Part 5 out of 7
noted no change in her, and strove to let none show in himself.
The same old monotonous routine went on, though now it was
irritating and maddening. Daylight found a big quarrel on his
hands with a world that wouldn't let a man behave toward his
stenographer after the way of all men and women. What was the
good of owning millions anyway? he demanded one day of the
desk-calendar, as she passed out after receiving his dictation.
As the third week drew to a close and another desolate Sunday
confronted him, Daylight resolved to speak, office or no office.
And as was his nature, he went simply and directly to the point
She had finished her work with him, and was gathering her note
pad and pencils together to depart, when he said:--
"Oh, one thing more, Miss Mason, and I hope you won't mind my
being frank and straight out. You've struck me right along as a
sensible-minded girl, and I don't think you'll take offence at
what I'm going to say. You know how long you've been in the
office--it's years, now, several of them, anyway; and you know
I've always been straight and aboveboard with you. I've never
what you call--presumed. Because you were in my office I've
tried to be more careful than if--if you wasn't in my office--you
understand. But just the same, it don't make me any the less
human. I'm a lonely sort of a fellow--don't take that as a bid
for kindness. What I mean by it is to try and tell you just how
much those two rides with you have meant. And now I hope you
won't mind my just asking why you haven't been out riding the
last two Sundays?"
He came to a stop and waited, feeling very warm and awkward, the
perspiration starting in tiny beads on his forehead. She did not
speak immediately, and he stepped across the room and raised the
"I have been riding," she answered; "in other directions."
"But why...?" He failed somehow to complete the question. "Go
ahead and be frank with me," he urged. "Just as frank as I am
you. Why didn't you ride in the Piedmont hills? I hunted for
"And that is just why." She smiled, and looked him straight in
the eyes for a moment, then dropped her own. "Surely, you
understand, Mr. Harnish."
He shook his head glumly.
"I do, and I don't. I ain't used to city ways by a long shot.
There's things one mustn't do, which I don't mind as long as I
don't want to do them."
"But when you do?" she asked quickly.
"Then I do them." His lips had drawn firmly with this affirmation
of will, but the next instant he was amending the statement "That
is, I mostly do. But what gets me is the things you mustn't do
when they're not wrong and they won't hurt anybody--this riding,
She played nervously with a pencil for a time, as if debating her
reply, while he waited patiently.
"This riding," she began; "it's not what they call the right
I leave it to you. You know the world. You are Mr. Harnish, the
"Gambler," he broke in harshly
She nodded acceptance of his term and went on.
"And I'm a stenographer in your office--"
"You're a thousand times better than me--" he attempted to
interpolate, but was in turn interrupted.
"It isn't a question of such things. It's a simple and fairly
common situation that must be considered. I work for you. And
it isn't what you or I might think, but what other persons will
think. And you don't need to be told any more about that. You
Her cool, matter-of-fact speech belied her--or so Daylight
thought, looking at her perturbed feminineness, at the rounded
lines of her figure, the breast that deeply rose and fell, and at
the color that was now excited in her cheeks.
"I'm sorry I frightened you out of your favorite stamping
ground," he said rather aimlessly.
"You didn't frighten me," she retorted, with a touch of fire.
"I'm not a silly seminary girl. I've taken care of myself for a
long time now, and I've done it without being frightened. We
were together two Sundays, and I'm sure I wasn't frightened of
Bob, or you. It isn't that. I have no fears of taking care of
myself, but the world insists on taking care of one as well.
That's the trouble. It's what the world would have to say about
me and my employer meeting regularly and riding in the hills on
Sundays. It's funny, but it's so. I could ride with one of the
clerks without remark, but with you--no."
"But the world don't know and don't need to know," he cried.
"Which makes it worse, in a way, feeling guilty of nothing and
yet sneaking around back-roads with all the feeling of doing
something wrong. It would be finer and braver for me
"To go to lunch with me on a week-day," Daylight said, divining
the drift of her uncompleted argument.
"I didn't have that quite in mind, but it will do. I'd prefer
doing the brazen thing and having everybody know it, to doing the
furtive thing and being found out. Not that I'm asking to be
invited to lunch," she added, with a smile; "but I'm sure you
understand my position."
"Then why not ride open and aboveboard with me in the hills?" he
She shook her head with what he imagined was just the faintest
hint of regret, and he went suddenly and almost maddeningly
hungry for her.
"Look here, Miss Mason, I know you don't like this talking over
of things in the office. Neither do I. It's part of the whole
thing, I guess; a man ain't supposed to talk anything but
business with his stenographer. Will you ride with me next
Sunday, and we can talk it over thoroughly then and reach some
sort of a conclusion. Out in the hills is the place where you
can talk something besides business. I guess you've seen enough
of me to know I'm pretty square. I-I do honor and respect you,
and... and all that, and I .." He was beginning to flounder, and
the hand that rested on the desk blotter was visibly trembling.
He strove to pull himself together. "I just want to harder than
anything ever in my life before. I-I-I can't explain myself, but
I do, that's all. Will you?--Just next Sunday? To-morrow?"
Nor did he dream that her low acquiescence was due, as much as
anything else, to the beads of sweat on his forehead, his
trembling hand, and his all too-evident general distress.
"Of course, there's no way of telling what anybody wants from
what they say." Daylight rubbed Bob's rebellious ear with his
quirt and pondered with dissatisfaction the words he had just
uttered. They did not say what he had meant them to say. "What
I'm driving at is that you say flatfooted that you won't meet me
again, and you give your reasons, but how am I to know they are
your real reasons? Mebbe you just don't want to get acquainted
with me, and won't say so for fear of hurting my feelings. Don't
you see? I'm the last man in the world to shove in where I'm not
wanted. And if I thought you didn't care a whoop to see anything
more of me, why, I'd clear out so blamed quick you couldn't see
me for smoke."
Dede smiled at him in acknowledgment of his words, but rode on
silently. And that smile, he thought, was the most sweetly
wonderful smile he had ever seen. There was a difference in it,
he assured himself, from any smile she had ever given him before.
It was the smile of one who knew him just a little bit, of one
who was just the least mite acquainted with him. Of course, he
checked himself up the next moment, it was unconscious on her
part. It was sure to come in the intercourse of any two persons.
Any stranger, a business man, a clerk, anybody after a few casual
meetings would show similar signs of friendliness. It was bound
to happen, but in her case it made more impression on him; and,
besides, it was such a sweet and wonderful smile. Other women he
had known had never smiled like that; he was sure of it.
It had been a happy day. Daylight had met her on the back-road
from Berkeley, and they had had hours together. It was only now,
with the day drawing to a close and with them approaching the
gate of the road to Berkeley, that he had broached the important
She began her answer to his last contention, and he listened
"But suppose, just suppose, that the reasons I have given are the
only ones?--that there is no question of my not wanting to know
"Then I'd go on urging like Sam Scratch," he said quickly.
"Because, you see, I've always noticed that folks that incline to
anything are much more open to hearing the case stated. But if
you did have that other reason up your sleeve, if you didn't want
to know me, if--if, well, if you thought my feelings oughtn't to
be hurt just because you had a good job with me..." Here, his
calm consideration of a possibility was swamped by the fear that
it was an actuality, and he lost the thread of his reasoning.
"Well, anyway, all you have to do is to say the word and I'll
And with no hard feelings; it would be just a case of bad luck
for me. So be honest, Miss Mason, please, and tell me if that's
the reason--I almost got a hunch that it is."
She glanced up at him, her eyes abruptly and slightly moist, half
with hurt, half with anger.
"Oh, but that isn't fair," she cried. "You give me the choice of
lying to you and hurting you in order to protect myself by
getting rid of you, or of throwing away my protection by telling
you the truth, for then you, as you said yourself, would stay and
Her cheeks were flushed, her lips tremulous, but she continued to
look him frankly in the eyes.
Daylight smiled grimly with satisfaction.
"I'm real glad, Miss Mason, real glad for those words."
"But they won't serve you," she went on hastily. "They can't
serve you. I refuse to let them. This is our last ride, and...
here is the gate."
Ranging her mare alongside, she bent, slid the catch, and
followed the opening gate.
"No; please, no," she said, as Daylight started to follow.
Humbly acquiescent, he pulled Bob back, and the gate swung shut
between them. But there was more to say, and she did not ride
"Listen, Miss Mason," he said, in a low voice that shook with
sincerity; "I want to assure you of one thing. I'm not just
trying to fool around with you. I like you, I want you, and I
was never more in earnest in my life. There's nothing wrong in
my intentions or anything like that. What I mean is strictly
But the expression of her face made him stop. She was angry, and
she was laughing at the same time.
"The last thing you should have said," she cried. "It's like
a--a matrimonial bureau: intentions strictly honorable; object,
matrimony. But it's no more than I deserved. This is what I
suppose you call urging like Sam Scratch."
The tan had bleached out of Daylight's skin since the time he
came to live under city roofs, so that the flush of blood showed
readily as it crept up his neck past the collar and overspread
his face. Nor in his exceeding discomfort did he dream that she
was looking upon him at that moment with more kindness than at
any time that day. It was not in her experience to behold big
grown-up men who blushed like boys, and already she repented the
sharpness into which she had been surprised.
"Now, look here, Miss Mason," he began, slowly and stumblingly at
first, but accelerating into a rapidity of utterance that was
almost incoherent; "I'm a rough sort of a man, I know that, and I
know I don't know much of anything. I've never had any training
in nice things. I've never made love before, and I've never been
in love before either--and I don't know how to go about it any
more than a thundering idiot. What you want to do is get behind
my tomfool words and get a feel of the man that's behind them.
That's me, and I mean all right, if I don't know how to go about
Dede Mason had quick, birdlike ways, almost flitting from mood to
mood; and she was all contrition on the instant.
"Forgive me for laughing," she said across the gate. "It wasn't
really laughter. I was surprised off my guard, and hurt, too.
You see, Mr. Harnish, I've not been..."
She paused, in sudden fear of completing the thought into which
her birdlike precipitancy had betrayed her.
"What you mean is that you've not been used to such sort of
proposing," Daylight said; "a sort of on-the-run, 'Howdy,
glad-to-make-your-acquaintance, won't-you-be-mine' proposition."
She nodded and broke into laughter, in which he joined, and which
served to pass the awkwardness away. He gathered heart at this,
and went on in greater confidence, with cooler head and tongue.
"There, you see, you prove my case. You've had experience in
such matters. I don't doubt you've had slathers of proposals.
Well, I haven't, and I'm like a fish out of water. Besides, this
ain't a proposal. It's a peculiar situation, that's all, and I'm
in a corner. I've got enough plain horse-sense to know a man
ain't supposed to argue marriage with a girl as a reason for
getting acquainted with her. And right there was where I was in
the hole. Number one, I can't get acquainted with you in the
office. Number two, you say you won't see me out of the office
to give me a chance. Number three, your reason is that folks
will talk because you work for me. Number four, I just got to
get acquainted with you, and I just got to get you to see that I
mean fair and all right. Number five, there you are on one side
the gate getting ready to go, and me here on the other side the
gate pretty desperate and bound to say something to make you
reconsider. Number six, I said it. And now and finally, I just
do want you to reconsider."
And, listening to him, pleasuring in the sight of his earnest,
perturbed face and in the simple, homely phrases that but
emphasized his earnestness and marked the difference between him
and the average run of men she had known, she forgot to listen
and lost herself in her own thoughts. The love of a strong man
is ever a lure to a normal woman, and never more strongly did
Dede feel the lure than now, looking across the closed gate at
Burning Daylight. Not that she would ever dream of marrying
him--she had a score of reasons against it; but why not at least
see more of him? He was certainly not repulsive to her. On the
contrary, she liked him, had always liked him from the day she
had first seen him and looked upon his lean Indian face and into
his flashing Indian eyes. He was a figure of a man in more ways
than his mere magnificent muscles. Besides, Romance had gilded
him, this doughty, rough-hewn adventurer of the North, this man
of many deeds and many millions, who had come down out of the
Arctic to wrestle and fight so masterfully with the men of the
Savage as a Red Indian, gambler and profligate, a man without
morals, whose vengeance was never glutted and who stamped on the
faces of all who opposed him--oh, yes, she knew all the hard
names he had been called. Yet she was not afraid of him. There
was more than that in the connotation of his name. Burning
Daylight called up other things as well. They were there in the
newspapers, the magazines, and the books on the Klondike. When
all was said, Burning Daylight had a mighty connotation--one to
touch any woman's imagination, as it touched hers, the gate
between them, listening to the wistful and impassioned simplicity
of his speech. Dede was after all a woman, with a woman's
sex-vanity, and it was this vanity that was pleased by the fact
that such a man turned in his need to her.
And there was more that passed through her mind--sensations of
tiredness and loneliness; trampling squadrons and shadowy armies
of vague feelings and vaguer prompting; and deeper and dimmer
whisperings and echoings, the flutterings of forgotten
generations crystallized into being and fluttering anew and
always, undreamed and unguessed, subtle and potent, the spirit
and essence of life that under a thousand deceits and masks
forever makes for life. It was a strong temptation, just to ride
with this man in the hills. It would be that only and nothing
more, for she was firmly convinced that his way of life could
never be her way. On the other hand, she was vexed by none of
the ordinary feminine fears and timidities. That she could take
care of herself under any and all circumstances she never
doubted. Then why not? It was such a little thing, after all.
She led an ordinary, humdrum life at best. She ate and slept and
worked, and that was about all. As if in review, her anchorite
existence passed before her: six days of the week spent in the
office and in journeying back and forth on the ferry; the hours
stolen before bedtime for snatches of song at the piano, for
doing her own special laundering, for sewing and mending and
casting up of meagre accounts; the two evenings a week of social
diversion she permitted herself; the other stolen hours and
Saturday afternoons spent with her brother at the hospital; and
the seventh day, Sunday, her day of solace, on Mab's back, out
among the blessed hills. But it was lonely, this solitary
riding. Nobody of her acquaintance rode. Several girls at the
University had been persuaded into trying it, but after a Sunday
or two on hired livery hacks they had lost interest. There was
Madeline, who bought her own horse and rode enthusiastically for
several months, only to get married and go away to live in
Southern California. After years of it, one did get tired of
this eternal riding alone.
He was such a boy, this big giant of a millionaire who had half
the rich men of San Francisco afraid of him. Such a boy! She
had never imagined this side of his nature.
"How do folks get married?" he was saying. "Why, number one,
they meet; number two, like each other's looks; number three, get
acquainted; and number four, get married or not, according to how
they like each other after getting acquainted. But how in
thunder we're to have a chance to find out whether we like each
other enough is beyond my savvee, unless we make that chance
ourselves. I'd come to see you, call on you, only I know you're
just rooming or boarding, and that won't do."
Suddenly, with a change of mood, the situation appeared to Dede
ridiculously absurd. She felt a desire to laugh--not angrily,
not hysterically, but just jolly. It was so funny. Herself, the
stenographer, he, the notorious and powerful gambling
millionaire, and the gate between them across which poured his
argument of people getting acquainted and married. Also, it was
an impossible situation. On the face of it, she could not go on
with it. This program of furtive meetings in the hills would
have to discontinue. There would never be another meeting. And
if, denied this, he tried to woo her in the office, she would be
compelled to lose a very good position, and that would be an end
of the episode. It was not nice to contemplate; but the world of
men, especially in the cities, she had not found particularly
nice. She had not worked for her living for years without losing
a great many of her illusions.
"We won't do any sneaking or hiding around about it," Daylight
was explaining. "We'll ride around as bold if you please, and if
anybody sees us, why, let them. If they talk--well, so long as
our consciences are straight we needn't worry. Say the word, and
Bob will have on his back the happiest man alive."
She shook her head, pulled in the mare, who was impatient to be
off for home, and glanced significantly at the lengthening
"It's getting late now, anyway," Daylight hurried on, "and we've
settled nothing after all. Just one more Sunday, anyway--that's
not asking much--to settle it in."
"We've had all day," she said.
"But we started to talk it over too late. We'll tackle it
earlier next time. This is a big serious proposition with me, I
can tell you. Say next Sunday?"
"Are men ever fair?" she asked. "You know thoroughly well that
by 'next Sunday' you mean many Sundays."
"Then let it be many Sundays," he cried recklessly, while she
thought that she had never seen him looking handsomer. "Say the
word. Only say the word. Next Sunday at the quarry..."
She gathered the reins into her hand preliminary to starting.
"Good night," she said, "and--"
"Yes," he whispered, with just the faintest touch of
"Yes," she said, her voice low but distinct.
At the same moment she put the mare into a canter and went down
the road without a backward glance, intent on an analysis of her
own feelings. With her mind made up to say no--and to the last
instant she had been so resolved--her lips nevertheless had said
yes. Or at least it seemed the lips. She had not intended to
consent. Then why had she? Her first surprise and bewilderment
at so wholly unpremeditated an act gave way to consternation as
she considered its consequences. She knew that Burning Daylight
was not a man to be trifled with, that under his simplicity and
boyishness he was essentially a dominant male creature, and that
she had pledged herself to a future of inevitable stress and
storm. And again she demanded of herself why she had said yes at
the very moment when it had been farthest from her intention.
Life at the office went on much the way it had always gone.
Never, by word or look, did they acknowledge that the situation
was in any wise different from what it had always been. Each
Sunday saw the arrangement made for the following Sunday's ride;
nor was this ever referred to in the office. Daylight was
fastidiously chivalrous on this point. He did not want to lose
her from the office. The sight of her at her work was to him an
undiminishing joy. Nor did he abuse this by lingering over
dictation or by devising extra work that would detain her longer
before his eyes. But over and beyond such sheer selfishness of
conduct was his love of fair play. He scorned to utilize the
accidental advantages of the situation. Somewhere within him
was a higher appeasement of love than mere possession. He wanted
to be loved for himself, with a fair field for both sides.
On the other hand, had he been the most artful of schemers he
could not have pursued a wiser policy. Bird-like in her love of
individual freedom, the last woman in the world to be bullied in
her affections, she keenly appreciated the niceness of his
attitude. She did this consciously, but deeper than all
consciousness, and intangible as gossamer, were the effects of
this. All unrealizable, save for some supreme moment, did the
web of Daylight's personality creep out and around her. Filament
by filament, these secret and undreamable bonds were being
established. They it was that could have given the cue to her
saying yes when she had meant to say no. And in some such
fashion, in some future crisis of greater moment, might she not,
in violation of all dictates of sober judgment, give another
Among other good things resulting from his growing intimacy with
Dede, was Daylight's not caring to drink so much as formerly.
There was a lessening in desire for alcohol of which even he at
last became aware. In a way she herself was the needed
inhibition. The thought of her was like a cocktail. Or, at any
rate, she substituted for a certain percentage of cocktails.
From the strain of his unnatural city existence and of his
intense gambling operations, he had drifted on to the cocktail
route. A wall must forever be built to give him easement from
the high pitch, and Dede became a part of this wall. Her
personality, her laughter, the intonations of her voice, the
impossible golden glow of her eyes, the light on her hair, her
form, her dress, her actions on horseback, her merest physical
mannerisms--all, pictured over and over in his mind and dwelt
upon, served to take the place of many a cocktail or long Scotch
In spite of their high resolve, there was a very measurable
degree of the furtive in their meetings. In essence, these
meetings were stolen. They did not ride out brazenly together in
the face of the world. On the contrary, they met always
unobserved, she riding across the many-gated backroad from
Berkeley to meet him halfway. Nor did they ride on any save
unfrequented roads, preferring to cross the second range of hills
and travel among a church-going farmer folk who would scarcely
have recognized even Daylight from his newspaper photographs.
He found Dede a good horsewoman--good not merely in riding but in
endurance. There were days when they covered sixty, seventy, and
even eighty miles; nor did Dede ever claim any day too long,
nor--another strong recommendation to Daylight--did the hardest
day ever the slightest chafe of the chestnut sorrel's back. "A
sure enough hummer," was Daylight's stereotyped but ever
enthusiastic verdict to himself.
They learned much of each other on these long, uninterrupted
rides. They had nothing much to talk about but themselves, and,
while she received a liberal education concerning Arctic travel
and gold-mining, he, in turn, touch by touch, painted an ever
clearer portrait of her. She amplified the ranch life of her
girlhood, prattling on about horses and dogs and persons and
things until it was as if he saw the whole process of her growth
and her becoming. All this he was able to trace on through the
period of her father's failure and death, when she had been
compelled to leave the university and go into office work. The
brother, too, she spoke of, and of her long struggle to have him
cured and of her now fading hopes. Daylight decided that it was
easier to come to an understanding of her than he had
anticipated, though he was always aware that behind and under all
he knew of her was the mysterious and baffling woman and sex.
There, he was humble enough to confess to himself, was a
chartless, shoreless sea, about which he knew nothing and which
he must nevertheless somehow navigate.
His lifelong fear of woman had originated out of
non-understanding and had also prevented him from reaching any
understanding. Dede on horseback, Dede gathering poppies on a
summer hillside, Dede taking down dictation in her swift
shorthand strokes--all this was comprehensible to him. But he
did not know the Dede who so quickly changed from mood to mood,
the Dede who refused steadfastly to ride with him and then
suddenly consented, the Dede in whose eyes the golden glow
forever waxed and waned and whispered hints and messages that
were not for his ears. In all such things he saw the glimmering
profundities of sex, acknowledged their lure, and accepted them
There was another side of her, too, of which he was consciously
ignorant. She knew the books, was possessed of that mysterious
and awful thing called "culture." And yet, what continually
surprised him was that this culture was never obtruded on their
intercourse. She did not talk books, nor art, nor similar
folderols. Homely minded as he was himself, he found her almost
equally homely minded. She liked the simple and the
out-of-doors, the horses and the hills, the sunlight and the
flowers. He found himself in a partly new flora, to which she
was the guide, pointing out to him all the varieties of the oaks,
making him acquainted with the madrono and the manzanita,
teaching him the names, habits, and habitats of unending series
of wild flowers, shrubs, and ferns. Her keen woods eye was
another delight to him. It had been trained in the open, and
little escaped it. One day, as a test, they strove to see which
could discover the greater number of birds' nests. And he, who
had always prided himself on his own acutely trained observation,
found himself hard put to keep his score ahead. At the end of
the day he was but three nests in the lead, one of which she
challenged stoutly and of which even he confessed serious doubt.
He complimented her and told her that her success must be due to
the fact that she was a bird herself, with all a bird's keen
vision and quick-flashing ways.
The more he knew her the more he became convinced of this
birdlike quality in her. That was why she liked to ride, he
argued. It was the nearest approach to flying. A field of
poppies, a glen of ferns, a row of poplars on a country lane, the
tawny brown of a hillside, the shaft of sunlight on a distant
peak--all such were provocative of quick joys which seemed to him
like so many outbursts of song. Her joys were in little things,
and she seemed always singing. Even in sterner things it was the
same. When she rode Bob and fought with that magnificent brute
for mastery, the qualities of an eagle were uppermost in her.
These quick little joys of hers were sources of joy to him. He
joyed in her joy, his eyes as excitedly fixed on her as bears
were fixed on the object of her attention. Also through her he
came to a closer discernment and keener appreciation of nature.
She showed him colors in the landscape that he would never have
dreamed were there. He had known only the primary colors. All
colors of red were red. Black was black, and brown was just
plain brown until it became yellow, when it was no longer brown.
Purple he had always imagined was red, something like blood,
until she taught him better. Once they rode out on a high hill
brow where wind-blown poppies blazed about their horses' knees,
and she was in an ecstasy over the lines of the many distances.
Seven, she counted, and he, who had gazed on landscapes all his
life, for the first time learned what a "distance" was. After
that, and always, he looked upon the face of nature with a more
seeing eye, learning a delight of his own in surveying the
serried ranks of the upstanding ranges, and in slow contemplation
of the purple summer mists that haunted the languid creases of
the distant hills.
But through it all ran the golden thread of love. At first he
had been content just to ride with Dede and to be on comradely
terms with her; but the desire and the need for her increased.
The more he knew of her, the higher was his appraisal. Had she
been reserved and haughty with him, or been merely a giggling,
simpering creature of a woman, it would have been different.
Instead, she amazed him with her simplicity and wholesomeness,
with her great store of comradeliness. This latter was the
unexpected. He had never looked upon woman in that way. Woman,
the toy; woman, the harpy; woman, the necessary wife and mother
of the race's offspring,--all this had been his expectation and
understanding of woman. But woman, the comrade and playfellow
and joyfellow--this was what Dede had surprised him in. And the
more she became worth while, the more ardently his love burned,
unconsciously shading his voice with caresses, and with equal
unconsciousness flaring up signal fires in his eyes. Nor was she
blind to it yet, like many women before her, she thought to play
with the pretty fire and escape the consequent conflagration.
"Winter will soon be coming on," she said regretfully, and with
provocation, one day, "and then there won't be any more riding."
"But I must see you in the winter just the same," he cried
She shook her head.
"We have been very happy and all that," she said, looking at him
with steady frankness. "I remember your foolish argument for
getting acquainted, too; but it won't lead to anything; it can't.
I know myself too well to be mistaken."
Her face was serious, even solicitous with desire not to hurt,
and her eyes were unwavering, but in them was the light, golden
and glowing--the abyss of sex into which he was now unafraid to
"I've been pretty good," he declared. "I leave it to you if I
haven't. It's been pretty hard, too, I can tell you. You just
think it over. Not once have I said a word about love to you,
and me loving you all the time. That's going some for a man
that's used to having his own way. I'm somewhat of a rusher when
it comes to travelling. I reckon I'd rush God Almighty if it
came to a race over the ice. And yet I didn't rush you. I guess
this fact is an indication of how much I do love you. Of course
I want you to marry me. Have I said a word about it, though?
Nary a chirp, nary a flutter. I've been quiet and good, though
it's almost made me sick at times, this keeping quiet. I haven't
asked you to marry me. I'm not asking you now. Oh, not but what
you satisfy me. I sure know you're the wife for me. But how
about myself ? Do you know me well enough know your own mind?"
He shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know, and I ain't going to
take chances on it now. You've got to know for sure whether you
think you could get along with me or not, and I'm playing a slow
conservative game. I ain't a-going to lose for overlooking my
This was love-making of a sort beyond Dede's experience. Nor had
she ever heard of anything like it. Furthermore, its lack of
ardor carried with it a shock which she could overcome only by
remembering the way his hand had trembled in the past, and by
remembering the passion she had seen that very day and every day
in his eyes, or heard in his voice. Then, too, she recollected
what he had said to her weeks before: "Maybe you don't know what
patience is," he had said, and thereat told her of shooting
squirrels with a big rifle the time he and Elijah Davis had
starved on the Stewart River.
"So you see," he urged, "just for a square deal we've got to see
some more of each other this winter. Most likely your mind ain't
made up yet--"
"But it is," she interrupted. "I wouldn't dare permit myself to
care for you. Happiness, for me, would not lie that way. I like
you, Mr. Harnish, and all that, but it can never be more than
"It's because you don't like my way of living," he charged,
thinking in his own mind of the sensational joyrides and general
profligacy with which the newspapers had credited him--thinking
this, and wondering whether or not, in maiden modesty, she would
disclaim knowledge of it.
To his surprise, her answer was flat and uncompromising.
"No; I don't."
"I know I've been brash on some of those rides that got into the
papers," he began his defense, "and that I've been travelling
with a lively crowd."
"I don't mean that," she said, "though I know about it too, and
can't say that I like it. But it is your life in general, your
business. There are women in the world who could marry a man
like you and be happy, but I couldn't. And the more I cared for
such a man, the more unhappy I should be. You see, my
unhappiness, in turn, would tend to make him unhappy. I should
make a mistake, and he would make an equal mistake, though his
would not be so hard on him because he would still have his
"Business!" Daylight gasped. "What's wrong with my business? I
play fair and square. There's nothing under hand about it, which
can't be said of most businesses, whether of the big corporations
or of the cheating, lying, little corner-grocerymen. I play the
straight rules of the game, and I don't have to lie or cheat or
break my word."
Dede hailed with relief the change in the conversation and at the
same time the opportunity to speak her mind.
"In ancient Greece," she began pedantically, "a man was judged a
good citizen who built houses, planted trees--" She did not
complete the quotation, but drew the conclusion hurriedly. "How
many houses have you built? How many trees have you planted?"
He shook his head noncommittally, for he had not grasped the
drift of the argument.
"Well," she went on, "two winters ago you cornered coal--"
"Just locally," he grinned reminiscently, "just locally. And I
took advantage of the car shortage and the strike in British
"But you didn't dig any of that coal yourself. Yet you forced it
up four dollars a ton and made a lot of money. That was your
business. You made the poor people pay more for their coal. You
played fair, as you said, but you put your hands down into all
their pockets and took their money away from them. I know. I
burn a grate fire in my sitting-room at Berkeley. And instead of
eleven dollars a ton for Rock Wells, I paid fifteen dollars that
winter. You robbed me of four dollars. I could stand it. But
there were thousands of the very poor who could not stand it.
You might call it legal gambling, but to me it was downright
Daylight was not abashed. This was no revelation to him. He
remembered the old woman who made wine in the Sonoma hills and
the millions like her who were made to be robbed.
"Now look here, Miss Mason, you've got me there slightly, I
grant. But you've seen me in business a long time now, and you
know I don't make a practice of raiding the poor people. I go
after the big fellows. They're my meat. They rob the poor, and
I rob them. That coal deal was an accident. I wasn't after the
poor people in that, but after the big fellows, and I got them,
too. The poor people happened to get in the way and got hurt,
that was all.
"Don't you see," he went on, "the whole game is a gamble.
Everybody gambles in one way or another. The farmer gambles
against the weather and the market on his crops. So does the
United States Steel Corporation. The business of lots of men is
straight robbery of the poor people. But I've never made that my
business. You know that. I've always gone after the robbers."
"I missed my point," she admitted. "Wait a minute."
And for a space they rode in silence.
"I see it more clearly than I can state it, but it's something
like this. There is legitimate work, and there's work
that isn't legitimate. The farmer works the soil and produces
grain. He's making something that is good for humanity. He
actually, in a way, creates something, the grain that will fill
mouths of the hungry."
"And then the railroads and market-riggers and the rest proceed
to rob him of that same grain,"--Daylight broke in Dede smiled
held up her hand.
"Wait a minute. You'll make me lose my point. It doesn't hurt
if they rob him of all of it so that he starves to death. The
point is that the wheat he grew is still in the world. It
exists. Don't you see? The farmer created something, say ten
tons of wheat, and those ten tons exist. The railroads haul the
wheat to market, to the mouths that will eat it. This also is
legitimate. It's like some one bringing you a glass of water,
or taking a cinder out of your eye. Something has been done, in
way been created, just like the wheat."
"But the railroads rob like Sam Scratch," Daylight objected.
"Then the work they do is partly legitimate and partly not. Now
we come to you. You don't create anything. Nothing new exists
when you're done with your business. Just like the coal. You
didn't dig it. You didn't haul it to market. You didn't deliver
it. Don't you see? that's what I meant by planting the trees
and building the houses. You haven't planted one tree nor built
a single house."
"I never guessed there was a woman in the world who could talk
business like that," he murmured admiringly. "And you've got me
on that point. But there's a lot to be said on my side just the
same. Now you listen to me. I'm going to talk under three
heads. Number one: We live a short time, the best of us, and
we're a long time dead. Life is a big gambling game. Some are
born lucky and some are born unlucky. Everybody sits in at the
table, and everybody tries to rob everybody else. Most of them
get robbed. They're born suckers.
"Fellow like me comes along and sizes up the proposition. I've
two choices. I can herd with the suckers, or I can herd with the
robbers. As a sucker, I win nothing. Even the crusts of bread
snatched out of my mouth by the robbers. I work hard all my
and die working. And I ain't never had a flutter. I've had
nothing but work, work, work. They talk about the dignity of
labor. I tell you there ain't no dignity in that sort of labor.
My other choice is to herd with the robbers, and I herd with
I play that choice wide open to win. I get the automobiles, and
the porterhouse steaks, and the soft beds.
"Number two: There ain't much difference between playing halfway
robber like the railroad hauling that farmer's wheat to market,
and playing all robber and robbing the robbers like I do. And,
besides, halfway robbery is too slow a game for me to sit in.
You don't win quick enough for me."
"But what do you want to win for?" Dede demanded. "You have
millions and millions, already. You can't ride in more than one
automobile at a time, sleep in more than one bed at a time."
"Number three answers that," he said, "and here it is: Men and
things are so made that they have different likes. A rabbit
likes a vegetarian diet. A lynx likes meat. Ducks swim;
chickens are scairt of water. One man collects postage stamps,
another man collects butterflies. This man goes in for
paintings, that man goes in for yachts, and some other fellow for
hunting big game. One man thinks horse-racing is It, with a big
I, and another man finds the biggest satisfaction in actresses.
They can't help these likes. They have them, and what are they
going to do about it? Now I like gambling. I like to play the
game. I want to play it big and play it quick. I'm just made
that way. And I play it."
"But why can't you do good with all your money?"
"Doing good with your money! It's like slapping God in the face,
as much as to tell him that he don't know how to run his world
and that you'll be much obliged if he'll stand out of the way and
give you a chance. Thinking about God doesn't keep me sitting up
nights, so I've got another way of looking at it. Ain't it
funny, to go around with brass knuckles and a big club breaking
folks' heads and taking their money away from them until I've got
a pile, and then, repenting of my ways, going around and
bandaging up the heads the other robbers are breaking? I leave
it to you. That's what doing good with money amounts to. Every
once in a while some robber turns soft-hearted and takes to
driving an ambulance. That's what Carnegie did. He smashed
heads in pitched battles at Homestead, regular wholesale
head-breaker he was, held up the suckers for a few hundred
million, and now he goes around dribbling it back to them.
funny? I leave it to you."
He rolled a cigarette and watched her half curiously, half
amusedly. His replies and harsh generalizations of a harsh
school were disconcerting, and she came back to her earlier
"I can't argue with you, and you know that. No matter how right
a woman is, men have such a way about them well, what they say
sounds most convincing, and yet the woman is still certain they
are wrong. But there is one thing--the creative joy. Call it
gambling if you will, but just the same it seems to me more
satisfying to create something, make something, than just to roll
dice out of a dice-box all day long. Why, sometimes, for
exercise, or when I've got to pay fifteen dollars for coal, I
curry Mab and give her a whole half hour's brushing. And when I
see her coat clean and shining and satiny, I feel a satisfaction
in what I've done. So it must be with the man who builds a house
or plants a tree. He can look at it. He made it. It's his
handiwork. Even if somebody like you comes along and takes his
tree away from him, still it is there, and still did he make it.
You can't rob him of that, Mr. Harnish, with all your millions.
It's the creative joy, and it's a higher joy than mere gambling.
Haven't you ever made things yourself--a log cabin up in the
Yukon, or a canoe, or raft, or something? And don't you remember
how satisfied you were, how good you felt, while you were doing
it and after you had it done?"
While she spoke his memory was busy with the associations she
recalled. He saw the deserted flat on the river bank by the
Klondike, and he saw the log cabins and warehouses spring up, and
all the log structures he had built, and his sawmills working
night and day on three shifts.
"Why, dog-gone it, Miss Mason, you're right--in a way. I've
built hundreds of houses up there, and I remember I was proud and
glad to see them go up. I'm proud now, when I remember them.
And there was Ophir--the most God-forsaken moose-pasture of a
creek you ever laid eyes on. I made that into the big Ophir.
Why, I ran the water in there from the Rinkabilly, eighty miles
away. They all said I couldn't, but I did it, and I did it by
myself. The dam and the flume cost me four million. But you
should have seen that Ophir--power plants, electric lights, and
hundreds of men on the pay-roll, working night and day. I guess
I do get an inkling of what you mean by making a thing. I made
Ophir, and by God, she was a sure hummer--I beg your pardon. I
didn't mean to cuss. But that Ophir !--I sure am proud of her
now, just as the last time I laid eyes on her."
"And you won something there that was more than mere money," Dede
encouraged. "Now do you know what I would do if I had lots of
money and simply had to go on playing at business? Take all the
southerly and westerly slopes of these bare hills. I'd buy them
in and plant eucalyptus on them. I'd do it for the joy of doing
it anyway; but suppose I had that gambling twist in me which you
talk about, why, I'd do it just the same and make money out of
the trees. And there's my other point again. Instead of raising
the price of coal without adding an ounce of coal to the market
supply, I'd be making thousands and thousands of cords of
firewood--making something where nothing was before. And
everybody who ever crossed on the ferries would look up at these
forested hills and be made glad. Who was made glad by your
adding four dollars a ton to Rock Wells?"
It was Daylight's turn to be silent for a time while she waited
"Would you rather I did things like that?" he asked at last.
"It would be better for the world, and better for you," she
All week every one in the office knew that something new and big
was afoot in Daylight's mind. Beyond some deals of no
importance, he had not been interested in anything for several
months. But now he went about in an almost unbroken brown study,
made unexpected and lengthy trips across the bay to Oakland, or
sat at his desk silent and motionless for hours. He seemed
particularly happy with what occupied his mind. At times men
came in and conferred with him--and with new faces and differing
in type from those that usually came to see him.
On Sunday Dede learned all about it. "I've been thinking a lot
of our talk," he began, "and I've got an idea I'd like to give it
a flutter. And I've got a proposition to make your hair stand
up. It's what you call legitimate, and at the same time it's the
gosh-dangdest gamble a man ever went into. How about planting
minutes wholesale, and making two minutes grow where one minute
grew before? Oh, yes, and planting a few trees, too--say several
million of them. You remember the quarry I made believe I was
looking at? Well, I'm going to buy it. I'm going to buy these
hills, too, clear from here around to Berkeley and down the other
way to San Leandro. I own a lot of them already, for that
matter. But mum is the word. I'll be buying a long time to come
before anything much is guessed about it, and I don't want the
market to jump up out of sight. You see that hill over there.
It's my hill running clear down its slopes through Piedmont and
halfway along those rolling hills into Oakland. And it's nothing
to all the things I'm going to buy."
He paused triumphantly. "And all to make two minutes grow where
one grew before?" Dede queried, at the same time laughing
heartily at his affectation of mystery.
He stared at her fascinated. She had such a frank, boyish way of
throwing her head back when she laughed. And her teeth were an
unending delight to him. Not small, yet regular and firm,
without a blemish, he considered then the healthiest, whitest,
prettiest teeth he had ever seen. And for months he had been
comparing them with the teeth of every woman he met.
It was not until her laughter was over that he was able to
"The ferry system between Oakland and San Francisco is the worst
one-horse concern in the United States. You cross on it every
day, six days in the week. That's say, twenty-five days a month,
or three hundred a year. Now long does it take you one way?
Forty minutes, if you're lucky. I'm going to put you across in
twenty minutes. If that ain't making two minutes grow where one
grew before, knock off my head with little apples. I'll save you
twenty minutes each way. That's forty minutes a day, times three
hundred, equals twelve thousand minutes a year, just for you,
just for one person. Let's see: that's two hundred whole hours.
Suppose I save two hundred hours a year for thousands of other
folks,--that's farming some, ain't it?"
Dede could only nod breathlessly. She had caught the contagion
of his enthusiasm, though she had no clew as to how this great
time-saving was to be accomplished.
"Come on," he said. "Let's ride up that hill, and when I get you
out on top where you can see something, I'll talk sense."
A small footpath dropped down to the dry bed of the canon, which
they crossed before they began the climb. The slope was steep
and covered with matted brush and bushes, through which the
horses slipped and lunged. Bob, growing disgusted, turned back
suddenly and attempted to pass Mab. The mare was thrust sidewise
into the denser bush, where she nearly fell. Recovering, she
flung her weight against Bob. Both riders' legs were caught in
the consequent squeeze, and, as Bob plunged ahead down hill, Dede
was nearly scraped off. Daylight threw his horse on to its
haunches and at the same time dragged Dede back into the saddle.
Showers of twigs and leaves fell upon them, and predicament
followed predicament, until they emerged on the hilltop the worse
for wear but happy and excited. Here no trees obstructed the
view. The particular hill on which they were, out-jutted from
the regular line of the range, so that the sweep of their vision
extended over three-quarters of the circle. Below, on the flat
land bordering the bay, lay Oakland, and across the bay was San
Francisco. Between the two cities they could see the white
ferry-boats on the water. Around to their right was Berkeley,
and to their left the scattered villages between Oakland and San
Leandro. Directly in the foreground was Piedmont, with its
desultory dwellings and patches of farming land, and from
Piedmont the land rolled down in successive waves upon Oakland.
"Look at it," said Daylight, extending his arm in a sweeping
gesture. "A hundred thousand people there, and no reason there
shouldn't be half a million. There's the chance to make five
people grow where one grows now. Here's the scheme in a
nutshell. Why don't more people live in Oakland? No good
service with San Francisco, and, besides, Oakland is asleep.
It's a whole lot better place to live in than San Francisco.
Now, suppose I buy in all the street railways of Oakland,
Berkeley, Alameda, San Leandro, and the rest,--bring them under
one head with a competent management? Suppose I cut the time to
San Francisco one-half by building a big pier out there almost to
Goat Island and establishing a ferry system with modern
up-to-date boats? Why, folks will want to live over on this
side. Very good. They'll need land on which to build. So,
I buy up the land. But the land's cheap now. Why? Because it's
in the country, no electric roads, no quick communication, nobody
guessing that the electric roads are coming. I'll build the
That will make the land jump up. Then I'll sell the land as fast
as the folks will want to buy because of the improved ferry
and transportation facilities.
"You see, I give the value to the land by building the roads.
Then I sell the land and get that value back, and after that,
there's the roads, all carrying folks back and forth and earning
big money. Can't lose. And there's all sorts of millions in it.
I'm going to get my hands on some of that water front and the
tide-lands. Take between where I'm going to build my pier and
the old pier. It's shallow water. I can fill and dredge and put
in a system of docks that will handle hundreds of ships. San
Francisco's water front is congested. No more room for ships.
With hundreds of ships loading and unloading on this side right
into the freight cars of three big railroads, factories will
start up over here instead of crossing to San Francisco. That
means factory sites. That means me buying in the factory sites
before anybody guesses the cat is going to jump, much less, which
way. Factories mean tens of thousands of workingmen and their
families. That means more houses and more land, and that means
me, for I'll be there to sell them the land. And tens of
thousands of families means tens of thousands of nickels every
day for my electric cars. The growing population will mean more
stores, more banks, more everything. And that'll mean me, for
I'll be right there with business property as well as home
property. What do you think of it?"
Therefore she could answer, he was off again, his mind's eye
filled with this new city of his dream which he builded on the
Alameda hills by the gateway to the Orient.
"Do you know--I've been looking it up--the Firth Of Clyde, where
all the steel ships are built, isn't half as wide as Oakland
Creek down there, where all those old hulks lie? Why ain't it a
Firth of Clyde? Because the Oakland City Council spends its time
debating about prunes and raisins. What is needed is somebody to
see things, and, after that, organization. That's me. I didn't
make Ophir for nothing. And once things begin to hum, outside
capital will pour in. All I do is start it going. 'Gentlemen,'
I say, 'here's all the natural advantages for a great metropolis.
God Almighty put them advantages here, and he put me here to see
them. Do you want to land your tea and silk from Asia and ship
it straight East? Here's the docks for your steamers, and here's
the railroads. Do you want factories from which you can ship
direct by land or water? Here's the site, and here's the modern,
up-to-date city, with the latest improvements for yourselves and
your workmen, to live in.'"
"Then there's the water. I'll come pretty close to owning the
watershed. Why not the waterworks too? There's two water
companies in Oakland now, fighting like cats and dogs and both
about broke. What a metropolis needs is a good water system.
They can't give it. They're stick-in-the-muds. I'll gobble them
up and deliver the right article to the city. There's money
there, too--money everywhere. Everything works in with
everything else. Each improvement makes the value of everything
else pump up. It's people that are behind the value. The bigger
the crowd that herds in one place, the more valuable is the real
estate. And this is the very place for a crowd to herd. Look at
it. Just look at it! You could never find a finer site for a
great city. All it needs is the herd, and I'll stampede a couple
of hundred thousand people in here ins two years. And what's
more it won't be one of these wild cat land booms. It will be
legitimate. Twenty years for now there'll be a million people on
this side the bay. Another thing is hotels. There isn't a
decent one in the town. I'll build a couple of up-to-date ones
that'll make them sit up and take notice. I won't care if they
don't pay for years. Their effect will more than give me my
money back out of the other holdings. And, oh, yes, I'm going to
plant eucalyptus, millions of them, on these hills."
"But how are you going to do it?" Dede asked. "You haven't
enough money for all that you've planned."
"I've thirty million, and if I need more I can borrow on the land
and other things. Interest on mortgages won't anywhere near eat
up the increase in land values, and I'll be selling land right
In the weeks that followed, Daylight was a busy man. He spent
most of his time in Oakland, rarely coming to the office. He
planned to move the office to Oakland, but, as he told Dede, the
secret preliminary campaign of buying had to be put through
first. Sunday by Sunday, now from this hilltop and now from
that, they looked down upon the city and its farming suburbs, and
he pointed out to her his latest acquisitions. At first it was
patches and sections of land here and there; but as the weeks
passed it was the unowned portions that became rare, until at
last they stood as islands surrounded by Daylight's land.
It meant quick work on a colossal scale, for Oakland and the
adjacent country was not slow to feel the tremendous buying. But
Daylight had the ready cash, and it had always been his policy to
strike quickly. Before the others could get the warning of the
boom, he quietly accomplished many things. At the same time that
his agents were purchasing corner lots and entire blocks in the
heart of the business section and the waste lands for factory
sites, Day was rushing franchises through the city council,
capturing the two exhausted water companies and the eight or nine
independent street railways, and getting his grip on the Oakland
Creek and the bay tide-lands for his dock system. The tide-lands
had been in litigation for years, and he took the bull by the
horns--buying out the private owners and at the same time leasing
from the city fathers.
By the time that Oakland was aroused by this unprecedented
activity in every direction and was questioning excitedly the
meaning of it, Daylight secretly bought the chief Republican
newspaper and the chief Democratic organ, and moved boldly into
his new offices. Of necessity, they were on a large scale,
occupying four floors of the only modern office building in the
town--the only building that wouldn't have to be torn down later
on, as Daylight put it. There was department after department, a
score of them, and hundreds of clerks and stenographers. As he
told Dede: "I've got more companies than you can shake a stick
at. There's the Alameda & Contra Costa Land Syndicate, the
Consolidated Street Railways, the Yerba Buena Ferry Company, the
United Water Company, the Piedmont Realty Company, the Fairview
and Portola Hotel Company, and half a dozen more that I've got to
refer to a notebook to remember. There's the Piedmont Laundry
Farm, and Redwood Consolidated Quarries. Starting in with our
quarry, I just kept a-going till I got them all. And there's the
ship-building company I ain't got a name for yet. Seeing as I
had to have ferry-boats, I decided to build them myself. They'll
be done by the time the pier is ready for them. Phew! It all
sure beats poker. And I've had the fun of gouging the robber
gangs as well. The water company bunches are squealing yet. I
sure got them where the hair was short. They were just about all
in when I came along and finished them off."
"But why do you hate them so?" Dede asked.
"Because they're such cowardly skunks."
"But you play the same game they do."
"Yes; but not in the same way." Daylight regarded her
thoughtfully. "When I say cowardly skunks, I mean just
that,--cowardly skunks. They set up for a lot of gamblers, and
there ain't one in a thousand of them that's got the nerve to be
a gambler. They're four-flushers, if you know what that means.
They're a lot of little cottontail rabbits making believe they're
big rip-snorting timber wolves. They set out to everlastingly
eat up some proposition but at the first sign of trouble they
turn tail and stampede for the brush. Look how it works. When
the big fellows wanted to unload Little Copper, they sent Jakey
Fallow into the New York Stock Exchange to yell out: 'I'll buy
all or any part of Little Copper at fifty five,' Little Copper
being at fifty-four. And in thirty minutes them cottontails--
financiers, some folks call them--bid up Little Copper to sixty.
And an hour after that, stampeding for the brush, they were
throwing Little Copper overboard at forty-five and even forty.
"They're catspaws for the big fellows. Almost as fast as they
rob the suckers, the big fellows come along and hold them up. Or
else the big fellows use them in order to rob each other. That's
the way the Chattanooga Coal and Iron Company was swallowed up by
the trust in the last panic. The trust made that panic. It had
to break a couple of big banking companies and squeeze half a
dozen big fellows, too, and it did it by stampeding the
cottontails. The cottontails did the rest all right, and the
trust gathered in Chattanooga Coal and Iron. Why, any man, with
nerve and savvee, can start them cottontails jumping for the
brush. I don't exactly hate them myself, but I haven't any
regard for chicken-hearted four-flushers."
For months Daylight was buried in work. The outlay was terrific,
and there was nothing coming in. Beyond a general rise in land
values, Oakland had not acknowledged his irruption on the
financial scene. The city was waiting for him to show what he
was going to do, and he lost no time about it. The best skilled
brains on the market were hired by him for the different branches
of the work. Initial mistakes he had no patience with, and he
was determined to start right, as when he engaged Wilkinson,
almost doubling his big salary, and brought him out from Chicago
to take charge of the street railway organization. Night and day
the road gangs toiled on the streets. And night and day the
pile-drivers hammered the big piles down into the mud of San
Francisco Bay. The pier was to be three miles long, and the
Berkeley hills were denuded of whole groves of mature eucalyptus
for the piling.
At the same time that his electric roads were building out
through the hills, the hay-fields were being surveyed and broken
up into city squares, with here and there, according to best
modern methods, winding boulevards and strips of park. Broad
streets, well graded, were made, with sewers and water-pipes
ready laid, and macadamized from his own quarries. Cement
sidewalks were also laid, so that all the purchaser had to do was
to select his lot and architect and start building. The quick
service of Daylight's new electric roads into Oakland made this
big district immediately accessible, and long before the ferry
system was in operation hundreds of residences were going up.
The profit on this land was enormous. In a day, his onslaught of
wealth had turned open farming country into one of the best
residential districts of the city.
But this money that flowed in upon him was immediately poured
back into his other investments. The need for electric cars was
so great that he installed his own shops for building them. And
even on the rising land market, he continued to buy choice
factory sites and building properties. On the advice of
Wilkinson, practically every electric road already in operation
was rebuilt. The light, old fashioned rails were torn out and
replaced by the heaviest that were manufactured. Corner lots, on
the sharp turns of narrow streets, were bought and ruthlessly
presented to the city in order to make wide curves for his tracks
and high speed for his cars. Then, too, there were the main-line
feeders for his ferry system, tapping every portion of Oakland,
Alameda, and Berkeley, and running fast expresses to the pier
end. The same large-scale methods were employed in the water
system. Service of the best was needed, if his huge land
investment was to succeed. Oakland had to be made into a
worth-while city, and that was what he intended to do. In
addition to his big hotels, he built amusement parks for the
common people, and art galleries and club-house country inns for
the more finicky classes. Even before there was any increase in
population, a marked increase in street-railway traffic took
place. There was nothing fanciful about his schemes. They were
"What Oakland wants is a first glass theatre," he said, and,
after vainly trying to interest local capital, he started the
building of the theatre himself; for he alone had vision for the
two hundred thousand new people that were coming to the town.
But no matter what pressure was on Daylight, his Sundays he
reserved for his riding in the hills. It was not the winter
weather, however, that brought these rides with Dede to an end.
One Saturday afternoon in the office she told him not to expect
to meet her next day, and, when he pressed for an explanation:
"I've sold Mab."
Daylight was speechless for the moment. Her act meant one of so
many serious things that he couldn't classify it. It smacked
almost of treachery. She might have met with financial disaster.
It might be her way of letting him know she had seen enough of
"What's the matter?" he managed to ask.
"I couldn't afford to keep her with hay forty-five dollars a
ton," Dede answered.
"Was that your only reason?" he demanded, looking at her
steadily; for he remembered her once telling him how she had
brought the mare through one winter, five years before, when hay
had gone as high as sixty dollars a ton.
"No. My brother's expenses have been higher, as well, and I was
driven to the conclusion that since I could not afford both, I'd
better let the mare go and keep the brother."
Daylight felt inexpressibly saddened. He was suddenly aware of a
great emptiness. What would a Sunday be without Dede? And
Sundays without end without her? He drummed perplexedly on the
desk with his fingers.
"Who bought her?" he asked. Dede's eyes flashed in the way long
since familiar to him when she was angry.
"Don't you dare buy her back for me," she cried. "And don't deny
that that was what you had in mind."
"I won't deny it. It was my idea to a tee. But I wouldn't have
done it without asking you first, and seeing how you feel about
it, I won't even ask you. But you thought a heap of that mare,
and it's pretty hard on you to lose her. I'm sure sorry. And
I'm sorry, too, that you won't be riding with me tomorrow. I'll
be plumb lost. I won't know what to do with myself."
"Neither shall I," Dede confessed mournfully, "except that I
shall be able to catch up with my sewing."
"But I haven't any sewing."
Daylight's tone was whimsically plaintive, but secretly he was
delighted with her confession of loneliness. It was almost worth
the loss of the mare to get that out of her. At any rate, he
meant something to her. He was not utterly unliked.
"I wish you would reconsider, Miss Mason," he said softly. "Not
alone for the mare's sake, but for my sake. Money don't cut any
ice in this. For me to buy that mare wouldn't mean as it does to
most men to send a bouquet of flowers or a box of candy to a
young lady. And I've never sent you flowers or candy." He
observed the warning flash of her eyes, and hurried on to escape
refusal. "I'll tell you what we'll do. Suppose I buy the mare
and own her myself, and lend her to you when you want to ride.
There's nothing wrong in that. Anybody borrows a horse from
anybody, you know."
Agin he saw refusal, and headed her off.
"Lots of men take women buggy-riding. There's nothing wrong in
that. And the man always furnishes the horse and buggy. Well,
now, what's the difference between my taking you buggy-riding and
furnishing the horse and buggy, and taking you horse-back-riding
and furnishing the horses?"
She shook her head, and declined to answer, at the same time
looking at the door as if to intimate that it was time for this
unbusinesslike conversation to end. He made one more effort.
"Do you know, Miss Mason, I haven't a friend in the world outside
you? I mean a real friend, man or woman, the kind you chum with,
you know, and that you're glad to be with and sorry to be away
from. Hegan is the nearest man I get to, and he's a million
miles away from me. Outside business, we don't hitch. He's got
a big library of books, and some crazy kind of culture, and he
spends all his off times reading things in French and German and
other outlandish lingoes--when he ain't writing plays and poetry.
There's nobody I feel chummy with except you, and you know how
little we've chummed--once a week, if it didn't rain, on Sunday.
I've grown kind of to depend on you. You're a sort of--of--of--"
"A sort of habit," she said with a smile.
"That's about it. And that mare, and you astride of her, coming
along the road under the trees or through the sunshine--why, with
both you and the mare missing, there won't be anything worth
waiting through the week for. If you'd just let me buy her
"No, no; I tell you no." Dede rose impatiently, but her eyes
were moist with the memory of her pet. "Please don't mention her
to me again. If you think it was easy to part with her, you are
mistaken. But I've seen the last of her, and I want to forget
Daylight made no answer, and the door closed behind him.
Half an hour later he was conferring with Jones, the erstwhile
elevator boy and rabid proletarian whom Daylight long before had
grubstaked to literature for a year. The resulting novel had
been a failure. Editors and publishers would not look at it, and
now Daylight was using the disgruntled author in a little private
secret service system he had been compelled to establish for
himself. Jones, who affected to be surprised at nothing after
his crushing experience with railroad freight rates on firweood
and charcoal, betrayed no surprise now when the task was given to
him to locate the purchaser of a certain sorrel mare.
"How high shall I pay for her?" he asked.
"Any price. You've got to get her, that's the point. Drive a
sharp bargain so as not to excite suspicion, but her. Then you
deliver her to that address up in Sonoma County. The man's the
caretaker on a little ranch I have there. Tell him he's to take
whacking good care of her. And after that forget all about it.
Don't tell me the name of the man you buy her from. Don't tell
me anything about it except that you've got her and delivered
But the week had not passed, when Daylight noted the flash in
Dede's eyes that boded trouble.
"Something's gone wrong--what is it?" he asked boldly.
"Mab," she said. "The man who bought her has sold her already.
If I thought you had anything to do with it--"
"I don't even know who you sold her to," was Daylight's answer.
"And what's more, I'm not bothering my head about her. She was
your mare, and it's none of my business what you did with her.
You haven't got her, that's sure and worse luck. And now, while
we're on touchy subjects, I'm going to open another one with you.
And you needn't get touchy about it, for it's not really your
business at all."
She waited in the pause that followed, eyeing him almost
"It's about that brother of yours. He needs more than you can do
for him. Selling that mare of yours won't send him to Germany.
And that's what his own doctors say he needs--that crack German
specialist who rips a man's bones and muscles into pulp and then
molds them all over again. Well, I want to send him to Germany
and give that crack a flutter, that's all."
"If it were only possible" she said, half breathlessly, and
wholly without anger. "Only it isn't, and you know it isn't. I
can't accept money from you--"
"Hold on, now," he interrupted. "Wouldn't you accept a drink of
water from one of the Twelve Apostles if you was dying of thirst?
Or would you be afraid of his evil intentions"--she made a
gesture of dissent "--or of folks might say about it?"
"But that's different," she began.
"Now look here, Miss Mason. You've got to get some foolish
notions out of your head. This money notion is one of the
funniest things I've seen. Suppose you was falling over a cliff,
wouldn't it be all right for me to reach out and hold you by the
arm? Sure it would. But suppose you ended another sort of
help--instead of the strength of arm, the strength of my pocket?
That would be all and that's what they all say. But why do they
say it. Because the robber gangs want all the suckers to be
honest and respect money. If the suckers weren't honest and
didn't respect money, where would the robbers be? Don't you see?
The robbers don't deal in arm-holds; they deal in dollars.
Therefore arm-holds are just common and ordinary, while dollars
are sacred--so sacred that you didn't let me lend you a hand with
"Or here's another way," he continued, spurred on by her mute
protest. "It's all right for me to give the strength of my arm
when you're falling over a cliff. But if I take that same
strength of arm and use it at pick-and-shovel work for a day and
earn two dollars, you won't have anything to do with the two
dollars. Yet it's the same old strength of arm in a new form,
that's all. Besides, in this proposition it won't be a claim on
you. It ain't even a loan to you. It's an arm-hold I'm giving
your brother--just the same sort of arm-hold as if he was falling
over a cliff. And a nice one you are, to come running out and
yell 'Stop!' at me, and let your brother go on over the cliff.
What he needs to save his legs is that crack in Germany, and
that's the arm-hold I'm offering.
"Wish you could see my rooms. Walls all decorated with horsehair
bridles--scores of them--hundreds of them. They're no use to me,
and they cost like Sam Scratch. But there's a lot of convicts
making them, and I go on buying. Why, I've spent more money in a
single night on whiskey than would get the best specialists and
pay all the expenses of a dozen cases like your brother's. And
remember, you've got nothing to do with this. If your brother
wants to look on it as a loan, all right. It's up to him, and
you've got to stand out of the way while I pull him back from
Still Dede refused, and Daylight's argument took a more painful
"I can only guess that you're standing in your brother's way on
account of some mistaken idea in your head that this is my idea
of courting. Well, it ain't. You might as well think I'm
courting all those convicts I buy bridles from. I haven't asked
you to marry me, and if I do I won't come trying to buy you into
consenting. And there won't be anything underhand when I come
Dede's face was flushed and angry. "If you knew how ridiculous
are, you'd stop," she blurted out. "You can make me more
uncomfortable than any man I ever knew. Every little while you
give me to understand that you haven't asked me to marry you yet.
I'm not waiting to be asked, and I warned you from the first that
you had no chance. And yet you hold it over my head that some
time, some day, you're going to ask me to marry you. Go ahead
ask me now, and get your answer and get it over and done with."
He looked at her in honest and pondering admiration. "I want you
so bad, Miss Mason, that I don't dast to ask you now," he said,
with such whimsicality and earnestness as to make her throw her
head back in a frank boyish laugh. "Besides, as I told you, I'm
green at it. I never went a-courting before, and I don't want to
make any mistakes."
"But you're making them all the time," she cried impulsively.
"No man ever courted a woman by holding a threatened proposal
over her head like a club."
"I won't do it any more," he said humbly. "And anyway, we're off
the argument. My straight talk a minute ago still holds. You're
standing in your brother's way. No matter what notions you've
got in your head, you've got to get out of the way and give him a
chance. Will you let me go and see him and talk it over with
him? I'll make it a hard and fast business proposition. I'll
stake him to get well, that's all, and charge him interest."
She visibly hesitated.
"And just remember one thing, Miss Mason: it's HIS leg, not
Still she refrained from giving her answer, and Daylight went on
strengthening his position.
"And remember, I go over to see him alone. He's a man, and I can
deal with him better without womenfolks around. I'll go over
Daylight had been wholly truthful when he told Dede that he had
no real friends. On speaking terms with thousands, on fellowship
and drinking terms with hundreds, he was a lonely man. He failed
to find the one man, or group of several men, with whom he could
be really intimate. Cities did not make for comradeship as did
the Alaskan trail. Besides, the types of men were different.
Scornful and contemptuous of business men on the one hand, on the
other his relations with the San Francisco bosses had been more
an alliance of expediency than anything else. He had felt more
of kinship for the franker brutality of the bosses and their
captains, but they had failed to claim any deep respect. They
were too prone to crookedness. Bonds were better than men's word
in this modern world, and one had to look carefully to the bonds.
In the old Yukon days it had been different. Bonds didn't go. A
man said he had so much, and even in a poker game his appeasement
Larry Hegan, who rose ably to the largest demands of Daylight's
operations and who had few illusions and less hypocrisy, might
have proved a chum had it not been for his temperamental twist.
Strange genius that he was, a Napoleon of the law, with a power
of visioning that far exceeded Daylight's, he had nothing in
common with Daylight outside the office. He spent his time with
books, a thing Daylight could not abide. Also, he devoted
himself to the endless writing of plays which never got beyond
manuscript form, and, though Daylight only sensed the secret
taint of it, was a confirmed but temperate eater of hasheesh.
Hegan lived all his life cloistered with books in a world of
agitation. With the out-of-door world he had no understanding
nor tolerance. In food and drink he was abstemious as a monk,
while exercise was a thing abhorrent. Daylight's friendships, in
lieu of anything closer, were drinking friendships and roistering
friendships. And with the passing of the Sunday rides with Dede,
he fell back more and more upon these for diversion. The
cocktail wall of inhibition he reared more assiduously than ever.
The big red motor-car was out more frequently now, while a stable
hand was hired to give Bob exercise. In his early San Francisco
days, there had been intervals of easement between his deals, but
in this present biggest deal of all the strain was unremitting.
Not in a month, or two, or three, could his huge land investment
be carried to a successful consummation. And so complete and
wide-reaching was it that complications and knotty situations
constantly arose. Every day brought its problems, and when he
had solved them in his masterful way, he left the office in his
big car, almost sighing with relief at anticipation of the
approaching double Martini. Rarely was he made tipsy. His
constitution was too strong for that. Instead, he was that
direst of all drinkers, the steady drinker, deliberate and
controlled, who averaged a far higher quantity of alcohol than
the irregular and violent drinker. For six weeks hard-running he
had seen nothing of Dede except in the office, and there he
resolutely refrained from making approaches. But by the seventh
Sunday his hunger for her overmastered him. It was a stormy day.
A heavy southeast gale was blowing, and squall after squall of
rain and wind swept over the city. He could not take his mind
off of her, and a persistent picture came to him of her sitting
by a window and sewing feminine fripperies of some sort. When
the time came for his first pre-luncheon cocktail to be served to
him in his rooms, he did not take it.
Filled with a daring determination, he glanced at his note book
for Dede's telephone number, and called for the switch.
At first it was her landlady's daughter who was raised, but in a
minute he heard the voice he had been hungry to hear.
"I just wanted to tell you that I'm coming out to see you," he
said. "I didn't want to break in on you without warning, that
"Has something happened?" came her voice.
"I'll tell you when I get there," he evaded.
He left the red car two blocks away and arrived on foot at the
pretty, three-storied, shingled Berkeley house. For an instant
only, he was aware of an inward hesitancy, but the next moment he
rang the bell. He knew that what he was doing was in direct
violation of her wishes, and that he was setting her a difficult
task to receive as a Sunday caller the multimillionaire and
notorious Elam Harnish of newspaper fame. On the other hand, the
one thing he did not expect of her was what he would have termed
"silly female capers."
And in this he was not disappointed.
She came herself to the door to receive him and shake hands with
him. He hung his mackintosh and hat on the rack in the
comfortable square hall and turned to her for direction.
"They are busy in there," she said, indicating the parlor from
which came the boisterous voices of young people, and through the
open door of which he could see several college youths. "So you
will have to come into my rooms."
She led the way through the door opening out of the hall to the
right, and, once inside, he stood awkwardly rooted to the floor,
gazing about him and at her and all the time trying not to gaze.
In his perturbation he failed to hear and see her invitation to a
seat. So these were her quarters. the intimacy of it and her
making no fuss about it was startling, but it was no more than he
would have expected of her. It was almost two rooms in one, the
one he was in evidently the sitting-room, and the one he could
see into, the bedroom. Beyond an oaken dressing-table, with an
orderly litter of combs and brushes and dainty feminine
knickknacks, there was no sign of its being used as a bedroom.
The broad couch, with a cover of old rose and banked high with
cushions, he decided must be the bed, but it was farthest from
any experience of a civilized bed he had ever had.
Not that he saw much of detail in that awkward moment of
standing. His general impression was one of warmth and comfort
and beauty. There were no carpets, and on the hardwood floor he
caught a glimpse of several wolf and coyote skins. What captured
and perceptibly held his eye for a moment was a Crouched Venus
that stood on a Steinway upright against a background of
mountain-lion skin on the wall.
But it was Dede herself that smote most sharply upon sense and
perception. He had always cherished the idea that she was very
much a woman--the lines of her figure, her hair, her eyes, her
voice, and birdlike laughing ways had all contributed to this;
but here, in her own rooms, clad in some flowing, clinging gown,
the emphasis of sex was startling. He had been accustomed to her
only in trim tailor suits and shirtwaists, or in riding costume
of velvet corduroy, and he was not prepared for this new
revelation. She seemed so much softer, so much more pliant, and
tender, and lissome. She was a part of this atmosphere of
quietude and beauty. She fitted into it just as she had fitted
in with the sober office furnishings.
"Won't you sit down?" she repeated.
He felt like an animal long denied food. His hunger for her
welled up in him, and he proceeded to "wolf" the dainty morsel
before him. Here was no patience, no diplomacy. The
straightest, direct way was none too quick for him and, had he
known it, the least unsuccessful way he could have chosen.
"Look here," he said, in a voice that shook with passion,
"there's one thing I won't do, and that's propose to you in the
office. That's why I'm here. Dede Mason, I want you. I just
While he spoke he advanced upon her, his black eyes burning with
bright fire, his aroused blood swarthy in his cheek.
So precipitate was he, that she had barely time to cry out her
involuntary alarm and to step back, at the same time catching one
of his hands as he attempted to gather her into his arms.
In contrast to him, the blood had suddenly left her cheeks. The
hand that had warded his off and that still held it, was
trembling. She relaxed her fingers, and his arm dropped to his
side. She wanted to say something, do something, to pass on from
the awkwardness of the situation, but no intelligent thought nor
action came into her mind. She was aware only of a desire to
laugh. This impulse was party hysterical and partly spontaneous
humor--the latter growing from instant to instant. Amazing as
the affair was, the ridiculous side of it was not veiled to her.
She felt like one who had suffered the terror of the onslaught of
a murderous footpad only to find out that it was an innocent
pedestrian asking the time.
Daylight was the quicker to achieve action. "Oh, I know I'm a
sure enough fool," he said. "I-I guess I'll sit down. Don't be
scairt, Miss Mason. I'm not real dangerous."
"I'm not afraid," she answered, with a smile, slipping down
herself into a chair, beside which, on the floor, stood a
sewing-basket from which, Daylight noted, some white fluffy thing
of lace and muslin overflowed. Again she smiled. "Though I
confess you did startle me for the moment."
"It's funny," Daylight sighed, almost with regret; "here I am,
strong enough to bend you around and tie knots in you. Here I
am, used to having my will with man and beast and anything. And
here I am sitting in this chair, as weak and helpless as a little
lamb. You sure take the starch out of me."
Dede vainly cudgeled her brains in quest of a reply to these
remarks. Instead, her thought dwelt insistently upon the
significance of his stepping aside, in the middle of a violent
proposal, in order to make irrelevant remarks. What struck her
was the man's certitude. So little did he doubt that he would
have her, that he could afford to pause and generalize upon love
and the effects of love.
She noted his hand unconsciously slipping in the familiar way
into the side coat pocket where she knew he carried his tobacco
and brown papers.
"You may smoke, if you want to," she said. He withdrew his hand
with a jerk, as if something in the pocket had stung him.
"No, I wasn't thinking of smoking. I was thinking of you.
What's a man to do when he wants a woman but ask her to marry
him? That's all that I'm doing. I can't do it in style. I
know that. But I can use straight English, and that's good
enough for me. I sure want you mighty bad, Miss Mason. You're
in my mind 'most all the time, now. And what I want to know
is--well, do you want me? That's all."
"I-I wish you hadn't asked," she said softly.
"Mebbe it's best you should know a few things before you give me
an answer," he went on, ignoring the fact that the answer had
already been given. "I never went after a woman before in my
life, all reports to the contrary not withstanding. The stuff
you read about me in the papers and books, about me being a
lady-killer, is all wrong. There's not an iota of truth in it. I
guess I've done more than my share of card-playing and
whiskey-drinking, but women I've let alone. There was a woman
that killed herself, but I didn't know she wanted me that bad or
else I'd have married her--not for love, but to keep her from
killing herself. She was the best of the boiling, but I never
gave her any encouragement. I'm telling you all this because
you've read about it, and I want you to get it straight from me.
"Lady-killer! " he snorted. "Why, Miss Mason, I don't mind
telling you that I've sure been scairt of women all my life.
You're the first one I've not been afraid of. That's the strange
thing about it. I just plumb worship you, and yet I'm not afraid
of you. Mebbe it's because you're different from the women I
know. You've never chased me. Lady-killer! Why, I've been
running away from ladies ever since I can remember, and I
guess all that saved me was that I was strong in the wind and
that I never fell down and broke a leg or anything.
"I didn't ever want to get married until after I met you, and
until a long time after I met you. I cottoned to you from the
start; but I never thought it would get as bad as marriage. Why,
I can't get to sleep nights, thinking of you and wanting you."
He came to a stop and waited. She had taken the lace and muslin
from the basket, possibly to settle her nerves and wits, and was
sewing upon it. As she was not looking at him, he devoured her
with his eyes. He noted the firm, efficient hands--hands that
could control a horse like Bob, that could run a typewriter
almost as fast as a man could talk, that could sew on dainty
garments, and that, doubtlessly, could play on the piano over
there in the corner. Another ultra-feminine detail he
noticed--her slippers. They were small and bronze. He had never
imagined she had such a small foot. Street shoes and riding
boots were all that he had ever seen on her feet, and they had
given no advertisement of this. The bronze slippers fascinated
him, and to them his eyes repeatedly turned.
A knock came at the door, which she answered. Daylight could not
help hearing the conversation. She was wanted at the telephone.
"Tell him to call up again in ten minutes," he heard her say, and
the masculine pronoun caused in him a flashing twinge of
jealousy. Well, he decided, whoever it was, Burning Daylight
would give him a run for his money. The marvel to him was that a
girl like Dede hadn't been married long since.
She came back, smiling to him, and resumed her sewing. His eyes
wandered from the efficient hands to the bronze slippers and back
again, and he swore to himself that there were mighty few
stenographers like her in existence. That was because she must
have come of pretty good stock, and had a pretty good raising.
Nothing else could explain these rooms of hers and the clothes
she wore and the way she wore them.
"Those ten minutes are flying," he suggested.
"I can't marry you," she said.
"You don't love me?"
She shook her head.
"Do you like me--the littlest bit?"
This time she nodded, at the same time allowing the smile of
amusement to play on her lips. But it was amusement without
contempt. The humorous side of a situation rarely appealed in
vain to her.
"Well, that's something to go on," he announced. "You've got to
make a start to get started. I just liked you at first, and look
what it's grown into. You recollect, you said you didn't like my
way of life. Well, I've changed it a heap. I ain't gambling
like I used to. I've gone into what you called the legitimate,
making two minutes grow where one grew before, three hundred
thousand folks where only a hundred thousand grew before. And
this time next year there'll be two million eucalyptus growing on
the hills. Say do you like me more than the littlest bit?"
She raised her eyes from her work and looked at him as she
"I like you a great deal, but--"
He waited a moment for her to complete the sentence, failing
which, he went on himself.
"I haven't an exaggerated opinion of myself, so I know I ain't
bragging when I say I'll make a pretty good husband. You'd find
I was no hand at nagging and fault-finding. I can guess what it
must be for a woman like you to be independent. Well, you'd be
independent as my wife. No strings on you. You could follow
your own sweet will, and nothing would be too good for you. I'd
give you everything your heart desired--"
"Except yourself," she interrupted suddenly, almost sharply.
Daylight's astonishment was momentary.
"I don't know about that. I'd be straight and square, and live
true. I don't hanker after divided affections."
"I don't mean that," she said. "Instead of giving yourself to
your wife, you would give yourself to the three hundred thousand
people of Oakland, to your street railways and ferry-routes, to
the two million trees on the hills to everything
business--and--and to all that that means."
"I'd see that I didn't," he declared stoutly. "I'd be yours to
"You think so, but it would turn out differently." She suddenly
became nervous. "We must stop this talk. It is too much like
attempting to drive a bargain. 'How much will you give?' 'I'll
give so much.' 'I want more,' and all that. I like you, but not
enough to marry you, and I'll never like you enough to marry
"How do you know that?" he demanded.
"Because I like you less and less."
Daylight sat dumfounded. The hurt showed itself plainly in his
"Oh, you don't understand," she cried wildly, beginning to lose
self-control--"It's not that way I mean. I do like you; the more
I've known you the more I've liked you. And at the same time the
more I've known you the less would I care to marry you."
This enigmatic utterance completed Daylight's perplexity.
"Don't you see?" she hurried on. "I could have far easier
married the Elam Harnish fresh from Klondike, when I first laid
eyes on him long ago, than marry you sitting before me now."
He shook his head slowly. "That's one too many for me. The more
you know and like a man the less you want to marry him.
Familiarity breeds contempt--I guess that's what you mean."
"No, no," she cried, but before she could continue, a knock came
on the door.
"The ten minutes is up," Daylight said.
His eyes, quick with observation like an Indian's, darted about
the room while she was out. The impression of warmth and comfort
and beauty predominated, though he was unable to analyze it;
while the simplicity delighted him--expensive simplicity, he
decided, and most of it leftovers from the time her father went
broke and died. He had never before appreciated a plain hardwood
floor with a couple of wolfskins; it sure beat all the carpets in
creation. He stared solemnly at a bookcase containing acCouple
of hundred books. There was mystery. He could not understand
what people found so much to write about.
Writing things and reading things were not the same as doing
things, and himself primarily a man of action, doing things was
His gaze passed on from the Crouched Venus to a little tea-table
with all its fragile and exquisite accessories, and to a shining
copper kettle and copper chafing-dish. Chafing dishes were not
unknown to him, and he wondered if she concocted suppers on this
one for some of those University young men he had heard whispers
about. One or two water-colors on the wall made him conjecture
that she had painted them herself. There were photographs of
horses and of old masters, and the trailing purple of a Burial of
Christ held him for a time. But ever his gaze returned to that
Crouched Venus on the piano. To his homely, frontier-trained
mind, it seemed curious that a nice young woman should have such
a bold, if not sinful, object on display in her own room. But he
reconciled himself to it by an act of faith. Since it was Dede,
it must be eminently all right. Evidently such things went along
with culture. Larry Hegan had similar casts and photographs in
his book-cluttered quarters. But then, Larry Hegan was
different. There was that hint of unhealth about him that
Daylight invariably sensed in his presence, while Dede, on the
contrary, seemed always so robustly wholesome, radiating an
atmosphere compounded of the sun and wind and dust of the open
road. And yet, if such a clean, healthy woman as she went in for
naked women crouching on her piano, it must be all right. Dede
made it all right. She could come pretty close to making
anything all right. Besides, he didn't understand culture
She reentered the room, and as she crossed it to her chair, he
admired the way she walked, while the bronze slippers were
"I'd like to ask you several questions," he began immediately
"Are you thinking of marrying somebody?"
She laughed merrily and shook her head.
"Do you like anybody else more than you like me?--that man at the
'phone just now, for instance?"
"There isn't anybody else. I don't know anybody I like well
enough to marry. For that matter, I don't think I am a marrying
woman. Office work seems to spoil one for that."
Daylight ran his eyes over her, from her face to the tip of a
bronze slipper, in a way that made the color mantle in her
cheeks. At the same time he shook his head sceptically.
"It strikes me that you're the most marryingest woman that ever
made a man sit up and take notice. And now another question.
You see, I've just got to locate the lay of the land. Is there
anybody you like as much as you like me?"
But Dede had herself well in hand.
"That's unfair," she said. "And if you stop and consider, you
will find that you are doing the very thing you
nagging. I refuse to answer any more of your
questions. Let us talk about other things. How is Bob?"
Half an hour later, whirling along through the rain on Telegraph
Avenue toward Oakland, Daylight smoked one of his brown-paper
cigarettes and reviewed what had taken place. It was not at all
bad, was his summing up, though there was much about it that was
baffling. There was that liking him the more she knew him and at
the same time wanting to marry him less. That was a puzzler.
But the fact that she had refused him carried with it a certain
elation. In refusing him she had refused his thirty million
dollars. That was going some for a ninety dollar-a-month
stenographer who had known better ties. She wasn't after money,
that was patent. Every woman he had encountered had seemed
willing to swallow him down for the sake of his money. Why, he
had doubled his fortune, made fifteen millions, since the day she
first came to work for him, and behold, any willingness to marry
him she might have possessed had diminished as his money had
"Gosh!" he muttered. "If I clean up a hundred million on this
land deal she won't even be on speaking terms with me."
But he could not smile the thing away. It remained to baffle