had now. With her at that time there had been nobler aspirations about life. But now she was his wife. That was settled. And not only that, but she was the best woman he knew; and if she were not his wife, he would spare no effort to win her. He felt sure of that. He did not put it to himself in the way an Oriental would do, "That is finished"; but it was an act done--a good act--and here was his world again, with a hundred interests, and there were people besides Edith to be thought of, other women and men, and affairs. Because a man was married, was he to be shut up to one little narrow career, that of husband? Probably it did not occur to him that women take a different view of this in the singleness of their purpose and faith. Edith, for instance, knew or guessed that Jack had no purpose in life that was twenty-four hours old; but she had faith--and no amount of observation destroys this faith in women--that marriage would inspire him with energy and ambition to take a man's place in the world. With most men marriage is un fait accompli. Jack had been lucky, but there was, no doubt, truth in an observation of Mavick's. One night as they sat at the club Jack had asked him a leading question, apropos of Henderson's successful career: " Mavick, why don't you get married?" "I have never," he replied, with his usual cynical deliberation, "been obliged to. The fact is, marriage is a curb-bit. Some horses show off better with it, and some are enraged and kick over the traces. I cannot decide which I would be." "That's true enough," said Jack, "from a bachelor's point of view of independence, but it's really a question of matching." "The most difficult thing in the world--in horses. Just about impossible in temperament and movement, let alone looks. Most men are lucky if they get, like Henderson, a running mate." "I see," said Jack, who knew something about the Henderson household, "your idea of a pair is that they should go single." Mavick laughed, and said something about the ideas of women changing so much lately that nobody could tell what the relation of marriage would become, and Jack, who began to feel that he was disloyal, changed the subject. To do him justice, he would have been ashamed for Edith to hear this sort of flippant and shallow talk, which wouldn't have been at all out of place with Carmen or Miss Tavish. "I wanted to ask you, Mavick, as a friend, do you think Henderson is square?" "How square?" "Well, safe?" "Nobody is safe. Henderson is as safe as anybody. You can rely on what he says. But there's a good deal he doesn't say. Anything wrong?" "Not that I know. I've been pretty lucky. But the fact is, I've gone in rather deep." "Well, it's a game. Henderson plays it, as everybody does, for himself. I like Henderson. He plays to win, and generally does. But, you know, if one man wins, somebody else has got to lose in this kind of industry." "But Henderson looks out for his friends?" "Yes--when it doesn't cost too much. Times may come when a man has to look out for himself. Wealth isn't made out of nothing. There must be streams into the reservoir. These great accumulations of one--you can see that--must be made up of countless other men's small savings. There's Uncle Jerry. He operates a good deal with Henderson, and they'd incline to help each other out. But Uncle Jerry says he's got a small pond of his own, and he's careful not to connect it with Henderson's reservoir." "What do you think of Missouri?" "What do I think of the Milky Way? It doesn't much matter to me what becomes of Missouri, unless Henderson should happen to get smashed in it, and that isn't what he is there for. But when you look at the combinations, and the dropping-off of roads that have been drained, and the scaling down in refunding, and the rearranging, and the strikes, how much chance do you think the small fry stand? I don't doubt that Henderson will make a big thing out of it, and there will be lots of howling by those who were not so smart, and the newspapers will say that Henderson was too strong for them. What we respect nowadays are adroitness and strength." "It's an exciting game," Mavick continued, after a moment's pause. "Let me know if you get uneasy. But I'll tell you what it is, Jack; if I had a comfortable income, I wouldn't risk it in any speculation. There is a good deal that is interesting going on in this world, and I like to be in it; but the best plan for a man who has anything is, as Uncle Jerry says, to sail close and salt down." The fact was that Mavick's connection with Henderson was an appreciable addition to his income, and it was not a bad thing for Henderson. Mavick's reputation for knowing the inside of everything and being close- mouthed actually brought him confidences; that which at first was a clever assumption became a reality, and his reputation was so established for being behind the scenes that he was not believed when he honestly professed ignorance of anything. His modest disclaimer merely increased the impression that he was deep. Henderson himself had something of the Bismarck trait of brutal, contemptuous frankness. Mavick was never brutal and never contemptuous, but he had a cynical sort of frankness, which is a good deal more effectual in a business way than the oily, plausible manner which on 'Change, as well as in politics, is distrusted as hypocrisy. Now Uncle Jerry Hollowell was neither oily nor frank; he was long-headed and cautious, and had a reputation for shrewdness and just enough of plasticity of conscience to remove him out of the list of the impracticable and over-scrupulous. This reputation that business men and politicians acquire would be a very curious study. The world is very complacent, and apparently worships success and votes for smartness, but it would surprise some of our most successful men to know what a real respect there is in the community, after all, for downright integrity. Even Jack, who fell into the current notion of his generation of young men that the Henderson sort of morality was best adapted to quick success, evinced a consciousness of want of nobility in the course he was pursuing by not making Edith his confidante. He would have said, of course, that she knew nothing about business, but what he meant was that she had a very clear conception of what was honest. All the evidences of his prosperity, shown in his greater freedom of living, were sore trials to her. She belonged to that old class of New-Yorkers who made trade honorable, like the merchants of Holland and Venice, and she knew also that Jack's little fortune had come out of honest toil and strict business integrity. Could there be any happiness in life in any other course? It seemed cruel to put such a problem as this upon a young woman hardly yet out of girlhood, in the first flush of a new life, which she had dreamed should be so noble and high and so happy, in the period which is consecrated by the sweetest and loveliest visions and hopes that ever come into a woman's life. As the summer wore on to its maximum of heat and discomfort in the city, Edith, who never forgot to measure the hardships of others by her own more fortunate circumstances, urged Dr. Leigh to come away from her labors and rest a few days by the sea. The reply was a refusal, but there was no complaint in the brief business-like note. One might have supposed that it was the harvest-time of the doctor, if he had not known that she gathered nothing for herself. There had never been so much sickness, she wrote, and such an opportunity for her. She was learning a great deal, especially about some disputed contagious diseases. She would like to see Mrs. Delancy, and she wouldn't mind a breath of air that was more easily to be analyzed than that she existed in, but nothing could induce her to give up her cases. All that appeared in her letter was her interest in her profession. Father Damon, who had been persuaded by Edith's urgency to go down with Jack for a few days to the Golden House, seemed uncommonly interested in the reasons of Dr. Leigh's refusal to come. "I never saw her," he said, "so cheerful. The more sickness there is, the more radiant she is. I don't mean," he added, laughing, "in apparel. Apparently she never thinks of herself, and positively she seems to take no time to eat or sleep. I encounter her everywhere. I doubt if she ever sits down, except when she drops in at the mission chapel now and then, and sits quite unmoved on a bench by the door during vespers." "Then she does go there?" said Edith. "That is a queer thing. She would promptly repudiate any religious interest. But I tell her she is a bit of a humbug. When I speak about her philanthropic zeal, she says her interest is purely scientific." "Anyway, I believe," Jack put in, "that women doctors are less mercenary than men. I dare say they will get over that when the novelty of coming into the profession has worn off." "That is possible," said Father Damon; "but that which drives women into professions now is the desire to do something rather than the desire to make something. Besides, it is seldom, in their minds, a finality; marriage is always a possibility." "Yes," replied Edith, "and the probability of having to support a husband and family; then they may be as mercenary as men are." "Still, the enthusiasm of women," Father Damon insisted, "in hospital and outdoor practice, the singleness of their devotion to it, is in contrast to that of the young men-doctors. And I notice another thing in the city: they take more interest in philanthropic movements, in the condition of the poor, in the labor questions; they dive eagerly into philosophic speculations, and they are more aggressively agnostics. And they are not afraid of any social theories. I have one friend, a skillful practitioner they tell me, a linguist, and a metaphysician, a most agreeable and accomplished woman, who is in theory an extreme nihilist, and looks to see the present social and political order upset."
db3nf.com screen-capture.net floresca.net simonova.net flora-source.com flora-source.com sourcecentral.com sourcecentral.com geocities.com