by Stephen Crane
MARJORY walked pensively along the hall. In the cool shadows made by the palms on the window ledge, her face wore the expression of thoughtful melancholy expected on the faces of the devotees who pace in cloistered gloom. She halted before a door at the end of the hall and laid her hand on the knob. She stood hesitating, her head bowed. It was evident that this mission was to require great fortitude.
At last she opened the door. ” Father,” she began at once. There was disclosed an elderly, narrow-faced man seated at a large table and surrounded by manuscripts and books. The sunlight flowing through curtains of Turkey red fell sanguinely upon the bust of dead-eyed Pericles on the mantle. A little clock was ticking, hidden somewhere among the countless leaves of writing, the maps and broad heavy tomes that swarmed upon the table.
Her father looked up quickly with an ogreish scowl.
Go away! ” he cried in a rage. ” Go away. Go away. Get out ” ” He seemed on the point of arising to eject the visitor. It was plain to her that he had been interrupted in the writing of one of his sentences, ponderous, solemn and endless, in which wandered multitudes of homeless and friendless prepositions, adjectives looking for a parent, and quarrelling nouns, sentences which no longer symbolised the languageform of thought but which had about them a quaint aroma from the dens of long-dead scholars. ” Get out,” snarled the professor.
Father,” faltered the girl. Either because his formulated thought was now completely knocked out of his mind by his own emphasis in defending it, or because he detected something of portent in her expression, his manner suddenly changed, and with a petulant glance at his writing he laid down his pen and sank back in his chair to listen. ” Well, what is it, my child ? “
The girl took a chair near the window and gazed out upon the snow-stricken campus, where at the moment a group of students returning from a class room were festively hurling snow-balls. ” I’ve got something important to tell you, father,” said she,
but i don’t quite know how to say it.”
“Something important ? ” repeated the professor. He was not habitually interested in the affairs of his family, but this proclamation that something important could be connected with them, filled his mind with a capricious interest. “Well, what is it, Marjory ? “
She replied calmly: ” Rufus Coleman wants to marry me.”
“What?” demanded the professor loudly. “Rufus Coleman. What do you mean? “
The girl glanced furtively at him. She did not seem to be able to frame a suitable sentence.
As for the professor, he had, like all men both thoughtless and thoughtful, told himself that one day his daughter would come to him with a tale of this kind. He had never forgotten that the little girl was to be a woman, and he had never forgotten that this tall, lithe creature, the present Marjory, was a woman. He had been entranced and confident or entranced and apprehensive according’ to the time. A man focussed upon astronomy, the pig market or social progression, may nevertheless have a secondary mind which hovers like a spirit over his dahlia tubers and dreams upon the mystery of their slow and tender revelations. The professor’s secondary mind had dwelt always with his daughter and watched with a faith and delight the changing to a woman of a certain fat and mumbling babe. However, he now saw this machine, this self- sustaining, self-operative love, which had run with the ease of a clock, suddenly crumble to ashes and leave the mind of a great scholar staring at a calamity. ” Rufus Coleman,” he repeated, stunned. Here was his daughter, very obviously desirous of marrying Rufus Coleman. ” Marjory,” he cried in amazement and fear, “what possesses, you? Marry Rufus Colman?”
The girl seemed to feel a strong sense of relief at his prompt recognition of a fact. Being freed from the necessity of making a flat declaration, she simply hung her head and blushed impressively. A hush fell upon them. The professor stared long at his daugh. ter. The shadow of unhappiness deepened upon his face. ” Marjory, Marjory,” he murmured at last. He had tramped heroically upon his panic and devoted his strength to bringing thought into some kind of attitude toward this terrible fact. ” I am-I am surprised,” he began. Fixing her then with a stern eye, he asked: “Why do you wish to marry this man? You, with your opportunities of meeting persons of intelligence. And you want to marry-” His voice grew tragic. “You want to marry the Sunday editor of the New York Eclipse.”
” It is not so very terrible, is it?” said Marjory sullenly.
“Wait a moment; don’t talk,” cried the professor. He arose and walked nervously to and fro, his hands flying in the air. He was very red behind the ears as when in the Classroom some student offended him. ” A gambler, a sporter of fine clothes, an expert on champagne, a polite loafer, a witness knave who edits the Sunday edition of a great outrage upon our sensibilities. You want to marry him, this man? Marjory, you are insane. This fraud who asserts that his work is intelligent, this fool comes here to my house and-“
He became aware that his daughter was regarding him coldly. “I thought we had best have all this part of it over at once,” she remarked.
He confronted her in a new kind of surprise. The little keen- eyed professor was at this time imperial, on the verge of a majestic outburst. ” Be still,” he said. “Don’t be clever with your father. Don’t be a dodger. Or, if you are, don’t speak of it to me. I suppose this fine young man expects to see me personally ? “
” He was coming to-morrow,” replied Marjory. She began to weep. ” He was coming to-morrow.”
” Um,” said the professor. He continued his pacing while Marjory wept with her head bowed to the arm of the chair. His brow made the three dark vertical crevices well known to his students. Some. times he glowered murderously at the photographs of ancient temples which adorned the walls. “My poor child,” he said once, as he paused near her, ” to think I never knew you were a fool. I have been deluding myself. It has been my fault as much as it has been yours. I will not readily forgive myself.”
The girl raised her face and looked at him. Finally, resolved to disregard the dishevelment wrought by tears, she presented a desperate front with her wet eyes and flushed cheeks. Her hair was disarrayed. “I don’t see why you can call me a fool,” she said. The pause before this sentence had been so portentous of a wild and rebellious speech that the professor almost laughed now. But still the father for the first time knew that he was being un-dauntedly faced by his child in his own library, in the presence Of 372 pages of the book that was to be his masterpiece. At the back of his mind he felt a great awe as if his own youthful spirit had come from the past and challenged him with a glance. For a moment he was almost a defeated man. He dropped into a chair. ” Does your mother know of this ” ” he asked mournfully.
“Yes,” replied the girl. “She knows. She has been trying to make me give up Rufus.”
“Rufus,” cried the professor rejuvenated by anger.
“Well, his name is Rufus,” said the girl.
“But please don’t call him so before me,” said the father with icy dignity. ” I do not recognise him as being named Rufus. That is a contention of yours which does not arouse my interest. I know him very well as a gambler and a drunkard, and if incidentally, he is named Rufus, I fail to see any importance to it.”
” He is not a gambler and he is not a drunkard,” she said.
” Um. He drinks heavily-that is well known. He gambles. He plays cards for money–more than he
possesses-at least he did when he was in college.”
” You said you liked him when he was in college.”
” So I did. So I did,” answered the professor sharply. ” I often find myself liking that kind of a boy in college. Don’t I know them-those lads with their beer and their poker games in the dead of the night with a towel hung over the keyhole. Their habits are often vicious enough, but something remains in them through it all and they may go away and do great things. This happens. We know it. It happens with confusing insistence. It destroys theo- ries. There-there isn’t much to say about it. And sometimes we like this kind of a boy better than we do the-the others. For my part I know of many a pure, pious and fine- minded student that I have positively loathed from a personal point-of-view. But,” he added, ” this Rufus Coleman, his life in college and his life since, go to prove how often we get off the track. There is no gauge of collegiate conduct whatever, until we can get evidence of the man’s work in the world. Your precious scoundrel’s evidence is now all in and he is a failure, or worse.”
” You are not habitually so fierce in judging people,” said the girl.
“I would be if they all wanted to marry my daughter,” rejoined the professor. ” Rather than let that man make love to you-or even be within a short railway journey of you, I’ll cart you off to Europe this winter and keep you there until you forget. If you persist in this silly fancy, I shall at once become medieval.”
Marjory had evidently recovered much of her composure. “Yes, father, new climates are alway’s supposed to cure one,” she remarked with a kind of lightness.
” It isn’t so much the old expedient,” said the professor musingly, “as it is that I would be afraid to leave you herewith no protection against that drinking gambler and gambling drunkard.”
” Father, I have to ask you not to use such terms in speaking of the man that I shall marry.”
There was a silence. To all intents, the professor remained unmoved. He smote the tips of his fingers thoughtfully together. ” Ye-es,” he observed. “That sounds reasonable from your standpoint.” His eyes studied her face in a long and steady glance. He arose and went into the hall. When he returned he wore his hat and great coat. He took a book and some papers from the table and went away.
Marjory walked slowly through the halls and up to her room. From a window she could see her father making his way across the campus labouriously against the wind and whirling snow. She watched it, this little black figure, bent forward, patient, steadfast. It was an inferior fact that her father was one of the famous scholars of the generation. To her, he was now a little old man facing the wintry winds. Recollect. ing herself and Rufus Coleman she began to weep again, wailing amid the ruins of her tumbled hopes. Her skies had turned to paper and her trees were mere bits of green sponge. But amid all this woe appeared the little black image of her father making its way against the storm.
IN a high-walled corrider of one of the college buildings, a crowd of students waited amid jostlings and a loud buzz of talk. Suddenly a huge pair of doors flew open and a wedge of young men inserted itself boisterously and deeply into the throng. There was a great scuffle attended by a general banging of books upon heads. The two lower classes engaged in herculean play while members of the two higher classes, standing aloof, devoted themselves strictly to the encouragement of whichever party for a moment lost ground or heart. This was in order to prolong the conflict.
The combat, waged in the desperation of proudest youth, waxed hot and hotter. The wedge had been instantly smitten into a kind of block of men. It had crumpled into an irregular square and on three sides it was now assailed with remarkable ferocity.
It was a matter of wall meet wall in terrific rushes, during which lads could feel their very hearts leaving them in the compress of friends and foes. They on the outskirts upheld the honour of their classes by squeezing into paper thickness the lungs of those of their fellows who formed the centre of the melee
In some way it resembled a panic at a theatre.
The first lance-like attack of the Sophomores had been formidable, but the Freshmen outnumbering their enemies and smarting from continual Sophomoric oppression, had swarmed to the front like drilled collegians and given the arrogant foe the first serious check of the year. Therefore the tall Gothic windows which lined one side of the corridor looked down upon as incomprehensible and enjoyable a tumult as could mark the steps of advanced education. The Seniors and juniors cheered themselves ill. Long freed from the joy of such meetings, their only means for this kind of recreation was to involve the lower classes, and they had never seen the victims fall to with such vigour and courage. Bits of printed leaves, torn note-books, dismantled collars and cravats, all floated to the floor beneath the feet of the warring hordes. There were no blows; it was a battle of pressure. It was a deadly pushing where the leaders on either side often suffered the most cruel and sickening agony caught thus between phalanxes of shoulders with friend as well as foe contributing to the pain.
Charge after charge of Freshmen beat upon the now compact and organised Sophomores. Then, finally, the rock began to give slow way. A roar came from the Freshmen and they hurled themselves in a frenzy upon their betters.
To be under the gaze of the juniors and Seniors is to be in sight of all men, and so the Sophomores at this important moment laboured with the desperation of the half- doomed to stem the terrible Freshmen.
In the kind of game, it was the time when bad tempers came strongly to the front, and in many Sophomores’ minds a thought arose of the incomparable insolence of the Freshmen. A blow was struck; an infuriated Sophomore had swung an arm high and smote a Freshman.
Although it had seemed that no greater noise could be made by the given numbers, the din that succeeded this manifestation surpassed everything. The juniors and Seniors immediately set up an angry howl. These veteran classes projected themselves into the middle of the fight, buffeting everybody with small thought as to merit. This method of bringing peace was as militant as a landslide, but they had much trouble before they could separate the central clump of antagonists into its parts. A score of Freshmen had cried out: “It was Coke. Coke punched him. Coke.” A dozen of them were tempestuously endeavouring to register their protest against fisticuffs by means of an introduction of more fisticuffs.
The upper classmen were swift, harsh and hard. “Come, now, Freshies, quit it. Get back, get back, d’y’hear?” With a wrench of muscles they forced themselves in front of Coke, who was being blindly defended by his classmates from intensely earnest attacks by outraged Freshmen.
These meetings between the lower classes at the door of a recitation room were accounted quite comfortable and idle affairs, and a blow delivered openly and in hatred fractured a sharply defined rule of conduct. The corridor was in a hubbub. Many Seniors and Juniors, bursting from old and iron discipline, wildly clamoured that some Freshman should be given the privilege of a single encounter with Coke. The Freshmen themselves were frantic. They besieged the tight and dauntless circle of men that encompassed Coke. None dared confront the Seniors openly, but by headlong rushes at auspicious moments they tried to come to quarters with the rings of dark-browed Sophomores. It was no longer a festival, a game; it was a riot. Coke, wild-eyed, pallid with fury, a ribbon of blood on his chin, swayed in the middle of the mob of his classmates, comrades who waived the ethics of the blow under the circumstance of being obliged as a corps to stand against the scorn of the whole college, as well as against the tremendous assaults of the Freshmen. Shamed by their own man, but knowing full well the right time and the wrong time for a palaver of regret and disavowal, this battalion struggled in the desperation of despair. Once they were upon the verge of making unholy campaign against the interfering Seniors. This fiery impertinence was the measure of their state.
It was a critical moment in the play of the college. Four or five defeats from the Sophomores during the fall had taught the Freshmen much. They had learned the comparative measurements, and they knew now that their prowess was ripe to enable them to amply revenge what was, according to their standards, an execrable deed by a man who had not the virtue to play the rough game, but was obliged to resort to uncommon methods. In short, the Freshmen were almost out of control, and the Sophomores debased but defiant, were quite out of control. The Senior and junior classes which, in American colleges dictate in these affrays, found their dignity toppling, and in consequence there was a sudden oncome of the entire force of upper classmen football players naturally in advance. All distinctions were dissolved at once in a general fracas. The stiff and still Gothic windows surveyed a scene of dire carnage.
Suddenly a voice rang brazenly through the tumult. It was not loud, but it was different. ” Gentlemen! Gentlemen!'” Instantly there was a remarkable number of haltings, abrupt replacements, quick changes. Prof. Wainwright stood at the door of his recitation room, looking into the eyes of each member of the mob of three hundred. “Ssh! ” said the mob. ” Ssh! Quit! Stop! It’s the Embassador! Stop!” He had once been minister to Austro-Hungary, and forever now to the students of the college his name was Embassador. He stepped into the corridor, and they cleared for him a little respectful zone of floor. He looked about him coldly. ” It seems quite a general dishevelment. The Sophomores display an energy in the halls which I do not detect in the class room.” A feeble murmur of appreciation arose from the outskirts of the throng. While he had been speaking several remote groups of battling men had been violently signaled and suppressed by other students. The professor gazed into terraces of faces that were still inflamed. ” I needn’t say that I am surprised,” he remarked in the accepted rhetoric of his kind. He added musingly: ” There seems to be a great deal of torn linen. Who is the young gentleman with blood on his chin?”
The throng moved restlessly. A manful silence, such as might be in the tombs of stern and honourable knights, fell upon the shadowed corridor. The subdued rustling had fainted to nothing. Then out of the crowd Coke, pale and desperate, delivered himself.
” Oh, Mr. Coke,” said the professor, “I would be glad if you would tell the gentlemen they may retire to their dormitories.” He waited while the students passed out to the campus.
The professor returned to his room for some books, and then began his own march across the snowy campus. The wind twisted his coat-tails fantastically, and he was obliged to keep one hand firmly on the top of his hat. When he arrived home he met his wife in the hall. ” Look here, Mary,” he cried. She followed him into the library. ” Look here,” he said. “What is this all about? Marjory tells me she wants to marry Rufus Coleman.”
Mrs. Wainwright was a fat woman who was said to pride herself upon being very wise and if necessary, sly. In addition she laughed continually in an inexplicably personal way, which apparently made everybody who heard her feel offended. Mrs. Wainwright laughed.
“Well,” said the professor, bristling, ” what do you mean by that ? “
“Oh, Harris,” she replied. ” Oh, Harris.”
The professor straightened in his chair. ” I do not see any illumination in those remarks, Mary. I understand from Marjory’s manner that she is bent upon marrying Rufus Coleman. She said you knew of it.”
” Why, of course I knew. It was as plain—“
” Plain !” scoffed the professor. ” Plain !”
Why, of course,” she cried. “I knew it all along.”
There was nothing in her tone which proved that she admired the event itself. She was evidently carried away by the triumph of her penetration. ” I knew it all along,” she added, nodding.
The professor looked at her affectionately. “You knew it all along, then, Mary? Why didn’t you tell me, dear ? “
” Because you ought to have known it,” she answered blatantly.
The professor was glaring. Finally he spoke in tones of grim reproach. “Mary, whenever you happen to know anything, dear, it seems only a matter of partial recompense that you should tell me.”
The wife had been taught in a terrible school that she should never invent any inexpensive retorts concerning bookworms and so she yawed at once. “Really, Harris. Really, I didn’t suppose the affair was serious. You could have knocked me down with a feather. Of course he has been here very often, but then Marjory gets a great deal of attention. A great deal of attention.”
The professor had been thinking. ” Rather than let my girl marry that scalawag, I’ll take you and her to Greece this winter with the class. Separation. It is a sure cure that has the sanction of antiquity.”
“Well,” said Mrs. Wainwright, “you know best, Harris. You know best.” It was a common remark with her, and it probably meant either approbation or disapprobation if it did not mean simple discretion.
THERE had been a babe with no arms born in one of the western counties of Massachusetts. In place of upper limbs the child had growing from its chest a pair of fin-like hands, mere bits of skin-covered bone. Furthermore, it had only one eye. This phenomenon lived four days, but the news of the birth had travelled up this country road and through that village until it reached the ears of the editor of the Michaelstown Tribune. He was also a correspondent of the New York Eclipse. On the third day he appeared at the home of the parents accompanied by a photographer. While the latter arranged his, instrument, the correspondent talked to the father and mother, two coweyed and yellow-faced people who seemed to suffer a primitive fright of the strangers. Afterwards as the correspondent and the photographer were climbing into their buggy, the mother crept furtively down to the gate and asked, in a foreigner’s dialect, if they would send her a copy of the photograph. The correspondent carelessly indulgent, promised it. As the buggy swung away, the father came from behind an apple tree, and the two semi-humans watched it with its burden of glorious strangers until it rumbled across the bridge and disappeared. The correspondent was elate; he told the photographer that the Eclipse would probably pay fifty dollars for the article and the photograph.
The office of the New York Eclipse was at the top of the immense building on Broadway. It was a sheer mountain to the heights of which the interminable thunder of the streets arose faintly. The Hudson was a broad path of silver in the distance. Its edge was marked by the tracery of sailing ships’ rigging and by the huge and many-coloured stacks of ocean liners. At the foot of the cliff lay City Hall Park. It seemed no larger than a quilt. The grey walks patterned the snow-covering into triangles and ovals and upon them many tiny people scurried here and there, without sound, like a fish at the bottom of a pool. It was only the vehicles that sent high, unmistakable, the deep bass of their movement. And yet after listening one seemed to hear a singular murmurous note, a pulsation, as if the crowd made noise by its mere living, a mellow hum of the eternal strife. Then suddenly out of the deeps might ring a human voice, a newsboy shout perhaps, the cry of a faraway jackal at night.
From the level of the ordinary roofs, combined in many plateaus, dotted with short iron chimneys from which curled wisps of steam, arose other mountains like the Eclipse Building. They were great peaks, ornate, glittering with paint or polish. Northward they subsided to sun-crowned ranges.
From some of the windows of the Eclipse office dropped the walls of a terrible chasm in the darkness of which could be seen vague struggling figures. Looking down into this appalling crevice one discovered only the tops of hats and knees which in spasmodic jerks seemed to touch the rims of the hats. The scene represented some weird fight or dance or carouse. It was not an exhibition of men hurrying along a narrow street.
It was good to turn one’s eyes from that place to the vista of the city’s splendid reaches, with spire and spar shining in the clear atmosphere and the marvel of the Jersey shore, pearl- misted or brilliant with detail. From this height the sweep of a snow-storm was defined and majestic. Even a slight summer shower, with swords of lurid yellow sunlight piercing its edges as if warriors were contesting every foot of its advance, was from the Eclipse office something so
inspiring that the chance pilgrim felt a sense of exultation as if from this peak he was surveying the worldwide war of the elements and life. The staff of the Eclipse usually worked without coats and amid the smoke from pipes.
To one of the editorial chambers came a photograph and an article from Michaelstown, Massachusetts. A boy placed the packet and many others upon the desk of a young man who was standing before a window and
thoughtfully drumming upon the pane. He turned at the thudding of the packets upon his desk. ” Blast you,” he remarked amiably. ” Oh, I guess it won’t hurt you to work,” answered the boy, grinning with a comrade’s Insolence. Baker, an assistant editor for the Sunday paper, took scat at his desk and began the task of examining the packets. His face could not display any particular interest because he had been at the same work for nearly a fortnight.
The first long envelope he opened was from a woman. There was a neat little manuscript accompanied by a letter which explained that the writer was a widow who was trying to make her living by her pen and who, further, hoped that the generosity of the editor of the Eclipse would lead him to give her article the opportunity which she was sure it deserved. She hoped that the editor would pay her as well as possible for it, as she needed the money greatly. She added that her brother was a reporter on the Little Rock Sentinel and he had declared that her literary style was excellent.
Baker really did not read this note. His vast experience of a fortnight had enabled him to detect its kind in two glances. He unfolded the manuscript, looked at it woodenly and then tossed it with the letter to the top of his desk, where it lay with the other corpses. None could think of widows in Arkansas, ambitious from the praise of the reporter on the Little Rock Sentinel, waiting for a crown of literary glory and money. In the next envelope a man using the note-paper of a Boston journal begged to know if the accompanying article would be acceptable; if not it was to be kindly returned in the enclosed stamped envelope. It was a humourous essay on trolley cars. Adventuring through the odd scraps that were come to the great mill, Baker paused occasionally to relight his pipe.
As he went through envelope after envelope, the desks about him gradually were occupied by young men who entered from the hall with their faces still red from the cold of the streets. For the most part they bore the unmistakable stamp of the American college. They had that confident poise which is easily brought from the athletic field. Moreover, their clothes were quite in the way of being of the newest fashion. There was an air of precision about their cravats and linen. But on the other hand there might be with them some indifferent westerner who was obliged to resort to irregular means and harangue startled shop-keepers in order to provide himself with collars of a strange kind. He was usually very quick and brave of eye and noted for his inability to perceive a distinction between his own habit and the habit of others, his western character preserving itself inviolate amid a confusion of manners.
The men, coming one and one, or two and two, flung badinage to all corners of the room. Afterward, as they wheeled from time to time in their chairs, they bitterly insulted each other with the utmost good-nature, taking unerring aim at faults and riddling personalities with the quaint and cynical humour of a newspaper office. Throughout this banter, it was strange to note how infrequently the men smiled, particularly when directly engaged in an encounter.
A wide door opened into another apartment where were many little slanted tables, each under an electric globe with a green shade. Here a curly-headed scoundrel with a corncob pipe was hurling paper balls the size of apples at the head of an industrious man who, under these difficulties, was trying to draw a picture of an awful wreck with ghastly-faced sailors frozen in the rigging. Near this pair a lady was challenging a German artist who resembled Napoleon III. with having been publicly drunk at a music hall on the previous night. Next to the great gloomy corridor of this sixteenth floor was a little office presided over by an austere boy, and here waited in enforced patience a little dismal band of people who wanted to see the Sunday editor.
Baker took a manuscript and after glancing about the room, walked over to a man at another desk,
Here is something that. I think might do,” he said. The man at the desk read the first two pages. ” But where is the photogragh ” ” he asked then. “There should be a photograph with this thing.”
” Oh, I forgot,” said Baker. He brought from his desk a photograph of the babe that had been born lacking arms and one eye. Baker’s superior braced a knee against his desk and settled back to a judicial attitude. He took the photograph and looked at it impassively. ” Yes,” he said, after a time, ” that’s a pretty good thing. You better show that to Coleman when he comes in.”
In the little office where the dismal band waited, there had been a sharp hopeful stir when Rufus Coleman, the Sunday editor, passed rapidly from door to door and vanished within the holy precincts. It had evidently been in the minds of some to accost him then, but his eyes did not turn once in their direction. It was as if he had not seen them. Many experiences had taught him that the proper manner of passing through this office was at a blind gallop.
The dismal band turned then upon the austere office boy. Some demanded with terrible dignity that he should take in their cards at once. Others sought to ingratiate themselves by smiles of tender friendliness. He for his part employed what we would have called his knowledge of men and women upon the group, and in consequence blundered and bungled vividly, freezing with a glance an annoyed and importunate Arctic explorer who was come to talk of illustrations for an article that had been lavishly paid for in advance. The hero might have thought he was again in the northern seas. At the next moment the boy was treating almost courteously a German from the cast side who wanted the Eclipse to print a grand full page advertising description of his invention, a gun which was supposed to have a range of forty miles and to be able to penetrate anything with equanimity and joy. The gun, as a matter of fact, had once been induced to go off when it had hurled itself passionately upon its back, incidentally breaking its inventor’s leg. The projectile had wandered some four hundred yards seaward, where it dug a hole in the water which was really a menace to navigation. Since then there had been nothing tangible save the inventor, in splints and out of splints, as the fortunes of science decreed. In short, this office boy mixed his business in the perfect manner of an underdone lad dealing with matters too large for him, and throughout he displayed the pride and assurance of a god.
As Coleman crossed the large office his face still wore the stern expression which he invariably used to carry him unmolested through the ranks of the dismal band. As he was removing his London overcoat he addressed the imperturbable back of one of his staff, who had a desk against the opposite wall. ” Has Hasskins sent in that drawing of the mine accident yet? ” The man did not lift his head from his work-, but he answered at once: ” No; not yet.” Coleman was laying his hat on a chair. ” Well, why hasn’t he ? ” he demanded. He glanced toward the door of the room in which the curly-headed scoundrel with the corncob pipe was still hurling paper balls at the man who was trying to invent the postures of dead mariners frozen in the rigging. The office boy came timidly from his post and informed Coleman of the waiting people. ” All right,” said the editor. He dropped into his chair and began to finger his letters, which had been neatly opened and placed in a little stack by a boy. Baker came in with the photograph of the miserable babe.
It was publicly believed that the Sunday staff of the Eclipse must have a kind of aesthetic delight in pictures of this kind, but Coleman’s face betrayed no emotion as he looked at this specimen. He lit a fresh cigar, tilted his chair and surveyed it with a cold and stony stare. ” Yes, that’s all right,” he said slowly. There seemed to be no affectionate relation between him and this picture. Evidently he was weighing its value as a morsel to be flung to a ravenous public, whose wolf-like appetite, could only satisfy itself upon mental entrails, abominations. As for himself, he seemed to be remote, exterior. It was a matter of the Eclipse business.
Suddenly Coleman became executive. ” Better give it to Schooner and tell him to make a half-page—or, no, send him in here and I’ll tell him my idea. How’s the article? Any good? Well, give it to Smith to rewrite.”
An artist came from the other room and presented for inspection his drawing of the seamen dead in the rigging of the wreck, a company of grizzly and horrible figures, bony-fingered, shrunken and with awful eyes. ” Hum,” said Coleman, after a prolonged study, ” that’s all right. That’s good, Jimmie. But you’d better work ’em up around the eyes a little more.” The office boy was deploying in the distance, waiting for the correct moment to present some cards and names.
The artist was cheerfully taking away his corpses when Coleman hailed him. ” Oh, Jim, let me see that thing again, will you? Now, how about this spar? This don’t look right to me.”
” It looks right to me,” replied the artist, sulkily.
” But, see. It’s going to take up half a page. Can’t you change it somehow “
How am I going to change it?” said the other, glowering at Coleman. ” That’s the way it ought to be. How am I going to change it? That’s the way it ought to be.”
” No, it isn’t at all,” said Coleman. “You’ve got a spar sticking out of the main body of the drawing in a way that will spoil the look of the whole page.”
The artist was a man of remarkable popular reputation and he was very stubborn and conceited of it, constantly making himself unbearable with covert, threats that if he was not delicately placated at all points, he would freight his genius over to the office of the great opposition journal.
” That’s the way it ought to be,” he repeated, in a tone at once sullen and superior. “The spar is all right. I can’t rig spars on ships just to suit you.”
” And I can’t give up the whole paper to your accursed spars, either,” said Coleman, with animation. ” Don’t you see you use about a third of a page with this spar sticking off into space? Now, you were always so clever, Jimmie, in adapting yourself to the page. Can’t you shorten it, or cut it off, or something? Or, break it-that’s the thing. Make it a broken spar dangling down. See? “
” Yes, I s’pose I could do that,” said the artist, mollified by a thought of the ease with which he could make the change, and mollified, too, by the brazen tribute to a part of his cleverness.
” Well, do it, then,” said the Sunday editor, turning abruptly away. The artist, with head high, walked majestically back to the other room. Whereat the curly-headed one immediately resumed the rain of paper balls upon him. The office boy came timidly to Coleman and suggested the presence of the people in the outer office. ” Let them wait until I read my mail,” said Coleman. He shuffled the pack of letters indifferently through his hands. Suddenly he came upon a little grey envelope. He opened it at once and scanned its contents with the speed of his craft. Afterward he laid it down before him on the desk and surveyed it with a cool and musing smile. “So?” he remarked. ” That’s the case, is it?”
He presently swung around in his chair, and for a time held the entire attention of the men at the various desks. He outlined to them again their various parts in the composition of the next great Sunday edition. In a few brisk sentences he set a complex machine in proper motion. His men no longer thrilled with admiration at the precision with which he grasped each obligation of the campaign toward a successful edition. They had grown to accept it as they accepted his hat or his London clothes. At this time his face was lit with something of the self-contained enthusiasm of a general. Immediately afterward he arose and reached for his coat and hat.
The office boy, coming circuitously forward, presented him with some cards and also with a scrap of paper upon which was scrawled a long and semicoherent word. ” What are these ? ” grumbled Coleman.
“They are waiting outside,” answered the boy, with trepidation. It was part of the law that the lion of the ante-room should cringe like a cold monkey,
more or less, as soon as he was out of his private jungle. “Oh, Tallerman,” cried the Sunday editor, “here’s this Arctic man come to arrange about his illustration. I wish you’d go and talk it over with him.” By chance he picked up the scrap of paper with its cryptic word. ” Oh,” he said, scowling at the office boy. “Pity you can’t remember that fellow. If you can’t remember faces any better than that you should be a detective. Get out now and tell him to go to the devil.” The wilted slave turned at once, but Coleman hailed him. ” Hold on. Come to think of it, I will see this idiot. Send him in,” he commanded, grimly.
Coleman lapsed into a dream over the sheet of grey note paper. Presently, a middle-aged man, a palpable German, came hesitatingly into the room and bunted among the desks as unmanageably as a tempest-tossed scow. Finally he was impatiently towed in the right direction. He came and stood at Coleman’s elbow and waited nervously for the engrossed man to raise his eyes. It was plain that this interview meant important things to him. Somehow on his commonplace countenance was to be found the expression of a dreamer, a fashioner of great and absurd projects, a fine, tender fool. He cast hopeful and reverent glances at the man who was deeply contemplative of the grey note. He evidently believed himself on the threshold of a triumph of some kind, and he awaited his fruition with a joy that was only made sharper by the usual human suspicion of coming events.
Coleman glanced up at last and saw his visitor.
” Oh, it’s you, is it ? ” he remarked icily, bending upon the German the stare of a tyrant. “So you’ve come again, have you? ” He wheeled in his chair until he could fully display a contemptuous, merciless smile. “Now, Mr. What’s-your-name, you’ve called here to see me about twenty times already and at last I am going to say something definite about your invention.” His listener’s face, which had worn for a moment a look of fright and bewilderment, gladdened swiftly to a gratitude that seemed the edge of an outburst of tears. ” Yes,” continued Coleman, ” I am going to say something definite. I am going to say that it is the most imbecile bit of nonsense that has come within the range of my large newspaper experience. It is simply the aberration of a rather remarkable lunatic. It is no good; it is not worth the price of a cheese sandwich. I understand that its one feat has been to break your leg; if it ever goes off again, persuade it to break your neck. And now I want you to take this nursery rhyme of yours and get out. And don’t ever come here again. Do You understand ? You understand, do you ?” He arose and bowed in courteous dismissal.
The German was regarding him with the surprise and horror of a youth shot mortally. He could not find his tongue for a moment. Ultimately he gasped : “But, Mister Editor “–Coleman interrupted him tigerishly. ” You heard what I said? Get out.” The man bowed his head and went slowly toward the door.
Coleman placed the little grey note in his breast pocket. He took his hat and top coat, and evading the dismal band by a shameless manoeuvre, passed through the halls to the entrance to the elevator shaft. He heard a movement behind him and saw that the German was also waiting for the elevator. Standing in the gloom of the corridor, Coleman felt the mournful owlish eyes of the German resting upon him. He took a case from his pocket and elaborately lit a cigarette. Suddenly there was a flash of light and a cage of bronze, gilt and steel dropped, magically from above. Coleman yelled: ” Down!” A door flew open. Coleman, followed by the German, stepped upon the elevator. ” Well, Johnnie,” he said cheerfully to the lad who operated this machine, “is business good?” “Yes, sir, pretty good,” answered the boy, grinning. The little cage sank swiftly; floor after floor seemed to be rising with marvellous speed; the whole building was winging straight into the sky. There were soaring lights, figures and the opalescent glow of ground glass doors marked with black inscriptions. Other lifts were springing heavenward. All the lofty corridors rang with cries. ” Up! ” Down! ” ” Down! ” ” Up! ” The boy’s hand grasped a lever and his machine obeyed his lightest movement with sometimes an unbalancing swiftness.
Coleman discoursed briskly to the youthful attendant. Once he turned and regarded with a quick stare of insolent annoyance the despairing countenance of the German whose eyes had never left him. When the elevator arrived at the ground floor, Coleman departed with the outraged air of a man who for a time had been compelled to occupy a cell in company with a harmless spectre.
He walked quickly away. Opposite a corner of the City Hall he was impelled to look behind him. Through the hordes of people with cable cars marching like panoplied elephants, he was able to distinguish the German, motionless and gazing after him. Coleman laughed. ” That’s a comic old boy,” he said, to himself.
In the grill-room of a Broadway hotel he was obliged to wait some minutes for the fulfillment of his orders and he spent the time in reading and studying the little grey note. When his luncheon was served he ate with an expression of morose dignity.
MARJORY paused again at her father’s door. After hesitating in the original way she entered the library. Her father almost represented an emblematic figure, seated upon a column of books. ” Well,” he cried. Then, seeing it was Marjory, he changed his tone. ” Ah, under the circumstances, my dear, I admit your privilege of interrupting me at any hour of the day. You have important business with me.” His manner was satanically indulgent.
The girl fingered a book. She turned the leaves in absolute semblance of a person reading. “Rufus Coleman called.”
“Indeed,” said the professor.
“And I’ve come to you, father, before seeing him.”
The professor was silent for a time. ” Well, Marjory,” he said at last, “what do you want me to say?” He spoke very deliberately. ” I am sure this is a singular situation. Here appears the man I formally forbid you to marry. I am sure I do not know what I am to say.”
” I wish to see him,” said the girl.
“You wish to see him?” enquired the professor. “You wish to see him ” Marjory, I may as well tell you now that with all the books and plays I’ve read, I really don’t know how the obdurate father should conduct himself. He is always pictured as an exceedingly dense gentleman with white whiskers, who does all the unintelligent things in the plot. You and I are going to play no drama, are we, Marjory? I admit that I have white whiskers, and I am an obdurate father. I am, as you well may say, a very obdurate father. You are not to marry Rufus Coleman. You understand the rest of the matter. He is here ; you want to see him. What will you say to him when you see him? “
” I will say that you refuse to let me marry him, father and-” She hesitated a moment before she lifted her eyes fully and formidably to her father’s face. ” And that I shall marry him anyhow.”
The professor did not cavort when this statement came from his daughter. He nodded and then passed into a period of reflection. Finally he asked: “But when? That is the point. When?”
The girl made a sad gesture. “I don’t know. I don’t know. Perhaps when you come to know Rufus better-“
” Know him better. Know that rapscallion better? Why, I know him much better than he knows himself. I know him too well. Do you think I am talking offhand about this affair? Do you think I am talking without proper information?”
Marjory made no reply.
“Well,” said the professor, “you may see Coleman on condition that you inform him at once that I forbid your marriage to him. I don’t understand at all how to manage these situations. I don’t know what to do. I suppose I should go myself and-No, you can’t see him, Majory.”
Still the girl made no reply. Her head sank forward and she breathed a trifle heavily.
“Marjory,” cried the professor, it is impossible that you should think so much of this man.” He arose and went to his daughter. ” Marjory, many wise children have been guided by foolish fathers, but we both suspect that no foolish child has ever been guided by a wise father. Let us change it. I present myself to you as a wise father. Follow my wishes in this affair and you will be at least happier than if you marry this wretched Coleman.”
She answered: ” He is waiting for me.”
The professor turned abruptly from her and dropped into his chair at the table. He resumed a grip on his pen. ” Go,” he said, wearily. ” Go. But if you have a remnant of sense, remember what I have said to you. Go.” He waved his hand in a dismissal that was slightly scornful. ” I hoped you would have a minor conception of what you were doing. It seems a pity.” Drooping in tears, the girl slowly left the room.
Coleman had an idea that he had occupied the chair for several months. He gazed about at the pictures and the odds and ends of a drawing-room in an attempt to take an interest in them. The great garlanded paper shade over the piano lamp consoled his impatience in a mild degree because he knew that Marjory had made it. He noted the clusters of cloth violets which she had pinned upon the yellow paper and he dreamed over the fact. He was able to endow this shade with certain qualities of sentiment that caused his stare to become almost a part of an intimacy, a communion. He looked as if he could have unburdened his soul to this shade over the piano lamp.
Upon the appearance of Marjory he sprang up and came forward rapidly. ” Dearest,” he murmured, stretching out both hands. She gave him one set of fingers with chilling convention. She said something which he understood to be ” Good-afternoon.” He started as if the woman before him had suddenly drawn a knife. ” Marjory,” he cried, “what is the matter?.” They walked together toward a window. The girl looked at him in polite enquiry. ” Why? ” she said. ” Do I seem strange ? ” There was a moment’s silence while he gazed into her eyes, eyes full of innocence and tranquillity. At last she tapped her foot upon the floor in expression of mild impatience. ” People do not like to be asked what is the matter when there is nothing the matter. What do you mean ? “
Coleman’s face had gradually hardened. ” Well, what is wrong? ” he demanded, abruptly. “What has happened? What is it, Marjory ? “
She raised her glance in a perfect reality of wonder. “What is wrong? What has happened? How absurd! Why nothing, of course.” She gazed out of the window. ” Look,” she added, brightly, the students are rolling somebody in a drift. Oh, the poor Man ! “
Coleman, now wearing a bewildered air, made some pretense of being occupied with the scene. ” Yes,” he said, ironically. “Very interesting, indeed.”
” Oh,” said Marjory, suddenly, ” I forgot to tell you. Father is going to take mother and me to Greece this winter with him and the class.”
Coleman replied at once. ” Ah, indeed ? That will be jolly.”
“Yes. Won’t it be charming?”
” I don’t doubt it,” he replied. His composure May have displeased her, for she glanced at him furtively and in a way that denoted surprise, perhaps.
“Oh, of course,” she said, in a glad voice. ” It will be more fun. We expect to nave a fine time. There is such a n ice lot of boys going Sometimes father
chooses these dreadfully studious ones. But this time he acts as if he knew precisely how to make up a party.”
He reached for her hand and grasped it vise-like. “Marjory,” he breathed, passionately, ” don’t treat me so. Don’t treat me-“
She wrenched her hand from him in regal indignation. ” One or two rings make it uncomfortable for the hand that is grasped by an angry gentleman.” She held her fingers and gazed as if she expected to find them mere debris. ” I am sorry that you are not interested in the students rolling that man in the snow. It is the greatest scene our quiet life can afford.”
He was regarding her as a judge faces a lying culprit. ” I know,” he said, after a pause. ” Somebody has been telling you some stories. You have been hearing something about me.”
” Some stories ? ” she enquired. ” Some stories about you? What do you mean? Do you mean that I remember stories I may happen to hear about people? “
There was another pause and then Coleman’s face flared red. He beat his hand violently upon a table. ” Good God, Marjory! Don’t make a fool of me. Don’t make this kind of a fool of me, at any rate. Tell me what you mean. Explain-“
She laughed at him. ” Explain? Really, your vocabulary is getting extensive, but it is dreadfully awkward to ask people to explain when there is nothing to explain.”
He glanced at her, ” I know as well as you do that your father is taking you to Greece in order to get rid of me.”
” And do people have to go to Greece in order to get rid of you? ” she asked, civilly. ” I think you are getting excited.”
” Marjory,” he began, stormily.
She raised her hand. ” Hush,” she said, “there is somebody coming.” A bell had rung. A maid entered the room. ” Mr. Coke,” she said. Marjory nodded. In the interval of waiting, Coleman gave the girl a glance that mingled despair with rage and pride. Then Coke burst with half-tamed rapture into the room. ” Oh, Miss Wainwright,” he almost shouted, ” I can’t tell you how glad I am. I just heard to-day you were going. Imagine it. It will be more–oh, how are you Coleman, how are you ” “
Marjory welcomed the new-comer with a cordiality that might not have thrilled Coleman with pleasure. They took chairs that formed a triangle and one side of it vibrated with talk. Coke and Marjory engaged in a tumultuous conversation concerning the prospective trip to Greece. The Sunday editor, as remote as if the apex of his angle was the top of a hill, could only study the girl’s clear profile. The youthful voices of the two others rang like bells. He did not scowl at Coke; he merely looked at him as if be gently disdained his mental calibre. In fact all the talk seemed to tire him; it was childish; as for him, he apparently found this babble almost insupportable.
” And, just think of the camel rides we’ll have,” cried Coke.
” Camel rides,” repeated Coleman, dejectedly. ” My dear Coke.”
Finally he arose like an old man climbing from a sick bed. “Well, I am afraid I must go, Miss Wainwright.” Then he said affectionately to Coke: ” Good-bye, old boy. I hope you will have a good time.”
Marjory walked with him to the door. He shook her hand in a friendly fashion. ” Good-bye, Marjory,’ he said. ” Perhaps it may happen that I shan’t see you again before you start for Greece and so I had best bid you God-speed—or whatever the term is now. You will have a charming time; Greece must be a delightful place. Really, I envy you, Marjory. And now my dear child “-his voice grew brotherly, filled with the patronage of generous fraternal love, ” although I may never see you again let me wish you fifty as happy years as this last one has been for me.” He smiled frankly into her eyes; then dropping her hand, he went away.
Coke renewed his tempest of talk as Marjory turned toward him. But after a series of splendid eruptions, whose red fire illumined all of ancient and modem Greece, he too went away.
The professor was in his. library apparently absorbed in a book when a tottering pale-faced woman appeared to him and, in her course toward a couch in a corner of the room, described almost a semi-circle. She flung herself face downward. A thick strand of hair swept over her shoulder. ” Oh, my heart is broken! My heart is broken! “
The professor arose, grizzled and thrice-old with pain. He went to the couch, but he found himself a handless, fetless man. ” My poor child,” he said. ” My poor child.” He remained listening stupidly to her convulsive sobbing. A ghastly kind of solemnity came upon the room.
Suddenly the girl lifted herself and swept the strand of hair away from her face. She looked at the professor with the wide- open dilated eyes of one who still sleeps. ” Father,” she said in a hollow voice, ” he don’t love me. He don’t love me. He don’t love me. at all. You were right, father.” She began to laugh.
“Marjory,” said the professor, trembling. “Be quiet, child. Be quiet.”
” But,” she said, ” I thought he loved me–I was sure of it. But it don’t-don’t matter. I–I can’t get over it. Women-women, the- but it don’t matter.”
” Marjory,” said the professor. ” Marjory, my poor daughter.”
She did not heed his appeal, but continued in a dull whisper. ” He was playing with me. He was–was-was flirting with me. He didn’t care when I told him–I told him– I was going-going away.” She turned her face wildly to the cushions again. Her young shoulders shook as if they might break. ” Wo-men-women-they always—-“
By a strange mishap of management the train which bore Coleman back toward New York was fetched into an obscure side-track of some lonely region and there compelled to bide a change of fate. The engine wheezed and sneezed like a paused fat man. The lamps in the cars pervaded a stuffy odor of smoke and oil. Coleman examined his case and found only one cigar. Important brakemen proceeded rapidly along the aisles, and when they swung open the doors, a polar wind circled the legs of the passengers. ” Well, now, what is all this for? ” demanded Coleman, furiously. ” I want to get back to New York.”
The conductor replied with sarcasm, ” Maybe you think I’m stuck on it ” I ain’t running the road. I’m running this train, and I run it according to orders.” Amid the dismal comforts of the waiting cars, Coleman felt all the profound misery of the rebuffed true lover. He had been sentenced, he thought, to a penal servitude of the heart, as he watched the dusky, vague ribbons of smoke come from the lamps and felt to his knees the cold winds from the brakemen’s busy flights. When the train started with a whistle and a jolt, he was elate as if in his abjection his beloved’s hand had reached to him from the clouds.
When he had arrived in New York, a cab rattled him to an uptown hotel with speed. In the restaurant he first ordered a large bottle of champagne. The last of the wine he finished in sombre mood like an unbroken and defiant man who chews the straw that litters his prison house. During his dinner he was continually sending out messenger boys. He was arranging a poker party. Through a window he watched the beautiful moving life of upper Broadway at night, with its crowds and clanging cable cars and its electric signs, mammoth and glittering, like the jewels of a giantess.
Word was brought to him that the poker players were arriving. He arose joyfully, leaving his cheese. In the broad hall, occupied mainly by miscellaneous people and actors, all deep in leather chairs, he found some of his friends waiting. They trooped up stairs to Coleman’s rooms, where as a preliminary, Coleman began to hurl books and papers from the table to the floor. A boy came with drinks. Most of the men, in order to prepare for the game, removed their coats and cuffs and drew up the sleeves of their shirts. The electric globes shed a blinding light upon the table. The sound of clinking chips arose; the elected banker spun the cards, careless and dexterous.
Later, during a pause of dealing, Coleman said: ” Billie, what kind of a lad is that young Coke up at Washurst?” He addressed an old college friend.
” Oh, you mean the Sophomore Coke? ” asked the friend. ” Seems a decent sort of a fellow. I don’t know. Why? “
“Well, who is he? Where does he come from? What do you know about him? “
” He’s one of those Ohio Cokes-regular thing– father millionaire-used to be a barber-good old boy -why? “
” Nothin’,” said Coleman, looking at his cards. ” I know the lad. I thought he was a good deal of an ass. I wondered who his people were.”
” Oh, his people are all right-in one way. Father owns rolling mills. Do you raise it, Henry? Well, in order to make vice abhorrent to the young, I’m obliged to raise back.”
” I’ll see it,” observed Coleman, slowly pushing forward two blue chips. Afterward he reached behind him and took another glass of wine.
To the others Coleman seemed to have something bitter upon his mind. He played poker quietly, steadfastly, and, without change of eye, following the mathematical religion of the game. Outside of the play he was savage, almost insupportable.
” What’s the matter with you, Rufus ? ” said his old college friend. ” Lost your job? Girl gone back on you? You’re a hell of -a host. We don’t get any. thing but insults and drinks.”
Late at night Coleman began to lose steadily. In the meantime he drank glass after glass of wine. Finally he made reckless bets on a mediocre hand and an opponent followed him thoughtfully bet by bet, undaunted, calm, absolutely without emotion. Coleman lost; he hurled down his cards. ” Nobody but a damned fool would have seen that last raise on anything less than a full hand.”
” Steady. Come off. What’s wrong with you, Rufus ? ” cried his guests.
” You’re not drunk, are you ? ” said his old college friend, puritanically.
” ‘Drunk’ ?” repeated Coleman.
” Oh, say,” cried a man, ” let’s play cards. What’s all this gabbling ? “
It was when a grey, dirty light of dawn evaded the thick curtains and fought on the floor with the feebled electric glow that Coleman, in the midst of play, lurched his chest heavily upon the table. Some chips rattled to the floor. ” I’ll call you,” he murmured, sleepily.
” Well,” replied a man, sternly, ” three kings.”
The other players with difficulty extracted five cards from beneath Coleman’s pillowed head. ” Not a pair! Come, come, this won’t do. Oh, let’s stop playing. This is the rottenest game I ever sat in. Let’s go home. Why don’t you put him. to bed, Billie?”
When Coleman awoke next morning, he looked back upon the poker game as something that had transpired in previous years. He dressed and went down to the grill-room. For his breakfast he ordered some eggs on toast and a pint of champagne. A privilege of liberty belonged to a certain Irish waiter, and this waiter looked at him, grinning. “Maybe you had a pretty lively time last night, Mr Coleman? “
” Yes, Pat,” answered Coleman, ” I did. It was all because of an unrequited affection, Patrick.” The man stood near, a napkin over his arm. Coleman went on impressively. ” The ways of the modern lover are strange. Now, I, Patrick, am a modern lover, and when, yesterday, the dagger of disappointment was driven deep into my heart, I immediately played poker as hard as I could and incidentally got loaded. This is the modern point of view. I understand on good authority that in old times lovers used to. languish. That is probably a lie, but at any rate we do not, in these times, languish to any great extent. We get drunk. Do you understand, Patrick? “
The waiter was used to a harangue at Coleman’s breakfast time. He placed his hand over his mouth and giggled. “Yessir.”
” Of course,” continued Coleman, thoughtfully. ” It might be pointed out by uneducated persons that
it is difficult to maintain a high standard of drunkenness for the adequate length of time, but in the series of experiments which I am about to make I am sure I can easily prove them to be in the wrong.”
” I am sure, sir,” said the waiter, ” the young ladies would not like to be hearing you talk this way.”
” Yes; no doubt, no doubt. The young ladies have still quite medieval ideas. They don’t understand. They still prefer lovers to languish.”
” At any rate, sir, I don’t see that your heart is sure enough broken. You seem to take it very easy. “
” Broken! ” cried Coleman. ” Easy? Man, my heart is in fragments. Bring me another small bottle.”
Six weeks later, Coleman went to the office of the proprietor of the Eclipse. Coleman was one of those smooth-shaven old-young men who wear upon some occasions a singular air of temperance and purity. At these times, his features lost their quality of worldly shrewdness and endless suspicion and bloomed as the face of some innocent boy. It then would be hard to tell that he had ever encountered even such a crime as a lie or a cigarette. As he walked into the proprietor’s office he was a perfect semblance of a fine, inexperienced youth. People usually concluded this change was due to a Turkish bath or some other expedient of recuperation, but it was due probably to the power of a physical characteristic.
” Boss in ? ” said Coleman.
” Yeh,” said the secretary, jerking his thumb toward an inner door. In his private office, Sturgeon sat on the edge of the table dangling one leg and dreamily surveying the wall. As Coleman entered he looked up quickly. “Rufus,” he cried, ” you’re just the man I wanted to see. I’ve got a scheme. A great scheme.” He slid from the table and began to pace briskly to and fro, his hands deep in his trousers’ pockets, his chin sunk in his collar, his light blue eyes afire with interest. ” Now listen. This is immense. The Eclipse enlists a battalion of men to go to Cuba and fight the Spaniards under its own flag-the Eclipse flag. Collect trained officers from here and there-enlist every young devil we see-drill ’em–best rifles-loads of ammunition- provisions-staff of doctors and nurses -a couple of dynamite guns-everything complete best in the world. Now, isn’t that great ? What’s the matter with that now ? Eh? Eh? Isn’t that great? It’s great, isn’t it? Eh? Why, my boy, we’ll free-“
Coleman did not seem to ignite. ” I have been arrested four or five times already on fool matters connected with the newspaper business,” he observed, gloomily, ” but I’ve never yet been hung. I think your scheme is a beauty.”
Sturgeon paused in astonishment. ” Why, what happens to be the matter with you ? What are you kicking about ? “
Coleman made a slow gesture. ” I’m tired,” he answered. ” I need a vacation.”
“Vacation!” cried Sturgeon. “Why don’t you take one then ? “
” That’s what I’ve come to see you about. I’ve had a pretty heavy strain on me for three years now, and I want to get a little rest.”
” Well, who in thunder has been keeping you from it? It hasn’t been me.”
” I know it hasn’t been you, but, of course, I wanted the paper to go and I wanted to have my share in its success, but now that everything is all right I think I might go away for a time if you don’t mind.”
” Mind! ” exclaimed Sturgeon falling into his chair and reaching for his check book. “Where do you want to go? How long do you want to be gone? How much money do you want ?”
” I don’t want very much. And as for where I want to go, I thought I might like to go to Greece for a while.”
Sturgeon had been writing a check. He poised his pen in the air and began to laugh. ” That’s a queer place to go for a rest. Why, the biggest war of modern times–a war that may involve all Europe-is likely to start there at any moment. You are not likely to get any rest in Greece.”
” I know that,” answered Coleman. ” I know there is likely to be a war there. But I think that is exactly what would rest me. I would like to report the war.”
“You are a queer bird,” answered Sturgeon deeply fascinated with this new idea. He had apparently forgotten his vision of a Cuban volunteer battalion. ” War correspondence is about the most original medium for a rest I ever heard of.”
“Oh, it may seem funny, but really, any change will be good for me now. I’ve been whacking at this old Sunday edition until I’m sick of it, and some,. times I wish the Eclipse was in hell.”
That’s all right,” laughed the proprietor of the Eclipse. ” But I still don’t see how you ‘are going to get any vacation out of a war that will upset the whole of Europe. But that’s your affair. If you want to become the chief correspondent in the field in case of any such war, why, of course, I would be glad to have you. I couldn’t get anybody better. But I don’t see where your vacation comes in.”
” I’ll take care of that,” answered Coleman. ” When I take a vacation I want to take it my own way, and I think this will be a vacation because it will be different -don’t you see-different ? “
” No, I don’t see any sense in it, but if you think that is the way that suits you, why, go ahead. How much money do you want ? “
” I don’t want much. just enough to see me through nicely.”
Sturgeon scribbled on his check book and then ripped a check from it. ” Here’s a thousand dollars. Will that do you to start with? “
” That’s plenty.”
“When do you want to start ? “
“Oh,” said Sturgeon. ” You’re in a hurry.” This impetuous manner of exit from business seemed to appeal to him. ” To-morrow,” he repeated smiling. In reality he was some kind of a poet using his millions romantically, spending wildly on a sentiment that might be with beauty or without beauty, according to the momentary vacillation. The vaguely-defined desperation in Coleman’s last announcement appeared to delight him. He grinned and placed the points of his fingers together stretching out his legs in a careful attitude of indifference which might even mean disapproval. ” To-morrow,” he murmured teasingly.
” By jiminy,” exclaimed Coleman, ignoring the other man’s mood, ” I’m sick of the whole business. I’ve got out a Sunday paper once a week for three years and I feel absolutely incapable of getting out another edition. It would be all right if we were running on ordinary lines, but when each issue is more or less of an attempt to beat the previous issue, it becomes rather wearing, you know. If I can’t get a vacation now I take one later in a lunatic asylum.”
” Why, I’m not objecting to your having a vacation. I’m simply marvelling at the kind of vacation you want to take. And ‘to-morrow,’ too, eh ? “
” Well, it suits me,” muttered Coleman, sulkily.
” Well, if it suits you, that’s enough. Here’s your check. Clear out now and don’t let me see you again until you are thoroughly rested, even if it takes a year.” He arose and stood smiling. He was mightily pleased with himself. He liked to perform in this way. He was almost seraphic as he thrust the check for a thousand dollars toward Coleman.
Then his manner changed abruptly. ” Hold on a minute. I must think a little about this thing if you are going to manage the correspondence. Of course it will be a long and bloody war.”
“The big chance is that all Europe will be dragged into it. Of course then you would have to come out of Greece and take up abetter position-say Vienna.”
“No, I wouldn’t care to do that,” said Coleman positively. “I just want to take care of the Greek end of it.”
” It will be an idiotic way to take a vacation,” observed Sturgeon.
” Well, it suits me,” muttered Coleman again. ” I tell you what it is-” he added suddenly. “I’ve got some private reasons- see ? “
Sturgeon was radiant with joy. ” Private reasons.” He was charmed by the sombre pain in Coleman’s eyes and his own ability to eject it. “Good. Go now and be blowed. I will cable final instruction to meet you in London. As soon as you get to Greece, cable me an account of the situation there and we will arrange our plans.” He began to laugh. ” Private reasons. Come out to dinner with me.”
” I can’t very well,” said Coleman. ” If I go tomorrow, I’ve got to pack-“
But here the real tyrant appeared, emerging suddenly from behind the curtain of sentiment, appearing like a red devil in a pantomine. ” You can’t ? ” snapped Sturgeon. ” Nonsense—-“
SWEEPING out from between two remote, half-submerged dunes on which stood slender sentry light. houses, the steamer began to roll with a gentle insinuating motion. Passengers in their staterooms saw at rhythmical intervals the spray racing fleetly past the portholes. The waves grappled hurriedly at the sides of the great flying steamer and boiled discomfited astern in a turmoil of green and white. From the tops of the enormous funnels streamed level masses of smoke which were immediately torn to nothing by the headlong wind. Meanwhile as the steamer rushed into the northeast, men in caps and ulsters comfortably paraded the decks and stewards arranged deck chairs for the reception of various women who were coming from their cabins with rugs.
In the smoking room, old voyagers were settling down comfortably while new voyagers were regarding them with a diffident respect. Among the passengers Coleman found a number of people whom he knew, including a wholesale wine merchant, a Chicago railway magnate and a New York millionaire. They lived practically in the smoking room. Necessity drove them from time to time to the salon, or to their berths. Once indeed the millionaire was absent, from the group while penning a short note to his wife.
When the Irish coast was sighted Coleman came on deck to look at it. A tall young woman immediately halted in her walk until he had stepped up to her. ” Well, of all ungallant men, Rufus Coleman, you are the star,” she cried laughing and held out her hand.
” Awfully sorry, I’m sure,” he murmured. ” Been playing poker in the smoking room all voyage. Didn’t have a look at the passenger list until just now. Why didn’t you send me word?” These lies were told so modestly and sincerely that when the girl flashed her, brilliant eyes full upon their author there was a mixt of admiration in the indignation.
” Send you a card ” I don’t believe you can read, else you would have known I was to sail on this steamer. If I hadn’t been ill until to-day you would have seen me in the salon. I open at the Folly Theatre next week. Dear ol’ Lunnon, y’ know.”
” Of course, I knew you were going,” said Coleman. “But I thought you were to go later. What do you open in? “
” Fly by Night. Come walk along with me. See those two old ladies ” They’ve been watching for me like hawks ever since we left New York. They expected me to flirt with every man on board. But I’ve fooled them. I’ve been just as g-o-o-d. I had to be.”
As the pair moved toward the stern, enormous and radiant green waves were crashing futilely after the steamer. Ireland showed a dreary coast line to the north. A wretched man who had crossed the Atlantic eighty-four times was declaiming to a group of novices. A venerable banker, bundled in rugs, was asleep in his deck chair.
” Well, Nora,” said Coleman, ” I hope you make a hit in London. You deserve it if anybody does. You’ve worked hard.”
“Worked hard,” cried the girl. “I should think so. Eight years ago I was in the rear row. Now I have the centre of the stage whenever I want it. I made Chalmers cut out that great scene in the second act between the queen and Rodolfo. The idea! Did he think I would stand that ? And just because he was in love with Clara Trotwood, too.”
Coleman was dreamy. ” Remember when I was dramatic man for the Gazette and wrote the first notice ? “
” Indeed, I do,” answered the girl affectionately. ” Indeed, I do, Rufus. Ah, that was a great lift. I believe that was the first thing that had an effect on old Oliver. Before that, he never would believe that I was any good. Give me your arm, Rufus. Let’s parade before the two old women.” Coleman glanced at her keenly. Her voice had trembled slightly. Her eyes were lustrous as if she were about to weep.
” Good heavens,” he said. ” You are the same old Nora Black. I thought you would be proud and ‘aughty by this time.”
” Not to my friends,” she murmured., ” Not to my friends. I’m always the same and I never forget. Rufus.”
” Never forget what? ” asked Coleman.
” If anybody does me a favour I never forget it as long as I live,” she answered fervently.
” Oh, you mustn’t be so sentimental, Nora. You remember that play you bought from little Ben Whipple, just because he had once sent you some flowers in the old days when you were poor and happened to bed sick. A sense of gratitude cost you over eight thousand dollars that time, didn’t it? ” Coleman laughed heartily.
” Oh, it wasn’t the flowers at all,” she interrupted seriously. ” Of course Ben was always a nice boy, but then his play was worth a thousand dollars. That’s all I gave him. I lost some more in trying to make it go. But it was too good. That was what was the matter. It was altogether too good for the public. I felt awfully sorry for poor little Ben.”
“Too good?” sneered Coleman. “Too good? Too indifferently bad, you mean. My dear girl, you mustn’t imagine that you know a good play. You don’t, at all.”
She paused abruptly and faced him. This regal, creature was looking at him so sternly that Coleman felt awed for a moment as if he, were in the presence of a great mind. ” Do you mean to say that I’m not an artist ? ” she asked.
Coleman remained cool. ” I’ve never been decorated for informing people of their own affairs,” he observed, ” but I should say that you were about as much of an artist as I am.”
Frowning slightly, she reflected upon this reply. Then, of a sudden, she laughed. ” There is no use in being angry with you, Rufus. You always were a hopeless scamp. But,” she added, childishly wistful, “have you ever seen Fly by Night? Don’t you think my dance in the second act is artistic? “
” No,” said Coleman, ” I haven’t seen Fly by Night yet, but of course I know that you are the most beautiful dancer on the stage. Everybody knows that.”
It seemed that her hand tightened on his arm. Her face was radiant. ” There,” she exclaimed. ” Now you are forgiven. You are a nice boy, Rufus-some- times.”
When Miss Black went to her cabin, Coleman strolled into the smoking room. Every man there covertly or openly surveyed him. He dropped lazily into a chair at a table where the wine merchant, the Chicago railway king and the New York millionaire were playing cards. They made a noble pretense of not being aware of him. On the oil cloth top of the table the cards were snapped down, turn by turn.
Finally the wine merchant, without lifting his head to- address a particular person, said: ” New conquest.”
Hailing a steward Coleman asked for a brandy and soda.
The millionaire said: ” He’s a sly cuss, anyhow.” The railway man grinned. After an elaborate silence the wine merchant asked: ” Know Miss Black long, Rufus?” Coleman looked scornfully at his friends. ” What’s wrong with you there, fellows, anyhow?” The Chicago man answered airily. ” Oh, nothin’. Nothin’, whatever.”
At dinner in the crowded salon, Coleman was aware that more than one passenger glanced first at Nora Black and then at him, as if connecting them in some train of thought, moved to it by the narrow horizon of shipboard and by a sense of the mystery that surrounds the lives of the beauties of the stage. Near the captain’s right hand sat the glowing and splendid Nora, exhibiting under the gaze of the persistent eyes of many meanings, a practiced and profound composure that to the populace was terrfying dignity.
Strolling toward the smoking room after dinner, Coleman met the New York millionaire, who seemed agitated. He took Coleman fraternally by the arm. ” Say, old man, introduce me, won’t you ? I’m crazy to know her.”
“Do you mean Miss Black?” asked Coleman.
” Why, I don’t know that I have a right. Of course, you know, she hasn’t been meeting anybody aboard. I’ll ask her, though- certainly.”
” Thanks, old man, thanks. I’d be tickled to death. Come along and have a drink. When will you ask her? ” ” Why, I don’t know when I’ll see her. To-morrow, I suppose-“
They had not been long in the smoking room, however, when the deck steward came with a card to Coleman. Upon it was written: “Come for’ a stroll?” Everybody, saw Coleman read this card and then look up and whisper to the deck steward. The deck steward bent his head and whispered discreetly in reply. There was an abrupt pause in the hum of conversation. The interest was acute.
Coleman leaned carelessly back in his chair, puffing at his cigar. He mingled calmly in a discussion of the comparative merits of certain trans-Atlantic lines. After a time he threw away his cigar and arose. Men nodded. “Didn’t I tell you?” His studiously languid exit was made dramatic by the eagle-eyed attention of the smoking room.
On deck he found Nora pacing to and fro. “You didn’t hurry yourself,” she said, as he joined her. The lights of Queenstown were twinkling. A warm wind, wet with the moisture of rain- stricken sod, was coming from the land.
“Why,” said Coleman, “we’ve got all these duffers very much excited.”
“Well what do you care? ” asked hte girl. “You don’t, care do you?”
“No, I don’t care. Only it’s rather absurd to be watched all the time.” He said this precisely as if he abhorred being watched in this case. “Oh by the way,” he added. Then he paused for a moment. “Aw–a friend of mine–not a bad fellow– he asked me for an introduction. Of course, I told him I’d ask you.”
She made a contemptuous gesture. “Oh, another Willie. Tell him no. Tell him to go home to his family. Tell him to run away.”
“He isn’t a bad fellow. He–” said Coleman diffidently, “he would probably be at the theatre every night in a box.”
“yes, and get drunk and throw a wine bottle on the stage instead of a bouquet. No,” she declared positively, “I won’t see him.”
Coleman did not seem to be oppressed by this ultimatum. “Oh, all right. I promised him–that was all.”
“Besides, are you in a great hurry to get rid of me?”
“Rid of you? Nonsense.”
They walked in the shadow. “How long are you going to be in London, Rufus?” asked Nora softly.
“Who? I? Oh, I’m going right off to Greece. First train. There’s going to be a war, you know.”
“A war? Why, who is going to fight? The Greeks and the–the–the what?”
“The Turks. I’m going right over there.”
“Why, that’s dreadful, Rufus,” said the girl, mournfull and shocked. “You might get hurt or something.” Presently she asked: “And aren’t you going to be in London any time at all?”
“Oh,” he answered, puffing out his lips, “I may stop in Londom for three or four days on my way home. I’m not sure of it.”
“And when will that be?”
“Oh, I can’t tell. It may be in three or four months, or it may be a year from now. When the war stops.”
There was a long silence as the walked up and down the swaying deck.
“Do you know,” said Nora at last, “I like you, Rufus Coleman. I don’t know any good reason for it either, unless it is because you are such a brute. Now, when I was asking you if you were to be in London you were perfectly detestable. You know I was anxious.”
“I–detestable?” cried Coleman, feigning amazement. “Why, what did I say?”
“It isn’t so much what you said–” began Nora slowlly. Then she suddenly changed her manner.
“Oh, well, don’t let’s talk about it any more. It’s too foolish. Only-you are a disagreeable person sometimes.”
In the morning, as the vessel steamed up the Irish channel, Coleman was on deck, keeping furtive watch on the cabin stairs. After two hours of waiting, he scribbled a message on a card and sent it below. He received an answer that Miss Black had a headache, and felt too ill to come on deck. He went to the smoking room. The three card-players glanced up, grinning. “What’s the matter?” asked the wine merchant. “You look angry.” As a matter of fact, Coleman had purposely wreathed his features in a pleasant and satisfied expression, so he was for a moment furious at the wine merchant.
“Confound the girl,” he thought to himself. “She has succeeded in making all these beggars laugh at me.” He mused that if he had another chance he would show her how disagreeable or detestable or scampish he was under some circumstances. He reflected ruefully that the complacence with which he had accepted the comradeship of the belle of the voyage might have been somewhat overdone. Perhaps he had got a little out of proportion. He was annoyed at the stares of the other men in the smoking room, who seemed now to be reading his discomfiture. As for Nora Black he thought of her wistfully and angrily as a superb woman whose company was honour and joy, a payment for any sacrifices.
” What’s the matter? ” persisted the wine merchant. ” You look grumpy.”
Coleman laughed. ” Do I?”
At Liverpool, as the steamer was being slowly warped to the landing stage by some tugs, the passengers crowded the deck with their hand-bags. Adieus were falling as dead leaves fall from a great tree. The stewards were handling small hills of luggage marked with flaming red labels. The ship was firmly against the dock before Miss Black came from her cabin. Coleman was at the time gazing shoreward, but his three particular friends instantly nudged him. “What?” “There she is?” “Oh, Miss Black?” He composedly walked toward her. It was impossible to tell whether she saw him coming or whether it was accident, but at any rate she suddenly turned and moved toward the stern of the ship. Ten watchful gossips had noted Coleman’s travel in her direction and more than half the passengers noted his defeat. He wheeled casually and returned to his three friends. They were colic-stricken with a coarse and yet silent merriment. Coleman was glad that the voyage was over.
After the polite business of an English custom house, the travellers passed out to the waiting train. A nimble little theatrical agent of some kind, sent from London, dashed forward to receive Miss Black. He had a first-class compartment engaged for her and he bundled her and her maid into it in an exuberance of enthusiasm and admiration.. Coleman passing moodily along the line of coaches heard Nora’s voice hailing him.
” Rufus.” There she was, framed in a carriage window, beautiful and smiling brightly. Every near. by person turned to contemplate this vision.
” Oh,” said Coleman advancing, ” I thought I was not going to get a chance to say good-bye to you.” He held out his hand. ” Good-bye.”
She pouted. ” Why, there’s plenty of room in this compartment.” Seeing that some forty people were transfixed in observation of her, she moved a short way back. ” Come on in this compartment, Rufus,” she said.
“Thanks. I prefer to smoke,” said Coleman. He went off abruptly.
On the way to London, he brooded in his corner on the two divergent emotions he had experienced when refusing her invitation. At Euston Station in London, he was directing a porter, who had his luggage, when he heard Nora speak at his shoulder. ” Well, Rufus, you sulky boy,” she said, ” I shall be at the Cecil. If you have time, come and see me.”
” Thanks, I’m sure, my dear Nora,” answered Coleman effusively. “But honestly, I’m off for Greece.”
A brougham was drawn up near them and the nimble little agent was waiting. The maid was directing the establishment of a mass of luggage on and in a four-wheeler cab. ” Well, put me into my carriage, anyhow,” said Nora. ” You will have time for that.”
Afterward she addressed him from the dark interior. Now, Rufus, you must come to see me the minute you strike London again- of She hesitated a moment and then smiling gorgeously upon him, she said: ” Brute! “
As soon as Coleman had planted his belongings in a hotel he was bowled in a hansom briskly along the smoky Strand, through a dark city whose walls dripped like the walls of a cave and whose passages were only illuminated by flaring yellow and red signs.
Walkley the London correspondent of the Eclipse, whirled from his chair with a shout of joy and relief -at sight of Coleman. ” Cables,” he cried. “Nothin’ but cables! All the people in New York are writing cables to you. The wires groan with them. And we groan with them too. They come in here in bales. However, there is no reason why you should read them all. Many are similar in words and many more are similar in spirit. The sense of the whole thing is that you get to Greece quickly, taking with you immense sums of money and enormous powers over nations.”
” Well, when does the row begin? “
” The most astute journalists in Europe have been predicting a general European smash-up every year since 1878,” said Walkley, ” and the prophets weep. The English are the only people who can pull off wars on schedule time, and they have to do it in odd corners of the globe. I fear the war business is getting tuckered. There is sorrow in the lodges of the lone wolves, the war correspondents. However, my boy, don’t bury your face in your blanket. This Greek business looks very promising, very promising.” He then began to proclaim trains and connections. ” Dover, Calais, Paris, Brindisi, Corfu, Patras, Athens. That is your game. You are supposed to sky-rocket yourself over that route in the shortest possible time, but you would gain no time by starting before to-morrow, so you can cool your heels here in London until then. I wish I was going along.”
Coleman returned to his hotel, a knight impatient and savage at being kept for a time out of the saddle. He went for a late supper to the grill room and as he was seated there alone, a party of four or five people came to occupy the table directly behind him. They talked a great deal even before they arrayed them. selves at the table, and he at once recognised the voice of Nora Black. She was queening it, apparently, over a little band of awed masculine worshippers.
Either by accident or for some curious reason, she took a chair back to back with Coleman’s chair. Her sleeve of fragrant stuff almost touched his shoulder and he felt appealing to him seductively a perfume of orris root and violet. He was drinking bottled stout with his chop; be sat with a face of wood.
” Oh, the little lord ? ” Nora was crying to some slave. “Now, do you know, he won’t do at all. He is too awfully charming. He sits and ruminates for fifteen minutes and then he pays me a lovely compliment. Then he ruminates for another fifteen minutes and cooks up another fine thing. It is too tiresome. Do you know what kind of man. I like? ” she asked softly and confidentially. And here she sank back in her chair until. Coleman knew from the tingle that her head was but a few inches from his head. Her, sleeve touched him. He turned more wooden under the spell of the orris root and violet. Her courtiers thought it all a graceful pose, but Coleman believed otherwise. Her voice sank to the liquid, siren note of a succubus. ” Do you know what kind of a man I like? Really like? I like a man that a woman can’t bend in a thousand different ways in five minutes. He must have some steel in him. He obliges me to admire him the most when he remains stolid; stolid to me lures. Ah, that is the only kind of a man who cap ever break a heart among us women of the world. His stolidity is not real; no; it is mere art, but it is a highly finished art and often enough we can’t cut through it. Really we can’t. And, then we may actually come to–er–care for the man. Really we may. Isn’t it funny?”
Alt the end Coleman arose and strolled out of the. room, smoking a cigarette. He did not betray, a sign. Before. the door clashed softly behind him, Nora laughed a little defiantly, perhaps a little loudly. It made every man in the grill-room perk up his ears. As for her courtiers, they were entranced. In her description of the conquering man, she had easily contrived that each one of them wondered if she might not mean him. Each man was perfectly sure that he had plenty of steel in his composition and that seemed to be a main point.
Coleman delayed for a time in the smoking room and then went to his own quarters. In reality he was Somewhat puzzled in his mind by a projection of the beauties of Nora Black upon his desire for Greece and Marjory, His thoughts formed a duality. Once he was on the point of sending his card to Nora Black’s parlour, inasmuch as Greece was very distant and he could not start until the morrow. But he suspected that he was holding the interest of the actress because of his recent appearance of impregnable serenity in the presence of her fascinations. If he now sent his card, it was a form of surrender and he knew her to be one to take a merciless advantage. He would not make this tactical mistake. On the contrary he would go to bed and think of war,
In reality he found it easy to fasten his mind upon the prospective war. He regarded himself cynically in most affairs, but he could not be cynical of war, because had he – seen none of it. His rejuvenated imagination began to thrill to the roll of battle,
through his thought passing all the lightning in the pictures of Detaille, de Neuville and Morot; lashed battery horse roaring over bridges; grand cuirassiers dashing headlong against stolid invincible red-faced lines of German infantry; furious and bloody grapplings in the streets of little villages of northeastern France. There was one thing at least of which he could still feel the spirit of a debutante. In this matter of war he was not, too, unlike a young girl embarking upon her first season of opera. Walkely, the next morning, saw this mood sitting quaintly upon Coleman and cackled with astonishment and glee. Coleman’s usual manner did not return until he detected Walkely’s appreciation of his state and then he snubbed him according to the ritual of the Sunday editor of the New York Eclipse. Parenthetically, it
might be said that if Coleman now recalled Nora Black to his mind at all, it was only to think of her for a moment with ironical complacence. He had beaten her.
When the train drew out of the station, Coleman felt himself thrill. Was ever fate less perverse ? War and love-war and Marjory-were in conjunction both in Greece-and he could tilt with one lance at both gods. It was a great fine game to play and no man was ever so blessed in vacations. He was smiling continually to himself and sometimes actually on the point of talking aloud. This was despite the
presence in the compartment of two fellow passengers who preserved in their uncomfortably rigid, icy and uncompromising manners many of the more or less ridiculous traditions of the English first class carriage. Coleman’s fine humour betrayed him once into addressing one of these passengers and the man responded simply with a wide look of incredulity, as if he discovered that he was travelling in the same compartment with a zebu. It turned Coleman suddenly to evil temper and he wanted to ask the man questions concerning his education and his present mental condition: and so until the train arrived at Dover, his ballooning soul was in danger of collapsing. On the