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The Sturdy Oak by Samuel Merwin

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His rounded periods were silenced by a tight clutch on his wrist. "Penfield
Evans. Don't you dare exaggerate to me! Have they come there to stay! _To
take him at his word!_"

He nodded solemnly.

"Their trunks are upstairs in the only two spare-rooms in the house, and
Frieda is installed in the only extra room in the attic. Marie gave notice
that she was going to quit, just before dinner. George has been telephoning
to my Aunt Harriet to see if she knows of another maid...."

"Whatever ... whatever could have made them _think_ of such a thing!"
gasped Betty, almost beyond words.

"I did!" said Penfield Evans, tapping himself on the chest. "It was _my_
giant intelligence that propelled them here."

He was conscious of a lacy rush upon him, and of a couple of soft arms
which gave him an impassioned embrace none the less vigorous because the
arms were more used to tennis-racquets and canoe-paddles than impassioned
embraces. Then he was thrust back ... and there was Betty, collapsed
against a lilac bush, shaking and convulsed, one hand pressed hard on her
mouth to keep back the shrieks of merriment which continually escaped in
suppressed squeals, the other hand outstretched to ward him off....

"No, don't you touch me, I didn't mean a thing by it! I just couldn't help
it! It's too, _too_ rich! Oh Penny, you duck! Oh, I shall die! I shall die!
I never saw anything so funny in my life! Oh, Penny, take me away or I
shall perish here and now!"

On the whole, in spite of the repulsing hand, he took it that he had
advanced his cause. He broke into a laugh, more light-hearted than he had
uttered for a long time. They stood for a moment more in the soft darkness,
gazing in with rapt eyes at the family scene. Then they reeled away up the
street, gasping and choking with mirth, festooning themselves about trees
for support when their legs gave way under them.

"_Did_ you see George's face when Emelene let the cat eat out of her
plate!" cried Betty.

"And did you see Genevieve's when Mrs. Brewster-Smith had the dessert set
down in front of her to serve!"

"How about little Eleanor upsetting the glass of milk on George's

"Oh _poor_ old George! Did you ever see such gloom!"

Thus bubbling, they came again to Betty's home with the door still open
from which she had lately emerged. There Betty fell suddenly silent, all
the laughter gone from her face. The man peered in the dusk, apprehensive.
What had gone wrong, now, after all?

"Do you know, Penny, we're pigs!" she said suddenly, with energy. "We're
hateful, abominable pigs!"

He glared at her and clutched his hair.

"Didn't you see Emelene Brand's face? I can't get it out of my mind! It
makes me sick, it was so happy and peaceful and befooled! Poor old dear!
She _believes_ all that! And she's the only one who does! And its beastly
in us to make a joke of it! She has wanted a home all her life, and she'd
have made a lovely one, too, for children! And she's been kept from it by
all this fool's talk about womanliness."

"Help! What under the sun are you ..." began Penfield.

"Why, look here, she's not and never was, the kind any man wants to marry.
She wouldn't have liked a real husband, either ... poor, dear, thin-blooded
old child! But she wanted a _home_ just the same. Everybody does! And if
she had been taught how to earn a decent living, if she hadn't been fooled
out of her five senses by that idiotic cant about a man's doing everything
for you, or else going without ... why she'd be working now, a happy,
useful woman, bringing up two or three adopted children in a decent home
she'd made for them with her own efforts ... instead of making her loving
heart ridiculous over a cat...."

She dashed her hand over her eyes angrily, and stood silent for a moment,
trying to control her quivering chin before she went into the house.

The young man touched her shoulder with reverent fingers. "Betty," he said
in a rather unsteady voice, "its _true_, all that bally-rot about women
being better than men. You _are_!"

With which very modern compliment, he turned and left her.



Her first evening with her augmented family Genevieve Remington never
forgot. It is not at all likely that George ever forgot it, either; but to
George it was only one in the series of disturbing events that followed his
unqualified repudiation of the suffrage cause.

To Genevieve's tender heart it meant the wreckage, not the preservation of
the home; that lovely home to whose occupancy she had so hopefully looked.
She was too young a wife to recognize in herself the evanescent emotions of
the bride. The blight had fallen upon her for all time. What had been fire
was ashes; it was all over. The roseate dream had been followed by a cruel,
and a lasting, awakening.

Some day Genevieve would laugh at the memory of this tragic evening, as she
laughed at George's stern ultimatums, and at Junior's decision to be an
engineer, and at Jinny's tiny cut thumb. But she had no sense of humor now.
As she ran to the corner, and poured the whole distressful story into her
husband's ears, she felt the walls of her castle in Spain crashing about
her ears.

George, of course, was wonderful; he had been that all his life. He only
smiled, at first, at her news.

"You poor little sweetheart!" he said to his wife, as she clung to his arm,
and they entered the house together. "It's a shame to distress you so, just
as we are getting settled, and Marie and Lottie are working in! But it's
too absurd, and to have you worry your little head is ridiculous, of
course! Let them stay here to dinner, and then I'll just quietly take it
for granted that they are going home--"

"But--but their trunks are here, dearest!"

Husband and wife were in their own room now, and Genevieve was rapidly
recovering her calm. George turned from his mirror to frown at her in
surprise. "Their trunks! They didn't lose any time, did they? But do you
mean to say there was no telephoning--no notice at all?"

"They may have telephoned, George, love. But I was over at Grace Hatfield's
for a while, and I got back just before they came in!"

George went on with his dressing, a thoughtful expression on his face.
Genevieve thought he looked stunning in the loose Oriental robe he wore
while he shaved.

"Well, whatever they think, we can't have this, you know," he said
presently. "I'll have to be quite frank with Alys,--of course Emelene has
no sense!"

"Yes, be quite frank!" Genevieve urged eagerly. "Tell them that of course
you were only speaking figuratively. Nobody ever means that a woman really
can't get along without a man's protection, because look at the women who

She stopped, a little troubled by the expression on his face.

"I said what I truly believe, dear," he said kindly. "You know that!"
Genevieve was silent. Her heart beat furiously, and she felt that she was
going to cry. He was angry with her--he was angry with her! Oh, what had
she said, what _had_ she said!

"But for all that," George continued, after a moment, "nobody but two women
could have put such an idiotic construction upon my words. I am certainly
going to make that point with Alys. A sex that can jump headlong to such
a perfectly untenable conclusion is very far from ready to assume the
responsibilities of citizenship--"

"George, dearest!" faltered Genevieve. She did not want to make him
cross again, but she could not in all loyalty leave him under this
misunderstanding, to approach the always articulate Alys.

"George, it was Penny, I'm sure!" she said. "From what they said,--they
talked all the time!--I think Penny went to see them, and sort of--sort
of--suggested this! I'm so sorry, George--"

George was sulphurously silent.

"And Penny will make the most of it, you know!"

Genevieve went on quickly and nervously. "If you should send them back,
tonight, I know he'd tell Betty! And Betty says she is coming to see you
because she has been asked to read an answer to your paper, at the Club,
and she might--she has such a queer sense of humor--"

Silence. Genevieve wished that she was dead, and that every one was dead.

"I don't want to criticize you, dear," George said presently, in his
kindest tone. "But the time to _act_, of course, was when they first
arrived. I can't do anything now. We'll just have to face it through, for a
few days."

It was not much of a cloud, but it was their first. Genevieve went
downstairs with tears in her eyes.

She had wanted their home to be so cozy, so dainty, so intimate! And now to
have two grown women and a child thrust into her Paradise! Marie was sulky,
rattling the silver-drawer viciously while her mistress talked to her, and
Lottie had an ugly smile as she submitted respectfully that there wasn't
enough asparagus.

Then George's remoteness was terrifying. He carved with appalling courtesy.
"Is there another chicken, Genevieve?" he asked, as if he had only an
impersonal interest in her kitchen. No, there was only the one. And plenty,
too, said the guests pleasantly. Genevieve hoped there were eggs and bacon
for Marie and Lottie and Frieda.

"I'm going to ask you for just a mouthful more, it tastes so delicious and
homy!" said Alys. "And then I want to talk a little business, George. It's
about those houses of mine, out in Kentwood...."

George looked at her blankly, over his drumstick.

"Darling Tom left them," said Tom's widow, "and they really have rented
well. They're right near the factory, you know. But now, just lately, some
man from the agents has been writing and writing me; he says that one of
them has been condemned, and that unless I do something or other they'll
all be condemned. It's a horrid neighborhood, and I don't like the idea,
anyway, of a woman poking about among drains and cellars. Yet, if I send
the agent, he'll run me into fearful expense; they always do. So I'm going
to take them out of his hands tomorrow, and turn it all over to you, and
whatever you decide will be best!"

"My dear girl, I'm the busiest man in the world!" George said. "Leave all
that to Allen. He's the best agent in town!"

"Oh, I took them away from Allen months ago, George. Sampson has them now."

"Sampson? What the deuce did you change for? I don't know that Sampson is
solvent. I certainly would go back to Allen--"

"George, I can't!"

The widow looked at her plate, swept him a coquettish glance, and dropped
her eyes again.

"Mr. Allen is a dear fellow," she elucidated, "but his wife is dreadful!
There's nothing she won't suspect, and nothing she won't say!"

"My dear cousin, this isn't a question of social values! It's business!"
George said impatiently. "But I'll tell you what to do," he added, after
scowling thought. "You put it in Miss Eliot's hands; she was with Allen
for some years. Now she's gone in for herself, and she's doing well. We've
given her several things--" "Take it out of a man's hands to put it into a
woman's!" Alys exclaimed. And Emelene added softly:

"What can a woman be thinking of, to go into a dreadful business like
selling real estate and collecting rents!"

"Of course, she was trained by men!" Genevieve threw in, a little
anxiously. Alys was so tactless, when George was tired and hungry. She cast
about desperately for some neutral topic, but before she could find one the
widow spoke again.

"I'll tell you what I'll do, George. I'll bring the books and papers to
your office tomorrow morning, and then you can do whatever you think best!
Just send me a check every month, and it will be all right!"

"Just gather me up what's there, on the plate," Emelene said, with her
nervous little laugh in the silence. "I declare I don't know when I've
eaten such a dinner! But that reminds me that you could help me
out wonderfully, too, Cousin George--I can't quite call you Mr.
Remington!--with those wretched stocks of mine. I'm sure I don't know what
they've been doing, but I know I get less money all the time! It's the New
Haven, George, that P'pa left me two years ago. I can't understand anything
about it, but yesterday I was talking to a young man who advised me to
put all my money into some tonic stock. It's a tonic made just of plain
earth--he says it makes everything grow. Doesn't it sound reasonable? But
if I should lose all I have, I'm afraid I'd _really_ wear my welcome out,
Genevieve, dear. So perhaps you'll advise me?"

"I'll do what I can!" George smiled, and Genevieve's heart rose. "But upon
my word, what you both tell me isn't a strong argument for Betty's cause!"
he added good-naturedly.

"P'pa always said," Emelene quoted, "that if a woman looked about for a man
to advise her, she'd find him! And as I sit here now, in this lovely
home, I think--isn't it sweeter and wiser and better this way? For a
while,--because I was a hot-headed, rebellious girl!--I couldn't see that
he was right. I had had a disappointment, you know," she went on, her kind,
mild eyes watering. Genevieve, who had been gazing in some astonishment
at the once hot-headed, rebellious girl, sighed sympathetically. Every one
knew about the Reverend Mr. Totter's death.

"And after that I just wanted to be busy," continued Emelene. "I wanted to
be a trained nurse, or a matron, or something! I look back at it now, and
wonder what I was thinking about! And then dear Mama went, and I stepped
into her place with P'pa. He wasn't exactly an invalid, but he did like to
be fussed over, to have his meals cooked by my own hands, even if we were
in a hotel. And whist--dear me, how I used to dread those three rubbers
every evening! I was only a young woman then, and I suppose I was
attractive to other men, but I never forgot Mr. Totter. And Cousin George,"
she turned to him submissively, "when you were talking about a woman's real
sphere, I felt--well, almost guilty. Because only that one man ever asked
me. Do you think, feeling as I did, that I should have deliberately made
myself attractive to men?"

George cleared his throat. "All women can't marry, I suppose. It's in
England, I believe, that there are a million unmarried women. But you have
made a contented and a womanly life for yourself, and, as a matter of fact,
there always _has_ been a man to stand between you and the struggle!" he

"I know. First P'pa, and now you!" Emelene mused happily.

"I wasn't thinking of myself. I was thinking that your father left you a
comfortable income!" he said quickly.

"And now you have asked me here; one of the dearest old places in town!"
Emelene added innocently.

Genevieve listened in a stupefaction. This was married life, then? Not
since her childhood had Genevieve so longed to stamp, to scream, to
protest, to tear this twisted scheme apart and start anew!

She was not a crying woman, but she wanted to cry now. She was not--she
told herself indignantly--quite a fool. But she felt that if George went
on being martyred, and mechanically polite, and grim, she would go into
hysterics. She had been married less than six weeks; that night she cried
herself to sleep.

Her guests were as agreeable as their natures permitted; but Genevieve was
reduced, before the third day of their visit, to a condition of continual

This was her home, this was the place sacred to George and herself, and
their love. Nobody in the world,--not his mother, not hers, had their
mothers been living!--was welcome here. She had planned to be such a good
wife to him, so thoughtful, so helpful, so brave when he must be away.
But she could not rise to the height of sharing him with other women, and
saying whatever she said to him in the hearing of witnesses. And then she
dared not complain too openly! That was an additional hardship, for if
George insulted his guests, then that horrid Penny--

Genevieve had always liked Penny, and had danced and flirted with him aeons
ago. She had actually told Betty that she hoped Betty would marry Penny.
But now she felt that she loathed him. He was secretly laughing at George,
at George who had dared to take a stand for old-fashioned virtue and the
purity of the home!

It was all so unexpected, so hard. Women everywhere were talking about
George's article, and expected her to defend it! George, she could have
defended. But how could she talk about a subject upon which she was not
informed, in which, indeed, as she was rather fond of saying, she was
absolutely uninterested?

George was changed, too. Something was worrying him; and it was hard on the
darling old boy to come home to Miss Emelene and the cat and Eleanor and
Alys, every night! Emelene adored him, of course, and Alys was always
interesting and vivacious, but--but it wasn't like coming home to his own
little Genevieve!

The bride wept in secret, and grew nervous and timid in manner. Mrs.
Brewster-Smith, however, found this comprehensible enough, and one hot
summer afternoon Genevieve went into George's office with her lovely
head held high, her color quite gone, and her breath coming quickly with
indignation. [Illustration: It was hard on the darling old boy to come home
to Miss Emelene and the cat and Eleanor and Alys every night!] "George--I
don't care what we do, or where we go! But I can't stand it! She said--she
said--she told me--"

Her husband was alone in his office, and Genevieve was now crying in his
arms. He patted her shoulder tenderly.

"I'm so worried all the time about dinners, and Lottie's going, and that
child getting downstairs and letting in flies and licking the frosting off
the maple cake," sobbed Genevieve, "that of _course_ I show it! And if I
_have_ given up my gym work, it's just because I was so busy trying to get
some one in Lottie's place! And now they say--they say--that _they_ know
what the matter is, and that I mustn't dance or play golf--the horrible,
spying cats! I won't go back, George, I will not! I--"

Again George was wonderful. He put his arm about her, and she sat down on
the edge of his desk, and leaned against that dear protective shoulder and
dried her eyes on one of his monogrammed handkerchiefs. He reminded her of
a long-standing engagement for this evening with Betty and Penny, to go out
to Sea Light and have dinner and a swim, and drive home in the moonlight.
And when she was quiet again, he said tenderly:

"You mustn't let the 'cats' worry you, Pussy. What they think isn't true,
and I don't blame you for getting cross! But in one way, dear, aren't they
right? Hasn't my little girl been riding and driving and dancing a little
too hard? Is it the wisest thing, just now? You have been nervous lately,
dear, and excitable. Mightn't there be a reason? Because I don't have to
tell you, sweetheart, nothing would make me prouder, and Uncle Martin, of
course, has made no secret of how _he_ feels! You wouldn't be sorry, dear?"

Genevieve had always loved children deeply. Long before this her happy
dreams had peopled the old house in Sheridan Road with handsome, dark-eyed
girls, and bright-eyed boys like their father.

But, to her own intense astonishment, she found this speech from her
husband distasteful. George would be "proud," and Uncle Martin pleased.
But it suddenly occurred to Genevieve that neither George nor Uncle Martin
would be tearful and nervous. Neither George nor Uncle Martin need eschew
golf and riding and dancing. To be sick, when she had always been so well!
To face death, for which she had always had so healthy a horror! Cousin
Alex had died when her baby came, and Lois Farwell had never been well
after the fourth Farwell baby made his appearance.

Genevieve's tears died as if from flame. She gently put aside the
sustaining arm, and went to the little mirror on the wall, to straighten
her hat. She remembered buying this hat, a few weeks ago, in the ecstatic
last days of the old life.

"We needn't talk of that yet, George," she said quietly.

She could see George's grieved look, in the mirror. There was a short
silence in the office.

Then Betty Sheridan, cool in pongee, came briskly in.

"Hello, Jinny!" said she. "Had you forgotten our plan tonight? You're
chaperoning me, I hope you realize! I'm rather difficile, too. Genevieve,
Pudge is outside; he'll take you out and buy you something cold. I took him
to lunch today. It was disgraceful! Except for a frightful-looking mess
called German Pot Roast With Carrots and Noodles Sixty, he ate nothing but
melon, lemon-meringue pie, and pineapple special. I was absolutely ashamed!
George, I would have speech with you."

"Private business, Betty?" he asked pleasantly. "My wife may not have the
vote, but I trust her with all my affairs!"

"Indeed, I'm not in the least interested!" Genevieve said saucily.

She knew George was pleased with her as she went happily away.

"It's just as well Jinny went," said Betty, when she and the
district-attorney-elect were alone. "Because it's that old bore Colonel
Jaynes! He's come again, and he says he _will_ see you!"

Deep red rose in George's handsome face.

"He came here last week, and he came yesterday," Betty said, sitting down,
"and really I think you should see him! You see, George, in that far-famed
article of yours, you remarked that 'a veteran of the civil as well as the
Spanish war' had told you that it was the restless outbreaking of a few
northern women that helped to precipitate the national catastrophe, and he
wants to know if you meant him!"

"I named no names!" George said, with dignity, yet uneasily, too.

"I know you didn't. But you see we haven't many veterans of _both_ wars,"
Betty went on, pleasantly. "And of course old Mrs. Jaynes is a rabid
suffragist, and she is simply hopping. He's a mild old man, you know, and
evidently he wants to square things with 'Mother.' Now, George, who _did_
you mean?"

"A statement like that may be made in a general sense," George remarked,
after scowling thought.

"You might have made the statement on your own hook," Betty conceded, "but
when you mention an anonymous Colonel, of course they all sit up! He says
that he's going to get a signed statement from you that _he_ never said
that, and publish it!"

"Ridiculous!" said George.

"Then here are two letters," Betty pursued. "One is from the corresponding
secretary of the Women's Non-partisan Pacific Coast Association. She says
that they would be glad to hear from you regarding your statement that
equal suffrage, in the western states, is an acknowledged failure."

"She'll wait!" George predicted grimly.

"Yes, I suppose so. But she's written to our Mrs. Herrington here, asking
her to follow up the matter. George, dear," asked Betty maternally, "_why_
did you do it? Why couldn't you let well enough alone!"

"What's your other letter?" asked George.

"It's just from Mr. Riker, of the _Sentinel_, George. He wants you to drop
in. It seems that they want a correction on one of your statistics about
the number of workingwomen in the United States who don't want the vote. He
says it only wants a signed line from you that you were mistaken--"

Refusing to see Colonel Jaynes, or to answer the Colonel's letter, George
curtly telephoned the editor of the _Sentinel_, and walked home at four
o'clock, his cheeks still burning, his mind in a whirl. Big issues should
have been absorbing him: and his mind was pestered instead with these
midges of the despised cause. Well, it was all in the day's work--

And here was his sweet, devoted wife, fluttering across the hall, as cool
as a rose, in her pink and white. And she had packed his things, in case
they wanted to spend the night at Sea Light, and the "cats" had gone off
for library books, and he must have some ginger-ale, before it was time to
go for Betty and Penny.

The day was perfection. The motor-car purred like a racing tiger under
George's gloved hand. Betty and Penny were waiting, and the three young
persons forgot all differences, and laughed and chatted in the old happy
way, as they prepared for the start. But Betty was carrying a book:
_Catherine of Russia_.

"Do you know why suffragists should make an especial study of queens,
George?" she asked, as she and Penny settled themselves on the back seat.

"Well, I'll be interlocutor," George smiled, glancing up at the house, from
which his wife might issue at any moment. "Why should suffragists read the
lives of queens, Miss Bones?"

"Because queens are absolutely the only women in all history who had equal
rights!" Betty answered impassively. "Do you realize that? The only women
whose moral and social and political instincts had full sway!"

"And a sweet use they made of them, sometimes!" said George.

"And who were the great rulers," pursued Betty. "Whose name in English
history is like the names of Elizabeth and Victoria, or Matilda or Mary,
for the matter of that? Who mended and conserved and built up what the
kings tore down and wasted? Who made Russia an intellectual power--"

Again Penny had an odd sense of fear. Were women perhaps superior to men,
after all!

"I don't think Catherine of Russia is a woman to whom a lady can point with
pride," George said conclusively. Genevieve, who had appeared, shot Betty a
triumphant glance as they started. Pudge waved to them from the candy store
at the corner.

"There's a new candy store every week!" said Penny, shuddering. "Heaven
help that poor boy; it must be in the blood!"

"Women must always have something sweet to nibble," George said, leaning
back. "The United States took in two millions last year in gum alone!"

"Men chew gum!" suggested Betty.

"But come now, Betty, be fair!" George said. "Which sex eats more candy?"

"Well, I suppose women do," she admitted.

"You count the candy stores, down Main Street," George went on, "and ask
yourself how it is that these people can pay rents and salaries just on
candy,--nothing else. Did you ever think of that?"

"Well, I could vote with a chocolate in my mouth!" Betty muttered
mutinously, as the car turned into the afternoon peace of the main

"You count them on your side, Penny, and I will on mine!" Genevieve
suggested. "All down the street." "Well, wait--we've passed two!" Penny
said excitedly.

"Go on; there's three. That grocery store with candy in the window!"

"Groceries don't count!" objected Betty.

"Oh, they do, too! And drug stores.... Every place that sells candy!"

"Drug stores and groceries and fruit stores only count half a point," Betty
stipulated. "Because they sell other things!"

"That's fair enough," George conceded here, with a nod.

Genevieve and Penny almost fell out of the car in their anxiety not to miss
a point, and George quite deliberately lingered on the cross-streets, so
that the damning total might be increased.

Laughing and breathless, they came to the bridge that led from the town to
the open fields, and took the count.

"One hundred and two and a half!" shouted Penny and Genevieve triumphantly.
George smiled over his wheel.

"Oh, women, women!" he said. "One hundred and sixty-one!" said Betty. There
was a shout of protest.

"Oh, Betty Sheridan! You didn't! Why, we didn't miss _one_!"

"I wasn't counting candy stores," smiled Betty. "Just to be different, I
counted cigar stores and saloons. But it doesn't signify much either way,
does it, George?"



Of the quartette who, an hour later, emerged from the bath-houses and
scampered across the satiny beech into a discreetly playful surf, Genevieve
was the one real swimmer. She was better even than Penny, and she left
Betty and George nowhere.

She had an endless repertory of amphibious stunts which she performed with
gusto, and in the intervals she took an equal satisfaction in watching
Penny's heroic but generally disastrous attempts to imitate them.

The other two splashed around aimlessly and now and then remonstrated.

Now, it's all very well to talk about two hearts beating as one, and in the
accepted poetical sense of the words, of course Genevieve's and George's
did. But as a matter of physiological fact, they didn't. At the end of
twenty minutes or so George began turning a delicate blue and a clatter as
of distant castanets provided an obligato when he spoke, the same being
performed by George's teeth.

The person who made these observations was Betty.

"You'd better go out," she said. "You're freezing."

It ought to have been Genevieve who said it, of course, though the fact
that she was under water more than half the time might be advanced as her
excuse for failing to say it. But who could venture to excuse the downright
callous way in which she exclaimed, "Already? Why we've just got in! Come
along and dive through that wave. That'll warm you up!"

It was plain to George that she didn't care whether he was cold or not.
And, though the idea wouldn't quite go into words, it was also clear to him
that an ideal wife--a really womanly wife--would have turned blue just a
little before he began to.

"Thanks," he said, in a cold blue voice that matched the color of his
finger nails. "I think I've had enough."

Betty came splashing along beside him.

"I'm going out, too," she said. "We'll leave these porpoises to their
innocent play."

This was almost pure amiability, because she wasn't cold, and she'd been
having a pretty good time. Her other (practically negligible) motive was
that Penny might be reminded, by her withdrawal, of his forgotten promise
to teach her to float--and be sorry. Altogether, George would have been
showing only a natural and reasonable sense of his obligations if he'd
brightened up and flirted with her a little, instead of glooming out to sea
the way he did, paying simply no attention to her at all. So at last she
pricked him.

"Isn't it funny," she said, "the really blighting contempt that swimmers
feel for people who can't feel at home in the water--people who gasp and
shiver and keep their heads dry?"

She could see that, in one way, this remark had done George good. It helped
warm him up. Leaning back on her hands, as she did, she could see the red
come up the back of his neck and spread into his ears. But it didn't make
him conversationally any more exciting. He merely grunted. So she tried

"I suppose," she said dreamily, "that the myth about mermaids must be
founded in fact. Or is it sirens I'm thinking about? Perfectly fascinating,
irresistible women, who lure men farther and farther out, in the hope of a
kiss or something, until they get exhausted and drown. I'll really be glad
when Penny gets back alive."

"And I shall be very glad," said George, trying hard for a tone of
condescending indifference appropriate for use with one who has played
dolls with one's little sister, "I shall really be very glad when you make
up your mind what you are going to do with Penny. He's just about a total
loss down at the office as it is, and he's getting a worse idiot from day
to day. And the worst of it is, I imagine you know all the while what
you're going to do about it--whether you're going to take him or not."

The girl flushed at that. He was being almost too outrageously rude, even
for George. But before she said anything to that effect, she thought of
something better.

"I shall never marry any man," she said very intensely, "whose heart is not
with the Cause. You know what Cause I mean, George--the Suffrage Cause.
When I see thoughtless girls handing over their whole lives to men who ..."

It sounded like the beginning of an oration.

"Good Lord!" her victim cried. "Isn't there anything else than that to talk

"But just think how lucky you are, George," she said, "that at home they
all think exactly as you do!"

He jumped up. Evidently this reminder of the purring acquiescences of
Cousin Emelene and Mrs. Brewster-Smith laid no balm upon his harassed

"You may leave my home alone, if you please."

He was frightfully annoyed, of course, or he wouldn't have said anything
as crude as that. In a last attempt to recover his scattered dignity, he
caught at his office manner. "By the way," he said, "you forgot to remind
me today to write a letter to that Eliot woman about Mrs. Brewster-Smith's

With that he stalked away to dress. Genevieve and Penny, now shoreward
bound, hailed him. But it wasn't quite impossible to pretend he didn't
hear, and he did it.

The dinner afterward at the Sea Light Inn was a rather gloomy affair.
George's lonely grandeur was only made the worse, it seemed, by Genevieve's
belated concern lest he might have taken cold through not having gone and
dressed directly he came out of the water. Genevieve then turned very
frosty to Penny, having decided suddenly that it was all his fault.

As for Betty, though she was as amiable a little soul as breathed, she
didn't see why she should make any particular effort to console Penny, just
because his little flirtation with Genevieve had stopped with a bump.

Even the ride home in the moonlight didn't help much. Genevieve sat beside
George on the front seat, and between them there stretched a tense, tragic
silence. In the back seat with Penfield Evans, and in the intervals of
frustrating his attempts to hold her hand, Betty considered how frightfully
silly young married couples could be over microscopic differences.

But Betty was wrong here and the married pair on the front seat were right.

Just reflect for a minute what Genevieve's George was. He was her knight,
her Bayard, her thoroughly Tennysonian King Arthur. The basis of her
adoration was that he should remain like that. You can see then what a
staggering experience it was to have caught herself, even for a minute, in
the act of smiling over him as sulky and absurd.

And think of George's Genevieve! A saint enshrined, that his soul could
profitably bow down before whenever it had leisure to escape from the
activities of a wicked world. Fancy his horror over the mere suspicion
that she could be indifferent to his wishes--his comfort--even his health,
because of a mere tomboy flirtation with a man who could swim better than
he could! Most women were like that, he knew--vain, shallow, inconstant
creatures! But was not his pearl an exception? It was horrible to have to
doubt it.

By three o'clock the next morning, after many tears and much grave
discourse, they succeeded in getting these doubts to sleep--killing them,
they'd have said, beyond the possibility of resurrection. It was the
others who had made all the trouble. If only they could have the world to
themselves--no Cousin Emelene, no Alys Brewster-Smith, no Penfield Evans
and Betty Sheridan, with their frivolity and low ideals, to complicate
things! An Arcadian Island in some Aeonian Sea.

"Well," he said hopefully, "our home can be like that. It shall be like
that, when we get rid of Alys and her horrible little girl, and Cousin
Emelene and her unspeakable cat. It shall be our world; and no troubles or
cares or worries shall ever get in there!"

She acquiesced in this prophecy, but even as she did so, cuddling her face
against his own, a low-down, unworthy spook, whose existence in her he must
never suspect, said audibly in her inner ear, "Much he knows about it!"
Betty did not forget to remind George of the letter he was to write to Miss
Eliot about taking over the agency of Mrs. Brewster-Smith's cottages. In
the composition of this letter George washed his hands of responsibility
with, you might say, antiseptic care.

He had taken pleasure in recommending Miss Eliot, he explained, and Mrs.
Brewster-Smith was acting on his recommendation. Any questions arising out
of the management of the property should be taken up directly with her
client. Miss Eliot would have no difficulty in understanding that the
enormous pressure of work which now beset him precluded him from having
anything more to do with the matter.

The letter was typed and inclosed in a big linen envelope, with the mess
of papers Alys had dumped upon his desk a few days previously, and it was
despatched forthwith by the office boy.

"There," said George on a note of grim satisfaction, "that's done!"

The grimness lasted, but the satisfaction did not. Or only until the return
of the office boy, half an hour later, with the identical envelope and a
three-line typewritten note from Miss Eliot. She was sorry to say, she
wrote, that she did not consider it advisable to undertake the agency for
the property in question. Thanking him, nevertheless, for his courtesy, she
was his very truly, E. Eliot.

George summoned Betty by means of the buzzer, and asked her, with icy
indignation, what she thought of that. But, as he was visibly bursting with
impatience to say what _he_ thought of it, she gave him the opportunity.

"I thought you advanced women," he said, "were supposed to stand by each
other--stand by all women--try to make things better for them. One for
all--all for one. That sort of thing. But it really works the other way.
It's just because a woman owns those cottages that Miss Eliot won't have
anything to do with them. She knows that women are unreasonable and hard to
get on with in business matters, so she passes the buck! Back to a man, if
you please, who hasn't any more real responsibility for it than she has."

There was, of course, an obvious retort to this; namely, that business was
business, and that a business woman had the same privilege a business man
had, of declining a job that looked as if it would entail more bother than
it was worth. But Betty couldn't quite bring herself to take this line.
Women, if they could ever get the chance (through the vote and in other
ways), were going to make the world a better place--run it on a better lot
of ideals. It wouldn't do to begin justifying women on the ground that they
were only doing what men did. As well abandon the whole crusade right at
the beginning.

George saw her looking rather thoughtful, and pressed his advantage.
Suppose Betty went and saw Miss Eliot personally, sometime today, and urged
her to reconsider. The business didn't amount to much, it was true, and it
no doubt involved the adjustment of some troublesome details. But unless
Miss Eliot would undertake it, he wouldn't know just where to turn. Alys
had quarreled with Allen, and Sampson was a skate. And perhaps a little
plain talk to Alys about the condition of the cottages--"from one of her
own sex," George said this darkly and looked away out of the window at the
time--might be productive of good.

"All right," Betty agreed, "I'll see what I can do. It's kind of hard to go
to a woman you barely know by sight, and talk to her about her duty, but I
guess I'm game. If you can spare me, I'll go now and get it over with."

There were no frills about Edith Eliot's real estate office, though the air
of it was comfortably busy and prosperous.

The place had once been a store. An architect's presentation of an
apartment building, now rather dusty, occupied the show-window. There was
desk accommodation for two or three of those bright young men who make a
selection of keys and take people about to look at houses; there was a
stenographer's desk with a stenographer sitting at it; and back of a table
in the corner, in the attitude of one making herself as comfortable as
the heat of the day would permit, while she scowled over a voluminous
typewritten document, was E. Eliot herself. It was almost superfluous to
mention that her name was Edith. She never signed it, and there was no one,
in Whitewater anyway, who called her by it.

She was a big-boned young woman (that is, if you call the middle thirties
young), with an intelligent, homely face, which probably got the attraction
some people surprisingly found in it from the fact that she thought nothing
about its looks one way or the other. It was rather red when Betty came in,
and she was making it rapidly redder with the vigorous ministrations of a
man's-size handkerchief.

She greeted Betty with a cordial "how-de-doo," motioned her to the other
chair at the table (Betty had a fleeting wish that she might have dusted it
before she sat down), and asked what she could do for her.

"I'm from Mr. Remington's office," Betty said, "Remington and Evans. He
wrote you a note this morning about some cottages that belong to a cousin
of his, Mrs. Brewster-Smith."

"I answered that note by his own messenger," said E. Eliot. "He should have
got the reply before this." "Oh, he got it," said Betty, "and was rather
upset about it. What I've come for, is to urge you to reconsider."

E. Eliot smiled rather grimly at her blotting-pad, looked up at Betty, and
allowed her smile to change its quality. What she said was not what she had
meant to say before she looked up. E. Eliot was always upbraiding herself
for being sentimental about youth and beauty in her own sex. She'd never
been beautiful, and she'd never been young--not young like Betty. But the
upbraidings never did any good.

She said: "I thought I had considered sufficiently when I answered Mr.
Remington's note. But it's possible I hadn't. What is it you think I may
have overlooked?"

"Why," said Betty, "George thought the reason you wouldn't take the
cottages was because a woman owned them. He used it as a sort of example
of how women wouldn't stick together. He said that you probably knew that
women were unreasonable and hard to deal with and didn't want the bother."

It disconcerted Betty a little that E. Eliot interposed no denial at
this point, though she'd paused to give her the opportunity.

"You see," she went on a little breathlessly, "I'm for women suffrage and
economic independence and all that. I think it's perfectly wonderful
that you should be doing what you are--showing that women can be just as
successful in business as men can. Of course I know that you've got a
perfect _right_ to do just what a man would do--refuse to take a piece of
business that wasn't worth while. But--but what we hope is, and what we
want to show men is, that when women get into politics and business they'll
be better and less selfish."

"Which do you mean will be better?" E. Eliot inquired. "The politics and
the business, or the women?"

"I mean the politics and the business," Betty told her rather frostily. Was
the woman merely making fun of her?

E. Eliot caught the note. "I meant my question seriously," she said. "It
has a certain importance. But I didn't mean to interrupt you. Go ahead."
"Well," Betty said, "that's about all. George--Mr. Remington--that is--is
running for district attorney, and he has come out against suffrage as you
know. I thought perhaps this was a chance to convert him a little. It would
be a great favor to him, anyway, if you took the cottages; because he
doesn't know whom to turn to, if you won't. I didn't come to try to tell
you what your duty is, but I thought perhaps you hadn't just looked at it
that way."

"All right," said E. Eliot. "Now I'll tell you how I do look at it. In the
first place, about doing business for women. It all depends on the woman
you're doing business with. If she's had the business training of a man,
she's as easy to deal with as a man. If she's never had any business
training at all, if business doesn't mean anything to her except some vague
hocus-pocus that produces her income, then she's seven kinds of a Tartar.

"She has no more notion about what she has a right to expect from other
people, or what they've a right to expect from her, than a white Angora
cat. Of course, the majority of women who have property to attend to have
had it dumped on their hands in middle life, or after, by the wills of
loving husbands. Those women, I'll say frankly, are the devil and all to
deal with. But it's their husbands' and fathers' fault, and not their own.
Anyhow, that isn't the reason I wouldn't take those cottages.

"It was the cottages themselves, and not the woman who owned them, that
decided me. That whole Kentwood district is a disgrace to civilization. The
sanitary conditions are filthy; have been for years. The owners have been
resisting condemnation proceedings right along, on the ground that the
houses brought in so little rental that it would be practical confiscation
to compel them to make any improvements. Now, since the war boon struck the
mills, and every place with four walls and a roof is full, they're saying
they can't afford to make any change because of the frightful loss they'd
suffer in potential profits.

"Well, when you agree to act as a person's agent, you've got to act in that
person's interest; and when it's a question of the interest of the owners
of those Kentwood cottages, whether they're men or women, my idea was that
I didn't care for the job."

"I think you're perfectly right about it," Betty said. "I wouldn't have
come to urge you to change your mind, if I had understood what the
situation was. But," here she held out her hand, "I'm glad I did come,
and I wish we might meet again sometime and get acquainted and talk about

"No time like the present," said E. Eliot. "Sit down again, if you've got a
minute." She added, as Betty dropped back into her chair, "You're Elizabeth
Sheridan, aren't you?--Judge Sheridan's daughter? And you're working as a
stenographer for Remington and Evans?"

Betty nodded and stammered out the beginning of an apology for not having
introduced herself earlier. But the older woman waved this aside.

"What I really want to know," she went on, "if it isn't too outrageous a
question, is what on earth you're doing it for--working in that law office,
I mean?"

It was a question Betty was well accustomed to answering. But coming from
this source, it surprised her into a speechless stare.

"Why," she said at last, "I do it because I believe in economic
independence for women. Don't you? But of course you do."

"I don't know," said E. Eliot. "I believe in food and clothes, and money to
pay the rent, and the only way I have ever found of having those things was
to get out and earn them. But if ever I make money enough to give me an
independent income half the size of what yours must be, I'll retire from
business in short order."

"Do you know," said Betty, "I don't believe you would. I think you're
mistaken. I don't believe a woman like you could live without working."

"I didn't say I'd quit working," said E. Eliot. "I said I'd quit business.
That's another thing. There's plenty of real work in the world that won't
earn you a living. Lord! Don't I see it going by right here in this office!
There are things I just itch to get my hands into, and I have to wait and
tell myself 'some day, perhaps!' There's a thing I'd like to do now, and
that's to take a hand in this political campaign for district attorney. It
would kill my business deader than Pharaoh's aunt, so I've got to let it
go. But it would certainly put your friend George Remington up a tall

"Oh, you're a suffragist, then?" Betty exclaimed eagerly. "I was wondering
about that. I've never seen you at any of our meetings."

"I'm a suffragist, all right," said E. Eliot, "but as your meetings are
mostly held in the afternoons, when I'm pretty busy, I haven't been able to
get 'round.

"I'm curious about Remington," she went on. "I've known him a little,
for years. When I worked for Allen, I used to see him quite often in the
office. And I'd always rather liked him. So that I was surprised, clear
down to the ground, when I read that statement of his in the _Sentinel_.
I'd never thought he was _that_ sort. And from the fact that you work in
his office and like him well enough to call him George one might almost
suppose he wasn't."

Clearly Betty was puzzled. "Of course," she said, "I think his views about
women are obsolete and ridiculous. But I don't see what they've got to do
with liking him or not, personally."

E. Eliot's smile became grim again, but she said nothing, so Betty asked a
direct question.

"That was what you meant, wasn't it?"

"Yes," the other woman said, "that was what I meant. Why, if you don't mind
plain speaking, it's been my observation that the sort of men who think the
world is too indecent for decent women to go out into, generally have their
own reasons for knowing how indecent it is; and that when they spring
a line of talk like that, they're being sickening hypocrites into the

Betty's face had gone flame color.

"George isn't like that at all," she said. "He's--he's really fine. He's
old-fashioned and sentimental about women, but he isn't a hypocrite. He
really means those things he says. Why ..."

And then Betty went on to tell her new friend about Cousin Emelene and Alys
Brewster-Smith, and how George, though he writhed, had stood the gaff.

"A grown-up man," E. Eliot summed up, "who honestly believes that women are
made of something fine and fragile, and that they ought to be kept where
even the wind can't blow upon them! But good heavens, child, if he really
means that, it makes it all the better for what I was thinking of. You
don't understand, of course. I hadn't meant to tell you, but I've changed
my mind.

"Listen now. That statement in the _Sentinel_ has set the town talking, of
course, and stirred up a lot of feeling, for and against suffrage. But what
it would be worth as an issue to go to the mat with on election day, is
exactly nothing at all. You go out and ask a voter to vote against a
candidate for district attorney because he's an anti-suffragist, and he'll
say, 'What difference does it make? It isn't up to him to give women the
vote. It doesn't matter to me what his private opinions are, as long as he
makes a good district attorney!' But there is an issue that we _can_ go to
the mat with, and so far it hasn't been raised at all. There hasn't been a
peep." She reached over and laid a hand on Betty's arm.

"Do you know what the fire protection laws for factories are? And do you
know that it's against the law for women to work in factories at night?
Well, and do you know what the conditions are in every big mill in this
town? With this boom in war orders, they've simply taken off the lid.
Anything goes. The fire and building ordinances are disregarded, and for
six months the mills have been running a night shift as well as a day
shift, on Sundays and week-days, and three-quarters of their operatives are
women. Those women go to work at seven o'clock at night, and quit at six in
the morning; and they have an hour off from twelve to one in the middle of
the night.

"Now do you see? It's up to the district attorney to enforce the law. Isn't
it fair to ask this defender of the home whether he believes that women
should be home at night or not, and if he does, what he's going to do about
it? Talk about slogans! The situation bristles with them! We could placard
this town with a lot of big black-faced questions that would make it the
hottest place for George Remington that he ever found himself in.

"Well, it would be pretty good campaign work if he was the hypocrite I took
him to be, from his stuff in the _Sentinel_. But if he's on the level, as
you think he is, there's a chance--don't you see there's a chance that he'd
come out flat-footed for the enforcement of the law? And if he did!...
Child, can you see what would happen if he _did_?"

Betty's eyes were shining like a pair of big sapphires. When she spoke, it
was in a whisper like an excited child.

"I can see a little," she said. "I think I can see. But tell me."

"In the first place," said E. Eliot, "see whom he'd have against him.
There'd be the best people, to start with. Most of them are stockholders in
the mills. Why, you must be, yourself, in the Jaffry-Bradshaw Company! Your
father was, anyway."

Betty nodded.

"You want to be sure you know what it means," the older woman went on.
"This thing might cut into your dividends, if it went through."

"I hope it will," said Betty fiercely. "I never realized before that my
money was earned like that--by women, girls of my age, standing over a
machine all night." She shivered. "And there are some of us, I'm sure," she
went on, "who would feel the way I do about it."

"Well,--some," E. Eliot admitted. "Not many, though. And then there are the
merchants. These are great times for them--town crammed with people, all
making money, and buying right and left. And then there's the labor vote
itself! A lot of laboring men would be against him. Their women just now
are earning as much as they are. There are a lot of these men--whatever
they might say--who'd take good care not to vote for a man who would
prevent their daughters from bringing in the fifteen, twenty, or
twenty-five dollars a week they get for that night work.

"Well, and who would be with him? Why, the women themselves. The one chance
on earth he'd have for election would be to have the women organized and
working for him, bringing every ounce of influence they had to bear on
their men--on all the men they knew.

"Mind you, I don't believe he could win at that. But, win or lose, he'd
have done something. He'd have shown the women that they needed the vote,
and he'd have found out for himself--he and the other men who believe in
fair human treatment for everybody--that they can't secure that treatment
without women's votes. That's the real issue. It isn't that women are
better than men, or that they could run the world better if they got the
chance. It's that men and women have got to work together to do the things
that need doing."

"You're perfectly wonderful," said Betty, and sat thereafter, for perhaps a
minute and a half, in an entranced silence.

Then, with a shake of the head, a straightening of the spine, and a good,
deep, business-like preliminary breath, she turned to her new friend and
said, "Well, shall we do it?"

This time it was E. Eliot's turn to gasp.

She hadn't expected to have a course of action put up to her in that
instantaneous and almost casual manner. She wasn't young like Betty. She'd
been working hard ever since she was seventeen years old. She'd succeeded,
in a way, to be sure. But her success had taught her how hard success is to
obtain. She saw much farther into the consequences of the proposed campaign
than Betty could see. She realized the bitter animosity that it would
provoke. She knew it was well within the probabilities that her business
would be ruined by it.

She sat there silent for a while, her face getting grimmer and grimmer all
the time. But she turned at last and looked into the eager face of the girl
beside her, and she smiled,--though even the smile was grim.

"All right," she said, holding out her hand to bind the bargain. "We'll
start and we'll stick. And here's hoping! We'd better lunch together,
hadn't we?"



Mr. Benjamin Doolittle, by profession White-water's leading furniture
dealer and funeral director, and by the accident of political fortune the
manager of Mr. George Remington's campaign, sat in his candidate's private
office, and from time to time restrained himself from hasty speech by the
diplomatic and dexterous use of a quid of tobacco.

He found it difficult to preserve his philosophy in the face of George
Remington's agitation over the woman's suffrage issue.

"It's the last time," he had frequently informed his political cronies
since the opening of the campaign, "that I'll wet-nurse a new-fledged
candidate. They've got at least to have their milk teeth through if they
want Benjamin Doolittle after this." To George, itchingly aware through all
his rasped nerves of Mrs. Herrington's letter in that morning's _Sentinel_
asking him to refute, if he could, an abominable half column of statistics
in regard to legislation in the Woman Suffrage States, the furniture dealer
was drawling pacifically:

"Now, George, you made a mistake in letting the women get your goat. Don't
pay no attention to them. Of course their game's fair enough. I will say
that you gave them their opening; stood yourself for a target with that
statement of yours. Howsomever, you ain't obligated to keep on acting as
the nigger head in the shooting gallery.

"Let 'em write; let 'em ask questions in the papers; let 'em heckle you
on the stump. All that you've got to say is that you've expressed your
personal convictions already, and that you've stood by those convictions in
your private life, and that as you ain't up for legislator, the question
don't really concern your candidacy. And that, as you're running for
district attorney, you will, with their kind permission, proceed to the
subjects that do concern you there--the condition of the court calendar of
Whitewater County, the prosecution of the racetrack gamblers out at Erie
Oval, and so forth, and so forth.

"You laid yourself open, George, but you ain't obligated in law or equity
to keep on presenting yourself bare chest for their outrageous slings and

"Of course, what you say about their total irrelevancy is quite true," said
George, making the concession so that it had all the belligerency of a
challenge. "But of course I would never have consented to run for office at
the price of muzzling my convictions."

Mr. Doolittle wearily agreed that that was more than could be expected from
any candidate of the high moral worth of George Remington. Then he went
over a list of places throughout the county where George was to speak
during the next week, and intimated dolefully that the committee could use
a little more money, if it had it.

He expressed it thus: "A few more contributions wouldn't put any strain to
speak of on our pants' pockets. Anything more to be got out of Old Martin
Jaffry? Don't he realize that blood's thicker than water?"

"I'll speak to him," growled George.

He hated Mr. Benjamin Doolittle's colloquialisms, though once he had
declared them amusing, racy, of the soil, and had rebuked Genevieve's
fastidious criticisms of them on an occasion when she had interpreted her
role of helpmeet to include that of hostess to Mr. and Mrs. Doolittle--oh,
not in her own home, of course!--at luncheon, at the Country Club!

"Well, I guess that's about all for today."

Mr. Doolittle brought the conference to a close, hoisting himself by links
from his chair.

"It takes $3000 every time you circularize the constituency, you know----"

He lounged toward the window and looked out again upon the pleasant, mellow
scene around Fountain Square. And with the look his affectation of bucolic
calm dropped from him. He turned abruptly.

"What's that going on at McMonigal's corner?" he demanded sharply. "I don't
know, I am sure," said George, with indifference, still bent upon teaching
his manager that he was a free and independent citizen, in leading strings
to no man. "It's been vacant since the fire in March, when Petrosini's fish
market and Miss Letterblair's hat st----"

He had reached the window himself by this time, and the sentence was
destined to remain forever unfinished.

From the low, old-fashioned brick building on the northeast corner of
Fountain Square, whose boarded eyes had stared blindly across toward the
glittering orbs of its towering neighbor, the Jaffry Building, for six
months, a series of great placards flared.

Planks had been removed from the windows, plate glass restored, and behind
it he read in damnable irritation:


A foot high, an inch broad, black as Erebus, the letters shouted at him
against an orange background. Every window of the second story contained a
placard. On the first story, in the show window where Petrosini had been
wont to ravish epicurean eyes by shad and red snapper, perch and trout,
cunningly imbedded in ice blocks upon a marble slab--in that window, framed
now in the hated orange and black, stood a woman.

She was turning backward, for the benefit of onlookers who pressed close to
the glass, the leaves of a mammoth pad resting upon an easel.

From their point of vantage in the second story of the Jaffry Building,
the candidate and his manager could see that each sheet bore that horrid


The whole population of White water, it seemed to George, was crowded about
that corner.

"I'll be back in a minute," said Benjie Doolittle, disappearing through
the private office door with the black tails of his coat achieving a true
horizontal behind him. As statesman and as undertaker, Mr. Doolittle never
swerved from the garment which keeps green the memory of the late Prince

As the door opened, the much-tried George Remington had a glimpse of that
pleasing industrial unit, Betty Sheridan, searching through the file for
the copy of the letter to the Cummunipaw Steel Works, which he had recently
demanded to see. He pressed the buzzer imperiously, and Betty responded
with duteous haste. He pointed through the window to the crowd in front of
McMonigal's block.

"Perhaps," he said, with what seemed to him Spartan self-restraint, "_you_
can explain the meaning of that scene."

Betty looked out with an air of intelligent interest.

"Oh yes!" she said vivaciously. "I think I can. It's a Voiceless Speech."

"A voice l--" George's own face was a voiceless speech as he repeated two
syllables of his stenographer's explanation.

"Yes. Don't you know about voiceless speeches? It's antiquated to try to
run any sort of a campaign without them nowadays."

"Perhaps you also know who that--female--" again George's power of
utterance failed him. Betty came closer to the window and peered out.

"It's Frances Herrington who is turning the leaves now," she said amiably.
"I know her by that ducky toque."

"Frances Herrington! What Harvey Herrington is thinking of to allow----"
George's emotion constrained him to broken utterance. "And we're dining
there tonight! She has no sense of the decencies--the--the--the hospitality
of existence. We won't go--I'll telephone Genevieve----"

"Fie, fie Georgie!" observed Betty. "Why be personal over a mere detail of
a political campaign?"

But before George could tell her why his indignation against his
prospective hostess was impersonal and unemotional, the long figure of Mr.
Doolittle again projected itself upon the scene.

Betty effaced herself, gliding from the inner office, and George turned
a look of inquiry upon his manager.

"Well?" the monosyllable had all the force of profanity.

"Well, the women, durn them, have brought suffrage into your campaign."


"How? They've got a list of every blamed law on the statute books relating
to women and children, and they're asking on that sheet of leaves over
there, if you mean to proceed against all who are breaking those laws here
in Whitewater County. And right opposite your own office! It's--it's damn
smart. You ought to have got that Herrington woman on your committee."

"It's indelicate, unwomanly, indecent. It shows into what unsexed
degradation politics will drag woman. But I'm relieved that that's all
they're asking. Of course, I shall enforce the law for the protection of
every class in our community with all the power of the----"

"Oh, shucks! There's nobody here but me--you needn't unfurl Old Glory,"
counseled Mr. Doolittle, a trifle impatiently. "They're asking real
questions, not blowing off hot-air. Oh, I say, who owns McMonigal's block
since the old man died? We'll have the owner stop this circus. That's the
first thing to do."

"I'll telephone Allen. He'll know."

Allen's office was very obliging and would report on the ownership on
McMonigal's block in ten minutes.

Mr. Doolittle employed the interval in repeating to George some of the
"Questions for Candidate Remington," illegible from George's desk.

"You believe that 'WOMAN'S PLACE IS IN THE HOME.' Will you enforce the law
against woman's night work in the factories? Over nine hundred women of
Whitewater County are doing night work in the munition plants of Airport,
Whitewater and Ondegonk. What do you mean to do about it?"


A critical listener would have caught a note of ribald scorn in Mr.
Doolittle's drawl, as he quoted from his candidate's statement, via the
voiceless speech placards.

"To conserve the threatened flower of womanhood, the grape canneries of
Omega and Onicrom Townships are employing children of five and six years
in defiance of the Child Labor Law of this State. Are you going to proceed
against them?"

"'WOMAN IS MAN'S RAREST HERITAGE.' Do you think man ought to burn her
alive? Remember the Livingston Loomis-Ladd collar factory fire--fourteen
women killed, forty-eight maimed. In how many of the factories in
Whitewater, in which women work, are the fire laws obeyed? Do you mean to
enforce them?"

The telephone interrupted Mr. Doolittle's hateful litany.

Alien's bright young man begged to report that McMonigal's block was held
in fee simple by the widow of the late Michael McMonigal.

Mr. Doolittle juggled the leaves of the telephone directory with the
dazzling swiftness of a Japanese ball thrower, and in a few seconds he was
speaking to the relict of the late Michael.

George watched him with fevered eyes, listened with fevered ears. The
conversation, it was easy to gather, did not proceed as Mr. Doolittle

"Oh! in entire charge--E. Eliot. Oh! In sympathy yourself. Oh, come now,
Mrs. McMonigal----"

But Mrs. McMonigal did not come now. The campaign manager frowned as he
replaced the receiver.

"Widow owns the place. That Eliot woman is the agent. The suffrage gang has
the owner's permission to use the building from now on to election. She
says she's in sympathy. Well, we'll have to think of something----"

"It's easy enough," declared George. "I'll simply have a set of posters
printed answering their questions. And we'll engage sandwich men to carry
them in front of McMonigal's windows. Certainly I mean to enforce the law.
I'll give the order to the _Sentinel_ press now for the answers--definite,
dignified answers." "See here, George." Mr. Doolittle interrupted him with
unusual weightiness of manner. "It's too far along in the campaign for you
to go flying off on your own. You've got to consult your managers. This is
your first campaign; it's my thirty-first. You've got to take advice----"

"I will not be muzzled."

"Shucks! Who wants to muzzle, anybody! But you can't say everything that's
inside of you, can you? There's got to be some choosing. We've got to help
you choose.

"The silly questions the women are displaying over there--you can't answer
'em in a word or in two words. This city is having a boom; every valve
factory in the valley, every needle and pin factory, is makin' munitions
today--valves and needles and pins all gone by the board for the time
being. Money's never been so plenty in Whitewater County and this city
is feelin' the benefits of it. People are buying things--clothes, flour,
furniture, victrolas, automobiles, rum.

"There ain't a merchant of any description in this county but his business
is booming on account of the work in the factories. You can't antagonize
the whole population of the place. Why, I dare say, some of your own money
and Mrs. Remington's is earning three times what it was two years ago. The
First National Bank has just declared a fifteen per cent. dividend, and
Martin Jaffry owns fifty-four per cent. of the stock.

"You don't want to put brakes on prosperity. It ain't decent citizenship to
try it. It ain't neighborly. Think of the lean years we've known. You can't
do it. This war won't last forever--" Mr. Doolittle's voice was tinged with
regret--"and it will be time enough to go in for playing the deuce with
business when business gets slack again. That's the time for reforms,
George,--when things are dull."

George was silent, the very presentment of a sorely harassed young man. He
had not, even in a year when blamelessness rather than experience was his
party's supreme need in a candidate, become its banner bearer without
possessing certain political apperceptions. He knew, as Benjie Doolittle
spoke, that Benjie spoke the truth--White-water city and county would
never elect a man who had too convincingly promised to interfere with the
prosperity of the city and county.

"Better stick to the gambling out at Erie Oval, George," counseled the
campaign manager. "They're mostly New Yorkers that are interested in that,

"I'll not reply without due consideration and--er--notice," George sullenly
acceded to his manager and to necessity. But he hated both Doolittle and
necessity at the moment.

That sun-bright vision of himself which so splendidly and sustainingly
companioned him, which spoke in his most sonorous periods, which so
completely and satisfyingly commanded the reverence of Genevieve--that
George Remington of his brave imaginings would not thus have answered
Benjamin Doolittle.

Through the silence following the furniture man's departure, Betty, at
the typewriter, clicked upon Georgie's ears. An evil impulse assailed
him--impolitic, too, as he realized--impolitic but irresistible. It was
the easiest way in which candidate Remington, heckled by suffragists,
overridden by his campaign committee, mortifyingly tormented by a feeling
of inadequacy, could re-establish himself in his own esteem as a man of
prompt and righteous decisions.

He might not be able to run his campaign to suit himself, but, by Jove, his
office was his own!

He went into Betty's quarters and suggested to her that a due sense of the
eternal fitness of things would cause her to offer him her resignation,
which his own sense of the eternal fitness of things would lead him at once
to accept.

It seemed, he said, highly indecorous of her to remain in the employ of
Remington and Evans the while she was busily engaged in trying to thwart
the ambitions of the senior partner. He marveled that woman's boasted
sensitiveness had not already led her to perceive this for herself.

For a second, Betty seemed startled, even hurt. She colored deeply and her
eyes darkened. Then the flush of surprise and the wounded feeling died. She
looked at him blankly and asked how soon it would be possible for him to
replace her. She would leave as soon as he desired.

In her bearing, so much quieter than usual, in the look in her face, George
read a whole volume. He read that up to this time, Betty had regarded her
presence in the ranks of his political enemies as she would have regarded
being opposed to him in a tennis match. He read that he, with that biting
little speech which he already wished unspoken, had given her a sudden,
sinister illumination upon the relations of working women to their

He read the question in the back of her mind. Suppose (so it ran in his
constructive fancy) that instead of being a prosperous, protected young
woman playing the wage-earner more or less as Marie Antoinette had played
the milkmaid, she had been Mamie Riley across the hall, whose work was
bitter earnest, whose earnings were not pin-money, but bread and meat and
brother's schooling and mother's health--would George still have made the
stifling of her views the price of her position?

And if George--George, the kind, friendly, clean-minded man would drive
that bargain, what bargain might not other men, less gentle, less
noble, drive?

All this George's unhappily sensitized conscience read into Betty
Sheridan's look, even as the imp who urged him on bade him tell her that
she could leave at her own convenience; at once, if she pleased; the supply
of stenographers in Whitewater was adequately at demand.

He rather wished that Penny Evans would come in; Penny would doubtless take
a high hand with him concerning the episode, and there was nothing which
George Remington would have welcomed like an antagonist of his own size and

But Penny did not appear, and the afternoon passed draggingly for the
candidate for the district attorneyship. He tried to busy himself with the
affairs of his clients, but even when he could keep away from his windows
he was aware of the crowds in front of McMonigal's block, of Frances
Herrington, her "ducky" toque and her infernal voiceless speech.

And when, for a second, he was able to forget these, he heard from the
outer office the unmistakable sounds of a desk being permanently
cleared of its present incumbent's belongings.

After a while, Betty bade him a too courteous good-by, still with that
abominable new air of gravely readjusting her old impressions of him. And
then there was nothing to do but to go home and make ready for dinner at
the Herrington's, unless he could induce Genevieve to have an opportune

Of course Betty had been right. Not upon his masculine shoulders should
there be laid the absurd burden of political chagrin strong enough to break
a social engagement.

Genevieve was in her room. The library was given over to Alys
Brewster-Smith, Cousin Emelene Brand, two rusty callers and the tea things.
Before the drawing-room fire, Hanna slept in Maltese proprietorship. George
longed with passion to kick the cat.

Genevieve, as he saw through the open door, sat by the window. She had, it
appeared, but recently come in. She still wore her hat and coat; she had
not even drawn off her gloves. And seeing her thus, absorbed in some
problem, George's sense of his wrongs grew greater.

He had, he told himself, hurried home out of the jar and fret of a man's
day to find balm, to feel the cool fingers of peace pressed upon hot
eyelids, to drink strengthening draughts of refreshment from his wife's
unquestioning belief, from the completeness of her absorption in him. And
here she sat thinking of something else!

Genevieve arose, a little startled as he snapped on the lights and grunted
out something which optimism might translate into an affectionate husbandly
greeting. She came dutifully forward and raised her face, still exquisite
and cool from the outer air, for her lord's home-coming kiss. That resolved
itself into a slovenly peck.

"Been out?" asked George unnecessarily. He tried to quell the unreasonable
inclination to find her lacking in wifely devotion because she had been

"Yes. There was a meeting at the Woman's Forum this afternoon," she
answered. She was unpinning her hat before the pier glass, and in it
he could see the reflection of her eyes turned upon his image with a
questioning look.

"The ladies seem to be having a busy day of it."

He struggled not quite successfully to be facetious over the pretty,
negligible activities of his wife's sex. "What mighty theme engaged your

"That Miss Eliot--the real estate woman, you know--" George stiffened into
an attitude of close attention--"spoke about the conditions under which
women are working in the mills in this city and in the rest of the
county--" Genevieve averted her mirrored eyes from his mirrored face. She
moved toward her dressing-table.

"Oh, she did! and is the Woman's Forum going to come to grips with the
industrial monster and bring in the millennium by the first of the year?"

But George was painfully aware that light banter which fails to be
convincingly light is but a snarl.

Genevieve colored slightly as she studied the condition of a pair of long
white gloves which she had taken from a drawer.

"Of course the Woman's Forum is only for discussion," she said mildly. "It
doesn't initiate any action." Then she raised her eyes to his face and
George felt his universe reel about him.

For his wife's beautiful eyes were turned upon him, not in limpid
adoration, not in perfect acceptance of all his views, unheard, unweighed;
but with a question in their blue depths.

The horrid clairvoyance which harassment and self-distrust had given him
that afternoon enabled him, he thought, to translate that look. The Eliot
woman, in her speech before the Woman's Forum, had doubtless placed the
responsibility for the continuation of those factory conditions upon
the district attorney's office, had doubtless repeated those damn fool,
impractical questions which the suffragists were displaying in McMonigal's

And Genevieve was asking them in her mind! Genevieve was questioning
him, his motives, his standards, his intentions! Genevieve was not
intellectually a charming mechanical doll who would always answer "yes" and
"no" as he pressed the strings, and maintain a comfortable vacuity when he
was not at hand to perform the kindly act. Genevieve was thinking on her
own account. What, he wondered angrily, as he dressed--for he could not
bring himself to ask her aid in escaping the Herringtons and, indeed,
was suddenly balky at the thought of the intimacies of a domestic
evening--_what_ was she thinking? She was not such an imbecile as to be
unaware how large a share of her comfortable fortune was invested in the
local industry. Why, her father had been head of the Livingston Loomis-Ladd
Collar Company, when that dreadful fire--! And she certainly knew that his
uncle, Martin Jaffry, was the chief stockholder in the Jaffry-Bradshaw

What was the question in Genevieve's eyes? Was she asking if he were the
knight of those women who worked and sweated and burned, or of her and the
comfortable women of her class, of Alys Brewster-Smith with her little
cottages, of Cousin Emelene with her little stocks, of masquerading Betty
Sheridan whose sortie of independence was from the safe vantage-grounds of
entrenched privilege?

And all that evening as he watched his wife across the crystal and the
roses of the Herrington table, trying to interpret the question that had
been in her eyes, trying to interpret her careful silence, he realized what
every husband sooner or later awakes to realize--that he had married a

He did not know her. He did not know what ambitions, what aspirations apart
from him, ruled the spirit behind that charming surface of flesh.

Of course she was good, of course she was tender, of course she was
high-minded! But how wide-enveloping was the cloak of her goodness? How far
did her tenderness reach out? Was her high-mindedness of the practical or
impractical variety?

From time to time, he caught her eyes in turn upon him, with that curious
little look of re-examination in their depths. She could look at him like
that! She could look at him as though appraisals were possible from a wife
to a husband!

They avoided industrial Whitewater County as a topic when they left the
Herrington's. They talked with great animation and interest of the people
at the party. Arrived at home, George, pleading press of work, went down
into the library while Genevieve went to bed. Carefully they postponed
the moment of making articulate all that, remaining unspoken, might be

It was one o'clock and he had not moved a paper for an hour, when the
library door opened.

Genevieve stood there. She had sometimes come before when he had worked at
night, to chide him for neglecting sleep, to bring bouillon or chocolate.
But tonight she did neither.

She did not come far into the room, but standing near the door and looking
at him with a new expression--patient, tender, the everlasting eternal
look--she said: "I couldn't sleep, either. I came down to say something,
George. Don't interrupt me----" for he was coming toward her with sounds
of affectionate protest at her being out of bed. "Don't speak! I want to
say--whatever you do, whatever you decide--now--always--I love you. Even if
I don't agree, I love you."

She turned and went swiftly away.

George stood looking at the place where she had stood,--this strange, new
Genevieve, who, promising to love, reserved the right to judge.



The high moods of night do not always survive the clear, cold light of day.
Indeed it requires the contribution of both man and wife to keep a high
mood in married life.

Genevieve had gone in to make her profession of faith to her husband in a
mood which touched the high altitudes. She had gone without any conscious
expectation of anything from him in the way of response. She had vaguely
but confidingly expected him to live up to the moment.

She had expected something beautiful, a lovely flower of the
spirit--comprehension, generosity. Living up to the demand of the moment
was George's forte. Indeed, there were those among his friends who felt
that there were moments when George lived up to things too brightly and
too beautifully. His Uncle Jaffry, for instance, had his openly skeptical
moments. But George even lived up to his uncle's skepticism. He accepted
his remarks with charming good humor. It was his pride that he could laugh
at himself.

At the moment of Genevieve's touching speech he lived up to exactly
nothing. He didn't even smile. He only stared at her--a stare which said:

"Now what the devil do you mean by that?"

Genevieve had a flicker of bitter humor when she compared her moment of
sentiment to a toy balloon pulled down from the blue by an unsympathetic

The next morning, while George was still shaving, the telephone rang. It
was Betty.

"Can you have lunch with me at Thorne's, where we can talk?" she asked
Genevieve. "And give me a little time tomorrow afternoon?"

"Why," Genevieve responded, "I thought you were a working girl."

There was a perceptible pause before Betty replied.

"Hasn't George told you?" "Told what?" Genevieve inquired. "George hasn't
told me anything."

"I've left the office."

"Left! For heaven's sake, why?"

Betty's mind worked swiftly.

"Better treat it as a joke," was her decision. There was no pause before
she answered.

"Oh, trouble with the boss."

"You'll get over it. You're always having trouble with Penny.

"Oh," said Betty, "it's not with Penny this time."

"Not with George?"

"Yes, with George," Betty answered. "Did you think one couldn't quarrel
with the noblest of his sex? Well, one can."

"Oh, Betty, I'm sorry." Genevieve's tone was slightly reproachful.

"Well, I'm not," said Betty. "I like my present job better. It was a good
thing he fired me."

"_Fired_ you! George fired _you_?"

"Sure thing," responded Betty blithely. "I can't stand here talking all
day. What I want to know is, can I see you at lunch?"

"Yes--why, yes, of course," said Genevieve, dazedly. Then she hung up the
receiver and stared into space.

George, beautifully dressed, tall and handsome, now emerged from his room.
For once his adoring wife failed to notice that in appearance he rivaled
the sun god. She had one thing she wanted to know, and she wanted to know
it badly. It was,

"Why did you fire Betty Sheridan?"

She asked this in the insulting "point of the bayonet" tone which angry
equals use to one another the world over.

Either question or tone would have been enough to have put George's already
sensitive nerves on edge. Both together were unbearable. It was, when you
came down to it, the most awkward question in the world.

Why, indeed, had he fired Betty Sheridan? He hadn't really given himself an
account of the inward reasons yet. The episode had been too disturbing; and
it was George's characteristic to put off looking on unpleasant facts as
long as possible. Had he been really hard up, which he never had been, he
would undoubtedly have put away, unopened, the bills he couldn't pay. Life
was already presenting him with the bill of yesterday's ill humor, and
he was not yet ready to add up the amount. He hid himself now behind the
austerity of the offended husband.

"My dear," he inquired in his turn, "don't you think that you had best
leave the details of my office to me?"

He knew how lame this was, and how inadequate, before Genevieve replied.

"Betty Sheridan is not a detail of your office. She's one of my best
friends, and I want to know why you fired her. I dare say she was
exasperating; but I can't see any reason why you should have done it. You
should have let her leave."

It was Betty, with that lamentable lack of delicacy which George had
pointed out to her, who had not been ready to leave.

"You will have to let me be the judge of what I should or should not have
done," said George. This piece of advice Genevieve ignored.

"Why did you send her away?" she demanded.

"I sent her away, if you want to know, for her insolence and her damned bad
taste. If you think--working in my office as she was--it's decent or proper
on her part to be active in a campaign that is against me----"

"You mean because she's a suffragist? You sent her away for _that_! Why,
really, that's _tyranny_! It's like my sending away some one working for me
for her beliefs----"

They stood staring at each other, not questioningly as they had yesterday,
but as enemies,--the greater enemies that they so loved each other.

Because of that each word of unkindness was a doubled-edged sword. They
quarreled. It was the first time that they had seen each other without
illusion. They had been to each other the ideal, the lover, husband, wife.

Now, in the dismay of his amazement in finding himself quarreling with
the perfect wife, a vagrant memory came to George that he had heard that
Genevieve had a hot temper. She certainly had. He didn't notice how
handsome she looked kindled with anger. He only knew that the rose garden
in which they lived was being destroyed by their angry hands; that the very
foundation of the life they had been leading was being undermined.

The time of mirage and glamour was over. He had ceased being a hero and
an ideal, and why? Because, forgetting his past life, his record, his
achievement, Genevieve obstinately insisted on identifying him with one
single mistake. He was willing to concede it was a mistake. She had not
only identified him with it, but she had called him a number of wounding

"Tyrant" was the least of them, and, worse than that, she had, in a
very fury of temper, told him that he "needn't take that pompous"--yes,
"pompous" had been her unpleasant word--"tone" with her, when he had
inquired, more in sorrow than in anger, if this were really his Genevieve

There was a pause in their hostilities. They looked at each other aghast.
Aghast, they had perceived the same awful truth. Each saw that love
[Illustration: "You mean because she's a suffragist? You sent her away for
_that_? Why, really, that's _tyranny_!"] in the other's heart was dead, and
that things never could be the same again. So they stood looking down this
dark gulf, and the light of anger died.

In a toneless voice: "We mustn't let Cousin Emelene and Alys hear us
quarreling," said George. And Genevieve answered, "They've gone down to

The two ladies were seated at table.

"We heard you two love birds cooing and billing, and thought we might
as well begin," said Alys Brewster-Smith. "Regularity is of the highest
importance in bringing up a child."

Cousin Emelene was reading the _Sentinel._ George's quick eye glanced at
the headlines:

_Candidate Remington Heckled by Suffragists. Ask Him Leading Questions._

"Why, dear me," she remarked, her kind eyes on George, "it's perfectly
awful, isn't it, that they break the laws that way just for a little more
money. But I don't see why they want to annoy dear George. They ought to be
glad they are going to get a district attorney who'll put all those
things straight. I think it's very silly of them to ask him, don't you,

"Let me see," said Genevieve, taking the paper.

"All he's got to do, anyway, is to answer," pursued Cousin Emelene.

"Yes, that's all," replied Genevieve, her melancholy gaze on George.
Yesterday she would have had Emelene's childlike faith. But this stranger,
who, for a trivial and tyrannical reason, had sent away Betty--how would
_he_ act?

"They showed these right opposite your windows?" she questioned.

"Yes," he returned. "Our friend Mrs. Herrington did it herself. It was the
first course of our dinner. If you think that's good taste--"

"I would expect it of her," said Alys Brewster-Smith.

"But it makes it so easy for George," Emelene repeated. "They'll know now
what sort of a man he is. Little children at work, just to make a little
more money--it's awful!"

"Talking about money, George," said Alys, "have you seen to my houses yet?"
"Not yet," replied the harassed George. "You'll have to excuse my going
into the reasons now. I'm late as it is."

His voice had not the calm he would have wished for. As he took his
departure, he heard Alys saying,

"If you'll let me, my dear, I'd adore helping you about the housekeeping. I
don't want to stay here and be a burden. If you'll just turn it over to me,
I could cut your housekeeping expenses in half."

"Damn the women," was the unchivalrous thought that rose to George's lips.

One would have supposed that trouble had followed closely enough on George
Remington's trail, but now he found it awaiting him in his office.

Usually, Penny was the late one. It was this light-hearted young man's
custom to blow in with so engaging an expression and so cheerful a manner
that any comment on his unpunctuality was impossible. Today, instead of a
gay-hearted young man, he looked more like a sentencing judge.

What he wanted to know was,

"What have you done to Betty Sheridan? Do you mean to say that you had
the nerve to send her away, send her out of my office without consulting
me--and for a reason like that? How did you think I was going to feel about

"I didn't think about you," said George.

"You bet you didn't. You thought about number one and your precious vanity.
Why, if one were to separate you from your vanity, one couldn't see you
when you were going down the street. Go on, make a frock coat gesture! Play
the brilliant but outraged young district attorney. Do you know what it was
to do a thing of that kind--to fire a girl because she didn't agree with

"It wasn't because she didn't agree with me," George interrupted, with

"It was the act of a cad," Penny finished. "Look here, young man, I'm going
to tell you a few plain truths about yourself. You're not the sort of
person that you think you are. You've deceived yourself the way other
people are deceived about you--by your exterior. But inside of that
good-looking carcass of yours there's a brain composed of cheese. You
weren't only a cad to do it--you were a fool!" "You can't use that tone to
me!" cried George.

"Oh, can't I just? By Jove, it's things like that that make one wake up.
Now I know why women have a passion for suffrage. I never knew before,"
Penny went on, with more passion than logic. "You had a nerve to make that
statement of yours. You're a fine example of chivalry. You let loose a few
things when you wrote that fool statement, but you did a worse trick when
you fired Betty Sheridan. God, you're a pinhead--from the point of view of
mere tactics. Sometimes I wonder whether you've _any_ brain."

George had turned white with anger.

"That'll just about do," he remarked.

"Oh, no, it won't," said Penny. "It won't do at all. I'm not going to
remain in a firm where things like this can happen. I wouldn't risk my
reputation and my future. You're going to do the decent thing. You're going
to Betty Sheridan and tell her what you think of yourself. She won't come
back, I suppose, but you might ask her to do that, too. And now I'm going
out, to give you time to think this over. And tonight you can tell me what
you've decided. And then I'll tell you whether I'm going to dissolve our
partnership. Your temper's too bad to decide now. Maybe when you've done
that she won't treat me like an unsavory stranger."

He left, and George sat down to gloomy reflection.

To do him justice, the idea of apologizing to Betty had already occurred to
him. If he put off the day of reckoning, when the time came he would pay
handsomely. He realized that there was no use in wasting energy and being
angry with Penny. He looked over the happenings of the last few hours and
the part he had played in them, and what he saw failed to please him. He
saw himself being advised by Doolittle to concentrate on the Erie Oval.
He heard him urging him not to be what Doolittle called unneighborly. The
confiding words of Cousin Emelene rang in his ears.

He saw himself, in a fit of ill-temper, discharging Betty. He saw
Genevieve, lovely and scornful, urging him to be less pompous. All this, he
had to admit, he had brought on himself. Why should he have been so angry
at these questions? Again Emelene's remark echoed in his ear. He had only
to answer them--and he was going to concentrate on the Erie Oval!

There came a knock on the door, and a breezy young woman demanded,

"D'you want a stenographer?"

George wanted a stenographer, and wanted one badly. He put from him the
whole vexed question in the press of work, and by lunch time he made up his
mind to have it out with Betty. There was no use putting it off, and he
knew that he could have no peace with himself until he did. He felt very
tired--as though he had been doing actual physical work. He thought of
yesterday as a land of lost content. But he couldn't find Betty.

He bent his steps toward home, and as he did so affection for Genevieve
flooded his heart. He so wanted yesterday back--things as they had been. He
so wanted her love and her admiration. He wanted to put his tired head on
her shoulder. He couldn't bear, not for another moment, to be at odds with

He wondered what she had been doing, and how she had spent the morning. He
imagined her crying her heart out. He leaped up the steps and ran up to his
room. In it was Alys Brewster-Smith. She started slightly.

"I was just looking for some cold cream," she explained.

"Where's Genevieve?" George asked.

"Oh, she's out," Alys replied casually. "She left a note for you."

The note was a polite and noncommittal line informing George that Genevieve
would not be back for lunch. He felt as though a lump of ice replaced his
heart. His disappointment was the desperate disappointment of a small boy.

He went back to the gloomy office and worked through the interminable day.
Late in the afternoon Mr. Doolittle lounged heavily in.

"Have some gum, George?" he inquired, inserting a large piece in his own

He chewed rhythmically for a space. George waited. He knew that chewing gum
was not the ultimate object of Mr. Doolittle's visit.

"Don't women beat the Dutch?" he inquired at last. "Yes sir, mister; they

"What's up now?" George inquired. "The suffragists again?"

"Nope; not on the face of it they ain't. It's the Woman's Forum that's
doin' this. They've got a sweet little idea. 'Seein' Whitewater Sweat' they
call it.

"They're goin' around in bunches of twos, or mebbe blocks o' five, seein'
all the sights; an' you know women ain't reasonable, an' you can't reason
with them. They're goin' to find a pile o' things they won't like in this
little burg o' ours, all right, all right. An' they'll want to have things
changed right off. I want to see things changed m'self. I'd like to, but
them things take time, an' that's what women won't understand.

"Jimminee, I've heard of towns all messed up and candidates ruined just
because the women got wrought up over tenement-house an' fire laws an'
truck like that. Yes sir, they're out seein' Whitewater this minut, or
will be if you can't divert their minds. Call 'em off, George, if you can.
Get 'em fussy about sumpen else."

"Why, what have I to do with it?" George inquired.

"Well, I didn't know but what you might have sumpen," said Mr. Doolittle
mildly. "It's that young lady that works here, Miss Sheridan, an' your wife
what's organizin' it. Planning it all out to Thorne's at lunch they was,
an' Heally was sittin' at the next table and beats it to me. You can see
for yerself what a hell of a mess they'll make!"



It was a relief to both men when at this point the door of the office
opened and Martin Jaffry entered.

Not since the unfortunate anti-suffrage statement of George's had Uncle
Martin dropped in like this. George, looking at him with that first swift
glance that often predetermines a whole interview, made up his mind
that bygones were to be bygones. He greeted his uncle with the warmest

"Well, George," said Uncle Martin, "how are things going?"

"I'm going to be elected, if that's what you mean," answered George.

Doolittle gave a snort. "Indeed, are ye?" said he. "As a friend and
well-wisher, I'm sure I'm delighted to hear the news." "Do I understand
that you have your doubts, Mr. Doolittle?" Jaffry inquired mildly.

"There's two things we need and need badly, Mr. Jaffry," said Doolittle.
"One's money--"

"A small campaign contribution would not be rejected?"

"But there's something we need more than money--and God knows I never
expected to say them words--and that's common sense."

"Good," said Uncle Martin, "I have plenty of that, too!"

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