Infomotions, Inc.Youth Challenges / Kelland, Clarence B



Author: Kelland, Clarence B
Title: Youth Challenges
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): bonbright; dulac; bonbright foote; ruth; hilda; lightener; malcolm lightener; miss frazer; ruth frazer; foote
Contributor(s): Mathers, Edward Powys, 1892-1939 [Translator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
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Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 99,836 words (short) Grade range: 6-9 (grade school) Readability score: 73 (easy)
Identifier: etext5797
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Title: Youth Challenges

Author: Clarence B Kelland

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Youth Challenges

By

CLARENCE BUDINGTON KELLAND

AUTHOR OF

"The Little Moment of Happiness," "The High Flyers," "Sudden Jim,"
"The Source," "The Hidden Spring," etc.






CHAPTER I


Bonbright Foote VI arose and stood behind the long table which served
him as a desk and extended his hand across it. His bearing was that
of a man taking a leading part in an event of historic importance.

"My son," said he, "it gratifies me to welcome you to your place in
this firm." Then he smiled. When Bonbright Foote VI smiled it was as
though he said to himself, "To smile one must do thus and so with the
features," and then systematically put into practice his
instructions. It was a cultured smile, one that could have been
smiled only by a gentleman conscious of generations of correct
antecedents; it was an aristocratic smile. On the whole it was not
unpleasant, though so excellently and formally done.

"Thank you, father," replied Bonbright Foote VII. "I hope I shall be
of some use to you."

"Your office is ready for you," said his father, stepping to a door
which he unlocked with the gravity of a man laying a corner stone.
"This door," said he, "has not been opened since I took my place at
the head of the business--since I moved from the desk you are to
occupy to the one in this room. It will not be closed again until the
time arrives for you to assume command. We have--we Footes--always
regarded this open door as a patent token of partnership between
father and son."

Young Foote was well acquainted with this--as a piece of his family's
regalia. He knew he was about to enter and to labor in the office of
the heir apparent, a room which had been tenantless since the death
of his grandfather and the consequent coronation of his father. Such
was the custom. For twelve years that office had been closed and
waiting. None had ventured into it, except for a janitor whose weekly
dustings and cleanings had been performed with scrupulous care. He
knew that Bonbright Foote VI had occupied the room for seventeen
years. Before that it had stood vacant eleven years awaiting for
Bonbright Foote VI to reach such age and attainments as were
essential. Young Foote realized that upon the death of his father the
office would be closed again until his son, Bonbright Foote VIII,
should be equipped, by time and the university founded by John
Harvard, to enter as he was entering to-day. So the thing had been
done since the first Bonbright Foote invested Bonbright Foote II with
dignities and powers.

Father and son entered the long-closed office, a large, indeed a
stately room. It contained the same mahogany table at which Bonbright
Foote II had worked; the same chairs, the same fittings, the same
pictures hung on the walls, that had been the property of the first
crown prince of the Foote dynasty. It was not a bright place,
suggestive of liveliness or gayety, but it was decorously inviting--a
place in which one could work with comfort and satisfaction.

"Let me see you at your desk," said the father, smiling again. "I
have looked forward to seeing you there, just as you will look
forward to seeing YOUR son there."

Bonbright sat down, wondering if his father had felt oppressed as HE
felt oppressed at this moment. He had a feeling of stepping from one
existence into another, almost of stepping from one body, one
identity, to another. When he sat at that desk he would be taking up,
not his own career, but the career of the entity who had occupied
this office through generations, and would occupy it in perpetual
succession. Vaguely he began to miss something. The sensation was
like that of one who has long worn a ring on his finger, but omits to
put it on one morning. For that person there is a vague sense of
something missing throughout the day. Bonbright did not know what he
felt the lack of--it was his identity.

"For the next month or so," said his father, "about all you can hope
to do is to become acquainted with the plant and with our methods.
Rangar will always be at your disposal to explain or to give you
desired information. I think it would be well if he were to conduct
you through the plant. It will give you a basis to work from."

"The plant is still growing, I see," said Bonbright. "It seems as if
a new building were being put up every time I come home."

"Yes, growing past the prophecy of any of our predecessors," said his
father. He paused. "I am not certain," he said, as one who asks a
question of his inner self, "but I would have preferred a slower,
more conservative growth."

"The automobile has done it, of course."

"Axles," said his father, with a hint of distaste. "The manufacturing
of rear axles has overshadowed everything else. We retain as much of
the old business--the manufacturing of machinery--as ever. Indeed,
THAT branch has shown a healthy growth. But axles! A mushroom that
has overgrown us in a night."

It was apparent that Bonbright Foote VI did not approve of axles, as
it was a known fact that he frowned upon automobiles. He would not
own one of them. They were too new, too blatant. His stables were
still stables. His coachman had not been transmuted into a chauffeur.
When he drove it was in a carriage drawn by horses--as his ancestors
had driven.

"Yes... yes..." he said, slowly, with satisfaction, "it is good to
have you in the business, son. It's a satisfaction to see you sitting
there. ... Now we must look about to find a suitable girl for you to
marry. We must begin to think about Bonbright Foote VIII." There was
no smile as he said this; the observation was made in sober earnest.
Bonbright saw that, just as his ancestors looked to him to carry on
the business, so they looked to him to produce with all convenient
dispatch a male successor to himself. It was, so to speak, an
important feature of his job.

"I'll send in Rangar," said his father, not waiting for Bonbright to
reply to the last suggestion, and walked with long-legged dignity out
of the room.

Bonbright rested his chin on his palm and stared gloomily at the
wall. He felt bound and helpless; he saw himself surrounded by firm
and dignified shades of departed Bonbright Footes whose collective
wills compelled him to this or prohibited that course of action.

Adventure, chance, were eliminated from his life. He was to be no
errant musician, improvising according to his mood; the score he was
to play was before him, and he must play it note for note, paying
strict attention to rests, keys, andantes, fortissimos, pianissimos.
He had been born to this, had been made conscious of his destiny from
babyhood, but never had he comprehended it as he did on this day of
his investiture.

Even the selection and courting of a mate, that greatest of all
adventures (to the young), was made humdrum. Doubtless his mother
already had selected the girl, and presently would marry him to her.
... Somehow this was the one phase of the situation that galled him
most.

"I'll see about that," he muttered, rebelliously, "I'll see about
that."

Not that marriage was of importance to him yet, except as a thing to
be avoided until some dim future. Women had not assumed consequence
to him; his relations with them had been scant surface relations.
They were creatures who did or did not please the eye, who did or did
not dance well, who did or did not amuse one. That was all. He was
only twenty-three.

Rangar, his father's secretary, and the man who stood as shield
between Bonbright Foote VI and unpleasant contacts with his business
and the world's business, entered. Rangar was a capable man whose
place as secretary to the head of the business did not measure his
importance in the organization. Another man of his abilities and
opportunity and position would have carried the title of general
manager or vice president--something respect-carrying. As for Rangar,
he was content. He drew the salary that would have accompanied those
other titles, possessed in an indirect sort of way the authority, and
yet managed to remain disentangled from the responsibilities. Had he
suddenly vanished the elder Foote would have been left suspended in
rarefied heights between heaven and his business, lacking direct
contact with the mills and machine shops and foundries; yet,
doubtless, would have been unable to realize that the loss of Rangar
had left him so. Rangar was a competent, efficient man, if peculiar
in his ambitions.

"Your father," said he, "has asked me to show you through the plant."

"Thank you--yes," said Bonbright, rising.

They went out, passing from the old, the family, wing of the office
building, into the larger, newer, general offices, made necessary by
the vastly increased business of the firm. Here, in a huge room, were
bookkeepers, stenographers, clerks, filing cabinets, desks,
typewriters--with several cubicles glassed off for the more important
employees and minor executives.

"We have tried," said Rangar, "to retain as far as possible the old
methods and systems. Your father, Mr. Foote, is conservative. He
clings to the ways of his father and his grandfather."

"I remember," said Bonbright, "when we had no typewriting machines."

"We had to come to them," said Rangar, with a note of regret. "Axles
compelled us. But we have never taken up with these new contraptions
--fads--like phonographs to dictate to, card indices, loose-leaf
systems, adding machines, and the like. Of course it requires more
clerks and stenographers, and possibly we are a bit slower than some.
Your father says, however, that he prefers conducting his business as
a gentleman should, rather than to make a mere machine of it. His
idea," said Rangar, "of a gentleman in business is one who refuses to
make use of abbreviations in his correspondence."

Bonbright was looking about the busy room, conscious that he was
being covertly studied by every occupant of it. It made him
uncomfortable, uneasy.

"Let's go on into the shops," he said, impatiently.

They turned, and encountered in the aisle a girl with a
stenographer's notebook in her hand; indeed, Bonbright all but
stepped on her. She was a slight, tiny thing, not thin, but small.
Her eyes met Bonbright's eyes and she grinned. No other word can
describe it. It was not an impertinent grin, nor a familiar grin, nor
a COMMON grin. It was spontaneous, unstudied--it lay at the opposite
end of the scale from Bonbright Foote VI's smile. Somehow the flash
of it COMFORTED Bonbright. His sensations responded to it. It was a
grin that radiated with well wishes for all the world. Bonbright
smiled back, awkwardly, and bobbed his head as she stepped aside for
him to pass.

"What a grin!" he said, presently.

"Oh," said Rangar. "Yes--to be sure. The Girl with the Grin--that's
what they call her in the office. She's always doing it. Your father
hasn't noticed. I hope he doesn't, for I'm sure he wouldn't like it."

"As if," said Bonbright to himself, "she were happy--and wanted
everybody else to be."

"I'm sure I don't know," said Rangar. "She's competent."

They passed outside and through a covered passageway into the older
of the shops. Bonbright was not thinking about the shops, but about
the girl. She was the only thing he had encountered that momentous
morning that had interested him, the only thing upon which Bonbright
Foote, Incorporated, had not set the stamp of its repressing
personality.

He tried to visualize her and her smile that he might experience
again that sensation of relief, of lightened spirit. In a measure he
was able to do so. Her mouth was large, he saw--no small mouth could
have managed that grin. She was not pretty, but, somehow, attractive.
Her eyes were bully; intelligent, humorous sort of eyes, he decided.

"Bet she's a darn nice kid," he concluded, boyishly. His father would
have been shocked at a thought expressed in such words.

"The business has done wonders these last five years," said Rangar,
intruding on Bonbright's thoughts. "Five years ago we employed less
than a thousand hands; to-day we have more than five thousand on the
payroll. Another few years and we shall have ten thousand."

"Axles?" asked Bonbright, mechanically.

"Axles," replied Rangar.

"Father doesn't approve of them--but they must be doing considerable
for the family bank account."

Rangar shot a quick glance at the boy, a glance with reproof in it
for such a flippancy. Vaguely he had heard that this young man had
done things not expected from a Foote; had, for instance, gone in for
athletics at the university. It was reported he had actually allowed
himself to be carried once on the shoulders of a cheering mob of
students! There were other rumors, also, which did not sit well on
the Foote tradition. Rangar wondered if at last a Foote had been born
into the family who was not off the old piece of cloth, who might,
indeed, prove difficult and disappointing. The flippancy indicated
it.

"Our inventory," he said, severely, "five years ago, showed a trifle
over a million dollars. To-day these mills would show a valuation of
five millions. The earnings," he added, "have increased in even
greater ratio."

"Hum," said Bonbright, his mind already elsewhere. His thought,
unspoken, was, "If we've got so blamed much, what's the use piling it
up?"

At noon they had not finished the inspection of the plant; it was
well toward five o'clock when they did so, for Rangar did his duty
conscientiously. His explanations were long, careful, technical.
Bonbright set his mind to the task and listened well. He was even
interested, for there were interesting things to see, processes
requiring skilled men, machines that had required inventive genius to
devise. He began to be oppressed by the bigness of it. The plant was
huge; it was enormously busy. The whole world seemed to need axles,
preferably Foote axles, and to need them in a hurry.

At last, a trifle dazed, startled by the vastness of the domain to
which he was heir apparent, Bonbright returned to the aloof quiet of
his historic room.

"I've a lot to learn," he told Rangar.

"It will grow on you. ... By the way, you will need a secretary."
(The Footes had secretaries, not stenographers.) "Shall I select one
for you?"

"Yes," said Bonbright, without interest; then he looked up quickly.
"No," he said, "I've selected my own. You say that girl--the one who
grinned--is competent?"

"Yes, indeed--but a girl! It has been the custom for the members of
the firm to employ only men."

Bonbright looked steadily at Rangar a moment, then said:

"Please have that girl notified at once that she is to be my
secretary."

"Yes, sir," said Rangar. The boy WAS going to prove difficult. He
owned a will. Well, thought the man, others may have had it in the
family before--but it has not remained long.

"Anything more, Mr. Foote?"

"Thank you, no," said Bonbright, and Rangar said good evening and
disappeared.

The boy rested his chin on his hand again, and reflected gloomily. He
hunched up his shoulders and sighed. "Anyhow," he said to himself,
"I'll have SOMEBODY around me who is human."




CHAPTER II


Bonbright's father had left the office an hour before he and Rangar
had finished their tour of the works. It was always his custom to
leave his business early and to retire to the library in his home,
where daily he devoted two hours to adding to the manuscript of The
Philosophical Biography of Marquis Lafayette. This work was
ultimately to appear in several severe volumes and was being written,
not so much to enlighten the world upon the details of the career of
the marquis as it was to utilize the marquis as a clotheshorse to be
dressed in Bonbright Foote VI's mature reflections on men, events,
and humanity at large.

Bonbright VII sat at his desk motionless, studying his career as it
lay circumscribed before him. He did not study it rebelliously, for
as yet rebellion had not occurred to him. The idea that he might
assert his individuality and depart from the family pattern had not
ventured to show its face. For too many years had his ancestors been
impressing him with his duty to the family traditions. He merely
studied it, as one who has no fancy for geometry will study geometry,
because it cannot be helped. The path was there, carefully staked out
and bordered; to-day his feet had been placed on it, and now he must
walk. As he sat he looked ahead for bypaths--none were visible.

The shutting-down whistle aroused him. He walked out through the
rapidly emptying office to the street, and there he stood, interested
by the spectacle of the army that poured out of the employees'
entrances. It was an inundation of men, flooding street from sidewalk
to sidewalk. It jostled and joked and scuffled, sweating, grimy, each
unit of it eager to board waiting, overcrowded street cars, where
acute discomfort would be suffered until distant destinations were
reached. Somehow the sight of that surging, tossing stream of
humanity impressed Bonbright with the magnitude of Bonbright Foote,
Incorporated, even more than the circuit of the immense plant had
done.

Five thousand men, in a newspaper paragraph, do not affect the
imagination. Five thousand men in the concrete are quite another
matter, especially if you suddenly realize that each of them has a
wife, probably children, and that the whole are dependent upon the
dynasty of which you are a member for their daily bread.

"Father and I," he said to himself, as the sudden shock of the idea
impacted against his consciousness, "are SUPPORTING that whole mob."

It gave him a sense of mightiness. It presented itself to him in that
instant that he was not a mere business man, no mere manufacturer,
but a commander of men--more than that, a lord over the destinies of
men. It was overwhelming. This realization of his potency made him
gasp. Bonbright was very young.

He turned, to be carried on by the current. Presently it was choked.
A stagnant pool of humanity formed around some center, pressing
toward it curiously. This center was a tiny park, about which the
street divided, and the center was a man standing on a barrel by the
side of a sign painted on cloth. The man was speaking in a loud,
clear voice, which was able to make itself perfectly audible even to
Bonbright on the extreme edge of the mass.

"You are helpless as individuals," the man was saying. "If one of you
has a grievance, what can he do?... Nothing. You are a flock of
sheep. ... If ALL of you have a grievance, what can you do? You are
still a pack of sheep. ... Bonbright Foote, Incorporated, owns you,
body and soul. ... Suppose this Foote who does you the favor to let
you earn millions for him--suppose he wants to buy his wife a diamond
necklace. ... What's to prevent him lowering your wages next week to
pay for it?... YOU couldn't stop him!... Why can an army beat a mob
of double its numbers? Because the army is ORGANIZED! Because the
army fights as one man for one object! ... You are a mob. Capital is
organized against you. ... How can you hope to defend yourselves? How
can you force a betterment of your conditions, of your wage? ... By
becoming an army--a labor army!... By organizing. ... That's why I'm
here, sent by the National Federation--to organize you. To show you
how to resist! ... To teach you how to make yourselves
irresistible!..." There were shouts and cheers which blotted out the
speaker's words. Then Bonbright heard him again:

"Bonbright Foote, Incorporated, is entitled to fair interest on the
money it has invested in its plant. It is entitled to a fair profit
on the raw materials it uses in manufacture. ... But how much of the
final cost of its axles does raw material represent? A fraction! What
gives the axles the rest of their value?... LABOR! You men are paid
two, three, some of you even four dollars a day--for your labor.
Bonbright Foote, Incorporated, adds a little pig iron to your labor,
and gives you a place to work in, and takes his millions of dollars a
year. ... Do you get your fair share?... You do NOT, and you will
never get a respectable fraction of your fair share till you
organize--and seize it."

There was more. Bonbright had never heard the like of it before and
it fascinated him. Here was a point of view that was new to him. What
did it mean? Vaguely he had heard of Socialism, of labor unions, of
the existence of a spirit of suspicion and discord between capital
and labor. Now he saw it, face uncovered starkly.

A moment before he had realized his power over these men; now he
perceived that these men, some of them, realized it even better than
he. ... Realized it and resented it; resented it and fought with all
the strength of their souls to undermine it and make it topple in
ruin.

His mind was a caldron into which cross currents of thought poured
and tossed. He had no experience to draw on. Here was a thing he was
being plunged into all unprepared. It had taken him unprepared, and
shaken him as he had never been shaken before. He turned away.

Half a dozen feet away he saw the Girl with the Grin--not grinning
now, but tense, pale, listening with her soul in her eyes, and with
the light of enthusiasm glowing beside it.

He walked to her side, touched her shoulder. ... It was
unpremeditated, something besides his own will had urged him to speak
to her.

"I don't understand it," he said, unsteadily.

"Your class never does," she replied, not sharply, not as a retort,
but merely as one states a fact to give enlightenment.

"My father," she said, "was killed leading the strikers at Homestead.
... The unions educated me."

"What is this man--this speaker--trying to do? Stir up a riot?"

She smiled. "No. He is an organizer sent by the National Federation.
... They're going to try to unionize our plant."

"Unionize?"

"Bonbright Foote, Incorporated," she said, "is a non-union shop."

"I didn't know," said he, after a brief pause. "I'm afraid I don't
understand these things. ... I suppose one should know about them if
he is to own a plant like ours." Again he paused while he fumbled for
an idea that was taking shape. "I suppose one should understand about
his employees just as much as he does about his machinery."

She looked at him with a touch of awakened interest. "Do you class
men with machinery?" she asked, well knowing that was not his
meaning. He did not reply. Presently he said:

"Rangar told you you were to be my secretary?"

"Yes, sir," she said, using that respectful form for the first time.
The relation of employer and employee had been re-established by his
words. "Thank you for the promotion."

"You understand what this is all about," he said. "I shall want to
ask you about it. ... Perhaps you even know the man who is speaking?"

"He boards with my mother," said she. "That was natural," she added,
"my father being who he was."

Bonbright turned and looked at the speaker with curiosity awakened as
to the man's personality. The man was young--under thirty, and
handsome in a black, curly, quasi-foreign manner.

Bonbright turned his eyes from the man to the girl at his side. "He
looks--" said Bonbright.

"How?" she asked, when it was apparent he was not going to finish.

"As if," he said, musingly, "he wouldn't be the man to call on for a
line smash in the last quarter of a tough game."

Suddenly the speech came to an end, and the crowd poured on.

"Good night," said the girl. "I must find Mr. Dulac. I promised I
would walk home with him."

"Good night," said Bonbright. "His name is Dulac?"

"Yes."

Men like Dulac--the work they were engaged upon--had not fallen
within the circle of Bonbright's experience. Bonbright's training and
instincts had all been aristocratic. At Harvard he had belonged to
the most exclusive clubs and had associated with youths of training
similar to his. In his athletics there had been something democratic,
but nothing to impress him with democracy. Where college broadens
some men by its contacts it had not broadened Bonbright, for his
contacts had been limited to individuals chipped from the same strata
as himself. ... In his home life, before going to college, this had
been even more marked. As some boys are taught arithmetic and table
manners, Bonbright had been taught veneration for his family,
appreciation for his position in the world, and to look upon himself
and the few associates of his circumscribed world as selected stock,
looked upon with especial favor and graciousness by the Creator of
the universe.

Therefore this sudden dip into reality set him shivering more than it
would another who entered the water by degrees. It upset him. ... The
man Dulac stirred to life in him something that was deeper than mere
curiosity.

"Miss--" said he, and paused. "I really don't know your name."

"Frazer," she supplied.

"Miss Frazer, I should like to meet this Dulac. Would you be
willing?"

She considered. It was an unusual request in unusual circumstances,
but why not? She looked up into his boyish face and smiled. "Why
not?" she said, aloud.

They pressed forward through the crowd until they reached Dulac,
standing beside his barrel, surrounded by a little knot of men. He
saw the girl approaching, and lifted his hand in acknowledgment of
her presence. Presently he came to her, casting a careless glance at
Bonbright.

"Mr. Dulac," she said, "Mr. Foote has been listening to your speech.
He wants to meet you."

"Foote!" said Dulac. "Not--"

"Mr. Bonbright Foote," said the girl.

Evidently the man was nonplussed. He stared at Bonbright, who
extended his hand. Dulac looked at it, took it mechanically.

"I heard what you were saying, Mr. Dulac," said Bonbright. "I had
never heard anything like it before--so I wanted to meet you."

Dulac recovered himself, perceived that here was an opportunity, and
spoke loudly so that the staring, interested workingmen, who now
surrounded them, could hear distinctly.

"I'm glad you were present," said he. "It is not often we workingmen
catch the ear of you employers so readily. You sit apart from your
men in comfortable offices or in luxurious homes, so they get little
opportunity to talk straight from the shoulder to you. ... Even if
they had the chance," he said, with a look about him, "they would not
dare. To be respectful and to show no resentment mean their bread and
butter."

"Resentment?" said Bonbright. "You see I am new to the business and
to this. What is it they resent?"

"They resent being exploited for the profit of men like yourself. ...
They resent your having the power of life and death over them. ..."

The girl stood looking from one man to the other; from Dulac, tall,
picturesquely handsome, flamboyant, conscious of the effect of each
word and gesture, to Bonbright, equally tall, something broader,
boyish, natural in his unease, his curiosity. She saw how like he was
to his slender, aristocratic father. She compared the courtesy of his
manner toward Dulac with Dulac's studied brusqueness, conscious that
the boy was natural, honest, really endeavoring to find out what this
thing was all about; equally conscious that Dulac was exercising the
tricks of the platform and utilizing the situation theatrically. Yet
he was utilizing it for a purpose with which she was heart and soul
in sympathy. It was right he should do so. ...

"I wish we might sit down and talk about it," said Bonbright. "There
seem to be two sides in the works, mine and father's--and the men. I
don't see why there should be, and I'd like to have you tell me. You
see, this is my first day in the business, so I don't understand my
own side of it, or why I should have a side--much less the side of
the men. I hadn't imagined anything of the sort. ... I wish you would
tell me all about it. Will you?"

The boy's tone was so genuine, his demeanor so simple and friendly,
that Dulac's weapons were quite snatched from his hands. A crowd of
the men he was sent to organize was looking on--a girl was looking
on. He felt the situation demanded he should show he was quite as
capable of courtesy as this young sprig of the aristocracy, for he
knew comparisons were being made between them.

"Why," said he, "certainly. ... I shall be glad to."

"Thank you," said Bonbright. "Good night." He turned to the girl and
lifted his hat. "Thank YOU," said he, and eyes in which there was no
unfriendliness followed him as he walked away, eyes of men whom Dulac
was recruiting for the army of the "other side" of the social
struggle.

He hurried home because he wanted to see his father and to discuss
this thing with him.

"If there is a conflict," he said to himself, "in our business,
workingmen against employer, I suppose I am on the employer's side.
THEY have their reasons. We must have our reasons, too. I must have
father explain it all to me."

His mother called to him as he was ascending the stairs:

"Be as quick as you can, Bonbright. We have guests at dinner to-
night."

"Some one I know?"

"I think not," His mother hesitated. "We were not acquainted when you
went to college, but they have become very prominent in the past four
years. ... Mr. and Mrs. Malcolm Lightener--and their daughter,"

Bonbright noticed the slight pause before the mention of the
daughter, and looked quickly at his mother. She looked as quickly
away.

"All right, mother," he said.

He went to his room with another disturbance added to the many that
disquieted him. Just as certainly as if his mother had put it into
words he knew she had selected this Lightener girl to be Mrs.
Bonbright Foote VII--and the mother of Bonbright Foote VIII.

"Confound it," he said, "it's started already. ... Dam Bonbright
Foote VIII!"




CHAPTER III


Bonbright dressed with a consciousness that he was to be on
exhibition. He wondered if the girl had done the same; if she, too,
knew why she was there and that it was her duty to make a favorable
impression on him, as it was his duty to attract her. It was
embarrassing. For a young man of twenty-three to realize that his
family expects him to make himself alluring to a desirable future
wife whom he has never seen is not calculated to soothe his nerves or
mantle him with calmness. He felt silly.

However, here HE was, and there SHE would be. There was nothing for
it but to put his best foot forward, now he was caught for the event,
but he vowed it would require more than ordinary skill to entrap him
for another similar occasion. It seemed to him at the moment that the
main object of his life thenceforward would be, as he expressed it,
"to duck" Miss Lightener.

When he went down the guests had arrived. His mother presented him,
using proudly her formula for such meetings, "Our son." Somehow it
always made him feel like an inanimate object of virtue--as if she
had said "our Rembrandt," or, "our Chippendale sideboard."

Mrs. Lightener did not impress him. Here was a quiet, motherly
personality, a personality to grow upon one through months and years.
At first meeting she seemed only a gray-haired, shy, silent sort of
person, not to be spoken of by herself as Mrs. Lightener, but in the
reflected rays of her husband, as Malcolm Lightener's wife.

But Malcolm Lightener--he dominated the room as the Laocoon group
would dominate a ten by twelve "parlor." His size was only a minor
element in that impression. True, he was as great in bulk as
Bonbright and his father rolled in one, towering inches above them,
and they were tall men. It was the jagged, dynamic, granite
personality of him that jutted out to meet one almost with physical
impact. You were conscious of meeting a force before you became
conscious of meeting a man. And yet, when you came to study his face
you found it wonderfully human-even with a trace of granite humor in
it.

Bonbright was really curious to meet this man, whose story had
reached him even in Harvard University. Here was a man who, in ten
years of such dogged determination as affected one almost with awe,
had turned a vision into concrete reality. In a day when the only
mechanical vehicles upon our streets were trolley cars, he had seen
those streets thronged with "horseless carriages." He had seen
streets packed from curb to curb with endless moving processions of
them. He had seen the nation abandon its legs and take to motor-
driven wheels. This had been his vision, and he had made it reality.

From the place of a master mechanic, at four dollars a day, he had
followed his vision, until the world acknowledged him one of her
richest men, one of her greatest geniuses for organization. In ten
years, lifting himself by his boot straps, he had promoted himself
from earnings of twelve hundred dollars a year to twelve million
dollars a year. ... He interested Bonbright as a great adventurer.

To Hilda Lightener he was presented last. He had expected, hoped, to
be unfavorably impressed; he had known he would be ill at ease, and
that any attempts he made at conversation would be stiff and stilted.
... It was some moments after his presentation when he realized he
felt none of these unpleasant things. She had shaken hands with him
boyishly; her eyes had twinkled into his--and he was at his ease.
Afterward he studied over the thing, but could not comprehend it. ...
It had been as if he were encountering, after a separation, a friend
of years--not a girl friend, but a friend with no complications of
sex.

She was tall, nearly as tall as Bonbright, and she favored her
father. Not that the granite was there. She was not beautiful, not
even pretty--but you liked her looks. Bonbright liked her looks.

At table Bonbright was seated facing Hilda Lightener. His father at
once took charge of the conversation, giving the boy a breathing
space to collect and appraise his impressions. Presently Mr. Foote
said, impressively:

"This is an important day in our family, Lightener. My son entered
the business this morning."

Lightener turned his massive, immobile face toward the boy, his
expression not inviting, yet the seeing might have marked the ghost
of a twinkle in his gray eyes.

"Um. ... Any corrections, amendments, or substitutions to offer?" he
demanded.

Bonbright looked at him, obviously not comprehending the sarcasm.

"Most young spriggins I take into MY business," said Lightener,
"think a whole day's experience equips them to take hold and make the
whole thing over. ... They can show me where I'm all wrong."

Bonbright smiled, not happily. He was not accustomed to this sort of
humor, and did not know how to respond to it.

"It was so big," he said. "It sort of weighed me down--yet--somehow I
didn't get interested till after the whistle blew."

Lightener grunted.

"That's what interests most of 'em--getting out of the place after
the whistle blows."

"Dad!" said Hilda. "What was it interested you then, Mr. Foote?"

"The men," said Bonbright--"that great mob of men pouring out of the
gates and filling the street. ... Somehow they seemed to stand for
the business more than all the buildings full of machinery. ... I
stood and watched them."

Interest kindled in Lightener's eyes. "Yes?" he prompted.

"It never occurred to me before that being at the head of a business
meant-meant commanding so many men ... meant exercising power over
all those lives. ... Then there were the wives and children at home.
..."

Bonbright's father leaned forward icily. "Son," he said, coldly, "you
haven't been picking up any queer notions in college?"

"Queer notions?"

"Socialistic, anarchistic notions. That sort of thing."

"I don't believe," said Bonbright, with utter honesty, "that I ever
gave the workingman a thought till to-day. ... That's why it hit me
so hard, probably."

"It hit you, eh?" said Lightener. He lifted his hand abruptly to
motion to silence Mr. Foote, who seemed about to interrupt. "Leave
the boy alone, Foote. ... This is interesting. Never saw just this
thing happen before. ... It hit you hard, eh?"

"It was the realization of the power of large employers of labor--
like father and yourself, sir."

"Was that all?"

"At first. ... Then there was a fellow on a barrel making a speech
about us. ... I listened, and found out the workingmen realize that
we are sort of czars or some such thing--and resent it. I supposed
things were different. This Dulac was sent here to organize our men
into a union--just why I didn't understand, but he promised to
explain it to me."

"WHAT?" demanded Bonbright Foote VI, approaching nearer than his wife
had ever seen him to losing his poise.

"You talked to him?" asked Hilda, leaning forward in her interest.

"I was introduced to him; I wanted to know. ... He was a handsome
fellow. Not a gentleman, of course--"

"Oh!" Lightener pounced on that expression. "Not a gentleman, eh? ...
Expect to find the Harvard manner in a man preaching riot from a
potato barrel? ... Well, well, what did he say? How did HE affect
you?"

"He seemed to think the men resented our power over them. Just how
correctly he stated their feeling I don't know, of course. They
cheered his speech, however. ... He said father had the power to buy
mother a diamond necklace to-morrow, and cut their wages to pay for
it--and they couldn't help themselves."

"Well--could they?"

"I don't know. I didn't understand it all, but it didn't seem right
that those men should feel that way toward us. I want to talk to
father about it--have him explain it to me."

Lightener chuckled and turned to Mr. Foote. "I don't suppose you
appreciate the humor of that, Foote, the way I do. He's coming to you
for an unbiased explanation of why your employees--feel that way. ...
Young fellow," he turned to Bonbright again--"I could come closer to
doing it than your father--because I was one of them once. I used to
come home with grease on my hands and a smudge on my nose, smelling
of sweat." Mrs. Foote repressed a shudder and lowered her eyes. "But
I couldn't be fair about it. Your father has no more chance of
explaining the thing to you--than my wife has of explaining the
theory of an internal-combustion engine. ... We employers can't do
it. We're on the other side. We can't see anything but our own side
of it."

"Come now, Lightener, I'm fair-minded. I've even given some study to
the motives of men."

"And you're writing a book." He shrugged his shoulders. "The sort of
philosophical reflections that go in books aren't the sort to answer
when you're up against the real thing in social unrest. ... In your
whole business life you've never really come into contact with your
men. Now be honest, have you?"

"I've always delegated that sort of thing to subordinates," said Mr.
Foote, stiffly.

"Which," retorted Mr. Lightener, "is one of the reasons for the
unrest. ... That's it. We don't understand what they're up against,
nor what we do to aggravate them."

"It's the inevitable warfare between capital and labor," said Mr.
Foote. "Jealousy is at the root of it; unsound theories, like this of
socialism, and too much freedom of speech make it all but
unbearable."

"Dulac said they must organize to be in condition to fight us."

"Organize," said Mr. Foote, contemptuously. "I'll have no unions in
my shop. There never have been unions and there never shall be. I'll
put a sudden stop to that. ... Pretty idea, when the men I pay wages
to, the men I feed and clothe, can dictate to me how I shall conduct
my affairs."

"Yes," said Lightener, "we automobile fellows are non-union, but how
long we can maintain it I don't know. They have their eyes on us and
they're mighty hungry."

"To-morrow morning," said Mr. Foote, "notices will appear in every
department stating that any man who affiliates with a labor union
will be summarily dismissed."

"Maybe that will end the thing this time, Foote, but it'll be back.
It 'll be back."

Hilda leaned forward again and whispered to Bonbright, "You're not
getting much enlightenment, are you?" Her eyes twinkled; it was like
her father's twinkle, but more charming.

"How," he asked, slowly, "are we ever to make anything of it if we,
on the employers' side, can't understand their point of view, and
they can't understand ours?"

Mrs. Foote arose. "Let's not take labor unions into the other room
with us," she said.

Bonbright and Hilda walked in together and immediately engaged in
comfortable conversation; not the sort of nonsense talk usually
resorted to by a young man and a young woman on their first meeting.
They had no awkwardness to overcome, nor was either striving to make
an impression on the other. Bonbright had forgotten who this girl
was, and why she was present, until he saw his mother and Mrs.
Lightener approach each other, cast covert glances in their
direction, and then observe something with evident pleasure.

"They seem attracted by each other," Mrs. Foote said.

"He's a nice boy," replied Mrs. Lightener. "I think you're right."

"An excellent beginning. Propinquity and opportunity ought to do the
rest. ... We can see to that."

Bonbright understood what they were saying as if he had heard it; bit
his lips and looked ruefully from the mothers to Hilda. Her eyes had
just swung from the same point to HIS face, and there was a dancing,
quizzical light in them. SHE understood, too. Bonbright blushed at
this realization.

"Isn't it funny?" said Hilda, with a little chuckle. "Mothers are
always doing it, though."

"What?" he asked, fatuously.

"Rubbish!" she said. "Don't pretend not to understand. I knew YOU
knew what was up the moment you came into the room and looked at me.
... You--dodged."

"I'm sure I didn't," he replied, thrown from his equilibrium by her
directness, her frankness, so like her father's landslide directness.

"Yes, you dodged. You had made up your mind never to be caught like
this again, hadn't you? To make it your life work to keep out of my
way?"

He dared to look at her directly, and was reassured.

"Something like that," he responded, with miraculous frankness for a
Foote.

"Just because they want us to we don't have to do it," she said,
reassuringly.

"I suppose not."

"Suppose?"

"I'm a Foote, you know, Bonbright Foote VII. I do things I'm told to
do. The last six generations have planned it all out for me. ... We
do things according to inherited schedules. ... Probably it sounds
funny to you, but you haven't any idea what pressure six generations
can bring to bear." He was talking jerkily, under stress of emotion.
He had never opened his mouth on this subject to a human being
before, had not believed it possible to be on such terms with anybody
as to permit him to unbosom himself. Yet here he was, baring his woes
to a girl he had known but an hour.

"Of course," she said, with her soft, throaty chuckle, "if you really
feel you have to. ... But I haven't any six generations forcing ME.
Or do you think yours will take me in hand?"

"It isn't a joke to me," he said. "How would you like it if the
unexpected--chance--had been carefully weeded out of your future?...
It makes things mighty flat and uninteresting. I'm all wrapped up in
family traditions and precedents so I can't wriggle--like an Indian
baby. ... Even THIS wouldn't be so rotten if it were myself they were
thinking about. But they're not. I'm only an incident in the family,
so far as this goes. ... It's Bonbright Foote VIII they're fussing
about. ... It's my duty to see to it there's a Bonbright Foote VIII
promptly."

She didn't sympathize with him, or call him "poor boy," as so many
less natural, less comprehending girls would have done.

"I haven't the least idea in the world," she said, "whether I'll ever
want to marry you or not--and you can't have a notion whether you'll
want me. Suppose we just don't bother about it? We can't avoid each
other--they'll see to that. We might as well be comfortably friendly,
and not go shying off from each other. If it should happen we do want
to marry each other--why, all right. But let's just forget it. I'm
sure I sha'n't marry you just because a lot of your ancestors want me
to. ... Folks don't fall in love to order--and you can put this away
carefully in your mind--when I marry it will be because I've fallen
in love."

"You're very like your father," he said.

"Rushing in where angels fear to tread, you mean? Yes, dad's more
direct than diplomatic, and I inherit it. ... Is it a bargain?"

"Bargain?"

"To be friends, and not let our mammas worry us. ... I like you."

"Really?" he asked, diffidently.

"Really," she said.

"I like you, too," he said, boyishly.

"We'll take in our Keep Off the Grass signs, then," she said. "Mother
and father seem to be going." She stood up and extended her hand.
"Good night, chum," she said. To herself she was saying what she was
too wise to say aloud: "Poor kid! A chum is what he needs."




CHAPTER IV


Bonbright's first day in the plant had carried no suggestion from his
father as to what his work was actually to be. He had merely walked
about, listening to Hangar's expositions of processes and systems.
After he was in bed that night he began to wonder what work would
fall to him. What work had it been the custom for the heir apparent
to perform? What work had his father and grandfather and great-
grandfather performed when their positions were his position to-
day?... Vaguely he recognized his incompetence to administer anything
of importance. Probably, little by little, detail by detail, matters
would be placed under his jurisdiction until he was safely
functioning in the family groove.

His dreams that night were of a reluctant, nightmarish passage down a
huge groove, a monotonous groove, whose smooth, insurmountable sides
offered no hint of variety. ... As he looked ahead he could see
nothing but this straight groove stretching into infinity. Always he
was disturbed and made wretched by a consciousness of movement, of
varied life and activity, of adventure, of thrill, outside the
groove, but invisible, unreachable. ... He strove to clamber up the
glassy sides, only to slip back, realizing the futility of the
EFFORT.

He breakfasted alone, before his father or mother was about, and left
the house on foot, driven by an aching restlessness. It was early.
The factory whistle had not yet blown when he reached the gates, but
already men carrying lunch boxes were arriving in a yawning, sleepy
stream. ... Now Bonbright knew why he had arisen early and why he had
come here. It was to see this flood of workmen again; to scrutinize
them, to puzzle over them and their motives and their unrest. He
leaned against the wall and watched.

He was recognized. Here and there a man offered him good morning with
a friendliness of tone that surprised Bonbright. A good many men
spoke to him respectfully; more regarded him curiously; some
hopefully. It was the occasional friendly smile that affected him.
One such smile from an older workman, a man of intelligent face, of
shrewd, gray eyes, caused Bonbright to move from his place to the
man's side.

"I don't know your name, of course," he said, diffidently.

"Hooper," said the man, pleasantly.

"The men seem to know me," Bonbright said. "I was a little surprised.
I only came yesterday, you know."

"Yes," said Hooper, "they know who you are."

"They seemed---almost friendly."

Hooper looked sharply at the young man. "It's because," said he,
"they're pinning hopes to you."

"Hopes?"

"Labor can't get anywhere until it makes friends in the ranks of the
employers," said Hooper. "I guess most of the men don't understand
that--even most of the leaders, but it's so. It's got to be so if we
get what we must have without a revolution."

Bonbright pondered this. "The men think I may be their friend?"

"Some saw you last night, and some heard you talk to Dulac. Most of
them have heard about it now."

"That was it?... Thank you, Mr. Hooper."

Bonbright went up to his office, where he stood at the window,
looking down upon the thickening stream of men as the minute for the
starting whistle approached. ... So he was of some importance, in the
eyes of the workingmen, at least! They saw hope in his friendship.
... He shrugged his shoulders. What could his friendship do for them?
He was impotent to help or harm. Bitterly he thought that if the men
wanted friendship that would be worth anything to them, they should
cultivate his dead forbears.

Presently he turned to his desk and wrote some personal letters--as a
distraction. He did not know what else to do. There was nothing
connected with the plant that he could set his hand to. It seemed to
him he was just present, like a blank wall, whose reason for
existence was merely to be in a certain place.

He was conscious of voices in his father's room, and after a time his
father entered and bade him a formal good morning. Bonbright was
acutely conscious of his father's distinguished, cultured,
aristocratic appearance. He was conscious of that manner which six
generations of repression and habit in a circumscribed orbit had
bestowed on Bonbright Foote VI. Bonbright was unconscious of the
great likeness between him and his father; of the fact that at his
father's age it would be difficult to tell them apart. Physically he
was out of the Bonbright Foote mold.

"Son," said Bonbright Foote VI, "you have made an unfortunate
beginning here. You have created an impression which we shall have to
eradicate promptly."

"I don't understand."

"It has been the habit of our family to hold aloof from our
employees. We do not come directly into contact with them.
Intercourse between us and them is invariably carried out through
intermediaries."

Bonbright waited for his father to continue.

"You are being discussed by every man in the shops. This is
peculiarly unfortunate at this moment, when a determined effort is
being made by organized labor to force unionism on us. The men have
the notion that you are not unfriendly toward unionism."

"I don't understand it," said Bonbright. "I don't know what my
feelings toward it may be."

"Your feelings toward it," said his father with decision, "are
distinctly unfriendly."

Again Bonbright was silent.

"Last evening," said his father, "you mingled with the men leaving
the shops. You did a thing no member of our family has ever done--
consented to an interview with a professional labor agitator."

"That is hardly the fact, sir. ... I asked for the interview."

"Which is worse. ... You even, as it is reported to me, agreed to
talk with this agitator at some future time."

"I asked him to explain things to me."

"Any explanations of labor conditions and demands I shall always be
glad to make. The thing I am trying to bring home to you is that the
men have gotten an absurd impression that you are in sympathy with
them. ... Young men sometimes come home from college with unsound
notions. Possibly you have picked up some socialistic nonsense. You
will have to rid yourself of it. Our family has always arrayed itself
squarely against such indefensible theories. ... But the thing to do
at once is to wipe out any silly ideas your indiscretion may have
aroused among our workingmen."

"But I am not sure--"

"When you have been in this business ten years I shall be glad to
listen to your matured ideas. Now your ideas--your actions at least-
must conform to the policy we have maintained for generations. I have
called some of our department heads to my room. I believe I hear them
assembling. Let us go in."

Bonbright followed his father mechanically. The next room contained
some ten or twelve subordinate executives who eyed Bonbright
curiously.

"Gentlemen," said the elder Foote, "this is my son, whom you may not
have met as yet. I wish to present him to you formally, and to tell
you that hereafter he and I share the final authority in this plant.
Decisions coming from this office are to be regarded as our joint
decisions--except in the case of an exception of immediate moment.
... As you know, a fresh and determined effort is afoot to unionize
this plant. My son and I have conferred on the matter, but I have
seen fit to let the decision rest with him-as to our policy and
course of action."

The men looked with renewed curiosity at the young man who stood,
white of face, with compressed lips and troubled eyes.

"My son has rightly determined to adhere to the policy established
many years ago. He has determined that unionism shall not be
permitted to enter Bonbright Foote, Incorporated. ... I state your
sentiments, do I not, my son?"

At the direct challenge Bonbright raised his eyes to his father's
face appealingly. "Father--" he said.

"I state your position?" his father said, sternly.

Against Bonbright's will he felt the accumulated power of the family
will, the family tradition. He had been reared in its shadow. Its
grip lay firm upon him. Struggle he might, but the strength to defy
was not yet in him. ... He surrendered, feeling that, somehow, his
private soul had been violated, his individuality rent from him.

"Yes," he said, faintly.

"The first step he has decided upon," said his father, "and one which
should be immediately repressive. It is to post in every room and
department of the shops printed notices to the effect that any man
who affiliates himself with organized labor, or who becomes a member
of a so-called trade-union, will be summarily dismissed from his
employment. ... That was the wording you suggested, was it not?"

"Yes," said Bonbright, this time without struggle.

"Hangar," said Mr. Foote, "my son directs that these cards be printed
AT ONCE, and put in place before noon. It can be done, can it not?"

"Yes, sir," said Rangar.

"I think that is all, gentlemen. ... You understand my son's
position, I believe, so that if anyone questions you can answer him
effectively?"

The department heads stirred uneasily. Some turned toward the door,
but one man cleared his throat.

"Well, Mr. Hawthorne?" said the head of the business.

"The men seem very determined this time. I'm afraid too severe action
on our part will make trouble."

"Trouble?"

"A strike," said Hawthorne. "We're loaded with contract orders, Mr.
Foote. A strike at this time--"

"Hangar," said Mr. Foote, sharply, "at the first sign of such a thing
take immediate steps to counteract it. ... Better still, proceed now
as if a strike were certain. These mills MUST continue
uninterruptedly. ... If these malcontents force a strike, Mr.
Hawthorne, we shall be able to deal with it. ... Good morning,
gentlemen."

The men filed out silently. It seemed as if they were apprehensive,
almost as if they ventured to disagree with the action of their
employers. But none voiced his disapproval.

Bonbright stood without motion beside his father's desk, his eyes on
the floor, his lips pressed together.

"There," said his father, with satisfaction, "I think that will set
you right."

"Right?... The men will think I was among them last night as a
spy!... They'll despise me. ... They'll think I wasn't honest with
them."

Bonbright Foote VI shrugged his shoulders. "Loyalty to your family,"
he said, "and to your order is rather more important than retaining
the good will of a mob of malcontents."

Bonbright turned, his shoulders dropping so that a more sympathetic
eye than his father's might have found itself moistening, and walked
slowly back to his room. He did not sit at his desk, but walked to
the window, where he rested his brow against his hand and looked out
upon as much of the world as he could see. ... It seemed large to
him, filled with promise, filled with interests, filled with
activities for HIM--if he could only be about them. But they were
held tantalizingly out of reach.

He was safe in his groove; had not slipped there gradually and
smoothly, but had been thrust roughly, by sudden attack, into it.

His young, healthy soul cried out in protest against the affront that
had been put upon it. Not that the issue itself had mattered so much,
but that it had been so handled, ruthlessly. Bonbright was no friend
to labor. He had merely been a surprised observer of certain
phenomena that had aroused him to thought. He did not feel that labor
was right and that his father was wrong. It might be his father was
very right. ... But labor was such a huge mass, and when a huge mass
seethes it is impressive. Possibly this mass was wrong; possibly its
seething must be stilled for the better interests of mankind.
Bonbright did not know. He had wanted to know; had wanted the
condition explained to him. Instead, he had been crushed into his
groove humiliatingly.

Bonbright was young, to be readily impressed. If his father had
received his uncertainty with kindliness and had answered his
hunger's demand for enlightenment with arguments and reasoning, the
crisis probably would have passed harmlessly. His father had seen fit
not to use diplomacy, but to assert autocratically the power of
Bonbright Foote, Incorporated. Bonbright's individuality had thought
to lift its head; it had been stamped back into its appointed,
circumscribed place.

He was not satisfied with himself. His time for protest had been when
he answered his father's challenge. The force against him had been
too great, or his own strength too weak. He had not measured up to
the moment, and this chagrined him.

"All I wanted," he muttered, "was to KNOW!"

His father called him, and he responded apathetically.

"Here are some letters," said Mr. Foote. "I have made notes upon each
one how it is to be answered. Be so good as to dictate the replies."

There it was again. He was not even to answer letters independently,
but to dictate to his secretary words put into his mouth by Bonbright
Foote, Incorporated.

"It will help you familiarize yourself with our routine," said his
father, "and your signature will apprise the recipients that
Bonbright Foote VII has entered the concern."

He returned to his desk and pressed the buzzer that would summon Ruth
Frazer with book and pencil. She entered almost instantly, and as
their eyes met she smiled her famous smile. It was a thing of light
and brightness, compelling response. In his mood it acted as a
stimulant to Bonbright.

"Thank you," he said, involuntarily.

"For what?" she asked, raising her brows.

"For--why, I'm sure I don't know," he said. "I don't know why I said
that. ... Will you take some letters, please?"

He began dictating slowly, laboriously. It was a new work to him, and
he went about it clumsily, stopping long between words to arrange his
thoughts. His attention strayed. He leaned back in his chair,
dictation forgotten for the moment, staring at Ruth Frazer without
really being conscious of her presence. She waited patiently.
Presently he leaned forward and addressed a question to her:

"Did you and Mr. Dulac mention me as you walked home?"

"Yes," she said.

"Would it be--impertinent," he asked, "to inquire what you said?"

She wrinkled her brows to aid recollection.

"Mr. Dulac," she replied, "wondered what you were up to. That was how
he expressed it. He thought it was peculiar--your asking to know
him."

"What did YOU think?"

"I didn't think it was peculiar at all. You"--she hesitated--"had
been taken sort of by surprise. Yes, that was it. And you wanted to
KNOW. I think you acted very naturally."

"Naturally!" he repeated after her. "Yes, I guess that must be where
I went wrong. I was natural. It is not right to be natural. You
should first find how you are expected to act--how it is planned for
you to act. Yourself--why, yourself doesn't count."

"What do you mean, Mr. Foote?"

"This morning," he said, bitterly, "cards with my name signed to them
have been placed, or will be placed, in every room of the works,
notifying the men that if they join a labor union they will be
discharged."

"Why--why--"

"I have made a statement that I am against labor unions."

She looked at him uncomprehendingly, but somehow compelled to
sympathize with him. He had passed through a bitter crisis of some
sort, she perceived.

"I am not interested in all those men--that army of men," he went on.
"I don't want to understand them. I don't want to come into contact
with them. I just want to sit here in my office and not be bothered
by such things. ... We have managers and superintendents and
officials to take care of labor matters. I don't want to talk to
Dulac about what he means, or why our men feel resentment toward us.
Please tell him I have no interest whatever in such things."

"Mr. Foote," she said, gently, "something has happened to you, hasn't
it? Something that has made you feel bitter and discouraged?"

"Nothing unusual--in my family--Miss Frazer. I've just been cut to
the Bonbright Foote pattern. I didn't fit my groove exactly--so I was
trimmed until I slipped into it. I'm in now."

A sudden tumult of shouts and cheers arose in the street under his
window; not the sound of a score of voices nor of a hundred, but a
sound of great volume. Ruth looked up, startled, frightened.
Bonbright stepped to the window. "It's only eleven o'clock," he said,
"but the men are all coming out. ... The whistle didn't blow. They're
cheering and capering and shaking hands with one another. What does
that mean, do you suppose?"

"I'm afraid," said Miss Frazer, "it's your placard."

"My placard?"

"The men had their choice between their unions and their jobs--and
they've stood by their unions."

"You mean--?"

"They've struck," said Ruth.




CHAPTER V


There are family traditions among the poor just as there are among
the rich. The families of working-men may cling as tenaciously to
their traditions as the descendants of an earl. In certain families
the sons are compelled by tradition to become bakers, in others
machinists; still other lowly family histories urge their members to
conduct of one sort or another. It is inherent in them to hold
certain beliefs regarding themselves. Here is a family whose
tradition is loyalty to another family which has employed the father,
son, grandfather; across the street may live a group whose peculiar
religion is to oppose all constituted authority and to uphold
anarchism. Theories and beliefs are handed down from generation to
generation until they assume the dignity of blood laws.

Bonbright was being wrenched to fit into the Foote tradition. Ruth
Frazer, his secretary, needed no alterations to conform to the
tradition of HER family. This was the leveling tradition; the
elevating of labor and the pulling down of capital until there was a
dead level of equality--or, perhaps, with labor a bit in the saddle.
Probably a remote ancestor of hers had been a member of an ancient
guild; perhaps one had risen with Wat Tyler. Not a man of the family,
for time beyond which the memory of man runneth not, but had been a
whole-souled, single-purposed labor man--trade-union man--extremist--
revolutionist. Her father had been killed in a labor riot--and
beatified by her. As the men of her family had been, so were the
women--so was she.

Rights of man, tyranny of capital, class consciousness had been
taught her with her nursery rhymes. She was a zealot. A charming
zealot with a soul that laughed and wanted all mankind to be happy
with it--a soul that translated itself by her famous grin.

When she thought of capital, of moneyed aristocracy in the mass and
in the abstract, she hated it. It was a thing to be uprooted, plotted
against, reviled. When she met a member of it in the body, and face
to face, as she was meeting Bonbright Foote, she could not hate. He
was a man, an individual. She could not withhold from him the heart-
warming flash of her smile, could not wish him harm. Somehow, in the
concrete, he became a part of mankind, and so entitled to happiness.

She was sincere. In her heart she prayed for the revolution. Her keen
brain could plan for the overthrow of the enemy and her soul could
sacrifice her body to help to bring it to pass. She believed. She had
faith. Her actions would be true to her faith even at a martyr cost.
But to an individual whom she saw face to face, let him be the very
head and front of the enemy, and she could not wish him personal
harm. To a psychologist this might have presented a complex problem.
To Ruth it presented no problem at all. It was a simple condition and
she lived it.

She was capable of hero worship, which, after all, is the keystone of
aristocracies. But her heroes were not warriors, adventurers,
conquerors of the world, conquerors of the world's wealth. They were
revolutionists. They were men who gave their lives and their
abilities to laboring for labor. ... Already she was inclining to
light the fires of her hero worship at the feet of the man Dulac.

Ruth Frazer's grin has been spoken of. It has been described as a
grin. That term may offend some sensitive eye as an epithet
applicable only to something common, vulgar. To smile is proper, may
even be aristocratic; only small boys and persons of slack breeding
are guilty of the grin. ... Ruth Frazer's grin was neither common nor
vulgar. It was warming, encouraging, bright with the flashing of a
quick mind, and withal sweet, womanly, delicious. Yet that it was a
grin cannot be denied. Enemies to the grin must make the most of it.

The grin was to be seen, for Dulac had just entered Ruth's mother's
parlor, and it glowed for him. The man seemed out of place in that
cottage parlor. He seemed out of place in any homelike room, in any
room not filled by an eager, sweating, radical crowd of men assembled
to hang upon his words. That was the place for him, the place nature
had created him to become. To see him standing alone any place, on
the street, in a hotel, affected one with the feeling that he was
exotic there, misplaced. He must be surrounded by his audience to be
RIGHT.

Something of this crossed Ruth's mind. No woman, seeing a possible
man, is without her sentimental speculation. She could not conceive
of Dulac in a HOME.

"It's been a day!" he said.

"Yes."

"Every skilled mechanic has struck," he said, with pride, as in a
personal achievement. "And most of the rest. To-night four thousand
out of their five thousand men were with us."

"It came so suddenly. Nobody thought of a strike this morning."

"We were better organized than they thought," he said, running his
hand through his thick, black hair, and throwing back his head.
"Better than I thought myself. ... I've always said fool employers
were the best friends we organizers have. The placard that young
booby slapped the men in the face with--that did it. ...That and his
spying on us last night."

"I'm sure he wasn't spying last night."

"Bosh! He was mighty quick to try to get our necks under his heel
this morning."

"I don't know what happened this morning," she said, slowly. "I'm his
secretary, you know. Something happened about that placard. I don't
believe he wanted it to go up."

"You're defending him? Of course. You're a girl and you're close to
the throne with a soft job. He's a good-looking kid in his namby-
pamby Harvard way, too."

"Mr. Dulac!...My job--I was going to ask you what I should do. I want
to help the men. I want them to feel that I'm with them, working for
them and praying for them. Ought I to quit, too--to join the strike?"

Dulac looked at her sharply, calculatingly. "No," he said, presently,
"you can do a lot more good where you are."

"Will there be trouble? I dread to think of rioting and maybe
bloodshed. It will be bad enough, anyhow--if it lasts long. The poor
women and children!"

"There'll be trouble if they try to turn a wheel or bring in scab
labor." He laughed, so that his white teeth showed. "The first thing
they did was to telephone for the police. I suppose this kid with a
whole day's experience in the business will be calling in strike
breakers and strong-arms and gunmen. ...Well, let him bring it down
on himself if he wants to. We're in this thing to win. It means
unionism breaking into this automobile game. This is just the
entering wedge."

"Won't the automobile manufacturers see that, too?" she asked. "Won't
the men have all their power and wealth to fight?"

Dulac shrugged his shoulders. "I guess the automobile world knows who
Dulac is to-night," he said, with gleaming eyes.

Somehow the boast became the man. It was perfectly in character with
his appearance, with his bearing. It did not impress Ruth as a brag;
it seemed a natural and ordinary thing for him to say.

"You've been here just two weeks," she said, a trifle breathlessly;
for he loomed big to her girlish eyes. "You've done all this in two
weeks."

He received the compliment indifferently. Perhaps that was a pose;
perhaps the ego of the man made him impervious even to compliments.
There are men so confident in their powers that a compliment always
falls short of their own estimate of themselves.

"It's a start--but all our work is only a start. It's preliminary,"
His voice became oratorical. "First we must unionize the world. Now
there are strong unions and weak unions--both arrayed against a
capital better organized and stronger than ever before in the world's
history. Unionism is primary instruction in revolution. We must teach
labor its power, and it is slow to learn. We must prepare, prepare,
prepare, and when all is ready we shall rise. Not one union, not the
unions of a state, of a country, but the unions of the
world...hundreds of millions of men who have been ground down by
aristocracies and wealth for generations. Then we shall have such an
overturning as shall make the French Revolution look like child's
play. ...A World's Republic--that's our aim; a World's Republic ruled
by labor!"

Her eyes glistened as he talked; she could visualize his vision,
could see a united world, cleansed of wars, of boundary lines; a
world where every man's chance of happiness was the equal of every
other man's chance; where wealth and poverty were abolished, from
which slums, degradation, starvation, the sordid wickednesses
compelled by poverty, should have vanished. She could see a world of
peace, plenty, beauty.

It was for this high aim that Dulac worked. His stature increased.
She marveled that such a man could waste his thoughts upon her. She
idealized him; her soul prostrated itself before him.

So much of accomplishment lay behind him--and he not yet thirty years
old! The confidence reposed in him by labor was eloquently testified
to by the sending of him to this important post on the battle line.
Already he had justified that confidence. With years and experience
what heights might he not climb!...This was Ruth's thought. Beside
Dulac's belief in himself and his future it was colorless.

Dulac had been an inmate of the Frazer cottage two weeks. In that
time he had not once stepped out of his character. If his attitude
toward the world were a pose it had become so habitual as to require
no objective prompting or effort to maintain. This character was that
of the leader of men, the zealot for the cause of the under dog. It
held him aloof from personal concerns. Individual affairs did not
touch him, but functioned unnoticed on a plane below his clouds. Not
for an instant had he sought the friendship of Ruth and her mother,
not to establish relations of friendship with them. He was devoted to
a cause, and the cause left no room in his life for smaller matters.
He was a man apart.

Now he was awkwardly tugging something from his pocket. Almost
diffidently he offered it to Ruth. It was a small box of candy.

"Here..." he said, clumsily.

"For me!" Ruth was overpowered. This demigod had brought HER a gift.
He had thought about her--insignificant her! True, she had talked
with him, had even taken walks with him, but those things had not
been significant. It had seemed he merely condescended to the
daughter of a martyr to his cause. He had been paying a tribute to
her father. But a gift--a personal gift such as any young man might
make to a girl whose favor he sought! Could it mean...?

Then she saw that he was embarrassed, actually embarrassed before
her, and she was ashamed of herself for it. But she saw, too, that in
him was a human man, a man with fears and sensations and desires and
weaknesses like other men. After all, a demigod is only half of
Olympus.

"Thank you," she said. "Thank you SO much."

"You're not--offended?"

He was recovering himself. In an instant he was back again in
character.

"We men," he said, "who are devoted to the Cause have little time in
our lives for such things. The Cause demands all. When we go into it
we give up much that other men enjoy. We are wanderers. We have no
homes. We can't AFFORD to have homes. ...I," he said, it proudly,
"have been in jail more than once. A man cannot ask a woman to share
such a life. A man who leads such a life has no place in it for a
woman."

"I should think," she said, "that women would be proud to share such
a life. To know they were helping a little! To know they were making
one comfortable spot for you to come to and rest when you were tired
or discouraged. ..."

"Comforts are not for us," he said, theatrically, yet he did not seem
theatrical to her, only nobly self-sacrificing.

"It isn't right," she said, passionately. "The poorest laborer has
more than you. He has his home and his family. No matter how poor he
is, no matter what he suffers, he has some compensations. ...And you
--you're giving your life and everything in life that's bright and
beautiful for that laborer."

"The happiness of one man buying the happiness of millions," he said,
his black eyes glowing. "Yet sometimes we have our weak moments. We
see and we desire."

"And are entitled to possess," she said.

His eyes glowed upon her hungrily--she read the hunger in them,
hunger for HER! It frightened her, yet it made her heart leap with
pride. To be looked upon with favor by such a man!

"Some women," he said, slowly, "might live through it. There are
women big enough and strong enough--a few, maybe. Big enough to
endure neglect and loneliness; to live and not know if their husbands
would sleep at home that night or in a jail or be in the middle of a
riot on the other side of the world! They could not even depend on
their husbands for support. ...A few might not complain, might be
able to endure. ...You, Miss Ruth--I believe you are one of them!"

Her cheeks paled. Was he--could he be about to ask her to share his
life? It was impossible! Yet what else could he mean? To what else
could his words be tending? She was awed, frightened--yet warmed by a
surge of pride. She thought of her father. ...If he could see and
know! If knowledge could only pass to him that his daughter had been
thought worthy by such a man to play her part for the Cause!...She
waited tensely, hand pressed to her bosom.

Dulac stepped toward her, barbarically handsome. She felt the force,
the magnetism of him. It called to her, compelled her. ...She could
not lift her eyes.

Slowly he approached another step. It was as though he were forced to
her against his will. The silence in the room was the tense silence
of a human crisis. ...Then it was broken ruthlessly. There came a
pounding on the door that was not a knock, but an alarm. It was
imperative, excited, ominous.

"Oh..." Ruth cried.

Her mother was opening the door.

"Dulac! Where's Dulac?" a man's voice demanded.

"Here," he replied. "What is it?"

"O'Hagan's in town," the man panted, rushing into the room. "They've
brought in O'Hagan and his gang of bullies."

O'Hagan, king of strike breakers! Ruth knew that name well, and what
the arrival of the man of evil omen foretold. It promised violence,
riot, bloodshed, suffering.

"They're going to try to run, then," said Dulac, calmly.

"The police have escorted a mob of scabs into the mill yards. They've
tried to drive away our pickets. They've locked up Higgins and Bowen.
Got Mason, too, but the crowd took him away from the police."

"It's on their own heads," said Dulac, solemnly. "I'll come with
you." He turned to Ruth and took her hand. "You see," he said, "it
calls me away--even from a moment like that. ..."




CHAPTER VI


Malcolm Lightener was not a man to send messages nor to depend upon
telephones. He was as direct as a catapult, and was just as regardful
of ceremony. The fact that it was his and everybody else's dinner
hour did not hold him back an instant from having himself driven to
the Foote residence and demanding instant speech with Mr. Foote.

Mr. Foote, knowing Lightener, shrugged his shoulders and motioned
Bonbright to follow him from the table.

"If we asked him to be seated and wait," said he, "Lightener would
burst into the dining room."

They found their visitor not seated, but standing like a granite
monolith in the center of the library.

"Well," he said, observing no formalities of greeting, "you've
chucked a brick into the hornets' nest."

"Won't you be seated?" asked Mr. Foote, with dignified courtesy.

"Seated? No, I've got no time for seats, and neither have you, if you
would wake up to it. Do you know what you've done with your
bullheadedness? You've rammed the automobile manufacturers up against
a crisis they've been dodging for years. Needlessly. There was no
more need for this strike at this time than there is for fur
overcoats in hell. But just when the hornets were stirred up and
buzzing, you had to heave your brick. ... And now we've got to back
your play."

"I am not aware," said Mr. Foote, icily, "that we have asked
assistance."

"If the house next to mine catches fire the owner doesn't have to
holler to me for help. I've got to help to keep the blaze from
spreading to my own house. ... You've never thought beyond the
boundaries of Bonbright Foote, Incorporated--that's what's the matter
with you. You're hidebound. A blind man could see the unions look at
this thing as their entering wedge into the automobile industry. If
they break into you they'll break into us. So we've got to stop 'em
short."

"If we need any help--" Mr. Foote began.

"Whether you need it or whether you want it," said Lightener, "you
get it."

"Let me point out to you," said Mr. Foote, with chilly courtesy,
"that my family has been able to manage its business for several
generations--with some small success. ... Our relations with our
employees are our own concern, and we shall tolerate no interference.
... I have placed my son in complete charge of this situation, with
confidence that he will handle it adequately."

"Huh!" grunted Lightener, glancing at Bonbright. "I heard about THAT.
... What I came to say principally was: This thing can be headed off
now if you go at it with common sense. Make concessions. Get to this
Dulac. You can get your men back to work--and break up this union
thing."

"Mr. Lightener, our course is decided on. We shall make no
concessions. My son has retained O'Hagan, the strike breaker. To-
morrow morning the mills start up as usual, with new men. We have
them camped in the yards now. There shall be no compromising. When we
have the strikers whipped into their places we'll talk to them--not
before."

"What's the idea of putting up the boy as stalking horse? What do you
expect to get by hiding behind him?"

"My son was indiscreet. He created a misapprehension among the men as
to his attitude toward labor. I am merely setting them right."

"And sewing a fine crop of hatred for the boy to reap."

Mr. Foote shrugged his shoulders "The position of my family has not
been doubtful since the inception of our business. I do not propose
that my son shall make it so. Our traditions must be maintained."

"If you'd junk a few traditions," said Lightener, "and import a
little modern efficiency--and human understanding of human beings--
you might get somewhere. You quit developing with that first ancestor
of yours. If the last hundred years or so haven't been wasted,
there's been some progress. You're wabbling along in a stage coach
when other folks use express trains. ... When I met the boy here last
night, I thought he was whittled off a different stick from the rest
of you. ... I guess he was, too. But you're tying a string of
ancestors around his neck and squeezing him into their likeness."

"My son knows his duty to his family," said Mr. Foote.

"I didn't have a family to owe duty to, thank God," said Lightener,
"but I spent quite some time figuring out my duty to myself. ... You
won't listen to reason, eh? You're going to bull this thing through?"

"My son will act as my son should act," said Mr. Foote.

Lightener turned to where Bonbright stood with set face and eyes that
smoldered, and studied him with an eye accustomed to judging men.

"There'll be rioting," he said. "Probably there'll be bloodshed.
There'll certainly be a devil of a lot of suffering. Your father is
putting the responsibility for it on your shoulders, young fellow.
Does that set comfortably on your mind?"

Bonbright was slow to answer. His position was difficult, for it
seemed to him he was being asked by a stranger to criticize his
father and his family. His own unrest under the conditions which were
forced upon him was not to be mentioned. The major point--the
conflict between capital as represented by Bonbright Foote,
Incorporated, and labor--as represented by the striking employees--he
did not understand. He had wanted to understand it; he had felt a
human interest in the men, but this was forbidden to him. ...
Whatever he felt, whatever he thought, whatever dread he might have
of the future as it impended over himself--he must be loyal to his
name. So when he spoke it was to say in a singularly unboyish voice:

"My father has spoken for me, Mr. Lightener."

For the first time Lightener smiled. He laid a heavy hand on
Bonbright's shoulder. "That was well done, my boy," he said.
Bonbright was grateful for his understanding.

A servant appeared. "Mr. Bonbright is wanted on the telephone," she
said.

It was Rangar. "There's rioting at the plant," the man said,
unemotionally. "I have notified the police and taken the necessary
steps."

"Very well," said Bonbright. He walked to the library, and, standing
in the door, stirred by excitement so that his knees quivered and a
great emptiness was within him, he said to his father, "There's
rioting at the plant, sir."

Then he turned, put on his coat and hat, and quietly left the house.

There was rioting at the mills! Bonbright was going to see what
rioting was like, what it meant. It was no impulse, no boyish spirit
of adventure or curiosity, that was taking him, but a command. No
sooner had Rangar spoken the words over the telephone than Bonbright
knew he must go.

"Whatever is happening," he said to himself, "I'm going to be blamed
for it."

With some vague juvenile notion of making himself unrecognizable he
turned up the collar of his coat and pulled down his cap. ...

When still some blocks from the mills a patrol wagon filled with
officers careened past him, its gong emitting a staccato, exciting
alarm. Here was reality. Bonbright quickened his step; began to run.
Presently he entered the street that lay before the face of the
factory--a street lighted by arc lamps so that the scene was
adequately visible. As far as the main gates into the factory yards
the street was in the possession of the police; beyond them surged
and clamored the mob, not yet wrought to the pitch of attack.
Bonbright thought of a gate around the corner. He would enter this
and ascend to his office, whence he could watch the street from his
window.

Before the gate a man sat on a soap box, a short club dangling by a
thong from his wrist. As Bonbright approached he arose.

"What you want?" he demanded, taking a businesslike grip on his
weapon.

"I want to go in," said Bonbright. "I'm Mr. Foote."

The man grinned. "To be sure, Mr. Foote. Howdy, Mr. Foote. You'll be
glad to meet me. I'm Santa Claus."

"I tell you I'm Mr. Foote. I want to go inside."

"And I tell you," said the man, suddenly dropping his grin, "to beat
it--while you're able."

Youthful rage sent its instant heat through Bonbright. For an instant
he meditated jerking the man from that gate by the nape of the neck
and teaching him a lesson with his athletic foot. ... It was not fear
of the result that deterred him; it was the thought that this man was
his own employee, placed there by him for this very purpose. If the
guard made HIM bristle with rage, how would the sight of the man and
his club affect the strikers? He was a challenge and an insult, an
invitation to violence. Bonbright turned and walked away, followed by
a derisive guffaw from the strike breaker.

Bonbright retraced his steps and approached the rear of the police.
Here he was stopped by an officer.

"Where you goin'?"

"I'm Mr. Foote," said Bonbright. "I want to see what's happening."

"I can't help it if you're Mr. Roosevelt, you can't go any farther
than this. ... Now GIT." He gave Bonbright a violent and unexpected
shove, which almost sent the young man off his feet. He staggered,
recovered himself, and stood glowering at the officer. "Move!" came
the short command, and once more burning with indignation, he obeyed.
Here was another man acting in his behalf, summoned to his help. It
was thus the police behaved, roughly, intolerantly, neither asking
nor accepting explanations. It did not seem to Bonbright this could
be the right way to meet the emergency. It seemed to him calculated
only to aggravate it. The application of brute force might conquer a
mob or stifle a riot, but it would leave unquenched fires of
animosity. A violent operation may be necessary to remove a malignant
growth. It may be the only possible cure; but no physician would hope
to cure typhoid fever by knocking the patient insensible with a club.
True, the delirium would cease for a time, but the deep-seated
ailment would remain and the patient only be the worse for the
treatment. ... Here the disease was disagreement, misunderstanding,
suspicion, bitterness of heart between employer and employees.
Neither hired strike breaker nor policeman's baton could get to the
root of it. ... Yet he, Bonbright Foote VII, was the man held out to
all the world as favoring this treatment, as authorizing it, as
ordering it!

He walked quite around the block, approaching again on a side street
that brought him back again just ahead of the police. This street was
blocked by excited, restless, crowding, jeering men, but Bonbright
wormed his way through and climbed upon a porch from which he could
see over the heads of the foremost to where a line of police and the
front rank of strikers faced each other across a vacant space of
pavement, the square at the intersection of the streets.

Behind him a hatless man in a high state of excitement was making an
inflammatory speech from a doorstep. He was urging the mob to charge
the police, to trample them under. ... Bonbright leaned far over the
railing so he could look down the street where the main body of the
mob was assembled. There was another speaker. Bonbright recognized
Dulac--and Dulac, with all his eloquence, was urging the men to
disperse to their homes in quiet. Bonbright listened. The man was
talking sense! He was pointing out the folly of mob violence! He was
showing them that it achieved nothing. ... But the mob was beyond the
control of wise counsel. Possibly the feet of many had pressed brass
rails while elbows crooked. Certainly there was present a leaven of
toughs, idlers, in no way connected with the business, but sent by
the devil to add to the horror of it.

One of these, discreetly distant from the front, hurled half a brick
into the line of police. It was a vicious suggestion. Other bricks
and missiles followed, while the crowd surged forward. Suddenly the
line of patrolmen opened to let through a squad of mounted police,
who charged the mob. ... It was a thing requiring courage, but a
thing ordered by an imbecile.

Horses and men plunged into that dammed river of men. ... It was a
scene Bonbright could never erase from his memory, yet never could
have described. It was a nightmare, a sensation of dread rather than
a scene of fierce, implacable action.

The police drew back. The strikers hesitated. ... Between them, on
the square of pavement, lay quiet, or writhing in pain, half a dozen
human forms. ... Bonbright, his face colorless as those who lay
below, stared at the bodies. For this that he saw he would be held
responsible by the world. ...

He ran down the steps and began struggling through the mob. "Let me
through. ... Let me through," he panted.

He broke through to the front, not moved by reason, but quivering
with the horror of the sight of men needlessly slain or maimed. ...
He must do something. He must stop it!

Then he Was recognized. "It's young Foote," a man shouted, and
snatched at his shoulder. He shook the man off, but the cry was taken
up. "It's Foote--young Foote. ... Spying again."

Men sprang upon him, but he turned furiously and hurled them back.
They must not stop him. He must not be interfered with, because he
had to put an end to this thing. The mob surged about him, striking,
threatening, so that he had to turn his face toward them, to strike
out with his fists. More than one man went down under his blows
before he could break away and run toward the police.

"See what you've done," he shouted in their faces. "This must stop."
He advanced another step, as if to force the mounted officers to
retreat.

"Grab him," ordered a sergeant.

Bonbright was promptly grabbed and hauled through the line of mounted
police, to be thrown into the arms of waiting patrolmen. He fought as
strength was given him to fight, but they carried him ungently and
hurled him asprawl upon the floor of a patrol wagon, already well
occupied by arrests from the mob.

"Git 'em to the station," the driver was ordered, and off lurched the
patrol wagon.

That rapid ride brought cooling to Bonbright's head. He had made a
fool of himself. He was ashamed, humiliated, and to be humiliated is
no minor torture to a young man.

Instead of giving his name to the lieutenant on the desk he refused
to give a name, and was entered as John Doe. It was his confused
thought to save his family from publicity and disgrace. ... So he
knew what it was to have barred doors shut upon him, to be alone in a
square cell whose only furnishing was a sort of bench across one end.
He sank upon this apathetically and waited for what morning should
bring.




CHAPTER VII


The world owes no small part of its advancement to the reflections of
men in jails.

Bonbright, alone in the darkness of his cell, was admirably situated
for concentrated thought. All through the sleepless night he reviewed
facts and theories and conditions. He reached few definite
conclusions, and these more boyish than mature; he achieved to no
satisfaction with himself. His one profound conclusion was that
everything was wrong. Capital was wrong, labor was wrong; the whole
basis upon which society is organized was wrong. It was an
exceedingly sweeping conclusion, embracing EVERYTHING. He discerned
no ray of light.

He studied his own conduct, but could convince himself of no
voluntary wrongdoing. Yet he was in a cell. ... In the beginning he
had merely tried to understand something that aroused his curiosity--
labor. From the point of view of capital, as represented by his
father, this had been a sin. How or why it was a sin he could not
comprehend. ... Labor had been willing to be friendly, but now it
hated him. Orders given in his name, but not originating in his will,
had caused this. His attitude became fatalistic--he was being moved
about by a ruthless hand without regard to his own volition. He might
as well close his eyes and his mind and submit, for Bonbright Foote
VII did not exist as a rational human individual, but only as a
checker on the board, to be moved from square to square with such
success or error as the player possessed.

Last night. ... He had been mishandled by the employees of capital
and the guardians of society; he had been mobbed by labor. He
resented the guard and the police, but could not resent the mobbing.
... He seemed to be dangling between two worlds, mishandled by either
that he approached. But one fact he realized--labor would have none
of him. His father had seen to that. There was no place for him to go
but into the refuge of capital, and so to become an enemy to labor
against which he had no quarrel. ... This night set him more deeply
in the Bonbright Foote groove. There was nothing for him now but
complete submission, apathetic submission.

If it must be so, it must be so. He would let the family current bear
him on. He would be but another Bonbright Foote, differentiated from
the others only by a numeral to designate his generation.

Singularly, his own immediate problem did not present itself
insistently until daylight began to penetrate the murk of the cell.
What would the authorities do with him? How was he to get his
liberty? Would the thing become public? He felt his helplessness, his
inadequacy. He could not ask his father to help him, for he did not
want his father ever to know what had happened the night before, yet
he must have help from some one. Suddenly the name of Malcolm
Lightener occurred to him.

After a time the doorman appeared with breakfast.

"Can I send a message?" asked Bonbright.

The doorman scrutinized him, saw he was no bum of the streets, but
quite evidently a gentleman in temporary difficulty.

"Maybe," he said, grudgingly. "Gimme the message and I'll see."

"Please telephone Mr. Malcolm Lightener that the younger of the
gentlemen he called on last evening is here and would like to see
him."

"Malcolm Lightener, the automobile feller?"

"Yes."

"Friend of your'n?"

"Yes."

"Um!..." The doorman disappeared to return presently with the
lieutenant.

"What's this about Malcolm Lightener?" the officer asked.

"I gave the man here a message for him," said Bonbright.

"Is it on the level? You know Lightener?"

"Yes," said Bonbright, impatiently.

"Then what the devil did you stay here all night for? Why didn't you
have him notified last night? Looks darn fishy to me."

"It will do no harm to deliver my message," said Bonbright.

"Huh!... Let him out." The doorman swung wide the barred door and the
lieutenant motioned Bonbright out. "Come and set in the office," he
said. "Maybe you'd rather telephone yourself?"

"If I might," said Bonbright, amazed at the potency of Lightener's
name to open cell doors and command the courtesy of the police. It
was his first encounter with Influence.

He was conducted into a small office; then the lieutenant retired
discreetly and shut the door. Bonbright made his call and asked for
speech with Malcolm Lightener.

"Hello!... Hello!" came Lightener's gruff voice. "What is it?"

"This is Bonbright Foote. ... I'm locked up in the Central Station. I
wonder if you can't help me somehow?"

There was a moment's silence; then Bonbright heard a remark not
intended for his ears but expressive of Lightener's astonishment,
"Well, I'm DARNED!" Then: "I'll be right there. Hold the fort."

Bonbright opened the door and said to the lieutenant, "Mr.
Lightener's on his way down."

"Um!... Make yourself comfortable. Say, was that breakfast all right?
Find cigars in that top drawer." The magic of Influence!

In twenty minutes Lightener's huge form pushed through the station
door. "Morning, Lieutenant. Got a friend of mine here?"

"Didn't know he was a friend of yours, Mr. Lightener. He wouldn't
give his name, and never asked to have you notified till this
morning. ... He's in my office there."

Lightener strode into the room and shut the door.

"Well?" he demanded.

Breathlessly, almost without pause, Bonbright poured upon him an
account of last night's happenings, making no concealments,
unconsciously giving Lightener glimpses into his heart that made the
big man bend his brows ominously. The boy did not explain; did not
mention accusingly his father, but Lightener understood perfectly
what the process of molding Bonbright was being subjected to. He made
no comment.

"I don't want father to know this," Bonbright said. "If it can be
kept out of the papers. ... Father wouldn't understand. He'd feel I
had disgraced the family."

"Doggone the family," snapped Lightener. "Come on."

Bonbright followed him out.

"May I take him along, Lieutenant? I'll fix it with the judge if
necessary. ... And say, happen to recognize him?"

"Never saw him before."

"If any of the newspaper boys come snoopin' around, you never saw me,
either. Much obliged, Lieutenant."

"You're welcome, Mr. Lightener. Glad I kin accommodate you."

Lightener pushed Bonbright into his limousine. "You don't want to go
home, I guess. We'll go to my house. Mother'll see you get breakfast.
... Then we'll have a talk. ... Here's a paper boy; let's see what's
doing."

It was the morning penny paper that Lightener bought, the paper with
leanings toward the proletariat, the veiled champion of labor. He
bought it daily.

"Huh!" he grunted, as he scanned the first page. "They kind of allude
to you."

Bonbright looked. He saw a two-column head:

YOUNG MILLIONAIRE URGES ON POLICE

The next pyramid contained his name; the story related how he had
rushed frantically to the police after they had barbarously charged a
harmless gathering of workingmen, trampling and maiming half a dozen,
and had demanded that they charge again. It was a long story, with
infinite detail, crucifying him with cheap ink; making him appear a
ruthless, heartless monster, lusting for the spilled blood of the
innocent.

Bonbright looked up to meet Lightener's eyes.

"It--it isn't fair," he said, chokingly.

"Fairness," said Lightener, almost with gentleness, "is expected only
when we are young."

"But I didn't. ... I tried to stop them."

"Don't try to tell anybody so--you won't be believed."

"I'm going to tell somebody," said Bonbright, his mind flashing to
Ruth Frazer, "and I'm going to be believed. I've got to be believed."

After a while he said: "I wasn't taking sides. I just went there to
see. If I've got to hire men all my life I want to understand them."

"You've got to take sides, son. There's no straddling the fence in
this world. ... And as soon as you've taken sides your own side is
all you'll understand. Nobody ever understood the other side."

"But can't there ever be an understanding? Won't capital ever
understand labor, or labor capital?"

"I suppose a philosopher would say there is no difference upon which
agreement can't be reached; that there must somewhere be a common
meeting ground. ... The Bible says the lion shall lie down with the
lamb, but I don't expect to live to see him do it without worrying
some about the lion's teeth."

"It's one man holding power over other men," said Bonbright.

As the car stopped at Malcolm Lightener's door, sudden panic seized
Bonbright.

"I ought not to come here," he said, "after last night. Mrs.
Lightener... your daughter."

"I'll bet Hilda's worrying you more than her mother. Nonsense! They
both got sense."

Certainly Mrs. Lightener had.

"Just got him out of the police station," her husband said as he led
the uncomfortable Bonbright into her presence. "Been shut up all
night. ... Rioting--that's what he's been doing. Throwing stones at
the cops."

Mrs. Lightener looked at Bonbright's pale, weary, worried face. "You
let him be, Malcolm. ... Never mind HIM," she said to the boy. "You
just go right upstairs with him. A warm bath and breakfast are what
you need. You don't look as if you'd slept a WINK."

"I haven't," he confessed.

When Bonbright emerged from the bath he found the motherly woman had
sent out to the haberdashers for fresh shirt, collar, and tie. He
donned them with the first surge of genuine gratefulness he had ever
known. Of course he had said thank you prettily, and had thought he
felt thanks. ... Now he knew he had not.

"Guess you won't be afraid to face Hilda now," said Lightener,
entering the room. "I notice a soiled collar is worn with a heap more
misgiving than a soiled conscience. ... Grapefruit, two soft-boiled
eggs, toast, coffee. ... Some prescription."

Hilda was in the library, and greeted him as though it were an
ordinary occurrence to have a young man just out of the cell block as
a breakfast guest. She did not refer to it, nor did her father at the
moment. Bonbright was grateful again.

After breakfast the boy and girl were left alone in the library,
briefly.

"I'm ashamed," said Bonbright, chokingly.

"You needn't be," she said. "Dad told us all about it. I thought the
other night I should like you. Now I'm sure of it." She owned her
father's directness.

"You're good," he said.

"No--reasonable," she answered.

He sat silent, thinking. "Do you know," he said, presently, "what a
lot girls have to do with making a fellow's life endurable?... Since
I went to work I--I've felt really GOOD only twice. Both times it was
a girl. The other one just grinned at me when I was feeling down on
my luck. It was a dandy grin. ... And now you..."

"Tell me about her," she said.

"She's my secretary now. Little bit of a thing, but she grins at all
the world... Socialist, too, or anarchist or something. I made them
give her to me for my secretary so I could see her grin once in a
while."

"I'd like to see her."

"I don't know her," said Bonbright. "She's just my secretary. I'll
bet she'd be bully to know."

Hilda Lightener would not have been a woman had she not wondered
about this girl who had made such an impression on Bonbright. It was
not that she sensed a possible rival. She had not interested herself
in Bonbright to the point where a rival could matter. But--she would
like to see that girl.

Malcolm Lightener re-entered the room.

"Clear out, honey," he said to his daughter. "Foote and I have got to
make medicine."

She arose. "If he rumbles like a volcano," she said to Bonbright,
"don't be afraid. He just rumbles. Pompeii is in no danger."

"You GIT," her father said.

"Now," he said when they were alone, "what's to pay?"

"I don't know."

"Will your father raise the devil? Maybe you'd like to have me go
along when you interview him."

"I think I'd rather not."

Lightener nodded with satisfaction.

"Well, then--I've kind of taken a shine to you. You're a young idiot,
all right, but there's something about you. ... Let's start off with
this: You've got something that's apt to get you into hot water.
Either it's fool curiosity or genuine interest in folks. I don't know
which. Neither fits into the Bonbright Foote formula. Six generations
of 'em seem to have been whittled off the same chip--and then the
knife slipped and you came off some other chip altogether. But the
Foote chip don't know it, and won't recognize it if it does. ... I'm
not going to criticize your father or your ancestors, whatever kind
of darn fools I may personally think they are. What I want to say is,
if you ever kick over the traces, drop in and tell me about it. I'll
see you on your road."

"Thanks," said Bonbright, not half comprehending.

"You can't keep on pressing men out of the same mold forever. Maybe
you can get two or three or a dozen to be as like as peas--and then
nature plays a joke on you. You're the joke on the Foote mold, I
reckon. Maybe they can squeeze you into the form and maybe they
can't. ... But whatever happens is going to be darn unpleasant for
you."

Bonbright nodded. THAT he knew well.

"You've got a choice. You can start in by kicking over the traces--
with the mischief to pay; or you can let the vanished Footes take a
crack at you to see what that can make of you. I advise no boy to run
against his father's wishes. But everybody starts out with something
in him that's his own--individual--peculiar to him. Maybe it's what
the preachers call his soul. Anyhow, it's HIS. Whatever they do to
you, try to hang on to it. Don't let anybody pump it out of you and
fill its room with a standardized solution. Get me?"

"I think so."

"I guess that's about, all from me. Now run along to your dad. Got
any idea what will happen?"

Bonbright studied the rug more than a minute before he answered.

"I think I was right last night. Maybe I didn't go about it the way I
should, but I INTENDED right. At least I didn't intend WRONG. Father
will be--displeased. I don't think I can explain it to him ... "

"Uh!" grunted Lightener.

"So I--I guess I sha'n't try," Bonbright ended. "I think I'll go
along and have it over with."

When he was gone Malcolm Lightener made the following remark to his
wife, who seemed to understand it perfectly:

"Some sons get born into the wrong families."




CHAPTER VIII


Bonbright entered his office with the sensations of a detected
juvenile culprit approaching an unavoidable reckoning. If there was a
ray of brightness in the whole episode it was that the newspapers had
miraculously been denied the meatiest bit of his night's adventure--
his detention in a cell. If that had been flaunted before the eyes of
the public Bonbright felt he would never have been able to face his
father.

He was vividly aware of the stir his entrance caused among the office
employees. It was as though the heart of the office skipped a beat.
He flushed, and, with eyes straight before him, hurried into his own
room and sat in his chair. He experienced a quivering, electric
emptiness--his nerves crying out against an approaching climax. It
was blood-relative to panic.

Presently he was aware that his father stood in the door scrutinizing
him. Bonbright's eyes encountered his father's. They seemed to lock
... In that tense moment the boy was curiously aware how perfectly
his father's physical presence stood for and expressed his theory of
being. Tall, unbending, slender, aristocratic, intellectual--the pose
of the body, the poise of the head, even that peculiar, slanting set
of the lips expressed perfectly the Bonbright Foote idea. Five
generations had bred him to be the perfect thing it desired.

"Well, sir," he said, coldly. Bonbright arose. There was a formality
about the situation which seemed to require it. "Good morning," he
said, in a low tone.

"I have seen the papers."

"Yes, sir."

"What they printed was in substance true?"

"I prefer not--to discuss it, sir."

"And _I_ prefer TO discuss it ... Do you fancy you can drag the name
of Foote through the daily press as though it were that of some
dancing girl or political mountebank, and have no reference made of
it? Tell me exactly what happened last night--and why it was
permitted to happen."

"Father--" Bonbright's voice was scarcely audible, yet it was alive
and quivering with pain. "I cannot talk to you about last night."

The older man's lips compressed. "You are a man grown--are supposed
to be a man grown. Must I cross-examine you as if you were a sulking
schoolboy?"

Bonbright was not defiant, not sulkily stubborn. His night's
experiences had affected, were affecting him, working far-reaching
changes in him, maturing him. But he was too close to them for their
effect to have been accomplished. The work was going on each moment,
each hour. He did not reply to his father immediately, but when he
did so it was with a certain decision, a firmness, a lack of the old
boyishness which was marked and distinct.

"You must not cross-question me. There are things about which one's
own father has not the right to ask. ... If I could have come to you
voluntarily--but I could not. In college I have seen fellows get into
trouble, and the first thing they thought of was to go to their
fathers with it ... It was queer. What happened last night happened
to ME. Possibly it will have some effect on my family and on the name
of Foote, as you say ... But it happened to ME. Nobody else can
understand it. No one has the right to ask about it."

"It happened to YOU! Young man, you are the seventh Bonbright Foote--
member of a FAMILY. What happens to you happens to it. You cannot
separate yourself from it. You, as an individual, are not important,
but as Bonbright Foote VII you become important. Do you imagine you
can act and think as an entity distinct from Bonbright Foote,
Incorporated? ... Nonsense. You are but one part of a whole; what you
do affects the whole, and you are responsible for it to the shops."

"A man must be responsible to himself," said Bonbright, fumbling to
express what was troubling his soul. "There are bigger things than
family ..."

His father had advanced to the desk. Now he interrupted by bringing
his hand down upon it masterfully. "For you there is no bigger thing
than family. You have a strange idea. Where did you get it? Is this
sort of thing being taught in college to-day? I suppose you have some
notion of asserting your individuality. Bosh! Men in your position,
born as you have been born, have no right to individuality. Your
individuality must express the individuality of your family as mine
has done, and as my father's and HIS father's did before me ... I
insist that you explain fully to me what occurred last night."

"I am sorry, sir, but I cannot."

There was no outburst of passion from the father; it would have been
wholly out of keeping with his character. Bonbright Foote VI was a
strong man in his way; he possessed force of character--even if that
force were merely a standardized, family-molded force of character.
He recognized a crisis in the affairs of the Foote family which must
be met wisely. He perceived that results could not be obtained
through the violent impact of will; that here was a dangerous
condition which must be cured--but not by seizing it and wrenching it
into place ... Perhaps he could make Bonbright obey him, but if
matters were as serious as they seemed, it would be far from wise.
The thing must be dealt with patiently, firmly. Here was only a
symptom; the disease went deeper. For six generations one Bonbright
Foote after another had been born true to tradition's form--the
seventh generation had gone askew! It must be set right, remolded.

"Let me point out to you," said he, "that you are here only because
you are my son and the descendant of our forefathers. Aside from that
you have no right to consideration or to position. You possess
wealth. You are a personage ... Suppose it were necessary to deprive
you of these things. Suppose, as I have the authority to do, I should
send you out of this office to earn your own living. Suppose, in
short, I should find it necessary to do as other fathers have done--
to disown you ... What then? What could you do? What would your
individuality be worth? ... Think it over, my son. In the meantime we
will postpone this matter until you revise your mood."

He turned abruptly and went into his own room. He wanted to consider.
He did not know how to conduct himself, nor how to handle this
distressing affair ... He fancied he was acting wisely and
diplomatically, but at the same time he carried away with him the
unpleasant consciousness that victory lay for the moment with his
son. Individuality was briefly triumphant. One thing was clear to
him--it should not remain so. The Bonbright Foote tradition should be
continued correctly by his son. This was not so much a determination
as a state of mind. It was a thing of inevitability.

Bonbright's feeling as his father left him was one of utter
helplessness, of futility. He had received his father's unveiled
threat and later it would have its effect. For the moment it passed
without consideration. First in his mind was the fact that he did not
know what to do--did not even know what he WANTED to do. All he could
see was the groove he was in, the family groove. He did not like it,
but he was not sure he wanted to be out of it. His father had talked
of individuality; Bonbright did not know if he wanted to assert his
individuality. He was at sea. Unrest grappled with him blindly,
urging him nowhere, seeming merely to wrestle with him aimlessly and
maliciously ... What was it all about, anyhow? Why was he mixed up in
the struggle? Why could not he be left alone in quiet? If he had
owned a definite purpose, a definite ambition, a describable desire,
it would have been different, but he had none. He was merely bitterly
uncomfortable without the slightest notion what event or course of
action could bring him comfort.

One thought persisted through the chaos of his surging thoughts. He
must call in Ruth Frazer and explain to her that he had not done what
the papers said he did. Somehow he felt he owed her explanation, her
of all the world.

She entered in response to the button he pushed, but there was not
the broad smile--the grin--he looked up eagerly to see. She was
grave, rather more than grave--she was troubled, so troubled that she
did not raise her eyes to look at him, but took her seat opposite him
and laid her dictation book on the desk.

"Miss Frazer--" he said, and at his tone she looked at him. He seemed
very young to her, yet older than he had appeared before. Older he
was, with a tired, haggard look left by his sleepless night. She
could not restrain her heart from softening toward him, for he was
such a boy--just a boy.

"Miss Frazer," he said again, "I want to--talk to you about last
night--about what the papers said."

If he expected help from her he was disappointed. Her lips set
visibly.

"It was not true--what they said ... I sha'n't explain it to anybody
else. What good could it do? But I want you to understand. It seems
as if I HAVE to explain to you. ... I can't have you believing--"

"I didn't read it in the papers," she said. "I heard from an
eyewitness.

"Mr. Dulac," he said. "Yes, he would have seen. Even to him it might
have looked that way--it might. But I didn't--I didn't! You must
believe me. I did not run to the police to have them charge the
strikers again ... Why should I?"

"Why should you?" she repeated, coldly.

"Let me tell you ... I went there--out of curiosity, I guess. This
whole strike came so suddenly. I don't understand why strikes and
troubles like this must be, and I thought I might find out something
if I went and watched ... I wasn't taking sides. I don't know who is
right and who is wrong. All I wanted was to learn. One thing ... I
don't blame the strikers for throwing bricks. I could have thrown a
brick at one of our guards; a policeman shoved me and I could have
thrown a brick at him. ... I suppose, if there are to be strikes and
mobs who want to destroy our property, that we must have guards and
police ... But they shouldn't aggravate things. I went around where I
could see--and I saw the police charge. I saw them send their horses
smashing into that crowd--and I saw them draw back, leaving men on
the pavement, ... There was one who writhed about and made horrible
sounds! ... The mob was against us and the police were for us--but I
couldn't stand it. I guess I lost my head. I hadn't the least
intention of doing what I did, or of doing anything but watch ... but
I lost my head. I did rush up to the police, Miss Frazer, and the
strikers tried to mob me. I was struck more than once ... It wasn't
to tell the police to charge. You must believe me--you MUST. ... I
was afraid they WOULD charge again, so I rushed at them. All I
remember distinctly is shouting to them that they mustn't do it
again--mustn't charge into that defenseless mob. ... It was
horrible." He paused, and shut his eyes as though to blot out a
picture painted on his mind. Then he spoke more calmly. "The police
didn't understand, either. They thought I belonged to the mob, and
they arrested me. ... I slept--I spent the night in a cell in Police
Headquarters."

Ruth was leaning over the desk toward him, eyes wide, lips parted.
"Is--is that the TRUTH?" she asked; but as she asked she knew it was
so. Then: "I'm sorry--so sorry. You must let me tell Mr. Dulac and he
will tell the men. It would be terrible if they kept on believing
what they believe now. They think you are--"

"I know," he said, wearily. "It can't be helped. I don't know that it
matters. What they think about me is what--it is thought best for
them to think. I am supposed to be fighting the strike."

"But aren't you?"

"I suppose so. It's the job that's been assigned to me--but I'm doing
nothing. I'm of no consequence--just a stuffed figure."

"You caused the strike."

"I?" There was genuine surprise in his voice. "How?"

"With that placard."

"I suppose so," he said, slowly. "My name WAS signed to it, wasn't
it? ... You see I had been indiscreet the night before. I had mingled
with the men and spoken to Mr. Dulac. ... I had created a false
impression--which had to be torn up--by the roots."

"I don't understand, Mr. Foote."

"No," he said, "of course not. ... Why should you? I don't understand
myself. I don't see why I shouldn't talk to Mr. Dulac or the men. I
don't see why I shouldn't try to find out about things. But it wasn't
considered right--was considered very wrong, and I was--disciplined.
Members of my family don't do those things. Mind, I'm not
complaining. I'm not criticizing father, for he may be right.
Probably he IS right. But he didn't understand. I wasn't siding with
the men; I was just trying to find out ..."

"Do you mean," she asked, a bit breathlessly, "that you have done
none of these things of your own will--because you wanted to? I mean
the placard, and bringing in O'Hagan and his strike breakers, and
taking all these ruthless methods to break the strike? ... Were you
made to APPEAR as though it was you--when it wasn't?"

"Don't YOU misunderstand me, Miss Frazer. You're on the other side--
with the men. I'm against them. I'm Bonbright Foote VII." There was a
trace of bitterness in his voice as he said it, and it did not escape
her attention. "I wasn't taking sides. ... I wouldn't take sides now--
but apparently I must. ... If strikes are necessary then I suppose
fellows in places like mine must fight them. ... I don't know. I
don't see any other way. ... But it doesn't seem right--that there
should be strikes. There must be a reason for them. Either our side
does something it shouldn't--and provokes them, or your side is
unfair and brings them on. ... Or maybe both of us are to blame. ...
I wanted to find out."

"I shall tell Mr. Dulac," she said. "I shall tell him EVERYTHING. The
men mustn't go on hating and despising you. Why, they ought to be
sorry for you! ... Why do you endure it? Why don't you walk out of
this place and never enter it again? ..."

"You don't understand," he said, with perplexity." I knew you would
think I am siding with the men."

"I don't think that--no! ... You might come to side with us--because
we're right. But you're not siding with yourself. You're letting
somebody else operate your very soul--and that's a worse sin than
suicide. ... You're letting your father and this business, this
Bonbright Foote, Incorporated, wipe you out as if you were a mark on
a slate--and make another mark in your place to suit its own plans.
... You are being treated abominably."

"Miss Frazer, I guess neither of us understands this thing. You see
this business, for generations, has had a certain kind of man at the
head of it. Always. It has been a successful business. Maybe when
father, and his father, were young, they had to be disciplined as I
am being. Maybe it is RIGHT--what I have heard called TRAINING."

"Do you like it?"

He did not answer at once. "I--it disturbs me. It makes me uneasy.
... But I can do nothing. They've got me in the groove, and I suppose
I'll move along it."

"If you would own up to it, you're unhappy. You're being made
miserable. ... Why, you're being treated worse than the strikers--and
by your own father! ... Everybody has a right to be himself."

"You say that, but father and the generations of Footes before him
say the exact opposite. ... However, I'm not the question. All I
wanted to do was to explain to you about last night. You believe me?"

"Of course. And I shall tell--"

He shook his head. "I'd rather you didn't. Indeed, you mustn't. As
long as I am here I must stick by my family. Don't you see? I wanted
YOU to know. My explanation was for you alone."

Rangar appeared in the door--quietly as it was his wont to move.
"Pardon," he said. "Your father wishes to speak to you, Mr. Foote."

"One moment, Miss Frazer. I have some letters," Bonbright said, and
stepped into his father's office.

"Bonbright," said his father, "Rangar has just discovered that your
secretary--this Miss Frazer--lives in the same house with Dulac the
strike leader. ... She comes of a family of disturbers herself.
Probably she is very useful to Dulac where she is. Therefore you will
dismiss her at once."

"But, father--"

"You will dismiss her at once--personally."

A second time that day the eyes of father and son locked.

Bonbright's face was colorless; he felt his lips tremble.

"At once," said his father, tapping his desk with his finger.

Bonbright's sensation was akin to that of falling through space--
there seemed nothing to cling to, nothing by which to sustain
himself. How utterly futile he was was borne in upon him! He could
not resist. Protestation would only humiliate him. He turned slowly
and walked into his own room, where he stood erect before his desk.

"Miss Frazer," he said in a level, timbreless voice, "the labor
leader Dulac lives in your house. You come of a family of labor
agitators. Therefore you are discharged."

"WHAT?" she exclaimed, the unexpectedness of it upsetting her poise.

"You are discharged," he repeated; and then, turning his back on her,
he walked to the window, where he stood tense, tortured by
humiliation, gazing down upon a street which he could not see.

Ruth gathered her book and pencils and stood up. She moved slowly to
the door without speaking, but there she stopped, turned, and looked
at Bonbright. There was neither dismay nor anger in her eyes--only
sympathy. But she did not speak it aloud. "Poor boy!" she whispered
to herself, and stepped out into the corridor.




CHAPTER IX


Ruth Frazer had passed her twentieth birthday, and now, for the first
time, she was asking herself that question which brings tearful
uncertainty, vague fears, disquieting speculations to the great
majority of women--should she give herself, body and soul, into the
hands of a definite man? It was the definiteness, the identification
of the man, that caused all her difficulty. All women expect to be
chosen by, and to choose, some man; but when he arrives in actual
flesh and blood--that is quite another matter. Some, perhaps many,
have no doubts. Love has come to them unmistakably. But not so with
most. It is a thing to be wept over, and prayed over, and considered
with many changes of mind, until final decision is made one way or
the other.

Dulac had been interrupted in what Ruth knew would have been a
proposal of marriage; the scene would be resumed, and when it was
what answer should she give?

It is no easy task for a girl of twenty to lay her heart under the
microscope and to see if the emotion which agitates it is love, or
admiration, or the excitation of glamour. She has heard of love, has
read of love, has dreamed of love, possibly, but has never
experienced love. How, then, is she to recognize it? With Ruth there
had been no long acquaintanceship with this man who came asking her
future of her. There had been no months or years of service and
companionship. Instead, he had burst on her vision, had dazzled her
with his presence and his mission. Hers was a steady little head, and
one capable of facing the logic of a situation. Was her feeling
toward Dulac merely hero worship?

The cause he represented was dear to her heart, and he was an eminent
servant in that cause. It thrilled her to know that such a man as he
could want HER for his wife. It quite took her breath away. Present
also was the feeling that if Dulac wanted her, if she could bring
happiness, ease, help to him, it would be her duty to give herself.
By so doing she would contribute her all to the cause. ... Behind
that thought were generations of men and women who had sacrificed and
suffered for labor. If her father had given his life, would he not
expect his daughter to give HER life? If she could make Dulac
stronger to carry on his work for social revolution, had she a right
to withhold herself? ...

But, being a girl, with youth singing in her heart, it was impossible
that anything should take precedence of love. That was the great
question. Did she love? ... At noon she was sure she did; at one
o'clock she was sure she did not; at two o'clock she was wavering
between the two decisions; at six o'clock she had passed through all
these stages half a dozen times, and was no nearer certainty.

Being who she was and what she was, her contacts with the world had
not been those of the ordinary girl of her age and her station in
life. In her earlier years she had been accustomed to radical words,
radical thought, radical individuals. The world she was taught to see
was not the world girl children are usually taught to see. And yet
she retained her humor, her brightness of spirit, the joy of life
that gave her her smile. ... She had known boys and men. However,
none of these had made marked impression upon her. They had been mere
incidents, pleasant, uninteresting, wearying, amusing. None had
thrilled her. ... So she had less experience to call to her aid than
the average girl.

Dulac occupied her mind as no man had ever occupied it before; the
thought of him thrilled her. ... He wanted her, this magnetic,
theatrically handsome man wanted her. ...

When we make a choice we do so by a process of comparison. We buy
this house because we like it better than that house; we buy this hat
because we prefer it to that other; ... it is so we get our notions
of value, of desirability. It is more than possible that some effort
at comparison is made by a woman in selecting a husband. She compares
her suitor with other men. Her decision may hinge upon the result.
... Dulac was clearly superior to most of the men Ruth had known. ...
Then, unaccountably, she found herself thinking of Bonbright Foote,
who had that morning discharged her from her employment. She found
herself setting young Foote and Dulac side by side and, becoming
objectively conscious of this, she felt herself guilty of some sort
of disloyalty. What right had a man in Foote's position to stand in
her thoughts beside Dulac? He was everything Dulac was not; Dulac was
nothing that Foote was.

She realized she was getting nowhere, was only confusing herself.
Perhaps, she told herself, when Dulac was present, when he asked her
to be his wife, she would know what to answer. So, resolutely, she
put the matter from her mind. It would not stay out.

She dreaded meeting Dulac at supper--for the evening meal was supper
in the Frazer cottage--and yet she was burningly curious to meet him,
to be near him, to verify her image of him. ... Extra pains with the
detail of her simple toilet held her in her room until her mother
called to know if she were not going to help with the meal. As she
went to the kitchen she heard Dulac moving about in his room.

When they were seated at the table it was Mrs. Frazer who jerked the
conversation away from casual matters.

"Ruth was discharged this morning, Mr. Dulac," she said, bitterly,
"and her as good a typewriter and as neat and faithful as any. No
fault found, either, nor could be, not if anybody was looking for it
with a fine-tooth comb. Meanness, that's what I say. Nothing but
meanness. ... And us needing that fifteen dollars a week to keep the
breath of life in us."

"Don't worry about that, mother," Ruth said, quickly. "There are
plenty of places--"

"Who fired you?" interrupted Dulac, his black eyes glowing angrily.
"That young cub?"

"Young Mr. Foote," said Ruth.

"It was because I live here," said Dulac, intensely. "That was why,
wasn't it? That's the way they fight, striking at us through our
womenfolks. ... And when we answer with bricks..."

"I don't think he wanted to do it," Ruth said. "I think he was made
to."

"Nonsense! Too bad the boys didn't get their hands on him last night--
the infernal college-bred whipper-snapper! ... Well, don't you worry
about that job. Nor you, either, Mrs. Frazer."

"Seems like I never did anything but worry; if it wasn't about one
thing it was another, and no peace since I was in the cradle," said
Mrs. Frazer, dolefully. "If it ain't the rent it's strikes and riots
and losin' positions and not knowin' if your husband's comin' home to
sleep in bed, or his name in the paper in the morning and him in
jail. And since he was killed--"

"Now, mother," said Ruth, "I'll have a job before tomorrow night. We
won't starve or be put out into the street."

Mrs. Frazer dabbed at her eyes with her apron and signified her firm
belief that capital was banded together for the sole purpose of
causing her mental agony; indeed, that capital had been invented with
that end in view, and if she had her way--which seldom enough, and
her never doing a wrong to a living body--capital should have visited
on it certain plagues and punishments hinted at as adequate, but not
named. Whereupon she got up from the table and went out into the
kitchen after the pie.

"Mrs. Frazer," said Dulac, when she returned, "I've got to hurry
downtown to headquarters, but I want to have a little talk with Ruth
before I go. Can't the dishes wait?"

"I did up dishes alone before Ruth was born, and a few thousand times
since. Guess I can get through with it without her help at least once
more."

Dulac smiled, so that his white, even teeth showed in a foreign sort
of way. In that moment Ruth thought there was something Oriental or
Latin about his appearance--surely something exotic. He had a power
of fascination, and its spell was upon her.

He stood up and walked to the door of the little parlor, where he
stood waiting. Ruth, not blushing, but pale, afraid, yet eager to
hear what she knew he was going to say, passed him into the room. He
closed the door.

"You know what I want to say," he began, approaching close to her,
but not touching her. "You know what life will be like with a man
whose work is what mine is. ... But I'd try to make up for the
hardships and the worries and the disagreeable things. I'd try, Ruth,
and I think I could do it. ... Your heart is with the Cause. I
wouldn't marry you if it wasn't because you couldn't stand the life.
But you want to see what I want to see. ... If I'm willing to run the
risks and live the life I have to live because I see how I can help
along the work and make the world a better place for those to live in
who need to have it a better place ... if I can do what I do, I've
thought you might be willing to share it all. ... You're brave. You
come of a blood that has suffered and been willing to suffer. Your
father was a martyr--just as I would be willing to be a martyr. ..."

Somehow the thing did not seem so much like a proposal of marriage as
like a bit of flamboyant oratory. The theatrical air of the man, his
self-consciousness--with the saving leaven of unquestionable
sincerity--made it more an exhortation from the platform. Even in his
intimate moments Dulac did not step out of character. ... But this
was not apparent to Ruth. Glamour was upon her, blinding her. The
personality of the man dominated her personality. She saw him as he
saw himself. ... And his Cause was her Cause. If he would have
suffered martyrdom for it, so would she. She raised her eyes to his
and, looking into them, saw a soul greater than his soul, loftier
than his soul. She was an apostle, and her heart throbbed with pride
and joy that this man of high, self-sacrificing purpose should desire
her. ... She was ready to surrender; her decision was made. Standing
under his blazing eyes, in the circle of his magnetism, she was sure
she loved him.

But the surrender was not to be made then. Her mother rapped on the
door.

"Young gentleman to see you, Ruth," she called.

She heard Dulac's teeth click savagely. "Quick," he said. "What is it
to be?"

The spell was broken, the old uncertainty, the wavering, was present
again. "I--oh, let me think. To-morrow--I'll tell you to-morrow."

She stepped--it was almost a flight--to the door, and opened it. In
the dining room, hat in hand, stood Bonbright Foote. Dulac saw, too.

"What does he want here?" he demanded, savagely.

"I don't know."

"I'll find out. It's no good to you he intends."

"Mr. Dulac!" she said, and faced him a moment. He stopped, furious
though he was. She stopped him. She held him. ... There was a
strength in her that he had not realized. Her utterance of his name
was a command and a rebuke.

"I know his kind," Dulac said, sullenly. "Let me throw him out."

"Please sit down," she said. "I want to bring him in here. I know him
better than you--and I think your side misunderstands him. It may do
some good."

She stepped into the dining room. "Mr. Foote," she said.

He was embarrassed, ill at ease. "Miss Frazer," he said, with boyish
hesitation, "you don't want to see me--you have no reason to do
anything but--despise me, I guess. But I had to come. I found your
address and came as quickly as I could."

"Step in here," she said. Then, "You and Mr. Dulac have met."

Dulac stood scowling. "Yes," he said, sullenly. Bonbright flushed and
nodded. ... Dulac seemed suddenly possessed by a gust of passion. He
strode threateningly to Bonbright, lips snarling, eyes blazing.

"What do you mean by coming here? What do you want?" he demanded,
hoarsely. "You come here with your hands red with blood. Two men are
dead. ... Four others smashed under the hoofs of your police! ...
You're trying to starve into submission thousands of men. You're
striking at them through their wives and babies. ... What do you care
for them or their suffering? You and your father are piling up
millions--and every penny a loaf stolen from the table of a
workingman! ... There'll be starving out there soon. ... Babies will
be dying for want of food--and you'll have killed them. ... You and
your kind are bloodsuckers, parasites! ... and you're a sneaking,
spying hound. ... Every man that dies, every baby that starves, every
ounce of woman's suffering and misery that this strike causes are on
your head. ... You forced the strike, backed up by the millions of
the automobile crowd, so you could crush and smash your men so they
wouldn't dare to mutter or complain. You did it deliberately--you
prowling, pampered puppy. ..." Dulac was working himself into blind
rage.

Bonbright looked at the man with something of amazement, but with
nothing of fear. He was not afraid. He did not give back a step, but,
as he stood there, white to the lips, his eyes steadily on Dulac's
eyes, he seemed older, weary. He seemed to have been stripped of
youth and of the lightheartedness and buoyancy of youth. He was
thinking, wondering. Why should this man hate him? Why should others
hate him? Why should the class he belonged to be hated with this
blighting virulence by the class they employed? ...

He did not speak nor try to stem Dulac's invective. He was not
angered by it, nor was he hurt by it. ... He waited for it to
subside, and with a certain dignity that sat well on his young
shoulders. Generations of ancestors trained in the restraints were
with him this night, and stood him in good stead.

Ruth stood by, the situation snatched beyond her control. She was
terrified, yet even in her terror she could not avoid a sort of
subconscious comparison of the men.

"Mr. Dulac! ... Please! ... Please! ..." she said, tearfully.

"I'm going to tell this--this murderer what he is. and then I'm going
to throw him out," Dulac raged.

"Mr. Foote came to see ME," Ruth said, with awakened spirit. "He is
in my house. ... You have no right to act so. You have no right to
talk so. ... You sha'n't go on."

Dulac turned on her. "What is this cub to you? What do you care? ...
Were you expecting him?"

"She wasn't expecting me," said Bonbright, breaking silence for the
first time. "I came because she didn't get a square deal. ... I had
to come."

"What do you want with her? ... You've kicked her out of your office
--now leave her alone. ... There's just one thing men of your class
want of girls of her class. ..."

At first Bonbright did not comprehend Dulac's meaning; then his face
reddened; even his ears were enveloped in a surge of color. "Dulac,"
he said, evenly, "I came to say something to Miss Frazer. When I have
done I'm going to thrash you for that."

Ruth seized Dulac's arm. "Go away," she cried. "You have no right.
... If you ever want an answer--to that question--you'll go NOW ...
If this goes on--if you don't go and leave Mr. Foote alone, I'll
never see you again. ... I'll never speak to you again. ... I mean
it!"

Dulac, looking down into her face, saw that she did mean it. He shot
one venomous glance at Bonbright, snatched his hat from the table,
and rushed from the room.

Presently Ruth spoke.

"I'm so sorry," she said.

Bonbright smiled. "It was too bad. ... He believes what he says about
me. ..."

"Yes, he believes it, and thousands of other men believe it. ... They
hate you."

"Because I have lots of money and they have little. Because I own a
factory and they work in it. ... There must be a great deal to it
besides that. ... But that isn't what I came to say. I--it was about
discharging you."

"Yes," she said. "I knew it wasn't you. ... Your father made you."

He flushed. "You see ... I'm not a real person. I'm just something
with push buttons. When somebody wants a thing done he pushes one,
and I do it. ... I didn't want you to go. I--Well, things aren't
exactly joyous for me in the plant. I don't fit--and I'm being made
to fit." His voice took on a tinge of bitterness. "I've got to be
something that the label 'Bonbright Foote VII' will fit. ... It was
on account of that smile of yours that I made them give you to me for
my secretary. The first time I saw you you smiled--and it was mighty
cheering. It sort of lightened things up--so I got you to do my work
--because I thought likely you would smile sometimes. ..."

Her eyes were downcast to hide the moisture that was in them.

"Father made me discharge you. ... I couldn't help it--and you don't
know how ashamed it made me. ... To know I was so helpless. That's
what I came to say. I wanted you to know--on account of your smile. I
didn't want you to think--I did it willingly. ... And--sometimes it
isn't easy to get another position--so--so I went to see a man,
Malcolm Lightener, and told him about you. He manufactures
automobiles--and he's--he's a better kind of man to work for than--we
were. If you are willing you can--go there in the morning."

She showed him her smile now--but it was not the broad, beaming grin;
it was a dewy, tremulous smile.

"That was good of you," she said, softly.

"I was just trying to be square," he said. "Will you take the place?
I should like to know. I should like to know I'd helped to make
things right."

"Of course I shall take it," she said.

"Thank you. ... I--shall miss you. Really. ... Good night, Miss
Frazer--and thank you."

She pitied him from her heart. His position was not a joyful one. ...
And, as people sometimes do, she spoke on impulse, not calculating
possible complications.

"If--you may come to see me again if you want to."

He took her extended hand. "I may?" he said, almost incredulously.
"And will you smile for me?"

"Once, each time you come," she said.




CHAPTER X


Day after day and week after week the strike dragged on. Daily
strength departed from it and entered into Bonbright Foote,
Incorporated. The men had embarked upon it with enthusiasm, many of
them with fanatic determination; but with the advent in their home of
privation, of hunger, their zeal was transmuted into heavy
determination, lifeless stubbornness. Idleness hung heavily on their
hands, and small coins that should have passed over the baker's
counter clinked upon mahogany bars.

Dulac labored, exhorted, prayed with them. It was his personality,
his individual powers over the minds and hearts of men, that kept the
strike alive. The weight rested upon his shoulders alone, but he did
not bend under it. He would not admit the hopelessness of the
contest--and he fought on. At the end of a month he was still able to
fire his audiences with sincere, if theatrical, oratory; he could
still play upon them and be certain of a response. At the end of two
months he--even he--was forced to admit that they listened with
stolidness, with apathy. They were falling away from him; but he
fought on. He would not admit defeat, would not, even in his most
secret thoughts, look forward to inevitable failure.

Every man that deserted was an added atom of strength to Bonbright
Foote, Incorporated. Every hungry baby, every ailing wife, every
empty dinner table fought for the company and against Dulac. Rioting
ended. It requires more than hopeless apathy to create a riot; there
must be fervor, determination, enthusiasm. Daily Dulac's ranks were
thinned by men who slunk to the company's employment office and
begged to be reinstated. ... The back of the strike was broken.

Bonbright Foote saw how his company crushed the strike; how,
ruthlessly, with machinelike certainty and lack of heart, it went
ahead undeviatingly, careless of obstructions, indifferent to human
beings in its path. There was something Prussian about it; something
that recalled to him Bismarck and Moltke and 1870 with the exact,
soulless mechanical perfection of the systematic trampling of the
France of Napoleon III. ... And, just as the Bonbright Foote
tradition crunched the strike to pieces so it was crunching and
macerating his own individuality until it would be a formless mass
ready for the mold.

The will should be a straight steel rod urged in one undeviating
direction by heart and mind. No day passed upon which the rod of
Bonbright's will was not bent, was not twisted to make it follow the
direction of some other will stronger than his--the direction of the
accumulated wills of all the Bonbright Footes who had built up the
family tradition.

No initiative was allowed him; he was not permitted to interest
himself in the business in his own youthful, healthy way; but he must
see it through dead eyes, he must initiate nothing, criticize
nothing, suggest nothing. He must follow rule.

His father was not satisfied with him, that he realized--and that he
was under constant suspicion. He was unsatisfactory. His present
mental form was not acceptable and must undergo painful processes of
alteration. His parents would have taken him back, as a bad bargain,
and exchanged him for something else if they could, but being unable,
they must make him into something else.

Humiliation lay heavy on him. Every man in the employ of Bonbright
Foote, Incorporated, must realize the shamefulness of his position,
that he was a fiction, a sham held up by his father's hands. Orders
issued from his lips to unsmiling subordinates, who knew well they
were not his orders, but words placed in his mouth to recite parrot-
like. Letters went out under his signature, dictated by him--
according to the dictation of his father. He was a rubber stamp, a
mechanical means of communication. ... He was not a man, an
individual--he was a marionette dancing to ill-concealed strings.

The thing he realized with abhorrence was that when he was remade,
when he became the thing the artisans worked upon him to create--when
at last his father passed from view and he remained master of
Bonbright Foote, Incorporated, it would not be Bonbright Foote VII
who was master. It would be an automaton, a continuation of other
automatons. ... It is said the Dalai Lama is perpetual, always the
same, never changing from age to age. A fiction maintained by a
mystic priesthood supplying themselves secretly with fresh Dalai Lama
material as needful--with a symbol to hold in awe the ignorance of
their religionists. ... Bonbright saw that he was expected to be a
symbol. ...

He approached his desk in the morning with loathing, and left it at
night without relief. Hopelessness was upon him and he could not flee
from it; it was inescapable.

True, he sought relief. Malcolm Lightener had become his fast friend
--a sort of life preserver for his soul. In spite of his youth and
Lightener's maturity there was real companionship between them. ...
Lightener knew what was going on, and in his granite way he tried to
help the boy. Bonbright was not interested in his own business, so
Lightener awakened in him an interest in Lightener's business. He
discussed his affairs with the boy. He talked of systems, of
efficiency, of business methods. He taught Bonbright as he would have
taught his own son, half realizing the futility of his teaching. Nor
had he question as to the righteousness of his proceeding. Because a
boy's father follows an evil course the parenthood does not hallow
that course. ... So Bonbright learned, not knowing that he learned,
and in his own office he made comparisons. The methods of Bonbright
Foote, Incorporated, he compared with the methods of Malcolm
Lightener. He saw where modern business would make changes and
improvements--but after the first few trampled-on suggestions he
remained silent and grew indifferent.

Once he suggested the purchase of dictating machines.

"Fol-de-rol," said his father, brusquely--and the matter ended.

In Lightener's plant he saw lathes which roughed and finished in one
process and one handling. In his own plant castings must pass from
one machine to another, and through the hands of extra and
unnecessary employees. It was economic waste. But he offered no
suggestion. He saw time lost here, labor lavished there, but he was
indifferent. He knew better. He knew how it should be done--but he
did not care. ... The methods of Bonbright Foote I not only suited
his father, but were the laws of his father's life.

Not only had Bonbright established sympathetic relations with Malcolm
Lightener, but with Lightener's family. In Mrs. Lightener he found a
woman whose wealth had compelled the so-called social leaders of the
city to accept her, but whose personality, once she was accepted, had
won her a firm, enduring position. He found her a woman whose sudden,
almost magical, change from obscurity and the lower fringe of salary-
drawers to a wealth that made even America gasp, had not made her
dizzy. Indeed, it seemed not to have affected her character at all.
Her dominant note was motherliness. She was still the housewife. She
continued to look after her husband and daughter just as she had
looked after them in the days when she had lived in a tiny frame
house and had cooked the meals and made the beds. ... She represented
womanhood of a sort Bonbright had never been on terms of intimate
friendship with. ... There was much about her which gave him food for
reflection.

And Hilda. ... Since their first meeting there had been no reference
to the desire of their mothers for their marriage. For a while the
knowledge of this had made it difficult for Bonbright to offer her
his friendship and companionship. But when he saw, as the weeks went
by, how she was willing to accept him unaffectedly as a friend, a
comrade, a chum, how the maternal ambition to unite the families
seemed to be wholly absent from her thoughts, they got on
delightfully.

Bonbright played with her. Somehow she came to represent recreation
in his life. She was jolly, a splendid sportswoman, who could hold
her own with him at golf or tennis, and who drove an automobile as he
would never have dared to drive.

She was not beautiful, but she was attractive, and the center of her
attractiveness was her wholesomeness, her frankness, her simplicity.
... He could talk to her as he could not talk even to her father, yet
he could not open his heart fully even to her. He could not show her
the soul tissues that throbbed and ached.

He was lonely. A lonely boy thrown with an attractive girl is a
fertile field for the sowing of love. But Bonbright was not in love
with Hilda. ... The idea did not occur to him. There was excellent
reason--though he had not arrived at a realization of it, and this
excellent reason was Ruth Frazer.

He had ventured to accept Ruth's impulsive invitation to come to see
her. Not frequently, not so frequently as his inclinations urged, but
more frequently than was, perhaps, wise in his position. ... She
represented a new experience. She was utterly outside his world, and
so wholly different from the girls of his world. It was an attractive
difference. ... And her grin! When it glowed for him he felt for the
moment as if the world were really a pleasant place to spend one's
life.

He learned from her. New ideas and comprehensions came to him as a
result of her conversations with him. Through her eyes he was seeing
the other side. Not all her theories, not even all her facts, could
he accept, but no matter how radical, no matter how incendiary her
words, he delighted to hear her voice uttering them. In short,
Bonbright Foote VII, prince of the Foote Dynasty, was in danger of
falling in love with the beggar maid.

So, many diverse forces and individualities were at work upon the
molding of Bonbright Foote. One, and one only, he recognized, and
that was the stern, ever-apparent, iron-handed wrenching of his
father. There were times, which grew more and more frequent, when he
fancied he had surrendered utterly to it and had handed over his soul
to Bonbright Foote, Incorporated. He fancied he was sitting by
apathetically watching the family tradition squeeze it into the
desired form. ...

After a wretched day he had called on Ruth. The next morning soft-
footed Rangar had moved shadowlike into his father's office, and
presently his father summoned him to come in.

"I am informed," said the gentleman who was devoting his literary
talents to a philosophical biography of the Marquis Lafayette, Hero
of Two Worlds, friend of Liberty and Equality, "that you have been
going repeatedly to the house of that girl who formerly was your
secretary--whose mother runs a boarding house for anarchists."

The suddenness, the unexpectedness of attack upon this angle,
nonplussed Bonbright. He could only stand silent, stamped with the
guilty look of youth.

"Is it true?" snapped his father.

"I have called on Miss Frazer," Bonbright said, unsteadily.

Mr. Foote stood up. It was his habit to stand up in all crises, big
or little.

"Have you no respect for your family name? ... If you must have
things like this in your life, for God's sake keep them covered up.
Don't be infernally blatant about them. Do you want the whole city
whispering like ghouls over the liaison of my son with--with a female
anarchist who is--the daughter of a boarding-house keeper?"

Liaison! ... Liaison! ... The foreign term beat again and again
against Bonbright's consciousness before it gained admission. Used in
connection with Ruth Frazer, with his relations with Ruth Frazer, it
was dead, devoid of meaning, conveyed no meaning to his brain.

"Liaison, sir! ... Liaison?" he said, fumblingly.

"I can find a plainer term if you insist."

For a moment Bonbright felt curiously calm, curiously cold, curiously
detached from the scene. He regarded the other man. ... This man was
his father. His FATHER! The laws of life and of humanity demanded
that he regard this man with veneration. Yet, offhand, without
investigation, this man could jump to a vile conclusion regarding
him. Not only that, but could accuse him, not of guilt, but of
failing to conceal guilt! ... Respectability! He knew he was watching
a manifestation of the family tradition. It was wrong to commit an
unworthy act, but it was a sin unspeakable to be caught by the public
in the commission.

His mind worked slowly. It was a full half minute before the thought
bored through to him that HE was not the sole nor the greatest
sufferer by this accusation. It was not HE who was insulted. It was
not HE who was outraged. ... It was HER!

His father could think that of her--casually. The mere fact that she
was poor, not of his station, a wage-earner, made it plain to the
senior Foote that Ruth Frazer would welcome a squalid affair with his
son. ... The Sultan throwing his handkerchief.

Bonbright's calm gave place to turmoil, his chill to heat.

"It's not true," he said, haltingly, using feeble words because
stronger had not yet had time to surge up to the surface.

"Bosh!" said the father.

Then Bonbright blazed. Restraints crumbled. The Harvard manner peeled
off and lay quivering with horror at his feet. He stepped a pace
closer to his father, so that his face was close to his father's
face, and his smoldering eyes were within inches of his father's
scornful ones.

"It's a lie," he said, huskily, "a damned, abominable, insulting
lie."

"Young man," his father shipped back, "be careful. ..."

"Careful! ... I don't know who carried this thing to you, but whoever
did was a miserable, sneaking mucker. He lied and he knew he lied.
... And you, sir, you were willing to believe. Probably you were
eager to believe. ... I sha'n't defend Miss Frazer. Only a fool or a
mucker could believe such a thing of her. ... Yes, I have been to see
her, and I'll tell you why. ... I'll tell you why, good and plenty!
... My first day in this place she was the only human, pleasant thing
I met. Her smile was the only life or brightness in the place. ...
Everything else was dead men's bones. The place is a tomb and it
stinks of graveclothes. Our whole family stinks of graveclothes.
Family tradition! ... Men dead and rotten and eaten by worms--they
run this place, and you want me to let them run me. ... Every move
you make you consult a skeleton. ... And you want to smash and crush
and strangle me so that I'll be willing to walk with a weight of dead
bones. ... I've tried. You are my father, and I thought maybe you
knew best. ... I've submitted. I've submitted to your humiliations,
to having everything that's ME--that is individual in me--stamped
out, and stuff molded to the family pattern rammed back in its place.
... She was the only bright spot in the whole outfit--and you kicked
her out. ... And I've been going to see her--just to see her smile
and to get courage from it to start another day with you. ... That's
what my life has been here, and you made it so, and you will keep on
making it so. ... Probably you'll grind me into the family groove.
Maybe I'm ground already, but that doesn't excuse what you've just
said, and it doesn't make it any less an abominable lie, nor the man
who reported it to you any less a muck-hearted sewer..."

He stopped, pale, panting, quivering.

"How dare you! ... How dare--"

"Dare!" ... Bonbright glared at his father; then he felt a great,
quivering emotion welling up within him, a something he was ashamed
to have the eye of man look upon. His lips began to tremble. He swung
on his heel and ran staggeringly toward his door, but there he
stopped, clutched the door frame, and cried, chokingly, "It's a lie.
... A lie. ... A slimy lie!"




CHAPTER XI


Mr. Foote stood motionless, staring after his son as be might have
stared at some phenomenon which violated a law of nature; for
instance, as he might have stared at the sun rising in the west, at a
stream flowing uphill, at Newton's apple remaining suspended in air
instead of falling properly to the ground. He was not angry--yet.
That personal and individual emotion would come later; what he
experienced now was a FAMILY emotion, a staggering astonishment
participated in by five generations of departed Bonbright Footes.

He was nonplussed. Here had happened a thing which could not happen.
In the whole history of the Foote family there had never been
recorded an instance of a son uttering such words to his father or of
his family. There was no instance of an outburst even remotely
resembling this one. It simply could not be. ... And yet it was. He
had witnessed it, listened to it, had been the target at which his
son's hot words had been hurled.

For most occurrences in his life Mr. Foote could find a family
precedent. This matter had been handled thus, and that other matter
had been handled so. But this thin--it had never been handled because
it had never happened. He was left standing squarely on his own feet,
without aid or support.

Mortification mingled with his astonishment. It had remained for him-
-who had thought to add to the family laurels the literary
achievement of portraying philosophically the life of the Marquis
Lafayette--to father a son who could be guilty of thinking such
thoughts and uttering such words. He looked about the room
apprehensively, as if he feared to find assembled there the shades of
departed Bonbrights who had been eavesdropping, as the departed are
said to do by certain psychic persons. ... He hoped they had not been
listening at his keyhole, for this was a squalid happening that he
must smother, cover up, hide forever from their knowledge.

These sensations were succeeded by plain, ordinary, common,
uncultured, ancestorless anger. Bonbright Foote VI retained enough
personality, enough of his human self, to be able to become angry.
True, he did not do it as one of his molders would have done; he was
still a Foote, even in passion. It was a dignified, a cultured, a
repressed passion ... but deep-seated and seething for an outlet,
just the same. What he felt might be compared distantly to what other
men feel when they seize upon the paternal razor strop and apply it
wholesomely to that portion of their son's anatomy which tradition
says is most likely to turn boys to virtue. ... He wanted to compel
Bonbright to make painful reparation to his ancestors. He wanted to
inflict punishment of some striking, uncommon, distressing sort. ...

His anger increased, and he became even more human. With a trifle
more haste than was usual, with the studied, cultured set of his lips
less studied and cultured than ever they had been before, he strode
to his son's door. Something was going to happen. He was restraining
himself, but something would happen now. He felt it and feared it.
... His rage must have an outlet. Vaguely he felt that fire must be
fought with fire--and he all unaccustomed to handling that element.
But he would rise to the necessities. ...

He stepped into Bonbright's room, keyed up to eruption, but he did
not erupt. Nobody was there to erupt AT. Bonbright was gone. ...

Mr. Foote went back to his desk and sat there nervously drumming on
its top with his fingers. He was not himself. He had never been so
disturbed before and did not know it was possible for him to be upset
in this manner. There had been other crises, other disagreeable
happenings in his life, but he had met them calmly, dispassionately,
with what he was pleased to call philosophy. He had liked to fancy
himself as ruled wholly by intellect and not at all by emotion. And
now emotion had caught him up as a tidal wave might catch up a strong
swimmer, and tossed him hither and thither, blinded by its spray and
helpless.

His one coherent thought was that something must be done about it. At
such a moment some fathers would have considered the advisability of
casting their sons loose to shift for themselves as a punishment for
too much independence and for outraging the laws requiring
unquestioning respect for father from son. This course did not even
occur to Mr. Foote. It was in the nature of things that it should
not, for in his mind his son was a permanent structure, a sort of
extension on the family house. He was THERE. Without him the family
ended, the family business passed into the hands of strangers. There
would be no Bonbright Foote VIII who, in his turn, should become the
father of Bonbright Foote IX, and so following. No, he did not hold
even tentatively the idea of disinheritance.

Something, however, must be done, and the something must result in
his son's becoming what he wanted his son to become. Bonbright must
be grasped and shoved into the family groove and made to travel and
function there. There could be no surrender, no wavering, no
concession made by the family. ... The boy must be made into what he
ought to be--but how? And he must have his lesson for this day's
scene. He must be shown that he could not, with impunity, outrage the
Family Tradition and flout the Family Ghosts. ... Again--how?

What Bonbright intended in his present state of boyish rage and
revolt, his father did not consider. It was characteristic of him
that he failed to think of that. All his considerations were of what
he and the Family should do to Bonbright. ... A general would
doubtless have called this defective strategy. To win battles one
must have some notion of the enemy's intentions--and of his
potentialities. ... His determination--set and stiff as cold metal--
was that something unpleasant should happen to the boy and that the
boy should be brought to his senses. ... If anyone had hinted to him
that the boy was just coming to his senses he would have listened as
one listens to a patent absurdity.

He pressed the buzzer which summoned Rangar, and presently that soft-
footed individual appeared silently in the door--looking as Mr. Foote
had never seen him look before. Rangar was breathing hard, he was
flustered, his necktie was awry, and his face was ivory white. Also,
though Mr. Foote did not take in this detail, his eyes smoldered with
restrained malignancy.

"Why, Rangar," said Mr. Foote, "what's wrong?"

"Wrong, Mr. Foote! ... I--It was Mr. Bonbright."

"What about Mr. Bonbright?"

"A moment ago he came rushing out of his office--I use the word
rushing advisedly. ... He was in a rage, sir. He was, you could see
it plain. I--I was in his way, sir, and I stepped aside. But he
wouldn't have it. No, sir, he wouldn't. ... He reached out, Mr.
Foote, and grabbed me; yes, sir, grabbed me right before the whole
office. It was by the front of the shirt and the necktie, and he
shook me. ... He's a strong young man. ... And he said, 'You're the
sneak that's been running to father with lies,' and then he shook me
again. 'I suppose,' he says in a second, 'that I've got to expect to
be spied on. ... Go ahead, it's a job that fits you.' Yes, sir,
that's exactly what he said in his own words. 'Fits me,' says he. And
then he shook me again and threw me across the alleyway so that I
fell over on a desk. 'Spy ahead,' he says, so that everybody in the
office heard him and was snickering at me, 'but report what you see
after this--and see to it it's the truth. ... One more lie like this
one,' he says, and then stopped and rushed on out of the office. It
was a threat, Mr. Foote, and he meant it. He means me harm."

"Nonsense!" said Mr. Foote, holding himself resolutely in the
character he had built for himself. "A fit of boyish temper."

Rangar's eyes glinted, but he made no rejoinder.

"He rather lost his temper with ME," said Mr. Foote, "when I accused
him of a liaison with that girl. ... He denied it, Rangar, or so I
understood. He was very young and--tempestuous about it. Are you sure
you were right?"

"What else would he be going there for, Mr. Foote?"

"My idea exactly."

"Unless, sir, he fancies he's in love with the girl. ... I once knew
a young man in a position similar to Mr. Bonbright's who fell in love
with a girl who sold cigars in a hotel. ... He fairly DOGGED her,
sir. Wanted to marry her. You wouldn't believe it, but that's what he
did, and his family had to buy her off and send her away or he'd have
done it, too. ... It might happen to any young man, Mr. Foote."

"Not to a member of my family, Rangar."

"I can't agree with you, sir. ... Nobody's immune to it. You can't
deny that Mr. Bonbright has been going to see her regularly. Five or
six times he's been there, and stayed a long time every visit. ... It
was one thing or the other he went for, and you can't deny that. If
he says it wasn't what you accused him of, then it was the other."

"You mean that my son--a Foote--could fall in love, as you call it,
with the daughter of a boarding house and a companion of anarchists?"

"I hate to say it to you, sir, but there isn't anything else to
believe. ... He's young, Mr. Foote, and fiery. She isn't bad looking,
either, and she's clever. A clever girl can do a lot with a boy, no
matter who he is, if she sets her heart on him. It wouldn't be a bad
match for a girl like her if she was to entice Mr. Bonbright into a
marriage."

"Impossible, Rangar. ... However, you have an eye kept on him. I want
to be told every move he makes, where he goes, who he sees. I want to
know everything about him, Rangar. Will you see to it?"

"Yes, sir," said Rangar, a gleam of malice again visible in his eyes.

"What do you know about this girl? Have you had her looked up?"

"Not fully, sir. But I've heard she was heart and soul with what
these anarchists believe. Her father was one of them. Killed by the
police or soldiers or somebody. ... The unions educated her. That's
why Dulac went to live there--to help them out. ... And it's been
reported to me, Mr. Foote, that Dulac was sweet on her himself. That
came from a reliable source."

"My son a rival of an anarchist for the favor of the daughter of a
cheap boarding house!" exclaimed Mr. Foote.

"This Dulac was seen, Mr. Foote, with reference to the strike. He's a
fanatic. Nothing could be done with him. He actually offered violence
to our agent who attempted to show him how it would be to his benefit
to--to be less energetic. We offered him--"

"I don't care to hear what we offered him. Such details are
distasteful, Rangar. That's what I hire you for, isn't it?"

"Yes, sir. ... Anyhow, Mr. Foote, he couldn't be bought."

"Yes. ... Yes. Well, we'll have to continue along the lines we've
been following. They have been not unsuccessful."

"True enough. It's just a question of time now. It might do some
good, Mr. Foote, to have the rumor get about that we wouldn't take
back any men who did not apply for reinstatement before the end of
next week. ... There's considerable discontent, due largely to
insufficient nourishment. Yes, we can lay it to that, I imagine. It's
this man Dulac that holds the strike together. If only every laboring
man had a dozen babies there'd be less strikes," Rangar finished, not
exactly callously, but in a matter-of-fact way. If he had thought of
it he might have added, "and a sick wife." Rangar would not have
hesitated to provide each striker with the babies and the wife,
purely as a strike-breaking measure, if he could have managed the
matter.

"They're improvident," said Mr. Foote, sagaciously. "If they must
strike and cut off their earnings every so often, why don't they lay
up savings to carry them through?"

"They seem to have the notion, sir, that they don't earn enough to
save. That, while it isn't their main grievance, is an important one.
But the idiots put nonsensical, immaterial grievances ahead of money
matters mostly. ... Rights! Rights to do this or not to do that--to
organize or to sit at board meetings. They're not practical, Mr.
Foote. If it was just money they wanted we might get on with them.
It's men like this Dulac putting notions into their heads that they
haven't brains enough to think of themselves. Social revolution, you
know--that sort of thing."

"Do what you like about it. You might have notices tacked up outside
the gates stating that we wouldn't take back men who weren't back by
the date you named. And, Rangar, be sure Mr. Bonbright's name is
signed to it. I want to rid the men thoroughly of any absurd ideas
about him."

"You have, sir. If Dulac is a fair sample, you have. Why, he seems
regularly to HATE Mr. Bonbright. Called him names, and that sort of
thing. ... Maybe, though, there's something personal mixed up in it."

"That girl? ..."

"Very likely, sir."

"You know her, Rangar. She worked under you. What sort of girl is
she? ... I mean would you consider it wise to approach her with a
proposition--delicately put, of course--to--say--move to another
city, or something of the sort?"

"My observation of her--while not close--(you understand I have
little opportunity for close observations of unimportant
subordinates)--was that it would be unwise and--er--futile. She
seemed to have quite a will. Indeed, I may say she seemed stubborn
... and no fool. If she's got a chance at Mr. Bonbright she wouldn't
give it up for a few dollars. Not her, sir."

"I don't recall her especially. Small--was she not? Not the--ah--
ripe--rounded type to attract a boy? Eh?"

"Curves and color don't always do it, Mr. Foote, I've observed. I've
known scrawny ones, without a thing to stir up the imagination, that
had ten boys running after them to one running after the kind they
have pictures of on calendars. ... I don't know if it's brains, or
what, but they've got something that attracts."

"Hum! ... Can't say I've had much experience. Probably you're right.
Anyhow, we're faced by something definite in the way of a condition.
... If the thing is merely a liaison--we can break it up, I imagine,
without difficulty. If my son is so blind to right and wrong, and to
his position, as to want to MARRY the girl, we'll have to resort
promptly to effective measures."

"Promptly," said Rangar. "And quietly, Mr. Foote. If she got an idea
there was trouble brewing, she might off with him and get married
before we could wink."

"Heavens! ... An anarchistic boarding-house girl for a daughter-in-
law! We'd be a proud family, Rangar."

"Yes, sir. I understand you leave it with me?"

"I leave it with you to keep an eye on Bonbright. Consult with me
before acting. My son is in a strange humor. He'll take some
handling, I'm afraid, before we bring him to see things as my son
ought to see them. But I'll bring him there, Rangar. I should be
doing my duty very indifferently, indeed, if I did not. He's
resentful. He wants to display a thing he calls his individuality--as
if our family had use for such things. We're Footes, and I rather
fancy the world knows what that means. ... My son shall be a Foote,
Rangar. That's all. ... Stay a moment, though. Hereafter bear in mind
I do not care to be troubled with squalid details. If things have to
be done, do them. ... If babies must be hungry--why, I suppose it is
a condition that must exist from time to time. The fault of their
fathers. ... However, I do not care to hear about them. I am engaged
on an important literary work, as you know, and such things tend to
distract me."

"Naturally, sir," said Rangar.

"But you will on no account relax your firmness with these strikers.
They must be shown."

"They're being shown," said Rangar, grimly, and walked out of the
office. In the corridor his face, which had been expressionless or
obsequious when he saw the need, changed swiftly. His look was that
of a man thinking of an enemy. There was malice, vindictiveness,
hatred in that look, and it expressed with exactness his sentiments
toward young Bonbright Foote. ... It did not express all of them,
for, lurking in the background, unseen, was a deep contempt. Rangar
despised Bonbright as a nincompoop, as he expressed it privately.

"If I didn't think," he said, "I'd get all the satisfaction I need by
leaving him to his father, I'd take a hand myself. But the Foote
spooks will give it to him better than I could. ... I can't wish him
any worse luck than to be left to THEM." He chuckled and felt of his
disarranged tie.

As for Bonbright Foote VI, he was frightened. No other word can
describe his sensations. The idea that his son might marry--actually
MARRY--this girl, was appalling. If the boy should actually take such
an unthinkable step before he could be prevented, what a situation
would arise!

"Of course it wouldn't last," he said to himself. "Such marriages
never do. ... But while it did last--And there might be a child--a
SON!" A Bonbright Foote VIII come of such a mother, with base blood
in his veins! He drew his aristocratic shoulders together as though
he felt a chill.

"When he comes back," Mr. Foote said, "we'll have this thing out."

But Bonbright did not come back that day, nor was he visible at home
that night. ... The next day dragged by and still he did not appear.
...




CHAPTER XII


Ruth Frazer had been working nearly two months for Malcolm Lightener,
and she liked the place. It had been a revelation to her following
her experience with Bonbright Foote, Incorporated. It INTERESTED her,
fascinated her. There was an atmosphere in the tremendous offices--a
tension, a SNAPPINESS, an alertness, an efficiency that made
Bonbright Foote, Incorporated, seem an anachronism; as belonging in
an earlier, more leisurely, less capable century. There was a spirit
among the workers totally lacking in her former place of employment;
there was an attitude in superiors, and most notable in Malcolm
Lightener himself, which was so different from that of Mr. Foote that
it seemed impossible. Foote held himself aloof from contacts with his
help and his business. Malcolm Lightener was everywhere, interested
in everything, mixing into everything. And though she perceived his
granite qualities, experienced his brusqueness, his gruffness, she,
in common with the office, felt for him something that was akin to
affection. He was the sort to draw forth loyalty.

Her first encounter with him occurred a couple of days after her
arrival in the office. She was interrupted in the transcription of a
letter by a stern voice behind her, saying:

"You're young Foote's anarchist, aren't you?"

She looked up frightened into the unsmiling eyes of Malcolm
Lightener.

"Mr. Foote--got me my place here," she said, hesitatingly.

"Here--take this letter." And almost before she could snatch book and
pencil he was dictating, rapidly, dynamically. When Malcolm Lightener
dictated a letter he did it as though he were making a public speech,
with emphasis and gesture. "There," he said, "read it back to me."

She did, her voice unsteady.

"Spell isosceles," he demanded.

She managed the feat accurately.

"Uh! ... That usually gets 'em. ... Needn't transcribe that letter.
Like it here?"

"Yes, sir."

"Why?"

She looked up at him, considering the matter. Why did she like it
there? "Because," she said, slowly, "it doesn't seem like just a--a--
big, grinding machine, and the people working here like wheels and
pulleys and little machines. It all feels ALIVE, and--and--we feel
like human beings."

"Huh! ..." he grunted, and frowned down at her. "Brains," he said.
"Mighty good thing to have. Took brains to be able to think that--and
say it." He turned away, then said, suddenly, over his shoulder, "Got
any bombs in your desk?"

"Bombs! ..."

"Because," he said, with no trace of a smile, "we don't allow little
girls to bring bombs in here. ... If you see anything around that you
think needs an infernal machine set off under it, why, you come and
tell me. See? ... Tell me before you explode anything--not after. You
anarchists are apt to get the cart before the horse."

"I'm not an anarchist, Mr. Lightener."

"Huh! ... What are you, then?"

"I think--I'm sure I'm a Socialist."

"All of the same piece of cloth. ... Mind, if you feel a bomb coming
on--see me about it." He walked away to stop by the desk of a mailing
clerk and enter into some kind of conversation with the boy.

Ruth looked after him in a sort of daze. Then she heard the girls
about her laughing.

"You've passed your examination, Miss Frazer," said the girl at the
next desk. "Everybody has to. ... You never can tell what he's going
to do, but he's a dear. Don't let him scare you. If he thought he had
he'd be tickled to death--and then he'd find some way to show you you
needn't be at all."

"Oh!" said Ruth.

More than once she saw laboring men, machinists, men in greasy
overalls, with grimy hands and smeared faces, pass into Malcolm
Lightener's office, and come out with the Big Boss walking beside
them, talking in a familiar, gruff, interested way. She was startled
sometimes to hear such men address him by his first name--and to see
no lightning from heaven flash blastingly. She was positively
startled once when a machinist flatly contradicted Lightener in her
hearing on some matter pertaining to his work.

"That hain't the way at all," the man said, flatly. Ruth waited for
the explosion.

"Landers planned it that way." Landers was chief engineer in the
plant, drawing a princely salary.

"Landers is off his nut. He got it out of a book. I'm DOIN' it. I
tell you it won't work."

"Why?" Always Lightener had a WHY. He was constantly shooting it at
folks, and it behooved them to have a convincing answer. The
machinist had, and he set it forth at length and technically.
Lightener listened.

"You win," he said, when the man was done. That was all.

More than once Ruth saw Hilda Lightener in the office. Usually the
girls in an office fancy they have a grudge against the fortunate
daughter of their employer. They are sure she snubs them, or is a
snob, or likes to show off her feathers before them. This was notably
absent in Hilda's case. She knew many by name and stopped to chat
with them. She was simple, pleasant, guiltless of pomp and
circumstance in her comings and goings.

"They say she's going to marry young Foote. The Foote company makes
axles for us," said Ruth's neighbor, and after that Ruth became more
interested in Hilda.

She liked Bonbright Foote and was sorry for him. Admitting the
unwisdom of his calls upon her, she had not the heart to forbid him,
especially that he had shown no signs of sentiment, or of stepping
beyond the boundary lines of simple friendship. ... She saw to it
that he and Dulac did not meet.

As for Dulac--she had disciplined him for his outbreak as was the
duty of a self-respecting young woman, and had made him eat his piece
of humble pie. It had not affected her veneration for his work, nor
her admiration for the man and his sincerity and his ability. ... She
had answered his question, and the answer had been yes, for she had
come to believe that she loved him. ...

She saw how tired he was looking. She perceived the discouragements
that weighed on him, and saw, as he refused to see, that the strike
was a failure in spite of his efforts. And she was sensible. The
strike had failed; nothing was to be gained by sustaining the ebbing
remnants of it, by making men and women and children suffer futilely.
... She would have ended it and begun straight-way preparing a strike
that would not fail. But she did not say so to him. He HAD to fight.
She saw that. She saw, too, that it was not in him to admit defeat or
to surrender. It would be necessary to crush him first.

And then, at five o'clock, as she came out of the office she found
Bonbright Foote waiting for her in his car. It had never happened
before.

"I--I came for you," he said, awkwardly, yet with something of
tenseness in his voice.

"You shouldn't," she said, not unkindly. He would understand the
reasons.

"I had to," he said. "I--all day I've done nothing but wait to see
you. I've got to talk to you. ... Please, now that I'm here, won't
you get in?"

She saw that something was wrong, that something out of the ordinary
had happened, and as she stepped into the car she shot a glance at
his set face and felt a wave of sympathy for him.

"I want you to--to have something to eat with me--out in the country.
I want to get away from town. Let me send a messenger to your mother.
I know you don't want to, and--and all that, but you'll come, won't
you?"

Ruth considered. There was much to consider, but she knew he was an
honest, wholesome boy--and he was in trouble.

"This once," she said, and let him see her grin.

"Thank you," he said, simply.

It was but a short drive to an A. D. T. office, where Bonbright wrote
a message to Mrs. Frazer:

I'm taking your daughter to Apple Lake to dinner. I hope you won't
mind. And I promise to have her home safe and early.

A boy was dispatched with this, and Bonbright and Ruth drove out the
Avenue with the evening sun in their faces, toward distant, beautiful
Apple Lake. Bonbright drove in silence, his eyes on the road. Ruth
was alone in her appreciation of the loveliness of the waning day.

The messenger left on his bicycle, but had not gone farther than
around the first corner when a gentleman drew up beside him in an
automobile.

"Hey, kid, I want to speak to you," said Mr. Rangar.

The boy stopped and the car stopped.

"You've got a message there that I'm interested in," said Rangar. "It
isn't sealed. I want a look at it." He held out a five-dollar bill.
The boy pocketed the bill and handed over the message, which Rangar
read and returned to him. Then Rangar drove to the office from which
the boy had come and dispatched a message of his own, one not covered
by his instructions from Mr. Foote. It was a private matter with him,
inspired by an incident of the morning having to do with a rumpled
necktie and a ruffled dignity. The malice which had glittered in his
eyes then was functioning now.

Rangar's message was to Dulac.

"Your girl's just gone to Apple Lake with young Foote in his car," it
said. That was all, but it seemed ample to Rangar.

Bonbright was not a reckless driver, but he drove rapidly this
evening, with a sort of driven eagerness. From, time to time Ruth
turned and glanced at his face and wondered what could have happened,
for she had never seen him like this before, even in his darkest
moments. There was a new element in his bearing, an element never
there before. Discouragement, apathy, she had seen, and bitterness.
She had seen wistfulness, hopelessness, chagrin, humiliation, but
never until now had she seen set determination, smoldering embers of
rage. What, she wondered, could this boy's father have done to him
now?

Soon they were beyond the rim of industry which banded the city, and,
leaving behind them towering chimneys, smokeless for the night,
clouds of released working-men waiting their turns to crowd into
overloaded street cars, the grimy, busy belt line which extended in a
great arc through the body of the manufacturing strip, they passed
through sprouting, mushroomlike suburban villages--villages which had
not been there the year before, which would be indistinguishable from
the city itself the year after. Farther on they sped between huge-
lettered boards announcing the location of real-estate developments
which as yet consisted only of new cement sidewalks, immature trees
promising future shade, and innumerable stakes marking lot
boundaries. Mile after mile these extended, a testimonial to the
faith of men in the growth of their city. ... And then came the
country, guiltless of the odors of gregarious humanity, of gasses, of
smokes, of mankind itself, and of the operations which were preparing
its food. Authentic farms spread about them; barns and farmhouses
were dropped down at intervals; everywhere was green quiet, softened,
made to glow enticingly by the sun's red disk about to dip behind the
little hills. ... All this Ruth saw and loved. It was an unaccustomed
sight, for she was tied to the city. It altered her mood, softened
her, made her more pliable. Bonbright could have planned no better
than to have driven her along this road. ...

Presently they turned off at right angles, upon a country road shaded
by century-old maples--a road that meandered leisurely along, now
dipping into a valley created for agriculture, now climbing a
hillside rich with fruit trees; and now and then, from hilltop, or
through gap in the verdure, the gleam of quiet, rush-fringed lakes
came to Ruth--and touched her, touched her so that her heart was soft
and her lashes wet. ... The whole was so placid, so free from
turmoil, from competition, from the tussling of business and the
surging upward of down-weighted classes. She was grateful to it.

Yet when, as she did now and then, she glanced at Bonbright, she felt
the contrast. All that was present in the landscape was absent from
his soul. There was no peace there, no placidity, but unrest,
bitterness, unhappiness--grimness. Yes, grimness. When the word came
into her mind she knew it was the one she had been searching for. ...
Why was he so grim?

Presently they entered upon a road which ran low beside Apple Lake
itself, with tiny ripples lapping almost at the tire marks in the
sand. She looked, and breathed deeply and gladly. If she could only
live on such a spot! ...

The club house was deserted save by the few servants, and Bonbright
gave directions that they should be served on the veranda. It was
almost the first word he had littered since leaving the city. He led
the way to a table, from which they could sit and look out on the
water.

"It's lovely," she said.

"I come here a good deal," he said, without explanation, but she
understood.

"If I were you, I'd LIVE here. Every day I would have the knowledge
that I was coming home to THIS in the evening. ... You could. Why
don't you, I wonder?"

"I don't know. I can't remember a Foote who has ever lived in such a
place. If it hasn't been done in my family, of course I couldn't do
it."

She pressed her lips together at the bitter note in his voice. It was
out of tune. "Have the ancestors been after you?" she asked. She
often spoke of the ancestors lightly and jokingly, which she saw he
rather liked.

"The whole lot have been riding me hard. And I'm a well-trained nag.
I never buck or balk. ... I never did till to-day."

"To-day?"

"I bucked them off in a heap," he said, with no trace of humor. He
was dead serious. "I didn't know I could do it, but all of a sudden I
was plunging and rearing--and snorting, I expect. ... And they were
off."

"To stay?"

He dropped his eyes and fell silent. "Anyhow," he said, presently,
"it's a relief to be running free even for an hour."

"When they go to climb back why don't you buck some more? Now that
they're off--keep them off."

"It's not so easy. You see, I've been trained all my life to carry
them. You can't break off a thing like that in an instant. A priest
doesn't turn atheist in a night ... and this Family Tradition
business is like a religion. It gets into your bones. You RESPECT it.
You feel it demanding things of you and you can't refuse. ... I
suppose there is a duty."

"To yourself," she said, quickly.

"To THEM--and to the--the future. ... But I bucked them off once.
Maybe they'll never ride so hard again, and maybe they'll try to
break me by riding harder. ... Until to-day I never had a notion of
fighting back--but I'm going to give them a job of it now. ... There
are things I WILL do. They sha'n't always have their way. Right now,
Miss Frazer, I've broken with the whole thing. They may be able to
fetch me back. I don't know. ... Sometime I'll have to go. When
father's through I'd have to go, anyhow--to head the business."

"Your father ought to change the name of the business to Family
Ghosts, Incorporated," she said, with an attempt to lighten his
seriousness.

"I'll be general manager--responsible to a board of directors from
across the Styx," he said, with an approach to a smile. "Here's our
waiter. I telephoned our order. Hope I've chosen to please you."

"Indeed you have," she replied. "I feel quite the aristocrat. I ought
not to do this sort of thing. ... But I'm glad to do it once. I abhor
the rich," she said, laughing, "but some of the things they do and
have are mighty pleasant."

After a while she said: "If I were a rich man's wife I'd be something
more than a society gadabout. I'd insist on knowing his business ...
and I'd make him do a lot of things for his workmen. Think of being a
woman and able to do so much for thousands of--of my class," she
finished.

"Your class!" he said, sharply.

"I belong to the laboring class. First, because I was born into it,
and, second, because my heart is with it."

"Class doesn't touch you. It doesn't concern you. You're YOURSELF."
For the first time in her acquaintance with him he made her uneasy.
His eyes and the way he spoke those sentences disturbed her.

"Nonsense!" she said.

Neither spoke for some time. It was growing dark now, and lights were
glowing on the veranda. "When we're through," Bonbright said, "let's
walk down by the lake. There's a bully walk and a place to sit. ... I
asked you to come because I wanted to take you there--miles away from
everybody. ..."

She was distinctly startled now, but helpless. She read storm
signals, but no harbor was at hand.

"We must be getting back," she said, lamely.

"It's not eight. We can go back in an hour. ... Shall we walk down
now? I can't wait, Ruth, to say what I've got to say. ..."

It was impossible to hold back, futile to attempt escape. She knew
now why he had brought her and what he wanted to say, but she could
not prevent it. ... If he must have his say let it be where he
desired. Very grave now, unhappy, her joy marred, she walked down the
steps by his side and along the shore of the lake. "Here," he said,
presently, drawing her into a nook occupied by a bench. She sat down
obediently.

Was it fortunate or unfortunate that she did not know an automobile
was just turning into the lake road, a hired automobile, occupied by
her fiance, Dulac? Rangar's note had reached his hands and he had
acted as Rangar had hoped. ...




CHAPTER XIII


Until a few moments before Ruth had never had a suspicion of
Bonbright's feeling for her; she had not imagined he would ever cross
that distinct line which separates the friend from the suitor. It was
an unpleasant surprise to her. Not that he was repugnant to her, but
she had already bestowed her affections, and now she would have to
hurt this boy who had already suffered so much at the hands of
others. She recoiled from it. She blamed herself for her blindness,
but she was not to blame. What she had failed to foresee Bonbright
himself had realized only that morning.

He had awakened suddenly to the knowledge that his sentiment for Ruth
Frazer was not calm friendship, but throbbing love. He had been
awakened to it rudely, not as most young men are shown that they
love. ... When he flung out of his father's office that morning he
had recognized only a just rage; hardly had his feet carried him over
the threshold before rage was crowded out by the realization of love.
His father's words had aroused his rage because he loved the woman
they maligned! Suddenly he knew it. ...

"It's SO," he said to himself. "It's so--and I didn't know it."

It was disconcerting, but he was glad. Almost at once he realized
what a change this thing brought into his life, and the major
consequences of it. ... First, he would have her--he must have her--
he would not live without her. It required no effort of determination
to arrive at that decision. To win her, to have her for his own, was
now the one important thing in his life. To do so would mean--what
would it mean? The Family, dead and living, would be outraged. His
father would stand aghast at his impiousness; his mother, class
conscious as few of the under dogs are ever class conscious, would
refuse to receive this girl as her daughter. ... There would be
bitterness--but there would be release. By this one step he would
break with the Family Tradition and the Family Ghosts. They would
cast him out. ... But would they cast him out? He was Bonbright Foote
VII, crown prince of the dynasty, vested with rights in the family
and in the family's property by family laws of primogeniture and
entail. ... No, he would not be cast out, could not be cast out, for
his father would let no sin of his son's stand in the way of a
perpetuation of the family. Bonbright knew that if a complete breach
opened between his father and himself it must be his hand that opened
it. His father's would never do so. ... He wondered if he could do
so--if, when he was calm, he would desire to do so.

Once he recognized his love he could not be still; office walls could
not contain him. He was in a fever to see Ruth with newly opened
eyes, with eyes that would see her as they had not seen her in the
days before. ... He rushed out--to encounter Hangar, and to
experience a surging return of rage. ... Then he went on, with no aim
or purpose but to get rid of the time that must pass before he could
see Ruth. It was ten o'clock, and he could not see her until five.
Seven hours. ...

Now she was here, within reach of his hand, her face, not beautiful
by day, very lovely to his eyes as the rising moon stretched a ribbon
of light across the lake to touch her with its magic glow... and he
could not find words to say what must be said.

He had seated her on the bench and now paced up and down before her,
struggling to become coherent.

Then words came, a torrent of them, not coherent, not eloquent, but
REAL. Ruth recognized the reality in them. "I want you," he said,
standing over her. "I didn't know--I didn't realize ... until to-day.
It's so. ... It's been so right along. That's why I had to come to
you. ... I couldn't get along without seeing you, but I didn't know
why. ... I thought it was to see you smile. But it was because I had
to be near you. ... I want to be near you always. This morning I
found out--and all day I've waited to see you. ... That's all I've
done--thought about you and waited. It seems as if morning were years
away. ... I don't know what I've done all day--just wandered around.
I didn't eat--until to-night. I couldn't. I couldn't do anything
until I saw you--and told you. ... That's why I brought you here. ...
I wanted to tell you HERE--not back there. ... Away from all that.
... I can't go on without you--that's what you mean to me. You're
NECESSARY--like air or water. ... I--Maybe you haven't thought about
me this way. I didn't about you. ... But you MUST ... you MUST!"

It was pitiful. Tears wet Ruth's cheeks and she caught her breath to
restrain a rising sob.

He became calmer, gentler. "Maybe I've surprised you," he said.
"Maybe I've frightened you--I hope not. I don't mean to frighten you.
I don't want you ever to be frightened or worried. ... I want to keep
all kinds of suffering out of your life if you'll let me. Won't you
let me? ..." He stood waiting.

"Mr. Foote," she said, presently, "I--" then she stopped. She had
intended to tell him about Dulac; that she loved him and had promised
to marry him, but she could not utter the words. It would hurt him so
to know that she loved another man. She could refuse him without that
added pain. "Don't you see," she said, "how impossible it is? It
wouldn't do--even if I cared for you."

"If you cared for me," he said, "nothing could make it impossible."

"We belong in different worlds. ... You couldn't come down to mine; I
wouldn't fit into yours. My world wouldn't have you, and your world
wouldn't have me. ... Don't you see?"

"I don't see. What has your world or mine to do with it? It's just
you and me."

"When you saw that your family wouldn't have me, when you found out
that your friends wouldn't be friends with me, and that they didn't
want to be friends with you any longer just because you married me
..."

"I don't want any friends or family but you," he said, eagerly,
boyishly.

"Be reasonable, Mr. Foote. ... You're rich. Some day you'll be the
head of a great business--with thousands of men working for you. ...
I belong with them. You must be against them. ... I couldn't bear it.
You know all about me. I've been brought up to believe the things I
believe. My father and grandfather and HIS grandfather worked and
suffered for them. ... Just as your ancestors have worked and planned
for the things you represent. ... It wouldn't ever do. We couldn't be
happy. Even if I--cared--and did as you ask--it wouldn't last."

"It would last," he said. "I KNOW. I've been trying to tell you, to
make you believe that you have crowded everything else out of my
life. There's just you in it. ... It would last--and every day and
every year it would grow--more wonderful."

"There must be agreement and sympathy between a husband and his wife,
Mr. Foote. ... Oh, I KNOW. In the bigger things. And there we could
never agree. It would make trouble--trouble that couldn't be avoided
nor dodged. It would be there with us every minute--and we'd know it.
You'd know I hated the things you stand for and the things you have
to do. ... No man could bear that--to have his wife constantly
reproaching him."

"I think," he said, "that your word would be my law. ..."

She sat silent, startled. Unasked, unsought, a thought had entered
her mind; a terrifying thought, but a big and vital thought. HER WORD
WOULD BE HIS LAW. Her influence would be upon him. ... And he was
master of thousands of her class. He would be master of more
thousands. ... If she were his wife--if her word might become his
law--how would those laboring men be affected? Would her word be his
law with respect to them? ...

She did not love him, but she did love the Cause she represented,
that her promised husband, Dulac, represented. ... Her father had
given his life for it. She had given nothing. Now she could give--
herself. ... She could sacrifice herself, she could pass by her love--
but would it avail anything? ... This boy loved her, loved her with
all his strength and honesty. He would continue to love her. She
believed that. ... If, not loving him, she should marry him, she
would be able to hold his love--and her word would be in some sort
his law. She could influence him--not abruptly, not suddenly, but
gradually, cleverly, cunningly. She could use him for her great
purpose. Thousands of men might be happier, safer from hunger and
misery, closer to a realization of their hope, if she gave herself to
this boy. ... She was filled with exaltation--a Joan of Arc listening
to her Voices. ...

It was possible--possible. ... And if it were possible, if she could
accomplish this great thing for the Cause, dared she avoid it? Was it
not a holy duty?

Remember her parentage, her training; remember that she had drawn
into her being enthusiasm, fanaticism with the air she breathed in
the very cradle. She was a revolutionist. ... Greater crimes than
loveless marriages have been committed in the name of Enthusiasm for
a Cause.

She hesitated. What should she say?. ... She must think, for a new
face was upon the matter. She must think, and she must talk with
Dulac. Dulac was stronger than she--but he saw eye to eye with her.
The things she set up and worshiped in their shrines he worshiped
more fervently. ... She must put the boy off with evasion. She must
postpone her answer until she was certain she saw her duty clearly.

Love of humanity in the mass was in her heart--it shouldered out
fairness to an individual man. She did not think of this. If she had
thought it might not have mattered, for if she were willing to
immolate herself would she not have been as ready to sacrifice one
man--for the good of thousands?

"I-" she began, and was dimly conscious of shame at her duplicity. "I
did not know you--wanted me this way. ... Let me think. I can't
answer--to-night. Wait. ... Give me time."

His voice was glad as he answered, and its gladness shamed her again.
"Wait. ... I'd wait forever. But I don't want to wait forever. ... It
is more than I hoped, more than I had the right to hope. I know I
took you by surprise. ... Let me have time and the chance to make you
love me--to let you get used to the idea of my loving you. But try
not to be long. I'm impatient--you don't know how impatient. ..."

"I-I sha'n't be long," she said. "You mustn't build too many hopes. ..."

He laughed. She had never heard him laugh with such lightness, with
such a note of soul-gladness, before. "Hope. ... I shall eat and
drink hope--until you--come to me. For you will come to me. I know
it. ... It couldn't be any other way." He laughed again, gayly. And
then from out the blackness of the surrounding shrubbery there
plunged the figure of a man. ...

Before Bonbright could lift a hand to shield himself blows began to
fall, blows not delivered with the naked fist. Once, twice, again the
man struck with the strength of frenzy. Ruth sat silent, stunned,
paralyzed by fright, and uttered no scream. Then she saw the face of
Bonbright's assailant. It was Dulac--and she understood.

She sprang to him, clutched at his arm, but he hurled her off and
struck again. ... It was enough. Bonbright stood wavering a moment,
struggling to remain upright, but sagging slowly. Then he slumped to
the ground in a sort of uncanny sitting posture, his head sunk upon
his knees.

Ruth stood looking down upon him with horror-widened eyes. Dulac
hurled his weapon into the bushes and turned upon her furiously,
seizing her arm and dragging her to him so that his eyes, glowing
with unreason, could burn into hers.

"Oh--" she moaned.

"I've taught him," Dulac said, his voice quivering with rage. "It was
time... the vermin. Because he was rich he thought he was safe. He
thought he could do anything. ... But I've taught him. They starve us
and stamp on us--and then steal our wives and smirch our
sweethearts."

Ruth tried to bend over Bonbright, to lift his head, to give him
assistance, but Dulac jerked her away.

"Don't touch him. Don't dare to touch him," he said.

"He doesn't--move," she said, in a horrified whisper. "Maybe you've-
killed him."

"He deserved it. ... And you--have you anything to say? What are you
doing here--with him?"

"Let me go," she panted. "Let me see--I must see. He can't be--dead.
... You--you BEAST!" she cried, shrilly. "He was good. He meant no
harm. ... He loved me, and that's why this happened. It's my fault--
my fault."

"Be still," he commanded. "He loved you--you admit it. You dare admit
it--and you here alone with him at night."

"He asked--me--to--marry--him," she said, faintly. "He was not--what
you think. ... He was a good--boy."

Suddenly she tried to break from him to go to Bonbright, but he
clutched her savagely. "Help! ... Help! ..." she cried. Then his hand
closed over her mouth and he gathered her up in his arms and carried
her away.

He did not look behind at Bonbright huddled there with the ribbon of
moonlight pointing across the lake at his limp body, but half
staggered, half ran to his waiting car. ... A snarled word, and the
engine started. Ruth, choking, helpless, was carried away, leaving
Bonbright alone and still. ...




CHAPTER XIV


Bonbright was on his hands and knees on the edge of the lake, dizzily
slopping water on his head and face. He was struggling toward
consciousness, fighting dazedly for the power to act. As one who, in
a dream, reviews the events of another half-presented dream, he knew
what had happened. Consciousness had not fully deserted him. Dulac
had attacked him; Dulac had carried Ruth away. ... Somehow he had no
fears for her personal safety, but he must follow. He must KNOW that
she was safe. ...

Not many minutes had passed since Dulac struck him down. His body was
strong, well trained to sustain shocks and to recover from them,
thanks to four years of college schooling in the man's game of
football. Since he left college he had retained the respect for his
body which had been taught him, and with golf and tennis and
gymnasium he had kept himself fit ... so that now his vital forces
marshaled themselves quickly to fight his battle for him. Presently
he raised himself to his feet and stood swaying dizzily; with fingers
that fumbled he tied his handkerchief about his bruised head and
staggered toward his car, for his will urged him on to follow Dulac.

To crank the motor (for the self-starter had not yet arrived) was a
task of magnitude, but he accomplished it and pulled himself into the
seat. For a moment he lay upon the steering wheel, panting, fighting
back his weakness; then he thrust forward his control lever and the
car began to move. The motion, the kindly touch of the cool night air
against his head, stimulated him; he stepped on the gas pedal and the
car leaped forward as though eager for the pursuit.

Out into the main road he lurched, grimly clutching the steering
wheel, leaning on it for support, his aching, blurred eyes clinging
to the illuminated way before him, and he drove as he had never
ventured to drive before. Beating against his numbed brain was his
will's sledge-hammer demands for speed, and he obeyed recklessly. ...

Roadside objects flicked by, mile after mile was dropped behind, the
city's outskirts were being snatched closer and closer--and then he
saw the other car far ahead. All that remained to be asked of his car
he demanded now, and he overhauled the smaller, less speedy machine.
Now his lights played on its rear and his horn sounded a warning and
a demand. Dulac's car veered to the side to let him pass, and he
lurched by, only turning a brief, wavering glance upon the other
machine to assure himself that Ruth was there. He saw her in a
flashing second, in the tonneau, with Dulac by her side. ... She was
safe, uninjured. Then Bonbright left them behind.

The road narrowed, with deep ditches on either hand. Here was the
place he sought. He set his brakes, shut off his power, and swung his
car diagonally across the way, so that it would be impossible for
Dulac to pass. Then he alighted, and stood waiting, holding on to his
machine for support.

The other car came to a stop and Dulac sprang out. Bonbright saw Ruth
rise to follow; heard Dulac say, roughly: "Get back. Stay where you
are."

"No," she replied, and stepped to the road.

Bonbright could see how pale she was, how frightened.

"Don't be afraid," he said to her. "Nothing is going to--happen."

He stood erect now, free from the support of the car, waiting for
Dulac, who approached menacingly.

"Dulac," he said, "I can't--fight you. I can't even---defend myself--
much. ... Unless you insist."

The men were facing each other now, almost toe to toe. Dulac's face
was stormy with passion under scant restraint; Bonbright, though he
swayed a bit unsteadily, faced him with level eyes. Ruth saw the
decent courage of the boy and her fear for him made her clutch
Dulac's sleeve. The man shook her off.

"I know--why you attacked me," said Bonbright, slowly, "what you
thought. ... I--stopped you to--be sure Miss Frazer was safe ... and
to tell you you were--wrong. ... Not that you have a--right to
question me, but nobody must think--ill of Miss Frazer. ... No
misunderstanding. ..."

"Get that car out of the way," said Dulac.

Bonbright shook his head. "Not till I'm--through," he said. "Then you
may--take Miss Frazer home. ... But be kind to her--gentle. ... I
shall ask her about it--and I sha'n't be--knocked out long."

"You threaten me, you pampered puppy!"

"Yes," said Bonbright, grimly, "exactly."

Dulac started to lift his arm, but Ruth caught it. "No. ... No," she
said, in a tense whisper. "You mustn't. Can't you see how--hurt he
is? He can hardly stand. ... You're not a COWARD. ..."

"Dulac," said Bonbright, "here's the truth: I took Miss Frazer to the
lake to--ask her to--marry me. ... No other reason. She was--safe
with me--as with you. I want her for--my wife. Do you understand? ...
You thought--what my father thought."

Ruth uttered a little cry. So THAT was what had happened!

"All the decency in the world," Bonbright said, "isn't in--union men,
workingmen. ... Because I have more money than you--you want to
believe--anything of me. ... You're even willing to--believe it of
her. ... I can--love as well as if I were poor. ... I can--honor and
respect the girl I want to marry as well as if I--carried a union
card. ... That is TRUE."

Dulac laughed shortly; then, even in his rage, he became oratorical,
theatrical.

"We know the honor and respect of your kind. ... We know what our
sisters and daughters have to expect from you. We've learned it. You
talk fair--you dangle your filthy money under their eyes--you promise
this and you promise that. ... And then you throw away your toys. ...
They come back to us covered with disgrace, heart-broken, marked
forever, and fit to be no man's wife. ... That's your respect and
honor. That's your decency. ... Leave our women alone. ... Go to your
bridge-playing, silly, husband-swapping society women. They know you.
They know what to expect from you--and get what they deserve. Leave
our women alone. ... Leave this girl alone. We men have to endure
enough at your hands, but we won't endure this. ... We'll do as I did
to-night. I thrashed you--"

"Like a coward, in the dark, from behind," said Bonbright, boyish
pride insisting upon offering its excuse. "I didn't stop you to argue
about capital and labor. I stopped you--to tell you the truth about
to-night. I've told it."

"You've lied the way your kind always lies."

Bonbright's lips straightened, his eyes hardened, and he leaned
forward. "I promised Miss Frazer nothing--should happen. It sha'n't.
... But you're a fool, Dulac. You know I'm telling the truth--but you
won't admit it--because you don't want to. Because I'm not on your
side, you won't admit it. ... And that makes you a fool. ... Be
still. You haven't hesitated to tell me I lied. I've taken that--and
you'll take what I have to say. It isn't much. I don't know much
about the--differences between your kind and my kind. ... But your
side gets more harm than good from men like you. You're a blind
fanatic. You cram your men on lies and stir them up to hate us. ...
Maybe there's cause, but you magnify it. ... You won't see the truth.
You won't see reason. ... You hold us apart. Maybe you're honest--
fanatics usually are, but fanatics are fools. It does no good to tell
you so. I'm wasting my breath. ... Now take Miss Frazer home--and be
careful how you treat her."

He turned his back squarely and pulled himself into his car. Then he
turned to Ruth. "Good night, Miss Frazer," he said. "I am sorry--for
all this. ... May I come for--your answer to-morrow?"

"No. ..." she said, tremulously. "Yes. ..."

Bonbright straightened his car in the road and drove on. He was at
the end of his strength. He wanted the aid of a physician, and then
he wanted to lie down and sleep, and sleep. The day that had preceded
the attack upon him had been wearing enough to exhaust the sturdiest.
The tension of waiting, the anxiety, the mental disturbance, had
demanded their usual wages of mind and body. Sudden shock had done
the rest.

He drove to the private hospital of a doctor of his acquaintance, a
member of his club, and gained admission. The doctor himself was
there, by good fortune, and saw Bonbright at once, and examined the
wounds in his scalp.

"Strikers get you?" he asked.

"Automobile mix-up," said Bonbright, weakly.

"Uh-huh!" said the doctor. "I suppose somebody picked up a light
roadster and struck you over the head with it. ... Not cut much. No
stitches. A little adhesive'll do the trick--and then. ... Sort of
excited, eh? Been under a bit of a strain? ... None of my business,
of course. ... Get into bed and I'll send up something to tone you
down and make you sleep. You've been playing in too high a key--your
fiddle strings are too tight."

Getting into that cool, soft bed was one of the pleasantest
experiences of Bonbright's life. He was almost instantly asleep--and
he still slept, even at the deliberate hour that saw his father enter
the office at the mills.

Mr. Foote was disturbed. He had not seen his son since the boy flung
out of the office the morning before; had had no word of him. He had
expected Bonbright to come home in the evening and had waited for him
in the library to have a word with him. He had come to the conclusion
that it would be best to throw some sort of sop to Bonbright in the
way of apparent authority, of mock responsibility. It would occupy
the boy's mind, he thought, while in no way altering the conditions,
not affecting the end to be arrived at. Bonbright must be held. ...
If it were necessary to administer an anaesthetic while the operation
of remaking him into a true Foote was performed, why, the anaesthetic
would be forthcoming.

But Bonbright did not come, even with twelve strokes of the clock.
His father retired, but in no refreshing sleep. ... On that day no
progress had been made with the Marquis Lafayette. That work required
a calm that Mr. Foote could not master.

His first act after seating himself at his desk was to summon Rangar.

"My son was not at home last night," he said. "I have not seen him
since yesterday morning. I hope you can give me an account of him."

"Not home last night, Mr. Foote!" Manifestly Rangar was startled. He
had not been at ease before, for be had been unable to pick up any
trace of the boy this morning; had not seen him return home the night
before. ... It might be that he had gone too far when he sent his
anonymous note to Dulac. Dulac had gone in pursuit, of that he had
made sure. But what had happened? Had the matter gone farther than
the mere thrashing he had hoped for? ... He was frightened.

"I directed you to keep him under your eye."

"Your directions were followed, Mr. Foote, so far as was possible. I
know where he was yesterday, and where he went last night, but when a
young man is running around the country in an automobile with a girl,
it's mighty hard to keep at his heels. He was with that girl."

"When? ... What happened?"

"He waited for her at the Lightener plant. She works there now. They
drove out the Avenue together--some place into the country. Mr.
Bonbright is a member of the Apple Lake Club, and I was sure they
were going there. ... That's the last I know."

"Telephone the Apple Lake Club. See if he was there and when he
left."

Rangar retired to do so, and returned presently to report that
Bonbright and a young lady had dined there, but had not been seen
after they left the table. Nobody could say when they went away from
the club.

"Call Malcolm Lightener--at his office. Once the boy stayed at his
house."

Rangar made the call, and, not able to repress the malice that was in
him, went some steps beyond his directions. Mr. Lightener was on the
wire.

"This is Rangar, Mr. Lightener--Bonbright Foote, Incorporated. Mr.
Foote wished me to inquire if you had seen Mr. Bonbright between six
o'clock last night and this morning."

"No. ... Why does he ask me? What's the matter?"

"Mr. Foote says Bonbright stayed with you one night, and thought he
might have done so again. Mr. Foote is worried, sir. The young man
has--er--vanished, so to speak. He was seen last at your plant about
five o'clock. In his automobile, Mr. Lightener. He was waiting for a
young woman who works for you--a Miss Frazer, I understand. Used to
be his secretary. They drove away together, and he hasn't been seen
since. ... Mr. Foote has feared some sort of--er--understanding
between them."

"Huh!" grunted Lightener. "Don't know anything about it. Tell Foote
to look after his own son ... if he knows how." Then the receiver
clicked.

Lightener swung away from the telephone and scowled at the wall. "He
don't look it," he said, presently, "and I'm darned if SHE does. ...
Huh! ..." He pressed a button. "Send in Miss Frazer," he said to the
boy who answered the buzzer.

In a moment Ruth stood in the door. He let her stand while he
scrutinized her briefly. She looked ill. Her eyes were dull and
marked by surrounding darkness. She had no color. He shook his head
Like a displeased lion.

"Miss Frazer," he said, gruffly, "I make it a practice always to mind
my own business except when there's some reason for not minding it--
which is frequent."

"Yes, sir," she said, as he paused.

"Yes, sir. ... Yes, sir. What do YOU know about it? Come in and shut
the door. Come over here where I can look at you. What's the matter?
Ill? If you're sick what are you doing here? Home's the place for
you."

"I'm not ill, Mr. Lightener."

"Huh! ... I liked your looks--like 'em yet. Like everybody's looks
who works here, or I wouldn't have 'em. ... You're all right, I'll
bet a dollar--all RIGHT. ... You know young Foote got you your job
here?"

He saw the sudden intake of her breath as Bonbright's name was
mentioned. "Yes," she said, faintly.

"What about him?... Know him well? LIKE HIM?"

"I--I know him quite well, Mr. Lightener. Yes, I--like him."

"Trust him?"

She looked at him a moment before replying; then her chin lifted a
trifle and there came a glint into her eyes. "Absolutely," she said.

"Um!... Good enough. So do I. ... Enough to let him play around with
my daughter. ... Has he anything to do with the way you look to-
day?... Not a fair question--yet. You needn't answer."

"I shouldn't," she said, and he smiled at the asperity of her tone.

"Mr. Bonbright Foote seems to be causing his family anxiety," he
said. "He's disappeared. ... I guess they think you carried him off.
Did you go somewhere with him in his car last night?"

"You have no right to question me, Mr. Lightener."

"Don't I know it? I tell you I like you and I like him--and I think
his father's a stiff-backed, circumstantial, ancestor-ridden damn
fool. ... Something's happened or Foote wouldn't be telephoning
around. He's got reason to be frightened, and good and frightened.
... A girl, especially a girl in your place, hasn't any business
being mixed up in any mess, much less with a young millionaire. ...
That's why I'm not minding my own business. You work for me, don't
you--and ain't I responsible for you, sort of? Well, then? Were you
with Bonbright last night?"

"Yes, sir."

"Huh!... Something happened, didn't it?" "Nothing that--Mr. Foote had
anything to do with--"

"But something happened. What?"

"I can't tell you, Mr. Lightener."

He shrugged his shoulders.

"Where is he now?"

"I don't know."

"When did you see him last?"

"A little after nine o'clock last night."

"Where?"

"Going toward home--I thought."

"He didn't go there. Where else would he go?"

"I don't--know." Her voice broke, her self-control was deserting her.

"Hey!... Hold on there. No hysterics or anything. Won't have 'em.
Brace up."

"Let me alone, then," she said, childishly. "Why can't you let me
alone?"

"I--Confound it! I'm not deviling you. I'm trying to haul you out of
a muss. Quit it, will you?" She had sunk into a chair and covered her
face. He got up and stood over her, scowling. "Will you stop it? Hear
me? Stop it, I tell you'... What's the matter--anyhow? If Bonbright
Foote's done anything to you he hadn't ought to I'll skin him alive."

The door opened and Hilda Lightener tripped into the room. "Hello,
dad!" she said. "Surprise. ... I want to--" She stopped to look at
her father, and then at Ruth, crouched in her chair. "What's the
matter, dad?" Hilda asked. "You haven't been scaring this little
girl? If you have--" She paused threateningly.

"Oh, the devil!... I'll get out. You see if you can make her stop it.
Cuddle her, or something. I've done a sweet job of it. ... Miss
Frazer, this is my daughter. Er--I'm going away from here." And he
went, precipitately.

There was a brief silence; then Hilda laid her hand on Ruth's head.
"What's dad been doing to you?" she asked. "Scare you? His bark's a
heap sight worse than his bite."

"He--he's good," said Ruth, tearfully. "He was trying to be good to
me. ... I'm just upset--that's all. I'll be--all right in a moment."
But she was not all right in a moment. Her sobs increased. The
strain, the anxiety, a sleepless night of suffering--and the struggle
she had undergone to find the answer to Bonbright's question--had
tried her to the depths of her soul. Now she gave quite away and,
unwillingly enough, sobbed and mumbled on Hilda Lightener's shoulder,
and clung to the larger girl pitifully, as a frightened baby clings
to its mother.

Hilda's face grew sober, her eyes darkened, as, among Ruth's broken,
fragmentary, choking words, she heard the name of Bonbright Foote.
But her arm did not withdraw from about Ruth's shoulders, nor did the
sympathy in her kind voice lessen. ... Most remarkable of all, she
did not give way to a very natural curiosity. She asked no question.

After a time Ruth grew quieter, calmer.

"I'll tell you what you need," said Hilda. "It's to get away from
here. My electric's downstairs. I'm going to take you away from
father. We'll drive around a bit, and then I'll run you home. ...
You're all aquiver."

She went out, closing the door after her. Her father was pacing
uneasily up and down the alley between the desks, and she motioned to
him.

"She's better now. I'm going to take her home. ... Dad, she was
muttering about Bonbright. What's he got to do with this?"

"I don't know, honey. Nothing--nothing ROTTEN. ... It isn't in him--
nor HER."

Hilda nodded.

"Bonbright seems to have disappeared," her father said.

"DISAPPEARED?"

"His father's hunting for him, anyhow. Hasn't been home all night."

"I don't blame him," said Hilda, with a flash in her eyes. "But
what's this girl got to do with it?"

"I wish you'd find out. I was trying to--and that blew up the house."

"I'll try nothing of the kind," she said. "Of course, if she WANTS to
tell me, and DOES tell me, I'll listen. ... But I won't tell you. You
run your old factory and keep out of such things. You just MESS
them."

"Yes, ma'am," he said, with mock submissiveness, "it looks like I do
just that."

Hilda went back into the room, and presently she and Ruth emerged and
went out of the building. That day began their acquaintance, which
was to expand into a friendship very precious to both of them--and
one day to be the rod and staff that sustained Ruth and kept her from
despair.




CHAPTER XV


Hilda Lightener represented a new experience to Ruth. Never before
had she come into such close contact with a woman of a class she had
been taught to despise as useless and worse than useless. Even more
than they hated the rich man Ruth's class hated the rich man's wife
and daughter. Society women stood to them for definite transgressions
of the demands of human equality and fairness and integrity of life.
They were parasites, wasters, avoiding the responsibilities of
womanhood and motherhood. They flaunted their ease and their
luxuries. They were arrogant. When their lives touched the lives of
the poor it was with maddening condescension. In short, they were not
only no good, but were flagrantly bad.

The zealots among whom Ruth's youth had lain knew no exceptions to
this judgment. All so-called society women were included. Now Ruth
was forced to make a revision. ... All employers of labor had been
malevolent. Experience had proven to her that Bonbright Foote was not
malevolent, and that a more conspicuous, vastly more powerful figure
in the industrial world, Malcolm Lightener, was human, considerate,
respectful of right, full of unexpected disturbing virtues. ... Ruth
was forced to the conclusion that there were good men and good women
where she had been taught to believe they did not exist. ... It was a
pin-prick threatening the bubble of her fanaticism.

She had not been able to withhold her liking from Hilda Lightener.
Hilda was strongly attracted by Ruth. King Copetua may occasionally
wed the beggar maid, but it is rare for his daughter or his sister to
desire a beggar maid's friendship.

Hilda did not press Ruth for confidences, nor did Ruth bestow them.
But Hilda succeeded in making Ruth feel that she was trustworthy,
that she offered her friendship sincerely. ... That she was an
individual to depend on if need came for dependence. They talked. At
first Hilda carried on a monologue. Gradually Ruth became more like
her sincere, calm self, and she met Hilda's advances without
reservation. ... When Hilda left her at her home both girls carried
away a sense of possessing something new of value.

"Don't you come back to the office to-day," Hilda told her. "I'll
settle dad."

"Thank you," said Ruth. "I do need--rest. I've got to be alone to--
think." That was the closest she came to opening her heart.

She did have to think, though she had thought and reasoned and
suffered the torture of mental conflict through a nearly sleepless
night. She had told Bonbright to come on this day for her answer. ...
She must have her answer ready. Also she must talk the thing over
with Dulac. That would be hard--doubly hard in the situation that
existed.

Last night she had not spoken of it to him; had scarcely spoken to
him at all, as he had been morosely silent to her. She had been
shocked, frightened by his violence, yet she knew that his violence
had been honest violence, perpetrated because he believed her welfare
demanded it. She did not feel toward him the aversion that the
average girl might have felt for one who precipitated her into such a
scene. ... She was accustomed to violence and to the atmosphere of
violence.

When she and Dulac arrived at the Frazer cottage, he had helped her
to alight. Then he uttered a rude apology, but a sincere one--
according to his lights.

"I'm sorry I had to do it with you watching," he said. Then, curtly,
"Go to bed now."

Clearly he suspected her of no wrongdoing, of no intention toward
future wrongdoing. She was a VICTIM. She was a pigeon fascinated by a
serpent.

Now she went to her room, and remained there until the supper hour.

When she and her mother and Dulac were seated at the table her mother
began a characteristic Jeremiad. "I hope you ain't coming down with a
spell of sickness. Seems like sickness in the family's about the only
thing I've been spared, though other things worse has been aplenty.
Here we are just in a sort of a breathing spell, and you begin to
look all peeked and home from work, with maybe losing your place, for
employers is hard without any consideration, and food so high and
all. I wasn't born to no ease, nor any chance of looking forward like
some women, though doing my duty at all times to the best of my
ability. And now you on the verge of a run of the fever, with nobody
can say how long in bed, and doctors and medicines and worry. ..."

"I'm not going to be ill, mother," Ruth said. "Please don't worry
about me."

"If a mother can't worry about her own daughter, then I'd like to
know what she can do," said Mrs. Frazer, with the air of one
suffering meekly a studied affront.

Ruth turned to Dulac. "Before you go downtown," she said, "I want to
talk to you."

Dulac had not hoped to escape a reckoning with Ruth, and now he
supposed she was demanding it. Well, as well now as later, if the
thing had to be. He was a trifle sulky about it; perhaps, now that
his blind rage had subsided, not wholly satisfied with himself and
his conduct. "All right," he said, and went silently on with his
meal. After a time he pushed back his chair. "I've got a meeting
downtown," he said to Ruth, paving the way for a quick escape.

"Maybe what I have to say," she said, gravely, "will be as important
as your meeting," and she preceded him into the little parlor.

His attitude was defensive; he expected to be called on for
explanations, to be required to soothe resentment; his mental
condition was more or less that of a schoolboy expecting a ragging.

Ruth did not begin at once, but walked over to the window, and,
leaning her elbow against the frame, pressed her forehead against the
cool glass. She wanted to clear and make direct and coherent her
thoughts. She wanted to express well, leaving no ground for
misunderstanding of herself or her motives, what she had to say. Then
she turned, and began abruptly; began in a way that left Dulac
helplessly surprised, for it was not the attack he expected.

"Mr. Foote asked me to marry him, last night," she said, and stopped.
"That is why he took me out to the lake. ... I hadn't any idea of it
before. I didn't know... He was honest and sincere. At first I was
astonished. I tried to stop him. I was going to tell him I loved you
and that we were going to be married." She stopped again, and went on
with an effort. "Then something came to me--and it frightened me. All
the time he was talking to me I kept on thinking about it... and I
didn't want to think about it because of--you. ... You know I want to
do something for the Cause--something big, something great! It's hard
for a woman to do such a thing--but I saw a chance. It was a hard
chance, a bitter chance, but it was there. ... I'm not a doll. I
think I could be strong. He's just a boy, and I am strong enough to
influence him. ... And I thought how his wife could help. Don't you
see? He will own thousands of laboring men--thousands and thousands.
If I married him I could do--what couldn't I do?--for them. I would
make him see through my eyes. I would make him UNDERSTAND. My work
would be to make him better conditions, to give those thousands of
men what they are entitled to, to give them all men like you and like
my father have taught me they ought to have. ... I could do it. I
know. Think of it--thousands of men, and then--wives and children,
made happier, made contented, given their fair share--and by me!...
That's what I thought about--and so--so I didn't refuse him. I didn't
tell him about you. ... I told him I'd give him my answer--later. ..."

His face had changed from sullenness to relief, from relief to
astonishment, then to black anger.

"Your answer," he said, passionately. "What answer could you give but
one? You're mine. You've promised me. That's the answer you'll give
him. ... You THOUGHT. I know what you thought. You thought about his
money--about his millions. You thought what his wife would have, how
she would live. You thought about luxuries, about automobiles, about
jewels. ... Laboring men!... Hell! He showed you the kingdoms of the
earth--and you wanted them. He offered to buy you--and you looked at
the price and it was enough to tempt you. ... You'll give him no
answer. I'll give it to him, and it'll be the same kind of answer I
gave him last night. ... But this time he won't get up so quick. This
time..."

"Stop!... That's not true. You know it's not true. ... I've promised
to marry you--and I've loved you. Yes, I've loved you. ... I'm glad
of that. It makes the sacrifice real. It makes all the more I have to
give. ... Father gave his life. You're giving your life and your
strength and your abilities. ... I want to give, too, and so I'm
glad, glad that I love you-and that I can give that. ... If I didn't
love you, if I did care for Mr. Foote, it would be different. I would
be afraid I was marrying him because of what he is and what he has.
... But I am giving up more than he can ever return to me with all
his money. ... Money can't buy love. It can't give back to me that
happiness I would have known with you, working for you, suffering
with you, helping you. It's my chance. ... You must see. You must
believe the truth. I couldn't bear it if you didn't--if you didn't
see that I am throwing away my happiness and giving myself--just for
the Cause. That I am giving all of myself--not to a quick, merciful
death. That wouldn't be hard. ... But to years of misery, to a
lifetime of suffering. Knowing I love you, I will have to go to him,
and be his wife, and pretend--pretend--day after day, year after
year, that I love him. ... I'll have to deceive him. I'll have to
hold his love and make it stronger, and I'll--I'll come to loathe
him. Does that sound easy? Could money buy that? Look into your heart
and see. ..."

He strode to her, and his hands fell heavily on her shoulders, his
black, blazing eyes burned into hers.

"You love me--you haven't lied to me?" he demanded, hoarsely.

"I love you."

"Then, by God! you're mine, and I'll have you. He sha'n't buy you
away if I have to kill him. You're mine, do you hear?--MINE!"

"Who do you belong to?" she asked. "If I demanded that you give up
your work, abandon the Cause, would you do it for me?"

"No."

"You belong to the Cause--not to me. ... I belong to the Cause, too.
... Body and soul I belong to it. What am I to you but a girl, an
incident? Your duty lies toward all those men. Your work is to help
them. ... Then you should give me willingly; if I hesitate you should
try to force me to do this thing-for it will help. What other thing
could do what it will do? Think! THINK!... THINK!"

"You're mine. ... He has everything else. His kind take everything
else from us. Now they want our wives. They sha'n't have them. ... He
sha'n't have them. ... He sha'n't have you."

"It is for me to say," she replied, gently. "I'm so sorry--so sorry--
if it hurts you. I'm sorry any part of the suffering and sorrow must
fall on you. If I could only bear it alone! If I can help, it's my
right to help, and to give. ... Don't make it harder. Oh, don't make
it harder!"

He flung her from him roughly. "You're like all of them. ... Wealth
dazzles you. You fear poverty. ... Softness, luxuries--you all--you
women--are willing to sell your souls for them."

"Did my mother sell her soul for luxuries? If she did, where are
they? Did your mother sell her soul for them? ... Have the wives of
all the men who have worked and suffered and been trampled on for the
Cause sold their souls?... You're bitter. I--I am sorry--so sorry. If
you care for me as I do for you--I--I know how bitterly hard it will
be--to--give me up-to see me his wife. ..."

"I'll never see that. You can throw me over, but you'll never marry
him."

"You're big--you're big enough to see this as I see it, and big
enough to let me do it. ... You will be when--the surprise and the
first hurt of it have gone. It's asking just one more thing of you--
when you've willingly given so much. ... But it's I who do the harder
giving. In a few months, in a year, you will have forgotten me. ... I
can never forget you. Every day and every hour I'll be reminded of
you. I'll be thinking of you. ... When I greet HIM it will be YOU I'm
greeting. ... When I am pretending to--to care for him, it will be
YOU I am loving. The thought of that, and the knowledge of what I am
doing for those poor men--will be all the happiness I shall have...
will give me courage to live on and to GO on. ... You believe me,
don't you, dear? You must, you must believe me!"

He approached her again. "Look at me!... Look at me," he demanded,
and she gave her eyes to his. They were pure eyes, the eyes of an
enthusiast, the eyes of a martyr. He could not misread them, even in
his passion he could not doubt them. ... The elevation of her soul
shone through them. Constancy, steadfastness, courage, determination,
sureness, and loftiness of purpose were written there. ... He turned
away, his head sinking upon his breast, and when he spoke the
passion, the rancor, the bitterness, were gone from his voice. It was
lower, quivering, almost gentle.

"You sha'n't. ... It isn't necessary. It isn't required of you."

"If it is possible, then it is required of me," she said.

"No. ... No. ..." He sank into a chair and covered his face, and she
could hear the hissing of his breath as he fought for self-control.

"If it were you," she said. "If you could bring about the things I
can--the good for so many--would you hesitate? Is there anything you
wouldn't do to give THEM what I can give?... You know there's not.
You know you could withhold no sacrifice. ... Then don't make this
one harder for me. Don't stand in my way."

"I HATE him," Dulac said, in a tense whisper. "If you--married him
and I should meet him--I couldn't keep my hands off him. ... The
thought of YOU--of HIM--I'd KILL him. ..."

"You wouldn't," she said. "You'd think of ME--and you'd remember that
I love you--and that I have given you up--and all the rest, so I
could be his wife--and rule him. ... And you wouldn't make it all
futile by killing him. ... Then I'd be helpless. I've got to have him
to--to do the rest."

She went to him, and stroked his black, waving hair--so gently.

"Go now, my dear," she said. "You've got to rise to this with me.
You've got to sustain me. ... Go now. ... My mind is made up. I see
my way. ..." Her voice trembled pitifully. "Oh, I see my way--and it
is hard, HARD. ..."

"No," he cried, struggling to his feet.

"Yes," she said, softly. "Good-by. ... This is our good-by. I--oh, my
dear, don't forget--never forget--Oh, go, GO!"

In that moment it seemed to her that her heart was bursting for him,
that she loved him to the very roots of her soul. She was sure at
last, very sure. She was certain she was not blinded by glamour, not
fascinated by the man and his part in the world. ... If there had
been, in a secret recess of her heart, a shadow of uncertainty, it
was gone in this moment.

"Good-by," she said.

He arose and walked toward the door. He did not look at her. His hand
was on the knob, and the door was opening, yet he did not turn or
look. ... "Good-by. ... Good-by," she sobbed--and he was GONE...

She was alone, and through all the rest of her years she must be
alone. She had mounted the altar, a sacrifice, a willing sacrifice,
but never till this minute had she experienced the full horror and
bitterness and woe that were required of her. ... She was ALONE.

The world has seen many minor passions in the Garden. It sees and
passes on, embodying none of them in deathless epic as His passion
was embodied. ... Men and women have cried out to listening Heaven
that the cup might pass from their lips, and it has not been
permitted to pass, as His was not permitted to pass. In the souls of
men and of women is something of the divine, something high and
marvelous--a gift from Heaven to hold the human race above the mire
which threatens to engulf it. ... Every day it asserts itself
somewhere; in sacrifice, in devotion, in simple courage, in lofty
renunciation. It is common; wonderfully, beautifully common... yet
there are men who do not see it, or, seeing, do not comprehend, and
so despair of humanity. ... Ruth, crouching on the floor of her
little parlor, might have numbered countless brothers and sisters,
had she known. ... She was uplifting man, not because of the thing
she might accomplish, but because she was willing to seek its
accomplishment. ...

Her eyes were dry. She could not weep. She could only crouch there
and peer into the blackness of the gulf that lay at her feet. ...
Then the doorbell rang, and she started. Eyes wide with tragedy, she
looked toward the door, for she knew that there stood Bonbright
Foote, come for his answer. ...




CHAPTER XVI


Bonbright had disobeyed the physician's orders to stay in bed all
day, but when he arose he discovered that there are times when even a
restless and impatient young man is more comfortable with his head on
a pillow. So until evening he occupied a lounge with what patience he
could muster. So it was that Rangar had no news of him during the day
and was unable to relieve his father's increasing anxiety. Mr. Foote
was not anxious now, but frightened; frightened as any potentate
might be who perceived that the succession was threatened, that
extinction impended over his line.

Bonbright scarcely tasted the food that was brought him on a tray at
six o'clock. He was afire with eagerness, for the hour was almost
there when he could go to Ruth for her answer. He arose, somewhat
dizzily, and demanded his hat, which was given him with protests. It
was still too early to make his call, but he could not stay away from
the neighborhood, so he took a taxicab to Ruth's corner, and there
alighted. For half an hour he paced slowly up and down, eying the
house, picturing in his mind Ruth in the act of accepting him or Ruth
in the act of refusing him. One moment hope flashed high; the next it
was quenched by doubt. ... He saw Dulac leave the house; waited
another half hour, and then rang the doorbell.

Mrs. Frazer opened the door.

"Evening, Mr. Foote," she said, without enthusiasm, for she had not
approved of this young man's calls upon her daughter.

"Miss Frazer is expecting me," he said, diffidently, for he was
sensitive to her antagonism.

"In the parlor," said she, "and no help with the dishes, which is to
be expected at her age, with first one young man and then another,
which, if she gets any pleasure out of it, I'm not one to deny her,
though not consulted. If I was starting over again I'd wish it was a
son to be traipsing after some other woman's daughter and not a
daughter to have other women's sons traipsing after. ... That door,
Mr. Foote. Go right in."

Bonbright entered apprehensively, as one might enter a court room
where a jury was about to rise and declare its verdict of guilty or
not guilty. He closed the door after him mechanically.

"Ruth..." he said.

Her face, marked with tears, not untouched by suffering, startled
him. "Are you--ill?" he said.

"Just--just tired" she said.

"Shall I go?... Shall I come again to-morrow?"

"No." She was aware of his concern, of the self-effacing
thoughtfulness of his offer. He was a good boy, decent and kind. He
deserved better than he was getting. ... She bit her lips and vowed
that, giving no love, she would make him happy. She must make him
happy.

"You know why I've come, Ruth," he said. "It has seemed a long time
to wait--since last night. You know why I've come?"

"Yes."

"You have--thought about me?"

"Yes."

He stepped forward eagerly. "You look so unhappy, so tired. It hasn't
been worrying you like this? I couldn't bear to think it had. ... I--
I don't want you ever worried or tired, but always--glad. ... I've
been walking up and down outside for an hour. Couldn't stay away. ...
Ruth, you haven't been out of my mind since last night--since
yesterday morning. I've had time to think about you. ... I'm
beginning to realize how much you mean to me. I'll never realize it
fully--but it will come to me more every day, and every day I shall
love you more than I did the day before--if your answer can be yes.
..." He turned away his head and said, "I'm afraid to ask. ..."

"I will marry you," she said, in a dead voice. She felt cold, numb.
Her body seemed without sensation, but her mind was sharply clear.
She wanted to scream, but she held herself.

His face showed glad, relieved surprise. The shine of his eyes
accused her. ... She was making capital of his love--for a great and
worthy purpose--but none the less making capital of it. She was sorry
for him, bitterly sorry for herself. He came forward eagerly, with
arms outstretched to receive her, but she could not endure that--now.
She could not endure his touch, his caress.

"Not now. ... Not yet," she said, holding up her hand as though to
ward him off. "You mustn't."

His face fell and he stopped short. He was hurt--surprised. He did
not understand, did not know what to make of her attitude.

"Wait," she said, pitifully. "Oh, be patient with me. ... I will
marry you. I will be a good--a faithful wife to you. ... But you must
be patient with me. Let me have time. ... Last night--and all to-day-
have been--hard. ... I'm not myself. Can't you see?..."

"Don't you love me?" he asked.

"I--I've said I would marry you," she replied. Then she could
restrain herself no longer. "But let it be soon--soon," she cried,
and throwing herself on the sofa she burst into tears.

Bonbright did not know what to do. He had never seen a woman cry so
before. ... Did girls always act this way when they became engaged?
Was it the usual thing, or was something wrong with Ruth? He stood
by, dumbly waiting, unhappy when he knew he should be happy; troubled
when he knew there should be no cloud in his sky; vaguely
apprehensive when he knew he should be looking into the future with
eyes confident of finding only happiness there.

He wanted to pick her up and comfort her in his arms. He could do it,
he could hold her close and safe, for she was so small. But he dared
not touch her. She had forbidden it; her manner had forbidden it more
forcefully than her words. He came closer, and his hand hovered over
her hair, her hair that he would have loved to press with his lips-
he, he did not dare.

"Ruth," he said. ... "Ruth!"

Suddenly she sat up and faced him; forced herself to speak; compelled
herself to rise to this thing that she had done and must see through.

"I'm--ashamed," she said, irrepressible sobs interrupting her. "It's
silly, isn't it--but--but it's hard to KNOW. It's for so long--so
LONG!"

"Yes," he said, "that's the best part of it. ... I shall have you
always."

Always. He should have her always! It was no sentence for a month or
a year, but for life. She was tying herself to this boy until death
should free her. ... She looked at him, and thanked God that he was
as he was, young, decent, clean, capable of loving her and cherishing
her. ... For her sake she was glad it was he, but his very attributes
accused her. She was accepting these beautiful gifts and was giving
in return spurious wares. For love she would give pretense of love.
... Yet if he had been other than he was, if he had been old, seeking
her youth as some men might seek it, steeped in experience to satiety
as some rich man might have been, she knew she could not have gone
through with it. To such a man she could not have given herself--even
for the Cause. ... Bonbright made his own duping a possibility.

"I--I sha'n't act this way again," she said, trying to smile. "You
needn't be afraid. ... It's just nerves."

"Poor kid!" he said, softly, but even yet he dared not touch her.

"You want me? You're very, very sure you want me? How do you know? I
may not be what you think I am. Maybe I'm different. Are you sure,
Bonbright?"

"It's the only thing in the world I am sure of," he said.

"And you'll be good to me?... You'll be patient with me, and gentle?
Oh, I needn't ask. I know you will. I know you're good. ..."

"I love you," was his reply, and she deemed it a sufficient answer.

"Then," she said, "let's not wait. There's no need to wait, is there?
Can't it be right away?"

His face grew radiant. "You mean it, Ruth?"

"Yes," she said.

"A month?"

"Sooner."

"A week?"

"Sooner. ... Sooner."

"To-morrow? You couldn't?... You don't mean--TO-MORROW?"

She nodded, for she was unable to speak

"Sweetheart," he cried, and again held out his arms.

She shook her head and drew back. "It's been so--so quick," she said.
"And to-morrow comes so soon. ... Not till then. I'll be your wife
then--your WIFE."

"To-morrow morning? I will come to-morrow morning? Can it be then?"

"Yes."

"I--I will see to everything. We'll be married, and then we will go
away--somewhere. Where would you like to go, Ruth?"

"Anywhere. ... I don't care. Anywhere."

"It 'll be my secret," he said, in his young blindness. "We'll start
out--and you won't know where we're going. I sha'n't tell you. I'll
pick out the best place in the world, if I can find it, and you won't
know where we're going till we get there. ... Won't that be bully?...
I hate to go now, dear, but you're all out of sorts--and I'll have a
heap of things to do--to get ready. So will you." He stopped and
looked at her pleadingly, but she could not give him what his eyes
asked; she could not give him her lips to-night. ... He waited a
moment, then, very gently, he took her hand and touched it with his
lips.

"I'm patient," he said, softly. "You see how patient I am. ... I can
wait... when waiting will bring me so much. ... At twelve o'clock?
That's the swell hour," he laughed. "Shall I drag along a bishop or
will an ordinary minister do?"

She tried to smile in response.

"Good night, dear," he said, and raised her hand again to his lips.

"Good night."

"Is that all?"

"All."

"No--trimmings? You might say good night to the groceryman that way."

"Good night-dear," she said, obediently.

"It's true. I'm not dreaming it. Noon TO-MORROW?"

"Noon to-morrow," she repeated.

He walked to the door, stopped, turned, hesitated as if to come back.
Then he smiled at her boyishly, happily, wagged his head gayly, as
though admonishing himself to be about his business and to stop
philandering, and went out. ... He did not see her drag herself to
the sofa wearily; he did not see her sink upon it and bury her face
again in the cushions; he did not hear the sobs that wrenched and
shook her. ... He would then have understood that this was not the
usual way for a girl to enter her engagement. He would have
understood that something was wrong, very wrong.

After waiting a long time for her daughter to come out, Mrs. Frazer
opened the door determinedly and went in. Ruth sat up and, wiping her
eyes on a tear-soggy handkerchief, said:

"I'm going to marry Bonbright Foote to-morrow noon mother."

Mrs. Frazer sat down very suddenly in a chair which was fortunately
at hand, and stared at her daughter.

"Of all things..." she said, weakly.

Bonbright was on the way to make a similar announcement to his
parents. It was a task he did not approach with pleasure; indeed, he
did not look forward with pleasure to any sort of meeting with his
father. In his heart he had declared his independence. He had broken
away from Bonbright Foote, Incorporated, had clambered out of the
family groove--had determined to be himself and to maintain his
individuality at any cost. ... Ruth would make it easier for him. To
marry Ruth was the first great step toward independence and the
throwing off of the yoke of the Foote tradition.

As he walked home he planned out what he would say and what he would
do with respect to his position in the family. He could not break
away from the thing wholly. He could not step out of Bonbright Foote,
Incorporated, as one steps out of an old coat, and think no more of
it. No. ... But he would demand concessions. He would insist upon
being something in the business, something real. He would no longer
be an office boy, a rubber stamp, an automaton, to do thus and to do
so when his father pressed the requisite buttons. ... Oh, he would go
back to the office, but it would be to a very different office and to
function in a very different manner.

The family ghosts had been dissatisfied with him. Well, they could go
hang. Using his father as the working tool, they had sought to remake
him according to their pattern. He would show them. There would be a
row, but he was buoyed up for whatever might happen by what had just
happened. ... The girl he loved had promised to marry him--and to-
morrow. With a consciousness of that he was ready for anything.

He did not realize how strongly he was gripped by the teaching that
had been his from his cradle; he did not realize how the Foote
tradition was an integral part of him, as his arm or his skin. It
would not be so easy to escape. Nor, perhaps, would his father be so
ready to make concessions. He thought of that. But he banished it
from his mind. When his father saw how determined he was the
concessions would follow. They would have to follow. He did not ask
himself what would happen if they did not follow.

Of course his father and mother would resent Ruth. Because Bonbright
loved her so truly he was unable to see how anybody could resent her
very much. He was blinded by young happiness. Optimism had been born
in him in a twinkling, and set aside a knowledge of his parents and
their habits of thought and life that should have warned him. He
might have known that his father could have overlooked anything but
this--the debasing of the Foote blood by mingling with it a plebeian,
boarding-house strain; he might have comprehended that his mother,
Mrs. Bonbright Foote VI, no less, could have excused crime, could
have winked at depravity, but could never tolerate a daughter-in-law
of such origin; would never acknowledge or receive her.

As a last resort, to save Bonbright Foote, Incorporated, his father
might even submit to Bonbright's wife; his mother did not bow so low
before that god; her particular deity was a social deity. If
Bonbright's argosy did not wreck against the reef of his father, it
never could weather the hidden rock of his mother's class
consciousness.

Bonbright went along, whistling boyishly. He was worried, but not so
worried but that he could find room also to be very happy. Everything
would come out all right. ... Young folks are prone to trust
implicitly to the goodness of the future. The future will take care
of troubles, will solve difficulties, will always bring around a
happy ending. He was not old enough or experienced enough to know
that the future bothers with nobody's desires, but goes on turning
out each day's work with calm detachment, continues to move its
endless film of tomorrow's events to the edge of its kingdom and to
give them life on the screen of to-day. It does not change or retouch
the film, but gives it to to-day as it is, relentlessly, without pity
and without satisfaction.

Bonbright saw the future as a benignant soul; he did not realize it
is a nonsentient machine.




CHAPTER XVII


Bonbright stopped in the library door, for he saw there not only his
father, whom he had expected to see, but his mother also. He had not
foreseen this. It made the thing harder to tell, for he realized in
an instant how his mother would receive the news. He wished he had
been less abrupt, but here he was and there could be no drawing back
now. His mother was first to see him.

"Bonbright..." she said, rising.

He walked to her and kissed her, not speaking.

"Where have you been? Your father and I have been terribly worried.
Why did you stay away like this, without giving us any word?"

"I'm sorry if I've worried you, mother," he said, but found himself
dumb when he tried to offer an explanation of his absence.

"You have worried us," said his father, sharply. "You had no business
to do such a thing. How were we to know something hadn't happened to
you--with the strike going on?"

"It was very inconsiderate," said his mother.

There fell a silence awkward for Bonbright. His parents were
expecting some explanation. He had come to give that explanation, but
his mother's presence complicated the situation, made it more
difficult. There had never been that close confidence between Mrs.
Foote and Bonbright which should exist between mother and son. He had
never before given much thought to his relations with her; had taken
them as a matter of course. He had not given to her that love which
he had seen manifested by other boys for their mothers, and which
puzzled him. She had never seemed to expect it of him. He had been
accustomed to treat her with grave respect and deference, for she was
the sort of person who seems to require and to be able to exact
deference. She was a very busy woman, busy with extra-family
concerns. Servants had carried on the affairs of the household.
Nurses, governesses, and such kittle-cattle had given to Bonbright
their sort of substitute for mother care. Not that Mrs. Foote had
neglected her son--as neglect is understood by many women of her
class. She had seen to it rigidly that his nurses and tutors were
efficient. She had seen to it that he was instructed as she desired,
and his father desired, him to be instructed. She had not neglected
him in a material sense, but on that highest and sweetest sense of
pouring out her affection on him in childhood, of giving him her
companionship, of making her love compel his love--there she had been
neglectful. ... But she was not a demonstrative woman. Even when he
was a baby she could not cuddle him and wonder at him and regard him
as the most wonderful thing in creation. ... She had never held him
to her breast as God and nature meant mothers to hold their babies. A
mercenary breast had nourished him.

So he grew up to admire her, perhaps; surely to stand in some awe of
her. She was his mother, and he felt vaguely that the relationship
demanded some affection from him. He had fancied that he was giving
her affection, but he was doing nothing of the sort. ... His childish
troubles had been confided to servants. His babyish woes had been
comforted by servants. What genuine love he had been able to give had
been given to servants. She had not been the companion of his
babyhood as his father had failed to be the companion of his youth.
... So far as the finer, the sweeter affairs of parenthood went,
Bonbright had been, and was, an orphan. ...

"Have you nothing to say?" his father demanded, and, when Bonbright
made no reply, continued: "Your mother and I have been unable to
understand your conduct. Even in our alarm we have been discussing
your action and your attitude. It is not one we expected from a son
of ours. ... You have not filled our hopes and expectations. I,
especially, have been dissatisfied with you ever since you left
college. You have not behaved like a Foote. ... You have made more
trouble for me in these few months than I made for my father in my
life. ... And yesterday--I would be justified in taking extreme
measures with you. Such an outburst! You were disrespectful and
impertinent. You were positively REBELLIOUS. If I had not more
important things to consider than, my own feelings you should have
felt, more vigorously than you shall, my displeasure. You dared to
speak to me yesterday in a manner that would warrant me in setting
you wholly adrift until you came to your senses. ... But I shall not
do that. Family considerations demand your presence in our offices.
You are to take my place and to carry on our line. ... This hasn't
seemed to impress you. You have been childishly selfish. You have
thought only of yourself--of that thing you fancy is your
individuality. Rubbish! You're a Foote--and a Foote owes a duty to
himself and his family that should outweigh any personal desires. ...
I don't understand you, my son. What more can you want than you have
and will have? Wealth, position, family? Yet for months you have been
sullen and restless-and then openly rebellious. ... And worse, you
have been compromising yourself with a girl not of your class. ..."

"I could not believe my ears," said Mrs. Foote, coldly.

"However," said his father, "I shall overlook what has passed." Now
came the sop he had planned to throw to Bonbright.

"You have been in the office long enough to learn something of the
business, so I shall give you work of greater interest and
responsibility. ... You say, ridiculously enough, that you have been
a rubber stamp. Common sense should have told you you were competent
to carry no great responsibilities at first. ... But you shall take
over a part of my burden now. ... However, one thing must come first.
Before we go any farther, your mother and I must have your promise
that you will discontinue whatever relations you have with this
boarding-house keeper's daughter, this companion of anarchists and
disturbers."

"I have insisted upon THAT," said Mrs. Foote. "I will not tolerate
such an affair."

"There is no AFFAIR," said Bonbright, finding his voice. His young
eyes began to glow angrily. "What right have you to suppose such a
thing-just because Miss Frazer happens to be a stenographer and
because her mother keeps a boarder! Father insulted her yesterday.
That caused the trouble. I couldn't let it pass, even from him. I
can't let it pass from you, mother."

"Oh, undoubtedly she's worthy enough," said Mr. Foote, who had
exchanged a glance with his wife during Bonbright's outburst, as much
as to say, "There is a serious danger here."

"Worthy enough!" said Bonbright, anger now burning with white heat.

"But," said his father, "worthy or not worthy, we cannot have our
son's name linked in any way with a person of her class. It must
stop, and stop at once."

"That you must understand distinctly," said Mrs. Foote.

"Stop!" said Bonbright, hoarsely. "It sha'n't stop, now or ever.
That's what I came home to tell you. ... I'm not a dumb beast, to be
driven where you want to drive me. I'm a human being. I have a right
to make my own friends and to live my own life. ... I have a right to
love where I want to--and to marry the girl I love. ... You tried to
pick out a wife for me. ... Well, I've picked out my own. Whether you
approve or not doesn't change it. Nobody, nothing can change it. ...
I love Ruth Frazer and I'm going to marry her. That's what I came
home to tell you."

"What?" said his father, in a tone of one who listens to blasphemy.

Bonbright did not waver. He was strong enough now, strong in his
anger and in his love. "I am going to marry Ruth Frazer," he
repeated.

"Nonsense!" said his mother.

"It is not nonsense, mother. I am a man. I have found the girl I love
and will always love. I intend to marry her. Where is there nonsense
in that?"

"Do you fancy I shall permit such a thing? Do you imagine for an
instant that I shall permit you to give me a daughter-in-law out of a
cheap boarding house? Do you think I shall submit to an affront like
that? ... Why, I should be the laughingstock of the city."

"The city finds queer things to laugh at," said Bonbright.

"My son--" began Mr. Foote; but his wife silenced him. She had taken
command of the family ship. From this moment in this matter Bonbright
Foote VI did not figure. This was her affair. It touched her in a
vital spot. It threatened her with ridicule; it threatened to affect
that most precious of her possessions--the deference of the social
world. She knew how to protect herself, and would attend to the
matter without assistance.

"You will never see that girl again," she said, as though the saying
of it concluded the episode.

Bonbright was silent.

"You will promise me NOW that this disgraceful business is ended.
NOW. ... I am waiting."

"Mother," said Bonbright, "you have no right to ask such a thing.
Even if I didn't love Ruth, I have pledged my word to her..."

Mrs. Foote uttered an exclamation indicative of her disgust.

"Pledged your word!... You're a silly boy, and this girl has schemed
to catch you and has caught you. ... You don't flatter yourself that
she cares for you beyond your money and your position. ... Those are
the things she had her eye on. Those are what she is trading herself
for. ... It's scandalous. What does your pledged word count for in a
case like this?... Your pledged word to a scheming, plotting,
mercenary little wretch!"

"Mother," said Bonbright, in a strained, tense voice, "I don't want
to speak to you harshly. I don't want to say anything sharp or unkind
to you--but you mustn't repeat that. ... You mustn't speak like that
about Ruth."

"I shall speak about her as I choose..."

"Georgia!..." said Mr. Foote, warningly.

"If you please, Bonbright." She put him back in his place. "_I_ will
settle this matter with our son--NOW."

"It is settled, mother," said Bonbright.

"Suppose you should be insane enough to marry her," said Mrs. Foote.
"Do you suppose I should tolerate her? Do you suppose I should admit
her to this house? Do you suppose your friends--people of your own
class--would receive her--or you?"

"Do you mean, mother," said Bonbright, his voice curiously quiet and
calm, "that you would not receive my wife here?"

"Exactly that. And I should make it my business to see that she was
received nowhere else. ... And what would become of you? Everyone
would drop you. Your wife could never take your position, so you
would have to descend to her level. Society would have none of you."

"I fancy," said Bonbright, "that we could face even that--and live."

"More than that. I know I am speaking for your father when I say it.
If you persist in this we shall wash our hands of you utterly. You
shall be as if you were dead. ... Think a moment what that means. You
will not have a penny. We shall not give you one penny. You have
never worked. And you would find yourself out in the world with a
wife to support and no means of supporting her. How long do you
suppose she would stay with you?... The moment she found she couldn't
get what she had schemed for, you would see the last of her. ...
Think of all that."

"I've thought of all that--except that Ruth would care for my money.
... Yesterday I left the office determined never to go into it again.
I made up my mind to look for a job--any job--that would give me a
living--and freedom from what Bonbright Foote, Incorporated, means to
me. I was ready to do that without Ruth. ... But the family has some
claims to me. I could see that. So I came back. I was going to tell
father I would go ahead and do my best. ... But not because I wanted
to, nor because I was afraid."

"You see," his mother said, bitingly, "it lasted a whole day with
you."

"Mother!"

Bonbright turned to his father. "I am going to marry Ruth. That
cannot be changed. Nothing can alter it. ... I am ready to come back
to the office--and be Bonbright Foote VII... and you can't guess what
that means. But I'll do it--because it seems to be the thing I ought
to do. ... I'll come back if--and only if--you and mother change your
minds about Ruth. ... She will be my wife as much as mother is your
wife, and you must treat her so. She must have your respect. You must
receive her as you would receive me... as you would have been glad to
receive Hilda Lightener. If you refuse--I'm through with you. I mean
it. ... You have demanded a promise of me. Now you must give me your
promise--to act to Ruth as you should act toward my wife. ... Unless
you do the office and the family have seen the last of me." He did
not speak with heat or in excitement, but very gravely, very
determinedly. His father saw the determination, and wavered.

"Georgia," he said, again.

"No," said Mrs. Foote.

"The Family--the business." said Mr. Foote, uncertainly.

"I'd see the business ended and the Family extinct before I would
tolerate that girl. ... If Bonbright marries her he does it knowing
how I feel and how I shall act. She shall never step a foot in this
house while I live--nor afterward, if I can prevent it. Nor shall
Bonbright."

"Is that final, mother?... Are you sure it is your final decision?"

"Absolutely," she said, her voice cold as steel.

"Very well," said Bonbright, and, turning, he walked steadily toward
the door.

"Where are you going?" his father said, taking an anxious step after
his son.

"I don't know," said Bonbright. "But I'm not coming back."

He passed through the door and disappeared, but his mother did not
call after him, did not relent and follow her only son to bring him
back. Her face was set, her lips a thin, white line.

"Let him go," she said. "He'll come back when he's eaten enough
husks."

"He's GOT to come back. ... We've got to stop this marriage. He's our
only son, Georgia--he's necessary to the Family. HIS son is
necessary."

"And hers?" she asked, with bitter irony.

"Better hers than none," said Mr. Foote.

"You would give in. ... Oh, I know you would. You haven't a thought
outside of Family. I wasn't born in your family, remember. I married
into it. I have my own rights in this matter, and, Family or no
Family, Bonbright, that girl shall never be received where I am
received. ... NEVER."

Mr. Foote walked to the window and looked out. He saw his son's tall
form pass down the walk and out into the street--going he did not
know where; to return he did not know when. He felt an ache in his
heart such as he had never felt before. He felt a yearning after his
son such as he had never known. In that moment of loss he perceived
that Bonbright was something more to him than Bonbright Foote VII--he
was flesh of his flesh and blood of his blood. The stifled, cramped,
almost eliminated human father that remained in him cried out after
his son. ...




CHAPTER XVIII


As Bonbright walked away from his father's house he came into
possession for the first time of the word RESPONSIBILITY. It was
defined for him as no dictionary could define it. Every young man
meets a day when responsibility becomes to him something more than a
combination of letters, and when it comes he can never be the same
again. It marks definitely the arrival of manhood, the dropping
behind of youth. He can never look upon life through the same eyes.
Forever, now, he must peer round and beyond each pleasure to see what
burden it entails and conceals. He must weigh each act with reference
to the RESPONSIBILITY that rests upon him. Hitherto he had been
swimming in life's pleasant, safe, shaded pools; now he finds himself
struggling in the great river, tossed by currents, twirled by eddies,
and with no bottom upon which to rest his feet. Forever now it will
be swim--or sink. ...

To-morrow Bonbright was to undertake the responsibilities of family
headship and provider; to-night he had sundered himself from his
means of support. He was jobless. He belonged to the unemployed. ...
In the office he had heard without concern of this man or that man
being discharged. Now he knew how those men felt and what they faced.

Realization of his condition threw him into panic. In his panic he
allowed his feet to carry him to the man whose help had come readily
and willingly in another moment of need--to Malcolm Lightener.

The hour was still early. Lights shone in the Lightener home and
Bonbright approached the door. Mr. Lightener was in and would see him
in the office. It was characteristic of Lightener that the room in
the house which was peculiarly his own was called by him his office,
not his den, not the library. ... There were two interests in
Lightener's life--his family and his business, and he stirred them
together in a quaintly granite sort of way.

For the second time that evening Bonbright stood hesitating in a
doorway.

"Well, young fellow?" said Lightener. Then seeing the boy's
hesitation: "Come in. Come in. What's happened NOW?"

"Mr. Lightener," said Bonbright, "I want a job. I've got to have a
job."

"Um!... Job! What's the matter with the job you've got?"

"I haven't any job. ... I--I'm through with Bonbright Foote,
Incorporated--forever."

"That's a darn long time. Sit down. Waiting for it to pass will be
easier that way. ... Now spit it out." He was studying the boy with
his bright gray eyes, wondering if this was the row he had been
expecting. He more than half hoped, as he would have expressed it,
"that the kid had got his back up." Bonbright's face, his bearing,
made Lightener believe his back WAS up.

"I've got to have a job--"

"You said that once. Why?"

"I'm going to be married to-morrow--"

"What?"

"I'm going to be married to-morrow--and I've got to support my wife--
decently..."

"It's that little Frazer girl who was crying all over my office to-
day," said Lightener, deducing the main fact with characteristic
shrewdness. "And your father wouldn't have it--and threw you out...or
did the thing that stands to him for throwing out?"

"I got out. I had gotten out before. Yesterday morning. ... Somebody
told him I'd been going to see Ruth--and he was nasty about it.
Called it a liaison. ...I--I BURNED UP and left the office. I haven't
been back."

"That accounts for his calling me up--looking for you. You had him
worried."

"Then I got to thinking," said Bonbright, ignoring the interruption.
"I was going back because it seemed as if I HAD to go back. You
understand? As if there was something that compelled me to stick by
the Family. ..."

"How long have you been going to marry this girl?"

"She said she would marry me to-night."

"Engaged to-night--and you're going to marry to-morrow?"

"Yes. ...And I went home to tell father. Mother was there--"

Lightener sucked in his breath. He could appreciate what Bonbright's
mother's presence would contribute to the episode.

"--and she was worse than father. She--it was ROTTEN, Mr. Lightener--
ROTTEN. She said she'd never receive Ruth as her daughter, and that
she'd see she was never received by anybody else, and she--she FORCED
father to back her up. ...There wasn't anything for me to do but get
out. ...I didn't begin to wonder how I was going to support Ruth till
it was all over with."

"That's the time folks generally begin to wonder."

"So I came right here--because you CAN give me a job if you will--and
I've got to have one to-night. I've got to know to-night how I'm
going to get food and a place to live for Ruth."

"Um!...We'll come to that." He got up and went to the door. From
thence he shouted--the word is used advisedly--for his wife and
daughter. "Mamma. ... Hilda. Come here right off." He had decided
that Bonbright's affairs stood in need of woman's counsel.

Mrs. Lightener appeared first. "Why, Bonbright!" she exclaimed.

"Where's Hilda?" asked Lightener. "Need her, too."

"She's coming, dear," said Mrs. Lightener.

There are people whose mere presence brings relief. Perhaps it is
because their sympathy is sure; perhaps it is because their souls
were given them, strong and simple, for other souls to lean upon.
Mrs. Lightener was one of these. Before she knew why Bonbright was
there, before she uttered a word, he felt a sense of deliverance. His
necessities seemed less gnawing; there was a slackening of taut
nerves. ...

Then Hilda appeared. "Evening, Bonbright," she said, and gave him her
hand.

"Let's get down to business," Lightener said. "Tell 'em, Bonbright."

"I'm going to marry Ruth Frazer to-morrow noon," he said, boldly.

Mrs. Lightener was amazed, then disappointed, for she had come to
hope strongly that she would have this boy for a son. She liked him,
and trusted in his possibilities. She believed he would be a husband
to whom she could give her daughter with an easy heart. ... Hilda
felt a momentary shock of surprise, but it passed quickly. Like her
father, she was sudden to pounce upon the concealed meaning of patent
facts--and she had spent the morning with Ruth. She was first to
speak.

"So you've decided to throw me over," she said, with a smile. ... "I
don't blame you, Bonbright. She's a dear."

"But who is she?" asked Mrs. Lightener. "I seem to have heard the
name, but I don't remember meeting her."

"She was my secretary," said Bonbright. "She's a stenographer in Mr.
Lightener's office now."

"Oh," said Mrs. Lightener, and there was dubiety in her voice.

"Exactly," said Lightener.

"MOTHER!" exclaimed Hilda. "Weren't you a stenographer in the office
where dad worked?"

"It isn't THAT," said Mrs. Lightener. "I wasn't thinking about the
girl nor about Bonbright. I was thinking of his mother."

"That's why he's here," said Lightener. "The Family touched off a
mess of fireworks. Mrs. Foote refuses to have anything to do with the
girl if Bonbright marries her. Promised to see nobody else did, too.
Isn't that it, Bonbright?"

"Yes."

"I don't like to mix in a family row..."

"You've GOT to, dad," said Hilda. "Of course Bonbright couldn't stand
THAT." They understood her to mean by THAT the Foote family's
position in the matter. "He couldn't stand it. ... I expect you and
mother are disappointed. You wanted me to marry Bonbright, myself..."

"HILDA!" Mrs. Lightener's voice was shocked.

"Oh, Bonbright and I talked it over the night we met. Don't be a bit
alarmed. I'm not being especially forward. ... We've got to do
something. What does Bon want us to do?"

"He wants me to give him a job."

She turned to Bonbright. "They turned you out?"

"I turned myself out," he said.

She nodded understandingly. "You WOULD," she said, approvingly. "What
kind of a job can you give him, dad?"

"H'm. THAT'S settled, is it? What do you think, mother?"

"Why, dear, he's got to support his wife," said Mrs. Lightener.

Malcolm Lightener permitted the granite of his face to relax in a
rueful smile. "I called you folks in to get your advice--not to have
you run the whole shebang."

"We're going to run it, dad. ...Don't you like Ruth Frazer?"

"I like her. She seems to be a nice, intelligent girl. ...Cries all
over a man's office. ..."

"I like her, too, and so will mother when she meets Ruth. I like her
a eap, Bon; she's a DEAR. Now that the job for you is settled--"

"Eh?" said Lightener.

Hilda smiled at him and amended herself. "Now that a very GOOD job
for you is settled, I'll tell you what I'm going to do. First thing,
I'm invited to the wedding, and so is mother, and so are some other
folks. I'll see to that. It isn't going to be any justice-of-the-
peace wedding, either. It's going to be in the church, and there'll
be enough folks there to make it read right in the paper."

"I'm afraid Ruth wouldn't care for that," said Bonbright, dubiously.
"I know she wouldn't."

"She's got to start off RIGHT as your wife, Bon. The start's
everything. You want your friends to know her and receive her, don't
you? Of course you do. I'll round up the folks and have them there.
It will be sort of romantic and interesting, and a bully send off for
Ruth if it's done right. It 'll make her quite the rage. You'll see.
...That's what I'm going to do--in spite of your mother. Your wife
will be received and invited every place that _I_ am. ...Maybe your
mother can run the dowagers, but I'll bet a penny I can handle the
young folks." In that moment she looked exceedingly like her father.

"HILDA!" her mother exclaimed again. "You must consider Mrs. Foote.
We don't want to have any unpleasantness over this. ..."

"We've got it already," said Hilda, "and the only way is to--go the
limit."

Lightener slammed the desk with his fist. "Right!" he said. "If we
meddle at all we've got to go the whole distance. Either stay out
altogether or go in over our heads. ... But how about this girl,
Hilda, does she belong?"

"She's decently educated. She has sweet manners. She's brighter than
two-thirds of us. She'll fit in all right. Don't you worry about
her."

"Young man," growled Lightener, "why couldn't you have fallen in love
with my daughter and saved all this fracas?"

Bonbright was embarrassed, but Hilda came to his rescue. "Because I
didn't want him to," she said. "You wouldn't have MADE me marry him,
would you?"

"PROBABLY not," said her father, with a rueful grin.

"I'm going to take charge of her," said Hilda. "We'll show your
mother, Bon."

"You're--mighty good," said Bonbright, chokingly.

"I'm going to see her the first thing in the morning. You see. I'll
fix things with her. When I explain everything to her she'll do just
as I want her to."

Mrs. Lightener was troubled; tears stood in her eyes. "I'm so sorry,
Bonbright. I--I suppose a boy has the right to pick out his own wife,
but it's too bad you couldn't have pleased your mother. ... Her heart
must ache to-night."

"I'm afraid," said Bonbright, slowly, "that it doesn't ache the way
you mean, Mrs. Lightener."

"It's a hard place to put us. We're meddling. It doesn't seem the
right thing to come between mother and son."

"You're not," said Hilda. "Mrs. Foote's snobbishness came between
them."

"HILDA!"

"That's just what it is. Ruth is just as nice as she is or anybody
else. She ought to be glad she's getting a daughter like Ruth. You'd
be. ...And we can't sit by and see Bon and his wife STARVE, can we?
We can't fold our hands and let Mrs. Foote make Ruth unhappy. It's
cruel, that's what it is, and nothing else. When Ruth is Bon's wife
she has the right to be treated as his wife should be. Mrs. Foote has
no business trying to humiliate her and Bon--and she sha'n't."

"I suppose you're right, dear. I KNOW you're right. ... But I'm
thinking how I'd feel if it were YOU."

"You'd never feel like Mrs. Foote, mother. If I made up my mind to
marry a man out of dad's office--no matter what his job was, if he
was all right himself--you wouldn't throw me out of the house and set
out to make him and me as unhappy as you could. You aren't a snob."

"No," said Mrs. Lightener, "I shouldn't."

Malcolm Lightener, interrupted. "Now you've both had your say," he
said, "and you seem to have decided the thing between you. I felt
kind of that way, myself, but I wanted to know about you folks. What
you say GOES. ...Now clear out; I want to talk business to
Bonbright."

Hilda gave Bonbright her hand again. "I'm glad," she said, simply. "I
know you'll be very happy."

"And I'll do what I can, boy," said Mrs. Lightener

Bonbright was moved as he had never been moved before by kindliness
and womanliness. "Thank you. ... Thank you," he said, tremulously.
"I--you don't know what this means to me. You've--you've put a new
face on the whole future. ..."

"Clear out," said Malcolm Lightener.

Hilda made a little grimace at him in token that she flouted his
authority, and she and her mother said good night and retired from
the room.

"Now," said Malcolm Lightener.

Bonbright waited.

"I'm going to give you a job, but it won't be any private-office job.
I don't know what you're good for. Probably not much. Don't get it
into your head I'm handing a snap to you, because I'm not. If you're
not worth what I pay you you'll get fired. Understand?"

"Yes, sir."

"If you stick you'll learn something. Not the kind of rubbish you've
been sopping up in your own place. I run a business, not a museum of
antiquity. You'll have to work. Think you can?"

"I've wanted to. They wouldn't let me."

"Um!...You'll get dirt on your hands. ...Most likely you'll be
running Bonbright Foote, Incorporated, one of these days. This thing
won't last. Your father'll have to come around. ...I only hope he
lets you stay with me long enough to teach you some business sense
and something about running a plant. I'll pay you enough to support
you and this girl of yours--but you'll earn it. When you earn more
you'll get it...Sounds reasonable."

"I--I can't thank you enough."

"Report for work day after to-morrow, then. You're a man out of a
job. You can't afford honeymoons. I'll let you have the day off to-
morrow, but next morning you be in my office when the whistle blows.
I always am."

"Yes, sir."

"Where are you going to live? Got any money?"

"I don't know where we shall live. Maybe we'd better find a place to
board for a while. I've got a hundred dollars or so."

"Board!...Huh! Nobody's got any business boarding when they're
married. Wife has too much time on her hands. Nothing to do.
Especially at the start of things your wife'll need to be busy. Keep
her from getting notions. ...I'll bet the percentage of divorces
among folks that board is double that it is among folks that keep
house. Bound to be. ...You get you a decent flat and furnish it.
Right off. After you get married you and your wife pick out the
furniture. That's what I'm giving you the day off to-morrow for. You
can furnish a little flat--the kind you can afford, for five hundred
dollars. ... You're not a millionaire now. You're a young fellow with
a fair job and a moderate salary that you've got to live on.
...Better let your wife handle it. She's used to it and you're not.
She'll make one dollar go as far as you would make ten."

"Yes, sir."

Lightener moved awkwardly and showed signs of embarrassment. "And
listen here," he said, gruffly, "a young girl's a pretty sweet and
delicate piece of business. They're mighty easy to hurt, and the hurt
lasts a long time. ...You want to be married a long time, I expect,
and you want your wife to--er--love you right on along. Well, be darn
careful, young fellow. Start the thing right. More marriages are
smashed in the first few days than in the next twenty years. ...You
be damn gentle and considerate of that little girl."

"I--I hope I shall, Mr. Lightener."

"You'd better be. ...Where you going to-night?"

"To the club. I have some things there. I've always kept enough
clothes there to get along on."

"Your club days are over for some time. Married man has no business
with a club till he's forty. ...Evenings, anyhow. Stay at home with
your wife. How'd you like to have her running out to some darn thing
three or four nights a week?...Go on, now. I'll tell Hilda where you
are. Probably she'll want to call you up in the morning. ...Good
night."

"Good night...and thank you."

"Huh!" said Malcolm Lightener, and without paying the slightest bit
of attention to whether Bonbright stayed or went away, he took up the
papers on his desk and lost himself in the figures that covered them.
Bonbright went out quietly, thankfully, his heart glad with its own
song. ...The future was settled; safe. He had nothing to fear. And
to-morrow he was going to enter into a land of great happiness. He
felt he was entering a land of fulfillment. That is the way with the
very young. They enter upon marriage feeling it is a sort of haven of
perpetual bliss, that it marks the end of unhappiness, of
difficulties, of loneliness, of griefs...when, in reality, it is but
the beginning of life with all the diverse elements of joy and grief
and anxiety and comfort and peace and discord that life is capable of
holding. ...




CHAPTER XIX


Hilda Lightener had found Ruth strangely quiet, with a manner which
was not indifference to her imminent marriage, but which seemed more
like numbness.

"You act as if you were going to be hanged instead of married," Hilda
told her, and found no smile answering her own.

Ruth was docile. She offered no objection to any suggestion offered
by Hilda, accepted every plan without demurring. Hilda could not
understand her, and was troubled. Wholly lacking was the girlish
excitement to be expected. "Whatever you want me to do I will do,
only get it over with," seemed to be Ruth's attitude. She seemed to
be holding herself in, communing with herself. A dozen times Hilda
had to repeat a question or a statement which Ruth had not heard,
though her eyes were on Hilda's and she seemed to be giving her
attention.

She was saying to herself: "I must go through with it. ... I can't
draw back. ... What I am doing is RIGHT--RIGHT."

She obeyed Hilda, not so much through pliancy as through
listlessness, and presently Hilda was going ahead with matters and
acting as a sort of specially appointed general manager of the
marriage. She directed Ruth what to wear, saw it was put on, almost
bundled Ruth and her mother into the carriage, and convoyed them to
the church, where Bonbright awaited them. She could not prevent a
feeling of exasperation, especially toward Mrs. Frazer, who had moved
from chair to chair, uttering words of self-pity, and pronouncing a
constant jeremiad. ... Such preliminaries to a wedding she had never
expected to witness, and she witnessed them with awakened foreboding.

A dozen or so young folks and Malcolm Lightener and his wife
witnessed the brief ceremony. Until Ruth's appearance there had been
the usual chattering and gayety, but even the giddiest of the
youngsters was restrained and subdued by her white, tense face, and
her big, unseeing eyes.

"I don't like it," Lightener whispered to his wife.

"Poor child!... Poor child!" she whispered back, not taking her eyes
from Ruth's face.

After the rector pronounced the final words of the ceremony Ruth
stood motionless. Then she turned slowly toward Bonbright, swaying a
trifle as if her knees were threatening to fail her, and said in a
half whisper, audible to those about: "It's over?... It's all over?"

"Yes, dear."

"It can't be undone," she said, not to her husband, but to herself.
"We are--married."

Hilda, fearing some inauspicious act or word, bustled forward her
bevy of young folks to offer their babel of congratulations. As she
presented them one by one, Ruth mustered a wan smile, let them take
her cold, limp hand. But her mind was not on them. All the while she
was thinking: "This is my HUSBAND. ... I belong to this man. ... I am
his WIFE." Once in a while she would glance at Bonbright; he seemed
more a stranger to her than he had done the first time her eyes had
ever rested on him--a stranger endowed with odious potentialities.
...

Mrs. Lightener took Ruth into her arms and whispered, "He's a dear,
good boy. ..." There was comfort in Mrs. Lightener's arms, but scant
comfort in her words, yet they would remain with Ruth and she would
find comfort in them later. Now she heard Malcolm Lightener speaking
to her husband. "You be good to that little girl, young man," he
said. "Be mighty patient and gentle with her." She waited for
Bonbright's reply. "I love her," she heard Bonbright say in a low
voice. It was a good answer, a reassuring answer, but it stabbed Ruth
with a new pang, for she had traded on that love; she was a cheat.
Bonbright was giving her his love in exchange for emptiness. Somehow
she could not think of the Cause now, for this was too intimate, too
individual, too personal. ...

Presently Bonbright and Ruth were being driven to their hotel. The
thought of wedding breakfast or of festivities of any sort had been
repugnant to Ruth, and Hilda had not insisted. They were alone. Ruth
lay back against the soft upholstery of Malcolm Lightener's
limousine, colorless, eyes closed. Bonbright watched her face
hungrily, scrutinizing it for some sign of happiness, for some
vestige of feeling that reciprocated his own. He saw nothing but
pallor, weariness.

"Dear," he whispered, and touched her hand almost timorously. Her
hand trembled to his touch, and involuntarily she drew away from him.
Her eyes opened, and in them his own eager eyes read FEAR. ... He was
startled, hurt. Being only a boy, with a boy's understanding and a
boy's pride, he was piqued, and himself drew back. This was not what
he had expected, not what the romances he had read had led him to
believe would take place. In stories the bride was timid, yet eager;
loving, yielding, happy. She clung to her husband, her heart beating
against his heart, whispering her adoration and demanding whispered
adoration from him. ... Here all of this was lacking, and something
which crouched at the opposite pole of human emotion was present--
FEAR.

"You must be patient and gentle with her," Malcolm Lightener had said
with understanding, and Bonbright was wise enough to know that there
spoke experience; probably there spoke truth, not romance, as it is
set down on the printed page. Even if Ruth's attitude were unusual,
so the circumstances were unusual. It was no ordinary marriage
preceded by an ordinary, joyous courtship. In this moment Bonbright
took thought, and it was given him to understand that now, as at no
other moment in his life with Ruth, was the time to exercise patience
and gentleness.

"Ruth," he said, taking her hand and holding it with both his own,
"you mustn't be afraid of ME. ... You are afraid. You're my wife," he
said, boyishly. "It's my job to make you happy--the most important
job I've got--and to look after you and to keep away from you
everything that might--make you afraid." He lifted her fingers to his
lips; they were cold. "I want to take you in my arms and hold you...
but not until you want me to. I can wait. ... I can do ANYTHING that
you want me to do. Both of us have just gone through unpleasant
things--and they've tired and worried you. ... I wish I might comfort
you, dear. ..." His voice was low and yearning.

She let her hand remain in his, and with eyes from which the terror
was fading she looked into his eyes to find them clear, honest,
filled with love and care for her. They were good eyes, such as any
bride might rejoice to find looking upon her from her husband's face.

"You're--so good," she whispered. Then: "I'm tired, Bonbright, so
tired--and--Oh, you don't understand, you CAN'T understand. ... I'll
be different presently--I know I shall. Don't be angry..."

"Angry!"

"I'll be a good wife to you, Bonbright," she said, tremulously, a bit
wildly. "I--You sha'n't be disappointed in me. ... I'll not cheat.
... But wait--WAIT. Let me rest and think. It's all been so quick."

"You asked that," he said, hurt and puzzled.

"Yes. ... It had to be--and now I'm your wife... and I feel as if I
didn't know you--as if you were a stranger. Don't you understand?...
It's because I'm so helpless now--just as if you owned me and could
do what you wanted to with me... and it makes me afraid. ..."

"I--I don't understand very well," he said, slowly. "Maybe it's
because I'm a man--but it doesn't seem as if it ought to be that
way." He stopped and regarded her a moment, then he said, "Ruth,
you've never told me you loved me."

She sensed the sudden fear in his voice and saw the question that had
to be answered, but she could not answer it. To-day she could not
bring herself to the lie--neither to the spoken lie nor the more
difficult lying action. "Not now," she said, hysterically. "Not to-
day. ... Wait. ... I've married you. I've given myself to you. ...
Isn't that enough for now?... Give me time."

It was not resentment he felt, not doubt of her. Her pitiful face,
her cold little hands, the fear that lurked in her eyes, demanded his
sympathy and forbearance, and, boy though he was, with all a boy's
inexperience, he was man enough to give them, intuitive enough to
understand something of the part he must play until she could adjust
herself to her new condition.

He pressed her hand--and released it. "I sha'n't bother you," he
said, "until you want me. ... But it isn't because I don't want you--
don't want to hold you--to LOVE you... and to have you love me. ...
It will be all right, dear. You needn't be afraid of me. ..."

The car was stopping before the hotel. Now the doorman opened the
door and Bonbright helped his bride to alight. She tottered as her
feet touched the sidewalk, and he took her arm to support her as he
might have helped an invalid. The elevator carried them up to the
floor on which were the rooms that had been prepared for them, and
they stopped before the door while he inserted the key and turned the
lock for their admission. On the threshold she halted, swept by a
wave of terror, but, clenching her hands and pressing shut her eyes,
she stepped within. The door closed behind them--closed out her
girlhood, closed out her independence, shut away from her forever
that ownership of herself which had been so precious, yet so
unrecognized and unconsidered. It seemed to her that the closing of
that door--even more than the ceremony of marriage--was symbolical of
turning over to this young man the title deeds of her soul and body.
...

Bonbright was helping her to rid herself of her wraps, leading her to
a sofa.

"Lie down," he said, gently. "You're tired and bothered. Just lie
down and rest."

"Are we going away?" she asked, presently. "Have I got to get ready?"

He had promised her they would go away--and had not seen her since
that moment to tell her what had happened. Hilda would not let him go
to her that morning, so she was in ignorance of the change in his
condition, of his break with his family, and of the fact that he was
nothing but a boy with a job, dependent upon his wages. Until this
moment he had not thought how it might affect her; of her
disappointment, of the fact that she might have expected and looked
forward to the position he could give her as the wife of the heir
apparent to the Foote dynasty. ... It embarrassed him, shamed him as
a boy might be shamed who was unable to buy for his girl a trinket
she coveted at some country fair. Now she must be told, and she was
in no condition to bear disappointments.

"I promised you we should go away," he said, haltingly, "but--but I
can't manage it. Things have happened. ...I've got to be at work in
the morning. Maybe I should have told you. Maybe I should have come
last night after it happened--"

She opened her eyes, and at the expression of his face she sat up,
alarmed. It told her that no ordinary, small, casual mishap had
befallen, but something vital, something which might affect him--and
her tremendously.

"What is it?" she asked. "What has happened?"

"I went home last night," he said, slowly. "After--you promised to
marry me--I went home to tell father. ...Mother was there. There was
a row--but mother was worse than father. She was--rather bad."

"Rather bad--how, Bonbright?"

"She--didn't like my marrying you. Of course we knew neither of them
would like it, but I didn't think anything like this would happen.
...You know father and I had a fuss the other day, and I left the
office. I had thought things over, and was going back. It seemed as
if I ought to go back--as if that was the thing to do. ... Well,
mother said things that made it impossible. I'm through with them for
good. The Family and the Ancestors can go hang." His voice grew angry
as recollection of that scene presented itself. "Mother said I
shouldn't marry you..."

"You--you don't mean you're not going to--to have anything to do with
Bonbright Foote, Incorporated--and all those thousands of men?"

"That's it. ...I couldn't do anything else. I had to break with them.
Father was bad, but it was mother. ...She said she would never
receive you or recognize you as my wife--and that sort of thing--and
I left. I'm never going back. ... On your account I'm sorry. I can't
give you so much, and I can't do the things for you that I could. ...
We'll be quite poor, but I've got a job. Mr. Lightener gave me a job,
and I've got to go to work in the morning. That's why we can't go
away. ..."

"You mean," she said, dully, trying to sense this calamity, "that you
will never go back? Never own--that--business?"

"It was a choice of giving you up or that. Mother made that clear. If
I married you I should never have anything from them. ..."

She did not see the happiness that might lie for her in the
possession of a husband whose love was so great that he could give up
the kingdoms of the earth for her. She could not see the strength of
the boy, his loyalty, his honor. All she saw was the crushing of her
plan before it began to germinate. ... She had given herself for the
Cause. She was here, this young man's wife, alone in these rooms with
him, because she loved the Cause and had martyred herself for it. ...
Her influence was to ameliorate the conditions of thousands of the
Bonbright Foote laborers; she was to usher in a new era for them--and
for that she had offered herself up. ... And now, having bound
herself forever to this boy that she did not love--loving another
man--the possibility of achievement was snatched from her and her
immolation made futile. It was as if she plunged into a rapids,
offering her life to save a child that struggled there, to find, when
she reached the little body, and it was too late to save herself,
that it was a wax figure from some shop window. ... But her position
was worse than that; what she faced was worse than swift, merciful
death. ... It was years of a life of horrid possibilities, tied to a
man whose chattel she was. She stood up and clutched his arm.

"You're joking," she said, in a tense, metallic voice.

"I'm sorry, dear. It's very true."

"Oh!" Her voice was a wail. "It can't be--it can't be. I couldn't
bear that--not THAT. ..."

Bonbright seized her by the arms and peered into her face. "Ruth," he
said, "what do you mean? Was THAT why you married me? You're not like
those women I've heard about who married--for MONEY."

"No. ...No..." she cried. "Not that--Oh, don't believe that."

She spoke the truth, and Bonbright could not doubt it. Truth was in
her words, her tone, her face. ...It was a thing she was incapable
of, and he knew it. She could not be mean, contemptible. He drew her
to him and kissed her, and she did not resent it. A surge of
happiness filled him. ...She had been dismayed because of him. There
was no other interpretation of her words and actions. She was
conscience stricken because she had brought misfortune upon him.

He laughed boyishly. "Don't worry about me. I don't care," he said,
gayly, "so long as I have you. You're worth it a dozen times. ...I'm
glad, Ruth--I'm glad I had to pay for you dearly. Somehow it makes me
seem worthier--you understand what I mean. ..."

She understood--understood, too, the interpretation he had put on her
words. It brought a flush to her white cheeks. ...She disengaged
herself gently.

"If we're not going away," she said, "I can lie down--and rest."

"Of course."

"Alone? In the next room?"

He opened the door for her. "I'll be as quiet as a mouse," he said.
"Have a good sleep. I'll sit here and read." She read in his eyes a
plea for affection, for another kiss, as she left him, but she had
not the strength to give it. She went into the adjoining room, and
shut the door after her. Then she stood there silently regarding the
door--regarding the KEY. ... If she locked it she was safe from him.
He could not come in. ... She could lock him out.

Her hand went to the key, but came away without turning it. No. ...
She had no right. She had made her bargain and must abide by it.
Bonbright was her husband and she was his wife, and as such she must
not turn locks upon him. ... Marriage gave him the right of free
access.

Dressed as she was, in the suit that had been her wedding dress, she
threw herself upon the bed and gave up her soul to torment. She had
taken her all and paid it for a thing desirable in her eyes--and her
all had bought her nothing. She had wrenched her love from the man to
whom she had given it, and all her life must counterfeit love for a
man whom she did not love--and in return she would receive--nothing.
She had seen herself a Joan of Arc. That dream was blown away in a
breath. ... But the bargain was made. That she did not receive what
she had thought to receive was no fault of Bonbright's--and she must
endure what was to be endured. She must be honest with him--as
honesty showed its face to her. To be honest with him meant to her to
deceive him daily, hourly, to make her life a lie. He was cheated
enough as matters stood--and he did not deserve to be cheated. He was
good, gentle, a man. She appreciated him--but she did not love him.
... And appreciating him, aware of his strength and his goodness to
her, she could not keep her eyes off the door. She lay there eying it
with ever increasing apprehension--yet she did not, would not, could
not, rise to turn the key. ...




CHAPTER XX


In every formation of a fresh family group there must be
readjustments of habit and of thought. Two people who fancy they know
each other intimately discover that they are in reality utter
strangers. They start a new acquaintanceship at the moment of
marriage, and the wonder of it is that so many millions of them
manage the thing with success. It is true that a man and woman who
join their hands and their fortunes because of a deep-seated,
genuine, calm affection have a greater chance of lasting happiness
than those who unite because of the spur of sudden, flaring passion.
There are those who contend that friendship and mutual confidence are
a firmer foundation for marriage than the emotion that we call love.
Thousands of men and women have married because prudence told them a
certain other individual would make a trustworthy, efficient,
comfortable husband or wife, and as days and weeks and years passed
this respect and trust and regard has blossomed into a beautifully
permanent flower of love. ...Doubtless happiness has resulted from
marriages which resulted from motives purely mercenary, for human
beings are blessed by Heaven with a quality called adaptability. Of
no marriage can one predict happiness surely. At the altar the best
one can do is to hope for the best. ...But what can be said of a
marriage brought about by the causes and motives that led Bonbright
Foote to Ruth Frazer and Ruth Frazer to Bonbright Foote?

Of the two, Bonbright's reasons most nearly approached the normal,
and therefore the safe; Ruth had been urged by a motive, lofty
perhaps, visionary, but supremely abnormal. Therefore the adjustments
to be made, the problems to be mastered, the difficulties in their
road to a comfortable, reasonably happy future, were multiplied many
times. Instead of being probable, the success of their little social
entity became merely possible, doubtfully possible.

Ruth, being a woman, understood something of this. Bonbright, being a
boy, and a singularly inexperienced boy, understood it not at all,
and as he sat alone, a closed door between him and his wife, he
wearied his brain upon the puzzle of it. He came to the conclusion
that the present difficult situation was the natural thing. It was
natural for the bride to be timid, frightened, reluctant, for she was
entering a dark forest of strange, new experiences. He understood
that his own case might be exaggerated because their marriage had
been preceded by no ordinary courtship, with the opportunity which a
courtship gives to begin the inevitable readjustments, and to become
accustomed to intimacy of thought and act.

The ordinary man has little intuition, but a world of good
intentions. Men blunder woefully in their relations with women, not
because of innate boorishness in the sex, not because of willful
brashness, but because of lack of understanding. They mean well, but
their performance is deplorable. ... In that moment Bonbright's most
valuable possession was a certain intuition, a fineness, a decency, a
reserve, a natural modesty. As he sat there alone he reached a
conclusion which was, probably, the most profoundly wise conclusion
he was to arrive at in his life. It came not so much from taking
thought, as by blessed inspiration. This conclusion was that he must
court Ruth Frazer as a sweetheart, not approach her as a husband. ...

It was a course that would require infinite patience, forbearance,
fineness. In his love for Ruth he felt himself capable of it; felt
that it would bring its reward.

So he sat and waited. He did not approach the door which she had
watched with apprehensive eyes until weariness had closed them in
sleep. ...

The luncheon hour had passed when he heard Ruth moving about within.

"Hungry?" he called to her, boyishly. His voice reassured her. It was
comradely. There was nothing in it that menaced her security. ...The
sleep and the rest had bettered her. She was less tense, more calmly
resigned to events. She had marshaled her will; had set it to bear
her up and to compel her to carry on bravely and without hysteria the
part of a wife.

"I am hungry," she said, and presently she appeared in the door,
stood there a moment, and then walked across the room to Bonbright.
"Thank you," she said, simply, and he understood.

"You don't mind being poor for a while?" he asked.

"I've always been poor," she said, with something that approached her
old smile.

"Because," he said, "we are poor. I am going to earn about thirty
dollars a week. So, you see, we can't afford to live here. We've got
to find a little house or flat. ..."

"Let's begin," she cried. It was not the delight of a woman at the
thought of hunting for her first home, but the idea of having
something to do, of escaping from these rooms. "Let's go right out to
look."

"First," he said, with pretended severity, "we eat."

So they went down to the dining room, and after they had eaten they
inaugurated their house hunting. Perhaps Providence intervened at
this difficult moment to give them occupation. If so, Providence
acted with amazing wisdom and kindness.

Ruth found an interest in the search. She forgot. Her mind was taken
from morbid breedings as they climbed stairs and explored rooms and
questioned agents. Bonbright was very happy--happier because he was
openly and without shame adapting his circumstances to his purse. ...
They found a tiny flat, to be had for a fourth of their income. Ruth
said that was the highest proportion of their earnings it was safe to
pay for rent, and Bonbright marveled at her wisdom in such matters.
...

Then there were the furnishings to select. Bonbright left the
selection and the chaffering wholly to Ruth--and she enjoyed it. The
business rested, refreshed, stimulated her. It pushed her fears into
the dim background and brought again to the light of day her old self
that Bonbright loved. More than once she turned the light of her
famous grin upon him or upon some thrice lucky salesman.

But the end was reached at last; everything was done that could be
done, and there was nothing to do but to return to the hotel. Ruth
did her best to keep up her spirits, but by every block that they
approached the hotel, by so much her lightness vanished, by so much
her apprehension, her heartache, the black disappointment of the
failure of her great plan, returned.

Bonbright saw the change and it grieved him--it strengthened the
determination he had made. When they reached their rooms he drew her
over to the sofa.

"Let's sit here together, dear," he said. "We haven't had a decent
talk, and there are a heap of things to talk about, aren't there?"

She forced herself to sit down close to him, and waited icily,
steeling herself to yield to his demonstrations of affection if he
offered them, but he did not.

"I've an idea," he said. "I--I hope you'll like it. It'll be sort of-
-fun. Sort of a game, you know. ... While I sat here this afternoon I
was thinking about us--and--how I want to make you happy. ...We were
married--suddenly. Most folks play along and get to know each other,
and grow to love each other gradually, I guess. ...I didn't grow to
love you gradually. I don't know how it was with you. But, anyhow, we
missed our courtship. We started right in by being husband and wife.
Of course I'm glad of that. ...Don't think I'm not. I wanted you--
right away. But--but my idea was that maybe we could--have our
courtship now--after we are married. ...Mayn't we?"

"What--what do you mean?" she asked, fearfully, hopefully.

"We'll pretend we aren't married at all," he said. "We'll make
believe we're at a house party or something, and I just met you. I'm
no end interested in you right off, of course. I haven't any idea how
you feel about me. ...We'll start off as if we just met, and it's up
to me to make you fall in love with me. ...I'll bring out the whole
bag of tricks. Flowers and candy and such like, and walks and rides.
I'll get right down and pursue you. ...After a while you'll--maybe--
get so far as to call me by my first name." He laughed like a small
boy. "And some day you'll let me hold your hand--pretending you don't
know I'm holding it at all. ...And I'll be making love to you to--to
beat the band. Regular crush I'll have on you. ...What do you think?"

"You mean REALLY?...You mean we'll LIVE like that? That we won't be
married, but do like you said?" She was staring at him with big,
unbelieving eyes.

"That's the idea exactly. ...We won't be married till I WIN you.
That's the game. ...And I'll try hard--you haven't any notion how
hard I'll try." There was something pleading, pathetic in his voice,
that went to her heart.

"Oh," she said, breathlessly, "that's DEAR of you. ... You're good--
so GOOD. ... I--I hate myself. ... You'll do THAT?... I didn't--know
anybody--could be--so--so good." She swayed, swayed toward him in a
storm of tears, and he drew her face down on his shoulder while with
awkward hand he patted her shoulder.

"There. ... There..." he said, clumsily, happily. She did not draw
away from him, but lay there wetting his coat with her tears, her
heart swelling with thanks-giving; fear vanished, and something was
born in her breast that would never die. The thing that was born was
a perfect trust in this man she had married, and a perfect trust is
one of the rarest and most wonderful things under the sun.

For so young a man, Bonbright felt singularly fatherly. He held his
wife gently, silently, willing that she should cry, with a song in
his heart because she nestled to him and wept on his shoulder. If he
deluded himself that she clung to him because of other, sweeter
emotion than grief, relief, it did not diminish his happiness. The
moment was the best he had known for months, perhaps the best he had
ever known.

Ruth sat up and wiped her eyes. He looked into them, saw them cleared
now of dread, and it was a sufficient reward. For her part, in that
instant, Ruth almost loved Bonbright, not as lovers love, but as one
loves a benefactor, some one whose virtues have earned affection. But
it was not that sort that Bonbright asked of her, she knew full well.

"Now--er--Miss Frazer," he said, briskly, "I don't want to appear
forward for a new acquaintance, but if I suggested that there was a
bully play in town--sort of tentatively, you know--what would happen
to me?"

"Why, Mr. Foote," she replied, able to enter into the spirit of the
pretense, "I think you'd find yourself in the awkward position of a
young man compelled to buy two seats."

"No chaperons?"

"Where I come from," she said, "chaperons are not in style."

"And we'll go some place after the play. ...I want to make the most
of my opportunity, because I've got to work all day to-morrow. It's a
shame, too, because I have a feeling that I'd like to monopolize
you."

"Aren't you going a bit fast for a comparative stranger?" she asked,
merrily.

He pretended to look crestfallen. "You sha'n't have to put me in my
place again," he promised; "but wait--wait till we've known each
other a week!...Do you know, Miss Frazer, you have a mighty charming
smile!"

"It has been remarked before," she said.

"We mustn't keep our hostess waiting. I'm afraid we'll be late for
dinner, now." He chuckled at the idea.

"I never have eaten dinner with a man in evening dress," she said,
with a touch of seriousness. "In the country I come from the men
don't wear them." How true that was--in the country she came from,
the country of widows who kept boarding houses, of laborers, of Dulac
and their sort! She was in another land now, a land she had been
educated to look upon with enmity; the land of the oppressor. Little
revolutionist--she was to learn much of that country in the days to
come and to know that in it bad men and good men, worthy women and
trifling women, existed in about the same ratio as in her own
familiar land. ...Bonbright insisted upon buying her violets--the
first costly flowers she had ever worn. They occupied desirable
seats--and the few plays Ruth had seen she had seen from gallery
heights! Fortunately it was a bright play, brimming with laughter and
gayety, presenting no squalid problems, holding up to the shrinking
eyes of the audience no far-fetched, impossible tangles of sex. They
enjoyed it. Ruth enjoyed it. That she could do so is wonderful,
perhaps, but then, so many human capabilities are wonderful! Men
about to be hanged eat a hearty meal with relish. ... How much more
might Ruth find pleasure since she had been granted a reprieve!

When the curtain descended they moved toward the exits, waiting for
the crowd to clear the way. Bonbright's attention was all for Ruth,
but her eyes glanced curiously about, observing the well-fed, well-
kept, brilliantly dressed men and women--men and women of the world
to which she belonged now. As one approached them and saw them, they
were singularly human. Their faces were not different from faces she
was accustomed to. Cleaner they were, perhaps, with something more of
refinement. They were better dressed, but there she saw the same
smiles, the same weariness, the same charm, the same faces that told
their tales of hard work and weary bodies. ... They were just human
beings, all of them, HER sort and these. ...

Suddenly her fingers tightened on her husband's arm. He heard her
draw a quick, startled little breath, and looked up to see his father
and mother approaching them, from the opposite direction. Bonbright
had not expected this. It was the last place in the world he had
thought to encounter his parents--but there they were, not to be
avoided. He stopped, stiffened. Ruth stole a glance at his face and
saw it suddenly older, tenser.

Mr. and Mrs. Foote approached slowly. Ruth knew the moment Mrs. Foote
saw her husband, for the stately woman bit her lip and spoke
hurriedly to Bonbright's father, who glanced at Bonbright and then at
her uncertainly. Ruth saw that Mrs. Foote held her husband's arm, did
not allow him to turn aside, but led him straight toward them. ...
Bonbright stood stiff, expectant. On came his father and mother, with
no quickening of pace. Bonbright's eyes moved from one face to the
other as they approached. Now they were face to face. Mrs. Foote's
eyes encountered Ruth's, moved away from the girl to her son, moved
on--giving no sign of recognition. Mr. Foote looked stonily before
him. ...And so they passed, refusing even a bow to their son, the
only child that had been given them. ...That others had seen the
episode Ruth knew, for she saw astonished glances, saw quick
whisperings.

Then she looked up at her husband. He had not turned to look after
his parents, but was staring before him, his face white, his eyes
burning, little knots of muscle gathered at the points of his jaw.
She pressed his arm gently and heard his quick intake of breath--so
like a sob.

"Come," he said, harshly. "Come."

"It was cruel--heartless," she said, fiercely, quickly partisan,
making his quarrel her own, with no thought that the slight had been
for her as well as for him.

"Come," he repeated.

They went out into the street, Bonbright quivering with shame and
anger, Ruth not daring to speak, so white, so hurt was his face, so
fierce the smolder in his eyes.

"You see..." he said, presently. "You see. ..."

"I've cost you THAT," she said.

"That," he said, slowly, as if he could not believe his words, "that
was my father and--my mother."

Ruth was frightened. Not until this moment did she realize what she
had done; not until now did the teeth of remorse clench upon her. To
marry her--because he loved her--this boy at her side must suffer
THIS. It was her doing. ...She had cheated him into it. She had cost
him this and was giving nothing to pay for it. He had foreseen it.
Last night he had cut adrift from his parents because of her--
willingly. She knew he would have made, would make, any sacrifice for
her. ...And she had married him with no love in her heart, married
him to use him for her own ends!

She dared not doubt that what she had done was right. She dared not
question her act, nor that the end justified the means she had used.
...But the end was not to be attained. By the act of marrying
Bonbright she had made it impossible for herself to further the
Cause. ...It was a vicious circle of events.

As she watched his face she became all woman; revolutionist and
martyr disappeared. Her heart ached for him, her sympathy went out to
him. "Poor boy!..." she said, and pressed his arm again.

"It was to--be expected," he said, slowly. "I'm glad it's over. ...I
knew what would happen, so why should the happening of it trouble
me? ...There have been six generations in my family that would do that
thing. ... Ruth, the Foote Tradition is ended. It ended with me. Such
things have no right to exist. ... Six generations of it. ..."

She did not speak, but she was resolving silently: "I'll be good to
him. I'll make him happy. I'll make up to him for this. ..."

He shook himself. "It doesn't matter," he said. "We sha'n't let it
interfere with our evening. ...Come, Miss Frazer, where shall we
lunch?"




CHAPTER XXI


All of Ruth's life had been spent in contact with the abnormal, the
ultraradical. The tradition which time had reared about HER family--
as powerful in its way as the Foote Tradition, but separated from it
by a whole world--had brought acquaintanceship and intimacy with
strange people and strange cults. In the parlor of her home she had
listened to frank, fantastic discussions; to lawless theories. These
discussions, beginning anywhere, ended always with the reform of the
marriage relation. Anarchist, socialist, nihilist, atheist, Utopian,
altruist--all tinkered with the family group, as if they recognized
that the civilization they were at war with rested upon this and no
other foundation.

So Ruth was well aware how prone the individual is to experiment with
the processes of forming and continuing the relations between men and
women which have for their cardinal object the peopling of the earth.
But in spite of the radicalism which was hers by right of inheritance
and training, she had not been attracted by any of them. A certain
basic sense of balance had enabled her to see these things were but
vain gropings in the dark; that they might flower successfully in
abnormal individual cases--orchid growths--but that each was doomed
to failure as a universal solution. For mankind in bulk is normal,
and its safety lies in a continuance of normality. Ages had evolved
the marriage relation as it existed; ages might evolve it into
something different as sudden revolution could not. It was the one
way, and she knew it to be the one way.

Therefore she recognized that Bonbright and herself were embarked on
one of these unstable, experimental craft. She saw, as he did not,
that it was unseaworthy and must founder at the first touch of storm.
She pinned no false hopes to it; recognized it as a makeshift,
welcome to her only as a reprieve--and that it must soon be discarded
for a vessel whose planking was reality and whose sails were woven of
normal stuff.

As the days went by and they were settled in their little flat,
living the exotic life which temporarily solved their problem, she
knew it could not last; feared it might dissolve at any moment.
Inevitable signs of the gust that should destroy it had been
apparent...and her dread returned. Even Bonbright was able to see
that his plan was not a perfect success.

If it had not been for Dulac. ... He complicated the thing
unendurably. ... If Bonbright were still heir apparent to the Foote
dynasty, and her plan might be carried out. ... She felt a duty
toward Dulac--she had promised to hold him always in her thoughts,
felt he was entitled to a sort of spiritual loyalty from her. And,
deprived of him, she fancied her love for him was as deep as the sea
and as enduring as time. ...

Long days alone, with only the slightest labor to occupy her hands
and mind, gave her idle time--fertile soil for the raising of a dark
crop of morbid thoughts. She brooded much, and, brooding, became
restless, unhappy, and she could not conceal it from Bonbright when
he came home eagerly for his dinner, ready to take up with boyish
hope the absurd game he had invented. She allowed herself to think of
Dulac; indeed, she forced herself to think of him. ...

Five days she had been married, when, going to the door in answer to
the bell, she opened it, to find Dulac standing there. She uttered a
little cry of fright and half closed the door. He held it open with
his knee.

Sudden terror, not of him, but of herself, caused her to thrust
against the door with all her strength, but he forced it open slowly
and entered.

"Go away," she said, shrinking from him and standing with her back
against the wall. "Go away. ..."

"I stayed away as long as I could," he said. "Now I'm not going away-
-until we've had a talk."

"There's nothing for us to--say," she whispered. "You must be crazy--
to come here."

He was laboring under excitement. She could see the smoldering fire
in his black eyes; it was plain that he was worn, tired, a man
fighting in the last ditch. His hold upon himself was not secure, but
she could not be sorry for him now. The possibilities his presence
suggested terrified her and excluded all other thoughts.

He stood with his burning eyes upon her face, not speaking; staring.
"Go away," she begged, but he shook his head.

"You've been cheated," he said, hoarsely. "It doesn't matter if you
gave yourself to HIM for the reason you said you did--or for his
money. You're cheated. ... His kind always cheats. You're getting
NOTHING. ... Are you going to stand it? That's what I came to find
out. ... Are you going to stand it?"

She could make no reply.

"What are you going to do about it?" he demanded.

"What can I do?... It's too late."

"Look here, you married him to get something--to be able to do
something. ... You didn't have any other reason. You didn't love him.
... You loved ME. He's been kicked out by his family. He doesn't own
anything. He's out for good, and you can't get anything or do
anything. I want to know what you're going to do about it."

"Nothing."

"Nothing?... You're not going to stick to him. You don't love him--
probably you hate him by this time. ... You couldn't help it."

"I married him," she said. "It isn't his fault if his family put him
out. ... It was MY fault. They did it because he married me. ... It
was I who cheated HIM--and you can see--what it's--cost him. ... I've
got to make it up to him--someway. I--I don't hate him. ... He's been
good. ... Oh, he's been wonderfully good."

"Do you want to live with him?"

"No," she said. "No. ..."

"What about me?... I love you, don't I? Wasn't I before HIM?...
Didn't you give yourself to me? What about me?..."

"That's all--over," she said. "Oh, please go away. I mustn't talk
about that. ...I'm MARRIED. ..."

"Listen," he said, feverishly. "I love you. This fellow you've
married doesn't know what love is. ... What does he know about it?
What would he do for you?..." He leaned forward, his face working,
his body quivering with passion. She let her eyes fall, unable to
support his gaze, and she trembled. His old fascination was upon her;
the glamour of him was drawing her. He poured out a flood of
passionate words, bared his soul to her starkly, as he talked
swiftly, burningly of his love, and what his love meant to him and
what it would mean to her. She closed her eyes to shut out the sight
of him; she summoned all the strength of her will to preserve her
from his fascination, to resist his temptation. ...

"I'd have left you alone," he said, "if you'd got what you paid for.
...But when you didn't--when you got nothing--there was no reason for
me to stay away. ... You belonged to me. You do belong to me. ... Why
should you stick to him? Why?"

She could not answer him. The only reason she should cling to her
husband was because he WAS her husband, but she knew that would be no
reason to Dulac.

"There's been a marriage ceremony," he said, scornfully. "What of it?
It isn't marriage ceremonies that unite men and women. ... It's love--
nothing else. ... When you told me you loved me you married me more
really than any minister can marry you. That was a real marriage--but
you didn't think you were breaking any laws or violating any morals
when you left me and married HIM. Just because we hadn't gone to a
church. ... You're married to ME and living with him--that's what it
amounts to. ... Now I'm here demanding you. I'm after my wife."

"No..." she said, weakly.

"Yes, my wife. ... I want you back and I'm going to have you back.
... With the bringing up you've had, you're not going to let this
CONVENTION--this word--marriage--hold you. ... You're coming with
me."

The thing was possible. She saw the possibility of it, the danger
that she might yield. The man's power drew her. She WANTED to go; she
WANTED to believe his sophistry, but there was a stanchness of soul
in her that continued to resist.

"No..." she said, again.

"You'll come," he said, "because you can't stand it. I know. ...
Every time he touches you you want to scream. I know. It's torture.
... He'll find out. Don't you think he'll find out you don't love
him--how you feel when he comes near you? And what then?... You'll
come to me willingly now--or you'll come when he pushes you out."

"He'll--not--find out."

Dulac laughed. "Anybody but a young fool would have known before
this. ...But I don't want to wait for that. I want you now." He came
toward her eagerly to take her in his arms. She could not move; her
knees refused to carry her from him. ...Her senses swam. If he
touched her it would be the end--she knew it would be the end. If he
seized her in his arms she would never be able to escape. His will
would master her will. Yet she could not move--she was under his
spell. It was only subconsciously that she wanted to escape. It was
only the true instinct in her that urged her to escape.

His arms were reaching out for her now; in an instant his hands would
touch her; she would be clutched tightly to him--and she would be
lost. ...

Her back was against the wall. ...In that supreme instant, the
instant that stood between her and the thing that might be, the
virtue in her recoiled, the stanchness asserted itself, the command
to choose the better from the worse course made itself heard to her
will. She cried out inarticulately, thrust out with terrified arms,
and pushed him from her.

"Don't touch me," she cried. "What you say is not true. I know.
...I'm his wife--and--you must go. You must--never come back.
...Bonbright is my husband--and I'll--stay with him. ...I'll do what
I've got to do. I sha'n't listen to you. Go--please, oh, please go--
NOW."

The moment had come to Dulac and he had not been swift enough to
grasp it. He realized it, realized he had failed, that nothing he
could do or say would avail him now. ...He backed toward the door,
never removing his eyes from her face.

"You're MY wife," he said. "You won't come now, but you'll come.
...I'll make you come." He stopped a moment in the door, gazing at
her with haggard eyes. ... "And you know it," he said. Then he closed
the door, and she was alone.

She sank to the floor and covered her face with her hands, not to
hide her tears--for there were no tears to flow--but because she was
ashamed and because she was afraid. ...She knew how close she had
been to yielding, how narrow had been the margin of her rescue--and
she was afraid of what might happen next time, of what might happen
when her life with Bonbright became unbearable, as she knew it must
become unbearable.

She crouched and trembled...and then she began to think. It was given
her to perceive what she must do. Instead of fondling Dulac in her
thoughts, she must put him out of her heart, she must not permit him
in her dreams. ...She had promised him he should be always present in
her thoughts. That promise she must break. Daily, hourly, she must
steel herself against him in preparation for his next appearance, for
she knew he would appear again, demanding her. ...It was not in the
man to give her up, as it was not in him to surrender any object
which he had set his soul to attain.

In spite of cults and theories and makeshifts and sophistries, she
knew where her duty lay, where the safety of her soul lay--it was in
fidelity to her husband. She resolved that fidelity should be his,
and as she resolved it she knew that he deserved it of her. She
resolved that she would eject Dulac from her life, and that, with all
the strength of her will, she would try to bring herself to give that
love to Bonbright which she had promised him by implication, but
never by word. She did not know that love cannot be created by an
effort of the will. ...

Before she arose from her pitiful posture she considered many plans,
and discarded them all. There was no plan. It must all be left to the
future. First she believed it was required that she should tell
Bonbright she had married him without love, and beg of him to be
patient and to wait, for she was trying to turn her love to him. But
that, she saw, would not serve. He was being patient now,
wonderfully, unbelievably patient. What more could she ask of him? It
would only wound him, who had suffered such wounds through her. She
could not do that. She could do nothing but wait and hope--and meet
her problems as best she could when they arose. It was not an
encouraging outlook.

Resolve as she would, she could not quiet her fears. Dulac would come
again. He might find her in a weaker moment. Now, instead of one
terror she harbored two. ...




CHAPTER XXII


Bonbright, in his business experience, had been like a man watching a
play in a foreign language, from a box seat--with an interpreter to
translate the dialogue. Now he found himself a member of the cast;
very much a member, with abundant lines and business. In his old
position as heir apparent to Bonbright Foote, Incorporated, he had
been unhappy. Time had hung heavily on his hands. He had not been
allowed to participate in actual affairs except as some automatic
machine or rubber stamp participates. There every effort of his
superiors had been directed to eliminating his individuality and to
molding him to the Bonbright Foote type. He had not been required to
use his brains--indeed, had been forbidden to do so.

In his new employment the condition was reversed. It seemed as if
everything his father had desired him to do was interdicted in
Malcolm Lightener's vast organization; everything that had been taboo
before was required of him now. He was asked to think; he was taught
to make his individuality felt; he was encouraged to suggest and to
exercise his intelligence independently. There were actually
suggestion boxes in every department where the humblest laborer might
deposit a slip of paper telling the boss any notion he had which he
deemed of service to the enterprise. More than that--any suggestion
accepted was paid for according to its value.

In Bonbright's father's plant change and invention were frowned upon.
New devices were regarded as impious. The typewriter was tolerated;
the telephone was regarded with shame. The Ancestors had not made use
of such things. ...Malcolm Lightener let no instrument for adding
efficiency pass untried. It was the same in office and in shop. The
plant was modern to the second--indeed, it was a stride ahead of the
minute. There was a large experimental laboratory presided over by an
engineer of inventive trend, whose business it was to eliminate and
combine processes; to produce machines which would enable one man to
perform the labor of three; to perform at one process and one
handling the work that before required several processes and the
passing of the thing worked upon from hand to hand.

If Bonbright had been interested in any phase of his father's
business it had been in the machine shops. Now he saw how costly were
those antique processes, how wasteful of time and labor. His father's
profits were large; Bonbright saw very quickly how a revolution in
methods would make them enormous. But he knew that revolution would
not take place--the Ancestors forbade. ...

The thing had started at the first moment of his connection with
Malcolm Lightener as an employee. He had reported promptly at seven
o'clock, and found Lightener already in his office. It was
Lightener's custom to come down and to go home later for breakfast.

"Morning," said Lightener. "Where's your overalls?"

"Overalls?" said Bonbright.

"Didn't I tell you to bring some? You'll need 'em. Wait, I'll send a
boy out for some--while we have a talk. ...Now then, you've got a
job. After six o'clock you and I continue on the same basis as
before; between seven in the morning and six at night you're one of
the men who work for me--and that's all. You get no favors. What they
get you get. ...There aren't any soft jobs or hangers-on here.
Everybody earns what he's paid--or he finds he isn't getting paid.
Clear?"

"Perfectly," said Bonbright, not wholly at his ease.

"The object of this plant is to make automobiles--to make GOOD
automobiles, and to make the most of them that can be made. If one
man falls down on his job it delays everybody else. Suppose one man
finishing THIS"--he held up a tiny forging--"does a botch job. ...
There's just one of these to a car, and he's held up the completion
of a car. That means money. ... Suppose the same man manages to turn
out two perfect castings like this in the time it once took to turn
out one. ... Then he's a valuable man, and he hustles up the whole
organization to keep even with him. Every job is important because it
is a part of the whole operation, which is the turning out of a
complete automobile. Understand?"

"Yes."

"Some men are created to remain laborers or mechanics all their
lives. Some are foreordained bookkeepers. A few can handle labor--but
that's the end of them. A very few have executive and organizing and
financial ability. The plums are for them. ... Every man in this
plant has a chance at them. You have. ... On the other hand, you can
keep on earning what you're getting now until you're sixty. It's up
to you. ... I'm giving you a start. That's not sentiment. It's
because you've education and brains--and there's something in
heredity. Your folks have been successful--to a degree and in their
own way. I'm making a bet on you--that's all. I'm taking a chance
that you'll pay back at the box office what you're going to cost for
some months. In other words, instead of your paying for your
education, I'm sending you to school on the chance that you'll
graduate into a man that will make money for me. But you've got to
make good or out you go. Fair?"

"Yes," said Bonbright.

"All right. Remember it. ...You've got the stuff in you to make a man
at the top--maybe. But you don't start at the top. You've got to
scramble up just like anybody else. Right now you're not worth a
darn. You don't know anything and you can't do anything. Day labor's
where you belong--but you couldn't stand it. And it wouldn't be sense
to put you at it, or I would. I'd set you to sweeping out the machine
shops if I thought you needed it. ...Maybe you figured on sitting at
a mahogany desk?"

"I came to do whatever you put me at," Bonbright said. "I've been fed
up on sitting at a mahogany desk."

"Good--if you mean it. I hear a lot of four flush about what men are
willing to do. Heaps of them repeat copybook platitudes. ...You're
going to wear overalls and get your hands dirty. If you don't like it
you can always quit. ...I know how to do darn nearly everything
that's done in this place. The man who gets up near me has got to
know it, too." Here was a hint for Bonbright of the possibilities
that Malcolm Lightener opened up to him. "This morning you're going
into the machine shop to run a lathe, and you're going to stay there
till you KNOW how it's done. Then we'll move you some place else.
Your place is in the office. But how soon you get there, or whether
you ever get there, is up to you. Like the looks of it?"

Bonbright was silent a moment. When he spoke it was not in reply to
Lightener's question, but to put into words a fear that had become
apparent.

"The men," he said; "how about them?...You know, father sort of
advertised me as a strike breaker and that kind of thing. Our men
hate me. I suppose all laboring men feel that way about me."

"We don't have any unions here. I run my own plant, and, by gracious!
I always will. I give my men fair pay--better than most. I give them
all the opportunity they ask for. I give them the best and safest
conditions to work in that can be had. I figure a good crew in a
plant is a heap more valuable than good machinery--and I keep my
machinery in repair and look after it mighty careful. But no union
nonsense. ... You won't have any trouble with the men."

Bonbright was not so sure. ... Presently the boy returned with the
overalls. Lightener wrote a note and handed it to the boy. "Take this
man to Shop One and give this note to Maguire," he said; then he
turned to Bonbright and jerked his thumb toward the door. Bonbright
got up without a word and followed the boy.

In a moment the boy opened a big door, and Bonbright stepped through.
The sight took away his breath--not that he had never seen this room
before, but that he was now seeing it through other eyes, not merely
as a spectator, but as a participant. It seemed to him as if the
dimensions of the room should be measured not in feet, but in acres.
It was enormous, but huge as it was it was all too small for the
tangle of machinery it contained. To Bonbright's eyes it seemed a
tangle. A labyrinth of shafting, countershafting, hung from the high
ceiling, from whose whirring pulleys belts descended to rows upon
rows of machines below. It looked like some strange sort of lunar
forest, or some species of monstrous, magic banyan tree. Here were
machines of a hundred uses and shapes, singly, in batteries--a
scrambled mass it seemed. There were small machines--and in the
distance huge presses, massive, their very outlines speaking of
gigantic power. Bonbright had seen sheets of metal fed into them, to
be spewed out at another point bent and molded to a desired form.
Overhead conveyers increased the scrambled appearance. Men with
trucks, men on hurried errands, hurried here and there; other men
stood silently feeding hungry contrivances--men were everywhere,
engrossed in their work, paving scant attention to anything outside
their task. And rushing up to Bonbright was a wave of composite
sounds, a roar, a bellow, a shriek, a rattle, a whir, a grind. ... It
seemed the ultimate possibility of confusion.

But as he walked down the aisle, dodging from time to time men or
trucks that regarded him not at all, but depended on him to clear the
way and to look out for himself, he was able to perceive something of
the miraculous orderliness and system of it. He was given a hint of
the plan--how a certain process would start--a bit of rough metal;
how it would undergo its first process and move on by gradual steps
from one machine to the next, to the next, in orderly, systematic
way. No time was lost in carrying a thing hither and thither. When
one man was through with it, the next man was at that exact point, to
take it and contribute his bit to its transformation. ... Something
very like a thrill of pride passed over Bonbright. He was a part of
this marvel. ...

Through this room they walked--the room would have sufficed in extent
for a good-sized farm--and into another, not smaller, and into
another and another. His destination, Shop One, was smaller, but huge
enough. The boy led Bonbright to a short, fat man. in unbelievably
grimy overalls and black, visored cap.

"Mr. Maguire," he shouted, "here's a man and a note from the boss."
Then he scurried away.

Maguire looked at the note first, and shoved it into his pocket; then
he squinted at Bonbright--at his face first; then, with a quizzical
glint, at his clothes. Bonbright flushed. For the first time in his
life he was ashamed of his clothes, and for a reason that causes few
men to be ashamed of their clothes. He wished they were of cheaper
cloth, of less expensive tailoring. He wished, most of all, that the
bright new overalls in the bundle under his arm were concealing them
from view.

"You're a hell of a looking machinist," said Maguire.

Bonbright felt it to be a remarkably true saying.

"The boss takes this for a darn kindergarten," Maguire complained.
"Ever run a lathe or a shaper or a planer?"

"No."

"He said to stick you on a lathe. ... Huh! What's he know about
it?... How's he expect this room to make a showing if it's goin' to
be charged with guys like you that hain't nothin' but an expense?"

Bonbright got the idea back of that. Maguire was personally
interested in results; Maguire wanted his room to beat other rooms in
the weekly reports; Maguire was working for something more than
wages--he was playing the game of manufacturing to win.

"You go on a planer," Maguire snapped, "and Gawd help you if you
spoil more castings than I figger you ought to. ... The boys here'll
make it hot for you if you pull down their average."

So the boys were interested, too. The thing extended downward from
the bosses!

"Goin' to work in them clothes?" asked Maguire, with a grin.

"Overalls," said Bonbright, tapping his parcel.

Maguire went to his desk and took a key from a box. "I'll show you
your locker," he said; and presently Bonbright, minus his coat, was
incased in the uniform of a laborer. Spick and span and new it was,
and gave him a singularly uncomfortable feeling because of this fact.
He wanted it grimed and daubed like the overalls of the men he saw
about him. A boyish impulse to smear it moved him--but he was ashamed
to do it openly.

Maguire led him to a big contrivance which was called a shaper. A boy
of eighteen was operating it. On its bed, which moved back and forth
automatically, was bolted a great cake of iron--a casting in the
rough. The machine was smoothing its surfaces.

"Show him," Maguire said to the boy, "then report to me."

The boy showed Bonbright efficiently--telling him what must be done
to that iron cake, explaining how the machine was to be stopped and
started, and other necessary technical matters. Then he hurried off.
Bonbright gazed at the casting ruefully, afflicted with stage fright.
... He was actually about to perform real labor--a labor requiring a
certain measure of intellect. He was afraid he would make a mistake,
would do something wrong, and possibly spoil the casting. He started
the planer gingerly. It had not seemed to move rapidly when the boy
was operating it, but now the bed seemed fairly to fly forward and
snap back. He bent forward to look at the cutting he had made; it was
right. So far he was all right. ... Surreptitiously he laid his palm
in a mass of grease and metal particles and wiped it across his
breast. ... It was an operation which he repeated more than once that
morning.

Gradually his trepidation passed and he began to enjoy himself. He
enjoyed watching that casting move resistlessly under the tool;
watched the metal curl up in glittering little curlicues as the tool
ate its way across. He looked with pleasure at the surface already
planed and with anticipation of the surface still in the rough. ...
It was interesting; it was fun. He wondered vaguely if all men who
worked at tasks of this kind found pleasure in them, not appreciating
that years of doing the same thing over and over might make it
frightfully monotonous. The truth was the thing had not yet become
work to him. It was a new experience, and all new experiences bring
their thrill.

Until the noon whistle blew he hardly took his eyes off his work. He
did not know that Maguire passed him a dozen times, not stopping, but
watching him closely as he passed. ... With the stopping of work
about him he realized that he was tired. He had lifted weights; he
had used unaccustomed muscles. He was hot, sweaty, aching. He was
hungry.

"Where do we eat?" he asked the man who stood at the next machine.

"Didn't you bring no lunch?"

"No."

"Some doesn't," said the man, as if he disapproved exceedingly of
that class. "They feed at the hash house across the street. ...
Hain't broke, be you?"

Bonbright understood the kindly offer implied. "Thank you--no," he
said, and followed to the big wash room.

He ate his lunch from the top of a tall stool. It was not the sort of
food he was accustomed to, and the coffee was far from being the sort
that had been served to him in his home or in his club--but he hardly
noticed it. When he was through he walked back across the street and
stood awkwardly among his mates. He knew none of them.

An oldish, smallish man looked at him and at his overalls, and
grinned.

"New man?" he asked.

"Yes."

"Thought them overalls wasn't long off the shelf. You done a good
job, though, considerin'."

Bonbright blushed.

"Where you been workin'?"

How was Bonbright to answer? He couldn't tell the truth without
shaming himself in this man's eyes, and all at once he found he
greatly desired the good opinion of this workingman and of the other
workingmen about him.

"I--The last place I worked was Bonbright Foote, Incorporated," he
said, giving his father's institution its full name.

"Urn. ... Strikin', eh?"

Bonbright nodded. He had struck. Not with a union, but as an
individual.

"'Bout over, hain't it, from all I hear tell?"

"I think so," said Bonbright.

"Bad business. ... Strikes is always bad--especially if the men git
licked. Unions hain't no business to call strikes without some show
of winnin'.. ... The boys talk that this strike never had no chance
from the beginnin'. ... I don't think a heap of that Foote outfit."

"Why?"

"Rotten place to work, I hear. A good machinist can't take no
pleasure there, what with one thing and another. Out-of-date
machines, and what not. ... That young Foote, the cub, is a hell
winder, they say. Ever see him?"

"I've seen him."

"His father was bad enough, by all accounts. But this kid goes him
one better. Wonder some of them strikers didn't git excited and make
him acquainted with a brick. I've heard of fightin' strikes hard--but
never nothin' like this one. Seems like this kid's a hard one. Wants
to smash hell out of the men just to see them smash. ... How'd he
strike you?"

"I was sorry for him," said Bonbright, simply.

"Sorry?... What's the idea?"

"I--I don't believe he did what people believe. He didn't really have
anything to do with the business, you know. He didn't count. ... All
the things that he was said to do--he didn't do at all. His father
did them and let the men think it was his son."

"Sounds fishy--but if it's so somebody ought to lambaste the old man.
He sure got his son in bad. ... What's this I hear about him
marryin' some girl and gettin' kicked out?"

"That's true," said Bonbright.

"Huh!... Wonder what he'll do without his pa. Them kind hain't much
good, I notice. ... Maybe he's well fixed himself, though."

"He hasn't a cent," said Bonbright.

"Appears like you know a heap about him. ... Maybe you know what he's
doin' now?"

"Working."

"Friends give him a soft job?"

"He's working in a--machine shop," said Bonbright.

"G'wan," said the man, incredulously. Then he looked sharply at
Bonbright, at his new overalls, back again at his face.

"What's your name?" he asked, suspiciously.

"Foote," said Bonbright.

"HIM?"

"Yes," said Bonbright.

The man paused before he spoke, and there was something not kindly
that came into his eyes. "Speakin' perty well of yourself, wasn't
you?" he said, caustically, and, turning his back, he walked away.
... That action cut Bonbright more deeply than any of the few
affronts that had been put upon him in his life had cut. He wanted to
call the man back and demand that he listen to the truth. He wanted
to explain, to set himself right. He wanted that man and all men to
know he was not the Bonbright Foote who had brought on the strike and
fought it with such vindictive ruthlessness. He wanted to prove that
he was innocent, and to wring from them the right to meet and to be
received by his fellow laborers as one of themselves. ...

He saw the man stop beside a group, say something, turn, and point to
him. Other men turned and stared. Some snickered. Bonbright could not
bear it. He jostled his way through the crowd and sought refuge in
the shop.

The morning had been a happy one; the afternoon was dismal. He knew
he was marked. He saw men pointing at him, whispering about him, and
could imagine what they were saying. In the morning he had been
received casually as an equal. Nobody had welcomed him, nobody had
paid particular attention to him. That was as it should be. He was
simply accepted as another workman. ... The attitude of the men was
quite the opposite now. He was a sort of museum freak to them. From a
distance they regarded him with curiosity, but their manner set him
apart from them. He did not belong. He felt their hostility. ... If
they had lined up and jeered him Bonbright would not have felt the
hurt so much, for there would have been something to arouse his
fighting spirit.

One remark he overheard, which stood aptly for the attitude of all.
"Well, he's gettin' what's comin' to him," was the sentence. It
showed him that the reputation his father had given him was his to
wear, and that here he would find no friends, scant toleration,
probably open hostility. ... He got no pleasure that afternoon from
watching his cake of metal move backward and forward with the planer-
bed.

When the whistle blew again he hurried out, looking into no man's
face, avoiding contacts. He sneaked away. ... And in his heart burned
a hot resentment against the father that had done this thing. ...




CHAPTER XXIII


Such pretense as Bonbright's and Ruth's is possible only to the
morbid, the eccentric, or the unhealthy. Neither of them was morbid,
neither eccentric, both abundantly well. Ruth saw the failure of it
days before Bonbright had even a hint. After Dulac burst in upon her
she perceived the game must be brought to an end; that their life of
make-believe was weighted with danger for her. She determined to end
it--but, ironically enough, to end it meant to enter upon another
make-believe existence far harder to live successfully than the
first. One can make believe to love on the stage, uttering skillfully
the words of an author and carrying out the instructions of a stage
director. An audience may be taken in. ... A play is brief. But to
begin a spurious love scene which is to last, not twenty minutes, but
for a lifetime, is a matter of quite different color. She determined
to begin it. ...

But with the sound of Bonbright's footfall on the stairs her
resolution vanished. "To-morrow," she whispered to herself, with
sudden dread. "To-morrow. ..." And so she put it off from day to day.

In the beginning Bonbright had been optimistic. He had seen her
reluctance, her reserves, vanishing in a few days. But they did not
vanish. He found himself no nearer his wife than he had been at the
beginning. Optimism became hope, hope dwindled, became doubt, uneasy
wonder. He could not understand, and it was natural he should not
understand. At first he had believed his experience was the
experience of all bridegrooms. Days taught him his experience was
unique, unnatural. Ruth saw him often now, sitting moodily, eyes on
the floor--and she could read his thoughts. Yet he tried to bolster
up the pretense. He had given his promise, and he loved Ruth. He
could not, would not do as most men would have done. ... What neither
of them saw was that pretense had made a sudden change to reality
impossible. ...

Bonbright was unhappy at home, unhappy at work. Just as he was
outside his wife's real life, so he was excluded from the lives of
the men he worked with. He was not, to them, a fellow laborer; he was
Bonbright Foote VII. But he made no complaint or appeal to Malcolm
Lightener. ... He did not know how unnecessary an appeal to Lightener
would be, for Lightener kept himself well acquainted with the facts,
watched and waited, and the satisfaction of the automobile king grew
and increased.

"He's no squealer," he said to his daughter. "He's taking his
medicine without making a face."

"What's the good, dad? It's mean. ... Why don't you take him into the
office?"

"We have a testing department," he said. "Every scrap of metal that
goes into a car is tested before we use it. ... Bonbright's in the
testing department."

"Isn't it possible to keep on testing a piece of metal till it's all
used up?" she said.

"H'm!... Suppose you mind your own business," he said, in his gruff,
granite way--not rudely nor offensively. "How's his wife? How are
they getting along?"

Hilda shook her head. "They're queer, dad. Somehow I don't believe
things are working out the way they should. I can't understand HER."

"Squabbling?"

"Never. ... Bonbright's so gentle with her. He has a sort of wistful
way with him as soon as she comes near. It makes me want to cry.
Somehow he reminds me of a fine, affectionate dog watching a master
who doesn't give back any affection. You know."

"Doesn't she?"

"Give back affection?... That's just it. I don't know. I've been
there and seen him come home. She acts queerly. As soon as she hears
him coming up the stairs she seems to shut up. It's as if she turned
out the lights. ... Where the ordinary girl would be running to kiss
him and make a fuss over him she--doesn't do anything. ... And she
keeps watching him. And there's something in her eyes like--well,
like she was blaming herself for something, and was sorry for him.
... She seems, when she's with him, as if she were trying to make up
to him for something--and didn't know how."

"Readjustment," Lightener grunted. "They jumped into the thing
kerplunk. Queer start-off."

"I don't know. ... She's a dear--and he's a dear. ... It isn't like
anything I've ever seen. It's something peculiar."

"Must be his fault. I told him--"

"It isn't his fault." Hilda spoke with certainty. "If you could see
him you'd know it. His manner toward her--why, dad, I never saw a man
so sweet and gentle and patient."

"Maybe that's the trouble. Too much patience is as bad as too much
raising the devil."

"No. ... It's something."

She turned to leave the room, when her father called after her:
"Bonbright quit chawing castings to-night. He doesn't know it, but
to-morrow he gets a new job. ... Has all of that he needs. Knows how
it feels."

"What's he going to do now?"

"Nice, light, pleasant job. ... He'll be passing rear axles--made by
his father--down a chute to the assembling track. Bet he'll need
Saint Jacob's oil on his back to-morrow night. Give his wife a job."

"Why," she scolded, for she was on intimate terms with the factory,
"that's common labor. He'll be working with Wops and Guineas and
Polacks."

He nodded. "If he stands the gaff I'll ease up on him."

"If he doesn't?"

Lightener shrugged his shoulders.

"Dad," said Hilda, "sometimes you make me MAD. ..."

When the factory heard what had become of Bonbright it laughed.
Bonbright was aware it laughed, and he set his teeth and labored.
Beside what he was doing now the machine shop had been play. Rear
axles are not straws to be tossed about lightly. Nor are Wops,
Guineas, Polacks, smelling of garlic, looking at one with
unintelligent eyes, and clattering to one another in strange tongues,
such workfellows as make the day pass more quickly. ...

Bonbright had to pass down a certain number of axles an hour. At
definite, brief intervals a fragment of an automobile would move
along the assembling track and pause beneath his spout--and his axle
must be ready. There was a constant procession of fragments, and a
second's delay brought up to his ears pointed commentary from below.
... The more pointed that those below knew who was above them.

He worked feverishly. After a while it became acute torture. He felt
as if every axle he handled was the last he could manage--but he
forced himself to just one more and then just one more--and another.
He worked in a daze. Thought-processes seemed to stop. He was just a
mechanism for performing certain set acts. The pain was gone--
everything was gone but the stabbing necessity for getting another
axle on that chute in time. He wanted to stop at a certain stage, but
there was something in him which would not allow it. After that he
didn't care. "Another. ... Another. ... Another..." his brain sang
over and over endlessly. He was wet with perspiration; he staggered
under the weights; he was exhausted, but he could not stop. It was as
if he were on a treadmill where he had to keep stepping on and on and
on whether he could take another step or not. ... After a century the
noon whistle blew.

Bonbright did not leave his place. He simply sagged down in his
tracks and lay there, eyes shut, panting. Gradually his brain
cleared, but he was too weary to move. Then thirst drove him to
motion and he dragged himself to the wash room, cramped, aching, and
there he drank and sopped himself with cold water. ... So this was
what men did to live! No wonder men were dissatisfied; no wonder men
formed unions and struck and rioted!... Bonbright was getting in an
efficient school the point of view of the laborer.

In the afternoon Malcolm Lightener stood and watched Bonbright,
though Bonbright did not see, for he was working in a red haze again,
unconscious of everything but that insistent demand in his brain for
"another. ... Another. ... Another. ..." Lightener watched, granite
face expressionless, and then walked away.

Bonbright did not hear the evening whistle. He placed another axle on
the chute, but no one was below to take it. He wondered dimly what
was the matter. ... A Guinea from the next chute regarded him
curiously, then walked over and touched his shoulder with dirty hand,
and wafted garlic in his face. "Time for quit," said the man.

Bonbright sat down where he was. It was over. That day was over. Not
another axle, not another, not another. He laid his head against the
chute and shut his eyes. ... Presently he staggered to his feet and
walked blindly to the stairway. At the bottom stood Malcolm
Lightener, not there by accident, but with design to test Bonbright's
metal to the utmost. He placed himself there for Bonbright to see, to
give Bonbright opportunity to beg off, to SQUEAL.

Bonbright, shoulders drooping, legs dragging, face drawn, eyes
burning, would have passed him without recognition, without caring
who it was he passed, but that did not suit Lightener's purpose.

"Well, Bonbright?" he said.

Sudden fire flashed in Bonbright's brain. He stopped, and with the
knuckles of a hand that was torn and blistered and trembling, he
knocked on Lightener's broad chest as he would have knocked on a door
that refused to open. "Damn your axles," he said, thickly. "I can get
them there--another--and another--and another--and another. ...
They're too slow below. ... Make 'em come faster. I can keep up. ..."
And all the time he was rapping on Lightener's chest.

He was conscious of what he did and said, but he did not do and say
it of his own volition. He was like a man who dimly sees and hears
another man. Subconsciously he was repeating: "Not another one till
to-morrow. ... Not another one till to-morrow. ..."

Abruptly he turned away from Lightener and, setting down each foot
heavily with a clump, he plodded toward the wash room. He was going
to rest. He was going to feel cool water on his head and his neck; he
was going to revel in cool water... and then he would sleep. SLEEP!
He made toward sleep as one lost in the desert would make toward a
spring of sweet water. ...

Lightener stood and looked after Bonbright. His granite face did not
alter; no light or shade passed over it. Not even in his gray eyes
could a hint of his thoughts be read. Simply he stood and looked
after Bonbright, outwardly as emotionless as a block of the rock that
he resembled. Then he walked to his office, sat down at his desk,
selected and lighted a cigar, and tilted back in his chair.

"There's something to that Bonbright Foote formula," he said to
himself. "It's all wrong, but it could produce THAT."

Then, after a few moments of puffing and of studying the thing, he
said: "We'll see if he comes back to-morrow. ... If he DOES come
back--"

At home that evening Hilda asked him about Bonbright. He was ashamed
to confess to her what he had done to the boy--yet he was proud of
having done it. To his own granite soul it was right to subject men
to such tests, but women would not understand. He knew his daughter
would think him a brute, and he did not want his daughter to think
any such thing. "If he comes back in the morning--" he promised.

Bonbright came back in the morning, though he had been hardly able to
drag himself out of bed. It was not strength of body that brought
him, but pure will. He came, looking forward to the day as a man
might look down into hell-but he came. "I'll show THEM," he said,
aloud, at the breakfast table, as he forced himself to drink a cup of
coffee. Ruth did not understand. She did not understand what was
wrong with him; feared he was on the verge of an illness. He had come
home the night before, scarcely speaking to her, and had gone
directly to bed. She supposed he was in his room preparing for
dinner, but when she went to call him she found him fast asleep,
moaning and muttering uneasily.

"What did you say?" she asked, uneasily.

"Didn't know I spoke," he said, and winced as he moved his shoulders.
But he knew what he had said---that he would show THEM. It wasn't
Malcolm Lightener he was going to show, but the men--his fellow
laborers. The thing that lay in his mind was that he must prove
himself to be their equal, capable of doing what they could do. He
wanted their respect--wanted it pitifully.

Ruth watched him anxiously as he left the apartment. She knew things
were not well with him and that he needed something a true wife
should give. First, he needed to tell some one about it. He had not
told he If ah had been inside his life, where she belonged, he must
have told her. Second, he needed her sympathy, her mothering. ... She
might have been able to give him that--after a fashion. ... She felt
how it should be done, knew how she would have done it if only she
loved him. "I could be the right kind of a wife," she said,
wistfully. "I know I could. ..."

Bonbright went doggedly to his place at the mouth of the chute and
was ready with the whistle, an axle poised to slide downward to the
assembling car below. He was afraid--afraid he would not be able to
get through the day--absurdly afraid and ashamed of his physical
weakness. If he should play out!...

A boy tapped him on the shoulder. "You're wanted in the office," he
heard.

"I've got to--keep up," he said, dully. "Cars are coming along
below," he explained, carefully, "and I've got to get the axles to
them."

"Here's a man to take your place," said the boy--and so strange is
man created in God's image!--he did not want to go. He wanted to see
it through till he dropped.

"If you keep the boss waiting--" said the boy, ominously.

Bonbright walked painfully to Lightener's office.

"Well?" said Lightener.

"I can do it--I'll harden to it," Bonbright said.

"Huh!... Take off those overalls. ... Boy, go to Mr. Foote's locker
and fetch his things. ..."

"Am--am I discharged?"

"No," said Lightener, bestowing no word of commendation. Men had
little commendation from him by word of mouth. He let actions speak
for him. When he gave a man a task to perform that man knew he was
being complimented. ... But he knew it in no other way.

"That's the way a laborer feels," said Lightener. ... "You got it
multiplied. That's because you had to jam his whole life's experience
into a day. ..."

"Poor devils!" said Bonbright.

"I'm going to put you in the purchasing department--after that, if
you make good--into the sales end. ... Able to go ahead to-day?"

"Yes."

"Before you amount to a darn as a business man you've got to know how
to buy. ... That's the foundation. You've got to be able to buy
right. Then you've got to learn how to make. Selling is easiest of
all--and there are darn few real salesmen. If you can buy, you can do
anything."

"I--I would rather stay out of the shops, Mr. Lightener. The men--
found out who I was...I'd like to stay there till they--forget it."

"You'll go where I put you. Men enough in the purchasing department.
Got a tame anarchist there, I hear, and a Mormon, and a Hindu, and a
single-taxer. All kinds. After hours. From whistle to whistle they
BUY."

Lightener took Bonbright personally to his new employment and left
him. But Bonbright was not satisfied. Once before he had sought
contact with men who labored, and he had landed in a cell in police
headquarters. That had been mere boyish curiosity to find what it was
all about. Now his desire to know was real. He had been--very
briefly, it is true--one of them. Now he wanted to know. He wanted to
know how they thought, and why they thought that way. He wanted to
understand their attitude toward themselves, toward one another,
toward the class they largely denominated as Capital. He had caught
snatches of conversation--interesting to him, but none had talked to
him. He wanted to get on a footing with them which would permit him
to listen, and to talk. He wanted to hear arguments. He wanted to go
into their homes and see their wives and find out what their wives
thought. ... All this had been brought to him by a few days in
overalls. He had no idea that Lightener had intended it should be
brought to him. ...

However, that must lie in the future; his present business was to do
as he was told and to earn his wages. He must earn his wages, for he
had a family to support. ... It was his first experience with the
ever-present fear of the wage earner--the fear of losing his job.

But he determined to know the men, and planned accordingly. With that
end in view, instead of lunching with men in his department, he went
to the little hash house across the road to drink vile coffee and rub
elbows with laborers in greasy overalls. He would go there every day;
he would seek other opportunities of contact. ... Now that he felt
the genuine, sympathetic hunger for an understanding of them and
their problems, he would not rest until it was his. ...




CHAPTER XXIV


Bonbright found himself a layman in a department of specialists. On
all sides of him were men who knew all about something, a few who
knew a great deal about several things, and a man or two who appeared
to have some knowledge of every element and article that went into a
motor car. There was a man who knew leather from cow to upholstery,
and who talked about it lovingly. This man had the ability to make
leather as interesting as the art of Benvenuto Cellini. Another was a
specialist in hickory, and thought and talked spokes; another was a
reservoir of dependable facts about rubber; another about gray iron
castings; another about paints and enamels, and so on. In that
department it would not have been impossible to compile an
encyclopedia.

It was impossible that Bonbright should not have been interested. It
was not business, it was a fascinating, enthralling debating society,
where the debates were not of the "Resolved that the world would be
better" sort, but were as to the essential qualities of concrete
things. It was practical debate which saved money and elevated the
standards of excellence.

The department had its own laboratories, its own chemists, its own
engineers. Everything was tested. Two articles might appear to the
layman equal in virtue; careful examination by experts might not
disclose a difference between them, but the skill of the chemist
would show that this article was a tenth of one per cent, less guilty
of alloy than that, or that the breaking strength of this was a
minute fraction greater than that. ... So decisions were reached.

Bonbright was to learn that price did not always rule. He saw orders
given for carloads of certain supplies which tested but a point or
two higher than its rival--and sold for dollars more a ton. Thousands
of dollars were paid cheerfully for those few points of excellence.
... Here was business functioning as he did not know business could
function. Here business was an art, and he applied himself to it like
an artist. Here he could lay aside that growing discontent, that
dissatisfaction, that was growing upon him. Here, in the excitement
of distinguishing the better from the worse, he could forget Ruth and
the increasingly impracticable condition of his relations with her.

He had come to a realization that his game of make-believe would not
march. He realized that Ruth either was his wife or she was not. ...
But he did not know what to do about it. It seemed a problem without
a solution, and it was--for him. Its solution did not lie in himself,
but in his wife. Bonbright could not set the thing right; his
potentiality lay only for its destruction. Three courses lay open to
him; to assert his husbandship; to send Ruth home to her mother; or
to put off till to-morrow and to-morrow and still another to-morrow.
Only in the last did hope reside, and he clung to hope. ...

He tried to conceal his unrest, his discontent, his rebellion against
the thing that was, from Ruth. He continued to be patient, gentle.
... He did not know how she wept and accused herself because of that
gentleness and patience. He did not know how she tried to compel love
by impact of will--and how she failed. But he did come to doubt her
love. He could not do otherwise. Then he wondered why she had married
him, and, reviewing the facts of his hurried marriage, he wondered
the more with bitterness and heartache. Against his will his affairs
were traveling toward a climax. The approaching footsteps of the day
when something must happen were audible on the path.

The day after his installation in the purchasing department he
lunched at the little hash house across the street. Sitting on his
high stool, he tried to imagine he was a part of that sweating,
gulping crowd of men, that he was one of them, and not an outsider,
suspected, regarded with unfriendly looks.

Behind him a man began to make conversation for Bonbright's ears. It
had happened before.

"The strike up to the Foote plant's on its last legs," said the man,
loudly.

"So I hear," answered another.

"Infernal shame. If it was only the closed-shop question I dunno's
I'd feel so. We're open shop here--but we git treated like human
bein's. ... Over there--" The man shrugged his shoulders. "Look at
the way they've fought the strike. Don't blame 'em for fightin' it.
Calc'late they had to fight it, but there's fightin' and fightin'.
... Seems like this Foote bunch set out to do the worst that could be
done--and they done it."

"Wonder when it 'll peter out--the strike?"

"Back's busted now. Nothin's holding it up but that man Dulac.
There's a man for you! I've knowed labor leaders I didn't cotton to
nor have much confidence in---fellers that jest wagged their tongues
and took what they could get out of it. But this Dulac--he's a
reg'lar man. I've listened to him, and I tell you he means what he
says. He's in it to git somethin' for the other feller. ... But he
can't hold out much longer."

It was true; Dulac could not hold out much longer. That very noon he
was fighting with his back against the wall. In Workingman's Hall he
was making his last fierce fight to hold from crumbling the
resolution of the strikers who still stood by their guns. ... He
threw the fire of his soul into their dull, phlegmatic faces. It
struck no answering spark. Never before had he spoken to men without
a consciousness of his powers, without pose, without dramatics. Now
he was himself, and more dramatic, more compelling than ever before.
... He pleaded, begged, flayed his audience, but it did not respond
to his pleadings nor writhe under the whip of his words. It was
apathetic, stolid. In its weary heart it knew what it was there to
do, and it would do it in spite of Dulac. ... He would not admit it.
He would not submit to defeat. He talked on and on, not daring to
stop, for with the stoppage of his harangue he heard the death of the
strike. It lived only with his voice.

In the body of the hall a man, haggard of face, arose.

"'Tain't no use, Mr. Dulac," he said, dully. "We've stuck by you--"

"You've stuck by yourselves," Dulac cried.

"Whatever you say. ... But'tain't no use. We're licked. Hain't no use
keepin' up and stretchin' out the sufferin'. ... I hain't the least
of the sufferers, Mr. Dulac--my wife hain't with me no more." The
dull voice wabbled queerly. "There's hunger and grief and sufferin'--
willin'ly endured when there was a chance--but there hain't no
chance. ... 'Tain't human to ask any more of our wirnmin and
children. ... It's them I'm a-thinkin' of, Mr. Dulac... and on
account of them I say this strike ought to quit. It's got to quit,
and I demand a vote on it, Mr. Dulac."

"Vote!... Vote!... Vote!..." roared up to Dulac from all over the
hall. ... It was the end. He was powerless to stay the rush of the
desire of those weary men for peace.

Dulac turned slowly around, his back to the crowd, walked to a chair,
and, with elbows on knees, he covered his face with his hands. There
was a silence, as men looked at him and appreciated his suffering.
They appreciated his suffering because they appreciated the man, his
honesty to their cause, and to his work. He had been true to them.
For himself he would gain nothing by the success of the strike--for
them he would have gained much. ... It was not his loss that bowed
his head, but their loss--and they knew it. He was a Messiah whose
mission had failed.

The vote was put. There was no dissenting voice. The strike was done,
and Bonbright Foote, Incorporated, was victor.

Men clustered about Dulac, wringing his hands, speaking words of
comfort with voices that broke, and the number of those who turned
away with tears was greater than of those whose eyes could remain
dry.

Dulac spoke. "We'll try again-men. ... We'll start to get ready--to-
day--for another--fight."

Then, hurriedly, blindly, he forced his way through them and made his
way out of the hall. Grief, the heaviness of defeat, was all that he
could feel now. Bitterness would come in its time.

Dulac was a soul without restraints, a soul in eternal uproar. His
life had been one constant kicking against the pricks, and when they
hurt his feet he was not schooled to stifle the cry of pain. He could
not endure patiently and in silence; the tumult of his suffering must
have an outlet.

Now was the time for an overwrought, overtired man, clothed in no
restraint, to try what surcease was to be found in the bottom of a
glass. But Dulac was not a drinking man. So he walked. As he walked
bitterness awoke, and he cursed under his breath. Bitterness
increased until it was rage, and, as man is so constituted that rage
must have a definite object, Dulac unconsciously sought a man who
would symbolize all the forces that had defeated him--and he chose
Bonbright Foote. He chose Bonbright the more readily because he hated
the boy for personal reasons. If Dulae and Bonbright had met at this
moment there would have happened events which would have delighted
the yellower press. But they did not meet. Bonbright was safe in
Lightener's purchasing department, learning certain facts about brass
castings.

So Dulac walked and walked, and lashed himself into rage. Rage abated
and became biting disappointment and unspeakable heaviness of heart.
Again rage would be conjured up only to ebb again and to flood again
as the hours went by.

There is an instinct in man which, when his troubles become too
weighty to bear alone, sends him to a woman. Perhaps this is the
survival of an idea implanted in childhood when baby runs to mother
for sure comfort with broken doll or bruised thumb. It persists and
never dies, so that one great duty, one great privilege, one great
burden of womankind is to give ear to man's outpourings of his woes,
and to offer such comfort as she may. ...

Dulac was drawn to Ruth.

This time she did not try to close the door against him. His first
words made that impossible.

"I'm--beaten," he said, dully.

His flamboyance, his threatricality, was gone. He was no longer
flashily masterful, no longer exotically fascinating. He sagged. ...
He was just a soul-weary, disappointed man, looking at her out of
hollow, burning eyes. He had spent himself magnificently into
bankruptcy. His face was the face of a man who must rest, who must
find peace. ... Yet he was not consciously seeking rest or peace. He
was seeking her. ... Seeking her because he craved her, and seeking
her to strike at her husband, who had become a symbol of all the
antagonists he had been fighting.

His appearance disarmed her; her fear of him and herself was lured
away by the appearance of him. She felt nothing but sympathy and
tenderness and something of wonder that he--Dulac the magnificent--
should be brought to this pass. So she admitted him, regardless even
of the lateness of the afternoon hour.

He followed her heavily and sank into a chair.

"You're sick," she said, anxiously.

He shook his head. "I'm--beaten," he repeated, and in truth beaten
was what he looked, beaten and crushed. ... "But I'll--try again," he
said, with a trace of the old gleam in his eyes.

She clasped and unclasped her hands, standing before him, white with
the emotions that swayed her. ... Here was the man she loved in his
bitterest, darkest moment--and she was barred away from him by
unwelcome barriers. She could not soothe him, she could not lighten
his suffering with the tale of her love for him, but she must remain
mute, holding out no hand to ease his pain.

"I came for you," he said, dully.

"No," she said.

"Ruth--I need you--now. ..." This man, who had wooed her boldly, had
demanded her masterfully, now was brought to pleading. He needed her.
It was plain that he did need her, and, realizing it, she saw the
danger of it. It was a new, a subtle attack, and it had taken her
unawares.

"I can't. ... I can't. ... I mustn't..." she said, breathlessly.

"I must have you," he said, with dead simplicity, as one states a
bare, essential fact. Then Bonbright was visualized before him, and
rage flooded once more. "He sha'n't keep you!... You're mine--you
were mine first. ... What is he to you? I'm going to take you away
from him. ... I can do THAT. ..."

He was less dangerous so. Perhaps instinct told him, for his passion
stilled itself, and he became tired, pitiful again.

"We've got a right to be happy," he said, in his tired voice. "You're
not happy--and I'm--beaten. ... I want you--I need you. ... You'll
come with me. You've got to come with me."

She was moved, swayed. He needed her. ... She had cheated Bonbright
in the beginning. She was not his wife. ... He had none of her love,
and she believed this man had it wholly. ... She had wronged
Bonbright all she could wrong him--what would this matter? It was not
this that was wrong, but the other--the marrying without love. ...
And she, too, was beaten. She had played her game and lost, not going
down to defeat fighting as Dulac had gone down, but futilely,
helplessly. She had given herself for the Cause--to no profit. ...
And her heart yearned for peace, for release.

"I'm his wife," she said, still struggling flutteringly.

"You're MY wife." He lifted his arms toward her, and she swayed, took
a step toward him--a step toward the precipice. Suddenly she stopped,
eyes startled, a deeper pallor blighting her face--for she heard
Bonbright's step on the stairs. ... She had forgotten the lateness of
the hour.

"Oh'." she said.

"What is it?"

"HE is--here."

She was awakened by the shock of it, and saw, saw clearly. She had
stood upon the brink--and HE had come in time. ... And then she was
afraid.

Neither of them spoke. Dulac got to his feet, his breath coming
audibly, and so they waited.

Bonbright opened the door. "Ruth," he called, putting what pretense
of gayety he could into his voice. "You've got company. The chronic
visitor is here." He was playing his game bravely.

She did not answer.

"Ruth," he called again, and then stood in the door. She could not
see him, but she felt his presence, felt his silence, felt the look
of surprise changing to suspicion that she knew must be in his eyes.

For a moment he stood motionless, not comprehending. Then the
attitude of his wife and of Dulac spoke eloquently, and he whitened.

"I don't understand," he said. The words were meaningless, pointless,
perhaps, but they stabbed Ruth to the heart. She turned to him, saw
him step forward slowly, looking very tall, older than she had ever
known him. He had drawn within himself, and there manifested itself
his inheritance from his ancestors. He was like his father, but with
an even more repressed dignity than was his father's.

"You don't understand," snarled Dulac. "Then I'll tell you. I'm glad
you came. ... I'm after your wife. She's going away with me."

"No. ... No..." Ruth whispered.

"Be still. ... She's mine, Foote--and always was. You thought she was
yours--well, she's one thing you can't have. I'm going to tell you
why she married you. ..."

Ruth cried out in incoherent fright, protesting.

"She married you to use you. ... Not even for your money. She married
you because her heart was with the men your kind is grinding down.
... She saw you were the kind of man a woman could twist around her
finger--and you owned five thousand men. ... Get the idea?... She was
going to do things for them--with you. You were nothing but a button
she would push. So she married you--and you cheated her. ... So she's
done with you. You can't give what she paid for, and she's going away
with me. ... She LOVES me. She was promised to marry me--when she saw
what she could do with you--and I let her go. ... If she could give,
so could I. ... But I loved her and she loved me--and we're going
away."

It was true. Bonbright knew it was true, but he would not admit his
belief until he had confirmation from his wife's lips.

"Is this true?" he asked, quietly.

She was shaking with sobs, crouching against the wall.

"Don't be afraid," Bonbright said again, in a strange, quiet,
courteous voice. "Is it true?"

"Yes," she whispered, for she could not lie with his eyes upon her.

"I knew there was--something," he said, with a little halt in his
voice. ... That was all. He did not look at Dulac, but stood looking
at her for a moment steadily, almost with grave inquiry. ... She
looked from him to Dulac. Subconsciously she compared them. ...
Bonbright did not speak again, but turned slowly and walked steadily
out of the room. ... Ruth heard the outer door close behind him and
knew he was gone. ... Gone!

Dulac laughed shortly. "That settled HIM," he said. "Now you'll
come."

She stood regarding him as she might have regarded some strangely
endowed person she had never seen before. Then with a sudden,
passionate vehemence she burst out upon him:

"Never. ... Never. ... I'll never go with you. I'm his wife--his
wife. ... Oh, what have you done?... I hate you--I hate you! Don't
ever dare--come near me again. ... I hate you. ..."

She turned and fled to her room and locked the door. Though he
knocked and called, though he pleaded and threatened, she made no
reply, but sat dry-eyed, on her bed, until she heard him go away
raging. ...




CHAPTER XXV


Hilda Lightener's electric stopped before the apartment house where
Bonbright Foote lived, and Hilda alighted. She ignored bell and
speaking tube and ran upstairs to Bonbright's door, on which she
knocked as a warning. Then she opened the door and called: "It's me.
Anybody home?"

Nobody replied. She called again, and walked into the little living
room where Ruth and Bonbright and Dulac had faced one another an hour
before. ... She called again. This time she heard a sound, muffled,
indistinct, but recognizable as a sob.

"Ruth!" she called, and went to the bedroom door. Now she could hear
Ruth within, sobbing alarmingly.

"Ruth Foote," said Hilda, "what's the matter?... Where's
Bonbright?... I'm coming in."

She opened the door, saw Ruth outstretched on the bed, face buried in
her pillow, sobbing with a queer, startling dryness. It was not the
sob of a woman in an attack of nerves, not the sob of a woman merely
crying to rest herself, nor the sob of a bride who has had a petty
quarrel with her husband. It was different, alarmingly different.
There was despair in it. It told of something seriously awry, of
stark tragedy.

Hilda's years were not many, but her intuition was sure. She did not
demand explanations, did not command Ruth to stop crying and tell
what ailed her, but sat down quietly on the bed and stroked the
sobbing girl's hair, crooning over her softly. "There!... There!..."

Gradually the tenseness, the dry, racking, tearing quality of Ruth's
sobs, softened, ameliorated. Presently she was crying, quietly,
pitifully. ... Hilda breathed with relief. She did not know that for
an hour Ruth had sat on the edge of her bed, still, tearless, staring
blindly before her--her soul drying up and burning within her for
lack of tears. She had been unable to cry. She had uttered no sound
until Hilda's voice came in to her. Then she had thrown herself prone
in that paroxysm of wrenching sobs. ...

"There!... There!..." Hilda crooned.

Ruth's hand crept out fumblingly, found Hilda's dress, and clutched
it. Hilda laid her warm hand over Ruth's cold fingers--and waited.

"He's--gone," Ruth sobbed, presently.

"Never mind, honey. ... Never mind, now."

Ruth mumbled incoherently. After a time she raised herself on her
arms and crouched beside Hilda, who put her arms around her and held
her close, as she would have held a troubled child.

"You'll--despise me," Ruth whispered.

"I guess not." Hilda pressed Ruth's slenderness against her more
robust body reassuringly. "I don't despise folks, as a rule. ... Want
to talk now?"

She saw that the time for speech had come.

"He won't-come back. ... I saw it in his eyes."

"Who won't come back, dear?"

"Bonbright." Ruth drew a shuddering breath. Then haltingly,
whimperingly, sobs interrupting, she talked. She could not tell it
fast enough. It must be told, her mind must be relieved, and the
story, pent up so long within her, rushed forth in a flood of
despairing, self-accusing words. It came in snatches, fragments, as
high lights of suffering flashed upon her mind. She did not start at
the beginning logically and carry through--but the thing as a whole
was there. Hilda had only to sort it and reassemble it to get the
pitiful tale complete.

"You--you don't mean you married Bonbright like some of those Russian
nihilist persons one hears about--just to use him and your position--
for some socialist or anarchist thing? You're not serious, Ruth?...
Such things aren't."

"I--I'd do THAT again," she said. "It was right--to do that--for the
good of all those men. ... It's not that--but the rest--not keeping
to my bargain--and--Dulac. I would have--gone with him."

Hilda shook her head. "Not farther than the door," she said. "You
couldn't--not after Bonbright has been such--such an idiotic angel
about you."

"I would have--THEN."

"But you wouldn't now?"

"I--I can't bear to THINK of him. ..."

"Um!..." Hilda's expressive syllable was very like her father's. It
was her way of saying, "I see, and I'll bet you don't see, and I'm
not surprised particularly, but you'll be surprised when you find it
out." It said all that--to Hilda's satisfaction.

"He's been gone hours," Ruth said, plaintively, and Hilda understood
her to refer to Bonbright.

"Time he was coming back, then," she said.

"He--won't come back--ever. ... You don't know him the way I do."
There was something very like jealousy in Ruth's tone. "He's good--
and gentle--but if he makes up his mind--If he hadn't been that way
do you think he could have-lived with me the way he HAS?"

"He must have loved you a heap," Hilda said, enviously.

"He did. ... Oh, Hilda, it wasn't wrong to marry him for what I did.
... I hadn't any right to consider him--or me. I hadn't, had I?"

"I don't belong," said Hilda. "If I wasn't a wicked capitalist I
might agree with you--MAYBE. I'm not going to scold you for it--
because you THOUGHT it was right, and that always makes the big
difference. ... You thought you were doing something splendid, didn't
you--and then it fizzled. It must have been tough--I can get that
part of it. ... To find you'd married him and couldn't get out of it
--and that he didn't have any thousands of men to--tinker with. ...
Especially when you loved Mr. Dulac." Hilda added the last sentence
with shrewd intent.

"I don't love him--I don't. ... If you'd seen him--and Bonbright..."

"But you did love him," Hilda said, severely Ruth nodded dumbly.

"You're sure Bonbright won't come back?"

"Never," said Ruth.

"Then you'd better go after him."

Ruth did not answer. She was calmer now, more capable of rational
thought. What SHOULD she do? What was to be done with this
situation?... Her brief married life had been a nightmare with a
nightmare's climax; she could not bear a return to that. Her husband
was gone. She was free of him, free of her dread of the day when she
must face realities with him. ... And Bonbright--she felt certain he
would not want her to run after him, that, somehow, it would lower
her even farther in his eyes if she did so. There was a certain
dignity attaching to him that she dared not violate, and to run after
him would violate it. There would, of necessity, be a scene. She
would have to explain, beg, promise--lie. She did not believe she
could lie to him again--nor that she could make him believe a lie.
... Pretense between them had become an impossibility. ... She wanted
him to know she had not gone with Dulac, would not go with Dulac. It
seemed to her she could not bear to have him think THAT of her. She
had made his love impossible, but she craved his respect. That was
all. ... She was freed from him--and it was better so. The phase of
it that she did not analyze was why her heart ached so. She did not
study into that.

"I don't want him--back," she said to Hilda. "It would be just like
it was--before."

"What ARE you going to do, then? You've got to do something."

"I don't know. ... Why must I do something? Why can't I just wait--
and let him do what--whatever is done?"

"Because--if I know anything about Bonbright--he won't do a thing.
... He'll just step aside quietly and make no fuss. I'm afraid he's--
hurt. And he's been hurt so much before."

"I'm--sorry." The words sounded weak, ineffectual. They did not
express her feelings, her remorse, her self-accusation.

"Sorry?... You haven't cut a dance with him, you know, or kept him
waiting while you did your hair. ... You've more or less messed up
his life. Yes, you have. There isn't any use mincing words. Your
motives may have been lofty and noble and all that sort of thing--
from your point of view. But HIS point of view is what I'm thinking
about now. ... Sorry!"

"Don't scold. I can't--bear it. I can't bear anything more. ...
Please go away. I know you despise me. Leave me alone. Go away..."

"I'll do nothing of the kind. You're all upset-and you deserve a heap
more than scolding. ... But I like you." Hilda was always direct.
"You're more or less of a little idiot, with your insane notions and
your Joan of Arc silliness, but I like you. You're not fit to be left
alone. I'm in charge. ... So go and dabble cold water on your eyes,
so you don't look like Nazimova in the last act, and come along with.
me. We'll take a drive, and then I'm coming back to stay all night
with you. ... Yes, I am," she said, with decision, as Ruth started to
object. "You do what I say."

Hilda drove Ruth to her own house. "I've got to tell mother I'm going
to stay with you," she said. "Will you come in?"

"No--please," Ruth answered.

"I won't be but a jiffy, then." And Hilda left Ruth alone in the
electric. Alone! Suddenly Ruth was afraid of being alone. She was
thankful for Hilda, thankful Hilda was going to see her through.

Hilda's father and mother were in the library.

"Thought you were going some place with Bonbright and his wife," said
Malcolm Lightener.

"Dad," said Hilda, with characteristic bluntness and lack of preface,
"they're in a dickens of a mess."

"Bonbright?"

"And Ruth."

"Huh! ..." Lightener's grunt seemed to say that it was nothing but
what he expected. "Well--go ahead."

Hilda went ahead. Her father punctuated her story with sundry grunts,
her mother with exclamations of astonishment and sorrow. Hilda told
the whole story from the beginning, and when she was done she said:
"There it is. You wouldn't believe it. And, dad, Bonbright Foote's an
angel. A regular angel with wings."

"Sometimes it's mighty hard to tell the difference between an angel
and a damn fool," said Lightener. "I suppose you want me to mix into
it. Well, I won't."

"You haven't been asked," said Hilda. "I'm doing the mixing for this
family. I just came to tell you I am going to stay all night with
Ruth--and to warn you not to mix in. You'd do it with a sledge
hammer. I don't suppose it's any use telling you to keep your hands
off--for you won't. But I wish you would."

"You'll get your wish," he said.

"I won't," she answered.

"Poor Bonbright," Mrs. Lightener said, "it does seem as if about
every misfortune had happened to him that can happen. ... And he
can't go to his mother for sympathy."

"He isn't the kind to go to anybody for sympathy," said Lightener.

"Then don't you go to him with any," said Hilda.

"I told you I wasn't going to have anything to do with it."

"I haven't any patience with that girl," said Mrs. Lightener. "Such
notions! Wherever did she get them? ... It's all a result of this
Votes for Women and clubs studying sociology and that. When I was a
girl--"

"You wore hoop skirts, mammy," said Hilda, "and if you weren't
careful when you sat down folks saw too much stocking. ... Don't go
blaming Ruth too much. She thought she was doing something
tremendous."

"I calc'late she was," said Malcolm Lightener, "when you come to
think of it. ... Too bad all cranks can't put the backbone they use
in flub dub to some decent use. I sort of admire 'em."

"Father!" expostulated Mrs. Lightener.

"You've got to. They back their game to the limit. ... This little
girl did. ... Tough on Bonbright, though."

Hilda walked to the door; there she stopped, and said over her
shoulder: "Tell you what I think. I think she's mighty hard in love
with him--and doesn't know it."

"Rats!" said her father, elegantly.

At that moment Bonbright was writing a letter to his wife. It was a
difficult letter, which he had started many times, but had been
unable to begin as it should be begun. ... He did not want to hurt
her; he did not want her to misunderstand; so he had to be very
clear, and write very carefully what was in his heart. It was a sore
heart, but, strangely, there was no bitterness in it toward Ruth. He
found that strange himself, and marveled at it. He did not want to
betray his misery to her--for that would hurt her, he knew. He did
not want to accuse. All he wanted to do was to do what he could to
set matters right for her. For him matters could never be set right
again. It was the end. ... The way of its coming had been a shock,
but that the end had come was not such a shock. He perceived now that
he had been gradually preparing himself for it. He saw that the life
they had been living could have ended in nothing but a crash of
happiness. ... He admitted now that he had been afraid of it almost
since the beginning. ...

"My Dear Ruth," he wrote. Then he stopped again, unable to find a
beginning.

"I am writing because that will be easier for both of us," he wrote--
and then scratched it out, for it seemed to strike a personal note.
He did not want to be personal, to allow any emotion to creep in.

"It is necessary to make some arrangements," he began once more. That
was better. Then, "I know you will not have gone away yet." That
meant away with Dulac, and she would so understand it. "I hope you
will consent to stay in the apartment. Everything there, of course,
is yours. It is not necessary for us to discuss money. I will attend
to that carefully. In this state a husband must be absent from his
wife for a year before she can be released from him. I ask you to be
patient for that time." That was all of it. There was nothing more to
say. He read it, and it sounded bald, cold, but he could not better
it.

At the end he wrote, "Yours sincerely," scratched it out, and wrote,
"Yours truly," scratched that out, and contented himself by affixing
merely his name. Then he copied the whole and dispatched it to his
wife by messenger.

It arrived just after Ruth and Hilda returned.

"It's from him," said Ruth.

"Open it, silly, and see what he says."

"I'm afraid. ..."

Hilda stamped her foot. "Give it to me, then," she said.

Ruth held the note to her jealously. She opened it slowly, fearfully,
and read the few words it contained.

"Oh..." she said, and held it out to Hilda. She had seen nothing but
the bareness, the coldness of it.

"It's perfect," said Hilda. "It's BONBRIGHT. He didn't slop over--he
was trying not to slop over, but there's love in every letter, and
heartache in every word of it. ... And you couldn't love him. Wish
_I_ had the chance."

"You--you will have," said Ruth, faintly.

"If I do," said Hilda, shortly, "you bet I WON'T WASTE it."




CHAPTER XXVI


Hilda knew her father. He could not keep his hands off any matter
that interested him, and most matters did interest him. He had grown
to have an idea that he could take hold of almost any sort of tangle
or enterprise or concern and straighten it out. Probably it was
because he was so exceedingly human. ... Therefore he was drawn
irresistibly to his purchasing department and to Bonbright Foote.

"Young man," he said, gruffly, "what's this I hear?"

Bonbright looked up inquiringly.

"Come over here." Lightener jerked his head toward a private spot for
conversation. "About you and that little girl," he said.

"I would rather not talk about it," said Bonbright, slowly.

"But I'm going to talk about it. It's nonsense. ..."

Bonbright looked very much like his father; tall, patrician, coldly
dignified. "Mr. Lightener," he said, "it is a thing we will not
mention--now or later." Seven generations contributed to that answer
and to the manner of it. It was final. It erected a barrier past
which even Malcolm Lightener could not force his way, and Lightener
recognized it.

"Huh!..." he grunted, nonplused, made suddenly ill at ease by this
boy. For a moment he looked at Bonbright, curiously, appraisingly,
then turned on his heel and walked away.

"Young spriggins put me in my place," he said to Mrs. Lightener that
evening. "I wish I knew how to do it--valuable. Made me feel like he
was a total stranger and I'd been caught in his hen house. ... That
Bonbright Foote business isn't all bad by a darn sight."

From that day Bonbright tried to work himself into forgetfulness.
Work was the only object and refuge of his life, and he gave himself
to it wholly. It was interesting work, and it kept him from too much
thinking about himself. ... If a man has ability and applies himself
as Bonbright did, he will attract notice. In spite of his identity
Bonbright did attract notice from his immediate superiors. It was
more difficult for him, being who he was, to win commendation than it
would have been for an unmarked young man in the organization. That
was because even the fairest-minded man is afraid he will be tempted
into showing favoritism--and so withholds justice. ... But he forced
it from his laborers-not caring in the least if he had it or not.
And word of his progress mounted to Malcolm Lightener.

His craving for occupation was not satisfied with eight hours a day
spent in the purchasing department. It was his evenings that he
feared, so he filled them with study--study of the manufacture of the
automobile. Also he studied men. Every noon saw him in the little
hash house; every evening, when he could arrange it so, saw him with
some interested employee, boss, department boss, or somebody
connected with Malcolm Lightener's huge plant, pumping them for
information and cataloguing and storing it away in his mind. He tried
to crowd Ruth out of his mind by filling it so full of automobile
there would be no room for her. ... But she hid in unexpected
crannies, and stepped forth to confront him disconcertingly.

Gradually the laboring men changed their attitude toward him and
tolerated him. Some of them even liked him. He listened to their
talk, and tried to digest it. Much he saw to call for his sympathy,
much that they considered vital he could not agree with; he could
not, even in a majority of things, adapt his point of view to theirs.
For he was developing a point of view.

On that evening when he had gone down to see what a mob was like he
had no point of view, only curiosity. He had leaned neither toward
his father's striking employees nor against them. ... His attitude
was much the same now--with a better understanding of the problems
involved. He was not an ultracapitalist, like his father, nor a
radical like Dulac. ... One thing he believed, and that was in the
possibility of capital and labor being brought to see through the
same eyes. He believed the strife between them, which had waged from
tune immemorial, was not necessary, and could be eliminated. ... But
as yet he had no cure for the trouble.

He did not lean to socialism. He was farther away from that theory
than he was from his father's beliefs. He belonged by training and by
inheritance to the group of employers of labor and utilizers of
capital. ... Against radicalism he had a bitter grievance. Radicalism
had given him his wife--for reasons which he heard expressed by
laboring men every day. He had no patience with fanaticism; on the
other hand, he had little patience with bigotry and intolerance. His
contact with the other side was bringing no danger of his conversion.
... But he was doing what he never could have done as heir apparent
to the Foote dynasty--he was asserting in thought his individuality
and forming individual opinions. ... His education was being
effectively rounded out.

News of the wrecking of Bonbright's domestic craft came to his father
quickly, carried, as might have been anticipated, by Hangar.

"Your son is not living with his wife, Mr. Poote," Rangar announced.

"Indeed!" said Mr. Foote, concealing both surprise and gratification
under his habitual mask of suave dignity. "That, I fear, was to have
been anticipated. ... Have you the particulars?"

"Only that she is living in their apartment, and he is boarding with
one of the men in his department at Lightener's."

"Keep your eye on him, Rangar--keep your eye on him. And report."

"Yes, sir," said Rangar, not himself pleased by the turn affairs had
taken, but resolved to have what benefit might lie thereabouts. His
resentment was still keen to keep him snapping at Bonbright's heels.

The breach between himself and his son had been no light blow to Mr.
Foote. It threatened his line. What was to become of Bonbright Foote,
Incorporated, with no heir to hand the business over to when his
hands could drop it? He wanted his son, not as a father wants his
son, but because a Bonbright Foote VII was requisite. He had hoped
for this thing that had happened; indeed, had felt confident it would
happen, and that he would have Bonbright back unencumbered, purged of
nonsense.

He spoke of it with satisfaction to his wife when he returned to his
home that afternoon to take up the important matter of adding to the
manuscript of his philosophical biography of the Marquis Lafayette.

"Perhaps I should see Bonbright," he suggested.

"No," said Mrs. Foote. "He must come to you. He's got to have all his
wildness crushed out of him. He'll come. He must have had enough of
it before this."

But Bonbright did not come, showed no signs of coming, and Mr. Foote
grew impatient, so impatient that he disregarded his wife's advice.
He could not bring his pride to allow him to seek out Bonbright in
person, but sent Hangar as his ambassador.

Rangar found Bonbright in his room, reading a book devoted to the
ailments of the internal-combustion engine, and acquitted himself of
his mission with that degree of diplomacy which his desire for
success dictated.

"Well?" said Bonbright, as the door opened to admit the ambassador.

"Your father sent me, Mr. Foote."

"Yes."

"He has heard that--er--the marriage which caused your--er--
estrangement has ended as he feared."

Bonbright arose slowly and walked toward Rangar, who appeared in two
minds whether to remain or to depart to other places.

"Tell my father," Bonbright said, "that I can appreciate his
satisfaction. Tell him also that if he has anything to say to me to
say it in person. ... That is all."

"Your father--"

"That is all," repeated Bonbright, and Rangar made up his mind. He
slammed the door after him.

In the morning he reported to Mr. Foote, who compressed his lips at
the recitation of his son's words. Let his son come to him, then,
when he had eaten his fill of husks.

But Bonbright did not come. After several days had elapsed Mr. Foote
considered his duty, and interpreted it to impel him to call in
person upon his son--clothed in dignity and with the demeanor of
outraged parenthood. Mrs. Foote was not privy to the project.

He met his son descending the steps of the house where he boarded.
Bonbright could not have evaded his father if he would. He stopped
and waited for his father to speak.

"I have come to talk to you, Bonbright," he said, severely.

"Very well, sir," Bonbright said.

"I have come, not from inclination or delight in an interview which
must be distasteful to both of us, but because I believe it my duty
to point out the thanklessness of your conduct and to see if you
cannot be brought to a proper sense of your obligations."

"Our ideas of my obligations are rather far apart, sir."

"They shouldn't be. You're a mere boy--my son. You should derive your
ideas from me until you are capable of formulating correct ideas
yourself."

"I'm afraid we can never agree on that," said Bonbright, patiently.

"Your marriage has ended the way such marriages are fated to end,"
said Mr. Foote.

"We will not discuss that, please," said Bonbright.

"You made your own bed--"

"And am not complaining about the discomfort of it."

"It is essential that you return to your duty. Your unpleasant
experience is over. You are old enough to understand your position as
my son, and the responsibilities and duties of it. You are Bonbright
Foote VII and the future head of our family. I am being very patient
and lenient with you. ... You have defied me openly, but I am willing
to overlook that, and I am sure your mother will overlook your
conduct toward her, providing you return to your place in a frame of
mind proper for my son. I think you understand what that is."

"Perfectly, sir. It means to be jammed back in a mold that will turn
me out to the family pattern. It means a willingness to give up
thinking for myself and accept YOUR thoughts and shape my life by
them. It means being a figurehead as long as you live and a replica
of yourself when you are gone. That's it, isn't it?"

"That is it," said Mr. Foote, shortly. "You are rid of that woman.
... I am willing to give you another chance."

Bonbright's hold upon himself was firm. "If you wish to continue this
conversation you will not speak in that way of my wife. Let me make
that very clear. ... As to coming back to the office--there is
nothing under heaven that would bring me back to what I escaped from.
Nothing. ... If I were ever to come it would have to be on terms of
my own making, and you would never agree to them. And whatever terms
you agreed to I should not come until you and mother--both of you--
went to my wife and made the most complete apology for the thing you
did to her in the theater that night. ... I am not thinking of
myself. I am thinking of her. My mother and father passed my wife and
myself on our wedding night, in a public place, and refused to
recognize us. ... It was barbarous." Bonbright's voice quivered a
trifle, but he held himself well in hand. "That apology must come
before anything else. After you have made it, we will discuss terms."

"You--you--" Mr. Foote was perilously close to losing his dignity.

"No," said Bonbright; "on second thought, we will not discuss terms.
You can have my final reply now. ... You have nothing to give me that
will take the place of what I have now. I will not come back to you.
Please understand that this is final."

Mr. Foote was speechless. It was moments before he could speak; then
it was to say, in a voice that trembled with rage: "In the morning I
shall make my will--and your name will not appear in it except as a
renegade son whom I have disowned..., Probably you regarded the
property as under entail and that it would come to you after me. ...
For six generations it has gone from father to son. You shall never
touch a penny of it."

"I prefer it that way, sir."

Mr. Foote glared at his son in quite unrestrained, uncultured rage,
and, whirling on his heel, strode furiously away. Bonbright looked
after him curiously.

"I wonder how the thing missed out with me," he thought. "It worked
perfectly six generations--and then went all to smash with me. ...
Probably I'd have been a lot happier. ..."

It had been a month since he saw Ruth. He had not wanted to see her;
the thought of seeing her had been unbearable. But suddenly he felt
as if he must see her--have a glimpse of her. He must see how she
looked, if she had changed, if she were well. ... He knew it would
bring refreshed suffering. It would let back all he had rigidly
schooled himself to shut out--but he must see her.

He set his will against it and resolutely walked away from the
direction in which her apartment lay, but the thing was too strong
for him. As a man surrenders to a craving which he knows will destroy
him, yet feels a relief at the surrender, he turned abruptly and
walked the other way.

The apartment in which they had lived was on the second floor of a
small apartment house. He passed it on the opposite side of the
street, looking covertly upward at the windows. There was a light
within. She was there, but invisible. Only if she should step near
the window could he see her. ... Again and again he passed, but she
did not appear. Finally he settled himself guiltily in the shadows,
where he could watch those windows, and waited--just for that distant
sight of her. There was a lamp on the table before the window. Before
she retired she would have to come to shut it off. ... He waited for
that. He would then see her for a second, perhaps.

At last she came, and stood an instant in the window--just a blur,
with the light behind her, no feature distinguishable, yet it was
her--her. "Ruth..." he whispered, "Ruth. ..." Then she drew down the
shade and extinguished the light.

For a moment he stood there, hands opened as if he would have
stretched them out toward her. Then he turned and walked heavily
away. He had seen her, but It had not added to his happiness. He had
seen her because he must see her. ... And by that he knew he must see
her again and again and again. He knew it. He knew he would stand
there in the shadows on innumerable nights, watching for that one
brief second of her presence. ... And she loved another man. In a
year she would be free to marry Dulac!

He returned to his room and to his book on the ailments of internal-
combustion engines; but it was not their diagrams his eyes saw, but
only a featureless blur that represented a girl standing in an upper
window---forever beyond his reach. ...




CHAPTER XXVII


Malcolm Lightener's plant, huge as it was, could not meet the demands
of the public for the car he manufactured. Orders outran production.
New buildings had been under construction, but before they were
completed and equipped their added production was eaten up and the
factory was no nearer to keeping supply abreast with demand than it
had been in the beginning.

Lightener was forced to make contracts with other firms for parts of
his cars. From one plant he contracted for bodies, from another for
wheels. He urged Bonbright Foote, Incorporated, to increase their
production of axles by ten thousand a year--and still dealers in all
parts of the country wrote and telephoned and telegraphed for more
cars--more cars.

Hitherto Lightener had made his own engines complete. From outside
manufactories he could obtain the other essential parts, but his own
production of engines held him back. The only solution for the
present was to find some one to make engines to his specifications,
and he turned to Bonbright Foote, Incorporated. Whatever might be
said of the Foote methods, their antiquity, their lack of modern
efficiency, they turned out work whose quality none might challenge--
and Malcolm Lightener looked first to quality.

He reached his determination at noon, while he was eating his
luncheon, and to Mrs. Lightener's amazement sprang up from the table
and lunged out of the room without so much as a glance at her or a
word of good-by. In some men of affairs this might not be remarkable,
but in Malcolm Lightener it was remarkable. Granite he might be;
crude in his manner, perhaps, more dynamic than comfortable, but in
all the years of his married life he had never left the house without
kissing his wife good-by.

He drove his runabout recklessly to his office, rushed into the
engineering department, and snatched certain blue prints and
specifications from the files. He knew costs down to the last bolt or
washer on the machine he made, and it was the work of minutes only to
determine what price he could afford to pay for the engines he
wanted.

His runabout carried him to the entrance to Bonbright Foote,
Incorporated, and he hurried up the stairs to the office.

"Mr. Foote in?" he snapped.

"Just returned, Mr. Lightener."

"Want to see him--right off--quick."

"Yes, sir."

The girl at the switchboard called Mr. Foote and informed him.

"He says to step right in, sir," she said, and before she was done
speaking Lightener was on his way down the corridor.

Mr. Foote sat coldly behind his desk. He held no kindness for Malcolm
Lightener, for Lightener had befriended Bonbright in his
recalcitrancy. Lightener had made it possible for the boy to defy his
father. Lightener's wife and daughter had openly waged society war
against his wife in behalf of his son's wife. ... But Mr. Foote was
not the man to throw away an enormous and profitable business because
of a personal grudge.

Lightener paused for no preliminaries.

"Foote," he said, "I want ten thousand engines complete. You can make
'em. You've got room to expand, and I can give you approximate
figures on the costs. You make good axles and you can make good
engines. What d'you think about it?"

Mr. Foote shrugged his shoulders. "It doesn't attract me."

"Huh!... You can have that plant up in six months. I'll give you a
contract for five years. Two years' profits will pay for the plant.
Don't know what your profits are now, but this ought to double them.
... Doesn't half a million a year extra profit make you think of
anything?"

"Mr. Lightener, this business was originally a machine shop. It has
grown and developed since the first Bonbright Foote founded it. I am
the first to deviate in any measure from the original plan, and I
have done so with doubt and reluctancy. I have seen with some regret
the manufacturing of axles overshadow the original business--though
it has been profitable, I admit. But I shall go no farther. I am not
sure my father and my grandfather would approve of what I have done.
I know they would not approve of other changes. ... More money does
not attract me. This plant is making enough for me. What I want is
more leisure. I wish more time to devote to a certain literary labor
upon which I have been engaged..."

"Literary flub-dub," said Lightener. "I'm offering you half a million
a year on a silver platter."

"I don't want it, sir. ... I am not a young man. I have not been in
the best of health-owing, perhaps, to worries which I should not have
been compelled to bear. ... I am childless. With me Bonbright Foote,
Incorporated, comes to an end. Upon my death these mills close, the
business is to be liquidated and discontinued. Do I make myself
clear?... I am not interested in your engines."

"What's that you said?" Lightener asked. "Childless? Wind up this
business? You're crazy, man."

"I had a son, but I have one no longer. ... In some measure I hold
you responsible for that. You have taken sides with a disobedient son
against his father..."

"And you've treated a mighty fine son like a dog," said Lightener,
harshly.

"I have done my duty. ... I do not care to discuss it with you. The
fact I want to impress is that my family becomes extinct upon my
death. My wife will be more than amply provided for. I may live ten
years or twenty years--but I shall live them in such comfort as I can
obtain. ... Is there anything else you wish to talk to me about?"

It was a dismissal, and Malcolm Lightener was not used to being
dismissed like a troublesome book agent.

"Yes," he said, getting to his feet. "There is something, and I'll be
short and sweet about it. You have a son, and if I'm any judge, he's
about four times the man his father is. You don't want him!... Well,
I do. I want him in my business, and he won't lose such a lot by the
change. It's your ledger that shows the loss, and don't you forget
it. You did what you could to warp him out of shape--and because he
wouldn't be warped you kicked him out. Maybe the family ends with
you, but a new Foote family begins with him, and it won't be any cut-
and-dried, ancestor-ridden outfit, either. One generation of his kind
will be worth more to this country than the whole six of yours. ... I
hope you live to see it."

Lightener stuffed his blue prints and specifications into his pocket
and left the office truculently. Once more in his own office he
summoned a boy.

"Fetch Mr. Foote from the purchasing department," he said.

Malcolm Lightener was acting on impulse again. He had no clear idea
why he had sent for Bonbright, nor just what he should say when the
boy came--but he wanted to talk to him. Lightener was angry--angry
because Bonbright's father had rejected his proposition to
manufacture engines; more angry at the way Mr. Foote had spoken
concerning his son. In the back of Lightener's mind was the thought
that he would show a Foote. ... Just what he would show him was not
determined.

Bonbright came in. He was not the Bonbright of six months before. The
boy in him was gone, never to return. He had lost none of his old
look of breeding, of refinement, of blood--but he had lost that air
which rich young men bear about with them. It is an air, not of
carelessness, precisely, but of absence of care; a sort of
nonchalance, bred of lack of responsibilities and of definite
ambitions. It is an air that makes one think of them that they would
fit better into the scenery of a country club or a game of golf than
into an office where men strain their intelligence and their bodies
to attain important aims. This was gone with his boyishness. In its
place was an alertness, an awakeness, born of an interest in affairs.
His eyes were the eyes of a man who concentrated much, and was keenly
interested in the object of his concentration. His movements were
quicker. He seemed to see and catalogue more of what was going on
about him. If one had seen him then for the first time, the
impression received would have been that here was a very busy young
man who was worth watching. There was something aggressive about him.
He looked competent.

One could not question that his new life had improved him, but it had
not made him happy. It would be absurd to say that he looked sad. A
boy of his age cannot look ead continually, unless sadness is a pose
with him, which he is enjoying very much indeed. But Bonbright was no
poser. ... And he did not look happy. There were even times when
there was a worn, haggard look about his eyes when he came down in
the morning. This was when he had allowed himself to think too much.

"Just came from your father's office," said Lightener. "I offered him
a chance to clean up half a million a year--and he turned it down...
because his great-grandfather might not like it."

Bonbright understood perfectly. He knew how his father would do such
a thing. Lightener's statement seemed to call for no reply, so he
made none.

"I wanted to look at you," said Lightener, "to make sure you aren't
anything like him. ... But you ARE like him. You stand like him and
you look like him--only you don't. If I thought you'd grow to think
the way he does I'd send you to the cashier for your pay, in a
second. But I don't believe it." He scowled at Bonbright. "No, by
Jove! you don't LOOK it."

"I don't think father and I are much alike," said Bonbright, slowly.

Lightener switched the subject. "You ought to know considerable about
this business. Been here six months. From what I hear you've picked
up quite a lot outside of office hours."

"I've been studying hard. It gave me something to do."

"Darn it all, why couldn't you and Hilda have taken to each
other!..." Lightener stopped, and stared at his desk. Perhaps it was
not too late yet. Bonbright's marriage had been no success; Bonbright
was young; and it was not thinkable that he would not recover from
that wound in time to marry again. Of course he would. ... Then why
should he not marry Hilda? Not the least reason in the world. In the
affair Bonbright was guiltless--merely unfortunate. The thing was
worth bearing in mind. Perhaps something might be done; at any rate,
he would talk it over with his wife.

"I want you to put in another six months learning this business," he
said. "If you pan out I'll have a job for you. ... I haven't heard of
your falling down any place yet. ... Know what I told your father? He
said the Foote family ended with him--became extinct. Well, I said
the family just started with you, and that one generation of your
kind was worth the whole six of his. And I hoped he lived to see it."

"Somehow I can't feel very hard toward father, Mr. Lightener.
Sometimes I'm--sorry for him. To him it's as bad as if I'd been born
with a hunchback. Worse, maybe, because, hunchback and all, I might
have been the sort he wanted. ... He doesn't understand, that's it. I
can understand him--so I don't have any hard feelings-except on HER
account. ... He said the family was extinct?"

"Yes."

"I guess it is," said Bonbright. "The family, as he thought of it,
meant something that went on and on as he and his ancestors went. ...
Yes, it's extinct. I don't know why I was different from them, but I
was. Always. I'm glad."

"He must be worth five millions, anyhow, maybe more."

"I don't know," said Bonbright.

"You won't get a cent of it, from what he says."

"I suppose not. ... No, I won't get a cent."

"You don't make much fuss about it."

"I had that out with myself six months ago. It was hard to give it
up. ... Nobody wants to be poor when he can be rich. If it hadn't
been for Ruth I suppose I should have been there yet--pretty well
made over to fit by this time."

As Bonbright and Malcolm Lightener talked, Mr. Foote sat in his
office, his head upon his desk, one arm stretched out across the
blotter, the other shielding his face. He did not move. ...

After Malcolm Lightener left the room he had sat for a time staring
at the door. He did not feel well. He was troubled. None but himself
knew how deep was his disappointment, his bitterness, because of his
son's failure to stand true to his type. It was not the grief of a
father at the loss of a son; it was the suffering of a man whose
supreme motive is the carrying on of family and of family traditions.
He had just told Lightener the family became extinct with his
passing. Now he reaffirmed it, and, reaffirming it, he felt the agony
of ultimate affliction.

Six generations the family and the family's business had endured
honorably according to its beliefs and tenets; with the sixth
generation it ended because of the way-wardness of a boy--his boy!

Mr. Foote felt a trifle dizzy, a bit oppressed. He leaned back in his
chair and shut his eyes. He would go home for the day as soon as the
dizziness passed, he said to himself. ... It passed. He opened his
eyes and leaned toward his desk, but he stopped suddenly, his right
hand flying to his breast. There was a sudden pain there; such a pain
as he had never experienced before. It was near his heart. With each
heartbeat there came a twisting stab of agony. Presently the spasm
passed, and he sank back, pale, shaking, his forehead damp with
clammy moisture. ... He tried to pull himself together. Perhaps it
would be best to summon some one, but he did not want to do that. To
have an employee find him so would be an invasion of his dignity.
Nobody must see him. Nobody must know about this. ...

The spasm returned-departed again, leaving him gasping for breath.
... It would come again. Something told him it would come again-once
more. He KNEW. ... A third time it would come, but never again.

He forced himself to rise. He would meet it standing. For the honor
of the Foote family he would meet it on his feet, looking into its
eyes. He would not shrink and cringe from it, but would face it with
dignity as a Foote should face it, uttering no cry of pain or fear.
It was a dignified moment, the most dignified and awful of his life.
... Five generations were looking on to see how he met it, and he was
conscious of their eyes. He stared before him with level eyes,
forcing a smile, and waited the seconds there remained to wait.

It was coming. He could feel its first approach, and drew himself up
to the fullness of his slender height. Never had he looked so much a
Foote as in that instant, never had he so nearly approached the ideal
he had set for himself--for he knew.

The spasm came, but it tore no cry from him. He stood erect, with
eyes that stared straight before him fearlessly until they became
sightless. He held his head erect proudly. ... Then he sighed,
relaxed into his chair, and lay across his desk, one arm
outstretched, the other protecting his face. ...

The telephone on Malcolm Lightener's desk rang.

"Hello!" said Lightener. "What is it? Who?... Yes, he's right here."
He looked up to Bonbright. "Somebody wants to speak to you."

Bonbright stepped to the instrument. "Yes," he said, "this is
Bonbright Foote. ... Who is it? Rangar?..." Suddenly he turned about
and faced Malcolm Lightener blankly. He fumbled with the receiver for
its hook. "My father is dead," he said, in a hushed voice. "They just
found him--at his desk. ..."




CHAPTER XXVIII


Ruth had continued to live in the apartment. It had not been her
intention to do so. From the moment of reading Bonbright's succinct
note she was determined to go back to the little cottage and to her
mother. But she put it off for a day, then for another day, and days
grew into weeks and months. "To-morrow I'll move," she told herself
each night, but next day she was no nearer to uprooting herself than
she had been the day before.

She gave herself no reasons for remaining. If she had been asked for
a reason she might have said it was because Dulac still boarded with
her mother. He had not left the city with the breaking of the strike,
but had remained. He had remained because he had asked the union he
represented to let him remain and had been able to show them reasons
for granting his request. He wanted to stay on the ground to work
quietly underground, undoing the harm that had been done by the
strike; quietly proselyting, preaching his gospel, gaining strength
day by day, until he should have reared an organization capable of
striking again. The courage of the man was unquenchable. ... And he
wanted to be near Ruth. Just as he had set his will to force
Bonbright Foote, Incorporated, to bow to the will of the men, so he
had set his will to force Ruth to bow to his will. ... So he remained
and labored.

But his presence at her mother's was not the real reason that
impelled Ruth to continue in the home Bonbright had made for her. It
was something more intangible. She found the thought of leaving that
spot unendurable, but she did not, dared not, seek in her heart for
what made it unendurable.

For a week she scarcely ventured outside the door; then the
loneliness, the lack of occupation, drove her out. She must be busy,
for when she sat idly in a room her thoughts became torture. There
were many sides to her affliction. First in her mind she placed the
failure of her great project. She had wrecked her life for it without
accomplishment. Second in the rank of her griefs stood the fact that
she had been on the point of giving herself to Dulac. She would have
gone with him, disregarding convention, breaking her vows of
marriage. For that she despised herself... despised herself the more
because she knew now that she did not love Dulac, that she had never
loved Dulac. That discovery had shocked and shaken her, and when she
thought of what might have happened if she had gone with him a
numbness of horror crept over her, leaving her cold and trembling.
... She would have gone, and she did not love him. She would not have
known she did not love him until it was too late to draw back... and
then she would have lived, but her soul would have died!

She accused herself bitterly for mistaking glamour for love. She knew
now that Dulac had called from her nothing deeper than a foolish,
girlish fascination. His personality, his work, his enthusiasm had
enmeshed her, blinded her--and she had mistaken her feelings for
love! Of this she was certain. ... There were moments when she felt
she must tell Bonbright. Once she actually took writing materials to
do so, but she did not tell him. ... She wanted him to know, because,
she thought, it would be a sort of vindication in his eyes. But she
was wrong. She wanted him to know for quite another reason than that.

Third in the order of her griefs was the consciousness that she had
caused Bonbright grief. She dealt ungently with herself because of
it, for Bonbright had not deserved it at her hands. She could
appreciate how good he had been to her, how solicitous, how patient,
how tender. If a man ever deserved well of a woman, he deserved it.
She told herself that a hundred times daily. She remembered small
thoughtfulnesses which had been a part of his daily conduct to her.
She recalled small forbearances. She pictured to herself the life
they had lived together, and saw how it was only the character of her
husband that had made it possible at all. ... And in the end he had
not uttered one word of censure; had not even looked at her with just
anger. ... There had been no pretense about him, no labored effort to
be kind. He had simply been himself.

These were her thoughts; this is how she remembered him. ...

The house was unbearably lonely. As evening approached she found
herself more than once listening for Bonbright's step on the stairs
and his hand on the door. ... At such times she cried. She puzzled
herself. She did not understand why she should be so lonely, nor why
the expectation of Bonbright's step--with quick awakening to the
knowledge that no foot of his would ever sound at her door again--
should bring her tears. ... She knew she should have been glad,
relieved. With Bonbright she had lived in daily dread. She had not
loved him, and the fear that his restraint would break, that he would
force his love upon her, had made her days a ghastly dream. ... She
should be crying out with the joy and relief of his removal. But she
felt no relief, felt no joy. ... She could not understand it.

If Hilda Lightener, who came often and stayed long, had asked her if
she missed Bonbright or were lonely without him, she would have
denied it hotly. But Hilda did not ask. ... Ruth did not ask that
question of herself. She knew she was lonely, miserable, and she
thought she knew why--but Bonbright's absence had nothing to do with
it.

Hilda watched, she did not talk about Bonbright, for she saw her task
was to help Ruth over these first few days. Her suspicions were her
own, but, being a woman, she understood the baffling psychology of
another woman and what harm a premature word might work. ... If the
thing she believed were true, then time would bring its realization
to Ruth. Ruth must discover the truth for herself. ...

"I can't stand this," Ruth said one evening. "I can't bear to stay
here alone in these rooms. If there were work enough to keep me busy
--but there's nothing."

"If you'd only go the places I ask you to," said Hilda.

"I don't want to meet people--your sort of people. They must know
what has happened. ... I couldn't have them looking at me with their
catty, curious eyes."

"Most of them would be very kind," Hilda said.

"No. ... I'm going to work. I'm going to find a place and work. ..."

"But--" Hilda wondered what Bonbright would think of that. She
imagined he would not like it.

"I know what you were going to say. He wouldn't want me to. Maybe he
wouldn't--but if he knew he'd let me do it. I tell you I've got to,
Hilda."

"You've got to decide for yourself," Hilda admitted, so Ruth became a
job hunter, and because intelligent stenographers are by no means as
plentiful as daisies in a July field, she was not long in finding
employment. ... From that day life was easier. She found her wages
were ample to support herself and pay the rent of her apartment.
Ample, in that they sufficed. There was no surplus. So she folded and
put away the weekly checks she received from Bonbright. She did not
send them back to him because, to her mind, that would have been a
weekly slap in his face. But she would not cash them. There was a
difference to her; probably there was a real difference.

Of a Sunday Ruth often went driving with Hilda, and Hilda noticed how
closely her companion watched the sidewalks, how she scrutinized the
passing crowds. It was as though Ruth were trying to catch sight of
somebody. ... While daylight lasted Hilda saw that Ruth was drawn to
her windows to sit looking down at the street. Once Hilda ventured
dangerously.

"Why do you always sit there watching folks go by?" she asked.

Ruth turned and looked at her strangely. "I--why, I don't know," she
said.

Of herself Ruth rarely mentioned Bonbright; never unless in some
recollection of him, or if Hilda meddled with some portion of the
household that had been peculiarly Bonbright's. As, for instance:

"Why don't you move that leather chair out of the other bedroom?"
Hilda asked. "It's doing no good there and it looks mighty
comfortable."

"That was HIS chair," Ruth said, quickly. "He used to sit there and
read after--after I had gone to bed."

Once Ruth asked for news of Bonbright. After that Hilda brought her
news voluntarily. Not too frequently, but often enough according to
her notion. Betweentimes she gave Ruth plenty of time to wonder what
was happening to her husband. Ruth knew Hilda saw him often. She
wondered if they talked about her, and what they said, but that she
never asked, nor did Hilda refer to such conversations. Indeed, these
were few and sparing, for Bonbright could not be made to talk about
his wife--even to her. But she gave Bonbright news of Ruth just as
she gave Ruth news of Bonbright.

Sometimes Hilda tormented Ruth with set purpose.

"Bonbright looks mighty thin," she said. "I think he's working too
hard. If he keeps it up he'll make himself sick."

"Oh..." said Ruth--nothing more, but for the rest of that Sunday she
was quiet--very quiet.

Once Hilda found Ruth in a passion of tears, and when she sought the
reason she learned that Ruth had met Dulac on the street, face to
face, and that he had spoken to her. He had told Ruth that he was
staying in the city because of her; that he would not go without her.
... He had been careless of listening ears, not concealing his
emotions.

"Well, he didn't hurt you, did he?"

"No," said Ruth.

"You weren't afraid of him?"

"No."

"You--didn't want to go away with him?"

"No. ... No. ..."

"Then what are you making all the fuss about? He can't carry you off"

'HE might have seen us together," said Ruth. "And--and it made me--
remember--that horrid afternoon."

"What if Bonbright did see you together? Don't you suppose Bonbright
thinks you are seeing him? Of course he does. What else would he
think? Naturally he supposes you are going to have your divorce when
the year is up, and marry Mr. Dulac." Hilda was merciless.

"Does he think that? Are you sure?"

Hilda shrugged her shoulders.

"He mustn't think it," Ruth said, affrightedly. "Why, he--If he
thought that--"

"If he thought that--what?"

Ruth bit her lips and turned away. "Nothing," she said. Then: "Can't
you let him know?... Not tell him, you know, but--sort of let him
understand."

"If I can see a good chance," Hilda said; but in her mind was the
resolution that she would never see the chance.

"Does he--seem cheerful?" Ruth asked. "It's been quite a long time
now--months. ... He--must have gotten over--caring for me now. Do you
think so?" Her voice was anxious, pleading.

Hilda could not hold out against that appeal. "No, silly, he hasn't.
He isn't that sort. ... It's too bad."

"Yes--it's too bad," said Ruth, but it was not sympathy that put the
tiny thrill into her voice.

"He's just a boy. ... He can't go on all his life loving a girl that
doesn't want him. Some day he's going to fall in love again. It's
natural he should."

"Has he--Do you think--"

"No, I haven't seen any signs of it yet. ... And I'd be jealous if he
did. I think I could manage to fall in love with him myself if--"

"--he wasn't tied to me," interrupted Ruth, with a little whimper.
"I--I wish he knew--about Mr. Dulac. ... He wouldn't think so--hard
of me, maybe... if he knew I didn't--never did--love Mr. Dulac. ..."

"The only thing that would make any difference to him would be to
know that you loved him," said Hilda.

Ruth had no answer, but she was saying to herself, with a sort of
secret surprise: "If I loved him. ... If I loved him. ..." Presently
she spoke aloud: "You won't be angry with me, Hilda?... You won't
misunderstand, but--but won't yop please--go away?... Please. ... I--
I don't want to see anybody. I want to be alone."

"Well, of all things!" said Hilda. But she was not offended. Her
resemblance to her father was very faint indeed, at that moment. She
looked more like her mother, softer, more motherly. She put on her
hat and went away quietly. "Poor Bonbright!" she was thinking. Then:
"It's come to her. ... She's got a hint of it. It will come now with
a rush. ..."

Ruth sat in her chair without movement. "If I loved him..." she said,
aloud, and then repeated it, "... loved him. ..." She was questioning
herself now, asking herself the meaning of things, of why she had
been lonely, of why she had sat in her window peering down into the
street--and she found the answer. As Hilda had said in her thoughts,
it was coming with a rush. ... She was frightened by it, dared not
admit it. ... She dared not admit that the biggest, weightiest of her
woes was that she no longer had Bonbright with her; that she was
lonesome for him; that her heart had been crying out for him; that
she loved him! She dared not admit that. It would be too bitter, too
ironically bitter. ... If she loved him now she had loved him then!
Was her life to be filled with such ironies--? Was she forever to eat
of Dead Sea fruit?

Did she love Bonbright? At last she dared to put the question
squarely. ... Her answer came quickly. "Oh, I do... I do!" she cried,
aloud. "I love him. ..." A surge of happiness welled up from her
heart at the words. "I love him," she repeated, to hear the sound of
them again.

The happiness was of short life. "I love him--but it's too late. ...
It's always too late," she sobbed. "I've lost him. ... He's gone.
..."

The girl who could give herself to a man she did not love for the
Cause was not weak; she did not lack resolution, nor did she lack the
sublimity of soul which is the heritage of women. She had lost her
happiness; she had wrecked her life, and until this moment there
seemed no possibility of recovering anything from the wreckage. ...
But she loved. ... There was a foundation to build from. If she had
been weak, a waverer, no structure could have risen on the
foundation; it must have lain futile, accusing. But there was
strength in her, humility, a will that would dare much, suffer much,
to fight its way to peace.

"If he loves me still," she thought; and there hope was born.

"If I go to him. ... If I tell him--everything?" she asked herself,
and in asking made her resolution. She would venture, she would dare,
for her happiness and for his. She would go, and she would say:
"Bonbright, I love you. ... I have never loved anybody but you. ...
You must believe me." He would believe her, she knew. There was no
reason why he should not believe her. There was nothing for her to
gain now by another lie. "I'll make him believe," she said, and
smiled and cried and smiled again. "Hilda will tell me where he lives
and I'll go to him--now. ..."

At that instant Hilda was coming to her, was on the stairs, and Hilda
looked grave, troubled. She walked slowly up the stairs and rapped on
the door. "Ruth," she called, "it's Hilda. ... May I come in now?"

Ruth ran to the door and threw it open. "Come in. ... Come in." Her
voice was a song. "Oh, Hilda..."

"Honey," said Hilda, holding her at arm's length, '-his father is
dead. They found him dead just after noon. ..."

"Oh!..." said Ruth. It was an instant before the full significance of
this news was shown to her. Then she clutched Hilda with terror-
stricken fingers. "No. ... No!..." she cried. "It can't be. ... It
mustn't be. ..."

"Why--what is it? I--I didn't think you'd take it like this. ..."

"I love him. ... I love Bonbright," Ruth said, in a blank, dead
voice. "I was going to him. ... I was going to tell him... and he
would have believed. But now---he wouldn't believe. He would think I
came--because his father was dead--because he--he was what I thought
he was when I married him. ... Don't you see? He'd think I was coming
to him for the same reason. ... He'd think I was willing to give
myself to him--for that. ..."

Hilda took the slight form in her arms and rocked her to and fro,
while she thought. ... "Yes," she said, sorrowfully, "you can't go to
him now. ... It would look--oh, why couldn't his father have made a
will, as he was going to?... If he'd left his old money to charity or
something. ... We thought he had. ... But there has been no will.
Everything is Bonbright's. ..."

"I'm always--too--late..." Ruth said, quietly.




CHAPTER XXIX


Bonbright was in his own home again--in the house that had been his
father's, and that was now his. He stood in the room that had been
his since babyhood. He had not thought to stand there again, nor did
he know that the room and the house were his own. He had come from
the shops but a half hour before; had come from that room where his
father lay across his desk, one arm outstretched, the other shielding
his face. There had been no time to think then; no time to realize.
... What thought had come to him was one of wonder that the death of
his father could mean so little to him. Shock he felt, but not grief.
He had not loved his father. Yet a father is a vital thing in a son's
life. Bonbright felt this. He knew that the departing of a father
should stand as one of the milestones of life, marking a great
change. It marked no change for him. Everything would go on as it had
gone--even on the material side. It was inevitable that he should
remember his father's threat to disinherit him. Now the thing had
come--and it made little difference, for Bonbright had laid out his
life along lines of his own. ... His father would be carried to the
grave, would disappear from the scene--that was all.

He saw that the things were done which had to be done, and went home
to his mother, dreading the meeting. He need not have dreaded it, for
she met him with no signs of grief. If she felt grief she hid it
well. She was calm, stately, grave--but her eyes were not red with
weeping nor was her face drawn with woe. He wondered if his father
meant as little to his father's wife as it did to his father's son.
It seemed so. There had been no affectionate passage between
Bonbright and his mother. She had not unbent to him. He had hardly
expected her to, though he had been prepared to respond. ...

Now he was in his room with time to think--and there was strangely
little to think of. He had covered the ground already. His father was
dead. When Bonbright uttered that sentence he had covered the episode
completely. That was it--it was an EPISODE.

A servant came to the door.

"Mr. Richmond wishes to speak with you on the phone, Mr. Bonbright,"
the man said, and Bonbright walked to the instrument. Richmond had
been his father's counsel for many years.

"Bonbright?" asked Mr. Richmond.

"Yes."

"I have just had the news. I am shocked. It is a terrible thing."

"Yes," said Bonbright.

"I will come up at once--if you can see me. The death of a man like
your father entails certain consequences which cannot be considered
too soon. May I come?"

"If you think it is necessary," said Bonbright.

"It is necessary," said Mr. Richmond.

In twenty minutes Richmond was announced and Bonbright went to meet
him in the library. Richmond extended his hand with the appropriate
bearing for such an occasion. His handshake was a perfect thing,
studied, rehearsed, just as all his life was studied and rehearsed.
He had in stock a manner and a handshake and a demeanor which could
be instantly taken off the shelf and used for any situation which
might arise. Richmond was a ready man, an able man. On the whole, he
was a good man, as men go, but cut and dried.

"Your father was a notable man," he declared. "He will be missed."

Bonbright bowed.

"There will be a great deal for you to look after," said the lawyer,
"so I will be brief. The mass of detail can wait--until after--er--
until you have more leisure."

"I think, Mr. Richmond, it is my mother you wish to see, not myself.
I thought you would understand my position. I am surprised that you
do not, since you have been so close to my father. ... My father and
I did not agree on matters which both of us considered vital. There
were differences which could not be abridged. So I am here merely as
his son, not as his successor in any way."

"I don't understand."

"My father," said Bonbright, with a trace of impatience, "disowned
me, and--disinherited, I believe, is the word--disinherited me."

"Oh no! No!... Indeed no! You are laboring under a misapprehension.
... You are mistaken. I am glad to be able to relieve your mind on
that point. Nothing of the sort was done. I am in a position to know.
... I will admit your father discussed such action, but the matter
went no farther. Perhaps it was his intention to do as you say, but
he put it off. ... He seemed to have a prejudice against making a
will. As a matter of fact, he died intestate..."

"You mean--"

"I mean that your father's wealth--and it was considerable, sir--will
be disposed of according to the statutes of Descent and Distribution.
In other words, having failed to dispose of his property by
testament, the law directs its disposition. With the exception of
certain dower rights the whole vests in yourself."

Here was something to think of. Here was a new and astounding set of
circumstances to which he must adapt himself. ... He experienced no
leap of exultation. The news left him cold. Queerly, his thoughts in
that moment were of Ruth and of her great plan.

"If she had waited..." he thought.

No, he was glad she had not waited. He did not want her that way. ...
It was not her he wanted, but her love. He thought bitterly that he
would willingly exchange all that had become his for that one
possession. He could have anything--everything--he wanted now but
that. ...

"I am glad to be able to give you such news," said Mr. Richmond.

"I was thinking of something else," said Bonbright.

Richmond looked at the young man obliquely. He had heard that
Bonbright was queer. This rumor seemed not without foundation.
Richmond could not comprehend how a young man could think of anything
else when he had just learned that he was several tunes a
millionaire.

"Sit down," said Bonbright. "This, of course, makes a difference."

Richmond seated himself, and drew documents from his green bag. For
half an hour he discussed the legal aspects of the situation and
explained to Bonbright what steps must be taken at once.

"I think that is all that will be necessary to-day," he said,
finally.

"Very well. ... There is no reason why affairs may not go on for a
couple of days as they are--as if father were alive?"

"No, I see no reason why they should not."

"Very well, then. ... Will you see to it? The--the funeral will be on
Saturday. Monday I shall be in the office."

"I hope you will call upon me for any assistance or advice you find
necessary. ... Or for any service of whatsoever nature. ... Good
afternoon. ... Will you convey my sympathy to Mrs. Foote?"

The rest of that day, and of the days that followed it, Bonbright was
trying to find the answer to the question, What does this mean to me?
and to its companion question, What shall I do with it?

One paper Richmond had left in Bonbright's hands, as Richmond's
predecessors had left it in the hands of preceding Bonbright Footes.
It was a copy of the will of the first Bonbright Foote, and the basic
law, a sort of Salic law, a family pragmatic sanction for his
descendants, through time and eternity. It laid upon his descendants
the weight of his will with respect to the conduct of the business of
Bonbright Foote, Incorporated. Five generations had followed it
faithfully, deviating only as new conditions made deviation
necessary. It was all there, all set forth minutely. Bonbright could
visualize that first of his line from the reading of it--and he could
visualize his father. His father was the sort of man that will would
create. ... He considered himself. He was not off that piece. ...

His father had tried to press him in the family mold, and he
remembered those unbearable days. Now, from his remote grave the
first Bonbright Foote reached out with the same mold and laid his
hands on the hope of the line. ... Bonbright read the words many
times. His was the choice to obey or to disobey, to remain an
individual, distinct and separate from all other individuals since
the world began, or to become the sixth reincarnation of Bonbright
Foote I. ... The day following his father's burial he chose, not
rashly in haste, nor without studied reason. To others the decision
might not have seemed momentous; to Bonbright it was epoch-marking.
It did mark an epoch in the history of the Foote family. It was the
Family's French Revolution. It was Martin Luther throwing his inkpot
at the devil--and overturning the ages.

Bonbright's decision required physical expression. Most human
decisions require physical expression to give them effect. He had a
feeling as though six disembodied Bonbright Footes stood about in an
agony of anxiety, watching to see what he would do as he took the
emblematical paper in his hands. He tore it very slowly, tore it
again and again into ribbons and into squares, and let them flutter
into his wastebasket. ... If others had been present to assert that
they heard a groan he would not have denied it, for the ancestors
were very real to him then... their presence was a definite fact.

"There..." he said. The king was dead. Long live the king!

It was after that he had his talk with his mother. Perhaps he was
abrupt, but he dreaded that talk. Perhaps his diplomacy was faulty or
lacking. Perhaps he made mistakes and failed to rise to the
requirements of the conditions and of his relationship with her. He
did his best.

"Mother," he said, "we must talk things over."

She sat silently, waiting for him to speak.

"Whatever you wish," he said, "I shall do... if I can."

"There is a qualification?" she said.

"Suppose you tell me what you want done," he said.

"I want you to come to your senses and realize your position," she
said, coldly. "I want you to get rid of that woman and, after a
decent interval, marry some suitable girl. ..."

"I was discussing your affairs, mother, not mine. We will not refer
to my wife."

"All I want," she said, "is what I am entitled to as your father's
widow."

"This house, of course," he said. "You will want to stay here. I want
you to stay here."

"And you?"

"I prefer to live as I am."

"You mean you do not care to come back here?"

"Yes."

"You must. I insist upon it. You have caused scandal enough now. ...
People would talk."

"Mother, we might as well understand each other at once. I am not
Bonbright Foote VII. Let that be clear. I am Bonbright Foote. I am
myself, an individual. The old way of doing things is gone. ...
Perhaps you have heard of the family law--the first Bonbright's will.
... I have just torn it up."

She compressed her lips and regarded him with hostility. Then she
shrugged her shoulders.

"I suppose I must make the best of it. I realize I am powerless." She
realized it fully in that moment; realized that her son was a man, a
man with force and a will, and that it would be hopeless to try to
bring him to submit to her influence. "There is nothing for us to
discuss. I shall ask for what I need. ..."

"Very well," he said, not coldly, not sharply, but sorrowfully. There
was no need to try to approach nearer to his mother. She did not
desire it. In her the motherly instinct did not appear. She had never
given birth to a son; what she had done was to provide her husband
with an heir, and, that being done, she was finished with the affair.
...

He went from his mother to his own room, where he sat down at his
desk and wrote a brief letter to his wife. It was not so difficult to
compose as the other one had been, but it was equally succinct,
equally barren of emotion. Yet he was not barren of emotion as he
wrote it.

MY DEAR RUTH [he said],-My father is dead. This makes a very material
change in my financial condition, and the weekly sum I have been
sending you becomes inadequate. Hereafter a suitable check will be
mailed you each week until the year expires. At that time I shall
make a settlement upon you which will be perfectly satisfactory. In
the meantime, should you require anything, you have but to notify me,
or, if you prefer, notify Mr. Manley Richmond, who will attend to it
immediately.

This letter he mailed himself. ... Not many days later it was
returned to him with "Not Found" stamped upon it in red ink.
Bonbright fancied there must be some error, so he sent it again by
messenger. The boy returned to report that the apartment was vacant
and that no one could furnish the present address of the lady who had
occupied it. Bonbright sent to Ruth's mother, who could only inform
him that Ruth had gone away, she did not know where, and such goings-
on she never saw, and why she should be asked to bear more than she
had borne was a mystery..--

There was but one conclusion for Bonbright. Ruth had been too
impatient to wait for the year to expire and had gone away with
Dulac. ...

Hilda could have corrected that belief, but he did not see Hilda, had
not seen her, for his new duties and new problems and
responsibilities occupied him many more hours a day than any labor
union or legislature would have permitted an employee to be required
to work. His hours of labor did not stop with the eighth nor with the
tenth. ... There were days when they began with daylight and
continued almost to daylight again.

Ruth had gone with Dulac. ... She was hidden away. Not even Hilda
Lightener knew where she was, but Hilda knew why she had gone. ...
There is an instinct in most animals and some humans which compels
them to hide away when they suffer wounds. Hilda knew Ruth had crept
away because she had suffered the hardest to bear of all wounds--and
crushing of hope. ...

She had gone the morning after Bonbright's father died, leaving no
word but that she was going, and she had not gone far. It is simple
to lose oneself in a city. One may merely move to the next ward and
be lost to one's friends. Only chance will cause a meeting, and Ruth
was determined to guard against that chance.

She found a cheap, decent boarding house, among laboring people; she
found a new position... that was all. She had to live; to continue
was required of her, but it must be among strangers. She could face
existence where there were no pitying eyes; where there was none to
remind her of her husband. ... She hid away with her love, and
coddled it and held it up for herself to see. She lived for it. It
was her life. ... Even at her darkest moment she was glad she loved.
She devoted herself wholly to that love which had been discovered
just too late--which was not the wise nor the healthful thing to do,
as any physician could have informed her.




CHAPTER XXX


For a few days after the commencement of his reign Bonbright remained
quiescent. It was not through uncertainty, nor because he did not
know what he was going to do. It was because he wanted to be sure of
the best way of doing it. Very little of his time was spent in the
room that had been his father's and was now his own; he walked about
the plant, studying, scrutinizing, appraising, comparing. He did not
go about now as he had done with Rangar on the day his father
inducted him into the dignity of heir apparent and put a paper crown
on his head and a wooden scepter in his hand.

He was aware that the men eyed him morosely. Bitterness was still
alive in their hearts, and the recollection of suffering fresh in
their minds. They still looked at him as a sort of person his father
had made him appear, and viewed his succession as a calamity. The old
regime had been bad enough, they told one another, but this young
man, with his ruthlessness, his heartlessness, with what seemed to be
a savage desire to trample workingmen into unresisting, unprotesting
submission--this would be intolerable. So they scowled at him, and in
their homes talked to their wives with apprehension of dark days
ahead.

He felt their attitude. It could not be helped--yet. His work could
not be started with the men, it must start elsewhere. He would come
to the men later, in good time, in their proper order.

His third morning in the office he had called Malcolm Lightener on
the telephone.

"Is your proposition to manufacture ten thousand engines still open?"

"Yes."

"I'll take the contract--providing we can arrive at terms."

"I'll send over blue prints and specifications--and my cost figures.
Probably our costs will be lower than yours. ..."

"They won't be," said Bonbright, with a tightening of his jaw. "Can
you lend me Mershon for a while?" Mershon was Lightener's engineer,
the man who had designed and built his great plant.

"I can't, but I will."

"As soon as he can arrange it, please. I want to get started."

"He'll be there in half an hour."

Mershon came, a gray, beefy, heavy-faced man--with clear, keen,
seeing eyes.

"Mr. Lightener has loaned you to me, Mr. Mershon. It was a tremendous
favor, for I know what you can do."

Mershon nodded. He was a man who treasured up words. He must have had
a great store of them laid by, for in his fifty years he had used up
surprisingly few.

"This is what I want," Bonbright said. "First, I want a plant
designed with a capacity of twenty thousand Lightener engines. You
designed Lightener's engine plant--so you're about the one man to
give me one that will turn out more engines with less labor and at
lower cost than his. That's what I want."

Mershon's eyes lighted. "It will cost money," he said.

"I'll find the money; you give me the plant," Bonbright said. "And
second, I want a survey made of this present plant. I know a lot of
it is junk, but I'm not competent to say how much. You will know what
to do. If I have to junk the whole outfit I'll do it. I don't want to
waste money, but I want these mills to be the equal of any mills in
the country. ... Not only in efficiency, but as a place to work. I
want them safe. You will understand. I want the men considered. Give
them light and air. Wait till you see our wash rooms!" He shrugged
his shoulders. "It isn't enough to have the best machines," he said.
"I want the men to be able to do the best that's in them. ... You
understand?"

Mershon nodded.

"The next room is yours." Bonbright pointed toward his old office,
the one it had been the family custom to close on the accession of
the heir apparent, and never to reopen until a new heir was ready to
take up his duties. He felt a sort of pleasure in this profanation.
"You'll find it large enough. If you need more room, ask for it. ...
Get what assistants you need."

"No more interruption of production than necessary," said Mershon.

"Exactly. ... And we need that new plant in a hurry. I've taken a
contract to make ten thousand engines for Mr. Lightener this year."

It was that day that he called Rangar into the room. Hangar had been
uneasy, fearful, since his old employer had died. He had been an
important figure under the old order; a sort of shadow behind the
throne. He wondered what would happen to him now. More especially if
Bonbright had a notion of some of his duties under Bonbright's
father. He was not kept in suspense.

"Mr. Rangar," said Bonbright, "I have been looking through the files.
Some of your duties have become clear to me. I was familiar with
others. ... Perhaps my father required a man like yourself. I do not.
The old way of doing things here is gone, and you and I could not be
happy together. I shall direct the cashier to give you a check for
six months' salary..."

"You mean--"

"Exactly what I say."

"But--you don't understand the business. Who is going to run it while
you learn?"

"I don't want to know how this business was run. It's not going to be
run that way. ... There's nothing you could teach me, Mr. Hangar. ...
Good afternoon."

Rangar went white with rage. Animosity toward this young man he had
harbored since the beginning; it flowered into hatred. But he dared
not voice it. It was not in Hangar's nature to be open, to fight
without cover. If he spoke, the check for six months' salary might be
withdrawn, so, uttering none of the venom that flooded to his lips,
he went away. ... Rangar was the sort of man who vows to get even.
...

That evening Bonbright sat in his window and watched the army of his
employees surge out of the big gate and fill the street. Five
thousand of them. ... It was a sight that always fascinated him, as
it had that first evening when he saw them, and came to a realization
of what it meant to be overlord to such a multitude. More than ever
he realized it now--for he was their overlord. They were his men. It
was he who gave them the work that kept them alive; he who held their
happiness, their comfort, their very existence in the hollow of his
hand. ... And he knew that in every one of those five thousand
breasts burned resentment toward him. He knew that their most
friendly feeling toward him was suspicion.

It was easy to rebuild a plant; it was simple to construct new mills
with every device that would make for efficiency. That was not a
problem to awe him. It needed but the free expenditure of money, and
there was money in plenty. ... But here was a task and a problem
whose difficulty and vastness filled him with misgiving. He must turn
that five thousand into one smooth-running, willing whole. He must
turn their resentment, their bitterness, their suspicion, into trust
and confidence. He must solve the problem of capital and labor. ...
An older, more experienced man might have smiled at Bonbright--at his
daring to conceive such a possibility. But Bonbright dared to
conceive it; dared to set himself the task of bringing it about.

That would be his work, peculiarly. No one could help him with it,
for it was personal, appertaining to him. It was between Bonbright
Foote and the five thousand.

It was inevitable that he should feel bitterness toward his father,
for, but for his father, his work would now be enormously more
simple. If these men knew him as he was-knew of his interest in them,
of his willingness to be fair-he would have had their confidence from
the start. His father had made him appear a tyrant, without
consideration for labor; had made him a capitalist of the most
detestable type. It was a deep-seated impression. It had been proven.
The men had experienced it; had felt the weight of Bonbright's
ruthless hand. ... How could he make them believe it was not his
hand? How could he make them believe that the measures taken to crush
the strike had not been his measures; that they had been carried out
under his name but against his will? It sounded absurd even to
himself. Nobody would believe it.

Therefore he must begin, not at the beginning, but deeper than the
beginning. He could not start fairly, but under a handicap so great
as to make his chances of winning all but negligible. ... It would be
useless to tell his men that he had been but a figurehead. For him
the only course was to blot out what had gone--to forget it--and to
start against odds to win their confidence. It would be better to let
them slowly come to believe he was a convert-that there had been a
revolution in his heart and mind. Indeed, there was no other way. He
must show them by daily studied conduct that he was not what they
feared he was. ...

He did not know what he was himself. His contact with Malcolm
Lightener's workingmen had given him certain sympathies with the
theories and hopes of labor; but they had made him certain of
fallacies and unsoundness in other theories and ambitions. He was not
the romantic type of wealthy young man who, in stories, meets the
under dog and loves him, and is suddenly converted from being an out-
and-out capitalist to the most radical of socialists. It was not in
him to be radical, for he was steadied by a quietly running balance
wheel. ... He was stubborn, too. What he wanted was to be fair, to
give what was due--and to receive what was HIS due. ... He could not
be swayed by mawkish sentimental sympathy, nor could he be bullied.
Perhaps he was stiff-necked, but he was a man who must judge of the
right or wrong of a condition himself. Perhaps he was too much that
way, but his experiences had made him so.

If his men tried to bulldoze him they would find him immovable. What
he believed was right and just he would do; but he had his own set
notions of right and justice. He was sympathetic. His attitude toward
the five thousand was one of friendliness. He regarded them as a
charge and a responsibility. He was oppressed by the magnitude of the
responsibility. ... But, on the other hand, he recognized that the
five thousand were under certain responsibilities and obligations to
him. He would do his part, but he would demand their part of them.

His father had been against unions. Bonbright was against unions. His
reason for this attitude was not the reason of his father. It was
simply this: That he would not be dictated to by individuals who he
felt were meddling in his affairs. He had arrived at a definite
decision on this point: his mills should never be unionized. ... If
his men had grievances he would meet with them individually, or
committees sent by them-committees of themselves. He would not treat
with so-called professional labor men. He regarded them as an
impertinence. Whatever differences should arise must be settled
between his men and himself--with no outside interference. This was a
position from which nothing would move him. ... It will be seen he
was separated by vast spaces from socialism.

He called together his superintendents and department foremen and
took them into his confidence regarding his plans for improving and
enlarging the plant. They came, if not with an air of hostility, at
least with reserve, for they were nearer to the men than they were to
Bonbright. They shared the prejudices of the men. Some of them went
away from the meeting with all of their old prejudices and with a new
belief that Bonbright added hypocrisy to his other vices; some
withheld judgment, some were hopeful. Few gave him implicit belief.

When he was done describing the plans for the factory, he said:
"There is one more thing I want to speak about. It is as vital as the
other. ... We have recently gone through a strike which has caused
bitterness toward this institution on the part of the men. There has
been especial bitterness toward myself. I have no defense of myself
to make. It is too late to do that. If any of you men know the facts-
-you know them. On that point I have nothing to say. ... This is what
I want to impress on you men who are in authority. I want to be fair
to every man in this plant. I am going to give them a fit place to
work. Many parts of this plant are not now fit places. From every man
I shall demand a day's work for a day's pay, but no more. You are in
direct authority. I want each of you to treat his men with
consideration, and to have an eye for their welfare. Perhaps I shall
not be able to make the men feel toward me as I want them to feel,
but if it can be brought about, I want them to know that their
interests are my interests. ... That is all, except that to-morrow
notices will be posted in every department stating that my office
door is open to any man who works for me-any man may come to me with
complaint or with suggestion at any time. The notices will state that
I want suggestions, and that any man who can bring me an idea that
will improve his work or the work in his department or in the plant
will be paid for it according to its value. In short, I want the co-
operation of every man who draws wages from this concern. ..."

As they went back to their departments the men who left the meeting
discussed Bonbright, as he knew they would and hoped they would.

"It's a four flush," declared one old fellow, hotly.

"I don't know. ... Wait and see," said another. "He looked like he
meant it."

Wait and see! That was the general attitude. They took nothing on
trust, but put it squarely up to Bonbright to prove himself by his
actions.

Mershon came into the office. "How about this construction work?" he
asked. "Need an army of bricklayers. What about the unions?"

Was this question coming up so quickly? Bonbright frowned. His
attitude toward the unions must become public and would inevitably
raise another obstacle between himself and the men, but he was
determined on the point.

"A man has a right to join the Masons or the Knights of Columbus, or
the Bricklayers' Union," he said, presently. "That's for him to say,
but when he comes to work here he comes as an individual."

"Open shop?"

"Yes."

"You won't recognize any union? I want to know how I stand with them
at the beginning."

"I'll recognize no union," said Bonbright.

The card of a young man from Richmond's office was brought in.
Bonbright sent word for him to be admitted.

"I came about that Hammil accident case," said the young man. "Hammil
was hurt yesterday, pretty badly, and the report makes it look as if
we'd be stuck if the thing goes to a jury."

"I know nothing about it," said Bonbright, with a little shock. It
was possible, then, for a man to be maimed or killed in his own plant
and news of it to reach him after days or perhaps never. He made a
note to rectify THAT state of affairs. "You mean that this man Hammil
was hurt through our fault?"

"I'm afraid a jury would say so." The young man explained the
accident in detail. "He complained about the condition of his
machine, and his foreman told him he could stick to his job there or
quit."

"Forced him to work on an unsafe machine or quit?"

"Yes."

Bonbright stared at his blotter a moment. "What did you want to see
me about?"

"We'd better settle. Right now I can probably run up and put a wad of
bills under Hammil's nose and his wife's, and it'll look pretty big.
Before some ambulance-chaser gets hold of him. He hasn't been able to
talk until awhile ago, so nobody's seen him."

"Your idea is that we could settle for less than a jury would give
him?"

The young man laughed. "A jury'd give him four or five thousand,
maybe more. Doctor says the injury is permanent. I've settled more
than one like it for three or four hundred."

"The man won't be able to work again?"

"Won't be good for much."

"And we're responsible!" Bonbright said it to himself, not to the
young man. "Is this thing done often--settling these things for--what
we can squeeze them down to?"

"Of course." The young man was calloused. His job was to settle
claims and save money. His value increased as his settlements were
small.

"Where's Hammil?"

"At the General Hospital."

Bonbright got up and went to the closet for his hat. "Come on," he
said.

"You're not going up there, are you?"

"Yes."

"But--but I can handle it all right, Mr. Foote. There's no need to
bother you."

"I've no doubt you can handle it--maybe too well," said Bonbright.

They were driven to the hospital and shown up to Jim Hammil's room.
His wife was there, pale, tearless, by his bedside. Jim was bandaged,
groaning, in agony. Bonbright's lips lost their color. He felt
guilty. It was HE who had put this man where he was, had smashed him.
It was HIS fault.

He walked to the bedside. "Jim," he said, "I am Mr. Foote."

"I--know--you," said the man between teeth set to hold back his
groans.

"And I know you," said his wife. "I know you. ... What do you want
here?"

"I came to see Jim," said Bonbright. "I didn't know he was hurt until
a few minutes ago. ... It's useless to say I'm sorry."

"They made him work on that machine. He knowed it wasn't safe. ... He
had to work on it or lose his job. ..."

"I know that NOW, Mrs. Hammil. ... What was he earning?"

"Two-seventy-five a day. ... And now. ... How'll we live, with him in
the hospital and maybe never able to work again?"

"Here..." protested Hammil, weakly, glaring at Bonbright. "We'll come
out all right. He'll pay. ... You'll pay, that's what you will. A
jury'll make you pay. Wait till I kin see my lawyer. ..."

"You won't need any lawyer, Jim," said Bonbright. It was hard for him
to talk. He could not speak to these people as he wanted to, nor say
the words that would make their way through their despair and rage to
their hearts. "You won't need any lawyer," he repeated.

"If you think I'm--goin'--to sign--one of them--releases--you're
damn--mistaken," moaned the man.

"Jim," said Bonbright, "you needn't sign anything. ... What's done
can't be mended. ... It was bad. It was criminal..."

"Mr. Foote," protested the young lawyer.

"I'll attend to this," said Bonbright, shortly. "It's between Jim and
me. ... I'll make it as nearly right as it can be made. ... First
we'll have you out of this ward into a room. ... As long as you are
laid up your wife shall have your full pay every week, and then you
and I will have a talk to see what can be done. Only don't worry. ...
Don't worry, Mrs. Hammil. ..."

Hammil uttered a sound that was intended for a laugh. "You can't
catch me," he said, in a dreadful voice. "I'm--up to--them sharp
tricks. ... You're lyin'. ... Git out of here, both of you. ...
You're--jest here--to cheat me."

"You're wrong, Jim."

"I know--you and--your kind," Jim said, trying to lift himself on his
elbow. "I know--what you--done durin'--the strike. ... I had a baby--
and she--DIED. ... You killed her!" His voice rose almost to a
scream.

"Better go, sir," said a nurse. "He's hurting himself."

Bonbright gazed at her blankly. "How can I go?" he asked. "He won't
believe me. He's got to believe me. ..."

"You lie!... you lie!..." Hammil cried. "I won't talk-to you. ... My
lawyer'll--do my talkin'."

Bonbright paused a moment. Then he saw it would do no good to remain.
The man's mind was poisoned against him; was unable to conceive of a
man in Bonbright's place meaning him otherwise than treachery. ... It
went deeper than suspicion of an individual; it was suspicion of a
class.

"I'll do what I promised, Jim. ... That'll prove it to you."

"You--lie. ... You lie..." the man called after him, and Bonbright
heard the words repeated again and again as he walked down the long
corridor.




CHAPTER XXXI


Bonbright worked feverishly. These were the best days he had known
since he left college, but they were not happy days. He could not
forget Ruth--the best he could do was to prevent himself from
remembering too much, and so he worked. He demanded of himself more
than it is in a single man to give, but he accomplished an
astonishingly large part of it. Day and night he drove himself
without relaxation and without pause. If he stopped, the old feeling
of emptiness, of the futility of his existence, and the bitterness of
his fortune returned. His nature might have become warped, but for
the labor.

The building of the new shops he left to Mershon, knowing himself
incompetent. He knew what sort of shops he wanted; Mershon knew how
to produce them, and Mershon was dependable. Bonbright had implicit
confidence in the engineer's ability and integrity, and it was
justified. The new mills were rising. ...

Bonbright's part in that was enough to keep one man occupied, for,
however much he might leave to Mershon, there were countless details
that he must decide; innumerable points to be referred to him and
discussed. But his chief interest was not in producing a plant to
manufacture engines, but in producing a crew of men to operate the
plant; not merely hiring capable workingmen, but producing a
condition where himself and those working-men would be in accord;
where the men would be satisfied, happy in their work; a condition
millennial in that the known as labor unrest should be eliminated. He
had set himself to find a solution to the age-old problem of capital
and labor. ...

He had not realized how many elements entered into the matter, and
what a high degree of specialized knowledge must be brought to the
task. In the beginning he had fancied himself as capable of working
out the basis for ideal relations between him and his employees as
any other. He soon discovered himself to be all but unequipped for
the effort. ... It was a saving quality of Bonbright's that he would
admit his own futilities. Therefore he called to conference the
country's greatest sociologist, Professor Witzer.

The professor, a short, wabbling individual, with watery eyes that
could read print splendidly if it were held within six inches of
them, and who, when he did read, moved book or paper back and forth
in front of his spectacles in a droll, owlish, improbable way,
instead of letting his eyes travel across the lines of print, was
skeptical at first. He suspected Bonbright of being a youth
scratching the itch of a sudden and transient enthusiasm. But he
became interested. Bonbright compelled his interest, for he was
earnest, intense, not enthusiastic, not effervescing with underdone
theories.

"What you want to do, as I understand it," said the professor, "is
merely to revolutionize the world and bring on the millennium."

"What I want to do," said Bonbright, "is to formulate a plan that
will be fair to labor and fair to me. I want a condition where both
of us will be satisfied--and where both will know we are satisfied.
It can be done."

"Um!..." said the professor. "Are you, by chance, a socialist?"

"Far from it."

"What are your theories?"

"I haven't any theories. I want facts, working facts. There's no use
palavering to the men. What they want and what I want is something
concrete. I want to know what they want, and how much of it will be
good for them. I want something that will work in dollars and cents,
in days' work, in making life more comfortable for the women and
children at home. If merely paying wages will do it, then I'll pay
the wages. ..."

"It won't," said the professor. "But it 'll go quite some distance."

"It isn't a matter of sentiment with me," Bonbright said. "It's a
matter of business, and peace of mind, and all-around efficiency. I
don't mean efficiency in this plant, but efficiency in LIVING. ...
For the men and their families."

"It can't be done by giving them rest rooms with Turkish rugs nor
porcelain bathtubs, nor by installing a moving-picture show for them
to watch while they eat lunch," said the professor. "It can't be done
with money alone. It would work in isolated cases. Give some men a
sufficient wage and they would correct their ways of living; they
would learn to live decently, and they would save for the rainy day
and for old age. I don't venture an estimate of the proportion. ...
But there would be the fellows whose increased pay meant only that
much more to spend. Mighty little would filter through to improve the
conditions of their actual living. ... In any scheme there will have
to be some way of regulating the use of the money they earn--and
that's paternalism."

"Can it be made to work? It's your honest opinion I'm after."

"I don't believe it, but, young man, it will be the most interesting
experiment I ever engaged in. Have you any ideas?"

"My basic idea is to pay them enough so they can live in comfort.
..."

"And then you've got to find some machinery to compel them to live in
comfort."

"I'd like to see every employee of this concern the owner of his
home. I'd like to feel that no man's wife is a drudge. An
astonishingly large number of wives do washing, or work out by the
day. ... And boarders. The boarder is a problem."

"You HAVE been thinking," said the professor. "Do I understand that
you are offering me the chance to work with you on this experiment?"

"Yes."

"I accept. ... I never dreamed I'd have a chance to meddle with human
lives the way you seem to want to meddle with them. ..."

So they went to work, and day after day, week after week, their plan
grew and expanded and embraced unforeseen intricacies. Bonbright
approached it from the practical side always. The professor came to
view him with amazement--and with respect.

"I'm sticking my finger into the lives of twenty thousand human
beings!" the professor said to himself many times a day, with the joy
of the scientist. "I'm being first assistant to the world's greatest
meddler. That young man is headed for a place as one of the world's
leaders, or for a lamp-post and a rope. ... I wonder which. ..."

The thing that Bonbright asked himself many, many times was a
different sort of question. "Is this the sort of thing she meant?
Would she approve of doing this?"

He was not embarked on the project for Ruth's sake. It was not Ruth
who had driven him to it, but himself, and the events of his life.
But her presence was there. ... He was doing his best. He was doing
the thing he thought would bring about the condition he desired, and
he hoped she would approve if she knew. ... But whether she approved
or not, he would have persisted along his own way. ... If he had
never known her, never married her, he would have done the same
thing. Some day she would know this, and understand it. It would be
another irony for her to bear. The man she had married that she might
influence him to ameliorate the conditions of his workingmen was
doing far more than she had dreamed of accomplishing herself--and
would have done it if she had never been born. ...

Neither she nor Bonbright realized, perhaps would never realize, that
it is not the individual who brings about changes in the social
fabric. It is not fanatics, not reformers, not inspired leaders. It
is the labored working of the mass, and the working of the mass
brings forth and casts up fanatics, reformers, leaders, when it has
gestated them and prepared the way for their birth. The individual is
futile; his aims and plans are futile save as they are the outcome of
the trend of the mass. ...

Ruth was not so fortunate as Bonbright. Her work did not fill her
time nor draw her interest. It was merely the thing she did to earn
the necessities of life. She was living now in a boarding house on
the lower side of the city, where a room might be had for a sum
within her means. It was not a comfortable room. It was not a room
that could be made comfortable by any arrangement of its occupant.
But it was in a clean house, presided over by a woman of years and
respectable garrulity.

Six days of the week Ruth worked, and the work became daily more
exhausting, demanding more of her nervous organism as her physical
organism had less to give. She was not taking care of herself. It is
only those who cling to life, who are interested in life and in
themselves, who take care of their bodies as they should be taken
care of. She had been slight; now she was thin. No one now would have
dreamed of calling her the Girl with the Grin. She looked older,
lifeless, almost haggard at times. Her condition was not wholly the
result of unhappiness. It was due to lack of fresh air and exercise,
for she went seldom abroad. It was fear of meeting acquaintances that
shut her in her room--fear of meeting Bonbright, fear of encountering
Dulac. It was loneliness, too. She made no new acquaintances, and
went her way in solitude. She had not so much as a nodding
acquaintance with most of her fellow lodgers. Not one of them could
boast of conversation with her beyond the briefest passing of the
day. ... At first they gossiped about her, speculated about her, wove
crude stories about her. Some chose to think her exclusive, and
endeavored to show her by their bearing that they thought themselves
as good as she--and maybe better. They might have saved themselves
their trouble, for she never noticed. Lack of proper nourishment did
its part. Women seem prone to neglect their food. The housewife, if
her husband does not come home to the midday meal, contents herself
with a snack, hastily picked up, and eaten without interest. Ruth had
no appetite. She went to the table three times a day because a
certain quantity of food was a necessity. She did not eat at Mrs.
Moody's table, but "went out to her meals. ..." She ate anywhere and
everywhere.

Mrs. Moody alone had tried to approach Ruth. Ruth had been courteous,
but distant. She wanted no prying into her affairs; no seekers after
confidences; no discoverers of her identity. For gossip spreads, and
one does not know what spot it may reach. ...

"It hain't healthy for her to set in her room all the time," Mrs.
Moody said to the mercenary who helped with the cooking. "And it
hain't natural for a girl like her never to have comp'ny. Since she's
been here there hain't been a call at the door for her--nor a
letter."

"I hain't seen her but once or twict," said the mercenary. "If I was
to meet her face to face on the street, I hain't sure I'd know it was
her."

"She didn't look good when she come, and she's lookin' worse every
day. First we know we'll have her down on her back. ... And then
what?... S'pose she was to be took sudden? Who'd we notify?"

"The horspittle," said the mercenary, callously.

"She's sich a mite of a thing, with them big eyes lookin' sorry all
the while. I feel sort of drawed to her. But she won't have no truck
with me... nor nobody. ... She hain't never left nothin' layin'
around her room that a body could git any idee about her from.
Secretive, I call it."

"Maybe," said the mercenary, "she's got a past."

"One thing's certain, if she don't look better 'fore she looks worse,
she won't have a long future."

That seemed to be a true saying. Ruth felt something of it. It was
harder for her to get up of mornings, more difficult to drag herself
to work and hold up during the day. Sometimes she skipped the evening
meal now and went straight home to bed. All she wanted was to rest,
to lie down. ... One day she fainted in the office. ...

Her burden was harder to support because it included not grief alone,
but remorse, and if one excepts hatred, remorse is the most wearing
of the emotions. ... As she became weaker, less normal, it preyed on
her.

Then, one morning, she fainted as she tried to get out of bed, and
lay on the floor until consciousness returned. She dragged herself
back into bed and lay there, gazing dully up at the ceiling,
suffering no pain... only so tired. She did not speculate about it.
Somehow it did not interest her very much. Even not going to work
didn't bother her--she had reached that point.

Mrs. Moody had watched her going and coming for several days with
growing uneasiness. This morning she knew Ruth had not gone out, and
presently the woman slap-slapped up the stairs in her heelless
slippers to see about it. She rapped on Ruth's door. There was no
response. She rapped again. ...

"I know you're in there," she said, querulously. "Why don't you
answer?"

Inside, Ruth merely moved her head from side to side on the pillow.
She heard--but what did it matter?

Mrs. Moody opened the door and stepped inside. She was prepared for
what she saw.

"There you be," she said, with a sort of triumphant air, as of one
whose prophecy had been fulfilled to the letter, "flat on your back."

Ruth paid no attention.

"What ails you?"

No answer.

"Here now"--she spoke sharply--"you know who I be, don't you?"

"Yes," said Ruth.

"Why didn't you answer?"

"I am--so--tired," Ruth said, faintly.

"You can't be sick here. Don't you go doin' it. I hain't got no time
to look after sick folks." She might as well have spoken to the
pillow. Ruth didn't care. She had simply reached the end of her will,
and had given up. It was over. She was absolutely without emotion.

Mrs. Moody approached the bed and felt of Ruth's hand. She had
expected to find it hot. It was cold, bloodless. It gave the woman a
start. She looked down at Ruth's face, from which the big eyes stared
up at her without seeming to see her.

"You poor mite of a thing," said Mrs. Moody, softly. Then she seemed
to jack herself up to a realization that softness would not do and
that she could not allow such goings-on in her house. "You're sick,
and if I'm a judge you're mighty sick," she said, sharply. "Who's
goin' to look after you. Say?"

The tone stirred Ruth. ... "Nobody..." she said, after a pause.

"I got to notify somebody," said Mrs. Moody. "Any relatives or
friends?"

Ruth seemed to think it over as if the idea were hard to comprehend.

"Once I--had a--husband..." she said.

"But you hain't got him now, apparently. Have you got anybody?"

"... Husband..." said Ruth. "... husband. ... But he--went away. ...
No, _I_--went away... because it was--too late then. ... It was too
late--THEN, wasn't it?" Her voice was pleading.

"You know more about it than me," said Mrs. Moody. "I want you should
tell me somebody I can notify."

"I--loved him... and I didn't know it. ... That was--queer--wasn't
it?... He NEVER knew it. ..."

"She's clean out of her head," said Mrs. Moody, irritably, "and
what'll I do? Tell me that. What'll I do, and her most likely without
a cent and all that?... Why didn't you go and git sick somewheres
else? You could of. ..."

She wrung her hands and called Providence to witness that all the
arrows of misfortune were aimed at her, and always had been.

"You ought to be ashamed of yourself--a growd woman like you--makin'
me all this nuisance. I sha'n't put up with it. You'll go packin' to
the horspittle, that's what you'll do. Mark my word."

Mrs. Moody's method of packing Ruth off to the hospital was unique.
It consisted of running herself for the doctor. It consisted of
listening with bated breath to his directions; it consisted of giving
up almost wholly the duties--A conducting her boarding house, and in
making gruels and heating water and sitting in Ruth's room wielding a
fan over Ruth's ungrateful face. It consisted in spending of her
scant supply of money for medicines, in constant attendance and
patient, faithful nursing--accompanied by sharp scoldings and
recriminations uttered in a monotone guaranteed not to disturb the
sick girl. Perhaps she really fancied she was being hard and
unsympathetic and calloused. She talked as if she were, but no single
act was in tune with her words. ... She grumbled--and served. She
complained--and hovered over Ruth with clumsy, gentle hands. She was
afraid somebody might think her tender. She was afraid she might
think so herself. ... The world is full of Mrs. Moodys.

Ruth lay day after day with no change, half conscious, wholly
listless. ... It seemed to Mrs. Moody to be nothing but a waiting for
the end. But she waited for the end as though the sick girl were
flesh of her flesh, protesting to heaven against the imposition,
ceaselessly.




CHAPTER XXXII


If Bonbright's handling of the Hammil casualty created a good
impression among the men, his stand against the unions more than
counterbalanced it. He was able to get no nearer to the men. Perhaps,
as individuals became acquainted with him, there was less open
hostility manifested, but there remained suspicion, resentment, which
Bonbright was unable to convert into friendship and co-operation.

The professor of sociology peered frequently at Bonbright through his
thick spectacles with keen interest. He found as much enjoyment in
studying his employer as he did in working over his employer's plan.
Frequently he discussed Bonbright with Mershon.

"He's a strange young man," he said, "an instructive psychological
study. Indeed he is. One cannot catalogue him. He is made up of
opposites. Look you, Mershon, at his eagerness to better the
conditions of his men--that's why I'm abandoning classes of boys who
ought to be interested in what I teach them, but aren't--and then
place beside it his antagonism to unionism. ..."

Mershon was interested at that instant more in the practical aspects
of the situation. "The unions are snapping at our heels. Bricklayers,
masons, structural steel, the whole lot. I've been palavering with
them--but I'm about to the end of my rope. We've needed men and we've
got a big sprinkling of union men. Wages have attracted them. I'm
afraid we've got too many, so many the unions feel cocky. They think
they're strong enough to take a hand and try to force recognition on
us. ... He won't have it." Mershon shrugged his shoulders. "I've got
to the end of my rope. Yesterday I told him the responsibility was
one I didn't hanker for, and put it up to him. He's going to meet
with the labor fellows to-day. ... And we can look for fireworks."

"If I were labor," said the professor, "I think I should leave that
young man alone--until I saw where he headed. They're going to get
more out of him than organization could compel or even hope for. If
they prod him too hard they may upset things. He's fine capacity for
stubbornness."

The labor representatives were on their way to the office. When they
arrived they asked first for Mershon, who received them and notified
Bonbright.

"Show them in," he said. "We may as well have it over." There were
four of the men whom Mershon led through the door into Bonbright's
office, but Bonbright saw but one of them-Dulac!

The young man half rose from his chair, then sat down with his eyes
fixed upon the man into whose hands, he believed, his wife had given
herself. It was curious that he felt little resentment toward Dulac,
and none of that murderous rage which some men might have felt. ...

"Mr. Dulac," he said, "I want to--talk with you. Will you ask these--
other gentlemen if they will step outside for--a few moments. ... I
have a-personal matter to discuss with--Mr. Dulac."

Dulac was not at his ease. He had come in something like a spirit of
bravado to face Bonbright, and this turn to the event nonplused him.
However, if he would save his face he must rise to the situation.

"Just a minute, boys," he said to his companions, and with Mershon
they filed into the next room.

"Dulac," said Bonbright, in a voice that was low but steady, "is she
well and--happy?"

"Eh?..." Dulac was startled indeed.

"I haven't kept you to--quarrel," said Bonbright. "I hoped she would-
-wait the year before she went--to you, but it was hers to choose.
... Now that she has chosen--I want to know if it has--made her
happy. I want her to be happy, Dulac."

Dulac came a step nearer the desk. Something in Bonbright's voice and
manner compelled, if not his sympathy, at least something which
resembled respect.

"Do you mean you don't know where Ruth is?" he asked.

"No."

"You thought she was with me?"

"Yes."

"Mr. Foote, she isn't with me. ... I wish to God she was. I've seen
her only once since--that evening. It was by accident, on the street.
... I tried to see her. I found the place empty, and nobody knew
where she'd gone. Even her mother didn't know. I thought you had sent
her away."

"Dulac," said Bonbright, leaning forward as though drawn by spasmodic
contraction of tense muscles, "is this true?"

For once Dulac did not become theatrical, did not pose, did not reply
to this doubt, as became labor flouting capital. Perhaps it was
because the matter lay as close to his stormy heart as it did to
Bonbright's. "Yes," he said.

"Then where..."

"I don't--know."

"She's out there alone," said Bonbright, dully. "She's been out there
alone--all these months. She's so little. ... What made her go
away?... Something has happened to her. ..."

"Haven't you had any word--anything?" Dulac was becoming frightened
himself.

"Nothing--nothing."

Bonbright leaped to his feet and took two steps forward and two back.
"I've got to know," he said. "She must be found. ... Anything could
have happened. ..."

"It's up to us to find her," said Dulac, unconsciously, intuitively
coupling himself with Bonbright. They were comrades in this thing.
The anxiety was equally theirs.

"Yes. ... Yes."

"She wasn't the kind of a girl to--"

"No," said Bonbright, quickly, as if afraid to hear Dulac say the
words, "she wouldn't do THAT. ... Maybe she's just hiding away--or
hurt--or sick. I've got to know."

"Call back the boys. ... Let's get this conference over so we can get
at it."

Bonbright nodded, and Dulac stepped to the door. The men re-entered.

"Now, gentlemen," said Bonbright.

"We just came to put the question to you squarely, Mr. Foote. We
represent all the trades working on the new buildings. Are you going
to recognize the unions?"

"No," said Bonbright.

"More than half the men on the job are union."

"They're welcome to stay," said Bonbright.

"Well, they won't stay," said the spokesman. "We've fiddled along
with this thing, and the boys are mighty impatient. This is our last
word, Mr. Foote. Recognize the unions or we'll call off our men."

Bonbright stood up. "Good afternoon, gentlemen," said he.

With angry faces they tramped out, all but Dulac, who stopped in the
door. "I'm going to look for her," he said.

"If you find anything--hear anything--"

Dulac nodded. "I'll let you know," he said.

"I'll be--searching, too," said Bonbright. Mershon came in. "Here's a
letter--" he began.

Bonbright shook his head. "Attend to it--whatever it is. I'm going
out. I don't know when I shall be back. ... You have full authority.
..."

He all but rushed from the room, and Mershon stared after him in
amazement. Bonbright did not know where he was going, what he was
going to do. There was no plan, but his need was action. He must be
doing something, searching. ... But as he got into his machine he
recognized the futility of aimlessness. There was a way of going
about such things. ... He must be calm. He must enlist aid.

Suddenly he thought of Hilda Lightener. He had not seen her for
weeks. She had been close to Ruth; perhaps she knew something. He
drove to the Lightener residence and asked for her. Hilda was at
home.

"She's LOST," said Bonbright, as Hilda came into the room.

"What? Who are you talking about?"

"'Ruth. ... She's not with Dulac. He doesn't know where she is-she
was never with him."

"Did you think she was?" Hilda said, accusingly. "You--you're so--Oh,
the pair of you!"

"Do you know where she is?"

"I haven't seen nor heard of her since the day--your father died."

"Something must have happened. ... She wouldn't have gone away like
that--without telling anybody, even her mother. ..."

"She would," said Hilda. "She--she was hurt. She couldn't bear to
stay. She didn't tell me that, but I know. ... And it's your fault
for--for being blind."

"I don't understand."

"She loved you," said Hilda, simply. "No. ... She told me. She never-
-loved--me. It was him. She married me to--"

"I know what she married you for. I know all about it. ... And she
thought she loved him. She found out she didn't. But I knew it for a
long time," Hilda said, womanlike, unable to resist the temptation to
boast of her intuition. "It all came to her that day--and she was
going to tell you. ... She was going to do that--going to go to you
and tell you and ask you to take her back. ... She said she'd make
you believe her. ..."

"No," said Bonbright, "you're--mistaken, Hilda. She was my wife. ...
I know how she felt. She couldn't bear to have me pass close to her.
..."

"It IS true," Hilda said. "She was going to you. ... And then I came
and told her your father was dead. ... That made it all impossible,
don't you see?... Because you knew why she had married you, and you
would believe she came back to you because--you owned the mills and
employed all those men. ... That's what you WOULD have believed, too.
..."

"Yes," said Bonbright.

"And then--it was more than she could bear. To know she loved you and
had loved you a long time--and that you loved her. You do, don't
you?"

"I can't--help it."

"So that made it worse than anything that had gone before--and she
went away. She didn't tell even me, but I ought to have known. ..."

"And you haven't even a trace?"

"Bonbright, if you find her--what?"

"I don't know. ... I've just got to find her. I've got to know what's
happened. ..."

"Are you going to tell her you love her--and take her back?"

"She wouldn't want me. ... Oh, you think you are right, Hilda. But I
know. I lived with her for weeks and I saw how she felt. You're
wrong. ... No, I'll just FIND her. ..."

"And leave her as bad off as she was before."

"I'll do anything for her--you know that."

"Except the one thing she can't do without. ..."

"You don't understand," he said, wearily.

"And you're dense and blind--and that's what makes half the cruelty
in the world."

"Let's not--talk about that part of it, Hilda. Will you help me find
her?"

"No," said Hilda. "She's where she wants to be. I'm not going to
torture her by finding her for you--and then letting her slip back
again--into hopelessness. If you'll promise to love her and believe
she loves you--I'll try to find her."

Bonbright shook his head.

"Then let her be. No matter where she is, she's better off than she
would be if you found her--and she tried to tell you and you wouldn't
believe. ... You let her be."

"She may be hurt, or sick. ..."

"If she were she'd let somebody know," said Hilda, but in her own
mind was a doubt of this. She knew Ruth, she knew to what heights of
fanaticism Ruth's determination could rise, and that the girl was
quite capable, more especially in her state of overwrought nerves, of
dying in silence.

"I won't help you," she said, firmly.

Bonbright got up slowly, wearily. "I'm sorry," he said. "I thought
you--would help. ... I'll have to hunt alone, then. ..." And before
she could make up her mind to speak, to tell him she didn't mean what
she said, and that she would search with him and help him, he was
gone.

The only thing he could think of to do was to go once more to their
apartment and see if any trace of her could be picked up there.
Somebody must have seen her go. Somebody must have seen the furniture
going or heard where it was going. ... Perhaps somebody might
remember the name on the van.

He did not content himself with asking the janitor and his wife, who
could tell him nothing. He went from tenant to tenant. Few of them
remembered even that such a girl had lived there, for tenants in
apartment houses change with the months. But one woman, a spinster of
the sort who pass their days in their windows and fill their lives
meagerly by watching what they can see of their neighbors'
activities, gave a hint. She was sure she remembered that particular
removal on account of the young woman who moved looking so pale and
anxious. Yes, she was sure she did, because she told herself that
something must have happened, and it excited her to know that
something had happened so close to her. Evidently she had itched with
curiosity for days.

"It was a green van--I'm sure it was a green van," she said, "because
I was working a centerpiece with green leaves, and the van was almost
the same shade. ... Not quite the same shade, but almost. I held my
work up to the window to see, and the van was a little darker. ..."

"Wasn't there a name on it? Didn't you notice the name?"

The spinster concentrated on that. "Yes, there was a name. Seems to
me it began with an 'S,' or maybe it was a 'W.' Now, wasn't that name
Walters? No, seems more as if it was Rogers, or maybe Smith. It was
one of those, or something like it. Anyhow, I'm sure it began with a
'B.'..."

That was the nearest Bonbright came to gleaning a fact. A green van.
And it might not have been a green van. The spinster's memory seemed
uncertain. Probably she had worked more than one centerpiece, not all
with green leaves. She was as likely to have worked yellow flowers or
a pink design. ... But Bonbright had no recourse but to look for a
green van.

He drove to the office of a trucking and moving concern and asked if
there were green vans. The proprietor said HIS vans were always
yellow. Folks could see them farther and the paint wore better; but
all men didn't follow his judgment. Yes, there WERE green vans,
though not so good as his, and not so careful of the furniture. He
told Bonbright who owned the green vans. It was a storage house.

Bonbright went to the huge brick storage building, and persuaded a
clerk to search the records. A bill from Bonbright's pocketbook added
to the persuasion. ... An hour's wait developed that a green van
belonging to the company had moved goods from that address--and the
spinster was vindicated.

"Brought 'em here and stored 'em," said the young man. "Here's the
name--Frazer. Ruth Frazer."

"That's it," said Bonbright. "That's it."

"Storage hain't been paid. ... No word from the party. Maybe she'll
show up some day to claim 'em. If not, we'll sell 'em for the
charges."

"Didn't she leave any address?"

"Nope."

It had been only a cul de sac. Bonbright had come to the end of it,
and had only to retrace his steps. It had led him no nearer to his
wife. What to do now? He didn't see what he could do, or that anybody
could do better than he had done. ... He thought of going to the
police, but rejected that plan. It was repulsive to him and would be
repulsive to Ruth. ... He might insert a personal in the paper. Such
things were done. But if Ruth were ill she would not see it. If she
wanted to hide from him she would not reply.

He went to Mrs. Frazer, but Mrs. Frazer only sobbed and bewailed her
fate, and stated her opinion of Bonbright in many confused words. It
seemed to be her idea that her daughter was dead or kidnapped, and
sometimes she appeared to hold both notions simultaneously. ...
Bonbright got nothing there.

Discouraged, he went back to his office, but not to his work. He
could not work. His mind would hold no thought but of Ruth. ... He
must find her. He MUST. ... Nothing mattered unless he could find
her, and until he found her he would be good for nothing else.

He tried to pull himself together. "I've got to work," he said. "I've
got to think about something else. ..." But his will was unequal to
the performance. ... "Where is she?... Where is she?.." The question,
the DEMAND, repeated itself over and over and over.




CHAPTER XXXIII


There was a chance that a specialist, a professional, might find
traces of Ruth where Bonbright's untrained eyes missed them
altogether. So, convinced that he could do nothing, that he did not
in the least know how to go about the search, he retained a firm of
discreet, well-recommended searchers for missing persons. With that
he had to be content. He still searched, but it was because he had to
search; he had to feel that he was trying, doing something, but no
one realized the uselessness of it more than himself. He was always
looking for her, scanned every face in the crowd, looked up at every
window.

In a day or two he was able to force himself to work steadily,
unremittingly again. The formula of his patent medicine, with which
he was to cure the ills of capital-labor, was taking definite shape,
and the professor was enthusiastic. Not that the professor felt any
certainty of effecting a permanent cure; he was enthusiastic over it
as a huge, splendid experiment. He wanted to see it working and how
men would react to it. He had even planned to write a book about it
when it should have been in operation long enough to show what its
results would be.

Bonbright was sure. He felt that it would bridge the gulf between him
and his employees--that gulf which seemed now to be growing wider and
deeper instead of disappearing. Mershon's talk was full of labor
troubles, of threatened strikes, of consequent delays.

"We can finish thirty days ahead of schedule," he said to Bonbright,
"if the unions leave us alone."

"You think I ought to recognize them," Bonbright said. "Well, Mr.
Mershon, if labor wants to cut its own throat by striking--let it
strike. I'm giving it work. I'm giving it wages that equal or are
higher than union scale. They've no excuse for a strike. I'm willing
to do anything within reason, but I'm going to run my own concern.
Before I'll let this plant be unionized I'll shut it down. If I can't
finish the new shops without recognizing the unions, then they'll
stand as they are."

"You're the boss," said Mershon, with a shrug. "Do you know there's
to, be a mass meeting in the armory to-night? I think the agitator
people are going to try to work the men up to starting trouble."

"You think they'll strike?"

"I KNOW they will."

"All the men, or just the steel workers and bricklayers and temporary
employees on the new buildings?"

"I don't know. ... But if any of them go out it's going to make
things mighty bad."

"I'll see what can be done," said Bonbright.

The strike must be headed off if possible. It would mean a
monstrously costly delay; it might mean a forfeiture of his contract
with Lightener. It might mean that he had gone into this new project
and expended hundreds of thousands of dollars to equip for the
manufacture of engines in vain. ... The men must not strike.

There seemed no way to avert it but to surrender, and that Bonbright
did not even consider. ... He called in the professor.

"The plan is practically complete, isn't it?" he asked.

"I'd call it so. The skeleton is there and it's covered with flesh.
Some of the joints creak a little and maybe there's an ear or an
eyebrow missing. ... But those are details."

Bonbright nodded. "We'll try it out," he said. "To-night there's a
mass meeting--to stir our men up to strike. They mustn't strike, and
I'm going to stop them--with the plan."

"Eh?" said the professor.

"I'm going to the meeting," said Bonbright.

"You're--young man, you're crazy."

"I'm going to head off that strike. I'm going there and I'm going to
announce the plan."

"They won't let you speak."

"I think they will. ... Curiosity will make them."

The young man did understand something of human nature, thought the
professor. Curiosity would, most likely, get a hearing for him.

"It's dangerous," said he. "The men aren't in a good humor. There
might be some fanatic there--"

"It's a chance," said Bonbright, "but I've got to take it."

"I'll go with you," said the professor.

"No. I want to be there alone. This thing is between my men and me.
It's personal. We've got to settle it between ourselves."

The professor argued, pleaded; but Bonbright was stubborn, and the
professor had previous acquaintance with Bonbright's stubbornness.
Its quality was that of tool steel. Bonbright had made up his mind to
go and to go alone. Nobody could argue him out of it.

Bonbright did go alone. He went early in order to obtain a good
position in the hall, a mammoth gathering place capable of seating
three thousand people. He entered quietly, unostentatiously, and
walked to a place well toward the front, and he entered unobserved.
The street before the hall was full of arguing, gesticulating men.
Inside were other loudly talking knots, sweltering in the closeness
of the place. In corners, small impromptu meetings were listening to
harangues not on the evening's program. Already half the seats were
taken by the less emotional, more stolid men, who were content to
wait in silence for the real business of the meeting. There was an
air of suspense, of tenseness, of excitement. Bonbright could feel
it. It made him tingle; it gave him a Sensation of vibrating
emptiness resembling that of a man descending in a swift elevator.

Bonbright was not accustomed to public speaking, but, somehow, he did
not regard what he was about to say as a public speech. He did not
think of it as being kindred to oratory. He was there to talk
business with a gathering of his men, that was all. He knew what he
was going to say, and he was going to say it clearly, succinctly, as
briefly as possible.

In half an hour the chairs on the platform were occupied by chairman,
speakers, union officials. The great hall was jammed, and hundreds
packed aboat the doors in the street without, unable to gain
admission. ... The chairman opened the meeting briefly. Behind him
Bonbright saw Dulac, saw the members of the committee that had waited
on him, saw other men known to him only because he had seen their
pictures from time to time in the press. It was an imposing gathering
of labor thought.

Bonbright had planned what he would do. It was best, he believed, to
catch the meeting before it had been excited by oratory, before it
had been lashed to anger. It was calmer, more reasonable now than it
would be again. He arose to his feet.

"Mr. Chairman," he said, distinctly.

The chairman paused; Bonbright's neighbors turned to stare; men all
over the hall rose and craned their necks to have a view of the
interrupter.

"Sit down!...Shut up!" came cries from here and there. Then other
cries, angry cries. "It's Foote!... It's the boss! Out with him!...
Out with him!"

"Mr. Chairman," said Bonbright, "I realize this is unusual, but I
hope you will allow me to be heard. Every man here must admit that I
am vitally interested in what takes place here to-night. ... I come
in a friendly spirit, and I have something to say which is important
to me and to you. I ask you to hear me. I will be brief..."

"Out with him!... No!... Throw him out!" came yells from the floor.
The house was on its feet, jostling, surging. Men near to Bonbright
hesitated. One man reached over the shoulders of his fellows and
struck at Bonbright. Another shoved him back.

"Let him talk. ... Let's hear him," arose counter-cries. The meeting
threatened to get beyond control, to become a mob.

The chairman, familiar with the men he dealt with, acted quickly. He
turned to Dulac and whispered, then faced the hall with hands upheld.

"Mr. Foote is here uninvited," he said. "He requests to be heard. Let
us show him that we are reasonable, that we are patient. ... Mr.
Dulac agrees to surrender a portion of his time to Mr. Foote. Let us
hear what he has to say."

Bonbright pushed his way toward the aisle and moved forward. Once he
stumbled, and almost fell, as a man thrust out a foot to trip him--
and the hall laughed.

"Speak your piece. Speak it nice," somebody called, and there was
another laugh. This was healthier, safer.

Bonbright mounted the platform and advanced to its edge.

"Every man here," he said, "is an employee of mine. I have tried to
make you feel that your interests are my interests, but I seem to
have failed--or you would not be here. I have tried to prove that I
want to be something more than merely your employer, but you would
not believe me."

"Your record's bad," shouted a man, and there was another laugh.

"My record is bad," said Bonbright. "I could discuss that, but it
wouldn't change things. Since I have owned the mills my record has
not been bad. There are men here who could testify for me. All of you
can testify that conditions have been improved. ... But I am not here
to discuss that. I am here to lay before you a plan I have been
working on. It is not perfect, but as it stands it is complete
enough, so that you can see what I am aiming at. This plan goes into
effect the day the new plant starts to operate."

"Does it recognize the unions?" came from the floor.

"No," said Bonbright. "Please listen carefully. ... First it
establishes a minimum wage of five dollars a day. No man or woman in
the plant, in any capacity, shall be paid less than five dollars a
day. Labor helps to earn our profits and labor should share in them.
That is fair. I have set an arbitrary minimum of five dollars because
there must be some basis to work from. ..."

The meeting was silent. It was nonplused. It was listening to the
impossible. Every man, every employee, should be paid five dollars a
day!

"Does that mean common labor?"

"It means everyone," said Bonbright. "It means the man who sweeps out
the office, the man who runs the elevator, the man who digs a ditch.
Every man does his share and every man shall have his share.

"I want every man to live in decent comfort, and I want his wife and
babies to live in comfort. With these wages no man's wife need take
in washing nor work out by the day to help support the family. No man
will need to ask his wife to keep a boarder to add to the family's
earnings. ..."

The men listened now. Bonbright's voice carried to every corner and
cranny of the hall. Even the men on the platform listened
breathlessly as he went on detailing the plan and its workings.
Nothing like this had ever happened before in the world's history. No
such offer had ever been made to workingmen by an employer capable of
carrying out his promises. ... He told them what he wanted to do, and
how he wanted to do it. He told them what he wanted them to do to co-
operate with him--of an advisory board to be elected by the men,
sharing in deliberations that affected the employees, of means to be
instituted to help the men to save and to take care of their savings,
of a strict eight-hour day. ... No union had ever dreamed of asking
such terms of an employer.

"How do we know you'll do it?" yelled a man.

"You have my word," said Bonbright.

"Rats!"

"Shut up... shut up!" the objector was admonished.

"That's all, men," Bonbright said. "Think it over. This plan is going
into effect. If you want to share in it you can do so, every one of
you. ... Thank you for listening."

Bonbright turned and sat down in a chair on the platform, anxious,
watching that sea of faces, waiting to see what would happen.

Dulac leaped to his feet. "It's a bribe," he shouted. "It's nothing
but an attempt to buy your manhood for five dollars a day. We're
righting for a principle--not for money. ... We're--"

But his voice was drowned out. The meeting had taken charge of
itself. It wanted to listen to no oratory, but to talk over this
thing that had happened, to realize it, to weigh it, to determine
what it meant to them. Abstract principle must always give way to
concrete fact. The men who fight for principle are few. The fight is
to live, to earn, to continue to exist. Men who had never hoped to
earn a hundred dollars a month; men who had for a score of years
wielded pick and shovel for two dollars a day or less, saw, with eyes
that could hardly believe, thirty dollars a week. It was wealth! It
was that thirty dollars that gripped them now, not the other things.
Appreciation of them would come later, but now it was the voice of
money that was in their ears. What could a man do with five dollars a
day? He could live--not merely exist. ... The thing that could not be
had come to pass.

Dulac shouted, demanded their attention. He might as well have tried
to still the breakers that roared upon a rocky shore. Dulac did not
care for money. He was a revolutionist, a thinker, a man whose work
lay with conditions, not with individuals. Here every man was
thinking as an individual; applying that five dollars a day to his
own peculiar, personal affairs. ... Already men were hurrying out of
the hall to carry the amazing tidings home to their wives.

Dulac stormed on.

One thing was apparent to Bonbright. The men believed him. They
believed he had spoken the truth. He had known they would believe
him; somehow he had known that. The thing had swept them off their
feet. In all that multitude was not a man whose life was not to be
made easier, whose wife and children were not to be happier, more
comfortable, removed from worry. It was a moving sight to see those
thousands react. They were drunk with it.

An old man detached himself from the mass and rushed upon the
platform. "It's true?... It's true?" he said, with tears running down
his face.

"It's true," said Bonbright, standing up and offering his hand.

That was the first of hundreds. Some one shouted, hoarsely, "Hurrah
for Foote!" and the armory trembled with the shout.

The thing was done. The thing he had come to do was accomplished.
There would be no strike.

Dulac had fallen silent, was sitting in his chair with his face
hidden. For him this was a defeat, a bitter blow.

Bonbright made his way to him.

"Mr. Dulac," he said, "have you found her?"

"You've bribed them. ... You've bought them," Dulac said, bitterly.

"I've given them what is theirs fairly. ... Have you found any trace
of her?" Even in this moment, which would have thrilled, exalted
another, which would have made another man drunk with achievement,
Bonbright could think of Ruth. Even now Ruth was uppermost in his
mind. All this mattered nothing beside her. "Have you got any trace?"
he asked.

"No," said Dulac.




CHAPTER XXXIV


Next morning the whole city breakfasted with Bonbright Foote. His
name was on the tongue of every man who took in a newspaper, and of
thousands to whom the news of his revolutionary profit-sharing or
minimum-wage plan was carried by word of mouth. It was the matter of
wages that excited everyone. In those first hours they skipped the
details of the plan, those details which had taken months of labor
and thought to devise. It was only the fact that a wealthy
manufacturer was going to pay a minimum wage of five dollars a day.

The division between capital and labor showed plainly in the
reception of the news. Capital berated Bonbright; labor was inclined
to fulsomeness. Capital called him on the telephone to remonstrate
and to state its opinion of him as a half-baked idiot of a young
idealist who was upsetting business. Labor put on its hat and stormed
the gates of Bonbright Foote, Incorporated, seeking for five-dollar
jobs. Not hundreds of them came, but thousands. The streets were
blocked with applicants, every one eager for that minimum wage. The
police could not handle the mob. It was there for a purpose and it
intended to stay. ... When it was rebuked, or if some one tried to
tell them there were no jobs for it, it threw playful stones through
the windows. It was there at dawn; it still remained at dark.

A man who had an actual job at Bonbright Foote, Incorporated, was a
hero, an object of admiring interest to his friends and neighbors.
The thing touched him. There had been a miraculous laying on of
hands, under which had passed away poverty. So must the friends and
acquaintances of a certain blind man whose sight was restored by a
bit of divine spittle have regarded him.

Malcolm Lightener did not content himself with telephoning. He came
in person to say his say to Bonbright, and he said it with point and
emphasis.

"I thought I taught you some sense in my shop," he said, as he burst
into Bonbright's office. "What's this I hear now? What idiocy are you
up to? Is this infernal newspaper story true?"

"Substantially," said Bonbright.

"You're crazy. What are you trying to do? Upset labor conditions in
this town so that business will go to smash? I thought you had a
level head. I had confidence in you--and here you go, shooting off a
half-cocked, wild-eyed, socialistic thing! Did you stop to think what
effect this thing would have on other manufacturers?"

"Yes," said Bonbright.

"It'll pull labor down on us. They'll say we can afford to pay such
wages if you can."

"Well," said Bonbright, "can't you?"

"You've sowed a fine crop of discontent. It's damned unfair. You'll
have every workingman in town flocking to you. You'll get the pick of
labor."

"That's good business, isn't it?" Bonbright asked, with a smile.
"Now, Mr. Lightener, there isn't any use thrashing me. The plan is
going into effect. It isn't half baked. I haven't gone off half
cocked. It is carefully planned and thought out--and it will work.
There'll be flurries for a few days, and then things will come back
to the normal for you fellows. ... I wish it wouldn't. You're a lot
better able than I am to do what I'm doing, and you know it. If you
can, you ought to."

"No man has a right to go ahead deliberately and upset business."

"I'm not upsetting it. I'm merely being fair, and that's what
business should have been years ago. I'm able to pay a five-dollar
minimum, and labor earns it. Then it ought to have it. If you can pay
only a four-dollar minimum, then you should pay it. Labor earns it
for you. ... If there's a man whose labor earns for him only a dollar
and seventy-five cents a day, and that man pays it, he's doing as
much at I am ..."

"Bonbright," said Malcolm Lightener, getting to his feet, "I'm damn
disappointed in you."

"Come in a year and tell me so, then I'll listen to you," said
Bonbright.

"This nonsense won't last a year. It won't pan out. You'll have to
give it up, and then what? You'll be in a devil of a pickle, won't
you?"

"All you see is that five dollars. In a day or two the whole plan
will be ready. I'm having it printed in a pamphlet, and I'll send you
one. If you read it carefully and can come back and tell me it's
nonsense, then I don't know you. You might let me go under suspended
sentence at least."

Lightener shrugged his heavy shoulders. "Take one chunk of advice,"
he said. "Keep away from the club for a few days. If the boys feel
the way I do they're apt to take you upstairs and drown you in a
bathtub."

That was the side of the affair that Bonbright saw most during the
day. Telephone messages, letters, telegrams, poured in and cluttered
his desk. After a while he ceased to open them, for they were all
alike; all sent to say the same thing that Malcolm Lightener had
said. Capital looked upon him as a Judas and flayed him with the
sharpest words they could choose.

He read all the papers, but the papers reflected the estimated
thought of their subscribers. But to all of them the news was the big
news of the day. No headline was too large to announce it ... But the
papers, even those with capitalistic leanings, were afraid to be too
outspoken. Gatherers of news come to have some knowledge of human
nature, and these men saw deeper and farther and quicker than the
Malcolm Lighteners. They did not commit themselves so far but that a
drawing back and realignment would be possible ... No little part of
Bonbright's day was spent with reporters.

The news came to every house in the city. It came even to Mrs.
Moody's obscure boarding house, and the table buzzed with it. It
mounted the stairs with Mrs. Moody to the room where Ruth lay
apathetically in her bed, not stronger, not weaker, taking no
interest in life.

Mrs. Moody sat daily beside Ruth's bed and talked or read. She read
papers aloud and books aloud, and grumbled. Ruth paid slight
attention, but lay gazing up at the ceiling, or closed her eyes and
pretended she was asleep. She didn't care what was going on in the
world. What did it matter, for she believed she was going to leave
the world shortly. The prospect did not frighten her, nor did it
gladden her. She was indifferent to it.

Mrs. Moody sat down in her rocker and looked at Ruth triumphantly.
"I'll bet this'll interest you," she said. "I'll bet when I read this
you won't lay there and pertend you don't hear. If you do it's
because somethin's wrong with your brains, that's all I got to say.
Sick or well, it's news to stir up a corpse."

She began to read. The first words caught Ruth's attention. The words
were Bonbright Foote. She closed her eyes, but listened. Her thoughts
were not clear; her mental processes were foggy, but the words Mrs.
Moody was reading were important to her. She realized that. It was
something she had once been interested in--terribly interested in ...
She tried to concentrate on them; tried to comprehend. Presently she
interrupted, weakly:

"Who--who is it--about?" she asked.

"Bonbright Foote, the manufacturer. I read it out plain."

"Yes ... What is it? ... I didn't--understand very well. What did he
--do?"

Mrs. Moody began again, impatiently. This time it was clearer to Ruth
... Once she had tried to do something like this thing she was
hearing about--and that was why she was here ... It had something to
do with her being sick ... And with Bonbright ... It was hard to
remember.

"Even the floor sweepers git it," said Mrs. Moody, interpreting the
news story. "Everybody gits five dollars a day at least, and some
gits more."

"Everybody?..." said Ruth. "HE'S--giving it to--them?"

"This Mr. Foote is. Yes."

Suddenly Ruth began to cry, weakly, feebly. "I didn't help," she
wailed, like an infant. Her voice was no stronger. "He did it alone--
all alone ... I wasn't there ..."

"No, you was right here. Where would you be?"

"I wonder--if he did--it--for me?" Her voice was piteous, pleading.

"For you? What in goodness name have YOU got to do with it? He did it
for all them men--thousands of 'em. ... And jest think what it'll
mean to 'em! ... It'll be like heaven comin' to pass."

"What--have I--got to do--with it?" Ruth repeated, and then cried out
with grief. "Nothing ... Nothing. ... NOTHING. If I'd never been
born--he would have done it--just the same."

"To be sure," said Mrs. Moody, wondering. "I guess your head hain't
jest right to-day."

"Read ... Please read ... Every word. Don't miss a word."

"Well, I swan! You be int'rested. I never see the like." And the good
woman read on, not skipping a word.

Ruth followed as best she could, seeing dimly, but, seeing that the
thing that was surpassed was the thing she had once sacrificed
herself in a futile effort to bring about ... It was rather vague,
that past time in which she had striven and suffered ... But she had
hoped to do something ... What was it she had done? It was something
about Bonbright ... What was it? It had been hard, and she had
suffered. She tried to remember. ... And then remembrance came. She
had MARRIED him!

"He's good--so good," she said, tearfully. "I shouldn't have--done it
... I should have--trusted him ... because I knew he was good--all
the tune."

"Who was good?" asked Mrs. Moody.

"My husband," said Ruth.

"For the land sakes, WHAT'S HE got to do with this? Hain't you
listenin' at all?"

"I'm listening ... I'm listening. Don't stop."

Memory was becoming clearer, the fog was being blown away, and the
past was showing in sharper outline. Events were emerging into
distinctness. She stared at the ceiling with widening eyes, listening
to Mrs. Moody as the woman stumbled on; losing account of the reading
as her mind wandered off into the past, searching, finding,
identifying ... She had been at peace. She had not suffered. She had
lain in a lethargy which held away sharp sorrow and bitter thoughts.
They were now working their way through to her, piercing her heart.

"Oh!..." she cried. "Oh!..."

"What ails you now? You're enough to drive a body wild. What you
cryin'about? Say!"

"I--I love him ... That's why I hid away--because I--loved him--and--
and his father died. That was it. I remember now. I couldn't bear
it..."

"Was it him or his father you was in love with?" asked Mrs. Moody,
acidly.

"I--hated his father ... But when he died I couldn't tell HIM--I
loved him ... He wouldn't have believed me."

"Say," said Mrs. Moody, suddenly awakening to the possibilities of
Ruth's mood, "who was your husband, anyhow?"

Ruth shook her head. "I--can't tell you ... You'd tell him ... He
mustn't find me--because I--couldn't bear it."

The mercenary came to the door. "Young woman at the door wants to see
you," she said.

"Always somebody. Always trottin' up and down stairs. Seems like a
body never gits a chance to rest her bones. ... I'm comin'. Say I'll
be right downstairs."

In the parlor Mrs. Moody found a young woman of a world with which
boarding houses have little acquaintance. She glanced through the
window, and saw beside the curb a big car with a liveried chauffeur.
"I vum!" she said to herself.

"I'm Mrs. Moody, miss," she said. "What's wanted?"

"I'm looking for a friend ... I'm just inquiring here because you're
on my list of boarding houses. I guess I've asked at two hundred if
I've asked at one."

"What's your friend's name? Man or woman?"

"Her name is Foote. Ruth Foote."

"No such person here ... We got Richards and Brown and Judson, and a
lot of 'em, but no Foote."

The young woman sighed. "I'm getting discouraged. ... I am afraid
she's ill somewhere. It's been months, and I can't find a trace.
She's such a little thing, too. ... Maybe she's changed her name.
Quite likely."

"Is she hidin' away?" asked Mrs. Moody.

"Yes--you might say that. Not hiding because she DID anything, but
because--her heart was broken."

"Um! ... Little, was she? Sort of peaked and thin?"

"Yes."

"Ever hear the name of Frazer?"

"Why, Mrs. Moody--do you--That was her name before she was married
..."

"You come along with me," ordered Mrs. Moody, and led the way up the
stairs. "Be sort of quietlike. She's sick ..."

Mrs. Moody opened Ruth's door and pointed in. "Is it her?" she asked.

Hilda did not answer. She was across the room in an instant and on
her knees beside the bed.

"Ruth! ... Ruth! ... how could you?..." she cried.

Ruth turned her head slowly and looked at Hilda. There was no light
of gladness in her eyes; instead they were veiled with trouble.
"Hilda ..." she said. "I didn't--want to be found. Go away and--and
unfind me."

"You poor baby! ... You poor, absurd, silly baby!" said Hilda,
passing her arm under Ruth's shoulders and drawing the wasted little
body to her closely. "I've looked for you, and looked. You've no idea
the trouble you've made for me ... And now I'm going to take you
home. I'm going to snatch you up and bundle you off."

"No," said Ruth, weakly. "Nobody must know ... HE--mustn't know."

"Fiddlesticks!" "Do you know? ... He's done something--but it wasn't
for me ... I didn't have ANYTHING to do with it ... Do you know what
he's done?"

"I know," said Hilda. "It was splendid. Dad's all worked up over it,
but I think it is splendid just the same." "Splendid," said Ruth,
slowly, thoughtfully--"splendid ... Yes, that's it--SPLENDID." She
seemed childishly pleased to discover the word, and repeated it again
and again.

Presently she turned her eyes up to Hilda's face, lifted a white,
blue-veined, almost transparent hand, and touched Hilda's face. "I"--
she seemed to have difficulty to find a word, but she smiled like a
tiny little girl--"I--LIKE you," she said, triumphantly. "I'm--sorry
you came--but I--like you."

"Yes, dear," said Hilda. "You'd BETTER like me."

"But," said Ruth, evidently striving to express a differentiation,
"I--LOVE him."

Hilda said nothing; there was nothing she could say, but her eyes
brimmed at the pitifulness of it. She abhorred tears.

"I'm going now, dear," she said. "I'll fix things for you and be back
in no time to take you home with me. ... So be all ready."

"No..." said Ruth.

"Yes," Hilda laughed. "You'll help, won't you, Mrs. Moody?"

"Hain't no way out of it, I calc'late," said the woman.

"I won't be half an hour, Ruth ... Good-by."

But Ruth had turned away her face and would not answer.

"Say," said Mrs. Moody, in a fever of curiosity which could not be
held in check after they had passed outside of Ruth's room, "who is
she, anyhow? ... SOMEBODY, I'll perdict. Hain't she somebody?"

"She's Mrs. Foote ... Mrs. Bonbright Foote."

"I SWAN to man! ... And me settin' there readin' to her about him. If
it don't beat all ... Him with all them millions, and her without so
much as a nest like them beasts and birds of the air, in Scripture. I
never expected nothin' like this would ever happen to me ..." Hilda
saw that Mrs. Moody was glorifying God in her heart that this amazing
adventure, this bit out of a romance, had come into her drab life.

"Is that there your auto?" Mrs. Moody asked, peering out with awe at
the liveried chauffeur.

Hilda nodded. "And who be you, if I might ask?" Mrs. Moody said.

"My name is Hilda Lightener, Mrs. Moody."

"Not that automobile man's daughter--the one they call the automobile
king?"

"They call dad lots of things," said Hilda, with a sympathetic laugh.
She liked Mrs. Moody. "I'll be back directly," she said, and left the
good woman standing in an attitude suggestive of mental prostration,
actually, literally, gasping at this marvel that had blossomed under
her very eyes.

As Hilda's car moved away she turned, picked up her skirts, and ran
toward the kitchen. The news was bursting out of her. She was leaking
it along the way as she sought the mercenary to pour it into her
ears.

Hilda was driving, not to her home, but to Bonbright Foote's office.




CHAPTER XXXV


Dulac was on his way to Bonbright's office, too. He had started
before Hilda, and arrived before she did. If he had been asked why he
was going, it is doubtful if he could have told. He was going because
he had to go ... with fresh, burning hatred of Bonbright in his
heart. Bonbright was always the obstacle he encountered. Bonbright
upset every calculation, brought his every plan to nothing. He
believed it was Bonbright who had broken the first strike, that
strike upon which he had pinned such high hopes and which meant so
much to labor. It had been labor's entering wedge into the automobile
world. Then Bonbright had married the girl he loved. Some men can
hate sufficiently for that cause alone ... Ruth had loved him, but
she had married Bonbright. He had gone to take her away, had seen her
yielding to him--and Bonbright had come. Again he had intervened. And
now, better equipped than for the first strike, with chances of
success multiplied, Bonbright had intervened again--with his plan.

Dulac did not consider the plan; did not perceive virtues in it, not
the intent that was behind it. He did not see that labor was getting
without effort benefits that no strike could bring. He did not see
the happiness that it brought to thousands ... All he saw was that it
had killed the new strike before birth. He regarded it as sharp
practice, as a scheme for his undoing. The thing he fought for was
the principle of unionization. Nothing else mattered; not money, not
comforts, not benefits multiplied could weigh against it ... He was
true to his creed, honest in its prosecution, sincere in his beliefs
and in his efforts to uplift the conditions of his fellow men. He was
a fanatic, let it be admitted, but a fanatic who suffered and labored
for his cause. He was stigmatized as a demagogue, and many of the
attributes of the demagogue adhered to him. But he was not a
demagogue, for he sought nothing for himself ... His great
shortcoming was singleness of vision. He fixed his eyes upon one
height and was unable to see surrounding peaks.

So he was going to see the man who had come between him and every
object he had striven for ... And he did not know why. He followed
impulse, as he was prone to follow impulse. Restraints were not for
him; he was a thinker, he believed, and after his fashion he WAS a
thinker. ... But his mind was equipped with no stabilizer.

The impulse to see Bonbright was conceived in hatred and born in
bitterness. It was such an impulse as might, in its turn, breed
children capable of causing a calloused world to pause an instant on
its way and gasp with horror.

He brushed aside the boy who asked his business with Mr. Foote, and
flung open Bonbright's door. On the threshold he stood speechless,
tense with hatred, eyes that smoldered with jealousy, with rage,
burning in hollows dug by weariness and labor and privation. He
closed the door behind him slowly.

Bonbright looked up and nodded. Dulac did not reply, but stared,
crouching a little, his lips drawn a trifle back so that a glint of
white showed between.

"You wanted to see me?" said Bonbright.

"Yes," said Dulac. The word was spoken so low, so tensely, that it
hardly reached Bonbright's ears. That was all. He said no more, but
stood, haggard and menacing.

Bonbright eyed him, saw his drawn face, saw the hatred in his eyes.
Neither spoke, but eye held eye. Bonbright's hand moved toward a
button on his desk, but did not touch it. Somehow he was not
surprised, not startled, not afraid--yet he knew there was danger. A
word, a movement, might unleash the passions that seethed within
Dulac. ...

Dulac stepped one step toward Bonbright, and paused. The movement was
catlike, graceful. It had not been willed by Dulac. He had been drawn
that step as iron is drawn to magnet. His eyes did not leave
Bonbright's. Bonbright's eyes did not leave Dulac's.

It seemed minutes before Dulac made another forward movement, slowly,
not lifting his foot, but sliding it along the rug to its new
position. ... Then immovability. ... Then another feline approach.
Step after step, with that tense pause between--and silence!

It seemed to Bonbright that Dulac had been in the room for hours, had
taken hours to cross it to his desk. Now only the desk separated
them, and Dulac bent forward, rested his clenched fists on the desk,
and held Bonbright's eyes with the fire of his own. ... His body
moved now, bending from the waist. Not jerkily, not pausing, but
slowly, slowly, as if he were being forced downward by a giant hand.
... His face approached Bonbright's face. And still no word, no
sound.

Now his right hand moved, lifted. He supported his weight on his left
arm. The right moved toward Bonbright, opening as it moved. There was
something inexorable about its movement, something that seemed to say
it did not move by Dulac's will, but that it had been ordained so to
move since the beginning of time. ... It approached and opened,
fingers bent clawlike.

Bonbright remained motionless. It seemed to him that all the conflict
of the ages had centered itself in this man and himself; as if they
were the chosen champions, and the struggle had been left to them ...
He was ready. He did not seek to avoid it, because it seemed
inevitable. There could never be peace between him and Dulac, and,
strangely enough, the thought was present in his brain that the thing
was symbolical. He was the champion of his class, Dulac the champion
of HIS class--between which there could never be peace and agreement
so long as the classes existed. He wondered if himself and Dulac had
been appointed to abolish each other ... In those vibrating seconds
Bonbright saw and comprehended much.

The hand still approached.

Bonbright saw a change in the fire of Dulac's eyes, a sudden
upleaping blaze, and braced himself for the surge of resistance, the
shock of combat.

The door opened unheeded by either, and Hilda stood in the opening.

"I've found her ..." she said.

Dulac uttered a gulping gasp and closed his eyes, that had been
unwinking, closed his eyes a moment, and with their closing the
tenseness went out of him and he sagged downward so that his body
rested on the desk. Bonbright shoved himself back and leaped to his
feet.

"Hilda ..." he said, and his voice was tired; the voice of a man who
has undergone the ultimate strain.

"I've found her. She's ill--terribly ill. You must go to her."

Dulac raised himself and looked at her.

"You've found--HER?" he said.

"We must go to her," said Bonbright. He was not speaking to Hilda,
but to Dulac. It seemed natural, inevitable, that Dulac should go
with him. Dulac was IN this, a part of it. Ruth and Dulac and he were
the three actors in this thing, and it was their lives that pivoted
about it.

They went down to the car silently, Dulac breathing deeply, like a
man who had labored to weariness. In silence they drove to Mrs.
Moody's boarding house, and in silence they climbed the stairs to
Ruth's little room. Mrs. Moody hovered about behind them, and the
mercenary sheltered her body behind the kitchen door, her head
through the narrow opening, looking as if she were ready to pop it
back at the least startling movement.

The three entered softly. Ruth seemed to be sleeping, for her eyes
were closed and she was very still. Bonbright stood at one side of
her bed, Dulac stood across from him, but they were unconscious of
each other. Both were looking downward upon Ruth. She opened her
eyes, saw Bonbright standing over her; shut them again and moved her
head impatiently. Again she opened her eyes, and looked from
Bonbright to Dulac. Her lips parted, her eyes widened ... She pointed
a trembling finger at Dulac.

"Not you ..." she whispered. "Not you ... HIM." She moved her finger
until it indicated Bonbright.

"I don't--believe you're--really there ... either of you," she said,
"but I--like to have--YOU here. ... You're my husband. ... I LOVE my
husband," she said, and nodded her head.

"BONBRIGHT!" whispered Hilda.

He did not need the admonition, but was on his knees beside her,
drawing her to him. He could not speak. Ruth sighed as she felt his
touch. "You're REAL," she whispered. "Is he real, too?"

"We're all real, dear," said Hilda.

"Ask HIM--please to go away, then," Ruth said, pointing to Dulac. "I
don't want to--hurt him ... but he knows I--don't want him. ..."

"Ruth!" Dulac's utterance was a groan.

"YOU know--don't you, Hilda? ... I told you--a long time ago ... I
never loved--HIM at all. Isn't that--queer? ... I thought I did--but-
-I didn't know ... It was something else ... You won't feel too bad
... will you?"

Ruth looked up at Dulac. "I think you--better--go," she said, gently.
He looked at Ruth, looked at Bonbright. Then he turned and, stumbling
a little as he went, fumbling, to open the door, he obeyed. They
listened in silence to the slow descent of his footsteps; to the
opening and closing of the door, as Dulac passed out into the street.

"Poor--man!" said Ruth.

"Bonbright," said Hilda, "do you believe me now?"

He nodded. Hilda moved toward the door. "If you want her--cure her
... Nobody else can. You've got the only medicine." And she left them
alone.

"I--loved you all the time, but ... I didn't know ... I was going ...
to tell you ... and then HE died. Hilda knows. You'll ... believe me,
won't you?"

"Yes," was all he could say.

"And you ... want me back? You ... want me to be your ... wife?"

"Yes."

She sighed happily. "I'll get ... well, then ... It wasn't worth the
--the BOTHER before."

Neither of them spoke for a time; then she said: "I saw about it ...
in the papers. It was ... splendid." She used proudly the word Hilda
had found for her. "I was ... proud."

Then: "You haven't ... said anything. Isn't there ... something you
... ought to say?"

He bent over closer and whispered it in her ear, not once, but many
times. She shut her eyes, but her lips smiled and her fragile arms
drew his head even closer, her white hand stroked his cheek.

"If it's all ... REAL," she said, "why don't you ... KISS me?"

Words were not for him. Here was a moment when those symbols for
thoughts which we have agreed upon and called words, could not
express what must be expressed. As there are tones too high or too
low to be sounded on any instrument, so too there are thoughts too
tender to be expressed by words.

"Do you really ... WANT me?" She wanted to be told and told again and
again. "I'll be a ... nice wife," she said. "I promise ... I think
we'll be ... very happy."

"Yes," he said.

"I'll never ... run away any more ... will I?"

"No."

"You'll--keep me CLOSE?"

"Yes."

"Always?"

"Always."

"And you won't ... remember ANYTHING?"

"Nothing you don't want me to."

"Tell me again ... Put your ... lips close to my ear ... like that
... now tell me ...

"I think I'll ... sleep a little now ... You won't run away--while my
eyes are shut?"

"Never," he said.

"Let me put my head ... on your arm ... like that." She closed her
eyes, and then opened them to smile up at him. "This is ... so nice,"
she said.

When she opened her eyes again Bonbright was still there. He had not
moved ... Her smile blossomed for him again, and it was something
like her old, famous smile, but sweeter, more tender.

"I didn't ... dream a bit of it," she said to herself.

Hilda came in. "We're going to take her to our house, Bonbright, till
she gets well. That's best, isn't it?"

"Yes."

"You'll come, won't you, Ruth--now?"

"If my ... husband comes, too," she said.




CHAPTER XXXVI


Ruth's strength returned miraculously, for it had not been her body
that was ill, but her soul, and her soul was well now and at peace.
Once she had thought that just to be at peace would be perfect bliss.
She knew better now, for she was at peace, and happiness was hers,
besides. ... It was pitiful how she clung to Bonbright, how she held
him back when he would be leaving in the morning, and how she watched
the door for his return.

Bonbright knew peace, too. Sometimes it seemed that the conflict was
over for him and that he had sailed into a sure and quiet haven where
no storm could reach him again. All that he had lacked was his;
independence was his and the possibility of developing his own
individualism. The ghosts of the ancestors were laid; Bonbright
Foote, Incorporated, was no longer a mold that sought to grasp him
and turn him into something he was not and did not wish to be. The
plan was proving itself, demonstrating its right to be. Even Malcolm
Lightener was silenced, for the thing marched. It possessed vitals.
Nor had it upset business, as Lightener once predicted. After the
first tumult and flurry labor had settled back into its old ways. The
man who worked for Bonbright Foote was envied, and that man and his
family prospered and knew a better, bigger life. The old antagonism
of his employees had vanished and he had become a figure to call out
their enthusiasm. He believed every man of them was his friend, and,
more than that, he believed he had found the solution to the great
problem. He believed he had found a way of bringing together capital
and labor so that they would lie down together like the millennial
lion and lamb ... All these things made for peace. But in addition he
had Ruth's love, and that brought back his old boyishness, gave him
something he had never had before, even in his youth--a love of life,
a love of living, a gladness that awoke with him and accompanied him
through his days.

When Ruth was able to sit up they began to lay out their future and
to plan plans. Already Bonbright was building a home, and the delight
they had from studying architect's drawings and changing the position
of baths and doors and closets and porches was unbelievable. Then
came the furnishing of it, and at last the moving into it.

"I'm almost glad it all happened," Ruth said.

"Yes," said Bonbright.

"We'd have been just ordinarily happy if we'd started like other
folks ... But to have gone through that--and come into all this!..."

"Let's not remember it," he said. Then: "Ruth, you never make any
suggestions--about the men. You know lots more about them than I do.
You were born among them. But you just listen to me when I talk to
you, and never offer a word."

"I--I've been afraid to," she said.

"Afraid?"

"Yes ... Don't you remember? It might look as if ..."

He silenced her, knowing what was her thought. "I'll never think
anything about you that isn't so," he said.

"Then I'll suggest--when I think of anything. But I couldn't have
suggested any of it. I couldn't have dreamed it or hoped it. Nothing
I could have asked for them would have been as--as splendid as this."

"You believe in it?"

"More than that. I've been into their homes. They were glad to see
me. It was wonderful ... Enough to eat, cleanliness, mothers at home
with their babies instead of out washing, no boarders ... And no
worries. That was best. They showed me their bank accounts, or how
they were buying homes, and how quickly they were paying for them ...
And I was proud when I thought it was my husband that did it."

"Lightener says it looks all right now, but it won't last. He says
it's impractical."

"He doesn't know. How could he know as well as you do? Aren't you the
greatest man in the world?" She said it half laughingly, but in her
heart she meant it.

She loved to talk business with him; to hear about the new mills and
how they were turning out engines. She discussed his project of
enlarging further, perhaps of manufacturing automobiles himself, and
urged him on. "It will give work to more men, and bring more men
under the plan," she said. That was her way of looking at it.

Hilda came often, and laughed at them, but she loved them.

"Just kids," she jeered, but she envied them and told them so. And
then, because she deserved it, there came a man into her own life,
and he loved her and she loved him. Whereupon Bonbright and Ruth
returned her jeers with interest.

More than a year went by, a year of perfection. Then came a cloud on
the horizon. Even five dollars a day and the plan did not seem to
content labor, and Bonbright became aware of it. Dulac was active
again, or, rather, he had always been active. Discontent manifested
itself. ... It grew, and had to be repressed. In spite of the plan--
in spite of everything, a strike threatened, became imminent.

Ruth was thunderstruck, Bonbright bewildered. His panacea was not a
panacea, then. He studied the plan to better it, and did make minor
improvements, but in its elements it was just, fair. Bonbright could
not understand, but Malcolm Lightener understood and the professor of
sociology understood.

"I can't understand it," Bonbright said to them.

"Huh!" grunted Lightener. "It's just this: You're capital, and
they're labor. That's it in a nutshell."

"But it's fair."

"To be sure it's fair--as fair as a thing can be. But the fact
remains. Capital and labor can't get together as long as they remain
capital and labor."

The professor nodded. "You've said the thing that is, Mr. Lightener.
But it's deeper than that. It's the inevitable surge upward of
humanity. You rich men try to become richer. That is natural. You are
reaching up. Labor has a long way to climb to reach you, but it wants
to reach you. Perhaps it doesn't know it, but it does. As long as a
height remains to be climbed to, man will try to climb ... Class
exists. The employer class and the employed. So long as one man can
boss another; so long as one man can say to another, 'Do this or do
that,' there will be conflict. Everybody, whether he knows it or not,
wants to be his own boss, and by as much as he is bossed he is galled
... It can never be otherwise..."

"You knew from the beginning I would fail," said Bonbright.

"You haven't failed, my boy. You've done a fine thing; but you
haven't solved a problem that has no solution ... You are upset by it
now, but after a while you'll see it and the disappointment will go.
But you haven't failed ... I don't believe you will ever understand
all you have accomplished."

But Bonbright was unhappy, and he carried his unhappiness to his
wife. "It's all been futile," he said.

She was wiser than he. "No," she said, hotly, "it's been wonderful
... Nothing was ever more wonderful. I've told you how I've visited
them and seen the new happiness--seen women happy who had never been
happy before; seen comfort where there had been nothing but misery
... It's anything but futile, dear. You've done your best--and it was
a splendid best ... If it doesn't do all you hoped, that's no sign of
failure. I'm satisfied, dear."

"They want something I can't give them."

"Nobody can give it to them ... It's the way things are. I think I
understand what the professor said. It's true. You've given all you
can and done all you can. ... You'd have to be God and create a new
world ... Don't you see?"

"I see ..." he said. "I see ..."

"And you won't be unhappy about it?"

He smiled. "I'm like the men, I guess. I want more than the world has
to give me ... I don't blame them. They're right."

"Yes," she said, "they're right."

It was not many weeks after this that Bonbright sat, frightened and
anxious, in the library--waiting. A nurse appeared in the door and
motioned. She smiled, and a weight passed from his heart.

Bonbright followed into Ruth's room, pausing timidly at the door.

"Come in, come in, young man. I have the pleasure to announce the
safe arrival of Bonbright Foote VIII."

Bonbright looked at Ruth, who smiled up at him and shook her head.

"Not Bonbright Foote VIII, doctor," said Bonbright, as he moved
toward his wife and son. "Plain Bonbright Foote. There are no
numerals in this family. Everyone who is born into it stands by
himself ... I'll have no ancestors hanging around my boy's neck ..."

"I know it," Ruth whispered in his ear, "but I was a--a teeny bit--
afraid. He's OURS--but he's more than that. He's HIS OWN ... as God
wants every man to be."

THE END







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