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The Dust by David Graham Phillips

Part 5 out of 8

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"To-morrow!" he cried, starting up.

"And I've found a place to live. Pat and Molly;
will take care of things for you here."

"Dorothy! You don't MEAN this? You're not
going to break off?"

"I shan't see you again--except as we may meet
by accident."

"Do you realize what you're saying means to me?"
he cried. "Don't you know how I love you?" He
advanced toward her. She stood and waited passively,
looking at him. "Dorothy--my love--do you want
to kill me?"

"When are you to be married?" she asked quietly.

"You are playing with me!" he cried. "You are
tormenting me. What have I ever done that you should
treat me this way?" He caught her unresisting hands
and kissed them. "Dear--my dear--don't you care for
me at all?"

"No," she said placidly. "I've always told you so."

He seized her in his arms, kissed her with a frenzy
that was savage, ferocious. "You will drive me mad.
You HAVE driven me mad!" he muttered. And he added,
unconscious that he was speaking his thoughts, so
distracted was he: "You MUST love me--you MUST! No
woman has ever resisted me. You cannot."

She drew herself away from him, stood before him
like snow, like ice. "One thing I have never told you.
I'll tell you now," she said deliberately. "I despise

He fell back a step and the chill of her coldness
seemed to be freezing the blood in his veins.

"I've always despised you," she went on, and he
shivered before that contemptuous word--it seemed only
the more contemptuous for her calmness. "Sometimes
I've despised you thoroughly--again only a little--but
always that feeling."

For a moment he thought she had at last stung his
pride into the semblance of haughtiness. He was able
to look at her with mocking eyes and to say, "I
congratulate you on your cleverness in concealing your

"It wasn't my cleverness," she said wearily. "It
was your blindness. I never deceived you."

"No, you never have," he replied sincerely.
"Perhaps I deserve to be despised. Again, perhaps if you
knew the world--the one I live in--better, you'd think
less harshly of me."

"I don't think harshly of you. How could I--
after all you did for my father?"

"Dorothy, if you'll stay here and study for the
stage--or anything you choose--I promise you I'll
never speak of my feeling for you--or show it in any
way--unless you yourself give me leave."

She smiled with childlike pathos. "You ought not
to tempt me. Do you want me to keep on despising
you? Can't you ever be fair with me?"

The sad, frank gentleness of the appeal swung his
unhinged mind to the other extreme--from the savagery
of passion to a frenzy of remorse. "Fair to YOU?
No," he cried, "because I love you. Oh, I'm ashamed
--bitterly ashamed. I'm capable of any baseness to
get you. You're right. You can't trust me. In going
you're saving me from myself." He hesitated, stared
wildly, appalled at the words that were fighting for
utterance--the words about marriage--about marrying
her! He said hoarsely: "I am mad--mad! I don't
know what I'm saying. Good-by-- For God's sake,
don't think the worst of me, Dorothy. Good-by. I
WILL be a man again--I will!"

And he wrung her hand and, talking incoherently,
he rushed from the room and from the house.


HE went straight home and sought his sister. She
had that moment come in from tea after a matinee.
She talked about the play--how badly it was acted--
and about the women she had seen at tea--how badly
dressed they were. "It's hard to say which is the
more dreadful--the ugly, misshapen human race without
clothes or in the clothes it insists on wearing. And
the talk at that tea! Does no one ever say a pleasant
thing about anyone? Doesn't anyone ever do a pleasant
thing that can be spoken about? I read this morning
Tolstoy's advice about resolving to think all day only
nice thoughts and sticking to it. That sounded good
to me, and I decided to try it." Ursula laughed and
squirmed about in her tight-fitting dress that made an
enchanting display of her figure. "What is one to do?
_I_ can't be a fraud, for one. And if I had stuck to my
resolution I'd have spent the day in lying. What's
the matter, Fred?" Now that her attention was
attracted she observed more closely. "What HAVE you
been doing? You look--frightful!"

"I've broken with her," replied he.

"With Jo?" she cried. "Why, Fred, you can't
--you can't--with the wedding only five days away!"

"Not with Jo."

Ursula breathed noisy relief. She said cheerfully:
"Oh--with the other. Well, I'm glad it's over."

"Over?" said he sardonically. "Over? It's only

"But you'll stick it out, Fred. You've made a fool
of yourself long enough. What was the girl playing
for? Marriage?"

He nodded. "I guess so." He laughed curtly.
"And she almost won."

Ursula smiled with fine mockery. "Almost, but not
quite. I know you men. Women do that sort of fool
thing. But men--never--at least not the ambitious,
snobbish New York men."

"She almost won," he repeated. "At least, I
almost did it. If I had stayed a minute longer I'd have
done it."

"You like to think you would," mocked Ursula.
"But if you had tried to say the words your lungs
would have collapsed, your vocal chords snapped and
your tongue shriveled."

"I am not so damn sure I shan't do it yet," he burst
out fiercely.

"But I am," said Ursula, calm, brisk, practical.
"What's she going to do?"

"Going to work."

Ursula laughed joyously. "What a joke! A woman
go to work when she needn't!"

"She is going to work."

"To work another man."

"She meant it."

"How easily women fool men!--even the wise men
like you."

"She meant it."

"She still hopes to marry you--or she has heard
of your marriage----"

Norman lifted his head. Into his face came the
cynical, suspicious expression.

"And has fastened on some other man. Or perhaps
she's found some good provider who's willing to marry

Norman sprang up, his eyes blazing, his mouth
working cruelly. "By God!" he cried. "If I thought

His sister was alarmed. Such a man--in such a
delirium--might commit any absurdity. He flung himself
down in despair. "Urse, why can't I get rid of
this thing? It's ruining me. It's killing me!"

"Your good sense tells you if you had her you'd
be over it--" She snapped her fingers--"like that."

"Yes--yes--I know it! But--" He groaned--
"she has broken with me."

Ursula went to him and kissed him and took his
head in her arms. "What a BOY-boy it is!" she said
tenderly. "Oh, it must be dreadful to have always
had whatever one wanted and then to find something
one can't have. We women are used to it--and the
usual sort of man. But not your sort, Freddy--and
I'm so sorry for you."

"I want her, Urse--I want her," he groaned, and
he was almost sobbing. "My God, I CAN'T get on
without her."

"Now, Freddy dear, listen to me. You know she's
'way, 'way beneath you--that she isn't at all what
you've got in the habit of picturing her--that it's all
delusion and nonsense----"

"I want her," he repeated. "I want her."

"You'd be ashamed if you had her as a wife--
wouldn't you?"

He was silent.

"She isn't a LADY."

"I don't know," replied he.

"She hasn't any sense. A low sort of cunning,
yes. But not brains--not enough to hold you."

"I don't know," replied he. "She's got enough for
a woman. And--I WANT her."

"She isn't to be compared with Josephine."

"But I don't want Josephine. I want HER."

"But which do you want to MARRY?--to bring
forward as your wife?--to spend your life with?"

"I know. I'm a mad fool. But, Urse, I can't help
it." He stood up suddenly. "I've used every weapon
I've got. Even pride--and it skulked away. My
sense of humor--and it weakened. My will--and it

"Is she so wonderful?"

"She is so--elusive. I can't understand her--I
can't touch her. I can't find her. She keeps me going
like a man chasing an echo."

"Like a man chasing an echo," repeated Ursula
reflectively. "I understand. It is maddening. She must
be clever--in her way."

"Or very simple. God knows which; I don't--and
sometimes I think she doesn't, either." He made a
gesture of dismissal. "Well, it's finished. I must pull
myself together--or try to."

"You will," said his sister confidently. "A
fortnight from now you'll be laughing at yourself."

"I am now. I have been all along. But--it does
no good."

She had to go and dress. But she could not leave
until she had tried to make him comfortable. He was
drinking brandy and soda and staring at his feet which
were stretched straight out toward the fire. "Where's
your sense of humor?" she demanded. "Throw yourself
on your sense of humor. It's a friend that sticks
when all others fail."

"It's my only hope," he said with a grim smile. "I
can see myself. No wonder she despises me."

"Despises you?" scoffed Ursula. "A WOMAN des-
pise YOU! She's crazy about you, I'll bet anything you
like. Before you're through with this you'll find out
I'm right. And then--you'll have no use for her."

"She despises me."

"Well--what of it? Really, Fred, it irritates me
to see you absolutely unlike yourself. Why, you're as
broken-spirited as a henpecked old husband."

"Just that," he admitted, rising and looking drearily
about. "I don't know what the devil to do next.
Everything seems to have stopped."

"Going to see Josephine this evening?"

"I suppose so," was his indifferent reply.

"You'll have to dress after dinner. There's no
time now."

"Dress?" he inquired vaguely. "Why dress?
Why do anything?"

She thought he would not go to Josephine but
would hide in his club and drink. But she was mistaken.
Toward nine o'clock he, in evening dress, with the
expression of a horse in a treadmill, rang the bell of
Josephine's house and passed in at the big bronze doors.
The butler must have particularly admired the way he
tossed aside his coat and hat. As soon as he was in
the presence of his fiancee he saw that she was again in
the throes of some violent agitation.

She began at once: "I've just had the most frightful
scene with father," she said. "He's been hearing
a lot of stuff about you down town and it set him wild."

"Do you mind if I smoke a cigar?" said he, looking
at her unseeingly with haggard, cold eyes. "And
may I have some whisky?"

She rang. "I hope the servants didn't hear him,"
she said. Then, as a step sounded outside she put on
an air of gayety, as if she were still laughing at some
jest he had made. In the doorway appeared her father
one of those big men who win half the battle in
advance on personal appearance of unconquerable might.
Burroughs was noted for his generosity and for his
violent temper. As a rule men of the largeness necessary
to handling large affairs are free from petty vindictiveness.
They are too busy for hatred. They do not
forgive; they are most careful not to forget; they
simply stand ready at any moment to do whatever it
is to their interest to do, regardless of friendships or
animosities. Burroughs was an exception in that he
got his highest pleasure out of pursuing his enemies.
He enjoyed this so keenly that several times--so it was
said--he had sacrificed real money to satisfy a revenge.
But these rumors may have wronged him. It is hardly
probable that a man who would let a weakness carry
him to that pitch of folly could have escaped destruction.
For of all the follies revenge is the most dangerous--
as well as the most fatuous.

Burroughs had a big face. Had he looked less
powerful the bigness of his features, the spread of cheek
and jowl, would have been grotesque. As it was, the
face was impressive, especially when one recalled how
many, many millions he owned and how many more he
controlled. The control was better than the ownership.
The millions he owned made him a coward--he was
afraid he might lose them. The millions he controlled,
and of course used for his own enrichment, made him
brave, for if they were lost in the daring ventures in
which he freely staked them, why, the loss was not his,
and he could shift the blame. Usually Norman treated
him with great respect, for his business gave the firm
nearly half its total income, and it was his daughter and
his wealth, prestige and power, that Norman was marrying.
But this evening he looked at the great man
with a superciliousness that was peculiarly disrespectful
from so young a man to one well advanced toward
old age. Norman had been feeling relaxed, languid,
exhausted. The signs of battle in that powerful face
nerved him, keyed him up at once. He waited with a
joyful impatience while the servant was bringing cigars
and whisky. The enormous quantities of liquor he had
drunk in the last few days had not been without effect.
Alcohol, the general stimulant, inevitably brings out
in strong relief a man's dominant qualities. The
dominant quality of Norman was love of combat.

"Josephine tells me you are in a blue fury," said
Norman pleasantly when the door was closed and the
three were alone. "No--not a blue fury. A black

At the covert insolence of his tone Josephine became
violently agitated. "Father," she said, with the
imperiousness of an only and indulged child, "I have asked
you not to interfere between Fred and me. I thought
I had your promise."

"I said I'd think about it," replied her father. He
had a heavy voice that now and then awoke some string
of the lower octaves of the piano in the corner to a
dismal groan. "I've decided to speak out."

"That's right, sir," said Norman. "Is your quarrel
with me?"

Josephine attempted an easy laugh. "It's that silly
story we were talking about the other day, Fred."

"I supposed so," said he. "You are not smoking,
Mr. Burroughs--" He laughed amiably--"at least
not a cigar."

"The doctor only allows me one, and I've had it,"
replied Burroughs, his eyes sparkling viciously at this
flick of the whip. "What is the truth about that business,

Norman's amused glance encountered the savage
glare mockingly. "Why do you ask?" he inquired.

"Because my daughter's happiness is at stake.
Because I cannot but resent a low scandal about a man
who wishes to marry my daughter."

"Very proper, sir," said Norman graciously.

"My daughter," continued Burroughs with accele-
rating anger, "tells me you have denied the story."

{illust. caption = " `Father . . . I have asked you not to
interfere between
Fred and me.' "}

Norman interrupted with an astonished look at
Josephine. She colored, gazed at him imploringly. His
face terrified her. When body and mind are in health
and at rest the fullness of the face hides the character
to a great extent. But when a human being is sick or
very tired the concealing roundness goes and in the
clearly marked features the true character is revealed.
In Norman's face, haggard by his wearing emotions, his
character stood forth--the traits of strength, of
tenacity, of inevitable purpose. And Josephine saw and

"But," Burroughs went on, "I have it on the best
authority that it is true."

Norman, looking into the fascinating face of danger,
was thrilled. "Then you wish to break off the engagement?"
he said in the gentlest, smoothest tone.

Burroughs brought his fist down on the table--and
Norman recognized the gesture of the bluffer. "I wish
you to break off with that woman!" he cried. "I
insist upon it--upon positive assurances from you."

"Fred!" pleaded Josephine. "Don't listen to him.
Remember, I have said nothing."

He had long been looking for a justifying grievance
against her. It now seemed to him that he had
found it. "Why should you?" he said genially but
with subtle irony, "since you are getting your father
to speak for you."

There was just enough truth in this to entangle her
and throw her into disorder. She had been afraid of
the consequences of her father's interfering with a man
so spirited as Norman, but at the same time she had
longed to have some one put a check upon him. Norman's
suave remark made her feel that he could see into
her inmost soul--could see the anger, the jealousy, the
doubt, the hatred-tinged love, the love-saturated hate
seething and warring there.

Burroughs was saying: "If we had not committed
ourselves so deeply, I should deal very differently with
this matter."

"Why should that deter you?" said Norman--and
Josephine gave a piteous gasp. "If this goes much
farther, I assure you I shall not be deterred."

Burroughs, firmly planted in a big leather chair,
looked at the young man in puzzled amazement. "I
see you think you have us in your power," he said at
last. "But you are mistaken."

"On the contrary," rejoined the young man, "I
see you believe you have me in your power. And in a
sense you are NOT mistaken."

"Father, he is right," cried Josephine agitatedly.
"I shouldn't love and respect him as I do if he would
submit to this hectoring."

"Hectoring!" exclaimed Burroughs. "Josephine,
leave the room. I cannot discuss this matter properly
before you."

"I hope you will not leave, Josephine," said Nor-
man. "There is nothing to be said that you cannot
and ought not to hear."

"I'm not an infant, father," said Josephine.
"Besides, it is as Fred says. He has done nothing--

"Then why does he not say so?" demanded
Burroughs, seeing a chance to recede from his former too
advanced position. "That's all I ask."

"But I told you all about it, father," said Josephine
angrily. "They've been distorting the truth, and the
truth is to his credit."

Norman avoided the glance she sent to him; it was
only a glance and away, for more formidably than ever
his power was enthroned in his haggard face. He
stood with his back to the fire and it was plain that
the muscles of his strong figure were braced to give
and to receive a shock. "Mr. Burroughs," he said,
"your daughter is mistaken. Perhaps it is my fault
--in having helped her to mislead herself. The plain
truth is, I have become infatuated with a young woman.
She cares nothing about me--has repulsed me. I have
been and am making a fool of myself about her. I've
been hoping to cure myself. I still hope. But I am
not cured."

There was absolute silence in the room. Norman
stole a glance at Josephine. She was sitting erect, a
greenish pallor over her ghastly face.

He said: "If she will take me, now that she knows
the truth, I shall be grateful--and I shall make what
effort I can to do my best."

He looked at her and she at him. And for an
instant her eyes softened. There was the appeal of weak
human heart to weak human heart in his gaze. Her lip
quivered. A brief struggle between vanity and love--
and vanity, the stronger, the strongest force in her life,
dominating it since earliest babyhood and only seeming
to give way to love when love came--it was vanity that
won. She stiffened herself and her mouth curled with
proud scorn. She laughed--a sneer of jealous rage.
"Father," she said, "the lady in the case is a common
typewriter in his office."

But to men--especially to practical men--
differences of rank and position among women are not
fundamentally impressive. Man is in the habit of taking what
he wants in the way of womankind wherever he finds it,
and he understands that habit in other men. He was
furious with Norman, but he did not sympathize with
his daughter's extreme attitude. He said to Norman

"You say you have broken with the woman?"

"She has broken with me," replied Norman.

"At any rate, everything is broken off."


"Then there is no reason why the marriage should
not go on." He turned to his daughter. "If you
understood men, you would attach no importance to this
matter. As you yourself said, the woman isn't a lady
--isn't in our class. That sort of thing amounts to
nothing. Norman has acted well. He has shown the
highest kind of honesty--has been truthful where most
men would have shifted and lied. Anyhow, things have
gone too far." Not without the soundest reasons had
Burroughs accepted Norman as his son-in-law; and he
had no fancy for giving him up, when men of his
pre-eminent fitness were so rare.

There was another profound silence. Josephine
looked at Norman. Had he returned her gaze, the event
might have been different; for within her there was
now going on a struggle between two nearly evenly
matched vanities--the vanity of her own outraged pride
and the vanity of what the world would say and think,
if the engagement were broken off at that time and in
those circumstances. But he did not look at her. He
kept his eyes fixed upon the opposite wall, and there
was no sign of emotion of any kind in his stony
features. Josephine rose, suppressed a sob, looked
arrogant scorn from eyes shining with tears--tears of self-
pity. "Send him away, father," she said. "He has
tried to degrade ME! I am done with him." And she
rushed from the room, her father half starting from
his chair to detain her.

He turned angrily on Norman. "A hell of a mess
you've made!" he cried.

"A hell of a mess," replied the young man.

"Of course she'll come round. But you've got to
do your part."

"It's settled," said Norman. And he threw his
cigar into the fireplace. "Good night."

"Hold on!" cried Burroughs. "Before you go,
you must see Josie alone and talk with her."

"It would be useless," said Norman. "You know

Burroughs laid his hand friendlily but heavily upon
the young man's shoulder. "This outburst of nonsense
might cost you two young people your happiness
for life. This is no time for jealousy and false pride.
Wait a moment."

"Very well," said Norman. "But it is useless."
He understood Josephine now--he who had become a
connoisseur of love. He knew that her vanity-founded
love had vanished.

Burroughs disappeared in the direction his daughter
had taken. Norman waited several minutes--long
enough slowly to smoke a cigarette. Then he went into
the hall and put on his coat with deliberation. No one
appeared, not even a servant. He went out into the

In the morning papers he found the announcement
of the withdrawal of the invitations--and from half a
column to several columns of comment, much of it
extremely unflattering to him.


WHEN a "high life" engagement such as that of
Norman and Miss Burroughs, collapses on the eve of
the wedding, the gossip and the scandal, however great,
are but a small part of the mess. Doubtless many a
marriage--and not in high life alone, either--has been
put through, although the one party or the other or
both have discovered that disaster was inevitable--solely
because of the appalling muddle the sensible course
would precipitate. In the case of the Norman-Burroughs
fiasco, there were--to note only a few big items
--such difficulties as several car loads of presents from
all parts of the earth to be returned, a house furnished
throughout and equipped to the last scullery maid and
stable boy to be disposed of, the entire Burroughs
domestic economy which had been reconstructed to be
put back upon its former basis.

It is not surprising that, as Ursula Fitzhugh was
credibly informed, Josephine almost decided to send for
Bob Culver and marry him on the day before the day
appointed for her marriage to Fred. The reason given
for her not doing this sounded plausible. Culver,
despairing of making the match on which his ambition--
and therefore his heart was set--and seeing a chance to
get suddenly rich, had embarked for a career as a blackmailer
of corporations. That is, he nosed about for a
big corporation stealthily doing or arranging to do
some unlawful but highly profitable acts; he bought a
few shares of its stock, using a fake client as a blind; he
then proceeded to threaten it with exposure, expensive
hindrances and the like, unless it bought him off at a
huge profit to himself. This business was regarded as
most disreputable and--thanks to the power of the big
corporations over the courts--had resulted in the sending
of several of its practisers to jail or on hasty journeys
to foreign climes. But Culver, almost if not quite
as good a lawyer as Norman, was too clever to be caught
in that way. However, while he was getting very rich
rapidly, he was as yet far from rich enough to overcome
the detestation of old Burroughs, and to be eligible for
the daughter.

So, Josephine sailed away to Europe, with the
consolation that her father was so chagrined by the fizzle
that he had withdrawn his veto upon the purchase of a
foreign title--that veto having been the only reason she
had looked at home for a husband. Strange indeed are
the ways of love--never stranger than when it comes
into contact with the vanities of wealth and social
position and the other things that cause a human being to
feel that he or she is lifted clear of and high above the
human condition. Josephine had her consolation. For
Norman the only consolation was escape from a marriage
which had become so irksome in anticipation that
he did not dare think what it would be in the reality.
Over against this consolation was set a long list of
disasters. He found himself immediately shunned by all
his friends. Their professed reason was that he had
acted shabbily in the breaking of the engagement; for,
while it was assumed that Josephine must have done the
actual breaking, it was also assumed that he must have
given her provocation and to spare. This virtuous
indignation was in large part mere pretext, as virtuous
indignation in frail mortals toward frail mortals is apt
to be. The real reason for shying off from Norman was
his atmosphere of impending downfall. And certainly
that atmosphere had eaten away and dissipated all his
former charm. He looked dull and boresome--and he

But the chief disaster was material. As has been
said, old Burroughs, in his own person and in the enterprises
he controlled, gave Norman's firm about half its
income. The day Josephine sailed, Lockyer, senior
partner of the firm, got an intimation that unless Norman
left, Burroughs would take his law business elsewhere,
and would "advise" others of their clients to
follow his example. Lockyer no sooner heard than he
began to bestir himself. He called into consultation the
learned Benchley and the astute Sanders and the soft
and sly Lockyer junior. There could be no question
that Norman must be got rid of. The only point was,
who should inform the lion that he had been deposed?

After several hours of anxious discussion, Lockyer,
his inward perturbations hid beneath that mask of smug
and statesmanlike respectability, entered the lion's den
--a sick lion, sick unto death probably, but not a dead
lion. "When you're ready to go uptown, Frederick,"
said he in his gentlest, most patriarchal manner, "let me
know. I want to have a little talk with you."

Norman, heavy eyed and listless, looked at the handsome
old fraud. As he looked something of the piercing
quality and something of the humorous came back into
his eyes. "Sit down and say it now," said he.

"I'd prefer to talk where we can be quiet."

Norman rang his bell and when an office boy
appeared, said "No one is to disturb me until I ring
again." Then as the boy withdrew he said to Lockyer:
"Now, sir, what is it?"

Lockyer strolled to the window, looked out as if
searching for something he failed to find, came back to
the chair on the opposite side of the desk from Norman,
seated himself. "I don't know how to begin," said he.
"It is hard to say painful things to anyone I have such
an affection for as I have for you."

Norman pushed a sheet of letter paper across the
desk toward his partner. "Perhaps that will help you,"
observed he carelessly.

Lockyer put on his nose glasses with the gesture of
grace and intellect that was famous. He read--a brief
demand for a release from the partnership and a request
for an immediate settlement. Lockyer blinked off his
glasses with the gesture that was as famous and as
admiringly imitated by lesser legal lights as was his gesture
of be-spectacling himself. "This is most astounding,
my boy," said he. "It is most--most----"

"Gratifying?" suggested Norman with a sardonic

"Not in the least, Frederick. The very reverse--
the exact reverse."

Norman gave a shrug that said "Why do you persist
in those frauds--and with ME?" But he did not

"I know," pursued Lockyer, "that you would not
have taken this step without conclusive reasons. And
I shall not venture the impertinence of prying or of

"Thanks," said Norman drily. "Now, as to the
terms of settlement."

Lockyer, from observation and from gossip, had a
pretty shrewd notion of the state of his young partner's
mind, and drew the not unwarranted conclusion that he
would be indifferent about terms--would be "easy."
With the suavity of Mr. Great-and-Good-Heart he said:
"My dear boy, there can't be any question of money
with us. We'll do the generously fair thing--for, we're
not hucksterers but gentlemen."

"That sounds terrifying," observed the young man,
with a faint ironic smile. "I feel my shirt going and
the cold winds whistling about my bare body. To save
time, let ME state the terms. You want to be rid of me.
I want to go. It's a whim with me. It's a necessity for

Lockyer shifted uneasily at these evidences of
unimpaired mentality and undaunted spirit.

"Here are my terms," proceeded Norman. "You
are to pay me forty thousand a year for five years--
unless I open an office or join another firm. In that
case, payments are to cease from the date of my re-
entering practice."

Lockyer leaned back and laughed benignantly. "My
dear Norman," he said with a gently remonstrant shake
of the head, "those terms are impossible. Forty thousand
a year! Why that is within ten thousand of the
present share of any of us but you. It is the income of
nearly three quarters of a million at six per cent--of
a million at four per cent!"

"Very well," said Norman, settling back in his
chair. "Then I stand pat."

"Now, my dear Norman, permit me to propose
terms that are fair to all----"

"When I said I stood pat I meant that I would
stay on." His eyes laughed at Lockyer. "I guess we
can live without Burroughs and his dependents. Maybe
they will find they can't live without us." He slowly
leaned forward until, with his forearms against the edge
of his desk, he was concentrating a memorable gaze upon
Lockyer. "Mr. Lockyer," said he, "I have been
exercising my privilege as a free man to make a damn fool
of myself. I shall continue to exercise it so long as I
feel disposed that way. But let me tell you something.
I can afford to do it. If a man's asset is money, or
character or position or relatives and friends or popular
favor or any other perishable article, he must take care
how he trifles with it. He may find himself irretrievably
ruined. But my asset happens to be none of those
things. It is one that can be lost or damaged only by
insanity or death. Do you follow me?"

The old man looked at him with the sincere and most
flattering tribute of compelled admiration. "What a
mind you've got, Frederick--and what courage!"

"You accept my terms?"

"If the others agree--and I think they will."

"They will," said Norman.

The old man was regarding him with eyes that had
genuine anxiety in them. "Why DO you do it, Fred?"
he said.

"Because I wish to be free," replied Norman. He
would never have told the full truth to that incredulous
old cynic of a time-server--the truth that he was resigning
at the dictation of a pride which forbade him to
involve others in the ruin he, in his madness, was bent

"I don't mean, why do you resign," said Lockyer.
"I mean the other--the--woman."

Norman laughed harshly.

"I've seen too much of the world not to understand,"
continued Lockyer. "The measureless power
of woman over man--especially--pardon me, my dear
Norman--especially a bad woman!"

"The measureless power of a man's imagination
over himself," rejoined Norman. "Did you ever see
or hear of a man without imagination being upset by
a woman? It's in here, Mr. Lockyer"--he rapped his
forehead--"altogether in here."

"You realize that. Yet you go on--and for such a
--pardon me, my boy, for saying it--for such a trifling

"What does `trifling' mean, sir?" replied the
young man. "What is trifling and what is important?
It depends upon the point of view. What I want--
that is vital. What I do not want--that is paltry.
It's my nature to go for what I happen to want--to
go for it with all there is in me. I will take nothing
else--nothing else."

There was in his eyes the glitter called insanity--
the glitter that reflects the state of mind of any strong
man when possessed of one of those fixed ideas that are
the idiosyncrasy of the strong. It would have been
impossible for Lockyer to be possessed in that way; he
had not the courage nor the concentration nor the inde-
pendence of soul; like most men, even able men, he
dealt only in the conventional. Not in his wildest youth
could he have wrecked or injured himself for a woman;
women, for him, occupied their conventional place in the
scheme of things, and had no allure beyond the
conventionally proper and the conventionally improper--
for, be it remembered, vice has its beaten track no less
than virtue and most of the vicious are as tame and
unimaginative as the plodders in the high roads of
propriety. Still, Lockyer had associated with strong men,
men of boundless desires; thus, he could in a measure
sympathize with his young associate. What a pity that
these splendid powers should be perverted from the
ordinary desires of strong men!

Norman rose, to end the interview. "My address is
my house. They will forward--if I go away."

Lockyer gave him a hearty handclasp, made a few
phrases about good wishes and the like, left him alone.
The general opinion was that Norman was done for.
But Lockyer could not see it. He had seen too many
men fall only to rise out of lowest depths to greater
heights than they had fallen from. And Norman was
only thirty-seven. Perhaps this would prove to be
merely a dip in a securely brilliant career and not a fall
at all. In that case--with such a brain, such a genius
for the lawlessness of the law, what a laughing on the
other side of the mouth there might yet be among young
Norman's enemies--and friends!

He spent most of the next few days--the lunch time,
the late afternoon, finally the early morning hours--
lurking about the Equitable Building, in which were the
offices of Pytchley and Culver. As that building had
entrances on four streets, the best he could do was to
walk round and round, with an occasional excursion
through the corridors and past the elevators. He had
written her, asking to see her; he had got no answer.
He ceased to wait at the elevators after he had twice
narrowly escaped being seen by Tetlow. He was
indifferent to Tetlow, except as meeting him might make
it harder to see Dorothy. He drank hard. But drink
never affected him except to make him more grimly
tenacious in whatever he had deliberately and soberly
resolved. Drink did not explain--neither wholly nor in
any part--this conduct of his. It, and the more erratic
vagaries to follow, will seem incredible conduct for a man
of Norman's character and position to feeble folk with
their feeble desires, their dread of criticism and ridicule,
their exaggerated and adoring notions of the master
men. In fact, it was the natural outcome of the man's
nature--arrogant, contemptuous of his fellowmen and
of their opinions, and, like all the master men, capable
of such concentration upon a desire that he would adopt
any means, high or low, dignified or the reverse, if only
it promised to further his end. Fred Norman, at these
vulgar vigils, took the measure of his own self-abasement
to a hair's breadth. But he kept on, with the fever of
his infatuation burning like a delirium, burning higher
and deeper with each baffled day.

At noon, one day, as he swung into Broadway from
Cedar street, he ran straight into Tetlow. It was
raining and his umbrella caught in Tetlow's. It was a
ludicrous situation, but there was no answering smile in
his former friend's eyes. Tetlow glowered.

"I've heard you were hanging about," he said.
"How low you have sunk!"

Norman laughed in his face. "Poor Tetlow," he
said. "I never expected to see you develop into a
crusader. And what a Don Quixote you look. Cheer up,
old man. Don't take it so hard."

"I warn you to keep away from her," said Tetlow
in subdued, tense tones, his fat face quivering with
emotion. "Hasn't she shown you plainly that she'll have
nothing to do with you?"

"I want only five minutes' talk with her, Tetlow,"
said Norman, dropping into an almost pleading tone.
"And I guarantee I'll say nothing you wouldn't
approve, if you heard. You are advising her badly. You
are doing her an injury."

"I am protecting her from a scoundrel," retorted

"She'll not thank you for it, when she finds out the

"You can write to her. What a shallow liar you

"I cannot write what I must say," said Norman. It
had never been difficult for him, however provoked, to
keep his temper--outwardly. Tetlow's insults were to
him no more than the barkings of a watch dog, and
one not at all dangerous, but only amusing. "I must
see her. If you are her friend, and not merely a jealous,
disappointed lover, you'll advise her to see me."

"You shall not see her, if I can help it," cried his
former friend. "And if you persist in annoying

"Don't make futile threats, Tetlow," Norman
interrupted. "You've done me all the mischief you can do.
I see you hate me for the injuries you've done me. That's
the way it always is. But I don't hate you. It was at
my suggestion that the Lockyer firm is trying to get
you back as a partner." Then, as Tetlow colored--
"Oh, I see you're accepting their offer."

"If I had thought----"

"Nonsense. You're not a fool. How does it matter
whose the hand, if only it's a helping hand? And you
may be sure they'd never have made you the offer if they
didn't need you badly. All the credit I claim is having
the intelligence to enlighten their stupidity with the
right suggestion."

In spite of himself Tetlow was falling under the spell
of Norman's personality, of the old and deep admiration
the lesser man had for the greater.

"Norman," he said, "how can you be such a com-
bination of bigness and petty deviltry? You are a
monster of self-indulgence. It's a God's mercy there
aren't more men with your selfishness and your desires."

Norman laughed sardonically. "The difference
between me and most men," said he, "isn't in selfishness
or in desires, but in courage. Courage, Billy--there's
what most of you lack. And even in courage I'm not
alone. My sort fill most of the high places."

Tetlow looked dismal confession of a fear that Norman
was right.

"Yes," pursued Norman, "in this country there are
enough wolves to attend to pretty nearly all the sheep--
though it's amazing how much mutton there is." With
an abrupt shift from raillery, "You'll help me with her,

"Why don't you let her alone, Fred?" pleaded
Tetlow. "It isn't worthy of you--a big man like you. Let
her alone, Fred!--the poor child, trying to earn her own
living in an honest way."

"Let her alone? Tetlow, I shall never let her alone
--as long as she and I are both alive."

The fat man, with his premature wrinkles and his
solemn air of law books that look venerable though fresh
from the press, took on an added pastiness. "Fred--for
God's sake, can't you love her in a noble way--a way
worthy of you?"

Norman gave him a penetrating glance. "Is love--
such love as mine--AND yours--" There Tetlow flushed
guiltily--"is it ever noble?--whatever that means. No,
it's human--human. But I'm not trying to harm her.
I give you my word. . . . Will you help me--and her?"

Tetlow hesitated. His heavy cheeks quivered. "I
don't trust you," he cried violently--the violence of a
man fighting against an enemy within. "Don't ever
speak to me again." And he rushed away through the
rain, knocking umbrellas this way and that.

About noon two days later, as Norman was making
one of his excursions past the Equitable elevators, he
saw Bob Culver at the news stand. It so happened that
as he recognized Culver, Culver cast in the direction of
the elevators the sort of look that betrays a man waiting
for a woman. Unseen by Culver, Norman stopped short.
Into his face blazed the fury of suspicion, jealousy, and
hate--one of the cyclones of passion that swept him
from time to time and revealed to his own appalled self
the full intensity of his feeling, the full power of the
demon that possessed him. Culver was of those glossy,
black men who are beloved of women. He was much
handsomer than Norman, who, indeed, was not handsome
at all, but was regarded as handsome because he had
the air of great distinction. Many times these two
young men had been pitted against each other in legal
battles. Every time Norman had won. Twice they had
contended for the favor of the same lady. Each had
scored once. But as Culver's victory was merely for a
very light and empty-headed lady of the stage while he
had won Josephine Burroughs away from Culver, the
balance was certainly not against him.

As Norman slipped back and into the cross corridor
to avoid meeting Culver, Dorothy Hallowell hurried from
a just descended elevator and, with a quick, frightened
glance toward Culver, in profile, almost ran toward
Norman. It was evident that she had only one thought
--to escape being seen by her new employer. When she
realized that some one was standing before her and
moved to one side to pass, she looked up. "Oh!" she
gasped, starting back. And then she stood there white
and shaking.

"Is that beast Culver hounding you?" demanded

She recovered herself quickly. With flashing eyes,
she cried: "How dare you! How dare you!"

Norman, possessed by his rage against Culver, paid
no attention. "If he don't let you alone," he said, "I'll
thrash him into a hospital for six months. You must
leave his office at once. You'll not go back there."

"You must be crazy," replied she, calm again.
"I've no complaint to make of the way I'm being
treated. I never was so well off in my life. And Mr.
Culver is very kind and polite."

"You know what that means," said Norman harshly.

"Everyone isn't like you," retorted she.

He was examining her from head to foot, as if to
make sure that it was she with no charm missing. He
noted that she was much less poorly dressed than when
she worked for his firm. In those days she often looked
dowdy, showed plainly the girl who has to make a hasty
toilet in a small bedroom, with tiny wash-stand and
looking-glass, in the early, coldest hours of a cold morning.
Now she looked well taken care of physically, not
so well, not anything like so well as the women uptown--
the ladies with nothing to do but make toilettes; still,
unusually well looked after for a working girl. At first
glance after those famished and ravening days of longing
for her and seeking her, she before him in rather
dim reality of the obvious office-girl, seemed disappointing.
It could not be that this insignificance was the
cause of all his fever and turmoil. He began to hope
that he was recovering, that the cloud of insane desire
was clearing from his sky. But a second glance killed
that hope. For, once more he saw her mystery, her
beauties that revealed their perfection and splendor only
to the observant.

While he looked she was regaining her balance, as
the fading color in her white skin and the subsidence
of the excitement in her eyes evidenced. "Let me pass,
please," she said coldly--for, she was against the wall
with him standing before her in such a way that she
could not go until he moved aside.

"We'll lunch together," he said. "I want to talk
with you. Did that well-meaning ass--Tetlow--tell

"There is nothing you can say that I wish to hear,"
was her quiet reply.

"Your eyes--the edges of the lids are red. You have
been crying?"

She lifted her glance to his and he had the sense of a
veil drawing aside to reveal a desolation. "For my
father," she said.

His face flushed. He looked steadily at her. "Now
that he is gone, you have no one to protect you. I

"I need no one," said she with a faintly contemptuous smile.

"You do need some one--and I am going to undertake it."

Her face lighted up. He thought it was because of
what he had said. But she immediately undeceived him.
She said in a tone of delighted relief, "Here comes Mr.
Tetlow. You must excuse me."

"Dorothy--listen!" he cried. "We are going to
be married at once."

The words exploded dizzily in his ears. He assumed
they would have a far more powerful effect upon her.
But her expression did not change. "No," she said
hastily. "I must go with Mr. Tetlow." Tetlow was
now at hand, his heavy face almost formidable in its dark
ferocity. She said to him: "I was waiting for you.
Come on"

Norman turned eagerly to his former friend. He
said: "Tetlow, I have just asked Miss Hallowell to be
my wife."

Tetlow stared. Then pain and despair seemed to
flood and ravage his whole body.

"I told you the other day," Norman went on, "that
I was ready to do the fair thing. I have just been
saying to Miss Hallowell that she must have some one to
protect her. You agree with me, don't you?"

Tetlow, fumbling vaguely with his watch chain,
gazed straight ahead. "Yes," he said with an effort.
"Yes, you are right, Norman. An office is no place for
an attractive girl as young as she is."

"Has Culver been annoying her?" inquired Norman.

Tetlow started. "Ah--she's told you--has she? I
rather hoped she hadn't noticed or understood."

Both men now looked at the girl. She had shrunk
into herself until she was almost as dim and unimpressive,
as cipher-like as when Norman first beheld her. Also
she seemed at least five years less than her twenty.
"Dorothy," said Norman, "you will let me take care of
you--won't you?"

"No," she said--and the word carried all the quiet
force she was somehow able to put into her short, direct

Tetlow's pasty sallowness took on a dark red tinge.
He looked at her in surprise. "You don't understand,
Miss Dorothy," he said. "He wants to marry you."

"I understand perfectly," replied she, with the far-
away look in her blue eyes. "But I'll not marry him.
I despise him. He frightens me. He sickens me."

Norman clinched his hands and the muscles of his
jaw in the effort to control himself. "Dorothy," he
said, "I've not acted as I should. Tetlow will tell you
that there is good excuse for me. I know you don't
understand about those things--about the ways of the

"I understand perfectly," she interrupted. "It's
you that don't understand. I never saw anyone so
conceited. Haven't I told you I don't love you, and don't
want anything to do with you?"

Tetlow, lover though he was--or perhaps because he
was lover, of the hopeless kind that loves generously--
could not refrain from protest. The girl was flinging
away a dazzling future. It wasn't fair to her to let her
do it when if she appreciated she would be overwhelmed
with joy and gratitude. "I believe you ought to listen
to Norman, Miss Dorothy," he said pleadingly. "At
any rate, think it over--don't answer right away. He
is making you an honorable proposal--one that's
advantageous in every way----"

Dorothy regarded him with innocent eyes, wide and
wondering. "I didn't think you could talk like that,
Mr. Tetlow!" she exclaimed. "You heard what I said
to him--about the way I felt. How could I be his wife?
He tried everything else--and, now, though he's ashamed
of it, he's trying to get me by marriage. Oh, I understand.
I wish I didn't. I'd not feel so low." She looked
at Norman. "Can't you realize EVER that I don't want
any of the grand things you're so crazy about--that I
want something very different--something you could
never give me--or get for me?"

"Isn't there anything I can do, Dorothy, to make
you forget and forgive?" he cried, like a boy, an
infatuated boy. "For God's sake, Tetlow, help me! Tell
her I'm not so rotten as she thinks. I'll be anything you
like, my darling--ANYTHING--if only you'll take me.
For I must have you. You're the only thing in the
world I care for--and, without you, I've no interest in

He was so impassioned that passersby began to
observe them curiously. Tetlow became uneasy. But
Norman and Dorothy were unconscious of what was going
on around them. The energy of his passion compelled
her, though the passion itself was unwelcome.
"I'm sorry," she said gently. "Though you would have
hurt me, if you could, I don't want to hurt you. . . .
I'm sorry. I can't love you. . . . I'm sorry. Come on,
Mr. Tetlow."

Norman stood aside. She and Tetlow went on out of
the building. He remained in the same place, oblivious
of the crowd streaming by, each man or woman with a
glance at his vacant stare.


THAN Fred Norman no man ever had better reason
to feel securely entrenched upon the heights of success.
It was no silly vaunt of optimism for him to tell Lockyer
that only loss of life or loss of mind could dislodge
him. And a few days after Dorothy had extinguished
the last spark of hope he got ready to pull himself
together and show the world that it was indulging too
soon in its hypocritical headshakings over his ruin.

"I am going to open an office of my own at once,"
he said to his sister.

She did not wish to discourage him, but she could
not altogether keep her thoughts from her face. She
had, in a general way, a clear idea of the complete
system of tollgates, duly equipped with strong barriers,
which the mighty few have established across practically
all the highroads to material success. Also, she
felt in her brother's manner and tone a certain profound
discouragement, a lack of the unconquerable
spirit which had carried him so far so speedily. It is
not a baseless notion that the man who has never been
beaten is often destroyed by his first reverse. Ursula
feared the spell of success had been broken for him.

"You mean," she suggested, with apparent carelessness,
"that you will give up your forty thousand a

He made a disdainful gesture. "I can make more
than that," said he. "It's a second rate lawyer who
can't in this day."

"Of course you can," replied she tactfully. "But
why not take a rest first? Then there's old Burroughs
--on the war path. Wouldn't it be wise to wait till
he calms down?"

"If Burroughs or any other man is necessary to
me," rejoined Fred, "the sooner I find it out the better.
I ought to know just where I--I myself--stand."

"No one is necessary to you but yourself," said
Ursula, proudly and sincerely. "But, Fred-- Are
you yourself just now?"

"No, I'm not," admitted he. "But the way to
become so again isn't by waiting but by working." An
expression of sheer wretchedness came into his listless,
heavy eyes. "Urse, I've got to conquer my weakness
now, or go under."

She was eager to hold on to the secure forty
thousand a year--for his sake no less than for her own.
She argued with him with all the adroitness of a mind
as good in its way as his own. But she could not shake
his resolution. And she in prudence, desisted when he
said bitterly: "I see you've lost confidence in me.
Well, I don't blame you. . . . So have I." Then after
a moment, violently rather than strongly: "But I've
got to get it back. If I don't I'm only putting off the
smash--a complete smash."

"I don't see quite how it's to be arranged," said
she, red and hesitating. For, she feared he would
think her altogether selfish in her anxiety. He
certainly would have been justified in so thinking; he knew
how rarely generosity survived in the woman who leads
the soft and idle life.

"How long can we keep on as we're living now--
if there's nothing, or little, coming in?"

"I don't know," confessed she. She was as poor at
finance as he, and had certainly not been improved by
his habit of giving her whatever she happened to think
was necessary. "I can't say. Perhaps a few months--
I don't know-- Not long, I'm afraid."

"Six months?"

"Oh, no. You see--the fact is--I've been rather
careless about the bills. You're so generous, Fred--
and one is so busy in New York. I guess we owe a
good deal--here and there and yonder. And--the last
few days some of the tradespeople have been pressing
for payment."

"You see!" exclaimed he. "The report is going
round that I'm ruined and done for. I've simply got
to make good. If you can't keep up a front, shut up
the house and go abroad. You can stay till I've got
my foot back on its neck."

She believed in him, at bottom. She could not
conceive how appearances and her forebodings could be
true. Such strength as his could not be overwhelmed
thus suddenly. And by so slight a thing!--by an
unsatisfied passion for a woman, and an insignificant
woman, at that. For, like all women, like all the world
for that matter, she measured a passion by the woman
who was the object of it, instead of by the man who
fabricated it. "Yes--I'll go abroad," said she,

"Quietly arrange for a long stay," he advised. "I
HOPE it won't be long. But I never plan on hope."

Thus, with his sister and Fitzhugh out of the way
and the heaviest of his burdens of expense greatly
lightened, he set about rehabitating himself. He took an
office, waited for clients. And clients came--excellent
clients. Came and precipitately left him.

There were two reasons for it. The first--the one
most often heard--was the story going round that he
had been, and probably still was, out of his mind. No
deadlier or crueler weapon can be used against a man
than that same charge as to his sanity. It has been
known to destroy, or seriously maim, brilliant and able
men with no trace of any of the untrustworthy kinds of
insanity. Where the man's own conduct gives color to
the report, the attack is usually mortal. And Norman
had acted the crazy man. The second reason was the
hostility of Burroughs, reinforced by all the hatreds
and jealousies Norman's not too respectful way of
dealing with his fellow men had been creating through
fifteen years.

The worst moment in the life of a man who has
always proudly regarded himself as above any need
whatever from his fellow men is when he discovers all
in a flash, that the timid animal he spurned as it fawned
has him upon his back, has its teeth and claws at his
helpless throat.

For four months he stood out against the isolation,
the suspicion as to his sanity, the patronizing pity of
men who but a little while before had felt honored when
he spoke to them. For four months he gave battle to
unseen and silent foes compassing him on every side.
He had no spirit for the fight; his love of Dorothy
Hallowell and his complete rout there had taken the
spirit out of him--and with it had gone that confidence
in himself and in his luck which had won him so many
critical battles. Then-- He had been keeping up a
large suite of offices, a staff of clerks and stenographers
and all the paraphernalia of the great and successful
lawyer. He had been spreading out the little business
he got in a not unsuccessful effort to make it appear
big and growing. He now gave up these offices and
the costly pride, pomp and circumstance--left with
several thousand dollars owing. He took two small rooms
in a building tenanted by beginners and cheap shysters.
He continued to live at his club, where even the servants
were subtly insolent to him; he could see the time
approaching when he might have to let himself be dropped
for failing to pay dues and bills.

He stared at his ruin in stupid and dazed amazement.
Usually, to hear or to read about such a catastrophe
as this is to get a vague, rather impressive
notion of something picturesque and romantic. Ruined,
like all the big fateful words, has a dignified sound.
But the historians and novelists and poets and other
keepers of human records have a pleasant, but not very
honest way, of omitting practically all the essentials
from their records and substituting glittering imaginings
that delight the reader--and wofully mislead him
as to the truth about life. What wonder that we
learn slowly--and improve slowly. How wofully we
have been, and are, misled by all upon whom we have
relied as teachers.

Already one of these charming tales of majestic
downfall was in process of manufacture, with Frederick
Norman as the central figure. It was only awaiting
his suicide or some other mode of complete submergence
for its final glose of glamor. In this manufacture, the
truth, as usual, had been almost omitted; such truth as
was retained for this artistic version of a human
happening was so perverted that it was falser than the
simon pure fictions with which it was interwoven. Just
as the literal truth about his success was far from being
altogether to his credit, so the literal truth as to his fall
gave him little of the vesture of the hero, and that
little ill fitting, to cover his naked humanness. Let
him who has risen to material success altogether by
methods approved by the idealists, let him who has
fallen from on high with graceful majesty, without
hysterical clutchings and desperate attempts at self-
salvation in disregard of the safety of others--let either
of these superhuman beings come forward with the first
stone for Norman.

Those at some distance from the falling man could
afford to be romantic and piteous over his fate. Those
in his dangerous neighborhood were too busy getting
out of the way. "Man falling--stand from under!"
was the cry--how familiar it is!--and acquaintances
and friends fled in mad skedaddle. He would surely be
asking favors--would be trying to borrow money. It
is no peculiarity of rats to desert a sinking ship; it is
simply an inevitable precaution in a social system
modeled as yet upon nature's cruel law of the survival of
the fittest. A falling man is first of all a warning to
all other men high enough up to be able to fall--a
warning to them to take care lest they fall also where
footing is so insecure and precipices and steeps beset
every path.

Norman, falling, falling, gazed round him and up
and down, in dazed wonder. He had seen many others
fall. He had seen just where and just why they missed
their footing. And he had been confident that with him
no such misstep was possible. He could not believe; a
little while, and luck would turn, and up he would go
again--higher than before. Many a lawyer--to look
no farther than his own profession--had through
recklessness or pride or inadvertence got the big men down
on him. But after a time they had relented or had
found an exact use for him; and fall had been succeeded
by rise. Was there a single instance where a man of
good brain had been permanently downed? No, not
one. Stay-- Some of these unfortunates had failed to
reappear on the heights of success. Yes, thinking of
the matter, he recalled several such. Had he been
altogether right in assuming, in his days of confidence and
success, that they stayed down because they belonged
down? Perhaps he had judged them harshly? Yes,
he was sure he had judged them harshly. There was
such a thing as breaking a proud spirit--and he found
within himself apparent proof that precisely this calamity
had befallen him.

There came a time--and it came soon--when he had
about exhausted his desperate ingenuity at cornering
acquaintances and former friends and "sticking them
up" for loans of five hundred, a hundred, fifty, twenty-
five-- Because these vulgar and repulsive facts are not
found in the usual records of the men who have dropped
and come up again, do not imagine that only the hopeless
and never-reappearing failures pass through such
experiences. On the contrary, they are part of the
common human lot, and few indeed are the men who
have not had them--and worse--if they could but be
brought to tell the truth. Destiny rarely permits any
one of us to go from cradle to grave without doing
many a thing shameful and universally condemned.
How could it be otherwise under our social system?
When Norman was about at the end of all his resources
Tetlow called on him--Tetlow, now a partner in the
Lockyer firm.

He came with an air of stealth. "I don't want
anyone to know I'm doing this," said he frankly. "If
it got out, I'd be damaged and you'd not profit."

Rarely does anyone, however unworthy--and Fred
Norman was far from unworthy, as we humans go--
rarely does anyone find himself absolutely without a
friend. There is a saying that no man ever sunk so
low, ever became so vile and squalid in soul and body,
but that if he were dying, and the fact were noised
throughout the world, some woman somewhere would
come--perhaps from a sense of duty, perhaps from
love, perhaps for the sake of a moment of happiness
long past but never equaled, and so never forgotten--
but from whatever motive, she would come. In the
same manner, anyone in dire straits can be sure of some
friend. There were several others whom Norman had
been expecting--men he had saved by his legal
ingenuity at turning points in their careers. None of
these was so imprudent as uselessly to involve himself.
It was Tetlow who came--Tetlow, with whom his
accounts were more than balanced, with the balance
against him. Tetlow, whom he did not expect.

Norman did not welcome him effusively. He said
at once: "How is--she?"

Tetlow shifted uneasily. "I don't know. She's not
with us. I gave her a place there--to get her away
from Culver. But she didn't stay long. No doubt she's
doing well."

"I thought you cared about her," said Norman,
who in estimating Tetlow's passion had measured it by
his own, had neglected to consider that the desires of
most men soon grow short of breath and weary of leg.

"Yes--so I did care for her," said Tetlow, in the
voice of a man who has been ill but is now well. "But
that's all over. Women aren't worth bothering about
much. They're largely vanity. The way they soon
take a man for granted if he's at all kind to them
discourages any but the poorest sort of fool. At least
that's my opinion."

"Then you don't come from her?" said Norman
with complete loss of interest in his caller.

"No. I've come-- Fred, I hear you're in difficulties."

Norman's now deep-set eyes gleamed humorously in
his haggard and failed-looking face. "IN difficulties?
Not at all. I'm UNDER them--drowned forty fathoms

"Then you'll not resent my coming straight to the
point and asking if I can help you?"

"That's a rash offer, Tetlow. I never suspected
rashness was one of your qualities."

"I don't mean to offer you a loan or anything of
that sort," pursued Tetlow. "There's only one thing
that can help a man in your position. He must either
be saved outright or left to drown. I've come with
something that may save you."

There was so much of the incongruous in a situation
where HE was listening to an offer of salvation from
such a man as Billy Tetlow that Norman smiled.

"Well, what is it?" he said.

"There's a chance that within six months or so--
perhaps sooner--Burroughs and Galloway may end
their truce and declare war on each other. If so,
Galloway will win. Anyhow, the Galloway connection would
be better than the Burroughs connection."

Norman looked at Tetlow shrewdly. "How do you
know this?" he asked.

Tetlow's eyes shifted. "Can't tell you. But I

"Galloway hates me."

Tetlow nodded. "You were the one who forced
him into a position where he had to make peace with
Burroughs. But Galloway's a big man, big enough to
admire ability wherever he sees it. He has admired
you ever since."

"And has given his business to another firm."

"But if the break comes he'll need you. And he's
the sort of man who doesn't hesitate to take what he

"Too remote," said Norman, and his despondent
gesture showed how quickly hope had lighted up.
"Besides, Billy, I've lost my nerve. I'm no good."

"But you've gotten over that--that attack of insanity."

Norman shook his head.

"I can't understand it," ejaculated Tetlow.

"Of course you can't," said Norman. "But--
there it is."

"You haven't seen her lately?"

"Not since that day . . . Billy, she hasn't--"
Norman stopped, and Tetlow saw that his hands were
trembling with agitation, and marveled.

"Oh, no," replied Tetlow. "So far as I know,
she's still respectable. But--why don't you go to see
her? I think you'd be cured."

"Why do you say that?" demanded Norman, the
veins in his forehead bulging with the fury he was ready
to release.

"For no especial reason--on my honor, Fred,"
replied Tetlow. "Simply because time works wonders
in all sorts of ways, including infatuations. Also--
well, the fact is, it didn't seem to me that young lady
improved on acquaintance. Maybe I got tired, or
piqued--I don't know. If she hadn't been a silly little
fool, would she have refused you? I know it sounds
well--in a novel or a play--for a poor girl to refuse a
good offer, just from sentiment. But, all the same,
only a fool girl does it--in life--eh? But go to see
her. You'll understand what I mean, I think. I want
you to brace up. That may help."

"What's she doing?"

"I don't know. I'll send you her address. I can
get it. About Galloway-- If that break comes, I
propose that we get his business--you and I. I want you
for a partner. I always did. I think I know how to
get work out of you. I understand you better, than
anyone else. That's why I'm here."

"It's useless," said Norman.

"I'm willing to take the risk. Now, here's what I
propose. I'll stake you to the extent of a thousand
dollars a month for the next six months, you to keep
on as you are and not to tie yourself up to any other
lawyer, or to any client likely to hamper us if we get
the Galloway business."

"I've been borrowing right and left----"

"I know about that," interrupted Tetlow. "I'm
not interested. If you'll agree to my proposal, I'll
take my chances."

"You are throwing away six thousand dollars."

"I owe you a position where I make five times that

Norman shrugged his shoulders. "Very well. Can
I have five hundred at once?"

"I'll send you a check to-day. I'll send two checks
a month--the first and the fifteenth."

"I am drinking a great deal."

"You always did."

"Not until recently. I never knew what drinking
meant until these last few months."

"Well, do as you like with the money. Drink it
all, if you please. I'm making no conditions beyond
the two I stated."

"You will send me that address?"

"In the letter with the check."

"Will she see me, do you think?"

"I haven't an idea," replied Tetlow.

"What's the mystery?" asked Norman. "Why do
you speak of her so indifferently?"

"It's the way I feel." Then, in answer to the
unspoken suspicion once more appearing in Norman's
eyes, he added: "She's a very nice, sweet girl, Norman
--so far as I know or believe. Beyond that-- Go to
see her."

It had been many a week since Norman had heard a
friendly voice. The very sound of the human voice
had become hateful to him, because he was constantly
detecting the note of nervousness, the scarcely concealed
fear of being entangled in his misfortunes. As Tetlow
rose to go, Norman tried to detain him. The sound of
an unconstrained voice, the sight of a believing face
that did not express one or more of the shadings of
contempt between pity and aversion--the sight and
sound of this friend Tetlow was acting upon him like
one of those secret, unexpected, powerful tonics which
nature at times suddenly injects into a dying man to
confound the doctors and cheat death.

"Tetlow," said he, "I'm down--probably down for
good. But if I ever get up again, I'll not make one
mistake--the one that cost me this fall. Do you know
what that mistake was?"

"I suppose you mean Miss Hallowell?"

"No," said Norman, to his surprise. "I mean my
lack of money, of capital, of a large and secure income.
I used to imagine that brains were the best, the only
sure asset. I was guilty of the stupidity of overvaluing
my own possessions."

"Brains are a mighty good asset, Fred."

"Yes--and necessary. But a man of action must
have under his brains another asset--MUST have it,
Billy. The one secure asset is a big capital. Money
rules this world. Some men have been lucky enough to
rise and stay risen, without money. But not a man
of all the men who have been knocked out could have
been dislodged if he had been armed and armored with
money. My prodigality was my fatal mistake. I
shan't make it again--if I get the chance. You don't
know, Tetlow, how hard it is to get money when you are
tumbling and must have it. I never dreamed what a
factor it is in calamities of EVERY sort. It's THE factor."

"I don't like to hear you talk that way, Norman,"
said Tetlow earnestly. "I've always most admired in
you the fact that you weren't mercenary."

"And I never shall be," said Norman, with the
patient smile of a swift, keen mind at one that is slow
and hard to make understand. "It isn't my nature.
But, if I'm resurrected, I'll seem to be mercenary until
I get a full suit of the only armor that's invulnerable in
this world. Why, I built my fort like a fool. It was
impregnable except for one thing--one obvious thing.
It hadn't a supply of water. If I build again it'll be
round a spring--an income big enough for my needs
and beyond anybody's power to cut off."

Tetlow showed that he was much cheered by Norman's
revived interest in life. But he went away
uneasy; for the last thing Norman said to him was:

"Don't forget that address!"


BUT it chanced that Norman met her in the street
about an hour after Tetlow's call.

He was on the way to lunch at the Lawyer's Club
--one of those apparent luxuries that are the dire and
pitiful necessities of men in New York fighting to maintain
the semblance and the reputation of prosperity.
It must not be imagined by those who are here let into
Norman's inmost secrets that his appearance betrayed
the depth to which he had fallen. At least to the casual
eye he seemed the same rich and powerful personage.
An expert might have got at a good part of the truth
from his somber eyes and haggard face, from the subtle
transformation of the former look of serene pride into
the bravado of pretense. And as, in a general way,
the facts of his fall were known far and wide, all his
acquaintances understood that his seeming of undiminished
success was simply the familiar "bluff." Its
advantage to him with them lay in its raising a doubt as
to just what degree of disaster it hid--no small advantage.
Nor was this "bluff" altogether for the benefit
of the outside world. It made his fall less hideously
intolerable to himself. In the bottom of his heart he
knew that when drink and no money should finally force
him to release his relaxing hold upon his fashionable
clubs, upon luxurious attire and habits, he would
suddenly and with accelerated speed drop into the abyss--
We have all caught glimpses of that abyss--frayed fine
linen cheaply laundered, a tie of one time smartness
showing signs of too long wear, a suit from the best
kind of tailor with shiny spot glistening here, patch
peeping there, a queer unkemptness about the hair and
skin--these the beginnings of a road that leads straight
and short to the barrel-house, the park bench, and the
police station. Because, when a man strikes into that
stretch of the road to perdition, he ceases to be one of
our friends, passes from view entirely, we have the habit
of SAYING that such things rarely if ever happen. But
we KNOW better. Many's the man now high who has
had the sort of drop Norman was taking. We remember
when he was making a bluff such as Norman was
making in those days; but we think now that we were
mistaken in having suspected it of being bluff.

Norman, dressed with more than ordinary care--
how sensitive a man becomes about those things when
there is neither rustle nor jingle in his pockets, and
his smallest check would be returned with the big black
stamp "No Funds"-- Norman, groomed to the last
button, was in Broadway near Rector Street. Ahead
of him he saw the figure of a girl--a trim, attractive
figure, slim and charmingly long of line. A second
glance, and he recognized her. What was the change
that had prevented his recognizing her at once? He
had not seen that particular lightish-blue dress before
--nor the coquettish harmonizing hat. But that was
not the reason. No, it was the coquetry in her toilet--
the effort of the girl to draw attention to her charms
by such small devices as are within the reach of
extremely modest means. He did not like this change.
It offended his taste; it alarmed his jealousy.

He quickened his step, and when almost at her side
spoke her name--"Miss Hallowell."

She stopped, turned. As soon as she recognized
him there came into her quiet, lovely face a delightful
smile. He could not conceal his amazement. She was
glad to see him! Instantly, following the invariable
habit of an experienced analytical mind, he wondered
for what unflattering reason this young woman who
did not like him was no longer showing it, was seeming
more than a little pleased to see him. "Why, how d'ye
do, Mr. Norman?" said she. And her friendliness and
assurance of manner jarred upon him. There was not
a suggestion of forwardness; but he, used to her old-
time extreme reserve, felt precisely as if she were bold
and gaudy, after the fashion of so many of the working
girls who were popular with the men.

This unfavorable impression disappeared--or,
rather, retired to the background--even as it became
definite. And once more he was seeing the charms of
physical loveliness, of physical--and moral, and mental--
mystery that had a weird power over him. As
they shook hands, a quiver shot through him as at the
shock of a terrific stimulant; and he stood there longing
to take her in his arms, to feel the delicate yet perfect
and vividly vital life of that fascinating form--
longing to kiss that sensitive, slightly pouted rosy
mouth, to try to make those clear eyes grow soft and

She was saying: "I've been wondering what had
become of you."

"I saw Tetlow," he said. "He promised to send
me your address."

At Tetlow's name she frowned slightly; then a
gleam of ridicule flitted into her eyes. "Oh, that silly,
squeamish old maid! How sick I got of him!"

Norman winced, and his jealousy stirred. "Why?"
he asked.

"Always warning me against everybody. Always
giving me advice. It was too tiresome. And at last he
began to criticize me--the way I dressed--the way I
talked--said I was getting too free in my manner.
The impudence of him!"

Norman tried to smile.

"He'd have liked me to stay a silly little mouse

"So you've been--blossoming out?" said Norman.

"In a quiet way," replied she, with a smile of self-
content, so lovely as a smile that no one would have
minded its frank egotism. "There isn't much chance
for fun--unless a girl goes too far. But at the same
time I don't intend life to be Sunday when it isn't work.
I got very cross with him--Mr. Tetlow, I mean. And
I took another position. It didn't pay quite so well--
only fifteen a week. But I couldn't stand being
watched--and guyed by all the other girls and boys
for it."

"Where are you working?"

"With an old lawyer named Branscombe. It's awful
slow, as I'm the only one, and he's old and does
everything in an old-fashioned way. But the hours are
easy, and I don't have to get down till nine--which
is nice when you've been out at a dance the night before."

Norman kept his eyes down to hide from her the
legion of devils of jealousy. "You HAVE changed," he

"I'm growing up," replied she with a charming toss
of her small head--what beautiful effects the sunlight
made in among those wavy strands and strays!

"And you're as lovely as ever--lovelier," he said--
and his eyes were the eyes of the slave she had spurned.

She did not spurn him now--and it inflamed his
jealousy that she did not. She said: "Oh, what's the
good of looks? The town's full of pretty girls. And
so many of them have money--which I haven't. To
make a hit in New York a girl's got to have both looks
and dress. But I must be going. I've an engagement
to lunch--" She gave a proud little smile--"at the
Astor House. It's nice upstairs there."

"With Bob Culver?"

She laughed. "I haven't seen him since I left his
office. You know, Mr. Tetlow took me with him--back
to your old firm. I didn't like Mr. Culver. I don't
care for those black men. They are bad-tempered and
two-faced. Anyhow, I'd not have anything to do with
a man who wanted to slip round with me as if he were
ashamed of me."

She was looking at Norman pleasantly enough. He
wasn't sure that the hit was for him as well as for
Culver, but he flushed deeply. "Will you lunch with me
at the Astor House at one to-morrow?"

"I've got an engagement," said she. "And I must
be going. I'm awfully late." He had an instinct that
her engagement on both days was with the same man.
"I'm glad to have seen you----"

"Won't you let me call on you?" he said imploringly,
but with the suggestion that he had no hope of
being permitted to come.

"Certainly," responded she with friendly promptness.
She opened the shopping bag swinging on her
arm. "Here is one of my cards."

"When? This evening?"

Her laugh showed the beautiful deep pink and daz-

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