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

The Dust by David Graham Phillips

Part 3 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.

was his turn to look at her in terror. What power
this slim delicate girl had over him! What a price
she could exact if she but knew! Knew? Why, he had
told her--was telling her in look and tone and gesture
--was giving himself frankly into captivity--was prostrate,
inviting her to trample. His only hope of escape
lay in her inexperience--that she would not realize. In
the insanities of passion, as in some other forms of
dementia, there is always left a streak of reason--of
that craft which leads us to try to get what we want
as cheaply as possible. Men, all but beside themselves
with love, will bargain over the terms, if they be of the
bargaining kind by nature. Norman was not a haggler.
But common prudence was telling him how unwise his
conduct was, how he was inviting the defeat of his own

He waved his hand impatiently. "We'll see, my
dear," he said with a light good-humored laugh. "I
mustn't forget that I came to see your father."

She looked at him doubtfully. She did not understand--
did not quite like--this abrupt change of mood.
It suggested to her simplicity a lack of seriousness, of
sincerity. "Do you really wish to see my father?"
she inquired.

"Why else should I come away over to Jersey
City? Couldn't I have talked with you at the office?"

This seemed convincing. She continued to study his
face for light upon the real character of this strange
new sort of man. He regarded her with a friendly
humorous twinkle in his eyes. "Then I'll take you to
him," she said at length. She was by no means satisfied,
but she could not discover why she was dissatisfied.

"I can't possibly do you any harm," he urged, with

"No, I think not," replied she gravely. "But
you mustn't say those things!"

"Why not?" Into his eyes came their strongest,
most penetrating look. "I want you. And I don't
intend to give you up. It isn't my habit to give up.
So, sooner or later I get what I go after."

"You make me--afraid," she said nervously.

"Of what?" laughed he. "Not of me, certainly.
Then it must be of yourself. You are afraid you will
end by wanting me to want you."

"No--not that," declared she, confused by his quick
cleverness of speech. "I don't know what I'm afraid

"Then let's go to your father. . . . You'll not tell
Tetlow what I've said?"

"No." And once more her simple negation gave
him a sense of her absolute truthfulness.

"Or that I've been here?"

She looked astonished. "Why not?"

"Oh--office reasons. It wouldn't do for the others
to know."

She reflected on this. "I don't understand," was
the result of her thinking. "But I'll do as you ask.
Only, you must not come again."

"Why not? If they knew at the office, they'd
simply talk--unpleasantly."

"Yes," she admitted hesitatingly after reflecting.
"So you mustn't come again. I don't like some kinds
of secrets."

"But your father will know," he urged. "Isn't
that enough for--for propriety?"

"I can't explain. I don't understand, myself. I
do a lot of things by instinct." She, standing with her
hands behind her back and with clear, childlike eyes
gravely upon him, looked puzzled but resolved. "And
my instinct tells me not to do anything secret about

This answer made him wonder whether after all he
might not be too positive in his derisive disbelief in
women's instincts. He laughed. "Well--now for your

The workshop proved to be an annex to the rear,
reached by a passage leading past a cosy little dining
room and a kitchen where the order and the shine of
cleanness were notable even to masculine eyes. "You
are well taken care of," he said to her--she was preceding
him to show the way.

"We take care of ourselves," replied she. "I get
breakfast before I leave and supper after I come home.
Father has a cold lunch in the middle of the day, when
he eats at all--which isn't often. And on Saturday
afternoons and Sundays I do the heavy work."

"You ARE a busy lady!"

"Oh, not so very busy. Father is a crank about
system and order. He has taught me to plan everything
and work by the plans."

For the first time Norman had a glimmer of real
interest in meeting her father. For in those remarks
of hers he recognized at once the rare superior man--
the man who works by plan, where the masses of mankind
either drift helplessly or are propelled by some
superior force behind them without which they would
be, not the civilized beings they seem, but even as the
savage in the dugout or as the beast of the field. The
girl opened a door; a bright light streamed into the
dim hallway.

"Father!" she called. "Here's Mr. Norman."

Norman saw, beyond the exquisite profile of the
girl's head and figure, a lean tallish old man, dark and
gray, whose expression proclaimed him at first glance
no more in touch with the affairs of active life in the
world than had he been an inhabitant of Mars.

Mr. Hallowell gave his caller a polite glance and
handshake--evidence of merest surface interest in him,
of amiable patience with an intruder. Norman saw in
the neatness of his clothing and linen further proof
of the girl's loving care. For no such abstracted
personality as this would ever bother about such things
for himself. These details, however, detained Norman
only for a moment. In the presence of Hallowell it
was impossible not to concentrate upon him.

As we grow older what we are inside, the kind of
thoughts we admit as our intimates, appears ever more
strongly in the countenance. This had often struck
Norman, observing the men of importance about him,
noting how as they aged the look of respectability, of
intellectual distinction, became a thinner and ever thinner
veneer over the selfishness and greediness, the vanity and
sensuality and falsehood. But never before had he been
so deeply impressed by its truth. Evidently Hallowell
during most of his fifty-five or sixty years had lived
the purely intellectual life. The result was a look of
spiritual beauty, the look of the soul living in the high
mountain, with serenity and vast views constantly before
it. Such a face fills with awe the ordinary follower
of the petty life of the world if he have the brains to
know or to suspect the ultimate truth about existence.
It filled Norman with awe. He hastily turned his eyes
upon the girl--and once more into his face came the
resolute, intense, white-hot expression of a man
doggedly set upon an earthy purpose.

There was an embarrassed silence. Then the girl
said, "Show him the worms, father."

Mr. Hallowell smiled. "My little girl thinks no one
has seen that sort of thing," said he. "I can't make
her believe it is one of the commonplaces."

"You've never had anyone here more ignorant than
I, sir," said Norman. "The only claim on your courtesy
I can make is that I'm interested and that I perhaps
know enough in a general way to appreciate."

Hallowell waved his hand toward a row of large
glass bottles on one of the many shelves built against
the rough walls of the room. "Here they are," said
he. "It's the familiar illustration of how life may be

"I don't understand," said Norman, eying the
bottled worms curiously.

"Oh, it's simply the demonstration that life is a
mere chemical process----"

Norman had ceased to listen. The girl was moving
toward the door by which they had entered--was in the
doorway--was gone! He stood in an attitude of
attention; Hallowell talked on and on, passing from one
thing to another, forgetting his caller and himself,
thinking only of the subject, the beloved science, that
has brought into the modern world a type of men like
those who haunted the deserts and mountain caves in
the days when Rome was falling to pieces. With those
saintly hermits of the Dark Ages religion was the all-
absorbing subject. And seeking their own salvation
was the goal upon which their ardent eyes were necessarily
bent. With these modern devotees, science--the
search for the truth about the world in which they live
--is their religion; and their goal is the redemption of
the world. They are resolved--step by step, each
worker contributing his mite of discovery--to transform
the world from a hell of discomfort and pain and death
to a heaven where men and women, free and enlightened
and perhaps immortal, shall live in happiness.
They even dream that perhaps this race of gods shall
learn to construct the means to take them to another
and younger planet, when this Earth has become too
old and too cold and too nakedly clad in atmosphere
properly to sustain life.

From time to time Norman caught a few words of
what Hallowell said--words that made him respect the
intelligence that had uttered them. But he neither
cared nor dared to listen. He refused to be deflected
from his one purpose. When he was as old as Hallowell,
it would be time to think of these matters. When
he had snatched the things he needed, it would be time
to take the generous, wide, philosopher view of life.
But not yet. He was still young; he could--and he
would!--drink of the sparkling heady life of the senses,
typefied now for him in this girl. How her loveliness
flamed in his blood--flamed as fiercely when he could
not see the actual, tangible charms as when they were
radiating their fire into his eyes and through his skin!
First he must live that glorious life of youth, of nerves
aquiver with ecstasy. Also, he must shut out the things
of the intellect--must live in brain as well as in body
the animal life--in brain the life of cunning and
strategy. For the intellectual life would make it
impossible to pursue such ignoble things. First, material
success and material happiness. Then, in its own time,
this intellectual life to which such men as Hallowell ever
beckon, from their heights, such men as Norman, deep
in the wallow that seems to them unworthy of them, even
as they roll in it.

As soon as there came a convenient pause in Hallowell's
talk, Norman said, "And you devote your whole
life to these things?"

Hallowell's countenance lost its fine glow of enthusiasm.
"I have to make a living. I do chemical analyses
for doctors and druggists. That takes most of my

"But you can dispatch those things quickly."

Hallowell shook his head. "There's only one way
to do things. My clients trust me. I can't shirk."

Norman smiled. He admired this simplicity. But
it amused him, too; in a world of shirking and shuffling,
not to speak of downright dishonesty, it struck the
humorous note of the incongruous. He said:

"But if you could give all your time you would
get on faster."

"Yes--if I had the time--AND the money. To make
the search exhaustive would take money--five or six
thousand a year, at the least. A great deal more than
I shall ever have."

"Have you tried to interest capitalists?"

Hallowell smiled ironically. "There is much talk
about capitalists and capital opening up things. But
I have yet to learn of an instance of their touching
anything until they were absolutely sure of large profits.
Their failed enterprises are not miscarriage of noble
purpose but mistaken judgment, judgment blinded by
hope and greed."

"I see that a philosopher can know life without
living it," said Norman. "But couldn't you put your
scheme in such a way that some capitalist would be led
to hope?"

"I'd have to tell them the truth. Possibly I might
discover something with commercial value, but I couldn't
promise. I don't think it is likely."

Norman's eyes were on the door. His thoughts
were reaching out to the distant and faint sound of a
piano. "Just what do you propose to search for?"
inquired he.

He tried to listen, because it was necessary that he
have some knowledge of Hallowell's plans. But he
could not fix his attention. After a few moments he
glanced at his watch, interrupted with, "I think I
understand enough for the present. I've stayed longer
than I intended. I must go now. When I come again
I may perhaps have some plan to propose."

"Plan?" exclaimed Hallowell, his eyes lighting up.

"I'm not sure--not at all sure," hastily added
Norman. "I don't wish to give you false hopes. The
matter is extremely difficult. But I'll try. I've small
hope of success, but I'll try."

"My daughter didn't explain to me," said the
scientist. "She simply said one of the gentlemen for
whom she worked was coming to look at my place. I
thought it was mere curiosity."

"So it was, Mr. Hallowell," said Norman. "But
I have been interested. I don't as yet see what can be
done. I'm only saying that I'll think it over."

"I understand," said Hallowell. He was trying
to seem calm and indifferent. But his voice had the
tremulous note of excitement in it and his hands fumbled
nervously, touching evidence of the agitated gropings
of his mind in the faint, perhaps illusory, light of a new-
sprung hope. "Yes, I understand perfectly. Still--
it is pleasant to think about such a thing, even if there's
no chance of it. I am very fond of dreaming. That
has been my life, you know."

Norman colored, moved uneasily. The fineness of
this man's character made him uncomfortable. He could
pity Hallowell as a misguided failure. He could dilate
himself as prosperous, successful, much the more
imposing and important figure in the contrast. Yet there
was somehow a point of view at which, if one looked
carefully, his own sort of man shriveled and the Hallowell
sort towered.

"I MUST be going," Norman said. "No--don't
come with me. I know the way. I've interrupted you
long enough." And he put out his hand and, by those
little clevernesses of manner which he understood so
well, made it impossible for Hallowell to go with him
to Dorothy.

He was glad when he shut the door between him and
her father. He paused in the hall to dispel the vague,
self-debasing discomfort--and listening to HER voice as
she sang helped wonderfully. There is no more trying
test of a personality than to be estimated by the voice
alone. That test produces many strange and startling
results. Again and again it completely reverses our
judgment of the personality, either destroys or
enhances its charm. The voice of this girl, floating out
upon the quiet of the cottage--the voice, soft and sweet,
full of the virginal passion of dreams unmarred by
experience-- It was while listening to her voice, as he
stood there in the dimly lighted hall, that Frederick
Norman passed under the spell in all its potency. In
taking an anaesthetic there is the stage when we reach
out for its soothing effects; then comes the stage when
we half desire, half fear; then a stage in which fear is
dominant, and we struggle to retain our control of the
senses. Last comes the stage when we feel the full
power of the drug and relax and yield or are beaten
down into quiet. Her voice drew him into the final
stage, was the blow of the overwhelming wave's crest
that crushed him into submission.

She glanced toward the door. He was leaning
there, an ominous calm in his pale, resolute face. She
gazed at him with widening eyes. And her look was
the look of helplessness before a force that may, indeed
must, be struggled against, but with the foregone
certainty of defeat.

A gleam of triumph shone in his eyes. Then his
expression changed to one more conventional. "I
stopped a moment to listen, on my way out," said he.

Her expression changed also. The instinctive,
probably unconscious response to his look faded into the
sweet smile, serious rather than merry, that was her
habitual greeting. "Mr. Tetlow didn't get away from
father so soon."

"I stayed longer than I intended. I found it even
more interesting than I had expected. . . . Would you
be glad if your father could be free to do as he likes
and not be worried about anything?"

"That is one of my dreams."

"Well, it's certainly one that might come true. . . .
And you-- It's a shame that you should have to do so
much drudgery--both here and in New York."

"Oh, I don't mind about myself. It's all I'm fit
for. I haven't any talent--except for dreaming."

"And for making--SOME man's dreams come true."

Her gaze dropped. And as she hid herself she
looked once more almost as insignificant and colorless
as he had once believed her to be.

"What are you thinking about?"

She shook her head slowly without raising her eyes
or emerging from the deep recess of her reserve.

"You are a mystery to me. I can't decide whether
you are very innocent or very--concealing."

She glanced inquiringly at him. "I don't understand,"
she said.

He smiled. "No more do I. I've seen so much of
faking--in women as well as in men--that it's hard for
me to believe anyone is genuine."

"Do you think I am trying to deceive you? About

He made an impatient gesture--impatience with his
credulity where she was concerned. "No matter. I
want to make you happy--because I want you to make
me happy."

Her eyes became as grave as a wondering child's.
"You are laughing at me," she said.

"Why do you say that?"

"Because I could not make you happy."

"Why not?"

"What could a serious man like you find in me?"

His intense, burning gaze held hers. "Some time
I will tell you."

She shut herself within herself like a flower folding
away its beauty and leaving exposed only the
underside of its petals. It was impossible to say
whether she understood or was merely obeying an instinct.

He watched her a moment in silence. Then he said:

"I am mad about you--mad. You MUST understand.
I can think only of you. I am insane with jealousy
of you. I want you--I must have you."

He would have seized her in his arms, but the look
of sheer amazement she gave him protected her where
no protest or struggle would. "You?" she said. "Did
you really mean it? I thought you were just talking."

"Can't you see that I mean it?"

"Yes--you look as if you did. But I can't believe
it. I could never think of you in that way."

Once more that frank statement of indifference
infuriated him. He MUST compel her to feel--he must
give that indifference the lie--and at once! He caught
her in his arms. He rained kisses upon her pale face.
She made not the least resistance, but seemed dazed.
"I will teach you to love me," he cried, drunk now with
the wine of her lips, with the perfume of her exquisite
youth. "I will make you happy. We shall be mad
with happiness."

She gently freed herself. "I don't believe I could
ever think of you in that way."

"Yes, darling--you will. You can't help loving
where you are loved so utterly."

She gazed at him wonderingly--the puzzled wonder
of a child. "You--love--me?" she said slowly.

"Call it what you like. I am mad about you. I
have forgotten everything--pride--position--things
you can't imagine--and I care for nothing but you."

And again he was kissing her with the soft fury of
fire; and again she was submitting with the passive,
dazed expression that seemed to add to his passion. To
make her feel! To make her respond! He, whom so
many women had loved--women of position, of fame for
beauty, of social distinction or distinction as singers,
players--women of society and women of talent all
kinds of worth-while women--they had cared, had run
after him, had given freely all he had asked and more.
And this girl--nobody at all--she had nothing for him.

He held her away from him, cried angrily: "What
is the matter with you? What is the matter with me?"

"I don't understand," she said. "I wish you
wouldn't kiss me so much."

He released her, laughed satirically. "Oh--you are
playing a game. I might have known."

"I don't understand," said she. "A while ago you
said you loved me. Now you act as if you didn't like
me at all." And she smiled gayly at him, pouting her
lips a little. Once more her beauty was shining. It
made his nerves quiver to see the color in her pure
white skin where he had kissed her.

"I don't care whether it is a game or not," he
cried. And he was about to seize her again, when she
repulsed him. He crushed her resistance, held her
tight in his arms.

"You frighten me," she murmured. "You--hurt

He released her. "What do you want?" he cried.
"Don't you care at all?"

"Oh, yes. I like you--very much. I have from
the first time I saw you. But you seem older--and
more serious."

"Never mind about that. We are going to love
each other--and I am going to make you and your
father happy."

"If you make father happy I will do anything for
you. I don't want anything myself--but he is getting
old and sometimes his despair is terrible." There were
tears in her voice--tears and the most touching tenderness.
"He has some great secret that he wants to discover,
and he is afraid he will die without having had
the chance."

"You will love me if I make your father happy?"

He knew it was the question of a fool, but he so
longed to hear from her lips some word to give him
hope that he could not help asking it. She said:

"Love you as--as you seem to love me? Not that
same way. I don't feel that way toward you. But I
will love you in my own way."

He observed her with penetrating eyes. Was this
speech of hers innocence or calculation? He could get
no clue to the truth. He saw nothing but innocence;
the teaching of experience warned him to believe in
nothing but guile. He hid his doubt and chagrin behind
a mocking smile. "As you please," said he. "I
will do my part. Then--we'll see. . . . Do you care
about anyone else--in MY way of loving, I mean?"

It was again the question of an infatuated fool, and
put in an infatuated fool's way. For, if she were a "deep
one," how could he hope to get the truth? But her
answer reassured him. "No," she said--her simple,
direct negation that had a convincing power he had
never seen equaled.

"If I ever knew of another man's touching you,"
he said, "I'd feel like strangling him." He laughed
at himself. "Not that I should strangle him. That
sort of thing isn't done any more. But I'd do
something devilish."

"But I haven't promised not to kiss anyone else,"
she said. "Why should I? I don't love you."

He looked at her strangely. "But you're going to
love me," he said.

She shrank within herself again. She looked at him
with uneasy eyes. "You won't kiss me any more until
I tell you that I do love you?" she asked with the
gravity and pathos and helplessness of a child.

"Don't you want to learn to love me?--to learn to

She was silent--a silence that maddened him.

"Don't be afraid to speak," he said irritably.
"What are you thinking?"

"That I don't want you to kiss me--and that I do
want father to be happy."

Was this guile? Was it innocence? He put his
arms round her. "Look at me," he said.

She gazed at him frankly.

"You like me?"


"Why don't you want me to kiss you?"

"I don't know. It makes me--dislike you."

He released her. She laid her hand on his arm
eagerly. "Please--" she implored. "I don't mean
to hurt you. I wouldn't offend you for anything. Only
--when you ask me a question--mustn't I tell you the

"Always," he said, believing in her, in spite of the
warnings of cynical worldliness. "I don't know whether
you are sincere or not--as yet. So for the present
I'll give you the benefit of the doubt." He stood back
and looked at her from head to foot. "You are beautiful!--
perfect," he said in a low voice. He laughed.
"I'll resist the temptation to kiss you again. I must
go now. About your father--I'll see what can be done."

She stood with her hands behind her back, looking
up at him with an expression he could not fathom. Suddenly
she advanced, put up her lips and said gravely,

"Won't you kiss me?"

He eyed her quizzically. "Oh--you've changed
your mind? "

She shook her head.

"Then why do you ask me to kiss you? "

"Because of what you said about father."

He laughed and kissed her. And then she, too,
laughed. He said, "Not for my own sake--not a little

"Oh, yes," she cried, "when you kiss me that way.
I like to be kissed. I am very affectionate."

He laughed again. "You ARE a queer one. If it's
a game, it's a good one. Is it a game?"

"I don't know," said she gayly. "Good night.
This is dreadfully late for me."

"Good night," he said, and they shook hands. "Do
you like me better--or less?"

"Better," was her prompt, apparently honest reply.

"Curiously enough, I'm beginning to LIKE you,"
said he. "Now don't ask me what I mean by that.
If you don't know already, you'll not find out from me."

"Oh, but I do know," cried she. "The way you
kissed me--that was one thing. The way you feel
toward me now--that's a different thing. Isn't it so?"

"Exactly. I see we are going to get on."

"Yes, indeed."

They shook hands again in friendliest fashion, and
she opened the front door for him. And her farewell
smile was bright and happy.


IN the cold clear open he proceeded to take the
usual account of stock--with dismal results. She had
wound him round her fingers, had made him say only
the things he should not have said, and leave unsaid
the things that might have furthered his purposes. He
had conducted the affair ridiculously--"just what is
to be expected of an infatuated fool." However, there
was no consolation in the discovery that he was reduced,
after all these years of experience, to the common level
--man weak and credulous in his dealings with woman.
He hoped that his disgust with himself would lead on
to disgust, or, rather, distaste for her. It is the primal
instinct of vanity to dislike and to shun those who have
witnessed its humiliation.

"I believe I am coming to my senses," he said. And
he ventured to call her up before him for examination
and criticism. This as he stood upon the forward deck
of the ferry with the magnificent panorama of New
York before him. New York! And he, of its strong
men, of the few in all that multitude who had rank
and power--he who had won as his promised wife the
daughter of one of the dozen mighty ones of the nation!
What an ill-timed, what an absurd, what a crazy step-
down this excursion of his! And for what? There he
summoned her before him. And at the first glance of his
fancy at her fair sweet face and lovely figure, he quailed.
He was hearing her voice again. He was feeling the
yield of her smooth, round form to his embrace, the
yield of her smooth white cheek to his caress. In his
nostrils was the fragrance of her youth, the matchless
perfume of nature, beyond any of the distillations of
art in its appeal to his normal and healthy nerves. And
he burned with the fire only she could quench. "I must
--I must.--My God, I MUST!" he muttered.

When he reached home, he asked whether his sister
was in. The butler said that Mrs. Fitzhugh had just
come from the theater. In search of her, he went to the
library, found her seated there with a book and a
cigarette, her wrap thrown back upon her chair.
"Come out to supper with me, Ursula," he said. "I'm
starved and bored."

"Why, you're not dressed!" exclaimed his sister.
"I thought you were at the Cameron dance with

"Had to cut it out," replied he curtly. "Will
you come?"

"I can't eat, but I'll drink. Yes, let's have a spree.
It's been years since we had one--not since we were
poor. Let's not go to a DEADLY respectable place. Let's
go where there are some of the other kind, too."

"But I must have food. Why not the Martin?"

"That'll do--though I'd prefer something a little
farther up Broadway."

"The Martin is gay enough. The truth is, there's
nothing really gay any more. There's too much money.
Money suffocates gayety."

To the Martin they went, and he ordered an enormous
supper--one of those incredible meals for which
he was famous. They dispatched a quart of champagne
before the supper began to come, he drinking at least
two thirds of it. He drank as much while he was eating
--and called for a third bottle when the coffee was
served. He had eaten half a dozen big oysters, a whole
guinea hen, a whole portion of salad, another of Boniface
cheese, with innumerable crackers.

"If I could eat as you do!" sighed Ursula
enviously. "Yet it's only one of your accomplishments."

"I'm not eating much nowadays," said he gloomily.
"I'm losing my appetite." And he lit a long black
cigar and swallowed half a large glass of the champagne.
"Nothing tastes good--not even champagne."

"There IS something wrong with you," said Ursula.
"Did you ask me out for confidences, or for advice--
or for both?"

"None of them," replied he. "Only for company.
I knew I'd not be able to sleep for hours, and I wanted
to put off the time when I'd be alone."

"I wish I had as much influence with you as you
have with me," said Ursula, by way of preparation for

"Influence? Don't I do whatever you say?"

She laughed. "Nobody has influence over you,"
she said.

"Not even myself," replied he morosely.

"Well--that talking-to you gave me has had its
effect," proceeded Mrs. Fitzhugh. "It set me to
thinking. There are other things besides love--man and
woman love. I've decided to--to behave myself and give
poor Clayton a chance to rest." She smiled, a little
maliciously. "He's had a horrible fright. But it's
over now. What a fine thing it is for a woman to have
a sensible brother!"

Norman grunted, took another liberal draught of
the champagne.

"If I had a mind like yours!" pursued Ursula.
"Now, you simply couldn't make a fool of yourself."

He looked at her sharply. He felt as if she had
somehow got wind of his eccentric doings.

"I've always resented your rather contemptuous
attitude toward women," she went on. "But you are
right--really you are. We're none of us worth the
excitement men make about us."

"It isn't the woman who makes a fool of the man,"
said Norman. "It's the man who makes a fool of himself.
A match can cause a terrific explosion if it's in the
right place--but not if it isn't."

She nodded. "That's it. We're simply matches--
and most of us of the poor sputtering kind that burns
with a bad odor and goes out right away. A very
inferior quality of matches."

"Yes," repeated Norman, "it's the man who does
the whole business."

A mocking smile curled her lips. "I knew you
weren't in love with Josephine."

He stared gloomily at his cigar.

"But you're going to marry her?"

"I'm in love with her," he said angrily. "And
I'm going to marry her."

She eyed him shrewdly. "Fred--are you in love
with some one else?"

He did not answer immediately. When he did it was
with a "No" that seemed the more emphatic for the

"Oh, just one of your little affairs." And she
began to poke fun at him. "I thought you had dropped
that sort of thing for good and all. I hope Josie
won't hear of it. She'd not understand. Women never
do--unless they don't care a rap about the man. . . .
Is she on the stage? I know you'll not tell me, but
I like to ask."

Her brother looked at her rather wildly. "Let's
go home," he said. He was astounded and alarmed by
the discovery that his infatuation had whirled him to
the lunacy of longing to confide--and he feared lest, if
he should stay on, he would blurt out his disgraceful
secret. "Waiter, the bill."

"Don't let's go yet," urged his sister. "The most
interesting people are beginning to come. Besides, I
want more champagne."

He yielded. While she gazed round with the air
of a visitor to a Zoo that is affected by fashionable
people, and commented on the faces, figures, and clothes
of the women, he stared at his plate and smoked and
drank. Finally she said, "I'd give anything to see you
make a fool of yourself, just once."

He grinned. "Things are in the way to having
your wish gratified," he said. "It looks to me as if
my time had come."

She tried to conceal her anxiety. "Are you
serious?" she asked. Then added: "Of course not. You
simply couldn't. Especially now--when Josephine
might hear. I suppose you've noticed how Joe Culver
is hanging round her?"

He nodded.

"There's no danger--unless----"

"I shall marry Josephine."

"Not if she hears."

"She's not going to hear."

"Don't be too sure. Women love to boast. It
tickles their vanity to have a man. Yes, they pretend
to be madly in love simply to give themselves the excuse
for tattling."

"She'll not hear."

"You can't be sure."

"I want you to help me out. I'm going to tell her
I'm tremendously busy these few next days--or weeks."

"Weeks!" Ursula Fitzhugh laughed. "My, it
must be serious!"

"Weeks," repeated her brother. "And I want you
to say things that'll help out--and to see a good deal
of her." He flung down his cigar. "You women don't
understand how it is with a man."

"Don't we though! Why, it's a very ordinary
occurrence for a woman to be really in love with several
men at once."

His eyes gleamed jealously. "I don't believe it,"
he cried.

"Not Josephine," she said reassuringly. "She's
one of those single-hearted, untemperamental women.
They concentrate. They have no imagination."

"I wasn't thinking of Josephine," said he sullenly.
"To go back to what I was saying, I am in love with
Josephine and with no one else. I can't explain to
you how or why I'm entangled. But I'll get myself
untangled all right--and very shortly."

"I know that, Fred. You aren't the permanent-
damn-fool sort."

"I should say not!" exclaimed he. "It's a hopeful
sign that I know exactly how big a fool I am."

She shook her head in strong dissent. "On the con-
trary," said she, "it's a bad sign. I didn't realize
I was making a fool of myself until you pointed it out
to me. That stopped me. If I had been doing it with
my eyes open, your jacking me up would only have
made me go ahead."

"A woman's different. It doesn't take much to stop
a woman. She's about half stopped when she begins."

Ursula was thoroughly alarmed. "Fred," she said
earnestly, "you're running bang into danger. The
time to stop is right now."

"Can't do it," he said. "Let's not talk about it."

"Can't? That word from YOU?"

"From me," replied he. "Don't forget helping out
with Josephine. Let's go."

And he refused to be persuaded to stay on--or to
be cajoled or baited into talking further of this secret
his sister saw was weighing heavily.

He was down town half an hour earlier than usual
the next morning. But no one noted it because his
habit had always been to arrive among the first--not
to set an example but to give his prodigious industry
the fullest swing. There was in Turkey a great poet
of whom it is said that he must have written twenty-
five hours a day. Norman's accomplishment bulked in
that same way before his associates. He had not slept
the whole night. But, thanks to his enormous vitality,
no trace of this serious dissipation showed. The huge
supper he had eaten--and drunk--the sleepless night
and the giant breakfast of fruit and cereal and chops
and wheat cakes and coffee he had laid in to stay him
until lunch time, would together have given pause to
any but such a physical organization as his. The only
evidence of it was a certain slight irritability--but this
may have been due to his state of intense self-dissatisfaction.

As he entered the main room his glance sought the
corner where Miss Hallowell was ensconced. She
happened to look up at that instant. With a radiant smile
she bowed to him in friendliest fashion. He colored
deeply, frowned with annoyance, bowed coldly and strode
into his room. He fussed and fretted about with his
papers for a few minutes, then rang the bell.

"Send in Miss Pritchard--no, Mr. Gowdy--no,
Miss Hallowell," he said to the office boy. And then he
looked sharply at the pert young face for possible
signs of secret cynical amusement. He saw none such,
but was not convinced. He knew too well how by a
sort of occult process the servants, all the subordinates,
round a person like himself discover the most intimate
secrets, almost get the news before anything has really

Miss Hallowell appeared, and very cold and reserved
she looked as she stood waiting.

"I sent for you because--" he began. He glanced
at the door to make sure that it was closed--" because
I wanted to hear your voice." And he laughed
boyishly. He was in high good humor now.

"Why did you speak to me as you did when you
came in?" said she.

There was certainly novelty in this direct attack,
this equal to equal criticism of his manners. He was
not pleased with the novelty; but at the same time he
felt a lack of the courage to answer her as she deserved,
even if she was playing a clever game. "It isn't necessary
that the whole office should know our private business,"
said he.

She seemed astonished. "What private business?"

"Last night," said he, uncertain whether she was
trifling with him or was really the innocent she pretended
to be. "If I were you, I'd not speak as friendlily
as you did this morning--not before people."

"Why?" inquired she, her sweet young face still
more perplexed.

"This isn't a small town out West," explained he.
"It's New York. People misunderstand--or rather--"
He gave her a laughing, mischievous glance--"or
rather--they don't."

"I can't see anything to make a mystery about,"
declared the girl. "Why, you act as if there were
something to be ashamed of in coming to see me."

He was observing her sharply. How could a girl
live in the New York atmosphere several years without
getting a sensible point of view? Yet, so far as he
could judge, this girl was perfectly honest in her
ignorance. "Don't be foolish," said he. "Please accept the
fact as I give it to you. You mustn't let people see

She made no attempt to conceal her dislike for this.
"I won't be mixed up in anything like that," said she,
quite gently and without a suggestion of pique or anger.
"It makes me feel low--and it's horribly common.
Either we are going to be friends or we aren't. And
if we are, why, we're friends whenever we meet. I'm
not ashamed of you. And if you are ashamed of me,
you can cut me out altogether."

His color deepened until his face was crimson. His
eyes avoided hers. "I was thinking chiefly of you," he
said--and he honestly thought he was speaking the
whole truth.

"Then please don't do so any more," said she, turning
to go. "I understand about New York snobbishness.
I want nothing to do with it."

He disregarded the danger of the door being opened
at any moment. He rushed to her and took her reluctant
hand. "You mustn't blame me for the ways of
the world. I can't change them. Do be sensible,
dearest. You're only going to be here a few days longer.
I've got that plan for you and your father all thought
out. I'll put it through at once. I don't want the
office talking scandal about us--do you?"

She looked at him pityingly. His eyes fell before
hers. "I know it's a weakness," he said, giving up
trying to deceive her and himself. "But I can't help
it. I was brought up that way."

"Well--I wasn't. I see we can never be friends."

What a mess he had made of this affair! This girl
must be playing upon him. In his folly he had let her
see how completely he was in her power, and she was
using that power to establish relations between them
that were the very opposite of what he desired--and
must have. He must control himself. "As you please,"
he said coldly, dropping her hand. "I'm sorry, but
unless you are reasonable I can do nothing for you."
And he went to his desk.

She hesitated a moment; as her back was toward
him, he could not see her expression. Without looking
round she went out of his office. It took all his
strength to let her go. "She's bluffing," he muttered.
"And yet--perhaps she isn't. There may be people
like that left in New York." Whatever the truth, he
simply must make a stand. He knew women; no woman
had the least respect for a man who let her rule--and
this woman, relying upon his weakness for her, was bent
upon ruling. If he did not make a stand, she was lost
to him. If he did make a stand, he could no more than
lose her. Lose her! That thought made him sick at
heart. "What a fool I am about her!" he cried. "I
must hurry things up. I must get enough of her--
must get through it and back to my sober senses."

That was a time of heavy pressure of important
affairs. He furiously attacked one task after another,
only to abandon each in turn. His mind, which had
always been his obedient, very humble servant, absolutely
refused to obey. He turned everything over to
his associates or to subordinates, fighting all morning
against the longing to send for her. At half past
twelve he strode out of the office, putting on the air
of the big man absorbed in big affairs. He descended
to the street. But instead of going up town to keep
an appointment at a business lunch he hung round the
entrance to the opposite building.

She did not appear until one o'clock. Then out she
came--with the head office boy!--the good-looking,
young head office boy.

Norman's contempt for himself there reached its
lowest ebb. For his blood boiled with jealousy--
jealousy of his head office boy!--and about an obscure little
typewriter! He followed the two, keeping to the other
side of the street. Doubtless those who saw and
recognized him fancied him deep in thought about some
mighty problem of corporate law or policy, as he moved
from and to some meeting with the great men who
dictated to a nation of ninety millions what they should
buy and how much they should pay for it. He saw the
two enter a quick-lunch restaurant--struggled with a
crack-brained impulse to join them--dragged himself
away to his appointment.

He was never too amiable in dealing with his clients,
because he had found that, in self-protection, to avoid
being misunderstood and largely increasing the difficulties
of amicable intercourse, he must keep the feel of
iron very near the surface. That day he was for the
first time irascible. If the business his clients were
engaged in had been less perilous and his acute intelligence
not indispensable, he would have cost the firm dear. But
in business circles, where every consideration yields to
that of material gain, the man with the brain may
conduct himself as he pleases--and usually does so,
when he has strength of character.

All afternoon he wrestled with himself to keep away
from the office. He won, but it was the sort of victory
that gives the winner the chagrin and despondency of
defeat. At home, late in the afternoon, he found Josephine
in the doorway, just leaving. "You'll walk home
with me--won't you?" she said. And, taken unawares
and intimidated by guilt, he could think of no excuse.

Some one--probably a Frenchman--has said that
there are always in a man's life three women--the one
on the way out, the one that is, and the one that is to
be. Norman--ever the industrious trafficker with the
feminine that the man of the intense vitality necessary
to a great career of action is apt to be--was by no
means new to the situation in which he now found
himself. But never before had the circumstances been so
difficult. Josephine in no way resembled any woman
with whom he had been involved; she was the first he
had taken seriously. Nor did the other woman resemble
the central figure in any of his affairs. He did not
know what she was like, how to classify her; but he
did know that she was unlike any woman he had ever
known and that his feeling for her was different--
appallingly different--from any emotion any other woman
had inspired in him. So--a walk alone with Josephine--
a first talk with her after his secret treachery--
was no light matter. "Deeper and deeper," he said to
himself. "Where is this going to end?"

She began by sympathizing with him for having so
much to do--"and father says you can get through
more work than any man he ever knew, not excluding
himself." She was full of tenderness and compliment,
of a kind of love that made him feel as the dirt beneath
his feet. She respected him so highly; she believed
in him so entirely. The thought of her discovering the
truth, or any part of it, gave him a sensation of nausea.
He was watching her out of the corner of his eye. Never
had he seen her more statelily beautiful. If he should
lose her!" I'm mad--MAD!" he said to himself.

"Josephine is as high above her as heaven above earth.
What is there to her, anyhow? Not brains--nor taste
--nor such miraculous beauty. Why do I make an ass
of myself about her? I ought to go to my doctor."

"I don't believe you're listening to what I'm saying,"
laughed Josephine.

"My head's in a terrible state," replied he. "I
can't think of anything."

"Don't try to talk or to listen, dearest," said she
in the sweet and soothing tone that is neither sweet nor
soothing to a man in a certain species of unresponsive
mood. "This air will do you good. It doesn't annoy
you for me to talk to you, does it?"

The question was one of those which confidently
expects, even demands, a sincere and strenuous negative
for answer. It fretted him, this matter-of-course
assumption of hers that she could not but be altogether
pleasing, not to say enchanting to him. Her position,
her wealth, the attentions she had received, the
flatteries-- In her circumstances could it be in human
nature not to think extremely well of oneself? And he
admitted that she had the right so to think. Still--
For the first time she scraped upon his nerves. His
reply, "Annoy me? The contrary," was distinctly
crisp. To an experienced ear there would have sounded
the faint warning under-note of sullenness.

But she, believing in his love and in herself, saw
nothing, suspected nothing. "We know each other so
thoroughly," she went on, "that we don't need to make
any effort. How congenial we are! I always understand
you. I feel such a sense of the perfect freedom
and perfect frankness between us. Don't you?"

"You have wonderful intuitions," said he.

It was the time to alarm him by coldness, by capr-
ciousness. But how could she know it? And she was
in love--really in love--not with herself, not with love,
but with him. Thus, she made the mistake of all true
lovers in those difficult moments. She let him see how
absolutely she was his. Nor did the spectacle of her
sincerity, of her belief in his sincerity put him in any
better humor with himself.

The walk was a mere matter of a dozen blocks. He
thought it would never end. "You are sure you aren't
ill?" she said, when they were at her door--a superb
bronze door it was, opening into a house of the splendor
that for the acclimated New Yorker quite conceals and
more than compensates absence of individual taste.
"You don't look ill. But you act queerly."

"I'm often this way when they drive me too hard
down town."

She looked at him with fond admiration; he might
have been better pleased had there not been in the look
a suggestion of the possessive. "How they do need
you! Father says-- But I mustn't make you any
vainer than you are."

He usually loved compliment, could take it in its
rawest form with fine human gusto. Now, he did not
care enough about that "father says" to rise to her
obvious bait. "I'm horribly tired," he said. "Shall
I see you to-morrow? No, I guess not--not for several
days. You understand?"

"Perfectly," replied she. "I'll miss you dreadfully,
but my father has trained me well. I know I mustn't
be selfish--and tempt you to neglect things."

"Thank you," said he. "I must be off."

"You'll come in--just a moment?" Her eyes
sparkled. "The butler will have sense enough to go
straight away--and the small reception room will be
quite empty as usual."

He could not escape. A few seconds and he was
alone with her in the little room--how often had he--
they--been glad of its quiet and seclusion on such
occasions! She laid her hand upon his shoulders, gazed
at him proudly. "It was here," said she, "that you
first kissed me. Do you remember?"

To take her gaze from his face and to avoid seeing
her look of loving trust, he put his arms round her.
"I don't deserve you," he said--one of those empty
pretenses of confession that yet give the human soul a
sense of truthfulness.

"You'd not say that if you knew how happy you
make me," murmured she.

The welcome sound of a step in the hall give him
his release. When he was in the street, he wiped his hot
face with his handkerchief. "And I thought I had no
moral sense left!" he reflected--not the first man, in
this climax day of the triumph of selfish philosophies,
to be astonished by the discovery that the dead hands
of heredity and tradition have a power that can
successfully defy reason.

He started to walk back home, on impulse took a
passing taxi and went to his club. It was the Federal.
They said of it that no man who amounted to anything
in New York could be elected a member, because any
man on his way up could not but offend one or more of
the important persons in control. Most of its members
were nominated at birth or in childhood and elected as
soon as they were twenty-one. Norman was elected
after he became a man of consequence. He regarded it
as one of the signal triumphs of his career; and beyond
question it was proof of his power, of the eagerness of
important men, despite their jealousy, to please him and
to be in a position to get the benefit of his brains should
need arise. Norman's whole career, like every career
great and small, in the arena of action, was a derision
of the ancient moralities, a demonstration of the value
of fear as an aid to success. Even his friends--and he
had as many as he cared to have--had been drawn to
him by the desire to placate him, to stand well where
there was danger in standing ill.

Until dinner time he stood at the club bar, drinking
one cocktail after another with that supreme
indifference to consequences to health which made his
fellow men gape and wonder--and cost an occasional
imitator health, and perhaps life. Nor did the powerful
liquor have the least effect upon him, apparently. Possibly
he was in a better humor, but not noticeably so.
He dined at the club and spent the evening at bridge,
winning several hundred dollars. He enjoyed the
consideration he received at that club, for his fellow
members being men of both social and financial consequence,
their conspicuous respect for him was a concentrated
essence of general adulation. He lingered on, eating
a great supper with real appetite. He went home in
high good humor with himself. He felt that he was a
conqueror born, that such things of his desire as did
not come could be forced to come. He no longer
regarded his passion for the nebulous girl of many
personalities as a descent from dignity. Was he not king?
Did not his favor give her whatever rank he pleased?
Might not a king pick and choose, according to his
fancy? Let the smaller fry grow nervous about these
matters of caste. They did well to take care lest they
should fall. But not he! He had won thus far by
haughtiness, never by cringing. His mortal day would
be that in which he should abandon his natural tactics
for the modes of lesser men. True, only a strong head
could remain steady in these giddy altitudes of self-
confidence. But was not his head strong?

And without hesitation he called up the vision that
made him delirious-and detained it and reveled in it
until sleep came.


THE longer he thought of it the stronger grew his
doubt that the little Hallowell girl could be so indifferent
to him as she seemed. Not that she was a fraud--
that is, a conscious fraud--even so much of a fraud as
the sincerest of the other women he had known. Simply
that she was carrying out a scheme of coquetry. Could
it be in human nature, even in the nature of the most
indiscriminating of the specimens of young feminine
ignorance and folly, not to be flattered by the favor of
such a man as he? Common sense answered that it could
not be--but neglected to point out to him that almost
any vagary might be expected of human nature, when it
could produce such a deviation from the recognized
types as a man of his position agitated about such an
unsought obscurity as Miss Hallowell. He continued
to debate the state of her mind as if it were an affair
of mightiest moment--which, indeed, it was to him. And
presently his doubt strengthened into conviction. She
must be secretly pleased, flattered, responsive. She had
been in the office long enough to be impressed by his
position. Yes, there must be more or less pretense in her
apparently complete indifference--more or less pretense,
more or less coquetry, probably not a little timidity.

She would come down from her high horse--with
help and encouragement from him. He was impatient to
get to the office and see just how she would do it--
what absurd, amusing attractive child's trick she would
think out, imagining she could fool him, as lesser
intelligences are ever fatuously imagining they can outwit

He rather thought she would come in to see him on
some pretext, would maneuver round like a bird
pretending to flutter away from the trap it has every
intention of entering. But eleven o'clock of a wasted
morning came and she did not appear. He went out to see if
she was there--she must be sick; she could not be there
or he would have heard from her. . . . Yes, she was at
her desk, exactly as always. No, not exactly the same.
She was obviously attractive now; the air of insignificance
had gone, and not the dullest eyes in that office
could fail to see at least something of her beauty.
And Tetlow was hanging over her, while the girls and
boys grinned and whispered. Clearly, the office was
"on to" Tetlow. . . . Norman, erect and coldly
infuriate, called out:

"Mr. Tetlow--one moment, please."

He went back to his den, Tetlow startling and
following like one on the way to the bar for sentence.
"Mr. Tetlow," he said, when they were shut in to-
gether, "you are making a fool of yourself before the
whole office."

"Be a little patient with me, Mr. Norman," said the
head clerk humbly. "I've got another place for her.
She's going to take it to-morrow. Then--there'll be
no more trouble."

Norman paled. "She wishes to leave?" he
contrived to articulate.

"She spoke to me about leaving before I told her
I had found her another job."

Norman debated--but for only a moment. "I do
not wish her to leave," he said coldly. "I find her
useful and most trustworthy."

Tetlow's eyes were fixed strangely upon him.

"What's the matter with you?" asked Norman, the
under-note of danger but thinly covered.

"Then she was right," said Tetlow slowly. "I
thought she was mistaken. I see that she is right."

"What do you mean?" said Norman--a mere
inquiry, devoid of bluster or any other form of

"You know very well what I mean, Fred Norman,"
said Tetlow. "And you ought to be ashamed of yourself."

"Don't stand there scowling and grimacing like
an idiot," said Norman with an amused smile. "What
do you mean?"

"She told me--about your coming to see her--
about your offer to do something for her father--about
your acting in a way that made her uneasy."

For an instant Norman was panic-stricken. Then
his estimate of her reassured him. "I took your
advice," said he. "I went to see for myself. How did
I act that she was made uneasy?"

"She didn't say. But a woman can tell what a man
has in the back of his head--when it concerns her. And
she is a good woman--so innocent that you ought to be
ashamed of yourself for even thinking of her in that
way. God has given innocence instincts, and she felt
what you were about."

Norman laughed--a deliberate provocation. "Love
has made a fool of you, old man," he said.

"I notice you don't deny," retorted Tetlow

"Deny what? There's nothing to deny." He felt
secure now that he knew she had been reticent with
Tetlow as to the happenings in the cottage.

"Maybe I'm wronging you," said Tetlow, but not
in the tone of belief. "However that may be, I know
you'll not refuse to listen to my appeal. I love her,
Norman. I'm going to make her my wife if I can.
And I ask you--for the sake of our old friendship--
to let her alone. I've no doubt you could dazzle her.
You couldn't make a bad woman of her. But you
could make her very miserable."

Norman pushed about the papers before him. His
face wore a cynical smile; but Tetlow, who knew him
in all his moods, saw that he was deeply agitated.

"I don't know that I can win her, Fred," he pleaded.
"But I feel that I might if I had a fair chance."

"You think she'd refuse YOU?" said Norman.

"Like a flash, unless I'd made her care for me.
That's the kind she is."

"That sounds absurd. Why, there isn't a woman
in New York who would refuse a chance to take a high
jump up."

"I'd have said so, too. But since I've gotten
acquainted with her I've learned better. She may be
spoiled some day, but she hasn't been yet. God knows,
I wish I could tempt her. But I can't."

"You're entirely too credulous, old man. She'll
make a fool of you."

"I know better," Tetlow stubbornly maintained.
"Anyhow, I don't care. I love her, and I'd marry her,
no matter what her reason for marrying me was."

What pitiful infatuation!--worse than his own.
Poor Tetlow!--he deserved a better fate than to be
drawn into this girl's trap--for, of course, she never
could care for such a heavy citizen--heavy and homely
--the loosely fat kind of homely that is admired by no
one, not even by a woman with no eye at all for the
physical points of the male. It would be a real kindness
to save worthy Tetlow. What a fool she'd make
of him!--how she'd squander his money--and torment
him with jealousy--and unfit him for his career. Poor
Tetlow! If he could get what he wanted, he'd be well
punished for his imprudence in wanting it. Really,
could friendship do him a greater service than to save

Norman gave Tetlow a friendly, humorous glance.
"You're a hopeless case, Billy," he said. "But at
least don't rush into trouble. Take your time. You
can always get in, you know; and you may not get
in quite so deep."

"You promise to let her alone?" said Tetlow

Again his distinguished friend laughed. "Don't
be an ass, old man. Why imagine that, just because
you've taken a fancy to a girl, everyone wants her?"
He clapped him on the shoulder, gave him a push
toward the door. "I've wasted enough time on this

Tetlow did not venture to disregard a hint so plain.
He went with his doubt still unsolved--his doubt whether
his jealousy was right or his high opinion of his
hero friend whose series of ever-mounting successes had
filled him with adoration. He knew the way of success,
knew no man could tread it unless he had, or acquired,
a certain hardness of heart that made him an uncomfortable
not to say dangerous associate. He regretted
his own inability to acquire that indispensable hardness,
and envied and admired it in Fred Norman. But, at
the same time that he admired, he could not help distrusting.

Norman battled with his insanity an hour, then sent
for Miss Hallowell.

The girl had lost her look of strength and vitality.
She seemed frail and dim--so unimportant physically
that he wondered why her charm for him persisted.
Yet it did persist. If he could take her in his arms,
could make her drooping beauty revive!--through love
for him if possible; if not, then through anger and
hate! He must make her feel, must make her acknowledge,
that he had power. It seemed to him another
instance of the resistless fascination which the
unattainable, however unworthy, has ever had for the
conqueror temperament.

"You are leaving?" he said curtly, both a question
and an affirmation.


"You are making a mistake--a serious mistake."

She stood before him listlessly, as if she had no
interest either in what he was saying or in him. That
maddening indifference!

"It was a mistake to tattle your trouble to Tetlow."

"I did not tattle," said she quietly, colorlessly. "I
said only enough to make him help me."

"And what did he say about me?"

"That I had misjudged you--that I must be mistaken."

Norman laughed. "How seriously the little people
of the world do take themselves!"

She looked at him. His amused eyes met hers
frankly. "You didn't mean it?" she said.

He beamed on her. "Certainly I did. But I'm
not a lunatic or a wild beast. Do you think I would
take advantage of a girl in your position?"

Her eyes seemed to grow large and weary, and an
expression of experience stole over her young face,
giving it a strange appearance of age-in-youth. "It has
been done," said she.

How reconcile such a look with the theory of her
childlike innocence? But then how reconcile any two
of the many varied personalities he had seen in her?
He said: "Yes--it has been done. But not by me.
I shall take from you only what you gladly give."

"You will get nothing else," said she with quiet

"That being settled--" he went on, holding up a
small package of papers bound together by an elastic--
"Here are the proposed articles of incorporation of
the Chemical Research Company. How do you like
the name?"

"What is it?"

"The company that is to back your father. Capital
stock, twenty-five thousand dollars, one half paid
up. Your father to be employed as director of the
laboratories at five thousand a year, with a fund of
ten thousand to draw upon. You to be employed as
secretary and treasurer at fifteen hundred a year. I
will take the paid-up stock, and your father and you
will have the privilege of buying it back at par within
five years. Do you follow me?"

"I think I understand," was her unexpected reply.
Her replies were usually unexpected, like the expressions
of her face and figure; she was continually
comprehending where one would have said she would not,
and not comprehending where it seemed absurd that
she should not. "Yes, I understand. . . . What else?"

"Nothing else."

She looked intently at him, and her eyes seemed to
be reading his soul to the bottom.

"Nothing else," he repeated.

"No obligation--for money--or--for anything?"

"No obligation. A hope perhaps." He was smiling
with the gayest good humor. "But not the kind
of hope that ever becomes a disagreeable demand for

She seated herself, her hands in her lap, her eyes
down--a lovely picture of pensive repose. He waited
patiently, feasting his senses upon her delicate,
aromatic loveliness. At last she said:

"I accept."

He had anticipated an argument. This promptness
took him by surprise. He felt called upon to explain,
to excuse her acceptance. "I am taking a little flyer
--making a gamble," said he. "Your father may turn
up nothing of commercial value. Again the company
may pay big----"

She gave him a long look through half-closed eyes,
a queer smile flitting round her lips. "I understand
perfectly why you are doing it," she said. "Do you
understand why I am accepting?"

"Why should you refuse?" rejoined he. "It is a
good business prop----"

"You know very well why I should refuse. But--"
She gave a quiet laugh of experience; it made him feel
that she was making a fool of him--"I shall not refuse.
I am able to take care of myself. And I want father
to have his chance. Of course, I shan't explain to him."
She gave him a mischievous glance. "And I don't think
YOU will."

He contrived to cover his anger, doubt, chagrin,
general feeling of having been outwitted. "No, I shan't
tell him," laughed he. "You are making a great fool
of me."

"Do you want to back out?"

What audacity! He hesitated--did not dare. Her
indifference to him--her personal, her physical indifference
gave her the mastery. His teeth clenched and his
passion blazed in his eyes as he said: "No--you witch!
I'll see it through."

She smiled lightly. "I suppose you'll come to the
offices of the company--occasionally?" She drew
nearer, stood at the corner of the desk. Into her
exquisite eyes came a look of tenderness. "And I shall
be glad to see you."

"You mean that?" he said, despising himself for
his humble eagerness, and hating her even as he loved

"Indeed I do." She smiled bewitchingly. "You
are a lot better man than you think."

"I am an awful fool about you," retorted he. "You
see, I play my game with all my cards on the table. I
wish I could say the same of you."

"I am not playing a game," replied she. "You
make a mystery where there isn't any. And--all your
cards aren't on the table." She laughed mockingly.
"At least, you think there's one that isn't--though,
really, it is."


"About your engagement."

He covered superbly. "Oh," said he in the most
indifferent tone. "Tetlow told you."

"As soon as I heard that," she went on, "I felt
better about you. I understand how it is with men--
the passing fancies they have for women."

"How did you learn?" demanded he.

"Do you think a girl could spend several years
knocking about down town in New York without getting

He smiled--a forced smile of raillery, hiding sud-
den fierce suspicion and jealousy. "I should say not.
But you always pretend innocence."

"I can't be held responsible for what you read into
my looks and into what I say," observed she with her
air of a wise old infant. "But I was so glad to find
out that you were seriously in love with a nice girl up

He burst out laughing. She gazed at him in childlike
surprise. "Why are you laughing at me?" she

"Nothing--nothing," he assured her. He would
have found it difficult to explain why he was so intensely
amused at hearing the grand Josephine Burroughs
called "a nice girl up town."

"You are in love with her? You are engaged to
her?" she inquired, her grave eyes upon him with an
irresistible appeal for truth in them.

"Tetlow didn't lie to you," evaded he. "You don't
know it, but Tetlow is going to ask you to marry him."

"Yes, I knew," replied she indifferently.

"How? Did he tell you?"

"No. Just as I knew you were not going to ask
me to marry you."

The mere phrase, even when stated as a negation,
gave him a sensation of ice suddenly laid against the

"It's quite easy to tell the difference between the
two kinds of men--those that care for me more than
they care for themselves and those that care for
themselves more than they care for me."

"That's the way it looks to you--is it?"

"That's the way it is," said she.

"There are some things you don't understand. This
is one of them."

"Maybe I don't," said she. "But I've my own
idea--and I'm going to stick to it."

This amused him. "You are a very opinionated
and self-confident young lady," said he.

She laughed roguishly. "I'm taking up a lot of
your time."

"Don't think of it. You haven't asked when the
new deal is to begin."

"Oh, yes--and I shall have to tell Mr. Tetlow I'm
not taking the place he got for me."

"Be careful what you say to him," cautioned
Norman. "You must see it wouldn't be well to tell him
what you are going to do. There's no reason on earth
why he should know your business--is there?"

She did not reply; she was reflecting.

"You are not thinking of marrying Tetlow--are

"No," she said. "I don't love him--and couldn't
learn to."

With a sincerely judicial air, now that he felt
secure, he said: "Why not? It would be a good match."

"I don't love him," she repeated, as if that were a
sufficient and complete answer. And he was astonished
to find that he so regarded it, also, in spite of every
assault of all that his training had taught him to regard
as common sense about human nature.

"You can simply say to Tetlow that you've decided
to stay at home and take care of your father. The
offices of the company will be at your house. Your
official duties practically amount to taking care of your
father. So you'll be speaking the truth."

"Oh, it isn't exactly lying, to keep something from
somebody who has no right to know it. What you suggest
isn't quite the truth. But it's near enough, and
I'll say it to him."

His own view of lying was the same as that she
had expressed. Also, he had no squeamishness about
saying what was in no sense true, if the falsehood were
necessary to his purposes. Yet her statement of her
code, moral though he thought it and eminently sensible
as well, lowered her once more in his estimation. He
was eager to find reason or plausible excuse for believing
her morally other and less than she seemed to be.
Immediately the prospects of his ultimate projects--
whatever they might prove to be--took on a more hopeful
air. "And I'd advise you to have Tetlow keep away
from you. We don't want him nosing round."

"No, indeed," said she. "He is a nice man, but
tiresome. And if I encouraged him ever so little, he'd
be sentimental. The most tiresome thing in the world
to a girl is a man who talks that sort of thing when
she doesn't want to hear it--from him."

He laughed. "Meaning me?" he suggested.

She nodded, much pleased. "Perhaps," she replied.

"Don't worry about that," mocked he.

"I shan't till I have to," she assured him. "And
I don't think I'll have to."

On the Monday morning following, Tetlow came in
to see Norman as soon as he arrived. "I want a two
weeks' leave," he said. "I'm going to Bermuda or down
there somewhere."

"Why, what's the matter?" cried Norman. "You
do look ill, old man."

"I saw her last night," replied the chief clerk,
dropping an effort at concealing his dejection. "She
--she turned me down."

"Really? You?" Norman's tone of sympathetic
surprise would not have deceived half attentive ears.
But Tetlow was securely absorbed. "Why, Billy, she
can't hope to make as good a match."

"That's what I told her--when I saw the game was
going against me. But it was no use."

Norman trifled nervously with the papers before
him. Presently he said, "Is it some one else?"

Tetlow shook his head.

"How do you know?"

"Because she said so," replied the head clerk.

"Oh--if she said so, that settles it," said Norman
with raillery.

"She's given up work--thank God," pursued Tetlow.
"She's getting more beautiful all the time--
Norman, if you had seen her last night, you'd understand
why I'm stark mad about her."

Norman's eyes were down. His hands, the muscles
of his jaw were clinched.

"But, I mustn't think of that," Tetlow went on.
"As I was about to say, if she were to stay on in the
offices some one--some attractive man like you, only
with the heart of a scoundrel----"

Norman laughed cynically.

"Yes, a scoundrel!" reiterated the fat head-clerk.
"Some scoundrel would tempt her beyond her power to
resist. Money and clothes and luxury will do anything.
We all get to be harlots here in New York. Some of
us know it, and some don't. But we all look it and
act it. And she'd go the way of the rest--with or
without marriage. It's just as well she didn't marry
me. I know what'd have become of her."

Norman nodded.

Tetlow gave a weary sigh. "Anyhow, she's safe at
home with her father. He's found a backer for his

"That's good," said Norman.

"You can spare me for ten days," Tetlow went
on. "I'd be of no use if I stayed."

There was a depth of misery in his kind gray eyes
that moved Norman to get up and lay a friendly hand
on his shoulder. "It's the best thing, old man. She
wasn't for you."

Tetlow dropped into a chair and sobbed. "It has
killed me," he groaned. "I don't mean I'll commit
suicide or die. I mean I'm dead inside--dead."

"Oh, come, Billy--where's your good sense?"

"I know what I'm talking about," said he.
"Norman, God help the man who meets the woman he really
wants--God help him if she doesn't want him. You
don't understand. You'll never have the experience.
Any woman you wanted would be sure to want you."

Norman, his hand still on Tetlow's shoulder, was
staring ahead with a terrible expression upon his strong

"If she could see the inside of me--the part that's
the real me--I think she would love me--or learn to
love me. But she can only see the outside--this homely
face and body of mine. It's horrible, Fred--to have
a mind and a heart fit for love and for being loved,
and an outside that repels it. And how many of us
poor devils of that sort there are--men and women

Norman was at the window now, his back to the
room, to his friend. After a while Tetlow rose and
made a feeble effort to straighten himself. "Is it all
right about the vacation?" he asked.

"Certainly," said Norman, without turning.

"Thank you, Fred. You're a good friend."

"I'll see you before you go," said Norman, still
facing the window. "You'll come back all right."

Tetlow did not answer. When Norman turned he
was alone.


IN no way was Norman's luck superior to most
men's more splendidly than in that his inborn tendency
to arrogant and extravagant desires was matched by an
inborn capacity to get the necessary money. His
luxurious tastes were certainly not moderated by his
associations--enormously rich people who, while they
could be stingy enough in some respects, at the same
time could and did fling away fortunes in gratifying
selfish whims--for silly showy houses, for retinues of
wasteful servants, for gewgaws that accentuated the
homeliness of their homely women and coarsened and
vulgarized their pretty women--or perhaps for a
night's gambling or entertaining, or for the forced
smiles and contemptuous caresses of some belle of the
other world. Norman fortunately cared not at all for
the hugely expensive pomp of the life of the rich; if he
had, he would have hopelessly involved himself, as after
all he was not a money-grubber but a lawyer. But when
there appeared anything for which he did care, he was
ready to bid for it like the richest of the rich.

Therefore the investment of a few thousand dollars
seemed a small matter to him. He had many a time
tossed away far more for far less. He did not dole
out the sum he had agreed to provide. He paid it
into the Jersey City bank to the credit of the Chemical
Research Company and informed its secretary and treasurer
that she could draw freely against it. "If you
will read the by-laws of the company," said he, "you
will see that you've the right to spend exactly as you
see fit. When the money runs low, let me know."

"I'll be very careful," said Dorothea Hallowell,
secretary and treasurer.

"That's precisely what we don't want," replied he.
He glanced round the tiny parlor of the cottage. "We
want everything to be run in first-class shape. That's
the only way to get results. First of all, you must

Book of the day: