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Title: Val Sinestra
Author: Morton, Martha
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.

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VAL SINESTRA



  VAL SINESTRA

  BY
  MARTHA MORTON


  [Illustration]


  “_Oh Soul! Mysterious Vale
  Where Spirits dwell--of Light--of Darkest Night!
  Who knows Thee, ‘Val Sinestra,’
  --Thy Melody--Thy Madness?_”

                         [From the Romash Dialect]


  NEW YORK
  E. P. DUTTON & COMPANY
  681 FIFTH AVENUE



  Copyright 1924
  By E. P. Dutton & Company

  _All Rights Reserved_

  _Printed in the United States of America_



VAL SINESTRA



BOOK I

  “The lives of men and women are pictures thrown upon
     the screen of Time.
  The Past--its misty perspective, its legendary charm;
     Truth veiled in Fiction.”



VAL SINESTRA



BOOK I


1

About twenty-five years ago, Pedro Gonzola bought that handsome brown
stone residence at the corner of Twelfth Street and Fifth Avenue, and
presented it to his bride on their wedding day. As the name implied,
they were of Spanish origin, and known as devout Catholics, supporting
the Church spiritually and materially.

Shortly before Julie was born, her father died suddenly, stricken down
with heart failure. The young widow was stunned by the loss of her
handsome adoring husband; her uncontrollable grief nearly cost her the
life of her coming child, who suffered from her mother’s anguish--at
least that’s what the good Dr. McClaren said.

After her great misfortune Mrs. Gonzola gave up the world and devoted
herself to her religion and the care of her little daughter. Julie was
sent to the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Seventeenth Street. The
Sisters educated her under the personal supervision of her mother;
their reports were satisfactory; the child was docile and receptive,
but inclined to emotional exaggeration; she would remain in the chapel
long after the other children had left, and once they found her
prostrate before the Virgin in a state of ecstatic self-oblivion, which
ended in a fit of hysteria. There was no cause for worry, as otherwise
she was “full of life” and a general favorite. Mrs. Gonzola tried
conscientiously to impress her daughter with the dignity of her wealth,
social position, and family distinction; but as the girl grew into a
woman, there was an ever-present irritating sense of failure.

Julie Gonzola at sixteen, with her brilliant exotic beauty, was a
mystery to her friends, her mother, herself. She was acutely conscious
of strange emotions, which she instinctively concealed; hers was a
nature of unexpected impulses, tragic possibilities, baffling secrets.
She came of an old stock on her father’s side, and on her mother’s
she could look down a long corridor, where she saw shadowy forms,
which frightened her. She was different from her girl friend, who
was care-free, bubbling, sparkling, dashing along like a brook which
overflows its bounds out of sheer rapture.

Maud Ailsworth lived down the street. There were no complications in
_her_ life. She ruled her mother, who was an invalid, and physically
her inferior. Maud romped all day long in the street with the boys.
Mrs. Gonzola never allowed Julie to do that; she was very indulgent in
her way, denying the girl nothing--but freedom. Julie was outwardly
submissive; she was sorry for her mother, who sat alone in her room
crying, silent iron tears of impotent despair.

There were two boys in the street whom Maud liked; as she grew older
she determined to marry one of them, but she found to her great
disappointment they were both hot after Julie. Floyd Garrison, a pretty
boy of an old American family, was very well brought up; Martin Steele
was a mongrel, a brute, a ruffian, but there was something very likable
about him. Maud looked on, watched them wrestling for the privilege of
carrying Julie’s books when she came from school, with her maid. There
were fist fights for her as children, rivalry as youths, and bitterness
as men. But Maud wasn’t discouraged; Julie couldn’t marry both of them;
there would be always one left for her. Then she had Tom Dillon in
reserve; he was common, but she owned him; he was her slave.

Julie was afraid of Martin Steele; he had bad manners and a violent
temper. He was always mussing up her hair, and winding her curls around
his fingers. Floyd was too polite to do that. There was a party at Maud
Ailsworth’s; Tom Dillon, that mischievous imp, put out the lights. The
boy next to Julie kissed her, pressing her to him with terrible force;
it was Martin. After that, he kissed her whenever he found her alone,
and he managed it often. She liked his hot unboyish kisses.


2

The Garrisons had lived four generations in a little wooden house in
East Twelfth Street, “a very pretty shanty” Martin called it, set back,
with a garden, and a wooden fence to protect the lawn and flowers from
passing vandals.

A portrait of the ancestor who founded the family fortune hangs today
in our Museum. “Yan Geritsen, baker,” endowed with business sagacity,
bought land under water in New Amsterdam for “thirty cents,” left it to
his son, with orders not to sell. Succeeding generations drained and
developed it. The name smelt of newly baked bread; it gradually evolved
itself into Garrison. They were one of the fast disappearing families,
who remained as they began--modest and thankful. They brought up their
son with a sense of responsibility, as trustee for the coming son.
There were no girls as far back as could be remembered; each family
branch had one son. Floyd’s father, “Jimmy” Garrison, married a school
marm. He became acquainted with her in Boston. She was very poor, but
descended from _the_ Aldens. Prudence Alden was a pale silent girl with
a hidden fountain of irrepressible love in all its rare purity. Young
Garrison’s friends couldn’t see what _he_ saw in her.

Garrison had never been in business; he disliked the everlasting talk
about money which was rapidly becoming God under the title of the
“Almighty” dollar. He had many acquaintances and one faithful friend,
Colonel Garland, a Southern gentleman, who had made a reputation “up
North” as a corporation lawyer, when trusts were springing up over
night like toadstools. The Colonel retained his sombrero, his soft
accent, his passionate devotion to a few friends, and many women.
When Jimmy Garrison put the administration of his estate into Colonel
Garland’s hands, it was intact, just as his father had left it.

“Let us pull down those old hulks and build up warehouses,” said the
Colonel. Garrison refused to consider that.

“The estate was not bought yesterday, for speculation. It has always
brought us enough to live on modestly, and something over; if I get
four per cent., I’m well satisfied.”

In time, modern buildings were erected on both sides of the Garrison
“hulks,” which, although kept clean and in repair, had to be rented
below the market value. Conservative policy has its good side; many
went under in the frenzy of over-building. In such a young country the
cult of silence, material rest, creative thought were as yet unknown;
the man who did not create capital was considered an idler; Garrison
continued to the end of his peaceful, worryless life, a gentleman.

The first realization of pain was the sudden death of his beloved
Prudence; he had to live for his boy and looked about, seeking a
sustaining force.

He rigged up a workshop in the top of his house, and took to modeling
figures, which were very well done--every-day people he had known, the
little Italian shoe boy, the newspaper woman, his friends, idealized
of course, his wife in every mood, his boy. He was particularly
successful with a smiling old Irishman, a pipe in his mouth, a hod
on his shoulder, standing at the foot of a ladder looking upward. He
called that figure “the Ancestor,” which title was a secret source
of amusement to him, although he was too good-natured to say _whose_
ancestor.

When asked the inevitable question,

“What business are you in, Mr. Garrison?”

Garrison would answer gravely,

“I muddle in clay.”


3

The Steeles lived next door to the Garrisons in an ugly high-stoop,
four-story brick mansion, which threw a dark shadow on one side of the
little garden, necessitating Garrison to move his flower-beds away.

Martin was five years older than Floyd and twenty years more
experienced. He loved Floyd in his way, but love was not an element
of his nature. Floyd looked up to him, as a little boy would to an
elder one who condescended to be his friend; he was sorry for Martin
because Mrs. Steele was only his stepmother, that was what was wrong
with him--he never had a “real” mother. Mrs. Steele was born Dolly
Winthrop of Boston; she was very tall, very thin, very straight, with
small transparent ears lying flat against her head. The only large
thing about her was her flow of language--that was tremendous. Mrs.
Steele’s “family tree” reposed on the parlor table in a red velvet
album--“reposed” is a very inappropriate word, for she never gave the
poor thing any rest. She was constantly turning over its pages, adding,
multiplying, never subtracting, until it fell quite to pieces, but she
convinced the old New Yorkers of her right to be one of them.

The “exclusives” of Massachusetts never forgave Dolly Winthrop’s
marriage with “that Steele man” who was fat, florid, wordless, and
a widower with a child. There were still spots in the Union where
pedigree and culture were of more value than “money”; but Dolly
Winthrop had made her calculation and it turned out a good bargain.
Her husband and his father devoted all their time to business; they
accumulated great wealth, and were not perceptible in her richly woven
society tapestry. There was one she couldn’t wipe out--that terrible
boy Martin. She tried honestly to make something of him, but he was
not to be moulded. She took him to her summer home in Nantucket. The
Winthrop Homestead had ship-lamps, a model of the _Mayflower_, clocks
that struck “bells”--numbered hours were disdained; there were also
stuffed seagulls which Martin set up as skittles, and a tottering old
sailor who took care of the garden and gave the necessary atmosphere.
Aunt Priscilla, Mrs. Steele’s maiden sister, lived there all the
year. In Nantucket, Martin’s capacity of hatred found fertile soil
for expansion; he hated the ocean; its unceasing roar fretted him; he
thought of a big sea monster in chains, writhing, howling, foaming
at the mouth. He hated Aunt Priscilla, who was Calvinist, Puritan,
Patriot, anti-everything else. She took unusual pains to enlighten the
“little savage” about the distinguished pedigree of his stepmother’s
family. One day she read to him for three hours, in her correct English
“twang,” the history of those good old Colonial times, when her direct
ancestor was a Judge in Salem. The boy’s eyes took on a glitter which
meant mischief.

“I’d like to be a Judge in them times.”

“You mean, you’d like to _have_ been a Judge in _those_ times,”
corrected Aunt Priscilla.

“Have been,” mumbled the boy.

Aunt Priscilla was delighted; at last she had awakened the pride of
ancestry in that little soul.

“Now tell me, dear, what would you _have done_ if you _had been_ a
Judge in Salem.”

“I’d burn you.”


4

One day Floyd found out there was a mystery on the top floor of the
Steele house; it was Martin’s fourteenth birthday. He invited Floyd
to ice-cream and cake. “Julie Gonzola was coming.” There was plenty to
eat, but Floyd lost his appetite looking at little Julie sitting up on
a high chair with all the best things piled before her. She let Martin
pile them, but she didn’t touch them--she couldn’t, in a strange house.

Toward evening the maid came to take her home. The two boys stood at
the window as she went past enveloped in white furs, her little feet
stepping out firmly, her head erect.

Martin’s eyes snapped.

“I’m going to marry Julie.”

“Not if I know it.”

Martin turned and swept the boy with a cold disdain terrible in one so
young. It hurt Floyd; he remembered that look, years after. He said
nothing, but turned to go.

Martin stopped him.

“Stay with me; I’m lonesome.”

There was a touch of pathos in his voice.

“Come, I’ll show you some family relics.”

He led the way to the garret, four stories high; it was filled with old
furniture, spinning wheels, oil paintings--some wretchedly bad, others
fairly good, all with heavy gold frames; every piece was ticketed with
a name and date, in the different generations of the family.

Then Martin became confidential.

“I’ll tell you something, but don’t mention it to my mother. These
things are all fakes; she haunts the auction sales, she’s a good
judge--she knows what fits in, she’s got a whole lot more in storage.
We’re going to move away from here.”

Floyd got a chill.

“What! You were born here! You will never leave your home?”

Martin’s mocking laugh rang out.

“Oh, you’re too sentimental. She’s not going to sell the house; that
wouldn’t look well. She’s going to fill it with our ‘family’ antiques,
and donate it to the city as an ‘Art Museum.’”

Floyd was struck silent as usual by Martin’s terrible lack of heart.

“What’s that?”

“What?”

“Somebody singing.”

Martin looked troubled.

“Nonsense, there’s nobody up here. Let’s go down.”

He drew Floyd into the hall; there was a door opposite.

It _was_ somebody singing--a man’s voice, broken, harsh, rising, and
falling in a strange inflection.

Martin, with a look of fear mingled with shame, tried to draw Floyd
downstairs. A heavy fist on the door pushed it open. A man of gigantic
stature rushed out. At first glance, Floyd saw only a pair of wonderful
mocking eyes--Martin’s eyes; there was a strange light in them. The
man was mad. Martin sprang at him, tried to push him back into the
room. He was too strong for the boy. Then Martin coaxed him. Was that
Martin’s voice, so loving, so sweet? He spoke in a foreign tongue,
strange to Floyd. The old man looked curiously at Floyd, then said
“Grutsie” and bowed respectfully. He learnt afterwards “Grutsie” was
Swiss dialect for “I greet you.”

The man had huge hands, knotty, sun-dried; the open flannel shirt
revealed a chest covered with thick hair. He had an enormous head, and
a thick white mane falling over his eyes. He wore corduroy trousers to
the knees and a pair of high deerskin boots with heavy nails in the
soles. He paced unceasingly. The floor was covered with indentures.
Martin shut the door carefully, took down a harness with bells which
hung on the wall, threw it over the old man’s head, cracking a heavy
whip, yelling at the top of his voice, lashing him with sharp quick
blows. The old man growled like a beaten beast; the whip hurt him; the
young devil was strong; in the sensual intoxication of brute force,
they forgot the horrified boy looking on.

The door was flung open. Mrs. Steele stood there, deathly pale.

“Stop that noise, you’ll rouse the neighbors; how dare you bring Floyd
up here?” She grasped Martin’s hand, pushing him toward the door.

The old man slunk into a corner; he was evidently afraid of her.

“Let me go!” roared Martin.

“I won’t. You’ll be punished for this.” Then a struggle followed; Floyd
never forgot it. She held him with her small strong hands; he bit them.
She struck him across the mouth; he kicked her. She cried out with
pain, but she held him fast. Floyd, with a terrified cry, rushed down
the stairs and out of the house.


5

Mr. Garrison was working at his clay figures, thinking how much Floyd
was growing like his mother; he had her sensitive, ideal nature.
The boy’s love for Julie might be a great blessing; it might be the
contrary.... He would like to live long enough to see that beautiful
little girl a woman.

Floyd broke into the room, sobbing out what he had seen. Mr. Garrison
quieted him, and told him the story of the Steele family, as he had it
from his friend, Colonel Garland.

The old man in the garret was Martin’s grandfather, a Swiss peasant,
who had come to America in the steerage, with his boy, a child of four.
He obtained a position as waiter in a downtown cafe, and the boy grew
up in the streets. In ten years the father was head waiter in a Fifth
Avenue hotel, frequented by Wall Street men. He never spoke more than a
waiter’s English. His boy came out of school with a correct knowledge
of grammar, but was silent, uncouth, unfriendly. Waiting for his
father one night, in the kitchen of the hotel, he noticed one of the
dishwashers, a very young blonde girl, crying bitterly. He questioned
her; she told him she was Swiss, like himself, that she had been in
America a short time, and was very unhappy. He comforted her. When it
became no longer possible to conceal her condition, he married her;
this was a bitter blow to the old waiter, who had, in those twenty
years of deprivation, saved one hundred thousand dollars, and wanted to
make a gentleman out of his son. Fate favored him. The girl died giving
birth to a boy. The doctors could not understand the case; she was a
very strong, healthy peasant; but Martin in a burst of anguish insisted
she had died of homesickness.

Mr. Garrison explained to Floyd the word “nostalgia,” originating with
the Swiss, which meant their longing for their native soil when absent;
the pain is intolerable, ending often in death. Floyd was very sorry
for the poor peasant mother.

“Then what happened?”

“The old man started in the hotel supply business; he rented one of my
shanties on the river front. The firm is still there. I used to see old
Steele walking up and down before that sign on the door. ‘Martin Steele
and Son.’ I could never make friends with young Steele; he was sullen,
wordless, and seemed to be out of his element. Then they bought the
house next door and lived there a solitary life. Your mother was sorry
for lonely little Martin, and had him often in here to play with you.
When Dolly Winthrop came from Boston to visit us, we saw she had her
eye on the rich widower.”

“And she got him,” said Floyd.

“Yes, unfortunately for him.”

“And what happened then, father?”

“She dominated those poor men with her culture, shamed them with her
pedigree, crushed them with her contempt. The old man fell into bad
habits, drank to excess. His mind failed; people spoke of an illiterate
grandfather in the house, but visitors never saw him.”...

After that episode in the garret, Mrs. Steele’s patience with the boy
gave out. She insisted on sending him to a strict military school.
He’d come home in the summertime when she was in Nantucket, and prowl
about the city during the long evenings. In Twelfth Street, seemingly
deserted, he’d run up and down stoops, pulling bells; then the “spring
rollers” would fly up, and he’d count the genteel poor who were
sweltering in New York; when he grew too old for such pranks, he would
spend his evenings in the garret watching his father and grandfather
playing a strange game of cards called “Tarac” and listening to their
jargon. He learnt the game and the jargon, with great rapidity.

His father, who was always afraid of troubling his wife, died suddenly
at his desk; then the old man’s mind bolted.

Mrs. Steele in a burst of confidence said one day to Mr. Garrison:

“It may be very wicked of me, but I pray to God not to let him live
long.” Her prayer was answered; unrighteous prayers usually are. After
that, Mrs. Steele closed the house and went to live in Boston; later
she sent Martin to Harvard. Floyd wrote him several times, but his
letters were not answered; it was many years before the two boys met
again.


6

Floyd didn’t go to college--his father couldn’t spare him, but he
gave him a good classical education, under the best professors. Mr.
Garrison wasn’t training his son for business; he wanted him to be a
man of culture. They took long walks into the country, with Emerson,
Hawthorne, Longfellow for companions. Thoreau was revolutionary, a
disjointed mind. The historical novels then in vogue were read and
reread, also foreign literature. Realism, Nihilism, and all the other
isms were looked into and studied as the result of “unhealthy” European
conditions. Mr. Garrison moulded his son in good clay.

Sunday was the happiest day in the week for Floyd. He would slip out
of the little Dutch Reform church around the corner, restless when the
pastor strung out his sermon fearing he should miss Julie, who went to
the Cathedral. Lately, he was fortunate to find her there without her
mother.

Good Friday,--the Cathedral draped in black. The sorrow-laden music,
the odor of incense gave him a sensuous feeling of emotion. Julie came
down the aisle, her prayer book pressed against her heart, her eyes
seeking things beyond this world. It seemed to the impressionable youth
a desecration to “bring her back.”

He looked at the sad faces and bowed heads.

“It’s wonderful after so many centuries, this sense of personal loss
in the people; life would be unbearable without the Easter joy, the
lilies, the Resurrection.”

His words sounded poetical to him as he spoke; he was very young. Julie
smiled; she seemed less divine out in the sunlight.

“I don’t feel that way, but Mother is ill and insists on my going; an
empty pew doesn’t look well.”

Floyd was shocked. He had read in the “great” writers those traditional
truisms we repeat mechanically. “The woman’s emotional nature endows
her with the gift of Faith; she has held aloft the Banner of Religion
in the great struggle against skepticism.”

They walked down Fifth Avenue. There was an expression he had never
seen in Julie’s calm face, an indefinable something, as if she had
pulled down a veil over her eyes. Before her house, she didn’t give him
her hand as usual. She was looking expectantly at the upper windows;
he followed her gaze. She waved her hand, smilingly; there was a face
looking out; the light made it transparent like yellow wax. In a moment
it was gone.

“Who was that?”

“My grandfather.”

“Why haven’t I seen him before?”

“He doesn’t come downstairs.”

“Is he ill?”

“No. I’ve wanted to tell you for some time, but Mother said it was
nobody’s business.”

Floyd was hurt.

“Anything that concerns you is of vital interest to me. You know that,
don’t you, Julie?”

“Yes, I know it.”

She braced her shoulders, looking him straight in the face; she was
very proud. He liked that; most girls held themselves too cheaply.

“My grandfather doesn’t come down because he disapproves of the way we
live. He says we have sold our souls.”

“I don’t understand you.”

“We are Jews. You needn’t come here again.” She went quickly up the
steps and entered the house without looking back.

Floyd walked down the street towards his house. He was terribly
excited; socially, he had never known any Jews. He had seen some dark
fellows who were wonders at mathematics and chess; boys of their creed
were limited in numbers in the colleges, kept out of social clubs, but
somehow they managed to filter through everywhere. What did it mean?
How could the Gonzolas be Jews? They were Catholics.

A young man came towards him, of striking appearance, with a touch of
something about him not American. He put out his hand laughingly to
Floyd. It was Martin.

“You’ve done with me?”

“You deserve it. Why didn’t you answer my letters?”

“Oh! I had no time; they kept my nose to the grindstone. I walked off
with the prizes just to spite Aunt Priscilla. Mother is very proud of
me; she calls me ‘my son’ now.” There was the old mocking glitter in
his eye; he had not changed.

“Don’t be angry with me.” He took Floyd’s arm. Martin could be very
winning when he wanted to. “You’ve grown into a fine, handsome fellow,
with the unmistakable brand of the aristocrat; strong with the women,
eh?”

“I don’t know.”

“As gone as ever on Julie?”

“More than ever.”

Then Floyd shot out a question.

“Do you know the history of the Gonzolas?”

Martin’s answer came back as quickly.

“Yes, they are baptized Jews.”

A red streak flushed Floyd’s forehead.

“Tell me about them.”

Martin leaned against the gate, revelling in Floyd’s agitation.

“The Gonzolas go back to the time when the Church in Spain commenced
war on the Jews; thousands of them were baptized, but they still
practiced their religion in secret. Romantic, isn’t it?”

“No; terrible.”

“Many of the Catholic Gonzolas became Bishops, Cardinals, and high
state officials on account of their wealth and culture, but others,
true to their Faith, fled to Amsterdam, where they founded the great
banking house which spread its branches all over Europe. Julie’s
grandfather was a handsome, dashing fellow. He married in the
family--they all do--but he had an affair with an Austrian actress
which lasted for years. Their son was brought up in the religion of
his mother who became pious with age and as expiation, dedicated him
to the Church. She died before he was ordained, and Gonzola, naturally
opposed, easily persuaded the boy against it--and sent him to America
where he took the family name. The bank he founded here was successful;
he became very rich. This bastard was Julie’s father.”

“But they are Catholics, not Jews,” insisted Floyd.

“That’s the joke of it,” laughed Martin. “An ironic witticism, an
impish trick of Fate. Pedro came with letters from his father, to an
old friend, Joseph Abravanel, an orthodox Jew, a fanatic, of Spanish
origin with infernal pride of race. He boasts his ancestors provided
money to help Columbus fit out his ship. Pedro fell desperately in
love with Ruth Abravanel; those Spanish Jewesses are handsome, but most
of them are old maids, because they won’t marry the Germans whom they
look down upon.”

“That old man I saw today at the window?”

“Is Joseph Abravanel, Mrs. Gonzola’s father.”

“But how did you know all this?”

“I’ve heard it scores of times from Julie. The crossing of the races
interests me; I’ve got my own ideas about that. I’m waiting to see how
it comes out.”

“It’s shocking for people to change their religion.”

Martin laughed a bit too loud, Floyd thought.

“What’s the difference? Who believes in it anyhow; do you?”

Floyd evaded a direct answer.

“We practice many things out of respect for our parents and our social
position.” He was undeniably well brought up.

“There’s one thing I like about Julie,” said Martin. “In spite of
everything, she remains a true daughter of her race. I like in her the
sensuousness of the Oriental; oh, I don’t mean sexness--that may also
be there latent; I hope it is. I see in her the Shulamite maiden who
gets up from her couch at night and goes to seek her lover.”

“What do you know about Julie? You’ve been away so long.”

“I’ve been a week in New York.”

Floyd was angry, injured. “Perhaps you’ve been writing to her all this
time.”

“Perhaps I have.”

“I suppose she was very glad to see you.”

“I don’t know. I was mad to see her. I couldn’t wait; I went straight
there.”

There was a look of passion in Martin’s face. Floyd hated him. He
turned and entered the gate. Martin was at his elbow.

“I’m coming in to see your father.”

At dinner Martin kept up a fire of witty criticisms. Floyd was silent,
preoccupied.

“Your house has been shut up for some time. Where is your mother?”

“In Nantucket. She loves the shores where her ancestors landed, in
sailing vessels.”

“Your mother’s pride of nationality is quite natural; I also feel it.”

“You don’t parade it. My mother makes capital out of it.”

“But,” insisted Mr. Garrison, “you are an American; you were born here;
you know no other home. English is your mother tongue.”

“Yes, but race is stronger than language. My people were Swiss
peasants. I may look and speak like a gentleman, but sometimes the lout
in me is hard to suppress.”

There was a silence. Mr. Garrison changed the subject.

“Are you going into your father’s business?”

“No--I’d smash it with my mad notions.” Then he flashed a bright look.
“I’ve been daubing in oil; it’s the only thing that interests me. I
shall go to Paris to study, if I live.”

Mr. Garrison was all animation. “That’s very good news. You will live;
you’re young, strong.”

“Who knows--America is going into the wholesale slaughter business. She
needs butchers.”

“You mean--”

“I think we’ll be pushed into the War.”

Floyd was all attention. He spoke with a thrill in his voice.

“If it comes, we Americans will not be wanting in patriotism.”

Martin didn’t seem to feel the insinuation.

“Patriotism, bah! Who cares? We’ll have to go; if we don’t, they’ll
shoot us.”

Mr. Garrison was sitting with his head in his hands. Floyd arose
and went to him. He had been failing for some time, complained of
dizziness. Dr. McClaren couldn’t discover any organic trouble. Floyd,
who watched every change of expression, saw him grow pale.

“Father--you don’t feel well.”

“Oh yes!--but I think I’ll go and rest awhile.”

He rose from the chair, staggered; Martin caught him, carried him up,
and laid him on the bed.

Floyd bent over his father, frantically begging him to speak. The
stricken man raised his hand in a mute blessing, then closed his eyes.

To Floyd, the next few weeks were chaotic; time, space, light, darkness
lost all meaning. Martin never left him during those black days; always
there in the sleepless horror of the night, to read to him, to go out
and pace the streets with him, when the walls became insupportable. He
would have gone under without Martin.

The funeral over, the will read by Colonel Garland, the sole executor,
the few distant relatives from far and near come and gone, Floyd took
up again the routine of life. Mr. Garrison had left everything to his
son, whom he hoped would marry young and be happy in the old home,
leaving it to _his_ son after him. The Garrisons had always lived well,
in a modest way, befitting their position. He was sure Floyd would
keep up the family tradition. He left money to many philanthropic
institutions and to his club where he and his father before him had
spent many pleasant hours and where he hoped his boy would sit many
years after him.

Colonel Garland, commenting on the will to Martin, said:

“A sane, righteous testament. He was a good man....”


7

In the months that followed, Floyd saw little of Julie. She called
several times with her mother, who was very sweet and amiable.

“I hope when you feel more like seeing people you’ll come to us often,”
said Mrs. Gonzola.

Floyd looked at Julie, who smiled at him, and returned the pressure
of his hand. Martin was a great deal at the Gonzolas’, but he didn’t
mention that to Floyd. One Sunday afternoon Mrs. Gonzola came into
the parlor, Martin was sitting very close to Julie, reading in
rich passionate tones a love poem by Oscar Wilde; Julie started up
and Martin left, but all that day she couldn’t meet her mother’s
clairvoyant eyes.

“I don’t like him, Julie. He’s no class. He was an unmannerly boy and
he’s a dangerous man. I’ve told James to say you’re out, the next time
he calls. If you meet him accidentally, avoid him.”

“Yes, Mother,” said Julie. After that she saw him often with the
assistance of a sympathetic French teacher, whose room was post-office
and rendezvous for the lovers.

Martin gave Julie glimpses of “life.” He took her to all kinds of
strange places--a chop suey restaurant, with its unpalatable dishes,
soft lights, and insidious Chinamen; a dancing cafe which at that time
was not supposed to be a place for young ladies--but best of all was
Hippolyte.

Hippolyte’s Parlor flaunted on Fifth Avenue. It had a magnificent plate
glass show window, fitted with Circassian walnut, in which was one red
feather fan on a cushion of Nile green velvet, one jeweled comb, and
a Pierrot costumed in black silk with a large white ruff, his face
wonderful in its languid perversity. Up the side street there was a
private door which opened halfway to let in ladies heavily veiled.
Julie’s ambition was to see what was behind that fascinating door;
today it is no longer a mystery. In the Middle Ages, Hippolyte would
have been a miracle man summoned to a fair Venetian to deepen the red
of her hair, the rose in her cheeks, the marvel of her eyes--selling
for a purse of gold, charms to rob a rival of a coveted lover. Times
have not changed, nor people; only appearances.

Martin took Julie into the shop one day and introduced her to
Hippolyte, who pronounced her “ravissante”; thereupon Martin bought a
costly box of perfume. Julie was afraid to take it home.

“I’ll settle that,” laughed Martin, and poured it over her, then they
ran around the reservoir to get rid of the odor. Mrs. Gonzola noticed
it, but said nothing.

Julie was standing at the window waiting for her mother. Her gloved
hands impatiently agitating the curtains.

“Mother, the car is here. I shall be late for my music lesson.”

The voice answering from upstairs was nervous, trembling. “It’s
impossible for me to go with you today; I’m not well.”

A flash illumined Julie’s face, but her voice was under perfect
control. “I’m sorry.”

From the upper window, her mother watched her, music-roll in hand,
stepping into the car. Mrs. Gonzola realized more and more acutely that
her lovely child was developing into a beautiful woman; there was no
feeling of joyful pride. Horrible, agonizing fear stopped the current
of her blood.

Julie, alone in the car, drew a long breath. The pink of her lips
turned red, the color slowly overflowing into her cheeks. She pulled
the cord, asked the chauffeur in her soft, sensuous voice to stop at
the nearest drug store; there she telephoned, then drove to the house
of her professor. She was a gifted pianiste; she played with a sure,
velvety touch, surmounting with ease all technical difficulties. The
professor went into ecstasies about the beautiful child-woman with
“Eternal Love in her fingers.”

The car turned into the Park. Martin was walking up and down by the
little lake. He hated to wait. She never kept an appointment; if she
didn’t come today he was through. His heart leaped when he saw her. The
girl had a terrible power over him. She said smilingly:

“We’ll go across town and up Riverside Drive for an hour. Then I’ll
drop you at the club.”

They sped along in the car. He pulled down the shades, drew off her
gloves, tearing the buttons in his haste, crushed her two hands in his
moist hot ones, spoke quickly, panting with excitement:

“I’ve thought it all out. I’m going to your mother tonight.”

“No! No!” gasped Julie. “Write to her first.”

“I have written to her, as politely as I knew how. I told her I loved
you and wanted you to be my wife.”

He read the answer, his voice shaking with anger and wounded pride:

  I have no words to reply to your impertinent letter. Julie will not
  marry until she is of age. You are not the man I consider worthy of
  her. You take it for granted that she is willing. I know her better.
  She will not consent. I warn you not to molest her with further
  attentions, and consider the matter closed.

She crouched in the corner, speechless.

“She will blame me. She will say I encouraged you.”

“You did, didn’t you?”

“Yes, but marriage! I’m too young yet.”

He pressed her to him with a force that left her helpless. He would
show her haughty mother who was the master. With his face pressed
against hers, he talked, expostulated, begged, threatened to kill
himself, kissing her again and again, until she gave in. She would do
anything, everything he asked of her, but he must give her twenty-four
hours to win over her mother.

“If you fail?”

“Then, I will go with you.”

“You promise.”

“Yes.”

“Julie! Your mother will influence you against me!”

“No one can do that.”

“You are mine; I will not give you up.” He swore an oath, which made
her shudder. With a quiver of terrible joy, she put her arms around his
neck. Her lips sought his.


8

Every afternoon, Floyd Garrison occupied a deep chair in the window of
his club on upper Fifth Avenue--a privilege inherited by the law of
precedence, from his father and grandfather. His great-grandfather was
one of the founders of the original club-house which was downtown--an
old building with raftered ceilings, wooden models of ships, and a
portrait of Peter with the game leg.

In time the “youngsters” of 1850 moved uptown, refurnished in plush,
and became very exclusive. They kept people out for lack of pedigree,
or difference of religious conviction.

A young scion of the new-rich said enviously to Floyd:

“I spend much more on my tailor than you do; you can afford to wear
your old clothes.”

Floyd smiled. He took in the young man--a fighting figure, physically
strong, eager, on the alert, with gambler’s eyes.

“You’ve never had to sweat blood for money.”

The expression was coarse, but it threw a mental picture.

“No, I’ve never ‘sweated blood’ for a living.”

“I didn’t say a living, I said money. Any idiot can make a living. A
man must have money and lots of it to be anybody; it’s a hot game.”

He wiped his forehead.

Floyd wondered if money could buy his armchair in the club-window.
He was sure it couldn’t, but he was a gentlemanly young fellow; he
wouldn’t hurt the man’s feelings. Destiny had been more than kind to
him. He wasn’t grateful; he took life’s favors as a matter of course.
In fact, he never gave it any thought. When his father died, sorrow
blunted the keen edge of existence; now after a year he was waking up.
His heart’s desire was Julie Gonzola. He had no fear; it was the eve of
fulfillment.

Sitting there in the club-window, idly watching the traffic, he saw
the Gonzola car. Julie was inside with Martin. They stopped at the
entrance. Martin sprang out; Floyd waited for him with a pleasant touch
of expectancy. Now there would be a long talk about Julie.

He came swinging in, his dark face quivering with excitement. Floyd
didn’t take Martin seriously; his unpleasant emotional nature gave his
actions a touch of exaggeration, which repelled Floyd, with his calm,
undisturbed nature.

“Well, why all this excitement? What’s happened now?”

He spoke laughingly. Martin was always getting into some transient
mix-up.

“I may as well tell you, you’ll have to know it. I’ve asked Julie to
marry me.”

Floyd was on his feet, hurt, angry; Martin had listened hours to what
he called “love ravings” about Julie, knowing he was waiting only for
his year of mourning to expire. It was treachery. They faced each
other--Martin had an air of triumph, but he turned away from Floyd’s
accusing eyes.

“I’ve given her twenty-four hours to prepare her mother.”

“She’ll not consent.”

“Oh, won’t she? I know the way to make her.” Then he walked away.


9

Julie crouched in the corner of the car, her dark pupils contracting,
dilating; she was going home to prepare her mother. The contempt in
that letter she had written to Martin was awful, but she had promised
and she braced herself for the fight. She was used to battles, bitter,
uncompromising; used to the struggle of antagonistic spirits; but
she had always been kept out of all that agony, pampered, spoilt,
worshipped by her mother, indulged by her grandfather--and now she must
fight them both, and she would. If they stood out against Martin, she
would keep her word and go away with him; this was her determination.
She stepped out of the car and found her mother waiting for her in the
hall; she knew what was coming. Mrs. Gonzola led the way upstairs to
her bedroom--watched Julie take off her hat and coat, and smooth down
her hair.

“How long have you been meeting this man without my knowledge?”

“You mean Martin?”

“Yes.”

“Since you forbade him the house.”

“This is the first time in your life that you have openly disobeyed me.
Why did you do it?”

“I love him, Mother, and he loves me, and I am going to marry him.” She
had rehearsed it in the car.

Mrs. Gonzola implored her not to marry that “ruffian” who had intrigued
to get her affection. No man of honor would have acted like that. He
was not the man for her--she was too young to realize it--she would
hate him in the end. She begged, entreated her to wait a year. Julie
burst into convulsed sobs.

“He won’t wait, Mother--I’ve been through all that with him. Mother!
Mother! Don’t stop it, don’t, I _must_ marry him! I _must_!”

Mrs. Gonzola gave a terrible cry.

“What do you mean--tell me! Why must you marry him? Why?”

“Because! because!--he says he’ll kill me if I don’t.”

Then Mrs. Gonzola warned her of the anger of Father Cabello, who
would never marry her to an atheist, a heretic--warned her of her
grandfather’s curses (and the old Jew could curse); she heard him
again, as he stood over her on the day of _her_ marriage, pouring out
his anger. His curses had come true in her wretched life, and this
disobedient child--she was suffering as he had suffered that day--but
now the old man was her only hope; Julie worshipped him. She threatened
her with his anger, the wrath of the great Jewish God who does not
forgive, who would bring down punishment upon her and her children’s
children.

The girl lay flat on the ground, quivering with horror, fear--then she
became quite cold and stiff, and fell into a cataleptic trance, which
lasted an hour. Mrs. Gonzola undressed her, put her into bed, and
lay beside her, holding her close. The girl gradually grew warm, and
smiled at her mother. The spasm of obstinacy over, she was again the
submissive child. She would sacrifice herself and Martin, it was her
duty; she became calm, almost cheerful, as was usual after those spells.

She wanted her mother to dress her as she did when she was a child.
Mrs. Gonzola was happy; her life was bound up in this girl.

“You look so beautiful, Julie; go and show grandfather.”

Mrs. Gonzola stood at the bottom of the stairs till Julie went in where
Joseph Abravanel sat reading, unconscious of the tragedy which had
been enacted below. He blessed her, called her a good child, the hope
of his life. Then she and her mother dined in the big room with its
dark Spanish tapestry and gold plate; it was a festive occasion. Mrs.
Gonzola praised Floyd and his devotion to the memory of his father.

“You always liked him best as a child, didn’t you, Julie?”

“No, Mother--I--I liked them _both_--” Then the fear came again of
Martin!

“He will kill me, Mother. I’m afraid of him, afraid.”

“Julie, I have no strength to fight for you. Marry Floyd; he is a
simple honest boy. He has always loved you.”

To her mother’s great amazement Julie answered in slow deliberate
tones--

“That will be the only way to save myself--but it must be at once. I
mustn’t have time to think about it--or I couldn’t do it.”


10

Floyd went home early that afternoon, stopping before the little gate.
He had taken great pains with his garden. The lawn was velvety smooth;
beds of flowers were banked up against the porch; geraniums bloomed
in boxes at the windows. The polished brass knocker, the soft white
curtain, gave the little house an atmosphere of purity, cleanliness.
Passers stopped to admire it; they felt that “nice” people lived there.

Floyd shook off a sick feeling; anger nauseated him. The knocker gave
out a musical call. The door was opened by a bright little Japanese
boy--the old servants had gradually left during the lonely year of
mourning. There was nothing changed in the house--the wood fire lit,
the candles on the table set for two; he saw his father at the head
of it. After dinner the boy brought his slippers and velvet house
jacket. He stretched himself in a big chair and lit his pipe. He loved
his pipe--that was the Knickerbocker strain in him; he smoked it with
reverence as the old Dutchmen did--in the days when pipes were longer
and tobacco better. He loved to sit before the wood fire, and listen to
its hissing, crackling, singing; he thought of his mother’s ancestors,
those sturdy Pioneers in their cabins, piling on the logs, bolting
their iron shutters against the howling wolves outside, who devoured
the bodies and cracked the bones of men. The Puritans are gone, but the
wolves are still with us; they eat the soul and sow wolf seed.

Then he thought how his father had planned his life for him, just as he
had laid out his garden. It had not occurred to him that his son’s life
must be different from his own. His father’s time was far away. Today
things change with a flash--there is no more “slow development”--a
fire!--a storm, lightning, ruins! He was a fool to be so sure of
Julie; she had been very sympathetic in his year of mourning. He took
it for love--Martin, that vulgarian, with his family history! He never
had the slightest suspicion of what was going on between them. He’d
been a blind fool.

He jumped to his feet; the clock struck ten. Twenty-four hours to
prepare her mother. Why hadn’t she said “No” at once and put an end
to it? She couldn’t want to marry him; it was unthinkable, but he
never knew quite what she did think. When he said, “A penny for your
thoughts,” she grew very serious.

“My thoughts are only for myself.”

He became impatient. Why make the thing so complicated? It was simple
enough; they both wanted her and they’d have to fight for her as they
did as boys. They never knew which of them she liked.

The telephone rang. He took up the receiver. It was Mrs. Gonzola’s
voice.

“Is it you, Floyd?”

“Yes.”

“Could you come over for a few moments? It’s late, but--”

“I’ll come at once.”

He stood before the mirror in the hall. It reflected a young man,
clean-shaven, straight brows, eyes deep blue, almost black, the mouth
set with suppressed pain; that was all the image gave out--nothing of
the unsounded depths. The narcotic of ease and inherited aloofness had
kept the lion of character sleeping.

Passing the Dillon house, Floyd noticed vaguely a sign “For Sale.” Tom
Dillon had inherited a large fortune which his father made in whiskey;
he had boasted he would drink up the well-stocked cellar before he got
rid of the house. It was illuminated tonight; he heard music and loud
laughter; Tom was on the job.

In the parlor of the Gonzola mansion the butler pressed a button which
lit up the unaccountable glass prisms of the electrified fixture; it
was a familiar room. As a boy, its grandeur had awed him; when he
grew older, he thought it old-fashioned, but he didn’t want to see it
changed. He knew little of the other part of the house, excepting the
dining-room which was in old leather, heavy, dark. He had always spoken
with superiority of the “charming Spanish atmosphere” of the room.
Tonight it struck him differently. “What an ignorant fool he was.” A
man who mentally kicks himself for being all kinds of a fool is often
awakening to wisdom.

The floor was parquet, smooth and polished. There were Oriental rugs
and deep armchairs, upholstered in Turkish, and a broad divan with
wonderful silk rugs thrown over it. Fur animals lay about with enormous
heads and glassy eyes. The window hangings were of costly lace. He had
often looked at that bronze figure in a corner; tonight it spoke to
him. It was the Moses of Michael Angelo--a noble head with a rippling,
flowing beard. The walls were covered with family portraits in gilt
frames, turning old gold with age. He had said with authority “they
are Van Dykes.” Now he noticed signed names unknown to him, probably
young foreign artists. He stood before a portrait of Pedro Gonzola,
Julie’s grandfather, painted in Amsterdam, after a ball costume. A very
handsome young cavalier in black velvet with white lace falling over
his long, tapering fingers--he thought of Martin’s coarse hands; no,
the room was not Spanish.

Mrs. Gonzola came in; she, too, took on a new significance; a woman of
fifty, small, sinuous, with pale eyelids, forehead, lips; the process
of Time had almost washed out the human face which had been, even at
its best, but a soft water-color.

Tonight Floyd seemed to see within that white Image. Past struggles,
like smothered flames, flashed up again momentarily. Her English was
perfect--so academic it sounded foreign; born in New York, taught by
professors, she spoke like one. She had tried to bring Julie up that
way, but changed conditions were too strong for her.

“Floyd, I am in a terrible dilemma. Martin has asked Julie to marry
him.”

“Yes, I know.”

She tried to draw away her hands, but Floyd held them fast.

“Your decision means everything to me.” Floyd put his arm around her;
he had known her all his life. She clung to him; there were tears in
her voice, but her eyes were dry.

“Julie told you of our ancestry?”

“Yes.”

“Does it make any difference?”

“Why should it?”

An evasive answer. Why didn’t he make it simple, and say “No”?

“Some people are prejudiced, but you have no family ties, and are not
religious. I don’t want Julie to marry Martin, he’s vulgar; they are
peasants, common cattle drivers; his grandfather was a waiter--I can’t
think of it, it’s too horrible!”

Floyd tried to be fair.

“But if Julie likes him better--”

“She does not; I’m sure of it. She is very impressionable. Martin has a
kind of brute force; you know him. He’ll talk her into it. It will be
a terrible misfortune for her; it will ruin her life! I must make it
impossible; I must!”

Floyd was speechless with excitement. She had her arms around him,
clinging to him.

“Julie is a strange girl, at the mercy of inherited instincts--she will
be safe with you.”

Why did she say that? What was wrong with Julie? Floyd began to take
Julie’s part against her mother.

“Mrs. Gonzola, be calm, I beg of you. You know I have wanted Julie
all my life; you know I want her now. If she loves Martin better,
what--what--can I do?”

“No, no, she will tell you herself,” Mrs. Gonzola glided out of the
room. Floyd wiped his forehead. What did it all mean? Why was she so
afraid of Martin? What was he doing there, anyhow? Martin had been open
with him, now _he_ was conspiring with her mother. No, he would do
nothing underhand. He would give Martin a chance to get his answer as
agreed. Julie must be free to choose.

She stood in the doorway. He wanted to tell her what was in his mind,
but she didn’t give him time. She came straight to him, put her arms
around his neck; her soft body intoxicated him. His heart’s desire
realized--Julie his wife; he couldn’t let her go, he kissed her again
and again. She laughed and said in her soft, sensuous voice:

“Oh, oh, don’t eat me.”

“It’s forever, Julie, forever?”

He stammered out the words. He was terribly excited, poor lad. She grew
very serious.

“Yes--it is forever.” Then she cried and he tried to comfort her.

“I’ve had a great deal of excitement today. Go now.”

She let him kiss her again. He went unsteadily like a soberly inclined
man who had rushed violently into an orgy of liquor. It was dawn when
he slipped quietly out of his house and dropped a letter to Martin
into the post-box, he had written everything, just how it happened.

  The only thing that clouds my indescribable happiness is the thought
  that you may resent my not giving you your chance, but it was out of
  my hands. When Mrs. Gonzola called me tonight, I had no idea of what
  was awaiting me. My happiness came to me. I cannot let it go.

He expected no answer to his letter. It came by return mail:

  There is nothing to be angry about; I would have done the same in
  your place. I would take her away from you now, if it were possible,
  but--don’t be uneasy, she doesn’t care enough for me. I don’t think
  she’s insane about you, but you are the safer proposition. You won’t
  see me for some time.

Martin had a way of disappearing when things went against him. Floyd
read the letter once more. “The safer proposition.” Of course, she
would be safe with him; he was too happy to let the significance of a
word worry him. He slowly tore the letter in little pieces, and said
nothing to Julie about it.

The next evening, he went over to dine with the Gonzolas. Mrs. Gonzola
had asked him quietly not to come during the day.

“Julie needs time to calm down.”

“Calm down?” laughed Floyd. “It’s too early for that.”

“She is quite exhausted. She must get used to the idea.”

It was not exhausting to him to get used to happiness. It came natural
to think of Julie as “my dear wife.” He saw many, many years ahead.
As they grew old they would get fonder of each other, like his mother
and father. A pang shot through him; if they were alive now! He had
not “lived” like other men; he had waited for the one woman. The close
contact was intoxicating, leaving him incapable of logical reasoning.
He waited impatiently for the evening.

Julie stood under the big chandelier; her soft white gown with a touch
of red velvet seemed a part of her flexible body; a filet of it was
drawn over her forehead. Her full red lips were a splash of color in
her pale face. She came quite naturally to him; Floyd’s heart beat
furiously. Mrs. Gonzola looked regal in black lace, relieved by a huge
diamond brooch set in old silver. She approved of Floyd; he was a
gentleman.

“My father lives with us. Julie has probably told you; I want her to
take you up to see him. Don’t speak of your engagement yet. Julie will
break it to him gradually, but I want him to know you, and I am sure he
will love you as we do.”

How gracious she was; it was like the condescension of a Queen.

“Break it to him,” as if it were bad news. Floyd felt uncomfortable.

Julie led the way up to the fourth floor. They entered a very large
room with mullion windows; one, at the extreme end, of yellow glass.
He was conscious of warmth, a glory of golden sunlight, the odor of
a hothouse, many palms. Under a tropical tree with enormous leaves
spread out like an umbrella sat a man with a black silk skull cap on
his head. He was absorbed in his book. He did not raise his eyes. Floyd
at a first glance caught the impression of age, because of a long thick
white beard, falling in waves, turning up at the edges in curls, which
reminded him of Michael Angelo’s Moses, but _this_ statue lived. Julie
spoke very respectfully. She seemed in awe of him.

“Grandfather, I’ve brought Floyd Garrison to see you.”

He arose and came toward Floyd. He wore a long black silk coat reaching
to his ankles, with velvet collar, cuffs, and slippers. His feet were
very small, his hands like a woman’s; the voice which came from that
frail body was clear, penetrating.

“My name is Joseph Abravanel.”

His eyes were young. Floyd felt himself being measured and weighed, but
that didn’t disturb him; he had no secrets.

“I know all about you, Floyd. I’ve watched you grow up. That little
snowball fight with Martin twelve years ago this winter was fine. You
were small; but you buried him.” He laughed like a boy. Floyd sat down
beside him, listening intensely; he didn’t want to lose a word. Julie
flittered about the room, watching them.

“I like you, Floyd; you’re a good fighter.”

“Oh, no,” laughed Floyd, “I’m a pacifist.”

The old man shook his head.

“Wait, you haven’t found yourself yet. We Jews are fighters, although
the world says we are not. We’ve been fighting for thousands of years.”

Then he spoke of the possibilities of America joining the War.

“It will come; we will be forced into it. We Jews will get the worst of
it as usual, but that’s good for us; the will to live becomes stronger.”

He continually repeated “we Jews” as if to impress the fact of his race
upon Floyd.

“The American aliens will find relatives in every European field of
battle; it will be terrible, like the Civil War, brother against
brother.”

Floyd had never thought of it that way.

“The Jews are like an old tree--its branches spread all over the world;
it roots are in the Bible. The Arian education is Greek, opposite to
that of the Hebrew. The Greeks worshipped form, beauty; its idols were
in stone. The Hebrews rejected that; they based their religion on the
‘Word.’ You see? the body, the Soul; the Image Greek, the Soul Hebrew.”

After that, Floyd found his way often to the fourth floor. He heard
many things foreign to his way of thinking, but of deep interest to him.

“Now,” said Floyd laughingly one evening, “I’ve made myself popular
with all the family.”

“No,” answered Julie, “there is one more, Father Cabello.”


11

Father Cabello was an indispensable part of the Gonzola family, from
the Celtic help in the kitchen, to the aristocratic old man on the top
floor, whose guest he was on Friday evenings, when he shared a simple
meal of vegetables and fruit, washed down with a glass of delicious
Palestinian wine; after that, a game of chess, and a long theological
discussion which lasted many a time until the small hours. The two
men, of the same origin but of different creeds, understood each other
perfectly. When it came to a burning question, such as the sincerity
of Paul--whether his hatred of the High Priests of Judea had not
instigated him to dethrone them, by putting another in their place, one
he had never seen, or whether it was an inspiration, “a voice out of
the wilderness”--then Joseph Abravanel’s eyes took on a fiery gleam.
Father Cabello, seeing the danger signal, would evade the question by a
witty remark, ending with a laugh. Julie gave Floyd a hint. He invited
the good Father to lunch with him at the club.

He sat in the window watching the priest shaking hands with one and the
other--a man of Church and World, known to rich and poor, and generally
beloved. Floyd had a feeling of embarrassment, but Father Cabello put
him at once in smooth waters by a remark about the “exclusive policy”
of the club.

“Yes,” answered Floyd. “This distinction against aliens is very
reactionary.” He forgot he was on the membership committee before he
was engaged; then he ventured to say:

“I--I am very glad you do not oppose my marriage with Julie.”

“Why should I?”

He knew Floyd was not a Catholic; why did he make him emphasize that?

“I was prepared for your opposition on account of my religion.”

The priest smiled.

“The man who fights the inevitable destroys no one but himself. I have
had one great battle in that family; I don’t want a second--if--it
can be avoided. When Julie was born, her mother and I together fought
and conquered Joseph Abravanel; a fine fellow, deeply learned. In the
great days of the Church in Spain, he would have been a distinguished
Cardinal.” The priest puffed regretfully at his cigar. “His ancestors
were foolishly fanatic; they chose the evil of emigration to the glory
of power and the Pope.”

Floyd answered eagerly.

It was a question of principle; they should be admired, respected, for
such noble self-sacrifice.

The priest liked the boy; there was no complication to fight in him.

“This marriage was a question of you and one other. I chose you.”

Floyd’s face grew hot. It had all been arranged between the mother and
the priest.

“Then you considered me the lesser of two evils?”

The priest smiled again.

“You are not an evil, you are a concession; we make them, if they do
not bring us future harm; the children will be ours, but don’t let it
worry you now.”

“Pedro Gonzola’s marriage with a Jewess was also a concession. Why did
you allow _that_?”

“This boy is no fool,” thought the priest; he took pains to answer the
question.

“We were mistaken in our calculations, we _are_ sometimes; we remained
passive because we were sure Joseph Abravanel would fight it with all
his might; and he did. But another power mightier than he and the
Church together won out; the strongest combination in the world--youth
and love. Ruth was his only child, she threatened to leave him, he
worshipped her, he had to give in, but he went to live with the young
couple, with a firm resolve to counteract our influence. The inevitable
happened; she came to us for consolation. Julie was born in the church.”

They were silent. The priest lived again that interesting conflict.
The old man had fought well, he was wonderful with his unanswerable
arguments, but reason went down under the great emotional rising of the
soul--the need of forgiveness.

Floyd’s voice brought him back.

“Why did he remain in his daughter’s house?”

“Because with the obstinate patience of his race, he had hopes of
Julie’s children.” Then he bent nearer, lowering his voice. “There is
something else you should know. From the day Julie was baptized, Joseph
Abravanel has never seen or spoken to his daughter.”

The atmosphere of tragedy folded itself about Floyd; he felt the
clashing of spiritual powers, within the walls of that outwardly
peaceful home, now creeping like slow fire into his life.


12

Near Floyd’s house, there was a small stone chapel ornamented with dark
wooden beams; it had been built by Mr. Garrison and Mr. Steele. They
brought over their pastor from Scotland, a rugged, sincere man.

Floyd still grew chilly, when he thought of the bare whitewashed
walls, the stone floor, the hard wooden benches. No choir, no organ,
no stained glass windows. The pastor generally took his text from one
of those Hebrew “calamity howlers,” and hurled curses at the heads of
his unfortunate parishioners. He was a man of mild disposition, but
he thought it was his duty to snatch them from the worship of Mammon.
The “Idolaters” would listen meekly, rise, sing a hymn, and file out
penitently, to pursue on week days, their ungodly practices.

In course of time the pastor went to heaven, his congregation the other
way; Martin said it might be the reverse. Other pastors modified their
curses or ceased to hurl them; the times demanded blessings, and paid
for them. The congregation grew rich and moved uptown. Floyd kept his
pew out of respect for his parents.

He told the pastor, a sensible man from the West with a large growing
family, of his coming marriage.

“We are not losing you; we lost you when your father died. Of course,
you must consider the bride’s family; the women generally arrange those
matters, but I would like to come and see you sometimes. Your children
may in course of time think differently.”

He, also, had hopes of the next generation.

Now Floyd pushed away all unpleasant thoughts; his youth demanded
happiness. He went up the steps of the Gonzola mansion with a light
heart, humming to himself. The butler ushered him into the dimly
lighted parlor. He waited, but Julie did not come. He heard voices
above. He was one of the family now by right of knowing all its
secrets. He found Julie crouched at the bottom of the upper stairs; at
the door of the old man’s room was Mrs. Gonzola on her knees. Floyd
tried to question Julie, but she silenced him with an imperative
gesture.

The voices of Father Cabello and Joseph Abravanel, penetrating the
closed door, rang throughout the house. Floyd heard his name; it was a
question of his marriage with Julie, of the ceremony, and again, those
future generations. He heard the deep tones of the priest--threatening,
persuasive; the other voice trembling, feeble, rising in a despairing
shriek, dying away in sobs. It was terrible; every word seemed to
strike that prostrate figure at the door like a whip. Floyd thought
of the rack. The priest came out wiping his forehead, he lifted the
stricken woman; the Church had won again.

They were married quietly at home, the bride in old lace and priceless
family jewels, a vision of Oriental beauty. Martin’s words came back to
Floyd. “To me she is not a modern girl, she is the Shulamite maiden who
rises from her couch at night and goes out to seek her lover.”

Floyd wanted to bring his wife to the house where he was born; Julie
gladly consented. He had been so dear, giving in to everybody, for the
sake of peace. At the door of his home, Floyd took Julie up in his arms
and carried her over the threshold as his fathers had done before him.


13

The young couple were called home from a brief trip, by the sudden
death of Joseph Abravanel.

Julie’s grief was terrible. She stood by the plain deal coffin where
he lay in his shroud, looking long at the marble face. Floyd felt her
suffering, but he was powerless to console her. He wondered why Mrs.
Gonzola kept her room; she surely would want to say good-bye to her
father. He turned; she was there; she entered slowly, as if in fear.
Julie made a quick step forward.

The voice that came from Mrs. Gonzola’s white lips was red with the
blood of her race.

“I must see him.”

“You dare not.”

“Have pity on me.”

“I promised him to keep you away.”

“He will not know.”

“He will know, he must rest in peace.”

They were not mother and daughter; they were enemies.

Mrs. Gonzola turned and went downstairs in silence. She died a few days
later without breaking that silence.

Joseph Abravanel had given away what little he possessed during his
lifetime; to Julie he left a small Hebrew prayer book, worn with age.
Mrs. Gonzola’s will was complicated. She had given generously to the
Church for years. Julie was to have the house and contents and the
income of what was left, the capital going to the grandchildren on
condition of their fidelity to the Church; otherwise it went to support
a theological seminary in Rome.

They were standing together in the parlor. The room was icy; her face,
pinched, worn.

“I am going to sell the house and everything in it.”

“What! Sell your family portraits?”

“I’ve had enough of them, persecuting me with their angry faces. They
despise me; I feel it. I have felt it all my life; as a child I saw
them in my dreams coming out of their frames threatening me! I am done
with them, done with them!” She broke into convulsive sobs. She took
him by the hand, and led him around the room, stopping before each one
of her childhood’s inquisitors.

“Do you want to live with them all your life?”

“No, I certainly do not--but--”

“I’ll have them packed up and sent back to the family in Europe who
will hang them in their picture galleries. We have none....”

The sight of Julie in lustreless black and a long crêpe veil made Floyd
shudder; it was awful. Black obscured her beauty, she spoke in low
tones, went around on tip-toe. There was the silence of death in his
house.

“I can’t stand this, Julie. We’re living as in a cemetery; it’s getting
on my nerves. How long is it going to last?”

“One year.”

Floyd didn’t like to appear heartless, but he had already learnt to use
a little diplomacy with his wife.

“Do you realize how unbecoming black is to you?”

She looked at him, startled.

“It is my duty to wear it.”

“It’s gone out of fashion. Only old people wear crêpe nowadays; a black
band is quite sufficient. Why should you parade your grief?”

She didn’t answer, but the next morning she came to breakfast in a
“royal” purple tea gown.

Floyd kissed her eyes, lips, hands; he had his sweetheart again.

Julie smiled at him. She liked to be worshipped.

“Come, come! I’m hungry. Don’t you want any breakfast?”

“I want nothing but you.”

The Japanese laid the morning paper on the table and discreetly
withdrew. Floyd looking over the headings, sprang to his feet.

“War?”

Julie gave a startled cry.

“You won’t go, you won’t leave me alone.”

“I must do my duty.”

He went down to see Colonel Garland. The office was in a whirl of
excitement. The Colonel was prancing like an old war horse. Everybody
was talking at once. It had to come; the President had put it off too
long; some were for, some against it, but the fact was there--the
United States had thrown her hat into the ring. Floyd’s face was
flushed, his eyes shining.

“I’m going to volunteer.”

The Colonel looked grave.

“Wait, let the single men go first.”

Floyd couldn’t be held back; every man he knew had volunteered. He met
Tom Dillon with a little flag stuck in his buttonhole, his hat set
jauntily on the side of his head.

“I’m going into camp tomorrow.”

That night there was a scene with Julie; she begged, cried, fainted.
Dr. McClaren was sent for, the diagnosis was--Motherhood. Floyd did not
volunteer.

All New York crowded the streets to bid Godspeed to the first regiment
sailing for France. “Our Boys” with flowers in their caps, flowers
stuck in their guns marched proudly. The people went mad.

Floyd, holding Julie tightly, stood on the corner of Fifth Avenue. He
had a feeling of depression; for the first time in his life a wish had
been thwarted. He looked down at the curly head with its sport-hat
pressed close to his arm, noticed the glances of admiration. She was
worth the sacrifice. Suddenly with a well-directed aim, she flung a
rose at a passing soldier. He caught it, pressed it to his lips with a
long glance backward.

“That was Martin,” said Julie.

They walked home in silence. Julie had a headache from the noise and
excitement and went to bed early.

Floyd sat up; he tried to think of Julie and the future. He couldn’t;
the cheers were still in his ears, the tramping of feet, the clashing
of cymbals. He sat there, out of it. Love was cruel....

The boy was christened by Father Cabello, his last service to the
Gonzola family. He had been called to Rome, where honors awaited him,
for his services to the Church in America.

“What name are you going to give him?” asked the Father.

Julie, lying in her white bed, answered:

“His name will be Joseph Abravanel Gonzola Garrison.”

Floyd thought it too high-sounding for modern times--an American
citizen couldn’t carry it, but Julie had her way.

After Father Cabello’s departure, she went seldom to the Cathedral and
gradually ceased altogether.

“I’ve lived all my life under the tyranny of two religions. My boy must
be free of that; when he is old enough he will choose for himself.” But
she still read her grandfather’s little Hebrew book at night when she
couldn’t sleep, or when she awoke terrified from the reality of her
dreams. She never spoke of it to Floyd, and he didn’t like to intrude.



BOOK II

“The Present--gray tones of actuality--A moving picture. Crowds
struggling--Shattered Ideals--Truth in danger.”



BOOK II


1

Martin Steele came back to America after two years’ absence. He was
known over there as the “Yankee Devil.” Danger seemed to attract him;
he rushed through a rain of bullets and planted the flag in the face
of the enemy. He was happy; the straining of nerve and sinew helped to
quiet an inward restlessness. On landing he found a telegram from his
mother; she wanted him to go up and see “The Museum” before coming to
Boston. He tore up the telegram with an ugly scowl.

The corner of Broadway and Forty-second Street--gigantic waves of
humanity passing, moving up, down, across--screeching automobiles
emitting pestilential odors--rapidly changing electric signs--the only
stagnation was in the air--it weighed on his chest, halted his breath.
He stood with his hands deep in his pockets. There was something
psychic going on within him; the boys who came home brought with them a
strange consciousness: they had seen miracles.

He felt the leaden mentality oozing out from the crowd, became keenly
conscious of the mixture of races; those tense, strained faces, looking
straight ahead; the past forgotten; the future--who cares? “We build
for today; the next man will build for his day.” “The Present” in
electric letters of colored flames. “How am I to borrow or steal
for--women--for wine. Prohibition?--ha! ha!--who takes that seriously;
who takes anything seriously?”

Martin elbowed himself through the crowd; a soldier in khaki, people
looked after him; a fine strong fellow from the prairies, seeing the
sight of the Great White Way.

He mopped his forehead, saying to himself, “Where shall I go?”

He stood before the house where he was born, read the black and gold
sign on the door.

“The Winthrop Museum. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday (admission free);
other days fifty cents.” It was Friday.

The sleepy official handed him a card. Martin threw down his fifty
cents and entered. There were a few stragglers strolling from case to
case, mostly strangers. A large omnibus, “Seeing New York,” waited
outside; the man on the box blew the horn.

“This is the house of the celebrated Winthrop family whose ancestors
came over in the _Mayflower_. The owners have generously donated their
historical relics to the city; ten minutes allowed for inspection.”

He looked at the old furniture, falling to pieces from want of repair;
some were really family relics, but the parading of them--“who cares
for other people’s old sticks”? The caretaker was putting on his hat
to go when Martin spoke to him.

“I’m Mr. Steele. I’m going to close up this dugout.” He put ten dollars
in the man’s hand. With one strong wrench he tore down the sign, locked
the door, and put the key in his pocket.

He stopped before the Garrison home; it was lit up inside. He opened
the gate, shut it with a sharp click, and went up toward Fifth
Avenue. The row of small brick houses were in a sorry plight. On Maud
Ailsworth’s window there was a sign, “Table Board”; on the Gonzola
mansion, “For Sale.” “The mother and grandfather dead, Julie married.”
Then he bought the biggest basket of red roses he could find, and
followed on the heels of the messenger.

Floyd was in the nursery, revelling in the beauty of mother and
child--a wonderful Murillo picture. Julie laughed at his caressing
epithets, “Two angels to take care of”--etc., etc., and all the rest a
man like Floyd would naturally say to the young mother of his child.
She went to dinner leaning on his arm. Julie was one of the rare women
who become beautiful with motherhood; from the first moment of its
consciousness, she was a changed being. The grief and horror of her
double misfortune vanished; her eyes became larger, more brilliant.
The dead white of her skin changed into a soft pink; the rippling hair
shone, getting more and more rebellious, escaping in soft curls about
her face.

She gave a cry of pleasure at the roses on the table.

“Oh! how gorgeous! Floyd, you mustn’t spoil me like this.”

“I didn’t send them.”

“You didn’t?”

“No, my word of honor.”

“Then who? I can’t think of anyone, unless--”

“Who?”

She fastened a rose in her dress, forgetting to answer.

The table was faultlessly set with fine damask. The heavy cut glass
sparkled in the candle light. A pine wood fire threw a soft glimmer
over the room; there was no other light. Floyd felt a sense of æsthetic
satisfaction. He hated the big flats of the West Side with their
electric illumination; he was glad he didn’t have to live in them. The
bell rang.

“Who can that be at this hour?”

“You needn’t announce me, I’ll go right in.”

“Martin!”

Julie was on her feet looking for a way of escape. Floyd put her back
in her seat.

“Stay where you are.”

Floyd’s hand went out to meet Martin’s; he’d come back from the front,
and they had known each other all their lives.

“I landed today. I feel like a stranger in a foreign land. Will you let
me have a bite with you?”

He hadn’t changed; heavily tanned; a little more muscular; a little
louder. He grasped Julie’s hand, and held it fast. There was a slight
heaving under the red rose; her cheeks had lost their color. He
absorbed everything with those eyes of his. She felt the loose gown
hanging from her shoulders, and drew it around her full bosom. He
turned to Floyd, with a laughing question in his eyes. Floyd laughed
back; he couldn’t help feeling a sense of triumph.

Martin was very entertaining, told amusing stories in French; there
was something pathetic in his efforts to please. Julie took a childish
delight in his medals. Floyd’s face clouded over; Martin took them from
her hand.

“They mean nothing to me.”

“You should be proud of them,” insisted Julie. “They are a reward for
bravery. You were brave. We read about you.”

“I wouldn’t give the others the satisfaction of thinking me a coward.”

“But you were afraid at first; it’s only natural.”

He turned and looked straight at her.

“No. What is there in life for me? It takes more courage to go on
living.”

There was a long pause; Julie arose, said “good night.” Floyd went with
her to the stairs, kissed her; Martin’s eyes followed them. Then Floyd
threw himself into the big chair by the fire, forgetting everything but
the dear woman, the dear child.

Martin sat puffing at his pipe; it was foul. Julie couldn’t bear a
pipe. Floyd had given up his then he shut the door carefully, lit his
pipe laughingly, saying something about a bad example. He was eager for
more stories of war, carnage, murder.

“A wonderful experience. I envy you.”

“Why didn’t you go?”

“I couldn’t leave Julie in her condition.”

There was a silence; then Martin spoke in a hard voice which conveyed
repression.

“Your experience has been more wonderful than mine.”

He threw down his pipe, pacing the room, muttering broken sentences;
there was a strange glitter in his eyes. He cursed everything,
everybody.

“Patriotism, bah! We punched holes in that lie, sitting in our dugout
waiting for the death call. Love of the soil; bah! I was born next
door; another year you also will be driven out. Our children won’t even
know the spot where their parents lived; what does it matter, anyhow?
The farmer, bah! He values the soil as he does his cow, for what he can
get out of it; it isn’t _his_ land. He came over, bought it, because he
couldn’t steal it, mortgaged it, misused it. The boys won’t go back to
the farm. They want money, they’ll get it the next few years. The rest
of the world will starve--America will wallow in the filthy stuff--not
you, nor I--we’re pikers, that’s what we are; our fathers thought they
left us rich; I could plunge in, reconstruct, sell out, gamble with
my money, and make a fortune. What then?” He stood glaring at Floyd, a
desperate, hopeless creature, Martin’s ravings always depressed him;
Julie’s voice broke the oppressive silence.

“Floyd, bring Martin up to see the baby.”

He stood in the doorway like a bashful boy, Floyd put the child in his
arms; he looked down at the little dark head against his arm, bent and
kissed it, giving Julie a look of lightning rapidity. It scorched her.

Martin became a frequent visitor at the Garrisons’, running in often at
inopportune moments.

Julie was sitting over the fire in the dining-room, the child asleep
in a little pink-lined basket beside her. She leaned back; there was a
feeling of lassitude, weariness; she had every reason to be happy; no
woman could ask more; but why that longing to get away from her child,
her husband, from herself? Why did she feel the walls of her life?
She knew there was something wrong with her; she felt too intensely.
Martin! Why had he come back? She was happy with Floyd; he was good,
gentle; kind, so different; but Martin! Martin!

She heard his voice outside, she must get upstairs; she went swiftly
to the door--too late--he was in the room taking her in with those
terrible eyes.

“Why did you break in like this? It’s very inconsiderate. I am not fit
to see strangers.”

“Strangers, Julie!”

She raised her arms above her head, twisting the thick ropes of falling
hair, trying to fasten them. Her shawl fell away, disclosing the
corsetless form, the open neck.

Waves of passion rushed through him.

“Don’t go! Give me one moment more, just one!” He caught at her shawl.
A terrible shame burnt her. She staggered out, slamming the door after
her. Martin pressed the shawl, warm from her body, to his face; the hot
tears rolled down.

He didn’t come again for some time. One day Floyd met him at the club.

“Why don’t we see you at the house? We miss you.”

Martin’s eyes had a look of abstraction.

“Your home is like a nest just now. There is room in it only for
two--and the little bird.” It was a beautiful thought; but that humor
never lasted long with him. He said abruptly:

“I’ve sold my house. They are going to build a skyscraper. It will take
away your light.”

Floyd’s face darkened.

“That won’t drive us out.”

“Why stay there? You can get a big profit.”

“I was born there; I want to die there.”

Martin laughed mockingly.

“A man who dies in the house where he was born should be ticketed and
put into a museum.”


2

The wreckers were at work tearing down the Steele house. Floyd,
passing, found Martin in overalls, his hair, face, eyelashes, white
with plaster dust, his tongue swinging with the hammer.

“You obstinate devil, I’ll show you who is the master.”

The wall was well built, too well; in the old days they built for the
future. He gave it a blow, another, another; it didn’t yield. He worked
himself into a purple rage. Blow after blow fell upon the unhappy
partition; it trembled, the others jumped away; it fell. Martin stood
triumphantly among the ruins.

Floyd’s eyes grew moist. Was there no feeling in the man? Did he
realize he had made himself homeless? Now he must join the rich tramps,
the poor tramps, that army of wanderers living here awhile, there
awhile, places to sleep and eat; luxurious, tawdry, squalid imitations,
according to their money value. New York was becoming a homeless city.

He related the incident to Julie.

“Martin looks seedy, he neglects his appearance, he’s a forsaken
wretch.”

Julie had a sudden inspiration.

“I’m going to get him married.”

Floyd laughed.

“It takes two for that.”

Julie stood before her mirror; a pleasing picture flashed back. A
smooth young face--not a trace of the physical agony she had been
through, of the mental agony; her life was running now along smooth,
conventional lines--a beautiful woman, bending forward, studying her
expression. Is there a tell-tale line? No; the mask fits to the life.

“May I come in?”

It was Maud Ailsworth invited to dinner to meet Martin. Julie was going
to see what she could do. Maud’s mother had been dead four years; she
had known her only as an invalid propped up by pillows, with an ice bag
on her head. Maud left school early to take the housekeeping, which was
a sorry job, in her hands. Mrs. Ailsworth’s philosophy of living was
that good things were cheapest in the end. The modest capital left by
her husband melted, they sold the house, and lived on the money. When
Mrs. Ailsworth died, Maud had five thousand dollars. She took a room on
the top floor rear of a fashionable hotel, and spent her time looking
for a husband. She wanted a nice man, she would wait another year; and
then--there was always Tom Dillon. She didn’t have to act with him. He
knew she was a beggar, she knew he was a rotter; but she wouldn’t do it
until her last penny was gone. She still had hopes of someone better.
She was pretty, quick with an answer, and much liked by men, but--they
didn’t marry her.

“Why?”

She asked herself that question many a night, after a party, where the
men went the limit. There _she_ stopped; the other girls jumped the
boundaries. She wondered if that was why she was single at twenty-five.
Well, she couldn’t; it wasn’t her virtue, it was her misfortune.

She noticed at a first glance how much prettier Julie had become, but
she didn’t compliment her. It wasn’t her way.

“You have had a hard time, haven’t you?”

“Yes, but it’s worth all I suffered.”

Maud’s nostrils expanded, taking in the subtle essence of violet powder.

“Oh! I _smell_ the baby.”

She flew to the crib and took the child in her arms.

“You handle it like a grandmother!” cried Julie. “Why don’t you get
married?”

Maud laughed mirthlessly.

“Why? Because the only man I really want won’t ask me; it’s your fault,
Julie--one wasn’t enough for you.”

“How can you say that?”

“What are you going to do with the other?” insisted Maud.

Julie answered with a touch of seriousness.

“I am going to get him for you, if I can. Do you like him?”

Maud spoke slowly, weighing her words.

“Liking is too neutral for Martin Steele; it is either love or hate;
I think I hate him.” She gave a quick glance into the mirror as they
went down to dinner.

The men were waiting in the parlor. Martin was ill at ease; he felt
like a waiter in evening dress. Floyd wore it differently; he melted
into it. Maud as the guest of honor was charming. All laughed heartily
at her frank admissions, and keen enjoyment of the fruits so long
forbidden.

“We’ve got a free hand. Politically, economically; the right to work--”

“You can have it,” interrupted Martin. “I’ll give you my share.”

“But we want more--Moral Equality.”

“Isn’t that a step backward?” said Floyd. “Until now, women were
supposed to be morally superior to men.”

“Why should they be? Equal rights is all we want. We are no longer
going to be ‘cast out’ for acting naturally.”

Martin took up the gauntlet.

“You mean you want to have children without being married?”

Maud’s eyes shot defiance.

“Yes, that’s what I mean.”

“Haven’t you taken that privilege?”

“I? Not yet, but I don’t know what I may do.”

It was getting too personal, Julie arose from the table. Floyd lingered
with Martin.

“She doesn’t mean a word of all that. She’s a fine woman; she’ll make a
good wife and mother.”

Martin blew rings of smoke into the air.

“I’m quite sure she will, but I’m not interested.”

Maud was curled up in an armchair by the fire, one leg under her, the
other hanging down; she was smoking a cigarette in a gold-mounted amber
holder.

Julie put her arm in Floyd’s.

“Let’s go and say good night to baby.”

Martin smiled at her transparent subterfuge. He looked down at Maud; a
well-shaped head, correct features, eyes curious; the black stuff she
used gave them the requisite look of the demi-mondaine. The glass beads
around her neck were cheap; what there was of the gown was evidently
designed and put together by herself. Her thin silk stockings were
going in the seams; he was sure there were holes in the feet. He’d like
to dress her well. Yes, she was a nice girl; he could easily be single
with her for six months--but marriage?

Julie’s laugh rang out upstairs. Maud was conscious of being checked up.

“Well, what’s the verdict?”

“Will you let me say what I think?”

“Yes, if you let me do the same.”

“You will say more than you believe, I less.”

There was something fascinating in the fellow’s insolence.

“Legs, neck, shoulders, bust, perfect; the symmetry of thighs and
limbs--classic; but you leave me cold.”

“Why?” She bent over with a touch of eagerness.

“Because there is nothing of mystery about you.”

“Ha, ha; why should a woman be a mystery?”

Then came a flash which revealed depths unsounded.

“Because all holy things are mysterious; when a woman ceases to be holy
to man, she kills love in him.”

Maud wouldn’t argue on those lines.

“Other men don’t think so.”

“They do. Have you ever been inside the Museum of Art in Central Park?”

“Oh, yes, I’ve been to the receptions.”

“Will you come with me to see the pictures and statues?”

“I’ll go anywhere with you.”

He sat on the arm of her chair.

“You will find in some of the mutilated Grecian goddesses the same
length of limbs and lines of body; but they are modestly undraped--”

“Stop. I don’t like that expression; I believe in leaving something to
the imagination.”

“A man’s imagination in that respect is a vile thing.”

“I never thought of it that way.”

“Think of it that way, will you?”

“Yes.”

It slipped out; she was sorry at once, but she didn’t recall it.

“When I look at the girl of today, I feel that I am passing with the
rest of the crowd before those wonderful marble statues, which belong
to everyone, to _no one_.”

She was on her feet now blazing at him.

“How dare you demand purity in us? Set the example; we’ll follow suit.
We give what we receive; no more, no less.”

She made a rush for the door. He caught her two arms.

“You women! You women! You prate equality; you’d hate like the devil
to have it. You know you’ve got the best of us.” Martin’s voice rang
out; it was always too loud when he was excited. “The woman of today is
gambling with every chance against her; if she wins, she loses; she’ll
get everything she wants, even sexual equality; and when she has it,
she’ll lose the glory of Life for the human race. Look at me. I’m the
average man, no better, no worse; and the most miserable, lonely wretch
that ever walked in a city overcrowded with beautiful women. I would
marry any one of them--high, low, rich, poor, if she would give me the
love I’m craving for. Tell me the truth now: can you love anybody but
yourself?”

She tried to extricate herself from his iron grasp, his accusing eyes.

“Don’t, don’t! You hurt me.”

He released her with a bitter laugh.

When Julie came in, Maud was hysterical. Martin must have been saying
something awful.

The Japanese announced:

“Miss Ailsworth’s car.”

“Oh! Have you a car?” exclaimed Julie.

“It belongs to Tom Dillon; he wants me to keep his chauffeur busy.” She
was herself again, saucy, reckless, unthinking.

Martin bent over her, speaking in low tones.

“I’ll go home with you; we’ll make up on the way.”

She knew what he meant--she’d show him--he couldn’t love _her_ for the
moment.

“I don’t want you; a man’s escort is not a guarantee of safety.”

She kissed Julie and swept out, followed by Floyd. He stood at the door
of the car; there was something wrong with Maud. He thought he saw
tears in her eyes. He jumped into the car and went home with her. Julie
was at the window as they drove off.

“Oh! Floyd’s gone with her. He’s so old-fashioned; he hates to see
women roaming about alone at night; he won’t be long.”

She pulled down the blinds, put out the lights, leaving only the
candles and the glow of the fire.

Martin stood watching her. She began to feel uncomfortable. Why didn’t
he say something? She was afraid of his silence.

“Maud’s a nice girl, and very popular. I wonder why she doesn’t marry.”

He answered roughly.

“I’m not going to marry her; drop that idea, will you.”

He came close to her, leaning against the side-board.

“You’re disappointed?”

“I? Oh, no.”

“Confess.” He put his hand under her chin, and forced her to look at
him. “You want to get rid of me?”

“Yes. I do.”

“Why? Tell me!”

In the half light, her face was like ivory. Her eyes shone back into
his. He started, and put his hand on her shoulder; what was it he saw
there? She came closer to him, closer; he dared not move. She kissed
him again, again, murmuring soft love words. Then he broke out, held
her as if he would never let her go, calling her his beautiful Queen,
his Oriental Pearl, his Song of Songs. She clung to him, her body
responding to his; how long?--a moment, which goes back centuries, a
century which is only a moment. He felt her tears on his face, as she
caressed and kissed him; every drop of blood in him answered.

“I wanted you always. You know it--you know it. I thought the longing
would wear away with time; my mother said it would. I believed her;
but she lied to me, lied! It was always there, getting more and more
unbearable.”

Martin closed her lips with a long kiss. This wonderful tempting,
seductive creature; he would never let her go.

“I wanted you to marry Maud to save myself. When I saw you with her
tonight, the pain was unbearable. I couldn’t go on--I couldn’t.” Then
she drew away from him, and went over to the fire, her hands clasped
together, her face convulsed; the red light enveloped her.

He came to her. She put out her hand to keep him back.

“Now it’s over.”

“Over?” How little she knew him.

“This is the end.”

“No, it is only the beginning. You were mine; I never forgot, never.
They stole you from me; nothing can part us now. Nothing!”

She was in his arms again.

“It had to come, or I should have lost my reason; it’s over now. Go,
before he comes back.”

She slipped away from him. He went out. She groped toward the door;
where was it? She was blind; then she fell.


3

Martin entered his hotel; it was past twelve. The night orgy had
commenced. He passed through the room thronged with dancers, his coat
buttoned up to his neck, his soft hat drawn over his eyes; stood
a moment looking on, a strange silent figure out of place in that
decorative humanity.

He sat by the open window in his room; the noise from below was
deadened by space into a soft humming sound. Waves of icy air enveloped
him. He was unconscious of cold or heat. In the flash of a moment,
life had taken on a different aspect; his entire being was one great
pulsation. Floyd--the difficulties before him, the dishonor of it, came
faintly from a distant perspective, but he thrust it fiercely behind
him. The woman filled the world for him; he lived over and over that
moment of tearing joy, her face transfigured with passion, her lips,
her tears, the pressure of her body against his--a statue come to
life, for him alone. He had been tricked out of his happiness by her
mother--but now all the powers of Hell couldn’t keep him away from her.

A restless night fixed his resolve. He knew exactly what he was going
to do. He dressed more slowly than usual, moving about in a kind of
hushed manner; he was no longer alone; she was there, clinging to him.
He jumped into a taxi and drove down to Twelfth Street. The shades were
lowered in the Garrison house. Next door the wreckers had been clearing
away the debris; there was now a large open space where his home had
been. The Italian foreman came up to him, speaking in his pleasant
broken English.

“A good job, eh? Everything gone, clean as a whistle. Tomorrow we
commence to build.”

Martin opened the gate of the Garrison house; as he stood at the door,
his hand on the knocker, he had a feeling of being mentally unstrung.
Criminologists say when thieves go to commit a crime they are sustained
by a strong sense of fatality, a fixed idea that it must be; they are
drawn into the vortex of crime by an irresistible fascination--the lure
of adventure, the justification of the equality of human rights, the
spoils, the gambler’s risk. Martin felt vaguely all this; a sense of
excitement stimulated him, like strong liquor. He caught his breath as
he entered the room he had left the night before. She was coming to him
again; now he would be the first to take her in his arms, to hold her
until she would consent to go with him; he would have to coax, perhaps
to threaten. He set his teeth; he had decided; it must be or he would
kill himself and her.

The door opened; he turned with a smile. Floyd stood there, very pale.

“Julie is not well. When I came back last night, I found her lying
unconscious on the ground. Did she complain to you?”

“No.”

“The doctor says it’s a serious nervous collapse. They have shut me out
of the room.”

“Can I do anything?”

“No.”

“Keep me posted, will you?”

“Yes.”

He had counted with everything but that--

He waited, eating himself up with suppressed fury; grew thin,
unbearable in his impatience; he would have her; nothing could prevent
it but--death!


4

The telephone rang in Dr. McClaren’s office. The doctor was
breakfasting, but he didn’t enjoy as usual his porridge with cream
and heavy black bread made by his Scotch housekeeper; his mind was
elsewhere. He had been up a greater part of the night with young Mrs.
Garrison, who went off from one fainting spell into another; she
complained of intense pains in her head. He left her sleeping under
bromides; she worried him. Dr. McClaren had lived forty years in New
York; a gigantic man, with bushy, iron-gray hair and eyebrows, a noble
head, keen, kind eyes.

His friends had advised him to “take out his papers”; he did, and
paid his taxes honestly, but never voted. He couldn’t understand the
political rings; he let them fight it out without help from him. Born
in Edinburgh, he studied medicine at its excellent severe university,
went to London to practice, starved there five years, then turned his
back on an “ungrateful country” that refused an able doctor a living.

Coming over to America, he made friends with some “natives,” and liked
them--nice simple fellows, “they open their hearts to you, like a grab
bag at a fair; everything in it is yours.”

“Medicine is a paying profession among Americans; they go about with
boxes of pills in every pocket.”

“Doctor, my wife’s just been through an operation. She’s nervous, give
her something to quiet her, will you?”

The doctor objected to sedatives when not absolutely necessary, but he
found the frail American woman had her own chest of quieting drugs.
She talked of her operation in professional terms, like a doctor. He
wondered if she knew she could have no children. He wouldn’t tell her;
it would break her heart, poor thing. He soon found out she _did_ know,
and didn’t break her heart about it.

With the help of his new friends, who went to unbelievable trouble
and sacrifice of valuable time to show him “the ropes,” he was
established in the spacious home in Thirty-fourth Street, which he
eventually bought; it was the only permanent thing in his life. His
simple Americans became complicated millionaires. The sands of humanity
shifted from decade to decade. A great city in the making left him
many a time bare of patients, but the winds of immigration blew them
in again. The tidal wave of Europe’s overflow became a national
industry--a weird wonderful gigantic machine; they put in a crazy
combination of human beings, and it vomited--Americans.

The assistant put his head in the door.

“Mr. Garrison seems agitated. He would like you to come at once.”

The doctor threw down his napkin and jumped into his car; the Garrisons
were one of the few old families left. He was very fond of young
Garrison; he had brought him into the world; nothing like that baby
had even been seen before; there was a controversy about the name; Mr.
Garrison wanted James, according to tradition when it had ceased to be
Jan, but she wouldn’t hear of anything so vulgar; she named the child
Floyd, after the hero of Mrs. Holmes’ last novel.

“But,” said the doctor, “suppose he should develop into a strong
individuality; that name would be too weak for him.”

“He won’t,” said Prudence. “He’ll be like all the men of the family, a
perfect gentleman.”

If Floyd’s father had lived, he would never have consented to the
marriage. Julie was a hysterical girl, with a tendency to epilepsy;
that was a secret in a family of many secrets; she grew out of it, but
there were always over developed emotional symptoms. He was called in
one night. She had been taken ill at the opera; the music affected her;
she was quite stiff; he brought her to with difficulty. He had a shock
when he heard of Floyd’s marriage. He thought there was something going
on between Julie and Martin Steele. The young couple seemed to be very
happy; she was a passionate mother; such mothers don’t make good wives.

He stood looking down thoughtfully at the sick woman, tossing from
one side of the bed to the other. He had assured Floyd it was only a
nervous attack. The excavating going on in the neighborhood accounted
for the chills alternating with fever. She was delirious for hours, and
after, exhausted, lifeless. Floyd wanted to consult another doctor.

“No, no, not necessary yet; it would frighten the patient, but I’ll
send for Miss Mary.”

Floyd was bewildered; Julie was in perfect health and high spirits
when he left and drove with Maud to her hotel. Scarcely an hour had
intervened; he found her unconscious. What did it mean?

Julie was not talkative about herself, although she drew every thought
out of him. Was there anything worrying her? Could any woman have it
better? He was her constant companion, anticipated her every wish; what
more could he do?

He sat brooding, the breakfast before him untouched, his paper
unopened. Someone was fumbling at the knocker outside; he went to the
door; he had a vague impression of a very small person; a clear voice
spoke; it was like a bell ringing in his ears.

“Mr. Garrison’s house?”

“Yes, what can I do for you?”

“Nothing. I’m going to try to do something for you.” She flew up the
stairs.

He was a bit startled, as if a bird had suddenly fluttered past him.
He followed her, she had already thrown off her cape, under which was
a white linen dress. She took an apron and cap from her bag, quickly
put them on without a mirror; they sat at just the proper angles; she
was used to dressing in the dark. Julie was lying across the bed;
the covering was in knots, the pillows all cavities. The girl bent
over her, murmuring low sounds like a dove cooing. Floyd tried to
distinguish the words.

“You’re very uncomfortable. Yes, I know how your head aches. Oh, what
pretty hair! It’s heavy, isn’t it? Let me roll it up for you. How warm
you are. No wonder.” She flew to the windows, let them down top and
bottom, putting a screen at the bed to shield the patient from the
draught.

She spoke in a low but extraordinarily clear voice, every syllable
sharply cut.

“A bowl of cracked ice, please; now the linen. Don’t bother; I’ll find
everything.”

She was already in the next room exploring. When Floyd came up with
ice, she was changing the sheets; it was the most remarkable feat he
had ever seen, she rolled one off and slipped on the other without
disturbing the patient. Her hands were tiny, but flexible, strong; it
was magic. How the room changed; everything in order, the bed fresh and
clean, the patient soothed. She held Julie’s hand, whispering all kinds
of encouraging things.

“Now I’m going to give you something to eat; you’re hungry, of course
you are; that husband of yours starves you.”

She threw a smiling look at Floyd, who smiled back at her. She knew he
spoilt his wife; he could see that.

“No, I won’t go away; I’ll stay right here.” She took a bottle of
prepared food out of her bag, which she warmed on the electric heater,
cooing all the time, going about noiselessly on the smallest feet
Floyd had ever seen. A trained nurse from his experience was a loud,
fat, middle-aged woman who upset the house, ate all day long, and had
to be waited on by the family. This little fairy was so helpful, so
executive; she knew it all, she hadn’t asked a question.

When Dr. McClaren came that day, he gave a quick glance around and said:

“Now everything will be all right.”

Floyd followed him down stairs. After a short silence the doctor spoke.

“Has your wife any worries?”

He tried to be quite truthful.

“Oh, no; at least, none that I know of.” Then he spoke about that
“little girl” upstairs, remarking how wonderfully quick she was.

The doctor smiled.

“Isn’t she very young?”

“She’s had twenty-three years of hard experience. She was born in a
hospital. Her mother died at her birth. The lot of us took care of
her--the scrub woman, the nurses, the doctors, the patients; she grew
up inhaling iodoform; it’s healthier than eau de cologne. Her dolls
were little orphan babies. She learnt to sterilize instruments at
an age when most children are being ‘perambulated’ in the park. She
toddled after me, sat on the cots, watched the patients get well,
watched them die. I could have made a good doctor out of her, but she
thought nursing was more helpful. Her school graduates human beings.”


5

The patient improved. Miss Mary watched her drop into a quiet sleep,
then flew over to see the doctor. She perched on the arm of a big
chair; it wouldn’t do to sit in it when one is tired; it was too
comfortable--

“What are you doing here? Anything wrong?”

“No. It’s that poor man.”

The doctor chuckled. Floyd Garrison, spoilt child of Fortune, husband
of the prettiest woman of New York’s pretty women, belonging to an
exclusive set, the happy father of a fine boy, and here comes this
child of the gutter and calls him ‘a poor man.’ Ha! Ha!

“The house is going to ruin, the food spoilt; the butler steals his
neckties, stockings, handkerchiefs; the cook falsifies the bills.”

“Well, how can we cure that?”

“By reforming the household; would it appear obtrusive?”

“I don’t know, but he’s a nice fellow and you might try.”

“Thanks, that’s what I came for. I want to make you my partner in
crime.”

“Wretch.” He flung a writing pad at her, which she dodged with great
dexterity, and flew out.

That night the dinner was uneatable. Floyd looked helpless.

“Things are going badly, since my wife’s illness.”

Here was Mary’s chance.

“Will you let me attend to that?”

Floyd thanked her, hoped she wouldn’t bother too much, put his car at
her disposal, then followed her softly up the stairs, feeling that he
had managed the house very well. Julie was asleep.

“Do you think I could go to the club for a couple of hours--that is, if
I’m not wanted?”

“Oh yes, go; it will do you good. Take the latch key and come in as
quietly as possible.”

The next morning Floyd enjoyed a good breakfast, waited on by a very
pretty girl in black, with a dainty cap and apron. He had never liked a
waitress--too much like a tearoom, but Ellen, the new maid, didn’t give
him a chance to miss the butler; she hovered around watching Miss Mary,
responding to her quick glances. This amused Floyd. Martin must come to
dinner; he’d fire off witticisms about being under petticoat government.

Ellen was a girl-mother; her sweetheart promised to marry her, but
he didn’t. Miss Mary saw her through her trouble, took her baby
to Bridget, the wife of a coal heaver, who had seven babies. Mary
encouraged Bridget to go on having them, but the cost of living was
too high even for a coal heaver. She took the poor “bastard” to her
wonderful bosom, and nursed it, happy because she didn’t have to dry up
her milk. Mary put Bridget in the kitchen, Ellen in the dining-room;
the little brat was smuggled in, and was so quiet, Mary was sure
he knew he wasn’t wanted. She put a neighbor who was also “under
obligations” in charge of the seven babies.

Floyd was allowed to go in every morning and sit with his wife;
he noticed Mary remained in the room. He said the same thing,
mechanically, every time.

“You feel better this morning, don’t you?” The atmosphere of the sick
room struck him dumb; that ghostly silent creature lying there wasn’t
Julie.

He sat at the breakfast table--well cooked, well served. There was a
flutter on the stairs. Mary flew in and sat opposite him, giving him a
quick glance.

“Miss Mary, we should have a night nurse.”

“Oh, no, there is no necessity of another nuisance in the house.”

“But, you get no sleep.”

“Oh, yes, I do.”

“I hear you moving about at night.”

“Oh, do you? I’m sorry. I’ll get a pair of soft slippers.”

He went up as usual to see Julie. Mary met him at the door.

She said in a low tone:

“Just a minute and don’t stay.”

“You feel better this morning, don’t you?”

Her eyes were very wide open; she was looking beyond him; he turned;
there was nobody in the room. Miss Mary was at the telephone calling
the doctor.

The sick woman raised herself in the bed, holding out her arms like a
child who wants to be taken up. He bent to lift her; she pushed him
away with unbelievable force.

“I don’t want you. I want--Martin.”

Miss Mary came flying into the room.

“What is it?” said Floyd.

“She’s delirious again.”

The cry never ceased; over and over again, supplicating, in a pitiable
voice:

“I want Martin!”

When the doctor came, she caught at him eagerly.

“What do you want, dear lady; tell me?”

“I want Martin!”

Floyd’s anguish was terrible; he was leaning against the door on the
verge of a collapse. Mary signaled the doctor, who took him by the arm
and led him into the next room.

“Is it Martin Steele?” said the doctor.

“Yes.”

“Send for him.”

“I will not. She doesn’t know what she’s saying.” Floyd’s voice was
harsh. He was on his feet in a frenzy of rage.

The voice came again, louder, more despairing.

“I want Martin!”

“Do something, for God’s sake!” cried Floyd.

“There is nothing to be done but wait.”

The doctor went back into the room. The cry continued. Miss Mary came
in.

“What is it, is she worse?”

“No, but the doctor says, ‘telephone.’”

Floyd took up the receiver. What could Martin do in that room? “No! no!”

“Martin! Martin!” It came again, that cry; it was terrible.

Mary put the receiver in his hand. He called up the hotel.

The answer came, “Out.”

He tried the club.

“Yes, Mr. Steele was there.”

“Who is it?”

“Floyd.”

“Julie?” came like a shot through the ’phone.

“She is about the same.”

Floyd heard the quick gasp of relief; wonderful how a wire can bear
witness.

“She has intermittent attacks of fever, calls for her grandfather, her
mother; she called your name once.”

“Mine?”

“It means nothing, of course, but the doctor thinks if she sees someone
outside the family--”

In a short time, Martin was there. Floyd went down to meet him; neither
spoke. Floyd led the way upstairs. They stopped at the door of the sick
room, and heard the cry of the delirious woman.

“Martin! I want Martin!”

With a bound Martin flung himself on his knees beside the bed.

“Julie! Julie!”

She opened her eyes, heavy with fever; they wandered about, seeking!
seeking!

“Julie!”

She lifted herself into his arms.

He held her close, whispering caressing words; she listened, her eyes
fixed by the power of his; soon the tired lids drooped; she slept.

Martin felt the fluttering of her heart. He had no sense of time,
place; the world was unpeopled; he was the only man, she the only
woman. The doctor’s watch registered forty minutes. Mary looked at
Floyd. His eyes never left them; his wife in his friend’s arms. The
doctor laid the sleeping woman gently back on the pillow. Martin
dropped his head down on the bed, helpless; Miss Mary led him
downstairs; he fell in a heap in the chair. He was conscious now of
Floyd, not the friend--a stranger, with a drawn face, an icy voice.

“What is there between you and my wife?”

The ticking of a clock became distinctly sharp. Should he tell the
truth now? No; it would make it impossible for him to come again; he
would wait until she got well. He put his hands on Floyd’s shoulders,
looking him straight in the face.

Floyd repeated his question.

“What is there between you and my wife?”

“What there has always been, a deep affection.”

“You are trying to steal her from me.”

“How can you think that; you told me yourself she called the names of
others.”

“I lied. She called no one but you.”

Martin’s face was telling tales; he went over to the fireplace.

“You are unjust to her, but, if you persist, I won’t come again.” His
voice faltered; his eyes filled up. Floyd had never been able to resist
him.

“You two are my only friends; if I lose you there is nobody, nobody.”

He went to the door, then turned and put out his hand. They were
friends again--to all appearances.


6

Mary jumped into the doctor’s car, and held a consultation. She sat
with her legs drawn up, her elbows on her knees, her little serious
face puckered. He liked her like that; something was coming.

“Well, doctor,” said he.

She put her little head on the side and returned his glance. She didn’t
smile as usual.

“It’s a psychosis. The fever is not physical; it’s a condition of the
mind. I think she needs analysing.”

His Scotch wrath broke over her head.

“Stop that!--I won’t have it with her; this analysing has done too
much mischief, dragging the wild beasts out of their caverns, showing
the poor victims the horrors that are within them. I tell you, the
people are playing with psycho-analysis like children with dynamite;
they don’t understand it, nor do we, yet. Let that woman alone, do you
hear!--unless you want to rob her of the little reason she has left.
She’s the victim of heredity; we can’t change that, can we? She’s the
victim of a certain physical tendency, inborn; we can’t change that;
she’s the victim of the errors of her ancestors; we can’t change that.”

“No, Doctor, but we all are, if we knew it.”

“It’s a good thing we don’t. Now I hope this woman’s love for her child
and her husband will counteract other influences; mind you, she’s a
good, innocent woman; but she is obsessed by an evil spirit which must
be exorcised.” There he was, the old Scotch Calvinist.

Julie was quiet until evening.

“Where is Floyd?”

“Do you want to see him?”

“Yes.”

Mary flew downstairs. Floyd was trying to read the evening paper;
trying to be just to his wife, his friend. He hated to be suspicious;
it turned the honey of life to gall; such thoughts made him ill; he
couldn’t live with them. He heard a patter, patter. Mary put her head
in the door, beckoning him. He found Julie crushed into the pillows.

“Miss Mary says I’ve been out of my head.”

Floyd was vexed. Why did Miss Mary tell her that?

“Did I say irrational things?”

“No, just babbled a bit.”

“What did I say?”

“Only disconnected words without meaning.”

She evidently didn’t know what had happened.

Floyd smoked his pipe that night, and read Emerson on Friendship.
Martin was to be pitied; he was a lonely wretch; he’d give him the
benefit of the doubt. Mary came in to say good night.

“Everything is all right. We’ll close up early. She’ll have a quiet
night, I hope.”

The hope was not realized. The sick woman had a terrible night; her
pulse was jumping like a frenzied thing, but her mind was clear. She
clung frantically to Mary.

“I’m lost! save me! save me!” then she broke into convulsive sobbing,
always begging to be helped. Mary shut the door carefully. It wouldn’t
do for that “poor man” to hear.

Floyd tossed uneasily. He was sure there was something mentally wrong
with Julie; he had heard of women getting “queer” after weaning a
child. He had been too harsh with Martin. She had called him in her
delirium; that meant nothing. Martin had wanted to marry her, but it
was all long forgotten; she was _his_ wife now, the mother of his
child; it was foolish to make a fuss about a few moments of delirium.
Julie would never know about it.

“What was that?”

He jumped out of bed and listened. He thought he heard somebody
calling, “Martin! Martin!”

Julie’s door was shut; all was still. It was his own imagination; that
cry was still in his ears. He went back to bed; he must get that idea
out of his head; he wouldn’t let it become a mania with him. He would
see Martin often, have him to dinner. It was low of him to keep on
thinking evil of them both. The thought acted like a sedative; he slept.

He was up and dressed before seven. The night’s depression descended
again over him like a black veil. There was a knock; Mary stood
outside, pale, agitated.

“What is it? What is it?”

“Come and see.”

It was dark. He saw Julie’s figure lying across the bed; she was in a
deep sleep. Mary opened a shutter gently. He stifled an exclamation.
The long thick wavy hair flowing loosely over the pillow, over her
heart, had turned white; she lay in an ocean of foam. What had
happened to her in the night? What had been at work in her brain?--he
had heard vaguely of a sudden shock turning the hair white. He gazed
and gazed; it was as if an artist had dipped his brush into molten
silver and drawn it through every hair in her head. Another long look;
then he went downstairs, putting his hand on the balustrade to support
himself.

Mary closed the shutter softly and followed him. His mind was confused.
The ordeal with his wife, culminating in this, was too much; he needed
help. She waited, standing quietly beside him. He felt her intense
sympathy; then he said in a low, hushed voice:

“What could have caused it?”

“It can easily be accounted for. Your wife is subject to violent
nervous headaches; she had an attack in the night.”

“Was she sobbing?”

“Yes, she suffered terribly. We must be brave for her sake.”

He looked at her standing there, her eyes shining, undaunted,
courageous. Where did she get that spirit? She was no longer only a
nurse; she was a comrade, a fellow-fighter; her voice was like a call
to arms.

“I was always very happy,” he said. “I mean, I thought it was
happiness, but I see now that it was like being under shelter when
others were destitute; that kind of happiness is selfish, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” said Mary. “That’s why I try not to be too happy.”

“My parents were my only friends. They left me; I had only my wife.
Perhaps I wanted too much from her; she was unfortunate in her family;
I should have taken better care--I--can’t see ahead! I don’t know how
this will affect her. I--I don’t know.”

“It will be a blow, but you can soften it for her.”

“I, what can I do?”

Mary hesitated. Why was she obliged to say what he should have known
intuitively: did he love his wife?

“Her heart would be at rest if you would convince her it doesn’t matter
to you what color her hair is.”

He was on his feet, his eyes averted.

“You want me to tell her?”

“Yes.”

He went to the door, then came back. “Will you come with me?”

“It’s better for you to go alone.”

He entered his wife’s room, sat down beside the bed, feeling like an
intruder. She awoke startled, her eyes were deep with the sleep-shadows
of opiates.

“Did I frighten you?”

“No, but I felt someone was here--Something has happened! Tell me?”

“Yes. Your hair.”

“What about my hair?”

“It has turned gray since last night.” She was out of bed with a bound,
standing before the mirror.

“Let in the light.”

He went from window to window; the sun struck the surface of the
looking glass, dancing in and out of the silver veil that enveloped her.

She gave a low cry, and shrunk away.

“Julie, don’t grieve about what can’t be helped; it often happens from
such headaches; it’s your nerves.” He wanted to say, “You will always
be the same to me because I love you.” He couldn’t.

“It is not a symptom, it is a punishment.”

“You have done nothing to deserve punishment.”

She looked at him, through him, past him. He didn’t know her thoughts;
that door was closed to him.

“I want to see Miss Mary.”

Mary was surprised to find her patient sitting up in bed. She had wound
her hair in a tight coil around her head, covering it with a heavy lace
cap.

“Miss Mary, I am feeling better this morning; I don’t think I shall
need you any longer.”

Mary gasped. Where was the exhausted creature of the night before, the
helpless invalid?

“I’m very glad, Mrs. Garrison. Any time you send for me, I will come.”
Then she took Julie’s hand, bent forward and kissed her; there was a
slight quiver of the mouth.

“Don’t think I’m ungrateful, but I couldn’t bear you to say anything;
it’s unspeakable, good-bye.”

Floyd was waiting in the hall when Mary came down with her hat on,
carrying her suitcase.

“You are not going?”

“There is nothing more for me to do here. Your wife is better; the
shock will cure her.” Then she smiled at him. “I’m aching for the
slums; my cradle stood there; there I learnt what life means; when I
get thinking too much of myself, I go back and learn again.”

He went with her to the door, and held her hand in a strong grasp; he
could think of nothing worth saying. A cloud of dust blew in their
faces; they were pulling down the little row of brick houses on the
other side.

Floyd stopped in the hall to brush himself off. The wreckers were
working within him, scattering debris. He went up to his wife’s room
again, listened; there was no sound. He turned the knob cautiously; the
door was locked. There was a sense of relief; he wouldn’t have to spend
the morning in that dark room. He jumped into a taxi and drove to his
club.


7

Julie gradually recovered; there was a feeling of strength in her
limbs, a desire for movement she hadn’t felt since the birth of her
child; it was the strength of despair. One day she took out her pretty
gowns and hung them one by one on silk hangers in the room next to her
bedroom. It had been Floyd’s den; he used to sit there at night during
the first year of their marriage, reading. He could see his darling in
her lace-trimmed bed. She complained she had no place to hang the Paris
creations he bought for her; he suggested putting racks around his den,
which they did; those lace, gold and silver gowns seemed to him to hang
on bodies which swayed to and fro in the draught. The face was always
Julie’s, in her different moods. The perfume stifled him. He had an
old-fashioned idea about perfume; his mother never used it. He gave up
reading there at night.

She put her hats in boxes, her slippers, stockings, lingerie, wrapped
carefully in tissue paper, in an old bureau, a family relic which Floyd
refused to sell; it was two hours of fatiguing work, but she wasn’t
tired. She opened the door and peered out; there was no one about; she
crept down the stairs, went from room to room, covered furniture and
mirrors with gray linen, and crept up again. When Ellen came home with
the boy, she noticed her dark shining hair. She dismissed her on the
spot, and rang up for the Japanese butler to come back.

Floyd was shocked to find the house so bare and cheerless.

“Why have you had the covers put on again?”

“It’s dusty. The furniture will be ruined, and we’re not going to
entertain.”

He didn’t answer. When he saw the Japanese, he asked for Ellen.

“Oh! I sent her away.”

“Why! has she done anything wrong?”

“No! but she annoys me, she’s too good-looking.”

Floyd feared his wife’s mind was unbalanced; she brooded too much over
her misfortune. He was very tender, very indulgent, but sometimes his
patience gave out.

Days, weeks, months passed. Winter came with snow, ice, sleet. Julie
spent most of the time in her room, rarely going down to dinner.
Floyd tried to get her out for a walk, but had to compromise with
the automobile. She’d wear a hat pulled down over her eyes, a thick
veil, a long close-fitting coat, and avoided Fifth Avenue. The house
remained covered. Floyd begged her to take off those ugly, depressing
gray things, but she sat silent, antagonistic; it always ended in his
dashing out, and spending the day at the club. But his anger never
lasted. The pathetic figure, crouching in a big chair, those weary
lustreless eyes, hurt him terribly; she had lost her beauty. What is
the elusive thing we call beauty? It is not form, it is not color;
it is something that pervades, like the perfume of a flower in fresh
earth, or a haunting magic in the woods. In a woman it is a living
spark that sets us aglow; that spark was dead in Julie; he had to admit
it. The Image which he called by her name was blurred; she would be an
old, miserable woman; he, an old, disappointed man.

He spent much of his time at the club. He’d read his morning paper
there. He detested local politics. The society column annoyed him;
Mrs. C. had run off with her chauffeur, Mrs. M. was going to marry her
riding master, a well-known woman was suing her millionaire husband
for more alimony. It was horrible to have one’s domestic horrors made
attractive reading; he resolved no one should suspect his. Then the
paper would drop from his hand, the green Park grow shadowy, fade away;
he’d awaken with a sense of guilt; a young man dozing in his chair, and
all the unrest in the world. He would look about furtively; the others
didn’t notice--they too were dozing.

One day he went home earlier than usual. Julie, with the boy in her
arms, was sitting at the window watching the workingmen on the iron
frame of a building opposite; they were knocking, boring, climbing in
and out like monkeys; it was fascinating. She was conscious of her
flannel wrapper. Floyd was always well dressed, well groomed; his
glance was like a sharp whip. He took the boy from her and put him on
the bed.

“The child is heavy, you must not accustom him to be carried about; he
makes the house unbearable with his cries. It’s all right to be a good
mother, but you are overdoing it; you forget you have a husband.”

She was on her feet facing him indignantly.

“How can you speak to me like that? You have no pity for my misfortune!”

“I’m sorry if I have offended you, but I don’t see why you should be so
sensitive about your hair. You have become very neglectful; you have
lost all self-respect. I’m ashamed of the servants.”

“Floyd!”

“I want to have Colonel Garland for dinner; I have business with him.”

“No, no; I won’t see him.”

“Very well. It’s not very pleasant for a married man to be obliged to
invite his friends to a restaurant, because his wife will not take the
trouble to make herself presentable.”

“The dinner will be served whenever you order it, but I will not come
down.”

“You can do as you please about that. I’ll ask him for Wednesday.”

“Not so soon?” She was panic-stricken.

“My mother never needed to prepare. Her table was always well supplied.”

With this parting shot he went out.

Julie stood aghast; her adoring slave was turning against her. A
man loves only beauty in a woman; when she loses that, she loses
everything. She was so young; what was she going to do with the rest
of her life? She sat despairing, trying to think herself out of the
network of misery which entangled her. She couldn’t, poor thing. The
present was a horror to her; the future, a blank. She went back to
the past, lived it all over again and again--Martin! the joy of those
secret meetings; Hippolyte--the side-door which opened only wide enough
to slip into the dark corridor; there, in Martin’s arms----

The child cried; she threw herself down beside him, pressing him
violently to her. He struggled. She held him tightly--muttering
unconsciously, “My body, my Soul, my little Martin,” peering into
his face--as if seeking something to console her. These paroxysms of
despair sapped her strength. She was no longer apathetic, but groping,
groping for some remedy. She’d go back always to those wonderful days
with Martin. She was religious at heart, but she would have gladly
given her hopes of redemption to be able to look into the mirror and
see once more her young face, her soft dark hair. Hippolyte had admired
her hair; she saw him again, so suave, so handsome, heard his exquisite
French, caught again the laughing significance of the looks which
passed between the two men--It was madly fascinating; day and night
it all repeated itself in her brain, revolving like an ever-turning
wheel--Martin--Hippolyte--Pierrot--the sweet, pungent odor of the
place; then the suggestion worked. Hippolyte had often told them of
his wonderful salves, lotions, hair restorers--he might know a way to
restore the color of her hair. She looked up his address--took the
receiver in her hand, a moment of fear, irresolution, then she called
the number.

“I want to speak to Hippolyte.”

“Oui, Madame, I am here.”

His voice set her nerves quivering.

“It’s Mrs. Garrison speaking. You don’t know my married name, I was
Julie Gonzola.”

“Madame, I knew your voice. How could I forget it?”

“Will you come and see me today at four? Thank you.”

She was terribly excited. What would he think when he saw her now? He
must help her--he must! It was her last hope.

Punctually at four, the boy knocked.

“A gentleman downstairs.”

She shrunk away--she couldn’t see him.

“He says you expect him.”

With a strong effort she controlled the impulse to send the man away.

“Show him up.”

Hippolyte looked curiously at Julie, not grasping what had happened to
her. She was embarrassed, didn’t know what to say; then she slipped
off her cap and let her hair down. It fell to the bottom of her dress.
He gasped and broke into a shower of compliments. His admiration was
evidently sincere. Julie’s spirits rose; it was not all over.

“My hair turned white when I was ill. I want it restored to its natural
color; I can give you the shade--”

“_Mais non! Madame_, it is quite _le dernier cri_--we are bleaching
the hair now, but we couldn’t do it like this, Madame. Your hair will
be the sensation; it needs a little tonic oil and massage.” Then he
looked at her again. “Madame is long indisposed?”

“Yes, I have been in the house all winter.”

“Madame needs fresh air and the Swedish treatment--the beauty will come
back; put yourself in my hands, and you will see!”


8

The Wednesday agreed on, arrived. Floyd left the house without seeing
Julie; he was getting used to that; the entire morning she would be
occupied with the boy, always in a wrapper with that disfiguring cap
on her. She bathed, dressed, undressed the child like a professional
nurse. Floyd protested in vain.

On the way downtown he telephoned the house.

“Is Madame awake yet?”

“Oh, yes, sir.”

“Connect me with her room, will you?”

Julie called “Hello.” He thought her voice had more life in it than
usual.

“Julie, do you remember I was to ask Colonel Garland to dinner tonight,
but if you are still against it, I can postpone it.”

“Oh, no! The dinner is ordered.”

“Thank you.”

He dropped the receiver with a guilty feeling. Perhaps he had been too
harsh. He didn’t know what to do about her; he was quite helpless; life
was becoming unbearable.

Colonel Garland greeted Floyd with delight. He was talking to a tall
man in his private office who came up and shook hands.

“You don’t remember me, Mr. Garrison?”

Floyd took in the tired face, the dark-rimmed eyes, the deep lines.

“Yes, I do! Are you still ‘sweating blood’ for money?”

“No, I’m sweating blood to keep it.”

“Have you any left?”

“A few drops, but I’ll be bled white if this goes on.”

He laughed mirthlessly, said “So-long,” and left.

The Colonel looked after him, speaking with a touch of pity and
contempt.

“That fellow made a million during the War; it’s been going the other
way for some time, and--he’s got a handsome, extravagant wife. Now--if
we pull down those old shanties near the river, and build up big
warehouses--”

“No! no! I’m not a wrecker; they bring enough for my modest wants.”

“That’s just what your father said twenty years ago. You’re getting
very much like him.”

Floyd didn’t take that as a compliment. The men of twenty years ago
were a century behind the times. Then, rather timidly, hoping for a
refusal, he said:

“Will you come and take pot-luck with me tonight? My wife’s not well;
she can’t join us--I must find some congenial occupation. We’ll talk it
over.”

The Colonel was all animation.

“Politics! We need young men. We’ve got a job on our hands to rebuild
the world.”

Late in the afternoon they went to the Republican Club for a cocktail
from the Colonel’s private stock. There were the usual jokes about
Prohibition being a good law--for others. On alighting from the car,
Floyd was surprised to see the soft red gleam of the colored glass
fixture over the porch. The filmy lace window curtains through which
the light shone were not there when he left the house that morning;
before he could take out his latch key, the door was swung open. The
Jap in spotless white smiled a welcome; they entered the parlor--

“By God,” cried the Colonel, “this is something like. A beautiful
color, that velvet.”

Floyd smiled. “Mulberry, they call it.”

The chairs, the sofa with its cushions, were like old friends; he saw
again those well-loved water colors; his mother looking down at him,
and through the door, the glimpse of a beautifully set dinner table--a
picture covered for a long time, once more in the light.

Julie came swiftly toward them, extending her hand to the Colonel.
She was in a state of excitement, like an actress who makes her début
in a new rôle. Her color came and went. A crescent of black plaster
deepened the darkness of her eyes. The despised hair revenged itself
with its beauty; it was mounted in shining, rippling masses on the top
of her head. She wore a soft white gown, embroidered with seed pearls,
a train of gold sweeping the ground. Her arms and neck were free of
ornament; in her corsage a large red American Beauty rose. At dinner
she kept up a flow of small talk accentuated by soft glances, winning
smiles. The Colonel listened as if every word were a new truth, the
usual platitudes taking on a mysterious significance. He was sixty,
held himself very erect, could easily be taken for ten years younger,
and he loved the ladies.

Floyd was silent, trying to overcome a queer feeling. Was this
gracious, smiling woman his wife? Was he sitting at his own table?
Who was he, anyhow? The Colonel’s stentorian voice with its agreeable
Southern accent broke in on his confused mental condition.

“If you will permit me to tell you how much I admire your perfect taste
in dress. You know what suits you--an inspiration to powder your hair.”

“Oh,” laughed Julie, “it’s not powdered, it’s natural. It runs in our
family to turn gray early. My father was white at twenty-one.”

The gallant Colonel turned this to his credit.

“My dear Mistress Garrison, Nature has been your Fairy Godmother; she
has waved her wand over your head, bestowing one charm more, the gift
of original beauty.”

The evening passed quickly in light persiflage, Floyd listening as if
he were in the auditorium of a theatre. At the door the Colonel gave
one look back. He could have fought a duel for her.

“We haven’t had a chance to talk business,” said Floyd.

“Who could, with such a radiant vision before us?” laughed the Colonel.
“Come down to the office.”

Floyd went back to Julie.

“Thank you for making such a sacrifice.” It sounded foolish, but he
didn’t know what to say.

She came closer to him. He was afraid to touch her; she was like a
strange woman in his house. That soft sensual smile set him on fire.
She slid into his arms; he kissed her neck, hair, her lips; she let
herself be adored. His love had been ideal in those early wonderful
days of his marriage. He reverenced his wife; he was afraid to repel
her. He had heard of some men whose wives hated them for their lack of
consideration. Julie laughed at his innocence. He often wondered if she
appreciated being his first love; he couldn’t answer that now, after
four years. He ceased trying to probe her soul; he worshipped her body.

In the physical intoxication of the next few months, he forgot all his
plans for future activity. Love can be a despot or a liberator; Floyd
was in chains again.


9

When it was known the Garrisons had “come back,” they were deluged with
invitations.

“Do you want to go?”

“Of course, what’s the use of Paris gowns if I can’t make the other
women green?” She was in good humor now, caressed, spoilt, every wish
fulfilled. He gave her a new car, a gorgeous thing fitted up like a
boudoir, trying to shake off a sickening consciousness that he was
buying her favors. He pulled wires for a box at the opera (it was
an achievement to get one); she rewarded him with a long kiss; he
developed a prodigality which astounded the Colonel.

“You’re going it, my boy. You’re beyond your income.”

“Oh, sell something,” laughed Floyd. “I must have money.”

The Colonel didn’t like the flippant answer, the restless way. He
wasn’t quite certain, but it seemed once or twice the boy had been
drinking. He had noticed since Prohibition many sober men had taken
to drink; psychologically interesting, the resistance to personal
restraint....

The opening night of the opera, Julie was the centre of attraction. She
had taken the family jewels out of the safe deposit. A great cluster
of diamonds set in antique silver shone on her velvet bodice of old
wine, a glittering aigrette in her hair which was no longer an old
gray--treatment had changed it into the mat silver which one sees on
the head of a marble statue, with life added to its charm. She stood
in the box in her velvet wrap; Floyd took it off with a feeling of
excitement. He felt the sensation she created; he was running a blooded
mare for the first prize.

Maud sat in front with Tom Dillon. She had played her last trump in the
game of matrimony. It: wasn’t a King now, but a Knave who cared for
her; she was sure of that. For the rest, she looked into her mirror and
saw her future; it spelt wrinkles.

“Who is that gorgeous creature?”

“Don’t you know your friend Julie Garrison?” She put up her lorgnette.

“What has she done with her hair?”

“Bleached it. Catch up, Maudy. A celebrated cocotte in Paris has made
white hair the rage; she looks like one, doesn’t she?”

“Yes, she does--wonderful. I always said Julie had great possibilities;
there’s something about her that attracts men. Look at Martin.”

He was standing against a post opposite the box. His eyes fastened on
Julie, his mouth twisted into a derisive smile; the Colonel was there
pouring out his usual compliments. Men were coming in and out, old club
friends of Floyd’s, all eager to renew their acquaintance. Julie’s
illness had upset all his calculations, but there was one cause for
satisfaction: she had wanted _him_, _he_ had saved her, she belonged to
_him_, not Floyd. He was waiting for a propitious moment; she must tell
Floyd the truth. He waited because he was not sure of her; after a long
siege of fever, the blood cools off.

He dropped in one day at Hippolyte’s Parlor--he went there now to hear
about Julie. “Madame was going to have a dinner party,”--he had made
a supreme effort. The phenomenon of her hair had given him a great
deal of thought. He was in his way a scientist; the psychic side of
it interested him. “You must see her superb hair; it suits her to
perfection. It gives the last touch of that ‘_Je ne sais quoi_’ which
she lacked. It was caused in my opinion by some intense subconscious
passion.” Martin bent over eagerly. “A psychic power which acts like
the eruption of a volcano; it tears her, agonizes her, she struggles
with it, is not quite able to translate it--yet-- Her husband is a nice
fellow, _mais vous savez_, Puritanism, the narrow path; he’ll never
deceive her, nor pardon her if she deceives him. That little house is
no frame for a woman like her. She needs life, sparkle, passion--_Voila
tout!_”

During the next few months Hippolyte’s mademoiselle brought now and
again a deep red rose, and set it in an exquisite glass vase on Julie’s
dressing table. Julie asked no questions; her eyes glistened. She
furtively put the rose to her lips; then she’d sit for hours under the
hands of the French woman, massage, electric treatment, hot--cold,
until her body exhaled an indefinable intoxicating perfume....

Maud and Tom made their way to the Garrison box. Julie, with a keen
woman’s look, saw at once that Maud’s gown, jewelry, furs, were no
longer imitations. Tom was evidently embarrassed and hung back. Floyd
rather liked him; he was genuine; he didn’t disguise the fact that he
was a rotter. He said, “I’m no good; take me as I am, or not at all.”

“What have you been doing all this time?”

“Oh! nothing much,” laughed Maud, “shopping, house hunting, getting
married; we didn’t announce it, it wasn’t worth while.” Floyd grasped
Tom’s hand.

“I couldn’t get her, any other way, so we called on the Judge--We’ve
been married six weeks; so far it’s all right--I’m going to buy a house
and put it in her name--If I don’t behave myself, she can kick me out.”

Maud was sitting in front with Julie, talking over joining the young
matrons and giving a series of dinners.

Suddenly she said:

“Have you seen Martin Steele lately?”

“I’ve been ill a long time.”

“He’s here tonight.”

“Yes, I saw him standing at the back.”

“He looks awful, doesn’t he?”

Julie didn’t answer. Maud said afterwards to her husband: “Julie was
always different from the rest of us; she was queer tonight, didn’t
hear a word I said. I’m certain she’s not all there.”

As they were going out, they passed Martin.

“Come with us to the dancing club. Tom’s sure to take too much; you can
help me get him home.”

Martin went, but it was Tom who had to take Martin home, abusingly
drunk, fighting like a beast.

That night Julie had dreams, and talked in her sleep. She flung her
arms around Floyd.

“I’m so glad you love me just the same.” Floyd was a happy man. He had
finished his breakfast and was looking out of the front window, waiting
for his wife to awaken.

“Floyd, Floyd.”

He went up the stairs three at a time.

She held out her arms to him.

“Floyd, we must move away from here; the street is getting impossible.”
A crash of falling timbers next door strengthened her position.

“Julie! This is our home; you know how I love it. How can you ask me
such a thing?”

He was losing his temper; she was on the verge of tears, and last night
when he held her in his arms, he swore--they all do at those times.

“I’ll do anything for you, anything, but my home is a part of me; you
don’t realize how I love it.”

“More than me?” She was pouting now, like a child.

“Oh, no!--different--you won’t ask me to leave it, will you?” It was
pathetic, the appeal in the man’s voice.

“But I also loved my home; I left it for you.”

He was about to say, “It’s not the same. The roots of my life are here;
you are an alien.” He didn’t want to offend her; then he went down to
see the Colonel, and mentioned with much embarrassment that the street
was getting unbearable.

“Yes, it’s very unhealthy for your wife and child to inhale all that
dust. We’ve secured a house.”

“Oh, have you? My wife didn’t tell me.”

“No, she wanted to give you an agreeable surprise. It’s on Park Avenue.
We’ve rented it for the winter.” He didn’t add, with the privilege of
buying; that was to be kept secret. He liked to be in conspiracy with
Julie against her husband.

“It’s perfection; we’ve secured it with servants, wine cellar,
everything complete.”

Floyd went home and compromised with Julie. The furnished house for
the winter only; he was grateful she had not insisted on going to a
fashionable hotel!--A camp in the mountains for the summer, and in the
autumn when the street was built up, to return to the old home. Julie
was satisfied with the bargain. The house would be impossible shut in
on both sides; the walls were cracking; everything was going to pieces.
She would never go back.

Floyd stood at the door of the car waiting for the “bunch” to come
down--the boy, the nurse, the Pekinese, countless bags, dress suit
cases, last-minute bundles, and--Julie very much excited. She had
gone back for the little glass vase which had been forgotten. He was
physically tired, mentally agonized; he cast one look back and jumped
into the car. He had a peculiar feeling: he was the automobile; Julie
was driving.


10

The house in Park Avenue was the very last word; Floyd had to confess
that. The walls tinted a cold gray, the light coming from invisible
corners, telephones, a radio-cabinet, china closets hidden behind
panels; the entire floor could be made into a dancing hall by pushing
the doors into the wall; no fireplace, very little furniture, meals
rolled in ready to serve by the “haughty” Swede hired with the house,
everything cooked “à la mode” by a chef, also hired with the house.

Julie was hysterical with joy; she had been all her life the victim
of antiques; this was all so exquisitely modern. Floyd thought with
intense longing of his little home; he vowed to himself he would not
desert it; he’d go there every day and read his evening paper.

The house-warming was to be a brilliant affair. Maud with her restless
activity schemed various plans for a sensational success. Tom sampled
the cellar; it was perfection. Floyd was dispatched here, there, and
everywhere; Julie sat back and gave the others carte blanche.

“Don’t consult me,” she said; “you three will do it all right.”

On the day of the dinner, Julie had been the entire afternoon in the
hands of Hippolyte’s skilled lieutenants. He himself was to come later
and give her hair the last touches.

True to his resolve, Floyd had spent his afternoons in the little
house, reading his paper; but he was beginning to feel a superstitious
dread when he put the key in the door. That day the room seemed
unbearably chilly; he lit the fire with great difficulty. The wood
piled up in a basket was damp, it sputtered awhile, gave out sighs as
if it were in pain. Soon the fretful flame died out. He couldn’t read,
looked at his watch, and went home.

The perfume from his wife’s room pervaded the house. His room was on
the floor above--they had become fashionable. He saw less and less of
Julie, she had no time for him; she was wrapped up in herself, her
looks, her gowns; vanity had developed in her to such an extent it
staggered him; she sought admiration, was a slave to style, adopting
the daily change no matter how extreme; a night at home was unbearable
to her; he dragged himself along; he wasn’t jealous of the crowd of
men always around her; but it wouldn’t look well for the husband to be
absent.

He hadn’t seen Martin for a very long time. He was sure Julie had
forgotten him, she couldn’t love anyone but herself; he pulled
himself up; he mustn’t think that way. He remembered her as a girl, so
yielding, so sweet. Illness changes the character of people sometimes.
He must be patient with her; but life had become very hard; the nights
were spent in carousing. He didn’t know what to do with his days until
Julie woke up--and he was only thirty.

He dressed and went down to his wife’s door--his Mecca; it was open.
Hippolyte, with a strand of her hair over his shoulder, was bending
down talking confidentially. Floyd abominated him; a man who could make
a fortune out of the vanity of women was despicable; but most fortunes
are directly or indirectly made out of the vanity of women.

“Floyd, come in, I’ve such news for you. I’ve sold our house.”

“What house?”

“Our little house, to Hippolyte.”

“You’re mad.”

Julie gave him a quick surprised look, and got rid of Hippolyte.

“Floyd, you shouldn’t speak to me like that before Hippolyte; he’ll
tell the next customer we quarrel.” There was a suspicion of tears.

“Julie! you’re mad! quite mad! What the devil can he do with our house?”

“He’ll make a fortune out of it, if he follows my advice; the first
floor will be a fine Colonial tea room; the old furniture and our
kitchen coppers will be just the thing; the second floor, a beauty
parlor; and above, in your father’s workshop, a Turkish bath.”

And she could sit there calmly and say such things.

The Colonel came in early, poured out a volley of compliments which put
her in good humor. She whispered to him.

“I’ve won; he’s getting used to it.”

The dinner was delayed until past ten, waiting for Maud and Tom who
arrived with profuse apologies. Tom had been running all day from one
shop to another trying to find a string of beads for Maud.

“Costly things, those glass beads,” said Tom. “Reminds me of the squaws
up in the Reservation, when I was travelling with whiskey; they had
them around the waist, neck, legs, through the ears and nose, and by
God! they thought they were in full dress.”

When the dancing commenced, Julie was surrounded; she was the prettiest
woman in the room, and a wonderful dancer. Floyd, in the next room
among some loose fellows, was drinking heavily. The sedans were _not_
ordered back; chauffeurs gossip among themselves, and after twelve, the
guests were going “slumming.” Taxis were engaged--Masks and dominos
were put on in the hall, one not knowing who the other was; Maud had
done the pairing--she saw to it that husband and wife did not meet. Tom
was to have Julie, Maud selected Floyd; _he_ wouldn’t make love to her.

The masked figures in dominos slipped past the sentinel at the door; he
was the devil who was sending souls to Hell that night.

Floyd wanted to fight everybody, then broke down and blubbered; Tom had
a fellow feeling, put him in a chair, and told the haughty Swede to
look after him. At the door he got mixed up in the crowd, found himself
with someone in a taxi. A pair of soft lips met his, he shouted for joy.

“Maudy! where’s Julie?”

She laughed. “Oh, she’s in very good company.” She nestled up to him.
“Don’t think of her, only ourselves. Let’s make believe we’re not
married.”

The taxis were speeding downtown. Julie took off her mask, leaned back;
she was excited, warm from dancing. Her companion bent over her. She
looked into flaming eyes.

“Julie!”

That hour in Martin’s arms, she forgot her husband, her child, herself;
promised him everything. This time, he swore, she should keep her word.


11

Floyd had an insane desire to smash things. He threw a bottle of
wine into the glass and china on the table, overturning the electric
candles; the fuse burnt out, putting the room in darkness. He laughed
hysterically. He was on a ship, in a terrible storm, the ground was
slipping away, billows were rising on all sides.

“Hey there, steward, damn it, where’s my cabin?”

The haughty Swede lifted him like a child, carried him into the
elevator which took them up to the servants’ quarters, unlocked a small
door at the extreme end of the hall; it was an unused room, with one
lamp hanging from the ceiling. He put Floyd on the sofa, lit the lamp,
and carefully shut the door--he didn’t want the “master’s” ravings to
be heard. The caterer’s men were still in the house. Some might inform;
a raid would lose him his place.

When Floyd awoke, the lamp sputtered in fitful gleams. His head was
like lead, his tongue parched; there was a sense of deep humiliation,
waves of shame, higher than the ocean. He looked about the room. It
was in disorder--boxes piled up in a corner, a large desk strewn with
papers; at the door stood the Swede.

“Where am I? Whose room is this?”

“This is a room we keep closed, sir.”

“Why?”

“The master killed himself here, the mistress locked the door and gave
me the key; she ordered me not to open it until she came again. She
didn’t come.”

“Where is she?”

“In Paris, sir.”

“He killed himself and she went to Paris?”

“Yes sir, shot himself. He was a fine man, sir, a very fine man. When I
came in to announce dinner, he was lying on that sofa where you are,
the blood pouring out.”

Floyd was on his feet, quite sober now. There were heavy dark stains on
the gray rep. The man answered Floyd’s questioning look.

“That’s blood, sir, and this and this.” The gray rug was stained in
dark red; there were splashes of it on the white wall.

“Why did you put me in here?”

“Because the house was full of strange people. I didn’t want them to
see you like that.”

“Thank you, I’m much obliged to you.”

“Shall I bring you a little whiskey and soda?”

“No thank you, I’m not a drinker.”

“I see that, sir,” said the man. “A cup of strong black coffee will set
you all right.”

“Thank you.”

Floyd looked about the room. On the desk there was a box half filled
with cigars, stationery, postage stamps, everything just as the unhappy
man had left them. The Swede came in with some strong black coffee
which Floyd swallowed.

“Colonel Garland told me to give you this when you came to.” It was a
large legal envelope; Floyd took it mechanically, flung it on the desk.

“When you are ready, sir, I’ll lock up here.”

Floyd stood fascinated. It was the only room in that big house that
meant something more than wood--marble--The desk was littered, the
pigeon-holes stuffed with papers, the deep armchairs, the heavy
draperies belonged to former days, the man must have had trouble with
his wife about it; she had put him and his “old sticks” in the garret.

The legal envelope was lying on the desk where he had thrown it. He
took out a typewritten document. The little house was in his wife’s
name. The Colonel had suggested it as a wedding gift. “It was only a
matter of form, it was the custom for a man to put the home in the
wife’s name,” Floyd laughingly assented. What did it matter? All he
had was hers, himself included. Here it was in black and white, sold
on easy terms to Hippolyte; at the bottom was written in her large
clear hand, Julie Abravanel Gonzola Garrison; she had done it without
consulting him; she had the right.

The monotonous voice of the Swede broke the silence.

“He was a very fine man, sir--and a liberal man. She was a beauty;
that’s her picture.”

On the desk was a colored print of a woman in bridal costume, all lace,
satin-orange blossoms, an enormous bouquet half hiding her face; it was
like the wax models one sees in a show window.

The Swede took a photo out of his pocket and handed it to Floyd.

“This is the master; I asked him for it the night before he died. I was
very fond of him,” his voice broke.

Floyd knew that care-lined face: “The man who sweated blood.” He
shivered. He tried to pull himself together; the horror of it
struck him down. He staggered against the desk; on it lay an open
letter, crushed together, as if thrown there in haste; his eye caught
unconsciously what was written.

  It’s over. I’ve made superhuman efforts; everything is gone. I was
  afraid to tell you the last time you demanded money, throwing up to
  me I hadn’t made good. I told you this house would ruin us, but you
  didn’t care! What’s the good of a man who can’t pay out? I’ve begged
  and begged; this is the last time! You said you couldn’t be poor, and
  there are others. That’s always in my ears! I see now what a fool
  I’ve been! I’ve spent my best years scheming for money, and you took
  it and flung it in the air. I’ve had nothing from my life! nothing!
  It’s too late to commence again. Come back! Come back!

Floyd shuddered. He looked again at the blood stains; he saw the man
with a pistol in his hand. It wasn’t a fair exchange--his soul for her
body. He sat in the big chair; that other man must have crouched there
with the pistol in his hand. He had usurped a sanctuary, bought with
money what another had built with blood.

“I’m ready to lock up the room, sir.”

He staggered to his feet, thrust the legal envelope in his pocket, went
downstairs and into the street.

The sedans rolled up and down the avenue. People stepped out in front
of brilliantly lit residences, a happy care-free crowd, or were they
like him, a lie?

He moved mechanically, elbowing his way through the mass of
theatre-goers, gradually getting down into the business district,
quiet, dark. He stood before his old home, huddled together as if
shrinking away from the giant buildings on either side, unlocked
the door; there was an odor like a crypt. He struck a match, lit the
half-burnt candle on the hall stand, held it high, peering into the
corners, through open doors, taking in every well-known detail--the
straight-back mahogany chairs covered with mulberry velvet, the
“tidies.” He could see the shuttle in his mother’s delicate fingers
dancing in and out of the white thread--the rag rugs made by his
grandmother. People were hunting for them in little country villages;
antiquarians were reproducing them by thousands; but these were _his_
rags. He went slowly up the narrow stairs; the creaking of the boards
used to anger him when his mother was ill. He looked out at the
desolate garden through little glass panes, just large enough for a
boy’s face. He saw himself again gloating over the first snow-storm,
running down to the cellar for his sled, his feet dancing impatiently
whilst Prudence tied the soft warm shawl she had knitted for him about
his head and neck.

He stopped at the first landing. The old clock was covered with dust;
he found the key inside, wound it, set it right; its ticking echoed
through the house; it seemed to him like a human thing whose heart had
stopped for fright, then commenced to beat again in glad relief. He
opened the door of the bedroom. Here he had brought his bride, here
his boy was born, here he had watched Martin holding his wife in his
arms. On the dressing-table was a faded rose; it fell to pieces in his
hand. He went up to his father’s workshop; the images took on life in
the flicker of the candle light--the Negro, the Italian shoe boy, his
mother clasping him in her arms, an unfinished bust of his father, Rip
Van Winkle with his head smashed--he took it all in; a life picture,
the background stretching out in the full sunlight of generations, an
old landscape. He was framed in it--he himself--that self, simple,
sentimental, ideal, old-fashioned--the self that was not cynical,
reckless, material, and all the things we call “modern.” He scented the
smell of fallen plaster, felt the shaking of timbers; the wreckers had
him under the hammer, destroying his foundations.

The table was littered with old newspapers and rags used in modelling;
he stood for a moment motionless, like a man offering a sacrifice on
the altar of his domestic gods, then he dropped the candle. Little
flames started here, there, grew bigger; the illumination cast a glow
over his mother’s face. She smiled at him. He shut the door, groping
his way downstairs; at the gate he stopped to listen to the clear chime
of the clock as it struck one, two, three....

       *       *       *       *       *

There was no trace of the night orgy in the Park Avenue mansion. He
went up to his wife’s room; she was in bed sleeping quietly. The
soft-shaded lamp which burnt through the night--she had a horror of
darkness--cast a soft rosy glow. “Was this beautiful creature lying
there, his wife? No! No!--a legalized mistress, and he, a sensualist.”

In that moment passion burnt up in him--the body of love, the Idol,
fell in ashes. He took the bill of sale from his pocket, put it beside
her on the bed, then went slowly up to his room, shut the door, and
burst into a loud laugh.


12

The next morning at breakfast he read the press headings.

“The old Garrison homestead destroyed by fire, a total loss, on
account of Mr. Garrison’s neglect to renew the insurance. Fire caused
by a cigarette or cigar stump thrown carelessly from one of the tall
adjacent buildings. The house was a tinder box. Fortunately, the family
had moved to their palatial residence on Park Avenue.”

He marked the notices with red pencil, and sent them up on his wife’s
breakfast tray. He heard the maid knocking, and Julie’s voice saying
“Come in.” He could see her opening the papers, reading the marked
lines; there was a loud cry and a heavy fall; he went up quickly. She
was lying on the floor rigid, the paper clutched in her hand; it was
impossible to bring her to. He telephoned for Dr. McClaren, who came at
once. Floyd told him about the fire in a few words.

“It must have been a great shock to her,” said the doctor.

“I don’t know,” answered Floyd. The doctor looked at him curiously,
then went into Julie’s room.

He brought her to, insisted on her resting that day in bed, and said to
Floyd, “She’ll be all right. There’s no cause for worry; I’ve seen her
like that before.”

Julie believed with all her superstitious, secretive soul, that
her hair turning white had been a punishment for giving in to her
suppressed passion for Martin; and last night in that very hour of
burning joy their house was in flames. “What did it mean? What was that
unseen revengeful Power preparing for her?--perhaps another blow, a
physical deformity?”

With a cry of terrible fear, she sprang out of bed, locked the door,
stood before the long mirror examining herself closely, not like a
beautiful woman exulting over her reflected beauty, but with the fear
of a guilty soul seeking the brand of further punishment. “What now?
What now?” Her body was spotless, like white marble with a delicate
tracery of blue veins. She gave a long sigh of relief.

The reporters besieged the house. Floyd had the agony of seeing
himself, his wife, his child in every newspaper. The weeklies had
colored prints of the beautiful Mrs. Garrison. “She might have stepped
out of a picture,” “a living Greuze,” “the grace of a French Dame de
Salon,” “the Art of Conversation lives again”--then the Russian players
arrived.

Julie did not get over the shock. Her nerves, always abnormal,
snapped; she sank into a state of melancholy.

Floyd went up to her room one morning to tell her he wouldn’t be home
to dinner; she was still in bed, crouching among the pillows.

“Are you waiting for Hippolyte?” There was a touch of irony in his
voice.

“I’ve sent him away. I don’t want him any more.” Then she broke into
sobs.

Floyd was glad to get that “shame” out of the house. Julie was
beginning to mope again; she needed fresh air; he would look for a camp
in the Adirondacks for the summer.

Julie brooded about her promise to Martin; the revulsion had set in as
usual; she was again the mother, the conventional wife. She was afraid
of his anger; she must keep away from him. All sorts of horrors took
form in her diseased mind.

The clock struck twelve. The boy had gone to the Park with the nurse,
a French girl, who spoke little English; they were late. She saw the
child run over by a car, lying mangled under the wheels; she was in a
paroxysm of fear, a distracted, neurasthenic woman.

“Mamma, see what I’ve got.”

She caught the boy in her arms, passionately kissing his eyes, his
mouth, his hair, a handsome fellow, big for his age, his eyes gleaming
with excitement.

“Mamma, Mamma!”

He took from Mademoiselle a beautiful, perfectly equipped motor boat.

Mademoiselle explained: “A big dark Monsieur ‘_belhomme_’ gave it to
Joseph.” He said he was his Uncle Martin. He taught him to float and
sink it. She couldn’t get the child away, that’s why they were so late.
The boy took the boat to pieces and put it together again, with great
dexterity. He was uncommonly intelligent.

“See, Mamma, this is the cabin.”

He pressed a spring which opened a little door in the bottom of the
boat; within lay a neatly folded paper; the handwriting was Martin’s.
Mademoiselle took the boy away, looking back furtively with her French
comprehension at Madame. A few lines, begging, commanding her to come
with the boy the following day.

She knew she would go; she couldn’t stay away. He would hold Joseph
in his arms; she would take his kisses from the boy’s lips; her
eyes gleamed. She would go; it would end as it must. She was lost!
Hopelessly lost! She went to the Park every day for a week, leaving the
maid at home; the boy was always there sailing his boat.

One day Martin took him up suddenly, pressed him in his arms, kissed
him again and again. Julie looked on, the blood leaping into her face.
They were _her_ kisses. Then the boy put his arms around Martin,
whispering, “I love you, Uncle Martin,” and fell asleep. Martin carried
him to the car, motioned Julie to get in first, laid the child beside
her, covered him up with the rug, then spoke in low tones of suppressed
pain.

“You committed a crime against me, Julie. That boy should have been
mine!”

All night and the next day, Julie had one of those terrible headaches;
Floyd couldn’t bear her moans of pain....

Dr. McClaren took off his coat and goloshes, stopping on the spiral
staircase to admire the beautiful colored glass windows. He found Julie
crouching in a chair, her hands icy, her eyes roving restlessly.

“My dear Madame, I’m sorry to see you in this nervous state. What is
it, tell me? I can’t help you unless I know! Is it your husband?”

“No, he is too good.”

“The boy, then?”

“No.”

“What is troubling you? Tell me.”

“Day and night I have a terrible fear that something dreadful is going
to happen; I’ve had it often, but controlled it with a strong effort.
Since the night of the fire it has come back with terrible force. I
suffer tortures.”

“When you go out, do you feel as if someone were following you to do
you harm?”

“Yes, yes,” she had her eyes fixed on the boat. It seemed to have a
terrible fascination for her.

The doctor took the boat from the table, turning it over in his hands.
He was thoughtful--puzzled.

“How perfectly they make these toys.”

“Yes, it floats and sinks like a real motor boat.” The suggestion gave
the doctor an idea.

“Do you like the water?”

“Oh, yes.”

“Wouldn’t you like to take a long sea trip, to Europe, for instance?”

“I would like it very much.”

“I’ll speak to your husband about it.”

“No, no, I don’t want him.”

“You want to go without him?”

“Yes.” He leaned forward to catch her words which came in low gasps.
“I want to--to slip away without anybody knowing. If you can persuade
Floyd to let me go alone!--you’ll find him at his club.”

The doctor dropped off at the club that day and spoke to Floyd. He was
sitting in the window gazing idly at the green square opposite; what
Floyd saw there were flames mounting higher and higher; wherever he
went they followed him, scorching him; the world was one great funeral
pyre; the flames were drawing him in.

“Your wife is slipping back into the old condition of melancholia; we
must prevent that.”

“Doctor, I do all I can.”

When he suggested a trip to Europe, Floyd gave a quick cry.

“No! no! I couldn’t!”

“I want her to go alone.” The same look of relief he had seen on
Julie’s face. A pity; married so short a time. “I would like Miss Mary
to go with her, but she is always so busy.”

Floyd was on his feet.

“She’ll go if I ask her; I’m sure she will.”


13

Miss Mary was at home in her little flat on the East Side of downtown.
The cry of a newly born child came through the window. She smiled; her
ears distinguished the sex. A girl fretted, wailed in a high-pitched,
nagging tone; a boy fought, bellowed. Yes, this was a girl. Mary
wondered how many men she would make miserable; that would depend on
her face. What children men are! They marry a complexion, teeth, eyes.
When they get at the woman, it’s too late. Some kick over the traces;
most of them remain in harness from a sense of honor. The patience
married people have with each other is wonderful, considering they are
like dice thrown together by accident.

She thought of the Garrisons, and drew two lines on a piece of
paper--one a parallel--that stood for _him_; he thought in straight
lines. The other, broken with angles--that was _she_. She wondered
if he understood that mysterious side of his wife. She saw his eyes,
always trying to look happy, his sensitive mouth trying to say pleasant
things. A knock at the door startled her; there he stood surrounded
by the bare-footed little devils of the neighborhood. They had piloted
him up the dark stairs. A little gold-head slipped her hand in his. He
bent down and kissed her dirty face; then he distributed all his small
change amongst them and shut them out.

“I’ve had a time finding you, Miss Mary. I’ve never been in this
neighborhood before.”

“You should get acquainted with it; it’s more interesting than Park
Avenue.”

“Poverty is terrible.”

“No, it’s wonderful; it keeps people human. But here there is no
poverty; the people earn their living.”

“Such as it is.” He looked around the room. There was a cot in an
alcove, a few chairs, a table, a shelf of books, and she smiling at him.

“You’re not feeling well, Mr. Garrison.”

“Oh! I’m well enough, but the springs are giving way.”

“We must brace them up.”

“Impossible, they are broken.”

“Then we’ll have to get you new springs.”

How young she was, how happy, and the bare room; here was--no ego that
wants and wants--always taking, never giving--no expectations, no
disappointment; Selflessness--that’s what kept her so buoyant.

“Can I help you?”

“Yes, if you will.”

Then he told her of Julie’s relapse and the prescribed sea voyage.

“Dr. McClaren wants her to go without me; he thinks it will be better
for her. You know her so well; what is your opinion?”

“Your wife is organically healthy, but there are pathological
conditions--a radical change might do her good.”

She avoided his eyes; he was disappointed, but what else could she say?

He bent a little nearer.

“Miss Mary, if you will go with her, my mind would be at rest.”

She sat silent a moment.

“I’m sorry, but I cannot; I’ve pledged myself.”

“You are engaged?”

She laughed, clapping her hands like a child.

“To be married, you mean? Oh! no! I shall never marry.”

He laughed with her, like a boy.

“Not if you fall terribly in love?”

“Not even then!” Her eyes shone defiantly. “I’ve made a promise to
myself, and I won’t be a deserter.”

“A promise to yourself?”

“Yes, don’t you, sometimes?”

“No.”

“You should, or life would become too accidental; we would be terribly
tossed about.”

“That’s what’s happening to me. I am looking for some occupation, but
I don’t want to get into a treadmill. The people toil at business,
pleasure--they do the same thing day after day, year after year. Life
is a habit, a deadening monotony.”

She drew up her knees, clasped her hands over them, bent forward.
She was a quaint little thing; he had never known anyone like her.
She spoke slowly, with difficulty; the words she had at her command
couldn’t adequately express her thoughts.

“Life is a gift, not a habit. Every day we do the same things, but they
must bring us something new in the doing. I’ve often thought, in the
quiet of the sick room, what a privilege it is that I could sit there
and help, when all the millions and billions of spirits are crowding
the universe, and can’t get into life; I’m so glad _I_ am put into a
body--so happy, so thankful.”

“I have never thought it a privilege to live, never thought of life as
a gift.”

“We depend too much on people and things to make us happy; we
shouldn’t! Our happiness depends on no one but ourselves.”

He knew what she meant. Julie had colored his life for a time; now it
was grey.

“I’ve never thought of it that way.”

She came nearer with a touch of eagerness.

“You will, won’t you?”

He answered simply:

“Yes, I will--”

Then she went to the table and took up one of a pile of opened letters.

“I have pledged myself to something which will take all my time, all my
strength, and that isn’t very much.”

“No,” said Floyd.

“Nursing is gradually becoming a money-making trade. During the War,
women seeking adventure with little knowledge were extravagantly paid.
Now money is no longer easy, but prices remain high. Only people of
means can afford a trained nurse; there is a great need. You don’t know
how sick people are neglected for want of care. I am trying to bring
together earnest women of all classes; there are so many who want to
do something, and don’t know how. I have appeals from all over the
country--piteous cries from women whose lives are empty; their school
will be the bedside of the poor. You don’t know how quickly they learn,
when their heart is in it. They pledge themselves to go wherever they
are called, without regard to payment, like the nuns in the early days
of Christianity. We are getting together a fund to pay their living.
When they are not working they will study, we will have our own home,
our own hospital. It has only been whispered, but you have no idea
how easy it is to get money.” She showed him a letter signed by a
well-known millionaire, who guaranteed a large sum. “There are many
rich women eager to join us, who are seeking for something better,
something nobler in their lives--you don’t know--you don’t know!”

No, he didn’t know!

“I feel very small, annoying you with my personal affairs when you
are doing such great things.” He made his way to the door. Life was
hopeless again.

“Wait.”

She was agitated, she couldn’t let him go like that; because--she loved
him. She knew it now. A wave of gladness rushed through her. She had
loved everybody all her life, but this love was like a wonderful magic
touch--transporting her into some distant fairy world. She stood by the
window; he saw the light on her face.

“I think I can manage it. I want to go to London to the headquarters of
the Salvation Army, to Zurich, to confer with the Red Cross Sisters; if
your wife will go with me, it will not be neglecting my duty.”

He grasped her hand. “Thanks, thanks. I’ll never forget this, never.”

He saw the blood surging up to her temples, receding, leaving her
white. Her eyes were longing, pleading; they sought his. She was
beautiful; his heart gave a great bound. He stood looking, looking,
stammered something, then turned and went out.

The next few days he was kept busy about the cabins, rugs, passports,
exchange. There was a feeling of warmth. He saw Mary standing there
with that look in her face; he saw the woman for the first time. How
wonderful she was! What a wife she would make! He hoped she wouldn’t
marry. No man was good enough. He found himself thinking too much about
her; then he went and bought something costly for Julie. He refused to
stay alone in the house with that French woman. He coaxed Bridget back
to take care of the boy while his wife was away. He wondered why Julie
didn’t write to her friends.

“I don’t want anyone to know I am going.”

“Not even Maud Dillon?”

“They’ve moved away somewhere.”

He hadn’t seen Tom about town as usual. How people disappear when their
money is gone and nobody misses them.

The car was waiting at the door. Julie, with a throb of pride, took the
boy once more in her arms. The child was beautiful in his velvet suit
and lace collar.

“You won’t forget me, Joseph?”

“No, Mother.”

She placed her photograph on the table beside his little bed.

“You will say good night to me? I will hear it. I will say good night
to you; you will hear it.”

“Yes, Mother.” She put the worn Hebrew prayer book in his hands.

“You will read the prayer I taught you, every morning, every evening?”

“Yes, Mother.” The boy’s eyes fixed on her face grew deeper; there was
a psychic connection between them. She went back to her own childhood.
She saw an old man, with that book in his hand, his face lit with
religious fervor.

“Julie, you will say the prayer I taught you, every morning, every
evening?”

“Yes, Grandfather.” She had kept her promise.

The steamer sailed. Mary remained on deck to get a last glimpse of the
solitary man standing on the wharf. Julie gave Floyd’s flowers to the
steward to put on the dining table; there was a bouquet of exquisite
red roses in her cabin. When they landed she wore one in her corsage.


14

The earth was thirsty; it poured down for three days, a slow soaking
rain. Martin thought it would never stop. He walked along the lake
in the Park regardless of his dripping hat. He was aching to see the
boy again, to hear him say in his mother’s soft voice, “I love you,
Uncle Martin.” What a mess he had made of his life; now he must steal
what rightly belonged to him. He exulted in his power over Julie. Her
illness was a fatality; it was her mother’s dead hand that had struck
her daughter down to save her from him. A shiver ran through him; why
was he so superstitious? He didn’t believe in anything--but sometimes
a peculiar feeling took hold of him; there was another life far back,
a mystery--something intangible. He walked hours in the rain--fighting
invisible forces, cursing the conditions of his life; it all resolved
itself back to the same determination. She had promised to go with him;
she must keep her word.

Towards evening he rang the side-door bell at Hippolyte’s, hoping to
get some news of her. The dark-skinned valet whisked off his coat,
dried his dripping hair and neck, and preceded him into the Turkish
room behind the shop. It was Hippolyte’s hour of rest before the
night’s activity; he was lying on a divan, a picturesque figure, in a
loose red silk robe. He waved Martin a welcome with his small white
hand, the diamond, set in platinum on his finger, flashing rose color
in the soft electric glow of the pervading red.

“_Sapristi_, Monsieur Steele. I was thinking of you.”

Martin dropped down in a deep chair, stretched out his legs. The aroma
of coffee and a whiff of perfumed opium lent a sense of warmth to his
chilled body.

“Of me? Are you in trouble again?”

His pipe-dream-visions changed into the cold reality of a check book;
he had often helped the man out of his financial difficulties, he
earned enormous sums, but the overhead expenses were fabulous.

“The money is nothing; it comes in and goes out like the tide. I am at
the end, the compass changes. We must in Life watch for the Warning.
We must train our ear to detect the direction of the wind.”

“You are superstitious?”

“We all are, if we knew its true meaning. Superstition is an intense
sense of the Invisible.”

Martin drank the strong Turkish coffee, puffing at his chibouk. The man
was a “hairdresser,” but that didn’t matter; Martin had no sense of
class.

“My time in this business will soon be over. I was the only one for
years when it was an ‘elite’ profession. Now it is vulgarized like
everything else. There is a clever Russian woman who is taking all my
customers; do you know why? The husbands are jealous.”

Martin laughed--he understood that; he would never allow this
fascinating, purring Greek to maul _his_ wife about.

“_Mon ami_, I know what you are thinking; you are wrong. They talk
a great deal about the immorality of the American woman. It is not
so--and it is a shame that it is not so. The French woman is honest;
she have her husband, her lover; he has his wife, his mistress.
Marriage is a success in France; they do not go about divorcing
themselves. Here marriage is a failure, because every woman, young,
middle age, old, talk of love!--it is only talk!--_mon ami_, talk!
talk!--but she _do_ nothing! nothing! Why! because she is afraid; the
fear is in her blood from the old times in America, the fear of the
‘Scarlet Letter.’ Oh! she can love, _Mon Dieu_! and if by accident
there is just a little false step, she make a scene, her relatives
make a scene, the press make a scene, everybody make a scene. Oh!
your Hawthorne did not know what harm he was doing to the future
women of his country. The French authors knew better. La nouvelle
Heloise--Camille, the heroines of de Maupassant, have set the women of
France a glorious example.”

Martin smiled. The fellow was clever, insolent.

“Do you know how it will end?”

“No, my imagination doesn’t take me any farther.”

“Bah!--it is easy, she will go back to the pale face and the straight
hair. You will see the little Puritan again. They have already
forbid us the wine, the splendid opium, the tobacco, silk stockings,
cosmetics, love--the whole nation will go to bed at nine o’clock--and
their money will choke them.”

Martin laughed, but the man was very serious; he put his hand on
Martin’s shoulder.

“_Mon ami_, you have been good to me. You know the Figaro has the
soul of an artist; I am going to be good to you. I am going to tell
you something you do not know; Mrs. Garrison will sail Saturday for
England, without her husband.”


15

The Garrison “shanties,” near the river, were kept in as good condition
as possible, but time and rats gnawed at their foundations. On one of
these the passer could read, with some difficulty, the faded letters of
an old sign, “Martin Steele and Son, Established 1830.”

Since Mr. Steele’s death, the business had been carried on by a Mr.
Waldbridge, who knew and followed the old conservative methods of the
defunct Steeles. Young Mr. Steele was expected to take his father’s
place as head of the firm, but he stayed away, took what money he
wanted, a ridiculously small amount for a man of his means, leaving the
surplus in the business. Waldbridge had written several times asking
him to come down and look over the books. Finally, he appeared. He was
a mystery to Mr. Waldbridge; all the young business men of the day were
eager speculators. He had expected new ideas, a business revolution;
but no such things happened. He would sit about, watch closely the
proceedings, but made no suggestions. His visits grew less and less
frequent.

“What does he do with himself?” thought Mr. Waldbridge. “He doesn’t
gamble. He’s never seen at the races or baseball games. His name has
never been connected with women. What kind of a man is he?”

Martin sat opposite him in the private office, flung his soft hat
on the floor, crossed his long legs; his hair was disarranged, his
face a yellow pallor; his clothes hung loosely, he was very thin. His
“appearance” struck Mr. Waldbridge as very un-American--he himself
being an Erie Road commuter with all the proud consciousness of a one
hundred per cent Nationalism.

He spoke cautiously of the hard times and unsatisfactory business
conditions. They had advanced money on large stocks of merchandise;
there was nothing to do but to hold on. If they forced the sale, it
would mean enormous losses.

“Yes, I know,” interrupted Martin impatiently. “We couldn’t go on
gorging money at that rate; we’d have to vomit it up sometime. No
stomach could hold it; that’s what we’re doing now. Some people die
suddenly from it; we’ll have a lingering end.”

Waldbridge laughed uneasily, really a very unpleasant young man.

“I hope we will weather it. I’ve been discounting--and--”

Martin interrupted again--discounting meant nothing to him--although he
was flying some moral “kites” on his own account.

“Do whatever you like; I’m out of it.”

Waldbridge rose to his feet.

“What do you mean?”

“You can take my father’s name down.”

“If you liquidate the business now, it will mean disaster.”

“I have no interest in it. I am leaving New York.”

Then Waldbridge broke down. It was terrible, a long-established,
respected firm--wreckage--pure wreckage; that word seemed to have a
fatal significance in Martin’s life.

“Can I count on, say, ten thousand a year for ten years?”

Julie was luxuriously inclined, because her heart had been empty. He
would take her away from cities; they would live somewhere quietly in
the country.

Waldbridge smiled. “You can always have that and more if you want it.”

Then Martin did a wonderful thing, so wonderful it left Waldbridge
speechless, staring at him. Was the man mad? There was a taint of
insanity in the family.

Martin read his thoughts.

“I’m thirty-two years old, and I know what I am doing. I want you to
turn this business into a company; every man in it, from the lowest to
the highest, must have his share. You, of course, will be the head of
the firm. Get a good lawyer and do it legally. You’ll have your work,
every mother’s son of you, to get the old hulk out of the mud; if you
do, you’re entitled to the spoils.”

“And the capital?” gasped Waldbridge.

“I told you what I want, the rest I’ll leave in business; you can’t go
on without it, can you?”

“No.”

“Then what’s the use of talking about it.”

He held out his hand; Waldbridge grasped it, trying to stammer out his
gratitude, but Martin was gone. He dashed out of the place, threw
himself into a taxi.

“Uptown.”

The New York chauffeur is accustomed to indefinite addresses. He looked
back at the man with his hat pulled over his eyes, crouching in a
corner. “A bloke who had lost his wad.” Then he wondered if it was a
defaulter or a gunman--some of them looked like perfect gentlemen. He
drove uptown, entered the Park. There he stopped. He was hungry; that
guy in the corner could sleep all day.

“Where to?”

Martin, pitched forward by the sudden jolt, glared at him.

“The Waldorf.”

He sprang up the stairs three at a time, too nervous to wait for the
elevator, looked around the room, which was in disorder; his man
couldn’t keep it tidy. Martin flung everything about.

He would take nothing with him but a dress suit case. He caught sight
in the corner of an old box covered with deerskin, tied together with
a thick rope; he had taken it from the garret after his grandfather’s
death, but had never opened it. He untwisted the knots, one after the
other. It was a hard job. It hurt his fingers. He took out a pair of
mountain boots, goat’s leather, with large nails in the soles. Martin
looked down at his feet; they would fit him. He pulled out an old
woollen shirt, a pair of corduroy trousers, a felt hat with a green
feather, a bright colored vest, and red handkerchiefs. There was a
small chamois bag with strange coins, Swiss money--Martin examined them
curiously; a pack of old letters, a photograph of a young boy and girl,
a cow, and a high mountain at the back. That mountain fascinated him;
he looked at it long, intensely. The raw boy and girl in Swiss dress
were his grandparents. Martin thought of his mother. On the back of the
card there was something printed which he made out with difficulty:
“Val Sinestra.” He had never heard the name. He put everything back in
the trunk and roped it; the idea came suddenly: he would take it with
him, to Switzerland.


16

After Julie left, Floyd spent his evenings at the club; there were many
strange to him. The membership had increased; it was still a mark of
class to be seen lounging at the club-window in the afternoon.

He missed Martin. He was different from the others. When he raved
against the world, he said things in bad taste, but often the bitter
truth. With a sudden impulse, he wrote a few lines, asking him to lunch
at the club the following day. He’d be furious when he heard Julie had
sailed. He’d say, “You might have given me a chance to send her a few
flowers.” Floyd smiled; yes, he liked Martin; more than that, he loved
him; he was interwoven with the memories of his childhood, his youth.
He wished that episode had not happened when Julie was ill, but she
was unconscious of it. She had never in all that time mentioned his
name. It was all in his own evil mind. He mentally asked pardon of
Martin. The next morning at breakfast he had a feeling of agreeable
expectancy.

The boy was crying upstairs. Bridget couldn’t quiet him.

“What’s the matter up there?”

The child fretted for his mother. He had caught a cold, and had been
kept in the house for some days. He was standing with his boat in his
hands, sobbing piteously. Floyd pacified him by running the water into
the bath which was sunken in the center of a tiled room. The boy handed
his father the boat.

Floyd turned it over in his hand.

“A costly toy. Mamma is good to you.”

“Mamma didn’t give it to me.”

“Yes she did--Mamma gives you everything.”

“She didn’t,” insisted the boy. “My Uncle Martin bought it for me.”

“Your Uncle Martin?”

“Yes. He came every day to the Park, and then he put a note in the
cabin, telling Mamma to come, and she came.”

“Where is the cabin?”

“You can’t find it, nobody but me.”

The boy in great glee pressed the spring.

“There’s no letter there!”

“Oh! no! I gave it to Mamma; she read it and tore it up.”

Floyd pushed the boy away. He was making a spy of his innocent child.
Why didn’t Julie tell him?

“Did Mamma meet Uncle Martin in the Park every day?”

“No, not every day; she’d stay away sometimes because Uncle Martin
scolded her and she’d cry. He loved me and petted me and said he was
going to steal me away.”

“But you wouldn’t leave me, would you, Joseph?”

The boy meditated, and then told the truth.

“Perhaps I would, Papa, if Mamma came along; but I don’t think she’d
come because Uncle Martin scolded her too much. I was mad at him and
said ‘Uncle Martin, you’ll have to beg Mother’s pardon; I always do
when I’m bad.’ Then Uncle Martin laughed and gave me such a long kiss
and said, ‘There, take that to Mamma and it will be all right.’”

Floyd sat motionless with the boy in his arms. The little fellow’s eyes
drooped, he slid down, pillowed his head on the big fur animal; those
glassy eyes brought Floyd back to Mrs. Gonzola--why did she always
watch Julie? He had never asked any questions about the unexpected call
on the telephone. He had been deliriously happy; there was no room in
his thoughts for the past.

He bent over the child, noting the beautiful powerful body; neither
he nor Julie had great physical strength. The boy would be a giant.
Why did Mrs. Gonzola press such a quick marriage? Why did she keep him
away so much during their short engagement? Why did she want Julie
to get “used” to the idea? As a child Julie liked Martin better;
they’d disappear and he’d wander about looking for them, then go home
disappointed. In his mad desire to get her, he had really done Martin
an injustice; he should have waited. He didn’t do the square thing,
because--he knew Martin would have won out! He bent lower over the
boy--trying to find some clue in that innocent face! The blood rushed
to his head--he must have it out with Martin--he couldn’t go on with
evil suspicions of his wife, his friend. Martin was no liar! He always
told the brutal truth, even if it were against himself.

The night brought sanity, consolation. Julie was foolish, but not
criminal. Her religion wouldn’t let her do anything wrong. She went to
Confession the day before her marriage; then he wondered--what did she
really believe? She was by creed a Catholic, but she taught her boy his
prayers in Hebrew.

He went early to the club and waited for Martin, who was late as usual.
He looked at his watch, and idly took up the morning paper.

His eye caught a headline. “The _Aquitania_ sailing with a
distinguished crowd on board.”

What! the ship already back and sailing again? It was the usual summer
rush; he knew most of the names. One riveted his gaze. He read it
once, twice, three times; the paper dropped from his hand. He saw that
name wherever he looked. Martin Steele had sailed on the _Aquitania_.

It was ten days before the next steamer crowded with pleasure-seekers
sailed for England. At the last moment Floyd came on board, too late
to have his name in the passenger list. The only cabin left was on the
lowest deck inside. He went down, locked the door, unpacked his valise.
Most of its space was taken up by a silver-mounted leather box--one
would say an elegant toilette case. He opened it, took out a brace of
shining pistols, examined each one carefully, and put it back in the
box. He had no definite plan, but when a man catches a thief in his
house he shoots him....


17

Martin arrived in London and put up at the Savoy; he noticed the crowds
of fine young fellows and beautifully dressed women.

“Is there anything unusual going on tonight?”

“Yes,” said the polite young clerk, “a dinner and dance, in honor of
Mrs. Garrison, an American lady.”

Julie had been received by the Ambassador in London with great
cordiality, on account of his old friendship for Jimmie Garrison. Mary
wrote to Mr. Garrison:

  You have all reason to be well satisfied with your wife. We have done
  the right thing. She is enjoying herself. She looks like a young
  girl; the element which disturbed her has disappeared. I find her so
  much more normal.

The letter never reached Floyd.

Martin stood in the doorway, his eyes fixed on Julie, who was
surrounded by eager applicants, waiting their turn to dance with the
“silver-haired beauty.” He took in the soft white neck, the dimpled
arms, the small classic head, and that something in the curve of her
mouth and yielding smile--a triumphant sensuality. She swept past him.
He could have touched her; he stood motionless.

Mary was up early the next morning. She stood looking at Julie, in
a deep sleep, her hair falling loose, enveloping her in a veil of
unreality; then she shut the door softly and went into the salon.
Waiting for her simple breakfast, she watched the passing busses and
pedestrians in the street below. All large cities are the same, but
different, like people; each individuality giving another form to the
Image or material symbol. London has a distinct personality; nobility
of character is unmistakably stamped upon it.

The door opened; she turned and saw Martin. There was a momentary fear;
then she was her quiet self again. Martin apologized for startling her.
They measured each other; he saw an enemy.

“Why are you so antagonistic to me?”

“I’m never antagonistic without reason?”

“What reason have I given you?”

She looked keenly at him. He was well groomed--a clean-shaven, intense
face, fascinating for some women; he repelled Mary. He has courage to
show his mouth, she thought.

“I have been sent here by Mrs. Garrison’s doctor; she has had a serious
illness, you know that.”

“Yes.”

“She may at any time fall back into the same condition. I don’t want
her to know you are here.”

“Why?”

There was a gleam of humor in his eyes; it angered her. Why should she
play policy with him?

“Because your presence may excite her. You are Mr. Garrison’s friend.
I hope you will take my advice and not try to see her until she has
finished her cure.”

“What cure?”

“She has been sent to a place in Switzerland called Val Sinestra, to
drink arsenic water; you see I am keeping nothing from you.”

“Very kind, I could easily find out. Val Sinestra?” The name was
familiar.

She stood with her hand on the door-knob waiting for him to go.

“Val Sinestra. I will write her.”

“I have orders to withhold any communications which may excite her.”

“Orders from her husband?”

“No, from her doctor.”

Her eyes shot fire at him....

He went back to his room, took out of his bag the bundle of old
letters. Yes, that was the name, “Val Sinestra”; it was Destiny.

There were two sides to Martin: a fiercely brutal realism, and a
mysticism, instinctively concealed. As a boy, he would lie night after
night, his eyes wide open; visions came and faded. It was always the
same struggle with an unseen horror. He would awaken from a restless
sleep, his face damp with tears. Those days he was very silent; his
stepmother called them his sullen fits. As he grew older the visions
vanished, but he had hours of deep abstraction, when reality slipped
away from him.

He sat in his room, the banal colored post-card of the two young
peasants in his hand. There was a sudden consciousness of Liberation;
the other self flew out and away through walls, over seas, over
mountain peaks, soaring, soaring. He sat there for hours motionless.

That evening the hotel clerk handed Miss Mary a note. It contained one
line scrawled on half a sheet of paper.

“Am leaving for Paris.”

She was very glad, she wondered how far it had gone between those two.
The responsibility was heavy.


18

At thirty-two Martin put his foot for the first time upon the soil
of his ancestors. He roamed through Zurich; mounted its narrow
cobble-stoned alley-ways, stood before an overhanging house reading
the inscription. “This house is three hundred years old.” The lives of
Zwingli, Pestalozzi became familiar. He read ravenously the history of
the town. He stood on the border of its blue lake, encircled with snow
mountains, “A Turquoise on a white bosom.” Something stirred in him,
an inward convulsion, like the sudden eruption of an extinct crater;
he broke into choking tearless sobs. Martin, unknown to himself, had
the Swiss temperament--a people without the gift of self-expression,
a deeply religious peasant race, silent before the mystic beauty of
their mountains. Patriotism, that misunderstood word, with its medieval
clashing of swords, its uniforms, its medals, has no relation to the
Swiss adoration of the soil. He worships his valleys, his lakes, his
waterfalls; they are living to him; he has a rage for the mountains;
he leaves his country to seek wealth, but he rarely stays in the
stranger’s land; nostalgia drives him home; he must get back to the
heights or die. Martin understood later why his grandfather went mad,
why his father was wordless, why his mother died young.

He tried his Swiss on the _portier_ of the Bauer au lac Hotel, a man
of all-round information, a veritable encyclopædia of Switzerland, who
could answer in the many languages of the cosmopolitan crowd, on its
way to and from the mountains. Martin spoke a few words to him in his
grandfather’s “lingo,” then said, “What am I speaking, anyhow?”

“Your dialect is Romontsch or Romance. Your people came from the
Grisons.”

Then he explained how in the Middle Ages the Barons and Bishops had
oppressed the people, and how they formed Leagues and fought for their
freedom. The Grisons took their name from the “Gray League,” a heroic
band of peasants.

Martin left Zurich by the early train the next morning; he sat
the entire day gazing out of the window unconscious of the other
passengers. A great moving picture shot before him--green valleys,
velvet hills, beautiful grazing animals, brooks changing into
waterfalls, cataracts dashing down dark ravines, mountains growing
higher, higher. At Tarasp he stayed over night to connect with the
stage-coach at daybreak, and spent the evening sitting outside with
the guides, who told him of the Val Sinestra, where the bandits used
to live in caves, deep down in the ravines, and smuggled wine over the
border. Then they spoke in lowered tones of the danger of mountain
climbing--of death--of miracles they had seen above in the mist, with
their own eyes.

With the rising of the sun, seated beside the coach driver, Martin
pierced the mountain passes; they stopped at a quaint hamlet.

“We turn here,” said the old man. Then he wished “Godspeed,” cracked
his whip, and went on. The coach pitched from side to side, on a
perilously narrow road, but the horses were sure-footed, and the
driver, past seventy, had gone the same way for fifty years.

Martin drew deep breaths of the fragrant air; he looked about him.
The houses were a mixture of old Swiss and Italian architecture--the
protruding windows and little balconies were covered with bright
flowers; in the distance he caught sight of a picturesque church and
cemetery. He entered an inn with a swinging sign; a rooster flapping
its wings. The spotless floors sprinkled with sand, the small counter
with shelves of bottles, the peasant girl in the costume of the
Canton--it was all so familiar. She brought him a glass of wine and a
pretzel, smiling at his jargon. He remarked on the absence of men.

“They are ‘up there’ with the cows for the summer.” She pointed to
the green hills, gradually becoming steeper. “In those little huts
on the top they make the cheese which they send all over the world.
In the winter the sun doesn’t come up very high; it is like a blue
twilight here. The storms howl, the snow falls for weeks. When the
peasant closes his eyes, the avalanche haunts him; if he awakens in
the morning he is grateful to God.” The girl went on chattering in her
soft “Romance.” “The doctor goes down to Croire in the winter, but our
pastor stays with us. We have service here when the snow is too deep to
walk to the chapel.” Then she put down the glass she was polishing, and
went joyously to the door to meet a tall man, a gigantic peasant, with
masses of thick gray hair falling to his shoulder. He was long past
seventy, but showed no signs of age. His voice rang out stentorian,
clear. He was warm, wiping the perspiration from his face with a large
red handkerchief. He looked at Martin with keen penetrating eyes. Then
said, “Good morning.”

“Oh, you speak English.”

“Yes, we have many English visitors. Our children are taught it in the
schools.” He looked again, seemingly puzzled.

“What is your name?”

“Martin Steele. My people come from over here.”

“Steele.” He shook his head. “I know none of that name.”

Martin took from his pocket the bundle of old letters. One glance at
them and the pastor’s arms were around him.

“I wrote those letters to your grandfather. I am his brother. You are
not an American, you are a Swiss. Your name is not Steele, it is
Staehli--Martin Staehli. The eldest of our family, for generations
back, was always Martin.”

Martin felt a throb of joy; the blood of this fine old man with the
head of a Roman ran in his veins. He had known only Aunt Priscilla,
whom he wanted to burn.

“Come, I am going to take you home with me.”

Martin looked back at the Swiss “Madel.” In her red skirt and velvet
bodice--an image of national womanhood.

They walked together down the hill, through the fields, past the little
chapel and cemetery where they stopped. On the headstones he read again
and again the name, “Martin Staehli.” He would bring his grandfather,
his parents and lay them where they belonged, and he would lie there
beside them.

The pastor looked up at the great mountain, already casting a shadow
over the valley; even in summer the day was short. The night came early
and lingered.

“We are not all here. My son was the best guide in the Canton. He was
lost in a snow-drift up there.”

At the châlet with its black beams, centuries old, still strong,
unyielding, he put his hand over Martin’s head and blessed his entrance
into the home of his fathers.

Martin stood in the long hall, vaguely conscious of atmosphere. A
cuckoo sprang out of an old clock, chanting the hour; a spinning wheel
with threaded flax; new linen piled up; a living thing, that wheel,
it clothed the people. Carved chests, plaques of fruit, birds cut out
by the natives, when the country was Italian--everything in the room
bearing witness,--a living story-teller of the lives and times of the
vanished family. For the first time he _felt_ the antique. He was
swayed by a kind of psychic storm, like a rush of wind through the pass
of a mountain.

The pastor at the door called, “Angela, Angela.”

A clear voice answered; she came down the path--a girl of sixteen, with
bits of hay in her flaxen hair, a child-like look of wonder in her blue
eyes, and something more--of mystery. Martin thought of Joan of Arc in
the orchard.

On seeing Martin, she gave a quick impulsive cry. The pastor put his
arm around her.

“What frightens you, Angela? It is my brother, Martin’s son from
America.”

Angela extended her hand, but her warm radiance had vanished. “Come out
in the sun, it is cold here.”

She brought mugs of thick yellow milk, brown bread, delicious chipped
beef, then went again into the field and sat sorting out leaves from a
basket. The pastor followed Martin’s gaze which lingered on the girl;
she appealed to his artistic sense.

“Angela is a wonder child; she is not of our family. I found her one
moonlit winter night in a snow-drift--a white angel. Since she came the
village has prospered; the people are happy.”

Martin smiled: probably the child of some unfortunate village girl.
The pastor read his thoughts. “She belongs to no one; she is a
miracle-child. You don’t believe in miracles?”

“No.”

“Then why are you here?”

A simple question, difficult to answer. He couldn’t express the
longing, which from childhood had made him restless, unhappy--a
longing for some other space, some other element. He couldn’t explain
his agitation, his unbearable joy, when he saw those scenes of which
his grandfather had babbled in incoherent broken bits. He answered
conventionally.

“I wanted to see the place where my grandfather was born.”

The pastor grew very serious. “It was not a case of idle curiosity
you were drawn here; Angela knew you were coming. I used to tell her
stories of your grandfather, Martin Staehli. He was queer; had a streak
in him of evil. He got into a brawl with a guide and killed him; he had
to leave the country.”

“I never knew that,” said Martin.

“That’s why he changed his name. I wrote to him often, but he seldom
answered. Poor Martin, he got very rich.”

Martin laughed bitterly. That almost uncontrollable instinct to destroy
was his inheritance.

“Angela said the third generation would return home. She has the gift
of prophecy and of healing. She cures the people of their ills. The
cattle run to her for her herbs; there is a magic in them. She brews
them with Prayer, with Love.”

Martin shook off a peculiar feeling; it was all superstitious nonsense,
an insult to a man’s intelligence. He rose to go.

“You will stay here with us?”

“I’m sorry, but I must meet some friends. Where is the Val Sinestra
Hotel?”

“A little distance from here, on the other side of the hill beyond the
hay-field.”

Martin looked up at the straight stony walls of the big mountain.

“I’m going to climb that mountain,” he said.

The pastor smiled. “Perhaps, when you have had long practice; a man
must train himself to climb.”

The pastor watched him as he went with quick uneven steps, stumbling
here and there; he had no equilibrium. He’d never climb that mountain.

Angela was also watching Martin. The pastor put his hand on her
shoulder; she started.

“He terrifies me; I am afraid of him.” She threw herself sobbing into
the old man’s arms.


19

The pale women were coming up from the Springs, where they drank the
arsenic water with a prayer for red corpuscles, strength, beauty. The
Spring of Youth was in a cleft in the mountain--a dark mysterious
fountain of gushing water unlit by the sun.

Martin paced his room in the hotel. She was there, arrived two weeks
before; the cure was nearly over. The madness came back now; he had
been free of it for a few hours. It was like the relapse of a fever,
violent--vicious--raging. He had waited too long for her with stupid
patience, and more stupid scruples. He heard Julie’s voice downstairs;
he went to the window. She was standing on the terrace talking to Miss
Mary, who was leaving. She kissed Julie, jumped into the hotel omnibus,
and drove off. Julie stood a moment waving her hand, then turned and
entered the house. He heard her voice outside in the corridor speaking
to the maid. The next door opened; her room adjoined his.

The Sun-God sinking slowly behind the mountain scattered an orgy of
color. Julie stepped out on her balcony. There was a low railing
between them. He jumped over.

“Julie!”

She started with sudden fear, fled into the room. He followed, tried
to say something, stood speechless looking at her. She was wonderful.
The force of the rich blood surging under the white skin swept him like
a cyclone. There was a new intensity of life in her, quick flashes of
passion in her eyes. She gave a low cry, threw her arms out trembling
with uncontrollable joy.

“You! You!” She kissed him again and again. How she kissed him! then
drew him outside.

“Come! come! The sun is setting; it was too wonderful, I couldn’t bear
it alone.” His eyes held hers.

“I saw Miss Mary driving away.”

“Yes, she has gone to Tarasp to visit an old patient; she will be away
until tomorrow afternoon.”

A shadow fell; it was twilight.

“You must go now.”

He tried to hold her; she slipped out of his arms, shutting the long
windows after her. He went back to his room. Those fleeting moments
made him eager, desperate. The night was coming on; they were alone
together at the end of the world.

Miss Mary sitting in the train was troubled. She opened a telegram
and read it again, “Meet me at Tarasp. Say nothing to my wife. Floyd
Garrison.”


20

The little parlor of the hotel was filled with guests, assembled there,
as was the custom, waiting for the dining-room doors to be opened.
Martin, standing in the hall, a living symbol of electric force,
created a sensation. He drew nearer and took in the crowd of pale
women, young, nervous, with mysterious ills they could not, or would
not, explain to their doctor, who, for the lack of a suitable name,
called the sickness “anæmia.” He looked them over with an experienced
man’s compelling eyes. Some were very good-looking, would have been
beautiful under favorable conditions, but they were pale, with white
lips and drawn features, like plants in a dark cellar pining for the
sun. He became amusedly conscious of being the only man; he finally
espied in the garden a rheumatic old fellow, like the decayed trunk
of a tree. He felt a battery of admiring glances leveled at him. He
smiled, went to the foot of the staircase, waited for Julie.

They went in to dinner together. The table in a deep window at the far
end of the room was decorated tonight with an abundance of flowers.
Martin played with his food; he was too excited to eat, but he was
in wonderful spirits. Julie had never seen him like that; she had a
feeling of triumphant elation. He was handsome; the other women were
envying her.

He laughingly remarked about the Eden with one Adam and many
temptresses.

“They are all so white, as if frozen in ice; the Sun-God should come
and melt them.” He squeezed her hand under the table. “I am sorry for
the ‘good’ women. They sacrifice themselves for an illusion--chastity.”

She answered quickly. “The woman doesn’t think so. It is her religion.
It may mean nothing to you, but for her it is a spiritual compensation.”

“Oh, that’s Catholic,” laughed Martin. She shivered, drew her cape
around her.

Then he said, “Look how beautiful! The twilight is wonderful up here,
light mixing with darkness like two souls. How the valley stretches
out. Do you hear the rushing of waters? They are saying, ‘Give me
your body, I will heal you.’ Look! The mountain has a halo of red; it
catches at my throat and chokes me....”

He was poetic, inspired. He raised his glass. “The wine goes through
my veins like warm blood. If I were a doctor, I’d prescribe it for the
ladies.”

“Oh, oh,” laughed Julie, “forbidden fruit!”

“And you?” There was a laughing question in his eyes.

“I’m cured.” She drained the glass.

After dinner they walked up and down the terrace in front of the hotel,
like old friends who had not met for some time and had much to say to
each other. Gradually, the buzzing inside subsided, the pale creatures
evaporated, lights were put out; one glimmered in each corridor.

He drew Julie into a small summer house covered with vines, at the end
of the garden. The head waitress brought in wine. He thanked her--the
Swiss know the hotel business. He slipped his arm under Julie’s cape.
She resisted, but he held her close. She could hear his heart beating
violently. Then it seemed as if it stood quite still, but it commenced
soon to hammer again against hers.

“I must go in,” she whispered. “They close the house early.” She put
her arms around his neck, raised her face to his.

“How dark it is.”

“Yes. It’s always so before the moon comes up.” Then she slipped away.
He caught her back.

“Will you give me a signal?” It was a moment of suspense.

“Yes.”

He looked up at her room; there was a candle burning in the window.

“When you put out that light, I’ll come.”

He reluctantly let her go. She went up the stairs; he saw her at her
window. There was a white spirit also watching--the moon, that “Orbèd
Maiden,” chaste as the sleeping women within. Only those two were
living; with them it was Flood-Tide.

The light in Julie’s window went out. It was dark now, the moon ashamed
had turned away her face. He started to go; his feet were lead; his
body weighed them down. What ailed him? He shook himself like an angry
beast.

“Martin, don’t go.”

The voice was low, but very clear; did it come from without or within?
He didn’t know.

“Martin, don’t commit this crime; don’t rob your friend. If you love
the woman, do not destroy her; it is one throb more, one desire
fulfilled--and then--the Price....”

At daybreak, the gardener, crawling about, found the stranger in the
summer house, his head on the table, buried in his arms. He looked at
the empty bottles. The wine of the Canton was strong; he shook the
sleeping man, once, twice. Martin started up; where was he?...

The hotel was empty. The guests were at the Springs. A bath of mineral
effervescent water refreshed him, but that strange feeling came again
like a dream which returns in fitful flashes, fragments of color
impossible to blend. He paced the room; his eyes fell upon the deerskin
trunk he had brought with him. He opened it, took out the corduroy
trousers, boots, shirt--examined them critically. His valet had
pronounced them “only fit for the ash can,” but that didn’t influence
Martin. He had them cleaned, folded, and put back into the box. He drew
on the soft leather boots; they fitted him. The woollen shirt was
light and warm. Looking at himself in the glass, he saw a man of the
mountains--real, living. If a man buys a costume like that, it is only
a masquerade; this was his inheritance.

The omnibus came back from the Springs; he went down and helped Julie
out, seeking in her face the reproach he deserved. She smiled at him;
how sweet of her! The fact was, when Julie reached her room the usual
revulsion of feeling set in. She undressed quickly, dropping her
clothing in a heap on the floor, blew out the candle. There was a dark
form below--waiting--she stood breathless, her hand on the knob of the
door. Then--she turned the key, crept to the window, pushed the bolt.
She was securely locked in--she slipped into bed.

This morning she looked very girlish in a sport suit; the short skirt
grazing the tops of very high tan leather boots. A soft hat, pulled
down over one eye, gave her rosy face a touch of diablerie. She was all
animation, joking about his Alpine costume, casting roguish glances at
him; but he felt the undercurrent of emotion. He adored her.

“We are going out for a day in the woods.”

“You don’t ask, will I go.”

“No--but you will, won’t you?”

There was pathos in his voice, longing; she couldn’t resist him.

“Yes, but I must rest after the bath and dress lightly. The morning
here is cold; at noon it gets very warm.”

He bent down and whispered, “Wear white like a bride.”

During the interval of waiting, Martin studied a map of the Canton,
tracing lines from one Dorf to another, short walking tours through the
woods; there were plenty of little inns where they could rest. He paced
the terrace impatiently.

She came, all in white. A filmy scarf wound around her head, “à la
turque,” accentuated the Oriental in her. She laughingly drew the long
floating streamers across her face; her eyes shot fire through their
soft transparency.

A little wagon drove up; the peasant boy cracked his whip and they
started off. The road was smooth, sunlit. They stopped at the
Springs, where Julie made him drink the unsavory water “to clear his
complexion.” They were in high spirits, laughing at simple things,
like two children. When they reached the chasm, the road became steep,
narrow, with dark overhanging trees. Martin drew Julie close to him;
a mysterious something hovered about them, intangible in its beauty,
penetrating, wonderful.

The driveway ended there. The descent into the ravine must be finished
on foot. The lad took a basket from the wagon and set it on the ground;
then he cracked his whip and drove off.


21

At the Savoy, Floyd heard many flattering things about his beautiful
wife. He was silent, kept turning over the pages of the hotel register,
finally found the name he was looking for--“Martin Steele, New York.”
Then he wired Miss Mary and left at once for Switzerland, made quick
connections, arriving at Tarasp toward evening. The stage-coach from
Val Sinestra was expected. He paced up and down before the hotel, his
thoughts stinging like a swarm of bees.

He had married well, he was a happy man--in the world’s vocabulary.

Happy? A man who marries Beauty lives on a powder mine. The something
which compels adoration makes a woman unfit for matrimony. A man can’t
always be on his knees; that’s very well at night--but he becomes a
ridiculous figure in the daylight.

The coach shambled up the road. Mary was the only passenger; she nodded
and smiled at him. He helped her out.

“Were you surprised to get my telegram?”

“Yes.”

“You understood?”

Mary waited. She wasn’t sure how much he knew.

He spoke again excitedly.

“Why did Dr. McClaren send my wife to Europe without me?”

“Mrs. Garrison wanted it; there was no peace for her with that man so
near.”

He was watching her keenly. Did he think she was in collusion with his
wife against him? Her face burned; she looked straight at him.

“Mr. Garrison, it was an experiment and very successful. She is cured.”

He was ashamed. She and the doctor knew his dishonor, and then--the
world. His voice was hot--angry.

“He followed her to London; they were together at the Savoy.”

“No!”

“He was there.”

Then she told him of her encounter with Martin, and how he went away
without seeing Julie.

He had done them a terrible injustice? He was piteously grateful, held
her hands, made a foolish attempt to kiss them. She grew very pale,
and said, “Oh! Mr. Garrison!” He dropped them, very much embarrassed,
looked at his watch. It was already ten o’clock; the evening had passed
quickly, in spite of his misery.

“You are tired. I have been inconsiderate.”

“Oh no, but if you don’t mind, I’ll go to my room now.”

He stood at the foot of the stairs looking after her; she smiled back
at him. She was glad she had been able to bring him a hopeful message.

They started off the next morning, in a comfortable open carriage.
Mary told him funny stories about the “blood-poor” women and their
arsenic intoxication, showed him pretty twists in the splendid road
built by the Romans. They stopped at a little inn for a bite of cheese
and a glass of beer. He planned a trip to Lugano and over the lake to
Italy; he was in good spirits; the sense of relief acted like a strong
stimulant.

Mary was very loyal to Julie.

“Mr. Garrison, I can assure you everything is all right. I have written
to Rome at Mrs. Garrison’s request. After her cure she has plans to go
with you to visit Father Cabello.”

Floyd was very penitent.

“I am glad to know that. Father Cabello has a strong influence over
my wife. She has been too worldly; I hope he will bring her back to
religion.”

On arriving at the hotel, Mary went at once to Julie’s room; it was in
great disorder--everything scattered about, as if she had dressed very
hurriedly. Floyd downstairs was questioning the woman manager.

“Madame had gone with Monsieur Steele; they had taken luncheon with
them. Did Madame expect Monsieur Garrison?”

“No. I wanted to surprise her. Do you know where they went?”

“Yes. The boy who drove them is here.”

“I would like to find them, if possible.”

The woman went to order the wagon.

Mary was pale, agitated.

“Mr. Garrison, when I left your wife, Mr. Steele was not here.”

He didn’t answer; he frightened her.

“What are you going to do?”

“Find her and bring her back.”

“A storm is brewing,” said the woman. “They come up quickly and are
terrible while they last.”

The wagon drove up; he jumped in. Mary stood watching him till he was
out of sight. The clouds gathered; the wind slunk into its den.

Floyd pushed back his hat, wiped the perspiration from his forehead; it
was stifling.


22

The lovers stood together on a grassy plateau, the sun poured bright
beams of light; below was a dense mist.

“How wonderful,” said Martin. “Nature has kept a sunny spot for us;
we’ll stay here awhile.” He drew his “lodin” cape around him, stretched
himself out on the grass, looking up at the golden clouds surrounding
the sun, looking below at the rapidly rising veil of gray; it was
glorious.

Julie took bread, fowl, wine out of the basket; they ate with their
fingers and drank the wine out of the bottle. The sun glimmered red
through the dark clouds. They were silent; then he spoke, quietly at
first, becoming gradually very much excited.

“Why did you throw me over so heartlessly, after you promised me
to prepare your mother? I knew it was useless; I had made all my
arrangements--I had a cabin engaged on a French steamer--”

Julie tried to justify herself, then began to cry hysterically; she
had never broken faith with him. He couldn’t imagine what she’d been
through all her life. The pressure of those two terrible religions:
her grandfather dragging her one way, her mother threatening her with
eternal punishment.

He tried to soothe her.

“Don’t cry, Julie, I’ll make it up to you. You will be happy for the
first time in your life.”

“But Floyd--he’s been so good--you always came between us, pushing him
away.”

She slipped out of his arms. It was Floyd now coming between them, it
wasn’t so easy to push _him_ away. They had been friends so long. Floyd
was the innocent victim. Martin’s eyes roved restlessly--and that gray
mist--rising!--rising!

She waited for him to speak; then she went to him like a child,
piteous, pathetic.

“Martin, don’t be angry with me--I love you--but the winter here is
cold; the snow is like a winding sheet--I couldn’t bear it!”

She was wavering again; it brought him back, fiery, impatient--

“We will go to Lugano, Italy, Spain; you will get your divorce, I will
marry you.”

“No! No!--there is no divorce in the Church--I am afraid of Father
Cabello.”

Those fear thoughts--how they tore at her!

He took her in his arms, kissed her until the color came back to her
face, the warmth to her body. She was his absolutely; he could make her
do what he wanted--but--he mustn’t leave her.

Then she gave a sudden cry. It was like an animal in pain.

“What now? What now?”

“My boy! You won’t let them take him away, you must promise me that.”

“Julie, look at me.”

She raised her heavy lids and met his searching glance; their souls
questioned mutely, answered mutely. He drew her closer.

“You shall have your boy. I promise you. Are you satisfied now?”

“Yes--”

She was tired, beaten to exhaustion by the force of rushing psychic
waves, breaking against her weak will. Her head throbbed; she tore off
her scarf; her hair dropped in a thick coil, down her back, like a
writhing white snake; he wound it around his neck.

“This was my punishment.”

“No! No! Our love was not a crime. You fought too hard against it.
Nature put her hand on your head and turned your hair white; it was
her revenge.”

Julie listened, fascinated; he was irresistible like that, his voice
vibrating. Every nerve in her body responded. He stroked her forehead
softly, the pain ceased. How happy she was! how happy.

“You are a woman of the Orient; you are starving for love; it is your
life--you cannot fight it; it is too strong for you--for me, come!
come!”...

These children of passion went down into the mist.

He carried her along in his strong embrace, lifting her over the
stones, her feet scarcely touching the ground; there was a wonderful
sense of lightness, as if she had thrown off a heavy load. The fog was
cold; it dampened her face, her hair. They reached the bottom of the
ravine; the clouds around them moved, disclosing a little wooden house,
which had been hidden in the mist. Now it stood out clearly--a bit of
beautiful old architecture. Julie shrank away.

“It is a chapel; see, over the door, the cross. Take me home! take me
home!”

He laughed mockingly.

“Nonsense, you must get over your religious superstition. The chapel
will shelter us from the storm. Come, let us go in.”

“No! No!--not there!”

She fled, he followed her; the mist dropped like a curtain between
them, growing thicker, thicker.

“Julie, where are you?”

He heard her voice close to him.

“Here.”

He took her in his arms, wrapped his cape about her; she clung to him.
He was deliriously happy; he held her in a frenzy of possession.

“Julie, my love! my love!”

The mist rose slowly, the red rays of the setting sun penetrated into
the ravine, they were enveloped in flames. He could see her face now
distinctly as she lay in his arms.

The mist vanished like magic, and--there--there!--he saw--no! no!--it
couldn’t be!

Floyd’s voice rang out through the pass, struck the mountainside, and
came back.

“Julie!!”

Martin held her with a fierce joy. He would stand now in the open for
what he was. Julie was crying pitifully. He was very tender. He soothed
her like a child.

“Hush! Hush! It is better; there will be no more lies.”

Floyd’s first impulse was to drag her from Martin’s arms, but he stood
motionless listening to her sobs. Then she tore herself away, with an
appealing cry. “Floyd! Forgive me! Forgive me!”

That set both the men on fire. Martin gave an angry growl.

Again Floyd’s voice rang out.

“Julie, you are my wife. You must come with me!”

A moment’s silence, the trees motionless, the clouds sullen, waiting;
then the voice of Nature, so long suppressed, broke out in Julie.

“No! No! I belong to Martin! I will not leave him! I cannot!”

Martin stood a little above her, he put out his hand to draw her up,
she smiled at him. God! her joy!

Floyd raised his pistol, fired; Martin’s arm fell to his side. Now
burning with a murderous rage, he sprang forward at closer range.

“This time through the heart!”

With a cry of horror, Julie wrested the pistol from his hand. It
fell some distance away, went off, reverberating through the valley,
arousing the people. The pastor heard it in the little chapel, where he
had gone at the approach of the storm. He came holding up his lantern,
seeking the cause. A fierce gust of wind blew through the ravine,
whirling, in a dervish-like dance of fiendish fury.

Then the demon in Martin went out to meet the tearing forces of nature.

“Fool! Fool! You cannot hold her! She was never yours! never! She is
mine by Nature’s unalterable law!”

Floyd’s agonized tones rose above the wind.

“Julie! Julie! I want to save you from a terrible fate! look at him!
Can’t you see! He is mad! mad!”

That word struck Martin a fatal blow. He put his hand to his head;
there was a look in his eyes like a stricken beast pleading for mercy.
Floyd never forgot it.

“No! No!--not that--”

He turned and fled, stumbling over rocks, through bushes, a terrible
horror pursuing him, stretching out its giant claws to entangle him
Mad! Yes, he was mad! It was his inheritance! The storm raged, crashes
of thunder, flashes of lightning; an enormous tree sprang into the air,
its great quivering limbs cleft in twain. The pines wailed, muttered,
waved their long arms; he staggered on, fighting the elements without,
within. He was conscious of climbing; his strength grew; fear made him
superhuman. He heard a voice behind him calling. Mad! Mad! He went on
crashing through obstacles, going up! up--there was no measurement of
time, of distance. He stood on the first peak of the great mountain. It
rose before him, a straight wall of stone; a deep chasm yawned between.
He threw out his arms with agonizing longing.

“Up there! Up to the top!”

There was no trace of mist. The air was cold, the sky studded with
brilliant planets; their light searched his soul. He saw clearly the
jungle within him, the tearing beasts of passion, the wreckage, the
futility, the dark future! He raised his head to that glory once more;
then with a cry of despair he went over the precipice.


23

The pastor followed Martin to the foot of the mountain. He could go
no further; the ground was slippery, dangerous. He retraced his steps
with a heavy heart. He was filled with righteous anger. One of his name
had dishonored a woman; he must make restitution. He found Julie in a
frenzy of fear, calling again and again, “Martin! Martin!” She stood
like a white spirit, erect in the storm. The lightning rent the clouds;
then the floods came down.

They carried her to the shelter of the chapel. The little building,
centuries old, was originally a storehouse for contraband, a refuge for
bandits who hid themselves from the gendarmes, among the wine barrels,
in the caves beneath. When the Church took it, they brought a beautiful
altar from Italy, and artists who painted religious figures on the
walls. The wine caves were partitioned into cells, where pious monks
prayed and rubbed their rheumatic limbs. Finally, this holy place, a
victim of skeptical times, was used as a theatre, where allegorical
plays dealing with the political and religious history of the country
were performed.

When Julie became conscious of the dimly lit altar, with its faded
velvet and gold lace, its figure of the Virgin in painted wood, she
stood transfixed; she saw herself on the day of her confirmation, her
mother putting around her neck a gold chain and cross, she heard her
own voice repeating the Confession of Faith, the organ pealing the Hymn
of Praise, the lights, the Presence! With a cry of anguish she fell on
her knees.

“Holy Mary, Mother of God, have pity!”

Then a deep, tender voice filled the chapel--the voice of Father
Cabello.


24

Father Cabello was a mystic. Brought up within the walls of a
monastery, dedicated to Heaven from his birth, he saw the will of God
in every event of his kaleidoscopic existence. He had travelled much,
studied much, with the one ever-dominating ambition, which slowly but
inevitably came to its fulfillment. The Gonzola family, with money and
influence, had in those two generations been a great Catholic influence
in America. Father Cabello was the power behind it. He had sustained
Mrs. Gonzola, that devout, pious woman, in her awful struggles with
Joseph Abravanel. He loved Julie, held himself responsible for her
soul. He would save her, as he had saved her mother.

He had been ill in Rome, stricken down with fever, caught in the
unsanitary quarters, trying to improve the deplorable condition of
the people; he went down under a hopeless task. Many a night, seated
at his luxurious table, with its rich appointments, its costly wines,
a terrible thought would come again and again: Was the poverty of
its children a curse laid upon the Holy City, for the generations of
intolerance--its auto-da-fé, its crusades? He tried to drive those
haunting spirits away; he was not the Judge, only an insignificant
part of an indestructible Institution, a symbol, the moulded image of
an Iron Will. Delirium consumed him. He was for weeks near death; then
came very slowly back to life. Lying on his flowered terrace, the great
panorama of Rome before him, he thought of Julie. She had written to
him often after he left America, but her letters grew less frequent.
Before his sickness he had received a short note from Mary, telling of
Julie’s second collapse and her trip to Switzerland: the arsenic waters
at the Val Sinestra had helped her wonderfully; the cure would end July
twenty-second. There was apparently nothing to cause uneasiness in the
letter.

Father Cabello was ostensibly of Jesuit origin, but he possessed a much
older secret inheritance from the time when his ancestors were noble
Spanish-Maranos, deeply versed in deception and the Talmud. He scented
the trail of disaster. Why had not Julie written to him herself? Why
had she travelled to Europe without her husband, her child? Why? Why?

The doctors advised him to go on a visit to America, where the climate
would drive the malaria out of his system. He refused; his strength
was not equal to so long a journey. Then they advised Disentis in
Switzerland--one of the few strong-holds left to the Church. He was
haunted with the thought of Julie. He would go to the Val Sinestra and
see for himself.

Disentis--its crumbling piles of stone, monasteries of the seventh
century, its stillness, its health-giving air, the wonderful healing
waters, gushing from the earth into natural rock basins, hollowed out
by Nature’s hand, the frugal fare, the rising at the first glimpse of
dawn, the pervading sweetness of the bells, prayer, which had a new
sanctity, as if nearer the Divine Fount--there he gained new spiritual
inspiration, new physical strength--there during the summer months
the Benedictine Friars welcome their brothers from all corners of the
world. Father Cabello clasped hands with monks of many orders. The
Trappists appealed strongly to his affection--bare-footed, humble,
rich in knowledge; he never tired listening to their many colored
experiences. He was eagerly questioned about America, “the land of
unbounded possibilities.” He had a store of humorous stories, which
were greeted with low chuckles and spasmodic movements of the diaphragm.

Walking with the Father Superior one day, in the surrounding woods,
that benign forest which protects the children of God from the
avalanche, Father Cabello asked about Val Sinestra and how he could get
there.

“Easily from here; my carriage is at your disposal--a drive at leisure
through the mountains, a most beautiful and interesting trip. Near
the Val Sinestra, there is an ancient bit of architecture, a deserted
chapel; it is now the property of a poor community headed by a great
man, Pastor Staehli; the Church should buy it back.”

“I will see to it,” said Father Cabello.

The next day he started out; there was no trace of anger in the blue
sky, but the driver pointed to a small watery cloud low on the horizon.

“We are going to have a storm; would it not be better to wait until it
is over?” said the Superior.

Father Cabello hesitated, then he answered:

“I want to be at Val Sinestra before the twenty-second. I am being
pushed by a strong impulse, which has some mysterious significance--a
call for help from one I love.”

“Then go, in God’s name.”

That drive through the mountains was a sacrament. Father Cabello bowed
before a great God, clothed in a sacerdotal vestment of Nature.

“There is the chapel,” said the driver. It was distinctly visible in
the valley below.

Suddenly a shot rang out.

“What was that?”

The driver shook his head. It seemed to the excited imagination of the
priest like a discharge signalling a great battle; then the fury of the
Invisible broke, the man whipped up his horses, and dashed down the
incline toward the chapel....

It is wonderful in the mountains after such an outbreak of electric
force; the Prince of Light marches majestically in the Heavens
showering gifts of prismatic gold; a Master Chemist, he will create
again from the storm wreckage; the stricken trees will sink into the
bosom of the earth and moulder there, generating in Nature’s crucible
new germs of Life, and the little dark pine-children will be born.


25

Floyd paced restlessly outside the chapel, listening to Julie’s sobs
and the voice of the priest, tender, persuasive, stern, threatening.
Once before he had pleaded with Joseph Abravanel; now a second time
he is pleading with his wife! His wife? No! No! Lies! Lies! She was
never his; she belonged to Martin by the unalterable law of Nature.
They would go on saying that. He would always see them with their arms
around each other. He had been cheated! cheated!

A sharp bolt of light pierced the dark valley, shone on the battered
cross above the chapel, glanced off, lit up the silver trimmings of the
pistol on the ground. He picked it up. The voices in the chapel rose
and fell.

“You must go back to your husband.”

“I will not. I belong to Martin; I will never leave him. I cannot.” Her
voice was sharp with agony. Floyd shuddered; why should she be tortured
like that? Why? If he were dead they could live. He _was_ dead, burnt
to cinders. The tongues of flame in his father’s workshop had crept
into his body, consumed it; there was nothing left but the shell--easy
enough to put an end to that clay image!--“Shoot its head off!”

The pastor wrested the pistol from the hand of the distraught man, led
him through a trail to the châlet, and left him with Angela. He was
quiet now; he lay back in a chair with closed eyes. She sat and watched
him, passing her cool hand over his hot forehead; the lamp shed a soft
glow over the pale face, the well-shaped head, the regular features.
A splendid human species, those Americans--a youthful race, a type
ennobled by climate, good food, and labor that develops character. She
thought of the cretins of her own beautiful land, of the degenerating
races of Europe. This man was like Dresden china, fine, very fine; but
there were deep lines that made the face look old; the chisel of Life
had cut deeply into him. She bent over him.

“Come with me.”

He looked blankly into her soft radiant eyes. Who was she?

She took him up the narrow stairs into a small room with bare white
walls, a little cot, a bunch of Alpine roses on a table by the window.

“Will you try to sleep?”

“No! No!”

She led him to the balcony, a nest under the overhanging roof.

“Sit here; you will sleep.”

She put him in a reclining chair and left him.

The moon shone on his flushed face; the valley was filled with soft
shadows; the mountain raised a luminous head. The air penetrated his
agonized body. An hour passed; a white figure stood beside him.

“Come in! The night air in the mountains is too strong for strangers.”

He saw her through a mist, his eyes dim with overpowering sleep. He
fell on the cot--she covered him with a warm blanket....

The pastor called the guides together; they came with their ropes and
axes. He spoke tersely; they were used to action, not words.

“A man had gone up the mountain in the storm.”

Then he gave a low whistle. There was a panting, a breaking through
the bushes. A dog threw himself upon the pastor, who bent over him,
stroking his thick coat with a magnetic touch. He gave him Martin’s
mantle, the dog tore at it, dropped it. The pastor whispered, “Find
him.” With a low whine the animal plunged into the thicket, the guides
followed, their strong throats propelling sounds that echoed to the
unscaled heights.


26

The hotel was in an uproar. The pale women, excited by the storm,
could not be kept in their rooms; they crowded the corridors, uttering
plaintive cries. The quick flashes of lightning revealed little groups
huddled together; one poor thing quite lost her control. She betrayed
her terror in a strangely interesting manner: rushed to the long door
opening onto the balcony, baring her white bosom to the storm. She was
wonderful as she stood there, her face rapturous, like a woman lifting
herself to the embrace of her lover.

The storm passed. The pale women fluttered in the sun, holding up
their bloodless hands to its warmth, chattering, laughing over their
“thrilling” experience.

Mary was terribly worried about her friends. The carriage had not come
back. The proprietress thought the party had been driven through the
short cut to the pastor’s châlet.

“But the shot!” said Mary. The woman looked grave. It was not hunting
time.

When the carriage drove up with Julie and Father Cabello, Mary knew
something terrible had happened. She grew very pale, but she had
been trained to ask no questions. Julie was quiet, with wide-open
horror-filled eyes. Father Cabello took Mary’s hand and spoke gravely.

“There has been an accident. Mr. Steele has been lost in the storm;
they are looking for him.” She caught her breath.

“Mr. Garrison?”

The priest pierced her with his understanding eyes.

“Mr. Garrison is safe; he and his wife will leave here by the early
train tomorrow. Will you see to everything?”

“Yes,” said Mary.

Then his voice hardened.

“No matter what happens, they must go; nothing can prevent that.”

Julie let herself be undressed and fell into a lethargy. Mary tried
several times to awaken her; she would open her eyes and fall again
into that trance which was not sleep.

The pastor came over to the hotel to see Father Cabello. They talked
long into the night, of Floyd, Julie, of the fight against Martin. The
pastor repeated again:

“He is one of ours; he has done wrong. He must make restitution.”

Father Cabello was troubled. Julie had shown unexpected strength. He
must find a way to bring her back to the Church, to submission.

The next morning, early, Mary was surprised to find Julie up and
dressed. The hotel was closing that day. The trunks had to be locked
and taken down. Julie watched her moving about.

“If I could get out of this room--it is horrible.”

A hotel room before the departure of its occupant, with its torn
newspapers, remnants of food, bedclothes thrown in a heap--there is
nothing more desolate, more inexpressibly forlorn.

They went down to an empty room on the ground floor, misnamed the
“children’s playroom.” The pale women were unmarried or childless.
Julie moved continually from one window to another; when she saw Father
Cabello and Floyd coming up the walk, she shrank into a corner, a
terrified hunted thing.

Father Cabello found Floyd very quiet; whatever may have been his
feelings, he had them under perfect control. He answered the priest’s
questions in as few words as possible, and listened without comment to
his sophistical justification of Julie.

“Perhaps your wife was not all to blame.”

“Perhaps not.”

“You know Julie’s nature--she is easily influenced.”

“Yes, I know.”

“The man must have persecuted her.”

“Perhaps he did.”

“I don’t wish to blame _you_, but knowing what has happened and the
desperate character of the man, was it right to let your wife travel
alone?”

“Perhaps it was not right. But it didn’t occur to me.”

When they entered the room, Floyd stood quietly at the door. The priest
went to Julie and took her hand.

“Julie, you must ask your husband to forgive you.”

The answer came again:

“I will not. I belong to Martin; I will never leave him!”

The priest’s wrath was terrible. He stormed, threatened, pleaded--she
must go with her husband; there must be no scandal. She must go home to
her child.

Floyd was white to the lips--Mary couldn’t bear it. She rushed out of
the room....

The pastor came up the terrace; Father Cabello went out to meet him and
brought him in. He spoke quietly, with deep feeling.

“The guides who were seeking Martin Steele have come down from the
mountain.”

“Have they found him?”

“Yes. He is dead.”

There was a silence. It was Floyd this time who cried with a rush of
repentant agony:

“Martin! I killed him! I am a murderer!”

“No! he himself was responsible. He met the fate of the rash. A man
must know the precipices and how to avoid them before he tries to
climb.”

Again came the cry from Floyd:

“I shot to kill! I shot to kill!”

“The guides followed his traces up the mountain; there were signs
that told a human thing had passed. He must have gone over at the
first plateau. They went down as far as they dared. There were broken
branches; the violence of the fall tore up a young tree with its roots.
Come with me, I will show you where he struck the trail. There was
madness upon him, his senses wandered, the inevitable happened.”

They stood in the quiet woods and looked up at the wall of stone where
Martin had said, “I will climb that mountain.”

The pastor put his arm around Floyd.

“My son, you have been through more than your share of trouble; don’t
burden yourself with morbid self accusations. He was your friend; he
betrayed you. He made the only reparation--death. Try to think kindly
of him. Under natural conditions he would have been a brave son of the
soil. He was robbed of his birthright....”

Julie shed no tears. The old fear was upon her; the Punishment had come
again in the shape of Death, and _he_ had paid. The priest worked upon
this superstitious dread; it was the only way to subdue her. “God had
punished her for her crime against her husband. He would punish her
further; she must go home, she must go back to her religion, God had
struck Martin with the whip of retribution. He would bring it down upon
her shoulders if she did not repent. A great calamity would happen to
her child.”

She was cowed, humble, on her knees before him begging for mercy. He
confessed her, and gave her absolution.

Mr. and Mrs. Garrison left by the afternoon train; they were a pitiable
sight, these two unhappy children wondering why the world was so dark,
the pain so hard to bear. The priest spoke the last words.

“My children, you are going home. You will be happy again, if you do
not nourish your misfortune. God has given us the magic of memory, and
a still greater blessing, the gift of forgetting.”

They bowed their heads to his blessing. The train left the station,
wending its way in and out of the tunnels.

“When I watch those undulations,” said the pastor to Father Cabello, “I
think of a serpent crawling into the great centers of vice, carrying
with him the modern Adams, the curious Eves, who will eat copiously of
the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.”

The priest smiled. The simile appealed to his mind trained in Biblical
metaphors.

“I have no fears for our young couple; the New World moulds its people.
The practical life of which they are an integral part will make their
road clear to them. I have lived long in America. It is a land of
proof, not belief; of practical results and a kind of idealism which
is expressed in action. There is no time for dreams; inspiration feeds
only on quick realization. A land of no secrets, where publicity
methods are applied alike to business, science, literature, religion.
That which cannot be exploited is called ‘high-brow’--but there is a
saving humor in it all. America is a great country.”

The pastor answered with just a touch of good-natured satire.

“If there are no secrets, how is it that the Church has prospered
there?”

The priest smiled enigmatically.

“The Church adapts itself....

“I am going back to Rome, with a mind at rest. We have held together
the thread of two lives which threatened to snap, nay, three lives:
there is a boy whose career must be watched closely. Other forces are
at work--race impulses; they must be eradicated.”

“Is that possible?”

“Yes, but difficult. I shall bring the boy to Rome; there, all other
influences will be neutralized.”

The pastor offered his hospitality for the night, which was gratefully
accepted. It had been a turbulent time ending happily. The priest was
in a frame of mind harmonizing with the beauty of approaching twilight.
They sat outside the châlet. The pastor filled long glasses with the
wine of the Canton, which expands the Soul. They sat there, looking
into the Val Sinestra, until the sun scattered rubies and the moon
threw down a silver veil.

They talked of the future of religion and the wave of unbelief sweeping
over the world.

“When I meet a man like you,” said the priest, “I regret the loss to
the Church. Protestantism was at best a frail child; it cannot survive
without support. Why should it not come back? We would kill the fatted
calf to celebrate the return of our Prodigal Son.”

The pastor saved the situation with a fine sense of humor.

“My friend, we are not father and son: we are brothers, prodigal
children of the great original God of the Hebrews.”

The priest’s eyes gleamed.

“Then why not a family reunion? It has been my life’s dream--all sects
united in the spacious bosom of the true Faith.”

The pastor nodded in silent approval. Then Luther would come into
his own. At this same moment, far away in the East, the muezzin was
chanting from the minarets, calling the people to prayer. “There is
but one God, and Mohammed is his Prophet,” and at this same time,
millions of humans, prostrate before Buddha, were praying to attain the
perfection of the Soul--Nirvana; and the “chosen people” once again
in Jerusalem were praising the “only” God, who had led them out of
exile into the land of their fathers. The priest and the pastor would
soon solve their problem--they were both approaching with silent rapid
steps, the solution of the Great Mystery.

The next morning Father Cabello thanked the pastor again for his good
offices. He was a practical man, and in the light of day, dreams
evaporate. He did not speak of buying the chapel; he wanted to go in
peace.


27

Angela sat at the wheel, her quick skilful fingers spinning the yellow
thread. The girl, with her unerring instinct of the unseen, felt the
air weighing heavily. The atmosphere of the house was charged with
sadness; unhappy spirits had passed through, leaving something of their
sorrow, their passions. The anguish of Floyd still lingering in her
little room kept her awake at night. The dead man was always before
her--his uneven gait, the passionate face, the glittering eyes. A great
longing went out from her to that rebellious soul, beating so long
against bars, a prisoner in his own body....

The pastor had gone over to the hotel for Martin’s one valise and the
little deerskin box. He spoke to the woman of the house; she remembered
her father telling of a Staehli who went “across seas” and never came
back. The crooked gardener, shuffling about, chimed in.

“Yes, I knew Martin Staehli. He had a quarrel with a guide about a
woman, and shot him dead. He was hot blooded.”

“The man lost on the mountain was his grandson,” said the pastor.

“Strange things happen in a lifetime,” mumbled the gardener. “Now who
would believe, to look at me, that I was once the champion wrestler of
the village!”...

The next morning at sunrise the pastor knocked at Angela’s door.

“Angela, we are going ‘up there’ today.”

During the summer, when they were pasturing the cattle, she and the
pastor spent many a happy time with the peasant boys and girls who had
gone up in June, clinging gradually from one plateau to another until
they reached the top, where they would stay until the weather drove
them down.

Angela sprang joyfully out of bed and went to fetch her basket; on
the way up she would look for herbs. It was wonderful how she spied
the rare plants hid away under the rocks and at the bottom of brooks.
They went slowly, at first, Angela timing her steps to the pastor’s,
who grasped his stick, gaining strength as he climbed. Not far behind,
a guide followed, carrying the belongings of the unfortunate man. In
Switzerland every waterfall, river, flower, bush, and tree has its
legendary Spirit. Miracle stories come down by word of mouth. The old
grandmother sitting outside the châlet at night, a pipe between her
toothless gums, her needle running a race with her tongue, tells the
children of the wonders of the mountains:

“In the old days, when a mountaineer had been lost on the heights, the
peasants would go from peak to peak calling his name. Where the echo
repeated they stopped, and would throw down articles of clothing and
a large cheese from the milk of the missing man’s herd, to keep his
spirit from cold and starvation. They tell of a peasant who was lost.
They let down his dog on a rope. The faithful animal, whining in low
dog tones, eagerly scented the way. When they drew up the rope it was
bitten through. The dog had found the body of his master and would not
leave him. Whenever there is a thick mist the peasant is seen, his dog
beside him, on the edge of the chasm, pointing with a warning finger to
the precipice.”...

The merry band of dairy workers welcomed the pastor with shrill cries
and clarion notes from Alpine horns. It was a modest community; each
one owned his little herd. There were many huts, where the milk is set
in earthen bowls, yielding cream, butter, cheese, their only wealth.
The pastor drew a herdsman aside and spoke to him in low tones. A
stillness fell on the merry band. The man led them across the field
to a deep pool fed by mountain torrents; at a narrow end was a rough
rustic bridge, which they crossed in single file, and came into a thick
pine grove. Farther on, the clearing was carpeted with roses, anemones,
violets. They walked carefully, not to crush them; then they climbed up
a steep rock to a cow-hut on the top.

Angela gave a low cry. A man lay on a bed of hay, his arm in a rough
splinter, his face the wax of death. She dropped down beside him,
listened to his heart, tried to raise his closed lids.

“He is dead.”

“I think not,” answered the peasant. “I have seen many such cases of
suspended animation, from the shock of a heavy fall.”

Then he told them how Martin had been saved from going to the bottom of
the precipice by being caught in a crevice of the rocks. He was found
tightly wedged in, covered by the stones that had rolled down. The dog
had scented the place where he lay. It would be a miracle if he lived.

The pastor patted the head of the animal, who would now and again put
his paw very gently on the man’s chest, as if seeking for heart-beats.
Then he’d lick the white face, wag his tail, and stretch himself out
again.

“I won’t give up hope,” said the pastor, “until the dog howls and
slinks away.”

Angela was moving about. She made a wood fire on the rock outside,
filled a large iron pot with water, and stirred in her herbs with which
she would bathe his bruised body. They emitted a pungent, agreeable
perfume. The pastor watched her as she stood, a bright figure against
the dark pine background: “a blessed child.”

Angela passed the night in a hut with the dairy maids. She was
intensely awake, concentrating her entire spiritual power. She ceased
to be a human thing; she became a Thought, a disembodied Will. She
arose from the bed where the peasant girls were sleeping, three
together, their arms entwined, their hair sweeping the ground, their
white arms and bosoms like ivory in the night light--a great picture
of future mothers, bearing in their bodies the next generation. She
stepped out into the air, listened to the walking of the waters,
the talking of the trees; she heard panting. Something warm pressed
against her. The dog jumped on her, whining. What was the message? Was
it death? She followed the excited animal over the stones, over the
pool, into the hut. The man was lying as she had left him, but there
was something in his face that made her heart leap. She took the limp
form in her arms. The breath of her young body, the life that was in
the sap of the trees, the minerals of the springs, the healing balsam
of the air, all the natural force in her, and more, the dynamic power
of the spirit, went out to him. Her hands, tingling with electricity,
moved tensely over his chest, his limbs; the dog watched, helping with
his mute soul. Suddenly the curtains over the heavy eyes quivered,
opened, then dropped again; her fingers on his pulse felt slow
intermittent throbs. She had dragged him from the depths--he hovered
for weeks between Life and the Beyond, coming back slowly, but the mind
remained inert. The summer was unusually mild; they put him outside
on a soft bed of boughs, where he lay day and night in silence with
the dog beside him, his eyes following Angela as she moved about. She
taught him to walk again, guiding his steps carefully.

The pastor came weekly to see him, spoke to him, but he didn’t answer.
Angela grew anxious.

“Does he think?”

“I believe not,” said the pastor. “It is a kind of aphasia, which time
will cure.”

Angela wondered if he could distinguish sounds--the chirping of the
birds, the bark of the dog, the music of the herd. The peasants would
tell in lowered voices of a shadow of a man standing under the pines,
so still, the chamois would come closer, closer, looking at him with
their soft, beseeching eyes; then they’d scamper away....

August!--It was bleak. The man sat on the trunk of a tree; he was
without the thrill of life.

The pastor spoke to him.

“Do you want anything?”

“No.”

“Do you know me?”

A flash passed over the face.

“Yes.”

The pastor’s voice grew stern.

“You will go down tomorrow with the herdsmen. You are the peasant
Staehli: they are your people; you are one of them. You have been all
your life in exile; now you are on your natural soil. The voice of race
will awaken in you--you will find yourself.”

The man listened, agonized with the intensity of concentration; the
words cut like sharp stones into him.

“You understand, you are the peasant Staehli.”

The answer came back mechanically:

“I am the peasant Staehli.”

The next day, Staehli the peasant went down with the herds from plateau
to plateau, lingering while the weather favored. Late in the summer
they reached the valley.


28

Winter in that little hidden-away corner of the world, snow without
beginning, without end, scarcity of food, dread of the avalanche. The
peasant is a fatalist, accepting the inevitable with silence, with awe.
“God is good; He sends summer as a rich reward.”

The pastor shared the hard lot of his parish. The Devil was always
there in the shape of “schnaaps,” driving the simple souls to madness,
making cretins of their children. The pastor fought the “Evil One” with
holy ire like his great ancestor Martin Luther. Every night he would
take his lantern and tramp over to the Inn, sit with “his children,”
drink with them moderately, see the liquor locked up, put the key
in his pocket, and go his way. Many a morning he found the cupboard
tampered with, pretending not to see the lock had been repaired. Now
Martin went with him, sitting silent, answering laconically.

The pastor gave him much physical labor--washed out roads to remake,
wood to cut and draw. There was a landslide; a part of the village was
under snow. Martin worked with pick and shovel to dig out the people,
carrying the women and children in his arms, his strength growing as
the hardiest collapsed. When it was too cold for the old man, Martin
went alone to the Inn to lock up.

One night, walking home, the sky like velvet studded with clustered
diamonds, the mysterious blue light on the snow, the silence, the
penetrating beauty, threw a spell over him. He wandered till the unseen
sun shot up faint rays, turning the white world into faded rose; then
memory stirred in him. Angela saw him tracing with a piece of charcoal
on a board. She put slips of paper and pencil in his way; he scribbled
on them, threw them down, forgot them. They were confused lines
crossing, recrossing, impressionist shapes of mountains, and always
the faint outlines of a woman’s head. She put them carefully in a box
he would remember some day. She saw quick flashes in his eyes, sparks
blazing up, dying out.

He sat outside the châlet, hammering nails into the soles of the
mountain boots he had made for himself. The Staehlis had always learnt
a trade--they were shoemakers, tanners, blacksmiths, herders, sons of
toil and of the soil. The pastor stood watching him.

“The snow has melted in the valley, the sky is clear. We will wander
forth--to the south first, and back on foot when the trees blossom.”

They started off in the early morning. An old peasant, leaning somewhat
heavily on his solid staff of hickory wood, a young peasant, silent,
unsmiling. Angela put paper and crayon in his knapsack.

“Bring me pictures; they tell more than words.”

       *       *       *       *       *

They tramped through valleys, over hills, jumping on hay-wagons,
climbing into stage-coaches, riding the sure-footed mountain pony. The
pastor watched Martin. There were blood streaks in his eyes; his face
was like a wax mask.

They came to lovely Lugano, the Fatima in Switzerland’s harem of
beauties, warm, passionate--the soft Italian patois, Italian air,
Italian skies.

“Over there across the lake is Milan, Rome, the Raphael frescoes.”

Martin’s eyes gleamed; then he shook his head. The pastor sighed--would
he ever wake up?

Geneva--intellectual, proud of its men of genius. They walked through
Rousseau’s Island of Exile.

“He was greatly gifted,” said the pastor, “but the victim of his own
sensuality.”

“We are all that,” said Martin. Then the veil of melancholy dropped
again.

“When we are conscious of it, the cure is there. Rousseau was the mind
of his generation; he might have been its soul, but he never found
himself.”

Einsiedeln--with its monasteries a thousand years old, its few sad
Benedictine hermits poring over their ancient manuscripts, restoring
the eaten-away remnants, kept with pious reverence hidden in old
chests. Einsiedeln--its pilgrims, its Life Eternal, hypnotized, under
the spell of religion.

Arosa--the bleak mountains, the hopeless sick wrapped in blankets on
open balconies. Martin shivered.

“Let us go.”

Zurich again, with its historical surroundings. The pastor told the
story of Charlemagne who, finding a toad sitting in the nest of a
beautiful serpent, drove it out and killed it with one blow of his
heavy stick. “There was a banquet at the Palace that night; the guards
were terrified at the sight of a white spotted snake who crawled into
the hall, wound herself up on the legs of a chair, and dropped a
priceless jewel into the goblet of wine which the monarch held to his
lips, giving him the magic gift of compelling the love of all who set
eyes on him.”

“A toad in her nest,” repeated Martin....

Two months in the cities, then the country beautiful--the trees heavy
with white blossoms, bearing embryonic fruit. Toward evening the air
grew heavy with the day’s perfume; the night was warm in the valley.
Martin moved about restlessly.

“I cannot sleep; let us go into the woods.”

They walked through dark trails, lit faintly by stars shining through
the trees; then he broke a long silence, speaking of himself for the
first time, slowly, timidly.

“The air goes through me; it is sweeping away that terrible fear. If I
could be free of the horror that tears at me, the horror of--madness.”

The pastor spoke eagerly.

“Fight it, Martin, drive it out. It is an illusion, an evil thought
that does not exist. Martin, your soul is in prison, beating its wings
against the bars of your own obstinacy; let it soar.”

“I cannot. I am choked with wild impulses, driving me to distraction. I
am mad! I tell you, mad!”

“Martin! there is a madness which destroys, and a madness that reveals;
such madness has been the salvation of the world. Come, sit down with
me, here in this forest, where once lived and suffered our great
ancestor, our patron Saint, Mad Martin.”

“Mad Martin?”

Then he told in picturesque English, lapsing unconsciously into his own
musical Romansch, the legend of Mad Martin.

“He was one of a lawless band, the youngest bandit of them all--a
beautiful youth with the grace of a wild stag, without fear or sense of
right, prowling about with his carbine, robbing, killing, consorting
with lewd women. One night, a night like this in the woods where
holiness dwelt, something stirred within him--a voice clear, beautiful,
said wonderful things which gave his soul wings.”

“Yes! that happens sometimes, a voice from within,” said Martin.

“He left the band, made his way to the church and begged to be taken
in. He was rarely gifted; the monks saw in him the white fervor of the
saint. The Lord had changed the murderous rage of the robber into the
divine madness of the fanatic. He went to Einsiedeln and there, it
was said, heard the voice of God, who commanded him to become a monk.
As the story goes, the Lord, to try his piety, put in his way a last
temptation. He was walking in the woods, reading his prayers, when he
suddenly came upon a beautiful vicious thing who had loved him in his
bandit days; she put her arms around him, her mouth to his. He forgot
Heaven. He tried to tear himself away. Her kisses held him. She lured
him to her cabin and in the intoxication of passion, he took no count
of time.”

“Her kisses held him,” repeated Martin.

“She made a plan that would bind him to her forever; she plied him
with wine until his senses fled, stripped him naked, crowned him with
a wreath of red poppies, left him dancing and singing ribald songs, a
young Bacchus in the woods; then she called the priests to witness his
degradation. They believed her not; the young Divine was deep in the
under cells, fasting, praying, purifying his body, preparing for his
ordination. She mocked at them.

“‘Fools! He is no priest, he is Mad Martin. He cannot change; his blood
still riots in him, calling for wine, for women. If I lie, burn me at
the stake!’

“Mad Martin in the woods heard the angry voices of the people, the
mocking gibes of the woman, and realized his degradation. He fled to
the cabin, locked himself in, fell on his knees, and prayed for help.
The chanting of priests, the cries of the people grew louder--their
axes were breaking down the door. The poor sinner raised his arms to
Heaven, with a cry, in which his battered, stricken soul took joyful
flight. When the enraged people burst into the cabin, they found it
empty. They searched the cells of the monastery; there was no trace of
him. The Father Superior, a holy man of years, was calm.

“‘Wait, he will not fail us.’

“The day of consecration came; among the young priests stood a tall
figure in white, ready to take his vows. He was pale and faint from
fasting, but his voice was like a bell sounding from the distance. As
he left the altar there was a bright light on his face. The people
followed him on their knees. He put out his hands, blessed them, and
the cripples threw away their crutches and the sick were well. Then he
blessed Einsiedeln and made it a holy place for pilgrims in the ages
to come. He blessed the village under the mountain, where he was born,
sinned, and atoned, and prophesied its future peace, prosperity. Then
he disappeared before their eyes, but he has been kept alive in our
hearts and memory. Every three years, the people of our village give in
the little chapel ‘The Miracle of Saint Martin.’”

There was a long silence. Martin sat, his face buried in his hands. The
pastor spoke again.

“Martin! Free yourself of this horror; let Hope in. Life is knocking at
your door with gifts of fulfillment!”

Martin struggled with the torrent of feeling rushing through him; then
the dry eyes grew moist, the tears came. The fever of hate, the passion
of Love, the terrible impulse of self destruction, a devil tempting
in the night, the thought of life with reason gone--all the dangers
of an overwrought mind were washed away in those tears. He dropped
down, broken, helpless, on the new sweet hay in a little hut near by;
the cool air swept over him. A bird’s plaintive call startled the
silence--an unforgettable night of spiritual revelation, Peace....

It was dawn when he awoke. He looked about for the Pastor, found him
lying in a corner, his mantle wrapped about him. Martin looked long at
the noble snow-crowned head, then stole softly out, came upon a clear
pool hidden in the trees--we meet them unexpectedly in Switzerland,
startling us with their limpid loveliness.

There was a flash of Glory!--the Sun! He felt a sense of elation, of
new birth. The sky turned purple, pink, gold; the color ecstasy crept
into his blood. Color! the life of the world! Color clamored in his
brain for expression, for air; he was obsessed with the madness that
reveals, the divine madness of the artist.

The pastor stood beside him. The sun was climbing. Martin pointed to a
ball of fire down deep in the lake.

“I’m going to bring it up,” he said. He slipped off his clothes and
dived in, floating, twisting himself like a dolphin, spouting water in
the air; then he ran along the green borders, his body gleaming in the
sun. The pastor thought of the legend of the Water Gods.

They went slowly on foot toward home, stopping at the little Dorfs,
where the peasants greeted them with acclamations. “A fine lad! a
Staehli, every inch of him.” Martin returned their gripping handshakes,
tossed down their schnaaps, gave them points on the disinfection of
barns and the care of cows, danced with the maids on the green, kissed
them; they pelted him with flowers.

At the door of the châlet, Angela stood waiting. He put a portfolio
in her hands, bits of color he had caught on the way. Her eyes were
fixed on his face. This was not the Martin she had known: it was like
the same face reflected in clear water, etherealized by the refraction
of light. She heard him in the fields, his strong voice filling
the distance with melody. She looked up at the great mountain. An
unfortunate man called Martin Steele lay there, dead.


29

The Garrisons came back to their home on Park Avenue. With Mary’s
help and his own will, Floyd learnt to diagnose Julie’s actions as
“psychic impulses.” She herself couldn’t do wrong; she fought against
a “subconscious tendency.” From her girlhood it had always been “like
that”; this was the bridge over which he could pass to reconciliation.
He had every reason to be satisfied with his wife. She was in
correspondence with Father Cabello, whose influence revealed itself in
her piety. She became very devout, Heavenly love drove out the earthly
in her. She attended daily mass; the big-eyed woman with her beautiful
boy were well-known at the Cathedral. Floyd noticed after coming
home from service a rapt expression on her face; she went about with
upturned eyes like St. Cecilia. He had a vision of a black-robed nun.
He spoke to Dr. McClaren.

“I am afraid my wife is developing a religious complex.”

“I think not,” answered the doctor. “I imagine before it gets so far,
that insatiable emotional craving of hers will find a new stimulus.”

There was something wrong with Floyd. His intense desire to forget
the “unpleasant” episode in Switzerland had overstrained his nerves.
They reacted in a strange manner. He’d leave his home in the morning
with the intention of going to see the Colonel, and would find himself
wandering aimlessly in quite a different direction. He’d walk for hours
through parts of the city unknown to him; he saw strange faces, strange
places, another world. He lounged about where the ships came in. The
immigrants had an irresistible fascination. He watched them, listened
to their unintelligible jargon. A dark-eyed Madonna with a shawl on her
head, a child at her breast, was not strange to him. He knew her: she
was Julie’s sister. A bearded old man, carrying on his bent shoulders
the tragedy of his race, looked at him with the eyes of Joseph
Abravanel. A straight tall peasant with bundles, bewildered by the
city, was Martin’s grandfather. It was a kind of mental phantasmagoria
of those who had worked a sinister influence in his life. He couldn’t
get rid of them; he saw their Past, their Present, their Future, the
struggles, the agony, the hopelessness. He was flung backward, forward
with them. Must he go on living with them all his life? A horror seized
him.

“Taxi, sir, take you anywhere--”

A tall chauffeur with dark goggles took him by the arm and lifted him
into the cab.

“Where to, sir?”

Floyd bent forward, he knew that voice.

“Tom Dillon!”

“Mr. Garrison. You won’t say anything.”

Floyd grasped his hand with quick sympathy and drew him into the car.
Tom choked at first, but gradually recovering himself, told his story.

“I married Maudy, because I couldn’t get her any other way. Oh, she
was a kisser. She’d go as far as the fence, but she wouldn’t jump it.
We were coming home from a dance up the road. I tried it on. ‘Tom,’
she said, ‘if you want me, you’ll have to marry me.’ I married her. I
didn’t take it seriously. I thought this way: It’s as broad as it’s
long. When I get enough, there’s Reno. She flung the dough like Hell;
I couldn’t see any value for it, only a heap of rags. Anyhow, a man can
get liquor and women--”

“Yes, I know.”

Tom shifted uneasily in his seat.

“When you don’t earn, money melts. My credit kept me going for a time.
Then I had to tell her. I was sure she’d leave me. I’m only good to
hand out. She told me that lots of times.”

“She left you?”

Tom’s eyes snapped; he was radiant with pride.

“She didn’t. She had an auction sale. All her friends were there; they
wouldn’t miss it. She sold everything, even her engagement ring, and
paid every cent I owed. By God! she did.” There was a choked sob. “I
had to do something to get even, didn’t I?”

“Yes, Tom.” Floyd was beginning to respect him.

“I went to my friends, but they wanted solid men in their business, and
I couldn’t blame ’em. I walked about like a crazy man, couldn’t get a
job. She kept enough to furnish a band-box in the Bronx. She does all
the work. You must see her. She’s as pretty as a peach, and the place
is as neat as wax.”

“But how did you come to this, Tom?”

“She sent me to sell the car; that hurt me. I went and sat around the
garage with the boys. I was down and out; they had money to burn.
They said, ‘Sell? nothing doing--a car like yours is capital.’ Well, I
didn’t sell; I commenced going out nights. I was ashamed to be seen,
but I got over that. Then I risked it in the daytime; now I flaunt my
shame. I tell you! it’s a rotten world--when I had money it was a stunt
to do my own repairs. When I took the crowd out joy riding, I was a
good sport, but to ‘hack’ for a living is common. I’m done with that
swell bunch. Maudy says they’re beneath us.”

Then he sat looking at Floyd, his eyes begging.

“Tom, you’ve solved your problem, I’m proud of you.”

Tom heaved a sigh of relief and got back to business.

“Now I suppose you want to get home.”

“I don’t know,” said Floyd, wearily.

Tom gave him a sharp look.

“What are you doing down here anyhow, seeing some capitalist off?”

“No, watching poor wretches come in. I’ve been through a lot, and I
haven’t quite got my bearings.”

Tom asked no questions, but he told Maudy afterwards he was sure
Garrison “had some trouble with that crazy wife of his.”

“You’d better come outside with me and get some fresh air--you don’t
mind me taking a fare if it comes my way. I’ve got another car;
there’s a guy in with me. I dope it out this way: he gets twenty-five
per cent of the takings, I get the rest and pay for the damn gas. The
car’s on instalment; when we pay it off we’ll go it equal. Fair enough,
isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is.”

Tom had coarsened; the veneer of wealth was gone. Floyd liked him that
way.

“You’ve grown stouter, Tom; you’re the picture of health.”

Tom, slapping his chest complacently, came in collision with an
enormous truck. He let out a stream of oaths, which paralyzed the
physically inferior opponent. The poor devil cranked frantically and
got out of his way.

“It was your fault, Tom, not his.”

“Of course it was, but that alien wouldn’t dare open his mouth to a
free-born American. If he tried it on, they’d wipe him out.”

Tom spoke with a rich Irish inherited brogue, which all his college
education hadn’t eradicated.

“We were talking about me, weren’t we?”

“Yes.”

“I’ve gained thirty pounds, I eat like a hog, and I’m for Prohibition
every time. At first I worried myself to bones about Maudy. I was
afraid to tell her I was hacking. Her family’s a hundred per cent
American and she’s damn proud. When I brought home money she wouldn’t
take it--‘You’re on the crook, Tom, and I’m going to leave you.’ Then
I blurted it all out. I was frightened stiff--what do you think she
did?”

“Haven’t any idea, Tom--abused you roundly for a piker?”

“Na--she just hugged me till I didn’t have a breath left. ‘Tom,’ she
said, ‘I’ve cried many a long night. I couldn’t see _you_ making a
living. God is good; He wouldn’t let me go begging to my rich friends.
Hacking’s a fine business, but there’s something against it--those
flappers. Don’t take ’em in your car; sooner lose a fare. You’re good
looking and they’ll get you.’”

Floyd laughed. Tom was the right medicine for him.

They were driving uptown--Tom’s tongue went faster than the car; he had
acquired a lot of practical information. “They’re starring the crime
wave now, all bunk--we’re no worse than we were. Wait till after the
election, the prisons will be so empty they’ll have to turn ’em into
meeting houses. What do you think of them stinking Republicans up in
Washington?”

“Tom, don’t insult my inherited political party. I’ve had them handed
down to me, and I must carry them.”

Tom opened his mouth, the brimstone flowed, the air was blue; then
suddenly he was dazzled by two shapely legs encased in flesh-colored
cobwebs, and a pair of bright eyes emitting sparks.

“Taxi, Miss?” He drew up to the curbstone, smiling at her, showing his
white teeth, sprang out, opened the door, dusted off the seat, held the
rug in his hand.

She was undecided. “I don’t want to go, yet....”

“Yes you do, but you don’t know it,” laughed Tom.

A gust of cold wind blew her against him. Tom glanced downward.

“Your legs are cold?”

“Oh! Warm as toast.”

“Your blood keeps them warm.”

She twisted her little mouth.

“No, my vanity.”

Clever girl. Tom lifted her bodily into the car; they were old friends
now. He wrapped her in the warm rug and put a match to her cigarette.

“Who’s the melancholy Dane in front?”

“Oh! He’s a guy I’m breaking in.”

They drove to Madison Avenue. She jumped out and gave him a generous
fare.

“I want to go out again tonight; call for me?”

He smiled into the pretty laughing eyes. “Awful sorry, Miss, but
there’s nothing doing. I’m married.” He heaved a big sigh.

“She was nice--wasn’t she.”

Floyd slapped him on the back. “You’re a hero, Tom. It was a great
temptation.” Tom beamed.

“They’ve taken it into their pretty heads to star the chauffeur. We’re
the cowboys of the East. We drive and slash about, and lasso them in.
Say, I’m afraid I’m going to lose my man--handsome lad, good family.
There’s a little snipe baiting for him, and she’ll hook him too.”

At the garage he found a note.

  Married this morning to Ida, family approve.

Tom’s sorrow was pathetic. “They’re rich brokers. They’ll put him on
the street. He’ll never be able to earn an honest penny again. Where
shall I find another like him? The girls fell for him every time. He
was a handsome fish. You’ve got nothing to do; help me out just for
today. You can run a car. It doesn’t need so much experience, and I
can’t afford to let her stand idle.”

“I haven’t got the experience, Tom, but I can hand you the good looks,”
said Floyd, modestly.

Tom was jubilant; he’d have to keep his mind on the wheel--and a few
knocks would shake him up.

“Now I’ll give you the fruits of my experience. Before you turn
a corner, blow the horn, then stop and listen. Don’t try to pass
anything; let the other fellow smash you up--then you’ll get damages.
The wise guy says, ‘we’ve got a third eye in the back of our heads.’
Exercise yours; it’ll work after a while. When an old woman or a
cat gets in front, don’t run her down, jump off and put her on the
sidewalk. Train your ears to hear the pistol in a man’s pocket. Keep
your foot on the brake and a curb on your temper; a timely joke can
make it a dollar more. You’ll get into tough places, so does a doctor.
Your fare is your patient; save his life if you can. When it comes
to a toss up, you know who gets the preference. Never argue with a
crook; take whatever he gives. If it’s nothing, say thank you and get
away. Don’t let pretty feet lead you astray. A man’s strength depends
on his disposition, and the time of night. If you fall for it, forget
it. Do what you can’t help, but--whatever you do, don’t get found
out. It’s all contradiction; you do something now and you don’t do it
the next time. If the same thing happens twice, it’s never the same
thing. You’ve got to be not only a good chauffeur but a good actor, a
good talker, a good curser, a good fighter, a good navigator, a good
all-around regular feller, and then you don’t half fill the bill. Now
scoot.”

“Yes sir,” said Floyd, and plunged into the depths of the night city.

His first venture in the taxi business was a personal success.

“Taxi, sir, taxi, Miss, take you anywhere--where to, Miss?” The women
jumped in at once; he picked up two, going to the theatre. Would he
call for them at eleven-thirty?

“With great pleasure,” answered Floyd. He helped them out, and stood
with his hat in his hand. He forgot he was a chauffeur for a moment.
Then he drove people uptown, downtown, all over town, guiding his car
in and out of the great mass of congested traffic.

A young fellow rushed at him. “Drive for your life, my wife is dying.”

It was up in the Bronx. Floyd put on the speed. He got away from two
policemen and landed at a brick house with the blinds lowered. The man
dashed up the steps.

“Is she alive? Thank God!”

He threw Floyd a bill.

“You did well, my man, keep the change.”

Floyd felt like a public benefactor. Hacking was a noble profession.

He was hailed by two men who jumped in. He didn’t like them. He heard
the pistol; looked into the butt of it. They gave him a street number
outside the city limits.

“Drive like Hell!” He did. The men jumped out into a vacant lot. “Now
cut away, and don’t squeal.”

Floyd said “Thank you,” and shot across the town. He was held up and
questioned. No, he hadn’t seen anybody. He had no compunctions. He
wouldn’t give the guys away; that wasn’t sport. Then he took the car
back to the garage, and went home in the subway. He had thirty dollars.
He put fifteen in an envelope, addressed it to Tom, and wrote on a slip
of paper:

  Dear Tom: Here is half the boodle. It was a great experience. Ready
  to help out at any time.

Tom got back early to the garage, washed his khaki suit, hung it up
to dry, cleaned his car, looked over the motor. He waited for Floyd,
but he didn’t show up; he was sure the car would come back damaged.
He expected that, but he hoped Garrison wouldn’t get hurt. Then he
grew impatient. It didn’t matter to ‘_that guy_’ how long he stayed
out--_his_ wife wasn’t waiting for him. He said good night to the man
in the garage, told him to look out for a ‘green-hand,’ and showed him
where the bandages were. Then for a bit of exercise he walked up to the
Bronx, taking a drink now and then to ease his mind. It was two o’clock
when he opened the door of the little flat. The kitchen was spotless,
the blue and white oilcloth shone like marble tiles. There was a tray
on the table, with cold corned beef and three large baked potatoes; the
coffee was gurgling on the gas stove. He devoured everything in sight,
washed up the dishes, then went into the next room and stood at the
bed. Maudy was in a deep sleep, how pretty she was. She must have been
very tired or she would have heard him come in. She’d been scrubbing
that damn kitchen floor again. She couldn’t wait till Sunday morning;
that was his job. He looked at her small hands. They were rough from
the washing soda, and the nails were not manicured. He had to kiss
them, he couldn’t help it. She opened her eyes, smelt the hootch.

“Tom, you’re going it; you’ll break your neck one night, and I’ll be a
widow--take a bath.” The sleepy eyes closed, she dropped off again.

Tom put a roll of bills under her pillow, slipped out of his clothes
and fell on the sofa. He didn’t take a bath, he’d gotten over that
pastime; he had something better to do.


30

Floyd woke up the next morning, his head aching, his limbs weary. The
experience had battered his body, but shook up his mind. His share of
the “boodle” lay on the table--three five-dollar bills. He examined
them curiously, turning them over and over--the first money he had ever
earned. Was it money? No--he threw away much more than that paltry sum
every day. But this was different; he had worked for it with the “sweat
of his brow.” He felt the pressure of the masses, who were earning
their bread. This meant money to them. He remembered how the Colonel
looked at him, when he told him to sell something--they were needing
more and more. “You’re destroying capital,” said the Colonel. “You
should preserve it, it’s your only source of income.”

Capital! capital! He wondered if they had blown in all his father had
left--blown in, where?--into the air like soap bubbles, which glittered
for a moment in the sun, then burst and disappeared.

He put his hand to his head. Where could he go to pass the morning?
Julie was not visible until twelve. She was lucky; the day was only
half as long for her. Then that queer feeling came again; he went to
see Dr. McClaren.

“How’s your wife?” said the doctor.

“Very well, as far as I can see. I want to speak to you about
myself--my mind wanders--I cannot concentrate, nothing interests me; I
go back always to the past; the things I have lived through haunt me.”

“You are trying too hard to forget.”

“I don’t understand.”

“No, you don’t. If we wipe out memory, we throw into the dust heap of
oblivion the best part of our life, experience.”

“But if that experience is unbearable?”

“We can make it bearable. We must work it the right way.”

“But I cannot see how! Father Cabello spoke about the ‘gift of
forgetting.’”

The doctor smiled. “I am not for such narcotics. We shouldn’t go about
hypnotizing ourselves. A man of mind should be able to deal with the
complications of his nature in an intelligent manner.”

This meant nothing to Floyd; the doctor was talking “over his head.”

“I’ll try to make it clearer to you. You have got yourself tangled up.
What you think so terrible one day will be precious to you in years to
come. How do you stand financially?”

“I don’t know, I’m not sure--badly, I think.”

The doctor knew; he had seen the Colonel.

“I want you to try to get rich.”

Floyd had a shock. He looked sharply at the doctor; there was no
glare in his eyes, but he was fingering a paper cutter--no, he wasn’t
mad--but he was a mind reader. Floyd had been thinking of money--in a
vague way, wondering that so many people whose names he had never heard
had bobbed up as millionaires.

“The pursuit of wealth may be sordid, but if we succeed, we are
compensated by a gratifying sense of self-confidence, authority, power,
not speaking of the good we can do with our ‘ill gotten’ gains. As
for the spiritual side being starved, well, we don’t think so; if we
concentrate on the world of the spirit, it will demoralize us in our
practical life, which is our end of it. We must uphold that, for the
sake of bankrupt Europe.”

“Doctor, I dreamt last night that I was enormously rich.”

“Good! make it a complex. It will drive more harmful ideas out of your
mind. Come and see me again. I am curious to know how my prescription’s
going to work....”

Floyd found the Colonel, erect, well satisfied; he had no complexes, he
wasn’t married.

“How do I stand?”

The Colonel hesitated.

“Come, out with it; I want the truth.”

“Well, you’ll have to practice strict economy to make up for your
enormous expenditure of the last few years. Do you want to sell your
house?”

“Economy? Sell the house? Julie!--impossible.”

“Nowadays a man can’t live on interest.”

Floyd snapped his fingers.

“Economy, bah! We’ll have to create new capital.” The Colonel opened
a drawer, took out a card of the Garrison estate, kept as a physician
does the history of a patient’s disease; then he placed a map on the
table. It was interlaced with red lines designating the shrinkage.
Floyd looked over it.

“The entire water-front is crossed off, I see.”

“Yes, the Martin Steele Corporation bought it for investment. By the
way, that was a great thing young Steele did.”

“What thing?”

“He left his entire business to his employees, equal shares, and the
money to keep it going. Waldbridge told me about it with tears in his
eyes, the other day, at the memorial service they gave for him.”

“Memorial service?”

“Didn’t you know? I saw Mrs. Garrison there, but she was gone before I
could get through the crowd.”

Julie there? She hadn’t told him. He thought he knew all her movements.

“It was wonderful; I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. They are
going to screen it. It was a queer mixed crowd--artists he had saved
from starvation, musicians he had sent abroad, women he had started
right--they all got up and told their stories. It was like a Christian
Science service. A man sang, a barber named Hippolyte, well-known on
Fifth Avenue, a wonderful voice. They say an opera manager has engaged
him. He sang psalms in Greek and Hebrew, wails in the minor key, just
tore at your entrails. He set them all crying. One poor cripple made a
scene; swore he saw the dead man’s spirit. Of course, that hypnotized
the others; they all saw it. There was a tall man in a corner--the
light struck him for a moment. I tell you, Garrison, I’ve got the hide
of a rhinoceros, but it made my flesh creep. Now there are two left of
those river shanties, we’ll pull them down and build one big office
building--”

Floyd didn’t hear him; he was in the church listening to the voice of
Hippolyte, the cries, the prayers for Martin--the philanthropist, the
good man. He forced himself to say something.

“I knew Martin Steele all my life, but had no idea of that side of him.”

“Nor I, but most men keep the best part of them hidden.”

“Yes,” said Floyd, tracing lines on the map. “I’ll go down with you and
look at those shanties. I want money and lots of it; every fool’s got
it. I can be as big a fool as the next one.”

The Colonel didn’t contradict him, but he doubted if Garrison would
ever be that kind of a fool.



BOOK III

Future--the hidden meanings of Past and Present, a dark picture.
Imagination flashes the light of Prophecy, foretells life’s realization
or disillusion, the Soul’s victory or defeat.

“Fiction, my Masters! All is Fiction!”



BOOK III


1

It took some years to become a “rich fool,” but Garrison accomplished
it. He had no business ability, at least that is what he told people,
and honestly believed it; how could he? he had never been in business.
He thought it well over, and became what he had always condemned in
others--a gambler. He risked every dollar he had, and all he could
borrow in hazardous real estate speculations. It was touch and go many
times, as the values rose and fell. They called him “Lucky Garrison”;
he knew better, but there was a grim satisfaction in his success. He
realized as he had learnt to manipulate money that a man can attain
nothing without it. Other “big” interests developed. Every bit of his
energy came into play; there was always some interesting thing coming
up, which led to great connections, such as international finance and
the like. New “deals” got to be a necessary physical tonic, like a
cocktail before dinner, and a strong cigar and black coffee after....

       *       *       *       *       *

He scanned the morning paper at the breakfast table, looking carefully
over the financial news and rate of exchange.

“We are sailing into prosperous times,” said he to Julie. He was an
optimist, like all good American millionaires. Julie had no opinion,
she smiled.

As Dr. McClaren predicted, her religious mania passed off--she was
now deeply interested in Art, a patroness of the Museum, and much
sought after by budding talent. Floyd encouraged this “mania”; it was
harmless. There was a busy day before him, a big deal to close; he was
in a hurry to get to his office. She went with him to the door. He
looked up at the imposing staircase and beautiful Tiffany glass window.
He hated it once; how could he have been so prejudiced? It was all in
the very best of taste, Julie was perfectly framed in it.

“I’ll meet you at the Museum about five o’clock; we’ll drive around for
an hour. I forgot to tell you, I’ve invited some men to dinner; it’s
business. Do you mind?”

Julie smiled again.

“Oh, no!”

With a sudden impulse he took her hand.

“Are you happy, Julie?”

She looked at him; what made him ask that?

“Oh yes!--I have every reason to be.”

“Is there anything I can buy for you?”

“Nothing.”

She stood watching him drive off and waved her hand. It was well-known
in their circle that the Garrisons were a very devoted couple.

Floyd leaned back in the car, puffing at a cigar. The years had
changed him; the sensitive boy had become a man of affairs, a
Capitalist. He was very sane; his Puritan instincts rebelled against
the rioting emotions of the Latins. His life was made up of facts and
figures; ultimately he would have become an image of clay, like his
father’s statues, but there was a secret element of his life, of which
no one had the slightest clue. The Past had ceased to torture him; it
became a consolation. He lived over and over again the Romance of his
youth, the agony, the passion, his first years with Julie, the rage of
the murderer, the whole tragedy, but it didn’t hurt him now; Martin
was dead, forgiven. We count the years we have lived to know how old
we are--correct mathematics, but our age corresponds to other numbers.
Heart swings are the rhythm of our seasons, recording in spiritual
time, the real life.

The car stopped in Twelfth Street. Floyd jumped out, stood for a moment
looking up at the imposing twenty-story office building which he had
erected on the site of his old home. It had rented well. There was
not a room empty. He had retained an office for himself on the third
floor. He sat down to his desk, read his mail. He was about to sell
the building--the psychological moment had come to “turn it over” and
get a handsome profit. He never kept any real estate very long. New
York neighborhoods change and values fluctuate. Then it occurred to
him quite suddenly that the room in which he sat was about the height
of his father’s workshop in the little house where he was born. There
was no emotion, but it was strange he had never thought of it before.
He looked at the heavy safe, the walls lined with repositories, where
contracts were kept--and saw--clay images. He looked down at his desk;
it was littered with old rags, bits of arms, legs--a young man, with an
agonized face, dropped a candle.

He smiled. What courage youth has! It was well done. The home of his
childhood was still his; he had not desecrated it. He saw Mary flying
past him up the stairs; she had become a world figure, the head of an
international organization of nurses. When Julie’s “headaches” came on,
Mary was always there. He’d go softly to the door and wait; he didn’t
knock; he knew she’d come out.

“Mrs. Garrison is much better; I’m sure she’ll be all right in the
morning.” Then the worn face, dim eyes, streaked hair would vanish. She
stood again at the window in her bare room, where they had loved each
other for a moment.

The telephone at his elbow startled him. Julie’s voice--would he order
some flowers for the dinner table.

“Certainly, and a bunch for you. Anything else?”

“Yes,” her tone became confidential. “What wine do you want
served?--are the gentlemen heavy drinkers?”

“No, but they’ll take all you give them.”

He dropped the receiver, smiling. How eager he used to be to do all
those small errands! the night of their house-warming--he drank too
much. That Swede was a nice man. The den on the top floor was hung now
with maps of suburban towns, new fields for speculation; he spent many
evenings poring over them. Somehow his business mind always worked well
up there in that room where a man was murdered by his wife.

The stenographer put a paper before him. He started, came back to
reality; it was a bill of sale and very satisfactory.

“I’ll close the deal tonight.”

Then he commenced searching in an old desk for some papers he wanted,
and came across a sealed envelope; on it was written “Boodle.”

Boodle? What did it mean? He broke the seal and took out three
five-dollar bills.

Tom Dillon! He had quite forgotten him, but he had a vague idea that he
owned a Taxi Company, and was strong in local politics.

He put back the fifteen dollars, resealed the envelope, and wrote on
it, “The foundation of the Garrison fortune.” He would give the story
to his publicity man--how an impoverished son of wealth started in
life by earning fifteen dollars as a chauffeur. Tom Dillon! was the
real thing. What _was_ the real thing? Had _he_ found it? or was he
chasing phantoms? He had that feeling sometimes, in his most successful
moments; it was a queer sensation, as if he had caught a thing of vapor
that melted out of hand and challenged him again from far off--and
again that shadow race!

He thought often of Tom Dillon after that, and one election night
he saw him in the crowd, with a fine young fellow, the image of his
father; they were laughing and nudging each other like two boy friends.
Floyd shook off a feeling of loneliness and got out of their way.


2

Julie was recovering from an attack which left her mentally exhausted.
She lay back in the sedan, her deep-rimmed eyes like smouldering coals.
She arrived at the Museum an hour before the time agreed on with Floyd,
wandered through the rooms, making notes about the hanging and grouping
of new pictures. There was a small canvas in a corner which she thought
was somewhat crowded in. She asked about it. It had been received very
recently and was not yet catalogued. “Yes, it was badly hung.”

She sank down on a divan before the picture--a Swiss landscape, with a
mountain background sloping down to a grassy plateau; below, a bank of
mist, through which could be distinguished an old chapel, with a broken
cross on top. In a corner, hardly visible to the naked eye, she read,
“Val Sinestra,” and underneath, two letters, M. S.

She bent nearer, looking eagerly into the picture. Was it her
imagination! or did she really see a shadowy outline of a man with a
white figure in his arms? Martin! Martin! with flaming eyes, distorted
face!--desperate! mad!

“A charming picture, isn’t it? like a Corot. It’s the first of this
artist, he’s not known in America.”

It was a member of the committee who spoke. Then Floyd came up and
introduced his business friends. She smiled, asked them if they had
seen some gems in the next room, and led them away from that picture in
the corner.

On arriving home she went through the house looking for something and
finally found it, hidden away on a top shelf covered with dust; it was
a small glass vase with a delicate stem. The engraving was beautiful
like a white mist over it. The butler washed it and held it up to the
light; colors flashed through it.

“It’s Bohemian glass, Madame. It will break easily.”

“No! It’s very strong, I’ve had it a long time.”

She put it on her bed-table, with a dark red rose in it. From that
time the “headaches” were less frequent, the ravings about punishment
ceased. Mary said to the doctor:

“I think she’s getting over those horrible nightmares.”

“I’m glad of that,” said the doctor wearily. He himself was suffering
from an attack of nerves. He was getting old, and the hives of human
bees he cared for didn’t always contain honey. They stung him at his
patients’ table, at births, at marriages; at deaths, less so--that
was a release. He fought them with his Scotch tenacity, but they grew
too much for him. Finally he got rid of them by retiring from active
practice and putting the whole “bunch” without names or dates, into a
book on psychical research, which became celebrated.

Julie devoted much time to her boy--took him in her car every morning
to St. John’s College, called for him in the afternoon, preached
religion to him at home, warned him of the great evils which arise from
lack of it. She had been very negligent in her youth, and was punished
for it. Religion was a great consolation.

He listened to her with deference. He was extraordinarily gifted and
devoured everything he could lay his hands on in the way of serious
reading. His father was proud of him, but there was a growing sense of
uneasiness about his religious studies. He saw little of the boy, who
spent his evenings in his own room, filled with books he had bought
himself in the old book shops. Floyd couldn’t understand them. The maps
which hung on the walls of his den were more intelligible.

A distant cousin of Julie’s came to America ostensibly on business.
The Bank, taken over by the family, had grown enormously rich under
American management. Mr. Gonzola was highly cultured--a dark, handsome
man with white hands and long tapering fingers. He was delighted with
the boy and his knowledge of international literature. He found him
reading Renan.

“That’s forbidden, isn’t it?”

The boy answered with a gleam of humor.

“Not forbidden, but not taught. I read all they recommend in school,
and all they forget, out of it.”

Then came a letter from Father Cabello to Julie. He was very glad to
hear that everything continued to be so satisfactory with her. The
wonderful gifts of her boy interested him; he saw in his genius the
hand of God leading him into the Divine path. They must decide now
about his career.

Julie handed the letter to Floyd, who read it carefully and understood
its hidden significance.

“This means the priesthood.”

“Yes,” said Julie, “but don’t speak of that to Joseph.”

That evening at dinner, she said:

“Joseph, would you like to go to Rome to visit Father Cabello?”

The boy’s eyes lit up.

“Oh yes, it’s the dream of my life. And--I would like to go to Vienna,
to see your people.”

Mr. Gonzola spoke quietly, his arm around the boy.

“Let me take him, Julie. I promise you there will be no influence. Our
family has been split into different religious camps for generations;
those who have remained true to their faith have made no effort to
bring the others back. We do not proselytize. The missionary is unknown
to us.”

Julie hesitated, looked at Floyd; it was a great responsibility. The
boy was bending over eagerly watching his father, who decided quickly,
as was his way in business. His theory was, when a man weighs the pros
and cons of an enterprise, the difficulties grow so great that he
generally ends in not undertaking it. He would give the boy his chance;
he was old enough now to decide for himself.

“Go with Mr. Gonzola,” said Floyd.

The boy flung his arms around his father; “I will do what is right!”

“I’m sure you will, my boy,” answered Floyd. At that moment he caught
sight of Julie’s face reflected in the mirror; it was lit by a quick
flash of joy.


3

When Father Cabello received a letter from Julie informing him Joseph
had sailed with a Gonzola, he proceeded at once to counteract any
possible “baleful” influence. He communicated with the Catholic members
of the family in Vienna, hinting that the boy was destined for the
church. This branch of the Gonzolas were devout Catholics, generations
old; they welcomed Joseph affectionately and brought him as early as
possible to Rome. There he remained for some time, a member of Father
Cabello’s household, coming and going at will. The priest watched,
waited; the mind of the boy was not yet ripe for decision.

Joseph was dazzled with his first glimpse of the Pagan City--its
remains of Hellenic civilization; the pomp and splendor of its
churches; the Cardinals in their decaying palaces, clinging to the
traditions of the Past; the art of the great Masters, those faithful
servants of the Church, with their wonderful portrayal of legendary
religion. The unearthly beauty of their divine types, fired the boy’s
imagination, stimulated him like rich wine, tasted for the first time,
taken again in long draughts until his senses reeled. The people
fascinated him with their magnetism, their emotional sensuality, their
worship of women, symbolized in the Blessed Virgin and Child; their
passions--jealousy, hate, revenge, repentance. He roamed day after day
through the streets, sat for hours in the churches listening to the
chanting of the priests, with a pleasant sense of drowsiness, like the
after effects of a narcotic. He followed the processions of monks,
pilgrims, peasants, into churches, away from churches, sprinkling with
holy water, kissing burnt pieces of sacred wood--and always that music!
Oh! that music! swelling in waves of overpowering sadness from the
throats of unsexed men--the terrible sweetness of it, sucking him down
into the waters of oblivion, of self-deception; the soul in safety,
interceded for, the load of personal responsibility fallen away,
care-free on earth, secure of Heaven, an unutterable sense of rest from
that torturing brain which keeps persecuting with its unceasing cry,
“Think while ’tis day, for the night cometh when no man can think.”

In moments of realization, he would say to the priest, “Father, I am
going to Vienna; I must go.” The priest did not keep him back. The boy
must live through the inevitable experience of intoxication, reaction,
submission. He was travelling smoothly; he would arrive safely.


4

When Joseph went from Rome to Vienna to visit the Gonzolas, he was in
a state of mental unrest and indecision. The artist in him shrank from
activity. He was very sensitive; he couldn’t bear pain, disappointment.
The Church would be a shelter from the materialism of the world. It
would be ideal to work for the poor. The garb of piety appealed to
his imagination--a priest walking among the wretched, the persecuted,
the unhappy, giving everything, his material wealth, himself, living
a simple contemplative life. The beauty of it all still remained with
him, keeping him in a semi-intoxicated emotional state. He thought of
the works of immortal art created in the quiet of the cloister. He was
sorely tempted, not by the flesh like St. Anthony, but by the spirit
and the longing for release from a leaden sense of responsibility.

“If not that, what?” He saw nothing for him in the future. His father
had at least the satisfaction of success. He himself had created his
capital. It was a game, like racing, roulette, politics--a game, life
a game! what else? what else?--It was all so ugly; the yearning for
beauty came again, he was sorely tempted....

Mr. Gonzola’s wife and three daughters were models of domesticated
womanhood. Their home was very modern, with just enough of the idealism
of religion to give it spiritual charm. The girls were well educated,
practical women, keenly alive to the responsibility of their wealth,
full of enthusiasm and hope for the future of the world. They received
Joseph with great cordiality, helped him perfect his German, and were
silently sympathetic toward his unsettled spiritual condition of mind.

Mrs. Gonzola was one hundred per cent maternal: she mothered her
husband, her daughters, her friends, her poor, and any stray animal who
instinctively came to her for shelter. Joseph was her life’s crowning
joy, the realization of a hope long dead--a son! She found him too
thin, too pale; poor boy, he had never known the cuisine of Israel, the
finest in the world. No Cordon-bleu can equal the Jewish mother, who
cooks with the subtlety and cleanliness of religious tradition and puts
into her cakes the honey of love. This healthy sane atmosphere was a
good tonic for Joseph’s over-excited mind.

Mr. Gonzola’s ethics were very simple. He kept the two principles
of life wide apart, and gave “to God what was His, to men, what was
theirs.” He was an able man of business, and did not consider a good
bargain with legitimate profit, ungodly. Sometimes he had an uneasy
feeling; the religious ground was slipping like sand from under his
feet. He said to Joseph with a sigh:

“I do not live up to ritual laws as strictly as I should. My daughters
won’t let me; but I am going to take you to Frankfort to visit the head
of the family, Pedro Gonzala, who has preserved the original spelling
of our name and the tradition of our ancestors. In his home you will
see pure orthodoxy, but--don’t forget the responsibility is on my
shoulders. I have given my word to your mother--and I want to keep
it--if possible.”

Joseph laughed. Mr. Gonzola was an honest man.


5

The family of bankers, with branches all over the world, were assembled
this year in Frankfort. Pedro Gonzala, despite his great age, was
consulted about every detail by the “young” men of the firm, from fifty
years old and upward. The “children” under fifty stood meekly silent,
and listened to warnings against the ardor of youth and the temptation
of speculative times. The house of Gonzola had braved many storms,
was sometimes drawn into international financial catastrophes, but it
had always kept its honor unimpeached and continued to live up to its
reputation as creditors of the world. These cold men of finance led a
dual existence. When they stepped over the thresholds of their palatial
homes, the world outside was forgotten. They lived their religious life
with extreme exactness. Their wives and daughters were faithful to the
Law, in their domestic life, their marriage life, and in the education
of their children. They were the remains of a vanishing caste, which
lived upon its own fanaticism.

When Joseph first met Pedro Gonzala in his private office, he saw a
very old man wearing a black silk skull cap, otherwise well groomed
and modern in appearance. He was seated at his desk, surrounded by the
members of the firm who listened to him with great respect.

The “old gentleman” came to business every day in his carriage,
although he had many cars but was never known to ride in them. He
was interested in the breeding of horses, frequented the races, and
patronized art, music, and the theatre. Most of his time was devoted
to philanthropic enterprises, but he kept a firm hand on the ship of
finance, of which he remained until the end of his life the undisputed
head.

He questioned Joseph about his mother, remarking upon the success of
the Gonzola bank in New York. He knew all about “lucky Garrison” who
had shown himself very able. He invited Joseph to dinner at his home.

The Gonzala mansion was sheltered from the gaze of the curious, by
a closely planted row of very old trees, whose entwined branches
symbolized the unity of the family, a treasure-house of antiques, from
all parts of the world--collected with taste and discernment by each
succeeding generation. The picture gallery was celebrated for its
rare masterpieces. Joseph took great delight in a corner of family
portraits. But the most cherished treasure of Pedro Gonzala’s home was
Ruth, his granddaughter, just approaching womanhood; she was all that
was left of his immediate family. The World War had swept the younger
men away. He had lived ten years longer than the allotted Biblical
time; he was life-worn, but before he went to his long rest, his little
Ruth must be married to a righteous man, a student of the Talmud,
and--of _equal birth_. Such a one was difficult to find.

Pedro Gonzala stood in the grand salon surrounded by beautiful
dark-eyed women and serious men of finance. He welcomed Joseph in the
name of the family, as a great grandson of that learned man and deep
thinker, Joseph Abravanel, who fought with all his strength against the
wave of assimilation which had engulfed his immediate family.

“You, my boy, are in the third generation of those who were led away
from the old tradition; it is not your fault, but no student or thinker
can afford to neglect the study of a race which gave to the world the
first revelation of one God. Hebrew thought, in its inception, its
ethics, its morals, is the pure wine of religion; in America, they
have thinned it with the water of reform, and put it into fine-looking
bottles with gold labels.”

There was a ripple of applause; the old gentleman told his little jokes
like an actor, expecting response, which the family gave at the proper
time; then he related the oft-repeated story of his youth, when his
dear Sarah, “God rest her soul,” was alive. He led the boy before a
portrait painted by Rembrandt, representing a stately, handsome matron.
At a ball in Paris, given to them by the diplomats and aristocrats of
France, there were rumors of war, and much disquietude. He himself
was absent, called away to a serious Cabinet consultation. The guests
crowded about Mrs. Gonzala, who was gracious and smiling.

“Are you not worried, Madame?” asked a celebrated diplomat.

“Oh! No,” laughed Mrs. Gonzala. “I am certain there will be no war,
because I will not permit my husband to lend the money for it.”

Ruth stepped daintily down the marble staircase. Her grandfather had
bade her array herself. It was a gala occasion--the reunion of the
family, and a welcome to a young Gonzola from America. Around her neck
were rows of costly pearls; diamonds sparkled in her hair; she wore
a cape of ermine, a young queen of an old dynasty--an inheritance of
beauty and purity. She put out her hand to Joseph, and said “Welcome,
cousin Joseph”--raising her face to his. He bent down and kissed her
cheek; they stood looking at each other, speechless. The women nudged
each other. “What an ideal couple they might have been”--it was a great
pity.

The long dinner table was a beautiful picture with its service of gold,
priceless glass and fine linen, and the Patriarchal figure at its head.
Ruth sat beside him.

“I am dazzled,” said Joseph, “such lovely women, such jewels, such
wealth.”

“We are not wealthy,” answered Ruth, “because it is a principle of the
family to give away a large part of its income, and you will see that
we live very simply; but tonight all this is in your honor. Our jewels,
furs, laces have come down to us from generations back; our home and
pictures can never be sold, unless the business goes under, and that
will never happen.”

“I hope not,” said Joseph, “it has meant too much to the world; but
all these jewels must have been bought once.”

“Oh, yes, in the times of the Ghetto, when the Jews were not allowed to
own real estate--so they bought jewels and hung them around the necks
of their wives who wore them in secret and gave them to their daughters
and daughters’ daughters. This has an interesting history.” She touched
a necklace of shining, pink, living things lying against her white
skin. “When the Romans separated Queen Berenice from her kingly lover,
the last thing he did was to throw these pearls around her neck. She
went back to her own dominion and the pearls after her death became
the property of the Temple. We have had them in our family for many
generations.”

He bent down to examine the pearls, but his gaze stopped at her soft
dark eyes.

“And you will give them to your daughter?”

“Yes,” said Ruth, “but I don’t think I shall ever marry.”

“Why--” insisted Joseph.

“Because,” her voice dropped, he bent lower to listen, “I can only
marry one of my own faith; they are all dying out. They have forgotten
their ancestry.”


6

Father Cabello had reached the zenith of his earthly ambition, the
Cardinalate. He had easily won in the race for advancement--a man of
wealth and winning personality. The magic word “America” gave him
prestige; it was a sign of goodwill to the church in the United States.
The priest was generally beloved, his doors were always open to the
poor, to whom he gave liberal hands; they crowded the steps of his
house, penetrated into his apartments. All efforts of his attendants to
keep them away was futile.

“Let them in,” said the Father, “they will be my future associates,
‘for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.’”

His secretary, a member of an old patrician family, shrugged his
shoulders; his unspoken thought was, “if I have to live with them in
Heaven, I hope I’ll never die.”

The Cardinal had been confined to his room for some days with an attack
of weakness, the result of an overtaxed heart. The doctor said to him,
“Your Eminence, you must shun all excitement--no more receptions, no
more arduous night work, no activity of any kind.”

The Cardinal smiled, “That would be premature death; I must take my
chances. But at present I cannot work; I have no strength.”

His new honors had not changed his mode of living. His _palazzo_, a
relic of past grandeur, was simply furnished with only the necessary
chairs and tables, and completely bare of drapery or superfluous
decorations. The Roman sun flooded his rooms through the high-arched
windows. The garden of boxwood hedges and old trees was beautiful
and fragrant; he could stand on his terrace and see the cupolas
and innumerable spires of the city of churches, and listen to the
bells pealing--now soft, caressing, pleading--now loud, harsh,
commanding--those eternal bells that have welcomed into the world, and
followed out of it, millions of souls.

The Cardinal sat in his private apartment. His fingers tapped
nervously on the polished wood of the table upon which was a dish of
fruits--figs, honey, and a silver jug of iced water--a habit he had
brought from the land of his adoption. He was waiting for Joseph. In
the excitement of his new honors, weeks had passed with only now and
then the accustomed epistolary greetings, but the time was approaching
to speak of the future. If he could realize his plan, thought out in
every detail, this boy would inherit his wealth, would carry on his
work among the poor.

A spasm of agony turned his lips blue, his face livid. He quickly
dropped a tablet into a glass of water and swallowed it. The unbearable
pain slowly subsided; the brain moved again.

“If God would be merciful and let him live to see the boy ordained.”

A flash of determination, of invincible Will. Yes, it would be! It
must be! He forgot the dark-cornered room; he saw the cathedral, the
procession of priests, the young divine. Why didn’t the boy come? He
was eager to stamp his plan with the seal of realization. A shaft of
sunlight shooting through the window struck the chair opposite him.
His sick heart bounded. Seated there he saw his old friend and enemy,
Joseph Abravanel. He slowly made his way to the chair, passing his hand
over it; it was empty. His thought had conjured up a momentary vision.
How often had they sat like that, opposite each other at a table set
with fruit and wine, the long evening passing like a flash over the
chess board which became symbolical of the spiritual struggle between
them. The tenacity of that old man, who would not give up hope, even
after the conversion of his daughter!

“You have won this time, but there is the next generation.”

When Julie was born, he was cheated again in this game for souls; but
he would not give in, “God’s chosen people cannot die; they may lose
the path, but they will find it again; they will come back in the third
generation.”

A spasm of fear convulsed the priest. Joseph Abravanel had the
prophetic clairvoyance of his race. No! No! The boy was a good,
faithful child of the Church, a believer in the true Faith.

He glanced again at the chair opposite; again he met those eyes long
extinct--spirit eyes.

The servant announced, “Joseph Abravanel Gonzola Garrison.”...

Joseph threw himself with a gush of irresistible love into the old
man’s arms; then, remembering, he dropped on his knees and kissed the
ring of His Eminence. The Cardinal raised him, looking long into that
mobile face aglow with the joy of life.

“Sit down, Joseph, we have much to talk over. No! no! not there, here.”

He pointed to a chair close beside him; there were three now at the
table--indomitable spirits; one, invisible.

The Cardinal felt his way, asked about the family; he had not heard
from Julie for some time.

“Oh, Mother is a bad correspondent, but if I miss a mail she cables.”
His laughter rang through the high-vaulted room. “Father wants me to go
into the banking business; the Gonzolas think I have talent for it.”

He was peeling an apple, careful not to break the ring; the Cardinal
noticed his long tapering fingers, his white hands.

“Well, what do you think about it?”

The boy’s eyes shot a mischievous gleam.

“Our great ancestor on my father’s side was a baker, on my mother’s
side they added a letter to it, and it became banker. Now if it is true
that the third generation goes back, I think I’d rather make cakes
than money.”

The Cardinal laughed; the boy’s merriment was contagious. Then he grew
grave again.

“My son, there is something in each generation which belongs neither to
the Past nor the Present, but to the Future; it is God’s will working
in us. The time has come to tell you of my wishes for you. I want you
to continue my work, to take up the staff of Divine Duty, to lay upon
the altar of renunciation the great gifts bestowed upon you by an
All-Seeing God; you will give your youth, your manhood, your old age,
to save those helpless souls who need your intercession, your spiritual
support. You will one day succeed me in Rome; it has been my only
earthly dream, ever since I held you as an infant in my arms. My time
is short; I want to see you enter upon the path before I die.”

The boy was on his feet, his face quivering with grief, the tears
streaming from his eyes.

“No, no; you must not die! I love you! I love you! If I could prolong
your life for one hour I would give my right hand.”

He held it up, firm, strong, beautiful. The Cardinal’s imagination
played him a trick again. He saw another white hand held up, old,
feeble, trembling; the light shone through it.

The boy’s heart was heavy--that beloved face before him, with the
pallor of death on it. How could he say what he must?...

“I have thought long and deeply of your wishes for me. I cannot! I
cannot! There is something in me that rebels against the chastisement
of the flesh. I don’t want to think always of death, to pray always;
I want to work, I want to live. No one can intercede for me; I can
intercede for no one. Each must work out his own salvation. The old
world is spiritually decaying; the young must be the pioneers of a
new world. We must tear down and dig and set the stones of a new
foundation, and those who come after us will build. The Future will see
miracles; the human being will awaken to the truth, that he himself is
God.”

“Stop! Blasphemer!” The old man broke into choking sobs. “Joseph!
Joseph! I am responsible for your soul’s salvation; this is all
madness! You will repent when it is too late.”

“Father! it hurts me to give you pain, but it is impossible. I cannot!
I cannot!”

The Cardinal was cold to the soul--his boy, his heart’s idol, a
heretic, an infidel; the stripling was strange to him, standing there
with a look in his face of iron determination. He would break that
will; he must!

“You do not know what you are doing. You are too young. You have been
influenced by that old sophisticated fox, Pedro Gonzala. I fought a
greater man than he and won; I will fight again--I will save you, as I
saved your mother.”

“No! No! They have not influenced me. I have given up dogma, I will
not be chained again by ritual, I will not be a mummy wrapped in the
superstition of past ages. I am a living, thinking being. I am free!
free!”

The priest’s eyes went past him to that shadowy figure, looking down
now, as it had so often done in life, at a chess board on the table,
fingering the pieces, moving, removing, trying new combinations.
Neither had won; it was a drawn game;--stalemate. With a low moan he
sank back in his chair.

The boy gave a cry of terror.

“Father, speak to me! Speak to me!”

The priest heard him not. He had renounced this world for the glory of
the next. He was going to his reward, where there would be no dogma, no
ritual, no religion.

A terrible fear clutched the boy. He looked about despairingly. He was
forsaking the shelter of those old walls. He had stripped himself bare.
He must go out naked to meet the stones of the Philistines. He threw
himself down before the beloved guide of his childhood, sobbing out his
love, his loneliness.

“Come back! Come back! Don’t leave me! I am afraid, afraid!”

He called in vain; those wonderful dreams--the hope of immortality, the
joy of Heaven--would never come back; they had gone into the past, like
that still form, deaf to his entreaties, to his cries--gone forever!


7

Mr. Garrison was getting into his coat in the hall; it was after nine.

“Good-bye, Julie, I’m off.”

Her answer came from above.

“Don’t go yet. I want to speak to you; it is something important.”

With a suppressed feeling of impatience, he took off his coat and went
up the stairs. He wondered how much Julie would ask for. She was very
extravagant. He was surprised to find her waiting at the door of the
sitting-room for him. She had slipped out of bed and thrown on a filmy
wrapper; he was struck anew by her youthfulness. Her skin was like
satin. She was forty and could easily be taken for ten years younger;
but her beauty had ceased to disturb him. It was an accepted fact, like
his luck in business.

As he bent to kiss her, she noticed his hair was getting thin on the
top. He would soon be bald.

He dropped down on the sofa beside her.

“You looked tired this morning; didn’t you sleep well?” said Julie.

“As well as usual.”

Floyd’s mind was overstrained; his accumulating interests kept him on
a severe tension. His eyes troubled him and he wore strong owl-like
spectacles framed in tortoise shell which gave him a look of comic
solemnity. He didn’t tell Julie how very badly he slept; his many
speculations took gibbering forms and danced around his pillow. He
spent whole nights in his den, where a man had “sweated blood.” He was
beginning to feel the significance of that expression. At first the
thought of possessing a million made his head reel, now he laughed at
his modest pretensions. Desire grows until it ceases to be servant
and becomes master. He hunted gain like a gambler who risks his
last dollar. Envious competitors said, “Garrison’s getting to be a
skin-flint; he’d sell his soul for money.”

It came back to him from a friend; he wasn’t annoyed, but wondered in a
vague way if it were really true.

When the news arrived of Cardinal Cabello’s sudden death and Joseph’s
decision, Julie took it very hard; she spent days in the convent
praying for her son’s soul.

Floyd consulted with Dr. McClaren.

“She’ll get over it. It’s only a temporary disturbance. A bit of good
news now will set her all right again. And how are you, Mr. Garrison?
My medicine worked well, I see.”

“Oh! yes,” said Floyd, “but times are bad--a man must be careful how he
invests his money.”

“That never troubles me; I haven’t any to invest.”

“You’ve been a successful doctor, haven’t you?”

“I hope so.”

The trouble with Dr. McClaren was that his bills were ridiculously
small.

“He underestimates his own ability,” said Floyd to Julie. “A man must
set the price of his life’s work, and as he appraises himself, the
world values him.”

“I have a letter from Joseph,” answered Julie.

“So have I; he keeps me well posted on complications abroad; I am sure,
if he will only get down to it, he’ll make a first-class financier.”

This was Floyd’s ambition for his son.

She took a letter from the table beside her. It was long, covering many
sheets of paper.

“The Gonzalas have been very good to him; he is in much better spirits.
It was terrible, that struggle with His Eminence. I would have given
in.”

She always thought now of Cabello as “His Eminence,” in glittering
robes, sparkling with jewels.

“Yes,” said Floyd. “You always gave in. That was the trouble.” He
turned to go.

“Stop a moment; you must hear this.”

He pushed away the call of business; he would rather have read it
himself, when he found time, at luncheon perhaps. He hated to be read
to. He couldn’t concentrate; his mind wandered off in figures. She
read in a low voice very rapidly, stopping now and again; he knew
she was skipping something; he wasn’t offended. He had always felt
like a third party, and thought of Joseph as “Julie’s boy.” It was
an interesting letter written in picturesque metaphors, just the way
Julie’s mother used to speak, thought Floyd. The boy told of his many
visits to Frankfort, and of closer acquaintance with Pedro Gonzala,
and his granddaughter. They had given a costume ball to celebrate her
sixteenth birthday.

“A costume ball--that’s rather sporty,” remarked Floyd. He had in mind
those French masquerades given in his youth, where Martin danced the
Can-Can with indecent French women.

“Oh, no,” answered Julie, “listen; Joseph explains it.

  “This was a ball, where the family personated their ancestors, the
  portraits in the gallery. Ruth took me around, told me their history
  for generations back. Wonderful, so full of struggle, tragedy,
  romance. I couldn’t hear enough of it!”

“It didn’t affect me like that--those portraits you sent away gave me a
cold chill.”

“They were not your ancestors,” said Julie with a touch of sarcasm.
Then she went on reading.

  “They called one of the portraits ‘the unhappy Pedro Gonzala,’
  because he was an illegitimate son. That was Grandfather! I couldn’t
  tear myself away from him; he had such brave defiant eyes. Dearest
  Mother, I think it is a great injustice to brand a human being like
  that. There is nothing illegitimate in Nature. I’d rather be the
  child of love, than of calculation born in wedlock.”

Floyd frowned.

“I don’t approve of those views. I’m afraid the boy is catching
European radicalism.”

Julie didn’t answer; she was absorbed in the letter. Floyd looked at
his watch and jumped up.

“Wait, wait, it is not finished.

  “Mother, I’ve written you often about Ruth, but I’m sure you don’t
  know what she is like. When I am with her, I’m afraid to look at her,
  and when I’m away, I can’t imagine how she looks. She’s something
  indescribable. Mother, I have fought with all my might against her,
  because I knew it was hopeless, but when she said she loved me, I
  went straight to her grandfather. I told him about the struggle with
  my conscience and our dear friend’s sudden death--he was very much
  moved, and put his hand over my head and blessed me; then I took
  courage and asked him for Ruth. He was silent a long time before he
  answered. I could see he was thinking deeply. Then he said: ‘The
  uncompromising adherence of our people to the Law in the days of the
  Ghetto preserved the virility of the Race; but today our blood is in
  the veins of the world. That obstinate orthodoxy with which we are
  reproached has saved us from being swept away in a great tidal wave
  of assimilation. Come to us! We will leave you free in all worldly
  matters, but you must live according to our ritual, you must worship
  in our synagogue, you must bring up your children in our tradition.
  You will realize as you get older the righteousness of my demands.’”

Floyd was annoyed.

“They _will_ keep harping on those future generations. How can we lay
down the law for our grandchildren; they’ll know a lot more than we do.”

Julie evidently didn’t agree, she kept on reading.

  “I walked about for days--trying to find some way--I wanted Ruth!
  Mother--you don’t know how much! I couldn’t keep away from her--she
  was waiting for me in the garden; she knew I would come. Mother,
  there was something so pure about her; such sweetness, I have never
  seen in any human thing. She was pale, but she spoke quietly.
  ‘Joseph, I know what Grandfather has asked you to do for my sake;
  you mustn’t do it. It wouldn’t be right for you. We try to bring the
  Past into the Present, to preserve our religion. We think we live,
  but it is only a waking dream, and we are happy they let us dream;
  but dreams are not for you. Joseph, you must go out on the high road
  of Progress--and I--I must stay here with my grandfather.’ Then I
  fell into the depths of despair and cried, how I cried. ‘I won’t let
  you; it is a living death; you are young! young!’ Mother, I’ll never
  forget her face when she answered. ‘I look young, but my soul is
  old.’”

A sob choked Julie’s voice; herself at sixteen, with that “old soul.”

Floyd took the letter and read it rapidly to the finish.

  “She has shown me the way; it is all clear to me now, and I am not
  unhappy. We are only separated for a little while; and Mother, I want
  you to write a letter to her grandfather--and plead for us. It might
  do some good. You are always asking me what I want. I want Ruth; give
  me Ruth!”

It was pathetic how the boy clung to his childish illusions. His mother
could give him everything. Julie was crying silently.

The letter dropped from Floyd’s hand; waves of memory swept over him.
The struggle between Joseph Abravanel and Father Cabello against
him--the bitterness, the tragedy. He was on his feet; there was a
youthful ring in his voice which had long been absent. He flung his
spectacles, that badge of age, on the table. His eyes were young again.

“We must bring it about; the boy must not be disappointed. He must have
his love dream; he must not lose the best part of his life.”

With a cry of joy Julie came to him and put her arms around his neck;
they stood together, the light of that young romance across the sea
reflected in their faces. Floyd bent down and whispered: “I was an
ardent lover, wasn’t I, Julie? You were so sweet, so sweet.”

Then he remembered a business deal, and put on his spectacles. At the
door he stopped.

“I shall write at once to Pedro Gonzala and make him a business
proposition, which it would be madness to refuse; it will be a
brilliant future for Joseph. This will cure him. He will see now that
money can buy him everything! Don’t cry, Julie; it’s all for the best,
and don’t miss the mail. It’s a five-cent stamp to Germany.”

The Colonel lunched that day at the club, with Floyd, who was full of
his plan to “dazzle” the Gonzolas. The Colonel was very sympathetic,
then he said with a touch of sadness,

“I’m getting old. People have no use for a bachelor, when he ceases to
be eligible. If I had a boy like yours, a wife like yours, I’d be a
happy man.”

Floyd thought a moment.

“I have been lucky; I come out well from very serious complications.”

The Colonel thought he meant business deals.

“You often risked too much; you were once on the brink of disaster.”

“More than once,” answered Floyd, “but now things seem to be going my
way. I would like to do some philanthropic construction work; a man
must have something to keep him from drying up.”

There was a responsive flash from the Colonel.

“I thought I was the only one who thought like that.”

Floyd looked around at the crowded room; there was laughter, jingling
of glasses, the perfume of good tobacco.

“I think they all do!”


8

Joseph had spent the winter in Geneva, studying the classic and modern
languages. In the spring he joined a band of students, on a walking
tour through the mountains. At Tarasp he bade them good-bye--he was
going to see the Val Sinestra, where his mother, years before, had been
caught in a storm and where his father’s best friend, his Uncle Martin,
had been lost in the mountains.

He passed the hotel, climbed down into the ravine, and stood before
the little chapel, where by a strange coincidence they had met Father
Cabello. He pushed open the door. How old it was, how very old!--the
fading wall pictures, the broken windows, the time-stained Virgin and
Child looming up out of the shadows. There was a sudden impulse to go
to her, to speak to her, as he used to, when she was living to him. He
gazed and gazed; she was drawing him down the aisle--

He went out, shutting the door softly behind him. Ghosts followed him
as he climbed up the open road; then they melted away in the warm
sunlight.

He was soon going home. His father’s “dazzling” business proposition
had been enthusiastically received by the younger Gonzolas--but the
“old gentleman” remained obdurate. The boy must accept his conditions.
Floyd had written to Joseph, advising him to “give in while the old man
lived.” But Joseph refused to make any concession; Ruth wouldn’t let
him.

He strolled along, his knapsack on his back, his hat and cape in
his belt, a handsome young student; one meets them often in the
mountains--fine happy lads, their only wealth, the Future. He knelt
down by a stream, caught the falling water in his hands, and drank it;
then he poetized.

  Spring dances in the mountains.
  Winter’s young daughter, peeps at her
  Sweet face in the Lake mirror.
  The old Snow-man growls;
  His blanket is thin, his feet stick out;
  They are warm, he is melting.
  He flies to the heights, in his
  March-wind aeroplane.
  There he can keep cool.
  The bride robes herself in
  Green and gold.
  Flowers fall from her long curls.
  The nuptial couch is white
  With blossoms.
  Wedding bells, birds caroling--
  Cattle calls--Alpine horns,
  Love time!

He threw back his head and laughed--Ruth would like it. He would bring
her and show her where he wrote it--on their wedding day!

He read it again; it was a whimsical thing. He was sorry for the poets
of the past who were chained in rhyme. The world had been rhyming so
long, about everything--love, religion, the soul, the origin of man.
People rhymed themselves into a state of poetic fiction; then suddenly
they found out it was all rhyme and no reason.


9

The path ran along the side of the mountain. In the valley below he saw
people running, heard the sound of music in the distance. He stopped a
barefoot boy, who told him it was fête day in the Canton, to welcome
their great Switzer home from Geneva, the artist Staehli.

“Staehli? Yes, I know. I admired his paintings at the exhibition.”

Then he saw a procession of peasants in gala array, cows adorned with
flowers, maidens singing, dancing. A tall man walked amongst them with
swinging step, a peasant like the others. He puts his hand to his mouth
and gives out a long piercing yodel. Above at a châlet a woman answers.

“That is Angela, his wife; she is the doctor of the Dorf; she heals
with her hands and brews herb tea which has a magic power!”

“Oh! I’d like to meet the artist. Do you think he’ll receive me?”

“Oh, yes! All are welcome; they have the best milk and cheese in the
village. I’ll take you down.”

Near the châlet, they were stopped by an enormous hay wagon drawn by
oxen. The young peasant leading them moved aside, smiling at Joseph.

“That’s Martin Staehli, born and raised here,” said the boy.

The artist was standing outside the châlet watching the procession wind
its way around the path and out of sight.

“Could I rest here awhile? I’ve walked from Tarasp.”

“I shall have great pleasure.” He spoke English hesitatingly with a
Swiss accent.

They entered a very large room, the light streaming in from all sides.

“This is my studio. My home is a little distance away in our family
châlet. It is old; I will show it to you if you are interested in
antiques.” He went to the door and called.

“Angela! Angela!”

He looked keenly at the boy.

“You are not a European?”

“No, I am an American.” He raised his head with a gesture of pride
which became him well. “My name is Joseph Abravanel Gonzola Garrison.”

The artist put his hand over his eyes: Julie’s boy! The child he had
held in his arms! He heard again that sweet young voice, felt the soft
lips pressed against his. “I love you, Uncle Martin.” Julie’s boy!

Angela came in with milk, bread, and cheese. Joseph thought she was the
noblest-looking woman he had ever seen.

The artist sat tracing lines on paper. He must hold that vision of the
past; it would soon vanish. Angela apologized for his silence.

“My husband is sketching you, he loves beautiful heads.”

Joseph sat willingly for the artist.

“It’s only for myself--and for you, if you will accept it.” Then
pointing to a black band around the boy’s arm, he said with a touch of
fear, “Are you in mourning?”

“Yes, for our dearest friend, Cardinal Cabello.”

“Cabello, a Cardinal? I am quite out of the world. I met him many years
ago in America.”

“He helped my mother bring me up. I was like his own son. I had to
grieve him terribly before his death; but I couldn’t help it. I must go
soon again to Rome; there is a large sum of money coming to the Church
from my grandmother. It was left to me conditionally--I have forfeited
it.”

“Don’t look so sad,” said the artist. “I want the brightness of you.
Tell me, have you sisters and brothers.”

“No, I am an only child, and very much spoilt.”

“Your parents, are they--living?”

“Oh yes, and still young. My mother is the most beautiful woman in New
York.”

The artist caught the smile, then set him talking again, looking keenly
into his face with its quick changes, its light and shade. He laughed
often; he would throw back his head with a gush of merriment. That
laugh thrilled the artist; it was like a far-away echo; it played on
the chord of remembrance, bringing out a melody long unheard.

“You are not of pure American stock?”

“Oh yes, my mother and grandmother were born there. Mother is of
Spanish-Hebrew blood. Father is of Dutch extraction; he is proud
of being ‘pure American’--he forgets the Indian. All others are of
emigrant origin; only some came over on earlier ships. A European
called us a melting pot. I hate that expression; people don’t melt.
We are not a smelting furnace. To me the United States is like a big
Colonial mansion, with many windows made up of little panes of glass,
which I call Race. Each one colors his glass with his own racial
impulse.”

“What color do you see?”

“Oh, my window looks toward the East where the sun rises; it is
gorgeous, with many colors,” laughed the boy.

“I think I catch your meaning. It would make a good symbolical picture.
A great prairie, and standing in it a White House built on Colonial
lines. It is flooded with a glare of strong light, which in the
individual separates into its prismatic colors--the different races.”

“Yes, that’s what I mean; only an artist could think it out like that.
Will you paint it?”

“Perhaps some day, but why not you? You have the instinct in you; I
feel it.”

The boy’s face lit up. “How strange you should know that. I love art;
I’ve studied it in Paris. I’ve been dabbling a bit in oil. They say I
have talent.”

The man bent forward. “I have a class of young artists in Geneva; they
are all unusually gifted. Join us!” How eager he was; he hung on to the
boy’s answer.

“I would like it, but an artist’s career is too passive for me. I have
no patience. I want action, results; I want to work for the great
World Reformation which is coming. I want to help bring down to this
miserable, unhappy earth, a little of the Heaven we have been dreaming
of so long. We must wake up! We must commence now and fight the monster
of materialism which is destroying us.” He was on his feet, his head
erect, his eyes blazing. A young David sharpening his sword for the
great encounter with the Giant of superstition, lies, false Gods.

“I must go now. May I come again? I’m going to write all about you to
my mother. Were you here that time they were caught in the storm?”

Angela put her hand on her husband’s shoulder. He started, looked up.

“I was in America, I was very unfortunate there. I often lost my
way--in jungles. Race instinct made me restless. The peasant blood was
strong in me.”

“Race instinct?” repeated the boy. “I’ve felt that--but I didn’t
know what it was, stirring in me. I can’t express it. It was like a
melody--from far, far away, coming back in snatches--like--like the
strains of--a National Hymn. It excites me.”

Angela’s eyes shone.

“You are living a great romance, the romance of race.”

“The romance of race, yes, that’s what it is.” Then he came nearer to
them, and told his love story.

“Ruth is to me not only my love, she is the ideal in my life. I am
going to take her out of that beautiful dark house with its old
portraits. I am going to make her soul young again.”

The artist went with him down the path to the bend of the road.

“Where shall I send the sketch?”

“To the College in Geneva. Would you mind if I gave it to my mother?”

“Oh, no! I will try to make it beautiful.”

Joseph lingered, looking again into the artist’s face with a touch of
sadness.

“I feel as if I had known you a very long time.”

“You have--”

He drew the boy to him and kissed him and stood watching the young
figure until it disappeared.

Angela touched his arm.

“Angela! that boy! that boy!”

“Is he the son of the unhappy man who spent the night here?”

“Yes--”

The young peasant sent out a call from the barn, where he was flinging
the hay lightly with a heavy pitchfork into the loft.

“What are you going to do with our boy? He does not care for books; he
has no talent for painting? You are not ambitious for him--” There was
a note of reproach in her voice.

“Yes, very ambitious. I want him to be what nature has made him, a
peasant; nothing could be nobler.”

That night the artist remained in his studio to finish the sketch; he
worked for hours with intense concentration, until the pencil dropped
from his numb fingers. Then he threw himself down on the couch, but
couldn’t rest. Ashes strewn over the fire had smothered but not
extinguished it; the flames broke through. That boy! The Past living
again, with all its wonder of passion, its uncontrollable love. He went
to the window, leaned out; a white mist hovered over the dark valley.
His eyes pierced it deeper. He was again a desperate man, holding a
woman in his arms--Mad Martin!...

When the sketch was finished he painted it on ivory, framed it in
silver, put it in a velvet case, and sent it to Joseph as a souvenir
of their meeting. It was a speaking likeness; it went over the sea, a
message to his first love.


10

The Garrisons were “at home.”

The reception tonight was in honor of a distinguished Englishman. Julie
stood before the mirror, putting the last touches to her toilette; she
wore a creamy lace décolleté gown, with splashes of red velvet. The
Gonzola diamonds glittered in her corsage.

Her maid handed her a letter and package. It was from Joseph; now the
evening would be perfect.

The boy was full of hope, enthusiasm; he had just returned from
Switzerland, where he saw the Val Sinestra and the old chapel she had
told him about when he was a child, at night, before he went to sleep.

  I visited an artist who lives near there. He’s been in America; he
  didn’t say much about himself, but he drew me out to get atmosphere
  for a portrait he made of me, which I am sending to you, with my best
  love. I am writing him a long letter; I hope he will answer. He’s
  married to a wonderful woman; they say she has magnetic power, and it
  is true; she drew out all my secrets. I had to tell her about Ruth.
  She loves her husband with her whole soul--her eyes never leave him.
  They have a son, a big strong peasant lad. Mother, the artist is
  the most interesting man I have ever met; his hair is turning gray.
  He must have had a terrible struggle when he was young. I think he
  starved; he has deep lines in his face. I had to tear myself away. I
  love him, Mother, I love him! and I’m sure he loves me. When I left,
  he put his arms around me and kissed me; I felt his heart beating in
  big throbs.

“Martin’s heart-beats!”

She opened the package; Joseph laughed back at her. She gazed and
gazed, until the young face vanished, and she saw Martin, with her boy
in his arms.

She sank down in her chair in a rush of hysterical joy.

Martin alive! Happy; no! no! not happy--content, peaceful, at work. How
wonderful! Those two had met; they loved each other. God had given her
absolution. How thankful she was! how thankful!

She sprang up, peered into the mirror, and saw--a white despairing face
with spotted gray unkempt hair; it faded slowly; youth had touched
it. A beautiful smiling woman was reflected there, with head erect,
triumphant, free from that haunting fear of years.

She put out the lights and went to the door with resilient steps--then
stopped, suddenly grew pale, as she looked back. The room was shadowy;
one lamp shone down on the little table beside her bed, bringing
out in sharp relief, the torn old Hebrew prayer book, beside it an
ivory crucifix turning yellow, and--a beautiful rose, eternally
young--symbols of her soul’s secrets, its melody, its madness.


Finis



TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES:


  Italicized text is surrounded by underscores: _italics_.

  Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

  Inconsistencies in hyphenation have been standardized.



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