The Conflict by David Graham Phillips

Scanned by Charles Keller with OmniPage Professional OCR software donated by Caere Corporation, 1-800-535-7226. Contact Mike Lough THE CONFLICT I Four years at Wellesley; two years about equally divided among Paris, Dresden and Florence. And now Jane Hastings was at home again. At home in the unchanged house–spacious, old-fashioned–looking down from its steeply sloping lawns
This page contains affiliate links. As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases.
Buy it on Amazon FREE Audible 30 days

Scanned by Charles Keller with OmniPage Professional OCR software donated by Caere Corporation, 1-800-535-7226. Contact Mike Lough



Four years at Wellesley; two years about equally divided among Paris, Dresden and Florence. And now Jane Hastings was at home again. At home in the unchanged house–spacious, old-fashioned–looking down from its steeply sloping lawns and terraced gardens upon the sooty, smoky activities of Remsen City, looking out upon a charming panorama of hills and valleys in the heart of South Central Indiana. Six years of striving in the East and abroad to satisfy the restless energy she inherited from her father; and here she was, as restless as ever–yet with everything done that a woman could do in the way of an active career. She looked back upon her years of elaborate preparation; she looked forward upon–nothing. That is, nothing but marriage–dropping her name, dropping her personality, disappearing in the personality of another. She had never seen a man for whom she would make such a sacrifice; she did not believe that such a man existed.

She meditated bitterly upon that cruel arrangement of Nature’s whereby the father transmits his vigorous qualities in twofold measure to the daughter, not in order that she may be a somebody, but solely in order that she may transmit them to sons. “I don’t believe it,” she decided. “There’s something for ME to do.” But what? She gazed down at Remsen City, connected by factories and pierced from east, west and south by railways. She gazed out over the fields and woods. Yes, there must be something for her besides merely marrying and breeding–just as much for her as for a man. But what? If she should marry a man who would let her rule him, she would despise him. If she should marry a man she could respect–a man who was of the master class like her father–how she would hate him for ignoring her and putting her in her ordained inferior feminine place. She glanced down at her skirts with an angry sense of enforced masquerade. And then she laughed –for she had a keen sense of humor that always came to her rescue when she was in danger of taking herself too seriously.

Through the foliage between her and the last of the stretches of highroad winding up from Remsen City she spied a man climbing in her direction–a long, slim figure in cap, Norfolk jacket and knickerbockers. Instantly–and long before he saw her–there was a grotesque whisking out of sight of the serious personality upon which we have been intruding. In its stead there stood ready to receive the young man a woman of the type that possesses physical charm and knows how to use it–and does not scruple to use it. For a woman to conquer man by physical charm is far and away the easiest, the most fleeting and the emptiest of victories. But for woman thus to conquer without herself yielding anything whatsoever, even so little as an alluring glance of the eye–that is quite another matter. It was this sort of conquest that Jane Hastings delighted in–and sought to gain with any man who came within range. If the men had known what she was about, they would have denounced her conduct as contemptible and herself as immoral, even brazen. But in their innocence they accused only their sophisticated and superbly masculine selves and regarded her as the soul of innocence. This was the more absurd in them because she obviously excelled in the feminine art of inviting display of charm. To glance at her was to realize at once the beauty of her figure, the exceeding grace of her long back and waist. A keen observer would have seen the mockery lurking in her light-brown eyes, and about the corners of her full red lips.

She arranged her thick dark hair to make a secret, half- revealed charm of her fascinating pink ears and to reveal in dazzling unexpectedness the soft, round whiteness of the nape of her neck.

Because you are thus let into Miss Hastings’ naughty secret, so well veiled behind an air of earnest and almost cold dignity, you must not do her the injustice of thinking her unusually artful. Such artfulness is common enough; it secures husbands by the thousand and by the tens of thousands. No, only in the skill of artfulness was Miss Hastings unusual.

As the long strides of the tall, slender man brought him rapidly nearer, his face came into plain view. A refined, handsome face, dark and serious. He had dark-brown eyes–and Miss Hastings did not like brown eyes in a man. She thought that men should have gray or blue or greenish eyes, and if they were cruel in their love of power she liked it the better.

“Hello, Dave,” she cried in a pleasant, friendly voice. She was posed–in the most unconscious of attitudes– upon a rustic bench so that her extraordinary figure was revealed at its most attractive.

The young man halted before her, his breath coming quickly–not altogether from the exertion of his steep and rapid climb. “Jen, I’m mad about you,” he said, his brown eyes soft and luminous with passion. “I’ve done nothing but think about you in the week you’ve been back. I didn’t sleep last night, and I’ve come up here as early as I dared to tell you–to ask you to marry me.”

He did not see the triumph she felt, the joy in having subdued another of these insolently superior males. Her eyes were discreetly veiled; her delightful mouth was arranged to express sadness.

“I thought I was an ambition incarnate,” continued the young man, unwittingly adding to her delight by detailing how brilliant her conquest was. “I’ve never cared a rap about women–until I saw you. I was all for politics–for trying to do something to make my fellow men the better for my having lived. Now–it’s all gone. I want you, Jen. Nothing else matters.”

As he paused, gazing at her in speechless longing, she lifted her eyes–simply a glance. With a stifled cry he darted forward, dropped beside her on the bench and tried to enfold her in his arms. The veins stood out in his forehead; the expression of his eyes was terrifying.

She shrank, sprang up. His baffled hands had not even touched her. “David Hull!” she cried, and the indignation and the repulsion in her tone and in her manner were not simulated, though her artfulness hastened to make real use of them. She loved to rouse men to frenzy. She knew that the sight of their frenzy would chill her–would fill her with an emotion that would enable her to remain mistress of the situation.

At sight of her aversion his eyes sank. “Forgive me,” he muttered. “You make me–CRAZY.”

“I!” she cried, laughing in angry derision. “What have I ever done to encourage you to be–impertinent?”

“Nothing,” he admitted. “That is, nothing but just being yourself.”

“I can’t help that, can I?”

“No,” said he, adding doggedly: “But neither can men help going crazy about you.”

She looked at him sitting there at once penitent and impenitent; and her mind went back to the thoughts that had engaged it before he came into view. Marriage– to marry one of these men, with their coarse physical ideas of women, with their pitiful weakness before an emotion that seemed to her to have no charm whatever. And these were the creatures who ruled the world and compelled women to be their playthings and mere appendages! Well–no doubt it was the women’s own fault, for were they not a poor, spiritless lot, trembling with fright lest they should not find a man to lean on and then, having found the man, settling down into fat and stupid vacuity or playing the cat at the silly game of social position? But not Jane Hastings! Her bosom heaved and her eyes blazed scorn as she looked at this person who had dared think the touch of his coarse hands would be welcome. Welcome!

“And I have been thinking what a delightful friendship ours was,” said she, disgustedly. “And all the time, your talk about your ambition–the speeches you were going to make–the offices you were going to hold– the good you were going to do in purifying politics– it was all a blind!”

“All a blind,” admitted he. “From the first night that you came to our house to dinner–Jen, I’ll never forget that dress you wore–or the way you looked in it.”

Miss Jane had thought extremely well of that toilet herself. She had heard how impervious this David Hull, the best catch in the town, was to feminine charm; and she had gone prepared to give battle. But she said dejectedly, “You don’t know what a shock you’ve given me.”

“Yes, I do,” cried he. “I’m ashamed of myself. But –I love you, Jen! Can’t you learn to love me?”

“I hadn’t even thought of you in that way,” said she. “I haven’t bothered my head about marriage. Of course, most girls have to think about it, because they must get some one to support them—-”

“I wish to God you were one of that sort,” interrupted he. “Then I could have some hope.”

“Hope of what,” said she disdainfully. “You don’t mean that you’d marry a girl who was marrying you because she had to have food, clothing and shelter?”

“I’d marry the woman I loved. Then–I’d MAKE her love me. She simply couldn’t help it.”

Jane Hastings shuddered. “Thank heaven, I don’t have to marry!” Her eyes flashed. “But I wouldn’t, even if I were poor. I’d rather go to work. Why shouldn’t a woman work, anyhow?”

“At what?” inquired Hull. “Except the men who do manual labor, there are precious few men who can make a living honestly and self-respectingly. It’s fortunate the women can hold aloof and remain pure.”

Jane laughed unpleasantly. “I’m not so sure that the women who live with men just for shelter are pure,” said she.

“Jen,” the young man burst out, “you’re ambitious– aren’t you?”

“Rather,” replied she.

“And you like the sort of thing I’m trying to do– like it and approve of it?”

“I believe a man ought to succeed–get to the top.”

“So do I–if he can do it honorably.”

Jane hesitated–dared. “To be quite frank,” said she, “I worship success and I despise failure. Success means strength. Failure means weakness–and I abominate weakness.”

He looked quietly disapproving. “You don’t mean that. You don’t understand what you’re saying.”

“Perfectly,” she assured him. “I’m not a bit good. Education has taken all the namby-pamby nonsense out of me.”

But he was not really hearing; besides, what had women to do with the realities of life? They were made to be the property of men–that was the truth, though he would never have confessed it to any woman. They were made to be possessed. “And I must possess this woman,” he thought, his blood running hot. He said:

“Why not help me to make a career? I can do it, Jen, with you to help.”

She had thought of this before–of making a career for herself, of doing the “something” her intense energy craved, through a man. The “something” must be big if it were to satisfy her; and what that was big could a woman do except through a man? But–this man. Her eyes turned thoughtfully upon him–a look that encouraged him to go on:

“Politics interest you, Jen. I’ve seen that in the way you listen and in the questions you ask.”

She smiled–but not at the surface. In fact, his political talk had bored her. She knew nothing about the subject, and, so, had been as one listening to an unknown language. But, like all women, having only the narrowest range of interests herself and the things that would enable her to show off to advantage, she was used to being bored by the conversational efforts of men and to concealing her boredom. She had listened patiently and had led the conversation by slow, imperceptible stages round to the interesting personal– to the struggle for dominion over this difficult male.

“Anyhow,” he went on, “no intelligent person could fail to be interested in politics, once he or she appreciated what it meant.

And people of our class owe it to society to take part in politics. Victor Dorn is a crank, but he’s right about some things–and he’s right in saying that we of the upper class are parasites upon the masses. They earn all the wealth, and we take a large part of it away from them. And it’s plain stealing unless we give some service in return. For instance, you and I–what have we done, what are we doing that entitles us to draw so much? Somebody must earn by hard labor all that is produced. We are not earning. So”–he was looking handsome now in his manly earnestness–“Jen, it’s up to us to do our share–to stop stealing–isn’t it?”

She was genuinely interested. “I hadn’t thought of these things,” said she.

“Victor Dorn says we ought to go to work like laborers,” pursued David. “But that’s where he’s a crank. The truth is, we ought to give the service of leadership–especially in politics. And I’m going to do it, Jane Hastings!”

For the first time she had an interest in him other than that of conquest. “Just what are you going to do?” she asked.

“Not upset everything and tear everything to pieces, as Victor Dorn wants to do,” replied he. “But reform the abuses and wrongs–make it so that every one shall have a fair chance–make politics straight and honest.”

This sounded hazy to her. “And what will you get out of it?” asked she.

He colored and was a little uneasy as he thus faced a direct demand for his innermost secret–the secret of selfishness he tried to hide even from himself. But there was no evading; if he would interest her he must show her the practical advantages of his proposal. “If I’m to do any good,” said he, putting the best face, and really not a bad face, upon a difficult and delicate matter–“if I’m to do any good I must win a commanding position–must get to be a popular leader–must hold high offices–and–and–all that.”

“I understand,” said she. “That sounds attractive. Yes, David, you ought to make a career. If I were a man that’s the career I’d choose.”

“You can choose it, though you’re a woman,” rejoined he. “Marry me, and we’ll go up together. You’ve no idea how exciting campaigns and elections are. A little while, and you’ll be crazy about it all. The women are taking part, more and more.”

“Who’s Victor Dorn?” she suddenly asked.

“You must remember him. It was his father that was killed by the railway the day we all went on that excursion to Indianapolis.”

“Dorn the carpenter,” said Jane. “Yes–I remember.” Her face grew dreamy with the effort of memory. “I see it all again. And there was a boy with a very white face who knelt and held his head.”

“That was Victor,” said Hull.

“Yes–I remember him. He was a bad boy–always fighting and robbing orchards and getting kept after school.”

“And he’s still a bad boy–but in a different way. He’s out against everything civilized and everybody that’s got money.”

“What does he do? Keep a saloon?”

“No, but he spends a lot of time at them. I must say for him that he doesn’t drink–and professes not to believe in drink. When I pointed out to him what a bad example he set, loafing round saloons, he laughed at me and said he was spending his spare time exactly as Jesus Christ did. `You’ll find, Davy, old man,’ he said, `if you’ll take the trouble to read your Bible, that Jesus traveled with publicans and sinners–and a publican is in plain English a saloonkeeper.’ ”

“That was very original–wasn’t it?” said Jane. “I’m interested in this man. He’s–different. I like people who are different.”

“I don’t think you’d like him, Victor Dorn,” said David.

“Don’t you?”

“Oh, yes–in a way. I admire him,” graciously. “He’s really a remarkable fellow, considering his opportunities.”

“He calls you `Davy, old man,’ ” suggested Jane.

Hull flushed. “That’s his way. He’s free and easy with every one. He thinks conventionality is a joke.”

“And it is,” cried Miss Hastings.

“You’d not think so,” laughed Hull, “if he called you Jane or Jenny or my dear Jenny half an hour after he met you.”

“He wouldn’t,” said Miss Hastings in a peculiar tone.

“He would if he felt like it,” replied Hull. “And if you resented it, he’d laugh at you and walk away. I suspect him of being a good deal of a poseur and a fakir. All those revolutionary chaps are. But I honestly think that he really doesn’t care a rap for classes –or for money–or for any of the substantial things.”

“He sounds common,” said Miss Hastings. “I’ve lost interest in him.” Then in the same breath: “How does he live? Is he a carpenter?”

“He was–for several years. You see, he and his mother together brought up the Dorn family after the father was killed. They didn’t get a cent of damages from the railroad. It was an outrage—-”

“But my father was the largest owner of the railroad.”

Hull colored violently. “You don’t understand about business, Jen. The railroad is a corporation. It fought the case–and the Dorns had no money–and the railway owned the judge and bribed several jurors at each trial. Dorn says that was what started him to thinking –to being a revolutionist–though he doesn’t call himself that.”

“I should think it would!” cried Miss Hastings. “If my father had known—-” She caught her breath. “But he MUST have known! He was on the train that day.”

“You don’t understand business, Jen. Your father wouldn’t interfere with the management of the corporation .”

“He makes money out of it–doesn’t he?”

“So do we all get money out of corporations that are compelled to do all sorts of queer things. But we can’t abolish the system–we’ve got to reform it. That’s why I’m in politics–and want you—-”

“Something must be done about that,” interrupted Jane. “I shall talk to father—-”

“For heaven’s sake, Jen,” cried David in alarm, “don’t tell your father I’VE been stirring you up. He’s one of the powers in politics in this State, and—-”

“I’ll not give you away, Davy,” said Miss Hastings a little contemptuously. “I want to hear more about this Victor Dorn. I’ll get that money for him and his mother. Is he very poor?”

“Well–you’d call him poor. But he says he has plenty. He runs a small paper. I think he makes about twenty-five dollars a week out of it–and a little more out of lecturing. Then–every once in a while he goes back to his trade–to keep his hand in and enjoy the luxury of earning honest money, as he puts it.”

“How queer!” exclaimed Miss Hastings. “I would like to meet him. Is he–very ignorant?”

“Oh, no–no, indeed. He’s worked his way through college–and law school afterward. Supported the family all the time.”

“He must be tremendously clever.”

“I’ve given you an exaggerated idea of him,” Davy hastened to say. “He’s really an ordinary sort of chap.”

“I should think he’d get rich,” said Miss Hastings. “Most of the men that do–so far as I’ve met them– seem ordinary enough.”

“He says he could get rich, but that he wouldn’t waste time that way. But he’s fond of boasting.”

“You don’t think he could make money–after all he did–going to college and everything?”

“Yes–I guess he could,” reluctantly admitted Davy. Then in a burst of candor: “Perhaps I’m a little jealous of him. If _I_ were thrown on my own resources, I’m afraid I’d make a pretty wretched showing. But–don’t get an exaggerated idea of him. The things I’ve told you sound romantic and unusual. If you met him–saw him every day–you’d realize he’s not at all–at least, not much–out of the ordinary.”

“Perhaps,” said Miss Hastings shrewdly, “perhaps I’m getting a better idea of him than you who see him so often.”

“Oh, you’ll run across him sometime,” said Davy, who was bearing up no better than would the next man under the strain of a woman’s interest in and excitement about another man. “When you do, you’ll get enough in about five minutes. You see, he’s not a gentleman .”

“I’m not sure that I’m wildly crazy about gentlemen– AS gentlemen,” replied the girl. “Very few of the interesting people I’ve read about in history and biography have been gentlemen.”

“And very few of them would have been pleasant to associate with,” rejoined Hull. “You’ll admire Victor as I do. But you’ll feel–as I do–that there’s small excuse for a man who has been educated, who has associated with upper class people, turning round and inciting the lower classes against everything that’s fine and improving.”

It was now apparent to the girl that David Hull was irritatedly jealous of this queer Victor Dorn– was jealous of her interest in him. Her obvious cue was to fan this flame. In no other way could she get any amusement out of Davy’s society; for his tendency was to be heavily serious–and she wanted no more of the too strenuous love making, yet wanted to keep him “on the string.” This jealousy was just the means for her end. Said she innocently: “If it irritates you, Davy, we won’t talk about him.”

“Not at all–not at all,” cried Hull. “I simply thought you’d be getting tired of hearing so much about a man you’d never known.”

“But I feel as if I did know him,” replied she. “Your account of him was so vivid. I thought of asking you to bring him to call.”

Hull laughed heartily. “Victor Dorn–calling!”

“Why not?”

“He doesn’t do that sort of thing. And if he did, how could I bring him here?”

“Why not?”

“Well–in the first place, you are a lady–and he is not in your class. Of course, men can associate with each other in politics and business. But the social side of life–that’s different.”

“But a while ago you were talking about my going in for politics,” said Miss Hastings demurely.

“Still, you’d not have to meet SOCIALLY queer and rough characters—-”

“Is Victor Dorn very rough?”

The interrupting question was like the bite of a big fly to a sweating horse. “I’m getting sick of hearing about him from you,” cried Hull with the pettishness of the spoiled children of the upper class.

“In what way is he rough?” persisted Miss Hastings. “If you didn’t wish to talk about Victor Dorn, why did you bring the subject up?”

“Oh–all right,” cried Hull, restraining himself. “Victor isn’t exactly rough. He can act like a gentleman– when he happens to want to. But you never can tell what he’ll do next.”

“You MUST bring him to call!” exclaimed Miss Hastings.

“Impossible,” said Hull angrily.

“But he’s the only man I’ve heard about since I’ve been home that I’ve taken the least interest in.”

“If he did come, your father would have the servants throw him off the place.”

“Oh, no,” said Hiss Hastings haughtily. “My father wouldn’t insult a guest of mine.”

“But you don’t know, Jen,” cried David. “Why, Victor Dorn attacks your father in the most outrageous way in his miserable little anarchist paper–calls him a thief, a briber, a blood-sucker–a–I’d not venture to repeat to you the things he says.”

“No doubt he got a false impression of father because of that damage suit,” said Miss Hastings mildly. “That was a frightful thing. I can’t be so unjust as to blame him, Davy–can you?”

Hull was silent.

“And I guess father does have to do a lot of things in the course of business—- Don’t all the big men –the leaders?”

“Yes–unfortunately they do,” said Hull. “That’s what gives plausibility to the shrieks of demagogues like Victor Dorn–though Victor is too well educated not to know better than to stir up the ignorant classes.”

“I wonder why he does it,” said Miss Hastings, reflectively. “I must ask him. I want to hear what he says to excuse himself.” In fact, she had not the faintest interest in the views of this queer unknown; her chief reason for saying she had was to enjoy David Hull’s jealousy.

“Before you try to meet Victor,” said Hull, in a constrained, desperate way, “please speak to your father about it.”

“I certainly shall,” replied the girl. “As soon as he comes home this afternoon, I’m going to talk to him about that damage suit. That has got to be straightened out.” An expression of resolution, of gentleness and justice abruptly transformed her face. “You may not believe it, but I have a conscience.” Absently, “A curious sort of a conscience–one that might become very troublesome, I’m afraid–in some circumstances.”

Instantly the fine side of David Hull’s nature was to the fore–the dominant side, for at the first appeal it always responded. “So have I, Jen,” said he. “I think our similarity in that respect is what draws me so strongly to you. And it’s that that makes me hope I can win you. Oh, Jen–there’s so much to be done in the world–and you and I could have such a splendid happy life doing our share of it.”

She was once more looking at him with an encouraging interest. But she said, gently: “Let’s not talk about that any more to-day, Davy.”

“But you’ll think about it?” urged he.

“Yes,” said she. “Let’s be friends–and–and see what happens.”

Hull strolled up to the house with her, but refused to stop for lunch. He pleaded an engagement; but it was one that could–and in other circumstances would –have been broken by telephone. His real reason for hurrying away was fear lest Jane should open out on the subject of Victor Dorn with her father, and, in her ignorance of the truth as to the situation, should implicate him.

She found her father already at home and having a bowl of crackers and milk in a shady corner of the west veranda. He was chewing in the manner of those whose teeth are few and not too secure. His brows were knitted and he looked as if not merely joy but everything except disagreeable sensation had long since fled his life beyond hope of return–an air not uncommon among the world’s successful men. However, at sight of his lovely young daughter his face cleared somewhat and he shot at her from under his wildly and savagely narrowed eyebrows a glance of admiration and tenderness–a quaint expression for those cold, hard features.

Everyone spoke of him behind his back as “Old Morton Hastings.”

In fact, he was barely past sixty, was at an age at which city men of the modern style count themselves young and even entertain–not without reason– hope of being desired of women for other than purely practical reasons. He was born on a farm– was born with an aversion to physical exertion as profound as was his passion for mental exertion. We never shall know how much of its progress the world owes to the physically lazy, mentally tireless men. Those are they who, to save themselves physical exertion, have devised all manner of schemes and machines to save labor. And, at bottom, what is progress but man’s success in his effort to free himself from manual labor –to get everything for himself by the labor of other men and animals and of machines? Naturally his boyhood of toil on the farm did not lessen Martin Hastings’ innate horror of “real work.” He was not twenty when he dropped tools never to take them up again. He was shoeing a horse in the heat of the cool side of the barn on a frightful August day. Suddenly he threw down the hammer and said loudly: “A man that works is a damn fool. I’ll never work again.” And he never did.

As soon as he could get together the money–and it was not long after he set about making others work for him–he bought a buggy, a kind of phaeton, and a safe horse. Thenceforth he never walked a step that could be driven. The result of thirty-five years of this life, so unnatural to an animal that is designed by Nature for walking and is punished for not doing so– the result of a lifetime of this folly was a body shrivelled to a lean brown husk, legs incredibly meagre and so tottery that they scarcely could bear him about. His head–large and finely shaped–seemed so out of proportion that he looked at a glance senile. But no one who had business dealings with him suspected him of senility or any degree of weakness. He spoke in a thin dry voice, shrouded in sardonic humor.

“I don’t care for lunch,” said Jane, dropping to a chair near the side of the table opposite her father. “I had breakfast too late. Besides, I’ve got to look out for my figure. There’s a tendency to fat in our family.”

The old man chuckled. “Me, for instance,” said he.

“Martha, for instance,” replied Jane. Martha was her one sister–married and ten years older than she and spaciously matronly.

“Wasn’t that Davy Hull you were talking to, down in the woods?” inquired her father.

Jane laughed. “You see everything,” said she.

“I didn’t see much when I saw him,” said her father.

Jane was hugely amused. Her father watched her laughter–the dazzling display of fine teeth–with delighted eyes. “You’ve got mighty good teeth, Jenny,” observed he. “Take care of ’em.

You’ll never know what misery is till you’ve got no teeth–or next to none.” He looked disgustedly into his bowl. “Crackers and milk!” grunted he. “No teeth and no digestion. The only pleasure a man of my age can have left is eating, and I’m cheated out of that.”

“So, you wouldn’t approve of my marrying Davy?” said the girl.

Her father grunted–chuckled. “I didn’t say that. Does he want to marry you?”

“I didn’t say that,” retorted Jane. “He’s an unattached young man–and I, being merely a woman, have got to look out for a husband.”

Martin looked gloomy. “There’s no hurry,” said he. “You’ve been away six years. Seems to me you might stay at home a while.”

“Oh, I’d bring him here, popsy I’ve no intention of leaving you.

You were in an awful state, when I came home. That mustn’t ever happen again. And as you won’t live with Martha and Hugo–why, I’ve got to be the victim.”

“Yes–it’s up to you, Miss, to take care of me in my declining years. . . . You can marry Davy–if you want to. Davy–or anybody. I trust to your good sense.”

“If I don’t like him, I can get rid of him,” said the girl.

Her father smiled indulgently. “That’s A LEETLE too up-to-date for an old man like me,” observed he. “The world’s moving fast nowadays. It’s got a long ways from where it was when your ma and I were young.”

“Do you think Davy Hull will make a career?” asked Jane. She had heard from time to time as much as she cared to hear about the world of a generation before –of its bareness and discomfort, its primness, its repulsive piety, its ignorance of all that made life bright and attractive–how it quite overlooked this life in its agitation about the extremely problematic life to come. “I mean a career in politics,” she explained.

The old man munched and smacked for full a minute before he said, “Well, he can make a pretty good speech. Yes–I reckon he could be taken in hand and pushed. He’s got a lot of fool college-bred ideas about reforming things. But he’d soon drop them, if he got into the practical swing. As soon as he had a taste of success, he’d stop being finicky. Just now, he’s one of those nice, pure chaps who stand off and tell how things ought to be done. But he’d get over that.”

Jane smiled peculiarly–half to herself. “Yes–I think he would. In fact, I’m sure he would.” She looked at her father. “Do you think he amounts to as much as Victor Dorn?” she asked, innocently.

The old man dropped a half raised spoonful of milk and crackers into the bowl with a splash. “Dorn– he’s a scoundrel!” he exclaimed, shaking with passion. “I’m going to have that dirty little paper of his stopped and him put out of town. Impudent puppy!–foul- mouthed demagogue! I’ll SHOW him!”

“Why, he doesn’t amount to anything, father,” remonstrated the girl. “He’s nothing but a common working man–isn’t he?”

“That’s all he is–the hound!” replied Martin Hastings. A look of cruelty, of tenacious cruelty, had come into his face. It would have startled a stranger. But his daughter had often seen it; and it did not disturb her, as it had never appeared for anything that in any way touched her life. “I’ve let him hang on here too long,” went on the old man, to himself rather than to her. “First thing I know he’ll be dangerous.”

“If he’s worth while I should think you’d hire him,” remarked Jane shrewdly.

“I wouldn’t have such a scoundrel in my employ,” cried her father.

“Oh, maybe,” pursued the daughter, “maybe you couldn’t hire him.”

“Of course I could,” scoffed Hastings. “Anybody can be hired.”

“I don’t believe it,” said the girl bluntly.

“One way or another,” declared the old man. “That Dorn boy isn’t worth the price he’d want.”

“What price would he want?” asked Jane.

“How should I know?” retorted her father angrily.

“You’ve tried to hire him–haven’t you?” persisted she.

The father concentrated on his crackers and milk. Presently he said: “What did that fool Hull boy say about Dorn to you?”

“He doesn’t like him,” replied Jane. “He seems to be jealous of him–and opposed to his political views.”

“Dorn’s views ain’t politics. They’re–theft and murder and highfalutin nonsense,” said Hastings, not unconscious of his feeble anti-climax.

“All the same, he–or rather, his mother–ought to have got damages from the railway,” said the girl. And there was a sudden and startling shift in her expression –to a tenacity as formidable as her father’s own, but a quiet and secret tenacity.

Old Hastings wiped his mouth and began fussing uncomfortably with a cigar.

“I don’t blame him for getting bitter and turning against society,” continued she. “I’d have done the same thing–and so would you.”

Hastings lit the cigar. “They wanted ten thousand dollars,” he said, almost apologetically. “Why, they never saw ten thousand cents they could call their own.”

“But they lost their bread-winner, father,” pleaded the girl. “And there were young children to bring up and educate. Oh, I hate to think that–that we had anything to do with such a wrong.”

“It wasn’t a wrong, Jen–as I used to tell your ma,” said the old man, much agitated and shrill of voice. “It was just the course of business. The law was with our company.”

Jane said nothing. She simply gazed steadily at her father. He avoided her glance.

“I don’t want to hear no more about it,” he burst out with abrupt violence. “Not another word!”

“Father, I want it settled–and settled right,” said the girl. “I ask it as a favor. Don’t do it as a matter of business, but as a matter of sentiment.”

He shifted uneasily, debating. When he spoke he was even more explosive than before. “Not a cent! Not a red! Give that whelp money to run his crazy paper on? Not your father, while he keeps his mind.”

“But–mightn’t that quiet him?” pleaded she. “What’s the use of having war when you can have peace? You’ve always laughed at people who let their prejudices stand in the way of their interests. You’ve always laughed at how silly and stupid and costly enmities and revenges are. Now’s your chance to illustrate, popsy.” And she smiled charmingly at him.

He was greatly softened by her manner–and by the wisdom of what she said–a wisdom in which, as in a mirror, he recognized with pleasure her strong resemblance to himself. “That wouldn’t be a bad idea, Jen,” said he after reflection, “IF I could get a guarantee.”

“But why not do it generously?” urged the girl. “Generosity inspires generosity. You’ll make him ashamed of himself.”

With a cynical smile on his shrivelled face the old man slowly shook his big head that made him look as top-heavy as a newborn baby. “That isn’t as smart, child, as what you said before. It’s in them things that the difference between theory and practice shows. He’d take the money and laugh at me. No, I’ll try to get a guarantee.” He nodded and chuckled. “Yes, that was a good idea of yours, Jen.”

“But–isn’t it just possible that he is a man with– with principles of a certain kind?” suggested she.

“Of course, he THINKS so,” said Hastings. “They all do. But you don’t suppose a man of any sense at all could really care about and respect working class people?–ignorant, ungrateful fools. _I_ know ’em. Didn’t I come from among ’em? Ain’t I dealt with ’em all my life? No, that there guy Dorn’s simply trying to get up, and is using them to step up on. I did the same thing, only I did it in a decent, law-abiding way. I didn’t want to tear down those that was up. I wanted to go up and join ’em. And I did.”

And his eyes glistened fondly and proudly as he gazed at his daughter. She represented the climax of his rising–she, the lady born and bred, in her beautiful clothes, with her lovely, delicate charms. Yes, he had indeed “come up,” and there before him was the superb tangible evidence of it.

Jane had the strongest belief in her father’s worldly wisdom. At the same time, from what David Hull said she had got an impression of a something different from the ordinary human being in this queer Victor Dorn. “You’d better move slowly,” she said to her father. “There’s no hurry, and you might be mistaken in him.”

“Plenty of time,” asserted her father. “There’s never any need to hurry about giving up money.” Then, with one of those uncanny flashes of intuition for which he, who was never caught napping, was famous, he said to her sharply: “You keep your hands off, miss.”

She was thrown into confusion–and her embarrassment enraged her against herself. “What could _I_ do?” she retorted with a brave attempt at indifference.

“Well–keep your hands off, miss,” said the old man. “No female meddling in business. I’ll stand for most anything, but not for that.”

Jane was now all eagerness for dropping the subject. She wished no further prying of that shrewd mind into her secret thoughts. “It’s hardly likely I’d meddle where I know nothing about the circumstances,” said she. “Will you drive me down to Martha’s?”

This request was made solely to change the subject, to shift her father to his favorite topic for family conversation–his daughter Martha, Mrs. Hugo Galland, her weakness for fashionable pastimes, her incessant hints and naggings at her father about his dowdy dress, his vulgar mannerisms of speech and of conduct, especially at table. Jane had not the remotest intention of letting her father drive her to Mrs. Galland’s, or anywhere, in the melancholy old phaeton-buggy, behind the fat old nag whose coat was as shabby as the coat of the master or as the top and the side curtains of the sorrowful vehicle it drew along at caterpillar pace.

When her father was ready to depart for his office in the Hastings Block–the most imposing office building in Remsen City, Jane announced a change of mind.

“I’ll ride, instead,” said she. “I need the exercise, and the day isn’t too warm.”

“All right,” said Martin Hastings grumpily. He soon got enough of anyone’s company, even of his favorite daughter’s. Through years of habit he liked to jog about alone, revolving in his mind his business affairs–counting in fancy his big bundles of securities, one by one, calculating their returns past, present and prospective–reviewing the various enterprises in which he was dominant factor, working out schemes for getting more profit here, for paying less wages there, for tightening his grip upon this enterprise, for dumping his associates in that, for escaping with all the valuable assets from another. His appearance, as he and his nag dozed along the highroad, was as deceptive as that of a hive of bees on a hot day–no signs of life except a few sleepy workers crawling languidly in and out at the low, broad crack-door, yet within myriads toiling like mad.

Jane went up to dress. She had brought an Italian maid with her from Florence, and a mass of baggage that had given the station loungers at Remsen City something to talk about, when there was a dearth of new subjects, for the rest of their lives. She had transformed her own suite in the second story of the big old house into an appearance of the quarters of a twentieth century woman of wealth and leisure. In the sitting room were books in four languages; on the walls were tasteful reproductions of her favorite old masters. The excellence of her education was attested not by the books and pictures but by the absence of those fussy, commonplace draperies and bits of bric-a-brac where– with people of no taste and no imagination furnish their houses because they can think of nothing else to fill in the gaps.

Many of Jane’s ways made Sister Martha uneasy. For Martha, while admitting that Jane through superior opportunity ought to know, could not believe that the “right sort” of people on the other side had thrown over all her beloved formalities and were conducting themselves distressingly like tenement-house people. For instance, Martha could not approve Jane’s habit of smoking cigarettes–a habit which, by one of those curious freaks of character, enormously pleased her father. But–except in one matter–Martha entirely approved Jane’s style of dress. She hastened to pronounce it “just too elegant” and repeated that phrase until Jane, tried beyond endurance, warned her that the word elegant was not used seriously by people of the “right sort” and that its use was regarded as one of those small but subtle signs of the loathsome “middle class.”

The one thing in Jane’s dress that Martha disapproved– or, rather, shied at–was her riding suit. This was an extremely noisy plaid man’s suit–for Jane rode astride. Martha could not deny that Jane looked “simply stunning” when seated on her horse and dressed in that garb with her long slim feet and graceful calves encased in a pair of riding boots that looked as if they must have cost “something fierce.” But was it really “ladylike”? Hadn’t Jane made a mistake and adopted a costume worn only by the fashionables among the demi-mondaines of whom Martha had read and had heard such dreadful, delightful stories?

It was the lively plaid that Miss Hastings now clad herself in. She loved that suit. Not only did it give her figure a superb opportunity but also it brought out new beauties in her contour and coloring. And her head was so well shaped and her hair grew so thickly about brow and ears and nape of neck that it looked full as well plaited and done close as when it was framing her face and half concealing, half revealing her charming ears in waves of changeable auburn. After a lingering–and pardonably pleased–look at herself in a long mirror, she descended, mounted and rode slowly down toward town.

The old Galland homestead was at the western end of town–in a quarter that had become almost poor. But it was so dignified and its grounds were so extensive that it suggested a manor house with the humble homes of the lord’s dependents clustering about it for shelter. To reach it Jane had to ride through two filthy streets lined with factories. As she rode she glanced at the windows, where could be seen in dusty air girls and boys busy at furiously driven machines– machines that compelled their human slaves to strain every nerve in the monotonous task of keeping them occupied. Many of the girls and boys paused long enough for a glance at the figure of the man-clad girl on the big horse.

Jane, happy in the pleasant sunshine, in her beauty and health and fine raiment and secure and luxurious position in the world, gave a thought of pity to these imprisoned young people. “How lucky I am,” she thought, “not to have been born like that. Of course, we all have our falls now and then. But while they always strike on the hard ground, I’ve got a feather bed to fall on.”

When she reached Martha’s and was ushered into the cool upstairs sitting room, in somehow ghastly contrast to the hot rooms where the young working people sweated and strained, the subject persisted in its hold on her thoughts. There was Martha, in comfortable, corsetless expansiveness–an ideal illustration of the worthless idler fattening in purposelessness. She was engaged with all her energies in preparing for the ball Hugo Galland’s sister, Mrs. Bertrand, was giving at the assembly rooms that night.

“I’ve been hard at it for several days now,” said she. “I think at last I see daylight. But I want your opinion.”

Jane gazed absently at the dress and accompanying articles that had been assembled with so much labor. “All right,” said she. “You’ll look fine and dandy.”

Martha twitched. “Jane, dear–don’t say that– don’t use such an expression. I know it’s your way of joking. But lots of people would think you didn’t know any better.”

“Let ’em think,” said Jane. “I say and do as I please.”

Martha sighed. Here was one member of her family who could be a credit, who could make people forget the unquestionably common origin of the Hastingses and of the Morleys. Yet this member was always breaking out into something mortifying, something reminiscent of the farm and of the livery stable–for the deceased Mrs. Hastings had been daughter of a livery stable keeper–in fact, had caught Martin Hastings by the way she rode her father’s horses at a sale at a county fair. Said Martha:

“You haven’t really looked at my clothes, Jane. Why DID you go back to calling yourself Jane?”

“Because it’s my name,” replied her sister.

“I know that. But you hated it and changed it to Jeanne, which is so much prettier.”

“I don’t think so any more,” replied Miss Hastings. “My taste has improved. Don’t be so horribly middle class, Martha–ashamed of everything simple and natural.”

“You think you know it all–don’t you?–just because you’ve lived abroad,” said Martha peevishly.

“On the contrary, I don’t know one-tenth as much as I thought I did, when I came back from Wellesley with a diploma.”

“Do you like my costume?” inquired Martha, eying her finery with the fond yet dubious expression of the woman who likes her own taste but is not sure about its being good taste.

“What a lazy, worthless pair we are!” exclaimed Jane, hitting her boot leg a tremendous rap with her little cane.

Martha startled. “Good God–Jane–what is it?” she cried.

“On the way here I passed a lot of factories,” pursued Jane. “Why should those people have to work like–like the devil, while we sit about planning ball dresses?”

Martha settled back comfortably. “I feel so sorry for those poor people,” said she, absently sympathetic.

“But why?” demanded Jane. “WHY? Why should we be allowed to idle while they have to slave? What have we done–what are we doing–to entitle us to ease? What have they done to condemn them to pain and toil?”

“You know very well, Jane, that we represent the finer side of life.”

“Slop!” ejaculated Jane.

“For pity’s sake, don’t let’s talk politics,” wailed Martha. “I know nothing about politics. I haven’t any brains for that sort of thing.”

“Is that politics?” inquired Jane. “I thought politics meant whether the Democrats or the Republicans or the reformers were to get the offices and the chance to steal.”

“Everything’s politics, nowadays,” said Martha, comparing the color of the material of her dress with the color of her fat white arm. “As Hugo says, that Victor Dorn is dragging everything into politics–even our private business of how we make and spend our own money.”

Jane sat down abruptly. “Victor Dorn,” she said in a strange voice. “WHO is Victor Dorn? WHAT is Victor Dorn? It seems that I can hear of nothing but Victor Dorn to-day.”

“He’s too low to talk about,” said Martha, amiable and absent.


“Politics,” replied Martha. “Really, he is horrid, Jane.”

“To look at?”

“No–not to look at. He’s handsome in a way. Not at all common looking. You might take him for a gentleman, if you didn’t know.

Still–he always dresses peculiarly–always wears soft hats. I think soft hats are SO vulgar–don’t you?”

“How hopelessly middle-class you are, Martha,” mocked Jane.

“Hugo would as soon think of going in the street in a–in a–I don’t know what.”

“Hugo is the finest flower of American gentleman. That is, he’s the quintessence of everything that’s nice –and `nasty.’ I wish I were married to him for a week. I love Hugo, but he gives me the creeps.” She rose and tramped restlessly about the room. “You both give me the creeps. Everything conventional gives me the creeps. If I’m not careful I’ll dress myself in a long shirt, let down my hair and run wild.”

“What nonsense you do talk,” said Martha composedly.

Jane sat down abruptly. “So I do!” she said. “I’m as poor a creature as you at bottom. I simply like to beat against the bars of my cage to make myself think I’m a wild, free bird by nature. If you opened the door, I’d not fly out, but would hop meekly back to my perch and fall to smoothing my feathers. . . . Tell me some more about Victor Dorn.”

“I told you he isn’t fit to talk about,” said Martha. “Do you know, they say now that he is carrying on with that shameless, brazen thing who writes for his paper, that Selma Gordon?”

“Selma Gordon,” echoed Jane. Her brows came down in a gesture reminiscent of her father, and there was a disagreeable expression about her mouth and in her light brown eyes. “Who’s Selma Gordon?”

“She makes speeches–and writes articles against rich people–and–oh, she’s horrid.”


“No–a scrawny, black thing. The men–some of them–say she’s got a kind of uncanny fascination. Some even insist that she’s beautiful.” Martha laughed. “Beautiful! How could a woman with black hair and a dark skin and no flesh on her bones be beautiful?”

“It has been known to happen,” said Jane curtly. “Is she one of THE Gordons?”

“Mercy, no!” cried Martha Galland. “She simply took the name of Gordon–that is, her father did. He was a Russian peasant–a Jew. And he fell in love with a girl who was of noble family–a princess, I think.”

“Princess doesn’t mean much in Russia,” said Jane sourly.

“Anyhow, they ran away to this country. And he worked in the rolling mill here–and they both died– and Selma became a factory girl–and then took to writing for the New Day–that’s Victor Dorn’s paper, you know.”

“How romantic,” said Jane sarcastically. “And now Victor Dorn’s in love with her?”

“I didn’t say that,” replied Martha, with a scandal- smile.

Jane Hastings went to the window and gazed out into the garden. Martha resumed her habitual warm day existence–sat rocking gently and fanning herself and looking leisurely about the room. Presently she said:

“Jane, why don’t you marry Davy Hull?”

No answer.

“He’s got an independent income–so there’s no question of his marrying for money. And there isn’t any family anywhere that’s better than his–mighty few as good. And he’s DEAD in love with you, Jen.”

With her back still turned Jane snapped, “I’d rather marry Victor Dorn.”

“What OUTRAGEOUS things you do say!” cried Martha.

“I envy that black Jewess–that–what’s her name? –that Selma Gordon.”

“You don’t even know them,” said Martha.

Jane wheeled round with a strange laugh. “Don’t I?” cried she.

“I don’t know anyone else.”

She strode to her sister and tapped her lightly on the shoulder with the riding stick.

“Be careful,” cautioned Martha. “You know how easily my flesh mars–and I’m going to wear my low neck to-night.”

Jane did not heed. “David Hull is a bore–and a fraud,” she said. “I tell you I’d rather marry Victor Dorn.”

“Do be careful about my skin, dear,” pleaded Martha. “Hugo’ll be SO put out if there’s a mark on it. He’s very proud of my skin.”

Jane looked at her quizzically. “What a dear, fat old rotter of a respectability it is, to be sure,” said she –and strode from the room, and from the house.

Her mood of perversity and defiance did not yield to a ten mile gallop over the gentle hills of that lovely part of Indiana, but held on through the afternoon and controlled her toilet for the ball. She knew that every girl in town would appear at that most fashionable party of the summer season in the best clothing she could get together. As she had several dresses from Paris which she not without reason regarded as notable works of art, the opportunity to outshine was hers– the sort of opportunity she took pleasure in using to the uttermost, as a rule. But to be the best dressed woman at Mrs. Bertram’s party was too easy and too commonplace. To be the worst dressed would call for courage –of just the sort she prided herself on having. Also, it would look original, would cause talk–would give her the coveted sense of achievement.

When she descended to show herself to her father and say good night to him, she was certainly dressed by the same pattern that caused him to be talked about throughout that region. Her gown was mussed, had been mended obviously in several places, had not been in its best day becoming. But this was not all. Her hair looked stringy and dishevelled. She was delighted with herself. Except during an illness two years before never had she come so near to being downright homely. “Martha will die of shame,” said she to herself. “And Mrs. Bertram will spend the evening explaining me to everybody.” She did not definitely formulate the thought, “And I shall be the most talked about person of the evening”; but it was in her mind none the less.

Her father always smoked his after-dinner cigar in a little room just off the library. It was filled up with the plain cheap furniture and the chromos and mottoes which he and his wife had bought when they first went to housekeeping–in their early days of poverty and struggle. On the south wall was a crude and cheap, but startlingly large enlargement of an old daguerreotype of Letitia Hastings at twenty-four–the year after her marriage and the year before the birth of the oldest child, Robert, called Dock, now piling up a fortune as an insider in the Chicago “brave” game of wheat and pork, which it is absurd to call gambling because gambling involves chance. To smoke the one cigar the doctor allowed him, old Martin Hastings always seated himself before this picture. He found it and his thoughts the best company in the world, just as he had found her silent self and her thoughts the best company in their twenty-one years of married life. As he sat there, sometimes he thought of her–of what they had been through together, of the various advances in his fortune–how this one had been made near such and such anniversary, and that one between two other anniversaries–and what he had said to her and what she had said to him. Again–perhaps oftener–he did not think of her directly, any more than he had thought of her when they sat together evening after evening, year in and year out, through those twenty-one years of contented and prosperous life.

As Jane entered he, seated back to the door, said:

“About that there Dorn damage suit—-”

Jane started, caught her breath. Really, it was uncanny, this continual thrusting of Victor Dorn at her.

“It wasn’t so bad as it looked,” continued her father. He was speaking in the quiet voice–quiet and old and sad–he always used when seated before the picture.

“You see, Jenny, in them days”–also, in presence of the picture he lapsed completely into the dialect of his youth–“in them days the railroad was teetering and I couldn’t tell which way things’d jump. Every cent counted.”

“I understand perfectly, father,” said Jane, her hands on his shoulders from behind. She felt immensely relieved. She did not realize that every doer of a mean act always has an excellent excuse for it.

“Then afterwards,” the old man went on, “the family was getting along so well–the boy was working steady and making good money and pushing ahead–and I was afeared I’d do harm instead of good. It’s mighty dangerous, Jen, to give money sudden to folks that ain’t used to it. I’ve seen many a smash-up come that way. And your ma–she thought so, too–kind of.”

The “kind of” was advanced hesitatingly, with an apologetic side glance at the big crayon portrait. But Jane was entirely convinced. She was average human; therefore, she believed what she wished to believe.

“You were quite right, father,” said she. “I knew you couldn’t do a bad thing–wouldn’t deliberately strike at weak, helpless people. And now, it can be straightened out and the Dorns will be all the better for not having been tempted in the days when it might have ruined them.”

She had walked round where her father could see her, as she delivered herself of this speech so redolent of the fumes of collegiate smugness. He proceeded to examine her–with an expression of growing dissatisfaction. Said he fretfully:

“You don’t calculate to go out, looking like that?”

“Out to the swellest blow-out of the year, popsy,” said she.

The big heavy looking head wobbled about uneasily. “You look too much like your old pappy’s daughter,” said he.

“I can afford to,” replied she.

The head shook positively. “You ma wouldn’t ‘a liked it. She was mighty partic’lar how she dressed.”

Jane laughed gayly. “Why, when did you become a critic of women’s dress?” cried she.

“I always used to buy yer ma dresses and hats when I went to the city,” said he. “And she looked as good as the best–not for these days, but for them times.” He looked critically at the portrait. “I bought them clothes and awful dear they seemed to me.” His glance returned to his daughter. “Go get yourself up proper,” said he, between request and command. “SHE wouldn’t ‘a liked it.”

Jane gazed at the common old crayon, suddenly flung her arms round the old man’s neck. “Yes– father,” she murmured. “To please HER.”

She fled; the old man wiped his eyes, blew his nose and resumed the careful smoking of the cheap, smelly cigar. He said he preferred that brand of his days of poverty; and it was probably true, as he would refuse better cigars offered him by fastidious men who hoped to save themselves from the horrors of his. He waited restlessly, though it was long past his bedtime; he yawned and pretended to listen while Davy Hull, who had called for Jane in the Hull brougham, tried to make a favorable impression upon him. At last Jane reappeared– and certainly Letitia Hastings would have been more than satisfied.

“Sorry to keep you waiting,” said she to Hull, who was speechless and tremulous before her voluptuous radiance. “But father didn’t like the way I was rigged out. Maybe I’ll have to change again.”

“Take her along, Davy,” said Hastings, his big head wagging with delight. “She’s a caution–SHE is!”

Hull could not control himself to speak. As they sat in the carriage, she finishing the pulling on of her gloves, he stared out into the heavy rain that was deluging the earth and bending low the boughs. Said she, half way down the hill:

“Well–can’t you talk about anything but Victor Dorn?”

“I saw him this afternoon,” said Hull, glad that the tension of the silence was broken.

“Then you’ve got something to talk about.”

“The big street car strike is on.”

“So father said at dinner. I suppose Victor Dorn caused it.”

“No–he’s opposed to it. He’s queer. I don’t exactly understand his ideas. He says strikes are ridiculous– that it’s like trying to cure smallpox by healing up one single sore.”

Jane gave a shiver of lady-like disgust. “How– nasty,” said she.

“I’m telling you what he said. But he says that the only way human beings learn how to do things right is by doing them wrong–so while he’s opposed to strikes he’s also in favor of them.”

“Even _I_ understand that,” said Jane. “I don’t think it’s difficult.”

“Doesn’t it strike you as–as inconsistent?”

“Oh–bother consistency!” scoffed the girl. “That’s another middle class virtue that sensible people loathe as a vice.”

Anyhow, he’s helping the strikers all he can–and fighting US. You know, your father and my father’s estate are the two biggest owners of the street railways.”

“I must get his paper,” said Jane. “I’ll have a lot of fun reading the truth about us.”

But David wasn’t listening. He was deep in thought. After a while he said: “It’s amazing–and splendid– and terrible, what power he’s getting in our town. Victor Dorn, I mean.”

“Always Victor Dorn,” mocked Jane.

“When he started–twelve years ago as a boy of twenty, just out of college and working as a carpenter –when he started, he was alone and poor, and without friends or anything. He built up little by little, winning one man at a time–the fellow working next him on his right, then the chap working on his left–in the shop–and so on, one man after another. And whenever he got a man he held him–made him as devoted– as–as fanatical as he is himself. Now he’s got a band of nearly a thousand. There are ten thousand voters in this town. So, he’s got only one in ten. But what a thousand!”

Jane was gazing out into the rain, her eyes bright, her lips parted.

“Are you listening?” asked Hull. “Or, am I boring you?”

“Go on,” said she.

“They’re a thousand missionaries–apostles–yes, apostle is the name for them. They live and breathe and think and talk only the ideas Victor Dorn believes and fights for. And whenever he wants anything done –anything for the cause–why, there are a thousand men ready to do it.”

“Why?” said Jane.

“Victor Dorn,” said Hull. “Do you wonder that he interests me? For instance, to-night: you see how it’s raining. Well, Victor Dorn had them print to-day fifty thousand leaflets about this strike–what it means to his cause. And he has asked five hundred of his men to stand on the corners and patrol the streets and distribute those dodgers. I’ll bet not a man will be missing.”

“But why?” repeated Jane. “What for?”

“He wants to conquer this town. He says the world has to be conquered–and that the way to begin is to begin–and that he has begun.”

“Conquer it for what?”

“For himself, I guess,” said Hull. “Of course, he professes that it’s for the public good. They all do. But what’s the truth?”

“If I saw him I could tell you,” said Jane in the full pride of her belief in her woman’s power of divination in character.

“However, he can’t succeed,” observed Hull.

“Oh, yes, he can,” replied Jane. “And will. Even if every idea he had were foolish and wrong. And it isn’t–is it?”

David laughed peculiarly. “He’s infernally uncomfortably right in most of the things he charges and proposes. I don’t like to think about it.” He shut his teeth together. “I WON’T think about it,” he muttered.

“No–you’d better stick to your own road, Davy,” said Jane with irritating mockery. “You were born to be thoroughly conventional and respectable. As a reformer you’re ideal. As a–an imitator of Victor Dorn, you’d be a joke.”

“There’s one of his men now,” exclaimed Hull, leaning forward excitedly.

Jane looked. A working man, a commonplace enough object, was standing under the corner street lamp, the water running off his hat, his shoulders, his coat tail. His package of dodgers was carefully shielded by an oilcloth from the wet which had full swing at the man. To every passer-by he presented a dodger, accompanying the polite gesture with some phrase which seemed to move the man or woman to take what was offered and to put it away instead of dropping it.

Jane sank back in the carriage, disappointed. “Is that all?” said she disdainfully.

“ALL?” cried Hull. “Use your imagination, Jen. But I forgot–you’re a woman. They see only surfaces.”

“And are snared into marrying by complexions and pretty features and dresses and silly flirting tricks,” retorted the girl sarcastically.

Hull laughed. “I spoke too quick that time,” said he. “I suppose you expected to see something out of a fifteenth century Italian old master! Well–it was there, all right.”

Jane shrugged her shoulders. “And your Victor Dorn,” said she, “no doubt he’s seated in some dry, comfortable place enjoying the thought of his men making fools of themselves for him.”

They were drawing up to the curb before the Opera House where were the assembly rooms. “There he is now,” cried Hull.

Jane, startled, leaned eagerly forward. In the rain beyond the edge of the awning stood a dripping figure not unlike that other which had so disappointed her. Underneath the brim of the hat she could see a smooth- shaven youngish face–almost boyish. But the rain streaming from the brim made satisfactory scrutiny impossible.

Jane again sank back. “How many carriages before us?” she said.

“You’re disappointed in him, too, I suppose,” said Hull. “I knew you would be.”

“I thought he was tall,” said Jane.

“Only middling,” replied Hull, curiously delighted.

“I thought he was serious,” said Jane.

“On the contrary, he’s always laughing. He’s the best natured man I know.”

As they descended and started along the carpet under the middle of the awning, Jane halted. She glanced toward the dripping figure whom the police would not permit under the shelter. Said she: “I want one of those papers.”

Davy moved toward the drenched distributor of strike literature. “Give me one, Dorn,” he said in his most elegant manner.

“Sure, Davy,” said Dorn in a tone that was a subtle commentary on Hull’s aristocratic tone and manner. As he spoke he glanced at Jane; she was looking at him. Both smiled–at Davy’s expense.

Davy and Jane passed on in, Jane folding the dodger to tuck it away for future reading. She said to him: “But you didn’t tell me about his eyes.”

“What’s the matter with them?”

“Everything,” replied she–and said no more.


The dance was even more tiresome than Jane had anticipated. There had been little pleasure in outshining the easily outshone belles of Remsen City. She had felt humiliated by having to divide the honors with a brilliantly beautiful and scandalously audacious Chicago girl, a Yvonne Hereford–whose style, in looks, in dress and in wit, was more comfortable to the standard of the best young men of Remsen City–a standard which Miss Hastings, cultivated by foreign travel and social adventure, regarded as distinctly poor, not to say low. Miss Hereford’s audacities were especially offensive to Jane. Jane was audacious herself, but she flattered herself that she had a delicate sense of that baffling distinction between the audacity that is the hall mark of the lady and the audacity that proclaims the not-lady. For example, in such apparently trifling matters as the way of smoking a cigarette, the way of crossing the legs or putting the elbows on the table or using slang, Jane found a difference, abysmal though narrow, between herself and Yvonne Hereford. “But then, her very name gives her away,” reflected Jane. “There’d surely be a frightfully cheap streak in a mother who in this country would name her daughter Yvonne–or in a girl who would name herself that.”

However, Jane Hastings was not deeply annoyed either by the shortcomings of Remsen City young men or by the rivalry of Miss Hereford. Her dissatisfaction was personal–the feeling of futility, of cheapness, in having dressed herself in her best and spent a whole evening at such unworthy business. “Whatever I am or am not fit for,” said she to herself, “I’m not for society–any kind of society. At least I’m too much grown-up mentally for that.” Her disdainful thoughts about others were, on this occasion as almost always, merely a mode of expressing her self-scorn.

As she was undressing she found in her party bag the dodger Hull had got for her from Victor Dorn. She, sitting at her dressing table, started to read it at once. But her attention soon wandered. “I’m not in the mood,” she said. “To-morrow.” And she tossed it into the top drawer. The fact was, the subject of politics interested her only when some man in whom she was interested was talking it to her. In a general way she understood things political, but like almost all women and all but a few men she could fasten her attention only on things directly and clearly and nearly related to her own interests. Politics seemed to her to be not at all related to her–or, indeed, to anybody but the men running for office. This dodger was politics, pure and simple. A plea to workingmen to awaken to the fact that their STRIKES were stupid and wasteful, that the way to get better pay and decent hours of labor was by uniting, taking possession of the power that was rightfully theirs and regulating their own affairs.

She resumed fixing her hair for the night. Her glance bent steadily downward at one stage of this performance, rested unseeingly upon the handbill folded printed side out and on top of the contents of the open drawer. She happened to see two capital letters– S. G.–in a line by themselves at the end of the print. She repeated them mechanically several times–“S. G. –S. G.–S. G.”–then her hands fell from her hair upon the handbill. She settled herself to read in earnest.

“Selma Gordon,” she said. “That’s different.”

She would have had some difficulty in explaining to herself why it was “different.” She read closely, concentratedly now. She tried to read in an attitude of unfriendly criticism, but she could not. A dozen lines, and the clear, earnest, honest sentences had taken hold of her. How sensible the statements were, and how obviously true. Why, it wasn’t the writing of an “anarchistic crank” at all–on the contrary, the writer was if anything more excusing toward the men who were giving the drivers and motormen a dollar and ten cents a day for fourteen hours’ work–“fourteen hours!” cried Jane, her cheeks burning–yes, Selma Gordon was more tolerant of the owners of the street car line than Jane herself would have been.

When Jane had read, she gazed at the print with sad envy in her eyes. “Selma Gordon can think–and she can write, too,” said she half aloud. “I want to know her–too.”

That “too” was the first admission to herself of a curiously intense desire to meet Victor Dorn.

“Oh, to be in earnest about something! To have a real interest!

To find something to do besides the nursery games disguised under new forms for the grown-up yet never to be grown-up infants of the world. “And THAT kind of politics doesn’t sound shallow and dull. There’s heart in it–and brains–real brains–not merely nasty little self-seeking cunning.” She took up the handbill again and read a paragraph set in bolder type:

“The reason we of the working class are slaves is because we haven’t intelligence enough to be our own masters, let alone masters of anybody else. The talk of equality, workingmen, is nonsense to flatter your silly, ignorant vanity. We are not the equals of our masters. They know more than we do, and naturally they use that knowledge to make us work for them. So, even if you win in this strike or in all your strikes, you will not much better yourselves. Because you are ignorant and foolish, your masters will scheme around and take from you in some other way what you have wrenched from them in the strike.

“Organize! Think! Learn! Then you will rise out of the dirt where you wallow with your wives and your children. Don’t blame your masters; they don’t enslave you. They don’t keep you in slavery. Your chains are of your own forging and only you can strike them off!”

Certainly no tenement house woman could be lazier, emptier of head, more inane of life than her sister Martha. “She wouldn’t even keep clean if it wasn’t the easiest thing in the world for her to do, and a help at filling in her long idle day.” Yet–Martha Galland had every comfort and most of the luxuries, was as sheltered from all the hardships as a hot-house flower. Then there was Hugo–to go no further afield than the family. Had he ever done an honest hour’s work in his life? Could anyone have less brains than he? Yet Hugo was rich and respected, was a director in big corporations, was a member of a first-class law firm. “It isn’t fair,” thought the girl. “I’ve always felt it. I see now why. It’s a bad system of taking from the many for the benefit of us few. And it’s kept going by a few clever, strong men like father. They work for themselves and their families and relatives and for their class–and the rest of the people have to suffer.”

She did not fall asleep for several hours, such was the tumult in her aroused brain. The first thing the next morning she went down town, bought copies of the New Day–for that week and for a few preceding weeks–and retreated to her favorite nook in her father’s grounds to read and to think–and to plan. She searched the New Day in vain for any of the wild, wandering things Davy and her father had told her Victor Dorn was putting forth. The four pages of each number were given over either to philosophical articles no more “anarchistic” than Emerson’s essays, not so much so as Carlyle’s, or to plain accounts of the current stealing by the politicians of Remsen City, of the squalor and disease–danger in the tenements, of the outrages by the gas and water and street car companies. There was much that was terrible, much that was sad, much that was calculated to make an honest heart burn with indignation against those who were cheerily sacrificing the whole community to their desire for profits and dividends and graft, public and private. But there was also a great deal of humor–of rather a sardonic kind, but still seeing the fantastic side of this grand game of swindle.

Two paragraphs made an especial impression on her:

“Remsen City is no worse–and no better–than other American cities. It’s typical. But we who live here needn’t worry about the rest of the country. The thing for us to do is to CLEAN UP AT HOME.”

“We are more careful than any paper in this town about verifying every statement we make, before we make it. If we should publish a single statement about anyone that was false even in part we would be suppressed. The judges, the bosses, the owners of the big blood-sucking public service corporations, the whole ruling class, are eager to put us out of existence. Don’t forget this fact when you hear the New Day called a lying, demagogical sheet.”

With the paper beside her on the rustic bench, she fell to dreaming–not of a brighter and better world, of a wiser and freer race, but of Victor Dorn, the personality that had unaided become such a power in Remsen City, the personality that sparkled and glowed in the interesting pages of the New Day, that made its sentences read as if they were spoken into your very ears by an earnest, honest voice issuing from a fascinating, humor-loving, intensely human and natural person before your very eyes. But it was not round Victor Dorn’s brain that her imagination played.

“After all,” thought she, “Napoleon wasn’t much over five feet. Most of the big men have been little men. Of course, there were Alexander–and Washington– and Lincoln, but–how silly to bother about a few inches of height, more or less! And he wasn’t really SHORT. Let me see–how high did he come on Davy when Davy was standing near him? Above his shoulder –and Davy’s six feet two or three. He’s at least as tall as I am–anyhow, in my ordinary heels.”

She was attracted by both the personalities she discovered in the little journal. She believed she could tell them apart. About some of the articles, the shorter ones, she was doubtful. But in those of any length she could feel that difference which enables one to distinguish the piano touch of a player in another room– whether it is male or female. Presently she was searching for an excuse for scraping acquaintance with this pair of pariahs–pariahs so far as her world was concerned. And soon she found it. The New Day was taking subscriptions for a fund to send sick children and their mothers to the country for a vacation from the dirt and heat of the tenements–for Remsen City, proud though it was and boastful of its prosperity, housed most of its inhabitants in slums–though of course that low sort of people oughtn’t really to be counted–except for purposes of swelling census figures– and to do all the rough and dirty work necessary to keep civilization going.

She would subscribe to this worthy charity–and would take her subscription, herself. Settled–easily and well settled. She did not involve herself, or commit herself in any way. Besides, those who might find out and might think she had overstepped the bounds would excuse her on the ground that she had not been back at home long and did not realize what she was doing.

What should she wear?

Her instinct was for an elaborate toilet–a descent in state–or such state as the extremely limited resources of Martin Hastings’ stables would permit. The traps he had ordered for her had not yet come; she had been glad to accept David Hull’s offer of a lift the night before. Still, without a carriage or a motor she could make quite an impression with a Paris walking dress and hat, properly supported by fashionable accessories of the toilet.

Good sense and good taste forbade these promptings of nature. No, she would dress most simply–in her very plainest things–taking care to maintain all her advantages of face and figure. If she overwhelmed Dorn and Miss Gordon, she would defeat her own purpose–would not become acquainted with them.

In the end she rejected both courses and decided for the riding costume. The reason she gave for this decision– the reason she gave herself–was that the riding costume would invest the call with an air of accident, of impulse. The real reason.

It may be that some feminine reader can guess why she chose the most startling, the most gracefully becoming, the most artlessly physical apparel in her wardrobe.

She said nothing to her father at lunch about her plans. Why should she speak of them? He might oppose; also, she might change her mind. After lunch she set out on her usual ride, galloping away into the hills–but she had put twenty-five dollars in bills in her trousers pocket. She rode until she felt that her color was at its best, and then she made for town–a swift, direct ride, her heart beating high as if she were upon a most daring and fateful adventure. And, as a matter of fact, never in her life had she done anything that so intensely interested her. She felt that she was for the first time slackening rein upon those unconventional instincts, of unknown strength and purpose, which had been making her restless with their vague stirrings.

“How silly of me!” she thought. “I’m doing a commonplace, rather common thing–and I’m trying to make it seem a daring, romantic adventure. I MUST be hard up for excitement!”

Toward the middle of the afternoon she dropped from her horse before the office of the New Day and gave a boy the bridle. “I’ll be back in a minute,” she explained. It was a two-story frame building, dingy and in disrepair. On the street floor was a grocery. Access to the New Day was by a rickety stairway. As she ascended this, making a great noise on its unsteady boards with her boots, she began to feel cheap and foolish. She recalled what Hull had said in the carriage. “No doubt,” replied she, “I’d feel much the same way if I were going to see Jesus Christ–a carpenter’s son, sitting in some hovel, talking with his friends the fishermen and camel drivers–not to speak of the women.”

The New Day occupied two small rooms–an editorial work room, and a printing work room behind it. Jane Hastings, in the doorway at the head of the stairs, was seeing all there was to see. In the editorial room were two tables–kitchen tables, littered with papers and journals, as was the floor, also. At the table directly opposite the door no one was sitting– “Victor Dorn’s desk,” Jane decided. At the table by the open window sat a girl, bent over her writing. Jane saw that the figure was below, probably much below, the medium height for woman, that it was slight and strong, that it was clad in a simple, clean gray linen dress. The girl’s black hair, drawn into a plain but distinctly graceful knot, was of that dense and wavy thickness which is a characteristic and a beauty of the Hebrew race. The skin at the nape of her neck, on her hands, on her arms bare to the elbows was of a beautiful dead-white–the skin that so admirably compliments dead-black hair.

Before disturbing this busy writer Jane glanced round. There was nothing to detain her in the view of the busy printing plant in the room beyond. But on the walls of the room before her were four pictures –lithographs, cheap, not framed, held in place by a tack at each corner. There was Washington–then Lincoln–then a copy of Leonardo’s Jesus in the Last Supper fresco–and a fourth face, bearded, powerful, imperious, yet wonderfully kind and good humored– a face she did not know. Pointing her riding stick at it she said:

“And who is that?”

With a quick but not in the least a startled movement the girl at the table straightened her form, turned in her chair, saying, as she did so, without having seen the pointing stick:

“That is Marx–Karl Marx.”

Jane was so astonished by the face she was now seeing–the face of the girl–that she did not hear the reply. The girl’s hair and skin had reminded her of what Martha had told her about the Jewish, or half-Jewish, origin of Selma Gordon. Thus, she assumed that she would see a frankly Jewish face. Instead, the face looking at her from beneath the wealth of thick black hair, carelessly parted near the centre, was Russian–was Cossack–strange and primeval, intense, dark, as superbly alive as one of those exuberant tropical flowers that seem to cry out the mad joy of life. Only, those flowers suggest the evanescent, the flame burning so fiercely that it must soon burn out, while this Russian girl declared that life was eternal. You could not think of her as sick, as old, as anything but young and vigorous and vivid, as full of energy as a healthy baby that kicks its dresses into rags and wears out the strength of its strapping nurse. Her nose was as straight as Jane’s own particularly fine example of nose. Her dark gray eyes, beneath long, slender, coal black lines of brow, were brimming with life and with fun. She had a wide, frank, scarlet mouth; her teeth were small and sharp and regular, and of the strong and healthy shade of white. She had a very small, but a very resolute chin. With another quick, free movement she stood up. She was indeed small, but formed in proportion. She seemed out of harmony with her linen dress. She looked as if she ought to be careening on the steppes in some romantic, half-savage costume. Jane’s first and instant thought was, “There’s not another like her in the whole world. She’s the only living specimen of her kind.”

“Gracious!” exclaimed Jane. “But you ARE healthy.”

The smile took full advantage of the opportunity to broaden into a laugh. A most flattering expression of frank, childlike admiration came into the dark gray eyes. “You’re not sickly, yourself,” replied Selma. Jane was disappointed that the voice was not untamed Cossack, but was musically civilized.

“Yes, but I don’t flaunt it as you do,” rejoined Jane. “You’d make anyone who was the least bit off, furious.”

Selma, still with the child-like expression, but now one of curiosity, was examining Jane’s masculine riding dress. “What a sensible suit!” she cried, delightedly. “I’d wear something like that all the time, if I dared.”

“Dared?” said Jane. “You don’t look like the frightened sort.”

“Not on account of myself,” explained Selma. “On account of the cause. You see, we are fighting for a new idea. So, we have to be careful not to offend people’s prejudices about ideas not so important. If we went in for everything that’s sensible, we’d be regarded as cranks. One thing at a time.”

Jane’s glance shifted to the fourth picture. “Didn’t you say that was–Karl Marx?”


“He wrote a book on political economy. I tried to read it at college. But I couldn’t. It was too heavy for me. He was a Socialist–wasn’t he?–the founder of Socialism?”

“A great deal more than that,” replied Selma. “He was the most important man for human liberty that ever lived–except perhaps one.” And she looked at Leonardo’s “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”

“Marx was a–a Hebrew–wasn’t he?”

Selma’s eyes danced, and Jane felt that she was laughing at her hesitation and choice of the softer word. Selma said:

“Yes–he was a Jew. Both were Jews.”

“Both?” inquired Jane, puzzled.

“Marx and Jesus,” explained Selma.

Jane was startled. “So HE was a Jew–wasn’t He?”

“And they were both labor leaders–labor agitators. The first one proclaimed the brotherhood of man. But he regarded this world as hopeless and called on the weary and heavy laden masses to look to the next world for the righting of their wrongs. Then–eighteen centuries after–came that second Jew”–Selma looked passionate, reverent admiration at the powerful, bearded face, so masterful, yet so kind–“and he said: `No! not in the hereafter, but in the here. Here and now, my brothers. Let us make this world a heaven. Let us redeem ourselves and destroy the devil of ignorance who is holding us in this hell.’ It was three hundred years before that first Jew began to triumph. It won’t be so long before there are monuments to Marx in clean and beautiful and free cities all over the earth.”

Jane listened intensely. There was admiring envy in her eyes as she cried: “How splendid!–to believe in something–and work for it and live for it–as you do!”

Selma laughed, with a charming little gesture of the shoulders and the hands that reminded Jane of her foreign parentage. “Nothing else seems worth while,” said she. “Nothing else is worth while. There are only two entirely great careers–to be a teacher of the right kind and work to ease men’s minds–as those four did–or to be a doctor of the right kind and work to make mankind healthy. All the suffering, all the crime, all the wickedness, comes from ignorance or bad health–or both. Usually it’s simply bad health.”

Jane felt as if she were devoured of thirst and drinking at a fresh, sparkling spring. “I never thought of that before,” said she.

“If you find out all about any criminal, big or little, you’ll discover that he had bad health–poisons in his blood that goaded him on.”

Jane nodded. “Whenever I’m difficult to get on with, I’m always not quite well.”

“I can see that your disposition is perfect, when you are well,” said Selma.

“And yours,” said Jane.

“Oh, I’m never out of humor,” said Selma. “You see, I’m never sick–not the least bit.”

“You are Miss Gordon, aren’t you?”

“Yes–I’m Selma Gordon.”

“My name is Jane Hastings.” Then as this seemed to convey nothing to Selma, Jane added: “I’m not like you. I haven’t an individuality of my own–that anybody knows about. So, I’ll have to identify myself by saying that I’m Martin Hastings’ daughter.”

Jane confidently expected that this announcement would cause some sort of emotion–perhaps of awe, perhaps of horror, certainly of interest. She was disappointed. If Selma felt anything she did not show it–and Jane was of the opinion that it would be well nigh impossible for so direct and natural a person to conceal. Jane went on:

“I read in your paper about your fund for sick children. I was riding past your office–saw the sign –and I’ve come in to give what I happen to have about me.” She drew out the small roll of bills and handed it to Selma.

The Russian girl–if it is fair thus to characterize one so intensely American in manner, in accent and in speech–took the money and said:

“We’ll acknowledge it in the paper next week.”

Jane flushed and a thrill of alarm ran through her.