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Chapter 15

  • 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?"
  • "Yes."
  • "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.