The fire and pathos of Mrs. Dale's appeal should have given Eugene pause. H_hought once of going after her and making a further appeal, saying that h_ould try and get a divorce eventually and marry Suzanne, but he remembere_hat peculiar insistency of Suzanne on the fact that she did not want to ge_arried. Somehow, somewhere, somewhy, she had formulated this peculiar idea_r attitude, which whatever the world might think of it, was possible o_xecution, providing he and she were tactful enough. It was not such a wil_hing for two people to want to come together in this way, if they chose, h_hought. Why was it? Heaven could witness there were enough illicit an_eculiar relationships in this world to prevent society from becoming excite_bout one more, particularly when it was to be conducted in so circumspect an_ubtle a way. He and Suzanne did not intend to blazon their relationship t_he world. As a distinguished artist, not active, but acknowledged an_ccomplished, he was entitled to a studio life. He and Suzanne could mee_here. Nothing would be thought of it. Why had she insisted on telling he_other? It could all have been done without that. There was another peculia_deal of hers, her determination to tell the truth under all circumstances.
And yet she had really not told it. She had deceived her mother a long tim_bout him simply by saying nothing. Was this some untoward trick of fate's, merely devised to harm him? Surely not. And yet Suzanne's headstron_etermination seemed almost a fatal mistake now. He sat down brooding over it.
Was this a terrific blunder? Would he be sorry? All his life was in th_alance. Should he turn back?
No! No! No! Never! It was not to be. He must go on. He must! He must! So h_rooded.
The next of Mrs. Dale's resources was not quite so unavailing as the others, though it was almost so. She had sent for Dr. Latson Woolley, her famil_hysician—an old school practitioner of great repute, of rigid honor an_ather Christian principles himself, but also of a wide intellectual and mora_iscernment, so far as others were concerned.
"Well, Mrs. Dale," he observed, when he was ushered into her presence in th_ibrary on the ground floor, and extending his hand cordially, though wearily,
"what can I do for you this morning?"
"Oh, Dr. Woolley," she began directly, "I am in so much trouble. It isn't _ase of sickness. I wish it were. It is something so much worse. I have sen_or you because I know I can rely on your judgment and sympathy. It concern_y daughter, Suzanne."
"Yes, yes," he grunted, in a rather crusty voice, for his vocal cords wer_ld, and his eyes looked out from under shaggy, gray eyebrows which someho_espoke a world of silent observation. "What's the matter with her? What ha_he done now that she ought not to do?"
"Oh, doctor," exclaimed Mrs. Dale nervously, for the experiences of the las_ew days had almost completely dispelled her normal composure, "I don't kno_ow to tell you, really. I don't know how to begin. Suzanne, my dear preciou_uzanne, in whom I have placed so much faith and reliance has, has——"
"Well, tell me," interrupted Dr. Woolley laconically.
When she had told him the whole story, and answered some of his incisiv_uestions, he said:
"Well, I am thinking you have a good deal to be grateful for. She might hav_ielded without your knowledge and told you afterwards—or not at all."
"Not at all. Oh, doctor! My Suzanne!"
"Mrs. Dale, I looked after you and your mother before you and Suzanne. I kno_omething about human nature and your family characteristics. Your husband wa_ very determined man, as you will remember. Suzanne may have some of hi_raits in her. She is a very young girl, you want to remember, very robust an_igorous. How old is this Witla man?"
"About thirty-eight or nine, doctor."
"Um! I suspected as much. The fatal age. It's a wonder you came through tha_eriod as safely as you did. You're nearly forty, aren't you?"
"Yes, doctor, but you're the only one that knows it."
"I know, I know. It's the fatal age. You say he is in charge of the Unite_agazines Corporation. I have probably heard of him. I know of Mr. Colfax o_hat company. Is he very emotional in his temperament?"
"I had never thought so before this."
"Well, he probably is. Thirty-eight to thirty-nine and eighteen o_ineteen—bad combination. Where is Suzanne?"
"Upstairs in her room, I fancy."
"It might not be a bad thing if I talked to her myself a little, though _on't believe it will do any good."
Mrs. Dale disappeared and was gone for nearly three-quarters of an hour.
Suzanne was stubborn, irritable, and to all preliminary entreaties insiste_hat she would not. Why should her mother call in outsiders, particularly Dr.
Woolley, whom she knew and liked. She suspected at once when her mother sai_r. Woolley wanted to see her that it had something to do with her case, an_emanded to know why. Finally, after much pleading, she consented to com_own, though it was with the intention of showing her mother how ridiculou_ll her excitement was.
The old doctor who had been meditating upon the inexplicable tangle, chemica_nd physical, of life—the blowing hither and thither of diseases, affections, emotions and hates of all kinds, looked up quizzically as Suzanne entered.
"Well, Suzanne," he said genially, rising and walking slowly toward her, "I'_lad to see you again. How are you this morning?"
"Pretty well, doctor, how are you?"
"Oh, as you see, as you see, a little older and a little fussier, Suzanne, making other people's troubles my own. Your mother tells me you have fallen i_ove. That's an interesting thing to do, isn't it?"
"You know, doctor," said Suzanne defiantly, "I told mama that I don't care t_iscuss this, and I don't think she has any right to try to make me. I don'_ant to and I won't. I think it is all in rather poor taste."
"Poor taste, Suzanne?" asked Mrs. Dale. "Do you call our discussion of wha_ou want to do poor taste, when the world will think that what you want to d_s terrible when you do it?"
"I told you, mama, that I was not coming down here to discuss this thing, an_'m not!" said Suzanne, turning to her mother and ignoring Dr. Woolley. "I'_ot going to stay. I don't want to offend Dr. Woolley, but I'm not going t_tay and have you argue this all over again."
She turned to go.
"There, there, Mrs. Dale, don't interrupt," observed Dr. Woolley, holdin_uzanne by the very tone of his voice. "I think myself that very little is t_e gained by argument. Suzanne is convinced that what she is planning to do i_o her best interest. It may be. We can't always tell. I think the best thin_hat could be discussed, if anything at all in this matter can be discussed, is the matter of time. It is my opinion that before doing this thing tha_uzanne wants to do, and which may be all right, for all I know, it would b_est if she would take a little time. I know nothing of Mr. Witla. He may be _ost able and worthy man. Suzanne ought to give herself a little time t_hink, though. I should say three months, or six months. A great many afte_ffects hang on this decision, as you know," he said, turning to Suzanne. "I_ay involve responsibilities you are not quite ready to shoulder. You are onl_ighteen or nineteen, you know. You might have to give up dancing and society, and travel, and a great many things, and devote yourself to being a mother an_inistering to your husband's needs. You expect to live with him permanently, don't you?"
"I don't want to discuss this, Dr. Woolley."
"But you do expect that, don't you?"
"Only as long as we love each other."
"Um, well, you might love him for some little time yet. You rather expect t_o that, don't you?"
"Why, yes, but what is the good of this, anyhow? My mind is made up."
"Just the matter of thinking," said Dr. Woolley, very soothingly and in _oice which disarmed Suzanne and held her. "Just a little time in which to b_bsolutely sure. Your mother is anxious not to have you do it at all. You, a_ understand it, want to do this thing right away. Your mother loves you, an_t bottom, in spite of this little difference, I know you love her. It jus_ccurred to me that for the sake of good feeling all around, you might like t_trike a balance. You might be willing to take, say six months, or a year an_hink about it. Mr. Witla would probably not object. You won't be any the les_elightful to him at the end of that time, and as for your mother, she woul_eel a great deal better if she thought that, after all, what you decided t_o you had done after mature deliberation."
"Yes," exclaimed Mrs. Dale, impulsively, "do take time to think, Suzanne. _ear won't hurt you."
"No," said Suzanne unguardedly. "It is all a matter of whether I want to o_ot. I don't want to."
"Precisely. Still this is something you might take into consideration. Th_ituation from all outside points of view is serious. I haven't said so, but _eel that you would be making a great mistake. Still, that is only my opinion.
You are entitled to yours. I know how you feel about it, but the public is no_ikely to feel quite the same. The public is a wearisome thing, Suzanne, bu_e have to take it into consideration."
Suzanne stared stubbornly and wearily at her tormentors. Their logic did no_ppeal to her at all. She was thinking of Eugene and her plan. It could b_orked. What did she care about the world? During all this talk, she dre_earer and nearer the door and finally opened it.
"Well, that is all," said Dr. Woolley, when he saw she was determined to go.
"Good morning, Suzanne. I am glad to have seen you again."
"Good morning, Dr. Woolley," she replied.
She went out and Mrs. Dale wrung her hands. "I wish I knew what was to b_one," she exclaimed, gazing at her counselor.
Dr. Woolley brooded over the folly of undesired human counsel.
"There is no need for excitement," he observed after a time. "It is obvious t_e that if she is handled rightly, she will wait. She is in a state of hig_trung opposition and emotion for some reason at present. You have driven he_oo hard. Relax. Let her think this thing out for herself. Counsel for delay, but don't irritate. You cannot control her by driving. She has too stern _ill. Tears won't help. Emotion seems a little silly to her. Ask her to think, or better yet, let her think and plead only for delay. If you could get he_way for two or three weeks or months, off by herself undisturbed by you_leadings and uninfluenced by his—if she would ask him of her own accord t_et her alone for that time, all will be well. I don't think she will ever g_o him. She thinks she will, but I have the feeling that she won't. However, be calm. If you can, get her to go away."
"Would it be possible to lock her up in some sanatorium or asylum, doctor, until she has had time to think?"
"All things are possible, but I should say it would be the most inadvisabl_hing you could do. Force accomplishes nothing in these cases."
"I know, but suppose she won't listen to reason?"
"You really haven't come to that bridge yet. You haven't talked calmly to he_et. You are quarreling with her. There is very little in that. You wil_imply grow further and further apart."
"How practical you are, doctor," observed Mrs. Dale, in a mollified an_omplimentary vein.
"Not practical, but intuitional. If I were practical, I would never have take_p medicine."
He walked to the door, his old body sinking in somewhat upon itself. His old, gray eyes twinkled slightly as he turned.
"You were in love once, Mrs. Dale," he said.
"Yes," she replied.
"You remember how you felt then?"
"Be reasonable. Remember your own sensations—your own attitude. You probabl_eren't crossed in your affair. She is. She has made a mistake. Be patient. B_alm. We want to stop it and no doubt can. Do unto others as you would be don_y."
He ambled shufflingly across the piazza and down the wide steps to his car.
"Mama," she said, when after Dr. Woolley had gone her mother came to her roo_o see if she might not be in a mellower mood, and to plead with her furthe_or delay, "it seems to me you are making a ridiculous mess of all this. Wh_hould you go and tell Dr. Woolley about me! I will never forgive you fo_hat. Mama, you have done something I never thought you would do. I though_ou had more pride—more individuality."
One should have seen Suzanne, in her spacious boudoir, her back to her ova_irrored dressing table, her face fronting her mother, to understand he_ascination for Eugene. It was a lovely, sunny, many windowed chamber, an_uzanne in a white and blue morning dress was in charming accord with the ga_tmosphere of the room.
"Well, Suzanne, you know," she said, rather despondently, "I just couldn'_elp it. I had to go to someone. I am quite alone apart from you and Kinro_nd the children"—she referred to Adele and Ninette as the children whe_alking to either Suzanne or Kinroy—"and I didn't want to say anything t_hem. You have been my only confidant up to now, and since you have turne_gainst me——"
"I haven't turned against you, mama."
"Oh, yes you have. Let's not talk about it, Suzanne. You have broken my heart.
You are killing me. I just had to go to someone. We have known Dr. Woolley s_ong. He is so good and kind."
"Oh, I know, mama, but what good will it do? How can anything he might sa_elp matters? He isn't going to change me. You're only telling it to somebod_ho oughtn't to know anything about it."
"But I thought he might influence you," pleaded Mrs. Dale. "I thought yo_ould listen to him. Oh, dear, oh, dear. I'm so tired of it all. I wish I wer_ead. I wish I had never lived to see this."
"Now there you go, mama," said Suzanne confidently. "I can't see why you ar_o distressed about what I am going to do. It is my life that I am planning t_rrange, not yours. I have to live my life, mama, not you."
"Oh, yes, but it is just that that distresses me. What will it be after you d_his—after you throw it away? Oh, if you could only see what you ar_ontemplating doing—what a wretched thing it will be when it is all over with.
You will never live with him—he is too old for you, too fickle, too insincere.
He will not care for you after a little while, and then there you will be, unmarried, possibly with a child on your hands, a social outcast! Where wil_ou go?"
"Mama," said Suzanne calmly, her lips parted in a rosy, baby way, "I hav_hought of all this. I see how it is. But I think you and everybody else mak_oo much ado about these things. You think of everything that could happen, but it doesn't all happen that way. People do these things, I'm sure, an_othing much is thought of it."
"Yes, in books," put in Mrs. Dale. "I know where you get all this from. It'_our reading."
"Anyhow, I'm going to. I have made up my mind," added Suzanne. "I have decide_hat by September fifteenth I will go to Mr. Witla, and you might just as wel_ake up your mind to it now." This was August tenth.
"Suzanne," said her mother, staring at her, "I never imagined you could tal_n this way to me. You will do nothing of the kind. How can you be so hard? _id not know that you had such a terrible will in you. Doesn't anything I hav_aid about Adele and Ninette or Kinroy appeal to you? Have you no heart i_ou? Why don't you wait, as Dr. Woolley suggests, six months or a year? Why d_ou talk about jumping into this without giving yourself time to think? It i_uch a wild, rash experiment. You haven't thought anything about it, yo_aven't had time."
"Oh, yes, I have, mama!" replied Suzanne. "I've thought a great deal about it.
I'm fully convinced. I want to do it then because I told Eugene that I woul_ot keep him waiting long; and I won't. I want to go to him. That will make _lear two months since we first talked of this."
Mrs. Dale winced. She had no idea of yielding to her daughter, or letting he_o this, but this definite conclusion as to the time brought matters finall_o a head. Her daughter was out of her mind, that was all. It gave her not an_oo much time to turn round in. She must get Suzanne out of the city—out o_he country, if possible, or lock her up, and she must do it withou_ntagonizing her too much.