The Second Generation
David Graham Phillips
Part 3 out of 7
hear," he thought. He had known the persons and the habits of that
household from earliest boyhood. He followed the path round the house
and thus came in sight of a small outbuilding at the far corner of the
yard, on the edge of the bank overlooking and almost overhanging the
river--Dory's "workshop." Its door was open and Arthur could see the
whole of the interior. Dory and a young woman were standing by a bench at
the window, were bending over something in which they seemed to be
absorbed. Not until Arthur stepped upon the doorsill did they lift their
"Hello, Artie!" cried Dory, coming forward with extended hand.
Arthur was taking off his hat and bowing to the young woman. "Hello,
Theo," said he. "How d'ye do, Estelle?"
Miss Wilmot shook hands with him, a shade constrainedly. "How are you,
Arthur?" she said.
It was in his mouth to ask why she hadn't been to see Adelaide. He
checked himself just in time. She and Adelaide were great friends as
youngsters at the public school, but the friendship cooled into
acquaintance as Adelaide developed fashionable ideas and tastes. Also,
Estelle had been almost a recluse since she was seventeen. The rest of
the Wilmots went into Saint X's newly developed but flourishing
fashionable society. They had no money to give return entertainments or
even to pay their share of the joint, dances and card parties Arthur
decided to sheer off. "I came to ask you to the house for sup--dinner
to-night," said he. "It's lonely--just mother and Del and me. Come and
cheer us up. Come along with me now."
Dory looked confused. "I'm afraid I can't," he all but stammered.
"Of course, I can't blame you for not caring about coming." This a
politeness, for Arthur regarded his invitation as an honor.
"Oh, you didn't understand me," protested Dory. "I was thinking of
something entirely different." A pause during which he seemed to be
reflecting. "I'll be glad to come," he finally said.
"You needn't bother to dress," continued Arthur.
Dory laughed--a frank, hearty laugh that showed the perfect white teeth
in his wide, humorous-looking mouth. "Dress!" said he. "My other suit is,
if anything, less presentable than this; and they're all I've got, except
the frock--and I'm miserable in that."
Arthur felt like apologizing for having thus unwittingly brought out
young Hargrave's poverty. "You look all right," said he.
"Thanks," said Dory dryly, his eyes laughing at Arthur.
And, as a matter of fact, though Arthur had not been sincere, Dory did
look "all right." It would have been hard for any drapery not to have set
well on that strong, lithe figure. And his face--especially the eyes--was
so compelling that he would have had to be most elaborately overdressed
to distract attention from what he was to what he wore.
On the way to the Rangers, he let Arthur do the talking; and if Arthur
had been noticing he would have realized that Dory was not listening, but
was busy with his own thoughts. Also Arthur would have noticed that, as
they came round from the stables to the steps at the end of the front
veranda, and as Dory caught sight of Adelaide, half-reclining in the
hammock and playing with Simeon, his eyes looked as if he had been
suddenly brought from the darkness into the light.
"Here's Dory Hargrave, Del," cried Arthur, and went on into the house,
leaving them facing each other.
"So glad you've come," said Adelaide, her tone and manner at their
But as she faced his penetrating eyes, her composure became less assured.
He looked straight at her until her eyes dropped--this while they were
shaking hands. He continued to look, she feeling it and growing more and
"Why did you send for me?" he asked.
She would have liked to deny or to evade; but neither was possible. Now
that he was before her she recalled his habit of compelling her always to
be truthful not only with him but--what was far worse--also with herself.
"Did Arthur tell you I asked him to bring you?" she said, to gain time.
"No," was his reply. "But, as soon as he asked me, I knew."
It irritated her that this young man who was not at all a "man of the
world" should be able so easily to fathom her. She had yet to learn that
"man of the world" means man of a very small and insignificant world,
while Dory Hargrave had been born a citizen of the big world, the real
world--one who understands human beings, because his sympathies are broad
as human nature itself, and his eyes clear of the scales of pretense. He
was an illustration of the shallowness of the talk about the loneliness
of great souls. It is the great souls that alone are not alone. They
understand better than the self-conscious, posing mass of mankind the
weakness and the pettiness of human nature; but they also appreciate its
other side. And in the pettiest creature, they still see the greatness
that is in every human being, in every living thing for that matter, its
majesty of mystery and of potentiality--mystery of its living mechanism,
potentiality of its position as a source of ever-ascending forms of life.
From the protoplasmal cell descends the genius; from the loins of the
sodden toiler chained to the soil springs the mother of genius or genius
itself. And where little people were bored and isolated, Dory Hargrave
could without effort pass the barriers to any human heart, could enter in
and sit at its inmost hearth, a welcome guest. He never intruded; he
never misunderstood; he never caused the slightest uneasiness lest he
should go away to sneer or to despise. Even old John Skeffington was
confidential with him, and would have been friendly had not Dory avoided
Adelaide soon fell under the spell of this genius of his for inspiring
confidence. She had not fully disclosed her plans to herself; she
hesitated at letting herself see what her fury against Theresa and Ross
had goaded her on to resolve. So she had no difficulty in persuading
herself that she had probably sent for Dory chiefly to consult with him.
"There's something I want to talk over with you," said she; "but wait
till after din--supper. Have you and Artie been playing tennis?"
"No, he found me at home. Estelle Wilmot and I were playing with a
"Estelle--she has treated me shamefully," said Adelaide. "I haven't seen
her for more than a year--except just a glimpse as I was driving down
Monroe Street one day. How beautiful she has become! But, then, she
always was pretty. And neither her father nor her mother, nor any of the
rest of the family is especially good-looking. She doesn't in the least
"There probably was a time when her father and mother really loved," said
Dory. "I've often thought that when one sees a beautiful man or woman,
one is seeing the monument to some moment of supreme, perfect happiness.
There are hours when even the meanest creatures see the islands of
enchantment floating in the opal sea."
Adelaide was gazing dreamily into the sunset. It was some time before she
came back, dropped from the impersonal to the personal, which is the
normal attitude of most young people and of all the self-absorbed.
Simeon, who had been inspecting Dory from the far upper end of the
hammock, now descended to the floor of the veranda, and slowly advanced
toward him. Dory put out his hand. "How are you, cousin?" he said,
gravely shaking Simeon's extended paw. Simeon chattered delightedly and
sprang into Dory's lap to nestle comfortably there.
"I always thought you would fall in love with Estelle, some day,"
Adelaide was saying.
Dory looked at Simeon with an ironical smile. "Why does she say those
things to me?" he asked. Simeon looked at Adelaide with a puzzled frown
that said, "Why, indeed?"
"You and Estelle are exactly suited to each other," explained she.
"Exactly unsuited," replied he. "I have nothing that she needs; she has
nothing that I need. And love is an exchange of needs. Now, I have hurt
"Why do you say that?" demanded Adelaide.
"You'd like to feel that your lover came to you empty-handed, asking
everything, humbly protesting that he had nothing to give. And you know
that I--" He smiled soberly. "Sometimes I think you have really nothing I
need or want, that I care for you because you so much need what I can
give. You poor pauper, with the delusion that you are rich!"
"You are frank," said she, smiling, but not liking it.
"And why shouldn't I be? I've given up hope of your ever seeing the
situation as it is. I've nothing to lose with you. Besides, I shouldn't
want you on any false terms. One has only to glance about him to shrink
from the horrors of marriage based on delusions and lies. So, I can
afford to be frank."
She gave him a puzzled look. She had known him all her life; they had
played together almost every day until she was seventeen and went East,
to school, with Janet Whitney. It was while she was at home on her first
long vacation that she had flirted with him, had trapped him into an
avowal of love; and then, having made sure of the truth which her vanity
of conquest and the fascination of his free and frank manliness for her,
though she denied it to herself, had led her on to discover beyond doubt,
she became conscience-stricken. And she confessed to him that she loved
Ross Whitney and was engaged to him; and he had taken the disclosure so
calmly that she almost thought he, like herself, had been simply
flirting. And yet--She dimly understood his creed of making the best of
the inevitable, and of the ridiculousness of taking oneself too
seriously. "He probably has his own peculiar way of caring for a woman,"
she was now reflecting, "just as he has his own peculiar way in every
Arthur came, and their mother; and not until long after supper, when her
father had been got to bed, did she have the chance to continue the
conversation. As soon as she appeared on the veranda, where Dory and
Arthur were smoking, Arthur sauntered away. She was alone with Dory; but
she felt that she had nothing to say to him. The surge of fury against
Ross and Theresa had subsided; also, now that she had seen Theodore
Hargrave again, she realized that he was not the sort of man one tries to
use for the purpose she had on impulse formed, nor she the sort of woman
who, in the deliberateness of the second thought, carries into effect an
impulse to such a purpose.
When they had sat there in the moonlight several minutes in silence, she
said: "I find I haven't anything especial to say to you, after all."
A wait, then from him: "I'm sorry. I had hoped--" He halted.
"Hoped it was off with you and Whitney."
"Has some one been saying it was?" she asked sharply.
"No. I thought I felt it when I first saw you."
"Oh!" she said, enormously relieved. A pause, then constrainedly, "Your
guess was right."
"And was that why you sent for me?"
The assent of silence.
"You thought perhaps you might--care for--me?"
It seemed almost true, with him looking so earnestly and hopefully at
her, and in the moonlight--moonlight that can soften even falsehood until
true and false seem gently to merge. She hesitated to say No. "I don't
know just what I thought," she replied.
But her tone jarred on the young man whose nerves were as sensitive as a
thermostat. "You mean, when you saw me again, you felt you really didn't
care," he said, drawing back so that she could not see his face.
"No," she replied, earnestly and honestly. "Not that." And then she flung
out the truth. "Ross has engaged himself to Theresa Howland, a girl with
a huge big fortune. And I--I--"
"You needn't say it," he interrupted, feeling how it was distressing her
to confess. "I understand."
"I wasn't altogether--wicked," she pleaded. "I didn't think of you wholly
because I thought you cared for me. I thought of you chiefly because I
feel more at home with you than with anyone else. It has always seemed to
me that you see me exactly as I am, with all the pretenses and
meannesses--yet not unkindly, either. And, while you've made me angry
sometimes, when you have refused to be taken in by my best tricks, still
it was as one gets angry with--with oneself. It simply wouldn't last.
And, as you see, I tell you anything and everything."
"You thought you'd engage yourself to me--and see how it worked out?"
"I'm afraid I did."
A pause. She knew what he was going to say next, and waited for him to
say it. At last it came. "Well, now that there's no deception, why
"Somehow, I don't seem to mind--about Ross, so much. It--it was while I
was in with father this evening. You haven't seen him since he became so
ill, but you will understand why he is a rebuke to all mean thoughts. I
suppose I'll be squirming again to-morrow, but to-night I feel--"
"That Ross has done you a great service. That you've lost nothing but a
dangerous illusion; that you have been honorable with him, and all the
wrong and the shame are upon him. You must feel it, for it is true."
Adelaide sighed. "I wish I were strong enough to feel it with my friends
jeering at me, as I can feel it now, Dory."
He moved nearer the hammock in which she was sitting. "Del," he said,
"shall we become engaged, with the condition that we'll not marry unless
we both wish to, when the time comes?"
"But you're doing this only to help me--to help me in a weakness I ought
to be ashamed of."
"Not altogether," he replied. "You on your part give me a chance to win
you. You will look at me differently--and there's a great deal in that, a
very great deal, Del."
She smiled--laughed. "I see what you mean."
But he looked gravely at her. "You promise to do your best to care? An
engagement is a very solemn thing, Del. You promise?"
She put out her hand. "Yes," she answered. And, after a moment, in tones
he would have known meant opportunity had he been less in love with her,
less modest about his own powers where she was concerned, she went on:
"The night you told me you loved me I did not sleep. What you said--what
I saw when you opened your heart to me--oh, Dory, I believed then, and I
believe now, that the reason I have not loved you is because I am not
worthy of you. And I'm afraid I never can--for just that reason."
He laughed and kissed her hand. "If _that's_ all that stands in the way,"
said he, "you'll love me to distraction."
Her spirits went soaring as she realized that she had gained honorably
all she had been tempted to gain by artifice. "But you said a while ago,"
she reminded him mischievously, "that you didn't need me."
"So I did," said he, "but the fox shouldn't be taken too literally as he
talks about the grapes that are out of reach."
Suddenly she was longing for him to take her in his arms and compel her
to feel, and to yield to, his strength and his love. But he, realizing
that he was in danger of losing his self-control, released her hand and
drew away--to burn aloof, when he might have set her on fire.
Ross Whitney found his cousin, Ernest Belden, in the Chicago express
next morning. When they were well on their way, Belden said: "I'm really
sorry it's all off between you and Adelaide, Ross."
Ross was silent, struggling against curiosity. Finally curiosity won.
"How did you know, Ernest?" he asked.
"On the way to the station I met Dory Hargrave looking like a sunrise. I
asked him what was up--you know, he and I are like brothers. And he said:
'I've induced Adelaide Ranger to promise to marry me.' 'Why, I never knew
_you_ cared about her in that way,' said I. And he said: 'There's lots of
things in this world you don't know, Ernest, a lot of _important_ things,
and this is one of 'em. I've never cared about anybody else.'"
Belden had been thinking that the engagement between Ross and Adelaide
was dissolved by mutual consent. A glance at Ross and he changed his
mind; for, Ross was so amazed at Adelaide's thus challenging him--it
could be nothing more than an audacious challenge--that he showed it. "I
beg your pardon, old man," Belden said impulsively. "I didn't appreciate
that I was making a prying brute of myself."
Ross decided that a "gentleman" would be silent under the suspicion of
having been jilted, and that therefore _he_ must be silent--on that
subject. "Not at all," said he. "I suppose you haven't heard yet that I'm
engaged to Miss Howland, of Chicago."
"Ah--Really--I congratulate you," said Belden.
And Ross, seeing that his cousin understood precisely what he had
intended he should, felt meaner than ever.
THE LONG FAREWELL
Not until Adelaide told Arthur and saw the expression that succeeded his
first blank stare of incredulity did she realize what the world, her
"world," would think of her engagement to Theodore Hargrave. It was
illuminative of her real character and of her real mind as to Ross, and
as to Dory also, that, instead of being crushed by her brother's look of
downright horror, she straightway ejected the snobbish suggestions with
which her vanity had been taunting her, and called her heart, as well as
her pride, to the defense of Dory.
"You're joking," said Arthur, when he was able to articulate; "and a
mighty poor joke it is. Dory! Why, Del, it's ridiculous. And in place of
"Be careful what you say, Artie," she warned in a quiet, ominous tone,
with that in her eyes which should in prudence have halted him. "I am
engaged to Dory, remember."
"Nonsense!" cried Arthur. "Why, he hasn't a cent, except his beggarly
salary as professor at that little jay college. And even if he should
amount to something some day, he'll never have anything or any standing
in society. I thought you had pride, Del. Just wait till I see him! I'll
let him know what I think of his impudence. Of course, I don't blame him.
Naturally, he wants to get up in the world. But _you_--" Arthur's laugh
was a sneer--"And I thought you were _proud_!"
From Del's eyes blazed that fury which we reserve for those we love when
they exasperate us. "Shame on you, Arthur Ranger!" she exclaimed. "Shame
on you! See what a snob you have become. Except that he's poor, Dory
Hargrave has the advantage of any man we know. He's got more in his head
any minute than you or your kind in your whole lives. And he is honorable
and a gentleman--a _real_ gentleman, not a pretender. You aren't big
enough to understand him; but, at least, you know that if it weren't for
your prospects from father, you wouldn't be in the same class with him.
_He_ is somebody in himself. But you--and--and your kind--what do _you_
amount to, in yourselves?"
Arthur lowered at her. "So this is what you've been leading up to,
with all the queer talk you've been giving me on and off, ever since
we came home."
That remark seemed to Adelaide for an instant to throw a flood of light
in amazing revelation upon her own innermost self. "I believe it is!" she
exclaimed, as if dazed. Then the light seemed to go, seemed to have been
only imaginary. It is not until we are much older than Del then was, that
we learn how our acts often reveal us to ourselves.
"So you're in love with Dory," scoffed Arthur. "You're a wonder--you are!
To go about the world and get education and manners and culture, and then
to come back to Saint X and take up with a jay--a fellow that's never
"Physically, he hasn't traveled much," said Del, her temper curiously
and suddenly restored. "But mentally, Artie, dear, he's been distances
and to places and in society that your poor brain would ache just at
"You've lost your senses!"
"No, dear," replied Del sweetly; "on the contrary, I've put myself in the
way of finding them."
"You needn't 'bluff' with me," he retorted. He eyed her suspiciously.
"There's some mystery in this."
Del showed that the chance shot had landed; but, instantly recovering
herself, she said: "It may interest you to know that a while ago, when
I told you I was engaged to him, I felt a little uneasy. You see, I've
had a long course at the same school that has made such a gentleman of
you. But, as the result of your talk and the thoughts it suggested, I
haven't a doubt left. I'd marry Dory Hargrave now, if everybody in the
world opposed me. Yes, the more opposition, the prouder I'll be to be
"What's the matter, children?" came in their mother's voice. "What are
you quarreling about?" Mrs. Ranger was hurrying through the room on her
way to the kitchen; she was too used to heated discussions between them
to be disturbed.
"What do you think of this, mother?" almost shouted Arthur. "Del here
says she's engaged to Dory Hargrave!"
Mrs. Ranger stopped short. "Gracious!" she ejaculated.
She felt for her "specs," drew them down from her hair, and hastily
adjusted them for a good look, first at Arthur, then at Del. She looked
long at Del, who was proudly erect and was at her most beautiful best,
eyes glittering and cheeks aglow. "Have you and Ross had a falling out,
Del?" she asked.
"No, mother," replied Adelaide; "but we--we've broken our engagement,
and--What Artie says is true."
No one spoke for a full minute, though the air seemed to buzz with
the thinking and feeling. Then, Mrs. Ranger: "Your father mustn't
hear of this."
"Leave me alone with mother, Artie," commanded Adelaide.
Arthur went, pausing in the doorway to say: "I'm sorry to have hurt you,
Del. But I meant every word, only not in anger or meanness. I know you
won't do it when you've thought it over."
When Arthur had had time to get far enough away, Adelaide said: "Mother,
I want you to hear the whole truth--or as much of it as I know myself.
Ross came and broke off our engagement so that he could marry Theresa
Howland. And I've engaged myself to Dory--partly to cover it, but not
altogether, I hope. Not principally, I believe. I'm sick and ashamed of
the kind of things I've been so crazy about these last few years. Before
this happened, before Ross came, being with father and thinking over
everything had made me see with different eyes. And I--I want to try to
be--what a woman ought to be."
Ellen Ranger slowly rolled her front hair under her fingers. At length
she said: "Well--I ain't sorry you've broke off with Ross. I've been
noticing the Whitneys and their goings on for some time. I saw they'd got
clean out of _my_ class, and--I'm glad my daughter hasn't. There's a
common streak in those Whitneys. I never did like Ross, though I never
would have said anything, as you seemed to want him, and your father had
always been set on it, and thought so high of him. He laid himself out to
make your pa think he was a fine character and full of business--and I
ain't denying that he's smart, mighty smart--too smart to suit me." A
long reflective pause, then: "But--Dory--Well, my advice is to think it
over before you jump clear in. Of course, you'll have enough for both,
but I'd rather see you taking up with some man that's got a good
business. Teachin' 's worse than preachin' as a business. Still, there's
plenty of time to think about that. You're only engaged."
"Teachin' 's worse than preachin'"--Adelaide's new, or, rather, revived
democracy was an aspiration rather than an actuality, was--as to the part
above the soil, at least--a not very vigorous looking forced growth
through sordid necessity. In this respect it was like many, perhaps most,
human aspirations--and, like them, it was far more likely to wither than
to flourish. "Teachin' 's worse than preachin'"--Del began to slip
dismally down from the height to which Arthur's tactless outburst had
blown her. Down, and down, and down, like a punctured balloon--gently,
but steadily, dishearteningly. She was ashamed of herself, as ashamed as
any reader of these chronicles is for her--any reader with one standard
for judging other people and another for judging himself. To the credit
of her character must be set down her shame at her snobbishness. The
snobbishness itself should not be set down to her discredit, but should
be charged up to that class feeling, as old as property, and fostered
and developed by almost every familiar fact in our daily environment.
"I shouldn't be surprised but your father'd be glad, if he knew," her
mother was saying. "But it's no use to risk telling him. A shock
might--might make him worse." She started up. "I must go to him. I
came to send you, while I was looking after Mary and the dinner, and I
She hurried away. Adelaide sat thinking, more and more forlorn, though
not a whit less determined. "I ought to admire him more than I did Ross,
and I ought to want to marry him--and I _will_!"
The birds had stopped singing in the noonday heat. The breeze had died
down. Outdoors, in the house, there was not a sound. She felt as if she
must not, could not breathe. The silence, like a stealthy hand, lifted
her from her chair, drew her tiptoeing and breathless toward the room in
which her father was sitting. She paused at its threshold, looked. There
was Hiram, in his chair by the window, bolt upright, eyes open and
gazing into the infinite. Beside that statue of the peace eternal knelt
Ellen, a worn, wan, shrunken figure, the hands clasped, the eyes closed,
the lips moving.
"Mother! Mother!" cried Del.
Her mother did not hear. She was moaning, "I believe, Lord, I believe!
Help Thou my unbelief!"
"THROUGH LOVE FOR MY CHILDREN"
On the day after the funeral, Mrs. Ranger and the two children and young
Hargrave were in the back parlor, waiting for Judge Torrey to come and
read the will. The well-meant intrusions, the services, the burial--all
those barbarous customs that stretch on the rack those who really love
the dead whom society compels them publicly to mourn--had left cruel
marks on Adelaide and on Arthur; but their mother seemed unchanged. She
was talking incessantly now, addressing herself to Dory, since he alone
was able to heed her. Her talk was an almost incoherent stream, as if she
neither knew nor cared what she was saying so long as she could keep that
stream going--the stream whose sound at least made the voice in her
heart, the voice of desolation, less clear and terrible, though not less
There was the beat of a man's footsteps on the side veranda. Mrs. Ranger
started up, listened, sat again. "Oh," she said, in the strangest tone,
and with a hysterical little laugh, "I thought it was your father coming
home to dinner!" Then from her throat issued a stifled cry like nothing
but a cry borne up to the surface from a deep torture-chamber. And she
was talking on again--with Adelaide sobbing and Arthur fighting back the
tears. Hargrave went to the door and admitted the old lawyer.
He had a little speech which he always made on such occasions; but
to-day, with the knowledge of the astounding contents of that will on his
mind, his lips refused to utter it. He simply bowed, seated himself, and
opened the document. The old-fashioned legal phrases soon were steadying
him as the harness steadies an uneasy horse; and he was monotonously and
sonorously rolling off paragraph after paragraph. Except the judge, young
Hargrave was the only one there who clearly understood what those wordy
provisions meant. As the reading progressed Dory's face flushed a deep
red which slowly faded, leaving him gray and haggard. His father's
beloved project! _His_ father's! To carry out his father's project,
Arthur and Adelaide, the woman he loved and her brother, were to lose
their inheritance. He could not lift his eyes. He felt that they were all
looking at him, were hurling reproaches and denunciations.
Presently Judge Torrey read: "I make this disposal of my estate through
my love for my children and because I have firm belief in the soundness
of their character, and in their capacity to do and to be. I feel they
will be better off without the wealth which would tempt my son to relax
his efforts to make a useful man of himself and would cause my daughter
to be sought for her fortune instead of for herself."
At the words "without the wealth," Arthur shifted sharply in his chair,
and both he and Adelaide looked at Judge Torrey in puzzled wonder. The
judge read on, read the names of signer and witnesses, then laid the will
down and stared gloomily at it. Mrs. Ranger said: "And now, judge, can
you tell us in plain words just what it means?"
With many a pause and stammer the old lawyer made it clear: the house and
its contents and appurtenances, and seven thousand a year to the widow
for life; two thousand a year to Adelaide; five thousand in cash to
Arthur and the chance to earn the mill and factory; the rest, practically
the whole estate, to Tecumseh University.
"Any further questions?" he asked, breaking the silence that followed his
No one spoke.
Still without looking at anyone, he put away his glasses? "Then I
guess I'll be going. It won't be necessary to do anything further for
a day or two."
And, with face like that of criminal slinking from scene of crime, he
got himself to the door by a series of embarrassed bows and shuffling
steps. Outside, he wiped the streaming sweat from his forehead. "It
wasn't my fault," he muttered, as if some one were accusing him. Then, a
little further from the house, "I ain't sure Hiram hasn't done right.
But, God help me, I couldn't never save _my_ children at such a price."
He was clear of the grounds before Adelaide, the first to move, cast a
furtive glance at her brother. Her own disaster was swallowed up for her
in the thought of how he had been struck down. But she could read nothing
in his face. He was simply gazing straight ahead, and looking _so_ like
his father at his most unfathomable. As soon as he had fully realized
what the will meant, his nerves had stopped feeling and his brain had
stopped thinking. Adelaide next noted Dory, and grew cold from head to
foot. All in a rush it came over her how much she had relied upon her
prospective inheritance, how little upon herself. What would Dory think
of her _now_? And Ross--what a triumph for him, what a narrow escape! Had
he suspected? Had others in the town known that of which they of the
family were in complete ignorance? Oh, the horror of the descent--the
horror of the rude snatching away of the golden aureole! "Father, father,
how could you do it? How could you hurt us so?" she muttered. Then, up
before her rose his face with that frightful look in the eyes. "But how
doing it made _him_ suffer!" she thought. And the memory of those hours
on hours she had spent with him, buried alive, flooded over her. "Doing
it killed him!" she said to herself.
She felt cruel fingers grinding into her arm. With a sharp cry she sprang
up. Her brother was facing her, his features ablaze with all the evil
passions in his untrained and unrestrained nature. "_You knew_!" he
hissed. "You traitor! You knew he was doing this. You honeyfugled him.
And you and Hargrave get it all!"
Adelaide shrank as she would not have shrunk under a lash.
"O Arthur! Arthur!" she cried, clasping her hands and stretching them
"You admit it, do you?" he shouted, seizing her by the shoulders like a
madman. "Yes, your guilty face admits it. But I'll undo your work. I'll
break the will. Such an outrage as that, such a robbery, won't stand in
court for a minute."
Dory had risen, was moving to fling the brother from the sister; but Mrs.
Ranger was before him. Starting up from the stupor into which Judge
Torrey's explanation had thrown her, she thrust herself between her
children. "Arthur!" she said, and her voice was quiet and solemn. "Your
father is dead." She drew herself up, and facing her son in her widow's
black, seemed taller than he. "If I had needed any proof that he was
right about what he did with his own," she went on, "I'd have found it in
your face and in what you just said to your sister. Go to the glass
there, boy! Look at your face and remember your words!"
Young Hargrave left the room, went to the garden where they could see him
from the windows and call him if they wished. Arthur hung his head before
his mother's gaze. "It isn't _his_ will," he muttered. "Father in his
right mind would never have made such a will."
"He never would have made such a will if his children had been in their
right mind," replied his mother sternly; and sternness they had never
before seen in those features or heard in that voice. "I know now what he
was broodin' over for weeks. Yes--" and her voice, which rose shrill, was
the shriek of the tempest within her--"and I know now what made him
break so sudden. I noticed you both driftin' off into foolishness,
ashamed of the ways of your parents, ashamed of your parents, too. But I
didn't give no attention to it, because I thought it was the silliness of
children and that you'd outgrow it. But _he_ always did have a good head
on him, and he saw that you were ridin' loose-rein to ruin--to be like
them Whitneys. Your pa not in his right mind? I see _God_ in that will."
She paused, but only for breath to resume: "And you, Arthur Ranger, what
was in your head when you came here to-day? Grief and love and
willingness to carry out your dead father's last wishes? No! You came
thinking of how you were to benefit by his death. Don't deny! I saw your
face when you found you weren't going to get your father's money."
"Mother!" exclaimed Arthur.
She waved him down imperiously; and he was afraid before her, before her
outraged love for her outraged dead. "Take care how you stamp on my
Hiram's grave, Arthur Ranger!"
"He didn't mean it--you know he didn't," pleaded Adelaide. At that moment
she could not think of this woman as her mother, but only as the wife,
But Ellen's instinct told her that her son, though silent, was still in
traitorous rebellion against her idol. And she kept on at him: "With
Hiram hardly out of the house, you've forgot all he did for you, all he
left you--his good name, his good example. You think only of his money.
I've heard you say children owe nothing to their parents, that parents
owe everything to the children. Well, that's so. But it don't mean what
you think. It don't mean that parents ought to _ruin_ their children.
And your pa didn't spare himself to do his duty by you--not even though
it killed him. Yes, it killed him! You'd better go away and fall on your
knees and ask God to forgive you for having shortened your father's
life. And I tell you, Arthur Ranger, till you change your heart, you're
no son of mine."
"Mother! Mother!" cried Arthur, rushing from the room.
Mrs. Ranger looked vacantly at the place where he had been, dropped into
a chair and burst into a storm of tears.
"Call him back, mother," entreated Del.
"No! no!" sobbed Ellen Ranger. "He spoke agin' my dead! I'll not forgive
him till his heart changes."
Adelaide knelt beside her mother and tried to put her arms around her.
But her mother shrank away. "Don't touch me!" she cried; "leave me
alone. God forgive me for having bore children that trample on their
father's grave. I'll put you both out of the house--" and she started up
and her voice rose to a shriek. "Yes--I'll put you both out! Your
foolishness has ate into you like a cancer, till you're both rotten. Go
to the Whitneys. Go among the lepers where you belong. You ain't fit for
She pushed Adelaide aside, and with uncertain steps went into the hall
and up toward her own room.
Adelaide was about to go in search of her brother when he came hunting
her. A good example perhaps excepted, there is no power for good equal to
a bad example. Arthur's outburst before his mother and her, and in what
seemed the very presence of the dead, had been almost as potent in
turning Adelaide from bitterness as the influence her father's
personality, her father's character had got over her in his last illness.
And now the very sight of her brother's face, freely expressing his
thoughts, since Ellen was not there to shame him, gave double force to
the feelings her mother's denunciations had roused in her. "We've got to
fight it, Del," Arthur said, flinging himself down on the grass at her
feet. "I'll see Torrey to-morrow morning."
Adelaide was silent.
He looked fiercely at her. "You're going to help me, aren't you?"
"I must have time to think," she replied, bent on not provoking him to
He raised himself to a sitting posture. "What has that Hargrave fellow
been saying to you?" he cried. "You'll have to break off with him. His
father--the old scoundrel!--got at father and took advantage of his
illness and his religious superstition. I know just how it was done.
We'll bring it all out."
Adelaide did not answer.
"What did Dory say to you?" repeated Arthur.
"He went as soon as I came out from mother," she replied. She thought it
best not to tell him that Dory had stopped long enough to urge her to go
to her brother, and to make and keep peace with him, no matter what he
might say to anger her. "Don't you think," she continued, "that you ought
to see Janet and talk with her?"
Artie sank back and stared somberly at the ground.
"When is she coming?" asked his sister.
"I don't know," he answered surlily. "Not at all, perhaps. The Whitneys
won't especially care about having any of us in the family now." He
looked furtively at Adelaide, as if he hoped she would protest that he
was mistaken, would show him that Janet would be unchanged.
"Mrs. Whitney won't," said Adelaide. "But Janet--she's different, I
think. She seems to be high-minded, and I believe she loves you."
Arthur looked relieved, though Adelaide was too honest to have been able
to make her tone as emphatic as her words. Yes, Janet was indeed
high-minded, he said to himself; did indeed love him. Her high-mindedness
and the angel purity of her love had often made him uneasy, not to say
uncomfortable. He hated to be at the trouble of pretenses; but Janet,
living on a far higher plan than he, had simply compelled it. To let her
see his human weaknesses, to let her suspect that he was not as
high-minded as she told him he was, to strip from himself the saintly
robes and the diadem with which she had adorned him--well, he would put
it off until after marriage, he had always told himself, and perhaps by
that time he would feel a little less like a sinner profaning a sanctuary
when he kissed her. He had from time to time found in himself a sinful
longing that she were just a little less of an angel, just a little more
of a fellow sinner--not too much, of course, for a man wants a pure wife,
a pure mother for his children. But, while the attitudes of worship and
of saintliness were cramped, often severely so, still on the whole Arthur
had thought he was content with Janet just as she was.
"Why don't you go to Chicago and see her?" suggested Adelaide. "You ought
to talk with her before anyone else has a chance. I wouldn't put
_anything_ past her mother."
"That's a good idea!" exclaimed Arthur, his face clearing before the
prospect of action. "I'll take the night train. Yes, I must be the one to
Adelaide had a sense of relief. Arthur would see Janet; Janet would
pour balm upon his wounds, would lift him up to a higher, more generous
view. Then, whatever he might do would be done in the right spirit,
with respect for the memory of their father, with consideration for
"You had better not see mother again until you come back," she suggested.
His face shadowed and shame came into it that was from the real Arthur
Ranger, the son of Hiram and Ellen. "I wish I hadn't burst out as I did,
Del," he said. "I forgot everything in my own wrongs. I want to try to
make it all right with mother. I can't believe that I said what I
remember I did say before her who'd be glad to die for us."
"Everything'll be all right when you come back, Artie," she assured him.
As they passed the outbuilding where the garden tools were kept they both
glanced in. There stood the tools their father had always used in
pottering about the garden, above them his old slouch and old straw hats.
Arthur's lip quivered; Adelaide caught her breath in a sob. "O Artie,"
she cried brokenly, "He's gone--gone--gone for ever." And Artie sat on
the little bench just within the door and drew Del down beside him, and,
each tightly in the other's arms, they cried like the children that they
were, like the children that we all are in face of the great tragedy.
A handsome and touching figure was Arthur Ranger as he left his cab and
slowly ascended the lawn and the steps of the Whitney palace in the Lake
Drive at eleven the next morning. His mourning garments were most
becoming to him, contrasting with the fairness of his hair, the blue of
his eyes, and the pallor of his skin. He looked big and strong and sad,
and scrupulously fashionable, and very young.
The Whitneys were leading in Chicago in building broad and ever broader
the barriers, not between rich and poor, but between the very, very rich
and all the rest of the world. Mrs. Whitney had made a painstaking and
reverent study of upper-class life in England and on the Continent, and
was endeavoring to use her education for the instruction of her
associates, and for the instilling of a proper awe into the multitude. To
enter her door was at once to get the impression that one was receiving a
high privilege. One would have been as greatly shocked as was Mrs.
Whitney herself, could one have overheard "Charley" saying to her, as he
occasionally did, with a grin which he strove to make as "common" as he
knew how, "Really, Tillie, if you don't let up a little on this putting
on dog, I'll have to take to sneaking in by the back way. The butler's a
sight more of a gent than I am, and the housekeeper can give you points
on being a real, head-on-a-pole-over-the-shoulder lady." A low fellow at
heart was Charley Whitney, like so many of his similarly placed
compatriots, though he strove as hard as do they, almost as hard as his
wife, to conceal the deficiencies due to early training in vulgarly
democratic ways of living and thinking.
Arthur, ushered by the excruciatingly fashionable butler into the
smallest of the series of reception _salons_, fell straightway into the
most melancholy spirits. He felt the black, icy shadow of the beginnings
of doubt as to his right to admittance on terms of equality, now that his
titles to nobility had been torn from him and destroyed. He felt that he
was in grave danger of being soon mingled in the minds of his fashionable
friends and their servants with the vulgar herd, the respectable but
"impossible" middle classes. Indeed, he was not sure that he didn't
really belong among them. The sound of Janet's subdued, most elegant
rustle, drove out of his mind everything but an awful dread of what she
would say and think and feel when he had disclosed to her the hideous
truth. She came sweeping in, her eyes full of unshed tears, her manner a
model of refined grief, sympathetic, soothing. She was tall and slim, a
perfect figure of the long, lithe type; her face was small and fine and
dreamy; her hair of an unusual straw color, golden, yet pale, too, like
the latest autumn leaves in the wan sun of November; her eyes were hazel,
in strange and thrilling contrast to her hair. To behold her was to
behold all that man finds most fascinating in woman, but so illumined by
the soul within that to look on it with man's eye for charms feminine
seemed somewhat like casting sensuous glances upon beauty enmarbled in a
temple's fane. Janet was human, but the human that points the way to
"_Dear_ Artie!" she said gently. "_Dear_ Artie!" And she took both his
hands and, as she looked at him, her tears fell. Arthur, in his new
humility of poverty, felt honored indeed that any loss of his could
cause her matchless soul thus to droop upon its dazzling outer walls
the somber, showery insignia of grief. "But," she went on, "you have
him still with you--his splendid, rugged character, the memory of all
he did for you."
Arthur was silent. They were seated now, side by side, and he was,
somewhat timidly, holding one of her hands.
"He was so simple and so honest--such a _man_!" she continued. "Does it
hurt you, dear, for me to talk about him?"
"No--no," he stammered, "I came to you--to--to--talk about him." Then,
desperately, seizing her other hand and holding both tightly, "Janet,
would it make any difference with you if I--if I--no--What am I saying?
Janet, I release you from our engagement. I--I--have no prospects," he
rushed on. "Father--They got round him and wheedled him into leaving
everything to the college--to Tecumseh. I have nothing--I must give you
up. I can't ask you to wait--and--"
He could not go on. He longed for the throbbing, human touch that beauty
of hers could make so thrilling. But she slowly drew away her hands. Her
expression made him say:
"What is it, Janet? What have I said that hurt you?"
"Did you come," she asked, in a strange, distant voice, "because you
thought your not having money would make a difference with me?"
"No," he protested, in wild alarm. "It was only that I feel I--"
"You feel that there could be a question of money between us?" she
"Not between _us_, Janet," he said eagerly; "but there is
"I beg you," she replied coldly, "not to speak of mamma in that way to
me, even if you have such unjust thoughts of her."
Arthur looked at her uncertainly. He had an instinct, deep down, that
there was something wrong--something in her that he was not fathoming.
But in face of that cloud-dwelling beauty, he could only turn and look
within himself. "I beg your pardon, dear," he said. "You know so little
of the practical side of life. You live so apart from it, so high above
it, that I was afraid I'd be doing wrong by you if I did not put that
side of it before you, too. But in the bottom of my heart I knew you
would stand by me."
She remained cold. "I don't know whether I'm glad or sorry, Arthur, that
you let me see into your real self. I've often had doubts about our
understanding each other, about our two natures being in that perfect
harmony which makes the true marriage. But I've shut out those doubts as
disloyal to you. Now, you've forced me to see they were only too true!"
"What do you mean, Janet? Of course, I'm not good enough for you--no one
is, for that matter; but I love you, and--Do you care for me, Janet?"
"Yes," she replied mournfully. "But I must conquer it. O Arthur, Arthur!"
Her voice was tremulous now, and her strange hazel eyes streamed
sorrowful reproach. "How could you think sordidly of what was sacred and
holy to me, of what I thought was holy to us both? You couldn't, if you
had been the man I imagined you were."
"Don't blame a fellow for every loose word he utters when he's all upset,
Janet," he pleaded. "Put yourself in my place. Suppose you found you
hadn't anything at all--found it out suddenly, when all along you had
been thinking you'd never have to bother about money? Suppose you--But
you must know how the world, how all our friends, look on that sort of
thing. And suppose you loved--just as I love you. Wouldn't you go to her
and hope she'd brace you up and make you feel that she really loved you
and--all that? Wouldn't you, Janet?"
She looked sadly at him. "You don't understand," she said, her rosebud
mouth drooping pathetically. "You can't realize how you shook--how you
_shattered_--my faith in you."
He caught her by the arms roughly. "Look here, Janet Whitney. Do you love
me or don't you? Do you intend to throw me over, now that I have lost my
money, or do you intend to be all you've pretended to be?"
The sadness in her sweet face deepened. "Let me go, Arthur," she said
quietly. "You don't understand. You never will."
"Yes or no?" he demanded, shaking her. Then suddenly changing to
tenderness, with all his longing for sympathy in his eyes and in his
voice, "Janet--dear--yes or no?"
She looked away. "Don't persist, Arthur," she said, "or you will make me
think it is only my money that makes you, that made you, pretend to--to
care for me."
He drew back sharply. "Janet!" he exclaimed.
"Of course, I don't think so," she continued, after a constrained
silence. "But I can't find any other reason for your talking and acting
as you have this morning."
He tried to see from her point of view. "Maybe it's true," he said, "that
other things than our love have had too much to do with it, with both of
us, in the past. But I love you for yourself alone, now, Janet. And, you
haven't a fortune of your own, but only expectations--and they're not
always realized, and in your case can't be for many a year. So we don't
start so unevenly. Give yourself to me, Janet. Show that you believe in
me, and I know I shall not disappoint you."
Very manly his manner was as he said this, and brave and convincing was
the show of his latent, undeveloped powers in his features and voice.
She hesitated, then lowered her head, and, in a sad, gentle voice,
said, "I don't trust you, Arthur. You've cut away the foundation of
love. It would be fine and beautiful for us to start empty-handed and
build up together, if we were in sympathy and harmony. But, doubting
Again he looked at her uneasily, suspicious, without knowing why or what.
But one thing was clear--to plead further with her would be
self-degradation. "I have been tactless," he said to her. "Probably, if I
were less in earnest, I should get on better. But, perhaps you will judge
me more fairly when you think it over. I'll say only one thing more. I
can't give up hope. It's about all I've got left--hope of you--belief in
you. I must cling to that. I'll go now, Janet."
She said nothing, simply looked unutterable melancholy, and let her hand
lie listlessly in his until he dropped it. He looked back at her when he
reached the door. She seemed so sad that he was about to return to her
side. She sighed heavily, gazed at him, and said, "Good-by, Arthur."
After that he had no alternative. He went. "I must wait until she is
calm," he said to himself. "She is so delicately strung."
As he was driving toward the hotel, his gloom in his face, he did not see
Mrs. Whitney dash past and give him an anxious searching glance, and sink
back in her carriage reassured somewhat. She had heard that he was on the
Chicago express--had heard it from her _masseuse_, who came each morning
before she was up. She had leaped to the telephone, had ordered a special
train, and had got herself into it and off for her Chicago home by
half-past eight. "That sentimental girl, full of high ideals--what mayn't
she do!" she was muttering, almost beside herself with anxiety. "No doubt
he'll try and induce her to run away with him." And the rushing train
seemed to creep and crawl.
She burst into the house like a dignified whirlwind. "Where's Miss
Janet?" she demanded of the butler.
"Still in the blue _salon_, ma'am, I think," he replied. "Mr. Arthur
Ranger just left a few moments ago."
Clearing her surface of all traces of agitation, Mrs. Whitney went into
the presence of her daughter. "Mamma!" cried Janet, starting up. "Has
"Nothing, nothing, dear," replied her mother, kissing her tenderly. "I
was afraid my letter might have miscarried. And, when I heard that Arthur
had slipped away to Chicago, I came myself. I've brought you up so purely
and innocently that I became alarmed lest he might lead you into some
rash sentimentality. As I said in my letter, if Arthur had grown up into
a strong, manly character, I should have been eager to trust my daughter
to him. But my doubts about him were confirmed by the will. And--he is
simply a fortune-hunter now."
Janet had hidden her face in her handkerchief. "Oh, no!" she exclaimed.
"You wrong him, mother."
"You haven't encouraged him, Janet!" cried Mrs. Whitney. "After what I've
been writing you?"
"The loss of his money hasn't made any difference about him with me,"
said Janet, her pure, sweet face lighting up with the expression that
made her mother half-ashamed of her own worldliness.
"Of course not! Of course not, Janet," said she. "No child of mine could
be mercenary without being utterly false to my teachings."
Janet's expression was respectful, yet not confirmatory. She had often
protested inwardly against the sordid views of life which her mother
unconsciously held and veiled with scant decency in the family circle in
her unguarded moments. But she had fought against the contamination, and
proudly felt that her battle for the "higher plane" was successful.
Her mother returned, somewhat awkwardly, to the main point. "I hope you
didn't encourage him, Janet."
"I don't wish to talk of it, mother," was Janet's reply. "I have not been
well, and all this has upset me."
Mrs. Whitney was gnawing her palms with her nails and her lip with her
teeth. She could scarcely restrain herself from seizing her daughter and
shaking the truth, whatever it was, out of her. But prudence and respect
for her daughter's delicate soul restrained her.
"You have made it doubly hard for me," Janet went on. "Your writing me to
stay away because there was doubt about Arthur's material future--oh,
mother, how could that make any difference? If I had not been feeling so
done, and if father hadn't been looking to me to keep him company, I'd
surely have gone. For I hate to have my motive misunderstood."
"He has worked on her soft-heartedness and inexperience," thought Mrs.
Whitney, in a panic.
"And when Arthur came to-day," the girl continued, "I was ready to fly to
him." She looked tragic. "And even when he repulsed me--"
"_Repulsed_ you!" exclaimed Mrs. Whitney. She laughed disagreeably. "He's
subtler than I thought."
"Even when he repulsed me," pursued Janet, "with his sordid way of
looking at everything, still I tried to cling to him, to shut my eyes."
Mrs. Whitney vented an audible sigh of relief. "Then you didn't let him
"He shattered my last illusion," said Janet, in a mournful voice.
"Mother, I simply _couldn't_ believe in him, in the purity of his love. I
had to give him up."
Mrs. Whitney put her arms round her daughter and kissed her soothingly
again and again. "Don't grieve, dear," she said. "Think how much better
it is that you should have found him out now than when it was too late."
And Janet shuddered.
* * * * *
Ross dropped in at the house in the Lake Drive the next morning on his
way East from the Howlands. As soon as he was alone with his mother, he
asked, "How about Janet and Arthur?"
Mrs. Whitney put on her exalted expression. "I'm glad you said nothing
before Janet," said she. "The child is so sensitive, and Arthur has given
her a terrible shock. Men are so coarse; they do not appreciate the
delicateness of a refined woman. In this case, however, it was most
fortunate. She was able to see into his true nature."
"Then she's broken it off? That's good."
"Be careful what you say to her," his mother hastened to warn him. "You
might upset her mind again. She's so afraid of being misunderstood."
"She needn't be," replied Ross dryly.
And when he looked in on Janet in her sitting room to say good-by, he
began with a satirical, "Congratulations, Jenny."
Jenny looked at him with wondering eyes. She was drooping like a sunless
flower and was reading poetry out of a beautifully bound volume. "What is
it, Ross?" she asked.
"On shaking Artie so smoothly. Trust you to do the right thing at the
right time, and in the right way. You're a beauty, Jen, and no mistake,"
laughed Ross. "I never saw your like. You really must marry a
title--Madame la Duchesse! And nobody's on to you but me. You aren't
even on to yourself!"
Janet drew up haughtily and swept into her bedroom, closing the door with
_almost_ coarse emphasis.
ARTHUR FALLS AMONG LAWYERS
Arthur ended his far from orderly retreat at the Auditorium, and in the
sitting room of his suite there set about re-forming his lines, with some
vague idea of making another attack later in the day--one less timid and
blundering. "I'd better not have gone near her," said he disgustedly.
"How could a man win when he feels beaten before he begins?" He was not
now hazed by Janet's beauty and her voice like bells in evening quiet,
and her mystic ideas. Youth, rarely wise in action, is often wise in
thought; and Arthur, having a reasoning apparatus that worked uncommonly
well when he set it in motion and did not interfere with it, was soon
seeing his situation as a whole much as it was--ugly, mocking, hopeless.
"Maybe Janet knows the real reason why she's acting this way, maybe she
don't," thought he, with the disposition of the inexperienced to give the
benefit of even imaginary doubt. "No matter; the fact is, it's all up
between us." This finality, unexpectedly staring at him, gave him a
shock. "Why," he muttered, "she really has thrown me over! All her talk
was a blind--a trick." And, further exhibiting his youth in holding the
individual responsible for the system of which the individual is merely a
victim, usually a pitiable victim, he went to the opposite extreme and
fell to denouncing her--cold-hearted and mercenary like her mother, a
coward as well as a hypocrite--for, if she had had any of the bravery of
self-respect, wouldn't she have been frank with him? He reviewed her in
the flooding new light upon her character, this light that revealed her
as mercilessly as flash of night-watchman's lantern on guilty, shrinking
form. "She--Why, she always _was_ a fakir!" he exclaimed, stupefied by
the revelation of his own lack of discernment, he who had prided himself
on his acuteness, especially as to women. "From childhood up, she has
always made herself comfortable, no matter who was put out; she has
gotten whatever she wanted, always pretending to be unselfish, always
making it look as if the other person were in the wrong." There he
started up in the rate of the hoodwinked, at the recollection of an
incident of the previous summer--how she had been most gracious to a
young French nobleman, in America in search of a wife; how anybody but
"spiritual" Janet would have been accused of outrageous flirting--no, not
accused, but convicted. He recalled a vague story which he had set down
to envious gossip--a story that the Frenchman had departed on learning
that Charles Whitney had not yet reached the stage of fashionable
education at which the American father appreciates titles and begins to
listen without losing his temper when the subject of settlements is
broached. He remembered now that Janet had been low-spirited for some
time after the Frenchman took himself and title and eloquent eyes and
"soulful, stimulating conversation" to another market. "What a damn fool
I've been!" Arthur all but shouted at his own image in a mirror which by
chance was opposite him. A glance, and his eyes shifted; somehow, it gave
him no pleasure, but the reverse, to see that handsome face and
well-set-up, well-dressed figure.
"She was marrying me for money," he went on, when he had once more seated
himself, legs crossed and cigarette going reflectively. The idea seemed
new to him--that people with money could marry for money, just as a
capitalist goes only where he hopes to increase his capital. But on
examining it more closely, he was surprised to find that it was not new
at all. "What am I so virtuous about?" said he. "Wasn't _I_ after money,
too? If our circumstances were reversed, what would _I_ be doing?" He
could find but one honest answer. "No doubt I'd be trying to get out of
it, and if I didn't, it'd be because I couldn't see or make a way." To
his abnormally sensitized nerves the whole business began to exude a
distinct, nauseating odor. "Rotten--that's the God's truth," thought he.
"Father was right!"
But there he drew back; he must be careful not to let anger sweep him
into conceding too much. "No--life's got to be lived as the world
dictates," he hastened to add. "I see now why father did it, but he went
too far. He forgot my rights. The money is mine. And, by God, I'll get
it!" And again he started up; and again he was caught and put out of
countenance by his own image in the mirror. He turned away, shamefaced,
but sullenly resolute.
Base? He couldn't deny it. But he was desperate; also, he had been too
long accustomed to grabbing things to which his conscience told him he
had doubtful right or none. "It's mine. I've been cheated out of it. I'll
get it. Besides--" His mind suddenly cleared of the shadow of shame--"I
owe it to mother and Del to make the fight. They've been cheated, too.
Because they're too soft-hearted and too reverent of father's memory, is
that any reason, any excuse, for my shirking my duty by them? If father
were here to speak, I know he'd approve." Before him rose the frightful
look in his father's eyes in the earlier stage of that second and last
illness. "_That's_ what the look meant!" he cried, now completely
justified. "He recovered his reason. He wanted to undo the mischief that
old sneak Hargrave had drawn him into!"
The case was complete: His father had been insane when he made the will,
had repented afterward, but had been unable to unmake it; his only son
Arthur Ranger, now head of the family, owed it to the family's future and
to its two helpless and oversentimental women to right the wrong. A
complete case, a clear case, a solemn mandate. Interest and duty were
synonymous--as always to ingenious minds.
He lost no time in setting about this newly discovered high task of love
and justice. Within twenty minutes he was closeted with Dawson of the
great law firm, Mitchell, Dawson, Vance & Bischoffsheimer, who had had
the best seats on all the fattest stranded carcasses of the Middle West
for a decade--that is, ever since Bischoffsheimer joined the firm and
taught its intellects how on a vast scale to transubstantiate technically
legal knowledge into technically legal wealth. Dawson--lean and keen,
tough and brown of skin, and so carelessly dressed that he looked as if
he slept in his clothes--listened with the sympathetic, unwandering
attention which men give only him who comes telling where and how they
can make money. The young man ended his story, all in a glow of
enthusiasm for his exalted motives and of satisfaction with his eloquence
in presenting them; then came the shrewd and thorough cross-examination
which, he believed, strengthened every point he had made.
"On your showing," was Dawson's cautious verdict, "you seem to have a
case. But you must not forget that judges and juries have a deep
prejudice against breaking wills. They're usually fathers themselves, and
guard the will as the parent's strongest weapon in keeping the children
in order after they're too old for the strap or the bed slat, as the case
may be. Undue influence or mental infirmity must be mighty clearly
proven. Even then the court may decide to let the will stand, on general
principles. Your mother and sister, of course, join you?"
"I--I hope so," hesitated Arthur. "I'm not sure." More self-possessedly:
"You know how it is with women--with _ladies_--how they shrink from
"No, I can't say I do," said Dawson dryly. "Ladies need money even more
than women do, and so they'll usually go the limit, and beyond, to get
it. However, assuming that for some reason or other, your mother and
sister won't help, at least they won't oppose?"
"My sister is engaged to the son of Dr. Hargrave," said Arthur uneasily.
"That's good--excellent!" exclaimed Dawson, rubbing his gaunt,
beard-discolored jaw vigorously.
"But--he--Theodore Hargrave is a sentimental, unpractical chap."
"So are we all--but not in money matters."
"He's an exception, I'm afraid," said Arthur. "Really--I think it's
almost certain he'll try to influence her to take sides against me. And
my mother was very bitter when I spoke of contest. But, as I've shown
you, my case is quite apart from what they may or may not do."
"Um--um," grunted Dawson. He threw himself back in his chair; to aid him
in thinking, he twisted the only remaining crown-lock of his gray-black
hair, and slowly drew his thin lips from his big sallow teeth, and as
slowly returned them to place. "Obviously," he said at length, "the
doctor is the crucial witness. We must see to it that"--a significant
grin--"that the other side does not attach him. We must anticipate them
by attaching him to us. I'll see what can be done--legitimately, you
understand. Perhaps you may have to engage additional counsel--some such
firm as, say, Humperdink & Grafter. Often, in cases nowadays, there is
detail work of an important character that lawyers of our standing
couldn't think of undertaking. But, of course, we work in harmony with
such other counsel as our client sees fit to engage."
"Certainly; I understand," said Arthur, with a knowing,
"man-of-the-world" nod. His cause being good and its triumph necessary,
he must not be squeamish about any alliances it might be necessary to
make as a means to that triumph, where the world was so wicked. "Then,
you undertake the case."
"We will look into it," Dawson corrected. "You appreciate that the
litigation will be somewhat expensive?"
Arthur reddened. No, he hadn't thought of that! Whenever he had wanted
anything, he had ordered it, and had let the bill go to his father;
whenever he had wanted money, he had sent to his father for it, and had
got it. Dawson's question made the reality of his position--moneyless,
resourceless, friendless--burst over him like a waterspout. Dawson saw
and understood; but it was not his cue to lessen that sense of
At last Arthur sufficiently shook off his stupor to say: "Unless I win
the contest, I shan't have any resources beyond the five thousand I get
under the will, and a thousand or so I have in bank at Saint X--and what
little I could realize from my personal odds and ends. Isn't there some
way the thing could be arranged?"
"There is the method of getting a lawyer to take a case on contingent
fee," said Dawson. "That is, the lawyer gets a certain per cent of what
he wins, and nothing if he loses. But _we_ don't make such arrangements.
They are regarded as almost unprofessional; I couldn't honestly recommend
any lawyer who would. But, let me see--um--urn--" Dawson was reflecting
again, with an ostentation which might have roused the suspicions of a
less guileless person than Arthur Ranger at twenty-five. "You could,
perhaps, give us a retainer of say, a thousand in cash?"
"Yes," said Arthur, relieved. He thought he saw light ahead.
"Then we could take your note for say, five thousand--due in eighteen
months. You could renew it, if your victory was by any chance delayed
beyond that time."
"Your victory" was not very adroit, but it was adroit enough to bedazzle
Arthur. "Certainly," said he gratefully.
Dawson shut his long, wild-looking teeth and gently drew back his dry,
beard-discolored lips, while his keen eyes glinted behind his spectacles.
The fly had a leg in the web!
Business being thus got into a smooth way, Dawson and Arthur became great
friends. Nothing that Dawson said was a specific statement of belief in
the ultimate success of the suit; but his every look and tone implied
confidence. Arthur went away with face radiant and spirit erect. He felt
that he was a man of affairs, a man of consequence, he had lawyers, and a
big suit pending; and soon he would be rich. He thought of Janet, and
audibly sneered. "I'll make the Whitneys sick of their treachery!" said
he. Back had come his sense of strength and superiority; and once more he
was "gracious" with servants and with such others of the "peasantry" as
happened into or near his homeward path.
Toward three o'clock that afternoon, as he was being whirled toward Saint
X in the Eastern Express, his lawyer was in the offices of Ramsay &
Vanorden, a rival firm of wreckers and pirate outfitters on the third
floor of the same building. When Dawson had despatched his immediate
business with Vanorden, he lingered to say: "Well, I reckon we'll soon be
lined up on opposite sides in another big suit."
Confidences between the two firms were frequent and natural--not only
because Vanorden and Dawson were intimate friends and of the greatest
assistance each to the other socially and politically; not only because
Ramsay and Bischoffsheimer had married sisters; but also, and chiefly,
because big lawyers like to have big lawyers opposed to them in a big
suit. For several reasons; for instance, ingenuity on each side prolongs
the litigation and makes it intricate, and therefore highly expensive,
and so multiplies the extent of the banquet.
"How so?" inquired Vanorden, put on the alert by the significant
intonation of his friend.
"The whole Ranger-Whitney business is coming into court. Ranger, you
know, passed over the other day. He cut his family off with almost
nothing--gave his money to Tecumseh College. The son's engaged us to
attack the will."
"Where do _we_ come in?" asked Vanorden.
Dawson laughed and winked. "I guess your client, old Charley Whitney,
won't miss the chance to intervene in the suit and annex the whole
business, in the scrimmage."
Vanorden nodded. "Oh, I see," said he. "I see! Yes, we'll take a
"There won't be much in it for us," continued Dawson. "The boy's got
nothing, and between you and me, Len, the chances are against him. But
you fellows and whoever gets the job of defending the college's rights--"
Dawson opened his arms and made a humorous, huge, in-sweeping gesture.
"And," he added, "Whitney's one of the trustees under the will. See?"
"Thanks, old man." Vanorden was laughing like a shrewd and mischievous
but through-and-through good-natured boy. The two brilliant young leaders
of the Illinois bar shook hands warmly.
And so it came about that Charles Whitney was soon indorsing a plan to
cause, and to profit by, sly confusion--the plan of his able lawyers.
They had for years steered his hardy craft, now under the flag of
peaceful commerce and now under the black banner of the buccaneer. The
best of pilots, they had enabled him to clear many a shoal of bankruptcy,
many a reef of indictment. They served well, for he paid well.
BUT IS RESCUED
By the time he reached Saint X our young "man of affairs" believed his
conscience soundly converted to his adventure; and, as he drove toward
the house, a final survey of his defenses and justifications satisfied
him that they were impregnable. Nevertheless, as he descended from the
station hack and entered the grounds of the place that in his heart of
heart was all that the word "home" can contain, he felt strangely like a
traitor and a sneak. He kept his manner of composed seriousness, but he
reasoned in vain against those qualms of shame and panic. At the open
front door he dared not lift his eyes lest he should be overwhelmed by
the sight of that colossal figure, with a look in its face that would
force him to see the truth about his thoughts and his acts. The house
seemed deserted; on the veranda that opened out from the back parlor he
found Dory Hargrave, reading. He no longer felt bitter toward Dory.
Thinking over the whole of the Ranger-Whitney relations and the sudden
double break in them, he had begun to believe that perhaps Adelaide had
had the good luck to make an extremely clever stroke when she shifted
from Ross Whitney to Hargrave. Anyhow, Dory was a fine fellow, both in
looks and in brains, with surprisingly good, yes, really amazing air and
manner--considering his opportunities; he'd be an ornament to any family
as soon as he had money enough properly to equip himself--which would be
very soon, now that the great Dawson was about to open fire on the will
and demolish it.
"Howdy," he accordingly said, with only a shade less than his old
friendliness, and that due to embarrassment, and not at all to ill
feeling. "Where's mother--and Del?"
"Your sister has taken your mother for a drive," replied Hargrave.
"Smoke?" said Arthur, extending his gold cigarette case, open.
Dory preferred his own brand of cigarettes; but, feeling that he ought to
meet any advance of Arthur's, he took one of the big, powerful Egyptians
with "A.K." on it in blue monogram. They smoked in silence a moment or
so, Arthur considering whether to practise on Dory the story of his
proposed contest, to enable him to tell it in better form to his mother
and sister. "I've been to Chicago to see about contesting the will," he
began, deciding for the rehearsal.
"I supposed so," said Hargrave.
"Of course, for mother's and Del's sake I simply have to do it," he went
on, much encouraged. "Anyone who knew father knows he must have been out
of his mind when he made that will."
"I see your point of view," said Dory, embarrassed. Then, with an effort
he met Arthur's eyes, but met them fearlessly. "You misunderstood me. I
think a contest is a mistake."
Arthur flamed. "Naturally you defend your father," he sneered.
"Let us leave my father out of this," said Dory. His manner made it
impossible for Arthur to persist. For Dory was one of those who have
the look of "peace with honor" that keeps to bounds even the man
crazed by anger.
"You can't deny I have a legal right to make the contest," pursued
"And a moral right, too," said Arthur, somewhat defiantly.
"Yes," assented Dory. The tone of the "yes"--or was it Arthur's own
self-respect--made him suspect Dory of thinking that a man might have the
clearest legal and moral right and still not be able to get his honor's
consent. "But why discuss the matter, Arthur? You couldn't be changed by
anything I'd say."
"We will discuss it!" exclaimed Arthur furiously. "I see what your plan
is. You know I'm bound to win; so you'll try to influence Del and mother
against me, and get the credit for taking high ground, and at the same
time get the benefit of the breaking of the will. When the will's broken,
mother'll have her third; you think you can stir up a quarrel between her
and me, and she'll leave all of her third to Del and you."
Arthur had started up threateningly. There showed at his eyes and mouth
the ugliest of those alien passions which his associations had thrust
into him, and which had been master ever since the reading of the will.
The signs were all for storm; but Dory sat impassive. He looked steadily
at Arthur until Arthur could no longer withstand, but had to drop his
eyes. Then he said: "I want you to think over what you have just said to
me, Artie--especially your calculations on the death of your mother."
Arthur dropped back into his chair.
"Honestly, Artie, honestly," Dory went on, with the friendliest
earnestness, "isn't there something wrong about anything that causes the
man you are by nature to think and feel and talk that way, when his
father is not a week dead?"
Arthur forced a sneer, but without looking at Dory.
"Do you remember the day of the funeral?" Dory went on. "It had been
announced in the papers that the burial would be private. As we drove out
of the front gates there, I looked round--you remember it was raining.
There were uncovered farm wagons blocking the streets up and down. There
were thousands of people standing in the rain with bared heads. And I saw
tears thick as the rain drops streaming down faces of those who had known
your father as boy and man, who had learned to know he was all that a
human being should be."
Arthur turned away to hide his features from Dory.
"_That_ was your father, Artie. What if _he_ could have heard you a few
"I don't need to have anyone praise my father to me," said Arthur,
trying to mask his feelings behind anger. "And what you say is no reason
why I should let mother and Del and myself be cheated out of what he
wanted us to have."
Dory left it to Arthur's better self to discuss that point with him. "I
know you'll do what is right," said he sincerely. "You are more like
your father than you suspect as yet, Artie. I should have said nothing
to you if you hadn't forced your confidence on me. What I've said is
only what you'd say to me, were I in your place and you in mine--what
you'll think yourself a month from now. What lawyer advised you to
undertake the contest?"
"Dawson of Mitchell, Dawson, Vance & Bischoffsheimer. As good lawyers as
there are in the country."
"I ought to tell you," said Dory, after brief hesitation, "that Judge
Torrey calls them a quartette of unscrupulous scoundrels--says they're
regarded as successful only because success has sunk to mean supremacy in
cheating and double-dealing. Would you mind telling me what terms they
gave you--about fee and expenses?"
"A thousand down, and a note for five thousand," replied Arthur,
compelled to speech by the misgivings Dory was raising within him in
spite of himself.
"That is, as the first installment, they take about all the money in
sight. Does that look as if they believed in the contest?"
At this Arthur remembered and understood Dawson's remark, apparently
casual, but really crucial, about the necessity of attaching Dr. Schulze.
Without Schulze, he had no case; and Dawson had told him so! What kind of
a self-hypnotized fool was he, not to hear the plainest warnings? And
without waiting to see Schulze, he had handed over his money!
"I know you think I am not unprejudiced about this will," Dory went on.
"But I ask you to have a talk with Judge Torrey. While he made the will,
it was at your father's command, and he didn't and doesn't approve it. He
knows all the circumstances. Before you go any further, wouldn't it be
well to see him? You know there isn't an abler lawyer, and you also know
he's honest. If there's any way of breaking the will, he'll tell you
Hiram Ranger's son now had the look of his real self emerging from the
subsiding fumes of his debauch of folly and fury. "Thank you, Hargrave,"
he said. "You are right."
"Go straight off," advised Dory. "Go before you've said anything to your
mother about what you intend to do. And please let me say one thing more.
Suppose you do finally decide to make this contest. It means a year, two
years, three years, perhaps five or six, perhaps ten or more, of
suspense, of degrading litigation, with the best of you shriveling, with
your abilities to do for yourself paralyzed. If you finally lose--you'll
owe those Chicago sharks an enormous sum of money, and you'll be
embittered and blighted for life. If you win, they and their pals will
have most of the estate; you will have little but the barren victory; and
you will have lost your mother. For, Arthur, if you try to prove that
your father was insane, and cut off his family in insane anger, you know
it will kill her."
A long silence; then Arthur moved toward the steps leading down to the
drive. "I'll think it over," he said, in a tone very different from any
he had used before.
Dory watched him depart with an expression of friendship and admiration.
"He's going to Judge Torrey," he said to himself. "Scratch that veneer of
his, and you find his mother and father."
The old judge received Arthur like a son, listened sympathetically as the
young man gave him in detail the interview with Dawson. Even as Arthur
recalled and related, he himself saw Dawson's duplicity; for, that past
master of craft had blundered into the commonest error of craft of all
degrees--he had underestimated the intelligence of the man he was trying
to cozen. He, rough in dress and manners and regarding "dudishness" as
unfailing proof of weak-mindedness, had set down the fashionable Arthur,
with his Harvard accent and his ignorance of affairs, as an unmitigated
ass. He had overlooked the excellent natural mind which false education
and foolish associations had tricked out in the motley, bells and bauble
of "culture"; and so, he had taken no pains to cozen artistically. Also,
as he thought greediness the strongest and hardiest passion in all human
beings, because it was so in himself, he had not the slightest fear that
anyone or anything could deflect his client from pursuing the fortune
which dangled, or seemed to dangle, tantalizingly near.
Arthur, recalling the whole interview, was accurate where he had been
visionary, intelligent where he had been dazed. He saw it all, before he
was half done; he did not need Torrey's ejaculated summary: "The
swindling scoundrel!" to confirm him.
"You signed the note?" said the judge.
"Yes," replied Arthur. He laughed with the frankness of self-derision
that augurs so well for a man's teachableness.
"He must have guessed," continued the judge, "that a contest is useless."
At that last word Arthur changed expression, changed color--or, rather,
lost all color. "Useless?" he repeated, so overwhelmed that he clean
forgot pride of appearances and let his feelings have full play in his
face. Useless! A contest useless. Then--
"I did have some hopes," interrupted Judge Torrey's deliberate, judicial
tones, "but I had to give them up after I talked with Schulze and
President Hargrave. Your father may have been somewhat precipitate,
Arthur, but he was sane when he made that will. He believed his wealth
would be a curse to his children. And--I ain't at all sure he wasn't
right. As I look round this town, this whole country, and see how the
second generation of the rich is rotten with the money-cancer, I feel
that your grand, wise father had one of the visions that come only to
those who are about to leave the world and have their eyes cleared of the
dust of the combat, and their minds cooled of its passions." Here the old
man leaned forward and laid his hand on the knee of the white, haggard
youth. "Arthur," he went on, "your father's mind may have been befogged
by his affections in the years when he was letting his children do as
they pleased, do like most children of the rich. And his mind may have
been befogged by his affections again, _after_ he made that will and went
down into the Dark Valley. But, I tell you, boy, he was sane _when_ he
made that will. He was saner than most men have the strength of mind to
be on the best day of their whole lives."
Arthur was sitting with elbows on the desk; his face stared out, somber
and gaunt, from between his hands. "How much he favors his father,"
thought the old judge. "What a pity it don't go any deeper than looks."
But the effect of the resemblance was sufficient to make it impossible
for him to offer any empty phrases of cheer and consolation. After a long
time the hopeless, dazed expression slowly faded from the young man's
face; in its place came a calm, inscrutable look. The irresponsible boy
was dead; the man had been born--in rancorous bitterness, but in strength
It was the man who said, as he rose to depart, "I'll write Dawson that
I've decided to abandon the contest."
"Ask him to return the note," advised Torrey. "But," he added, "I doubt
if he will."
"He won't," said Arthur. "And I'll not ask him. Anyhow, a few dollars
would be of no use to me. I'd only prolong the agony of getting down to
where I've got to go."
"Five thousand dollars is right smart of money," protested the judge. "On
second thought, I guess you'd better let me negotiate with him." The old
man's eyes were sparkling with satisfaction in the phrases that were
forming in his mind for the first letter to Dawson.
"Thank you," said Arthur. But it was evident that he was not
interested. "I must put the past behind me," he went on presently. "I
mustn't think of it."
"After all," suggested Torrey, "you're not as bad off as more than
ninety-nine per cent of the young men. You're just where they are--on bed
rock. And you've got the advantage of your education."
Arthur smiled satirically. "The tools I learned to use at college," said
he, "aren't the tools for the Crusoe Island I've been cast away on."
"Well, I reckon a college don't ruin a young chap with the right stuff in
him, even if it don't do him any great sight of good." He looked uneasily
at Arthur, then began: "If you'd like to study law"--as if he feared the
offer would be accepted, should he make it outright.
"No; thank you, I've another plan," replied Arthur, though "plan" would
have seemed to Judge Torrey a pretentious name for the hazy possibilities
that were beginning to gather in the remote corners of his mind.
"I supposed you wouldn't care for the law," said Torrey, relieved that
his faint hint of a possible offer had not got him into trouble. He liked
Arthur, but estimated him by his accent and his dress, and so thought him
probably handicapped out of the running by those years of training for a
career of polite uselessness. "That East!" he said to himself, looking
pityingly at the big, stalwart youth in the elaborate fopperies of
fashionable mourning. "That _damned_ East! We send it most of our money
and our best young men; and what do we get from it in return? Why, sneers
and snob-ideas." However, he tried to change his expression to one less
discouraging; but his face could not wholly conceal his forebodings.
"It's lucky for the boy," he reflected, "that Hiram left him a good home
as long as his mother's alive. After she's gone--and the five thousand,
if I get it back--I suppose he'll drop down and down, and end by clerking
it somewhere." With a survey of Arthur's fashionable attire, "I should
say he might do fairly well in a gent's furnishing store in one of those
damn cities." The old man was not unfeeling--far from it; he had simply
been educated by long years of experience out of any disposition to
exaggerate the unimportant in the facts of life. "He'll be better off and
more useful as a clerk than he would be as a pattern of damnfoolishness
and snobbishness. So, Hiram was right anyway I look at it, and no matter
how it comes out. But--it did take courage to make that will!"
"Well, good day, judge," Arthur was saying, to end both their reveries.
"I must," he laughed curtly, "'get a move on.'"
"Good day, and God bless you, boy," said the old man, with a hearty
earnestness that, for the moment, made Arthur's eyes less hard. "Take
your time, settling on what to do. Don't be in a hurry."
"On the contrary," said Arthur. "I'm going to make up my mind at once.
Nothing stales so quickly as a good resolution."
A crisis does not create character, but is simply its test. The young man
who entered the gates of No. 64 Jefferson Street at five that afternoon
was in all respects he who left them at a quarter before four, though he
seemed very different to himself. He went direct to his own room and did
not descend until the supper bell sounded--that funny little old jangling
bell he and Del had striven to have abolished in the interests of
fashionable progress, until they learned that in many of the best English
houses it is a custom as sacredly part of the ghostly British
Constitution as the bathless bath of the basin, as the jokeless joke of
the pun, as the entertainment that entertains not, as the ruler that
rules not and the freedom that frees not. When he appeared in the
dining-room door, his mother and Del were already seated. His mother, her
white face a shade whiter, said: "I expect you'd better sit--there." She
neither pointed nor looked, but they understood that she meant Hiram's
place. It was her formal announcement of her forgiveness and of her
recognition of the new head of the family. With that in his face that
gave Adelaide a sense of the ending of a tension within her, he seated
himself where his father had always sat.
It was a silent supper, each one absorbed in thoughts which could not
have been uttered, no one able to find any subject that would not make
overwhelming the awful sense of the one that was not there and never
again would be. Mrs. Ranger spoke once. "How did you find Janet?" she
said to Arthur.
His face grew red, with gray underneath. After a pause he answered:
"Very well." Another pause, then: "Our engagement is broken off."
Mrs. Ranger winced and shrank. She knew how her question and the effort
of that answer must have hurt the boy; but she did not make matters worse
with words. Indeed, she would have been unable to say anything, for
sympathy would have been hypocritical, and hypocrisy was with her
impossible. She thought Arthur loved Janet; she realized, too, the savage
wound to his pride in losing her just at this time. But she had never
liked her, and now felt justified in that secret and, so she had often
reproached herself, unreasonable dislike; and she proceeded to hate her,
the first time she had ever hated anybody--to hate her as a mother can
hate one who has made her child suffer.
After supper, Mrs. Ranger plunged into the household duties that were
saving her from insanity. Adelaide and Arthur went to the side veranda.
When Arthur had lighted a cigarette, he looked at it with a grim
smile--it was astonishing how much stronger and manlier his face was, all
in a few hours. "I'm on my last thousand of these," said he. "After them,
no more cigarettes."
"Oh, it isn't so bad as all that!" said Adelaide. "We're still
comfortable, and long before you could feel any change, you'll be making
plenty of money."
"I'm going to work--next Monday--at the mills."
Adelaide caught her breath, beamed on him. "I knew you would!" she
exclaimed. "I knew you were brave."
"Brave!" He laughed disagreeably. "Like the fellow that faces the fight
because a bayonet's pricking his back. I can't go away somewhere and get
a job, for there's nothing I can do. I've got to stay right here. I've
got to stare this town out of countenance. I've got to get it used to the
idea of me as a common workingman with overalls and a dinner pail."
She saw beneath his attempt to make light of the situation a deep and
cruel humiliation. He was looking forward to the keenest torture to which
a man trained in vanity to false ideals can be subjected; and the thing
itself, so Adelaide was thinking, would be more cruel than his writhing
anticipation of it.
"Still," she insisted to him, "you are brave. You might have borrowed of
mother and gone off to make one failure after another in gentlemanly
attempts. You might have"--she was going to say, "tried to make a rich
marriage," but stopped herself in time. "Oh, I forgot," she said,
instead, "there's the five thousand dollars. Why not spend it in studying
"I've lost my five thousand," he replied. "I paid it for a lesson that
was cheap at the price." Then, thoughtfully, "I've dropped out of the
class 'gentleman' for good and all."
"Or into it," suggested she.
He disregarded this; he knew it was an insincerity--one of the many he
and Del were now trying to make themselves believe against the almost
hopeless handicap of the unbelief they had acquired as part of their
"Eastern culture." He went on: "There's one redeeming feature of the--the
"And that for you," he said. "At least, _you've_ got a small income."
"But I haven't," she replied. "Dory made me turn it over to mother."
Arthur stared. "Dory!"
"Yes," she answered, with a nod and a smile. It would have given Dory a
surprise, a vastly different notion as to what she thought of him, had he
seen her unawares just then.
"Made," she repeated.
"And you did it?"
"I've promised I will."
"I don't just know," was her slow reply.
"Because he was afraid it might make bad blood between you and me?"
"That was one of the reasons he urged," she admitted. "But he thought,
too, it would be bad for him and me."
A long silence. Then Arthur: "Del, I almost think you're not making such
a mistake as I feared, in marrying him."
"So do I--sometimes," was his sister's, to him, astonishing answer, in an
absent, speculative tone.
Arthur withheld the question that was on his lips. He looked curiously at
the small graceful head, barely visible in the deepening twilight. "She's
a strange one," he reflected. "I don't understand her--and I doubt if she
And that last was very near to the truth. Everyone has a reason for
everything he does; but it by no means follows that he always knows
that reason, or even could extricate it from the tangle of motives,
real and reputed, behind any given act. This self-ignorance is less
common among men than among women, with their deliberate training to
self-consciousness and to duplicity; it is most common among those--men
as well as women--who think about themselves chiefly. And Adelaide,
having little to think about when all her thinking was hired out, had of
necessity thought chiefly about herself.
"You guessed that Janet has thrown me over?" Arthur said, to open the way
for relieving his mind.
Adelaide made a gallant effort, and her desire to console him conquered
her vanity. "Just as Ross threw me over," she replied, with a successful
imitation of indifference.
Instead of being astonished at the news, Arthur was astonished at his not
having guessed it. His first sensation was the very human one of
pleasure--the feeling that he had companionship in humiliation. He moved
closer to her. Then came an instinct, perhaps true, perhaps false, that
she was suffering, that Ross had wounded her cruelly, that she was not so
calm as her slim, erect figure seemed in the deep dusk. He burst out in
quiet, intense fury: "Del, I'll make those two wish to God they hadn't!"
"You can't do it, Artie," she replied. "The only power on earth that can
do them up is themselves." She paused to vent the laugh that was as
natural in the circumstances as it was unpleasant to hear. "And I think
they'll do it," she went on, "without any effort on your part--or mine."
"You do not hate them as I do," said he.
"I'm afraid I'm not a good hater," she answered. "I admit I've got a sore
spot where he--struck me. But as far as he's concerned, I honestly
believe I'm already feeling a little bit obliged to him."
"Naturally," said he in a tone that solicited confidences. "Haven't you
got what you really wanted?"
But his sister made no reply.
"Look here, Del," he said after waiting in vain, "if you don't want to
marry, there's no reason why you should. You'll soon see I'm not as
good-for-nothing as some people imagine."
"What makes you think I don't want to marry?" asked Adelaide, her face
completely hid by the darkness, her voice betraying nothing.
"Why, what you've been saying--or, rather, what you've _not_ been
A very long silence, then out of the darkness came Adelaide's voice,
even, but puzzling. "Well, Artie, I've made up my mind to marry. I've got
to _do_ something, and Dory'll give me something to do. If I sat about
waiting, waiting, and thinking, thinking, I should do--something
desperate. I've got to get away from myself. I've got to forget myself.
I've got to get a new self."
"Just as I have," said Arthur.
Presently he sat on the arm of her chair and reached out for her hand
which was seeking his.
When Hiram was first stricken, Adelaide's Simeon had installed himself as
attendant-in-chief. The others took turns at nursing; Simeon was on duty
every hour of every twenty-four. He lost all interest in Adelaide, in
everything except the sick man. Most of the time he sat quietly, gazing
at the huge, helpless object of his admiration as if fascinated. Whenever
Hiram deigned to look at him, he chattered softly, timidly approached,
retreated, went through all his tricks, watching the while for some sign
of approval. The first week or so, Hiram simply tolerated the pathetic
remembrancer to human humility because he did not wish to chagrin his
daughter. But it is not in nature to resist a suit so meek, so
persistent, and so unasking as Simeon's. Soon Hiram liked to have his
adorer on his knee, on the arm of his chair, on the table beside him;
occasionally he moved his unsteady hand slowly to Simeon's head to give
it a pat. And in the long night hours of wakefulness there came to be a
soothing companionship in the sound of Simeon's gentle breathing in the
little bed at the head of his bed; for Simeon would sleep nowhere else.
The shy races of mankind, those that hide their affections and rarely
give them expression, are fondest of domestic animals, because to them
they can show themselves without fear of being laughed at or repulsed.
But it happened that Hiram had never formed a friendship with a dog. In
his sickness and loneliness, he was soon accepting and returning Simeon's
fondness in kind. And at the time when a man must re-value everything in
life and put a proper estimate upon it, this unselfish, incessant, wholly
disinterested love of poor Simeon's gave him keen pleasure and content.
After the stroke that entombed him, some subtle instinct seemed to guide
Simeon when to sit and sympathize at a distance, when to approach and
give a gentle caress, with tears running from his eyes. But the death
Simeon did not understand at all. Those who came to make the last
arrangements excited him to fury. Adelaide had to lock him in her
dressing room until the funeral was over. When she released him, he flew
to the room where he had been accustomed to sit with his great and good
friend. No Hiram! He ran from room to room, chattering wildly, made the
tour of gardens and outbuildings, returned to the room in which his quest
had started. He seemed dumb with despair. He had always looked
ludicrously old and shriveled; his appearance now became tragic. He would
start up from hours of trancelike motionlessness, would make a tour of
house and grounds; scrambling and shambling from place to place;
chattering at doors he could not open, then pausing to listen; racing to
the front fence and leaping to its top to crane up and down the street;
always back in the old room in a few minutes, to resume his watch and
wait. He would let no one but Adelaide touch him, and he merely endured
her; good and loving though she seemed to be, he felt that she was
somehow responsible for the mysterious vanishing of his god while she had
him shut away.
Sometimes in the dead of night, Adelaide or Arthur or Mrs. Ranger,
waking, would hear him hurrying softly, like a ghost, along the halls or
up and down the stairs. They, with the crowding interests that compel the
mind, no matter how fiercely the bereaved heart may fight against
intrusion, would forget for an hour now and then the cause of the black
shadow over them and all the house and all the world; and as the weeks
passed their grief softened and their memories of the dead man began to
give them that consoling illusion of his real presence. But not Simeon;
he could think only that his friend had been there and was gone.
At last the truth in some form must have come to him. For he gave up the
search and the hope, and lay down to die. Food he would not touch; he
neither moved nor made a sound. When Adelaide took him up, he lifted dim
tragic eyes to her for an instant, then sank back as if asleep. One
morning, they found him in Hiram's great arm chair, huddled in its
depths, his head upon his knees, his hairy hands stiff against his
cheeks. They buried him in the clump of lilac bushes of which Hiram had
been especially fond.
Stronger than any other one influence for good upon Adelaide and Arthur
at that critical time, was this object lesson Simeon gave--Simeon with
his single-hearted sorrow and single-minded love.
EARLY ADVENTURES OF A 'PRENTICE
Arthur, about to issue forth at a quarter to seven on Monday morning to
begin work as a cooper's apprentice, felt as if he would find all Saint X
lined up to watch him make the journey in working clothes. He had a bold
front as he descended the lawn toward the gates; but at the risk of
opening him to those with no sympathy for weaknesses other than their
own, and for their own only in themselves, it must be set down that he
seemed to himself to be shaking and skulking. He set his teeth together,
gave himself a final savage cut with the lash of "What a damned coward I
am!" and closed the gate behind him and was in the street--a workingman.
He did not realize it, but he had shown his mettle; for, no man with any
real cowardice anywhere in him would have passed through that gate and
faced a world that loves to sneer.
From the other big houses of that prosperous neighborhood were coming,
also in working clothes, the fathers, and occasionally the sons, of
families he was accustomed to regard as "all right--for Saint X." At the
corner of Cherry Lane, old Bolingbroke, many times a millionaire thanks
to a thriving woolen factory, came up behind him and cried out, "_Well_,
young man! _This_ is something like." In his enthusiasm he put his arm
through Arthur's. "As soon as I read your father's will, I made one
myself," he continued as they hurried along at Bolingbroke's always
furious speed. "I always did have my boys at work; I send 'em down half
an hour before me every morning. But it occurred to me they might bury
their enthusiasm in the cemetery along with me." He gave his crackling,
snapping laugh that was strange and even startling in itself, but seemed
the natural expression of his snapping eyes and tight-curling, wiry
whiskers and hair. "So I fixed up my will. No pack of worthless heirs to
make a mockery of my life and teachings after I'm gone. No, sir-ee!"
Arthur was more at ease. "Appearances" were no longer against
him--distinctly the reverse. He wondered that his vanity could have made
him overlook the fact that what he was about to do was as much the
regular order in prosperous Saint X, throughout the West for that matter,
as posing as a European gentleman was the regular order of the "upper
classes" of New York and Boston--and that even there the European
gentleman was a recent and rather rare importation. And Bolingbroke's
hearty admiration, undeserved though Arthur felt it to be, put what he
thought was nerve into him and stimulated what he then regarded as pride.
Back to Full Books