List Of Contents | Contents of The Golden House, by Charles Dudley Warner
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And in a moment he added, "He never said anything to me about such a
disposition of his property."

Two things were evident to Carmen from this reply.  He saw her interests
as she saw them, and it was pretty certain that the contents of the will
were not made known to him when he witnessed it.  She experienced an
immense feeling of relief as she arose and unlocked the desk.  They sat
down before it together, and went over its contents.  Mavick made a note
of the fresh business memoranda that might be of service next day, since
Mrs. Henderson had requested him to attend the proving of the will, and
to continue for the present the business relations with her that he had
held with Mr. Henderson.

It was late when he left the house, but he took with him a note to Mr.
Sage to drop into the box for morning delivery.  The note said that she
had searched the house, that no second will existed there, and that she
had telegraphed to Mr. Mavick, who had much knowledge of Mr. Henderson's
affairs, to meet him in the morning.  And she read the note to Mavick
before she sealed it.

Before the note could have been dropped into the box, Carmen was in her
room, and the note was literally true.  No second will existed.

The will was proved, and on the second day its contents were in all the
newspapers.  But with it went a very exciting story.  This was the rumor
of another will, and of Henderson's vast scheme of benevolence.  Mr. Sage
had been interviewed and Carmen had been interviewed.  The memorandum
(which was only rough and not wholly legible notes) had been found and
sent to Carmen.  There was no concealment about it.  She gave the
reporters all the details, and to every one she said that it was her
intention to carry out her husband's wishes, so far as they could be
ascertained from this memorandum, when his affairs had been settled.
The thirst of the reporters for information amused even Carmen, who had
seen much of this industrious tribe.  One of them, to whom she had
partially explained the situation, ended by asking her, "Are you going to
contest the will?"

"Contest the will?" cried Carmen.  "There is nothing to contest."

"I didn't know," said the young man, whose usual occupation was reporting
sports, and who had a dim idea that every big will must be contested.

Necessarily the affair made a great deal of talk.  The newspapers
discussed it for days, and turned over the scheme in every light, the
most saying that it was a noble gift to the city that had been intended,
while only one or two doubted if charity institutions of this sort really
helped the poor.  Regret, of course, was expressed that the second will
had never been executed, but with this regret was the confidence that the
widow would carry out, eventually, Henderson's plans.

This revelation modified the opinion in regard to Henderson.  He came to
be regarded as a public benefactor, and his faithful wife shared the
credit of his noble intention.


Waiting for something to turn up, Jack found a weary business.  He had
written to Mavick after the newspaper report that that government officer
had been in the city on Henderson's affairs, and had received a very
civil and unsatisfactory reply.  In the note Mavick had asked him to come
to Washington and spend a little time, if he had nothing better on hand,
as his guest.  Perhaps no offense was intended, but the reply enraged
Jack.  There was in the tone of the letter and in the manner of the
invitation a note of patronage that was unendurable.

"Confound the fellow's impudence!" said Jack to himself; and he did not
answer the invitation.

Personally his situation was desperate enough, but he was not inclined to
face it.  In a sort of stupor he let the law take its course.  There was
nothing left of his fortune, and his creditors were in possession of his
house and all it contained.  "Do not try to keep anything back that
legally belongs to them," Edith had written when he informed her of this
last humiliation.  Of course decency was observed.  Jack's and Edith's
wardrobes, and some pieces of ancestral furniture that he pointed out as
belonging to his wife, were removed before the auction flag was hung out.
When this was over he still temporized.  Edith's affectionate entreaties
to him to leave the dreadful city and come home were evaded on one plea
or another.  He had wild schemes of going off West or South--
of disappearing.  Perhaps he would have luck somewhere.  He couldn't ask
aid or seek occupation of his friends, but some place where he was not
known he felt that he might do something to regain his position, get some
situation, or make some money--lots of men had done it in a new country
and reinstate himself in Edith's opinion.

But he did not go, and days and weeks went by in irresolution.  No word
came from Carmen, and this humiliated Jack more than anything else--not
the loss of her friendship, but the remembrance that he had ever danced
attendance on her and trusted her.  He was getting a good many wholesome
lessons in these days.

One afternoon he called upon Miss Tavish.  There was no change in her.
She received him with her usual gay cordiality, and with no affectation.

"I didn't know what had become of you," she said.

"I've been busy," he replied, with a faint attempt at a smile.

"Yes, I know.  It's been an awful time, what with Henderson's death and
everything else.  Almost everybody has been hit.  But," and she looked at
him cheerfully, "they will come up again; up and down; it is always so.
Why, even I got a little twist in that panic."  The girl was doing what
she could in her way to cheer him up.

"I think of going off somewhere to seek my fortune," said Jack, with a
rueful smile.

"Oh, I hope not; your friends wouldn't like that.  There is no place like
New York, I'm sure."  And there was a real note of friendliness and
encouragement in her tone.  "Only," and she gave him another bright
smile, "I think of running away from it myself, for a time.  It's a
secret yet.  Carmen wants me to go abroad with her."

"I have not seen Mrs. Henderson since her husband's death.  How is she?"

"Oh, she bears up wonderfully.  But then she has so much to do, poor
thing.  And then the letters she gets, the begging letters.  You've no
idea.  I don't wonder she wants to go abroad.  Don't stay away so long
again," she said as Jack rose to go.  "And, oh, can't you come in to
dinner tomorrow night--just Carmen--I think I can persuade her--and
nobody else?"

"I'm sorry that I have an engagement," Jack answered.

"Well, some other time.  Only soon."

This call did Jack temporarily a world of good.  It helped his self-
esteem.  But it was only temporary.  The black fact stared him in the
face every morning that he was ruined.  And it came over him gradually
that he was a useless member of society.  He never had done anything; he
was not trained or fitted to do anything.  And this was impressed upon
him in the occasional attempts he made to get employment.  He avoided as
much as possible contact with those who knew him.  Shame prevented him
from applying to them for occupation, and besides he very well knew that
to those who knew him his idle career was no recommendation.  Yet he
formed a habit of going down-town every day and looking for work.  His
appearance commanded civility, but everywhere he met with refusal, and he
began to feel like a well-bred tramp.  There had been in his mind before
no excuse for tramps.  He could see now how they were made.

It was not that he lacked capacity.  He knew a great deal, in an
amateurish way, about pictures, books, bric-a-brac, and about society.
Why shouldn't he write?  He visited the Loan Exhibition, and wrote a
careful criticism on the pictures and sent it to a well-known journal.
It was returned with thanks: the journal had its own art critic.  He
prepared other articles about curious books, and one about porcelain and
pottery.  They were all returned, except one which gave the history of a
rare bit of majolica, which had been picked up forty cents and then sold
for five hundred dollars, and was now owned by a collector who had paid
four thousand dollars for it.  For that the newspaper sent him five
dollars.  That was not encouraging, and his next effort for the same
journal was returned.  Either he hadn't the newspaper knack, or the
competition was too great.

He had ceased going to his club.  It was too painful to meet his
acquaintances in his altered circumstances, and it was too expensive.
It even annoyed him to meet Major Fairfax.  That philosopher had not
changed towards him any more than Miss Tavish had, but it was a
melancholy business to talk of his affairs, and to listen to the repeated
advice to go down to the country to Edith, and wait for some good
opening.  That was just what he could not do.  His whole frivolous life
he began now to see as she must have seen it.  And it seemed to him that
he could only retain a remnant of his self-respect by doing something
that would reinstate him in her opinion.

"Very well," said the Major, at the close of the last of their talks at
the club; "what are you going to do?"

"I'm going into some business," said Jack, stiffly.

"Have you spoken to any of your friends?"

"No.  It's no use," he said, bitterly; "they are all like me, or they
know me."

"And hasn't your wife some relations who are in business?"

"The last people I should apply to.  No.  I'm going to look around.
Major, do you happen to know a cheap lodging-house that is respectable?"

"I don't know any that is not respectable," the Major replied, in a huffy

"I beg your pardon," said Jack.  "I want to reduce expenses."

The Major did know of a place in the neighborhood where he lived.
He gave Jack the address, and thereafter the club and his usual resorts
knew him no more.

As the days went by and nothing happened to break the monotony of his
waiting and his fruitless search, he became despondent.  Day after day he
tramped about the city, among the business portions, and often on the
East Side, to see misery worse than his own.  He had saved out of the

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