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While Scarborough was serving his clerkship at Indianapolis, Dumont was engaging in ever larger and more daring speculations with New York as his base. Thus it came about that when Scarborough established himself at Saint X, Dumont and Pauline were living in New York, in a big house in East Sixty-first Street.
And Pauline had welcomed the change. In Saint X she was constantly on guard, always afraid her father and mother would see below that smiling surface of her domestic life which made them happy. In New York she was free from the crushing sense of peril and restraint, as their delusions about her were secure. There, after she and he found their living basis of "let alone," they got on smoothly, rarely meeting except in the presence of servants or guests, never inquiring either into the other's life, carrying on all negotiations about money and other household matters through their secretaries. He thought her cold by nature--therefore absolutely to be trusted. And what other man with the pomp and circumstance of a great and growing fortune to maintain had so admirable an instrument? "An ideal wife," he often said to himself. And he was not the man to speculate as to what was going on in her head. He had no interest in what others thought; how they were filling the places he had assigned them--that was his only concern.
In one of those days of pause which come now and then in the busiest lives she chanced upon his letters from Europe in her winter at Battle Field. She took one of them from its envelope and began to read--carelessly, with a languid curiosity to measure thus exactly the change in herself. But soon she was absorbed, her mind groping through letter after letter for the clue to a mystery. The Dumont she now knew stood out so plainly in those letters that she could not understand how she, inexperienced and infatuated though she then was, had failed to see the perfect full-length portrait. How had she read romance and high-mindedness and intellect into the personality so frankly flaunting itself in all its narrow sordidness, in all its poverty of real thought and real feeling?
And there was Hampden Scarborough to contrast him with. With this thought the truth suddenly stared at her, made her drop the letter and visibly shrink. It was just because Scarborough was there that she had been tricked. The slight surface resemblance between the two men, hardly more than the "favor" found in all men of the family of strong and tenacious will, had led her on to deck the absent Dumont with the manhood of the present Scarborough. She had read Scarborough into Dumont's letters. Yes, and--the answers she addressed and mailed to Dumont had really been written to Scarborough.
She tossed the letters back into the box from which they had reappeared after four long years. She seated herself on the white bear-skin before the open fire; and with hands clasped round her knees she rocked herself slowly to and fro like one trying to ease an intolerable pain.
Until custom dulled the edge of that pain, the days and the nights were the cruelest in her apprenticeship up to that time.
When her boy, Gardiner, was five years old, she got her father and mother to keep him at Saint X with them.
"New York's no place, I think, to bring up and educate a boy in the right way," she explained. And it was the truth, though not the whole truth. The concealed part was that she would have made an open break with her husband had there been no other way of safeguarding their all-seeing, all-noting boy from his example.
Before Gardiner went to live with his grandparents she stayed in the East, making six or eight brief visits "home" each year. When he went she resolved to divide her year between her pleasure as a mother and her obligation to her son's father, to her parents' son-in-law--her devotions at the shrine of Appearances.
It was in the fall of the year she was twenty-five--eight years and a half after she left Battle Field--that Hampden Scarborough reappeared upon the surface of her life.
On a September afternoon in that year Olivia, descending from the train at Saint X, was almost as much embarrassed as pleased by her changed young cousin rushing at her with great energy--"Dear, dear Olivia! And hardly any different--how's the baby? No--not Fred, but Fred Junior, I mean. In some ways you positively look younger. You know, you were so serious at college!"
"But you--I don't quite understand how any one can be so changed, yet--recognizable. I guess it's the plumage. You're in a new edition--an edition deluxe."
Pauline's dressmakers were bringing out the full value of her height and slender, graceful strength. Her eyes, full of the same old frankness and courage, now had experience in them, too. She was wearing her hair so that it fell from her brow in two sweeping curves reflecting the light in sparkles and flashes. Her manner was still simple and genuine--the simplicity and genuineness of knowledge now, not of innocence. Extremes meet--but they remain extremes. Her "plumage" was a fashionable dress of pale blue cloth, a big beplumed hat to match, a chiffon parasol like an azure cloud, at her throat a sapphire pendant, about her neck and swinging far below her waist a chain of sapphires.
"And the plumage just suits her," thought Olivia. For it seemed to her that her cousin had more than ever the quality she most admired--the quality of individuality, of distinction. Even in her way of looking clean and fresh she was different, as if those prime feminine essentials were in her not matters of frequent reacquirement but inherent and inalienable, like her brilliance of eyes and smoothness of skin.
Olivia felt a slight tugging at the bag she was carrying. She looked--an English groom in spotless summer livery was touching his hat in respectful appeal to her to let go. "Give Albert your checks, too," said Pauline, putting her arm around her cousin's waist to escort her down the platform. At the entrance, with a group of station loungers gaping at it, was a phaeton-victoria lined with some cream-colored stuff like silk, the horses and liveried coachman rigid. "She's giving Saint X a good deal to talk about," thought Olivia.
"Home, please, by the long road," said Pauline to the groom, and he sprang to the box beside the coachman, and they were instantly in rapid motion. "That'll let us have twenty minutes more together," she went on to Olivia. "There are several people stopping at the house."
The way led through Munroe Avenue, the main street of Saint X. Olivia was astonished at the changes--the town of nine years before spread and remade into an energetic city of twenty-five thousand.
"Fred told me I'd hardly recognize it," said she, "but I didn't expect this. It's another proof how far-sighted Hampden Scarborough is. Everybody advised him against coming here, but he would come. And the town has grown, and at the same time he's had a clear field to make a big reputation as a lawyer in a few years, not to speak of the power he's got in politics."
"But wouldn't he have won no matter where he was?" suggested Pauline.,
"Sooner or later--but not so soon," replied Olivia.
"No--a tree doesn't have to grow so tall among a lot of bushes before it's noticed as it does in a forest."
"And you've never seen him since Battle Field?" As Olivia put this question she watched her cousin narrowly without seeming to do so.
"But," replied Pauline--and Olivia thought that both her face and her tone were a shade off the easy and the natural--"since he came I've been living in New York and haven't stayed here longer than a few days until this summer. And he's been in Europe since April. No," she went on, "I've not seen a soul from Battle Field. It's been like a painting, finished and hanging on the wall one looks toward oftenest, and influencing one's life every day."
They talked on of Battle Field, of the boys and girls they had known--how Thiebaud was dead and Mollie Crittenden had married the man who was governor of California; what Howe was not doing, the novels Chamberlayne was writing; the big women's college in Kansas that Grace Wharton was vice-president of. Then of Pierson--in the state senate and in a fair way to get to Congress the next year. Then Scarborough again--how he had distanced all the others; how he might have the largest practice in the state if he would take the sort of clients most lawyers courted assiduously; how strong he was in politics in spite of the opposition of the professionals--strong because he had a genius for organization and also had the ear and the confidence of the people and the enthusiastic personal devotion of the young men throughout the state. Olivia, more of a politician than Fred even, knew the whole story; and Pauline listened appreciatively. Few indeed are the homes in strenuously political Indiana where politics is not the chief subject of conversation, and Pauline had known about parties and campaigns as early as she had known about dolls and dresses.
"But you must have heard most of this," said Olivia, "from people here in Saint X."
"Some of it--from father and mother," Pauline answered. "They're the only people I've seen really to talk to on my little visits. They know him very well indeed. I think mother admires him almost as much as you do. Here's our place," she added, the warmth fading from her face as from a spring landscape when the shadow of the dusk begins to creep over it.
They were in the grounds of the Eyrie--the elder Dumont was just completing it when he died early in the previous spring. His widow went abroad to live with her daughter and her sister in Paris; so her son and his wife had taken it. It was a great rambling stone house that hung upon and in a lofty bluff. From its windows and verandas and balconies could be seen the panorama of Saint Christopher. To the left lay the town, its ugly part--its factories and railway yards--hidden by the jut of a hill. Beneath and beyond to the right, the shining river wound among fields brown where the harvests had been gathered, green and white where myriads of graceful tassels waved above acres on acres of Indian corn. And the broad leaves sent up through the murmur of the river a rhythmic rustling like a sigh of content. Once in a while a passing steamboat made the sonorous cry of its whistle and the melodious beat of its paddles echo from hill to hill. Between the house and the hilltop, highway lay several hundred acres of lawn and garden and wood.
The rooms of the Eyrie and its well-screened verandas were in a cool twilight, though the September sun was hot.
"They're all out, or asleep," said Pauline, as she and Olivia entered the wide reception hall. "Let's have tea on the east veranda. Its view isn't so good, but we'll be cooler. You'd like to go to your room first?"
Olivia said she was comfortable as she was and needed the tea. So they went on through the splendidly-furnished drawing-room and were going through the library when Olivia paused before a portrait--"Your husband, isn't it?"
"Yes," replied Pauline, standing behind her cousin. "We each had one done in Paris."
"What a masterful face!" said Olivia. "I've never seen a better forehead." And she thought,
"He's of the same type as Scarborough, except--what is it I dislike in his expression?"
"Do you notice a resemblance to any one you know?" asked Pauline.
"Ye-e-s," replied Olivia, coloring. "I think----"
"Scarborough, isn't it?"
"Yes," admitted Olivia.
After a pause Pauline said ambiguously: "The resemblance is stronger there than in life."
Olivia glanced at her and was made vaguely uneasy by the look she was directing at the face of the portrait. But though Pauline must have seen that she was observed, she did not change expression. They went out upon the east veranda and Olivia stood at the railing. She hardly noted the view in the press of thoughts roused by the hints of what was behind the richly embroidered curtain of her cousin's life.
All along the bluff, some exposed, some half hid by dense foliage, were the pretentious houses of the thirty or forty families who had grown rich through the industries developed within the past ten years. Two foreign-looking servants in foreign-looking house-liveries were bringing a table on which was an enormous silver tray with a tea-service of antique silver and artistic china. As Olivia turned to seat herself a young man and a woman of perhaps forty, obviously from the East, came through the doors at the far end of the long porch. Both were in white, carefully dressed and groomed; both suggested a mode of life whose leisure had never been interrupted.
"Who are coming?" asked Olivia. She wished she had gone to her room before tea. These people made her feel dowdy and mussy.
Pauline glanced round, smiled and nodded, turned back to her cousin.
"Mrs. Herron and Mr. Langdon. She's the wife of a New York lawyer, and she takes Mr. Langdon everywhere with her to amuse her, and he goes to amuse himself. He's a socialist, or something like that. He thinks up and says things to shock conservative, conventional people. He's rich and never has worked--couldn't if he would, probably. But he denounces leisure classes and large fortunes and advocates manual labor every day for everybody. He's clever in a queer, cynical way."
A Mrs. Fanshaw, also of New York, came from the library in a tea-gown of chiffon and real lace. All were made acquainted and Pauline poured the tea. As Olivia felt shy and was hungry, she ate the little sandwiches and looked and listened and thought--looked and thought rather than listened. These were certainly well-bred people, yet she did not like them.
"They're in earnest about trifles," she said to herself, "and trifle about earnest things." Yet it irritated her to feel that, though they would care not at all for her low opinion of them, she did care a great deal because they would fail to appreciate her.
"They ought to be jailed," Langdon was drawling with considerable emphasis.
"Who, Mr. Langdon?" inquired Mrs. Fanshaw--she had been as abstracted as Olivia. "You've been filling the jails rapidly to-day, and hanging not a few."
Mrs. Herron laughed. "He says your husband and Mrs. Dumont's and mine should be locked up as conspirators."
"Precisely," said Langdon, tranquilly. "They'll sign a few papers, and when they're done, what'll have happened? Not one more sheep'll be raised. Not one more pound of wool will be shorn. Not one more laborer'll be employed. Not a single improvement in any process of manufacture. But, on the other hand, the farmer'll have to sell his wool cheaper, the consumer'll have to pay a bigger price for blankets and all kinds of clothes, for carpets--for everything wool goes into. And these few men will have trebled their fortunes and at least trebled their incomes. Does anybody deny that such a performance is a crime? Why, in comparison, a burglar is honorable and courageous. He risks liberty and life."
"Dreadful! Dreadful!" exclaimed Mrs. Fanshaw, in mock horror. "You must go at once, Mowbray, and lead the police in a raid on Jack's office."
"Thanks--it's more comfortable here." Langdon took a piece of a curious-looking kind of hot bread. "Extraordinary good stuff this is," he interjected; then went on: "And I've done my duty when I've stated the facts. Also, I'm taking a little stock in the new trust. But I don't pose as a `captain of industry' or `promoter of civilization.' I admit I'm a robber. My point is the rotten hypocrisy of my fellow bandits--no, pickpockets, by gad!"
Olivia looked at him with disapproving interest. It was the first time she had been present at a game of battledore and shuttlecock with what she regarded as fundamental morals. Langdon noted her expression and said to Pauline in a tone of contrition that did not conceal his amusement: "I've shocked your cousin, Mrs. Dumont."
"I hope so," replied Pauline. "I'm sure we all ought to be shocked--and should be, if it weren't you who are trying to do the shocking. She'll soon get used to you."
"Then it was a jest?" said Olivia to Langdon.
"A jest?" He looked serious. "Not at all, my dear Mrs. Pierson. Every word I said was true, and worse. They----"
"Stop your nonsense, Mowbray," interrupted Mrs. Herron, who appreciated that Olivia was an "outsider." "Certainly he was jesting, Mrs. Pierson. Mr. Langdon pretends to have eccentric ideas--one of them is that everybody with brains should be put under the feet of the numskulls; another is that anybody who has anything should be locked up and his property given to those who have nothing."
"Splendid!" exclaimed Langdon. And he took out a gold cigarette case and lighted a large, expensive-looking cigarette with a match from a gold safe. "Go on, dear lady! Herron should get you to write our prospectus when we're ready to unload on the public. The dear public! How it does yearn for a share in any piratical enterprise that flies the snowy flag of respectability." He rose. "Who'll play English billiards?"
"All right," said Mrs. Herron, rising.
"And I, too," said Mrs. Fanshaw.
"Give me one of your cigarettes, Mowbray," said Mrs. Herron. "I left my case in my room."
Pauline, answering Olivia's expression, said as soon as the three had disappeared:
"Why not? Is it any worse for a woman than for a man?"
"I don't know why not," replied Olivia. "There must be another reason than because I don't do it, and didn't think ladies did. But that's the only reason I can give just now."
"What do you think of Langdon?" asked Pauline.
"I guess my sense of humor's defective. I don't like the sort of jest he seems to excel in."
"I fancy it wasn't altogether a jest," said Pauline. "I don't inquire into those matters any more. I used to, but--the more I saw, the worse it was. Tricks and traps and squeezes and--oh, business is all vulgar and low. It's necessary, I suppose, but it's repulsive to me." She paused, then added carelessly, yet with a certain deliberateness, "I never meddle with Mr. Dumont, nor he with me."
Olivia wished to protest against Pauline's view of business. But--how could she without seeming to attack, indeed, without attacking, her cousin's husband?
Dumont brought Fanshaw up in his automobile, Herron remaining at the offices for half an hour to give the newspapers a carefully considered account of the much-discussed "merger" of the manufacturers of low-grade woolens. Herron had objected to any statement. "It's our private business," he said. "Let them howl. The fewer facts they have, the sooner they'll stop howling." But Dumont held firm for publicity. "There's no such thing as a private business nowadays," he replied. "Besides, don't we want the public to take part of our stock? What's the use of acting shady--you've avoided the legal obstacles, haven't you? Let's tell the public frankly all we want it to know, and it'll think it knows all there is to know."
The whole party met in the drawing-room at a quarter-past eight, Langdon the last to come down--Olivia was uncertain whether or not she was unjust to him when she suspected design in his late entrance, the handsomest and the best-dressed man of the company.
He looked cynically at Dumont. "Well, fellow pirate: how go our plans for a merry winter for the poor?"
"Ass!" muttered Herron to Olivia, who happened to, be nearest him. "He fancies impudence is wit. He's devoid of moral sense or even of decency. He's a traitor to his class and shouldn't be tolerated in it."
Dumont was laughingly answering Langdon in his own vein.
"Splendidly," he replied, "thanks to our worthy chaplain, Herron, who secures us the blessing and protection of the law."
"That gives me an appetite!" exclaimed Langdon. "I feared something might miscarry in these last hours of our months of plotting. Heaven be praised, the people won't have so much to waste hereafter. I'm proud to be in one of the many noble bands that are struggling to save them from themselves."
But Dumont had turned away from him; so he dropped into Mrs. Herron's discussion with Mrs. Fanshaw on their proposed trip to the Mediterranean. Dinner was announced and he was put between Mrs. Herron and Olivia, with Dumont on her right. It was a round table and Olivia's eyes lingered upon its details--the embroidered cloth with real lace in the center, the graceful antique silver candlesticks, the tall vases filled with enormous roses--everything exquisitely simple and tasteful.
Langdon talked with her until Mrs. Herron, impatient at his neglect, caught his eye and compelled his attention. Dumont, seeing that Olivia was free, drew her into his conversation with Mrs. Fanshaw; and then Mrs. Fanshaw began to talk with Mr. Herron, who was eating furiously because he had just overheard Langdon say: "That was a great day for pirates when they thought of taking aboard the lawyers as chaplains."
All the men were in high spirits; Dumont was boyish in his exuberance. When he left home that morning he was four times a millionaire; now he was at least twelve times a millionaire, through the magic of the "merger." True, eight of the twelve millions were on paper; but it was paper that would certainly pay dividends, paper that would presently sell at or near its face value. And this success had come when he was only thirty-four. His mind was already projecting greater triumphs in this modern necromancy by which millionaires evoke and materialize millions from the empty air--apparently. He was bubbling over with happiness--in the victory won, in victories to be won.
Olivia tried him on several subjects, but the conversation dragged. Of Pauline he would not talk; of Europe, he was interested only in the comfort of hotels and railway trains, in the comparative merits of the cooking and the wines in London and Paris. But his face--alert, shrewd, aggressive--and his mode of expression made her feel that he was uninteresting because he was thinking of something which he did not care to expose to her and could not take his mind from. And this was the truth. It was not until she adventured upon his business that he became talkative. And soon she had him telling her about his "combine"--frankly, boastfully, his face more and more flushed, for as he talked he drank.
"But," he said presently, "this little matter to-day is only a fair beginning. It seemed big until it was about accomplished. Then I saw it was only a suggestion for a scheme that'd be really worth, while." And he went on to unfold one of those projects of to-day's commerce and finance that were regarded as fantastic, delirious a few years ago. He would reach out and out for hundreds of millions of capital; with his woolens "combine" as a basis he would build an enormous corporation to control the sheep industry of the world--to buy millions of acres of sheep-ranges; to raise scores of millions of sheep; to acquire and to construct hundreds of plants for utilizing every part of the raw product of the ranges; to sell wherever the human race had or could have a market.
Olivia was ambitious herself, usually was delighted by ambition in others. But his exhibit of imagination and energy repelled her, even while it fascinated. Partly through youth, more through that contempt for concealment which characterizes the courageous type of large man, he showed himself to her just as he was. And she saw him not as an ambition but as an appetite, or rather a bundle of appetites.
"He has no ideals," she thought. "He's like a man who wants food merely for itself, not for the strength and the intellect it will build up. And he likes or dislikes human beings only as one likes or dislikes different things to eat."
"It'll take you years and years," she said to him, because she must say something.
"Not at all." He waved his hand--Olivia thought it looked as much like a claw as like a hand. "It's a sky-scraper, but we build sky-scrapers overnight. Time and space used to be the big elements. We practically disregard them." He followed this with a self-satisfied laugh and an emptying of his champagne glass at a gulp.
The women were rising to withdraw. After half an hour Langdon and Herron joined them. Dumont and Fanshaw did not come until eleven o'clock. Then Dumont was so abrupt and surly that every one was grateful to Mrs. Fanshaw for taking him away to the west veranda. At midnight all went to their rooms, Pauline going with Olivia, "to make sure you haven't been neglected."
She lingered until after one, and when they kissed each the other good night, she said: "It's done me a world of good to see you, 'Livia--more even than I hoped. I knew you'd be sympathetic with me where you understood. Now, I feel that you're sympathetic where you don't understand, too. And it's there that one really needs sympathy."
"That's what friendship means--and--love," said Olivia.
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