic there is the stage when we reach
out for its soothing effects; then comes the stage when
we half desire, half fear; then a stage in which fear is
dominant, and we struggle to retain our control of the
senses. Last comes the stage when we feel the full
power of the drug and relax and yield or are beaten
down into quiet. Her voice drew him into the final
stage, was the blow of the overwhelming wave's crest
that crushed him into submission.
She glanced toward the door. He was leaning
there, an ominous calm in his pale, resolute face. She
gazed at him with widening eyes. And her look was
the look of helplessness before a force that may, indeed
must, be struggled against, but with the foregone
certainty of defeat.
A gleam of triumph shone in his eyes. Then his
expression changed to one more conventional. "I
stopped a moment to listen, on my way out," said he.
Her expression changed also. The instinctive,
probably unconscious response to his look faded into the
sweet smile, serious rather than merry, that was her
habitual greeting. "Mr. Tetlow didn't get away from
father so soon."
"I stayed longer than I intended. I found it even
more interesting than I had expected. . . . Would you
be glad if your father could be free to do as he likes
and not be worried about anything?"
"That is one of my dreams."
"Well, it's certainly one that might come true. . . .
And you-- It's a shame that you should have to do so
much drudgery--both here and in New York."
"Oh, I don't mind about myself. It's all I'm fit
for. I haven't any talent--except for dreaming."
"And for making--SOME man's dreams come true."
Her gaze dropped. And as she hid herself she
looked once more almost as insignificant and colorless
as he had once believed her to be.
"What are you thinking about?"
She shook her head slowly without raising her eyes
or emerging from the deep recess of her reserve.
"You are a mystery to me. I can't decide whether
you are very innocent or very--concealing."
She glanced inquiringly at him. "I don't understand,"
she said.
He smiled. "No more do I. I've seen so much of
faking--in women as well as in men--that it's hard for
me to believe anyone is genuine."
"Do you think I am trying to deceive you? About
He made an impatient gesture--impatience with his
credulity where she was concerned. "No matter. I
want to make you happy--because I want you to make
me happy."
Her eyes became as grave as a wondering child's.
"You are laughing at me," she said.
"Why do you say that?"
"Because I could not make you happy."
"Why not?"
"What could a serious man like you find in me?"
His intense, burning gaze held hers. "Some time
I will tell you."
She shut herself within herself like a flower folding
away its beauty and leaving exposed only the
underside of its petals. It was impossible to say
whether she understood or was merely obeying an instinct.
He watched her a moment in silence. Then he said:
"I am mad about you--mad. You MUST understand.
I can think only of you. I am insane with jealousy
of you. I want you--I must have you."
He would have seized her in his arms, but the look
of sheer amazement she gave him protected her where
no protest or struggle would. "You?" she said. "Did
you really mean it? I thought you were just talking."
"Can't you see that I mean it?"
"Yes--you look as if you did. But I can't believe
it. I could never think of you in that way."
Once more that frank statement of indifference
infuriated him. He MUST compel her to feel--he must
give that indifference the lie--and at once! He caught
her in his arms. He rained kisses upon her pale face.
She made not the least resistance, but seemed dazed.
"I will teach you to love me," he cried, drunk now with
the wine of her lips, with the perfume of her exquisite
youth. "I will make you happy. We shall be mad
with happiness."
She gently freed herself. "I don't believe I could
ever think of you in that way."
"Yes, darling--you will. You can't help loving
where you are loved so utterly."
She gazed at him wonderingly--the puzzled wonder
of a child. "You--love--me?" she said slowly.
"Call it what you like. I am mad about you. I
have forgotten everything--pride--position--things
you can't imagine--and I care for nothing but you."
And again he was kissing her with the soft fury of
fire; and again she was submitting with the passive,
dazed expression that seemed to add to his passion. To
make her feel! To make her respond! He, whom so
many women had loved--women of position, of fame for
beauty, of social distinction or distinction as singers,
players--women of society and women of talent all
kinds of worth-while women--they had cared, had run
after him, had given freely all he had asked and more.
And this girl--nobody at all--she had nothing for him.
He held her away from him, cried angrily: "What
is the matter with you? What is the matter with me?"
"I don't understand," she said. "I wish you
wouldn't kiss me so much."
He released her, laughed satirically. "Oh--you are
playing a game. I might have known."
"I don't understand," said she. "A while ago you
said you loved me. Now you act as if you didn't like
me at all." And she smiled gayly at him, pouting her
lips a little. Once more her beauty was shining. It
made his nerves quiver to see the color in her pure
white skin where he had kissed her.
"I don't care whether it is a game or not," he
cried. And he was about to seize her again, when she
repulsed him. He crushed her resistance, held her
tight in his arms.
"You frighten me," she murmured. "You--hurt
He released her. "What do you want?" he cried.
"Don't you care at all?"
"Oh, yes. I like you--very much. I have from
the first time I saw you. But you seem older--and
more serious."
"Never mind about that. We are going to love
each other--and I am going to make you and your
father happy."
"If you make father happy I will do anything for
you. I don't want anything myself--but he is getting
old and sometimes his despair is terrible." There were
tears in her voice--tears and the most touching tenderness.
"He has some great secret that he wants to discover,
and he is afraid he will die without having had
the chance."
"You will love me if I make your father happy?"
He knew it was the question of a fool, but he so
longed to hear from her lips some word to give him
hope that he could not help asking it. She said:
"Love you as--as you seem to love me? Not that
same way. I don't feel that way toward you. But I
will love you in my own way."
He observed her with penetrating eyes. Was this
speech of hers innocence or calculation? He could get
no clue to the truth. He saw nothing but innocence;
the teaching of experience warned him to believe in
nothing but guile. He hid his doubt and chagrin behind
a mocking smile. "As you please," said he. "I
will do my part. Then--we'll see. . . . Do you care
about anyone else--in MY way of loving, I mean?"
It was again the question of an infatuated fool, and
put in an infatuated fool's way. For, if she were a "deep
one," how could he hope to get the truth? But her
answer reassured him. "No," she said--her simple,
direct negation that had a convincing power he had
never seen equaled.
"If I ever knew of another man's touching you,"
he said, "I'd feel like strangling him." He laughed
at himself. "Not that I should strangle him. That
sort of thing isn't done any more. But I'd do
something devilish."
"But I haven't promised not to kiss anyone else,"
she said. "Why should I? I don't love you."
He looked at her strangely. "But you're going to
love me," he said.
She shrank within herself again. She looked at him
with uneasy eyes. "You won't kiss me any more until
I tell you that I do love you?" she asked with the
gravity and pathos and helplessness of a child.
"Don't you want to learn to love me?--to learn to
She was silent--a silence that maddened him.
"Don't be afraid to speak," he said irritably.
"What are you thinking?"
"That I don't want you to kiss me--and that I do
want father to be happy."
Was this guile? Was it innocence? He put his
arms round her. "Look at me," he said.
She gazed at him frankly.
"You like me?"
"Why don't you want me to kiss you?"
"I don't know. It makes me--dislike you."
He released her. She laid her hand on his arm
eagerly. "Please--" she implored. "I don't mean
to hurt you. I wouldn't offend you for anything. Only
--when you ask me a question--mustn't I tell you the
"Always," he said, believing in her, in spite of the
warnings of cynical worldliness. "I don't know whether
you are sincere or not--as yet. So for the present
I'll give you the benefit of the doubt." He stood back
and looked at her from head to foot. "You are beautiful!--
perfect," he said in a low voice. He laughed.
"I'll resist the temptation to kiss you again. I must
go now. About your father--I'll see what can be done."
She stood with her hands behind her back, looking
up at him with an expression he could not fathom. Suddenly
she advanced, put up her lips and said gravely,
"Won't you kiss me?"
He eyed her quizzically. "Oh--you've changed
your mind? "
She shook her head.
"Then why do you ask me to kiss you? "
"Because of what you said about father."
He laughed and kissed her. And then she, too,
laughed. He said, "Not for my own sake--not a little
"Oh, yes," she cried, "when you kiss me that way.
I like to be kissed. I am very affectionate."
He laughed again. "You ARE a queer one. If it's
a game, it's a good one. Is it a game?"
"I don't know," said she gayly. "Good night.
This is dreadfully late for me."
"Good night," he said, and they shook hands. "Do
you like me better--or less?"
"Better," was her prompt, apparently honest reply.
"Curiously enough, I'm beginning to LIKE you,"
said he. "Now don't ask me what I mean by that.
If you don't know already, you'll not find out from me."
"Oh, but I do know," cried she. "The way you
kissed me--that was one thing. The way you feel
toward me now--that's a different thing. Isn't it so?"
"Exactly. I see we are going to get on."
"Yes, indeed."
They shook hands again in friendliest fashion, and
she opened the front door for him. And her farewell
smile was bright and happy.
IN the cold clear open he proceeded to take the
usual account of stock--with dismal results. She had
wound him round her fingers, had made him say only
the things he should not have said, and leave unsaid
the things that might have furthered his purposes. He
had conducted the affair ridiculously--"just what is
to be expected of an infatuated fool." However, there
was no consolation in the discovery that he was reduced,
after all these years of experience, to the common level
--man weak and credulous in his dealings with woman.
He hoped that his disgust with himself would lead on
to disgust, or, rather, distaste for her. It is the primal
instinct of vanity to dislike and to shun those who have
witnessed its humiliation.
"I believe I am coming to my senses," he said. And
he ventured to call her up before him for examination
and criticism. This as he stood upon the forward deck
of the ferry with the magnificent panorama of New
York before him. New York! And he, of its strong
men, of the few in all that multitude who had rank
and power--he who had won as his promised wife the
daughter of one of the dozen mighty ones of the nation!
What an ill-timed, what an absurd, what a crazy stepdown
this excursion of his! And for what? There he
summoned her before him. And at the first glance of his
fancy at her fair sweet face and lovely figure, he quailed.
He was hearing her voice again. He was feeling the
yield of her smooth, round form to his embrace, the
yield of her smooth white cheek to his caress. In his
nostrils was the fragrance of her youth, the matchless
perfume of nature, beyond any of the distillations of
art in its appeal to his normal and healthy nerves. And
he burned with the fire only she could quench. "I must
--I must.--My God, I MUST!" he muttered.
When he reached home, he asked whether his sister
was in. The butler said that Mrs. Fitzhugh had just
come from the theater. In search of her, he went to the
library, found her seated there with a book and a
cigarette, her wrap thrown back upon her chair.
"Come out to supper with me, Ursula," he said. "I'm
starved and bored."
"Why, you're not dressed!" exclaimed his sister.
"I thought you were at the Cameron dance with
"Had to cut it out," replied he curtly. "Will
you come?"
"I can't eat, but I'll drink. Yes, let's have a spree.
It's been years since we had one--not since we were
poor. Let's not go to a DEADLY respectable place. Let's
go where there are some of the other kind, too."
"But I must have food. Why not the Martin?"
"That'll do--though I'd prefer something a little
farther up Broadway."
"The Martin is gay enough. The truth is, there's
nothing really gay any more. There's too much money.
Money suffocates gayety."
To the Martin they went, and he ordered an enormous
supper--one of those incredible meals for which
he was famous. They dispatched a quart of champagne
before the supper began to come, he drinking at least
two thirds of it. He drank as much while he was eating
--and called for a third bottle when the coffee was
served. He had eaten half a dozen big oysters, a whole
guinea hen, a whole portion of salad, another of Boniface
cheese, with innumerable crackers.
"If I could eat as you do!" sighed Ursula
enviously. "Yet it's only one of your accomplishments."
"I'm not eating much nowadays," said he gloomily.
"I'm losing my appetite." And he lit a long black
cigar and swallowed half a large glass of the champagne.
"Nothing tastes good--not even champagne."
"There IS something wrong with you," said Ursula.
"Did you ask me out for confidences, or for advice--
or for both?"
"None of them," replied he. "Only for company.
I knew I'd not be able to sleep for hours, and I wanted
to put off the time when I'd be alone."
"I wish I had as much influence with you as you
have with me," said Ursula, by way of preparation for
"Influence? Don't I do whatever you say?"
She laughed. "Nobody has influence over you,"
she said.
"Not even myself," replied he morosely.
"Well--that talking-to you gave me has had its
effect," proceeded Mrs. Fitzhugh. "It set me to
thinking. There are other things besides love--man and
woman love. I've decided to--to behave myself and give
poor Clayton a chance to rest." She smiled, a little
maliciously. "He's had a horrible fright. But it's
over now. What a fine thing it is for a woman to have
a sensible brother!"
Norman grunted, took another liberal draught of
the champagne.
"If I had a mind like yours!" pursued Ursula.
"Now, you simply couldn't make a fool of yourself."
He looked at her sharply. He felt as if she had
somehow got wind of his eccentric doings.
"I've always resented your rather contemptuous
attitude toward women," she went on. "But you are
right--really you are. We're none of us worth the
excitement men make about us."
"It isn't the woman who makes a fool of the man,"
said Norman. "It's the man who makes a fool of himself.
A match can cause a terrific explosion if it's in the
right place--but not if it isn't."
She nodded. "That's it. We're simply matches--
and most of us of the poor sputtering kind that burns
with a bad odor and goes out right away. A very
inferior quality of matches."
"Yes," repeated Norman, "it's the man who does
the whole business."
A mocking smile curled her lips. "I knew you
weren't in love with Josephine."
He stared gloomily at his cigar.
"But you're going to marry her?"
"I'm in love with her," he said angrily. "And
I'm going to marry her."
She eyed him shrewdly. "Fred--are you in love
with some one else?"
He did not answer immediately. When he did it was
with a "No" that seemed the more emphatic for the
"Oh, just one of your little affairs." And she
began to poke fun at him. "I thought you had dropped
that sort of thing for good and all. I hope Josie
won't hear of it. She'd not understand. Women never
do--unless they don't care a rap about the man. . . .
Is she on the stage? I know you'll not tell me, but
I like to ask."
Her brother looked at her rather wildly. "Let's
go home," he said. He was astounded and alarmed by
the discovery that his infatuation had whirled him to
the lunacy of longing to confide--and he feared lest, if
he should stay on, he would blurt out his disgraceful
secret. "Waiter, the bill."
"Don't let's go yet," urged his sister. "The most
interesting people are beginning to come. Besides, I
want more champagne."
He yielded. While she gazed round with the air
of a visitor to a Zoo that is affected by fashionable
people, and commented on the faces, figures, and clothes
of the women, he stared at his plate and smoked and
drank. Finally she said, "I'd give anything to see you
make a fool of yourself, just once."
He grinned. "Things are in the way to having
your wish gratified," he said. "It looks to me as if
my time had come."
She tried to conceal her anxiety. "Are you
serious?" she asked. Then added: "Of course not. You
simply couldn't. Especially now--when Josephine
might hear. I suppose you've noticed how Joe Culver
is hanging round her?"
He nodded.
"There's no danger--unless----"
"I shall marry Josephine."
"Not if she hears."
"She's not going to hear."
"Don't be too sure. Women love to boast. It
tickles their vanity to have a man. Yes, they pretend
to be madly in love simply to give themselves the excuse
for tattling."
"She'll not hear."
"You can't be sure."
"I want you to help me out. I'm going to tell her
I'm tremendously busy these few next days--or weeks."
"Weeks!" Ursula Fitzhugh laughed. "My, it
must be serious!"
"Weeks," repeated her brother. "And I want you
to say things that'll help out--and to see a good deal
of her." He flung down his cigar. "You women don't
understand how it is with a man."
"Don't we though! Why, it's a very ordinary
occurrence for a woman to be really in love with several
men at once."
His eyes gleamed jealously. "I don't believe it,"
he cried.
"Not Josephine," she said reassuringly. "She's
one of those single-hearted, untemperamental women.
They concentrate. They have no imagination."
"I wasn't thinking of Josephine," said he sullenly.
"To go back to what I was saying, I am in love with
Josephine and with no one else. I can't explain to
you how or why I'm entangled. But I'll get myself
untangled all right--and very shortly."
"I know that, Fred. You aren't the permanentdamn-
fool sort."
"I should say not!" exclaimed he. "It's a hopeful
sign that I know exactly how big a fool I am."
She shook her head in strong dissent. "On the contrary,"
said she, "it's a bad sign. I didn't realize
I was making a fool of myself until you pointed it out
to me. That stopped me. If I had been doing it with
my eyes open, your jacking me up would only have
made me go ahead."
"A woman's different. It doesn't take much to stop
a woman. She's about half stopped when she begins."
Ursula was thoroughly alarmed. "Fred," she said
earnestly, "you're running bang into danger. The
time to stop is right now."
"Can't do it," he said. "Let's not talk about it."
"Can't? That word from YOU?"
"From me," replied he. "Don't forget helping out
with Josephine. Let's go."
And he refused to be persuaded to stay on--or to
be cajoled or baited into talking further of this secret
his sister saw was weighing heavily.
He was down town half an hour earlier than usual
the next morning. But no one noted it because his
habit had always been to arrive among the first--not
to set an example but to give his prodigious industry
the fullest swing. There was in Turkey a great poet
of whom it is said that he must have written twentyfive
hours a day. Norman's accomplishment bulked in
that same way before his associates. He had not slept
the whole night. But, thanks to his enormous vitality,
no trace of this serious dissipation showed. The huge
supper he had eaten--and drunk--the sleepless night
and the giant breakfast of fruit and cereal and chops
and wheat cakes and coffee he had laid in to stay him
until lunch time, would together have given pause to
any but such a physical organization as his. The only
evidence of it was a certain slight irritability--but this
may have been due to his state of intense self-dissatisfaction.
As he entered the main room his glance sought the
corner where Miss Hallowell was ensconced. She
happened to look up at that instant. With a radiant smile
she bowed to him in friendliest fashion. He colored
deeply, frowned with annoyance, bowed coldly and strode
into his room. He fussed and fretted about with his
papers for a few minutes, then rang the bell.
"Send in Miss Pritchard--no, Mr. Gowdy--no,
Miss Hallowell," he said to the office boy. And then he
looked sharply at the pert young face for possible
signs of secret cynical amusement. He saw none such,
but was not convinced. He knew too well how by a
sort of occult process the servants, all the subordinates,
round a person like himself discover the most intimate
secrets, almost get the news before anything has really
Miss Hallowell appeared, and very cold and reserved
she looked as she stood waiting.
"I sent for you because--" he began. He glanced
at the door to make sure that it was closed--" because
I wanted to hear your voice." And he laughed
boyishly. He was in high good humor now.
"Why did you speak to me as you did when you
came in?" said she.
There was certainly novelty in this direct attack,
this equal to equal criticism of his manners. He was
not pleased with the novelty; but at the same time he
felt a lack of the courage to answer her as she deserved,
even if she was playing a clever game. "It isn't necessary
that the whole office should know our private business,"
said he.
She seemed astonished. "What private business?"
"Last night," said he, uncertain whether she was
trifling with him or was really the innocent she pretended
to be. "If I were you, I'd not speak as friendlily
as you did this morning--not before people."
"Why?" inquired she, her sweet young face still
more perplexed.
"This isn't a small town out West," explained he.
"It's New York. People misunderstand--or rather--"
He gave her a laughing, mischievous glance--"or
rather--they don't."
"I can't see anything to make a mystery about,"
declared the girl. "Why, you act as if there were
something to be ashamed of in coming to see me."
He was observing her sharply. How could a girl
live in the New York atmosphere several years without
getting a sensible point of view? Yet, so far as he
could judge, this girl was perfectly honest in her
ignorance. "Don't be foolish," said he. "Please accept the
fact as I give it to you. You mustn't let people see
She made no attempt to conceal her dislike for this.
"I won't be mixed up in anything like that," said she,
quite gently and without a suggestion of pique or anger.
"It makes me feel low--and it's horribly common.
Either we are going to be friends or we aren't. And
if we are, why, we're friends whenever we meet. I'm
not ashamed of you. And if you are ashamed of me,
you can cut me out altogether."
His color deepened until his face was crimson. His
eyes avoided hers. "I was thinking chiefly of you," he
said--and he honestly thought he was speaking the
whole truth.
"Then please don't do so any more," said she, turning
to go. "I understand about New York snobbishness.
I want nothing to do with it."
He disregarded the danger of the door being opened
at any moment. He rushed to her and took her reluctant
hand. "You mustn't blame me for the ways of
the world. I can't change them. Do be sensible,
dearest. You're only going to be here a few days longer.
I've got that plan for you and your father all thought
out. I'll put it through at once. I don't want the
office talking scandal about us--do you?"
She looked at him pityingly. His eyes fell before
hers. "I know it's a weakness," he said, giving up
trying to deceive her and himself. "But I can't help
it. I was brought up that way."
"Well--I wasn't. I see we can never be friends."
What a mess he had made of this affair! This girl
must be playing upon him. In his folly he had let her
see how completely he was in her power, and she was
using that power to establish relations between them
that were the very opposite of what he desired--and
must have. He must control himself. "As you please,"
he said coldly, dropping her hand. "I'm sorry, but
unless you are reasonable I can do nothing for you."
And he went to his desk.
She hesitated a moment; as her back was toward
him, he could not see her expression. Without looking
round she went out of his office. It took all his
strength to let her go. "She's bluffing," he muttered.
"And yet--perhaps she isn't. There may be people
like that left in New York." Whatever the truth, he
simply must make a stand. He knew women; no woman
had the least respect for a man who let her rule--and
this woman, relying upon his weakness for her, was bent
upon ruling. If he did not make a stand, she was lost
to him. If he did make a stand, he could no more than
lose her. Lose her! That thought made him sick at
heart. "What a fool I am about her!" he cried. "I
must hurry things up. I must get enough of her--
must get through it and back to my sober senses."
That was a time of heavy pressure of important
affairs. He furiously attacked one task after another,
only to abandon each in turn. His mind, which had
always been his obedient, very humble servant, absolutely
refused to obey. He turned everything over to
his associates or to subordinates, fighting all morning
against the longing to send for her. At half past
twelve he strode out of the office, putting on the air
of the big man absorbed in big affairs. He descended
to the street. But instead of going up town to keep
an appointment at a business lunch he hung round the
entrance to the opposite building.
She did not appear until one o'clock. Then out she
came--with the head office boy!--the good-looking,
young head office boy.
Norman's contempt for himself there reached its
lowest ebb. For his blood boiled with jealousy--
jealousy of his head office boy!--and about an obscure little
typewriter! He followed the two, keeping to the other
side of the street. Doubtless those who saw and
recognized him fancied him deep in thought about some
mighty problem of corporate law or policy, as he moved
from and to some meeting with the great men who
dictated to a nation of ninety millions what they should
buy and how much they should pay for it. He saw the
two enter a quick-lunch restaurant--struggled with a
crack-brained impulse to join them--dragged himself
away to his appointment.
He was never too amiable in dealing with his clients,
because he had found that, in self-protection, to avoid
being misunderstood and largely increasing the difficulties
of amicable intercourse, he must keep the feel of
iron very near the surface. That day he was for the
first time irascible. If the business his clients were
engaged in had been less perilous and his acute intelligence
not indispensable, he would have cost the firm dear. But
in business circles, where every consideration yields to
that of material gain, the man with the brain may
conduct himself as he pleases--and usually does so,
when he has strength of character.
All afternoon he wrestled with himself to keep away
from the office. He won, but it was the sort of victory
that gives the winner the chagrin and despondency of
defeat. At home, late in the afternoon, he found Josephine
in the doorway, just leaving. "You'll walk home
with me--won't you?" she said. And, taken unawares
and intimidated by guilt, he could think of no excuse.
Some one--probably a Frenchman--has said that
there are always in a man's life three women--the one
on the way out, the one that is, and the one that is to
be. Norman--ever the industrious trafficker with the
feminine that the man of the intense vitality necessary
to a great career of action is apt to be--was by no
means new to the situation in which he now found
himself. But never before had the circumstances been so
difficult. Josephine in no way resembled any woman
with whom he had been involved; she was the first he
had taken seriously. Nor did the other woman resemble
the central figure in any of his affairs. He did not
know what she was like, how to classify her; but he
did know that she was unlike any woman he had ever
known and that his feeling for her was different--
appallingly different--from any emotion any other woman
had inspired in him. So--a walk alone with Josephine--
a first talk with her after his secret treachery--
was no light matter. "Deeper and deeper," he said to
himself. "Where is this going to end?"
She began by sympathizing with him for having so
much to do--"and father says you can get through
more work than any man he ever knew, not excluding
himself." She was full of tenderness and compliment,
of a kind of love that made him feel as the dirt beneath
his feet. She respected him so highly; she believed
in him so entirely. The thought of her discovering the
truth, or any part of it, gave him a sensation of nausea.
He was watching her out of the corner of his eye. Never
had he seen her more statelily beautiful. If he should
lose her!" I'm mad--MAD!" he said to himself.
"Josephine is as high above her as heaven above earth.
What is there to her, anyhow? Not brains--nor taste
--nor such miraculous beauty. Why do I make an ass
of myself about her? I ought to go to my doctor."
"I don't believe you're listening to what I'm saying,"
laughed Josephine.
"My head's in a terrible state," replied he. "I
can't think of anything."
"Don't try to talk or to listen, dearest," said she
in the sweet and soothing tone that is neither sweet nor
soothing to a man in a certain species of unresponsive
mood. "This air will do you good. It doesn't annoy
you for me to talk to you, does it?"
The question was one of those which confidently
expects, even demands, a sincere and strenuous negative
for answer. It fretted him, this matter-of-course
assumption of hers that she could not but be altogether
pleasing, not to say enchanting to him. Her position,
her wealth, the attentions she had received, the
flatteries-- In her circumstances could it be in human
nature not to think extremely well of oneself? And he
admitted that she had the right so to think. Still--
For the first time she scraped upon his nerves. His
reply, "Annoy me? The contrary," was distinctly
crisp. To an experienced ear there would have sounded
the faint warning under-note of sullenness.
But she, believing in his love and in herself, saw
nothing, suspected nothing. "We know each other so
thoroughly," she went on, "that we don't need to make
any effort. How congenial we are! I always understand
you. I feel such a sense of the perfect freedom
and perfect frankness between us. Don't you?"
"You have wonderful intuitions," said he.
It was the time to alarm him by coldness, by caprciousness.
But how could she know it? And she was
in love--really in love--not with herself, not with love,
but with him. Thus, she made the mistake of all true
lovers in those difficult moments. She let him see how
absolutely she was his. Nor did the spectacle of her
sincerity, of her belief in his sincerity put him in any
better humor with himself.
The walk was a mere matter of a dozen blocks. He
thought it would never end. "You are sure you aren't
ill?" she said, when they were at her door--a superb
bronze door it was, opening into a house of the splendor
that for the acclimated New Yorker quite conceals and
more than compensates absence of individual taste.
"You don't look ill. But you act queerly."
"I'm often this way when they drive me too hard
down town."
She looked at him with fond admiration; he might
have been better pleased had there not been in the look
a suggestion of the possessive. "How they do need
you! Father says-- But I mustn't make you any
vainer than you are."
He usually loved compliment, could take it in its
rawest form with fine human gusto. Now, he did not
care enough about that "father says" to rise to her
obvious bait. "I'm horribly tired," he said. "Shall
I see you to-morrow? No, I guess not--not for several
days. You understand?"
"Perfectly," replied she. "I'll miss you dreadfully,
but my father has trained me well. I know I mustn't
be selfish--and tempt you to neglect things."
"Thank you," said he. "I must be off."
"You'll come in--just a moment?" Her eyes
sparkled. "The butler will have sense enough to go
straight away--and the small reception room will be
quite empty as usual."
He could not escape. A few seconds and he was
alone with her in the little room--how often had he--
they--been glad of its quiet and seclusion on such
occasions! She laid her hand upon his shoulders, gazed
at him proudly. "It was here," said she, "that you
first kissed me. Do you remember?"
To take her gaze from his face and to avoid seeing
her look of loving trust, he put his arms round her.
"I don't deserve you," he said--one of those empty
pretenses of confession that yet give the human soul a
sense of truthfulness.
"You'd not say that if you knew how happy you
make me," murmured she.
The welcome sound of a step in the hall give him
his release. When he was in the street, he wiped his hot
face with his handkerchief. "And I thought I had no
moral sense left!" he reflected--not the first man, in
this climax day of the triumph of selfish philosophies,
to be astonished by the discovery that the dead hands
of heredity and tradition have a power that can
successfully defy reason.
He started to walk back home, on impulse took a
passing taxi and went to his club. It was the Federal.
They said of it that no man who amounted to anything
in New York could be elected a member, because any
man on his way up could not but offend one or more of
the important persons in control. Most of its members
were nominated at birth or in childhood and elected as
soon as they were twenty-one. Norman was elected
after he became a man of consequence. He regarded it
as one of the signal triumphs of his career; and beyond
question it was proof of his power, of the eagerness of
important men, despite their jealousy, to please him and
to be in a position to get the benefit of his brains should
need arise. Norman's whole career, like every career
great and small, in the arena of action, was a derision
of the ancient moralities, a demonstration of the value
of fear as an aid to success. Even his friends--and he
had as many as he cared to have--had been drawn to
him by the desire to placate him, to stand well where
there was danger in standing ill.
Until dinner time he stood at the club bar, drinking
one cocktail after another with that supreme
indifference to consequences to health which made his
fellow men gape and wonder--and cost an occasional
imitator health, and perhaps life. Nor did the powerful
liquor have the least effect upon him, apparently. Possibly
he was in a better humor, but not noticeably so.
He dined at the club and spent the evening at bridge,
winning several hundred dollars. He enjoyed the
consideration he received at that club, for his fellow
members being men of both social and financial consequence,
their conspicuous respect for him was a concentrated
essence of general adulation. He lingered on, eating
a great supper with real appetite. He went home in
high good humor with himself. He felt that he was a
conqueror born, that such things of his desire as did
not come could be forced to come. He no longer
regarded his passion for the nebulous girl of many
personalities as a descent from dignity. Was he not king?
Did not his favor give her whatever rank he pleased?
Might not a king pick and choose, according to his
fancy? Let the smaller fry grow nervous about these
matters of caste. They did well to take care lest they
should fall. But not he! He had won thus far by
haughtiness, never by cringing. His mortal day would
be that in which he should abandon his natural tactics
for the modes of lesser men. True, only a strong head
could remain steady in these giddy altitudes of selfconfidence.
But was not his head strong?
And without hesitation he called up the vision that
made him delirious-and detained it and reveled in it
until sleep came.
THE longer he thought of it the stronger grew his
doubt that the little Hallowell girl could be so indifferent
to him as she seemed. Not that she was a fraud--
that is, a conscious fraud--even so much of a fraud as
the sincerest of the other women he had known. Simply
that she was carrying out a scheme of coquetry. Could
it be in human nature, even in the nature of the most
indiscriminating of the specimens of young feminine
ignorance and folly, not to be flattered by the favor of
such a man as he? Common sense answered that it could
not be--but neglected to point out to him that almost
any vagary might be expected of human nature, when it
could produce such a deviation from the recognized
types as a man of his position agitated about such an
unsought obscurity as Miss Hallowell. He continued
to debate the state of her mind as if it were an affair
of mightiest moment--which, indeed, it was to him. And
presently his doubt strengthened into conviction. She
must be secretly pleased, flattered, responsive. She had
been in the office long enough to be impressed by his
position. Yes, there must be more or less pretense in her
apparently complete indifference--more or less pretense,
more or less coquetry, probably not a little timidity.
She would come down from her high horse--with
help and encouragement from him. He was impatient to
get to the office and see just how she would do it--
what absurd, amusing attractive child's trick she would
think out, imagining she could fool him, as lesser
intelligences are ever fatuously imagining they can outwit
He rather thought she would come in to see him on
some pretext, would maneuver round like a bird
pretending to flutter away from the trap it has every
intention of entering. But eleven o'clock of a wasted
morning came and she did not appear. He went out to see if
she was there--she must be sick; she could not be there
or he would have heard from her. . . . Yes, she was at
her desk, exactly as always. No, not exactly the same.
She was obviously attractive now; the air of insignificance
had gone, and not the dullest eyes in that office
could fail to see at least something of her beauty.
And Tetlow was hanging over her, while the girls and
boys grinned and whispered. Clearly, the office was
"on to" Tetlow. . . . Norman, erect and coldly
infuriate, called out:
"Mr. Tetlow--one moment, please."
He went back to his den, Tetlow startling and
following like one on the way to the bar for sentence.
"Mr. Tetlow," he said, when they were shut in together,
"you are making a fool of yourself before the
whole office."
"Be a little patient with me, Mr. Norman," said the
head clerk humbly. "I've got another place for her.
She's going to take it to-morrow. Then--there'll be
no more trouble."
Norman paled. "She wishes to leave?" he
contrived to articulate.
"She spoke to me about leaving before I told her
I had found her another job."
Norman debated--but for only a moment. "I do
not wish her to leave," he said coldly. "I find her
useful and most trustworthy."
Tetlow's eyes were fixed strangely upon him.
"What's the matter with you?" asked Norman, the
under-note of danger but thinly covered.
"Then she was right," said Tetlow slowly. "I
thought she was mistaken. I see that she is right."
"What do you mean?" said Norman--a mere
inquiry, devoid of bluster or any other form of
"You know very well what I mean, Fred Norman,"
said Tetlow. "And you ought to be ashamed of yourself."
"Don't stand there scowling and grimacing like
an idiot," said Norman with an amused smile. "What
do you mean?"
"She told me--about your coming to see her--
about your offer to do something for her father--about
your acting in a way that made her uneasy."
For an instant Norman was panic-stricken. Then
his estimate of her reassured him. "I took your
advice," said he. "I went to see for myself. How did
I act that she was made uneasy?"
"She didn't say. But a woman can tell what a man
has in the back of his head--when it concerns her. And
she is a good woman--so innocent that you ought to be
ashamed of yourself for even thinking of her in that
way. God has given innocence instincts, and she felt
what you were about."
Norman laughed--a deliberate provocation. "Love
has made a fool of you, old man," he said.
"I notice you don't deny," retorted Tetlow
"Deny what? There's nothing to deny." He felt
secure now that he knew she had been reticent with
Tetlow as to the happenings in the cottage.
"Maybe I'm wronging you," said Tetlow, but not
in the tone of belief. "However that may be, I know
you'll not refuse to listen to my appeal. I love her,
Norman. I'm going to make her my wife if I can.
And I ask you--for the sake of our old friendship--
to let her alone. I've no doubt you could dazzle her.
You couldn't make a bad woman of her. But you
could make her very miserable."
Norman pushed about the papers before him. His
face wore a cynical smile; but Tetlow, who knew him
in all his moods, saw that he was deeply agitated.
"I don't know that I can win her, Fred," he pleaded.
"But I feel that I might if I had a fair chance."
"You think she'd refuse YOU?" said Norman.
"Like a flash, unless I'd made her care for me.
That's the kind she is."
"That sounds absurd. Why, there isn't a woman
in New York who would refuse a chance to take a high
jump up."
"I'd have said so, too. But since I've gotten
acquainted with her I've learned better. She may be
spoiled some day, but she hasn't been yet. God knows,
I wish I could tempt her. But I can't."
"You're entirely too credulous, old man. She'll
make a fool of you."
"I know better," Tetlow stubbornly maintained.
"Anyhow, I don't care. I love her, and I'd marry her,
no matter what her reason for marrying me was."
What pitiful infatuation!--worse than his own.
Poor Tetlow!--he deserved a better fate than to be
drawn into this girl's trap--for, of course, she never
could care for such a heavy citizen--heavy and homely
--the loosely fat kind of homely that is admired by no
one, not even by a woman with no eye at all for the
physical points of the male. It would be a real kindness
to save worthy Tetlow. What a fool she'd make
of him!--how she'd squander his money--and torment
him with jealousy--and unfit him for his career. Poor
Tetlow! If he could get what he wanted, he'd be well
punished for his imprudence in wanting it. Really,
could friendship do him a greater service than to save
Norman gave Tetlow a friendly, humorous glance.
"You're a hopeless case, Billy," he said. "But at
least don't rush into trouble. Take your time. You
can always get in, you know; and you may not get
in quite so deep."
"You promise to let her alone?" said Tetlow
Again his distinguished friend laughed. "Don't
be an ass, old man. Why imagine that, just because
you've taken a fancy to a girl, everyone wants her?"
He clapped him on the shoulder, gave him a push
toward the door. "I've wasted enough time on this
Tetlow did not venture to disregard a hint so plain.
He went with his doubt still unsolved--his doubt whether
his jealousy was right or his high opinion of his
hero friend whose series of ever-mounting successes had
filled him with adoration. He knew the way of success,
knew no man could tread it unless he had, or acquired,
a certain hardness of heart that made him an uncomfortable
not to say dangerous associate. He regretted
his own inability to acquire that indispensable hardness,
and envied and admired it in Fred Norman. But, at
the same time that he admired, he could not help distrusting.
Norman battled with his insanity an hour, then sent
for Miss Hallowell.
The girl had lost her look of strength and vitality.
She seemed frail and dim--so unimportant physically
that he wondered why her charm for him persisted.
Yet it did persist. If he could take her in his arms,
could make her drooping beauty revive!--through love
for him if possible; if not, then through anger and
hate! He must make her feel, must make her acknowledge,
that he had power. It seemed to him another
instance of the resistless fascination which the
unattainable, however unworthy, has ever had for the
conqueror temperament.
"You are leaving?" he said curtly, both a question
and an affirmation.
"You are making a mistake--a serious mistake."
She stood before him listlessly, as if she had no
interest either in what he was saying or in him. That
maddening indifference!
"It was a mistake to tattle your trouble to Tetlow."
"I did not tattle," said she quietly, colorlessly. "I
said only enough to make him help me."
"And what did he say about me?"
"That I had misjudged you--that I must be mistaken."
Norman laughed. "How seriously the little people
of the world do take themselves!"
She looked at him. His amused eyes met hers
frankly. "You didn't mean it?" she said.
He beamed on her. "Certainly I did. But I'm
not a lunatic or a wild beast. Do you think I would
take advantage of a girl in your position?"
Her eyes seemed to grow large and weary, and an
expression of experience stole over her young face,
giving it a strange appearance of age-in-youth. "It has
been done," said she.
How reconcile such a look with the theory of her
childlike innocence? But then how reconcile any two
of the many varied personalities he had seen in her?
He said: "Yes--it has been done. But not by me.
I shall take from you only what you gladly give."
"You will get nothing else," said she with quiet
"That being settled--" he went on, holding up a
small package of papers bound together by an elastic--
"Here are the proposed articles of incorporation of
the Chemical Research Company. How do you like
the name?"
"What is it?"
"The company that is to back your father. Capital
stock, twenty-five thousand dollars, one half paid
up. Your father to be employed as director of the
laboratories at five thousand a year, with a fund of
ten thousand to draw upon. You to be employed as
secretary and treasurer at fifteen hundred a year. I
will take the paid-up stock, and your father and you
will have the privilege of buying it back at par within
five years. Do you follow me?"
"I think I understand," was her unexpected reply.
Her replies were usually unexpected, like the expressions
of her face and figure; she was continually
comprehending where one would have said she would not,
and not comprehending where it seemed absurd that
she should not. "Yes, I understand. . . . What else?"
"Nothing else."
She looked intently at him, and her eyes seemed to
be reading his soul to the bottom.
"Nothing else," he repeated.
"No obligation--for money--or--for anything?"
"No obligation. A hope perhaps." He was smiling
with the gayest good humor. "But not the kind
of hope that ever becomes a disagreeable demand for
She seated herself, her hands in her lap, her eyes
down--a lovely picture of pensive repose. He waited
patiently, feasting his senses upon her delicate,
aromatic loveliness. At last she said:
"I accept."
He had anticipated an argument. This promptness
took him by surprise. He felt called upon to explain,
to excuse her acceptance. "I am taking a little flyer
--making a gamble," said he. "Your father may turn
up nothing of commercial value. Again the company
may pay big----"
She gave him a long look through half-closed eyes,
a queer smile flitting round her lips. "I understand
perfectly why you are doing it," she said. "Do you
understand why I am accepting?"
"Why should you refuse?" rejoined he. "It is a
good business prop----"
"You know very well why I should refuse. But--"
She gave a quiet laugh of experience; it made him feel
that she was making a fool of him--"I shall not refuse.
I am able to take care of myself. And I want father
to have his chance. Of course, I shan't explain to him."
She gave him a mischievous glance. "And I don't think
YOU will."
He contrived to cover his anger, doubt, chagrin,
general feeling of having been outwitted. "No, I shan't
tell him," laughed he. "You are making a great fool
of me."
"Do you want to back out?"
What audacity! He hesitated--did not dare. Her
indifference to him--her personal, her physical indifference
gave her the mastery. His teeth clenched and his
passion blazed in his eyes as he said: "No--you witch!
I'll see it through."
She smiled lightly. "I suppose you'll come to the
offices of the company--occasionally?" She drew
nearer, stood at the corner of the desk. Into her
exquisite eyes came a look of tenderness. "And I shall
be glad to see you."
"You mean that?" he said, despising himself for
his humble eagerness, and hating her even as he loved
"Indeed I do." She smiled bewitchingly. "You
are a lot better man than you think."
"I am an awful fool about you," retorted he. "You
see, I play my game with all my cards on the table. I
wish I could say the same of you."
"I am not playing a game," replied she. "You
make a mystery where there isn't any. And--all your
cards aren't on the table." She laughed mockingly.
"At least, you think there's one that isn't--though,
really, it is."
"About your engagement."
He covered superbly. "Oh," said he in the most
indifferent tone. "Tetlow told you."
"As soon as I heard that," she went on, "I felt
better about you. I understand how it is with men--
the passing fancies they have for women."
"How did you learn?" demanded he.
"Do you think a girl could spend several years
knocking about down town in New York without getting
He smiled--a forced smile of raillery, hiding sudden
fierce suspicion and jealousy. "I should say not.
But you always pretend innocence."
"I can't be held responsible for what you read into
my looks and into what I say," observed she with her
air of a wise old infant. "But I was so glad to find
out that you were seriously in love with a nice girl up
He burst out laughing. She gazed at him in childlike
surprise. "Why are you laughing at me?" she
"Nothing--nothing," he assured her. He would
have found it difficult to explain why he was so intensely
amused at hearing the grand Josephine Burroughs
called "a nice girl up town."
"You are in love with her? You are engaged to
her?" she inquired, her grave eyes upon him with an
irresistible appeal for truth in them.
"Tetlow didn't lie to you," evaded he. "You don't
know it, but Tetlow is going to ask you to marry him."
"Yes, I knew," replied she indifferently.
"How? Did he tell you?"
"No. Just as I knew you were not going to ask
me to marry you."
The mere phrase, even when stated as a negation,
gave him a sensation of ice suddenly laid against the
"It's quite easy to tell the difference between the
two kinds of men--those that care for me more than
they care for themselves and those that care for
themselves more than they care for me."
"That's the way it looks to you--is it?"
"That's the way it is," said she.
"There are some things you don't understand. This
is one of them."
"Maybe I don't," said she. "But I've my own
idea--and I'm going to stick to it."
This amused him. "You are a very opinionated
and self-confident young lady," said he.
She laughed roguishly. "I'm taking up a lot of
your time."
"Don't think of it. You haven't asked when the
new deal is to begin."
"Oh, yes--and I shall have to tell Mr. Tetlow I'm
not taking the place he got for me."
"Be careful what you say to him," cautioned
Norman. "You must see it wouldn't be well to tell him
what you are going to do. There's no reason on earth
why he should know your business--is there?"
She did not reply; she was reflecting.
"You are not thinking of marrying Tetlow--are
"No," she said. "I don't love him--and couldn't
learn to."
With a sincerely judicial air, now that he felt
secure, he said: "Why not? It would be a good match."
"I don't love him," she repeated, as if that were a
sufficient and complete answer. And he was astonished
to find that he so regarded it, also, in spite of every
assault of all that his training had taught him to regard
as common sense about human nature.
"You can simply say to Tetlow that you've decided
to stay at home and take care of your father. The
offices of the company will be at your house. Your
official duties practically amount to taking care of your
father. So you'll be speaking the truth."
"Oh, it isn't exactly lying, to keep something from
somebody who has no right to know it. What you suggest
isn't quite the truth. But it's near enough, and
I'll say it to him."
His own view of lying was the same as that she
had expressed. Also, he had no squeamishness about
saying what was in no sense true, if the falsehood were
necessary to his purposes. Yet her statement of her
code, moral though he thought it and eminently sensible
as well, lowered her once more in his estimation. He
was eager to find reason or plausible excuse for believing
her morally other and less than she seemed to be.
Immediately the prospects of his ultimate projects--
whatever they might prove to be--took on a more hopeful
air. "And I'd advise you to have Tetlow keep away
from you. We don't want him nosing round."
"No, indeed," said she. "He is a nice man, but
tiresome. And if I encouraged him ever so little, he'd
be sentimental. The most tiresome thing in the world
to a girl is a man who talks that sort of thing when
she doesn't want to hear it--from him."
He laughed. "Meaning me?" he suggested.
She nodded, much pleased. "Perhaps," she replied.
"Don't worry about that," mocked he.
"I shan't till I have to," she assured him. "And
I don't think I'll have to."
On the Monday morning following, Tetlow came in
to see Norman as soon as he arrived. "I want a two
weeks' leave," he said. "I'm going to Bermuda or down
there somewhere."
"Why, what's the matter?" cried Norman. "You
do look ill, old man."
"I saw her last night," replied the chief clerk,
dropping an effort at concealing his dejection. "She
--she turned me down."
"Really? You?" Norman's tone of sympathetic
surprise would not have deceived half attentive ears.
But Tetlow was securely absorbed. "Why, Billy, she
can't hope to make as good a match."
"That's what I told her--when I saw the game was
going against me. But it was no use."
Norman trifled nervously with the papers before
him. Presently he said, "Is it some one else?"
Tetlow shook his head.
"How do you know?"
"Because she said so," replied the head clerk.
"Oh--if she said so, that settles it," said Norman
with raillery.
"She's given up work--thank God," pursued Tetlow.
"She's getting more beautiful all the time--
Norman, if you had seen her last night, you'd understand
why I'm stark mad about her."
Norman's eyes were down. His hands, the muscles
of his jaw were clinched.
"But, I mustn't think of that," Tetlow went on.
"As I was about to say, if she were to stay on in the
offices some one--some attractive man like you, only
with the heart of a scoundrel----"
Norman laughed cynically.
"Yes, a scoundrel!" reiterated the fat head-clerk.
"Some scoundrel would tempt her beyond her power to
resist. Money and clothes and luxury will do anything.
We all get to be harlots here in New York. Some of
us know it, and some don't. But we all look it and
act it. And she'd go the way of the rest--with or
without marriage. It's just as well she didn't marry
me. I know what'd have become of her."
Norman nodded.
Tetlow gave a weary sigh. "Anyhow, she's safe at
home with her father. He's found a backer for his
"That's good," said Norman.
"You can spare me for ten days," Tetlow went
on. "I'd be of no use if I stayed."
There was a depth of misery in his kind gray eyes
that moved Norman to get up and lay a friendly hand
on his shoulder. "It's the best thing, old man. She
wasn't for you."
Tetlow dropped into a chair and sobbed. "It has
killed me," he groaned. "I don't mean I'll commit
suicide or die. I mean I'm dead inside--dead."
"Oh, come, Billy--where's your good sense?"
"I know what I'm talking about," said he.
"Norman, God help the man who meets the woman he really
wants--God help him if she doesn't want him. You
don't understand. You'll never have the experience.
Any woman you wanted would be sure to want you."
Norman, his hand still on Tetlow's shoulder, was
staring ahead with a terrible expression upon his strong
"If she could see the inside of me--the part that's
the real me--I think she would love me--or learn to
love me. But she can only see the outside--this homely
face and body of mine. It's horrible, Fred--to have
a mind and a heart fit for love and for being loved,
and an outside that repels it. And how many of us
poor devils of that sort there are--men and women
Norman was at the window now, his back to the
room, to his friend. After a while Tetlow rose and
made a feeble effort to straighten himself. "Is it all
right about the vacation?" he asked.
"Certainly," said Norman, without turning.
"Thank you, Fred. You're a good friend."
"I'll see you before you go," said Norman, still
facing the window. "You'll come back all right."
Tetlow did not answer. When Norman turned he
was alone.
IN no way was Norman's luck superior to most
men's more splendidly than in that his inborn tendency
to arrogant and extravagant desires was matched by an
inborn capacity to get the necessary money. His
luxurious tastes were certainly not moderated by his
associations--enormously rich people who, while they
could be stingy enough in some respects, at the same
time could and did fling away fortunes in gratifying
selfish whims--for silly showy houses, for retinues of
wasteful servants, for gewgaws that accentuated the
homeliness of their homely women and coarsened and
vulgarized their pretty women--or perhaps for a
night's gambling or entertaining, or for the forced
smiles and contemptuous caresses of some belle of the
other world. Norman fortunately cared not at all for
the hugely expensive pomp of the life of the rich; if he
had, he would have hopelessly involved himself, as after
all he was not a money-grubber but a lawyer. But when
there appeared anything for which he did care, he was
ready to bid for it like the richest of the rich.
Therefore the investment of a few thousand dollars
seemed a small matter to him. He had many a time
tossed away far more for far less. He did not dole
out the sum he had agreed to provide. He paid it
into the Jersey City bank to the credit of the Chemical
Research Company and informed its secretary and treasurer
that she could draw freely against it. "If you
will read the by-laws of the company," said he, "you
will see that you've the right to spend exactly as you
see fit. When the money runs low, let me know."
"I'll be very careful," said Dorothea Hallowell,
secretary and treasurer.
"That's precisely what we don't want," replied he.
He glanced round the tiny parlor of the cottage. "We
want everything to be run in first-class shape. That's
the only way to get results. First of all, you must
take a proper house--a good-sized one, with large
grounds--room for building your father a proper
Her dazed and dazzled expression delighted him.
"And you must live better. You must keep at
least two servants."
"But we can't afford it."
"Your father has five thousand a year. You have
fifteen hundred. That makes sixty-five hundred. The
rent of the house and the wages and keep of the servants
are a charge against the corporation. So, you can well
afford to make yourselves comfortable."
"I haven't got used to the idea as yet," said
Dorothea. "Yes--we ARE better off than we were."
"And you must live better. I want you to get
some clothes--and things of that sort."
She shrank within herself and sat quiet, her gaze
fixed upon her hands lying limp in her lap.
"There is no reason why your father shouldn't be
made absolutely comfortable and happy. That's the
way to get the best results from a man of his sort."
She faded on toward the self-effacing blank he had
first known.
"Think it out, Dorothy," he said in his frankest,
kindliest way. "You'll see I'm right."
"No," she said.
"No? What does that mean?"
"I've an instinct against it," replied she. "I'd
rather father and I kept on as we are."
"But that's impossible. You've no right to live in
this small, cramping way. You must broaden out and
give HIM room to grow. . . . Isn't that sensible? "
"It sounds so," she admitted. "But--" She gazed
round helplessly--"I'm afraid!"
"Afraid of what?"
"I don't know."
"Then don't bother about it."
"I'll have to be very--careful," she said thoughtfully.
"As you please," replied he. "Only, don't live and
think on a ten-dollar-a-week basis. That isn't the way
to get on."
He never again brought up the matter in direct
form. But most of his conversation was indirect and
more or less subtle suggestions as to ways of branching
out. She moved cautiously for a few days, then timidly
began to spend money.
There is a notion widely spread abroad that people
who have little money know more about the art of spending
money and the science of economizing than those
who have much. It would be about as sensible to say
that the best swimmers are those who have never been
near the water, or no nearer than a bath tub. Anyone
wishing to be convinced need only make an excursion
into the poor tenement district and observe the garbage
barrels overflowing with spoiled food--or the trashy
goods exposed for sale in the shops and the markets.
Those who have had money and have lost it are probably,
as a rule, the wisest in thrift. Those who have
never had money are almost invariably prodigal--
because they are ignorant. When Dorothea Hallowell was
a baby the family had had money. But never since she
could remember had they been anything but poor.
She did not know how to spend money. She did
not know prices or values--being in that respect
precisely like the mass of mankind--and womankind--who
imagine they are economical because they hunt so-called
bargains and haggle with merchants who have got
doubly ready for them by laying in inferior goods and
by putting up prices in advance. She knew how much
ten dollars a week was, the meaning of the twenty to
thirty dollars a week her father had made. But she
had only a faint--and exaggeratedly mistaken--notion
about sixty-five hundred a year--six and a half
thousands. It seemed wealth to her, so vast that a hundred
thousand a year would have seemed no more. As soon
as she drifted away from the known course--the thirty
to forty dollars a week upon which they had been living
--Dorothea Hallowell was in a trackless sea, with a
broken compass and no chart whatever. A common
enough experience in America, the land of sudden
changes of fortune, of rosiest hopes about "striking it
rich," of carelessness and ignorance as to values, of
eager and untrained appetite for luxury and novelty
of any and every kind.
At first any expenditure, however small, for the
plainest comfort which had been beyond their means seemed
a giddy extravagance. But a bank account--AND a
check book--soon dissipated that nervousness. A few
charge accounts, a little practice in the simple easy
gesture of drawing a check, and she was almost at her
ease. With people who have known only squalor or
with those who have earned their better fortune by
privation and slow accumulation, the spreading out
process is usually slow--not so slow as it used to be when
our merchants had not learned the art of tempting any
and every kind of human nature, but still far from
rapid. A piece of money reminds them vividly and
painfully of the toil put into acquiring it; and they shy
away from the pitfall of the facile check. With those
born and bred as Dorothy was and elevated into what
seems to them affluence by no effort of their own, the
spreading is a tropical, overnight affair.
Counting all she spent and arranged to spend in
those first few weeks, you had no great total. But it
was great for a girl who had been making ten dollars a
week. Also there were sown in her mind broadcast and
thick the seeds of desire for more luxurious comfort, of
need for it, that could never be uprooted.
Norman came over almost every evening. He got
a new and youthful and youth-restoring kind of pleasure
out of this process of expansion. He liked to hear
each trifling detail, and he was always making suggestions
that bore immediate fruit in further expenditure.
When he again brought up the subject of a larger
house, she listened with only the faintest protests. Her
ideas of such a short time before seemed small, laughably
small now. "Father was worrying only this morning
because he is so cramped," she admitted.
"We must remedy that at once," said Norman.
And on the following Sunday he and she went house
hunting. They found a satisfactory place--peculiarly
satisfactory to Norman because it was near the Hudson
tunnel, and so only a few minutes from his office. To
Dorothy it loomed a mansion, almost a palace. In fact
it was a modestly roomy old-fashioned brick house, with
a brick stable at the side that, with a little changing,
would make an admirable laboratory.
"You haven't the time--or the experience--to fit
this place up," said Norman. "I'll attend to it--that
is, I'll have it attended to." Seeing her uneasy expression,
he added: "I can get much better terms. They'd
certainly overcharge you. There's no sense in wasting
money--is there?"
"No," she admitted, convinced.
He gave the order to a firm of decorators. It was
a moderate order, considering the amount of work that
had to be done. But if the girl had seen the estimates
Norman indorsed, she would have been terrified. However,
he saw to it that she did not see them; and she,
ignorant of values, believed him when he told her the
general account of the corporation must be charged with
two thousand dollars.
Her alarm took him by surprise. The sum seemed
small to him--and it was only about one fifth what
the alterations and improvements had cost. Cried she,
"Why, that's more than our whole income for a year
has been!"
"You are forgetting these improvements add to the
value of the property. I've bought it."
That quieted her. "You are sure you didn't pay
those decorators and furnishers too much?" said she.
"You don't like their work?" inquired he, chagrined.
"Oh, yes--yes, indeed," she assured him. "I like
plain, solid-looking things. But--two thousand dollars
is a lot of money."
Norman regretted that, as his whole object had
been to please her, he had not ordered the more showy
cheaper stuff but had insisted upon the simplest, plainestlooking
appointments throughout. Even her bedroom
furniture, even her dressing table set, was of the
kind that suggests cost only to the experienced,
carefully and well educated in values and in taste.
"But I'm sure it isn't fair to charge ALL these things
to the company," she protested. "I can't allow it. Not
the things for my personal use."
"You ARE a fierce watchdog of a treasurer," said
Norman, laughing at her but noting and respecting the
fine instinct of good breeding shown in her absence
of greediness, of desire to get all she could. "But I'm
letting the firm of decorators take over what you leave
behind in the old house. I'll see what they'll allow for
it. Maybe that will cover the expense you object to."
This contented her. Nor was she in the least
suspicious when he announced that the decorators had made
such a liberal allowance that the deficit was but three
hundred dollars. "Those chaps," he explained, "have
a wide margin of profit. Besides, they're eager to get
more and bigger work from me."
A few weeks, and he was enjoying the sight of her
ensconced with her father in luxurious comfort--with
two servants, with a well-run house, with pleasant gardens,
with all that is at the command of an income of
six thousand a year in a comparatively inexpensive city.
Only occasionally--and then not deeply--was he troubled
by the reflection that he was still far from his goal
--and had made apparently absurdly little progress
toward it through all this maneuvering. The truth was,
he preferred to linger when lingering gave him so many
new kinds of pleasure. Of those in the large and
motley company that sit down to the banquet of the
senses, the most are crude, if not coarse, gluttons. They
eat fast and furiously, having a raw appetite. Now
and then there is one who has some idea of the art of
enjoyment--the art of prolonging and varying both
the joys of anticipation and the joys of realization.
He turned his attention to tempting her to extravagance
in dress. Rut his success there was not all he
could have wished. She wore better clothes--much
better. She no longer looked the poor working girl,
struggling desperately to be neat and clean. She had almost
immediately taken on the air of the comfortable classes.
Rut everything she got for herself was inexpensive.
and she made dresses for herself, and trimmed all her
hats. With the hats Norman found no fault. There
her good taste produced about as satisfactory results as
could have been got at the fashionable milliners--more
satisfactory than are got by the women who go there,
with no taste of their own beyond a hazy idea that they
want "something like what Mrs. So-and-So is wearing."
But homemade dresses were a different matter.
Norman longed to have her in toilettes that would
bring out the full beauty of her marvelous figure. He,
after the manner of the more intelligent and worldlywise
New York men, had some knowledge of women's
clothes. His sister knew how to dress; Josephine knew
how, though her taste was somewhat too sober to suit
Norman--at least to suit him in Dorothy. He thought
out and suggested dresses to Dorothy, and told her
where to get them. Dorothy tried to carry out at home
such of his suggestions as pleased her--for, like all
women, she believed she knew how to dress herself. Her
handiwork was creditable. It would have contented a
less exacting and less trained taste than Norman's. It
would have contented him had he not been infatuated
with her beauty of face and form. As it was, the
improvement in her appearance only served to intensify
his agitation. He now saw in her not only all that
had first conquered him, but also those unsuspected
beauties and graces--and possibilities of beauty and
grace yet more entrancing, were she but dressed properly.
"You don't begin to appreciate how beautiful you
are," said he. It had ever been one of his rules in
dealing with women to feed their physical vanity sparingly
and cautiously, lest it should blaze up into one of
those consuming flames that produce a very frenzy of
conceit. But this rule, like all the others, had gone by
the board. He could not conceal his infatuation from
her, not even when he saw that it was turning her head
and making his task harder and harder. "If you
would only go over to New York to several dressmakers
whose names I'll give you, I know you'd get clothes
from them that you could touch up into something
"I can't afford it," said she. "What I have is good
enough--and costs more than I've the right to pay."
And her tone silenced him; it was the tone of finality,
and he had discovered that she had a will.
Never before had Frederick Norman let any
important thing drift. And when he started in with
Dorothy he had no idea of changing that fixed policy. He
would have scoffed if anyone had foretold to him that
he would permit the days and the weeks to go by with
nothing definite accomplished toward any definite
purpose. Yet that was what occurred. Every time he
came he had in mind a fixed resolve to make distinct
progress with the girl. Every time he left he had a
furious quarrel with himself for his weakness. "She is
making a fool of me," he said to himself. "She MUST
be laughing at me." But he returned only to repeat
his folly, to add one more to the lengthening, mocking
series of lost opportunities.
The truth lay deeper than he saw. He recognized
only his own weakness of the infatuated lover's fatuous
timidity. He did not realize how potent her charm for
him was, how completely content she made him when
he was with her, just from the fact that they were
together. After a time an unsatisfied passion often thus
diffuses itself, ceases to be a narrow torrent, becomes a
broad river whose resistless force is hidden beneath
an appearance of sparkling calm. Her ingenuousness
amused him; her developing taste and imagination
interested him; her freshness, her freedom from any sense
of his importance in the world fascinated him, and there
was a keener pleasure than he dreamed in the novel
sensation of breathing the perfume of what he, the one
time cynic, would have staked his life on being unsullied
purity. Their relations were to him a delightful
variation upon the intimacy of master and pupil. Either
he was listening to her or was answering her questions
--and the time flew. And there never was a moment
when he could have introduced the subject that most
concerned him when he was not with her. To have
introduced it would have been rudely to break the
charm of a happy afternoon or evening.
Was she leading him on and on nowhere deliberately?
Or was it the sweet and innocent simplicity it seemed?
He could not tell. He would have broken the charm
and put the matter to the test had he not been afraid
of the consequences. What had he to fear? Was she
not in his power? Was she not his, whenever he should
stretch forth his hand and claim her? Yes--no doubt
--not the slightest doubt. But-- He was afraid to
break the charm; it was such a satisfying charm.
Then--there was her father.
Men who arrive anywhere in any direction always
have the habit of ignoring the nonessential more or less
strongly developed. One reason--perhaps the chief
reason--why Norman had got up to the high places
of material success at so early an age was that he
had an unerring instinct for the essential and wasted
no time or energy upon the nonessential. In his present
situation Dorothy's father, the abstracted man of
science, was one of the factors that obviously fell into
the nonessential class. Norman knew little about him,
and cared less. Also, he took care to avoid knowing
him. Knowing the father would open up possibilities
of discomfort-- But, being a wise young man, Norman
gave this matter the least possible thought.
Still, it was necessary that the two men see
something of each other. Hallowell discovered nothing
about Norman, not enough about his personal appearance
to have recognized him in the street far enough
away from the laboratory to dissociate the two ideas.
Human beings--except his daughter--did not interest
Hallowell; and his feeling for her was somewhat in the
nature of an abstraction. Norman, on the other hand,
was intensely interested in human beings; indeed, he
was interested in little else. He was always thrusting
through surfaces, probing into minds and souls. He
sought thoroughly to understand the living machines
he used in furthering his ambitions and desires. So it
was not long before he learned much about old Newton
Hallowell--and began to admire him--and with a man
of Norman's temperament to admire is to like.
He had assumed at the outset that the scientist was
more or less the crank. He had not talked with him
many times before he discovered that, far from being
in any respect a crank, he was a most able and wellbalanced
mentality--a genius. The day came when,
Dorothy not having returned from a shopping tour,
he lingered in the laboratory talking with the father,
or, rather, listening while the man of great ideas
unfolded to him conceptions of the world that set his
imagination to soaring.
Most of us see but dimly beyond the ends of our
noses, and visualize what lies within our range of sight
most imperfectly. We know little about ourselves, less
about others. We fancy that the world and the human
race always have been about as they now are, and always
will be. History reads to us like a fairy tale, to which
we give conventional acceptance as truth. As to the
future, we can conceive nothing but the continuation of
just what we see about us in the present. Norman,
practical man though he was, living in and for the
present, had yet an imagination. He thought Hallowell
a kind of fool for thinking only of the future and
working only for it--but he soon came to think him n
divine fool. And through Hallowell's spectacles he was
charmed for many an hour with visions of the world
that is to be when, in the slow but steady processes of
evolution, the human race will become intelligent, will
conquer the universe with the weapons of science and
will make it over.
When he first stated his projects to Norman, the
young man had difficulty in restraining his amusement.
A new idea, in any line of thought with which we are
not familiar, always strikes us as ridiculous. Norman
had been educated in the ignorant conventional way still
in high repute among the vulgar and among those whose
chief delight is to make the vulgar gape in awe. He
therefore had no science, that is, no knowledge--outside
his profession--but only what is called learning, though
tommyrot would be a fitter name for it. He had only
the most meager acquaintance with that great fundamental
of a sound and sane education, embryology. He
knew nothing of what science had already done to
destroy all the still current notions about the mystery of
life and birth. He still laughed, as at a clever bit of
legerdemain, when Hallowell showed him how far science
had progressed toward mastery of the life of the
lower forms of existence--how those "worms" could be
artificially created, could be aged, made young again,
made diseased and decrepit, restored to perfect health,
could be swung back and forth or sideways or sinuously
along the span of existence--could even be killed and
brought back to vigor.
"We've been at this sort of thing only a few
years," said Hallowell. "I rather think it will not be
many years now before we shall not even need the initial
germ of life to enable us to create but can do it by
pure chemical means, just as a taper is lighted by holding
a match to it."
Norman ceased to think of sleight-of-hand.
"Life," continued the juggler, transformed now into
practical man, leader of men, "life has been
demonstrated to be simply one of the forms of energy, or
one of the consequences of energy. The final discovery
is scientifically not far away. Then--" His eyes
lighted up.
"Then what?" asked Norman.
"Then immortality--in the body. Eternal youth
and health. A body that is renewable much as any of
our inanimate machines of the factory is renewable.
Why not? So far as we know, no living thing ever
dies except by violence. Disease--old age--they are
quite as much violence as the knife and the bullet. What
science can now do with these `worms,' as my daughter
calls them--that it will be able to do with the higher
"And the world would soon be jammed to the last
acre," objected Norman.
Hallowell shrugged his shoulders. "Not at all.
There will be no necessity to create new people, except
to take the place of those who may be accidentally
"But the world is dying--the earth, itself, I mean."
"True. But science may learn how to arrest that
cooling process--or to adapt man to it. Or, it may
be that when the world ceases to be inhabitable we shall
have learned how to cross the star spaces, as I think
I've suggested before. Then--we should simply find a
planet in its youth somewhere, and migrate to it, as a
man now moves to a new house when the old ceases
to please him."
"That is a long flight of the fancy," said Norman.
"Long--but no stronger than the telegraph or the
telephone. The trouble with us is that we have been
long stupefied by the ignorant theological ideas of the
universe--ideas that have come down to us from the
childhood of the race. We haven't got used to the new
era--the scientific era. And that is natural. Why,
until less than three generations ago there was really
no such thing as science."
"I hadn't thought of that," admitted Norman.
"We certainly have got on very fast in those three
"Rather fast. Not so fast, however, as we shall
in the next three. Science--chemistry--is going speedily
to change all the conditions of life because it will turn
topsy-turvy all the ways of producing things--food,
clothing, shelter. Less than two generations ago men
lived much as they had for thousands of years. But
it's very different to-day. It will be inconceivably
different to-morrow."
Norman could not get these ideas out of his brain.
He began to understand why Hallowell cared nothing
about the active life of the day--about its religion,
politics, modes of labor, its habits of one creature preying
upon another. To-morrow, not religion, not politics,
but chemistry, not priests nor politicians, but chemists,
would change all that--and change it by the only methods
that compel. An abstract idea of liberty or justice
can be rejected, evaded, nullified. But a telephone, a
steam engine, a mode of prolonging life--those realizations
of ideas COMPEL.
When Dorothy came, Norman went into the garden
with her in a frame of mind so different from any he
had ever before experienced that he scarcely recognized
himself. As the influence of the father's glowing
imagination of genius waned before the daughter's physical
loveliness and enchantment for him, he said to himself,
"I'll keep away from him." Why? He did not permit
himself to go on to examine into his reasons. But he
could not conceal them from himself quickly enough
to hide the knowledge that they were moral.
"What is the matter with you to-day?" said
Dorothy. "You are not a bit interesting."
"Interested, you mean," he said with a smile of
raillery, for he had long since discovered that she was
not without the feminine vanity that commands the
centering of all interest in the woman herself and
resents any wandering of thought as a slur upon her
own powers of fascination.
"Well, interested then," said she. "You are thinking
about something else."
"Not now," he assured her.
But he left early. No sooner had he got away from
the house than the scientific dreaming vanished and he
wished himself back with her again--back where every
glance at her gave him the most exquisite sensations.
And when he came the following day he apparently had
once more restored her father to his proper place of a
nonessential. All that definitely remained of the day
before's impression was a certain satisfaction that he
was aiding with his money an enterprise of greater
value and of less questionable character than merely his
own project. But the powerful influences upon our life
and conduct are rarely direct and definite. He, quite
unconsciously, had a wholly different feeling about
Dorothy because of her father, because of what his new
knowledge of and respect for her father had revealed
and would continue to reveal to him as to the girl
herself--her training, her inheritance, her character that
could not but be touched with the splendor of the father's
noble genius. And long afterward, when the father as
a distinct personality had been almost forgotten, Norman
was still, altogether unconsciously, influenced by
him--powerfully, perhaps decisively influenced. Norman
had no notion of it, but ever after that talk in the
laboratory, Dorothy Hallowell was to him Newton
Hallowell's daughter.
When he came the following day, with his original
purposes and plans once more intact, as he thought, he
found that she had made more of a toilet than usual,
had devised a new way of doing her hair that enabled
him to hang a highly prized addition in his memory gallery
of widely varied portraits of her.
The afternoon was warm. They sat under a big old
tree at the end of the garden. He saw that she was
much disturbed--and that it had to do with him. From
time to time she looked at him, studying his face when
she thought herself unobserved. As he had learned that
it is never wise to open up the disagreeable, he waited.
After making several futile efforts at conversation, she
abruptly said:
"I saw Mr. Tetlow this morning--in Twenty-third
Street. I was coming out of a chemical supplies store
where father had sent me."
She paused. But Norman did not help her. He
continued to wait.
"He--Mr. Tetlow--acted very strangely," she went
on. "I spoke to him. He stared at me as if he weren't
going to speak--as if I weren't fit to speak to."
"Oh!" said Norman.
"Then he came hurrying after me. And he said,
`Do you know that Norman is to be married in two
weeks?' "
"So!" said Norman.
"And I said, `What of it? How does that interest
me?' "
"It didn't interest you?"
"I was surprised that you hadn't spoken of it,"
replied she. "But I was more interested in Mr.
Tetlow's manner. What do you think he said next?"
"I can't imagine," said Norman.
"Why--that I was even more shameless than he
thought. He said: `Oh, I know all about you. I found
out by accident. I shan't tell anyone, for I can't help
loving you still. But it has killed my belief in woman
to find out that YOU would sell yourself.' "
She was looking at Norman with eyes large and
grave. "And what did you say?" he inquired.
"I didn't say anything. I looked at him as if he
weren't there and started on. Then he said, `When
Norman abandons you, as he soon will, you can count
on me, if you need a friend.' "
There was a pause. Then Norman said, "And
that was all?"
"Yes," replied she.
Another pause. Norman said musingly: "Poor
Tetlow! I've not seen him since he went away to
Bermuda--at least he said he was going there. One
day he sent the firm a formal letter of resignation. . . .
Poor Tetlow! Do you regret not having married him?"
"I couldn't marry a man I didn't love." She looked
at him with sweet friendly eyes. "I couldn't even
marry you, much as I like you."
Norman laughed--a dismal attempt at ease and
"When he told me about your marrying," she went
on, "I knew how I felt about you. For I was not a
bit jealous. Why haven't you ever said anything
about it?"
He disregarded this. He leaned forward and with
curious deliberateness took her hand. She let it lie
gently in his. He put his arm round her and drew
her close to him. She did not resist. He kissed her
upturned face, kissed her upon the lips. She remained
passive, looking at him with calm eyes.
"Kiss me," he said.
She kissed him--without hesitation and without
"Why do you look at me so?" he demanded.
"I can't understand."
"Understand what?"
"Why you should wish to kiss me when you love
another woman. What would she say if she knew?"
"I'm sure I don't know. And I rather think I don't
care. You are the only person on earth that interests me."
"Then why are you marrying?"
"Let's not talk about that. Let's talk about
ourselves." He clasped her passionately, kissed her at first
with self-restraint, then in a kind of frenzy. "How
can you be so cruel!" he cried. "Are you utterly
"I do not love you," she said.
"Why not?"
"There's no reason. I--just don't. I've sometimes
thought perhaps it was because you don't love me."
"Good God, Dorothy! What do you want me to
say or do?"
"Nothing," replied she calmly. "You asked me
why I didn't love you, and I was trying to explain.
I don't want anything more than I'm getting. I am
content--aren't you?"
"Content!" He laughed sardonically. "As well
ask Tantalus if he is content, with the water always
before his eyes and always out of reach. I want you
--all you have to give. I couldn't be content with less."
"You ought not to talk to me this way," she
reproved gently, "when you are engaged."
He flung her hand into her lap. "You are making
a fool of me. And I don't wonder. I've invited it.
Surely, never since man was created has there been
such another ass as I." He drew her to her feet, seized
her roughly by the shoulders. "When are you coming
to your senses?" he demanded.
"What do you mean?" she inquired, in her childlike
puzzled way.
He shook her, kissed her violently, held her at
arm's length. "Do you think it wise to trifle with
me?" he asked. "Don't your good sense tell you
there's a limit even to such folly as mine?"
"What IS the matter?" she asked pathetically.
"What do you want? I can't give you what I haven't
got to give."
"No," he cried. "But I want what you HAVE got
to give."
She shook her head slowly. "Really, I haven't, Mr.
He eyed her with cynical amused suspicion. "Why
did you call me MR. Norman just then? Usually you
don't call me at all. It's been weeks since you have
called me Mister. Was your doing it just then one of
those subtle, adroit, timely tricks of yours?"
She was the picture of puzzled innocence. "I don't
understand," she said.
"Well--perhaps you don't," said he doubtfully.
"At any rate, don't call me Mr. Norman. Call me
"I can't. It isn't natural. You seem Mister to
me. I always think of you as Mr. Norman."
"That's it. And it must stop!"
She smiled with innocent gayety. "Very well--
Fred. . . . Fred. . . . Now that I've said it, I don't find
it strange." She looked at him with an expression
between appeal and mockery. "If you'd only let me get
acquainted with you. But you don't. You make me
feel that I've got to be careful with you--that I must
be on my guard. I don't know against what--for you
are certainly the very best friend that I've ever had--
the only real friend."
He frowned and bit his lip--and felt uncomfortable,
though he protested to himself that he was simply
irritated at her slyness. Yes, it must be slyness.
"So," she went on, "there's no REASON for being
on guard. Still, I feel that way." She looked at him
with sweet gravity. "Perhaps I shouldn't if you didn't
talk about love to me and kiss me in a way I feel you've
no right to."
Again he laid his hands upon her shoulders. This
time he gazed angrily into her eyes. "Are you a fool?
Or are you making a fool of me?" he said. "I can't
decide which."
"I certainly am very foolish," was her apologetic
answer. "I don't know a lot of things, like you and
father. I'm only a girl."
And he had the maddening sense of being baffled
again--of having got nowhere, of having demonstrated
afresh to himself and to her his own weakness where she
was concerned. What unbelievable weakness! Had
there ever been such another case? Yes, there must
have been. How little he had known of the possibilities
of the relations of men and women--he who had
prided himself on knowing all!
She said, "You are going to marry?"
"I suppose so," replied he sourly.
"Are you worried about the expense? Is it costing
you too much, this helping father? Are you sorry you
went into it?"
He was silent.
"You are sorry?" she exclaimed. "You feel that
you are wasting your money?"
His generosity forbade him to keep up the pretense
that might aid him in his project. "No," he said
hastily. "No, indeed. This expense--it's nothing."
He flushed, hung his head in shame before his own
weakness, as he added, in complete surrender, "I'm very
glad to be helping your father."
"I knew you would be!" she cried triumphantly.
"I knew it!" And she flung her arms round his neck
and kissed him.
"That's better!" he said with a foolishly delighted
laugh. "I believe we are beginning to get acquainted."
"Yes, indeed. I feel quite different already."
"I hoped so. You are coming to your senses?"
"Perhaps. Only--" She laid a beautiful white
pleading hand upon his shoulder and gazed earnestly
into his eyes--"please don't frighten me with that talk
--and those other kisses."
He looked at her uncertainly. "Come round in
your own way," he said at last. "I don't want to
hurry you. I suppose every bird has its own way of
dropping from a perch."
"You don't like my way?" she inquired.
It was said archly but also in the way that always
made him vaguely uneasy, made him feel like one facing
a mystery which should be explored cautiously. "It
is graceful," he admitted, with a smile since he could
not venture to frown. "Graceful--but slow."
She laughed--and he could not but feel that the
greater laughter in her too innocent eyes was directed
at him. She talked of other things--and he let her--
charmed, yet cursing his folly, his slavery, the while.
MANY a time he had pitied a woman for letting him
get away from her, when she obviously wished to hold
him and failed solely because she did not understand
her business. Like every other man, he no sooner began
to be attracted by a woman than he began to invest her
with a mystery and awe which she either could
dissipate by forcing him to see the truth of her
commonplaceness or could increase into a power that would
enslave him by keeping him agitated and interested and
ever satisfied yet ever baffled. But no woman had shown
this supreme skill in the art of love--until Dorothy
Hallowell. She exasperated him. She fascinated him.
She kept him so restless that his professional work was
all but neglected. Was it her skill? Was it her folly?
Was she simply leading him on and on, guided blindly
by woman's instinct to get as much as she could and
to give as little as she dared? Or was she protected
by a real indifference to him--the strongest, indeed the
only invulnerable armor a woman can wear? Was she
protecting herself? Or was it merely that he, weakened
by his infatuation, was doing the protecting for
Beside these distracting questions, the once allimportant
matter of professional and worldly ambition
seemed not worth troubling about. They even so vexed
him that he had become profoundly indifferent as to
Josephine. He saw her rarely. When they were alone
he either talked neutral subjects or sat almost mute,
hardly conscious of her presence. He received her
efforts at the customary caressings with such stolidity
that she soon ceased to annoy him. They reduced their
outward show of affection to a kiss when they met,
another when they separated. He was tired--always tired
--worn out--half sick--harassed by business concerns.
He did not trouble himself about whether his listless
excuses would be accepted or not. He did not care what
she thought--or might think--or might do.
Josephine was typical of the women of the
comfortable class. For them the fundamentally vital
matters of life--the profoundly harassing questions of food,
clothing, and shelter--are arranged and settled. What
is there left to occupy their minds? Little but the idle
emotions they manufacture and spread foglike over
their true natures to hide the barrenness, the monotony.
They fool with phrases about art or love or religion
or charity--for none of those things can be vivid realities
to those who are swathed and stupefied in a luxury
they have not to take the least thought to provide for
themselves. Like all those women, Josephine fancied
herself complex--fancied she was a person of variety
and of depth because she repeated with a slight change
of wording the things she read in clever books or heard
from clever men. There seemed to Norman to be small
enough originality, personality, to the ordinary man
of the comfortable class; but there was some, because
his necessity of struggling with and against his fellow
men in the several arenas of active life compelled him to
be at least a little of a person. In the women there
seemed nothing at all--not even in Josephine. When
he listened to her, when he thought of her, now--he
was calmly critical. He judged her as a human
specimen--judged much as would have old Newton Hallowell
to whom the whole world was mere laboratory.
She bored him now--and he made no effort beyond
bare politeness to conceal the fact from her. The situation
was saved from becoming intolerable by that universal
saver of intolerable situations, vanity. She had
the ordinary human vanity. In addition, she had the
peculiar vanity of woman, the creation of man's
flatteries lavished upon the sex he alternately serves and
spurns. In further addition, she had the vanity of her
class--the comfortable class that feels superior to the
mass of mankind in fortune, in intellect, in taste, in
everything desirable. Heaped upon all these vanities
was her vanity of high social rank--and atop the whole
her vanity of great wealth. None but the sweetest and
simplest of human beings can stand up and remain
human under such a weight as this. If we are at all
fair in our judgments of our fellow men, we marvel
that the triumphant class--especially the women, whose
point of view is never corrected by the experiences of
practical life--are not more arrogant, more absurdly
forgetful of the oneness and the feebleness of humanity.
Josephine was by nature one of the sweet and simple
souls. And her love for Norman, after the habit of
genuine love, had destroyed all the instinct of coquetry.
The woman--or, the man--has to be indeed interesting,
indeed an individuality, to remain interesting when
sincerely in love, and so elevated above the petty but
potent sex trickeries. Josephine, deeply in love, was
showing herself to Norman in her undisguised natural
sweet simplicity--and monotony. But, while men
admire and reverence a sweet and simple feminine soul--
and love her in plays and between the covers of a book
and when she is talking highfaluting abstractions of
morality--and wax wroth with any other man who
ignores or neglects her--they do not in their own persons
become infatuated with her. Passion is too much
given to moods for that; it has a morbid craving for
variety, for the mysterious and the baffling.
The only thing that saves the race from ruin
through passion is the rarity of those by nature or by
art expert in using it. Norman felt that he was paying
the penalty for his persistent search for this rarity; one
of the basest tricks of destiny upon man is to give him
what he wants--wealth, or fame, or power, or the woman
who enslaves. Norman felt that destiny had suddenly
revealed its resolve to destroy him by giving him not
one of the things he wanted, but all.
The marriage was not quite two weeks away. About
the time that the ordinary plausible excuses for
Norman's neglect, his abstraction, his seeming indifference
were exhausted, Josephine's vanity came forward to
explain everything to her, all to her own glory. As the
elysian hour approached--so vanity assured her--the
man who loved her as her complex soul and many physical
and social advantages deserved was overcome with
that shy terror of which she had read in the poets and
the novelists. A large income, fashionable attire and
surroundings, a carriage and a maid--these things gave
a woman a subtle and superior intellect and soul. How?
Why? No one knew. But everyone admitted, indeed
saw, the truth. Further, these beings--these great
ladies--according to all the accredited poets, novelists,
and other final authorities upon life--always inspired
the most awed and worshipful and diffident feelings in
their lovers. Therefore, she--the great lady--was
getting but her due. She would have liked something else
--something common and human--much better. But,
having always led her life as the conventions dictated,
never as the common human heart yearned, she had no
keen sense of dissatisfaction to rouse her to revolt and
to question. Also, she was breathlessly busy with
trousseau and the other arrangements for the grand wedding.
One afternoon she telephoned Norman asking him
to come on his way home that evening. "I particularly
wish to see you," she said. He thought her voice
sounded rather queer, but he did not take sufficient
interest to speculate about it. When he was with her
in the small drawing room on the second floor, he noted
that her eyes were regarding him strangely. He
thought he understood why when she said:
"Aren't you going to kiss me, Fred?"
He put on his good-natured, slightly mocking smile.
"I thought you were too busy for that sort of thing
nowadays." And he bent and kissed her waiting lips.
Then he lit a cigarette and seated himself on the sofa
beside her--the sofa at right angles to the open fire.
"Well?" he said.
She gazed into the fire for full a minute before she
said in a voice of constraint, "What became of that--
that girl--the Miss Hallowell----"
She broke off abruptly. There was a pause choked
with those dizzy pulsations that fill moments of silence
and strain. Then with a sob she flung herself against
his breast and buried her face in his shoulder. "Don't
answer!" she cried. "I'm ashamed of myself. I'm
He put his arm about her shoulders. "But why
shouldn't I answer?" said he in the kindly gentle tone
we can all assume when a matter that agitates some one
else is wholly indifferent to us.
"Because--it was a--a trap," she answered
hysterically. "Fred--there was a man here this afternoon
--a man named Tetlow. He got in only because he
said he came from you."
Norman laughed quietly. "Poor Tetlow!" he said.
"He used to be your head clerk--didn't he?"
"And one of my few friends."
"He's not your friend, Fred!" she cried, sitting
upright and speaking with energy that quivered in her
voice and flashed in her fine brown eyes. "He's your
enemy--a snake in the grass--a malicious, poisonous----"
Norman's quiet, even laugh interrupted. "Oh, no,"
said he. "Tetlow's a good fellow. Anything he said
would be what he honestly believed--anything he said
about me."
"He pleaded that he was doing it for your good,"
she went on with scorn. "They always do--like the
people that write father wicked anonymous letters. He
--this man Tetlow--he said he wanted me for the sake
of my love for you to save you from yourself."
Norman glanced at her with amused eyes. "Well,
why don't you? But then you ARE doing it. You're
marrying me, aren't you?"
Again she put her head upon his shoulder. "Indeed
I am!" she cried. "And I'd be a poor sort if I
let a sneak shake my confidence in you."
He patted her shoulder, and there was laughter in
his voice as he said, "But I never professed to be
"Oh, I know you USED to--" She laughed and
kissed his cheek. "Never mind. I've heard. But while
you were engaged to me--about to marry me--why,
you simply couldn't!"
"Couldn't what?" inquired he.
"Do you want me to tell you what he said?"
"I think I know. But do as you like."
"Maybe I'd better tell you. I seem to want to get
rid of it."
"Then do."
"It was about that girl." She sat upright and
looked at him for encouragement. He nodded. She
went on: "He said that if I asked you, you would not
dare deny you were--were--giving her money."
"Her and her father."
She shrank, startled. Then her lips smiled bravely,
and she said, "He didn't say anything about her
"No. That was my own correction of his story."
She looked at him with wonder and doubt. "You
aren't--DOING it, Fred!" she exclaimed.
He nodded. "Yes, indeed." He looked at her
placidly. "Why not?"
"You are SUPPORTING her?"
"If you wish to put it that way," said he
carelessly. "My money pays the bills--all the bills."
"Yes? What is it? Why are you so agitated?"
He studied her face, then rose, took a final pull at the
cigarette, tossed it in the fire. "I must be going," he
said, in a cool, even voice.
She started up in a panic. "Fred! What do you
mean? Are you angry with me?"
His calm regard met hers. "I do not like--this
sort of thing," he said.
"But surely you'll explain. Surely I'm entitled to
an explanation."
"Why should I explain? You have evidently found
an explanation that satisfies you." He drew himself
up in a quiet gesture of haughtiness. "Besides, it has
never been my habit to allow myself to be questioned or
to explain myself."
Her eyes widened with terror. "Fred!" she
gasped. "What DO you mean?"
"Precisely what I say," said he, in the same cool,
inevitable way. "A man came to you with a story
about me. You listened. A sufficient answer to the
story was that I am marrying you. That answer
apparently does not content you. Very well. I shall
make no other."
She gazed at him uncertainly. She felt him going
--and going finally. She seized him with desperate
fingers, cried: "I AM content. Oh, Fred--don't frighten
me this way!"
He smiled satirically. "Are you afraid of the
scandal--because everything for the wedding has gone
so far?"
"How can you think that!" cried she--perhaps too
vigorously, a woman would have thought.
"What else is there for me to think? You certainly
haven't shown any consideration for me."
"But you told me yourself that you were false
to me."
"Really? When?"
She forgot her fear in a gush of rage rising from
sudden realization of what she was doing--of how
leniently and weakly and without pride she was dealing
with this man. "Didn't you admit----"
"Pardon me," said he, and his manner might well
have calmed the wildest tempest of anger. "I did not
admit. I never admit. I leave that to people of the
sort who explain and excuse and apologize. I simply
told you I was paying the expenses of a family named
"But WHY should you do it, Fred?"
His smile was gently satirical. "I thought Tetlow
told you why."
"I don't believe him!"
"Then why this excitement?"
One could understand how the opposition witnesses
dreaded facing him. "I don't know just why," she
stammered. "It seemed to me you were admitting--
I mean, you were confirming what that man accused
you of."
"And of what did he accuse me? I might say, of
what do YOU accuse me?" When she remained silent
he went on: "I am trying to be reasonable, Josephine.
I am trying to keep my temper."
The look in her eyes--the fear, the timidity--was
a startling revelation of character--of the cowardice
with which love undermines the strongest nature. "I
know I've been foolish and incoherent, Fred," she
pleaded. "But--I love you! And you remember how
I always was afraid of that girl."
"Just what do you wish to know?"
"Nothing, dear--nothing. I am not sillily jealous.
I ought to be admiring you for your generosity--your
"It's neither the one nor the other," said he with
exasperating deliberateness.
She quivered. "Then WHAT is it?" she cried.
"You are driving me crazy with your evasions."
Pleadingly, "You must admit they ARE evasions."
He buttoned his coat in tranquil preparation to
depart. She instantly took alarm. "I don't mean that.
It's my fault, not asking you straight out. Fred, tell
me--won't you? But if you are too cross with me,
then--don't tell me." She laughed nervously, hiding
her submission beneath a seeming of mocking exaggeration
of humility. "I'll be good. I'll behave."
A man who admired her as a figure, a man who liked
her, a man who had no feeling for her beyond the
general human feeling of wishing well pretty nearly
everybody--in brief, any man but one who had loved her
and had gotten over it would have deeply pitied and
sympathized with her. Fred Norman said, his look and
his tone coolly calm:
"I am backing Mr. Hallowell in a company for
which he is doing chemical research work. We are
hatching eggs, out of the shell, so to speak. Also we
are aging and rejuvenating arthropods and the like. So
far we have declared no dividends. But we have hopes."
She gave a hysterical sob of relief. "Then it's only
business--not the girl at all!"
"Oh, yes, it's the girl, too," replied he. "She's
an officer of the company. In fact, it was to make a
place for her that I went into the enterprise originally."
With an engaging air of frankness he inquired, "Anything more?"
She was gazing soberly, almost somberly, into the
fire. "You'll not be offended if I ask you one question?"
"Certainly not."
"Is there anything between you and--her?"
"You mean, am I having an affair with her?"
She hung her head, but managed to make a slight
nod of assent.
He laughed. "No." He laughed again. "No--
not thus far, my dear." He laughed a third time, with
still stronger and stranger mockery. "She congratulated
me on my engagement with a sincerity that would
have piqued a man who was interested in her."
"Will you forgive me?" Josephine said. "What
I've just been feeling and saying and putting you
through--it's beneath both of us. I suppose a woman
--no woman--can help being nasty where another woman
is concerned."
With his satirical good-humored smile, "I don't in
the least blame you."
"And you'll not think less of me for giving way
to a thing so vulgar?"
He kissed her with a carelessness that made her
wince But she felt that she deserved it--and was
grateful. He said: "Why don't you go over and see
for yourself? No doubt Tetlow gave you the address
--and no doubt you have remembered it."
She colored and hastily turned her head. "Don't
punish me," she pleaded.
"Punish you? What nonsense! . . . Do you want
me to take you over? The laboratory would interest
you--and Miss Hallowell is lovelier than ever. She
has an easier life now. Office work wears on women
Josephine looked at him with a beautiful smile of
love and trust. "You wish to be sure I'm cured. Well,
can't you see that I am?"
"I don't see why you should be. I've said nothing
one way or the other."
She laughed gayly. "You can't tempt me. I'm
really cured. I think the only reason I had the attack
was because Mr. Tetlow so evidently believed he was
speaking the truth."
"No doubt he did think he was. I'm sure, in the
same circumstances, I'd think of anyone else just what
he thinks of me."
"Then why do you do it, Fred?" urged she with
ill-concealed eagerness. "It isn't fair to the girl, is
"No one but you and Tetlow knows I'm doing it."
"You're mistaken there, dear. Tetlow says a great
many people down town are talking about it--that they
say you go almost every day to Jersey City to see her.
He accuses you of having ruined her reputation. He
says she is quite innocent. He blames the whole thing
upon you."
Norman, standing with arms folded upon his broad
chest, was gazing thoughtfully into the fire.
"You don't mind my telling you these things?" she
said anxiously. "Of course, I know they are lies----"
"So everyone is talking about it," interrupted he,
so absorbed that he had not heard her.
"You don't realize how conspicuous you are."
He shrugged his shoulders. "Well, it can't be
"You can't afford to be mixed up in a scandal," she
ventured, "or to injure a poor little creature-- I'm
afraid you'll have to--to stop it."
"Stop it." His eyes gleamed with mirth and something
else. "It isn't my habit to heed gossip."
"But think of HER, Fred!"
He smiled ironically. "What a generous, thoughtful
dear you are!" said he.
She blushed. "I'll admit I don't like it. I'm not
jealous--but I wish you weren't doing it."
"So do I!" he exclaimed, with sudden energy that
astonished and disquieted her. "So do I! But since
it can't be helped I shall go on."
Never had she respected him so profoundly. For
the first time she had measured strength with him and
had been beaten and routed. She fancied herself
enormously proud; for she labored under the common
delusion which mistakes for pride the silly vanity of class,
or birth, or wealth, or position. She had imagined she
would never lower that cherished pride of hers to any
man. And she had lowered it into the dust. No wonder
women had loved him, she said to herself; couldn't he
do with them, even the haughtiest of them, precisely as
he pleased? He had not tried to calm, much less to
end her jealousy; on the contrary, he had let it flame
as high as it would, had urged it higher. And she did
not dare ask him, even as a loving concession to her
weakness, to give up an affair upon which everybody
was putting the natural worst possible construction!
On the contrary, she had given him leave to go on--
because she feared--yes, knew--that if she tried to
interfere he would take it as evidence that they could
not get on together. What a man!
But there was more to come that day. As he was
finishing dressing for dinner his sister Ursula knocked.
"May I come, Frederick?" she said.
"Sure," he cried. "I'm fixing my tie."
Ursula, in a gown that displayed the last possible
--many of the homelier women said impossible--inch of
her beautiful shoulders, came strolling sinuously in and
seated herself on the arm of the divan. She watched
him, in his evening shirt, as he with much struggling
did his tie. "How young you do look, Fred!" said
she. "Especially in just that much clothes. Not a
day over thirty."
"I'm not exactly a nonogenarian," retorted he.
"But usually your face--in spite of its smoothness
and no wrinkles--has a kind of an old young--or do
I mean young old?--look. You've led such a serious
"Um. That's the devil of it."
"You're looking particularly young to-night."
"Same to you, Urse."
"No, I'm not bad for thirty-four. People half
believe me when I say I'm twenty-nine." She glanced
complacently down at her softly glistening shoulders.
"I've still got my skin."
"And a mighty good one it is. Best I ever saw--
except one."
She reflected a moment, then smiled. "I know it
isn't Josephine's. Hers is good but not notable. Eyes
and teeth are her strongholds. I suppose it's--the
other lady's."
"I mean the one in Jersey City."
He went on brushing his hair with not a glance at
the bomb she had exploded under his very nose.
"You're a cool one," she said admiringly.
"I thought you'd jump. I'm sure you never
dreamed I knew."
He slid into his white waistcoat and began to button it.
"Though you might know I'd find out," she went
on, "when everyone's talking."
"Everyone's always talking," said he indifferently.
"And they rattle on to beat the band when they
get a chance at a man like you. Do you know what
they're saying?"
"Certainly. Loosen these straps in the back of my
waistcoat--the upper ones, won't you?"
As she fussed with the buckles she said: "But you
don't know that they say you're going to pieces--
neglecting your cases--keeping away from your office
--wasting about half of your day with your lady love.
They say that you have gone stark mad--that you are
rushing to ruin."
"A little looser. That's better. Thanks."
"And everyone's wondering when Josephine will
hear and go on the rampage. She's so proud and so
stuck on herself that they're betting she'll give you
the bounce."
"Well--" getting into his coat--"you'd delight in
that. For you don't like her."
"Oh--so--so," replied Ursula. "She's all right,
as women go. You know we women don't ever think
any too well of each other. We're `on.' Now, I'm
frank to admit I'm not worth the powder to blow me
up. I can't do anything worth doing. I don't know
anything worth knowing--except how to dress and make
a fool of an occasional man. I'm not a good housekeeper,
nor a good wife--and I'd as lief go to jail for
two years as have a baby. But I admit I'm n. g.
Most women are as poor excuses as I am, yet they
think they're GRAND!"
Norman, standing before his sister and smiling
mysteriously, said: "My dear Urse, let me give you a great
truth in a sentence. The value of anything is not its
value to itself or in itself, but its value to some one else.
A woman--even as incompetent a person as you----"
"Or Josephine."
"--or Josephine--may seem to some man to be
pricelessly valuable. And if she happens to seem so to
him, why, she IS so."
"Meaning--Jersey City?"
His eyes glittered curiously. "Meaning Jersey
City," he said.
A long silence. Then Ursula: "But suppose
Josephine hears?"
He stood beside the doorway, waiting for her to
pass out. His face expressed nothing. "Let's go
down. I'm hungry. We were talking about it this
"You and Jo!"
"Josephine and I."
"And it's all right?"
"Why not?"
"You fooled her?"
"I don't stoop to that sort of thing."
"No, indeed," she laughed. "You rise to heights
of deception that would make anyone else giddy. Oh,
I'd give anything to have heard."
"There's nothing to deceive about," said he.
She shook her head. "You can't put it over me,
Fred. You've never before made a fool of yourself
about a woman. I'd like to see her. I suppose I'd
be amazed. I've observed that the women who do the
most extraordinary things with men are the most ordinary
sort of women."
"Not to the men," said he bitterly. "Not while
they're doing it."
"Does SHE seem extraordinary to YOU still?"
He thrust his hands deep in his pockets. "What
you heard is true. I'm letting everything slide--work
--career--everything. I think of nothing else. Ursula,
I'm mad about her--mad!"
She threw back her head, looked at him admiringly.
Never had she so utterly worshiped this wonderful,
powerful brother of hers. He was in love--really--
madly in love--at last. So he was perfect! "How
long do you think it will hold, Fred?" she said, all
"God knows!"
"Yet--caring for her you can go on and marry
another woman!"
He looked at his sister cynically. "You wouldn't
have me marry HER, would you?"
"Of course not," protested she hastily. Her
passion for romance did not carry her to that idiocy.
"You couldn't. She's a sort of working girl--isn't
she?--anyhow, that class. No, you couldn't marry
her. But how can you marry another woman?"
"How could I give up Josephine?--and give her
up probably to Bob Culver?"
Ursula nodded understandingly. "But--what are
you going to do?"
"How should I know? Perhaps break it off when
I marry--if you can call it breaking off, when there's
nothing to break but--me."
"You don't mean--" she cried, stopping when her
tone had carried her meaning.
He laughed. "Yes--that's the kind of damn fool
I've been."
"You must have let her see how crazy you were
about her."
"Was anyone ever able to hide that sort of insanity?"
Ursula gazed wonderingly at him, drew a long
breath. "You!" she exclaimed. "Of all men--you!"
"Let's go down."
"She must be a deep one--dangerous," said Ursula,
furious against the woman who was daring to resist her
matchless brother. "Fred, I'm wild to see her. Maybe
I'd see something that'd help cure you."
"You keep out of it," he replied, curtly but not
with ill humor.
"It can't last long."
"It'd do for me, if it did."
"The marriage will settle everything," said Ursula
with confidence.
"It's got to," said he grimly.
THE next day or the next but one Dorothy
telephoned him. He often called her up on one pretext
or another, or frankly for no reason at all beyond the
overwhelming desire to hear her voice. But she had
never before "disturbed" him. He had again and
again assured her that he would not regard himself
as "disturbed," no matter what he might be doing. She
would not have it so. As he was always watching for
some faint sign that she was really interested in him,
this call gave him a thrill of hope--a specimen of the
minor absurdities of those days of extravagant folly.
"Are you coming over to-day?" she asked.
"Right away, if you wish."
"Oh, no. Any time will do."
"I'll come at once. I'm not busy."
"No. Late this afternoon. Father asked me to
call up and make sure. He wants to see you."
"Oh--not you?"
"I'm a business person," retorted she. "I know
better than to annoy you, as I've often said."
He knew it was foolish, tiresome; yet he could not
resist the impulse to say, "Now that I've heard your
voice I can't stay away. I'll come over to lunch."
Her answering voice was irritated. "Please don't.
I'm cleaning house. You'd be in the way."
He shrank and quivered like a boy who has been
publicly rebuked. "I'll come when you say," he replied.
"Not a minute before four o'clock."
"That's a long time--now you've made me crazy
to see you."
"Don't talk nonsense. I must go back to work."
"What are you doing?" he asked, to detain her.
"Dusting and polishing. Molly did the sweeping
and is cleaning windows now."
"What have you got on?"
"How silly you are!"
"No one knows that better than I. But I want
to have a picture of you to look at."
"I've got on an old white skirt and an old shirt
waist, both dirty, and a pair of tennis shoes that were
white once but are gray now, where they aren't black.
And I've got a pink chiffon rag tied round my hair."
"Pink is wonderful when you wear it."
"I look a fright. And my face is streaked--and
my arms."
"Oh, you've got your sleeves rolled up. That's an
important detail."
"You're making fun of me."
"No, I'm thinking of your arms. They are--
"That's quite enough. Good-by."
And she rang off. He was used to her treating
compliment and flattery from him in that fashion. He
could not--or was it would not?--understand why. He
had learned that she was not at all the indifferent and
unaware person in the matter of her physical charms
he had at first fancied her. On the contrary, she had
more than her share of physical vanity--not more than
was her right, in view of her charms, but more than
she could carry off well. With many a secret smile he
had observed that she thought herself perfect
physically. This did not repel him; it never does repel
a man--when and so long as he is under the enchantment
of the charms the woman more or less exaggerates.
But, while he had often seen women with inordinate
physical vanity, so often that he had come
to regarding it as an essential part of feminine
character, never before had he seen one so content with
her own good opinion of herself that she was indifferent
to appreciation from others.
He did not go back to the office after lunch.
Several important matters were coming up; if he got within
reach they might conspire to make it impossible for
him to be with her on time. If his partners, his clients
knew! He the important man of affairs kneeling at
the feet of a nobody!--and why? Chiefly because he
was unable to convince her that he amounted to
anything. His folly nauseated him. He sat in a corner
in the dining room of the Lawyers' Club and drank
one whisky and soda after another and brooded over
his follies and his unhappiness, muttering monotonously
from time to time: "No wonder she makes a fool of
me. I invite it, I beg for it, damned idiot that I am!"
By three o'clock he had drunk enough liquor to have
dispatched the average man for several days. It had
produced no effect upon him beyond possibly a slight
aggravation of his moodiness.
It took only twenty minutes to get from New York
to her house. He set out at a few minutes after three;
arrived at twenty minutes to four. As experience of
her ways had taught him that she was much less friendly
when he disobeyed her requests, he did not dare go to
the house, but, after looking at it from a corner two
blocks away, made a detour that would use up some
of the time he had to waste. And as he wandered he
indulged in his usual alternations between self-derision
and passion. He appeared at the house at five minutes
to four. Patrick, who with Molly his wife looked after
the domestic affairs, was at the front gate gazing down
the street in the direction from which he always came.
At sight of him Pat came running. Norman quickened
his pace, and every part of his nervous system was in
"Mr. Hallowell--he's--DEAD," gasped Pat.
"Dead?" echoed Norman.
"Three quarters of an hour ago, sir. He came
from the lobatry, walked in the sitting room where Miss
Dorothy was oiling the furniture and I was oiling the
floor. And he sets down--and he looks at her--as cool
and calm as could be--and he says, `Dorothy, my child,
I'm dying.' And she stands up straight and looks at
him curious like--just curious like. And he says,
`Dorothy, good-by.' And he shivers, and I jumps up just
in time to catch him from rolling to the floor. He
was dead then--so the doctor says."
"Dead!" repeated Norman, looking round vaguely.
He went on to the house, Pat walking beside him
and chattering on and on--a stream of words Norman
did not hear. As he entered the open front door Dorothy
came down the stairs. He had thought he knew
how white her skin was. But he did not know until
then. And from that ghostly pallor looked the eyes of
grief beyond tears. He advanced toward her. But she
seemed to be wrapped in an atmosphere of aloofness.
He felt himself a stranger and an alien. After a brief
silence she said: "I don't realize it. I've been upstairs
where Pat carried him--but I don't realize it. It simply
can't be."
"Do you know what he wished to say to me?" he
"No. I guess he felt this coming. Probably it
came quicker than he expected. Now I can see that
he hasn't been well for several days. But he would
never let anything about illness be said. He thought
talking of those things made them worse."
"You have relatives--somebody you wish me to telegraph?"
She shook her head. "No one. Our relatives out
West are second cousins or further away. They care
nothing about us. No, I'm all alone."
The tears sprang to his eyes. But there were no
tears in her eyes, no forlornness in her voice. She was
simply stating a fact. He said: "I'll look after
everything. Don't give it a moment's thought."
"No, I'll arrange," replied she. "It'll give me
something to do--something to do for him. You see,
it's my last chance." And she turned to ascend the
stairs. "Something to do," she repeated dully. "I
wish I hadn't cleaned house this morning. That would
be something more to do."
This jarred on him--then brought the tears to his
eyes again. How childish she was!--and how desolate!
"But you'll let me stay?" he pleaded. "You'll need
me. At any rate, I want to feel that you do."
"I'd rather you didn't stay," she said, in the same
calm, remote way. "I'd rather be alone with him, this
last time. I'll go up and sit there until they take
him away. And then--in a few days I'll see what to do
--I'll send for you."
"I can't leave you at such a time," he cried. "You
haven't realized yet. When you do you will need some
"You don't understand," she interrupted. "He
and I understood each other in some ways. I know he'd
not want--anyone round."
At her slight hesitation before "anyone" he winced.
"I must be alone with him," she went on. "Thank
you, but I want to go now."
"Not just yet," he begged. Then, seeing the
shadow of annoyance on her beautiful white face, he
rose and said: "I'm going. I only want to help you."
He extended his hand impulsively, drew it back before
she had the chance to refuse it. For he felt that she
would refuse it. He said, "You know you can rely
on me."
"But I don't need anybody," replied she. "Good-by."
"If I can do anything----"
"Pat will telephone." She was already halfway
He found Pat in the front yard, and arranged with
him to get news and to send messages by way of the
drug store at the corner, so that she would know nothing
about it. He went to a florist's in New York and
sent masses of flowers. And then--there was nothing
more to do. He stopped in at the club and drank and
gambled until far into the morning. He fretted gloomily
about all the next day, riding alone in the Park,
driving with his sister, drinking and gambling at the
club again and smiling cynically to himself at the covert
glances his acquaintances exchanged. He was growing
used to those glances. He cared not the flip of a penny
for them.
On the third day came the funeral, and he went. He
did not let his cabman turn in behind the one carriage
that followed the hearse. At the graveyard he stood
afar off, watching her in her simple new black, noting
her calm. She seemed thinner, but he thought it might
be simply her black dress. He could see no change in
her face. As she was leaving the grave, she looked in
his direction but he was uncertain whether she had
seen him. Pat and Molly were in the big, gloomy looking
carriage with her.
He ventured to go to the front gate an hour later.
Pat came out. "It's no use to go in, Mr. Norman,"
he said. "She'll not see you. She's shut up in her
own room."
"Hasn't she cried yet, Pat?"
"Not yet. We're waiting for it, sir. We're afraid
her mind will give way. At least, Molly is. I don't
think so. She's a queer young lady--as queer as she
looks--though at first you'd never think it. She's
always looking different. I never seen so many persons
in one."
"Can't Molly MAKE her cry?--by talking about
"She's tried, sir. It wasn't no use. Why, Miss
Dorothy talks about him just as if he was still here."
Pat wiped the sweat from his forehead. "I've been in
many a house of mourning, but never through such a
strain as this. Somehow I feel as if I'd never before
been round where there was anyone that'd lost somebody
they REALLY cared about. Weeping and moaning
don't amount to much beside what she's doing."
Norman stayed round for an hour or more, then
rushed away distracted. He drank like a madman--
drank himself into a daze, and so got a few hours of
a kind of sleep. He was looking haggard and wild
now, and everyone avoided him, though in fact there
was not the least danger of an outburst of temper. His
sister--Josephine--the office--several clients telephoned
for him. To all he sent the same refusal--that he was
too ill to see anyone. Not until the third day after the
funeral did Dorothy telephone for him.
He took an ice-cold bath, got himself together as
well as he could, and reached the house in Jersey City
about half past three in the afternoon. She came gliding
into the room like a ghost, trailing a black negligee
that made the whiteness of her skin startling. Her eyelids
were heavy and dark, but unreddened. She gazed
at him with calm, clear melancholy, and his heart
throbbed and ached for her. She seated herself, clasped
her hands loosely in her lap, and said:
"I've sent for you so that I could settle things up."
"Your father's affairs? Can't I do it better?"
"He had arranged everything. There are only the
papers--his notes--and he wrote out the addresses of
the men they were to be sent to. No, I mean settle
things up with you."
"You mustn't bother about that," said he.
"Besides, there's nothing to settle."
"I shan't pretend I'm going to try to pay you
back," she went on, as if he had not spoken. "I never
could do it. But you will get part at least by selling
this furniture and the things at the laboratory."
"Dorothy--please," he implored. "Don't you
understand you're to stay on here, just the same? What
sort of man do you think I am? I did this for you,
and you know it."
"But I did it for my father," replied she, "and
he's gone." She was resting her melancholy gaze upon
him. "I couldn't take anything from you. You didn't
think I was that kind?"
He was silent.
"I cared nothing about the scandal--what people
said--so long as I was doing it for him. . . . I'd have
done ANYTHING for him. Sometimes I thought you were
going to compel me to do things I'd have hated to do.
I hope I wronged you, but I feared you meant that."
She sat thinking several minutes, sighed wearily. "It's
all over now. It doesn't matter. I needn't bother
about it any more."
"Dorothy, let's not talk of these things now," said
Norman. "There's no hurry. I want you to wait until
you are calm and have thought everything over. Then
I'm sure you'll see that you ought to stay on."
"How could I?" she asked wonderingly.
"Why not? Am I demanding anything of you?
You know I'm not--and that I never shall."
"But there's no reason on earth why YOU should
support ME. I can work. Why shouldn't I? And if
I didn't, if I stayed on here, what sort of woman would
I be?"
He was unable to find an answer. He was trying
not to see a look in her face--or was it in her soul,
revealed through her eyes?--a look that made him think
for the first time of a resemblance between her and her
"You see yourself I've got to go. Any money I
could earn wouldn't more than pay for a room and
board somewhere."
"You can let me advance you money while you--"
He hesitated, had an idea which he welcomed eagerly--
"while you study for the stage. Yes, that's the sensible
thing. You can learn to act. Then you will be able to
make a decent living."
She slowly shook her head. "I've no talent for it
--and no liking. No, Mr. Norman, I must go back to
work--and right away."
"But at least wait until you've looked into the stage
business," he urged. "You may find that you like it
and that you have talent for it."
"I can't take any more from you," she said.
"You think I am not to be trusted. I'm not going
to say now how I feel toward you. But I can honestly
say one thing. Now that you are all alone and
unprotected, you needn't have the least fear of me."
She smiled faintly. "I see you don't believe me.
Well, it doesn't matter. I've seen Mr. Tetlow and he
has given me a place at twelve a week in his office."
Norman sank back in his chair. "He is in for
himself now?"
"No. He's head clerk for Pitchley & Culver."
"Culver!" exclaimed Norman. "I don't want you
to go into Culver's office. He's a scoundrel."
Again Dorothy smiled faintly. Norman colored.
"I know he stands well--as well as I do. But I can't
trust you with him. That sounds ridiculous but--it's
"I think I can trust myself," she said quietly. Her
grave regard fixed his. "Don't you?" she asked.
His eyes lowered. "Yes," he replied. "But--why
shouldn't you come back with us? I'll see that you get
a much better position than Culver's giving you."
Over her face crept one of those mysterious
transformations that made her so bafflingly fascinating to
him. Behind that worldly-wise, satirical mask was she
mocking at him? All she said was: "I couldn't work
there. I've settled it with Mr. Tetlow. I go to work
"To-morrow!" he cried, starting up.
"And I've found a place to live. Pat and Molly;
will take care of things for you here."
"Dorothy! You don't MEAN this? You're not
going to break off?"
"I shan't see you again--except as we may meet
by accident."
"Do you realize what you're saying means to me?"
he cried. "Don't you know how I love you?" He
advanced toward her. She stood and waited passively,
looking at him. "Dorothy--my love--do you want
to kill me?"
"When are you to be married?" she asked quietly.
"You are playing with me!" he cried. "You are
tormenting me. What have I ever done that you should
treat me this way?" He caught her unresisting hands
and kissed them. "Dear--my dear--don't you care for
me at all?"
"No," she said placidly. "I've always told you so."
He seized her in his arms, kissed her with a frenzy
that was savage, ferocious. "You will drive me mad.
You HAVE driven me mad!" he muttered. And he added,
unconscious that he was speaking his thoughts, so
distracted was he: "You MUST love me--you MUST! No
woman has ever resisted me. You cannot."
She drew herself away from him, stood before him
like snow, like ice. "One thing I have never told you.
I'll tell you now," she said deliberately. "I despise
He fell back a step and the chill of her coldness
seemed to be freezing the blood in his veins.
"I've always despised you," she went on, and he
shivered before that contemptuous word--it seemed only
the more contemptuous for her calmness. "Sometimes
I've despised you thoroughly--again only a little--but
always that feeling."
For a moment he thought she had at last stung his
pride into the semblance of haughtiness. He was able
to look at her with mocking eyes and to say, "I
congratulate you on your cleverness in concealing your
"It wasn't my cleverness," she said wearily. "It
was your blindness. I never deceived you."
"No, you never have," he replied sincerely.
"Perhaps I deserve to be despised. Again, perhaps if you
knew the world--the one I live in--better, you'd think
less harshly of me."
"I don't think harshly of you. How could I--
after all you did for my father?"
"Dorothy, if you'll stay here and study for the
stage--or anything you choose--I promise you I'll
never speak of my feeling for you--or show it in any
way--unless you yourself give me leave."
She smiled with childlike pathos. "You ought not
to tempt me. Do you want me to keep on despising
you? Can't you ever be fair with me?"
The sad, frank gentleness of the appeal swung his
unhinged mind to the other extreme--from the savagery
of passion to a frenzy of remorse. "Fair to YOU?
No," he cried, "because I love you. Oh, I'm ashamed
--bitterly ashamed. I'm capable of any baseness to
get you. You're right. You can't trust me. In going
you're saving me from myself." He hesitated, stared
wildly, appalled at the words that were fighting for
utterance--the words about marriage--about marrying
her! He said hoarsely: "I am mad--mad! I don't
know what I'm saying. Good-by-- For God's sake,
don't think the worst of me, Dorothy. Good-by. I
WILL be a man again--I will!"
And he wrung her hand and, talking incoherently,
he rushed from the room and from the house.
HE went straight home and sought his sister. She
had that moment come in from tea after a matinee.
She talked about the play--how badly it was acted--
and about the women she had seen at tea--how badly
dressed they were. "It's hard to say which is the
more dreadful--the ugly, misshapen human race without
clothes or in the clothes it insists on wearing. And
the talk at that tea! Does no one ever say a pleasant
thing about anyone? Doesn't anyone ever do a pleasant
thing that can be spoken about? I read this morning
Tolstoy's advice about resolving to think all day only
nice thoughts and sticking to it. That sounded good
to me, and I decided to try it." Ursula laughed and
squirmed about in her tight-fitting dress that made an
enchanting display of her figure. "What is one to do?
_I_ can't be a fraud, for one. And if I had stuck to my
resolution I'd have spent the day in lying. What's
the matter, Fred?" Now that her attention was
attracted she observed more closely. "What HAVE you
been doing? You look--frightful!"
"I've broken with her," replied he.
"With Jo?" she cried. "Why, Fred, you can't
--you can't--with the wedding only five days away!"
"Not with Jo."
Ursula breathed noisy relief. She said cheerfully:
"Oh--with the other. Well, I'm glad it's over."
"Over?" said he sardonically. "Over? It's only
"But you'll stick it out, Fred. You've made a fool
of yourself long enough. What was the girl playing
for? Marriage?"
He nodded. "I guess so." He laughed curtly.
"And she almost won."
Ursula smiled with fine mockery. "Almost, but not
quite. I know you men. Women do that sort of fool
thing. But men--never--at least not the ambitious,
snobbish New York men."
"She almost won," he repeated. "At least, I
almost did it. If I had stayed a minute longer I'd have
done it."
"You like to think you would," mocked Ursula.
"But if you had tried to say the words your lungs
would have collapsed, your vocal chords snapped and
your tongue shriveled."
"I am not so damn sure I shan't do it yet," he burst
out fiercely.
"But I am," said Ursula, calm, brisk, practical.
"What's she going to do?"
"Going to work."
Ursula laughed joyously. "What a joke! A woman
go to work when she needn't!"
"She is going to work."
"To work another man."
"She meant it."
"How easily women fool men!--even the wise men
like you."
"She meant it."
"She still hopes to marry you--or she has heard
of your marriage----"
Norman lifted his head. Into his face came the
cynical, suspicious expression.
"And has fastened on some other man. Or perhaps
she's found some good provider who's willing to marry
Norman sprang up, his eyes blazing, his mouth
working cruelly. "By God!" he cried. "If I thought
His sister was alarmed. Such a man--in such a
delirium--might commit any absurdity. He flung himself
down in despair. "Urse, why can't I get rid of
this thing? It's ruining me. It's killing me!"
"Your good sense tells you if you had her you'd
be over it--" She snapped her fingers--"like that."
"Yes--yes--I know it! But--" He groaned--
"she has broken with me."
Ursula went to him and kissed him and took his
head in her arms. "What a BOY-boy it is!" she said
tenderly. "Oh, it must be dreadful to have always
had whatever one wanted and then to find something
one can't have. We women are used to it--and the
usual sort of man. But not your sort, Freddy--and
I'm so sorry for you."
"I want her, Urse--I want her," he groaned, and
he was almost sobbing. "My God, I CAN'T get on
without her."
"Now, Freddy dear, listen to me. You know she's
'way, 'way beneath you--that she isn't at all what
you've got in the habit of picturing her--that it's all
delusion and nonsense----"
"I want her," he repeated. "I want her."
"You'd be ashamed if you had her as a wife--
wouldn't you?"
He was silent.
"She isn't a LADY."
"I don't know," replied he.
"She hasn't any sense. A low sort of cunning,
yes. But not brains--not enough to hold you."
"I don't know," replied he. "She's got enough for
a woman. And--I WANT her."
"She isn't to be compared with Josephine."
"But I don't want Josephine. I want HER."
"But which do you want to MARRY?--to bring
forward as your wife?--to spend your life with?"
"I know. I'm a mad fool. But, Urse, I can't help
it." He stood up suddenly. "I've used every weapon
I've got. Even pride--and it skulked away. My
sense of humor--and it weakened. My will--and it
"Is she so wonderful?"
"She is so--elusive. I can't understand her--I
can't touch her. I can't find her. She keeps me going
like a man chasing an echo."
"Like a man chasing an echo," repeated Ursula
reflectively. "I understand. It is maddening. She must
be clever--in her way."
"Or very simple. God knows which; I don't--and
sometimes I think she doesn't, either." He made a
gesture of dismissal. "Well, it's finished. I must pull
myself together--or try to."
"You will," said his sister confidently. "A
fortnight from now you'll be laughing at yourself."
"I am now. I have been all along. But--it does
no good."
She had to go and dress. But she could not leave
until she had tried to make him comfortable. He was
drinking brandy and soda and staring at his feet which
were stretched straight out toward the fire. "Where's
your sense of humor?" she demanded. "Throw yourself
on your sense of humor. It's a friend that sticks
when all others fail."
"It's my only hope," he said with a grim smile. "I
can see myself. No wonder she despises me."
"Despises you?" scoffed Ursula. "A WOMAN despise
YOU! She's crazy about you, I'll bet anything you
like. Before you're through with this you'll find out
I'm right. And then--you'll have no use for her."
"She despises me."
"Well--what of it? Really, Fred, it irritates me
to see you absolutely unlike yourself. Why, you're as
broken-spirited as a henpecked old husband."
"Just that," he admitted, rising and looking drearily
about. "I don't know what the devil to do next.
Everything seems to have stopped."
"Going to see Josephine this evening?"
"I suppose so," was his indifferent reply.
"You'll have to dress after dinner. There's no
time now."
"Dress?" he inquired vaguely. "Why dress?
Why do anything?"
She thought he would not go to Josephine but
would hide in his club and drink. But she was mistaken.
Toward nine o'clock he, in evening dress, with the
expression of a horse in a treadmill, rang the bell of
Josephine's house and passed in at the big bronze doors.
The butler must have particularly admired the way he
tossed aside his coat and hat. As soon as he was in
the presence of his fiancee he saw that she was again in
the throes of some violent agitation.
She began at once: "I've just had the most frightful
scene with father," she said. "He's been hearing
a lot of stuff about you down town and it set him wild."
"Do you mind if I smoke a cigar?" said he, looking
at her unseeingly with haggard, cold eyes. "And
may I have some whisky?"
She rang. "I hope the servants didn't hear him,"
she said. Then, as a step sounded outside she put on
an air of gayety, as if she were still laughing at some
jest he had made. In the doorway appeared her father
one of those big men who win half the battle in
advance on personal appearance of unconquerable might.
Burroughs was noted for his generosity and for his
violent temper. As a rule men of the largeness necessary
to handling large affairs are free from petty vindictiveness.
They are too busy for hatred. They do not
forgive; they are most careful not to forget; they
simply stand ready at any moment to do whatever it
is to their interest to do, regardless of friendships or
animosities. Burroughs was an exception in that he
got his highest pleasure out of pursuing his enemies.
He enjoyed this so keenly that several times--so it was
said--he had sacrificed real money to satisfy a revenge.
But these rumors may have wronged him. It is hardly
probable that a man who would let a weakness carry
him to that pitch of folly could have escaped destruction.
For of all the follies revenge is the most dangerous--
as well as the most fatuous.
Burroughs had a big face. Had he looked less
powerful the bigness of his features, the spread of cheek
and jowl, would have been grotesque. As it was, the
face was impressive, especially when one recalled how
many, many millions he owned and how many more he
controlled. The control was better than the ownership.
The millions he owned made him a coward--he was
afraid he might lose them. The millions he controlled,
and of course used for his own enrichment, made him
brave, for if they were lost in the daring ventures in
which he freely staked them, why, the loss was not his,
and he could shift the blame. Usually Norman treated
him with great respect, for his business gave the firm
nearly half its total income, and it was his daughter and
his wealth, prestige and power, that Norman was marrying.
But this evening he looked at the great man
with a superciliousness that was peculiarly disrespectful
from so young a man to one well advanced toward
old age. Norman had been feeling relaxed, languid,
exhausted. The signs of battle in that powerful face
nerved him, keyed him up at once. He waited with a
joyful impatience while the servant was bringing cigars
and whisky. The enormous quantities of liquor he had
drunk in the last few days had not been without effect.
Alcohol, the general stimulant, inevitably brings out
in strong relief a man's dominant qualities. The
dominant quality of Norman was love of combat.
"Josephine tells me you are in a blue fury," said
Norman pleasantly when the door was closed and the
three were alone. "No--not a blue fury. A black
At the covert insolence of his tone Josephine became
violently agitated. "Father," she said, with the
imperiousness of an only and indulged child, "I have asked
you not to interfere between Fred and me. I thought
I had your promise."
"I said I'd think about it," replied her father. He
had a heavy voice that now and then awoke some string
of the lower octaves of the piano in the corner to a
dismal groan. "I've decided to speak out."
"That's right, sir," said Norman. "Is your quarrel
with me?"
Josephine attempted an easy laugh. "It's that silly
story we were talking about the other day, Fred."
"I supposed so," said he. "You are not smoking,
Mr. Burroughs--" He laughed amiably--"at least
not a cigar."
"The doctor only allows me one, and I've had it,"
replied Burroughs, his eyes sparkling viciously at this
flick of the whip. "What is the truth about that business,
Norman's amused glance encountered the savage
glare mockingly. "Why do you ask?" he inquired.
"Because my daughter's happiness is at stake.
Because I cannot but resent a low scandal about a man
who wishes to marry my daughter."
"Very proper, sir," said Norman graciously.
"My daughter," continued Burroughs with accelerating
anger, "tells me you have denied the story."
{illust. caption = " `Father . . . I have asked you not to
interfere between
Fred and me.' "}
Norman interrupted with an astonished look at
Josephine. She colored, gazed at him imploringly. His
face terrified her. When body and mind are in health
and at rest the fullness of the face hides the character
to a great extent. But when a human being is sick or
very tired the concealing roundness goes and in the
clearly marked features the true character is revealed.
In Norman's face, haggard by his wearing emotions, his
character stood forth--the traits of strength, of
tenacity, of inevitable purpose. And Josephine saw and
"But," Burroughs went on, "I have it on the best
authority that it is true."
Norman, looking into the fascinating face of danger,
was thrilled. "Then you wish to break off the engagement?"
he said in the gentlest, smoothest tone.
Burroughs brought his fist down on the table--and
Norman recognized the gesture of the bluffer. "I wish
you to break off with that woman!" he cried. "I
insist upon it--upon positive assurances from you."
"Fred!" pleaded Josephine. "Don't listen to him.
Remember, I have said nothing."
He had long been looking for a justifying grievance
against her. It now seemed to him that he had
found it. "Why should you?" he said genially but
with subtle irony, "since you are getting your father
to speak for you."
There was just enough truth in this to entangle her
and throw her into disorder. She had been afraid of
the consequences of her father's interfering with a man
so spirited as Norman, but at the same time she had
longed to have some one put a check upon him. Norman's
suave remark made her feel that he could see into
her inmost soul--could see the anger, the jealousy, the
doubt, the hatred-tinged love, the love-saturated hate
seething and warring there.
Burroughs was saying: "If we had not committed
ourselves so deeply, I should deal very differently with
this matter."
"Why should that deter you?" said Norman--and
Josephine gave a piteous gasp. "If this goes much
farther, I assure you I shall not be deterred."
Burroughs, firmly planted in a big leather chair,
looked at the young man in puzzled amazement. "I
see you think you have us in your power," he said at
last. "But you are mistaken."
"On the contrary," rejoined the young man, "I
see you believe you have me in your power. And in a
sense you are NOT mistaken."
"Father, he is right," cried Josephine agitatedly.
"I shouldn't love and respect him as I do if he would
submit to this hectoring."
"Hectoring!" exclaimed Burroughs. "Josephine,
leave the room. I cannot discuss this matter properly
before you."
"I hope you will not leave, Josephine," said Norman.
"There is nothing to be said that you cannot
and ought not to hear."
"I'm not an infant, father," said Josephine.
"Besides, it is as Fred says. He has done nothing--
"Then why does he not say so?" demanded
Burroughs, seeing a chance to recede from his former too
advanced position. "That's all I ask."
"But I told you all about it, father," said Josephine
angrily. "They've been distorting the truth, and the
truth is to his credit."
Norman avoided the glance she sent to him; it was
only a glance and away, for more formidably than ever
his power was enthroned in his haggard face. He
stood with his back to the fire and it was plain that
the muscles of his strong figure were braced to give
and to receive a shock. "Mr. Burroughs," he said,
"your daughter is mistaken. Perhaps it is my fault
--in having helped her to mislead herself. The plain
truth is, I have become infatuated with a young woman.
She cares nothing about me--has repulsed me. I have
been and am making a fool of myself about her. I've
been hoping to cure myself. I still hope. But I am
not cured."
There was absolute silence in the room. Norman
stole a glance at Josephine. She was sitting erect, a
greenish pallor over her ghastly face.
He said: "If she will take me, now that she knows
the truth, I shall be grateful--and I shall make what
effort I can to do my best."
He looked at her and she at him. And for an
instant her eyes softened. There was the appeal of weak
human heart to weak human heart in his gaze. Her lip
quivered. A brief struggle between vanity and love--
and vanity, the stronger, the strongest force in her life,
dominating it since earliest babyhood and only seeming
to give way to love when love came--it was vanity that
won. She stiffened herself and her mouth curled with
proud scorn. She laughed--a sneer of jealous rage.
"Father," she said, "the lady in the case is a common
typewriter in his office."
But to men--especially to practical men--
differences of rank and position among women are not
fundamentally impressive. Man is in the habit of taking what
he wants in the way of womankind wherever he finds it,
and he understands that habit in other men. He was
furious with Norman, but he did not sympathize with
his daughter's extreme attitude. He said to Norman
"You say you have broken with the woman?"
"She has broken with me," replied Norman.
"At any rate, everything is broken off."
"Then there is no reason why the marriage should
not go on." He turned to his daughter. "If you
understood men, you would attach no importance to this
matter. As you yourself said, the woman isn't a lady
--isn't in our class. That sort of thing amounts to
nothing. Norman has acted well. He has shown the
highest kind of honesty--has been truthful where most
men would have shifted and lied. Anyhow, things have
gone too far." Not without the soundest reasons had
Burroughs accepted Norman as his son-in-law; and he
had no fancy for giving him up, when men of his
pre-eminent fitness were so rare.
There was another profound silence. Josephine
looked at Norman. Had he returned her gaze, the event
might have been different; for within her there was
now going on a struggle between two nearly evenly
matched vanities--the vanity of her own outraged pride
and the vanity of what the world would say and think,
if the engagement were broken off at that time and in
those circumstances. But he did not look at her. He
kept his eyes fixed upon the opposite wall, and there
was no sign of emotion of any kind in his stony
features. Josephine rose, suppressed a sob, looked
arrogant scorn from eyes shining with tears--tears of selfpity.
"Send him away, father," she said. "He has
tried to degrade ME! I am done with him." And she
rushed from the room, her father half starting from
his chair to detain her.
He turned angrily on Norman. "A hell of a mess
you've made!" he cried.
"A hell of a mess," replied the young man.
"Of course she'll come round. But you've got to
do your part."
"It's settled," said Norman. And he threw his
cigar into the fireplace. "Good night."
"Hold on!" cried Burroughs. "Before you go,
you must see Josie alone and talk with her."
"It would be useless," said Norman. "You know
Burroughs laid his hand friendlily but heavily upon
the young man's shoulder. "This outburst of nonsense
might cost you two young people your happiness
for life. This is no time for jealousy and false pride.
Wait a moment."
"Very well," said Norman. "But it is useless."
He understood Josephine now--he who had become a
connoisseur of love. He knew that her vanity-founded
love had vanished.
Burroughs disappeared in the direction his daughter
had taken. Norman waited several minutes--long
enough slowly to smoke a cigarette. Then he went into
the hall and put on his coat with deliberation. No one
appeared, not even a servant. He went out into the
In the morning papers he found the announcement
of the withdrawal of the invitations--and from half a
column to several columns of comment, much of it
extremely unflattering to him.
WHEN a "high life" engagement such as that of
Norman and Miss Burroughs, collapses on the eve of
the wedding, the gossip and the scandal, however great,
are but a small part of the mess. Doubtless many a
marriage--and not in high life alone, either--has been
put through, although the one party or the other or
both have discovered that disaster was inevitable--solely
because of the appalling muddle the sensible course
would precipitate. In the case of the Norman-Burroughs
fiasco, there were--to note only a few big items
--such difficulties as several car loads of presents from
all parts of the earth to be returned, a house furnished
throughout and equipped to the last scullery maid and
stable boy to be disposed of, the entire Burroughs
domestic economy which had been reconstructed to be
put back upon its former basis.
It is not surprising that, as Ursula Fitzhugh was
credibly informed, Josephine almost decided to send for
Bob Culver and marry him on the day before the day
appointed for her marriage to Fred. The reason given
for her not doing this sounded plausible. Culver,
despairing of making the match on which his ambition--
and therefore his heart was set--and seeing a chance to
get suddenly rich, had embarked for a career as a blackmailer
of corporations. That is, he nosed about for a
big corporation stealthily doing or arranging to do
some unlawful but highly profitable acts; he bought a
few shares of its stock, using a fake client as a blind; he
then proceeded to threaten it with exposure, expensive
hindrances and the like, unless it bought him off at a
huge profit to himself. This business was regarded as
most disreputable and--thanks to the power of the big
corporations over the courts--had resulted in the sending
of several of its practisers to jail or on hasty journeys
to foreign climes. But Culver, almost if not quite
as good a lawyer as Norman, was too clever to be caught
in that way. However, while he was getting very rich
rapidly, he was as yet far from rich enough to overcome
the detestation of old Burroughs, and to be eligible for
the daughter.
So, Josephine sailed away to Europe, with the
consolation that her father was so chagrined by the fizzle
that he had withdrawn his veto upon the purchase of a
foreign title--that veto having been the only reason she
had looked at home for a husband. Strange indeed are
the ways of love--never stranger than when it comes
into contact with the vanities of wealth and social
position and the other things that cause a human being to
feel that he or she is lifted clear of and high above the
human condition. Josephine had her consolation. For
Norman the only consolation was escape from a marriage
which had become so irksome in anticipation that
he did not dare think what it would be in the reality.
Over against this consolation was set a long list of
disasters. He found himself immediately shunned by all
his friends. Their professed reason was that he had
acted shabbily in the breaking of the engagement; for,
while it was assumed that Josephine must have done the
actual breaking, it was also assumed that he must have
given her provocation and to spare. This virtuous
indignation was in large part mere pretext, as virtuous
indignation in frail mortals toward frail mortals is apt
to be. The real reason for shying off from Norman was
his atmosphere of impending downfall. And certainly
that atmosphere had eaten away and dissipated all his
former charm. He looked dull and boresome--and he
But the chief disaster was material. As has been
said, old Burroughs, in his own person and in the enterprises
he controlled, gave Norman's firm about half its
income. The day Josephine sailed, Lockyer, senior
partner of the firm, got an intimation that unless Norman
left, Burroughs would take his law business elsewhere,
and would "advise" others of their clients to
follow his example. Lockyer no sooner heard than he
began to bestir himself. He called into consultation the
learned Benchley and the astute Sanders and the soft
and sly Lockyer junior. There could be no question
that Norman must be got rid of. The only point was,
who should inform the lion that he had been deposed?
After several hours of anxious discussion, Lockyer,
his inward perturbations hid beneath that mask of smug
and statesmanlike respectability, entered the lion's den
--a sick lion, sick unto death probably, but not a dead
lion. "When you're ready to go uptown, Frederick,"
said he in his gentlest, most patriarchal manner, "let me
know. I want to have a little talk with you."
Norman, heavy eyed and listless, looked at the handsome
old fraud. As he looked something of the piercing
quality and something of the humorous came back into
his eyes. "Sit down and say it now," said he.
"I'd prefer to talk where we can be quiet."
Norman rang his bell and when an office boy
appeared, said "No one is to disturb me until I ring
again." Then as the boy withdrew he said to Lockyer:
"Now, sir, what is it?"
Lockyer strolled to the window, looked out as if
searching for something he failed to find, came back to
the chair on the opposite side of the desk from Norman,
seated himself. "I don't know how to begin," said he.
"It is hard to say painful things to anyone I have such
an affection for as I have for you."
Norman pushed a sheet of letter paper across the
desk toward his partner. "Perhaps that will help you,"
observed he carelessly.
Lockyer put on his nose glasses with the gesture of
grace and intellect that was famous. He read--a brief
demand for a release from the partnership and a request
for an immediate settlement. Lockyer blinked off his
glasses with the gesture that was as famous and as
admiringly imitated by lesser legal lights as was his gesture
of be-spectacling himself. "This is most astounding,
my boy," said he. "It is most--most----"
"Gratifying?" suggested Norman with a sardonic
"Not in the least, Frederick. The very reverse--
the exact reverse."
Norman gave a shrug that said "Why do you persist
in those frauds--and with ME?" But he did not
"I know," pursued Lockyer, "that you would not
have taken this step without conclusive reasons. And
I shall not venture the impertinence of prying or of
"Thanks," said Norman drily. "Now, as to the
terms of settlement."
Lockyer, from observation and from gossip, had a
pretty shrewd notion of the state of his young partner's
mind, and drew the not unwarranted conclusion that he
would be indifferent about terms--would be "easy."
With the suavity of Mr. Great-and-Good-Heart he said:
"My dear boy, there can't be any question of money
with us. We'll do the generously fair thing--for, we're
not hucksterers but gentlemen."
"That sounds terrifying," observed the young man,
with a faint ironic smile. "I feel my shirt going and
the cold winds whistling about my bare body. To save
time, let ME state the terms. You want to be rid of me.
I want to go. It's a whim with me. It's a necessity for
Lockyer shifted uneasily at these evidences of
unimpaired mentality and undaunted spirit.
"Here are my terms," proceeded Norman. "You
are to pay me forty thousand a year for five years--
unless I open an office or join another firm. In that
case, payments are to cease from the date of my reentering
Lockyer leaned back and laughed benignantly. "My
dear Norman," he said with a gently remonstrant shake
of the head, "those terms are impossible. Forty thousand
a year! Why that is within ten thousand of the
present share of any of us but you. It is the income of
nearly three quarters of a million at six per cent--of
a million at four per cent!"
"Very well," said Norman, settling back in his
chair. "Then I stand pat."
"Now, my dear Norman, permit me to propose
terms that are fair to all----"
"When I said I stood pat I meant that I would
stay on." His eyes laughed at Lockyer. "I guess we
can live without Burroughs and his dependents. Maybe
they will find they can't live without us." He slowly
leaned forward until, with his forearms against the edge
of his desk, he was concentrating a memorable gaze upon
Lockyer. "Mr. Lockyer," said he, "I have been
exercising my privilege as a free man to make a damn fool
of myself. I shall continue to exercise it so long as I
feel disposed that way. But let me tell you something.
I can afford to do it. If a man's asset is money, or
character or position or relatives and friends or popular
favor or any other perishable article, he must take care
how he trifles with it. He may find himself irretrievably
ruined. But my asset happens to be none of those
things. It is one that can be lost or damaged only by
insanity or death. Do you follow me?"
The old man looked at him with the sincere and most
flattering tribute of compelled admiration. "What a
mind you've got, Frederick--and what courage!"
"You accept my terms?"
"If the others agree--and I think they will."
"They will," said Norman.
The old man was regarding him with eyes that had
genuine anxiety in them. "Why DO you do it, Fred?"
he said.
"Because I wish to be free," replied Norman. He
would never have told the full truth to that incredulous
old cynic of a time-server--the truth that he was resigning
at the dictation of a pride which forbade him to
involve others in the ruin he, in his madness, was bent
"I don't mean, why do you resign," said Lockyer.
"I mean the other--the--woman."
Norman laughed harshly.
"I've seen too much of the world not to understand,"
continued Lockyer. "The measureless power
of woman over man--especially--pardon me, my dear
Norman--especially a bad woman!"
"The measureless power of a man's imagination
over himself," rejoined Norman. "Did you ever see
or hear of a man without imagination being upset by
a woman? It's in here, Mr. Lockyer"--he rapped his
forehead--"altogether in here."
"You realize that. Yet you go on--and for such a
--pardon me, my boy, for saying it--for such a trifling
"What does `trifling' mean, sir?" replied the
young man. "What is trifling and what is important?
It depends upon the point of view. What I want--
that is vital. What I do not want--that is paltry.
It's my nature to go for what I happen to want--to
go for it with all there is in me. I will take nothing
else--nothing else."
There was in his eyes the glitter called insanity--
the glitter that reflects the state of mind of any strong
man when possessed of one of those fixed ideas that are
the idiosyncrasy of the strong. It would have been
impossible for Lockyer to be possessed in that way; he
had not the courage nor the concentration nor the independence
of soul; like most men, even able men, he
dealt only in the conventional. Not in his wildest youth
could he have wrecked or injured himself for a woman;
women, for him, occupied their conventional place in the
scheme of things, and had no allure beyond the
conventionally proper and the conventionally improper--
for, be it remembered, vice has its beaten track no less
than virtue and most of the vicious are as tame and
unimaginative as the plodders in the high roads of
propriety. Still, Lockyer had associated with strong men,
men of boundless desires; thus, he could in a measure
sympathize with his young associate. What a pity that
these splendid powers should be perverted from the
ordinary desires of strong men!
Norman rose, to end the interview. "My address is
my house. They will forward--if I go away."
Lockyer gave him a hearty handclasp, made a few
phrases about good wishes and the like, left him alone.
The general opinion was that Norman was done for.
But Lockyer could not see it. He had seen too many
men fall only to rise out of lowest depths to greater
heights than they had fallen from. And Norman was
only thirty-seven. Perhaps this would prove to be
merely a dip in a securely brilliant career and not a fall
at all. In that case--with such a brain, such a genius
for the lawlessness of the law, what a laughing on the
other side of the mouth there might yet be among young
Norman's enemies--and friends!
He spent most of the next few days--the lunch time,
the late afternoon, finally the early morning hours--
lurking about the Equitable Building, in which were the
offices of Pytchley and Culver. As that building had
entrances on four streets, the best he could do was to
walk round and round, with an occasional excursion
through the corridors and past the elevators. He had
written her, asking to see her; he had got no answer.
He ceased to wait at the elevators after he had twice
narrowly escaped being seen by Tetlow. He was
indifferent to Tetlow, except as meeting him might make
it harder to see Dorothy. He drank hard. But drink
never affected him except to make him more grimly
tenacious in whatever he had deliberately and soberly
resolved. Drink did not explain--neither wholly nor in
any part--this conduct of his. It, and the more erratic
vagaries to follow, will seem incredible conduct for a man
of Norman's character and position to feeble folk with
their feeble desires, their dread of criticism and ridicule,
their exaggerated and adoring notions of the master
men. In fact, it was the natural outcome of the man's
nature--arrogant, contemptuous of his fellowmen and
of their opinions, and, like all the master men, capable
of such concentration upon a desire that he would adopt
any means, high or low, dignified or the reverse, if only
it promised to further his end. Fred Norman, at these
vulgar vigils, took the measure of his own self-abasement
to a hair's breadth. But he kept on, with the fever of
his infatuation burning like a delirium, burning higher
and deeper with each baffled day.
At noon, one day, as he swung into Broadway from
Cedar street, he ran straight into Tetlow. It was
raining and his umbrella caught in Tetlow's. It was a
ludicrous situation, but there was no answering smile in
his former friend's eyes. Tetlow glowered.
"I've heard you were hanging about," he said.
"How low you have sunk!"
Norman laughed in his face. "Poor Tetlow," he
said. "I never expected to see you develop into a
crusader. And what a Don Quixote you look. Cheer up,
old man. Don't take it so hard."
"I warn you to keep away from her," said Tetlow
in subdued, tense tones, his fat face quivering with
emotion. "Hasn't she shown you plainly that she'll have
nothing to do with you?"
"I want only five minutes' talk with her, Tetlow,"
said Norman, dropping into an almost pleading tone.
"And I guarantee I'll say nothing you wouldn't
approve, if you heard. You are advising her badly. You
are doing her an injury."
"I am protecting her from a scoundrel," retorted
"She'll not thank you for it, when she finds out the
"You can write to her. What a shallow liar you
"I cannot write what I must say," said Norman. It
had never been difficult for him, however provoked, to
keep his temper--outwardly. Tetlow's insults were to
him no more than the barkings of a watch dog, and
one not at all dangerous, but only amusing. "I must
see her. If you are her friend, and not merely a jealous,
disappointed lover, you'll advise her to see me."
"You shall not see her, if I can help it," cried his
former friend. "And if you persist in annoying
"Don't make futile threats, Tetlow," Norman
interrupted. "You've done me all the mischief you can do.
I see you hate me for the injuries you've done me. That's
the way it always is. But I don't hate you. It was at
my suggestion that the Lockyer firm is trying to get
you back as a partner." Then, as Tetlow colored--
"Oh, I see you're accepting their offer."
"If I had thought----"
"Nonsense. You're not a fool. How does it matter
whose the hand, if only it's a helping hand? And you
may be sure they'd never have made you the offer if they
didn't need you badly. All the credit I claim is having
the intelligence to enlighten their stupidity with the
right suggestion."
In spite of himself Tetlow was falling under the spell
of Norman's personality, of the old and deep admiration
the lesser man had for the greater.
"Norman," he said, "how can you be such a combination
of bigness and petty deviltry? You are a
monster of self-indulgence. It's a God's mercy there
aren't more men with your selfishness and your desires."
Norman laughed sardonically. "The difference
between me and most men," said he, "isn't in selfishness
or in desires, but in courage. Courage, Billy--there's
what most of you lack. And even in courage I'm not
alone. My sort fill most of the high places."
Tetlow looked dismal confession of a fear that Norman
was right.
"Yes," pursued Norman, "in this country there are
enough wolves to attend to pretty nearly all the sheep--
though it's amazing how much mutton there is." With
an abrupt shift from raillery, "You'll help me with her,
"Why don't you let her alone, Fred?" pleaded
Tetlow. "It isn't worthy of you--a big man like you. Let
her alone, Fred!--the poor child, trying to earn her own
living in an honest way."
"Let her alone? Tetlow, I shall never let her alone
--as long as she and I are both alive."
The fat man, with his premature wrinkles and his
solemn air of law books that look venerable though fresh
from the press, took on an added pastiness. "Fred--for
God's sake, can't you love her in a noble way--a way
worthy of you?"
Norman gave him a penetrating glance. "Is love--
such love as mine--AND yours--" There Tetlow flushed
guiltily--"is it ever noble?--whatever that means. No,
it's human--human. But I'm not trying to harm her.
I give you my word. . . . Will you help me--and her?"
Tetlow hesitated. His heavy cheeks quivered. "I
don't trust you," he cried violently--the violence of a
man fighting against an enemy within. "Don't ever
speak to me again." And he rushed away through the
rain, knocking umbrellas this way and that.
About noon two days later, as Norman was making
one of his excursions past the Equitable elevators, he
saw Bob Culver at the news stand. It so happened that
as he recognized Culver, Culver cast in the direction of
the elevators the sort of look that betrays a man waiting
for a woman. Unseen by Culver, Norman stopped short.
Into his face blazed the fury of suspicion, jealousy, and
hate--one of the cyclones of passion that swept him
from time to time and revealed to his own appalled self
the full intensity of his feeling, the full power of the
demon that possessed him. Culver was of those glossy,
black men who are beloved of women. He was much
handsomer than Norman, who, indeed, was not handsome
at all, but was regarded as handsome because he had
the air of great distinction. Many times these two
young men had been pitted against each other in legal
battles. Every time Norman had won. Twice they had
contended for the favor of the same lady. Each had
scored once. But as Culver's victory was merely for a
very light and empty-headed lady of the stage while he
had won Josephine Burroughs away from Culver, the
balance was certainly not against him.
As Norman slipped back and into the cross corridor
to avoid meeting Culver, Dorothy Hallowell hurried from
a just descended elevator and, with a quick, frightened
glance toward Culver, in profile, almost ran toward
Norman. It was evident that she had only one thought
--to escape being seen by her new employer. When she
realized that some one was standing before her and
moved to one side to pass, she looked up. "Oh!" she
gasped, starting back. And then she stood there white
and shaking.
"Is that beast Culver hounding you?" demanded
She recovered herself quickly. With flashing eyes,
she cried: "How dare you! How dare you!"
Norman, possessed by his rage against Culver, paid
no attention. "If he don't let you alone," he said, "I'll
thrash him into a hospital for six months. You must
leave his office at once. You'll not go back there."
"You must be crazy," replied she, calm again.
"I've no complaint to make of the way I'm being
treated. I never was so well off in my life. And Mr.
Culver is very kind and polite."
"You know what that means," said Norman harshly.
"Everyone isn't like you," retorted she.
He was examining her from head to foot, as if to
make sure that it was she with no charm missing. He
noted that she was much less poorly dressed than when
she worked for his firm. In those days she often looked
dowdy, showed plainly the girl who has to make a hasty
toilet in a small bedroom, with tiny wash-stand and
looking-glass, in the early, coldest hours of a cold morning.
Now she looked well taken care of physically, not
so well, not anything like so well as the women uptown--
the ladies with nothing to do but make toilettes; still,
unusually well looked after for a working girl. At first
glance after those famished and ravening days of longing
for her and seeking her, she before him in rather
dim reality of the obvious office-girl, seemed disappointing.
It could not be that this insignificance was the
cause of all his fever and turmoil. He began to hope
that he was recovering, that the cloud of insane desire
was clearing from his sky. But a second glance killed
that hope. For, once more he saw her mystery, her
beauties that revealed their perfection and splendor only
to the observant.
While he looked she was regaining her balance, as
the fading color in her white skin and the subsidence
of the excitement in her eyes evidenced. "Let me pass,
please," she said coldly--for, she was against the wall
with him standing before her in such a way that she
could not go until he moved aside.
"We'll lunch together," he said. "I want to talk
with you. Did that well-meaning ass--Tetlow--tell
"There is nothing you can say that I wish to hear,"
was her quiet reply.
"Your eyes--the edges of the lids are red. You have
been crying?"
She lifted her glance to his and he had the sense of a
veil drawing aside to reveal a desolation. "For my
father," she said.
His face flushed. He looked steadily at her. "Now
that he is gone, you have no one to protect you. I
"I need no one," said she with a faintly contemptuous smile.
"You do need some one--and I am going to undertake it."
Her face lighted up. He thought it was because of
what he had said. But she immediately undeceived him.
She said in a tone of delighted relief, "Here comes Mr.
Tetlow. You must excuse me."
"Dorothy--listen!" he cried. "We are going to
be married at once."
The words exploded dizzily in his ears. He assumed
they would have a far more powerful effect upon her.
But her expression did not change. "No," she said
hastily. "I must go with Mr. Tetlow." Tetlow was
now at hand, his heavy face almost formidable in its dark
ferocity. She said to him: "I was waiting for you.
Come on"
Norman turned eagerly to his former friend. He
said: "Tetlow, I have just asked Miss Hallowell to be
my wife."
Tetlow stared. Then pain and despair seemed to
flood and ravage his whole body.
"I told you the other day," Norman went on, "that
I was ready to do the fair thing. I have just been
saying to Miss Hallowell that she must have some one to
protect her. You agree with me, don't you?"
Tetlow, fumbling vaguely with his watch chain,
gazed straight ahead. "Yes," he said with an effort.
"Yes, you are right, Norman. An office is no place for
an attractive girl as young as she is."
"Has Culver been annoying her?" inquired Norman.
Tetlow started. "Ah--she's told you--has she? I
rather hoped she hadn't noticed or understood."
Both men now looked at the girl. She had shrunk
into herself until she was almost as dim and unimpressive,
as cipher-like as when Norman first beheld her. Also
she seemed at least five years less than her twenty.
"Dorothy," said Norman, "you will let me take care of
you--won't you?"
"No," she said--and the word carried all the quiet
force she was somehow able to put into her short, direct
Tetlow's pasty sallowness took on a dark red tinge.
He looked at her in surprise. "You don't understand,
Miss Dorothy," he said. "He wants to marry you."
"I understand perfectly," replied she, with the faraway
look in her blue eyes. "But I'll not marry him.
I despise him. He frightens me. He sickens me."
Norman clinched his hands and the muscles of his
jaw in the effort to control himself. "Dorothy," he
said, "I've not acted as I should. Tetlow will tell you
that there is good excuse for me. I know you don't
understand about those things--about the ways of the
"I understand perfectly," she interrupted. "It's
you that don't understand. I never saw anyone so
conceited. Haven't I told you I don't love you, and don't
want anything to do with you?"
Tetlow, lover though he was--or perhaps because he
was lover, of the hopeless kind that loves generously--
could not refrain from protest. The girl was flinging
away a dazzling future. It wasn't fair to her to let her
do it when if she appreciated she would be overwhelmed
with joy and gratitude. "I believe you ought to listen
to Norman, Miss Dorothy," he said pleadingly. "At
any rate, think it over--don't answer right away. He
is making you an honorable proposal--one that's
advantageous in every way----"
Dorothy regarded him with innocent eyes, wide and
wondering. "I didn't think you could talk like that,
Mr. Tetlow!" she exclaimed. "You heard what I said
to him--about the way I felt. How could I be his wife?
He tried everything else--and, now, though he's ashamed
of it, he's trying to get me by marriage. Oh, I understand.
I wish I didn't. I'd not feel so low." She looked
at Norman. "Can't you realize EVER that I don't want
any of the grand things you're so crazy about--that I
want something very different--something you could
never give me--or get for me?"
"Isn't there anything I can do, Dorothy, to make
you forget and forgive?" he cried, like a boy, an
infatuated boy. "For God's sake, Tetlow, help me! Tell
her I'm not so rotten as she thinks. I'll be anything you
like, my darling--ANYTHING--if only you'll take me.
For I must have you. You're the only thing in the
world I care for--and, without you, I've no interest in
He was so impassioned that passersby began to
observe them curiously. Tetlow became uneasy. But
Norman and Dorothy were unconscious of what was going
on around them. The energy of his passion compelled
her, though the passion itself was unwelcome.
"I'm sorry," she said gently. "Though you would have
hurt me, if you could, I don't want to hurt you. . . .
I'm sorry. I can't love you. . . . I'm sorry. Come on,
Mr. Tetlow."
Norman stood aside. She and Tetlow went on out of
the building. He remained in the same place, oblivious
of the crowd streaming by, each man or woman with a
glance at his vacant stare.
THAN Fred Norman no man ever had better reason
to feel securely entrenched upon the heights of success.
It was no silly vaunt of optimism for him to tell Lockyer
that only loss of life or loss of mind could dislodge
him. And a few days after Dorothy had extinguished
the last spark of hope he got ready to pull himself
together and show the world that it was indulging too
soon in its hypocritical headshakings over his ruin.
"I am going to open an office of my own at once,"
he said to his sister.
She did not wish to discourage him, but she could
not altogether keep her thoughts from her face. She
had, in a general way, a clear idea of the complete
system of tollgates, duly equipped with strong barriers,
which the mighty few have established across practically
all the highroads to material success. Also, she
felt in her brother's manner and tone a certain profound
discouragement, a lack of the unconquerable
spirit which had carried him so far so speedily. It is
not a baseless notion that the man who has never been
beaten is often destroyed by his first reverse. Ursula
feared the spell of success had been broken for him.
"You mean," she suggested, with apparent carelessness,
"that you will give up your forty thousand a
He made a disdainful gesture. "I can make more
than that," said he. "It's a second rate lawyer who
can't in this day."
"Of course you can," replied she tactfully. "But
why not take a rest first? Then there's old Burroughs
--on the war path. Wouldn't it be wise to wait till
he calms down?"
"If Burroughs or any other man is necessary to
me," rejoined Fred, "the sooner I find it out the better.
I ought to know just where I--I myself--stand."
"No one is necessary to you but yourself," said
Ursula, proudly and sincerely. "But, Fred-- Are
you yourself just now?"
"No, I'm not," admitted he. "But the way to
become so again isn't by waiting but by working." An
expression of sheer wretchedness came into his listless,
heavy eyes. "Urse, I've got to conquer my weakness
now, or go under."
She was eager to hold on to the secure forty
thousand a year--for his sake no less than for her own.
She argued with him with all the adroitness of a mind
as good in its way as his own. But she could not shake
his resolution. And she in prudence, desisted when he
said bitterly: "I see you've lost confidence in me.
Well, I don't blame you. . . . So have I." Then after
a moment, violently rather than strongly: "But I've
got to get it back. If I don't I'm only putting off the
smash--a complete smash."
"I don't see quite how it's to be arranged," said
she, red and hesitating. For, she feared he would
think her altogether selfish in her anxiety. He
certainly would have been justified in so thinking; he knew
how rarely generosity survived in the woman who leads
the soft and idle life.
"How long can we keep on as we're living now--
if there's nothing, or little, coming in?"
"I don't know," confessed she. She was as poor at
finance as he, and had certainly not been improved by
his habit of giving her whatever she happened to think
was necessary. "I can't say. Perhaps a few months--
I don't know-- Not long, I'm afraid."
"Six months?"
"Oh, no. You see--the fact is--I've been rather
careless about the bills. You're so generous, Fred--
and one is so busy in New York. I guess we owe a
good deal--here and there and yonder. And--the last
few days some of the tradespeople have been pressing
for payment."
"You see!" exclaimed he. "The report is going
round that I'm ruined and done for. I've simply got
to make good. If you can't keep up a front, shut up
the house and go abroad. You can stay till I've got
my foot back on its neck."
She believed in him, at bottom. She could not
conceive how appearances and her forebodings could be
true. Such strength as his could not be overwhelmed
thus suddenly. And by so slight a thing!--by an
unsatisfied passion for a woman, and an insignificant
woman, at that. For, like all women, like all the world
for that matter, she measured a passion by the woman
who was the object of it, instead of by the man who
fabricated it. "Yes--I'll go abroad," said she,
"Quietly arrange for a long stay," he advised. "I
HOPE it won't be long. But I never plan on hope."
Thus, with his sister and Fitzhugh out of the way
and the heaviest of his burdens of expense greatly
lightened, he set about rehabitating himself. He took an
office, waited for clients. And clients came--excellent
clients. Came and precipitately left him.
There were two reasons for it. The first--the one
most often heard--was the story going round that he
had been, and probably still was, out of his mind. No
deadlier or crueler weapon can be used against a man
than that same charge as to his sanity. It has been
known to destroy, or seriously maim, brilliant and able
men with no trace of any of the untrustworthy kinds of
insanity. Where the man's own conduct gives color to
the report, the attack is usually mortal. And Norman
had acted the crazy man. The second reason was the
hostility of Burroughs, reinforced by all the hatreds
and jealousies Norman's not too respectful way of
dealing with his fellow men had been creating through
fifteen years.
The worst moment in the life of a man who has
always proudly regarded himself as above any need
whatever from his fellow men is when he discovers all
in a flash, that the timid animal he spurned as it fawned
has him upon his back, has its teeth and claws at his
helpless throat.
For four months he stood out against the isolation,
the suspicion as to his sanity, the patronizing pity of
men who but a little while before had felt honored when
he spoke to them. For four months he gave battle to
unseen and silent foes compassing him on every side.
He had no spirit for the fight; his love of Dorothy
Hallowell and his complete rout there had taken the
spirit out of him--and with it had gone that confidence
in himself and in his luck which had won him so many
critical battles. Then-- He had been keeping up a
large suite of offices, a staff of clerks and stenographers
and all the paraphernalia of the great and successful
lawyer. He had been spreading out the little business
he got in a not unsuccessful effort to make it appear
big and growing. He now gave up these offices and
the costly pride, pomp and circumstance--left with
several thousand dollars owing. He took two small rooms
in a building tenanted by beginners and cheap shysters.
He continued to live at his club, where even the servants
were subtly insolent to him; he could see the time
approaching when he might have to let himself be dropped
for failing to pay dues and bills.
He stared at his ruin in stupid and dazed amazement.
Usually, to hear or to read about such a catastrophe
as this is to get a vague, rather impressive
notion of something picturesque and romantic. Ruined,
like all the big fateful words, has a dignified sound.
But the historians and novelists and poets and other
keepers of human records have a pleasant, but not very
honest way, of omitting practically all the essentials
from their records and substituting glittering imaginings
that delight the reader--and wofully mislead him
as to the truth about life. What wonder that we
learn slowly--and improve slowly. How wofully we
have been, and are, misled by all upon whom we have
relied as teachers.
Already one of these charming tales of majestic
downfall was in process of manufacture, with Frederick
Norman as the central figure. It was only awaiting
his suicide or some other mode of complete submergence
for its final glose of glamor. In this manufacture, the
truth, as usual, had been almost omitted; such truth as
was retained for this artistic version of a human
happening was so perverted that it was falser than the
simon pure fictions with which it was interwoven. Just
as the literal truth about his success was far from being
altogether to his credit, so the literal truth as to his fall
gave him little of the vesture of the hero, and that
little ill fitting, to cover his naked humanness. Let
him who has risen to material success altogether by
methods approved by the idealists, let him who has
fallen from on high with graceful majesty, without
hysterical clutchings and desperate attempts at selfsalvation
in disregard of the safety of others--let either
of these superhuman beings come forward with the first
stone for Norman.
Those at some distance from the falling man could
afford to be romantic and piteous over his fate. Those
in his dangerous neighborhood were too busy getting
out of the way. "Man falling--stand from under!"
was the cry--how familiar it is!--and acquaintances
and friends fled in mad skedaddle. He would surely be
asking favors--would be trying to borrow money. It
is no peculiarity of rats to desert a sinking ship; it is
simply an inevitable precaution in a social system
modeled as yet upon nature's cruel law of the survival of
the fittest. A falling man is first of all a warning to
all other men high enough up to be able to fall--a
warning to them to take care lest they fall also where
footing is so insecure and precipices and steeps beset
every path.
Norman, falling, falling, gazed round him and up
and down, in dazed wonder. He had seen many others
fall. He had seen just where and just why they missed
their footing. And he had been confident that with him
no such misstep was possible. He could not believe; a
little while, and luck would turn, and up he would go
again--higher than before. Many a lawyer--to look
no farther than his own profession--had through
recklessness or pride or inadvertence got the big men down
on him. But after a time they had relented or had
found an exact use for him; and fall had been succeeded
by rise. Was there a single instance where a man of
good brain had been permanently downed? No, not
one. Stay-- Some of these unfortunates had failed to
reappear on the heights of success. Yes, thinking of
the matter, he recalled several such. Had he been
altogether right in assuming, in his days of confidence and
success, that they stayed down because they belonged
down? Perhaps he had judged them harshly? Yes,
he was sure he had judged them harshly. There was
such a thing as breaking a proud spirit--and he found
within himself apparent proof that precisely this calamity
had befallen him.
There came a time--and it came soon--when he had
about exhausted his desperate ingenuity at cornering
acquaintances and former friends and "sticking them
up" for loans of five hundred, a hundred, fifty, twentyfive--
Because these vulgar and repulsive facts are not
found in the usual records of the men who have dropped
and come up again, do not imagine that only the hopeless
and never-reappearing failures pass through such
experiences. On the contrary, they are part of the
common human lot, and few indeed are the men who
have not had them--and worse--if they could but be
brought to tell the truth. Destiny rarely permits any
one of us to go from cradle to grave without doing
many a thing shameful and universally condemned.
How could it be otherwise under our social system?
When Norman was about at the end of all his resources
Tetlow called on him--Tetlow, now a partner in the
Lockyer firm.
He came with an air of stealth. "I don't want
anyone to know I'm doing this," said he frankly. "If
it got out, I'd be damaged and you'd not profit."
Rarely does anyone, however unworthy--and Fred
Norman was far from unworthy, as we humans go--
rarely does anyone find himself absolutely without a
friend. There is a saying that no man ever sunk so
low, ever became so vile and squalid in soul and body,
but that if he were dying, and the fact were noised
throughout the world, some woman somewhere would
come--perhaps from a sense of duty, perhaps from
love, perhaps for the sake of a moment of happiness
long past but never equaled, and so never forgotten--
but from whatever motive, she would come. In the
same manner, anyone in dire straits can be sure of some
friend. There were several others whom Norman had
been expecting--men he had saved by his legal
ingenuity at turning points in their careers. None of
these was so imprudent as uselessly to involve himself.
It was Tetlow who came--Tetlow, with whom his
accounts were more than balanced, with the balance
against him. Tetlow, whom he did not expect.
Norman did not welcome him effusively. He said
at once: "How is--she?"
Tetlow shifted uneasily. "I don't know. She's not
with us. I gave her a place there--to get her away
from Culver. But she didn't stay long. No doubt she's
doing well."
"I thought you cared about her," said Norman,
who in estimating Tetlow's passion had measured it by
his own, had neglected to consider that the desires of
most men soon grow short of breath and weary of leg.
"Yes--so I did care for her," said Tetlow, in the
voice of a man who has been ill but is now well. "But
that's all over. Women aren't worth bothering about
much. They're largely vanity. The way they soon
take a man for granted if he's at all kind to them
discourages any but the poorest sort of fool. At least
that's my opinion."
"Then you don't come from her?" said Norman
with complete loss of interest in his caller.
"No. I've come-- Fred, I hear you're in difficulties."
Norman's now deep-set eyes gleamed humorously in
his haggard and failed-looking face. "IN difficulties?
Not at all. I'm UNDER them--drowned forty fathoms
"Then you'll not resent my coming straight to the
point and asking if I can help you?"
"That's a rash offer, Tetlow. I never suspected
rashness was one of your qualities."
"I don't mean to offer you a loan or anything of
that sort," pursued Tetlow. "There's only one thing
that can help a man in your position. He must either
be saved outright or left to drown. I've come with
something that may save you."
There was so much of the incongruous in a situation
where HE was listening to an offer of salvation from
such a man as Billy Tetlow that Norman smiled.
"Well, what is it?" he said.
"There's a chance that within six months or so--
perhaps sooner--Burroughs and Galloway may end
their truce and declare war on each other. If so,
Galloway will win. Anyhow, the Galloway connection would
be better than the Burroughs connection."
Norman looked at Tetlow shrewdly. "How do you
know this?" he asked.
Tetlow's eyes shifted. "Can't tell you. But I
"Galloway hates me."
Tetlow nodded. "You were the one who forced
him into a position where he had to make peace with
Burroughs. But Galloway's a big man, big enough to
admire ability wherever he sees it. He has admired
you ever since."
"And has given his business to another firm."
"But if the break comes he'll need you. And he's
the sort of man who doesn't hesitate to take what he
"Too remote," said Norman, and his despondent
gesture showed how quickly hope had lighted up.
"Besides, Billy, I've lost my nerve. I'm no good."
"But you've gotten over that--that attack of insanity."
Norman shook his head.
"I can't understand it," ejaculated Tetlow.
"Of course you can't," said Norman. "But--
there it is."
"You haven't seen her lately?"
"Not since that day . . . Billy, she hasn't--"
Norman stopped, and Tetlow saw that his hands were
trembling with agitation, and marveled.
"Oh, no," replied Tetlow. "So far as I know,
she's still respectable. But--why don't you go to see
her? I think you'd be cured."
"Why do you say that?" demanded Norman, the
veins in his forehead bulging with the fury he was ready
to release.
"For no especial reason--on my honor, Fred,"
replied Tetlow. "Simply because time works wonders
in all sorts of ways, including infatuations. Also--
well, the fact is, it didn't seem to me that young lady
improved on acquaintance. Maybe I got tired, or
piqued--I don't know. If she hadn't been a silly little
fool, would she have refused you? I know it sounds
well--in a novel or a play--for a poor girl to refuse a
good offer, just from sentiment. But, all the same,
only a fool girl does it--in life--eh? But go to see
her. You'll understand what I mean, I think. I want
you to brace up. That may help."
"What's she doing?"
"I don't know. I'll send you her address. I can
get it. About Galloway-- If that break comes, I
propose that we get his business--you and I. I want you
for a partner. I always did. I think I know how to
get work out of you. I understand you better, than
anyone else. That's why I'm here."
"It's useless," said Norman.
"I'm willing to take the risk. Now, here's what I
propose. I'll stake you to the extent of a thousand
dollars a month for the next six months, you to keep
on as you are and not to tie yourself up to any other
lawyer, or to any client likely to hamper us if we get
the Galloway business."
"I've been borrowing right and left----"
"I know about that," interrupted Tetlow. "I'm
not interested. If you'll agree to my proposal, I'll
take my chances."
"You are throwing away six thousand dollars."
"I owe you a position where I make five times that
Norman shrugged his shoulders. "Very well. Can
I have five hundred at once?"
"I'll send you a check to-day. I'll send two checks
a month--the first and the fifteenth."
"I am drinking a great deal."
"You always did."
"Not until recently. I never knew what drinking
meant until these last few months."
"Well, do as you like with the money. Drink it
all, if you please. I'm making no conditions beyond
the two I stated."
"You will send me that address?"
"In the letter with the check."
"Will she see me, do you think?"
"I haven't an idea," replied Tetlow.
"What's the mystery?" asked Norman. "Why do
you speak of her so indifferently?"
"It's the way I feel." Then, in answer to the
unspoken suspicion once more appearing in Norman's
eyes, he added: "She's a very nice, sweet girl, Norman
--so far as I know or believe. Beyond that-- Go to
see her."
It had been many a week since Norman had heard a
friendly voice. The very sound of the human voice
had become hateful to him, because he was constantly
detecting the note of nervousness, the scarcely concealed
fear of being entangled in his misfortunes. As Tetlow
rose to go, Norman tried to detain him. The sound of
an unconstrained voice, the sight of a believing face
that did not express one or more of the shadings of
contempt between pity and aversion--the sight and
sound of this friend Tetlow was acting upon him like
one of those secret, unexpected, powerful tonics which
nature at times suddenly injects into a dying man to
confound the doctors and cheat death.
"Tetlow," said he, "I'm down--probably down for
good. But if I ever get up again, I'll not make one
mistake--the one that cost me this fall. Do you know
what that mistake was?"
"I suppose you mean Miss Hallowell?"
"No," said Norman, to his surprise. "I mean my
lack of money, of capital, of a large and secure income.
I used to imagine that brains were the best, the only
sure asset. I was guilty of the stupidity of overvaluing
my own possessions."
"Brains are a mighty good asset, Fred."
"Yes--and necessary. But a man of action must
have under his brains another asset--MUST have it,
Billy. The one secure asset is a big capital. Money
rules this world. Some men have been lucky enough to
rise and stay risen, without money. But not a man
of all the men who have been knocked out could have
been dislodged if he had been armed and armored with
money. My prodigality was my fatal mistake. I
shan't make it again--if I get the chance. You don't
know, Tetlow, how hard it is to get money when you are
tumbling and must have it. I never dreamed what a
factor it is in calamities of EVERY sort. It's THE factor."
"I don't like to hear you talk that way, Norman,"
said Tetlow earnestly. "I've always most admired in
you the fact that you weren't mercenary."
"And I never shall be," said Norman, with the
patient smile of a swift, keen mind at one that is slow
and hard to make understand. "It isn't my nature.
But, if I'm resurrected, I'll seem to be mercenary until
I get a full suit of the only armor that's invulnerable in
this world. Why, I built my fort like a fool. It was
impregnable except for one thing--one obvious thing.
It hadn't a supply of water. If I build again it'll be
round a spring--an income big enough for my needs
and beyond anybody's power to cut off."
Tetlow showed that he was much cheered by Norman's
revived interest in life. But he went away
uneasy; for the last thing Norman said to him was:
"Don't forget that address!"
BUT it chanced that Norman met her in the street
about an hour after Tetlow's call.
He was on the way to lunch at the Lawyer's Club
--one of those apparent luxuries that are the dire and
pitiful necessities of men in New York fighting to maintain
the semblance and the reputation of prosperity.
It must not be imagined by those who are here let into
Norman's inmost secrets that his appearance betrayed
the depth to which he had fallen. At least to the casual
eye he seemed the same rich and powerful personage.
An expert might have got at a good part of the truth
from his somber eyes and haggard face, from the subtle
transformation of the former look of serene pride into
the bravado of pretense. And as, in a general way,
the facts of his fall were known far and wide, all his
acquaintances understood that his seeming of undiminished
success was simply the familiar "bluff." Its
advantage to him with them lay in its raising a doubt as
to just what degree of disaster it hid--no small advantage.
Nor was this "bluff" altogether for the benefit
of the outside world. It made his fall less hideously
intolerable to himself. In the bottom of his heart he
knew that when drink and no money should finally force
him to release his relaxing hold upon his fashionable
clubs, upon luxurious attire and habits, he would
suddenly and with accelerated speed drop into the abyss--
We have all caught glimpses of that abyss--frayed fine
linen cheaply laundered, a tie of one time smartness
showing signs of too long wear, a suit from the best
kind of tailor with shiny spot glistening here, patch
peeping there, a queer unkemptness about the hair and
skin--these the beginnings of a road that leads straight
and short to the barrel-house, the park bench, and the
police station. Because, when a man strikes into that
stretch of the road to perdition, he ceases to be one of
our friends, passes from view entirely, we have the habit
of SAYING that such things rarely if ever happen. But
we KNOW better. Many's the man now high who has
had the sort of drop Norman was taking. We remember
when he was making a bluff such as Norman was
making in those days; but we think now that we were
mistaken in having suspected it of being bluff.
Norman, dressed with more than ordinary care--
how sensitive a man becomes about those things when
there is neither rustle nor jingle in his pockets, and
his smallest check would be returned with the big black
stamp "No Funds"-- Norman, groomed to the last
button, was in Broadway near Rector Street. Ahead
of him he saw the figure of a girl--a trim, attractive
figure, slim and charmingly long of line. A second
glance, and he recognized her. What was the change
that had prevented his recognizing her at once? He
had not seen that particular lightish-blue dress before
--nor the coquettish harmonizing hat. But that was
not the reason. No, it was the coquetry in her toilet--
the effort of the girl to draw attention to her charms
by such small devices as are within the reach of
extremely modest means. He did not like this change.
It offended his taste; it alarmed his jealousy.
He quickened his step, and when almost at her side
spoke her name--"Miss Hallowell."
She stopped, turned. As soon as she recognized
him there came into her quiet, lovely face a delightful
smile. He could not conceal his amazement. She was
glad to see him! Instantly, following the invariable
habit of an experienced analytical mind, he wondered
for what unflattering reason this young woman who
did not like him was no longer showing it, was seeming
more than a little pleased to see him. "Why, how d'ye
do, Mr. Norman?" said she. And her friendliness and
assurance of manner jarred upon him. There was not
a suggestion of forwardness; but he, used to her oldtime
extreme reserve, felt precisely as if she were bold
and gaudy, after the fashion of so many of the working
girls who were popular with the men.
This unfavorable impression disappeared--or,
rather, retired to the background--even as it became
definite. And once more he was seeing the charms of
physical loveliness, of physical--and moral, and mental--
mystery that had a weird power over him. As
they shook hands, a quiver shot through him as at the
shock of a terrific stimulant; and he stood there longing
to take her in his arms, to feel the delicate yet perfect
and vividly vital life of that fascinating form--
longing to kiss that sensitive, slightly pouted rosy
mouth, to try to make those clear eyes grow soft and
She was saying: "I've been wondering what had
become of you."
"I saw Tetlow," he said. "He promised to send
me your address."
At Tetlow's name she frowned slightly; then a
gleam of ridicule flitted into her eyes. "Oh, that silly,
squeamish old maid! How sick I got of him!"
Norman winced, and his jealousy stirred. "Why?"
he asked.
"Always warning me against everybody. Always
giving me advice. It was too tiresome. And at last he
began to criticize me--the way I dressed--the way I
talked--said I was getting too free in my manner.
The impudence of him!"
Norman tried to smile.
"He'd have liked me to stay a silly little mouse
"So you've been--blossoming out?" said Norman.
"In a quiet way," replied she, with a smile of selfcontent,
so lovely as a smile that no one would have
minded its frank egotism. "There isn't much chance
for fun--unless a girl goes too far. But at the same
time I don't intend life to be Sunday when it isn't work.
I got very cross with him--Mr. Tetlow, I mean. And
I took another position. It didn't pay quite so well--
only fifteen a week. But I couldn't stand being
watched--and guyed by all the other girls and boys
for it."
"Where are you working?"
"With an old lawyer named Branscombe. It's awful
slow, as I'm the only one, and he's old and does
everything in an old-fashioned way. But the hours are
easy, and I don't have to get down till nine--which
is nice when you've been out at a dance the night before."
Norman kept his eyes down to hide from her the
legion of devils of jealousy. "You HAVE changed," he
"I'm growing up," replied she with a charming toss
of her small head--what beautiful effects the sunlight
made in among those wavy strands and strays!
"And you're as lovely as ever--lovelier," he said--
and his eyes were the eyes of the slave she had spurned.
She did not spurn him now--and it inflamed his
jealousy that she did not. She said: "Oh, what's the
good of looks? The town's full of pretty girls. And
so many of them have money--which I haven't. To
make a hit in New York a girl's got to have both looks
and dress. But I must be going. I've an engagement
to lunch--" She gave a proud little smile--"at the
Astor House. It's nice upstairs there."
"With Bob Culver?"
She laughed. "I haven't seen him since I left his
office. You know, Mr. Tetlow took me with him--back
to your old firm. I didn't like Mr. Culver. I don't
care for those black men. They are bad-tempered and
two-faced. Anyhow, I'd not have anything to do with
a man who wanted to slip round with me as if he were
ashamed of me."
She was looking at Norman pleasantly enough. He
wasn't sure that the hit was for him as well as for
Culver, but he flushed deeply. "Will you lunch with me
at the Astor House at one to-morrow?"
"I've got an engagement," said she. "And I must
be going. I'm awfully late." He had an instinct that
her engagement on both days was with the same man.
"I'm glad to have seen you----"
"Won't you let me call on you?" he said imploringly,
but with the suggestion that he had no hope of
being permitted to come.
"Certainly," responded she with friendly promptness.
She opened the shopping bag swinging on her
arm. "Here is one of my cards."
"When? This evening?"
Her laugh showed the beautiful deep pink and dazzling
white behind her lips. "No--I'm going to a
"Let me take you."
She shook her head. "You wouldn't like it. Only
young people."
"But I'm not so old."
She looked at him critically. "No--you're not.
It always puzzled me. You aren't old--you look like
a boy lots of the time. But you always SEEM old to
"I'll try to do better. To-night?"
"Not to-night," laughed she. "Let's see--tomorrow's
Sunday. Come to-morrow--about half past
"Thank you," he said so gratefully that he cursed
himself for his folly as he heard his voice--the idiotic
folly of so plainly betraying his feelings. No wonder
she despised him! Beginning again--and beginning;
"Good-by." Her eyes, her smile flashed and he
was alone, watching her slender grace glide through
the throngs of lower Broadway.
At his office again at three, he found a note from
Tetlow inclosing another of Dorothy's cards and also
the promised check. Into his face came the look that
always comes into the faces of the prisoners of despair
when the bolts slide back and the heavy door swings
and hope stands on the threshold instead of the familiar
grim figure of the jailer. "This looks like the
turn of the road," he muttered. Yes, a turn it certainly
was--but was it THE turn? "I'll know more as to
that," said he with a glance at the clock, "about this
time to-morrow."
It was a boarding house on the west side. And
when the slovenly, smelly maid said, "Go right up to
her room," he knew it was--probably respectable, but
not rigidly respectable. However, working girls must
receive, and they cannot afford parlors and chaperons.
Still-- It was no place for a lovely young girl, full
of charm and of love of life--and not brought up in
the class where the women are trained from babyhood
to protect themselves.
He ascended two flights, knocked at the door to the
rear. "Come!" called a voice, and he entered. It
was a small neat room, arranged comfortably and with
some taste. He recognized at first glance many little
things from her room in the Jersey City house--things
he had provided for her. On the chimney piece was a
large photograph of her father--Norman's eyes hastily
shifted from that. The bed was folded away into
a couch--for space and for respectability. At first
he did not see her. But when he advanced a step
farther, she was disclosed in the doorway of a deep closet
that contained a stationary washstand.
He had never seen her when she was not fully
dressed. He was now seeing her in a kind of wrapper
--of pale blue, clean but not fresh. It was open at the
throat; its sleeves fell away from her arms. And, to
cap the climax of his agitation, her hair, her wonderful
hair, was flowing loosely about her face and shoulders.
"What's the matter with you?" she cried laughingly.
Her eyes sparkled and danced; the waves of her
hair, each hair standing out as if it were alive, sparkled
and danced. It was a smile never to be forgotten.
"Why are you so embarrassed?"
He was embarrassed. He was thrilled. He was
enraged--enraged because, if she would thus receive
him whom she did not like, she would certainly thus
receive any man.
"I don't mind you," she went on, mockingly. "I'd
have to be careful if it was one of the boys."
"Do you receive the--boys--here?" demanded he
glumly, his voice arrogant with the possessive rights a
man feels when he cares for a woman, whether she cares
for him or not.
"Why not?" scoffed she. "Where else would I
see them? I don't make street corner dates, thank you.
You're as bad as fat, foolish Mr. Tetlow."
"I beg your pardon," said he humbly.
She straightway relented, saying: "Of course I'd
not let one of the boys come up when I was dressed like
this. But I didn't mind YOU." He winced at this
amiable, unconscious reminder of her always exasperating
and tantalizing and humiliating indifference to him--
"And as I'm going to a grand dance to-night I simply
had to wash my hair. Does that satisfy you, Mr.
He hid the torment of his reopened wound and seated
himself at the center table. She returned to a chair
in the window where the full force of the afternoon sun
would concentrate upon her hair. And he gazed spell
bound. He had always known that her hair was fine.
He had never dreamed it was like this. It was thick,
it was fine and soft. In color, as the sunbeams streamed
upon it, it was all the shades of gold and all the other
beautiful shades between brown and red. It fell about
her face, about her neck, about her shoulders in a
gorgeous veil. And her pure white skin-- It was an even
more wonderful white below the line of her collar--
where he had never seen it before. Such exquisitely
modeled ears--such a delicate nose--and the curve of
her cheeks--and the glory of her eyes! He clinched
his teeth and his hands, sat dumb with his gaze down.
"How do you like my room?" she chattered on.
"It's not so bad--really quite comfortable--though
I'm afraid I'll be cold when the weather changes. But
it's the best I can do. As it is, I don't see how I'm
going to make ends meet. I pay twelve of my fifteen
for this room and two meals. The rest goes for lunch
and car fare. As soon as I have to get clothes--" She
broke off, laughing.
"Well," he said, "what then?"
"I'm sure I don't know," replied she carelessly.
"Perhaps old Mr. Branscombe'll give me a raise. Still,
eighteen or twenty is the most I could hope for--and
that wouldn't mean enough for clothes."
She shook her head vigorously and her hair stood
out yet more vividly and the sunbeams seemed to go
mad with joy as they danced over and under and
through it. He had ventured to glance up; again he
hastily looked down.
"You spoiled me," she went on. "Those few
months over there in Jersey City. It made SUCH a
change in me, though I didn't realize it at the time.
You see, I hadn't known since I was a tiny little girl
what it was to live really decently, and so I was able
to get along quite contentedly. I didn't know any
better." She made a wry face. "How I loathe the
canned and cold storage stuff I have to eat nowadays.
And how I do miss the beautiful room I had in that big
house over there! and how I miss Molly and Pat--and
the garden--and doing as I pleased--and the clothes I
had: I thought I was being careful and not spoiling
myself. You may not believe it, but I was really
conscientious about spending money." She laughed in a
queer, absent way. "I had such a funny idea of what
I had a right to do and what I hadn't. And I didn't
spend so very much on out-and-out luxury. But--
enough to spoil me for this life."
As Norman listened, as he noted--in her appearance,
manner, way of talking--the many meaning signs
of the girl hesitating at the fork of the roads--he felt
within him the twinges of fear, of jealousy--and
through fear and jealousy, the twinges of conscience.
She was telling the truth. He had undermined her ability
to live in purity the life to which her earning power
assigned her. . . . WHY had she been so friendly to
him? Why had she received him in this informal, almost
if not quite inviting fashion?
"So you think I've changed?" she was saying.
"Well--I have. Gracious, what a little fool I was!"
His eyes lifted with an agonized question in them.
She flushed, glanced away, glanced at him again
with the old, sweet expression of childlike innocence
which had so often made him wonder whether it was
merely a mannerism, or was a trick, or was indeed a
beam from a pure soul. "I'm foolish still--in certain
ways," she said significantly.
"And you always intend to be?" suggested he with
a forced smile.
"Oh--yes," replied she--positively enough, yet it
somehow had not the full force of her simple short
statements in the former days.
He believed her. Perhaps because he wished to
believe, must believe, would have been driven quite mad
by disbelief. Still, he believed. As yet she was good.
But it would not last much longer. With him--or
with some other. If with him, then certainly afterward
with another--with others. No matter how jealously
he might guard her, she would go that road, if once she
entered it. If he would have her for his very own he
must strengthen her, not weaken her, must keep her
"foolish still--in certain ways."
He said: "There's nothing in the other sort of life."
"That's what they say," replied she, with ominous
irritation. "Still--some girls--LOTS of girls seem to
get on mighty well without being so terribly particular."
"You ought to see them after a few years."
"I'm only twenty-one," laughed she. "I've got
lots of time before I'm old. . . . You haven't--married?"
"No," said he.
"I thought I'd have heard, if you had." She
laughed queerly--again shook out her hair, and it
shimmered round her face and over her head and out
from her shoulders like flames. "You've got a kind of
a--Mr. Tetlow way of talking. It doesn't remind me
of you as you were in Jersey City."
She said nothing, she suggested nothing that had
the least impropriety in it, or faintest hint of
impropriety. It was nothing positive, nothing aggressive,
but a certain vague negative something that gave him
the impression of innocence still innocent but looking
or trying to look tolerantly where it should not. And
he felt dizzy and sick, stricken with shame and remorse
and jealous fear. Yes--she was sliding slowly,
gently, unconsciously down to the depth in which he
had been lying, sick and shuddering--no, to deeper
depths--to the depths where there is no light, no trace
of a return path. And he had started her down. He
had done it when he, in his pride and selfishness, had
ignored what the success of his project would mean
for her. But he knew now; in bitterness and shame and
degradation he had learned. "I was infamous!" he
said to himself.
She began to talk in a low, embarrassed voice:
"Sometimes I think of getting married. There's a
young man--a young lawyer--he makes twenty-five
a week, but it'll be years and years before he has a
good living. A man doesn't get on fast in New York
unless he has pull."
Norman, roused from his remorse, blazed inside.
"You are in love with him?"
She laughed, and he could not tell whether it was
to tease him or to evade.
"You'd not care about him long," said Norman,
"unless there were more money coming in than he'd
be likely to get soon. Love without money doesn't go
--at least, not in New York."
"Do you suppose I don't know that?" said she
with the irritation of one faced by a hateful fact.
"Still--I don't see what to do."
Norman, biting his lip and fuming and observing
her with jealous eyes, said in the best voice he could
command, "How long have you been in love with him?"
"Did I say I was in love?" mocked she.
"You didn't say you weren't. Who is he?"
"If you'll stay on about half an hour or so, you'll
see him. No--you can't. I've got to get dressed before
I let him up. He has very strict ideas--where I'm concerned."
"Then why did you let ME come up?" Norman said,
with a penetrating glance.
She lowered her gaze and a faint flush stole into her
cheeks. Was it confession of the purpose he suspected?
Or, was it merely embarrassment?
"I heard of a case once," continued Norman, his
gaze significantly direct, "the case of a girl who was
in love with a poor young fellow. She wanted money
--luxury. Also, she wanted the poor young fellow."
The color flamed into the girl's face, then left it pale.
Her white fingers fluttered with nervous grace into her
masses of hair and back to her lap again, to rest there
in timid quiet.
"She knew another man," pursued Norman, "one
who was able to give her what she wanted in the way of
comfort. So, she decided to make an arrangement with
the man, and keep it hidden from her lover--and in that
way get along pleasantly until her lover was in better
circumstances ."
Her gaze was upon her hands, listless in her lap. He
felt that he had spoken her unspoken, probably
unformed thoughts. Yes, unformed. Men and women,
especially women, habitually pursued these unacknowledged
and--even unformed purposes, in their conflicts of
the desire to get what they wanted and their desire to
appear well to themselves.
"What would you think of an arrangement like
that?" asked he, determined to draw her secret heart
into the open where he could see, where she could see.
She lifted frank, guileless eyes to his. "I suppose
the girl was trying to do the best she could."
"What do you think of a girl who'd do that?"
"I don't judge anybody--any more. I've found out
that this world isn't at all as I thought--as I was
"Would YOU do it?"
She smiled faintly. "No," she replied uncertainly.
Then she restored his wavering belief in her essential
honesty and truthfulness by adding: "That is to say, I
don't think I would."
She busied herself with her hair, feeling it to see
whether it was not yet dry, spreading it out. He looked
at her unseeingly. At last she said: "You must go.
I've got to get dressed."
"Yes--I must be going," said he absently, rising
and reaching for his hat on the center table.
She stood up, put out her hand. "I'm glad you
"Thank you," said he, still in the same abstraction.
He shook hands with her, moved hesitatingly toward the
door. With his hand on the knob he turned and glanced
keenly at her. He surprised in her face a look of mystery--
of seriousness, of sadness--was there anxiety in it,
also? And then he saw a certain elusive reminder of her
father--and it brought to him with curious force the
memory of how she had been brought up, of what must
be hers by inheritance and by training--she, the daughter
of a great and simple and noble man--
"You'll come again?" she said, and there was the
note in her voice that made his nerves grow tense and
But he seemed not to have heard her question. Still
at the unopened door, he folded his arms upon his chest
and said, speaking rapidly yet with the deliberation of
one who has thought out his words in advance:
"I don't know what kind of girl you are. I never
have known. I've never wanted to know. If you told
me you were--what is called good, I'd doubt it. If you
told me you weren't, I'd want to kill you and myself.
They say there's a fatal woman for every man and a
fatal man for every woman. I always laughed at the
idea--until you. I don't know what to make of myself."
She suddenly laid her finger on her lips. It irritated
him, to discover that, as he talked, speaking the things
that came from the very depths of his soul, she had been
giving him only part of her attention, had been listening
for a step on the stairs. He was hearing the ascending
step now. He frowned. "Can't you send him away?"
he asked.
"I must," said she in a low tone. "It wouldn't do
for him to know you were here. He has strict ideas--
and is terribly jealous."
A few seconds of silence, then a knock on the other
side of the door.
"Who's there?" she called.
"I'm a little early," came in an agreeable, young
man's voice. "Aren't you ready?"
"Not nearly," replied she, in a laughing, innocent
voice. "You'll have to go away for half an hour."
"I'll wait out here on the steps."
Her eyes were sparkling. A delicate color had
mounted to her skin. Norman, watching her jealously,
clinched his strong jaws. She said: "No--you must
go clear away. I don't want to feel that I'm being
hurried. Don't come back until a quarter past four."
"All right. I'm crazy to see you." This in the
voice of a lover. She smiled radiantly at Norman, as if
she thought he would share in her happiness at these
evidences of her being well loved. The unseen young
man said: "Exactly a quarter past. What time does
your clock say it is now?"
"A quarter to," replied she.
"That's what my watch says. So there'll be no
mistake. For half an hour--good-by!"
"Half an hour!" she called.
She and Norman stood in silence until the footsteps
died away. Then she said crossly to Norman: "You
ought to have gone before. I don't like to do these
"You do them well," said he, with a savage gleam.
She was prompt and sure with his punishment. She
said, simply and sweetly: "I'd do anything to keep HIS
good opinion of me."
Norman felt and looked cowed. "You don't know
how it makes me suffer to see you fond of another man,"
he cried.
She seemed not in the least interested, went to the
mirror of the bureau and began to inspect her hair with
a view to doing it up. "You can go in five minutes,"
said she. "By that time he'll be well out of the way.
Anyhow, if he saw you leaving the house he'd not know
but what you had been to see some one else. He knows
you by reputation but not by sight."
Norman went to her, took her by the shoulders gently
but strongly. "Look at me," he said.
She looked at him with an expression, or perhaps
absence of expression, that was simple listening.
"If you meant awhile ago some such thing as I
hinted--I will have nothing to do with it. You must
marry me--or it's nothing at all."
Her gaze did not wander, but before his wondering
eyes she seemed to fade, fade toward colorlessness insignificance.
The light died from her eyes, the flush of
health from her white skin, the freshness from her lips,
the sparkle and vitality from her hair. A slow, gradual
transformation, which he watched with a frightened
tightening at the heart.
She said slowly: "You--want--me--to--MARRY--
"I've always wanted it, though I didn't realize,"
replied he. "How else could I be sure of you? Besides--"
He flushed, added hurriedly, almost in an undertone--
"I owe it to you."
She seated herself deliberately.
After he had waited in vain for her to speak, he
went on: "If you married me, I know you'd play square.
I could trust you absolutely. I don't know--can't find
out much about you--but at least I know that."
"But I don't love you," said she.
"You needn't remind me of it," rejoined he curtly.
"I don't think so--so poorly of you as I used to,"
she went on. "I understand a lot of things better
than I did. But I don't love you, and I feel that I
never could."
"I'll risk that," said Norman. Through his
clinched teeth, "I've got to risk it."
"I'd be marrying you because I don't feel able to
--to make my own way."
"That's the reason most girls have for marrying,"
said he. "Love comes afterward--if it comes. And
it's the more likely to come for the girl not having
faked the man and herself beforehand."
She glanced at the clock. He frowned. She started
up. "You MUST go," she said.
"What is your answer?"
"Oh, I couldn't decide so quickly. I must think."
"You mean you must see your young man again
--see whether there isn't some way of working it out
with him."
"That, too," replied she simply. "But--it's nearly
four o'clock----"
"I'll come back at seven for my answer."
"No, I'll write you to-night."
"I must know at once. This suspense has got to
end. It unfits me for everything."
"I'll--I'll decide--to-night," she said, with a queer
catch in her voice. "You'll get the letter in the morning
"Very well." And he gave her his club address.
She opened the door in her impatience to be rid of
him. He went with a hasty "Good-by" which she
echoed as she closed the door.
When he left the house he saw standing on the curb
before it a tall, good-looking young man--with a frank
amiable face. He hesitated, glowering at the young
man's profile. Then he went his way, suffocating with
jealous anger, depressed, despondent, fit for nothing
but to drink and to brood in fatuous futility.
UNTIL very recently indeed psychology was not an
ology at all but an indefinite something or other "up
in the air," the sport of the winds and fogs of
transcendental tommy rot. Now, however, science has drawn
it down, has fitted it in its proper place as a branch of
physiology. And we are beginning to have a clearer
understanding of the thoughts and the thought-producing
actions of ourselves and our fellow beings. Soon
it will be no longer possible for the historian and the
novelist, the dramatist, the poet, the painter or sculptor
to present in all seriousness as instances of sane human
conduct, the aberrations resulting from various forms
of disease ranging from indigestion in its mild, temperbreeding
forms to acute homicidal or suicidal mania.
In that day of greater enlightenment a large body of
now much esteemed art will become ridiculous. Practically
all the literature of strenuous passion will go by
the board or will be relegated to the medical library
where it belongs; and it, and the annals of violence
found in the daily newspapers of our remote time will
be cited as documentary proof of the low economic and
hygienic conditions prevailing in that almost barbarous
period. For certain it is that the human animal when
healthy and well fed is invariably peaceable and kindly
and tolerant--up to the limits of selfishness, and even
encroaching upon those limits.
Of writing rubbish about love and passion there is
no end--and will be no end until the venerable traditional
nonsense about those interesting emotions shares
the fate that should overtake all the cobwebs of ignorance
thickly clogging the windows and walls of the
human mind. Of all the fiddle-faddle concerning passion
probably none is more shudderingly admired than the
notion that one possessed of an overwhelming desire for
another longs to destroy that other. It is true there
is a form of murderous mania that involves practically
all the emotions, including of course the passions--which
are as readily subject to derangement as any other part
of the human organism. But passion in itself--even
when it is so powerful that it dominates the whole life,
as in the case of Frederick Norman--passion in itself
is not a form of mental derangement in the medical
sense. And it does not produce acute selfishness,
paranoiac egotism, but a generous and beautiful kind of
unselfishness. Not from the first moment of Fred Norman's
possession did he wish to injure or in any way
to make unhappy the girl he loved. He longed to be
happy with her, to have her happy with and through
him. He represented his plotting to himself as a plan
to make her happier than she ever had been; as for
ultimate consequences, he refused to consider them.
The most hardened rake, when passion possesses him,
wishes all happiness to the woman of his pursuit.
Indifference, coldness--the natural hard-heartedness of
the normal man--returns only when the inspiration and
elevation of passion disappear in satiety. The man or
the woman who continues to inspire passion continues
to inspire tenderness and considerateness.
So when Norman left Dorothy that Sunday afternoon,
he, being a normal if sore beset human being, was
soon in the throes of an agonized remorse. There may
have been some hypocrisy in it, some struggling to cover
up the baser elements in his infatuation for her. What
human emotion of upward tendency has not at least a
little of the varnish of hypocrisy on certain less presentable
spots in it? But in the main it was a creditable,
a manly remorse, and not altogether the writhings of
jealousy and jealous fear of losing her.
He saw clearly that she was telling the truth, and
telling it too gently, when she said he was responsible
for her having standards of living which she could not
unaided hope to attain. It is a dreadful thing to interfere
in the destiny of a fellow being. We do it all the
time; we do it lightly. Nevertheless, it is a dreadful
thing--not one that ought not to be done, but one that
ought to be done only under imperative compulsion,
and then with every precaution. He had interfered in
Dorothy Hallowell's destiny. He had lifted her out of
the dim obscure niche where she was ensconced in
comparative contentment. He had lifted her up where she
had seen and felt the pleasures of a life of luxury.
"But for me," he said to himself, "she would now
be marrying this poor young lawyer, or some chap of
the same sort, and would be looking forward to a life
of happiness in a little flat or suburban cottage."
If she should refuse his offer--what then? Clearly
he ought to do his best to help her to happiness with
the other man. He smiled cynically at the moral height
to which his logic thus pointed the way. Nevertheless,
he did not turn away but surveyed it--and there formed
in his mind an impulse to make an effort to attempt
that height, if Fate should rule against him with her.
"If I were a really decent man," thought he, "I'd
sit down now and write her that I would not marry
her but would give her young man a friendly hand in
the law if she wished to marry him." But he knew that
such utter generosity was far beyond him. "Only a
hero could do it," said he; he added with what a
sentimentalist might have called a return of his normal
cynicism, "only a hero who really in the bottom of
his heart didn't especially want the girl." And a
candid person of experience might possibly admit that
there was more truth than cynicism in his look askance
at the grand army of martyrs of renunciation, most
of whom have simply given up something they didn't
really want.
"If she accepts me, I'll make it impossible for her
not to be happy," he said to himself, in all the fine
unselfishness of passion--not divine unselfishness but
human--not the kind we read about and pretend to have
--and get a savage attack of bruised vanity if we are
accused of not having it--no, but just the kind we
have and show in our daily lives--the unselfishness of
longing to make happy those whom it would make us
happier to see happy. "She may think she cares for
this young clerk--" so ran his thoughts--"but she
doesn't know her own mind. When she is mine, I'll take
her in hand as a gardener does a delicate rare flower
--and, by Heaven, how I shall make her blossom and
It would hardly be possible for a human being to
pass a stormier night than was that night of his.
Alternations between hope and despair--fantastic
pictures of future with and without her, wild pleadings
with her--those delirious transports to which our
imaginations give way if we happen to be blessed and cursed
with imaginations--in the security of the darkness and
aloneness of night and bed. And through it all he was
tormented body and soul by her loveliness--her hair,
her skin, her eyes, the shy, slender graces of her form--
He tossed about until his bed was so wildly disheveled
that he had to rise and remake it.
When day came and the first mail, there was her
letter on the salver of the boy entering the room.
He reached for it with eager, trembling arm, drew back.
"Put it on the table," he said.
The boy left. He was alone. Leaning upon his
elbow in the bed he stared at the letter with hollow,
terrified eyes. It contained his destiny. If she accepted,
he would go up, for his soul sickness would be cured.
If she refused, he would cease to struggle. He rose,
took from a locked drawer a bottle of rye whisky. He
poured a tall glass--the kind called a bar glass--half
full, drank it straight down without a pause or a quiver.
The shock brought him up standing. He looked and
acted like his former self as he went to the table, took
the letter, opened it, and read:
"I am willing to marry you, if you really want me.
I am so tired of struggling, and I don't see anything but
dark ahead.--D. H."
Norman struggled over to the bed, threw himself
down, flat upon his back, arms and legs extended wide
and whole body relaxed. He felt the blood whirl up
into his brain like the great red and black tongues of
flame and smoke in a conflagration, and then he slept
soundly until nearly one o'clock.
To an outsider there would have been a world of
homely commonplace pathos in that little letter of the
girl's if read aright, that is to say, if read with what
was between the lines supplied. It is impossible to live
in cities any length of time and with any sort of eyes
without learning the bitter unromantic truths about
poverty--city poverty. In quiet, desolate places one
may be poor, very poor, without much conscious
suffering. There are no teasing contrasts, no torturing
temptations. But in a city, if one knows anything at
all of the possibilities of civilized life, of the joys and
comforts of good food, clothing, and shelter, of theater
and concert and excursion, of entertaining and being
entertained, poverty becomes a hell. In the country,
in the quiet towns, the innocent people wonder at the
greediness of the more comfortable kinds of city people,
at their love of money, their incessant dwelling upon
it, their reverence for those who have it, their paniclike
flight from those who have it not. They wonder
how folk, apparently human, can be so inhuman. Let
them be careful how they judge. If you discover any
human being anywhere acting as you think a human
being should not, investigate all the circumstances, look
thoroughly into all the causes of his or her conduct,
before you condemn him or her as inhuman, unworthy of
your kinship and your sympathy.
In her brief letter the girl showed that, young though
she was and not widely experienced in life, she yet had
seen the horrors of city poverty, how it poisons and
kills all the fine emotions. She had seen many a loving
young couple start out confidently, with a few hundred
dollars of debt for furniture--had seen the love fade
and wither, shrivel, die--had seen appear peevishness
and hatred and unfaithfulness and all the huge, foul
weeds that choke the flowers of married life. She knew
what her lover's salary would buy--and what it would
not buy--for two. She could imagine their fate if
there should be three or more. She showed frankly her
selfishness of renunciation. But there could be read
between the lines--concealed instead of vaunted--perhaps
unsuspected--her unselfishness of renunciation for
the sake of her lover and for the sake of the child or
the children that might be. In our love of moral sham
and glitter, we overlook the real beauties of human
morality; we even are so dim or vulgar sighted that we
do not see them when they are shown to us.
As Norman awakened, he reached for the telephone,
said to the boy in charge of the club exchange: "Look
in the book, find the number of a lawyer named Branscombe,
and connect me with his office." After some
confusion and delay he got the right office, but Dorothy
was out at lunch. He left a message that she was to
call him up at the club as soon as she came in. He was
shaving when the bell rang.
He was at the receiver in a bound. "Is it you?"
he said.
"Yes," came in her quiet, small voice.
"Will you resign down there to-day? Will you
marry me this afternoon?"
A brief silence, then--"Yes."
Thus it came about that they met at the City Hall
license bureau, got their license, and half an hour later
were married at the house of a minister in East Thirtythird
Street, within a block of the Subway station. He
was feverish, gay, looked years younger than his thirtyseven.
She was quiet, dim, passive, neither grave nor
gay, but going through her part without hesitation,
with much the same patient, plodding expression she
habitually bore as she sat working at her machine--as
if she did not quite understand, but was doing her best
and hoped to get through not so badly.
"I've had nothing to eat," said he as they came out
of the parsonage.
"Nor I," said she.
"We'll go to Delmonico's," said he, and hailed a
passing taxi.
On the way, he sitting in one corner explained to her,
shrunk into the other corner: "I can confess now that
I married you under false pretenses. I am not prosperous,
as I used to be. To be brief and plain, I'm down
and out, professionally."
She did not move. Apparently she did not change
expression. Yet he, speaking half banteringly, felt
some frightful catastrophe within her. "You are--
poor?" she said in her usual quiet way.
"WE are poor," corrected he. "I have at present
only a thousand dollars a month--a little more, but not
enough to talk about."
She did not move or change expression. Yet he felt
that her heart, her blood were going on again.
"Are you--angry?" he asked.
"A thousand dollars a month seems an awful lot of
money to me," she said.
"It's nothing--nothing to what we'll soon have.
Trust me." And back into his eyes flashed their former
look. "I've been sick. I'm well again. I shall get
what I want. If you want anything, you've only to
ask for it. I'll get it. I know how. . . . I don't prey,
myself--I've no fancy for the brutal sports. But I
teach lions how to prey, and I make them pay for the
lessons." He laughed with an effervescing of young
vitality and self-confidence that made him look handsome
and powerful. "In the future they'll have to pay still
higher prices."
She was looking at him with weary, wondering,
pathetic eyes that gazed from the pallor of her deadwhite
face mysteriously.
"What are you thinking?" he asked.
"I was listening," replied she.
"Doesn't it make you happy--what you are going
to have?"
"No," replied she. "But it makes me content."
With eyes suddenly suffused, he took her hand--so
gently. "Dorothy," he said, "you will try to love
"I'll try," said she. "You'll be kind to me?"
"I couldn't be anything else," he cried. And in a
gust of passion he caught her to his breast and kissed
her triumphantly. "I love you--and you're mine--mine!"
She released herself with the faint insistent push
that seemed weak, but always accomplished its purpose.
Her lip was trembling. "You said you'd be kind," she
He gazed at her with a baffled expression. "Oh--I
understand," he said. "And I shall be kind. But I
must teach you to love me."
Her trembling lip steadied. "You must be careful
or you may teach me to hate you," said she.
He studied her in a puzzled way, laughed. "What
a mystery you are!" he cried with raillery. "Are you
child or are you woman? No matter. We shall be
The taxicab was swinging to the curb. In the
restaurant he ordered an enormous meal. And he ate
enormously, and drank in due proportion. She ate and
drank a good deal herself--a good deal for her. And
the results were soon apparent in a return of the spirits
that are normal to twenty-one years, regardless of what
may be lurking in the heart, in a dark corner, to come
forth and torment when there is nothing to distract the
"We shall have to live quietly for a while," said he.
"Of course you must have clothes-at once. I'll take
you shopping to-morrow." He laughed grimly.
"Just at present we can get only what we pay cash for.
Still, you won't need much. Later on I'll take you over
to Paris. Does that attract you?"
Her eyes shone. "How soon?" she asked.
"I can tell you in a week or ten days." He became
abstracted for a moment. "I can't understand how I
let them get me down so easily--that is, I can't understand
it now. I suppose it's just the difference between
being weak with illness and strong with health." His
eyes concentrated on her. "Is it really you?" he cried
gaily. "And are you really mine? No wonder I feel
strong! It was always that way with me. I never
could leave a thing until I had conquered it."
She gave him a sweet smile. "I'm not worth all the
trouble you seem to have taken about me," said she.
He laughed; for he knew the intense vanity so
pleasantly hidden beneath her shy and modest exterior.
"On the contrary," said he good-humoredly, "you in
your heart think yourself worth any amount of trouble.
It's a habit we men have got you women into. And
you-- One of the many things that fascinate me in
you is your supreme self-control. If the king were to
come down from his throne and fall at your feet, you'd
take it as a matter of course."
She gazed away dreamily. And he understood that
her indifference to matters of rank and wealth and
power was not wholly vanity but was, in part at least,
due to a feeling that love was the only essential. Nor
did he wonder how she was reconciling this belief of high
and pure sentiment with what she was doing in marrying
him. He knew that human beings are not consistent,
cannot be so in a universe that compels them to
face directly opposite conditions often in the same
moment. But just as all lines are parallel in infinity, so
all actions are profoundly consistent when referred to
the infinitely broad standard of the necessity that every
living thing shall look primarily to its own well being.
Disobedience to this fundamental carries with it
inevitable punishment of disintegration and death; and
those catastrophes are serious matters when one has but
the single chance at life, that will be repeated never
again in all the eternities.
After their late lunch or early dinner, they drove to
her lodgings. He went up with her and helped her to
pack--not a long process, as she had few belongings.
He noted that the stockings and underclothes she took
from the bureau drawers were in anything but good
condition, that the half dozen dresses she took from the
closet and folded on the couch were about done for.
Presently she said, cheerfully and with no trace of false
"You see, I'm pretty nearly in rags."
"Oh, that's soon arranged," replied he. "Why
bother to take these things? Why not give them to
the maid?"
She debated with herself. "I think you're right,"
she decided. "Yes, I'll give them to Jennie."
"The underclothes, too," he urged. "And the
It ended in her having left barely enough loosely to
fill the bottom of a small trunk with two trays.
They drove to the Knickerbocker Hotel, and he took
a small suite, one of the smallest and least luxurious in
the house, for with all his desire to make her feel the
contrast of her change of circumstances sharply, he
could not forget how limited his income was, and how
unwise it would be to have to move in a few days to
humbler quarters. He hoped that the rooms,
englamoured by the hotel's general air of costly luxury,
would sufficiently impress her. And while she gave no
strong indication but accepted everything in her wonted
quiet, passive manner, he was shrewd enough to see that
she was content. "To-morrow," he said to himself,
"after she has done some shopping, the last regret will
leave her, and her memory of that clerk will begin to
fade fast. I'll give her too much else to think about."
The following morning, when they faced each other
at breakfast in their sitting room, he glanced at her
from time to time in wonder and terror. She looked not
merely insignificant, but positively homely. Her skin
had a sickly pallor; her hair seemed to be of many
different and disagreeable shades of uninteresting dead
yellow. Her eyes suggested faded blue china dishes,
with colorless lashes and reddened edges of the lids.
Her lips had lost their rosy freshness, her teeth their
sparkling whiteness.
His heavy heart seemed to be resting nauseously
upon the pit of his stomach. Was his infatuation sheer
delusion, with no basis of charm in her at all? Was
she, indeed, nothing but this unattractive, faded little
commonplaceness?--a poor specimen of an inferior
order of working girl? What an awakening! And she
was his WIFE!--was his companion for the yet more
brilliant career he had resolved and was planning! He
must introduce her everywhere, must see the not to be
concealed amazement in the faces of his acquaintances,
must feel the cruel covert laughter and jeering at his
weak folly! Was there ever in history or romance a
parallel to such fatuity as his? Why, people would be
right in thinking him a sham, a mere bluffer at the high
and strong qualities he was reputed to have.
Had Norman been, in fact, the man of ice and iron
the compulsions of a career under the social system made
him seem, the homely girl opposite him that morning
would speedily have had something to think about other
than her unhappiness of the woman who has given her
person to one man and her heart to another. Instead,
the few words he addressed to her were all gentleness and
forbearance. Stronger than his chagrin was his pity
for her--the poor, unconscious victim of his mad hallucination.
If she thought about the matter at all, she
assumed that he was still the slave of her charms--for,
the florid enthusiasm of man's passion inevitably deludes
the woman into fancying it objective instead of wholly
subjective; and, only the rare very wise woman, after
much experience, learns to be suspicious of the validity
of her own charms and to concentrate upon keeping up
the man's delusions.
At last he rose and kissed her on the brow and let
his hand rest gently on her shoulder--what a difference
between those caresses and the caresses that had made
her beg him to be "kind" to her! Said he:
"Do you mind if I leave you alone for a while? I
ought to go to the club and have the rest of my things
packed and sent. I'll not be gone long--about an
"Very well," said she lifelessly.
"I'll telephone my office that I'll not be down
With an effort she said, "There's no reason for
doing that. I don't want to interfere with your business."
"I'm neglecting nothing. And that shopping must
be done."
She made no reply, but went to the window, and
from the height looked down and out upon the mighty
spread of the city. He observed her a moment with a
dazed pitying expression, took his hat and departed.
It was nearly two hours before he got together sufficient
courage to return. He had been hoping--had
been saying to himself with vigorous effort at confidence
--that he had simply seen one more of the many
transformations, each of which seemed to present her as a
wholly different personality. When he should see her
again, she would have wiped out the personality that
had shocked and saddened him, would appear as some
new variety of enchantress, perhaps even more potent
over his senses than ever before. But a glance as he
entered demolished that hope. She was no different
than when he left. Evidently she had been crying, and
spasms of that sort always accentuate every unloveliness.
He did not try to nerve himself to kiss her, but
"It'll not take you long to get ready?"
She moved to rise from her languid rest upon the
sofa. She sank back. "Perhaps we'd better not go
to-day," suggested she.
"Don't you feel well?" he asked, and his tone was
more sympathetic than it would have been had his sympathy
been genuine.
"Not very," replied she, with a faint deprecating
smile. "And not very--not very----"
"Not very what?" he said, in a tone of encouragement.
"Not very happy," she confessed. "I'm afraid
I've made a--a dreadful mistake."
He looked at her in silence. She could have said
nothing that would have caused a livelier response within
himself. His cynicism noted the fact that while he had
mercifully concealed his discontent, she was thinking
only of herself. But he did not blame her. It was
only the familiar habit of the sex, bred of man's
assiduous cultivation of its egotism. He said: "Oh, you'll
feel differently about it later. Let's get some fresh air
and see what the shops have to offer."
A pause, then she, timidly: "Would you mind very
much if I--if I didn't--go on?"
"You mean, if you left me?"
She nodded without looking at him. He could not
understand himself, but as he sat observing her, so
young, so inexperienced and so undesirable, a pity of
which he would not have dreamed his nature capable
welled up in him, choking his throat with sobs he could
scarcely restrain and filling his eyes with tears he had
secretly to wipe away. And he felt himself seized of a
sense of responsibility for her as strong in its solemn,
still way as any of the paroxysms of his passion had
He said: "My dear--you mustn't decide anything
so important to you in a hurry."
A tremor passed over her, and he thought she was
going to dissolve in hysterics. But she exhibited once
more that marvelous and mysterious self-control, whose
secret had interested and baffled him. She said in her
dim, quiet way:
"It seems to me I just can't stay on."
"You can always go, you know. Why not try it a
few days?"
He could feel the trend of her thoughts, and in the
way things often amuse us without in the least moving
us to wish to laugh, he was amused by noting that she
was trying to bring herself to stay on, out of consideration
for HIS feelings! He said with a kind of paternal
"Whenever you want to go, I am willing to arrange
things for you--so that you needn't worry about money.
But I feel that, as I am older than you, I ought to do all
I can to keep you from making a mistake you might
soon regret."
She studied him dubiously. He saw that she--
naturally enough--did not believe in his disinterestedness,
that she hadn't a suspicion of his change, or,
rather collapse, of feeling. She said:
"If you ask it, I'll stay a while. But you must
promise to--to be kind to me."
There was only gentleness in his smile. But what a
depth of satirical self-mockery and amusement at her
innocent young egotism it concealed! "You'll never
have reason to speak of that again, my dear," said he.
"I--can--trust you?" she said.
"Absolutely," replied he. "I'll have another room
opened into this suite. Would you like that?"
"If you--if you don't mind."
He stood up with sudden boyish buoyance. "Now
--let's go shopping. Let's amuse ourselves."
She rose with alacrity. She eyed him uncertainly,
then flung her arms round his neck and kissed him.
"You are SO good to me!" she cried. "And I'm not a
bit nice."
He did not try to detain her, but sent her to finish
dressing, with an encouraging pat on the shoulder and a
cheerful, "Don't worry about yourself--or me."
ABOUT half an hour later the door into the bedroom
opened and she appeared on the threshold of the sitting
room, ready for the street. He stared at her in the
dazed amazement of a man faced by the impossible, and
uncertain whether it is sight or reason that is tricking
him. She had gone into the bedroom not only homely
but commonplace, not only commonplace but common,
a dingy washed-out blonde girl whom it would be a
humiliation to present as his wife. She was standing there,
in the majesty of such proud pale beauty as poets
delight to ascribe to a sorrowful princess. Her wonderful
skin was clear and translucent, giving her an ethereal
look. Her hair reminded him again of what marvels he
had seen in the sunlight of Sunday afternoon. And
looking at her form and the small head so gracefully
capping it, he could think only of the simile that had
always come to him in his moments of ecstasy--the lily
on its tall stem.
And once more, like a torrent, the old infatuation
sprang from its dried sources and came rushing and
overwhelming through vein and nerve. "Am I mad
now?--was I mad a few moments ago?--is it she or is
it my own disordered senses?"
She was drawing on her gloves, was unconscious of
his confusion. He controlled himself and said: "You
have a most disconcerting way of changing your appearance."
She glanced down at her costume. "No, it's the
same dress. I've only the one, you know."
He longed to take her in his arms, but could not
trust himself. And this wonder-girl, his very own, was
talking of leaving him! And he--not an hour before--
he, apparently in his right senses had been tolerating
such preposterous talk! Give her up? Never! He
must see to it that the subject did not find excuse for
intruding again. "I have frightened her--have
disgusted her. I must restrain myself. I must be patient
--and teach her slowly--and win her gradually."
They spent an interesting and even exciting afternoon,
driving from shop to shop and selecting the first
beginnings of her wardrobe. He had only about three
hundred dollars. Some of the things they ordered were
ready for delivery, and so had to be paid for at once.
When they returned to the hotel he had but fifty dollars
left--and had contracted debts that made it necessary
for him to raise at least a thousand dollars within a week.
He saw that his freedom with sums of money which
terrified her filled her with awe and admiration--and that
he was already more successful than he had expected to
be, in increasing her hesitation about leaving him.
Among the things they had bought were a simple black
chiffon dress and a big plumed black hat to match.
These needed no alterations and were delivered soon
after they returned. Some silk stockings came also and
a pair of slippers bought for the dinner toilet.
"You can dress to-night," said he, "and I'll take
you to Sherry's, and to the theater afterwards."
She was delighted. At last she was going to look
like the women of whom she had been dreaming these
last few months. She set about dressing herself, he
waiting in the sitting room in a state of acute nervousness.
What would be the effect of such a toilet? Would
she look like a lady--or like--what she had suggested
that morning? She was so changeable, had such a wide
range of variability that he dared not hope. When she
finally appeared, he was ready to fall down and worship.
He was about to take her where his world would see her,
where every inch of her would be subjected to the cruelest,
most hostile criticism. One glance at her, and he
knew a triumph awaited him. No man and no woman
would wonder that he had lost his head over such beauty
as hers. Hat and dress seemed just what had been
needed to bring out the full glory of her charms.
"You are incredibly beautiful," he said in an awed
tone. "I am proud of you."
A little color came into her cheeks. She looked at
herself in the mirror with her quiet intense secret, yet
not covert vanity. He laughed in boyish pleasure.
"This is only the small beginning," said he. "Wait a
few months."
At dinner and in a box at the theater afterwards, he
had the most exquisite pleasure of his life. She had been
seen by many of his former friends, and he was certain
they knew who she was. He felt that he would have no
difficulty in putting her in the place his wife should
occupy. A woman with such beauty as hers was a sensation,
one fashionable society would not deny itself.
She had good manners, an admirable manner. With a
little coaching she would be as much at home in grandeur
as were those who had always had it.
The last fear of losing her left him. On the way
back to the hotel he, in a delirium of pride and passion,
crushed her in his arms and caressed her with the frenzy
that had always terrified her. She resisted only faintly,
was almost passive. "She is mine!" he said to himself,
exultantly. "She is really mine!"
When he awoke in the morning she was still asleep--
looked like a tired lovely child. Several times, while he
was dressing, he went in to feast his eyes upon her
beauty. How could he possibly have thought her
homely, in whatever moment of less beauty or charm
she might have had? The crowning charm of infinite
variety! She had a delightfully sweet disposition. He
was not sure how much or how little intelligence she
had--probably more than most women. But what did
that matter? It would be impossible ever to grow weary
or to be anything but infatuated lover when she had
such changeful beauty.
He kissed her lightly on her thick braids, as he was
about to go. He left a note explaining that he did not
wish to disturb her and that it was necessary for him
to be at the office earlier. And that morning in all
New York no man left his home for the day's struggle
for dollars with a freer or happier heart, or readier to
play the game boldly, skillfully, with success.
Certainly he needed all his courage and all his skill.
To most of the people who live in New York and
elsewhere throughout the country--or the world, for
that matter--an income of a thousand dollars a month
seems extremely comfortable, to say the least of it. The
average American family of five has to scrape along
on about half that sum a year. But among the
comfortable classes in New York--and perhaps in one or
two other cities--a thousand dollars a month is literally
genteel poverty. To people accustomed to what is
called luxury nowadays--people with the habit of the
private carriage, the private automobile, and several
servants--to such people a thousand dollars a month is
an absurd little sum. It would not pay for the food
alone. It would not buy for a man and his wife, with
no children, clothing enough to enable them to make a
decent appearance.
Norman, living alone and living very quietly indeed,
might have got along for a while on that sum, if he had
taken much thought about expenditures, had persisted
in such severe economies as using street cars instead of
taxicabs and drinking whisky at dinner instead of his
customary quart of six-dollar champagne. Norman,
the married man, could not escape disaster for a single
month on an income so pitiful.
Probably on the morning on which he set out for
downtown in search of money enough to enable him to
live decently, not less than ten thousand men on
Manhattan Island left comfortable or luxurious homes faced
with precisely the same problem. And each and every
one of them knew that on that day or some day soon
they must find the money demanded imperiously by their
own and their families' tastes and necessities or be ruined
--flung out, trampled upon, derided as failures, hated
by the "loved ones" they had caused to be humiliated.
And every man of that legion had a fine, an unusually
fine brain--resourceful, incessant, teeming with schemes
for wresting from those who had dollars the dollars they
dared not go home without. And those ten thousand
quickest and most energetic brains, by their mode of
thought and action, determined the thought and action
of the entire country--gave the mercenary and unscrupulous
cast to the whole social system. Themselves the
victims of conditions, they were the bellwethers to
millions of victims compelled to follow their leadership.
Norman, by the roundabout mode of communication
he and Tetlow had established, summoned his friend and
backer to his office. "Tetlow," he began straight off,
"I've got to have more money."
"How much?" said Tetlow.
"More than you can afford to advance me."
"How much?" repeated Tetlow.
"Three thousand a month right away--at the
"That's a big sum," said Tetlow.
"Yes, for a man used to dealing in small figures.
But in reality it's a moderate income."
"Few large families spend more."
"Few large or small families in my part of New
York pinch along on so little."
"What has happened to you?" said Tetlow, dropping
into a chair and folding his fat hands on his
"Why?" asked Norman.
"It's in your voice--in your face--in your cool
demand for a big income."
"Let's start right, old man," said Norman. "Don't
CALL thirty-six thousand a year big or you'll THINK it big.
And if you think it big, you will stay little."
Tetlow nodded. "I'm ready to grow," said he.
"Now what's happened to you?"
"I've got married," replied Norman.
"I thought so. To Miss--Hallowell?"
"To Miss Hallowell. So my way's clear, and I'm
going to resume the march."
"I've two plans. Either will serve. The first is
yours--the one you partly revealed to me the other
"Partly?" said Tetlow.
"Partly," repeated Norman, laughing. "I know
you, Billy, and that means I know you're absolutely
incapable of plotting as big a scheme as you suggested
to me. It came either from Galloway or from some one
of his clique."
"I said all I'm at liberty to say, Fred."
"I don't wish you to break your promise. All I
want to know is, can I get the three thousand a month
and assurance of its lasting and leading to something
"What is your other scheme?" said Tetlow, and it
was plain to the shrewder young lawyer that the less
shrewd young lawyer wished to gain time.
"Simple and sure," replied Norman. "We will buy
ten shares of Universal Fuel Company through a dummy
and bring suit to dissolve it. I looked into the matter
for Burroughs once when he was after the Fosdick-
Langdon group. Universal Fuel wouldn't dare defend
the action I could bring. We could get what we pleased
for our ten shares to let up on the suit. The moment
their lawyers saw the papers I'd draw, they'd advise it."
Tetlow shook his large, impressively molded head.
"Shady," said he. "Shady."
Norman smiled with good-natured patience. "You
sound like Burroughs or Galloway when they are
denouncing a man for trying to get rich by the same
methods they pursued. My dear Bill, don't be one of
those lawyers who will do the queer work for a client
but not for themselves. There's no sense, no morality,
no intelligent hypocrisy even, in that. We didn't create
the commercial morality of the present day. For God's
sake, let's not be of the poor fools who practice it but
get none of its benefits."
Tetlow shifted uneasily. "I don't like to hear that
sort of thing," said he, apologetic and nervous.
"Is it true?"
"Yes. But--damn it, I don't like to hear it."
"That is to say, you're willing to pay the price of
remaining small and obscure just for the pleasure of
indulging in a wretched hypocrisy of a self-deception.
Bill, come out of the small class. Whether you go in
with me or not, come out of the class of understrappers.
What's the difference between the big men and their
little followers? Why, the big men SEE. They don't
deceive themselves with the cant they pour out for the
benefit of the ignorant mob."
Tetlow was listening like a pupil to a teacher. That
was always his attitude toward Norman.
"The big men," continued Norman, "know that
canting is necessary--that one must always profess
high and disinterested motives, and so on, and so on.
But they don't let their hypocritical talk influence their
actions. How is it with the little fellows? Why, they
believe the flapdoodle the leaders talk. They go into
the enterprise, do all the small dirty work, lie and cheat
and steal, and hand over the proceeds to the big fellows,
for the sake of a pat on the back and a noisy `Honest
fellow! Here are a few crumbs for you.' And crumbs
are all that a weak, silly, hypocritical fool deserves.
Can you deny it?"
"No doubt you're right, Fred," conceded Tetlow.
"But I'm afraid I haven't the nerve."
"Come in behind me. I've got nerve for two--
At that triumphant "now" Tetlow looked curiously
at his friend. "Yes, IT has changed you--changed you
back to what you were. I don't understand."
"It isn't necessary that you understand," rejoined
"Do you think you could really carry through that
scheme you've just outlined?"
"I see it fascinates you."
"I've no objection to rising to the class of big
men," said Tetlow. "But aren't you letting your
confidence in yourself deceive you?"
"Did I ever let it deceive me?"
"No," confessed Tetlow. "I've often watched you,
and thought you'd fall through it, or stumble at least.
But you never did."
"And shall I tell you why? Because I use my selfconfidence
and my hopefulness and all my optimistic
qualities only to create an atmosphere of success. But
when it comes to planning a move of any kind, when
I assemble my lieutenants round the council board in
my brain, I never permit a single cheerful one to speak,
or even to enter. It's a serious, gloomy circle of faces,
Tetlow nodded reminiscently. "Yes, you always
were like that, Fred."
"And the one who does the most talking at my
council is the gloomiest of all. He's Lieutenant Flawpicker.
He can't see any hope for anything. He sees
all the possibilities of failure. He sees all the chances
against success. And what's the result? Why, when
the council rises it has taken out of the plan every
chance of mishap that my intelligence could foresee
and it has provided not one but several safe lines of
orderly retreat in case success proves impossible."
Tetlow gazed at Norman in worshipful admiration.
"What a brain! What a mind!" he ejaculated.
"And to think that YOU could be upset by a WOMAN!"
Norman leaned back in his chair smiling broadly.
"Not by a woman," he corrected. "By a girl--an
inexperienced girl of twenty."
"It seems incredible."
"A grain of dust, dropped into a watch movement
in just the right place--you know what happens."
Tetlow nodded. Then, with a sharp, anxious look,
"But it's all over?"
Norman hesitated. "I believe so," he said.
Tetlow rose and rubbed his thighs. He had been
sitting long in the same position, and he was now stout
enough to suffer from fat man's cramp. "Well," said
he, "we needn't bother about that Universal Fuel
scheme at present. I can guarantee you the three
thousand dollars, and the other things."
Norman shook his head. "Not enough," he said.
"You want more money?"
"No. But I will not work, or rather, wait, in the
dark. Tell your principals that I must be let in."
Tetlow hesitated, walking about the office. Finally
he said, "Look here, Fred--you think I deceived you
the other day--posed as your friend when in reality
I was simply acting as agent for people who wanted
Norman gave Tetlow a look that made him redden
with pleasure. "No, I don't, old man," said he. "I
know you recommended me--and that they were shy of
me because of the way I've been acting--and that you
stood sponsor for me. Isn't that right?"
"Something like that," admitted Tetlow. "But
they were eager to get you. It was only a question of
trusting you. I was able to do you a good turn there."
"And I'll make a rich man, and a famous one, of
you," said Norman.
"Yes. I believe you will," cried Tetlow, tears in
his prominent studious eyes. "I'll see those people in
a day or two, and let you know. Do you need money
right away? Of course you do." And down he sat and
drew a check for fifteen hundred dollars.
Norman laughed as he glanced to see if it was
correctly drawn. "I'd not have dared return to my bride
with empty pockets. That's what it means to live in
New York."
Tetlow grinned. "A sentimental town, isn't it?
Especially the women."
"Oh, I don't blame them," said Norman. "They
need the money, and the only way they've got of making
it is out of sentiment. And you must admit they
give a bully good quality, if the payment is all right."
Tetlow shrugged his shoulders. "I'm glad I don't
need them," said he. "It gives me the creeps to see
them gliding about with their beautiful dresses and
their sweet, soft faces."
He and Norman lunched together in an out-of-the
way restaurant. After a busy and a happy afternoon,
Norman returned early to the hotel. He had cashed
his check. He was in funds. He would give her
another and more thrilling taste of the joy that was to
be hers through him--and soon she would be giving
even as she got--for he would teach her not to fear
love, not to shrink from it, but to rejoice in it and to
let it permeate and complete all her charms.
He ascended to the apartment and knocked. There
was no answer. He searched in vain for a chambermaid
to let him in. He descended to the office. "Oh,
Mr. Norman," said one of the clerks. "Your wife left
this note for you."
Norman took it. "She went out?"
"About three o'clock--with a young gentleman
who called on her. They came back a while ago and
she left the note."
"Thank you," said Norman. He took his key,
went up to the apartment. Not until he had closed and
locked the door did he open the note. He read:
"Last night you broke your promise. So I am
going away. Don't look for me. It won't be any use.
When I decide what to do I'll send you word."
He was standing at the table. He tossed the note
on the marble, threw open the bedroom door. The
black chiffon dress, the big plumed hat, and all the
other articles they had bought were spread upon the
bed, arranged with the obvious intention that he should
see at a glance she had taken nothing away with her.
"Hell!" he said aloud. "Why didn't I let her go
yesterday morning?"
A FEW days later, Tetlow, having business with Norman,
tried to reach him by telephone. After several
failures he went to the hotel, and in the bar learned
enough to enable him to guess that Norman was of on
a mad carouse. He had no difficulty in finding the trail
or in following it; the difficulty lay in catching up, for
Norman was going fast. Not until late at night--that
is, early in the morning--of the sixth day from the
beginning of his search did he get his man.
He was prepared to find a wreck, haggard, wildly
nervous and disreputably disheveled; for, so far as he
could ascertain Norman had not been to bed, but had
gone on and on from one crowd of revelers to another,
in a city where it is easy to find companions in dissipation
at any hour of the twenty-four. Tetlow was even
calculating upon having to put off their business many
weeks while the crazy man was pulling through delirium
tremens or some other form of brain fever.
An astonishing sight met his eyes in the Third
Avenue oyster house before which the touring car Norman
had been using was drawn up. At a long table,
eating oysters as fast as the opener could work, sat
Norman and his friend Gaskill, a fellow member of the
Federal Club, and about a score of broken and battered
tramps. The supper or breakfast was going forward
in admirable order. Gaskill, whom Norman had
picked up a few hours before, showed signs of having
done some drinking. But not Norman. It is true his
clothing might have looked fresher; but hardly the
man himself.
"Just in time!" he cried out genially, at sight of
Tetlow. "Sit down with us. Waiter, a chair next to
mine. Gentlemen, Mr. Tetlow. Mr. Tetlow, gentlemen.
What'll you have, old man?"
Tetlow declined champagne, accepted half a dozen
of the huge oysters. "I've been after you for nearly
a week," said he to Norman.
"Pity you weren't WITH me," said Norman. "I've
been getting acquainted with large numbers of my fellow
"From the Bowery to Yonkers."
"Exactly. Don't fall asleep, Gaskill."
But Gaskill was snoring with his head on the back
of his chair and his throat presented as if for the as
of the executioner. "He's all in," said Tetlow.
"That's the way it goes," complained Norman.
"I can't find anyone to keep me company."
Tetlow laughed. "You look as if you had just
started out," said he. "Tell me--WHERE have you
"I haven't had time to sleep as yet."
"I dropped in to suggest that a little sleep wouldn't
do any harm."
"Not quite yet. Watch our friends eat. It gives
me an appetite. Waiter, another dozen all round--and
some more of this carbonated white wine you've labeled
As he called out this order, a grunt of satisfaction
ran round the row of human derelicts. Tetlow shuddered,
yet was moved and thrilled, too, as he glanced
from face to face--those hideous hairy countenances,
begrimed and beslimed, each countenance expressing
in its own repulsive way the one emotion of gratified
longing for food and drink. "Where did you get
'em?" inquired he.
"From the benches in Madison Square," replied
Norman. He laughed queerly. "Recognize yourself
in any of those mugs, Tetlow?" he asked.
Tetlow shivered. "I should say not!" he exclaimed.
Norman's eyes gleamed. "I see myself in all of
'em," said he.
"Poor wretches!" muttered Tetlow.
"Pity wasted," he rejoined. "You might feel
sorry for a man on the way to where they've got. But
once arrived--as well pity a dead man sleeping quietly
in his box with three feet of solid earth between him and
worries of every kind."
"Shake this crowd," said Tetlow impatiently. "I
want to talk with you."
"All right, if it bores you." He sent the waiter
out for enough lodging-house tickets to provide for all.
He distributed them himself, to make sure that the
proprietor of the restaurant did not attempt to graft.
Then he roused Gaskill and bundled him into the car
and sent it away to his address. The tramps
gathered round and gave Norman three cheers--they
pressed close while four of them tried to pick his and
Tetlow's pockets. Norman knocked them away goodnaturedly,
and he and Tetlow climbed into Tetlow's
"To my place," suggested Tetlow.
"No, to mine--the Knickerbocker," replied Norman.
"I'd rather you went to my place first," said
Tetlow uneasily.
"My wife isn't with me. She has left me," said
Norman calmly.
Tetlow hesitated, extremely nervous, finally
acquiesced. They drove a while in silence, then Norman
said, "What's the business?"
"Galloway wants to see you."
"Tell him to come to my office to-morrow--that
means to-day--at any time after eleven."
"But that gives you no chance to pull yourself
together," objected Tetlow.
Norman's face, seen in the light of the street lamp
they happened to be passing, showed ironic amusement.
"Never mind about me, Billy. Tell him to come."
Tetlow cleared his throat nervously. "Don't you
think, old man, that you'd better go to see him? I'll
arrange the appointment."
Norman said quietly: "Tetlow, I've dropped pretty
far. But not so far that I go to my clients. The rule
of calls is that the man seeking the favor goes to the
man who can grant it."
"But it isn't the custom nowadays for a lawyer to
deal that way with a man like Galloway."
"And neither is it the custom for anyone to have
any self-respect. Does Galloway need my brains more
than I need his money, or do I need his money more
than he needs my brains? You know what the answer
to that is, Billy. We are partners--you and I. I'm
training you for the position."
"Galloway won't come," said Tetlow curtly.
"So much the worse for him," retorted Norman
placidly. "No--I've not been drinking too much, old
man--as your worried--old-maid look suggests. Do a
little thinking. If Galloway doesn't get me, whom
will he get?"
"You know very well, Norman, there are scores of
lawyers, good ones, who'd crawl at his feet for his
business. Nowadays, most lawyers are always looking
round for a pair of rich man's boots to lick."
"But I am not `most lawyers,' " said Norman.
"Of course, if Galloway could make me come to him,
he'd be a fool to come to me. But when he finds I'm
not coming, why, he'll behave himself--if his business
is important enough for me to bother with."
"But if he doesn't come, Fred?"
"Then--my Universal Fuel scheme, or some other
equally good. But you will never see me limbering my
knees in the anteroom of a rich man, when he needs
me and I don't need him."
"Well, we'll see," said Tetlow, with the air of a
sober man patient with one who is not sober.
"By the way," continued Norman, "if Galloway
says he's too ill to come--or anything of that sort--
tell him I'd not care to undertake the affairs of a man
too old or too feeble to attend to business, as he might
die in the midst of it."
Tetlow's face was such a wondrous exhibit of
discomfiture that Norman laughed outright. Evidently
he had forestalled his fat friend in a scheme to get him
to Galloway in spite of himself. "All right--all right,"
said Tetlow fretfully. "We'll sleep on this. But I
don't see why you're so opposed to going to see the
man. It looks like snobbishness to me--false pride--
silly false pride."
"It IS snobbishness," said Norman. "But you
forget that snobbishness rules the world. The way to
rule fools is to make them respect you. And the way
to make them respect you is by showing them that
they are your inferiors. I want Galloway's respect
because I want his money. And I'll not get his money--
as much of it as belongs to me--except by showing
him my value. Not my value as a lawyer, for he
knows that already, but my value as a man. Do you
"No, I don't," snapped Tetlow.
"That's what it means to be Tetlow. Now, I do
see--and that's why I'm Norman."
Tetlow looked at him doubtfully, uncertain whether
he had been listening to wisdom put in a jocose form
of audacious egotism or to the effervescings of intoxication.
The hint of a smile lurking in the sobriety of
the powerful features of his extraordinary friend only
increased his doubt. Was Norman mocking him, and
himself as well? If so, was it the mockery of sober
sense or of drunkenness?
"You seem to be puzzled, Billy," said Norman, and
Tetlow wondered how he had seen. "Don't get your
brains in a stew trying to understand me. I'm acting
the way I've always acted--except in one matter. You
know that I know what I'm about?"
"I certainly do," replied his admirer.
"Then, let it go at that. If you could understand
me--the sort of man I am, the sort of thing I do--
you'd not need me, but would be the whole show yourself
--eh? That being true, don't show yourself a commonplace
nobody by deriding and denying what your
brain is unable to comprehend. Show yourself a
somebody by seeing the limitations of your ability. The
world is full of little people who criticise and judge and
laugh at and misunderstand the few real intelligences.
And very tedious interruptions of the scenery those little
people are. Don't be one of them. . . . Did you know
my wife's father?"
Tetlow startled. "No--that is, yes," he stammered.
"That is, I met him a few times."
"Often enough to find out that he was crazy?"
"Oh, yes. He explained some of his ideas to me.
Yes--he was quite mad, poor fellow."
Norman gave way to a fit of silent laughter. "I
can imagine," he presently said, "what you'd have
thought if Columbus or Alexander or Napoleon or
Stevenson or even the chaps who doped out the telephone
and the telegraph--if they had talked to you
before they arrived. Or even after they arrived, if they
had been explaining some still newer and bigger idea
not yet accomplished."
"You don't think Mr. Hallowell was mad?"
"He was mad, assuming that you are the standard
of sanity. Otherwise, he was a great man. There'll
be statues erected and pages of the book of fame devoted
to the men who carry out his ideas."
"His death was certainly a great loss to his daughter,"
said Tetlow in his heaviest, most bourgeois manner.
"I said he was a great man," observed Norman.
"I didn't say he was a great father. A great man is
never a great father. It takes a small man to be a
great father."
"At any rate, her having no parents or relatives
doesn't matter, now that she has you," said Tetlow, his
manner at once forced and constrained.
"Um," muttered Norman.
Said Tetlow: "Perhaps you misunderstood why I--
I acted as I did about her, toward the last."
"It was of no importance," said Norman brusquely.
"I wish to hear nothing about it."
"But I must explain, Fred. She piqued me by
showing so plainly that she despised me. I must admit
the truth, though I've got as much vanity as the next
man, and don't like to admit it. She despised me, and
it made me mad."
An expression of grim satire passed over Norman's
face. Said he: "She despised me, too."
"Yes, she did," said Tetlow. "And both of us
were certainly greatly her superiors--in every
substantial way. It seemed to me most--most----"
"Most impertinent of her?" suggested Norman.
"Precisely. MOST impertinent."
"Rather say, ignorant and small. My dear Tetlow,
let me tell you something. Anybody, however
insignificant, can be loved. To be loved means nothing,
except possibly a hallucination in the brain of the lover.
But to LOVE--that's another matter. Only a great soul
is capable of a great love."
"That is true," murmured Tetlow sentimentally,
preening in a quiet, gentle way.
Said Norman sententiously: "YOU stopped loving.
It was _I_ that kept on."
Tetlow looked uncomfortable. "Yes--yes," he said.
"But we were talking of her--of her not appreciating
the love she got. And I was about to say--"
Earnestly-- "Fred, she's not to be blamed for her folly!
She's very, very young--and has all the weaknesses and
vanities of youth----"
"Here we are," interrupted Norman.
The hansom had stopped in Forty-second Street
before the deserted but still brilliantly lighted entrances
to the great hotel. Norman sprang out so lightly and
surely that Tetlow wondered how it was possible for
this to be the man who had been racketing and roistering
day after day, night after night for nearly a week.
He helped the heavy and awkward Tetlow to descend,
"You'll have to pay, Bill. I've got less than a
dollar left. And I touched Gaskill for a hundred and
fifty to-night. You can imagine how drunk he was, to
let me have it. How they've been shying off from
ME these last few months!"
"And you want GALLOWAY to come to YOU," thrust
Tetlow, as he counted out the money.
"Don't go back and chew on that," laughed
Norman. "It's settled." He took the money, gave it to
the driver. "Thanks," he said to Tetlow. "I'll pay
you to-morrow--that is, later to-day--when you send
me another check."
"Why should you pay for my cab?" rejoined
"Because it's easier for me to make money than it
is for you," replied Norman. "If you were in my
position--the position I've been in for months--would
anybody on earth give you three thousand dollars a
Tetlow looked sour. His good nature was rubbing
thin in spots.
"Don't lose your temper," laughed Norman.
"I'm pounding away at you about my superiority,
partly because I've been drinking, but chiefly for your
own good--so that you'll realize I'm right and not mess
things with Galloway."
They went up to Norman's suite. Norman tried to
unlock the door, found it already unlocked. He turned
the knob, threw the door wide for Tetlow to enter first.
Then, over Tetlow's shoulder he saw on the marbletopped
center table Dorothy's hat and jacket, the one
she had worn away, the only one she had. He stared
at them, then at Tetlow. A confused look in the fat,
slow face made him say sharply:
"What does this mean, Tetlow?"
"Not so loud, Fred," said Tetlow, closing the door
into the public hall. "She's in the bedroom--probably
asleep. She's been here since yesterday."
"You brought her back?" demanded Norman.
"She wanted to come. I simply----"
Norman made a silencing gesture. Tetlow's faltering
voice stopped short. Norman stood near the table,
his hands deep in his trousers' pockets, his gaze fixed
upon the hat and jacket. When Tetlow's agitation
could bear the uncertainties of that silence no longer,
he went on:
"Fred, you mustn't forget how young and inexperienced
she is. She's been foolish, but nothing more.
She's as pure as when she came into the world. And
it's the truth that she wanted to come back. I saw it
as soon as I began to talk with her."
"What are you chattering about?" said Norman
fiercely. "Why did you meddle in my affairs? Why
did you bring her back?"
"I knew she needed you," pleaded Tetlow. "Then,
too--I was afraid-- I knew how you acted before,
and I thought you'd not get your gait again until you
had her."
Norman gave a short sardonic laugh. "If you'd
only stop trying to understand me!" he said.
Tetlow was utterly confused. "But, Fred, you
don't realize--not all," he cried imploringly. "She
discovered--she thinks, I believe--that is--she--she
--that probably--that in a few months you'll be
something more than a husband--and she something more
than a wife--that you--that--you and she will be a
father and a mother."
Tetlow's meaning slowly dawned on Norman. He
seated himself in his favorite attitude, legs sprawled,
fingers interlaced behind his head.
"Wasn't I right to bring her back--to tell her she
needn't fear to come?" pleaded Tetlow.
Norman made no reply. After a brief silence he
said: "Well, good night, old man. Come round to
my office any time after ten." He rose and gave
Tetlow his hand. "And arrange for Galloway whenever
you like. Good night."
Tetlow hesitated. "Fred--you'll not be harsh to
her?" he said.
Norman smiled--a satirical smile, yet exquisitely
gentle. "If you ONLY wouldn't try to understand me,
Bill," he said.
When he was alone he sat lost in thought. At last
he rang for a bell boy. And when the boy came, he
said: "That door there"--indicating one in the opposite
wall of the sitting room--"what does it lead
"Another bedroom, sir."
"Unlock it, and tell them at the office I wish that
room added to my suite."
As soon as the additional bedroom was at his disposal,
he went in and began to undress. When he had
taken off coat and waistcoat he paused to telephone
to the office a call for eight o'clock. As he finished and
hung up the receiver, a sound from the direction of the
sitting room made him glance in there. On the threshold
of the other bedroom stood his wife. She was in
her nightgown; her hair, done in a single thick braid,
hung down across her bosom. There was in the room
and upon her childish loveliness the strange commingling
of lights and shadows that falls when the electricity
is still on and the early morning light is pushing
in at the windows. They looked at each other in
silence for some time. If she was frightened or in the
least embarrassed she did not show it. She simply
looked at him, while ever so slowly a smile dawned--
a gleam in the eyes, a flutter round the lips, growing
merrier and merrier. He did not smile. He continued
to regard her gravely.
"I heard you and Mr. Tetlow come in," she said.
"Then--you talked so long--I fell asleep again. I
only this minute awakened."
"Well, now you can go to sleep again," said he.
"But I'm not a bit sleepy. What are you doing in
that room ?"
She advanced toward his door. He stood aside.
She peeped in. She was so close to him that her nightgown
brushed the bosom of his shirt. "Another
bedroom!" she exclaimed. "Just like ours."
"I didn't wish to disturb you," said he, calm and
"But you wouldn't have been disturbing me,"
protested she, leaning against the door frame, less than
two feet away and directly facing him.
"I'll stay on here," said he.
She gazed at him with great puzzled eyes. "Aren't
you glad I'm back?" she asked.
"Certainly," said he with a polite smile. "But I
must get some sleep." And he moved away.
"You must let me tell you how I happened to go
and why I came----"
"Please," he interrupted, looking at her with a
piercing though not in the least unfriendly expression
that made her grow suddenly pale and thoughtful. "I
do not wish to hear about it--not now--not ever. Tetlow
told me all that it's necessary for me to know.
You have come to stay, I assume?"
"Yes--if"--her lip quivered--"if you'll let me."
"There can be no question of that," said he with
the same polite gravity he had maintained throughout.
"You want me to leave you alone?"
"Please. I need sleep badly--and I've only three
"You are--angry with me?"
He looked placidly into her lovely, swimming eyes.
"Not in the least."
"But how can you help being? I acted dreadfully."
He smiled gently. "But you are back--and the
incident is closed."
She looked down at the carpet, her fingers playing
with her braid, twisting and untwisting its strands. He
stood waiting to close the door. She said, without
lifting her eyes--said in a quiet, expressionless way, "I
have killed your love?"
"I'll not trouble you any more," evaded he. And
he laid his hand significantly upon the knob.
"I don't understand," she murmured. Then, with
a quick apologetic glance at him, "But I'm very
inconsiderate. You want to sleep. Good night."
"Good night," said he, beginning to close the door.
She impulsively stood close before him, lifted her
small white face, as if for a kiss. "Do you forgive
me?" she asked. "I was foolish. I didn't understand
--till I went back. Then--nothing was the same. And
I knew I wasn't fitted for that life--and didn't really
care for him--and----"
He kissed her on the brow. "Don't agitate yourself,"
said he. "And we will never speak of this again."
She shrank as if he had struck her. Her head
drooped, and her shoulders. When she was clear of
the door, he quietly closed it.
IT was not many minutes after ten when Tetlow
hurried into Norman's office. "Galloway's coming at
eleven!" said he, with an air of triumph.
"So you mulled over what I said and decided that
I was not altogether drunk?"
"I wasn't sure of that," replied Tetlow. "But I
was afraid you'd be offended if I didn't try to get him.
He gave me no trouble at all. As soon as I told him
you'd be glad to see him at your office, he astounded me
by saying he'd come."
"He and I have had dealings," said Norman.
"He understood at once. I always know my way when
I'm dealing with a big man. It's only the little people
that are muddled and complex. I hope you'll not forget
this lesson, Billy."
"I shan't," promised Tetlow.
"We are to be partners," pursued Norman. "We
shall be intimately associated for years. You'll save
me a vast amount of time and energy and yourself a
vast amount of fuming and fretting, if you'll simply
accept what I say, without discussion. When I want
discussion I'll ask your advice."
"I'm afraid you don't think it's worth much," said
Tetlow humbly, "and I guess it isn't."
"On the contrary, invaluable," declared Norman
with flattering emphasis. "Where you lack and I excel
is in decision and action. I'll often get you to tell me
what ought to be done, and then I'll make you do it--
which you'd never dare, by yourself."
At eleven sharp Galloway came, looking as nearly
like a dangerous old eagle as a human being well could.
Rapacious, merciless, tyrannical; a famous philanthropist.
Stingy to pettiness; a giver away of millions.
Rigidly honest, yet absolutely unscrupulous; faithful to
the last letter of his given word, yet so treacherous where
his sly mind could nose out a way to evade the spirit of
his agreements that his name was a synonym for unfaithfulness.
An assiduous and groveling snob, yet so militantly
democratic that, unless his interest compelled,
he would not employ any member of the "best families"
in any important capacity. He seemed a bundle of
contradictions. In fact he was profoundly consistent.
That is to say, he steadily pursued in every thought
and act the gratification of his two passions--wealth
and power. He lost no seen opportunity, however
shameful, to add to his fortune or to amuse himself
with the human race, which he regarded with the
unpitying contempt characteristic of every cold nature
born or risen to success.
His theory of life--and it is the theory that explains
most great financial successes, however they may pretend
or believe--his theory of life was that he did not
need friends because the friends of a strong man weaken
and rob him, but that he did need enemies because he
could grow rich and powerful destroying and despoiling
them. To him friends suggested the birds living in a
tree. They might make the tree more romantic to the
unthinking observer; but they in fact ate its budding
leaves and its fruit and rotted its bough joints with
their filthy nests.
We Americans are probably nearest to children of
any race in civilization. The peculiar conditions of
life--their almost Arcadian simplicity--up to a generation
or so ago, gave us a false training in the study of
human nature. We believe what the good preacher, the
novelist and the poet, all as ignorant of life as nursery
books, tell us about the human heart. We fancy that
in a social system modeled upon the cruel and immoral
system of Nature, success is to the good and kind. Life
is like the pious story in the Sunday-school library;
evil is the exception and to practice the simple virtues
is to tread with sure step the highway to riches and
fame. This sort of ignorance is taught, is proclaimed,
is apparently accepted throughout the world. Literature
and the drama, representing life as it is dreamed
by humanity, life as it perhaps may be some day, create
an impression which defies the plain daily and hourly
mockings of experience. Because weak and petty offenders
are often punished, the universe is pictured as
sternly enforcing the criminal codes enacted by priests
or lawyers. But, while all the world half inclines to this
agreeable mendacity about life, only in America of all
civilization is the mendacity accepted as gospel, and
suspicion about it frowned upon as the heresy of
cynicism. So the Galloways prosper and are in high moral
repute. Some day we shall learn that a social system
which is merely a slavish copy of Nature's barbarous
and wasteful sway of the survival of the toughest could
be and ought to be improved upon by the intelligence
of the human race. Some day we shall put Nature in
its proper place as kindergarten teacher, and drop it
from godship and erect enlightened human understanding
instead. But that is a long way off. Meanwhile the
Galloways will reign, and will assure us that they won
their success by the Decalogue and the Golden Rule--
and will be believed by all who seek to assure for
themselves in advance almost certain failure at material
success in the arena of action.
But they will not be believed by men of ambition,
pushing resolutely for power and wealth. So Frederick
Norman knew precisely what he was facing when Galloway's
tall gaunt figure and face of the bird of prey
appeared before him. Galloway had triumphed and was
triumphing not through obedience to the Sunday sermons
and the silly novels, poems, plays, and the nonsense
chattered by the obscure multitudes whom the
mighty few exploit, but through obedience to the
conditions imposed by our social system. If he raised
wages a little, it was in order that he might have
excuse for raising prices a great deal. If he gave away
millions, it was for his fame, and usually to quiet the
scandal over some particularly wicked wholesale robbery.
No, Galloway was not a witness to the might of altruistic
virtue as a means to triumph. Charity and all the
other forms of chicanery by which the many are
defrauded and fooled by the few--those "virtues" he
understood and practiced. But justice--humanity's
ages-long dream that at last seems to glitter as a hope
in the horizon of the future--justice--not legal justice,
nor moral justice, but human justice--that idea would
have seemed to him ridiculous, Utopian, something for
the women and the children and the socialists.
Norman understood Galloway, and Galloway understood
Norman. Galloway, with an old man's garrulity
and a confirmed moral poseur's eagerness about appearances,
began to unfold his virtuous reasons for the
impending break with Burroughs--the industrial and
financial war out of which he expected to come doubly
rich and all but supreme. Midway he stopped.
"You are not listening," said he sharply to the
young man.
Their eyes met. Norman's eyes were twinkling.
"No," said he, "I am waiting."
There was the suggestion of an answering gleam of
sardonic humor in Galloway's cold gray eyes. "Waiting
for what?"
"For you to finish with me as father confessor, to
begin with me as lawyer. Pray don't hurry. My time
is yours." This with a fine air of utmost suavity and
In fact, while Galloway was doddering on and on with
his fake moralities, Norman was thinking of his own
affairs, was wondering at his indifference about Dorothy.
The night before--the few hours before--when he had
dealt with her so calmly, he, even as he talked and
listened and acted, had assumed that the enormous amount
of liquor he had been consuming was in some way
responsible. He had said to himself, "When I am over
this, when I have had sleep and return to the normal, I
shall again be the foolish slave of all these months."
But here he was, sober, having taken only enough
whisky to prevent an abrupt let-down--here he was
viewing her in the same tranquil light. No longer all
his life; no longer even dominant; only a part of life--
and he was by no means certain that she was an important part.
How explain the mystery of the change? Because
she had voluntarily come back, did he feel that she was
no longer baffling but was definitely his? Or had passion
running madly on and on dropped--perhaps not
dead, but almost dead--from sheer exhaustion?--was
it weary of racing and content to saunter and to stroll?
. . . He could not account for the change. He only
knew that he who had been quite mad was now quite
sane. . . . Would he like to be rid of her? Did he
regret that they were tied together? No, curiously
enough. It was high time he got married; she would
do as well as another. She had beauty, youth,
amiability, physical charm for him. There was advantage
in the fact that her inferiority to him, her dependence
on him, would enable him to take as much or as little of
her as he might feel disposed, to treat her as the warrior
must ever treat his entire domestic establishment
from wife down to pet dog or cat or baby. . . . No,
he did not regret Josephine. He could see now disadvantages
greater than her advantages. All of value she
would have brought him he could get for himself, and
she would have been troublesome--exacting, disputing
his sway, demanding full value or more in return for
the love she was giving with such exalted notions of its
"You are married?" Galloway suddenly said,
interrupting his own speech and Norman's thought.
"Yes," said Norman.
"Just married, I believe?"
Young and old, high and low, successful and failed,
we are a race of advice-givers. As for Galloway, he
was not one to neglect that showy form of inexpensive
benevolence. "Have plenty of children," said he.
"And keep your family in the country till they grow
up. Town's no place for women. They go crazy.
Women--and most men--have no initiative. They
think only about whatever's thrust at them. In the
country it'll be their children and domestic things. In
town it'll be getting and spending money."
Norman was struck by this. "I think I'll take your
advice," said he.
"A man's home ought to be a retreat, not an inn.
We are humoring the women too much. They are
forgetting who earns what they spend in exhibiting
themselves. If a woman wants that sort of thing, let her
get out and earn it. Why should she expect it from the
man who has undertaken her support because he wanted
a wife to take care of his house and a mother for his
children? If a woman doesn't like the job, all right.
But if she takes it and accepts its pay, why, she should
do its work."
"Flawless logic," said Norman.
"When I hire a man to work, he doesn't expect to
idle about showing other people how handsome he is in
the clothes my money pays for. Not that marriage is
altogether a business--not at all. But, my dear sir--"
And Galloway brought his cane down with the emphasis
of one speaking from a heart full of bitter experience--
"unless it is a business at bottom, organized and
conducted on sound business principles, there's no
sentiment either. We are human beings--and that means
we are first of all BUSINESS beings, engaged in getting
food, clothing, shelter. No sentiment--NO sentiment,
sir, is worth while that isn't firmly grounded. It's a
house without a foundation. It's a steeple without a
church under it."
Norman looked at the old man with calm penetrating
eyes. "I shall conduct my married life on a sound,
business basis, or not at all," said he.
"We'll see," said Galloway. "That's what I said
forty years ago-- No, I didn't. I had no sense about
such matters then. In my youth the men knew nothing
about the woman question." He smiled grimly. "I
see signs that they are learning."
Then as abruptly as he had left the affairs he was
there to discuss he returned to them. His mind seemed
to have freed itself of all irrelevancy and superfluity, as
a stream often runs from a faucet with much spluttering
and rather muddy at first, then steadies and clears.
Norman gave him the attention one can get only from
a good mind that is interested in the subject and
understands it thoroughly. Such attention not merely
receives the words and ideas as they fall from the mouth
of him who utters them, but also seems to draw them
by a sort of suction faster and in greater abundance.
It was this peculiar ability of giving attention, as much
as any other one quality, that gave Norman's clients
their confidence in him. Galloway, than whom no man
was shrewder judge of men, showed in his gratified eyes
and voice, long before he had finished, how strongly his
conviction of Norman's high ability was confirmed.
When Galloway ended, Norman rapidly and in clear
and simple sentences summarized what Galloway had
said. "That is right?" he asked.
"Precisely," said Galloway admiringly. "What a
gift of clear statement you have, young man!"
"It has won me my place," said Norman. "As to
your campaign, I can tell you now that the legal part of
it can be arranged. That is what the law is for--to
enable a man to do whatever he wants. The penalties
are for those who have the stupidity to try to do things
in an unlawful way."
Galloway laughed. "I had heard that they were
for doing unlawful things."
"Nothing is unlawful," said Norman, "except in
"That's an interesting view of courts of justice."
"But we have no courts of justice. We have only
courts of law."
Galloway threw back his head and laughed till the
tears rolled down his cheeks. "What a gift for clear
statement!" he cried.
Norman beamed appreciation of a compliment so
flattering. But he went back to business. "As I was
saying, you can do what you want to do. You wish
me to show you how. In our modern way of doing
things, the relation of lawyer and client has somewhat
changed. To illustrate by this case, you are the bear
with the taste for honey and the strength to rob the
bees. I am the honey bird--that is, the modern lawyer
--who can show you the way to the hive. Most of the
honey birds--as yet--are content with a very small
share of the honey--whatever the bear happens to be
unable to find room for. But I--" Norman's eyes
danced and his strong mouth curved in a charming smile
--"I am a honey bird with a bear appetite."
Galloway was sitting up stiffly. "I don't quite
follow you, sir," he said.
"Yet I am plain enough. My ability at clear
statement has not deserted me. If I show you the way
through the tangled forest of the law to this hive you
scent--I must be a partner in the honey."
Galloway rose. "Your conceptions of your profession--
and of me, I may say--are not attractive. I
have always been, and am willing and anxious to pay
liberally--more liberally than anyone else--for legal
advice. But my business, sir, is my own."
Norman rose, his expression one of apology and
polite disappointment. "I see I misunderstood your
purpose in coming to me," said he. "Let us take no
more of each other's time."
"And what did you think my object was in coming?"
demanded Galloway.
"To get from me what you realized you could get
nowhere else--which meant, as an old experienced trader
like you must have known, that you were ready to pay
my price. Of course, if you can get elsewhere the
assistance you need, why, you would be most unwise to
come to me."
Galloway moved toward the door. "And you
might have charged practically any fee you wished,"
said he, laughing satirically. "Young man, you are
making the mistake that is ruining this generation.
You wish to get rich all at once. You are not willing to
be patient and to work and to build your fortune solidly
and slowly."
Norman smiled as at a good joke. "What an asset
to you strong men has been the vague hope in the minds
of the masses that each poor devil of them will have his
turn to loot and grow rich. I used to think ignorance
kept the present system going. But I have discovered
that it is that sly, silly, corrupt hope. But, sir, it does
not catch me. I shall not work for you and the other
strong men, and patiently wait my turn that would
never come. My time is NOW."
"You threaten me!" cried Galloway furiously.
"Threaten you?" exclaimed Norman, amazed.
"You think, because I have given you, my lawyer,
my secrets, that you can compel me----"
With an imperious gesture Norman stopped him.
"Good day, sir," he said haughtily. "Your secrets are
safe with me. I am a lawyer, not a financier."
Galloway was disconcerted. "I beg your pardon,
Mr. Norman," he said. "I misunderstood you. I
thought I heard you say in effect that you purposed to
be rich, and that you purposed to compel me to make
you so."
"So I did," replied Norman. "But not by the
methods you financiers are so adept at using. Not by
high-class blackmail and blackjacking. I meant that
my abilities were such that you and your fellow masters
of modern society would be compelled to employ me on
my own terms. A few moments ago you outlined to me
a plan. It may be you can find other lawyers competent
to steer it through the channel of the law. I doubt it.
I may exaggerate my value. But--" He smiled
pleasantly--"I don't think so."
In this modern world of ours there is no more delicate
or more important branch of the art of material success
than learning to play one's own tune on the trumpets of
fame. To those who watch careers intelligently and
critically, and not merely with mouth agape and ears
awag for whatever sounds the winds of credulity bear,
there is keen interest in noting how differently this high
art is practiced by the fame-seekers--how well some
modest heroes disguise themselves before essaying the
trumpet, how timidly some play, how brazenly others.
It is an art of infinite variety. How many there are
who can echo Shakespeare's sad lament, through Hamlet's
lips--"I lack advancement!" Those are they
who have wholly neglected, as did Shakespeare, this
essential part of the art of advancement--Shakespeare,
who lived almost obscure and was all but forgotten for
two centuries after his death.
Norman, frankly seeking mere material success, and
with the colossal egotism that disdains egotism and
shrugs at the danger of being accused of it--Norman
did not hesitate to proclaim his own merits. He
reasoned that he had the wares, that crying them would
attract attention to them, that he whose attention was
attracted, if he were a judge of wares and a seeker of
the best, would see that the Norman wares were indeed
as Norman cried them. At first blush Galloway was
amused by Norman's candid self-esteem. But he had
often heard of Norman's conceit--and in a long and
busy life he had not seen an able man who was unaware
of his ability; any more than he had seen a pretty
woman unaware of her prettiness. So, at second blush,
Galloway was tempted by Norman's calm strong blast
upon his own trumpet to look again at the wares.
"I always have had a high opinion of you, young
man," said he, with laughing eyes. "Almost as high an
opinion as you have of yourself. Think over the legal
side of my plan. When you get your thoughts in order,
let me know--and make me a proposition as to your own
share. Does that satisfy you?"
"It's all I ask," said Norman.
And they parted on the friendliest terms--and
Norman knew that his fortune was assured, if Galloway
lived another nine months. When he was alone, the
sweat burst out upon him and, trembling from head to
foot, he locked his door and flung himself at full length
upon the rug. It was half an hour before the fit of
silent hysterical reaction passed sufficiently to let him
gather strength to rise. He tottered to his desk chair,
and sat with his head buried in his arms upon the desk.
After a while the telephone at his side rang insistently.
He took the receiver in a hand he could not steady.
"Yes?" he called.
"It's Tetlow. How'd you come out?"
"Oh--" He paused to stiffen his throat to attack
the words naturally--"all right. We go ahead."
"With G.?"
"Certainly. But keep quiet. Don't let him know
you've heard, if you see him or he sends for you.
Remember, it's in my hands entirely."
"Trust me." Tetlow's voice, suppressed and jubilant,
suggested a fat, hoarse rooster trying to finish a
crow before a coming stone from a farm boy reaches
him. "It seems natural and easy to you, old man.
But I'm about crazy with joy. I'll come right over."
"No. I'm going home."
"Can't I see you there?"
"No. I've other matters to attend to. Come
about lunch time to-morrow--to the office, here."
"All right," said Tetlow disappointedly, and Norman
rang off.
IN the faces of men who have dominion of whatever
kind over their fellow men--be it the brutal rule of the
prize fighter over his gang or the apparently gentle
sway of the apparently meek bishop over his loving
flock--in the faces of all men of power there is a
dangerous look. They may never lose their tempers.
They may never lift their voices. They may be ever
suave and civil. The dangerous look is there--and the
danger behind it. And the sense of that look and of
its cause has a certain restraining effect upon all but
the hopelessly impudent or solidly dense. Norman was
one of the men without fits of temper. In his moments
of irritation, no one ever felt that a storm of violent
language might be impending. But the danger signal
flaunted from his face. Danger of what? No one could
have said. Most people would have laughed at the idea
that so even tempered a man, pleased with himself and
with the world, could ever be dangerous. Yet everyone
had instinctively respected that danger flag--until
Perhaps it had struck for her--had really not been
there when she looked at him. Perhaps she had been
too inexperienced, perhaps too self-centered, to see it.
Perhaps she had never before seen his face in an hour
of weariness and relaxation--when the true character,
the dominating and essential trait or traits, shows
nakedly upon the surface, making the weak man or woman
look pitiful, the strong man or woman formidable.
However that may be, when he walked into the sitting
room, greeted her placidly and kissed her on the
brow, she, glancing uncertainly up at him, saw that
danger signal for the first time. She studied his face,
her own face wearing her expression of the puzzled
child. No, not quite that expression as it always had
been theretofore, but a modified form of it. To any
self-centered, self-absorbed woman--there comes in her
married life, unless she be married to a booby, a time,
an hour, a moment even--for it can be narrowed down
to a point--when she takes her first SEEING look at the
man upon whom she is dependent for protection, whether
spiritual or material, or both. In her egotism and
vanity she has been regarding him as her property.
Suddenly, and usually disagreeably, it has been revealed
to her that she is his property. That hour had come
for Dorothy Norman. And she was looking at her husband,
was wondering who and what he was.
"You've had your lunch?" he said.
"No," replied she.
"You have been out for the air?"
"Why not?"
"You didn't tell me what to do."
He smiled good humoredly. "Oh, you had no
"Yes--a little. But I--" She halted.
"You hadn't told me what to do," she repeated, as
if on mature thought that sentence expressed the whole
He felt in his pockets, found a small roll of bills.
He laid twenty-five dollars on the table. "I'll keep
thirty," he said, "as I shan't have any more till I see
Tetlow to-morrow. Now, fly out and amuse yourself.
I'm going to sleep. Don't wake me till you're ready
for dinner."
And he went into his bedroom and closed the door.
When he awoke, he saw that it was dark outside, and
some note in the din of street noises from far below
made him feel that it was late. He wrapped a bathrobe
round him, opened the door into the sitting room.
It was dark.
"Dorothy!" he called.
"Yes," promptly responded the small quiet voice,
so near that he started back.
"Oh!" he exclaimed, and switched on the light.
"There you are--by the window. What were you doing,
in the dark?"
She was dressed precisely as when he had last seen
her. She was sitting with her hands listless in her lap
and her face a moving and beautiful expression of
melancholy dreams. On the table were the bills--where
he had laid them. "You've been out?" he said.
"No," she replied.
"Why not?"
"I've been--waiting."
"For what?" laughed he.
"For--I don't know," she replied. "Just waiting."
"But there's nothing to wait for."
She looked at him interrogatively. "No--I suppose
not," she said.
He went back into his room and glanced at his watch.
"Eleven o'clock!" he cried. "Why didn't you wake
me? You must be nearly starved."
"Yes, I am hungry," said she.
Her patient, passive resignation irritated him. "I'm
ravenous," he said. "I'll dress--and you dress, too.
We'll go downstairs to supper."
When he reappeared in the sitting room, in a dinner
jacket, she was again seated near the window, hands
listless in her lap and eyes gazing dreamily into vacancy.
But she was now dressed in the black chiffon and the
big black hat. He laughed. "You are prompt and
obedient," said he. "Nothing like hunger to subdue."
A faint flush tinged her lovely skin; the look of the
child that has been struck appeared in her eyes.
He cast about in his mind for the explanation. Did
she think he meant it was need that had brought her
meekly back to him? That was true enough, but he
had not intended to hint it. In high good humor
because he was so delightfully hungry and was about
to get food, he cried: "Do cheer up! There's nothing
to be sad about--nothing."
She lifted her large eyes and gazed at him timidly.
"What are you going to do with me?"
"Take you downstairs and feed you."
"But I mean--afterward?"
"Bring--or send--you up here to go to bed."
"Are you going away?"
"Away from me."
He looked at her with amused eyes. She was
exquisitely lovely; never had he seen her lovelier. It
delighted him to note her charms--the charms that had
enslaved him--not a single charm missing--and to feel
that he was no longer their slave, was his own master
A strange look swept across her uncannily mobile
face--a look of wonder, of awe, of fear, of dread.
"You don't even like me any more," she said in her
colorless way.
"What have I done to make you think I dislike
you?" said he pleasantly.
She gazed down in silence.
"You need have no fear," said he. "You are my
wife. You will be well taken care of, and you will not
be annoyed. What more can I say?"
"Thank you," she murmured.
He winced. She had made him feel like an unpleasant
cross between an alms-giver and a bully. "Now,"
said he, with forced but resolute cheerfulness, "we will
eat, drink and be merry."
On the way down in the elevator he watched her
out of the corner of his eye. When they reached the
hall leading to the supper room he touched her arm
and halted her. "My dear," said he in the pleasant
voice which yet somehow never failed to secure attention
and obedience, "there will be some of my acquaintances
in there at supper. I don't want them to see you
with that whipped dog look. There's no occasion for it."
Her lip trembled. "I'll do my best," said she.
"Let's see you smile," laughed he. "You have
often shown me that you know the woman's trick of
wearing what feelings you choose on the outside. So
don't pretend that you've got to look as if you were
about to be hung for a crime you didn't commit.
There!--that's better."
And indeed to a casual glance she looked the happy
bride trying--not very successfully--to seem used to
her husband and her new status.
"Hold it!" he urged gayly. "I've no fancy for
leading round a lovely martyr in chains. Especially as
you're about as healthy and well placed a person as I
know. And you'll feel as well as you look when you've
had something to eat."
Whether it was obedience or the result of a decision
to drop an unprofitable pose he could not tell, but as
soon as they were seated and she had a bill of fare before
her and was reading it, her expression of happiness lost
its last suggestion of being forced. "Crab meat!" she
said. "I love it!"
"Two portions of crab meat," he said to the waiter
with pad and pencil at attention.
"Oh, I don't want that much," she protested.
"You forget that I am hungry," rejoined he.
"And when I am hungry, the price of food begins to
go up." He addressed himself to the waiter: "After
that a broiled grouse--with plenty of hominy--and
grilled sweet potatoes--and a salad of endive and hothouse
tomatoes--and I know the difference between hothouse
tomatoes and the other kinds. Next--some
cheese--Coullomieres--yes, you have it--I got the
steward to get it--and toasted crackers--the round
kind, not the square--and not the hard ones that
unsettle the teeth--and--what kind of ice, my dear?--or
would you prefer a fresh peach flambee?"
"Yes--I think so," said Dorothy.
"You hear, waiter?--and a bottle of--there's the
head waiter--ask him--he knows the champagne I
As Norman had talked, in the pleasant, insistent
voice, the waiter had roused from the air of mindless,
mechanical sloth characteristic of the New York
waiter--unless and until a fee below his high expectation
is offered. When he said the final "very good,
sir," it was with the accent of real intelligence.
Dorothy was smiling, with the amusement of youth
and inexperience. "What a lot of trouble you took
about it," said she.
He shrugged his shoulders. "Anything worth doing
at all is worth taking trouble about. You will see.
We shall get results. The supper will be the best this
house can put together."
"You can have anything you want in this world,
if you only can pay for it," said she.
"That's what most people think," replied he.
"But the truth is, the paying is only a small part of
the art of getting what one wants."
She glanced nervously at him. "I'm beginning to
realize that I'm dreadfully inexperienced," said she.
"There's nothing discouraging in that," said he.
"Lack of experience can be remedied. But not lack
of judgment. It takes the great gift of judgment to
enable one to profit by mistakes, to decide what is the
real lesson of an experience."
"I'm afraid I haven't any judgment, either,"
confessed she.
"That remains to be seen."
She hesitated--ventured: "What do you think is
my worst fault?"
He shook his head laughingly. "We are going to
have a happy supper."
"Do you think I am very vain?" persisted she.
"Who's been telling you so?"
"Mr. Tetlow. He gave me an awful talking to,
just before I--" She paused at the edge of the
forbidden ground. "He didn't spare me," she went on.
"He said I was a vain, self-centered little fool."
"And what did you say?"
"I was very angry. I told him he had no right
to accuse me of that. I reminded him that he had never
heard me say a word about myself."
"And did he say that the vainest people were just
that way--never speaking of themselves, never thinking
of anything else?"
"Oh, he told you what he said," cried she.
"No," laughed he.
She reddened. "YOU think I'm vain?"
He made a good-humoredly satirical little bow. "I
think you are charming," said he. "It would be a
waste of time to look at or to think of anyone else when
oneself is the most charming and interesting person in
the world. Still--" He put into his face and voice a
suggestion of gravity that caught her utmost attention--
"if one is to get anywhere, is to win consideration
from others--and happiness for oneself--one simply
must do a little thinking about others--occasionally."
Her eyes lowered. A faint color tinged her cheeks.
"The reason most of us are so uncomfortable--
downright unhappy most of the time--is that we never
really take our thoughts off our precious fascinating
selves. The result is that some day we find that the
liking--and friendship--and love--of those around us
has limits--and we are left severely alone. Of course,
if one has a great deal of money, one can buy excellent
imitations of liking and friendship and even love--I
ought to say, especially love----"
The color flamed in her face.
"But," he went on, "if one is in modest circumstances
or poor, one has to take care."
"Or dependent," she said, with one of those unexpected
flashes of subtle intelligence that so complicated
the study of her character. He had been talking to
amuse himself rather than with any idea of her
understanding. Her sudden bright color and her two
words--"or dependent"--roused him to see that she
thought he was deliberately giving her a savage
lecture from the cover of general remarks. "With the
vanity of the typical woman," he said to himself, "she
always imagines SHE is the subject of everyone's thought
and talk."
"Or dependent," said he to her, easily. "I wasn't
thinking of you, but yours IS a case in point. Come,
now--nothing to look blue about! Here's something
to eat. No, it's for the next table."
"You won't let me explain," she protested, between
the prudence of reproach and the candor of anger.
"There's nothing to explain," replied he. "Don't
bother about the mistakes of yesterday. Remember
them--yes. If one has a good memory, to forget is
impossible--not to say unwise. But there ought to
be no more heat or sting in the memory of past mistakes
than in the memory of last year's mosquito bites."
The first course of the supper arrived. Her
nervousness vanished, and he got far away from the
neighborhood of the subjects that, even in remotest hint,
could not but agitate her. And as the food and the
wine asserted their pacific and beatific sway, she and
he steadily moved into better and better humor with
each other. Her beauty grew until it had him thinking
that never, not in the most spiritual feminine conceptions
of the classic painters, had he seen a loveliness
more ethereal. Her skin was so exquisite, the coloring
of her hair and eyes and of her lips was so delicately
fine that it gave her the fragility of things bordering
upon the supernal--of rare exotics, of sunset and
moonbeam effects. No, he had been under no spell of
illusion as to her beauty. It was a reality--the more
fascinating because it waxed and waned not with
regularity of period but capriciously.
He began to look round furtively, to see what effect
this wife of his was producing on others. These last
few months, through prudence as much as through
pride, he had been cultivating the habit of ignoring his
surroundings; he would not invite cold salutations or
obvious avoidance of speaking. He now discovered
many of his former associates--and his vanity dilated
as he noted how intensely they were interested in his
Some men of ability have that purest form of egotism
which makes one profoundly content with himself,
genuinely indifferent to the approval or the disapproval
of others. Norman's vanity had a certain amount
of alloy. He genuinely disdained his fellow-men--their
timidity, their hypocrisy, their servility, their limited
range of ideas. He was indifferent to the verge of
insensibility as to their adverse criticism. But at the
same time it was necessary to his happiness that he get
from them evidences of their admiration and envy.
With that amusing hypocrisy which tinges all human
nature, he concealed from himself the satisfaction, the
joy even, he got out of the showy side of his position.
And no feature of his infatuation for Dorothy
surprised him so much as the way it rode rough shod and
reckless over his snobbishness.
With the fading of infatuation had come many
reflections upon the practical aspects of what he had
done. It pleased him with himself to find that, in this
first test, he had not the least regret, but on the contrary
a genuine pride in the courageous independence
he had shown--another and strong support to his
conviction of his superiority to his fellow-men. He might
be somewhat snobbish--who was not?--who else in his
New York was less than supersaturated with snobbishness?
But snobbishness, the determining quality in the
natures of all the women and most of the men he knew,
had shown itself one of the incidental qualities in his
own nature. After all, reflected he, it took a man, a
good deal of a man, to do what he had done, and not
to regret it, even in the hour of disillusionment. And
it must be said for this egotistic self-approval of his
that like all his judgments there was sound merit of
truth in it. The vanity of the nincompoop is ridiculous.
The vanity of the man of ability is amusing and no
doubt due to a defective point of view upon the proportions
of the universe; but it is not without excuse, and
those who laugh might do well to discriminate even as
they guffaw.
Looking discreetly about, Norman was suddenly
confronted by the face of Josephine Burroughs, only
two tables away.
Until their eyes squarely met he did not know she
was there, or even in America. Before he could make a
beginning of glancing away, she gave him her sweetest
smile and her friendliest bow. And Dorothy, looking
to see to whom he was speaking, was astonished to
receive the same radiance of cordiality. Norman was
pleased at the way his wife dealt with the situation.
She returned both bow and smile in her own quiet,
slightly reserved way of gentle dignity.
"Who was that, speaking?" asked she.
"Miss Burroughs. You must remember her."
He noted it as characteristic that she said, quite
sincerely: "Oh, so it is. I didn't remember her. That
is the girl you were engaged to."
"Yes--`the nice girl uptown,' " said he.
"I didn't like her," said Dorothy, with evident
small interest in the subject. "She was vain."
"You mean you didn't like her way of being vain,"
suggested Norman. "Everyone is vain; so, if we disliked
for vanity we should dislike everyone."
"Yes, it was her way. And just now she spoke to
us both, as if she were doing us a favor."
"Gracious, it's called," said he. "What of it? It
does us no harm and gives her about the only happiness
she's got."
Norman, without seeming to do so, noted the rest
of the Burroughs party. At Josephine's right sat a
handsome young foreigner, and it took small experience
of the world to discover that he was paying court to
her, and that she was pleased and flattered. Norman
asked the waiter who he was, and learned that he came
from the waiter's own province of France, was the Duc
de Valdome. At first glance Norman had thought him
distinguished. Afterward he discriminated. There are
several kinds or degrees of distinction. There is
distinction of race, of class, of family, of dress, of person.
As Frenchman, as aristocrat, as a scion of the ancient
family of Valdome, as a specimen of tailoring and valeting,
Miss Burroughs's young man was distinguished.
But in his own proper person he was rather insignificant.
The others at the table were Americans. Following Miss
Burroughs's cue, they sought an opportunity to speak
friendlily to Norman--and he gave it them. His
acknowledgment of those effusive salutations was polite
but restrained.
"They are friends of yours?" said Dorothy.
"They were," said he. "And they may be again--
when they are friends of OURS."
"I'm not very good at making friends," she warned
him. "I don't like many people." This time her
unconscious and profound egotism pleased him. Evidently
it did not occur to her that she should be eager
to be friends with those people on any terms, that the
only question was whether they would receive her.
She asked: "Why was Miss--Miss Burroughs so
"Why shouldn't she be?"
"But I thought you threw her over."
He winced at this crude way of putting it. "On
the contrary, she threw me over."
Dorothy laughed incredulously. "I know better.
Mr. Tetlow told me."
"She threw me over," repeated he coldly. "Tetlow
was repeating malicious and ignorant gossip."
Dorothy laughed again--it was her second glass of
champagne. "You say that because it's the honorable
thing to say. But I know."
"I say it because it's true," said he.
He spoke quietly, but if she had drunk many more
than two glasses of an unaccustomed and heady liquor
she would have felt his intonation. She paled and
shrank and her slim white fingers fluttered nervously
at the collar of her dress. "I was only joking," she
He laughed good-naturedly. "Don't look as if I
had given you a whipping," said he. "Surely you're
not afraid of me."
She glanced shyly at him, a smile dancing in her
eyes and upon her lips. "Yes," she said. And after a
pause she added: "I didn't used to be. But that was
because I didn't know you--or much of anything."
The smile irradiated her whole face. "You used to be
afraid of me. But you aren't, any more."
"No," said he, looking straight at her. "No, I'm
"I always told you you were mistaken in what you
thought of me. I really don't amount to much. A man
as serious and as important as you are couldn't--
couldn't care about me."
"It's true you don't amount to much, as yet," said
he. "And if you never do amount to much, you'd be no
less than most women and most men. But I've an idea
--at times--that you COULD amount to something."
He saw that he had wounded her vanity, that her
protestations of humility were precisely what he had
suspected. He laughed at her: "I see you thought I'd
contradict you. But I can't afford to be so amiable
now. And the first thing you've got to get rid of is
the part of your vanity that prevents you from growing.
Vanity of belief in one's possibilities is fine. No
one gets anywhere without it. But vanity of belief in
one's present perfection--no one but a god could afford
that luxury."
Observing her closely he was amused--and pleased
--to note that she was struggling to compose herself to
endure his candors as a necessary part of the duties and
obligations she had taken on herself when she gave up
and returned to him.
"What YOU thought of ME used to be the important
thing in our relations," he went on, in his way of raillery
that took all or nearly all the sting out of what he said,
but none of its strength. "Now, the important thing
is what I think of you. You are much younger than
I, especially in experience. You are going to school to
life with me as teacher. You'll dislike the teacher for
the severity of the school. That isn't just, but it's
natural--perhaps inevitable. And please--my dear--
when you are bitterest over what YOU have to put up
with from ME--don't forget what _I_ have to put up with
from YOU."
She was fighting bravely against angry tears. As
for him, he had suddenly become indifferent to what
the people around them might be thinking. With all
his old arrogance come back in full flood, he was feeling
that he would live his own life in his own way and that
those who didn't approve--yes, including Dorothy--
might do as they saw fit. She said:
"I don't blame you for regretting that you didn't
marry Miss Burroughs."
"But I don't regret it," replied he. "On the
contrary, I'm glad."
She glanced hopefully at him. But the hopeful
expression faded as he went on:
"Whether or not I made a mistake in marrying you,
I certainly had an escape from disaster when she
decided she preferred a foreigner and a title. There's a
good sensible reason why so many girls of her class--
more and more all the time--marry abroad. They are
not fit to be the wives of hard-working American
husbands. In fact I've about reached the conclusion that
of the girls growing up nowdays very few in any class
are fit to be American wives. They're not big enough.
They're too coarse and crude in their tastes. They're
only fit for the shallow, showy sort of thing--and the
European aristocracy is their hope--and their place."
Her small face had a fascinating expression of a
{illust. caption = "At Josephine s right sat a handsome young
child trying to understand things far beyond its depth.
He was interested in his own thoughts, however, and
went on--for, if he had been in the habit of stopping
when his hearers failed to understand, or when they
misunderstood, either he would have been silent most
of the time in company or his conversation would have
been as petty and narrow and devoid of originality or
imagination as is the mentality of most human beings
--as is the talk and reading that impress them as
interesting--and profound!
"The American man of the more ambitious sort,"
he went on, "either has to live practically if not
physically apart from his wife or else has to educate some
not too difficult woman to be his wife."
She understood that. "You are really going to
educate me?" she said, with an arch smile. Now that
Norman had her attention, now that she was centering
upon him instead of upon herself, she was interested
in him, and in what he said, whether she understood
it or not, whether it pleased her vanity or wounded
it. The intellects of women work to an unsuspected
extent only through the sex charm. Their appreciations
of books, of art, of men are dependant, often in
the most curious indirect ways, upon the fact that
the author, the artist, the politician or what not is
betrousered. Thus, Dorothy was patient, respectful,
attentive, was not offended by Norman's didactic
way of giving her the lessons in life. Her smile was
happy as well as coquettish, as she asked him to educate her.
He returned her smile. "That depends," answered
"You're not sure I'm worth the trouble?"
"You may put it that way, if you like. But I'd
say, rather, I'm not sure I can spare the time--and
you're not sure you care to fit yourself for the place."
"Oh, but I do!" cried she.
"We'll see--in a few weeks or months," replied he.
The Burroughs party were rising. Josephine had
choice of two ways to the door. She chose the one
that took her past Norman and his bride. She
advanced, beaming. Norman rose, took her extended
hand. Said she:
"So glad to see you." Then, turning the radiant
smile upon Dorothy, "And is this your wife? Is this
the pretty little typewriter girl?"
Dorothy nodded--a charming, ingenuous bend of
the head. Norman felt a thrill of pride in her, so
beautifully unconscious of the treacherous attempt at insult.
It particularly delighted him that she had not made
the mistake of rising to return Josephine's greeting but
had remained seated. Surely this wife of his had the
right instincts that never fail to cause right manners.
For Josephine's benefit, he gazed down at Dorothy with
the proudest, fondest eyes. "Yes--this is she," said
he. "Can you blame me?"
Josephine paled and winced visibly, as if the blow
she had aimed at him had, after glancing off harmlessly,
returned to crush her. She touched Dorothy's proffered
hand, murmured a few stammering phrases of vague
compliment, rejoined her friends. Said Dorothy, when
she and Norman were settled again:
"I shall never like her. Nor she me."
"But you do like this cheese? Waiter, another
bottle of that same."
"Why did she put you in such a good humor?"
inquired his wife.
"It wasn't she. It was you!" replied he. But he
refused to explain.
GALLOWAY accepted Norman's terms. He would
probably have accepted terms far less easy. But Norman
as yet knew with the thoroughness which must
precede intelligent plan and action only the legal side
of financial operations; he had been as indifferent to
the commercial side as a pilot to the value of the cargo
in the ship he engages to steer clear of shoals and rocks.
So with the prudence of the sagacious man's audacities
he contented himself with a share of this first venture
that would simply make a comfortable foundation for
the fortune he purposed to build. As the venture could
not fail outright, even should Galloway die, he rented
a largish place at Hempstead, with the privilege of
purchase, and installed his wife and himself with a dozen
servants and a housekeeper.
"This housekeeper, this Mrs. Lowell," said he to
Dorothy, "is a good enough person as housekeepers
go. But you will have to look sharply after her."
Dorothy seemed to fade and shrink within herself,
which was her way of confessing lack of courage and
fitness to face a situation: "I don't know anything
about those things," she confessed.
"I understand perfectly," said he. "But you
learned something at the place in Jersey City--quite
enough for the start. Really, all you need to know
just now is whether the place is clean or not, and
whether the food comes on the table in proper condition.
The rest you'll pick up gradually."
"I hope so," said she, looking doubtful and helpless;
these new magnitudes were appalling, especially
now that she was beginning to get a point of view upon
"At any rate, don't bother me for these few next
months," said he. "I'm going to be very busy--shall
leave early in the morning and not be back until near
dinner time--if I come at all. No, you'll not be
annoyed by me. You'll be absolute mistress of your time."
She tried to look as if this contented her. But he
could not have failed to see how dissatisfied and
disquieted she really was. He had the best of reasons for
thinking that she was living under the same roof with
him only because she preferred the roof he could provide
to such a one as she could provide for herself whether
by her own earnings or by marrying a man more to her
liking personally. Yet here she was, piqued and
depressed because of his indifference--because he was not
thrusting upon her gallantries she would tolerate only
through prudence!
"You will be lonely at times, I'm afraid," said he.
"But I can't provide friends or even acquaintances for
you for several months--until my affairs are in better
order and my sister and her husband come back from
"Oh, I shan't be lonely," cried she. "I've never
cared for people."
"You've your books, and your music--and riding
--and shopping trips to town--and the house and
grounds to look after."
"Yes--and my dreams," said she hopefully, her
eyes suggesting the dusky star depths.
"Oh--the dreams. You'll have little time for them,"
said he drily. "And little inclination, I imagine, as
you wake up to the sense of how much there is to be
learned. Dreaming is the pastime of people who haven't
the intelligence or the energy to accomplish anything.
If you wish to please me--and you do--don't you?"
"Yes," she murmured. She forced her rebellious
lips to the laconic assent. She drooped the lids over
her rebellious eyes, lest he should detect her wounded
feelings and her resentment.
"I assumed so," said he, with a secret smile.
"Well, if you wish to please me, you'll give your time
to practical things--things that'll make you more
interesting and make us both more comfortable. It was
all very well to dream, while you had little to do and
small opportunity. But now-- Try to cut it out."
It is painful to an American girl of any class to
find that she has to earn her position as wife. The
current theory, a tradition from an early and womanrevering
day, is that the girl has done her share and
more when she has consented to the suit of the ardent
male and has intrusted her priceless charms to his
exclusive keeping. According to that same theory, it is
the husband who must earn his position--must continue
to earn it. He is a humble creature, honored by the
presence of a wonderful being, a cross between a queen
and a goddess. He cannot do enough to show his
gratitude. Perhaps--but only perhaps--had Norman
married Josephine Burroughs, he might have assented,
after a fashion, to this idea of the relations of the man
and the woman. No doubt, had he remained under the
spell of Dorothy's mystery and beauty, he would have
felt and acted the slave he had made of himself at the
outset. But in the circumstances he was looking at
their prospective life together with sane eyes. And
so she had, in addition to all her other reasons for
heartache, a sense that she, the goddess-queen, the
American woman, with the birthright of dominion over
the male, was being cheated, humbled, degraded.
At first he saw that this sense of being wronged
made it impossible for her to do anything at all toward
educating herself for her position. But time brought
about the change he had hoped for. A few weeks, and
she began to cheer up, almost in spite of herself. What
was the use in sulking or sighing or in self-pitying,
when it brought only unhappiness to oneself? The
coarse and brutal male in the case was either unaware
or indifferent. There was no one and no place to fly
to--unless she wished to be much worse off than her
darkest mood of self-pity represented her to her
sorrowing self. The housekeeper, Mrs. Lowell, was a
"broken down gentlewoman" who had been chastened
by misfortune into a wholesome state of practical good
sense about the relative values of the real and the
romantic. Mrs. Lowell diagnosed the case of the young
wife--as Norman had shrewdly guessed she would--
and was soon adroitly showing her the many advantages
of her lot. Before they had been three months at
Hempstead, Dorothy had discovered that she, in fact,
was without a single ground for serious complaint. She
had a husband who was generous about money, and left
her as absolutely alone as if he were mere occasional
visitor at the house. She had her living--and such a
living!--she had plenty of interesting occupation--she
had not a single sordid care--and perfect health.
The dreams, too-- It was curious about those
dreams. She would now have found it an intolerable
bore to sit with hands idle in her lap and eyes upon
vacancy, watching the dim, luminous shadows flit aimlessly
by. Yet that was the way she used to pass hours--entire
days. She used to fight off sleep at night the longer to
enjoy her one source of pure happiness. There was
no doubt about it, the fire of romance was burning low,
and she was becoming commonplace, practical, resigned.
Well, why not? Was not life over for her?--that is,
the life a girl's fancy longs for. In place of hope of
romance, there was an uneasy feeling of a necessity of
pleasing this husband of hers--of making him comfortable.
What would befall her if she neglected trying
to please him or if she, for all her trying, failed? She
did not look far in that direction. Her uneasiness
remained indefinite--yet definite enough to keep her
working from waking until bedtime. And she dropped
into the habit of watching his face with the same
anxiety with which a farmer watches the weather. When
he happened one day to make a careless, absent-minded
remark in disapproval of something in the domestic
arrangements, she was thrown into such a nervous flutter
that he observed it.
"What is it?" he asked.
"Nothing--nothing," replied she in the hurried
tone of one who is trying hastily to cover his thoughts.
He reflected, understood, burst into a fit of hearty
laughter. "So, you are trying to make a bogey of
She colored, protested faintly.
"Don't you know I'm about the least tyrannical,
least exacting person in the world?"
"You've been very patient with me," said she.
"Now--now," cried he in a tone of raillery, "you
might as well drop that. Don't you know there's no
reason for being afraid of me?"
"Yes, I KNOW it," replied she. "But I FEEL afraid,
just the same. I can't help it."
It was impossible for him to appreciate the effect
of his personality upon others--how, without his trying
or even wishing, it made them dread a purely imaginary
displeasure and its absurdly imaginary consequences.
But this confession of hers was not the first time he had
heard of the effect of potential and latent danger he
had upon those associated with him. And, as it was
most useful, he was not sorry that he had it. He made
no further attempt to convince her that he was harmless.
He knew that he was harmless where she was concerned.
Was it not just as well that she should not know
it, when vaguely dreading him was producing excellent
results? As with a Christian the fear of the Lord
was the beginning of wisdom, so with a wife the fear
of her husband was the beginning of wisdom. In striving
to please him, to fit herself for the position of wife,
she was using up the time she would otherwise have
spent in making herself miserable with self-pity--that
supreme curse of the idle both male and female, that
most prolific of the breeders of unhappy wives. Yes,
wives were unhappy not because their husbands neglected
them, for busy people have no time to note
whether they are neglected or not, but because they
gave their own worthless, negligent, incapable selves
too much attention.
One evening, she, wearing the look of the timid but
resolute intruder, came into his room while he was
dressing for dinner and hung about with an air no man
of his experience could fail to understand.
"Something wrong about the house?" said he
finally. "Need more money?"
"No--nothing," she replied, with a slight flush.
He saw that she was mustering all her courage for
some grand effort. He waited, only mildly curious, as
his mind was busy with some new business he and Tetlow
had undertaken. Presently she stood squarely before
him, her hands behind her back and her face upturned.
"Won't you kiss me?" she said.
"Sure!" said he. And he kissed her on the cheek
and resumed operations with his military brushes.
"I didn't mean that--that kind of a kiss," said she
He paused with a quick characteristic turn of the
head, looked keenly at her, resumed his brushing. A
quizzical smile played over his face. "Oh, I see," said
he. "You've been thinking about duty. And you've
decided to do yours. . . . Eh?"
"I think-- It seems to me-- I don't think--" she
stammered, then said desperately, "I've not been acting
right by you. I want to--to do better."
"That's good," said he briskly, with a nod of
approval--and never a glance in her direction. "You
think you'll let me have a kiss now and then--eh? All
right, my dear."
"Oh, you WON'T understand me!" she cried, ready
to weep with vexation.
"You mean I won't misunderstand you," replied
he amiably, as he set about fixing his tie. "You've
been mulling things over in your mind. You've decided
I'm secretly pining for you. You've resolved to be
good and kind and dutiful--generous--to feed old dog
Tray a few crumbs now and then. . . . That's nice and
sweet of you--" He paused until the crisis in tying
was passed--"very nice and sweet of you--but--
There's nothing in it. All I ask of you for myself is
to see that I'm comfortable--that Mrs. Lowell and the
servants treat me right. If I don't like anything, I'll
speak out--never fear."
"But--Fred--I want to be your wife--I really
do," she pleaded.
He turned on her, and his eyes seemed to pierce
into the chamber of her thoughts. "Drop it, my dear,"
he said quietly. "Neither of us is in love with the
other. So there's not the slightest reason for pretending.
If I ever want to be free of you, I'll tell you so.
If you ever want to get rid of me, all you have to do
is to ask--and it'll be arranged. Meanwhile, let's enjoy
His good humor, obviously unfeigned, would have
completely discouraged a more experienced woman,
though as vain as Dorothy and with as much ground
as he had given her for self-confidence where he was
concerned. But Dorothy was depressed rather than
profoundly discouraged. A few moments and she
found courage to plead: "But you used to care for
me. Don't I attract you any more?"
"You say that quite pathetically," said he, in goodhumored
amusement. "I'm willing to do anything
within reason for your happiness. But really--just
to please your vanity I can't make myself over again
into the fool I used to be about you. You'd hate it
yourself. Why, then, this pathetic air?"
"I feel so useless--and as if I were shirking," she
persisted. "And if you did care for me, it wouldn't
offend me now as it used to. I've grown much wiser--
more sensible. I understand things--and I look at
them differently. And--I always did LIKE you."
"Even when you despised me?" mocked he. It
irritated him a little vividly to recall what a consummate
fool he had made of himself for her, even though
he had every reason to be content with the event of his
"A girl always thinks she despises a man when she
can do as she pleases with him," replied she. "As Mr.
Tetlow said, I was a fool."
"_I_ was the fool," said he. "Where did that man
of mine lay the handkerchief?"
"I, too," cried she, eagerly. "You were foolish to
bother about a little silly like me. But, oh, what a FOOL
I was not to realize----"
"You're not trying to tell me you're in love with
me?" said he sharply.
"Oh, no--no, indeed," she protested in haste,
alarmed by his overwhelming manner. "I'm not trying
to deceive you in any way."
"Never do," said he. "It's the one thing I can't
"But I thought--it seemed to me--" she persisted,
"that perhaps if we tried to--to care for each other,
we'd maybe get to--to caring--more or less. Don't
you think so?"
"Perhaps," was his careless reply. He added,
"But I, for one, am well content with things as they
are. I confess I don't look back with any satisfaction
on those months when I was making an ass of myself
about you. I was ruining my career. Now I'm happy,
and everything is going fine in my business. No
experiments, if you please." He shook his head, looking
at her with smiling raillery. "It might turn out that
I'd care for you in the same crazy way again, and that
you didn't like it. Again you might get excited about
me and I'd remain calm about you. That would give
me a handsome revenge, but I'm not looking for revenge."
He finished his toilet, she standing quiet and
thoughtful in an attitude of unconscious grace.
"No, my dear," resumed he, as he prepared to
descend for dinner, "let's have a peaceful, cheerful married
life, with no crazy excitements. Let's hang on to
what we've got, and take no unnecessary risks." He
patted her on the shoulder. "Isn't that sensible?"
She looked at him with serious, appealing eyes.
"You are SURE you aren't unhappy?"
It was amusing to him--though he concealed it--
to see how tenaciously her feminine egotism held to the
idea that she was the important person. And, when
women of experience thus deluded themselves, it was
not at all strange that this girl should be unable to
grasp the essential truth as to the relations of men and
women--that, while a woman who makes her sex her
profession must give to a man, to some man, a dominant
place in her life, a man need give a woman--at
least, any one woman--little or no place. But he
would not wantonly wound her harmless vanity. "Don't
worry about me, please," said he in the kindest,
friendliest way. "I am telling you the truth."
And they descended to the dining room. Usually
he was preoccupied and she did most of the talking--
not a difficult matter for her, as she was one of those
who by nature have much to say, who talk on and on,
giving lively, pleasant recitals of commonplace daily
happenings. That evening it was her turn to be
abstracted, or, at least, silent. He talked volubly,
torrentially, like a man of teeming mind in the highest
spirits. And he was in high spirits. The Galloway
enterprise had developed into a huge success; also, it
did not lessen his sense of the pleasantness of life to
have learned that his wife was feeling about as well
disposed toward him as he cared to have her feel, had
come round to that state of mind which he, as a practical
man, wise in the art of life, regarded as ideal for
a wife.
A successful man, with a quiet and comfortable
home, well enough looked after by an agreeable wife,
exceeding good to look at and interested only in her
home and her husband--what more could a man ask?
What more could a man ask? Only one thing more
--a baby. The months soon passed and that rounding
out of the home side of his life was consummated with
no mishap. The baby was a girl, which contented him
and delighted Dorothy. He wished it to be named after
her, she preferred his sister's name--Ursula. It was
Ursula who decided the question. "She looks like you,
Fred," she declared, after an earnest scanning of the
wierd little face. "Why not call her Frederica?"
Norman thought this clumsy, but Dorothy instantly
assented--and the baby was duly christened Frederica.
Perhaps it was because he was having less pressing
business in town, but whatever the reason, he began to
stay at home more--surprisingly more. And, being at
home, he naturally fell into the habit of fussing with the
baby, he having the temperament that compels a man to
be always at something, and the baby being convenient
and in the nature of a curiosity. Ursula, who was
stopping in the house, did not try to conceal her amazement
at this extraordinary development of her brother's
Said she: "I never before knew you to take the
slightest interest in a child."
Said he: "I never before saw a child worth taking
the slightest interest in."
"Oh, well," said Ursula, "it won't last. You'll
soon grow tired of your plaything."
"Perhaps you're right," said Norman. "I hope
you're wrong." He reflected, added: "In fact, I'm
almost certain you're wrong. I'm too selfish to let myself
lose such a pleasure. If you had observed my life
closely, you'd have discovered that I have never given up
a single thing I found a source of pleasure. That is
good sense. That is why the superior sort of men and
women retain something of the boy and the girl all their
lives. I still like a lot of the games I played as a boy.
For some years I've had no chance to indulge in them.
I'll be glad when Rica is old enough to give me the chance
She was much amused. "Who'd have suspected
that YOU were a born father !"
"Not I, for one," confessed he. "We never know
what there is in us until circumstances bring it out."
"A devoted father and a doting husband," pursued
Ursula. "I must say I rather sympathize with you as
a doting husband. Of course, I, a woman, can't see her
as you do. I can't imagine a man--especially a man
of your sort--going stark mad about a mere woman.
But, as women go, I'll admit she is a good specimen.
Not the marvel of intelligence and complex character
you imagine, but still a good specimen. And physically--"
She laughed-- "THAT'S what caught you.
That's what holds you--and will hold you as long as it
"Was there ever a woman who didn't think that?--
and didn't like to think it, though I believe many of them
make strong pretense at scorning the physical." Fred
was regarding his sister with a quizzical expression.
"You approve of her?" he said.
"More than I'd have thought possible. And after
I've taken her about in the world a while she'll be perfect."
"No doubt," said Norman. "But, alas, she'll never
be perfect. For, you're not going to take her about."
"So she says when I talk of it to her," replied
Ursula. "But I know you'll insist. You needn't be uneasy
as to how she'll be received."
"I'm not," said Norman dryly.
"You've got back all you lost--and more. How
we Americans do worship success!"
"Don't suggest to Dorothy anything further about
society," said Norman. "I've no time or taste for it,
and I don't wish to be annoyed by intrusions into my
"But you'll not be satisfied always with just her,"
urged his sister. "Besides, you've got a position to
Norman's smile was cynically patient. "I want my
home and I want my career," said he. "And I don't
want any society nonsense. I had the good luck to
marry a woman who knows and cares nothing about it.
I don't purpose to give up the greatest advantage of
my marriage."
Ursula was astounded. She knew the meaning of
his various tones and manners, and his way of rejecting
her plans for Dorothy--and, incidentally, for her own
amusement--convinced her that he was through and
through in earnest. "It will be dreadfully lonesome
for her, Fred," she pleaded.
"We'll wait till that trouble faces us," replied he,
not a bit impressed. "And don't forget--not a word
of temptation to her from you." This with an expression
that warned her how well he knew her indirect ways
of accomplishing what she could not gain directly.
"Oh, I shan't interfere," said she in a tone that
made it a binding promise. "But you can't expect me
to sympathize with your plans for an old-fashioned
domestic life."
"Certainly not," said Norman. "You don't
understand. Women of your sort never do. That's why
you're not fit to be the wives of men worth while. A
serious man and a society woman can't possibly hit it
off together. For a serious man the outside world is a
place to work, and home is a place to rest. For a society
woman, the world is a place to idle and home is a work
shop, an entertainment factory. It's impossible to
reconcile those two opposite ideas."
She saw his point at once, and it appealed to her
intelligence. And she had his own faculty for never
permitting prejudice to influence judgment. She said in a
dubious tone, "Do you think Dorothy will sympathize
with your scheme?"
"I'm sure I don't know," replied he.
"If she doesn't--" Ursula halted there.
Her brother shrugged his shoulders. "If she proves
to be the wrong sort of woman for me, she'll go her way
and I mine."
"Why, I thought you loved her!"
"What have I said that leads you to change your
mind?" said he.
"A man does not take the high hand with the woman
he adores."
"So?" said Norman tranquilly.
"Well," said his puzzled sister by way of conclusion,
"if you persist in being the autocrat----"
"Autocrat?--I?" laughed he. "Am I trying to
compel her to do anything she doesn't wish to do?
Didn't I say she would be free to go if she were dissatisfied
with me and my plan--if she didn't adopt it gladly
as her own plan, also?"
"But you know very well she's dependent upon you,
"Is that my fault? Does a man force a woman to
become dependent? And just because she is dependent,
should he therefore yield to her and let her make of his
life a waste and a folly?"
"You're far too clever for me to argue with.
Anyhow, as I was saying, if you persist in what I call
"When a woman cries tyranny, it means she's furious
because she is not getting HER autocratic way."
"Maybe so," admitted Ursula cheerfully. "At
any rate, if you persist--unless she loves you utterly,
your life will be miserable."
"She may make her own life miserable, but not
mine," replied he. "If I were the ordinary man--
counting himself lucky to have induced any woman to
marry him--afraid if he lost his woman he'd not be able
to get another--able to give his woman only an indifferent
poor support, and so on--if I were one of those
men, what you say might be true. But what deep and
permanent mischief can a frail woman do a strong
"There's instance after instance in history"
"Of strong men wrecking THEMSELVES through various
kinds of madness, including sex madness. But, my
dear Ursula, not an instance--not one--where the
woman was responsible. If history were truth, instead
of lies--you women might have less conceit."
"You--talking this way!" mocked Ursula.
"Meaning, I suppose, my late infatuation?"
inquired he, unruffled.
"I never saw or read of a worse case."
"Am I ruined?"
"No. But why not? Because you got her. If
you hadn't--" Ursula blew out a large cloud of
cigarette smoke with a "Pouf!"
"If I hadn't got her," said Norman, "I'd have got
well, just the same, in due time. A sick WEAK man goes
down; a sick STRONG man gets well. When a man who's
reputed to be strong doesn't get well, it's because he
merely seemed strong but wasn't. The poets and novelists
and the historians and the rest of the nature fakers
fail to tell ALL the facts, dear sister. All the facts would
spoil a pretty story."
Ursula thought a few minutes, suddenly burst out
with, "Do you think Dorothy loves you now?"
Norman rose to go out doors. "I don't think about
such unprofitable things," said he. "As long as we suit
each other and get along pleasantly--why bother about
a name for it?"
In the French window he paused, stood looking out
with an expression so peculiar that Ursula, curious,
came to see the cause. A few yards away, under a big
symmetrical maple in full leaf sat Dorothy with the
baby on her lap. She was dressed very simply in white.
There was a little sunlight upon her hair, a sheen of gold
over her skin. She was looking down at the baby. Her
Said Ursula: "Several of the great painters have
tried to catch that expression. But they've failed."
Norman made no reply. He had not heard. All
in an instant there had been revealed to him a whole
new world--a view of man and woman--of woman--
of sex--its meaning so different from what he had
believed and lived.
"What're you thinking about, Fred?" inquired his
He shook his head, with a mysterious smile, and
strolled away.
THE baby grew and thrived, as the habit is with
healthy children well taken care of. Mrs. Norman soon
got back her strength, her figure, and perhaps more
than her former beauty--as the habit is with healthy
women well taken care of. Norman's career continued
to prosper, likewise according to the habit of all healthy
things well taken care of. In a world where nothing
happens by chance, mischance, to be serious, must have
some grave fault as its hidden cause. We mortals, who
love to live at haphazard and to blame God or destiny
or "bad luck" for our calamities, hate to take this
modern and scientific view of the world and life. But,
whether we like it or not, it is the truth--and, as we
can't get round it, why not accept it cheerfully and, so
appear a little less ignorant and ridiculous?
During their first year at the Hempstead place the
results in luxury and comfort had at no time accounted
for the money it cost and the servants it employed--
that is to say, paid. But Norman was neither unreasonable
nor impatient. Also, in his years of experience
with his sister's housekeeping, and of observation of
the other women, he had grown exceedingly moderate
in his estimate of the ability of women and in his
expectations from them. He had reached the conclusion
that the women who were sheltered and pampered by
the men of the successful classes were proficient only
in those things that call for no skill or effort beyond
the wagging of the tongue. He saw that Dorothy was
making honest endeavor to learn her business, and he
knew that learning takes time--much time.
He believed that in the end she would do better than
any other wife of his acquaintance, at the business of
wife and mother.
Before the baby was two years old, his belief was
rewarded. Things began to run better--began to run
well, even. Dorothy--a serious person, unhampered of
a keen sense of humor, had taught herself the duties
of her new position in much the same slow plodding way
in which she had formerly made of herself a fair stenographer
and a tolerable typewriter. Mrs. Lowell had
helped--and Ursula, too--and Norman not a little.
But Dorothy, her husband discovered, was one of those
who thoroughly assimilate what they take in--who make
it over into part of themselves. So, her manner of keeping
house, of arranging the gardens, of bringing up the
baby, of dressing herself, was peculiarly her own. It
was not by any means the best imaginable way. It was
even what many energetic, systematic and highly competent
persons would speak contemptuously of. But it
satisfied Norman--and that was all Dorothy had in
If those who have had any considerable opportunity
to observe married life will forget what they have read
in novels and will fix their minds on what they have
observed at first hand, they will recognize the Norman
marriage, with the husband and wife living together
yet apart as not peculiar but of a rather common type.
Neither Fred nor Dorothy had any especial reason on
any given day to try to alter their relations; so the
law of inertia asserted itself and matters continued as
they had begun. It was, perhaps, a chance remark of
Tetlow's that was the remote but efficient cause of a
change, as the single small stone slipping high up on
the mountain side results in a vast landslide into the
valley miles below. Tetlow said one day, in connection
with some estate they were settling:
"I've always pitied the only child. It must be
miserably lonesome."
No sooner were the words out of his mouth than
he colored violently; for, he remembered that the
Normans had but one child and he knew the probable reason
for it. Norman seemed not to have heard or seen.
Tetlow hoped he hadn't, but, knowing the man, feared
otherwise. And he was right.
In the press of other matters Norman forgot
Tetlow's remark--remembered it again a few days later
when he was taking the baby out for an airing in the
motor--forgot it again--finally, when he took a several
days' rest at home, remembered it and kept it in mind.
He began to think of Dorothy once more in a definite,
personal way, began to observe her as his wife, instead
of as mere part of his establishment. An intellectual
person she certainly was not. She had a quaint
individual way of speaking and of acting. She had the
marvelous changeable beauty that had once caused him
to take the bit in his teeth and run wild. But he would
no more think of talking with her about the affairs that
really interested him than--well, than the other men of
large career in his acquaintance would think of talking
those matters to their wives.
But-- He was astonished to discover that he liked
this slim, quiet, unobtrusive little wife of his better than
he liked anyone else in the world, that he eagerly turned
away from the clever and amusing companionship he
might have at his clubs to come down to the country
and be with her and the baby--not the baby alone, but
her also. Why? He could not find a satisfactory reason.
He saw that she created at that Hempstead place
an atmosphere of rest, of tranquility. But this merely
thrust the mystery one step back. HOW did she create
this atmosphere--and for a man of his varied and
discriminating tastes? To that question he could work
out no answer. She had for him now a charm as different
from the infatuation of former days as calm sea is
from tempest-racked sea--utterly different, yet fully
as potent. As he observed her and wondered at these
discoveries of his, the ghost of a delight he had thought
forever dead stirred in his heart, in his fancy. Yes,
it was a pleasure, a thrilling pleasure to watch her.
There was music in those quiet, graceful movements of
hers, in that quiet, sweet voice. Not the wild, bloodheating
music of the former days, but a kind far more
melodious--tender, restful to nerves sorely tried by the
tensions of ambition. He made some sort of an attempt
to define his feeling for her, but could not. It seemed
to fit into none of the usual classifications.
Then, he wondered-- "What is SHE thinking
of ME?"
To find out he resorted to various elaborate round
about methods that did credit to the ingenuity of his
mind. But he made at every cunning cast a barren
water-haul. Either she was not thinking of him at all
or what she thought swam too deep for any casts he
knew how to make in those hidden and unfamiliar
waters. Or, perhaps she did not herself know what
she thought, being too busy with the baby and the
household to have time for such abstract and not pressing,
perhaps not important, matters. He moved slowly
in his inquiries into her state of mind because there
was all the time in the world and no occasion for haste.
He moved cautiously because he wished to do nothing
that might disturb the present serenity of their home
life. Did she dislike him? Was she indifferent? Had
she developed a habit of having him about that was in
a way equivalent to liking?
These languid but delightful investigations--not
unlike the pastimes one spins out when one has a long,
long lovely summer day with hours on hours for luxurious
happy idling--these investigations were abruptly
suspended by a suddenly compelled trip to Europe.
He arranged for Dorothy to send him a cable every
day--"about yourself and the baby"--and he sent an
occasional cabled bulletin about himself in reply. But
neither wrote to the other; their relationship was not
of the letter-exchanging kind--and had no need of pretense
at what it was not.
In the third month of his absence, his sister Ursula
came over for dresses, millinery and truly aristocratic
society. She had little time for him, or he for her, but
they happened to lunch alone about a week after his
"You're looking cross and unhappy," said she.
"What's the matter? Business?"
"No--everything's going well."
"Same thing that's troubling Dorothy, then?"
"Is Dorothy ill?" inquired he, suddenly as alert as
he had been absent. "She hasn't let me know anything
about it."
"Ill? Of course not," reassured Ursula. "She's
never ill. But--I've not anywhere or ever seen two
people as crazy about each other as you and she."
"Really?" Norman had relapsed into interest in
what he was eating.
"You live all alone down there in the country.
You treat anyone who comes to see you as intruder.
And as soon as darling husband goes away, darling
wife wanders about like a damned soul. Honestly, it
gave me the blues to look at her eyes. And I used to
think she cared more about the baby than about you."
"She's probably worried about something else,"
said Norman. "More salad? No? There's no dessert--
at least I've ordered none. But if you'd like some
"I thought of that," replied Ursula, not to be
deflected. "I mean of her being upset about something
beside you. I'm slow to suspect anyone of really caring
about any ONE else. But, although she didn't confess,
I soon saw that it was your absence. And she
wasn't putting on for my benefit, either. My maid hears
the same thing from all the servants."
"This is pleasant," said Norman in his mocking
good-humored way.
"And you're in the same state," she charged with
laughing but sympathetic eyes. "Why, Fred, you're
as madly in love with her as ever."
"I wonder," said he reflectively.
"Why didn't you bring her with you?"
He stared at his sister like a man who has just
discovered that he, with incredible stupidity, had overlooked
the obvious. "I didn't think I'd be away long,"
evaded he.
He saw Ursula off for the Continent, half promised
to join her in a few weeks at Aix. A day or so after
her departure he had a violent fit of blues, was haunted
by a vision of the baby and the comfortable, peaceful
house on Long Island. He had expected to stay about
two months longer. "I'm sick of England and of
hotels," he said, and closed up his business and sailed the
following week.
She and the baby were at the pier to meet him. He
looked for signs of the mourning Ursula had described,
but he looked in vain. Never had he seen her lovelier,
or so sparkling. And how she did talk!--rattling on
and on, with those interesting commonplaces of domestic
event--the baby, the household, the garden, the baby
--the horses, the dogs, the baby--the servants, her new
dresses, the baby--and so on, and so on--and the
But when they got into the motor at Hempstead
station for the drive home, silence fell upon her--he
had been almost silent from the start of the little
journey. As the motor swung into the grounds, looking
their most beautiful for his homecoming, an enormous
wave of pure delight began to surge up in him, to swell,
to rush, to break, dashing its spray of tears into his
eyes. He turned his head away to hide the too obvious
display of feeling. They went into the house, he carrying
the baby. He gave it to the nurse--and he and
she were alone.
"It certainly is good to be home again," he said.
The words were the tamest commonplace. We always
speak in the old stereotyped commonplaces when
we speak directly from the heart. His tone made her
glance quickly at him.
"Why, I believe you ARE glad," said she.
He took her hand. They looked at each other.
Suddenly she flung herself wildly into his arms and
clung to him in an agony of joy and fear. "Oh, I
missed you so!" she sobbed. "I missed you so!"
"It was frightful," said he. "It shall never
happen again."

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