For hours that night, until one, two, and three o'clock in the morning; fro_ive, six and seven on until noon and night of the next day, and the next da_fter that and the fourth day and the fifth day, the storm continued. It was _errible, siege, heart burning, heart breaking, brain racking; Mrs. Dale los_eight rapidly. The color left her cheeks, a haggard look settled in her eyes.
She was terrified, nonplussed, driven to extremities for means wherewith t_vercome Suzanne's opposition and suddenly but terribly developed will. No on_ould have dreamed that this quiet, sweet-mannered, introspective girl coul_e so positive, convinced and unbending when in action. She was as a flui_ody that has become adamant. She was a creature made of iron, a girl with _eart of stone; nothing moved her—her mother's tears, her threats of socia_stracism, of final destruction, of physical and moral destruction for Eugen_nd herself, her threats of public exposure in the newspapers, o_ncarceration in an asylum. Suzanne had watched her mother a long time an_oncluded that she loved to talk imposingly in an easy, philosophic, at time_ompous, way, but that really there was very little in what she said. She di_ot believe that her mother had true courage—that she would risk incarceratin_er in an asylum, or exposing Eugene to her own disadvantage, let alon_oisoning or killing her. Her mother loved her. She would rage terribly for _ime this way, then she would give in. It was Suzanne's plan to wear her down, to stand her ground firmly until her mother wearied and broke under th_train. Then she would begin to say a few words for Eugene, and eventually b_uch arguing and blustering, her mother would come round. Eugene would b_dmitted to the family councils again. He and Suzanne would argue it all ou_ogether in her mother's presence. They would probably agree to disagree in _ecret way, but she would get Eugene and he her. Oh, the wonder of that joyou_énouement. It was so near now, and all for a little courageous fighting. Sh_ould fight, fight until her mother broke, and then—Oh, Eugene, Eugene!
Mrs. Dale was not to be so easily overcome as Suzanne imagined. Haggard an_orn as she was, she was far from yielding. There was an actual physica_onflict between them once when Suzanne, in the height of an argument, decide_hat she would call up Eugene on the phone and ask him to come down and hel_er settle the discussion. Mrs. Dale was determined that she should not. Th_ervants were in the house listening, unable to catch at first the drift o_he situation, but knowing almost by intuition that there was a desperat_iscussion going on. Suzanne decided to go down to the library where the phon_as. Mrs. Dale put her back to the door and attempted to deter her. Suzann_ried to open it by pulling. Her mother unloosed her hands desperately, but i_as very difficult, Suzanne was so strong.
"For shame," she said. "For shame! To make your mother contest with you. Oh, the degradation"—the while she was struggling. Finally, angry, hysteric tear_oursed involuntarily down her cheeks and Suzanne was moved at last. It was s_bvious that this was real bitter heart-burning on her mother's part. Her hai_as shaken loose on one side—her sleeve torn.
"Oh, my goodness! my goodness!" Mrs Dale gasped at last, throwing herself in _hair and sobbing bitterly. "I shall never lift my head again. I shall neve_ift my head again."
Suzanne looked at her somewhat sorrowfully. "I'm sorry, mama," she said, "bu_ou have brought it all on yourself. I needn't call him now. He will call m_nd I will answer. It all comes from your trying to rule me in your way. Yo_on't realize that I am a personality also, quite as much as you are. I hav_y life to live. It is mine to do with as I please. You are not going t_revent me in the long run. You might just as well stop fighting with me now.
I don't want to quarrel with you. I don't want to argue, but I am a grow_oman, mama. Why don't you listen to reason? Why don't you let me show you ho_ feel about this? Two people loving each other have a right to be with eac_ther. It isn't anyone else's concern."
"Anyone else's concern! Anyone else's concern!" replied her mother viciously.
"What nonsense. What silly, love-sick drivel. If you had any idea of life, o_ow the world is organized, you would laugh at yourself. Ten years from now, one year even, you will begin to see what a terrible mistake you are trying t_ake. You will scarcely believe that you could have done or said what you ar_oing and saying now. Anyone else's concern! Oh, Merciful Heaven! Will nothin_ut even a suggestion of the wild, foolish, reckless character of the thin_ou are trying to do in your mind?"
"But I love him, mama," said Suzanne.
"Love! Love! You talk about love," said her mother bitterly and hysterically.
"What do you know about it? Do you think he can be loving you when he wants t_ome here and take you out of a good home and a virtuous social condition an_reck your life, and bring you down into the mire, your life and mine, an_hat of your sisters and brother for ever and ever? What does he know of love?
What do you? Think of Adele and Ninette and Kinroy. Have you no regard fo_hem? Where is your love for me and for them? Oh, I have been so afraid tha_inroy might hear something of this. He would go and kill him. I know h_ould. I couldn't prevent it. Oh, the shame, the scandal, the wreck, it woul_nvolve us all in. Have you no conscience, Suzanne; no heart?"
Suzanne stared before her calmly. The thought of Kinroy moved her a little. H_ight kill Eugene—she couldn't tell—he was a courageous boy. Still there wa_o need for any killing, or exposure, or excitement of any kind if her mothe_ould only behave herself. What difference did it make to her, or Kinroy, o_nybody anywhere what she did? Why couldn't she if she wanted to? The risk wa_n her head. She was willing. She couldn't see what harm it would do.
She expressed this thought to her mother once who answered in an impassione_lea for her to look at the facts. "How many evil women of the kind an_haracter you would like to make of yourself, do you know? How many would yo_ike to know? How many do you suppose there are in good society? Look at thi_ituation from Mrs. Witla's point of view. How would you like to be in he_lace? How would you like to be in mine? Suppose you were Mrs. Witla and Mrs.
Witla were the other woman. What then?"
"I would let him go," said Suzanne.
"Yes! Yes! Yes! You would let him go. You might, but how would you feel? Ho_ould anyone feel? Can't you see the shame in all this, the disgrace? Have yo_o comprehension at all? No feeling?"
"Oh, how you talk, mama. How silly you talk. You don't know the facts. Mrs.
Witla doesn't love him any more. She told me so. She has written me so. I ha_he letter and gave it back to Eugene. He doesn't care for her. She knows it.
She knows he cares for me. What difference does it make if she doesn't lov_im. He's entitled to love somebody. Now I love him. I want him. He wants me.
Why shouldn't we have each other?"
In spite of all her threats, Mrs. Dale was not without subsidiary thoughts o_hat any public move on her part would certainly, not probably, bu_mmediately involve. Eugene was well known. To kill him, which was really ver_ar from her thoughts, in any save a very secret way, would create _remendous sensation and involve no end of examination, discussion, excite_ublicity. To expose him to either Colfax or Winfield meant in realit_xposing Suzanne to them, and possibly to members of her own social set, fo_hese men were of it, and might talk. Eugene's resignation would caus_omment. If he left, Suzanne might run away with him—then what? There was th_hought on her part that the least discussion or whisper of this to anybod_ight produce the most disastrous results. What capital the so-called "Yellow"
newspapers would make out of a story of this character. How they would gloa_ver the details. It was a most terrible and dangerous situation, and yet i_as plain that something had to be done and that immediately. What?
In this crisis it occurred to her that several things might be done and tha_ithout great danger of irremediable consequences if she could only have _ittle time in which Suzanne would promise to remain quiescent and do so. I_he could get her to say that she would do nothing for ten days or five day_ll might be well for them. She could go to see Angela, Eugene, Mr. Colfax, i_ecessary. To leave Suzanne in order to go on these various errands, she ha_o obtain Suzanne's word, which she knew she could respect absolutely, tha_he would make no move of any kind until the time was up. Under pretense tha_uzanne herself needed time to think, or should take it, she pleaded an_leaded until finally the girl, on condition that she be allowed to phone t_ugene and state how things stood, consented. Eugene had called her up on th_econd day after the quarrel began and had been informed by the butler, a_rs. Dale's request, that she was out of town. He called the second day, an_ot the same answer. He wrote to her and Mrs. Dale hid the letter, but on th_ourth day, Suzanne called him up and explained. The moment she did so, he wa_orry that she had been so hasty in telling her mother, terribly so, but ther_as nothing to be done now save to stand by his guns. He was ready in a gri_ay to rise or fall so long as, in doing either, he should obtain his heart'_esire.
"Shall I come and help you argue?" he asked.
"No, not for five days. I have given my word."
"Shall I see you?"
"No, not for five days, Eugene."
"Mayn't I even call you up?"
"No, not for five days. After that, yes."
"All right, Flower Face—Divine Fire. I'll obey. I'm yours to command. But, oh, sweet, it's a long time."
"I know, but it will pass."
"And you won't change?"
"They can't make you?"
"No, you know they can't, dearest. Why do you ask?"
"Oh, I can't help feeling a little fearful, sweet. You are so young, so new t_ove."
"I won't change. I won't change. I don't need to swear. I won't."
"Very well, then, Myrtle Bloom."
She hung up the receiver, and Mrs. Dale knew now that her greatest struggl_as before her.
Her several contemplated moves consisted first, in going to see Mrs. Witla, unknown to Suzanne and Eugene, learning what she knew of how things were an_hat she would advise.
This really did no good, unless the fact that it fomented anew the rage an_rief of Angela, and gave Mrs. Dale additional material wherewith to belabo_ugene, could be said to be of advantage. Angela, who had been arguing an_leading with Eugene all this time, endeavoring by one thought and another t_waken him to a sense of the enormity of the offense he was contemplating, wa_ractically in despair. She had reached the point where she had become rathe_avage again, and he also. In spite of her condition, in spite of all sh_ould say, he was cold and bitter, so insistent that he was through with th_ld order that he made her angry. Instead of leaving him, as she might hav_one, trusting to time to alter his attitude, or to teach her the wisdom o_eleasing him entirely, she preferred to cling to him, for there was stil_ffection left. She was used to him, he was the father of her coming child, unwelcome as it was. He represented her social position to her, her station i_he world. Why should she leave him? Then, too, there was this fear of th_utcome, which would come over her like a child. She might die. What woul_ecome of the child?
"You know, Mrs. Dale," she said at one point significantly, "I don't hol_uzanne absolutely guiltless. She is old enough to know better. She has bee_ut in society long enough to know that a married man is sacred property t_nother woman."
"I know, I know," replied Mrs. Dale resentfully, but cautiously, "but Suzann_s so young. You really don't know how much of a child she is. And she ha_his silly, idealistic, emotional disposition. I suspected something of it, but I did not know it was so strong. I'm sure I don't know where she gets it.
Her father was most practical. But she was all right until your husban_ersuaded her."
"That may be all true," went on Angela, "but she is not guiltless. I kno_ugene. He is weak, but he will not follow where he is not led, and no gir_eed be tempted unless she wants to."
"Suzanne is so young," again pleaded Mrs. Dale.
"Well, I'm sure if she knew Mr. Witla's record accurately," went on Angel_oolishly, "she wouldn't want him. I have written her. She ought to know. H_sn't honest and he isn't moral as this thing shows. If this were the firs_ime he had fallen in love with another woman, I could forgive him, but i_sn't. He did something quite as bad six or seven years ago, and only tw_ears before that there was another woman. He wouldn't be faithful to Suzann_f he had her. It would be a case of blazing affection for a little while, an_hen he would tire and cast her aside. Why, you can tell what sort of a man h_s when he would propose to me, as he did here, that I should let him maintai_ separate establishment for Suzanne and say nothing of it. The idea!"
Mrs. Dale clicked her lips significantly. She considered Angela foolish fo_alking in this way, but it could not be helped now. Possibly Eugene had mad_ mistake in marrying her. This did not excuse him, however, in her eyes fo_anting to take Suzanne under the conditions he proposed. If he were free, i_ould be an entirely different matter. His standing, his mind, his manners, were not objectionable, though he was not to the manner born.
Mrs. Dale went away toward evening, greatly nonplussed by what she had see_nd heard, but convinced that no possible good could come of the situation.
Angela would never give him a divorce. Eugene was not a fit man morally fo_er daughter, anyhow. There was great scandal on the verge of exposure here i_hich her beloved daughter would be irretrievably smirched. In he_esperation, she decided, if she could do no better, she would try to dissuad_ugene from seeing Suzanne until he could obtain a divorce, in which case, t_void something worse, she would agree to a marriage, but this was only to b_ lip promise. The one thing she wanted to do was to get Suzanne to give hi_p entirely. If Suzanne could be spirited away, or dissuaded from throwin_erself away on Eugene, that would be the thing. Still, she proposed to se_hat a conversation with Eugene would do.
The next morning as he was sitting in his office wondering what the delay o_ive days portended, and what Suzanne was doing, as well as trying to fix hi_ind on the multitudinous details which required his constant attention, an_ere now being rather markedly neglected, the card of Mrs. Emily Dale was lai_n his table, and a few moments later, after his secretary had been dismissed, and word given that no one else was to be allowed to enter, Mrs. Dale wa_hown in.
She was pale and weary, but exquisitely dressed in a greenish blue silk an_icture hat of black straw and feathers. She looked quite young and handsom_erself, not too old for Eugene, and indeed once she had fancied he might wel_all in love with her. What her thoughts were at that time, she was not no_illing to recall, for they had involved the probable desertion or divorce, o_eath of Angela, and Eugene's passionate infatuation for her. All that wa_ver now, of course, and in the excitement and distress, almost completel_bliterated. Eugene had not forgotten that he had had similar sensations o_maginations at the time, and that Mrs. Dale had always drawn to him in _ympathetic and friendly way. Here she was, though, this morning coming upon _esperate mission no doubt, and he would have to contend with her as best h_ould.
The conversation opened by his looking into her set face as she approached an_miling blandly, though it was something of an effort. "Well," he said, i_uite a business like way, "what can I do for you?"
"You villain," she exclaimed melodramatically, "my daughter has told me all."
"Yes, Suzanne phoned me that she told you," he replied, in a conciliator_one.
"Yes," she said in a low, tense voice, "and I ought to kill you where yo_tand. To think that I should have ever harbored such a monster as you in m_ome and near my dear, innocent daughter. It seems incredible now. I can'_elieve it. That you should dare. And you with a dear, sweet wife at home, sick and in the condition she is in. I should think if you had any manhood a_ll any sense of shame! When I think of that poor, dear little woman, and wha_ou have been doing, or trying to do—if it weren't for the scandal you woul_ever leave this office alive."
"Oh, bother! Don't talk rot, Mrs. Dale," said Eugene quietly, thoug_rritably. He did not care for her melodramatic attitude. "The dear, darlin_ittle woman you speak of is not as badly off as you think, and I don't thin_he needs as much of your sympathy as you are so anxious to give. She i_retty well able to take care of herself, sick as she is. As for killing me, you or anyone else, well that wouldn't be such a bad idea. I'm not so much i_ove with life. This is not fifty years ago, though, but the nineteent_entury, and this is New York City. I love Suzanne. She loves me. We want eac_ther desperately. Now, an arrangement can be made which will not interfer_ith you in any way, and which will adjust things for us. Suzanne is anxiou_o make that arrangement. It is as much her proposition as it is mine. Wh_hould you be so vastly disturbed? You know a great deal about life."
"Why should I be disturbed? Why should I? Can you sit in this office, you _an in charge of all this vast public work, and ask me in cold blood why _hould be disturbed? And my daughter's very life at stake. Why should I b_isturbed and my daughter only out of her short dresses a little while ago an_ractically innocent of the world. You dare to tell me that she proposed! Oh, you impervious scoundrel! To think I could be so mistaken in any human being.
You, with your bland manners and your inconsistent talk of happy family life.
I might have understood, though, when I saw you so often without your wife. _hould have known. I did, God help me! but I didn't act upon it. I was take_y your bland, gentlemanly attitude. I don't blame poor, dear little Suzanne.
I blame you, you utterly deceiving villain and myself for being so silly. I a_eing justly rewarded, however."
Eugene merely looked at her and drummed with his fingers.
"But I did not come here to bandy words with you," she went on. "I came to sa_hat you must never see my daughter again, or speak of her, or appear wher_he might chance to be, though she won't be where you may appear, if I have m_ay, for you won't have a chance to appear anywhere in decent society ver_uch longer. I shall go, unless you agree here and now never to see o_ommunicate with her any more, to Mr. Colfax, whom I know personally, as yo_re aware, and lay the whole matter before him. I'm sure with what I know no_f your record, and what you have attempted to do in connection with m_aughter, and the condition of your wife, that he will not require you_ervices very much longer. I shall go to Mr. Winfield, who is also an ol_riend, and lay the matter before him. Privately you will be drummed out o_ociety and my daughter will be none the worse for it. She is so very youn_hat when the facts are known, you are the only one who will bear the odium o_his. Your wife has given me your wretched record only yesterday. You woul_ike to make my Suzanne your fourth or fifth. Well, you will not. I will sho_ou something you have not previously known. You are dealing with a desperat_other. Defy me if you dare. I demand that you write your farewell to Suzann_ere and now, and let me take it to her."
Eugene smiled sardonically. Mrs. Dale's reference to Angela made him bitter.
She had been there and Angela had talked of him—his past to her. What a mea_hing to do. After all, Angela was his wife. Only the morning before, she ha_een appealing to him on the grounds of love, and she had not told him of Mrs.
Dale's visit. Love! Love! What sort of love was this? He had done enough fo_er to make her generous in a crisis like this, even if she did not want t_e.
"Write you a statement of release to Suzanne?" he observed, his lip_urling—"how silly. Of course, I won't. And as for your threat to run to Mr.
Colfax, I have heard that before from Mrs. Witla. There is the door. Hi_ffice is twelve flights down. I'll call a boy, if you wish. You tell it t_r. Colfax and see how much farther it goes before you are much older. Run t_r. Winfield also. A lot I care about him or Mr. Colfax. If you want a grand, interesting discussion of this thing, just begin. It will go far and wide, _ssure you. I love your daughter. I'm desperate about her. I'm literally craz_bout her"—he got up—"she loves me, or I think she does. Anyhow, I'm bankin_ll on that thought. My life from the point of view of affection has been _ailure. I have never really been in love before, but I am crazy about Suzann_ale. I am wild about her. If you had any sympathy for an unhappy, sympathetic, emotional mortal, who has never yet been satisfied in a woman, you would give her to me. I love her. I love her. By God!"—he banged the des_ith his fist—"I will do anything for her. If she will come to me, Colfax ca_ave his position, Winfield can have his Blue Sea Corporation. You can hav_er money, if she wants to give it to you. I can make a living abroad by m_rt, and I will. Other Americans have done it before me. I love her! I lov_er! Do you hear me? I love her, and what's more, I'm going to have her! Yo_an't stop me. You haven't the brains; you haven't the strength; you haven'_he resources to match that girl. She's brighter than you are. She's stronger, she's finer. She's finer than the whole current day conception of society an_ife. She loves me and she wants to give herself to me, willingly, freely, joyously. Match that in your petty society circles if you can. Society! Yo_ay you will have me drummed out of it, will you? A lot I care about you_ociety. Hacks, mental light weights, money grubbers, gamblers, thieves, leeches—a fine lot! To see you sitting there and talking to me with your gran_ir makes me laugh. A lot I care for you. I was thinking of another kind o_oman when I met you, not a narrow, conventional fool. I thought I saw one i_ou. I did, didn't I—not? You are like all the rest, a narrow, petty slavis_ollower after fashion and convention. Well," he snapped his fingers in he_ace, "go on and do your worst. I will get Suzanne in the long run. She wil_ome to me. She will dominate you. Run to Colfax! Run to Winfield! I will ge_er just the same. She's mine. She belongs to me. She is big enough for me.
The Gods have given her to me, and I will have her if I have to smash you an_our home and myself and everyone else connected with me. I'll have her! I'l_ave her! She is mine! She is mine!" He lifted a tense hand. "Now you run an_o anything you want to. Thank God, I've found one woman who knows how to liv_nd love. She's mine!"
Mrs. Dale stared at him in amazement, scarcely believing her ears. Was h_razy? Was he really so much in love? Had Suzanne turned his brain? What a_stonishing thing. She had never seen him anything like this—never imagine_im capable of anything like it. He was always so quiet, smiling, bland, witty. Here he was dramatic, impassioned, fiery, hungry. There was a terribl_ight in his eyes and he was desperate. He must be in love.
"Oh, why will you do this to me?" she whimpered all at once. The terror of hi_ood conveying itself to her for the moment, and arousing a sympathy which sh_ad not previously felt. "Why will you come into my home and attempt t_estroy it? There are lots of women who will love you. There are lots mor_uited to your years and temperament than Suzanne. She doesn't understand you.
She doesn't understand herself. She is just young, and foolish and hypnotized.
You have hypnotized her. Oh, why will you do this to me? You are so much olde_han her, so much more schooled in life. Why not give her up? I don't want t_o to Mr. Colfax. I don't want to speak to Mr. Winfield. I will, if I have to, but I don't want to. I have always thought so well of you. I know you are no_n ordinary man. Restore my respect for you, my confidence in you. I ca_orgive, if I can't forget. You may not be happily married. I am sorry fo_ou. I don't want to do anything desperate. I only want to save poor, littl_uzanne. Oh, please! please! I love her so. I don't think you understand how _eel. You may be in love, but you ought to be willing to consider others. Tru_ove would. I know that she is hard and wilful and desperate now, but she wil_hange if you will help her. Why, if you really love her, if you have an_ympathy for me or regard for her future, or your own, you will renounce you_chemes and release her. Tell her you made a mistake. Write to her now. Tel_er you can't do this and not socially ruin her and me and yourself, and s_ou won't do it. Tell her that you have decided to wait until time has mad_ou a free man, if that is to be, and then let her have a chance of seeing i_he will not be happy in a normal life. You don't want to ruin her at thi_ge, do you? She is so young, so innocent. Oh, if you have any judgment o_ife at all, any regard, any consideration, anything, I beg of you; I beg a_er mother, for I love her. Oh!" Tears came into her eyes again and she crie_eakly in her handkerchief.
Eugene stared at her. What was he doing? Where was he going? Was he really a_ad as he appeared to be here? Was he possessed? Was he really so hard- hearted? Through her grief and Angela's and the threats concerning Colfax an_infield, he caught a glimpse of the real heart of the situation. It was as i_here had been a great flash of lightning illuminating a black landscape. H_aw sympathetically, sorrow, folly, a number of things that were involved, an_hen the next moment, it was gone. Suzanne's face came back, smooth, classic, chiseled, perfectly modeled, her beauty like a tightened bow; her eyes, he_ips, her hair, the gaiety and buoyancy of her motions and her smile. Give he_p! Give up Suzanne and that dream of the studio, and of joyous, continuous, delicious companionship? Did Suzanne want him to? What had she said over th_hone? No! No! No! Quit now, and her clinging to him. No! No! No! Never!! H_ould fight first. He would go down fighting. Never! Never! Never!
His brain seethed.
"I can't do it," he said, getting up again, for he had sat down after hi_revious tirade. "I can't do it. You are asking something that is utterl_mpossible. It can never be done. God help me, I'm insane, I'm wild over her.
Go and do anything you want to, but I must have her and I will. She's mine!
She's mine! She's mine!"
His thin, lean hands clenched and he clicked his teeth.
"Mine, mine, mine!" he muttered, and one would have thought him a villain in _heap melodrama.
Mrs. Dale shook her head.
"God help us both!" she said. "You shall never, never have her. You are no_orthy of her. You are not right in your mind. I will fight you with all th_eans in my power. I am desperate! I am wealthy. I know how to fight. Yo_hall not have her. Now we will see which will win." She rose to go and Eugen_ollowed her.
"Go ahead," he said calmly, "but in the end you lose. Suzanne comes to me. _now it. I feel it. I may lose many other things, but I get her. She's mine."
"Oh," sighed Mrs. Dale wearily, half believing him and moving towards th_oor. "Is this your last word?"
"It is positively."
"Then I must be going."
"Good-bye," he said solemnly.
"Good-bye," she answered, white faced, her eyes staring.
She went out and Eugene took up the telephone; but he remembered that Suzann_ad warned him not to call, but to depend on her. So he put it down again.