Part 9 out of 19
stretch between Union Square and Thirty-fourth Street they found
themselves at the very heart of the city's night life. They
gazed in wonder upon the elevated road with its trains
thundering by high above them. They crossed Greeley Square and
stood entranced before the spectacle--a street bright as day
with electric signs of every color, shape and size; sidewalks
jammed with people, most of them dressed with as much pretense
to fashion as the few best in Cincinnati; one theater after
another, and at Forty-second Street theaters in every direction.
Surely--surely--there would be small difficulty in placing his
play when there were so many theaters, all eager for plays.
They debated going to the theater, decided against it, as they
were tired from the journey and the excitement of crowding new
sensations. "I've never been to a real theater in my life," said
Susan. "I want to be fresh the first time I go."
"Yes," cried Rod. "That's right. Tomorrow night. That _will_ be
an experience!" And they read the illuminated signs, inspected
the show windows, and slowly strolled back toward the hotel. As
they were recrossing Union Square, Spenser said, "Have you
noticed how many street girls there are? We must have passed a
thousand. Isn't it frightful?"
"Yes," said Susan.
Rod made a gesture of disgust, and said with feeling, "How low
a woman must have sunk before she could take to that life!"
"Yes," said Susan.
"So low that there couldn't possibly be left any shred of
feeling or decency anywhere in her." Susan did not reply.
"It's not a question of morals, but of sensibility," pursued he.
"Some day I'm going to write a play or a story about it. A woman
with anything to her, who had to choose between that life and
death, wouldn't hesitate an instant. She couldn't. A
streetwalker!" And again he made that gesture of disgust.
"Before you write," said Susan, in a queer, quiet voice, "you'll
find out all about it. Maybe some of these girls--most of
them--all of them--are still human beings. It's not fair to
judge people unless you know. And it's so easy to say that
someone else ought to die rather than do this or that."
"You can't imagine yourself doing such a thing," urged he.
Susan hesitated, then--"Yes," she said.
Her tone irritated him. "Oh, nonsense! You don't know what
you're talking about."
"Yes," said Susan.
"Susie!" he exclaimed, looking reprovingly at her.
She met his eyes without flinching. "Yes," she said. "I have."
He stopped short and his expression set her bosom to heaving.
But her gaze was steady upon his. "Why did you tell me!" he
cried. "Oh, it isn't so--it can't be. You don't mean exactly that."
"Yes, I do," said she.
"Don't tell me! I don't want to know." And he strode on, she
keeping beside him.
"I can't let you believe me different from what I am," replied
she. "Not you. I supposed you guessed."
"Now I'll always think of it--whenever I look at you. . . . I
simply can't believe it. . . . You spoke of it as if you
"I'm not ashamed," she said. "Not before you. There isn't
anything I've done that I wouldn't be willing to have you know.
I'd have told you, except that I didn't want to recall it. You
know that nobody can live without getting dirty. The thing is to
want to be clean--and to try to get clean afterward--isn't it?"
"Yes," he admitted, as if he had not been hearing. "I wish you
hadn't told me. I'll always see it and feel it when I look at you."
"I want you to," said she. "I couldn't love you as I do if I
hadn't gone through a great deal."
"But it must have left its stains upon you," said he. Again he
stopped short in the street, faced her at the curb, with the
crowd hurrying by and jostling them. "Tell me about it!" he
She shook her head. "I couldn't." To have told would have been
like tearing open closed and healed wounds. Also it would have
seemed whining--and she had utter contempt for whining. "I'll
answer any question, but I can't just go on and tell."
"You deliberately went and did--that?"
"Haven't you any excuse, any defense?"
She might have told him about Burlingham dying and the need of
money to save him. She might have told him about Etta--her
health going--her mind made up to take to the streets, with no
one to look after her. She might have made it all a moving and
a true tale--of self-sacrifice for the two people who had done
most for her. But it was not in her simple honest nature to try
to shift blame. So all she said was:
"And you didn't want to kill yourself first?"
"No. I wanted to live. I was dirty--and I wanted to be clean. I
was hungry--and I wanted food. I was cold--that was the worst.
I was cold, and I wanted to get warm. And--I had been
married--but I couldn't tell even you about that--except--after
a woman's been through what I went through then, nothing in life
has any real terror or horror for her."
He looked at her long. "I don't understand," he finally said.
"Come on. Let's go back to the hotel."
She walked beside him, making no attempt to break his gloomy
silence. They went up to their room and she sat on the lounge by
the window. He lit a cigarette and half sat, half lay, upon the
bed. After a long time he said with a bitter laugh, "And I was
so sure you were a good woman!"
"I don't feel bad," she ventured timidly. "Am I?"
"Do you mean to tell me," he cried, sitting up, "that you don't
think anything of those things?"
"Life can be so hard and cruel, can make one do so many----"
"But don't you realize that what you've done is the very worst
thing a woman can do?"
"No," said she. "I don't. . . . I'm sorry you didn't understand.
I thought you did--not the details, but in a general sort of
way. I didn't mean to deceive you. That would have seemed to me
much worse than anything I did."
"I might have known! I might have known!" he cried--rather
theatrically, though sincerely withal--for Mr. Spenser was a
diligent worker with the tools of the play-making trade. "I
learned who you were as soon as I got home the night I left you
in Carrolton. They had been telephoning about you to the
village. So I knew about you."
"About my mother?" asked she. "Is that what you mean?"
"Oh, you need not look so ashamed," said he, graciously, pityingly.
"I am not ashamed," said she. But she did not tell him that her
look came from an awful fear that he was about to make her
ashamed of him.
"No, I suppose you aren't," he went on, incensed by this further
evidence of her lack of a good woman's instincts. "I really
ought not to blame you. You were born wrong--born with the moral
sense left out."
"Yes, I suppose so," said she, wearily.
"If only you had lied to me--told me the one lie!" cried he.
"Then you wouldn't have destroyed my illusion. You wouldn't have
killed my love."
She grew deathly white; that was all.
"I don't mean that I don't love you still," he hurried on. "But
not in the same way. That's killed forever."
"Are there different ways of loving?" she asked.
"How can I give you the love of respect and trust--now?"
"Don't you trust me--any more?"
"I couldn't. I simply couldn't. It was hard enough before on
account of your birth. But now----Trust a woman who had been a--
a--I can't speak the word. Trust you? You don't understand a man."
"No, I don't." She looked round drearily. Everything in ruins.
Alone again. Outcast. Nowhere to go but the streets--the life
that seemed the only one for such as she. "I don't understand
people at all. . . . Do you want me to go?"
She had risen as she asked this. He was beside her instantly.
"Go!" he cried. "Why I couldn't get along without you."
"Then you love me as I love you," Said she, putting her arms
round him. "And that's all I want. I don't want what you call
respect. I couldn't ever have hoped to get that, being born as
I was--could I? Anyhow, it doesn't seem to me to amount to much.
I can't help it, Rod--that's the way I feel. So just love me--do
with me whatever you will, so long as it makes you happy. And I
don't need to be trusted. I couldn't think of anybody but you."
He felt sure of her again, reascended to the peak of the moral
mountain. "You understand, we can never get married. We can
never have any children."
"I don't mind. I didn't expect that. We can _love_--can't we?"
He took her face between his hands. "What an exquisite face it
is," he said, "soft and smooth! And what clear, honest eyes!
Where is _it?_ Where _is_ it? It _must_ be there!"
She did not wince, but there came into her young face a deeper
pathos--and a wan, deprecating, pleading smile. She said:
"Maybe love has washed it away--if it was there. It never seemed
to touch me--any more than the dirt when I had to clean up my room."
"You mustn't talk that way. Why you are perfectly calm! You
don't cry or feel repentant. You don't seem to care."
"It's so--so past--and dead. I feel as if it were another
person. And it was, Rod!"
He shook his head, frowning. "Let's not talk about it," he said
harshly. "If only I could stop thinking about it!"
She effaced herself as far as she could, living in the same room
with him. She avoided the least show of the tenderness she felt,
of the longing to have her wounds soothed. She lay awake the
whole night, suffering, now and then timidly and softly
caressing him when she was sure that he slept. In the morning
she pretended to be asleep, let him call her twice before she
showed that she was awake. A furtive glance at him confirmed the
impression his voice had given. Behind her pale, unrevealing
face there was the agonized throb of an aching heart, but she
had the confidence of her honest, utter love; he would surely
soften, would surely forgive. As for herself--she had, through
loving and feeling that she was loved, almost lost the sense of
the unreality of past and present that made her feel quite
detached and apart from the life she was leading, from the
events in which she was taking part, from the persons most
intimately associated with her. Now that sense of isolation, of
the mere spectator or the traveler gazing from the windows of
the hurrying train--that sense returned. But she fought against
the feeling it gave her.
That evening they went to the theater--to see Modjeska in "Magda."
Susan had never been in a real theater. The only approach to a
playhouse in Sutherland was Masonic Hall. It had a sort of stage
at one end where from time to time wandering players gave poor
performances of poor plays or a minstrel show or a low
vaudeville. But none of the best people of Sutherland went--at
least, none of the women. The notion was strong in Sutherland
that the theater was of the Devil--not so strong as in the days
before they began to tolerate amateur theatricals, but still
vigorous enough to give Susan now, as she sat in the big,
brilliant auditorium, a pleasing sense that she, an outcast, was
at last comfortably at home. Usually the first sight of anything
one has dreamed about is pitifully disappointing. Neither nature
nor life can build so splendidly as a vivid fancy. But Susan, in
some sort prepared for the shortcomings of the stage, was not
disappointed. From rise to fall of curtain she was so
fascinated, so absolutely absorbed, that she quite forgot her
surroundings, even Rod. And between the acts she could not talk
for thinking. Rod, deceived by her silence, was chagrined. He
had been looking forward to a great happiness for himself in
seeing her happy, and much profit from the study of the
viewpoint of an absolutely fresh mind. It wasn't until they were
leaving the theater that he got an inkling of the true state of
affairs with her.
"Let's go to supper," said he.
"If you don't mind," replied she, "I'd rather go home. I'm very tired."
"You were sound asleep this morning. So you must have slept
well," said he sarcastically.
"It's the play," said she.
"_Why_ didn't you like it?" he asked, irritated.
She looked at him in wonder. "Like what? The play?" She drew a
long breath. "I feel as if it had almost killed me."
He understood when they were in their room and she could hardly
undress before falling into a sleep so relaxed, so profound,
that it made him a little uneasy. It seemed to him the
exhaustion of a child worn out with the excitement of a
spectacle. And her failure to go into ecstasies the next day led
him further into the same error. "Modjeska is very good as
_Magda_," said he, carelessly, as one talking without expecting
to be understood. "But they say there's an Italian
woman--Duse--who is the real thing."
Modjeska--Duse--Susan seemed indeed not to understand. "I hated
her father," she said. "He didn't deserve to have such a
Spenser had begun to laugh with her first sentence. At the
second he frowned, said bitterly: "I might have known! You get
it all wrong. I suppose you sympathize with _Magda_?"
"I worshiped, her " said Susan, her voice low and tremulous with
the intensity of her feeling.
Roderick laughed bitterly. "Naturally," he said. "You can't
An obvious case, thought he. She was indeed one of those
instances of absolute lack of moral sense. Just as some people
have the misfortune to be born without arms or without legs, so
others are doomed to live bereft of a moral sense. A sweet
disposition, a beautiful body, but no soul; not a stained soul,
but no soul at all. And his whole mental attitude toward her
changed; or, rather, it was changed by the iron compulsion of
his prejudice. The only change in his physical attitude--that is,
in his treatment of her--was in the direction of bolder passion.
of complete casting aside of all the restraint a conventional
respecter of conventional womanhood feels toward a woman whom he
respects. So, naturally, Susan, eager to love and to be loved,
and easily confusing the not easily distinguished spiritual and
physical, was reassured. Once in a while a look or a phrase from
him gave her vague uneasiness; but on the whole she felt that,
in addition to clear conscience from straightforwardness, she
had a further reason for being glad Chance had forced upon her
the alternative of telling him or lying. She did not inquire
into the realities beneath the surface of their life--neither
into what he thought of her, nor into what she thought of
him--thought in the bottom of her heart. She continued to fight
against, to ignore, her feeling of aloneness, her feeling of
She was aided in this by her anxiety about their finances. In
his efforts to place his play he was spending what were for them
large sums of money--treating this man and that to dinners, to
suppers--inviting men to lunch with him at expensive Broadway
restaurants. She assumed that all this was necessary; he said
so, and he must know. He was equally open-handed when they were
alone, insisting on ordering the more expensive dishes, on
having suppers they really did not need and drink which she knew
she would be better off without--and, she suspected, he also. It
simply was not in him, she saw, to be careful about money. She
liked it, as a trait, for to her as to all the young and the
unthinking carelessness about money seems a sure, perhaps the
surest, sign of generosity--when in fact the two qualities are
in no way related. Character is not a collection of ignorant
impulses but a solidly woven fabric of deliberate purposes.
Carelessness about anything most often indicates a tendency to
carelessness about everything. She admired his openhanded way of
scattering; she wouldn't have admired it in herself, would have
thought it dishonest and selfish. But Rod was different. _He_ had
the "artistic temperament," while she was a commonplace nobody,
who ought to be--and was--grateful to him for allowing her to
stay on and for making such use of her as he saw fit. Still,
even as she admired, she saw danger, grave danger, a
disturbingly short distance ahead. He described to her the
difficulties he was having in getting to managers, in having his
play read, and the absurdity of the reasons given for turning it
down. He made light of all these; the next manager would see,
would give him a big advance, would put the play on--and then,
But experience had already killed what little optimism there was
in her temperament--and there had not been much, because George
Warham was a successful man in his line, and successful men do
not create or permit optimistic atmosphere even in their houses.
Nor had she forgotten Burlingham's lectures on the subject with
illustrations from his own spoiled career; she understood it all
now--and everything else he had given her to store up in her
memory that retained everything. With that philippic against
optimism in mind, she felt what Spenser was rushing toward. She
made such inquiries about work for herself as her inexperience
and limited opportunities permitted. She asked, she begged him,
to let her try to get a place. He angrily ordered her to put any
such notion out of her head. After a time she nerved herself
again to speak. Then he frankly showed her why he was refusing.
"No," said he peremptorily, "I couldn't trust you in those
temptations. You must stay where I can guard you."
A woman who had deliberately taken to the streets--why, she
thought nothing of virtue; she would be having lovers with the
utmost indifference; and while she was not a liar yet--"at
least, I think not"--how long would that last? With virtue gone,
virtue the foundation of woman's character--the rest could no
more stand than a house set on sand.
"As long as you want me to love you, you've got to stay with
me," he declared. "If you persist, I'll know you're simply
looking for a chance to go back to your old ways."
And though she continued to think and cautiously to inquire
about work she said no more to him. She spent not a penny,
discouraged him from throwing money away--as much as she could
without irritating him--and waited for the cataclysm. Waited not
in gloom and tears but as normal healthy youth awaits any
adversity not definitely scheduled for an hour close at hand. It
would be far indeed from the truth to picture Susan as ever for
long a melancholy figure to the eye or even wholly melancholy
within. Her intelligence and her too sympathetic heart were
together a strong force for sadness in her life, as they cannot
but be in any life. In this world, to understand and to
sympathize is to be saddened. But there was in her a force
stronger than either or both. She had superb health. It made her
beautiful, strong body happy; and that physical happiness
brought her up quickly out of any depths--made her gay in spite
of herself, caused her to enjoy even when she felt that it was
"almost like hard-heartedness to be happy." She loved the sun
and in this city where the sun shone almost all the days,
sparkling gloriously upon the tiny salt particles filling the
air and making it delicious to breathe and upon the skin--in
this City of the Sun as she called it, she was gay even when she
Thus, she was no repellent, aggravating companion to Rod as she
awaited the cataclysm.
It came in the third week. He spent the entire day away from her,
toward midnight he returned, flushed with liquor. She had
gone to bed. "Get up and dress," said he with an irritability
toward her which she had no difficulty in seeing was really
directed at himself. "I'm hungry--and thirsty. We're going out
for some supper."
"Come kiss me first," said she, stretching out her arms. Several
times this device had shifted his purpose from spending money on
the needless and expensive suppers.
He laughed. "Not a kiss. We're going to have one final blow-out.
I start to work tomorrow. I've taken a place on the _Herald_--on
space, guaranty of twenty-five a week, good chance to average
fifty or sixty."
He said this hurriedly, carelessly, gayly--guiltily. She showed
then and there what a surpassing wise young woman she was, for
she did not exclaim or remind him of his high resolve to do or
die as a playwright. "I'll be ready in a minute," was all she said.
She dressed swiftly, he lounging on the sofa and watching her.
He loved to watch her dress, she did it so gracefully, and the
motions brought out latent charms of her supple figure. "You're
not so sure-fingered tonight as usual," said he. "I never saw
you make so many blunders--and you've got one stocking on wrong
She smiled into the glass at him. "The skirt'll cover that. I
guess I was sleepy."
"Never saw your eyes more wide-awake. What're you thinking about?"
"About supper," declared she. "I'm hungry. I didn't feel like
"I can't be here always," said he crossly--and she knew he was
suspecting what she really must be thinking.
"I wasn't complaining," replied she sweetly. "You know I
understand about business."
"Yes, I know," said he, with his air of generosity that always
made her feel grateful. "I always feel perfectly free about you."
"I should say!" laughed she. "You know I don't care what happens
so long as you succeed." Since their talk in Broadway that first
evening in New York she had instinctively never said "we."
When they were at the table at Rector's and he had taken a few
more drinks, he became voluble and plausible on the subject of
the trifling importance of his setback as a playwright. It was
the worst possible time of year; the managers were stocked up;
his play would have to be rewritten to suit some particular
star; a place on a newspaper, especially such an influential
paper as the _Herald_, would be of use to him in interesting
managers. She listened and looked convinced, and strove to
convince herself that she believed. But there was no gray in her
eyes, only the deepest hue of violets.
Next day they took a suite of two rooms and a bath in a
pretentious old house in West Forty-fourth Street near Long Acre
Square. She insisted that she preferred another much sunnier and
quieter suite with no bath but only a stationary washstand; it
was to be had for ten dollars a week. But he laughed at her as
too economical in her ideas, and decided for the eighteen-dollar
rooms. Also he went with her to buy clothes, made her spend
nearly a hundred dollars where she would have spent less than
twenty-five. "I prefer to make most of my things," declared she.
"And I've all the time in the world." He would not have it. In
her leisure time she must read and amuse herself and keep
herself up to the mark, especially physically. "I'm proud of
your looks," said he. "They belong to me, don't they? Well, take
care of my property, Miss."
She looked at him vaguely--a look of distance, of parting, of
pain. Then she flung herself into his arms with a hysterical
cry--and shut her eyes tight against the beckoning figure
calling her away. "No! No!" she murmured. "I belong here--_here!_"
"What are you saying?" he asked.
"Nothing--nothing," she replied.
AT the hotel they had been Mr. and Mrs. Spenser. When they
moved, he tried to devise some way round this; but it was
necessary that they have his address at the office, and Mrs.
Pershall with the glistening old-fashioned false teeth who kept
the furnished-room house was not one in whose withered bosom it
would be wise to raise a suspicion as to respectability. Only in
a strenuously respectable house would he live; in the other
sort, what might not untrustworthy Susan be up to? So Mr. and
Mrs. Spenser they remained, and the truth was suspected by only
a few of their acquaintances, was known by two or three of his
intimates whom he told in those bursts of confidence to which
voluble, careless men are given--and for which they in resolute
self-excuse unjustly blame strong drink.
One of his favorite remarks to her--sometimes made laughingly,
again ironically, again angrily, again insultingly, was in this strain:
"Your face is demure enough. But you look too damned attractive
about those beautiful feet of yours to be respectable at
That matter of her untrustworthiness had become a fixed idea
with him. The more he concentrated upon her physical loveliness,
the more he revolved the dangers, the possibilities of
unfaithfulness; for a physical infatuation is always jealous.
His work on the _Herald_ made close guarding out of the question.
The best he could do was to pop in unexpectedly upon her from
time to time, to rummage through her belongings, to check up her
statements as to her goings and comings by questioning the
servants and, most important of all, each day to put her through
searching and skillfully planned cross-examination. She had to
tell him everything she did--every little thing--and he
calculated the time, to make sure she had not found half an hour
or so in which to deceive him. If she had sewed, he must look at
the sewing; if she had read, he must know how many pages and
must hear a summary of what those pages contained. As she would
not and could not deceive him in any matter, however small, she
was compelled to give over a plan quietly to look for work and
to fit herself for some occupation that would pay a living
wage--if there were such for a beginning woman worker.
At first he was covert in this detective work, being ashamed of
his own suspicions. But as he drank, as he associated again with
the same sort of people who had wasted his time in Cincinnati,
he rapidly became franker and more inquisitorial. And she
dreaded to see the look she knew would come into his eyes, the
cruel tightening of his mouth, if in her confusion and eagerness
she should happen not instantly to satisfy the doubt behind each
question. He tormented her; he tormented himself. She suffered
from humiliation; but she suffered more because she saw how his
suspicions were torturing him. And in her humility and
helplessness and inexperience, she felt no sense of right to
resist, no impulse to resist.
And she forced herself to look on his spasms of jealousy as the
occasional storms which occur even in the best climates. She
reminded herself that she was secure of his love, secure in his
love; and in her sad mood she reproached herself for not being
content when at bottom everything was all right. After what she
had been through, to be sad because the man she loved loved her
too well! It was absurd, ungrateful.
He pried into every nook and corner of her being with that
ingenious and tireless persistence human beings reserve for
searches for what they do not wish to find. At last he contrived
to find, or to imagine he had found, something that justified
his labors and vindicated his disbelief in her.
They were walking in Fifth Avenue one afternoon, at the hour
when there is the greatest press of equipages whose expensively
and showily dressed occupants are industriously engaged in the
occupation of imagining they are doing something when in fact
they are doing nothing. What a world! What a grotesque confusing
of motion and progress! What fantastic delusions that one is
busy when one is merely occupied! They were between Forty-sixth
Street and Forty-seventh, on the west side, when a small
victoria drew up at the curb and a woman descended and crossed
the sidewalk before them to look at the display in a milliner's
window. Susan gave her the swift, seeing glance which one woman
always gives another--the glance of competitors at each other's
offerings. Instead of glancing away, Susan stopped short and
gazed. Forgetting Rod, she herself went up to the millinery
display that she might have a fuller view of the woman who had
"What's the matter?" cried Spenser. "Come on. You don't want any
of those hats."
But Susan insisted that she must see, made him linger until the
woman returned to her carriage and drove away. She said to Rod:
"Did you see her?"
"Yes. Rather pretty--nothing to scream about."
"But her _style!_" cried Susan.
"Oh, she was nicely dressed--in a quiet way. You'll see
thousands a lot more exciting after you've been about in this
town a while."
"I've seen scores of beautifully dressed women here--and in
Cincinnati, too," replied Susan. "But that woman--she was
_perfect_. And that's a thing I've never seen before."
"I'm glad you have such quiet tastes--quiet and inexpensive."
"Inexpensive!" exclaimed Susan. "I don't dare think how much
that woman's clothes cost. You only glanced at her, Rod, you
didn't _look_. If you had, you'd have seen. Everything she wore
was just right." Susan's eyes were brilliant. "Oh, it was
wonderful! The colors--the fit--the style--the making--every big
and little thing. She was a work of art, Rod! That's the first
woman I've seen in my life that I through and through envied."
Rod's look was interested now. "You like that sort of thing a
lot?" he inquired with affected carelessness.
"Every woman does," replied she, unsuspicious. "But I
care--well, not for merely fine clothes. But for the--the kind
that show what sort of person is in them." She sighed. "I wonder
if I'll ever learn--and have money enough to carry out. It'll
take so much--so much!" She laughed. "I've got terribly
extravagant ideas. But don't be alarmed--I keep them chained up."
He was eying her unpleasantly. Suddenly she became confused. He
thought it was because she was seeing and understanding his look
and was frightened at his having caught her at last. In fact, it
was because it all at once struck her that what she had
innocently and carelessly said sounded like a hint or a reproach
to him. He sneered:
"So you're crazy about finery--eh?"
"Oh, Rod!" she cried. "You know I didn't mean it that way. I
long for and dream about a whole lot of beautiful things, but
nothing else in the world's in the same class with--with what
"You needn't try to excuse yourself," said he in a tone that
She wished she had not seen the woman who had thus put a cloud
over their afternoon's happiness. But long after she had
forgotten his queerness about what she said, she continued to
remember that "perfect" woman--to see every detail of her
exquisite toilet, so rare in a world where expensive-looking
finery is regarded as the chief factor in the art of dress. How
much she would have to learn before she could hope to dress like
that!--learn not merely about dress but about the whole artistic
side of life. For that woman had happened to cross Susan's
vision at just the right moment--in development and in mood--to
reveal to her clearly a world into which she had never
penetrated--a world of which she had vaguely dreamed as she read
novels of life in the lands beyond the seas, the life of palaces
and pictures and statuary, of opera and theater, of equipages
and servants and food and clothing of rare quality. She had
rather thought such a life did not exist outside of novels and
dreams. What she had seen of New York--the profuse, the gigantic
but also the undiscriminating--had tended to strengthen the
suspicion. But this woman proved her mistaken.
Our great forward strides are made unconsciously, are the
results of apparently trivial, often unnoted impulses. Susan,
like all our race, had always had vague secret dreams of
ambition--so vague thus far that she never thought of them as
impelling purposes in her life. Her first long forward stride
toward changing these dreams from the vague to the definite was
when Rod, before her on the horse on the way to Brooksburg,
talked over his shoulder to her of the stage and made her feel
that it was the life for her, the only life open to her where a
woman could hope to be judged as human being instead of as mere
instrument of sex. Her second long forward movement toward
sharply defined ambition dated from the sight of the woman of
the milliner's window--the woman who epitomized to Susan the
whole art side of life that always gives its highest expression
in some personal achievement--the perfect toilet, the perfect
painting or sculpture, the perfect novel or play.
But Rod saw in her enthusiasm only evidence of a concealed
longing for the money to indulge extravagant whims. With his
narrowing interest in women--narrowed now almost to sex--his
contempt for them as to their minds and their hearts was so far
advancing that he hardly took the trouble to veil it with
remnants of courtesy. If Susan had clearly understood--even if
she had let herself understand what her increasing knowledge
might have enabled her to understand--she would have hated him
in spite of the hold gratitude and habit had given him upon her
loyal nature--and despite the fact that she had, as far as she
could see, no alternative to living with him but the tenements
or the streets.
One day in midsummer she chanced to go into the Hotel Astor to
buy a magazine. As she had not been there before she made a
wrong turning and was forced to cross one of the restaurants. In
a far corner, half hidden by a group of palms, she saw Rod at a
small table with a strikingly pretty woman whose expression and
dress and manner most energetically proclaimed the actress. The
woman was leaning toward him, was touching his hand and looking
into his eyes with that show of enthusiasm which raises doubts
of sincerity in an experienced man and sets him to keeping an
eye or a hand--or both--upon his money. Real emotion, even a
professional expert at display of emotion, is rarely so adept at
It may have been jealousy that guided her to this swift judgment
upon the character of the emotion correctly and charmingly
expressing itself. If so, jealousy was for once a trustworthy
guide. She turned swiftly and escaped unseen. The idea of
trapping him, of confronting him, never occurred to her. She
felt ashamed and self-reproachful that she had seen. Instead of
the anger that fires a vain woman, whether she cares about a man
or not, there came a profound humiliation. She had in some way
fallen short; she had not given him all he needed; it must be
that she hadn't it to give, since she had given him all she had.
He must not know--he must not! For if he knew he might dislike
her, might leave her--and she dared not think what life would be
without him, her only source of companionship and affection, her
only means of support. She was puzzled that her discovery, not
of his treachery--he had so broken her spirit with his
suspicions and his insulting questions that she did not regard
herself as of the rank and dignity that has the right to exact
fidelity--but of his no longer caring enough to be content with
her alone, had not stunned her with amazement. She did not
realize how completely the instinct that he was estranged from
her had prepared her for the thing that always accompanies
estrangement. Between the perfect accord, that is, the never
realized ideal for a man and a woman living together, and the
intolerable discord that means complete repulse there is a vast
range of states of feeling imperceptibly shading into each
other. Most couples constantly move along this range, now toward
the one extreme, now toward the other. As human kings are not
given to self-analysis, and usually wander into grotesque error
whenever they attempt it, no couple knows precisely where it is
upon the range, until something crucial happens to compel them
to know. Susan and Rod had begun as all couples begin--with an
imaginary ideal accord based upon their ignorance of each other
and their misunderstanding of what qualities they thought they
understood in each other. The delusion of accord vanished that
first evening in New York. What remained? What came in the
place? They knew no more about that than does the next couple.
They were simply "living along." A crisis, drawing them close
together or flinging them forever apart or forcing them to live
together, he frankly as keeper and she frankly as kept, might
come any day, any hour. Again it might never come.
After a few weeks the matter that had been out of her mind
accidentally and indirectly came to the surface in a chance
remark. She said:
"Sometimes I half believe a man could be untrue to a woman, even
though he loved her."
She did not appreciate the bearings of her remark until it was
spoken. With a sensation of terror lest the dreaded crisis might
be about to burst, she felt his quick, nervous glance. She
breathed freely again when she felt his reassurance and relief
as she successfully withstood.
"Certainly," he said with elaborate carelessness. "Men are a
rotten, promiscuous lot. That's why it's necessary for a woman
to be good and straight."
All this time his cross-examination had grown in severity.
Evidently he was fearing that she might be having a recurrence
of the moral disease which was fatal in womankind, though only
mild indiscretion in a man, if not positively a virtue, an
evidence of possessing a normal masculine nature. Her mind began
curiously--sadly--to revolve the occasional presents--of money,
of books, of things to wear--which he gave, always quite
unexpectedly. At first unconsciously, but soon consciously, she
began to associate these gifts, given always in an embarrassed,
shamefaced way, with certain small but significant indications
of his having strayed. And it was not long before she
understood; she was receiving his expiations for his
indiscretions. Like an honest man and a loyal--masculinely
loyal--lover he was squaring accounts. She never read the books
she owed to these twinges; it was thus that she got her aversion
to Thackeray--one of his "expiations" was a set of Thackeray.
The things to wear she contrived never to use. The conscience
money she either spent upon him or put back into his pocket a
little at a time, sure that he, the most careless of men about
money, would never detect her.
His work forced him to keep irregular hours; thus she could
pretend to herself that his absences were certainly because of
office duty. Still, whenever he was gone overnight, she became
unhappy--not the crying kind of unhappiness; to that she was
little given--but the kind that lies awake and aches and with
morbid vivid fancy paints the scenes suspicion suggests, and
stares at them not in anger but in despair. She was always
urging herself to content herself with what she was getting. She
recalled and lived again the things she had forgotten while
Roderick was wholly hers--the penalties of the birth brand of
shame--her wedding night--the miseries of the last period of her
wanderings with Burlingham--her tenement days--the dirt, the
nakedness, the brutal degradation, the vermin, the savage cold.
And the instant he returned, no matter how low-spirited she had
been, she was at once gay, often deliriously gay--until soon his
awakened suspicion as to what she had been up to in his absence
quieted her. There was little forcing or pretense in this
gayety; it bubbled and sparkled from the strong swift current of
her healthy passionate young life which, suspended in the icy
clutch of fear when he was away from her, flowed as freely as the
brooks in spring as soon as she realized that she still had him.
Did she really love him? She believed she did. Was she right?
Love is of many degrees--and kinds. And strange and confused
beyond untangling is the mixture of motives and ideas in the
mind of any human being as to any other being with whom his or
her relations are many sided.
Anyone who had not been roughly seized by destiny and forced to
fight desperately weaponless might have found it difficult to
understand how this intelligent, high-spirited girl could be so
reasonable--coarsely practical, many people would have said. A
brave soul--truly brave with the unconscious courage that lives
heroically without any taint of heroics--such a soul learns to
accept the facts of life, to make the best of things, to be
grateful for whatever sunshine may be and not to shriek and
gesticulate at storm. Suffering had given this sapling of a girl
the strong fiber that enables a tree to push majestically up
toward the open sky. Because she did not cry out was no sign
that she was not hurt; and because she did not wither and die of
her wounds was only proof of her strength of soul. The weak wail
and the weak succumb; the strong persist--and a world of wailers
and weaklings calls them hard, insensible, coarse.
Spenser was fond of exhibiting to his men friends--to some of
them--this treasure to which he always returned the more
enamoured for his vagary and its opportunity of comparison.
Women he would not permit. In general, he held that all women,
the respectable no less than the other kind, put mischief in
each other's heads and egged each other on to carry out the
mischief already there in embryo. In particular, he would have
felt that he was committing a gross breach of the proprieties,
not to say the decencies, had he introduced a woman of Susan's
origin, history and present status to the wives and sisters of
his friends; and, for reasons which it was not necessary even to
pretend to conceal from her, he forbade her having anything to
do with the kinds of woman who would not have minded, had they
known all about her. Thus, her only acquaintances, her only
associates, were certain carefully selected men. He asked to
dinner or to the theater or to supper at Jack's or Rector's only
such men as he could trust. And trustworthy meant physically
unattractive. Having small and dwindling belief in the mentality
of women, and no belief whatever in mentality as a force in the
relations of the sexes, he was satisfied to have about her any
man, however clever, provided he was absolutely devoid of
The friend who came oftenest was Drumley, an editorial writer
who had been his chum at college and had got him the place on
the _Herald_. Drumley he would have trusted alone with her on a
desert island; for several reasons, all of his personal
convenience, it pleased him that Susan liked Drumley and was
glad of his company, no matter how often he came or how long he
stayed. Drumley was an emaciated Kentucky giant with grotesquely
sloping shoulders which not all the ingenious padding of his
tailor could appreciably mitigate. His spare legs were bowed in
the calves. His skin looked rough and tough, like sandpaper and
emery board. The thought of touching his face gave one the same
sensation as a too deeply cut nail. His neck was thin and long,
and he wore a low collar--through that interesting passion of the
vain for seeing a defect in themselves as a charm and calling
attention to it. The lower part of his sallow face suggested
weakness--the weakness so often seen in the faces of
professional men, and explaining why they chose passive instead of
active careers. His forehead was really fine, but the development
of the rest of the cranium above the protuberant little ears was
not altogether satisfying to a claim of mental powers.
Drumley was a good sort--not so much through positive virtue as
through the timidity which too often accounts for goodness, that
is, for the meek conformity which passes as goodness. He was an
insatiable reader, had incredible stores of knowledge; and as he
had a large vocabulary and a ready speech he could dole out of
those reservoirs an agreeable treacle of commonplace philosophy
or comment--thus he had an ideal equipment for editorial
writing. He was absolutely without physical magnetism. The most
he could ever expect from any woman was respect; and that woman
would have had to be foolish enough not to realize that there is
as abysmal a difference between knowledge and mentality as there
is between reputation and character. Susan liked him because he
knew so much. She had developed still further her innate passion
for educating herself. She now wanted to know all about
everything. He told her what to read, set her in the way to
discovering and acquiring the art of reading--an art he was
himself capable of acquiring only in its rudiments--an art the
existence of which is entirely unsuspected by most persons who
regard themselves and are regarded as readers. He knew the
histories and biographies that are most amusing and least
shallow and mendacious. He instructed her in the great
playwrights and novelists and poets, and gave--as his own--the
reasons for their greatness assigned by the world's foremost
critical writers. He showed her what scientific books to
read--those that do not bore and do not hide the simple
fascinating facts about the universe under pretentious,
He was a pedant, but his pedantry was disguised, therefore
mitigated by his having associated with men of the world instead
of with the pale and pompous capons of the student's closet. His
favorite topic was beauty and ugliness--and his abhorrence for
anyone who was not good to look at. As he talked this subject,
his hearers were nervous and embarrassed. He was a drastic cure
for physical vanity. If this man could so far deceive himself
that he thought himself handsome, who in all the world could be
sure he or she was not the victim of the same incredible
delusion? It was this hallucination of physical beauty that
caused Rod to regard him as the safest of the safe. For it made
him pitiful and ridiculous.
At first he came only with Spenser. Afterward, Spenser used to
send him to dine with Susan and to spend the evenings with her
when he himself had to be--or wished to be elsewhere. When she
was with Drumley he knew she was not "up to any of her old
tricks." Drumley fell in love with her; but, as in his
experience the female sex was coldly chaste, he never developed
even the slight hope necessary to start in a man's mind the idea
of treachery to his friend about a woman. Whenever Drumley heard
that a woman other than the brazenly out and out disreputables
was "loose" or was inclined that way, he indignantly denied it
as a libel upon the empedestaled sex. If proofs beyond dispute
were furnished, he raved against the man with all the venom of
the unsuccessful hating the successful for their success. He had
been sought of women, of course, for he had a comfortable and
secure position and money put by. But the serious women who had
set snares for him for the sake of a home had not attracted him;
as for the better looking and livelier women who had come
a-courting with alimony in view, they had unwisely chosen the
method of approach that caused him to set them down as nothing
but professional loose characters. Thus his high ideal of
feminine beauty and his lofty notion of his own deserts, on the
one hand, and his reverence for womanly propriety, on the other
hand, had kept his charms and his income unshared.
Toward the end of Spenser's first year on the _Herald_--it was
early summer--he fell into a melancholy so profound and so
prolonged that Susan became alarmed. She was used to his having
those fits of the blues that are a part of the nervous, morbidly
sensitive nature and in the unhealthfulness of an irregular and
dissipated life recur at brief intervals. He spent more and more
time with her, became as ardent as in their first days together,
with an added desperation of passionate clinging that touched
her to the depths. She had early learned to ignore his moods, to
avoid sympathy which aggravates, and to meet his blues with a
vigorous counterirritant of liveliness. After watching the
course of this acute attack for more than a month, she decided
that at the first opportunity she would try to find out from
Drumley what the cause was. Perhaps she could cure him if she
were not working in the dark.
One June evening Drumley came to take her to dinner at the
Casino in Central Park. She hesitated. She still liked Drumley's
mind; but latterly he had fallen into the way of gazing
furtively, with a repulsive tremulousness of his loose eyelids,
at her form and at her ankles--especially at her
ankles--especially at her ankles. This furtive debauch gave her
a shivery sense of intrusion. She distinctly liked the candid,
even the not too coarse, glances of the usual man. But not this
shy peeping. However, as there were books she particularly
wished to talk about with him, she accepted.
It was an excursion of which she was fond. They strolled along
Seventh Avenue to the Park, entered and followed the lovely
walk, quiet and green and odorous, to the Mall. They sauntered
in the fading light up the broad Mall, with its roof of boughs
of majestic trees, with its pale blue vistas of well-kept lawns.
At the steps leading to the Casino they paused to delight in the
profusely blooming wistaria and to gaze away northward into and
over what seemed an endless forest with towers and cupolas of
castle and fortress and cathedral rising serene and graceful
here and there above the sea of green. There was the sound of
tinkling fountains, the musical chink-chink of harness chains of
elegant equipages; on the Mall hundreds of children were playing
furiously, to enjoy to the uttermost the last few moments before
being snatched away to bed--and the birds were in the same
hysterical state as they got ready for their evening song. The
air was saturated with the fresh odors of spring and early
summer flowers. Susan, walking beside the homely Drumley, was a
charming and stylish figure of girlish womanhood. The year and
three months in New York had wrought the same transformations in
her that are so noticeable whenever an intelligent and observant
woman with taste for the luxuries is dipped in the magic of city
life. She had grown, was now perhaps a shade above the medium
height for women, looked even taller because of the slenderness
of her arms, of her neck, of the lines of her figure. There was
a deeper melancholy in her violet-gray eyes. Experience had
increased the allure of her wide, beautifully curved mouth.
They took a table under the trees, with beds of blooming flowers
on either hand. Drumley ordered the sort of dinner she liked,
and a bottle of champagne and a bottle of fine burgundy to make
his favorite drink--champagne and burgundy, half and half. He
was running to poetry that evening--Keats and Swinburne.
Finally, after some hesitation, he produced a poem by Dowson--"I
ran across it today. It's the only thing of his worth while, I
believe--and it's so fine that Swinburne must have been sore
when he read it because he hadn't thought to write it himself.
Its moral tone is not high, but it's so beautiful, Mrs. Susan,
that I'll venture to show it to you. It comes nearer to
expressing what men mean by the man sort of constancy than
anything I ever read. Listen to this:
"I cried for madder music and for stronger wine,
But when the feast is finished, and the lamps expire,
Then falls thy shadow, Cynara!--the night is thine;
And I am desolate and sick of an old passion,
Yea, hungry for the lips of my desire;
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara, in my fashion."
Susan took the paper, read the four stanzas several times,
handed it back to him without a word. "Don't you think it fine?"
asked he, a little uneasily--he was always uneasy with a woman
when the conversation touched the relations of the sexes--uneasy
lest he might say or might have said something to send a shiver
through her delicate modesty.
"Fine," Susan echoed absently. "And true. . . . I suppose it is
the best a woman can expect--to be the one he returns to.
And--isn't that enough?"
"You are very different from any woman I ever met," said
Drumley. "Very different from what you were last
fall--wonderfully different. But you were different then, too."
"I'd have been a strange sort of person if it weren't so. I've
led a different life. I've learned--because I've had to learn."
"You've been through a great deal--suffered a great deal for one
of your age?"
Susan shrugged her shoulders slightly. She had her impulses to
confide, but she had yet to meet the person who seriously
tempted her to yield to them. Not even Rod; no, least of all Rod.
"Happy--and more. I'm content."
The reply was the truth, as she saw the truth. Perhaps it was
also the absolute truth; for when a woman has the best she has
ever actually possessed, and when she knows there is nowhere
else on earth for her, she is likely to be content. Their
destiny of subordination has made philosophers of women.
Drumley seemed to be debating how to disclose something he had
in mind. But after several glances at the sweet, delicate face
of the girl, he gave it over. In the subdued light from the
shaded candles on their table, she looked more child-like than
he had ever seen. Perhaps her big pale-blue hat and graceful
pale-blue summer dress had something to do with it, also. "How
old are you?" he asked abruptly.
"I feel like saying, `So much!'--and also `So little!' How long
have you been married?"
"Why all these questions?" demanded she, smiling.
He colored with embarrassment. "I didn't mean to be
impertinent," said he.
"It isn't impertinence--is it?--to ask a woman how long she's
But she did not go on to tell him; instead, she pretended to
have her attention distracted by a very old man and a very young
girl behaving in most lover-like fashion, the girl outdoing the
man in enthusiastic determination to convince. She was elegantly
and badly dressed in new clothes--and she seemed as new to that
kind of clothes as those particular clothes were new to her.
After dinner they walked down through the Park by the way they
had come; it did not look like the same scene now, with the
moonlight upon it, with soft shadows everywhere and in every
shadow a pair of lovers. They had nearly reached the entrance
when Drumley said: "Let's sit on this bench here. I want to have
a serious talk with you."
Susan seated herself and waited. He lit a cigar with the
deliberation of one who is striving to gain time. The bench
happened to be one of those that are divided by iron arms into
individual seats. He sat with a compartment between them. The
moonbeams struck across his profile as he turned it toward her;
they shone full upon her face. He looked, hastily glanced away.
With a gruffness as if the evening mist had got into his throat
"Let's take another bench."
"Why?" objected she. "I like this beautiful light."
He rose. "Please let me have my way." And he led her to a bench
across which a tree threw a deep shadow; as they sat there,
neither could see the other's face except in dimmest outline.
After a brief silence he began:
"You love Rod--don't you?"
She laughed happily.
"Above everything on earth?"
"Or in heaven."
"You'd do anything to have him succeed?"
"No one could prevent his succeeding. He's got it in him. It's
bound to come out."
"So I'd have said--until a year ago--that is, about a year ago."
As her face turned quickly toward him, he turned profile to her.
"What do you mean?" said she, quickly, almost imperiously.
"Yes--I mean _you_," replied he.
"You mean you think I'm hindering him?"
When Drumley's voice finally came, it was funereally solemn.
"You are dragging him down. You are killing his ambition."
"You don't understand," she protested with painful expression.
"If you did, you wouldn't say that."
"You mean because he is not true to you?"
"Isn't he?" said she, loyally trying to pretend surprise. "If
that's so, you've no right to tell me--you, his friend. If it
"In either case I'd be beneath contempt--unless I knew that you
knew already. Oh, I've known a long time that you knew--ever
since the night you looked away when he absentmindedly pulled a
woman's veil and gloves out of his pocket. I've watched you
since then, and I know."
"You are a very dear friend, Mr. Drumley," said she. "But you
must not talk of him to me."
"I must," he replied. And he hastened to make the self-fooled
hypocrite's familiar move to the safety of duty's skirts. "It
would be a crime to keep silent."
She rose. "I can't listen. It may be your duty to speak. It's my
duty to refuse to hear."
"He is overwhelmed with debt. He is about to lose his position.
It is all because he is degraded--because he feels he is
entangled in an intrigue with a woman he is ashamed to love--a
woman he has struggled in vain to put out of his heart."
Susan, suddenly weak, had seated herself again. From his first
words she had been prey to an internal struggle--her heart
fighting against understanding things about her relations with
Rod, about his feeling toward her, which she had long been
contriving to hide from herself. When Drumley began she knew
that the end of self-deception was at hand--if she let him
speak. But the instant he had spoken, the struggle ended. If he
had tried to stop she would have compelled him to go on.
"That woman is you," he continued in the same solemn measured
way. "Rod will not marry you. He cannot leave you. And you are
dragging him down. You are young. You don't know that passionate
love is a man's worst enemy. It satisfies his ambition--why
struggle when one already has attained the climax of desire? It
saps his strength, takes from him the energy without which
achievement is impossible. Passion dies poisoned of its own
sweets. But passionate love kills--at least, it kills the man. If
you did not love him, I'd not be talking to you now. But you do
love him. So I say, you are killing him. . . . Don't think he
has told me "
"I know he didn't," she interrupted curtly. "He does not whine."
She hadn't a doubt of the truth of her loyal defense. And
Drumley could not have raised a doubt, even if she had been
seeing the expression of his face. His long practice of the
modern editorial art of clearness and brevity and compact
statement had enabled him to put into those few sentences more
than another might have been unable to express in hours of
explanation and appeal. And the ideas were not new to her. Rod
had often talked them in a general way and she had thought much
about them. Until now she had never seen how they applied to Rod
and herself. But she was seeing and feeling it now so acutely
that if she had tried to speak or to move she could not have
After a long pause, Drumley said: "Do you comprehend what I mean?"
She was silent--so it was certain that she comprehended.
"But you don't believe?. . . He began to borrow money almost
immediately on his arrival here last summer. He has been
borrowing ever since--from everybody and anybody. He owes now,
as nearly as I can find out, upwards of three thousand dollars."
Susan made a slight but sharp movement.
"You don't believe me?"
"Yes. Go on."
"He has it in him, I'm confident, to write plays--strong plays.
Does he ever write except ephemeral space stuff for the paper?"
"And he never will so long as he has you to go home to. He lives
beyond his means because he will have you in comfortable
surroundings and dressed to stimulate his passion. If he would
marry you, it might be a little better--though still he would
never amount to anything as long as his love lasted--the kind of
love you inspire. But he will never marry you. I learned that
from what I know of his ideas and from what I've observed as to
your relations--not from anything he ever said about you."
If Susan had been of the suspicious temperament, or if she had
been a few years older, the manner of this second protest might
have set her to thinking how unlike Drumley, the inexpert in
matters of love and passion, it was to analyze thus and to form
such judgments. And thence she might have gone on to consider
that Drumley's speeches sounded strangely like paraphrases of
Spenser's eloquent outbursts when he "got going." But she had
not a suspicion. Besides, her whole being was concentrated upon
the idea Drumley was trying to put into words. She asked:
"Why are you telling me?"
"Because I love him," replied Drumley with feeling. "We're about
the same age, but he's been like my son ever since we struck up
a friendship in the first term of Freshman year."
"Is that your only reason?"
"On my honor." And so firmly did he believe it, he bore her
scrutiny as she peered into his face through the dimness.
She drew back. "Yes," she said in a low voice, half to herself.
"Yes, I believe it is." There was silence for a long time, then
she asked quietly:
"What do you think I ought to do?"
"Leave him--if you love him," replied Drumley.
"What else can you do?. . . Stay on and complete his ruin?"
"And if I go--what?"
"Oh, you can do any one of many things. You can----"
"I mean--what about him?"
"He will be like a crazy man for a while. He'll make that a
fresh excuse for keeping on as he's going now. Then he'll brace
up, and I'll be watching over him, and I'll put him to work in
the right direction. He can't be saved, he can't even be kept
afloat as long as you are with him, or within reach. With you
gone out of his life--his strength will return, his self-respect
can be roused. I've seen the same thing in other cases again and
again. I could tell you any number of stories of----"
"He does not care for me?"
"In _one_ way, a great deal. But you're like drink, like a drug
to him. It is strange that a woman such as you, devoted,
single-hearted, utterly loving, should be an influence for bad.
But it's true of wives also. The best wives are often the worst.
The philosophers are right. A man needs tranquillity at home."
"I understand," said she. "I understand--perfectly. " And her
voice was unemotional, as always when she was so deeply moved
that she dared not release anything lest all should be released.
She was like a seated statue. The moon had moved so that it
shone upon her face. He was astonished by its placid calm. He
had expected her to rave and weep, to protest and plead--before
denouncing him and bidding him mind his own business. Instead,
she was making it clear that after all she did not care about
Roderick; probabLy she was wondering what would become of her,
now that her love was ruined. Well, wasn't it natural? Wasn't it
altogether to her credit--wasn't it additional proof that she was
a fine pure woman? How could she have continued deeply to care
for a man scandalously untrue, and drunk much of the time?
Certainly, it was in no way her fault that Rod made her the
object and the victim of the only kind of so-called love of
which he was capable. No doubt one reason he was untrue to her
was that she was too pure for his debauched fancy. Thus reasoned
Drumley with that mingling of truth and error characteristic of
those who speculate about matters of which they have small and
"About yourself," he proceeded. "I have a choice of professions
for you--one with a company on the road--on the southern
circuit--with good prospects of advancement. I know, from what
I have seen of you, and from talks we have had, that you would
do well on the stage. But the life might offend your
sensibilities. I should hesitate to recommend it to a delicate,
fine-fibered woman like you. The other position is a clerkship
in a business office in Philadelphia--with an increase as soon
as you learn stenography and typewriting. It is respectable. It
is sheltered. It doesn't offer anything brilliant. But except
the stage and literature, nothing brilliant offers for a woman.
Literature is out of the question, I think--certainly for the
present. The stage isn't really a place for a woman of lady-like
instincts. So I should recommend the office position."
She remained silent.
"While my main purpose in talking to you," he continued, "was to
try to save him, I can honestly say that it was hardly less my
intention to save you. But for that, I'd not have had the
courage to speak. He is on the way down. He's dragging you with
him. What future have you with him? You would go on down and
down, as low as he should sink and lower. You've completely
merged yourself in him--which might do very well if you were his
wife and a good influence in his life or a mere negation like
most wives. But in the circumstances it means ruin to you. Don't
you see that?"
"What did you say?"
"I was talking about you--your future your----"
"Oh, I shall do well enough." She rose. "I must be going."
Her short, indifferent dismissal of what was his real object in
speaking--though he did not permit himself to know it--cut him
to the quick. He felt a sickening and to him inexplicable sense
of defeat and disgrace. Because he must talk to distract his
mind from himself, he began afresh by saying:
"You'll think it over?"
"I am thinking it over. . . . I wonder that----"
With the fingers of one hand she smoothed her glove on the
fingers of the other--"I wonder that I didn't think of it long
ago. I ought to have thought of it. I ought to have seen."
"I can't tell you how I hate to have been the----"
"Please don't say any more," she requested in a tone that made
it impossible for a man so timid as he to disobey.
Neither spoke until they were in Fifty-ninth Street; then he,
unable to stand the strain of a silent walk of fifteen blocks,
suggested that they take the car down. She assented. In the car
the stronger light enabled him to see that she was pale in a way
quite different from her usual clear, healthy pallor, that
there was an unfamiliar look about her mouth and her eyes--a
look of strain, of repression, of resolve. These signs and the
contrast of her mute motionlessness with her usual vivacity of
speech and expression and gesture made him uneasy.
"I'd advise," said he, "that you reflect on it all carefully and
consult with me before you do anything--if you think you ought
to do anything."
She made no reply. At the door of the house he had to reach for
her hand, and her answer to his good night was a vague absent
echo of the word. "I've only done what I saw was my duty," said
"Yes, I suppose so. I must go in."
"And you'll talk with me before you----"
The door had closed behind her; she had not known he was speaking.
When Spenser came, about two hours later, and turned on the
light in their bedroom, she was in the bed, apparently asleep.
He stood staring with theatric self-consciousness at himself in
the glass for several minutes, then sat down before the bureau
and pulled out the third drawer--where he kept collars, ties,
handkerchiefs, gloves and a pistol concealed under the
handkerchiefs. With the awful solemnity of the youth who takes
himself--and the theater--seriously he lifted the pistol, eyed
it critically, turning it this way and that as if interested in
the reflections of light from the bright cylinder and barrel at
different angles. He laid it noiselessly back, covered it over
with the handkerchiefs, sat with his fingers resting on the edge
of the drawer. Presently he moved uneasily, as a man--on the
stage or in its amusing imitation called civilized life among
the self-conscious classes--moves when he feels that someone is
behind him in a "crucial moment."
He slowly turned round. She had shifted her position so that her
face was now toward him. But her eyes were closed and her face
was tranquil. Still, he hoped she had seen the little episode of
the pistol, which he thought fine and impressive. With his arm
on the back of the chair and supporting that resolute-looking
chin of his, he stared at her face from under his thick
eyebrows, so thick that although they were almost as fair as his
hair they seemed dark. After a while her eyelids fluttered and
lifted to disclose eyes that startled him, so intense, so
sleepless were they.
"Kiss me," she said, in her usual sweet, tender way--a little
shyness, much of passion's sparkle and allure. "Kiss me."
"I've often thought," said he, "what would I do if I should go
smash, reach the end of my string? Would I kill you before
taking myself off? Or would that be cowardly?"
She had not a doubt that he meant this melodramatic twaddle. It
did not seem twaddle or melodramatic to her--or, for that
matter, to him. She clasped him more closely. "What's the
matter, dear?" she asked, her head on his breast.
"Oh, I've had a row at the _Herald_, and have quit. But I'll get
another place tomorrow."
"Of course. I wish you'd fix up that play the way Drumley suggested."
"Maybe I shall. We'll see."
"Anything else wrong?"
"Only the same old trouble. I love you too much. Too damn much,"
he added in a tone not intended for her ears. "Weak fool--that's
what I am. Weak fool. I've got _you_, anyhow. Haven't I?"
"Yes," she said. "I'd do anything for you--anything."
"As long as I keep my eyes on you," said he, half mockingly.
"I'm weak, but you're weaker. Aren't you?"
"I guess so. I don't know." And she drew a long breath, nestled
into his arms, and upon his breast, with her perfumed hair
drowsing his senses.
He soon slept; when he awoke, toward noon, he did not disturb
her. He shaved and bathed and dressed, and was about to go out
when she called him. "Oh, I thought you were asleep," said he.
"I can't wait for you to get breakfast. I must get a move on."
"No, indeed." But his face was not convincing. "So long, pet."
"Aren't you going to kiss me good-by?"
He laughed tenderly, yet in bitter self-mockery too. "And waste
an hour or so? Not much. What a siren you are!"
She put her hand over her face quickly.
"Now, perhaps I can risk one kiss." He bent over her; his lips
touched her hair. She stretched out her hand, laid it against
his cheek. "Dearest," she murmured.
"I must go."
"Just a minute. No, don't look at me. Turn your face so that I
can see your profile--so!" She had turned his head with a hand
that gently caressed as it pushed. "I like that view best. Yes,
you are strong and brave. You will succeed! No--I'll not keep
you a minute." She kissed his hand, rested her head for an
instant on his lap as he sat on the edge of the bed, suddenly
flung herself to the far side of the bed, with her face toward
"Go to sleep again, lazy!" cried he. "I'll try to be home about
dinner-time. See that you behave today! Good lord, how hard it
is to leave you! Having you makes nothing else seem worth while.
And he was off. She started to a sitting posture, listened to
the faint sound of his descending footsteps. She darted to the
window, leaned out, watched him until he rounded the corner into
Broadway. Then she dropped down with elbows on the window sill
and hands pressing her cheeks; she stared unseeingly at the
opposite house, at a gilt cage with a canary hopping and
chirping within. And once more she thought all the thoughts that
had filled her mind in the sleepless hours of that night and
morning. Her eyes shifted in color from pure gray to pure
violet--back and forth, as emotion or thought dominated her
mind. She made herself coffee in the French machine, heated the
milk she brought every day from the dairy, drank her _cafe au
lait_ slowly, reading the newspaper advertisements for "help
wanted--female"--a habit she had formed when she first came to
New York and had never altogether dropped. When she finished
her coffee she took the scissors and cut out several of the
demands for help.
She bathed and dressed. She moved through the routine of
life--precisely as we all do, whatever may be in our minds and
hearts. She went out, crossed Long Acre and entered the shop of
a dealer in women's cast-off clothes. She reappeared in the
street presently with a fat, sloppy looking woman in black. She
took her to the rooms, offered for sale her entire wardrobe
except the dress she had on and one other, the simply trimmed
sailor upon her head, the ties on her feet and one pair of boots
and a few small articles. After long haggling the woman made a
final price--ninety-five dollars for things, most of them almost
new, which had cost upwards of seven hundred. Susan accepted the
offer; she knew she could do no better. The woman departed,
returned with a porter and several huge sweets of wrapping
paper. The two made three bundles of the purchases; the money
was paid over; they and Susan's wardrobe departed.
Next, Susan packed in the traveling bag she had brought from
Cincinnati the between seasons dress of brown serge she had
withheld, and some such collection of bare necessities as she
had taken with her when she left George Warham's. Into the bag
she put the pistol from under Spenser's handkerchiefs in the
third bureau drawer. When all was ready, she sent for the maid
to straighten the rooms. While the maid was at work, she wrote
DEAREST--Mr. Drumley will tell you why I have gone. You will
find some money under your handkerchiefs in the bureau. When you
are on your feet again, I may come--if you want me. It won't be
any use for you to look for me. I ought to have gone before, but
I was selfish and blind. Good-by, dear love--I wasn't so bad as
you always suspected. I was true to you, and for the sake of
what you have been to me and done for me I couldn't be so
ungrateful as not to go. Don't worry about me. I shall get on.
And so will you. It's best for us both. Good-by, dear heart--I
was true to you. Good-by.
She sealed this note, addressed it, fastened it over the mantel
in the sitting-room where they always put notes for each other.
And after she had looked in each drawer and in the closet at all
his clothing, and had kissed the pillow on which his head had
lain, she took her bag and went. She had left for him the
ninety-five dollars and also eleven dollars of the money she had
in her purse. She took with her two five-dollar bills and a
dollar and forty cents in change.
The violet waned in her eyes, and in its stead came the gray of
thought and action.
********THE END OF VOLUME I*******
SUSAN LENOX: HER RISE AND FALL
David Graham Phillips
WITH A PORTRAIT
OF THE AUTHOR
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
NEW YORK LONDON
COPYRIGHT 1917, BY
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
COPYRIGHT, 1915,1916, BY THE INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINE COMPANY
Printed in the United States of America
SUSAN'S impulse was toward the stage. It had become a
definite ambition with her, the stronger because Spenser's
jealousy and suspicion had forced her to keep it a secret, to
pretend to herself that she had no thought but going on
indefinitely as his obedient and devoted mistress. The
hardiest and best growths are the growths inward--where they
have sun and air from without. She had been at the theater
several times every week, and had studied the performances at
a point of view very different from that of the audience. It
was there to be amused; she was there to learn. Spenser and
such of his friends as he would let meet her talked plays and
acting most of the time. He had forbidden her to have women
friends. "Men don't demoralize women; women demoralize each
other," was one of his axioms. But such women as she had a
bowing acquaintance with were all on the stage--in comic
operas or musical farces. She was much alone; that meant many
hours every day which could not but be spent by a mind like
hers in reading and in thinking. Only those who have observed
the difference aloneness makes in mental development, where
there is a good mind, can appreciate how rapidly, how broadly,
Susan expanded. She read plays more than any other kind of
literature. She did not read them casually but was always
thinking how they would act. She was soon making in
imagination stage scenes out of dramatic chapters in novels as
she read. More and more clearly the characters of play and
novel took shape and substance before the eyes of her fancy.
But the stage was clearly out of the question.
While the idea of a stage career had been dominant, she had
thought in other directions, also. Every Sunday, indeed almost
every day, she found in the newspapers articles on the subject
of work for women.
"Why do you waste time on that stuff?" said Drumley, when he
discovered her taste for it.
"Oh, a woman never can tell what may happen," replied she.
"She'll never learn anything from those fool articles,"
answered he. "You ought to hear the people who get them up
laughing about them. I see now why they are printed. It's good
for circulation, catches the women--even women like you."
However, she persisted in reading. But never did she find an
article that contained a really practical suggestion--that is,
one applying to the case of a woman who had to live on what
she made at the start, who was without experience and without
a family to help her. All around her had been women who were
making their way; but few indeed of them--even of those
regarded as successful--were getting along without outside aid
of some kind. So when she read or thought or inquired about
work for women, she was sometimes amused and oftener made
unhappy by the truth as to the conditions, that when a common
worker rises it is almost always by the helping hand of a man,
and rarely indeed a generous hand--a painful and shameful
truth which a society resolved at any cost to think well of
itself fiercely conceals from itself and hypocritically lies about.
She felt now that there was hope in only one direction--hope
of occupation that would enable her to live in physical, moral
and mental decency. She must find some employment where she
could as decently as might be realize upon her physical
assets. The stage would be best--but the stage was impossible,
at least for the time. Later on she would try for it; there
was in her mind not a doubt of that, for unsuspected of any
who knew her there lay, beneath her sweet and gentle exterior,
beneath her appearance of having been created especially for
love and laughter and sympathy, tenacity of purpose and daring
of ambition that were--rarely--hinted at the surface in her
moments of abstraction. However, just now the stage was
impossible. Spenser would find her immediately. She must go
into another part of town, must work at something that touched
his life at no point.
She had often been told that her figure would be one of her
chief assets as a player. And ready-made clothes fitted her
with very slight alterations--showing that she had a model
figure. The advertisements she had cut out were for cloak
models. Within an hour after she left Forty-fourth Street, she
found at Jeffries and Jonas, in Broadway a few doors below
Houston, a vacancy that had not yet been filled--though as a
rule all the help needed was got from the throng of applicants
waiting when the store opened.
"Come up to my office," said Jeffries, who happened to be near
the door as she entered. "We'll see how you shape up. We want
something extra--something dainty and catchy."
He was a short thick man, with flat feet, a flat face and an
almost bald head. In his flat nostrils, in the hollows of his
great forward bent ears and on the lobes were bunches of
coarse, stiff gray hairs. His eyebrows bristled; his small,
sly brown eyes twinkled with good nature and with sensuality.
His skin had the pallor that suggests kidney trouble. His
words issued from his thick mouth as if he were tasting each
beforehand--and liked the flavor. He led Susan into his private
office, closed the door, took a tape measure from his desk.
"Now, my dear," said he, eyeing her form gluttonously, "we'll
size you up--eh? You're exactly the build I like."
And under the pretense of taking her measurements, he fumbled
and felt, pinched and stroked every part of her person,
laughing and chuckling the while. "My, but you are sweet! And
so firm! What flesh! Solid--solid! Mighty healthy! You are a
"I am a married woman."
"But you've got no ring."
"I've never worn a ring."
"Well--well! I believe that is one of the new wrinkles, but I
don't approve. I'm an old-fashioned family man. Let me see
again. Now, don't mind a poor old man like me, my dear. I've
got a wife--the best woman in the world, and I've never been
untrue to her. A look over the fence occasionally--but not an
inch out of the pasture. Don't stiffen yourself like that. I
can't judge, when you do. Not too much hips--neither sides nor
back. Fine! Fine! And the thigh slender--yes--quite lovely, my
dear. Thick thighs spoil the hang of garments. Yes--yes--a
splendid figure. I'll bet the bosom is a corker--fine skin and
nice ladylike size. You can have the place."
"What does it pay?" she asked.
"Ten dollars, to start with. Splendid wages. __I__ started on
two fifty. But I forgot--you don't know the business?"
"No--nothing about it," was her innocent, honest answer.
"Ah--well, then--nine dollars--eh?"
"You can make quite a neat little bunch on the outside--_you_
can. We cater only to the best trade, and the buyers who come
to us are big easy spenders. But I'm supposed to know nothing
about that. You'll find out from the other girls." He
chuckled. "Oh, it's a nice soft life except for a few weeks
along at this part of the year--and again in winter. Well--ten
Susan accepted. It was more than she had expected to get; it
was less than she could hope to live on in New York in
anything approaching the manner a person of any refinement or
tastes or customs of comfort regards as merely decent. She
must descend again to the tenements, must resume the fight
against that physical degradation which sooner or later
imposes--upon those _descending_ to it--a degradation of mind
and heart deeper, more saturating, more putrefying than any
that ever originated from within. Not so long as her figure
lasted was she the worse off for not knowing a trade. Jeffries
was telling the truth; she would be getting splendid wages,
not merely for a beginner but for any woman of the working
class. Except in rare occasional instances wages and salaries
for women were kept down below the standard of decency by
woman's peculiar position--by such conditions as that most
women took up work as a temporary makeshift or to piece out a
family's earnings, and that almost any woman could
supplement--and so many did supplement--their earnings at
labor with as large or larger earnings in the stealthy
shameful way. Where was there a trade that would bring a girl
ten dollars a week at the start? Even if she were a
semi-professional, a stenographer and typewriter, it would
take expertness and long service to lift her up to such wages.
Thanks to her figure--to its chancing to please old Jeffries'
taste--she was better off than all but a few working women,
than all but a few workingmen. She was of the labor aristocracy;
and if she had been one of a family of workers she would
have been counted an enviable favorite of fortune. Unfortunately,
she was alone unfortunately for herself, not at all from the
standpoint of the tenement class she was now joining. Among them
she would be a person who could afford the luxuries of life as
life reveals itself to the tenements.
"Tomorrow morning at seven o'clock," said Jeffries. "You have
lost your husband?"
"I saw you'd had great grief. No insurance, I judge? Well--you
will find another--maybe a rich one. No--you'll not have to
sleep alone long, my dear." And he patted her on the shoulder,
gave her a parting fumble of shoulders and arms.
She was able to muster a grateful smile; for she felt a rare
kindness of heart under the familiar animalism to which
good-looking, well-formed women who go about much unescorted
soon grow accustomed. Also, experience had taught her that, as
things go with girls of the working class, his treatment was
courteous, considerate, chivalrous almost. With men in
absolute control of all kinds of work, with women stimulating
the sex appetite by openly or covertly using their charms as
female to assist them in the cruel struggle for
existence--what was to be expected?
Her way to the elevator took her along aisles lined with
tables, hidden under masses of cloaks, jackets, dresses and
materials for making them. They exuded the odors of the
factory--faint yet pungent odors that brought up before her
visions of huge, badly ventilated rooms, where women aged or
ageing swiftly were toiling hour after hour
monotonously--spending half of each day in buying the right to
eat and sleep unhealthily. The odors--or, rather, the visions
they evoked--made her sick at heart. For the moment she came
from under the spell of her peculiar trait--her power to do
without whimper or vain gesture of revolt the inevitable
thing, whatever it was. She paused to steady herself, half
leaning against a lofty uppiling of winter cloaks. A girl,
young at first glance, not nearly so young thereafter,
suddenly appeared before her--a girl whose hair had the sheen
of burnished brass and whose soft smooth skin was of that
frog-belly whiteness which suggests an inheritance of some
bleaching and blistering disease. She had small regular
features, eyes that at once suggested looseness, good-natured
yet mercenary too. She was dressed in the sleek tight-fitting
trying-on robe of the professional model, and her figure was
superb in its firm luxuriousness.
"Sick?" asked the girl with real kindliness.
"No--only dizzy for the moment."
"I suppose you've had a hard day."
"It might have been easier," Susan replied, attempting a smile.
"It's no fun, looking for a job. But you've caught on?"
"Yes. He took me."
"I made a bet with myself that he would when I saw you go in."
The girl laughed agreeably. "He picked you for Gideon."
"What department is that?"
The girl laughed again, with a cynical squinting of the eyes.
"Oh, Gideon's our biggest customer. He buys for the largest
house in Chicago."
"I'm looking for a place to live," said Susan. "Some place in
this part of town."
"How much do you want to spend?"
"I'm to have ten a week. So I can't afford more than twelve or
fourteen a month for rent, can I?"
"If you happen to have to live on the ten," was the reply with
a sly, merry smile.
"It's all I've got."
Again the girl laughed, the good-humored mercenary eyes twinkling
rakishly. "Well--you can't get much for fourteen a month."
"I don't care, so long as it's clean."
"Gee, you're reasonable, ain't you?" cried the girl. "Clean!
I pay fourteen a week, and all kinds of things come through
the cracks from the other apartments. You must be a stranger
to little old New York--bugtown, a lady friend of mine calls
"Um--" The girl shook her head dubiously. "Rents are mighty
steep in New York, and going up all the time. You see, the
rich people that own the lands and houses here need a lot of
money in their business. You've got either to take a room or
part of one in with some tenement family, respectable but
noisy and dirty and not at all refined, or else you've got to
live in a house where everything goes. You want to live
respectable, I judge?"
"That's the way with me. Do what you please, __I__ say, but for
_God's sake_, don't make yourself _common!_ You'll want to be
free to have your gentlemen friends come--and at the same time
a room you'll not be ashamed for 'em to see on account of dirt
and smells and common people around."
"I shan't want to see anyone in my room."
The young woman winced, then went on with hasty enthusiasm.
"I knew you were refined the minute I looked at you. I think
you might get a room in the house of a lady friend of mine--
Mrs. Tucker, up in Clinton Place near University Place--an
elegant neighborhood--that is, the north side of the street.
The south side's kind o' low, on account of dagoes having
moved in there. They live like vermin--but then all tenement
"They've got to," said Susan.
"Yes, that's a fact. Ain't it awful? I'll write down the name
and address of my lady friend. I'm Miss Mary Hinkle."
"My name is Lorna Sackville," said Susan, in response to the
expectant look of Miss Hinkle.
"My, what a swell name! You've been sick, haven't you?"
"No, I'm never sick."
"Me too. My mother taught me to stop eating as soon as I felt
bad, and not to eat again till I was all right."
"I do that, too," said Susan. "Is it good for the health?"
"It starves the doctors. You've never worked before?"
"Oh, yes--I've worked in a factory."
Miss Hinkle looked disappointed. Then she gave Susan a side
glance of incredulity. "I'd never, a' thought it. But I can
see you weren't brought up to that. I'll write the address."
And she went back through the showroom, presently to reappear
with a card which she gave Susan. "You'll find Mrs. Tucker a
perfect lady--too much a lady to get on. I tell her she'll go
to ruin--and she will."
Susan thanked Miss Hinkle and departed. A few minutes' walk
brought her to the old, high-stooped, brown-stone where Mrs.
Tucker lived. The dents, scratches and old paint scales on the
door, the dust-streaked windows, the slovenly hang of the
imitation lace window curtains proclaimed the cheap
middle-class lodging or boarding house of the humblest grade.
Respectable undoubtedly; for the fitfully prosperous
offenders against laws and morals insist upon better
accommodations. Susan's heart sank. She saw that once more she
was clinging at the edge of the precipice. And what hope was
there that she would get back to firm ground? Certainly not by
"honest labor." Back to the tenement! "Yes, I'm on the way
back," she said to herself. However, she pulled the loose
bell-knob and was admitted to a dingy, dusty hallway by a maid
so redolent of stale perspiration that it was noticeable even
in the hall's strong saturation of smells of cheap cookery.
The parlor furniture was rapidly going to pieces; the chromos
and prints hung crazily awry; dust lay thick upon the center
table, upon the chimney-piece, upon the picture frames, upon
the carving in the rickety old chairs. Only by standing did
Susan avoid service as a dust rag. It was typical of the
profound discouragement that blights or blasts all but a small
area of our modern civilization--a discouragement due in part
to ignorance--but not at all to the cause usually assigned--to
"natural shiftlessness." It is chiefly due to an unconscious
instinctive feeling of the hopelessness of the average lot.
While Susan explained to Mrs. Tucker how she had come and what
she could afford, she examined her with results far from
disagreeable. One glance into that homely wrinkled face was
enough to convince anyone of her goodness of heart--and to
Susan in those days of aloneness, of uncertainty, of the
feeling of hopelessness, goodness of heart seemed the supreme
charm. Such a woman as a landlady, and a landlady in New York,
was pathetically absurd. Even to still rather simple-minded
Susan she seemed an invitation to the swindler, to the sponger
with the hard-luck story, to the sinking who clutch about
desperately and drag down with them everyone who permits them
to get a hold.
"I've only got one room," said Mrs. Tucker. "That's not any
too nice. I did rather calculate to get five a week for it,
but you are the kind I like to have in the house. So if you
want it I'll let it to you for fourteen a month. And I do hope
you'll pay as steady as you can. There's so many in such hard
lines that I have a tough time with my rent. I've got to pay
my rent, you know."
"I'll go as soon as I can't pay," replied Susan. The
landlady's apologetic tone made her sick at heart, as a
sensitive human being must ever feel in the presence of a
fellow-being doomed to disaster.
"Thank you," said Mrs. Tucker gratefully. "I do wish----" She
checked herself. "No, I don't mean that. They do the best they
can--and I'll botch along somehow. I look at the bright side
The incurable optimism of the smile accompanying these words
moved Susan, abnormally bruised and tender of heart that
morning, almost to tears. A woman with her own way to make,
and always looking at the bright side!
"How long have you had this house?"
"Only five months. My husband died a year ago. I had to give
up our little business six months after his death. Such a nice
little stationery store, but I couldn't seem to refuse credit
or to collect bills. Then I came here. This looks like losing,
too. But I'm sure I'll come out all right. The Lord will
provide, as the Good Book says. I don't have no trouble
keeping the house full. Only they don't seem to pay. You want
to see your room?"
She and Susan ascended three flights to the top story--to a
closet of a room at the back. The walls were newly and
brightly papered. The sloping roof of the house made one wall
a ceiling also, and in this two small windows were set. The
furniture was a tiny bed, white and clean as to its linen, a
table, two chairs, a small washstand with a little bowl and a
less pitcher, a soap dish and a mug. Along one wall ran a row
of hooks. On the floor was an old and incredibly dirty carpet,
mitigated by a strip of clean matting which ran from the door,
between washstand and bed, to one of the windows.
Susan glanced round--a glance was enough to enable her to see
all--all that was there, all that the things there implied.
Back to the tenement life! She shuddered.
"It ain't much," said Mrs. Tucker. "But usually rooms like