Part 4 out of 8
take a proper house--a good-sized one, with large
grounds--room for building your father a proper
Her dazed and dazzled expression delighted him.
"And you must live better. You must keep at
least two servants."
"But we can't afford it."
"Your father has five thousand a year. You have
fifteen hundred. That makes sixty-five hundred. The
rent of the house and the wages and keep of the servants
are a charge against the corporation. So, you can well
afford to make yourselves comfortable."
"I haven't got used to the idea as yet," said
Dorothea. "Yes--we ARE better off than we were."
"And you must live better. I want you to get
some clothes--and things of that sort."
She shrank within herself and sat quiet, her gaze
fixed upon her hands lying limp in her lap.
"There is no reason why your father shouldn't be
made absolutely comfortable and happy. That's the
way to get the best results from a man of his sort."
She faded on toward the self-effacing blank he had
"Think it out, Dorothy," he said in his frankest,
kindliest way. "You'll see I'm right."
"No," she said.
"No? What does that mean?"
"I've an instinct against it," replied she. "I'd
rather father and I kept on as we are."
"But that's impossible. You've no right to live in
this small, cramping way. You must broaden out and
give HIM room to grow. . . . Isn't that sensible? "
"It sounds so," she admitted. "But--" She gazed
round helplessly--"I'm afraid!"
"Afraid of what?"
"I don't know."
"Then don't bother about it."
"I'll have to be very--careful," she said thoughtfully.
"As you please," replied he. "Only, don't live and
think on a ten-dollar-a-week basis. That isn't the way
to get on."
He never again brought up the matter in direct
form. But most of his conversation was indirect and
more or less subtle suggestions as to ways of branching
out. She moved cautiously for a few days, then timidly
began to spend money.
There is a notion widely spread abroad that people
who have little money know more about the art of spending
money and the science of economizing than those
who have much. It would be about as sensible to say
that the best swimmers are those who have never been
near the water, or no nearer than a bath tub. Anyone
wishing to be convinced need only make an excursion
into the poor tenement district and observe the garbage
barrels overflowing with spoiled food--or the trashy
goods exposed for sale in the shops and the markets.
Those who have had money and have lost it are probably,
as a rule, the wisest in thrift. Those who have
never had money are almost invariably prodigal--
because they are ignorant. When Dorothea Hallowell was
a baby the family had had money. But never since she
could remember had they been anything but poor.
She did not know how to spend money. She did
not know prices or values--being in that respect
precisely like the mass of mankind--and womankind--who
imagine they are economical because they hunt so-called
bargains and haggle with merchants who have got
doubly ready for them by laying in inferior goods and
by putting up prices in advance. She knew how much
ten dollars a week was, the meaning of the twenty to
thirty dollars a week her father had made. But she
had only a faint--and exaggeratedly mistaken--notion
about sixty-five hundred a year--six and a half
thousands. It seemed wealth to her, so vast that a hundred
thousand a year would have seemed no more. As soon
as she drifted away from the known course--the thirty
to forty dollars a week upon which they had been living
--Dorothea Hallowell was in a trackless sea, with a
broken compass and no chart whatever. A common
enough experience in America, the land of sudden
changes of fortune, of rosiest hopes about "striking it
rich," of carelessness and ignorance as to values, of
eager and untrained appetite for luxury and novelty
of any and every kind.
At first any expenditure, however small, for the
plainest comfort which had been beyond their means seemed
a giddy extravagance. But a bank account--AND a
check book--soon dissipated that nervousness. A few
charge accounts, a little practice in the simple easy
gesture of drawing a check, and she was almost at her
ease. With people who have known only squalor or
with those who have earned their better fortune by
privation and slow accumulation, the spreading out
process is usually slow--not so slow as it used to be when
our merchants had not learned the art of tempting any
and every kind of human nature, but still far from
rapid. A piece of money reminds them vividly and
painfully of the toil put into acquiring it; and they shy
away from the pitfall of the facile check. With those
born and bred as Dorothy was and elevated into what
seems to them affluence by no effort of their own, the
spreading is a tropical, overnight affair.
Counting all she spent and arranged to spend in
those first few weeks, you had no great total. But it
was great for a girl who had been making ten dollars a
week. Also there were sown in her mind broadcast and
thick the seeds of desire for more luxurious comfort, of
need for it, that could never be uprooted.
Norman came over almost every evening. He got
a new and youthful and youth-restoring kind of pleasure
out of this process of expansion. He liked to hear
each trifling detail, and he was always making suggestions
that bore immediate fruit in further expenditure.
When he again brought up the subject of a larger
house, she listened with only the faintest protests. Her
ideas of such a short time before seemed small, laughably
small now. "Father was worrying only this morning
because he is so cramped," she admitted.
"We must remedy that at once," said Norman.
And on the following Sunday he and she went house
hunting. They found a satisfactory place--peculiarly
satisfactory to Norman because it was near the Hudson
tunnel, and so only a few minutes from his office. To
Dorothy it loomed a mansion, almost a palace. In fact
it was a modestly roomy old-fashioned brick house, with
a brick stable at the side that, with a little changing,
would make an admirable laboratory.
"You haven't the time--or the experience--to fit
this place up," said Norman. "I'll attend to it--that
is, I'll have it attended to." Seeing her uneasy expression,
he added: "I can get much better terms. They'd
certainly overcharge you. There's no sense in wasting
"No," she admitted, convinced.
He gave the order to a firm of decorators. It was
a moderate order, considering the amount of work that
had to be done. But if the girl had seen the estimates
Norman indorsed, she would have been terrified. However,
he saw to it that she did not see them; and she,
ignorant of values, believed him when he told her the
general account of the corporation must be charged with
two thousand dollars.
Her alarm took him by surprise. The sum seemed
small to him--and it was only about one fifth what
the alterations and improvements had cost. Cried she,
"Why, that's more than our whole income for a year
"You are forgetting these improvements add to the
value of the property. I've bought it."
That quieted her. "You are sure you didn't pay
those decorators and furnishers too much?" said she.
"You don't like their work?" inquired he, chagrined.
"Oh, yes--yes, indeed," she assured him. "I like
plain, solid-looking things. But--two thousand dollars
is a lot of money."
Norman regretted that, as his whole object had
been to please her, he had not ordered the more showy
cheaper stuff but had insisted upon the simplest, plainest-
looking appointments throughout. Even her bedroom
furniture, even her dressing table set, was of the
kind that suggests cost only to the experienced,
carefully and well educated in values and in taste.
"But I'm sure it isn't fair to charge ALL these things
to the company," she protested. "I can't allow it. Not
the things for my personal use."
"You ARE a fierce watchdog of a treasurer," said
Norman, laughing at her but noting and respecting the
fine instinct of good breeding shown in her absence
of greediness, of desire to get all she could. "But I'm
letting the firm of decorators take over what you leave
behind in the old house. I'll see what they'll allow for
it. Maybe that will cover the expense you object to."
This contented her. Nor was she in the least
suspicious when he announced that the decorators had made
such a liberal allowance that the deficit was but three
hundred dollars. "Those chaps," he explained, "have
a wide margin of profit. Besides, they're eager to get
more and bigger work from me."
A few weeks, and he was enjoying the sight of her
ensconced with her father in luxurious comfort--with
two servants, with a well-run house, with pleasant gardens,
with all that is at the command of an income of
six thousand a year in a comparatively inexpensive city.
Only occasionally--and then not deeply--was he troubled
by the reflection that he was still far from his goal
--and had made apparently absurdly little progress
toward it through all this maneuvering. The truth was,
he preferred to linger when lingering gave him so many
new kinds of pleasure. Of those in the large and
motley company that sit down to the banquet of the
senses, the most are crude, if not coarse, gluttons. They
eat fast and furiously, having a raw appetite. Now
and then there is one who has some idea of the art of
enjoyment--the art of prolonging and varying both
the joys of anticipation and the joys of realization.
He turned his attention to tempting her to extravagance
in dress. Rut his success there was not all he
could have wished. She wore better clothes--much
better. She no longer looked the poor working girl,
struggling desperately to be neat and clean. She had almost
immediately taken on the air of the comfortable classes.
Rut everything she got for herself was inexpensive.
and she made dresses for herself, and trimmed all her
hats. With the hats Norman found no fault. There
her good taste produced about as satisfactory results as
could have been got at the fashionable milliners--more
satisfactory than are got by the women who go there,
with no taste of their own beyond a hazy idea that they
want "something like what Mrs. So-and-So is wearing."
But homemade dresses were a different matter.
Norman longed to have her in toilettes that would
bring out the full beauty of her marvelous figure. He,
after the manner of the more intelligent and worldly-
wise New York men, had some knowledge of women's
clothes. His sister knew how to dress; Josephine knew
how, though her taste was somewhat too sober to suit
Norman--at least to suit him in Dorothy. He thought
out and suggested dresses to Dorothy, and told her
where to get them. Dorothy tried to carry out at home
such of his suggestions as pleased her--for, like all
women, she believed she knew how to dress herself. Her
handiwork was creditable. It would have contented a
less exacting and less trained taste than Norman's. It
would have contented him had he not been infatuated
with her beauty of face and form. As it was, the
improvement in her appearance only served to intensify
his agitation. He now saw in her not only all that
had first conquered him, but also those unsuspected
beauties and graces--and possibilities of beauty and
grace yet more entrancing, were she but dressed properly.
"You don't begin to appreciate how beautiful you
are," said he. It had ever been one of his rules in
dealing with women to feed their physical vanity sparingly
and cautiously, lest it should blaze up into one of
those consuming flames that produce a very frenzy of
conceit. But this rule, like all the others, had gone by
the board. He could not conceal his infatuation from
her, not even when he saw that it was turning her head
and making his task harder and harder. "If you
would only go over to New York to several dressmakers
whose names I'll give you, I know you'd get clothes
from them that you could touch up into something
"I can't afford it," said she. "What I have is good
enough--and costs more than I've the right to pay."
And her tone silenced him; it was the tone of finality,
and he had discovered that she had a will.
Never before had Frederick Norman let any
important thing drift. And when he started in with
Dorothy he had no idea of changing that fixed policy. He
would have scoffed if anyone had foretold to him that
he would permit the days and the weeks to go by with
nothing definite accomplished toward any definite
purpose. Yet that was what occurred. Every time he
came he had in mind a fixed resolve to make distinct
progress with the girl. Every time he left he had a
furious quarrel with himself for his weakness. "She is
making a fool of me," he said to himself. "She MUST
be laughing at me." But he returned only to repeat
his folly, to add one more to the lengthening, mocking
series of lost opportunities.
The truth lay deeper than he saw. He recognized
only his own weakness of the infatuated lover's fatuous
timidity. He did not realize how potent her charm for
him was, how completely content she made him when
he was with her, just from the fact that they were
together. After a time an unsatisfied passion often thus
diffuses itself, ceases to be a narrow torrent, becomes a
broad river whose resistless force is hidden beneath
an appearance of sparkling calm. Her ingenuousness
amused him; her developing taste and imagination
interested him; her freshness, her freedom from any sense
of his importance in the world fascinated him, and there
was a keener pleasure than he dreamed in the novel
sensation of breathing the perfume of what he, the one
time cynic, would have staked his life on being unsullied
purity. Their relations were to him a delightful
variation upon the intimacy of master and pupil. Either
he was listening to her or was answering her questions
--and the time flew. And there never was a moment
when he could have introduced the subject that most
concerned him when he was not with her. To have
introduced it would have been rudely to break the
charm of a happy afternoon or evening.
Was she leading him on and on nowhere deliberately?
Or was it the sweet and innocent simplicity it seemed?
He could not tell. He would have broken the charm
and put the matter to the test had he not been afraid
of the consequences. What had he to fear? Was she
not in his power? Was she not his, whenever he should
stretch forth his hand and claim her? Yes--no doubt
--not the slightest doubt. But-- He was afraid to
break the charm; it was such a satisfying charm.
Then--there was her father.
Men who arrive anywhere in any direction always
have the habit of ignoring the nonessential more or less
strongly developed. One reason--perhaps the chief
reason--why Norman had got up to the high places
of material success at so early an age was that he
had an unerring instinct for the essential and wasted
no time or energy upon the nonessential. In his present
situation Dorothy's father, the abstracted man of
science, was one of the factors that obviously fell into
the nonessential class. Norman knew little about him,
and cared less. Also, he took care to avoid knowing
him. Knowing the father would open up possibilities
of discomfort-- But, being a wise young man, Norman
gave this matter the least possible thought.
Still, it was necessary that the two men see
something of each other. Hallowell discovered nothing
about Norman, not enough about his personal appearance
to have recognized him in the street far enough
away from the laboratory to dissociate the two ideas.
Human beings--except his daughter--did not interest
Hallowell; and his feeling for her was somewhat in the
nature of an abstraction. Norman, on the other hand,
was intensely interested in human beings; indeed, he
was interested in little else. He was always thrusting
through surfaces, probing into minds and souls. He
sought thoroughly to understand the living machines
he used in furthering his ambitions and desires. So it
was not long before he learned much about old Newton
Hallowell--and began to admire him--and with a man
of Norman's temperament to admire is to like.
He had assumed at the outset that the scientist was
more or less the crank. He had not talked with him
many times before he discovered that, far from being
in any respect a crank, he was a most able and well-
balanced mentality--a genius. The day came when,
Dorothy not having returned from a shopping tour,
he lingered in the laboratory talking with the father,
or, rather, listening while the man of great ideas
unfolded to him conceptions of the world that set his
imagination to soaring.
Most of us see but dimly beyond the ends of our
noses, and visualize what lies within our range of sight
most imperfectly. We know little about ourselves, less
about others. We fancy that the world and the human
race always have been about as they now are, and always
will be. History reads to us like a fairy tale, to which
we give conventional acceptance as truth. As to the
future, we can conceive nothing but the continuation of
just what we see about us in the present. Norman,
practical man though he was, living in and for the
present, had yet an imagination. He thought Hallowell
a kind of fool for thinking only of the future and
working only for it--but he soon came to think him n
divine fool. And through Hallowell's spectacles he was
charmed for many an hour with visions of the world
that is to be when, in the slow but steady processes of
evolution, the human race will become intelligent, will
conquer the universe with the weapons of science and
will make it over.
When he first stated his projects to Norman, the
young man had difficulty in restraining his amusement.
A new idea, in any line of thought with which we are
not familiar, always strikes us as ridiculous. Norman
had been educated in the ignorant conventional way still
in high repute among the vulgar and among those whose
chief delight is to make the vulgar gape in awe. He
therefore had no science, that is, no knowledge--outside
his profession--but only what is called learning, though
tommyrot would be a fitter name for it. He had only
the most meager acquaintance with that great fundamental
of a sound and sane education, embryology. He
knew nothing of what science had already done to
destroy all the still current notions about the mystery of
life and birth. He still laughed, as at a clever bit of
legerdemain, when Hallowell showed him how far science
had progressed toward mastery of the life of the
lower forms of existence--how those "worms" could be
artificially created, could be aged, made young again,
made diseased and decrepit, restored to perfect health,
could be swung back and forth or sideways or sinuously
along the span of existence--could even be killed and
brought back to vigor.
"We've been at this sort of thing only a few
years," said Hallowell. "I rather think it will not be
many years now before we shall not even need the initial
germ of life to enable us to create but can do it by
pure chemical means, just as a taper is lighted by holding
a match to it."
Norman ceased to think of sleight-of-hand.
"Life," continued the juggler, transformed now into
practical man, leader of men, "life has been
demonstrated to be simply one of the forms of energy, or
one of the consequences of energy. The final discovery
is scientifically not far away. Then--" His eyes
"Then what?" asked Norman.
"Then immortality--in the body. Eternal youth
and health. A body that is renewable much as any of
our inanimate machines of the factory is renewable.
Why not? So far as we know, no living thing ever
dies except by violence. Disease--old age--they are
quite as much violence as the knife and the bullet. What
science can now do with these `worms,' as my daughter
calls them--that it will be able to do with the higher
"And the world would soon be jammed to the last
acre," objected Norman.
Hallowell shrugged his shoulders. "Not at all.
There will be no necessity to create new people, except
to take the place of those who may be accidentally
"But the world is dying--the earth, itself, I mean."
"True. But science may learn how to arrest that
cooling process--or to adapt man to it. Or, it may
be that when the world ceases to be inhabitable we shall
have learned how to cross the star spaces, as I think
I've suggested before. Then--we should simply find a
planet in its youth somewhere, and migrate to it, as a
man now moves to a new house when the old ceases
to please him."
"That is a long flight of the fancy," said Norman.
"Long--but no stronger than the telegraph or the
telephone. The trouble with us is that we have been
long stupefied by the ignorant theological ideas of the
universe--ideas that have come down to us from the
childhood of the race. We haven't got used to the new
era--the scientific era. And that is natural. Why,
until less than three generations ago there was really
no such thing as science."
"I hadn't thought of that," admitted Norman.
"We certainly have got on very fast in those three
"Rather fast. Not so fast, however, as we shall
in the next three. Science--chemistry--is going speedily
to change all the conditions of life because it will turn
topsy-turvy all the ways of producing things--food,
clothing, shelter. Less than two generations ago men
lived much as they had for thousands of years. But
it's very different to-day. It will be inconceivably
Norman could not get these ideas out of his brain.
He began to understand why Hallowell cared nothing
about the active life of the day--about its religion,
politics, modes of labor, its habits of one creature preying
upon another. To-morrow, not religion, not politics,
but chemistry, not priests nor politicians, but chemists,
would change all that--and change it by the only methods
that compel. An abstract idea of liberty or justice
can be rejected, evaded, nullified. But a telephone, a
steam engine, a mode of prolonging life--those realizations
of ideas COMPEL.
When Dorothy came, Norman went into the garden
with her in a frame of mind so different from any he
had ever before experienced that he scarcely recognized
himself. As the influence of the father's glowing
imagination of genius waned before the daughter's physical
loveliness and enchantment for him, he said to himself,
"I'll keep away from him." Why? He did not permit
himself to go on to examine into his reasons. But he
could not conceal them from himself quickly enough
to hide the knowledge that they were moral.
"What is the matter with you to-day?" said
Dorothy. "You are not a bit interesting."
"Interested, you mean," he said with a smile of
raillery, for he had long since discovered that she was
not without the feminine vanity that commands the
centering of all interest in the woman herself and
resents any wandering of thought as a slur upon her
own powers of fascination.
"Well, interested then," said she. "You are thinking
about something else."
"Not now," he assured her.
But he left early. No sooner had he got away from
the house than the scientific dreaming vanished and he
wished himself back with her again--back where every
glance at her gave him the most exquisite sensations.
And when he came the following day he apparently had
once more restored her father to his proper place of a
nonessential. All that definitely remained of the day
before's impression was a certain satisfaction that he
was aiding with his money an enterprise of greater
value and of less questionable character than merely his
own project. But the powerful influences upon our life
and conduct are rarely direct and definite. He, quite
unconsciously, had a wholly different feeling about
Dorothy because of her father, because of what his new
knowledge of and respect for her father had revealed
and would continue to reveal to him as to the girl
herself--her training, her inheritance, her character that
could not but be touched with the splendor of the father's
noble genius. And long afterward, when the father as
a distinct personality had been almost forgotten, Nor-
man was still, altogether unconsciously, influenced by
him--powerfully, perhaps decisively influenced. Norman
had no notion of it, but ever after that talk in the
laboratory, Dorothy Hallowell was to him Newton
When he came the following day, with his original
purposes and plans once more intact, as he thought, he
found that she had made more of a toilet than usual,
had devised a new way of doing her hair that enabled
him to hang a highly prized addition in his memory gallery
of widely varied portraits of her.
The afternoon was warm. They sat under a big old
tree at the end of the garden. He saw that she was
much disturbed--and that it had to do with him. From
time to time she looked at him, studying his face when
she thought herself unobserved. As he had learned that
it is never wise to open up the disagreeable, he waited.
After making several futile efforts at conversation, she
"I saw Mr. Tetlow this morning--in Twenty-third
Street. I was coming out of a chemical supplies store
where father had sent me."
She paused. But Norman did not help her. He
continued to wait.
"He--Mr. Tetlow--acted very strangely," she went
on. "I spoke to him. He stared at me as if he weren't
going to speak--as if I weren't fit to speak to."
"Oh!" said Norman.
"Then he came hurrying after me. And he said,
`Do you know that Norman is to be married in two
"So!" said Norman.
"And I said, `What of it? How does that interest
"It didn't interest you?"
"I was surprised that you hadn't spoken of it,"
replied she. "But I was more interested in Mr.
Tetlow's manner. What do you think he said next?"
"I can't imagine," said Norman.
"Why--that I was even more shameless than he
thought. He said: `Oh, I know all about you. I found
out by accident. I shan't tell anyone, for I can't help
loving you still. But it has killed my belief in woman
to find out that YOU would sell yourself.' "
She was looking at Norman with eyes large and
grave. "And what did you say?" he inquired.
"I didn't say anything. I looked at him as if he
weren't there and started on. Then he said, `When
Norman abandons you, as he soon will, you can count
on me, if you need a friend.' "
There was a pause. Then Norman said, "And
that was all?"
"Yes," replied she.
Another pause. Norman said musingly: "Poor
Tetlow! I've not seen him since he went away to
Bermuda--at least he said he was going there. One
day he sent the firm a formal letter of resignation. . . .
Poor Tetlow! Do you regret not having married him?"
"I couldn't marry a man I didn't love." She looked
at him with sweet friendly eyes. "I couldn't even
marry you, much as I like you."
Norman laughed--a dismal attempt at ease and
"When he told me about your marrying," she went
on, "I knew how I felt about you. For I was not a
bit jealous. Why haven't you ever said anything
He disregarded this. He leaned forward and with
curious deliberateness took her hand. She let it lie
gently in his. He put his arm round her and drew
her close to him. She did not resist. He kissed her
upturned face, kissed her upon the lips. She remained
passive, looking at him with calm eyes.
"Kiss me," he said.
She kissed him--without hesitation and without
"Why do you look at me so?" he demanded.
"I can't understand."
"Why you should wish to kiss me when you love
another woman. What would she say if she knew?"
"I'm sure I don't know. And I rather think I don't
care. You are the only person on earth that interests me."
"Then why are you marrying?"
"Let's not talk about that. Let's talk about
ourselves." He clasped her passionately, kissed her at first
with self-restraint, then in a kind of frenzy. "How
can you be so cruel!" he cried. "Are you utterly
"I do not love you," she said.
"There's no reason. I--just don't. I've sometimes
thought perhaps it was because you don't love me."
"Good God, Dorothy! What do you want me to
say or do?"
"Nothing," replied she calmly. "You asked me
why I didn't love you, and I was trying to explain.
I don't want anything more than I'm getting. I am
"Content!" He laughed sardonically. "As well
ask Tantalus if he is content, with the water always
before his eyes and always out of reach. I want you
--all you have to give. I couldn't be content with less."
"You ought not to talk to me this way," she
reproved gently, "when you are engaged."
He flung her hand into her lap. "You are making
a fool of me. And I don't wonder. I've invited it.
Surely, never since man was created has there been
such another ass as I." He drew her to her feet, seized
her roughly by the shoulders. "When are you coming
to your senses?" he demanded.
"What do you mean?" she inquired, in her child-
like puzzled way.
He shook her, kissed her violently, held her at
arm's length. "Do you think it wise to trifle with
me?" he asked. "Don't your good sense tell you
there's a limit even to such folly as mine?"
"What IS the matter?" she asked pathetically.
"What do you want? I can't give you what I haven't
got to give."
"No," he cried. "But I want what you HAVE got
She shook her head slowly. "Really, I haven't, Mr.
He eyed her with cynical amused suspicion. "Why
did you call me MR. Norman just then? Usually you
don't call me at all. It's been weeks since you have
called me Mister. Was your doing it just then one of
those subtle, adroit, timely tricks of yours?"
She was the picture of puzzled innocence. "I don't
understand," she said.
"Well--perhaps you don't," said he doubtfully.
"At any rate, don't call me Mr. Norman. Call me
"I can't. It isn't natural. You seem Mister to
me. I always think of you as Mr. Norman."
"That's it. And it must stop!"
She smiled with innocent gayety. "Very well--
Fred. . . . Fred. . . . Now that I've said it, I don't find
it strange." She looked at him with an expression
between appeal and mockery. "If you'd only let me get
acquainted with you. But you don't. You make me
feel that I've got to be careful with you--that I must
be on my guard. I don't know against what--for you
are certainly the very best friend that I've ever had--
the only real friend."
He frowned and bit his lip--and felt uncomfortable,
though he protested to himself that he was simply
irritated at her slyness. Yes, it must be slyness.
"So," she went on, "there's no REASON for being
on guard. Still, I feel that way." She looked at him
with sweet gravity. "Perhaps I shouldn't if you didn't
talk about love to me and kiss me in a way I feel you've
no right to."
Again he laid his hands upon her shoulders. This
time he gazed angrily into her eyes. "Are you a fool?
Or are you making a fool of me?" he said. "I can't
"I certainly am very foolish," was her apologetic
answer. "I don't know a lot of things, like you and
father. I'm only a girl."
And he had the maddening sense of being baffled
again--of having got nowhere, of having demonstrated
afresh to himself and to her his own weakness where she
was concerned. What unbelievable weakness! Had
there ever been such another case? Yes, there must
have been. How little he had known of the possibil-
ities of the relations of men and women--he who had
prided himself on knowing all!
She said, "You are going to marry?"
"I suppose so," replied he sourly.
"Are you worried about the expense? Is it costing
you too much, this helping father? Are you sorry you
went into it?"
He was silent.
"You are sorry?" she exclaimed. "You feel that
you are wasting your money?"
His generosity forbade him to keep up the pretense
that might aid him in his project. "No," he said
hastily. "No, indeed. This expense--it's nothing."
He flushed, hung his head in shame before his own
weakness, as he added, in complete surrender, "I'm very
glad to be helping your father."
"I knew you would be!" she cried triumphantly.
"I knew it!" And she flung her arms round his neck
and kissed him.
"That's better!" he said with a foolishly delighted
laugh. "I believe we are beginning to get acquainted."
"Yes, indeed. I feel quite different already."
"I hoped so. You are coming to your senses?"
"Perhaps. Only--" She laid a beautiful white
pleading hand upon his shoulder and gazed earnestly
into his eyes--"please don't frighten me with that talk
--and those other kisses."
He looked at her uncertainly. "Come round in
your own way," he said at last. "I don't want to
hurry you. I suppose every bird has its own way of
dropping from a perch."
"You don't like my way?" she inquired.
It was said archly but also in the way that always
made him vaguely uneasy, made him feel like one facing
a mystery which should be explored cautiously. "It
is graceful," he admitted, with a smile since he could
not venture to frown. "Graceful--but slow."
She laughed--and he could not but feel that the
greater laughter in her too innocent eyes was directed
at him. She talked of other things--and he let her--
charmed, yet cursing his folly, his slavery, the while.
MANY a time he had pitied a woman for letting him
get away from her, when she obviously wished to hold
him and failed solely because she did not understand
her business. Like every other man, he no sooner began
to be attracted by a woman than he began to invest her
with a mystery and awe which she either could
dissipate by forcing him to see the truth of her
commonplaceness or could increase into a power that would
enslave him by keeping him agitated and interested and
ever satisfied yet ever baffled. But no woman had shown
this supreme skill in the art of love--until Dorothy
Hallowell. She exasperated him. She fascinated him.
She kept him so restless that his professional work was
all but neglected. Was it her skill? Was it her folly?
Was she simply leading him on and on, guided blindly
by woman's instinct to get as much as she could and
to give as little as she dared? Or was she protected
by a real indifference to him--the strongest, indeed the
only invulnerable armor a woman can wear? Was she
protecting herself? Or was it merely that he, weakened
by his infatuation, was doing the protecting for
Beside these distracting questions, the once all-
important matter of professional and worldly ambition
seemed not worth troubling about. They even so vexed
him that he had become profoundly indifferent as to
Josephine. He saw her rarely. When they were alone
he either talked neutral subjects or sat almost mute,
hardly conscious of her presence. He received her
efforts at the customary caressings with such stolidity
that she soon ceased to annoy him. They reduced their
outward show of affection to a kiss when they met,
another when they separated. He was tired--always tired
--worn out--half sick--harassed by business concerns.
He did not trouble himself about whether his listless
excuses would be accepted or not. He did not care what
she thought--or might think--or might do.
Josephine was typical of the women of the
comfortable class. For them the fundamentally vital
matters of life--the profoundly harassing questions of food,
clothing, and shelter--are arranged and settled. What
is there left to occupy their minds? Little but the idle
emotions they manufacture and spread foglike over
their true natures to hide the barrenness, the monotony.
They fool with phrases about art or love or religion
or charity--for none of those things can be vivid realities
to those who are swathed and stupefied in a luxury
they have not to take the least thought to provide for
themselves. Like all those women, Josephine fancied
herself complex--fancied she was a person of variety
and of depth because she repeated with a slight change
of wording the things she read in clever books or heard
from clever men. There seemed to Norman to be small
enough originality, personality, to the ordinary man
of the comfortable class; but there was some, because
his necessity of struggling with and against his fellow
men in the several arenas of active life compelled him to
be at least a little of a person. In the women there
seemed nothing at all--not even in Josephine. When
he listened to her, when he thought of her, now--he
was calmly critical. He judged her as a human
specimen--judged much as would have old Newton Hallowell
to whom the whole world was mere laboratory.
She bored him now--and he made no effort beyond
bare politeness to conceal the fact from her. The situation
was saved from becoming intolerable by that universal
saver of intolerable situations, vanity. She had
the ordinary human vanity. In addition, she had the
peculiar vanity of woman, the creation of man's
flatteries lavished upon the sex he alternately serves and
spurns. In further addition, she had the vanity of her
class--the comfortable class that feels superior to the
mass of mankind in fortune, in intellect, in taste, in
everything desirable. Heaped upon all these vanities
was her vanity of high social rank--and atop the whole
her vanity of great wealth. None but the sweetest and
simplest of human beings can stand up and remain
human under such a weight as this. If we are at all
fair in our judgments of our fellow men, we marvel
that the triumphant class--especially the women, whose
point of view is never corrected by the experiences of
practical life--are not more arrogant, more absurdly
forgetful of the oneness and the feebleness of humanity.
Josephine was by nature one of the sweet and simple
souls. And her love for Norman, after the habit of
genuine love, had destroyed all the instinct of coquetry.
The woman--or, the man--has to be indeed interesting,
indeed an individuality, to remain interesting when
sincerely in love, and so elevated above the petty but
potent sex trickeries. Josephine, deeply in love, was
showing herself to Norman in her undisguised natural
sweet simplicity--and monotony. But, while men
admire and reverence a sweet and simple feminine soul--
and love her in plays and between the covers of a book
and when she is talking highfaluting abstractions of
morality--and wax wroth with any other man who
ignores or neglects her--they do not in their own persons
become infatuated with her. Passion is too much
given to moods for that; it has a morbid craving for
variety, for the mysterious and the baffling.
The only thing that saves the race from ruin
through passion is the rarity of those by nature or by
art expert in using it. Norman felt that he was paying
the penalty for his persistent search for this rarity; one
of the basest tricks of destiny upon man is to give him
what he wants--wealth, or fame, or power, or the wom-
an who enslaves. Norman felt that destiny had suddenly
revealed its resolve to destroy him by giving him not
one of the things he wanted, but all.
The marriage was not quite two weeks away. About
the time that the ordinary plausible excuses for
Norman's neglect, his abstraction, his seeming indifference
were exhausted, Josephine's vanity came forward to
explain everything to her, all to her own glory. As the
elysian hour approached--so vanity assured her--the
man who loved her as her complex soul and many physical
and social advantages deserved was overcome with
that shy terror of which she had read in the poets and
the novelists. A large income, fashionable attire and
surroundings, a carriage and a maid--these things gave
a woman a subtle and superior intellect and soul. How?
Why? No one knew. But everyone admitted, indeed
saw, the truth. Further, these beings--these great
ladies--according to all the accredited poets, novelists,
and other final authorities upon life--always inspired
the most awed and worshipful and diffident feelings in
their lovers. Therefore, she--the great lady--was
getting but her due. She would have liked something else
--something common and human--much better. But,
having always led her life as the conventions dictated,
never as the common human heart yearned, she had no
keen sense of dissatisfaction to rouse her to revolt and
to question. Also, she was breathlessly busy with
trousseau and the other arrangements for the grand wedding.
One afternoon she telephoned Norman asking him
to come on his way home that evening. "I particularly
wish to see you," she said. He thought her voice
sounded rather queer, but he did not take sufficient
interest to speculate about it. When he was with her
in the small drawing room on the second floor, he noted
that her eyes were regarding him strangely. He
thought he understood why when she said:
"Aren't you going to kiss me, Fred?"
He put on his good-natured, slightly mocking smile.
"I thought you were too busy for that sort of thing
nowadays." And he bent and kissed her waiting lips.
Then he lit a cigarette and seated himself on the sofa
beside her--the sofa at right angles to the open fire.
"Well?" he said.
She gazed into the fire for full a minute before she
said in a voice of constraint, "What became of that--
that girl--the Miss Hallowell----"
She broke off abruptly. There was a pause choked
with those dizzy pulsations that fill moments of silence
and strain. Then with a sob she flung herself against
his breast and buried her face in his shoulder. "Don't
answer!" she cried. "I'm ashamed of myself. I'm
He put his arm about her shoulders. "But why
shouldn't I answer?" said he in the kindly gentle tone
we can all assume when a matter that agitates some one
else is wholly indifferent to us.
"Because--it was a--a trap," she answered
hysterically. "Fred--there was a man here this afternoon
--a man named Tetlow. He got in only because he
said he came from you."
Norman laughed quietly. "Poor Tetlow!" he said.
"He used to be your head clerk--didn't he?"
"And one of my few friends."
"He's not your friend, Fred!" she cried, sitting
upright and speaking with energy that quivered in her
voice and flashed in her fine brown eyes. "He's your
enemy--a snake in the grass--a malicious, poisonous----"
Norman's quiet, even laugh interrupted. "Oh, no,"
said he. "Tetlow's a good fellow. Anything he said
would be what he honestly believed--anything he said
"He pleaded that he was doing it for your good,"
she went on with scorn. "They always do--like the
people that write father wicked anonymous letters. He
--this man Tetlow--he said he wanted me for the sake
of my love for you to save you from yourself."
Norman glanced at her with amused eyes. "Well,
why don't you? But then you ARE doing it. You're
marrying me, aren't you?"
Again she put her head upon his shoulder. "Indeed
I am!" she cried. "And I'd be a poor sort if I
let a sneak shake my confidence in you."
He patted her shoulder, and there was laughter in
his voice as he said, "But I never professed to be
"Oh, I know you USED to--" She laughed and
kissed his cheek. "Never mind. I've heard. But while
you were engaged to me--about to marry me--why,
you simply couldn't!"
"Couldn't what?" inquired he.
"Do you want me to tell you what he said?"
"I think I know. But do as you like."
"Maybe I'd better tell you. I seem to want to get
rid of it."
"It was about that girl." She sat upright and
looked at him for encouragement. He nodded. She
went on: "He said that if I asked you, you would not
dare deny you were--were--giving her money."
"Her and her father."
She shrank, startled. Then her lips smiled bravely,
and she said, "He didn't say anything about her
"No. That was my own correction of his story."
She looked at him with wonder and doubt. "You
aren't--DOING it, Fred!" she exclaimed.
He nodded. "Yes, indeed." He looked at her
placidly. "Why not?"
"You are SUPPORTING her?"
"If you wish to put it that way," said he
carelessly. "My money pays the bills--all the bills."
"Yes? What is it? Why are you so agitated?"
He studied her face, then rose, took a final pull at the
cigarette, tossed it in the fire. "I must be going," he
said, in a cool, even voice.
She started up in a panic. "Fred! What do you
mean? Are you angry with me?"
His calm regard met hers. "I do not like--this
sort of thing," he said.
"But surely you'll explain. Surely I'm entitled to
"Why should I explain? You have evidently found
an explanation that satisfies you." He drew himself
up in a quiet gesture of haughtiness. "Besides, it has
never been my habit to allow myself to be questioned or
to explain myself."
Her eyes widened with terror. "Fred!" she
gasped. "What DO you mean?"
"Precisely what I say," said he, in the same cool,
inevitable way. "A man came to you with a story
about me. You listened. A sufficient answer to the
story was that I am marrying you. That answer
apparently does not content you. Very well. I shall
make no other."
She gazed at him uncertainly. She felt him going
--and going finally. She seized him with desperate
fingers, cried: "I AM content. Oh, Fred--don't frighten
me this way!"
He smiled satirically. "Are you afraid of the
scandal--because everything for the wedding has gone
"How can you think that!" cried she--perhaps too
vigorously, a woman would have thought.
"What else is there for me to think? You certainly
haven't shown any consideration for me."
"But you told me yourself that you were false
She forgot her fear in a gush of rage rising from
sudden realization of what she was doing--of how
leniently and weakly and without pride she was dealing
with this man. "Didn't you admit----"
"Pardon me," said he, and his manner might well
have calmed the wildest tempest of anger. "I did not
admit. I never admit. I leave that to people of the
sort who explain and excuse and apologize. I simply
told you I was paying the expenses of a family named
"But WHY should you do it, Fred?"
His smile was gently satirical. "I thought Tetlow
told you why."
"I don't believe him!"
"Then why this excitement?"
One could understand how the opposition witnesses
dreaded facing him. "I don't know just why," she
stammered. "It seemed to me you were admitting--
I mean, you were confirming what that man accused
"And of what did he accuse me? I might say, of
what do YOU accuse me?" When she remained silent
he went on: "I am trying to be reasonable, Josephine.
I am trying to keep my temper."
The look in her eyes--the fear, the timidity--was
a startling revelation of character--of the cowardice
with which love undermines the strongest nature. "I
know I've been foolish and incoherent, Fred," she
pleaded. "But--I love you! And you remember how
I always was afraid of that girl."
"Just what do you wish to know?"
"Nothing, dear--nothing. I am not sillily jealous.
I ought to be admiring you for your generosity--your
"It's neither the one nor the other," said he with
She quivered. "Then WHAT is it?" she cried.
"You are driving me crazy with your evasions."
Pleadingly, "You must admit they ARE evasions."
He buttoned his coat in tranquil preparation to
depart. She instantly took alarm. "I don't mean that.
It's my fault, not asking you straight out. Fred, tell
me--won't you? But if you are too cross with me,
then--don't tell me." She laughed nervously, hiding
her submission beneath a seeming of mocking exaggeration
of humility. "I'll be good. I'll behave."
A man who admired her as a figure, a man who liked
her, a man who had no feeling for her beyond the
general human feeling of wishing well pretty nearly
everybody--in brief, any man but one who had loved her
and had gotten over it would have deeply pitied and
sympathized with her. Fred Norman said, his look and
his tone coolly calm:
"I am backing Mr. Hallowell in a company for
which he is doing chemical research work. We are
hatching eggs, out of the shell, so to speak. Also we
are aging and rejuvenating arthropods and the like. So
far we have declared no dividends. But we have hopes."
She gave a hysterical sob of relief. "Then it's only
business--not the girl at all!"
"Oh, yes, it's the girl, too," replied he. "She's
an officer of the company. In fact, it was to make a
place for her that I went into the enterprise originally."
With an engaging air of frankness he inquired, "Anything more?"
She was gazing soberly, almost somberly, into the
fire. "You'll not be offended if I ask you one question?"
"Is there anything between you and--her?"
"You mean, am I having an affair with her?"
She hung her head, but managed to make a slight
nod of assent.
He laughed. "No." He laughed again. "No--
not thus far, my dear." He laughed a third time, with
still stronger and stranger mockery. "She congratulated
me on my engagement with a sincerity that would
have piqued a man who was interested in her."
"Will you forgive me?" Josephine said. "What
I've just been feeling and saying and putting you
through--it's beneath both of us. I suppose a woman
--no woman--can help being nasty where another woman
With his satirical good-humored smile, "I don't in
the least blame you."
"And you'll not think less of me for giving way
to a thing so vulgar?"
He kissed her with a carelessness that made her
wince But she felt that she deserved it--and was
grateful. He said: "Why don't you go over and see
for yourself? No doubt Tetlow gave you the address
--and no doubt you have remembered it."
She colored and hastily turned her head. "Don't
punish me," she pleaded.
"Punish you? What nonsense! . . . Do you want
me to take you over? The laboratory would interest
you--and Miss Hallowell is lovelier than ever. She
has an easier life now. Office work wears on women
Josephine looked at him with a beautiful smile of
love and trust. "You wish to be sure I'm cured. Well,
can't you see that I am?"
"I don't see why you should be. I've said nothing
one way or the other."
She laughed gayly. "You can't tempt me. I'm
really cured. I think the only reason I had the attack
was because Mr. Tetlow so evidently believed he was
speaking the truth."
"No doubt he did think he was. I'm sure, in the
same circumstances, I'd think of anyone else just what
he thinks of me."
"Then why do you do it, Fred?" urged she with
ill-concealed eagerness. "It isn't fair to the girl, is
"No one but you and Tetlow knows I'm doing it."
"You're mistaken there, dear. Tetlow says a great
many people down town are talking about it--that they
say you go almost every day to Jersey City to see her.
He accuses you of having ruined her reputation. He
says she is quite innocent. He blames the whole thing
Norman, standing with arms folded upon his broad
chest, was gazing thoughtfully into the fire.
"You don't mind my telling you these things?" she
said anxiously. "Of course, I know they are lies----"
"So everyone is talking about it," interrupted he,
so absorbed that he had not heard her.
"You don't realize how conspicuous you are."
He shrugged his shoulders. "Well, it can't be
"You can't afford to be mixed up in a scandal," she
ventured, "or to injure a poor little creature-- I'm
afraid you'll have to--to stop it."
"Stop it." His eyes gleamed with mirth and something
else. "It isn't my habit to heed gossip."
"But think of HER, Fred!"
He smiled ironically. "What a generous, thoughtful
dear you are!" said he.
She blushed. "I'll admit I don't like it. I'm not
jealous--but I wish you weren't doing it."
"So do I!" he exclaimed, with sudden energy that
astonished and disquieted her. "So do I! But since
it can't be helped I shall go on."
Never had she respected him so profoundly. For
the first time she had measured strength with him and
had been beaten and routed. She fancied herself
enormously proud; for she labored under the common
delusion which mistakes for pride the silly vanity of class,
or birth, or wealth, or position. She had imagined she
would never lower that cherished pride of hers to any
man. And she had lowered it into the dust. No wonder
women had loved him, she said to herself; couldn't he
do with them, even the haughtiest of them, precisely as
he pleased? He had not tried to calm, much less to
end her jealousy; on the contrary, he had let it flame
as high as it would, had urged it higher. And she did
not dare ask him, even as a loving concession to her
weakness, to give up an affair upon which everybody
was putting the natural worst possible construction!
On the contrary, she had given him leave to go on--
because she feared--yes, knew--that if she tried to
interfere he would take it as evidence that they could
not get on together. What a man!
But there was more to come that day. As he was
finishing dressing for dinner his sister Ursula knocked.
"May I come, Frederick?" she said.
"Sure," he cried. "I'm fixing my tie."
Ursula, in a gown that displayed the last possible
--many of the homelier women said impossible--inch of
her beautiful shoulders, came strolling sinuously in and
seated herself on the arm of the divan. She watched
him, in his evening shirt, as he with much struggling
did his tie. "How young you do look, Fred!" said
she. "Especially in just that much clothes. Not a
day over thirty."
"I'm not exactly a nonogenarian," retorted he.
"But usually your face--in spite of its smoothness
and no wrinkles--has a kind of an old young--or do
I mean young old?--look. You've led such a serious
"Um. That's the devil of it."
"You're looking particularly young to-night."
"Same to you, Urse."
"No, I'm not bad for thirty-four. People half
believe me when I say I'm twenty-nine." She glanced
complacently down at her softly glistening shoulders.
"I've still got my skin."
"And a mighty good one it is. Best I ever saw--
She reflected a moment, then smiled. "I know it
isn't Josephine's. Hers is good but not notable. Eyes
and teeth are her strongholds. I suppose it's--the
"I mean the one in Jersey City."
He went on brushing his hair with not a glance at
the bomb she had exploded under his very nose.
"You're a cool one," she said admiringly.
"I thought you'd jump. I'm sure you never
dreamed I knew."
He slid into his white waistcoat and began to button it.
"Though you might know I'd find out," she went
on, "when everyone's talking."
"Everyone's always talking," said he indifferently.
"And they rattle on to beat the band when they
get a chance at a man like you. Do you know what
"Certainly. Loosen these straps in the back of my
waistcoat--the upper ones, won't you?"
As she fussed with the buckles she said: "But you
don't know that they say you're going to pieces--
neglecting your cases--keeping away from your office
--wasting about half of your day with your lady love.
They say that you have gone stark mad--that you are
rushing to ruin."
"A little looser. That's better. Thanks."
"And everyone's wondering when Josephine will
hear and go on the rampage. She's so proud and so
stuck on herself that they're betting she'll give you
"Well--" getting into his coat--"you'd delight in
that. For you don't like her."
"Oh--so--so," replied Ursula. "She's all right,
as women go. You know we women don't ever think
any too well of each other. We're `on.' Now, I'm
frank to admit I'm not worth the powder to blow me
up. I can't do anything worth doing. I don't know
anything worth knowing--except how to dress and make
a fool of an occasional man. I'm not a good house-
keeper, nor a good wife--and I'd as lief go to jail for
two years as have a baby. But I admit I'm n. g.
Most women are as poor excuses as I am, yet they
think they're GRAND!"
Norman, standing before his sister and smiling
mysteriously, said: "My dear Urse, let me give you a great
truth in a sentence. The value of anything is not its
value to itself or in itself, but its value to some one else.
A woman--even as incompetent a person as you----"
"--or Josephine--may seem to some man to be
pricelessly valuable. And if she happens to seem so to
him, why, she IS so."
His eyes glittered curiously. "Meaning Jersey
City," he said.
A long silence. Then Ursula: "But suppose
He stood beside the doorway, waiting for her to
pass out. His face expressed nothing. "Let's go
down. I'm hungry. We were talking about it this
"You and Jo!"
"Josephine and I."
"And it's all right?"
"You fooled her?"
"I don't stoop to that sort of thing."
"No, indeed," she laughed. "You rise to heights
of deception that would make anyone else giddy. Oh,
I'd give anything to have heard."
"There's nothing to deceive about," said he.
She shook her head. "You can't put it over me,
Fred. You've never before made a fool of yourself
about a woman. I'd like to see her. I suppose I'd
be amazed. I've observed that the women who do the
most extraordinary things with men are the most ordinary
sort of women."
"Not to the men," said he bitterly. "Not while
they're doing it."
"Does SHE seem extraordinary to YOU still?"
He thrust his hands deep in his pockets. "What
you heard is true. I'm letting everything slide--work
--career--everything. I think of nothing else. Ursula,
I'm mad about her--mad!"
She threw back her head, looked at him admiringly.
Never had she so utterly worshiped this wonderful,
powerful brother of hers. He was in love--really--
madly in love--at last. So he was perfect! "How
long do you think it will hold, Fred?" she said, all
"Yet--caring for her you can go on and marry
He looked at his sister cynically. "You wouldn't
have me marry HER, would you?"
"Of course not," protested she hastily. Her
passion for romance did not carry her to that idiocy.
"You couldn't. She's a sort of working girl--isn't
she?--anyhow, that class. No, you couldn't marry
her. But how can you marry another woman?"
"How could I give up Josephine?--and give her
up probably to Bob Culver?"
Ursula nodded understandingly. "But--what are
you going to do?"
"How should I know? Perhaps break it off when
I marry--if you can call it breaking off, when there's
nothing to break but--me."
"You don't mean--" she cried, stopping when her
tone had carried her meaning.
He laughed. "Yes--that's the kind of damn fool
"You must have let her see how crazy you were
"Was anyone ever able to hide that sort of insanity?"
Ursula gazed wonderingly at him, drew a long
breath. "You!" she exclaimed. "Of all men--you!"
"Let's go down."
"She must be a deep one--dangerous," said Ursula,
furious against the woman who was daring to resist her
matchless brother. "Fred, I'm wild to see her. Maybe
I'd see something that'd help cure you."
"You keep out of it," he replied, curtly but not
with ill humor.
"It can't last long."
"It'd do for me, if it did."
"The marriage will settle everything," said Ursula
"It's got to," said he grimly.
THE next day or the next but one Dorothy
telephoned him. He often called her up on one pretext
or another, or frankly for no reason at all beyond the
overwhelming desire to hear her voice. But she had
never before "disturbed" him. He had again and
again assured her that he would not regard himself
as "disturbed," no matter what he might be doing. She
would not have it so. As he was always watching for
some faint sign that she was really interested in him,
this call gave him a thrill of hope--a specimen of the
minor absurdities of those days of extravagant folly.
"Are you coming over to-day?" she asked.
"Right away, if you wish."
"Oh, no. Any time will do."
"I'll come at once. I'm not busy."
"No. Late this afternoon. Father asked me to
call up and make sure. He wants to see you."
"I'm a business person," retorted she. "I know
better than to annoy you, as I've often said."
He knew it was foolish, tiresome; yet he could not
resist the impulse to say, "Now that I've heard your
voice I can't stay away. I'll come over to lunch."
Her answering voice was irritated. "Please don't.
I'm cleaning house. You'd be in the way."
He shrank and quivered like a boy who has been
publicly rebuked. "I'll come when you say," he replied.
"Not a minute before four o'clock."
"That's a long time--now you've made me crazy
to see you."
"Don't talk nonsense. I must go back to work."
"What are you doing?" he asked, to detain her.
"Dusting and polishing. Molly did the sweeping
and is cleaning windows now."
"What have you got on?"
"How silly you are!"
"No one knows that better than I. But I want
to have a picture of you to look at."
"I've got on an old white skirt and an old shirt
waist, both dirty, and a pair of tennis shoes that were
white once but are gray now, where they aren't black.
And I've got a pink chiffon rag tied round my hair."
"Pink is wonderful when you wear it."
"I look a fright. And my face is streaked--and
"Oh, you've got your sleeves rolled up. That's an
"You're making fun of me."
"No, I'm thinking of your arms. They are--
"That's quite enough. Good-by."
And she rang off. He was used to her treating
compliment and flattery from him in that fashion. He
could not--or was it would not?--understand why. He
had learned that she was not at all the indifferent and
unaware person in the matter of her physical charms
he had at first fancied her. On the contrary, she had
more than her share of physical vanity--not more than
was her right, in view of her charms, but more than
she could carry off well. With many a secret smile he
had observed that she thought herself perfect
physically. This did not repel him; it never does repel
a man--when and so long as he is under the enchantment
of the charms the woman more or less exaggerates.
But, while he had often seen women with inordinate
physical vanity, so often that he had come
to regarding it as an essential part of feminine
character, never before had he seen one so content with
her own good opinion of herself that she was indifferent
to appreciation from others.
He did not go back to the office after lunch.
Several important matters were coming up; if he got within
reach they might conspire to make it impossible for
him to be with her on time. If his partners, his clients
knew! He the important man of affairs kneeling at
the feet of a nobody!--and why? Chiefly because he
was unable to convince her that he amounted to
anything. His folly nauseated him. He sat in a corner
in the dining room of the Lawyers' Club and drank
one whisky and soda after another and brooded over
his follies and his unhappiness, muttering monotonously
from time to time: "No wonder she makes a fool of
me. I invite it, I beg for it, damned idiot that I am!"
By three o'clock he had drunk enough liquor to have
dispatched the average man for several days. It had
produced no effect upon him beyond possibly a slight
aggravation of his moodiness.
It took only twenty minutes to get from New York
to her house. He set out at a few minutes after three;
arrived at twenty minutes to four. As experience of
her ways had taught him that she was much less friendly
when he disobeyed her requests, he did not dare go to
the house, but, after looking at it from a corner two
blocks away, made a detour that would use up some
of the time he had to waste. And as he wandered he
indulged in his usual alternations between self-derision
and passion. He appeared at the house at five minutes
to four. Patrick, who with Molly his wife looked after
the domestic affairs, was at the front gate gazing down
the street in the direction from which he always came.
At sight of him Pat came running. Norman quickened
his pace, and every part of his nervous system was in
"Mr. Hallowell--he's--DEAD," gasped Pat.
"Dead?" echoed Norman.
"Three quarters of an hour ago, sir. He came
from the lobatry, walked in the sitting room where Miss
Dorothy was oiling the furniture and I was oiling the
floor. And he sets down--and he looks at her--as cool
and calm as could be--and he says, `Dorothy, my child,
I'm dying.' And she stands up straight and looks at
him curious like--just curious like. And he says,
`Dorothy, good-by.' And he shivers, and I jumps up just
in time to catch him from rolling to the floor. He
was dead then--so the doctor says."
"Dead!" repeated Norman, looking round vaguely.
He went on to the house, Pat walking beside him
and chattering on and on--a stream of words Norman
did not hear. As he entered the open front door Dorothy
came down the stairs. He had thought he knew
how white her skin was. But he did not know until
then. And from that ghostly pallor looked the eyes of
grief beyond tears. He advanced toward her. But she
seemed to be wrapped in an atmosphere of aloofness.
He felt himself a stranger and an alien. After a brief
silence she said: "I don't realize it. I've been upstairs
where Pat carried him--but I don't realize it. It simply
"Do you know what he wished to say to me?" he
"No. I guess he felt this coming. Probably it
came quicker than he expected. Now I can see that
he hasn't been well for several days. But he would
never let anything about illness be said. He thought
talking of those things made them worse."
"You have relatives--somebody you wish me to telegraph?"
She shook her head. "No one. Our relatives out
West are second cousins or further away. They care
nothing about us. No, I'm all alone."
The tears sprang to his eyes. But there were no
tears in her eyes, no forlornness in her voice. She was
simply stating a fact. He said: "I'll look after
everything. Don't give it a moment's thought."
"No, I'll arrange," replied she. "It'll give me
something to do--something to do for him. You see,
it's my last chance." And she turned to ascend the
stairs. "Something to do," she repeated dully. "I
wish I hadn't cleaned house this morning. That would
be something more to do."
This jarred on him--then brought the tears to his
eyes again. How childish she was!--and how desolate!
"But you'll let me stay?" he pleaded. "You'll need
me. At any rate, I want to feel that you do."
"I'd rather you didn't stay," she said, in the same
calm, remote way. "I'd rather be alone with him, this
last time. I'll go up and sit there until they take
him away. And then--in a few days I'll see what to do
--I'll send for you."
"I can't leave you at such a time," he cried. "You
haven't realized yet. When you do you will need some
"You don't understand," she interrupted. "He
and I understood each other in some ways. I know he'd
not want--anyone round."
At her slight hesitation before "anyone" he winced.
"I must be alone with him," she went on. "Thank
you, but I want to go now."
"Not just yet," he begged. Then, seeing the
shadow of annoyance on her beautiful white face, he
rose and said: "I'm going. I only want to help you."
He extended his hand impulsively, drew it back before
she had the chance to refuse it. For he felt that she
would refuse it. He said, "You know you can rely
"But I don't need anybody," replied she. "Good-by."
"If I can do anything----"
"Pat will telephone." She was already halfway
He found Pat in the front yard, and arranged with
him to get news and to send messages by way of the
drug store at the corner, so that she would know nothing
about it. He went to a florist's in New York and
sent masses of flowers. And then--there was nothing
more to do. He stopped in at the club and drank and
gambled until far into the morning. He fretted gloomily
about all the next day, riding alone in the Park,
driving with his sister, drinking and gambling at the
club again and smiling cynically to himself at the covert
glances his acquaintances exchanged. He was growing
used to those glances. He cared not the flip of a penny
On the third day came the funeral, and he went. He
did not let his cabman turn in behind the one carriage
that followed the hearse. At the graveyard he stood
afar off, watching her in her simple new black, noting
her calm. She seemed thinner, but he thought it might
be simply her black dress. He could see no change in
her face. As she was leaving the grave, she looked in
his direction but he was uncertain whether she had
seen him. Pat and Molly were in the big, gloomy looking
carriage with her.
He ventured to go to the front gate an hour later.
Pat came out. "It's no use to go in, Mr. Norman,"
he said. "She'll not see you. She's shut up in her
"Hasn't she cried yet, Pat?"
"Not yet. We're waiting for it, sir. We're afraid
her mind will give way. At least, Molly is. I don't
think so. She's a queer young lady--as queer as she
looks--though at first you'd never think it. She's
always looking different. I never seen so many persons
"Can't Molly MAKE her cry?--by talking about
"She's tried, sir. It wasn't no use. Why, Miss
Dorothy talks about him just as if he was still here."
Pat wiped the sweat from his forehead. "I've been in
many a house of mourning, but never through such a
strain as this. Somehow I feel as if I'd never before
been round where there was anyone that'd lost somebody
they REALLY cared about. Weeping and moaning
don't amount to much beside what she's doing."
Norman stayed round for an hour or more, then
rushed away distracted. He drank like a madman--
drank himself into a daze, and so got a few hours of
a kind of sleep. He was looking haggard and wild
now, and everyone avoided him, though in fact there
was not the least danger of an outburst of temper. His
sister--Josephine--the office--several clients telephoned
for him. To all he sent the same refusal--that he was
too ill to see anyone. Not until the third day after the
funeral did Dorothy telephone for him.
He took an ice-cold bath, got himself together as
well as he could, and reached the house in Jersey City
about half past three in the afternoon. She came gliding
into the room like a ghost, trailing a black negligee
that made the whiteness of her skin startling. Her eye-
lids were heavy and dark, but unreddened. She gazed
at him with calm, clear melancholy, and his heart
throbbed and ached for her. She seated herself, clasped
her hands loosely in her lap, and said:
"I've sent for you so that I could settle things up."
"Your father's affairs? Can't I do it better?"
"He had arranged everything. There are only the
papers--his notes--and he wrote out the addresses of
the men they were to be sent to. No, I mean settle
things up with you."
"You mustn't bother about that," said he.
"Besides, there's nothing to settle."
"I shan't pretend I'm going to try to pay you
back," she went on, as if he had not spoken. "I never
could do it. But you will get part at least by selling
this furniture and the things at the laboratory."
"Dorothy--please," he implored. "Don't you
understand you're to stay on here, just the same? What
sort of man do you think I am? I did this for you,
and you know it."
"But I did it for my father," replied she, "and
he's gone." She was resting her melancholy gaze upon
him. "I couldn't take anything from you. You didn't
think I was that kind?"
He was silent.
"I cared nothing about the scandal--what people
said--so long as I was doing it for him. . . . I'd have
done ANYTHING for him. Sometimes I thought you were
going to compel me to do things I'd have hated to do.
I hope I wronged you, but I feared you meant that."
She sat thinking several minutes, sighed wearily. "It's
all over now. It doesn't matter. I needn't bother
about it any more."
"Dorothy, let's not talk of these things now," said
Norman. "There's no hurry. I want you to wait until
you are calm and have thought everything over. Then
I'm sure you'll see that you ought to stay on."
"How could I?" she asked wonderingly.
"Why not? Am I demanding anything of you?
You know I'm not--and that I never shall."
"But there's no reason on earth why YOU should
support ME. I can work. Why shouldn't I? And if
I didn't, if I stayed on here, what sort of woman would
He was unable to find an answer. He was trying
not to see a look in her face--or was it in her soul,
revealed through her eyes?--a look that made him think
for the first time of a resemblance between her and her
"You see yourself I've got to go. Any money I
could earn wouldn't more than pay for a room and
"You can let me advance you money while you--"
He hesitated, had an idea which he welcomed eagerly--
"while you study for the stage. Yes, that's the sensible
thing. You can learn to act. Then you will be able to
make a decent living."
She slowly shook her head. "I've no talent for it
--and no liking. No, Mr. Norman, I must go back to
work--and right away."
"But at least wait until you've looked into the stage
business," he urged. "You may find that you like it
and that you have talent for it."
"I can't take any more from you," she said.
"You think I am not to be trusted. I'm not going
to say now how I feel toward you. But I can honestly
say one thing. Now that you are all alone and
unprotected, you needn't have the least fear of me."
She smiled faintly. "I see you don't believe me.
Well, it doesn't matter. I've seen Mr. Tetlow and he
has given me a place at twelve a week in his office."
Norman sank back in his chair. "He is in for
"No. He's head clerk for Pitchley & Culver."
"Culver!" exclaimed Norman. "I don't want you
to go into Culver's office. He's a scoundrel."
Again Dorothy smiled faintly. Norman colored.
"I know he stands well--as well as I do. But I can't
trust you with him. That sounds ridiculous but--it's
"I think I can trust myself," she said quietly. Her
grave regard fixed his. "Don't you?" she asked.
His eyes lowered. "Yes," he replied. "But--why
shouldn't you come back with us? I'll see that you get
a much better position than Culver's giving you."
Over her face crept one of those mysterious
transformations that made her so bafflingly fascinating to
him. Behind that worldly-wise, satirical mask was she
mocking at him? All she said was: "I couldn't work
there. I've settled it with Mr. Tetlow. I go to work