The Great God Success
John Graham (David Graham Phillips)
Part 2 out of 4
under my breath 'I love you. I love you. Why do you not love me?'"
Howard put his head down so that his face was hid from her in her lap.
"After the doctor had talked to me a few minutes, had asked me a few
questions," she went on, "I knew. And I was not sorry. It was nearly over,
anyhow, dear. Did you know it? I often wondered if you did. Yes, I saw many
little signs. I wouldn't admit it to myself until this illness came. Then I
confessed it to myself. And I was not sorry we were to part this way. But I
did not expect"--and she drew a long breath--"happiness!"
"No, no," he protested, lifting his face and looking at her. She drank in
the expression of his eyes--the love, the longing, the misery--as if it had
been a draught of life.
"Ah, you make me so happy, so happy. How much I owe to you. Four long,
long, beautiful years. How much! How much! And at last--love!"
There was silence for several minutes. Then he spoke: "I loved you from the
first, I believe. Only I never appreciated you. I was so self-absorbed. And
you--you fed my vanity, never insisted upon yourself."
"But we have had happiness. And no one, no one, no one will ever be to you
what I have been."
"I love you." Howard's voice had a passionate earnestness in it that
carried conviction. "The light goes out with you."
"With this little candle? No, no, dear--_my_ dear. You will be a great
man. You will not forget; but you will go on and do the things that I'm
afraid I didn't help, maybe hindered, you in trying to do. And you will
keep a little room in your heart, a very little room. And I shall be in
there. And you'll open the door every once in a while and come in and take
me in your arms and kiss me. And I think--yes, I feel that--that I shall
know and thrill."
Her voice sank lower and lower and then her eyes closed, and presently he
called the nurse.
The next day he rose from his bed, just at the connecting door between his
room and hers, and looked in at her. The shades were drawn and only a faint
light crept into the room. He thought he saw her stir and went nearer.
"Why, they've made you very gay this morning," he laughed, "with the red
ribbons at your neck."
There was no answer. He came still nearer. The red ribbons were long
streamers of blood. She was dead.
A STRUGGLE FOR SELF-CONTROL.
He left her at Asheville as she wished--"where I have been happiest and
where I wish you to think of me." On the train coming north he reviewed his
past and made his plans for the future.
As to the past he had only one regret--that he had not learned to
appreciate Alice until too late. He felt that his failure to advance had
been due entirely to himself--to his inertia, his willingness to seize any
pretext for refraining from action. As to the future--work, work with a
purpose. His mind must be fully and actively occupied. There must be no
leisure, for leisure meant paralysis.
At the Twenty-third Street ferry-house he got into a hansom and gave the
address of "the flat." He did not note where he was until the hansom drew
up at the curb. He leaned forward and looked at the house--at their
windows with the curtains which she had draped so gracefully, which she and
he had selected at Vantine's one morning. How often he had seen her
standing between those curtains, looking out for him, her blue-black hair
waving back from her forehead so beautifully and her face ready to smile so
soon as ever she should catch sight of him.
He leaned back and closed his eyes. The blood was pounding through his
temples and his eyeballs seemed to be scalding under the lids.
"Never again," he moaned. "How lonely it is."
The cabman lifted the trap. "Here we are, sir."
"Yes--in a moment." Where should he go? But what did it matter? "To a
hotel," he said. "The nearest."
"That will do--yes--go there."
He resolved never to return to "the flat." On the following day he sent for
the maid and arranged the breaking up. He gave her everything except his
personal belongings and a few of Alice's few possessions--those he could
keep, and those which he must destroy because he could not endure the
thought of any one having them.
At the office all understood his mourning; but no one, not even Kittredge,
knew him well enough to intrude beyond gentler looks and tones. Kittredge
had written a successful novel and was going abroad for two years of travel
and writing. Howard took his rooms in the Royalton. They dined together a
few nights before he sailed.
"And now," said Kittredge, "I'm my own master. Why, I can't begin to fill
the request for 'stuff.' I can go where I please, do as I please. At last I
shall work. For I don't call the drudgery done under compulsion work."
"Work!" Howard repeated the word several times absently. Then he leaned
forward and said with what was for him an approach to the confidential:
"What a mess I have been making of my life! What waste! What folly! I've
behaved like a child, an impulsive, irresponsible child. And now I must get
to work, really to work."
"With your talents a year or so of work would free you."
"Oh, I'm free." Howard hesitated and flushed. "Yes, I'm free," he repeated
bitterly. "We are all free except for the shackles we fasten upon ourselves
and can unlock for ourselves. I don't agree with you that earning one's
daily bread is drudgery."
"Well, let's see you work--work for something definite. Why don't you try
for some higher place on the paper--correspondent at Washington or
London--no, not London, for that is a lounging job which would ruin even an
energetic man. Why not try for the editorial staff? They ought to have
somebody upstairs who takes an interest in something besides politics."
"But doesn't a man have to write what he doesn't believe? You know how
Segur is always laughing at the protection editorials he writes, although
he is a free-trader."
"Oh, there must be many directions in which the paper is free to express
Howard began that very night. As soon as he reached his club where he was
living for a few days he sat down to the file of the _News-Record_ and
began to study its editorial style and method. He had learned a great deal
before three o'clock in the morning and had written a short editorial on a
subject he took from the news. In the morning he read his article again and
decided that with a few changes--adjectives cut out, long sentences cut up,
short sentences made shorter and the introduction and the conclusion
omitted--it would be worth handing in. With the corrected article in his
hand he knocked at the door of the editor's room.
It was a small, plainly furnished office--no carpet, three severe chairs, a
revolving book case with a battered and dusty bust of Lincoln on it, a
table strewn with newspaper cuttings. Newspapers from all parts of the
world were scattered about the floor. At the table sat the editor, Mr.
Malcolm, whom Howard had never before seen.
He was short and slender, with thin white hair and a smooth, satirical
face, deeply wrinkled and unhealthily pale. He was dressed in black but
wore a string tie of a peculiarly lively shade of red. His most conspicuous
feature was his nose--long, narrow, pointed, sarcastic.
"My name is Howard," began the candidate, all but stammering before Mr.
Malcolm's politely uninterested glance, "and I come from downstairs."
"Oh--so you are Mr. Howard. I've heard of you often. Will you be seated?"
"Thank you--no. I've only brought in a little article I thought I'd submit
for your page. I'd like to write for it and, if you don't mind, I'll bring
in an article occasionally."
"Glad to have it. We like new ideas; and a new pen, a new mind, ought to
produce them. If you don't see your articles in the paper, you'll know what
has happened to them. If you do, paste them on space slips and send them up
by the boy on Thursdays." Mr. Malcolm nodded and smiled and dipped his pen
in the ink-well.
The editorial appeared just as Howard wrote it. He read and reread it,
admiring the large, handsome editorial type in which it was printed, and
deciding that it was worthy of the excellent place in the column which Mr.
Malcolm had given it. He wrote another that very day and sent it up by the
boy. He found it in his desk the next noon with "Too abstract--never forget
that you are writing for a newspaper" scrawled across the last page in blue
In the two following months Howard submitted thirty-five articles. Three
were published in the main as he wrote them, six were "cut" to paragraphs,
one appeared as a letter to the editor with "H" signed to it. The others
disappeared. It was not encouraging, but Howard kept on. He knew that if he
stopped marching steadily, even though hopelessly, toward a definite goal,
a heavy hand would be laid upon his shoulder to drag him away and fling him
down upon a grave.
As it was, desperately though he fought to refrain from backward glances,
he was now and again taken off his guard. A few of her pencil marks on the
margin of a leaf in one of his books; a gesture, a little mannerism of some
woman passing him in the street--and he would be ready to sink down with
weariness and loneliness, like a tired traveller in a vast desert.
He completely lost self-control only once. It was a cold, wet May night and
everything had gone against him that day. He looked drearily round his
rooms as he came in. How stiff, how forbidding, how desert they seemed! He
threw himself into a big chair.
"No friends," he thought, "no one that cares a rap whether I live or die,
suffer or am happy. Nothing to care for. Why do I go on? What's the use if
one has not an object--a human object?"
And their life together came flooding back--her eyes, her kisses, her
attentions, her passionate love for him, so pervasive yet so unobtrusive;
the feeling of her smooth, round arm about his neck; her way of pressing
close up to him and locking her fingers in his; the music of her voice,
singing her heartsong to him yet never putting it into words----
He stumbled over to the divan and stretched himself out and buried his face
in the cushions. "Come back!" he sobbed. "Come back to me, dear." And then
he cried, as a man cries--without tears, with sobs choking up into his
throat and issuing in moans.
"Curious," he said aloud when the storm was over and he was sitting up,
ashamed before himself for his weakness, "who would have suspected me of
Howard was now thirty-two. He was still trying for the editorial staff; but
in the last month only five of his articles had been printed to
twenty-three thrown away. A national campaign was coming on and the
_News-Record_ was taking a political stand that seemed to him sound
and right. For the first time he tried political editorials.
The cause aroused his passion for justice, for democratic equality and the
abolition of privilege. He had something to say and he succeeded in saying
it vigorously, effectively, with clearness and moderation of statement. How
to avoid hysteria; how to set others on fire instead of only making of
himself a fiery spectacle; how to be earnest, yet calm; how to be satirical
yet sincere; how to be interesting, yet direct--these were his objects,
pursued with incessant toiling, rewriting again and again, recasting of
sentences, careful balancing of words for exact shades of meaning.
"I shall never learn to write," had been his complaint of himself to
himself for years. And in these days it seemed to him that he was farther
from a good style than ever. His standards had risen, were rising; he
feared that his power of accomplishment was failing. Therefore his heart
sank and his face paled when an office boy told him that Mr. Malcolm wished
to see him.
"I suppose it's to tell me not to annoy him with any more of my attempts,"
he thought. "Well, anyway, I've had the benefit of the work. I'll try a
"Take a seat," said Mr. Malcolm with an absent nod. "Just a moment, if you
On a chair beside him was the remnant of what had been a huge up-piling of
newspapers--the exchanges that had come in during the past twenty-four
hours. The Exchange Editor had been through them and Mr. Malcolm was
reading "to feel the pulse of the country" and also to make sure that
nothing of importance had been overlooked.
On the floor were newspapers by the score, thrown about tumultuously. Mr.
Malcolm would seize a paper from the unread heap, whirl it open and send
his glance and his long pointed nose tearing down one column and up
another, and so from page to page. It took less than a minute for him to
finish and filing away great sixteen page dailies. A few seconds sufficed
for the smaller papers. Occasionally he took his long shears and with a
skilful twist cut out a piece from the middle of a page and laid it and the
shears upon the table with a single motion.
"Now, Mr. Howard." Malcolm sent the last paper to increase the chaos on the
floor and faced about in his revolving chair. "How would you like to come
Howard looked at him in amazement. "You mean----"
"We want you to join the editorial staff. Mr. Walker has married him a rich
wife and is going abroad to do literary work, which means that he is going
to do nothing. Will you come?"
"It is what I have been working for."
"And very hard you have worked." Mr. Malcolm's cold face relaxed into a
half-friendly, half-satirical smile. "After you'd been sending up articles
for a fortnight, I knew you'd make it. You went about it systematically. An
intelligent plan, persisted in, is hard to beat in this world of laggards
and hap-hazard strugglers."
"And I was on the point of giving up--that is, giving up this particular
ambition," Howard confessed.
"Yes, I saw it in your articles--a certain pessimism and despondency. You
show your feelings plainly, young man. It is an excellent quality--but
dangerous. A man ought to make his mind a machine working evenly without
regard to his feelings or physical condition. The night my oldest child
died--I was editor of a country newspaper--I wrote my leaders as usual. I
never had written better. You can be absolute master inside, if you will.
You can learn to use your feelings when they're helpful and to shut them
off when they hinder."
"But don't you think that temperament----"
"Temperament--that's one of the subtlest forms of self-excuse. However, the
place is yours. The salary is a hundred and twenty-five a week--an advance
of about twelve hundred a year, I believe, on your average downstairs. Can
you begin soon?"
"Immediately," said Howard, "if the City Editor is satisfied."
An office boy showed him to his room--a mere hole-in-the-wall with just
space for a table-desk, a small table, a case of shelves for books of
reference, and two chairs. The one window overlooked the lower end of
Manhattan Island--the forest of business buildings peaked with the
Titan-tenements of financial New York. Their big, white plumes of smoke and
steam were waving in the wind and reflecting in pale pink the crimson of
the setting sun.
Howard had his first taste of the intoxication of triumph, his first deep
inspiration of ambition. He recalled his arrival in New York, his timidity,
his dread lest he should be unable to make a living--"Poor boy," they used
to say at home, "he will have to be supported. He is too much of a
dreamer." He remembered his explorations of those now familiar streets--how
acutely conscious he had been that they were paved with stone, walled with
stone, roofed with a stony sky, peopled with faces and hearts of stone. How
miserably insignificant he had felt!
And all these years he had been almost content to be one of the crowd, like
them exerting himself barely enough to provide himself with the essentials
of existence. Like them, he had given no real thought to the morrow. And
now, with comparatively little labour, he had put himself in the way to
become a master, a director of the enormous concentrated energies summed up
in the magic word New York.
The key to the situation was--work, incessant, self-improving,
self-developing. "And it is the key to happiness also," he thought. "Work
and sleep--the two periods of unconsciousness of self--are the two periods
His aloofness freed him from the temptations of distraction. He knew no
women. He did not put himself in the way of meeting them. He kept away from
theatres. He sunk himself in a routine of labour which, viewed from the
outside, seemed dull and monotonous. Viewed from his stand-point of
acquisition, of achievement, it was just the reverse.
The mind soon adapts itself to and enjoys any mental routine which
exercises it. The only difficulty is in forming the habit of the routine.
Howard was greatly helped by his natural bent toward editorial writing. The
idea of discussing important questions each day with a vast multitude as an
audience stirred his imagination and aroused his instincts for helping on
the great world-task of elevating the race. This enthusiasm pleased and
also amused his cynical chief.
"You believe in things?" Malcolm said to him after they had become well
acquainted. "Well, it is an admirable quality--but dangerous. You will need
careful editing. Your best plan is to give yourself up to your belief while
you are writing--then to edit yourself in cold blood. That is the secret of
success, of great success in any line, business, politics, a
profession--enthusiasm, carefully revised and edited."
"It is difficult to be cold blooded when one is in earnest."
"True," Malcolm answered, "and there is the danger. My own enthusiasms are
confined to the important things--food, clothing and shelter. It seems to
me that the rest is largely a matter of taste, training and time of life.
But don't let me discourage you. I only suggest that you may have to guard
against believing so intensely that you produce the impression of being an
impracticable, a fanatic. Be cautious always; be especially cautious when
you are cocksure you're right. Unadulterated truth always arouses suspicion
in the unaccustomed public. It has the alarming tastelessness of distilled
Howard was acute enough to separate the wisdom from the cynicism of his
chief. He saw the lesson of moderation. "You have failed, my very able
chief," he said to himself, "because you have never believed intensely
enough to move you to act. You have attached too much importance to the
adulteration--the folly and the humbug. And here you are, still only a
critic, destructive but never constructive."
At first his associates were much amused by his intensity. But as he
learned to temper and train his enthusiasm they grew to respect both his
ability and his character. Before a year had passed they were feeling the
influence of his force--his trained, informed mind, made vigorous by
principles and ideals.
Malcolm had the keen appreciation of a broad mind for this honest,
intelligent energy. He used the editorial "blue-pencil" for alteration and
condensation with the hand of a master. He cut away Howard's crudities,
toned down and so increased his intensity, and pointed it with the irony
and satire necessary to make it carry far and penetrate easily.
Malcolm was at once giving Howard a reputation greater than he deserved and
training him to deserve it.
* * * * *
In the office next to Howard's sat Segur, a bachelor of forty-five who took
life as a good-humoured jest and amused his leisure with the New Yorkers
who devote a life of idleness to a nervous flight from boredom. Howard
interested Segur who resolved to try to draw him out of his seclusion.
"I'm having some people to dinner at the Waldorf on Thursday," he said,
looking in at the door. "Won't you join us?"
"I'd be glad to," replied Howard, casting about for an excuse for
declining. "But I'm afraid I'd ruin your dinner. I haven't been out for
years. I've been too busy to make friends or, rather, acquaintances."
"A great mistake. You ought to see more of people."
"Why? Can they tell me anything that I can't learn from newspapers or books
more accurately and without wasting so much time? I'd like to know the
interesting people and to see them in their interesting moments. But I
can't afford to hunt for them through the wilderness of nonentities and
wait for them to become interesting."
"But you get amusement, relaxation. Then too, it's first-hand study of
"I'm not sure of that. Yawning is not a very attractive kind of relaxation,
is it? And as for study of life, eight years of reporting gave me more of
that than I could assimilate. And it was study of realities, not of
pretenses. As I remember them, 'respectable' people are all about the same,
whether in their vices or in their virtues. They are cut from a few
familiar, 'old reliable' patterns. No, I don't think there is much to be
learned from respectability on dress parade."
"You'll be amused on Thursday. You must come. I'm counting on you."
Howard accepted--cordially as he could not refuse decently. Yet he had a
presentiment or a shyness or an impatience at the interruption of his
routine which reproached him for accepting with insistence and persistence.
THE ETERNAL MASCULINE.
It was the first week in November, and in those days "everybody" did not
stay in the country so late as now. There were many New Yorkers in the
crowd of out-of-town people at the Waldorf. Howard was attracted,
fascinated by the scene--carefully-groomed men and women, the air of gaiety
and ease, the flowers, the music, the lights, the perfumes. At a glance it
seemed a dream of life with evil and sorrow and pain banished.
"No place for a working man," thought he, "at least not for my kind of a
working man. It appeals too sharply to the instincts for laziness and
He was late and stood in the entrance to the palm-garden, looking about for
Segur. Soon he saw him waving from a table near the wall under the
"The oysters are just coming," said Segur. "Sit over there between Mrs.
Carnarvon and Miss Trevor. They are cousins, Howard, so be cautious what
you say to one about the other. Oh, here is Mr. Berersford."
The others knew each other well; Howard knew them only as he had seen their
names in the "fashionable intelligence" columns of the newspapers. Mrs.
Carnarvon was a small thin woman in a black velvet gown which made her
thinness obtrusive and attractive or the reverse according as one's taste
is toward or away from attenuation. Her eyes were a dull, greenish grey,
her skin brown and smooth and tough from much exposure in the hunting
field. Her cheeks were beginning to hang slightly, so that one said: "She
is pretty, but she will soon not be." Her mouth proclaimed strong
appetites--not unpleasantly since she was good-looking.
Miss Trevor was perhaps ten years younger than her cousin, not far from
twenty-four. She had a critical, almost amused yet not unpleasant way of
looking out of unusually clear blue-green eyes. Her hair was of an ordinary
shade of dark brown, but fine and thick and admirably arranged to set off
her long, sensitive, high bred features. Her chin and mouth expressed
decision and strong emotions.
There was a vacant chair between Segur and Berersford and it was presently
filled by a fat, middle-aged woman, neither blonde nor brunette, with a
large, serene face. Upon it was written a frank confession that she had
never in her life had an original thought capable of creating a ripple of
interest. She was Mrs. Sidney, rich, of an "old" family--in the New York
meaning of the word "old"--both by marriage and by birth, much courted
because of her position and because she entertained a great deal both in
town and at a large and hospitable country house.
The conversation was lively and amused, or seemed to amuse, all. It was
purely personal--about Kittie and Nellie and Jim and Peggie and Amy and
Bob; about the sayings and doings of a few dozen people who constituted the
intimates of these five persons.
Mrs. Carnarvon turned to the silent Howard at last and began about the
"Horrible in the city, isn't it?"
"Well, perhaps it is," replied Howard. "But I fancied it delightful. You
see I have not lived anywhere but New York for so long that I am hardly
capable to judge."
"Why everybody says we have the worst climate in the world."
"Far be it from me to contradict everybody. But for me New York has the
ideal climate. Isn't it the best of any great city in the world? You see,
we have the air of the sea in our streets. And when the sun shines, which
it does more days in the year than in any other great city, the effect is
like champagne--or rather, like the effect champagne looks as if it ought
"I hate champagne," said Mrs. Carnarvon. "Marian, you must not drink it;
you know you mustn't." This to Miss Trevor who was lifting the glass to her
lips. She drank a little of the champagne, then set the glass down slowly.
"What you said made me want to drink it," she said to Howard. "I was glad
to hear your lecture on the weather. I had never thought of it before, but
New York really has a fine climate. And only this afternoon I let that
stupid Englishman--Plymouth--you've met him? No?--Well, at any rate, he was
denouncing our climate and for the moment I forgot about London."
"Frightful there, isn't it, after October and until May?"
"Yes, and the air is usually stale even in the late spring. When it's warm,
it's sticky. And when it's cold, it's raw."
"You are a New Yorker?"
"Yes," said Miss Trevor faintly, and for an instant showing surprise at his
ignorance. "That is, I spend part of the winter here--like all New
"Oh, all except those who don't count, or rather, who merely count."
"How do you mean?" Howard was taking advantage of her looking into her
plate to smile with a suggestion of irony. She happened to glance up and so
"Oh," she said, smiling with frank irony at him, "I mean all those
people--the masses, I think they're called--the people who have to be
fussed over and reformed and who keep shops and--and all that."
"The people who work, you mean?"
"No, I mean the people you never meet about anywhere, the people who read
the newspapers and come to the basement door."
"Oh, yes, I understand." Howard was laughing. "Well, that's one way of
looking at life. Of course it's not my way."
"What is your way?"
"Why, being one of those who count only in the census, I naturally take a
view rather different from yours. Now I should say that _your_ people
don't count. You see, I am most deeply interested in people who read
"Oh, you write for the papers, like Jim Segur? What do you write?"
"What they call editorials."
"You are an editor?"
"Yes and no. I am one of the editors who does not edit but is edited."
"It must be interesting," said Miss Trevor, vaguely.
"More interesting than you imagine. But then all work is that. In fact work
is the only permanently interesting thing in life. The rest produces
dissatisfaction and regret."
"Oh, I'm not so very dissatisfied. Yet I don't work."
"Are you quite sure? Think how hard you work at being fitted for gowns, at
going about to dinners and balls and the like, at chasing foxes and anise
seed bags and golf balls."
"But that is not work. It is amusing myself."
"Yes, you think so. But you forget that you are doing it in order that all
these people who don't count may read about it in the papers and so get a
little harmless relaxation."
"But we don't do it to get into the papers."
"Probably not. Neither did this--what is it here in my plate, a lamb
chop?--this lamb gambol about and keep itself in condition to form a course
at Segur's dinner. But after all, wasn't that what it was really for? Then
think how many people you support by your work."
"You make me feel like a day-labourer."
"Oh, you're a much harder worker than any day labourer. And the saddest
part of it to me is that you work altogether for others. You give, give and
get in return nothing but a few flattering glances, a few careless pats on
the back of your vanity. I should hate to work so hard for so little."
"But what would you do?" Miss Trevor was looking at him, interested and
"Well, I'd work for myself. I'd insist on a return, on getting back
something equivalent or near it. I'd insist on having my mind improved, or
having my power or my reputation advanced."
"I was only jesting when I said that about people not counting."
"No, not altogether. I don't care much about the masses. They seem to me to
be underbred, of a different sort. I hate doing things that are useful and
I hate people that do useful things--in a general way, I mean."
"That is doubtless due to defective education," said Howard, with a smile
that carried off the thrust as a jest.
"Is that the way you'd describe a horror of contact with--well, with
unpleasant things?" Miss Trevor was serious.
"But is it that? Isn't it just an unconscious affectation, taken up simply
because all the people about you think that way--if one can call the
process thinking? You don't think, do you, that it is a sign of superiority
to be narrow, to be ignorant, to be out of touch with the great masses of
one's fellow-beings, to play the part of a harlequin or a ballet-girl on
the stage of life? I understand how a stupid ass can fritter away his one
chance to live in saying and hearing and doing silly things. But ought not
an intelligent person try to enjoy life, try to get something substantial
out of it, try to possess himself of its ideas and emotions? Why should one
play the fool simply because those about one are incapable of playing any
"I'm surprised that you are here to-night. Still, I suppose you'll give
yourself absolution on the plea that one must dine somewhere."
"But I'm not wasting my time. I'm learning. I'm observing a phase of life.
And I'm seeing the latest styles in women's gowns and--"
"Is that important--styles, I mean?"
"Do you suppose that my kind of people, the working classes, would spend so
much time and thought in making anything that was not important? There is
nothing more important."
"Then you don't think we women are wasting time when we talk about dress so
"On the contrary, it is an evidence of your superior sagacity. Women talk
trade, 'shop,' as soon as they get away from the men. They talk men and
dress--fish and nets."
Berersford heard the word fish and interrupted.
"Do you go South next month, Marian?"
"Yes--about the fifteenth." Miss Trevor explained to Howard: "Bobby--Mr.
Berersford here--always fishes in Florida in January."
The conversation again became general and personal. Howard knew none of the
people of whom they were talking and all that they said was of the nature
of gossip. But they talked in a sparkling way, using good English, speaking
in agreeable voices with a correct accent, and indulging in a great deal of
As they separated Mrs. Sidney, to whom Howard had not spoken during the
evening, said to Segur: "You must bring Mr. Howard on Sunday afternoon."
"Will you drop Marian at the house for me?" Mrs. Carnarvon asked her. "I
want to go on to Edith's."
Segur went with Mrs. Sidney and Marian to their carriage. "Who is Mr.
Howard?" Mrs. Sidney said, and Miss Trevor drew nearer to hear the answer.
"One of the editorial writers down on the paper and a very clever one--none
better. He works hard and is desperately serious and a regular hermit."
"I think he's very handsome--don't you, Marian?"
"I found him interesting," said Miss Trevor.
Howard thought a great deal about Miss Trevor that night, and she was still
in his head the next day. "This comes of never seeing women," he said to
himself. "The first girl I meet seems the most beautiful I ever saw, and
the most intellectual. And, when I think it over, what did she say that was
Nevertheless he went with Segur the next Sunday to Mrs. Sidney's great
house in the upper Avenue overlooking the Park.
"Why do I come here?" he asked himself. "It is a sheer waste of time. Mrs.
Sidney can do me no good, or I her. It must be the hope of seeing Miss
When the gaudy and be-powdered flunkey held back the heavy curtains of the
salon to announce him and Segur, he saw Miss Trevor on a low chair absently
staring into the fire. Yet when he had spoken to Mrs. Sidney and turned
toward her she at once stretched out her hand with a slight smile. Some
others came in and Howard was free to talk to her. He sat looking at her
steadily, admiring her almost perfect profile, delicate yet strong.
"And what have you been doing since I saw you?" Miss Trevor asked.
"Writing little pieces about politics for the paper," replied Howard.
"Politics? I detest it. It is all stealing and calling names, isn't it? And
something dreadful is always going to happen if somebody or other isn't
elected, or is elected, to something or other. And then, whether he is or
not, nothing happens. I should think the men who have been so excited and
angry and alarmed would feel very cheap. But they don't. And the next time
they carry on in just the same ridiculous way."
"Politics is like everything else--interesting if you understand what it is
all about. But like everything else, you can't understand it without a
little study at first. It's a pity women don't take an interest. If they
did the men might become more reasonable and sane about it than they are
now. But you--what have you been doing?"
"I--oh, industriously superintending the making of my new nets." Marian
laughed and Howard was flattered. "And also, well, riding in the Park every
morning. But I never do anything interesting. I simply drift."
"That's so much simpler and more satisfactory than threshing and splashing
about as I do. It seems so fussy and foolish and futile. I wish--that is,
sometimes I wish--that I had learned to amuse myself in some less violent
and exhausting way."
"Marian--I say, Marian," called Mrs. Sidney. "Has Teddy come down?"
Miss Trevor coloured slightly as she answered: "No, he comes a week
Wednesday. He's still hunting."
"Hunting," Howard repeated when Mrs. Sidney was again busy with the others.
"Now there is a kind of work that never bothers a man's brains or sets him
to worrying. I wish I knew how to amuse myself in some such way."
"You should go about more."
"To see people."
"But I do see a great many people. I'm always seeing them--all day long."
"Yes--but that is in a serious way. I mean go where you will be amused--to
dinners for instance."
"I don't dare. I can't work at work and also work at play. I must work at
one or the other all the time. I can do nothing without a definite object.
I can't be just a little interested in anything or anybody. With me it is
no interest at all or else absorption until interest is exhausted."
"Then if you were interested in a woman, let us say, you'd be absorbed
until you found out all there was, and then you'd--take to your heels."
"But she might always be new. She might interest me more and more. Anyhow I
fancy that she would weary of me long before I wearied of her. I think
women usually weary first. Men are very monotonous. We are as vain as
women, if not vainer, without their capacity for concealing it. And vanity
makes one think he does not need to exert himself to please."
"But why do people usually say that it is the men that are difficult to
"Because the men hold the women, not through the kind of interest we are
talking about, but through another kind--quite different. Women are so lazy
and so dependent--dependent upon men for homes, for money, for escort
Miss Trevor was flushing, as if the fire were too hot--at least she moved a
little farther away from it. "Your ideal woman would be a shop-girl, I
should say from what you've told me."
"Perhaps--in the abstract. I really do think that if I were going to marry,
I should look about for a working-girl, a girl that supported herself. How
can a man be certain of the love of a woman who is dependent upon him? I
should be afraid she was only tolerating me as a labour-saving device."
Miss Trevor laughed. "There certainly is no vanity in that remark," she
said. "Now I can't imagine most of the men I know thinking that."
"It's only theory with me. In practice doubtless I should be as
self-complacent as any other man."
They left Mrs. Sidney's together and Howard walked down the Avenue with
her. It seemed a wonderful afternoon--the air dazzling, intoxicating. He
was filled with the joy of living and was glad this particular tall,
slender, distinguished-looking girl was there to make his enjoyment
perfect. They were gay with the delight of being young and in health and
attractive physically and mentally each to the other. They looked each at
the other a great deal, and more and more frankly.
"Am I never to see you again?" he asked as he rang the bell for her.
"I believe Mrs. Carnarvon is going to invite you to dine here Thursday
"Thank you," said Howard.
Miss Trevor coloured. But she met his glance boldly and laughed. Howard
wondered why her laugh was defiant, almost reckless.
* * * * *
He saw Segur at the club after dinner that same night. "And how do you like
Miss Trevor?" Segur began as the whiskey and carbonic were set before them.
"A very attractive girl," said Howard.
"Yes--so a good many men have thought in the last five years. She's
marrying Teddy Danvers in the spring, I believe. At any rate it's generally
looked on as settled. Teddy's a good deal of a 'chump.' But he's a decent
fellow--good-looking, good-natured, domestic in his tastes, and nothing but
Howard was smiling to himself. He understood Miss Trevor's sudden
consciousness of the nearness of the fire, her flush when Mrs. Sidney asked
about "Teddy," and the recklessness in her parting laugh.
"Well, Teddy's in luck," he said aloud.
"Not so sure of that. She's quite capable of leading him a dance if he
bores her. And bore her he will. But that is nothing new. This town is full
"Full of what?"
"Of weary women--weary wives. The men are hobby-riders. They have just one
interest and that usually small and dull--stocks or iron or real estate or
hunting or automobiles. Our women are not like the English women--stupid,
sodden. They are alive, acute. They wish to be interested. Their husbands
bore them. So--well, what is the natural temptation to a lazy woman in
search of an interest?"
"It's like Paris--like France?"
"Yes, something. Except that perhaps our women are more sentimental, not
fond of intrigue for its own sake--at least, not as a rule."
"Doesn't interest them deeply enough, I suppose. It's the American blood
coming out--the passion for achievement. They want a man of whom they can
be proud, a man who is doing something interesting and doing it well."
"I doubt that," replied Segur shrugging his shoulders. "When a woman loves
a man, she wants to absorb him."
Howard soon went away to his rooms for a long evening of undisturbed
thought about Teddy Danvers's fiancee--the first temptation that had
entered his loneliness since Alice died.
In the few weeks of her illness and the few months immediately following
her death, he had been at his very best. He was able to see her as she was
and to appreciate her. He was living in the clear pure air of the Valley of
the Great Shadow where all things appear in their true relations and true
proportions. But only there was it possible for the gap between him and
Alice to close--that gap of which she was more acutely conscious than he,
and which she made wider far than it really was by being too humble with
him, too obviously on her knees before him. Such superiority as she thought
he possessed is not in human nature; but neither is it in human nature to
refuse worship, to refuse to pose upon a pedestal if the opportunity
In the three years between her death and his meeting Marian, the eternal
masculine had been secretly gaining strength to resume its pursuit of the
eternal feminine. And the eternal feminine was certainly most alluringly
personified in this beautiful, graceful girl, at once appreciative and
worthy of appreciation.
Perhaps she appealed most strongly to Howard in her vivid suggestion of the
open air--of health and strength and nature. He had been leading a
cloistered existence and his blood had grown sluggish. She gave him the
sensation that a prisoner gets when he catches a glimpse from his barred
window of the fields and the streams radiating the joy of life and freedom.
And Marian was of his own kind--like the women among whom he had been
brought up. She satisfied his idea of what a "lady" should be, but at the
same time she was none the less a woman to him--a woman to love and to be
loved; to give him sympathy, companionship; to inspire him to overcome his
weaknesses by striving to be worthy of her; to bring into his life that
feminine charm without which a man's life must be cold and cheerless.
He knew that he could not marry her, that he had no right to make love to
her, that it was unwise to go near her again. But he had no power to resist
the temptation. And even in those days he had small regard for the means
when the end was one upon which he had fixed his mind. "Why not take what I
can get?" he thought, as he dreamed of her. "She's engaged--her future
practically settled. Yes, I'll be as happy as she'll let me." And he
resumed his idealising.
At his time of life idealisation is still not a difficult or a long
process. And in this case there was an ample physical basis for it--and far
more of a mental basis than young imagination demands. He took the draught
she so frankly offered him; he added a love potion of his own concocting,
and drank it off.
He was in love.
For the first time since he had been in newspaper work, Howard came to the
office the next day in a long coat and a top hat. He left early and went
for a walk in the Avenue. But Miss Trevor was neither driving nor walking.
He repeated this excursion the next afternoon with better success. At
Fortieth Street he saw her and her cousin half a block ahead of him. He
walked slowly and examined her. She was satisfactory from the aigrette in
her hat to her heels--a long, narrow, graceful figure, dressed with the
expensive simplicity characteristic of the most intelligent class of the
women of New York and Paris. She walked as if she were accustomed to
walking. Mrs. Carnarvon had that slight hesitation, almost stumble, which
indicates the woman who usually drives and never walks if she can avoid it.
As they paused at the crowded crossing of Forty-second Street he joined
them. When Mrs. Carnarvon found that he was "just out for the air" she left
them, to go home--in Forty-seventh Street, a few doors east of the Avenue.
"Come back to tea with her," she said as she nodded to Howard.
"We have at least an hour." Howard was looking at Miss Trevor with his
happiness dancing in his eyes. "Why shouldn't we go to the Park?"
"I believe it's not customary," objected Miss Trevor in a tone that made
the walk in the Park a certainty.
"I'm glad to hear that. I don't care to do customary things as a rule."
"I see that you don't."
"Do you say so because I show what I am thinking so plainly that you can't
help seeing it--and don't in the least mind?"
"Why shouldn't you be glad to be alive and to be seeing me this fine winter
"Why indeed!" Howard looked at her from head to foot and then into her
"We are not in the Park yet." Miss Trevor accompanied her hint with a laugh
and added: "I feel reckless to-day."
"You mean you forget that there is any to-morrow. _I_ have shut out
to-morrow ever since I saw you."
"And yesterday?" She noted that he coloured slightly, but continued to look
at her, his eyes sad. "But there is a to-morrow," she went on.
"Yes--my work, my career is my to-morrow and yours is----"
"Your engagement, of course."
Miss Trevor flushed, but Howard was smiling and she did not long resist the
"My to-morrow," he continued, "is far more menacing than yours. Yours is
just an ordinary, every-day, cut-and-dried affair. Mine is full of doubts
and uncertainties with the chances for failure and disappointment. If I can
turn my back on my to-morrow, surely you can waive yours for the moment?"
"But why are you so certain that I wish to?"
"Instinct. I could not be so happy as I am with you if you were not content
to have me here."
They spoke little until they were well within the Park. There they turned
down a by-path and took the walk skirting the lower lake. Miss Trevor
looked at Howard with a puzzled expression.
"I never met any one like you," she said. "I have always felt so sure of
myself. You take me off my feet. I feel as if I did not know where I was
going and--didn't much care. And that's the worst of it."
"No, the best of it. You are a star going comfortably through your universe
in a fixed orbit. You maintain your exact relations with your brother and
sister stars. You keep all your engagements, you never wobble in your
path--everything exact, mathematical. And up darts a wild-haired, impetuous
comet, a hurrying, bustling, irregular wanderer coming from you don't know
where, going you don't know whither. We pass very near each to the other.
The social astronomers may or may not note a little variation in your
movement--a very little, and soon over. They probably will not note the
insignificant meteor that darted close up to you--close enough to get his
poor face sadly scorched and his long hair cruelly singed--and then hurried
sadly away. And----"
"And--what? Isn't there any more to the story?" Marian's eyes were shining
with a light which she was conscious had never been there before.
"And--and----" Howard stopped and faced her. His hands were thrust deep in
the pockets of his overcoat. He looked at her in a way that made the colour
fly from her face and then leap back again. "And--I love you."
"Oh"--Marian said, hiding her face in her white muff. "Oh."
"I don't wish to touch you," he went on, "I just wish to look at you--so
tall, so straight, so--so alive, and to love you and be happy." Then he
laughed and turned. "But you'll catch cold. Let us walk on."
"So you are trying to make a career?" she asked after a few minutes'
"Yes--trying--or, rather, I was. And shall again when you have gone your
way and I mine."
Marian was amazed at herself. Every tradition, every instinct of her life
was being trampled by this unknown whom she had just met. And she was
assisting in the trampling. In fact it was difficult for her to restrain
herself from leading in the iconoclasm. She looked at him in wonder and
"Why do you look at me in that way?" he said, turning his head suddenly.
"Because you are stronger than I--and I am afraid--yet I--well--I like it."
"It is not I that is stronger than you, nor you that are stronger than I.
It is a third that is stronger than both of us. I need not mention the
"It is not necessary. But I'd like to hear you pronounce it. At least I did
a moment ago."
"I'll not risk repetition. I've been thinking of what might have been."
"What?" Marian laughed a little, rather satirically. "A commonplace
engagement and a commonplace wedding and a commonplace honeymoon leading
into a land of commonplace disillusion and yawning--or worse?"
"Not unlikely. But since we're only dreaming why not dream more to our
taste? Now as I look at your strong, clear, ambitious profile, I can dream
of a career made by two working as one, working cheerfully day in and day
out, fair and foul weather, working with the certainty of success as the
"But failure might come."
"It couldn't. We wouldn't work for fame or for riches or for any outside
thing. We would work to make ourselves wiser and better and more worthy
each of the other and both of our great love."
Again they were walking in silence.
"I am so sad," Marian said at last. "But I am so happy too. What has come
over me? But--you will work on, won't you? And you will accomplish
everything. Yes, I am sure you will."
"Oh, I'll work--in my own way. And I'll get a good deal of what I want. But
not everything. You say you can't understand yourself. No more can I
understand myself. I thought my purpose fixed. I knew that I had nothing to
do with marrying and giving in marriage, so I kept away from danger. And
here, as miraculously as if a thunderbolt had dropped from this open winter
sky, here is--you."
They were in the Avenue again--"the awakening," Howard said as the flood of
carriages rolled about them.
"You will win," she repeated, when they were almost at Forty-seventh
Street. "You will be famous."
"Probably not. The price for fame may be too big."
"The price? But you are willing to work?"
"Work--yes. But not to lie, not to cheat, not to exchange self-respect for
self-contempt--at least, I think, I hope not."
"But why should that be necessary?"
"It may not be if I am free--free to meet every situation as it arises,
with no responsibility for others resting upon me in the decision. If I had
a wife, how could I be free? I might be forced to sell myself--not for fame
but for a bare living. Suppose choice between freedom with poverty and
comfort with self-contempt were put squarely at me, and I a married man.
She would decide, wouldn't she?"
"Yes, and if she were the right sort of a woman, decide instantly for
"Of course--if I asked her. But do you imagine that when a man loves a
woman he lets her know?"
"It would be a crime not to let her know."
"It would be a greater crime to put her to the test--if she were a woman
brought up, say, as you have been."
"How can you say that? How can you so overestimate the value of mere
"How can I? Because I have known poverty--have known what it was to look
want in the face. Because I have seen women, brought up as you have been,
crawling miserably about in the sloughs of poverty. Because I have seen the
weaknesses of human nature and know that they exist in me--yes, and in you,
for all your standing there so strong and arrogant and self-reliant. It is
easy to talk of misery when one does not understand it. It is easy to be
the martyr of an hour or a day. But to drag into a sordid and squalid
martyrdom the woman one loves--well, the man does not live who would do it,
if he knew what I know, had seen what I have seen. No, love is a luxury of
the rich and the poor and the steady-going. It is not for my kind, not for
They were pausing at Mrs. Carnarvon's door.
"I shall not come in this afternoon," he said. "But to-morrow--if I don't
come in to-day, don't you think it will be all right for me to come then?"
"I shall expect you," she said.
The talk of those who had come in for tea seemed artificial and flat. She
soon went up-stairs, eager to be alone. Mechanically she went to her desk
to write her customary daily letter to Danvers. She looked vacantly at the
pen and paper, and then she remembered why she was sitting there.
"You are a traitor," she said to her reflection in the mirror over the
desk. "But you will pay for your treason. Has not one a right to that for
which she is willing to pay?"
MAKING THE MOST OF A MONTH.
To be sure of a woman a man must be confident either of his own powers or
of her absolute frankness and honesty. It was self-assurance that made
Edward Danvers blindly confident of Marian.
His father, a man with none but selfish uses for his fellow men, had given
him a pains-taking training as a vigilant guard for a great fortune. His
favourite maxim was, "Always look for motives." And he once summed up his
own character and idea of life by saying: "I often wake at night and laugh
as I think how many men are lying awake in their beds, scheming to get
something out of me for nothing."
There could be but one result of such an education by such an educator.
Danvers was acutely suspicious, saved from cynicism and misanthropy by his
vanity only. He was the familiar combination of credulity and incredulity,
now trusting not at all and again trusting with an utter incapacity to
judge. Had he been far more attractive personally, he might still have
failed to find genuine affection. To be liked for one's self alone or even
chiefly is rarely the lot of any human being who has a possession that is
all but universally coveted--wealth or position or power or beauty.
Danvers and Marian had known each the other from childhood. And she perhaps
came nearer to liking him for himself than did any one else of his
acquaintance. She was used to his conceit, his selfishness, his meanness
and smallness in suspicion, his arrogance, his narrow-mindedness. She knew
his good qualities--his kindness of heart, his shamed-face generosity, his
honesty, the strong if limited sense of justice which made him a good
employer and a good landlord. They had much in common--the same companions,
the same idea of the agreeable and the proper, the same passion for
out-door life, especially for hunting. He fell in love with her when she
came back from two years in England and France, and she thought that she
was in love with him. She undoubtedly was fond of him, proud of his
handsome, athletic look and bearing, proud of his skill and daring in the
One day--it was in the autumn a year before Howard met her--they were "in
at the death" together after a run across a stiff country that included
several dangerous jumps. "You're the only one that can keep up with me," he
said, admiring her glowing face and star-like eyes, her graceful, assured
seat on a hunter that no one else either cared or dared to ride.
"You mean you are the only one who can keep up with _me,_" she
laughed, preparing for what his face warned her was coming.
"No I don't, Marian dear. I mean that we ought to go right on keeping up
with each other. You won't say no, will you?"
Marian was liking him that day--he was looking his best. She particularly
liked his expression as he proposed to her. She had intended to pretend to
refuse him; instead her colour rose and she said: "No--which means yes.
Everybody expects it of us, Teddy. So I suppose we mustn't disappoint
The fact that "everybody" did expect it, the fact that he was the great
"catch" in their set, with his two hundred and fifty thousand a year, his
good looks and his good character--these were her real reasons, with the
first dominant. But she did not admit it to herself then. At twenty-four
even the mercenary instinct tricks itself out in a most deceptive romantic
disguise if there is the ghost of an opportunity. Besides, there was no
reason, and no sign of an approaching reason, for the shadow of a suspicion
that life with Teddy Danvers would not be full of all that she and her
friends regarded as happiness.
But she would not marry immediately. She was tenacious of her freedom. She
was restless, dissatisfied with herself and not elated by her prospects.
She had an excellent mind, reasonable, appreciative, ambitious. Until she
"came out" she had spent much time among books; but as she had had no
capable director of her reading, she got from it only a vague sense, that
there was somewhere something in the way of achievement which she might
possibly like to attain if she knew what it was or where to look for it. As
she became settled in her place in the routine of social life, as her
horizon narrowed to the conventional ideas of her set, this sense of
possible and attractive achievement became vaguer. But her restlessness did
"I never saw such an ungrateful girl," was Mrs. Carnarvon's comment upon
one of Marian's outbursts of almost peevish fretting. "What do you want?"
"That's just it," exclaimed Marian, half-laughing. "What _do_ I want?
I look all about me and I can't see it. Yet I know that there must be
something. I think I ought to have been a man. Sometimes I feel like
running away--away off somewhere. I feel as if I were getting second-bests,
paste substitutes for the real jewels. I feel as I did when I was a child
and demanded the moon. They gave me a little gilt crescent and said: 'Here
is a nice little moon for baby;' and it made me furious."
Mrs. Carnarvon looked irritated. "I don't understand it. You are getting
the best of everything. Of course you can't expect to be happy. I don't
suppose that any one is happy. But all the solid things of life are yours,
and you can and should be comfortable and contented."
"That's just it," answered Marian indignantly. "I have always been swaddled
in cotton wool. I have never been allowed really to feel. I think it is the
spirit of revolt in me. Yes, I ought to have been a man. I'm sure that then
I could have made life a little less tiresome."
It was this dissatisfaction that postponed the announcement of the
engagement from month to month until a year had slipped away.
Instead of coming to New York, Danvers went off to Montana for a
mountain-lion hunt with two Englishmen who had been staying with him in
"The Valley." He would join Marian for the trip South, the engagement would
be announced, and the wedding would be in May--such was the arrangement
which Marian succeeded in making. It settled everything and at the same
time it gave her a month of freedom in New York. She hinted enough of this
programme to Howard to enable him to grasp its essential points.
"A month's holiday," was his comment. They were alone on the second seat of
George Browning's coach, driving through the Park. "If we were like those
people"--he was looking at a young man and young woman, side by side upon a
Park bench, blue with cold but absorbed in themselves and obviously
ecstatic. Marian glanced at them with slightly supercilious amusement and
became so interested that she turned her head to follow them with her eyes
after the coach had passed.
"Is he kissing her?" asked Howard.
"No--not yet. But I'm sure he will as soon as we have turned the corner."
She said nothing for a moment or two, her glance straight ahead and upon
vacancy, he admiring the curve of her cheek at the edge of its effective
framing of fur.
"But we are not----" She spoke in a low tone, regretful, pensive, almost
sad. "We are not like them."
"Oh, yes we are. But--we fancy we are not. We've sold our birthright, our
freedom, our independence for--for----"
"Baubles--childish toys--vanities--shadows. Doesn't it show what ridiculous
little creatures we human beings are that we regard the most valueless
things as of the highest value, and think least of the true valuables. For,
tell me, Lady-Whom-I-Love, what is most valuable in the few minutes of this
little journey among the stars on the good ship Mother Earth?"
"But you would not care always as you care now? It would not, could not,
last. If we--if we were like those people on the bench back there, we'd go
on and--and spoil it all."
"Perhaps--who can say? But in some circumstances couldn't I make you just
as happy as--as some one else could?"
"Not if you had made me infinitely happier at one time than even you could
hope to make me all the time. At least I think not. It would always be--be
racing against a record; we both would be, wouldn't we?"
Howard looked at her with an expression which transfigured his face and
sent the colour flaming to her cheeks. "That being the case," he said, "let
us--let us make the record one that will not be forgotten--soon."
During the month he saw her almost every day. She was most ingenious in
arranging these meetings. They were together afternoons and evenings. They
were often alone. Yet she was careful not to violate any convention, always
to keep, or seem to be keeping, one foot "on the line." Howard threw
himself into his infatuation with all his power of concentration He
practically took a month's holiday from the office. He thought about her
incessantly. He used all his skill with words in making love to her. And
she abandoned herself to an equal infatuation with equal absorption.
Neither of them spoke of the past or the future. They lived in the present,
talked of the present.
One day she spoke of herself as an orphan.
"I did not know that," he said. "But then what do I know about you in
relation to the rest of the world? To me you are an isolated act of
"You must tell me about yourself." She was looking at him, surprised. "Why,
I know nothing at all about you."
"Oh, yes, you do. You know all that there is to know--all that is
"What?" She was asking for the pleasure of hearing him say it.
"That I love you--you--all of you--all of you, with all of me."
Her eyes answered for her lips, which only said smilingly: "No, we haven't
time to get acquainted--at least not to-day."
* * * * *
She was to start for Florida at ten the next morning. Mrs. Carnarvon was
going away to the opera, giving them the last evening alone. Marian had
asked this of her point-blank.
"You are an extraordinarily sensible as well as strong-willed girl,
Marian," Mrs. Carnarvon replied.
"I can't find it in my heart to blame you for what you're doing. The fact
that I haven't even hinted a protest, but have lent myself to your little
plots, shows that that young man has hypnotized me also."
"You needn't disturb yourself, as you know," Marian said gaily. "I'm not
hypnotized. I shall not see Mr. Howard again until--after it's all over.
Perhaps not then."
He came to dinner and they were not alone until almost nine. She sat near
the open fire among the cushions heaped high upon the little sofa. She had
never been more beautiful, and apparently never in a happier mood. They
both laughed and talked as if it were the first instead of the last day of
their month. Neither spoke of the parting; each avoided all subjects that
pointed in direction of the one subject of which both thought whenever
their minds left the immediate present. As the little clock on the mantle
began to intimate in a faint, polite voice the quarter before eleven, he
said abruptly, almost brusquely:
"I feel like a coward, giving you up in this way. Yes--giving you up; for
you have a traitor in your fortress who has offered me the keys, who offers
them to me now. But I do not trust you; and I can't trust myself. The curse
of luxury is on you, the curse of ambition on me. If we had found each the
other younger; if I had lived less alone, more in the ordinary habit of
dependence upon others; if you had been brought up to live instead of to
have all the machinery of living provided and conducted for you--well, it
might have been different."
"You are wrong as to me, right as to yourself. But yours is not the curse
of ambition. It is the passion for freedom. It would be madness for you,
thinking as you do, even if you could--and you can't."
He stood up and held out his hand. She did not rise or look at him.
"Good night," she said at last, putting her hand in his. "Of course I am
thinking I shall see you tomorrow. One does not come out of such a dream,"
--she looked up at him smiling--"all in a moment."
"Good night," he smiled back at her. "I shall not open 'the fiddler's bill'
until--until I have to." At the door he turned. She had risen and was
kneeling on the sofa, her elbow on its low arm, her chin upon her hand, her
eyes staring into the fire. He came toward her.
"May I kiss you?" he said.
"Yes." Her voice was expressionless.
He bent over and just touched his lips to the back of her neck at the edge
of her hair. He thought that she trembled slightly, but her face was set
and she did not look toward him. He turned and left her. Half an hour later
she heard the bell ring--it was Mrs. Carnarvon. She wished to see no one,
so she fled through the rear door of the reception room and up the great
stairway to lock herself in her boudoir. She sank slowly upon the lounge in
front of the fire and closed her eyes. The fire died out and the room grew
cold. A warning chilliness made her rise to get ready for bed.
"No," she said aloud. "It isn't ambition and it isn't lack of love. It's a
queer sort of cowardice; but it's cowardice for all that. He's a coward or
he wouldn't have given up. But--I wonder--how am I going to live without
him? I need him--more than he needs me, I'm afraid."
She was standing before her dressing table. On it was a picture of
Danvers--handsome, self-satisfied, healthy, unintellectual. She looked at
it, gave a little shiver, and with the end of her comb toppled it over upon
RECKONING WITH DANVERS.
On that journey south Marian for the first time studied Danvers as a
husband in prospect.
The morning after they left New York, their private car arrived at
Savannah. At dark the night before they were rushing through a snow storm
raging in a wintry landscape. Now they were looking out upon spring from
the open windows. As soon as the train stopped, all except Marian and
Danvers left the car to walk up and down the platform. Danvers, standing
behind Marian, looked around to make sure that none of the servants was
about, then rubbed his hand caressingly and familiarly upon her cheek.
"Did you miss me?" he asked.
Marian could not prevent her head from shrinking from his touch.
"There's nobody about," Danvers said, reassuringly. But he acted upon the
hint and, taking his hand away, came around and sat beside her.
"Did you miss me?" he repeated, looking at her with an expression in his
frank, manly blue eyes that made her flush at the thought of "treason" past
and to come.
"Did _you_ miss _me_?" she evaded.
"I would have returned long ago if I had not been ashamed," he answered,
smiling. "I never thought that I should come not to care for as good
shooting as that. You almost cost me my life."
"Yes?" Marian spoke absently. She was absorbed in her mental comparison of
the two men.
"I got away from the others and was looking at your picture. They started
up a lion and he came straight at me from behind. If he hadn't made a
misstep in his hurry and loosened a stone, I guess he would have got me. As
it was, I got him."
"You mean your gun got him."
"Of course. You don't suppose I tackled him bare-handed."
"It might have been fairer. I don't see how you can boast of having killed
a creature that never bothered you, that you had to go thousands of miles
out of your way to find, and that you attacked with a gun, giving him no
chance to escape."
"What nonsense!" laughed Danvers. "I never expected to hear you say
anything like that. Who's been putting such stuff into your head?"
Marian coloured. She did not like his tone. She resented the suggestion of
the truth that her speech was borrowed. It made her uncomfortable to find
herself thus unexpectedly on the dangerous ground.
"I suppose it must have been that newspaper fellow Mrs. Carnarvon has taken
up. She talked about him for an hour after you left us to go to bed last
"Yes, it was--was Mr. Howard." Marian had recovered herself. "I want you to
meet him some time. You'll like him, I'm sure."
"I doubt it. Mrs. Carnarvon seemed not to know much about him. I suppose
he's more or less of an adventurer."
Marian wondered if this obvious dislike was the result of one of those
strange instincts that sometimes enable men to scent danger before any sign
of it appears.
"Perhaps he is an adventurer," she replied. "I'm sure I don't know. Why
should one bother to find out about a passing acquaintance? It is enough to
know that he is amusing."
"I'm not so sure of that. He might make off with the jewels when you had
your back turned."
As soon as she had made her jesting denial of her real lover Marian was
ashamed of herself. And Danvers' remark, though a jest, cut her. "What I
said about a passing acquaintance was not just or true," she said
impulsively and too warmly. "Mr. Howard is not an adventurer. I admire and
like him very much indeed. I'm proud of his friendship."
Danvers shrugged his shoulders and looked at her suspiciously.
"You saw a good deal of this--this friend of yours?" he demanded, his mouth
straightening into a dictatorial line.
At this Marian grew haughty and her eyes flashed: "Why do you ask?" she
inquired, her tone dangerously calm.
"Because I have the right to know." He pointed to the diamond on her third
"Oh--that is soon settled." Marian drew off the ring and held it out to
him. "Really, Teddy, I think you ought to have waited a little longer
before insisting so fiercely on your rights."
"Don't be absurd, Marian." Danvers did not take the ring but fixed his eyes
upon her face and changed his tone to friendly remonstrance. "You know the
ring doesn't mean anything. It's your promise that counts. And honestly
don't you think your promise does give me the right to ask you about your
new friends when you speak of them, of one of them, in--in such a way?"
"I don't intend to deceive you," she said, turning the ring around slowly
on her finger. "I didn't know how to tell you. I suppose the only way to
speak is just to speak."
"Do you think you are in love with this man, Marian?"
She nodded, then after a long pause, said, "Yes, Teddy, I love him."
"But I thought----"
"And so did I, Teddy. But he came, and I--well I couldn't help it."
As he did not speak, she looked at him. His face was haggard and white and
in his eyes which met hers frankly there was suffering.
"It wasn't my fault, Teddy," Marian laid her hand on his arm, "at least,
not altogether. I might have kept away and I didn't."
"Oh, I don't blame you. I blame him."
"But it wasn't his fault. I--I--encouraged him."
"Did he know that we were engaged?"
"The scoundrel! I suspected that he was rotten somewhere."
"You are unjust to him. I have not told you properly."
"Did he tell you that he cared for you?"
"Yes--but he didn't try to get me to break my engagement."
"So much the more a scoundrel, he. Tell me, Marian--come to your senses and
tell me--what in the devil did he hang about you for and make love to you,
if he didn't want to marry you? Would an honest man, a decent man, do
Marian's face confessed assent.
"I should think you would have seen what sort of a fellow he is. I should
think you would despise him."
"Sometimes it seems to me that I ought to. But I always end by despising
myself--and--and--it makes no difference in the way I feel toward him."
"I think I would do well to look him up and give him a horse-whipping. But
you'll get over him, Marian. I am astonished at your cousin. How could she
let this go on? But then, she's crazy about him too."
Marian smiled miserably. "I've owned up and you ought to congratulate
yourself on so luckily getting rid of such an untrustworthy person as I."
"Getting rid of you?" Danvers looked at her defiantly. "Do you think I'm
going to let you go on and ruin yourself on an impulse? Not much! I hold
you to your promise. You'll come round all right after you've been away
from this fellow for a few days. You'll be amazed at yourself a week from
"You don't understand, Teddy." Marian wished him to see once for all that,
whatever might be the future for her and Howard, there was no future for
her and him. "Don't make it so hard for me to tell you."
"I don't want to hear any more about it now, Marian. I can't stand it--I
hardly know what I'm saying--wait a few days--let's go on as we have
been--here they come."
The others of the party came bustling into the car and the train started.
For the rest of the journey Danvers avoided her, keeping to the smoking
room and the game of poker there. Marian could neither read nor watch the
landscape. She did not know whether to be glad or sorry that she had told
him. She hated to think that she had inflicted pain and she could not
believe, in spite of what she had seen in his eyes, that his feeling in the
matter was more than jealousy and wounded vanity.
"He doesn't really care for me," she thought. "It's his pride that is hurt.
He will flare out at me and break it off. I do hope he'll get angry. It
will make it so much easier for me."
Late in the afternoon she took Mrs. Carnarvon into her confidence. "I've
told Teddy," she said.
"I might have known!" exclaimed her cousin. "What on earth made you do
"I don't know--perhaps shame."
"Shame--trash! Your life is going to be a fine turmoil if you run to Teddy
with an account of every little mild flirtation you happen to have. Of all
the imbeciles, the most imbecile is the woman who confesses."
"But how could I marry him when----"
"When you don't love him?"
"No--I might have done that. I like him. But, when I love another man."
"It does make a difference. But you ought to be able to foresee that you'll
get over Howard in a few weeks----"
"Precisely what Teddy said."
"Did he? I'm surprised at his having so much sense. For, if you'll forgive
me, I don't think Teddy will ever set New York on fire--at least,
he's--well, he has the makings of an ideal husband. And has he broken it
"No. He wouldn't have it."
"Really? Well he _is_ in love. Most men in his position--able to get
any girl he wants--would have thrown up the whole business. Yes, he must be
awfully in love."
"Do you think that?" Marian's voice spoke distress but she felt only
satisfaction. "Oh, I hope not--that is, I'd like to think he cared a great
deal and at the same time I don't want to hurt him."
"Don't fret yourself about these two men. Just go on thinking as you
please. You'll be surprised how soon Howard will fade." Mrs. Carnarvon
smiled satirically at some thought--perhaps a memory. "You're a good deal
of a goose, my dear, but you are a great deal more of a woman. That's why I
feel sure that Teddy will win."
With such an opportunity--with the field clear and the woman
half-remorseful over her treachery, half-indignant at the man who had shown
himself so weak and spiritless--a cleverer or a less vain man than Danvers
would have triumphed easily. And for the first week he did make progress.
He acted upon the theory that Marian had been hypnotized and that the
proper treatment was to ignore her delusion and to treat her with assiduous
but not annoying consideration. He did not pose as an injured or jealous
lover. He was the friend, always at her service, always thinking out plans
for her amusement. He made no reference to their engagement or to Howard.
Several people of their set were at the hotel and Marian was soon drifting
back into her accustomed modes of thought. The wider horizon which she
fancied Howard had shown her was growing dim and hazy. The horizon which he
had made her think narrow was beginning again to seem the only one. This
meant Danvers; but he was not acute enough to understand her and to follow
up his advantage.
One morning as he was walking up and down under the palms, waiting for Mrs.
Carnarvon and Marian, Mrs. Fortescue called him. She was a cold, rather
handsome woman. In her eyes was the expression that always betrays the wife
or the mistress who loathes the man she lives with, enduring him only
because he gives her that which she most wants--money. She had one fixed
idea--to marry her daughter "well," that is, to money.
"Can you join us to-day, Teddy?" she asked. "We need one more man."
"I'm waiting for Mrs. Carnarvon and Marian," he explained.
"Oh, of course." Mrs. Fortescue smiled. "What a nice girl she is--so
clever, so--so independent. I admired her immensely for deciding to marry
that poor, obscure young fellow. I like to see the young people romantic."
Danvers flushed angrily and pulled at his mustache. He tried to smile.
"We've teased her about it a good deal," he said, "but she denies it."
"I suppose they aren't ready to announce the engagement yet," Mrs.
Fortescue suggested. "I suppose they are waiting until he betters his
position a little. It's never a good idea to have too long a time between
the announcement and the marriage."
"Perhaps that is it." Danvers tried to look indifferent but his eyes were
sullen with jealousy.
"I always rather thought that you and Marian were going to make a match of
it," continued Mrs. Fortescue. Just then her daughter came down the walk.
She was fashionably dressed in white and blue that brought out all the
loveliness of her golden hair and violet eyes and faintly-coloured, smooth
fair skin. Danvers had not seen her since she "came out," and was dazzled
by her radiance.
They say that every man must be a little in love with every pretty woman he
sees. And Danvers at once gave Ellen Fortescue her due. She sat silent
beside her mother, looking the personification of innocence, purity and
poetry. Her mother continued subtly to poison Danvers against Marian, to
make him feel that she had not appreciated him, that she had trifled with
him, that she had not treated him as his dignity and importance merited.
When she and Mrs. Carnarvon appeared, he joined them tardily, after having
made an arrangement with the Fortescues for the next day.
That evening he danced several times with Ellen Fortescue and adopted the
familiar lover's tactics--he set about making Marian jealous. He scored the
customary success. When she went to bed she lay for several hours looking
out into the moonlight, raging against the Fortescues and against Danvers.
The mere fact that a man whom she regarded as hers was permitting himself
to show marked attention to another woman would have been sufficient. But
in addition, Marian was perfectly aware of the material advantages of this
particular man. She did not want to marry him; at least she was of that
mind at the moment. But she might change her mind. Certainly, if there was
to be any breaking off, she wished it to be of her doing. She did not fancy
the idea of him departing joyfully.
She was far too wise to show that she saw what was going on. She praised
Miss Fortescue to Danvers with apparent frankness and insisted on him
devoting more time to her. Danvers persisted in his scheme boldly for a
week and then, just as Marian was despairing and was casting about for
another plan of campaign, he gave in. They were sitting apart in the shadow
near one of the windows of the ball-room. He had been sullen all the
evening, almost rude.
"How much longer are you going to keep me in suspense?" he burst out
"You know what I mean. I think I've been very patient."
"You mean our engagement?" Marian was looking at him, repelled by his
expression, his manner, the tone of his voice, his whole mood.
"Yes--I want your decision."
"I have not changed."
"You still love that--that newspaper fellow?"
"No, I don't mean that." Marian felt her irritation against Danvers
suddenly vanish and in its place a Sense of relief and of calmness. "I mean
toward you. It won't do, Teddy. We shall get on well as friends. But I
can't think of you in--in that way."
Mrs. Fortescue had so swollen his vanity that he was astounded at Marian's
decision. He rapidly went over in his mind all the advantages he offered as
a husband, and then looked at her as if he thought her beside herself.
"Look here, Marian," he protested. "You can't mean it. Why, it's all
settled that we are to marry. It would be madness for you to break it off.
I can give you everything--everything. And he can't give you anything."
Then with fatal tactlessness: "He won't even give you the little that he
can, according to your own story."
"Yes, it's madness, isn't it, Teddy, to refuse you--fascinating you, who
can give everything. But that's just it. You have too much. You overwhelm
me. I should feel like a cheat, taking so much and giving so little."
"Don't," he begged, his self-complacence and superiority all gone. "Don't
mind my blundering, please, dear. I want you. I can't say it. I haven't any
gift of words. But you've known me all my life and you know that I love
you. I've set my heart on it, Mary Ann,"--it was the name he used to tease
her with when they were children playing together--"You won't go back on me
now, will you?"
"I wish I could do as you wish, Teddy." Marian was forgetful of everything
but the unhappiness she was causing this friend of so many, many years and
of so many, many memories. "But I can't--I can't."
"Marry me, dear, anyhow. You will care afterward." Marian was silent and
Danvers hoped. "You know all about me. I'll not give you any surprises. I
shan't bother you. And I'll make you happy."
"No," she said firmly. "You mustn't ask it. I'll tell you why. I have
thought of marrying you regardless of this. Only last night I thought of
it--finally, went over the whole thing. Listen, Teddy--if I were married to
you--and if he should come--and he would come sooner or later--if he should
come and say 'Come with me,'--I'd go--yes, I'm sure I'd go. I can't explain
why. But I know that nothing would stand in the way--nothing."
"You ought to be ashamed of yourself." Marian shrank from him. She was
horrified by the malignant fury that sparkled in his eyes and raged in his
voice. "That damned scoundrel is worthy of you and you of him. But I'll get
you yet. I never was crossed in anything in my life and I'll not be beaten
"And I thought you were my friend!" Marian was looking at him, pale, her
eyes wide with amazement. "Is it really you?"
He laughed insolently. "Yes--you'll see. And he'll see. I'll crush him as
if he were an egg shell. And as for you--you perjurer--you liar!"
He looked at her with coarse contempt, rose and stalked away. Marian sat
rigid. She was conscious of the insult. But even that humiliation was not
so strong in her mind as the astounding revelation of Danvers. She
remembered that even as his eyes blazed hatred at her, he looked at her, at
her neck, her bare arms, with the baffled desire of brute passion. She did
not fully understand the look, but she felt that it was a degradation far
greater than his insulting words.
She slipped, almost skulked to her room, her eyes down, her face in a
burning flush, her scarf drawn tightly about her neck. As her door closed
behind her, she fell upon her bed and began to sob hysterically. She
started up with a scream to find her cousin standing beside her.
"I'm so sorry. Forgive me." Mrs. Carnarvon's voice had lost its wonted
levity. "I saw that you were in trouble and followed. I knocked and I
thought I heard you answer. What is it, Marie? May I ask? Can I do
Marian drew her down to the bed and buried her face in her lap. "Oh, I feel
so unclean," she said. "It was--Teddy. Would you believe it, Jessie, Teddy!
I looked on him as a brother. And he showed me that he was not my
friend--that he didn't even love me--that he--oh, I shall never forget the
look in his eyes. He made me feel like a--like a _thing_."
Mrs. Carnarvon smothered a smile. "Of course Teddy's a brute," she said. "I
thought you knew. He's a domesticated brute, like most of the men and some
of the women. You'll have to get used to that."
By refusing to fall in with her mood, Mrs. Carnarvon had gone far toward
curing it. Marian stopped sobbing and presently said:
"Oh, I know all that. But I didn't expect it from Teddy--and toward me.
And--" she shuddered--"I was thinking, actually thinking of marrying him. I
wish never to see him again. And he pretended to be my friend!"
"And he was, no doubt, until he got you on the brain in another way, in the
way he calls love. There isn't any love that has friendship in it."
"We must go away at once."
"Unless Teddy saves us the trouble by going first, as I suspect he will."
"Jessie, he hates me and--and--Mr. Howard."
"So you talked to him about Howard again, did you?" Mrs. Carnarvon was
indignant. "You are old enough to know better, Marian. You carry frankness
entirely too far. There is such a thing as truth running amuck."
"He said he would crush Howard. And I believe he really meant it."
"Teddy is a man who believes in revenges--or thinks he does. His father
taught him to keep accounts in grievances, and no doubt he has opened an
account with Howard. But don't be disturbed about it. His father would have
insisted on balancing the account. Teddy will just keep on hating, but
won't do anything. He's not underhanded."
"He's everything that is vile and low."
"You're quite mistaken, my dear. He's what they call a manly fellow--a
little too masculine perhaps, but----"
A knock interrupted and Mrs. Carnarvon, answering it, took from the
bell-boy a note for Marian who read it, then handed it to her. Mrs.
Carnarvon read: "I apologise for the way I said what I did this evening,
not for what I said. Because you had forgotten yourself, had played the
traitor and the cheat was, perhaps, no excuse for my rudeness. You have
fallen under an evil influence. I hope no harm will come to you, for I
can't get over my feeling for you. But I have done my best and have not
been able to save you. I am going away early in the morning.
"Melodramatic, isn't it?" laughed Mrs. Carnarvon. "So he's off. How furious
Martha Fortescue and Ellen will be. But they'll go in pursuit, and they'll
get him. A man is never so susceptible as when he's broken-hearted. Well, I
must go. Good-night, dear. Don't mope and whine. Take your punishment
sensibly. You've learned something--if it's only not to tell one man how
much you love another."
"I think I'll go abroad with Aunt Retta next month."
"A good idea--you'll forget both these men. Good-night."
"Good-night," answered Marian dolefully, expecting to resume her thoughts
of Danvers. But, instead, he straightway disappeared from her mind and she
could think only of Howard. She was free now. The one barrier between him
and her of which she had been really conscious was gone. And her heart
began to ache with longing for him. Why had he not written? What was he
doing? Did he really love her or was his passion for her only a flash of a
strong and swift imagination?
No, he loved her--she could not doubt that. But she could not understand
his conduct. She felt that she ought to be very unhappy, yet she was not.
The longer she thought of him and the more she weighed his words and looks,
the stronger became her trust in him. "He loves me," she said. "He will
come when he can. It may be even harder for him than for me."
And so, explanation failing--for she rejected every explanation that
reflected upon him--she hid and excused him behind that familiar refuge of
the doubting, mystery.
THE NEWS-RECORD GETS A NEW EDITOR.
A few minutes after leaving Marian that last night at Mrs. Carnarvon's,
Howard was deep in a mood of self-contempt. He felt that he had faced the
crisis like a coward. He despised the weakness which enfeebled him for
effort to win her and at the same time made it impossible for him to thrust
her from his mind.
In the working hours his will conquered with the aid of fixed habit and he
was able to concentrate upon his editorials. But in his rooms, and
especially after the lights were out, his imagination became master,
deprived him of sleep and occasionally lifted him to a height of hope in
order that it might dash him down the more cruelly upon the rocks of fact.
At last he was forced to face the situation--in his own evasive fashion. It
was impossible to go back. That loneliness which often threatened him after
Alice's death had become the permanent condition of his life. "I will work
for her," he said. "Until I have made a place for her I dare not claim her.
So much I will concede to my weakness. But when I have won a position which
reasonably assures the future, I shall claim her--no matter what has
happened in the meanwhile."
He would have smiled at this wild resolution had he been in a less
distracted state of mind or had he been dealing with any other than a
matter of love. But in the circumstances it gave him heart and set him to
work with an energy and effectiveness which still further increased Mr.
Malcolm's esteem for him.
"Will you dine with me at the Union Club on Wednesday?" Mr. Malcolm asked
one morning in mid-February. "Mr. Coulter and Mr. Stokely are coming. I
want you to know them better."
Howard accepted and wondered that he took so little interest. For Stokely
and Coulter were the principal stockholders of the _News-Record_, and
with Malcolm formed the triumvirate which directed it in all its
departments. Mr. Malcolm held only a few shares of stock, but received what
was in the newspaper-world an immense salary--thirty thousand a year. He
was at once an able editor and an able diplomatist. He knew how to make the
plans of his two associates conform to conditions of news and policy--when
to let them use the paper, or, rather, when to use the paper himself for
their personal interests; when and how to induce them to let the paper
alone. Through a quarter of a century of changing ownerships Malcolm had
persisted, chiefly because he had but one conviction--that the post of
editor of the _News-Record_ exactly suited him and must remain his at
any sacrifice of personal character.
Howard had met Stokely and Coulter. He liked Stokely who was owner of a few
shares more than one-third; he disliked Coulter who owned just under
Stokely was a frank, coarse, dollar-hunter, cheerfully unscrupulous in a
large way, acute, caring not at all for principles of any kind, letting the
paper alone most of the time because he was astute enough to know that in
his ignorance of journalism he would surely injure it as a property.
Coulter was a hypocrite and a snob. Also he fancied he knew how to conduct
a newspaper. He was as unscrupulous as Stokely but tried to mask it.
When Stokely wished the _News-Record to advocate a "job," or steal, or
the election of some disreputable who would work in his interest, he told
Malcolm precisely what he wanted and left the details of the stultification
to his experienced adroitness. When Coulter wished to "poison the fountain
of publicity," as Malcolm called the paper's departures from honesty and
right, he approached the subject by stealth, trying to convince Malcolm
that the wrong was not really wrong, but was right unfortunately disguised.
He would take Malcolm into his confidence by slow and roundabout steps,
thus multiplying his difficulties in discharging his "duty." If Coulter's
son had not been married to Malcolm's daughter, it is probable that not
even his complete subserviency would have enabled him to keep his place.
"If you had told me frankly what you wanted in the first place, Mr.
Coulter," he said after an exasperating episode in which Coulter's
Pharisaic sensitiveness had resulted in Malcolm's having to "flop" the
paper both editorially and in its news columns twice in three days, "we
would not have made ourselves ridiculous and contemptible. The public is an
ass, but it is an ass with a memory at least three days long. Your
stealthiness has made the ass bray at us instead of with and for us. And
that is dangerous when you consider that running a newspaper is like
running a restaurant--you must please your customers every day afresh."
Coulter was further difficult because of his anxieties about social
position for himself and his family. He was disturbed whenever the
_News-Record_ published an item that might offend any of the people
whose acquaintance he had gained with so much difficulty, and for whose
good will he was willing to sacrifice even considerable money. Personally,
but very privately, he edited the _News-Record's_ "fashionable
intelligence" columns on Sunday and made them an exhibit of his own
sycophancy and snobbishness which excited the amused disgust of all who
were in the secret.
Malcolm liked Howard, admired him, in a way envied his fearlessness, his
earnestness for principles. For years he had had it in mind to retire and
write a history of the Civil War period which had been his own period of
greatest activity and most intimate acquaintance with the behind-the-scenes
of statecraft. Howard's energy, steady application, enthusiasm for
journalism and intelligence both as to editorials and as to news made
Malcolm look upon him as his natural successor.
"I think Howard is the man we want," he said to his two associates when he
was arranging the dinner. "He has new ideas--just what the paper needs. He
is in touch with these recent developments. And above all he has judgment.
He knows what not to print, where and how to print what ought to be
printed. He is still young and is over-enthusiastic. He has limitations,
but he knows them and he is eager and capable to learn."
It was a "shop" dinner, Howard doing most of the talking, led on by
Malcolm. The main point was the "new journalism," as it was called, and how
to adapt it to the _News-Record_ and the _News-Record_ to it.
Malcolm kept the conversation closely to news and news-ideas, fearing that,
if editorial policies were brought in, Howard would make "breaks." He soon
saw that his associates were much impressed with Howard, with his judgment,
with his knowledge of the details of every important newspaper in the city,
with his analysis of the good and bad points in each.
"I'll drop you at your corner," said he to Howard at the end of the dinner.
As they drove up the Avenue he began: "How would you like to be the editor
of the _News-Record_? My place, I mean."
"I don't understand," Howard answered, bewildered.
"I am going to retire at once," Malcolm went on. "I've been at it nearly
fifty years--ever since I was a boy of eighteen and I've been in charge
there almost a quarter of a century. I think I've earned a few years of
leisure to work for my own amusement. I'm pretty sure they'll want you to
take my place. Would you like it?"
"I'm not fit for it," Howard said, and he meant it. "I'm only an
apprentice. I'm always making blunders--but I needn't tell you about that."
"You can't say that you are not fit until you have tried. Besides, the
question is not, are _you_ fit? but, is there any one more fit than
you? I confess I don't see any one so well equipped, so certain to give the
paper all of the best that there is in him."
"Of course I'd like to try. I can only fail."
"Oh, you won't fail. But you may quarrel with Stokely and
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