List Of Contents | Contents of The Golden House, by Charles Dudley Warner
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good-by, except the commonplace that Dr. Leigh had expressed anxiety that
he was overworking, and that for the sake of his work he must be more
prudent.  Yet her eyes expressed the sympathy she did not put in words.

Father Damon understood this, and he went away profoundly grateful for
her forbearance of verbal expression as much as for her sympathy.  But he
did not suspect that she needed sympathy quite as much as he did, and
consequently he did not guess the extent of her self-control.  It would
have been an immense relief to have opened her heart to him--and to whom
could she more safely do this than to a priest set apart from all human
entanglements? --and to have asked his advice.  But Edith's peculiar
strength--or was it the highest womanly instinct?--lay in her discernment
of the truth that in one relation of life no confidences are possible
outside of that relation except to its injury, and that to ask
interference is pretty sure to seal its failure.  As its highest joys
cannot be participated in, so its estrangements cannot be healed by any
influence outside of its sacred compact.  To give confidence outside is
to destroy the mutual confidence upon which the relation rests, and
though interference may patch up livable compromises, the bloom of love
and the joy of life are not in them.  Edith knew that if she could not
win her own battle, no human aid could win it for her.

And it was all the more difficult because it was vague and indefinite, as
the greater part of domestic tragedies are.  For the most part life goes
on with external smoothness, and the public always professes surprise
when some accident, a suit at law, a sudden death, a contested will, a
slip from apparent integrity, or family greed or feminine revenge, turns
the light of publicity upon a household, to find how hollow the life has
been; in the light of forgotten letters, revealing check-books, servants'
gossip, and long-established habits of aversion or forbearance, how much
sordidness and meanness!

Was not everything going on as usual in the Delancy house and in the
little world of which it was a part?  If there had been any open neglect
or jealousy, any quarrel or rupture, or any scene, these could be
described.  These would have an interest to the biographer and perhaps to
the public.  But at this period there was nothing of this sort to tell.
There were no scenes.  There were no protests or remonstrances or
accusations, nor to the world was there any change in the daily life of
these two.

It was more pitiful even than that.  Here was a woman who had set her
heart in all the passionate love of a pure ideal, and day by day she felt
that the world, the frivolous world, with its low and selfish aims, was
too strong for her, and that the stream was wrecking her life because it
was bearing Jack away from her.  What could one woman do against the
accepted demoralizations of her social life?  To go with them, not to
care, to accept Jack's idle, good-natured, easy philosophy of life and
conduct, would not that have insured a peaceful life?  Why shouldn't she
conform and float, and not mind?

To be sure, a wise woman, who has been blessed or cursed with a long
experience of life, would have known that such a course could not
forever, or for long, secure happiness, and that a man's love ultimately
must rest upon a profound respect for his wife and a belief in her
nobility.  Perhaps Edith did not reason in this way.  Probably it was her
instinct for what was pure and true-showing, indeed, the quality of her
love-that guided her.

To Jack's friends he was much the same as usual.  He simply went on in
his ante-marriage ways.  Perhaps he drank a little more, perhaps he was a
little more reckless at cards, and it was certain that his taste for
amusing himself in second-hand book-shops and antiquity collections had
weakened.  His talked-of project for some regular occupation seemed to
have been postponed, although he said to himself that it was only
postponed until his speculations, which kept him in a perpetual fever,
should put him in a position to command a business.

Meantime he did not neglect social life--that is, the easy, tolerant
company which lived as he liked to live.  There was at first some
pretense of declining invitations which Edith could not accept, but he
soon fell into the habit of a man whose family has temporarily gone
abroad, with the privileges of a married man, without the
responsibilities of a bachelor.  Edith could see that he took great
credit to himself for any evenings he spent at home, and perhaps he had a
sort of support in the idea that he was sacrificing himself to his
family.  Major Fairfax, whom Edith distrusted as a misleader of youth,
did not venture to interfere with Jack again, but he said to himself that
it was a blank shame that with such a wife he should go dangling about
with women like Carmen and Miss Tavish, not that the Major himself had
any objection to their society, but, hang it all, that was no reason why
Jack should be a fool.

In midwinter Jack went to Washington on business.  It was necessary to
see Mavick, and Mr. Henderson, who was also there.  To spend a few weeks
at the capital, in preparation for Lent, has become a part of the program
of fashion.  There can be met people like-minded from all parts of the
Union, and there is gayety, and the entertainment to be had in new
acquaintances, without incurring any of the responsibilities of social
continuance.  They meet there on neutral ground.  Half Jack's set had
gone over or were going.  Young Van Dam would go with him.  It will be
only for a few days, Jack had said, gayly, when he bade Edith good-by,
and she must be careful not to let the boy forget him.

It was quite by accident, apparently, that in the same train were the
Chesneys, Miss Tavish, and Carmen going over to join her husband.  This
gave the business expedition the air of an excursion.  And indeed at the
hotel where they stayed this New York contingent made something of an
impression, promising an addition to the gayety of the season, and
contributing to the importance of the house as a centre of fashion.
Henderson's least movements were always chronicled and speculated on,
and for years he had been one of the stock subjects, out of which even
the dullest interviewers, who watch the hotel registers in all parts of
the country, felt sure that they could make an acceptable paragraph.  The
arrival of his wife, therefore, was a newspaper event.

They said in Washington at the time that Mrs. Henderson was one of the
most fascinating of women, amiable, desirous to please, approachable, and
devoted to the interests of her husband.  If some of the women, residents
in established society, were a little shy of her, if some, indeed,
thought her dangerous--women are always thinking this of each other,
and surely they ought to know-nothing of this appeared in the reports.
The men liked her.  She had so much vivacity, such esprit, she understood
men so well, and the world, and could make allowances, and was always an
entertaining companion.  More than one Senator paid marked court to her,
more than one brilliant young fellow of the House thought himself
fortunate if he sat next her at dinner, and even cabinet officers waited
on her at supper.  It could not be doubted that a smile and a
confidential or a witty remark from Mrs. Henderson brightened many an
evening.  Wherever she went her charming toilets were fully described,
and the public knew as well as her jewelers the number and cost of her
diamonds, her necklaces, her tiaras.  But this was for the world and for
state occasions.  At home she liked simplicity.  And this was what
impressed the reporters when, in the line of their public duty, they were
admitted to her presence.  With them she was very affable, and she made
them feel that they could almost be classed with her friends, and that
they were her guardians against the vulgar publicity, which she disliked
and shrank from.

There went abroad, therefore, an impression of her amiability,
her fabulous wealth in jewels and apparel, her graciousness and her
cleverness and her domesticity.  Her manners seemed to the reporters
those of a "lady," and of this both her wit and freedom from prudishness
and her courteous treatment of them convinced them.  And the best of all
this was that while it was said that Henderson was one of the boldest and
shrewdest of operators, and a man to be feared in the Street, he was in
his family relations one of the most generous and kind-hearted of men.

Henderson himself had not much time for the frivolities of the season,
and he evaded all but the more conspicuous social occasions, at which
Carmen, sometimes with a little temper, insisted that he should accompany
her.  "You would come here," he once said, "when you knew I was immersed
in most perplexing business."

"And now I am here," she had replied, in a tone equally wanting in
softness, "you have got to make the best of me."

Was Jack happy in the whirl he was in?  Some days exceedingly so.  Some
days he sulked, and some days he threw himself with recklessness born of
artificial stimulants into the always gay and rattling moods of Miss
Tavish.  Somehow he could get no nearer to Henderson or to Mavick than
when he was in New York.  Not that he could accuse Mavick of trying to
conceal anything; Mavick bore to him always the open, "all right"
attitude, but there were things that he did not understand.

And then Carmen?  Was she a little less dependent on him, in this wide
horizon, than in New York?  And had he noticed a little disposition to
patronize on two or three occasions?  It was absurd.  He laughed at
himself for such an idea.  Old Eschelle's daughter patronize him!
And yet there was something.  She was very confidential with Mavick.
They seemed to have a great deal in common.  It so happened that even in
the little expeditions of sightseeing these two were thrown much
together, and at times when the former relations of Jack and Carmen
should have made them comrades.  They had a good deal to say to each

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