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List Of Contents | Contents of The Golden House, by Charles Dudley Warner
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met socially, this history would have been different from what it must
be.  The lives of several of them were appreciably modified by this
meeting.  It is too much to say that Father Damon's notion of the means
by which such men as Henderson succeed was changed, but personal contact
with the man may have modified his utterances about him, and he may have
turned his mind to the uses to which his wealth might be applied rather
than to the means by which he obtained it.  Carmen's ingenuous interest
in his work may have encouraged the hope that at least a portion of this
fortune might be rescued to charitable uses.  For Carmen, dining with
Mrs. Schuyler Blunt was a distinct gain, and indirectly opened many other
hitherto exclusive doors.  That lady may not have changed her opinion
about Carmen, but she was good-natured and infected by the incoming
social tolerance; and as to Henderson, she declared that he was an
exceedingly well-bred man, and she did not believe half the stories about
him.  Henderson himself at once appreciated the talents of Mavick, gauged
him perfectly, and saw what services he might be capable of rendering at
Washington.  Mr. Mavick appreciated the advantage of a connection with
such a capitalist, and of having open to him another luxurious house in
New York.  At the dinner-table Carmen and Mr. Mavick had not exchanged a
dozen remarks before these clever people felt that they were congenial
spirits.  It was in the smoking-room that Henderson and Mavick fell into
an interesting conversation, which resulted in an invitation for Mavick
to drop in at Henderson's office in the morning.  The dinner had not been
a brilliant one.  Henderson found it not easy to select topics equally
interesting to Mrs. Delancy and Mrs. Blunt, and finally fell into
geographical information to the latter about Mexico and Honduras.  For
Edith, the sole relief of the evening was an exchange of sympathy with
Father Damon, and she was too much preoccupied to enjoy that.  As for
Carmen, placed between Jack and Mr. Mavick, and conscious that the eyes
of Mrs. Blunt were on her, she was taking a subdued role, which Jack
found much less attractive than her common mood.  But this was not her
only self-sacrifice of the evening.  She went without her usual
cigarette.

To Edith the dinner was a revelation of new difficulties in the life she
proposed for herself, though they were rather felt than distinctly
reasoned about.  The social atmosphere was distasteful; its elements were
out of harmony with her ideals.  Not that this society was new to her,
but that she saw it in a new light.  Before her marriage all these things
had been indifferent to this high-spirited girl.  They were merely
incidents of the social state into which she was born, and she pursued
her way among them, having a tolerably clear conception of what her own
life should be, with little recognition of their tendencies.  Were only
her own life concerned, they would still be indifferent to her.  But
something had happened.  That which is counted the best thing in life had
come to her, that best thing which is the touchstone of character as it
is of all conditions, and which so often introduces inextricable
complications.  She had fallen in love with Jack Delancy and married him.

The first effect of this was to awake and enlarge what philosophers would
call her enthusiasm of humanity.  The second effect was to show her--and
this was what this little dinner emphasized--that she had put limitations
upon herself and taken on unthought-of responsibilities.  To put this
sort of life one side, or make it secondary to her own idea of a useful
and happy life, would have been easy but for one thing--she loved Jack.
This philosophic reasoning about it does her injustice.  It did not occur
to her that she could go her way and let him go his way.  Nor must it be
supposed that the problem seemed as grave to her as it really was--the
danger of frittering away her own higher nature in faithfulness to one of
the noblest impulses of that nature.  Yet this is the way that so many
trials of life come, and it is the greatest test of character.  She felt-
as many women do feel--that if she retained her husband's love all would
be well, and the danger involved to herself probably did not cross her
mind.

But what did cross her mind was that these associations meant only evil
for Jack, and that to be absorbed in the sort of life that seemed to
please him was for her to drift away from all her ideals.

A confused notion of all this was in her thoughts when she talked with
Father Damon, while the gentlemen were in the smoking-room.  She asked
him about his mission.

"The interest continues," he replied; "but your East Side, Mrs. Delancy,
is a puzzling place."

"How so?"

"Perhaps you'll laugh if I say there is too much intelligence."

Edith did laugh, and then said: " Then you'd better move your mission
over to this side.  Here is a field of good, unadulterated worldliness.
But what, exactly, do you mean?"

"Well, the attempt of science to solve the problem of sin and
wretchedness.  What can you expect when the people are socialists and
their leaders agnostics?"

"But I thought you were something of a socialist yourself!"

"So I am," he said, frankly, "when I see the present injustice, the
iniquitous laws and combinations that leave these people so little
chance.  They are ignorant, and expect the impossible; but they are right
in many things, and I go with them.  But my motive is not theirs.  I hope
not.  There is no hope except in a spiritual life.  Materialism down at
the bottom of society is no better than materialism at the top.  Do you
know," he went on, with increased warmth, "that pessimism is rather the
rule over that side, and that many of those who labor most among the poor
have the least hope of ever making things substantially better?"

"But such unselfish people as Dr. Leigh do a great deal of good," Edith
suggested.

"Yes," he said reflecting--"yes, I have no doubt.  I don't understand it.
She is not hopeful.  She sees nothing beyond.  I don't know what keeps
her up."

"Love of humanity, perhaps."

"I wish the phrase had never been invented.  Religion of humanity!
The work is to save the souls of those people."

"But," said Edith, with a flush of earnestness "but, Father Damon, isn't
human love the greatest power to save?"

The priest looked at the girl.  His face softened, and he said, more
gently, "I don't know.  Of the soul, yes.  But human love is so apt to
stand in the way of the higher life."

In her soul Edith resented this as an ascetic and priestly view; but she
knew his devotion to that humanity which he in vain tried to eliminate
from his austere life, and she turned the talk lightly by saying, "Ah,
that is your theory.  But I am coming over soon, and shall expect you and
Dr. Leigh to take me about."


The next morning Mr. Mavick's card gave him instant admission to the
inner office of Mr. Henderson, the approach to whom was more carefully
guarded than that to the President of the United States.  This was not
merely necessary to save him from the importunities of cranks who might
carry concealed dynamite arguments, but as well to protect him from
hundreds of business men with whom he was indirectly dealing, and with
whom he wished to evade explanations.  He thoroughly understood the
advantages of delay.  He also understood the value of the mystery that
attends inaccessibility.  Even Mr. Mavick himself was impressed by the
show of ceremony, by the army of clerks, and by the signs of complete
organization.  He knew that the visitor was specially favored who
penetrated these precincts so far as to get an interview, usually
fruitless, with Henderson's confidential man.  This confidential man was
a very grave and confidence-begetting person, who dealt out dubious hints
and promises, and did not at all mind when Henderson found it necessary
to repudiate as unauthorized anything that had been apparently said in
his name.  To be sure, this gave a general impression that Henderson was
an inscrutable man to deal with, but at the same time it was confessed
that his spoken word could be depended on.  Anything written might, it is
true, lead to litigation, and this gave rise to a saying in the Street
that Henderson's word was better than his bond.

Henderson was not a politician, but he was a friend of politicians.  It
was said that he contributed about equally to both sides in a political
campaign, and that this showed patriotism more than partisanship.  It was
for his interest to have friends on both sides in Congress, and friends
in the Cabinet, and it was even hinted that he was concerned to have men
whose economic and financial theories accorded with his own on the
Supreme Bench.  He had unlimited confidence in the power of money.  His
visitor of the morning was not unlike him in many respects.  He also was
not a politician.  He would have described himself as a governmental man,
and had a theory of running the government with as little popular
interference as possible.  He regarded himself as belonging to the
governing class.

Between these two men, who each had his own interests in view, there was
naturally an apparent putting aside of reserve.

"I was very glad to make your acquaintance, Mr. Mavick," said Henderson,
cordially.  " I have known of you for a long time."

"Yes?  I've been in the employ of the government for some time."

"And I suppose it pays pretty well," said Henderson, smilingly.

"Oh, extravagantly," Mavick rejoined, in the same spirit.  "You just
about get your board and clothes out of government.  Your washing is
another thing.  You are expected, you know, to have your washing done
where you vote."

"Well, it's a sure thing."

"Yes, till you are turned out.  You know the theory at Washington is that
virtue is its own reward.  Tom Fakeltree says it's enough."

"I wonder how he knows?"

"Observation, probably.  Tom startled a dinner table the other day with
the remark that when a man once gives himself up to the full enjoyment of

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