The hells of love are bitter and complete. There were days after that when sh_atched him, followed him down the pleasant lane from the house to the water'_dge, slipping out unceremoniously after he had gone not more than eigh_undred feet. She watched the bridge at Riverwood at one and six, expectin_hat Eugene and his paramour might meet there. It just happened that Carlott_as compelled to leave town for ten days with her husband, and so Eugene wa_afe. On two occasions he went downtown—into the heart of the great city, anxious to get a breath of the old life that so fascinated him, and Angel_ollowed him only to lose track of him quickly. He did nothing evil, however, merely walked, wondering what Miriam Finch and Christina Channing and Norm_hitmore were doing these days and what they were thinking of him in his lon_bsence. Of all the people he had known, he had only seen Norma Whitmore onc_nd that was not long after he returned to New York. He had given her _arbled explanation of his illness, stated that he was going to work now an_roposed to come and see her. He did his best to avoid observation, however, for he dreaded explaining the reason of his non-productive condition. Miria_inch was almost glad that he had failed, since he had treated her so badly.
Christina Channing was in opera, as he quickly discovered, for he saw her nam_lazoned one day the following November in the newspapers. She was a star o_hose talent great hopes were entertained, and was interested almos_xclusively in her career. She was to sing in "Bohème" and "Rigoletto."
Another thing, fortunate for Eugene at this time, was that he changed hi_ork. There came to the shop one day an Irish foreman, Timothy Deegan, maste_f a score of "guineas," as he called the Italian day laborers who worked fo_im, who took Eugene's fancy greatly. He was of medium height, thick of bod_nd neck, with a cheerful, healthy red face, a keen, twinkling gray eye, an_tiff, closely cropped gray hair and mustache. He had come to lay th_oundation for a small dynamo in the engine room at Speonk, which was t_upply the plant with light in case of night work, and a car of his had bee_acked in, a tool car, full of boards, barrows, mortar boards, picks an_hovels. Eugene was amused and astonished at his insistent, defiant attitud_nd the brisk manner in which he was handing out orders to his men.
"Come, Matt! Come, Jimmie! Get the shovels now! Get the picks!" he heard hi_hout. "Bring some sand here! Bring some stone! Where's the cement now?
Where's the cement? Jasus Christ! I must have some cement. What arre ye al_oing? Hurry now, hurry! Bring the cement."
"Well, he knows how to give orders," commented Eugene to Big John, who wa_tanding near. "He certainly does," replied the latter.
To himself Eugene observed, hearing only the calls at first, "the Iris_rute." Later he discovered a subtle twinkle in Deegan's eyes as he stoo_razenly in the door, looking defiantly about. There was no brutality in it, only self-confidence and a hearty Irish insistence on the necessity of th_our.
"Well, you're a dandy!" commented Eugene boldly after a time, and laughed.
"Ha! ha! ha!" mocked Deegan in return. "If you had to work as harred as thes_en you wouldn't laugh."
"I'm not laughing at them. I'm laughing at you," explained Eugene.
"Laugh," said Deegan. "Shure you're as funny to me as I am to you."
Eugene laughed again. The Irishman agreed with himself that there was humor i_t. He laughed too. Eugene patted his big rough shoulder with his hands an_hey were friends immediately. It did not take Deegan long to find out fro_ig John why he was there and what he was doing.
"An arrtist!" he commented. "Shewer he'd better be outside than in. The loike_f him packin' shavin's and him laughin' at me."
Big John smiled.
"I believe he wants to get outside," he said.
"Why don't he come with me, then? He'd have a foine time workin' with th_uineas. Shewer 'twould make a man av him—a few months of that"—and he pointe_o Angelo Esposito shoveling clay.
Big John thought this worth reporting to Eugene. He did not think that h_anted to work with the guineas, but he might like to be with Deegan. Eugen_aw his opportunity. He liked Deegan.
"Would you like to have an artist who's looking for health come and work fo_ou, Deegan?" Eugene asked genially. He thought Deegan might refuse, but i_idn't matter. It was worth the trial.
"Shewer!" replied the latter.
"Will I have to work with the Italians?"
"There'll be plenty av work for ye to do without ever layin' yer hand to pic_r shovel unless ye want to. Shewer that's no work fer a white man to do."
"And what do you call them, Deegan? Aren't they white?"
"Shewer they're naat."
"What are they, then? They're not black."
"Nagurs, of coorse."
"But they're not negroes."
"Will, begad, they're naat white. Any man kin tell that be lookin' at thim."
Eugene smiled. He understood at once the solid Irish temperament which coul_raw this hearty conclusion. There was no malice in it. Deegan did no_nderestimate these Italians. He liked his men, but they weren't white. H_idn't know what they were exactly, but they weren't white. He was standin_ver them a moment later shouting, "Up with it! Up with it! Down with it! Dow_ith it!" as though his whole soul were intent on driving the last scrap o_trength out of these poor underlings, when as a matter of fact they were no_orking very hard at all. His glance was roving about in a general way as h_elled and they paid little attention to him. Once in a while he woul_nterpolate a "Come, Matt!" in a softer key—a key so soft that it was entirel_ut of keeping with his other voice. Eugene saw it all clearly. He understoo_eegan.
"I think I'll get Mr. Haverford to transfer me to you, if you'll let me come,"
he said at the close of the day when Deegan was taking off his overalls an_he "Eyetalians," as he called them, were putting the things back in the car.
"Shewer!" said Deegan, impressed by the great name of Haverford. If Eugen_ould accomplish that through such a far-off, wondrous personality, he must b_ remarkable man himself. "Come along. I'll be glad to have ye. Ye can jus_ake out the O. K. blanks and the repoarts and watch over the min sich time_s I'll naat be there and—well—all told, ye'll have enough to keep ye busy."
Eugene smiled. This was a pleasant prospect. Big John had told him during th_orning that Deegan went up and down the road from Peekskill on the main line, Chatham on the Midland Division, and Mt. Kisco on a third branch to New Yor_ity. He built wells, culverts, coal bins, building piers—small bric_uildings—anything and everything, in short, which a capable foreman-maso_ught to be able to build, and in addition he was fairly content and happy i_is task. Eugene could see it. The atmosphere of the man was wholesome. He wa_ike a tonic—a revivifying dynamo to this sickly overwrought sentimentalist.
That night he went home to Angela full of the humor and romance of his ne_ituation. He liked the idea of it. He wanted to tell her about Deegan—to mak_er laugh. He was destined unfortunately to another kind of reception.
For Angela, by this time, had endured the agony of her discovery to th_reaking point. She had listened to his pretences, knowing them to be lies, until she could endure it no longer. In following him she had discovere_othing, and the change in his work would make the chase more difficult. I_as scarcely possible for anyone to follow him, for he himself did not kno_here he would be from day to day. He would be here, there, and everywhere.
His sense of security as well as of his unfairness made him sensitive abou_eing nice in the unimportant things. When he thought at all he was ashamed o_hat he was doing—thoroughly ashamed. Like the drunkard he appeared to b_astered by his weakness, and the psychology of his attitude is so bes_nterpreted. He caressed her sympathetically, for he thought from her drawn, weary look that she was verging on some illness. She appeared to him to b_uffering from worry for him, overwork, or approaching malady.
But Eugene in spite of his unfaithfulness did sympathize with Angela greatly.
He appreciated her good qualities—her truthfulness, economy, devotion an_elf-sacrifice in all things which related to him. He was sorry that his ow_earning for freedom crossed with her desire for simple-minded devotion on hi_art. He could not love her as she wanted him to, that he knew, and yet he wa_t times sorry for it, very. He would look at her when she was not looking a_im, admiring her industry, her patience, her pretty figure, her geniality i_he face of many difficulties, and wish that she could have had a better fat_han to have met and married him.
Because of these feelings on his part for her he could not bear to see he_uffer. When she appeared to be ill he could not help drawing near to her, wanting to know how she was, endeavoring to make her feel better by thos_ympathetic, emotional demonstrations which he knew meant so much to her. O_his particular evening, noting the still drawn agony of her face, he wa_oved to insist. "What's the matter with you, Angelface, these days? You loo_o tired. You're not right. What's troubling you?"
"Oh, nothing," replied Angela wearily.
"But I know there is," he replied. "You can't be feeling well. What's ailin_ou? You're not like yourself at all. Won't you tell me, sweet? What's th_rouble?"
He was thinking because Angela said nothing that it must be a real physica_llness. Any emotional complaint vented itself quickly.
"Why should you care?" she asked cautiously, breaking her self-imposed vow o_ilence. She was thinking that Eugene and this woman, whoever she was, wer_onspiring to defeat her and that they were succeeding. Her voice had change_rom one of weary resignation to subtle semi-concealed complaint and offense, and Eugene noted it. Before she could add any more, he had observed, "Wh_houldn't I? Why, how you talk! What's the matter now?"
Angela really did not intend to go on. Her query was dragged out of her by hi_bvious sympathy. He was sorry for her in some general way. It made her pai_nd wrath all the greater. And his additional inquiry irritated her the more.
"Why should you?" she asked weepingly. "You don't want me. You don't like me.
You pretend sympathy when I look a little bad, but that's all. But you don'_are for me. If you could get rid of me, you would. That is so plain."
"Why, what are you talking about?" he asked, astonished. Had she found ou_nything? Was the incident of the scraps of paper really closed? Had anybod_een telling her anything about Carlotta? Instantly he was all at sea. Stil_e had to pretend.
"You know I care," he said. "How can you say that?"
"You don't. You know you don't!" she flared up suddenly. "Why do you lie? Yo_on't care. Don't touch me. Don't come near me. I'm sick of your hypocritica_retences! Oh!" And she straightened up with her finger nails cutting into he_alms.
Eugene at the first expression of disbelief on her part had laid his han_oothingly on her arm. That was why she had jumped away from him. Now he dre_ack, nonplussed, nervous, a little defiant. It was easier to combat rage tha_orrow; but he did not want to do either.
"What's the matter with you?" he asked, assuming a look of bewildere_nnocence. "What have I done now?"
"What haven't you done, you'd better ask. You dog! You coward!" flared Angela.
"Leaving me to stay out in Wisconsin while you go running around with _hameless woman. Don't deny it! Don't dare to deny it!"—this apropos of _rotesting movement on the part of Eugene's head—"I know all! I know more tha_ want to know. I know how you've been acting. I know what you've been doing.
I know how you've been lying to me. You've been running around with a low, vile wretch of a woman while I have been staying out in Blackwood eating m_eart out, that's what you've been doing. Dear Angela! Dear Angelface! Dea_adonna Doloroso! Ha! What have you been calling her, you lying, hypocritica_oward! What names have you for her, Hypocrite! Brute! Liar! I know wha_ou've been doing. Oh, how well I know! Why was I ever born?—oh, why, why?"
Her voice trailed off in a wail of agony. Eugene stood there astonished to th_oint of inefficiency. He could not think of a single thing to do or say. H_ad no idea upon what evidence she based her complaint. He fancied that i_ust be much more than had been contained in that little note which he ha_orn up. She had not seen that—of that he was reasonably sure—or was he? Coul_he have taken it out of the box while he was in the bath and then put it bac_gain? This sounded like it. She had looked very bad that night. How much di_he know? Where had she secured this information? Mrs. Hibberdell? Carlotta?
No! Had she seen her? Where? When?
"You're talking through your hat," he said aimlessly and largely in order t_et time. "You're crazy! What's got into you, anyhow? I haven't been doin_nything of the sort."
"Oh, haven't you!" she sneered. "You haven't been meeting her at bridges an_oad houses and street cars, have you? You liar! You haven't been calling her
'Ashes of Roses' and 'River Nymph' and 'Angel Girl.'" Angela was making u_ames and places out of her own mind. "I suppose you used some of the pe_ames on her that you gave to Christina Channing, didn't you? She'd lik_hose, the vile strumpet! And you, you dog, pretending to me—pretendin_ympathy, pretending loneliness, pretending sorrow that I couldn't be here! _ot you cared what I was doing or thinking or suffering. Oh, I hate you, yo_orrible coward! I hate her! I hope something terrible happens to you. If _ould get at her now I would kill her and you both—and myself. I would! I wis_ could die! I wish I could die!"
Eugene was beginning to get the measure of his iniquity as Angela interprete_t. He could see now how cruelly he had hurt her. He could see now how vil_hat he was doing looked in her eyes. It was bad business—running with othe_omen—no doubt of it. It always ended in something like this—a terrible stor_n which he had to sit by and hear himself called brutal names to which ther_as no legitimate answer. He had heard of this in connection with othe_eople, but he had never thought it would come to him. And the worst of it wa_hat he was guilty and deserving of it. No doubt of that. It lowered him i_is own estimation. It lowered her in his and her own because she had to figh_his way. Why did he do it? Why did he drag her into such a situation? It wa_reaking down that sense of pride in himself which was the only sustainin_ower a man had before the gaze of the world. Why did he let himself int_hese situations? Did he really love Carlotta? Did he want pleasure enough t_ndure such abuse as this? This was a terrible scene. And where would it end?
His nerves were tingling, his brain fairly aching. If he could only conque_his desire for another type and be faithful, and yet how dreadful tha_eemed! To confine himself in all his thoughts to just Angela! It was no_ossible. He thought of these things, standing there enduring the brunt o_his storm. It was a terrible ordeal, but it was not wholly reformatory eve_t that.
"What's the use of your carrying on like that, Angela?" he said grimly, afte_e had listened to all this. "It isn't as bad as you think. I'm not a liar, and I'm not a dog! You must have pieced that note I threw in the paper bo_ogether and read it. When did you do it?"
He was curious about that and about how much she knew. What were he_ntentions in regard to him? What in regard to Carlotta? What would she d_ext?
"When did I do it?" she replied. "When did I do it? What has that to do wit_t? What right have you to ask? Where is this woman, that's what I want t_now? I want to find her. I want to face her. I want to tell her what _retched beast she is. I'll show her how to come and steal another woman'_usband. I'll kill her. I'll kill her and I'll kill you, too. Do you hear?
I'll kill you!" And she advanced on him defiantly, blazingly.
Eugene was astounded. He had never seen such rage in any woman. It wa_onderful, fascinating, something like a great lightning-riven storm. Angel_as capable of hurling thunderbolts of wrath. He had not known that. It raise_er in his estimation—made her really more attractive than she would otherwis_ave been, for power, however displayed, is fascinating. She was so little, s_rim, so determined! It was in its way a test of great capability. And h_iked her for it even though he resented her abuse.
"No, no, Angela," he said sympathetically and with a keen wish to alleviat_er sorrow. "You would not do anything like that. You couldn't!"
"I will! I will!" she declared. "I'll kill her and you, too!"
And then having reached this tremendous height she suddenly broke. Eugene'_ig, sympathetic understanding was after all too much for her. His broodin_atience in the midst of her wrath, his innate sorrow for what he could not o_ould not help (it was written all over his face), his very obviou_resentation of the fact by his attitude that he knew that she loved him i_pite of this, was too much for her. It was like beating her hands against _tone. She might kill him and this woman, whoever she was, but she would no_ave changed his attitude toward her, and that was what she wanted. A grea_orrent of heart-breaking sobs broke from her, shaking her frame like a reed.
She threw her arms and head upon the kitchen table, falling to her knees, an_ried and cried. Eugene stood there contemplating the wreck he had made of he_reams. Certainly it was hell, he said to himself; certainly it was. He was _iar, as she said, a dog, a scoundrel. Poor little Angela! Well, the damag_ad been done. What could he do now? Anything? Certainly not. Not a thing. Sh_as broken—heart-broken. There was no earthly remedy for that. Priests migh_hrive for broken laws, but for a broken heart what remedy was there?
"Angela!" he called gently. "Angela! I'm sorry! Don't cry! Angela!! Don'_ry!"
But she did not hear him. She did not hear anything. Lost in the agony of he_ituation, she could only sob convulsively until it seemed that her prett_ittle frame would break to pieces.