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Title: The Common Lot
Author: Herrick, Robert
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Common Lot" ***

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  THE COMMON LOT



  BY

  ROBERT HERRICK

  AUTHOR OF "THE WEB OF LIFE," "THIS REAL WORLD," ETC.



  New York
  THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
  LONDON: MACMILLAN & CO., LTD.
  1904


  _All rights reserved_



  COPYRIGHT, 1904,

  BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.

  Set up and electrotyped.  Published September, 1904.  Reprinted
  October, 1904.



  Norwood Press
  J. B. Cushing & Co.--Berwick & Smith Co.
  Norwood, Mass, U.S.A.



  TO
  E. H. A.
  AND
  M. T. A.



PART I

THE WILL



THE COMMON LOT

CHAPTER I

From time to time the door opened to admit some tardy person.  Then the
May sunlight without flooded the dim, long hall with a sudden radiance,
even to the arched recess in the rear, where the coffin was placed.
The late-comers sank into the crowd of black-coated men, who filled the
hall to the broad stairs.  Most of these were plainly dressed, with
thick, grizzled beards and lined faces: they were old hands from the
Bridge Works on the West Side, where they had worked many years for
Powers Jackson.  In the parlors at the left of the hall there were more
women than men, and more fashionable clothes than in the hall.  But the
faces were scarcely less rugged and lined; for these friends of the old
man who lay in the coffin were mostly life-worn and gnarled, like
himself.  Their luxuries had not sufficed to hide the scars of the
battles they had waged with fortune.

When the minister ceased praying, the men and the women in the warm,
flower-scented rooms moved gratefully, trying to get easier positions
for their cramped bodies.  Some members of a church choir, stationed at
the landing on the stairs, began to sing.  Once more the door opened
silently in the stealthy hands of the undertaker, and this time it
remained open for several seconds.  A woman entered, dressed in
fashionable widow's mourning.  She moved deliberately, as if she
realized exactly the full effect of her entrance at that moment among
all these heated, tired people.  The men crowded in the hall made way
for her instinctively, so that she might enter the dining-room, to the
right of the coffin, where the family and a few intimate friends of the
dead man were seated.  Here, a young man, the nephew of Powers Jackson,
rose and surrendered his chair to the pretty widow, whispering:--

"Take this, Mrs. Phillips!  I am afraid there is nothing inside."

She took his place by the door with a little deprecatory smile, which
said many things at the same time: "I am very late, I know; but I
really couldn't help it!  You will forgive me, won't you?"

And also: "You have come to be a handsome young man!  When I saw you
last you were only a raw boy, just out of college!  Now we must reckon
with you, as the old man's heir,--the heir of so much money!"

Then again: "It is a long time since we met over there across the sea.
And I have had my sorrows, too!"

All this her face seemed to speak swiftly, especially to the young man,
whose attention she had quite distracted, as indeed she had disturbed
every one in the other rooms by her progress through the hall.  By the
time she had settled herself, and made a first survey of the scene, the
hymn had come to an end, and the minister's deep voice broke forth in
the words of ancient promise, "I am the Resurrection and the Life"...

At this note of triumph the pretty widow's interruption was forgotten.
Something new stirred in the weary faces of those standing in the hall,
touching each one according to his soul, vibrating in his heart with a
meaning personal to him, to her, quite apart from any feeling that they
might have for their old friend, in the hope for whose immortality it
had been spoken....

"I am the Resurrection and the Life" ... "yet in my flesh shall I see
God"...

The words fell fatefully into the close rooms.  The young man who had
given his chair to Mrs. Phillips unconsciously threw back his head and
raised his eyes from the floor, as though he were following some point
of light which had burst into sight above his head.  His gaze swept
over his mother's large, inexpressive countenance, his cousin Everett's
sharp features, the solemn, blank faces of the other mourners in the
room.  It rested on the face of a young woman, who was seated on the
other side of the little room, almost hidden by the roses and the
lilies that were banked on the table between them.  She, too, had
raised her face at the triumphant prophecy, and was seeing something
beyond the walls of the room, beyond the reach of the man's eyes.  Her
lips had parted in a little sigh of wonder; her blue eyes were filled
with unwept tears.  The young man's attention was arrested by those
eyes and trembling lips, and he forgot the feeling that the minister's
words had roused, in sudden apprehension of the girl's beauty and
tenderness.  He had discovered the face in a moment of its finest
illumination, excited by a vague yet pure emotion, so that it became
all at once more than it had ever promised.

The tears trembled at the eyelids, then dropped unnoticed to the face.
The young man looked away hastily, with an uncomfortable feeling in
beholding all this emotion.  He could not see why Helen Spellman should
take his uncle's death so much to heart, although the old man had
always been kind to her and to her mother.  She had come to the house a
great deal, for her mother and his uncle had been life-long friends,
and the old man loved to have the girl about his home.  Yet he did not
feel his uncle's death that way; he wondered whether he ought to be
affected by it as Helen was.  He was certainly much nearer to the dead
man than she,--his nephew, the son of his sister Amelia, who had kept
his house all the many years of her widowhood.  And--he was aware that
people were in the habit of saying it--he was his favorite relative,
the one who would inherit the better part of the property.  This last
reflection set his mind to speculating on the impending change in his
own world,--that new future which he pleasantly dreamed might bring him
nearer to her.  For the last few days, ever since the doctors had given
up all hope of the old man's recovery, he had not been able to keep his
imagination from wandering in the fields of this strange, delightful
change in his affairs, which was so near at hand....

"There is a natural body," so the minister was saying solemnly, "and
there is a spiritual body....  For this corruptible must put on
incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.".....

The young man tried to curb his imagination, to feel the significance
of the fact before him in some other way than as it might affect his
own material fate.  His eyes rested on the great coffin with its load
of cut flowers, and he thought of the silent face that lay therein, and
wondered.  But the state of death was inexplicable to him.

When the minister began his remarks about the dead man's personality,
the tired people roused themselves and their wandering thoughts came
back to their common earth.  What could he say on this delicate theme?
The subject was full of thorns!  Powers Jackson had not been a bad man,
take his life all in all, but he had been accused, justly, of some
ruthless, selfish acts.  He had forced his way, and he had not been
nice about it.  His private morality, also, had never quite satisfied
the ideals of his neighbors, and he could not be called, in any sense
of the word known to the officiating minister, a religious man.

Yet there was scarcely a person present to whom Powers Jackson had not
done in the course of his life some kind and generous act.  Each one in
his heart knew the dead man to have been good and human, and forgave
him his sins, public and private.  What did it matter to old Jim Ryan,
the office porter, who was standing in the corner with his son and
grandson, whether Powers Jackson had or had not conspired with certain
other men to secure illegally a large grant of Texas land!  He and his
family had lived in the sun of the dead man's kindness.  So it went
with the others.

While the minister was saying what every one agreed to in his
heart,--that their dead friend was a man of large stature, big in heart
as in deed, strong for good as for evil,--his nephew's thoughts kept
returning to that glowing, personal matter,--what did it all mean to
him?  Of course, his uncle had been good to him, had given him the best
kind of an education and training in his profession; his mother's
comfort and his own nurture were due to this uncle.  But now the old
man was about to give him the largest gift of all,--freedom for his
whole lifetime, freedom to do with himself what he pleased, freedom
first of all to leave this dull, dirty city, to flee to those other
more sympathetic parts of the earth which he knew so well how to
enjoy!...

The pretty widow in the chair beside him fidgeted.  She was exceedingly
uncomfortable in the close, stuffy room, and the minister's skilful
words roused merely a wicked sense of irony in her.  She could have
told the reverend doctor a thing or two about old Powers!  There were
current in her set stories about the man which would not have tallied
altogether with his appreciative remarks.  She had seen him at close
range, and he was a man, like the others.  She threw back her jacket,
revealing an attractive neck and bust.  During the service she had
already scanned the faces of most of those in the rooms, and, with
great rapidity, had cast up mentally their score with the dead.  This
handsome young nephew was the only one of them all that counted in her
own estimation.  What would he do with the old fellow's money?  She
threw a speculative, appreciative look at him.

Across the room the girl's face had settled into sober thought, the
tears drying on her cheeks where they had fallen.  With that glorious
promise of Life Everlasting still reverberating in her soul, she felt
that the only real Life which poor human beings might know was that
life of the "spiritual body," the life of the good, which is all one
and alike!  To her, Powers Jackson was simply a good man, the best of
men.  For she had known him all her life, and had seen nothing but good
in him.  She loved him, and she knew that he could not be evil!

Finally, the minister rounded out his thought and came to the end of
his remarks.  The singers on the stairs began to chant softly, "Now, O
Lord, let thy servant depart in peace!"  And the tired faces of the
mourners relaxed from their tense seriousness.  Somehow, the crisis of
their emotion had been reached and passed.  Comforted and reassured,
they were about to leave this house of mourning.  An old man,
childless, a widower of many years, who had done his work successfully
in this world, and reaped the rewards of it,--what can any one feel for
his death but a solemn sense of mystery and peace!  Perhaps to one
only, the girl hidden behind the lilies and the roses in the
dining-room, was it a matter of keen, personal grief.  He had left her
world,--he who had stroked her head and kissed her, who had loved her
as a father might love her, who had always smiled when she had touched
him.

On the sidewalk outside the people gathered in little knots, speaking
in subdued tones to one another, yet luxuriating in the riotous spring
air.  Then they moved away slowly.  After the house was nearly emptied,
those mourners who had been in the dining-room appeared, to take
carriages for the cemetery.  Mrs. Phillips came first, talking to young
Jackson Hart.  She was saying:--

"The service was beautiful.  It was all quite what the dear old
gentleman would have liked, and such good taste,--that was your part, I
know!"

He murmured a protest to her compliment as he handed her into her
carriage.  She leaned toward him, with a very personal air:--

"It is so different from the last time we met!  Do you remember?  You
must come and see me, soon.  Don't forget!"

As the young man turned away from her, he met Helen Spellman descending
the long flight of steps.  The girl was carrying in her arms a great
mass of loose flowers, and his cousin Everett who followed her was
similarly burdened.

"Are you going on ahead of us?" Jackson asked anxiously.

"Yes.  I want to put these flowers there first; so that it won't seem
so bare and lonely when he comes.  See!  I have taken those he liked to
have in his library, and yours and your mother's, too!"

She smiled over the flowers, but her eyes were still dull with tears.
Again she brought his thoughts back from self, from his futile, worldly
preoccupations, back to her love for the dead man, which seemed so much
greater, so much purer than his.

"That will be very nice," he said, taking the flowers from her hands
and placing them in a carriage that had driven up to the curb.  "I am
sure he would have liked your thought for him.  He was always so fond
of what you did, of you!"

"Dear uncle," she murmured to herself.

Although the dead man was not connected with her by any ties of blood,
she had grown into the habit of calling him uncle, first as a joke,
then in affection.

"He always had me select the flowers when he wanted to give a really
truly dinner!" she added, a smile coming to her face.  "I know he will
like to have me take these out to him there now."

She spoke of the dead in the present tense, with a strong feeling for
the still living part of the one gone.

"I should like to drive out with you!" the young man exclaimed
impulsively.  "May I?"

"Oh, no!  You mustn't," she replied quickly.  "There's your mother, who
is expecting you to go with her, and then,"--she blushed and stepped
away from him a little space,--"I had rather be alone, please!"


When the heavy gates of the vault in Rose Hill had closed upon Powers
Jackson forever, the little group of intimate friends, who had come
with him to his grave, descended silently the granite steps to their
carriages.  Insensibly a wave of relief stole over the spirit of the
young nephew, as he turned his back upon the ugly tomb, in the
American-Greek style, with heavy capitals and squat pillars.  It was
not a selfish or heartless desire to get away from the dead man, to
forget him now that he no longer counted in this world; it was merely
the reaction from a day of gloom and sober thoughts.  He felt stifled
in his tall silk hat, long frock coat, patent-leather shoes, and black
gloves.  His spirit shrank from the chill of the tomb, to which the day
had brought him near.

"Let's send all the women back together, Everett," he suggested to his
cousin, "and then we can smoke.  I am pretty nearly dead!"

As the three men of the party got into their carriage, Jackson took out
his cigarette-case and offered it to his cousin; but Everett shook his
head rather contemptuously and drew a cigar from his breast pocket.

"I never got in the habit of smoking those things," he remarked slowly.
There was an implication in his cool tone that no grown man indulged
himself in that boyish habit.

"_He_ never liked cigarettes either,--wouldn't have one in the house,"
Jackson commented lightly.

The other man, Hollister, had taken one of Everett's cigars, and the
three smoked in silence while the carriage bumped at a rapid pace over
the uneven streets that led through the suburbs of Chicago.  Hart
wondered what the two men opposite him were thinking about.  Hollister,
so he reflected, must know what was in the will.  He had been the old
man's confidential business agent for a good many years, and was one of
the executors.  Everett Wheeler, who was a lawyer with a large and very
highly paid practice, was another.

Perhaps this second cousin of his was to get a good slice of the
property after all, though his uncle had never displayed any great
fondness for Everett.  Yet the lawyer had always done the best that was
expected of him.  He had entered a Chicago law office from the high
school in Michigan, preferring to skip the intermediate years of
college training which Powers Jackson had offered him, and he never
ceased referring to his success in his profession as partly due to the
fact he had "fooled no time away at college."  So far as his business
went, which was to patch together crazy corporations, he had no
immediate use for a liberal education.  He had no tastes whatsoever
outside of this business and a certain quiet interest in politics.  His
dull white features, sharpened to a vulpine point at the nose and chin,
betrayed his temperament.  He was a silent, cool-blooded, unpassionate
American man of affairs, and it would be safe to say that he would die
rich.  Thus far he had not had enough emotion, apparently, to get
married.  No! his cousin reflected, Everett was not a man after Powers
Jackson's heart!  The old man was not cold, passionless....

Those two men opposite him knew what was the fact in this matter so
momentous to him.  They smoked, wrapped in their own thoughts.

"I wonder who was the joker who put up that monstrous Greek temple out
there in the cemetery?" Jackson finally observed, in a nervous desire
to say something.

"You mean the family mausoleum?" Everett asked severely, removing his
cigar from his lips and spitting carefully out of the half-opened
window.  "That was done by a fellow named Roly, and it was considered a
very fine piece of work.  It was built the time aunt Frankie died."

"It's a spooky sort of place to put a man into!"

"I think the funeral was what your uncle would have liked," Hollister
remarked, as if to correct this irrelevant talk.  "He hated to be
eccentric, and yet he despised pretentious ceremonies.  Everything was
simple and dignified.  The parson was good, too, in what he said.  And
the old men turned out in great numbers.  I was glad of that!  But I
was surprised.  It's nearly two years since he gave up the Works, and
memories are short between master and man."

"That's a fact.  But he knew every man Jack about the place in the old
days," Everett observed, removing his silk hat as if it were an
ornamental incumbrance.

"Yes," said Hollister, taking up the theme.  "I remember how he would
come into the front office on pay days, and stand behind the grating
while the men were signing off.  He could call every one by a first
name.  It was Pete and Dave and Jerry and Steve,--there wasn't so much
of that European garbage, then,--these Hungarians and Slavs."

"But he was stiff with 'em in the strike, though," the lawyer put in, a
smile wrinkling his thin, pallid lips.  "He fired every one who went
out with the union,--never'd let 'em back, no matter what they said or
did.  Those there to-day were mostly the old ones that didn't strike."

The two older men began to exchange stories about the dead man, of
things they had seen while they were working for him,--his tricks of
temper, whims of mind.  Hollister spoke gently, almost tenderly, of the
one he had worked with, as of one whose faults were flaws in a great
stone.  The lawyer spoke literally, impassively, as of some phenomenon
of nature which he had seen often and had thoroughly observed.

Young Hart lit another cigarette, and as he listened to the stories he
thought of the girl's face just as he had seen it that day, utterly
moved and transfixed with a strange emotion of tender sorrow that was
half happiness.  The expression puzzled him, and he ended by saying to
himself that she was religious, meaning by that word that she was moved
by certain feelings other than those which affected him or Everett or
his mother even.  And this new thought of her made her more precious in
his eyes.  He looked for her when they reached the sombre old house on
Ohio Street, but she had already gone home.

As Hollister was leaving the house, he said to the young man:--

"Can you come over to Wheeler's office to-morrow about four?  Judge
Phillips will be there, the other executor.  We are to open the will.
They have suggested that I ask you to join us," he added hastily, with
an effort to be matter of fact.

"All right, Hollister," the young man answered, with an equal effort to
appear unconcerned.  "I'll be over!"

But his heart thumped strangely.



CHAPTER II

"Get all ready before you start," Powers Jackson had said, when his
nephew, after four years at Cornell and three years at a famous
technical school in the East, had suggested the propriety of finishing
his professional training in architecture by additional study in Paris.
"Get all ready,--then let us have results."

He had taken his time to get ready.  He had chosen to go to Cornell in
the first place rather than to a larger university, because some of the
boys of his high school class were going there.  With us in America
such matters are often settled in this childish way.  The reason why he
chose the profession of architecture was, apparently, scarcely less
frivolous.  A "fraternity brother" at Cornell, just home from Paris,
fired the college boy's imagination for "the Quarter."  But, once
started in the course of architecture at the technical school, he found
that he had stumbled into something which really interested him.  For
the first time in his life he worked seriously.

At the Beaux Arts he worked, also, though he did not forget the
amenities of life.  The two years first talked of expanded into two and
a half, then rounded to a full three.  Meanwhile the generous checks
from the office of the Bridge Works came with pleasant regularity.  His
mother wrote, "Powers hopes that you are deriving benefit from your
studies in Paris."  What the old man had said was, "How's Jackie doing
these days, Amelia?"  And young Hart was "doing" well.  There were many
benefits, not always orthodox, which the young American, established
cosily on the Rue de l'Université, was deriving from Paris.

The day of preparation came to an end, however.  During those last
weeks of his stay in Europe he was joined by his mother and Helen
Spellman.  Powers Jackson had taken this occasion to send them both
abroad; Mrs. Spellman being too much of an invalid to take the journey,
Mrs. Amelia Hart had been very glad to have the girl's companionship.
Jackson met them in Naples.  After he had kissed his mother and taken
her handbag, to which she was clinging in miserable suspicion of the
entire foreign world, he turned to the girl, whose presence he had been
conscious of all the time.  Helen was not noticeably pretty or well
dressed; but she had an air of race, a fineness of feature, a certain
personal delicacy, to which the young man had long been unaccustomed.
Perhaps three years of student life in Paris had prepared him to think
very well of a young American woman.

They had spent most of their time in Rome, where Mrs. Hart could be
made happy with many American comforts.  She was much given to writing
letters to her friends; they formed a kind of journal wherein she
recorded her impressions of the places she visited and the facts she
culled from the guide-books and the _valets de place_ whom they
employed.  She wrote a round, firm hand, and this was her style of
entry:--

"This morning with Helen and Jackson to the Palatine Hill.  The
Palatine was one of the Seven Hills of Rome.  It was anciently the home
of the Cæsars.  That is, they had their palaces there, some remains of
which exist to this day....  It is a pretty sort of place now, where
there are stone benches, from which may be obtained a good view of the
Forum and the best ruins of Ancient Rome."

Jackson liked to tease his mother about her literal method of
sight-seeing.  In her way, also, Helen was laborious and conscientious,
trying to solve the complex impressions of the foreign world.  The
young architect was content to wave his hand toward a mass of
picturesque ruins as they flitted past in a cab.  "Somebody or other
Metellus put up that arch," he would remark gayly.  "Good color, isn't
it?"  The women would insist upon stopping the cab, and would get out.
Then, guide-book in hand, they would peer up at the gray remnant of an
ancient order of things.  So with the Palatine,--Helen insisted upon
studying out on the plan the House of Livia, and puzzled much over the
exact situation of the Golden House of Nero, although Jackson assured
her that no remains of the huge palace could be identified.  She had a
conscience about seeing as much as she could, and seeing it honestly,
justifying to herself the careless architect's flippancy on the ground
that he had been so long in Europe he knew what to avoid.

While Mrs. Hart was laboriously filling her letters with incontestable
facts, the two young people went about alone, in that perfectly normal
and healthy manner which remains an everlasting puzzle to the European
eye.  The architect took keen pleasure in teaching the girl to
recognize the beauty in a Palladian façade and the majestic grandiosity
of a Santa Maria degli Angeli.  In matters of color and line the girl
was as sensitive as he, but he found that she lacked the masculine
sense of construction, the builder's instinct for proportion and plan.

Their friendship was quite simple, untouched by any hectic excitement,
or even sentiment.  The architect was twenty-seven years old, and he
had seen enough of Parisian manners to remove any superficial virtue
which might have survived his four years at Cornell.  But this American
girl, the old friend of his family, his mother's companion--she seemed
to him merely the pleasantest being he had seen in months.

So their six weeks in Italy had been very happy ones for all
three,--six golden weeks of May and early June, when the beautiful land
smiled at them from every field and wall.  Each fresh scene in the
panorama of their little journeys was another joy, a new excitement
that brought a flush of heightened color to the girl's face.  One of
their last days they spent at the little village of Ravello, on the
hilltop above Amalfi, and there in the clear twilight of a warm June
day, with gold-tipped clouds brooding over the Bay of Salerno, they
came for the first time upon the personal note.  They were leaning over
the railing of the terrace in the Palumbo, listening to the bells in
the churches of Vetri below them.

"Wouldn't this be good for always!" he murmured.

He was touched with sentimental self-pity at the thought of leaving all
this,--the beauty, the wonder, the joy of Europe!  In another short
month instead of these golden hours of full sensation there would be
Chicago, whose harsh picture a three years' absence had not softened.

"I don't know," the girl replied, with a long sigh for remembered joy.
"One could not be as happy as this for months and years."

"I'd like to try!" he said lightly.

"No!  Not you!" she retorted with sudden warmth.  "What could a man do
here?"

"There are a lot of fellows in Europe who manage to answer that
question somehow.  Most of the men I knew in Paris don't expect to go
back yet, and not to Chicago anyway."

Her lips compressed quickly.  Evidently they were not the kind of men
she thought well of.

"Why!" she stammered, words crowding tempestuously to her tongue.  "How
could you stay, and not work out your own life, not make your own place
in the world like uncle Powers?  How it would trouble him to hear you
say that!"

She made him a trifle ashamed of his desire to keep out of the fight
any longer.  Hers, he judged, was a militant, ambitious nature, and he
was quick to feel what she expected of him.

After they had sat there a long time without speaking, she said gently,
as if she wished to be just to him:--

"It might be different, if one were an artist; but even then I should
think a man would want to carry back what he had received here to the
place he was born in,--shouldn't you?"

"Well, perhaps," he admitted, "if the place weren't just--Chicago!  It
wouldn't seem much use to carry this back there.  The best thing for a
man would be to forget it," he concluded rather bitterly.


They never came back to this topic.  Nevertheless those simple words
which the girl had spoken in that garden of Ravello became a tonic for
him at other moments of shrinking or regret.  He felt what was in her
eyes a man's part.


They made the long voyage homewards through the Mediterranean, touching
at Gibraltar for a last, faint glimpse of romance.  It was a placid
journey in a slow steamer, with a small company of dull, middle-aged
Americans, and the two young people were left much to themselves.  In
the isolation of the sunny, windless sea, their acquaintance took on
imperceptibly a personal character.  After the fashion of the egotistic
male, he told her, bit by bit, all that he knew about himself,--his
college days, his friends, and his work at the Beaux Arts.  From the
past,--his past,--they slid to the future that lay before him on the
other shore of the Atlantic.  He sketched for her in colored words the
ideals of his majestic art.  Tucked up on deck those long, cloudless
nights, they reached the higher themes,--what a man could do, as
Richardson and Atwood had shown the glorious way, toward expressing the
character and spirit of a fresh race in brick and stone and steel!

Such thoughts as these touched the girl's imagination, just as the
sweet fragments of a civilization finer than ours had stirred her heart
in Italy.  All these ideas which the young man poured forth, she took
to be the architect's original possessions, not being familiar with the
froth of Paris studios, the wisdom of long _déjeuners_.  And she was
doubly eager whenever he mentioned his plans for the future.  For
something earnest and large was the first craving of her soul,
something that had in it service and beauty in life.

At the time of the great exposition in Chicago she had had such matters
first brought to her attention.  Powers Jackson, as one of the
directors of the enterprise, had entertained many of the artists and
distinguished men who came to the city, and at his dinner-table she had
heard men talk whose vital ideals were being worked into the beautiful
buildings beside the lake.  Their words she had hoarded in her
schoolgirl's memory, and now in her sympathy for the young architect
she began to see what could be done with an awakened feeling for art,
for social life, to make our strong young cities memorable.  This, she
imagined shyly, would be the work of the man beside her!

He was handsome and strong, vigorously built, though inclined to
heaviness of body.  His brown hair waved under his straw hat, and a
thick mustache turned stiffly upwards in the style of the German
Emperor, which was then just coming into fashion.  This method of
wearing the mustache, and also a habit of dressing rather too well,
troubled the girl; for she knew that uncle Powers would at once note
such trivial aspects of his nephew.  The keen old man might say
nothing, but he would think contemptuous thoughts.  The young
architect's complexion was ruddy, healthily bronzed; his features were
regular and large, as a man's should be.  Altogether he was a handsome,
alert, modern American.  Too handsome, perhaps!  She thought
apprehensively of the rough-looking, rude old man at home, his face
tanned and beaten, knobby and hard, like the gnarled stump of an oak!

She was very anxious that the architect should make a good impression
on his uncle, not simply for his own sake, but for the lonely old man's
comfort.  She felt that she knew Powers Jackson better than his nephew
did; knew what he liked and what he despised.  She wanted him to love
this nephew, and several times she talked to Jackson about his uncle.
The young man listened with an amused smile, as if he had already a
good formula for the old man.

"Mother can't get him out of that brick Mansard roost on Ohio Street,
where he has lived since the fire.  All his friends have moved away
from the neighborhood.  But he thinks the black-walnut rooms, the
stamped leather on the walls, and the rest of it, is the best going
yet.  That buffet, as he calls it!  It's early Victorian, a regular
_chef-d'oeuvre_ of ugliness.  That house!"

"It's always been his home," she protested, finding something trivial
in this comic emphasis on sideboards and bookcases.  "He cares about
good things too.  Lately he's taken to buying engravings.  Mr.
Pemberton interested him in them.  And I think he would like to buy
pictures, if he wasn't afraid of being cheated, of making a fool of
himself."

"You'll make him out a patron of the fine arts!"

Jackson laughed merrily at the picture of Powers Jackson as a
connoisseur in art.

"Perhaps he will be yet!" she retorted stoutly.  "At any rate, he is a
very dear old man."

He would not have described his uncle Powers in the same simple words.
Still he had the kindest feelings toward him, mixed with a latent
anxiety as to what the old man might do about his allowance, now that
his school days had come definitely to a close....

Thus in the long hours of that voyage, with the sound of the gurgling,
dripping water all about them, soothed by the rhythm of pounding
engines, the man and the woman came to a sort of knowledge of each
other.  At least there was created in the heart of each a vision of the
other.  The girl's vision was glorified by the warmth of her
imagination, which transformed all her simple experiences.  In her
heart, if she had looked there, she would have seen an image of youth
and power, very handsome, with great masculine hopes, and aspirations
after unwrought deeds.  Unconsciously she had given to that image
something which she could never take back all the years of her life,
let her marry whom she might!

And he could remember her, if hereafter he should come to love her, as
she was these last days.  The shadow of the end of the romance was upon
her, and it left her subdued, pensive, but more lovely than ever
before.  To the artist's eye in the architect her head was too large,
the brow not smooth enough, the hair two shades too dark, the full face
too broad.  The blue eyes and the trembling, small mouth gave a certain
childishness to her expression that the young man could not understand.
It was only when she spoke that he was much moved; for her voice was
very sweet, uncertain in its accents, tremulous.  She seemed to breathe
into commonplace words some revelation of herself....

On the morning of their arrival the lofty buildings of the great city
loomed through the mist.  The architect said:--

"There are the hills of the New World!  Here endeth the first chapter."

"I cannot believe it has ended," she replied slowly.  "Nothing ends!"


Powers Jackson and Mrs. Spellman met the travellers in New York.  It
was just at the time that Jackson was negotiating with the promoters of
a large trust for the sale of his Bridge Works.  This fact his nephew
did not learn until some months later, for the old man never talked
about his deeds and intentions.  At any rate, he did sell the Works one
morning in the lobby of his hotel and for his own price, which was an
outrageous one, as the stockholders of the new trust came to know in
time to their chagrin.

He shook hands with his sister, kissed Helen on the forehead, and
nodded to his nephew.

"How's the Pope, Amelia?" he asked gravely.

"You needn't ask me!  Did you think, Powers, I'd be one to go over to
the Vatican and kiss that old man's hand?  I hope I'm too good a
Christian to do that!"

"Oh, don't be too hard on the poor feller," Jackson said, continuing
his joke.  "I hoped you'd pay your respects to the Pope.  Why, he's the
smartest one in the whole bunch over there, I guess!"

He looked to Helen for sympathy.  It should be said that Powers Jackson
regarded his sister Amelia as a fool, but that he never allowed himself
to take advantage of the fact except in such trifling ways as this.

When the two men were alone in the private parlor at the hotel, the
uncle said:--

"So you've finished up now?  You're all through over there?"

"Yes, sir," Hart answered, not feeling quite at his ease with this calm
old man.  "I guess I am ready to begin building, as soon as any one
will have me!"

"I see there's plenty doing in your line, all over."

"I am glad to hear that."

The architect fidgeted before he could think what to say next.  Then he
managed to express his sense of gratitude for the great opportunities
his uncle had given him in Paris.  Jackson listened, but said nothing.
The architect was conscious that the old man had taken in with one
sweep of those sharp little eyes his complete appearance.  He suspected
that the part in the middle of his brown hair, the pert lift to the
ends of his mustache, the soft stock about his neck, the lavender
colored silk shirt in which he had prepared to meet the pitiless glare
of the June sun in the city,--that all these items had been noted and
disapproved.  He reflected somewhat resentfully that he was not obliged
to make a guy of himself to please his uncle.  He found his uncle's
clothes very bad.  Powers Jackson was a large man, and his clothes,
though made by one of the best tailors in Chicago, usually had a
draggled appearance, as if he had forgotten to take them off when he
went to bed.  However, when the old man next spoke, he made no
reference to his nephew's attire.

"I was talking to Wright about you the other day.  Ever heard of him?"

"Of Walker, Post, and Wright?" Hart asked, naming one of the best-known
firms of architects in the country.

"Yes.  They've been doing something for me lately.  If you haven't made
any plans, you might start in their Chicago office.  That'll teach you
the ropes over here."

Nothing was said about an allowance or a continuation of those generous
and gratefully acknowledged checks which had made life at Cornell and
at Paris so joyous.  And nothing more was ever said about them!
Jackson Hart had taken the position that his uncle had secured for him
in Wright's Chicago office, and within a fortnight of the day he landed
at New York he was making his daily pilgrimage to the twelfth floor of
the Maramanoc Building, where under the bulkheads worked a company of
young gentlemen in their shirt-sleeves.

That was two years ago, and by this time he was eager for almost any
kind of change.



CHAPTER III

The morning after the funeral Francis Jackson Hart resumed his work on
the plans of a large hotel that Walker, Post, and Wright were to build
in Denver.  This was in all probability the last piece of work that he
should be called upon to do for that firm, and the thought was pleasant
to him.  He had not spent an altogether happy two years in that office.
It was a large firm, with other offices in St. Paul and New York, and
work under construction in a dozen different states.  Wright was the
only member of the firm who came often to Chicago; he dropped into the
office nearly every month, arriving from somewhere south or east, and
bound for somewhere north or west, with only a few days to spare.
During these brief visits he was always tremendously rushed--plans
under way in the office had to be looked over and criticised; the
construction in the immediate neighborhood examined; new business to be
discussed with the firm's clients, and much else.  He was a tall, thin
man, with harassed, near-sighted eyes,--a gentleman well trained in his
profession and having good taste according to the standards of a
generation ago.  But he had fallen upon a commercial age, and had not
been large enough to sway it.  He made decent compromises between his
own taste and that of his clients, and took pride in the honest
construction of his buildings.

Wright had hurt Hart's susceptibilities almost at the start, when he
remarked about a sketch that the young architect had made for a new
telephone exchange:--

"All you want, my boy, is the figure of a good fat woman flopping over
that door!"

For the next few months Hart had been kept busy drawing spandrels.
From this he was promoted to designing stables for country houses of
rich clients.  He resented the implied criticism of his judgment, and
he put Wright down as a mere Philistine, who had got all his training
in an American office.

Now, he said to himself, as he took down his street coat and adjusted
his cuffs before going over to his cousin's office to hear the will, he
should leave Wright's "department store," and "show the old man" what
he thought of the kind of buildings the firm was putting up for rich
and common people.  He, at least, would not be obliged to be mercenary.
His two years' experience in Chicago had taught him something about the
fierceness of the struggle to exist in one of the professions,
especially in a profession where there is an element of fine art.  And
his appetite to succeed, to be some one of note in this hurly-burly of
Chicago, had grown very fast.  For he had found himself less of a
person in his native city than he had thought it possible over in
Paris,--even with the help of his rich uncle, with whom he had
continued to live.

So, as the elevator of the Dearborn Building bore him upwards that
afternoon, his heart beat exultantly: he was to hear in a few moments
the full measure of that advantage which he had been given over all the
toiling, sweating humanity here in the elevator, out there on the
street!  By the right of fortunate birth he was to be spared the common
lot of man, to be placed high up on the long, long ladder of human
fate....

When he entered Everett Wheeler's private office, Hollister was talking
with Judge Phillips.  The latter nodded pleasantly to the young man,
and gave him his hand.

"How do you do, sir?" he asked, with emphatic gravity.

The judge, who had not sat in a court for more than a generation, was a
vigorous, elderly man with a sweeping gray mustache.  He was an old
resident of Chicago, and had made much money, some of it in Powers
Jackson's enterprises.

Hollister nodded briskly to the architect, and motioned him to a seat.
Presently Everett came in from the safe where he had gone to get some
papers, and Hollister, who seemed to be spokesman for the executors,
clearing his throat, began:--

"Well, gentlemen, we all know what we are here for, I presume."


The young architect never remembered clearly how all the rest of it
came about.  At first he wondered why old Hollister should open the
proceedings with such elaborate eulogies of the dead man.  Hollister
kept saying that few men had understood the real man in Powers
Jackson,--the warm man's heart that beat beneath the rude and silent
manner.

"I want to say," Hollister exclaimed in a burst of unwonted emotion,
"that it was more than mutual interest which allied the judge and me to
Mr. Jackson.  It was admiration!  Admiration for the man!"

The judge punctuated this opinion with a grave nod.

"Especially these latter years, when Mr. Jackson was searching for a
way in which he might most benefit the world with the fortune that he
had earned by his ability and hard work."

The gray-bearded man ceased talking for a moment and looked at the two
younger men.  Everett was paring his nails, very neatly, with the air
of detachment he assumed when he was engaged in taking a deposition.
The architect looked blankly mystified.

"He wanted to help men," Hollister resumed less demonstratively.
"Especially workingmen, the kind of men he had come from and had known
all his life.  He never forgot that he worked at the forge the first
five years he lived in Chicago.  And no matter what the labor unions
say, or the cheap newspaper writers, there wasn't a man in this city
who cared for the best interests of laboring men more than Powers
Jackson."

Across the judge's handsome face flitted the glimmer of a smile, as if
other memories, slightly contradictory, would intrude themselves on
this eulogy.  Everett, having finished the cutting of his nails, was
examining his shoes.  He might be thinking of the price of steel
billets in Liverpool, or he might be thinking that Hollister was an
ass,--no one could tell.

"He took much advice; he consulted many men, among them the president
of a great Eastern university.  And here in this document"--Hollister
took up the will--"he embodied the results,--his purpose!"


At this point in the architect's confused memory of the fateful scene
there was a red spot of consciousness.  The man of affairs, looking
straight at him, seemingly, announced:--

"Powers Jackson left the bulk of his large fortune in trust with the
purpose of founding a great school for the children of workingmen!"

There ensued a brief pause.  Hart did not comprehend at once the full
significance of what had been said.  But as the others made no remark,
he did not venture to ask questions, and so Hollister asked the lawyer
to read the will, clause by clause.

It was a brief document, considering the importance of its contents.
There was an item, Jackson recalled afterward, leaving the old family
farm at Vernon Falls in Vermont to "my dear young friend, Helen Powers
Spellman, because she will love it for my sake as well as for itself."
And to this bequest was added a few thousand dollars as a maintenance
fund.

He might have treated her more generously, it occurred to the architect
vaguely, valuing in his own mind the old place as naught.

"To my nephew, Francis Jackson Hart, ten thousand dollars in the
following securities...."

This he grasped immediately.  So, that was his figure!  He scarcely
noted the next clause, which gave to his mother the Ohio Street house
with a liberal income from the estate for her life.  He waited for the
larger bequests which must come, and for the disposition of the
residue.  Suddenly Hollister remarked with a little upward inflection
of satisfaction:--

"Now we are coming to the core of the apple!"

Slowly, deliberately, the lawyer read on:--

"Being desirous that the larger part of whatever wealth I may die
possessed of may be made of immediate and wide benefit to mankind, I do
give and bequeath the residue of my estate to Judge Harrison Phillips,
Everett Wheeler, and Mark Kingsford Hollister, and such others as they
may associate with them, in trust, nevertheless, for the following
described purposes....  Said fund and its accumulations to be devoted
to the founding and maintenance of a school or institution for the
purpose of providing an education, industrial and technical, as said
trustees may deem best, for the children of workingmen, of the city of
Chicago."

"That," exclaimed Hollister triumphantly, "is Powers Jackson's gift to
mankind!"

There were a few more sentences to the will, elaborating slightly the
donor's design, providing for liberal payments to the executors for
their services, and reserving certain portions of the estate for
endowment purposes only.  Yet, as a whole, the document was singularly
simple, almost bare in its disposition of a very large amount of money.
It reposed a great trust in the men selected to carry out the design,
in their will and intelligence.  Doubtless the old man had taken
Hollister, at least, into his confidence, and had contented himself
with giving him verbal and general directions, knowing full well the
fate of elaborately conceived and legally specified bequests.  The wise
old man seemed to have contented himself with outlining broadly, though
plainly enough, his large intention.

"That's a pretty shaky piece of work, that instrument," Everett
observed, narrowing his eyes to a thin slit.  "He didn't get me to draw
it up, let me tell you.  It's queer the old man was willing to trust
his pile to such a loosely worded document."

"Fortunately," Judge Phillips hastened to add, "in this case we may
hope that will make no difference."

There was an awkward pause, and then the lawyer replied drawlingly:--

"No, I don't suppose there'll be any trouble.  I don't see why there
should be any, unless Hart objects."

Jackson felt dimly that here was his chance to protest, to object to
Everett's calm acceptance of the will.  But a certain shame, or
diffidence, restrained him at the moment from showing these men that he
felt injured by his uncle's will.  He said nothing, and Hollister began
to talk of the projected school.  It was to be something new, the
architect gathered, not exactly like any other attempt in education in
our country, and it would take time to perfect the details of the plan.
There was no need for haste.

"We must build for generations when we do start," Hollister said.  "And
the other trustees agree with me that this is not the most opportune
time for converting the estate into ready money."

"It will pretty nearly double the next five years," the judge observed
authoritatively.

"At the present, as closely as we can estimate it, there is available
for the purposes of the trust a little over three millions of dollars,"
Hollister stated.

Over three millions!  Jackson Hart started in his chair.  He had had no
idea that his uncle was worth anything like that amount.  And these
shrewd men thought it would probably double during the next five years!
Well, so far as he was concerned it might be three cents.  Possibly
Everett would get a few dollars out of it as trustee.  He had already
shared in some of the old man's plums, Hart reflected bitterly.  When
the trustees began to discuss among themselves some detail of the
management of the real estate involved, the young architect made an
excuse of a business engagement and slipped away.  Just as he reached
the door, Everett called out:--

"We'll send the will over for probate to-morrow.  If there's no hitch,
the legacies will be paid at once.  I'll be over to see your mother
very soon and arrange for the payment of her annuity."

Jackson nodded.  He did not like to trust his voice.  He knew that it
was very dry.  Somehow he found himself in the elevator herded in a
cage of office boys and clerks on their way home, sweating and dirty
from a long day's work.  At the street level he bought a newspaper, and
the first thing that caught his eye in its damp folds were the
headlines:--

  JACKSON'S MILLIONS GO TO EDUCATION

  THE STEEL MAGNATE'S MONEY WILL FOUND INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL


Hart crumpled up the sheet and threw it into the gutter.  The first
intelligible feeling that he had over his situation was a sort of shame
that his uncle should have held him so cheap.  For so he interpreted
the gift of ten thousand dollars!  And he began, unconsciously, to try
in his mind the case between himself and his uncle.  He had always been
led to believe that he was the most favored of all the old man's
dependents.  Surely he had been treated like a son, and he was not
aware that he had ever been ungrateful or unworthy.  Now, without
having committed any piece of public folly, he was made a thing of pity
and contempt before his friends!

He resented the old man's kindness, now that he knew where it ended.
Very swiftly he began to realize what it would mean to him to be
without this fortune on which he had so confidently calculated.  He had
made up his mind to move to New York, where some of his friends had
started prosperously and had invited him to join them.  And there was
Helen, whom he had come to love in the past year.  Marriage was now,
apparently, out of the question for him, unless he could earn more
money than Wright thought he was worth.  For Helen no more than he had
been favored by his uncle.  Even Helen, whom the old man had made so
much of, had been left with little more than a stony farm! ...

Thus he ploughed his way down the murky street in the direction of the
north side bridge.  The gloom of a foggy spring evening was added to
the smoke and grime of the careless city.  The architect felt dirty and
uncomfortable, and he knew now that he was condemned to struggle on in
this unlovely metropolis, where even the baked meats of life were flung
at one ungarnished.

Two solid streams of black-dressed humanity were pressing northward
over the narrow footpaths of the State Street bridge.  Some unit in the
throng nudged the architect's elbow.

"Hello, Jack Hart!" a man yelped at him, scowling from under his black
pot hat.  "Going my way?"

Jackson grumbled a short assent.  He did not care to meet Sayre Coburn
at this juncture in his life.  Coburn had been a half-starved medical
student at Cornell, working his way as a janitor in the chemical
laboratory.  He had been obliged to drop out before the struggle was
quite over, and had gone somewhere else to finish his medical work.
Lately he had landed in Chicago and opened an office without knowing a
soul in the city beyond the architect and a few other Cornell men, whom
he had not sought out.

Hart knew that the doctor walked to save car fare, and subsisted on
meal tickets at indifferent restaurants.  When he had met the man
before he had been inclined to patronize him.  Now he looked at the
dirty collar, the frayed and baggy trousers, the wolfish hunch to the
shoulders, and he knew instinctively that these marks came from the
fight in its elementary form,--from that beast-tussle to snatch a
dollar that some other man wants to get from you!

That same hard game, to which his uncle had just condemned him, gave
Coburn his bad manners, his hit-you-in-the-face style of address, his
vulgar, yelping speech.  He suspected that Coburn had gone without
clothes and tobacco to feed a lot of guinea-pigs and rabbits on which
he was making experiments.  But Dr. Coburn told you all that in his
harsh, boring voice, just as he told you that your right shoulder was
dragging, or your left leg was short, or any other disagreeable fact.

"So the old man's money goes to start a school?" Coburn asked, his firm
lips wreathing into a slight grin.  "That rather cuts you out, don't
it?  Or, maybe, you and he had some kind of a deal so that all the
money don't have to be assessed for inheritance taxes?  That's the
usual way nowadays."

"There's no arrangement," Hart answered shortly.  "I had no claim on my
uncle's money."

The smiling doctor looked at him sideways for a moment, examining the
man drolly, without malice.

"Well, you wouldn't have turned it down, if it had been passed up to
you on a silver dish?  Hey?  God, I'd like to get a show at some loose
cash.  Then I could build a first-class laboratory and keep all the
animals I want, instead of slopping around here selling pills and guff
to old women!  But these philanthropic millionnaires don't seem to
favor medicine much."

He thrust out his heavy under lip at the world in a brutal, defiant
manner, and swung his little black bag as though he would like to brain
some rich passer-by.  His was a handsome face, with firm, straight
lines, a thick black mustache, and clear eyes, deep set.  But it was a
face torn and macerated by the hunger of unappeased desires,--unselfish
and honorable desires, however; a face that thinly covered a fuming
crater beneath.  When life treated this man rudely, he would fight
back, and he would win against odds.  But as the architect saw him, he
was a tough, unlovely specimen.

"I suppose any one would like to have money," Hart answered vaguely.
Then feeling that the doctor's company was intolerable, he turned down
a side street, calling out, "So long, Coburn."

The doctor's face betrayed a not wholly sympathetic amusement when his
companion left him in this abrupt manner.


When Jackson entered the house, his uncle's old home, his mother was
sitting by the library table reading, just as she had sat and read at
this hour for the past twenty years.  Powers Jackson had carefully made
such provision for her as would enable her to continue this habit as
long as she might live.  She called to her son:--

"You're late, son.  Supper's on the table."

"Don't wait for me," he answered dully, going upstairs to his room.

When he joined his mother at the supper-table, his mustache was brushed
upwards in a confident wave, and his face, though serious, was not
blackened by soot and care.

"Did you see Everett?" Mrs. Hart asked suggestively.

Jackson told her in a few words the event of the afternoon, recounting
the chief provisions of the will as he remembered them.  For some
moments she said nothing.  Then she remarked, with a note of annoyance
in her voice:--

"Powers was always bound I sh'd never leave this house except to follow
him to Rose Hill.  And he's fixed it so now I can't!  I could never
make him see how sooty it was here.  We have to wash the curtains and
things once a fortnight, and then they ain't fit to be seen half the
time."

Her son, who thought that he had his own grievances against his uncle,
made no reply to this complaint.  Before they had finished their meal,
Mrs. Hart added:--

"He might have done more for you, too, seeing what a sight of money he
left."

"Yes, he might have done it!  But you see he didn't choose to.  And I
guess the best thing we can do under the circumstances is to say as
little as possible about the will.  That is, unless we decide to fight
it."

He threw this out tentatively.  It had not occurred to him to contest
the will until that moment.  Then he thought suddenly, "Why should I
stand it?"

But Mrs. Hart, who had never opposed her brother in all her life,
exclaimed:--

"You couldn't do that, Jackson!  I am sure Powers wouldn't like it."

"Probably not," the young man replied ironically.  "But it isn't his
money any longer!"

It occurred to him soon, however, that by this act he would endanger
his mother's comfortable inheritance, besides estranging his cousin
Everett and all the old man's friends.  To contest the will would be a
risk and, moreover, would be ungrateful, petty.  It was a matter at any
rate upon which he should have to take the best of advice.  When he
spoke again at the end of their supper, he said impartially:--

"I am glad you are comfortably looked out for, though I hope I should
always be able to give you a home, anyway.  And we must remember that
uncle gave me my education and my three years in Paris, and I suppose
that after that he thought ten thousand dollars was all that I was
worth,--or could take care of."

He said this, standing in front of the heavy black-walnut sideboard
which he abhorred, while he lit a cigarette.  As he spoke he felt that
he was taking his injury in a manly way, although he still reserved to
himself the right to seek relief from the courts.

And in the deeper reaches of his being there lay a bitter sense of
resentment, a desire to make the world pay him in some manner for his
disappointment.  If he had to, he would show people that he could make
his own way; that he was more than the weakling his uncle had
contemptuously overlooked in the disposal of his property.  He should
rise in his profession, make money, and prove to the world that he
could swim without Powers Jackson's millions.

Oddly enough, as he stood there smoking, his eyes narrowed, his
handsome face hardened into something like the stocky doctor's bull-dog
expression.  The rough, brute man in him thrust itself to the surface!

"What kind of a school are they going to start with all that money?"
Mrs. Hart asked, as she seated herself for the evening.

"Oh, something technical.  For sons of mechanics, a kind of mechanics'
institute, I should say."

He thought of some of the old man's caustic remarks about charities,
and added:--

"Wanted to make good before he quit, I suppose?"

"Will you have to stay on with that firm?" Mrs. Hart asked, taking up
Lanciani's "Pagan and Christian Rome."

"I suppose I'll have to for a time," answered Jackson, gloomily....


Thus these two accepted the dead man's will.  Powers Jackson had come
to his decision after long deliberation, judging that toward all who
might have claims of any kind upon him he had acted justly and
generously.  He had studied these people about him for a long time.
With Everett, who was only distantly related to him, he had acquitted
himself years before, when he had put it in the young man's way to make
money in his profession, to kill his prey for himself.  Jackson, he
deemed, would get most out of the fight of life by making the struggle,
as he had made it himself, unaided.  As for Helen, he had given the
girl what was most intimately his, and what would do her the least harm
by attracting to her the attention of the unscrupulous world.  There
remained what might be called his general account with the world, and
at the end he had sought to settle this, the largest of all.

Powers Jackson had not been a good man, as has been hinted, but that he
took his responsibilities to heart and struggled to meet them there can
be no doubt.  Whether or not he had chosen the best way to settle this
account with the world, by trying to help those to live who were
unfavored by birth, cannot be easily answered.  Conceiving it to be his
inalienable right to do with his money what he would, after death as in
life, he had tried to do something large and wise with it.  Thus far,
he had succeeded in embittering his nephew.



CHAPTER IV

The next morning Jackson Hart was once more bending over the large
sheets of the plans for the Denver hotel.  Now that he knew his fate,
the draughting-room under the great skylights of the Maramanoc Building
seemed like a prison indeed.  The men in the office, he felt sure, had
read all about the will, and had had their say upon his private affairs
before he had come in.  He could tell that from the additional
nonchalance in the manner of the head draughtsman, Cook, when he nodded
to him on his way to the cubby-hole where he worked.  Early in the
afternoon a welcome interruption came to him in the shape of an urgent
call from the electricians working on the Canostota apartment house on
the South Side.  The head of the office asked Hart to go to the
Canostota and straighten the men out, as Harmon, their engineer, was at
home ill.

As Jackson crossed the street to take the elevated train he met his
cousin.  They walked together to the station, and as Wheeler was
turning away, the architect broke out:--

"I've been thinking over uncle's will.  I can't say I think it was
fair,--to treat me like that after--after all these years."

The lawyer smiled coldly.

"I didn't get much, either," he remarked.

"Well, that don't make it any better; besides, you have had as good as
money from him long ago.  Your position and mine aren't just the same."

"No, that's so," the lawyer admitted.  "But what are you going to do
about it?"

"I don't know yet.  I want to think it over.  How long"--he hesitated
before finishing his thought.

"How long have you to give notice you want to contest?  About three
weeks," Wheeler replied coolly.  "Of course you know that if you fight
you'll put your mother's legacy in danger.  And I rather guess
Hollister and the judge wouldn't compromise."

"And you?"

Wheeler shrugged his shoulders.

"Oh, I suppose I should stick with the others."

Then Wheeler nodded and was off down the street.  He did not appear to
be surprised or disturbed by what his cousin had told him.  Hart,
pondering the matter in perplexity, continued on his way to the
Canostota.  There he found the foreman for the electrical contractor,
and spent a busy hour explaining to the man the intricacies of the
office blue prints.  Then the steam-fitter got hold of him, and it was
nearly five o'clock before he had time to think of himself or his own
affairs.  As he emerged from the basement by a hole left in the floor
for the plumbers and steam-fitters to run their pipes through, he
noticed a space where a section of the fireproof partition had been
accidentally knocked out.  Through this hole he could see one of the
steel I-beams that supported the flooring above, where it had been
drilled to admit the passing of a steam pipe.  Something unusual in the
appearance of the metal caught his eye, and he paused where he was,
halfway out of the basement, to look at it again.  The I-beam seemed
unaccountably thin and slight.  He felt in his pocket for a small rule
that he usually carried with him.  He was not quite familiar, even yet,
with the material side of building in America; but he knew in a general
way the weights and thicknesses of steel beams that were ordinarily
specified in Wright's office for buildings of this size.

"How's this, Davidson?" he asked the steam-fitter, who was close at his
heels.  "Isn't that a pretty light fifteen-inch I-beam?"

The workman looked absolutely blank.

"I dunno.  I expect it's what's called for."

Even if the man had known that something was wrong about the steel, he
would have said nothing.  It was silly to ask a subcontractor to give
evidence damaging to his employer.  The architect stooped and asked the
man to hand him his calipers.  As he was trying to measure the section
of steel, he saw a man's face looking down at him from the floor above.
Presently a burly form appeared in the opening, and Jackson recognized
Graves, who was the general contractor for the building.

"We haven't begun to patch up the tile yet," the contractor observed,
nodding to the architect.  "We thought we'd leave it open here and
there until Mr. Harmon could get around and look into things.  I'm
expecting Mr. Wright will be out here the first of the week, too."

The contractor talked slowly, without taking his eyes from Hart.  He
was a large, full-bearded man, with a manner self-confident or
assuming, as one chose to take it.  Hart was always at a loss how to
treat a man like Graves,--whether as a kind of upper workman to be
ordered about, or as a social equal.

"Is that so?" he asked in a non-committal tone.  "Mr. Harmon hasn't
been out here much of late?"

"No, sir.  It must be three weeks or more since Mr. Harmon was here
last.  He's been sick that long, ain't he?"

The steam-fitter had slipped away.  Hart had it on his lips to ask the
contractor to show him the specifications for the steel work, but he
was not sure that this was the proper method of procedure.  Graves kept
his cool gray eyes fastened on the young architect, while he said:--

"That's why I've been keeping things back, so as Mr. Wright could
satisfy himself that everything was all right.  A terribly particular
man, that Mr. Wright.  If you can please him!"

He was studying the young man before him, and very ably supplying
answers to the architect's doubts before he could express them.  The
contractor did not pause to give Hart time to think, but kept his
stream of slow, confident words flowing over the architect.

"You fellows give us a lot of bother.  Now take that tile.  Mr. Wright
specifies Caper's A1, which happens to be out of the market just now.
To please him I sent to Cleveland and Buffalo for some odds and ends
they had down there.  But there are a dozen makes just as good!"

He spoke like a man who did always a little more than his duty.
Although the architect was conscious of the skilful manner in which his
attention was being switched from the steel beams, he felt inclined to
trust the man and judged his suspicions to be ill-timed.

Graves was not one of the larger contractors employed on the firm's
buildings.  He had worked up from small beginnings as a master mason,
and Wright, having used him on several little commissions, had always
found him eager to do his best.  This was the first job of any
considerable size that Graves had done for the firm, and he had got
this by under-bidding considerably all the other general contractors
who had been invited to bid on the work.  These facts Hart did not
happen to know.

"Are you going north, Mr. Hart?" Graves asked, as they turned to the
street entrance.  "My team is just outside.  Shall be pleased to give
you a lift."

Speaking thus he ushered the architect from the Canostota where the
dusk was already falling.  The building rose sheer and massive, six
stories above their heads, with rows of unglassed windows like
sightless eyes.  Jackson looked up at it critically, admitting to
himself frankly Wright's ability and restrained taste.  This apartment
building stood out from its vulgar neighbors with a kind of
aristocratic distinction that called the passer-by to admire its frugal
plainness.

The contractor's horse was a nervous, fast little beast.  The light
runabout whirled into the broad avenue of Grand Boulevard, and there
Graves let the animal out for a couple of blocks.  A thin smile of
satisfaction wrinkled the contractor's bearded lips.  Then he pulled on
the reins, and turned in his seat to face the architect.

"I'm glad of this chance to get acquainted with you, Mr. Hart," he
began pleasantly.  "I have been thinking lately that we might be of
some use to each other."

He paused to let his words sink into his companion's mind.  Then he
resumed in a reflective manner:--

"I ain't content to build just for other folks.  I want to put up
something on my own account.  Oh, nothing like as fine as that
Canostota, but something pretty and attractive, and a building that
will pay good.  I've just the lot for it, out south alongside
Washington Park.  It's a peach!  A corner and two hundred feet.  Say!
Why won't you come out right now and have a look at it?  Can you spare
the time?  Good."

The little runabout whisked around, and they went speeding south over
the hard boulevard.

"Now's about the time to build.  I've owned the property ever since the
slump in real estate right after the fair.  Well, I want an architect
on my own account!  I suppose I could go to one of those Jews who sell
their dinky little blue prints by the yard.  Most of the flat buildings
hereabouts come that way.  But I want something swell.  That's going to
be a fine section of the city soon, and looks count in a building, as
elsewhere."

Hart laughed at this cordial testimony to his art.

"There's your boss, Wright.  But he's too high-toned for me,--wouldn't
look at anything that toted up less than the six figures.  And I guess
he don't do much designing himself.  He leaves that to you young
fellows, don't he?"

Hart could see, now, the idea that was in the contractor's mind, and
his interest grew.  They pulled up near the south corner of the Park,
beside some vacant land.  It was, as Graves said, a very favorable spot
for a showy apartment building.

"I want something real handsome," the contractor continued.  "It'll be
a high-priced building.  And I think you are the man to do it."

Graves brought this out like a shot.

"Why, I should like to think of it," the architect began
conventionally, not sure what he ought to say.

"Yes, you're the man.  I saw the plans for that Aurora church one day
while I was waiting to talk with Mr. Wright, and I said to myself then,
'There's the man to draw my plans when I get ready to build.  The
feller that designed that church has got something out of the ordinary
in him!  He's got style!'"

Praise, even from the mob, is honey to the artist.  Jackson
instinctively thought better of the self-confident contractor, and
decided that he was a bluff, honest man,--common, but well meaning.

"Well, what do you say, Mr. Hart?"


It ended with Hart's practically agreeing to prepare a preliminary
sketch.  When it came to the matter of business, the young architect
found that, notwithstanding the contractor's high consideration of his
talent, he was willing to offer only the very lowest terms for his
work.  He told the contractor, however, that he would consider his
offer, remarking that he should have to leave Wright's office before
undertaking the commission.

"But," he said with a sudden rush of will, "I was considering starting
for myself very soon, anyway."

It was not until after the contractor had dropped him at his club in
the down-town district that he remembered the steel beams in the
Canostota.  Then it occurred to him that possibly, had it not been for
the accident which had brought Graves to that part of the building just
as he was on his knees trying to measure the thickness of the metal,
the contractor might not have discovered his great talent.  As he
entered the club washroom, the disagreeable thought came to him that,
if the I-beams were not right, Graves had rather cleverly closed his
mouth about the Canostota.  In agreeing to do a piece of work for
Wright's contractor, he had placed himself where he could not easily
get that contractor into trouble with his present employer.

As he washed his hands, scrubbing them as if they had been pieces of
wood in order to remove the afternoon's dirt, he felt that there was
more than one kind of grime in the city.



CHAPTER V

There were very few men to be found in the club at this hour.  The
dingy library, buzzing like a beehive at noon with young men, was empty
now except for a stranger who was whiling away his time before a dinner
engagement.  Most of the men that the architect met at this club were,
like himself, younger members of the professions, struggling upward in
the crowded ranks of law, medicine, architecture.  Others were employed
in brokers' offices, or engaged in general business.  Some of them had
been his classmates in Cornell, or in the technological school, and
these had welcomed him with a little dinner on his return from Paris.

After that cheerful reunion he had seen less of these old friends than
he had hoped to when he had contemplated Chicago from his Paris
apartment.  Perhaps there had been something of envy among them for
Jackson Hart.  Things had seemed very pleasantly shaped for him, and
Chicago is yet a community that resents special favors.

Every one was driving himself at top speed.  At noon the men fell
together about the same table in the grill-room,--worried, fagged,
preoccupied.  As soon as the day's work was over, their natural
instinct was to flee from the dirt and noise of the business street,
where the club was situated, to the cleaner quarters north or south, or
to the semi-rural suburbs.  Thus the centrifugal force of the city was
irresistible.

To-night there were a number of young men in the card-room, sitting
over a game of poker, which, judging from the ash-trays on the table,
had been in progress since luncheon.  Several other men, with hats on
and coats over their arms, were standing about the table, looking on.

"Well, Jackie, my boy!" one of the players called out, "where have you
been hiding yourself this week?"

Ben Harris, the man who hailed the architect, had apparently been
drinking a good deal.  The other men at the table called out sharply,
"Shut up, Ben.  Play!"

But the voluble Harris, whose drink had made him more than usually
impudent, remarked further:--

"Say, Jack! ain't you learned yet that we don't pattern after the
German Emperor here in Chicago?  Better comb out your mustache, or
they'll be taking you for some foreign guy."

Hart merely turned his back on Harris, and listened with exaggerated
interest to what a large, heavy man, with a boy's smooth face, was
saying:--

"He was of no special 'count in college,--a kind of second-rate
hustler, you know.  But, my heavens!  Since he struck this town, he's
got in his work.  I don't believe he knows enough law to last him over
night.  But he knows how to make the right men think he does.  He
started in to work for those Selinas Mills people,--damage suits and
collecting.  Here in less than five years he's drawing the papers for
the consolidation of all the paper-mills in the country!"

"Who's that, Billy?" Hart asked.

"Leverett, Joe Leverett.  He was Yale '89, and at the law school with
me."

"He must have the right stuff in him, all the same," commented one man.

"I don't know about that!" the first speaker retorted.  "Some kind of
stuff, of course.  But I said he was no lawyer, and never will be, and
I repeat it.  And what's more, half the men who are earning the big
money in law here in Chicago don't know enough law to try a case
properly."

"That's so," assented one man.

"Same thing in medicine."

"Oh, it's the same all over."

The men about the card-table launched out into a heated discussion of
the one great topic of modern life--Success.  The game of poker finally
closed, and the players joined in the conversation.  Fresh drinks were
ordered, and cigars were passed about.  The theme caught the man most
eager to go home, and fired the brain most fagged.

"The pity of it, too," said the large man called Billy, dominating the
room with his deep voice and deliberate speech,--"the pity of it is
that it ruins the professions.  You can see it right here in Chicago.
Who cares for fine professional work, if it don't bring in the stuff?
Yes, look at our courts! look at our doctors!  And look at our
buildings.  It's money every time.  The professions have been
commercialized."

"Oh, Billy!" exclaimed Ben Harris.  "Is this a commencement oration you
are giving us?"

A quiet voice broke in from behind the circle:--

"There's much in what you say, Mr. Blount.  Time has been when it meant
something of honor for a man to be a member of one of the learned
professions.  Men were content to take part of their pay in honor and
respect from the community.  There's no denying that's all changed now.
We measure everything by one yardstick, and that is money.  So the able
lawyer and the able doctor have joined the race with the mob for the
dollars.  But"--his eye seemed to rest on the young architect, who was
listening attentively--"that state of affairs can't go on.  When we
shake down in this modern world of ours, and have got used to our
wealth, and have made the right adjustment between capital and
labor,--the professions, the learned professions, will be elevated once
more.  Men are so made that they want to respect something.  And in the
long run they will respect learning, ideas, and devotion to the public
welfare."

The speaker's eye seemed to challenge the young architect, who listened
attentively, without thorough conviction.  Something in the older man
antagonized Jackson's mood.  It was easy enough for a man like
Pemberton with an assured position and comfortable means to take lofty
views!

"That's all right, Pemberton," Harris retorted.  "That's first-class
talk.  But I guess I see about as much of human nature in my business
as any man, and I tell you, it's only human nature to get what you can
out of the game.  What men respect in this town is money,--first, last,
and all the time.  So it's only natural for a man, whether he is a
lawyer or anything else, to do as the other Romans do."

Harris brought his bony, lined hand down on the card-table with a
thump, and leaned forward, thrusting out his long, unshaven chin at the
older man who had spoken.  His black hair, which was thin above the
temples and across the middle of his head, was rumpled, his collar
bent, and his cuffs blackened about the edges.  Hart had known him as a
boy twelve years before at the South Side High School.  Thence he had
gone to a state university where four years had made little impression,
at least externally, on his raw character, and then he had entered a
broker's office, and had made money on the Board of Trade.  Lately it
had been reported that he was losing money in wheat.

"Yes, sir," he snarled on, having suppressed the others for the moment.
"It don't make much difference, either, how you get your money so far
as I can see.  Whether you do a man in a corner in wheat, or run a pool
room.  All is, if you want to be in the game, you must have the price
of admission about you.  And the rest is talk for the ladies and the
young."

Pemberton replied in a severe tone:--

"That is easy to say and easy to believe.  But when I think of the
magnificent gift to the public just made by one of these very men whom
you would consider a mere money-grabber, I confess I am obliged to
doubt your easy analysis of our modern life!"

Pemberton spoke with a kind of authority.  He was one of the older men
of the club, much respected in the city, and perfectly fearless.  But
the broker, also, feared no man's opinion.

"Gifts to education!" sneered Ben Harris.  "That's what they do to show
off when they're through with their goods.  Anyway, there's too much
education going around.  It don't count.  The only thing that counts,
to-day, here, now, is money.  Can you make it or steal it or--inherit
it!"

He looked across the room at Jackson Hart and laughed.  The architect
disliked this vulgar reference to his own situation, but, on the whole,
he was much more inclined to agree with the broker than he would have
been a few days earlier.

"I am sorry that such ideas should be expressed inside this club,"
Pemberton answered gravely.  "If there is one place in this city where
the old ideals of the professions should be reverenced, where men
should deny that cheap philosophy of the street, by their acts as well
as by their words, it should be here in this club."

Some of the others in the group nodded their approval of this speech.
They said nothing, however; for the conversation had reached a point of
delicacy that made men hesitate to say what they thought.  Pemberton
turned on his heel and walked away.  The irrepressible Harris called
after him belligerently:--

"Oh, I don't know about that, now, Mr. Pemberton.  It takes all kinds
of men to make a club, you know."

As the little group broke up, Harris linked his arm in Hart's.

"I've got something to say to you, Jackie," he said boisterously.
"We'll order dinner, if you are free, and I'll put you up to something
that's better than old Pemberton's talk.  It just occurred to me while
we were gassing here."

The young architect did not quite like Harris's style, but he had
already planned to dine at the club, and they went upstairs to the
dining-room together.  He was curious to hear what the broker might
have to suggest to him.

Hart had agreed with Pemberton's ideas, naturally enough, in the
abstract.  But in the concrete, the force of circumstances, here in
this roaring city where he found himself caught, was fast preparing him
to accept the Harris view.  Like most men of his class he was neither
an idealist nor a weakling: he was merely a young man, still making up
his character as he went along, and taking color more or less from the
landscape he found himself in.

His aspirations for art, if not fine, were sufficiently earnest and
sincere.  He had always thought of himself as luckily fortuned, so that
he could devote himself to getting real distinction in his profession.
So he had planned his life in Paris.  Now, brought back from that
pleasant world into this stern city, with all its striving, apparently,
centred upon the one business of making money, then deprived by what
seemed to him a harsh and unfair freak of fortune of all his pleasant
expectations, he was trying to read the face of Destiny.  And there he
seemed to find written what this gritty broker had harshly expressed.
There was, to be sure, another road to fortune, which had not been
mentioned, and that was to make a rich marriage.  This road had been
followed with signal success by a number of his acquaintances: it was
one of the well-recognized methods of attaining that point of vantage
which he had hoped to inherit,--to win one of the daughters of wealth!
And since his return from Europe the young architect had had his
opportunities in the society where he had been welcomed.  But apart
from his growing love for Helen Spellman, he was too sturdy a man to
like this easy method of advancement.  He turned from the idea with
instinctive repugnance, and an honest feeling of contempt for the men
who in that way had sneaked into fortune.

"Say, you've got a good friend in Mrs. Will Phillips," Harris began
bluntly when they were seated opposite each other.

"Oh, Mrs. Phillips!  I used to see something of her in Paris," Jackson
acknowledged indifferently.

He remembered that he had not followed the widow's invitation to call
upon her, all thought of her having been driven out of his mind by the
happenings of the last few days.

"I rather think she would like to see more of you in Chicago!" the
broker laughed back.

"How do you know?" Hart asked, wondering where Harris's path crossed
that of the gay Mrs. Phillips.

"Oh, I know all right.  She's a good customer of ours.  I've been
talking to her half the afternoon about things."

"Oh!" Jackson exclaimed, not much interested in the subject.

The broker's next remark had nothing to do with Mrs. Phillips.

"You fellows don't make much money building houses.  Ain't that so?
You need other jobs.  Well, I am going to give you a pointer."

He stopped mysteriously, and then began again:--

"I happen to know that the C. R. and N. Road is going to put a lot of
money into improvements this summer.  Among other things they're
getting ready to build new stations all along the north shore
line,--you know, up through the suburbs,--Forest Park, Shoreham, and so
on.  They've got a lot of swell patronage out that way, and they are
making ready for more."

Hart listened to the broker with renewed interest.  He wondered how
Harris should happen to know this news ahead of the general public, and
he began to see the connection it might have with his own fortune.

"That's where they are going to put a lot of their surplus earnings.
Now, those stations must be the top of the style,--real buildings, not
sheds.  And I don't think they have any architect yet."

"Well!" the architect remarked cynically.  "The president or one of the
vice-presidents will have a son, or nephew, or some one to work in.
Or, perhaps, they may have a competitive trial for the plans."

"Perhaps they will, and perhaps they won't," Harris answered knowingly.
"The man who will decide all that is their first
vice-president,--Raymond, Colonel Stevens P. Raymond,--know him?"

Hart shook his head.

"Well, Mrs. Phillips does.  He lives out in Forest Park, where she's
thinking of building a big house."

"Is Mrs. Phillips thinking of building in Forest Park?" the architect
asked quickly.

Harris looked at him in a bored manner.

"Why, I thought you were going to draw the plans!"

"She asked me to come to see her," Hart admitted.  "But that was all.
I thought it was just a social matter."

"Well, if a rich and good-looking woman asked me to call on her, I
shouldn't take all year about making up my mind!"

Jackson could not help thinking that it would be more embarrassing to
call on the widow now than if he had not had this talk with the broker.
His relations with Mrs. Phillips in Paris had been pleasant, unalloyed
with business.  He remembered how he had rather patronized the
ambitious young woman, who had desired to meet artists, to go to their
studios, and to give little dinners where every one talked French but
her stupid husband.

"The widow Phillips thinks a lot of your ability, Jackie, and old
S.P.R. thinks a lot of the widow.  Now do you see?"

The architect laughed nervously.  He could see plainly enough what was
meant, but he did not like it altogether.

"She can do what she likes with the old man.  The job is as good as
yours, if you work it properly.  I've given you the tip straight ahead
of the whole field.  Not a soul knows that the C. R. and N. is going in
for this kind of thing."

"It would be a big chance," the architect replied.  "It was good of you
to think of me, Ben."

"That's all right.  It popped into my head when that ass Pemberton
began his talk about your uncle's gift to the public.  I must say,
Jack, it seemed to me a dirty trick of the old man to cut you out the
way he did.  Are you going to fight the will, or is it so fixed that
you can't?"

"I don't know, yet, what I shall do about it."

"To bring a fellow up as he did you, and then knock on him at the
end,--it's just low down!"

That was the view Jackson Hart was more and more inclined to take of
his uncle's will, and he warmed to the coarse, outspoken broker, who
had shown him real friendliness when he was no longer in a position to
be of importance to any one.  Harris seemed to him to be warm-blooded
and human.  The young architect was beginning to feel that this was not
a world for delicacy of motive and refinement.  When he suggested
diffidently that some large firm of architects would probably be chosen
by the C. R. and N. people, Harris said:--

"Rats!  Raymond won't hunt round for references, beyond what Mrs.
Phillips will give him.  You see her as quick as you can and tell her
you want the chance."

The Opportunity which Harris had suggested would be given to him by a
woman.  Yet, however much he might dislike to go to a woman for such
help, the chance began to loom large in his imagination.  Here was
something that even Wright would be glad to have.  He saw himself in
his own office, having two large commissions to start with, and
possibly a third,--Mrs. Phillips's new house in Forest Park!

Perhaps Wright did know, after all, about the C. R. and N. matter.
Hart's fighting blood rose: he would do his best to snatch this good
thing from him, or from any other architect!  And to do it he would
take the readiest means at hand.  He forgot his contempt for that
American habit of pull which he had much deplored in studio
discussions.  All that had been theory; this was personal and
practical.  When Harris had to leave, after coffee, the architect shook
him warmly by the hand and thanked him again for his friendliness.

Within the day Fortune had smiled upon him twice.  Neither time, to be
sure, was the way to her favor quite what he would have chosen if he
could have chosen.  But one must not discriminate too nicely, the young
man was beginning to feel, when one picks up the cards to play....

Below, from the busy street, rose the piercing note of the
city,--rattle, roar, and clang,--scarcely less shrill at eight of an
evening than at noon.  From the bulk-heads on the roof of the next
building soared a drab-colored cloud of steam, eddying upwards even to
the open windows of the club dining-room.  The noise, the smell, the
reek of the city touched the man, folded him in, swayed him like a
subtle opiate.  The thirst of the terrible game of living, the desire
of things, the brute love of triumph, filled his veins.  Old Powers
Jackson, contemptuously putting him to one side, had unconsciously
worked this state of mind in him.  He, Jackson Hart, would show the
world that he could fight for himself, could snatch the prize that
every one was fighting for, the supreme prize of man's life to-day--a
little pot of gold!



CHAPTER VI

"How did young Mr. Hart take the will?" Mrs. Phillips asked her
brother-in-law the first time she saw him after the funeral.

"Why, all right, I guess," the judge answered slowly.  "Why shouldn't
he?"

"I hoped he would fight it," the widow replied, eying the judge calmly.

"I believe he isn't that much of a fool.  Just because Powers looked
after his mother, and fed him all these years, and gave him an
expensive education,--why should he be obliged to leave the chap all
his money, if he didn't want to?"

Mrs. Phillips avoided a direct reply, and continued to announce her
opinions,--a method of conversation which she knew was highly
irritating to the judge.

"Philanthropy!  What's the use of such philanthropy?  The city has
enough schools.  It's all foolishness to give your money to other
people to eat up!"

"That is a matter of feeling," Judge Phillips answered dryly.  "I
shouldn't expect you to feel as Powers did about such things."

Harrison Phillips had few illusions concerning his sister-in-law, and
she knew it.  Years before they had reached the point where they
dispensed with polite subterfuges and usually confined their social
intercourse to the superficial surface of conversation.  He had known
her ever since she came to Chicago from a little Illinois town to study
music.  Indeed, he had first introduced his younger brother to her, he
remembered unhappily.  She was Louise Faunce, then,--a keen, brown-eyed
country girl of eighteen.  When Will Phillips wanted to marry her, the
judge had already felt the pretty girl's little claws, and had been
foolish enough to warn his brother of his fate.  Will Phillips was a
dull young man, and had poor health.  The older brother knew that Will
was being married for his money,--a considerable fortune for a girl
from Ottumwa, Illinois.

And the marriage had not been a happy one.  The last years of his life
Will Phillips had taken to drinking.  The judge felt that the wife had
driven his brother to his sodden end, and he hated her for it, with a
proper and legal hatred.  Six months before his end Will Phillips had
come home from Europe, leaving his two children in Paris with his wife,
apparently for an indefinite separation.  Why the widow had chosen to
return to Chicago after her husband's death was a mystery to the judge,
who never gave Louise Phillips credit for half her character.  For she
was shrewd enough to perceive that neither she nor her children could
have any permanent position in the world outside of Chicago.  And she
had no mind to sacrifice the social position that her husband's family
and friends had made for her.

She told her brother-in-law on her return that she had found Europe an
unsuitable place in which to bring up the children, and proposed before
long to build a new house, perhaps in Forest Park,--one of the older
and more desirable suburbs to the north of the city.

"I must make a home for my children among their father's friends," she
said to the judge with perfect propriety.  "Venetia, especially, should
have the right background now that she is becoming a young woman."

Venetia--so named in one of the rare accesses of sentiment which came
to Mrs. Phillips, as to all mortals, because it was to Venice that she
had first been taken as a young bride--was now sixteen years old.  Her
brother Stanwood, a year younger, had been placed in a fashionable
Eastern school, where he was preparing for Yale, and ultimately for the
"career of diplomacy," as his mother called it.

The judge, who was trustee for his brother's children, had called this
Sunday afternoon to discuss the project of the new house with his
sister-in-law.  She had notified him that she should need presently a
considerable sum of money, and expected to take a part of it, at least,
from the children's inheritance.  About this money matter they had come
to a warm difference of opinion, which Mrs. Phillips had put aside
momentarily to discuss the Jackson will.


"If you will wait," she remarked, having exhausted her opinion about
philanthropy and Powers Jackson's will, "you might see my architect.  I
have asked Mr. Hart to call this afternoon."

"I don't pine to see him," the old man retorted testily.  "So you have
gone that far?"

"Yes!  There isn't the slightest use of being disagreeable about it,
you see.  Nothing that you can say will change my mind.  It never has.
You would like to keep me from spending the money.  But you can't
without a row, a scandal.  Besides, I know it will be a good investment
for both the children."

"You were always pretty keen for a good investment!"

"You mean by that sarcasm that you think I was sharp when I married
your brother, because I had nothing but my good looks.  They were
certainly worth as much as a husband--who--drank himself--to death."

"We won't go into that, please," the judge said, his bright blue eyes
glittering.  "I hope, Louise, to live to see the day when you get what
you deserve,--just how I don't know."

"Thank you, Harrison," Mrs. Phillips replied unperturbed.  "We all do
get what we deserve, sooner or later, don't we?"

"Sometimes I give up hope!" the old man exclaimed irascibly.

"There's my young man now!" she observed, looking out of the window.
"If you want to know just what extravagances I am going into, you had
better wait."

"I'll know soon enough!  Where's Ven?  I want to see her."

"She should be out riding with John."


Mrs. Phillips rose from her deep chair to greet the architect.  All at
once her face and manner seemed to lose the hard, cold surface that she
had presented to the judge, the surface of a middle-aged, shrewd woman.
Suddenly she expanded, opened herself graciously to the young man.

The old gentleman stalked out of the drawing-room, with a curt nod and
a grunt for Hart.  The architect looked to the widow for an explanation
of the stormy atmosphere, but, ignoring the judge, she smiled all the
warmer welcome to her visitor.

"So good of you to answer my note promptly," she murmured.  "For I know
how busy you are!"

"I had already promised myself the pleasure for to-day," Jackson
replied quickly, using a phrase he had thought up on his way into the
room.

And as he looked at her resting in her deep chair, he realized that it
was a distinct pleasure to be there.  He felt that here in Chicago even
in the ugly drawing-room of the old-fashioned house Mrs. Will Phillips
was much more of a person than she had been in Paris.  Still, here as
there, the woman in her was the first and last fact.  She was
thirty-seven, and in the very best of health.  To one who did not lay
exclusive emphasis on mere youth, the first bloom of the fruit, she was
much more beautiful than when, as a raw girl from Ottumwa, she had
married Willie Phillips.  Sensitive, nervous, in the full tide of her
physical life, she had what is euphemistically called to-day
temperament.  To this instinctive side of the woman, the handsome,
strong young man had always appealed.

It is also true that she was clever, and had learned with great
rapidity how to cover up the holes of a wretched education.  At first,
however, a man could think of but one thing in the presence of Mrs.
Phillips: "You are a woman, and a very inviting one!"

Doubtless she meant that men should think that, and nothing more, at
first.  Those who had come through the fire, to whom she was cold and
hard, like an inferior gem, might say later with the judge:--

"Louise flings her sex at you from the first smile.  If you feel that
sort of thing, the only thing to do is to run."

Jackson Hart had not yet reached this point of human experience.
Nevertheless, he was but dimly aware that the woman opposite him
troubled his mind, preoccupied as it happened to be with business, like
a too pronounced perfume.  Here, in the hard atmosphere of an American
city, he was not inclined to remember the sentimentalities of his Paris
days and was more interested in the widow's prospective house than in
her personal charms.  Accordingly, Mrs. Phillips, with quick
perception, soon dropped the reminiscential tone that she had been
inclined to take at first.  She came promptly to business:--

"Could you consider a small commission, Mr. Hart?" she asked with
apparent hesitation.

The architect would have undertaken to build a doll's house.
Nevertheless, his heart sank at the word "small."

"I so much want your advice, at any rate.  I value your taste so
highly.  You taught me how to look at things over there.  And we should
agree, I am sure!"

Then she unfolded more plainly her purpose of building in Forest Park.
She had thought of something Tudor.  (She had been visiting at a Tudor
house in the East.)  But the architect, without debating the point,
sketched on the back of an envelope the outline of an old French
château,--a toy study in part of the famous château at Chenonceaux.

"What a lovely roof!" Mrs. Phillips exclaimed responsively.  "And how
the thing grows under your hand!  It seems as though you must have had
just what I wanted in mind."  She leaned over the little piece of
paper, fascinated by the architect's facility.

As he drew in the façade, he noticed that the widow had very lovely
hair, of a tone rarely found in America, between brown and
black,--dusky.  Then he remembered that he had made the same
observation before in Paris.  The arch of her neck, which was strong
and full, was also excellent.  And her skin was of a perfect pallor.

By the time he had made these observations and finished his rough
little sketch, the Tudor period had been forgotten, and the question of
the commission had been really decided.  There remained to be debated
the matter of cost.  After one or two tactful feints the architect was
forced to ask bluntly what the widow expected to spend on the house.
At the mention of money Mrs. Phillips's brows contracted slightly.  A
trace of hardness, like fine enamel, settled on her features.

"What could you build it for?" she demanded brusquely.

"Why, on a thing like this you can spend what you like," he stammered.
"Of course a house in Forest Park ought to be of a certain kind,--to be
a good investment," he added politely.

"Of course.  Would twenty-five thousand dollars be enough?"

The architect felt relieved on hearing the size of the figure, but he
had had time to realize that this agreeable client might be close in
money matters.  It would be well to have her mind keyed to a liberal
figure at the start, and he said boldly:--

"You could do a good deal for that.  But not a place like this,--such a
one as you ought to have, Mrs. Phillips," he added, appealing to her
vanity.

Once he had called her Louise, and they both were conscious of the
fact.  Nevertheless, she eyed him keenly.  She was quite well aware
that he wanted to get all the freedom to develop his sketch that a good
sum of money would give, and also had in mind the size of his fee,
which would be a percentage of the cost.  But this consideration did
not offend her.  In this struggle, mental and polite, over the common
topic of money, she expected him to assert himself.

"It's no use being small in such matters," she conceded at length,
having reflected on the profits of certain dealings with Ben Harris's
firm.  "Let us say fifty thousand!"

"That's much more possible!" the architect replied buoyantly, with a
vague idea already forming that his sketches might call for a house
that would cost seventy or seventy-five thousand dollars to complete.

The money matter out of the way, the widow relapsed into her friendly
manner.

"I hope you can begin right away!  I am so anxious to get out of this
old barn, and I want to unpack all the treasures I bought in Europe the
last time."

Judge Phillips would have shuddered to hear his brother's large brick
house, encircled in Chicago fashion by a neat strip of grass, referred
to as a "barn."  And the architect, on his side, knowing something of
Louise Phillips's indiscriminate taste in antiquities, was resolved to
cull the "treasures" before they found a place in his edifice.

"Why, I'll begin on some sketches right away.  If they please you, I
could do the plans at once--just as soon as I get my own office," he
added honestly.  "You know I have been working for Walker, Post, and
Wright.  But I am going to leave them very soon."

"I am glad to hear that," Mrs. Phillips replied sympathetically.  "It
ought to have been so different.  I think that will was disgraceful!  I
hope you can break it."

"I don't know that I shall try," he answered hastily, startled at the
widow's cool comment on his uncle's purposes.

"Well, you know best, I suppose.  But _I_ should think a long time
before I let them build that school."

"At any rate, it looks now as if I should want all the work I can get,"
he answered, looking into her eyes, and thinking of what Harris had
told him of the G. R. and N. job.  He had it on his lips to add, "Can't
you say a word for me to your friend Colonel Raymond?"  But he could
not bring himself easily to the point of asking outright for business
favors at a woman's hand.  While he hesitated, not finding a phrase
sufficiently delicate to express the idea, she happily saved him from
the crudity of open speech.

"Perhaps I can help you in certain ways.  There's something--  Well, we
won't begin on that to-day.  But you can rest assured that I am your
friend, can't you?"

They understood each other thus easily.  He knew that she was well
aware of what was in his mind, and was disposed to help him to the full
extent of her woman's power.  In his struggle for money and
place,--things that she appreciated,--she would be an able friend.

Having come to a complete agreement on a number of matters, in the
manner of a man and a woman, they began to talk of Paris and of other
days.  Outside in the hall there was the sound of steps, and a
laughing, vigorous girl's voice.  The architect could see a thin, tall
girl, as she threw her arms about Judge Phillips's plump neck and
pulled his head to a level with her mouth.  He noticed that Mrs.
Phillips was also watching this scene with stealthy eyes.  When the
door had closed upon the judge, she called:--

"Venetia, will you come here, dear!  I want you to meet Mr. Hart.  You
remember Mr. Hart?"

The girl crossed the drawing-room slowly, the fire in her strangely
extinguished at the sound of her mother's voice.  She gave a bony
little hand to the architect, and nodded her head, like a rebellious
trick dog.  Then she drew away from the two and stood beside the
window, waiting for the next order.

She was dark like her mother, but her features lacked the widow's
pleasant curves.  They were firm and square, and a pair of dark eyes
looked out moodily from under heavy eyebrows.  The short red lips were
full and curved, while the mother's lips were dangerously thin and
straight.  As the architect looked at the girl, standing tall and erect
in the light from the western window, he felt that she was destined to
be of some importance.  It was also plain enough that she and her
mother were not sympathetic.  When the widow spoke, the daughter seemed
to listen with the terrible criticism of youth lurking in her eyes.

A close observer would have seen, also, that the girl had in her a
capacity for passion that the mother altogether lacked.  The woman was
mildly sensuous and physical in mood, but totally without the strong
emotions of the girl that might sweep her to any act, mindless of fate.
When the clash came between the two, as it was likely to come before
long, the mother would be the one to retreat.

"Have you had your ride, dear?" Mrs. Phillips asked in soothing tones,
carefully prepared for the public.

"No, mamma.  Uncle Harry was here, you know."

"I am sorry not to have you take your ride every day, no matter what
happens," the mother continued, as if she had not heard the girl's
excuse.

"I had rather see uncle Harry.  Besides, Frolic went lame yesterday."

"You can always take my horse," Mrs. Phillips persisted, her eyebrows
contracting as they had over the money question.

A look of what some day might become contempt shadowed the girl's face.
She bowed to the architect in her stiff way which made him understand
that it was no recommendation to her favor to be her mother's friend,
and walked across the room with a dignity beyond the older woman's
power.

"She is at the difficult age," the mother murmured.

"She is growing beautiful!" Jackson exclaimed.

"I hope so," Mrs. Phillips answered composedly.  "When can you let me
see the sketches?"

"In two or three days."

"Won't you dine with us next Wednesday, then?"

She seemed to have arranged every detail of the transaction with
accuracy and care.



CHAPTER VII

The Spellmans lived on the other side of the city from Mrs. Phillips,
on Maple Street, very near the lake.  Their little stone-front,
Gothic-faced house was pretty nearly all the tangible property that Mr.
Spellman had to leave to his widow and child when he died, sixteen
years before.  There had been also his small interest in Jackson's
Bridge Works, an interest which at the time was largely speculative,
but which had enabled Powers Jackson to pay the widow a liberal income
without hurting her pride.

The house had remained very much what it had been during Mr. Spellman's
lifetime, its bright Brussels carpets and black-walnut furniture having
taken on the respectability of age and use.  Here, in this homely eddy
of the great city, mother and daughter were seated reading after their
early dinner, as was their custom.  Helen, having shown no aptitude for
society, after one or two seasons of playing the wall-flower at the
modest parties of their acquaintance, had resolutely sought her own
interests in life.  One of these was a very earnest attempt to get that
vague thing called an education.  Just at present, this consisted of
much reading of a sociological character suggested by a course of
university lectures which she had followed during the winter.

Mrs. Spellman, who had been turning the leaves of a magazine, finally
looked up from its pages and asked, "Have you seen Jackson since the
funeral?"

Helen dropped her book into her lap and looked at her mother with
startled eyes.

"No, mother.  I suppose he is very busy just now."

She spoke as if she had already asked herself this question a number of
times, and answered it in the same way without satisfaction.

"I wonder what he means to do about the will," Mrs. Spellman continued.
"It must have been a great disappointment to him.  I wonder if he had
any idea how it would be?"

"What makes you think he is disappointed?" the girl asked literally.

"Why, I saw Everett this morning, and he told me he thought his cousin
might contest the will.  He said Jackson was feeling very sore.  It
would be such a pity if there were any trouble over Powers's will!"

Helen shut the book in her lap and laid it on the table very firmly.

"How can Everett say such things!  You know, mother, Jackson would
never think of doing anything so--mean--so ungrateful!"

"Some people might consider that he was justified.  And it is a very
large sum of money.  If he had expectations of--"

"Just because uncle Powers was always so kind to him!" the girl
interrupted hotly.  "Was that any reason why he should leave him a lot
of his money?"

"My dear, most people would think it was a sufficient reason for
leaving him more than he did."

"Then most people are very self-interested!  Everett Wheeler might
expect it.  But Jackson has something better in life to do than worry
over not getting his uncle's money."

Mrs. Spellman, who had known Jackson since he was a child, smiled
wisely, but made no reply.

"What good would the money be to him?  Why should he want more than he
has,--the chance to do splendid things, to work for something better
than money?  That's the worst about men like Everett,--they think of
nothing but money, money, from morning to night.  He doesn't believe
that a man can care for any other thing."

"Poor Everett!" her mother remarked with quiet irony.  "He isn't
thinking of contesting the will, however."

"Nor is Jackson, I am sure!" the girl answered positively.

She rose from her chair by the lamp, and walked to and fro in the room.
When she stood she was a tall woman, almost large, showing the growth
that the New England stock can develop in a favorable environment.
While she read, her features had been quite dull, but they were fired
now with feeling, and the deep eyes burned.

Mrs. Spellman, whose thoughts had travelled rapidly, asked suddenly
with apparent irrelevancy:--

"How would you like to spend a year in Europe?"

"Why should we?" the girl demanded quickly, pausing opposite her
mother.  "What makes you say that?"

"There isn't much to keep us here," Mrs. Spellman explained.  "You
enjoyed your trip so much, and I am stronger now.  We needn't travel,
you know."

The girl turned away her face, as she answered evasively, "But why
should we go away?  I don't want to leave Chicago."

She divined that her mother was thinking of what had occurred to her
many times, as these last days had gone by without their seeing the
young architect.  Possibly, now that he knew himself to be without
fortune, he wished to show her plainly that there could be no question
of marriage between them.  She rejected the idea haughtily, and
resented her mother's acceptance of it which was implied in her
suggestion.  And even if it were so, she was not the one to admit to
herself the wound.  It would be no pleasure for her to go away.

Could it be true that he was thinking of fighting the will?  Her heart
scorned the suggestion, for there was in her one immense capacity, one
fiery power, and that was the instinct to transform all that she knew
and felt into something finer than it actually was.  Her eyes were
blind to the sordid lines in the picture; her ears deaf to the
discordant notes.  In that long passage home through the Mediterranean
and across the Atlantic her soul had given itself unknown to herself to
this man, and she could not admit the slightest disloyalty to her
conception of him!

She returned to her chair, resolutely picked up her book, and turned
the pages with a methodical, unseeing regularity.  As the clock tinkled
off nine strokes, Mrs. Spellman rose, kissed the girl, silently
pressing her fingers on the light folds of her hair, and went upstairs.
Another half hour went by; then, as the clock neared ten, the doorbell
rang.  Helen, recollecting that the servants had probably left the
kitchen, put down her book and stepped into the hall.  She waited a
moment there, but when the bell rang a second time she went resolutely
to the door and opened it.

"Oh!" she exclaimed.  "Jackson!  I thought it might be a tramp."

"Well, perhaps you aren't so far wrong," the architect answered with a
laugh.  "I've been walking miles.  Is it too late to come in?"

For answer she held the door wide open.

"I have been dining with Mrs. Phillips; she has asked me to draw some
plans for her," Jackson explained.  "As I came by the house, I thought
I would tell you and your mother about it."

"Mother has gone upstairs, but come in.  You know I always read late.
And I am so glad to hear about the plans."

The strong night wind brushed boisterously through the open door,
ruffling the girl's loosely coiled hair.  She put her hands to her head
to tighten the hairpins here and there.  If the man could have read
colors in the dark hall, he would have seen that Helen's face, usually
too pale, had flushed.  His ears were quick enough to detect the
tremulous note in her voice, the touch of surprise and sudden feeling.
It answered something electric in himself, something that had driven
him to her across the city straightway from Mrs. Phillips's house!

He followed her into the circle of lamplight, and sat down heavily in
the chair that she had been occupying.

"What's this thing you are reading?" he asked in his usual tone of
authority, picking up the bulky volume beneath the lamp.  "Hobson's
'Social Problem.'  Where did you get hold of that?  It's pretty heavy
reading, isn't it?"

His tolerantly amused tone indicated the value he put on women's
efforts to struggle with abstract ideas.

"Professor Sturges recommended it in his last lecture.  It isn't
hard--only it makes me feel so ignorant!"

"Um," he commented, turning over the leaves critically.

"But tell me about Mrs. Phillips and the house."

There was an awkward constraint between them, not that the hour or the
circumstance of their being alone made them self-conscious.  There was
nothing unusual in his being there late like this, after Mrs. Spellman
had gone upstairs.  But to-night there was in the air the consciousness
that many things had happened since they had been together alone: the
old man's death, the funeral, the will,--most of all the will!

He told her of the new house in Forest Park.  It had been decided upon
that evening, his preliminary sketches having been received
enthusiastically.  But he lacked all interest in it.  He was thinking
how the past week had changed everything in his life, and most of all
his relation with this girl.  Because of that he had not been to see
her before, and he felt uncertain of himself in being here now.

"Mother and I have just been speaking of you.  We haven't seen you
since the funeral, you know," Helen remarked, saying simply what was in
her mind.

Her words carried no reproach.  Yet at once he felt that he was put on
the defensive; it was not easy to explain why he had avoided the Maple
Street house.

"A lot has happened lately," he replied vaguely.  "Things have changed
pretty completely for me!"

A tone of bitterness crept into his voice in spite of himself.  He
wanted sympathy; for that, in part, he had come to her to-night.  At
the same time he felt that it was a weak thing to do, that he should
have gone almost anywhere but to her.

"It takes a man a few days to catch his breath," he continued, "when he
finds he's been cut off with a shilling, as they say in the play."

Her eyes dropped from his face, and her hands began to move restlessly
over the folds of her skirt.

"I've had a lot to think about--to look at the future in a new way.
There's no hope now of my leaving this place, thanks to uncle!"

"Oh!" she exclaimed in a low voice.  The coldness of her tone was not
lost upon the man.  He saw quickly that it would not do to admit to her
that he even contemplated contesting his uncle's will.  She was not
sympathetic in the manner of Mrs. Phillips!

"Of course," he hastened to add magnanimously, "uncle had a perfect
right to do as he liked.  It was his money.  But what could he have had
against me?"

"Why, nothing, I am sure!" she answered quickly.

"It looks, though, as if he had!"

"Why?" she stammered, trying to adjust herself to his level of thought.
"Perhaps he thought it was better so--better for you," she suggested
gently.  "He used to say that the men of his time had more in their
lives than men have nowadays, because they had to rely on themselves to
make all the fight from the beginning.  Nowadays so many young men
inherit capital and position.  He thought there were two great gifts in
life,--health and education.  When a man had those, he could go out to
meet the future bravely without any other help."

"Yes, I have heard him say all that," he hastened to admit.  "But the
world isn't running on just the same lines it was when uncle Powers was
working at the forge.  It's a longer road up these days."

"Is it?" the girl asked vaguely.  Then they were silent once more.

There was nothing of reproof in her words, yet he felt keenly the
difference in the atmosphere of this faded little Maple Street house
from the world he had been living in of late.  He had told himself for
the last week that now he could not marry this woman, that a great and
perfectly obvious barrier had been raised between them by his
disinheritance.  It had all been so clear to him from the first that he
had not questioned the idea.  This sacrifice of his love seemed to him
the greatest that his uncle had forced upon him, and as the days had
gone by he had thought incessantly how he might avoid it, how he might
obtain some part at least of that vanishing fortune.

This very evening he had had more talk about the will with the clever
Mrs. Phillips, and he had come away from her almost resolved to contest
the instrument.  On the morrow he would notify his cousin, consult a
lawyer, and take the preliminary steps.  On the very heels of that
decision there had come an irresistible desire to see this other
woman,--the longing for the antithesis which so often besets the
uncertain human will.  Nothing was more unlike Mrs. Phillips in his
horizon than this direct, inexperienced girl, full of pure enthusiasms!

Now Helen had made him feel very surely that nothing would remove him
farther from her than the act he was contemplating in order to obtain
her.  If she but knew his intention, she might scorn him forever!  He
had lost her somehow, either way, he kept saying to himself, as he sat
there trying to think calmly, to feel less.  And straightway he put
another black mark against his uncle's memory!

He had never cared to be near her so much as now.  Every soreness and
weakness of his spirit seemed to call out for her strong, capable hand.
Even the sensuous Mrs. Phillips, by some subtle crossing of the
psychological wires, had driven him back to this plain girl, with the
honest eyes and unimpassioned bosom.  So also had the slippery
contractor and the shrewd men at his club.  In fact, his world had
conspired to set him down here, before the one who alone knew nothing
of its logic!

"You haven't said anything about the school," Helen remarked after a
time.  "Aren't you glad!" she exclaimed, in the need of her spirit to
know him to be as generous as she thought him.  "It was so big, so
large-hearted of him!  Especially after all the bitter things the
papers had said about him,--to give pretty nearly everything he had
made, the whole work of his life, to help the working people--the very
ones who had so often misunderstood him and tried to hurt him.  He was
great enough to forget the strikes and the riots, and their shooting at
him!  He forgave them.  He saw why they erred, and he wanted to lift
them out of their hate and their ignorance.  He wanted to make their
lives happier and better!  Weren't you glad?  Wasn't it a splendid
answer to his enemies!"

Thus she idealized Powers Jackson, that hoary old he-wolf of the
prairies!  Strength and tenderness and generosity she saw in him and
nothing else, and she loved him as she might have loved her father,
unquestioningly.  In his somewhat loose attempt to return to the world
a part of the wealth he had got from it perhaps he had justified the
girl's vision of him.  Fierce and harsh as he had appeared to others,
was he not at the end hers rather than the world's?

The warmth of her feeling lent her quiet face glow and beauty.  She had
spoken fast, but in a distinct, low voice, which had a note of appeal
in it, coming from her desire to rouse the man.  For the moment she
succeeded.  He was ashamed to seem unworthy in her eyes, to harbor base
thoughts.

"Why, yes," he admitted; "as you put it, it seems fine.  But I don't
feel sure that I admire an old man's philanthropies, altogether.  He
doesn't want the money any longer,--that's a sure thing!  So he chucks
it into some big scheme or other that's likely to bring him a lot of
fame.  Uncle Powers was sharp enough in gathering his dollars, and in
keeping 'em too so long as he"--

"Oh!  How can you say that?  Don't!" the girl implored, looking at him
with troubled eyes.

If she had had much experience of men and things,--if she had had the
habit of mean interpretation,--she would have understood the
architect's perplexity long before this.  But added to her inexperience
was her persistent need of soul to see those she loved large and
generous.

"Well," Hart resumed, more guardedly, "I didn't mean any disrespect to
the old man.  It's only the oldest law of life that he lived up to.
And I guess he meant to have me learn that law as fast as I can.
You've got to fight for what you want in this world, and fight hard,
and fight all the time.  And there isn't much room for sentiment and
fine ideas and philanthropy until you are old, and have earned your
pile, and done your neighbor out of his in the process!"

She was silent, and he continued, willing to let her see some of the
harder, baser reaches of his mind:--

"It's just the same way with art.  It's only good when it succeeds.  It
doesn't live unless it can succeed in pleasing people, in making money.
I see that now!  Chicago has taught me that much in two years.  I'm
going to open my own shop as soon as I can and look for trade.  That's
what uncle wanted me to do.  If I get some big commissions, and put up
a lot of skyscrapers or mills, why, I shall have won out.  What does
any one care for the kind of work you do?  It's the price it brings
every time!"

"Don't say that!  Please, please don't talk that way, so bitterly."

There was real pain in her voice, and her eyes were filmed with
incipient tears.  He leaned forward in his low chair and asked
impetuously: "Why do you say that?  Why do you care what I say?"

Her lips trembled; she looked at him piteously for a moment, as if to
beg him not to force her to confess more openly how he had hurt her,
how much she could be hurt by seeing in him the least touch of
baseness.  She rose, without knowing what she did, in an unconscious
instinct for flight.  She twisted her hands nervously, facing him, as
he rose, too, with her misty, honest eyes.

"Tell me!" he whispered.  "Do you care?"

"Don't," she moaned inarticulately, seeking in her whirling brain for
some defence against the man.

They hung there, like this, for the space of several seconds, their
hearts beating furiously, caught in a sudden wave of emotion, which
drew them inexorably closer, against their reason; which mastered their
natures without regard for their feeble human wills....

He drew her to him and kissed her.  She murmured in the same weak,
defenceless tone as before,--"Don't, not yet."

But she gave herself quite unreservedly to his strong arms.  She gave
herself with all the perfect self-forgetfulness of an absolutely pure
woman who loves and is glad.  The little thoughts of self were
forgotten, the preconceptions of her training.  She was glad to give,
to give all, in the joy of giving to him!


The man, having thus done what his reason had counselled him for the
past week not to do, what he would have said an hour before was
impossible for him to do, came out of the great whelming wave of
feeling, and found himself alone upon the dark street under the
tranquil canopy of the city smoke.  His whole being was at rest after
the purification of strong passion, at rest and at peace, with that
wonderful sense of poise, of rightness about one's self, which comes
when passion is perfect and touches the whole soul.  For the fret about
his affairs and his uncle's will, in which he had lived for the past
week, had vanished with the touch of the girl's lips.

He knew that he had committed himself to a very difficult future by
engaging himself to a poor woman and struggling upwards in real
poverty, instead of taking the decencies of a comfortable bachelorhood.
But there was something inspiring in what had happened, something
strangely electrifying to his nerves.  He had stooped and caught the
masculine burden of life, but he felt his feet a-tingle for the road
before him.  And, best of all, there was a new reverence in his heart
for that unknown woman who had kissed him and taken him to her--for
always.



CHAPTER VIII

"Hello, Jackie!"

Such familiarity of address on the part of Wright's head draughtsman
had long annoyed Hart, but this morning, instead of nodding curtly, he
replied briskly,--

"Hello, Cookie!"

The draughtsman winked at his neighbor and thrust out an elbow at a
derisive angle, as he bent himself over the linen plan he was carefully
inking in.  The man next to him snickered, and the stenographer just
outside the door smiled.  An office joke was in the air.

"Mr. Hart looks as though somethin' good had happened to him," the
stenographer remarked in a mincing tone.  "Perhaps some more of his
folks have died and remembered him in their wills."

But Cook dismissed the subject by calling out to one of the men, "Say,
Ed, come over here and tell me what you were trying to do with this old
hencoop."

He might take privileges with the august F. Jackson Hart, whose foreign
training had rather oppressed the office force at times, but he would
not allow Gracie Bellows, the stenographer, to "mix" in his joke.

Cook was a spare, black-haired little man, with beady brown eyes, like
a squirrel's.  He was a pure product of Wright's Chicago office, having
worked his way from a boy's position to the practical headship of the
force.  Although he permitted himself his little fling at Hart, he was
really the young architect's warmest admirer, approving even those
magnificent palaces of the French Renaissance type which the Beaux Arts
man put forth during the first months of his connection with the firm.

The little draughtsman, who was as sharp as one of his own India ink
lines, could see that Hart had something on his mind this morning, and
he was curious, in all friendliness, to find out what it was.  But
Jackson did not emerge from his little box of an office for several
hours.  Then he sauntered by Cook's table, pausing to look out of the
window while he abstractedly lighted a cigarette.  Presently the
stenographer came up to him and said:--

"Mr. Graves is out there and wants to see you particular, Mr. Hart.
Shall I show him into your office?"

"Ask him to wait," the young architect ordered.

After he had smoked and stared for a few moments longer he turned to
Cook.

"What did we specify those I-beams for the Canostota?  Were they
forty-twos or sixties?"

Without raising his hand from the minute lines of the linen sheet, the
draughtsman grunted:--

"Don't remember just what.  Weren't forty-twos.  Nothing less than
sixties ever got out of this office, I guess.  May be eighties.  What's
the matter?"

"Um," the architect reflected, knocking his cigarette against the
table.  "It makes a difference in the sizes what make they are, doesn't
it?"

"It don't make any difference about the weights!"  And the draughtsman
turned to his linen sheet with a shrug of the shoulders that said, "You
ought to know that much by this time!"

The architect continued to stare out of the murky window.

"When is Harmon coming back?"

"Ed lives out his way, and he says it's a long-term typhoid.  You can't
tell when he'll be back."

"Has the old man wired anything new about his plans?"

"You'll have to ask Miss Bellows.  I haven't heard anything."

"He said he'd be here next Wednesday or Thursday at the latest, didn't
he?"

The draughtsman stared hard at Hart, wondering what was in the man's
mind.  But he made no answer to the last remark, and presently the
architect sauntered to the next window.

As Jackson well knew, Graves was waiting to close that arrangement
which he had proposed for building an apartment house.  The architect
had intended to look up the Canostota specifications before he went
further with Graves, but he had been distracted by other matters, and
had thought nothing more about the troublesome I-beams until this
morning.

Jackson Hart was not given to undue speculation over matters of
conduct.  He had a serviceable code of business morals, which hitherto
had met all the demands of his experience.  He called this code
"professional etiquette."  In this case he was not clear how the code
should be applied.  The Canostota was not his affair.  It was only by
the merest accident that he had been sent there that day to supervise
the electricians, and had seen that drill-hole, which had led him to
question the thickness of the I-beams, and he might very well have been
mistaken about them.  If there were anything wrong with them, at any
rate, it was Wright's business to see that the contractor was properly
watched when the steel work was being run through the mill.  And he did
not feel any special sense of obligation toward his employer, who had
never displayed any great confidence in him.

He wanted the contractor's commission now more than ever, with his
engagement to Helen freshly pricking him to look for bread and butter;
wanted it all the more because any thought of fighting his uncle's will
had gone when Helen had accepted him.  It was now clearly his business
to provide for his future as vigorously as he could....

When he rang for the stenographer and told her to show Graves into his
office, he had made up his mind.  Closing his door, he turned and
looked into the contractor's heavy face with an air of alert
determination.  He was about to play his own game for the first time,
and he felt the man's excitement of it!

The two remained shut up in the architect's cubby-hole for over an
hour.  When Cook had returned from the restaurant in the basement where
he lunched, and the other men had taken their hats and coats from the
lockers, Hart stepped out of his office and walked across the room to
Cook's table.  He spread before the draughtsman a fresh sepia sketch,
the water scarcely dried on it.  It was the front elevation for a
house, such a one as is described impressively in the newspapers as
"Mr. So-and-So's handsome country residence."

"Now, that's what I call a peach!" Cook whistled through his closed
teeth, squinting at the sketch admiringly.  "Nothing like that
residence has come out of this office for a good long time.  The old
man don't favor houses as a rule.  They're too fussy.  Is this for some
magnate?"

"This isn't done for the firm," Jackson answered quickly.

"Oh!"  Cook received the news with evident disappointment.  "Just a
fancy sketch?"

"Not for a minute!  This is my own business.  It's for a Mrs.
Phillips--her country house at Forest Park."

Cook looked again at the elevation of the large house with admiring
eyes.  If he had ever penetrated beyond the confines of Cook County in
the state of Illinois, he might have wondered less at Hart's creation.
But he was not familiar with the Loire châteaux, even in photographs,
for Wright's tastes happened to be early English.

"So you're going to shake us?" Cook asked regretfully.

"Just as soon as I can have a word with Mr. Wright.  This isn't the
only job I have on hand."

"Is that so?  Well, you're in luck, sure enough."

"Don't you want to come in?" Hart asked abruptly.  "I shall want a good
practical man.  How would you like to run the new office?"

Cook's manner froze unexpectedly into caution.

"Oh, I don't know.  It's pretty good up here looking after Wright's
business."

Hart picked up his sketch and turned away.

"I thought you might like the chance.  Some of the men I knew in Paris
may join me a little later, and I shan't have much trouble in making up
a good team."

Then he went out to his luncheon, and when he returned, he shut himself
up in his box, stalking by Cook's desk without a word.  When he came
forth again the day's work was over, and the office force had left.
Cook was still dawdling over his table.

"Say, Hart!" he called out to the architect.  "I don't want you to have
the wrong idea about my refusing that offer of yours.  I don't mind
letting you know that I ain't fixed like most of the boys.  I've got a
family to look after, my mother and sister and two kid brothers.  It
isn't easy for us to pull along on my pay, and I can't afford to take
any chances."

"Who's asking you to take chances, Cookie?" Hart answered, mollified at
once.  "Perhaps you might do pretty well by yourself."

"You see," Cook explained further, "my sister's being educated to
teach, but she's got two years more at the Normal.  And Will's just
begun high school.  Ed's the only earner besides myself in the whole
bunch, and what he gets don't count."

Thereupon the architect sat down on the edge of the draughting-table in
friendly fashion and talked freely of his plans.  He hinted at the work
for Graves and at his hopes of a large commission from some railroad.

"I have ten thousand dollars in the bank, anyway.  That will keep the
office going some time.  And I don't mind telling you that I have
something at stake, too," he added in a burst of confidence.  "I am
going to be married."

Cook grinned sympathetically over the news.  It pleased him vastly to
be told of Hart's engagement in this confidential way.  After some
further talk the matter of the new office was arranged between them
then and there.  Cook agreed to look into a building that had just
pushed its head among the skyscrapers near the Maramanoc, to see if
there was anything left in the top story that would answer their
purposes.  As they were leaving the office, Hart stopped, exclaiming
suddenly:--

"I've got to telephone!  Don't wait."

"That's always the way," the draughtsman replied.  "You'll be
telephoning most of the time, now, I expect!"

The architect did not telephone to Helen Spellman, however.  He called
up his cousin's office to tell Wheeler that he had concluded not to
contest the will.

"And, Everett," he said frankly, "I guess I have made rather an ass of
myself, telling you I was going to kick up a row.  I hope you won't say
anything about it."

The lawyer accepted the information without remark, and hung up his
telephone.  He may have wondered what had brought about this change of
heart in his cousin, but later, when the news of the engagement reached
him, he understood.  For he knew Helen in a way better than her lover
did,--knew her as one knows the desired and unattainable.


A few days later Wright reached the office, and Hart told him of his
plan to start for himself, asking for an early release because
important business was waiting for his entire attention.  Wright had
arrived only that morning; he was seated before his broad desk, which
was covered to the depth of several inches with blue prints,
type-written specifications, and unopened mail.  He had been wrestling
with contractors and clients every minute since he had entered the
office, and it was now late in the afternoon.

"So you are going to try it for yourself?" he commented, a new wrinkle
gathering on his clouded brow.  It occurred to him that Hart might be
merely hinting politely for an advance in salary, but he dismissed the
suspicion.  "Have you had enough experience?" he asked bluntly.

"I'll be likely to get some more before long!" Hart replied, irritated
by the remark.

"I mean of the actual conditions under which we have to build out
here,--the contractors, the labor market, and so on?  Of course you can
leave at once if you wish to.  I shouldn't want to stand in your light
in any way.  It is rather a bad time with Harmon home sick.  But we can
manage somehow, draw on the St. Paul office if necessary."

Jackson murmured his regret for the inconvenience of his departure at
this juncture, and Wright said nothing more for a few minutes.  He
remembered now that some one had told him that Hart was drawing plans
for Mrs. Phillips.  This job had probably made the young architect
ambitious to start for himself.  He felt that Hart should have asked
his consent before undertaking this outside work: at least it would
have been more delicate to do so.  But Wright was a kindly man, and
bore no malice.  In what he said next to the young architect he was
moved by pure good will.

"I don't want to discourage you, Hart, but I know what sort of luck
young fellows, the best of them, have these days when they start a new
office.  It's fierce work getting business, here especially."

"I suppose so," Hart admitted conventionally.

"The fine art side of the profession don't count much with client or
contractor.  It's just a tussle all the time!" he sighed, reflecting
how he had spent two hours of his morning in trying to convince a
wealthy client of the folly of cutting down construction cost from
fifty to thirty cents a cubic foot.

"You young fellows just over from the other side don't always realize
what it means to run an office.  If you succeed, you have no time to
think of your sketches, except after dinner or on the train, maybe.
And if you don't succeed, you have to grab at every little job to earn
enough to pay office expenses."

Hart's blank face did not commit him to this piece of wisdom.

"The only time I ever had any real fun was when I was working for the
old firm, in New York.  God!  I did some pretty good things then.  Old
man Post used to trim me down when I got out of sight of the clients,
but he let me have all the rope he could.  And now,--why it's you
fellows who have the fun!"

"And you who trim us down!" Hart retorted, with a grim little smile.

"Well, perhaps.  I have to keep an eye on all you Paris men.  You come
over here well trained, damned well trained,--we can't do anything like
it in this country,--but it takes a few years for you to forget that
you aren't in la belle France.  And some never get over their habit of
making everything French Renaissance.  You aren't flexible.  Some of
you aren't creative--I mean," he hastened to explain, getting warm on a
favorite topic, "you don't feel the situation here.  You copy.  You try
to express everything just as you were taught.  But, if you want to do
big work, you have got to feel things for yourself, by thunder!"

Jackson kept his immobile face.  It did not interest him to know what
Wright thought of the Beaux Arts men.  Yet he had no intention of
falling out with Wright, who was one of the leading architects of the
country, and whose connection might be valuable to him.

"I see you don't care to have me preach," the older man concluded
humorously.  "And you know your own business best."

He remembered that the Powers Jackson gift for a school would call
sooner or later for a large public building.  Probably the family
interests had arranged to put this important piece of work into Hart's
hands.  Wright hoped for the sake of his art that the trustees would
put off building until the young architect had developed more
independence and firmness of standard than he had yet shown.

"I think I understand a little better than I did two years ago what it
takes to succeed here in Chicago," Jackson remarked at last.

Wright shot a piercing glance at him out of his tired eyes.

"It means a good many different kinds of things," the older man said
slowly.  "Just as many in architecture as elsewhere.  It isn't the firm
that is putting up the most expensive buildings that is always making
the biggest success, by a long shot."

"I suppose not," Hart admitted.

And there the conversation lapsed.  The older man felt the real
impossibility of piercing the young architect's manner, his
imperturbability.  "He doesn't like me," he said to himself
reproachfully.

For he wanted to say something to the younger man out of his twenty
years of experience, something concerning the eternal conflict there is
in all the professions between a man's ideals of his work and the
practical possibilities in the world we have about us; something, too,
concerning the necessity of yielding to the brute facts of life and yet
not yielding everything.  But he had learned from years of contact with
men the great truth that talk never saves a man from his fate,
especially that kind of talk.  A man lives up to what there is in him,
and Jackson Hart would follow the rule.

So he dug his hands into the letters on his desk, and said by way of
conclusion:--

"Perhaps we can throw some things your way.  There's a little job,
now."  He held up a letter he had just glanced at.  "They want me to
recommend some one to build a club-house at Oak Hills.  There isn't
much in it.  They can't spend more than seven thousand dollars.  But I
had rather take that than do some other things."

"Thank you!" Hart replied with considerable animation.  "Of course I
want every chance I can get."

He took the letter from Wright's outstretched hand.



CHAPTER IX

After the few swift months of spring and summer they were to be
married, late in the fall.

Meanwhile above the lake at Forest Park, in a broad, open field, Mrs.
Phillips's great house was rapidly rising.  It was judged variously by
those who had seen it, but it altogether pleased the widow; and the
architect regarded it--the first independent work of his manhood--with
complacency and pride.  Helen had not seen it since the walls had
passed the first storey, when, one day late in September, she made the
little journey from the city with the architect, and walked over to the
house from the Shoreham station, up the lake road.

It was a still, soft fall day, with all the mild charm of late summer
that comes only in this region.  The leaves still clung in bronzed
masses to the little oaks; a stray maple leaf dipped down, now and
then, from a gaudy yellow tree, and sailed like a bird along their
path.  There was a benediction in the country, before the dissolution
of winter, and the girl's heart was filled with joy.

"If we could only live here in the country, Francis!"

"All the year?" he queried doubtfully.

"Yes, always!  Even the worst days I should not feel lonely.  I shall
never feel lonely again, anyway."

As he drew her hand close to his breast, he said contentedly, with a
large view of their future:--

"Perhaps we can manage it before long.  But land is very dear in this
place.  Then you have to keep horses and servants, if you want to live
comfortably in the country."

"Oh!  I didn't think of all that."

They walked slowly, very close together, neither one anxious to reach
the misty horizon, where in a bed of opalescent gray lay the beautiful
lake.  The sunshine and the fruity odors of the good earth, the
tranquil vistas of bronze oaks, set the woman brooding on her nesting
time, which was so close at hand.  And the man was thinking likewise,
in his way, of this coming event, anxiously, yet with confidence.  The
plans for the Graveland, the contractor's big apartment house, were
already nearly finished,--and largely paid for.  Very soon the office
would be idle unless new work came in, but he counted confidently on a
number of good things.  There were the Rainbows, who had moved to
Shoreham, having made a sudden fortune, and were talking of building.
Then Mrs. Phillips, he knew, was doing what she could for him with
Colonel Raymond.  The railroad man had promised to look over the new
house some day and meet the architect.  Buoyant, convinced of his own
ability, he saw the office crowded with commissions!

Suddenly the house shot up before their eyes, big and new in all the
rawness of fresh brick and stone.  It towered blusteringly above the
little oaks, a great red-brick château, with a row of little round
windows in its massive, thick-tiled red roof.

Helen involuntarily stood still and caught her breath.  So this was his!

"Oh!" she murmured.  "Isn't it big, Francis!"

"It's no three-room cottage," he answered, with a little asperity.

Then he led her to the front, where she could get the effect of the two
wings, the southerly terrace toward the lake, the sweeping drive, and
the classic entrance.

"I know I shall grow to like it, Francis," the girl said loyally.  "It
must be very pretty inside, with those lovely French windows; and this
court is attractive, too."

She felt that she was hurting her lover in his tenderest spot, and she
tried anxiously to find better words, to show him that it was only her
ignorance which limited her appreciation.  They strolled about among
the refuse heaps of the builders, viewing the place at every angle in
order to get all its effects.  Just as they were about to enter the
house, there came from the south road the sound of a puffing
automobile, and presently Mrs. Phillips arrived in a large touring car,
with some people who had been lunching with her at the Shoreham Club.
They came slowly up the driveway to the house, talking and joking in a
flutter of good-natured comment.  The architect recognized instantly
the burly form of Colonel Raymond.  He was speaking when the car
stopped:--

"Well, Louise, you will have to take us all in next season.  I didn't
know you were putting up a hotel like this."

"Hotel!  It is a perfect palace!" exclaimed a short, plump woman who
had some difficulty in dismounting.  "I hope you are going to have a
pergola.  They're so nice.  Every country house has a pergola nowadays."

"Why not an English garden and a yew hedge?" added a man who had on the
red coat of the Hunt Club.  "I hope you will have your stabling up to
this, Mrs. Phillips."

Then they recognized the architect and Helen.  Mrs. Phillips introduced
them to her friends, and they all went inside to make a tour of the
rooms.  The painters, who were rubbing the woodwork, looked curiously
at the invading party; then, with winks among themselves, turned
indifferently to their tasks.

The visitors burst into ripples of applause over the hall with its two
lofty stone fireplaces, the long drawing-room that occupied the south
wing of the house, the octagonal breakfast room and the dining-room in
the other wing.  The architect led them about, explaining the different
effects he had tried to get.  He showed his work modestly, touching
lightly on architectural points with a well-bred assumption that the
visitors knew all about such things.  The plump little woman followed
close at his heels, drinking in all that he said.  Helen wondered who
she might be, until, in an eddy of their progress, Hart found a chance
to whisper to her, "It's Mrs. Rainbow; she's getting points!"

He seemed very much excited about this, and the general good luck of
being able to show these people over the house he had made.  After the
first floor had been exhausted, the party drifted upstairs in
detachments.  Helen, who had loitered after the others, could hear her
lover's pleasant voice as he led the way from suite to suite above.
The voices finally centred in Mrs. Phillips's bathroom, where the
sunken bath and the walls of colored marble caused much joking and
laughter....

"Can you tell me if Mrs. Phillips is here?" a voice sounded from the
door.  Helen turned with a start.  The young girl who asked the
question was dressed in a riding habit.  Outside in the court a small
party of people were standing beside their horses.  The girl spoke
somewhat peremptorily, but before Helen had time to reply, she added
more cordially:--

"Aren't you Miss Spellman?  I am Venetia Phillips."

Then the two smiled at each other and shook hands in the way of women
who feel that they may be friends.

"I was off with my uncle the day you dined with mamma," she continued,
"so I missed seeing you.  Isn't this a great--barn, I was going to
say."  She laughed and caught herself.  "I didn't remember!  Mamma
likes it so much.  We have just been out with the hounds,--the first
run of the season.  But it was no fun, so we came on here.  It's too
early to have a real hunt yet.  Do you ride?"

They sat down on the great staircase and were at once absorbed in each
other.  In the meantime Mrs. Phillips's party had returned from the
upper storey by the rear stairs, and were penetrating the mysteries of
the service quarters.  Jackson was showing them proudly all the little
devices for which American architecture is famous,--the interior
telephone service, the laundry chutes, the electric dumb-waiters, the
latest driers.  These devices aroused Colonel Raymond's admiration, and
when the others came back to the hall he took the architect aside and
discussed driers earnestly for several minutes.  From that they got to
the heating system, which necessitated a visit to the basement.

Mrs. Phillips took this occasion to compliment Helen upon her lover's
success:--

"You can be proud of your young man, Miss Spellman.  He's done a very
successful piece of work.  Every one likes it, and it's all his, too,"
she added generously.

Helen found nothing to say in reply.  The widow was not an easy person
for her to talk to.  On the single other occasion when they had met, in
Mrs. Phillips's city house, the two women had looked into each other's
eyes, and both had remained cold.  The meeting of the two women had not
been all that the architect had hoped it might be; for apart from this
house which he was building, there were other of his many ambitions in
which Mrs. Phillips could be very helpful to them.  He did not intend
that Helen and he, when they were married, should sink into that dull,
retired manner of living that both his mother and Mrs. Spellman seemed
to prefer.  It would be good business for him to enlarge his
acquaintance among the rich as fast as possible.

So this time when Helen found nothing amiable on the tip of her tongue
to reply, Mrs. Phillips examined the younger woman critically, saying
to herself, "She's a cold piece.  She won't hold him long!" ...

At last the party gathered itself together and left the house.  The big
touring car puffed up to the door, and the visitors climbed in, making
little final comments of a flattering nature to please the architect,
who had charmed them all.  He was assiduous to the very end, laughing
again at Mrs. Rainbow's joke about the marble tub, which she repeated
for the benefit of those who had not been upstairs.

After Hart had helped her to mount the steps of the car, she leaned
over and gave him her hand.

"So glad to have met you, Mr. Hart," she said with plump
impressiveness.  "I am sure if we build, we must come to you.  It's
just lovely, everything."

"I shall have to give that away to Rainbow," the colonel joked.
"There's nothing so bad to eat up money as a good architect."

Then he shook hands cordially with Hart, lit a cigarette, and swung
himself to the seat beside Mrs. Phillips.  After the car had started,
the riders mounted.  Hart helped Venetia Phillips to her seat, and
slipped in a word about the hunt.  But the girl leaned over on the
other side toward Helen, with a sudden enthusiasm.

"I do so want to see you again, Miss Spellman!  But I suppose you are
very busy now."

"Oh, no," Helen protested, blushing at the girl's frank enthusiasm.

"But when you are married, can't I see a lot of you?"

Helen laughed.  "Come and see me whenever you will!" she said, and the
two held hands for a moment, while the man in the red coat talked with
the architect.

When they had all gone, Jackson turned to Helen, a happy smile of
triumph on his face.

"It seemed to take!"

There had not been one word of comment on the house itself, on the
building as a home for generations of people.  But Hart did not seem to
notice that.  He was flushed with the exhilaration of approval.

"Yes," Helen answered, throwing all the animation she could into the
words; "I think they all liked it."

She was silent, her thoughts full of vague impressions gathered from
the little incident of the afternoon.  There had been revealed to her
an unknown side of her lover, a worldly side, which accorded with his
alert air, his well-trimmed mustache, and careful attention to dress.
He had been very much at home with all these people, while she had felt
more or less out of her element.  He knew how to talk to them, how to
please them, just as he knew how to build a house after their taste for
luxury and display.  Although he was a poor, hardworking young
architect, he could talk hunters or motor cars or bridge whist, as the
occasion demanded.  Whether it was due to his previous experience or to
an instinct for luxury, he was, in fact, very much one of them!

She cast a timid look at the great façade above them, over which the
cold shadows of the autumn evening were fast stealing, leaving the
building in its nudity still more hard and new and raw.  She was glad
it was not to be her fate to live there in all its grandeur and stiff
luxury.

The architect had to speak to the superintendent of the building, and
Helen sat down on the stone balustrade of the terrace to wait for him.
The painters were leaving their job, putting on their coats as they
hurried from the house.  They scarcely cast a glance her way as they
passed out, disappearing into the road, fleeing from the luxurious
abode and the silent woods, which were not theirs, to the village and
the city.  The girl mused idly about them and their lives, and about
the other people who had come there this afternoon to look over the
house, and about the house itself.  She reflected how much more she
liked the sketch Jackson had made of a little club-house for the Oak
Hills Country Club.  It was a rough little affair, the suggestion of
which the architect had got from a kodak of a Sicilian farm-house he
had once taken.  But this great American château was so different from
what she had supposed her lover would build, this caravansary for the
rich, this toy where they could hide themselves in aristocratic
seclusion and take their pleasures.  And the thought stole into her
mind that he liked it, this existence of the rich and prosperous, their
sports and their luxuries,--and would want to earn with the work of his
life just their pleasures, their housing, their automobiles and
hunters.  It was all strange to her experience, to her dreams!

From the second floor there came to her the sound of voices:--

"I tells you, Muster Hart, you got to rip the whoal damn piping out
from roof to basement if you wants to have a good yob of it.  I tole
you that way back six weeks ago.  It waren't specified right from the
beginning."

"I'll speak to Rollings about it to-morrow and see what can be done."

"That's what you say every time, and he don't do nutting," the Swede
growled.

"See here, Anderson!  Who's running this job?" ...

The girl strolled away from the voices toward the bluff, where she
could see the gray bosom of the lake.  The twilight trees, the waveless
lake soothed her: they were real, her world,--she felt them in her
soul!  The house back there, the men and women of it, were shadows on
the marge.

"Nell!" her lover called.

"Coming, Francis."

When he came up to her she rested her head on his shoulder, looking at
him with vague longing, desiring to keep him from something not clearly
defined in her own mind.  Her lover drew her to him and kissed her,
once, twice, while her eyes searched his wistfully.  She seemed passive
and cold in his arms.  But suddenly she closed her longing eyes, and
her lips met his, hungrily, tensely, in the desire to adore, to love
abundantly, which was her whole life.

"We must hurry to get that train,--dear.  When we live out here we'll
have to sport a motor car, won't we?" he said buoyantly.

She answered slowly, "I don't know that I should want to live just
here, after all."

"Why, I thought you were crazy about the country!  And I've been
thinking it might be the very thing for us to do.  There's such a lot
of building in these places now since business has looked up.  Mrs.
Phillips has asked me several times why I didn't move out here on the
shore.  Just before she left to-day she said in a joking way that if I
wanted to build a lodge for her, I might take it for a year or so.  Of
course that's a joke.  But I know she's bought lately a lot more
property on the ravine, and she might be willing to let me have a small
bit on reasonable terms.  She's been so friendly all along!"

He was still in the flush of his triumph, and talked rapidly of all the
plans that opened out before his fervent ambition.  Suddenly he took
note of the girl's mood and said sharply, "Nell, I believe you don't
like her!"

"Why do you say that!" she exclaimed, surprised in her inner thoughts.
"I don't really know."

"Why, it's plain enough.  You never talk to her.  You are always so
cold!  Louise is a chatty person; she likes to have you make an effort
for her.  And you treated Mrs. Rainbow in the same way."

"Oh, Francis!  I didn't mean to be cold.  Ought I to like them if you
are to do work for them?"

Her lover laughed at her simplicity.  Nevertheless, he felt somewhat
disturbed at Helen's indifference to the social aspect of their
marriage venture.  He wished to make a proper stir in the puddle, and
he was beginning to suspect that Helen had little aptitude for this
distinctively woman's side of matrimony.

"Rich people always puzzle me," she continued apologetically.  "They
always have, except uncle Powers, and you never thought of him as rich!
I don't feel as if I knew what they liked.  They are so much
preoccupied with their own affairs.  That other time when I met Mrs.
Phillips she was very much worried over the breakfast room and the
underbutler's pantry!  What is an underbutler's pantry, Francis?"

This raillery over the needs of the rich sounded almost anarchistic to
the architect in his present mood, and they walked to the station
silently in the gathering darkness.  But after a time, on the train, he
returned to the events of the afternoon, remarking with no relevancy:--

"She can do anything she likes with Raymond.  It would be a big stroke
to get that railroad business!"

As Helen made no reply to this observation, they sank again into silent
thought.


The night before their marriage the architect told her exultantly that
Colonel Raymond had sent for him that afternoon to talk over work for
the railroad corporation.

"That's Mrs. Phillips's doing," he told Helen.  "You must remember to
say something to her about it to-morrow if you get the chance.  It's
likely to be the biggest wedding present we'll have!"

"I am glad!" Helen replied simply, without further comment.

He thought that she did not comprehend what this good fortune would
mean to them.  And he was quite mystified when she sent him away and
refused to see him again before the ceremony of the following day.  He
could not realize that in some matters--a few small matters--he had
bruised the woman's ideal of him; he could not understand why these
last hours, before she took him to her arms forever, she wished to
spend alone with her own soul in a kind of prayer....

There were only a few people present at the marriage in the little
Maple Street house the next day.  Many of their more fashionable
friends still lingered away from the city although it was late in
October.  Mrs. Phillips had made a point of coming to the wedding, even
putting off a projected trip to New York, and after much urging she had
been made to bring Venetia, who was strangely bent on going to this
wedding.  Pemberton, an old friend of the Spellmans, who had recently
been asked to join the Powers Jackson trustees, was there, and also
little Cook, who was the backbone of the new office.  Everett Wheeler
was the best man.  He and Hollister had put off their yearly fishing
trip to do honor to Jackson Hart, who had won their approval, because
the young man had swallowed his disappointment about the will and was
going to marry a poor girl.  Hollister and Pemberton had brought Judge
Phillips with them, because he was in town and liked weddings and ought
to send the pair a goodly gift.  Of the presence of all these and some
others the young architect was agreeably conscious that October day.

Only that morning, on the way to the house, Everett had referred to the
great school building, a monumental affair, which the trustees would
have to build some day.  He said nothing that might commit the trustees
in any way.  Nevertheless, it was in the aroma of this new prospect,
and of all the other good fortune which had come to him since he had
taken up his burden of poverty, that Jackson Hart was married.

But Helen walked up to him to be married, in a dream, unconscious of
the whole world, with a mystery of love in her heart.  When the
ceremony was over, she looked up into her husband's resolute face,
which was slightly flushed with excitement.  Venetia, standing by her
uncle's side a few steps away, could see tears in the bride's eyes, and
the girl wondered in her heart what it meant.

Did the woman know now that the man who stood there face to face with
her, her husband, was yet a stranger to her soul?  She raised her lips
swiftly to him, as if to complete the sacrament, and there before all
he bowed his head to kiss her.



PART II

THE STRUGGLE



CHAPTER X

The Lady Venetia de Phillips, as the young woman used to call herself
in the doll age, had never set foot in a common street car, or, indeed,
in anything more public than a day coach on the suburban train; and in
that only because the railroad had not found it profitable to provide
as yet in that service a special coach for her class.  For Mrs.
Phillips, who had known what it was to ride in an Ottumwa buggy,
comfortably cushioned by the stout arm of an Ottumwa swain, understood
intuitively the cardinal principle of class evolution, which is
separation.  Therefore she had carefully educated her children
according to that principle.

So it happened shortly before Mrs. Phillips had taken possession of her
new home that Miss Phillips, wishing to pay a visit to her new friend
who lived on the North Side of the city, was driving in her mother's
victoria, in dignity, according to her estate.  Beside her sat her
favorite terrier, Pete, scanning the landscape of the dirty streets
through which they were obliged to pass from the South to the North
Side.  Suddenly, as the carriage turned a corner, Pete spied a long,
lank wharf rat, of a kind that did not inhabit his own more cleanly
neighborhood.  The terrier took one impulsive leap between the wheels
of the victoria, and was off up Illinois Street after the rat.  It was
a good race; the Lady Venetia's sporting blood rose, and she ordered
the coachman to follow.  Suddenly there dashed from an alley a light
baker's wagon, driven by a reckless youth.  Pete, unmindful of the
clattering wagon, intent upon his loping prey, was struck full in the
middle of his body: two wheels passed diagonally across him, squeezing
him to the pavement like an india-rubber ball.  For a moment he lay
there stretched in the street, and then he dragged himself to the
sidewalk, filling the air with hideous howls.  The passers-by stopped,
but the reckless youth in the baker's wagon, having leaned out to see
what damage had been done, grinned, shook his reins, and was off.

Before the coachman had brought the victoria to a full stop Venetia was
out and across the street.  Pete had crawled into an alley, where he
lay in a little heap, moaning.  When his mistress tried to gather him
into her skirt he whimpered and showed his teeth.  Something was
radically wrong!  The small boys who had gathered advised throwing Pete
into the river, and offered to do the deed.  But Venetia, the tears
falling from her eyes, turned back into the street to take counsel with
the coachman.  A young man who was hurrying by, swinging a little
satchel and whistling to himself, stopped.

"What's up?" he asked, ceasing to whistle at sight of the girl's tears.

Venetia pointed to the dog, and the stranger, pushing the small boys
aside, leaned over Pete.

"Gee! he's pretty well mashed, ain't he?  Here, Miss, I'll give him a
smell of this and send him to by-by."

He opened his little satchel and hunted for a bottle.  Venetia timidly
touched his arm.

"Please don't kill him!"

"That's just what I'm going to do, sure thing!"  He paused, with the
little vial in his hand, and looked coolly at the girl.  "You don't
want the pup to suffer like that?"

"But can't he be saved?"

The stranger looked again at Pete, then back at Venetia.  Finally he
tied a handkerchief over the dog's mouth, and began to examine him
carefully.

"Let's see what there's left of you after the mix-up, Mr. Doggie.
We'll give you the benefit of our best attention and skill,--more'n
most folks ever get in this world,--because you are the pet of a nice
young lady.  If you were just an alley-cat, you wouldn't even get the
chloroform.  Well, Miss, he'd have about one chance in a hundred, after
he had that hind leg cut off."

"Are you a doctor?  Do you think that you could cure him?  Mamma will
be very glad to pay you for your services."

"Is that so?" the stranger remarked.  "How do you know that my services
don't come too high for your mother's purse?  Well, come on, pup!
We'll see what can be done for you."

Drawing the improvised muzzle tighter, he gathered Pete up in a little
bundle.  Then he strode down the street to the west.  The coachman drew
up beside the curb and touched his hat.

"Won't you get in?" Venetia asked.

"It's only a step or so to my place," he answered gruffly.  "You can
follow me in the carriage."

But she kept one hand on Pete, and walked beside the stranger until he
stopped at an old, one-story, wooden cottage.  Above the door was
painted in large black letters, "S. COBURN, M.D., PHYSICIAN AND
SURGEON."

"May I come in?" the girl asked timidly.

"Sure!  Why would I keep you sitting on the door-step?"

Inside there was a little front hall apparently used as a waiting-room
for patients.  Back of this was a large bare room, occupying the
remaining floor space of the cottage, into which the doctor led the
way.  A wooden bench extended the entire length of this room underneath
a row of rough windows, which had been cut in the wall to light the
bench.  Over in one corner was a cot, with the bedclothes negligently
dragging on the floor.  Near by was an iron sink.  On a table in the
centre of the room, carefully guarded by a glass case, was a complex
piece of mechanism which looked to the girl like one of the tiresome
machines her teacher of physics was wont to exhibit.

"My laboratory," the doctor explained somewhat grandly.

Venetia stepped gingerly across the cluttered floor, glancing about
with curiosity.  The doctor placed the dog on the table and turned on
several electric lights.

"You'll have to help at this performance," he remarked, taking off his
coat.

Together they gave Pete an opiate and removed the muzzle.  The doctor
then turned him over and poked him here and there.

"Well," he pronounced, "Pete has a full bill.  Compound fracture,
broken rib, and mashed toes.  And I don't know what all on the inside.
He has a slim chance of limping around on three legs.  Shall I give him
some more dope?  What do you say?"

"Pete was a gamy dog," Venetia replied thoughtfully.  "I think he would
like to have all his chances."

"Good!"  The doctor tossed aside the sponge that he had held ready to
give Pete his farewell whiff.  He told the girl how to hold the dog,
and how to touch the sponge to his nose from time to time.  They were
absorbed in the operation when the coachman pushed his way into the
room.

"What shall I do, Miss, about the horses?  Mis' Phillips gave particler
instructions I wasn't to stay out after five-thurty.  It's most that
now."

"Tell him to go home," the doctor ordered.  "We'll be an hour more."

"But how shall I get home then?" the girl asked, perplexed.

"On your feet, I guess, same as most folks," the doctor answered,
testing a knife on his finger.  "And the cars ain't stopped running on
the South Side, have they?"

"I don't know.  I never use them," Venetia replied helplessly.

The doctor put the knife down beside Pete and looked at the girl from
her head to her feet, a teasing smile creeping over his swarthy face.

"Well, it's just about time for you to find out what they're good for.
I'll take you home myself just to see how you like them.  You won't get
hurt, not a bit.  You may go, Thomas!"  He waved his hand ironically to
the coachman.  "And when you go out, be good enough to slip the latch.
We have a little business to attend to in here, and don't want to be
interrupted."

When the coachman had left, Venetia turned to the doctor with a red
face, and copying her mother's most impressive tones, asked:--

"What would you like me to do now, Dr. Coburn?"

"Nothing special.  Turn your back if you don't like to see me take a
chop out of doggie."

He laughed at her dignity; therefore she kept her face turned
resolutely on poor Pete.  She could not help being interested in the
man as she watched his swift movements.  The doctor was stocky and
short, black-haired, with a short black mustache that did not disguise
the perpetual sardonic smile of his lips.  She noticed that his
trousers were very baggy and streaked at the bottoms with mud.  They
were the trousers of a man who, according to her experience, was not a
gentleman.  The frayed cravat, which showed its cotton filling,
belonged to the same category as the trousers.  But there was something
in the fierce black eyes, the heavy jaw, the nervous grip of the lips
when the man was thinking, that awed the girl.  The more Venetia looked
at him, the more she was afraid of him; not afraid that he would do any
harm to her, but vaguely afraid of his strength, his force.  His bare
arms were thick and hairy, although the fingers were supple, and he
touched things lightly.  Altogether he was a strange person in her
little world, and somewhat terrifying.

The doctor talked all the time, while he worked swiftly over the dog,
describing to the girl just what he was doing.  Venetia watched him
without flinching, though the tears would roll down her face.  She put
one hand under Pete's limp head to hold it, as she would have liked to
have her head held under the same circumstances.  At last the doctor
straightened himself and exclaimed:--

"Correct!  He's done up in first-class style."  He went to the sink and
washed his arms and hands.  "Yes, Peter is as well patched as if the
great Dr. Cutem had done it himself and charged you ten thousand
dollars for the job.  I donno' but it's better done.  And he would have
charged you all right!"  He gave a loud, ironical laugh and swashed the
water over his bare arms.  Then he came back to the operating table,
wiping his hands and arms on a roller towel that was none too clean.

"You can quit that sponge now, Miss, and I guess doggie won't
appreciate the little attention of holding his head yet awhile.  He
hasn't got to the flower-and-fruit stage yet, have you, eh, purp?"

Venetia stood like a little girl, awkwardly waiting for orders.

"What's your name?" the doctor demanded abruptly.

"Venetia--Venetia Phillips."

"Well, Miss Venetia, you seem fond of animals.  Would you like to see
my collection?"

Without waiting for an answer he strode to the farther end of the room
and opened a trap-door.

"Come over here!"

The girl peeped through the trap-door into the cellar.  There, in a
number of pens, were huddled a small menagerie of animals,--dogs, cats,
guinea-pigs, rabbits.

"What do you do with all of them?" the girl asked, her heart sinking
with foreboding.

"Cut 'em up!"

"Cut them up?"

"Sure!  And dose 'em.  This is an experimental laboratory."  The doctor
waved his hand rather grandly over the dirty room.  "There are not many
like it in the city of Chicago, I can tell you.  I am conducting
investigations, and I use these little fellers."

"It's horrid!" the girl exclaimed, looking apprehensively at Pete.

"Not a bit of it!"  The doctor reached down his hand and pulled up a
rabbit, a little mangy object, which tottered a few steps and then fell
down as if dizzy.  "Jack's had fifteen drops of the solution of
hydrochlorate of manganese this morning.  He looks kind of dopy, don't
he?  He'll be as smart as a trivet to-morrow.  But I guess he's about
reached his limit of hydrochlorate, eh, Jack?"

In spite of herself the girl's curiosity was aroused, and when the
doctor had returned Jack to his pen, she asked, "What's that queer
machine over there?"

"That's to pump things into your body, to squirt medicines into you,
instead of dropping them into your tummy loose, as doctors usually do.
See?  When I stick this long needle into you and work this handle, a
little stream of the thing I want to give you is pumped into your body
at the right spot.  Have you got anything the matter with your liver?
I am working on livers just now.  Would you like to have me try it on
you?  No!  I thought not.  That's why Jack has to take his dose every
morning."

He went into his explanation more thoroughly, and they talked of many
things that were as wonderful to Venetia, brought up in the modern city
of Chicago, as if she had come out of Thibet.

"I suppose I shall have to leave Pete here," she said at last.  "May I
come to see him sometimes?"

"Sure!  As often as you like.  I'm generally in afternoons.  I'll
telephone if the patient's pulse gets feeble or his temperature goes
up."

"You needn't make fun of me!  And I think I can find my way home
alone," she added, as the doctor took his hat from the table and jammed
it on his head.

"I said I'd go home with you.  I am not going to miss seeing you take
that first ride on the cable, not much!  Perhaps you won't mind walking
across the bridge and up the avenue to the cable line?  It's a pretty
evening, and it will do you good to take the air along the river."

So the two started for the city and crossed the busy thoroughfare of
the Rush Street Bridge just as the twilight was touching the murky
waters of the river.  The girl was uncomfortably conscious that the man
by her side was a very shabbily dressed escort.  She was glad that the
uncertain light would hide her from any of her acquaintances that might
be driving across the bridge at this hour.  The doctor seemed to be in
no hurry; he paused on the bridge to watch a tug push a fat grain boat
up the river, until they were almost caught by the turning draw.

"That's a fine sight!" he remarked.

"Yes, the sunset is beautiful," she replied conventionally.

"No!  I mean that big vessel loaded with grain.  That's what you live
on: it's what you are,--that and a lot of dirty cattle over in the pens
of the stock yard.  That's you, Miss Venetia,--black hair, pink cheeks,
and all!"

"What a very materialistic way of looking at life!" Venetia replied
severely.

"Lord, child!" the doctor exclaimed ironically.  "Who taught you that
horrid word?"  Then he proceeded to give her a little lecture on the
beauties of physiology, which occupied her attention all the way to the
cable car, so that she forgot her snobbish anxieties.

The car was crowded, and no one of the tired men who were reading their
newspapers was gallant enough to offer her a seat.  So she was obliged
to stand crowded in a corner, swaying from a strap overhead, while the
persistent doctor told her all about the car, the motive power, the
operatives, the number of passengers carried daily, the dispute over
the renewal of the franchise for the road, and kindred matters of
common concern.

"Now, it's likely enough some of your folks own a block of watered
stock in this concern," he concluded in his clear, high voice, that
made itself felt above the rattle of the car.  "And you are helping to
pay them their dividends.  Some day, though, maybe the rest of us won't
want to go on paying them five cents to ride in their old cars.  Then
the water will dry up, the stock will go down, and perhaps you'll have
one or two dresses less every year.  You'll remember then I told you
the reason why!"

Venetia had heard enough about stocks and bonds to know that a good
deal of the Phillips money was invested in the City Railway.  But she
had also learned from her earliest youth that it was very vulgar for a
man to discuss money matters with a girl.  Furthermore, peering about
the crowded conveyance, she had caught sight of Porter Howe, one of her
brother Stanwood's friends.  He was looking at her and the doctor, and
she began to feel uncomfortable again.  It had never occurred to her
that the young men of her class were in the habit of using the street
cars, at least until they had reached those assured positions at the
head of industry which always awaited them.

So the novelty of the ride in the public car had something of torture
in it, and she was glad enough to escape through the front door at
Eighteenth Street.

"Won't you come in?" she asked the doctor politely when they came to
the formidable pile of red brick where she lived.

"Thanks!  I guess not to-day.  I don't believe your folks will want me
to stay to supper, and I am getting hungry.  Hope you enjoyed your
ride.  Some day I'll come and take you for a trolley ride somewhere
else."

He shook her hand vigorously and laughed.  Then he started briskly for
the city, his hands thrust in his trousers pockets, his black felt hat
drawn forward over his brows.  But Venetia had barely mounted the first
bank of steps before she heard her name called in a loud voice from the
street.

"Say, Miss Venetia!"

The doctor was shouting back to her, one hand at the side of his mouth.

"Don't you worry about that pup!  I think I can bring him round all
right."

She nodded nervously and stepped into the vestibule with a sense of
relief from her companion.  She knew that Dr. Coburn was what her
brother called a "mucker," and her mother spoke of as a "fellow."  Yet
she felt that there was something in the man to be respected, and this
insight, it may be said, distinguished Miss Venetia from her mother and
her brother.



CHAPTER XI

Pete was a very sick dog, but as Dr. Coburn boasted, no pampered
patient in a private hospital ever had better care.  Ultimately he
recovered from his operation and went about gayly on three legs, but
not until Venetia had made a good many visits to the squalid
"laboratory" and had come to feel very much at home among the animals
and scientific apparatus that the eccentric young doctor had gathered
about him.  Mrs. Phillips, naturally, had not consented to these visits
to the "dog doctor," as she persisted in calling Pete's saviour, until
Venetia had enlisted the services of Helen as chaperon.  Then, being
very much occupied these days with furnishing the new house, she paid
little attention to Venetia's long afternoons spent in the company of
the architect's wife.

These visits were, perhaps, the most educational experiences that the
girl had ever had.  One day she and Helen had watched the doctor take
apart the queer-looking pump that occupied the post of honor in the
laboratory, examined the delicate valves of the machine, and learned
the theory of its use.  Once they got courage to witness voluntarily
its application on a rabbit.  Venetia winced nervously when she saw the
long gold needle sink into the tender breast of the small beast, the
muscles relax, the heart stop beating altogether; but she worked one of
the valves of the pump steadily as the doctor directed.

"Ain't that quick work!" he shouted enthusiastically.  "It didn't take
the stuff thirty seconds to strike the right spot."

Venetia nodded her head gravely, as he proceeded step by step in his
demonstration.  When he finished she asked with a gravity that made
Helen smile:--

"Aren't you a very celebrated man?"

Even her world paid some respect to notable achievements in science,
and she had heard Judge Phillips speak admiringly of certain recent
discoveries by a famous physiologist.  The doctor, however, roared with
ironic laughter.

"Not celebrated exactly!  At the medical societies they call me the
crazy fakir.  I don't believe there's a first-class doctor in the city
who would take the time to look at this machine.  They'd want to know
first what some feller in Vienna thought about it.  I might starve for
all the help I've ever had here!  Doctors don't want any one to do
things on his own hook: they're jealous, just as jealous as women.  But
I guess I'm going to show 'em a thing or two not in the books.  Let me
tell you on the quiet, Miss Venetia,--I'm going over to Paris with this
pump of mine and show it off in one of their hospitals.  Then you'll
see something!"

The girl tried to look intelligent.

"If I can convince some Frenchman or German that I am on to a big idea,
why the whole pack of pill-sellers over here will fall into line so
quick you can't see 'em."

"Perhaps we shall go over to Paris this summer, too.  How I should like
to be there when you are, and see you show the pump!"

In her experience there was nothing remarkable in going to Europe: one
went to hear an opera, to order a few gowns, to fill out an idle
vacation.

"Well, I may have to go steerage, but I'll get there somehow."

While they had been discussing the machine, a small, white-faced man,
who looked as if he might be a waiter or some kind of skilled mechanic,
had come into the laboratory and nodding to the doctor took a chair at
the farther end of the room with the manner of one who was quite at
ease in the place.  His face, which was aged by illness or care,
interested Helen greatly.  She watched him while the others talked,
wondering what his relation to the doctor could be, whether that of
patient or friend.  He sat huddled up on his chair, one worn-out boot
thrust forward from a ragged trouser leg, curiously scanning the young
girl, who seemed in her fresh beauty and rich clothes decidedly out of
harmony with the dingy room.  When Venetia spoke of going abroad as
casually as she might have mentioned going to the country, a sarcastic
smile crept over his face.  He seemed to possess the full power of
patience, as if a varied experience with a buffeting world had taught
him to accept rather than to resist.  His business there, whatever it
might be, could wait, had always waited.

"Hussey, here, is the only feller that I ever found besides myself who
has any faith in the old pump," Coburn remarked presently by way of
introduction, half turning toward the silent man, and smiling as if he
thoroughly enjoyed the joke of having this one convert.  "He's always
after me to try it on him,--he says he's got something the matter with
his lungs,--but I guess it's purely a scientific interest that makes
him offer to be the first victim.  Gee!  Wouldn't I like to take him at
his word!"

He worked one of the delicate valves of the machine, squirting through
the needle a thin stream of water in the direction of Hussey.

"Why don't you do it then?" the man asked in an indifferent tone.  "I'm
ready any time you say."

"Ain't he got nerve, now?" the doctor appealed to Venetia, his eyes
twinkling sardonically.  "Any doctor would tell him for nothing that it
was just plain murder to stick that needle into his lungs.  If I am
wrong, you know, he'd be a goner, bleed to death."

"I guess I ain't built very different from that guinea-pig," the man
observed placidly.  "And I have seen you put it into one of them often
enough."

"Why don't you try it, if he's willing?" Venetia asked the doctor
breathlessly.

Helen and Coburn laughed, and even the silent Hussey smiled grimly.

"Maybe, young lady, you wouldn't mind if I tried it on you!  Can't you
get up a real good heart trouble now?" the doctor quizzed.

"Would it make any particular difference if I hadn't anything the
matter with me?" Venetia asked quickly.  "You can put it into me and
see what it does, anyway."

"Good nerve!" Coburn laughed admiringly.  "See, Mrs. Hart, I've got two
converts now.  Don't you want to make a third?"

Then bursting into his loud laugh, which seemed to be directed at
himself, Coburn walked to the rear of the room, raised a trap-door, and
whistled for Pete.  He thrust his hand down, caught the dog by the
neck, and placed him on the laboratory table for exhibition.

"Nothing worse than a good aristocratic limp, Peter," the doctor
pronounced with complacency.  "Just come here and look at that ear,
Venetia!  What do you think of that?  It isn't quite the right shade,
but I couldn't lay my hands on a terrier that was as dark as Pete."

"What have you done to his ear?" the girl demanded.

"He hadn't much of an ear left, when I came to look him over.  So I
grafted a new piece on.  And I cropped it, too, so it would look like
its mate.  Pretty neat job?"

"That's why you wouldn't let me see his head when you were changing the
bandages!"

"Sure!  This ear was to be a real Christmas surprise for a good little
girl."

"Poor old Pete!"

"What's the matter with Pete?  Don't drop your tears that way.  He's
forgotten by this time he ever had another leg.  Say!" he added
abruptly, "what do you think the job's worth?"

"I don't know," Venetia replied a little haughtily.  "Please send your
bill to mamma."

"And suppose I make it half what Dr. Cutem would charge for doing the
same job on you, what would mamma say?  Pete's worth half, ain't he,
Mrs. Hart?"

"Not to me," Helen answered lightly.

"Well, you'd have thought he was the way she went on about him that
afternoon I found them out in the street.  But that's the luck of a
poor doctor.  You do your best, and, the patient cured, the bill seems
large!"

The doctor's joke evidently distressed Venetia, who had been taught
that it was low to discuss bills.  The silent man still smiling to
himself over the girl, rose and spoke to the doctor in a low tone.
Coburn nodded.

"The same thing?  Yes, I'll be over pretty soon."

Then Hussey left the laboratory with a slight nod of his head in the
direction of the women.  When he had gone and the outer door had banged
behind him, the doctor remarked thoughtfully:--

"I guess it isn't just pure interest in science that makes him ready to
try the pump."

"Tell me about him," Helen asked quickly.

"He lost his little girl two months ago,--malnutrition, that is to say
slow starvation, and I guess his wife's not got long to live.  That's
why he came in this afternoon.  But I can't do anything for her now,
nor anybody else.  She's just beat out.  They came from somewhere in
Pennsylvania, a little country place.  He's a bookbinder by
trade,--does fancy work,--and work gave out in the country, so he tried
New York.  He had some kind of trouble there with the union and came on
here.  But he might as well have stayed where he was,--there ain't
anything in this town for him, and the union is after him again.  He's
been up against it pretty much ever since he started.  That's his
story."

"Poor woman!" Helen exclaimed, with a quick sense of her own new
happiness.  "Do you suppose she would like to have me call on her?"

"I don't know.  Perhaps she might.  But he's rather sour on folks in
general," the doctor answered indifferently.

"Where do they live?"

"Out west here a ways on Arizona Avenue."

"I know that district.  The River settlement is over there on Arizona
Avenue.  But I didn't know any Americans lived there.  They are mostly
Poles or Germans, I thought," Helen added.

"I guess people like the Husseys live most anywhere they can find a
hole to crawl into," Coburn answered brusquely.  "So you are one of
those settlement cranks?"

"I had classes there for a time before I was married," Helen admitted.

"Got sick of it?  Found you couldn't scrub up the world in a few weeks,
or even a small piece of it?  I took you for a woman of too much sense
to mix in that foolishness.  It might do Venetia here some good, teach
her a thing or two.  She never rode in a street car till I showed her
how."

"I only gave it up when I was going to marry, and my husband thought I
was not strong enough," Helen protested stoutly.  "But it's the most
interesting--"

"See here!  Look at this floor.  Would it clean it any to pour a
spoonful of water here and there?  Well, that's what your social
settlements with all their statistics and their investigations are
doing.  I tell you I know because I have been one of them, one of the
'masses.'  I have been dirt poor all my life.  I lived once for six
months in a tenement room with five other men.  'Understanding and
sympathy'?  Rot!  You can't really know anything about folks until you
earn your bread as they do, because you have to or starve; and live and
eat and marry as they do because you have to.  Do you suppose those
English know anything about their Hindoos?  Well, these settlement
folks know just about as much of what the people around them really are
as the English know about those darkies they boss."

"But they're trying to understand, to help."

"What's the good of their help?  What men need is a chance to help
themselves at the pot.  And the only way they'll ever get that is to
fight for it.  Fight the hoggish ones who want the whole loaf.  Let 'em
get out and fight, same as the people always have had to when they
weren't content to starve.  Then you'd see what this settlement
'sympathy and understanding' amounts to."

"Fighting never helps."

"Don't it now?  What does your science or history tell you?  Men have
fought in one way or another for pretty nearly everything they've got!"

"Perhaps that is the trouble."

"Not much," he retorted, as if he were trying to convince himself as
much as her.  "The real fact is, most of the world isn't worth the
bother of saving it from its fate.  They are refuse junk.  Just junk,
so many tons of flesh and bone, with not wit enough to hold their
appetites.  That's why the worst robbers get on top and ride, every
time.  They always will because they are the best fighters.  No, young
woman, the ruck of people aren't worth bothering about.  Life is the
cheapest thing on this planet; pious folks with all their blart can't
alter that fact.  It's cheap, and mean, and can't fight."

"What's the good of that machine, if it's only fit to mend such bad
flesh?"

"You think you've got me," he laughed back.  "Now I'll tell you why.  I
want to show every stupid doctor in this town that I've got a trick
worth two of his.  All the high-toned doctors have turned me down,
every one I ever got at.  But I can fight.  See?  That's why I starve
myself and live in this chicken-coop.  I could make money enough
gassing patients and selling them a lot of wind.  Don't you think I
could eat well and dress well and be as sleek and fine as the young men
Venetia thinks are the right thing?  I guess I could.  Do you know Dr.
Parks on the North Side?  Two years ago he offered to take me into his
office if I would quit fooling with these experiments and devote myself
to private practice.  Parks is earning a good twenty thousand a year.
The pickings in that office would be considerable, I guess."

"But you wanted something better than money!"

"Better?  I don't know about that.  I want Parks and all the other
big-mouths in the profession just salaming there before me for one
thing."

"No,--that isn't much better than wanting money.  You don't want to
help.  To want to help, to care about helping, that's the best thing in
men and women,--caring to help others whether what they do succeeds in
the end or fails.  Nobody can know that."

The doctor's face lost its ironical grin; he looked at Helen very
gravely.

"That feeling you talk about must be a kind of extra sense which I
haven't got.  It's like the color nerve or the sound nerve.  I've
always been color-blind.  In the same way I haven't that other feeling
you talk about.  And I guess most folks in this world are like me.  If
they felt like you, why it wouldn't be the same old world we know."

"It must be a cruel world of murder and hate, if you haven't that."

"Well, I guess it's pretty much the same world that old Michael Angelo
saw when he got up in the morning, or Julius Cæsar, or any of the rest
of them.  It's a mighty lively sort of place, too, if you know how to
forage for yourself."

Venetia, who had been listening to the discussion wide-eyed, burst out
explosively:--

"What are you two scrapping about, anyway?  Aren't you going to see
that sick woman?"

"Right you are," Dr. Coburn laughed.  "I'll have to trot over there
pretty soon."

"And I am going to see her, too, if you'll give me the address," Helen
added.  "By the way, Dr. Coburn, you know my husband, don't you?"

A peculiar look passed over the doctor's face as he replied: "Yes, in a
way.  I used to be chore-boy in the chemical lab when he was in
college.  But I wasn't his sort."

Helen recollected Jackson's exclamation when she had told him of her
first visit with Venetia to the doctor's office.  "That scrub!" Jackson
had commented, simply and finally.

There was an awkward pause, which Venetia broke by saying, "I can take
Pete, can't I?"

"I suppose he's well enough," Coburn answered reluctantly.  It was
plain that he would like to have some excuse to put off Pete's
departure.  The bit of friendship with the two women, which fate had
tossed him, was too precious to part with easily.  He picked the dog up
brusquely, saying: "Pete, you are getting skinny.  I guess it's time
for you to go back to the good living you're used to.  Don't you be
getting into another mix-up, though, or there won't be enough dog left
to patch."

Pete licked his hand in a puppyish way, as Coburn carried him to the
carriage and placed him carefully on the seat between Venetia and Helen.

"Won't you come to see us?" Helen asked, as they shook hands.  The
queer look came back to the doctor's face.

"No," he said brusquely, "I guess not.  I hope to see you again,
though."

"Why do you suppose he said that?" Venetia inquired quickly when they
had started.

Helen blushed, as she answered slowly, "Perhaps he doesn't like my
husband."

"Don't you think he's the most interesting man you ever saw?" the girl
exclaimed breathlessly.  "At first he frightened me; he said such queer
things--things people don't say, just think them.  But I like it now.
I mean to see a lot more of him somehow."

"Will you get your mother to ask him to Forest Park?" Helen asked
mischievously.

"Just imagine it!  Wouldn't Mrs. Phillips be nice to him?  They'd have
a fight the first thing, if she even looked at him.  But I am sure he's
the most interesting man I ever met.  He's lots nicer than Stanwood's
friends.  They are always trying to hold your hand and wanting to kiss
you.  It makes up for conversation."

"Venetia!" the older woman protested.

"Well, they do!  And when I told mamma once, she said that a girl could
always manage men if she wanted to."

As-the carriage stopped at the apartment house where the Harts lived,
the girl impulsively kissed the older woman.

"I'm so glad I know you--and the doctor, too!"


That evening when Helen sat down to dinner with her husband in their
little apartment, she recounted the events of her day, among them the
visit to Dr. Coburn's office.  Jackson, who had brought home with him a
roll of plans to work at in the evening, remarked casually: "Isn't
Venetia going there a good deal?  Her mother won't like that sort of
intimacy."

"I don't think there is any harm in it.  Dr. Coburn interests her,
opens her eyes to things she never realized before.  I think he must
have a good deal of ability, though he is boastful and rough."

"That kind usually are conceited," the architect replied indifferently.
"He had better show a little of his ability in getting some paying
patients.  He can't be doing much, judging by the boots and hat he had
on the last time I saw him."

"No, he is very poor," Helen admitted.  She disliked to have her
husband judge any man by his "boots and hat."  These necessary articles
of clothing seemed to her rather accidental aspects of humanity in the
confusing fortunes of life.

"Would you mind very much," she ventured after a time, "calling on him?
I want to ask him to dine with us some Sunday.  I want to have Venetia,
and Pete, too."

Jackson looked at his wife in surprise.

"If you wish it, of course.  I don't see much point to it.  Why do you
want him?  He isn't our kind."

She was becoming gradually conscious that her husband liked only the
society of his kind--those people who had the same tastes and habits,
whose views and pleasures he shared.  When she thought of it, she
realized that they had rapidly severed themselves from any other kind
during the first few months of their married life.  She had given up
going to the River settlement before her marriage, partly because
Jackson disapproved of settlements.  They were "socialistic" and
"cranky," and business men told him that they helped to stir up that
discontent among the laboring classes which was so rife in Chicago.
They encouraged the unions, and with people of his class trade-unionism
was considered to be the next worst thing to anarchy.  So in the desire
to have no shadow of difference between them, Helen had given up her
classes in the settlement and rarely returned to the friends she had
made in that part of the city.

There was growing in her, however, something almost of revolt against
this attitude on the part of her husband.  There came back to her these
days with singular insistence some earnest words which once had
thrilled her: "We are bound to one another inseparably in this life of
ours; we make a society that is a composite.  Whatever we may do to
weaken the sense of that common bond disintegrates society.  Whatever
we can do to deepen the sense of that bond makes life stronger, better
for all!"  This idea fed an inner hunger of spirit which her husband
had not appeased.  For she had in large measure that rare instinct for
democracy, the love of being like others in joy and sorrow.

Jackson believed in charitable effort, and had urged her to accept an
invitation to join the committee of women who managed St. Isidore's
hospital.  It was almost a fashionable club, this committee, and it was
a flattering thing for a young married woman to be made a member of it.
The hospital was under the special patronage of the Crawfords and the
Fosters and other well-known people in the city.  And when after a
visit to the bookbinder's sickly wife, she wished to do something for
Hussey, Jackson interested himself in her effort to get together a
class of young married women to learn the art of bookbinding, which
happened to be a part of the current enthusiasm over craftsmanship.
This class met at various houses once a week and spent a morning trying
to bind paper-covered literature under Hussey's direction.  Jackson,
who was a bit of a dilettante by nature, was much interested in the
work of the class.  He would like to have Helen try her hand in
metal-work or design jewellery or wall-paper or model.  Once he talked
to the class on the minor arts, talked with great enthusiasm and charm,
exhorting these young women of the leisure class to cultivate
intensively some one artistic interest in life.

But Helen, who hoped soon to have a child, found these things more or
less trivial.



CHAPTER XII

After a winter in the city the Harts went to live at Shoreham, taking
rooms for the season in a cottage near the club.  The new station which
the railroad was building at Eversley Heights, and the Rainbows'
cottage on the ridge just west of the club, had brought the architect
considerable reputation.  His acquaintance was growing rapidly among
the men who rode to and fro each day on the suburban trains of the C.
R. and N.  It was the kind of acquaintance which he realized might be
very valuable to him in his profession.

Between Chicago and Shoreham there was a long line of prosperous
suburbs, which exhibited a considerable variety of American society.
As the train got away from the sprawling outskirts of the city, every
stop marked a pause in social progress.  Each little town gathered to
itself its own class, which differed subtly, but positively, from that
attracted by its neighbor.  Shoreham was the home of the hunting set,
its society centring in the large club.  At Popover Plains there was a
large summer hotel, and therefore the society of Popover Plains was
considered by her neighbors as more or less "mixed."  Eversley Heights
was still undeveloped, the home of a number of young people, who were
considered very pleasant, even incipiently smart.  But of all the more
distant and desirable settlements Forest Park had the greatest pride in
itself, being comparatively old, and having large places and
old-fashioned ugly houses in which lived some people of permanent
wealth.  At these latter stations many fashionable traps were drawn up
at the platforms to meet the incoming afternoon trains, and the
coachmen, recognizing their masters, touched their hats properly with
their whips.  Farther down the line there were more runabouts, and they
were driven by wives freshly dressed, who were expecting package-laden
husbands.  Still nearer the city, the men who tumbled out of the cars
to the platform found no waiting carriages, and only occasionally a
young woman in starched calico awaited her returning lord.

Nevertheless, all these suburban towns had one common characteristic:
they were the homes of the prosperous, who had emerged from the close
struggle in the city with ideals of rest and refreshment and an
instinct for the society of their own kind.  Except for a street of
shops near the stations, to which was relegated the service element of
life, the inhabitants of these suburbs got exclusively the society of
their kind.


The architect went to the city by one of the earlier trains and came
back very late.  He had all the labor of supervising the construction
of his buildings, for the work in the office did not warrant engaging a
superintendent.  He emerged from the city, after a day spent in running
about here and there, with a kind of speechless listlessness, which the
wife of a man in business soon becomes accustomed to.  But the dinner
in the lively dining-room of the club-house, with the chatter about
sport and the gossip, the cigar afterward on the veranda overlooking
the green, turfy valley golden in the afterglow of sunset, refreshed
him quickly.  He was always eager to accept any invitation, to go
wherever they were asked, to have himself and his wife in the eyes of
their little public as much as possible.  His agreeable manners, his
keen desire to please, his instinct for the conventional, the suitable,
made him much more popular than his wife, who was considered shy, if
not positively countrified.  As the season progressed, Jackson was sure
that they had made a wise choice of a place to settle in, and they
began to look for a house for the winter.

These were the happiest months the architect had ever known.  He was
having the exquisite pleasure that a robust nature feels in the first
successful bout with life.  Then blows, even, are sweet, and the whole
brutal surge of the struggle.  The very step of him these days as he
turned in at his club for a hurried luncheon, his air of polite haste,
a quick, hearty manner of greeting the men he knew, proclaimed him as
one who had taken his part in the game.  The song of the great city
sang in his ears all the day, with a sweeter, minor note of his love
that was awaiting him.

Yet there were grave risks, anxieties, that pressed as the months
passed.  In spite of all the apparent prosperity which the little
office enjoyed from the start, the profit for the first year was
startlingly small.  The commission from the Phillips house had long
since been eaten; also as much of the fee from Graves as that close
contractor could be induced to pay over before the building had been
finished.  The insatiable office was now devouring the profits from the
railroad business.  Such commissions as he had got in Forest Park and
Shoreham were well-earned: the work was fussy, exacting, and paid very
little.  When Cook saw the figures, he spoke to the point: "It's just
self-indulgence to build houses.  We must quit it."  If they were to
succeed, they must do a larger business,--factories, mills,
hotels,--work that could be handled on a large scale, roughly and
rapidly.

The Harts were living beyond their means, not extravagantly, but with a
constant deficit which from the earliest weeks of their marriage had
troubled Helen.  Reared in the tradition of thrift, she held it to be a
crime to spend money not actually earned.  But she found that her
husband had another theory of domestic economy.  To attract money, he
said, one must spend it.  He insisted on her dressing as well as the
other women who used the club, although they were for the most part
wives and daughters of men who had many times his income.  At the close
of the first ten months of their marriage Helen spoke authoritatively:--

"At this rate we shall run behind at least two thousand dollars for the
year.  We must go back to the city to live at once!"

They had been talking of renting the Loring place in Forest Park for
the coming year.  But she knew that in the city she could control the
expenditure, the manner of living.  The architect laughed at her
scruples, however.

"I'll see Bushfield to-day and find out when they are to get at the
Popover station."

She still looked grave, having in mind a precept that young married
people, barring sickness, should save a fifth of their income.

"And if that isn't enough," her husband added, "why, we must pull out
something else.  There's lots doing."

He laughed again and kissed her before going downstairs to take the
club 'bus.  His light-hearted philosophy did not reassure her.  If
one's income was not enough for one's wants, he said--why, expand the
income!  This hopeful, gambling American spirit was natural to him.  He
was too young to realize that the point of expansion for professional
men is definitely limited.  A lawyer, a doctor, an architect, has but
his one brain, his one pair of hands, his own eyes--and the scope of
these organs is fixed by nature.

"And we give to others so little!" she protested in her heart that
morning.  Her mother had given to their church and to certain charities
always a tenth of their small income.  That might be a mechanical,
old-fashioned method of estimating one's dues to mankind, but it was
better than the careless way of giving when it occurred to one, or when
some friend who could not be denied demanded help....

The architect, as he rode to the early morning train in the club 'bus,
was talking to Stephen Lane, a rich bachelor, who had a large house and
was the chief promoter of the Hunt Club.  Lane grumbled rather
ostentatiously because he was obliged to take the early train, having
had news that a mill he was interested in had burned down overnight.

"You are going to rebuild?" the architect asked.

"Begin as soon as we can get the plans done," Lane replied laconically.

It shot into the architect's mind that here was the opportunity which
would go far to wipe out the deficit he and Helen had been talking
about.  With this idea in view he got into the smoking car with Lane,
and the two men talked all the way to town.  Hart did not like Stephen
Lane; few at the club cared for the rich bachelor, whose manners
carried a self-consciousness of wealth.  But this morning the architect
looked at him from a different angle, and condoned his tone of
patronage.  Yet the mill would mean only a few hundred dollars, a mere
pot-boiling job, that in his student days he would have scorned,
something that Cook or a new draughtsman might bite his teeth on!  As
the train neared the tangled network of the city terminal, he ventured
to say, "What architects do your work, Lane?"

He hated the sound of his voice as he said it, though he tried to make
it impersonal and indifferent.  Lane's voice seemed to change its tone,
something of suspicion creeping in, as he replied:--

"I have always had the Stearns brothers.  They do that sort of thing
pretty well."

As they mounted the station stairs, Lane asked casually: "Do you ever
do that kind of work?  It isn't much in your line."

"I've never tried it, but of course I should like the chance."

Then Lane, one hand on the door of a waiting cab, remarked slowly:
"Well, we'll talk it over perhaps.  Where do you lunch?" and gave the
architect two fingers of his gloved hand.

He was thinking that Mrs. Hart was a pleasant woman, who always
listened to him with a certain deference, and that these Harts must be
hard put to it, without old Jackson's pile.

Hart went his way on foot, a taste of something little agreeable in his
mouth.  That same morning he had to stop at the railroad offices to see
the purchasing agent.  The railroad did its own contracting, naturally,
and it was through this man Bushfield that the specifications for the
buildings had to pass.  The architect had had many dealings with the
purchasing agent, and had found him always friendly.  This morning
Bushfield was already in his office, perspiring from the August heat,
his coat off, a stenographer at his elbow.  When Hart came in he looked
up slowly, and nodded.  After he had finished with the stenographer, he
asked:--

"Why do you specify Star cement at Eversley, Hart?"

"Oh, it's about the best.  We always specify Star for outside work."

"How's it any better than the Climax?" the purchasing agent asked
insistently.

"I don't know anything about the Climax.  What's the matter with Star?"

Bushfield scratched his chin thoughtfully for a moment.

"I haven't got anything against Star.  What I want to know is what you
have got against Climax?"

The smooth, guttural tones of the purchasing agent gave the architect
no cause for suspicion, and he was dull enough not to see what was in
the air.

"It would take time to try a new cement properly," he answered.

The purchasing agent picked up his morning cigar, rolled it around in
his mouth, and puffed before he replied:--

"I don't mind telling you that it means something to me to have Climax
used at Eversley.  It's just as good as any cement on the market.  I
give you my word for that.  I take it you're a good friend of mine.  I
wish you would see if you can't use the Climax."

Then they talked of other matters.  When Hart got back to the office he
looked up the Climax cement in a trade catalogue.  There were hundreds
of brands on the market, and the Climax was one of the newest.  Horace
Bushfield, he reflected, was Colonel Raymond's son-in-law.  If he
wished to do the Popover station, he should remain on good terms with
the purchasing agent of the road.  Some time that day he got out the
type-written specifications for the railroad work, and in the section
on the cement work he inserted neatly in ink the words, "Or a cement of
equal quality approved by the architect."

He had scarcely time to digest this when not many days later the
purchasing agent telephoned to him:--

"Say, Hart, the Buckeye Hardware people have just had a man in here
seeing me about the hardware for that building.  I see you have
specified the Forrest makes.  Aren't the Buckeye people first-class?"

The architect, who knew what was coming this time, waited a moment
before replying.  Then he answered coolly, "I think they are,
Bushfield."

"Well, the Buckeye people have always done our business, and they
couldn't understand why they were shut out by your specifying the
Forrest makes.  You'll make that all right?  So long."

As Hart hung up his receiver, he would have liked to write Raymond, the
general manager, that he wanted nothing more to do with the railroad
business.  Some weeks later when he happened to glance over the Buckeye
Company's memoranda of sales for the Eversley station, and saw what the
railroad had paid for its hardware, he knew that Horace Bushfield was a
thief.  But the purchasing agent was Colonel Raymond's son-in-law, and
the railroad was about to start the Popover station!


Something similar had been his experience with the contractor Graves.

"Put me up a good, showy building," the contractor had said, when they
first discussed the design.  "That's the kind that will take in that
park neighborhood.  People nowadays want a stylish home with elevator
boys in uniform....  That court you've got there between the wings, and
the little fountain, and the grand entrance,--all just right.  But they
don't want to pay nothin' for their style.  Flats don't rent for
anything near what they do in New York.  Out here they want the earth
for fifty, sixty dollars a month; and we've got to give 'em the nearest
thing to it for their money."

So when it came to the structure of the building, the contractor
ordered the architect to save expense in every line of the details.
The woodwork was cut to the thinnest veneer; partitions, even
bearing-walls, were made of the cheapest studding the market offered;
the large floors were hung from thin outside walls, without the brick
bearing-walls advised by the architect.  When Hart murmured, Graves
said frankly:--

"This ain't any investment proposition, my boy.  I calculate to fill
the Graveland in two months, and then I'll trade it off to some
countryman who is looking for an investment.  Put all the style you
want into the finish.  Have some of the flats Flemish, and others
Colonial, and so on.  Make 'em smart."

The architect tried to swallow his disgust at being hired to put
together such a flimsy shell of plaster and lath.  But Cook, who had
been trained in Wright's office, where work of this grade was never
accepted, was in open revolt.

"If it gets known around that this is the style of work we do in this
office, it'll put us in a class, and it ain't a pleasant one,
either....  Say, Jack, how's this office to be run--first-class or the
other class?"

"You know, man," the architect replied, wincing at the frank speech,
"how I am fixed with Graves.  I don't like this business any better
than you do, but we'll be through with it before long; and I shan't get
into it again, I can tell you."

He growled in his turn to the contractor, who received his protest with
contemptuous good humor.

"You'd better take a look at what other men are doing, if you think I
am making the Graveland such an awful cheap building.  I tell you,
there ain't money in the other kind.  Why, I worked for a man once who
put up a first-class flat building, slow-burning construction, heavy
woodwork, and all that.  It's old-fashioned by this--and its rents are
way down.  And I saw by the paper the other day that it was sold at the
sheriff's sale for not more than what my bill came to!  What have you
got to say to that?"

Therefore the architect dismissed the Graveland from his mind as much
as he could, and saw little of it while it was under construction, for
the contractor did his own superintending.  One day, however, he had
occasion to go to the building, and took his wife with him.  They drove
down the vast waste of Grand Boulevard; after passing through that
wilderness of painful fancies, the lines of the Graveland made a very
pleasant impression.

Hart had induced Graves to sacrifice part of his precious land to an
interior court, around which he had thrown his building like a
miniature château, thus shutting out the sandy lots, the ragged street,
which looked like a jaw with teeth knocked out at irregular intervals.
A heavy wall joined the two wings on the street side, and through the
iron gates the Park could be seen, just across the street.

"Lovely!" Helen exclaimed.  "I'm so glad you did it!  I like it so--so
much more than the Phillips house."

They studied it carefully from the carriage, and Hart pointed out all
the little triumphs of design.  It was, as Helen felt, much more
genuine than the Phillips house.  It was no bungling copy, but an
honest answer to a modern problem--an answer, to be sure, in the only
language that the architect knew.

Helen wanted to see the interior, although Jackson displayed no
enthusiasm over that part of the structure.  And in the inside came the
disaster!  The evidences of the contractor's false, flimsy building
darkened the architect's brow.

"The scamp!" he muttered, emerging from the basement.  "He's propped
the whole business on a dozen or so 'two-by-fours.'  And I guess he's
put in the rottenest plumbing underground that I ever saw.  I don't
believe it ever had an inspection."

"Show me what you mean," Helen demanded.

He pointed out to her some of the devices used to skimp the building.

"Even the men at work here know it.  You can see it by the way they
look at me.  Why, the thing is a paper box!"

In some of the apartments the rough work was scarcely completed, in
others the plasterers were at work; but the story was the same
everywhere.

"I can't see how he escaped the Building Department.  He's violated the
ordinances again and again.  But I suppose he knows how to keep the
inspectors quiet."

He remembered the Canostota: he had no manner of doubt, now, about
those I-beams in the Canostota.

"Francis!" Helen exclaimed with sudden passion; "you won't stand it?
You won't let him do this kind of thing?"

The architect shrugged his shoulders.

"It's his building.  He bought the plans and paid for them."

She was silent, troubled in her mind by this business distinction, but
convinced that wrong was being done.  A thing like this, a fraud upon
the public, should be prevented in some way.

"Can't you tell him that you will report him to the Building
Department?" she asked finally.

Hart smiled at her impetuous unpractically.

"That would hardly do, would it, to go back on a client like that?
It's none of my business, really.  Only one hates to feel that his
ideas are wasted on such stuff as this is made of.  The city should
look after it.  And it's no worse than most of these flat buildings.
Look at that one across the street.  It's the same cheap thing.  I was
in there the other day....  No, it's the condition of things in this
city,--the worst place for good building in the country.  Every one
says so.  But God help the poor devils who come to live here, if a fire
once gets started in this plaster-and-lath shell!"

He turned to the entrance and kicked open the door in disgust.  Helen's
face was pale and set, as if she could not dismiss the matter thus
lightly.

"I never thought of fire!" she murmured.  "Francis, if anything like
that should happen!  To think that you had drawn the plans!"

"Oh! it may last out its time," he replied reassuringly.  "And it
doesn't affect the appearance of the building at present.  It's real
smart, as Mrs. Rainbow would say.  Don't you think so, Nell?"

She was standing with her back to the pleasant façade of the Graveland,
and was staring into the Park across the street.  Turning around at his
words she cast a swift, scrutinizing glance over the building.

"It isn't right!  I see fraud looking out of every window.  It's just a
skeleton covered with cloth."

The architect laughed at her solemnity.  He was disgusted with it
himself; it offended his workman's conscience.  But he was too modern,
too practical, to allow merely ideal considerations to upset him.  And,
after all, in his art, as in most arts, the effect of the work was
two-thirds the game.  With her it was altogether different.  Through
all outward aspect, or cover, of things pierced their inner being, from
which one could not escape by illusion.

As they were leaving the place the contractor drove up to the building
for his daily inspection.  He came over to the architect, a most
affable smile on his bearded face.

"Mrs. Hart, I presume," he said, raising his hat.  "Looking over your
husband's work?  It's fine, fine, I tell you!  Between ourselves, it
beats Wright all out."

Helen's stiffness of manner did not encourage cordiality, and Graves,
thinking her merely snobbish, bowed to them and went into the building.

"You'll never do anything for him again, will you, Francis?  Promise
me."

And he promised lightly enough, for he thought it highly improbable
that the contractor ever would return to him, or that he should feel
obliged to take his work if he offered it.


Nevertheless, the contractor did return to the office, and not long
afterward.  It was toward the end of the summer, when the architect and
his wife were still debating the question of taking a house in the
country for the winter.  One afternoon Jackson came back from his
luncheon to find Graves waiting for him in the outer office.  The
stenographer and Cook were hard at work in the room beyond, with an air
of having nothing to say to the contractor.  As Graves followed Hart
into his private office, Cook looked up with a curl on his thin lips
that expressed the fulness of his heart.

"Say," Graves called out as soon as Hart had closed the door to the
outer room, "I sold that Graveland three weeks ago, almost before the
plaster was dry.  A man from Detroit came in to see me one morning, and
we made the deal that day."

"Is that so?" Hart remarked coolly.

"It was a pretty building.  I knew I shouldn't have any trouble with
it.  Now I have something new in mind."

The architect listened in a non-committal manner.

"Part of that trade with the Detroit feller was for a big block of land
out west here a couple of miles.  I am thinking of putting up some tidy
little houses to sell on the instalment plan."

"What do you mean to put into them?" Jackson asked bluntly.

"Well, they'd ought to sell for not more than eight thousand dollars."

"And cost as much less as you can make them hold together for?  I don't
believe I can do anything for you, Mr. Graves," Jackson replied firmly.

"Is that so?  Well, you are the first man I ever saw who was too busy
to take on a paying piece of business."

He settled himself more comfortably in the chair opposite Hart's desk,
and began to describe his scheme.  There was to be a double row of
houses, three stories and basement, each one different in style, in a
different kind of brick or terra cotta, with a distinguishing "feature"
worked in somewhere in the design.  They were to be bait for the
thrifty clerk, who wanted to buy a permanent home on the instalment
plan rather than pay rent.  There were many similar building schemes in
different parts of the city, the advertisements of which one might read
in the street cars.

"Why do you want me to do the job for you?" Hart asked at last.  "Any
boy just out of school could do what you are after."

"No, he couldn't!  He hasn't the knack of giving a fresh face to each
house.  But it won't be hard work for you!"

This, the architect knew, was true.  It would be very easy to have Cook
hunt up photographs from French and English architectural journals,
which with a little arrangement would serve for the different houses.
With a few hours' work he could turn out that individual façade which
Graves prized commercially.  Here was the large job that could be done
easily and roughly, opportunely offering itself.

"I don't like to have such work go through the office.  That's all
there is about it!" he exclaimed at last.

"Is that so?  Too tony already.  Well, we won't fight over that.
Suppose you make the sketches and let another feller prepare the
details?"

There were many objections to this mode of operation, but the
contractor met every one.  Hart himself thought of Meyer, a clever,
dissipated German, to whom he had given work now and then when the
office was busy.  Meyer would do what he was told and say nothing about
it.

It was late when Graves left the office.  Cook and the stenographer had
already gone.  Hart went down into the street with the contractor, and
they nodded to each other when they parted, in the manner of men who
have reached an understanding.  On the way to the train, Jackson
dropped into his club for a drink.  He stood staring into the street
while he sipped his gin and bitters.  The roar of the city as it came
through the murky windows seemed to him more than commonly harsh and
grating.  The gray light of the summer evening filtered mournfully into
the dingy room....  He was not a weak man; he had no qualms of
conscience for what he had made up his mind that afternoon to do.  It
was disagreeable, but he had weighed it against other disagreeable
alternatives which might happen if he could not get the money he
needed.  His child would be born in a few months, and his wife must
have the necessary comforts during her illness.  He had too much pride
to accept Helen's plan of going to her mother's house for her
confinement.  By the time he had reached Shoreham he had entirely
adjusted his mind to Graves, and he met his wife, who had walked over
to the station, with his usual buoyant smile.  And that evening he
remarked:--

"I guess we had better take the Loring place.  It's the only fit one
for rent.  We'll have to keep a horse--that's all."

They had been debating this matter of the Loring place for several
weeks.  It was a pleasant old house, near the lake, not far from Mrs.
Phillips's in Forest Park.  It was Mrs. Phillips who had first called
the architect's attention to it.  But, unfortunately, it was too far
from either station of the railroad to be within walking distance.  And
it was a large establishment for two young persons to maintain, who
were contemplating the advent of a baby and a nurse.

All this Helen had pointed out to her husband, and lately they had felt
too poor to consider the Loring place.

"What has happened, Francis?" she asked.

"A lot more business has come in,--a block of houses.  They will be
very profitable," he answered vaguely, remembering Helen's antipathy to
the contractor.  "Did you lunch with Venetia?  I saw her this morning
at the station.  She is growing up fast, isn't she?"



CHAPTER XIII

Two years passed and they were still living in the Loring place, which
the architect had remodelled comfortably to suit his modern taste.
Occasionally he talked of building, and they looked at land here and
there.  But it was clearly out of the question at present, for each
year the family budget went leaping upward, and the income came tagging
after.

"Jack," so Everett Wheeler expressed the situation in the raw phrase of
the ordinary man, "Jack's got a champagne appetite.  But he's a pretty
good provider."

The architect was a good provider: he enjoyed heartily the luxury that
his money brought him, and he wanted his wife to enjoy it with him.  He
worked at high pressure and needed his bread and meat well seasoned
with excitement.  Once, early in their married life, Mrs. Phillips had
volunteered to explain to Helen the philosophy of this masculine
temperament.

"Some men need more food than others.  They'd mope and grow thin if
they dined at home on a chop and went to bed at ten every night.  They
must have something to make steam.  Your young man was born to be a
spender."

The second winter the Phillipses had gone to Europe, where the widow
was still adding to her collection for the new house,--Forest Manor as
she had dubbed it.  Leaving Venetia in Paris with some friends, she had
descended upon Italy, the rage for buying in her soul.  There she
gathered up the flotsam of the dealers,--marbles, furniture, stuffs,--a
gold service in Naples, a vast bed in Milan, battered pictures in
Florence.  Mrs. Phillips was not a discriminating amateur; she troubled
her soul little over the authenticity of her spoil.  To San Giorgio,
Simonetti, Richetti, and their brethren in the craft she came like a
rich harvest, and they put up many a prayer for her return another
season.

In March of that year, Jackson Hart, struggling with building strikes
in Chicago, had a cablegram from the widow.  "Am buying wonderful
marbles in Florence.  Can you come over?"  The architect laughed as he
handed the message to his wife, saying lightly, "Some one ought to head
her off, or she'll be sending over a shipload of fakes."  Helen,
mindful of the widow's utterances about Jackson, and thinking that he
needed the vacation after two years of hard work, urged him generously
to accept the invitation and get a few weeks in Italy.  But there was
no time just then for vacation: he was in the grip of business, and
another child was coming to them.

From time to time Mrs. Phillips's purchases arrived at Forest Park and
were stored in the great hall of her house.  Then late in the spring
the widow telephoned the architect.

"Yes, I am back," came her brisk, metallic tones from the receiver.
"Glad to be home, of course, with all the dirt and the rest of it.  How
are you getting on?  I hear you are doing lots of things.  Maida
Rainbow told me over there in Paris that you were building the
Bushfields an immense house.  I am so glad for you--I hope you are
coining money."

"Not quite that," he laughed back.

"I want you to see all the treasures I have bought.  I've ruined myself
and the children!  However, you'll think it's worth it, I'm sure.  You
must tell me what to do with them.  Come over Sunday, can't you?  How
is Mrs. Hart?  Bring her over, too, of course."

Thus she gathered him up on her return with that dexterous turn of the
wrist which exasperated her righteous brother-in-law.  On the Sunday
Jackson went to see the "treasures," but without Helen, who made an
excuse of her mother's weekly visit.  He found the widow in the stable,
directing the efforts of two men servants in unpacking some cases.

"Ah, it's you!  How are you?"

She extended a strong, flexible hand to Hart, and with the other
motioned toward a marble that was slowly emerging from the packing
straw.

"Old copy of a Venus, the Syracuse one.  It will be great in the hall,
won't it?"

"It's ripping!" he exclaimed warmly.  "But where did you get that
picture?"

"You don't like it?"

"Looks to be pure fake."

"And Simonetti swore he knew the very room where it's hung for over a
hundred years."

"Oh, he probably put it there himself!"

"Come into the house and see the other things.  I have some splendid
chairs."

For an hour they examined the articles she had bought, and the
architect was sufficiently approving to satisfy Mrs. Phillips.  Neither
one had a pure, reticent taste.  Both were of the modern barbarian type
that admires hungrily and ravishes greedily from the treasure house of
the Old World what it can get, what is left to get, piling the spoil
helter-skelter into an up-to-date American house.  Mediæval,
Renaissance, Italian, French, Flemish--it was all one!  Between them
they would turn Forest Manor into one of those bizarre, corrupt,
baroque museums that our lavish plunderers love,--electric-lighted and
telephoned, with gilded marble fireplaces, massive bronze candelabra,
Persian rugs, Gothic choir stalls, French bronzes--a house of barbarian
spoil!

A servant brought in a tray of liquors and cigarettes; they sat in the
midst of pictures and stuffs, and sipped and smoked.

"Now," Mrs. Phillips announced briskly, "I want to hear all about you!"

"It's only the old story,--more jobs and more strikes,--the chase for
the nimble dollar," he answered lightly.  "You have to run faster for
it all the time."

"But you are making money?" she questioned directly.

"I'm spending it."

He found it not difficult to tell her the state of his case.  She
nodded comprehendingly, while he let her see that his situation, after
two years of hard work, was not altogether as prosperous as it appeared
on the surface.  Payments on buildings under construction were delayed
on account of the strikes; office expenses crept upward; and personal
expenses mounted too.  And there was that constant pressure in
business--the fear of a cessation in orders.

"We may have to move back to town after all.  That Loring place is
pretty large to swing, and in town you can be poor in obscurity."

"Nonsense!  You must not go back.  People will know then that you
haven't money.  You are going to get bigger things to do when the
strikes are over.  And you are so young.  My! not thirty-five."

Her sharp eyes examined the man frankly, sympathetically, approving him
swiftly.  His clay was like hers; he would succeed, she judged--in the
end.

"Come!  I have an idea.  Why shouldn't you build here, on my land?
Something pretty and artistic; it would help you, of course, to have
your own house.  I know the very spot, just the other side of the
ravine--in the hickories.  Do you remember it?"

In her enthusiasm she proposed to go at once to examine the site.
Pinning a big hat on her head, she gathered up her long skirt, and they
set forth, following a neat wood-path that led from the north terrace
into the ravine, across a little brook, and up the other bank.

"Now, here!"  She pointed to a patch of hazel bushes.  "See the lake
over there.  And my house is almost hidden.  You would be quite by
yourselves."

He hinted that to build even on this charming spot a certain amount of
capital would be needed.  She frowned and settled herself on the stump
of a tree.

"Why don't you try that Harris man?  You know him.  He made a heap of
money for me once,--corn, I think.  He knew just what was going to
happen.  He's awfully smart, and he's gone in with Rainbow, you know.
I am sure he could make some money for you."

"Or lose it?"

She laughed scornfully at the idea of losing.

"Of course you have got to risk something.  I wouldn't give a penny for
a man who wouldn't trust his luck.  You take my advice and see Harris.
Tell him I sent you."

She laughed again, with the conviction of a successful gambler; it
became her to laugh, for it softened the lines of her mouth.

She was now forty-one years old, and she appeared to Jackson to be
younger than when he had first gone to see her after his uncle's death.
She had come back from Europe thinner than she had been for several
years.  Her hair was perfectly black, still undulled by age, and her
features had not begun to sharpen noticeably.  She had another ten
years of active, selfish woman's life before her, and she knew it.
Meantime he had grown older rapidly, so that they were much nearer
together.  She treated him quite as her equal in experience, and that
flattered him.

"Yes," she continued, in love with her project, "there isn't a nicer
spot all along the shore.  And you would be next door, so to say.  You
could pay for the land when you got ready, of course."

She gave him her arm to help her in descending the steep bank of the
ravine, and she leaned heavily on him.  Beneath the bluff the lake
lapped at the sandy shore in a summer drowse, and the June sun lay
warmly about the big house as they returned to it.  The shrubbery had
grown rankly around the terrace, doing its best in its summer verdancy
to soften the naked walls.  The architect looked at the house he had
built with renewed pride.  It was pretentious and ambitious, mixed in
motive like this woman, like himself.  He would have fitted into the
place like a glove, if his uncle had done the right thing.  Somewhat
the same thought was in the widow's mind.

"It was a shame that old Powers treated you so shabbily!  They haven't
done anything yet about that school, have they?"

"No; I thought I should be drawing the plans before this.  Rather
counted on it."

They stood for a moment on the terrace, looking at the house.  Yes, it
was like them both!  They loved equally the comforts and the luxuries
and the powers of this our little life.  And they were bold to snatch
what they wanted from the general feast.

"You must make Harris do something for you," she mused.  "You can't
bury yourself in a stuffy flat."  Then in a few moments she added:
"How's that handsome wife of yours?  I hear she's going to have another
child."  She continued with maternal, or, perhaps, Parisian,
directness: "Two babies, and not on your feet yet!  You mustn't have
any more.  These days children are no unmixed blessing, I can tell
you....  Venetia?  I left her in the East with some friends she made
over there.  She's too much for me already.  She needs a husband who
can use the curb." ...

When Jackson reported to his wife the widow's offer, Helen said very
quickly, "I had rather go back to the city to live, Francis, than do
that."

"Why?" he asked with some irritation.

"Because, because--"

She put her arms about his neck in her desire to make him feel what she
could not say.  But he was thinking of Mrs. Phillips's advice to see
the broker, and merely kissed her in reply to her caress.  The widow
had spoken wisely; it would be foolish to retreat now, to hide himself
in the city.  Instead, he would venture on with the others.  It was the
year of the great bull market, when it seemed as if wealth hung low on
every bough, and all that a bold man had to do to win a fortune was to
pick his stock and make his stake.


Forest Park was very gay that summer.  There were perpetual dinners and
house parties and much polo at the Shoreham Club.  The architect, who
was very popular, went about more than ever, sometimes with his wife,
and often alone, as her health did not permit much effort.
Occasionally he played polo, taking the place of one of the regular
team, and usually when there was a match he stopped at the club on his
way from the city.

One of these polo Wednesdays, late in August, Helen strolled along the
shore-path in the direction of the Phillipses' place, with an idea of
calling on Venetia Phillips, if her strength held out.  The path
followed the curves of the bluff in full view of the lake, from which
rose a pleasant coolness like a strong odor.  Back from the edge of the
bluff, in the quiet of well-spaced trees, stood the houses.  They
seemed deserted on this midsummer afternoon, for those people who had
the energy to stir had gone to the polo grounds.  The Phillips house,
also, was apparently asleep in the windless heat, as Helen crossed the
lawn that stretched from the edge of the bluff to the terrace; but when
she reached the stone steps she caught a glimpse of Mrs. Phillips
seated in the farther corner of the terrace, where luxuriant vines
curtained a sheltered nook.  Beyond was the outline of a man's form,
and little rings of blue cigar smoke curled upward.  The widow was
leaning forward, her elbows resting comfortably on her knees, and in
the animation of her talk she had put one hand on her companion's arm
to emphasize her words.  It lay there, while she looked into the man's
face with her eager, flashing eyes.

Before Helen could take another step Mrs. Phillips turned her head, as
if disturbed unconsciously by the presence of an intruder.

"Oh, is that you, Mrs. Hart?" the older woman asked after a moment of
scrutiny.  "Did you walk in all this heat?  Come over here."

"Helen!" Jackson exclaimed, rising, a trace of annoyance in his tone,
as though he had been interrupted in some important business matter.

"Don't get up, Mrs. Phillips," Helen said quickly, and the coldness of
her voice surprised her.  "I am looking for Venetia."

And without further words she opened the terrace door and stepped into
the hall.

"You'll find her about somewhere.  Ask John!" Mrs. Phillips called
after her coolly.

While the servant departed in search of Venetia, Helen moved restlessly
about the long drawing-room, which oppressed her with its close array
of dominating furniture, thinking of the two outside upon the terrace.
She had no suspicion of wrong between them, or, indeed, any jealousy of
this woman, who she well knew liked men--all men.  Yet an unfamiliar
pain gripped her heart.  Slowly, for many months, she had felt some
mysterious and hostile force entering her field, and now she seemed to
see it pictured, dramatized here before her in this little scene,--a
man and a woman with chairs pulled close together, their faces aglow
with eager thoughts.  The other part of her husband, that grosser side
of him which she dimly felt and put forth from her mind with dread, was
on intimate terms with this woman, who fed his ambitions.  And the
wife, suddenly, instinctively, hated her for it.

There was nothing evil, however, between those two on the terrace.  The
architect had come from town by an early train to see the polo, and
there Mrs. Phillips had found him, and had brought him home in her
automobile.  She had just learned a piece of news that concerned the
architect closely, and they were discussing it in the shade and quiet
of the north terrace.

"I know they're going to start soon.  The judge let it out at dinner
last night.  He's no friend of yours, of course, because I like you.
But he won't take the trouble to fight you.  You must get hold of your
cousin and the other trustees."

It was here that Mrs. Phillips, in her eagerness for his success, laid
her hand on the young man's arm.  Jackson murmured his thanks, thinking
less of the widow than of the trustees of the Powers Jackson bequest.

"It'll be the biggest thing of its kind we have had in this city for
years.  It's only right that you should have it, too.  Can't your wife
win over the judge?  He's always talking about her," she resumed after
Helen's departure.

It was not strange that in the end the man should take the woman's
hand, and hold it while he expressed his gratitude for all her good
offices to him.  It was a pleasant hand to hold, and the woman was an
agreeable woman to have in one's confidence.  Naturally, he could not
know that she considered all men base,--emotionally treacherous and
false-hearted, and would take her amusement wherever she could get it.


Venetia found Helen in the drawing-room, very white, her lips
trembling, and beads of perspiration on her forehead.

"What's the matter?" Venetia demanded quickly.  "Have you seen a ghost
anywhere?"

"It's nothing," the older woman protested.  "I shouldn't have walked so
far.  And now I must go back at once,--yes, really I must.  I'm so
sorry."

"Let me call Mr. Hart," Venetia said, troubled by the woman's white
face.  "I saw him come in with mamma a little while ago."

"No, no, I prefer not, please.  It would worry him."

Then Venetia insisted on driving her home, and left her calmer, more
herself, but still cold.  She kissed her, with a girl's
demonstrativeness, and the older woman burst into tears.

"I am so weak and so silly.  I see things queerly," she explained,
endeavoring to smile.

After the girl had gone, Helen tried to recover her ordinary calm.  She
played with the little Francis, who was beginning to venture about the
walls and chairs of his nursery, testing the power in his sturdy legs.
This naïve manifestation of his masculine quality touched the mother
strangely.  She saw in this mark of manhood the future of the boy.
What other of man's instincts would he have?  Would he, too, hunger and
fight for his share in the spoil of the world?

The terrible hour of her woman's agony was fast approaching, when she
should put forth another being into the struggle with its mates.  She
did not shrink from the pain before her, although she began to wonder
if it might not end her own life, having that dark foreboding common to
sensitive women at this crisis.  If death came now, what had she done
with her life?  She would leave it like a meal scarce tasted, a task
merely played with--something seen but not comprehended.  What had she
done for the man she loved?  This afternoon when she saw her husband,
so remote from her, travelling another road, a bitter sense of the
fruitlessness of all living had entered her heart.  This husband whom
she had so passionately loved!


An hour later, as the architect was taking his leave of Mrs. Phillips,
a servant brought him a telephone message from his house.  His wife was
suddenly taken ill.  He raced home through the leafy avenues in the big
touring car, which fortunately stood ready before the door.  He found
Helen white and exhausted, her eyes searching the vacant horizon of her
bedroom.

"Why, Nell!  Poor girl!" he exclaimed, leaning over her, trying to kiss
her.  "The walk was too much for you in all this heat.  Why didn't you
let me know?"

Her lips were cold and scarcely closed to his caress.  She pushed him
gently from her, wishing to be alone in her trial.  But shortly
afterward, purging her heart of any suspicion or jealousy,--still
haunted by that fear of death,--she drew him to her and whispered:--

"You were talking with Mrs. Phillips.  I didn't want to--it's all
right, Francis.  I love you, dear!  Oh!  I love you!"



CHAPTER XIV

Rumor had it that the Powers Jackson trust was about to be fulfilled.
It had become known among the friends of the trustees that during these
prosperous times the fund for the educational project had grown apace,
and was now estimated to be from five to six millions of dollars.  It
was understood that some of the trustees were in favor of handing over
this munificent bequest to a large local university, with the
stipulation that a part of the money should be devoted to maintaining a
school on the West Side where some form of manual training or
technology should be taught.

One morning, not long after Helen's confinement, Jackson read aloud
from the newspaper an item to the effect that negotiations were under
way with the university.

"So that's their game!" he exclaimed to Helen gloomily, seeing in this
move an unexpected check to his ambition.

"How can they even think of it!" she responded warmly, unwontedly
stirred at the thought that the old man's design had already become
thus blurred in the minds of his nearest friends.  "That wasn't in the
least what uncle meant should be done.  I wish I could see Everett, or
Judge Phillips, and find out the truth in all this talk."

"Yes," Jackson assented.  "I should like to know what they mean to do."

Then he went to the train, trying to recall the names of the
influential trustees of the university, and wondering whether after all
there would be any monumental building erected with his uncle's money.
Fate seemed disposed to keep from his touch the smallest morsel of the
coveted millions!

It was not long before Helen had the opportunity she desired of finding
out from the trustees what was the truth beneath the newspaper gossip.
Judge Phillips with Mr. Pemberton took the seat behind her in the car
of the Chicago train one morning, and the judge leaning forward
inquired about the children.  Before he settled back into his
newspaper, Helen ventured to mention the current report about the
Powers Jackson bequest.

"I hope it isn't true," she protested warmly.  "Mr. Jackson was not
interested in universities, I know,--at least especially.  He didn't
believe very much in theoretical education; I don't think he would have
wanted his money used that way."

"What is that?" Pemberton asked with interest.

The judge, who preferred to talk babies or shrubs with a pleasant young
woman, answered briefly:--

"Well, we haven't settled anything yet.  Mr. Hollister seems to be
against the university plan, and I don't know that I favor it.  But
you'll have to talk to Pemberton here.  It was his idea."

"Why do you think Mr. Jackson would have objected?" Pemberton inquired
gravely.

"We often used to discuss college education," Helen replied quickly,
turning to the younger trustee.  "And he had very positive ideas about
what was needed nowadays.  He thought that colleges educated the
leaders, the masters, and that there would always be enough left for
that kind of institution.  So many people are interested in colleges.
But he wanted to do something with his money for the people."

"Yes, of course, it must be a free technical school," Pemberton replied
literally, "and it must be out there on the West Side."

"But planned for the people, the working people," she insisted.

"Naturally.  But we are all the 'people,' aren't we, Mrs. Hart?  I
haven't much sympathy with this talk nowadays about the 'people' as
opposed to any other class."

"That's the unions," the judge nodded sagely.  "We are all the
'people.'  There is no class distinction in educational matters.  We
want to offer the best kind of education for the poor boy or the rich
boy.  What was Powers himself?  His school must be a place to help boys
such as he was, of course."

They were both completely at sea as to the donor's real intentions,
Helen felt sure, and she was eager to have them see the matter as she
saw it.  Suddenly ideas came to her, things she wished to say, things
that seemed to her very important to say.  She remembered talks that
she had had with the old man, and certain remarks about college
education which had dropped from him like sizzling metal.

"But a technological school like the one in Boston,"--Pemberton had
instanced this famous school as an example they should follow,--"that's
a place to educate boys out of their class, to make them ambitious, to
push them ahead of their mates into some higher class."

"Well?" asked Pemberton.  "What's the matter with that idea?  Doesn't
all education do just that for those who are fitted for it?"

"Uncle wanted something so different!  He wanted to make boys good
workmen, to give them something to be contented with when they had just
labor before them, daily labor, in the factories and mills."

The judge's face puckered in puzzle over this speech.  He was of an
older generation, and he could see life only in the light of
competition.  Free competition in all the avenues of life--that was his
ideal.  And the constant labor disputes in Chicago had thickened his
prejudices against the working people as a class.  He believed, in
common with his associates, that their one aim was to get somebody's
money without working for it.

But the other man, who was younger and less prejudiced, was more
responsive.  He felt that this woman had an idea, that she knew perhaps
what the benefactor really wanted, and so they talked of the school
until the train reached Chicago.  As they rose to leave the cars,
Pemberton said warmly:--

"I am glad we have had this talk, Mrs. Hart.  I think I see what you
mean, although I am not at all clear how to attain the objects that you
describe as the donor's intention.  But you have modified my ideas very
materially.  May I call on you some day and continue this discussion?"

"If you would!" Helen exclaimed, glowing with an enthusiasm unfelt for
a long time.

"Well," the judge concluded, "I hope we can get the thing settled
pretty soon and start on the building.  I want to see something done
before I die."

"Yes," Helen assented, "I should think you would want to see the school
go up.  And I hope Jackson will have the building of it."

She expressed this wish very simply, without considering how it might
strike the trustees.  It was merely a bit of sentiment with her that
her husband, who had got his education from Powers Jackson, might, as a
pure labor of love, in gratitude, build this monument to the old man.
It did not then enter her mind that there would be a very large profit
in the undertaking.  She assumed that the architect would do the work
without pay!

It was not until Pemberton's thin lips closed coldly and the judge
stared at her in surprise that she realized what she had said.  Then
her face turned crimson with the thought of her indelicacy, as Judge
Phillips replied shortly:--

"We haven't got that far yet, Mrs. Hart.  It's probable that if we
build we shall have a competition of designs."

The two men raised their hats and disappeared into the black flood
pouring across the bridge, while she got into an omnibus.  That remark
of hers, she felt, might have undone all the good of the talk they had
had about the old man's plan.  Her cheeks burned again as she thought
of hinting for business favors to her husband.  It seemed a mean,
personal seeking, when she had been thinking solely of something noble
and pure.

This idea distressed her more and more until she was ingulfed in that
mammoth caravansary where one-half of Chicago shops and, incidentally,
meets its acquaintances and gossips.  She hurried hither and thither
about this place in the nervous perturbation of buying.  Finally, she
had to mount to the third floor to have a correction made in her
account.  There, in the centre of the building, nearly an acre of floor
space was railed off for the office force,--the bookkeepers and tally
clerks and cashiers.  Near the main aisle thirty or forty girls were
engaged in stamping little yellow slips.  Each had a computation
machine before her and a pile of slips.  Now and then some girl would
glance up listlessly from her work, let her eyes wander vacantly over
the vast floor, and perhaps settle her gaze for a moment on the face of
the lady who was waiting before the cashier's window.  This store
boasted of the excellent character of its employees.  They were of a
neater, more intelligent, more American class than those employed in
other large retail stores.  Even here, however, they had the
characteristic marks of dull, wholesale labor.

Helen was hypnotized by the constant punch, click, and clatter of the
computation machines, the repeated movements of the girls' arms as they
stretched out for fresh slips, inserted them in the machines, laid them
aside.  This was the labor of the great industrial world,--constant,
rhythmic as a machine is rhythmic, deadening to soul and body.
Standing there beside the railing, she could hear the vast clatter of
our complex life, which is carried on by just such automata as these
girls.  What was the best education to offer them, and their brothers
and fathers and lovers?  What would give their lives a little more
sanity, more joy and human interest?--that was the one great question
of education.  Not what would make them and their fellows into
department managers or proprietors.

The receipted bill came presently, with a polite bow.  She stuffed the
change into her purse and hurried away, conscious that the girl nearest
the railing was looking languidly at the back of her gown.

On her way to the Auditorium to meet some women who were to lunch with
her there, and afterward go to the afternoon concert, she stopped at
her husband's office.  The architect had moved lately to the top story
of a large new building on Michigan Avenue, where his office had
expanded.  He had taken a partner, a pleasant, smooth-faced young man,
Fred Stewart, who had excellent connections in the city, which were
expected to bring business to the firm.  Cook was still the head
draughtsman, but there were three men and a stenographer under him now.
His faith in Hart had been justified, and yet at times he shook his
head doubtfully over some of the work which passed through the office.

Cook recognized Helen when she entered the outer office, and opened the
little wicket gate for her to step inside.

"Your husband's busy just now, been shut up with a contractor most all
the morning.  Something big is on probably.  Shall I call him?"

"No," she answered.  "I'll wait awhile.  Is this the new work?"  She
pointed in surprise to the water-color sketches and photographs on the
walls.  "It's so long since I have been in the office.  I had no idea
you had done so much."

"More'n that, too.  There's some we don't hang out here," the
draughtsman answered with suppressed sarcasm.  "We've kept pretty busy."

He liked his boss's wife.  She had a perfectly simple, kindly manner
with all the world, and a face that men love.  The year before she had
had Cook and his younger brother in the country over Sunday, and
treated them "like distinguished strangers," as Cook expressed it.

"That's the Bushfields' house--you know it, perhaps?  This is Arnold
Starr's residence at Marathon Point--colonial style.  That's an Odd
Fellows hall in Peoria.  I did that myself."

Helen said something pleasant about the blunt elevation of the Odd
Fellows hall.

"That's the Graveland," he continued, pointing to a dingy photograph
that Helen recognized.  "It was called after the contractor's name.  We
did that the first year."

"Yes, I think I remember it," she murmured, passing on quickly.  That
was the building her husband had done for the disreputable contractor,
who had made it a mere lath-and-plaster shell.

She kept on around the room, glancing at the photographs and sketches.
Among the newer ones there were several rows of semi-detached houses
that, in spite of the architect's efforts, looked very much as if they
had been carved out of the same piece of cake.  Some of these were so
brazen in their commonplaceness that she thought they must be the work
of the Cooks.  Probably Jackson had reached that point of professional
success where he merely "criticised" a good many of the less important
sketches, leaving the men in the office to work them out.

She sat down to wait, her interest in the office sketches easily
dulled.  They were much like the products of the great emporium that
she had just left,--of all marketable kinds to suit all demands.  The
architect worked in all the "styles,"--Gothic, early English, French
château, etc.  There was little that was sincere, honest, done because
the man could do it that way and no other.  It was all clever
contrivance.

Men came and went in the offices, the little doors fanning back and
forth in an excitement of their own.  The place hummed with business;
messengers and clerks came in from the elevators; contractors exchanged
words with the busy Cook; and through all sounded the incessant call of
the telephone, the bang of the typewriter.  A hive of industry!  It
would have pleased the energetic soul of the manager of Steele's
emporium.

Meantime the wife was thinking, "What does it mean to _him_?"  When
they began their married life in a flat on the North Side, Jackson had
brought his sketches home; and she had kept for his use a little
closet-like room off the hall where he worked evenings.  But from the
time they had moved into the Loring house he had rarely brought home
his work; he was too tired at night and felt the need for distraction
when he left the office.  Had he lost his interest in the art side of
his profession?  Was he turning it into a money-making business, like
Steele's?  She reproached herself as the mere spender and enjoyer, with
the children, of the money, which came out of these ephemeral and
careless buildings, whose pictures dotted the walls.

She was roused by the sound of her husband's voice.  He was coming
through the inner door, and he spoke loudly, cheerily, to his companion.

"Well, then, it's settled.  Shall I have Nelson draw the papers?"  A
thick, cautious voice replied in words that were unintelligible, which
caused the architect to laugh.  Then they emerged into the outer
office.  The stranger's square, heavy face, his grizzled beard, and
thick eyebrows were not unknown to Helen.

"So long, Hart," the contractor murmured, as he disappeared into the
hall.

"Why, Helen!  You here!" the architect exclaimed when he caught sight
of his wife.  "Why didn't you let me know?  Always tell Miss Fair to
call me."

He took her hand, and putting his other hand under her chin he gave her
a little caress, like a busy, indulgent husband.

"Who was that man, Francis?" she asked.

"The one who came out with me?  That was a contractor, a fellow named
Graves."

She had it on her lips to say, "And you promised me once that you would
never have any more business with him."  But she was wise, and said
simply, "I came away this morning without enough money, and I have
those women at luncheon, you know."

"Of course.  Here!  I'll get it for you in a minute."  He rang a bell,
and pulling out a little check-book from a mass of papers, letters,
memoranda, that he carried in his pocket, wrote a check quickly with a
fountain pen as he stood.

"There, Miss Fair!"  He handed the check to the waiting stenographer.
"Get that cashed at the bank downstairs and give the money to Mrs.
Hart."

When the young woman, with an impersonal glance at the husband and
wife, had disappeared, the architect turned to Helen and pulled out his
watch.

"I may have to go to St. Louis to-night.  If you don't see me on the
five two, you'll know I have gone.  I'll be back to-morrow night,
anyway.  That's when we dine with the Crawfords, isn't it?"

His mind gave her only a superficial attention, and yet he seemed happy
in spite of the pressure of his affairs.  The intoxication of mere
activity, the excitement of "doing," so potent in our country, had got
its grip on him.  In his brown eyes there burned a fire of restless
thoughts, schemes, combinations, which he was testing in his brain all
his waking moments.  Yet he chatted courteously while they waited for
the stenographer to return.

"By the way," he remarked, "I telephoned Everett this morning, and he
says there's nothing in that story about their giving the university
the money.  He says Hollister knows uncle wouldn't have wanted it, and
Hollister is dead set against it."

"Judge Phillips and Mr. Pemberton were on the train with me this
morning, and they talked about it.  They don't seem altogether clear
what the trustees will do with the money.  I hope they won't do that.
It would be too bad."

"I should say so," Jackson assented warmly.

He accompanied his wife downstairs and bought her some violets from the
florist in the vestibule.  They parted at the street corner, for he was
already late in meeting an appointment.  She watched him until he was
swallowed up by the swift-flowing stream on the walk, her heart a
little sad.  He was admirable toward her in every way.  And yet--and
yet--she hated the bustle of the city that had caught up her husband
and set him turning in its titanic, heartless embrace.  There rose
before her the memory of those precious days on the sea when they had
begun to love, and in some inexplicable manner it seemed to her that
after these years of closest intimacy they were essentially farther
apart than then.

Being a sensible woman, however, she dismissed her transient
disagreement with life and presented to her guests a smiling, cordial
face.


Mrs. Horace Bushfield was already waiting for her in the foyer of the
hotel, where a number of suburban luncheon parties were assembling.
Presently the others came: Mrs. Rainbow, who was still toiling to
better heights of social prestige and regarded her acceptance of this
invitation as a concession to the fine arts; Mrs. Ollie Buchanan, a
young married woman, who was already a power on the St. Isidore
hospital board; the younger Mrs. Crawford and a guest of hers from out
of town; and Mrs. Freddie Stewart, the wife of Jackson's partner,--six
in all.  They were soon seated about a table, eating their oysters and
spying over the large dining-room for familiar faces.

"There's Betty Stuart over there," Mrs. Rainbow remarked, proud of the
ease with which she handled the nickname.  "My, how ill she looks!  You
know she had typhoid pneumonia in New York.  She looks as if she were
going to walk into her grave."

"Perhaps it wasn't just typhoid," Mrs. Bushfield added; "they tell
strange stories.  Her husband didn't go on once while she was ill."

"Couldn't get away, poor man!"

The two laughed, while Mrs. Buchanan looked at them coldly.

"Yes, this is the best restaurant we have," Mrs. Bushfield explained
apologetically to the guest from out of town.  "Chicago has miserable
hotels.  Wretched food, too.  You can't help it, my dear,"--she turned
good-humoredly to Helen, and then concluded with the comfortable
superiority of abuse,--"but Chicago is still a village."

Men and women were moving noiselessly to and fro over the thickly
carpeted floor that seemed to give off an odor of stale food.  The dull
red walls were already streaked here and there by soot, and the coarse
lace curtains at the windows had been washed to a dirty gray in
fruitless effort to make them clean.  Behind their folds on the
window-ledges there had gathered a thick sediment of ashes and coal
dust, and beneath this the white paint was smutched with soot.
Nevertheless, the ladies accustomed to the unconquerable dirt of the
city ate their luncheon undisturbed.

With the coming of the sweetbreads Mrs. Buchanan was saying
confidentially to Mrs. Rainbow:--

"She's quite done for herself, you know.  Mrs. Antony Crawford says
that she will not have her again at her house.  I should think that her
mother would take her away.  They say that Stanwood Phillips, too, has
disgraced himself at Yale--awfully fast.  But Venetia must be a perfect
little fool.  She might have had Stephen Lane."

"So might any girl who had money these ten years," Mrs. Freddie Stewart
remarked positively.

"Beast of a temper, that man.  I pity the girl he gets." ...

"I must tell you,--they were at the Ritz last summer when we were, and
positively they didn't know enough French to order their food.  Their
chauffeur used to take them about, and he would go anywhere he had a
mind to, you know.  Positively helpless.  So we took pity on them, you
know, and showed them things for a time."

On the other side of the table Mrs. Crawford's voice was raised in
protest to Helen.

"You can't shop in this place.  Steele's has got as bad as the rest.  I
go to New York for everything." ...

"Isn't Sembrich getting too fat to sing?" ...

"Who is that new tenor?  I heard him in London last spring.  He was
fine." ...

At last Helen ventured to say, "We should be starting, if we are to
hear the Leonore overture."

"Oh! bother the overture.  Let's stay here and talk until it's time for
Sembrich.  The rest of it is such a bore," Mrs. Rainbow protested,
nursing covetously her ice.

Finally the company got under way and proceeded to the concert hall,
much to Helen's relief.  She had no complaint to make of her guests,
who had been got together for Mrs. Stewart's pleasure.  They were quite
as intelligent women as she was, and all of them more important than
she in the sphere where they lived.  They were good wives, and two of
them good mothers.  Their talk, however, had seemed to her intolerably
petty and egotistical, reflecting a barren life of suburban gossip and
city sprees.  Their husbands, working furiously here in the resounding
city, maintained them in luxury for their relaxation and amusement, and
provided they kept on the broad avenues of married life cared little
how they spent their days.  In Steele's great store, and in a thousand
other stores and factories of the vast city, girls and women were
mechanically pounding their machines hour after hour.  The fine flower
of all their dead labor in life was the luxury of these women, who ate
and dressed, loved, married, and had children in idleness and ease....

The waiter came with the bill,--eighteen dollars and thirty cents, and
two dollars to the waiter who stood eying the tray.  Helen had been
rather ashamed, too, of the simplicity of the food.  She had not
offered them wine, which she knew Mrs. Crawford was used to having at
luncheon.  Jackson would have laughed at her economy or been irritated
by it.  They often entertained friends in this same restaurant after
the theatre, and she had seen the waiter carry off two twenty-dollar
bills and return with very little change.  It seemed to her plain
nature simply wicked to pay so much money--the blood of human
beings--merely to eat.  They paid, she knew, for the tarnished
ceilings, the heavy carpets, the service--all the infinite tawdry luxe
of modern life.

"And why not?" Jackson demanded impatiently when she protested.  "Don't
I make it?  If I want to spend it on champagne and crab-meat, why
shouldn't I?  I hustle hard enough to get it."

The argument was positive, but she felt that it was imperfect.  Yet all
their friends lived as they did, or even better: the bill for pleasure
with them all was a large one....

By the time they had reached Mrs. Phillips's box, which they were to
occupy, the concert was well advanced.  The massive chords of the
Tschaikowscy's symphony broke through the low chatter of the boxes.

"One of those bangy Russian things," Mrs. Rainbow whispered ruefully,
as she tugged at her wrap in fat helplessness.

Helen helped her to disengage her lace and then arranged the chairs for
her guests.  While the women opened their opera-glasses and took a
preliminary survey of the hall, she sank into the rear seat, pulled the
chenille portière half over her face, and closed her eyes.

That "bangy Russian thing" whipped her blood and sent strange pictures
flying through her head.  For the moment it loosed the cords that
seemed to bind her to a stake.  The heat and smell and twaddling voices
of the hotel dining-room faded away.  And in its place the divine music
filled her soul, transforming her from a weak and doubting woman, who
floated helplessly in her petty world of comforts, into some more
active, striving creature,--a maker and moulder of life!



CHAPTER XV

Jackson had lately bought a couple of hunters, and Sundays, when it was
good weather, Helen and he often went over to the club stables to see
the horses and the hounds.  It was a pleasant spot of a fine summer
morning.  The close-cropped turf rolled gently westward from the brow
of the hill on which the club-house stood to a large horizon of fields,
where a few isolated trees, branching loftily, rose against a clear
sky.  The stables were hidden in a little hollow some distance from the
house, and beyond them was a paddock where a yelping pack of hounds was
kennelled.  Close at hand some captive foxes crouched in their pen,
listening sharp-eyed and fearful to the noisy chorus of their enemies.

No sports of any kind were allowed on Sundays, for the community was
severely orthodox in regard to the observance of Sunday, as in other
merely moral matters.  But when the weather was good there were usually
to be found about the stables a number of young men and women,
preparing for tête-à-tête rides over the country roads or practising
jumps at the stone wall beside the paddock.  Later in the morning they
would stroll back to the club veranda for a cool drink, and gossip
until the church-going members returned from service, and it was time
to dress for luncheon.

Of the younger set Venetia Phillips was most often to be found down by
the stone wall on a Sunday morning.  She had come home from Europe this
last time handsome, tall, and fearless, thirsty for excitement of all
sorts, and had made much talk in the soberer circles of suburban
society.  She was a great lover of dogs and horses, and went about
followed by a troop of lolloping dogs--an immense bull presented by an
English admirer, and a wolf hound specially imported, being the leaders
of the pack.  She was one of the young women who still played golf now
that it was no longer fashionable, and on hot days she might be seen on
the links, her brown arms bare to the shoulders, and her blue black
hair hanging down her back in a flood.  She rode to all the hunts, not
excepting the early morning meets late in the season.  It was said,
also, that she drank too much champagne at the hunt dinners, and
occasionally allowed a degree of familiarity to her admirers that
shocked public opinion in a respectable and censorious society which
had found it hard to tolerate the mother.

Indeed, Mrs. Phillips could do nothing with her; she even confided her
troubles to Helen.  "My dear, the girl has had every chance over there
abroad;--we had the very best introductions.  She spoiled it all by her
idiocy.  Stanwood is making a fool of himself with a woman, too.  Enjoy
your children now, while you can spank them when they are naughty."

And Helen, although she had scant sympathy with the domestic
tribulations of the rich, was puzzled by the girl.  The friendship
between them, which had begun so prosperously over Pete's sick-bed, had
largely faded away.  The winter after their visits to Dr. Coburn's
laboratory Venetia had spent in a famous Eastern school, where Western
girls of her class were sent to acquire that finish of manner which is
still supposed to be the peculiar property of the older communities.
On her return she was no longer the impulsive girl that stared
wide-eyed at the eccentric doctor's opinions; there were reticencies in
her which the married woman could not overcome.  Since then their paths
had crossed more rarely, and when they met there was a certain teasing
bravado in Venetia's attitude which prevented intimacy.

Mrs. Buchanan's pungent gossip about the girl, and the widow's bitter
complaint of her daughter, rose to Helen's mind one Sunday as they
stood together at the stone wall by the club stables, watching Lane,
who was trying a new hunter.  Lane's temper was notoriously bad; the
Kentucky horse was raw and nervous; he refused the jump, almost
throwing his rider.  Lane, too conscious of the spectators, his vanity
touched, beat the horse savagely on the head.

"Low!" Venetia grumbled audibly, turning her back on the scene.
"Come!" she said to Helen, seizing her arm.  "Haven't you had enough of
brutes for one morning?  Come up to the club and have a talk.  That's
the man madam my mother would like to have me marry!  Do you suppose
he'd use the whip on his wife?"

"He has his good side, even if his temper is short," Helen objected, as
they strolled across the links toward the club-house.  "You might do
worse, Venetia."

"Quite the picture of a young girl's fancy!  Forty-eight, and he's
asked every eligible girl in the city to marry him, and they have all
shied.  So do I, though I wasn't in the running over there in
London--in spite of all the fuss the Chicago papers made about me, I
wasn't--you know Mrs. Phillips runs a regular press bureau!  But I am
not quite down to him yet."

They had the club veranda to themselves at that mid-morning hour.
Venetia flung herself into a chair and flicked the tips of her boots
with her whip.  The small Francis, who had followed his mother, tumbled
on the grass with the terrier Pete.  Now and then Pete, who was
privileged on Sundays, would hobble to the veranda and look at his
mistress.

"You wouldn't marry a man like that, now would you?  Well?  You want to
say something disagreeable, don't you!  You have had it on your
conscience for weeks.  I could see it in your eye the other afternoon
when you were with Mrs. Freddie Stewart--that nice little cat.  Come,
spit it out, as the boys say."

"Yes, I have had something on my mind."

"You don't like me now that I have grown up?"

"I thought we should be so much better friends," Helen admitted frankly.

"I am not the nice little girl you used to know when the doctor
entertained us and Pete with scientific conversation mixed with social
philosophy--that's what troubles you?"

"Why--why are you so different?"

"You mean, why do I smoke? drink champagne? and let men kiss me?"

She laughed at the look of consternation on Helen's face.

"That's what you mean, isn't it?  My sporting around generally, and
drinking too much wine at that dinner last fall, and supplying these
veranda tabbies with so much food for thought?  Why can't I be the
nice, sweet young woman you were before you were married?  A comfort to
Mrs. Phillips and an ornament to Forest Manor!"

"You needn't be all that, and yet strike a pleasanter note," the older
woman laughed back.

"My dear gray mouse, I'm lots worse than that.  Do you know where I was
the other night when mamma was in such a temper because I hadn't come
home, and telephoned all around to the neighbors?"

"At the Bascoms'?"

"Of course, all sweetly tucked up in bed.  Not a bit of it!  A lot of
us had dinner and went to see a show--that was all on the square.  But
afterward Teddy Stearns and I did the Clark Street levee, at one in the
morning, and quite by ourselves.  We saw heaps and heaps--it was very
informing--I could tell you such stories!  And it went all right until
Teddy, like a little fool, got into trouble at one of the places.  Some
one said something to me not quite refined, and Ted was just enough
elated to be on his dignity.  If we hadn't had an awful piece of luck,
there would have been a little paragraph in the papers the next
morning.  Wouldn't that have made a noise?"

"You little fool!" groaned Helen.

"Oh!  I don't know," Venetia continued imperturbably.  "Let me tell you
about it.  Just as I had hold of Ted and was trying to calm him down,
somebody hit him, and there was a general scrap.  Ted isn't so much of
a fool when he is all sober.  Just then a man grabbed me, and I found
myself on the street.  It was--  Well, no matter just now who it was.
Then the man went back for Ted, and after a time he got him, rather the
worse for his experience.  We had to send him to a hotel, and then my
rescuer saw me home to the Bascoms'.  My, what a talking he put up to
me on the way to the North Side!"

She waited to see what effect she had produced, but as Helen said
nothing she continued with a laugh:--

"I suppose you are thinking I am a regular little red devil.  But you
don't know what girls do.  I've seen a lot of girls all over.  And most
of 'em, if they travel in a certain class, do just as fool things as
that.  On the quiet, you understand, and most of them don't get into
trouble, either.  They marry all right in the end, and become quiet
little mammas like you, dear.  Sometimes, when they are silly, or weak,
or have bad luck, there's trouble.  Now, I am not talking loose, as Ted
would say.  I've known Baltimore girls, and New York girls, and
Philadelphia girls, and Boston girls,--and the Boston ones are the
worst ever!

"Why should the women be so different from the men, anyway?  They are
the same flesh and blood as their fathers and brothers, and other
girls' fathers and brothers, too....  Don't make that face at me!  I'm
nice enough, too, at least a little nice.  Didn't you ever sit here
evenings, or over at the Eversley Club, and watch the nice little
girls?  But perhaps you couldn't tell what it means when they do things
and say things.  You ought to get a few points from me or some other
girl who is next them.  We could tell you what they've been up to ever
since they left school, day by day."

The small Francis was rolling over and over on the green turf,
rejoicing in the freedom of soiling his white suit.  Beyond the polo
field a couple on horseback were passing slowly along the curving road
into the woods.  The cicadas sang their piercing August song among the
shrubs.  It was a drowsy, decorous scene.

"It isn't all like that," the older woman protested, looking out on the
pleasant landscape.  "You can choose what you will have."

"Do you think I should do any better if I chose your kind, my dear?"
Venetia asked quietly.  "Or my mother's?  Is Maida Rainbow's
conversation an improvement on Ted's?  It isn't any more grammatical.
And Mrs. Ollie Buchanan's talk is worse than mine.  Come now, dear
lady, tell me the truth!  After several winters by the suburban
fireside do you still find your heart beating warmly when hubbie plods
up the street at eve in his new auto?  Do you advise me to marry Mr.
Stephen Lane and transfer my activities to Breathett Lodge,--join the
tabby chorus, just to keep the tabbies quiet?  Is the married state of
all these people you and I know out here to be so much desired?"

"Most of the men and women you know here in Chicago are not bad."

"Oh, no!  They're good out here, most of 'em, and dull, damn dull.
They're afraid to take off their gloves for fear it isn't the correct
thing.  A lot of 'em aren't used to good clothes, like that Mrs.
Rainbow.  As uncle says, 'Our best people are religious and moral.'
But there's more going on than you dream of, gray mouse."

"You are too wise, Venetia."

"I'll tell you the reason why we sport.  We're dull, and we are looking
for some fun.  The men get all the excitement they need scrambling for
money.  Girls want to be sports, too, and they can't do the money act.
So they sport--otherwise.  That's the why."

She rapped the floor with her whip, and laughed at Helen's perplexity.

"I want to be a real sport, and know what men are like, really, when
they are off parade, as you nice women don't know 'em."

"Well, what are they like?"

"Some beasts, some cads, some good fellows," Venetia pronounced
definitively.  "Do you know why I let men kiss me sometimes?  To see if
they will, if that sort of thing is all they want of me.  And most of
'em do want just that, married or single.  When a man has the chance,
why, he goes back to the ape mighty quick."

She nodded sagely when Helen laughed at her air of wisdom, and she
continued undisturbed:--

"There are some of them now, coming up from the paddock.  They have had
their little Sunday stroll, and now they want a drink to make them feel
cool and comfy, and some conversation with the ladies.  We must trot
out our prettiest smiles and smoothest talk while they sit tight and
are amused."

"And so you think this is all, just these women and men you see here
and in other places like this?  And the millions and millions of others
who are trying to live decent lives, who work and struggle?"

"I talk of those I know, dearie.  What are the rest to me?  Just dull,
ordinary people you never meet except on the street or in the train.
We are the top of it all....  I don't care for books and all that sort
of thing, or for slumming and playing with the poor.  If you knew them,
too, I guess you'd find much the same little game going on down there."

"What a horrid world!"

"It is a bit empty," the girl yawned.  "I suppose the only thing, after
you have had your run, is to marry the decentest man you can find, who
won't get drunk, or spend your money, or beat you, and have a lot of
children.  Yours are awfully nice!  I'd like to have the kids without
the husband--only that would make such a row!"

"That would please your mother, to have you married."

"Oh, mother!  I suppose it would please her to have me marry Mr.
Stephen Lane," Venetia answered coldly.  "One doesn't talk about one's
mother, or I'd like to tell you a thing or two on that head.  She
needn't worry over me.  She's had her fun, and is taking what she can
get now."

The group of men and women drew near the club-house.  Jackson stopped
to speak to a man who had just driven up.  Venetia pointed to him
derisively.

"There!  See Jackie, your good man?  He's buzzing old Pemberton, that
crusty pillar of society, because he's got a little game to play with
him.  He's after old Pemby's vote for that school house.  You mustn't
look so haughty, dear wife.  It's your business, too, to be nice to
dear Mr. Pemberton.  I shall leave you when he comes up, so that you
can beguile him with your sweet ways.  It's money in thy husband's
purse, mouse, and hence in thy children's mouths.  Now if we women
could scramble for the dollars,--why, we shouldn't want other kinds of
mischief.  I'd like to be a big broker, like Rainbow, and handle deals,
and make the other fellows pay, pay, pay!"

She swung the small Francis over her head and tumbled him in the grass,
to the delight of Pete, who hobbled about his mistress, yelping with
joy.

There was something hard and final in the girl's summary of her
experience.  And yet in spite of the obvious injustice of her
accusations, Helen felt startled and ashamed before her railing.  After
all, was there such an infinite distance between the decent lives of
herself, her husband, and their friends and the heedless career of this
undisciplined girl?  Were they governed by finer ends than hers?
Vigorous, hot-blooded, and daring, Venetia would have battled among men
as an equal, and got from the fight for existence health, and sanity,
and joy.  As it was, she was rich enough to be protected in the
struggle for existence, and was tied down by the prejudices of her
class.  She was bottled passion!


The architect still held Pemberton in conversation on the drive, and
Venetia presently returned to Helen, smiling slyly into her face.

"That doctor man was an amusing chap, wasn't he?  I mean Dr. Coburn,
the one who mended up Pete when I was a young miss, and outraged mamma
by sending her a receipted bill for two hundred and fifty dollars.  He
asks about you still.  Why did you drop him?  I always thought that was
a bit queer in you, you know.  You liked him, but he wasn't your kind,
and you dropped him."

"Where have you seen him?" Helen asked evasively.

"Oh, here and there.  He writes me pretty often, too.  Why not?  He was
the man who helped me out of that scrape with Teddy.  Wouldn't Jackie
let you have anything to do with him?  Jack is an awful snob, you know."

"Francis didn't like him," Helen admitted a little sadly.  "I am afraid
I didn't make much of an effort either with him or with that poor Mr.
Hussey.  It's so hard to do some things, to know people you like when
they're out of your path."

Venetia scrutinized the older woman's face and laughed.

"Just so!  What did I tell you?"

"How is he?"

"Just as always,--poor, down at the heel and all over, an out-and-out
crank."

"How do you meet him?" Helen asked pointedly.

"Sometimes at his hang-out, as he calls it.  I've had supper there once
or twice with Molly Bascom.  You needn't be alarmed.  We talk science,
and he abuses doctors.  He trundled off to Paris or Vienna with that
queer machine of his, and got some encouragement over there.  You
should hear him talk about Europe!  Now he's crazy over some new bugs
he's found.  He may not make good from Jack's point of view.  But you
see that doesn't prevent me from liking him.  He has a great time
thinking all by himself.  He'd starve himself to death if he had to, to
do what he's after.  That's the real thing.  I offered him money once
to help him out."

"Venetia, not that!"

"Yes.  I said, 'See here, my friend, I've more of this than I want,'
which was a lie.  But I was willing to sell a horse or two.  'Help
yourself,' I said, 'and when I want it I'll ask you.'  I put a cardcase
I had with me on the table, stuffed of course.  He took it up, took out
what was in it, handed the money back, and dropped the case in a
drawer.  'None of that,' he said.  'I don't take money from a woman.'
I was glad afterward that he didn't take it, though I don't know
why--he looked specially hard up.  I suppose I might have done it a
nicer way, but I thought he would understand and treat me like a little
girl, as he always has....  Well, here comes Jack at last."

She gave the architect a hand, which he shook with mock impressiveness.

"How do, Jackie!  I've been teaching your domestic angel a thing or
two."

"I guess you can't corrupt her."

It was evident that she and Jackson understood each other very well.



CHAPTER XVI

Season shifted into season, and meanwhile an impalpable veil of
difference was falling between the architect and his wife.  The
peaceful days of winter, early spring, and late autumn were precious to
the woman--days when the silent processes of nature touched her senses
softly, and she could live undisturbed by calls and dinners with their
array of familiar faces.  Then she heard the birds in the trees behind
the house, and listened to the rustling of the tall poplars beneath her
windows, and watched the vivid colors of the lake.  This harmony of
nature, this great enveloping organism of peace, she was beginning to
feel, was all that life held for her,--nature and her children, whose
wants she fulfilled.  Yet ever in the background, not far away, there
hung in the horizon that black cloud above the city, which could not
wholly be shut out in any revery of country peace.  For with it she and
her children were linked by all the cords of modern life.

She had felt the sly reproach in Venetia's references to Dr. Coburn.
The seedy doctor had drawn her strongly, and yet in the face of her
husband's contemptuous indifference to him she had made but one or two
feeble attempts to reach him.  A few times, also, she had visited the
bookbinder's sickly wife, and after the birth of little Francis had
revived the class in bookbinding.  Jackson had fitted up a studio for
the class out of an old teahouse on the bluff, where during mild
weather they received their friends in æsthetic informality.  But the
class had soon dwindled, the young married women of whom it was
composed flitting to other pursuits, and the taciturn bookbinder taking
offence at a fancied slight suddenly ceased his visits.  Some weeks
later when Helen called at the Husseys' rooms to see the wife, she
found that they had moved away, and having written Dr. Coburn for their
address without success, she had made no further attempt to find them.

Thus ended her efforts to reach that world which lay outside her own
circle.  More and more, as her married life went on, she had succumbed
to the _milieu_ that her husband had chosen.  As his struggle for
success grew hotter, she, too, in her way, had been absorbed into it,
and had become the domestic and social satellite which he needed in his
relations with rich clients.  And so Venetia's careless defence of
herself pricked her.  Was there, after all, anything more admirable in
the decent life that she and her husband led with its little circle of
selfish activities than in the crude outbreaks of Venetia Phillips
which had caused so much perturbation in Forest Park?  They were not
vicious to be sure,--the people she lived with; they were merely dull
and negative.


One of these brooding days shortly after the talk on the club veranda,
Helen set forth to a neighbor's with a bundle of books and some flowers
for Mrs. Buchanan, who was giving a dinner that evening.  She had
reached the point in the winding road where a long bridge crossed a
deep ravine on the level with the topmost branches of lofty trees.  At
the other end of the bridge a man was standing looking down into the
green depths below.  He was so much absorbed in the ravine that he did
not hear the woman's steps as she drew near.  When she passed behind
him, he glanced up with a startled look in his black eyes, and grasping
the bicycle by his side was moving off.

"Don't you remember me, Mr. Hussey?" Helen asked, holding out her hand.
"How are you?  I am so glad to see you again.  Did you ride out all the
way from the city?  We don't see many bicycles these days."

She poured forth her little flood of amiable sentences, while the
bookbinder stood quietly holding his wheel.

"Yes," he answered slowly, when she paused.  "I rode out on my wheel.
I wanted to see how the country looked."

He paused and then continued: "Yes, I've been out of the city
considerable after my wife died.  I went West, to Kansas City.  But I
came back.  I'm used to this place.  My woman died here, and the child,
too."

"I tried to find you after the class broke up," Helen explained.  "I
wanted to get your wife to come out here and visit me."

"That was nice and kind of you," he answered dryly.

"I have an errand a little way from here.  Won't you go with me and
then come back to the house?" she persisted, piqued by his tone.

"Thank you, I don't believe I will.  It's time I was starting back to
the city."

"You had better rest awhile first."

"I ain't particularly tired.  You are very good.  What do you want me
to come for?" he asked abruptly, and then continued to speak as if he
were talking to himself: "You and I ain't the same kind of folks.  We
are placed different on this earth, and there's no getting away from
the fact.  It's best for us both to keep where we belong."

"Nonsense!" she retorted.

"As I have looked about among folks," he went on calmly, "I've seen
that's the best way, in the long run--for the rich and the poor to keep
to themselves.  That's why you didn't see nothing of me after the
ladies got tired of binding books.  Not that I've got anything against
those better fortuned than me.  It's just the way things are made to
run.  So long as the present order lasts, man is divided from man--and
that's all there is to it.  The only use the poor man has for the rich
man is to get work from him and some pay for it.  The only use the rich
man has for the poor man is to get his work done.  And they'd better do
their business apart, as far apart as they can."

"My husband isn't rich.  We have to struggle, too."

Hussey smiled sceptically.

"I had all I could do when the woman was living to keep a decent room
or two, and find enough to eat.  There's some difference between us,
ain't there?  And I don't speak like you, and maybe I eat different at
the table."

"That's all very important," Helen laughed.

"It's the little things that separate, not the big ones.  You look
around your own kind of folks and see if that's not so.  It's just the
silly scraps of ways that keep man from man."

"Well, it's too good a day to quarrel about that.  At least, you and I
can both enjoy those trees down there."

A victoria came toward them at a lively trot, making the wooden
planking resound.  The lady in the carriage leaned forward and bowed to
Helen, and then cast a second, longer glance at her companion.

"She's wanting to know who that man is you're talking to," Hussey
remarked ironically.  "No, them trees and the country in general ain't
the same to me and you.  You folks squat right out here and buy up all
the land you can lay your hands on, at least all that can be got at
easily from the city.  Perhaps, though, some day it will be different,
and the beautiful parts of the country will be kept for all to have."

They began to cross the bridge, and Helen holding the man in talk wiled
him as far as her own gate, with an unreasoning determination to make
him come into her house.

"I suppose I ought to take that bundle there," Hussey observed as they
walked, pointing to the parcel that Helen held in her hand.

"It's nothing."

"I notice that don't make any difference among your kind.  Your men
folks may let their women suffer in other ways, but they fetch and
carry for you in public."

"Yes--that's so," Helen laughed.

"That bundle ain't nothing for you to carry.  You wouldn't have started
out with it if it had been.  It's the same way about giving a woman a
seat in a car.  If she looks as if she needed it, why a humane man
would give her his seat the same as he would to a tired man.  But most
times the man needs it more."

"You wouldn't have wanted your wife to stand?"

"Well, she weren't never real well, not after the child came."

He spoke more gently, and added without any polite delicacy, "There
must have been something wrong happened then, for she got up weak, and
couldn't bear children no more."

"You miss her!"

"Yes, sometimes, when work's plenty, and I feel strong, and there's
something for her to live for.  Most times I think it's just as well
she's gone.  And the child, too," he added softly.  "You see it ain't
as it is with you, with a working-man and his wife.  They don't have so
much love and notions, maybe.  That don't stand long after the first
weeks.  The man's got to work and the woman, too.  If she's a
pretty-looking girl when he marries her, sweet and fresh, them looks
don't last long.  It's like anything you use all the time.  There's no
chance to lay it by and let it freshen up.  Now you and my wife were
about of an age, I judge.  But she looked to be the mother of you,
before she died.  You are as pretty as you ever was or more so, and men
would court you to-day if you were single.  It wasn't so with my woman,
and I did the best I could for her, too.  Don't you suppose a
working-man hates to see his wife grow old, through hard work and no
chance to freshen up?  He mayn't be as nice in his tastes as your sort,
but he don't like to see his wife wear out."

Romantic love, so he seemed to hold, was one of the luxuries of the
expensive classes.  While he was talking they passed into the driveway
and came to the house.  Hussey finally got to the veranda, where he sat
stiffly on the edge of a large steamer chair, holding his derby hat in
his two hands.  After a time he deposited the hat on the floor and
gradually slipped into the comfortable depths of the chair and talked
on more freely.

There was nothing new or wise in the bookbinder's talk.  Yet certain
things that he said, furtive, flame-like words of revolt which
contained half truths, sank into Helen's receptive mind: "Man pays
pretty high for his civilization, as he calls it, and what does he get
for it?  The police station and the fire department."  "The Bible says
that man must be born again.  Yes--that's so!  With a new kind of belly
that knows when it's had enough."  "The labor question always comes
down to cutting the pie: because a man with one kind of a brain can
think faster than his neighbor, ought he to get a bigger slice?  Does
he need it to make him think?"

There was a vein of character in the man himself, a passionate faith in
a vision of society other than that which holds to-day.  His talk was
not vindictive, or greedy, or envious, but he assumed calmly that the
present state of society was wasteful and unjust, and that already,
here and there, men and women were beginning to wake from the
individualistic nightmare and were ready to try an altogether new
manner of living together.

"I get tired," he said in answer to a platitude that Helen made,
"hearing what some folks are kind enough to do for society--how
necessary they are to make it run.  Don't you believe it, not for one
second!  If we could take account of stock in some way, and find out
just what mere brains are good for and how much they do in gettin' food
and clothes and shelter, I guess we'd put brains lower down.  And
what's more, if the only way you can get the best work out of smart men
is to let them hog it, then human nature must be a pretty poor sort of
outfit, and we'd better all starve.  But the best workmen I've known
didn't work because they had to: it was in 'em from the beginning of
time to work better than the others."

The boys came home presently from a children's party at a neighbor's.
They were dressed very prettily in white, with large collars of absurd
shape and size.  They wore neat little leather yachting caps with the
names of men-of-war gaudily embossed in gold cord about the rims.

"They're healthy-looking chaps," Hussey observed as each one politely
gave him a hand.  "That's what rich folks can do for their children, if
they've got good blood in 'em to start with.  You can buy them the
proper food and put them in cool, big rooms, and plant 'em out here in
the country."

"Yes, I am on a committee of women that has charge of a country home,"
Helen answered idly.

"Charity?"  He pronounced the word ironically.  "Well, I must be
starting.  It will be dark before I get halfway to the city."

He rose and took a long look at the blue lake.

"This'll have to last me some time.  It's been mighty pleasant sitting
here on your piazza and jawing away about these big things, Mrs. Hart."

"You'd better come again, then."

"Well, maybe I'll be riding out this way sometime.  But you remember
what I said about mixing!  You stick to your side of the fence, and
I'll try to stick to mine."

"Suppose I'm not altogether content with my side?"

"I guess you'll have to grin and bear it.  I don't reckon to spend much
time pitying you.  It looks to me rather pretty on your side."

As they were shaking hands, the chug of an automobile could be heard in
the roadway.

"That must be my husband!" Helen exclaimed.  "Won't you wait a minute
and see him?"

The heavy, lumbering machine with its ugly fat wheels rolled up the
driveway, and after a final heave and sigh came to a stand before the
veranda.  The driver leaped down and opened the little door in the rear
for his master to descend.  The architect was smoking a cigar and
carried in his arms a heavy bag of papers and books.

"Hello, Nell!" he called cheerily, and then looked inquiringly at the
man beside her.

"Francis, this is Mr. Hussey.  You remember Mr. Hussey who gave us
lessons in bookbinding?"

"How do you do?"  The architect greeted Hussey with a pleasant nod.
"Very glad to see you again."

He held out his free hand in the simple, cordial fashion that made him
popular in his office and with the foremen on his buildings.  He always
made a point of being genial with working people.  He got more out of
them that way and often avoided friction.  He usually carried about
with him a handful of black and strong cigars, which he dealt out on
the slightest occasion.

"Sit down again, won't you?" he remarked.  "Have a cigar?"

He pulled out one of the proper variety from his inner pocket.

"I don't smoke," the bookbinder replied shortly.

He made no further remark, and the architect, also, found himself at
the end of his cordiality.  Helen realized that the two men had nothing
whatsoever to talk about.  Jackson could have discussed bindings in a
dilettante fashion, meaning certain rich and costly specimens of the
art that wealthy amateurs bought and locked up in cabinets, but he knew
nothing about the ordinary trade.

"Mr. Hussey rode out from the city on a bicycle," Helen explained.  "I
met him on the bridge and induced him to come up here and rest for a
little while."

"Yes, it's hot," Jackson answered.  "Fearfully hot on the train from
Indianapolis this morning.  I haven't been cool all day until Fred let
out the machine coming over from the station."

Hussey looked at the lumbering automobile sighing to itself below the
veranda, and then at the chauffeur, who was waiting for orders.

"Good day," he said abruptly.  "It's some longer to the city on a wheel
than in one of them affairs."

Helen walked down the steps with her guest in a vague desire to be
cordial.  He mounted his wheel, and bending his little body over the
frame, pedalled swiftly out of the driveway.  Helen watched him for a
moment, feeling that he would not call again, as she hoped he might.
He had merely wandered their way this bright summer day like a chance
stranger from some vast outer world,--a world that perpetually teased
her spirit.

"What is he, Nell?  Socialist or anarchist?" Jackson called out
good-humoredly, when his wife returned to the veranda.

It was one of his jokes that his wife dabbled in socialism.

"I wish he would have stayed to dinner."

"But we're going out."

"Yes, I know.  But he wouldn't have stayed anyway."

Her husband looked at her inquiringly, yet he was not sufficiently
interested in Mr. Hussey to frame a question.  He poured himself a
glass of water, drank it, and when he set the glass down, the
bookbinder had been washed into complete oblivion.

"Come!  It must be time to dress," he said briskly.



CHAPTER XVII

The Harts were to dine at the Elisha Stewarts' that evening, and the
architect had considered this engagement of sufficient importance to
bring him back to Chicago all the way from Indianapolis.  Elisha
Stewart had made his money many years ago, when he commanded a vessel
on the lakes, by getting control of valuable ore properties.  The
Elisha Stewarts had lived in Shoreham for nearly a generation, and were
much considered,--very good people, indeed.  Their rambling,
old-fashioned white house, with a square cupola projecting from the
roof, was one of the village landmarks.  The place was surrounded by a
grove of firs set out by Elisha himself when he built the house.

It was a large dinner, and most of the guests, who were of the older
set, were already assembled in the long drawing-room when Helen and
Jackson arrived.  The people in the room were all talking very
earnestly about a common topic.

"It's the Crawfords," Mrs. Stewart murmured asthmatically into Helen's
ear.  "You know they find his affairs in such a frightful tangle.  They
say there won't be much left."

"Indeed!" Jackson exclaimed sympathetically.

"Anthony wasn't all right, not fit for business for more than a year
before he died," Colonel Raymond was saying to the group.  "And he
snarled things up pretty well by what I hear."

"That slide in copper last March must have squeezed him."

"Squeezed?  I should say it did."

"It wasn't only copper."

"No, no, it wasn't only copper," assented several men.

Among the women, the more personal application of the fact was openly
made.

"Poor old Anthony!  It must have troubled him to know there wasn't one
of his family who could look out for himself.  Morris was a pleasant
fellow, but after he got out of Harvard he never seemed to do much.  It
will come hard on Linda."

"What has the youngest boy been up to lately?"

"The same thing, I guess."

"I heard he'd been doing better since he went on the ranch."

"He couldn't get into much trouble out there."

"Isn't there anything left?"

"Oh, the widow will have a little.  But the in-laws will have to hunt
jobs.  One is out in California, isn't he?"

The company did not seem able to get away from the topic.  Even after
they went out to dinner, it echoed to and fro around the table.

"I say it's a shame, a crime!" Mr. Buchanan pronounced with confident
earnestness.  "A man with that sort of family has no right to engage in
speculative enterprises without settling a proper sum on his family
first.  There's his eldest daughter married to an invalid, his youngest
daughter engaged to be married to a parson, and neither of his sons
showing any business ability."

"That's a fact, Oliver," Mr. Stewart nodded.  "But you know Anthony
always loved deep water."

"And now it's his family who have got to swim in it."

"He was a most generous man," Pemberton remarked in a milder tone.  "I
hardly know of a man who's done more first and last for this town, and
no one ever had to ask twice for his help in any public enterprise."

"Seems to have looked after other people's affairs better'n his own.
It's a pity now the boys weren't brought up to business."

"That isn't the way nowadays.  He was always ready for a gamble, and
she didn't want her sons in the business."

From time to time there were feeble efforts to move the talk out of the
rut in which it had become fixed.  But the minds of most of those about
the table were fascinated by the spectacle of ruin so closely presented
to them.  The picture of a solid, worldly estate crumbling before their
eyes stirred their deepest emotions.  For the moment it crowded out
that other great topic of the new strike in the building trades.  Every
one at the table held substantially the same views on both these
matters, but the ruin of the Crawford fortune was more immediately
dramatic than the evils of unionism.

"When are you fellows going to start that school, Pemberton?" some one
asked at last.

"Not until these strikes let up, and there's no telling when that will
be.  If these labor unions only keep on long enough, they will succeed
in killing every sort of enterprise."

"Yes, they're ruining business."

Then Pemberton, who was seated next to Helen, remarked to her:--

"You will be glad to know, Mrs. Hart, that the trustees have decided
not to hand the work over to any institution, at least for the present."

"I am so glad of that," she replied.

"That's about as far as we have got."

Sensitively alive to her former blunder in expressing her wish that her
husband might draw the plans for the school, she took this as a hint,
and dropped the subject altogether, although she had a dozen questions
on the tip of her tongue.

She noticed that Jackson, who was seated between Mrs. Stewart and Mrs.
Phillips, was drinking a good deal of champagne.  She thought that he
was finding the dinner as intolerably dull as she found it, for he
rarely drank champagne.  When the women gathered in the drawing-room
for coffee, the topic of the Crawfords' disaster had reached the
anecdotal stage.

"Poor Linda!  Do you remember how she hated Chicago?  She's been living
at Cannes this season, hasn't she?  I suppose she'll come straight home
now.  Does she own that place in the Berkshires?"

"No, everything was in his name."

"He was one of the kind who would keep everything in his own hands."

"Even that ranch doesn't belong to Ted, I hear."

"My, what a tragedy it is!"

There seemed to be no end to the talk about the lost money.  Helen sat
limply in her chair.  The leaden dulness of the dinner-talk, the dead
propriety and conventionality of the service, the dishes, the guests,
had never before so whelmed her spirit as they did to-night.  These
good people were stung into unusual animation because a man had died
leaving his family not poor, but within sight of poverty.  For poverty
is the deadliest spectre to haunt the merchant class at their lying
down and at their uprising.

When the men came in, murmuring among themselves fragments of the same
topic, Helen felt as though she might shriek out or laugh hysterically,
and as soon as she could she clutched her husband, just as he was
sitting down beside Mrs. Pemberton.

"Take me away, Francis.  It's awful," she whispered.

"What's the matter?" he asked in quick concern.  "Don't you feel well?"

"Yes, yes, I am all right.  No, I am tired.  My head aches.  Can't we
leave?  I shall do something silly--come!"

As they got into their carriage, he demanded, "What was the matter?"

"Nothing,--just the awful dulness of it,--such people,--such talk,
talk, talk about poor Mr. Crawford's money!"

"I thought the crowd was all right," he grumbled.  "The best out
here--what was the matter?  Your nerves must be wrong."

"Yes, my nerves are wrong," she assented.

Then they were silent, and from the heat, fatigue, and champagne he
relapsed into a doze on the way home.  But when they reached the house
he woke up briskly enough and began to talk of the dinner again:--

"Nell, Mrs. Phillips was speaking to me to-night about Venetia.  She's
worried to death over the girl.  The men say pretty rough things about
her, you know.  Little fool!  She'd better marry Lane if he wants her
still, and keep quiet."

"Like mother, like daughter," Helen replied dryly.  "And of the two I
prefer the daughter."

"What makes you say that?  Louise is all right; just likes to have her
hand squeezed now and then."

"Phew!" Helen exclaimed impatiently.

There was something so short and hard in his wife's voice that Jackson
looked at her in surprise.  They went to their dressing-room; now that
he had got his eyes open once more he made no haste to go to bed.
There was something he wanted to say to his wife which needed delicate
phrasing.  He lit a cigarette and leaned back against the open window,
through which the night air was drawing gently.  After a little time he
remarked:--

"The judge was talking some about the school.  They are getting ready
to build as soon as the strikes are settled.  Has Everett said anything
to you about it?"

"Not lately.  I haven't seen him since we were at the Buchanans'.  Why?"

"Why!  I am counting on Everett, and the last time I saw him he seemed
to me to be side-stepping.  I've seen Pemberton once or twice, but he
always avoids the subject.  I asked him point-blank to-night what their
plans were, and he said the papers had everything that had been
settled.  He's a stiff one!  I saw you were talking to him.  Did he say
anything about the school?"

Helen, who had been moving about the room here and there, preparing to
undress, suddenly stood quite still.  The memory of her remark to
Pemberton that morning on the train swept over her again, coloring her
cheeks.  She answered the question after a moment of hesitation:--

"Yes, he spoke about their not giving the money to the university, but
that was all.  And I didn't like to ask questions."

"Oh!" Jackson murmured in a disappointed tone.  "You might have drawn
him out.  He's likely to have a good deal to say about what is done.
The judge is down on me, never liked me since I built for
Louise--thinks I stuck her, I suppose.  Wasn't his money, though.
Hollister is on the fence; he'll do what Everett tells him.  It rests
with Pemberton, mostly."

Helen turned toward where he was standing and asked swiftly, "Why do
you want them to give it to you so much?"

"Why?"  The architect opened his mouth in astonishment.  "Don't you
know the size of the thing?  They're going to spend a million or more
on the school, put up one large building or several smaller ones.  It's
a chance that doesn't come every week to do a great public building."

She had begun to unhook her dress, and her nervous fingers tangled the
lace about the hooks.  Jackson, seeing her predicament, put down his
cigarette and stepped forward to help her.  But she swerved away from
him unconsciously, tugging at the lace until it broke loose from the
hook.

"Francis!" she exclaimed, with a kind of solemnity.  "You would not do
it for money, just like any ordinary building?"

"And why not?" he asked, puzzled.  "Am I drawing plans for fun these
days?  I'll tell you what, Nell, I need the money, and I need it badly.
Something must turn up, and right away.  Since the strikes began there
hasn't been much new business coming into the office, of course, and it
costs us a lot to live as we do.  That's plain enough."

"We can live differently.  I've often thought it would be better if we
did, too."

"But I don't want to live differently.  That's nonsense!"

They were silent for a little while before their unfinished thoughts.
He broke the silence first:--

"Perhaps I ought to tell you that I've been caught in an--investment,
some stocks I bought.  A friend of mine advised me, a broker who is in
with Rainbow.  But the thing went wrong.  I don't believe those fellows
know as much as the man outside.  Well, instead of making a good thing
by it, I must find ten or twelve thousand dollars, and find it mighty
quick.  Now if I get this commission, I can borrow the money all right.
I know who will let me have it.  And then by the end of the year it
will straighten out.  And the next time I go to buy stocks, well--"

"But that building--the school?" Helen interrupted.  She pulled a thin
dressing-sack over her shoulders and sat down on the edge of the bed,
looking breathlessly into his face.  What he had said about his losses
in the stock market had made no impression on her.  "That work is uncle
Powers's gift, his legacy to the people.  You can't do it just to make
money out of it!"

"Why not?" he demanded shortly, and then added, with a dry little
laugh: "I should say that building rather than any other.  I'd like to
pick up a few crumbs from the old man's cake.  It's only common
justice, seeing he did me out of all the rest."

She stared at him with bewildered eyes.  Perhaps she was not a very
quick woman, if after five years of daily contact with her husband she
did not know his nature.  But the conceptions she had cherished of him
were too deep to be effaced at once.  She could not even yet understand
what he meant.

"'Did you out of all the rest'?" she queried in a low voice.

"Yes!" he exclaimed hardily.  "And I think the trustees should take it
into consideration that I didn't contest the will when I had the best
kind of case and could have given them no end of trouble.  I was a fool
to knuckle under so quickly.  I might at least have had an agreement
with them about this matter."

"So," she said, "you want to build the school to make up what you think
uncle should have given you?"

"You needn't put it just like that.  But I need every cent I can make.
The bigger the building, the better for me.  And I can do it as well
for them as anybody.  They're probably thinking of having a
competition, and asking in a lot of fellows from New York and Boston.
They ought to keep it in this city, anyway, and then the only man I'd
hate to run up against would be Wright.  He's got some mighty clever
new men in his office."

He talked on as he stripped off his coat and waistcoat and hung them
neatly on the clothes-tree, permitting her to see all the consideration
he had given to his chances for securing this big commission.
Evidently he had been turning it over and over in his mind, and he was
desperately nervous lest he might lose what he had counted on having
all along ever since his marriage.  He refrained from telling his wife
that he felt she had seconded him feebly in this matter; for she knew
the judge, and Pemberton, and Everett, too, a great deal better than he
did.  They had always paid her rather marked attention.

Helen said nothing.  There was nothing in her surprised and grieved
heart to be said.  For the first time she saw clearly what manner of
man her husband was.  She knew how he felt about his uncle.  He was
vindictive about him, and seemed to welcome this job as a chance to get
even with the old man for slighting him in his will.  For some reason
unknown to her he had not tried at the time of his death to break his
will and show his ingratitude, and now he regretted that he had
displayed so much forbearance.

This sudden sight of the nakedness of the man she loved dulled her
heart so that she could not view the thing simply.  It was impossible
for her to see that there was nothing very dreadful in her husband's
attitude, nothing more than a little ordinary human selfishness,
sharpened by that admirable system of civilized self-interest which our
philosophers and statesmen so delight to praise.  She had been dreaming
that her husband might have the honor to design this great building as
a testimonial, a monument of gratitude, to the man who had succored his
youth, who had given him his education!  Her sentiment turned rancid in
her heart.

"Now if Everett or the judge should say anything to you, give you a
chance, you know what it means to me," Jackson remarked finally, as he
put his boots outside the door for the man to get in the morning.  He
had meant to say more than this, to point out to her in detail the
service she could do them both.  Something in her manner, however,
restrained him, and he contented himself with this final hint.

But Helen had stepped back into the dressing-room and did not hear him.
When she returned her husband was already in bed, and his eyelids were
closed in sleep.  She placed herself beside him and turned out the
light.

She lay there a long, long time, her open eyes staring upward into the
darkness, her arms stretched straight beside her, as she used to lie
when she was a little child, and her nurse had told her to be good and
not to stir.  Something strange had happened that day, something
impalpable, unnamable, yet true, and of enormous importance to the
woman.  The man who lay there beside her, her husband, the indivisible
part of her, had been suddenly cut from her soul, and was once more his
own flesh--some alien piece of clay, and ever so to be.

She did not cry or moan.  She was too much stunned.  All the little
petty manifestations of character, unobserved through those five years
of marriage, were suddenly numbered and revealed to her.  It was not a
question of blame.  They declared themselves to her as finalities, just
as if she had suddenly discovered that her husband had four toes
instead of five.  He was of his kind, and she was of her kind.  Being
what she was, she could no longer worship him, being what he was.  And
her nature craved the privilege of worship.  That thin, colorless
protestantism of her fathers had faded into a nameless moralism.  She
had no Christ before whom she could pour her adoration and love.
Instead, she had taken to herself a man; and now the clay of his being
was crumbling in her hands....

Outside the room the lake began to clamor on the sands beneath the
bluff.  It called her by its insistent moan.  She rose from the bed and
stepped out upon the little balcony that looked eastward from their
room.  The warm night was filled with a damp mist that swathed the tree
trunks to their branches and covered the slow-moving waves of the lake.
Through this earth fog there was moving a current from some distant
point, touching the sleeping town.

All the unquiet feelings that latterly had been rising in her
soul--Venetia's bold challenge, Hussey's harsh words, her own
dissatisfaction with the empty life of getting and spending--now
hardened into judgment.  The poor bookbinder was right: it was useless,
perhaps, to mix the two orders of life,--those that labor for mere
living and those that labor for luxury.  But here in the superb
indifference of nature she knew herself to be kin with him, the man of
the people, the common man, whose lot it was to labor for his scanty
bread.  Surely a new order of the world was to be born, wherein the
glory of life should not be for the ferocious self-seekers, wherein all
that was fine in man should not be tainted with greed!

She held her arms out to the mist, vaguely, blindly, demanding some
compensation for living, some justification that she knew not of.  And
there in the vigil of the misty night the woman was born.  From a soft,
yielding, dreaming, feminine thing, there was born a new
soul--definite, hard, and precise in its judgment of men and life....

In the house behind her slept her husband and her two boys,--her
children and his.  But only in the words of the sentimentalists are
children a sufficient joy to woman's heart.  Loving as she was by
nature, nevertheless she asked more of God than her two boys, whose
little lives no longer clung to hers by the bonds of extreme infancy.
They were growing to become men; they, too, like her husband, would
descend into the market for the game which all men play.  The fear of
it gripped her heart.

And at last she wept, miserably, for the forlorn wreck of her worship,
longing for the glorious man she had once adored.


The next morning she said to her husband:--

"Francis, I want to go back to the city this winter."

"Well--there's time to think of it--you may change your mind by the
fall."

She said no more, but the first step in her new life had been taken.



CHAPTER XVIII

Everett Wheeler could hardly be reckoned as a man of sentiment.  Yet in
the matter of selecting an architect for the new school he stood out
persistently against the wishes of Pemberton and Judge Phillips, with
but one sentimental argument,--the Powers Jackson trustees must give
the commission for building the great school to the nephew of the
founder, without holding a competitive trial of any sort.

"It's only square," he insisted.  "Jackson was disappointed about the
will.  He had some grounds for feeling badly used, too.  He might have
made us a good deal of trouble at the time, and he didn't."

"Powers would think it queer to pass him by," Hollister urged also,
"seeing he gave the boy a first-class education to be an architect.
And he's a hustling, progressive fellow from all I hear.  I must say I
admire the way he's settled into the collar since his uncle died.  Why
shouldn't we give him this boost?"

These remarks were made at one of the many informal meetings of the
trustees, which were held almost daily now that the plans for the
school were shaping themselves toward action.  Pemberton, with whom the
others happened to be taking their luncheon, glanced sharply at
Wheeler.  Although not given to suspecting his neighbors of indirect
motives, Pemberton understood Wheeler well enough to know that when the
lawyer fell back upon sentiment there must be another motive in the
background.  The close relationship between the men was not sufficient
to account wholly for the cold lawyer's unexpected zeal in behalf of
the young architect.  Everett Wheeler was not one to be moved by family
ties.  Pemberton had not forgotten Mrs. Hart's sudden interest in this
commission, which he had attributed to an unwise eagerness for her
husband's profit.  It occurred to him now that he had once heard in
past years of Everett Wheeler's devotion to Nellie Spellman.

"I can't see that it follows that we should put this plum into his
mouth," the judge remarked testily.  "If Powers had wanted to give the
chap any more money, he would have left it to him.  You must excuse me,
Everett, for speaking my mind about your cousin; but, frankly, I don't
altogether like the fellow.  He's too smooth, too easy with all the
world."

"That's all right, judge.  I'm not urging him because he's my cousin.
But we know why you are down on him," Wheeler answered, with a smile.
"He did let your sister-in-law in for a good deal."

"Well, it isn't just that.  Of course he was beginning then, and wanted
to make his first job as big as possible--that's natural enough.  And I
guess Louise--  Well, it's her affair.  She manages her own property,
and I wouldn't let her spend any of the children's money.  But I don't
like Hart's methods.  Raymond was telling me the other day how he
worked him for that railroad job--through--through a woman.  I suppose
it's all right; the man must get business where he can.  It's hard for
youngsters to make a living these days.  But to get a woman to pull off
a thing like that for you!  And Raymond told me they had to drop him,
too--he didn't do the work economically, or something of the sort."

"I guess there's another story to that, perhaps," Wheeler answered
patiently.  "Jack wasn't willing to let Bushfield make all he wanted to
off the contracts.  I happen to know that.  And I don't see why you
should have it in for him because he got a lady to say a good word for
him with Raymond.  You know well enough that pretty nearly all the big
commissions for public buildings in this city have gone by
favor,--family or social or political pull.  It's got to be so.  You're
bound to think that the man you know is bigger than the other fellow
you don't know."

"That is not a good reason, Mr. Wheeler, why we should do the same
thing in this case," Pemberton objected stiffly.  "It would have been
well for American architecture if it had happened less often.  The
proper way in the case of all public buildings is to hold an open
competition."

"Well, we won't argue that question.  But this is a special case.  Here
is a man who happens to be a nephew of the founder, who knows more of
our plans than any other architect, naturally, and can give us pretty
much all his attention.  He'll push the work faster."

"We can wait," Pemberton still demurred.  "There is no need for undue
haste."

"No, no, John," Judge Phillips protested.  "I am getting to be an old
man.  I want to see the school started and feel that my duty's done.
We've thrashed this out long enough.  Let us try Hart and be done with
it."

Pemberton had been added to their number at the suggestion of the
judge, because of his well-known public spirit and his interest in
educational and philanthropic enterprises.  He had undertaken his
duties with his accustomed energy and conscientiousness, and at times
wearied even the judge with his scruples.  The others had rather hazy
ideas as to the exact form, educationally, that the large fund in their
charge should assume.  Wheeler concerned himself mainly with the
financial side of the trust.  Hollister, who had got his education in a
country school, and Judge Phillips, who was a graduate of a small
college, merely insisted that the school should be "practical," with
"no nonsense."  After they had rejected the plan of handing over the
bequest to a university, Pemberton had formed the idea of founding a
technological school, modelled closely after certain famous Eastern
institutions.  This conception Helen had somewhat disturbed by her talk
with him, in which she had vigorously presented the founder's
democratic ideas on education.  Her views had set him to thinking on
the problem once more, and he had discussed the matter with the
intimate friends of the founder, seeking to discover the old man's real
purpose in his benefaction.

In his perplexity Pemberton had gone East to see the president of a
university, of which he was one of the trustees, and there he had met a
professor in the scientific department, one Dr. Everest, a clever
organizer of educational enterprises.  Dr. Everest did not find it
difficult to convince the puzzled trustee that his dilemma was an
imaginary one, that all warring ideals of education might be easily
"harmonized" by a little judicious "adjustment."  There should be some
domestic science for the girls, manual training combined with technical
and commercial courses for the boys, and all would be right, especially
if the proper man were employed to mix these ingredients.  In brief,
the doctor came to Chicago at the invitation of the trustees, looked
over the ground, and spoke at several public dinners on the "ideals of
modern education."  His eloquent denunciation of a "mediæval"
education, his plea for a business education for a business people, and
especially his alert air and urbane manners convinced the trustees that
they had found a treasure.  Dr. Everest was invited to become the head
of the new school, which was to be called the JACKSON INDUSTRIAL
INSTITUTE.

Hart attended one of the dinners where the new director spoke, and
afterward engaged Dr. Everest in a long conversation about the new
school.  They found themselves agreed that it ought to be housed
"monumentally," whatever happened.  Later, Dr. Everest spoke warmly to
Pemberton of the intelligent young architect, whom he understood might
be asked to design the building.  His views, he said, were
"progressive" and "inspiring," and Jackson praised the director warmly
to his wife; but Helen, who had read all his utterances in the papers,
felt that the clever doctor, however much of an "educator" he might be,
knew absolutely nothing about the one class in the community he had
been engaged to work for.  His ideas about education were strictly
those of the merchant class, the only class in America that the "higher
education" concerned itself with.

However all that might be, Dr. Everest's good word, more than Wheeler's
persistency, prevailed against Pemberton's prejudices.  The architect
was in a fair way of winning the long-coveted prize.


When Everett Wheeler had finally obtained the consent of his associates
to ask the architect to meet the trustees and the new director and
discuss plans for the building, the lawyer was so pleased that he broke
an engagement for dinner, and took the train to Forest Park instead.
He might have telephoned the architect at his office, but, sluggish as
he was temperamentally, he had long promised himself the pleasure of
telling Helen personally the good news.  Of late she had not seemed
wholly happy, and he supposed that there were money troubles in the
household which would now be relieved.

He found a number of people in the studio on the bluff, and sat down
patiently to wait.  It had been a warm day, and the men and women were
lounging comfortably on the grass mats, gossiping and enjoying the cool
air from the lake.  Jackson was in high spirits, telling Irish stories,
a social gift which he had recently cultivated.  Wheeler found himself
near Venetia Phillips, who was nursing a sprained elbow, the result of
being pitched against a fence by a vicious horse.

"Why don't you go over there and try your charms on Helen?" she asked
Wheeler peevishly.  "She's been out of sorts all this summer.  When you
see the solemn way good married women take their happiness, it doesn't
encourage you to try your luck and be good.  I wonder if she and Jackie
scrap?  She looks as if she had a very dull life."

"Are you thinking of trying your chances?" the lawyer asked with a
heavy attempt at the flippant tone.  "You ought to have let me know."

"Do you mean that as an offer?  Does it lead up to anything?"

"I'll put it in legal form, if you will give me the chance."

"Should I consent to be bored with one Everett Wheeler, a lawyer,
specially successful in making bad corporations, something of a
politician, not yet fifty, no known vices, easy with women?  Is that
the question?"

"You flatter me."

"Wait a moment.  I want a good man--a blue-ribbon, high-geared saint;
or something equally clever of the other kind.  Are you good enough?"

"Well, I guess I could pass with the rest."

"That's the trouble.  You are just about up to the average of the
crowd.  You wouldn't steal, and you wouldn't run away with any one's
wife.  You're too knowing; it wouldn't pay."

"You're right there!"

"And if I get into trouble any time, you're just the man I'd go to.
You wouldn't make remarks of a moral nature, and you would know how to
squeeze me through a little hole.  But you wouldn't do to marry."

"Oh, I don't know--I'd be easy."

"Too tolerant--that's the trouble."

"You are a wise young woman."

"Yes, I'm very wise about men.  I'm going to write a book about men I
have known well.  It will be read, too.  Do you want to go in?"

"Well, let's drop me.  What about Helen and Jack?  What's the matter?"

"I can't make out exactly.  Unsatisfied aspirations, or something of
the sort.  I should guess that our Jackson doesn't come up to
specifications.  She sighs for the larger world.  Did you ever meet a
chap who used to give lessons in binding paper books?  That was some
years ago, when earnest ladies were all trying to do something with
their hands to revive the arts and crafts.  His name was Hussey.  He
was a poor, thin little man, with a wife dying from consumption or
something of the sort.  I have always thought Helen wanted to run away
with Mr. Hussey, but couldn't get up her courage.  They used to talk
socialism and anarchy and strikes until the air was red, so Maida told
me.  It was sport to see him and Jackson get together.  Jack would
offer him a cigar,--the bad kind he keeps for the men on his buildings.
Hussey would turn him down, and then Helen would ask the bookbinder to
luncheon or dinner, and that would give Jack a fit.  But Hussey
wouldn't stay.  He had ideas about the masses not mixing with the
classes until the millennium comes.  Helen would argue with him, but it
was no use.  He thought nothing was on the square.  Well, one day he
got huffy about something Jack said, so Maida says, and went off and
never turned up again at the class.  Helen tried to find him; I don't
think she ever got over it.  And only the other day she ran across him
again, Jack told me.  I believe that Hussey was the man for her.  She
is another unsatisfied soul.  I am going now, and you had better try to
cheer her up."

It was beyond the lawyer's power, however, to penetrate Helen's mood.
She seemed curiously removed from the scene.  The banter and talk of
the people on the veranda passed over her unheeded; while her eyes
rested dreamily on the trees, among which the summer twilight was
stealing.  To rouse her attention, Wheeler brought forth his news.

"I came out here to tell you something, Nell," he said.

"What is it?" she asked indifferently.

"Jack is going to build the school.  It has just been decided to-day."

She gave a little start, as though his words brought her back to the
present, but she said nothing.

"The trustees have come around to it at last.  You know Pemberton and
the judge wanted a public competition, or something of the kind."

"Why don't they have a competition?" she asked quickly.  And aroused
suddenly, with nervous animation, as if she resented the suggestion of
a special favor, she continued, "It would be much fairer to have an
open competition!"

"Why should we?  Isn't Jack the old man's nephew?"

She made no reply, and he said nothing more, dampened by the way she
took his splendid news.  In a little while the others left and they had
dinner.  Wheeler expected Helen would tell her husband of the decision,
but she seemed to have forgotten it.  So, finally, he was forced to
repeat his announcement.  He dropped it casually and coldly:--

"Well, Jack, we're getting that school business cleared up.  Can you
meet the trustees and the doctor at my office some day this week?"

Jackson bubbled over with glee.

"Hoorah!" he shouted.  "Good for you, Everett!  We must have up some
champagne."

The lawyer, watching Helen's impassive face, felt inclined to moderate
Jackson's enthusiasm.

"Of course, nothing's settled as to the commission.  You'll be asked to
prepare sketches after you have consulted with Dr. Everest.  That's
all."

That was enough for the architect.  He thought that he could satisfy
the director, and if he succeeded with him, the rest of the way was
clear.  When the champagne came, he pressed his thanks on his cousin.

"It's awfully good of you, Everett.  I know all the trouble you have
taken for me in this matter.  You'll have to let me build that camp in
the Adirondacks this fall.  My heavens!" he went on, too excited to be
cautious, "you don't know what a load it takes off my shoulders!  I can
feel myself free once more.  It's a big thing, the first big thing
that's come my way since I began.  How much do the trustees mean to put
into the building?"

"That depends," the lawyer answered cautiously.  "It will be over half
a million, anyway, I should suppose--maybe nearer a million."

"It's a great opportunity!" the architect exclaimed, conscious that the
more elevated and ideal aspects of the subject were slipping out of
sight.  "It doesn't come every day, the chance to build a monument like
the school."

"You're quite right," Wheeler assented.

In his excitement, Hart left his seat and began to pace the floor, his
hands twisting his napkin nervously.  Meanwhile Helen was watching the
bubbles break in her champagne glass.  Her face had remained utterly
blank, although she seemed to be listening to her husband.  Perhaps,
thought the lawyer, she did not realize what this news meant.  So he
remarked deliberately:--

"It's a big commission, fast enough, if you get it, and there's no
reason why you shouldn't have it.  I don't know of another young fellow
in your line in this city who's had the same chance to make his
reputation at one stroke."

Even this did not rouse the wife to speech.  A flush stole over her
face at the lawyer's words; but her eyes remained buried in the
champagne glass, which she twirled gently between her fingers, thus
keeping up the effervescence.  Jackson was jubilant enough for two.

"Dr. Everest and I were talking about the site the other day," he said.
"You have only two blocks.  There should be four, at least.  You must
give dignity to the main building by some kind of approach.  The thing
should be done in stone, if possible.  But if that's too costly, we
might try a glazed tile; you can get very good effects in that.  But
stone, of course, is the proper thing."

"You may find the judge and Pemberton pretty stubborn on matters of
detail," Wheeler remarked cautiously.

But the architect flirted his napkin buoyantly.  He had dealt with
building committees before, and he had found that trustees usually took
their duties lightly.

"Well, what do you think of it, Nell?" the lawyer asked finally.

"Oh!  I?"  She looked up blankly from the glass of wine.  "It is a
great chance, of course."

This joyless attitude, unremarked by her husband, caused Wheeler to
suspect that there were deeper troubles in this household than money
worries.

After a little more talk in which Helen did not take part the lawyer
left to take his train for the city, and Jackson walked to the station
with him.  When he returned he found Helen still sitting at the empty
table.  His eyes were aflame with the golden light of opportunity.  He
put his hand over his wife's shoulder and pressed her cheek
affectionately.

"It's great, isn't it, Nell?" he said.

She looked up into his face with a wistful smile.  The good news had
changed him wonderfully, even in this brief hour, erasing already some
lines from his face.  It seemed as if his nature was not one to grow
strong in the storms of life, but needed, rather, the warmth of
prosperity.

"It's great, isn't it?" he repeated, desiring to savor the good fortune
with her.

"Yes, Francis," she replied slowly, and added almost pleadingly, "and
you must do it greatly."

"Of course," he assented cheerily.  "It'll be the best yet--don't you
worry!"



CHAPTER XIX

About six miles from the centre of the city on the South Side, not far
from the lake, might be seen the foundations and first two stories of a
considerable building that had been abandoned for several years.  It
was to have been a hotel, but its promoters, who were small capitalists
from a distant city, had been caught in the real estate disasters of
'93.  Litigation ensuing among themselves, nothing had ever been done
with the property.  The unfinished walls, standing at the corner of one
of the boulevards and overlooking a large park, were a landmark in the
neighborhood.  A thick growth of weeds partially covered the loose
piles of brick and stone that littered the ground and filled the hollow
shell.  Desolate, speedily disintegrating, the ruin stood there, four
windowless walls, a figure of unsubstantial and abortive enterprise.

Hart had often passed the ruin when his business called him to that
part of the city.  One day this summer, as he was driving through the
park with Graves on his way to inspect the last string of cheap stone
houses that the contractor had built, Graves called his attention to
the place.

"That pile must be pretty well covered with tax liens," the contractor
observed, as they turned into the boulevard and approached the ruin.
"It's a sightly piece of property, too, and the right spot for a family
hotel."

"Who are the owners?" Hart asked.

"A lot of little fellers out in Omaha; they got to fightin' among
themselves.  It might be had cheap.  Let's go over and take a look at
the place."

He hitched his horse to a tree in front of the ruin, and the two men
pushed their way through the weeds and rubbish into the cellar.

"Pretty solid foundations," the contractor observed, picking at a piece
of mortar with the blade of his clasp knife.  "There's most enough
stone lying around here to trim the whole building.  What do you think
of the walls?  Has the frost eat into 'em much?"

They scrambled in and out among the piers and first story walls,
testing the mortar, scraping away the weeds here and there to get a
closer view of the joints.  The upper courses of the brick had been
left exposed to the weather and were obviously crumbling.  The
architect thought that the outer walls might have to be rebuilt almost
from the foundations.  But the contractor observed that it would be
sufficient to rip off half a dozen courses of the masonry, as the walls
were needlessly thick.

"Those fellers thought they were going to build a jim-dandy Waldorf,
judging from the amount of stone they were putting in," the contractor
remarked, as they climbed into the buggy and resumed their way to the
city.  "I guess it wouldn't be much of a risk to buy up the tax rights.
The land and material would be worth it."

"I should say so," the architect assented, seeing how the matter was
shaping itself in his companion's mind.

"Those foundations would take a pretty big building, eight or ten
stories."

"Easily."

They talked it over on their way back to the city.  The contractor had
already formed a plan for utilizing the property.  He had in mind the
organization of a construction company, which would pay him for
building the hotel with its bonds, and give him a large bonus of stock
besides.  The architect was familiar with that method of finance.  The
hotel when finished would be rented to another company for operation,
and by that time the contractor and his friends would have disposed of
their stock and bonds.

"You must let me in on this," Jackson said boldly, as they neared the
city.  "I'm getting sick of doing your dinky instalment-plan suburban
villas and getting nothing out of it.  I want to make some money, and
this scheme looks pretty good."

"There's no reason why you shouldn't make something, too," the
contractor answered readily.  "You might interest some of your rich
friends in the company, and get a block of stock for yourself."

Hart had a pressing need of ready money rather than such dubious
promoter's profits.  Rainbow and Harris had not pushed him to pay the
balance against him on their books, but their leniency would not extend
beyond the first of the month.  Then, if he could not get the money in
some other way, he should have to go to his mother, or take the little
legacy that his uncle had left Helen.  That very day he had had it in
his mind to ask the contractor to let him have twelve thousand dollars
on his note, which would get him out of his immediate difficulties.  He
could pay it with the first return from the school commission, on which
he was reckoning.

But when Graves described the hotel project, he resolved to wait a
little longer, in the hope that somehow he might make more than enough
to pay his debts.  What he needed was some capital.  It was to obtain
this independent capital that he had ventured with the broker.  Why had
he not had the wit to see the chance that lay in that old ruin and use
it on his own account?  For the last five years many men that he knew
had been making fortunes, while he was working hard for precarious
wages.  No matter what he might earn in his profession, he could never
feel at ease, have enough for his ambitions.  He saw that his fees from
the practice of architecture would never satisfy him.  He must have
capital,--money that would breed money independently of his exertions.
Latterly his mind had turned much about this one desire.

"You'll want me to draw the plans for the hotel, I suppose?" he asked
the contractor.

"Yes, you might get up some sketches for a ten-story building right
away--something to show the men I want to interest in the scheme,"
Graves answered promptly.  "When you have 'em ready, come around and
we'll see if we can't fix up some kind of deal."

It was evident that the contractor had gone much farther in the hotel
matter than he had told Hart.  Probably he had already taken measures
to get control of the abandoned property and had his corporation
organized.


At this point Jackson learned from Everett that the trustees were ready
to ask him for preliminary sketches for the school, and almost at the
same time he received a polite note from the brokers calling his
attention to his debt.  He went at once to Graves's office and asked
the contractor for the loan, saying that he was to have the school and
should be put to extraordinary expenses in his office for the next few
months.  The contractor let him have the money readily enough on his
personal note.  Graves did not speak of the hotel, and for the moment
the school had driven all else from the architect's mind.  He was kept
busy these days by consultations with the trustees and the director of
the school, getting their ideas about the building.  One morning the
newspapers had an item, saying that "F. J. Hart, the prominent young
architect, nephew of the late Powers Jackson, had received the
commission for building the new Jackson Institute, and was engaged in
drawing plans for a magnificent structure, which in luxury and
completeness would outrank any similar institution in the country."
Before noon that same day Hart received a curt message from Judge
Phillips to call at his office, and foreseeing trouble with the
trustees about the newspaper paragraph, he went scowling into the
draughting-room.

"Some of you boys must have been talking loose about what's going on in
this office," he said accusingly.

"The Tribune man had the story straight enough when he came in here,"
Cook replied in defence.  "He must have got it from some one who knew
what he was talking about."

Hart went over to the judge's office and tried to explain matters to
the old gentleman, who, besides having a great dislike of "newspaper
talk," felt that the trustees were being deliberately coerced into
giving their commission to this pushing young man.  The architect was
forced to swallow some peppery remarks about indelicate methods of
securing business.  When he left the judge, who was only half convinced
of his sincerity, he went to see Graves, and vented his irritation on
the contractor.

"You let things leak out of your office.  You got me into hot water by
giving out that story about the school."

"How so?  It's straight, ain't it?  You've got the building?  You said
so the other day when you came in here to borrow that money."

"It amounts to the same thing, though it hasn't been formally settled.
They are touchy enough about their old job.  They've asked me to
prepare the first sketches--that's all so far."

"Oh!  That's all, is it?" the contractor remarked coldly.  "I thought
you had the job in your inside pocket from the way you talked the other
day."

Hart's face reddened and he stammered:--

"It's all right.  They are sure to take me, only they are a little
slow, and I don't want to seem to force them."

Graves continued to examine the man before him with his shrewd little
eyes, and Hart realized that the contractor had given the news to the
papers for the precise purpose of finding out where the trustees stood.

"Well, when you get ready to build the school I expect we shall be
doing a good deal of business together," Graves remarked tentatively.

The architect moved back in his chair, more comfortable at the change
in the conversation.

"I shall want you to bid, of course.  But I don't know yet whether the
trustees mean to let the contract as a whole."

"They'll do pretty much what you say, won't they?  Ain't one of them
your cousin?"

"Yes."

"Well, I want that contract.  Can't you fix it so's I can get it?"

Hart knew altogether too well what the contractor meant by this blunt
request.  An architect has it in his power to draw his specifications
in such a manner that only a few favored contractors will dare to bid.
If outsiders venture to bid for the work, they cannot with safety go
low enough to get the contract.  In the case of a large building this
is a more difficult manoeuvre to manage than with less important work.
Yet even with a building of the importance of the projected school,
contractors would be chary of bidding against a man who was as closely
identified with the architect as Graves was with Hart.

"They say now," Hart protested, "that nobody else gets a show in my
office."

"I don't believe you see what there might be in this for you, Mr.
Hart," the contractor persisted, without replying directly to the
architect's objection.

A stenographer interrupted them at this point, and the architect had a
few moments to think while Graves was engaged.  He knew better than any
one else the devious methods of the contractor, and it had already
occurred to him that this would be a good opportunity to sever his
close connection with the Graves Construction Company.  He would, of
course, allow Graves to bid on the school contracts, but would show him
no favors.  Yet the contractor's last words made him reflect.  There
was the hotel with its unknown possibilities of large returns.
Moreover, the Graves Construction Company was no longer the weak
enterprise that it had been five years before.  Graves had made a great
deal of money these last prosperous years, and his "corporation" was
one of the largest of its kind in the city.  It would be stupid to
break with the man altogether.

"Come, this ain't quiet enough here.  Let's step over to Burke's and
talk it out," the contractor suggested, looking up from the papers the
stenographer had brought in.

So the two men went across the street to Burke's, which was a quiet
sort of drinking-place, frequented by the better class of sporting men.
In the rear there were a number of little rooms, where whispered
conversations intended for but two pairs of ears were often held.  When
the negro attendant had wiped the mahogany table and brought them their
whiskey, Graves began:--

"Mr. Hart, I'm going to give you the chance of your life to make a lump
of money, sure and quick, and no gold-brick proposition, either."

Graves poured himself a drink, and meditatively twirled the small glass
between his fat fingers before he explained himself.

"You do the right thing by me in this school job, and I'll see that you
are properly fixed on the hotel scheme."

The details of the plan came cautiously and slowly from the contractor,
while Hart listened in a non-committal frame of mind.  The thing
proposed was really very simple.  The architect was to draw the school
specifications so that only a few firms would bid, and of these only
one or two would be genuine competitors.  The contractor would see to
it that there were enough bidders at approximately his own figure to
prevent suspicion on the part of the trustees.  In return for this
favor, Graves offered a large block of stock in the hotel company, "for
doing the plans of the hotel," which he was ready to guarantee would be
worth a certain sum.

Of course there was an unspecified item in the transaction, which was
perfectly obvious to the architect.  If the contractor was ready to
make these terms in order to obtain the school, there must be enough in
the job above the legitimate profit on the contract to make it well
worth his while.  The architect saw, less sharply, that this extra
profit would be made, more or less, with his professional connivance.
It would be impossible to get the trustees to accept bids so high that
the contractor could reap his profit and still do the work up to the
specifications.  It would be necessary to specify needlessly elaborate
steel work, cut stone, and interior finish, with the understanding that
the Graves Company would not be forced to live up to these gilt-edged
specifications.  It might be necessary, even, to prepare two sets of
specifications for the more important parts of the contract,--one for
the bidding, and one for the use of the subcontractors,--although that
would be dangerous.

Hart smoked and listened, while Graves, having outlined his plan, spoke
of the profit to the architect.

"If you want, I'll agree to take the hotel stock off your hands at par
from time to time as the two buildings go up.  You can figure out now
what you'll make.  It will not be far from seventy thousand dollars,
what with your commissions and the stock.  And I'll guarantee, Hart,
that you'll have no trouble.  That drunken Dutchman can work over any
details that have to be fixed--my own expense.  Nothing need go through
your office that ain't first-class and regular."

The plan seemed perfectly simple, and the architect's imagination
fastened on the big bait which the contractor held out.  Graves
repeated slowly in his thick tones:--

"A year, or say eighteen months, from now, you'll have about
seventy-five thousand dollars in the bank."

That would be capital!  The lack of capital had tripped him at every
turn.  With that amount of money, he could plant his feet firmly on the
earth and prepare to spring still higher.

"Of course," Graves continued, "you'd stand by me--help me out with the
trustees if there was any kick."

In other words, for the term of a year or eighteen months he would be
this contractor's creature.  But the architect was thinking of
something else....

The line between what is honest and dishonest in business is a
difficult one to plot.  From generation to generation standards alter
in the business world as elsewhere, and to-day men will do
unblushingly, and with the approval of their fellows, that which in
another generation will, doubtless, become a penitentiary offence.
Business is warfare, and whatever men may say on Sundays, the hardy man
of business will condone a thrifty sin of competition sooner than any
other sin.  Every one of the fighters in the battle knows how hard it
is to make a dollar honestly or dishonestly, and he prefers to call
certain acts "indelicate" or "unprofessional," rather than dishonest.

Of such "unprofessional" conduct Hart had been guilty a number of
times, and the matter had not troubled him greatly.  But this
arrangement, which the contractor was urging, was of more positive
stripe.  Although it was not clear how close a connivance with fraud
would be necessary, it might involve outright rascality, which, if it
became known in the community, would ruin his professional standing for
life.  He would be taking a great risk to grasp that promised lump of
money.  While Graves talked in his thick, guttural tones, Hart was
weighing this risk.  The whiskey that he had been drinking had not
obscured his vision in the least, although it shed a rosier glow over
the desired capital.  It must be admitted that the architect gave
little consideration to the trustees or to his uncle's bequest.  It
would have pleased him, if he had thought much about it, to make a good
round hole in his uncle's millions, of which the old man had deprived
him.  And as for the trustees, they were shrewd men of the world, quite
able to take care of themselves.

But, instinctively, he recoiled from the act.  He would much prefer a
clean, honorable, "high-class" career.  If he could have secured money
enough to satisfy his ambitions, to lead the kind of life he liked,
without resort to such knavery as this, it would have been much
pleasanter.  But in one way or another he must make money, and make it
more rapidly and more abundantly than he had been doing.  That was
success.  When he had come to this point, he had already consented with
himself....

They had been sitting there nearly two hours, but latterly little had
been said.  The contractor was patient and diplomatic.  Finally he
asked, "Well, Hart, what do you say?"

Hart lighted another cigar before speaking, and then replied
deliberately: "I will think over what you say.  I understand that the
stock is given me instead of my regular commission on the hotel, and
will be worth a fixed sum?"

"That's it!"

Then they went out into the street without further words.  Hart
returned to his office, examined his mail, wrapped up his first
sketches for the school, and set out for the train.  The deal with
Graves unconsciously filled his mind and made him feel strange to
himself.  Yet he thought less of the practical detail of the
transaction than of certain specious considerations concerning the
morality of what he was going to do.

Business was war, he said to himself again and again, and in this war
only the little fellows had to be strictly honest.  The big ones, those
that governed the world, stole, lied, cheated their fellows openly in
the market.  The Bushfields took their rake-off; the Rainbows were the
financial pimps, who fattened on the vices of the great industrial
leaders.  Colonel Raymond might discharge a man on his road who stole
fifty cents or was seen to enter a bucket shop, but in the
reorganization of the Michigan Northern ten years previously, he and
his friends had pocketed several millions of dollars, and had won the
lawsuits brought against them by the defrauded stockholders.

It was a world of graft, the architect judged cynically.  Old Powers
Jackson, it was said in Chicago, would cheat the glass eye out of his
best friend in a deal.  He, too, would follow in the path of the
strong, and take what was within his reach.  He would climb hardily to
the top, and then who cared?  That gospel of strenuous effort, which
our statesmen and orators are so fond of shouting forth, has its
followers in the little Jackson Harts.  Only, in putting forth their
strong right arms, they often thrust them into their neighbors'
pockets.  And the irresponsible great ones, who have emerged beyond the
reign of law, have their disciples in all the strata of society,--down,
down to the boy who plays the races with the cash in his employer's
till.

The architect went home to his wife and children with the honest love
that he bore them.  If they had entered his mind in connection with
this day's experience, he would have believed that largely for their
sakes, for their advancement in the social scheme of things, he had
engaged upon a toilsome and disagreeable task.  For he did not like
slippery ways.



CHAPTER XX

Hart's design for the school had finally been accepted by the trustees,
and the plans were placed on exhibition in the Art Institute.  Little
knots of people--students, draughtsmen, and young architects--gathered
in the room on the second floor, where the elevations had been hung,
and had their say about the plans.  Occasionally a few older men and
women, interested in the nobler aspects of civic life, drifted into the
room, having stolen some moments from their busy days to see what the
architect had done with his great opportunity.

"Gee!  Ain't it a hummer, now!" exclaimed one of Wright's men, who had
known Hart in the old days.  "He's let himself out this time, sure.  It
will cover most two blocks."

"The main part of the design is straight from the Hotel de Ville," one
of the young architects objected disdainfully.  He and his friends
thought there were many better architects in the city than F. Jackson
Hart, and grumbled accordingly.  "I bet I could find every line in the
design from some French thing or other.  Hart's an awful thief; he
can't think for himself."

"Where is the purpose of the structure expressed?" another demanded
severely.  "It would do just as well for the administration building of
a fair as for a school!"

"A voluptuous and ornamental design; the space is wickedly wasted in
mere display.  The money that ought to go into education will be eaten
up in this pretentious, flaunting building that will cover all the
land." ...

"What have I been telling you?" commented an admiring citizen to his
neighbor.  "Chicago ain't a village any more.  A few buildings like
this and the university ones, and the world will begin to see what we
are doing out here!"

"What's the dome for?" ...

"I say the people should have the best there is."

"Pull, pull--that's what's written all over this plan!  The architect
was some sort of relation to the man who gave the school, wasn't he?"


Even Wright, who happened to be in the city, stepped into the Institute
to look at the plans.  He studied them closely for a few minutes, and
then, with a smile on his face, moved off.

Hart had, indeed, "let himself out."  It was to be a master work, and
by its achievement raise him at once into the higher ranks of his
profession.  For the first time he had felt perfectly free to create.
As often happens, when the artist comes to this desired point and looks
into his soul, he finds nothing there.  The design was splendid, in a
sense--very large and imposing: an imperial flight of steps, a lofty
dome which fastened the spectator's eyes, and two sweeping wings to
support the central mass.  Nevertheless, the architect had not escaped
from his training; it was another one of the Beaux Arts exercises that
Wright used to "trim."  Years hence the expert would assign it to its
proper place in the imitative period of our arts, as surely as the
literary expert has already placed there the poet Longfellow.  Though
Hart had learned much in the past six years, it had been chiefly in the
mechanics of his art: he was a cleverer architect, but a more wooden
artist.  For the years he had spent in the workshop of the great city
had deadened his sense of beauty.  The clamor and excitement and gross
delight of living had numbed his sense of the fine, the noble, the
restrained.  He had never had time to think, only to contrive, and
facility had supplied the want of ideas.  Thus he had forgotten Beauty,
and been content to live without that constant inner vision of her
which deadens bodily hunger and feeds the soul of the artist.

So Wright read the dead soul beneath the ambitious design.


Mrs. Phillips came rustling in with friends, to whom she exhibited the
plans with an air of ownership in the architect.

"It's the cleverest thing that has been done in this city; every one
says so.  I tell Harrison that he has me to thank for this.  It was a
case of poetic justice, too.  You know the story?  One forgets so
easily here; it's hard to remember who died last month.  Why, the old
man Jackson left pretty nearly every cent of his money to found this
school.  I think he was crazy, and I should have fought the will if I
had been a relative.  At any rate, it was a nasty joke on this Mr.
Hart, who was his nephew and every one thought would be his heir.

"But he has made such a plucky fight, got the respect of every one,
gone right along, and succeeded splendidly in his profession.  He
married foolishly, too.  Poor girl, not a cent, and not the kind to
help him one bit, you know,--no style, can't say a word for herself.
She's done a good deal to keep him back, but he has managed to survive
even that.  I wonder he hasn't broken with her.  I do, really!  They
haven't a thing in common.  They had a pleasant home out in the Park,
you know, and a good position--every one knew them there.  He is the
kind to make friends everywhere.  And what do you think?  She made him
give up his house and come into town to live!  The Park was too far
away from her friends, or something of the sort--wanted to educate her
children in the city, and all that.  I believe it was jealousy of him.
He was popular, and she wasn't.  No woman will stand that sort of
thing, of course.

"So now they have taken a house on Scott Street,--a little,
uncomfortable box, the kind of place that is all hall and dining-room.
Of course they don't have to live like that; he's making money.  But
she says she doesn't want to be bothered--has ideas about simple
living.  The trouble is, she hasn't any ambition, and he's brimful of
it.  He could get anywhere if it weren't for her.  It's a shame!  I
don't believe she half appreciates even this.  Isn't it splendid?  He
has such large ideas!

"Venetia is thick with her, of course.  You might know she would be.
It's through Mrs. Hart she meets those queer, tacky people.  I tell
you, the woman counts much more than the man when it comes to making
your way in the world; don't you think so?" ...

And with further words of praise for the plans and commiseration for
the architect, the widow wandered into the next room with her friends,
then descended to her carriage, dismissing art and life together in the
prospect of dinner.


Helen made a point of taking the boys to see their father's work, and
explained carefully to them what it all meant.  They followed her
open-eyed, tracing with their little fingers the main features of the
design as she pointed them out, and saying over the hard names.  It was
there Venetia Phillips found her, seated before the large sketch of the
south elevation, dreaming, while the boys, their lesson finished, had
slipped into the next room to look at the pictures.

"Have you seen my mother?" she asked breathlessly, seating herself
beside Helen.  "I brought Dr. Coburn, and we almost ran into Mrs.
Phillips the first thing.  So I dodged into the Greek room and left him
there to study anatomy.  She had that horrid Rainbow woman with her and
would have been nasty to the doctor.  Mother is such a splendid snob!"
she explained frankly.

"Well, well, our Jackie has done himself proud this time, hasn't he?
He's a little given to the splurge, though, don't you think?"

Helen did not answer.  She did not like to admit even to herself that
her husband's greatest effort was a failure.  Yet she was a terribly
honest woman, and there was no glow in her heart.  Indeed, the school
and all about it had become unpleasant to her, covered as it was with
sordid memories of her husband's efforts to get the work.  Latterly
there had been added to these the almost daily bickerings with the
trustees, which the architect reported.  The plans had not been
accepted easily.

"All the same, Jack's got some good advertising out of it," Venetia
continued encouragingly, noticing Helen's silence.  "The newspapers are
throwing him polite remarks, I see.  But I want to talk to you about
something else.  Mamma has been losing a lot of money; bad investments
made in boom times; sure things, you know, like copper and steel.
She's very much pressed, and she wants to put my money up to save some
of the stocks.  Uncle Harry is raging, and wants me to promise him not
to let her have a cent.  Stanwood has come home--there doesn't seem to
be anything else for him to do.  It's all rather nasty.  I don't know
what to say about the money; it seems low to hold your mother up in her
second youth.  And yet the pace Mrs. Phillips keeps would finish my
money pretty soon.  It's a pity Mrs. Raymond won't die and give mother
a chance to make a good finish."

"Venetia!"

"What's the harm in my saying what all the world that knows us is
saying?  It's been a ten years' piece of gossip.  I feel sorry for her,
too.  It must be rough to get along in life and see you have muckered
your game....  Do you know, I am terribly tempted to let her have the
money, all of it, and skip out myself.  Perhaps some of these days
you'll read a little paragraph in the morning paper,--'Mysterious
Disappearance of a Well-known Young Society Woman.'  Wouldn't that be
original?  Just to drop out of everything and take to the road!"

"What would you do?"

"Anything, everything--make a living.  Don't you think I could do
that?" She embroidered this theme fancifully for a time and then lapsed
into silence.  Finally she burst forth again: "Good Lord, why can't we
get hold of life before it's too late?  It's going on all around
us,--big, and rich, and full of blood.  And folks like you and me sit
on the bank, eating a picnic lunch."

"Perhaps," mused Helen, "it would be different if one had to earn the
lunch."

"Who knows?  Will you try it?  Will you cut loose from Jackie?"

A rather sad smile crossed the older woman's face, and Venetia seizing
her arm impulsively gave it a little squeeze.  Just then Coburn
strolled into the room with the boys, whom he had found in the
corridor, and nodding abruptly toward Helen, stood before the plans,
studying them with his sharp, black eyes.  His little ironical smile
hung on his parted lips.  Turning to Venetia, he said good-humoredly:--

"Thinks he's doing something, don't he, Venetia?"

Helen rose and called the boys.

"A building is just four walls and a roof to me," he continued,
addressing Helen.  "But Jack Hart seems to have got what he
wanted--that's the chief thing, ain't it?"

Helen nodded, and they left the room without looking again at the
plans.  As they descended the broad flight of steps to the street,
Venetia laid her hand on Helen's arm.

"Tell Jack we are all proud of him.  Mamma brags of him daily.  And
look out for the paragraph in the paper.  They'd give me a paragraph,
don't you think?"


The winter twilight had descended upon the murky city, filling the long
vistas of the cross streets with a veil of mystery.  But the roar of
the place mounted to the clouds above, which seemed to reverberate with
the respirations of the Titan beneath.  Here, in the heart of the city,
life clamored with a more direct note than in any other spot in the
world.  Men were struggling fiercely for their desires, and their cries
ascended to the dull heavens.

Helen walked home with the boys, soothed by the human contact of the
streets.  There was something exhilarating to her in the jostle of the
throng,--the men and women leaving their labors, bent homeward for the
night.  Her heart expanded near them--those who won their daily bread
by the toil of the day.

It was in part true, what the widow had said.  For it was she who had
willed to return to the city from the pleasant niche where she had
spent her married life, desiring in the growing emptiness of her heart
to get closer to the vast life of a human people, to feel once more the
common lot of man.  So she had taken the little house on Scott Street,
and reduced their living to the simplest scale, declaring that she
wanted her time for herself and her children.  Her husband was so busy
that as yet he hardly noticed any change in her.  They went out less
than they had gone in previous years, and sometimes he thought the
people he found calling on his wife were "queer."  Her interest in a
new kind of education for the children bored him.  She seemed to be
going her own way without thought of him, and now and then he wondered
what it meant.  He did not like aggressive, faddish persons; he wanted
women to be personal and sympathetic, with a touch of "style," social
tact, and a little dash.

To-night he had come from his office early, and while he waited for
Helen he looked about the little drawing-room disapprovingly, with a
sense of aggrieved discomfort.  Helen was taking to economy and
simplicity altogether too seriously to please him.  To be sure, she
made no objection to his keeping his hunters at the Shoreham Club, or
his polo-playing, or other expensive diversions.

In a vague way he was aware of the subtle separation of soul that
existed between them.  He looked at his wife closely when she came in
with the boys.  She seemed older, more severe in face than he had
thought, than her photograph on his office desk said.  When this school
business was done with, he reflected, they must run over to Europe for
a few months' vacation, get shaken up, and then live differently on
their return....

"Nell," he said to her, when they were alone, "it's settled at last,
you will be glad to know, everything.  We let the contracts to-day."

"For the school?" she asked indifferently.  "You must be relieved to
have it off your mind."

Her lips, which curved so tenderly, had grown strangely firm.  He put
his arm over her shoulder and drew her toward him.

"Yes, it's a great relief.  I thought at one time Pemberton would make
them throw the whole thing up and start again.  But the others had more
sense.  Well, when the building is finished, we must have a spree, and
get to be lovers once more."

"Yes, dear.  This afternoon I've been to the Institute with the boys to
let them see the plans."

"They are well spoken of.  I saw Wright to-day for a moment.  He
stopped to congratulate me, but I couldn't tell what he really thought.
Well, after all the trouble with them, I got pretty much what I wanted,
thanks to Everett and the doctor.  Everett's been a good friend all
through.  The idea of their kicking so hard because the thing was going
to cost a little more than they had made up their minds to spend on the
building!  Pemberton thinks he knows all about architecture.  It's a
pity he couldn't have drawn the plans himself."

"But you saved your design.  There were only a few changes, I thought."

"Yes, I've won the second round all right."

In his joy over the thought he put his strong arms about his wife and
lifted her bodily from the floor, as he had often done, boyishly, in
the years before.  Holding her close to him he kissed her lips and
neck.  She returned his kisses, but the touch of her lips was cool.
She seemed limp in his arms, and he felt vaguely the want of something.
She was less loving, less passionate than ever before.  He missed the
abandon, the utter self-forgetfulness, the rush of ecstatic emotion,
which from the first moment of their love had made her for him all
woman, the woman of women....  He let her slip from his embrace and
looked at her.  Was it age?  Was it the penalty of living, which
dampens the fire of passion and dulls desire?  He was troubled,
distressed for the loss of something precious that was getting beyond
his reach, perhaps had gone forever.

"Oh!" he exclaimed.  "It's bad to be always on the dead push.  Come!
Let's go out somewhere and have dinner and a bottle of champagne the
way we used to."

She hesitated a moment, unwilling to disappoint him.

"I can't very well to-night, Francis.  I promised Morton Carr I should
be home this evening.  He wants me to help him raise some money for his
new building, and we were to discuss it."

"Oh!" he said, his egotism subtly wounded.  "I remember you said
something about it."



CHAPTER XXI

Late in March the corner-stone for the Jackson Institute was laid.  It
was a desolate winterish day, and the prairie wind chilled to the bone
the little group of interested people seated on the platform erected
for the occasion.  There were brief speeches by Judge Phillips and Dr.
Everest, and an address by a celebrated college president on the "new
education."  To Helen, who sat just behind him in sight of the piles of
excavated sand and the dirty brick walls of the neighboring stores, the
scene was scarcely in harmony with the orator's glowing
generalizations.  "The mighty energies of this industrial cosmopolis
will now respond to the higher call of man's ideals....  On industry
rests thrift, and on thrift must rest all education."  As the neat
periods slipped forth, Cook, who was standing by the mason's windlass,
caught Helen's eye and smiled.  He looked brisk and happy, and she
could fancy him calling out: "Hey!  What does the guy know about
industry?  But ain't this the best yet?  F. J. Hart is all right!"

The architect, smartly dressed for the occasion in a new frock coat and
shining silk hat, stepped forward at the proper moment, dusted the
upper surface of the great stone with a brush, and handed the judge a
silver trowel.  Cook pushed up to them a bucket of mortar, into which
the old man thrust the trowel, and tremblingly bespattered the stone.
Then the windlass creaked, and down came the massive block of Indiana
limestone, covering the recess into which had been stuffed some records
of the present day.  Then the architect and Cook busied themselves
adjusting the block, while the judge stepped backward to his seat, a
look of relief coming over his red face, as if he felt that he had
virtually executed the trust left him by his old friend.

As the gathering dispersed, Helen's eyes fell upon a great wooden sign
surmounting the workmen's shed: THE GRAVES CONSTRUCTION
COMPANY--GENERAL CONTRACTORS--CHICAGO AND NEW YORK.

So this was the company that had finally secured the general contract
for the building.  As Helen knew, there had been vexatious delays over
the bids.  The first figures had been very much in excess of the sum
the trustees had intended to spend upon the building.  They had forced
the architect to modify his plans somewhat and to ask for new bids.
Pemberton had been especially obstinate, and Hart had grumbled about
him to his wife:--

"Why does the old duffer chew the rag over a couple of hundred
thousand, when they have over three millions, anyway?  It doesn't come
out of _his_ pocket!"

At last, after some wrangling, the trustees had accepted the lowest
bid, though it was still considerably beyond the figure they had set.
Hart regarded it as a triumph: he had saved substantially the integrity
of his design, and the Graves Company got the contract.

Now all was serene.  From the hour that the contract was signed, the
building rose from nothingness by leaps and bounds.  Graves was always
rapid in his operations, and for this building he seemed to have made
every preparation beforehand.  The labor situation, which was still
unsettled, caused him no delay.  His rivals said that he had the
leaders in the unions on his pay-rolls, and could build when other
contractors were tied up by strikes.  Other firms could not get their
steel from the mills for months, but Graves had some mysterious way of
securing his material when he wanted it.  The day after the
corner-stone was laid he had an army of men at work; early in June the
walls were up to the roof trusses; by the end of July the great edifice
was completely roofed in, and the plasterers were at work.

The contracts once signed, the judge and Wheeler seemed to regard that
their responsibilities were over.  Hollister, who had been in poor
health latterly, had gone to Europe.  But Pemberton was the bane of the
architect's life.  He visited Hart's office almost daily, looked
carefully at every voucher before ordering it paid, and spent long
afternoons at the works.  He examined the building from foundation to
roof with his thrifty New England eye, and let no detail escape him,
stickling over unimportant trifles, and delaying the numerous orders
for extras or alterations.  The whole operation of modern building was
an unknown language to him.  He knew that he was ignorant of what was
going on before his eyes, and his helplessness made him improperly
suspicious of the architect and the contractor.  Many a time he
strained Hart's habitual tact.  They nearly came to blows over some
window frames, which the architect had seen fit to alter without
consulting the building committee.

One morning Hart found Pemberton at the school in company with a
stranger, who made notes in a little memorandum book.  The trustee
nodded curtly to the architect, and, as he was preparing to leave,
remarked casually:--

"This is Mr. Trimble, Mr. Hart.  Mr. Trimble is an engineer, who has
been in my employ from time to time.  He will look through the works
and make a report.  Mr. Trimble will not interfere with you in any way,
Mr. Hart.  He will report to me."

The architect's face grew white with suppressed rage, and his lips
trembled as he answered:--

"What is your reason for taking this step, Mr. Pemberton?  When I was
given the commission, nothing was said about having a superintendent.
If there is to be one, he should report to me.  As you know quite well,
I have devoted my entire time to this building, and given up other work
in order that I might be out here every day.  I shall speak to the
other trustees about this, and I'll not stand the insult, Mr.
Pemberton!"

"Tut, tut, no insult, Mr. Hart.  You must know that it's quite usual in
work of this magnitude for the owners to have their representative at
the works.  There will be no interference with you or the contractor,
if the building goes right."

The architect swallowed his anger for the time, merely answering
sulkily: "Mr. Graves will take no orders except from me, of course.
The contracts are so drawn."

"What's that!" Pemberton exclaimed.  "I hope there will be no occasion
to alter that arrangement."

The architect bowed and left the building.

"Snarling, prying old fogy," he spluttered to his wife, who was waiting
outside in the automobile.  "Let him put in his superintendent.  I
guess we can give him a run for his money."

The woman's heart sank.  Somehow this school, this bit of great-hearted
idealism on the part of the old man she loved, had thus far stirred up
a deal of mud.


Pemberton did not think it necessary to discuss with the architect his
reasons for engaging Mr. Trimble as superintendent, but he had what
seemed to him sufficient cause to look into the building more
thoroughly than he was able to himself.  After the contract had been
let, the trustees had received a number of anonymous letters, which
made charges that all had not been square in getting the bids for the
building.  These letters had gone into the waste basket, as mere
cowardly attacks from some disgruntled contractor.  Then, one day while
the building was still in the rough, and the tile was going in,
Pemberton overheard one of the laborers say to his mate:--

"Look at that stuff, now.  It ain't no good at all," and the man gave
the big yellow tile a kick with his foot; "it's nothin' but dust.
Them's rotten bad tiles, I tell yer."

And the other Paddy answered reflectively, scratching his elbow the
while:--

"It'll go all the same.  Sure, it's more money in his pocket.  Ain't
that so, boss?"

He appealed to Pemberton, whom he took for one of the passers-by gaping
idly at the building.

"What do you mean?" the trustee demanded sharply.

"Mane?  The less you pay the more you git in this wurld!"

"Hist, you fule," the other one warned, twisting his head in the
direction of the boss mason, who was not far away.

Pemberton was not the man to take much thought of a laborer's idle
talk.  But the words remained in his mind, and a few weeks later,
happening to meet the superintendent of a large construction company in
the smoking-car of the Forest Park train, he asked the man some
questions about fireproof building.

"Why did your people refuse to bid the second time?" he inquired
finally.

"They saw it was just a waste of time and money," the man replied
frankly.

"What do you mean by that?"

"Why, the job was slated for Graves--that was all.  It was clear enough
to us.  There's mighty little that goes out of that office except to
Graves."

"Is that so?  I asked Mr. Hart particularly to have your company bid on
the contracts."

Then the man became confidential, and explained how a certain ambiguity
in the wording of the specifications made it risky for a contractor to
bid unless he knew just how the architect would treat him; for the
contractor might easily "get stuck" for much more than the possible
profits, though bidding in perfect good faith.  The man was willing
enough to talk, once started on the subject, and in the course of half
an hour he explained to the layman some of the chicanery of the
building business.

"So you see, Mr. Pemberton, the contractor, to protect himself when he
doesn't know his man, bids pretty high, and then the favored contractor
can safely go a good bit lower.  He has an understanding with the
architect, maybe, and it all depends on how the specifications are
going to be interpreted."

And he told other things,--how some of the firms who had bid had since
got parts of the general contract from the Graves Company, but with an
altered set of specifications.

"It's queer," he ended finally.  "We can't see how they'll make a cent
on the contract unless Graves is goin' to rot it clear through."

He explained what he meant by "rotting" it,--the use of cheap grades of
materials and inferior labor, from the foundation stones to the
cornice.  In other words, the building would be a "job."

"For those specifications called for a first-class building, and no
mistake,--awful heavy steel work, and cabinet finish, and all that.  If
it's built according to specification, you're going to have a
first-class school all right."

The result of this chance conversation was that after consultation with
Judge Phillips, Pemberton sent to Boston for the engineer Trimble, whom
he knew to be absolutely honest and capable.


When Hart left Pemberton, he went directly to Wheeler's office and
exploded to his cousin.  His anger at the affront offered to him had
entirely hidden the thought of the disagreeable complications that
might follow.  He took a high stand with Wheeler about the trustees'
lack of confidence in him.  But the cool lawyer, after hearing his
remonstrances, said placidly:--

"If Pemberton wants this man Trimble to go over the building, I don't
see how you can prevent it.  And I don't see the harm in it myself.  I
suppose everything is all right.  See that it is,--that's your
business.  Pemberton would be a bad man to deal with if he found any
crooked work.  You'd better look sharp after that fellow Graves."

The architect assured his cousin that there was no need to worry on
that score.  But he began to realize the dangers ahead, and felt a
degree of comfort in the fact that Graves had only that week paid him
in cash for the second block of his Glenmore hotel "stock."  With the
previous payment he had now thirty-five thousand dollars lying in his
bank, and a large payment on the commission for the school would soon
be due him.

Trouble was not long in coming.  Trimble, who was a quiet little man,
and looked like a bookseller's clerk, was waiting for Hart one morning
at the office of the works.  He made some pointed inquiries about the
plumbing specifications.  There seemed to be important discrepancies
between the copy of the specifications at the works and the copy which
Pemberton had given him from the office of the trustees.

"Yes, a good many changes were authorized.  There were good reasons for
making them," Hart responded gruffly.

The little man made no remarks; he seemed to have inquired out of
curiosity.  Then he asked questions about some blue-prints which did
not correspond with the written specifications, explaining that he had
gone to the mill where the interior finish was being turned out and had
found other discrepancies in the details prepared for the woodwork.
Hart answered indifferently that he would find a good many such
changes, as was customary in all buildings.  At this point Graves
arrived; he came into the little shanty and looked Trimble over without
speaking.  After the engineer had left, Graves turned to the architect,
an ugly frown on his heavy face:--

"Say, is that little cuss goin' to make trouble here?"

Hart explained briefly what had happened.

"Do you think we could fix him?" the contractor asked without further
comment.

The architect noticed the "we" and sulked.

"I guess you'd better not try.  He doesn't look like the kind you could
fix.  It's just as well that most of the work is done, for it seems to
me he means trouble."

"All the finish and decoratin' is comin', ain't it?" the contractor
growled.  "I tell you what, if he holds up the mill work, and keeps
fussin' round, there'll be more than one kind of trouble.  I won't
stand no nonsense from your damned trustees."  He swore out his disgust
and fumed, until Hart said:--

"Well, you'll have to do the best you can.  And I'll try to keep the
trustees quiet."

The Glenmore hotel was going up rapidly, and he thought of the twenty
thousand dollars which would be coming to him on the completion of that
building--if all went well.  But if there should be a row, there would
be no further profits for him on the hotel.

"The best I can!" Graves broke forth.  "I guess you'll have to take
care of them.  You'd better see your cousin and get him to call this
feller off, or there'll be trouble."

"I have seen Wheeler," the architect admitted.

"Well," the contractor blustered, "if they want a fight, let 'em come
on.  There'll be a strike on this building in twenty-four hours, I can
tell you, and then it'll be years before they can get their school
opened."

With this threat the contractor left the office, and Hart went over to
the great building, which had become a thorn in his flesh these last
weeks.  It was not a bad piece of work, after all, as Chicago building
was done, he reflected.  Even if Graves had cut the work in places, and
had made too much money on the steel, the stone, and here and there all
over, the edifice would answer its purpose well enough, and the
architect had no special interest in the everlasting qualities of his
structures.  Nothing was built to stand for more than a generation in
this city.  Life moved too swiftly for that.

For several weeks, as the end of August came near, there was a lull,
while Pemberton was in the East on his vacation.  The work on the
school went forward as before; even the irritation of seeing Trimble's
face was removed, for he had ceased to visit the works.  Then, the
first week in September, the storm burst.  There came to the
architect's office a peremptory summons to meet the trustees the next
afternoon.



CHAPTER XXII

Powers Jackson had given the old Jackson homestead and farm at Vernon
Falls in Vermont to Helen, and with it a small legacy of twelve
thousand dollars "as a maintenance fund."  She had opened the house but
once or twice since her marriage, because Jackson was always too busy
to take a long vacation, and she did not like to leave him.  Latterly
she had thought about the old man's gift a good deal, and there had
been some talk of her spending the summer in Vernon Falls with the
children and her mother.  Instead of this they had gone to the Shoreham
Club for a few weeks in August, putting off the journey East till the
fall.

She had never touched the legacy, leaving it in Everett Wheeler's
hands, securely invested, and had paid what was needed to maintain the
old place from her allowance.  Now, however, a number of repairs on the
buildings had accumulated, and it occurred to her one day, when she was
in the city, to find out from Wheeler how much surplus she had at her
disposal.  They had joked a good deal about her estate, and the lawyer
had scolded her for not coming to his office to examine the papers and
see what he was doing with her money.

It was late in the afternoon when she had finished other, more urgent
errands, and, turning into the lofty La Salle Street building, was
whirled up to the twelfth floor.  The middle-aged stenographer in
Wheeler's office looked up on her entrance, and said that the lawyer
had not left, but was engaged with some gentlemen.  Would she wait?
She sat down in the quiet, carpeted outer office, from which radiated
several small offices.  The doors of all these rooms were open except
one, and through the ground-glass panel in this door she could see the
dark forms of several men.  Presently the stenographer pushed her
papers into the drawer of her desk, and fetched her hat and coat.

"I think they must be 'most through," she remarked pleasantly.  "You go
right in when they come out."

Then she gathered up her gloves and left.  Little noise came from the
hall, except the occasional sliding back and forth of elevator gates.
The vast hive seemed to be deserted at this hour, and few places in the
city were so quiet and lonesome as this sober law office.  The murmur
of voices in the inner room was the only sound of life.  Gradually the
voices grew louder, but Helen paid no attention to them until a man's
voice, clear and shrill with exasperation, penetrated distinctly to the
outer office.

"No, Wheeler!" the man almost shouted.  "We won't compromise this.  I
won't have it covered up or whitewashed.  We'll go to the bottom, here
and now.  Let us find out what all this double-dealing means.  Let us
know, now, whether the work on that building is being done honestly or
not, and whether our architect is working for us or for the contractor
against us."

It was Pemberton's voice, and Helen recognized it.  From the first
words she had grasped the arms of her chair--a sudden clutch at her
heart.  She held herself rigid, while behind the door a confused murmur
of men all talking at once drowned Pemberton's voice.  She tried to
think whether she ought to leave the office, but her strength had gone,
and she trembled in her chair.  Presently Pemberton's high voice rang
out again:--

"No, sir!  We've given you this opportunity to explain your conduct and
clear yourself.  You haven't done it, sir!  You try to bluster it
through.  There is something wrong in this business, and we shall find
out what it is.  Not another dollar will be paid out on your vouchers
until our experts have gone through all the papers and examined every
foot of the construction so far done.  No, Wheeler, I will resign if
you like.  You asked me to join you.  I was glad to do so.  I
considered it an honor and a duty, and I have made sacrifices for this
trust.  But if I stay on the board, this thing must be cleared up!"

Another high and angry voice answered this time:--

"You'd better not make loose charges, Mr. Pemberton, until you are in a
position to prove what you say.  I won't stand your talk; I don't
propose to stay here and let you bully me--I'm going!"

Helen recognized her husband's voice, and she got to her feet, still
clutching the chair.  Then she stepped forward unsteadily toward the
inner office.  The handle of the door moved a little, and against the
glass panel the form of a man stood out sharply.

"What are you going to do about it?  Sue Graves?  Or sue me?  You can
discharge me if you like.  But I am your agent and have full powers.
Remember that!  That's the way the contract is drawn.  And if I back up
Graves, what are you going to do about it?  He's got your agent's
signature for what he's done....  You'd better hold your temper and
talk sense." ...

"Don't threaten me, sir!" Pemberton retorted.  "I have all the proof I
want that you are a rascal, that you have entered into a conspiracy
with this man Graves to swindle." ...

There were sounds of a scuffle within the office,--the noise of falling
chairs, the voices of excited men.  Above all the clamor rose the cool
tones of Wheeler:--

"Come, come, gentlemen!  This is not business."

As he spoke, a weight fell against the door from the outside.  The man
nearest the outer office, who happened to be Judge Phillips, opened the
door, and Helen fell, rather than walked, into the room, her face
white, her hands stretched before her.

"Francis!  Francis!" she called.

It was not her husband, however, who sprang to her aid.  He was too
startled to move.  Wheeler, who was leaning against his desk with his
hands in his pockets, leaped forward, caught her, and carried her from
the room.

"Nell, Nell!" he muttered to himself.  "Why did you come here!"



CHAPTER XXIII

Husband and wife did not speak while they were being driven across the
city to their home.  That which lay between them was too heavy to be
touched upon at once in words.  Several times the architect glanced
fearfully at his wife.  She rested limply on the carriage cushion, with
closed eyes, and occasionally a convulsive tremor twitched her body.
The summer heat, which had raged untempered for weeks, had already
sapped her usual strength, and now her face had a bloodless pallor that
made the man wince miserably.  When the cab stopped at the North Side
bridge, where a burly vessel was being pulled through the draw, Helen
opened her eyes languidly; once or twice she sought her husband's face,
which was turned blankly toward the crowded street.  Her lips moved,
and then she closed her eyes again.  As they got out of the cab, a
neighbor who was passing spoke to them and made a little joke, to which
Jackson replied pleasantly, with perfect self-control.  The woman
leaning on his arm shivered, as if a fresh chill had seized her.

The children were spending the month in Wisconsin with Jackson's
mother, and so the two sat down to a silent dinner.  When the maid had
come and gone for the last time, Hart looked furtively across the table
to his wife and said gently:--

"Won't you go upstairs, Nell?  You don't look able to sit up."

She shook her head and tried to speak, but her voice was gone.  Finally
she whispered:--

"Francis, you must tell me all about it,--everything!"

He frowned and said nothing, until she repeated, "Everything, you must
tell me!" and then he replied:--

"See here, Nell, you'd better drop this thing and not think of it
again.  That man Pemberton, who has pestered the life out of me all
along, has made a row.  He's an ill-tempered beast.  That's all.  And
he'll repent it, too!  He can't do anything to me.  It's a business
quarrel, and I don't want you to worry over it."

He was cool and assured, and spoke with the kindly authority of a
husband.

"No, Francis!"  She shook her head wearily.  "That can't be all.  I
must know what it is--I must help you."

"You can't help me," he replied calmly.  "I have told you enough.  They
can't do anything.  I don't want to go any further into that business."

"I must know!" she cried.

He was startled at the new force in her voice, the sign of a will
erecting itself with its own authority against him.

"Know what?  What that fool Pemberton thinks of me?  You heard enough
of that, I guess."

"Don't put me off!  Don't put me away from you, now, Francis!  If we
are to love each other, if we are to live together, I must know you,
all of you.  I am in a fog.  There is something wrong all about me, and
it gets between us and kills our love.  I cannot--bear--it!"

Her voice broke into pleading, and ended in a sob.  But controlling
herself quickly, she added:--

"Mr. Pemberton is a fair man, a just man.  But if he's wrong, I want to
know that, too.  I want to hate him for what he said to you."

"You would like to judge me, to judge your husband!" he retorted
coldly.  "That is not the way to love.  I thought you would believe in
me, all through to the end."

"So I shall--if you will tell me all the truth.  I would go with you
anywhere, to prison if need be, if you would be open with me."

"We needn't talk of going to prison yet awhile!" he exclaimed in
exasperation.

He went to the sideboard, and pouring himself a glass of whiskey, set
the decanter on the table.

"They can't do anything but talk," he repeated.  Then, warmed by the
liquor, he began to be more insolent, to speak defiantly.

"Pemberton's been after me from the start.  He wanted Wright to get the
work in the first place, and he's tried to put every obstacle he could
in my way.  It was first one thing and then another.  He has made life
unendurable with his prying and his suspicions.  But I won't stand it
another day.  I'm going to Everett to-morrow and tell him that I shall
get out if Pemberton is to interfere with my orders.  And they can't
lay a finger on me, I tell you!  Pemberton can just talk!"

Helen had put her head between her hands, and she was sobbing.  Every
hot word that he spoke drove conviction against him into her heart.  At
last she raised her tear-stained face and cried out with a new access
of power:--

"Stop!  Stop!"

Then she rose, took the decanter of whiskey, replaced it on the
sideboard, and seated herself by his side, putting her hand on his arm.

"Francis, if you care for me, if you want us ever to love each other
again, answer me honestly.  Have you and that contractor done anything
wrong about the school?"

"You can't understand," he replied roughly, drawing his arm from her
touch.  "You are making a great deal out of your own imagination."

"Answer me!" she said, in the same tense tone of pure will.  "Have you
let that man Graves cheat the trustees,--do anything dishonest,--and
shut your eyes to it?"

"Pemberton claims he hasn't lived up to the specifications," the
architect admitted sullenly.

"And you knew it?"

"So he says."

There was a moment's silence between them while the vision of this
fraud filled their minds.  She seemed to hesitate before the evil thing
that she had raised, and then she asked again, quickly:--

"Have you--did you make any money from it?"

He did not reply.

"Tell me, Francis!" she persisted.  "Did this man give you anything for
letting him--cheat the trustees?  Tell me!"

He was cold and careless now.  This new will in his wife, unexpected,
so totally unlike her gentle, yielding nature, compelled him to reveal
some part of the truth.  In this last resort her will was the stronger.
He said slowly:--

"If he got the school contract, there was an understanding that he was
to give me some stock in a corporation.  It was involved with other
business."

"He was to give you stock?"

"Yes; stock in a hotel that he's been building--another piece of work."

"And he gave you this stock?"

"Some of it."

"What have you done with it?"

"Sold it."

"You have sold it?"

"Yes.  It was a kind of bonus he gave me for getting him the contract
and for doing the plans for the hotel, too."

Further than that admission he would not go, and they left the subject
late at night.  He was sullen and hard, and resented her new tone of
authority to him; for he had always counted on her acquiescence and
tenderness as his immutable rights.

In the morning this feeling of resentment was more firmly fixed.  He
regretted that in a moment of weakness he had admitted what he had the
night before.  When she came to him as he was preparing to leave the
house, and, putting her hands on his arms, begged him to talk with her
again before going to the office, he listened moodily and said that he
was pressed for time.

"Won't you go to them, to the trustees, to Everett, anyway, and tell
them everything you know?  And give them that money--the money you got
from the stock?"

"That's a woman's plan!  That would make a nice mess, wouldn't it?  I
told you I got that as a bonus.  I have worked a lot for this
contractor, and he offered me this chance to make some money in one of
his schemes.  It's often done, something like that.  You'd like to see
me get into trouble--be disgraced for good and all?"

"That can make no difference now," she answered quietly.  "The disgrace
cannot be helped."

"What rot!" he sneered.  "You make me out a thief at once.  Suppose you
look at what some of your acquaintances do,--the good, rich people in
this town,--and find out how they make their money.  Ask people how
Silas Stewart gets his rebates from the railroads.  Ask any one about
the way Strauss grades his wheat."

"I don't want to know," she interrupted sadly.  "That has nothing to do
with this matter."

He left her impatiently.  They did not reopen the sore that evening,
nor the next day.  Her face was set and stern, with a kind of dreary
purpose in it, which made him unhappy.  He went out of the city on
business, and did not return for several days.  When he came home no
mention was made of his absence, and for another week they lived
silently.  The night before the children were to return from their
vacation with their grandmother, while husband and wife lay awake, each
troubled by the common thought, she spoke again.

"Francis," she said firmly, "we can't go on like this.  The boys are
coming home to-morrow.  They mustn't see us living this way.  And it's
bad for you, Francis, and I can't stand it!  I have been thinking it
over.  I must go away with the boys.  I shall go to uncle Powers's
house in Vernon Falls."

"You are going to leave me and take the children with you because you
think I am in trouble," he said accusingly.

"You know that isn't true.  If you will only meet this trouble
honorably, like the man I loved and married, I will stay, and be with
you always, no matter what comes.  Will you?"

"So you want to make conditions?"

"Just one."

"You had better go, then."

She turned her face to her pillow and wept in the dreary realization
that she could touch him in no way.  The next day she telephoned her
mother to come to her, and when Mrs. Spellman arrived, she said
quietly:--

"Mother, I am going to Vermont, to the farm.  It may be for a long
time.  Will you come with me and the boys?"

Mrs. Spellman, who was a wise woman, took her daughter's face between
her hands and kissed her.

"Of course," she answered simply.


That day they made the necessary preparations for themselves and the
children.  When the architect returned from his office and saw what was
going forward, he said to his wife:--

"So you are determined to leave me?"

"Yes, I must go unless--"

"I have seen Everett.  They aren't going to do anything.  I told you it
was all bluff on Pemberton's part."

She hesitated, uncertain what to think, and then she asked
searchingly:--

"Why aren't they going to do anything?  What does it mean?"

"Oh, I guess the others have brought Pemberton to his senses," he
replied evasively.  "At any rate, it's blown over, as I told you it
would."

"No, Francis!  It isn't made right yet.  You would be different if it
were.  Somehow, from the beginning, when first there was talk of this
school, it has all been wrong.  I hate it!  I hate it!  And the trouble
goes back of that, too.  It starts from the very beginning, when we
were married, and began to live together.  We have always done as the
others do all around us, and it is all wrong.  I see it now.  We can
never go on again in the same way--"

"What way?  I don't understand you in the least," he interrupted.

"Why, just earning and spending money, trying to get more and more,
trying to get things.  It's spoiled your work; it's spoiled you; and I
have been blind and weak to let us drift on like the others, getting
and spending, struggling to get ahead, until it has come to this, to
this,--something dreadful that you will not tell me,--something base
that you have done to make money.  Oh, how low and mean it is!  How
mean it makes men and women!"

"That's life," he retorted neatly.

"No, no, never!  That wasn't what you and I thought before we married.
I wish you were a clerk, a laborer, a farm-hand,--anything, so that we
could be honest, and think of something besides making money.  Let us
begin again, from the very beginning, and live like the common people
from day to day--live for your work, for the thing you do.  Then we
should be happy.  Never this way, not if you make millions, millions!"

"Well, I can't see why you are set on going away," the architect
answered, content to see her mind turn from the practical question.

"Tell me!" she exclaimed passionately.  "Tell me!  Is it all right with
that building?  With that contractor?  Are you honest?  Are you an
honest man?  Tell me, and I will believe you."

"I have said all that I am going to say about that matter," he answered
stubbornly.

"Then, Francis, I go!"

The next afternoon the architect met his family at the train and saw
them start, punctiliously doing all the little things that he could to
make their journey comfortable.  He referred to their going as a short
vacation trip, and joked with the boys about the farm.  Just before the
train started, while Mrs. Spellman settled the children in their
section, Helen walked up and down the platform with him.  As the signal
for starting was given she raised her veil, revealing the tears in her
eyes, and leaning toward him kissed him.  She put into his hands a
little card, which she had been holding clasped in her palm.  He raised
his hat and stood on the platform until the long train had pulled out
of the shed.  Then he glanced at the card in his hand, which read:--

"I shall wait for you to come to me when you really want me.  H."

He crushed the card in his fist and threw it into the roadbed.



PART III

INTO THE RANKS



CHAPTER XXIV

As the architect had said to his wife, nothing of a serious nature was
to happen.  In the end Everett Wheeler settled the matter.  After the
first gust of passion it was clear enough that the trustees could not
have a scandal about the building.  If the contractor were prosecuted,
the architect, the donor's nephew, would be involved; and, besides, it
was plain that Wheeler could not continue as trustee and assist in
ruining his cousin.  When it came to this point, Pemberton, not wishing
to embarrass his associates, resigned.

Hart was to continue nominally as the architect for the school, but
Trimble was to have actual charge of the building henceforth, with
orders to complete the work as soon as possible according to the
original specifications.  At first Graves had blustered and threatened
to sue if certain vouchers issued by Hart were not paid, but Wheeler
"read the riot act" to him, and he emerged from the lawyer's office a
subdued and fearful man.  The calm lawyer had a long arm, which reached
far into the city, and he frightened the contractor so thoroughly that
he was content to be allowed to complete the contract.  Whatever parts
of his work had been done crookedly, he was to rectify as far as was
possible, and Trimble was to see that the construction which remained
to be done came up to specification.  As for the irrevocable, the bad
work already accepted and paid for, the lawyer said nothing.

Thus the man of the world, the perfectly cynical lawyer, had his way,
which was, on the whole, the least troublesome way for all concerned,
and avoided scandal.  He was the calm one of the men involved: it was
his business to make arrangements with human weakness and frailty and
"to avoid scandal."  That at all costs!

He made his cousin no long reproaches.

"We've nipped your claws, young man," he admonished him.

He was disappointed in Jackson.  Privately he considered him a
dunderheaded ass, who had weakly given himself as a tool to the
contractor.  In his dealings with men, he had known many rascals, more
than the public was aware were rascals, and he respected some of them.
But they were the men, who, once having committed themselves to devious
ways, used other men as their tools.  For little, foolish rascals, who
got befogged and "lost their nerve," he had only contempt.

"How's your wife?" he asked bruskly.  "That was a dirty blow she got
here the other day--straight between the eyes.  I never thought she'd
come in here that afternoon."

"Helen has gone East with the boys and her mother,--to that place in
Vermont.  She hasn't been feeling well lately, and she needs the rest."

"Oh, um, I see," the lawyer commented, comprehending quite well what
this journey meant.  He was a little surprised that Helen should desert
her husband at this crisis.  In his philosophy it was the part of a
woman who had character to "back her husband," no matter what he might
do, so long as he was faithful to his marriage oath.  Jackson had been
a fool, like so many men; there was trouble in the air, and she had run
away.  He would not have thought it of her.


Hart swallowed his humiliation before his cousin.  He was much relieved
at the outcome of the affair; it released him from further
responsibility for the school, which had become hateful to him.  He was
chiefly concerned, now, lest the difficulty with the trustees should
become known and hurt his reputation, especially lest the men in his
office, to whom he was an autocrat and a genius, should suspect
something.  He began at once to push the work on the last details for
the hotel, with the hope of forcing Graves to deliver another block of
the "stock," which he argued was due him for his commission.

Now that the matter had been quietly adjusted without scandal, he was
inclined to feel more aggrieved than ever over his wife's departure.
"She might have waited to see how it turned out," he repeated to
himself, obstinately refusing her the right to judge himself except
where his acts affected her publicly.  For some time he kept up with
acquaintances the fiction of Helen's "visit in the East"; he even took
a room at the Shoreham Club for the hunting season.  But he soon
fancied that the people at the club were cool to him; fewer engagements
came his way; no one referred to the great building, which had given
him so much reputation; the men he had known best seemed embarrassed
when he joined them,--men, too, who would not have winked an eye at a
"big coup."  The women soon ceased to ask about Helen; it was getting
abroad that there was "something wrong with the Jackson Harts."  For it
had leaked, more or less, as such matters always will leak.  One man
drops a word to his neighbor, and the neighbor's wife pieces that to
something she has heard or surmised.

So before the season was over Hart gave up his room at the club, where
his raw self-consciousness was too often bruised.  Then, finding his
empty house in the city insupportable, he went to live with his mother
in his uncle's old home.  There was a lull in building at this time,
due to the high prices of materials, but fortunately he could keep
himself busy with the hotel and a large country house in the centre of
the state, which often made an excuse for him to get away from the city.

Helen wrote to him from time to time, filling her letters with details
about the boys.  She suggested that they should return to the city to
visit their grandmother during the Christmas holidays.  She never
referred to the situation between them, apparently considering that he
had it in his power to end it when he would.  He was minded often when
he received these letters to write her sternly in reply, setting forth
the wrong which in her obstinacy she was doing to herself and their
children.  He went over these imaginary letters in his idle moments,
working out their phrases with great care; they had a fine, dignified
ring to them, the tolerant and condoning note.  But when he tried to
write he did not get very far with them.  Sometimes he thought of
writing simply, "I love you very much, Nell; I want you back; can you
not forgive me?"  But he knew well that he could not merely say, "I
have done wrong, forgive me," if he would affect that new will in his
wife, so gently stern.  Even if he could bring himself to confess his
dishonesty, that would not suffice.  There was another and deeper gulf
between them, one that he could not clearly fathom.  "From the very
beginning we have lived wrongly," she had cried that last time.  "We
can never go on again in the same way." ... No, he was not ready to
accept her judgment of him.


Thus the winter wore away, forlornly, and early in April the first hint
of spring came into the dirty city.  On a Sunday afternoon the
architect went to call on his old friend, Mrs. Phillips, who was one of
the few persons who gave him any comfort these days.  He found her
cutting the leaves of an art journal.

"There's an article here about that German--the one we are all trying
to help, you know," she said, giving him a hand.  "Yes, I have taken to
patronizing the arts; it's pleasanter than charities.  I have graduated
from philanthropy.  And you have to do something nowadays, if you want
to keep up."

She spoke with her usual bluntness, and then added a little cant in a
conventional tone:--

"And I think those of us who have the time and the position should do
something to help these poor artists who are struggling here in this
commercial city.  People won't buy their pictures....  But what is the
matter with you?  You look as if you had come to the end of everything.
I suppose it's the old story.  That cold Puritan wife of yours has gone
for good.  It's no use pretending to me; I knew from the start how it
would be."

"But I don't know whether she has gone for good," he muttered.

"You might as well make up your mind to it.  Two people like you two
can't get along together."

"It isn't that," he protested.  "We have been very happy until lately."

"Well, don't mope, whatever you do.  Either go and eat your humble pie,
or arrange for a divorce.  You can't go on this way much longer.  Oh, I
know all your troubles, of course.  Hasn't that pleasant brother-in-law
of mine been in here rehearsing that story about the school,--well,
what do you call it?  And he seems to hold me responsible for the mess,
because I liked you, and gave you your first chance.  I didn't corrupt
you, did I?"

The architect moved uneasily.  The widow's levity displeased him, and
roused his anger afresh against the trustees.

"I don't know what rot Judge Phillips has been telling you, but--"

"Come," she interrupted him in his defence, "sit down here by me and
let me talk to you.  You know me well enough to see that I don't care
what the judge says.  But I have something to say to you."

She made a place for him on the lounge, and tossed him a pillow to make
him comfortable.  Then, dropping her review on the floor, she locked
her fingers behind her head and looked searchingly at the man.

"I don't know what you have been up to, and I don't care.  Harrison
always said I hadn't any moral sense, and I suppose I haven't of his
sort.  You should have had your uncle's money, or a good part at any
rate, and it's natural that you should try to get all you can of it
now, I say.  But you must have been stupid to let that old square-toes
Pemberton get in your way."

This cynical analysis of the situation was not precisely salve to the
architect's wound.  He was not ready to go as far as the woman lightly
sketched.  But he listened, for the sake of her sympathy, if for no
other reason.

"Now, as I said, there's no use moping around here.  Pick right up and
get out for a few months.  When you come back, people won't remember
what was the matter.  Or, if you still find it chilly, you can go to
New York and start there.  It's no use fighting things out and all
that.  Bury them."

She paused to give emphasis to her suggestion,

"Let your wife play by herself for a while; it will do her good.  When
she hears that you are in Europe, having a good time, she'll begin to
see she's been silly....  I am going over, too.  I've got to rent
Forest Manor this summer.  That Harris man went wrong the last time he
advised me, and got me into all sorts of trouble,--industrials.
Venetia pensions me!  She won't go abroad, but she kindly gives me what
she thinks I ought to spend for the summer and advises me to go over.
I sail on the _Kronprinz_, the 20th."

The invitation to him was implied in the pause that followed.  The
gleam in the man's eyes showed his interest in her suggestion, but he
made no reply.

"There's nothing to do in your business just now, as you said, and you
should give these talky people a chance to forget.  We could have a
good time over there.  You might buy some things and sell them here,
and make your expenses that way easily.  You know all the nice little
places, and if Maida and her husband come over, we could take an auto
and do them.  Think of Italy in May!"

She unclasped her hands and leaned forward, resting one arm on the
cushioned back of the lounge, and thus revealing a very pretty forearm
and wrist.  Two little red spots of enthusiasm glowed in her cheeks.
What life and vitality at forty-three! the man thought, smiling
appreciatively into her face.  For the first time she moved him
emotionally.  He was lonely, miserable, and thoroughly susceptible to
such charm as she had.

"It would be awfully pleasant," he said at last, leaning toward her,
"to get away from this place, with you!" ...

His hand slipped to her beautiful arm.  At that moment Venetia came
into the room, unnoticed by the two on the lounge.  She stood for a
little while watching them, and then, with a smile on her expressive
lips, noiselessly withdrew.

"Well, wire for a passage to-morrow," Mrs. Phillips murmured....

There was nothing more, nothing that would have offended the most
scrupulous; for the architect, at least, was essentially
healthy-minded.  In a lonely moment he might satisfy the male need for
sympathy by philandering with a pretty woman, who soothed his bruised
egotism.  But he did not have that kind of weakness--the woman
weakness.  A few minutes later he was leaving the room, saying as he
looked into Louise Phillips's brown eyes:--

"Yes, I think you are right.  I need to get away from this town for a
while and rest my nerves."

"When you come back people will be only too glad to see you.  They
don't remember their scruples long."

"There isn't anything for them to worry over."

"The _Kronprinz_, then."

In the hall he met Venetia, who was slowly coming down the stairs,
wrapped in a long cloak.  She hesitated a moment, then continued to
descend.

"Hello, Venetia!" Hart called out.

She swept down the remaining steps without replying, her eyes shining
hotly.  As she passed him, she turned and shot one word full in his
face,--"Cad!"



CHAPTER XXV

The girl's word was like a blow in the face.  It toppled over any
self-complacency that had survived these last disintegrating months.
Was he as mean a thing as that?  So little that a girl whom he had
always treated with jovial condescension might insult him, unprovoked?
Probably others, all those people whose acquaintance he valued, had a
like contempt for him, which they refrained, conventionally, from
expressing.  At first he did not resent their judgment; he was too much
dazed.

In this plight he walked south on the avenue, without minding where he
was going, and then turned west, automatically, at Twenty-second
Street, walking until he came to the region of dance halls and flashy
saloons.  In this unfamiliar neighborhood there was a glare of light
from the great electric signs which decorated the various places of
resort, and the street was crowded with men and women, who loitered
about the saloons and dance halls, enjoying the fitful mildness of the
April evening.  At this early hour there were more women than men on
the street, and their dresses of garish spring colors, their loud,
careless voices, and air of reckless ease, reminded the architect
faintly, very faintly, of the boulevards he had loved in his happy
student years.  In this spot of the broad American city coarse license
flourished, and the one necessity for him who sought forgetfulness was
the price of pleasure.  The scene distracted his mind for the moment
from the sting of the girl's contempt.

He entered one of the larger saloons on the corner of an avenue, and
sat down at a small table.  When the waiter darted to him, and,
impudently leering across the table into his face, asked, "What's
yours, gent?" he answered quickly: "Champagne!  Bring me a bottle and
ice."  His heavy spirit craved the amber wine, which, in association at
least, heartens man.  At the tables all about him sat the women of the
neighborhood, large-boned and heavy creatures, drinking beer by
themselves, or taking champagne with stupid-looking rough men, probably
buyers and sellers of stock at the Yards, which were not far away.  The
women had the blanched faces of country girls over whom the city has
passed like the plates of a mighty roller.  The men had the tan of the
distant prairies, from which they had come with their stock.  Their
business over, the season's profit obtained, they had set themselves to
deliberate debauch that should last for days,--as long as the "wad"
held out and the brute lust in their bodies remained unquenched.

Presently the waiter returned with the heavy bottle and slopped some of
the wine into a glass.  The architect raised it and drank.  It was
execrable, sweetened stuff, but he drank the glass at a draught, and
poured another and drank it.  The girl's inexplicable insult swept over
him afresh in a wave of anger.  He should find a way somehow to call
her to account....

"Say, mister, you don't want to drink all that wine by yourself, do
you?"

A woman at the next table, who was sitting alone before an empty beer
glass and smoking a cigarette, had spoken to him in a furtive voice.

"Come over, then," he answered, roughly pushing a chair to the table.
"Here, waiter, bring another glass."

The woman slid, rather than walked, to the chair by his side, and drank
the champagne like a parched animal.  He ordered another bottle.

"Enjoying yourself?" she inquired politely, having satisfied her first
thirst.  "Been in the city long?  I ain't seen you here at Dove's
before."

He looked at her with languid curiosity.  She recalled to him the
memory of her Paris sisters, with whom he had shared many a
_consommation_ in those blessed days that he had almost forgotten.  But
she had none of the sparkle, the human charm, of her Latin sisters.
She was a coarse vessel, and he wondered at the men who sought joy in
her.

"Where do you come from?" he demanded.

"Out on the coast.  San Diego's my home.  But I was in Philadelphia
last winter.  I guess I shall go back to the East pretty soon.  I don't
like Chicago much--it's too rough out here to suit me."

She found Chicago inferior!  He laughed with the humor of the idea.  It
was a joke he should like to share with his respectable friends.  They
drank and talked while the evening sped, and he plied her with many
questions in idle curiosity, touched with that interest in women of her
class which most men have somewhere in the dregs of their natures.  She
chatted volubly, willing enough to pay for her entertainment.

As he listened to her, this creature of the swift instants, whose only
perception was the moment's sensation, he grew philosophical.  The
other world, his proper world of care and painful forethought, faded
from his vision.  Here in Dove's place he was a thousand miles from the
respectabilities in which he had his being.  Here alone in the city one
might forget them, and nothing mattered,--his troubles, his wife's
judgment of him, the girl's contempt.

At last he had loosened that troublesome coil of things, which lately
had weighed him down, and it seemed easy enough to cut himself free
from it for good and walk the earth once more unhampered, like these,
the flotsam of the city.

"Come!  Let's go over to Grinsky's hall," the woman suggested, noticing
the architect's silence, and seeing no immediate prospect of another
bottle of wine.  "We'll find something doing over there, sure."

But he was already tired of the woman; she offended his cultivated
sensibilities.  So he shook his head, paid for the wine, said good
evening to her, and started to leave the place.  She followed him,
talking volubly, and when they reached the street she took his arm,
clinging to him with all the weight of her dragging will.

"You don't want to go home yet," she coaxed.  "You're a nice gentleman.
Come in here to Grinsky's and give me a dance."

Her entreaties disgusted him.  People on the street looked and smiled.
At the bottom he was a thoroughly clean-minded American; he could not
even coquette with debauch without shame and timidity.  She and her
class were nauseating to him, like evil-smelling rooms and foul sights.
That was not his vice.

He paid for her admission to the dance-hall, dropped a dollar in her
hand, and left her.  Then where to go?  How to pass the hours?  He was
at an utter loss what to do with himself, like all properly married,
respectable men, when the domestic pattern of their lives is disturbed
for any reason.  So, vaguely, without purpose, he began to stroll east
in the direction of the lake, taking off his hat to let the night wind
cool his head.  He found walking pleasant in the mild spring air, and
when he came to the end of the street he turned south into a deserted
avenue that was starred in the dark night by a line of arc lamps.  It
was a dull, respectable, middle-class district, quite unfamiliar to
him, and he stared inquiringly at the monotonous blocks of brick houses
and cheap apartment buildings.  Here was the ugly, comfortable housing
of the modern city, where lived a mass of good citizens,--clerks and
small business men with their wives and children.  He wondered vaguely
if this was what his wife would have him come to, this dreary monotony
of small homes, each one like its neighbor, where the two main facts of
existence were shelter and food.

A wave of self-pity swept over him, and his thoughts returned to his
old grievance: if Helen had stayed by him all would have been well.  He
wanted his children; he wanted his home, his wife, his neighbors, his
little accustomed world of human relationships,--all as it had been
before.  And he blamed her for destroying his happiness, shutting his
mind obstinately to any other consideration, unwilling to admit even to
his secret self that his greed, his thirst for luxury, had aught to do
with the case.  He had striven with all his might, even as the bread
winners in these houses strove daily, to get a point of vantage in the
universal struggle.  Doubtless these humble citizens had their modicum
of content.  But why should he, with his larger appetite, be condemned
to their level?  The idea was utterly repugnant to him, and gradually
that heavy weight of depression, which the wine had temporarily lifted,
pressed on his spirits.


He must have walked many blocks on this avenue between the monotonous
small houses.  In the distance beyond him, to the south, he saw a fiery
glow on the soft heavens, which he took to be the nightly reflection
from the great blast furnaces of the steel works in South Chicago.
Presently as he emerged upon a populous cross street, the light seemed
suddenly much nearer, and, unlike the soft effulgence from the blast
furnaces, the red sky was streaked with black.  On the corners of the
street there was an unwonted excitement,--men gaping upward at the
fiery cloud, then running eastward, in the direction of the lake.  From
the west there sounded the harsh gong of a fire-engine, which was
pounding rapidly down the car tracks.  It came, rocking in a whirlwind
of galloping horses and swaying men.  The crowd on the street broke
into a run, streaming along the sidewalks in the wake of the engine.

The architect woke from his dead thoughts and ran with the crowd.  Two,
three, four blocks, they sped toward the lake, which curves eastward at
this point, and as he ran the street became strangely familiar to him.
The crowd turned south along a broad avenue that led to the park.  Some
one cried: "There it is!  It's the hotel!"  A moment more, and the
architect found himself at the corner of the park opposite the lofty
building, out of whose upper stories broad billows of smoke, broken by
tongues of flame, were pouring.

There, in the corner made by the boulevard and the park, where formerly
was the weedy ruin, rose the great building, which Graves had finished
late in the winter, and had turned over to the hotel company.  Its
eight stories towered loftily above the other houses and apartment
buildings in the neighborhood.  The countless windows along the broad
front gleamed portentously with the reflection from the flames above.
At the west corner, overlooking the park, above a steep ascent of
jutting bay windows, there floated a light blue pennon, bearing a name
in black letters,--THE GLENMORE.

At first the architect scarcely realized that this building which was
burning was Graves's hotel, his hotel.  The excitement of the scene
stupefied him.  Already the police had roped off the streets beneath
the fire, in which the crowd was thickening rapidly.  From many points
in the adjoining blocks came the shrill whistles of the throbbing
engines, answering one another.  The fire burned quietly aloft in the
sky, while below there rose the clamor of excited men and screeching
engines.  The crowd grew denser every moment, and surged again and
again nearer the building, packing solidly about the fire lines.  Hart
was borne along in the current.

"They've pulled the third alarm," one man said in his ear, chewing
excitedly on a piece of gum.  "There's more'n fifty in there yet!"

"They say the elevators are going still!" another one exclaimed.

"Where's the fire-escapes?"

"Must be on the rear or over by the alley.  There ain't none this side,
sure enough."

"Yes, they're in back," the architect said authoritatively.

He tried to think just where they were and where they opened in the
building, but could not remember.  A voice wailed dismally through a
megaphone:--

"Look out, boys!  Back!"

On the edge of the cornice appeared three little figures with a line of
hose.  At that height they looked like willing gnomes on the crust of a
flaming world.

"Gee!  Look at that roof!  Look at it!"

The cry from the megaphone had come too late.  Suddenly, without
warning, the top of the hotel rose straight into the air, and from the
sky above there sounded a great report, like the detonation of a cannon
at close range.  The roof had blown up.  For an instant darkness
followed, as if the flame had been smothered, snuffed out.  Then with a
mighty roar the pent-up gases that had caused the explosion ignited and
burst forth in a broad sheet of beautiful blue flame, covering the
doomed building with a crown of fire.

Hart looked for the men with the hose.  One had caught on the sloping
roof of a line of bay windows, and clung there desperately seven
stories above the ground.

"He's a goner!" some one near him groaned.

Large strips of burning tar paper began to float above the heads of the
crowd, causing a stampede.  In the rush, Hart got nearer the fire
lines, more immediately in front of the hotel, which irresistibly drew
him closer.  Now he could hear the roar of the flame as it swept
through the upper stories and streamed out into the dark night.  The
fierce light illumined the silk streamer, which still waved from the
pole at the corner of the building, untouched by the explosion.  Across
the east wall, under the cornice, was painted the sign: THE GLENMORE
FAMILY HOTEL; and beneath, in letters of boastful size, FIREPROOF
BUILDING.  Tongues of flame danced over the words.

The policeman at the line pointed derisively to the legend with his
billy.

"Now ain't that fireproof!"

"Burns like rotten timber!" a man answered.

It was going frightfully fast!  The flames were now galloping through
the upper stories, sweeping the lofty structure from end to end, and
smoke had begun to pour from many points in the lower stories, showing
that the fount of flame had its roots far down in the heart of the
building.  Vague reports circulated through the crowd: A hundred people
or more were still in the hotel.  All were out.  Thirty were penned in
the rear rooms of the sixth floor.  One elevator was still running.  It
had been caught at the time of the explosion, etc....  For the moment
the firemen were making their fight in the rear, and the north front
was left in a splendid peace of silent flame and smoke--a spectacle for
the crowd in the street.

Within the lofty structure, the architect realized vaguely, there was
being enacted one of those modern tragedies which mock the pride and
vanity of man.  In that furnace human beings were fighting for their
lives, or, penned in, cut off by the swift flames, were waiting in
delirious fear for aid that was beyond the power of men to give them.
A terrible horror clutched him.  It was his building which was being
eaten up like grass before the flame.  He dodged beneath the fire line
and began to run toward the east end, driven by a wild impulse that he
could not control.  He must do something,--must help!  It was his
building; he knew it from cornice to foundation; he might know how to
get at those within!  A policeman seized him roughly and thrust him
back behind the line.  He fought his way to the front again, while the
dense crowd elbowed and cursed him.  He lost his hat; his coat was half
torn from his shoulders.  But he struggled frantically forward.

"You here, Hart!  What are you after?"

Some one stretched out a detaining hand and drew him out of the press.
It was Cook, his draughtsman.  Cook was chewing gum, his jaws working
nervously, grinding and biting viciously in his excitement.  The fierce
glare revealed the deep lines of the man's face.

"You can't get out that way.  The street's packed solid!" Cook bellowed
into his ear.  "God alive, how fast it's going!  That's your steel
frame, tile partition, fireproof construction, is it?  To hell with it!"

Suddenly he clutched the architect's arm again and shouted:--

"Where are the east-side fire-escapes?  I can't see nothing up that
wall, can you?"

The architect peered through the wreaths of smoke.  There should have
been an iron ladder between every two tiers of bay windows on this side
of the building.

"They are all in back," he answered, remembering now that the
contractor had cut out those on the east wall as a "disfigurement."
"Let's get around to the rear," he shouted to the draughtsman, his
anxiety whipping him once more.

After a time they managed to reach an alley at the southwest angle of
the hotel, where two engines were pumping from a hydrant.  Here they
could see the reach of the south wall, up which stretched the spidery
lines of a single fire-escape.  Cook pointed to it in mute wonder and
disgust.

"It's just a question if the beams will hold into the walls until they
can get all the folks out," he shouted.  "I heard that one elevator boy
was still running his machine and taking 'em down.  As long as the
floors hold together, he can run his elevator.  But don't talk to me
about your fireproof hotels!  Why, the bloody thing ain't been burning
twenty minutes, and look at it!"

As he spoke there was a shrill whistle from the fire marshal, and then
a wrenching, crashing, plunging noise, like the sound of an avalanche.
The upper part of the east wall had gone, toppling outward into the
alley like the side of a fragile box.  In another moment followed a
lesser crash.  The upper floors had collapsed, slipping down into the
inner gulf of the building.  There was a time of silence and awful
quiet; but almost immediately the blue flames, shot with orange, leaped
upward once more.  From the precipitous wall above, along the line of
the fire-escape, came horrid human cries, and in the blinding smoke and
flame appeared a dozen figures clinging here and there to the window
frames like insects, as if the heat had driven them outward.

Cook swayed against the architect like a man with nausea.

"They're done for now, sure, all that ain't out.  And I guess there
ain't many out.  It just slumped, just slumped," he repeated with a
nervous quiver of the mouth.  Suddenly he turned his pale face to the
architect and glared into his eyes.

"Damn you, you son of a bitch!  Damn you--you--" he stammered, shaking
his fist at him.  "There wasn't any steel in the bloody box!  It was
rotten cheese.  That's you, you, you!"  He turned and ran toward the
burning mass, distracted, shouting as he ran: "Rotten cheese!  Just
rotten cheese!"

But the architect still stood there in the alley, rooted in horror,
stupefied.  High above him, in a window of the south wall, which was
still untouched by the fire, he saw a woman crouching on the narrow
ledge of the brick sill.  She clung with one hand to an awning rope and
put the other before her eyes.  He shouted something to her, but he
could not hear the sound of his own voice.  She swayed back and forth,
and then as a swirl of flame shot up in the room behind her, she fell
forward into the abyss of the night....  A boy's face appeared at one
of the lower windows.  He was trying to break the pane of heavy glass.
Finally he smashed a hole with his fist and stood there, dazed, staring
down into the alley; then he dropped backward into the room, and a jet
of smoke poured from the vent he had made.

In front of the hotel there were fresh shouts; they were using the
nets, now.  The architect covered his face with his hands, and moaning
to himself began to run, to flee from the horrible spot.  But a cry
arrested him, a wail of multitudinous voices, which rose above the
throb of the engines, the crackle of the fire, all the tumult of the
catastrophe.  He looked up once more to the fire-eaten ruin.  The lofty
south wall, hitherto intact, had begun to waver along the east edge.
It tottered, hung, then slid backward, shaking off the figures on the
fire-escape as if they had been frozen flies....  He put his hands to
his eyes and ran.  He could hear the crowd in the street groaning with
rage and pity.  As he ran he saw beside the park a line of ambulances
and patrol wagons ready for their burdens.


How long he ran, or in what direction, he never knew.  He had a dim
memory of himself, sitting in some place with a bottle of whiskey
before him.  The liquor seemed to make no impression on his brain; his
hand still shook with the paralysis of fear.  He remembered his efforts
to pour whiskey into the glass without spilling it.  After a time a
face, vaguely familiar, entered his nightmare, and the man, who carried
a little black bag such as doctors use, sat down beside him and shouted
at him:--

"What are you doing here?  What do you want with that whiskey?  Give it
to me.  You have had all the booze that's good for you, I guess."

And in his stupor he said to the man tearfully:--

"Don't take it away, doctor.  For heaven's sake don't take the whiskey
away!  I tell you, I have killed people to-night.  Eight, ten,
forty--no, I killed eight people.  Yes, eight men and women.  I see 'em
dying now.  Give me the whiskey!"

"You're off your nut, man," the doctor replied impatiently.  "You
haven't killed any one.  You have been boozing, and you'll kill
yourself if you don't quit.  Here, give me that!"

He remembered rising to his feet obediently and saying very solemnly:--

"Very well, my friend, I won't drink any more if you say so.  But
listen to me.  I killed a lot of people, eight of 'em, and I don't know
how many more besides--over there in a great fire.  I saw 'em dying,
like flies, like flies!  Now give me one more drink."

"All right, you killed 'em, if you say so."

"Don't leave me, doctor!  It's a terrible thing to kill so many people,
all at once, like flies, like flies!"

And he burst into tears, sobbing and shaking with the awful visions of
his brain, his head buried in his arms.



CHAPTER XXVI

The next morning Hart found himself on a sofa in a bare, dusky room
that looked as if it was a doctor's office.  He sat up and tried to
think what had happened to him overnight.  Suddenly the picture of the
burning hotel swept across his memory, and he groaned with a fresh
sense of sharp pain.  Some one was whistling in the next room, and
presently the door opened, and Dr. Coburn appeared in trousers and
undershirt, mopping his face with a towel.  The architect recognized
him now, and knew that he was the one who had struggled with him in his
dreams.

"Hello, Jack Hart!" the doctor called out boisterously.  "How are you
feeling?  Kind of dopey?  My, but you were full of booze last night!  I
had to jam a hypodermic into you to keep you quiet, when I got you over
here.  Do you get that way often?"

"Was I drunk?" the architect asked dully.

"Well, I rather think.  Don't you feel it this morning?"

He grinned at the dishevelled figure on the sofa and continued to mop
his face.

"You were talking dotty, too, about killing folks.  I thought maybe you
might have a gun on you.  But I couldn't find anything.  What have you
been doing?"

"It was the fire," Hart answered slowly, "a terrible fire.  People were
killed--I saw them.  My God! it was awful!"

He buried his face in his hands and shuddered.

"Shook you up considerable, did it?  Your nerves are off.  Here, wait a
minute!  I'll fix you something."

The doctor went back into the inner room and returned presently with a
small glass.

"Drink this.  It will give you some nerve."

The architect took the stimulant and then lay down once more with his
face to the wall.  Before long he pulled himself together and drank a
cup of coffee, which the doctor had prepared.  Then he took himself
off, saying that he must get to his office at once.  He went away in a
daze, barely thanking the doctor for his kindness.  When he had left,
Coburn began to whistle again, thinking, "There's something more'n
drink or that fire the matter with _him_!"


Hart bought a newspaper at the first stand.  It was swelled with pages
of coarse cuts and "stories" of the "Glenmore Hotel Tragedy."  On the
elevated train, which he took to reach the city, all the passengers
were buried in the voluminous sheets of their newspapers, avidly
sucking in the details of the disaster.  For a time he stared at the
great cut on the first page of his paper, which purported to represent
the scene at the fire when the south wall fell.  But in its place he
saw the sheer stretch of pitiless wall, the miserable figures on the
iron ladder being swept into the flames.  Then he read the headlines of
the account of the fire.  Seventeen persons known to have been in the
hotel were missing; the bodies of ten had been found.  Had it not been
for the heroism of a colored elevator boy, Morris by name, who ran his
car up and down seven times through the burning shaft, the death list
would have been far longer.  On the second trip, so the account ran,
the elevator had been caught by a broken gate on the third floor.
Morris had coolly run his car back to the top, then opened the lever to
full speed, and crashed his way triumphantly through the obstacle.  It
was one of those acts of unexpected intelligence, daring, and devotion
to duty which bring tears to the eyes of thousands all over the land.
The brave fellow had been caught in the collapse of the upper floors,
and his body had not yet been found.  It was buried under tons of brick
and iron in the wrecked building.

The newspaper account wandered on, column after column, repeating
itself again and again, confused, endlessly prolix, but in the waste of
irrelevancy a few facts slowly emerged.  The Glenmore, fortunately, had
not been half full.  It had been opened only six weeks before as a
family hotel,--one of those shoddy places where flock young married
people with the intention of avoiding the cares of children and the
trials of housekeeping in modest homes; where there is music twice a
week and dancing on Saturday evenings; where the lower windows are
curtained by cheap lace bearing large monograms, and electric candles
and carnations are provided for each table in the dining-room.  Another
year from this time there would have been three or four hundred people
in the burning tinder box.

The fire had started somewhere in the rear of the second floor, from
defective electric wiring, it was supposed, and had shot up the rear
elevator shaft, which had no pretence of fireproof protection.  The
east wall had bulged almost at once, pulling out the supports for the
upper three floors.  It was to be doubted whether the beams,
bearing-walls, and main partitions were of fireproof materials.  The
charred remains of Georgia pine and northern spruce seemed to indicate
that they were not.  At any rate, the incredible rapidity with which
the fire had spread and the dense smoke showed that the "fireproofing"
was of the flimsiest description.  And, to cap all, there was but one
small fire-escape on the rear wall, difficult of access!  "The
Glenmore," so the Chicago _Thunderer_ pronounced, "was nothing but an
ornamental coffin."

Editorially, the _Thunderer_ had already begun its denunciation of the
building department for permitting a contractor to erect such an
obvious "fire-trap," and for granting the lessees a license to open it
as a hotel.  There had been too many similar horrors of late,--the
lodging-house on West Polk Street, where five persons had lost their
lives, the private hospital on the North Side, where fourteen men and
women had been burned, etc.  In all these cases it was known that the
building ordinances had been most flagrantly violated.  There was the
usual clamor for "investigation," for "locating the blame," and
"bringing the real culprits before the Grand Jury."  It should be said
that the _Thunderer_ was opposed politically to the City Hall.


In the architect's office there was an air of subdued excitement.  No
work was in progress when Hart let himself into his private room from
the hall.  Instead, the men were poring over the broad sheets of the
newspapers spread out on the tables.  When he stepped into the
draughting-room, they began awkwardly to fold up the papers and start
their work.  Cook, Hart noticed, was not there.  The stenographer came
in from the outer office and announced curtly:--

"The 'phone's been ringing every minute, Mr. Hart."  She looked at the
architect with mingled aloofness and curiosity.  "They were mostly
calls from the papers, and some of the reporters are in there now,
waiting.  What shall I say to 'em?"

"Say I am out of town," Hart ordered, giving the usual formula when
reporters called at the office.  Then he went back to his private room
and shut the door.  He dropped the bulky newspaper on the floor and
tried to think what he should do.  There were some memoranda on the
desk of alterations which he was to make in a country house, and these
he took up to examine.  Soon his desk telephone rang, and when he put
the receiver to his ear, Graves's familiar tones came whispering over
the line.  The contractor talked through the telephone in a subdued
voice, as if he thought to escape eavesdropping at the central office
by whispering.

"Is that you, Hart?  Where have you been?  I've been trying to get you
all the morning.  Say, can't you come over here quick?"

"What do you want?" the architect demanded sharply.  The sound of the
man's voice irritated him.

"Well, I want a good many things," Graves replied coldly.  "I guess we
had better get together on this business pretty soon."

"You can find me over here the rest of the morning," Hart answered
curtly.

There was a pause of several seconds, and then the contractor
telephoned cautiously:--

"Say, I can't leave just now.  That Dutchman's in here pretty drunk,
and I don't want him to get loose.  Come over, quick!"

"All right," the architect muttered dully, hanging up his telephone.
He was minded to refuse, but he realized that it would be best to see
what was the matter.  Some plan of action must be decided upon.  Meyer
was one of the officers and directors of the Glenmore Hotel
Corporation.  The architect and a couple of clerks in the contractor's
office were the other dummies in this corporation, which had been
organized solely to create bonds and stock and to escape personal
liability.

Hart gathered up the memoranda on his desk, and telling the
stenographer that he was going out to Eversley to see the Dixon house,
he left the office.  As he stepped into the hall, he met Cook, who had
just come from the elevator.  He nodded to the draughtsman and hailed a
descending car.

"Say, Hart," Cook said in a quiet voice, "can I have a word with you?"

Hart stepped back into the hall and waited to hear what the draughtsman
had to say.

"I must have been pretty near crazed last night, I guess," Cook began,
turning his face away from the architect, "and I said things I had no
call to say."

"Come in," Hart murmured, unlocking the door to his private office.

"Of course, it wasn't my business, anyway," Cook continued, "to accuse
you, no matter what happened.  But I saw a friend of mine this morning,
a man on the _Thunderer_, and he had just come from the city hall,
where he'd been to examine the Glenmore plans.  He says they're all
right.  Same as ours in the office.  I can't understand what happened
to the old thing unless Graves--  Well, that's not our business."

There was a pause, while the two men stood and looked at each other.
Finally Cook added:--

"So I wanted to tell you I was wrong,--I had no call to talk that way."

"That's all right, Cook," the architect replied slowly.  Somehow the
man's apology hurt him more than his curses.  They still stood waiting.
Suddenly Hart exclaimed:--

"You needn't apologize, man!  The plans are all right.  But that
doesn't let me out.  I knew what Graves was going to do with 'em.  I
knew it from the start."

"What do you say?" the draughtsman demanded, bewildered.

"The hotel was a job from the start," Hart repeated.

There was another pause, which was broken by Cook.

"Well, I suppose after this you won't want me any more?"

"I suppose not," the architect answered in a colorless tone.

"All right; I'll go to-day if you say so."

"As you please."

And they parted.  Cook was an honest, whole-souled man.  It was best
that he should leave the office, Hart reflected, as he went down in the
elevator--best for Cook and for him too.  The draughtsman's admiration
for him had been his daily incense, and it would be intolerable to see
him daily with this matter between them, even if Cook would stay.

Hart found Graves in his inner office, while a clerk held at bay a
roomful of men who wanted to get at the contractor.  Graves looked
serious, but undisturbed, manifesting no more outward emotion than if
he had come from the funeral of a distant relative.

"It's a pretty bad mess, ain't it?" he said to the architect, offering
him a cigar.  "I guess you were right.  Those first story walls weren't
solid.  They must have bulged and pulled the whole business down....
Of course the papers are hot.  They always yap considerable when
anything happens.  They'll spit fire a week or so, and then forget all
about it.  Everything is straight over at the city hall so far.
There'll be the coroner's inquest, of course.  But he won't find much.
The only danger is this cuss Meyer.  He's been on a spree and is pretty
well shook up.  If they get hold of him, and ask him questions at the
inquest, he's liable to tell all he knows, and more too.  What I want
you to do is to take care of the Dutchman."

"What do you mean to do about the inquest?" Hart asked abruptly.

"Do?  Well, the best thing for all of us who have been concerned with
the Glenmore is to be called out of the city for two or three weeks or
so.  I have got to go to Philadelphia to-night or to-morrow, if I can
get away.  Gotz will be here to go on the stand if they want to get
after the hotel corporation.  They won't make much out of him.  Now, if
you can take care of the Dutchman--"

"What do you mean?"

Graves looked at the architect critically before answering.

"Don't lose your nerve, Hart.  It'll come out all right.  I've seen my
lawyer this morning, and I know just what they can do with us, and it
ain't much.  They can get after the building department, but they're
used to that.  And they can bring a civil suit against the corporation,
which will do no harm.  You keep out of the way for a while, and you
won't get hurt a particle.  Take the Dutchman up to Milwaukee and drown
him.  Keep him drunk--he's two-thirds full now.  Lucky he came here
instead of blabbing to one of those newspaper fellers!  Keep him drunk,
and ship him up north on the lakes.  By the time he finds his way back,
his story won't be worth telling."

Hart looked at the big mass of a man before him, and loathed him with
all his being.  He wanted to take him by one of his furry ears and
shake the flesh from his bones.  The same impulse that had prompted him
to admit his guilt to Cook, the impulse to free his mind from the
intolerable coil of fraud, cost what it might, was stirring again
within him.

"Well?" Graves inquired.

"I am going to quit," the architect said, almost involuntarily.  "I'm
sick of the business, and I shan't run away.  You can look after Meyer
yourself--"

"Perhaps you're looking for some money, too?" the contractor sneered.

"No more of yours, I know that!" Hart answered, rising from his chair
and taking his hat.  "I'm sick of the whole dirty job, and if they want
me to, I'll talk, too, I suppose."

"You damned, white-livered sneak!  Ain't you got enough gut in you to
sit tight?  You--"

But the contractor was swearing at the blank wall of his office.

When the architect reached the street he hesitated.  Instead of taking
the train for Eversley, as he had intended to do, he got on an electric
car that ran far out into the northern suburbs.  He kept saying to
himself that he wanted time to think, that he must think it all out
before he returned to his office.  For he was not yet sure that it
would be best to stay and bear the brunt of the coming investigation,
as he had said to the contractor.  He was not clear whether that would
do any good.

But he did not think.  Instead, he brooded over the visions of the past
night, which beset him.  When the car stopped he got out and walked
north along the lake shore, vaguely intending to reach Eversley in that
way.  He was still trying to think, but he saw nothing clearly--nothing
but that terrible picture of the burning hotel, the dying men and
women.  Thus he walked on and on, still trying to think, to find
himself....



CHAPTER XXVII

... He had been lying there long hours close to the warm earth that was
preparing for a new life.  The thin branches of the trees rose bare and
severe between him and the blue sky, mementos of the silent winter.
The ground about their trunks was matted with dead leaves, through
which nothing green had yet pushed its way.  Nevertheless, the earth
seemed yeasty with promise.  The intense, unwonted heat of the April
days had broken the crust of soil and set the sap of life in motion
once more.  The air was heavy with earthy odors,--a fragrant forecast
of Nature's regeneration.  Deep down in the little ravines, and among
the pools of the meadowland beyond, frogs were croaking harshly,
filling the solitude of the still slumbering woods with the clamor of
awakening life.  And through the brown tree trunks, above the tracery
of the topmost branches, over the flat fields, there swam the haze of
earliest spring--a vague atmosphere of renascence, the warm breath of
mother earth.

The man lay there, empty of thought, feeling remotely the mighty
movement of things around him--an inert mass in a vital world.  The
odors of the earth stirred in him faintly old sensations of vivid
springtimes in his youth, when the ecstasy of the great world of sun
and sky and cloud, of distant fields and mounting uplands, had thrilled
his heart.  He saw again the morning mist swimming above the little
Wisconsin lakes where he used to hunt, and felt the throb of joy for
the on-coming spring.  And he remembered how this outer world had
spoken to him one day while he was sitting at his work in Paris.
Something imperceptible had crept into the room over the endless roofs,
and called to him in a low, persistent voice.  Then he had listened,
joyously putting aside his task, and obeyed the invitation, wandering
idly forth into the germinating fields, which in some mysterious way
had purified his soul of all petty things.  In his youth that
experience had come to him again and again, an impulse from beyond his
world, which had led him forth from himself, from the soil of living,
to fresh vigor and purity.  Latterly there had come to him no call like
this; he had known no abandonment of self in the enveloping force of
Nature, no purification of spirit.  The trees and the grass, the earth
and the sky, all the multitudinous voices of unconscious life, had not
spoken to him.  Shut within himself, driven by the bitter furies of his
own little being, he had worked from season to season, forgetting the
face of Nature.  True, he had lived the outdoor life of the world,
passed through the beautiful fields each season, just as he had gone to
the theatre or the opera.  But the earth had not spoken to him, alone,
personally, out of her abundant wisdom, garnered through the limitless
years.  For all the period of his maturity he had forgotten the great
mother of life.

Now, wrecked and bruised, he lay there on her breast, as a sick man
might lie in the silent room of a hospital and listen to the large
commotion of life without.  He was content to rest there on the warm
earth, waiting and listening for the voice which should come from
beyond, content to forget himself,--a creature that had been
industriously shaped for eight busy years, a creature of the city and
of men, with a self that was his in part only, and was mixed with all
those others whom he had touched.  That figure of deformity, made in
the strife of the city, he no longer recognized to be his.  The richer
heart of youth, with its pictured hopes, the beauty of early days, came
back to him and blessed him....  The sun sank into the deepening blue
haze of the heavens; the thin shadows of the trees faded from the brown
earth; the south wind from the prairies began to rise, blowing
strongly, scented by the breeding land over which it had come.  And as
the day drew to its close, the murmuring voices of re-created life
ascended from all parts of the earth with a strengthened note.  The
tree-toads were chorusing in the damp hollows, and the spice of roots
and mould sucked out by the hot sun was descending once more in damp
fragrance to the earth.  The moist, crumbling soil beneath the man's
body was opening itself--stirring, awakening, preparing, for the
gigantic tasks of renewal, of re-creation, of conception and birth.  An
immense, powerful, impersonal life, the greatest Life of all, was going
forward all about him.  In the midst of this large mystery he felt that
he was but an atom--an accident which counted for nothing.

That terrible vision of dying men and women no longer haunted the man's
mind.  The catastrophe which had shaken him to the roots of his being
sank into its place behind the long procession of those acts, which had
made him what he was.  Now, at last, he began to think coherently, to
see himself in the whole of his being, step by step, as he had come to
be.  The old man's death and funeral rose before him, and he remembered
his restless preoccupation with the money so soon to be his, while
others sorrowed and prayed.  Then came the will, which he had resented,
and the growing lust for the money that had slipped from his grasp.
Born of that lust, bred in envy and hot desire, was the will to
succeed.  From the first day of his struggle for success there came
before his eyes the man Graves.  The contractor's fat, bearded face was
the sordid image of his sin, familiar in its cupidinous look.  It was
the image of that greed to which he had submitted himself, with which
he had consented to do evil.  From the very hour when he had caught the
contractor's eye in the Canostota, and the two had committed fraud over
the weight of steel in an I-beam, there had set forth a long, long
train of petty dishonesties, which had created in him the vitiating
habit of insincerity.  One by one he recalled the fraudulent works in
which he had had a part,--the school from which he had tried to steal
some of the money his uncle had denied him, and finally this hotel,
which had crumbled at the touch of fire.  That was the strange,
dramatic climax of the story, fated so to be from the first petty lust
for money, from the first fraud.

Greed, greed!  The spirit of greed had eaten him through and through,
the lust for money, the desire for the fat things of the world, the
ambition to ride high among his fellows.  In the world where he had
lived this passion had a dignified name; it was called enterprise and
ambition.  But now he saw it for what it was,--greed and lust, nothing
more.  It was in the air of the city which he had breathed for eight
years....  In his pride he had justified knavery by Success.  He had
judged himself mean and small merely because he had failed to cheat and
steal and trick "in a large way."  Only the little and the weak need be
honest; to the strong all things were right--he had said glibly.  Now,
for the first day since the strength of his manhood, he saw acts, not
blurred by his own passions, not shifting with the opinions of the day;
but he saw them fixed and hard,--living, human acts, each one in its
own integrity, with its own irrevocable fate; acts expressed in lowered
eyelids of consent, in shrugs, in meaningful broken phrases; acts
unprofessional, sharp, dishonest, criminal.

He lay in the gathering twilight, listened, and saw.  And at last the
soul of the man, which had been long in hiding, came back, and flowed
into him once more.  A deep, new longing filled his heart, a desire to
be once again as he had been before, to rise from his debasement and
become clean, to slough off this parasitic self into which he had grown
all these years of his strife in the city, to be born anew like the
springtime earth--such longings as come to men when they are sickened
with the surfeit of their passions.

... He knew now why his wife had left him.  She had felt the leper
taint, which had been eating at his heart all the years of their
marriage, and had repudiated it.  She had cried out against the mere
getting and spending of money, to which low ebb those lofty ambitions
of his youth had descended before her eyes.  She had loved him as the
creator, the builder; and he had given her no visions, but only the
sensualities of modern wealth.  "Let us begin again and live the common
life," she had cried out to him.  "Let us live for work and not for
money."  He had put her aside with contempt, and refused to open the
dark places of his life to her.  Now he knew that she had done well to
leave him to his own day of judgment.  And the first impulse in the
man's new soul was to go to her, humbly, and say to her: "You were
right.  I have sinned against myself, against you, against life, all
along the way.  Will you accept my repentance, and love me again from
the beginning, knowing now the truth?"  Ardently he desired to hear her
answer; but his heart left him in doubt as to what that answer might
be.  For he understood at last that he had never known this woman, who
had been his wife for eight years.

Nevertheless, despite this hunger of his heart for the woman he loved,
there rose in him slowly a purging sense of relief from crime and sin
committed.  It had passed away, was put off from himself.  Surely he
was to come once more into peace!  The upspringing life of the
reincarnated earth chanted all about him but one song: "Here I leave my
uncleanness.  Life is strong and good.  There is, for all, forgiveness
and peace.  Here I bury the filth of my deeds, and renew my hope."
Thus man rises again and again from the depths of his abasement; thus
springs in him a new hope, a vital, imperishable element, the soul of
his being; and he is prepared afresh for the struggle.  Deep within him
there lies forever the unconquerable conviction of his power to rise,
to renew himself.

So, after the tempest of debauch, little men wake from their carnal
desires, and, leaving behind them the uncleanness of their flesh, go
forth into the pure morning, subdued and ashamed, yet irresistibly sure
that life is good and holds forgiveness and hope for them.  With the
new day they will become like their dreams, clean and pure.  Thus,
also, those larger men, not eaten by bodily lusts, those greater
sinners who are caught on the whirling spikes of bolder passions, who
are torn and twisted--these, also, return at certain hours to the soul
within them, and renew there the pure fire of their natures, so that
they may enter again the endless contest having hope and health.  Thus,
above all, the great heart of things, the abundant mother of life, the
earth, renews herself eternally according to the laws of her being, and
comes forth afresh and undiminished for the business of living.

The mere lump of man lying there inert upon the ground felt this great
process of renewal all about him, and sucked in fresh life and health.
In like manner, years before, in his youth, he had gone down to the
sea, and there had known something of this mysterious sensation of
renewal.  His body plunged in cool, black sea-water, he had drawn
through the pores of his flesh the elemental currents of life.  He
longed now to escape again from men, to go down to the sea and touch
those waters washing in from their remote tidal courses up and down the
earth.  By such means Nature cleanses and teaches man.  Heedless of
man, unconcerned with his follies and vices, impersonal, irresistible,
majestic, she receives his head upon her breast, and renews within him
his spirit,--the power to battle, the power to live.


The fruitful earth holds in her bosom death and life, both together,
and out of her comes health.  In like manner there lie in the heart of
man diverse instincts,--seeds of good and evil, ready to germinate.
For long seasons seeds of one kind burst forth in the soil of a man's
nature and thrive.  Accident, the intricate web of fate, gives them
their fit soil, their heat, their germinating impulse.  And the world
about them, seeing the fruit of these seeds alone, calls the man good
or bad, and thus makes its rude analysis of character, as something set
and fixed, stamped upon the soul forever.  But in their own time other
seeds, perchance ripening late and slowly, come to their day of
germination, seeds of unlike nature, with diverse fruit.  Such sprout
and send their life forth into the man, creating a new nature which the
world will not recognize as his.  Thus it was happening with this man:
commingled in his heart and brain there had lain diverse seeds of many
kinds,--seeds of decay and seeds of life.  Impulses of creative
purpose, of unselfish work--these had been long dormant; impulses of
lust and greed and deceit--these had grown rankly in the feverish life
of the city until they had flowered in crime.  Now had come to him the
time of fate; the first harvest of his acts was garnered; and the new
seeds of his life were ready to wake from their sleep in the depths of
his being, to put forth their energies, their demands.  Some great
shock--the agony of dying men and women--had quickened this new growth.
So happened the miracle of rebirth, hidden far away from all human
observation, first revealing itself in the consciousness of
purification and renewed health.


The song of the springtime earth rose ever upward, calming and healing
the man, who at last had caught its message.  It said to him: "Another
sun, a new day, an earth ever fresh from the hand of God!  Eternal
hope--the burial of the corrupt body with its misdeeds; health, and not
decay; life, and not death.  For life is good.  There is forgiveness
and renewal for all those who heed." ... Through the misty heavens
above the trees the stars glimmered faintly.  Over the prairie, fields,
and woodland the night wind passed, soft, odorous, charged with the
breath of the earth in the conceiving time of life....

Under the starlight of the spring night there might be seen the figure
of a man walking southward toward the black horizon of the great city.
He walked neither fast nor slow, but steadily, evenly, as if urged by
one powerful purpose,--some magnetic end that set his nerves and his
muscles to the rhythm of action.



CHAPTER XXVIII

The architect had a long time to wait in Wheeler's office that morning.
The lawyer rarely came in before ten, so the stenographer said, looking
suspiciously into the man's white, unshaven face.  She knew Hart quite
well, and she was wondering what was the matter with him--whether he
was in trouble or had been on a spree overnight.  He sat in one of the
armchairs of the outer office provided for waiting clients, and,
absorbed in his own thoughts, stared at the square of green carpet
beneath his feet.  When Wheeler finally entered, he threw a careless
glance at the seated figure and said blankly:--

"Come in here!"

The lawyer opened the door to his little office, where he had confessed
many a man, and without a word pointed to a chair beside his littered
desk.  Then he sat down and waited, examining the architect's face with
his dispassionate eyes.

"Everett, I wanted to see you about something," Hart began.  Then he
stopped as though surprised by his own voice, which sounded far away,
unfamiliar, and unused.  The lawyer waited a moment for him to
continue, and then he asked in his indifferent manner:--

"So you wanted to see me?"

"Yes, I want to tell you something," Jackson began again.

The lawyer wheeled toward his desk, and picked up a little silver
letter-opener, which he fingered.

"About that fire?" he asked.

"Yes--that and other things."

Wheeler went to the door, closed it, and returning to his chair,
wheeled his face away from his cousin.

"Well, what about it?"

"You know--you saw it in the papers--how the Glenmore burned?  It was
one of Graves's buildings, and I did the plans for him.  Well, the
newspapers were right; there was crooked work.  The plans were all
altered after they had been through the building department.  Graves is
in with the whole gang over there.  He has all the inspectors in his
pocket."

Then Hart paused again.  He was not saying what he came there to tell.
His mind seemed strangely unreliant and confused.  While he stumbled,
the frown on his cousin's face deepened into an ugly crease between the
eyes.  It said as plainly as words, "What in hell do you come here for,
blabbing this to me?"  Jackson, reading the look, caught himself and
continued more steadily:--

"But I didn't come here to talk of the fire.  It's about the school.
Pemberton was right about that.  It was crooked, too.  I want to tell
you what I know about that."

Wheeler put down the letter-opener and rested his chin on the tips of
his fingers.  The architect told his story slowly, without excitement,
trying to give all the details and the exact figures, busying himself
with being precise.  The matter was complicated, and it led him to
speak again of the hotel and of other affairs, of his entire connection
with the contractor,--to tell the complete story of his business career
in the city.  The lawyer did not try to stop him, although his face
betrayed no special interest or desire to comment.

"Well, the upshot of the matter is," Hart ended, "that I am through
with the whole business, Everett.  I am going to get out of it somehow
and square what I can.  And first, I wanted you to know the truth about
the school, and to take this for the trustees."

He laid on the desk a large, fat envelope, which he had filled that
morning from his safety deposit box.

"There's about thirty thousand there, in stocks and bonds and some
land.  I thought I wouldn't wait to put it into cash," he explained.
"It's pretty nearly all I have got, Everett.  Part of that stock in the
Glenmore which Graves gave me represented my legitimate commission on
the building, but I have put that in, too.  You can force Graves to
make good the rest.  I can figure out for you what he should pay.  And
I'll do what I can to help you make him do the right thing.  If you
can't get hold of Graves, why, I'm ready to give you my personal note
for the rest and pay it as soon as I can."

Wheeler poked the envelope on the desk without taking it up.

"Conscience money?" he remarked slowly.  "I don't want your wad.  I
wish you had chucked it in the river, done anything with it but brought
it here, fixed that matter up once, didn't I?"

Hart was able to realize the contempt, the ironical humor, with which
the lawyer's tone was charged, and his lips tightened.  But he made no
reply.  After the experiences of the last two days he cared little for
what his cousin might say or think.  In some manner he had passed
completely outside of the world where such matters counted.  He was for
the time dulled to all but a few considerations.

"Say," the lawyer iterated, "I thought we'd closed that little matter
for good.  But I can tell you there's one person who'll be tickled," he
laughed disgustedly.  "And that's old Pemberton.  He thought you were a
scamp from the word go.  Now he'll be well set up when the judge tells
him this.  He'll take an irreligious pleasure in it."

Jackson said nothing, and the two men faced each other sombrely.
Finally the lawyer exclaimed:--

"So you lost your nerve!"

It had not presented itself to the architect in that way, and he winced
perceptibly as he replied:--

"Well, you can call it that.  And I guess that if you had seen those
people dropping into that burning building, and known what I knew about
the way it was put together--  Well, what's the use of talking!  I am
done with the whole thing--done with it for good."

The lawyer eyed him sharply, unsympathetically, curious, in a cold
manner, of the psychology of the man before him.  Hart's sturdy body,
which was a trifle inclined to fleshiness, seemed to have shrunken and
to be loose in his clothes.  The bones of his jaw came out heavily in
his unshaven face, and below his eyes the skin was black, shading into
gray.  His tweed office suit was rumpled out of shape, and there were
signs of the muddy roads on his trousers and boots.  Usually so careful
and tidy in dress, he seemed to have lost for once all consciousness of
his appearance.

Wheeler had never felt much respect for his cousin as a young man.
Then the lawyer considered him to be somewhat "light-weight," given to
feminine interests in art and literature, feeling himself to be above
his homely American environment.  But since their uncle's death Jackson
had won his approval by the practical ability he had shown in pushing
his way in the Chicago world, in getting together a flourishing
business, and making a success of his profession.  Now that there was
revealed to him the uncertain means by which this outward success had
been obtained, he reverted easily to his earlier judgment.  The man was
really a light-weight, a weakling, he concluded.  The lawyer despised
weaklings; they made the real troubles in this life.  He could not see
to its depth the tragedy before him, even as the stern Pemberton might
have seen it.  He merely saw another nasty mess, a scandal that would
probably get about the city, even if his cousin and the contractor
escaped the Grand Jury for this Glenmore affair.  He had little use for
men who went wrong and "lost their nerve."

"Well," he said at last, "you needn't bother about that note just yet.
You'll have troubles enough for one while, I expect.  I suppose I shall
have to take this, though,"--he tapped the fat envelope,--"and lay the
matter before the trustees.  I'll let you know what they decide to do."

"All right," Hart answered.  As he did not rise immediately from his
chair, the lawyer turned to his desk with an air of dismissal.  When
the architect at last got wearily to his feet, Wheeler asked, without
looking up:--

"Have you seen that man Graves this morning?"

"No, I went to the bank and then came here the first thing."

"He was in here to see me late yesterday.  He seemed afraid that you
might split on him in this Glenmore business."

Hart listened, his eyes looking over his cousin's head far out through
the office window, his mind concerned with other matters.

"Hadn't you better get out of the city for a few weeks?" the lawyer
suggested casually.  "Take a vacation.  You seem to need a rest, bad.
The papers'll quiet down after a while--they always do," he added
explanatorily.

As a matter of fact, he had promised the contractor that he would do
what he could to keep Hart from making any trouble.  It was obviously
best for the architect to be out of sight for the present, in some safe
place where he could not be got at for awkward explanations.

"I've been thinking of going away for a few days," Jackson replied
slowly, a flush spreading over his pallid face.  "I'm going on to the
Falls to see Helen.  But I shan't hide, if that's what you mean.  They
can find me when they want me.  And I shall be back before long,
anyway."

Wheeler did not tell him that the coroner had already formed his jury,
and that the first inquiry into the Glenmore fire was to begin the next
day.  If the architect had made up his mind to go to Vermont, it was
just as well that he should get away before he could be summoned by the
coroner.

"Well," he said, taking another look at his cousin, "whatever you do,
get your nerve together.  Men like you shouldn't play with fire.
They'd better stick to the straight game."

The architect knew well enough what that meant.  If he had been some
cunning promoter who had had the wit to swindle the public out of any
sum of money that ran into the millions, or if he had been some banker
who had known how to ruin the credit of an enterprise which he wished
to buy cheaply, Wheeler would have extended to him a cynical tolerance,
and if his honesty were questioned, would have admitted merely that
"there were stories about, of course--there always were stories when a
man was smart enough to make some money quick."  But, unfortunately, he
belonged to the category of unsuccessful, petty criminals, and he "had
lost his nerve."

He realized all this, and yet in the wreck which he had made of his
life, he was indifferent to the world's injustice.  What men thought or
said about him had marvellously little importance just now.  This
crisis had wonderfully simplified life for him; he saw a few things
which must be done, and to these he was setting himself with a slow
will.  His face, as he gazed down at his cousin, held new, grave lines,
which gave it a sort of manliness that it had not possessed before.

"You'd better see Graves before you leave, and get together on this
thing," Wheeler concluded.  "You won't do any good by making a bad
matter worse and spreading the stink, you know."

"I can't see any use in talking with Graves," Jackson protested slowly.
"I saw him yesterday and told him my views.  He made me the treasurer
of his company, and I was the architect for the building.  If they get
me up and ask me questions--why, I shall tell what I know about it.
That's all there is to that."

"Well, we'll see about that when the time comes," the lawyer replied,
and then asked bluntly:--

"Are you going to tell Helen the whole story, too?"

"Yes.  That's why I'm going down there."  The architect's face turned
red with humiliation for the first time since he had begun his story.

"I suppose she'll have to know," Wheeler admitted softly.  "It will cut
her pretty deep."

He was wondering whether she could forgive this weak fellow, crawling
back to her now, his courage gone, broken for life, as he judged.  He
suspected that she might pardon him even now, though she had left him
inexplicably.  She would forgive her husband when he was at the end of
his rope; she was made that way.  The softness of character in such
women irritated him, for the moment.  There were other women whom he
liked and admired less than her,--Mrs. Phillips was one,--who would not
tolerate a flabby sinner like this man.  But to Helen, disgrace would
make little difference, perhaps would cause her to cling more closely
to the dishonored man.  And he was sorry for it all, because he loved
the woman, and he could feel her tragedy, though he was impervious to
the man's.

"Women have bum luck sometimes," he reflected aloud.  "They have to
take all the man's troubles as well as their own."  Then he added not
unkindly: "You had better think well what it means to her and to the
children before you do anything to make matters worse.  I'll keep an
eye on what goes on here and let you know if you're needed--if you can
do any good."

Neither offered to shake hands, and Hart went out of the office without
replying to the last remark.  In the vestibule of the building he
hesitated a moment, as if to get his bearings, and then slowly walked
down the crowded street in the direction of his office.  The city
sights were curiously foreign to him, as if he had come back to them
after a long period of absence.  The jostle of human beings on the
pavement, the roar of the streets, were like the meaningless gyrations
of a machine.  With a repugnance that weighted his steps, he turned in
at the door of his building and crowded into one of the cages that were
swallowing and disgorging their human burdens in the mid-forenoon.  In
his office there had settled an air of listless idleness, now that
Cook, the mainspring of the place, was no longer at his post.  Without
looking at the accumulated mail on his desk, Hart called the
stenographer and dictated to her some instructions for his partner,
Stewart, who had just landed in New York on his way home from a
vacation in Europe.  The girl received his dictation with an offish,
impertinent glance in her eyes that said, "Something's wrong with this
place, I guess."  When the architect had finished, she said:--

"Say, Graves was in here twice this morning and wanted me to let him
know as soon as you came in.  He wanted to know where you were.  What
shall I say to him?"

Hart thought a moment before replying.  He did not wish to see the
contractor,--that was very clear,--and yet he was unwilling to seem to
run away, to avoid the man.  Moreover, he realized vaguely since his
talk with his cousin that there was a certain claim in complicity.
There was trouble ahead for them both, surely, and Graves had his right
to be considered.

"If Mr. Graves calls, bring him in here," he said to the stenographer,
as he turned to his mail.

He had some final matters to attend to, and then he should take the
train.  If the contractor came back before he got away, he would see
him.  Half an hour later, while he was still tearing open his letters
and jotting notes for the answers, his door opened and Graves walked
in.  He had less assurance than on the afternoon before; the strain of
the situation was beginning to tell even on his coarse fibre.

"So you've come to!" he exclaimed with an attempt to be at his ease,
taking a chair beside the desk.

"What do you want?" the architect demanded sharply.

"Say, did you see the papers this morning?" Graves asked, ignoring the
question.

Hart shook his head; he had no curiosity to know what the newspapers
were saying.

"They're making an awful kick, worse than I expected.  It's mostly
politics, of course.  They've got the mayor on the run already.  He's
suspended the head of the department, and Bloom was a good friend of
mine.  That'll scare the rest considerable.  And then there's talk of
bringing civil suits against the hotel company and the officers
individually."

He paused to see what impression this news might make on the architect.

"They can't get much out of me," Hart answered quietly.  "I turned over
to Wheeler pretty nearly every dollar I have got.  That's on account of
the school business," he added, thinking the contractor would not
comprehend rightly his meaning.  "It came out of the school and might
as well go back to the trustees."

Graves stared at him in disgust.  He had had some idea of forcing the
architect to pay part of the expense of "keeping the City Hall quiet."
Now the man had outwitted him and put his money beyond his reach.

"So you've seen Mr. Wheeler?"

"Just come from there."

"He told you he'd help us out of this hole?"

"We didn't discuss it."

"I've seen to Meyer myself.  He's where he can't do no harm.  And I
guess it's all right over there,"--he pointed with his thumb in the
direction of the city hall,--"though it'll cost a sight of money if
those fellers lose their jobs.  Now, if we keep quiet, they can't do
nothing but bring their suits for damages.  I ain't afraid of that."

"I suppose not," Hart replied dryly.  "It doesn't touch you.  They're
all straw names in the corporation papers but mine, aren't they?"

"Just now there's this damned coroner," Graves went on, ignoring the
last remark.  "The inquest begins to-morrow.  He'll try to fix the
blame, of course, and hold some one to the Grand Jury.  He's got to, to
quiet the papers."

"I suppose so," Hart assented wearily.

"But they've got nothing to go on if you only hold your tongue," Graves
ripped out incautiously.  "And you've got to hold your jaw!"

The man's dictatorial manner angered the architect.  He rose hastily
from his desk, gathering some papers and putting them into his bag.

"I told you yesterday, Graves, that I would have nothing more to do
with you in this Glenmore business.  I don't see what you came in here
for.  Let them go ahead and do what they can.  I'll stand for my share
of the trouble."

"You--" Graves burst out.  "You--"

"I've got an engagement now, Mr. Graves, and there's no use in our
talking this matter over any more."

He reached for his coat and hat.

"But I tell you, Hart, that you can't be a quitter in this business.
Didn't your cousin tell you that, too?"

"It makes no difference to me what he might say," Hart retorted
doggedly, holding open the door into the hall.

"I'll smash you, sure thing, if you do me up in this dirty way!"

The contractor crossed the room to where Hart stood, as if he meant to
strike then and there.  Hart looked at him indifferently.  The man
disgusted and irritated him; he wondered how he could ever have
submitted himself to him.  He held the door open, and Graves passed out
into the hall, which was empty.

"I'll smash you!" he repeated, less loudly.

"All right!" the architect muttered.  "I guess that won't matter much
now."

Graves kept by his side in the elevator, and followed him out into the
street.

"Say!  Step over to Burke's place with me," he urged in a more
conciliatory tone.

"See here!" the architect answered, stopping on the sidewalk.  "It's no
use talking, Graves, I've done with you and your methods.  Can't you
see that?  I don't intend to get you into trouble if I can help it.
But I don't mean to sneak out of this or tell any lies to save your
hide.  I'm on my way out of the city now, to see my family, and shall
be away for a few days.  Wheeler knows where I shall be, and he'll let
me know when I am wanted.  They won't get around to me for some little
time yet, probably.  If they summon me, why, I suppose I shall come
back."

The contractor, hearing that Hart was about to leave the city, felt
relieved for the moment.  It would be easier to deal with his cousin,
the lawyer, who might be able to keep the architect from making a fool
of himself.  So he walked on with Hart toward the station in a calmer
frame of mind.  As if he realized the mistake he had made in trying to
bully his accomplice, he began to put forward his personal difficulties
apologetically.

"This fire has hit me hard.  Of course the Glenmore will be a dead
loss, and the banks have begun to call my loans.  Then it'll take a lot
of ready money to keep those fellers over there quiet, in case the
Grand Jury takes a hand.  I was just getting where I couldn't be
touched when this fire came, and now I shall have to begin over pretty
nearly.  You don't know, Hart, what hard sledding it's been to build up
my business with nothing back of me to start on."

The architect realized that Graves was making an appeal to his
sympathies, and although the wheedling tone, so unlike the man's usual
blustering self-confidence, roused his contempt, he began to see more
dispassionately the contractor's point of view.  The man was fighting
for his life, and there could be nothing reasonable to him in a
determination to make a bad matter worse.  For no amount of truth now
could save those hapless victims of greed who had lost their lives in
the wretched building.

"I don't want to ruin my family no more than you do, Mr. Hart," the
contractor persisted.  "And you can't make me so much trouble as you
will yourself.  You can see that," he added meaningly.

Hart turned on the man angrily:--

"I have heard about enough, Graves!  It's no use your going on.  I tell
you I mean to come back and stand my share of the trouble--yes--if it
breaks me!  Do you hear?  If it breaks me!  Now good day."

The contractor turned away, scowling like a dog that had been kicked
into the street.  Hart hurried into the station and bought his ticket.
He had not looked up his eastern connections, remembering merely that
Helen had left Chicago by this road, and he took the first train east
in his overwhelming desire to get to her, to tell her all, to submit.
And already, as the heavy train moved slowly out of the station, he
felt strangely relieved from the perplexities of the morning.  The
unconscious physical influence of mere motion, of going somewhere,
soothed his irritated nerves.

He had been goaded into his final declaration to the contractor, for he
had felt the ground slipping from his resolution under the persistent
appeals of the man.  As the train shot out into the prairie, however,
he turned the matter over in his mind again and again, trying to
consider it in all its varying aspects.  After all, was it necessary
that he should come back as he had said in his first singleness of
resolution and bring on himself and his family the shame and disgrace
of public exposure?  He comforted himself with the thought that he had
the courage to tell his story, that in leaving the city he was not
merely running away to escape the consequences of his connivance with
fraud.  Yes, he could go back--if it were necessary; but for the time
being he put the question out of his mind.  While the train moved
across the states, his heart grew calmer, stronger; whatever might be
the outcome, he knew that his instinct had been right--that he had done
well to go first to his wife.  Then, whatever might seem best, he could
bring himself somehow to do it.



CHAPTER XXIX

The old Jackson homestead at Vernon Falls was a high, narrow, colonial
house with three gables.  Upon the broad terrace facing the south side
there was a row of graceful, "wineglass" elms.  Below the terrace
stretched a broad, level meadow, which was marked irregularly by a dark
line where a little brook wandered, and beyond the meadow passed the
white road to Verulam, the nearest station.  From this highway a lane
led through copses of alder and birch along the east side of the meadow
to the old house, which was withdrawn nearly an eighth of a mile from
the public road.

It was an austere, silent, lonely place.  Powers Jackson, during the
last years of his life, had built a great barn and sheds behind the
house with the purpose of making a stock farm, but since his death
these had been shut up.  He had also built along the terrace a broad
veranda, which contrasted strangely with the weather-beaten, hand-made
clapboards of the old building.  The gaunt, lofty house seemed to be
drawing itself away disdainfully from this frivolous addition at its
base.

Jackson had often spent his long vacations at the farm with his mother
when he was at college.  Yet that April afternoon, when he came upon it
from the bend in the Verulam road, it seemed to him singularly unreal.
His memories of the house and the meadow in front of it had grown and
flowered, until in his imagination it had become a spot of tender,
aristocratic grace, a harmony of swaying elm branches and turfy lawn,
lichened stone walls and marvellous gray clapboards.  To-day it rose
bare and severe across the brown meadow, unrelieved by the leafless
branches of the elms that crisscrossed the south front.  The slanting
sun struck the little panes of the upper windows, and made them blaze
with a mysterious, intensely yellow fire.  Involuntarily his pace
slackened as he turned from the highroad into the lane.  The place
appeared strangely silent, deserted.  Was Helen there in the old house?
Could she understand?  Could she forgive him? ...

The northern spring had barely begun.  It was cold, grudging,
tentative, scarcely touching the brown meadow with faint green.  Hiding
its charm, like the delicate first bloom of Puritan women, it gave an
uncertain promise of future performance--of a hidden, reticent beauty.

Jackson lingered in the lane, watching the sun fade from the window
panes, until the air suddenly became chill and the scene was blank.
Then, as he stepped on toward the house, he caught sight of a woman's
figure stooping in the thicket beside the road.  His heart began
suddenly to beat, telling him, almost before his eyes had recognized
the bent figure, that this was his wife.  She looked up at last, and
seeing him coming toward her, rose and stood there, her hands filled
with the tendrils of some plant that she had been plucking up by its
roots, her face troubled and disturbed.

"Nell!" he called as he came nearer, "Nell!"

And then he stopped, baffled.  For long hours on the train he had
thought what he should say when he met her, but now his premeditated
words seemed to him futile.  He saw the gulf that might lie between
them forever, and he looked hesitatingly into her troubled face.  She
was wonderfully, newly beautiful.  Her hair was parted in the middle
and rippled loosely over the temples to the ears, in the way she had
worn it as a girl, a fashion which he had laughed her out of.  She had
grown larger, ampler, these last months, and in her linen dress, with
its flat collar revealing the white neck, without ornament of any sort,
her features came out strong and distinct.  That curve of the upper
lip, which had always made the face appealing, no longer trembled at
the touch of emotion.  There was a repression and mature self-command
about her, as if, having been driven back upon her own heart, she had
recovered possession of herself once more, and no longer belonged to a
man.  She was beautiful, wholly woman, and yet to her husband waiting
there she seemed to be his no longer.

"Nell," he began once more, still standing at a little distance from
her, "I have come here to you, as you said."

Her arms hung limply at her sides, with the trailing plant drooping
across her skirt, as though, thus taken by surprise, she were waiting
for him to declare himself.  He stepped nearer quickly, his heart sick
with the fear that, after all, it was too late, that she had passed
beyond his reach.

"You know what I mean!  I have come to tell you that you were right
when you went away.  You were right all along, and I have been wrong."

But as he spoke she reached out her arms to him, beseeching him,
drawing him to her, in commiseration for him.  She put her arms on his
shoulders, clasping them behind his neck, thus drawing him and holding
him from her at the same time.  Her lips trembled, and her breath
fluttered as she looked into his eyes....

"Francis!  Francis!" she murmured, holding him a little from her when
he tried to take her in his arms....

And in her eyes and trembling mouth he knew that she could forgive him;
but he felt strangely humble and little beside her.  He saw himself in
her eyes as he had never seen himself before.  Slowly she drew him to
her and kissed his lips, tenderly, unpassionately.


"The boys are over there by the brook," she said, nodding across the
meadow.

They sat down on the crumbling stone wall to wait for them, and
presently, catching sight of their father, they came tumbling over the
wall with cries of "Dad, it's dad--he's come!" and together they all
went on to the house.

Mrs. Spellman received her son-in-law in her equable, unknowing manner,
as if she had expected him to arrive on that day.  After supper she
took the boys to their room while husband and wife sat in the west
parlor, which the architect remembered just as it was this day, with
the same faded drab carpet, the brass fire-irons, and worn furniture.
The high-backed walnut writing-table stood in its familiar corner
beside the window.  Outside, a drooping elm branch swept softly across
the glass pane.  Nothing here was altered, nothing added, save the new
lives of the modern generation.  They watched the leaping flames lick
the fire-eaten bricks of the old fireplace for a time, and then he
turned to her with a sigh:--

"Now I must tell you the whole story, Nell."

"Yes," she answered, letting her hand fall softly on his arm.  "Tell me
everything."

And he began slowly to tell her the story as he had lived through it
that night when he lay exhausted on the earth beneath the stars--the
story of his work in the city, of the acts which for eight years he had
hidden from all, even himself.  He explained as well as he could the
tangled web of his dealings with the contractor from the day when he
had met him in the Canostota until the time of the arrangement over the
school and the hotel.  When he came to the end, to the horrible fire
which had licked up the fraudulent Glenmore before his own eyes, hot
tears fell upon his hands, which his wife held tightly in hers, and he
could feel her body tremble against his.

"And that was the end!  It made me see in one flash what it all meant.
Of course, those men and women might have been caught anyway, no matter
how well the building was put up,--there's no telling,--and Graves
would have done the same job whether I had been in with him or not.
Still, that doesn't count.  When I saw them there, trapped, fighting
helplessly for their lives, I felt as if I had stood by and let them be
murdered--and made money by it, too!"

The horror of those minutes revived as he went over the story, and he
paused wearily.

"Somehow," he resumed, "it was all of a piece--dirty work.  Everything
I had touched, pretty nearly, since I had started seemed rotten.  It
made me sick all over....  Well, that was the end.  I went to Everett
and tried to square the school matter as well as I could.  I gave him
all I had made out of it and more,--about every dollar I had.  It
leaves us where we started.  But, Nell, I knew you would want me to do
that first before I came here."

It seemed a pitifully trivial act, now that he had told it, yet he was
glad that he could give her this proof of his sincerity.  She said
nothing, but she raised her eyes, still filled with tears, to his face
with a calm, answering look.

"It's a bad story, as bad as it could well be," he resumed.  "I see it
clearly enough now.  I wanted uncle's money, wanted the easy time, and
the good things, and all that.  Then when I didn't get it, I went in to
make a big success and have the things I was after, anyhow.  I saw men
out there no more able than I who were making a lot of money, and
nothing seemed to count so long as somehow you made good.  I wanted to
make good.  It was a pretty cheap ambition."

"Yes!" she exclaimed fervently, "cheap!  Oh, so cheap!"

Nevertheless she did not despise him as she might have despised him at
the time of their marriage for his sordid soul.  During these eight
months that she had lived by herself she had come to see more justly
the causes of things--she had grown wiser.  She held him now less
rigidly, less remorselessly, to her own ideal of life.  For she had
begun to understand that the poison which had eaten him was in the air
he had breathed; it was the spirit of the city where he worked, of the
country, of the day--the spirit of greed.  It presented itself to men
in the struggle for existence at every turn of the road, insidiously
and honorably disguised as ambition and courage.  She saw the man's
temptation to strive with his competitors, as they strove for the
things which they held desirable.  And she had come to realize that to
stand firmly against this current of the day demanded a heat of nature,
a character that the man she had married and worshipped, had never
possessed.  He was of his time neither better nor worse than his
fellows, with their appetite for pleasure, their pride--that ancient
childish pride of man in the consideration and envy of his kind....

"So you have it all, and it's bad enough, God knows.  Nell, can you
ever really forgive it, forget it, and love me again?"

For answer she leaned toward him and kissed him, understandingly.  Now
that her heart knew him utterly, with all his cowardice and common
failings, she might still love him, even foreseeing the faltering and
unideal way of his steps, giving him, like many women, her second love,
the love that protects in place of the love that adores.  And with that
kiss there began for her a new marriage with the man she had seen large
in her dreams, the man who had been her hero....

The elms swayed softly in the night wind, brushing across the window by
their side.  The old house was very still with the subdued calm of age,
and man and wife sat there together, without words, looking far beyond
them toward the future that was to be theirs.



CHAPTER XXX

The next day and the next went by in the peace of the old house.  Now
that the event which had so wholly occupied the man's mind since the
night when the Glenmore burned had come about; now that he was here in
the old place, and had his wife and children once more, he began to
consider personally the wreck of his affairs which had been left behind
in Chicago.  And he began to ask himself whether, after all, it was
necessary for him to return to the city and make public his shame at
the hearing before the coroner.  He was not clear what service to
justice or to the dead who had been sacrificed, as much through the
corruption of civic government as by his own wrong-doing, his testimony
would accomplish.  That it would surely ruin him professionally was
beyond the shadow of a doubt.  He could picture to himself well enough
the ferocious glee with which the _Thunderer_ would receive his
evidence!  Was it necessary to give his wife and his children into the
merciless hands of the malicious newspapers?

The evening mail of the second day brought a letter from Wheeler.  The
coroner's inquest, the lawyer wrote, was likely to drag on for a week
or more.  The coroner was a Republican, and "had it in for the city
administration."  He was trying, also, to make all the personal and
political capital that he could out of the affair.  At present, as
Jackson could see from the newspapers, they were engaged in examining
minor witnesses,--the servants and employees of the Glenmore, the
police and the firemen,--trying to account for the origin of the fire.
So the architect could be of no use now, at any rate, and had better
stay quietly where he was until the matter took more definite shape.
As far as the coroner's inquest was concerned, it was a public
farce,--trial by newspaper,--and it would be well to wait and see
whether the affair was to reach a responsible court.  In the meantime
it was understood that he was ill at his summer home.  Graves, so
Wheeler added, had been in to see him again before he left the city.
It was foolish to irritate the contractor and make the matter worse
than it was already, etc.

Then Hart opened the bundle of newspapers, and glanced through their
padded pages.  His eye was caught immediately by an editorial caption:--

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE GLENMORE TRAGEDY?


The article was a sarcastic summary of the results thus far from the
inquest, done in the _Thunderer's_ best manner.  So far, the editorial
writer pointed out, the inquiry had been confined to examining
chambermaids, bell-boys, and the police, and to quarrelling about the
exact location of the fire when it started.  The _Thunderer_ hoped that
before closing the inquest the coroner would have the courage to go
higher, and to probe the building department, and to ascertain what Mr.
Bloom's connection with the matter was, and whether his inspectors had
ever made a report on the Glenmore.  Further, the coroner might to
advantage summon the officers of the hotel company, who had erected
this fire-trap, and the architect whose plans for a fire-proof
structure had been so lamentably inadequate.  The _Thunderer_
understood that the Glenmore Hotel Corporation was one of those paper
corporations, officered by clerks, behind which unscrupulous
capitalists so often shielded themselves.  Of the officers whose names
appeared in the papers of incorporation, three were clerks in the
employ of a contractor named Graves, who had built the hotel, and a
fourth was a prominent young architect, who had prepared the plans for
the building.  The people of Chicago wanted to hear what these men had
to say about the Glenmore hotel, especially Bloom, Graves, and Hart.
"Look higher, Mr. Coroner!" the _Thunderer_ concluded solemnly.


When Helen came into the room a little later, she found her husband
plunged in thought, the sheets of the newspaper scattered about him.

"What is it?" she asked quickly.

He picked up the paper and handed it to her.  She read the article in
the _Thunderer_, her brow wrinkling in puzzle as she went on.  When she
had finished it, she let it fall from her hands, and looked at her
husband inquiringly.

"They want you to go out there and tell about the building of the
hotel?" she asked.

"Yes," he answered dully.  "I knew it would come sooner or later.  You
see I was not only the architect, but Graves made me the treasurer of
the corporation.  I was only a dummy like the others," he explained.
"The corporation was just Graves!  But I told Everett that I should go
back and tell what I knew.  Only he doesn't think it necessary, now!"

"What would happen?  What does it all mean?"

He explained to her what the legal results might be in case the
coroner's jury held him and others to the Grand Jury, as criminally
liable for the disaster.  Then, if the Grand Jury found a true bill
against him, whenever he returned to Chicago he could be tried for
manslaughter.  But even if in his absence he should be held to the
Grand Jury, there were many steps in the complex machinery of legal
justice, and he could probably escape without trial.  Evidently
Wheeler, who knew the involutions of the district attorney's office,
was counting on the probability that no one would be brought to trial
in this hotel case,--that the disaster would be buried in that gulf of
abortive justice where crimes against the people at large are smothered.

"And in that case," Hart concluded, "there would be no use in letting
them tear me to pieces in the papers!"

"But you must go back!" she exclaimed, brushing aside his reasoning.
"You must tell them all you know!"

"Everett doesn't think so," he protested, "and I can't see the good of
it, either.  They won't do anything, probably.  It's just politics, the
whole investigation.  But the newspapers are full of it just now, and
they would hound me to a finish.  It would be impossible for me to get
work in Chicago for a long time, if ever again.  And it would cover you
and the boys with disgrace--that's the worst!  I have paid enough!"

"But it must be done," she repeated in a low voice.

She was not clear what good might come of his testimony: she was
ignorant of the legal conditions.  But she had a fundamental sense of
justice: men must pay for the evil they do,--pay fully and pay
publicly.  A private repentance and a private penance were to her
incomplete and trivial.

"I've got to earn our living," he urged.  "You must think of that!  If
I am shut out of Chicago, we must begin somewhere else at the bottom."

She was not ready yet to consider that question.

"You mustn't think of us," she answered.  "Francis, you can't really
pay for all the wrong that has been done.  But perhaps the truth will
do some good.  And unless you are ready to face the open
disgrace,--why, you have done nothing!  The money you gave back to the
trustees was nothing.  This is the only way!"

It was the only way for him, at least.  With his buoyant, pliant
nature, as she understood it, some final act, definite, done in the
eyes of the world that knew him, was needed to strengthen the fibre of
his being, to record in his own soul its best resolve.  For already he
had begun to waver, to quibble with his repentance.

He had been ready enough in the stress of his first feeling after the
catastrophe to stand before the world and confess his share in the
wrong that had been done.  Then he was eager to free his mind of its
intolerable burden.  But now that the excitement had faded, leaving him
to face the difficulties of his future, he saw in all its fatal detail
what public disgrace would mean, and he drew back.  It was folly to
invite ruin!

Yet in the end the woman held him to her ideal.  Late that night he
consented to telegraph Wheeler of his immediate return, and to take the
first train on the morrow for the west, there to await the coroner's
summons.

"I shall go on with you, of course," she said.  "We will all go,--the
boys, too.  Mamma will stay and close the house.  Perhaps you can't get
away very soon after it is over.  And I want to be there with you," she
answered to all his objections.

"You know what it will mean!" he exclaimed warningly, as the last log
burst into ashes on the hearth.  "Nell, it's worst for you and the
boys.  It means ruin, nothing less!"

"Never!" she protested with flashing eyes.  "Other people, the
newspapers, can't make ruin.  Ruin is in ourselves.  It merely means
that we shall have to do without friends, and society, and things,
especially things.  And I have come to hate things.  They make one
small and mean.  I never thought we should have them, when we were
married.  And I don't want them for the boys, either.  There is work!
the best thing in life,--work for itself, without pay in things,
without bribes!  We'll have that and bread, Francis!"

"But the public disgrace," he objected, still sensitive to the opinion
of the world in which he had lived.

"Better even that than the disgrace between us," she whispered.  "No,
no!  There is no other way."

At least there was no other way to her love, and that love he could not
live without, cost him what it might.

"You are strong, Nell!" he confessed his admiration.

"And you, too!" she whispered back, her face illumined with the courage
of her nature.


Little Powers, the younger boy, had not been well, and the next
morning, when he was no better, Jackson urged that it would be unwise
to take him, that he had best go back alone.  But Helen would not
consent, knowing that he made the most of the child's illness to spare
her the trial which was to come.

"It is nothing," she said.  "Mother thinks it will do no harm to take
him.  And if he is going to be really sick, it would be better for us
to be there in the city than here."

So they drove over to Verulam and took the train.  After the boys had
been put to bed for the night, Helen came back to the section where the
architect was sitting, looking dully into the blank fields.

"What do you think of this?" she exclaimed, putting a letter into his
hands.  "I got it just as we were leaving.  It's from Venetia,--read
it!"

He took the thick envelope from her hands, remembering suddenly the
girl as he had last seen her, when she had summed him up in one bitter,
opprobrious word.  The sting of that word had gone, however, effaced by
the experience which he had suffered since, and he opened the letter
listlessly.


MY DEAR MOTHER SUPERIOR,--Do you recognize the Forest Park postmark?  I
am not going abroad after all.  At least not just yet.  Mother's gone,
sails this week with Mrs. Ollie B.  Now listen, and I'll make your hair
stand on end.

First, mother!  She's had a grievous disappointment lately.  Colonel
Raymond,--you know him of course,--the little gray-whiskered railroad
man, mother's pet indulgence for I can't say how long,--has at last
been freed from the legal attachment of one wife and is about to take
another at once.  Whom do you think?  The youngest Stewart girl!!!  The
wedding is for the 3d of June.  We are not going, naturally.  Of
course, it was a crushing blow to poor mamma,--she put her sailing
forward a whole week to escape from her friends.  She was positively
growing old under it.

I know you don't like this, so I cut it very short.  Now, prepare!  I
am going to embrace the serious life, at last,--I mean matrimony.
Really and truly, this time.  You know the man, but you'd never guess:
he's our doctor.  Dr. Coburn.  Yes!  Yes!!  Yes!!!

Mother threw a fit when I told her, and then, of course, I knew I was
quite right.  We are to be married any time, when he finishes up the
work he has on hand, so that he can give me some attention.  We might
look in on you in your convent retirement, if sufficiently urged.  Then
I'll tell you all about it, and make him show you all the little tricks
I have taught him.  Mamma still calls him "that fellow," but he's by
way of being a very distinguished man on account of some bug he's
discovered.  The medical journals are taking off their hats to him.  I
read the notices,--don't you believe I am fast enough in love?

Well, I have had to send mamma abroad to recover her nerves, and I am
out here putting the place in order as it is to be rented to some awful
people, whom you never heard of.  By the way, the doctor isn't going to
let me use my money,--mother ought to thank him for that!--and he won't
promise to earn much money, either.  He has no idea of keeping me in
the state to which the Lord called me.  He says if I want that, I can
marry Stephen Lane or any other man.  He means to earn enough for a
sensible woman to live on, he says, and if I am not content with what
he chooses to do for me I can go out and learn how to earn some more
for myself!  Did you ever hear of a man who had the nerve to talk that
way to the woman he wants to marry? ...

We are going to have a laboratory on the West Side,--that gave Mrs. P.
another fit,--and over it we'll have our rooms.  Then when he's made
enough rabbits dotty with his bug, and has written his papers, maybe
we'll go abroad....

There are lots of other things, _your_ things, I want to talk over, but
I am afraid my pen is too blunt for them.  Only, I hope, oh, so much,
dear, that you are to be happy again.  Mr. Wheeler told me that Jack
was with you now.  My love to the Prodigal Man.  Good-by, dear...


"Isn't it good!" Helen exclaimed, with the readiness of good women to
welcome a newcomer to that state which has brought them such doubtful
happiness.

"I shouldn't think he would have been the man to satisfy her," Jackson
answered slowly.

"I think Dr. Coburn has changed a good deal since you knew him.  He had
fine things in him, and Venetia could see them."

"I always thought she was ambitious, and the reason she didn't marry
was because she couldn't find any one out there to give her everything
she was after."

"Perhaps Venetia has seen enough already of that kind of thing!"



CHAPTER XXXI

There was a stir among the reporters gathered in the little room where
the coroner's inquest on the Glenmore fire was being held, when it
became known that the architect was present and was to be examined.
Graves's man, Gotz, the president of the hotel company, had finished
his testimony on the previous day, having displayed a marvellous
capacity for ignorance.  Under advice from his employer's lawyer he had
refused to answer every important question put to him, on the plea that
it was irrelevant.  The coroner had been scarcely more successful with
other witnesses in his endeavors to determine the exact causes for the
large loss of life in the new hotel, and his inquest was closing in
failure.  The yelping pack of newspapers had already raised their cry
in another field; public interest in the Glenmore disaster had begun to
wane; and it was generally believed that nothing would come of the
inquest, not even a hearing before the Grand Jury.  The whole affair
appeared to be but another instance of the impotence of our system of
government in getting at the real offenders against society, if they
are cunning and powerful.


That morning, as the Harts were preparing to go to the hearing the
doctor had called to see little Powers, for the child's feverish cold
threatened to develop into pneumonia.  After the doctor had gone, the
architect went upstairs to the sickroom, where Helen was seated on the
bed playing with Powers, and trying to soothe him.  As he stood there
silently watching them, he was tormented by a sudden fear, a terrible
presentiment, that the child was to die, and thus he was to pay for his
sins, and not only he, but Helen.  She was to pay with him, even more
than he!  He tried to rid himself of the hysterical and foolish idea,
but it persisted, prompted by that rough sense of retribution--an
acknowledgment of supreme justice--that most men retain all their lives.

"I shall have to go now," he said to her at last.  "But you mustn't
think of coming.  You must stay with the boy."

"Oh, no!" Helen exclaimed quickly, looking closely at the child.  "The
doctor says there is nothing to fear yet.  Everything has been done
that I can do, and your mother will stay with him while we are away.
It won't be long, anyway!"

"Why do you insist upon coming?" he protested almost irritably.  "It
won't be exactly pleasant, and you may have to hang around there for
hours."

"Don't you want me to go with you, and be there, Francis?" she asked a
little sadly.

He made no reply, feeling ashamed to confess that it would make the
coming scene all the more painful to know that she was hearing again in
all its repulsive detail the story of his participation in the criminal
construction of the Glenmore hotel.

"I think I had better go," she said finally, "and I want to go!"

She wished to be near him at the end, after he had performed this
difficult act; to be near him when he came out from the hearing and
walked home with the knowledge of the public disgrace preparing for him
at the hands of the hungry reporters.  Then, she divined, would come
upon him the full bitterness of his position.


The hearing proceeded slowly, and it was the middle of the afternoon
before the architect was called.  The coroner, a grizzled little
German-American with an important manner, put on his spectacles to
examine the new witness, and the members of the coroner's jury, who
knew that the architect had left the city immediately after the fire
and were surprised at his return, evinced their curiosity by leaning
forward and staring at Hart.

The first questions put to him were directed toward gaining information
about the corporation that owned the building.  As Mr. Hart was the
treasurer of the Glenmore company, presumably he held stock in the
corporation?  A large amount?  No, he had had some stock, but had
disposed of it.  Recently?  Some time ago.  To whom?  The witness
refused to answer.  Had he paid cash for his stock?  The witness
refused to answer: he had been told by his lawyer that all such
questions were not pertinent to the present inquiry.  But who, then,
were the chief stockholders? who were, in fact, the Glenmore company?
Again the architect refused to answer; indeed, he was not sure that he
knew.  The coroner, baffled on this line, and knowing well enough in a
general way at least from previous witnesses that nothing was to be
unearthed here, turned to more vital matters.

"Mr. Hart," he said, clearing his throat and looking gravely at the
witness, "I understand that you were the architect for this hotel?"

"Yes."

"You drew the plans and specifications for the Glenmore?"

"Yes, they were prepared in my office."

"Were they the same that you see here?"

The coroner motioned toward the roll of plans that had been taken from
the files of the Building Department.

"Yes," the architect answered readily, merely glancing at the plans,
"those were the plans for the hotel as originally prepared by me."

"Now I want to ask if the Glenmore hotel was built according to these
plans?"

The architect hesitated.  Every one in the room knew well enough by
this time that the building destroyed by fire had not been erected
according to these plans, but, nevertheless, they waited eagerly for
the reply.

"Few buildings," Hart began explanatorily, "are completed in all
respects according to the original plans and specifications."

"Ah, is that so?"

"But these plans were very considerably altered," the witness continued
voluntarily.

"By whom?  By you?  With your consent, your approval?"

The architect hesitated again for a few moments, and then answered
rapidly:--

"With my knowledge, certainly; yes, you may say with my consent!"

There was a little delay in the inquiry at this point, while the
coroner consulted with his counsel as to the next questions that should
be addressed to the witness.  The architect gazed doggedly before him,
keeping his eyes on the dirty window above the heads of the jury.  In
the dingy light of the little room, his face appeared yellow and old.
His mouth twitched occasionally beneath his mustache, but otherwise he
stood with composure waiting for the next question, which he knew would
pierce to the heart of the matter.

"Mr. Hart," the coroner resumed, "will you describe to us what those
alterations in the plans for the Glenmore were, what was the nature of
them?"

The witness considered how he was to answer the question, and then he
proceeded to explain the most important discrepancies between the
building as it had been erected by Graves and the plans that had been
filed with the Building Department.  He described the use of the old
walls and foundations, the reduction in the thickness of the
bearing-walls and partitions, the chief substitutions of wood for steel
in the upper stories, the omitting of fireproof partitions and
fire-escapes, etc.,--in short, all the methods of "skinning" the
construction, in which the contractor was such an adept.  He referred
from time to time to the plans, and used technical terms, which he was
asked to explain.  But the jury listened with absorbed interest, and he
kept on until he had answered the question thoroughly.

"As an architect," the coroner asked, when Hart had completed his
explanation, "will you state whether, in your judgment, these changes
that you have described, especially the substitution of inflammable
material for fireproofing and the weakening of the main walls, were
sufficient to account for the great loss of life in the fire?"

The answer to such a question could be only speculative,--an individual
opinion,--and the witness might properly refuse to commit himself.  The
architect hesitated, and then with a quick motion of the head, as if he
were sick of evasions, said:--

"There are a good many buildings here in Chicago and in other large
cities that are no safer than the Glenmore was.  But if you want my
opinion, I will say that such alterations as I have indicated tended to
weaken the walls, and in other ways to bring the building below the
danger limit."

"It was what might be called a fire-trap, then?"

"I did not say that!"

Feeling that at last he had found an easy witness, the coroner began to
bully, and there ensued a wrangle between him and the architect, in
which both men became heated.

"Well, Mr. Hart," a member of the jury finally interposed with a
question, "can you say that the Glenmore as it was built conformed to
the building ordinances of the city of Chicago?"

"It would take a number of experts and a good lawyer to interpret those
ordinances!" the architect answered testily.  "I should say that they
were drawn for the express purpose of being violated."

There was a laugh along the reporters' bench at this retort.  But the
witness quickly added in his former contained manner:--

"No, the Glenmore violated the ordinances in a number of important
particulars."

There was a sudden hush in the room.  This point had been established
before by different persons who had been examined.  Nevertheless, the
admission coming from the architect of the ill-fated building was an
important point.  It might lead to other interesting admissions.

"You were aware, then, when the Glenmore was being erected that it
violated the ordinances?"

"Yes."

"Did you make any protest?"

"No."

"Did you know when you undertook the plans that the hotel was to be
built in this manner?"

"I knew that it was to be put up for a certain sum, and that a
first-class fire-proof building conforming to the ordinances could not
be built for that money."

A number of questions followed in regard to the actual cost of the
hotel and the connection of the Graves Construction Company with the
owners of the building, many of which the architect refused to answer.
At last the coroner returned to the one point on which he had been
successful in eliciting vital information,--the character of the burned
building, and the circumstances of its construction.

"I suppose the building was inspected during the construction?"

"Certainly."

"By whom?"

"As usual, by different inspectors from the building department.  Mr.
Murphy was there several times, I remember, and Mr. Lagrange, among
others.  But I think chiefly Mr. Murphy."

"Were you present during their inspection?"

"Not always."

"Did either of these gentlemen find anything to object to in the method
of construction?"

"I never heard of any objection.  Nothing was ever said to me.  The
inspectors might have talked to the contractors.  But I don't think any
one of them did."

"Have you reason to believe that there was any collusion between the
inspectors and the Graves Company?"

Every one in the room knew that there must have been collusion.
Nevertheless, the architect, after hesitation, said:--

"I shan't answer that, sir."

"You refuse to reply?"

"See here, Mr. Coroner!  I am here to tell you what I know about the
Glenmore,--at least so far as it concerns my own responsibility, my own
work.  But I am not here to testify against the Graves Construction
Company.  Understand that!"

"Well, I should say that you and the Graves Company were pretty well
mixed in this matter.  You were an officer of the corporation which
employed the Graves Company to build a hotel on your plans.  Could
there be any closer connection than that, do you think?"

To this observation Hart made no reply, and finally the member of the
jury who had interposed before put another question to the witness:--

"You have told us that the Glenmore was not properly built, was not
what it pretended to be, a fire-proof building, and generally violated
the ordinance for that class of building.  Do you consider yourself in
any way responsible for those violations?"

"Yes," the architect replied slowly, "I suppose so.  At least I knew
all about it!"

"You considered it a dangerous building?"

"I can't say that I did.  I should consider it so now.  I didn't think
much about it then."

The witness's admission came with evident effort; the juryman continued
insinuatingly:--

"Mr. Hart, I believe that you were present at the fire?"

"Yes."

"Did you then believe that if the hotel had been built according to
these plans"--he pointed to the roll of blue prints on the table--"the
large loss of life would not have occurred?"

"I felt so,--yes, I believe so now!"

"May I ask one more question?  Was it for your interest to make these
changes?  Did you make any money out of the job beyond your customary
commission?"

It was a question that the witness might properly refuse to answer as
having no direct bearing on the object of the inquest.  But the
architect was weary of quibbles,--indeed, eager to make his testimony
as thorough as might be, and to have it over.

"Not directly, but I was an officer of the company, and beside--"

"Indirectly, then, you benefited?"

"Yes, indirectly."

"That is all, Mr. Hart."

A few more questions were asked by the coroner about the inspection of
the building by Murphy and Lagrange, and also in regard to the
architect's previous relations with the Graves Company.  Then the
witness was excused.

When the architect stepped back into the room, he saw Wheeler sitting
beside Helen in the rear.  They waited for him at the door, and
together the three went out to the street.  The lawyer, who had reached
the hearing in time for most of the testimony, smiled rather grimly as
he remarked to his cousin:--

"Well, Jack, you gave them about everything they were after!  You
needn't have turned yourself quite inside out."

"It was perfect!" Helen exclaimed, taking her husband's arm.
"Everything you said was right.  I wouldn't have had you change a word."

Wheeler buttoned his coat against the east wind and smiled tolerantly
at the woman's fervor.

"Will that be all, Everett?" she asked a little defiantly.

"For the present," he replied after a pause, and then he nodded good-by.

"What did he mean?" she asked her husband, as they threaded the crowded
street leading to the North Side bridge.

"That they will hold me to the Grand Jury, I suppose."

Her hand which clasped his arm tightened involuntarily at the words,
and they continued their way silently to the old Ohio Street house.



CHAPTER XXXII

When they entered the house, Helen hurried upstairs to the child, who
had been calling for her, Mrs. Hart said.  Presently the doctor came
for his evening visit, and when, after a long time, he left the
sickroom, Jackson met him in the hall, but lacked the courage to ask
any question.  The doctor spoke bruskly about the bad weather, and
hurried off.  Then Hart walked to and fro in the gloomy dining-room
until his mother came down for dinner, which they ate in silence.

Before they had finished their meal the bell rang, and in reply to the
maid's excuses at the door there sounded in the hall a strong woman's
voice.

"But I must see them!"

Jackson, recognizing Venetia Phillips's voice, stepped into the hall.

"Oh, Jack!  I have just heard that you were all here.  We met Everett
at the station, and he told me all about it.  Jack, it was fine!  I
didn't think you had it in you, Jackie, dear.  To stand up there and
give everything away,--it took real stuff.  I know it!"  She held out
her hand in enthusiastic heartiness, repeating, "It was fine, fine!"
Suddenly she turned back to the door, where Coburn stood.

"You know Dr. Coburn, Jack!  I brought him along, too--I was in such a
hurry to see you all.  Where's Helen?"

"Yes, I just butted in," Coburn said, laughing.  "I wouldn't let her
come without me.  I wanted to shake on it, too!"

"But where's that sainted wife of yours?" Venetia persisted.

When Jackson told her of the boy's illness, she hurried upstairs
without another word, leaving the two men standing in the library.  At
first, when they were alone, with the common memory of that last
meeting in the doctor's rooms barely a week before, there was an
awkward silence.  Coburn had now an explanation for the architect's
erratic behavior on that occasion, and he refrained from his usual
blunt speech.  And the architect, seeing through the mist of
accumulated impressions, as in a long vista, that night after the fire
when Coburn had found him half-crazed, a prey to horrible visions,
could not speak.  Yet that experience seemed removed from the present,
as if it rose from distant years, and somehow belonged to another
person.  Although he had never liked Coburn in the old days, he felt a
kind of sympathy in the doctor's bearing, and was grateful for it.

"You must have thought I was crazy the other night," the architect
remarked apologetically at last.  "I didn't know much what I was up to!"

"That's all right, man," Coburn interrupted warmly.  "Don't think about
it again.  It was damn good luck my running across you, that's all.  If
I'd known, of course--  Say! that took sand, what you did to-day.
Wheeler told Venetia all about it, and she told me.  It makes a man
feel good to see some one who has got the nerve to stand up and take
medicine, and not try everlastingly to sneak out of things!  If more
folks nowadays would do that, it would be better for us all.  Don't you
mind what the papers say.  They have to fling mud,--that's their game!"

"Well, it doesn't make much difference now what they say
except,--except for my wife," Jackson answered dully.  "And that can't
be helped."

"Oh, I guess it won't last long.  And somehow women don't mind those
things half as much as you'd think, at least the best ones don't.  And
from what Venetia says, yours is one of the best!"

"Yes!  That doesn't make it any easier.  But I haven't congratulated
you!" he exclaimed, repressing the confession of his own pain.  "She is
a splendid woman, lots of spirit," he remarked awkwardly.

"I rather think so!"  A pleased smile illuminated the doctor's grave
face.  "She's just about the best ever!"

"I hope you will be happy," Jackson continued conventionally.

"Well, we expect to--don't see why we shouldn't.  I guess we know
pretty much what's to be found on both sides, and won't make ourselves
uncomfortable looking for what ain't there."

Venetia came down the stairs very quietly, her exuberance all gone, and
as she entered the room she was still wiping away the traces of tears.

"Poor little Powers!" she exclaimed.  "Oh, Jack!  I am terribly sorry."

"What's the matter?" Coburn demanded.

"It's pneumonia, poor little man!"

Jackson's lip trembled beneath his mustache, as he murmured to
himself:--

"Yes, I supposed it would be.  It's as tough as it well could be, for
her!"

"I know he'll come through,--he must!" Venetia exclaimed helplessly,
and added in a burst of admiration, "That trouble couldn't happen to
Helen--it just couldn't!  She's so splendid, Jack!  It's a big thing to
know there are such women about.  She's holding him up there now, with
a smile on her face!"

Jackson turned away from her eager eyes.


Again and again during the days that followed, while they worked for
the child's life, and when all was done watched and waited together for
what might come, that miserable foreboding of the first day came back
to the man.  An evil fate seemed close on his heels, ready to lay hand
on him here or there.  The illness of the child related itself in some
unseen manner with the great catastrophe of his life.  The old idea of
retribution, that barbaric conception of blood sacrifice, tormented
him, as it torments the most sceptical in the hour of crisis.  It
appeared to him that for his cowardice of nature, for all his weak and
evil deeds, for the unknown dead in whose death he had connived, he was
about to be called to pay with the life of his own child.  And the
mother, guiltless, in the inscrutable cruelty of fate, must pay with
him and pay the larger share of the price of his evil, of his nature!

But during these days of dread the woman went her way calmly, serenely,
prepared, outwardly at least, for any event.  What the child's death
would mean to her was known only to herself, for she consumed her grief
patiently in the silence of the watch.  The house grew more sombre, as
day by day the struggle for life moved on to its crisis.  Little
Powers, like his mother, made his fight with unchildish patience.  He
had always been the quieter, less demonstrative one of the two boys,
possessing a singular power of silence and abstraction, which had been
attributed to physical weakness.  Yet under the stress of disease he
showed an unexpected resistance and vitality.  The father, when he saw
him lying in the great bed, with pathetic moments of playfulness even
in the height of his fever, could not stay by his side....

The suspense of the child's illness mercifully threw all outer
happenings into shade.  Jackson was able to keep the newspapers away
from Helen, and she asked no questions.  His testimony at the inquest
had revived to some extent the waning public interest in the Glenmore
fire.  Especially the _Buzzard_, which had assumed to itself all the
credit for airing the conditions in the building department, made merry
over Hart's replies to the coroner.  It printed full-page cuts of
scenes at the inquest that last day, when the architect was on the
stand,--dramatic sketches of "tilts between the coroner and Hart,"
"Hart's insolent retorts," etc.; and it denounced editorially, with its
peculiar unction of self-esteem, the "systematic corruption of the
nation by such men as Graves, Hart, and their allies."  But the
_Thunderer_ and the more respectable papers refrained from all such
bitter insinuations.  For some reason they forbore to pillory the only
man who had voluntarily come forward and told all that he knew.
Perhaps they respected the courage of the act; perhaps they were aware
that their patrons had tired of "the Glenmore tragedy"; perhaps they
felt that the real guilt lay too deep to be reached by their editorial
darts.  However that might be, the matter rested now with the district
attorney and the Grand Jury.

For the inquest had been concluded and the coroner's report was
published.  It covered lengthily all the points touched upon by the
many witnesses, and it contained much "scoring" of the city
authorities.  The contractor, Graves, the inspectors, Murphy and
Lagrange, Gotz, the president of the defunct corporation, and Hart,
were held to the Grand Jury for complicity in the death of the
seventeen persons who had perished in the Glenmore fire....


Meanwhile the worst hour of anxiety for the child's life came, and
Helen knelt by the bed holding the little body in her arms, devouring
his face with her shining eyes.  The hour passed, the child lived,
there was hope of his recovery.  Yet for a period they went to and fro
softly, with that peculiar hush of fear scarcely relieved, lest their
hopes might be too strong.

At last, however, Jackson was obliged to tell Helen what had happened
at the inquest.  She listened as to a message from a far land, her face
blanched and set from the hours of fear through which she had passed.
When he said that he, with the others, had been held to the Grand Jury,
she merely asked:--

"When will that be?"

"Very soon, less than a fortnight, Everett says.  He called here
yesterday.  He advised me to leave the city,--he came to see about
that."

"What will they do?" she asked, not heeding the last remark.

"If they find a true bill, it will go to the trial jury.  And," he
added slowly, "the charge will be manslaughter."

She started as he pronounced the word.  In her ears it was the legal
synonym for murder, and before the awfulness of that conception her
heart recoiled.

"Manslaughter!" she repeated involuntarily.

"Yes, but Everett thinks it is very doubtful whether the Grand Jury
will find a true bill against any one.  It would be almost an
unheard-of thing to do.  Of course, Graves will stay away until he sees
how it will turn out, and probably the others will keep out of reach.
Everett wants me to go--"

"No, no!" she cried, "never!  You have come all this way on the hard
road, and we must go on to the very end, no matter what that is."

"So I thought you would feel," he answered gently.  "I said the same
thing to Everett.  Of course, the justice of it isn't very clear.  It's
mixed up with politics, anyway.  I don't know that it would do much
good to any one to stay and be tried.  But if you feel that way--"

She laid her hand on his arm, imploring him mutely not to give her all
the responsibility for the decision.

"Think what it might mean, if--if they found me guilty!" he muttered
gloomily.

"I know," she shuddered.  "But Francis, we must pay somehow, you and I.
We must pay!"



CHAPTER XXXIII

But if in her heroic soul she was ready to pay, and to make him pay, at
the price of public shame for her and her children, the full penalty of
his misdeeds, it was not to be so.  He was to escape the full measure
of retribution, shielded by the accident of his class.  Unknown to him,
the tangled threads of his fate were being sorted in the great city,
and the vengeance of society was being averted, so far, at least, as
legal punishment was concerned.  Everett Wheeler, once recovered from
his disgust at the sentimental folly of the architect's confession at
the inquest, had no mind to see his cousin on trial for manslaughter.
His mood was invariably to settle things, to cover them up, to bury
them!  As has been said, he had political influence, enough to reach
even to the district attorney's office, enough to close the mouth of
the Chicago _Buzzard_, to quiet the snarls of the _Thunderer_.  So the
case against the men held to the Grand Jury for the hotel disaster was
quietly dropped.  The mayor put another man in Bloom's place as chief
building inspector, and very soon things went merrily on in their old
way.  And that was the end of it all!  The seventeen human beings who
had lost their lives in the fire had not even pointed a moral by their
agonizing death.  For a few summer months the gaunt, smoke-blackened
pit of ruins on the boulevard served to remind the passers-by of a
grewsome tale.  Then, by the beginning of the new year, in its place
rose a splendid apartment building, faced with cut stone and trimmed
with marble.

Wheeler notified the architect in a curt note that the case had been
dismissed, and Jackson showed the letter to his wife.

"Thank God!" he exclaimed fervently, "that is the end.  I shan't drag
you into the mud any farther."

Helen looked up from the lawyer's letter with a troubled face.  She had
hardened herself to the coming trial, which she had fully expected.
Now that it had been spared, all was not yet right to her scrupulous
perception.  A terrible wrong had been committed, a wrong to the poor
souls who had lost their lives, a wrong, too, to the city and to
society, making an evil pool of corruption.  And in some mysterious way
this had been covered up, hidden, and all was to go on as before!  She
had a primitive idea that all evil necessitated exact payment, and as
long as this payment was deferred, so long was the day of light, of
health, put off.

But the man, realizing more clearly than she the indirect penalties
which his situation inevitably imposed, gave no further thought to the
abstract question of justice.  The outlook was bad enough as it was.
He saw nothing before him in this city where he naturally belonged.

"What would you think of our moving to St. Louis?" he asked, a few days
after he had received the lawyer's letter.  "There is some sort of an
opening there for me.  Of course I had rather be in New York, but it is
out of the question.  It would take too long to get started.  Or we
might try Denver.  I have done some work there, and it's a growing
place."

"Do you think that we must leave Chicago?" she asked.

"Why!" he exclaimed, surprised that she should consider for a moment
the possibility of their remaining where he had made such a failure of
his life.  "Do you want to stay here and be dropped by every soul you
have known?"

"I don't care very much for that!"

"Well, there's nothing here for me.  Stewart will take the office.  He
let me know mighty quick that we had better part!  I am a dead dog in
Chicago.  Only yesterday I got a letter from the Kicker Brothers
turning me down after telling me last month to go ahead.  They pay for
the work done so far, and that is all.  You see it is out of the
question to stay here!"

He spoke gloomily, as if in spite of all that had happened he had some
grounds for feeling a little sore.

"But I don't mean to let this down me, not yet," he continued more
buoyantly.  "I owe it to you, at least, to make good.  And I can do it
somewhere else, where the sight of this mess isn't always in my eyes!
It'll only be a matter of a few years, Nell."

Already the bitterness of the crisis was passing away, and he was
beginning to plan for the future, for a career, for success,--built on
a surer foundation, but nevertheless success and repute in the world.
His wife realized it and understood.  She was standing by his side, as
he sat with his elbows resting on his knees, studying the faded figure
in the carpet.  She put her hands on his head and drew it toward her,
protectingly, pityingly, as she would the bruised head of a child.

"So you think you must begin somewhere else?" she said gently, sitting
down by his side.

"It's the only thing to do.  The question is where!"

She made no reply and seemed buried in her thoughts.

"By the way," he remarked, "whom do you think I saw on the street
to-day?  Wright.  He was staring at Letterson's new store,--you know
Frank Peyton did it.  The old man stopped me and seemed really glad to
see me.  I suppose he knows everything, too," he added musingly.

The incident comforted him greatly.  He had seen Wright in the crowded
street, and had looked away from him, meaning to hurry past, but the
older man had stretched out his long arm and good-naturedly drawn Hart
to one side out of the press of the street.

"How are you, Hart?" he had said cordially, with his boyish smile.
"What do you think of this thing?  Bold, isn't it?  That Peyton's got
nerve to put up this spiderweb right here in State Street.  Now, I
couldn't do that!  But I guess he's on the right track.  That's what we
are coming to.  What do you think?"

They had walked down the street together, and Wright had continued to
talk of Peyton and the other young architects in the city, and of their
work.

"I tell you, those youngsters have got the future.  They have the
courage to try experiments.  That won't do for an old fellow like me.
My clients would kick, too, if I took to anything new.  But I like to
see the young ones try it....  What are you doing?" he had asked
abruptly.  "Come in to see me, won't you?  I shall be here two or three
weeks.  Be sure to come in, now!"

They had shaken hands, and the older architect had looked searchingly
into Hart's face, his boyish smile changing subtly into an expression
of concern and sweetness, as if there was something on the tip of his
tongue which he refrained from saying there in the crowded street.  The
memory of the little meeting came back to the man now, and he felt more
grateful for Wright's cordiality than he had at the time.

"Wright asked me to come in and see him.  I think I will do it some
day," he remarked presently.

"Why not give up the idea of starting your own office?" Helen asked
suddenly, her thoughts having come to a definite point.

"What do you mean?  Try something else?  It would be pretty risky," he
answered doubtfully, surprised that she should want him to abandon his
profession, to admit defeat.

"I didn't mean that, exactly.  It wouldn't do at all for you to give up
architecture.  That never entered my mind.  Only--listen!"

She slipped from the lounge where she had been sitting and knelt beside
him, taking the lapels of his coat in her hands, her face aglow with a
sudden enthusiasm.

"I've been thinking of so many things these last months, and lately,
while Powers has been so sick, I've thought of everything since we were
in Italy together, since I loved you,--all those talks we had, and the
plans we made, the work you did, the sketches--those first ones."  She
paused, trying to put her tumultuous thoughts in order.

"I grow so slowly!  I was so ignorant of everything, of myself and you
in those days.  It has taken me a long time, dear, to understand, to
grow up!" she exclaimed, her lips trembling in a little smile.

"We stumbled almost at the start, you and I.  You started your office
and worked hard, always striving to get ahead, to get us comforts and
position, and not because you liked the things you were doing.  You
took anything that promised to bring in money.  And it got worse and
worse, the more we had.  It used to trouble me then, 'way back, but I
didn't know what was the matter with it all.  We lived out there with
all those rich people around us.  And those we knew that weren't very
rich were all trying to get richer, to have the same things the others
had.  We did what they did, and thought what they thought, and tried to
live as they did.  It wasn't honest!"

"What do you mean by that?" he asked blankly.

"I'll say it clearly; just give me time, dear!  It is true, but it is
made up of so many little, unimportant trifles.  You worked just to get
money, and we spent it all on ourselves, or pretty nearly all.  And the
more we had, the more we seemed to need.  No man ought to work that
way!  It ruins him in the end.  That's why there are so many common,
brutal men and women everywhere.  They work for the pay, and for
nothing else."

"Oh, not always."

"Most of those we knew did," she replied confidently.

"Well, it's the law of life," he protested with a touch of his old
superiority in his tone.

"No, it isn't, it isn't!" she exclaimed vehemently.  "Never!  There are
other laws.  Work is good in itself, not just for the pay, and we must
live so that the pay makes less difference, so that we haven't to think
of the pay!"

"I don't see what this has to do with our going to St. Louis!" he
interjected impatiently, disinclined for a theoretic discussion of the
aims of life, when the question of bread and butter was immediately
pressing.

"But it has, Francis, dear.  It has!  If you go there, you will try to
live the old way.  You will try to get ahead, to struggle up in the
world, as it is called, and that is the root of all the trouble!  That
is what I have come to see all these months.  We are all trying to get
out of the ranks, to leave the common work to be done by others, to be
leaders.  We think it a disgrace to stay in the ranks, to work for the
work's sake, to bear the common lot, which is to live humbly and labor!
Don't let us struggle that way any longer, dear.  It is wrong,--it is a
curse.  It will never give us happiness--never!"

He began to see the drift of her purpose, and resented it with all the
prejudice of his training,--resented, at least, the application of it
to him.

"The ranks are crowded enough as it is!  I don't see the call for a man
to put himself into them if he has the ability to do any better, I must
say!"

"Not if--not after all that has happened?" she asked mournfully.

"Oh! that's it.  You think that it's only _I_ who should go down,
meekly give up all ambition, because I can't be trusted?  You are
afraid that I will go wrong?" he retorted bitterly.

"No, not that quite!  Yet--" she hesitated, aware that the new love
between them hung in the balance.  Then she went on courageously: "No,
I have no fear of that.  You couldn't!  But the temptation to make
money will be before you every moment, and to-day few men can resist
that.  It is better to be in the ranks than to struggle to lead, and
then lead falsely, trying for false things,--false things!"

"That is what you think of me!" he repeated mournfully.

In spite of all the experience which had come to him the last weeks,
all that he had confessed to himself and to his wife, it was bitter to
realize that she refused him now that absolute faith and blind
confidence in his guidance which had made courtship and the first years
of marriage such a pleasant tribute to his egotism.  He had come back
to her repentant; he had said, "I have erred.  I repent.  Will you
forgive me and love me?"  And she had taken him to herself again with a
deeper acceptance than at first.  Yet when it came to the point of
action, she seemed to be withdrawing her forgiveness, to be judging and
condemning him.

In this he wronged her.  What she was trying hesitantly and imperfectly
to say to him was not merely the lesson of his catastrophe, but the
fruited thought of her life,--what had come to her through her
imperfect, groping education, through the division of their marriage,
through her children, through the empty dinner parties in the society
he had sought, through the vacancy in her heart,--yes! through the love
that she had for him.  While she was silent, clinging to him, baffled,
he spoke again:--

"Don't you see that I want to retrieve myself, and make some amends to
you for all that I have made you suffer?  You would kill every ambition
in me, even the one to work for you and the boys!"

"That would not make me happy, not if you made as great a fortune as
uncle Powers!  Not that way!"

"What would, then?"

"Do you remember some of those first things you did?  The little
country club at Oak Hills?  I was awfully happy when you showed me
that," she said softly, irrelevantly.  "Somehow I know you could do
that again and better things, too, if--if you could forget the money
and all that.  Real, honest work!  You could be the artist I know you
are, the maker of honest, fine buildings!"

In the enthusiasm of her face he read dimly once more the long-past
dream of his youth, the talk of young men in the studios, the hours by
her side on the steamer, when they had come together in the imperfect
attraction of sex.  It was but the flicker of a distant light, however;
he had learned the lesson of the city too well.

"That sounds very well.  But it isn't practical.  If you want to do big
work, you have to be your own master, and not work for some one else!
And art, especially architecture, lives on the luxury of the rich, whom
you seem to despise!"

"What does it matter whose name goes on the plans?  It's the work that
makes it that counts, and no one can have that but the one who does it."

"Now, you're talking poetry, Nell, not sense!" he exclaimed
good-naturedly, getting up from the lounge and walking to and fro.
"This world doesn't run on those lines, and you and I aren't going to
make it over, either.  You're talking like a romantic girl!"

"There isn't much else of the girl left in me!" she smiled wistfully
back to him.

"Just look at it practically.  If I go out of business for myself, I
couldn't earn more than two hundred a month working for some firm.
That's as much as Wright ever pays his best men.  What would that be to
live on?  For you and me and the boys?"

"We could make it do.  There are many others who have less."

"Next you will want to take in washing."

"I had rather do the cooking, when it comes to that," she flashed back.

"I can see us in a four-room flat somewhere south on one of those
God-forsaken prairie streets.  One slovenly maid, and the food!  A
cigar on Sundays and holidays!  You would buy your clothes over the
counter at Letterson's and go bargain-hunting for your weekly
amusement.  No, thank you!  I am not quite so far gone yet as that, my
dear.  You don't realize the facts."

His mind was not open to her conception, even in its simplest
application.  To him a small income with its manner of life meant
merely degradation.  She saw, as never before, how Chicago had moulded
him and had left his nature set in a hard crust of prejudice.  The
great industrial city where he had learned the lesson of life throttled
the finer aspirations of men like a remorseless giant, converting its
youth into iron-clawed beasts of prey, answering to the one hoarse cry,
"Success, Success, Success!"

"And how should we educate the boys?  Think of it!  How could we give
them as good a start in life as we had?  Why, it would be criminal to
them.  It's nonsense!"

"I have thought of them," she replied calmly.  "And I am willing to
take the risks for them, too.  I am willing to see them start in life
poor, with just what we could do for them.  Perhaps in the world to
which they will grow up, things will be different, anyway."

He had tested her in the tenderest point, and she was stanch.  He began
to see how far this theory of living and working in the world went with
her.  She was ready to put herself outside her own class, and her
children also, for the sake of an idea, a feeling that she had about
man's true purpose in life.

"I must go to Powers, now," she said at last, a little sadly.  Before
she left the room she went up to him impulsively and leaned her head
against his breast for a moment.  "Perhaps in time you will come to
feel more as I do.  And, Francis, there's another reason why I should
hate to have us leave this place.  I don't want to think that you are
running away from the disgrace, from the trouble which has happened
here!"  She raised her head proudly.  "That is what all cheap people
do, go to some place where they aren't known; as if it mattered to us
now what people think or say!  I want you to stay right here, where it
happened, and make a new life here."


After she had left him, he continued to walk to and fro in his uncle's
old library, between the heavy black-walnut bookcases, where it was
permitted to him now to smoke as many cigarettes as he liked.  The
house had been left very much as it was during the old man's life.  Now
that Mrs. Amelia Hart was free to make those domestic changes which had
been denied to her while the owner lived, she had never come to the
necessary resolution.  Powers Jackson's will was still effective with
her, even in death.

The architect thought of the old man, wondering vaguely what he would
have said to Helen's argument.  He was not so sure as formerly that he
understood the rough old fellow, who apparently had grasped the main
chance and wrung it dry.  His uncle's purpose in endowing that school
struck him suddenly as complex, and also his treatment of himself.
Possibly he, too,--the successful man of his day,--having exploited the
world for forty years, had come to the belief that ambition in the
ordinary sense of the word was futile....

The architect had not thought to sneak away from the place where he had
gone to failure when he suggested to his wife starting life once more
in a new city.  It had seemed merely ordinary good judgment to go where
he should not be hampered by a clouded past.  And he resented his
wife's feeling that he should remain and do a kind of penance for the
sins that he had confessed, repented, and repaired so far as he was
able.  She asked too much of him!  He had given up all the money he
had, and was ready to begin the struggle for bread with a fairer view
of his duties.  But it seemed that that was not enough for her: she
demanded now that he sacrifice his ambition, that he return to the
ranks, as a draughtsman, a clerk, a hireling!

Nevertheless, her words worked unconsciously in him, for hers was the
stronger nature.  He had lived his own way and had failed, rather
miserably.  What she wanted must, perforce, guide him increasingly and
determine his life.  Presently he went upstairs to the child's room.
There in the darkened chamber Helen was kneeling beside the bed holding
little Powers in her strong arms.  The child was asleep, his thin arms
stretched above his head along the pillow.  In the large bed the little
figure, white and wasted with the lingering fever of his disease, lay
peacefully.  Helen turned her face to her husband as he entered, and he
could see the smile that belied the tears in her eyes.  And as he stood
there in the silent room watching the two, the calm of elemental
feeling stole over him.  The woman and the child!  These were the
ancient, unalterable factors of human life; outside of them the
multitudinous desires of men were shifting, trivial, little.  For the
first time in his life an indifference to all else in the world swept
over him in gratitude for these two gifts....



CHAPTER XXXIV

Dr. Coburn had at last found time for the episode of matrimony, so
Venetia announced to Helen one afternoon.  She had run in on her way to
the city, and her eyes sparkled mischievously as she added:--

"It's just as well to have it over before Mrs. P. returns--it will save
her so much embarrassment, you know.  She won't have to strike an
attitude.  And it's lots easier this way, no fuss, no bother, and you
have it all to yourself.  Can you and Jack come 'round to-morrow
afternoon about four?  Dr. Knowles's Church--you know where it is.
Don't be late."  As she started for the door, she turned swiftly, threw
her arms about the older woman, and kissed her vehemently.

"Do you know, puss, I think we are going to be awfully happy!"  And
then she darted out of the door.

They met Venetia and the doctor at the door of the church.  Coburn, who
had on a new brown business suit that betrayed its origin by its
numerous creases, grinned very broadly as he raised his hat to Helen.

"Come here, Pete," Venetia called busily to the old terrier, who
hobbled after her.  "Pete had to come to see us married," she
explained, as she tied him to the iron fence near the entrance.  "But I
don't suppose Dr. Knowles would like to have him come in and sit in the
corner of a pew.  I'm sure he'd behave very well, though!  Uncle Harry
couldn't come, poor dear; he's over in Carlsbad taking the cure,--but
he wrote such a nice letter to my man.  We didn't ask anybody else.
Well, are we all ready?"

"Just about!" the doctor answered briskly.  "Fine day for a wedding,
isn't it?"

"Don't whimper, Pete," Venetia said for a last warning, turning to the
dog, and patting him once more.  "Your missy won't be gone long, and
when she comes back, you'll have cream for your supper and fruit-cake,
too."

Then the four walked up the long aisle of the great bare church, and
presently Dr. Knowles came from the vestry and performed the ceremony.
Venetia stood very still and straight, drawing in her breath in little
gasps, looking very hard at the broad face of the minister.  Coburn,
too, stood very straight, but Helen, who watched the two lovingly while
the words of the contract rolled forth in the empty church, saw the
look of tenderness in the man's face as his glance rested steadfastly
on the woman by his side.

In a few minutes they were out again in the sunlight.  Pete was
surrounded by a group of small boys, who were debating whether he would
bite if they got near enough to him.

"Here, boys," Venetia called, as she untied Pete's leash.  "This is the
day you must celebrate!  Give me some money, Sayre."

And she distributed to the delighted urchins all the silver that the
doctor had in his pockets.  Then the four went to a restaurant in the
city, where they had dinner together, Jackson ordering the champagne,
and they talked until Helen rose and declared it was time to leave the
bride and bridegroom.  The doctor and Venetia walked off westward to
their new home, arm in arm, Pete dangling in the rear from his leash,
which his mistress held.

"What good times they will have!" Helen exclaimed, watching them bob
across the gayly lighted thoroughfare, dragging the terrier after them.
"I suppose it's because they're both what Venetia would call 'real
clear sports.'"

After the newly married couple had disappeared, the Harts walked
leisurely northwards, and as the night was calm and warm, they kept on
beyond Ohio Street, strolling along the shore of the lake towards the
Park.  The great houses across the boulevard were already deserted by
their occupants, who had begun the annual migration.  The architect's
eye roved over the gloomy façades of these monstrous piles of brick and
stone, to which the toilsome steps of some successful ones in the city
had led; and he began to wonder, as he had when a boy, why in this
world, which seemed to hold so many pleasant things, the owners of
these ugly houses could be content to live in them.  To the boy's mind
the ambition to encase one's self in a great dwelling had seemed so
inadequate!  Again, to-night, he looked at their burly shadows, and
speculated over them without envy.

They loitered arm in arm beside the sea-wall, listening to the heaving
lake, the cool splash of water on the concrete embankment below the
walk.

"Nell, I saw Wright to-day," he remarked thoughtfully, "and had a long
talk with him."

She turned her head and waited.

"He's a good deal more of a man than I used to think him!" he went on
slowly.  "There were a lot of people waiting to see him, and he had to
go somewhere, but he didn't seem to mind that I was there with him a
long time.  I guess he knows pretty nearly all that has happened to me."

Wright had said nothing about the Glenmore or Graves, however, and
Jackson had not gone into his story very far.  But the older man had
heard, it is true, something here and there, from this man and that,
over the lunch table at his club, from one or two men in his office.
And he had imagination enough to picture the whole story.

"I told him I was thinking of going somewhere else," Jackson continued
slowly.

"What did he say?"

"Oh, a good many things,--he's a pretty human fellow,--looks at many
sides of a matter.  Well, in the end he offered me a place with him!
Not the old thing,--he's got some new men in, and can't put any one
ahead of them.  I guess he would have to make a place!"

She leaned forward, repressing the question that rose swiftly to her
lips.  But after a few moments, Jackson answered it slowly.

"I told him that I would like to think it over for a day or two."

She refrained still from questioning him, and they strolled on slowly
into the park.  There on the benches facing the lake sat many couples,
crowded close together, resting after the warm day's work.  Along the
stone embankment outside the glare of the arc lights the lake heaved in
an oily calm without a ripple, and from the dark surface of the water
rose a current of cold air.  The architect and his wife turned back
instinctively into the empty darkness of the boulevard.

"It's pretty good of the old boy to be willing to take back a man who's
been on his knees," Jackson mused, breaking the long silence in which
they had walked.

"Don't!" she murmured.  "That hurts--don't think that!"

"Suppose we try it, Nell," he said quickly.  "I know you would like to
have me--and perhaps it is best."

"But you mustn't do it just for my sake!"

"I think you are rather fussy!" he retorted.  "Why else should I do it,
my dear, dear wife?"

"But you might regret it, then!  You must be sure,--not do it just to
please me, but because you see things as I do, and know that it's the
only way for us to live and have peace."

Doubtless she asked too much of the man she loved, for most
beings--instinctive creatures--act from a philosophy of purely personal
influences.  Jackson Hart, certainly, would never have considered
relinquishing his ambition to thrust himself forward, to have a career
in this world, out of any intellectual convictions.  Nor could it be
said that his wife's half-formulated arguments had persuaded him.  But
she herself had convinced him, the strong, self-contained womanhood in
her, her undaunted spirit, with which he lived daily, and which
perforce colored his soul.  Especially, these latter weeks of suspense
and despair, while their child's life was in the balance, she had made
him hers.  If it were a victory for the woman, it was an emotional
victory, which she had won over her husband,--and such victories are
the only ones that endure in these matters.  He felt her spirit as he
had never felt anything else, and realized at last dimly that in all
the big questions of life she was right.  Beautiful, loving, strong,
and fearless, she was his!  And what was his "career" against her heart
and soul?

"Perhaps you will regret it," he remarked half playfully, "and will
want me to change later and do better by you and the children."

"Never, never!"  She drew his arm closer to her breast, as if
symbolically to show him her absolute content with what she had.

"Well, those fellows will grin when I walk into that office after my
little splurge!"  He swept his left arm through the air in an arc to
describe the upward and downward course of a rocket "Into the ranks, at
last!"

"To work, and live, and love, a little while," she added softly.

"It isn't exactly the way uncle Powers solved the problem!" he remarked
teasingly.  "I suppose you would have had him stay milking cows on that
Vermont farm?"

"I didn't marry him!" she retorted swiftly.  "And perhaps if he had it
to do again, he would stay to milk the cows."

"You think so!" he exclaimed sceptically.

For her, at least, there was neither doubt nor hesitation.  She
answered surely the inarticulate call of the larger world, the call of
the multitudes that labor and die without privilege, to share with them
the common lot of life.



CHAPTER XXXV

That small fragment of Chicago society which had known the Jackson
Harts, and interested itself in their doings, was mildly stirred over
the news that the brilliant and promising young architect had been
obliged to close his office, and had gone to work for his old employer.
Indeed, for some weeks the Harts furnished the Forest Park
dinner-tables with a fresh topic of conversation that took the place of
the strikes and poor Anthony Crawford's scattered fortune.  It
contained quite as much food for marvel and moral reflection as either
of the others.

More information about the architect's troubles than that provided by
the press had got abroad in Forest Park and the Shoreham Club.  It was
well known, for instance, that Hart had been obliged to dissolve his
partnership with Freddie Stewart, owing to grave business
irregularities, which extended beyond his connection with the recent
disaster.  It was generally agreed that his offences must have been
very grave indeed to necessitate, at his age, with his influential
connection, such a radical change of caste as had happened.  Men
commonly expressed their contempt because at a crisis he had shown such
a deplorable "lack of nerve."  They said, and among them were some of
the architect's more intimate friends, that nothing he had done could
justify this tame submission.  "Why!" Mrs. Phillips exclaimed when she
heard of it, "we've seen men live down things ten times worse.  There
was Peter Sewall, and old Preston, and the banker Potts, and a dozen
more.  They are as good as any of us to-day!  And he needn't have told
everything he knew, anyhow, to that old coroner."  The measure of a
man's guilt, in her eyes and those of many others, was what he was
willing to admit to the world.  "But it's that wife of his!" the widow
continued bitterly.  "She never had any spirit; she was cut out for a
clerk's wife.  I have always felt that she was responsible for
Venetia's trouble.  Well, she's got to her level at last!"

Finally, this portion of the great public held that under the
circumstances the architect had shown singularly little judgment in
staying on in the city: there was no "future" for him, under the
circumstances, in Chicago.  If he felt himself unable to hold his own
against scandal, they argued, he should have the wit to leave the city
where he had gone wrong and seek his fortune under new skies, where the
faces of his successful friends would not remind him constantly of
ignoble defeat.

Not that Jackson Hart had many opportunities of encountering his
successful friends in the great city of Chicago.  He had resigned from
his club, and the Harts had moved very far away from the pleasant
suburbs along the lake which were filled with their old acquaintances.
They had gone to live in one of those flimsy flat-buildings in the
southern part of the city, concerning which the architect had
speculated the night the Glenmore was burned.  It was near the
street-car line, for the matter of a nickel fare was now of importance
in their domestic economy.  Occasionally, some one of the Forest Park
ladies would report on her return from the city that she had run across
Mrs. Hart at Steele's, "looking old and queerer than ever, dressed in
the old things she wore out here, as if she didn't care whether school
kept or not, poor thing!"  But in the murky light of Steele's great
shop, they could not have seen the serene, almost radiant beauty of the
woman's face, the beauty of a soul content with its vision of the
world, in harmony with itself.

And Jackson, "reduced to the ranks" by a few grades, in that career of
his, which he dubbed good-humoredly "From shirt-sleeves to
shirt-sleeves, in three acts," was developing certain patient virtues
of inestimable charm in the domestic circles of plain life, though not
essential for brilliant success.  In his box of an office next Wright's
large draughting-room, he worked almost side by side with his former
draughtsman Cook, who had also come back to the old firm.  For some
months they hardly spoke to each other; indeed, the men in Wright's
generally held aloof from Hart.  But they have accepted him at last.
Cook has begun, even, to regain some of his old admiration for his
chief, comprehending, perhaps, that in the office by his side there is
slowly working out a career of real spiritual significance, if of
little outward display.

As to Wright, who knows more of the man's real story than the others,
he treats his old employee with a fine consideration and respect,
realizing that this man is doing handsomely a thing that few men have
the character to do at all.  His admiration for Hart's work has grown,
also, and he frankly admits that the younger man has a better talent
for architecture than he himself ever possessed, as well as great
cleverness and ingenuity, so necessary in an art which is intimately
allied with mechanics.  For it is true that after sluggish years there
has revived within Hart the creative impulse, that spirit of the
artist, inherent to some extent in all men, which makes the work of
their hands an engrossing joy.  The plans of a group of buildings,
which the firm have undertaken for a university in a far Western state,
have been entrusted very largely to Hart.  As they grow from month to
month in the voluminous sheets of drawings, they are becoming the pride
of the office.  And Wright generously allots the praise for their
beauty where it largely belongs.

Thus the social waters of the fast-living city are rapidly rolling over
the Jackson Harts.  In all probability they will never again in this
life come to the surface, and call for comment; for the architect and
his wife have already sunk into the insignificance of the common lot,
so much praised by the poets, so much despised by our good Americans of
the "strenuous" school.  They have had their opportunities to better
themselves in the worldly scale, but there has never been any question
between husband and wife of a change in their social or material
condition.  They even contemplate with equanimity leaving their
children in the universal struggle no better equipped than with the
possession of health and a modest education,--there to meet their fate
as their parents have done before them.


Almost the last public appearance of the Jackson Harts in that portion
of the Chicago world which had formerly known them occurred at the
elaborate dedicatory exercises of the JACKSON INDUSTRIAL INSTITUTE.
When the handsomely engraved invitation came to them, the architect was
disinclined to attend; but Helen, who thought only of the old man's
probable wish in the matter, induced her husband to take her.  The
exercises were held in the pretty little auditorium which occupied one
wing of the large school building.  There was much ceremony, and
numerous speeches, besides the oration delivered by the director, Dr.
Everest, on "Modern Industrialism," which was considered a masterpiece
of its kind and was afterwards printed and circulated by the trustees.
A bust of the founder, which fronted the stage, was first unveiled amid
great applause.  Dr. Everest in the introduction of his oration turned
from time to time to apostrophize its rugged marble features, while he
paid his tribute to the founder of the institution.  What the old
man--who had always avoided voluble people like the pest--would have
thought of the liberal eulogy scattered on his head, and of the
eloquent discourse that followed, on the future of education and the
working-man, no one will ever know.  The rough old face looking
inscrutably down on the little, bald-headed figure of the director gave
no sign.

During the lengthy oration the architect's thoughts went wandering far
astray back into his past, so closely involved with this handsome
building.  But Helen listened attentively to the director's flowing
periods, searching his phrases for an interpretation of his purposes in
regard to the school.  Dr. Everest, however, was far too wary an
educator to commit himself to positive ideas.  Yet in the maze of his
discourse there might be gathered hints of his attitude toward the
problem of industrial education.  After the opening tribute to the
founder, "whom we may call a typical leader of our triumphant
industrial democracy," the speaker dwelt glowingly on the advanced
position of our country among the nations of the earth, attributing its
phenomenal progress to the nature of its political and educational
institutions, which had developed and encouraged the energies of such
men as Powers Jackson:--

"We lead the nations of the world in the arts of peace, owing to the
energy and genius of men like our noble benefactor, owing, I may say,
still more to the character of our institutions, political and
educational, which produce such men as he was!"  Then followed a
flattering contrast between the "aristocratic and mediæval education"
of the English universities and the older American colleges, and the
broad, liberal spirit of newer institutions, especially technical
schools.  The intention of the founder of the Jackson Industrial
Institute, he said, was to broaden the democratic ideal, "to bring
within the reach of every child in this greatest of industrial
metropoli, not only the rudiments of an education, but the most
advanced technical training, by means of which he may raise himself
among his fellows and advance the illimitable creative ingenuity of our
race.  Here will come the boy whose father labors at the bottom of the
industrial ladder, and if he be worthy, if he have the necessary talent
and the industry, here in our workshops and laboratories he may fit
himself to mount to the very top of that ladder, and become in turn a
master and leader of men, like our great benefactor!  And we may well
believe that the sight of those benignant features will be an
inspiration to the youth to strive even as he strove.  That face will
kindle the noble ambitions of the learner, who will remember that our
good founder once labored with his own hands at the forge not far from
this monument to his greatness, and that he rose by his own unaided
industry and ability to command thousands of operatives, to control
millions of capital, yes, to influence the wide industrial world!

"In America, thank God, the poor man may yet rise to a position of
leadership, if he be worthy.  And what the world needs to-day more than
all else is leaders, leaders of men.  May we not prophesy that the
Jackson Industrial Institute will be a large factor, yes, the largest
factor of this great city, in educating leaders, and thus assisting to
put an end to that wasteful and distressing antagonism between capital
and labor?  By the means of the education here provided, young men may
raise themselves from the ranks of common labor to the position and
responsibilities of capital!  Let us hope that this will be the happy
result of an educational foundation provided by a great captain of
industry, and placed here in the heart of the workshops of Chicago.
Thus may we assist in preserving and fostering the spirit of our noble
institutions by means of which man is given freedom to reap the fruits
of his own labor and intelligence!" ...

And Dr. Everest continued on this plane of eloquence for another
half-hour, until even Judge Phillips, who had listened with rapt
attention, began to nod in his chair.  At last, when the doctor sat
down, stroking his thick black beard and wiping his shining brow, loud
applause broke forth from all parts of the auditorium.  The applause
sounded much like the ironic laughter of the gods over the travesty of
the old man's purpose, to which they had just listened.

To Helen, especially, it seemed that no more complete twisting of his
idea in thus bestowing his wealth were possible!  However, the great
school stands there, in the neighborhood where his old operatives
live,--stands there and will stand there for many years, mistaken or
not in its aims as one looks at this world of ours; and some day,
maybe, when Dr. Everest has grasped some new form of the educational
main chance, it may fall into other hands and become more nearly what
its founder meant it to be,--a source of help and inspiration to the
common man, who must labor all his days at common tasks, and can look
to no material advancement in this life.


After the exercises the rooms of the building were thrown open for
inspection, and the guests strolled through the laboratories and
workshops in little parties, discussing the oration and exclaiming over
the magnificence of the appointments.  The Harts wandered over the
school with the rest, and the architect looked about him with a certain
curiosity.  As they returned to the main hall under the rotunda, he
exclaimed, peering up into the dome, "Nell, I can't seem to remember
this place: it looks queer and strange to me, as if somebody else had
done the plans, and I had just looked over them!"

"Somebody else did do them," she answered, drawing him away from a
group of people who had come out of one of the adjoining rooms.

In a little while they got their wraps and prepared to leave the
institution, having a long journey before them to reach their home.  As
they crossed the entrance hall, they ran into Pemberton, who was alone.
He bowed to Helen as though he meant to speak to her, and then catching
sight of Jackson, who was behind her, he merely bent his head the
fraction of an inch, and, stepping to one side, passed on.  He could
not, evidently, forgive a stain upon a man's honor, arrogating to
himself, as so many of us do, the privileges of deity.  The architect's
face flushed at the slight, and he hurried his steps toward the
vestibule.  As they passed through the broad doorway, he said to his
wife:--

"Well, Nell, I suppose I deserved it,--the old Turk!"

"No, you did not deserve it!" she replied swiftly.  "But it makes no
difference, dear!"

And, fortunately, there are few things that do make any great
difference to real men and women,--and one of the least is the casual
judgment of their fellow-men.





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