Part 5 out of 9
She fumbled nervously with her wrist-watch.
"I won't stay here if you go," she said finally. "I hate Mr. Weaver.
I'm afraid of him. I - oh, don't leave me, Graham. Don't. I
haven't anybody but you. I haven't any home - not a real home.
You ought to see him these days." She always referred to her father
as "him." "He's dreadful. I'm only happy when I'm here with you."
He was angry, out of sheer despair.
"I've told you," he said. "Things can't go on as they are. You
know well enough what I mean. I'm older than you are, Anna. God
knows I don't want any harm to come to you through me. But, if we
continue to be together - "
"I'm not blaming you." She looked at him honestly. "I'd just rather
have you care about me than marry anybody else."
He kissed her, with a curious mingling of exultation and despair.
He left her there when he went away that afternoon, a rather
downcast young figure, piling up records and card-indexes, and
following him to the door with worshiping, anxious eyes. Later on
in the afternoon Joey, wandering in from Clayton's office on one of
his self-constituted observation tours, found her crying softly while
she wiped her typewriter, preparatory to covering it for the night.
"Somebody been treatin' you rough?" he asked, more sympathetic than
"What are you doing here, anyhow?" she demanded, angrily. "You're
always hanging around, spying on me."
"Somebody's got to keep an eye on you."
"Well, you don't."
"Look here," he said, his young-old face twitching with anxiety.
"You get out from under, kid. You take my advice, and get out from
under. Something's going to fall."
"Just mind your own business, and stop worrying about me. That's
He turned and started out.
"Oh, very well," he said sharply. "But you might take a word of
warning, anyhow. That cousin of yours has got an eye on you, all
right. And we don't want any scandal about the place."
"We? Who are 'we'?"
"Me and Mr. Clayton Spencer," said Joey, smartly, and went out,
banging the door cheerfully.
Anna climbed the hill that night wearily, but with a sense of relief
that Rudolph had not been waiting for her at the yard gate. She was
in no mood to thrust and parry with him. She wondered, rather dully,
what mischief Rudolph was up to. He was gaining a tremendous
ascendency over her father, she knew. Herman was spending more and
more of his evenings away from home, creaking up the stairs late at
night, shoes in hand, to undress in the cold darkness across the hall.
"Out?" she asked Katie, sitting by the fire with the evening paper.
Conversation in the cottage was almost always laconic.
"Ate early," Katie returned. "Rudolph was here, too. I'm going to
quit if I've got to cook for that sneak any longer. You'd think he
had a meal ticket here. Your supper's on the stove."
"I'm not hungry." She ate her supper, however, and undressed by the
fire. Then she went up-stairs and sat by her window in the gathering
night. She was suffering acutely. Graham was tired of her. He
wanted to get rid of her. Probably he had a girl somewhere else, a
lady. Her idea of the life of such a girl had been gathered from
"The sort that has her breakfast in bed," she muttered, "and has her
clothes put on her by somebody. Her underclothes, too!"
The immodesty of the idea made her face burn with anger.
Late that night Herman came back.
Herman had been a difficult proposition for Rudolph to handle. His
innate caution, his respect for law and, under his bullying
exterior, a certain physical cowardice, made him slow to move in
the direction Rudolph was urging. He was controversial. He liked
to argue over the beer and schnitzel Rudolph bought. And Rudolph
was growing impatient.
Rudolph himself was all eagerness and zeal. It was his very zeal
that was his danger, although it brought him slavish followers. He
was contemptuous, ill-tempered, and impatient, but, of limited
intelligence himself, he understood for that very reason the mental
processes of those he would lead. There was a certain simplicity
even in his cunning. With Herman he was a ferret driving out of
their hiding-places every evil instinct that lay dormant. Under
his goading, Herman was becoming savage, sullen, and potentially
He was confused, too. Rudolph's arguments always confused him.
He was confused that night, heavy with fatigue and with Rudolph's
steady talk in his ear. He was tired of pondering great questions,
tired of hearing about the Spencers and the money they were making.
Anna's clothing was scattered about the room, and he frowned at
it. She spent too much money on her clothes. Always sewing at
He stooped down to gather up his shoes, and his ear thus brought
close to the table was conscious in the silence of a faint
rhythmical sound. He stood up and looked about. Then he moved
the newspaper on the table. Underneath it, forgotten in her
anxiety and trouble, lay the little gold watch.
He picked it up, still following his train of thought. It fitted
into the evening's inflammable proceedings. So, with such
trinkets as this, capital would silence the cry of labor for its
just share in the products of its skill and strength! It would
bribe, and cheaply. Ten dollars, perhaps, that ticking insult.
For ten dollars -
He held it close to his spectacles. Ah, but it was not so cheap.
It came from the best shop in the city. He weighed it carefully
in his hand, and in so doing saw the monogram. A doubt crept into
his mind, a cold and chilling fear. Since when had the Spencer
plant taken to giving watches for Christmas? The hill girls who
worked as stenographers in the plant; they came in often enough and
he did not remember any watches, or any mention of watches. His
mind, working slowly, recalled that never before had he seen the
watch near at hand. And he went into a slow and painful calculation.
Fifty dollars at least it had cost. A hundred stenographers - that
would be five thousand dollars for watches.
Suddenly he knew that Anna had lied to him. One of two things, then:
either she had spent money for it, unknown to him, or some one had
given it to her. There was, in his mind, not much difference in
degree between the two alternatives. Both were crimes of the first
He picked the watch up between his broad thumb and forefinger, and
then, his face a cold and dreadful mask, he mounted the stairs.
Clayton Spencer was facing with characteristic honesty a situation
that he felt was both hopeless and shameful.
He was hopelessly in love with Audrey. He knew now that he had
known it for a long time. Here was no slender sentiment, no thin
romance. With every fiber of him, heart and soul and body, he
loved her and wanted her. There was no madness about it, save
the fact itself, which was mad enough. It was not the single
attraction of passion, although he recognized that element as
fundamental in it. It was the craving of a strong man who had
at last found his woman.
He knew that, as certainly as he knew anything. He did not even
question that she cared for him. It was as though they both had
passed through the doubting period without knowing it, and had
arrived together at the same point, the crying need of each other.
He rather thought, looking back, that Audrey had known it sooner
than he had. She had certainly known the night she learned of
Chris's death. His terror when she fainted, the very way he had put
her out of his arms when she opened her eyes - those had surely told
her. Yet, had Chris's cynical spirit been watching, there had been
nothing, even then.
There was, between them, nothing now. He had given way to the
people who flocked to her with sympathy, had called her up now and
then, had sent her a few books, some flowers. But the hopelessness
of the situation held him away from her. Once or twice, at first,
he had called her on the telephone and had waited, almost trembling,
for her voice over the wire, only to ask her finally, in a voice
chilled with repression, how she was feeling, or to offer a car for
her to ride in the park. And her replies were equally perfunctory.
She was well. She was still studying, but it was going badly. She
was too stupid to learn all those pot-hooks.
Once she had said:
"Aren't you ever coming to see me, Clay?"
Her voice had been wistful, and it had been a moment before he had
himself enough in hand to reply, formally:
"Thank you. I shall, very soon."
But he had not gone to the little fiat again.
Through Natalie he heard of her now and then.
"I saw Audrey to-day," she said once. "She is not wearing mourning.
It's bad taste, I should say. When one remembers that she really
drove Chris to his death - "
He had interrupted her, angrily.
"That is a cruel misstatement, Natalie. She did nothing of the
"You needn't bite me, you know. He went, and had about as much
interest in this war as - as - "
"As you have," he finished. And had gone out, leaving Natalie
staring after him.
He was more careful after that, but the situation galled him. He
was no hypocrite, but there was no need of wounding Natalie
unnecessarily. And that, after all, was the crux of the whole
situation. Natalie. It was not Natalie's fault that he had found
the woman of his heart too late. He had no thought of blame for
her. In decency, there was only one thing to do. He could not
play the lover to her, but then he had not done that for a very
long time. He could see, however, that she was not hurt.
Perhaps, in all her futile life, Natalie had, for all her
complaining, never been so content in her husband as in those
early spring months when she had completely lost him. He made no
demands whatever. In the small attentions, which he had never
neglected, he was even more assiduous. He paid her ever-increasing
bills without comment. He submitted, in those tense days when
every day made the national situation more precarious, to hours of
discussion as to the country house, to complaints as to his own
lack of social instinct, and to that new phase of her attitude
toward Marion Hayden that left him baffled and perplexed.
Then, on the Sunday when he left Graham and Marion together at the
house, he met Audrey quite by accident in the park. He was almost
incredulous at first. She came like the answer to prayer, a little
tired around the eyes, showing the strain of the past weeks, but
with that same easy walk and unconscious elegance that marked her,
She was not alone. There was a tall blonde girl beside her,
hideously dressed, but with a pleasant, shallow face. Just before
they met Audrey stopped and held out her hand.
"Then you'll let me know, Clare?"
"Thank you. I will, indeed, Mrs. Valentine."
With a curious glance at Clayton the girl went on. Audrey smiled
"Please don't run!" she said. "There are people looking. It would
be so conspicuous."
"Run!" he replied. He stood looking down at her, and at something
in his eyes her smile died.
"It's too wonderful, Clay."
For a moment he could not speak. After all those weeks of hunger
for her there was no power in him to dissemble. He felt a mad,
boyish impulse to hold out his arms to her, Malacca stick, gloves,
"It's a bit of luck I hadn't expected, Audrey," he said, at last,
She turned about quite simply, and faced in the direction he was
"I shall walk with you," she said, with a flash of her old
impertinence. "You have not asked me to, but I shall, anyhow. Only
don't call this luck. It isn't at all. I walk here every Sunday,
and every Sunday I say to myself - he will think he needs exercise.
Then he will walk, and the likeliest place for him to go is the park.
Good reasoning, isn't it?"
She glanced up at him, but his face was set and unsmiling. "Don't
pay any attention to me, Clay. I'm a little mad, probably. You
see" - she hesitated - "I need my friends just now. And when the
very best of them all hides away from me?"
"Don't say that. I stayed away, because - " He hesitated.
"I'm almost through. Don't worry! But I was walking along before
I met Clare - I'll tell you about her presently - and I was saying
to myself that I thought God owed me something. I didn't know just
what. Happiness, maybe. I've been careless and all that, but I've
never been wicked. And yet I can look back, and count the really
happy days of my life on five fingers."
She held out one hand.
"Five fingers!" she repeated, "and I am twenty-eight. The percentage
is pretty low, you know."
"Perhaps you and I ask too much?"
He was conscious of her quick, searching glance.
"Oh! You feel that way, too? I mean - as I do, that it's all hardly
worth while? But you seem to have everything, Clay."
"You have one thing I lack. Youth."
"Youth! At twenty-eight!"
"You can still mold your life, Audrey dear. You have had a bad time,
but - with all reverence to Chris's memory - his going out of it,
under the circumstances, is a grief. But it doesn't spell shipwreck."
"Do you mean that I will marry again?" she asked, in a low tone.
"Don't you think you will, some time? Some nice young chap who will
worship you all the days of his life? That - well, that is what I
expect for you. It's at least possible, you know."
"Is it what you want for me?"
"Good God!" he burst out, his restraint suddenly gone. "What do
you want me to say? What can I say, except that I want you to be
happy? Don't you think I've gone over it all, over and over again?
I'd give my life for the right to tell you the things I think, but
- I haven't that right. Even this little time together is wrong,
the way things are. It is all wrong."
"I'm sorry, Clay. I know. I am just reckless to-day. You know I
am reckless. It's my vice. But sometimes - we'd better talk about
But he could not talk about the mill just then. They walked along
in silence, and after a little he felt her touch his arm.
"Wouldn't it be better just to have it out?" she asked, wistfully.
"That wouldn't hurt anybody, would it?"
"I'm afraid, Audrey."
"I'm not," she said proudly. "I sometimes think - oh, I think such
a lot these days - that if we talked these things over, I'd recover
my - friend. I've lost him now, you see. And I'm so horribly
"Lost him," she repeated. "I've lost my friend, and I haven't
gained anything. It didn't hurt anybody for us to meet now and
then, Clay. You know that. I wish you would understand," she
added impatiently. "I only want to go back to things as they were.
I want you to come in now and then. We used to talk about all
sorts of things, and I miss that. Plenty of people come, but that's
different. It's only your occasional companionship I want. I don't
want you to come and make love to me."
"You say you have missed the companionship," he said rather
unsteadily. "I wonder if you think I haven't?"
"I know you have, my dear. And that is why I want you to come. To
come without being afraid that I expect or want anything else.
Surely we can manage that."
He smiled down at her, rather wryly, at her straight courageous
figure, her brave eyes, meeting his so directly. How like her it
all was, the straightforwardness of it, the absence of coquetry.
And once again he knew, not only that he loved her with all the
depths of him, of his strong body and his vigorous mind, but that
she was his woman. The one woman in the world for him. It was as
though all his life he had been searching for her, and he had
found her, and it was too late. She knew it, too. It was in her
"I have wanted to come, terribly," he said finally. And when she
held out her hand to him, he bent down and kissed it.
"Then that's settled," she said, in a matter-of-fact tone. "And now
I'll tell you about Clare. I'm rather proud of her."
The tension had been so great that he had forgotten the blonde girl
"Do you remember the night I got a hundred dollars from you? And
later on, that I asked you for work in your mill for the girl I got
"Do you mean?" He looked at her in surprise.
"That was the girl. You see, she rather holds onto me. It's awful
in a way, too. It looks as though I am posing as magnanimous. I'm
not, Clay. If I had cared awfully it would have been different.
But then, if I had cared awfully, perhaps it would never have
"You have nothing to blame yourself for, Audrey."
"Well, I do, rather. But that's not the point. Sometimes when I
am alone I have wicked thoughts, you know, Clay. I'm reckless, and
sometimes I think maybe there is only one life, and why not get
happiness out of it. I realize that, but for some little kink in
my brain, I might be in Clare's position. So I don't turn her out.
She's a poor, cheap thing, but - well, she is fond of me. If I
had children - it's funny, but I rather mother her! And she's
straight now, straight as a string!"
She was sensitive to his every thought, and she knew by the very
change in the angle of his head that he was thinking that over and
not entirely approving. But he said finally:
"You're a big woman, Audrey."
"But you don't like it!"
"I don't like her troubling you."
"Troubling me! She doesn't borrow money, you know. Why, she makes
more money from your plant than I have to live on! And she brings
me presents of flowers and the most awful embroidery, that she does
"You ought not to know that side of life."
She laughed a little bitterly.
"Not know it!" she said. "I've had to know it. I learned it pretty
well, too. And don't make any mistake, Clay." She looked up at him
with her clear, understanding gaze. "Being good, decent, with a lot
of people is only the lack of temptation. Only, thank God, there are
some who have the strength to withstand it when it comes."
And he read in her clear eyes her promise and her understanding;
that they loved each other, that it was the one big thing in both
their lives, but that between them there would be only the secret
inner knowledge of that love. There would be no shipwreck. And
for what she gave, she demanded his strength and his promise. It
was to what he read in her face, not to her words, that he replied:
"I'll do my very best, Audrey dear."
He went back to her rooms with her, and she made him tea, while he
built the fire in the open fireplace and nursed it tenderly to a
healthy strength. Overnursed it, she insisted. They were rather
gay, indeed, and the danger-point passed by safely. There was so
much to discuss, she pretended. The President's unfortunate phrase
of "peace without victory"; the deportation of the Belgians, the
recent leak in Washington to certain stock-brokers, and more and
more imminent, the possibility of a state of war being recognized
by the government.
"If it comes," she said, gayly, "I shall go, of course. I shall go
to France and sing them into battle. My shorthand looks like a music
score, as it is. What will you do?"
"I can't let you outshine me," he said. "And I don't want to think
of your going over there without me. My dear! My dear!"
She ignored that, and gave him his tea, gravely.
When Natalie roused from her nap that Sunday afternoon, it was to
find Marion gone, and Graham waiting for her in her boudoir.
Through the open door she could see him pacing back and forward and
something in his face made her vaguely uneasy. She assumed the
child-like smile which so often preserved her from the disagreeable.
"What a sleep I've had," she said, and yawned prettily. "I'll have
one of your cigarets, darling, and then let's take a walk."
Graham knew Natalie's idea of a walk, which was three or four blocks
along one of the fashionable avenues, with the car within hailing
distance. At the end of the fourth block she always declared that
her shoes pinched, and called the machine.
"You don't really want to walk, mother."
"Of course I do, with you. Ring for Madeleine, dear."
She was uncomfortable. Graham had been very queer lately. He
would have long, quiet spells, and then break out in an
uncontrollable irritation, generally at the servants. But Graham
did not ring for Madeleine. He lighted a cigaret for Natalie, and
standing off, surveyed her. She was very pretty. She was prettier
than Toots. That pale blue wrapper, or whatever it was, made her
rather exquisite. And Natalie, curled up on her pale rose chaise
longue, set to work as deliberately to make a conquest of her son
as she had ever done to conquer Rodney Page, or the long list of
"You're growing very handsome, you know, boy," she said. "Almost
too handsome. A man doesn't need good looks. They're almost a
handicap. Look at your father."
"They haven't hurt him any, I should say."
"I don't know." She reflected, eyeing her cigaret. "He presumes on
them, rather. And a good many men never think a handsome man has
"Well, he fools them there, too."
She raised her eyebrows slightly.
"Tell me about the new plant, Graham."
"I don't know anything about it yet," he said bluntly. "And you
wouldn't be really interested if I did."
"That's rather disagreeable of you."
"No; I'm just trying to talk straight, for once. We - you and I
- we always talk around things. I don't know why."
"You look terribly like your father just now. You are quite savage."
"That's exactly what I mean, mother. You don't say father is savage.
God knows he isn't that. You just say I act like father, and that I
Natalie blew a tiny cloud of cigaret smoke, and watched it for a
"You sound fearfully involved. But never mind about that. I daresay
I've done something; I don't know what, but of course I am guilty."
"Why did you bring Marion here to-day, mother?"
"Well, if you want to know exactly, I met her coming out of church,
and it occurred to me that we were having rather a nice luncheon,
and that it would be a pity not to ask some one to come in. It was
a nice luncheon, wasn't it?"
"That's why you asked her? For food?"
"Brutally put, but correct."
"You have been asking her here a lot lately. And yet the last time
we discussed her you said she was fast. That she wanted to marry
me for my money. That people would laugh if I fell for it."
"I hardly used those words, did I?"
"For heaven's sake, mother," he cried, exasperated. "Don't quibble.
Let's get down to facts. Does your bringing her here mean that
you've changed your mind?"
Natalie considered. She was afraid of too quick a surrender lest
he grow suspicious. She decided to temporize, with the affectation
of frankness that had once deceived Clayton, and that still, she
knew, affected Graham.
"I'll tell you exactly," she said, slowly. "At first I thought it
was just an infatuation. And - you really are young, Graham,
although you look and act like such a man. But I feel, now that
time has gone on and you still care about her, that after all, your
happiness is all that matters."
But she held up her hand.
"Remember, I am only speaking for myself. My dearest wish is to
make you happy. You are all I have. But I cannot help you very
much. Your father looks at those things differently. He doesn't
quite realize that you are grown up, and have a right to decide
some things for yourself."
"He has moved me up, raised my salary."
"That's different. You're valuable to him, naturally. I don't mean
he doesn't love you," she added hastily, as Graham wheeled and
stared at her. "Of course he does, in his own way. It's not my way,
but then - I'm only a woman and a mother."
"You think he'll object?"
"I think he must be handled. If you rush at him, and demand the
right to live your own life - "
"It is my life."
"Precisely. Only he may not see it that way."
He took a step toward her.
"Mother, do you really want me to marry Marion?"
"I think you ought to be married."
"To some one you love."
"Circles again," he muttered. "You've changed your mind, for some
reason. What is it, mother?"
He had an uneasy thought that she might have learned of Anna. There
was that day, for instance, when his father had walked into the
Natalie was following a train of thought suggested by her own anxiety.
"You might be married quietly," she suggested. "Once it was done,
I am sure your father would come around. You are both of age, you
He eyed her then with open-eyed amazement.
"Tm darned if I understand you," he burst out. And then, in one of
his quick remorses, "I'm sorry, mother. I'm just puzzled, that's
all. But that plan's no good, anyhow. Marion won't do it. She
will have to be welcome in the family, or she won't come."
"She ought to be glad to come any way she can," Natalie said sharply.
And found Graham's eyes on her, studying her.
"You don't want her. That's plain. But you do want her. That's
not so plain. What's the answer, mother?"
And Natalie, with an irritable feeing that she had bungled somehow,
got up and flung away the cigaret.
"I am trying to give you what you want," she said pettishly. "That's
clear enough, I should think."
"There's no other reason?"
"What other reason could there be?"
Dressing to dine at the Hayden's that night, Graham heard Clayton
come in and go into his dressing-room. He had an impulse to go
over, tie in hand as he was, and put the matter squarely before his
father. The marriage-urge - surely a man would understand that.
Even Anna, and his predicament there. Anything was better than this
constant indirectness of gaining his father's views through his
Had he done so, things would have been different later. But by
continual suggestion a vision of his father as hard, detached,
immovable, had been built up in his mind. He got as far as the
door, hesitated, turned back.
It was Marion herself who solved the mystery of Natalie's changed
attitude, when Graham told of it that night. She sat listening, her
eyes slightly narrowed, restlessly turning her engagement ring.
"Well, at least that's something," she said, noncommittally. But
in her heart she knew, as one designing woman may know another. She
knew that Natalie had made Graham promise not to enlist at once, if
war was declared, and now she knew that she was desperately
preparing to carry her fear for Graham a step further, even at the
cost of having her in the family.
She smiled wryly. But there was triumph in the smile, too. She had
them now. The time would come when they would crawl to her to marry
Graham, to keep him from going to war. Then she would make her own
In the meantime the thing was to hold him by every art she knew.
There was another girl, somewhere. She had been more frightened
about that than she cared to admit, even to herself. She must hold
She used every art she knew. She deliberately inflamed him. And
the vicious circle closed in about him, Natalie and Marion and Anna
Klein. And to offset them, only Delight Haverford, at evening
prayer in Saint Luke's, and voicing a tiny petition for him, that
he might walk straight, that he might find peace, even if that peace
should be war.
Herman Klein, watch between forefinger and thumb, climbed heavily
to Anna's room. She heard him pause outside the door, and her
heart almost stopped beating. She had been asleep, and rousing
at his step, she had felt under the pillow for her watch to see
the time. It was not there.
She remembered then; she had left it below, on the table. And he
was standing outside her door. She heard him scratching a match,
striking it against the panel of her door. For so long as it would
take the match to burn out, she heard him there, breathing heavily.
Then the knob turned.
She leaped out of the bed in a panic of fear. The hall, like the
room, was dark, and she felt his ponderous body in the doorway,
rather than saw it.
"You will put on something and come down-stairs," he said harshly.
"I will not." She tried to keep her voice steady. "I've got to
work, if you haven't. I've got to have my sleep." Her tone rose,
hysterically. "If you think you can stay out half the night, and
guzzle beer, and then come here to get me up, you can think again."
"You are already up," he said, in a voice slowed and thickened by
rage. "You will come down-stairs."
He turned away and descended the creaking stairs again. She
listened for the next move, but he made none. She knew then that
he was waiting at the foot of the stairs.
She was half-maddened with terror by that time, and she ran to the
window. But it was high. Even if she could have dropped out, and
before she could put on enough clothing to escape in, he would be
back again, his rage the greater for the delay. She slipped into
a kimono, and her knees giving way under her she went down the
stairs. Herman was waiting. He moved under the lamp, and she saw
that he held the watch, dangling.
"Now!" he said. "Where you got this? Tell me."
"I've told you how I got it."
"That was a lie."
So - Rudolph had told him!
"I like that!" she blustered, trying to gain time. "I guess it's
time they gave me something - I've worked hard enough. They gave
them to all the girls."
"That is a lie also."
"I like that. Telling me I'm lying. You ask Mr. Graham Spencer.
He'll tell you."
"If that is true, why do you shake so?"
"You scare me, father." She burst into frightened tears. "I don't
know what's got into you. I do my best. I give you all I make.
I've kept this house going, and" - she gained a little courage
- "I've had darned little thanks for it."
"You think I believe the mill gave five thousand dollars in watches
last Christmas? To-morrow I go, with this to Mr. Clayton Spencer,
not to that degenerate son of his, and I ask him. Then I shall
He turned, as if about to leave her, but the alternative he offered
her was too terrible.
"Father!" she said. "I'll tell you the truth. I bought it myself."
"With what money?"
"I had a raise. I didn't tell you. I had a raise of five dollars a
week. I'm paying for it myself. Honest to heaven, that's right,
"So - you have had a raise, and you have not told me?"
"I give all the rest to you. What do I get out of all my hard work?
Just a place to live. No clothes. No fun. No anything. All the
other girls have a good time now and then, but I'm just like a
prisoner. You take all I earn, and I get - the devil."
Her voice rose to a terrified squeal. Behind her she heard the
slovenly servant creaking down the stairs. As Herman moved toward
her she screamed.
"Katie!" she called. "Quick. Help!"
But Herman had caught her by the shoulder and was dragging her
toward a corner, where there hung a leather strap.
Katie, peering round the door of the enclosed staircase, saw him
raise the strap, and Anna's white face upraised piteously.
"For God's sake, father."
The strap descended. Even after Katie had rushed up the stairs and
locked herself in the room, she could hear, above Anna's cries, the
thud of the strap, relentless, terrible, lusty with cruelty.
Herman went to church the next morning. Lying in her bed, too sore
and bruised to move, Anna heard him carefully polishing his boots on
the side porch, heard him throw away the water after he had shaved,
heard at last the slam of the gate as he started, upright in his
Sunday clothes, for church.
Only when he had reached the end of the street, and Katie could see
him picking his way down the blackened hill, did she venture up with
a cup of coffee. Anna had to unlock her door to admit her, to
remove a further barricade of chairs. When Katie saw her she almost
dropped the cup.
"You poor little rat," she said compassionately. "Gee! He was
crazy. I never saw such a face. Gee!"
Anna said nothing. She dropped on the side of the bed and took the
coffee, drinking gingerly through a lip swollen and cut.
"I'm going to leave," Katie went on. "It'll be my time next. If
he tries any tricks on me I'll have the law on him. He's a beast;
that's what he is."
"Katie," Anna said, "if I leave can you get my clothes to me? I'll
carry all I can."
"He'd take the strap to me."
"Well, if you're leaving anyhow, you can put some of my things in
"Good and right you are to get out," Katie agreed. "Sure I'll do
it. Where do you think you'll go?"
"I thought last night I'd jump in the river. I've changed my mind,
though. I'll pay him back, and not the way he expects."
"Give it to him good," assented Katie. "I'd have liked to slip
some of that Paris green of his in his coffee this morning. And
now he's off for church, the old hypocrite!"
To Katie's curious inquiries as to the cause of the beating Anna
was now too committal.
"I held out some money on him," was all she said.
Katie regarded her with a mixture of awe and admiration.
"You've got your nerve," she said. "I wonder he didn't kill you.
What's yours is his and what's his is his own!"
But Anna could not leave that morning. She lay in her bed, cold
compresses on her swollen face and shoulders, a bruised and broken
thing, planning hideous reprisals. Herman made no inquiry for her.
He went stolidly about the day's work, carried in firewood and
coal from the shed, inspected the garden with a view to early
planting, and ate hugely of the mid-day dinner.
In the afternoon Rudolph came.
"Where's Anna?" he asked briskly.
"She is in her room. She is not well."
If Rudolph suspected anything, it was only that Anna was sulking.
But later on he had reason to believe that there trouble. Out of
a clear sky Herman said:
"She has had a raise." Anna was "she" to him.
"Since when?" Rudolph asked with interest.
"I know nothing. She has not given it to me. She has been buying
herself a watch."
"So!" Rudolph's tone was wary.
"She will buy herself no more watches," said Herman, with an air of
Rudolph hesitated. The organization wanted Herman; he had had great
influence with the millworkers. Through him many things would be
possible. The Spencers trusted him, too. At any time Rudolph knew
they would be glad to reinstate him, and once inside the plant,
there was no limit to the mischief he could do. But Herman was too
valuable to risk. Suppose he was told now about Graham Spencer and
Anna, and beat the girl and was jailed for it? Besides, ugly as
Rudolph's suspicions were, they were as yet only suspicions. He
decided to wait until he could bring Herman proof of Graham Spencer's
relations with Anna. When that time came he knew Herman. He would
be clay for the potter. He, Rudolph, intended to be the potter.
Katie had an afternoon off that Sunday. When she came back that
night, Herman, weary from the late hours of Saturday, was already
snoring in his bed. Anna met Katie at her door and drew her in.
"I've found a nice room," Katie whispered. "Here's the address
written down. The street cars go past it. Three dollars a week.
Are you ready?"
Anna was ready, even to her hat. Over it she placed a dark veil,
for she was badly disfigured. Then, with Katie crying quietly, she
left the house. In the flare from the Spencer furnaces Katie
watched until the girl reappeared on the twisting street below
which still followed the old path - that path where Herman, years
ago, had climbed through the first spring wild flowers to the
cottage on the hill.
Graham was uncomfortable the next morning on his way to the mill.
Anna's face had haunted him. But out of all his confusion one
thing stood out with distinctness. If he was to be allowed to
marry Marion, he must have no other entanglement. He would go
to her clean and clear.
So he went to the office, armed toward Anna with a hardness he was
far from feeling.
"Poor little kid!" he reflected on the way down. "Rotten luck, all
He did not for a moment believe that it would be a lasting grief.
He knew that sort of girl, he reflected, out of his vast experience
of twenty-two. They were sentimental, but they loved and forgot
easily. He hoped she would forget him; but even with that, there
was a vague resentment that she should do so.
"She'll marry some mill-hand," he reflected, "and wear a boudoir
cap, and have a lot of children who need their noses wiped."
But he was uncomfortable.
Anna was not in her office. Her coat and hat were not there. He
was surprised, somewhat relieved. It was out of his hands, then;
she had gone somewhere else to work. Well, she was a good
stenographer. Somebody was having a piece of luck.
Clayton, finding him short-handed, sent Joey over to help him pack
up his office belongings, the fittings of his desk, his personal
papers, the Japanese prints and rugs Natalie had sent after her
single visit to the boy's new working quarters. And, when Graham
came back from luncheon, Joey had a message for him.
"Telephone call for you, Mr. Spencer."
"What was it?"
"Lady called up, from a pay phone. She left her number and said
she'd wait." Joey lowered his voice confidentially. "Sounded like
Miss Klein," he volunteered.
He was extremely resentful when Graham sent him away on an errand.
And Graham himself frowned as he called the number on the pad. It
was like a girl, this breaking off clean and then telephoning,
instead of letting the thing go, once and for all. But his face
changed as he heard Anna's brief story over the wire.
"Of course I'll come," he said. "I'm pretty busy, but I can steal
a half-hour. Don't you worry. We'll fix it up some way."
He was more concerned than deeply anxious when he rang off. It was
unfortunate, that was all. And the father was a German swine, and
ought to be beaten himself. To think that his Christmas gift had
brought her to such a pass! A leather strap! God!
He was vaguely uneasy, however. He had a sense of a situation being
forced on him. He knew, too, that Clayton was waiting for him at
the new plant. But Anna's trouble, absurd as its cause seemed to
him, was his responsibility.
It ceased to be absurd, however, when he saw her discolored features.
It would be some time before she could even look for another
situation. Her face was a swollen mask, and since such attraction
as she had had for him had been due to a sort of evanescent
prettiness of youth, he felt a repulsion that he tried his best to
"You poor little thing!" he said. "He's a brute. I'd like - " He
clenched his fists. "Well, I got you into it. I'm certainly going
to see you through."
She had lowered her veil quickly, and he felt easier. The telephone
booth was in the corner of a quiet hotel, and they were alone. He
patted her shoulder.
"I'll see you through," he repeated. "Don't you worry about anything.
Just lie low."
"See me through? How?"
"I can give you money; that's the least I can do. Until you are
able to work again." And as she drew away, "We'll call it a loan,
if that makes you feel better. You haven't anything, have you?"
"He has everything I've earned.. I've never had a penny except
"Poor little girl!" he said again.
She was still weak, he saw, and he led her into the deserted cafe.
He took a highball himself, not because he wanted it, but because
she refused to drink, at first. He had never before had a drink
in the morning, and he felt a warm and reckless glow to his very
finger-tips. Bending toward her, while the waiter's back was turned,
he kissed her marred and swollen cheek.
"To think I have brought you all this trouble!"
"You mustn't blame yourself."
"I do. But I'll make it up to you, Anna. Yon don't hate me for
it, do you?"
"Hate you! You know better than that."
"I'll come round to take you out now and then, in the evenings.
I don't want you to sit alone in that forsaken boarding-house and
mope." He drew out a bill-fold, and extracted some notes. "Don't
be silly," he protested, as she drew back. "It's the only way I
can get back my self-respect. You owe it to me to let me do it."
She was not hard to persuade. Anything was better than going back
to the cottage on the hill, and to that heavy brooding figure, and
the strap on the wall. But the taking of the money marked a new
epoch in the girl's infatuation. It bought her. She did not know
it, nor did he. But hitherto she had been her own, earning her own
livelihood. What she gave of love, of small caresses and intimacies,
had been free gifts.
From that time she was his creature. In her creed, which was the
creed of the girls on the hill, one did not receive without giving.
She would pay him back, but all that she had to give was herself.
"You'll come to see me, too. Won't you?"
The tingling was very noticeable now. He felt warm, and young, and
very, very strong.
"Of course I'll come to see you," he said, recklessly. "You take a
little time off - you've worked hard - and we'll play round together."
She bent down, unexpectedly, and put her bruised cheek against his
hand, as it lay on the table.
"I love you dreadfully," she whispered.
February and March were peaceful months, on the surface. Washington
was taking stock quietly of national resources and watching for
Germany's next move. The winter impasse in Europe gave way to the
first fighting of spring, raids and sorties mostly, since the ground
was still too heavy for the advancement of artillery. On the high
seas the reign of terror was in full swing, and little tragic echoes
of the world drama began again to come by cable across the Atlantic.
Some of Graham's friends, like poor Chris, found the end of the path
of glory. The tall young Canadian Highlander died before Peronne in
March. Denis Nolan's nephew was killed in the Irish Fusileers.
One day Clayton came home to find a white-faced Buckham taking his
overcoat in the hall, and to learn that he had lost a young brother.
Clayton was uncomfortable at dinner that night. He wondered what
Buckham thought of them, sitting there around the opulent table, in
that luxurious room. Did he resent it? After dinner he asked him
if he cared to take a few days off, but the old butler shook his
"I'm glad to have my work to keep me busy, sir," he said. "And
anyhow, in England, it's considered best to go on, quite as though
nothing had happened. It's better for the troops, sir."
There was a new softness and tolerance in Clayton that early spring.
He had mellowed, somehow, a mellowing that had nothing to do with
his new prosperity. In past times he had wondered how he would
stand financial success if it ever came. He had felt fairly sure
he could stand the other thing. But success - Now he found that it
only increased his sense of responsibility. He was, outside of the
war situation, as nearly happy as he had been in years. Natalie's
petulant moods, when they came, no longer annoyed him. He was
supported, had he only known it, by the strong inner life he was
living, a life that centered about his weekly meetings with Audrey.
Audrey gave him courage to go on. He left their comradely hours
together better and stronger. All the week centered about that
one hour, out of seven days, when he stood on her hearth-rug, or
lay back in a deep chair, listening or talking - such talk as
Natalie might have heard without resentment.
Some times he felt that that one hour was all he wanted; it
carried so far, helped so greatly. He was so boyishly content in
it. And then she would make a gesture, or there would be, for a
second, a deeper note in her voice, and the mad instinct to catch
her to him was almost overwhelming.
Some times he wondered if she were not very lonely, not knowing that
she, too, lived for days on that one hour. She was not going out,
because of Chris's death, and he knew there were long hours when she
sat alone, struggling determinedly with the socks she was knitting.
Only once did they tread on dangerous ground, and that was on her
birthday. He stopped in a jeweler's on his way up-town and brought
her a black pearl on a thin almost invisible chain, only to have
her refuse to take it.
"I can't Clay!"
"It's too valuable. I can't take valuable presents from men."
"It's value hasn't anything to do with it."
"I'm not wearing jewelry, anyhow."
"Audrey," he said gravely, "it isn't the pearl. It isn't its value.
That's absurd. Don't you understand that I would like to think that
you have something I have given you?"
When she sat still, thinking over what he had said, he slipped the
chain around her neck and clasped it. Then he stooped down, very
gravely, and kissed her.
"For my silent partner!" he said.
In all those weeks, that was the only time he had kissed her. He
knew quite well the edge of the gulf they stood on, and he was
determined not to put the burden of denial on her. He felt a real
contempt for men who left the strength of refusal to a woman, who
pleaded, knowing that the woman's strength would save them from
themselves, and that if she weakened, the responsibility was hers.
So he fed on the husks of love, and was, if not happy, happier.
Graham, too, was getting on better. For one thing, Anna Klein had
been ill. She lay in her boarding-house, frightened at every step
on the stairs, and slowly recovered from a low fever. Graham had
not seen her, but he sent her money for a doctor, for medicines,
for her room rent, enclosed in brief letters, purely friendly and
interested. But she kept them under her pillow and devoured them
with feverish eyes.
But something had gone out of life for Graham. Not Anna. Natalie,
watching him closely, wondered what it was. He had been strange
and distant with her ever since that tall boy in kilts had been
there. He was studiously polite and attentive to her, rose when
she entered a room and remained standing until she was seated,
brought her the book she had forgotten, lighted her occasional
cigaret, kissed her morning and evening. But he no longer came
into her dressing-room for that hour before dinner when Natalie,
in dressing-gown and slippers, had closed the door to Clayton's
room and had kept him for herself.
She was jealous of Clayton those days. Some times she found the
boy's eyes fixed on his father, with admiration and something more.
She was jealous of the things they had in common, of the days at
the mill, of the bits of discussion after dinner, when Clayton sat
back with his cigar, and Graham voiced, as new discoveries, things
about the work that Clayton had realized for years.
He always listened gravely, with no hint of patronage. But Natalie
would break in now and then, impatient of a conversation that
"Your father knows all these things, Graham," she said once. "You
talk as though you'd just discovered the mill, like Columbus
"Not at all," Clayton said, hastily. "He has a new viewpoint. I
am greatly interested. Go on, Graham."
But the boy's enthusiasm had died. He grew self-conscious,
apologetic. And Clayton felt a resentment that was close to despair.
The second of April fell on a Saturday. Congress, having ended the
session the fourth of March, had been hastily reconvened, and on
the evening of that day, Saturday, at half past eight, the President
went before the two Houses in joint session.
Much to Clayton's disgust, he found on returning home that they
were dining out.
"Only at the Mackenzies. It's not a party," Natalie said. As
usual, she was before the dressing-table, and she spoke to his
reflection in the mirror. "I should think you could do that,
without looking like a thunder-cloud. Goodness knows we've been
quiet enough this Lent."
"You know Congress has been re-convened?"
"I don't know why that should interfere."
"It's rather a serious time." He tried very hard to speak pleasantly.
Her engrossment in her own reflection irritated him, so he did not
look at her. "But of course I'll go."
"Every time is a serious time with you lately," she flung after him.
Her tone was not disagreeable. She was merely restating an old
grievance. A few moments later he heard her calling through the
"I got some wonderful old rugs to-day, Clay."
"You'll scream when you pay for them."
"I've lost my voice screaming, my dear."
"You'll love these. They have the softest colors, dead rose, and
faded blue, and old copper tones."
"I'm very glad you're pleased."
She was in high good humor when they started. Clayton, trying to
meet her conversational demands found himself wondering if the
significance of what was to happen in Washington that night had
struck home to her. If it had, and she could still be cheerful,
then it was because she had forced a promise from Graham.
He made his decision then; to force her to release the boy from any
promise; to allow him his own choice. But he felt with increasing
anxiety that some of Natalie's weakness of character had descended
to Graham, that in him, as in Natalie, perhaps obstinacy was what
he hoped was strength. He wondered listening to her, what it would
be to have beside him that night some strong and quiet woman, to
whom he could carry his problems, his perplexities. Some one to
sit, hand in his, and set him right as such a woman could, on many
And for a moment, he pictured Audrey. Audrey, his wife, driving
with him in their car, to whatever the evening might hold. And
after it was all over, going back with her, away from all the
chatter that meant so little, to the home that shut them in
He was very gentle to Natalie that night.
Natalie had been right. It was a small and informal group, gathered
together hastily to discuss the emergency; only Denis Nolan, the
Mackenzies, Clayton and Natalie, and Audrey.
"We brought her out of her shell," said Terry, genially, "because
the country is going to make history to-night. The sort of history
Audrey has been shouting for for months."
The little party was very grave. Yet, of them all, only the Spencers
would be directly affected. The Mackenzies had no children.
"Button, my secretary," Terry announced, "is in Washington. He is to
call me here when the message is finished."
"Isn't it possible," said Natalie, recalling a headline from the
evening paper, "that the House may cause an indefinite delay?"
And, as usual, Clayton wondered at the adroitness with which, in
the talk that followed, she escaped detection.
They sat long at the table, rather as though they clung together.
And Nolan insisted on figuring the cost of war in money.
"Queer thing," he said. "In ancient times the cost of war fell
almost entirely on the poor. But it's the rich who will pay for
this war. All taxation is directed primarily against the rich."
"The poor pay in blood," said Audrey, rather sharply. "They give
their lives, and that is all they have."
"Rich and poor are going to do that, now," old Terry broke in.
"Fight against it all you like, you members of the privileged class,
the draft is coming. This is every man's war."
But Clayton Spencer was watching Natalie. She had paled and was
fingering her liqueur-glass absently. Behind her lowered eyelids he
surmised that again she was planning. But what? Then it came to
him, like a flash. Old Terry had said the draft would exempt married
men. She meant to marry Graham to a girl she detested, to save him
Through it all, however, and in spite of his anger and apprehension,
he was sorry for her. Sorry for her craven spirit. Sorry even with
an understanding that came from his own fears. Sorry for her, that
she had remained an essential child in a time that would tax the
utmost maturity. She was a child. Even her selfishness was the
selfishness of a spoiled child. She craved things, and the spirit,
the essence of life, escaped her.
And beside him was Audrey, valiant-eyed, courageous, honest. Natalie
and Audrey! Some time during the evening his thoughts took this
form: that there were two sorts of people in the world: those who
seized their own happiness, at any cost; and those who saw the
promised land from a far hill, and having seen it, turned back.
Graham was waiting in Clayton's dressing-room when he went up-stairs.
Through the closed door they could hear Natalie's sleepy and rather
fretful orders to her maid. Graham rose when he entered, and threw
away his cigaret.
"I guess it has come, father."
"It looks like it."
A great wave of tenderness for the boy flooded over him. That tall,
straight body, cast in his own mold, but young, only ready to live,
that was to be cast into the crucible of war, to come out - God
alone knew how. And not his boy only, but millions of other boys.
Yet - better to break the body than ruin the soul.
"How is mother taking it?"
Natalie's voice came through the door. She was insisting that the
house be kept quiet the next morning. She wanted to sleep late.
Clayton caught the boy's eyes on him, and a half smile on his face.
"Does she know?"
"She isn't taking it very hard, is she?" Then his voice changed.
"I wish you'd talk to her, father. She's - well, she's got me!
You see, I promised her not to go in without her consent."
"When did you do that?"
"The night we broke with Germany in February. I was a fool, but
she was crying, and I didn't know what else to do. And" - there was
a ring of desperation in his voice - "she's holding me to it. I've
been to her over and over again."
"And you want to go?"
"Want to go! I've got to go."
He broke out then into a wild appeal. He wanted to get away. He
was making a mess of all sorts of things. He wasn't any good. He
would try to make good in the army. Maybe it was only the
adventure he wanted - he didn't know. He hadn't gone into that.
He hated the Germans. He wanted one chance at them, anyhow. They
Clayton, listening, was amazed at the depth of feeling and anger in
"I'll talk to your mother," he agreed, when the boy's passion had
spent itself. "I think she will release you." But he was less
certain than he pretended to be. He remembered Natalie's drooping
eyelids that night at dinner. She might absolve him from the
promise, but there were other ways of holding him back than promises.
"Perhaps we would better go into the situation thoroughly," he
suggested. "I have rather understood, lately, that you - what about
Marion Hayden, Graham?"
"I'm engaged to her."
There was rather a long pause. Clayton's face was expressionless.
"Last fall, sir."
"Does your mother know?"
"I told her, yes." He looked up quickly. "I didn't tell you. I
knew you disliked her, and mother said?" He checked himself.
"Marion wanted to wait. She wanted to be welcome when she came
into the family."
"I don't so much dislike her as I - disapprove of her."
"That's rather worse, isn't it?"
Clayton was tired. His very spirit was tired. He sat down in his
big chair by the fire.
"She is older than you are, you know."
"I don't see what that has to do with it, father."
In Clayton's defense was his own situation. He did not want the
boy to repeat his mistakes, to marry the wrong woman, and then find,
too late, the right one. During the impassioned appeal that
followed he was doggedly determined to prevent that. Perhaps he
lost the urgency in the boy's voice. Perhaps in his new conviction
that the passions of the forties were the only real ones, he took
too little count of the urge of youth.
He roused himself.
"You think you are really in love with her?"
"I want her. I know that."
"That's different. That's - you are too young to know what you
"I ought to be married. It would settle me. I'm sick of batting
"You want to marry before you enter the army?"
"Do you think for a moment that your wife will be willing to let
Graham straightened himself.
"She would have to let me go."
And in sheer despair, Clayton played his last card. Played it, and
regretted it bitterly a moment later.
"We must get this straight, Graham. It's not a question of your
entering the army or not doing it. It's a question of your
happiness. Marriage is a matter of a life-time. It's got to be
based on something more than - " he hesitated. "And your mother?"
"Please go on."
"You have just said that your mother does not want you to go into
the army. Has it occurred to you she would even see you married
to a girl she detests, to keep you at home?"
Graham's face hardened.
"So;" he said, heavily, "Marion wants me for the money she thinks
I'm going to have, and mother wants me to marry to keep me safe!
By God, it's a dirty world, isn't it?"
Suddenly he was gone, and Clayton, following uneasily to the doorway,
heard a slam below. When, some hours later, Graham had not come
back, he fell into the heavy sleep that follows anxiety and brings
no rest. In the morning he found that Graham had gone back to the
garage and taken his car, and that he had not returned.
Afterward Clayton was to look back and to remember with surprise
how completely the war crisis had found him absorbed in his own
small group. But perhaps in the back of every man's mind war was
always, first of all, a thing of his own human contacts. It was
only when those were cleared up that he saw the bigger problem.
The smaller questions loomed so close as to obscure the larger
He went out into the country the next day, a cold Sunday, going
afoot, his head down against the wind, and walked for miles. He
looked haggard and tired when he came back, but his quiet face held
a new resolve. War had come at last. He would put behind him the
selfish craving for happiness, forget himself. He would not make
money out of the nation's necessity. He would put Audrey out of
his mind, if not out of his heart. He would try to rebuild his
house of life along new and better lines. Perhaps he could bring
Natalie to see things as he saw them, as they were, not as she
wanted them to be.
Some times it took great crises to bring out women. Child-bearing
did it, often. Urgent need did it, too. But after all the real
test was war. The big woman met it squarely, took her part of the
burden; the small woman weakened, went down under it, found it a
grievance rather than a grief.
He did not notice Graham's car when it passed him, outside the
city limits, or see Anna Klein's startled eyes as it flashed by.
Graham did not come in until evening. At ten o'clock Clayton found
the second man carrying up-stairs a tray containing whisky and soda,
and before he slept he heard a tap at Graham's door across the hall,
and surmised that he had rung for another. Later still he heard
Natalie cross the hall, and rather loud and angry voices. He
considered, ironically, that a day which had found a part of the
nation on its knees found in his own house only dissension and
In the morning, at the office, Joey announced a soldier to see him,
and added, with his customary nonchalance:
"We'll be having a lot of them around now, I expect."
Clayton, glancing up from the visitor's slip in his hand, surprised
something wistful in the boy's eyes.
"Want to go, do you?"
"Give my neck to go - sir." He always added the "sir," when he
remembered it, with the air of throwing a sop to a convention he
"You may yet, you know. This thing is going to last a while. Send
him in, Joey."
He had grown attached to this lad of the streets. He found in his
loyalty a thing he could not buy.
Jackson was his caller. Clayton, who had been rather more familiar
with his back in its gray livery than with any other aspect of him,
found him strange and impressive in khaki.
"I'm sorry I couldn't get here sooner, Mr. Spencer," he explained.
"I've been down on the border. Yuma. I just got a short leave,
and came back to see my family."
He stood very erect, a bronzed and military figure. Suddenly it
seemed strange to Clayton Spencer that this man before him had only
a few months before opened his automobile door for him, and stood
waiting with a rug to spread over his knees. He got up and shook
"You look like a different man, Jackson."
"Well, at least I feel like a man."
"Sit down," he said. And again it occurred to him that never
before had he asked Jackson to sit down in his presence. It was
wrong, somehow. The whole class system was absurd. Maybe war
would change that, too. It was doing many queer things, already.
He had sent for Jackson, but he did not at once approach the reason.
He sat back, while Jackson talked of the border and Joey slipped in
and pretended to sharpen lead pencils.
Clayton's eyes wandered to the window. Outside in the yard were
other men, now employees of his, who would soon be in khaki. Out
of every group there in a short time some would be gone, and of
those who would go a certain number would never come back. That
was what war was; one day a group of men, laboring with their hands
or their brains, that some little home might live; that they might
go back at evening to that home, and there rest for the next day's
toil. And the next, gone. Every man out there in the yard was
loved by some one. To a certain number of them this day meant
death, or wounding. It meant separation, and suffering, and
And all over the country there were such groups.
The roar of the plant came in through the open window. A freight
car was being loaded with finished shells. As fast as it was filled,
another car was shunted along the spur to take its place. Over in
Germany, in hundreds of similar plants, similar shells were being
hurried to the battle line, to be hurled against the new army that
was soon to cross the seas.
All those men, and back of every man, a woman.
Jackson had stopped. Joey was regarding him with stealthy admiration,
and holding his breast bone very high. Already in his mind Joey was
"You did not say in your note why you wanted to see me, Mr. Spencer."
He roused himself with a visible effort.
"I sent for you, yes," he said. "I sent - I'll tell you why I sent
for you, Jackson. I've been meaning to do it for several weeks.
Now that this has come I'm more than glad I did so. You can't keep
your family on what you are getting. That's certain."
"My wife is going to help me, sir. The boy will soon be weaned.
Then she intends to get a position. She was a milliner when we
"But - Great Scott! She ought not to leave a child as young as that."
"She's going to fix that, all right. She wants to do it. And
we're all right so far I had saved a little."
Then there were women like that! Women who would not only let their
men go to war, but who would leave their homes and enter the struggle
for bread, to help them do it.
"She says it's the right thing," volunteered Jackson, proudly.
Women who felt that a man going into the service was a right thing.
Women who saw war as a duty to be done, not a wild adventure for the
"You ought to be very proud of her," he said slowly. "There are not
many like that."
"Well," Jackson said, apologetically, "they'll come round, sir.
Some of them kind of hate the idea, just at first. But I look to
see a good many doing what my wife's doing."
Clayton wondered grimly what Jackson would think if he knew that at
that moment he was passionately envious of him, of his uniform, of
the youth that permitted him to wear that uniform, of his bronzed
skin, of his wife, of his pride in that wife.
"You're a lucky chap, Jackson," he said. "I sent for you because I
wanted to say that, as long as you are in the national service, I
shall feel that you are on a vacation" - he smiled at the word - "on
pay. Under those circumstances, I owe you quite a little money."
Jackson was too overwhelmed to reply at once.
"As a matter of fad," Clayton went on, "it's a national move, in a
way. You don't owe any gratitude. We need our babies, you see.
More than we do hats! If this war goes on, we shall need a good
many boy babies."
And his own words suddenly crystallized the terror that was in him.
It was the boys who would go; boys who whistled in the morning; boys
who dreamed in the spring, long dreams of romance and of love.
Boys. Not men like himself, with their hopes and dreams behind them.
Not men who had lived enough to know that only their early dreams
were real. Not men, who, having lived, knew the vast disillusion
of living and were ready to die.
It was only after Jackson had gone that he saw the fallacy of his
own reasoning. If to live were disappointment, then to die, still
dreaming the great dream, was not wholly evil. He found himself
"To earn some honorable advancement for one's soul."
Deep down in him, overlaid with years of worldliness, there was a
belief in a life after death. He looked out the window at the
little, changing group. In each man out there there was something
that would live on, after he had shed that sweating, often dirty,
always weary, sometimes malformed shell that was the body. And
then the thing that would count would be not how he had lived but
what he had done.
This war was a big thing. It was the biggest thing in all the
history of the world. There might be, perhaps, some special heaven
for those who had given themselves to it, some particular honorable
advancement for their souls. Already he saw Jackson as one apart,
a man dedicated.
Then he knew that all his thinking was really centered about his
boy. He wanted Graham to go. But in giving him he was giving him
to the chance of death. Then he must hold to his belief in
eternity. He must feel that, or the thing would be unbearable.
For the first time in his life he gave conscious thought to
Natalie's religious belief. She believed in those things. She
must. She sat devoutly through the long service; she slipped, with
a little rustle of soft silk, so easily to her knees. Perhaps, if
he went to her with that?
For a week after Anna's escape Herman Klein had sat alone and
brooded. Entirely alone now, for following a stormy scene on his
discovery of Anna's disappearance, Katie had gone too.
"I don't know where she is," she had said, angrily, "and if I did
know I wouldn't tell you. If I was her I'd have the law on you.
Don't you look at that strap. You lay a hand on me and I'll kill
you. If you think I'm afraid of you, you can think again."
"She is my daughter, and not yet of age," Herman said heavily.
"You tell her for me that she comes back, or I go and bring her."
"Yah!" Katie jeered. "You try it! She's got marks on her that'll
jail you." And on his failure to reply her courage mounted. "This
ain't Germany, you know. They know how to treat women over here.
And you ask me" - her voice rose - "and I'll just say that there's
queer comings and goings here with that Rudolph. I've heard him
say some things that'll lock him up good and tight."
For all his rage, Teutonic caution warned him not to lay hands on
the girl. But his anger against her almost strangled him. Indeed,
when she came down stairs, dragging her heavy suitcase, he took a
step or two toward her, with his fists clenched. She stopped,
"You old bully!" she said, between white lips. "You touch me, and
I'll scream till I bring in every neighbor in the block. There's a
good lamp-post outside that's just waiting for your sort of German."
He had refused to pay her for the last week, also. But that she
knew well enough was because he was out of money. As fast as Anna's
salary had come in, he had taken out of it the small allowance that
was to cover the week's expenses, and had banked the remainder. But
Anna had carried her last pay envelope away with her, and added to
his anger at her going was his fear that he would have to draw on
With Katie gone, he set heavily about preparing his Sunday dinner.
Long years of service done for him, however, had made him clumsy.
He cooked a wretched meal, and then, leaving the dishes as they were,
he sat by the fire and brooded. When Rudolph came in, later, he
found him there, in his stocking-feet, a morose and untidy figure.
Rudolph's reception of the news roused him, however. He looked up,
after the telling, to find the younger man standing over him and
staring down at him with blood-shot eyes.
"You beat her!" he was saying. "What with?"
"What does that matter - She had bought herself a watch - "
"What did you beat her with?" Rudolph was licking his lips.
Receiving no reply, he called "Katie!"
"Katie has gone."
"Maybe you beat her, too."
"She wasn't my daughter."
"No by God! You wouldn't dare to touch her. She didn't belong to
you. You - "
"Get out," said Herman, somberly. He stood up menacingly. "You go,
Rudolph hesitated. Then he laughed.
"All right, old top," he said, in a conciliatory tone. "No offense
meant. I lost my temper."
He picked up the empty coal-scuffle, and went out into the shed
where the coal was kept. He needed a minute to think. Besides,
he always brought in coal when he was there. In the shed, however,
he put down the scuttle and stood still.
"The old devil!" he muttered.
But his rage for Anna was followed by rage against her. Where was
she to-night? Did Graham Spencer know where she was? And if he
did, what then? Were they at that moment somewhere together?
Hidden away, the two of them? The conviction that they were
together grew on him, and with it a frenzy that was almost madness.
He left the coal scuttle in the shed, and went out into the air.
For a half hour he stood there, looking down toward the Spencer
furnace, sending up, now red, now violet bursts of flame.
He was angry enough, jealous enough. But he was quick, too, to see
that that particular lump of potters' clay which was Herman Klein
was ready for the wheel. Even while he was cursing the girl his
cunning mind was already plotting, revenge for the Spencers,
self-aggrandizement among his fellows for himself. His inordinate
conceit, wounded by Anna's defection, found comfort in the early
prospect of putting over a big thing. He carried the coal in, to
find Herman gloomily clearing his untidy table. For a moment they
worked in silence, Rudolph at the stove, Herman at the sink.
Then Rudolph washed his hands under the faucet and faced the older
man. "How do you know she bought herself that watch," he demanded.
Herman eyed him.
"Perhaps you gave it to her!" Something like suspicion of Rudolph
crept into his eyes.
"Me? A hundred-dollar watch!"
"How do you know it cost a hundred dollars?"
"I saw it. She tried that story on me, too. But I was too smart
for her. I went to the store and asked. A hundred bucks!"
Herman's lips drew back over his teeth.
"You knew it, eh? And you did not tell me?"
"It wasn't my funeral," said Rudolph coolly. "If you wanted to
believe she bought it herself?"
"If she bought it herself!" Rudolph's shoulder was caught in an
iron grip. "You will tell me what you mean."
"Well, I ask you, do you think she'd spend that much on a watch?
Anyhow, the installment story doesn't go. That place doesn't sell
"Who is there would buy her such a watch?" Herman's voice was thick.
"How about Graham Spencer? She's been pretty thick with him."
"How you mean - thick?"
Rudolph shrugged his shoulders.
"I don't mean anything. But he's taken her out in his car. And
the Spencers think there's nothing can't be bought with money."
Herman put down the dish-cloth and commenced to draw down his
"Where you going?" Rudolph demanded uneasily.
"I go to the Spencers!"
"Listen!" Rudolph said, excitedly. "Don't you do it; not yet. You
got to get him first. We don't know anything; we don't even know
he gave her that watch. We've got to find her, don't you see? And
then, we've got to learn if he's going there - wherever she is."
"I shall bring her back," Herman said, stubbornly. "I shall bring
her back, and I shall kill her."
"And get strung up yourself! Now listen?" he argued. "You leave
this to me. I'll find her. I've got a friend, a city detective,
and he'll help me, see? We'll get her back, all right. Only you've
got to keep your hands off her. It's the Spencers that have got
Herman went back to the sink, slowly.
"That is right. It is the Spencers," he muttered.
Rudolph went out. Late in the evening he came back, with the news
that the search was on. And, knowing Herman's pride, he assured
him that the hill need never learn of Anna's flight, and if any
inquiries came he advised him to say the girl was sick.
In Rudolph's twisted mind it was not so much Anna's delinquency that
enraged him. The hill had its own ideas of morality. But he was
fiercely jealous, with that class-jealousy which was the fundamental
actuating motive of his life. He never for a moment doubted that
she had gone to Graham.
And, sitting by the fire in the little house, old Herman's untidy
head shrunk on his shoulders, Rudolph almost forgot Anna in plotting
to use this new pawn across the hearth from him in his game of
By the end of the week, however, there was no news of Anna. She
had not returned to the mill. Rudolph's friend on the detective
force had found no clew, and old Herman had advanced from brooding
by the fire to long and furious wanderings about the city streets.
He felt no remorse, only a growing and alarming fury. He returned
at night, to his cold and unkempt house, to cook himself a frugal
and wretched meal. His money had run very low, and with true
German stubbornness he refused to draw any from the savings bank.
Rudolph was very busy. There were meetings always, and to the
little inner circle that met behind Gus's barroom one night later
in March, he divulged the plan for the destruction of the new
Spencer munition plant.
"But - will they take him back?" one of the men asked. He was of
better class than the rest, with a military bearing and a heavy
German accent, for all his careful English.
"Will a dog snatch at a bone?" countered Rudolph. "Take him back!
They'll be crazy about it."
"He has been there a long time. He may, at the last, weaken."
But Rudolph only laughed, and drank more whisky of the German agent's
"He won't weaken," he said. "Give me a few days more to find the
girl, and all hell won't hold him."
On the Sunday morning after the President had been before Congress,
he found Herman dressed for church, but sitting by the fire. All
around him lay the Sunday paper, and he barely raised his head when
"Well, it's here!" said Rudolph.
"It has come. Yes."
"Wall Street will be opening champagne to-day."
Herman said nothing. But later on he opened up the fountain of
rage in his heart. It was wrong, all wrong. We had no quarrel
with Germany. It was the capitalists and politicians who had done
it. And above all, England.
He went far. He blamed America and Americans for his loss of work,
for Anna's disappearance. He searched his mind for grievances and
found them in the ore dust on the hill, which killed his garden; in
the inefficiency of the police, who could not find Anna; in the very
attitude of Clayton Spencer toward his resignation.
And on this smoldering fire Rudolph piled fuel Not that he said a
great deal. He worked around the cottage, washed dishes, threw
pails of water on the dirty porches, swept the floor, carried in
coal and wood. And gradually he began to play on the older man's
vanity. He had had great influence with the millworkers. No one
man had ever had so much.
Old Herman sat up, and listened sourly. But after a time he got up
and pouring some water out of the kettle, proceeded to shave himself.
And Rudolph talked on. If now he were to go back, and it were to
the advantage of the Fatherland and of the workers of the world to
hamper the industry, who so able to do it as Herman.
"Hamper? How?" Herman asked, suspiciously, holding his razor aloft.
He had a great fear of the law.
Rudolph re-assured him, cunning eyes averted.
"Well, a strike," he suggested. "The men'll listen to you. God
knows they've got a right to strike."
"I shall not go back," said Herman stolidly, and finished his
But Rudolph was satisfied. He left Herman sitting again by the
fire, but his eyes were no longer brooding. He was thinking,
watching the smoke curl up from the china-bowled German pipe which
he had brought from the Fatherland, and which he used only on
The declaration of war found Graham desperately unhappy. Natalie
held him rigidly to his promise, but it is doubtful if Natalie
alone could have kept, him out of the army. Marion was using her
influence, too! She held him by alternating between almost
agreeing to runaway marriage and threats of breaking the engagement
if he went to war. She had tacitly agreed to play Natalie's game,
and she was doing it.
Graham did not analyze his own misery. What he said to himself was
that he was making a mess of things. Life, which had seemed to be
a simple thing, compounded of work and play, had become involved,
difficult and wretched.
Some times he watched Clayton almost with envy. He seemed so sure
of himself; he was so poised, so calm, so strong. And he wondered
if there had been a tumultuous youth behind the quiet of his
maturity. He compared the even course of Clayton's days, his work,
his club, the immaculate orderliness of his life, with his own
He was hedged about with women. Wherever he turned, they obtruded
themselves. He made plans and women brushed them aside. He tried
to live his life, and women stepped in and lived it for him. His
mother, Marion, Anna Klein. Even Delight, with her friendship
always overclouded with disapproval. Wherever he turned, a woman
stood in the way. Yet he could not do without them. He needed
them even while he resented them.
Then, gradually, into his self-engrossment there penetrated a
conviction that all was not well between his father and his mother.
He had always taken them for granted much as he did the house and
the servants. In his brief vacations during his college days they
had agreed or disagreed, amicably enough. He had considered, in
those days, that life was a very simple thing. People married and
lived together. Marriage, he considered, was rather the end of
But he was older now, and he knew that marriage was a beginning and
not an end. It did not change people fundamentally. It only
changed their habits.
His discovery that his father and mother differed about the war was
the first of other discoveries; that they differed about him; that
they differed about many matters; that, indeed, they had no common
ground at all on which to meet; between them, although Graham did
not put it that way, was a No-Man's Land strewn with dead happiness,
lost desires, and the wreckage of years of dissension.
It was incredible to Graham that he should ever reach the forties,
but he wondered some times if all of life was either looking
forward or looking back. And it seemed to him rather tragic that
for Clayton, who still looked like a boy, there should be nothing
but his day at the mill, his silent evening at home, or some
stodgy dinner-party where the women were all middle-aged, and the
other men a trifle corpulent.
For the first time he was beginning to think of Clayton as a man,
rather than a father.
Not that all of this was coherently thought out. It was a series
of impressions, outgrowth of his own beginning development and of
his own uneasiness.
He wondered, too, about Rodney Page. He seemed to be always around,
underfoot, suave, fastidious, bowing Natalie out of the room and in
again. He had deplored the war until he found his attitude
unfashionable, and then he began, with great enthusiasm, to arrange
pageants for Red Cross funds, and even to make little speeches,
graceful and artificial, patterned on his best after-dinner manner.
Graham was certain that he supported his mother in trying to keep
him at home, and he began to hate him with a healthy young hate.
However, late in April, he posed in one of the pageants, rather
ungraciously, in a khaki uniform. It was not until the last minute
that he knew that Delight Haverford was to be the nurse bending
over his prostrate figure. He turned rather savage.
"Rotten nonsense," he said to her, "when they stood waiting to be
"Oh, I don't know. They're rather pretty;"
"Pretty! Do you suppose I want it be pretty?"
"Well, I do," said Delight, calmly.
"It's fake. That's what I hate. If you were really a nurse, and
was really in uniform -! But this parading in somebody else's
clothes, or stuff hired for the occasion - it's sickening."
Delight regarded him with clear, appraising eyes.
"Why don't you get a uniform of your own, then?" she inquired. She
smiled a little.
He never knew what the effort cost her. He was pale and angry, and
his face in the tableau was so set that it brought a round of
applause. With the ringing down of the curtain he confronted her,
"What did you mean by that?" he demanded. "We've hardly got into
this thing yet."