justify such an indulgence at this time of day. The courtly old gentleman had inquired about madam--indeed, the second glass had been dedicated to "mother and child"--and he exhibited a friendly and almost paternal interest, as he always did, in Jack. "By-the-way," he said, after a silence, "is Henderson in town?" "I haven't heard. Why?" "There's been a good deal of uneasiness in the Street as to what he is doing. I hope you haven't got anything depending on him." "I've got something in his stocks, if that is what you mean; but I don't mind telling you I have made something." "Well, it's none of my business, only the Henderson stocks have gone off a little, as you know." Jack knew, and he asked the Major a little nervously if he knew anything further. The Major knew nothing except Street rumors. Jack was uneasy, for the Major was a sort of weathercock, and before he left the club he wrote to Mavick. He carried home with him a certain disquiet, to which he had been for months a stranger. Even the sight of Edith, who met him with a happy face, and dragged him away at once to see how lovely the baby looked asleep, could not remove this. It seemed strange that such a little thing should make a change, introduce an alien element into this domestic peace. Jack was like some other men who lose heart not when they are doing a doubtful thing, but when they have to face the consequences-- cases of misplaced conscience. The peace and content that he had left in the house in the morning seemed to have gone out of it when he returned at night. Next day came a reassuring letter from Mavick. Henderson was going on as usual. It was only a little bear movement, which wouldn't amount to anything. Still, day after day, the bears kept clawing down, and Jack watched the stock-list with increasing eagerness. He couldn't decide to sacrifice anything as long as he had a margin of profit. In this state of mind it was impossible to consider any of the plans he had talked over with Edith before the baby was born. Inquiries he did make about some sort of position or regular occupation, and these he reported to Edith; but his heart was not in it. As the days went by there was a little improvement in his stocks, and his spirits rose. But this mood was no more favorable than the other for beginning a new life, nor did there seem to be, as he went along, any need of it. He had an appearance of being busy every day; he rose late and went late to bed. It was the old life. Stocks down, there was a necessity of bracing up with whomever he met at any of the three or four clubs in which he lounged in the afternoon; and stocks up, there was reason for celebrating that fact in the same way. It was odd how soon he became accustomed to consider himself and to be regarded as the father of a family. That, also, like his marriage, seemed something done, and in a manner behind him. There was a commonplaceness about the situation. To Edith it was a great event. To Jack it was a milestone in life. He was proud of the boy; he was proud of Edith. "I tell you, fellows," he would say at the club, "it's a great thing," and so on, in a burst of confidence, and he was quite sincere in this. But he preferred to be at the club and say these things rather than pass the same hours with his adorable family. He liked to think what he would do for that family--what luxuries he could procure for them, how they should travel and see the world. There wasn't a better father anywhere than Jack at this period. And why shouldn't a man of family amuse himself? Because he was happy in his family he needn't change all the habits of his life. Presently he intended to look about him for something to do that would satisfy Edith and fill up his time; but meantime he drifted on, alternately anxious and elated, until the season opened. The Blunts and the Van Dams and the Chesneys and the Tavishes and Mrs. Henderson had called, invitations had poured in, subscriptions were asked, studies and gayeties were projected, and the real business of life was under way. XV To the nurse of the Delancy boy and to his mother he was by no means an old story or merely an incident of the year. He was an increasing wonder--new every morning, and exciting every evening. He was the centre of a world of solicitude and adoration. It would be scarcely too much to say that his coming into the world promised a new era, and his traits, his likes and dislikes, set a new standard in his court. If he had apprehended his position his vanity would have outgrown his curiosity about the world, but he displayed no more consciousness of his royalty than a kicking Infanta of Spain. This was greatly to his credit in the opinion of the nurse, who devoted herself to the baby with that enthusiasm of women for infants which fortunately never fails, and won the heart of Edith by her worship. And how much they found to say about this marvel! To hear from the nurse, over and over again, what the baby had done and had not done, in a given hour, was to Edith like a fresh chapter out of an exciting romance. And the boy's biographer is inclined to think that he had rare powers of discrimination, for one day when Carmen had called and begged to be permitted to go up into the nursery, and had asked to take him in her arms just for a moment, notwithstanding her soft dress and her caressing manner, Fletcher had made a wry face and set up a howl. "How much he looks like his father" (he didn't look like anything), Carmen said, handing him over to the nurse. What she thought was that in manner and disposition he was totally unlike Jack Delancy. When they came down-stairs, Mrs. Schuyler Blunt was in the drawing-room. "I've had such a privilege, Mrs. Blunt, seeing the baby!" cried Carmen, in her sweetest manner. "It must have been," that lady rejoined, stiffly. Carmen, who hated to be seen through, of all things, did not know whether to resent this or not. But Edith hastened to the rescue of her guest. "I think it's a privilege." "And you know, Mrs. Blunt," said Carmen, recovering herself and smiling, "that I must have some excitement this dull season." "I see," said Mrs. Blunt, with no relaxation of her manner; "we are all grateful to Mrs. Delancy." "Mrs. Henderson does herself injustice," Edith again interposed. "I can assure you she has a great talent for domesticity." Carmen did not much fancy this apology for her, but she rejoined: "Yes, indeed. I'm going to cultivate it." "How is this privileged person?" Mrs. Blunt asked. "You shall see," said Edith. "I am glad you came, for I wanted very much to consult you. I was going to send for you." "Well, here I am. But I didn't come about the baby. I wanted to consult you. We miss you, dear, every day." And then Mrs. Blunt began to speak about some social and charitable arrangements, but stopped suddenly." I'll see the baby first. Good-morning, Mrs. Henderson." And she left the room. Carmen felt as much left out socially as about the baby, and she also rose to go. "Don't go," said Edith. "What kind of a summer have you had?" "Oh, very good. Some shipwrecks." "And Mr. Henderson? Is he well?" "Perfectly. He is away now. Husbands, you know, haven't so much talent for domesticity as we have." "That depends," Edith replied, simply, but with that spirit and air of breeding before which Carmen always inwardly felt defeat--"that depends very much upon ourselves." Naturally, with this absorption in the baby, Edith was slow to resume her old interests. Of course she knew of the illness of Father Damon, and the nurse, who was from the training-school in which Dr. Leigh was an instructor, and had been selected for this important distinction by the doctor, told her from time to time of affairs on the East Side. Over there the season had opened quite as usual; indeed, it was always open; work must go on every day, because every day food must be obtained and rent-money earned, and the change from summer to winter was only a climatic increase of hardships. Even an epidemic scare does not essentially vary the daily monotony, which is accepted with a dogged fatality: There had been no vacation for Ruth Leigh, and she jokingly said, when at length she got a half-hour for a visit to Edith, that she would hardly know what to do with one if she had it. "We have got through very well," she added. "We always dread the summer, and we always dread the winter. Science has not yet decided which is the more fatal, decayed vegetables or unventilated rooms. City residence gives both a fair chance at the poor." "Are not the people learning anything?" Edith asked. "Not much, except to bear it, I am sorry to say. Even Father Damon--" "Is he at work again? Do you see him often?" "Yes, occasionally." "I should so like to see him. But I interrupted you." "Well, Father Damon has come to see that nothing can be done without organization. The masses"--and there was an accent of bitterness in her use of the phrase--"must organize and fight for anything they want." "Does Father Damon join in this?" "Oh, he has always been a member of the Labor League. Now he has been at work with the Episcopal churches of the city, and got them to agree, when they want workmen for any purpose, to employ only union men." "Isn't that," Edith exclaimed, "a surrender of individual rights and a great injustice to men not in the unions?" "You would see it differently if you were in the struggle. If the working-men do not stand by each other, where are they to look for help? What have the Christians of this city done?" and the little doctor got up and began to pace the room. "Charities? Yes, little condescending charities. And look at the East Side! Is its condition any better? I tell you, Mrs. Delancy, I don't believe in charities--in any charities." "It seems to me," said Edith, with a smile calculated to mollify this vehemence, "that you are a standing refutation of your own theory."
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