Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Dust by David Graham Phillips

Part 2 out of 8

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.8 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

"It's a good idea, to make her jealous," pursued
his sister. "Nothing like jealousy to stimulate interest."

"Josephine is not that sort of woman."

"You know better. All women are that sort. All
men, too. Of course, some men and women grow angry
and go away when they get jealous while others stick
closer. So one has to be judicious."

"Josephine and I understand each other far too
well for such pettiness."

"Try her. No, you needn't. You have."

"Didn't I tell you----"

"Then what was she questioning you about?"

"Just to show you how wrong you were, I'll tell
you. She was asking me about a poor little girl down
at the office--one she wants to help."

Ursula laughed. "To help out of your office, I
guess. I thought you'd lived long enough, Fred, to
learn that no woman trusts ANY man about ANY woman.
Who is this `poor little girl'?"

"I don't even know her name. One of the typewriters."

"What made Josephine jealous of her?"

"Haven't I told you Josephine was not----"

"But I saw. Who is this girl?--pretty?"

Norman pretended to stifle a yawn. "Josephine
bored me half to death talking about her. Now it's
you. I never heard so much about so little."

"Is there something up between you and the girl?"
teased Ursula.

"Now, that's an outrage!" cried Norman. "She's
got nothing but her reputation, poor child. Do leave
her that."

"Is she very young?"

"How should I know?"

"Youth is a charm in itself."

"What sort of rot is this!" exclaimed he. "Do
you think I'd drop down to anything of that kind--in
ANY circumstances? A little working girl--and in my
own office?"

"Why do you heat so, Fred?" teased the sister.
"Really, I don't wonder Josephine was torn up."

An auto almost ran into them--one of those
innumerable hairbreadth escapes that make the streets
of New York as exciting as a battle--and as dangerous.
For a few minutes Ursula's mind was deflected. But a
fatality seemed to pursue the subject of the pale
obscurity whose very name he was uncertain whether he
remembered aright.

Said Ursula, as they entered the house, "A girl
working in the office with a man has a magnificent chance
at him. It's lucky for the men that women don't know
their business, but are amateurs and too stuck on
themselves to set and bait their traps properly. Is that
girl trying to get round you?"

"What possesses everybody to-night!" cried Norman.
"I tell you the girl 's as uninteresting a specimen
as you could find."

"Then why are YOU so interested in her?" teased
the sister.

Norman shrugged his shoulders, laughed with his
normal easy good humor and went to his own floor.

On top of the pile of letters beside his plate, next
morning, lay a note from Josephine:

"Don't forget your promise about that girl, dear.
I've an hour before lunch, and could see her then. I
was out of humor last night. I'm very penitent this
morning. Please forgive me. Maybe I can do something
for her.

Norman read with amused eyes. "Well!" soliloquized
he, "I'm not likely to forget that poor little
creature again. What a fuss about nothing!"


MANY men, possibly a majority, have sufficient
equipment for at least a fair measure of success. Yet
all but a few are downright failures, passing their lives
in helpless dependence, glad to sell themselves for a
small part of the value they create. For this there are
two main reasons. The first is, as Norman said, that
only a few men have the self-restraint to resist the
temptings of a small pleasure to-day in order to gain
a larger to-morrow or next day. The second is that
few men possess the power of continuous concentration.
Most of us cannot concentrate at all; any slight
distraction suffices to disrupt and destroy the whole train
of thought. A good many can concentrate for a few
hours, for a week or so, for two or three months. But
there comes a small achievement and it satisfies, or a
small discouragement and it disheartens. Only to the
rare few is given the power to concentrate steadily,
year in and year out, through good and evil event or

As Norman stepped into his auto to go to the office
--he had ridden a horse in the park before breakfast
until its hide was streaked with lather--the instant he
entered his auto, he discharged his mind of everything
but the business before him down town--or, rather,
business filled his mind so completely that everything else
poured out and away. A really fine mind--a perfect
or approximately perfect instrument to the purposes of
its possessor--is a marvelous spectacle of order. It is
like a vast public library constantly used by large
numbers. There are alcoves, rows on rows, shelves on
shelves, with the exactest system everywhere prevailing,
with the attendants moving about in list-bottomed shoes,
fulfilling without the least hesitation or mistake the
multitude of directions from the central desk. It is
like an admirably drilled army, where there is the nice
balance of freedom and discipline that gives mobility
without confusion; the divisions, down to files and even
units, can be disposed along the line of battle wherever
needed, or can be marshaled in reserve for use at the
proper moment. Such a mind may be used for good
purpose or bad--or for mixed purposes, after the usual
fashion in human action. But whatever the service to
which it is put, it acts with equal energy and precision.
Character--that is a thing apart. The character determines
the morality of action; but only the intellect
determines the skill of action.

In the offices of that great law firm one of the
keenest pleasures of the more intelligent of the staff was
watching the workings of Frederick Norman's mind--
its ease of movement, its quickness and accuracy, its
obedience to the code of mental habits he had fixed for
himself. In large part all this was born with the man;
but it had been brought to a state of perfection by the
most painful labor, by the severest discipline, by years
of practice of the sacrifice of small temptations--
temptations to waste time and strength on the little pleasant
things which result in such heavy bills--bills that
bankrupt a man in middle life and send him in old age into
the deserts of poverty and contempt.

Such an unique and trivial request as that of
Josephine Burroughs being wholly out of his mental
habit for down town, he forgot it along with everything
else having to do with uptown only--along with
Josephine herself, to tell a truth which may pique the
woman reader and may be wholly misunderstood by
the sentimentalists. By merest accident he was reminded.

As the door of his private office opened to admit
an important client he happened to glance up. And
between the edge of the door frame and his client's
automobile-fattened and carefully dressed body, he
caught a glimpse of the "poor little forlornness" who
chanced to be crossing the outer office. A glint of
sunlight on her hair changed it from lifelessness to golden
vital vividness; the same chance sunbeam touched her
pale skin with a soft yellow radiation--and her profile
was delicately fine and regular. Thus Norman, who ob-
served everything, saw a head of finely wrought gold--
a startling cameo against the dead white of office wall.
It was only with the second thought that he recognized
her. The episode of the night before came back and
Josephine's penitent yet persistent note.

He glanced at the clock. Said the client in the
amusing tone of one who would like to take offense if
he only dared, "I'll not detain you long, Mr. Norman.
And really the matter is extremely important."

There are not many lawyers, even of the first rank,
with whom their big clients reverse the attitude of servant
and master. Norman might well have been flattered.
In that restrained tone from one used to servility and
fond of it and easily miffed by lack of it was the whole
story of Norman's long battle and splendid victory.
But he was not in the mood to be flattered; he was
thinking of other things. And it presently annoyed him
that his usually docile mind refused to obey his will's
order to concentrate on the client and the business--
said business being one of those huge schemes through
which a big monster of a corporation is constructed by
lawyers out of materials supplied by great capitalists
and controllers of capital, is set to eating in enormous
meals the substance of the people; at some obscure point
in all the principal veins small but leechlike parasite
corporations are attached, industriously to suck away
the surplus blood so that the owners of the beast may
say, "It is eating almost nothing. See how lean it is,
poor thing! Why, the bones fairly poke through its
meager hide."

An interesting and highly complicated enterprise is
such a construction. It was of the kind in which
Norman's mind especially delighted; Hercules is himself only
in presence of an herculean labor. But on that day he
could not concentrate, and because of a trifle! He felt
like a giant disabled by a grain of dust in the eye--
yes, a mere grain of dust!" I must love Josephine
even more than I realize, to be fretted by such a paltry
thing," thought he. And after patiently enduring the
client for half an hour without being able to grasp the
outlines of the project, he rose abruptly and said: "I
must get into my mind the points you've given me
before we can go further. So I'll not waste your

This sounded very like "Clear out--you've bored
me to my limit of endurance." But the motions of a
mind such as he knew Norman had were beyond and
high above the client's mere cunning at dollar-trapping.
He felt that it was the part of wisdom--also soothing
to vanity--to assume that Norman meant only what
his words conveyed. When Norman was alone he rang
for an office boy and said:

"Please ask Miss Halliday to come here."

The boy hesitated. "Miss Hallowell?" he suggested.

"Hallowell--thanks--Hallowell," said Norman.

And it somehow pleased him that he had not
remembered her name. How significant it was of her
insignificance that so accurate a memory as his should
make the slip. When she, impassive, colorless, nebulous,
stood before him the feeling of pleasure was, queerly
enough, mingled with a sense of humiliation. What
absurd vagaries his imagination had indulged in! For
it must have been sheer hallucination, his seeing those
wonders in her. How he would be laughed at if those
pictures he had made of her could be seen by any other
eyes!" They must be right when they say a man in
love is touched in the head. Only, why the devil should
I have happened to get these crazy notions about a
person I've no interest in?" However, the main point
--and most satisfactory--was that Josephine would be
at a glance convinced--convicted--made ashamed of her
absurd attack. A mere grain of dust.

"Just a moment, please," he said to Miss Hallowell.
"I want to give you a note of introduction."

He wrote the note to Josephine Burroughs: "Here
she is. I've told her you wish to talk with her about
doing some work for you." When he finished he looked
up. She was standing at the window, gazing out upon
the tremendous panorama of skyscrapers that makes
New York the most astounding of the cities of men. He
was about to speak. The words fell back unuttered.
For once more the hallucination--or whatever it was--
laid hold of him. That figure by the window--that
beautiful girl, with the great dreamy eyes and the soft
and languorous nuances of golden haze over her hair,
over the skin of perfectly rounded cheek and perfectly
moulded chin curving with ideal grace into the whitest
and firmest of throats----

"Am I mad? or do I really see what I see?" he

He turned away to clear his eyes for a second view,
for an attempt to settle it whether he saw or imagined.
When he looked again, she was observing him--and once
more she was the obscure, the cipherlike Miss Hallowell,
ten-dollar-a-week typewriter and not worth it.
Evidently she noted his confusion and was vaguely alarmed
by it. He recovered himself as best he could and debated
whether it was wise to send her to Josephine. Surely
those transformations were not altogether his own
hallucinations; and Josephine might see, might humiliate
him by suspecting more strongly-- . . . Ridiculous!
He held out the letter.

"The lady to whom this is addressed wishes to see
you. Will you go there, right away, please? It may
be that you'll get the chance to make some extra
money. You've no objection, I suppose?"

She took the letter hesitatingly.

"You will find her agreeable, I think," continued
he. "At any rate, the trip can do no harm."

She hesitated a moment longer, as if weighing what
he had said. "No, it will do no harm," she finally said.
Then, with a delightful color and a quick transformation
into a vision of young shyness, "Thank you, Mr.
Norman. Thank you so much."

"Not at all--not in the least," he stammered, the
impulse strong to take the note back and ask her to
return to her desk.

When the door closed behind her he rose and paced
about the room uneasily. He was filled with disquiet,
with hazy apprehension. His nerves were unsteady, as
if he were going through an exhausting strain. He sat
and tried to force himself to work. Impossible. "What
sort of damn fool attack is this?" he exclaimed, pacing
about again. He searched his mind in vain for any
cause adequate to explain his unprecedented state. "If
I did not know that I was well--absolutely well--I'd
think I was about to have an illness--something in the

He appealed to that friend in any trying hour, his
sense of humor. He laughed at himself; but his nerves
refused to return to the normal. He rushed from his
private office on various pretexts, each time lingered in
the general room, talking aimlessly with Tetlow--and
watching the door. When she at last appeared, he
guiltily withdrew, feeling that everyone was observing
his perturbation and was wondering at it and jesting
about it. "And what the devil am I excited about?"
he demanded of himself. What indeed? He seated himself,
rang the bell.

"If Miss Hallowell has got back," he said to the
office boy, "please ask her to come in."

"I think she's gone out to lunch," said the boy. "I
know she came in a while ago. She passed along as you
was talking to Mr. Tetlow."

Norman felt himself flushing. "Any time will do,"
he said, bending over the papers spread out before him
--the papers in the case of the General Traction Company
resisting the payment of its taxes. A noisome
odor seemed to be rising from the typewritten sheets.
He made a wry face and flung the papers aside with a
gesture of disgust. "They never do anything honest,"
he said to himself. "From the stock-jobbing owners
down to the nickel-filching conductors they steal--steal
--steal!" And then he wondered at, laughed at, his
heat. What did it matter? An ant pilfering from
another ant and a sparrow stealing the crumb found
by another sparrow--a man robbing another man--
all part of the universal scheme. Only a narrow-minded
ignoramus would get himself wrought up over it; a
philosopher would laugh--and take what he needed or
happened to fancy.

The door opened. Miss Hallowell entered, a small
and demure hat upon her masses of thick fair hair
arranged by anything but unskillful fingers. "You
wished to see me?" came in the quiet little voice, sweet
and frank and shy.

He roused himself from pretended abstraction.

"Oh--it's you?" he said pleasantly. "They said you
were out."

"I was going to lunch. But if you've anything for
me to do, I'll be glad to stay."

"No--no. I simply wished to say that if Miss
Burroughs wished to make an arrangement with you, we'd
help you about carrying out your part of it."

She was pale--so pale that it brought out strongly
the smooth dead-white purity of her skin. Her small
features wore an expression of pride, of haughtiness
even. And in the eyes that regarded him steadily there
shone a cold light--the light of a proud and lonely soul
that repels intrusion even as the Polar fastnesses push
back without effort assault upon their solitudes. "We
made no arrangement," said she.

"You are not more than eighteen, are you?"
inquired he abruptly.

The irrelevant question startled her. She looked as
if she thought she had not heard aright. "I am
twenty," she said.

"You have a most--most unusual way of shifting
to various ages and personalities," explained he, with
some embarrassment.

She simply looked at him and waited.

His embarrassment increased. It was a novel
sensation to him, this feeling ill at ease with a woman--
he who was at ease with everyone and put others at their
ease or not as he pleased. "I'm sorry you and Miss
Burroughs didn't arrange something. I suppose she
found the hours difficult."

"She made me an offer," replied the girl. "I
refused it."

"But, as I told you, we can let you off--anything
within reason."

"Thank you, but I do not care to do that kind of
work. No doubt any kind of work for wages classes
one as a servant. But those people up there--they make
one FEEL it--feel menial."

"Not Miss Burroughs, I assure you."

A satirical smile hovered round the girl's lips. Her
face was altogether lovely now, and no lily ever rose
more gracefully from its stem than did her small head
from her slender form. "She meant to be kind, but
she was insulting. Those people up there don't
understand. They're vain and narrow. Oh, I don't blame
them. Only, I don't care to be brought into contact
with them."

He looked at her in wonder. She talked of Josephine
as if she were Josephine's superior, and her expression
and accent were such that they contrived to convey an
impression that she had the right to do it. He grew
suddenly angry at her, at himself for listening to her.
"I am sorry," he said stiffly, and took up a pen to
indicate that he wished her to go.

He rather expected that she would be alarmed. But
if she was, she wholly concealed it. She smiled slightly
and moved toward the door. Looking after her, he
relented. She seemed so young--was so young--and
was evidently poor. He said:

"It's all right to be proud, Miss Hallowell. But
there is such a thing as supersensitiveness. You are
earning your living. If you'll pardon me for thrusting
advice upon you, I think you've made a mistake.
I'm sure Miss Burroughs meant well. If you had been
less sensitive you'd soon have realized it."

"She patronized me," replied the girl, not angrily,
but with amusement. "It was all I could do not to
laugh in her face. The idea of a woman who probably
couldn't make five dollars a week fancying she was the
superior of any girl who makes her own living, no matter
how poor a living it is."

Norman laughed. It had often appealed to his own
sense of humor, the delusion that the tower one happened
to be standing upon was part of one's own stature. But
he said: "You're a very foolish young person. You'll
not get far in the world if you keep to that road. It
winds through Poverty Swamps to the Poor House."

"Oh, no," replied she. "One can always die."

Again he laughed. "But why die? Why not be
sensible and live?"

"I don't know," replied she. She was looking away
dreamily, and her eyes were wonderful to see. "There
are many things I feel and do--and I don't at all understand
why. But--" An expression of startling resolu-
tion flashed across her face. "But I do them, just the

A brief silence; then, as she again moved toward the
door, he said, "You have been working for some time?"

"Four years."

"You support yourself?"

"I work to help out father's income. He makes
almost enough, but not quite."

Almost enough! The phrase struck upon Norman's
fancy as both amusing and sad. Almost enough for
what? For keeping body and soul together; for keeping
body barely decently clad. Yet she was content.
He said:

"You like to work?"

"Not yet. But I think I shall when I learn this
business. One feels secure when one has a trade."

"It doesn't impress me as an interesting life for
a girl of your age," he suggested.

"Oh, I'm not unhappy. And at home, of evenings
and Sundays, I'm happy."

"Doing what?"

"Reading and talking with father and--doing the
housework--and all the rest of it."

What a monotonous narrow little life! He wanted
to pity her, but somehow he could not. There was no
suggestion in her manner that she was an object of
pity. "What did Miss Burroughs say to you--if I
may ask?"

"Certainly. You sent me, and I'm much obliged
to you. I realize it was an opportunity--for another
sort of girl. I half tried to accept because I knew
refusing was only my--queerness." She smiled charmingly.
"You are not offended because I couldn't make
myself take it?"

"Not in the least." And all at once he felt that
it was true. This girl would have been out of place in
service. "What was the offer?"

Suddenly before him there appeared a clever, willful
child, full of the childish passion for imitation and
mockery. And she proceeded to "take off" the grand
Miss Burroughs--enough like Josephine to give the
satire point and barb. He could see Josephine resolved
to be affable and equal, to make this doubtless bedazzled
stray from the "lower classes" feel comfortable in those
palatial surroundings. She imitated Josephine's walk,
her way of looking, her voice for the menials--gracious
and condescending. The exhibition was clever, free from
malice, redolent of humor. Norman laughed until the
tears rolled down his cheeks.

"You ought to go on the stage," said he. "How
Josephine--Miss Burroughs would appreciate it! For
she's got a keen sense of humor."

"Not for the real jokes--like herself," replied Miss

"You're prejudiced."

"No. I see her as she is. Probably everyone else
--those around her--see her money and her clothes and
all that. But I saw--just her."

He nodded thoughtfully. Then he looked penetratingly
at her. "How did you happen to learn to do
that?" he asked. "To see people as they are?"

"Father taught me." Her eyes lighted up, her
whole expression changed. She became beautiful with
the beauty of an intense and adoring love. "Father is
a wonderful man--one of the most wonderful that ever
lived. He----"

There was a knock at the door. She startled, he
looked confused. Both awakened to a sense of their
forgotten surroundings, of who and what they were. She
went and Mr. Sanders entered. But even in his confusion
Norman marveled at the vanishing of the fascinating
personality who had been captivating him into forgetting
everything else, at the reappearance of the
blank, the pale and insignificant personality attached
to a typewriting machine at ten dollars a week. No,
not insignificant, not blank--never again that, for him.
He saw now the full reality--and also why he, everyone,
was so misled. She made him think of the surface of
the sea when the sky is gray and the air calm. It lies
smooth and flat and expressionless--inert, monotonous.
But let sunbeam strike or breeze ever so faint start up,
and what a commotion of unending variety! He could
never look at her again without being reminded of those
infinite latent possibilities, without wondering what new
and perhaps more charming, more surprising varieties
of look and tone and manner could be evoked.

And while Sanders was talking--prosing on and on
about things Norman either already knew or did not
wish to know--he was thinking of her. "If she happens
to meet a man with enough discernment to fall in
love with her," he said to himself, "he certainly will
never weary. What a pity that such a girl shouldn't
have had a chance, should be wasted on some unappreciative
chucklehead of her class! What a pity she hasn't
ambition--or the quality, whatever it is--that makes
those who have it get on, whether they wish or no."

During the rest of the day he revolved from time
to time indistinct ideas of somehow giving this girl a
chance. He wished Josephine would and could help, or
perhaps his sister Ursula. It was not a matter that
could be settled, or even taken up, in haste. No man
of his mentality and experience fails to learn how perilous
it is in the least to interfere in the destiny of anyone.
And his notion involved not slight interference with
advice or suggestion or momentarily extended helping
hand, but radical change of the whole current of destiny.
Also, he appreciated how difficult it is for a man to do
anything for a young woman--anything that would not
harm more than it would help. Only one thing seemed
clear to him--the "clever child" ought to have a

He went to see Josephine after dinner that night
His own house, while richly and showily furnished, as
became his means and station, seemed--and indeed was
--merely an example of simple, old-fashioned "solid
comfort" in comparison with the Burroughs palace.
He had never liked, but, being a true New Yorker, had
greatly admired the splendor of that palace, its costly
art junk, its rotten old tapestries, its unlovely genuine
antiques, its room after room of tasteless magnificence,
suggesting a museum, or rather the combination home
and salesroom of an art dealer. This evening he found
himself curious, critical, disposed to license a long-
suppressed sense of humor. While he was waiting for
Josephine to come down to the small salon into which
he had been shown, her older sister drifted in, on the
way to a late dinner and ball. She eyed him admiringly
from head to foot.

"You've SUCH an air, Fred," said she. "You should
hear the butler on the subject of you. He says that
of all the men who come to the house you are most the
man of the world. He says he could tell it by the way
you walk in and take off your hat and coat and throw
them at him."

Norman laughed and said, "I didn't know. I must
stop that."

"Don't!" cried Mrs. Bellowes. "You'll break his
heart. He adores it. You know, servants dearly love
to be treated as servants. Anyone who thinks the world
loves equality knows very little about human nature.
Most people love to look up, just as most women love
to be ruled. No, you must continue to be the master,
the man of the world, Fred."

She was busy with her gorgeous and trailing wraps
and with her cigarette or she would have seen his
confusion. He was recalling his scene with the typewriter
girl. Not much of the man of the world, then and
there, certainly. What a grotesque performance for a
man of his position, for a serious man of any kind! And
how came he to permit such a person to mimic Josephine
Burroughs, a lady, the woman to whom he was engaged?
In these proud and pretentious surroundings he felt
contemptibly guilty--and dazed wonder at his own
inexplicable folly and weakness.

Mrs. Bellowes departed before Josephine came down.
So there was no relief for his embarrassment. He saw
that she too felt constrained. Instead of meeting him
half way in embrace and kiss, as she usually did, she
threw him a kiss and pretended to be busy lighting
a cigarette and arranging the shades of the table lamp.
"Well, I saw your `poor little creature,' " she began.
She was splendidly direct in all her dealings, after the
manner of people who have never had to make their own
way--to cajole or conciliate or dread the consequences
of frankness.

"I told you you'd not find her interesting."

"Oh, she was a nice little girl," replied Josephine
with elaborate graciousness--and Norman, the "take
off" fresh in his mind, was acutely critical of her
manner, of her mannerisms. "Of course," she went on,
"one does not expect much of people of that class. But
I thought her unusually well-mannered--and quite

"Tetlow makes 'em clean up," said Norman, a
gleam of sarcasm in his careless glance and tone. And
into his nostrils stole an odor of freshness and health
and youth, the pure, sweet odor that is the base of all
the natural perfumes. It startled him, his vivid memory
of a feature of her which he had not been until now
aware that he had ever noted.

"I offered her some work," continued Josephine,
"but I guess you keep her too busy down there for her
to do anything else."

"Probably," said Norman. "Why do you sit on
the other side of the room?"

"Oh, I don't know," laughed Josephine. "I feel
queer to-night. And it seems to me you're queer, too."

"I? Perhaps rather tired, dear--that's all."

"Did you and Miss Hallowell work hard to-day?"

"Oh, bother Miss Hallowell. Let's talk about ourselves."
And he drew her to the sofa at one end of the
big fireplace. "I wish we hadn't set the wedding so far
off." And suddenly he found himself wondering
whether that remark had been prompted by eagerness--
a lover's eagerness--or by impatience to have the
business over and settled.

"You don't act a bit natural to-night, Fred. You
touch me as if I were a stranger."

"I like that!" mocked he. "A stranger hold your
hand like this?--and--kiss you--like this?"

She drew away, suddenly laid her hands on his
shoulders, kissed him upon the lips passionately, then
looked into his eyes. "DO you love me, Fred?--REALLY?"

"Why so earnest?"

"You've had a great deal of experience?"

"More or less."

"Have you ever loved any woman as you love me?"

"I've never loved any woman but you. I never
before wanted to marry a woman."

"But you may be doing it because--well, you might
be tired and want to settle down."

"Do you believe that?"

"No, I don't. But I want to hear you say it isn't

"Well--it isn't so. Are you satisfied?"

"I'm frightfully jealous of you, Fred."

"What a waste of time!"

"I've got something to confess--something I'm
ashamed of."

"Don't confess," cried he, laughing but showing
that he meant it. "Just--don't be wicked again
That's much better than confession."

"But I must confess," insisted she. "I had evil

{illust. caption = " `Would you like to think I was marrying you
what you have?--or for any other reason whatever but for what you
are?' "}

thoughts evil suspicions about you. I've had them
all day--until you came. As soon as I saw you I felt
bowed into the dust. A man like you, doing anything
so vulgar as I suspected you of--oh, dearest, I'm SO

He put his arms round her and drew her to his
shoulder. And the scene of mimicry in his office flashed
into his mind, and the blood burned in his cheeks. But
he had no such access of insanity as to entertain the
idea of confession.

"It was that typewriter girl," continued Josephine.
She drew away again and once more searched his face.
"You told me she was homely."

"Not exactly that."

"Insignificant then."

"Isn't she?"

"Yes--in a way," said Josephine, the condescending
note in her voice again--and in his mind Miss Hallowell's
clever burlesque of that note. "But, in another
way-- Men are different from women. Now I--a
woman of my sort--couldn't stoop to a man of her
class. But men seem not to feel that way."

"No," said he, irritated. "They've the courage to
take what they want wherever they find it. A man will
take gold out of the dirt, because gold is always gold.
But a woman waits until she can get it at a fashionable
jeweler's, and makes sure it's made up in a fashionable
way. I don't like to hear YOU say those things."

Her eyes flashed. "Then you DO like that Hallowell
girl!" she cried--and never before had her voice
jarred upon him.

"That Hallowell girl has nothing to do with this,"
he rejoined. "I like to feel that you really love me--
that you'd have taken me wherever you happened to
find me--and that you'd stick to me no matter how far
I might drop."

"I would! I would!" she cried, tears in her eyes.
"Oh, I didn't mean that, Fred. You know I didn't--
don't you?"

She tried to put her arms round his neck, but he
took her hands and held them. "Would you like to
think I was marrying you for what you have?--or for
any other reason whatever but for what you are?"

It being once more a question of her own sex, the
obstinate line appeared round her mouth. "But, Fred,
I'd not be ME, if I were--a working girl," she replied.

"You might be something even better if you were,"
retorted he coldly. "The only qualities I don't like
about you are the surface qualities that have been
plated on in these surroundings. And if I thought it
was anything but just you that I was marrying, I'd
lose no time about leaving you. I'd not let myself
degrade myself."

"Fred--that tone--and don't--please don't look at
me like that!" she begged.

But his powerful glance searched on. He said, "Is
it possible that you and I are deceiving ourselves--and
that we'll marry and wake up--and be bored and
dissatisfied--like so many of our friends?"

"No--no," she cried, wildly agitated. "Fred, dear
we love each other. You know we do. I don't use
words as well as you do--and my mind works in a queer
way-- Perhaps I didn't mean what I said. No matter.
If my love were put to the test--Fred, I don't ask
anything more than that your love for me would stand
the tests my love for you would stand."

He caught her in his arms and kissed her with more
passion than he had ever felt for her before. "I
believe you, Jo," he said. "I believe you."

"I love you so--that I could be jealous even of
her--of that little girl in your office. Fred, I didn't
confess all the truth. It isn't true that I thought her
--a nobody. When she first came in here--it was in
this very room--I thought she was as near nothing
as any girl I'd ever seen. Then she began to change--
as you said. And--oh, dearest, I can't help hating her!
And when I tried to get her away from you, and she
wouldn't come----"

"Away from me!" he cried, laughing.

"I felt as if it were like that," she pleaded. "And
she wouldn't come--and treated me as if she were queen
and I servant--only politely, I must say, for Heaven
knows I don't want to injure her----"

"Shall I have her discharged?"

"Fred!" exclaimed she indignantly. "Do you
think I could do such a thing?"

"She'd easily get another job as good. Tetlow
can find her one. Does that satisfy you?"

"No," she confessed. "It makes me feel meaner
than ever."

"Now, Jo, let's drop this foolish seriousness about
nothing at all. Let's drop it for good."

"Nothing at all--that's exactly it. I can't
understand, Fred. What is there about her that makes her
haunt me? That makes me afraid she'll haunt you?"

Norman felt a sudden thrill. He tightened his hold
upon her hands because his impulse had been to release
them. "How absurd!" he said, rather noisily.

"Isn't it, though?" echoed she. "Think of you
and me almost quarreling about such a trivial person."
Her laugh died away. She shivered, cried, "Fred, I'm
superstitious about her. I'm--I'm--AFRAID!" And she
flung herself wildly into his arms.

"She IS somewhat uncanny," said he, with a
lightness he was far from feeling. "But, dear--it isn't
complimentary to me, is it?"

"Forgive me, dearest--I don't mean that. I
couldn't mean that. But--I LOVE you so. Ever since I
began to love you I've been looking round for something
to be afraid of. And this is the first chance
you've given me."

"I'VE given you!" mocked he.

She laughed hysterically. "I mean the first chance
I've had. And I'm doing the best I can with it."

They were in good spirits now, and for the rest of
the evening were as loverlike as always, the nearer
together for the bit of rough sea they had weathered so
nicely. Neither spoke of Miss Hallowell. Each had
privately resolved never to speak of her to the other
again. Josephine was already regretting the frankness
that had led her to expose a not too attractive part of
herself--and to exaggerate in his eyes the importance
of a really insignificant chit of a typewriter. When he
went to bed that night he was resolved to have Tetlow
find Miss Hallowell a job in another office.

"She certainly IS uncanny," he said to himself. "I
wonder why--I wonder what the secret of her is. She's
the first woman I ever ran across who had a real secret.
IS it real? I wonder."


TOWARD noon the following day Norman, suddenly
in need of a stenographer, sent out for Miss Purdy, one
of the three experts at eighteen dollars a week who
did most of the important and very confidential work
for the heads of the firm. When his door opened again
he saw not Miss Purdy but Miss Hallowell.

"Miss Purdy is sick to-day," said she. "Mr.
Tetlow wishes to know if I would do."

Norman shifted uneasily in his chair. "Just as
well--perfectly--certainly," he stammered. He was not
looking at her--seemed wholly occupied with the business
he was preparing to dispatch.

She seated herself in the usual place, at the opposite
side of the broad table. With pencil poised she fixed
her gaze upon the unmarred page of her open notebook.
Instead of abating, his confusion increased. He could
not think of the subject about which he wished to
dictate. First, he noted how long her lashes were--and
darker than her hair, as were her well-drawn eyebrows
also. Never had he seen so white a skin or one so
smooth. She happened to be wearing a blouse with a
Dutch neck that day. What a superb throat! What
a line of beauty its gently swelling curve made. Then
his glance fell upon her lips, rosy-red, slightly pouted.
And what masses of dead gold hair--no, not gold, but
of the white-gray of wood ashes, and tinted with gold!
No wonder it was difficult to tell just what color her
hair was. Hair like that was ready to be of any color.
And there were her arms, so symmetrical in her rather
tight sleeves, and emerging into view in the most delicate
wrists. What a marvelous skin!

"Have you ever posed?"

She startled and the color flamed in her cheeks. Her
eyes shot a glance of terror at him. "I--I," she
stammered. Then almost defiantly, "Yes, I did--for a while.
But I didn't suppose anyone knew. At the time we
needed the money badly."

Norman felt deep disgust with himself for bursting
out with such a question, and for having surprised her
secret. "There's nothing to be ashamed of," he said

"Oh, I'm not ashamed," she returned. Her agitation
had subsided. "The only reason I quit was because
the work was terribly hard and the pay small and
uncertain. I was confused because they discharged me
at the last place I had, when they found out I had been
a model. It was a church paper office."

Again she poised her pencil and lowered her eyes.
But he did not take the hint. "Is there anything you
would rather do than this sort of work?" he asked.

"Nothing I could afford," replied she.

"If you had been kind to Miss Burroughs yesterday
she would have helped you."

"I couldn't afford to do that," said the girl in her
quiet, reticent way.

"To do what?"

"To be nice to anyone for what I could get out
of it."

Norman smiled somewhat cynically. Probably the
girl fancied she was truthful; but human beings rarely
knew anything about their real selves. "What would
you like to do?"

She did not answer his question until she had shrunk
completely within herself and was again thickly veiled
with the expression which made everyone think her
insignificant. "Nothing I could afford to do," said she.
It was plain that she did not wish to be questioned
further along that line.

"The stage?" he persisted.

"I hadn't thought of it," was her answer.

"What then?"

"I don't think about things I can't have. I never
made any definite plans."

"But isn't it a good idea always to look ahead? As
long as one has to be moving, one might as well move in
a definite direction."

She was waiting with pencil poised.

"There isn't much of a future at this business."

She shrank slightly. He felt that she regarded his
remark as preparation for a kindly hint that she was
not giving satisfaction. . . . Well, why not leave it that
way? Perhaps she would quit of her own accord--
would spare him the trouble--and embarrassment--of
arranging with Tetlow for another place for her. He
began to dictate--gave her a few sentences mockingly
different from his usual terse and clear statements--
interrupted himself with:

"You misunderstood me a while ago. I didn't
mean you weren't doing your work well. On the
contrary, I think you'll soon be expert. But I thought
perhaps I might be able to help you to something you'd
like better."

He listened to his own words in astonishment. What
new freak of madness was this? Instead of clearing
himself of this uncanny girl, he was proposing things
to her that would mean closer relations. And what
reason had he to think she was fitted for anything but
just what she was now doing--doing indifferently well?

"Thank you," she said, so quietly that it seemed
coldly, "but I'm satisfied as I am."

Her manner seemed to say with polite and restrained
plainness that she was not in the least appreciative of
his interest or of himself. But this could not be. No girl
in her position could fail to be grateful for his interest.
No woman, in all his life, had ever failed to respond to
his slightest advance. No, it simply could not be. She
was merely shy, and had a peculiar way of showing it.
He said:

"You have no ambition?"

"That's not for a woman."

She was making her replies as brief as civility
permitted. He observed her narrowly. She was not shy,
not embarrassed. What kind of game was this? It
could not be in sincere nature for a person in her position
thus to treat overtures, friendly and courteous overtures,
from one in his position. And never before--
never--had a woman been thus unresponsive. Instead
of feeling relief that she had disentangled him from the
plight into which his impulsive offer had flung him, he
was piqued--angered--and his curiosity was inflamed
as never before about any woman.

The relations of the sexes are for the most part
governed by traditions of sex allurements and sex tricks
so ancient that they have ceased to be conscious and
have become instinctive. One of these venerable first
principles is that mystery is the arch provoker. Norman,
an old and expert student of the great game--the
only game for which the staidest and most serious will
abandon all else to follow its merry call--Norman knew
this trick of mystery. The woman veils herself and
makes believe to fly--an excellent trick, as good to-day
as ever after five thousand years of service. And he
knew that in it lay the explanation for the sudden and
high upflaming of his interest in this girl. "What an
ass I'm making of myself!" reflected he. "When I
care nothing about the girl, why should I care about
the mystery of her? Of course, it's some poor little
affair, a puzzle not worth puzzling out."

All true and clear enough. Yet seeing it did not
abate his interest a particle. She had veiled herself;
she was pretending--perhaps honestly--to fly. He
rose and went to the window, stood with his back to
her, resumed dictating. But the sentences would not
come. He whirled abruptly. "I'm not ready to do the
thing yet," he said. "I'll send for you later."

Without a word or a glance she stood, took her book
and went toward the door. He gazed after her. He
could not refrain from speaking again. "I'm afraid
you misunderstood my offer a while ago," said he,
neither curt nor friendly. "I forgot how such things
from a man to a young woman might be misinterpreted."

"I never thought of that," replied she unembarrassed.
"It was simply that I can't put myself under
obligation to anyone."

As she stood there, her full beauty flashed upon
him--the exquisite form, the subtly graceful poise of
her body, of her head--the loveliness of that golden-
hued white skin--the charm of her small rosy mouth--
the delicate, sensitive, slightly tilted nose--and her eyes
--above all, her eyes!--so clear, so sweet. Her voice
had seemed thin and faint to him; its fineness now seemed
the rarest delicacy--the exactly fitting kind for so
evasive and delicate a beauty as hers. He made a slight
bow of dismissal, turned abruptly away. Never in all
his life, strewn with gallant experiences--never had a
woman thus treated him, and never had a woman thus
affected him. "I am mad--stark mad!" he muttered.
"A ten-dollar-a-week typewriter, whom nobody on earth
but myself would look at a second time!" But something
within him hurled back this scornful fling.
Though no one else on earth saw or appreciated--what
of it? She affected HIM thus--and that was enough.
"_I_ want her! . . . I WANT her! I have never wanted a
woman before."

He rushed into the dressing room attached to his
office, plunged his face into ice-cold water. This somewhat
eased the burning sensation that was becoming
intolerable. Many were the unaccountable incidents in
his acquaintance with this strange creature; the most
preposterous was this sudden seizure. He realized now
that his feeling for her had been like the quiet, steady,
imperceptible filling of a reservoir that suddenly
announces itself by the thunder and roar of a mighty
cascade over the dam. "This is madness--sheer madness!
I am still master within myself. I will make
short work of this rebellion." And with an air of
calmness so convincing that he believed in it he addressed
himself to the task of sanity and wisdom lying plain
before him. "A man of my position caught by a girl
like that! A man such as I am, caught by ANY woman
whatever!" It was grotesque. He opened his door to
summon Tetlow.

The gate in the outside railing was directly
opposite, and about thirty feet away. Tetlow and Miss
Hallowell were going out--evidently to lunch together.
She was looking up at the chief clerk with laughing
eyes--they seemed coquettish to the infuriated Norman.
And Tetlow--the serious and squab young ass was
gazing at her with the expression men of the stupid
squab sort put on when they wish to impress a woman.
At this spectacle, at the vision of that slim young
loveliness, that perfect form and deliciously smooth soft
skin, white beyond belief beneath its faintly golden tint
--the hot blood steamed up into Norman's brain, blinded
his sight, reddened it with desire and jealousy. He
drew back, closed his door with a bang.

"This is not I," he muttered. "What has
happened? Am I insane?"

When Tetlow returned from lunch the office boy on
duty at the gate told him that Mr. Norman wished to
see him at once. Like all men trying to advance along
ways where their fellow men can help or hinder, the head
clerk was full of more or less clever little tricks thought
out with a view to making a good impression. One of
them was to stamp upon all minds his virtue of promptness--
of what use to be prompt unless you forced every
one to feel how prompt you were? He went in to see
Norman, with hat in hand and overcoat on his back and
one glove off, the other still on. Norman was standing
at a window, smoking a cigarette. His appearance--
dress quite as much as manner--was the envy of his
subordinate--as, indeed, it was of hundreds of the
young men struggling to rise down town. It was so
exactly what the appearance of a man of vigor and
power and high position should be. Tetlow practiced
it by the quarter hour before his glass at home--not
without progress in the direction of a not unimpressive
manner of his own.

As Tetlow stood at attention, Norman turned and
advanced toward him. "Mr. Tetlow," he began, in his
good-humored voice with the never wholly submerged
under-note of sharpness, "is it your habit to go out to
lunch with the young ladies employed here? If so, I
wish to suggest--simply to suggest--that it may be
bad for discipline."

Tetlow's jaw dropped a little. He looked at
Norman, was astonished to discover beneath a thin veneer of
calm signs of greater agitation than he had ever seen in
him. "To-day was the first time, sir," he said. "And
I can't quite account for my doing it. Miss Hallowell
has been here several months. I never specially noticed
her until the last few days--when the question of
discharging her came up. You may remember it was
settled by you."
Norman flung his cigarette away and stalked to the

"Mr. Norman," pursued Tetlow, "you and I have
been together many years. I esteem it my greatest
honor that I am able--that you permit me--to class
you as my friend. So I'm going to give you a confidence--
one that really startles me. I called on Miss
Hallowell last night."

Norman's back stiffened.

"She is even more charming in her own home.
And--" Tetlow blushed and trembled--"I am going
to make her my wife if I can."

Norman turned, a mocking satirical smile unpleasantly
sparkling in his eyes and curling his mouth
"Old man," he said, "I think you've gone crazy."

Tetlow made a helpless gesture. "I think so
myself. I didn't intend to marry for ten years--and then
--I had quite a different match in mind."

"What's the matter with you, Billy?" inquired
Norman, inspecting him with smiling, cruelly unfriendly

"I'm damned if I know, Norman," said the head
clerk, assuming that his friend was sympathetic and
dropping into the informality of the old days when they
were clerks together in a small firm. "I'd have
proposed to her last night if I hadn't been afraid I'd lose
her by being in such a hurry. . . . You're in love yourself."

Norman startled violently.

"You're going to get married. Probably you can
sympathize. You know how it is to meet the woman
you want and must have."

Norman turned away.

"I've had--or thought I had--rather advanced
ideas on the subject of women. I've always had a horror
of being married for a living or for a home or as
an experiment or a springboard. My notion's been
that I wouldn't trust a woman who wasn't independent.
And theoretically I still think that's sound. But it
doesn't work out in practice. A man has to have been
in love to be able to speak the last word on the sex question."

Norman dropped heavily into his desk chair and
rumpled his hair into disorder. He muttered something
--the head clerk thought it was an oath.

"I'd marry her," Tetlow went on, "if I knew she
was simply using me in the coldest, most calculating
way. My only fear is that I shan't be able to get her
--that she won't marry me."

Norman sneered. "That's not likely," he said.

"No, it isn't," admitted Tetlow. "They--the
Hallowells--are nice people--of as good family as there
is. But they're poor--very poor. There's only her
father and herself. The old man is a scientist--spends
most of his time at things that won't pay a cent--utterly
impractical. A gentleman--an able man, if a
little cracked--at least he seemed so to me who don't
know much about scientific matters. But getting poorer
steadily. So I think she will accept me."

A gloomy, angry frown, like a black shadow, passed
across Norman's face and disappeared. "You'd marry
her--on those terms?" he sneered.

"Of course I HOPE for better terms----"

Norman sprang up, strode to the window and turned
his back.

"But I'm prepared for the worst. The fact is, she
treats me as if she didn't care a rap for the honor of
my showing her attention."

"A trick, Billy. An old trick."

"Maybe so. But-- I really believe she doesn't
realize. She's queer--has been queerly brought up. Yes,
I think she doesn't appreciate. Then, too, she's young
and light--almost childish in some ways. . . . I don't
blame you for being disgusted with me, Fred. But--
damn it, what's a man to do?"

"Cure himself!" exploded Norman, wheeling
violently on his friend. "You must act like a man. Billy,
such a marriage is ruin for you. How can we take you
into partnership next year? When you marry, you
must marry in the class you're moving toward, not in
any of those you're leaving behind."

"Do you suppose I haven't thought of all that?"
rejoined Tetlow bitterly. "But I can't help myself.
It's useless for me to say I'll try. I shan't try."

"Don't you want to get over this?" demanded
Norman fiercely.

"Of course-- No--I don't. Fred, you'd think
better of me if you knew her. You've never especially
noticed her. She's beautiful."

Norman dropped to his chair again.

"Really--beautiful," protested Tetlow, assuming
that the gesture was one of disgusted denial. "Take
a good look at her, Norman, before you condemn her.
I never was so astonished as when I discovered how
good-looking she is. I don't quite know how it is, but I
suppose nobody ever happened to see how--how lovely
she is until I just chanced to see it." At a rudely
abrupt gesture from Norman he hurried on, eagerly
apologetic, "And if you talk with her-- She's very
reserved. But she's the lady through and through--
and has a good mind. . . . At least, I think she has.
I'll admit a man in love is a poor judge of a woman's
mind. But, anyhow, I KNOW she's lovely to look at.
You'll see it yourself, now that I've called your attention
to it. You can't fail to see it."

Norman threw himself back in his chair and clasped
his hands behind his head. "WHY do you want to
marry her?" he inquired, in a tone his sensitive ear
approved as judicial.

"How can I tell?" replied the head clerk irritably.
"Does a man ever know?"

"Always--when he's sensibly in love."

"But when he's just in love? That's what ails
me," retorted Tetlow, with a sheepish look and laugh.

"Billy, you've got to get over this. I can't let
you make a fool of yourself."

Tetlow's fat, smooth, pasty face of the overfed,
underexercised professional man became a curious
exhibit of alarm and obstinacy.

"You've got to promise me you'll keep away from
her--except at the office--for say, a week. Then--
we'll see."

Tetlow debated.

"It's highly improbable that anyone else will
discover these irresistible charms. There's no one else
hanging round?"

"No one, as I told you the other day, when you
questioned me about her."

Norman shifted, looked embarrassed.

"I hope I didn't give you the impression I was
ashamed of loving her or would ever be ashamed of
her anywhere?" continued Tetlow, a very loverlike light
in his usually unromantic eyes. "If I did, it wasn't
what I meant--far from it. You'll see, when I marry
her, Norman. You'll be congratulating me."

Norman sprang up again. "This is plain lunacy,
Tetlow. I am amazed at you--amazed!"

"Get acquainted with her, Mr. Norman," pleaded
the subordinate. "Do it, to oblige me. Don't
condemn us----"

"I wish to hear nothing more!" cried Norman
violently. "Another thing. You must find her a place
in some other office--at once."

"You're right, sir," assented Tetlow. "I can
readily do that."

Norman scowled at him, made an imperious gesture
of dismissal. Tetlow, chopfallen but obdurate, got
himself speedily out of sight.

Norman, with hands deep in his pockets, stared out
among the skyscrapers and gave way to a fit of remorse.
It was foreign to his nature to do petty underhanded
tricks. Grand strategy--yes. At that he was an adept,
and not the shiftiest, craftiest schemes he had ever
devised had given him a moment's uneasiness. But to be
driving a ten-dollar-a-week typewriter out of her job
--to be maneuvering to deprive her of a for her brilliant
marriage--to be lying to an old and loyal retainer who
had helped Norman full as much and as often as Norman
had helped him--these sneaking bits of skullduggery
made him feel that he had sunk indeed. But he ground
his teeth together and his eyes gleamed wickedly. "He
shan't have her, damn him!" he muttered. "She's not
for him."

He summoned Tetlow, who was obviously low in
mind as the result of revolving the things that had been
said to him. "Billy," he began in a tone so amiable
that he was ashamed for himself, "you'll not forget I
have your promise?"

"What did I promise?" cried Tetlow, his voice
shrill with alarm.

"Not to see her, except at the office, for a week."

"But I've promised her father I'd call this evening.
He's going to show me some experiments."

"You can easily make an excuse--business."

"But I don't want to," protested the head clerk.
"What's the use? I've got my mind made up. Norman,
I'd hang on after her if you fired me out of this
office for it. And I can't rest--I'm fit for nothing--
until this matter's settled. I came very near taking
her aside and proposing to her, just after I went out
of here a while ago."

"You DAMN fool!" cried Norman, losing all control
of himself. "Take the afternoon express for Albany
instead of Harcott and attend to those registrations
and arrange for those hearings. I'll do my best to
save you. I'll bring the girl in here and keep her at
work until you get out of the way."

Tetlow glanced at his friend; then the tears came
into his eyes. "You're a hell of a friend!" he
ejaculated. "And I thought you'd sympathize because you
were in love."

"I do sympathize, Billy," Norman replied with an
abrupt change to shamefaced apology. "I sympathize
more than you know. I feel like a dog, doing this.
But it can't result in any harm, and I want you to get
a little fresh air in that hot brain of yours before you
commit yourself. Be reasonable, old man. Suppose
you rushed ahead and proposed--and she accepted--and
then, after a few days, you came to. What about her?
You must act on the level, Tetlow. Do the fair thing
by yourself and by her."

Norman had often had occasion to feel proud of the
ingenuity and resourcefulness of his brain. He had
never been quite so proud as he was when he finished
that speech. It pacified Tetlow; it lightened his own
sense of guilt; it gave him a respite.

Tetlow rewarded Norman with the look that in New
York is the equivalent of the handclasp friend seeks
from friend in times of stress. "You're right, Fred.
I'm much obliged to you. I haven't been considering
HER side of it enough. A man ought always to think
of that. The women--poor things--have a hard enough
time to get on, at best."

Norman's smile was characteristically cynical.
Sentimentality amused him. "I doubt if there are more
female wrecks than male wrecks scattered about the
earth," rejoined he. "And I suspect the fact isn't
due to the gentleness of man with woman, either. Don't
fret for the ladies, Tetlow. They know how to take
care of themselves. They know how to milk with a sure
and a steady hand. You may find it out by depressing
experience some day."

Tetlow saw the aim. His obstinate, wretched
expression came back. "I don't care. I've got----"

"You went over that ground," interrupted Norman
impatiently. "You'd better be catching the train."

As Tetlow withdrew, he rang for an office boy and
sent him to summon Miss Hallowell.

Norman had been reasoning with himself--with the
aid of the self that was both better and more worldly
wise. He felt that his wrestlings had not been wholly
futile. He believed he had got the strength to face the
girl with a respectful mind, with a mind resolute in
duty--if not love--toward Josephine Burroughs. "I
LOVE Josephine," he said to himself. "My feeling for
this girl is some sort of physical attraction. I certainly
shall be able to control it enough to keep it within
myself. And soon it will die out. No doubt I've felt
much the same thing as strongly before. But it didn't
take hold because I was never bound before--never had
the sense of the necessity for restraint. That sense is
always highly dangerous for my sort of man."

This sounded well. He eyed the entering girl coldly,
said in a voice that struck him as excellent indifference,
"Bring your machine in here, Miss Hallowell, and recopy
these papers. I've made some changes. If you
spoil any sheets, don't throw them away, but return
everything to me."

"I'm always careful about the waste-paper baskets,"
said she, "since they warned me that there are men
who make a living searching the waste thrown out of

He made no reply. He could not have spoken if
he had tried. Once more the spell had seized him--the
spell of her weird fascination for him. As she sat
typewriting, with her back almost toward him, he sat watching
her and analyzing his own folly. He knew that
diagnosing a disease does not cure it; but he found an
acute pleasure in lingering upon all the details of the
effect she had upon his nerves. He did not dare move
from his desk, from the position that put a huge table
and a revolving case of reference books between them.
He believed that if he went nearer he would be unable
to resist seizing her in his arms and pouring out the
passion that was playing along his nerves as the delicate,
intense flame flits back and forth along the surface of
burning alcohol.

A knock at the door. He plunged into his papers.
"Come!" he called.

Tetlow thrust in his head. Miss Hallowell did not
look up. "I'm off," the head clerk said. His gaze
was upon the unconscious girl--a gaze that filled Norman
with longing to strangle him.

"Telegraph me from Albany as soon as you get
there," said Norman. "Telegraph me at my club."

Tetlow was gone. The machine tapped monotonously
on. The barette which held the girl's hair at
the back was so high that the full beauty of the nape
of her neck was revealed. That wonderful white skin
with the golden tint! How soft--yet how firm--her
flesh looked! How slender yet how strong was her

"How do you like Tetlow?" he asked, because
speak to her he must.

She glanced up, turned in her chair. He quivered
before the gaze from those enchanting eyes of hers. "I
beg pardon," she said. "I didn't hear."

"Tetlow--how do you like him?"

"He is very kind to me--to everyone."

"How did your father like him?"

He confidently expected some sign of confusion, but
there was no sign. "Father was delighted with him,"
she said merrily. "He took an interest in the work
father's doing--and that was enough."

She was about to turn back to her task. He
hastened to ask another question. "Couldn't I meet your
father some time? What Tetlow told me interested
me greatly."

"Father would be awfully pleased," replied she.
"But--unless you really care about--biology, I don't
think you'd like coming."

"I'm interested in everything interesting," replied
Norman dizzily. What was he saying? What was he
doing? What folly was his madness plunging him into?

"You can come with Mr. Tetlow when he gets back."

"I'd prefer to talk with him alone," said Norman.
"Perhaps I might see some way to be of service to

Her expression was vividly different from what it
had been when he offered to help HER. She became radiant
with happiness. "I do hope you'll come," she said
--her voice very low and sweet, in the effort she was
making to restrain yet express her feelings.

"When? This evening?"

"He's always at home."

"You'll be there?"

"I'm always there, too. We have no friends. It's
not easy to make acquaintances in the East--congenial

"I'd want you to be there," he explained with great
care, "because you could help him and me in getting

"Oh, he'll talk freely--to anyone. He talks only
the one subject. He never thinks of anything else."

She was resting her crossed arms on the back of her
chair and, with her chin upon them, was looking at him
--a childlike pose and a childlike expression. He said:
"You are SURE you are twenty?"

She smiled gayly. "Nearly twenty-one."

"Old enough to be in love."

She lifted her head and laughed. She had charming
white teeth--small and sharp and with enough irregularity
to carry out her general suggestion of variability.
"Yes, I shall like that, when it comes," she said;
"But the chances are against it just now."

"There's Tetlow."

She was much amused. "Oh, he's far too old and

Norman felt depressed. "Why, he's only thirty-five."

"But I'm not twenty-one," she reminded him. "I'd
want some one of my own age. I'm tired of being so
solemn. If I had love, I'd expect it to change all that."

Evidently a forlorn and foolish person--and doubtless
thinking of him, two years the senior of Tetlow
and far more serious, as an elderly person, in the same
class with her father. "But you like biology?" he said.
The way to a cure was to make her talk on.

"I don't know anything about it," said she, looking
as frivolous as a butterfly or a breeze-bobbed blossom.
"I listen to father, but it's all beyond me."

Yes--a light-weight. They could have nothing in
common. She was a mere surface--a thrillingly beautiful
surface, but not a full-fledged woman. So little did
conversation with him interest her, she had taken
advantage of the short pause to resume her work. No,
she had not the faintest interest in him. It wasn't a
trick of coquetry; it was genuine. He whom women had
always bowed before was unable to arouse in her a spark
of interest. She cared neither for what he had nor
for what he was, in himself. This offended and wounded
him. He struggled sulkily with his papers for half an
hour. Then he fell to watching her again and----

"You must not neglect to give me your address,"
he said. "Write it on a slip of paper after you finish.
I might forget it."

"Very well," she replied, but did not turn round.

"Why, do you think, did Tetlow come to see you?"
he asked. He felt cheapened in his own eyes--he, the
great man, the arrived man, the fiance of Josephine
Burroughs, engaged in this halting and sneaking flirtation!
But he could not restrain himself.

She turned to answer. "Mr. Tetlow works very
hard and has few friends. He had heard of my father
and wanted to meet him--just like you."

"Naturally," murmured Norman, in confusion. "I
thought--perhaps--he was interested in YOU."

She laughed outright--and he had an entrancing
view of the clean rosy interior of her mouth. "In ME?
--Mr. Tetlow? Why, he's too serious and important
for a girl like me."

"Then he bored you?"

"Oh, no. I like him. He is a good man--
thoroughly good."

This pleased Norman immensely. It may be fine to
be good, but to be called good--that is somehow a
different matter. It removes a man at once from the
jealousy-provoking class. "Good exactly describes him,"
said Norman. "He wouldn't harm a fly. In love he'd
be ridiculous."

"Not with a woman of his own age and kind,"
protested she. "But I'm neglecting my work."

And she returned to it with a resolute manner that
made him ashamed to interrupt again--especially after
the unconscious savage rebukes she had administered.
He sat there fighting against the impulse to watch her
--denouncing himself--appealing to pride, to shame, to
prudence--to his love for Josephine--to the sense of
decency that restrains a hunter from aiming at a harmless
tame song bird. But all in vain. He concentrated
upon her at last, stared miserably at her, filled with
longing and dread and shame--and longing, and yet
more longing.

When she finished and stood at the other side of
the desk, waiting for him to pass upon her work, she
must have thought he was in a profound abstraction.
He did not speak, made a slight motion with his hand
to indicate that she was to go. Shut in alone, he
buried his face in his arms. "What madness!" he
groaned. "If I loved her, there'd be some excuse for
me. But I don't. I couldn't. Yet I seem ready to
ruin everything, merely to gratify a selfish whim--an
insane whim."

On top of the papers she had left he saw a separate
slip. He drew it toward him, spread it out before him.
Her address. An unknown street in Jersey City!

"I'll not go," he said aloud, pushing the slip away.
Go? Certainly not. He had never really meant to go.
He would, of course, keep his engagement with Josephine.
"And I'll not come down town until she has taken
another job and has caught Tetlow. I'll stop this idiocy
of trying to make an impression on a person not worth
impressing. What weak vanity--to be piqued by this
girl's lack of interest!"

Nevertheless--he at six o'clock telephoned to the
Burroughs' house that he was detained down town. He
sent away his motor, dined alone in the station restaurant
in Jersey City. And at half past seven he set out
in a cab in search of--what? He did not dare answer
that interrogation.


LIFE many another chance explorer from New York,
Norman was surprised to discover that, within a few
minutes of leaving the railway station, his cab was
moving through a not unattractive city. He expected to
find the Hallowells in a tenement in some more or less
squalid street overhung with railway smoke and bedaubed
with railway grime. He was delighted when the
driver assured him that there was no mistake, that the
comfortable little cottage across the width of the
sidewalk and a small front yard was the sought-for

"Wait, please," he said to the cabman. "Or, if you
like, you can go to that corner saloon down there. I'll
know where to find you." And he gave him half a

The cabman hesitated between two theories of this
conduct--whether it was the generosity it seemed or
was a ruse to "side step" payment. He--or his thirst
--decided for the decency of human nature; he drove
confidingly away. Norman went up the tiny stoop and
rang. The sound of a piano, in the room on the ground
floor where there was light, abruptly ceased. The door
opened and Miss Hallowell stood before him. She was
throughout a different person from the girl of the office.
She had changed to a tight-fitting pale-blue linen dress
made all in one piece. Norman could now have not an
instant's doubt about the genuineness, the bewitching
actuality, of her beauty. The wonder was how she
could contrive to conceal so much of it for the purposes
of business. It was a peculiar kind of beauty--not the
radiant kind, but that which shines with a soft glow
and gives him who sees it the delightful sense of being
its original and sole discoverer. An artistic eye--or an
eye that discriminates in and responds to feminine
loveliness--would have been captivated, as it searched in
vain for flaw.

If Norman anticipated that she would be nervous
before the task of receiving in her humbleness so
distinguished a visitor, he must have been straightway
disappointed. Whether from a natural lack of that
sense of social differences which is developed to the most
pitiful snobbishness in New York or from her youth and
inexperience, she received him as if he had been one of
the neighbors dropping in after supper. And it was
Norman who was ill at ease. Nothing is more
disconcerting to a man accustomed to be received with
due respect to his importance than to find himself put
upon the common human level and compelled to "make
good" all over again from the beginning. He felt--
he knew--that he was an humble candidate for her
favor--a candidate with the chances perhaps against

The tiny parlor had little in it beside the upright
piano because there was no space. But the paper, the
carpet and curtains, the few pieces of furniture, showed
no evidence of bad taste, of painful failure at the effort
to "make a front." He was in the home of poor people,
but they were obviously people who made a highly
satisfactory best of their poverty. And in the midst of it
all the girl shone like the one evening star in the mystic
opalescence of twilight.

"We weren't sure you were coming," said she. "I'll
call father. . . . No, I'll take you back to his workshop.
He's easier to get acquainted with there."

"Won't you play something for me first? Or--
perhaps you sing? "

"A very little," she admitted. "Not worth hearing."

"I'm sure I'd like it. I want to get used to my
surroundings before I tackle the--the biology."

Without either hesitation or shyness, she seated herself
at the piano. "I'll sing the song I've just learned."
And she began. Norman moved to the chair that gave
him a view of her in profile. For the next five minutes
he was witness to one of those rare, altogether charming
visions that linger in the memory in freshness and
fragrance until memory itself fades away. She sat
very straight at the piano, and the position brought
out all the long lines of her figure--the long, round
white neck and throat, the long back and bosom, the
long arms and legs--a series of lovely curves. It has
been scientifically demonstrated that pale blue is pre-
eminently the sex color. It certainly was pre-eminently
HER color, setting off each and every one of her charms
and suggesting the roundness and softness and whiteness
her drapery concealed. She was one of those rare
beings whose every pose is instinct with grace. And
her voice-- It was small, rather high, at times almost
shrill. But in every note of its register there sounded
a mysterious, melancholy-sweet call to the responding
nerves of man.

Before she got halfway through the song Norman
was fighting against the same mad impulse that had all
but overwhelmed him as he watched her in the afternoon.
And when her last note rose, swelled, slowly
faded into silence, it seemed to him that had she kept
on for one note more he would have disclosed to her
amazed eyes the insanity raging within him.

She turned on the piano stool, her hands dropped
listlessly in her lap. "Aren't those words beautiful?"
she said in a dreamy voice. She was not looking at
him. Evidently she was hardly aware of his presence.

He had not heard a word. He was in no mood for
mere words. "I've never liked anything so well," he
said. And he lowered his eyes that she might not see
what they must be revealing.

She rose. He made a gesture of protest. "Won't
you sing another?" he asked.

"Not after that," she said. "It's the best I know.
It has put me out of the mood for the ordinary songs."

"You are a dreamer--aren't you?"

"That's my real life," replied she. "I go through
the other part just to get to the dreams."

"What do you dream?"

She laughed carelessly. "Oh, you'd not be
interested. It would seem foolish to you."

"You're mistaken there," cried he. "The only
thing that ever has interested me in life is dreams--
and making them come true."

"But not MY kind of dreams. The only kind I like
are the ones that couldn't possibly come true."

"There isn't any dream that can't be made to come

She looked at him eagerly. "You think so?"

"The wildest ones are often the easiest." He had
a moving voice himself, and it had been known to affect
listening ears hypnotically when he was deeply in earnest,
was possessed by one of those desires that conquer
men of will and then make them irresistible instruments.
"What is your dream?--happiness? . . . love?"

She gazed past him with swimming eyes, with a
glance that seemed like a brave bright bird exploring
infinity. "Yes," she said under her breath. "But it
could never--never come true. It's too perfect."

"Don't doubt," he said, in a tone that fitted her
mood as the rhythm of the cradle fits the gentle breathing
of the sleeping child. "Don't ever doubt. And the
dream will come true."

"You have been in love?" she said, under the spell
of his look and tone.

He nodded slowly. "I am," he replied, and he was
under the spell of her beauty.

"Is it--wonderful?"

"Like nothing else on earth. Everything else seems
--poor and cheap--beside it."

He drew a step nearer. "But you couldn't love--
not yet," he said. "You haven't had the experience.
You will have to learn."

"You don't know me," she cried. "I have been
teaching myself ever since I was a little girl. I've
thought of nothing else most of the time. Oh--" she
clasped her white hands against her small bosom--"if
I ever have the chance, how much I shall give!"

"I know it! I know it!" he replied. "You will
make some man happier than ever man was before."
His infatuation did not blind him to the fact that she
cared nothing about him, looked on him in the most
unpersonal way. But that knowledge seemed only to
inflame him the more, to lash him on to the folly of an
ill-timed declaration. "I have felt how much you will
give--how much you will love--I've felt it from the
second time I saw you--perhaps from the first. I've
never seen any woman who interested me as you do--
who drew me as you do--against my ambition--against
my will. I--I----"

He had been fighting against the words that would
come in spite of him. He halted now because the food
of emotion suffocated speech. He stood before her,
ghastly pale and trembling. She did not draw back.
She seemed compelled by his will, by the force of his
passion, to stay where she was. But in her eyes was a
fascinated terror--a fear of him--of the passion that
dominated him, a passion like the devils that made men
gash themselves and leap from precipices into the sea.
To unaccustomed eyes the first sight of passion is
always terrifying and is usually repellent. One must
learn to adventure the big wave, the great hissing,
towering billow that conceals behind its menace the wild
rapture of infinite longing realized.

"I have frightened you?" he said.

"Yes," was her whispered reply.

"But it is your dream come true."

She shrank back--not in aversion, but gently. "No
--it isn't my dream," she replied.

"You don't realize it yet, but you will."

She shook her head positively. "I couldn't ever
think of you in that way."

He did not need to ask why. She had already
explained when they were talking of Tetlow. There was
a finality in her tone that filled him with despair. It

Book of the day: