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List Of Contents | Contents of The Golden House, by Charles Dudley Warner
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"Me?  No, indeed.  I'm paid by the dispensary.  And I make my patients
pay--when they are able."

"So I have heard," Edith retorted.  "Your bills must be a terror to the
neighborhood."

"You may laugh.  But I'm establishing a reputation over there as a
working-woman, and if I have any influence, or do any little good, it's
owing to that fact.  Do you think they care anything about Father Damon's
gospel?"

"I should be sorry to think they did not," Edith said, gravely.

"Well, very little they care.  They like the man because they think he
shares their feelings, and does not sympathize with them because they are
different from him.  That is the only kind of gospel that is good for
anything over there."

"I don't think Father Damon would agree with you in that."

"Of course he would not.  He's as mediaeval as any monk.  But then he is
not blind.  He sees that it is never anything but personal influence that
counts.  Poor fellow," and the doctor's voice softened, "he'll kill
himself with his ascetic notions.  He is trying to take up the burden of
this life while struggling under the terror of another."

"But he must be doing a great deal of good."

"Oh, I don't know.  Nothing seems to do much good.  But his presence is
a great comfort.  That is something.  And I'm glad he is going about now
rousing opposition to what is, rather than all the time preaching
submission to the lot of this life for the sake of a reward somewhere
else.  That's a gospel for the rich."

Edith was accustomed to hear Ruth Leigh talk in this bitter strain when
this subject was introduced, and she contrived to turn the conversation
upon what she called practical work, and then to ask some particulars of
Father Damon's sudden illness.

"He did rest," the doctor said, "for a little, in his way.  But he will
not spare himself, and he cannot stand it.  I wish you could induce him
to come here often--to do anything for diversion.  He looks so worn."

There was in the appeal to Edith a note of personal interest which her
quick heart did not fail to notice.  And the thought came to her with a
painful apprehension.  Poor thing! Poor Father Damon!

Does not each of them have to encounter misery enough without this?

Doesn't life spare anybody?

She told her apprehension to Jack when he came home.

Jack gave a long whistle.  "That is a deadlock!"

"His vows, and her absolute materialism!  Both of them would go to the
stake for what they believe, or don't believe.  It troubles me very
much."

"But," said Jack, "it's interesting.  It's what they call a situation.
There.  I didn't mean to make light of it.  I don't believe there is
anything in it.  But it would be comical, right here in New York."

"It would be tragical."

"Comedy usually is.  I suppose it's the human nature in it.  That is so
difficult to get rid of.  But I thought the missionary business was safe.
Though, do you know, Edith, I should think better of both of them for
having some human feeling.  By-the-way, did Dr. Leigh say anything about
Henderson?"

"No.  What?"

"He has given Father Damon ten thousand dollars.  It's in strict secrecy,
but Father Damon said I might tell you.  He said it was providential."

"I thought Mr. Henderson was wholly unscrupulous and cold as ice."

"Yes, he's got a reputation for freeze-outs.  If the Street knew this it
would say it was insurance money.  And he is so cynical that he wouldn't
care what the Street said."

"Do you think it came about through Mrs. Henderson?"

"I don't think so.  She was speaking of Father Damon this morning in the
Loan Exhibition.  I don't believe she knows anything about it.  Henderson
is a good deal shut up in himself.  They say at the Union that years ago
he used to do a good many generous things--that he is a great deal harder
than he used to be."

This talk was before dinner.  She did not ask anything now about Carmen,
though she knew that Jack had fallen into his old habit of seeing much of
her.  He was less and less at home, except at dinner-time, and he was
often restless, and, she saw, often annoyed.  When he was at home he
tried to make up for his absence by extra tenderness and consideration
for Edith and the boy.  And this effort, and its evidence of a double if
not divided life, wounded her more than the neglect.  One night, when he
came home late, he had been so demonstrative about the baby that Edith
had sent the nurse out of the room until she could coax Jack to go into
his own apartment.  His fits of alternate good-humor and depression she
tried to attribute to his business, to which he occasionally alluded
without confiding in her.

The next morning Father Damon came in about luncheon-time.  He apologized
for not coming before since her return, but he had been a little upset,
and his work was more and more interesting.  His eyes were bright and his
manner had quite the usual calm, but he looked pale and thinner, and so
exhausted that Edith ran immediately for a glass of wine, and began to
upbraid him for not taking better care of himself.

"I take too much care of myself.  We all do.  The only thing I've got to
give is myself."

" But you will not last."

"That is of little moment; long or short, a man can only give himself.
Our Lord was not here very long."  And then Father Damon smiled, and said
"My dear friend, I'm really doing very well.  Of course I get tired.
Then I come up again.  And every now and then I get a lift.  Did Jack
tell you about Henderson?"

"Yes.  Wasn't it strange?"

"I never was more surprised.  He sent for me to come to his office.
Without any circumlocution, he asked me how I was getting on, and, before
I could answer, he said, in the driest business way, that he had been
thinking over a little plan, and perhaps I could help him.  He had a
little money he wanted to invest--

"'In our mission chapel?' I asked.

'No,' he said, without moving a muscle.  'Not that.  I don't know much
about chapels, Father Damon.  But I've been hearing what you are doing,
and it occurred to me that you must come across a good many cases not in
the regular charities that you could help judiciously, get them over hard
spots, without encouraging dependence.  I'm going to put ten thousand
dollars into your hands, if you'll be bothered with it, to use at your
discretion.'

"I was taken aback, and I suppose I showed it, and I said that was a
great deal of money to intrust to one man.

"Henderson showed a little impatience.  It depended upon the man.  That
was his lookout.  The money would be deposited, he said, in bank to my
order, and he asked me for my signature that he could send with the
deposit.

"Of course I thanked him warmly, and said I hoped I could do some good
with it.  He did not seem to pay much attention to what I was saying.  He
was looking out of the window to the bare trees in the court back of his
office, and his hands were moving the papers on his table aimlessly
about.

"' I shall know,' he said, 'when you have drawn this out.  I've got a
fancy for keeping a little fund of this sort there.'  And then he added,
still not looking at me, but at the dead branches, 'You might call it the
Margaret Fund.'"

"That was the name of his first wife!" Edith exclaimed.

"Yes, I remember.  I said I would, and began to thank him again as I rose
from my chair.  He was still looking away, and saying, as if to himself,
'I think she would like that.'  And then he turned, and, in his usual
abrupt office manner, said: 'Good-morning, good-morning.  I am very much
obliged to you.'"

"Wasn't it all very strange!"  Edith spoke, after a moment.  "I didn't
suppose he cared.  Do you think it was just sentiment?"

"I shouldn't wonder.  Men like Henderson do queer things.  In the hearts
of such hardened men there are sometimes roots of sentiment that you
wouldn't suspect.  But I don't know.  The Lord somehow looks out for his
poor."

Notwithstanding this windfall of charity, Father Damon seemed somewhat
depressed.  "I wish," he said, after a pause, "he had given it to the
mission.  We are so poor, and modern philanthropy all runs in other
directions.  The relief of temporary suffering has taken the place of the
care of souls."

"But Dr. Leigh said that you were interesting the churches in the labor
unions."

"Yes.  It is an effort to do something.  The church must put herself into
sympathetic relations with these people, or she will accomplish nothing.
To get them into the church we must take up their burdens.  But it is a
long way round.  It is not the old method of applying the gospel to men's
sins."

"And yet," Edith insisted, "you must admit that such people as Dr. Leigh
are doing a good work."

Father Damon did not reply immediately.  Presently he asked: "Do you
think, Mrs. Delancy, that Dr. Leigh has any sympathy with the higher
life, with spiritual things?  I wish I could think so."

"With the higher life of humanity, certainly."

"Ah, that is too vague.  I sometimes feel that she and those like her are
the worst opponents to our work.  They substitute humanitarianism for the
gospel."

"Yet I know of no one who works more than Ruth Leigh in the self-
sacrificing spirit of the Master."

"Whom she denies!"  The quick reply came with a flush in his pale face,
and he instantly arose and walked away to the window and stood for some
moments in silence.  When he turned there was another expression in his
eyes and a note of tenderness in his voice that contradicted the severity
of the priest.  It was the man that spoke.  "Yes, she is the best woman I
ever knew.  God help me!  I fear I am not fit for my work."

This outburst of Father Damon to her, so unlike his calm and trained
manner, surprised Edith, although she had already some suspicion of his
state of mind.  But it would not have surprised her if she had known more
of men, the necessity of the repressed and tortured soul for sympathy,
and that it is more surely to be found in the heart of a pure woman than
elsewhere.

But there was nothing that she could say, as she took his hand to bid him

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