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Chapter 14

  • 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?"
  • "No."
  • "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.