The Great God Success
John Graham (David Graham Phillips)
Part 4 out of 4
to their house and accepted more and more invitations. At first she never
went without him. But he was sometimes compelled by his work to send her
alone. He rarely went except for her sake--because he thought going about
amused her. And he was glad and relieved when she began to go without him,
instead of spending the evenings in solitude.
"There is no reason why you should punish yourself and punish me because
you had the ill luck to marry a working-man," he said. "It cannot be
agreeable to sit here all by yourself evening after evening. And it
depresses me when I am at the office at night to think of you as lonely. It
makes me happier in my work--my pleasure, you know--to think of you
"But aren't you afraid that some one will steal me?" she asked, laughingly.
"Not I." He was smiling proudly at her. "If you could be stolen, if you
could be happier anywhere than with me, you have only to let me into the
"There are some women who would not like that."
"And there are men who wouldn't feel as I do. But you and I, we belong to a
class all by ourselves, don't we?"
Apparently they were as devoted each to the other as ever. But each now
sought a separate happiness--he perforce in his work, she perforce in the
only way left open to her. When they were together, which meant several
hours every day and usually one whole day in the week, they were at once
seemingly absorbed each in the other with all the rest as background. But
none the less, they were leading separate lives, with separate interests,
separate tastes, separate modes of thinking. The "bourgeois" life which
they had planned--both standing behind the counter and both adding up the
results of the day's business after they had put up the shutters, two as
one in all the interests of life--became a dead and forgotten dream.
THE SHENSTONE EPISODE.
On the way to or from the opera or a party, she would peep in on him,
watching the back of his head as he bent over his desk or read away at some
dull-looking book, wishing that he would feel her presence and turn with
that smile which was always hers from him, yet fearing to make a sound and
compel his attention.
"At times I think," she said one day when he caught her in his arms on a
sudden impulse and kissed her, "that the reason you don't try to rule me is
because you don't care enough."
"That's precisely it." He was smoothing her eyebrows with his forefinger.
"I don't care enough about ruling. I don't care enough for the sort of love
that responds to 'must.'"
"But a woman likes to have 'must' said to her sometimes."
"Does she? Do you? Well--I'll say 'must' to you. You must love me freely
and voluntarily, or not at all. You must do as you please."
"But don't you see that that drives me from you often, keeps us apart in
many ways. Now if you compelled me to think as you do, to like what you
"But I couldn't. Then you would no longer be _you_. And I like you so
well just as you are that I would not change an idea in your head."
Marian sighed and went away to her dinner party. She felt that she was in
danger. "Not of falling in love with some other man," she thought, "for
that's impossible. But if a man were to come along who invited me to be
interested in his work, to keep him at whatever he was doing, I'd accept
and that would lead on and on--where?"
She soon had an opportunity to answer that question. Howard went away to
Washington to assist the party leaders in putting through a difficult
tariff-reform bill which all the protected interests were fighting. He
expected to be gone a week; but week after week passed and he was still at
the capital, directing the paper by telegraph and sending Marian hurried
notes postponing his return. She was going about daily, early and late, her
life vacant, her mind restlessly seeking occupation, interest.
After he had been gone three weeks she found herself at dinner at Mrs.
Provost's next to a tall, fair-haired athletic young man of about her own
age. Something in his expression--perhaps the amused way in which he
studied the faces of the others--attracted her to him. She glanced over at
his card. It read "Mr. Shenstone."
"It doesn't add much to your information, does it?" he smiled, as he caught
her glance rising from the card.
"Nothing," she confessed candidly. "I never heard of you before."
"And yet I've been splashing about, trying to attract attention to myself,
for twelve years."
"Perhaps not in this particular pond."
"No, that is true."
"I was wondering what you do--lawyer, doctor, journalist, business man or
"And what did you conclude?"
"I concluded that you did nothing."
"You are right. But I try--I paint."
"That explains your way of looking at people. Only, you'll get no customers
if you paint them as you see them."
"I only see what they see when they look in the mirror."
"Yes, but you see it impartial--or rather, I should say, cynically."
"For calling me cynical. The two keenest pleasures a man can attain are for
a woman to call him a cynic and for a woman to call him a devil with the
"Are you a 'devil with the women'?"
"Not I--not any more than I am a cynic. But let us talk about you--I am
about exhausted as a topic of conversation. Why do you look so
"Because I have nothing to occupy my mind."
"None--and no dogs."
"Husbands are busy."
"So you are the typical American woman--the American instinct for doing,
the universal woman's instinct for sunshine and laziness; the husband
absorbed in his business or profession with his domestic life as an
incident; the wife--like you."
"That is right, and wrong--nearer right than wrong, a little unjust to the
"Oh, it's probably your fault that you are not absorbed in his business or
profession. It ought to be as much yours as his. What does he do?"
"He edits a newspaper."
"Oh, he's _the_ Mr. Howard. A very interesting, a very remarkable
Marian was delighted by this appreciation. She talked with Shenstone again
after dinner and was pleased that he was to be in the same box with her at
the opera the next night. He had spent much of his time on the other side
of the Atlantic. He was unusually well educated for an artist's, and his
mind was not developed in one direction only. Like Marian, his point of
view was artistic and emotional. Like her he had a reverence for tradition,
a deference to caste--the latter not offensive for the same reason that
hers was not, because good birth and good breeding made him of the "high
caste" and not a cringer with his eyes craned upward. It seemed in him, as
in her, a sort of self-respect.
Marian showed a candid liking for his society and he was quick to take
advantage of it. For a month they saw more and more each of the other, she
discreet without deliberation and he discreet with deliberation. He talked
to her of his work, of his ambition. He showed her himself without egotism.
He made an impression upon her so distinct and so favourable that she
admitted to herself that he was the most fascinating man--except one--whom
she had ever met.
When Howard at last returned, defeated by corruption within his own party
and for the time disgusted with politics, she at once had Shenstone at the
house to dine. "What do you think of Mr. Shenstone?" she asked when they
"No wonder you're enthusiastic about him. As he talked to me, I could
hardly keep from laughing. It was your own views, almost your own words. He
has the look of a great man. I think he will 'arrive,' as they say in the
Howard went out of his way to be agreeable to Shenstone, often inviting him
to the house and giving him a commission to paint Marian. For the rest of
the winter Shenstone was constantly in Marian's company; so constantly that
they were gossiped about, and all the women who were unpleasantly discussed
"for cause" conspired to throw them together as much as possible.
One evening in the very end of the winter, Howard called to Marian from his
dressing room: "Why, lady, Shenstone's gone, hasn't he? I've just read a
note from him."
There was a pause before Marian answered in a constrained voice: "Yes, he
Howard was tying his bow. He paused at the curious tone, then smiled
mysteriously to himself. He put on his waistcoat and coat and knocked on
the half-open door. "May I come in?" he asked.
"Yes--I'm waiting for dinner to be announced."
She was sitting before the fire, very beautiful in her evening gown. She
seemed not to observe that he had entered but stared on into the flames. He
stood beside her, looking down at her with the half mocking, half tender
smile. Presently he sat upon the arm of her chair and took one of her
hands. "Poor, friendless, beautiful lady," he said softly.
She glanced up quickly, her cheeks flaming but her eyes clear and frank.
"Why do you say that?" she asked in the tone of one who knows why.
"Other women will not be her friends because they are jealous of her, and
as for the men--how can a man be really a friend to a woman, a fascinating,
Marian hid her face against the lapel of his coat. "He told me," she
whispered, "and then he went away."
"He always does tell her. But----"
"She doesn't always send him away. Poor fellow! Still, he went into it with
his eyes open."
"He was very nice. He told it in a roundabout way. And I wasn't a bit
afraid that he'd--he'd--you know. But I got to thinking about how I'd feel
if he did--did touch me. And it made me--nervous."
There was a long pause, then she went on: "I wonder how you'd feel about
touching another woman?"
"I? Dear me, I wonder! I never thought. You see I'm such a domestic,
"Don't laugh at me, please," she pleaded.
"I'm not laughing. Underneath, I'm thinking--thinking what I would do if I
met you and lost you. It's very black on the Atlantic for one pair of eyes
"And the worst of it is," she said, "that my vanity is flattered and I'm
not really sorry for him."
"Rather proud of her conquest, is she?"
"Yes, it pleased me to have him care."
"She likes to think that he'll carry his broken heart to the grave, does
"Yes. Isn't it shameful?"
"Shameful? Shameless. I have always held that even the best woman dearly
loves to ruin a man. It's such a triumph. And the more she loves him, the
more she'd like to ruin him--that is, if ruin came solely through love for
her and didn't involve her."
"But I would not want to ruin you."
"If that seemed to be the supreme test of my love for you--are you sure?
I'm not. There's Thomas, knocking to announce dinner."
The Shenstone incident was apparently closed. Marian, a most attractive
woman of thirty, absorbed in a social life that demanded all her physical
and mental energy as well as all of her time, did not long vividly remember
him. But he had given her a standard by which she unconsciously measured
her husband. She contrasted the life he had promised her, the life
Shenstone reminded her of, with the life that was--so material, so
suspiciously physical when it professed to be loving, so suspiciously chill
when it professed to be friendly. She thrust aside these thoughts as
disloyal and false. But they persisted in returning.
If she had been less appreciative of Howard's intellect, less fascinated by
the charm of his personality, she would soon have become one of the
"misunderstood" women in search of "consolation." Instead, she turned her
mind in the direction natural to her character--social ambition.
EXPANDING AND CONTRACTING.
In such a city as New York, to be deliberately careful about money is the
only way to keep within one's income, whether it be vast or small. There
are temptations to buy at the end of every glance of the eye. The merchants
are crafty in producing new and insidious allurements, in creating new and
expensive tastes. But these might be resisted were it not that the habits
of all one's associates are constantly and all but irresistibly stimulating
the faculty of imitation.
Neither Howard nor Marian had been brought up to be watchful about money.
Both had been accustomed to having their wants supplied. And now that they
had a household and a growing income, it was a matter of course that their
expenditures should steadily expand. Before three years had passed they
were spending more than double the sum which at the outset they had fixed
upon as their limit. A merely decent and self-respecting return of the
hospitalities they accepted, a carriage and pair and two saddle horses and
the servants to look after them--these items accounted for the increase.
They looked upon this as really necessary expenditure and soon would have
found that curtailment involved genuine deprivation. From the very
beginning each step in expansion made the next logical and inevitable, made
the plea of necessity seem valid.
An aunt of Marian's died, leaving her a "small" house--worth perhaps a
quarter of a million--near the Avenue in Sixty-fifth Street, and eighty
thousand in cash. About the same time Stokely told Howard of a fine
speculative opportunity in certain copper properties. Howard hesitated. He
knew that the way of speculation was the way of bondage for his newspaper
and for him. But this particular adventure seemed harmless and he yielded.
The money was invested and within a few months was producing an income of
fifteen thousand a year which promised to be steady. Howard's ownership of
stock in the paper increased; and as the profits advanced swiftly with its
swift growth in its illustrated form, his own income was nearly fifty
thousand a year. They were growing very rich. There was no longer the
slightest anxiety as to money in his mind.
"You know the great dread I had in marrying," he said to her one day, "was
lest I should make myself and you dependents, should some day sacrifice my
freedom to my fear of losing--happiness."
"Yes, and very foolish you were, not to have more confidence in yourself
and in me."
"Perhaps. But what I am thinking is that you have brought me luck. I am
free, beyond anybody's reach. I could quit the paper to-morrow and we
should hardly have to change our style of living even if I did not get
something else to do."
"Style of living--" in that phrase lay the key to the change that was
swiftly going on in Howard's mind and mental attitude. It is not easy for a
man with environment wholly in his favour to keep his point of view
correct, to keep his horizon wide and clear, his sense of proportion just.
It is next to impossible for him to do so when his environment opposes.
The man who looks out from misery and squalor upon misery and squalor is,
if he thinks at all, naturally an anarchist. To him the established order
shows only injustice and persistence of injustice. The man who looks out
from luxury and ease and well-being upon luxury and ease and well-being is
forced by the very limitations of the human mind to an over-reverence for
the established order. He is unreasonably suspicious of anything that
threatens change. "When I'm comfortable all's well in the world; change
might bring discomfort to me." And he flatters himself that he is a
Howard had had a long training at the correct standpoint and in right
thinking. But the influences were there, were at work, were destroying his
devotion to a social and political ideal wholly alien to the life he was
now living under the leading of his wife. He did not blame her, indeed he
could not justly have blamed her, for his falling away from what he knew
were correct principles for him. While she had brought him into this
environment, while at first it was in large part for her that he gave so
much time and thought to the accumulation of wealth, soon love of luxury,
dependence upon a train of servants, fondness for the great extravagances
to which New York tempts the rich and those living near the rich, became
stronger in him than it was in her. And through the inevitable reaction of
environment upon the man, the central point in his valuation of men and
women tended to shift from the fundamentals, mind and character, to the
surface qualities--dress and style and manners and refinement, and even
This process of demoralisation was well advanced when they moved from the
apartment. After four years of "expansion" there, they had begun to feel
cramped; and a year after Marian inherited the house Howard had progressed
to the mental, the moral, the financial state where it seemed natural,
logical, practically necessary that they should set up a real New York
"Isn't this just the house for us?" she said. "I hate huge, big houses.
Like you, I think the taste of the occupants should be everywhere. Now this
house is just big enough. You don't know how wonderful it would be."
"Oh, yes, I do," he laughed, "and you must try it." He was as enthusiastic
In the late autumn the house was ready; and there was not a more artistic
interior in New York. It was not so much the result of great expense as of
intelligence and taste. It was an expression of an individuality--a
revelation of a woman's beautiful mind, inspired by love.
"At last I have something to interest, to occupy me," she said. "This is
our very own, through and through our own. It will be such a pleasure to me
to keep it always like this."
"You--degenerated into a household drudge," he mocked. "Why, you used to
laugh at me when I held up a wife who was a good housekeeper as one of my
"Did I?" she answered. "Well, as you would say, see what I've come to
through living with--a member of the working-classes."
Howard's own particular part of this house included a library with a small
study next to it. In the study was a most attractive table with plenty of
room to spread about books and papers, a huge divan in the corner and a
fire-place near by. He found himself doing more and more of his work at
home. There were not so many interruptions as at the office, the beauty of
the surroundings, the consciousness that "she" was not far away--all
combined to keep him at home and to enable him to do more and better work
He was justly and greatly proud of her achievement; and where he used to be
more regretful than he admitted even to himself when they had guests, he
was now glad to see others about, admiring her taste, appreciating her
skill as a hostess and giving him opportunities to look at her from an ever
new point of view.
Of course these guests were almost all "_their_ kind of
people"--amiable, well mannered persons who thought and acted in that most
conventional of moulds, the mould of "good society." They fitted into the
surroundings, they did their part toward making those surroundings
luxurious--a "wallow of self-complacent content." And this environment soon
suited and fitted him exactly.
But to her he was still The Democrat. She loved him in the way and to the
degree which her character, as the years had developed it, permitted her to
love. And this love, or rather admiring respect, was wholly based upon her
ideal of him, her belief in the honesty and intensity of his convictions.
While she did not share them, she had breadth enough to admire them and to
regard them as high removed above her own ideas to which for herself she
held tenaciously, instinct and association and "tradition" triumphing over
Howard retained his ideal of her, never examining her closely, never seeing
or suspecting what a pale love she gave him and how shrivelled had become
the part of her nature which she and he both assumed was most strongly
developed. He knew how she idealised him and did not dare to undeceive her.
Therefore he practised toward her a hypocrisy that grew steadily more
disgraceful, yet grew so gradually that there was no single moment at which
he could conveniently halt and "straighten the record." At first he was
often and heartily ashamed of himself; but by degrees this feeling deadened
into cynical insensibility and he was only ashamed to let her see him as he
really was. She had kept her self-respect. She esteemed self-respect at the
exalted valuation he had formerly put upon it. What if she should find him
* * * * *
When the famous "coal conspiracy" was formed, three of the men conspicuous
in it were among their intimates--that is, their families were often at his
house and he and Marian were often at theirs. Yet he had never made a more
relentless attack. Nor did he, either in the news columns or on the
editorial page, conceal the connection of his three friends with the
"Mrs. Mercer was here this morning," Marian said as they were waiting for
the butler to announce dinner. She was flushed and embarrassed.
Howard laughed. "And did she tell you what a dreadful husband you had?"
"Oh, she didn't blame you at all. She said they all knew how perfectly
upright you were. Only, she said you did not understand and were doing Mr.
Mercer a great injustice."
"Well, what do you think?"
"Why--I can't believe--is it possible, dear--I was just reading one of your
editorials. Can Mr. Mercer be in such a scheme? The way she told it to me,
he and the others were really doing a lot of people a valuable service,
putting their property on a paying basis, enabling the railroads to meet
their expenses and to keep thousands and thousands of men employed."
"Poor Mercer!" Howard said ironically. "Poor misunderstood philanthropist!
What a pity that that sort of benevolence has to be carried on by bribing
judges and prosecutors and legislatures, by making the poor shiver and
freeze, by subtracting from the pleasures and adding to the anxieties of
millions. One would almost say that such a philanthropy had better not be
undertaken. It is so likely to be misunderstood by the 'unruly classes.'"
"Oh, I knew you were right. I told her you must be right, that you never
wrote until you knew."
"And what was the result?"
"Well, we are making some very bitter enemies."
"I doubt it. I suspect that before long they'll come wheedling about in the
hope that I'll let up on them or be a little easier next time."
"I'm sure I do not care what they do," said Marian, drawing herself up.
"All I care for is--you, and to see you do your duty at whatever cost or
regardless of cost--" she was leaning over the back of his chair with her
arms about his neck and her lips very near to his ear--"you are my love
without fear and without reproach."
"Listen, dear." He took her hand and drew her arms more closely about his
neck. "Suppose that the lines were drawn--as they may be any day. Suppose
that we had to choose, with all these friends of yours, with our position,
yes, even the place I have won in my profession, my place as editor--all
that we now have on the one side; and on the other side a thankless,
unprofitable, apparently useless standing up for the right. Wouldn't you
miss your friends?"
"_All_ our friends? And who will be on the other side?"
"Almost no one that we know--that you would care to call upon or go about
with or have here at the house. Nobody with any great amount of wealth or
social position. Those other people who are in town when it is said 'Nobody
is in town now!'"
She did not answer.
"Where would you be?" he repeated.
"Oh, I wasn't thinking of that." She came around and sat on his knee.
"Where? Why, there's only one 'where' in all this world for
me--'wheresoever thou goest.'"
And so the half-formed impulse to begin to straighten himself out with her
was smothered by her.
Both were silent through dinner. She was thinking how honest, how fearless
he was, how he loved her, how eagerly she would follow him, how blessed she
was in the love of such a man. And he--he was regretting that his "pose"
had carried him so far; he was wishing that he had not been so bitter in
his attacks upon his and his wife's friends, the coal conspirators. When he
had definitely cast in his lot with "the shearers" why persist in making
his hypocrisy more abominable by protesting more loudly than ever in behalf
of "the sheep?" Above all, why had he let his habit of voluble denunciation
lead him into this hypocrisy with the woman he loved?
He admitted to himself that "causes" had ceased to interest him except as
they might contribute to the advancement of his power. Power!--that was his
ambition now. First he had wished to have an independent income in order to
be free. When he had achieved that, it was at the sacrifice of his mental
freedom. And now, with the clearness of self-knowledge which only men of
great ability have, he knew that the one cause for which he would make
"Of what are you thinking so gloomily?" she interrupted.
"Oh--I--let me see--well, I was thinking what a fraud I am; and that I
wished I could dupe myself as completely as I can dupe--"
"Me?" she laughed. "Oh, we're all frauds--shocking frauds. I wouldn't have
you see me as I really am for anything."
Although her remark was a commonplace, of small meaning, as he knew, he got
comfort out of it, so desperately was he casting about for some
"That's true, my dear," he said. "And I wish that you liked the kind of a
fraud I am as well as I like the kind of a fraud you are."
Stokely came rushing into his office the next morning. "Good God, old man,"
he exclaimed, "What's the meaning of this attack on the coal roads?"
Howard flushed with resentment, not at what Stokely said, but at his tone.
"Now, don't get on your high horse. I don't think you understand."
Stokely's tone had moderated. "Don't you know that the Delaware Valley road
is in this?"
Howard started. He had just invested two hundred thousand dollars in that
stock on Stokely's advice "No, I didn't know it." He recovered himself.
"And furthermore I don't give a damn." He struck his desk angrily. His
simulation of incorruptible indignation for the moment half deceived
"Why, man, if this infernal roast is kept up, you'll lose a hundred
thousand. Then there are my interests. I'm up to my neck in this deal."
"My advice to you is to get out of it. I'm sorry, but you know as well as I
do that the thing is infamous." "Infamous--nonsense! It will double our
dividends and the consumers won't feel it."
"Let us not discuss it, Stokely. There--don't say anything you'll regret."
"Now, Stokely--don't argue it with me."
Stokely put on his hat, stood up and looked at Howard with sullen
admiration. "You will drive away the last friend you've got on earth, if
you keep this up. Good morning."
Howard sent a smile of cynical amusement after him, then stared
thoughtfully into the mass of papers on his desk for five, ten, fifteen
minutes. When his plan was formed he touched the electric button.
"Please tell Mr. King I'd like to see him," he said to the answering boy.
Mr. King entered with a bundle of legal documents. "I suppose it's the
injunction you want to discuss," he said. "We've got the papers all ready.
It's simply great. Those fellows will be in a corner and will have to give
up. They can't get away from us. The price of coal will drop half a dollar
within a week, I'll bet."
"I'm afraid you are over sanguine," Howard said. "I've just been going over
the matter with my lawyer. But leave the papers with me. And--about the
news--be careful what you say. We've been going a little strong. I think a
little less personal matter would be advisable."
Mr. King was amazed and looked it. He slowly pulled himself together to
say, "All right, Mr. Howard. I think I understand." He laid the papers down
and departed. Outside the door he laughed softly to himself. "Somebody's
been cutting his comb, I guess," he murmured. "Well, I didn't think he'd
last. New York always gets 'em when they're worth while."
As the door closed behind King, Howard drew out the lowest and deepest
drawer of his desk. It was half-filled with long-undisturbed pamphlets and
newspaper cuttings. He tossed in the injunction papers. A cloud of dust
flew up and settled thickly upon them. He shut the drawer.
He went to the window and looked out over the city--that seductive, that
overwhelming expression of wealth and power. "What was it my father wrote
me when I told him I was going to New York?" and he recalled almost the
exact words--"New York that lures young men from the towns and the farms,
and prostitutes them, teaches them to sell themselves with unblushing
cheeks for a fee, for an office, for riches, for power." He shrugged his
shoulders, smiled, drew himself up, returned to his desk and was soon
absorbed in his work.
The next morning the _News-Record's_ double-leaded "leader" on the
Coal Trust was a discharge of heavy artillery. But it was artillery in
retreat. And in the succeeding days, the retreat continued--not precipitate
but orderly, masterly.
* * * * *
Ten days after their talk on the "coal conspiracy" Marian greeted him late
in the afternoon with "Oh, such a row with Mrs. Mercer!"
"Mrs. Mercer! Why, what was she angry about?"
"She wasn't--at least, not at first. It was I. I went to see her and she
asked me to thank you for stopping that fight on the coal conspiracy."
"That was tactful of her," Howard said, turning away to hide his
"And I told her that you had not stopped, that you wouldn't stop until you
had broken it up. And she smiled in a superior way and said I was quite
mistaken, that I didn't read the paper, I haven't read it for several days,
but I knew _you_, dear, and I remembered what you had said. And so we
just had it. We were polite but furious when I went. I shall never go near
"But, unfortunately, we have stopped. We had to do it. We could accomplish
"Oh, it doesn't matter. What angered me was her insinuation."
"That was irritating. But, tell me, what if it had been true?" Howard's
voice was strained and he was looking at her eagerly, with fever in his
"But it couldn't be. It isn't worth while imagining. You could not be a
coward and a traitor." So complete was her confidence in him that suspicion
of him was impossible.
"Would you sit in judgment on me?"
"Not if I could help it."
"But you can--you could help it." His manner was agitated, and he spoke
almost fiercely. "I am free," he went on, and as she watched his eyes she
understood why men feared him. "I do what I will. I am not accountable to
you, not even to you. I have never asked you to approve of me, to approve
what I do, to love me. You are free also, free to love, free to withdraw
your love. I follow the law of my own being. You must take me as you find
me or not at all."
She tried to stop him but could not. His words poured on. He leaned forward
and took her hand and his eyes were brilliant and piercing. "I love you,"
he said. "Ah, how I love you--not because you love me, not because you are
an angel, not because you are a superior being. No, not for any reason in
all this wide world but because you are you. Do what you will and I shall
love you. Whether I had to look up among the stars or down in the mire to
find you, I would look just as steadily, just as proudly."
He drew along breath and his hand trembled. "If I were a traitor, then, if
you loved me, you would say, 'What! Is he to be found among traitors? How I
love treason!' If I were a coward, liar, thief, a sum of all the vices,
then, if you ever had loved me you would love me still. I want no love with
mental reservations, no love with ifs and buts and provided-thats. I want
love, free and fearless, that adapts itself to changing human nature as the
colour of the sea adapts itself to the colour of the sky; love that does
not have to be cajoled and persuaded lest it be not there when I most need
it. I want the love that loves."
"You know you have it." She had been compelled by his mood and was herself
in a fever. She looked at him with the expression which used to make his
nerves vibrate. "You know that no human being ever was more to another than
I to you. But you can't expect me to be just the same as you are. I love
_you_--not the false, base creature you picture. I admire the way you
love, but I could not love in that way. Thank God, my love, my dear--I
shall never be put to that test. For my love for you is my--my all."
"We are very serious about a mere supposition."
Howard was laughing, but not naturally. "We take each the other far too
seriously. I'm sorry you idealise me so. Who knows--you might find me out
some day--and then--well, don't blame me."
Marian said no more, but late that evening she put her hands on his
shoulders and said: "You're not hiding something from me--something we
ought to bear together?"
"Not I." Howard smiled down into her eyes and kissed her.
His mood of reaction, of hysteria had passed. He was thinking how little in
reality she had had to do with his outburst. He had not been addressing her
at all, except as she seemed to him for the moment the embodiment of his
self-respect--or rather, of an "absurd," "extremely youthful" ideal of
self-respect which he had "outgrown."
THE PROMISED LAND.
A woman with a powerful personality may absorb in herself a man of strong
and resolute ambition, may compel him to make her his career, to feel that
to get and to keep her is all that he asks from destiny. But Marian was not
such a woman.
She had come into Howard's life at just the time and in just the way to
arouse his latent passion for power and to give it a sufficient initial
impetus. It was love for her that set him to lifting himself from among
those who work through themselves alone to the potent few who work chiefly
by directing the labour of others.
Once in this class, once having tasted the joy of power, Howard was lost to
her. She was unable to restrain or direct, or even clearly to understand.
She became an incident in his life. As riches came with power, they pushed
him to one side in her life. Living in separate parts of a large house,
leading separate lives, rarely meeting except when others were
present--following the typical life of New Yorkers of fortune and
fashion--they gradually grew to know little and see little and think little
each of the other.
There was no abruptness in the transition. Every day had contributed its
little toward widening the gap. There was no coolness, no consciousness of
separation; simply the slow formation of the habit of complete independence
each of the other.
His ambitions absorbed his thought and his time. To them he found her very
useful. The social side--forming and keeping up friendly relations with the
families whose heads were men of influence--was a vital part of his plan.
But he used her just as he used every and any one else whom he found
capable of contributing to his advancement; and, as she never insisted upon
herself, never sought to influence or even to inquire into his course of
action, she did not find him out.
She was in a vague way an unhappy woman. A discontent, a feeling that her
life was incomplete, perpetually teased her. He was distinctly unhappy,
often gloomy, at times morose. In her rare analytic moods she attributed
their failure to prolong the happiness of their courtship to the hard work
which kept him from her, kept them from enjoying the great love which she
assumed they felt each for the other. She would not and could not see that
that love had long disappeared, leaving a mask of forms, of phrases and of
impulses of passion to conceal its departure. And to this view he outwardly
assented, when she suggested it; but he knew that she was deceiving herself
as to him, and wondered if she were not deceiving herself as to her own
Up to the time of the "Coal Conspiracy" and his attempt to put himself
straight with her, the idea of his love for her and of her oneness with him
had at least a hold upon his imagination. He then saw how far apart they
had drifted; and he dismissed from his mind even the pretense that love
played any part in his life. After that definite break with principle and
self-respect for the sake of his coal holdings, his Wall Street friends and
his newspaper career, the development of his character continued along
strictly logical lines with accelerating speed. And it was accompanied by
an ever franker, more cynical acceptance of the change.
He could not deceive himself, nor can any man with the clearness of
judgment necessary to great achievement--although many "successful" men,
for obvious reasons of self-interest, diligently encourage the popular
theory of warped conscience. He was well aware that he had shifted from the
ideal of use _to_ his fellow-beings to the ideal of use _of_ his
fellow-beings, from the ideal of character to the ideal of reputation. And
he knew that the two ideals can not be combined and that he not only was
not attempting to combine them but had no desire so to do. He despised his
former ideals; but also he despised himself for despising them.
His quarrel with himself was that he seemed to himself a rather vulgar sort
of hypocrite. This was highly disagreeable to him, as his whole nature
tended to make him wish to be himself, to make him shrink from the part of
the truckler and the sycophant which he was playing so haughtily and so
artistically. At times it exasperated him that he could not regard his
change of front as a deliberate sale for value received, and not as the
weak and cowardly surrender which he saw that it really was.
* * * * *
On the day after Howard's forty-fourth birthday Coulter fell dead at the
entrance to the Union Club. When Stokely heard of it he went direct to the
"I happen to know something about Coulter's will," he said to Howard. "The
_News-Record_ stock is to be sold and you and I are to have the first
chance to take it at three hundred and fifty--which is certainly cheap
"Why did he arrange to dispose of the most valuable part of his estate?"
"Well, we had an agreement about it. Then, too, Coulter had no faith in
newspapers as a permanent investment. You know there are only the widow,
the girl and that worthless boy. Heavens, what an ass that boy is! Coulter
has tied up his estate until the youngest grandchild comes of age. He hopes
that there will be a son among the grandchildren who will realise his
"Dream?" Howard smiled. "I didn't know that Coulter ever indulged in
"Yes, he had the rich man's mania--the craze for founding a family. So
everything is to be put into real estate and long-term bonds. And for years
New York is to be reminded of Samuel Coulter by some incapable who'll use
his name and his money to advertise nature's contempt for family pride in
her distributions of brains. I think even a fine tomb is a wiser memorial."
"Well, how much of the stock shall you take?" Howard asked.
"Not a share," Stokely replied dejectedly. "Coulter couldn't have died at a
worse time for me. I'm tied in every direction and shall be for a year at
least. So you've got a chance to become controlling owner."
"I?" Howard laughed. "Where could I get a million and a half?"
"How much could you take in cash?"
"Well--let me see--perhaps--five hundred thousand."
"You can borrow the million with the stock as collateral."
"But how could I pay?"
"Why, your dividends at our present rate would be more than two hundred
thousand a year. Your interest charge would be under seventy-five thousand.
Perhaps I can arrange it so that it won't be more than fifty thousand. You
can let the balance go on reducing the loan. Then I may be able to put you
onto a few good things. At any rate you can't lose anything. Your stock
would bring five hundred even at forced sale. It's your chance, old man. I
want to see you take it."
"I'll think it over. I have no head for figures."
"Let me manage it for you." Stokely rose to go. Howard began thanking him,
but he cut him off with:
"You owe me no thanks. You've made money for me--big money. I owe you my
help. Besides, I don't want any outsider in here. Let me know when you're
ready." He nodded and was gone.
"What a chance!" Howard repeated again and again.
He was looking out over New York.
Twenty years before he had faced it, asking of it nothing but a living and
his freedom. For twenty years he had fought. Year by year, even when he
seemed to be standing still or going backward, he had steadily gained,
making each step won a vantage-ground for forward attack. And now--victory.
Power, wealth, fame, all his!
Yet a deep melancholy came over him. And he fell to despising himself for
the kind of exultation that filled him, its selfishness, its sordidness,
the absence of all high enthusiasm. Why was he denied the happiness of
self-deception? Why could he not forget the means, blot it out, now that
the end was attained?
His mind went out, not to Marian, but to that other--the one sleeping under
the many, many layers of autumn leaves at Asheville. And he heard a voice
saying so faintly, so timidly: "I lay awake night after night listening to
your breathing, and whispering under my breath, 'I love you, I love you.
Why can't you love me?'" And then--he flung down the cover of his desk and
rushed away home.
"Why did I think of Alice?" he asked himself. And the answer came--because
in those days, in the days of his youth, he had had beliefs, high
principles; he had been incapable of this slavery to appearances, to vain
show, incapable of this passion for reputation regardless of character. His
weaknesses were then weaknesses only, and not, as now, the laws of his
being controlling his every act.
He smiled cynically at the self of such a few years ago--yet he could not
meet those honest, fearless eyes that looked out at him from the mirror of
He was triumphant, but self-respect had gone and not all the thick
swathings of vanity covered him from the stabs of self-contempt.
"When I am really free, when the paper is paid for and I can do as I
please, why not try to be a man again? Why not? It would cost me nothing."
But a man is the sum of _all_ his past.
Stokely arranged the loan, and within six months Howard was controlling
owner of the _News-Record._ There was a debt of a million and a
quarter attached to his ownership, but he saw how that would be wiped out.
Once more he threw himself into his work with the energy of a boy. He had
to give much of his time to the business department--to the details of
circulation and advertising. He felt that the profits of the paper could be
greatly increased by improving its facilities for reaching the advertiser
and the public. He had never been satisfied with the circulation methods;
but theretofore his ignorance of business and his position as mere salaried
editor had acted in restraint upon his interference with the "ground
As he had suspected, the business office was afflicted with the twin
diseases--routine and imitativeness. It followed an old system, devised in
days of small circulation and grudgingly improved, not by thought on the
part of those who circulated the paper, but by compulsion on the part of
the public. No attempts were made to originate schemes for advertising the
paper. The only methods were wooden variations upon placards in the street
cars and the elevated stations, and cards hung up at the news-stands. As
forgetting advertising business, they thought they showed enterprise by a
little canvassing among the conspicuous merchants in Greater New York.
Howard had charts made showing the circulation by districts. With these as
a basis he ordered an elaborate campaign to "push" the paper in the
districts where it was circulated least and to increase its hold where it
was strong. "We do not reach one-third of the people who would like to take
our paper," he told Jowett, the business manager. "Let us have an army of
agents and let us take up our territory by districts."
The Sunday edition was the largest source of revenue, both because it
carried a great deal more advertising at much higher rates than did the
week-day editions, and because it sold at a price which yielded a profit on
the paper itself, while the price of the weekday editions did not. News
constituted less than one-fourth of its contents. The rest was "feature
articles," as interesting a week late to a man in Seattle as on the day of
publication within a mile of the office.
"We get out the very best magazine in the market," said Howard to Jowett.
"Are we pushing it in the east, in the west, in the south? Look at the
"We have a Sunday circulation of five hundred in Oregon, of one thousand in
Texas, of six hundred in Georgia, of two thousand in Maine. Why not ten
times as much in each of those states? Why not ten times as much as we now
have near New York?"
There was no reason except failure to "push" the paper. That reason Howard
proceeded to remove. But these enterprises involved large expenditures,
perhaps might mean postponement of the payment of the debt. Receipts must
be increased and the most promising way was an increase in the advertising
Howard noted on the chart nineteen cities and large towns near New York in
each of which the daily circulation of the _News-Record_ was equal to
that of any paper published there and far exceeded the combined
circulations of all the home dailies on Sunday. This suggested a system of
local advertising pages, and for its working out he engaged one of the most
capable newspaper advertising men in the city. Within three months the idea
had "caught on" and, instead of sending useless columns of New York
"want-ads" and the like to places where they could not be useful, the
_News-Record_ was presenting to its readers in twelve cities and towns
the advertisements of their local merchants.
A year of this work, with Howard giving many hours of each day personally
to tiresome details, brought the natural results. The profits of the
_News-Record_ had risen to five hundred and forty thousand, of which
Howard's share was nearly three hundred thousand. The next year the profits
were seven hundred and fifty thousand, and Howard had reduced his debt to
eight hundred thousand.
"We shall be free and clear in less than three years," he said to Marian.
"If we have luck," she added.
"No--if we work--and we shall. Luck is a stone which envy flings at
"Then you don't think you have been lucky?"
"Indeed I do not."
"Not even," she smiled, drawing herself up.
"Not even--" he said with a faint, sad answering smile. "If you only knew
how hard I worked preparing myself to be able to get you when you came; if
you only, only knew how life made me pay, pay, pay; if you only knew--"
"Go on," she said, coming closer to him.
He sighed--not for the reason of sentiment which she fancied, though he put
his arms around her. "How willingly I paid," he evaded.
He went to his desk and she stood looking at him. There was still the charm
of youth, even freshness, in her beauty--and she was not unconscious of the
And he--he was handsome, distinguished looking and certainly did not
suggest age or the approach of age; but in his hair, so grey at the
temples, in the stern, rather haughty lines of his features, in the
weariness of his eyes, there was not a vestige of youth. "How he has worked
for me and for his ideals," she thought, sadly yet proudly. "Ah, he is
indeed a great man, and _my_ husband!" And she bent over him and
kissed him on an impulse to a kind of tenderness which was now so strange
to her that it made her feel shy.
"And what a radical you'll be," she laughed, after a moment's silence.
"What a radical, what a democrat!"
"When?" He was flushing a little and avoided her eyes.
"When you're free--really the proprietor--able to express your own views,
all your own views. We shall become outcasts."
"I wonder," he replied slowly, "does a rich man own his property or does it
For an instant he had an impulse of his old longing for sympathy, for
companionship. She was now thirty-six and, save for an expression of
experience, of self-control, seemed hardly so much as thirty. But with the
years, with the habit of self-restraint, with instinctive rather than
conscious realisation of his indifference toward her, had come a chill
perceptible at the surface and permeating her entire character. In her own
way she had become as self-absorbed, as ambitious as he.
He looked at her, felt this chill, sighed, smiled at himself. Yes, he was
alone--and he preferred to be alone.
Through all his scheming and shifting Howard had kept the
_News-Record_ in the main an "organ of the people." Coulter and
Stokely had on many occasions tried to persuade him to change, but he had
stood out. He did not confess to them that his real reason was not his
alleged principles but his cold judgment that the increases in circulation
which produced increases in advertising patronage were dependent upon the
paper's reputation of fearless democracy.
In the fourth year of his ownership he felt that the time had come for the
change, that he could safely slip over to the other side--the side of
wealth and power, the winning side, the side with offices and privileges to
distribute. His debt was so far reduced that he had nothing to fear from
it. A presidential campaign was coming on and was causing unusual
confusion, a general shift of party lines. And he had put the
_News-Record_ in such a position that it could move in any direction
without shock to its readers.
The "great battle" was on--the battle he had in his younger days looked
forward to and longed for--the battle against Privilege and for a
"restoration of government by the people." The candidates were nominated,
the platforms put forward and the issue squarely joined.
The same issue had been involved in previous campaigns; but the statement
of the case by the party opposed to "government of, by and for plutocracy"
had been fantastic, extreme, entangled with social, economic and political
lunacies. And Howard had strengthened the _News-Record_ by refusing to
permit it to "go crazy." Now, however, there was in honesty no reason for
refusing support to the advocates of his professed principles.
But the _News-Record_ was silent. Howard and Marian went away to their
cottage at Newport, and he left rigid instructions that no political
editorials were to be published except those which he might send. There he
got typhoid fever and was at the point of death for two weeks.
Marian gave herself to nursing him, stayed close beside him, read books and
the newspapers to him throughout his convalescence. They were more intimate
than they had been for years. A feeling bearing a remote resemblance to the
love he had once had for her arose out of his weakness and dependence and
his seclusion from the instruments and objects of his ambition. And she
swept aside the barriers she had erected between herself and him and
returned, as nearly as one may, to the love and interest of their early
In the first week of September came Stokely with Senator Hereford, the
chairman of the "Plutocracy" campaign committee.
"I shall not annoy you with evasions," said Hereford, "as Mr. Stokely
assures me that I may speak freely to you, that you personally are with us.
The fact is, our campaign is in a bad way, especially in New York State,
and there especially in New York City."
"You surprise me," said Howard. "All my information has come from the
newspapers which my wife reads me. I had gathered that the victory was all
"We encourage that impression. You know how many weak-kneed fellows there
are who like to be on the winning side. We've been pouring out the money
and stand ready to pour it out like water. But these damned reform
ballot-laws make it hard for us to control the vote. We buy, but we fear
that the goods will not be delivered. Feeling is high against us. Even our
farmers and shopkeepers are acting queerly. And the other fellows have at
last put up a safe man on a conservative platform."
Howard turned his face away. There was still the memory, the now quickened
memory, of his former self to make him wince at being included in such an
"You can't afford to keep silent any longer," Hereford continued. "You've
done the cause a world of good by your silence thus far. You have the
reputation of being the leading popular organ, and your keeping quiet has
meant thousands of votes for us. But the time has come to attack. And you
must attack if we are to carry New York. You can turn the tide in the
state, and--well, we have a very high regard for your genius for making
your points clearly and interestingly. We need your ideas for our editors
and speakers as much as we need your influence."
"I cannot discuss it to-day," Howard answered after a moment's silence. "It
would be a grave step for the _News-Record_ to take. I am not well, as
you see. To-morrow or next day I'll decide. You'll see my answer in the
paper, I think." He closed his eyes with significant weariness.
Hereford looked at him uneasily. Just outside the door Stokely whispered,
"Don't be alarmed. You've got him. He's with us, I tell you."
"I must make sure," whispered Hereford. "I wish to speak to him alone for a
"I beg your pardon, Mr. Howard," he said as he re-entered the room. "I
forgot an important part of my mission. Our candidate authorized me to say
to you on his behalf that he felt sure you would see your duty; that he
esteemed your character and judgment too highly to have any doubts; and
that he intends to show his appreciation of the conscientious, independent
vote which is rallying to his support; in the event of his election, he
feels that he could not do so in a more satisfactory manner than by
offering you either a place in his cabinet or an ambassadorship as you may
As soon as Howard saw Hereford returning, he knew the reason. He had never
before been offered a bribe; but he could not mistake the meaning of
Hereford's bold yet frightened expression. He kept his eyes averted during
the delivery of the long, rambling sentence. At the end, he looked at
Hereford frankly and said in his most gracious manner:
"Thank him for me, will you? And express my appreciation of so high a
compliment from such a man."
Hereford looked relieved, delighted. "I'm glad to have met you, Mr. Howard,
and to have had so satisfactory an interview."
Again outside the door, he muttered gleefully: "Yes, we've him. Otherwise
he would have had his servants kick me down stairs. Gad, no wonder ---- is
on his way to the Presidency, I had a sneaking fear that this fellow might
be sincere. But _he_ saw through him without ever having seen him. I
suppose two men of that stripe instinctively understand each other."
* * * * *
That was on a Sunday afternoon. On the following Wednesday, as Marian came
into Howard's sitting-room with the newspapers, she laughed: "I've been
reading such a speech from your candidate, you radical! I must say I liked
to read it. It was so like you, your very phrases in many places, the
things you used to talk to me before you gave me up as hopeless. Just
And she read him the oration--a reproduction of the Howard she first saw,
the Howard she admired and loved and had never lost. "Isn't it superb?" she
asked at the end. "You must have written it for him. Don't you like it?"
"Very able," was Howard's only comment.
Marian continued to read the paper, glancing from column to column, giving
him the substance of the news. Soon she reached the editorial page. He was
stealthily watching her face. He saw her glance through a few lines of the
leader, start, read on, look in a terrified way at him, and then skip
abruptly to the next page.
"Read me the leader, won't you?" he asked.
"My voice is tired," she pleaded. "I'll read it after awhile."
"Please," he insisted. "I'm especially anxious to hear it."
"I think," she almost stammered, "that somebody has taken advantage of your
illness. I didn't want to tell you until I'd had a chance to think."
"Please read it." His tone was abrupt. She had never heard that tone
She read. It was an assertion of that which her Howard most disbelieved,
most protested against; a defense of the public corruption she had heard
him denounce so often; an attack upon the ideas, the principles, the
elements she had so often heard him eulogize. It was as adroit as it was
detestable, as plausible as it was unprincipled.
When she had done, there was a long silence which he broke. "What do you
think of it?"
"Only a wretch, an enemy of yours could have written it. Who can it have
been?" Her eyes were ablaze and her voice trembled with anger.
"I wrote it," he said.
He did not dare to look at her for a few seconds. Then, with a flimsy mask
of pretended calmness only the more clearly revealing self-contempt and
cowardice, he faced her amazed eyes, her pale cheeks, her parted lips--and
dropped his gaze to the floor.
"You?" she whispered. "You?"
She sat so still that he reached over and touched her hand. It was cold.
She shivered and drew it away. They were silent for a long time--several
minutes. She was looking at his face. It was old and sad and
feeble--pitiful, contemptible. She had never seen those lines of weakness
about his mouth before. She had never before noted that his features had
lost the expression of exalted character, the light of free and independent
manhood which made her look again the first time she saw him. When had the
man she loved departed? When had the new man come? How long had she been
giving herself to a stranger--and _such_ a stranger?
"Yes--I," he repeated. "I have come over to your side." He laughed and she
shivered again. "Well--what do you think?"
"Think?--I?--Oh, I think----"
She burst into tears, flung herself down at his feet and buried her head in
"I think nothing," she sobbed, "except that I--I love you."
He fell to smoothing her hair, slowly, gently, patronisingly. His face was
composed and he was looking down at her trembling head and agitated
shoulders with an absent-minded smile. How easily this once dreaded crisis
had passed! How he had overestimated her! How he had underestimated
His glance and his thoughts soon fastened upon the copy of his newspaper
which she had thrown aside--_his_ newspaper indeed, his creation and
his creature, the epitome of his intellect and character, of his strength
and his weakness. Half a million circulation daily, three quarters of a
million on Sunday--how mighty as a direct influence upon the people! Its
clearness and vigour, its intelligence, its truth-like sophistry--how
mighty as an indirect influence upon the minds of other editors and of
public men! "Power--Success," he repeated to himself in an exaltation of
vanity and arrogance.
Marian lifted her head and, turning, put it against his knee. She reached
out for his hand. He began to speak at once in a low persuasive voice:
"Trust me, dear, can't you? You do not--have not been reading the paper
until recently. You are not interested in politics. There have been many
changes in the few last years. And I too have changed. I am no longer
without responsibilities. They have sobered me, have given me an
appreciation of property, stability, conservatism. Youth is enthusiastic,
theoretical. I have--"
"Ah, but I do trust you," she interrupted eagerly, fearful lest his
explanations would make it the more difficult for her to convince herself
of what she felt she must believe if life were to go on. "And you--I don't
want you to excite yourself. You must be quiet--must get well."
Each avoided meeting the other's eyes as she arranged the pillows for him
before leaving him alone to rest.
The longer she juggled with her discovery the less appalling it seemed. His
line of action fitted too closely to her own ambitions of social
distinction, social leadership. If he had been her lover, the shock would
have killed love and set up contempt in its stead. But he was not her
lover, had not been for years; and to find that her husband was doing a
husband's duty, was winning position and power for himself and therefore
for his wife--that was a disclosure with mitigating aspects at least.
Besides, might she not be in part mistaken? Surely any course so
satisfactory in its results could not be wholly wrong, might perhaps be the
right in an unexpected, unaccustomed form.
French had made a portrait of the new American ambassador to the Court of
St. James and it was shown at the spring exhibition of the Royal Academy.
The ambassador and his wife wished to see how it had been hung, but they
did not wish to be seen. So they chose an early hour of a chill, rainy May
morning to drive in a hansom from their place in Park Lane to Burlington
They found the portrait in Room VI, on the line, in a corner, but where it
had the benefit of such light as there was. When they entered no one was
there; but, as they were standing close to the picture, admiring the energy
and simplicity of the strokes of the master's brush, a crowd swept in and
"Let us go," Howard said in a low tone.
Just then a man, almost at his shoulder because of the pressure of those
behind, said: "Wonderful, isn't it? I've never seen a better example of his
work. He had a subject that suited him perfectly."
"No, let us stay," Marian whispered in reply to her husband. "They can't
see our faces and I'd like to hear."
"Yes, it is superb," came the answer to the man behind them in a voice
unmistakably American. "Now, tell me, Saverhill, what sort of a person
would you say the ambassador is from that picture? You don't know him?"
"Never heard of him until I read of his appointment," replied the first
"I've heard of him often enough," came in the American voice. "But I've
never seen him."
"You know him now," resumed the Englishman, "inside as well as out. French
always paints what he sees and always sees what he's painting."
"Well, what is it?"
"Let us go," whispered Marian. But Howard did not heed her.
"I see--a fallen man. He was evidently a real man once; but he sold
"Yes? Where does it show?"
"He's got a good mind, this fellow-countryman of yours. There are the eyes
of a thinker and a doer. Nothing could have kept him down. His face is
almost as relentless as Kitchener's and fully as aggressive, except that it
shows intellect, and Kitchener's doesn't. Now note the corners of his eyes,
Marshall, and his mouth and nostrils and chin, and you'll see why he sold
himself, and the--the consequences."
Howard and Marian, fascinated, compelled, looked where the unknown
"I think I see what you mean," came in Marshall's voice, laughingly. "But
"Ah, there it all is--hypocrisy, vanity, lack of principle, and, plainest
of all, weakness. It's a common enough type among your successful men. The
man himself is the fixed market price for a certain kind of success. But,
according to French, this ambassador of yours seems to know what he has
paid; and the knowledge doesn't make him more content with his bargain. He
has more brains than vanity; therefore he's an unhappy hypocrite instead of
a happy self-deceiver."
Howard and Marian shrunk together with their heads close in the effort to
make sure of concealing their faces. She was suffering for herself, but
more acutely for him. She knew, as if she were looking into his mind, his
frightful humiliation. "Hereafter," she thought, "whenever any one looks at
him he will feel the thought behind the look."
"How nearly did I come to him?" asked Saverhill.
Howard started and Marian caught the rail for support.
"A centre-shot," replied Marshall, "if the people who know him and have
talked to me about him tell the truth."
"Oh, they're 'on to' him, as you say, over there, are they?"
"No, not everybody. Only his friends and the few who are on the inside.
There's an ugly story going about privately as to how he got the
ambassadorship. They say he was bought with it. But--he's admired and
envied even by a good many who know or suspect that he's only an article of
commerce. He's got the cash and he's got position; and his paper gives him
tremendous power. Then too, as you say, all about him there are men like
himself. The only punishment he's likely to get is the penalty of having to
live with himself."
"A good, round price if French is not mistaken," replied Saverhill.
The two men passed on. Howard and Marian looked guiltily about, then
slipped away in the opposite direction. He helped her into the waiting
hansom. As they were driven homeward she cast a stealthy side-glance at
"Yes," she thought, "the portrait is a portrait of his face; and his face
is a portrait of himself."
He caught her glance in the little mirror in the side of the hansom--caught
it and read it. And he began to hate her, this instrument to his
punishment, this constant remembrancer of his downfall.
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