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Title: The Titan
Author: Theodore Dreiser


CONTENTS

       I  The New City
      II  A Reconnoiter
     III  A Chicago Evening
      IV  Peter Laughlin & Co.
       V  Concerning A Wife And Family
      VI  The New Queen of the Home
     VII  Chicago Gas
    VIII  Now This is Fighting
      IX  In Search of Victory
       X  A Test
      XI  The Fruits of Daring
     XII  A New Retainer
    XIII  The Die is Cast
     XIV  Undercurrents
      XV  A New Affection
     XVI  A Fateful Interlude
    XVII  An Overture to Conflict
   XVIII  The Clash
     XIX  "Hell Hath No Fury--"
      XX  "Man and Superman"
     XXI  A Matter of Tunnels
    XXII  Street-railways at Last
   XXIII  The Power of the Press
    XXIV  The Coming of Stephanie Platow
     XXV  Airs from the Orient
    XXVI  Love and War
   XXVII  A Financier Bewitched
  XXVIII  The Exposure of Stephanie
    XXIX  A Family Quarrel
     XXX  Obstacles
    XXXI  Untoward Disclosures
   XXXII  A Supper Party
  XXXIII  Mr. Lynde to the Rescue
   XXXIV  Enter Hosmer Hand
    XXXV  A Political Agreement
   XXXVI  An Election Draws Near
  XXXVII  Aileen's Revenge
 XXXVIII  An Hour of Defeat
   XXXIX  The New Administration
      XL  A Trip to Louisville
     XLI  The Daughter of Mrs. Fleming
    XLII  F. A. Cowperwood, Guardian
   XLIII  The Planet Mars
    XLIV  A Franchise Obtained
     XLV  Changing Horizons
    XLVI  Depths and Heights
   XLVII  American Match
  XLVIII  Panic
    XLIX  Mount Olympus
       L  A New York Mansion
      LI  The Revival of Hattie Starr
     LII  Behind the Arras
    LIII  A Declaration of Love
     LIV  Wanted--Fifty-year Franchises
      LV  Cowperwood and the Governor
     LVI  The Ordeal of Berenice
    LVII  Aileen's Last Card
   LVIII  A Marauder Upon the Commonwealth
     LIX  Capital and Public Rights
      LX  The Net
     LXI  The Cataclysm
    LXII  The Recompense




Chapter I

The New City


When Frank Algernon Cowperwood emerged from the Eastern District
Penitentiary in Philadelphia he realized that the old life he had lived
in that city since boyhood was ended.  His youth was gone, and with it
had been lost the great business prospects of his earlier manhood.  He
must begin again.

It would be useless to repeat how a second panic following upon a
tremendous failure--that of Jay Cooke & Co.--had placed a second
fortune in his hands.  This restored wealth softened him in some
degree.  Fate seemed to have his personal welfare in charge.  He was
sick of the stock-exchange, anyhow, as a means of livelihood, and now
decided that he would leave it once and for all.  He would get in
something else--street-railways, land deals, some of the boundless
opportunities of the far West.  Philadelphia was no longer pleasing to
him.  Though now free and rich, he was still a scandal to the
pretenders, and the financial and social world was not prepared to
accept him.  He must go his way alone, unaided, or only secretly so,
while his quondam friends watched his career from afar.  So, thinking
of this, he took the train one day, his charming mistress, now only
twenty-six, coming to the station to see him off.  He looked at her
quite tenderly, for she was the quintessence of a certain type of
feminine beauty.

"By-by, dearie," he smiled, as the train-bell signaled the approaching
departure.  "You and I will get out of this shortly.  Don't grieve.
I'll be back in two or three weeks, or I'll send for you.  I'd take you
now, only I don't know how that country is out there. We'll fix on some
place, and then you watch me settle this fortune question.  We'll not
live under a cloud always.  I'll get a divorce, and we'll marry, and
things will come right with a bang.  Money will do that."

He looked at her with his large, cool, penetrating eyes, and she
clasped his cheeks between her hands.

"Oh, Frank," she exclaimed, "I'll miss you so! You're all I have."

"In two weeks," he smiled, as the train began to move, "I'll wire or be
back.  Be good, sweet."

She followed him with adoring eyes--a fool of love, a spoiled child, a
family pet, amorous, eager, affectionate, the type so strong a man
would naturally like--she tossed her pretty red gold head and waved him
a kiss.  Then she walked away with rich, sinuous, healthy strides--the
type that men turn to look after.

"That's her--that's that Butler girl," observed one railroad clerk to
another.  "Gee! a man wouldn't want anything better than that, would
he?"

It was the spontaneous tribute that passion and envy invariably pay to
health and beauty.  On that pivot swings the world.

Never in all his life until this trip had Cowperwood been farther west
than Pittsburg.  His amazing commercial adventures, brilliant as they
were, had been almost exclusively confined to the dull, staid world of
Philadelphia, with its sweet refinement in sections, its pretensions to
American social supremacy, its cool arrogation of traditional
leadership in commercial life, its history, conservative wealth,
unctuous respectability, and all the tastes and avocations which these
imply.  He had, as he recalled, almost mastered that pretty world and
made its sacred precincts his own when the crash came.  Practically he
had been admitted.  Now he was an Ishmael, an ex-convict, albeit a
millionaire.  But wait! The race is to the swift, he said to himself
over and over.  Yes, and the battle is to the strong.  He would test
whether the world would trample him under foot or no.

Chicago, when it finally dawned on him, came with a rush on the second
morning.  He had spent two nights in the gaudy Pullman then provided--a
car intended to make up for some of the inconveniences of its
arrangements by an over-elaboration of plush and tortured glass--when
the first lone outposts of the prairie metropolis began to appear.  The
side-tracks along the road-bed over which he was speeding became more
and more numerous, the telegraph-poles more and more hung with arms and
strung smoky-thick with wires.  In the far distance, cityward, was,
here and there, a lone working-man's cottage, the home of some
adventurous soul who had planted his bare hut thus far out in order to
reap the small but certain advantage which the growth of the city would
bring.

The land was flat--as flat as a table--with a waning growth of brown
grass left over from the previous year, and stirring faintly in the
morning breeze.  Underneath were signs of the new green--the New Year's
flag of its disposition.  For some reason a crystalline atmosphere
enfolded the distant hazy outlines of the city, holding the latter like
a fly in amber and giving it an artistic subtlety which touched him.
Already a devotee of art, ambitious for connoisseurship, who had had
his joy, training, and sorrow out of the collection he had made and
lost in Philadelphia, he appreciated almost every suggestion of a
delightful picture in nature.

The tracks, side by side, were becoming more and more numerous.
Freight-cars were assembled here by thousands from all parts of the
country--yellow, red, blue, green, white.  (Chicago, he recalled,
already had thirty railroads terminating here, as though it were the
end of the world.) The little low one and two story houses, quite new
as to wood, were frequently unpainted and already smoky--in places
grimy.  At grade-crossings, where ambling street-cars and wagons and
muddy-wheeled buggies waited, he noted how flat the streets were, how
unpaved, how sidewalks went up and down rhythmically--here a flight of
steps, a veritable platform before a house, there a long stretch of
boards laid flat on the mud of the prairie itself.  What a city!
Presently a branch of the filthy, arrogant, self-sufficient little
Chicago River came into view, with its mass of sputtering tugs, its
black, oily water, its tall, red, brown, and green grain-elevators, its
immense black coal-pockets and yellowish-brown lumber-yards.

Here was life; he saw it at a flash.  Here was a seething city in the
making.  There was something dynamic in the very air which appealed to
his fancy.  How different, for some reason, from Philadelphia! That was
a stirring city, too.  He had thought it wonderful at one time, quite a
world; but this thing, while obviously infinitely worse, was better.
It was more youthful, more hopeful. In a flare of morning sunlight
pouring between two coal-pockets, and because the train had stopped to
let a bridge swing and half a dozen great grain and lumber boats go
by--a half-dozen in either direction--he saw a group of Irish
stevedores idling on the bank of a lumber-yard whose wall skirted the
water.  Healthy men they were, in blue or red shirt-sleeves, stout
straps about their waists, short pipes in their mouths, fine, hardy,
nutty-brown specimens of humanity.  Why were they so appealing, he
asked himself.  This raw, dirty town seemed naturally to compose itself
into stirring artistic pictures.  Why, it fairly sang! The world was
young here. Life was doing something new.  Perhaps he had better not go
on to the Northwest at all; he would decide that question later.

In the mean time he had letters of introduction to distinguished
Chicagoans, and these he would present.  He wanted to talk to some
bankers and grain and commission men.  The stock-exchange of Chicago
interested him, for the intricacies of that business he knew backward
and forward, and some great grain transactions had been made here.

The train finally rolled past the shabby backs of houses into a long,
shabbily covered series of platforms--sheds having only roofs--and
amidst a clatter of trucks hauling trunks, and engines belching steam,
and passengers hurrying to and fro he made his way out into Canal
Street and hailed a waiting cab--one of a long line of vehicles that
bespoke a metropolitan spirit.  He had fixed on the Grand Pacific as
the most important hotel--the one with the most social
significance--and thither he asked to be driven.  On the way he studied
these streets as in the matter of art he would have studied a picture.
The little yellow, blue, green, white, and brown street-cars which he
saw trundling here and there, the tired, bony horses, jingling bells at
their throats, touched him. They were flimsy affairs, these cars,
merely highly varnished kindling-wood with bits of polished brass and
glass stuck about them, but he realized what fortunes they portended if
the city grew.  Street-cars, he knew, were his natural vocation.  Even
more than stock-brokerage, even more than banking, even more than
stock-organization he loved the thought of street-cars and the vast
manipulative life it suggested.




Chapter II

A Reconnoiter


The city of Chicago, with whose development the personality of Frank
Algernon Cowperwood was soon to be definitely linked! To whom may the
laurels as laureate of this Florence of the West yet fall? This singing
flame of a city, this all America, this poet in chaps and buckskin,
this rude, raw Titan, this Burns of a city! By its shimmering lake it
lay, a king of shreds and patches, a maundering yokel with an epic in
its mouth, a tramp, a hobo among cities, with the grip of Caesar in its
mind, the dramatic force of Euripides in its soul.  A very bard of a
city this, singing of high deeds and high hopes, its heavy brogans
buried deep in the mire of circumstance.  Take Athens, oh, Greece!
Italy, do you keep Rome! This was the Babylon, the Troy, the Nineveh of
a younger day.  Here came the gaping West and the hopeful East to see.
Here hungry men, raw from the shops and fields, idyls and romances in
their minds, builded them an empire crying glory in the mud.

From New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine had come a strange
company, earnest, patient, determined, unschooled in even the primer of
refinement, hungry for something the significance of which, when they
had it, they could not even guess, anxious to be called great,
determined so to be without ever knowing how.  Here came the dreamy
gentleman of the South, robbed of his patrimony; the hopeful student of
Yale and Harvard and Princeton; the enfranchised miner of California
and the Rockies, his bags of gold and silver in his hands.  Here was
already the bewildered foreigner, an alien speech confounding him--the
Hun, the Pole, the Swede, the German, the Russian--seeking his homely
colonies, fearing his neighbor of another race.

Here was the negro, the prostitute, the blackleg, the gambler, the
romantic adventurer par excellence.  A city with but a handful of the
native-born; a city packed to the doors with all the riffraff of a
thousand towns.  Flaring were the lights of the bagnio; tinkling the
banjos, zithers, mandolins of the so-called gin-mill; all the dreams
and the brutality of the day seemed gathered to rejoice (and rejoice
they did) in this new-found wonder of a metropolitan life in the West.

The first prominent Chicagoan whom Cowperwood sought out was the
president of the Lake City National Bank, the largest financial
organization in the city, with deposits of over fourteen million
dollars.  It was located in Dearborn Street, at Munroe, but a block or
two from his hotel.

"Find out who that man is," ordered Mr. Judah Addison, the president of
the bank, on seeing him enter the president's private waiting-room.

Mr. Addison's office was so arranged with glass windows that he could,
by craning his neck, see all who entered his reception-room before they
saw him, and he had been struck by Cowperwood's face and force.  Long
familiarity with the banking world and with great affairs generally had
given a rich finish to the ease and force which the latter naturally
possessed.  He looked strangely replete for a man of thirty-six--suave,
steady, incisive, with eyes as fine as those of a Newfoundland or a
Collie and as innocent and winsome.  They were wonderful eyes, soft and
spring-like at times, glowing with a rich, human understanding which on
the instant could harden and flash lightning.  Deceptive eyes,
unreadable, but alluring alike to men and to women in all walks and
conditions of life.

The secretary addressed came back with Cowperwood's letter of
introduction, and immediately Cowperwood followed.

Mr. Addison instinctively arose--a thing he did not always do. "I'm
pleased to meet you, Mr. Cowperwood," he said, politely.  "I saw you
come in just now.  You see how I keep my windows here, so as to spy out
the country.  Sit down.  You wouldn't like an apple, would you?" He
opened a left-hand drawer, producing several polished red winesaps, one
of which he held out.  "I always eat one about this time in the
morning."

"Thank you, no," replied Cowperwood, pleasantly, estimating as he did
so his host's temperament and mental caliber.  "I never eat between
meals, but I appreciate your kindness.  I am just passing through
Chicago, and I thought I would present this letter now rather than
later.  I thought you might tell me a little about the city from an
investment point of view."

As Cowperwood talked, Addison, a short, heavy, rubicund man with
grayish-brown sideburns extending to his ear-lobes and hard, bright,
twinkling gray eyes--a proud, happy, self-sufficient man--munched his
apple and contemplated Cowperwood.  As is so often the case in life, he
frequently liked or disliked people on sight, and he prided himself on
his judgment of men.  Almost foolishly, for one so conservative, he was
taken with Cowperwood--a man immensely his superior--not because of the
Drexel letter, which spoke of the latter's "undoubted financial genius"
and the advantage it would be to Chicago to have him settle there, but
because of the swimming wonder of his eyes.  Cowperwood's personality,
while maintaining an unbroken outward reserve, breathed a tremendous
humanness which touched his fellow-banker.  Both men were in their way
walking enigmas, the Philadelphian far the subtler of the two.  Addison
was ostensibly a church-member, a model citizen; he represented a point
of view to which Cowperwood would never have stooped.  Both men were
ruthless after their fashion, avid of a physical life; but Addison was
the weaker in that he was still afraid--very much afraid--of what life
might do to him.  The man before him had no sense of fear.  Addison
contributed judiciously to charity, subscribed outwardly to a dull
social routine, pretended to love his wife, of whom he was weary, and
took his human pleasure secretly. The man before him subscribed to
nothing, refused to talk save to intimates, whom he controlled
spiritually, and did as he pleased.

"Why, I'll tell you, Mr. Cowperwood," Addison replied.  "We people out
here in Chicago think so well of ourselves that sometimes we're afraid
to say all we think for fear of appearing a little extravagant. We're
like the youngest son in the family that knows he can lick all the
others, but doesn't want to do it--not just yet.  We're not as handsome
as we might be--did you ever see a growing boy that was?--but we're
absolutely sure that we're going to be.  Our pants and shoes and coat
and hat get too small for us every six months, and so we don't look
very fashionable, but there are big, strong, hard muscles and bones
underneath, Mr. Cowperwood, as you'll discover when you get to looking
around.  Then you won't mind the clothes so much."

Mr. Addison's round, frank eyes narrowed and hardened for a moment. A
kind of metallic hardness came into his voice.  Cowperwood could see
that he was honestly enamoured of his adopted city.  Chicago was his
most beloved mistress.  A moment later the flesh about his eyes
crinkled, his mouth softened, and he smiled.  "I'll be glad to tell you
anything I can," he went on.  "There are a lot of interesting things to
tell."

Cowperwood beamed back on him encouragingly.  He inquired after the
condition of one industry and another, one trade or profession and
another.  This was somewhat different from the atmosphere which
prevailed in Philadelphia--more breezy and generous.  The tendency to
expatiate and make much of local advantages was Western.  He liked it,
however, as one aspect of life, whether he chose to share in it or not.
It was favorable to his own future.  He had a prison record to live
down; a wife and two children to get rid of--in the legal sense, at
least (he had no desire to rid himself of financial obligation toward
them).  It would take some such loose, enthusiastic Western attitude to
forgive in him the strength and freedom with which he ignored and
refused to accept for himself current convention. "I satisfy myself"
was his private law, but so to do he must assuage and control the
prejudices of other men.  He felt that this banker, while not putty in
his hands, was inclined to a strong and useful friendship.

"My impressions of the city are entirely favorable, Mr. Addison," he
said, after a time, though he inwardly admitted to himself that this
was not entirely true; he was not sure whether he could bring himself
ultimately to live in so excavated and scaffolded a world as this or
not.  "I only saw a portion of it coming in on the train. I like the
snap of things.  I believe Chicago has a future."

"You came over the Fort Wayne, I presume," replied Addison, loftily.
"You saw the worst section.  You must let me show you some of the best
parts.  By the way, where are you staying?"

"At the Grand Pacific."

"How long will you be here?"

"Not more than a day or two."

"Let me see," and Mr. Addison drew out his watch.  "I suppose you
wouldn't mind meeting a few of our leading men--and we have a little
luncheon-room over at the Union League Club where we drop in now and
then.  If you'd care to do so, I'd like to have you come along with me
at one.  We're sure to find a few of them--some of our lawyers,
business men, and judges."

"That will be fine," said the Philadelphian, simply.  "You're more than
generous.  There are one or two other people I want to meet in between,
and"--he arose and looked at his own watch--"I'll find the Union Club.
Where is the office of Arneel & Co.?"

At the mention of the great beef-packer, who was one of the bank's
heaviest depositors, Addison stirred slightly with approval.  This
young man, at least eight years his junior, looked to him like a future
grand seigneur of finance.

At the Union Club, at this noontime luncheon, after talking with the
portly, conservative, aggressive Arneel and the shrewd director of the
stock-exchange, Cowperwood met a varied company of men ranging in age
from thirty-five to sixty-five gathered about the board in a private
dining-room of heavily carved black walnut, with pictures of elder
citizens of Chicago on the walls and an attempt at artistry in stained
glass in the windows.  There were short and long men, lean and stout,
dark and blond men, with eyes and jaws which varied from those of the
tiger, lynx, and bear to those of the fox, the tolerant mastiff, and
the surly bulldog. There were no weaklings in this selected company.

Mr. Arneel and Mr. Addison Cowperwood approved of highly as shrewd,
concentrated men.  Another who interested him was Anson Merrill, a
small, polite, recherche soul, suggesting mansions and footmen and
remote luxury generally, who was pointed out by Addison as the famous
dry-goods prince of that name, quite the leading merchant, in the
retail and wholesale sense, in Chicago.

Still another was a Mr. Rambaud, pioneer railroad man, to whom Addison,
smiling jocosely, observed: "Mr. Cowperwood is on from Philadelphia,
Mr. Rambaud, trying to find out whether he wants to lose any money out
here.  Can't you sell him some of that bad land you have up in the
Northwest?"

Rambaud--a spare, pale, black-bearded man of much force and exactness,
dressed, as Cowperwood observed, in much better taste than some of the
others--looked at Cowperwood shrewdly but in a gentlemanly, retiring
way, with a gracious, enigmatic smile.  He caught a glance in return
which he could not possibly forget.  The eyes of Cowperwood said more
than any words ever could.  Instead of jesting faintly Mr. Rambaud
decided to explain some things about the Northwest.  Perhaps this
Philadelphian might be interested.

To a man who has gone through a great life struggle in one metropolis
and tested all the phases of human duplicity, decency, sympathy, and
chicanery in the controlling group of men that one invariably finds in
every American city at least, the temperament and significance of
another group in another city is not so much, and yet it is.  Long
since Cowperwood had parted company with the idea that humanity at any
angle or under any circumstances, climatic or otherwise, is in any way
different.  To him the most noteworthy characteristic of the human race
was that it was strangely chemic, being anything or nothing, as the
hour and the condition afforded. In his leisure moments--those free
from practical calculation, which were not many--he often speculated as
to what life really was.  If he had not been a great financier and,
above all, a marvelous organizer he might have become a highly
individualistic philosopher--a calling which, if he had thought
anything about it at all at this time, would have seemed rather
trivial.  His business as he saw it was with the material facts of
life, or, rather, with those third and fourth degree theorems and
syllogisms which control material things and so represent wealth.  He
was here to deal with the great general needs of the Middle West--to
seize upon, if he might, certain well-springs of wealth and power and
rise to recognized authority.  In his morning talks he had learned of
the extent and character of the stock-yards' enterprises, of the great
railroad and ship interests, of the tremendous rising importance of
real estate, grain speculation, the hotel business, the hardware
business.  He had learned of universal manufacturing companies--one
that made cars, another elevators, another binders, another windmills,
another engines.  Apparently, any new industry seemed to do well in
Chicago.  In his talk with the one director of the Board of Trade to
whom he had a letter he had learned that few, if any, local stocks were
dealt in on 'change.  Wheat, corn, and grains of all kinds were
principally speculated in.  The big stocks of the East were gambled in
by way of leased wires on the New York Stock Exchange--not otherwise.

As he looked at these men, all pleasantly civil, all general in their
remarks, each safely keeping his vast plans under his vest, Cowperwood
wondered how he would fare in this community.  There were such
difficult things ahead of him to do.  No one of these men, all of whom
were in their commercial-social way agreeable, knew that he had only
recently been in the penitentiary.  How much difference would that make
in their attitude? No one of them knew that, although he was married
and had two children, he was planning to divorce his wife and marry the
girl who had appropriated to herself the role which his wife had once
played.

"Are you seriously contemplating looking into the Northwest?" asked Mr.
Rambaud, interestedly, toward the close of the luncheon.

"That is my present plan after I finish here.  I thought I'd take a
short run up there."

"Let me put you in touch with an interesting party that is going as far
as Fargo and Duluth.  There is a private car leaving Thursday, most of
them citizens of Chicago, but some Easterners.  I would be glad to have
you join us.  I am going as far as Minneapolis."

Cowperwood thanked him and accepted.  A long conversation followed
about the Northwest, its timber, wheat, land sales, cattle, and
possible manufacturing plants.

What Fargo, Minneapolis, and Duluth were to be civically and
financially were the chief topics of conversation.  Naturally, Mr.
Rambaud, having under his direction vast railroad lines which
penetrated this region, was confident of the future of it. Cowperwood
gathered it all, almost by instinct.  Gas, street-railways, land
speculations, banks, wherever located, were his chief thoughts.

Finally he left the club to keep his other appointments, but something
of his personality remained behind him.  Mr. Addison and Mr. Rambaud,
among others, were sincerely convinced that he was one of the most
interesting men they had met in years.  And he scarcely had said
anything at all--just listened.




Chapter III

A Chicago Evening


After his first visit to the bank over which Addison presided, and an
informal dinner at the latter's home, Cowperwood had decided that he
did not care to sail under any false colors so far as Addison was
concerned.  He was too influential and well connected. Besides,
Cowperwood liked him too much.  Seeing that the man's leaning toward
him was strong, in reality a fascination, he made an early morning call
a day or two after he had returned from Fargo, whither he had gone at
Mr. Rambaud's suggestion, on his way back to Philadelphia, determined
to volunteer a smooth presentation of his earlier misfortunes, and
trust to Addison's interest to make him view the matter in a kindly
light.  He told him the whole story of how he had been convicted of
technical embezzlement in Philadelphia and had served out his term in
the Eastern Penitentiary. He also mentioned his divorce and his
intention of marrying again.

Addison, who was the weaker man of the two and yet forceful in his own
way, admired this courageous stand on Cowperwood's part.  It was a
braver thing than he himself could or would have achieved. It appealed
to his sense of the dramatic.  Here was a man who apparently had been
dragged down to the very bottom of things, his face forced in the mire,
and now he was coming up again strong, hopeful, urgent.  The banker
knew many highly respected men in Chicago whose early careers, as he
was well aware, would not bear too close an inspection, but nothing was
thought of that.  Some of them were in society, some not, but all of
them were powerful. Why should not Cowperwood be allowed to begin all
over? He looked at him steadily, at his eyes, at his stocky body, at
his smooth, handsome, mustached face.  Then he held out his hand.

"Mr. Cowperwood," he said, finally, trying to shape his words
appropriately, "I needn't say that I am pleased with this interesting
confession.  It appeals to me.  I'm glad you have made it to me. You
needn't say any more at any time.  I decided the day I saw you walking
into that vestibule that you were an exceptional man; now I know it.
You needn't apologize to me.  I haven't lived in this world fifty years
and more without having my eye-teeth cut.  You're welcome to the
courtesies of this bank and of my house as long as you care to avail
yourself of them.  We'll cut our cloth as circumstances dictate in the
future.  I'd like to see you come to Chicago, solely because I like you
personally.  If you decide to settle here I'm sure I can be of service
to you and you to me. Don't think anything more about it; I sha'n't
ever say anything one way or another.  You have your own battle to
fight, and I wish you luck.  You'll get all the aid from me I can
honestly give you. Just forget that you told me, and when you get your
matrimonial affairs straightened out bring your wife out to see us."

With these things completed Cowperwood took the train back to
Philadelphia.

"Aileen," he said, when these two met again--she had come to the train
to meet him--"I think the West is the answer for us.  I went up to
Fargo and looked around up there, but I don't believe we want to go
that far.  There's nothing but prairie-grass and Indians out in that
country.  How'd you like to live in a board shanty, Aileen," he asked,
banteringly, "with nothing but fried rattlesnakes and prairie-dogs for
breakfast? Do you think you could stand that?"

"Yes," she replied, gaily, hugging his arm, for they had entered a
closed carriage; "I could stand it if you could.  I'd go anywhere with
you, Frank.  I'd get me a nice Indian dress with leather and beads all
over it and a feather hat like they wear, and--"

"There you go! Certainly! Pretty clothes first of all in a miner's
shack.  That's the way."

"You wouldn't love me long if I didn't put pretty clothes first," she
replied, spiritedly.  "Oh, I'm so glad to get you back!"

"The trouble is," he went on, "that that country up there isn't as
promising as Chicago.  I think we're destined to live in Chicago. I
made an investment in Fargo, and we'll have to go up there from time to
time, but we'll eventually locate in Chicago.  I don't want to go out
there alone again.  It isn't pleasant for me." He squeezed her hand.
"If we can't arrange this thing at once I'll just have to introduce you
as my wife for the present."

"You haven't heard anything more from Mr. Steger?" she put in. She was
thinking of Steger's efforts to get Mrs. Cowperwood to grant him a
divorce.

"Not a word."

"Isn't it too bad?" she sighed.

"Well, don't grieve.  Things might be worse."

He was thinking of his days in the penitentiary, and so was she. After
commenting on the character of Chicago he decided with her that so soon
as conditions permitted they would remove themselves to the Western
city.

It would be pointless to do more than roughly sketch the period of
three years during which the various changes which saw the complete
elimination of Cowperwood from Philadelphia and his introduction into
Chicago took place.  For a time there were merely journeys to and fro,
at first more especially to Chicago, then to Fargo, where his
transported secretary, Walter Whelpley, was managing under his
direction the construction of Fargo business blocks, a short street-car
line, and a fair-ground.  This interesting venture bore the title of
the Fargo Construction and Transportation Company, of which Frank A.
Cowperwood was president.  His Philadelphia lawyer, Mr. Harper Steger,
was for the time being general master of contracts.

For another short period he might have been found living at the Tremont
in Chicago, avoiding for the time being, because of Aileen's company,
anything more than a nodding contact with the important men he had
first met, while he looked quietly into the matter of a Chicago
brokerage arrangement--a partnership with some established broker who,
without too much personal ambition, would bring him a knowledge of
Chicago Stock Exchange affairs, personages, and Chicago ventures.  On
one occasion he took Aileen with him to Fargo, where with a haughty,
bored insouciance she surveyed the state of the growing city.

"Oh, Frank!" she exclaimed, when she saw the plain, wooden, four-story
hotel, the long, unpleasing business street, with its motley collection
of frame and brick stores, the gaping stretches of houses, facing in
most directions unpaved streets.  Aileen in her tailored
spick-and-spanness, her self-conscious vigor, vanity, and tendency to
over-ornament, was a strange contrast to the rugged self-effacement and
indifference to personal charm which characterized most of the men and
women of this new metropolis.  "You didn't seriously think of coming
out here to live, did you?"

She was wondering where her chance for social exchange would come
in--her opportunity to shine.  Suppose her Frank were to be very rich;
suppose he did make very much money--much more than he had ever had
even in the past--what good would it do her here? In Philadelphia,
before his failure, before she had been suspected of the secret liaison
with him, he had been beginning (at least) to entertain in a very
pretentious way.  If she had been his wife then she might have stepped
smartly into Philadelphia society. Out here, good gracious! She turned
up her pretty nose in disgust. "What an awful place!" was her one
comment at this most stirring of Western boom towns.

When it came to Chicago, however, and its swirling, increasing life,
Aileen was much interested.  Between attending to many financial
matters Cowperwood saw to it that she was not left alone. He asked her
to shop in the local stores and tell him about them; and this she did,
driving around in an open carriage, attractively arrayed, a great brown
hat emphasizing her pink-and-white complexion and red-gold hair.  On
different afternoons of their stay he took her to drive over the
principal streets.  When Aileen was permitted for the first time to see
the spacious beauty and richness of Prairie Avenue, the North Shore
Drive, Michigan Avenue, and the new mansions on Ashland Boulevard, set
in their grassy spaces, the spirit, aspirations, hope, tang of the
future Chicago began to work in her blood as it had in Cowperwood's.
All of these rich homes were so very new.  The great people of Chicago
were all newly rich like themselves.  She forgot that as yet she was
not Cowperwood's wife; she felt herself truly to be so.  The streets,
set in most instances with a pleasing creamish-brown flagging, lined
with young, newly planted trees, the lawns sown to smooth green grass,
the windows of the houses trimmed with bright awnings and hung with
intricate lace, blowing in a June breeze, the roadways a gray, gritty
macadam--all these things touched her fancy.  On one drive they skirted
the lake on the North Shore, and Aileen, contemplating the chalky,
bluish-green waters, the distant sails, the gulls, and then the new
bright homes, reflected that in all certitude she would some day be the
mistress of one of these splendid mansions. How haughtily she would
carry herself; how she would dress! They would have a splendid house,
much finer, no doubt, than Frank's old one in Philadelphia, with a
great ball-room and dining-room where she could give dances and
dinners, and where Frank and she would receive as the peers of these
Chicago rich people.

"Do you suppose we will ever have a house as fine as one of these,
Frank?" she asked him, longingly.

"I'll tell you what my plan is," he said.  "If you like this Michigan
Avenue section we'll buy a piece of property out here now and hold it.
Just as soon as I make the right connections here and see what I am
going to do we'll build a house--something really nice--don't worry.  I
want to get this divorce matter settled, and then we'll begin.
Meanwhile, if we have to come here, we'd better live rather quietly.
Don't you think so?"

It was now between five and six, that richest portion of a summer day.
It had been very warm, but was now cooling, the shade of the western
building-line shadowing the roadway, a moted, wine-like air filling the
street.  As far as the eye could see were carriages, the one great
social diversion of Chicago, because there was otherwise so little
opportunity for many to show that they had means.  The social forces
were not as yet clear or harmonious. Jingling harnesses of nickel,
silver, and even plated gold were the sign manual of social hope, if
not of achievement.  Here sped homeward from the city--from office and
manufactory--along this one exceptional southern highway, the Via Appia
of the South Side, all the urgent aspirants to notable fortunes.  Men
of wealth who had met only casually in trade here nodded to each other.
Smart daughters, society-bred sons, handsome wives came down-town in
traps, Victorias, carriages, and vehicles of the latest design to drive
home their trade-weary fathers or brothers, relatives or friends.  The
air was gay with a social hope, a promise of youth and affection, and
that fine flush of material life that recreates itself in delight.
Lithe, handsome, well-bred animals, singly and in jingling pairs, paced
each other down the long, wide, grass-lined street, its fine homes
agleam with a rich, complaisant materiality.

"Oh!" exclaimed Aileen, all at once, seeing the vigorous, forceful men,
the handsome matrons, and young women and boys, the nodding and the
bowing, feeling a touch of the romance and wonder of it all.  "I should
like to live in Chicago.  I believe it's nicer than Philadelphia."

Cowperwood, who had fallen so low there, despite his immense capacity,
set his teeth in two even rows.  His handsome mustache seemed at this
moment to have an especially defiant curl.  The pair he was driving was
physically perfect, lean and nervous, with spoiled, petted faces.  He
could not endure poor horse-flesh.  He drove as only a horse-lover can,
his body bolt upright, his own energy and temperament animating his
animals.  Aileen sat beside him, very proud, consciously erect.

"Isn't she beautiful?" some of the women observed, as they passed,
going north.  "What a stunning young woman!" thought or said the men.

"Did you see her?" asked a young brother of his sister.  "Never mind,
Aileen," commented Cowperwood, with that iron determination that brooks
no defeat.  "We will be a part of this.  Don't fret. You will have
everything you want in Chicago, and more besides."

There was tingling over his fingers, into the reins, into the horses, a
mysterious vibrating current that was his chemical product, the
off-giving of his spirit battery that made his hired horses prance like
children.  They chafed and tossed their heads and snorted.  Aileen was
fairly bursting with hope and vanity and longing.  Oh, to be Mrs. Frank
Algernon Cowperwood here in Chicago, to have a splendid mansion, to
have her cards of invitation practically commands which might not be
ignored!

"Oh, dear!" she sighed to herself, mentally.  "If only it were all
true--now."

It is thus that life at its topmost toss irks and pains.  Beyond is
ever the unattainable, the lure of the infinite with its infinite ache.

"Oh, life! oh, youth! oh, hope! oh, years! Oh pain-winged fancy,
beating forth with fears."




Chapter IV

Peter Laughlin & Co.


The partnership which Cowperwood eventually made with an old-time Board
of Trade operator, Peter Laughlin, was eminently to his satisfaction.
Laughlin was a tall, gaunt speculator who had spent most of his living
days in Chicago, having come there as a boy from western Missouri.  He
was a typical Chicago Board of Trade operator of the old school, having
an Andrew Jacksonish countenance, and a Henry Clay--Davy
Crockett--"Long John" Wentworth build of body.

Cowperwood from his youth up had had a curious interest in quaint
characters, and he was interesting to them; they "took" to him. He
could, if he chose to take the trouble, fit himself in with the odd
psychology of almost any individual.  In his early peregrinations in La
Salle Street he inquired after clever traders on 'change, and then gave
them one small commission after another in order to get acquainted.
Thus he stumbled one morning on old Peter Laughlin, wheat and corn
trader, who had an office in La Salle Street near Madison, and who did
a modest business gambling for himself and others in grain and Eastern
railway shares.  Laughlin was a shrewd, canny American, originally,
perhaps, of Scotch extraction, who had all the traditional American
blemishes of uncouthness, tobacco-chewing, profanity, and other small
vices.  Cowperwood could tell from looking at him that he must have a
fund of information concerning every current Chicagoan of importance,
and this fact alone was certain to be of value.  Then the old man was
direct, plain-spoken, simple-appearing, and wholly
unpretentious--qualities which Cowperwood deemed invaluable.

Once or twice in the last three years Laughlin had lost heavily on
private "corners" that he had attempted to engineer, and the general
feeling was that he was now becoming cautious, or, in other words,
afraid.  "Just the man," Cowperwood thought.  So one morning he called
upon Laughlin, intending to open a small account with him.

"Henry," he heard the old man say, as he entered Laughlin's fair-sized
but rather dusty office, to a young, preternaturally solemn-looking
clerk, a fit assistant for Peter Laughlin, "git me them there Pittsburg
and Lake Erie sheers, will you?" Seeing Cowperwood waiting, he added,
"What kin I do for ye?"

Cowperwood smiled.  "So he calls them 'sheers,' does he?" he thought.
"Good! I think I'll like him."

He introduced himself as coming from Philadelphia, and went on to say
that he was interested in various Chicago ventures, inclined to invest
in any good stock which would rise, and particularly desirous to buy
into some corporation--public utility preferred--which would be certain
to grow with the expansion of the city.

Old Laughlin, who was now all of sixty years of age, owned a seat on
the Board, and was worth in the neighborhood of two hundred thousand
dollars, looked at Cowperwood quizzically.

"Well, now, if you'd 'a' come along here ten or fifteen years ago you
might 'a' got in on the ground floor of a lot of things," he observed.
"There was these here gas companies, now, that them Otway and Apperson
boys got in on, and then all these here street-railways.  Why, I'm the
feller that told Eddie Parkinson what a fine thing he could make out of
it if he would go and organize that North State Street line.  He
promised me a bunch of sheers if he ever worked it out, but he never
give 'em to me.  I didn't expect him to, though," he added, wisely, and
with a glint. "I'm too old a trader for that.  He's out of it now,
anyway.  That Michaels-Kennelly crowd skinned him.  Yep, if you'd 'a'
been here ten or fifteen years ago you might 'a' got in on that.
'Tain't no use a-thinkin' about that, though, any more.  Them sheers is
sellin' fer clost onto a hundred and sixty."

Cowperwood smiled.  "Well, Mr. Laughlin," he observed, "you must have
been on 'change a long time here.  You seem to know a good deal of what
has gone on in the past."

"Yep, ever since 1852," replied the old man.  He had a thick growth of
upstanding hair looking not unlike a rooster's comb, a long and what
threatened eventually to become a Punch-and-Judy chin, a slightly
aquiline nose, high cheek-bones, and hollow, brown-skinned cheeks.  His
eyes were as clear and sharp as those of a lynx.

"To tell you the truth, Mr. Laughlin," went on Cowperwood, "what I'm
really out here in Chicago for is to find a man with whom I can go into
partnership in the brokerage business.  Now I'm in the banking and
brokerage business myself in the East.  I have a firm in Philadelphia
and a seat on both the New York and Philadelphia exchanges.  I have
some affairs in Fargo also.  Any trade agency can tell you about me.
You have a Board of Trade seat here, and no doubt you do some New York
and Philadelphia exchange business. The new firm, if you would go in
with me, could handle it all direct.  I'm a rather strong outside man
myself.  I'm thinking of locating permanently in Chicago.  What would
you say now to going into business with me? Do you think we could get
along in the same office space?"

Cowperwood had a way, when he wanted to be pleasant, of beating the
fingers of his two hands together, finger for finger, tip for tip.  He
also smiled at the same time--or, rather, beamed--his eyes glowing with
a warm, magnetic, seemingly affectionate light.

As it happened, old Peter Laughlin had arrived at that psychological
moment when he was wishing that some such opportunity as this might
appear and be available.  He was a lonely man, never having been able
to bring himself to trust his peculiar temperament in the hands of any
woman.  As a matter of fact, he had never understood women at all, his
relations being confined to those sad immoralities of the cheapest
character which only money--grudgingly given, at that--could buy.  He
lived in three small rooms in West Harrison Street, near Throup, where
he cooked his own meals at times.  His one companion was a small
spaniel, simple and affectionate, a she dog, Jennie by name, with whom
he slept.  Jennie was a docile, loving companion, waiting for him
patiently by day in his office until he was ready to go home at night.
He talked to this spaniel quite as he would to a human being (even more
intimately, perhaps), taking the dog's glances, tail-waggings, and
general movements for answer.  In the morning when he arose, which was
often as early as half past four, or even four--he was a brief
sleeper--he would begin by pulling on his trousers (he seldom bathed
any more except at a down-town barber shop) and talking to Jennie.

"Git up, now, Jinnie," he would say.  "It's time to git up.  We've got
to make our coffee now and git some breakfast.  I can see yuh, lyin'
there, pertendin' to be asleep.  Come on, now! You've had sleep enough.
You've been sleepin' as long as I have."

Jennie would be watching him out of the corner of one loving eye, her
tail tap-tapping on the bed, her free ear going up and down.

When he was fully dressed, his face and hands washed, his old string
tie pulled around into a loose and convenient knot, his hair brushed
upward, Jennie would get up and jump demonstratively about, as much as
to say, "You see how prompt I am."

"That's the way," old Laughlin would comment.  "Allers last.  Yuh never
git up first, do yuh, Jinnie? Allers let yer old man do that, don't
you?"

On bitter days, when the car-wheels squeaked and one's ears and fingers
seemed to be in danger of freezing, old Laughlin, arrayed in a heavy,
dusty greatcoat of ancient vintage and a square hat, would carry Jennie
down-town in a greenish-black bag along with some of his beloved
"sheers" which he was meditating on.  Only then could he take Jennie in
the cars.  On other days they would walk, for he liked exercise.  He
would get to his office as early as seven-thirty or eight, though
business did not usually begin until after nine, and remain until
four-thirty or five, reading the papers or calculating during the hours
when there were no customers.  Then he would take Jennie and go for a
walk or to call on some business acquaintance.  His home room, the
newspapers, the floor of the exchange, his offices, and the streets
were his only resources.  He cared nothing for plays, books, pictures,
music--and for women only in his one-angled, mentally impoverished way.
His limitations were so marked that to a lover of character like
Cowperwood he was fascinating--but Cowperwood only used character. He
never idled over it long artistically.

As Cowperwood suspected, what old Laughlin did not know about Chicago
financial conditions, deals, opportunities, and individuals was
scarcely worth knowing.  Being only a trader by instinct, neither an
organizer nor an executive, he had never been able to make any great
constructive use of his knowledge.  His gains and his losses he took
with reasonable equanimity, exclaiming over and over, when he lost:
"Shucks! I hadn't orter have done that," and snapping his fingers.
When he won heavily or was winning he munched tobacco with a seraphic
smile and occasionally in the midst of trading would exclaim: "You
fellers better come in.  It's a-gonta rain some more." He was not easy
to trap in any small gambling game, and only lost or won when there was
a free, open struggle in the market, or when he was engineering some
little scheme of his own.

The matter of this partnership was not arranged at once, although it
did not take long.  Old Peter Laughlin wanted to think it over,
although he had immediately developed a personal fancy for Cowperwood.
In a way he was the latter's victim and servant from the start. They
met day after day to discuss various details and terms; finally, true
to his instincts, old Peter demanded a full half interest.

"Now, you don't want that much, Laughlin," Cowperwood suggested, quite
blandly.  They were sitting in Laughlin's private office between four
and five in the afternoon, and Laughlin was chewing tobacco with the
sense of having a fine, interesting problem before him.  "I have a seat
on the New York Stock Exchange," he went on, "and that's worth forty
thousand dollars.  My seat on the Philadelphia exchange is worth more
than yours here.  They will naturally figure as the principal assets of
the firm.  It's to be in your name. I'll be liberal with you, though.
Instead of a third, which would be fair, I'll make it forty-nine per
cent., and we'll call the firm Peter Laughlin & Co.  I like you, and I
think you can be of a lot of use to me.  I know you will make more
money through me than you have alone.  I could go in with a lot of
these silk-stocking fellows around here, but I don't want to.  You'd
better decide right now, and let's get to work."

Old Laughlin was pleased beyond measure that young Cowperwood should
want to go in with him.  He had become aware of late that all of the
young, smug newcomers on 'change considered him an old fogy.  Here was
a strong, brave young Easterner, twenty years his junior, evidently as
shrewd as himself--more so, he feared--who actually proposed a business
alliance.  Besides, Cowperwood, in his young, healthy, aggressive way,
was like a breath of spring.

"I ain't keerin' so much about the name," rejoined Laughlin.  "You can
fix it that-a-way if you want to.  Givin' you fifty-one per cent. gives
you charge of this here shebang.  All right, though; I ain't a-kickin'.
I guess I can manage allus to git what's a-comin' to me.

"It's a bargain, then," said Cowperwood.  "We'll want new offices,
Laughlin, don't you think? This one's a little dark."

"Fix it up any way you like, Mr. Cowperwood.  It's all the same to me.
I'll be glad to see how yer do it."

In a week the details were completed, and two weeks later the sign of
Peter Laughlin & Co., grain and commission merchants, appeared over the
door of a handsome suite of rooms on the ground floor of a corner at La
Salle and Madison, in the heart of the Chicago financial district.

"Get onto old Laughlin, will you?" one broker observed to another, as
they passed the new, pretentious commission-house with its splendid
plate-glass windows, and observed the heavy, ornate bronze sign placed
on either side of the door, which was located exactly on the corner.
"What's struck him? I thought he was almost all through.  Who's the
Company?"

"I don't know.  Some fellow from the East, I think."

"Well, he's certainly moving up.  Look at the plate glass, will you?"

It was thus that Frank Algernon Cowperwood's Chicago financial career
was definitely launched.




Chapter V

Concerning A Wife And Family


If any one fancies for a moment that this commercial move on the part
of Cowperwood was either hasty or ill-considered they but little
appreciate the incisive, apprehensive psychology of the man.  His
thoughts as to life and control (tempered and hardened by thirteen
months of reflection in the Eastern District Penitentiary) had given
him a fixed policy.  He could, should, and would rule alone.  No man
must ever again have the least claim on him save that of a suppliant.
He wanted no more dangerous combinations such as he had had with
Stener, the man through whom he had lost so much in Philadelphia, and
others.  By right of financial intellect and courage he was first, and
would so prove it.  Men must swing around him as planets around the sun.

Moreover, since his fall from grace in Philadelphia he had come to
think that never again, perhaps, could he hope to become socially
acceptable in the sense in which the so-called best society of a city
interprets the phrase; and pondering over this at odd moments, he
realized that his future allies in all probability would not be among
the rich and socially important--the clannish, snobbish elements of
society--but among the beginners and financially strong men who had
come or were coming up from the bottom, and who had no social hopes
whatsoever.  There were many such.  If through luck and effort he
became sufficiently powerful financially he might then hope to dictate
to society.  Individualistic and even anarchistic in character, and
without a shred of true democracy, yet temperamentally he was in
sympathy with the mass more than he was with the class, and he
understood the mass better.  Perhaps this, in a way, will explain his
desire to connect himself with a personality so naive and strange as
Peter Laughlin.  He had annexed him as a surgeon selects a special
knife or instrument for an operation, and, shrewd as old Laughlin was,
he was destined to be no more than a tool in Cowperwood's strong hands,
a mere hustling messenger, content to take orders from this swiftest of
moving brains.  For the present Cowperwood was satisfied to do business
under the firm name of Peter Laughlin & Co.--as a matter of fact, he
preferred it; for he could thus keep himself sufficiently inconspicuous
to avoid undue attention, and gradually work out one or two coups by
which he hoped to firmly fix himself in the financial future of Chicago.

As the most essential preliminary to the social as well as the
financial establishment of himself and Aileen in Chicago, Harper
Steger, Cowperwood's lawyer, was doing his best all this while to
ingratiate himself in the confidence of Mrs. Cowperwood, who had no
faith in lawyers any more than she had in her recalcitrant husband.
She was now a tall, severe, and rather plain woman, but still bearing
the marks of the former passive charm that had once interested
Cowperwood.  Notable crows'-feet had come about the corners of her
nose, mouth, and eyes.  She had a remote, censorious, subdued,
self-righteous, and even injured air.

The cat-like Steger, who had all the graceful contemplative air of a
prowling Tom, was just the person to deal with her.  A more suavely
cunning and opportunistic soul never was.  His motto might well have
been, speak softly and step lightly.

"My dear Mrs. Cowperwood," he argued, seated in her modest West
Philadelphia parlor one spring afternoon, "I need not tell you what a
remarkable man your husband is, nor how useless it is to combat him.
Admitting all his faults--and we can agree, if you please, that they
are many"--Mrs. Cowperwood stirred with irritation--"still it is not
worth while to attempt to hold him to a strict account.  You know"--and
Mr. Steger opened his thin, artistic hands in a deprecatory way--"what
sort of a man Mr. Cowperwood is, and whether he can be coerced or not.
He is not an ordinary man, Mrs. Cowperwood.  No man could have gone
through what he has and be where he is to-day, and be an average man.
If you take my advice you will let him go his way.  Grant him a
divorce.  He is willing, even anxious to make a definite provision for
you and your children.  He will, I am sure, look liberally after their
future.  But he is becoming very irritable over your unwillingness to
give him a legal separation, and unless you do I am very much afraid
that the whole matter will be thrown into the courts.  If, before it
comes to that, I could effect an arrangement agreeable to you, I would
be much pleased.   As you know, I have been greatly grieved by the
whole course of your recent affairs.  I am intensely sorry that things
are as they are."

Mr. Steger lifted his eyes in a very pained, deprecatory way.  He
regretted deeply the shifty currents of this troubled world.

Mrs. Cowperwood for perhaps the fifteenth or twentieth time heard him
to the end in patience.  Cowperwood would not return.  Steger was as
much her friend as any other lawyer would be.  Besides, he was socially
agreeable to her.  Despite his Machiavellian profession, she half
believed him.  He went over, tactfully, a score of additional points.
Finally, on the twenty-first visit, and with seemingly great distress,
he told her that her husband had decided to break with her financially,
to pay no more bills, and do nothing until his responsibility had been
fixed by the courts, and that he, Steger, was about to retire from the
case.  Mrs. Cowperwood felt that she must yield; she named her
ultimatum.  If he would fix two hundred thousand dollars on her and the
children (this was Cowperwood's own suggestion) and later on do
something commercially for their only son, Frank, junior, she would let
him go.  She disliked to do it.  She knew that it meant the triumph of
Aileen Butler, such as it was.  But, after all, that wretched creature
had been properly disgraced in Philadelphia.  It was not likely she
could ever raise her head socially anywhere any more.  She agreed to
file a plea which Steger would draw up for her, and by that oily
gentleman's machinations it was finally wormed through the local court
in the most secret manner imaginable.  The merest item in three of the
Philadelphia papers some six weeks later reported that a divorce had
been granted.  When Mrs. Cowperwood read it she wondered greatly that
so little attention had been attracted by it.  She had feared a much
more extended comment. She little knew the cat-like prowlings, legal
and journalistic, of her husband's interesting counsel.  When
Cowperwood read it on one of his visits to Chicago he heaved a sigh of
relief.  At last it was really true.  Now he could make Aileen his
wife.  He telegraphed her an enigmatic message of congratulation.  When
Aileen read it she thrilled from head to foot.  Now, shortly, she would
become the legal bride of Frank Algernon Cowperwood, the newly
enfranchised Chicago financier, and then--

"Oh," she said, in her Philadelphia home, when she read it, "isn't that
splendid! Now I'll be Mrs. Cowperwood.  Oh, dear!"

Mrs. Frank Algernon Cowperwood number one, thinking over her husband's
liaison, failure, imprisonment, pyrotechnic operations at the time of
the Jay Cooke failure, and his present financial ascendancy, wondered
at the mystery of life.  There must be a God. The Bible said so.  Her
husband, evil though he was, could not be utterly bad, for he had made
ample provision for her, and the children liked him.  Certainly, at the
time of the criminal prosecution he was no worse than some others who
had gone free. Yet he had been convicted, and she was sorry for that
and had always been.  He was an able and ruthless man.  She hardly knew
what to think.  The one person she really did blame was the wretched,
vain, empty-headed, ungodly Aileen Butler, who had been his seductress
and was probably now to be his wife.  God would punish her, no doubt.
He must.  So she went to church on Sundays and tried to believe, come
what might, that all was for the best.




Chapter VI

The New Queen of the Home


The day Cowperwood and Aileen were married--it was in an obscure
village called Dalston, near Pittsburg, in western Pennsylvania, where
they had stopped off to manage this matter--he had said to her: "I want
to tell you, dear, that you and I are really beginning life all over.
Now it depends on how well we play this game as to how well we succeed.
If you will listen to me we won't try to do anything much socially in
Chicago for the present.  Of course we'll have to meet a few people.
That can't be avoided.  Mr. and Mrs. Addison are anxious to meet you,
and I've delayed too long in that matter as it is.  But what I mean is
that I don't believe it's advisable to push this social exchange too
far.  People are sure to begin to make inquiries if we do.  My plan is
to wait a little while and then build a really fine house so that we
won't need to rebuild.  We're going to go to Europe next spring, if
things go right, and we may get some ideas over there.  I'm going to
put in a good big gallery," he concluded.  "While we're traveling we
might as well see what we can find in the way of pictures and so on."

Aileen was thrilling with anticipation.  "Oh, Frank," she said to him,
quite ecstatically, "you're so wonderful! You do everything you want,
don't you?"

"Not quite," he said, deprecatingly; "but it isn't for not wanting to.
Chance has a little to say about some of these chings, Aileen."

She stood in front of him, as she often did, her plump, ringed hands on
his shoulders, and looked into those steady, lucid pools--his eyes.
Another man, less leonine, and with all his shifting thoughts, might
have had to contend with the handicap of a shifty gaze; he fronted the
queries and suspicions of the world with a seeming candor that was as
disarming as that of a child. The truth was he believed in himself, and
himself only, and thence sprang his courage to think as he pleased.
Aileen wondered, but could get no answer.

"Oh, you big tiger!" she said.  "You great, big lion! Boo!"

He pinched her cheek and smiled.  "Poor Aileen!" he thought.  She
little knew the unsolvable mystery that he was even to himself--to
himself most of all.

Immediately after their marriage Cowperwood and Aileen journeyed to
Chicago direct, and took the best rooms that the Tremont provided, for
the time being.  A little later they heard of a comparatively small
furnished house at Twenty-third and Michigan Avenue, which, with horses
and carriages thrown in, was to be had for a season or two on lease.
They contracted for it at once, installing a butler, servants, and the
general service of a well-appointed home. Here, because he thought it
was only courteous, and not because he thought it was essential or wise
at this time to attempt a social onslaught, he invited the Addisons and
one or two others whom he felt sure would come--Alexander Rambaud,
president of the Chicago & Northwestern, and his wife, and Taylor Lord,
an architect whom he had recently called into consultation and whom he
found socially acceptable.  Lord, like the Addisons, was in society,
but only as a minor figure.

Trust Cowperwood to do the thing as it should be done.  The place they
had leased was a charming little gray-stone house, with a neat flight
of granite, balustraded steps leading up to its wide-arched door, and a
judicious use of stained glass to give its interior an artistically
subdued atmosphere.  Fortunately, it was furnished in good taste.
Cowperwood turned over the matter of the dinner to a caterer and
decorator.  Aileen had nothing to do but dress, and wait, and look her
best.

"I needn't tell you," he said, in the morning, on leaving, "that I want
you to look nice to-night, pet.  I want the Addisons and Mr. Rambaud to
like you."

A hint was more than sufficient for Aileen, though really it was not
needed.  On arriving at Chicago she had sought and discovered a French
maid.  Although she had brought plenty of dresses from Philadelphia,
she had been having additional winter costumes prepared by the best and
most expensive mistress of the art in Chicago--Theresa Donovan.  Only
the day before she had welcomed home a golden-yellow silk under heavy
green lace, which, with her reddish-gold hair and her white arms and
neck, seemed to constitute an unusual harmony.  Her boudoir on the
night of the dinner presented a veritable riot of silks, satins, laces,
lingerie, hair ornaments, perfumes, jewels--anything and everything
which might contribute to the feminine art of being beautiful.  Once in
the throes of a toilet composition, Aileen invariably became restless
and energetic, almost fidgety, and her maid, Fadette, was compelled to
move quickly. Fresh from her bath, a smooth, ivory Venus, she worked
quickly through silken lingerie, stockings and shoes, to her hair.
Fadette had an idea to suggest for the hair.  Would Madame let her try
a new swirl she had seen? Madame would--yes.  So there were movings of
her mass of rich glinting tresses this way and that.  Somehow it would
not do.  A braided effect was then tried, and instantly discarded;
finally a double looping, without braids, low over the forehead, caught
back with two dark-green bands, crossing like an X above the center of
her forehead and fastened with a diamond sunburst, served admirably.
In her filmy, lacy boudoir costume of pink silk Aileen stood up and
surveyed herself in the full-length mirror.

"Yes," she said, turning her head this way and that.

Then came the dress from Donovan's, rustling and crisping.  She slipped
into it wonderingly, critically, while Fadette worked at the back, the
arms, about her knees, doing one little essential thing after another.

"Oh, Madame!" she exclaimed.  "Oh, charmant! Ze hair, it go weeth it
perfect.  It ees so full, so beyutiful here"--she pointed to the hips,
where the lace formed a clinging basque.  "Oh, tees varee, varee nize."

Aileen glowed, but with scarcely a smile.  She was concerned.  It
wasn't so much her toilet, which must be everything that it should
be--but this Mr. Addison, who was so rich and in society, and Mr.
Rambaud, who was very powerful, Frank said, must like her.  It was the
necessity to put her best foot forward now that was really troubling
her.  She must interest these men mentally, perhaps, as well as
physically, and with social graces, and that was not so easy.  For all
her money and comfort in Philadelphia she had never been in society in
its best aspects, had never done social entertaining of any real
importance.  Frank was the most important man who had ever crossed her
path.  No doubt Mr. Rambaud had a severe, old-fashioned wife.  How
would she talk to her? And Mrs. Addison! She would know and see
everything.  Aileen almost talked out loud to herself in a consoling
way as she dressed, so strenuous were her thoughts; but she went on,
adding the last touches to her physical graces.

When she finally went down-stairs to see how the dining and reception
rooms looked, and Fadette began putting away the welter of discarded
garments--she was a radiant vision--a splendid greenish-gold figure,
with gorgeous hair, smooth, soft, shapely ivory arms, a splendid neck
and bust, and a swelling form.  She felt beautiful, and yet she was a
little nervous--truly.  Frank himself would be critical. She went about
looking into the dining-room, which, by the caterer's art, had been
transformed into a kind of jewel-box glowing with flowers, silver,
gold, tinted glass, and the snowy whiteness of linen.  It reminded her
of an opal flashing all its soft fires. She went into the general
reception-room, where was a grand piano finished in pink and gold, upon
which, with due thought to her one accomplishment--her playing--she had
arranged the songs and instrumental pieces she did best.  Aileen was
really not a brilliant musician.  For the first time in her life she
felt matronly--as if now she were not a girl any more, but a woman
grown, with some serious responsibilities, and yet she was not really
suited to the role.  As a matter of fact, her thoughts were always
fixed on the artistic, social, and dramatic aspects of life, with
unfortunately a kind of nebulosity of conception which permitted no
condensation into anything definite or concrete.  She could only be
wildly and feverishly interested.  Just then the door clicked to
Frank's key--it was nearing six--and in he came, smiling, confident, a
perfect atmosphere of assurance.

"Well!" he observed, surveying her in the soft glow of the
reception-room lighted by wall candles judiciously arranged. "Who's the
vision floating around here? I'm almost afraid to touch you.  Much
powder on those arms?"

He drew her into his arms, and she put up her mouth with a sense of
relief.  Obviously, he must think that she looked charming.

"I am chalky, I guess.  You'll just have to stand it, though. You're
going to dress, anyhow."

She put her smooth, plump arms about his neck, and he felt pleased.
This was the kind of a woman to have--a beauty.  Her neck was
resplendent with a string of turquoise, her fingers too heavily
jeweled, but still beautiful.  She was faintly redolent of hyacinth or
lavender.  Her hair appealed to him, and, above all, the rich yellow
silk of her dress, flashing fulgurously through the closely netted
green.

"Charming, girlie.  You've outdone yourself.  I haven't seen this dress
before.  Where did you get it?"

"Here in Chicago."

He lifted her warm fingers, surveying her train, and turned her about.

"You don't need any advice.  You ought to start a school."

"Am I all right?" she queried, smartly, but with a sense of
self-distrust for the moment, and all because of him.

"You're perfect.  Couldn't be nicer.  Splendid!"

She took heart.

"I wish your friends would think so.  You'd better hurry."

He went up-stairs, and she followed, looking first into the dining-room
again.  At least that was right.  Surely Frank was a master.

At seven the plop of the feet of carriage-horses was heard, and a
moment later Louis, the butler, was opening the door.  Aileen went
down, a little nervous, a little frigid, trying to think of many
pleasant things, and wondering whether she would really succeed in
being entertaining.  Cowperwood accompanied her, a very different
person in so far as mood and self-poise were concerned.  To himself his
own future was always secure, and that of Aileen's if he wished to make
it so.  The arduous, upward-ascending rungs of the social ladder that
were troubling her had no such significance to him.

The dinner, as such simple things go, was a success from what might be
called a managerial and pictorial point of view.  Cowperwood, because
of his varied tastes and interests, could discuss railroading with Mr.
Rambaud in a very definite and illuminating way; could talk
architecture with Mr. Lord as a student, for instance, of rare promise
would talk with a master; and with a woman like Mrs. Addison or Mrs.
Rambaud he could suggest or follow appropriate leads.  Aileen,
unfortunately, was not so much at home, for her natural state and mood
were remote not so much from a serious as from an accurate conception
of life.  So many things, except in a very nebulous and suggestive way,
were sealed books to Aileen--merely faint, distant tinklings.  She knew
nothing of literature except certain authors who to the truly cultured
might seem banal.  As for art, it was merely a jingle of names gathered
from Cowperwood's private comments.  Her one redeeming feature was that
she was truly beautiful herself--a radiant, vibrating objet d'art.  A
man like Rambaud, remote, conservative, constructive, saw the place of
a woman like Aileen in the life of a man like Cowperwood on the
instant.  She was such a woman as he would have prized himself in a
certain capacity.

Sex interest in all strong men usually endures unto the end, governed
sometimes by a stoic resignation.  The experiment of such attraction
can, as they well know, be made over and over, but to what end? For
many it becomes too troublesome.  Yet the presence of so glittering a
spectacle as Aileen on this night touched Mr. Rambaud with an ancient
ambition.  He looked at her almost sadly. Once he was much younger.
But alas, he had never attracted the flaming interest of any such
woman.  As he studied her now he wished that he might have enjoyed such
good fortune.

In contrast with Aileen's orchid glow and tinted richness Mrs.
Rambaud's simple gray silk, the collar of which came almost to her
ears, was disturbing--almost reproving--but Mrs. Rambaud's ladylike
courtesy and generosity made everything all right.  She came out of
intellectual New England--the Emerson-Thoreau-Channing Phillips school
of philosophy--and was broadly tolerant.  As a matter of fact, she
liked Aileen and all the Orient richness she represented. "Such a sweet
little house this is," she said, smilingly.  "We've noticed it often.
We're not so far removed from you but what we might be called
neighbors."

Aileen's eyes spoke appreciation.  Although she could not fully grasp
Mrs. Rambaud, she understood her, in a way, and liked her. She was
probably something like her own mother would have been if the latter
had been highly educated.  While they were moving into the
reception-room Taylor Lord was announced.  Cowperwood took his hand and
brought him forward to the others.

"Mrs. Cowperwood," said Lord, admiringly--a tall, rugged, thoughtful
person--"let me be one of many to welcome you to Chicago.  After
Philadelphia you will find some things to desire at first, but we all
come to like it eventually."

"Oh, I'm sure I shall," smiled Aileen.

"I lived in Philadelphia years ago, but only for a little while," added
Lord.  "I left there to come here."

The observation gave Aileen the least pause, but she passed it over
lightly.  This sort of accidental reference she must learn to expect;
there might be much worse bridges to cross.

"I find Chicago all right," she replied, briskly.  "There's nothing the
matter with it.  It has more snap than Philadelphia ever had."

"I'm glad to hear you say that.  I like it so much.  Perhaps it's
because I find such interesting things to do here."

He was admiring the splendor of her arms and hair.  What need had
beautiful woman to be intellectual, anyhow, he was saying to himself,
sensing that Aileen might be deficient in ultimate refinement.

Once more an announcement from the butler, and now Mr. and Mrs. Addison
entered.  Addison was not at all concerned over coming here--liked the
idea of it; his own position and that of his wife in Chicago was
secure.  "How are you, Cowperwood?" he beamed, laying one hand on the
latter's shoulder.  "This is fine of you to have us in to-night.  Mrs.
Cowperwood, I've been telling your husband for nearly a year now that
he should bring you out here. Did he tell you?" (Addison had not as yet
confided to his wife the true history of Cowperwood and Aileen.)

"Yes, indeed," replied Aileen, gaily, feeling that Addison was charmed
by her beauty.  "I've been wanting to come, too.  It's his fault that I
wasn't here sooner."

Addison, looking circumspectly at Aileen, said to himself that she was
certainly a stunning-looking woman.  So she was the cause of the first
wife's suit.  No wonder.  What a splendid creature! He contrasted her
with Mrs. Addison, and to his wife's disadvantage. She had never been
as striking, as stand-upish as Aileen, though possibly she might have
more sense.  Jove! if he could find a woman like Aileen to-day.  Life
would take on a new luster.  And yet he had women--very carefully, very
subterraneously.  But he had them.

"It's such a pleasure to meet you," Mrs. Addison, a corpulent,
bejeweled lady, was saying to Aileen.  "My husband and yours have
become the best of friends, apparently.  We must see more of each
other."

She babbled on in a puffy social way, and Aileen felt as though she
were getting along swiftly.  The butler brought in a great tray of
appetizers and cordials, and put them softly on a remote table.  Dinner
was served, and the talk flowed on; they discussed the growth of the
city, a new church that Lord was building ten blocks farther out;
Rambaud told about some humorous land swindles. It was quite gay.
Meanwhile Aileen did her best to become interested in Mrs. Rambaud and
Mrs. Addison.  She liked the latter somewhat better, solely because it
was a little easier to talk to her.  Mrs. Rambaud Aileen knew to be the
wiser and more charitable woman, but she frightened her a little;
presently she had to fall back on Mr. Lord's help.  He came to her
rescue gallantly, talking of everything that came into his mind.  All
the men outside of Cowperwood were thinking how splendid Aileen was
physically, how white were her arms, how rounded her neck and
shoulders, how rich her hair.




Chapter VII

Chicago Gas


Old Peter Laughlin, rejuvenated by Cowperwood's electric ideas, was
making money for the house.  He brought many bits of interesting gossip
from the floor, and such shrewd guesses as to what certain groups and
individuals were up to, that Cowperwood was able to make some very
brilliant deductions.

"By Gosh! Frank, I think I know exactly what them fellers are trying to
do," Laughlin would frequently remark of a morning, after he had lain
in his lonely Harrison Street bed meditating the major portion of the
night.  "That there Stock Yards gang" (and by gang he meant most of the
great manipulators, like Arneel, Hand, Schryhart and others) "are after
corn again.  We want to git long o' that now, or I miss my guess.  What
do you think, huh?"

Cowperwood, schooled by now in many Western subtleties which he had not
previously known, and daily becoming wiser, would as a rule give an
instantaneous decision.

"You're right.  Risk a hundred thousand bushels.  I think New York
Central is going to drop a point or two in a few days.  We'd better go
short a point."

Laughlin could never figure out quite how it was that Cowperwood always
seemed to know and was ready to act quite as quickly in local matters
as he was himself.  He understood his wisdom concerning Eastern shares
and things dealt in on the Eastern exchange, but these Chicago matters?

"Whut makes you think that?" he asked Cowperwood, one day, quite
curiously.

"Why, Peter," Cowperwood replied, quite simply, "Anton Videra" (one of
the directors of the Wheat and Corn Bank) "was in here yesterday while
you were on 'change, and he was telling me." He described a situation
which Videra had outlined.

Laughlin knew Videra as a strong, wealthy Pole who had come up in the
last few years.  It was strange how Cowperwood naturally got in with
these wealthy men and won their confidence so quickly. Videra would
never have become so confidential with him.

"Huh!" he exclaimed.  "Well, if he says it it's more'n likely so."

So Laughlin bought, and Peter Laughlin & Co. won.

But this grain and commission business, while it was yielding a profit
which would average about twenty thousand a year to each partner, was
nothing more to Cowperwood than a source of information.

He wanted to "get in" on something that was sure to bring very great
returns within a reasonable time and that would not leave him in any
such desperate situation as he was at the time of the Chicago
fire--spread out very thin, as he put it.  He had interested in his
ventures a small group of Chicago men who were watching him--Judah
Addison, Alexander Rambaud, Millard Bailey, Anton Videra--men who,
although not supreme figures by any means, had free capital.  He knew
that he could go to them with any truly sound proposition.  The one
thing that most attracted his attention was the Chicago gas situation,
because there was a chance to step in almost unheralded in an as yet
unoccupied territory; with franchises once secured--the reader can
quite imagine how--he could present himself, like a Hamilcar Barca in
the heart of Spain or a Hannibal at the gates of Rome, with a demand
for surrender and a division of spoils.

There were at this time three gas companies operating in the three
different divisions of the city--the three sections, or "sides," as
they were called--South, West, and North, and of these the Chicago Gas,
Light, and Coke Company, organized in 1848 to do business on the South
Side, was the most flourishing and important. The People's Gas, Light,
and Coke Company, doing business on the West Side, was a few years
younger than the South Chicago company, and had been allowed to spring
into existence through the foolish self-confidence of the organizer and
directors of the South Side company, who had fancied that neither the
West Side nor the North Side was going to develop very rapidly for a
number of years to come, and had counted on the city council's allowing
them to extend their mains at any time to these other portions of the
city.  A third company, the North Chicago Gas Illuminating Company, had
been organized almost simultaneously with the West Side company by the
same process through which the other companies had been brought into
life--their avowed intention, like that of the West Side company, being
to confine their activities to the sections from which the organizers
presumably came.

Cowperwood's first project was to buy out and combine the three old
city companies.  With this in view he looked up the holders in all
three corporations--their financial and social status. It was his idea
that by offering them three for one, or even four for one, for every
dollar represented by the market value of their stock he might buy in
and capitalize the three companies as one. Then, by issuing sufficient
stock to cover all his obligations, he would reap a rich harvest and at
the same time leave himself in charge.  He approached Judah Addison
first as the most available man to help float a scheme of this kind.
He did not want him as a partner so much as he wanted him as an
investor.

"Well, I'll tell you how I feel about this," said Addison, finally.
"You've hit on a great idea here.  It's a wonder it hasn't occurred to
some one else before.  And you'll want to keep rather quiet about it,
or some one else will rush in and do it.  We have a lot of venturesome
men out here.  But I like you, and I'm with you. Now it wouldn't be
advisable for me to go in on this personally--not openly, anyhow--but
I'll promise to see that you get some of the money you want.  I like
your idea of a central holding company, or pool, with you in charge as
trustee, and I'm perfectly willing that you should manage it, for I
think you can do it. Anyhow, that leaves me out, apparently, except as
an Investor. But you will have to get two or three others to help carry
this guarantee with me.  Have you any one in mind?"

"Oh yes," replied Cowperwood.  "Certainly.  I merely came to you
first." He mentioned Rambaud, Videra, Bailey, and others.

"They're all right," said Addison, "if you can get them.  But I'm not
sure, even then, that you can induce these other fellows to sell out.
They're not investors in the ordinary sense.  They're people who look
on this gas business as their private business. They started it.  They
like it.  They built the gas-tanks and laid the mains.  It won't be
easy."

Cowperwood found, as Addison predicted, that it was not such an easy
matter to induce the various stock-holders and directors in the old
companies to come in on any such scheme of reorganization. A closer,
more unresponsive set of men he was satisfied he had never met.  His
offer to buy outright at three or four for one they refused absolutely.
The stock in each case was selling from one hundred and seventy to two
hundred and ten, and intrinsically was worth more every year, as the
city was growing larger and its need of gas greater.  At the same time
they were suspicious--one and all--of any combination scheme by an
outsider.  Who was he? Whom did he represent? He could make it clear
that he had ample capital, but not who his backers were.  The old
officers and directors fancied that it was a scheme on the part of some
of the officers and directors of one of the other companies to get
control and oust them.  Why should they sell? Why be tempted by greater
profits from their stock when they were doing very well as it was?
Because of his newness to Chicago and his lack of connection as yet
with large affairs Cowperwood was eventually compelled to turn to
another scheme--that of organizing new companies in the suburbs as an
entering-wedge of attack upon the city proper.  Suburbs such as Lake
View and Hyde Park, having town or village councils of their own, were
permitted to grant franchises to water, gas, and street-railway
companies duly incorporated under the laws of the state.  Cowperwood
calculated that if he could form separate and seemingly distinct
companies for each of the villages and towns, and one general company
for the city later, he would be in a position to dictate terms to the
older organizations.  It was simply a question of obtaining his
charters and franchises before his rivals had awakened to the situation.

The one difficulty was that he knew absolutely nothing of the business
of gas--its practical manufacture and distribution--and had never been
particularly interested init.  Street-railroading, his favorite form of
municipal profit-seeking, and one upon which he had acquired an almost
endless fund of specialized information, offered no present practical
opportunity for him here in Chicago. He meditated on the situation, did
some reading on the manufacture of gas, and then suddenly, as was his
luck, found an implement ready to his hand.

It appeared that in the course of the life and growth of the South Side
company there had once been a smaller organization founded by a man by
the name of Sippens--Henry De Soto Sippens--who had entered and
actually secured, by some hocus-pocus, a franchise to manufacture and
sell gas in the down-town districts, but who had been annoyed by all
sorts of legal processes until he had finally been driven out or
persuaded to get out.  He was now in the real-estate business in Lake
View.  Old Peter Laughlin knew him.

"He's a smart little cuss," Laughlin told Cowperwood.  "I thort onct
he'd make a go of it, but they ketched him where his hair was short,
and he had to let go.  There was an explosion in his tank over here
near the river onct, an I think he thort them fellers blew him up.
Anyhow, he got out.  I ain't seen ner heard sight of him fer years."

Cowperwood sent old Peter to look up Mr. Sippens and find out what he
was really doing, and whether he would be interested to get back in the
gas business.  Enter, then, a few days later into the office of Peter
Laughlin & Co. Henry De Soto Sippens.  He was a very little man, about
fifty years of age; he wore a high, four-cornered, stiff felt hat, with
a short brown business coat (which in summer became seersucker) and
square-toed shoes; he looked for all the world like a country drug or
book store owner, with perhaps the air of a country doctor or lawyer
superadded. His cuffs protruded too far from his coat-sleeves, his
necktie bulged too far out of his vest, and his high hat was set a
little too far back on his forehead; otherwise he was acceptable,
pleasant, and interesting.  He had short side-burns--reddish
brown--which stuck out quite defiantly, and his eyebrows were heavy.

"Mr. Sippens," said Cowperwood, blandly, "you were once in the gas
manufacturing and distributing business here in Chicago, weren't you?"

"I think I know as much about the manufacture of gas as any one,"
replied Sippens, almost contentiously.  "I worked at it for a number of
years."

"Well, now, Mr. Sippens, I was thinking that it might be interesting to
start a little gas company in one of these outlying villages that are
growing so fast and see if we couldn't make some money out of it.  I'm
not a practical gas man myself, but I thought I might interest some one
who was." He looked at Sippens in a friendly, estimating way.  "I have
heard of you as some one who has had considerable experience in this
field here in Chicago.  If I should get up a company of this kind, with
considerable backing, do you think you might be willing to take the
management of it?"

"Oh, I know all about this gas field," Mr. Sippens was about to say.
"It can't be done." But he changed his mind before opening his lips.
"If I were paid enough," he said, cautiously.  "I suppose you know what
you have to contend with?"

"Oh yes," Cowperwood replied, smiling.  "What would you consider 'paid
enough' to mean?"

"Oh, if I were given six thousand a year and a sufficient interest in
the company--say, a half, or something like that--I might consider it,"
replied Sippens, determined, as he thought, to frighten Cowperwood off
by his exorbitant demands.  He was making almost six thousand dollars a
year out of his present business.

"You wouldn't think that four thousand in several companies--say up to
fifteen thousand dollars--and an interest of about a tenth in each
would be better?"

Mr. Sippens meditated carefully on this.  Plainly, the man before him
was no trifling beginner.  He looked at Cowperwood shrewdly and saw at
once, without any additional explanation of any kind, that the latter
was preparing a big fight of some sort.  Ten years before Sippens had
sensed the immense possibilities of the gas business.  He had tried to
"get in on it," but had been sued, waylaid, enjoined, financially
blockaded, and finally blown up. He had always resented the treatment
he had received, and he had bitterly regretted his inability to
retaliate.  He had thought his days of financial effort were over, but
here was a man who was subtly suggesting a stirring fight, and who was
calling him, like a hunter with horn, to the chase.

"Well, Mr. Cowperwood," he replied, with less defiance and more
camaraderie, "if you could show me that you have a legitimate
proposition in hand I am a practical gas man.  I know all about mains,
franchise contracts, and gas-machinery.  I organized and installed the
plant at Dayton, Ohio, and Rochester, New York.  I would have been rich
if I had got here a little earlier." The echo of regret was in his
voice.

"Well, now, here's your chance, Mr. Sippens," urged Cowperwood, subtly.
"Between you and me there's going to be a big new gas company in the
field.  We'll make these old fellows step up and see us quickly.
Doesn't that interest you? There'll be plenty of money.  It isn't that
that's wanting--it's an organizer, a fighter, a practical gas man to
build the plant, lay the mains, and so on." Cowperwood rose suddenly,
straight and determined--a trick with him when he wanted to really
impress any one.  He seemed to radiate force, conquest, victory.  "Do
you want to come in?"

"Yes, I do, Mr. Cowperwood!" exclaimed Sippens, jumping to his feet,
putting on his hat and shoving it far back on his head.  He looked like
a chest-swollen bantam rooster.

Cowperwood took his extended hand.

"Get your real-estate affairs in order.  I'll want you to get me a
franchise in Lake View shortly and build me a plant.  I'll give you all
the help you need.  I'll arrange everything to your satisfaction within
a week or so.  We will want a good lawyer or two."

Sippens smiled ecstatically as he left the office.  Oh, the wonder of
this, and after ten years! Now he would show those crooks.  Now he had
a real fighter behind him--a man like himself.  Now, by George, the fur
would begin to fly! Who was this man, anyhow? What a wonder! He would
look him up.  He knew that from now on he would do almost anything
Cowperwood wanted him to do.




Chapter VIII

Now This is Fighting


When Cowperwood, after failing in his overtures to the three city gas
companies, confided to Addison his plan of organizing rival companies
in the suburbs, the banker glared at him appreciatively. "You're a
smart one!" he finally exclaimed.  "You'll do! I back you to win!" He
went on to advise Cowperwood that he would need the assistance of some
of the strong men on the various village councils.  "They're all as
crooked as eels' teeth," he went on. "But there are one or two that are
more crooked than others and safer--bell-wethers.  Have you got your
lawyer?"

"I haven't picked one yet, but I will.  I'm looking around for the
right man now.

"Well, of course, I needn't tell you how important that is.  There is
one man, old General Van Sickle, who has had considerable training in
these matters.  He's fairly reliable."

The entrance of Gen. Judson P. Van Sickle threw at the very outset a
suggestive light on the whole situation.  The old soldier, over fifty,
had been a general of division during the Civil War, and had got his
real start in life by filing false titles to property in southern
Illinois, and then bringing suits to substantiate his fraudulent claims
before friendly associates.  He was now a prosperous go-between,
requiring heavy retainers, and yet not over-prosperous. There was only
one kind of business that came to the General--this kind; and one
instinctively compared him to that decoy sheep at the stock-yards that
had been trained to go forth into nervous, frightened flocks of its
fellow-sheep, balking at being driven into the slaughtering-pens, and
lead them peacefully into the shambles, knowing enough always to make
his own way quietly to the rear during the onward progress and thus
escape.  A dusty old lawyer, this, with Heaven knows what welter of
altered wills, broken promises, suborned juries, influenced judges,
bribed councilmen and legislators, double-intentioned agreements and
contracts, and a whole world of shifty legal calculations and false
pretenses floating around in his brain.  Among the politicians, judges,
and lawyers generally, by reason of past useful services, he was
supposed to have some powerful connections.  He liked to be called into
any case largely because it meant something to do and kept him from
being bored.  When compelled to keep an appointment in winter, he would
slip on an old greatcoat of gray twill that he had worn until it was
shabby, then, taking down a soft felt hat, twisted and pulled out of
shape by use, he would pull it low over his dull gray eyes and amble
forth.  In summer his clothes looked as crinkled as though he had slept
in them for weeks.  He smoked. In cast of countenance he was not wholly
unlike General Grant, with a short gray beard and mustache which always
seemed more or less unkempt and hair that hung down over his forehead
in a gray mass.  The poor General! He was neither very happy nor very
unhappy--a doubting Thomas without faith or hope in humanity and
without any particular affection for anybody.

"I'll tell you how it is with these small councils, Mr. Cowperwood,"
observed Van Sickle, sagely, after the preliminaries of the first
interview had been dispensed with.

"They're worse than the city council almost, and that's about as bad as
it can be.  You can't do anything without money where these little
fellows are concerned.  I don't like to be too hard on men, but these
fellows--" He shook his head.

"I understand," commented Cowperwood.  "They're not very pleasing, even
after you make all allowances."

"Most of them," went on the General, "won't stay put when you think you
have them.  They sell out.  They're just as apt as not to run to this
North Side Gas Company and tell them all about the whole thing before
you get well under way.  Then you have to pay them more money, rival
bills will be introduced, and all that." The old General pulled a long
face.  "Still, there are one or two of them that are all right," he
added, "if you can once get them interested--Mr. Duniway and Mr.
Gerecht."

"I'm not so much concerned with how it has to be done, General,"
suggested Cowperwood, amiably, "but I want to be sure that it will be
done quickly and quietly.  I don't want to be bothered with details.
Can it be done without too much publicity, and about what do you think
it is going to cost?"

"Well, that's pretty hard to say until I look into the matter," said
the General, thoughtfully.  "It might cost only four and it might cost
all of forty thousand dollars--even more.  I can't tell. I'd like to
take a little time and look into it." The old gentleman was wondering
how much Cowperwood was prepared to spend.

"Well, we won't bother about that now.  I'm willing to be as liberal as
necessary.  I've sent for Mr. Sippens, the president of the Lake View
Gas and Fuel Company, and he'll be here in a little while.  You will
want to work with him as closely as you can."  The energetic Sippens
came after a few moments, and he and Van Sickle, after being instructed
to be mutually helpful and to keep Cowperwood's name out of all matters
relating to this work, departed together. They were an odd pair--the
dusty old General phlegmatic, disillusioned, useful, but not inclined
to feel so; and the smart, chipper Sippens, determined to wreak a kind
of poetic vengeance on his old-time enemy, the South Side Gas Company,
via this seemingly remote Northside conspiracy.  In ten minutes they
were hand in glove, the General describing to Sippens the penurious and
unscrupulous brand of Councilman Duniway's politics and the friendly
but expensive character of Jacob Gerecht.  Such is life.

In the organization of the Hyde Park company Cowperwood, because he
never cared to put all his eggs in one basket, decided to secure a
second lawyer and a second dummy president, although he proposed to
keep De Soto Sippens as general practical adviser for all three or four
companies.  He was thinking this matter over when there appeared on the
scene a very much younger man than the old General, one Kent Barrows
McKibben, the only son of ex-Judge Marshall Scammon McKibben, of the
State Supreme Court.  Kent McKibben was thirty-three years old, tall,
athletic, and, after a fashion, handsome.  He was not at all vague
intellectually--that is, in the matter of the conduct of his
business--but dandified and at times remote.  He had an office in one
of the best blocks in Dearborn Street, which he reached in a reserved,
speculative mood every morning at nine, unless something important
called him down-town earlier.  It so happened that he had drawn up the
deeds and agreements for the real-estate company that sold Cowperwood
his lots at Thirty-seventh Street and Michigan Avenue, and when they
were ready he journeyed to the latter's office to ask if there were any
additional details which Cowperwood might want to have taken into
consideration.  When he was ushered in, Cowperwood turned to him his
keen, analytical eyes and saw at once a personality he liked.  McKibben
was just remote and artistic enough to suit him.  He liked his clothes,
his agnostic unreadableness, his social air.  McKibben, on his part,
caught the significance of the superior financial atmosphere at once.
He noted Cowperwood's light-brown suit picked out with strands of red,
his maroon tie, and small cameo cuff-links.  His desk, glass-covered,
looked clean and official.  The woodwork of the rooms was all cherry,
hand-rubbed and oiled, the pictures interesting steel-engravings of
American life, appropriately framed. The typewriter--at that time just
introduced--was in evidence, and the stock-ticker--also new--was
ticking volubly the prices current. The secretary who waited on
Cowperwood was a young Polish girl named Antoinette Nowak, reserved,
seemingly astute, dark, and very attractive.

"What sort of business is it you handle, Mr. McKibben?" asked
Cowperwood, quite casually, in the course of the conversation. And
after listening to McKibben's explanation he added, idly: "You might
come and see me some time next week.  It is just possible that I may
have something in your line."

In another man McKibben would have resented this remote suggestion of
future aid.  Now, instead, he was intensely pleased.  The man before
him gripped his imagination.  His remote intellectuality relaxed.  When
he came again and Cowperwood indicated the nature of the work he might
wish to have done McKibben rose to the bait like a fish to a fly.

"I wish you would let me undertake that, Mr. Cowperwood," he said,
quite eagerly.  "It's something I've never done, but I'm satisfied I
can do it.  I live out in Hyde Park and know most of the councilmen. I
can bring considerable influence to bear for you."

Cowperwood smiled pleasantly.

So a second company, officered by dummies of McKibben's selection, was
organized.  De Soto Sippens, without old General Van Sickle's
knowledge, was taken in as practical adviser.  An application for a
franchise was drawn up, and Kent Barrows McKibben began silent, polite
work on the South Side, coming into the confidence, by degrees, of the
various councilmen.

There was still a third lawyer, Burton Stimson, the youngest but
assuredly not the least able of the three, a pale, dark-haired Romeoish
youth with burning eyes, whom Cowperwood had encountered doing some
little work for Laughlin, and who was engaged to work on the West Side
with old Laughlin as ostensible organizer and the sprightly De Soto
Sippens as practical adviser.  Stimson was no mooning Romeo, however,
but an eager, incisive soul, born very poor, eager to advance himself.
Cowperwood detected that pliability of intellect which, while it might
spell disaster to some, spelled success for him.  He wanted the
intellectual servants.  He was willing to pay them handsomely, to keep
them busy, to treat them with almost princely courtesy, but he must
have the utmost loyalty. Stimson, while maintaining his calm and
reserve, could have kissed the arch-episcopal hand.  Such is the
subtlety of contact.

Behold then at once on the North Side, the South Side, the West
Side--dark goings to and fro and walkings up and down in the earth. In
Lake View old General Van Sickle and De Soto Sippens, conferring with
shrewd Councilman Duniway, druggist, and with Jacob Gerecht, ward boss
and wholesale butcher, both of whom were agreeable but exacting,
holding pleasant back-room and drug-store confabs with almost tabulated
details of rewards and benefits.  In Hyde Park, Mr. Kent Barrows
McKibben, smug and well dressed, a Chesterfield among lawyers, and with
him one J. J. Bergdoll, a noble hireling, long-haired and dusty,
ostensibly president of the Hyde Park Gas and Fuel Company, conferring
with Councilman Alfred B. Davis, manufacturer of willow and rattan
ware, and Mr. Patrick Gilgan, saloon-keeper, arranging a prospective
distribution of shares, offering certain cash consideration, lots,
favors, and the like. Observe also in the village of Douglas and West
Park on the West Side, just over the city line, the angular, humorous
Peter Laughlin and Burton Stimson arranging a similar deal or deals.

The enemy, the city gas companies, being divided into three factions,
were in no way prepared for what was now coming.  When the news finally
leaked out that applications for franchises had been made to the
several corporate village bodies each old company suspected the other
of invasion, treachery, robbery.  Pettifogging lawyers were sent, one
by each company, to the village council in each particular territory
involved, but no one of the companies had as yet the slightest idea who
was back of it all or of the general plan of operations.  Before any
one of them could reasonably protest, before it could decide that it
was willing to pay a very great deal to have the suburb adjacent to its
particular territory left free, before it could organize a legal fight,
councilmanic ordinances were introduced giving the applying company
what it sought; and after a single reading in each case and one open
hearing, as the law compelled, they were almost unanimously passed.
There were loud cries of dismay from minor suburban papers which had
almost been forgotten in the arrangement of rewards.  The large city
newspapers cared little at first, seeing these were outlying districts;
they merely made the comment that the villages were beginning well,
following in the steps of the city council in its distinguished career
of crime.

Cowperwood smiled as he saw in the morning papers the announcement of
the passage of each ordinance granting him a franchise.  He listened
with comfort thereafter on many a day to accounts by Laughlin, Sippens,
McKibben, and Van Sickle of overtures made to buy them out, or to take
over their franchises.  He worked on plans with Sippens looking to the
actual introduction of gas-plants. There were bond issues now to float,
stock to be marketed, contracts for supplies to be awarded, actual
reservoirs and tanks to be built, and pipes to be laid.  A pumped-up
public opposition had to be smoothed over.  In all this De Soto Sippens
proved a trump.  With Van Sickle, McKibben, and Stimson as his advisers
in different sections of the city he would present tabloid propositions
to Cowperwood, to which the latter had merely to bow his head in assent
or say no.  Then De Soto would buy, build, and excavate.  Cowperwood
was so pleased that he was determined to keep De Soto with him
permanently.  De Soto was pleased to think that he was being given a
chance to pay up old scores and to do large things; he was really
grateful.

"We're not through with those sharpers," he declared to Cowperwood,
triumphantly, one day.  "They'll fight us with suits.  They may join
hands later.  They blew up my gas-plant.  They may blow up ours."

"Let them blow," said Cowperwood.  "We can blow, too, and sue also. I
like lawsuits.  We'll tie them up so that they'll beg for quarter." His
eyes twinkled cheerfully.




Chapter IX

In Search of Victory


In the mean time the social affairs of Aileen had been prospering in a
small way, for while it was plain that they were not to be taken up at
once--that was not to be expected--it was also plain that they were not
to be ignored entirely.  One thing that helped in providing a nice
harmonious working atmosphere was the obvious warm affection of
Cowperwood for his wife.  While many might consider Aileen a little
brash or crude, still in the hands of so strong and capable a man as
Cowperwood she might prove available. So thought Mrs. Addison, for
instance, and Mrs. Rambaud.  McKibben and Lord felt the same way.  If
Cowperwood loved her, as he seemed to do, he would probably "put her
through" successfully.  And he really did love her, after his fashion.
He could never forget how splendid she had been to him in those old
days when, knowing full well the circumstances of his home, his wife,
his children, the probable opposition of her own family, she had thrown
over convention and sought his love.  How freely she had given of hers!
No petty, squeamish bickering and dickering here.  He had been "her
Frank" from the start, and he still felt keenly that longing in her to
be with him, to be his, which had produced those first wonderful,
almost terrible days.  She might quarrel, fret, fuss, argue, suspect,
and accuse him of flirtation with other women; but slight variations
from the norm in his case did not trouble her--at least she argued that
they wouldn't.  She had never had any evidence. She was ready to
forgive him anything, she said, and she was, too, if only he would love
her.

"You devil," she used to say to him, playfully.  "I know you.  I can
see you looking around.  That's a nice stenographer you have in the
office.  I suppose it's her."

"Don't be silly, Aileen," he would reply.  "Don't be coarse.  You know
I wouldn't take up with a stenographer.  An office isn't the place for
that sort of thing."

"Oh, isn't it? Don't silly me.  I know you.  Any old place is good
enough for you."

He laughed, and so did she.  She could not help it.  She loved him so.
There was no particular bitterness in her assaults.  She loved him, and
very often he would take her in his arms, kiss her tenderly, and coo:
"Are you my fine big baby? Are you my red-headed doll? Do you really
love me so much? Kiss me, then." Frankly, pagan passion in these two
ran high.  So long as they were not alienated by extraneous things he
could never hope for more delicious human contact.  There was no
reaction either, to speak of, no gloomy disgust.  She was physically
acceptable to him.  He could always talk to her in a genial, teasing
way, even tender, for she did not offend his intellectuality with
prudish or conventional notions. Loving and foolish as she was in some
ways, she would stand blunt reproof or correction.  She could suggest
in a nebulous, blundering way things that would be good for them to do.
Most of all at present their thoughts centered upon Chicago society,
the new house, which by now had been contracted for, and what it would
do to facilitate their introduction and standing.  Never did a woman's
life look more rosy, Aileen thought.  It was almost too good to be
true.  Her Frank was so handsome, so loving, so generous.  There was
not a small idea about him.  What if he did stray from her at times? He
remained faithful to her spiritually, and she knew as yet of no single
instance in which he had failed her.  She little knew, as much as she
knew, how blandly he could lie and protest in these matters.  But he
was fond of her just the same, and he really had not strayed to any
extent.

By now also, Cowperwood had invested about one hundred thousand dollars
in his gas-company speculations, and he was jubilant over his
prospects; the franchises were good for twenty years.  By that time he
would be nearly sixty, and he would probably have bought, combined
with, or sold out to the older companies at a great profit. The future
of Chicago was all in his favor.  He decided to invest as much as
thirty thousand dollars in pictures, if he could find the right ones,
and to have Aileen's portrait painted while she was still so beautiful.
This matter of art was again beginning to interest him immensely.
Addison had four or five good pictures--a Rousseau, a Greuze, a
Wouverman, and one Lawrence--picked up Heaven knows where.  A hotel-man
by the name of Collard, a dry-goods and real-estate merchant, was said
to have a very striking collection. Addison had told him of one Davis
Trask, a hardware prince, who was now collecting.  There were many
homes, he knew where art was beginning to be assembled.  He must begin,
too.

Cowperwood, once the franchises had been secured, had installed Sippens
in his own office, giving him charge for the time being. Small rented
offices and clerks were maintained in the region where practical
plant-building was going on.  All sorts of suits to enjoin, annul, and
restrain had been begun by the various old companies, but McKibben,
Stimson, and old General Van Sickle were fighting these with Trojan
vigor and complacency.  It was a pleasant scene.  Still no one knew
very much of Cowperwood's entrance into Chicago as yet.  He was a very
minor figure.  His name had not even appeared in connection with this
work.  Other men were being celebrated daily, a little to his envy.
When would he begin to shine? Soon, now, surely.  So off they went in
June, comfortable, rich, gay, in the best of health and spirits, intent
upon enjoying to the full their first holiday abroad.

It was a wonderful trip.  Addison was good enough to telegraph flowers
to New York for Mrs. Cowperwood to be delivered on shipboard. McKibben
sent books of travel.  Cowperwood, uncertain whether anybody would send
flowers, ordered them himself--two amazing baskets, which with
Addison's made three--and these, with attached cards, awaited them in
the lobby of the main deck.  Several at the captain's table took pains
to seek out the Cowperwoods.  They were invited to join several
card-parties and to attend informal concerts. It was a rough passage,
however, and Aileen was sick.  It was hard to make herself look just
nice enough, and so she kept to her room. She was very haughty, distant
to all but a few, and to these careful of her conversation.  She felt
herself coming to be a very important person.

Before leaving she had almost exhausted the resources of the Donovan
establishment in Chicago.  Lingerie, boudoir costumes,
walking-costumes, riding-costumes, evening-costumes she possessed in
plenty.  She had a jewel-bag hidden away about her person containing
all of thirty thousand dollars' worth of jewels.  Her shoes, stockings,
hats, and accessories in general were innumerable.  Because of all this
Cowperwood was rather proud of her.  She had such a capacity for life.
His first wife had been pale and rather anemic, while Aileen was fairly
bursting with sheer physical vitality.  She hummed and jested and
primped and posed.  There are some souls that just are, without
previous revision or introspection.  The earth with all its long past
was a mere suggestion to Aileen, dimly visualized if at all.  She may
have heard that there were once dinosaurs and flying reptiles, but if
so it made no deep impression on her. Somebody had said, or was saying,
that we were descended from monkeys, which was quite absurd, though it
might be true enough. On the sea the thrashing hills of green water
suggested a kind of immensity and terror, but not the immensity of the
poet's heart. The ship was safe, the captain at table in brass buttons
and blue uniform, eager to be nice to her--told her so.  Her faith
really, was in the captain.  And there with her, always, was
Cowperwood, looking at this whole, moving spectacle of life with a
suspicious, not apprehensive, but wary eye, and saying nothing about it.

In London letters given them by Addison brought several invitations to
the opera, to dinner, to Goodwood for a weekend, and so on. Carriages,
tallyhoes, cabs for riding were invoked.  A week-end invitation to a
houseboat on the Thames was secured.  Their English hosts, looking on
all this as a financial adventure, good financial wisdom, were
courteous and civil, nothing more.  Aileen was intensely curious.  She
noted servants, manners, forms.  Immediately she began to think that
America was not good enough, perhaps; it wanted so many things.

"Now, Aileen, you and I have to live in Chicago for years and years,"
commented Cowperwood.  "Don't get wild.  These people don't care for
Americans, can't you see that? They wouldn't accept us if we were over
here--not yet, anyhow.  We're merely passing strangers, being
courteously entertained." Cowperwood saw it all.

Aileen was being spoiled in a way, but there was no help.  She dressed
and dressed.  The Englishmen used to look at her in Hyde Park, where
she rode and drove; at Claridges' where they stayed; in Bond Street,
where she shopped.  The Englishwomen, the majority of them remote,
ultra-conservative, simple in their tastes, lifted their eyes.
Cowperwood sensed the situation, but said nothing. He loved Aileen, and
she was satisfactory to him, at least for the present, anyhow,
beautiful.  If he could adjust her station in Chicago, that would be
sufficient for a beginning.  After three weeks of very active life,
during which Aileen patronized the ancient and honorable glories of
England, they went on to Paris.

Here she was quickened to a child-like enthusiasm.  "You know," she
said to Cowperwood, quite solemnly, the second morning, "the English
don't know how to dress.  I thought they did, but the smartest of them
copy the French.  Take those men we saw last night in the Cafe
d'Anglais.  There wasn't an Englishman I saw that compared with them."

"My dear, your tastes are exotic," replied Cowperwood, who was watching
her with pleased interest while he adjusted his tie. "The French smart
crowd are almost too smart, dandified.  I think some of those young
fellows had on corsets."

"What of it?" replied Aileen.  "I like it.  If you're going to be
smart, why not be very smart?"

"I know that's your theory, my dear," he said, "but it can be overdone.
There is such a thing as going too far.  You have to compromise even if
you don't look as well as you might.  You can't be too very
conspicuously different from your neighbors, even in the right
direction."

"You know," she said, stopping and looking at him, "I believe you're
going to get very conservative some day--like my brothers."

She came over and touched his tie and smoothed his hair.

"Well, one of us ought to be, for the good of the family," he
commented, half smiling.

"I'm not so sure, though, that it will be you, either."

"It's a charming day.  See how nice those white-marble statues look.
Shall we go to the Cluny or Versailles or Fontainbleau? To-night we
ought to see Bernhardt at the Francaise."

Aileen was so gay.  It was so splendid to be traveling with her true
husband at last.

It was on this trip that Cowperwood's taste for art and life and his
determination to possess them revived to the fullest.  He made the
acquaintance in London, Paris, and Brussels of the important art
dealers.  His conception of great masters and the older schools of art
shaped themselves.  By one of the dealers in London, who at once
recognized in him a possible future patron, he was invited with Aileen
to view certain private collections, and here and there was an artist,
such as Lord Leighton, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, or Whistler, to whom he
was introduced casually, an interested stranger. These men only saw a
strong, polite, remote, conservative man. He realized the emotional,
egotistic, and artistic soul.  He felt on the instant that there could
be little in common between such men and himself in so far as personal
contact was concerned, yet there was mutual ground on which they could
meet.  He could not be a slavish admirer of anything, only a princely
patron.  So he walked and saw, wondering how soon his dreams of
grandeur were to be realized.

In London he bought a portrait by Raeburn; in Paris a plowing scene by
Millet, a small Jan Steen, a battle piece by Meissonier, and a romantic
courtyard scene by Isabey.  Thus began the revival of his former
interest in art; the nucleus of that future collection which was to
mean so much to him in later years.

On their return, the building of the new Chicago mansion created the
next interesting diversion in the lives of Aileen and Cowperwood.
Because of some chateaux they saw in France that form, or rather a
modification of it as suggested by Taylor Lord, was adopted.  Mr. Lord
figured that it would take all of a year, perhaps a year and a half, to
deliver it in perfect order, but time was of no great importance in
this connection.  In the mean while they could strengthen their social
connections and prepare for that interesting day when they should be of
the Chicago elite.

There were, at this time, several elements in Chicago--those who,
having grown suddenly rich from dull poverty, could not so easily
forget the village church and the village social standards; those who,
having inherited wealth, or migrated from the East where wealth was
old, understood more of the savoir faire of the game; and those who,
being newly born into wealth and seeing the drift toward a smarter
American life, were beginning to wish they might shine in it--these
last the very young people.  The latter were just beginning to dream of
dances at Kinsley's, a stated Kirmess, and summer diversions of the
European kind, but they had not arrived as yet.  The first class,
although by far the dullest and most bovine, was still the most
powerful because they were the richest, money as yet providing the
highest standard.  The functions which these people provided were
stupid to the verge of distraction; really they were only the week-day
receptions and Sunday-afternoon calls of Squeedunk and Hohokus raised
to the Nth power.  The purpose of the whole matter was to see and be
seen.  Novelty in either thought or action was decidedly eschewed.  It
was, as a matter of fact, customariness of thought and action and the
quintessence of convention that was desired.  The idea of introducing a
"play actress," for instance, as was done occasionally in the East or
in London--never; even a singer or an artist was eyed askance. One
could easily go too far! But if a European prince should have strayed
to Chicago (which he never did) or if an Eastern social magnate chanced
to stay over a train or two, then the topmost circle of local wealth
was prepared to strain itself to the breaking-point.  Cowperwood had
sensed all this on his arrival, but he fancied that if he became rich
and powerful enough he and Aileen, with their fine house to help them,
might well be the leaven which would lighten the whole lump.
Unfortunately, Aileen was too obviously on the qui vive for those
opportunities which might lead to social recognition and equality, if
not supremacy. Like the savage, unorganized for protection and at the
mercy of the horrific caprice of nature, she was almost tremulous at
times with thoughts of possible failure.  Almost at once she had
recognized herself as unsuited temperamentally for association with
certain types of society women.  The wife of Anson Merrill, the great
dry-goods prince, whom she saw in one of the down-town stores one day,
impressed her as much too cold and remote.  Mrs. Merrill was a woman of
superior mood and education who found herself, in her own estimation,
hard put to it for suitable companionship in Chicago.  She was
Eastern-bred-Boston--and familiar in an offhand way with the superior
world of London, which she had visited several times.  Chicago at its
best was to her a sordid commercial mess. She preferred New York or
Washington, but she had to live here. Thus she patronized nearly all of
those with whom she condescended to associate, using an upward tilt of
the head, a tired droop of the eyelids, and a fine upward arching of
the brows to indicate how trite it all was.

It was a Mrs. Henry Huddlestone who had pointed out Mrs. Merrill to
Aileen.  Mrs. Huddlestone was the wife of a soap manufacturer living
very close to the Cowperwoods' temporary home, and she and her husband
were on the outer fringe of society.  She had heard that the
Cowperwoods were people of wealth, that they were friendly with the
Addisons, and that they were going to build a
two-hundred-thousand-dollar mansion.  (The value of houses always grows
in the telling.) That was enough.  She had called, being three doors
away, to leave her card; and Aileen, willing to curry favor here and
there, had responded.  Mrs. Huddlestone was a little woman, not very
attractive in appearance, clever in a social way, and eminently
practical.

"Speaking of Mrs. Merrill," commented Mrs. Huddlestone, on this
particular day, "there she is--near the dress-goods counter.  She
always carries that lorgnette in just that way."

Aileen turned and examined critically a tall, dark, slender woman of
the high world of the West, very remote, disdainful, superior.

"You don't know her?" questioned Aileen, curiously, surveying her at
leisure.

"No," replied Mrs. Huddlestone, defensively.  "They live on the North
Side, and the different sets don't mingle so much."

As a matter of fact, it was just the glory of the principal families
that they were above this arbitrary division of "sides," and could pick
their associates from all three divisions.

"Oh!" observed Aileen, nonchalantly.  She was secretly irritated to
think that Mrs. Huddlestone should find it necessary to point out Mrs.
Merrill to her as a superior person.

"You know, she darkens her eyebrows a little, I think," suggested Mrs.
Huddlestone, studying her enviously.  "Her husband, they say, isn't the
most faithful person in the world.  There's another woman, a Mrs.
Gladdens, that lives very close to them that he's very much interested
in."

"Oh!" said Aileen, cautiously.  After her own Philadelphia experience
she had decided to be on her guard and not indulge in too much gossip.
Arrows of this particular kind could so readily fly in her direction.

"But her set is really much the smartest," complimented Aileen's
companion.

Thereafter it was Aileen's ambition to associate with Mrs. Anson
Merrill, to be fully and freely accepted by her.  She did not know,
although she might have feared, that that ambition was never to be
realized.

But there were others who had called at the first Cowperwood home, or
with whom the Cowperwoods managed to form an acquaintance. There were
the Sunderland Sledds, Mr. Sledd being general traffic manager of one
of the southwestern railways entering the city, and a gentleman of
taste and culture and some wealth; his wife an ambitious nobody.  There
were the Walter Rysam Cottons, Cotton being a wholesale coffee-broker,
but more especially a local social litterateur; his wife a graduate of
Vassar.  There were the Norrie Simmses, Simms being secretary and
treasurer of the Douglas Trust and Savings Company, and a power in
another group of financial people, a group entirely distinct from that
represented by Addison and Rambaud.

Others included the Stanislau Hoecksemas, wealthy furriers; the Duane
Kingslands, wholesale flour; the Webster Israelses, packers; the
Bradford Candas, jewelers.  All these people amounted to something
socially.  They all had substantial homes and substantial incomes, so
that they were worthy of consideration.  The difference between Aileen
and most of the women involved a difference between naturalism and
illusion.  But this calls for some explanation.

To really know the state of the feminine mind at this time, one would
have to go back to that period in the Middle Ages when the Church
flourished and the industrious poet, half schooled in the facts of
life, surrounded women with a mystical halo.  Since that day the maiden
and the matron as well has been schooled to believe that she is of a
finer clay than man, that she was born to uplift him, and that her
favors are priceless.  This rose-tinted mist of romance, having nothing
to do with personal morality, has brought about, nevertheless, a
holier-than-thou attitude of women toward men, and even of women toward
women.  Now the Chicago atmosphere in which Aileen found herself was
composed in part of this very illusion.  The ladies to whom she had
been introduced were of this high world of fancy.  They conceived
themselves to be perfect, even as they were represented in religious
art and in fiction. Their husbands must be models, worthy of their high
ideals, and other women must have no blemish of any kind.  Aileen,
urgent, elemental, would have laughed at all this if she could have
understood.  Not understanding, she felt diffident and uncertain of
herself in certain presences.

Instance in this connection Mrs. Norrie Simms, who was a satellite of
Mrs. Anson Merrill.  To be invited to the Anson Merrills' for tea,
dinner, luncheon, or to be driven down-town by Mrs. Merrill, was
paradise to Mrs. Simms.  She loved to recite the bon mots of her idol,
to discourse upon her astonishing degree of culture, to narrate how
people refused on occasion to believe that she was the wife of Anson
Merrill, even though she herself declared it--those old chestnuts of
the social world which must have had their origin in Egypt and Chaldea.
Mrs. Simms herself was of a nondescript type, not a real personage,
clever, good-looking, tasteful, a social climber.  The two Simms
children (little girls) had been taught all the social graces of the
day--to pose, smirk, genuflect, and the like, to the immense delight of
their elders.  The nurse in charge was in uniform, the governess was a
much put-upon person. Mrs. Simms had a high manner, eyes for those
above her only, a serene contempt for the commonplace world in which
she had to dwell.

During the first dinner at which she entertained the Cowperwoods Mrs.
Simms attempted to dig into Aileen's Philadelphia history, asking if
she knew the Arthur Leighs, the Trevor Drakes, Roberta Willing, or the
Martyn Walkers.  Mrs. Simms did not know them herself, but she had
heard Mrs. Merrill speak of them, and that was enough of a handle
whereby to swing them.  Aileen, quick on the defense, ready to lie
manfully on her own behalf, assured her that she had known them, as
indeed she had--very casually--and before the rumor which connected her
with Cowperwood had been voiced abroad.  This pleased Mrs. Simms.

"I must tell Nellie," she said, referring thus familiarly to Mrs.
Merrill.

Aileen feared that if this sort of thing continued it would soon be all
over town that she had been a mistress before she had been a wife, that
she had been the unmentioned corespondent in the divorce suit, and that
Cowperwood had been in prison.  Only his wealth and her beauty could
save her; and would they?

One night they had been to dinner at the Duane Kingslands', and Mrs.
Bradford Canda had asked her, in what seemed a very significant way,
whether she had ever met her friend Mrs. Schuyler Evans, of
Philadelphia.  This frightened Aileen.

"Don't you suppose they must know, some of them, about us?" she asked
Cowperwood, on the way home.

"I suppose so," he replied, thoughtfully.  "I'm sure I don't know. I
wouldn't worry about that if I were you.  If you worry about it you'll
suggest it to them.  I haven't made any secret of my term in prison in
Philadelphia, and I don't intend to.  It wasn't a square deal, and they
had no right to put me there."

"I know, dear," replied Aileen, "it might not make so much difference
if they did know.  I don't see why it should.  We are not the only ones
that have had marriage troubles, I'm sure.

"There's just one thing about this; either they accept us or they
don't.  If they don't, well and good; we can't help it.  We'll go on
and finish the house, and give them a chance to be decent.  If they
won't be, there are other cities.  Money will arrange matters in New
York--that I know.  We can build a real place there, and go in on equal
terms if we have money enough--and I will have money enough," he added,
after a moment's pondering.  "Never fear.  I'll make millions here,
whether they want me to or not, and after that--well, after that, we'll
see what we'll see.  Don't worry.  I haven't seen many troubles in this
world that money wouldn't cure."

His teeth had that even set that they always assumed when he was
dangerously in earnest.  He took Aileen's hand, however, and pressed it
gently.

"Don't worry," he repeated.  "Chicago isn't the only city, and we won't
be the poorest people in America, either, in ten years. Just keep up
your courage.  It will all come out right.  It's certain to."

Aileen looked out on the lamp-lit length of Michigan Avenue, down which
they were rolling past many silent mansions.  The tops of all the lamps
were white, and gleamed through the shadows, receding to a thin point.
It was dark, but fresh and pleasant.  Oh, if only Frank's money could
buy them position and friendship in this interesting world; if it only
would! She did not quite realize how much on her own personality, or
the lack of it, this struggle depended.




Chapter X

A Test


The opening of the house in Michigan Avenue occurred late in November
in the fall of eighteen seventy-eight.  When Aileen and Cowperwood had
been in Chicago about two years.  Altogether, between people whom they
had met at the races, at various dinners and teas, and at receptions of
the Union and Calumet Clubs (to which Cowperwood, through Addison's
backing, had been admitted) and those whom McKibben and Lord
influenced, they were able to send invitations to about three hundred,
of whom some two hundred and fifty responded. Up to this time, owing to
Cowperwood's quiet manipulation of his affairs, there had been no
comment on his past--no particular interest in it.  He had money,
affable ways, a magnetic personality. The business men of the
city--those whom he met socially--were inclined to consider him
fascinating and very clever.  Aileen being beautiful and graceful for
attention, was accepted at more or less her own value, though the
kingly high world knew them not.

It is amazing what a showing the socially unplaced can make on occasion
where tact and discrimination are used.  There was a weekly social
paper published in Chicago at this time, a rather able publication as
such things go, which Cowperwood, with McKibben's assistance, had
pressed into service.  Not much can be done under any circumstances
where the cause is not essentially strong; but where, as in this case,
there is a semblance of respectability, considerable wealth, and great
force and magnetism, all things are possible.  Kent McKibben knew
Horton Biggers, the editor, who was a rather desolate and disillusioned
person of forty-five, gray, and depressed-looking--a sort of human
sponge or barnacle who was only galvanized into seeming interest and
cheerfulness by sheer necessity.  Those were the days when the society
editor was accepted as a member of society--de facto--and treated more
as a guest than a reporter, though even then the tendency was toward
elimination. Working for Cowperwood, and liking him, McKibben said to
Biggers one evening:

"You know the Cowperwoods, don't you, Biggers?"

"No," replied the latter, who devoted himself barnacle-wise to the more
exclusive circles.  "Who are they?"

"Why, he's a banker over here in La Salle Street.  They're from
Philadelphia.  Mrs. Cowperwood's a beautiful woman--young and all that.
They're building a house out here on Michigan Avenue.  You ought to
know them.  They're going to get in, I think.  The Addisons like them.
If you were to be nice to them now I think they'd appreciate it later.
He's rather liberal, and a good fellow."

Biggers pricked up his ears.  This social journalism was thin picking
at best, and he had very few ways of turning an honest penny.  The
would be's and half-in's who expected nice things said of them had to
subscribe, and rather liberally, to his paper.  Not long after this
brief talk Cowperwood received a subscription blank from the business
office of the Saturday Review, and immediately sent a check for one
hundred dollars to Mr. Horton Biggers direct. Subsequently certain not
very significant personages noticed that when the Cowperwoods dined at
their boards the function received comment by the Saturday Review, not
otherwise.  It looked as though the Cowperwoods must be favored; but
who were they, anyhow?

The danger of publicity, and even moderate social success, is that
scandal loves a shining mark.  When you begin to stand out the least
way in life, as separate from the mass, the cognoscenti wish to know
who, what, and why.  The enthusiasm of Aileen, combined with the genius
of Cowperwood, was for making their opening entertainment a very
exceptional affair, which, under the circumstances, and all things
considered, was a dangerous thing to do.  As yet Chicago was
exceedingly slow socially.  Its movements were, as has been said, more
or less bovine and phlegmatic.  To rush in with something utterly
brilliant and pyrotechnic was to take notable chances.  The more
cautious members of Chicago society, even if they did not attend, would
hear, and then would come ultimate comment and decision.

The function began with a reception at four, which lasted until
six-thirty, and this was followed by a dance at nine, with music by a
famous stringed orchestra of Chicago, a musical programme by artists of
considerable importance, and a gorgeous supper from eleven until one in
a Chinese fairyland of lights, at small tables filling three of the
ground-floor rooms.  As an added fillip to the occasion Cowperwood had
hung, not only the important pictures which he had purchased abroad,
but a new one--a particularly brilliant Gerome, then in the heyday of
his exotic popularity--a picture of nude odalisques of the harem,
idling beside the highly colored stone marquetry of an oriental bath.
It was more or less "loose" art for Chicago, shocking to the
uninitiated, though harmless enough to the illuminati; but it gave a
touch of color to the art-gallery which the latter needed.  There was
also, newly arrived and newly hung, a portrait of Aileen by a Dutch
artist, Jan van Beers, whom they had encountered the previous summer at
Brussels.  He had painted Aileen in nine sittings, a rather brilliant
canvas, high in key, with a summery, out-of-door world behind her--a
low stone-curbed pool, the red corner of a Dutch brick palace, a
tulip-bed, and a blue sky with fleecy clouds.  Aileen was seated on the
curved arm of a stone bench, green grass at her feet, a pink-and-white
parasol with a lacy edge held idly to one side; her rounded, vigorous
figure clad in the latest mode of Paris, a white and blue striped-silk
walking-suit, with a blue-and-white-banded straw hat, wide-brimmed,
airy, shading her lusty, animal eyes.  The artist had caught her spirit
quite accurately, the dash, the assumption, the bravado based on the
courage of inexperience, or lack of true subtlety.  A refreshing thing
in its way, a little showy, as everything that related to her was, and
inclined to arouse jealousy in those not so liberally endowed by life,
but fine as a character piece.  In the warm glow of the guttered
gas-jets she looked particularly brilliant here, pampered, idle,
jaunty--the well-kept, stall-fed pet of the world. Many stopped to see,
and many were the comments, private and otherwise.

This day began with a flurry of uncertainty and worried anticipation on
the part of Aileen.  At Cowperwood's suggestion she had employed a
social secretary, a poor hack of a girl, who had sent out all the
letters, tabulated the replies, run errands, and advised on one detail
and another.  Fadette, her French maid, was in the throes of preparing
for two toilets which would have to be made this day, one by two
o'clock at least, another between six and eight.  Her "mon dieus" and
"par bleus" could be heard continuously as she hunted for some article
of dress or polished an ornament, buckle, or pin.  The struggle of
Aileen to be perfect was, as usual, severe.  Her meditations, as to the
most becoming gown to wear were trying.  Her portrait was on the east
wall in the art-gallery, a spur to emulation; she felt as though all
society were about to judge her.  Theresa Donovan, the local
dressmaker, had given some advice; but Aileen decided on a heavy brown
velvet constructed by Worth, of Paris--a thing of varying aspects,
showing her neck and arms to perfection, and composing charmingly with
her flesh and hair.  She tried amethyst ear-rings and changed to topaz;
she stockinged her legs in brown silk, and her feet were shod in brown
slippers with red enamel buttons.

The trouble with Aileen was that she never did these things with that
ease which is a sure sign of the socially efficient.  She never quite
so much dominated a situation as she permitted it to dominate her.
Only the superior ease and graciousness of Cowperwood carried her
through at times; but that always did.  When he was near she felt quite
the great lady, suited to any realm.  When she was alone her courage,
great as it was, often trembled in the balance.  Her dangerous past was
never quite out of her mind.

At four Kent McKibben, smug in his afternoon frock, his quick,
receptive eyes approving only partially of all this show and effort,
took his place in the general reception-room, talking to Taylor Lord,
who had completed his last observation and was leaving to return later
in the evening.  If these two had been closer friends, quite intimate,
they would have discussed the Cowperwoods' social prospects; but as it
was, they confined themselves to dull conventionalities.  At this
moment Aileen came down-stairs for a moment, radiant.  Kent McKibben
thought he had never seen her look more beautiful.  After all,
contrasted with some of the stuffy creatures who moved about in
society, shrewd, hard, bony, calculating, trading on their assured
position, she was admirable.  It was a pity she did not have more
poise; she ought to be a little harder--not quite so genial.  Still,
with Cowperwood at her side, she might go far.

"Really, Mrs. Cowperwood," he said, "it is all most charming.  I was
just telling Mr. Lord here that I consider the house a triumph."

From McKibben, who was in society, and with Lord, another "in" standing
by, this was like wine to Aileen.  She beamed joyously.

Among the first arrivals were Mrs. Webster Israels, Mrs. Bradford
Canda, and Mrs. Walter Rysam Cotton, who were to assist in receiving.
These ladies did not know that they were taking their future
reputations for sagacity and discrimination in their hands; they had
been carried away by the show of luxury of Aileen, the growing
financial repute of Cowperwood, and the artistic qualities of the new
house.  Mrs. Webster Israels's mouth was of such a peculiar shape that
Aileen was always reminded of a fish; but she was not utterly homely,
and to-day she looked brisk and attractive.  Mrs. Bradford Canda, whose
old rose and silver-gray dress made up in part for an amazing
angularity, but who was charming withal, was the soul of interest, for
she believed this to be a very significant affair.  Mrs. Walter Rysam
Cotton, a younger woman than either of the others, had the polish of
Vassar life about her, and was "above" many things.  Somehow she half
suspected the Cowperwoods might not do, but they were making strides,
and might possibly surpass all other aspirants.  It behooved her to be
pleasant.

Life passes from individuality and separateness at times to a sort of
Monticelliesque mood of color, where individuality is nothing, the
glittering totality all.  The new house, with its charming French
windows on the ground floor, its heavy bands of stone flowers and
deep-sunk florated door, was soon crowded with a moving, colorful flow
of people.

Many whom Aileen and Cowperwood did not know at all had been invited by
McKibben and Lord; they came, and were now introduced.  The adjacent
side streets and the open space in front of the house were crowded with
champing horses and smartly veneered carriages. All with whom the
Cowperwoods had been the least intimate came early, and, finding the
scene colorful and interesting, they remained for some time.  The
caterer, Kinsley, had supplied a small army of trained servants who
were posted like soldiers, and carefully supervised by the Cowperwood
butler.  The new dining-room, rich with a Pompeian scheme of color, was
aglow with a wealth of glass and an artistic arrangement of delicacies.
The afternoon costumes of the women, ranging through autumnal grays,
purples, browns, and greens, blended effectively with the brown-tinted
walls of the entry-hall, the deep gray and gold of the general
living-room, the old-Roman red of the dining-room, the white-and-gold
of the music-room, and the neutral sepia of the art-gallery.

Aileen, backed by the courageous presence of Cowperwood, who, in the
dining-room, the library, and the art-gallery, was holding a private
levee of men, stood up in her vain beauty, a thing to see--almost to
weep over, embodying the vanity of all seeming things, the mockery of
having and yet not having.  This parading throng that was more curious
than interested, more jealous than sympathetic, more critical than
kind, was coming almost solely to observe.

"Do you know, Mrs. Cowperwood," Mrs. Simms remarked, lightly, "your
house reminds me of an art exhibit to-day.  I hardly know why."

Aileen, who caught the implied slur, had no clever words wherewith to
reply.  She was not gifted in that way, but she flared with resentment.

"Do you think so?" she replied, caustically.

Mrs. Simms, not all dissatisfied with the effect she had produced,
passed on with a gay air, attended by a young artist who followed
amorously in her train.

Aileen saw from this and other things like it how little she was really
"in." The exclusive set did not take either her or Cowperwood seriously
as yet.  She almost hated the comparatively dull Mrs. Israels, who had
been standing beside her at the time, and who had heard the remark; and
yet Mrs. Israels was much better than nothing. Mrs. Simms had
condescended a mild "how'd do" to the latter.

It was in vain that the Addisons, Sledds, Kingslands, Hoecksemas, and
others made their appearance; Aileen was not reassured. However, after
dinner the younger set, influenced by McKibben, came to dance, and
Aileen was at her best in spite of her doubts. She was gay, bold,
attractive.  Kent McKibben, a past master in the mazes and mysteries of
the grand march, had the pleasure of leading her in that airy, fairy
procession, followed by Cowperwood, who gave his arm to Mrs. Simms.
Aileen, in white satin with a touch of silver here and there and
necklet, bracelet, ear-rings, and hair-ornament of diamonds, glittered
in almost an exotic way. She was positively radiant.  McKibben, almost
smitten, was most attentive.

"This is such a pleasure," he whispered, intimately.  "You are very
beautiful--a dream!"

"You would find me a very substantial one," returned Aileen. "Would
that I might find," he laughed, gaily; and Aileen, gathering the hidden
significance, showed her teeth teasingly.  Mrs. Simms, engrossed by
Cowperwood, could not hear as she would have liked.

After the march Aileen, surrounded by a half-dozen of gay, rudely
thoughtless young bloods, escorted them all to see her portrait. The
conservative commented on the flow of wine, the intensely nude Gerome
at one end of the gallery, and the sparkling portrait of Aileen at the
other, the enthusiasm of some of the young men for her company.  Mrs.
Rambaud, pleasant and kindly, remarked to her husband that Aileen was
"very eager for life," she thought.  Mrs. Addison, astonished at the
material flare of the Cowperwoods, quite transcending in glitter if not
in size and solidity anything she and Addison had ever achieved,
remarked to her husband that "he must be making money very fast."

"The man's a born financier, Ella," Addison explained, sententiously.
"He's a manipulator, and he's sure to make money.  Whether they can get
into society I don't know.  He could if he were alone, that's sure.
She's beautiful, but he needs another kind of woman, I'm afraid.  She's
almost too good-looking."

"That's what I think, too.  I like her, but I'm afraid she's not going
to play her cards right.  It's too bad, too."

Just then Aileen came by, a smiling youth on either side, her own face
glowing with a warmth of joy engendered by much flattery. The
ball-room, which was composed of the music and drawing rooms thrown
into one, was now the objective.  It glittered before her with a moving
throng; the air was full of the odor of flowers, and the sound of music
and voices.

"Mrs. Cowperwood," observed Bradford Canda to Horton Biggers, the
society editor, "is one of the prettiest women I have seen in a long
time.  She's almost too pretty."

"How do you think she's taking?" queried the cautious Biggers.
"Charming, but she's hardly cold enough, I'm afraid; hardly clever
enough.  It takes a more serious type.  She's a little too
high-spirited.  These old women would never want to get near her; she
makes them look too old.  She'd do better if she were not so young and
so pretty."

"That's what I think exactly," said Biggers.  As a matter of fact, he
did not think so at all; he had no power of drawing any such accurate
conclusions.  But he believed it now, because Bradford Canda had said
it.




Chapter XI

The Fruits of Daring


Next morning, over the breakfast cups at the Norrie Simmses' and
elsewhere, the import of the Cowperwoods' social efforts was discussed
and the problem of their eventual acceptance or non-acceptance
carefully weighed.

"The trouble with Mrs. Cowperwood," observed Mrs. Simms, "is that she
is too gauche.  The whole thing was much too showy.  The idea of her
portrait at one end of the gallery and that Gerome at the other! And
then this item in the Press this morning! Why, you'd really think they
were in society." Mrs. Simms was already a little angry at having let
herself be used, as she now fancied she had been, by Taylor Lord and
Kent McKibben, both friends of hers.

"What did you think of the crowd?" asked Norrie, buttering a roll.

"Why, it wasn't representative at all, of course.  We were the most
important people they had there, and I'm sorry now that we went.  Who
are the Israelses and the Hoecksemas, anyhow? That dreadful woman!"
(She was referring to Mrs. Hoecksema.) "I never listened to duller
remarks in my life."

"I was talking to Haguenin of the Press in the afternoon," observed
Norrie.  "He says that Cowperwood failed in Philadelphia before he came
here, and that there were a lot of lawsuits.  Did you ever hear that?"

"No.  But she says she knows the Drakes and the Walkers there. I've
been intending to ask Nellie about that.  I have often wondered why he
should leave Philadelphia if he was getting along so well. People don't
usually do that."

Simms was envious already of the financial showing Cowperwood was
making in Chicago.  Besides, Cowperwood's manner bespoke supreme
intelligence and courage, and that is always resented by all save the
suppliants or the triumphant masters of other walks in life. Simms was
really interested at last to know something more about Cowperwood,
something definite.

Before this social situation had time to adjust itself one way or the
other, however, a matter arose which in its way was far more vital,
though Aileen might not have thought so.  The feeling between the new
and old gas companies was becoming strained; the stockholders of the
older organization were getting uneasy.  They were eager to find out
who was back of these new gas companies which were threatening to poach
on their exclusive preserves.  Finally one of the lawyers who had been
employed by the North Chicago Gas Illuminating Company to fight the
machinations of De Soto Sippens and old General Van Sickle, finding
that the Lake View Council had finally granted the franchise to the new
company and that the Appellate Court was about to sustain it, hit upon
the idea of charging conspiracy and wholesale bribery of councilmen.
Considerable evidence had accumulated that Duniway, Jacob Gerecht, and
others on the North Side had been influenced by cash, and to bring
legal action would delay final approval of the franchises and give the
old company time to think what else to do.  This North Side company
lawyer, a man by the name of Parsons, had been following up the
movements of Sippens and old General Van Sickle, and had finally
concluded that they were mere dummies and pawns, and that the real
instigator in all this excitement was Cowperwood, or, if not he, then
men whom he represented.  Parsons visited Cowperwood's office one day
in order to see him; getting no satisfaction, he proceeded to look up
his record and connections.  These various investigations and
counter-schemings came to a head in a court proceeding filed in the
United States Circuit Court late in November, charging Frank Algernon
Cowperwood, Henry De Soto Sippens, Judson P. Van Sickle, and others
with conspiracy; this again was followed almost immediately by suits
begun by the West and South Side companies charging the same thing.  In
each case Cowperwood's name was mentioned as the secret power behind
the new companies, conspiring to force the old companies to buy him
out.  His Philadelphia history was published, but only in part--a
highly modified account he had furnished the newspapers some time
before.  Though conspiracy and bribery are ugly words, still lawyers'
charges prove nothing.  But a penitentiary record, for whatever reason
served, coupled with previous failure, divorce, and scandal (though the
newspapers made only the most guarded reference to all this), served to
whet public interest and to fix Cowperwood and his wife in the public
eye.

Cowperwood himself was solicited for an interview, but his answer was
that he was merely a financial agent for the three new companies, not
an investor; and that the charges, in so far as he was concerned, were
untrue, mere legal fol-de-rol trumped up to make the situation as
annoying as possible.  He threatened to sue for libel. Nevertheless,
although these suits eventually did come to nothing (for he had fixed
it so that he could not be traced save as a financial agent in each
case), yet the charges had been made, and he was now revealed as a
shrewd, manipulative factor, with a record that was certainly
spectacular.

"I see," said Anson Merrill to his wife, one morning at breakfast,
"that this man Cowperwood is beginning to get his name in the papers."
He had the Times on the table before him, and was looking at a headline
which, after the old-fashioned pyramids then in vogue, read:
"Conspiracy charged against various Chicago citizens. Frank Algernon
Cowperwood, Judson P. Van Sickle, Henry De Soto Sippens, and others
named in Circuit Court complaint." It went on to specify other facts.
"I supposed he was just a broker."

"I don't know much about them," replied his wife, "except what Bella
Simms tells me.  What does it say?"

He handed her the paper.

"I have always thought they were merely climbers," continued Mrs.
Merrill.  "From what I hear she is impossible.  I never saw her."

"He begins well for a Philadelphian," smiled Merrill.  "I've seen him
at the Calumet.  He looks like a very shrewd man to me.  He's going
about his work in a brisk spirit, anyhow."

Similarly Mr. Norman Schryhart, a man who up to this time had taken no
thought of Cowperwood, although he had noted his appearance about the
halls of the Calumet and Union League Clubs, began to ask seriously who
he was.  Schryhart, a man of great physical and mental vigor, six feet
tall, hale and stolid as an ox, a very different type of man from Anson
Merrill, met Addison one day at the Calumet Club shortly after the
newspaper talk began.  Sinking into a great leather divan beside him,
he observed:

"Who is this man Cowperwood whose name is in the papers these days,
Addison? You know: all these people.  Didn't you introduce him to me
once?"

"I surely did," replied Addison, cheerfully, who, in spite of the
attacks on Cowperwood, was rather pleased than otherwise.  It was quite
plain from the concurrent excitement that attended all this struggle,
that Cowperwood must be managing things rather adroitly, and, best of
all, he was keeping his backers' names from view. "He's a Philadelphian
by birth.  He came out here several years ago, and went into the grain
and commission business.  He's a banker now.  A rather shrewd man, I
should say.  He has a lot of money."

"Is it true, as the papers say, that he failed for a million in
Philadelphia in 1871?"

"In so far as I know, it is."

"Well, was he in the penitentiary down there?"

"I think so--yes.  I believe it was for nothing really criminal,
though.  There appears to have been some political-financial mix-up,
from all I can learn."

"And is he only forty, as the papers say?"

"About that, I should judge.  Why?"

"Oh, this scheme of his looks rather pretentious to me--holding up the
old gas companies here.  Do you suppose he'll manage to do it?"

"I don't know that.  All I know is what I have read in the papers,"
replied Addison, cautiously.  As a matter of fact, he did not care to
talk about this business at all.  Cowperwood was busy at this very
time, through an agent, attempting to effect a compromise and union of
all interests concerned.  It was not going very well.

"Humph!" commented Schryhart.  He was wondering why men like himself,
Merrill, Arneel, and others had not worked into this field long ago or
bought out the old companies.  He went away interested, and a day or
two later--even the next morning--had formulated a scheme.  Not unlike
Cowperwood, he was a shrewd, hard, cold man. He believed in Chicago
implicitly and in all that related to its future.  This gas situation,
now that Cowperwood had seen the point, was very clear to him.  Even
yet it might not be impossible for a third party to step in and by
intricate manipulation secure the much coveted rewards.  Perhaps
Cowperwood himself could be taken over--who could tell?

Mr. Schryhart, being a very dominating type of person, did not believe
in minor partnerships or investments.  If he went into a thing of this
kind it was his preference to rule.  He decided to invite Cowperwood to
visit the Schryhart office and talk matters over.  Accordingly, he had
his secretary pen a note, which in rather lofty phrases invited
Cowperwood to call "on a matter of importance."

Now just at this time, it so chanced, Cowperwood was feeling rather
secure as to his place in the Chicago financial world, although he was
still smarting from the bitterness of the aspersions recently cast upon
him from various quarters.  Under such circumstances it was his
temperament to evince a rugged contempt for humanity, rich and poor
alike.  He was well aware that Schryhart, although introduced, had
never previously troubled to notice him.

"Mr. Cowperwood begs me to say," wrote Miss Antoinette Nowak, at his
dictation, "that he finds himself very much pressed for time at
present, but he would be glad to see Mr. Schryhart at his office at any
time."

This irritated the dominating, self-sufficient Schryhart a little, but
nevertheless he was satisfied that a conference could do no harm in
this instance--was advisable, in fact.  So one Wednesday afternoon he
journeyed to the office of Cowperwood, and was most hospitably received.

"How do you do, Mr. Schryhart," observed Cowperwood, cordially,
extending his hand.  "I'm glad to see you again.  I believe we met once
before several years ago."

"I think so myself," replied Mr. Schryhart, who was broad-shouldered,
square-headed, black-eyed, and with a short black mustache gracing a
firm upper lip.  He had hard, dark, piercing eyes.  "I see by the
papers, if they can be trusted," he said, coming direct to the point,
"that you are interesting yourself in local gas.  Is that true?"

"I'm afraid the papers cannot be generally relied on," replied
Cowperwood, quite blandly.  "Would you mind telling me what makes you
interested to know whether I am or not?"

"Well, to tell the truth," replied Schryhart, staring at the financier,
"I am interested in this local gas situation myself. It offers a rather
profitable field for investment, and several members of the old
companies have come to me recently to ask me to help them combine."
(This was not true at all.) "I have been wondering what chance you
thought you had of winning along the lines you are now taking."

Cowperwood smiled.  "I hardly care to discuss that," he said, "unless I
know much more of your motives and connections than I do at present.
Do I understand that you have really been appealed to by stockholders
of the old companies to come in and help adjust this matter?"

"Exactly," said Schryhart.

"And you think you can get them to combine? On what basis?"

"Oh, I should say it would be a simple matter to give each of them two
or three shares of a new company for one in each of the old. We could
then elect one set of officers, have one set of offices, stop all these
suits, and leave everybody happy."

He said this in an easy, patronizing way, as though Cowperwood had not
really thought it all out years before.  It amazed the latter no little
to see his own scheme patronizingly brought back to him, and that, too,
by a very powerful man locally--one who thus far had chosen to overlook
him utterly.

"On what basis," asked Cowperwood, cautiously, "would you expect these
new companies to come in?"

"On the same basis as the others, if they are not too heavily
capitalized.  I haven't thought out all the details.  Two or three for
one, according to investment.  Of course, the prejudices of these old
companies have to be considered."

Cowperwood meditated.  Should or should he not entertain this offer?
Here was a chance to realize quickly by selling out to the old
companies.  Only Schryhart, not himself, would be taking the big end in
this manipulative deal.  Whereas if he waited--even if Schryhart
managed to combine the three old companies into one--he might be able
to force better terms.  He was not sure.  Finally he asked, "How much
stock of the new company would be left in your hands--or in the hands
of the organizing group--after each of the old and new companies had
been provided for on this basis?"

"Oh, possibly thirty-five or forty per cent. of the whole," replied
Schryhart, ingratiatingly.  "The laborer is worthy of his hire."

"Quite so," replied Cowperwood, smiling, "but, seeing that I am the man
who has been cutting the pole to knock this persimmon it seems to me
that a pretty good share of that should come to me; don't you think so?"

"Just what do you mean?"

"Just what I have said.  I personally have organized the new companies
which have made this proposed combination possible.  The plan you
propose is nothing more than what I have been proposing for some time.
The officers and directors of the old companies are angry at me merely
because I am supposed to have invaded the fields that belong to them.
Now, if on account of that they are willing to operate through you
rather than through me, it seems to me that I should have a much larger
share in the surplus.  My personal interest in these new companies is
not very large.  I am really more of a fiscal agent than anything
else." (This was not true, but Cowperwood preferred to have his guest
think so.)

Schryhart smiled.  "But, my dear sir," he explained, "you forget that I
will be supplying nearly all the capital to do this."

"You forget," retorted Cowperwood, "that I am not a novice.  I will
guarantee to supply all the capital myself, and give you a good bonus
for your services, if you want that.  The plants and franchises of the
old and new companies are worth something.  You must remember that
Chicago is growing."

"I know that," replied Schryhart, evasively, "but I also know that you
have a long, expensive fight ahead of you.  As things are now you
cannot, of yourself, expect to bring these old companies to terms.
They won't work with you, as I understand it.  It will require an
outsider like myself--some one of influence, or perhaps, I had better
say, of old standing in Chicago, some one who knows these people--to
bring about this combination.  Have you any one, do you think, who can
do it better than I?"

"It is not at all impossible that I will find some one," replied
Cowperwood, quite easily.

"I hardly think so; certainly not as things are now.  The old companies
are not disposed to work through you, and they are through me.  Don't
you think you had better accept my terms and allow me to go ahead and
close this matter up?"

"Not at all on that basis," replied Cowperwood, quite simply.  "We have
invaded the enemies' country too far and done too much.  Three for one
or four for one--whatever terms are given the stockholders of the old
companies--is the best I will do about the new shares, and I must have
one-half of whatever is left for myself.  At that I will have to divide
with others." (This was not true either.)

"No," replied Schryhart, evasively and opposingly, shaking his square
head.  "It can't be done.  The risks are too great.  I might allow you
one-fourth, possibly--I can't tell yet."

"One-half or nothing," said Cowperwood, definitely.

Schryhart got up.  "That's the best you will do, is it?" he inquired.

"The very best."

"I'm afraid then," he said, "we can't come to terms.  I'm sorry. You
may find this a rather long and expensive fight."

"I have fully anticipated that," replied the financier.




Chapter XII

A New Retainer


Cowperwood, who had rebuffed Schryhart so courteously but firmly, was
to learn that he who takes the sword may well perish by the sword.  His
own watchful attorney, on guard at the state capitol, where
certificates of incorporation were issued in the city and village
councils, in the courts and so forth, was not long in learning that a
counter-movement of significance was under way. Old General Van Sickle
was the first to report that something was in the wind in connection
with the North Side company.  He came in late one afternoon, his dusty
greatcoat thrown loosely about his shoulders, his small, soft hat low
over his shaggy eyes, and in response to Cowperwood's "Evening,
General, what can I do for you?" seated himself portentously.

"I think you'll have to prepare for real rough weather in the future,
Captain," he remarked, addressing the financier with a courtesy title
that he had fallen in the habit of using.

"What's the trouble now?" asked Cowperwood.

"No real trouble as yet, but there may be.  Some one--I don't know
who--is getting these three old companies together in one. There's a
certificate of incorporation been applied for at Springfield for the
United Gas and Fuel Company of Chicago, and there are some directors'
meetings now going on at the Douglas Trust Company.  I got this from
Duniway, who seems to have friends somewhere that know."

Cowperwood put the ends of his fingers together in his customary way
and began to tap them lightly and rhythmically.

"Let me see--the Douglas Trust Company.  Mr. Simms is president of
that.  He isn't shrewd enough to organize a thing of that kind. Who are
the incorporators?"

The General produced a list of four names, none of them officers or
directors of the old companies.

"Dummies, every one," said Cowperwood, succinctly.  "I think I know,"
he said, after a few moments' reflection, "who is behind it, General;
but don't let that worry you.  They can't harm us if they do unite.
They're bound to sell out to us or buy us out eventually."

Still it irritated him to think that Schryhart had succeeded in
persuading the old companies to combine on any basis; he had meant to
have Addison go shortly, posing as an outside party, and propose this
very thing.  Schryhart, he was sure, had acted swiftly following their
interview.  He hurried to Addison's office in the Lake National.

"Have you heard the news?" exclaimed that individual, the moment
Cowperwood appeared.  "They're planning to combine.  It's Schryhart. I
was afraid of that.  Simms of the Douglas Trust is going to act as the
fiscal agent.  I had the information not ten minutes ago."

"So did I," replied Cowperwood, calmly.  "We should have acted a little
sooner.  Still, it isn't our fault exactly.  Do you know the terms of
agreement?"

"They're going to pool their stock on a basis of three to one, with
about thirty per cent. of the holding company left for Schryhart to
sell or keep, as he wants to.  He guarantees the interest.  We did that
for him--drove the game right into his bag."

"Nevertheless," replied Cowperwood, "he still has us to deal with. I
propose now that we go into the city council and ask for a blanket
franchise.  It can be had.  If we should get it, it will bring them to
their knees.  We will really be in a better position than they are with
these smaller companies as feeders.  We can unite with ourselves."

"That will take considerable money, won't it?"

"Not so much.  We may never need to lay a pipe or build a plant. They
will offer to sell out, buy, or combine before that.  We can fix the
terms.  Leave it to me.  You don't happen to know by any chance this
Mr. McKenty, who has so much say in local affairs here--John J.
McKenty?"

Cowperwood was referring to a man who was at once gambler, rumored
owner or controller of a series of houses of prostitution, rumored
maker of mayors and aldermen, rumored financial backer of many saloons
and contracting companies--in short, the patron saint of the political
and social underworld of Chicago, and who was naturally to be reckoned
with in matters which related to the city and state legislative
programme.

"I don't," said Addison; "but I can get you a letter.  Why?"

"Don't trouble to ask me that now.  Get me as strong an introduction as
you can."

"I'll have one for you to-day some time," replied Addison, efficiently.
"I'll send it over to you."

Cowperwood went out while Addison speculated as to this newest move.
Trust Cowperwood to dig a pit into which the enemy might fall.  He
marveled sometimes at the man's resourcefulness.  He never quarreled
with the directness and incisiveness of Cowperwood's action.

The man, McKenty, whom Cowperwood had in mind in this rather disturbing
hour, was as interesting and forceful an individual as one would care
to meet anywhere, a typical figure of Chicago and the West at the time.
He was a pleasant, smiling, bland, affable person, not unlike
Cowperwood in magnetism and subtlety, but different by a degree of
animal coarseness (not visible on the surface) which Cowperwood would
scarcely have understood, and in a kind of temperamental pull drawing
to him that vast pathetic life of the underworld in which his soul
found its solution.  There is a kind of nature, not artistic, not
spiritual, in no way emotional, nor yet unduly philosophical, that is
nevertheless a sphered content of life; not crystalline, perhaps, and
yet not utterly dark--an agate temperament, cloudy and strange.  As a
three-year-old child McKenty had been brought from Ireland by his
emigrant parents during a period of famine.  He had been raised on the
far South Side in a shanty which stood near a maze of railroad-tracks,
and as a naked baby he had crawled on its earthen floor.  His father
had been promoted to a section boss after working for years as a
day-laborer on the adjoining railroad, and John, junior, one of eight
other children, had been sent out early to do many things--to be an
errand-boy in a store, a messenger-boy for a telegraph company, an
emergency sweep about a saloon, and finally a bartender.  This last was
his true beginning, for he was discovered by a keen-minded politician
and encouraged to run for the state legislature and to study law.  Even
as a stripling what things had he not learned--robbery, ballot-box
stuffing, the sale of votes, the appointive power of leaders, graft,
nepotism, vice exploitation--all the things that go to make up (or did)
the American world of politics and financial and social strife.  There
is a strong assumption in the upper walks of life that there is nothing
to be learned at the bottom.  If you could have looked into the
capacious but balanced temperament of John J. McKenty you would have
seen a strange wisdom there and stranger memories--whole worlds of
brutalities, tendernesses, errors, immoralities suffered, endured, even
rejoiced in--the hardy, eager life of the animal that has nothing but
its perceptions, instincts, appetites to guide it.  Yet the man had the
air and the poise of a gentleman.

To-day, at forty-eight, McKenty was an exceedingly important personage.
His roomy house on the West Side, at Harrison Street and Ashland
Avenue, was visited at sundry times by financiers, business men,
office-holders, priests, saloon-keepers--in short, the whole range and
gamut of active, subtle, political life.  From McKenty they could
obtain that counsel, wisdom, surety, solution which all of them on
occasion were anxious to have, and which in one deft way and
another--often by no more than gratitude and an acknowledgment of his
leadership--they were willing to pay for. To police captains and
officers whose places he occasionally saved, when they should justly
have been discharged; to mothers whose erring boys or girls he took out
of prison and sent home again; to keepers of bawdy houses whom he
protected from a too harsh invasion of the grafting propensities of the
local police; to politicians and saloon-keepers who were in danger of
being destroyed by public upheavals of one kind and another, he seemed,
in hours of stress, when his smooth, genial, almost artistic face
beamed on them, like a heaven-sent son of light, a kind of Western god,
all-powerful, all-merciful, perfect.  On the other hand, there were
ingrates, uncompromising or pharasaical religionists and reformers,
plotting, scheming rivals, who found him deadly to contend with.  There
were many henchmen--runners from an almost imperial throne--to do his
bidding.  He was simple in dress and taste, married and (apparently)
very happy, a professing though virtually non-practising Catholic, a
suave, genial Buddha-like man, powerful and enigmatic.

When Cowperwood and McKenty first met, it was on a spring evening at
the latter's home.  The windows of the large house were pleasantly
open, though screened, and the curtains were blowing faintly in a light
air.  Along with a sense of the new green life everywhere came a breath
of stock-yards.

On the presentation of Addison's letter and of another, secured through
Van Sickle from a well-known political judge, Cowperwood had been
invited to call.  On his arrival he was offered a drink, a cigar,
introduced to Mrs. McKenty--who, lacking an organized social life of
any kind, was always pleased to meet these celebrities of the upper
world, if only for a moment--and shown eventually into the library.
Mrs. McKenty, as he might have observed if he had had the eye for it,
was plump and fifty, a sort of superannuated Aileen, but still showing
traces of a former hardy beauty, and concealing pretty well the
evidences that she had once been a prostitute.  It so happened that on
this particular evening McKenty was in a most genial frame of mind.
There were no immediate political troubles bothering him just now.  It
was early in May. Outside the trees were budding, the sparrows and
robins were voicing their several moods.  A delicious haze was in the
air, and some early mosquitoes were reconnoitering the screens which
protected the windows and doors.  Cowperwood, in spite of his various
troubles, was in a complacent state of mind himself.  He liked
life--even its very difficult complications--perhaps its complications
best of all.  Nature was beautiful, tender at times, but difficulties,
plans, plots, schemes to unravel and make smooth--these things were
what made existence worth while.

"Well now, Mr. Cowperwood," McKenty began, when they finally entered
the cool, pleasant library, "what can I do for you?"

"Well, Mr. McKenty," said Cowperwood, choosing his words and bringing
the finest resources of his temperament into play, "it isn't so much,
and yet it is.  I want a franchise from the Chicago city council, and I
want you to help me get it if you will.  I know you may say to me why
not go to the councilmen direct.  I would do that, except that there
are certain other elements--individuals--who might come to you.  It
won't offend you, I know, when I say that I have always understood that
you are a sort of clearing-house for political troubles in Chicago."

Mr. McKenty smiled.  "That's flattering," he replied, dryly.

"Now, I am rather new myself to Chicago," went on Cowperwood, softly.
"I have been here only a year or two.  I come from Philadelphia.  I
have been interested as a fiscal agent and an investor in several gas
companies that have been organized in Lake View, Hyde Park, and
elsewhere outside the city limits, as you may possibly have seen by the
papers lately.  I am not their owner, in the sense that I have provided
all or even a good part of the money invested in them.  I am not even
their manager, except in a very general way.  I might better be called
their promoter and guardian; but I am that for other people and myself."

Mr. McKenty nodded.

"Now, Mr. McKenty, it was not very long after I started out to get
franchises to do business in Lake View and Hyde Park before I found
myself confronted by the interests which control the three old city gas
companies.  They were very much opposed to our entering the field in
Cook County anywhere, as you may imagine, although we were not really
crowding in on their field.  Since then they have fought me with
lawsuits, injunctions, and charges of bribery and conspiracy."

"I know," put in Mr. McKenty.  "I have heard something of it."

"Quite so," replied Cowperwood.  "Because of their opposition I made
them an offer to combine these three companies and the three new ones
into one, take out a new charter, and give the city a uniform gas
service.  They would not do that--largely because I was an outsider, I
think.  Since then another person, Mr. Schryhart"--McKenty nodded--"who
has never had anything to do with the gas business here, has stepped in
and offered to combine them. His plan is to do exactly what I wanted to
do; only his further proposition is, once he has the three old
companies united, to invade this new gas field of ours and hold us up,
or force us to sell by obtaining rival franchises in these outlying
places.  There is talk of combining these suburbs with Chicago, as you
know, which would allow these three down-town franchises to become
mutually operative with our own.  This makes it essential for us to do
one of several things, as you may see--either to sell out on the best
terms we can now, or to continue the fight at a rather heavy expense
without making any attempt to strike back, or to get into the city
council and ask for a franchise to do business in the down-town
section--a general blanket franchise to sell gas in Chicago alongside
of the old companies--with the sole intention of protecting ourselves,
as one of my officers is fond of saying," added Cowperwood, humorously.

McKenty smiled again.  "I see," he said.  "Isn't that a rather large
order, though, Mr. Cowperwood, seeking a new franchise? Do you suppose
the general public would agree that the city needs an extra gas
company? It's true the old companies haven't been any too generous.  My
own gas isn't of the best." He smiled vaguely, prepared to listen
further.

"Now, Mr. McKenty, I know that you are a practical man," went on
Cowperwood, ignoring this interruption, "and so am I.  I am not coming
to you with any vague story concerning my troubles and expecting you to
be interested as a matter of sympathy.  I realize that to go into the
city council of Chicago with a legitimate proposition is one thing.  To
get it passed and approved by the city authorities is another.  I need
advice and assistance, and I am not begging it.  If I could get a
general franchise, such as I have described, it would be worth a very
great deal of money to me.  It would help me to close up and realize on
these new companies which are entirely sound and needed.  It would help
me to prevent the old companies from eating me up.  As a matter of
fact, I must have such a franchise to protect my interests and give me
a running fighting chance.  Now, I know that none of us are in politics
or finance for our health.  If I could get such a franchise it would be
worth from one-fourth to one-half of all I personally would make out of
it, providing my plan of combining these new companies with the old
ones should go through--say, from three to four hundred thousand
dollars." (Here again Cowperwood was not quite frank, but safe.) "It is
needless to say to you that I can command ample capital.  This
franchise would do that.  Briefly, I want to know if you won't give me
your political support in this matter and join in with me on the basis
that I propose? I will make it perfectly clear to you beforehand who my
associates are.  I will put all the data and details on the table
before you so that you can see for yourself how things are.  If you
should find at any time that I have misrepresented anything you are at
full liberty, of course, to withdraw.  As I said before," he concluded,
"I am not a beggar. I am not coming here to conceal any facts or to
hide anything which might deceive you as to the worth of all this to
us.  I want you to know the facts.  I want you to give me your aid on
such terms as you think are fair and equitable.  Really the only
trouble with me in this situation is that I am not a silk stocking.  If
I were this gas war would have been adjusted long ago.  These gentlemen
who are so willing to reorganize through Mr. Schryhart are largely
opposed to me because I am--comparatively--a stranger in Chicago and
not in their set.  If I were"--he moved his hand slightly--"I don't
suppose I would be here this evening asking for your favor, although
that does not say that I am not glad to be here, or that I would not be
glad to work with you in any way that I might. Circumstances simply
have not thrown me across your path before."

As he talked his eye fixed McKenty steadily, almost innocently; and the
latter, following him clearly, felt all the while that he was listening
to a strange, able, dark, and very forceful man. There was no beating
about the bush here, no squeamishness of spirit, and yet there was
subtlety--the kind McKenty liked.  While he was amused by Cowperwood's
casual reference to the silk stockings who were keeping him out, it
appealed to him.  He caught the point of view as well as the intention
of it.  Cowperwood represented a new and rather pleasing type of
financier to him.  Evidently, he was traveling in able company if one
could believe the men who had introduced him so warmly.  McKenty, as
Cowperwood was well aware, had personally no interest in the old
companies and also--though this he did not say--no particular sympathy
with them.  They were just remote financial corporations to him, paying
political tribute on demand, expecting political favors in return.
Every few weeks now they were in council, asking for one gas-main
franchise after another (special privileges in certain streets), asking
for better (more profitable) light-contracts, asking for dock
privileges in the river, a lower tax rate, and so forth and so on.
McKenty did not pay much attention to these things personally.  He had
a subordinate in council, a very powerful henchman by the name of
Patrick Dowling, a meaty, vigorous Irishman and a true watch-dog of
graft for the machine, who worked with the mayor, the city treasurer,
the city tax receiver--in fact, all the officers of the current
administration--and saw that such minor matters were properly
equalized.  Mr. McKenty had only met two or three of the officers of
the South Side Gas Company, and that quite casually.  He did not like
them very well.  The truth was that the old companies were officered by
men who considered politicians of the McKenty and Dowling stripe as
very evil men; if they paid them and did other such wicked things it
was because they were forced to do so.

"Well," McKenty replied, lingering his thin gold watch-chain in a
thoughtful manner, "that's an interesting scheme you have.  Of course
the old companies wouldn't like your asking for a rival franchise, but
once you had it they couldn't object very well, could they?" He smiled.
Mr. McKenty spoke with no suggestion of a brogue.  "From one point of
view it might be looked upon as bad business, but not entirely.  They
would be sure to make a great cry, though they haven't been any too
kind to the public themselves. But if you offered to combine with them
I see no objection.  It's certain to be as good for them in the long
run as it is for you. This merely permits you to make a better bargain."

"Exactly," said Cowperwood.

"And you have the means, you tell me, to lay mains in every part of the
city, and fight with them for business if they won't give in?"

"I have the means," said Cowperwood, "or if I haven't I can get them."

Mr. McKenty looked at Mr. Cowperwood very solemnly.  There was a kind
of mutual sympathy, understanding, and admiration between the two men,
but it was still heavily veiled by self-interest.  To Mr. McKenty
Cowperwood was interesting because he was one of the few business men
he had met who were not ponderous, pharasaical, even hypocritical when
they were dealing with him.

"Well, I'll tell you what I'll do, Mr. Cowperwood," he said, finally.
"I'll take it all under consideration.  Let me think it over until
Monday, anyhow.  There is more of an excuse now for the introduction of
a general gas ordinance than there would be a little later--I can see
that.  Why don't you draw up your proposed franchise and let me see it?
Then we might find out what some of the other gentlemen of the city
council think."

Cowperwood almost smiled at the word "gentlemen."

"I have already done that," he said.  "Here it is."

McKenty took it, surprised and yet pleased at this evidence of business
proficiency.  He liked a strong manipulator of this kind--the more
since he was not one himself, and most of those that he did know were
thin-blooded and squeamish.

"Let me take this," he said.  "I'll see you next Monday again if you
wish.  Come Monday."

Cowperwood got up.  "I thought I'd come and talk to you direct, Mr.
McKenty," he said, "and now I'm glad that I did.  You will find, if you
will take the trouble to look into this matter, that it is just as I
represent it.  There is a very great deal of money here in one way and
another, though it will take some little time to work it out."

Mr. McKenty saw the point.  "Yes," he said, sweetly, "to be sure."

They looked into each other's eyes as they shook hands.

"I'm not sure but you haven't hit upon a very good idea here,"
concluded McKenty, sympathetically.  "A very good idea, indeed. Come
and see me again next Monday, or about that time, and I'll let you know
what I think.  Come any time you have anything else you want of me.
I'll always be glad to see you.  It's a fine night, isn't it?" he
added, looking out as they neared the door. "A nice moon that!" he
added.  A sickle moon was in the sky.  "Good night."




Chapter XIII

The Die is Cast


The significance of this visit was not long in manifesting itself. At
the top, in large affairs, life goes off into almost inexplicable
tangles of personalities.  Mr. McKenty, now that the matter had been
called to his attention, was interested to learn about this gas
situation from all sides--whether it might not be more profitable to
deal with the Schryhart end of the argument, and so on.  But his
eventual conclusion was that Cowperwood's plan, as he had outlined it,
was the most feasible for political purposes, largely because the
Schryhart faction, not being in a position where they needed to ask the
city council for anything at present, were so obtuse as to forget to
make overtures of any kind to the bucaneering forces at the City Hall.

When Cowperwood next came to McKenty's house the latter was in a
receptive frame of mind.  "Well," he said, after a few genial
preliminary remarks, "I've been learning what's going on.  Your
proposition is fair enough.  Organize your company, and arrange your
plan conditionally.  Then introduce your ordinance, and we'll see what
can be done." They went into a long, intimate discussion as to how the
forthcoming stock should be divided, how it was to be held in escrow by
a favorite bank of Mr. McKenty's until the terms of the agreement under
the eventual affiliation with the old companies or the new union
company should be fulfilled, and details of that sort.  It was rather a
complicated arrangement, not as satisfactory to Cowperwood as it might
have been, but satisfactory in that it permitted him to win.  It
required the undivided services of General Van Sickle, Henry De Soto
Sippens, Kent Barrows McKibben, and Alderman Dowling for some little
time.  But finally all was in readiness for the coup.

On a certain Monday night, therefore, following the Thursday on which,
according to the rules of the city council, an ordinance of this
character would have to be introduced, the plan, after being publicly
broached but this very little while, was quickly considered by the city
council and passed.  There had been really no time for public
discussion.  This was just the thing, of course, that Cowperwood and
McKenty were trying to avoid.  On the day following the particular
Thursday on which the ordinance had been broached in council as certain
to be brought up for passage, Schryhart, through his lawyers and the
officers of the old individual gas companies, had run to the newspapers
and denounced the whole thing as plain robbery; but what were they to
do? There was so little time for agitation.  True the newspapers,
obedient to this larger financial influence, began to talk of "fair
play to the old companies," and the uselessness of two large rival
companies in the field when one would serve as well.  Still the public,
instructed or urged by the McKenty agents to the contrary, were not
prepared to believe it.  They had not been so well treated by the old
companies as to make any outcry on their behalf.

Standing outside the city council door, on the Monday evening when the
bill was finally passed, Mr. Samuel Blackman, president of the South
Side Gas Company, a little, wispy man with shoe-brush whiskers,
declared emphatically:

"This is a scoundrelly piece of business.  If the mayor signs that he
should be impeached.  There is not a vote in there to-night that has
not been purchased--not one.  This is a fine element of brigandage to
introduce into Chicago; why, people who have worked years and years to
build up a business are not safe!"

"It's true, every word of it," complained Mr. Jordan Jules, president
of the North Side company, a short, stout man with a head like an egg
lying lengthwise, a mere fringe of hair, and hard, blue eyes. He was
with Mr. Hudson Baker, tall and ambling, who was president of the West
Chicago company.  All of these had come to protest.

"It's that scoundrel from Philadelphia.  He's the cause of all our
troubles.  It's high time the respectable business element of Chicago
realized just what sort of a man they have to deal with in him.  He
ought to be driven out of here.  Look at his Philadelphia record.  They
sent him to the penitentiary down there, and they ought to do it here."

Mr. Baker, very recently the guest of Schryhart, and his henchman, too,
was also properly chagrined.  "The man is a charlatan," he protested to
Blackman.  "He doesn't play fair.  It is plain that he doesn't belong
in respectable society."

Nevertheless, and in spite of this, the ordinance was passed.  It was a
bitter lesson for Mr. Norman Schryhart, Mr. Norrie Simms, and all those
who had unfortunately become involved.  A committee composed of all
three of the old companies visited the mayor; but the latter, a tool of
McKenty, giving his future into the hands of the enemy, signed it just
the same.  Cowperwood had his franchise, and, groan as they might, it
was now necessary, in the language of a later day, "to step up and see
the captain." Only Schryhart felt personally that his score with
Cowperwood was not settled. He would meet him on some other ground
later.  The next time he would try to fight fire with fire.  But for
the present, shrewd man that he was, he was prepared to compromise.

Thereafter, dissembling his chagrin as best he could, he kept on the
lookout for Cowperwood at both of the clubs of which he was a member;
but Cowperwood had avoided them during this period of excitement, and
Mahomet would have to go to the mountain.  So one drowsy June afternoon
Mr. Schryhart called at Cowperwood's office. He had on a bright, new,
steel-gray suit and a straw hat.  From his pocket, according to the
fashion of the time, protruded a neat, blue-bordered silk handkerchief,
and his feet were immaculate in new, shining Oxford ties.

"I'm sailing for Europe in a few days, Mr. Cowperwood," he remarked,
genially, "and I thought I'd drop round to see if you and I could reach
some agreement in regard to this gas situation.  The officers of the
old companies naturally feel that they do not care to have a rival in
the field, and I'm sure that you are not interested in carrying on a
useless rate war that won't leave anybody any profit. I recall that you
were willing to compromise on a half-and-half basis with me before, and
I was wondering whether you were still of that mind."

"Sit down, sit down, Mr. Schryhart," remarked Cowperwood, cheerfully,
waving the new-comer to a chair.  "I'm pleased to see you again. No,
I'm no more anxious for a rate war than you are.  As a matter of fact,
I hope to avoid it; but, as you see, things have changed somewhat since
I saw you.  The gentlemen who have organized and invested their money
in this new city gas company are perfectly willing--rather anxious, in
fact--to go on and establish a legitimate business.  They feel all the
confidence in the world that they can do this, and I agree with them.
A compromise might be effected between the old and the new companies,
but not on the basis on which I was willing to settle some time ago.  A
new company has been organized since then, stock issued, and a great
deal of money expended." (This was not true.) "That stock will have to
figure in any new agreement.  I think a general union of all the
companies is desirable, but it will have to be on a basis of one, two,
three, or four shares--whatever is decided--at par for all stock
involved."

Mr. Schryhart pulled a long face.  "Don't you think that's rather
steep?" he said, solemnly.

"Not at all, not at all!" replied Cowperwood.  "You know these new
expenditures were not undertaken voluntarily." (The irony of this did
not escape Mr. Schryhart, but he said nothing.)

"I admit all that, but don't you think, since your shares are worth
practically nothing at present, that you ought to be satisfied if they
were accepted at par?"

"I can't see why," replied Cowperwood.  "Our future prospects are
splendid.  There must be an even adjustment here or nothing.  What I
want to know is how much treasury stock you would expect to have in the
safe for the promotion of this new organization after all the old
stockholders have been satisfied?"

"Well, as I thought before, from thirty to forty per cent. of the total
issue," replied Schryhart, still hopeful of a profitable adjustment.
"I should think it could be worked on that basis."

"And who gets that?"

"Why, the organizer," said Schryhart, evasively.  "Yourself, perhaps,
and myself."

"And how would you divide it? Half and half, as before?"

"I should think that would be fair."

"It isn't enough," returned Cowperwood, incisively.  "Since I talked to
you last I have been compelled to shoulder obligations and make
agreements which I did not anticipate then.  The best I can do now is
to accept three-fourths."

Schryhart straightened up determinedly and offensively.  This was
outrageous, he thought, impossible! The effrontery of it!

"It can never be done, Mr. Cowperwood," he replied, forcefully. "You
are trying to unload too much worthless stock on the company as it is.
The old companies' stock is selling right now, as you know, for from
one-fifty to two-ten.  Your stock is worth nothing. If you are to be
given two or three for one for that, and three-fourths of the remainder
in the treasury, I for one want nothing to do with the deal.  You would
be in control of the company, and it will be water-logged, at that.
Talk about getting something for nothing! The best I would suggest to
the stockholders of the old companies would be half and half.  And I
may say to you frankly, although you may not believe it, that the old
companies will not join in with you in any scheme that gives you
control. They are too much incensed.  Feeling is running too high.  It
will mean a long, expensive fight, and they will never compromise. Now,
if you have anything really reasonable to offer I would be glad to hear
it.  Otherwise I am afraid these negotiations are not going to come to
anything."

"Share and share alike, and three-fourths of the remainder," repeated
Cowperwood, grimly.  "I do not want to control.  If they want to raise
the money and buy me out on that basis I am willing to sell.  I want a
decent return for investments I have made, and I am going to have it.
I cannot speak for the others behind me, but as long as they deal
through me that is what they will expect."

Mr. Schryhart went angrily away.  He was exceedingly wroth.  This
proposition as Cowperwood now outlined it was bucaneering at its best.
He proposed for himself to withdraw from the old companies if
necessary, to close out his holdings and let the old companies deal
with Cowperwood as best they could.  So long as he had anything to do
with it, Cowperwood should never gain control of the gas situation.
Better to take him at his suggestion, raise the money and buy him out,
even at an exorbitant figure.  Then the old gas companies could go
along and do business in their old-fashioned way without being
disturbed.  This bucaneer! This upstart! What a shrewd, quick, forceful
move he had made! It irritated Mr. Schryhart greatly.

The end of all this was a compromise in which Cowperwood accepted
one-half of the surplus stock of the new general issue, and two for one
of every share of stock for which his new companies had been organized,
at the same time selling out to the old companies--clearing out
completely.  It was a most profitable deal, and he was enabled to
provide handsomely not only for Mr. McKenty and Addison, but for all
the others connected with him.  It was a splendid coup, as McKenty and
Addison assured him.  Having now done so much, he began to turn his
eyes elsewhere for other fields to conquer.

But this victory in one direction brought with it corresponding
reverses in another: the social future of Cowperwood and Aileen was now
in great jeopardy.  Schryhart, who was a force socially, having met
with defeat at the hands of Cowperwood, was now bitterly opposed to
him.  Norrie Simms naturally sided with his old associates. But the
worst blow came through Mrs. Anson Merrill.  Shortly after the
housewarming, and when the gas argument and the conspiracy charges were
rising to their heights, she had been to New York and had there chanced
to encounter an old acquaintance of hers, Mrs. Martyn Walker, of
Philadelphia, one of the circle which Cowperwood once upon a time had
been vainly ambitious to enter.  Mrs. Merrill, aware of the interest
the Cowperwoods had aroused in Mrs. Simms and others, welcomed the
opportunity to find out something definite.

"By the way, did you ever chance to hear of a Frank Algernon Cowperwood
or his wife in Philadelphia?" she inquired of Mrs. Walker.

"Why, my dear Nellie," replied her friend, nonplussed that a woman so
smart as Mrs. Merrill should even refer to them, "have those people
established themselves in Chicago? His career in Philadelphia was, to
say the least, spectacular.  He was connected with a city treasurer
there who stole five hundred thousand dollars, and they both went to
the penitentiary.  That wasn't the worst of it! He became intimate with
some young girl--a Miss Butler, the sister of Owen Butler, by the way,
who is now such a power down there, and--" She merely lifted her eyes.
"While he was in the penitentiary her father died and the family broke
up.  I even heard it rumored that the old gentleman killed himself."
(She was referring to Aileen's father, Edward Malia Butler.) "When he
came out of the penitentiary Cowperwood disappeared, and I did hear
some one say that he had gone West, and divorced his wife and married
again. His first wife is still living in Philadelphia somewhere with
his two children."

Mrs. Merrill was properly astonished, but she did not show it. "Quite
an interesting story, isn't it?" she commented, distantly, thinking how
easy it would be to adjust the Cowperwood situation, and how pleased
she was that she had never shown any interest in them.  "Did you ever
see her--his new wife?"

"I think so, but I forget where.  I believe she used to ride and drive
a great deal in Philadelphia."

"Did she have red hair?"

"Oh yes.  She was a very striking blonde."

"I fancy it must be the same person.  They have been in the papers
recently in Chicago.  I wanted to be sure."

Mrs. Merrill was meditating some fine comments to be made in the future.

"I suppose now they're trying to get into Chicago society?" Mrs. Walker
smiled condescendingly and contemptuously--as much at Chicago society
as at the Cowperwoods.

"It's possible that they might attempt something like that in the East
and succeed--I'm sure I don't know," replied Mrs. Merrill, caustically,
resenting the slur, "but attempting and achieving are quite different
things in Chicago."

The answer was sufficient.  It ended the discussion.  When next Mrs.
Simms was rash enough to mention the Cowperwoods, or, rather, the
peculiar publicity in connection with him, her future viewpoint was
definitely fixed for her.

"If you take my advice," commented Mrs. Merrill, finally, "the less you
have to do with these friends of yours the better.  I know all about
them.  You might have seen that from the first. They can never be
accepted."

Mrs. Merrill did not trouble to explain why, but Mrs. Simms through her
husband soon learned the whole truth, and she was righteously indignant
and even terrified.  Who was to blame for this sort of thing, anyhow?
she thought.  Who had introduced them? The Addisons, of course.  But
the Addisons were socially unassailable, if not all-powerful, and so
the best had to be made of that.  But the Cowperwoods could be dropped
from the lists of herself and her friends instantly, and that was now
done.  A sudden slump in their social significance began to manifest
itself, though not so swiftly but what for the time being it was
slightly deceptive.

The first evidence of change which Aileen observed was when the
customary cards and invitations for receptions and the like, which had
come to them quite freely of late, began to decline sharply in number,
and when the guests to her own Wednesday afternoons, which rather
prematurely she had ventured to establish, became a mere negligible
handful.  At first she could not understand this, not being willing to
believe that, following so soon upon her apparent triumph as a hostess
in her own home, there could be so marked a decline in her local
importance.  Of a possible seventy-five or fifty who might have called
or left cards, within three weeks after the housewarming only twenty
responded.  A week later it had declined to ten, and within five weeks,
all told, there was scarcely a caller.  It is true that a very few of
the unimportant--those who had looked to her for influence and the
self-protecting Taylor Lord and Kent McKibben, who were commercially
obligated to Cowperwood--were still faithful, but they were really
worse than nothing. Aileen was beside herself with disappointment,
opposition, chagrin, shame.  There are many natures, rhinoceros-bided
and iron-souled, who can endure almost any rebuff in the hope of
eventual victory, who are almost too thick-skinned to suffer, but hers
was not one of these.  Already, in spite of her original daring in
regard to the opinion of society and the rights of the former Mrs.
Cowperwood, she was sensitive on the score of her future and what her
past might mean to her.  Really her original actions could be
attributed to her youthful passion and the powerful sex magnetism of
Cowperwood. Under more fortunate circumstances she would have married
safely enough and without the scandal which followed.  As it was now,
her social future here needed to end satisfactorily in order to justify
herself to herself, and, she thought, to him.

"You may put the sandwiches in the ice-box," she said to Louis, the
butler, after one of the earliest of the "at home" failures, referring
to the undue supply of pink-and-blue-ribboned titbits which, uneaten,
honored some fine Sevres with their presence. "Send the flowers to the
hospital.  The servants may drink the claret cup and lemonade.  Keep
some of the cakes fresh for dinner."

The butler nodded his head.  "Yes, Madame," he said.  Then, by way of
pouring oil on what appeared to him to be a troubled situation, he
added: "Eet's a rough day.  I suppose zat has somepsing to do weeth it."

Aileen was aflame in a moment.  She was about to exclaim: "Mind your
business!" but changed her mind.  "Yes, I presume so," was her answer,
as she ascended to her room.  If a single poor "at home" was to be
commented on by servants, things were coming to a pretty pass.  She
waited until the next week to see whether this was the weather or a
real change in public sentiment.  It was worse than the one before.
The singers she had engaged had to be dismissed without performing the
service for which they had come.  Kent McKibben and Taylor Lord, very
well aware of the rumors now flying about, called, but in a remote and
troubled spirit.  Aileen saw that, too.  An affair of this kind, with
only these two and Mrs. Webster Israels and Mrs. Henry Huddlestone
calling, was a sad indication of something wrong.  She had to plead
illness and excuse herself.  The third week, fearing a worse defeat
than before, Aileen pretended to be ill.  She would see how many cards
were left. There were just three.  That was the end.  She realized that
her "at homes" were a notable failure.

At the same time Cowperwood was not to be spared his share in the
distrust and social opposition which was now rampant.

His first inkling of the true state of affairs came in connection with
a dinner which, on the strength of an old invitation, they
unfortunately attended at a time when Aileen was still uncertain. It
had been originally arranged by the Sunderland Sledds, who were not so
much socially, and who at the time it occurred were as yet unaware of
the ugly gossip going about, or at least of society's new attitude
toward the Cowperwoods.  At this time it was understood by nearly
all--the Simms, Candas, Cottons, and Kingslands--that a great mistake
had been made, and that the Cowperwoods were by no means admissible.

To this particular dinner a number of people, whom the latter knew, had
been invited.  Uniformly all, when they learned or recalled that the
Cowperwoods were expected, sent eleventh-hour regrets--"so sorry."
Outside the Sledds there was only one other couple--the Stanislau
Hoecksemas, for whom the Cowperwoods did not particularly care.  It was
a dull evening.  Aileen complained of a headache, and they went home.

Very shortly afterward, at a reception given by their neighbors, the
Haatstaedts, to which they had long since been invited, there was an
evident shyness in regard to them, quite new in its aspect, although
the hosts themselves were still friendly enough.  Previous to this,
when strangers of prominence had been present at an affair of this kind
they were glad to be brought over to the Cowperwoods, who were always
conspicuous because of Aileen's beauty.  On this day, for no reason
obvious to Aileen or Cowperwood (although both suspected),
introductions were almost uniformly refused.  There were a number who
knew them, and who talked casually, but the general tendency on the
part of all was to steer clear of them. Cowperwood sensed the
difficulty at once.  "I think we'd better leave early," he remarked to
Aileen, after a little while.  "This isn't very interesting."

They returned to their own home, and Cowperwood to avoid discussion
went down-town.  He did not care to say what he thought of this as yet.

It was previous to a reception given by the Union League that the first
real blow was struck at him personally, and that in a roundabout way.
Addison, talking to him at the Lake National Bank one morning, had said
quite confidentially, and out of a clear sky:

"I want to tell you something, Cowperwood.  You know by now something
about Chicago society.  You also know where I stand in regard to some
things you told me about your past when I first met you. Well, there's
a lot of talk going around about you now in regard to all that, and
these two clubs to which you and I belong are filled with a lot of
two-faced, double-breasted hypocrites who've been stirred up by this
talk of conspiracy in the papers.  There are four or five stockholders
of the old companies who are members, and they are trying to drive you
out.  They've looked up that story you told me, and they're talking
about filing charges with the house committees at both places.  Now,
nothing can come of it in either case--they've been talking to me; but
when this next reception comes along you'll know what to do.  They'll
have to extend you an invitation; but they won't mean it." (Cowperwood
understood.) "This whole thing is certain to blow over, in my judgment;
it will if I have anything to do with it; but for the present--"

He stared at Cowperwood in a friendly way.

The latter smiled.  "I expected something like this, Judah, to tell you
the truth," he said, easily.  "I've expected it all along. You needn't
worry about me.  I know all about this.  I've seen which way the wind
is blowing, and I know how to trim my sails."

Addison reached out and took his hand.  "But don't resign, whatever you
do," he said, cautiously.  "That would be a confession of weakness, and
they don't expect you to.  I wouldn't want you to. Stand your ground.
This whole thing will blow over.  They're jealous, I think."

"I never intended to," replied Cowperwood.  "There's no legitimate
charge against me.  I know it will all blow over if I'm given time
enough." Nevertheless he was chagrined to think that he should be
subjected to such a conversation as this with any one.

Similarly in other ways "society"--so called--was quite able to enforce
its mandates and conclusions.

The one thing that Cowperwood most resented, when he learned of it much
later, was a snub direct given to Aileen at the door of the Norrie
Simmses'; she called there only to be told that Mrs. Simms was not at
home, although the carriages of others were in the street.  A few days
afterward Aileen, much to his regret and astonishment--for he did not
then know the cause--actually became ill.

If it had not been for Cowperwood's eventual financial triumph over all
opposition--the complete routing of the enemy--in the struggle for
control in the gas situation--the situation would have been hard,
indeed.  As it was, Aileen suffered bitterly; she felt that the slight
was principally directed at her, and would remain in force.  In the
privacy of their own home they were compelled eventually to admit, the
one to the other, that their house of cards, resplendent and forceful
looking as it was, had fallen to the ground.  Personal confidences
between people so closely united are really the most trying of all.
Human souls are constantly trying to find each other, and rarely
succeeding.

"You know," he finally said to her once, when he came in rather
unexpectedly and found her sick in bed, her eyes wet, and her maid
dismissed for the day, "I understand what this is all about.  To tell
you the truth, Aileen, I rather expected it.  We have been going too
fast, you and I.  We have been pushing this matter too hard.  Now, I
don't like to see you taking it this way, dear. This battle isn't lost.
Why, I thought you had more courage than this.  Let me tell you
something which you don't seem to remember. Money will solve all this
sometime.  I'm winning in this fight right now, and I'll win in others.
They are coming to me.  Why, dearie, you oughtn't to despair.  You're
too young.  I never do. You'll win yet.  We can adjust this matter
right here in Chicago, and when we do we will pay up a lot of scores at
the same time. We're rich, and we're going to be richer.  That will
settle it. Now put on a good face and look pleased; there are plenty of
things to live for in this world besides society.  Get up now and
dress, and we'll go for a drive and dinner down-town.  You have me yet.
Isn't that something?"

"Oh yes," sighed Aileen, heavily; but she sank back again.  She put her
arms about his neck and cried, as much out of joy over the consolation
he offered as over the loss she had endured.  "It was as much for you
as for me," she sighed.

"I know that," he soothed; "but don't worry about it now.  You will
come out all right.  We both will.  Come, get up." Nevertheless, he was
sorry to see her yield so weakly.  It did not please him. He resolved
some day to have a grim adjustment with society on this score.
Meanwhile Aileen was recovering her spirits.  She was ashamed of her
weakness when she saw how forcefully he faced it all.

"Oh, Frank," she exclaimed, finally, "you're always so wonderful.
You're such a darling."

"Never mind," he said, cheerfully.  "If we don't win this game here in
Chicago, we will somewhere."

He was thinking of the brilliant manner in which he had adjusted his
affairs with the old gas companies and Mr. Schryhart, and how
thoroughly he would handle some other matters when the time came.




Chapter XIV

Undercurrents


It was during the year that followed their social repudiation, and the
next and the next, that Cowperwood achieved a keen realization of what
it would mean to spend the rest of his days in social isolation, or at
least confined in his sources of entertainment to a circle or element
which constantly reminded him of the fact that he was not identified
with the best, or, at least, not the most significant, however dull
that might be.  When he had first attempted to introduce Aileen into
society it was his idea that, however tame they might chance to find it
to begin with, they themselves, once admitted, could make it into
something very interesting and even brilliant.  Since the time the
Cowperwoods had been repudiated, however, they had found it necessary,
if they wished any social diversion at all, to fall back upon such
various minor elements as they could scrape an acquaintance
with--passing actors and actresses, to whom occasionally they could
give a dinner; artists and singers whom they could invite to the house
upon gaining an introduction; and, of course, a number of the socially
unimportant, such as the Haatstaedts, Hoecksemas, Videras, Baileys, and
others still friendly and willing to come in a casual way.  Cowperwood
found it interesting from time to time to invite a business friend, a
lover of pictures, or some young artist to the house to dinner or for
the evening, and on these occasions Aileen was always present.  The
Addisons called or invited them occasionally.  But it was a dull game,
the more so since their complete defeat was thus all the more plainly
indicated.

This defeat, as Cowperwood kept reflecting, was really not his fault at
all.  He had been getting along well enough personally. If Aileen had
only been a somewhat different type of woman! Nevertheless, he was in
no way prepared to desert or reproach her. She had clung to him through
his stormy prison days.  She had encouraged him when he needed
encouragement.  He would stand by her and see what could be done a
little later; but this ostracism was a rather dreary thing to endure.
Besides, personally, he appeared to be becoming more and more
interesting to men and to women.  The men friends he had made he
retained--Addison, Bailey, Videra, McKibben, Rambaud, and others.
There were women in society, a number of them, who regretted his
disappearance if not that of Aileen.  Occasionally the experiment would
be tried of inviting him without his wife.  At first he refused
invariably; later he went alone occasionally to a dinner-party without
her knowledge.

It was during this interregnum that Cowperwood for the first time
clearly began to get the idea that there was a marked difference
between him and Aileen intellectually and spiritually; and that while
he might be in accord with her in many ways--emotionally, physically,
idyllicly--there were, nevertheless, many things which he could do
alone which she could not do--heights to which he could rise where she
could not possibly follow.  Chicago society might be a negligible
quantity, but he was now to contrast her sharply with the best of what
the Old World had to offer in the matter of femininity, for following
their social expulsion in Chicago and his financial victory, he once
more decided to go abroad.  In Rome, at the Japanese and Brazilian
embassies (where, because of his wealth, he gained introduction), and
at the newly established Italian Court, he encountered at a distance
charming social figures of considerable significance--Italian
countesses, English ladies of high degree, talented American women of
strong artistic and social proclivities.  As a rule they were quick to
recognize the charm of his manner, the incisiveness and grip of his
mind, and to estimate at all its worth the high individuality of his
soul; but he could also always see that Aileen was not so acceptable.
She was too rich in her entourage, too showy.  Her glowing health and
beauty was a species of affront to the paler, more sublimated souls of
many who were not in themselves unattractive.

"Isn't that the typical American for you," he heard a woman remark, at
one of those large, very general court receptions to which so many are
freely admitted, and to which Aileen had been determined to go.  He was
standing aside talking to an acquaintance he had made--an
English-speaking Greek banker stopping at the Grand Hotel--while Aileen
promenaded with the banker's wife.  The speaker was an Englishwoman.
"So gaudy, so self-conscious, and so naive!"

Cowperwood turned to look.  It was Aileen, and the lady speaking was
undoubtedly well bred, thoughtful, good-looking.  He had to admit that
much that she said was true, but how were you to gage a woman like
Aileen, anyhow? She was not reprehensible in any way--just a
full-blooded animal glowing with a love of life.  She was attractive to
him.  It was too bad that people of obviously more conservative
tendencies were so opposed to her.  Why could they not see what he
saw--a kind of childish enthusiasm for luxury and show which sprang,
perhaps, from the fact that in her youth she had not enjoyed the social
opportunities which she needed and longed for.  He felt sorry for her.
At the same time he was inclined to feel that perhaps now another type
of woman would be better for him socially.  If he had a harder type,
one with keener artistic perceptions and a penchant for just the right
social touch or note, how much better he would do! He came home
bringing a Perugino, brilliant examples of Luini, Previtali, and
Pinturrichio (this last a portrait of Caesar Borgia), which he picked
up in Italy, to say nothing of two red African vases of great size that
he found in Cairo, a tall gilt Louis Fifteenth standard of carved wood
that he discovered in Rome, two ornate candelabra from Venice for his
walls, and a pair of Italian torcheras from Naples to decorate the
corners of his library.  It was thus by degrees that his art collection
was growing.

At the same time it should be said, in the matter of women and the sex
question, his judgment and views had begun to change tremendously. When
he had first met Aileen he had many keen intuitions regarding life and
sex, and above all clear faith that he had a right to do as he pleased.
Since he had been out of prison and once more on his upward way there
had been many a stray glance cast in his direction; he had so often had
it clearly forced upon him that he was fascinating to women.  Although
he had only so recently acquired Aileen legally, yet she was years old
to him as a mistress, and the first engrossing--it had been almost
all-engrossing--enthusiasm was over.  He loved her not only for her
beauty, but for her faithful enthusiasm; but the power of others to
provoke in him a momentary interest, and passion even, was something
which he did not pretend to understand, explain, or moralize about.  So
it was and so he was.  He did not want to hurt Aileen's feelings by
letting her know that his impulses thus wantonly strayed to others, but
so it was.

Not long after he had returned from the European trip he stopped one
afternoon in the one exclusive drygoods store in State Street to
purchase a tie.  As he was entering a woman crossed the aisle before
him, from one counter to another--a type of woman which he was coming
to admire, but only from a rather distant point of view, seeing them
going here and there in the world.  She was a dashing type, essentially
smart and trig, with a neat figure, dark hair and eyes, an olive skin,
small mouth, quaint nose--all in all quite a figure for Chicago at the
time.  She had, furthermore, a curious look of current wisdom in her
eyes, an air of saucy insolence which aroused Cowperwood's sense of
mastery, his desire to dominate. To the look of provocation and
defiance which she flung him for the fraction of a second he returned a
curiously leonine glare which went over her like a dash of cold water.
It was not a hard look, however, merely urgent and full of meaning.
She was the vagrom-minded wife of a prosperous lawyer who was absorbed
in his business and in himself.  She pretended indifference for a
moment after the first glance, but paused a little way off as if to
examine some laces.  Cowperwood looked after her to catch a second
fleeting, attracted look.  He was on his way to several engagements
which he did not wish to break, but he took out a note-book, wrote on a
slip of paper the name of a hotel, and underneath: "Parlor, second
floor, Tuesday, 1 P.M." Passing by where she stood, he put it into her
gloved hand, which was hanging by her side.  The fingers closed over it
automatically.  She had noted his action.  On the day and hour
suggested she was there, although he had given no name.  That liaison,
while delightful to him, was of no great duration.  The lady was
interesting, but too fanciful.

Similarly, at the Henry Huddlestones', one of their neighbors at the
first Michigan Avenue house they occupied, he encountered one evening
at a small dinner-party a girl of twenty-three who interested him
greatly--for the moment.  Her name was not very attractive--Ella F.
Hubby, as he eventually learned--but she was not unpleasing. Her
principal charm was a laughing, hoydenish countenance and roguish eyes.
She was the daughter of a well-to-do commission merchant in South Water
Street.  That her interest should have been aroused by that of
Cowperwood in her was natural enough.  She was young, foolish,
impressionable, easily struck by the glitter of a reputation, and Mrs.
Huddlestone had spoken highly of Cowperwood and his wife and the great
things he was doing or was going to do. When Ella saw him, and saw that
he was still young-looking, with the love of beauty in his eyes and a
force of presence which was not at all hard where she was concerned,
she was charmed; and when Aileen was not looking her glance kept
constantly wandering to his with a laughing signification of friendship
and admiration.  It was the most natural thing in the world for him to
say to her, when they had adjourned to the drawing-room, that if she
were in the neighborhood of his office some day she might care to look
in on him.  The look he gave her was one of keen understanding, and
brought a look of its own kind, warm and flushing, in return.  She
came, and there began a rather short liaison.  It was interesting but
not brilliant.  The girl did not have sufficient temperament to bind
him beyond a period of rather idle investigation.

There was still, for a little while, another woman, whom he had
known--a Mrs. Josephine Ledwell, a smart widow, who came primarily to
gamble on the Board of Trade, but who began to see at once, on
introduction, the charm of a flirtation with Cowperwood.  She was a
woman not unlike Aileen in type, a little older, not so good-looking,
and of a harder, more subtle commercial type of mind.  She rather
interested Cowperwood because she was so trig, self-sufficient, and
careful.  She did her best to lure him on to a liaison with her, which
finally resulted, her apartment on the North Side being the center of
this relationship.  It lasted perhaps six weeks. Through it all he was
quite satisfied that he did not like her so very well.  Any one who
associated with him had Aileen's present attractiveness to contend
with, as well as the original charm of his first wife.  It was no easy
matter.

It was during this period of social dullness, however, which somewhat
resembled, though it did not exactly parallel his first years with his
first wife, that Cowperwood finally met a woman who was destined to
leave a marked impression on his life.  He could not soon forget her.
Her name was Rita Sohlberg.  She was the wife of Harold Sohlberg, a
Danish violinist who was then living in Chicago, a very young man; but
she was not a Dane, and he was by no means a remarkable violinist,
though he had unquestionably the musical temperament.

You have perhaps seen the would-be's, the nearly's, the pretenders in
every field--interesting people all--devoted with a kind of mad
enthusiasm to the thing they wish to do.  They manifest in some ways
all the externals or earmarks of their professional traditions, and yet
are as sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.  You would have had to know
Harold Sohlberg only a little while to appreciate that he belonged to
this order of artists.  He had a wild, stormy, November eye, a wealth
of loose, brownish-black hair combed upward from the temples, with one
lock straggling Napoleonically down toward the eyes; cheeks that had
almost a babyish tint to them; lips much too rich, red, and sensuous; a
nose that was fine and large and full, but only faintly aquiline; and
eyebrows and mustache that somehow seemed to flare quite like his
errant and foolish soul.  He had been sent away from Denmark
(Copenhagen) because he had been a never-do-well up to twenty-five and
because he was constantly falling in love with women who would not have
anything to do with him.  Here in Chicago as a teacher, with his small
pension of forty dollars a month sent him by his mother, he had gained
a few pupils, and by practising a kind of erratic economy, which kept
him well dressed or hungry by turns, he had managed to make an
interesting showing and pull himself through.  He was only twenty-eight
at the time he met Rita Greenough, of Wichita, Kansas, and at the time
they met Cowperwood Harold was thirty-four and she twenty-seven.

She had been a student at the Chicago Fine Arts School, and at various
student affairs had encountered Harold when he seemed to play divinely,
and when life was all romance and art.  Given the spring, the sunshine
on the lake, white sails of ships, a few walks and talks on pensive
afternoons when the city swam in a golden haze, and the thing was done.
There was a sudden Saturday afternoon marriage, a runaway day to
Milwaukee, a return to the studio now to be fitted out for two, and
then kisses, kisses, kisses until love was satisfied or eased.

But life cannot exist on that diet alone, and so by degrees the
difficulties had begun to manifest themselves.  Fortunately, the latter
were not allied with sharp financial want.  Rita was not poor.  Her
father conducted a small but profitable grain elevator at Wichita, and,
after her sudden marriage, decided to continue her allowance, though
this whole idea of art and music in its upper reaches was to him a
strange, far-off, uncertain thing.  A thin, meticulous, genial person
interested in small trade opportunities, and exactly suited to the
rather sparse social life of Wichita, he found Harold as curious as a
bomb, and preferred to handle him gingerly.  Gradually, however, being
a very human if simple person, he came to be very proud of it--boasted
in Wichita of Rita and her artist husband, invited them home to astound
the neighbors during the summer-time, and the fall brought his almost
farmer-like wife on to see them and to enjoy trips, sight-seeing,
studio teas.  It was amusing, typically American, naive, almost
impossible from many points of view.

Rita Sohlberg was of the semi-phlegmatic type, soft, full-blooded, with
a body that was going to be fat at forty, but which at present was
deliciously alluring.  Having soft, silky, light-brown hair, the color
of light dust, and moist gray-blue eyes, with a fair skin and even,
white teeth, she was flatteringly self-conscious of her charms.  She
pretended in a gay, childlike way to be unconscious of the thrill she
sent through many susceptible males, and yet she knew well enough all
the while what she was doing and how she was doing it; it pleased her
so to do.  She was conscious of the wonder of her smooth, soft arms and
neck, the fullness and seductiveness of her body, the grace and
perfection of her clothing, or, at least, the individuality and taste
which she made them indicate.  She could take an old straw-hat form, a
ribbon, a feather, or a rose, and with an innate artistry of feeling
turn it into a bit of millinery which somehow was just the effective
thing for her. She chose naive combinations of white and blues, pinks
and white, browns and pale yellows, which somehow suggested her own
soul, and topped them with great sashes of silky brown (or even red)
ribbon tied about her waist, and large, soft-brimmed, face-haloing
hats. She was a graceful dancer, could sing a little, could play
feelingly--sometimes brilliantly--and could draw.  Her art was a
makeshift, however; she was no artist.  The most significant thing
about her was her moods and her thoughts, which were uncertain, casual,
anarchic.  Rita Sohlberg, from the conventional point of view, was a
dangerous person, and yet from her own point of view at this time she
was not so at all--just dreamy and sweet.

A part of the peculiarity of her state was that Sohlberg had begun to
disappoint Rita--sorely.  Truth to tell, he was suffering from that
most terrible of all maladies, uncertainty of soul and inability to
truly find himself.  At times he was not sure whether he was cut out to
be a great violinist or a great composer, or merely a great teacher,
which last he was never willing really to admit. "I am an arteest," he
was fond of saying.  "Ho, how I suffer from my temperament!" And again:
"These dogs! These cows! These pigs!" This of other people.  The
quality of his playing was exceedingly erratic, even though at times it
attained to a kind of subtlety, tenderness, awareness, and charm which
brought him some attention. As a rule, however, it reflected the
chaotic state of his own brain.  He would play violently, feverishly,
with a wild passionateness of gesture which robbed him of all ability
to control his own technic.

"Oh, Harold!" Rita used to exclaim at first, ecstatically.  Later she
was not so sure.

Life and character must really get somewhere to be admirable, and
Harold, really and truly, did not seem to be getting anywhere. He
taught, stormed, dreamed, wept; but he ate his three meals a day, Rita
noticed, and he took an excited interest at times in other women.  To
be the be-all and end-all of some one man's life was the least that
Rita could conceive or concede as the worth of her personality, and so,
as the years went on and Harold began to be unfaithful, first in moods,
transports, then in deeds, her mood became dangerous.  She counted them
up--a girl music pupil, then an art student, then the wife of a banker
at whose house Harold played socially.  There followed strange, sullen
moods on the part of Rita, visits home, groveling repentances on the
part of Harold, tears, violent, passionate reunions, and then the same
thing over again.  What would you?

Rita was not jealous of Harold any more; she had lost faith in his
ability as a musician.  But she was disappointed that her charms were
not sufficient to blind him to all others.  That was the fly in the
ointment.  It was an affront to her beauty, and she was still
beautiful.  She was unctuously full-bodied, not quite so tall as
Aileen, not really as large, but rounder and plumper, softer and more
seductive.  Physically she was not well set up, so vigorous; but her
eyes and mouth and the roving character of her mind held a strange
lure.  Mentally she was much more aware than Aileen, much more precise
in her knowledge of art, music, literature, and current events; and in
the field of romance she was much more vague and alluring.  She knew
many things about flowers, precious stones, insects, birds, characters
in fiction, and poetic prose and verse generally.

At the time the Cowperwoods first met the Sohlbergs the latter still
had their studio in the New Arts Building, and all was seemingly as
serene as a May morning, only Harold was not getting along very well.
He was drifting.  The meeting was at a tea given by the Haatstaedts,
with whom the Cowperwoods were still friendly, and Harold played.
Aileen, who was there alone, seeing a chance to brighten her own life a
little, invited the Sohlbergs, who seemed rather above the average, to
her house to a musical evening.  They came.

On this occasion Cowperwood took one look at Sohlberg and placed him
exactly.  "An erratic, emotional temperament," he thought. "Probably
not able to place himself for want of consistency and application." But
he liked him after a fashion.  Sohlberg was interesting as an artistic
type or figure--quite like a character in a Japanese print might be.
He greeted him pleasantly.

"And Mrs. Sohlberg, I suppose," he remarked, feelingly, catching a
quick suggestion of the rhythm and sufficiency and naive taste that
went with her.  She was in simple white and blue--small blue ribbons
threaded above lacy flounces in the skin.  Her arms and throat were
deliciously soft and bare.  Her eyes were quick, and yet soft and
babyish--petted eyes.

"You know," she said to him, with a peculiar rounded formation of the
mouth, which was a characteristic of her when she talked--a pretty,
pouty mouth, "I thought we would never get heah at all. There was a
fire"--she pronounced it fy-yah--"at Twelfth Street" (the Twelfth was
Twalfth in her mouth) "and the engines were all about there.  Oh, such
sparks and smoke! And the flames coming out of the windows! The flames
were a very dark red--almost orange and black.  They're pretty when
they're that way--don't you think so?"

Cowperwood was charmed.  "Indeed, I do," he said, genially, using a
kind of superior and yet sympathetic air which he could easily assume
on occasion.  He felt as though Mrs. Sohlberg might be a charming
daughter to him--she was so cuddling and shy--and yet he could see that
she was definite and individual.  Her arms and face, he told himself,
were lovely.  Mrs. Sohlberg only saw before her a smart, cold, exact
man--capable, very, she presumed--with brilliant, incisive eyes.  How
different from Harold, she thought, who would never be anything
much--not even famous.

"I'm so glad you brought your violin," Aileen was saying to Harold, who
was in another corner.  "I've been looking forward to your coming to
play for us."

"Very nize ov you, I'm sure," Sohlberg replied, with his sweety drawl.
"Such a nize plaze you have here--all these loafly books, and jade, and
glass."

He had an unctuous, yielding way which was charming, Aileen thought. He
should have a strong, rich woman to take care of him.  He was like a
stormy, erratic boy.

After refreshments were served Sohlberg played.  Cowperwood was
interested by his standing figure--his eyes, his hair--but he was much
more interested in Mrs. Sohlberg, to whom his look constantly strayed.
He watched her hands on the keys, her fingers, the dimples at her
elbows.  What an adorable mouth, he thought, and what light, fluffy
hair! But, more than that, there was a mood that invested it all--a bit
of tinted color of the mind that reached him and made him sympathetic
and even passionate toward her.  She was the kind of woman he would
like.  She was somewhat like Aileen when she was six years younger
(Aileen was now thirty-three, and Mrs. Sohlberg twenty-seven), only
Aileen had always been more robust, more vigorous, less nebulous.  Mrs.
Sohlberg (he finally thought it out for himself) was like the rich
tinted interior of a South Sea oyster-shell--warm, colorful, delicate.
But there was something firm there, too.  Nowhere in society had he
seen any one like her. She was rapt, sensuous, beautiful.  He kept his
eyes on her until finally she became aware that he was gazing at her,
and then she looked back at him in an arch, smiling way, fixing her
mouth in a potent line.  Cowperwood was captivated.  Was she
vulnerable? was his one thought.  Did that faint smile mean anything
more than mere social complaisance? Probably not, but could not a
temperament so rich and full be awakened to feeling by his own? When
she was through playing he took occasion to say: "Wouldn't you like to
stroll into the gallery? Are you fond of pictures?" He gave her his arm.

"Now, you know," said Mrs. Sohlberg, quaintly--very captivatingly, he
thought, because she was so pretty--"at one time I thought I was going
to be a great artist.  Isn't that funny! I sent my father one of my
drawings inscribed 'to whom I owe it all.' You would have to see the
drawing to see how funny that is."

She laughed softly.

Cowperwood responded with a refreshed interest in life.  Her laugh was
as grateful to him as a summer wind.  "See," he said, gently, as they
entered the room aglow with the soft light produced by guttered jets,
"here is a Luini bought last winter." It was "The Mystic Marriage of
St. Catharine." He paused while she surveyed the rapt expression of the
attenuated saint.  "And here," he went on, "is my greatest find so
far." They were before the crafty countenance of Caesar Borgia painted
by Pinturrichio.

"What a strange face!" commented Mrs. Sohlberg, naively.  "I didn't
know any one had ever painted him.  He looks somewhat like an artist
himself, doesn't he?" She had never read the involved and quite Satanic
history of this man, and only knew the rumor of his crimes and
machinations.

"He was, in his way," smiled Cowperwood, who had had an outline of his
life, and that of his father, Pope Alexander VI., furnished him at the
time of the purchase.  Only so recently had his interest in Caesar
Borgia begun.  Mrs. Sohlberg scarcely gathered the sly humor of it.

"Oh yes, and here is Mrs. Cowperwood," she commented, turning to the
painting by Van Beers.  "It's high in key, isn't it?" she said,
loftily, but with an innocent loftiness that appealed to him.  He liked
spirit and some presumption in a woman.  "What brilliant colors! I like
the idea of the garden and the clouds."

She stepped back, and Cowperwood, interested only in her, surveyed the
line of her back and the profile of her face.  Such co-ordinated
perfection of line and color!

"Where every motion weaves and sings," he might have commented. Instead
he said: "That was in Brussels.  The clouds were an afterthought, and
that vase on the wall, too."

"It's very good, I think," commented Mrs. Sohlberg, and moved away.

"How do you like this Israels?" he asked.  It was the painting called
"The Frugal Meal."

"I like it," she said, "and also your Bastien Le-Page," referring to
"The Forge." "But I think your old masters are much more interesting.
If you get many more you ought to put them together in a room.  Don't
you think so? I don't care for your Gerome very much." She had a cute
drawl which he considered infinitely alluring.

"Why not?" asked Cowperwood.

"Oh, it's rather artificial; don't you think so? I like the color, but
the women's bodies are too perfect, I should say.  It's very pretty,
though."

He had little faith in the ability of women aside from their value as
objects of art; and yet now and then, as in this instance, they
revealed a sweet insight which sharpened his own.  Aileen, he
reflected, would not be capable of making a remark such as this. She
was not as beautiful now as this woman--not as alluringly simple,
naive, delicious, nor yet as wise.  Mrs. Sohlberg, he reflected
shrewdly, had a kind of fool for a husband.  Would she take an interest
in him, Frank Cowperwood? Would a woman like this surrender on any
basis outside of divorce and marriage? He wondered. On her part, Mrs.
Sohlberg was thinking what a forceful man Cowperwood was, and how close
he had stayed by her.  She felt his interest, for she had often seen
these symptoms in other men and knew what they meant.  She knew the
pull of her own beauty, and, while she heightened it as artfully as she
dared, yet she kept aloof, too, feeling that she had never met any one
as yet for whom it was worth while to be different.  But Cowperwood--he
needed someone more soulful than Aileen, she thought.




Chapter XV

A New Affection


The growth of a relationship between Cowperwood and Rita Sohlberg was
fostered quite accidentally by Aileen, who took a foolishly sentimental
interest in Harold which yet was not based on anything of real meaning.
She liked him because he was a superlatively gracious, flattering,
emotional man where women--pretty women--were concerned.  She had some
idea she could send him pupils, and, anyhow, it was nice to call at the
Sohlberg studio.  Her social life was dull enough as it was.  So she
went, and Cowperwood, mindful of Mrs. Sohlberg, came also.  Shrewd to
the point of destruction, he encouraged Aileen in her interest in them.
He suggested that she invite them to dinner, that they give a musical
at which Sohlberg could play and be paid.  There were boxes at the
theaters, tickets for concerts sent, invitations to drive Sundays or
other days.

The very chemistry of life seems to play into the hands of a situation
of this kind.  Once Cowperwood was thinking vividly, forcefully, of
her, Rita began to think in like manner of him. Hourly he grew more
attractive, a strange, gripping man.  Beset by his mood, she was having
the devil's own time with her conscience. Not that anything had been
said as yet, but he was investing her, gradually beleaguering her,
sealing up, apparently, one avenue after another of escape.  One
Thursday afternoon, when neither Aileen nor he could attend the
Sohlberg tea, Mrs. Sohlberg received a magnificent bunch of Jacqueminot
roses.  "For your nooks and corners," said a card.  She knew well
enough from whom it came and what it was worth.  There were all of
fifty dollars worth of roses. It gave her breath of a world of money
that she had never known. Daily she saw the name of his banking and
brokerage firm advertised in the papers.  Once she met him in Merrill's
store at noon, and he invited her to lunch; but she felt obliged to
decline.  Always he looked at her with such straight, vigorous eyes.
To think that her beauty had done or was doing this! Her mind, quite
beyond herself, ran forward to an hour when perhaps this eager,
magnetic man would take charge of her in a way never dreamed of by
Harold. But she went on practising, shopping, calling, reading,
brooding over Harold's inefficiency, and stopping oddly sometimes to
think--the etherealized grip of Cowperwood upon her.  Those strong
hands of his--how fine they were--and those large, soft-hard, incisive
eyes.  The puritanism of Wichita (modified sometime since by the art
life of Chicago, such as it was) was having a severe struggle with the
manipulative subtlety of the ages--represented in this man.

"You know you are very elusive," he said to her one evening at the
theater when he sat behind her during the entr'acte, and Harold and
Aileen had gone to walk in the foyer.  The hubbub of conversation
drowned the sound of anything that might be said.  Mrs. Sohlberg was
particularly pleasing in a lacy evening gown.

"No," she replied, amusedly, flattered by his attention and acutely
conscious of his physical nearness.  By degrees she had been yielding
herself to his mood, thrilling at his every word.  "It seems to me I am
very stable," she went on.  "I'm certainly substantial enough."

She looked at her full, smooth arm lying on her lap.

Cowperwood, who was feeling all the drag of her substantiality, but in
addition the wonder of her temperament, which was so much richer than
Aileen's, was deeply moved.  Those little blood moods that no words
ever (or rarely) indicate were coming to him from her--faint
zephyr-like emanations of emotions, moods, and fancies in her mind
which allured him.  She was like Aileen in animality, but better, still
sweeter, more delicate, much richer spiritually. Or was he just tired
of Aileen for the present, he asked himself at times.  No, no, he told
himself that could not be.  Rita Sohlberg was by far the most pleasing
woman he had ever known.

"Yes, but elusive, just the same," he went on, leaning toward her. "You
remind me of something that I can find no word for--a bit of color or a
perfume or tone--a flash of something.   I follow you in my thoughts
all the time now.  Your knowledge of art interests me.  I like your
playing--it is like you.  You make me think of delightful things that
have nothing to do with the ordinary run of my life.  Do you
understand?"

"It is very nice," she said, "if I do." She took a breath, softly,
dramatically.  "You make me think vain things, you know." (Her mouth
was a delicious O.) "You paint a pretty picture." She was warm,
flushed, suffused with a burst of her own temperament.

"You are like that," he went on, insistently.  "You make me feel like
that all the time.  You know," he added, leaning over her chair, "I
sometimes think you have never lived.  There is so much that would
complete your perfectness.  I should like to send you abroad or take
you--anyhow, you should go.  You are very wonderful to me.  Do you find
me at all interesting to you?"

"Yes, but"--she paused--"you know I am afraid of all this and of you."
Her mouth had that same delicious formation which had first attracted
him.  "I don't think we had better talk like this, do you? Harold is
very jealous, or would be.  What do you suppose Mrs. Cowperwood would
think?"

"I know very well, but we needn't stop to consider that now, need we?
It will do her no harm to let me talk to you.  Life is between
individuals, Rita.  You and I have very much in common.  Don't you see
that? You are infinitely the most interesting woman I have ever known.
You are bringing me something I have never known. Don't you see that? I
want you to tell me something truly.  Look at me.  You are not happy as
you are, are you? Not perfectly happy?"

"No." She smoothed her fan with her fingers.

"Are you happy at all?"

"I thought I was once.  I'm not any more, I think."

"It is so plain why," he commented.  "You are so much more wonderful
than your place gives you scope for.  You are an individual, not an
acolyte to swing a censer for another.  Mr. Sohlberg is very
interesting, but you can't be happy that way.  It surprises me you
haven't seen it."

"Oh," she exclaimed, with a touch of weariness, "but perhaps I have."

He looked at her keenly, and she thrilled.  "I don't think we'd better
talk so here," she replied.  "You'd better be--"

He laid his hand on the back of her chair, almost touching her shoulder.

"Rita," he said, using her given name again, "you wonderful woman!"

"Oh!" she breathed.

Cowperwood did not see Mrs. Sohlberg again for over a week--ten days
exactly--when one afternoon Aileen came for him in a new kind of trap,
having stopped first to pick up the Sohlbergs.  Harold was up in front
with her and she had left a place behind for Cowperwood with Rita.  She
did not in the vaguest way suspect how interested he was--his manner
was so deceptive.  Aileen imagined that she was the superior woman of
the two, the better-looking, the better-dressed, hence the more
ensnaring.  She could not guess what a lure this woman's temperament
had for Cowperwood, who was so brisk, dynamic, seemingly unromantic,
but who, just the same, in his nature concealed (under a very forceful
exterior) a deep underlying element of romance and fire.

"This is charming," he said, sinking down beside Rita.  "What a fine
evening! And the nice straw hat with the roses, and the nice linen
dress.  My, my!" The roses were red; the dress white, with thin, green
ribbon run through it here and there.  She was keenly aware of the
reason for his enthusiasm.  He was so different from Harold, so healthy
and out-of-doorish, so able.  To-day Harold had been in tantrums over
fate, life, his lack of success.

"Oh, I shouldn't complain so much if I were you," she had said to him,
bitterly.  "You might work harder and storm less."

This had produced a scene which she had escaped by going for a walk.
Almost at the very moment when she had returned Aileen had appeared.
It was a way out.

She had cheered up, and accepted, dressed.  So had Sohlberg. Apparently
smiling and happy, they had set out on the drive.  Now, as Cowperwood
spoke, she glanced about her contentedly.  "I'm lovely," she thought,
"and he loves me.  How wonderful it would be if we dared." But she said
aloud: "I'm not so very nice.  It's just the day--don't you think so?
It's a simple dress.  I'm not very happy, though, to-night, either."

"What's the matter?" he asked, cheeringly, the rumble of the traffic
destroying the carrying-power of their voices.  He leaned toward her,
very anxious to solve any difficulty which might confront her,
perfectly willing to ensnare her by kindness.  "Isn't there something I
can do? We're going now for a long ride to the pavilion in Jackson
Park, and then, after dinner, we'll come back by moonlight.  Won't that
be nice? You must be smiling now and like yourself--happy.  You have no
reason to be otherwise that I know of.  I will do anything for you that
you want done--that can be done.  You can have anything you want that I
can give you.  What is it? You know how much I think of you.  If you
leave your affairs to me you would never have any troubles of any kind."

"Oh, it isn't anything you can do--not now, anyhow.  My affairs! Oh
yes.  What are they? Very simple, all."

She had that delicious atmosphere of remoteness even from herself. He
was enchanted.

"But you are not simple to me, Rita," he said, softly, "nor are your
affairs.  They concern me very much.  You are so important to me.  I
have told you that.  Don't you see how true it is? You are a strange
complexity to me--wonderful.  I'm mad over you. Ever since I saw you
last I have been thinking, thinking.  If you have troubles let me share
them.  You are so much to me--my only trouble.  I can fix your life.
Join it with mine.  I need you, and you need me."

"Yes," she said, "I know." Then she paused.  "It's nothing much," she
went on--"just a quarrel."

"What over?"

"Over me, really." The mouth was delicious.  "I can't swing the censer
always, as you say." That thought of his had stuck.  "It's all right
now, though.  Isn't the day lovely, be-yoot-i-ful!"

Cowperwood looked at her and shook his head.  She was such a
treasure--so inconsequential.  Aileen, busy driving and talking, could
not see or hear.  She was interested in Sohlberg, and the southward
crush of vehicles on Michigan Avenue was distracting her attention.  As
they drove swiftly past budding trees, kempt lawns, fresh-made
flower-beds, open windows--the whole seductive world of
spring--Cowperwood felt as though life had once more taken a fresh
start.  His magnetism, if it had been visible, would have enveloped him
like a glittering aura.  Mrs. Sohlberg felt that this was going to be a
wonderful evening.

The dinner was at the Park--an open-air chicken a la Maryland affair,
with waffles and champagne to help out.  Aileen, flattered by
Sohlberg's gaiety under her spell, was having a delightful time,
jesting, toasting, laughing, walking on the grass.  Sohlberg was making
love to her in a foolish, inconsequential way, as many men were
inclined to do; but she was putting him off gaily with "silly boy" and
"hush." She was so sure of herself that she was free to tell Cowperwood
afterward how emotional he was and how she had to laugh at him.
Cowperwood, quite certain that she was faithful, took it all in good
part.  Sohlberg was such a dunce and such a happy convenience ready to
his hand.  "He's not a bad sort," he commented.  "I rather like him,
though I don't think he's so much of a violinist."

After dinner they drove along the lake-shore and out through an open
bit of tree-blocked prairie land, the moon shining in a clear sky,
filling the fields and topping the lake with a silvery effulgence.
Mrs. Sohlberg was being inoculated with the virus Cowperwood, and it
was taking deadly effect.  The tendency of her own disposition, however
lethargic it might seem, once it was stirred emotionally, was to act.
She was essentially dynamic and passionate.  Cowperwood was beginning
to stand out in her mind as the force that he was.  It would be
wonderful to be loved by such a man.  There would be an eager, vivid
life between them.  It frightened and drew her like a blazing lamp in
the dark.  To get control of herself she talked of art, people, of
Paris, Italy, and he responded in like strain, but all the while he
smoothed her hand, and once, under the shadow of some trees, he put his
hand to her hair, turned her face, and put his mouth softly to her
cheek.  She flushed, trembled, turned pale, in the grip of this strange
storm, but drew herself together.  It was wonderful--heaven.  Her old
life was obviously going to pieces.

"Listen," he said, guardedly.  "Will you meet me to-morrow at three
just beyond the Rush Street bridge? I will pick you up promptly. You
won't have to wait a moment."

She paused, meditating, dreaming, almost hypnotized by his strange
world of fancy.

"Will you?" he asked, eagerly.

"Wait," she said, softly.  "Let me think.  Can I?"

She paused.

"Yes," she said, after a time, drawing in a deep breath.  "Yes"--as if
she had arranged something in her mind.

"My sweet," he whispered, pressing her arm, while he looked at her
profile in the moonlight.

"But I'm doing a great deal," she replied, softly, a little breathless
and a little pale.




Chapter XVI

A Fateful Interlude


Cowperwood was enchanted.  He kept the proposed tryst with eagerness
and found her all that he had hoped.  She was sweeter, more colorful,
more elusive than anybody he had ever known.  In their charming
apartment on the North Side which he at once engaged, and where he
sometimes spent mornings, evenings, afternoons, as opportunity
afforded, he studied her with the most critical eye and found her
almost flawless.  She had that boundless value which youth and a
certain insouciance of manner contribute.  There was, delicious to
relate, no melancholy in her nature, but a kind of innate sufficiency
which neither looked forward to nor back upon troublesome ills.  She
loved beautiful things, but was not extravagant; and what interested
him and commanded his respect was that no urgings of his toward
prodigality, however subtly advanced, could affect her.  She knew what
she wanted, spent carefully, bought tastefully, arrayed herself in ways
which appealed to him as the flowers did. His feeling for her became at
times so great that he wished, one might almost have said, to destroy
it--to appease the urge and allay the pull in himself, but it was
useless.  The charm of her endured.  His transports would leave her
refreshed apparently, prettier, more graceful than ever, it seemed to
him, putting back her ruffled hair with her hand, mouthing at herself
prettily in the glass, thinking of many remote delicious things at once.

"Do you remember that picture we saw in the art store the other day,
Algernon?" she would drawl, calling him by his second name, which she
had adopted for herself as being more suited to his moods when with her
and more pleasing to her.  Cowperwood had protested, but she held to
it.  "Do you remember that lovely blue of the old man's coat?" (It was
an "Adoration of the Magi.") "Wasn't that be-yoot-i-ful?"

She drawled so sweetly and fixed her mouth in such an odd way that he
was impelled to kiss her.  "You clover blossom," he would say to her,
coming over and taking her by the arms.  "You sprig of cherry bloom.
You Dresden china dream."

"Now, are you going to muss my hair, when I've just managed to fix it?"

The voice was the voice of careless, genial innocence--and the eyes.

"Yes, I am, minx."

"Yes, but you mustn't smother me, you know.  Really, you know you
almost hurt me with your mouth.  Aren't you going to be nice to me?"

"Yes, sweet.  But I want to hurt you, too."

"Well, then, if you must."

But for all his transports the lure was still there.  She was like a
butterfly, he thought, yellow and white or blue and gold, fluttering
over a hedge of wild rose.

In these intimacies it was that he came quickly to understand how much
she knew of social movements and tendencies, though she was just an
individual of the outer fringe.  She caught at once a clear
understanding of his social point of view, his art ambition, his dreams
of something better for himself in every way.  She seemed to see
clearly that he had not as yet realized himself, that Aileen was not
just the woman for him, though she might be one.  She talked of her own
husband after a time in a tolerant way--his foibles, defects,
weaknesses.  She was not unsympathetic, he thought, just weary of a
state that was not properly balanced either in love, ability, or
insight.  Cowperwood had suggested that she could take a larger studio
for herself and Harold--do away with the petty economies that had
hampered her and him--and explain it all on the grounds of a larger
generosity on the part of her family.  At first she objected; but
Cowperwood was tactful and finally brought it about.  He again
suggested a little while later that she should persuade Harold to go to
Europe.  There would be the same ostensible reason--additional means
from her relatives. Mrs. Sohlberg, thus urged, petted, made over,
assured, came finally to accept his liberal rule--to bow to him; she
became as contented as a cat.  With caution she accepted of his
largess, and made the cleverest use of it she could.  For something
over a year neither Sohlberg nor Aileen was aware of the intimacy which
had sprung up. Sohlberg, easily bamboozled, went back to Denmark for a
visit, then to study in Germany.  Mrs. Sohlberg followed Cowperwood to
Europe the following year.  At Aix-les-Bains, Biarritz, Paris, even
London, Aileen never knew that there was an additional figure in the
background.  Cowperwood was trained by Rita into a really finer point
of view.  He came to know better music, books, even the facts.  She
encouraged him in his idea of a representative collection of the old
masters, and begged him to be cautious in his selection of moderns.  He
felt himself to be delightfully situated indeed.

The difficulty with this situation, as with all such where an
individual ventures thus bucaneeringly on the sea of sex, is the
possibility of those storms which result from misplaced confidence, and
from our built-up system of ethics relating to property in women.  To
Cowperwood, however, who was a law unto himself, who knew no law except
such as might be imposed upon him by his lack of ability to think, this
possibility of entanglement, wrath, rage, pain, offered no particular
obstacle.  It was not at all certain that any such thing would follow.
Where the average man might have found one such liaison difficult to
manage, Cowperwood, as we have seen, had previously entered on several
such affairs almost simultaneously; and now he had ventured on yet
another; in the last instance with much greater feeling and enthusiasm.
The previous affairs had been emotional makeshifts at best--more or
less idle philanderings in which his deeper moods and feelings were not
concerned.  In the case of Mrs. Sohlberg all this was changed.  For the
present at least she was really all in all to him.  But this
temperamental characteristic of his relating to his love of women, his
artistic if not emotional subjection to their beauty, and the mystery
of their personalities led him into still a further affair, and this
last was not so fortunate in its outcome.

Antoinette Nowak had come to him fresh from a West Side high school and
a Chicago business college, and had been engaged as his private
stenographer and secretary.  This girl had blossomed forth into
something exceptional, as American children of foreign parents are wont
to do.  You would have scarcely believed that she, with her fine, lithe
body, her good taste in dress, her skill in stenography, bookkeeping,
and business details, could be the daughter of a struggling Pole, who
had first worked in the Southwest Chicago Steel Mills, and who had
later kept a fifth-rate cigar, news, and stationery store in the Polish
district, the merchandise of playing-cards and a back room for idling
and casual gaming being the principal reasons for its existence.
Antoinette, whose first name had not been Antoinette at all, but Minka
(the Antoinette having been borrowed by her from an article in one of
the Chicago Sunday papers), was a fine dark, brooding girl, ambitious
and hopeful, who ten days after she had accepted her new place was
admiring Cowperwood and following his every daring movement with almost
excited interest.  To be the wife of such a man, she thought--to even
command his interest, let alone his affection--must be wonderful.
After the dull world she had known--it seemed dull compared to the
upper, rarefied realms which she was beginning to glimpse through
him--and after the average men in the real-estate office over the way
where she had first worked, Cowperwood, in his good clothes, his remote
mood, his easy, commanding manner, touched the most ambitious chords of
her being.  One day she saw Aileen sweep in from her carriage, wearing
warm brown furs, smart polished boots, a street-suit of corded brown
wool, and a fur toque sharpened and emphasized by a long dark-red
feather which shot upward like a dagger or a quill pen.  Antoinette
hated her.  She conceived herself to be better, or as good at least.
Why was life divided so unfairly? What sort of a man was Cowperwood,
anyhow? One night after she had written out a discreet but truthful
history of himself which he had dictated to her, and which she had sent
to the Chicago newspapers for him soon after the opening of his
brokerage office in Chicago, she went home and dreamed of what he had
told her, only altered, of course, as in dreams.  She thought that
Cowperwood stood beside her in his handsome private office in La Salle
Street and asked her:

"Antoinette, what do you think of me?" Antoinette was nonplussed, but
brave.  In her dream she found herself intensely interested in him.

"Oh, I don't know what to think.  I'm so sorry," was her answer. Then
he laid his hand on hers, on her cheek, and she awoke.  She began
thinking, what a pity, what a shame that such a man should ever have
been in prison.  He was so handsome.  He had been married twice.
Perhaps his first wife was very homely or very mean-spirited. She
thought of this, and the next day went to work meditatively.
Cowperwood, engrossed in his own plans, was not thinking of her at
present.  He was thinking of the next moves in his interesting gas war.
And Aileen, seeing her one day, merely considered her an underling.
The woman in business was such a novelty that as yet she was declasse.
Aileen really thought nothing of Antoinette at all.

Somewhat over a year after Cowperwood had become intimate with Mrs.
Sohlberg his rather practical business relations with Antoinette Nowak
took on a more intimate color.  What shall we say of this--that he had
already wearied of Mrs. Sohlberg? Not in the least. He was desperately
fond of her.  Or that he despised Aileen, whom he was thus grossly
deceiving? Not at all.  She was to him at times as attractive as
ever--perhaps more so for the reason that her self-imagined rights were
being thus roughly infringed upon. He was sorry for her, but inclined
to justify himself on the ground that these other relations--with
possibly the exception of Mrs. Sohlherg--were not enduring.  If it had
been possible to marry Mrs. Sohlberg he might have done so, and he did
speculate at times as to whether anything would ever induce Aileen to
leave him; but this was more or less idle speculation.  He rather
fancied they would live out their days together, seeing that he was
able thus easily to deceive her.  But as for a girl like Antoinette
Nowak, she figured in that braided symphony of mere sex attraction
which somehow makes up that geometric formula of beauty which rules the
world.  She was charming in a dark way, beautiful, with eyes that
burned with an unsatisfied fire; and Cowperwood, although at first only
in the least moved by her, became by degrees interested in her,
wondering at the amazing, transforming power of the American atmosphere.

"Are your parents English, Antoinette?" he asked her, one morning, with
that easy familiarity which he assumed to all underlings and minor
intellects--an air that could not be resented in him, and which was
usually accepted as a compliment.

Antoinette, clean and fresh in a white shirtwaist, a black
walking-skirt, a ribbon of black velvet about her neck, and her long,
black hair laid in a heavy braid low over her forehead and held close
by a white celluloid comb, looked at him with pleased and grateful
eyes.  She had been used to such different types of men--the earnest,
fiery, excitable, sometimes drunken and swearing men of her childhood,
always striking, marching, praying in the Catholic churches; and then
the men of the business world, crazy over money, and with no
understanding of anything save some few facts about Chicago and its
momentary possibilities.  In Cowperwood's office, taking his letters
and hearing him talk in his quick, genial way with old Laughlin,
Sippens, and others, she had learned more of life than she had ever
dreamed existed.  He was like a vast open window out of which she was
looking upon an almost illimitable landscape.

"No, sir," she replied, dropping her slim, firm, white hand, holding a
black lead-pencil restfully on her notebook.  She smiled quite
innocently because she was pleased.

"I thought not," he said, "and yet you're American enough."

"I don't know how it is," she said, quite solemnly.  "I have a brother
who is quite as American as I am.  We don't either of us look like our
father or mother."

"What does your brother do?" he asked, indifferently.

"He's one of the weighers at Arneel & Co.  He expects to be a manager
sometime." She smiled.

Cowperwood looked at her speculatively, and after a momentary return
glance she dropped her eyes.  Slowly, in spite of herself, a telltale
flush rose and mantled her brown cheeks.   It always did when he looked
at her.

"Take this letter to General Van Sickle," he began, on this occasion
quite helpfully, and in a few minutes she had recovered.  She could not
be near Cowperwood for long at a time, however, without being stirred
by a feeling which was not of her own willing.  He fascinated and
suffused her with a dull fire.  She sometimes wondered whether a man so
remarkable would ever be interested in a girl like her.

The end of this essential interest, of course, was the eventual
assumption of Antoinette.  One might go through all the dissolving
details of days in which she sat taking dictation, receiving
instructions, going about her office duties in a state of apparently
chill, practical, commercial single-mindedness; but it would be to no
purpose.  As a matter of fact, without in any way affecting the
preciseness and accuracy of her labor, her thoughts were always upon
the man in the inner office--the strange master who was then seeing his
men, and in between, so it seemed, a whole world of individuals, solemn
and commercial, who came, presented their cards, talked at times almost
interminably, and went away.  It was the rare individual, however, she
observed, who had the long conversation with Cowperwood, and that
interested her the more. His instructions to her were always of the
briefest, and he depended on her native intelligence to supply much
that he scarcely more than suggested.

"You understand, do you?" was his customary phrase.

"Yes," she would reply.

She felt as though she were fifty times as significant here as she had
ever been in her life before.

The office was clean, hard, bright, like Cowperwood himself.  The
morning sun, streaming in through an almost solid glass east front
shaded by pale-green roller curtains, came to have an almost romantic
atmosphere for her.  Cowperwood's private office, as in Philadelphia,
was a solid cherry-wood box in which he could shut himself
completely--sight-proof, sound-proof.  When the door was closed it was
sacrosanct.  He made it a rule, sensibly, to keep his door open as much
as possible, even when he was dictating, sometimes not.  It was in
these half-hours of dictation--the door open, as a rule, for he did not
care for too much privacy--that he and Miss Nowak came closest.  After
months and months, and because he had been busy with the other woman
mentioned, of whom she knew nothing, she came to enter sometimes with a
sense of suffocation, sometimes of maidenly shame.  It would never have
occurred to her to admit frankly that she wanted Cowperwood to make
love to her.   It would have frightened her to have thought of herself
as yielding easily, and yet there was not a detail of his personality
that was not now burned in her brain.  His light, thick, always
smoothly parted hair, his wide, clear, inscrutable eyes, his carefully
manicured hands, so full and firm, his fresh clothing of delicate,
intricate patterns--how these fascinated her! He seemed always remote
except just at the moment of doing something, when, curiously enough,
he seemed intensely intimate and near.

One day, after many exchanges of glances in which her own always fell
sharply--in the midst of a letter--he arose and closed the half-open
door.  She did not think so much of that, as a rule--it had happened
before--but now, to-day, because of a studied glance he had given her,
neither tender nor smiling, she felt as though something unusual were
about to happen.  Her own body was going hot and cold by turns--her
neck and hands.  She had a fine figure, finer than she realized, with
shapely limbs and torso.  Her head had some of the sharpness of the old
Greek coinage, and her hair was plaited as in ancient cut stone.
Cowperwood noted it.  He came back and, without taking his seat, bent
over her and intimately took her hand.

"Antoinette," he said, lifting her gently.

She looked up, then arose--for he slowly drew her--breathless, the
color gone, much of the capable practicality that was hers completely
eliminated.  She felt limp, inert.  She pulled at her hand faintly, and
then, lifting her eyes, was fixed by that hard, insatiable gaze of his.
Her head swam--her eyes were filled with a telltale confusion.

"Antoinette!"

"Yes," she murmured.

"You love me, don't you?"

She tried to pull herself together, to inject some of her native
rigidity of soul into her air--that rigidity which she always imagined
would never desert her--but it was gone.  There came instead to her a
picture of the far Blue Island Avenue neighborhood from which she
emanated--its low brown cottages, and then this smart, hard office and
this strong man.  He came out of such a marvelous world, apparently.  A
strange foaming seemed to be in her blood.   She was deliriously,
deliciously numb and happy.

"Antoinette!"

"Oh, I don't know what I think," she gasped.  "I-- Oh yes, I do, I do."

"I like your name," he said, simply.  "Antoinette." And then, pulling
her to him, he slipped his arm about her waist.

She was frightened, numb, and then suddenly, not so much from shame as
shock, tears rushed to her eyes.  She turned and put her hand on the
desk and hung her head and sobbed.

"Why, Antoinette," he asked, gently, bending over her, "are you so much
unused to the world? I thought you said you loved me.  Do you want me
to forget all this and go on as before? I can, of course, if you can,
you know."

He knew that she loved him, wanted him.

She heard him plainly enough, shaking.

"Do you?" he said, after a time, giving her moments in which to recover.

"Oh, let me cry!" she recovered herself sufficiently to say, quite
wildly.  "I don't know why I'm crying.  It's just because I'm nervous,
I suppose.  Please don't mind me now."

"Antoinette," he repeated, "look at me! Will you stop?"

"Oh no, not now.  My eyes are so bad."

"Antoinette! Come, look!" He put his hand under her chin.  "See, I'm
not so terrible."

"Oh," she said, when her eyes met his again, "I--" And then she folded
her arms against his breast while he petted her hand and held her close.

"I'm not so bad, Antoinette.  It's you as much as it is me.  You do
love me, then?"

"Yes, yes--oh yes!"

"And you don't mind?"

"No.  It's all so strange." Her face was hidden.

"Kiss me, then."

She put up her lips and slipped her arms about him.  He held her close.

He tried teasingly to make her say why she cried, thinking the while of
what Aileen or Rita would think if they knew, but she would not at
first--admitting later that it was a sense of evil. Curiously she also
thought of Aileen, and how, on occasion, she had seen her sweep in and
out.  Now she was sharing with her (the dashing Mrs. Cowperwood, so
vain and superior) the wonder of his affection.  Strange as it may
seem, she looked on it now as rather an honor.  She had risen in her
own estimation--her sense of life and power.  Now, more than ever
before, she knew something of life because she knew something of love
and passion.  The future seemed tremulous with promise.  She went back
to her machine after a while, thinking of this.  What would it all come
to? she wondered, wildly.  You could not have told by her eyes that she
had been crying.  Instead, a rich glow in her brown cheeks heightened
her beauty.  No disturbing sense of Aileen was involved with all this.
Antoinette was of the newer order that was beginning to privately
question ethics and morals.  She had a right to her life, lead where it
would.  And to what it would bring her.  The feel of Cowperwood's lips
was still fresh on hers.  What would the future reveal to her now? What?




Chapter XVII

An Overture to Conflict


The result of this understanding was not so important to Cowperwood as
it was to Antoinette.  In a vagrant mood he had unlocked a spirit here
which was fiery, passionate, but in his case hopelessly worshipful.
However much she might be grieved by him, Antoinette, as he
subsequently learned, would never sin against his personal welfare.
Yet she was unwittingly the means of first opening the flood-gates of
suspicion on Aileen, thereby establishing in the latter's mind the fact
of Cowperwood's persistent unfaithfulness.

The incidents which led up to this were comparatively trivial--nothing
more, indeed, at first than the sight of Miss Nowak and Cowperwood
talking intimately in his office one afternoon when the others had gone
and the fact that she appeared to be a little bit disturbed by Aileen's
arrival.  Later came the discovery--though of this Aileen could not be
absolutely sure--of Cowperwood and Antoinette in a closed carriage one
stormy November afternoon in State Street when he was supposed to be
out of the city.  She was coming out of Merrill's store at the time,
and just happened to glance at the passing vehicle, which was running
near the curb. Aileen, although uncertain, was greatly shocked.  Could
it be possible that he had not left town? She journeyed to his office
on the pretext of taking old Laughlin's dog, Jennie, a pretty collar
she had found; actually to find if Antoinette were away at the same
time.  Could it be possible, she kept asking herself, that Cowperwood
had become interested in his own stenographer? The fact that the office
assumed that he was out of town and that Antoinette was not there gave
her pause.  Laughlin quite innocently informed her that he thought Miss
Nowak had gone to one of the libraries to make up certain reports.  It
left her in doubt.

What was Aileen to think? Her moods and aspirations were linked so
closely with the love and success of Cowperwood that she could not, in
spite of herself, but take fire at the least thought of losing him.  He
himself wondered sometimes, as he threaded the mesh-like paths of sex,
what she would do once she discovered his variant conduct.  Indeed,
there had been little occasional squabbles, not sharp, but suggestive,
when he was trifling about with Mrs. Kittridge, Mrs. Ledwell, and
others.  There were, as may be imagined, from time to time absences,
brief and unimportant, which he explained easily, passional
indifferences which were not explained so easily, and the like; but
since his affections were not really involved in any of those
instances, he had managed to smooth the matter over quite nicely.

"Why do you say that?" he would demand, when she suggested, apropos of
a trip or a day when she had not been with him, that there might have
been another.  "You know there hasn't.  If I am going in for that sort
of thing you'll learn it fast enough.  Even if I did, it wouldn't mean
that I was unfaithful to you spiritually."

"Oh, wouldn't it?" exclaimed Aileen, resentfully, and with some
disturbance of spirit.  "Well, you can keep your spiritual
faithfulness.  I'm not going to be content with any sweet thoughts."

Cowperwood laughed even as she laughed, for he knew she was right and
he felt sorry for her.  At the same time her biting humor pleased him.
He knew that she did not really suspect him of actual infidelity; he
was obviously so fond of her.  But she also knew that he was innately
attractive to women, and that there were enough of the philandering
type to want to lead him astray and make her life a burden.  Also that
he might prove a very willing victim.

Sex desire and its fruition being such an integral factor in the
marriage and every other sex relation, the average woman is prone to
study the periodic manifestations that go with it quite as one
dependent on the weather--a sailor, or example--might study the
barometer.  In this Aileen was no exception.  She was so beautiful
herself, and had been so much to Cowperwood physically, that she had
followed the corresponding evidences of feeling in him with the utmost
interest, accepting the recurring ebullitions of his physical emotions
as an evidence of her own enduring charm.  As time went on,
however--and that was long before Mrs. Sohlberg or any one else had
appeared--the original flare of passion had undergone a form of
subsidence, though not noticeable enough to be disturbing.  Aileen
thought and thought, but she did not investigate.  Indeed, because of
the precariousness of her own situation as a social failure she was
afraid to do so.

With the arrival of Mrs. Sohlberg and then of Antoinette Nowak as
factors in the potpourri, the situation became more difficult. Humanly
fond of Aileen as Cowperwood was, and because of his lapses and her
affection, desirous of being kind, yet for the time being he was
alienated almost completely from her.  He grew remote according as his
clandestine affairs were drifting or blazing, without, however, losing
his firm grip on his financial affairs, and Aileen noticed it.  It
worried her.  She was so vain that she could scarcely believe that
Cowperwood could long be indifferent, and for a while her sentimental
interest in Sohlberg's future and unhappiness of soul beclouded her
judgment; but she finally began to feel the drift of affairs.  The
pathos of all this is that it so quickly descends into the realm of the
unsatisfactory, the banal, the pseudo intimate.  Aileen noticed it at
once.  She tried protestations.  "You don't kiss me the way you did
once," and then a little later, "You haven't noticed me hardly for four
whole days. What's the matter?"

"Oh, I don't know," replied Cowperwood, easily; "I guess I want you as
much as ever.  I don't see that I am any different." He took her in his
arms and petted and caressed her; but Aileen was suspicious, nervous.

The psychology of the human animal, when confronted by these tangles,
these ripping tides of the heart, has little to do with so-called
reason or logic.  It is amazing how in the face of passion and the
affections and the changing face of life all plans and theories by
which we guide ourselves fall to the ground.  Here was Aileen talking
bravely at the time she invaded Mrs. Lillian Cowperwood's domain of the
necessity of "her Frank" finding a woman suitable to his needs, tastes,
abilities, but now that the possibility of another woman equally or
possibly better suited to him was looming in the offing--although she
had no idea who it might be--she could not reason in the same way.  Her
ox, God wot, was the one that was being gored.  What if he should find
some one whom he could want more than he did her? Dear heaven, how
terrible that would be! What would she do? she asked herself,
thoughtfully.  She lapsed into the blues one afternoon--almost
cried--she could scarcely say why.  Another time she thought of all the
terrible things she would do, how difficult she would make it for any
other woman who invaded her preserves.  However, she was not sure.
Would she declare war if she discovered another? She knew she would
eventually; and yet she knew, too, that if she did, and Cowperwood were
set in his passion, thoroughly alienated, it would do no good.  It
would be terrible, but what could she do to win him back? That was the
issue.  Once warned, however, by her suspicious questioning, Cowperwood
was more mechanically attentive than ever.  He did his best to conceal
his altered mood--his enthusiasms for Mrs. Sohlberg, his interest in
Antoinette Nowak--and this helped somewhat.

But finally there was a detectable change.  Aileen noticed it first
after they had been back from Europe nearly a year.  At this time she
was still interested in Sohlberg, but in a harmlessly flirtatious way.
She thought he might be interesting physically, but would he be as
delightful as Cowperwood? Never! When she felt that Cowperwood himself
might be changing she pulled herself up at once, and when Antoinette
appeared--the carriage incident--Sohlberg lost his, at best, unstable
charm.  She began to meditate on what a terrible thing it would be to
lose Cowperwood, seeing that she had failed to establish herself
socially.  Perhaps that had something to do with his defection.  No
doubt it had.  Yet she could not believe, after all his protestations
of affection in Philadelphia, after all her devotion to him in those
dark days of his degradation and punishment, that he would really turn
on her.  No, he might stray momentarily, but if she protested enough,
made a scene, perhaps, he would not feel so free to injure her--he
would remember and be loving and devoted again.   After seeing him, or
imagining she had seen him, in the carriage, she thought at first that
she would question him, but later decided that she would wait and watch
more closely.  Perhaps he was beginning to run around with other women.
There was safety in numbers--that she knew.  Her heart, her pride, was
hurt, but not broken.




Chapter XVIII

The Clash


The peculiar personality of Rita Sohlberg was such that by her very
action she ordinarily allayed suspicion, or rather distracted it.
Although a novice, she had a strange ease, courage, or balance of soul
which kept her whole and self-possessed under the most trying of
circumstances.  She might have been overtaken in the most compromising
of positions, but her manner would always have indicated ease, a sense
of innocence, nothing unusual, for she had no sense of moral
degradation in this matter--no troublesome emotion as to what was to
flow from a relationship of this kind, no worry as to her own soul,
sin, social opinion, or the like. She was really interested in art and
life--a pagan, in fact.  Some people are thus hardily equipped.  It is
the most notable attribute of the hardier type of personalities--not
necessarily the most brilliant or successful.  You might have said that
her soul was naively unconscious of the agony of others in loss.  She
would have taken any loss to herself with an amazing equableness--some
qualms, of course, but not many--because her vanity and sense of charm
would have made her look forward to something better or as good.

She had called on Aileen quite regularly in the past, with or without
Harold, and had frequently driven with the Cowperwoods or joined them
at the theater or elsewhere.  She had decided, after becoming intimate
with Cowperwood, to study art again, which was a charming blind, for it
called for attendance at afternoon or evening classes which she
frequently skipped.  Besides, since Harold had more money he was
becoming gayer, more reckless and enthusiastic over women, and
Cowperwood deliberately advised her to encourage him in some liaison
which, in case exposure should subsequently come to them, would
effectually tie his hands.

"Let him get in some affair," Cowperwood told Rita.  "We'll put
detectives on his trail and get evidence.  He won't have a word to say."

"We don't really need to do that," she protested sweetly, naively.
"He's been in enough scrapes as it is.  He's given me some of the
letters--" (she pronounced it "lettahs")--"written him."

"But we'll need actual witnesses if we ever need anything at all. Just
tell me when he's in love again, and I'll do the rest."

"You know I think," she drawled, amusingly, "that he is now.  I saw him
on the street the other day with one of his students--rather a pretty
girl, too."

Cowperwood was pleased.  Under the circumstances he would almost have
been willing--not quite--for Aileen to succumb to Sohlberg in order to
entrap her and make his situation secure.  Yet he really did not wish
it in the last analysis--would have been grieved temporarily if she had
deserted him.  However, in the case of Sohlberg, detectives were
employed, the new affair with the flighty pupil was unearthed and sworn
to by witnesses, and this, combined with the "lettahs" held by Rita,
constituted ample material wherewith to "hush up" the musician if ever
he became unduly obstreperous. So Cowperwood and Rita's state was quite
comfortable.

But Aileen, meditating over Antoinette Nowak, was beside herself with
curiosity, doubt, worry.  She did not want to injure Cowperwood in any
way after his bitter Philadelphia experience, and yet when she thought
of his deserting her in this way she fell into a great rage.  Her
vanity, as much as her love, was hurt.  What could she do to justify or
set at rest her suspicions? Watch him personally? She was too dignified
and vain to lurk about street-corners or offices or hotels.  Never!
Start a quarrel without additional evidence--that would be silly.  He
was too shrewd to give her further evidence once she spoke.  He would
merely deny it.  She brooded irritably, recalling after a time, and
with an aching heart, that her father had put detectives on her track
once ten years before, and had actually discovered her relations with
Cowperwood and their rendezvous.  Bitter as that memory
was--torturing--yet now the same means seemed not too abhorrent to
employ under the circumstances.  No harm had come to Cowperwood in the
former instance, she reasoned to herself--no especial harm--from that
discovery (this was not true), and none would come to him now.  (This
also was not true.) But one must forgive a fiery, passionate soul,
wounded to the quick, some errors of judgment. Her thought was that she
would first be sure just what it was her beloved was doing, and then
decide what course to take.  But she knew that she was treading on
dangerous ground, and mentally she recoiled from the consequences which
might follow.  He might leave her if she fought him too bitterly.  He
might treat her as he had treated his first wife, Lillian.

She studied her liege lord curiously these days, wondering if it were
true that he had deserted her already, as he had deserted his first
wife thirteen years before, wondering if he could really take up with a
girl as common as Antoinette Nowak--wondering, wondering,
wondering--half afraid and yet courageous.  What could be done with
him? If only he still loved her all would be well yet--but oh!

The detective agency to which she finally applied, after weeks of
soul-racking suspense, was one of those disturbingly human implements
which many are not opposed to using on occasion, when it is the only
means of solving a troublous problem of wounded feelings or jeopardized
interests.  Aileen, being obviously rich, was forthwith shamefully
overcharged; but the services agreed upon were well performed.  To her
amazement, chagrin, and distress, after a few weeks of observation
Cowperwood was reported to have affairs not only with Antoinette Nowak,
whom she did suspect, but also with Mrs. Sohlberg.  And these two
affairs at one and the same time. For the moment it left Aileen
actually stunned and breathless.

The significance of Rita Sohlberg to her in this hour was greater than
that of any woman before or after.  Of all living things, women dread
women most of all, and of all women the clever and beautiful.  Rita
Sohlberg had been growing on Aileen as a personage, for she had
obviously been prospering during this past year, and her beauty had
been amazingly enhanced thereby.  Once Aileen had encountered Rita in a
light trap on the Avenue, very handsome and very new, and she had
commented on it to Cowperwood, whose reply had been: "Her father must
be making some money.  Sohlberg could never earn it for her."

Aileen sympathized with Harold because of his temperament, but she knew
that what Cowperwood said was true.

Another time, at a box-party at the theater, she had noted the rich
elaborateness of Mrs. Sohlberg's dainty frock, the endless pleatings of
pale silk, the startling charm of the needlework and the
ribbons--countless, rosetted, small--that meant hard work on the part
of some one.

"How lovely this is," she had commented.

"Yes," Rita had replied, airily; "I thought, don't you know, my
dressmaker would never get done working on it."

It had cost, all told, two hundred and twenty dollars, and Cowperwood
had gladly paid the bill.

Aileen went home at the time thinking of Rita's taste and of how well
she had harmonized her materials to her personality.  She was truly
charming.

Now, however, when it appeared that the same charm that had appealed to
her had appealed to Cowperwood, she conceived an angry, animal
opposition to it all.  Rita Sohlberg! Ha! A lot of satisfaction she'd
get knowing as she would soon, that Cowperwood was sharing his
affection for her with Antoinette Nowak--a mere stenographer. And a lot
of satisfaction Antoinette would get--the cheap upstart--when she
learned, as she would, that Cowperwood loved her so lightly that he
would take an apartment for Rita Sohlberg and let a cheap hotel or an
assignation-house do for her.

But in spite of this savage exultation her thoughts kept coming back to
herself, to her own predicament, to torture and destroy her.
Cowperwood, the liar! Cowperwood, the pretender! Cowperwood, the sneak!
At one moment she conceived a kind of horror of the man because of all
his protestations to her; at the next a rage--bitter, swelling; at the
next a pathetic realization of her own altered position.   Say what one
will, to take the love of a man like Cowperwood away from a woman like
Aileen was to leave her high and dry on land, as a fish out of its
native element, to take all the wind out of her sails--almost to kill
her.  Whatever position she had once thought to hold through him, was
now jeopardized.  Whatever joy or glory she had had in being Mrs. Frank
Algernon Cowperwood, it was now tarnished.  She sat in her room, this
same day after the detectives had given their report, a tired look in
her eyes, the first set lines her pretty mouth had ever known showing
about it, her past and her future whirling painfully and nebulously in
her brain.  Suddenly she got up, and, seeing Cowperwood's picture on
her dresser, his still impressive eyes contemplating her, she seized it
and threw it on the floor, stamping on his handsome face with her
pretty foot, and raging at him in her heart.  The dog! The brute! Her
brain was full of the thought of Rita's white arms about him, of his
lips to hers.  The spectacle of Rita's fluffy gowns, her enticing
costumes, was in her eyes.  Rita should not have him; she should not
have anything connected with him, nor, for that matter, Antoinette
Nowak, either--the wretched upstart, the hireling.  To think he should
stoop to an office stenographer! Once on that thought, she decided that
he should not be allowed to have a woman as an assistant any more.  He
owed it to her to love her after all she had done for him, the coward,
and to let other women alone.  Her brain whirled with strange thoughts.
She was really not sane in her present state.  She was so wrought up by
her prospective loss that she could only think of rash, impossible,
destructive things to do.  She dressed swiftly, feverishly, and,
calling a closed carriage from the coach-house, ordered herself to be
driven to the New Arts Building.  She would show this rosy cat of a
woman, this smiling piece of impertinence, this she-devil, whether she
would lure Cowperwood away.  She meditated as she rode. She would not
sit back and be robbed as Mrs. Cowperwood had been by her.  Never! He
could not treat her that way.  She would die first! She would kill Rita
Sohlberg and Antoinette Nowak and Cowperwood and herself first.  She
would prefer to die that way rather than lose his love.  Oh yes, a
thousand times! Fortunately, Rita Sohlberg was not at the New Arts
Building, or Sohlberg, either. They had gone to a reception.  Nor was
she at the apartment on the North Side, where, under the name of
Jacobs, as Aileen had been informed by the detectives, she and
Cowperwood kept occasional tryst.  Aileen hesitated for a moment,
feeling it useless to wait, then she ordered the coachman to drive to
her husband's office. It was now nearly five o'clock.  Antoinette and
Cowperwood had both gone, but she did not know it.  She changed her
mind, however, before she reached the office--for it was Rita Sohlberg
she wished to reach first--and ordered her coachman to drive back to
the Sohlberg studio.  But still they had not returned.  In a kind of
aimless rage she went home, wondering how she should reach Rita
Sohlberg first and alone.  Then, to her savage delight, the game walked
into her bag.  The Sohlbergs, returning home at six o'clock from some
reception farther out Michigan Avenue, had stopped, at the wish of
Harold, merely to pass the time of day with Mrs. Cowperwood.  Rita was
exquisite in a pale-blue and lavender concoction, with silver braid
worked in here and there.   Her gloves and shoes were pungent bits of
romance, her hat a dream of graceful lines.  At the sight of her,
Aileen, who was still in the hall and had opened the door herself,
fairly burned to seize her by the throat and strike her; but she
restrained herself sufficiently to say, "Come in." She still had sense
enough and self-possession enough to conceal her wrath and to close the
door.  Beside his wife Harold was standing, offensively smug and
inefficient in the fashionable frock-coat and silk hat of the time, a
restraining influence as yet.  He was bowing and smiling:

"Oh." This sound was neither an "oh" nor an "ah," but a kind of Danish
inflected "awe," which was usually not unpleasing to hear. "How are
you, once more, Meeses Cowperwood? It eez sudge a pleasure to see you
again--awe."

"Won't you two just go in the reception-room a moment," said Aileen,
almost hoarsely.  "I'll be right in.  I want to get something." Then,
as an afterthought, she called very sweetly: "Oh, Mrs. Sohlberg, won't
you come up to my room for a moment? I have something I want to show
you."

Rita responded promptly.  She always felt it incumbent upon her to be
very nice to Aileen.

"We have only a moment to stay," she replied, archly and sweetly, and
coming out in the hall, "but I'll come up."

Aileen stayed to see her go first, then followed up-stairs swiftly,
surely, entered after Rita, and closed the door.  With a courage and
rage born of a purely animal despair, she turned and locked it; then
she wheeled swiftly, her eyes lit with a savage fire, her cheeks pale,
but later aflame, her hands, her fingers working in a strange,
unconscious way.

"So," she said, looking at Rita, and coming toward her quickly and
angrily, "you'll steal my husband, will you? You'll live in a secret
apartment, will you? You'll come here smiling and lying to me, will
you? You beast! You cat! You prostitute! I'll show you now! You
tow-headed beast! I know you now for what you are! I'll teach you once
for all! Take that, and that, and that!"

Suiting action to word, Aileen had descended upon her whirlwind, animal
fashion, striking, scratching, choking, tearing her visitor's hat from
her head, ripping the laces from her neck, beating her in the face, and
clutching violently at her hair and throat to choke and mar her beauty
if she could.  For the moment she was really crazy with rage.

By the suddenness of this onslaught Rita Sohlberg was taken back
completely.  It all came so swiftly, so terribly, she scarcely realized
what was happening before the storm was upon her.  There was no time
for arguments, pleas, anything.  Terrified, shamed, nonplussed, she
went down quite limply under this almost lightning attack.  When Aileen
began to strike her she attempted in vain to defend herself, uttering
at the same time piercing screams which could be heard throughout the
house.  She screamed shrilly, strangely, like a wild dying animal.  On
the instant all her fine, civilized poise had deserted her.  From the
sweetness and delicacy of the reception atmosphere--the polite cooings,
posturings, and mouthings so charming to contemplate, so alluring in
her--she had dropped on the instant to that native animal condition
that shows itself in fear.  Her eyes had a look of hunted horror, her
lips and cheeks were pale and drawn.  She retreated in a staggering,
ungraceful way; she writhed and squirmed, screaming in the strong
clutch of the irate and vigorous Aileen.

Cowperwood entered the hall below just before the screams began. He had
followed the Sohlbergs almost immediately from his office, and,
chancing to glance in the reception-room, he had observed Sohlberg
smiling, radiant, an intangible air of self-ingratiating, social, and
artistic sycophancy about him, his long black frock-coat buttoned
smoothly around his body, his silk hat still in his hands.

"Awe, how do you do, Meezter Cowperwood," he was beginning to say, his
curly head shaking in a friendly manner, "I'm soa glad to see you
again" when--but who can imitate a scream of terror? We have no words,
no symbols even, for those essential sounds of fright and agony.  They
filled the hall, the library, the reception-room, the distant kitchen
even, and basement with a kind of vibrant terror.

Cowperwood, always the man of action as opposed to nervous cogitation,
braced up on the instant like taut wire.  What, for heaven's sake,
could that be? What a terrible cry! Sohlberg the artist, responding
like a chameleon to the various emotional complexions of life, began to
breathe stertorously, to blanch, to lose control of himself.

"My God!" he exclaimed, throwing up his hands, "that's Rita! She's
up-stairs in your wife's room! Something must have happened.  Oh--" On
the instant he was quite beside himself, terrified, shaking, almost
useless.  Cowperwood, on the contrary, without a moment's hesitation
had thrown his coat to the floor, dashed up the stairs, followed by
Sohlberg.  What could it be? Where was Aileen? As he bounded upward a
clear sense of something untoward came over him; it was sickening,
terrifying.  Scream! Scream! Scream! came the sounds.  "Oh, my God!
don't kill me! Help! Help!" SCREAM--this last a long, terrified,
ear-piercing wail.

Sohlberg was about to drop from heart failure, he was so frightened.
His face was an ashen gray.  Cowperwood seized the door-knob vigorously
and, finding the door locked, shook, rattled, and banged at it.

"Aileen!" he called, sharply.  "Aileen! What's the matter in there?
Open this door, Aileen!"

"Oh, my God! Oh, help! help! Oh, mercy--o-o-o-o-oh!" It was the moaning
voice of Rita.

"I'll show you, you she-devil!" he heard Aileen calling.  "I'll teach
you, you beast! You cat, you prostitute! There! there! there!"

"Aileen!" he called, hoarsely.  "Aileen!" Then, getting no response,
and the screams continuing, he turned angrily.

"Stand back!" he exclaimed to Sohlberg, who was moaning helplessly.
"Get me a chair, get me a table--anything." The butler ran to obey, but
before he could return Cowperwood had found an implement. "Here!" he
said, seizing a long, thin, heavily carved and heavily wrought oak
chair which stood at the head of the stairs on the landing.  He whirled
it vigorously over his head.  Smash! The sound rose louder than the
screams inside.

Smash! The chair creaked and almost broke, but the door did not give.

Smash! The chair broke and the door flew open.  He had knocked the lock
loose and had leaped in to where Aileen, kneeling over Rita on the
floor, was choking and beating her into insensibility. Like an animal
he was upon her.

"Aileen," he shouted, fiercely, in a hoarse, ugly, guttural voice, "you
fool! You idiot--let go! What the devil's the matter with you? What are
you trying to do? Have you lost your mind?--you crazy idiot!"

He seized her strong hands and ripped them apart.  He fairly dragged
her back, half twisting and half throwing her over his knee, loosing
her clutching hold.  She was so insanely furious that she still
struggled and cried, saying: "Let me at her! Let me at her! I'll teach
her! Don't you try to hold me, you dog! I'll show you, too, you
brute--oh--"

"Pick up that woman," called Cowperwood, firmly, to Sohlberg and the
butler, who had entered.  "Get her out of here quick! My wife has gone
crazy.  Get her out of here, I tell you! This woman doesn't know what
she's doing.  Take her out and get a doctor.  What sort of a hell's
melee is this, anyway?"

"Oh," moaned Rita, who was torn and fainting, almost unconscious from
sheer terror.

"I'll kill her!" screamed Aileen.  "I'll murder her! I'll murder you
too, you dog! Oh"--she began striking at him--"I'll teach you how to
run around with other women, you dog, you brute!"

Cowperwood merely gripped her hands and shook her vigorously,
forcefully.

"What the devil has got into you, anyway, you fool?" he said to her,
bitterly, as they carried Rita out.  "What are you trying to do,
anyway--murder her? Do you want the police to come in here? Stop your
screaming and behave yourself, or I'll shove a handkerchief in your
mouth! Stop, I tell you! Stop! Do you hear me? This is enough, you
fool!" He clapped his hand over her mouth, pressing it tight and
forcing her back against him.  He shook her brutally, angrily.  He was
very strong.  "Now will you stop," he insisted, "or do you want me to
choke you quiet? I will, if you don't. You're out of your mind.  Stop,
I tell you! So this is the way you carry on when things don't go to
suit you?" She was sobbing, struggling, moaning, half screaming, quite
beside herself.

"Oh, you crazy fool!" he said, swinging her round, and with an effort
getting out a handkerchief, which he forced over her face and in her
mouth.  "There," he said, relievedly, "now will you shut up?" holding
her tight in an iron grip, he let her struggle and turn, quite ready to
put an end to her breathing if necessary.

Now that he had conquered her, he continued to hold her tightly,
stooping beside her on one knee, listening and meditating.  Hers was
surely a terrible passion.  From some points of view he could not blame
her.  Great was her provocation, great her love.  He knew her
disposition well enough to have anticipated something of this sort.
Yet the wretchedness, shame, scandal of the terrible affair upset his
customary equilibrium.  To think any one should give way to such a
storm as this! To think that Aileen should do it! To think that Rita
should have been so mistreated! It was not at all unlikely that she was
seriously injured, marred for life--possibly even killed.  The horror
of that! The ensuing storm of public rage! A trial! His whole career
gone up in one terrific explosion of woe, anger, death! Great God!

He called the butler to him by a nod of his head, when the latter, who
had gone out with Rita, hurried back.

"How is she?" he asked, desperately.  "Seriously hurt?"

"No, sir; I think not.  I believe she's just fainted.  She'll be all
right in a little while, sir.  Can I be of any service, sir?"

Ordinarily Cowperwood would have smiled at such a scene.  Now he was
cold, sober.

"Not now," he replied, with a sigh of relief, still holding Aileen
firmly.  "Go out and close the door.  Call a doctor.  Wait in the hall.
When he comes, call me."

Aileen, conscious of things being done for Rita, of sympathy being
extended to her, tried to get up, to scream again; but she couldn't;
her lord and master held her in an ugly hold.  When the door was closed
he said again: "Now, Aileen, will you hush? Will you let me get up and
talk to you, or must we stay here all night? Do you want me to drop you
forever after to-night? I understand all about this, but I am in
control now, and I am going to stay so.  You will come to your senses
and be reasonable, or I will leave you to-morrow as sure as I am here."
His voice rang convincingly. "Now, shall we talk sensibly, or will you
go on making a fool of yourself--disgracing me, disgracing the house,
making yourself and myself the laughing-stock of the servants, the
neighborhood, the city? This is a fine showing you've made to-day.
Good God! A fine showing, indeed! A brawl in this house, a fight! I
thought you had better sense--more self-respect--really I did.  You
have seriously jeopardized my chances here in Chicago.  You have
seriously injured and possibly killed a woman.  You could even be
hanged for that.  Do you hear me?"

"Oh, let them hang me," groaned Aileen.  "I want to die."

He took away his hand from her mouth, loosened his grip upon her arms,
and let her get to her feet.  She was still torrential, impetuous,
ready to upbraid him, but once standing she was confronted by him,
cold, commanding, fixing her with a fishy eye.  He wore a look now she
had never seen on his face before--a hard, wintry, dynamic flare, which
no one but his commercial enemies, and only those occasionally, had
seen.

"Now stop!" he exclaimed.  "Not one more word! Not one! Do you hear me?"

She wavered, quailed, gave way.  All the fury of her tempestuous soul
fell, as the sea falls under a lapse of wind.  She had had it in heart,
on her lips, to cry again, "You dog! you brute!" and a hundred other
terrible, useless things, but somehow, under the pressure of his gaze,
the hardness of his heart, the words on her lips died away.  She looked
at him uncertainly for a moment, then, turning, she threw herself on
the bed near by, clutched her cheeks and mouth and eyes, and, rocking
back and forth in an agony of woe, she began to sob:

"Oh, my God! my God! My heart! My life! I want to die! I want to die!"

Standing there watching her, there suddenly came to Cowperwood a keen
sense of her soul hurt, her heart hurt, and he was moved.

"Aileen," he said, after a moment or two, coming over and touching her
quite gently, "Aileen! Don't cry so.  I haven't left you yet. Your life
isn't utterly ruined.  Don't cry.  This is bad business, but perhaps it
is not without remedy.  Come now, pull yourself together, Aileen!"

For answer she merely rocked and moaned, uncontrolled and
uncontrollable.

Being anxious about conditions elsewhere, he turned and stepped out
into the hall.  He must make some show for the benefit of the doctor
and the servants; he must look after Rita, and offer some sort of
passing explanation to Sohlherg.

"Here," he called to a passing servant, "shut that door and watch it.
If Mrs. Cowperwood comes out call me instantly."




Chapter XIX

"Hell Hath No Fury--"


Rita was not dead by any means--only seriously bruised, scratched, and
choked.  Her scalp was cut in one place.  Aileen had repeatedly beaten
her head on the floor, and this might have resulted seriously if
Cowperwood had not entered as quickly as he had.  Sohlberg for the
moment--for some little time, in fact--was under the impression that
Aileen had truly lost her mind, had suddenly gone crazy, and that those
shameless charges he had heard her making were the emanations of a
disordered brain.  Nevertheless the things she had said haunted him.
He was in a bad state himself--almost a subject for the doctor.  His
lips were bluish, his cheeks blanched.  Rita had been carried into an
adjoining bedroom and laid upon a bed; cold water, ointments, a bottle
of arnica had been procured; and when Cowperwood appeared she was
conscious and somewhat better. But she was still very weak and smarting
from her wounds, both mental and physical.  When the doctor arrived he
had been told that a lady, a guest, had fallen down-stairs; when
Cowperwood came in the physician was dressing her wounds.

As soon as he had gone Cowperwood said to the maid in attendance, "Go
get me some hot water." As the latter disappeared he bent over and
kissed Rita's bruised lips, putting his finger to his own in warning
sign.

"Rita," he asked, softly, "are you fully conscious?"

She nodded weakly.

"Listen, then," he said, bending over and speaking slowly.  "Listen
carefully.  Pay strict attention to what I'm saying.  You must
understand every word, and do as I tell you.  You are not seriously
injured.  You will be all right.  This will blow over.  I have sent for
another doctor to call on you at your studio.  Your husband has gone
for some fresh clothes.  He will come back in a little while.  My
carriage will take you home when you are a little stronger.  You
mustn't worry.  Everything will be all right, but you must deny
everything, do you hear? Everything! In so far as you know, Mrs.
Cowperwood is insane.  I will talk to your husband to-morrow.  I will
send you a trained nurse.  Meantime you must be careful of what you say
and how you say it.  Be perfectly calm. Don't worry.  You are perfectly
safe here, and you will be there. Mrs. Cowperwood will not trouble you
any more.  I will see to that. I am so sorry; but I love you.  I am
near you all the while.  You must not let this make any difference.
You will not see her any more."

Still he knew that it would make a difference.

Reassured as to Rita's condition, he went back to Aileen's room to
plead with her again--to soothe her if he could.  He found her up and
dressing, a new thought and determination in her mind. Since she had
thrown herself on the bed sobbing and groaning, her mood had gradually
changed; she began to reason that if she could not dominate him, could
not make him properly sorry, she had better leave.  It was evident, she
thought, that he did not love her any more, seeing that his anxiety to
protect Rita had been so great; his brutality in restraining her so
marked; and yet she did not want to believe that this was so.  He had
been so wonderful to her in times past.  She had not given up all hope
of winning a victory over him, and these other women--she loved him too
much--but only a separation would do it.  That might bring him to his
senses. She would get up, dress, and go down-town to a hotel.  He
should not see her any more unless he followed her.  She was satisfied
that she had broken up the liaison with Rita Sohlberg, anyway for the
present, and as for Antoinette Nowak, she would attend to her later.
Her brain and her heart ached.  She was so full of woe and rage,
alternating, that she could not cry any more now.  She stood before her
mirror trying with trembling fingers to do over her toilet and adjust a
street-costume.  Cowperwood was disturbed, nonplussed at this
unexpected sight.

"Aileen," he said, finally, coming up behind her, "can't you and I talk
this thing over peacefully now? You don't want to do anything that
you'll be sorry for.  I don't want you to.  I'm sorry.  You don't
really believe that I've ceased to love you, do you? I haven't, you
know.  This thing isn't as bad as it looks.  I should think you would
have a little more sympathy with me after all we have been through
together.  You haven't any real evidence of wrong-doing on which to
base any such outburst as this."

"Oh, haven't I?" she exclaimed, turning from the mirror, where,
sorrowfully and bitterly, she was smoothing her red-gold hair. Her
cheeks were flushed, her eyes red.  Just now she seemed as remarkable
to him as she had seemed that first day, years ago, when in a red cape
he had seen her, a girl of sixteen, running up the steps of her
father's house in Philadelphia.  She was so wonderful then.  It
mellowed his mood toward her.

"That's all you know about it, you liar!" she declared.  "It's little
you know what I know.  I haven't had detectives on your trail for weeks
for nothing.  You sneak! You'd like to smooth around now and find out
what I know.  Well, I know enough, let me tell you that.  You won't
fool me any longer with your Rita Sohlbergs and your Antoinette Nowaks
and your apartments and your houses of assignation.  I know what you
are, you brute! And after all your protestations of love for me! Ugh!"

She turned fiercely to her task while Cowperwood stared at her, touched
by her passion, moved by her force.  It was fine to see what a dramatic
animal she was--really worthy of him in many ways.

"Aileen," he said, softly, hoping still to ingratiate himself by
degrees, "please don't be so bitter toward me.  Haven't you any
understanding of how life works--any sympathy with it? I thought you
were more generous, more tender.  I'm not so bad."

He eyed her thoughtfully, tenderly, hoping to move her through her love
for him.

"Sympathy! Sympathy!" She turned on him blazing.  "A lot you know about
sympathy! I suppose I didn't give you any sympathy when you were in the
penitentiary in Philadelphia, did I? A lot of good it did me--didn't
it? Sympathy! Bah! To have you come out here to Chicago and take up
with a lot of prostitutes--cheap stenographers and wives of musicians!
You have given me a lot of sympathy, haven't you?--with that woman
lying in the next room to prove it!"

She smoothed her lithe waist and shook her shoulders preparatory to
putting on a hat and adjusting her wrap.  She proposed to go just as
she was, and send Fadette back for all her belongings.

"Aileen," he pleaded, determined to have his way, "I think you're very
foolish.  Really I do.  There is no occasion for all this--none in the
world.  Here you are talking at the top of your voice, scandalizing the
whole neighborhood, fighting, leaving the house. It's abominable.  I
don't want you to do it.  You love me yet, don't you? You know you do.
I know you don't mean all you say. You can't.  You really don't believe
that I have ceased to love you, do you, Aileen?"

"Love!" fired Aileen.  "A lot you know about love! A lot you have ever
loved anybody, you brute! I know how you love.  I thought you loved me
once.  Humph! I see how you loved me--just as you've loved fifty other
women, as you love that snippy little Rita Sohlberg in the next
room--the cat!--the dirty little beast!--the way you love Antoinette
Nowak--a cheap stenographer! Bah! You don't know what the word means."
And yet her voice trailed off into a kind of sob and her eyes filled
with tears, hot, angry, aching. Cowperwood saw them and came over,
hoping in some way to take advantage of them.  He was truly sorry
now--anxious to make her feel tender toward him once more.

"Aileen," he pleaded, "please don't be so bitter.  You shouldn't be so
hard on me.  I'm not so bad.  Aren't you going to be reasonable?" He
put out a smoothing hand, but she jumped away.

"Don't you touch me, you brute!" she exclaimed, angrily.  "Don't you
lay a hand on me.  I don't want you to come near me.  I'll not live
with you.  I'll not stay in the same house with you and your
mistresses.  Go and live with your dear, darling Rita on the North Side
if you want to.  I don't care.  I suppose you've been in the next room
comforting her--the beast! I wish I had killed her--Oh, God!" She tore
at her throat in a violent rage, trying to adjust a button.

Cowperwood was literally astonished.  Never had he seen such an
outburst as this.  He had not believed Aileen to be capable of it. He
could not help admiring her.  Nevertheless he resented the brutality of
her assault on Rita and on his own promiscuous tendency, and this
feeling vented itself in one last unfortunate remark.

"I wouldn't be so hard on mistresses if I were you, Aileen," he
ventured, pleadingly.  "I should have thought your own experience would
have--"

He paused, for he saw on the instant that he was making a grave
mistake.  This reference to her past as a mistress was crucial. On the
instant she straightened up, and her eyes filled with a great pain.
"So that's the way you talk to me, is it?" she asked. "I knew it! I
knew it! I knew it would come!"

She turned to a tall chest of drawers as high as her breasts, laden
with silverware, jewel-boxes, brushes and combs, and, putting her arms
down, she laid her head upon them and began to cry.  This was the last
straw.  He was throwing up her lawless girlhood love to her as an
offense.

"Oh!" she sobbed, and shook in a hopeless, wretched paroxysm.
Cowperwood came over quickly.  He was distressed, pained.  "I didn't
mean that, Aileen," he explained.  "I didn't mean it in that way--not
at all.  You rather drew that out of me; but I didn't mean it as a
reproach.  You were my mistress, but good Lord, I never loved you any
the less for that--rather more.  You know I did.  I want you to believe
that; it's true.  These other matters haven't been so important to
me--they really haven't--"

He looked at her helplessly as she moved away to avoid him; he was
distressed, nonplussed, immensely sorry.  As he walked to the center of
the room again she suddenly suffered a great revulsion of feeling, but
only in the direction of more wrath.  This was too much.

"So this is the way you talk to me," she exclaimed, "after all I have
done for you! You say that to me after I waited for you and cried over
you when you were in prison for nearly two years? Your mistress! That's
my reward, is it? Oh!"

Suddenly she observed her jewel-case, and, resenting all the gifts he
had given her in Philadelphia, in Paris, in Rome, here in Chicago, she
suddenly threw open the lid and, grabbing the contents by handfuls,
began to toss them toward him--to actually throw them in his face.  Out
they came, handfuls of gauds that he had given her in real affection: a
jade necklace and bracelet of pale apple-green set in spun gold, with
clasps of white ivory; a necklace of pearls, assorted as to size and
matched in color, that shone with a tinted, pearly flame in the evening
light; a handful of rings and brooches, diamonds, rubies, opals,
amethysts; a dog-collar of emeralds, and a diamond hair-ornament.  She
flung them at him excitedly, strewing the floor, striking him on the
neck, the face, the hands.  "Take that! and that! and that! There they
are! I don't want anything more of yours.  I don't want anything more
to do with you.  I don't want anything that belongs to you.  Thank God,
I have money enough of my own to live on! I hate you--I despise you--I
never want to see you any more.  Oh--" And, trying to think of
something more, but failing, she dashed swiftly down the hall and down
the stairs, while he stood for just one moment overwhelmed. Then he
hurried after.

"Aileen!" he called.  "Aileen, come back here! Don't go, Aileen!" But
she only hurried faster; she opened and closed the door, and actually
ran out in the dark, her eyes wet, her heart bursting. So this was the
end of that youthful dream that had begun so beautifully.  She was no
better than the others--just one of his mistresses.  To have her past
thrown up to her as a defense for the others! To be told that she was
no better than they! This was the last straw.  She choked and sobbed as
she walked, vowing never to return, never to see him any more.  But as
she did so Cowperwood came running after, determined for once, as
lawless as he was, that this should not be the end of it all.  She had
loved him, he reflected.  She had laid every gift of passion and
affection on the altar of her love.  It wasn't fair, really.  She must
be made to stay.  He caught up at last, reaching her under the dark of
the November trees.

"Aileen," he said, laying hold of her and putting his arms around her
waist.  "Aileen, dearest, this is plain madness.  It is insanity.
You're not in your right mind.  Don't go! Don't leave me! I love you!
Don't you know I do? Can't you really see that? Don't run away like
this, and don't cry.  I do love you, and you know it. I always shall.
Come back now.  Kiss me.  I'll do better.  Really I will.  Give me
another chance.  Wait and see.  Come now--won't you? That's my girl, my
Aileen.  Do come.  Please!"

She pulled on, but he held her, smoothing her arms, her neck, her face.

"Aileen!" he entreated.

She tugged so that he was finally compelled to work her about into his
arms; then, sobbing, she stood there agonized but happy once more, in a
way.

"But I don't want to," she protested.  "You don't love me any more. Let
me go."

But he kept hold of her, urging, and finally she said, her head upon
his shoulder as of old, "Don't make me come back to-night. I don't want
to.  I can't.  Let me go down-town.  I'll come back later, maybe."

"Then I'll go with you," he said, endearingly.  "It isn't right. There
are a lot of things I should be doing to stop this scandal, but I'll
go."

And together they sought a street-car.




Chapter XX

"Man and Superman"


It is a sad commentary on all save the most chemic unions--those dark
red flowers of romance that bloom most often only for a tragic
end--that they cannot endure the storms of disaster that are wont to
overtake them.  A woman like Rita Sohlberg, with a seemingly urgent
feeling for Cowperwood, was yet not so charmed by him but that this
shock to her pride was a marked sedative.  The crushing weight of such
an exposure as this, the Homeric laughter inherent, if not indicated in
the faulty planning, the failure to take into account beforehand all
the possibilities which might lead to such a disaster, was too much for
her to endure.  She was stung almost to desperation, maddened, at the
thought of the gay, idle way in which she had walked into Mrs.
Cowperwood's clutches and been made into a spectacle and a
laughing-stock by her.  What a brute she was--what a demon! Her own
physical weakness under the circumstances was no grief to her--rather a
salve to her superior disposition; but just the same she had been badly
beaten, her beauty turned into a ragamuffin show, and that was enough.
This evening, in the Lake Shore Sanitarium, where she had been taken,
she had but one thought--to get away when it should all be over and
rest her wearied brain.  She did not want to see Sohlberg any more; she
did not want to see Cowperwood any more.  Already Harold, suspicious
and determined to get at the truth, was beginning to question her as to
the strangeness of Aileen's attack--her probable reason.  When
Cowperwood was announced, Sohlberg's manner modified somewhat, for
whatever his suspicions were, he was not prepared to quarrel with this
singular man as yet.

"I am so sorry about this unfortunate business," said Cowperwood,
coming in with brisk assurance.  "I never knew my wife to become so
strangely unbalanced before.  It was most fortunate that I arrived when
I did.  I certainly owe you both every amend that can be made.  I
sincerely hope, Mrs. Sohlberg, that you are not seriously injured.  If
there is anything I can possibly do--anything either of you can
suggest"--he looked around solicitously at Sohlberg--"I shall only be
too glad to do it.  How would it do for you to take Mrs. Sohlberg away
for a little while for a rest? I shall so gladly pay all expenses in
connection with her recovery."

Sohlberg, brooding and heavy, remained unresponsive, smoldering; Rita,
cheered by Cowperwood's presence, but not wholly relieved by any means,
was questioning and disturbed.  She was afraid there was to be a
terrific scene between them.  She declared she was better and would be
all right--that she did not need to go away, but that she preferred to
be alone.

"It's very strange," said Sohlberg, sullenly, after a little while. "I
daunt onderstand it! I daunt onderstand it at all.  Why should she do
soach a thing? Why should she say soach things? Here we have been the
best of friends opp to now.  Then suddenly she attacks my wife and sais
all these strange things."

"But I have assured you, my dear Mr. Sohlberg, that my wife was not in
her right mind.  She has been subject to spells of this kind in the
past, though never to anything so violent as this to-night.  Already
she has recovered her normal state, and she does not remember.  But,
perhaps, if we are going to discuss things now we had better go out in
the hall.  Your wife will need all the rest she can get."

Once outside, Cowperwood continued with brilliant assurance: "Now, my
dear Sohlberg, what is it I can say? What is it you wish me to do? My
wife has made a lot of groundless charges, to say nothing of injuring
your wife most seriously and shamefully.  I cannot tell you, as I have
said, how sorry I am.  I assure you Mrs. Cowperwood is suffering from a
gross illusion.  There is absolutely nothing to do, nothing to say, so
far as I can see, but to let the whole matter drop.  Don't you agree
with me?"

Harold was twisting mentally in the coils of a trying situation. His
own position, as he knew, was not formidable.  Rita had reproached him
over and over for infidelity.  He began to swell and bluster at once.

"That is all very well for you to say, Mr. Cowperwood," he commented,
defiantly, "but how about me? Where do I come in? I daunt know what to
theenk yet.  It ees very strange.  Supposing what your wife sais was
true? Supposing my wife has been going around weeth some one? That ees
what I want to find out.  Eef she has! Eef eet is what I theenk it ees
I shall--I shall--I daunt know what I shall do.  I am a very violent
man."

Cowperwood almost smiled, concerned as he was over avoiding publicity;
he had no fear of Sohlberg physically.

"See here," he exclaimed, suddenly, looking sharply at the musician and
deciding to take the bull by the horns, "you are in quite as delicate a
situation as I am, if you only stop to think.  This affair, if it gets
out, will involve not only me and Mrs. Cowperwood, but yourself and
your wife, and if I am not mistaken, I think your own affairs are not
in any too good shape.  You cannot blacken your wife without blackening
yourself--that is inevitable.  None of us is exactly perfect.  For
myself I shall be compelled to prove insanity, and I can do this
easily.  If there is anything in your past which is not precisely what
it should be it could not long be kept a secret.  If you are willing to
let the matter drop I will make handsome provision for you both; if,
instead, you choose to make trouble, to force this matter into the
daylight, I shall leave no stone unturned to protect myself, to put as
good a face on this matter as I can."

"What!" exclaimed Sohlberg.  "You threaten me? You try to frighten me
after your wife charges that you have been running around weeth my
wife? You talk about my past! I like that.  Haw! We shall see about
dis! What is it you knaw about me?"

"Well, Mr. Sohlberg," rejoined Cowperwood, calmly, "I know, for
instance, that for a long while your wife has not loved you, that you
have been living on her as any pensioner might, that you have been
running around with as many as six or seven women in as many years or
less.  For months I have been acting as your wife's financial adviser,
and in that time, with the aid of detectives, I have learned of Anna
Stelmak, Jessie Laska, Bertha Reese, Georgia Du Coin--do I need to say
any more? As a matter of fact, I have a number of your letters in my
possession."

"Saw that ees it!" exclaimed Sohlberg, while Cowperwood eyed him
fixedly.  "You have been running around weeth my wife? Eet ees true,
then.  A fine situation! And you come here now weeth these threats,
these lies to booldoze me.  Haw! We weel see about them. We weel see
what I can do.  Wait teel I can consult a lawyer first. Then we weel
see!"

Cowperwood surveyed him coldly, angrily.  "What an ass!" he thought.

"See here," he said, urging Sohlberg, for privacy's sake, to come down
into the lower hall, and then into the street before the sanitarium,
where two gas-lamps were fluttering fitfully in the dark and wind, "I
see very plainly that you are bent on making trouble.  It is not enough
that I have assured you that there is nothing in this--that I have
given you my word.  You insist on going further.  Very well, then.
Supposing for argument's sake that Mrs. Cowperwood was not insane; that
every word she said was true; that I had been misconducting myself with
your wife? What of it? What will you do?"

He looked at Sohlberg smoothly, ironically, while the latter flared up.

"Haw!" he shouted, melodramatically.  "Why, I would keel you, that's
what I would do.  I would keel her.  I weel make a terrible scene.
Just let me knaw that this is so, and then see!"

"Exactly," replied Cowperwood, grimly.  "I thought so.  I believe you.
For that reason I have come prepared to serve you in just the way you
wish." He reached in his coat and took out two small revolvers, which
he had taken from a drawer at home for this very purpose.  They gleamed
in the dark.  "Do you see these?" he continued.  "I am going to save
you the trouble of further investigation, Mr. Sohlberg.  Every word
that Mrs. Cowperwood said to-night--and I am saying this with a full
understanding of what this means to you and to me--is true.  She is no
more insane than I am.  Your wife has been living in an apartment with
me on the North Side for months, though you cannot prove that.  She
does not love you, but me.  Now if you want to kill me here is a gun."
He extended his hand.  "Take your choice.  If I am to die you might as
well die with me."

He said it so coolly, so firmly, that Sohlberg, who was an innate
coward, and who had no more desire to die than any other healthy
animal, paled.  The look of cold steel was too much.  The hand that
pressed them on him was hard and firm.  He took hold of one, but his
fingers trembled.  The steely, metallic voice in his ear was
undermining the little courage that he had.  Cowperwood by now had
taken on the proportions of a dangerous man--the lineaments of a demon.
He turned away mortally terrified.

"My God!" he exclaimed, shaking like a leaf.  "You want to keel me, do
you? I weel not have anything to do with you! I weel not talk to you! I
weel see my lawyer.  I weel talk to my wife first."

"Oh, no you won't," replied Cowperwood, intercepting him as he turned
to go and seizing him firmly by the arm.  "I am not going to have you
do anything of the sort.  I am not going to kill you if you are not
going to kill me; but I am going to make you listen to reason for once.
Now here is what else I have to say, and then I am through.  I am not
unfriendly to you.  I want to do you a good turn, little as I care for
you.  To begin with, there is nothing in those charges my wife made,
not a thing.  I merely said what I did just now to see if you were in
earnest.  You do not love your wife any more.  She doesn't love you.
You are no good to her.  Now, I have a very friendly proposition to
make to you. If you want to leave Chicago and stay away three years or
more, I will see that you are paid five thousand dollars every year on
January first--on the nail--five thousand dollars! Do you hear? Or you
can stay here in Chicago and hold your tongue and I will make it three
thousand--monthly or yearly, just as you please. But--and this is what
I want you to remember--if you don't get out of town or hold your
tongue, if you make one single rash move against me, I will kill you,
and I will kill you on sight.  Now, I want you to go away from here and
behave yourself.  Leave your wife alone.  Come and see me in a day or
two--the money is ready for you any time."  He paused while Sohlberg
stared--his eyes round and glassy.  This was the most astonishing
experience of his life. This man was either devil or prince, or both.
"Good God!" he thought.  "He will do that, too.  He will really kill
me." Then the astounding alternative--five thousand dollars a
year--came to his mind.  Well, why not? His silence gave consent.

"If I were you I wouldn't go up-stairs again to-night," continued
Cowperwood, sternly.  "Don't disturb her.  She needs rest.  Go on
down-town and come and see me to-morrow--or if you want to go back I
will go with you.  I want to say to Mrs. Sohlberg what I have said to
you.  But remember what I've told you."

"Nau, thank you," replied Sohlberg, feebly.  "I will go down-town. Good
night." And he hurried away.

"I'm sorry," said Cowperwood to himself, defensively.  "It is too bad,
but it was the only way."




Chapter XXI

A Matter of Tunnels


The question of Sohlberg adjusted thus simply, if brutally, Cowperwood
turned his attention to Mrs. Sohlberg.  But there was nothing much to
be done.  He explained that he had now completely subdued Aileen and
Sohlberg, that the latter would make no more trouble, that he was going
to pension him, that Aileen would remain permanently quiescent.  He
expressed the greatest solicitude for her, but Rita was now sickened of
this tangle.  She had loved him, as she thought, but through the rage
of Aileen she saw him in a different light, and she wanted to get away.
His money, plentiful as it was, did not mean as much to her as it might
have meant to some women; it simply spelled luxuries, without which she
could exist if she must.  His charm for her had, perhaps, consisted
mostly in the atmosphere of flawless security, which seemed to surround
him--a glittering bubble of romance.  That, by one fell attack, was now
burst.  He was seen to be quite as other men, subject to the same
storms, the same danger of shipwreck.  Only he was a better sailor than
most.  She recuperated gradually; left for home; left for Europe;
details too long to be narrated. Sohlberg, after much meditating and
fuming, finally accepted the offer of Cowperwood and returned to
Denmark.  Aileen, after a few days of quarreling, in which he agreed to
dispense with Antoinette Nowak, returned home.

Cowperwood was in no wise pleased by this rough denouement.  Aileen had
not raised her own attractions in his estimation, and yet, strange to
relate, he was not unsympathetic with her.  He had no desire to desert
her as yet, though for some time he had been growing in the feeling
that Rita would have been a much better type of wife for him.  But what
he could not have, he could not have.  He turned his attention with
renewed force to his business; but it was with many a backward glance
at those radiant hours when, with Rita in his presence or enfolded by
his arms, he had seen life from a new and poetic angle.  She was so
charming, so naive--but what could he do?

For several years thereafter Cowperwood was busy following the Chicago
street-railway situation with increasing interest.  He knew it was
useless to brood over Rita Sohlberg--she would not return--and yet he
could not help it; but he could work hard, and that was something.  His
natural aptitude and affection for street-railway work had long since
been demonstrated, and it was now making him restless.  One might have
said of him quite truly that the tinkle of car-bells and the plop of
plodding horses' feet was in his blood.  He surveyed these extending
lines, with their jingling cars, as he went about the city, with an
almost hungry eye.  Chicago was growing fast, and these little
horse-cars on certain streets were crowded night and morning--fairly
bulging with people at the rush-hours.  If he could only secure an
octopus-grip on one or all of them; if he could combine and control
them all! What a fortune! That, if nothing else, might salve him for
some of his woes--a tremendous fortune--nothing less.  He forever
busied himself with various aspects of the scene quite as a poet might
have concerned himself with rocks and rills.  To own these
street-railways! To own these street-railways! So rang the song of his
mind.

Like the gas situation, the Chicago street-railway situation was
divided into three parts--three companies representing and
corresponding with the three different sides or divisions of the city.
The Chicago City Railway Company, occupying the South Side and
extending as far south as Thirty-ninth Street, had been organized in
1859, and represented in itself a mine of wealth.  Already it
controlled some seventy miles of track, and was annually being added to
on Indiana Avenue, on Wabash Avenue, on State Street, and on Archer
Avenue.  It owned over one hundred and fifty cars of the old-fashioned,
straw-strewn, no-stove type, and over one thousand horses; it employed
one hundred and seventy conductors, one hundred and sixty drivers, a
hundred stablemen, and blacksmiths, harness-makers, and repairers in
interesting numbers.  Its snow-plows were busy on the street in winter,
its sprinkling-cars in summer.  Cowperwood calculated its shares,
bonds, rolling-stock, and other physical properties as totaling in the
vicinity of over two million dollars. The trouble with this company was
that its outstanding stock was principally controlled by Norman
Schryhart, who was now decidedly inimical to Cowperwood, or anything he
might wish to do, and by Anson Merrill, who had never manifested any
signs of friendship. He did not see how he was to get control of this
property.  Its shares were selling around two hundred and fifty dollars.

The North Chicago City Railway was a corporation which had been
organized at the same time as the South Side company, but by a
different group of men.  Its management was old, indifferent, and
incompetent, its equipment about the same.  The Chicago West Division
Railway had originally been owned by the Chicago City or South Side
Railway, but was now a separate corporation.  It was not yet so
profitable as the other divisions of the city, but all sections of the
city were growing.  The horse-bell was heard everywhere tinkling gaily.

Standing on the outside of this scene, contemplating its promise,
Cowperwood much more than any one else connected financially with the
future of these railways at this time was impressed with their enormous
possibilities--their enormous future if Chicago continued to grow, and
was concerned with the various factors which might further or impede
their progress.

Not long before he had discovered that one of the chief handicaps to
street-railway development, on the North and West Sides, lay in the
congestion of traffic at the bridges spanning the Chicago River.
Between the street ends that abutted on it and connected the two sides
of the city ran this amazing stream--dirty, odorous, picturesque,
compact of a heavy, delightful, constantly crowding and moving boat
traffic, which kept the various bridges momentarily turning, and tied
up the street traffic on either side of the river until it seemed at
times as though the tangle of teams and boats would never any more be
straightened out.  It was lovely, human, natural, Dickensesque--a fit
subject for a Daumier, a Turner, or a Whistler.  The idlest of
bridge-tenders judged for himself when the boats and when the teams
should be made to wait, and how long, while in addition to the regular
pedestrians a group of idlers stood at gaze fascinated by the crowd of
masts, the crush of wagons, and the picturesque tugs in the foreground
below. Cowperwood, as he sat in his light runabout, annoyed by a delay,
or dashed swiftly forward to get over before a bridge turned, had long
since noted that the street-car service in the North and West Sides was
badly hampered.  The unbroken South Side, unthreaded by a river, had no
such problem, and was growing rapidly.

Because of this he was naturally interested to observe one day, in the
course of his peregrinations, that there existed in two places under
the Chicago River--in the first place at La Salle Street, running north
and south, and in the second at Washington Street, running east and
west--two now soggy and rat-infested tunnels which were never used by
anybody--dark, dank, dripping affairs only vaguely lighted with
oil-lamp, and oozing with water. Upon investigation he learned that
they had been built years before to accommodate this same tide of wagon
traffic, which now congested at the bridges, and which even then had
been rapidly rising.  Being forced to pay a toll in time to which a
slight toll in cash, exacted for the privilege of using a tunnel, had
seemed to the investors and public infinitely to be preferred, this
traffic had been offered this opportunity of avoiding the delay.
However, like many another handsome commercial scheme on paper or
bubbling in the human brain, the plan did not work exactly.  These
tunnels might have proved profitable if they had been properly built
with long, low-per-cent. grades, wide roadways, and a sufficiency of
light and air; but, as a matter of fact, they had not been judiciously
adapted to public convenience.  Norman Schryhart's father had been an
investor in these tunnels, and Anson Merrill.  When they had proved
unprofitable, after a long period of pointless manipulation--cost, one
million dollars--they had been sold to the city for exactly that sum
each, it being poetically deemed that a growing city could better
afford to lose so disturbing an amount than any of its humble,
ambitious, and respectable citizens.  That was a little affair by which
members of council had profited years before; but that also is another
story.

After discovering these tunnels Cowperwood walked through them several
times--for though they were now boarded up, there was still an
uninterrupted footpath--and wondered why they could not be utilized.
It seemed to him that if the street-car traffic were heavy enough,
profitable enough, and these tunnels, for a reasonable sum, could be
made into a lower grade, one of the problems which now hampered the
growth of the North and West Sides would be obviated.  But how? He did
not own the tunnels.  He did not own the street-railways.  The cost of
leasing and rebuilding the tunnels would be enormous.  Helpers and
horses and extra drivers on any grade, however slight, would have to be
used, and that meant an extra expense.  With street-car horses as the
only means of traction, and with the long, expensive grades, he was not
so sure that this venture would be a profitable one.

However, in the fall of 1880, or a little earlier (when he was still
very much entangled with the preliminary sex affairs that led
eventually to Rita Sohlberg), he became aware of a new system of
traction relating to street-cars which, together with the arrival of
the arc-light, the telephone, and other inventions, seemed destined to
change the character of city life entirely.

Recently in San Francisco, where the presence of hills made the
movement of crowded street-railway cars exceedingly difficult, a new
type of traction had been introduced--that of the cable, which was
nothing more than a traveling rope of wire running over guttered wheels
in a conduit, and driven by immense engines, conveniently located in
adjacent stations or "power-houses." The cars carried a readily
manipulated "grip-lever," or steel hand, which reached down through a
slot into a conduit and "gripped" the moving cable. This invention
solved the problem of hauling heavily laden street-cars up and down
steep grades.  About the same time he also heard, in a roundabout way,
that the Chicago City Railway, of which Schryhart and Merrill were the
principal owners, was about to introduce this mode of traction on its
lines--to cable State Street, and attach the cars of other lines
running farther out into unprofitable districts as "trailers." At once
the solution of the North and West Side problems flashed upon
him--cables.

Outside of the bridge crush and the tunnels above mentioned, there was
one other special condition which had been for some time past
attracting Cowperwood's attention.  This was the waning energy of the
North Chicago City Railway Company--the lack of foresight on the part
of its directors which prevented them from perceiving the proper
solution of their difficulties.  The road was in a rather
unsatisfactory state financially--really open to a coup of some sort.
In the beginning it had been considered unprofitable, so thinly
populated was the territory they served, and so short the distance from
the business heart.  Later, however, as the territory filled up, they
did better; only then the long waits at the bridges occurred.  The
management, feeling that the lines were likely to be poorly patronized,
had put down poor, little, light-weight rails, and run slimpsy cars
which were as cold as ice in winter and as hot as stove-ovens in
summer.  No attempt had been made to extend the down-town terminus of
the several lines into the business center--they stopped just over the
river which bordered it at the north.  (On the South Side Mr. Schryhart
had done much better for his patrons.  He had already installed a loop
for his cable about Merrill's store.) As on the West Side, straw was
strewn in the bottom of all the cars in winter to keep the feet of the
passengers warm, and but few open cars were used in summer.  The
directors were averse to introducing them because of the expense.  So
they had gone on and on, adding lines only where they were sure they
would make a good profit from the start, putting down the same style of
cheap rail that had been used in the beginning, and employing the same
antique type of car which rattled and trembled as it ran, until the
patrons were enraged to the point of anarchy. Only recently, because of
various suits and complaints inaugurated, the company had been greatly
annoyed, but they scarcely knew what to do, how to meet the onslaught.
Though there was here and there a man of sense--such as Terrence
Mulgannon, the general superintendent; Edwin Kaffrath, a director;
William Johnson, the constructing engineer of the company--yet such
other men as Onias C. Skinner, the president, and Walter Parker, the
vice-president, were reactionaries of an elderly character,
conservative, meditative, stingy, and, worst of all, fearful or without
courage for great adventure.  It is a sad commentary that age almost
invariably takes away the incentive to new achievement and makes "Let
well enough alone" the most appealing motto.

Mindful of this, Cowperwood, with a now splendid scheme in his mind,
one day invited John J. McKenty over to his house to dinner on a social
pretext.  When the latter, accompanied by his wife, had arrived, and
Aileen had smiled on them both sweetly, and was doing her best to be
nice to Mrs. McKenty, Cowperwood remarked:

"McKenty, do you know anything about these two tunnels that the city
owns under the river at Washington and La Salle streets?"

"I know that the city took them over when it didn't need them, and that
they're no good for anything.  That was before my time, though,"
explained McKenty, cautiously.  "I think the city paid a million for
them.  Why?"

"Oh, nothing much," replied Cowperwood, evading the matter for the
present.  "I was wondering whether they were in such condition that
they couldn't be used for anything.  I see occasional references in the
papers to their uselessness."

"They're in pretty bad shape, I'm afraid," replied McKenty.  "I haven't
been through either of them in years and years.  The idea was
originally to let the wagons go through them and break up the crowding
at the bridges.  But it didn't work.  They made the grade too steep and
the tolls too high, and so the drivers preferred to wait for the
bridges.  They were pretty hard on horses.  I can testify to that
myself.  I've driven a wagon-load through them more than once.  The
city should never have taken them over at all by rights.  It was a
deal.  I don't know who all was in it.  Carmody was mayor then, and
Aldrich was in charge of public works."

He relapsed into silence, and Cowperwood allowed the matter of the
tunnels to rest until after dinner when they had adjourned to the
library.  There he placed a friendly hand on McKenty's arm, an act of
familiarity which the politician rather liked.

"You felt pretty well satisfied with the way that gas business came out
last year, didn't you?" he inquired.

"I did," replied McKenty, warmly.  "Never more so.  I told you that at
the time." The Irishman liked Cowperwood, and was grateful for the
swift manner in which he had been made richer by the sum of several
hundred thousand dollars.

"Well, now, McKenty," continued Cowperwood, abruptly, and with a
seeming lack of connection, "has it ever occurred to you that things
are shaping up for a big change in the street-railway situation here? I
can see it coming.  There's going to be a new motor power introduced on
the South Side within a year or two. You've heard of it?"

"I read something of it," replied McKenty, surprised and a little
questioning.  He took a cigar and prepared to listen.  Cowperwood,
never smoking, drew up a chair.

"Well, I'll tell you what that means," he explained.  "It means that
eventually every mile of street-railway track in this city--to say
nothing of all the additional miles that will be built before this
change takes place--will have to be done over on an entirely new basis.
I mean this cable-conduit system.  These old companies that are
hobbling along now with an old equipment will have to make the change.
They'll have to spend millions and millions before they can bring their
equipment up to date.  If you've paid any attention to the matter you
must have seen what a condition these North and West Side lines are in."

"It's pretty bad; I know that," commented McKenty.

"Just so," replied Cowperwood, emphatically.  "Well, now, if I know
anything about these old managements from studying them, they're going
to have a hard time bringing themselves to do this. Two to three
million are two to three million, and it isn't going to be an easy
matter for them to raise the money--not as easy, perhaps, as it would
be for some of the rest of us, supposing we wanted to go into the
street-railway business."

"Yes, supposing," replied McKenty, jovially.  "But how are you to get
in it? There's no stock for sale that I know of."

"Just the same," said Cowperwood, "we can if we want to, and I'll show
you how.  But at present there's just one thing in particular I'd like
you to do for me.  I want to know if there is any way that we can get
control of either of those two old tunnels that I was talking to you
about a little while ago.  I'd like both if I might.  Do you suppose
that is possible?"

"Why, yes," replied McKenty, wondering; "but what have they got to do
with it? They're not worth anything.  Some of the boys were talking
about filling them in some time ago--blowing them up.  The police think
crooks hide in them."

"Just the same, don't let any one touch them--don't lease them or
anything," replied Cowperwood, forcefully.  "I'll tell you frankly what
I want to do.  I want to get control, just as soon as possible, of all
the street-railway lines I can on the North and West Sides--new or old
franchises.  Then you'll see where the tunnels come in."

He paused to see whether McKenty caught the point of all he meant, but
the latter failed.

"You don't want much, do you?" he said, cheerfully.  "But I don't see
how you can use the tunnels.  However, that's no reason why I shouldn't
take care of them for you, if you think that's important."

"It's this way," said Cowperwood, thoughtfully.  "I'll make you a
preferred partner in all the ventures that I control if you do as I
suggest.  The street-railways, as they stand now, will have to be taken
up lock, stock, and barrel, and thrown into the scrap heap within eight
or nine years at the latest.  You see what the South Side company is
beginning to do now.  When it comes to the West and North Side
companies they won't find it so easy.  They aren't earning as much as
the South Side, and besides they have those bridges to cross.  That
means a severe inconvenience to a cable line.  In the first place, the
bridges will have to be rebuilt to stand the extra weight and strain.
Now the question arises at once--at whose expense? The city's?"

"That depends on who's asking for it," replied Mr. McKenty, amiably.

"Quite so," assented Cowperwood.  "In the next place, this river
traffic is becoming impossible from the point of view of a decent
street-car service.  There are waits now of from eight to fifteen
minutes while these tows and vessels get through.  Chicago has five
hundred thousand population to-day.  How much will it have in 1890? In
1900? How will it be when it has eight hundred thousand or a million?"

"You're quite right," interpolated McKenty.  "It will be pretty bad."

"Exactly.  But what is worse, the cable lines will carry trailers, or
single cars, from feeder lines.  There won't be single cars waiting at
these draws--there will be trains, crowded trains.  It won't be
advisable to delay a cable-train from eight to fifteen minutes while
boats are making their way through a draw.  The public won't stand for
that very long, will it, do you think?"

"Not without making a row, probably," replied McKenty.

"Well, that means what, then?" asked Cowperwood.  "Is the traffic going
to get any lighter? Is the river going to dry up?"

Mr. McKenty stared.  Suddenly his face lighted.  "Oh, I see," he said,
shrewdly.  "It's those tunnels you're thinking about.  Are they in any
shape to be used?"

"They can be made over cheaper than new ones can be built."

"True for you," replied McKenty, "and if they're in any sort of repair
they'd be just what you'd want." He was emphatic, almost triumphant.
"They belong to the city.  They cost pretty near a million apiece,
those things."

"I know it," said Cowperwood.  "Now, do you see what I'm driving at?"

"Do I see!" smiled McKenty.  "That's a real idea you have, Cowperwood.
I take off my hat to you.  Say what you want."

"Well, then, in the first place," replied Cowperwood, genially, "it is
agreed that the city won't part with those two tunnels under any
circumstances until we can see what can be done about this other
matter?"

"It will not."

"In the next place, it is understood, is it, that you won't make it any
easier than you can possibly help for the North and West Side companies
to get ordinances extending their lines, or anything else, from now on?
I shall want to introduce some franchises for feeders and outlying
lines myself."

"Bring in your ordinances," replied McKenty, "and I'll do whatever you
say.  I've worked with you before.  I know that you keep your word."

"Thanks," said Cowperwood, warmly.  "I know the value of keeping it.
In the mean while I'll go ahead and see what can be done about the
other matter.  I don't know just how many men I will need to let in on
this, or just what form the organization will take.  But you may depend
upon it that your interests will be properly taken care of, and that
whatever is done will be done with your full knowledge and consent."

"All very good," answered McKenty, thinking of the new field of
activity before them.  A combination between himself and Cowperwood in
a matter like this must prove very beneficial to both.  And he was
satisfied, because of their previous relations, that his own interests
would not be neglected.

"Shall we go and see if we can find the ladies?" asked Cowperwood,
jauntily, laying hold of the politician's arm.

"To be sure," assented McKenty, gaily.  "It's a fine house you have
here--beautiful.  And your wife is as pretty a woman as I ever saw, if
you'll pardon the familiarity."

"I have always thought she was rather attractive myself," replied
Cowperwood, innocently.




Chapter XXII

Street-railways at Last


Among the directors of the North Chicago City company there was one
man, Edwin L. Kaffrath, who was young and of a forward-looking
temperament.  His father, a former heavy stockholder of this company,
had recently died and left all his holdings and practically his
directorship to his only son.  Young Kaffrath was by no means a
practical street-railway man, though he fancied he could do very well
at it if given a chance.  He was the holder of nearly eight hundred of
the five thousand shares of stock; but the rest of it was so divided
that he could only exercise a minor influence. Nevertheless, from the
day of his entrance into the company--which was months before
Cowperwood began seriously to think over the situation--he had been
strong for improvements--extensions, more franchises, better cars,
better horses, stoves in the cars in winter, and the like, all of which
suggestions sounded to his fellow-directors like mere manifestations of
the reckless impetuosity of youth, and were almost uniformly opposed.

"What's the matter with them cars?" asked Albert Thorsen, one of the
elder directors, at one of the meetings at which Kaffrath was present
and offering his usual protest.  "I don't see anything the matter with
'em.  I ride in em."

Thorsen was a heavy, dusty, tobacco-bestrewn individual of sixty-six,
who was a little dull but genial.  He was in the paint business, and
always wore a very light steel-gray suit much crinkled in the seat and
arms.

"Perhaps that's what's the matter with them, Albert," chirped up Solon
Kaempfaert, one of his cronies on the board.

The sally drew a laugh.

"Oh, I don't know.  I see the rest of you on board often enough."

"Why, I tell you what's the matter with them," replied Kaffrath.
"They're dirty, and they're flimsy, and the windows rattle so you can't
hear yourself think.  The track is no good, and the filthy straw we
keep in them in winter is enough to make a person sick. We don't keep
the track in good repair.  I don't wonder people complain.  I'd
complain myself."

"Oh, I don't think things are as bad as all that," put in Onias C.
Skinner, the president, who had a face which with its very short
side-whiskers was as bland as a Chinese god.  He was sixty-eight years
of age.  "They're not the best cars in the world, but they're good
cars.  They need painting and varnishing pretty badly, some of them,
but outside of that there's many a good year's wear in them yet.  I'd
be very glad if we could put in new rolling-stock, but the item of
expense will be considerable.  It's these extensions that we have to
keep building and the long hauls for five cents which eat up the
profits." The so-called "long hauls" were only two or three miles at
the outside, but they seemed long to Mr. Skinner.

"Well, look at the South Side," persisted Kaffrath.  "I don't know what
you people are thinking of.  Here's a cable system introduced in
Philadelphia.  There's another in San Francisco.  Some one has invented
a car, as I understand it, that's going to run by electricity, and here
we are running cars--barns, I call them--with straw in them.  Good
Lord, I should think it was about time that some of us took a tumble to
ourselves!"

"Oh, I don't know," commented Mr. Skinner.  "It seems to me we have
done pretty well by the North Side.  We have done a good deal."

Directors Solon Kaempfaert, Albert Thorsen, Isaac White, Anthony Ewer,
Arnold C. Benjamin, and Otto Matjes, being solemn gentlemen all, merely
sat and stared.

The vigorous Kaffrath was not to be so easily repressed, however. He
repeated his complaints on other occasions.  The fact that there was
also considerable complaint in the newspapers from time to time in
regard to this same North Side service pleased him in a way.  Perhaps
this would be the proverbial fire under the terrapin which would cause
it to move along.

By this time, owing to Cowperwood's understanding with McKenty, all
possibility of the North Side company's securing additional franchises
for unoccupied streets, or even the use of the La Salle Street tunnel,
had ended.  Kaffrath did not know this.  Neither did the directors or
officers of the company, but it was true. In addition, McKenty, through
the aldermen, who were at his beck and call on the North Side, was
beginning to stir up additional murmurs and complaints in order to
discredit the present management. There was a great to-do in council
over a motion on the part of somebody to compel the North Side company
to throw out its old cars and lay better and heavier tracks.
Curiously, this did not apply so much to the West and South Sides,
which were in the same condition.  The rank and file of the city,
ignorant of the tricks which were constantly being employed in politics
to effect one end or another, were greatly cheered by this so-called
"public uprising." They little knew the pawns they were in the game, or
how little sincerity constituted the primal impulse.

Quite by accident, apparently, one day Addison, thinking of the
different men in the North Side company who might be of service to
Cowperwood, and having finally picked young Kaffrath as the ideal
agent, introduced himself to the latter at the Union League.

"That's a pretty heavy load of expense that's staring you North and
West Side street-railway people in the face," he took occasion to
observe.

"How's that?" asked Kaffrath, curiously, anxious to hear anything which
concerned the development of the business.

"Well, unless I'm greatly mistaken, you, all of you, are going to be
put to the expense of doing over your lines completely in a very little
while--so I hear--introducing this new motor or cable system that they
are getting on the South Side." Addison wanted to convey the impression
that the city council or public sentiment or something was going to
force the North Chicago company to indulge in this great and expensive
series of improvements.

Kaffrath pricked up his ears.  What was the city Council going to do?
He wanted to know all about it.  They discussed the whole
situation--the nature of the cable-conduits, the cost of the
power-houses, the need of new rails, and the necessity of heavier
bridges, or some other means of getting over or under the river.
Addison took very good care to point out that the Chicago City or South
Side Railway was in a much more fortunate position than either of the
other two by reason of its freedom from the river-crossing problem.
Then he again commiserated the North Side company on its rather
difficult position.  "Your company will have a very great deal to do, I
fancy," he reiterated.

Kaffrath was duly impressed and appropriately depressed, for his eight
hundred shares would be depressed in value by the necessity of heavy
expenditures for tunnels and other improvements. Nevertheless, there
was some consolation in the thought that such betterment, as Addison
now described, would in the long run make the lines more profitable.
But in the mean time there might be rough sailing.  The old directors
ought to act soon now, he thought. With the South Side company being
done over, they would have to follow suit.  But would they? How could
he get them to see that, even though it were necessary to mortgage the
lines for years to come, it would pay in the long run? He was sick of
old, conservative, cautious methods.

After the lapse of a few weeks Addison, still acting for Cowperwood,
had a second and private conference with Kaffrath.  He said, after
exacting a promise of secrecy for the present, that since their
previous conversation he had become aware of new developments. In the
interval he had been visited by several men of long connection with
street-railways in other localities.  They had been visiting various
cities, looking for a convenient outlet for their capital, and had
finally picked on Chicago.  They had looked over the various lines
here, and had decided that the North Chicago City Railway was as good a
field as any.  He then elaborated with exceeding care the idea which
Cowperwood had outlined to him.  Kaffrath, dubious at first, was
finally won over.  He had too long chafed under the dusty, poky
attitude of the old regime.  He did not know who these new men were,
but this scheme was in line with his own ideas.  It would require, as
Addison pointed out, the expenditure of several millions of dollars,
and he did not see how the money could be raised without outside
assistance, unless the lines were heavily mortgaged.  If these new men
were willing to pay a high rate for fifty-one per cent. of this stock
for ninety-nine years and would guarantee a satisfactory rate of
interest on all the stock as it stood, besides inaugurating a forward
policy, why not let them? It would be just as good as mortgaging the
soul out of the old property, and the management was of no value,
anyhow.  Kaffrath could not see how fortunes were to be made for these
new investors out of subsidiary construction and equipment companies,
in which Cowperwood would be interested, how by issuing watered stock
on the old and new lines the latter need scarcely lay down a dollar
once he had the necessary opening capital (the "talking capital," as he
was fond of calling it) guaranteed.  Cowperwood and Addison had by now
agreed, if this went through, to organize the Chicago Trust Company
with millions back of it to manipulate all their deals.  Kaffrath only
saw a better return on his stock, possibly a chance to get in on the
"ground plan," as a new phrase expressed it, of the new company.

"That's what I've been telling these fellows for the past three years,"
he finally exclaimed to Addison, flattered by the latter's personal
attention and awed by his great influence; "but they never have been
willing to listen to me.  The way this North Side system has been
managed is a crime.  Why, a child could do better than we have done.
They've saved on track and rolling-stock, and lost on population.
People are what we want up there, and there is only one way that I know
of to get them, and that is to give them decent car service.  I'll tell
you frankly we've never done it."

Not long after this Cowperwood had a short talk with Kaffrath, in which
he promised the latter not only six hundred dollars a share for all the
stock he possessed or would part with on lease, but a bonus of new
company stock for his influence.  Kaffrath returned to the North Side
jubilant for himself and for his company.  He decided after due thought
that a roundabout way would best serve Cowperwood's ends, a line of
subtle suggestion from some seemingly disinterested party.
Consequently he caused William Johnson, the directing engineer, to
approach Albert Thorsen, one of the most vulnerable of the directors,
declaring he had heard privately that Isaac White, Arnold C. Benjamin,
and Otto Matjes, three other directors and the heaviest owners, had
been offered a very remarkable price for their stock, and that they
were going to sell, leaving the others out in the cold.

Thorsen was beside himself with grief.  "When did you hear that?" he
asked.

Johnson told him, but for the time being kept the source of his
information secret.  Thorsen at once hurried to his friend, Solon
Kaempfaert, who in turn went to Kaffrath for information.

"I have heard something to that effect," was Kaffrath's only comment,
"but really I do not know."

Thereupon Thorsen and Kaempfaert imagined that Kaffrath was in the
conspiracy to sell out and leave them with no particularly valuable
pickings.  It was very sad.

Meanwhile, Cowperwood, on the advice of Kaffrath, was approaching Isaac
White, Arnold C. Benjamin, and Otto Matjes direct--talking with them as
if they were the only three he desired to deal with. A little later
Thorsen and Kaempfaert were visited in the same spirit, and agreed in
secret fear to sell out, or rather lease at the very advantageous terms
Cowperwood offered, providing he could get the others to do likewise.
This gave the latter a strong backing of sentiment on the board.
Finally Isaac White stated at one of the meetings that he had been
approached with an interesting proposition, which he then and there
outlined.  He was not sure what to think, he said, but the board might
like to consider it. At once Thorsen and Kaempfaert were convinced that
all Johnson had suggested was true.  It was decided to have Cowperwood
come and explain to the full board just what his plan was, and this he
did in a long, bland, smiling talk.  It was made plain that the road
would have to be put in shape in the near future, and that this
proposed plan relieved all of them of work, worry, and care. Moreover,
they were guaranteed more interest at once than they had expected to
earn in the next twenty or thirty years.  Thereupon it was agreed that
Cowperwood and his plan should be given a trial. Seeing that if he did
not succeed in paying the proposed interest promptly the property once
more became theirs, so they thought, and that he assumed all
obligations--taxes, water rents, old claims, a few pensions--it
appeared in the light of a rather idyllic scheme.

"Well, boys, I think this is a pretty good day's work myself," observed
Anthony Ewer, laying a friendly hand on the shoulder of Mr. Albert
Thorsen.  "I'm sure we can all unite in wishing Mr. Cowperwood luck
with his adventure." Mr. Ewer's seven hundred and fifteen shares, worth
seventy-one thousand five hundred dollars, having risen to a valuation
of four hundred and twenty-nine thousand dollars, he was naturally
jubilant.

"You're right," replied Thorsen, who was parting with four hundred and
eighty shares out of a total of seven hundred and ninety, and seeing
them all bounce in value from two hundred to six hundred dollars.
"He's an interesting man.  I hope he succeeds."

Cowperwood, waking the next morning in Aileen's room--he had been out
late the night before with McKenty, Addison, Videra, and others--turned
and, patting her neck where she was dozing, said: "Well, pet, yesterday
afternoon I wound up that North Chicago Street Railway deal.  I'm
president of the new North Side company just as soon as I get my board
of directors organized.  We're going to be of some real consequence in
this village, after all, in a year or two."

He was hoping that this fact, among other things, would end in
mollifying Aileen toward him.  She had been so gloomy, remote, weary
these many days--ever since the terrific assault on Rita.

"Yes?" she replied, with a half-hearted smile, rubbing her waking eyes.
She was clad in a foamy nightgown of white and pink.  "That's nice,
isn't it?"

Cowperwood brought himself up on one elbow and looked at her, smoothing
her round, bare arms, which he always admired.  The luminous richness
of her hair had never lost its charm completely.

"That means that I can do the same thing with the Chicago West Division
Company in a year or so," he went on.  "But there's going to be a lot
of talk about this, I'm afraid, and I don't want that just now.  It
will work out all right.  I can see Schryhart and Merrill and some of
these other people taking notice pretty soon. They've missed out on two
of the biggest things Chicago ever had--gas and railways."

"Oh yes, Frank, I'm glad for you," commented Aileen, rather drearily,
who, in spite of her sorrow over his defection, was still glad that he
was going on and forward.  "You'll always do all right."

"I wish you wouldn't feel so badly, Aileen," he said, with a kind of
affectional protest.  "Aren't you going to try and be happy with me?
This is as much for you as for me.  You will be able to pay up old
scores even better than I will."

He smiled winningly.

"Yes," she replied, reproachfully but tenderly at that, a little
sorrowfully, "a lot of good money does me.  It was your love I wanted."

"But you have that," he insisted.  "I've told you that over and over.
I never ceased to care for you really.  You know I didn't."

"Yes, I know," she replied, even as he gathered her close in his arms.
"I know how you care." But that did not prevent her from responding to
him warmly, for back of all her fuming protest was heartache, the wish
to have his love intact, to restore that pristine affection which she
had once assumed would endure forever.




Chapter XXIII

The Power of the Press


The morning papers, in spite of the efforts of Cowperwood and his
friends to keep this transfer secret, shortly thereafter were full of
rumors of a change in "North Chicago." Frank Algernon Cowperwood,
hitherto unmentioned in connection with Chicago street-railways, was
pointed to as the probable successor to Onias C. Skinner, and Edwin L.
Kaffrath, one of the old directors, as future vice-president. The men
back of the deal were referred to as "in all likelihood Eastern
capitalists." Cowperwood, as he sat in Aileen's room examining the
various morning papers, saw that before the day was over he would be
sought out for an expression of opinion and further details.  He
proposed to ask the newspaper men to wait a few days until he could
talk to the publishers of the papers themselves--win their
confidence--and then announce a general policy; it would be something
that would please the city, and the residents of the North Side in
particular.  At the same time he did not care to promise anything which
he could not easily and profitably perform. He wanted fame and
reputation, but he wanted money even more; he intended to get both.

To one who had been working thus long in the minor realms of finance,
as Cowperwood considered that he had so far been doing, this sudden
upward step into the more conspicuous regions of high finance and
control was an all-inspiring thing.  So long had he been stirring about
in a lesser region, paving the way by hours and hours of private
thought and conference and scheming, that now when he actually had
achieved his end he could scarcely believe for the time being that it
was true.  Chicago was such a splendid city.  It was growing so fast.
Its opportunities were so wonderful. These men who had thus foolishly
parted with an indefinite lease of their holdings had not really
considered what they were doing. This matter of Chicago
street-railways, once he had them well in hand, could be made to yield
such splendid profits! He could incorporate and overcapitalize.  Many
subsidiary lines, which McKenty would secure for him for a song, would
be worth millions in the future, and they should be his entirely; he
would not be indebted to the directors of the old North Chicago company
for any interest on those.  By degrees, year by year, as the city grew,
the lines which were still controlled by this old company, but were
practically his, would become a mere item, a central core, in the so
very much larger system of new lines which he would build up about it.
Then the West Side, and even the South Side sections--but why dream? He
might readily become the sole master of street-railway traffic in
Chicago! He might readily become the most princely financial figure in
the city--and one of the few great financial magnates of the nation.

In any public enterprise of any kind, as he knew, where the suffrages
of the people or the privileges in their possessions are desired, the
newspapers must always be considered.  As Cowperwood even now was
casting hungry eyes in the direction of the two tunnels--one to be held
in view of an eventual assumption of the Chicago West Division Company,
the other to be given to the North Chicago Street Railway, which he had
now organized, it was necessary to make friends with the various
publishers.  How to go about it?

Recently, because of the influx of a heavy native and foreign-born
population (thousands and thousands of men of all sorts and conditions
looking for the work which the growth of the city seemed to promise),
and because of the dissemination of stirring ideas through radical
individuals of foreign groups concerning anarchism, socialism,
communism, and the like, the civic idea in Chicago had become most
acute.  This very May, in which Cowperwood had been going about
attempting to adjust matters in his favor, there had been a tremendous
national flare-up, when in a great public place on the West Side known
as the Haymarket, at one of a number of labor meetings, dubbed
anarchistic because of the principles of some of the speakers, a bomb
had been hurled by some excited fanatic, which had exploded and maimed
or killed a number of policemen, injuring slightly several others.
This had brought to the fore, once and for all, as by a flash of
lightning, the whole problem of mass against class, and had given it
such an airing as in view of the cheerful, optimistic, almost
inconsequential American mind had not previously been possible.  It
changed, quite as an eruption might, the whole face of the commercial
landscape.  Man thought thereafter somewhat more accurately of national
and civic things.  What was anarchism? What socialism? What rights had
the rank and file, anyhow, in economic and governmental development?
Such were interesting questions, and following the bomb--which acted as
a great stone cast in the water--these ripple-rings of thought were
still widening and emanating until they took in such supposedly remote
and impregnable quarters as editorial offices, banks and financial
institutions generally, and the haunts of political dignitaries and
their jobs.

In the face of this, however, Cowperwood was not disturbed.  He did not
believe in either the strength of the masses or their ultimate rights,
though he sympathized with the condition of individuals, and did
believe that men like himself were sent into the world to better
perfect its mechanism and habitable order. Often now, in these
preliminary days, he looked at the large companies of men with their
horses gathered in and about the several carbarns of the company, and
wondered at their state.  So many of them were so dull.  They were
rather like animals, patient, inartistic, hopeless.  He thought of
their shabby homes, their long hours, their poor pay, and then
concluded that if anything at all could be done for them it would be
pay them decent living wages, which he proposed to do--nothing more.
They could not be expected to understand his dreams or his visions, or
to share in the magnificence and social dominance which he craved.  He
finally decided that it would be as well for him to personally visit
the various newspaper publishers and talk the situation over with them.
Addison, when consulted as to this project, was somewhat dubious. He
had small faith in the newspapers.

He had seen them play petty politics, follow up enmities and personal
grudges, and even sell out, in certain cases, for pathetically small
rewards.

"I tell you how it is, Frank," remarked Addison, on one occasion. "You
will have to do all this business on cotton heels, practically. You
know that old gas crowd are still down on you, in spite of the fact
that you are one of their largest stockholders.  Schryhart isn't at all
friendly, and he practically owns the Chronicle. Ricketts will just
about say what he wants him to say.  Hyssop, of the Mail and the
Transcript, is an independent man, but he's a Presbyterian and a cold,
self-righteous moralist.  Braxton's paper, the Globe, practically
belongs to Merrill, but Braxton's a nice fellow, at that.  Old General
MacDonald, of the Inquirer, is old General MacDonald.  It's all
according to how he feels when he gets up in the morning.  If he should
chance to like your looks he might support you forever and forever
until you crossed his conscience in some way.  He's a fine old walrus.
I like him. Neither Schryhart nor Merrill nor any one else can get
anything out of him unless he wants to give it.  He may not live so
many years, however, and I don't trust that son of his.  Haguenin, of
the Press, is all right and friendly to you, as I understand. Other
things being equal, I think he'd naturally support you in anything he
thought was fair and reasonable.  Well, there you have them.  Get them
all on your side if you can.  Don't ask for the LaSalle Street tunnel
right away.  Let it come as an afterthought--a great public need.  The
main thing will be to avoid having the other companies stirring up a
real fight against you.  Depend on it, Schryhart will be thinking
pretty hard about this whole business from now on.  As for
Merrill--well, if you can show him where he can get something out of it
for his store, I guess he'll be for you."

It is one of the splendid yet sinister fascinations of life that there
is no tracing to their ultimate sources all the winds of influence that
play upon a given barque--all the breaths of chance that fill or desert
our bellied or our sagging sails.  We plan and plan, but who by taking
thought can add a cubit to his stature? Who can overcome or even assist
the Providence that shapes our ends, rough hew them as we may.
Cowperwood was now entering upon a great public career, and the various
editors and public personalities of the city were watching him with
interest.  Augustus M. Haguenin, a free agent with his organ, the
Press, and yet not free, either, because he was harnessed to the
necessity of making his paper pay, was most interested.  Lacking the
commanding magnetism of a man like MacDonald, he was nevertheless an
honest man, well-intentioned, thoughtful, careful.  Haguenin, ever
since the outcome of Cowperwood's gas transaction, had been intensely
interested in the latter's career.  It seemed to him that Cowperwood
was probably destined to become a significant figure.  Raw, glittering
force, however, compounded of the cruel Machiavellianism of nature, if
it be but Machiavellian, seems to exercise a profound attraction for
the conventionally rooted.  Your cautious citizen of average means,
looking out through the eye of his dull world of seeming fact, is often
the first to forgive or condone the grim butcheries of theory by which
the strong rise.  Haguenin, observing Cowperwood, conceived of him as a
man perhaps as much sinned against as sinning, a man who would be
faithful to friends, one who could be relied upon in hours of great
stress.  As it happened, the Haguenins were neighbors of the
Cowperwoods, and since those days when the latter had attempted
unsuccessfully to enter Chicago society this family had been as
acceptable as any of those who had remained friendly.

And so, when Cowperwood arrived one day at the office of the Press in a
blowing snow-storm--it was just before the Christmas holidays--Haguenin
was glad to see him.  "It's certainly real winter weather we're having
now, isn't it?" he observed, cheerfully.  "How goes the North Chicago
Street Railway business?" For months he, with the other publishers, had
been aware that the whole North Side was to be made over by fine
cable-tracks, power-houses, and handsome cars; and there already was
talk that some better arrangement was to be made to bring the
passengers into the down-town section.

"Mr. Haguenin," said Cowperwood, smilingly--he was arrayed in a heavy
fur coat, with a collar of beaver and driving-gauntlets of dogskin--"we
have reached the place in this street-railway problem on the North Side
where we are going to require the assistance of the newspapers, or at
least their friendly support.  At present our principal difficulty is
that all our lines, when they come down-town, stop at Lake Street--just
this side of the bridges. That means a long walk for everybody to all
the streets south of it, and, as you probably know, there has been
considerable complaint. Besides that, this river traffic is becoming
more and more what I may say it has been for years--an intolerable
nuisance.  We have all suffered from it.  No effort has ever been made
to regulate it, and because it is so heavy I doubt whether it ever can
be systematized in any satisfactory way.  The best thing in the long
run would be to tunnel under the river; but that is such an expensive
proposition that, as things are now, we are in no position to undertake
it.  The traffic on the North Side does not warrant it.  It really does
not warrant the reconstruction of the three bridges which we now use at
State, Dearborn, and Clark; yet, if we introduce the cable system,
which we now propose, these bridges will have to be done over.  It
seems to me, seeing that this is an enterprise in which the public is
as much interested almost as we are, that it would only be fair if the
city should help pay for this reconstruction work.  All the land
adjacent to these lines, and the property served by them, will be
greatly enhanced in value. The city's taxing power will rise
tremendously.  I have talked to several financiers here in Chicago, and
they agree with me; but, as is usual in all such cases, I find that
some of the politicians are against me.  Since I have taken charge of
the North Chicago company the attitude of one or two papers has not
been any too friendly." (In the Chronicle, controlled by Schryhart,
there had already been a number of references to the probability that
now, since Cowperwood and his friends were in charge, the sky-rocketing
tactics of the old Lake View, Hyde Park, and other gas organizations
would be repeated.  Braxton's Globe, owned by Merrill, being
semi-neutral, had merely suggested that it hoped that no such methods
would be repeated here.) "Perhaps you may know," Cowperwood continued,
"that we have a very sweeping programme of improvement in mind, if we
can obtain proper public consideration and assistance."

At this point he reached down in one of his pockets and drew forth
astutely drafted maps and blue-prints, especially prepared for this
occasion.  They showed main cable lines on North Clark, La Salle, and
Wells streets.  These lines coming down-town converged at Illinois and
La Salle streets on the North Side--and though Cowperwood made no
reference to it at the moment, they were indicated on the map in red as
running over or under the river at La Salle Street, where was no
bridge, and emerging therefrom, following a loop along La Salle to
Munroe, to Dearborn, to Randolph, and thence into the tunnel again.
Cowperwood allowed Haguenin to gather the very interesting traffic
significance of it all before he proceeded.

"On the map, Mr. Haguenin, I have indicated a plan which, if we can
gain the consent of the city, will obviate any quarrel as to the great
expense of reconstructing the bridges, and will make use of a piece of
property which is absolutely without value to the city at present, but
which can be made into something of vast convenience to the public.  I
am referring, as you see"--he laid an indicative finger on the map in
Mr. Haguenin's hands--"to the old La Salle Street tunnel, which is now
boarded up and absolutely of no use to any one.  It was built
apparently under a misapprehension as to the grade the average loaded
wagon could negotiate.  When it was found to be unprofitable it was
sold to the city and locked up.  If you have ever been through it you
know what condition it is in.  My engineers tell me the walls are
leaking, and that there is great danger of a cave-in unless it is very
speedily repaired. I am also told that it will require about four
hundred thousand dollars to put it in suitable condition for use.  My
theory is that if the North Chicago Street Railway is willing to go to
this expense for the sake of solving this bridge-crush problem, and
giving the residents of the North Side a sensible and uninterrupted
service into the business heart, the city ought to be willing to make
us a present of this tunnel for the time being, or at least a long
lease at a purely nominal rental."

Cowperwood paused to see what Haguenin would say.

The latter was looking at the map gravely, wondering whether it was
fair for Cowperwood to make this demand, wondering whether the city
should grant it to him without compensation, wondering whether the
bridge-traffic problem was as serious as he pointed out, wondering,
indeed, whether this whole move was not a clever ruse to obtain
something for nothing.

"And what is this?" he asked, laying a finger on the aforementioned
loop.

"That," replied Cowperwood, "is the only method we have been able to
figure out of serving the down-town business section and the North
Side, and of solving this bridge problem.  If we obtain the tunnel, as
I hope we shall, all the cars of these North Side lines will emerge
here"--he pointed to La Salle and Randolph--"and swing around--that is,
they will if the city council give us the right of way.  I think, of
course, there can be no reasonable objection to that.  There is no
reason why the citizens of the North Side shouldn't have as comfortable
an access to the business heart as those of the West or South Side."

"None in the world," Mr. Haguenin was compelled to admit.  "Are you
satisfied, however, that the council and the city should sanction the
gift of a loop of this kind without some form of compensation?"

"I see no reason why they shouldn't," replied Cowperwood, in a somewhat
injured tone.  "There has never been any question of compensation where
other improvements have been suggested for the city in the past.  The
South Side company has been allowed to turn in a loop around State and
Wabash.  The Chicago City Passenger Railway has a loop in Adams and
Washington streets."

"Quite so," said Mr. Haguenin, vaguely.  "That is true.  But this
tunnel, now--do you think that should fall in the same category of
public beneficences?"

At the same time he could not help thinking, as he looked at the
proposed loop indicated on the map, that the new cable line, with its
string of trailers, would give down-town Chicago a truly metropolitan
air and would provide a splendid outlet for the North Side.  The
streets in question were magnificent commercial thoroughfares, crowded
even at this date with structures five, six, seven, and even eight
stories high, and brimming with heavy streams of eager life--young,
fresh, optimistic.  Because of the narrow area into which the
commercial life of the city tended to congest itself, this property and
these streets were immensely valuable--among the most valuable in the
whole city.  Also he observed that if this loop did come here its cars,
on their return trip along Dearborn Street, would pass by his very
door--the office of the Press--thereby enhancing the value of that
property of which he was the owner.

"I certainly do, Mr. Haguenin," returned Cowperwood, emphatically, in
answer to his query.  "Personally, I should think Chicago would be glad
to pay a bonus to get its street-railway service straightened out,
especially where a corporation comes forward with a liberal,
conservative programme such as this.  It means millions in growth of
property values on the North Side.  It means millions to the business
heart to have this loop system laid down just as I suggest."

He put his finger firmly on the map which he had brought, and Haguenin
agreed with him that the plan was undoubtedly a sound business
proposition.  "Personally, I should be the last to complain," he added,
"for the line passes my door.  At the same time this tunnel, as I
understand it, cost in the neighborhood of eight hundred thousand or a
million dollars.  It is a delicate problem.  I should like to know what
the other editors think of it, and how the city council itself would
feel toward it."

Cowperwood nodded.  "Certainly, certainly," he said.  "With pleasure. I
would not come here at all if I did not feel that I had a perfectly
legitimate proposition--one that the press of the city should unite in
supporting.  Where a corporation such as ours is facing large
expenditures, which have to be financed by outside capital, it is only
natural that we should wish to allay useless, groundless opposition in
advance.  I hope we may command your support."

"I hope you may," smiled Mr. Haguenin.  They parted the best of friends.

The other publishers, guardians of the city's privileges, were not
quite so genial as Haguenin in their approval of Cowperwood's
proposition.  The use of a tunnel and several of the most important
down-town streets might readily be essential to the development of
Cowperwood's North Side schemes, but the gift of them was a different
matter.  Already, as a matter of fact, the various publishers and
editors had been consulted by Schryhart, Merrill, and others with a
view to discovering how they felt as to this new venture, and whether
Cowperwood would be cheerfully indorsed or not.  Schryhart, smarting
from the wounds he had received in the gas war, viewed this new
activity on Cowperwood's part with a suspicious and envious eye.  To
him much more than to the others it spelled a new and dangerous foe in
the street-railway field, although all the leading citizens of Chicago
were interested.

"I suppose now," he said one evening to the Hon. Walter Melville
Hyssop, editor and publisher of the Transcript and the Evening Mail,
whom he met at the Union League, "that this fellow Cowperwood will
attempt some disturbing coup in connection with street-railway affairs.
He is just the sort.  I think, from an editorial point of view, his
political connections will bear watching." Already there were rumors
abroad that McKenty might have something to do with the new company.

Hyssop, a medium-sized, ornate, conservative person, was not so sure.
"We shall find out soon enough, no doubt, what propositions Mr.
Cowperwood has in hand," he remarked.  "He is very energetic and
capable, as I understand it."

Hyssop and Schryhart, as well as the latter and Merrill, had been
social friends for years and years.

After his call on Mr. Haguenin, Cowperwood's naturally selective and
self-protective judgment led him next to the office of the Inquirer,
old General MacDonald's paper, where he found that because of
rhuematism and the severe, inclement weather of Chicago, the old
General had sailed only a few days before for Italy.  His son, an
aggressive, mercantile type of youth of thirty-two, and a managing
editor by the name of Du Bois were acting in his stead. In the son,
Truman Leslie MacDonald, an intense, calm, and penetrating young man,
Cowperwood encountered some one who, like himself, saw life only from
the point of view of sharp, self-centered, personal advantage.  What
was he, Truman Leslie MacDonald, to derive from any given situation,
and how was he to make the Inquirer an even greater property than it
had been under his father before him? He did not propose to be
overwhelmed by the old General's rather flowery reputation.  At the
same time he meant to become imposingly rich.  An active member of a
young and very smart set which had been growing up on the North Side,
he rode, drove, was instrumental in organizing a new and exclusive
country club, and despised the rank and file as unsuited to the fine
atmosphere to which he aspired.  Mr. Clifford Du Bois, the managing
editor, was a cool reprobate of forty, masquerading as a gentleman, and
using the Inquirer in subtle ways for furthering his personal ends, and
that under the old General's very nose.  He was osseous, sandy-haired,
blue-eyed, with a keen, formidable nose and a solid chin.  Clifford Du
Bois was always careful never to let his left hand know what his right
hand did.

It was this sapient pair that received Cowperwood in the old General's
absence, first in Mr. Du Bois's room and then in that of Mr. MacDonald.
The latter had already heard much of Cowperwood's doings.  Men who had
been connected with the old gas war--Jordan Jules, for instance,
president of the old North Chicago Gas Company, and Hudson Baker,
president of the old West Chicago Gas Company--had denounced him long
before as a bucaneer who had pirated them out of very comfortable
sinecures.  Here he was now invading the North Chicago street-railway
field and coming with startling schemes for the reorganization of the
down-town business heart.  Why shouldn't the city have something in
return; or, better yet, those who helped to formulate the public
opinion, so influential in the success of Cowperwood's plans? Truman
Leslie MacDonald, as has been said, did not see life from his father's
point of view at all.  He had in mind a sharp bargain, which he could
drive with Cowperwood during the old gentleman's absence.  The General
need never know.

"I understand your point of view, Mr. Cowperwood," he commented,
loftily, "but where does the city come in? I see very clearly how
important this is to the people of the North Side, and even to the
merchants and real-estate owners in the down-town section; but that
simply means that it is ten times as important to you. Undoubtedly, it
will help the city, but the city is growing, anyhow, and that will help
you.  I've said all along that these public franchises were worth more
than they used to be worth.  Nobody seems to see it very clearly as
yet, but it's true just the same. That tunnel is worth more now than
the day it was built.  Even if the city can't use it, somebody can."

He was meaning to indicate a rival car line.

Cowperwood bristled internally.

"That's all very well," he said, preserving his surface composure, "but
why make fish of one and flesh of another? The South Side company has a
loop for which it never paid a dollar.  So has the Chicago City
Passenger Railway.  The North Side company is planning more extensive
improvements than were ever undertaken by any single company before.  I
hardly think it is fair to raise the question of compensation and a
franchise tax at this time, and in connection with this one company
only."

"Um--well, that may be true of the other companies.  The South Side
company had those streets long ago.  They merely connected them up.
But this tunnel, now--that's a different matter, isn't it? The city
bought and paid for that, didn't it?"

"Quite true--to help out men who saw that they couldn't make another
dollar out of it," said Cowperwood, acidly.  "But it's of no use to the
city.  It will cave in pretty soon if it isn't repaired. Why, the
consent of property-owners alone, along the line of this loop, is going
to aggregate a considerable sum.  It seems to me instead of hampering a
great work of this kind the public ought to do everything in its power
to assist it.  It means giving a new metropolitan flavor to this
down-town section.  It is time Chicago was getting out of its swaddling
clothes."

Mr. MacDonald, the younger, shook his head.  He saw clearly enough the
significance of the points made, but he was jealous of Cowperwood and
of his success.  This loop franchise and tunnel gift meant millions for
some one.  Why shouldn't there be something in it for him? He called in
Mr. Du Bois and went over the proposition with him.  Quite without
effort the latter sensed the drift of the situation.

"It's an excellent proposition," he said.  "I don't see but that the
city should have something, though.  Public sentiment is rather against
gifts to corporations just at present."

Cowperwood caught the drift of what was in young MacDonald's mind.

"Well, what would you suggest as a fair rate of compensation to the
city?" he asked, cautiously, wondering whether this aggressive youth
would go so far as to commit himself in any way.

"Oh, well, as to that," MacDonald replied, with a deprecatory wave of
his hand, "I couldn't say.  It ought to bear a reasonable relationship
to the value of the utility as it now stands.  I should want to think
that over.  I shouldn't want to see the city demand anything
unreasonable.  Certainly, though, there is a privilege here that is
worth something."

Cowperwood flared inwardly.  His greatest weakness, if he had one, was
that he could but ill brook opposition of any kind.  This young
upstart, with his thin, cool face and sharp, hard eyes! He would have
liked to tell him and his paper to go to the devil.  He went away,
hoping that he could influence the Inquirer in some other way upon the
old General's return.

As he was sitting next morning in his office in North Clark Street he
was aroused by the still novel-sounding bell of the telephone--one of
the earliest in use--on the wall back of him.  After a parley with his
secretary, he was informed that a gentleman connected with the Inquirer
wished to speak with him.

"This is the Inquirer," said a voice which Cowperwood, his ear to the
receiver, thought he recognized as that of young Truman MacDonald, the
General's son.  "You wanted to know," continued the voice, "what would
be considered adequate compensation so far as that tunnel matter is
concerned.  Can you hear me?"

"Yes," replied Cowperwood.

"Well, I should not care to influence your judgment one way or the
other; but if my opinion were asked I should say about fifty thousand
dollars' worth of North Chicago Street Railway stock would be
satisfactory."

The voice was young, clear, steely.

"To whom would you suggest that it might be paid?" Cowperwood asked,
softly, quite genially.

"That, also, I would suggest, might be left to your very sound
judgment."

The voice ceased.  The receiver was hung up.

"Well, I'll be damned!" Cowperwood said, looking at the floor
reflectively.  A smile spread over his face.  "I'm not going to be held
up like that.  I don't need to be.  It isn't worth it. Not at present,
anyhow." His teeth set.

He was underestimating Mr. Truman Leslie MacDonald, principally because
he did not like him.  He thought his father might return and oust him.
It was one of the most vital mistakes he ever made in his life.




Chapter XXIV

The Coming of Stephanie Platow


During this period of what might have been called financial and
commercial progress, the affairs of Aileen and Cowperwood had been to a
certain extent smoothed over.  Each summer now, partly to take Aileen's
mind off herself and partly to satisfy his own desire to see the world
and collect objects of art, in which he was becoming more and more
interested, it was Cowperwood's custom to make with his wife a short
trip abroad or to foreign American lands, visiting in these two years
Russia, Scandinavia, Argentine, Chili, and Mexico.  Their plan was to
leave in May or June with the outward rush of traffic, and return in
September or early October.  His idea was to soothe Aileen as much as
possible, to fill her mind with pleasing anticipations as to her
eventual social triumph somewhere--in New York or London, if not
Chicago--to make her feel that in spite of his physical desertion he
was still spiritually loyal.

By now also Cowperwood was so shrewd that he had the ability to
simulate an affection and practise a gallantry which he did not feel,
or, rather, that was not backed by real passion.  He was the soul of
attention; he would buy her flowers, jewels, knickknacks, and
ornaments; he would see that her comfort was looked after to the last
detail; and yet, at the very same moment, perhaps, he would be looking
cautiously about to see what life might offer in the way of illicit
entertainment.  Aileen knew this, although she could not prove it to be
true.  At the same time she had an affection and an admiration for the
man which gripped her in spite of herself.

You have, perhaps, pictured to yourself the mood of some general who
has perhaps suffered a great defeat; the employee who after years of
faithful service finds himself discharged.  What shall life say to the
loving when their love is no longer of any value, when all that has
been placed upon the altar of affection has been found to be a vain
sacrifice? Philosophy? Give that to dolls to play with.  Religion? Seek
first the metaphysical-minded.  Aileen was no longer the lithe,
forceful, dynamic girl of 1865, when Cowperwood first met her.  She was
still beautiful, it is true, a fair, full-blown, matronly creature not
more than thirty-five, looking perhaps thirty, feeling, alas, that she
was a girl and still as attractive as ever.  It is a grim thing to a
woman, however fortunately placed, to realize that age is creeping on,
and that love, that singing will-o'-the-wisp, is fading into the
ultimate dark.  Aileen, within the hour of her greatest triumph, had
seen love die.  It was useless to tell herself, as she did sometimes,
that it might come back, revive.  Her ultimately realistic temperament
told her this could never be.  Though she had routed Rita Sohlberg, she
was fully aware that Cowperwood's original constancy was gone. She was
no longer happy.  Love was dead.  That sweet illusion, with its pearly
pink for heart and borders, that laughing cherub that lures with
Cupid's mouth and misty eye, that young tendril of the vine of life
that whispers of eternal spring-time, that calls and calls where
aching, wearied feet by legion follow, was no longer in existence.

In vain the tears, the storms, the self-tortures; in vain the looks in
the mirror, the studied examination of plump, sweet features still
fresh and inviting.  One day, at the sight of tired circles under her
eyes, she ripped from her neck a lovely ruche that she was adjusting
and, throwing herself on her bed, cried as though her heart would
break.  Why primp? Why ornament? Her Frank did not love her.  What to
her now was a handsome residence in Michigan Avenue, the refinements of
a French boudoir, or clothing that ran the gamut of the dressmaker's
art, hats that were like orchids blooming in serried rows? In vain, in
vain! Like the raven that perched above the lintel of the door, sad
memory was here, grave in her widow weeds, crying "never more." Aileen
knew that the sweet illusion which had bound Cowperwood to her for a
time had gone and would never come again.  He was here.  His step was
in the room mornings and evenings; at night for long prosaic,
uninterrupted periods she could hear him breathing by her side, his
hand on her body.  There were other nights when he was not there--when
he was "out of the city"--and she resigned herself to accept his
excuses at their face value.  Why quarrel? she asked herself.  What
could she do? She was waiting, waiting, but for what?

And Cowperwood, noting the strange, unalterable changes which time
works in us all, the inward lap of the marks of age, the fluted
recession of that splendor and radiance which is youth, sighed at times
perhaps, but turned his face to that dawn which is forever breaking
where youth is.  Not for him that poetic loyalty which substitutes for
the perfection of young love its memories, or takes for the glitter of
passion and desire that once was the happy thoughts of
companionship--the crystal memories that like early dews congealed
remain beaded recollections to comfort or torture for the end of former
joys.  On the contrary, after the vanishing of Rita Sohlberg, with all
that she meant in the way of a delicate insouciance which Aileen had
never known, his temperament ached, for he must have something like
that.  Truth to say, he must always have youth, the illusion of beauty,
vanity in womanhood, the novelty of a new, untested temperament, quite
as he must have pictures, old porcelain, music, a mansion, illuminated
missals, power, the applause of the great, unthinking world.

As has been said, this promiscuous attitude on Cowperwood's part was
the natural flowering out of a temperament that was chronically
promiscuous, intellectually uncertain, and philosophically anarchistic.
From one point of view it might have been said of him that he was
seeking the realization of an ideal, yet to one's amazement our very
ideals change at times and leave us floundering in the dark.  What is
an ideal, anyhow? A wraith, a mist, a perfume in the wind, a dream of
fair water.  The soul-yearning of a girl like Antoinette Nowak was a
little too strained for him.  It was too ardent, too clinging, and he
had gradually extricated himself, not without difficulty, from that
particular entanglement.  Since then he had been intimate with other
women for brief periods, but to no great satisfaction--Dorothy Ormsby,
Jessie Belle Hinsdale, Toma Lewis, Hilda Jewell; but they shall be
names merely.  One was an actress, one a stenographer, one the daughter
of one of his stock patrons, one a church-worker, a solicitor for
charity coming to him to seek help for an orphan's home.  It was a
pathetic mess at times, but so are all defiant variations from the
accustomed drift of things.  In the hardy language of Napoleon, one
cannot make an omelette without cracking a number of eggs.

The coming of Stephanie Platow, Russian Jewess on one side of her
family, Southwestern American on the other, was an event in
Cowperwood's life.  She was tall, graceful, brilliant, young, with much
of the optimism of Rita Sohlberg, and yet endowed with a strange
fatalism which, once he knew her better, touched and moved him.  He met
her on shipboard on the way to Goteborg.  Her father, Isadore Platow,
was a wealthy furrier of Chicago.  He was a large, meaty, oily type of
man--a kind of ambling, gelatinous formula of the male, with the usual
sound commercial instincts of the Jew, but with an errant philosophy
which led him to believe first one thing and then another so long as
neither interfered definitely with his business.  He was an admirer of
Henry George and of so altruistic a programme as that of Robert Owen,
and, also, in his way, a social snob.  And yet he had married Susetta
Osborn, a Texas girl who was once his bookkeeper.  Mrs. Platow was
lithe, amiable, subtle, with an eye always to the main social
chance--in other words, a climber.  She was shrewd enough to realize
that a knowledge of books and art and current events was essential, and
so she "went in" for these things.

It is curious how the temperaments of parents blend and revivify in
their children.  As Stephanie grew up she had repeated in her very
differing body some of her father's and mother's characteristics--an
interesting variability of soul.  She was tall, dark, sallow, lithe,
with a strange moodiness of heart and a recessive, fulgurous gleam in
her chestnut-brown, almost brownish-black eyes.  She had a full,
sensuous, Cupid's mouth, a dreamy and even languishing expression, a
graceful neck, and a heavy, dark, and yet pleasingly modeled face.
From both her father and mother she had inherited a penchant for art,
literature, philosophy, and music.  Already at eighteen she was
dreaming of painting, singing, writing poetry, writing books,
acting--anything and everything.  Serene in her own judgment of what
was worth while, she was like to lay stress on any silly mood or fad,
thinking it exquisite--the last word. Finally, she was a rank
voluptuary, dreaming dreams of passionate union with first one and then
another type of artist, poet, musician--the whole gamut of the artistic
and emotional world.

Cowperwood first saw her on board the Centurion one June morning, as
the ship lay at dock in New York.  He and Aileen were en route for
Norway, she and her father and mother for Denmark and Switzerland. She
was hanging over the starboard rail looking at a flock of wide-winged
gulls which were besieging the port of the cook's galley.  She was
musing soulfully--conscious (fully) that she was musing soulfully.  He
paid very little attention to her, except to note that she was tall,
rhythmic, and that a dark-gray plaid dress, and an immense veil of gray
silk wound about her shoulders and waist and over one arm, after the
manner of a Hindu shawl, appeared to become her much.  Her face seemed
very sallow, and her eyes ringed as if indicating dyspepsia.  Her black
hair under a chic hat did not escape his critical eye.  Later she and
her father appeared at the captain's table, to which the Cowperwoods
had also been invited.

Cowperwood and Aileen did not know how to take this girl, though she
interested them both.  They little suspected the chameleon character of
her soul.  She was an artist, and as formless and unstable as water.
It was a mere passing gloom that possessed her.  Cowperwood liked the
semi-Jewish cast of her face, a certain fullness of the neck, her dark,
sleepy eyes.  But she was much too young and nebulous, he thought, and
he let her pass.  On this trip, which endured for ten days, he saw much
of her, in different moods, walking with a young Jew in whom she seemed
greatly interested, playing at shuffleboard, reading solemnly in a
corner out of the reach of the wind or spray, and usually looking
naive, preternaturally innocent, remote, dreamy.  At other times she
seemed possessed of a wild animation, her eyes alight, her expression
vigorous, an intense glow in her soul.  Once he saw her bent over a
small wood block, cutting a book-plate with a thin steel graving tool.

Because of Stephanie's youth and seeming unimportance, her lack of what
might be called compelling rosy charm, Aileen had become reasonably
friendly with the girl.  Far subtler, even at her years, than Aileen,
Stephanie gathered a very good impression of the former, of her mental
girth, and how to take her.  She made friends with her, made a
book-plate for her, made a sketch of her.  She confided to Aileen that
in her own mind she was destined for the stage, if her parents would
permit; and Aileen invited her to see her husband's pictures on their
return.  She little knew how much of a part Stephanie would play in
Cowperwood's life.

The Cowperwoods, having been put down at Goteborg, saw no more of the
Platows until late October.  Then Aileen, being lonely, called to see
Stephanie, and occasionally thereafter Stephanie came over to the South
Side to see the Cowperwoods.  She liked to roam about their house, to
dream meditatively in some nook of the rich interior, with a book for
company.  She liked Cowperwood's pictures, his jades, his missals, his
ancient radiant glass.  From talking with Aileen she realized that the
latter had no real love for these things, that her expressions of
interest and pleasure were pure make-believe, based on their value as
possessions.  For Stephanie herself certain of the illuminated books
and bits of glass had a heavy, sensuous appeal, which only the truly
artistic can understand. They unlocked dark dream moods and pageants
for her.  She responded to them, lingered over them, experienced
strange moods from them as from the orchestrated richness of music.

And in doing so she thought of Cowperwood often.  Did he really like
these things, or was he just buying them to be buying them? She had
heard much of the pseudo artistic--the people who made a show of art.
She recalled Cowperwood as he walked the deck of the Centurion.  She
remembered his large, comprehensive, embracing blue-gray eyes that
seemed to blaze with intelligence.  He seemed to her quite obviously a
more forceful and significant man than her father, and yet she could
not have said why.  He always seemed so trigly dressed, so well put
together.  There was a friendly warmth about all that he said or did,
though he said or did little. She felt that his eyes were mocking, that
back in his soul there was some kind of humor over something which she
did not understand quite.

After Stephanie had been back in Chicago six months, during which time
she saw very little of Cowperwood, who was busy with his street-railway
programme, she was swept into the net of another interest which carried
her away from him and Aileen for the time being.  On the West Side,
among a circle of her mother's friends, had been organized an Amateur
Dramatic League, with no less object than to elevate the stage.  That
world-old problem never fails to interest the new and the
inexperienced.  It all began in the home of one of the new rich of the
West Side--the Timberlakes.  They, in their large house on Ashland
Avenue, had a stage, and Georgia Timberlake, a romantic-minded girl of
twenty with flaxen hair, imagined she could act.  Mrs. Timberlake, a
fat, indulgent mother, rather agreed with her.  The whole idea, after a
few discursive performances of Milton's "The Masque of Comus," "Pyramus
and Thisbe," and an improved Harlequin and Columbine, written by one of
the members, was transferred to the realm of the studios, then
quartered in the New Arts Building.  An artist by the name of Lane
Cross, a portrait-painter, who was much less of an artist than he was a
stage director, and not much of either, but who made his living by
hornswaggling society into the belief that he could paint, was induced
to take charge of these stage performances.

By degrees the "Garrick Players," as they chose to call themselves,
developed no little skill and craftsmanship in presenting one form and
another of classic and semi-classic play.  "Romeo and Juliet," with few
properties of any kind, "The Learned Ladies" of Moliere, Sheridan's
"The Rivals," and the "Elektra" of Sophocles were all given.
Considerable ability of one kind and another was developed, the group
including two actresses of subsequent repute on the American stage, one
of whom was Stephanie Platow.  There were some ten girls and women
among the active members, and almost as many men--a variety of
characters much too extended to discuss here. There was a dramatic
critic by the name of Gardner Knowles, a young man, very smug and
handsome, who was connected with the Chicago Press.  Whipping his
neatly trousered legs with his bright little cane, he used to appear at
the rooms of the players at the Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday teas
which they inaugurated, and discuss the merits of the venture.  Thus
the Garrick Players were gradually introduced into the newspapers.
Lane Cross, the smooth-faced, pasty-souled artist who had charge, was a
rake at heart, a subtle seducer of women, who, however, escaped
detection by a smooth, conventional bearing.  He was interested in such
girls as Georgia Timberlake, Irma Ottley, a rosy, aggressive maiden who
essayed comic roles, and Stephanie Platow.  These, with another girl,
Ethel Tuckerman, very emotional and romantic, who could dance
charmingly and sing, made up a group of friends which became very
close. Presently intimacies sprang up, only in this realm, instead of
ending in marriage, they merely resulted in sex liberty.  Thus Ethel
Tuckerman became the mistress of Lane Cross; an illicit attachment grew
up between Irma Ottley and a young society idler by the name of Bliss
Bridge; and Gardner Knowles, ardently admiring Stephanie Platow
literally seized upon her one afternoon in her own home, when he went
ostensibly to interview her, and overpersuaded her.  She was only
reasonably fond of him, not in love; but, being generous, nebulous,
passionate, emotional, inexperienced, voiceless, and vainly curious,
without any sense of the meums and teums that govern society in such
matters, she allowed this rather brutal thing to happen.  She was not a
coward--was too nebulous and yet forceful to be such.  Her parents
never knew.  And once so launched, another world--that of sex
satisfaction--began to dawn on her.

Were these young people evil? Let the social philosopher answer. One
thing is certain: They did not establish homes and raise children.  On
the contrary, they led a gay, butterfly existence for nearly two years;
then came a gift in the lute.  Quarrels developed over parts,
respective degrees of ability, and leadership. Ethel Tuckerman fell out
with Lane Cross, because she discovered him making love to Irma Ottley.
Irma and Bliss Bridge released each other, the latter transferring his
affections to Georgia Timberlake.  Stephanie Platow, by far the most
individual of them all, developed a strange inconsequence as to her
deeds.  It was when she was drawing near the age of twenty that the
affair with Gardner Knowles began.  After a time Lane Cross, with his
somewhat earnest attempt at artistic interpretation and his superiority
in the matter of years--he was forty, and young Knowles only
twenty-four--seemed more interesting to Stephanie, and he was quick to
respond. There followed an idle, passionate union with this man, which
seemed important, but was not so at all.  And then it was that
Stephanie began dimly to perceive that it was on and on that the
blessings lie, that somewhere there might be some man much more
remarkable than either of these; but this was only a dream.  She
thought of Cowperwood at times; but he seemed to her to be too wrapped
up in grim tremendous things, far apart from this romantic world of
amateur dramatics in which she was involved.




Chapter XXV

Airs from the Orient


Cowperwood gained his first real impression of Stephanie at the Garrick
Players, where he went with Aileen once to witness a performance of
"Elektra." He liked Stephanie particularly in this part, and thought
her beautiful.  One evening not long afterward he noticed her in his
own home looking at his jades, particularly a row of bracelets and
ear-rings.  He liked the rhythmic outline of her body, which reminded
him of a letter S in motion.  Quite suddenly it came over him that she
was a remarkable girl--very--destined, perhaps, to some significant
future.  At the same time Stephanie was thinking of him.

"Do you find them interesting?" he asked, stopping beside her.

"I think they're wonderful.  Those dark-greens, and that pale, fatty
white! I can see how beautiful they would be in a Chinese setting.  I
have always wished we could find a Chinese or Japanese play to produce
sometime."

"Yes, with your black hair those ear-rings would look well," said
Cowperwood.

He had never deigned to comment on a feature of hers before.  She
turned her dark, brown-black eyes on him--velvety eyes with a kind of
black glow in them--and now he noticed how truly fine they were, and
how nice were her hands--brown almost as a Malay's.

He said nothing more; but the next day an unlabeled box was delivered
to Stephanie at her home containing a pair of jade ear-rings, a
bracelet, and a brooch with Chinese characters intagliated. Stephanie
was beside herself with delight.  She gathered them up in her hands and
kissed them, fastening the ear-rings in her ears and adjusting the
bracelet and ring.  Despite her experience with her friends and
relatives, her stage associates, and her paramours, she was still a
little unschooled in the world.  Her heart was essentially poetic and
innocent.  No one had ever given her much of anything--not even her
parents.  Her allowance thus far in life had been a pitiful six dollars
a week outside of her clothing.  As she surveyed these pretty things in
the privacy of her room she wondered oddly whether Cowperwood was
growing to like her.  Would such a strong, hard business man be
interested in her? She had heard her father say he was becoming very
rich.  Was she a great actress, as some said she was, and would strong,
able types of men like Cowperwood take to her--eventually? She had
heard of Rachel, of Nell Gwynne, of the divine Sarah and her loves.
She took the precious gifts and locked them in a black-iron box which
was sacred to her trinkets and her secrets.

The mere acceptance of these things in silence was sufficient
indication to Cowperwood that she was of a friendly turn of mind. He
waited patiently until one day a letter came to his office--not his
house--addressed, "Frank Algernon Cowperwood, Personal." It was written
in a small, neat, careful hand, almost printed.


I don't know how to thank you for your wonderful present.  I didn't
mean you should give them to me, and I know you sent them.  I shall
keep them with pleasure and wear them with delight.  It was so nice of
you to do this.

                                       STEPHANIE PLATOW.


Cowperwood studied the handwriting, the paper, the phraseology. For a
girl of only a little over twenty this was wise and reserved and
tactful.  She might have written to him at his residence.  He gave her
the benefit of a week's time, and then found her in his own home one
Sunday afternoon.  Aileen had gone calling, and Stephanie was
pretending to await her return.

"It's nice to see you there in that window," he said.  "You fit your
background perfectly."

"Do I?" The black-brown eyes burned soulfully.  The panneling back of
her was of dark oak, burnished by the rays of an afternoon winter sun.

Stephanie Platow had dressed for this opportunity.  Her full, rich,
short black hair was caught by a childish band of blood-red ribbon,
holding it low over her temples and ears.  Her lithe body, so
harmonious in its graven roundness, was clad in an apple-green bodice,
and a black skirt with gussets of red about the hem; her smooth arms,
from the elbows down, were bare.  On one wrist was the jade bracelet he
had given her.  Her stockings were apple-green silk, and, despite the
chill of the day, her feet were shod in enticingly low slippers with
brass buckles.

Cowperwood retired to the hall to hang up his overcoat and came back
smiling.

"Isn't Mrs. Cowperwood about?"

"The butler says she's out calling, but I thought I'd wait a little
while, anyhow.  She may come back."

She turned up a dark, smiling face to him, with languishing,
inscrutable eyes, and he recognized the artist at last, full and clear.

"I see you like my bracelet, don't you?"

"It's beautiful," she replied, looking down and surveying it dreamily.
"I don't always wear it.  I carry it in my muff.  I've just put it on
for a little while.  I carry them all with me always. I love them so.
I like to feel them."

She opened a small chamois bag beside her--lying with her handkerchief
and a sketch-book which she always carried--and took out the ear-rings
and brooch.

Cowperwood glowed with a strange feeling of approval and enthusiasm at
this manifestation of real interest.  He liked jade himself very much,
but more than that the feeling that prompted this expression in
another.  Roughly speaking, it might have been said of him that youth
and hope in women--particularly youth when combined with beauty and
ambition in a girl--touched him.  He responded keenly to her impulse to
do or be something in this world, whatever it might be, and he looked
on the smart, egoistic vanity of so many with a kindly, tolerant,
almost parental eye.  Poor little organisms growing on the tree of
life--they would burn out and fade soon enough.  He did not know the
ballad of the roses of yesteryear, but if he had it would have appealed
to him.  He did not care to rifle them, willy-nilly; but should their
temperaments or tastes incline them in his direction, they would not
suffer vastly in their lives because of him.  The fact was, the man was
essentially generous where women were concerned.

"How nice of you!" he commented, smiling.  "I like that." And then,
seeing a note-book and pencil beside her, he asked, "What are you
doing?"

"Just sketching."

"Let me see?"

"It's nothing much," she replied, deprecatingly.  "I don't draw very
well."

"Gifted girl!" he replied, picking it up.  "Paints, draws, carves on
wood, plays, sings, acts."

"All rather badly," she sighed, turning her head languidly and looking
away.  In her sketch-book she had put all of her best drawings; there
were sketches of nude women, dancers, torsos, bits of running figures,
sad, heavy, sensuous heads and necks of sleeping girls, chins up,
eyelids down, studies of her brothers and sister, and of her father and
mother.

"Delightful!" exclaimed Cowperwood, keenly alive to a new treasure.
Good heavens, where had been his eyes all this while? Here was a jewel
lying at his doorstep--innocent, untarnished--a real jewel. These
drawings suggested a fire of perception, smoldering and somber, which
thrilled him.

"These are beautiful to me, Stephanie," he said, simply, a strange,
uncertain feeling of real affection creeping over him.  The man's
greatest love was for art.  It was hypnotic to him.  "Did you ever
study art?" he asked.

"No."

"And you never studied acting?"

"No."

She shook her head in a slow, sad, enticing way.  The black hair
concealing her ears moved him strangely.

"I know the art of your stage work is real, and you have a natural art
which I just seem to see.  What has been the matter with me, anyhow?"

"Oh no," she sighed.  "It seems to me that I merely play at everything.
I could cry sometimes when I think how I go on."

"At twenty?"

"That is old enough," she smiled, archly.

"Stephanie," he asked, cautiously, "how old are you, exactly?"

"I will be twenty-one in April," she answered.

"Have your parents been very strict with you?"

She shook her head dreamily.  "No; what makes you ask? They haven't
paid very much attention to me.  They've always liked Lucille and
Gilbert and Ormond best." Her voice had a plaintive, neglected ring.
It was the voice she used in her best scenes on the stage.

"Don't they realize that you are very talented?"

"I think perhaps my mother feels that I may have some ability. My
father doesn't, I'm sure.  Why?"

She lifted those languorous, plaintive eyes.

"Why, Stephanie, if you want to know, I think you're wonderful. I
thought so the other night when you were looking at those jades. It all
came over me.  You are an artist, truly, and I have been so busy I have
scarcely seen it.  Tell me one thing."

"Yes."

She drew in a soft breath, filling her chest and expanding her bosom,
while she looked at him from under her black hair.  Her hands were
crossed idly in her lap.  Then she looked demurely down.

"Look, Stephanie! Look up! I want to ask you something.  You have known
something of me for over a year.  Do you like me?"

"I think you're very wonderful," she murmured.

"Is that all?"

"Isn't that much?" she smiled, shooting a dull, black-opal look in his
direction.

"You wore my bracelet to-day.  Were you very glad to get it?"

"Oh yes," she sighed, with aspirated breath, pretending a kind of
suffocation.

"How beautiful you really are!" he said, rising and looking down at her.

She shook her head.

"No."

"Yes!"

"No."

"Come, Stephanie! Stand by me and look at me.  You are so tall and
slender and graceful.  You are like something out of Asia."

She sighed, turning in a sinuous way, as he slipped his arm her. "I
don't think we should, should we?" she asked, naively, after a moment,
pulling away from him.

"Stephanie!"

"I think I'd better go, now, please."




Chapter XXVI

Love and War


It was during the earlier phases of his connection with Chicago
street-railways that Cowperwood, ardently interesting himself in
Stephanie Platow, developed as serious a sex affair as any that had yet
held him.  At once, after a few secret interviews with her, he adopted
his favorite ruse in such matters and established bachelor quarters in
the down-town section as a convenient meeting-ground.  Several
conversations with Stephanie were not quite as illuminating as they
might have been, for, wonderful as she was--a kind of artistic godsend
in this dull Western atmosphere--she was also enigmatic and elusive,
very.  He learned speedily, in talking with her on several days when
they met for lunch, of her dramatic ambitions, and of the seeming
spiritual and artistic support she required from some one who would
have faith in her and inspire her by his or her confidence.  He learned
all about the Garrick Players, her home intimacies and friends, the
growing quarrels in the dramatic organization.  He asked her, as they
sat in a favorite and inconspicuous resort of his finding, during one
of those moments when blood and not intellect was ruling between them,
whether she had ever--

"Once," she naively admitted.

It was a great shock to Cowperwood.  He had fancied her refreshingly
innocent.  But she explained it was all so accidental, so unintentional
on her part, very.  She described it all so gravely, soulfully,
pathetically, with such a brooding, contemplative backward searching of
the mind, that he was astonished and in a way touched.  What a pity! It
was Gardner Knowles who had done this, she admitted.  But he was not
very much to blame, either.  It just happened.  She had tried to
protest, but-- Wasn't she angry? Yes, but then she was sorry to do
anything to hurt Gardner Knowles.  He was such a charming boy, and he
had such a lovely mother and sister, and the like.

Cowperwood was astonished.  He had reached that point in life where the
absence of primal innocence in a woman was not very significant; but in
Stephanie, seeing that she was so utterly charming, it was almost too
bad.  He thought what fools the Platows must be to tolerate this art
atmosphere for Stephanie without keeping a sharp watch over it.
Nevertheless, he was inclined to believe from observation thus far that
Stephanie might be hard to watch.  She was ingrainedly irresponsible,
apparently--so artistically nebulous, so non-self-protective.  To go on
and be friends with this scamp! And yet she protested that never after
that had there been the least thing between them.  Cowperwood could
scarcely believe it. She must be lying, and yet he liked her so.  The
very romantic, inconsequential way in which she narrated all this
staggered, amused, and even fascinated him.

"But, Stephanie," he argued, curiously, "there must been some aftermath
to all this.  What happened? What did you do?"

"Nothing." She shook her head.

He had to smile.

"But oh, don't let's talk about it!" she pleaded.  "I don't want to.
It hurts me.  There was nothing more."

She sighed, and Cowperwood meditated.  The evil was now done, and the
best that he could do, if he cared for her at all--and he did--was to
overlook it.  He surveyed her oddly, wonderingly. What a charming soul
she was, anyhow! How naive--how brooding! She had art--lots of it.  Did
he want to give her up?

As he might have known, it was dangerous to trifle with a type of this
kind, particularly once awakened to the significance of promiscuity,
and unless mastered by some absorbing passion. Stephanie had had too
much flattery and affection heaped upon her in the past two years to be
easily absorbed.  Nevertheless, for the time being, anyhow, she was
fascinated by the significance of Cowperwood.  It was wonderful to have
so fine, so powerful a man care for her.  She conceived of him as a
very great artist in his realm rather than as a business man, and he
grasped this fact after a very little while and appreciated it.  To his
delight, she was even more beautiful physically than he had
anticipated--a smoldering, passionate girl who met him with a fire
which, though somber, quite rivaled his own.  She was different, too,
in her languorous acceptance of all that he bestowed from any one he
had ever known.  She was as tactful as Rita Sohlberg--more so--but so
preternaturally silent at times.

"Stephanie," he would exclaim, "do talk.  What are you thinking of? You
dream like an African native."

She merely sat and smiled in a dark way or sketched or modeled him.
She was constantly penciling something, until moved by the fever of her
blood, when she would sit and look at him or brood silently, eyes down.
Then, when he would reach for her with seeking hands, she would sigh,
"Oh yes, oh yes!"

Those were delightful days with Stephanie.

In the matter of young MacDonald's request for fifty thousand dollars
in securities, as well as the attitude of the other editors--Hyssop,
Braxton, Ricketts, and so on--who had proved subtly critical,
Cowperwood conferred with Addison and McKenty.

"A likely lad, that," commented McKenty, succintly, when he heard it.
"He'll do better than his father in one way, anyhow.  He'll probably
make more money."

McKenty had seen old General MacDonald just once in his life, and liked
him.

"I should like to know what the General would think of that if he
knew," commented Addison, who admired the old editor greatly. "I'm
afraid he wouldn't sleep very well."

"There is just one thing," observed Cowperwood, thoughtfully. "This
young man will certainly come into control of the Inquirer sometime.
He looks to me like some one who would not readily forget an injury."
He smiled sardonically.  So did McKenty and Addison.

"Be that as it may," suggested the latter, "he isn't editor yet."
McKenty, who never revealed his true views to any one but Cowperwood,
waited until he had the latter alone to observe:

What can they do? Your request is a reasonable one.  Why shouldn't the
city give you the tunnel? It's no good to anyone as it is. And the loop
is no more than the other roads have now.  I'm thinking it's the
Chicago City Railway and that silk-stocking crowd on State Street or
that gas crowd that's talking against you.  I've heard them before.
Give them what they want, and it's a fine moral cause.  Give it to
anyone else, and there's something wrong with it.  It's little
attention I pay to them.  We have the council, let it pass the
ordinances.  It can't be proved that they don't do it willingly.  The
mayor is a sensible man.  He'll sign them. Let young MacDonald talk if
he wants to.  If he says too much you can talk to his father.  As for
Hyssop, he's an old grandmother anyhow.  I've never known him to be for
a public improvement yet that was really good for Chicago unless
Schryhart or Merrill or Arneel or someone else of that crowd wanted it.
I know them of old.  My advice is to go ahead and never mind them.  To
hell with them! Things will be sweet enough, once you are as powerful
as they are.  They'll get nothing in the future without paying for it.
It's little enough they've ever done to further anything that I wanted.

Cowperwood, however, remained cool and thoughtful.  Should he pay young
MacDonald? he asked himself.  Addison knew of no influence that he
could bring to bear.  Finally, after much thought, he decided to
proceed as he had planned.  Consequently, the reporters around the City
Hall and the council-chamber, who were in touch with Alderman Thomas
Dowling, McKenty's leader on the floor of council, and those who called
occasionally--quite regularly, in fact--at the offices of the North
Chicago Street Railway Company, Cowperwood's comfortable new offices in
the North Side, were now given to understand that two ordinances--one
granting the free use of the La Salle Street tunnel for an unlimited
period (practically a gift of it), and another granting a right of way
in La Salle, Munroe, Dearborn, and Randolph streets for the proposed
loop--would be introduced in council very shortly.  Cowperwood granted
a very flowery interview, in which he explained quite enthusiastically
all that the North Chicago company was doing and proposed to do, and
made clear what a splendid development it would assure to the North
Side and to the business center.

At once Schryhart, Merrill, and some individuals connected with the
Chicago West Division Company, began to complain in the newspaper
offices and at the clubs to Ricketts, Braxton, young MacDonald, and the
other editors.  Envy of the pyrotechnic progress of the man was as much
a factor in this as anything else.  It did not make the slightest
difference, as Cowperwood had sarcastically pointed out, that every
other corporation of any significance in Chicago had asked and received
without money and without price. Somehow his career in connection with
Chicago gas, his venturesome, if unsuccessful effort to enter Chicago
society, his self-acknowledged Philadelphia record, rendered the
sensitive cohorts of the ultra-conservative exceedingly fearful.  In
Schryhart's Chronicle appeared a news column which was headed, "Plain
Grab of City Tunnel Proposed." It was a very truculent statement, and
irritated Cowperwood greatly.  The Press (Mr. Haguenin's paper), on the
other hand, was most cordial to the idea of the loop, while appearing
to be a little uncertain as to whether the tunnel should be granted
without compensation or not.  Editor Hyssop felt called upon to insist
that something more than merely nominal compensation should be made for
the tunnel, and that "riders" should be inserted in the loop ordinance
making it incumbent upon the North Chicago company to keep those
thoroughfares in full repair and well lighted. The Inquirer, under Mr.
MacDonald, junior, and Mr. Du Bois, was in rumbling opposition.  No
free tunnels, it cried; no free ordinances for privileges in the
down-town heart.  It had nothing to say about Cowperwood personally.
The Globe, Mr. Braxton's paper, was certain that no free rights to the
tunnel should be given, and that a much better route for the loop could
be found--one larger and more serviceable to the public, one that might
be made to include State Street or Wabash Avenue, or both, where Mr.
Merrill's store was located.  So it went, and one could see quite
clearly to what extent the interests of the public figured in the
majority of these particular viewpoints.

Cowperwood, individual, reliant, utterly indifferent to opposition of
any kind, was somewhat angered by the manner in which his overtures had
been received, but still felt that the best way out of his troubles was
to follow McKenty's advice and get power first. Once he had his
cable-conduit down, his new cars running, the tunnel rebuilt,
brilliantly lighted, and the bridge crush disposed of, the public would
see what a vast change for the better had been made and would support
him.  Finally all things were in readiness and the ordinance jammed
through.  McKenty, being a little dubious of the outcome, had a
rocking-chair brought into the council-chamber itself during the hours
when the ordinances were up for consideration. In this he sat,
presumably as a curious spectator, actually as a master dictating the
course of liquidation in hand.  Neither Cowperwood nor any one else
knew of McKenty's action until too late to interfere with it.  Addison
and Videra, when they read about it as sneeringly set forth in the news
columns of the papers, lifted and then wrinkled their eyebrows.

"That looks like pretty rough work to me," commented Addison.  "I
thought McKenty had more tact.  That's his early Irish training."

Alexander Rambaud, who was an admirer and follower of Cowperwood's,
wondered whether the papers were lying, whether it really could be true
that Cowperwood had a serious political compact with McKenty which
would allow him to walk rough-shod over public opinion. Rambaud
considered Cowperwood's proposition so sane and reasonable that he
could not understand why there should be serious opposition, or why
Cowperwood and McKenty should have to resort to such methods.

However, the streets requisite for the loop were granted.  The tunnel
was leased for nine hundred and ninety-nine years at the nominal sum of
five thousand dollars per year.  It was understood that the old bridges
over State, Dearborn, and Clark streets should be put in repair or
removed; but there was "a joker" inserted elsewhere which nullified
this.  Instantly there were stormy outbursts in the Chronicle,
Inquirer, and Globe; but Cowperwood, when he read them, merely smiled.
"Let them grumble," he said to himself.  "I put a very reasonable
proposition before them.  Why should they complain? I'm doing more now
than the Chicago City Railway.  It's jealousy, that's all.  If
Schryhart or Merrill had asked for it, there would have been no
complaint."

McKenty called at the offices of the Chicago Trust Company to
congratulate Cowperwood.  "The boys did as I thought they would," he
said.  "I had to be there, though, for I heard some one say that about
ten of them intended to ditch us at the last moment."

"Good work, good work!" replied Cowperwood, cheerfully.  "This row will
all blow over.  It would be the same whenever we asked.  The air will
clear up.  We'll give them such a fine service that they'll forget all
about this, and be glad they gave us the tunnel."

Just the same, the morning after the enabling ordinances had passed,
there was much derogatory comment in influential quarters.  Mr. Norman
Schryhart, who, through his publisher, had been fulminating defensively
against Cowperwood, stared solemnly at Mr. Ricketts when they met.

"Well," said the magnate, who imagined he foresaw a threatened attack
on his Chicago City Street Railway preserves, "I see our friend Mr.
Cowperwood has managed to get his own way with the council.  I am
morally certain he uses money to get what he is after as freely as a
fireman uses water.  He's as slippery as an eel.  I should be glad if
we could establish that there is a community of interest between him
and these politicians around City Hall, or between him and Mr. McKenty.
I believe he has set out to dominate this city politically as well as
financially, and he'll need constant watching.  If public opinion can
be aroused against him he may be dislodged in the course of time.
Chicago may get too uncomfortable for him.  I know Mr. McKenty
personally, but he is not the kind of man I care to do business with."

Mr. Schryhart's method of negotiating at City Hall was through certain
reputable but somewhat slow-going lawyers who were in the employ of the
South Side company.  They had never been able to reach Mr. McKenty at
all.  Ricketts echoed a hearty approval. "You're very right," he said,
with owlish smugness, adjusting a waistcoat button that had come loose,
and smoothing his cuffs. "He's a prince of politicians.  We'll have to
look sharp if we ever trap him" Mr. Ricketts would have been glad to
sell out to Mr. Cowperwood, if he had not been so heavily obligated to
Mr. Schryhart. He had no especial affection for Cowperwood, but he
recognized in him a coming man.

Young MacDonald, talking to Clifford Du Bois in the office of the
Inquirer, and reflecting how little his private telephone message had
availed him, was in a waspish, ironic frame of mind.

"Well," he said, "it seems our friend Cowperwood hasn't taken our
advice.  He may make his mark, but the Inquirer isn't through with him
by a long shot.  He'll be wanting other things from the city in the
future."

Clifford Du Bois regarded his acid young superior with a curious eye.
He knew nothing of MacDonald's private telephone message to Cowperwood;
but he knew how he himself would have dealt with the crafty financier
had he been in MacDonald's position.

"Yes, Cowperwood is shrewd," was his comment.  "Pritchard, our
political man, says the ways of the City Hall are greased straight up
to the mayor and McKenty, and that Cowperwood can have anything he
wants at any time.  Tom Dowling eats out of his hand, and you know what
that means.  Old General Van Sickle is working for him in some way.
Did you ever see that old buzzard flying around if there wasn't
something dead in the woods?"

"He's a slick one," remarked MacDonald.  "But as for Cowperwood, he
can't get away with this sort of thing very long.  He's going too fast.
He wants too much."

Mr. Du Bois smiled quite secretly.  It amused him to see how Cowperwood
had brushed MacDonald and his objections aside--dispensed for the time
being with the services of the Inquirer.  Du Bois confidently believed
that if the old General had been at home he would have supported the
financier.

Within eight months after seizing the La Salle Street tunnel and
gobbling four of the principal down-town streets for his loop,
Cowperwood turned his eyes toward the completion of the second part of
the programme--that of taking over the Washington Street tunnel and the
Chicago West Division Company, which was still drifting along under its
old horse-car regime.  It was the story of the North Side company all
over again.  Stockholders of a certain type--the average--are extremely
nervous, sensitive, fearsome. They are like that peculiar bivalve, the
clam, which at the slightest sense of untoward pressure withdraws into
its shell and ceases all activity.  The city tax department began by
instituting proceedings against the West Division company, compelling
them to disgorge various unpaid street-car taxes which had hitherto
been conveniently neglected.  The city highway department was
constantly jumping on them for neglect of street repairs.  The city
water department, by some hocus-pocus, made it its business to discover
that they had been stealing water.  On the other hand were the smiling
representatives of Cowperwood, Kaifrath, Addison, Videra, and others,
approaching one director or stockholder after another with glistening
accounts of what a splendid day would set in for the Chicago West
Division Company if only it would lease fifty-one per cent. of its
holdings--fifty-one per cent. of twelve hundred and fifty shares, par
value two hundred dollars--for the fascinating sum of six hundred
dollars per share, and thirty per cent. interest on all stock not
assumed.

Who could resist? Starve and beat a dog on the one hand; wheedle, pet,
and hold meat in front of it on the other, and it can soon be brought
to perform.  Cowperwood knew this.  His emissaries for good and evil
were tireless.  In the end--and it was not long in coming--the
directors and chief stockholders of the Chicago West Division Company
succumbed; and then, ho! the sudden leasing by the Chicago West
Division Company of all its property--to the North Chicago Street
Railway Company, lessee in turn of the Chicago City Passenger Railway,
a line which Cowperwood had organized to take over the Washington
Street tunnel.  How had he accomplished it? The question was on the tip
of every financial tongue.  Who were the men or the organization
providing the enormous sums necessary to pay six hundred dollars per
share for six hundred and fifty shares of the twelve hundred and fifty
belonging to the old West Division company, and thirty per cent. per
year on all the remainder? Where was the money coming from to cable all
these lines? It was simple enough if they had only thought.  Cowperwood
was merely capitalizing the future.

Before the newspapers or the public could suitably protest, crowds of
men were at work day and night in the business heart of the city, their
flaring torches and resounding hammers making a fitful bedlamic world
of that region; they were laying the first great cable loop and
repairing the La Salle Street tunnel.  It was the same on the North and
West Sides, where concrete conduits were being laid, new grip and
trailer cars built, new car-barns erected, and large, shining
power-houses put up.  The city, so long used to the old bridge delays,
the straw-strewn, stoveless horse-cars on their jumping rails, was agog
to see how fine this new service would be.  The La Salle Street tunnel
was soon aglow with white plaster and electric lights.  The long
streets and avenues of the North Side were threaded with concrete-lined
conduits and heavy street-rails.  The powerhouses were completed and
the system was started, even while the contracts for the changes on the
West Side were being let.

Schryhart and his associates were amazed at this swiftness of action,
this dizzy phantasmagoria of financial operations.  It looked very much
to the conservative traction interests of Chicago as if this young
giant out of the East had it in mind to eat up the whole city.  The
Chicago Trust Company, which he, Addison, McKenty, and others had
organized to manipulate the principal phases of the local bond issues,
and of which he was rumored to be in control, was in a flourishing
condition.  Apparently he could now write his check for millions, and
yet he was not beholden, so far as the older and more conservative
multimillionaires of Chicago were concerned, to any one of them.  The
worst of it was that this Cowperwood--an upstart, a jail-bird, a
stranger whom they had done their best to suppress financially and
ostracize socially, had now become an attractive, even a sparkling
figure in the eyes of the Chicago public.  His views and opinions on
almost any topic were freely quoted; the newspapers, even the most
antagonistic, did not dare to neglect him.  Their owners were now fully
alive to the fact that a new financial rival had appeared who was
worthy of their steel.




Chapter XXVII

A Financier Bewitched


It was interesting to note how, able though he was, and bound up with
this vast street-railway enterprise which was beginning to affect
several thousand men, his mind could find intense relief and
satisfaction in the presence and actions of Stephanie Platow. It is not
too much to say that in her, perhaps, he found revivified the spirit
and personality of Rita Sohlberg.  Rita, however, had not contemplated
disloyalty--it had never occurred to her to be faithless to Cowperwood
so long as he was fond of her any more than for a long time it had been
possible for her, even after all his philanderings, to be faithless to
Sohlberg.  Stephanie, on the other hand, had the strange feeling that
affection was not necessarily identified with physical loyalty, and
that she could be fond of Cowperwood and still deceive him--a fact
which was based on her lack as yet of a true enthusiasm for him.  She
loved him and she didn't.  Her attitude was not necessarily identified
with her heavy, lizardish animality, though that had something to do
with it; but rather with a vague, kindly generosity which permitted her
to feel that it was hard to break with Gardner Knowles and Lane Cross
after they had been so nice to her.  Gardner Knowles had sung her
praises here, there, and everywhere, and was attempting to spread her
fame among the legitimate theatrical enterprises which came to the city
in order that she might be taken up and made into a significant figure.
Lane Cross was wildly fond of her in an inadequate way which made it
hard to break with him, and yet certain that she would eventually.
There was still another man--a young playwright and poet by the name of
Forbes Gurney--tall, fair, passionate--who had newly arrived on the
scene and was courting her, or, rather, being courted by her at odd
moments, for her time was her own.  In her artistically errant way she
had refused to go to school like her sister, and was idling about,
developing, as she phrased it, her artistic possibilities.

Cowperwood, as was natural, heard much of her stage life.  At first he
took all this palaver with a grain of salt, the babbling of an ardent
nature interested in the flighty romance of the studio world.  By
degrees, however, he became curious as to the freedom of her actions,
the ease with which she drifted from place to place--Lane Cross's
studio; Bliss Bridge's bachelor rooms, where he appeared always to be
receiving his theatrical friends of the Garrick Players; Mr. Gardner
Knowles's home on the near North Side, where he was frequently
entertaining a party after the theater. It seemed to Cowperwood, to say
the least, that Stephanie was leading a rather free and inconsequential
existence, and yet it reflected her exactly--the color of her soul.
But he began to doubt and wonder.

"Where were you, Stephanie, yesterday?" he would ask, when they met for
lunch, or in the evenings early, or when she called at his new offices
on the North Side, as she sometimes did to walk or drive with him.

"Oh, yesterday morning I was at Lane Cross's studio trying on some of
his Indian shawls and veils.  He has such a lot of those things--some
of the loveliest oranges and blues.  You just ought to see me in them.
I wish you might."

"Alone?"

"For a while.  I thought Ethel Tuckerman and Bliss Bridge would be
there, but they didn't come until later.  Lane Cross is such a dear.
He's sort of silly at times, but I like him.  His portraits are so
bizarre."

She went off into a description of his pretentious but insignificant
art.

Cowperwood marveled, not at Lane Cross's art nor his shawls, but at
this world in which Stephanie moved.  He could not quite make her out.
He had never been able to make her explain satisfactorily that first
single relationship with Gardner Knowles, which she declared had ended
so abruptly.  Since then he had doubted, as was his nature; but this
girl was so sweet, childish, irreconcilable with herself, like a
wandering breath of air, or a pale-colored flower, that he scarcely
knew what to think.  The artistically inclined are not prone to quarrel
with an enticing sheaf of flowers. She was heavenly to him, coming in,
as she did at times when he was alone, with bland eyes and yielding
herself in a kind of summery ecstasy.  She had always something
artistic to tell of storms, winds, dust, clouds, smoke forms, the
outline of buildings, the lake, the stage.  She would cuddle in his
arms and quote long sections from "Romeo and Juliet," "Paolo and
Francesca," "The Ring and the Book," Keats's "Eve of St. Agnes." He
hated to quarrel with her, because she was like a wild rose or some art
form in nature.  Her sketch-book was always full of new things.  Her
muff, or the light silk shawl she wore in summer, sometimes concealed a
modeled figure of some kind which she would produce with a look like
that of a doubting child, and if he wanted it, if he liked it, he could
have it. Cowperwood meditated deeply.  He scarcely knew what to think.

The constant atmosphere of suspicion and doubt in which he was
compelled to remain, came by degrees to distress and anger him. While
she was with him she was clinging enough, but when she was away she was
ardently cheerful and happy.  Unlike the station he had occupied in so
many previous affairs, he found himself, after the first little while,
asking her whether she loved him instead of submitting to the same
question from her.

He thought that with his means, his position, his future possibilities
he had the power to bind almost any woman once drawn to his
personality; but Stephanie was too young and too poetic to be greatly
impaired by wealth and fame, and she was not yet sufficiently gripped
by the lure of him.  She loved him in her strange way; but she was
interested also by the latest arrival, Forbes Gurney. This tall,
melancholy youth, with brown eyes and pale-brown hair, was very poor.
He hailed from southern Minnesota, and what between a penchant for
journalism, verse-writing, and some dramatic work, was somewhat
undecided as to his future.  His present occupation was that of an
instalment collector for a furniture company, which set him free, as a
rule, at three o'clock in the afternoon.  He was trying, in a mooning
way, to identify himself with the Chicago newspaper world, and was a
discovery of Gardner Knowles.

Stephanie had seen him about the rooms of the Garrick Players. She had
looked at his longish face with its aureole of soft, crinkly hair, his
fine wide mouth, deep-set eyes, and good nose, and had been touched by
an atmosphere of wistfulness, or, let us say, life-hunger.  Gardner
Knowles brought a poem of his once, which he had borrowed from him, and
read it to the company, Stephanie, Ethel Tuckerman, Lane Cross, and
Irma Ottley assembled.

"Listen to this," Knowles had suddenly exclaimed, taking it out of his
pocket.

It concerned a garden of the moon with the fragrance of pale blossoms,
a mystic pool, some ancient figures of joy, a quavered Lucidian tune.

"With eerie flute and rhythmic thrum Of muted strings and beaten drum."

Stephanie Platow had sat silent, caught by a quality that was akin to
her own.  She asked to see it, and read it in silence.

"I think it's charming," she said.

Thereafter she hovered in the vicinity of Forbes Gurney.  Why, she
could scarcely say.  It was not coquetry.  She just drew near, talked
to him of stage work and her plays and her ambitions.  She sketched him
as she had Cowperwood and others, and one day Cowperwood found three
studies of Forbes Gurney in her note-book idyllicly done, a note of
romantic feeling about them.

"Who is this?" he asked.

"Oh, he's a young poet who comes up to the Players--Forbes Gurney. He's
so charming; he's so pale and dreamy."

Cowperwood contemplated the sketches curiously.  His eyes clouded.

"Another one of Stephanie's adherents," he commented, teasingly. "It's
a long procession I've joined.  Gardner Knowles, Lane Cross, Bliss
Bridge, Forbes Gurney."

Stephanie merely pouted moodily.

"How you talk! Bliss Bridge, Gardner Knowles! I admit I like them all,
but that's all I do do.  They're just sweet and dear.  You'd like Lane
Cross yourself; he's such a foolish old Polly.  As for Forbes Gurney,
he just drifts up there once in a while as one of the crowd.  I
scarcely know him."

"Exactly," said Cowperwood, dolefully; "but you sketch him." For some
reason Cowperwood did not believe this.  Back in his brain he did not
believe Stephanie at all, he did not trust her.  Yet he was intensely
fond of her--the more so, perhaps, because of this.

"Tell me truly, Stephanie," he said to her one day, urgently, and yet
very diplomatically.  "I don't care at all, so far as your past is
concerned.  You and I are close enough to reach a perfect
understanding.  But you didn't tell me the whole truth about you and
Knowles, did you? Tell me truly now.  I sha'n't mind.  I can understand
well enough how it could have happened.  It doesn't make the least bit
of difference to me, really."

Stephanie was off her guard for once, in no truly fencing mood. She was
troubled at times about her various relations, anxious to put herself
straight with Cowperwood or with any one whom she truly liked.
Compared to Cowperwood and his affairs, Cross and Knowles were trivial,
and yet Knowles was interesting to her.  Compared to Cowperwood, Forbes
Gurney was a stripling beggar, and yet Gurney had what Cowperwood did
not have--a sad, poetic lure.  He awakened her sympathies.  He was such
a lonely boy.  Cowperwood was so strong, brilliant, magnetic.

Perhaps it was with some idea of clearing up her moral status generally
that she finally said: "Well, I didn't tell you the exact truth about
it, either.  I was a little ashamed to."

At the close of her confession, which involved only Knowles, and was
incomplete at that, Cowperwood burned with a kind of angry resentment.
Why trifle with a lying prostitute? That she was an inconsequential
free lover at twenty-one was quite plain.  And yet there was something
so strangely large about the girl, so magnetic, and she was so
beautiful after her kind, that he could not think of giving her up.
She reminded him of himself.

"Well, Stephanie," he said, trampling under foot an impulse to insult
or rebuke and dismiss her, "you are strange.  Why didn't you tell me
this before? I have asked and asked.  Do you really mean to say that
you care for me at all?"

"How can you ask that?" she demanded, reproachfully, feeling that she
had been rather foolish in confessing.  Perhaps she would lose him now,
and she did not want to do that.  Because his eyes blazed with a
jealous hardness she burst into tears.  "Oh, I wish I had never told
you! There is nothing to tell, anyhow.  I never wanted to."

Cowperwood was nonplussed.  He knew human nature pretty well, and woman
nature; his common sense told him that this girl was not to be trusted,
and yet he was drawn to her.  Perhaps she was not lying, and these
tears were real.

"And you positively assure me that this was all--that there wasn't any
one else before, and no one since?"

Stephanie dried her eyes.  They were in his private rooms in Randolph
Street, the bachelor rooms he had fitted for himself as a changing
place for various affairs.

"I don't believe you care for me at all," she observed, dolefully,
reproachfully.  "I don't believe you understand me.  I don't think you
believe me.  When I tell you how things are you don't understand. I
don't lie.  I can't.  If you are so doubting now, perhaps you had
better not see me any more.  I want to be frank with you, but if you
won't let me--"

She paused heavily, gloomily, very sorrowfully, and Cowperwood surveyed
her with a kind of yearning.  What an unreasoning pull she had for him!
He did not believe her, and yet he could not let her go.

"Oh, I don't know what to think," he commented, morosely.  "I certainly
don't want to quarrel with you, Stephanie, for telling me the truth.
Please don't deceive me.  You are a remarkable girl. I can do so much
for you if you will let me.  You ought to see that."

"But I'm not deceiving you," she repeated, wearily.  "I should think
you could see."

"I believe you," he went on, trying to deceive himself against his
better judgment.  "But you lead such a free, unconventional life."

"Ah," thought Stephanie, "perhaps I talk too much."

"I am very fond of you.  You appeal to me so much.  I love you, really.
Don't deceive me.  Don't run with all these silly simpletons. They are
really not worthy of you.  I shall be able to get a divorce one of
these days, and then I would be glad to marry you."

"But I'm not running with them in the sense that you think.  They're
not anything to me beyond mere entertainment.  Oh, I like them, of
course.  Lane Cross is a dear in his way, and so is Gardner Knowles.
They have all been nice to me."

Cowperwood's gorge rose at her calling Lane Cross dear.  It incensed
him, and yet he held his peace.

"Do give me your word that there will never be anything between you and
any of these men so long as you are friendly with me?" he almost
pleaded--a strange role for him.  "I don't care to share you with any
one else.  I won't.  I don't mind what you have done in the past, but I
don't want you to be unfaithful in the future."

"What a question! Of course I won't.  But if you don't believe me--oh,
dear--"

Stephanie sighed painfully, and Cowperwood's face clouded with angry
though well-concealed suspicion and jealousy.

"Well, I'll tell you, Stephanie, I believe you now.  I'm going to take
your word.  But if you do deceive me, and I should find it out, I will
quit you the same day.  I do not care to share you with any one else.
What I can't understand, if you care for me, is how you can take so
much interest in all these affairs? It certainly isn't devotion to your
art that's impelling you, is it?"

"Oh, are you going to go on quarreling with me?" asked Stephanie,
naively.  "Won't you believe me when I say that I love you? Perhaps--"
But here her histrionic ability came to her aid, and she sobbed
violently.

Cowperwood took her in his arms.  "Never mind," he soothed.  "I do
believe you.  I do think you care for me.  Only I wish you weren't such
a butterfly temperament, Stephanie."

So this particular lesion for the time being was healed.




Chapter XXVIII

The Exposure of Stephanie


At the same time the thought of readjusting her relations so that they
would avoid disloyalty to Cowperwood was never further from Stephanie's
mind.  Let no one quarrel with Stephanie Platow.  She was an unstable
chemical compound, artistic to her finger-tips, not understood or
properly guarded by her family.  Her interest in Cowperwood, his force
and ability, was intense.  So was her interest in Forbes Gurney--the
atmosphere of poetry that enveloped him.  She studied him curiously on
the various occasions when they met, and, finding him bashful and
recessive, set out to lure him. She felt that he was lonely and
depressed and poor, and her womanly capacity for sympathy naturally
bade her be tender.

Her end was easily achieved.  One night, when they were all out in
Bliss Bridge's single-sticker--a fast-sailing saucer--Stephanie and
Forbes Gurney sat forward of the mast looking at the silver moon track
which was directly ahead.  The rest were in the cockpit "cutting
up"--laughing and singing.  It was very plain to all that Stephanie was
becoming interested in Forbes Gurney; and since he was charming and she
wilful, nothing was done to interfere with them, except to throw an
occasional jest their way.  Gurney, new to love and romance, scarcely
knew how to take his good fortune, how to begin.  He told Stephanie of
his home life in the wheat-fields of the Northwest, how his family had
moved from Ohio when he was three, and how difficult were the labors he
had always undergone. He had stopped in his plowing many a day to stand
under a tree and write a poem--such as it was--or to watch the birds or
to wish he could go to college or to Chicago.  She looked at him with
dreamy eyes, her dark skin turned a copper bronze in the moonlight, her
black hair irradiated with a strange, luminous grayish blue. Forbes
Gurney, alive to beauty in all its forms, ventured finally to touch her
hand--she of Knowles, Cross, and Cowperwood--and she thrilled from head
to toe.  This boy was so sweet.  His curly brown hair gave him a kind
of Greek innocence and aspect.  She did not move, but waited, hoping he
would do more.

"I wish I might talk to you as I feel," he finally said, hoarsely, a
catch in his throat.

She laid one hand on his.

"You dear!" she said.

He realized now that he might.  A great ecstasy fell upon him. He
smoothed her hand, then slipped his arm about her waist, then ventured
to kiss the dark cheek turned dreamily from him.  Artfully her head
sunk to his shoulder, and he murmured wild nothings--how divine she
was, how artistic, how wonderful! With her view of things, it could
only end one way.  She manoeuvered him into calling on her at her home,
into studying her books and plays on the top-floor sitting-room, into
hearing her sing.  Once fully in his arms, the rest was easy by
suggestion.  He learned she was no longer innocent, and then-- In the
mean time Cowperwood mingled his speculations concerning large
power-houses, immense reciprocating engines, the problem of a wage
scale for his now two thousand employees, some of whom were threatening
to strike, the problem of securing, bonding, and equipping the La Salle
Street tunnel and a down-town loop in La Salle, Munroe, Dearborn, and
Randolph streets, with mental inquiries and pictures as to what
possibly Stephanie Platow might be doing.  He could only make
appointments with her from time to time.  He did not fail to note that,
after he began to make use of information she let drop as to her
whereabouts from day to day and her free companionship, he heard less
of Gardner Knowles, Lane Cross, and Forbes Gurney, and more of Georgia
Timberlake and Ethel Tuckerman.  Why this sudden reticence? On one
occasion she did say of Forbes Gurney "that he was having such a hard
time, and that his clothes weren't as nice as they should be, poor
dear!" Stephanie herself, owing to gifts made to her by Cowperwood, was
resplendent these days.  She took just enough to complete her wardrobe
according to her taste.

"Why not send him to me?" Cowperwood asked.  "I might find something to
do for him." He would have been perfectly willing to put him in some
position where he could keep track of his time.  However, Mr. Gurney
never sought him for a position, and Stephanie ceased to speak of his
poverty.  A gift of two hundred dollars, which Cowperwood made her in
June, was followed by an accidental meeting with her and Gurney in
Washington Street.  Mr. Gurney, pale and pleasant, was very well
dressed indeed.  He wore a pin which Cowperwood knew had once belonged
to Stephanie.  She was in no way confused.  Finally Stephanie let it
out that Lane Cross, who had gone to New Hampshire for the summer, had
left his studio in her charge.  Cowperwood decided to have this studio
watched.

There was in Cowperwood's employ at this time a young newspaper man, an
ambitious spark aged twenty-six, by the name of Francis Kennedy.  He
had written a very intelligent article for the Sunday Inquirer,
describing Cowperwood and his plans, and pointing out what a remarkable
man he was.  This pleased Cowperwood.  When Kennedy called one day,
announcing smartly that he was anxious to get out of reportorial work,
and inquiring whether he couldn't find something to do in the
street-railway world, Cowperwood saw in him a possibly useful tool.

"I'll try you out as secretary for a while," he said, pleasantly.
"There are a few special things I want done.  If you succeed in those,
I may find something else for you later."

Kennedy had been working for him only a little while when he said to
him one day: "Francis, did you ever hear of a young man by the name of
Forbes Gurney in the newspaper world?"

They were in Cowperwood's private office.

"No, sir," replied Francis, briskly.

"You have heard of an organization called the Garrick Players, haven't
you?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, Francis, do you suppose you could undertake a little piece of
detective work for me, and handle it intelligently and quietly?"

"I think so," said Francis, who was the pink of perfection this morning
in a brown suit, garnet tie, and sard sleeve-links.  His shoes were
immaculately polished, and his young, healthy face glistened.

"I'll tell you what I want you to do.  There is a young actress, or
amateur actress, by the name of Stephanie Platow, who frequents the
studio of an artist named Cross in the New Arts Building.  She may even
occupy it in his absence--I don't know.  I want you to find out for me
what the relations of Mr. Gurney and this woman are.  I have certain
business reasons for wanting to know."

Young Kennedy was all attention.

"You couldn't tell me where I could find out anything about this Mr.
Gurney to begin with, could you?" he asked.

"I think he is a friend of a critic here by the name of Gardner
Knowles.  You might ask him.  I need not say that you must never
mention me.

"Oh, I understand that thoroughly, Mr. Cowperwood." Young Kennedy
departed, meditating.  How was he to do this? With true journalistic
skill he first sought other newspaper men, from whom he learned--a bit
from one and a scrap from another--of the character of the Garrick
Players, and of the women who belonged to it.  He pretended to be
writing a one-act play, which he hoped to have produced.

He then visited Lane Cross's studio, posing as a newspaper interviewer.
Mr. Cross was out of town, so the elevator man said. His studio was
closed.

Mr. Kennedy meditated on this fact for a moment.

"Does any one use his studio during the summer months?" he asked.

"I believe there is a young woman who comes here--yes."

"You don't happen to know who it is?"

"Yes, I do.  Her name is Platow.  What do you want to know for?"

"Looky here," exclaimed Kennedy, surveying the rather shabby attendant
with a cordial and persuasive eye, "do you want to make some
money--five or ten dollars, and without any trouble to you?"

The elevator man, whose wages were exactly eight dollars a week,
pricked up his ears.

"I want to know who comes here with this Miss Platow, when they
come--all about it.  I'll make it fifteen dollars if I find out what I
want, and I'll give you five right now."

The elevator factotum had just sixty-five cents in his pocket at the
time.  He looked at Kennedy with some uncertainty and much desire.

"Well, what can I do?" he repeated.  "I'm not here after six.  The
janitor runs this elevator from six to twelve."

"There isn't a room vacant anywhere near this one, is there?" Kennedy
asked, speculatively.

The factotum thought.  "Yes, there is.  One just across the hall."

"What time does she come here as a rule?"

"I don't know anything about nights.  In the day she sometimes comes
mornings, sometimes in the afternoon."

"Anybody with her?"

"Sometimes a man, sometimes a girl or two.  I haven't really paid much
attention to her, to tell you the truth."

Kennedy walked away whistling.

From this day on Mr. Kennedy became a watcher over this very
unconventional atmosphere.  He was in and out, principally observing
the comings and goings of Mr. Gurney.  He found what he naturally
suspected, that Mr. Gurney and Stephanie spent hours here at peculiar
times--after a company of friends had jollified, for instance, and all
had left, including Gurney, when the latter would quietly return, with
Stephanie sometimes, if she had left with the others, alone if she had
remained behind.  The visits were of varying duration, and Kennedy, to
be absolutely accurate, kept days, dates, the duration of the hours,
which he left noted in a sealed envelope for Cowperwood in the morning.
Cowperwood was enraged, but so great was his interest in Stephanie that
he was not prepared to act.  He wanted to see to what extent her
duplicity would go.

The novelty of this atmosphere and its effect on him was astonishing.
Although his mind was vigorously employed during the day, nevertheless
his thoughts kept returning constantly.  Where was she? What was she
doing? The bland way in which she could lie reminded him of himself.
To think that she should prefer any one else to him, especially at this
time when he was shining as a great constructive factor in the city,
was too much.  It smacked of age, his ultimate displacement by youth.
It cut and hurt.

One morning, after a peculiarly exasperating night of thought
concerning her, he said to young Kennedy: "I have a suggestion for you.
I wish you would get this elevator man you are working with down there
to get you a duplicate key to this studio, and see if there is a bolt
on the inside.  Let me know when you do.  Bring me the key.  The next
time she is there of an evening with Mr. Gurney step out and telephone
me."

The climax came one night several weeks after this discouraging
investigation began.  There was a heavy yellow moon in the sky, and a
warm, sweet summer wind was blowing.  Stephanie had called on
Cowperwood at his office about four to say that instead of staying
down-town with him, as they had casually planned, she was going to her
home on the West Side to attend a garden-party of some kind at Georgia
Timberlake's.  Cowperwood looked at her with--for him--a morbid eye.
He was all cheer, geniality, pleasant badinage; but he was thinking all
the while what a shameless enigma she was, how well she played her
part, what a fool she must take him to be.  He gave her youth, her
passion, her attractiveness, her natural promiscuity of soul due
credit; but he could not forgive her for not loving him perfectly, as
had so many others.  She had on a summery black-and-white frock and a
fetching brown Leghorn hat, which, with a rich-red poppy ornamenting a
flare over her left ear and a peculiar ruching of white-and-black silk
about the crown, made her seem strangely young, debonair, a study in
Hebraic and American origins.

"Going to have a nice time, are you?" he asked, genially, politically,
eying her in his enigmatic and inscrutable way.  "Going to shine among
that charming company you keep! I suppose all the standbys will be
there--Bliss Bridge, Mr. Knowles, Mr. Cross--dancing attendance on you?"

He failed to mention Mr. Gurney.

Stephanie nodded cheerfully.  She seemed in an innocent outing mood.

Cowperwood smiled, thinking how one of these days--very shortly,
perhaps--he was certain to take a signal revenge.  He would catch her
in a lie, in a compromising position somewhere--in this studio,
perhaps--and dismiss her with contempt.  In an elder day, if they had
lived in Turkey, he would have had her strangled, sewn in a sack, and
thrown into the Bosporus.  As it was, he could only dismiss her.  He
smiled and smiled, smoothing her hand.  "Have a good time," he called,
as she left.  Later, at his own home--it was nearly midnight--Mr.
Kennedy called him up.

"Mr. Cowperwood?"

"Yes."

"You know the studio in the New Arts Building?"

"Yes."

"It is occupied now."

Cowperwood called a servant to bring him his runabout.  He had had a
down-town locksmith make a round keystem with a bored clutch at the end
of it--a hollow which would fit over the end of such a key as he had to
the studio and turn it easily from the outside.  He felt in his pocket
for it, jumped in his runabout, and hurried away.  When he reached the
New Arts Building he found Kennedy in the hall and dismissed him.
"Thanks," he observed, brusquely. "I will take care of this."

He hurried up the stairs, avoiding the elevator, to the vacant room
opposite, and thence reconnoitered the studio door.  It was as Kennedy
had reported.  Stephanie was there, and with Gurney. The pale poet had
been brought there to furnish her an evening of delight.  Because of
the stillness of the building at this hour he could hear their muffled
voices speaking alternately, and once Stephanie singing the refrain of
a song.  He was angry and yet grateful that she had, in her genial way,
taken the trouble to call and assure him that she was going to a summer
lawn-party and dance.  He smiled grimly, sarcastically, as he thought
of her surprise.  Softly he extracted the clutch-key and inserted it,
covering the end of the key on the inside and turning it.  It gave
solidly without sound.  He next tried the knob and turned it, feeling
the door spring slightly as he did so.  Then inaudibly, because of a
gurgled laugh with which he was thoroughly familiar, he opened it and
stepped in.

At his rough, firm cough they sprang up--Gurney to a hiding position
behind a curtain, Stephanie to one of concealment behind draperies on
the couch.  She could not speak, and could scarcely believe that her
eyes did not deceive her.  Gurney, masculine and defiant, but by no
means well composed, demanded: "Who are you? What do you want here?"
Cowperwood replied very simply and smilingly: "Not very much.  Perhaps
Miss Platow there will tell you." He nodded in her direction.

Stephanie, fixed by his cold, examining eye, shrank nervously, ignoring
Gurney entirely.  The latter perceived on the instant that he had a
previous liaison to deal with--an angry and outraged lover--and he was
not prepared to act either wisely or well.

"Mr. Gurney," said Cowperwood, complacently, after staring at Stephanie
grimly and scorching her with his scorn, "I have no concern with you,
and do not propose to do anything to disturb you or Miss Platow after a
very few moments.  I am not here without reason.  This young woman has
been steadily deceiving me.  She has lied to me frequently, and
pretended an innocence which I did not believe.  To-night she told me
she was to be at a lawn-party on the West Side.  She has been my
mistress for months.  I have given her money, jewelry, whatever she
wanted.  Those jade ear-rings, by the way, are one of my gifts." He
nodded cheerfully in Stephanie's direction.  "I have come here simply
to prove to her that she cannot lie to me any more.  Heretofore, every
time I have accused her of things like this she has cried and lied.  I
do not know how much you know of her, or how fond you are of her.  I
merely wish her, not you, to know"--and he turned and stared at
Stephanie--"that the day of her lying to me is over."

During this very peculiar harangue Stephanie, who, nervous, fearful,
fixed, and yet beautiful, remained curled up in the corner of the
suggestive oriental divan, had been gazing at Cowperwood in a way which
plainly attested, trifle as she might with others, that she was
nevertheless fond of him--intensely so.  His strong, solid figure,
confronting her so ruthlessly, gripped her imagination, of which she
had a world.  She had managed to conceal her body in part, but her
brown arms and shoulders, her bosom, trim knees, and feet were exposed
in part.  Her black hair and naive face were now heavy, distressed,
sad.  She was frightened really, for Cowperwood at bottom had always
overawed her--a strange, terrible, fascinating man.  Now she sat and
looked, seeking still to lure him by the pathetic cast of her face and
soul, while Cowperwood, scornful of her, and almost openly contemptuous
of her lover, and his possible opposition, merely stood smiling before
them.  It came over her very swiftly now just what it was she was
losing--a grim, wonderful man.  Beside him Gurney, the pale poet, was
rather thin--a mere breath of romance.  She wanted to say something, to
make a plea; but it was so plain Cowperwood would have none of it, and,
besides, here was Gurney.  Her throat clogged, her eyes filled, even
here, and a mystical bog-fire state of emotion succeeded the primary
one of opposition.  Cowperwood knew the look well.  It gave him the
only sense of triumph he had.

"Stephanie," he remarked, "I have just one word to say to you now. We
will not meet any more, of course.  You are a good actress. Stick to
your profession.  You may shine in it if you do not merge it too
completely with your loves.  As for being a free lover, it isn't
incompatible with what you are, perhaps, but it isn't socially
advisable for you.  Good night."

He turned and walked quickly out.

"Oh, Frank," called Stephanie, in a strange, magnetized, despairing
way, even in the face of her astonished lover.  Gurney stared with his
mouth open.

Cowperwood paid no heed.  Out he went through the dark hall and down
the stairs.  For once the lure of a beautiful, enigmatic, immoral, and
promiscuous woman--poison flower though she was--was haunting him.
"D-- her!" he exclaimed.  "D-- the little beast, anyhow! The ----! The
----!" He used terms so hard, so vile, so sad, all because he knew for
once what it was to love and lose--to want ardently in his way and not
to have--now or ever after.  He was determined that his path and that
of Stephanie Platow should never be allowed to cross again.




Chapter XXIX

A Family Quarrel


It chanced that shortly before this liaison was broken off, some
troubling information was quite innocently conveyed to Aileen by
Stephanie Platow's own mother.  One day Mrs. Platow, in calling on Mrs.
Cowperwood, commented on the fact that Stephanie was gradually
improving in her art, that the Garrick Players had experienced a great
deal of trouble, and that Stephanie was shortly to appear in a new
role--something Chinese.

"That was such a charming set of jade you gave her," she volunteered,
genially.  "I only saw it the other day for the first time.  She never
told me about it before.  She prizes it so very highly, that I feel as
though I ought to thank you myself."

Aileen opened her eyes.  "Jade!" she observed, curiously.  "Why, I
don't remember." Recalling Cowperwood's proclivities on the instant,
she was suspicious, distraught.  Her face showed her perplexity.

"Why, yes," replied Mrs. Platow, Aileen's show of surprise troubling
her.  "The ear-rings and necklet, you know.  She said you gave them to
her."

"To be sure," answered Aileen, catching herself as by a hair.  "I do
recall it now.  But it was Frank who really gave them.  I hope she
likes them."

She smiled sweetly.

"She thinks they're beautiful, and they do become her," continued Mrs.
Platow, pleasantly, understanding it all, as she fancied. The truth was
that Stephanie, having forgotten, had left her make-up box open one day
at home, and her mother, rummaging in her room for something, had
discovered them and genially confronted her with them, for she knew the
value of jade.  Nonplussed for the moment, Stephanie had lost her
mental, though not her outward, composure and referred them back
casually to an evening at the Cowperwood home when Aileen had been
present and the gauds had been genially forced upon her.

Unfortunately for Aileen, the matter was not to be allowed to rest just
so, for going one afternoon to a reception given by Rhees Crier, a
young sculptor of social proclivities, who had been introduced to her
by Taylor Lord, she was given a taste of what it means to be a
neglected wife from a public point of view.  As she entered on this
occasion she happened to overhear two women talking in a corner behind
a screen erected to conceal wraps. "Oh, here comes Mrs. Cowperwood,"
said one.  "She's the street-railway magnate's wife.  Last winter and
spring he was running with that Platow girl--of the Garrick Players,
you know."

The other nodded, studying Aileen's splendiferous green--velvet gown
with envy.

"I wonder if she's faithful to him?" she queried, while Aileen strained
to hear.  "She looks daring enough."

Aileen managed to catch a glimpse of her observers later, when they
were not looking, and her face showed her mingled resentment and
feeling; but it did no good.  The wretched gossipers had wounded her in
the keenest way.  She was hurt, angry, nonplussed.  To think that
Cowperwood by his variability should expose her to such gossip as this!

One day not so long after her conversation with Mrs. Platow, Aileen
happened to be standing outside the door of her own boudoir, the
landing of which commanded the lower hall, and there overheard two of
her servants discussing the Cowperwood menage in particular and Chicago
life in general.  One was a tall, angular girl of perhaps twenty-seven
or eight, a chambermaid, the other a short, stout woman of forty who
held the position of assistant housekeeper. They were pretending to
dust, though gossip conducted in a whisper was the matter for which
they were foregathered.  The tall girl had recently been employed in
the family of Aymar Cochrane, the former president of the Chicago West
Division Railway, and now a director of the new West Chicago Street
Railway Company.

"And I was that surprised," Aileen heard this girl saying, "to think I
should be coming here.  I cud scarcely believe me ears when they told
me.  Why, Miss Florence was runnin' out to meet him two and three times
in the week.  The wonder to me was that her mother never guessed."

"Och," replied the other, "he's the very divil and all when it comes to
the wimmin."  (Aileen did not see the upward lift of the hand that
accompanied this).  "There was a little girl that used to come here.
Her father lives up the street here.  Haguenin is his name.  He owns
that morning paper, the Press, and has a fine house up the street here
a little way.  Well, I haven't seen her very often of late, but more
than once I saw him kissing her in this very room.  Sure his wife knows
all about it.  Depend on it.  She had an awful fight with some woman
here onct, so I hear, some woman that he was runnin' with and bringin'
here to the house.  I hear it's somethin' terrible the way she beat her
up--screamin' and carryin' on.  Oh, they're the divil, these men, when
it comes to the wimmin."

A slight rustling sound from somewhere sent the two gossipers on their
several ways, but Aileen had heard enough to understand. What was she
to do? How was she to learn more of these new women, of whom she had
never heard at all? She at once suspected Florence Cochrane, for she
knew that this servant had worked in the Cochrane family.  And then
Cecily Haguenin, the daughter of the editor with whom they were on the
friendliest terms! Cowperwood kissing her! Was there no end to his
liaisons--his infidelity?

She returned, fretting and grieving, to her room, where she meditated
and meditated, wondering whether she should leave him, wondering
whether she should reproach him openly, wondering whether she should
employ more detectives.  What good would it do? She had employed
detectives once.  Had it prevented the Stephanie Platow incident? Not
at all.  Would it prevent other liaisons in the future? Very likely
not.  Obviously her home life with Cowperwood was coming to a complete
and disastrous end.  Things could not go on in this way.  She had done
wrong, possibly, in taking him away from Mrs. Cowperwood number one,
though she could scarcely believe that, for Mrs. Lillian Cowperwood was
so unsuited to him--but this repayment! If she had been at all
superstitious or religious, and had known her Bible, which she didn't,
she might have quoted to herself that very fatalistic statement of the
New Testament, "With what measure ye mete it shall be measured unto you
again."

The truth was that Cowperwood's continued propensity to rove at liberty
among the fair sex could not in the long run fail of some results of an
unsatisfactory character.  Coincident with the disappearance of
Stephanie Platow, he launched upon a variety of episodes, the charming
daughter of so worthy a man as Editor Haguenin, his sincerest and most
sympathetic journalistic supporter; and the daughter of Aymar Cochrane,
falling victims, among others, to what many would have called his
wiles.  As a matter of fact, in most cases he was as much sinned
against as sinning, since the provocation was as much offered as given.

The manner in which he came to get in with Cecily Haguenin was simple
enough.  Being an old friend of the family, and a frequent visitor at
her father's house, he found this particular daughter of desire an easy
victim.  She was a vigorous blonde creature of twenty at this time,
very full and plump, with large, violet eyes, and with considerable
alertness of mind--a sort of doll girl with whom Cowperwood found it
pleasant to amuse himself.  A playful gamboling relationship had
existed between them when she was a mere child attending school, and
had continued through her college years whenever she happened to be at
home on a vacation.  In these very latest days when Cowperwood on
occasion sat in the Haguenin library consulting with the
journalist-publisher concerning certain moves which he wished to have
put right before the public he saw considerably more of Cecily.  One
night, when her father had gone out to look up the previous action of
the city council in connection with some matter of franchises, a series
of more or less sympathetic and understanding glances suddenly
culminated in Cecily's playfully waving a new novel, which she happened
to have in her hand, in Cowperwood's face; and he, in reply, laid hold
caressingly of her arms.

"You can't stop me so easily," she observed, banteringly.

"Oh yes, I can," he replied.

A slight struggle ensued, in which he, with her semiwilful connivance,
managed to manoeuver her into his arms, her head backward against his
shoulder.

"Well," she said, looking up at him with a semi-nervous,
semi-provocative glance, "now what? You'll just have to let me go."

"Not very soon, though."

"Oh yes, you will.  My father will be here in a moment."

"Well, not until then, anyhow.  You're getting to be the sweetest girl."

She did not resist, but remained gazing half nervously, half dreamily
at him, whereupon he smoothed her cheek, and then kissed her.  Her
father's returning step put an end to this; but from this point on
ascent or descent to a perfect understanding was easily made.

In the matter of Florence Cochrane, the daughter of Aymar Cochrane, the
president of the Chicago West Division Company--a second affair of the
period--the approach was only slightly different, the result the same.
This girl, to furnish only a brief impression, was a blonde of a
different type from Cecily--delicate, picturesque, dreamy.  She was
mildly intellectual at this time, engaged in reading Marlowe and
Jonson; and Cowperwood, busy in the matter of the West Chicago Street
Railway, and conferring with her father, was conceived by her as a
great personage of the Elizabethan order. In a tentative way she was in
revolt against an apple-pie order of existence which was being forced
upon her.  Cowperwood recognized the mood, trifled with her spiritedly,
looked into her eyes, and found the response he wanted.  Neither old
Aymar Cochrane nor his impeccably respectable wife ever discovered.

Subsequently Aileen, reflecting upon these latest developments, was
from one point of view actually pleased or eased.  There is always
safety in numbers, and she felt that if Cowperwood were going to go on
like this it would not be possible for him in the long run to take a
definite interest in any one; and so, all things considered, and other
things being equal, he would probably just as leave remain married to
her as not.

But what a comment, she could not help reflecting, on her own charms!
What an end to an ideal union that had seemed destined to last all
their days! She, Aileen Butler, who in her youth had deemed herself the
peer of any girl in charm, force, beauty, to be shoved aside thus early
in her life--she was only forty--by the younger generation.  And such
silly snips as they were--Stephanie Platow! and Cecily Haguenin! and
Florence Cochrane, in all likelihood another pasty-faced beginner! And
here she was--vigorous, resplendent, smooth of face and body, her
forehead, chin, neck, eyes without a wrinkle, her hair a rich golden
reddish glow, her step springing, her weight no more than one hundred
and fifty pounds for her very normal height, with all the advantages of
a complete toilet cabinet, jewels, clothing, taste, and skill in
material selection--being elbowed out by these upstarts.  It was almost
unbelievable.  It was so unfair.  Life was so cruel, Cowperwood so
temperamentally unbalanced.  Dear God! to think that this should be
true! Why should he not love her? She studied her beauty in the mirror
from time to time, and raged and raged.  Why was her body not
sufficient for him? Why should he deem any one more beautiful? Why
should he not be true to his reiterated protestations that he cared for
her? Other men were true to other women.  Her father had been faithful
to her mother.  At the thought of her own father and his opinion of her
conduct she winced, but it did not change her point of view as to her
present rights.  See her hair! See her eyes! See her smooth,
resplendent arms! Why should Cowperwood not love her? Why, indeed?

One night, shortly afterward, she was sitting in her boudoir reading,
waiting for him to come home, when the telephone-bell sounded and he
informed her that he was compelled to remain at the office late.
Afterward he said he might be obliged to run on to Pittsburg for
thirty-six hours or thereabouts; but he would surely be back on the
third day, counting the present as one.  Aileen was chagrined.  Her
voice showed it.  They had been scheduled to go to dinner with the
Hoecksemas, and afterward to the theater. Cowperwood suggested that she
should go alone, but Aileen declined rather sharply; she hung up the
receiver without even the pretense of a good-by.  And then at ten
o'clock he telephoned again, saying that he had changed his mind, and
that if she were interested to go anywhere--a later supper, or the
like--she should dress, otherwise he would come home expecting to
remain.

Aileen immediately concluded that some scheme he had had to amuse
himself had fallen through.  Having spoiled her evening, he was coming
home to make as much hay as possible out of this bit of sunshine.  This
infuriated her.  The whole business of uncertainty in the matter of his
affections was telling on her nerves.  A storm was in order, and it had
come.  He came bustling in a little later, slipped his arms around her
as she came forward and kissed her on the mouth.  He smoothed her arms
in a make-believe and yet tender way, and patted her shoulders.  Seeing
her frown, he inquired, "What's troubling Babykins?"

"Oh, nothing more than usual," replied Aileen, irritably.  "Let's not
talk about that.  Have you had your dinner?"

"Yes, we had it brought in." He was referring to McKenty, Addison, and
himself, and the statement was true.  Being in an honest position for
once, he felt called upon to justify himself a little. "It couldn't be
avoided to-night.  I'm sorry that this business takes up so much of my
time, but I'll get out of it some day soon. Things are bound to ease
up."

Aileen withdrew from his embrace and went to her dressing-table. A
glance showed her that her hair was slightly awry, and she smoothed it
into place.  She looked at her chin, and then went back to her
book--rather sulkily, he thought.

"Now, Aileen, what's the trouble?" he inquired.  "Aren't you glad to
have me up here? I know you have had a pretty rough road of it of late,
but aren't you willing to let bygones be bygones and trust to the
future a little?"

"The future! The future! Don't talk to me about the future.  It's
little enough it holds in store for me," she replied.

Cowperwood saw that she was verging on an emotional storm, but he
trusted to his powers of persuasion, and her basic affection for him,
to soothe and quell her.

"I wish you wouldn't act this way, pet," he went on.  "You know I have
always cared for you.  You know I always shall.  I'll admit that there
are a lot of little things which interfere with my being at home as
much as I would like at present; but that doesn't alter the fact that
my feeling is the same.  I should think you could see that."

"Feeling! Feeling!" taunted Aileen, suddenly.  "Yes, I know how much
feeling you have.  You have feeling enough to give other women sets of
jade and jewels, and to run around with every silly little snip you
meet.  You needn't come home here at ten o'clock, when you can't go
anywhere else, and talk about feeling for me.  I know how much feeling
you have.  Pshaw!"

She flung herself irritably back in her chair and opened her book.
Cowperwood gazed at her solemnly, for this thrust in regard to
Stephanie was a revelation.  This woman business could grow peculiarly
exasperating at times.

"What do you mean, anyhow?" he observed, cautiously and with much
seeming candor.  "I haven't given any jade or jewels to any one, nor
have I been running around with any 'little snips,' as you call them.
I don't know what you are talking about, Aileen."

"Oh, Frank," commented Aileen, wearily and incredulously, "you lie so!
Why do you stand there and lie? I'm so tired of it; I'm so sick of it
all.  How should the servants know of so many things to talk of here if
they weren't true? I didn't invite Mrs. Platow to come and ask me why
you had given her daughter a set of jade. I know why you lie; you want
to hush me up and keep quiet.  You're afraid I'll go to Mr. Haguenin or
Mr. Cochrane or Mr. Platow, or to all three.  Well, you can rest your
soul on that score.  I won't.  I'm sick of you and your lies.
Stephanie Platow--the thin stick! Cecily Haguenin--the little piece of
gum! And Florence Cochrane--she looks like a dead fish!" (Aileen had a
genius for characterization at times.) "If it just weren't for the way
I acted toward my family in Philadelphia, and the talk it would create,
and the injury it would do you financially, I'd act to-morrow.  I'd
leave you--that's what I'd do.  And to think that I should ever have
believed that you really loved me, or could care for any woman
permanently.  Bosh! But I don't care.  Go on! Only I'll tell you one
thing.  You needn't think I'm going to go on enduring all this as I
have in the past.  I'm not.  You're not going to deceive me always.
I'm not going to stand it.  I'm not so old yet.  There are plenty of
men who will be glad to pay me attention if you won't.  I told you once
that I wouldn't be faithful to you if you weren't to me, and I won't
be.  I'll show you.  I'll go with other men.  I will! I will! I swear
it."

"Aileen," he asked, softly, pleadingly, realizing the futility of
additional lies under such circumstances, "won't you forgive me this
time? Bear with me for the present.  I scarcely understand myself at
times.  I am not like other men.  You and I have run together a long
time now.  Why not wait awhile? Give me a chance! See if I do not
change.  I may."

"Oh yes, wait! Change.  You may change.  Haven't I waited? Haven't I
walked the floor night after night! when you haven't been here? Bear
with you--yes, yes! Who's to bear with me when my heart is breaking?
Oh, God!" she suddenly added, with passionate vigor, "I'm miserable!
I'm miserable! My heart aches! It aches!"

She clutched her breast and swung from the room, moving with that
vigorous stride that had once appealed to him so, and still did. Alas,
alas! it touched him now, but only as a part of a very shifty and cruel
world.  He hurried out of the room after her, and (as at the time of
the Rita Sohlberg incident) slipped his arm about her waist; but she
pulled away irritably.  "No, no!" she exclaimed. "Let me alone.  I'm
tired of that."

"You're really not fair to me, Aileen," with a great show of feeling
and sincerity.  "You're letting one affair that came between us blind
your whole point of view.  I give you my word I haven't been unfaithful
to you with Stephanie Platow or any other woman.  I may have flirted
with them a little, but that is really nothing.  Why not be sensible?
I'm not as black as you paint me.  I'm moving in big matters that are
as much for your concern and future as for mine.  Be sensible, be
liberal."

There was much argument--the usual charges and countercharges--but,
finally, because of her weariness of heart, his petting, the
unsolvability of it all, she permitted him for the time being to
persuade her that there were still some crumbs of affection left. She
was soul-sick, heartsick.  Even he, as he attempted to soothe her,
realized clearly that to establish the reality of his love in her
belief he would have to make some much greater effort to entertain and
comfort her, and that this, in his present mood, and with his leaning
toward promiscuity, was practically impossible. For the time being a
peace might be patched up, but in view of what she expected of him--her
passion and selfish individuality--it could not be.  He would have to
go on, and she would have to leave him, if needs be; but he could not
cease or go back.  He was too passionate, too radiant, too individual
and complex to belong to any one single individual alone.




Chapter XXX

Obstacles


The impediments that can arise to baffle a great and swelling career
are strange and various.  In some instances all the cross-waves of life
must be cut by the strong swimmer.  With other personalities there is a
chance, or force, that happily allies itself with them; or they quite
unconsciously ally themselves with it, and find that there is a tide
that bears them on.  Divine will? Not necessarily.  There is no
understanding of it.  Guardian spirits? There are many who so believe,
to their utter undoing. (Witness Macbeth).  An unconscious drift in the
direction of right, virtue, duty? These are banners of mortal
manufacture.  Nothing is proved; all is permitted.

Not long after Cowperwood's accession to control on the West Side, for
instance, a contest took place between his corporation and a citizen by
the name of Redmond Purdy--real-estate investor, property-trader, and
money-lender--which set Chicago by the ears. The La Salle and
Washington Street tunnels were now in active service, but because of
the great north and south area of the West Side, necessitating the
cabling of Van Buren Street and Blue Island Avenue, there was need of a
third tunnel somewhere south of Washington Street, preferably at Van
Buren Street, because the business heart was thus more directly
reached.  Cowperwood was willing and anxious to build this tunnel,
though he was puzzled how to secure from the city a right of way under
Van Buren Street, where a bridge loaded with heavy traffic now swung.
There were all sorts of complications.  In the first place, the consent
of the War Department at Washington had to be secured in order to
tunnel under the river at all.  Secondly, the excavation, if directly
under the bridge, might prove an intolerable nuisance, necessitating
the closing or removal of the bridge.  Owing to the critical, not to
say hostile, attitude of the newspapers which, since the La Salle and
Washington tunnel grants, were following his every move with a
searchlight, Cowperwood decided not to petition the city for privileges
in this case, but instead to buy the property rights of sufficient land
just north of the bridge, where the digging of the tunnel could proceed
without interference.

The piece of land most suitable for this purpose, a lot 150 x 150,
lying a little way from the river-bank, and occupied by a seven-story
loft-building, was owned by the previously mentioned Redmond Purdy, a
long, thin, angular, dirty person, who wore celluloid collars and cuffs
and spoke with a nasal intonation.

Cowperwood had the customary overtures made by seemingly disinterested
parties endeavoring to secure the land at a fair price.  But Purdy, who
was as stingy as a miser and as incisive as a rat-trap, had caught wind
of the proposed tunnel scheme.  He was all alive for a fine profit.
"No, no, no," he declared, over and over, when approached by the
representatives of Mr. Sylvester Toomey, Cowperwood's ubiquitous
land-agent.  "I don't want to sell.  Go away."

Mr. Sylvester Toomey was finally at his wit's end, and complained to
Cowperwood, who at once sent for those noble beacons of dark and stormy
waters, General Van Sickle and the Hon. Kent Barrows McKibben.  The
General was now becoming a little dolty, and Cowperwood was thinking of
pensioning him; but McKibben was in his prime--smug, handsome, deadly,
smooth.  After talking it over with Mr. Toomey they returned to
Cowperwood's office with a promising scheme.  The Hon. Nahum
Dickensheets, one of the judges of the State Court of Appeals, and a
man long since attached, by methods which need not here be described,
to Cowperwood's star, had been persuaded to bring his extensive
technical knowledge to bear on the emergency.  At his suggestion the
work of digging the tunnel was at once begun--first at the east or
Franklin Street end; then, after eight months' digging, at the west or
Canal Street end.  A shaft was actually sunk some thirty feet back of
Mr. Purdy's building--between it and the river--while that gentleman
watched with a quizzical gleam in his eye this defiant procedure.  He
was sure that when it came to the necessity of annexing his property
the North and West Chicago Street Railways would be obliged to pay
through the nose.

"Well, I'll be cussed," he frequently observed to himself, for he could
not see how his exaction of a pound of flesh was to be evaded, and yet
he felt strangely restless at times.  Finally, when it became
absolutely necessary for Cowperwood to secure without further delay
this coveted strip, he sent for its occupant, who called in pleasant
anticipation of a profitable conversation; this should be worth a small
fortune to him.

"Mr. Purdy," observed Cowperwood, glibly, "you have a piece of land on
the other side of the river that I need.  Why don't you sell it to me?
Can't we fix this up now in some amicable way?"

He smiled while Purdy cast shrewd, wolfish glances about the place,
wondering how much he could really hope to exact.  The building, with
all its interior equipment, land, and all, was worth in the
neighborhood of two hundred thousand dollars.

"Why should I sell? The building is a good building.  It's as useful to
me as it would be to you.  I'm making money out of it."

"Quite true," replied Cowperwood, "but I am willing to pay you a fair
price for it.  A public utility is involved.  This tunnel will be a
good thing for the West Side and any other land you may own over there.
With what I will pay you you can buy more land in that neighborhood or
elsewhere, and make a good thing out of it.  We need to put this tunnel
just where it is, or I wouldn't trouble to argue with you.

"That's just it," replied Purdy, fixedly.  "You've gone ahead and dug
your tunnel without consulting me, and now you expect me to get out of
the way.  Well, I don't see that I'm called on to get out of there just
to please you."

"But I'll pay you a fair price."

"How much will you pay me?"

"How much do you want?"

Mr. Purdy scratched a fox-like ear.  "One million dollars."

"One million dollars!" exclaimed Cowperwood.  "Don't you think that's a
little steep, Mr. Purdy?"

"No," replied Purdy, sagely.  "It's not any more than it's worth."

Cowperwood sighed.

"I'm sorry," he replied, meditatively, "but this is really too much.
Wouldn't you take three hundred thousand dollars in cash now and
consider this thing closed?"

"One million," replied Purdy, looking sternly at the ceiling. "Very
well, Mr. Purdy," replied Cowperwood.  "I'm very sorry. It's plain to
me that we can't do business as I had hoped.  I'm willing to pay you a
reasonable sum; but what you ask is far too much--preposterous! Don't
you think you'd better reconsider? We might move the tunnel even yet."

"One million dollars," said Purdy.

"It can't be done, Mr. Purdy.  It isn't worth it.  Why won't you be
fair? Call it three hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars cash, and
my check to-night."

"I wouldn't take five or six hundred thousand dollars if you were to
offer it to me, Mr. Cowperwood, to-night or any other time.  I know my
rights."

"Very well, then," replied Cowperwood, "that's all I can say.  If you
won't sell, you won't sell.  Perhaps you'll change your mind later."

Mr. Purdy went out, and Cowperwood called in his lawyers and his
engineers.  One Saturday afternoon, a week or two later, when the
building in question had been vacated for the day, a company of three
hundred laborers, with wagons, picks, shovels, and dynamite sticks,
arrived.  By sundown of the next day (which, being Sunday, was a legal
holiday, with no courts open or sitting to issue injunctions) this
comely structure, the private property of Mr. Redmond Purdy, was
completely razed and a large excavation substituted in its stead.  The
gentleman of the celluloid cuffs and collars, when informed about nine
o'clock of this same Sunday morning that his building had been almost
completely removed, was naturally greatly perturbed.  A portion of the
wall was still standing when he arrived, hot and excited, and the
police were appealed to.

But, strange to say, this was of little avail, for they were shown a
writ of injunction issued by the court of highest jurisdiction,
presided over by the Hon. Nahum Dickensheets, which restrained all and
sundry from interfering.  (Subsequently on demand of another court this
remarkable document was discovered to have disappeared; the contention
was that it had never really existed or been produced at all.)

The demolition and digging proceeded.  Then began a scurrying of
lawyers to the door of one friendly judge after another.  There were
apoplectic cheeks, blazing eyes, and gasps for breath while the
enormity of the offense was being noised abroad.  Law is law, however.
Procedure is procedure, and no writ of injunction was either issuable
or returnable on a legal holiday, when no courts were sitting.
Nevertheless, by three o'clock in the afternoon an obliging magistrate
was found who consented to issue an injunction staying this terrible
crime.  By this time, however, the building was gone, the excavation
complete.  It remained merely for the West Chicago Street Railway
Company to secure an injunction vacating the first injunction, praying
that its rights, privileges, liberties, etc., be not interfered with,
and so creating a contest which naturally threw the matter into the
State Court of Appeals, where it could safely lie.  For several years
there were numberless injunctions, writs of errors, doubts, motions to
reconsider, threats to carry the matter from the state to the federal
courts on a matter of constitutional privilege, and the like.  The
affair was finally settled out of court, for Mr. Purdy by this time was
a more sensible man.  In the mean time, however, the newspapers had
been given full details of the transaction, and a storm of words
against Cowperwood ensued.

But more disturbing than the Redmond Purdy incident was the rivalry of
a new Chicago street-railway company.  It appeared first as an idea in
the brain of one James Furnivale Woolsen, a determined young Westerner
from California, and developed by degrees into consents and petitions
from fully two-thirds of the residents of various streets in the
extreme southwest section of the city where it was proposed the new
line should be located.  This same James Furnivale Woolsen, being an
ambitious person, was not to be so easily put down.  Besides the
consent and petitions, which Cowperwood could not easily get away from
him, he had a new form of traction then being tried out in several
minor cities--a form of electric propulsion by means of an overhead
wire and a traveling pole, which was said to be very economical, and to
give a service better than cables and cheaper even than horses.

Cowperwood had heard all about this new electric system some time
before, and had been studying it for several years with the greatest
interest, since it promised to revolutionize the whole business of
street-railroading.  However, having but so recently completed his
excellent cable system, he did not see that it was advisable to throw
it away.  The trolley was as yet too much of a novelty; certainly it
was not advisable to have it introduced into Chicago until he was ready
to introduce it himself--first on his outlying feeder lines, he
thought, then perhaps generally.

But before he could take suitable action against Woolsen, that engaging
young upstart, who was possessed of a high-power imagination and a gift
of gab, had allied himself with such interested investors as Truman
Leslie MacDonald, who saw here a heaven-sent opportunity of mulcting
Cowperwood, and Jordan Jules, once the president of the North Chicago
Gas Company, who had lost money through Cowperwood in the gas war.  Two
better instruments for goading a man whom they considered an enemy
could not well be imagined--Truman Leslie with his dark, waspish,
mistrustful, jealous eyes, and his slim, vital body; and Jordan Jules,
short, rotund, sandy, a sickly crop of thin, oily, light hair growing
down over his coat-collar, his forehead and crown glisteningly bald,
his eyes a seeking, searching, revengeful blue.  They in turn brought
in Samuel Blackman, once president of the South Side Gas Company;
Sunderland Sledd, of local railroad management and stock-investment
fame; and Norrie Simms, president of the Douglas Trust Company, who,
however, was little more than a fiscal agent.  The general feeling was
that Cowperwood's defensive tactics--which consisted in having the city
council refuse to act--could be easily met.

"Well, I think we can soon fix that," exclaimed young MacDonald, one
morning at a meeting.  "We ought to be able to smoke them out. A little
publicity will do it."

He appealed to his father, the editor of the Inquirer, but the latter
refused to act for the time being, seeing that his son was interested.
MacDonald, enraged at the do-nothing attitude of the council, invaded
that body and demanded of Alderman Dowling, still leader, why this
matter of the Chicago general ordinances was still lying unconsidered.
Mr. Dowling, a large, mushy, placid man with blue eyes, an iron frame,
and a beefy smile, vouchsafed the information that, although he was
chairman of the committee on streets and alleys, he knew nothing about
it.  "I haven't been payin' much attention to things lately," he
replied.

Mr. MacDonald went to see the remaining members of this same committee.
They were non-committal.  They would have to look into the matter.
Somebody claimed that there was a flaw in the petitions.

Evidently there was crooked work here somewhere.  Cowperwood was to
blame, no doubt.  MacDonald conferred with Blackman and Jordan Jules,
and it was determined that the council should be harried into doing its
duty.  This was a legitimate enterprise.  A new and better system of
traction was being kept out of the city.  Schryhart, since he was
offered an interest, and since there was considerable chance of his
being able to dominate the new enterprise, agreed that the ordinances
ought to be acted upon.  In consequence there was a renewed hubbub in
the newspapers.

It was pointed out through Schryhart's Chronicle, through Hyssop's and
Merrill's papers, and through the Inquirer that such a situation was
intolerable.  If the dominant party, at the behest of so sinister an
influence as Cowperwood, was to tie up all outside traction
legislation, there could be but one thing left--an appeal to the voters
of the city to turn the rascals out.  No party could survive such a
record of political trickery and financial jugglery. McKenty, Dowling,
Cowperwood, and others were characterized as unreasonable
obstructionists and debasing influences.  But Cowperwood merely smiled.
These were the caterwaulings of the enemy.  Later, when young MacDonald
threatened to bring legal action to compel the council to do its duty,
Cowperwood and his associates were not so cheerful.  A mandamus
proceeding, however futile, would give the newspapers great opportunity
for chatter; moreover, a city election was drawing near.  However,
McKenty and Cowperwood were by no means helpless.  They had offices,
jobs, funds, a well-organized party system, the saloons, the dives, and
those dark chambers where at late hours ballot-boxes are incontinently
stuffed.

Did Cowperwood share personally in all this? Not at all.  Or McKenty?
No.  In good tweed and fine linen they frequently conferred in the
offices of the Chicago Trust Company, the president's office of the
North Chicago Street Railway System, and Mr. Cowperwood's library.  No
dark scenes were ever enacted there.  But just the same, when the time
came, the Schryhart-Simms-MacDonald editorial combination did not win.
Mr. McKenty's party had the votes.  A number of the most flagrantly
debauched aldermen, it is true, were defeated; but what is an alderman
here and there? The newly elected ones, even in the face of
pre-election promises and vows, could be easily suborned or convinced.
So the anti-Cowperwood element was just where it was before; but the
feeling against him was much stronger, and considerable sentiment
generated in the public at large that there was something wrong with
the Cowperwood method of street-railway control.




Chapter XXXI

Untoward Disclosures


Coincident with these public disturbances and of subsequent hearing
upon them was the discovery by Editor Haguenin of Cowperwood's
relationship with Cecily.  It came about not through Aileen, who was no
longer willing to fight Cowperwood in this matter, but through
Haguenin's lady society editor, who, hearing rumors in the social
world, springing from heaven knows where, and being beholden to
Haguenin for many favors, had carried the matter to him in a very
direct way.  Haguenin, a man of insufficient worldliness in spite of
his journalistic profession, scarcely believed it. Cowperwood was so
suave, so commercial.  He had heard many things concerning him--his
past--but Cowperwood's present state in Chicago was such, it seemed to
him, as to preclude petty affairs of this kind.  Still, the name of his
daughter being involved, he took the matter up with Cecily, who under
pressure confessed.  She made the usual plea that she was of age, and
that she wished to live her own life--logic which she had gathered
largely from Cowperwood's attitude.  Haguenin did nothing about it at
first, thinking to send Cecily off to an aunt in Nebraska; but, finding
her intractable, and fearing some counter-advice or reprisal on the
part of Cowperwood, who, by the way, had indorsed paper to the extent
of one hundred thousand dollars for him, he decided to discuss matters
first. It meant a cessation of relations and some inconvenient
financial readjustments; but it had to be.  He was just on the point of
calling on Cowperwood when the latter, unaware as yet of the latest
development in regard to Cecily, and having some variation of his
council programme to discuss with Haguenin, asked him over the 'phone
to lunch.  Haguenin was much surprised, but in a way relieved. "I am
busy," he said, very heavily, "but cannot you come to the office some
time to-day? There is something I would like to see you about."

Cowperwood, imagining that there was some editorial or local political
development on foot which might be of interest to him, made an
appointment for shortly after four.  He drove to the publisher's office
in the Press Building, and was greeted by a grave and almost despondent
man.

"Mr. Cowperwood," began Haguenin, when the financier entered, smart and
trig, his usual air of genial sufficiency written all over him, "I have
known you now for something like fourteen years, and during this time I
have shown you nothing but courtesy and good will.  It is true that
quite recently you have done me various financial favors, but that was
more due, I thought, to the sincere friendship you bore me than to
anything else.  Quite accidentally I have learned of the relationship
that exists between you and my daughter.  I have recently spoken to
her, and she admitted all that I need to know.  Common decency, it
seems to me, might have suggested to you that you leave my child out of
the list of women you have degraded.  Since it has not, I merely wish
to say to you"--and Mr. Haguenin's face was very tense and white--"that
the relationship between you and me is ended.  The one hundred thousand
dollars you have indorsed for me will be arranged for otherwise as soon
as possible, and I hope you will return to me the stock of this paper
that you hold as collateral.  Another type of man, Mr. Cowperwood,
might attempt to make you suffer in another way. I presume that you
have no children of your own, or that if you have you lack the parental
instinct; otherwise you could not have injured me in this fashion.  I
believe that you will live to see that this policy does not pay in
Chicago or anywhere else."

Haguenin turned slowly on his heel toward his desk.  Cowperwood, who
had listened very patiently and very fixedly, without a tremor of an
eyelash, merely said: "There seems to be no common intellectual ground,
Mr. Haguenin, upon which you and I can meet in this matter. You cannot
understand my point of view.  I could not possibly adopt yours.
However, as you wish it, the stock will be returned to you upon receipt
of my indorsements.  I cannot say more than that."

He turned and walked unconcernedly out, thinking that it was too bad to
lose the support of so respectable a man, but also that he could do
without it.  It was silly the way parents insisted on their daughters
being something that they did not wish to be.

Haguenin stood by his desk after Cowperwood had gone, wondering where
he should get one hundred thousand dollars quickly, and also what he
should do to make his daughter see the error of her ways. It was an
astonishing blow he had received, he thought, in the house of a friend.
It occurred to him that Walter Melville Hyssop, who was succeeding
mightily with his two papers, might come to his rescue, and that later
he could repay him when the Press was more prosperous.  He went out to
his house in a quandary concerning life and chance; while Cowperwood
went to the Chicago Trust Company to confer with Videra, and later out
to his own home to consider how he should equalize this loss.  The
state and fate of Cecily Haguenin was not of so much importance as many
other things on his mind at this time.

Far more serious were his cogitations with regard to a liaison he had
recently ventured to establish with Mrs. Hosmer Hand, wife of an
eminent investor and financier.  Hand was a solid, phlegmatic,
heavy-thinking person who had some years before lost his first wife, to
whom he had been eminently faithful.  After that, for a period of years
he had been a lonely speculator, attending to his vast affairs; but
finally because of his enormous wealth, his rather presentable
appearance and social rank, he had been entrapped by much social
attention on the part of a Mrs. Jessie Drew Barrett into marrying her
daughter Caroline, a dashing skip of a girl who was clever, incisive,
calculating, and intensely gay.  Since she was socially ambitious, and
without much heart, the thought of Hand's millions, and how
advantageous would be her situation in case he should die, had enabled
her to overlook quite easily his heavy, unyouthful appearance and to
see him in the light of a lover.  There was criticism, of course.  Hand
was considered a victim, and Caroline and her mother designing minxes
and cats; but since the wealthy financier was truly ensnared it
behooved friends and future satellites to be courteous, and so they
were.  The wedding was very well attended.  Mrs. Hand began to give
house-parties, teas, musicales, and receptions on a lavish scale.

Cowperwood never met either her or her husband until he was well
launched on his street-car programme.  Needing two hundred and fifty
thousand dollars in a hurry, and finding the Chicago Trust Company, the
Lake City Bank, and other institutions heavily loaded with his
securities, he turned in a moment of inspirational thought to Hand.
Cowperwood was always a great borrower.  His paper was out in large
quantities.  He introduced himself frequently to powerful men in this
way, taking long or short loans at high or low rates of interest, as
the case might be, and sometimes finding some one whom he could work
with or use.  In the case of Hand, though the latter was ostensibly of
the enemies' camp--the Schryhart-Union-Gas-Douglas-Trust-Company
crowd--nevertheless Cowperwood had no hesitation in going to him.  He
wished to overcome or forestall any unfavorable impression.  Though
Hand, a solemn man of shrewd but honest nature, had heard a number of
unfavorable rumors, he was inclined to be fair and think the best.
Perhaps Cowperwood was merely the victim of envious rivals.

When the latter first called on him at his office in the Rookery
Building, he was most cordial.  "Come in, Mr. Cowperwood," he said. "I
have heard a great deal about you from one person and another--mostly
from the newspapers.  What can I do for you?"

Cowperwood exhibited five hundred thousand dollars' worth of West
Chicago Street Railway stock.  "I want to know if I can get two hundred
and fifty thousand dollars on those by to-morrow morning."

Hand, a placid man, looked at the securities peacefully.  "What's the
matter with your own bank?" He was referring to the Chicago Trust
Company.  "Can't it take care of them for you?"

"Loaded up with other things just now," smiled Cowperwood,
ingratiatingly.

"Well, if I can believe all the papers say, you're going to wreck these
roads or Chicago or yourself; but I don't live by the papers. How long
would you want it for?"

"Six months, perhaps.  A year, if you choose."

Hand turned over the securities, eying their gold seals.  "Five hundred
thousand dollars' worth of six per cent. West Chicago preferred," he
commented.  "Are you earning six per cent.?"

"We're earning eight right now.  You'll live to see the day when these
shares will sell at two hundred dollars and pay twelve per cent. at
that."

"And you've quadrupled the issue of the old company? Well, Chicago's
growing.  Leave them here until to-morrow or bring them back. Send over
or call me, and I'll tell you."

They talked for a little while on street-railway and corporation
matters.  Hand wanted to know something concerning West Chicago land--a
region adjoining Ravenswood.  Cowperwood gave him his best advice.

The next day he 'phoned, and the stocks, so Hand informed him, were
available.  He would send a check over.  So thus a tentative friendship
began, and it lasted until the relationship between Cowperwood and Mrs.
Hand was consummated and discovered.

In Caroline Barrett, as she occasionally preferred to sign herself,
Cowperwood encountered a woman who was as restless and fickle as
himself, but not so shrewd.  Socially ambitious, she was anything but
socially conventional, and she did not care for Hand.  Once married,
she had planned to repay herself in part by a very gay existence.  The
affair between her and Cowperwood had begun at a dinner at the
magnificent residence of Hand on the North Shore Drive overlooking the
lake.  Cowperwood had gone to talk over with her husband various
Chicago matters.  Mrs. Hand was excited by his risque reputation.  A
little woman in stature, with intensely white teeth, red lips which she
did not hesitate to rouge on occasion, brown hair, and small brown eyes
which had a gay, searching, defiant twinkle in them, she did her best
to be interesting, clever, witty, and she was.

"I know Frank Cowperwood by reputation, anyhow," she exclaimed, holding
out a small, white, jeweled hand, the nails of which at their juncture
with the flesh were tinged with henna, and the palms of which were
slightly rouged.  Her eyes blazed, and her teeth gleamed.  "One can
scarcely read of anything else in the Chicago papers."

Cowperwood returned his most winning beam.  "I'm delighted to meet you,
Mrs. Hand.  I have read of you, too.  But I hope you don't believe all
the papers say about me."

"And if I did it wouldn't hurt you in my estimation.  To do is to be
talked about in these days."

Cowperwood, because of his desire to employ the services of Hand, was
at his best.  He kept the conversation within conventional lines; but
all the while he was exchanging secret, unobserved smiles with Mrs.
Hand, whom he realized at once had married Hand for his money, and was
bent, under a somewhat jealous espionage, to have a good time anyhow.
There is a kind of eagerness that goes with those who are watched and
wish to escape that gives them a gay, electric awareness and sparkle in
the presence of an opportunity for release.  Mrs. Hand had this.
Cowperwood, a past master in this matter of femininity, studied her
hands, her hair, her eyes, her smile.  After some contemplation he
decided, other things being equal, that Mrs. Hand would do, and that he
could be interested if she were very much interested in him.  Her
telling eyes and smiles, the heightened color of her cheeks indicated
after a time that she was.

Meeting him on the street one day not long after they had first met,
she told him that she was going for a visit to friends at Oconomowoc,
in Wisconsin.

"I don't suppose you ever get up that far north in summer, do you?" she
asked, with an air, and smiled.

"I never have," he replied; "but there's no telling what I might do if
I were bantered.  I suppose you ride and canoe?"

"Oh yes; and play tennis and golf, too."

"But where would a mere idler like me stay?"

"Oh, there are several good hotels.  There's never any trouble about
that.  I suppose you ride yourself?"

"After a fashion," replied Cowperwood, who was an expert.

Witness then the casual encounter on horseback, early one Sunday
morning in the painted hills of Wisconsin, of Frank Algernon Cowperwood
and Caroline Hand.  A jaunty, racing canter, side by side; idle talk
concerning people, scenery, conveniences; his usual direct suggestions
and love-making, and then, subsequently--

The day of reckoning, if such it might be called, came later.

Caroline Hand was, perhaps, unduly reckless.  She admired Cowperwood
greatly without really loving him.  He found her interesting,
principally because she was young, debonair, sufficient--a new type.
They met in Chicago after a time instead of in Wisconsin, then in
Detroit (where she had friends), then in Rockford, where a sister had
gone to live.  It was easy for him with his time and means.  Finally,
Duane Kingsland, wholesale flour merchant, religious, moral,
conventional, who knew Cowperwood and his repute, encountered Mrs. Hand
and Cowperwood first near Oconomowoc one summer's day, and later in
Randolph Street, near Cowperwood's bachelor rooms.  Being the man that
he was and knowing old Hand well, he thought it was his duty to ask the
latter if his wife knew Cowperwood intimately.  There was an explosion
in the Hand home.  Mrs. Hand, when confronted by her husband, denied,
of course, that there was anything wrong between her and Cowperwood.
Her elderly husband, from a certain telltale excitement and resentment
in her manner, did not believe this.  He thought once of confronting
Cowperwood; but, being heavy and practical, he finally decided to sever
all business relationships with him and fight him in other ways.  Mrs.
Hand was watched very closely, and a suborned maid discovered an old
note she had written to Cowperwood.  An attempt to persuade her to
leave for Europe--as old Butler had once attempted to send Aileen years
before--raised a storm of protest, but she went.  Hand, from being
neutral if not friendly, became quite the most dangerous and forceful
of all Cowperwood's Chicago enemies.  He was a powerful man.  His wrath
was boundless.  He looked upon Cowperwood now as a dark and dangerous
man--one of whom Chicago would be well rid.




Chapter XXXII

A Supper Party


Since the days in which Aileen had been left more or less lonely by
Cowperwood, however, no two individuals had been more faithful in their
attentions than Taylor Lord and Kent McKibben.  Both were fond of her
in a general way, finding her interesting physically and
temperamentally; but, being beholden to the magnate for many favors,
they were exceedingly circumspect in their attitude toward her,
particularly during those early years in which they knew that
Cowperwood was intensely devoted to her.  Later they were not so
careful.

It was during this latter period that Aileen came gradually, through
the agency of these two men, to share in a form of mid-world life that
was not utterly dull.  In every large city there is a kind of social
half world, where artists and the more adventurous of the socially
unconventional and restless meet for an exchange of things which cannot
be counted mere social form and civility.  It is the age-old world of
Bohemia.  Hither resort those "accidentals" of fancy that make the
stage, the drawing-room, and all the schools of artistic endeavor
interesting or peculiar.  In a number of studios in Chicago such as
those of Lane Cross and Rhees Crier, such little circles were to be
found.  Rhees Crier, for instance, a purely parlor artist, with all the
airs, conventions, and social adaptability of the tribe, had quite a
following.  Here and to several other places by turns Taylor Lord and
Kent McKibben conducted Aileen, both asking and obtaining permission to
be civil to her when Cowperwood was away.

Among the friends of these two at this time was a certain Polk Lynde,
an interesting society figure, whose father owned an immense reaper
works, and whose time was spent in idling, racing, gambling,
socializing--anything, in short, that it came into his head to do. He
was tall, dark, athletic, straight, muscular, with a small dark
mustache, dark, black-brown eyes, kinky black hair, and a fine, almost
military carriage--which he clothed always to the best advantage.  A
clever philanderer, it was quite his pride that he did not boast of his
conquests.  One look at him, however, by the initiated, and the story
was told.  Aileen first saw him on a visit to the studio of Rhees
Grier.  Being introduced to him very casually on this occasion, she was
nevertheless clearly conscious that she was encountering a fascinating
man, and that he was fixing her with a warm, avid eye.  For the moment
she recoiled from him as being a little too brazen in his stare, and
yet she admired the general appearance of him.  He was of that smart
world that she admired so much, and from which now apparently she was
hopelessly debarred.  That trig, bold air of his realized for her at
last the type of man, outside of Cowperwood, whom she would prefer
within limits to admire her.  If she were going to be "bad," as she
would have phrased it to herself, she would be "bad" with a man such as
he.  He would be winsome and coaxing, but at the same time strong,
direct, deliciously brutal, like her Frank.  He had, too, what
Cowperwood could not have, a certain social air or swagger which came
with idleness, much loafing, a sense of social superiority and
security--a devil-may-care insouciance which recks little of other
people's will or whims.

When she next saw him, which was several weeks later at an affair of
the Courtney Tabors, friends of Lord's, he exclaimed:

"Oh yes.  By George! You're the Mrs. Cowperwood I met several weeks ago
at Rhees Grier's studio.  I've not forgotten you.  I've seen you in my
eye all over Chicago.  Taylor Lord introduced me to you. Say, but
you're a beautiful woman!"

He leaned ingratiatingly, whimsically, admiringly near.

Aileen realized that for so early in the afternoon, and considering the
crowd, he was curiously enthusiastic.  The truth was that because of
some rounds he had made elsewhere he was verging toward too much
liquor.  His eye was alight, his color coppery, his air swagger,
devil-may-care, bacchanal.  This made her a little cautious; but she
rather liked his brown, hard face, handsome mouth, and crisp Jovian
curls.  His compliment was not utterly improper; but she nevertheless
attempted coyly to avoid him.

"Come, Polk, here's an old friend of yours over here--Sadie
Boutwell--she wants to meet you again," some one observed, catching him
by the arm.

"No, you don't," he exclaimed, genially, and yet at the same time a
little resentfully--the kind of disjointed resentment a man who has had
the least bit too much is apt to feel on being interrupted. "I'm not
going to walk all over Chicago thinking of a woman I've seen somewhere
only to be carried away the first time I do meet her.  I'm going to
talk to her first."

Aileen laughed.  "It's charming of you, but we can meet again, perhaps.
Besides, there's some one here"--Lord was tactfully directing her
attention to another woman.  Rhees Grier and McKibben, who were present
also, came to her assistance.  In the hubbub that ensued Aileen was
temporarily extricated and Lynde tactfully steered out of her way.  But
they had met again, and it was not to be the last time.  Subsequent to
this second meeting, Lynde thought the matter over quite calmly, and
decided that he must make a definite effort to become more intimate
with Aileen.  Though she was not as young as some others, she suited
his present mood exactly.  She was rich physically--voluptuous and
sentient.  She was not of his world precisely, but what of it? She was
the wife of an eminent financier, who had been in society once, and she
herself had a dramatic record.  He was sure of that.  He could win her
if he wanted to.  It would be easy, knowing her as he did, and knowing
what he did about her.

So not long after, Lynde ventured to invite her, with Lord, McKibben,
Mr. and Mrs. Rhees Grier, and a young girl friend of Mrs. Grier who was
rather attractive, a Miss Chrystobel Lanman, to a theater and supper
party.  The programme was to hear a reigning farce at Hooley's, then to
sup at the Richelieu, and finally to visit a certain exclusive
gambling-parlor which then flourished on the South Side--the resort of
actors, society gamblers, and the like--where roulette,
trente-et-quarante, baccarat, and the honest game of poker, to say
nothing of various other games of chance, could be played amid
exceedingly recherche surroundings.

The party was gay, especially after the adjournment to the Richelieu,
where special dishes of chicken, lobster, and a bucket of champagne
were served.  Later at the Alcott Club, as the gambling resort was
known, Aileen, according to Lynde, was to be taught to play baccarat,
poker, and any other game that she wished.  "You follow my advice, Mrs.
Cowperwood," he observed, cheerfully, at dinner--being host, he had put
her between himself and McKibben--"and I'll show you how to get your
money back anyhow.  That's more than some others can do," he added,
spiritedly, recalling by a look a recent occasion when he and McKibben,
being out with friends, the latter had advised liberally and had seen
his advice go wrong.

"Have you been gambling, Kent?" asked Aileen, archly, turning to her
long-time social mentor and friend.

"No, I can honestly say I haven't," replied McKibben, with a bland
smile.  "I may have thought I was gambling, but I admit I don't know
how.  Now Polk, here, wins all the time, don't you, Polk? Just follow
him."

A wry smile spread over Lynde's face at this, for it was on record in
certain circles that he had lost as much as ten and even fifteen
thousand in an evening.  He also had a record of winning twenty-five
thousand once at baccarat at an all-night and all-day sitting, and then
losing it.

Lynde all through the evening had been casting hard, meaning glances
into Aileen's eyes.  She could not avoid this, and she did not feel
that she wanted to.  He was so charming.  He was talking to her half
the time at the theater, without apparently addressing or even seeing
her.  Aileen knew well enough what was in his mind. At times, quite as
in those days when she had first met Cowperwood, she felt an unwilled
titillation in her blood.  Her eyes brightened. It was just possible
that she could come to love a man like this, although it would be hard.
It would serve Cowperwood right for neglecting her.  Yet even now the
shadow of Cowperwood was over her, but also the desire for love and a
full sex life.

In the gambling-rooms was gathered an interested and fairly smart
throng--actors, actresses, clubmen, one or two very emancipated women
of the high local social world, and a number of more or less
gentlemanly young gamblers.  Both Lord and McKibben began suggesting
column numbers for first plays to their proteges, while Lynde leaned
caressingly over Aileen's powdered shoulders.  "Let me put this on
quatre premier for you," he suggested, throwing down a twenty-dollar
gold piece.

"Oh, but let it be my money," complained Aileen.  "I want to play with
my money.  I won't feel that it's mine if I don't."

"Very well, but you can't just now.  You can't play with bills." She
was extracting a crisp roll from her purse.  "I'll have to exchange
them later for you for gold.  You can pay me then.  He's going to call
now, anyhow.  There you are.  He's done it.  Wait a moment.  You may
win." And he paused to study the little ball as it circled round and
round above the receiving pockets.

"Let me see.  How much do I get if I win quatre premier?" She was
trying to recall her experiences abroad.

"Ten for one," replied Lynde; "but you didn't get it.  Let's try it
once more for luck.  It comes up every so often--once in ten or twelve.
I've made it often on a first play.  How long has it been since the
last quatre premier?" he asked of a neighbor whom he recognized.

"Seven, I think, Polk.  Six or seven.  How's tricks?"

"Oh, so so." He turned again to Aileen.  "It ought to come up now soon.
I always make it a rule to double my plays each time.  It gets you back
all you've lost, some time or other." He put down two twenties.

"Goodness," she exclaimed, "that will be two hundred! I had forgotten
that."

Just then the call came for all placements to cease, and Aileen
directed her attention to the ball.  It circled and circled in its
dizzy way and then suddenly dropped.

"Lost again," commented Lynde.  "Well, now we'll make it eighty," and
he threw down four twenties.  "Just for luck we'll put something on
thirty-six, and thirteen, and nine."  With an easy air he laid one
hundred dollars in gold on each number.

Aileen liked his manner.  This was like Frank.  Lynde had the cool
spirit of a plunger.  His father, recognizing his temperament, had set
over a large fixed sum to be paid to him annually.  She recognized, as
in Cowperwood, the spirit of adventure, only working out in another
way.  Lynde was perhaps destined to come to some startlingly reckless
end, but what of it? He was a gentleman.  His position in life was
secure.  That had always been Aileen's sad, secret thought.  Hers had
not been and might never be now.

"Oh, I'm getting foozled already," she exclaimed, gaily reverting to a
girlhood habit of clapping her hands.  "How much will I win if I win?"
The gesture attracted attention even as the ball fell.

"By George, you have it!" exclaimed Lynde, who was watching the
croupier.  "Eight hundred, two hundred, two hundred"--he was counting
to himself--"but we lose thirteen.  Very good, that makes us nearly one
thousand ahead, counting out what we put down. Rather nice for a
beginning, don't you think? Now, if you'll take my advice you'll not
play quatre premier any more for a while. Suppose you double a
thirteen--you lost on that--and play Bates's formula.  I'll show you
what that is."

Already, because he was known to be a plunger, Lynde was gathering a
few spectators behind him, and Aileen, fascinated, and not knowing
these mysteries of chance, was content to watch him.  At one stage of
the playing Lynde leaned over and, seeing her smile, whispered:

"What adorable hair and eyes you have! You glow like a great rose. You
have a radiance that is wonderful."

"Oh, Mr. Lynde! How you talk! Does gambling always affect you this way?"

"No, you do.  Always, apparently!" And he stared hard into her upturned
eyes.  Still playing ostensibly for Aileen's benefit, he now doubled
the cash deposit on his system, laying down a thousand in gold.  Aileen
urged him to play for himself and let her watch. "I'll just put a
little money on these odd numbers here and there, and you play any
system you want.  How will that do?"

"No, not at all," he replied, feelingly.  "You're my luck.  I play with
you.  You keep the gold for me.  I'll make you a fine present if I win.
The losses are mine."

"Just as you like.  I don't know really enough about it to play. But I
surely get the nice present if you win?"

"You do, win or lose," he murmured.  "And now you put the money on the
numbers I call.  Twenty on seven.  Eighty on thirteen. Eighty on
thirty.  Twenty on nine.  Fifty on twenty-four." He was following a
system of his own, and in obedience Aileen's white, plump arm reached
here and there while the spectators paused, realizing that heavier
playing was being done by this pair than by any one else.  Lynde was
plunging for effect.  He lost a thousand and fifty dollars at one clip.

"Oh, all that good money!" exclaimed Aileen, mock-pathetically, as the
croupier raked it in.

"Never mind, we'll get it back," exclaimed Lynde, throwing two
one-thousand-dollar bills to the cashier.  "Give me gold for those."

The man gave him a double handful, which he put down between Aileen's
white arms.

"One hundred on two.  One hundred on four.  One hundred on six. One
hundred on eight."

The pieces were five-dollar gold pieces, and Aileen quickly built up
the little yellow stacks and shoved them in place.  Again the other
players stopped and began to watch the odd pair.  Aileen's red-gold
head, and pink cheeks, and swimming eyes, her body swathed in silks and
rich laces; and Lynde, erect, his shirt bosom snowy white, his face
dark, almost coppery, his eyes and hair black--they were indeed a
strikingly assorted pair.

"What's this? What's this?" asked Grier, coming up.  "Who's plunging?
You, Mrs. Cowperwood?"

"Not plunging," replied Lynde, indifferently.  "We're merely working
out a formula--Mrs. Cowperwood and I.  We're doing it together."

Aileen smiled.  She was in her element at last.  She was beginning to
shine.  She was attracting attention.

"One hundred on twelve.  One hundred on eighteen.  One hundred on
twenty-six."

"Good heavens, what are you up to, Lynde?" exclaimed Lord, leaving Mrs.
Rhees and coming over.  She followed.  Strangers also were gathering.
The business of the place was at its topmost toss--it being two o'clock
in the morning--and the rooms were full.

"How interesting!" observed Miss Lanman, at the other end of the table,
pausing in her playing and staring.  McKibben, who was beside her, also
paused.  "They're plunging.  Do look at all the money! Goodness, isn't
she daring-looking--and he?" Aileen's shining arm was moving deftly,
showily about.

"Look at the bills he's breaking!" Lynde was taking out a thick layer
of fresh, yellow bills which he was exchanging for gold. "They make a
striking pair, don't they?"

The board was now practically covered with Lynde's gold in quaint
little stacks.  He had followed a system called Mazarin, which should
give him five for one, and possibly break the bank.  Quite a crowd
swarmed about the table, their faces glowing in the artificial light.
The exclamation "plunging!" "plunging!" was to be heard whispered here
and there.  Lynde was delightfully cool and straight.  His lithe body
was quite erect, his eyes reflective, his teeth set over an unlighted
cigarette.  Aileen was excited as a child, delighted to be once more
the center of comment.  Lord looked at her with sympathetic eyes.  He
liked her.  Well, let her he amused.  It was good for her now and then;
but Lynde was a fool to make a show of himself and risk so much money.

"Table closed!" called the croupier, and instantly the little ball
began to spin.  All eyes followed it.  Round and round it went--Aileen
as keen an observer as any.  Her face was flushed, her eyes bright.

"If we lose this," said Lynde, "we will make one more bet double, and
then if we don't win that we'll quit." He was already out nearly three
thousand dollars.

"Oh yes, indeed! Only I think we ought to quit now.  Here goes two
thousand if we don't win.  Don't you think that's quite enough? I
haven't brought you much luck, have I?"

"You are luck," he whispered.  "All the luck I want.  One more. Stand
by me for one more try, will you? If we win I'll quit."

The little ball clicked even as she nodded, and the croupier, paying
out on a few small stacks here and there, raked all the rest solemnly
into the receiving orifice, while murmurs of sympathetic
dissatisfaction went up here and there.

"How much did they have on the board?" asked Miss Lanman of McKibben,
in surprise.  "It must have been a great deal, wasn't it?"

"Oh, two thousand dollars, perhaps.  That isn't so high here, though.
People do plunge for as much as eight or ten thousand. It all depends."
McKibben was in a belittling, depreciating mood.

"Oh yes, but not often, surely."

"For the love of heavens, Polk!" exclaimed Rhees Grier, coming up and
plucking at his sleeve; "if you want to give your money away give it to
me.  I can gather it in just as well as that croupier, and I'll go get
a truck and haul it home, where it will do some good.  It's perfectly
terrible the way you are carrying on."

Lynde took his loss with equanimity.  "Now to double it," he observed,
"and get all our losses back, or go downstairs and have a rarebit and
some champagne.  What form of a present would please you best?--but
never mind.  I know a souvenir for this occasion."

He smiled and bought more gold.  Aileen stacked it up showily, if a
little repentantly.  She did not quite approve of this--his
plunging--and yet she did; she could not help sympathizing with the
plunging spirit.  In a few moments it was on the board--the same
combination, the same stacks, only doubled--four thousand all told.
The croupier called, the ball rolled and fell.  Barring three hundred
dollars returned, the bank took it all.

"Well, now for a rarebit," exclaimed Lynde, easily, turning to Lord,
who stood behind him smiling.  "You haven't a match, have you? We've
had a run of bad luck, that's sure."

Lynde was secretly the least bit disgruntled, for if he had won he had
intended to take a portion of the winnings and put it in a necklace or
some other gewgaw for Aileen.  Now he must pay for it. Yet there was
some satisfaction in having made an impression as a calm and
indifferent, though heavy loser.  He gave Aileen his arm.

"Well, my lady," he observed, "we didn't win; but we had a little fun
out of it, I hope? That combination, if it had come out, would have set
us up handsomely.  Better luck next time, eh?"

He smiled genially.

"Yes, but I was to have been your luck, and I wasn't," replied Aileen.

"You are all the luck I want, if you're willing to be.  Come to the
Richelieu to-morrow with me for lunch--will you?"

"Let me see," replied Aileen, who, observing his ready and somewhat
iron fervor, was doubtful.  "I can't do that," she said, finally, "I
have another engagement."

"How about Tuesday, then?"

Aileen, realizing of a sudden that she was making much of a situation
that ought to be handled with a light hand, answered readily: "Very
well--Tuesday! Only call me up before.  I may have to change my mind or
the time." And she smiled good-naturedly.

After this Lynde had no opportunity to talk to Aileen privately; but in
saying good night he ventured to press her arm suggestively. She
suffered a peculiar nervous thrill from this, but decided curiously
that she had brought it upon herself by her eagerness for life and
revenge, and must make up her mind.  Did she or did she not wish to go
on with this? This was the question uppermost, and she felt that she
must decide.  However, as in most such cases, circumstances were to
help decide for her, and, unquestionably, a portion of this truth was
in her mind as she was shown gallantly to her door by Taylor Lord.




Chapter XXXIII

Mr. Lynde to the Rescue


The interested appearance of a man like Polk Lynde at this stage of
Aileen's affairs was a bit of fortuitous or gratuitous humor on the
part of fate, which is involved with that subconscious chemistry of
things of which as yet we know nothing.  Here was Aileen brooding over
her fate, meditating over her wrongs, as it were; and here was Polk
Lynde, an interesting, forceful Lothario of the city, who was perhaps
as well suited to her moods and her tastes at this time as any male
outside of Cowperwood could be.

In many respects Lynde was a charming man.  He was comparatively
young--not more than Aileen's own age--schooled, if not educated, at
one of the best American colleges, of excellent taste in the matter of
clothes, friends, and the details of living with which he chose to
surround himself, but at heart a rake.  He loved, and had from his
youth up, to gamble.  He was in one phase of the word a HARD and yet by
no means a self-destructive drinker, for he had an iron constitution
and could consume spirituous waters with the minimum of ill effect.  He
had what Gibbon was wont to call "the most amiable of our vices," a
passion for women, and he cared no more for the cool, patient, almost
penitent methods by which his father had built up the immense reaper
business, of which he was supposedly the heir, than he cared for the
mysteries or sacred rights of the Chaldees.  He realized that the
business itself was a splendid thing.  He liked on occasion to think of
it with all its extent of ground-space, plain red-brick buildings, tall
stacks and yelling whistles; but he liked in no way to have anything to
do with the rather commonplace routine of its manipulation.

The principal difficulty with Aileen under these circumstances, of
course, was her intense vanity and self-consciousness.  Never was there
a vainer or more sex-troubled woman.  Why, she asked herself, should
she sit here in loneliness day after day, brooding about Cowperwood,
eating her heart out, while he was flitting about gathering the sweets
of life elsewhere? Why should she not offer her continued charms as a
solace and a delight to other men who would appreciate them? Would not
such a policy have all the essentials of justice in it? Yet even now,
so precious had Cowperwood been to her hitherto, and so wonderful, that
she was scarcely able to think of serious disloyalty.  He was so
charming when he was nice--so splendid.  When Lynde sought to hold her
to the proposed luncheon engagement she at first declined.  And there,
under slightly differing conditions, the matter might easily have
stood. But it so happened that just at this time Aileen was being
almost daily harassed by additional evidence and reminders of
Cowperwood's infidelity.

For instance, going one day to call on the Haguenins--for she was
perfectly willing to keep up the pretense of amity in so long as they
had not found out the truth--she was informed that Mrs. Haguenin was
"not at home." Shortly thereafter the Press, which had always been
favorable to Cowperwood, and which Aileen regularly read because of its
friendly comment, suddenly veered and began to attack him.  There were
solemn suggestions at first that his policy and intentions might not be
in accord with the best interests of the city.  A little later Haguenin
printed editorials which referred to Cowperwood as "the wrecker," "the
Philadelphia adventurer," "a conscienceless promoter," and the like.
Aileen guessed instantly what the trouble was, but she was too
disturbed as to her own position to make any comment.  She could not
resolve the threats and menaces of Cowperwood's envious world any more
than she could see her way through her own grim difficulties.

One day, in scanning the columns of that faithful chronicle of Chicago
social doings, the Chicago Saturday Review, she came across an item
which served as a final blow.  "For some time in high social circles,"
the paragraph ran, "speculation has been rife as to the amours and
liaisons of a certain individual of great wealth and pseudo social
prominence, who once made a serious attempt to enter Chicago society.
It is not necessary to name the man, for all who are acquainted with
recent events in Chicago will know who is meant.  The latest rumor to
affect his already nefarious reputation relates to two women--one the
daughter, and the other the wife, of men of repute and standing in the
community.  In these latest instances it is more than likely that he
has arrayed influences of the greatest importance socially and
financially against himself, for the husband in the one case and the
father in the other are men of weight and authority.  The suggestion
has more than once been made that Chicago should and eventually would
not tolerate his bucaneering methods in finance and social matters; but
thus far no definite action has been taken to cast him out.  The
crowning wonder of all is that the wife, who was brought here from the
East, and who--so rumor has it--made a rather scandalous sacrifice of
her own reputation and another woman's heart and home in order to
obtain the privilege of living with him, should continue so to do."

Aileen understood perfectly what was meant.  "The father" of the
so-called "one" was probably Haguenin or Cochrane, more than likely
Haguenin.  "The husband of the other"--but who was the husband of the
other? She had not heard of any scandal with the wife of anybody.  It
could not be the case of Rita Sohlberg and her husband--that was too
far back.  It must be some new affair of which she had not the least
inkling, and so she sat and reflected. Now, she told herself, if she
received another invitation from Lynde she would accept it.

It was only a few days later that Aileen and Lynde met in the gold-room
of the Richelieu.  Strange to relate, for one determined to be
indifferent she had spent much time in making a fetching toilet.  It
being February and chill with glittering snow on the ground, she had
chosen a dark-green broadcloth gown, quite new, with lapis-lazuli
buttons that worked a "Y" pattern across her bosom, a seal turban with
an emerald plume which complemented a sealskin jacket with immense
wrought silver buttons, and bronze shoes.  To perfect it all, Aileen
had fastened lapis-lazuli ear-rings of a small flower-form in her ears,
and wore a plain, heavy gold bracelet.  Lynde came up with a look of
keen approval written on his handsome brown face.  "Will you let me
tell you how nice you look?" he said, sinking into the chair opposite.
"You show beautiful taste in choosing the right colors.  Your ear-rings
go so well with your hair."

Although Aileen feared because of his desperateness, she was caught by
his sleek force--that air of iron strength under a parlor mask. His
long, brown, artistic hands, hard and muscular, indicated an idle force
that might be used in many ways.  They harmonized with his teeth and
chin.

"So you came, didn't you?" he went on, looking at her steadily, while
she fronted his gaze boldly for a moment, only to look evasively down.

He still studied her carefully, looking at her chin and mouth and
piquant nose.  In her colorful cheeks and strong arms and shoulders,
indicated by her well-tailored suit, he recognized the human vigor he
most craved in a woman.  By way of diversion he ordered an
old-fashioned whisky cocktail, urging her to join him.  Finding her
obdurate, he drew from his pocket a little box.

"We agreed when we played the other night on a memento, didn't we?" he
said.  "A sort of souvenir? Guess?"

Aileen looked at it a little nonplussed, recognizing the contents of
the box to be jewelry.  "Oh, you shouldn't have done that," she
protested.  "The understanding was that we were to win.  You lost, and
that ended the bargain.  I should have shared the losses.  I haven't
forgiven you for that yet, you know."

"How ungallant that would make me!" he said, smilingly, as he trifled
with the long, thin, lacquered case.  "You wouldn't want to make me
ungallant, would you? Be a good fellow--a good sport, as they say.
Guess, and it's yours."

Aileen pursed her lips at this ardent entreaty.

"Oh, I don't mind guessing," she commented, superiorly, "though I
sha'n't take it.  It might be a pin, it might be a set of ear-rings, it
might be a bracelet--"

He made no comment, but opened it, revealing a necklace of gold wrought
into the form of a grape-vine of the most curious workmanship, with a
cluster of leaves artistically carved and arranged as a breastpiece,
the center of them formed by a black opal, which shone with an enticing
luster.  Lynde knew well enough that Aileen was familiar with many
jewels, and that only one of ornate construction and value would appeal
to her sense of what was becoming to her. He watched her face closely
while she studied the details of the necklace.

"Isn't it exquisite!" she commented.  "What a lovely opal--what an odd
design." She went over the separate leaves.  "You shouldn't be so
foolish.  I couldn't take it.  I have too many things as it is, and
besides--" She was thinking of what she would say if Cowperwood chanced
to ask her where she got it.  He was so intuitive.

"And besides?" he queried.

"Nothing," she replied, "except that I mustn't take it, really." "Won't
you take it as a souvenir even if--our agreement, you know."

"Even if what?" she queried.

"Even if nothing else comes of it.  A memento, then--truly--you know."

He laid hold of her fingers with his cool, vigorous ones.  A year
before, even six months, Aileen would have released her hand smilingly.
Now she hesitated.  Why should she be so squeamish with other men when
Cowperwood was so unkind to her?

"Tell me something," Lynde asked, noting the doubt and holding her
fingers gently but firmly, "do you care for me at all?"

"I like you, yes.  I can't say that it is anything more than that."

She flushed, though, in spite of herself.

He merely gazed at her with his hard, burning eyes.  The materiality
that accompanies romance in so many temperaments awakened in her, and
quite put Cowperwood out of her mind for the moment.  It was an
astonishing and revolutionary experience for her.  She quite burned in
reply, and Lynde smiled sweetly, encouragingly.

"Why won't you be friends with me, my sweetheart? I know you're not
happy--I can see that.  Neither am I.  I have a wreckless, wretched
disposition that gets me into all sorts of hell.  I need some one to
care for me.  Why won't you? You're just my sort.  I feel it.  Do you
love him so much"--he was referring to Cowperwood--"that you can't love
any one else?"

"Oh, him!" retorted Aileen, irritably, almost disloyally.  "He doesn't
care for me any more.  He wouldn't mind.  It isn't him."

"Well, then, what is it? Why won't you? Am I not interesting enough?
Don't you like me? Don't you feel that I'm really suited to you?" His
hand sought hers softly.

Aileen accepted the caress.

"Oh, it isn't that," she replied, feelingly, running back in her mind
over her long career with Cowperwood, his former love, his keen
protestations.  She had expected to make so much out of her life with
him, and here she was sitting in a public restaurant flirting with and
extracting sympathy from a comparative stranger. It cut her to the
quick for the moment and sealed her lips.  Hot, unbidden tears welled
to her eyes.

Lynde saw them.  He was really very sorry for her, though her beauty
made him wish to take advantage of her distress.  "Why should you cry,
dearest?" he asked, softly, looking at her flushed cheeks and colorful
eyes.  "You have beauty; you are young; you're lovely.  He's not the
only man in the world.  Why should you be faithful when he isn't
faithful to you? This Hand affair is all over town.  When you meet some
one that really would care for you, why shouldn't you? If he doesn't
want you, there are others."

At the mention of the Hand affair Aileen straightened up.  "The Hand
affair?" she asked, curiously.  "What is that?"

"Don't you know?" he replied, a little surprised.  "I thought you did,
or I certainly wouldn't have mentioned it."

"Oh, I know about what it is," replied Aileen, wisely, and with a touch
of sardonic humor.  "There have been so many or the same kind.  I
suppose it must be the case the Chicago Review was referring to--the
wife of the prominent financier.  Has he been trifling with Mrs. Hand?"

"Something like that," replied Lynde.  "I'm sorry that I spoke, though?
really I am.  I didn't mean to be carrying tales."

"Soldiers in a common fight, eh?" taunted Aileen, gaily.

"Oh, not that, exactly.  Please don't be mean.  I'm not so bad. It's
just a principle with me.  We all have our little foibles."

"Yes, I know," replied Aileen; but her mind was running on Mrs. Hand.
So she was the latest.  "Well, I admire his taste, anyway, in this
case," she said, archly.  "There have been so many, though. She is just
one more."

Lynde smiled.  He himself admired Cowperwood's taste.  Then he dropped
the subject.

"But let's forget that," he said.  "Please don't worry about him any
more.  You can't change that.  Pull yourself together." He squeezed her
fingers.  "Will you?" he asked, lifting his eyebrows in inquiry.

"Will I what?" replied Aileen, meditatively.

"Oh, you know.  The necklace for one thing.  Me, too." His eyes coaxed
and laughed and pleaded.

Aileen smiled.  "You're a bad boy," she said, evasively.  This
revelation in regard to Mrs. Hand had made her singularly retaliatory
in spirit.  "Let me think.  Don't ask me to take the necklace to-day.
I couldn't.  I couldn't wear it, anyhow.  Let me see you another time."
She moved her plump hand in an uncertain way, and he smoothed her wrist.

"I wonder if you wouldn't like to go around to the studio of a friend
of mine here in the tower?" he asked, quite nonchalantly. "He has such
a charming collection of landscapes.  You're interested in pictures, I
know.  Your husband has some of the finest."

Instantly Aileen understood what was meant--quite by instinct. The
alleged studio must be private bachelor quarters.

"Not this afternoon," she replied, quite wrought up and disturbed. "Not
to-day.  Another time.  And I must be going now.  But I will see you."

"And this?" he asked, picking up the necklace.

"You keep it until I do come," she replied.  "I may take it then."

She relaxed a little, pleased that she was getting safely away; but her
mood was anything but antagonistic, and her spirits were as shredded as
wind-whipped clouds.  It was time she wanted--a little time--that was
all.




Chapter XXXIV

Enter Hosmer Hand


It is needless to say that the solemn rage of Hand, to say nothing of
the pathetic anger of Haguenin, coupled with the wrath of Redmond
Purdy, who related to all his sad story, and of young MacDonald and his
associates of the Chicago General Company, constituted an atmosphere
highly charged with possibilities and potent for dramatic results.  The
most serious element in this at present was Hosmer Hand, who, being
exceedingly wealthy and a director in a number of the principal
mercantile and financial institutions of the city, was in a position to
do Cowperwood some real financial harm.  Hand had been extremely fond
of his young wife.  Being a man of but few experiences with women, it
astonished and enraged him that a man like Cowperwood should dare to
venture on his preserves in this reckless way, should take his dignity
so lightly.  He burned now with a hot, slow fire of revenge.

Those who know anything concerning the financial world and its great
adventures know how precious is that reputation for probity,
solidarity, and conservatism on which so many of the successful
enterprises of the world are based.  If men are not absolutely honest
themselves they at least wish for and have faith in the honesty of
others.  No set of men know more about each other, garner more
carefully all the straws of rumor which may affect the financial and
social well being of an individual one way or another, keep a tighter
mouth concerning their own affairs and a sharper eye on that of their
neighbors.  Cowperwood's credit had hitherto been good because it was
known that he had a "soft thing" in the Chicago street-railway field,
that he paid his interest charges promptly, that he had organized the
group of men who now, under him, controlled the Chicago Trust Company
and the North and West Chicago Street Railways, and that the Lake City
Bank, of which Addison was still president, considered his collateral
sound. Nevertheless, even previous to this time there had been a
protesting element in the shape of Schryhart, Simms, and others of
considerable import in the Douglas Trust, who had lost no chance to say
to one and all that Cowperwood was an interloper, and that his course
was marked by political and social trickery and chicanery, if not by
financial dishonesty.  As a matter of fact, Schryhart, who had once
been a director of the Lake City National along with Hand, Arneel, and
others, had resigned and withdrawn all his deposits sometime before
because he found, as he declared, that Addison was favoring Cowperwood
and the Chicago Trust Company with loans, when there was no need of so
doing--when it was not essentially advantageous for the bank so to do.
Both Arneel and Hand, having at this time no personal quarrel with
Cowperwood on any score, had considered this protest as biased.
Addison had maintained that the loans were neither unduly large nor out
of proportion to the general loans of the bank.  The collateral offered
was excellent. "I don't want to quarrel with Schryhart," Addison had
protested at the time; "but I am afraid his charge is unfair.  He is
trying to vent a private grudge through the Lake National.  That is not
the way nor this the place to do it."

Both Hand and Arneel, sober men both, agreed with this--admiring
Addison--and so the case stood.  Schryhart, however, frequently
intimated to them both that Cowperwood was merely building up the
Chicago Trust Company at the expense of the Lake City National, in
order to make the former strong enough to do without any aid, at which
time Addison would resign and the Lake City would be allowed to shift
for itself.  Hand had never acted on this suggestion but he had thought.

It was not until the incidents relating to Cowperwood and Mrs. Hand had
come to light that things financial and otherwise began to darken up.
Hand, being greatly hurt in his pride, contemplated only severe
reprisal.  Meeting Schryhart at a directors' meeting one day not long
after his difficulty had come upon him, he remarked:

"I thought a few years ago, Norman, when you talked to me about this
man Cowperwood that you were merely jealous--a dissatisfied business
rival.  Recently a few things have come to my notice which cause me to
think differently.  It is very plain to me now that the man is
thoroughly bad--from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet.
It's a pity the city has to endure him."

"So you're just beginning to find that out, are you, Hosmer?" answered
Schryhart.  "Well, I'll not say I told you so.  Perhaps you'll agree
with me now that the responsible people of Chicago ought to do
something about it."

Hand, a very heavy, taciturn man, merely looked at him.  "I'll be ready
enough to do," he said, "when I see how and what's to be done."

A little later Schryhart, meeting Duane Kingsland, learned the true
source of Hand's feeling against Cowperwood, and was not slow in
transferring this titbit to Merrill, Simms, and others.  Merrill, who,
though Cowperwood had refused to extend his La Salle Street tunnel loop
about State Street and his store, had hitherto always liked him after a
fashion--remotely admired his courage and daring--was now appropriately
shocked.

"Why, Anson," observed Schryhart, "the man is no good.  He has the
heart of a hyena and the friendliness of a scorpion.  You heard how he
treated Hand, didn't you?"

"No," replied Merrill, "I didn't."

"Well, it's this way, so I hear." And Schryhart leaned over and
confidentially communicated considerable information into Mr. Merrill's
left ear.

The latter raised his eyebrows.  "Indeed!" he said.

"And the way he came to meet her," added Schryhart, contemptuously,
"was this.  He went to Hand originally to borrow two hundred and fifty
thousand dollars on West Chicago Street Railway.  Angry? The word is no
name for it."

"You don't say so," commented Merrill, dryly, though privately
interested and fascinated, for Mrs. Hand had always seemed very
attractive to him.  "I don't wonder."

He recalled that his own wife had recently insisted on inviting
Cowperwood once.

Similarly Hand, meeting Arneel not so long afterward, confided to him
that Cowperwood was trying to repudiate a sacred agreement. Arneel was
grieved and surprised.  It was enough for him to know that Hand had
been seriously injured.  Between the two of them they now decided to
indicate to Addison, as president of the Lake City Bank, that all
relations with Cowperwood and the Chicago Trust Company must cease.
The result of this was, not long after, that Addison, very suave and
gracious, agreed to give Cowperwood due warning that all his loans
would have to be taken care of and then resigned--to become, seven
months later, president of the Chicago Trust Company.  This desertion
created a great stir at the time, astonishing the very men who had
suspected that it might come to pass.  The papers were full of it.

"Well, let him go," observed Arneel to Hand, sourly, on the day that
Addison notified the board of directors of the Lake City of his
contemplated resignation.  "If he wants to sever his connection with a
bank like this to go with a man like that, it's his own lookout.  He
may live to regret it."

It so happened that by now another election was pending Chicago, and
Hand, along with Schryhart and Arneel--who joined their forces because
of his friendship for Hand--decided to try to fight Cowperwood through
this means.

Hosmer Hand, feeling that he had the burden of a great duty upon him,
was not slow in acting.  He was always, when aroused, a determined and
able fighter.  Needing an able lieutenant in the impending political
conflict, he finally bethought himself of a man who had recently come
to figure somewhat conspicuously in Chicago politics--one Patrick
Gilgan, the same Patrick Gilgan of Cowperwood's old Hyde Park gas-war
days.  Mr. Gilgan was now a comparatively well-to-do man.  Owing to a
genial capacity for mixing with people, a close mouth, and absolutely
no understanding of, and consequently no conscience in matters of large
public import (in so far as they related to the so-called rights of the
mass), he was a fit individual to succeed politically.  His saloon was
the finest in all Wentworth Avenue.  It fairly glittered with the newly
introduced incandescent lamp reflected in a perfect world of beveled
and faceted mirrors.  His ward, or district, was full of low,
rain-beaten cottages crowded together along half-made streets; but
Patrick Gilgan was now a state senator, slated for Congress at the next
Congressional election, and a possible successor of the Hon. John J.
McKenty as dictator of the city, if only the Republican party should
come into power.  (Hyde Park, before it had been annexed to the city,
had always been Republican, and since then, although the larger city
was normally Democratic, Gilgan could not conveniently change.) Hearing
from the political discussion which preceded the election that Gilgan
was by far the most powerful politician on the South Side, Hand sent
for him.  Personally, Hand had far less sympathy with the polite
moralistic efforts of men like Haguenin, Hyssop, and others, who were
content to preach morality and strive to win by the efforts of the unco
good, than he had with the cold political logic of a man like
Cowperwood himself.  If Cowperwood could work through McKenty to such a
powerful end, he, Hand, could find some one else who could be made as
powerful as McKenty.

"Mr. Gilgan," said Hand, when the Irishman came in, medium tall, beefy,
with shrewd, twinkling gray eyes and hairy hands, "you don't know me--"

"I know of you well enough," smiled the Irishman, with a soft brogue.
"You don't need an introduction to talk to me."

"Very good," replied Hand, extending his hand.  "I know of you, too.
Then we can talk.  It's the political situation here in Chicago I'd
like to discuss with you.  I'm not a politician myself, but I take some
interest in what's going on.  I want to know what you think will be the
probable outcome of the present situation here in the city."

Gilgan, having no reason for laying his private political convictions
bare to any one whose motive he did not know, merely replied: "Oh, I
think the Republicans may have a pretty good show.  They have all but
one or two of the papers with them, I see.  I don't know much outside
of what I read and hear people talk."

Mr. Hand knew that Gilgan was sparring, and was glad to find his man
canny and calculating.

"I haven't asked you to come here just to be talking over politics in
general, as you may imagine, Mr. Gilgan.  I want to put a particular
problem before you.  Do you happen to know either Mr. McKenty or Mr.
Cowperwood?"

"I never met either of them to talk to," replied Gilgan.  "I know Mr.
McKenty by sight, and I've seen Mr. Cowperwood once." He said no more.

"Well," said Mr. Hand, "suppose a group of influential men here in
Chicago were to get together and guarantee sufficient funds for a
city-wide campaign; now, if you had the complete support of the
newspapers and the Republican organization in the bargain, could you
organize the opposition here so that the Democratic party could be
beaten this fall? I'm not talking about the mayor merely and the
principal city officers, but the council, too--the aldermen. I want to
fix things so that the McKenty-Cowperwood crowd couldn't get an
alderman or a city official to sell out, once they are elected.  I want
the Democratic party beaten so thoroughly that there won't be any
question in anybody's mind as to the fact that it has been done.  There
will be plenty of money forthcoming if you can prove to me, or, rather,
to the group of men I am thinking of, that the thing can be done."

Mr. Gilgan blinked his eyes solemnly.  He rubbed his knees, put his
thumbs in the armholes of his vest, took out a cigar, lit it, and gazed
poetically at the ceiling.  He was thinking very, very hard.  Mr.
Cowperwood and Mr. McKenty, as he knew, were very powerful men.  He had
always managed to down the McKenty opposition in his ward, and several
others adjacent to it, and in the Eighteenth Senatorial District, which
he represented.  But to be called upon to defeat him in Chicago, that
was different.  Still, the thought of a large amount of cash to be
distributed through him, and the chance of wresting the city leadership
from McKenty by the aid of the so-called moral forces of the city, was
very inspiring.  Mr. Gilgan was a good politician.  He loved to scheme
and plot and make deals--as much for the fun of it as anything else.
Just now he drew a solemn face, which, however, concealed a very light
heart.

"I have heard," went on Hand, "that you have built up a strong
organization in your ward and district."

"I've managed to hold me own," suggested Gilgan, archly.  "But this
winning all over Chicago," he went on, after a moment, "now, that's a
pretty large order.  There are thirty-one wards in Chicago this
election, and all but eight of them are nominally Democratic. I know
most of the men that are in them now, and some of them are pretty
shrewd men, too.  This man Dowling in council is nobody's fool, let me
tell you that.  Then there's Duvanicki and Ungerich and Tiernan and
Kerrigan--all good men." He mentioned four of the most powerful and
crooked aldermen in the city.  "You see, Mr. Hand, the way things are
now the Democrats have the offices, and the small jobs to give out.
That gives them plenty of political workers to begin with.  Then they
have the privilege of collecting money from those in office to help
elect themselves.  That's another great privilege." He smiled.  "Then
this man Cowperwood employs all of ten thousand men at present, and any
ward boss that's favorable to him can send a man out of work to him and
he'll find a place for him.  That's a gre-a-eat help in building up a
party following.  Then there's the money a man like Cowperwood and
others can contribute at election time.  Say what you will, Mr. Hand,
but it's the two, and five, and ten dollar bills paid out at the last
moment over the saloon bars and at the polling-places that do the work.
Give me enough money"--and at this noble thought Mr. Gilgan
straightened up and slapped one fist lightly in the other, adjusting at
the same time his half-burned cigar so that it should not burn his
hand--"and I can carry every ward in Chicago, bar none.  If I have
money enough," he repeated, emphasizing the last two words. He put his
cigar back in his mouth, blinked his eyes defiantly, and leaned back in
his chair.

"Very good," commented Hand, simply; "but how much money?"

"Ah, that's another question," replied Gilgan, straightening up once
more.  "Some wards require more than others.  Counting out the eight
that are normally Republican as safe, you would have to carry eighteen
others to have a majority in council.  I don't see how anything under
ten to fifteen thousand dollars to a ward would be safe to go on.  I
should say three hundred thousand dollars would be safer, and that
wouldn't be any too much by any means."

Mr. Gilgan restored his cigar and puffed heavily the while he leaned
back and lifted his eyes once more.

"And how would that money be distributed exactly?" inquired Mr. Hand.

"Oh, well, it's never wise to look into such matters too closely,"
commented Mr. Gilgan, comfortably.  "There's such a thing as cutting
your cloth too close in politics.  There are ward captains, leaders,
block captains, workers.  They all have to have money to do with--to
work up sentiment--and you can't be too inquiring as to just how they
do it.  It's spent in saloons, and buying coal for mother, and getting
Johnnie a new suit here and there.  Then there are torch-light
processions and club-rooms and jobs to look after. Sure, there's plenty
of places for it.  Some men may have to be brought into these wards to
live--kept in boarding-houses for a week or ten days." He waved a hand
deprecatingly.

Mr. Hand, who had never busied himself with the minutiae of politics,
opened his eyes slightly.  This colonizing idea was a little liberal,
he thought.

"Who distributes this money?" he asked, finally.

"Nominally, the Republican County Committee, if it's in charge;
actually, the man or men who are leading the fight.  In the case of the
Democratic party it's John J. McKenty, and don't you forget it.  In my
district it's me, and no one else."

Mr. Hand, slow, solid, almost obtuse at times, meditated under lowering
brows.  He had always been associated with a more or less silk-stocking
crew who were unused to the rough usage of back-room saloon politics,
yet every one suspected vaguely, of course, at times that ballot-boxes
were stuffed and ward lodging-houses colonized.  Every one (at least
every one of any worldly intelligence) knew that political capital was
collected from office-seekers, office-holders, beneficiaries of all
sorts and conditions under the reigning city administration.  Mr. Hand
had himself contributed to the Republican party for favors received or
about to be.  As a man who had been compelled to handle large affairs
in a large way he was not inclined to quarrel with this.  Three hundred
thousand dollars was a large sum, and he was not inclined to subscribe
it alone, but fancied that at his recommendation and with his advice it
could be raised.  Was Gilgan the man to fight Cowperwood? He looked him
over and decided--other things being equal--that he was. And forthwith
the bargain was struck.  Gilgan, as a Republican central
committeeman--chairman, possibly--was to visit every ward, connect up
with every available Republican force, pick strong, suitable
anti-Cowperwood candidates, and try to elect them, while he, Hand,
organized the money element and collected the necessary cash.  Gilgan
was to be given money personally.  He was to have the undivided if
secret support of all the high Republican elements in the city.  His
business was to win at almost any cost.  And as a reward he was to have
the Republican support for Congress, or, failing that, the practical
Republican leadership in city and county.

"Anyhow," said Hand, after Mr. Gilgan finally took his departure,
"things won't be so easy for Mr. Cowperwood in the future as they were
in the past.  And when it comes to getting his franchises renewed, if
I'm alive, we'll see whether he will or not."

The heavy financier actually growled a low growl as he spoke out loud
to himself.  He felt a boundless rancor toward the man who had, as he
supposed, alienated the affections of his smart young wife.




Chapter XXXV

A Political Agreement


In the first and second wards of Chicago at this time--wards including
the business heart, South Clark Street, the water-front, the
river-levee, and the like--were two men, Michael (alias Smiling Mike)
Tiernan and Patrick (alias Emerald Pat) Kerrigan, who, for
picturequeness of character and sordidness of atmosphere, could not be
equaled elsewhere in the city, if in the nation at large. "Smiling"
Mike Tiernan, proud possessor of four of the largest and filthiest
saloons of this area, was a man of large and genial mold--perhaps six
feet one inch in height, broad-shouldered in proportion, with a bovine
head, bullet-shaped from one angle, and big, healthy, hairy hands and
large feet.  He had done many things from digging in a ditch to
occupying a seat in the city council from this his beloved ward, which
he sold out regularly for one purpose and another; but his chief
present joy consisted in sitting behind a solid mahogany railing at a
rosewood desk in the back portion of his largest Clark Street
hostelry--"The Silver Moon." Here he counted up the returns from his
various properties--salons, gambling resorts, and houses of
prostitution--which he manipulated with the connivance or blinking
courtesy of the present administration, and listened to the pleas and
demands of his henchmen and tenants.

The character of Mr. Kerrigan, Mr. Tiernan's only rival in this rather
difficult and sordid region, was somewhat different.  He was a small
man, quite dapper, with a lean, hollow, and somewhat haggard face, but
by no means sickly body, a large, strident mustache, a wealth of
coal-black hair parted slickly on one side, and a shrewd, genial
brown-black eye--constituting altogether a rather pleasing and ornate
figure whom it was not at all unsatisfactory to meet.   His ears were
large and stood out bat-wise from his head; and his eyes gleamed with a
smart, evasive light.  He was cleverer financially than Tiernan,
richer, and no more than thirty-five, whereas Mr. Tiernan was
forty-five years of age. Like Mr. Tiernan in the first ward, Mr.
Kerrigan was a power in the second, and controlled a most useful and
dangerous floating vote.  His saloons harbored the largest floating
element that was to be found in the city--longshoremen, railroad hands,
stevedores, tramps, thugs, thieves, pimps, rounders, detectives, and
the like. He was very vain, considered himself handsome, a "killer"
with the ladies.  Married, and with two children and a sedate young
wife, he still had his mistress, who changed from year to year, and his
intermediate girls.  His clothes were altogether noteworthy, but it was
his pride to eschew jewelry, except for one enormous emerald, value
fourteen thousand dollars, which he wore in his necktie on occasions,
and the wonder of which, pervading all Dearborn Street and the city
council, had won him the soubriquet of "Emerald Pat." At first he
rejoiced heartily in this title, as he did in a gold and diamond medal
awarded him by a Chicago brewery for selling the largest number of
barrels of beer of any saloon in Chicago.  More recently, the
newspapers having begun to pay humorous attention to both himself and
Mr. Tiernan, because of their prosperity and individuality, he resented
it.

The relation of these two men to the present political situation was
peculiar, and, as it turned out, was to constitute the weak spot in the
Cowperwood-McKenty campaign.  Tiernan and Kerrigan, to begin with,
being neighbors and friends, worked together in politics and business,
on occasions pooling their issues and doing each other favors.  The
enterprises in which they were engaged being low and shabby, they
needed counsel and consolation. Infinitely beneath a man like McKenty
in understanding and a politic grasp of life, they were, nevertheless,
as they prospered, somewhat jealous of him and his high estate.  They
saw with speculative and somewhat jealous eyes how, after his union
with Cowperwood, he grew and how he managed to work his will in many
ways--by extracting tolls from the police department, and heavy annual
campaign contributions from manufacturers favored by the city gas and
water departments.  McKenty--a born manipulator in this respect--knew
where political funds were to be had in an hour of emergency, and he
did not hesitate to demand them.  Tiernan and Kerrigan had always been
fairly treated by him as politics go; but they had never as yet been
included in his inner council of plotters.  When he was down-town on
one errand or another, he stopped in at their places to shake hands
with them, to inquire after business, to ask if there was any favor he
could do them; but never did he stoop to ask a favor of them or
personally to promise any form of reward.   That was the business of
Dowling and others through whom he worked.

Naturally men of strong, restive, animal disposition, finding no
complete outlet for all their growing capacity, Tiernan and Kerrigan
were both curious to see in what way they could add to their honors and
emoluments.  Their wards, more than any in the city, were increasing in
what might be called a vote-piling capacity, the honest, legitimate
vote not being so large, but the opportunities afforded for colonizing,
repeating, and ballot-box stuffing being immense.  In a doubtful
mayoralty campaign the first and second wards alone, coupled with a
portion of the third adjoining them, would register sufficient
illegitimate votes (after voting-hours, if necessary) to completely
change the complexion of the city as to the general officers nominated.
Large amounts of money were sent to Tiernan and Kerrigan around
election time by the Democratic County Committee to be disposed of as
they saw fit.  They merely sent in a rough estimate of how much they
would need, and always received a little more than they asked for.
They never made nor were asked to make accounting afterward.  Tiernan
would receive as high as fifteen and eighteen, Kerrigan sometimes as
much as twenty to twenty-five thousand dollars, his being the pivotal
ward under such circumstances.

McKenty had recently begun to recognize that these two men would soon
have to be given fuller consideration, for they were becoming more or
less influential.  But how? Their personalities, let alone the
reputation of their wards and the methods they employed, were not such
as to command public confidence.  In the mean time, owing to the
tremendous growth of the city, the growth of their own private
business, and the amount of ballot-box stuffing, repeating, and the
like which was required of them, they were growing more and more
restless.  Why should not they be slated for higher offices? they now
frequently asked themselves.  Tiernan would have been delighted to have
been nominated for sheriff or city treasurer. He considered himself
eminently qualified.  Kerrigan at the last city convention had
privately urged on Dowling the wisdom of nominating him for the
position of commissioner of highways and sewers, which office he was
anxious to obtain because of its reported commercial perquisites; but
this year, of all times, owing to the need of nominating an unblemished
ticket to defeat the sharp Republican opposition, such a nomination was
not possible.  It would have drawn the fire of all the respectable
elements in the city.  As a result both Tiernan and Kerrigan, thinking
over their services, past and future, felt very much disgruntled.  They
were really not large enough mentally to understand how
dangerous--outside of certain fields of activity--they were to the
party.

After his conference with Hand, Gilgan, going about the city with the
promise of ready cash on his lips, was able to arouse considerable
enthusiasm for the Republican cause.  In the wards and sections where
the so-called "better element" prevailed it seemed probable, because of
the heavy moral teaching of the newspapers, that the respectable vote
would array itself almost solidly this time against Cowperwood.  In the
poorer wards it would not be so easy.  True, it was possible, by a
sufficient outlay of cash, to find certain hardy bucaneers who could be
induced to knife their own brothers, but the result was not certain.
Having heard through one person and another of the disgruntled mood of
both Kerrigan and Tiernan, and recognizing himself, even if he was a
Republican, to be a man much more of their own stripe than either
McKenty or Dowling, Gilgan decided to visit that lusty pair and see
what could be done by way of alienating them from the present center of
power.

After due reflection he first sought out "Emerald Pat" Kerrigan, whom
he knew personally but with whom he was by no means intimate
politically, at his "Emporium Bar" in Dearborn Street.  This particular
saloon, a feature of political Chicago at this time, was a large affair
containing among other marvelous saloon fixtures a circular bar of
cherry wood twelve feet in diameter, which glowed as a small mountain
with the customary plain and colored glasses, bottles, labels, and
mirrors.  The floor was a composition of small, shaded red-and-green
marbles; the ceiling a daub of pinky, fleshy nudes floating among
diaphanous clouds; the walls were alternate panels of cerise and brown
set in rosewood.  Mr. Kerrigan, when other duties were not pressing,
was usually to be found standing chatting with several friends and
surveying the wonders of his bar trade, which was very large.  On the
day of Mr. Gilgan's call he was resplendent in a dark-brown suit with a
fine red stripe in it, Cordovan leather shoes, a wine-colored tie
ornamented with the emerald of so much renown, and a straw hat of
flaring proportions and novel weave.  About his waist, in lieu of a
waistcoat, was fastened one of the eccentricities of the day, a
manufactured silk sash.  He formed an interesting contrast with Mr.
Gilgan, who now came up very moist, pink, and warm, in a fine, light
tweed of creamy, showy texture, straw hat, and yellow shoes.

"How are you, Kerrigan?" he observed, genially, there being no
political enmity between them.  "How's the first, and how's trade? I
see you haven't lost the emerald yet?"

"No.  No danger of that.  Oh, trade's all right.  And so's the first.
How's Mr. Gilgan?" Kerrigan extended his hand cordially.

"I have a word to say to you.  Have you any time to spare?"

For answer Mr. Kerrigan led the way into the back room.  Already he had
heard rumors of a strong Republican opposition at the coming election.

Mr. Gilgan sat down.  "It's about things this fall I've come to see
you, of course," he began, smilingly.  "You and I are supposed to be on
opposite sides of the fence, and we are as a rule, but I am wondering
whether we need be this time or not?"

Mr. Kerrigan, shrewd though seemingly simple, fixed him with an amiable
eye.  "What's your scheme?" he said.  "I'm always open to a good idea."

"Well, it's just this," began Mr. Gilgan, feeling his way.  "You have a
fine big ward here that you carry in your vest pocket, and so has
Tiernan, as we all know; and we all know, too, that if it wasn't for
what you and him can do there wouldn't always be a Democratic mayor
elected.  Now, I have an idea, from looking into the thing, that
neither you nor Tiernan have got as much out of it so far as you might
have."

Mr. Kerrigan was too cautious to comment as to that, though Mr. Gilgan
paused for a moment.

"Now, I have a plan, as I say, and you can take it or leave it, just as
you want, and no hard feelings one way or the other.  I think the
Republicans are going to win this fall--McKenty or no McKenty--first,
second, and third wards with us or not, as they choose.  The doings of
the big fellow"--he was referring to McKenty--"with the other fellow in
North Clark Street"--Mr. Gilgan preferred to be a little enigmatic at
times--"are very much in the wind just now.  You see how the papers
stand.  I happen to know where there's any quantity of money coming
into the game from big financial quarters who have no use for this
railroad man.  It's a solid La Salle and Dearborn Street line-up, so
far as I can see. Why, I don't know.  But so it is.  Maybe you know
better than I do.  Anyhow, that's the way it stands now.  Add to that
the fact that there are eight naturally Republican wards as it is, and
ten more where there is always a fighting chance, and you begin to see
what I'm driving at.  Count out these last ten, though, and bet only on
the eight that are sure to stand.  That leaves twenty-three wards that
we Republicans always conceded to you people; but if we manage to carry
thirteen of them along with the eight I'm talking about, we'll have a
majority in council, and"--flick! he snapped his fingers--"out you
go--you, McKenty, Cowperwood, and all the rest.  No more franchises, no
more street-paving contracts, no more gas deals.  Nothing--for two
years, anyhow, and maybe longer. If we win we'll take the jobs and the
fat deals." He paused and surveyed Kerrigan cheerfully but defiantly.

"Now, I've just been all over the city," he continued, "in every ward
and precinct, so I know something of what I am talking about. I have
the men and the cash to put up a fight all along the line this time.
This fall we win--me and the big fellows over there in La Salle Street,
and all the Republicans or Democrats or Prohibitionists, or whoever
else comes in with us--do you get me? We're going to put up the biggest
political fight Chicago has ever seen.  I'm not naming any names just
yet, but when the time comes you'll see.  Now, what I want to ask of
you is this, and I'll not mince me words nor beat around the bush.
Will you and Tiernan come in with me and Edstrom to take over the city
and run it during the next two years? If you will, we can win hands
down.  It will be a case of share and share alike on
everything--police, gas, water, highways, street-railways,
everything--or we'll divide beforehand and put it down in black and
white.  I know that you and Tiernan work together, or I wouldn't talk
about this.  Edstrom has the Swedes where he wants them, and he'll poll
twenty thousand of them this fall.  There's Ungerich with his Germans;
one of us might make a deal with him afterward, give him most any
office he wants.  If we win this time we can hold the city for six or
eight years anyhow, most likely, and after that--well, there's no use
lookin' too far in the future--Anyhow we'd have a majority of the
council and carry the mayor along with it."

"If--" commented Mr. Kerrigan, dryly.

"If," replied Mr. Gilgan, sententiously.  "You're very right. There's a
big 'if' in there, I'll admit.  But if these two wards--yours and
Tiernan's--could by any chance be carried for the Republicans they'd be
equal to any four or five of the others."

"Very true," replied Mr. Kerrigan, "if they could be carried for the
Republicans.  But they can't be.  What do you want me to do, anyhow?
Lose me seat in council and be run out of the Democratic party? What's
your game? You don't take me for a plain damn fool, do you?"

"Sorry the man that ever took 'Emerald Pat' for that," answered Gilgan,
with honeyed compliment.  "I never would.  But no one is askin' ye to
lose your seat in council and be run out of the Democratic party.
What's to hinder you from electin' yourself and droppin' the rest of
the ticket?" He had almost said "knifing."

Mr. Kerrigan smiled.  In spite of all his previous dissatisfaction with
the Chicago situation he had not thought of Mr. Gilgan's talk as
leading to this.  It was an interesting idea.  He had "knifed" people
before--here and there a particular candidate whom it was desirable to
undo.  If the Democratic party was in any danger of losing this fall,
and if Gilgan was honest in his desire to divide and control, it might
not be such a bad thing.  Neither Cowperwood, McKenty, nor Dowling had
ever favored him in any particular way. If they lost through him, and
he could still keep himself in power, they would have to make terms
with him.  There was no chance of their running him out.  Why shouldn't
he knife the ticket? It was worth thinking over, to say the least.

"That's all very fine," he observed, dryly, after his meditations had
run their course; "but how do I know that you wouldn't turn around and
'welch' on the agreement afterward?" (Mr. Gilgan stirred irritably at
the suggestion.) "Dave Morrissey came to me four years ago to help him
out, and a lot of satisfaction I got afterward." Kerrigan was referring
to a man whom he had helped make county clerk, and who had turned on
him when he asked for return favors and his support for the office of
commissioner of highways. Morrissey had become a prominent politician.

"That's very easy to say," replied Gilgan, irritably, "but it's not
true of me.  Ask any man in my district.  Ask the men who know me.
I'll put my part of the bargain in black and white if you'll put yours.
If I don't make good, show me up afterward.  I'll take you to the
people that are backing me.  I'll show you the money. I've got the
goods this time.  What do you stand to lose, anyhow? They can't run you
out for cutting the ticket.  They can't prove it.  We'll bring police
in here to make it look like a fair vote. I'll put up as much money as
they will to carry this district, and more."

Mr. Kerrigan suddenly saw a grand coup here.  He could "draw down" from
the Democrats, as he would have expressed it, twenty to twenty-five
thousand dollars to do the dirty work here.  Gilgan would furnish him
as much and more--the situation being so critical. Perhaps fifteen or
eighteen thousand would be necessary to poll the number of votes
required either way.  At the last hour, before stuffing the boxes, he
would learn how the city was going.  If it looked favorable for the
Republicans it would be easy to complete the victory and complain that
his lieutenants had been suborned. If it looked certain for the
Democrats he could throw Gilgan and pocket his funds.  In either case
he would be "in" twenty-five to thirty thousand dollars, and he would
still be councilman.

"All very fine," replied Mr. Kerrigan, pretending a dullness which he
did not feel; "but it's damned ticklish business at best.  I don't know
that I want anything to do with it even if we could win.  It's true the
City Hall crowd have never played into my hands very much; but this is
a Democratic district, and I'm a Democrat. If it ever got out that I
had thrown the party it would be pretty near all day with me.

"I'm a man of my word," declared Mr. Gilgan, emphatically, getting up.
"I never threw a man or a bet in my life.  Look at me record in the
eighteenth.  Did you ever hear any one say that I had?"

"No, I never did," returned Kerrigan, mildly.  "But it's a pretty large
thing you're proposing, Mr. Gilgan.  I wouldn't want to say what I
thought about it offhand.  This ward is supposed to be Democratic.  It
couldn't be swung over into the Republican column without a good bit of
fuss being made about it.  You'd better see Mr. Tiernan first and hear
what he has to say.  Afterward I might be willing to talk about it
further.  Not now, though--not now."

Mr. Gilgan went away quite jauntily and cheerfully.  He was not at all
downcast.




Chapter XXXVI

An Election Draws Near


Subsequently Mr. Kerrigan called on Mr. Tiernan casually.  Mr. Tiernan
returned the call.  A little later Messrs. Tiernan, Kerrigan, and
Gilgan, in a parlor-room in a small hotel in Milwaukee (in order not to
be seen together), conferred.  Finally Messrs. Tiernan, Edstrom,
Kerrigan, and Gilgan met and mapped out a programme of division far too
intricate to be indicated here.  Needless to say, it involved the
division of chief clerks, pro rata, of police graft, of gambling and
bawdy-house perquisites, of returns from gas, street-railway, and other
organizations.  It was sealed with many solemn promises.  If it could
be made effective this quadrumvirate was to endure for years.  Judges,
small magistrates, officers large and small, the shrievalty, the water
office, the tax office, all were to come within its purview.  It was a
fine, handsome political dream, and as such worthy of every courtesy
and consideration but it was only a political dream in its ultimate
aspects, and as such impressed the participants themselves at times.

The campaign was now in full blast.  The summer and fall (September and
October) went by to the tune of Democratic and Republican marching club
bands, to the sound of lusty political voices orating in parks, at
street-corners, in wooden "wigwams," halls, tents, and
parlors--wherever a meager handful of listeners could be drummed up and
made by any device to keep still.  The newspapers honked and bellowed,
as is the way with those profit-appointed advocates and guardians of
"right" and "justice."  Cowperwood and McKenty were denounced from
nearly every street-corner in Chicago. Wagons and sign-boards on wheels
were hauled about labeled "Break the partnership between the
street-railway corporations and the city council." "Do you want more
streets stolen?" "Do you want Cowperwood to own Chicago?" Cowperwood
himself, coming down-town of a morning or driving home of an evening,
saw these things.  He saw the huge signs, listened to speeches
denouncing himself, and smiled.  By now he was quite aware as to whence
this powerful uprising had sprung.  Hand was back of it, he knew--for
so McKenty and Addison had quickly discovered--and with Hand was
Schryhart, Arneel, Merrill, the Douglas Trust Company, the various
editors, young Truman Leslie MacDonald, the old gas crowd, the Chicago
General Company--all.  He even suspected that certain aldermen might
possibly be suborned to desert him, though all professed loyalty.
McKenty, Addison, Videra, and himself were planning the details of
their defenses as carefully and effectively as possible. Cowperwood was
fully alive to the fact that if he lost this election--the first to be
vigorously contested--it might involve a serious chain of events; but
he did not propose to be unduly disturbed, since he could always fight
in the courts by money, and by preferment in the council, and with the
mayor and the city attorney.  "There is more than one way to kill a
cat," was one of his pet expressions, and it expressed his logic and
courage exactly. Yet he did not wish to lose.

One of the amusing features of the campaign was that the McKenty
orators had been instructed to shout as loudly for reforms as the
Republicans, only instead of assailing Cowperwood and McKenty they were
to point out that Schryhart's Chicago City Railway was far more
rapacious, and that this was a scheme to give it a blanket franchise of
all streets not yet covered by either the Cowperwood or the
Schryhart-Hand-Arneel lines.  It was a pretty argument. The Democrats
could point with pride to a uniformly liberal interpretation of some
trying Sunday laws, whereby under Republican and reform administrations
it had been occasionally difficult for the honest working-man to get
his glass or pail of beer on Sunday. On the other hand it was possible
for the Republican orators to show how "the low dives and gin-mills"
were everywhere being operated in favor of McKenty, and that under the
highly respectable administration of the Republican candidate for mayor
this partnership between the city government and vice and crime would
be nullified.

"If I am elected," declared the Honorable Chaffee Thayer Sluss, the
Republican candidate, "neither Frank Cowperwood nor John McKenty will
dare to show his face in the City Hall unless he comes with clean hands
and an honest purpose.

"Hooray!" yelled the crowd.

"I know that ass," commented Addison, when he read this in the
Transcript.  "He used to be a clerk in the Douglas Trust Company. He's
made a little money recently in the paper business.  He's a mere tool
for the Arneel-Schryhart interests.  He hasn't the courage of a
two-inch fish-worm."

When McKenty read it he simply observed: "There are other ways of going
to City Hall than by going yourself." He was depending upon a
councilmanic majority at least.

However, in the midst of this uproar the goings to and fro of Gilgan,
Edstrom, Kerrigan, and Tiernan were nor fully grasped.  A more urbanely
shifty pair than these latter were never seen.  While fraternizing
secretly with both Gilgan and Edstrom, laying out their political
programme most neatly, they were at the same time conferring with
Dowling, Duvanicki, even McKenty himself.  Seeing that the outcome was,
for some reason--he could scarcely see why--looking very uncertain,
McKenty one day asked the two of them to come to see him.  On getting
the letter Mr. Tiernan strolled over to Mr. Kerrigan's place to see
whether he also had received a message.

"Sure, sure! I did!" replied Mr. Kerrigan, gaily.  "Here it is now in
me outside coat pocket.  'Dear Mr. Kerrigan,'" he read, "'won't you do
me the favor to come over to-morrow evening at seven and dine with me?
Mr. Ungerich, Mr. Duvanicki, and several others will very likely drop
in afterward.  I have asked Mr. Tiernan to come at the same time.
Sincerely, John J. McKenty.' That's the way he does it," added Mr.
Kerrigan; "just like that."

He kissed the letter mockingly and put it back into his pocket.

"Sure I got one, jist the same way.  The very same langwidge, nearly,"
commented Mr. Tiernan, sweetly.  "He's beginning to wake up, eh? What!
The little old first and second are beginning to look purty big just
now, eh? What!"

"Tush!" observed Mr. Kerrigan to Mr. Tiernan, with a marked sardonic
emphasis, "that combination won't last forever.  They've been getting
too big for their pants, I'm thinking.  Well, it's a long road, eh?
It's pretty near time, what?"

"You're right," responded Mr. Tiernan, feelingly.  "It is a long road.
These are the two big wards of the city, and everybody knows it.  If we
turn on them at the last moment where will they be, eh?"

He put a fat finger alongside of his heavy reddish nose and looked at
Mr. Kerrigan out of squinted eyes.

"You're damned right," replied the little politician, cheerfully.

They went to the dinner separately, so as not to appear to have
conferred before, and greeted each other on arriving as though they had
not seen each other for days.

"How's business, Mike?"

"Oh, fair, Pat.  How's things with you?"

"So so."

"Things lookin' all right in your ward for November?"

Mr. Tiernan wrinkled a fat forehead.  "Can't tell yet." All this was
for the benefit of Mr. McKenty, who did not suspect rank party
disloyalty.

Nothing much came of this conference, except that they sat about
discussing in a general way wards, pluralities, what Zeigler was likely
to do with the twelfth, whether Pinski could make it in the sixth,
Schlumbohm in the twentieth, and so on.  New Republican contestants in
old, safe Democratic wards were making things look dubious.

"And how about the first, Kerrigan?" inquired Ungerich, a thin,
reflective German-American of shrewd presence.  Ungerich was one who
had hitherto wormed himself higher in McKenty's favor than either
Kerrigan or Tiernan.

"Oh, the first's all right," replied Kerrigan, archly.  "Of course you
never can tell.  This fellow Scully may do something, but I don't think
it will be much.  If we have the same police protection--"

Ungerich was gratified.  He was having a struggle in his own ward,
where a rival by the name of Glover appeared to be pouring out money
like water.  He would require considerably more money than usual to
win.  It was the same with Duvanicki.

McKenty finally parted with his lieutenants--more feelingly with
Kerrigan and Tiernan than he had ever done before.  He did not wholly
trust these two, and he could not exactly admire them and their
methods, which were the roughest of all, but they were useful.

"I'm glad to learn," he said, at parting, "that things are looking all
right with you, Pat, and you, Mike," nodding to each in turn. "We're
going to need the most we can get out of everybody.  I depend on you
two to make a fine showing--the best of any.  The rest of us will not
forget it when the plums are being handed around afterward."

"Oh, you can depend on me to do the best I can always," commented Mr.
Kerrigan, sympathetically.  "It's a tough year, but we haven't failed
yet."

"And me, Chief! That goes for me," observed Mr. Tiernan, raucously. "I
guess I can do as well as I have."

"Good for you, Mike!" soothed McKenty, laying a gentle hand on his
shoulder.  "And you, too, Kerrigan.  Yours are the key wards, and we
understand that.  I've always been sorry that the leaders couldn't
agree on you two for something better than councilmen; but next time
there won't be any doubt of it, if I have any influence then." He went
in and closed the door.  Outside a cool October wind was whipping dead
leaves and weed stalks along the pavements. Neither Tiernan nor
Kerrigan spoke, though they had come away together, until they were two
hundred feet down the avenue toward Van Buren.

"Some talk, that, eh?" commented Mr. Tiernan, eying Mr. Kerrigan in the
flare of a passing gas-lamp.

"Sure.  That's the stuff they always hand out when they're up against
it.  Pretty kind words, eh?"

"And after ten years of about the roughest work that's done, eh? It's
about time, what? Say, it's a wonder he didn't think of that last June
when the convention was in session.

"Tush! Mikey," smiled Mr. Kerrigan, grimly.  "You're a bad little boy.
You want your pie too soon.  Wait another two or four or six years,
like Paddy Kerrigan and the others."

"Yes, I will--not," growled Mr. Tiernan.  "Wait'll the sixth."

"No more, will I," replied Mr. Kerrigan.  "Say, we know a trick that
beats that next-year business to a pulp.  What?"

"You're dead right," commented Mr. Tiernan.

And so they went peacefully home.




Chapter XXXVII

Aileen's Revenge


The interesting Polk Lynde, rising one morning, decided that his affair
with Aileen, sympathetic as it was, must culminate in the one fashion
satisfactory to him here and now--this day, if possible, or the next.
Since the luncheon some considerable time had elapsed, and although he
had tried to seek her out in various ways, Aileen, owing to a certain
feeling that she must think and not jeopardize her future, had evaded
him.  She realized well enough that she was at the turning of the
balance, now that opportunity was knocking so loudly at her door, and
she was exceedingly coy and distrait. In spite of herself the old grip
of Cowperwood was over her--the conviction that he was such a
tremendous figure in the world--and this made her strangely disturbed,
nebulous, and meditative. Another type of woman, having troubled as
much as she had done, would have made short work of it, particularly
since the details in regard to Mrs. Hand had been added.  Not so
Aileen.  She could not quite forget the early vows and promises
exchanged between them, nor conquer the often-fractured illusions that
he might still behave himself.

On the other hand, Polk Lynde, marauder, social adventurer, a bucaneer
of the affections, was not so easily to be put aside, delayed, and
gainsaid.  Not unlike Cowperwood, he was a man of real force, and his
methods, in so far as women were concerned, were even more daring.
Long trifling with the sex had taught him that they were coy,
uncertain, foolishly inconsistent in their moods, even with regard to
what they most desired.  If one contemplated victory, it had frequently
to be taken with an iron hand.

From this attitude on his part had sprung his rather dark fame. Aileen
felt it on the day that she took lunch with him.  His solemn, dark eyes
were treacherously sweet.  She felt as if she might be paving the way
for some situation in which she would find herself helpless before his
sudden mood--and yet she had come.

But Lynde, meditating Aileen's delay, had this day decided that he
should get a definite decision, and that it should be favorable. He
called her up at ten in the morning and chafed her concerning her
indecision and changeable moods.  He wanted to know whether she would
not come and see the paintings at his friend's studio--whether she
could not make up her mind to come to a barn-dance which some bachelor
friends of his had arranged.  When she pleaded being out of sorts he
urged her to pull herself together.  "You're making things very
difficult for your admirers," he suggested, sweetly.

Aileen fancied she had postponed the struggle diplomatically for some
little time without ending it, when at two o'clock in the afternoon her
door-bell was rung and the name of Lynde brought up. "He said he was
sure you were in," commented the footman, on whom had been pressed a
dollar, "and would you see him for just a moment? He would not keep you
more than a moment."

Aileen, taken off her guard by this effrontery, uncertain as to whether
there might not be something of some slight import concerning which he
wished to speak to her, quarreling with herself because of her
indecision, really fascinated by Lynde as a rival for her affections,
and remembering his jesting, coaxing voice of the morning, decided to
go down.  She was lonely, and, clad in a lavender housegown with an
ermine collar and sleeve cuffs, was reading a book.

"Show him into the music-room," she said to the lackey.  When she
entered she was breathing with some slight difficulty, for so Lynde
affected her.  She knew she had displayed fear by not going to him
before, and previous cowardice plainly manifested does not add to one's
power of resistance.

"Oh!" she exclaimed, with an assumption of bravado which she did not
feel.  "I didn't expect to see you so soon after your telephone
message.  You have never been in our house before, have you? Won't you
put up your coat and hat and come into the gallery? It's brighter
there, and you might be interested in some of the pictures."

Lynde, who was seeking for any pretext whereby he might prolong his
stay and overcome her nervous mood, accepted, pretending, however, that
he was merely passing and with a moment to spare.

"Thought I'd get just one glimpse of you again.  Couldn't resist the
temptation to look in.  Stunning room, isn't it? Spacious--and there
you are! Who did that? Oh, I see--Van Beers.  And a jolly fine piece of
work it is, too, charming."

He surveyed her and then turned back to the picture where, ten years
younger, buoyant, hopeful, carrying her blue-and-white striped parasol,
she sat on a stone bench against the Dutch background of sky and
clouds.  Charmed by the picture she presented in both cases, he was
genially complimentary.  To-day she was stouter, ruddier--the fiber of
her had hardened, as it does with so many as the years come on; but she
was still in full bloom--a little late in the summer, but in full bloom.

"Oh yes; and this Rembrandt--I'm surprised! I did not know your
husband's collection was so representative.  Israels, I see, and
Gerome, and Meissonier! Gad! It is a representative collection, isn't
it?"

"Some of the things are excellent," she commented, with an air, aping
Cowperwood and others, "but a number will be weeded out
eventually--that Paul Potter and this Goy--as better examples come into
the market."

She had heard Cowperwood say as much, over and over.

Finding that conversation was possible between them in this easy,
impersonal way, Aileen became quite natural and interested, pleased and
entertained by his discreet and charming presence.  Evidently he did
not intend to pay much more than a passing social call. On the other
hand, Lynde was studying her, wondering what effect his light, distant
air was having.  As he finished a very casual survey of the gallery he
remarked:

"I have always wondered about this house.  I knew Lord did it, of
course, and I always heard it was well done.  That is the dining-room,
I suppose?"

Aileen, who had always been inordinately vain of the house in spite of
the fact that it had proved of small use socially, was delighted to
show him the remainder of the rooms.  Lynde, who was used, of course,
to houses of all degrees of material splendor--that of his own family
being one of the best--pretended an interest he did not feel.  He
commented as he went on the taste of the decorations and wood-carving,
the charm of the arrangement that permitted neat brief vistas, and the
like.

"Just wait a moment," said Aileen, as they neared the door of her own
boudoir.  "I've forgotten whether mine is in order.  I want you to see
that."

She opened it and stepped in.

"Yes, you may come," she called.

He followed.  "Oh yes, indeed.  Very charming.  Very graceful--those
little lacy dancing figures--aren't they? A delightful color scheme. It
harmonizes with you exactly.  It is quite like you."

He paused, looking at the spacious rug, which was of warm blues and
creams, and at the gilt ormolu bed.  "Well done," he said, and then,
suddenly changing his mood and dropping his talk of decoration (Aileen
was to his right, and he was between her and the door), he added: "Tell
me now why won't you come to the barn-dance to-night? It would be
charming.  You will enjoy it."

Aileen saw the sudden change in his mood.  She recognized that by
showing him the rooms she had led herself into an easily made
disturbing position.  His dark engaging eyes told their own story.

"Oh, I don't feel in the mood to.  I haven't for a number of things for
some time.  I--"

She began to move unconcernedly about him toward the door, but he
detained her with his hand.  "Don't go just yet," he said.  "Let me
talk to you.  You always evade me in such a nervous way.  Don't you
like me at all?"

"Oh yes, I like you; but can't we talk just as well down in the
music-room as here? Can't I tell you why I evade you down there just as
well as I can here?" She smiled a winning and now fearless smile.

Lynde showed his even white teeth in two gleaming rows.  His eyes
filled with a gay maliciousness.  "Surely, surely," he replied; "but
you're so nice in your own room here.  I hate to leave it."

"Just the same," replied Aileen, still gay, but now slightly disturbed
also, "I think we might as well.  You will find me just as entertaining
downstairs."

She moved, but his strength, quite as Cowperwood's, was much too great
for her.  He was a strong man.

"Really, you know," she said, "you mustn't act this way here. Some one
might come in.  What cause have I given you to make you think you could
do like this with me?"

"What cause?" he asked, bending over her and smoothing her plump arms
with his brown hands.  "Oh, no definite cause, perhaps.  You are a
cause in yourself.  I told you how sweet I thought you were, the night
we were at the Alcott.  Didn't you understand then? I thought you did."

"Oh, I understood that you liked me, and all that, perhaps.  Any one
might do that.  But as for anything like--well--taking such liberties
with me--I never dreamed of it.  But listen.  I think I hear some one
coming." Aileen, making a sudden vigorous effort to free herself and
failing, added: "Please let me go, Mr. Lynde. It isn't very gallant of
you, I must say, restraining a woman against her will.  If I had given
you any real cause--I shall be angry in a moment."

Again the even smiling teeth and dark, wrinkling, malicious eyes.

"Really! How you go on! You would think I was a perfect stranger. Don't
you remember what you said to me at lunch? You didn't keep your
promise.  You practically gave me to understand that you would come.
Why didn't you? Are you afraid of me, or don't you like me, or both? I
think you're delicious, splendid, and I want to know."

He shifted his position, putting one arm about her waist, pulling her
close to him, looking into her eyes.  With the other he held her free
arm.  Suddenly he covered her mouth with his and then kissed her
cheeks.  "You care for me, don't you? What did you mean by saying you
might come, if you didn't?"

He held her quite firm, while Aileen struggled.  It was a new sensation
this--that of the other man, and this was Polk Lynde, the first
individual outside of Cowperwood to whom she had ever felt drawn.  But
now, here, in her own room--and it was within the range of
possibilities that Cowperwood might return or the servants enter.

"Oh, but think what you are doing," she protested, not really disturbed
as yet as to the outcome of the contest with him, and feeling as though
he were merely trying to make her be sweet to him without intending
anything more at present--"here in my own room! Really, you're not the
man I thought you were at all, if you don't instantly let me go.  Mr.
Lynde! Mr. Lynde!" (He had bent over and was kissing her).  "Oh, you
shouldn't do this! Really! I--I said I might come, but that was far
from doing it.  And to have you come here and take advantage of me in
this way! I think you're horrid.  If I ever had any interest in you, it
is quite dead now, I can assure you.  Unless you let me go at once, I
give you my word I will never see you any more.  I won't! Really, I
won't! I mean it! Oh, please let me go! I'll scream, I tell you! I'll
never see you again after this day! Oh--" It was an intense but useless
struggle.

Coming home one evening about a week later, Cowperwood found Aileen
humming cheerfully, and yet also in a seemingly deep and reflective
mood.  She was just completing an evening toilet, and looked young and
colorful--quite her avid, seeking self of earlier days.

"Well," he asked, cheerfully, "how have things gone to-day?" Aileen,
feeling somehow, as one will on occasions, that if she had done wrong
she was justified and that sometime because of this she might even win
Cowperwood back, felt somewhat kindlier toward him.  "Oh, very well,"
she replied.  "I stopped in at the Hoecksemas' this afternoon for a
little while.  They're going to Mexico in November. She has the
darlingest new basket-carriage--if she only looked like anything when
she rode in it.  Etta is getting ready to enter Bryn Mawr.  She is all
fussed up about leaving her dog and cat. Then I went down to one of
Lane Cross's receptions, and over to Merrill's"--she was referring to
the great store--"and home.  I saw Taylor Lord and Polk Lynde together
in Wabash Avenue."

"Polk Lynde?" commented Cowperwood.  "Is he interesting?"

"Yes, he is," replied Aileen.  "I never met a man with such perfect
manners.  He's so fascinating.  He's just like a boy, and yet, Heaven
knows, he seems to have had enough worldly experience."

"So I've heard," commented Cowperwood.  "Wasn't he the one that was
mixed up in that Carmen Torriba case here a few years ago?" Cowperwood
was referring to the matter of a Spanish dancer traveling in America
with whom Lynde had been apparently desperately in love.

"Oh yes," replied Aileen, maliciously; "but that oughtn't to make any
difference to you.  He's charming, anyhow.  I like him."

"I didn't say it did, did I? You don't object to my mentioning a mere
incident?"

"Oh, I know about the incident," replied Aileen, jestingly.  "I know
you."

"What do you mean by that?" he asked, studying her face.

"Oh, I know you," she replied, sweetly and yet defensively.  "You think
I'll stay here and be content while you run about with other
women--play the sweet and loving wife? Well, I won't.  I know why you
say this about Lynde.  It's to keep me from being interested in him,
possibly.  Well, I will be if I want to.  I told you I would be, and I
will.  You can do what you please about that.  You don't want me, so
why should you be disturbed as to whether other men are interested in
me or not?"

The truth was that Cowperwood was not clearly thinking of any probable
relation between Lynde and Aileen any more than he was in connection
with her and any other man, and yet in a remote way he was sensing some
one.  It was this that Aileen felt in him, and that brought forth her
seemingly uncalled-for comment.  Cowperwood, under the circumstances,
attempted to be as suave as possible, having caught the implication
clearly.

"Aileen," he cooed, "how you talk! Why do you say that? You know I care
for you.  I can't prevent anything you want to do, and I'm sure you
know I don't want to.  It's you that I want to see satisfied. You know
that I care."

"Yes, I know how you care," replied Aileen, her mood changing for the
moment.  "Don't start that old stuff, please.  I'm sick of it. I know
how you're running around.  I know about Mrs. Hand.  Even the
newspapers make that plain.  You've been home just one evening in the
last eight days, long enough for me to get more than a glimpse of you.
Don't talk to me.  Don't try to bill and coo. I've always known.  Don't
think I don't know who your latest flame is.  But don't begin to whine,
and don't quarrel with me if I go about and get interested in other
men, as I certainly will.  It will be all your fault if I do, and you
know it.  Don't begin and complain.  It won't do you any good.  I'm not
going to sit here and be made a fool of.  I've told you that over and
over.  You don't believe it, but I'm not.  I told you that I'd find
some one one of these days, and I will.  As a matter of fact, I have
already."

At this remark Cowperwood surveyed her coolly, critically, and yet not
unsympathetically; but she swung out of the room with a defiant air
before anything could be said, and went down to the music-room, from
whence a few moments later there rolled up to him from the hall below
the strains of the second Hungarian Rhapsodie, feelingly and for once
movingly played.  Into it Aileen put some of her own wild woe and
misery.  Cowperwood hated the thought for the moment that some one as
smug as Lynde--so good-looking, so suave a society rake--should
interest Aileen; but if it must be, it must be.  He could have no
honest reason for complaint.  At the same time a breath of real sorrow
for the days that had gone swept over him. He remembered her in
Philadelphia in her red cape as a school-girl--in his father's
house--out horseback-riding, driving.  What a splendid, loving girl she
had been--such a sweet fool of love. Could she really have decided not
to worry about him any more? Could it be possible that she might find
some one else who would be interested in her, and in whom she would
take a keen interest? It was an odd thought for him.

He watched her as she came into the dining-room later, arrayed in green
silk of the shade of copper patina, her hair done in a high coil--and
in spite of himself he could not help admiring her.  She looked very
young in her soul, and yet moody--loving (for some one), eager, and
defiant.  He reflected for a moment what terrible things passion and
love are--how they make fools of us all.  "All of us are in the grip of
a great creative impulse," he said to himself.  He talked of other
things for a while--the approaching election, a poster-wagon he had
seen bearing the question, "Shall Cowperwood own the city?" "Pretty
cheap politics, I call that," he commented.  And then he told of
stopping in a so-called Republican wigwam at State and Sixteenth
streets--a great, cheaply erected, unpainted wooden shack with seats,
and of hearing himself bitterly denounced by the reigning orator.  "I
was tempted once to ask that donkey a few questions," he added, "but I
decided I wouldn't."

Aileen had to smile.  In spite of all his faults he was such a
wonderful man--to set a city thus by the ears.  "Yet, what care I how
fair he be, if he be not fair to me."

"Did you meet any one else besides Lynde you liked?" he finally asked,
archly, seeking to gather further data without stirring up too much
feeling.

Aileen, who had been studying him, feeling sure the subject would come
up again, replied: "No, I haven't; but I don't need to.  One is enough."

"What do you mean by that?" he asked, gently.

"Oh, just what I say.  One will do."

"You mean you are in love with Lynde?"

"I mean--oh!" She stopped and surveyed him defiantly.  "What difference
does it make to you what I mean? Yes, I am.  But what do you care? Why
do you sit there and question me? It doesn't make any difference to you
what I do.  You don't want me.  Why should you sit there and try to
find out, or watch? It hasn't been any consideration for you that has
restrained me so far.  Suppose I am in love? What difference would it
make to you?"

"Oh, I care.  You know I care.  Why do you say that?"

"Yes, you care," she flared.  "I know how you care.  Well, I'll just
tell you one thing"--rage at his indifference was driving her on--"I am
in love with Lynde, and what's more, I'm his mistress. And I'll
continue to be.  But what do you care?  Pshaw!"

Her eyes blazed hotly, her color rose high and strong.  She breathed
heavily.

At this announcement, made in the heat of spite and rage generated by
long indifference, Cowperwood sat up for a moment, and his eyes
hardened with quite that implacable glare with which he sometimes
confronted an enemy.  He felt at once there were many things he could
do to make her life miserable, and to take revenge on Lynde, but he
decided after a moment he would not.  It was not weakness, but a sense
of superior power that was moving him.  Why should he be jealous? Had
he not been unkind enough? In a moment his mood changed to one of
sorrow for Aileen, for himself, for life, indeed--its tangles of desire
and necessity.  He could not blame Aileen. Lynde was surely attractive.
He had no desire to part with her or to quarrel with him--merely to
temporarily cease all intimate relations with her and allow her mood to
clear itself up.  Perhaps she would want to leave him of her own
accord.  Perhaps, if he ever found the right woman, this might prove
good grounds for his leaving her.  The right woman--where was she? He
had never found her yet.

"Aileen," he said, quite softly, "I wish you wouldn't feel so bitterly
about this.  Why should you? When did you do this? Will you tell me
that?"

"No, I'll not tell you that," she replied, bitterly.  "It's none of
your affair, and I'll not tell you.  Why should you ask? You don't
care."

"But I do care, I tell you," he returned, irritably, almost roughly.
"When did you? You can tell me that, at least." His eyes had a hard,
cold look for the moment, dying away, though, into kindly inquiry.

"Oh, not long ago.  About a week," Aileen answered, as though she were
compelled.

"How long have you known him?" he asked, curiously.

"Oh, four or five months, now.  I met him last winter."

"And did you do this deliberately--because you were in love with him,
or because you wanted to hurt me?"

He could not believe from past scenes between them that she had ceased
to love him.

Aileen stirred irritably.  "I like that," she flared.  "I did it
because I wanted to, and not because of any love for you--I can tell
you that.  I like your nerve sitting here presuming to question me
after the way you have neglected me." She pushed back her plate, and
made as if to get up.

"Wait a minute, Aileen," he said, simply, putting down his knife and
fork and looking across the handsome table where Sevres, silver, fruit,
and dainty dishes were spread, and where under silk-shaded lights they
sat opposite each other.  "I wish you wouldn't talk that way to me.
You know that I am not a petty, fourth-rate fool. You know that,
whatever you do, I am not going to quarrel with you.  I know what the
trouble is with you.  I know why you are acting this way, and how you
will feel afterward if you go on. It isn't anything I will do--" He
paused, caught by a wave of feeling.

"Oh, isn't it?" she blazed, trying to overcome the emotion that was
rising in herself.  The calmness of him stirred up memories of the
past.  "Well, you keep your sympathy for yourself.  I don't need it.  I
will get along.  I wish you wouldn't talk to me."

She shoved her plate away with such force that she upset a glass in
which was champagne, the wine making a frayed, yellowish splotch on the
white linen, and, rising, hurried toward the door.  She was choking
with anger, pain, shame, regret.

"Aileen! Aileen!" he called, hurrying after her, regardless of the
butler, who, hearing the sound of stirring chairs, had entered. These
family woes were an old story to him.  "It's love you want--not
revenge.  I know--I can tell.  You want to be loved by some one
completely.  I'm sorry.  You mustn't be too hard on me.  I sha'n't be
on you." He seized her by the arm and detained her as they entered the
next room.  By this time Aileen was too ablaze with emotion to talk
sensibly or understand what he was doing.

"Let me go!" she exclaimed, angrily, hot tears in her eyes.  "Let me
go! I tell you I don't love you any more.  I tell you I hate you!" She
flung herself loose and stood erect before him.  "I don't want you to
talk to me! I don't want you to speak to me! You're the cause of all my
troubles.  You're the cause of whatever I do, when I do it, and don't
you dare to deny it! You'll see! You'll see! I'll show you what I'll
do!"

She twisted and turned, but he held her firmly until, in his strong
grasp, as usual, she collapsed and began to cry.  "Oh, I cry," she
declared, even in her tears, "but it will be just the same.  It's too
late! too late!"




Chapter XXXVIII

An Hour of Defeat


The stoic Cowperwood, listening to the blare and excitement that went
with the fall campaign, was much more pained to learn of Aileen's
desertion than to know that he had arrayed a whole social element
against himself in Chicago.  He could not forget the wonder of those
first days when Aileen was young, and love and hope had been the
substance of her being.  The thought ran through all his efforts and
cogitations like a distantly orchestrated undertone. In the main, in
spite of his activity, he was an introspective man, and art, drama, and
the pathos of broken ideals were not beyond him.  He harbored in no way
any grudge against Aileen--only a kind of sorrow over the inevitable
consequences of his own ungovernable disposition, the will to freedom
within himself. Change! Change! the inevitable passing of things! Who
parts with a perfect thing, even if no more than an unreasoning love,
without a touch of self-pity?

But there followed swiftly the sixth of November, with its election,
noisy and irrational, and the latter resulted in a resounding defeat.
Out of the thirty-two Democratic aldermen nominated only ten were
elected, giving the opposition a full two-thirds majority in council,
Messrs. Tiernan and Kerrigan, of course, being safely in their places.
With them came a Republican mayor and all his Republican associates on
the ticket, who were now supposed to carry out the theories of the
respectable and the virtuous.  Cowperwood knew what it meant and
prepared at once to make overtures to the enemy.  From McKenty and
others he learned by degrees the full story of Tiernan's and Kerrigan's
treachery, but he did not store it up bitterly against them.  Such was
life.  They must be looked after more carefully in future, or caught in
some trap and utterly undone.  According to their own accounts, they
had barely managed to scrape through.

"Look at meself! I only won by three hundred votes," archly declared
Mr. Kerrigan, on divers and sundry occasions.  "By God, I almost lost
me own ward!"

Mr. Tiernan was equally emphatic.  "The police was no good to me," he
declared, firmly.  "They let the other fellows beat up me men. I only
polled six thousand when I should have had nine."

But no one believed them.

While McKenty meditated as to how in two years he should be able to
undo this temporary victory, and Cowperwood was deciding that
conciliation was the best policy for him, Schryhart, Hand, and Arneel,
joining hands with young MacDonald, were wondering how they could make
sure that this party victory would cripple Cowperwood and permanently
prevent him from returning to power.  It was a long, intricate fight
that followed, but it involved (before Cowperwood could possibly reach
the new aldermen) a proposed reintroduction and passage of the
much-opposed General Electric franchise, the granting of rights and
privileges in outlying districts to various minor companies, and last
and worst--a thing which had not previously dawned on Cowperwood as in
any way probable--the projection of an ordinance granting to a certain
South Side corporation the privilege of erecting and operating an
elevated road.  This was as severe a blow as any that had yet been
dealt Cowperwood, for it introduced a new factor and complication into
the Chicago street-railway situation which had hitherto, for all its
troubles, been comparatively simple.

In order to make this plain it should be said that some eighteen or
twenty years before in New York there had been devised and erected a
series of elevated roads calculated to relieve the congestion of
traffic on the lower portion of that long and narrow island, and they
had proved an immense success.  Cowperwood had been interested in them,
along with everything else which pertained to public street traffic,
from the very beginning.  In his various trips to New York he had made
a careful physical inspection of them.  He knew all about their
incorporation, backers, the expense connected with them, their returns,
and so forth.  Personally, in so far as New York was concerned, he
considered them an ideal solution of traffic on that crowded island.
Here in Chicago, where the population was as yet comparatively
small--verging now toward a million, and widely scattered over a great
area--he did not feel that they would be profitable--certainly not for
some years to come.  What traffic they gained would be taken from the
surface lines, and if he built them he would be merely doubling his
expenses to halve his profits.  From time to time he had contemplated
the possibility of their being built by other men--providing they could
secure a franchise, which previous to the late election had not seemed
probable--and in this connection he had once said to Addison: "Let them
sink their money, and about the time the population is sufficient to
support the lines they will have been driven into the hands of
receivers.  That will simply chase the game into my bag, and I can buy
them for a mere song."  With this conclusion Addison had agreed.  But
since this conversation circumstances made the construction of these
elevated roads far less problematic.

In the first place, public interest in the idea of elevated roads was
increasing.  They were a novelty, a factor in the life of New York; and
at this time rivalry with the great cosmopolitan heart was very keen in
the mind of the average Chicago citizen.  Public sentiment in this
direction, however naive or unworthy, was nevertheless sufficient to
make any elevated road in Chicago popular for the time being.  In the
second place, it so happened that because of this swelling tide of
municipal enthusiasm, this renaissance of the West, Chicago had finally
been chosen, at a date shortly preceding the present campaign, as the
favored city for an enormous international fair--quite the largest ever
given in America.  Men such as Hand, Schryhart, Merrill, and Arneel, to
say nothing of the various newspaper publishers and editors, had been
enthusiastic supporters of the project, and in this Cowperwood had been
one with them.  No sooner, however, had the award actually been granted
than Cowperwood's enemies made it their first concern to utilize the
situation against him.

To begin with, the site of the fair, by aid of the new anti-Cowperwood
council, was located on the South Side, at the terminus of the
Schryhart line, thus making the whole city pay tribute to that
corporation.  Simultaneously the thought suddenly dawned upon the
Schryhart faction that it would be an excellent stroke of business if
the New York elevated-road idea were now introduced into the city--not
so much with the purpose of making money immediately, but in order to
bring the hated magnate to an understanding that he had a formidable
rival which might invade the territory that he now monopolized,
curtailing his and thus making it advisable for him to close out his
holdings and depart.  Bland and interesting were the conferences held
by Mr. Schryhart with Mr. Hand, and by Mr. Hand with Mr. Arneel on this
subject.  Their plan as first outlined was to build an elevated road on
the South Side--south of the proposed fair-grounds--and once that was
popular--having previously secured franchises which would cover the
entire field, West, South, and North--to construct the others at their
leisure, and so to bid Mr. Cowperwood a sweet and smiling adieu.

Cowperwood, awaiting the assembling of the new city council one month
after election, did not propose to wait in peace and quiet until the
enemy should strike at him unprepared.  Calling those familiar agents,
his corporation attorneys, around him, he was shortly informed of the
new elevated-road idea, and it gave him a real shock.  Obviously Hand
and Schryhart were now in deadly earnest.  At once he dictated a letter
to Mr. Gilgan asking him to call at his office.  At the same time he
hurriedly adjured his advisers to use due diligence in discovering what
influences could be brought to bear on the new mayor, the honorable
Chaffee Thayer Sluss, to cause him to veto the ordinances in case they
came before him--to effect in him, indeed, a total change of heart.

The Hon. Chaffee Thayer Sluss, whose attitude in this instance was to
prove crucial, was a tall, shapely, somewhat grandiloquent person who
took himself and his social and commercial opportunities and doings in
the most serious and, as it were, elevated light. You know, perhaps,
the type of man or woman who, raised in an atmosphere of comparative
comfort and some small social pretension, and being short of those gray
convolutions in the human brain-pan which permit an individual to see
life in all its fortuitousness and uncertainty, proceed because of an
absence of necessity and the consequent lack of human experience to
take themselves and all that they do in the most reverential and
Providence-protected spirit. The Hon. Chaffee Thayer Sluss reasoned
that, because of the splendid ancestry on which he prided himself, he
was an essentially honest man.  His father had amassed a small fortune
in the wholesale harness business.  The wife whom at the age of
twenty-eight he had married--a pretty but inconsequential type of
woman--was the daughter of a pickle manufacturer, whose wares were in
some demand and whose children had been considered good "catches" in
the neighborhood from which the Hon. Chaffee Sluss emanated.  There had
been a highly conservative wedding feast, and a honeymoon trip to the
Garden of the Gods and the Grand Canon.  Then the sleek Chaffee, much
in the grace of both families because of his smug determination to rise
in the world, had returned to his business, which was that of a
paper-broker, and had begun with the greatest care to amass a
competence on his own account.

The Honorable Chaffee, be it admitted, had no particular faults, unless
those of smugness and a certain over-carefulness as to his own
prospects and opportunities can be counted as such.  But he had one
weakness, which, in view of his young wife's stern and somewhat
Puritanic ideas and the religious propensities of his father and
father-in-law, was exceedingly disturbing to him.  He had an eye for
the beauty of women in general, and particularly for plump, blonde
women with corn-colored hair.  Now and then, in spite of the fact that
he had an ideal wife and two lovely children, he would cast a
meditative and speculative eye after those alluring forms that cross
the path of all men and that seem to beckon slyly by implication if not
by actual, open suggestion.

However, it was not until several years after Mr. Sluss had married,
and when he might have been considered settled in the ways of
righteousness, that he actually essayed to any extent the role of a gay
Lothario.  An experience or two with the less vigorous and vicious
girls of the streets, a tentative love affair with a girl in his office
who was not new to the practices she encouraged, and he was fairly
launched.  He lent himself at first to the great folly of pretending to
love truly; but this was taken by one and another intelligent young
woman with a grain of salt.  The entertainment and preferment he could
provide were accepted as sufficient reward.  One girl, however,
actually seduced, had to be compensated by five thousand dollars--and
that after such terrors and heartaches (his wife, her family, and his
own looming up horribly in the background) as should have cured him
forever of a penchant for stenographers and employees generally.
Thereafter for a long time he confined himself strictly to such
acquaintances as he could make through agents, brokers, and
manufacturers who did business with him, and who occasionally invited
him to one form of bacchanalian feast or another.

As time went on he became wiser, if, alas, a little more eager. By
association with merchants and some superior politicians whom he
chanced to encounter, and because the ward in which he lived happened
to be a pivotal one, he began to speak publicly on occasion and to
gather dimly the import of that logic which sees life as a pagan wild,
and religion and convention as the forms man puts on or off to suit his
fancy, mood, and whims during the onward drift of the ages.  Not for
Chaffee Thayer Sluss to grasp the true meaning of it all.  His brain
was not big enough.  Men led dual lives, it was true; but say what you
would, and in the face of his own erring conduct, this was very bad.
On Sunday, when he went to church with his wife, he felt that religion
was essential and purifying. In his own business he found himself
frequently confronted by various little flaws of logic relating to
undue profits, misrepresentations, and the like; but say what you
would, nevertheless and notwithstanding, God was God, morality was
superior, the church was important.  It was wrong to yield to one's
impulses, as he found it so fascinating to do.  One should be better
than his neighbor, or pretend to be.

What is to be done with such a rag-bag, moralistic ass as this? In
spite of all his philanderings, and the resultant qualms due to his
fear of being found out, he prospered in business and rose to some
eminence in his own community.  As he had grown more lax he had become
somewhat more genial and tolerant, more generally acceptable.  He was a
good Republican, a follower in the wake of Norrie Simms and young
Truman Leslie MacDonald.  His father-in-law was both rich and
moderately influential.  Having lent himself to some campaign speaking,
and to party work in general, he proved quite an adept.  Because of all
these things--his ability, such as it was, his pliability, and his
thoroughly respectable savor--he had been slated as candidate for mayor
on the Republican ticket, which had subsequently been elected.

Cowperwood was well aware, from remarks made in the previous campaign,
of the derogatory attitude of Mayor Sluss.  Already he had discussed it
in a conversation with the Hon. Joel Avery (ex-state senator), who was
in his employ at the time.  Avery had recently been in all sorts of
corporation work, and knew the ins and outs of the courts--lawyers,
judges, politicians--as he knew his revised statutes.  He was a very
little man--not more than five feet one inch tall--with a wide
forehead, saffron hair and brows, brown, cat-like eyes and a mushy
underlip that occasionally covered the upper one as he thought.  After
years and years Mr. Avery had learned to smile, but it was in a
strange, exotic way. Mostly he gazed steadily, folded his lower lip
over his upper one, and expressed his almost unchangeable conclusions
in slow Addisonian phrases.  In the present crisis it was Mr. Avery who
had a suggestion to make.

"One thing that I think could be done," he said to Cowperwood one day
in a very confidential conference, "would be to have a look into
the--the--shall I say the heart affairs--of the Hon. Chaffee Thayer
Sluss." Mr. Avery's cat-like eyes gleamed sardonically. "Unless I am
greatly mistaken, judging the man by his personal presence merely, he
is the sort of person who probably has had, or if not might readily be
induced to have, some compromising affair with a woman which would
require considerable sacrifice on his part to smooth over.  We are all
human and vulnerable"--up went Mr. Avery's lower lip covering the upper
one, and then down again--"and it does not behoove any of us to be too
severely ethical and self-righteous.  Mr. Sluss is a well-meaning man,
but a trifle sentimental, as I take it."

As Mr. Avery paused Cowperwood merely contemplated him, amused no less
by his personal appearance than by his suggestion.

"Not a bad idea," he said, "though I don't like to mix heart affairs
with politics."

"Yes," said Mr. Avery, soulfully, "there may be something in it. I
don't know.  You never can tell."

The upshot of this was that the task of obtaining an account of Mr.
Sluss's habits, tastes, and proclivities was assigned to that now
rather dignified legal personage, Mr. Burton Stimson, who in turn
assigned it to an assistant, a Mr. Marchbanks.  It was an amazing
situation in some respects, but those who know anything concerning the
intricacies of politics, finance, and corporate control, as they were
practised in those palmy days, would never marvel at the wells of
subtlety, sinks of misery, and morasses of disaster which they
represented.

From another quarter, the Hon. Patrick Gilgan was not slow in
responding to Cowperwood's message.  Whatever his political connections
and proclivities, he did not care to neglect so powerful a man.

"And what can I be doing for you to-day, Mr. Cowperwood?" he inquired,
when he arrived looking nice and fresh, very spick and span after his
victory.

"Listen, Mr. Gilgan," said Cowperwood, simply, eying the Republican
county chairman very fixedly and twiddling his thumbs with fingers
interlocked, "are you going to let the city council jam through the
General Electric and that South Side 'L' road ordinance without giving
me a chance to say a word or do anything about it?"

Mr. Gilgan, so Cowperwood knew, was only one of a new quadrumvirate
setting out to rule the city, but he pretended to believe that he was
the last word--an all power and authority--after the fashion of
McKenty.  "Me good man," replied Gilgan, archly, "you flatter me.  I
haven't the city council in me vest pocket.  I've been county chairman,
it's true, and helped to elect some of these men, but I don't own 'em.
Why shouldn't they pass the General Electric ordinance? It's an honest
ordinance, as far as I know.  All the newspapers have been for it.  As
for this 'L' road ordinance, I haven't anything to do with it.  It
isn't anything I know much about.  Young MacDonald and Mr. Schryhart
are looking after that."

As a matter of fact, all that Mr. Gilgan was saying was decidedly true.
A henchman of young MacDonald's who was beginning to learn to play
politics--an alderman by the name of Klemm--had been scheduled as a
kind of field-marshal, and it was MacDonald--not Gilgan, Tiernan,
Kerrigan, or Edstrom--who was to round up the recalcitrant aldermen,
telling them their duty.  Gilgan's quadrumvirate had not as yet got
their machine in good working order, though they were doing their best
to bring this about.  "I helped to elect every one of these men, it's
true; but that doesn't mean I'm running 'em by any means," concluded
Gilgan.  "Not yet, anyhow."

At the "not yet" Cowperwood smiled.

"Just the same, Mr. Gilgan," he went on, smoothly, "you're the nominal
head and front of this whole movement in opposition to me at present,
and you're the one I have to look to.  You have this present Republican
situation almost entirely in your own fingers, and you can do about as
you like if you're so minded.  If you choose you can persuade the
members of council to take considerable more time than they otherwise
would in passing these ordinances--of that I'm sure.  I don't know
whether you know or not, Mr. Gilgan, though I suppose you do, that this
whole fight against me is a strike campaign intended to drive me out of
Chicago.  Now you're a man of sense and judgment and considerable
business experience, and I want to ask you if you think that is fair.
I came here some sixteen or seventeen years ago and went into the gas
business.   It was an open field, the field I undertook to
develop--outlying towns on the North, South, and West sides.  Yet the
moment I started the old-line companies began to fight me, though I
wasn't invading their territory at all at the time."

"I remember it well enough," replied Gilgan.  "I was one of the men
that helped you to get your Hyde Park franchise.  You'd never have got
it if it hadn't been for me.  That fellow McKibben," added Gilgan, with
a grin, "a likely chap, him.  He always walked as if he had on rubber
shoes.  He's with you yet, I suppose?"

"Yes, he's around here somewhere," replied Cowperwood, loftily. "But to
go back to this other matter, most of the men that are behind this
General Electric ordinance and this 'L' road franchise were in the gas
business--Blackman, Jules, Baker, Schryhart, and others--and they are
angry because I came into their field, and angrier still because they
had eventually to buy me out.  They're angry because I reorganized
these old-fashioned street-railway companies here and put them on their
feet.  Merrill is angry because I didn't run a loop around his store,
and the others are angry because I ever got a loop at all.  They're all
angry because I managed to step in and do the things that they should
have done long before.  I came here--and that's the whole story in a
nutshell. I've had to have the city council with me to be able to do
anything at all, and because I managed to make it friendly and keep it
so they've turned on me in that section and gone into politics.  I know
well enough, Mr. Gilgan," concluded Cowperwood, "who has been behind
you in this fight.  I've known all along where the money has been
coming from.  You've won, and you've won handsomely, and I for one
don't begrudge you your victory in the least; but what I want to know
now is, are you going to help them carry this fight on against me in
this way, or are you not? Are you going to give me a fighting chance?
There's going to be another election in two years.  Politics isn't a
bed of roses that stays made just because you make it once.  These
fellows that you have got in with are a crowd of silk stockings.  They
haven't any sympathy with you or any one like you.  They're willing to
be friendly with you now--just long enough to get something out of you
and club me to death. But after that how long do you think they will
have any use for you--how long?"

"Not very long, maybe," replied Gilgan, simply and contemplatively,
"but the world is the world, and we have to take it as we find it."

"Quite so," replied Cowperwood, undismayed; "but Chicago is Chicago,
and I will be here as long as they will.  Fighting me in this
fashion--building elevated roads to cut into my profits and giving
franchises to rival companies--isn't going to get me out or seriously
injure me, either.  I'm here to stay, and the political situation as it
is to-day isn't going to remain the same forever and ever.  Now, you
are an ambitious man; I can see that.  You're not in politics for your
health--that I know.  Tell me exactly what it is you want and whether I
can't get it for you as quick if not quicker than these other fellows?
What is it I can do for you that will make you see that my side is just
as good as theirs and better? I am playing a legitimate game in
Chicago.  I've been building up an excellent street-car service.  I
don't want to be annoyed every fifteen minutes by a rival company
coming into the field.  Now, what can I do to straighten this out?
Isn't there some way that you and I can come together without fighting
at every step? Can't you suggest some programme we can both follow that
will make things easier?"

Cowperwood paused, and Gilgan thought for a long time.  It was true, as
Cowperwood said, that he was not in politics for his health.  The
situation, as at present conditioned, was not inherently favorable for
the brilliant programme he had originally mapped out for himself.
Tiernan, Kerrigan, and Edstrom were friendly as yet; but they were
already making extravagant demands; and the reformers--those who had
been led by the newspapers to believe that Cowperwood was a scoundrel
and all his works vile--were demanding that a strictly moral programme
be adhered to in all the doings of council, and that no jobs,
contracts, or deals of any kind be entered into without the full
knowledge of the newspapers and of the public. Gilgan, even after the
first post-election conference with his colleagues, had begun to feel
that he was between the devil and the deep sea, but he was feeling his
way, and not inclined to be in too much of a hurry.

"It's rather a flat proposition you're makin' me," he said softly,
after a time, "askin' me to throw down me friends the moment I've won a
victory for 'em.  It's not the way I've been used to playin' politics.
There may be a lot of truth in what you say.  Still, a man can't be
jumpin' around like a cat in a bag.  He has to be faithful to somebody
sometime." Mr. Gilgan paused, considerably nonplussed by his own
position.

"Well," replied Cowperwood, sympathetically, "think it over.  It's
difficult business, this business of politics.  I'm in it, for one,
only because I have to be.  If you see any way you can help me, or I
can help you, let me know.  In the mean time don't take in bad part
what I've just said.  I'm in the position of a man with his hack to the
wall.  I'm fighting for my life.  Naturally, I'm going to fight.  But
you and I needn't be the worse friends for that.  We may become the
best of friends yet."

"It's well I know that," said Gilgan, "and it's the best of friends I'd
like to be with you.  But even if I could take care of the aldermen,
which I couldn't alone as yet, there's the mayor.  I don't know him at
all except to say how-do-ye-do now and then; but he's very much opposed
to you, as I understand it.  He'll be running around most likely and
talking in the papers.  A man like that can do a good deal."

"I may be able to arrange for that," replied Cowperwood.  "Perhaps Mr.
Sluss can be reached.  It may be that he isn't as opposed to me as he
thinks he is.  You never can tell."




Chapter XXXIX

The New Administration


Oliver Marchbanks, the youthful fox to whom Stimson had assigned the
task of trapping Mr. Sluss in some legally unsanctioned act, had by
scurrying about finally pieced together enough of a story to make it
exceedingly unpleasant for the Honorable Chaffee in case he were to
become the too willing tool of Cowperwood's enemies. The principal
agent in this affair was a certain Claudia Carlstadt--adventuress,
detective by disposition, and a sort of smiling prostitute and
hireling, who was at the same time a highly presentable and experienced
individual.  Needless to say, Cowperwood knew nothing of these minor
proceedings, though a genial nod from him in the beginning had set in
motion the whole machinery of trespass in this respect.

Claudia Carlstadt--the instrument of the Honorable Chaffee's
undoing--was blonde, slender, notably fresh as yet, being only
twenty-six, and as ruthless and unconsciously cruel as only the
avaricious and unthinking type--unthinking in the larger philosophic
meaning of the word--can be.  To grasp the reason for her being, one
would have had to see the spiritless South Halstead Street world from
which she had sprung--one of those neighborhoods of old, cracked, and
battered houses where slatterns trudge to and fro with beer-cans and
shutters swing on broken hinges.  In her youth Claudia had been made to
"rush the growler," to sell newspapers at the corner of Halstead and
Harrison streets, and to buy cocaine at the nearest drug store.  Her
little dresses and underclothing had always been of the poorest and
shabbiest material--torn and dirty, her ragged stockings frequently
showed the white flesh of her thin little legs, and her shoes were worn
and cracked, letting the water and snow seep through in winter.  Her
companions were wretched little street boys of her own neighborhood,
from whom she learned to swear and to understand and indulge in vile
practices, though, as is often the case with children, she was not
utterly depraved thereby, at that.  At eleven, when her mother died,
she ran away from the wretched children's home to which she had been
committed, and by putting up a piteous tale she was harbored on the
West Side by an Irish family whose two daughters were clerks in a large
retail store.  Through these Claudia became a cash-girl. Thereafter
followed an individual career as strange and checkered as anything that
had gone before.  Sufficient to say that Claudia's native intelligence
was considerable.  At the age of twenty she had managed--through her
connections with the son of a shoe manufacturer and with a rich
jeweler--to amass a little cash and an extended wardrobe.  It was then
that a handsome young Western Congressman, newly elected, invited her
to Washington to take a position in a government bureau.  This
necessitated a knowledge of stenography and typewriting, which she soon
acquired.  Later she was introduced by a Western Senator into that form
of secret service which has no connection with legitimate government,
but which is profitable.  She was used to extract secrets by flattery
and cajolery where ordinary bribery would not avail.  A matter of
tracing the secret financial connections of an Illinois Congressman
finally brought her back to Chicago, and here young Stimson encountered
her.  From him she learned of the political and financial conspiracy
against Cowperwood, and was in an odd manner fascinated. From her
Congressmen friends she already knew something of Sluss. Stimson
indicated that it would be worth two or three thousand dollars and
expenses if the mayor were successfully compromised. Thus Claudia
Carlstadt was gently navigated into Mr. Sluss's glowing life.

The matter was not so difficult of accomplishment.  Through the Hon.
Joel Avery, Marchbanks secured a letter from a political friend of Mr.
Sluss in behalf of a young widow--temporarily embarrassed, a competent
stenographer, and the like--who wished a place under the new
administration.  Thus equipped, Claudia presented herself at the
mayor's office armed for the fray, as it were, in a fetching black silk
of a strangely heavy grain, her throat and fingers ornamented with
simple pearls, her yellow hair arranged about her temples in exquisite
curls.  Mr. Sluss was very busy, but made an appointment.  The next
time she appeared a yellow and red velvet rose had been added to her
corsage.  She was a shapely, full-bosomed young woman who had acquired
the art of walking, sitting, standing, and bending after the most
approved theories of the Washington cocotte.  Mr. Sluss was interested
at once, but circumspect and careful.  He was now mayor of a great
city, the cynosure of all eyes.  It seemed to him he remembered having
already met Mrs. Brandon, as the lady styled herself, and she reminded
him where. It had been two years before in the grill of the Richelieu.
He immediately recalled details of the interesting occasion.

"Ah, yes, and since then, as I understand it, you married and your
husband died.  Most unfortunate."

Mr. Sluss had a large international manner suited, as he thought, to a
man in so exalted a position.

Mrs. Brandon nodded resignedly.  Her eyebrows and lashes were carefully
darkened so as to sweeten the lines of her face, and a dimple had been
made in one cheek by the aid of an orange stick. She was the picture of
delicate femininity appealingly distressful, and yet to all appearance
commercially competent.

"At the time I met you you were connected with the government service
in Washington, I believe."

"Yes, I had a small place in the Treasury Department, but this new
administration put me out."

She lifted her eyes and leaned forward, thus bringing her torso into a
ravishing position.  She had the air of one who has done many things
besides work in the Treasury Department.  No least detail, as she
observed, was lost on Mr. Sluss.  He noted her shoes, which were button
patent leather with cloth tops; her gloves, which were glace black kid
with white stitching at the back and fastened by dark-gamet buttons;
the coral necklace worn on this occasion, and her yellow and red velvet
rose.  Evidently a trig and hopeful widow, even if so recently bereaved.

"Let me see," mused Mr. Sluss, "where are you living? Just let me make
a note of your address.  This is a very nice letter from Mr. Barry.
Suppose you give me a few days to think what I can do? This is Tuesday.
Come in again on Friday.  I'll see if anything suggests itself."

He strolled with her to the official door, and noted that her step was
light and springy.  At parting she turned a very melting gaze upon him,
and at once he decided that if he could he would find her something.
She was the most fascinating applicant that had yet appeared.

The end of Chaffee Thayer Sluss was not far distant after this. Mrs.
Brandon returned, as requested, her costume enlivened this time by a
red-silk petticoat which contrived to show its ingratiating flounces
beneath the glistening black broadcloth of her skirt.

"Say, did you get on to that?" observed one of the doormen, a hold-over
from the previous regime, to another of the same vintage. "Some style
to the new administration, hey? We're not so slow, do you think?"

He pulled his coat together and fumbled at his collar to give himself
an air of smartness, and gazed gaily at his partner, both of them over
sixty and dusty specimens, at that.

The other poked him in the stomach.  "Hold your horses there, Bill. Not
so fast.  We ain't got a real start yet.  Give us another six months,
and then watch out."

Mr. Sluss was pleased to see Mrs. Brandon.  He had spoken to John
Bastienelli, the new commissioner of taxes, whose offices were directly
over the way on the same hall, and the latter, seeing that he might
want favors of the mayor later on, had volubly agreed to take care of
the lady.

"I am very glad to be able to give you this letter to Mr. Bastienelli,"
commented Mr. Sluss, as he rang for a stenographer, "not only for the
sake of my old friend Mr. Barry, but for your own as well. Do you know
Mr. Barry very well?" he asked, curiously.

"Only slightly," admitted Mrs. Brandon, feeling that Mr. Sluss would be
glad to know she was not very intimate with those who were recommending
her.  "I was sent to him by a Mr. Amerman." (She named an entirely
fictitious personage.)

Mr. Sluss was relieved.  As he handed her the note she once more
surveyed him with those grateful, persuasive, appealing eyes. They made
him almost dizzy, and set up a chemical perturbation in his blood which
quite dispelled his good resolutions in regard to the strange woman and
his need of being circumspect.

"You say you are living on the North Side?" he inquired, smiling
weakly, almost foolishly.

"Yes, I have taken such a nice little apartment over-looking Lincoln
Park.  I didn't know whether I was going to be able to keep it up, but
now that I have this position-- You've been so very kind to me, Mr.
Sluss," she concluded, with the same I-need-to-be-cared-for air.  "I
hope you won't forget me entirely. If I could be of any personal
service to you at any time--"

Mr. Sluss was rather beside himself at the thought that this charming
baggage of femininity, having come so close for the minute, was now
passing on and might disappear entirely.  By a great effort of daring,
as they walked toward the door, he managed to say: "I shall have to
look into that little place of yours sometime and see how you are
getting along.  I live up that way myself."

"Oh, do!" she exclaimed, warmly.  "It would be so kind.  I am
practically alone in the world.  Perhaps you play cards.  I know how to
make a most wonderful punch.  I should like you to see how cozily I am
settled."

At this Mr. Sluss, now completely in tow of his principal weakness,
capitulated.  "I will," he said, "I surely will.  And that sooner than
you expect, perhaps.  You must let me know how you are getting along."

He took her hand.  She held his quite warmly.  "Now I'll hold you to
your promise," she gurgled, in a throaty, coaxing way.  A few days
later he encountered her at lunch-time in his hall, where she had been
literally lying in wait for him in order to repeat her invitation.
Then he came.

The hold-over employees who worked about the City Hall in connection
with the mayor's office were hereafter instructed to note as witnesses
the times of arrival and departure of Mrs. Brandon and Mr. Sluss.  A
note that he wrote to Mrs. Brandon was carefully treasured, and
sufficient evidence as to their presence at hotels and restaurants was
garnered to make out a damaging case.  The whole affair took about four
months; then Mrs. Brandon suddenly received an offer to return to
Washington, and decided to depart. The letters that followed her were a
part of the data that was finally assembled in Mr. Stimson's office to
be used against Mr. Sluss in case he became too obstreperous in his
opposition to Cowperwood.

In the mean time the organization which Mr. Gilgan had planned with Mr.
Tiernan, Mr. Kerrigan, and Mr. Edstrom was encountering what might be
called rough sledding.  It was discovered that, owing to the
temperaments of some of the new aldermen, and to the self-righteous
attitude of their political sponsors, no franchises of any kind were to
be passed unless they had the moral approval of such men as Hand,
Sluss, and the other reformers; above all, no money of any kind was to
be paid to anybody for anything.

"Whaddye think of those damn four-flushers and come-ons, anyhow?"
inquired Mr. Kerrigan of Mr. Tiernan, shortly subsequent to a
conference with Gilgan, from which Tiernan had been unavoidably absent.
"They've got an ordinance drawn up covering the whole city in an
elevated-road scheme, and there ain't anything in it for anybody.  Say,
whaddye think they think we are, anyhow?  Hey?"

Mr. Tiernan himself, after his own conference with Edstrom, had been
busy getting the lay of the land, as he termed it; and his
investigations led him to believe that a certain alderman by the name
of Klemm, a clever and very respectable German-American from the North
Side, was to be the leader of the Republicans in council, and that he
and some ten or twelve others were determined, because of moral
principles alone, that only honest measures should be passed.  It was
staggering.

At this news Mr. Kerrigan, who had been calculating on a number of
thousands of dollars for his vote on various occasions, stared
incredulously.  "Well, I'll be damned!" he commented.  "They've got a
nerve! What?"

"I've been talking to this fellow Klemm of the twentieth," said Mr.
Tiernan, sardonically.  "Say, he's a real one! I met him over at the
Tremont talkin' to Hvranek.  He shakes hands like a dead fish.  Whaddye
think he had the nerve to say to me.  'This isn't the Mr. Tiernan of
the second?' he says.

"'I'm the same,' says I.

"'Well, you don't look as savage as I thought you did,' says he.
Haw-haw! I felt like sayin', 'If you don't go way I'll give you a
slight tap on the wrist.' I'd like just one pass at a stiff like that
up a dark alley." (Mr. Tiernan almost groaned in anguish.) "And then he
begins to say he doesn't see how there can be any reasonable objection
to allowin' various new companies to enter the street-car field.  'It's
sufficiently clear,' he says, 'that the public is against monopolies in
any form.'" (Mr. Tiernan was mocking Mr. Klemm's voice and language.)
"My eye!" he concluded, sententiously.  "Wait till he tries to throw
that dope into Gumble and Pinski and Schlumbohm--haw, haw, haw!"

Mr. Kerrigan, at the thought of these hearty aldermen accustomed to all
the perquisites of graft and rake-off, leaned back and gave vent to a
burst of deep-chested laughter.  "I'll tell you what it is, Mike," he
said, archly, hitching up his tight, very artistic, and almost English
trousers, "we're up against a bunch of pikers in this Gilgan crowd, and
they've gotta be taught a lesson.  He knows it as well as anybody else.
None o' that Christian con game goes around where I am.  I believe this
man Cowperwood's right when he says them fellows are a bunch of
soreheads and jealous. If Cowperwood's willing to put down good hard
money to keep 'em out of his game, let them do as much to stay in it.
This ain't no charity grab-bag.  We ought to be able to round up enough
of these new fellows to make Schryhart and MacDonald come down good and
plenty for what they want.  From what Gilgan said all along, I thought
he was dealing with live ones.  They paid to win the election.  Now let
'em pay to pull off a swell franchise if they want it, eh?"

"You're damn right," echoed Tiernan.  "I'm with you to a T."

It was not long after this conversation that Mr. Truman Leslie
MacDonald, acting through Alderman Klemm, proceeded to make a count of
noses, and found to his astonishment that he was not as strong as he
had thought he was.  Political loyalty is such a fickle thing.  A
number of aldermen with curious names--Horback, Fogarty, McGrane,
Sumulsky--showed signs of being tampered with. He hurried at once to
Messrs. Hand, Schryhart, and Arneel with this disconcerting
information.  They had been congratulating themselves that the recent
victory, if it resulted in nothing else, would at least produce a
blanket 'L' road franchise, and that this would be sufficient to bring
Cowperwood to his knees.

Upon receiving MacDonald's message Hand sent at once for Gilgan. When
he inquired as to how soon a vote on the General Electric
franchise--which had been introduced by Mr. Klemm--could reasonably be
expected, Gilgan declared himself much grieved to admit that in one
direction or other considerable opposition seemed to have developed to
the measure.

"What's that?" said Hand, a little savagely.  "Didn't we make a plain
bargain in regard to this? You had all the money you asked for, didn't
you? You said you could give me twenty-six aldermen who would vote as
we agreed.  You're not going to go back on your bargain, are you?"

"Bargain! bargain!" retorted Gilgan, irritated because of the spirit of
the assault.  "I agreed to elect twenty-six Republican aldermen, and
that I did.  I don't own 'em body and soul.  I didn't name 'em in every
case.  I made deals with the men in the different wards that had the
best chance, and that the people wanted.  I'm not responsible for any
crooked work that's going on behind my back, am I? I'm not responsible
for men's not being straight if they're not?"

Mr. Gilgan's face was an aggrieved question-mark.

"But you had the picking of these men," insisted Mr. Hand,
aggressively.  "Every one of them had your personal indorsement. You
made the deals with them.  You don't mean to say they're going back on
their sacred agreement to fight Cowperwood tooth and nail? There can't
be any misunderstanding on their part as to what they were elected to
do.  The newspapers have been full of the fact that nothing favorable
to Cowperwood was to be put through."

"That's all true enough," replied Mr. Gilgan; "but I can't be held
responsible for the private honesty of everybody.  Sure I selected
these men.  Sure I did! But I selected them with the help of the rest
of the Republicans and some of the Democrats.  I had to make the best
terms I could--to pick the men that could win.  As far as I can find
out most of 'em are satisfied not to do anything for Cowperwood.  It's
passing these ordinances in favor of other people that's stirring up
the trouble."

Mr. Hand's broad forehead wrinkled, and his blue eyes surveyed Mr.
Gilgan with suspicion.  "Who are these men, anyhow?" he inquired. "I'd
like to get a list of them."

Mr. Gilgan, safe in his own subtlety, was ready with a toll of the
supposed recalcitrants.  They must fight their own battles.  Mr. Hand
wrote down the names, determining meanwhile to bring pressure to bear.
He decided also to watch Mr. Gilgan.  If there should prove to be a
hitch in the programme the newspapers should be informed and commanded
to thunder appropriately.  Such aldermen as proved unfaithful to the
great trust imposed on them should be smoked out, followed back to the
wards which had elected them, and exposed to the people who were behind
them.  Their names should be pilloried in the public press.  The
customary hints as to Cowperwood's deviltry and trickery should be
redoubled.

But in the mean time Messrs. Stimson, Avery, McKibben, Van Sickle, and
others were on Cowperwood's behalf acting separately upon various
unattached aldermen--those not temperamentally and chronically allied
with the reform idea--and making them understand that if they could
find it possible to refrain from supporting anti-Cowperwood measures
for the next two years, a bonus in the shape of an annual salary of two
thousand dollars or a gift in some other form--perhaps a troublesome
note indorsed or a mortgage taken care of--would be forthcoming,
together with a guarantee that the general public should never know.
In no case was such an offer made direct. Friends or neighbors, or
suave unidentified strangers, brought mysterious messages.  By this
method some eleven aldermen--quite apart from the ten regular Democrats
who, because of McKenty and his influence, could be counted upon--had
been already suborned. Although Schryhart, Hand, and Arneel did not
know it, their plans--even as they planned--were being thus undermined,
and, try as they would, the coveted ordinance for a blanket franchise
persistently eluded them.  They had to content themselves for the time
being with a franchise for a single 'L' road line on the South Side in
Schryhart's own territory, and with a franchise to the General Electric
covering only one unimportant line, which it would be easy for
Cowperwood, if he continued in power, to take over at some later time.




Chapter XL

A Trip to Louisville


The most serious difficulty confronting Cowperwood from now on was
really not so much political as financial.  In building up and
financing his Chicago street-railway enterprises he had, in those days
when Addison was president of the Lake City National, used that bank as
his chief source of supply.  Afterward, when Addison had been forced to
retire from the Lake City to assume charge of the Chicago Trust
Company, Cowperwood had succeeded in having the latter designated as a
central reserve and in inducing a number of rural banks to keep their
special deposits in its vaults. However, since the war on him and his
interests had begun to strengthen through the efforts of Hand and
Arneel--men most influential in the control of the other
central-reserve banks of Chicago, and in close touch with the money
barons of New York--there were signs not wanting that some of the
country banks depositing with the Chicago Trust Company had been
induced to withdraw because of pressure from outside inimical forces,
and that more were to follow.  It was some time before Cowperwood fully
realized to what an extent this financial opposition might be directed
against himself.  In its very beginning it necessitated speedy
hurryings to New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Baltimore,
Boston--even London at times--on the chance that there would be loose
and ready cash in someone's possession.  It was on one of these
peregrinations that he encountered a curious personality which led to
various complications in his life, sentimental and otherwise, which he
had not hitherto contemplated.

In various sections of the country Cowperwood had met many men of
wealth, some grave, some gay, with whom he did business, and among
these in Louisville, Kentucky, he encountered a certain Col. Nathaniel
Gillis, very wealthy, a horseman, inventor, roue, from whom he
occasionally extracted loans.  The Colonel was an interesting figure in
Kentucky society; and, taking a great liking to Cowperwood, he found
pleasure, during the brief periods in which they were together, in
piloting him about.  On one occasion in Louisville he observed:
"To-night, Frank, with your permission, I am going to introduce you to
one of the most interesting women I know.  She isn't good, but she's
entertaining.  She has had a troubled history. She is the ex-wife of
two of my best friends, both dead, and the ex-mistress of another.  I
like her because I knew her father and mother, and because she was a
clever little girl and still is a nice woman, even if she is getting
along.  She keeps a sort of house of convenience here in Louisville for
a few of her old friends. You haven't anything particular to do
to-night, have you? Suppose we go around there?"

Cowperwood, who was always genially sportive when among strong men--a
sort of bounding collie--and who liked to humor those who could be of
use to him, agreed.

"It sounds interesting to me.  Certainly I'll go.  Tell me more about
her.  Is she good-looking?"

"Rather.  But better yet, she is connected with a number of women who
are." The Colonel, who had a small, gray goatee and sportive dark eyes,
winked the latter solemnly.

Cowperwood arose.

"Take me there," he said.

It was a rainy night.  The business on which he was seeing the Colonel
required another day to complete.  There was little or nothing to do.
On the way the Colonel retailed more of the life history of Nannie
Hedden, as he familiarly called her, and explained that, although this
was her maiden name, she had subsequently become first Mrs. John
Alexander Fleming, then, after a divorce, Mrs. Ira George Carter, and
now, alas! was known among the exclusive set of fast livers, to which
he belonged, as plain Hattie Starr, the keeper of a more or less secret
house of ill repute.  Cowperwood did not take so much interest in all
this until he saw her, and then only because of two children the
Colonel told him about, one a girl by her first marriage, Berenice
Fleming, who was away in a New York boarding-school, the other a boy,
Rolfe Carter, who was in a military school for boys somewhere in the
West.

"That daughter of hers," observed the Colonel, "is a chip of the old
block, unless I miss my guess.  I only saw her two or three times a few
years ago when I was down East at her mother's summer home; but she
struck me as having great charm even for a girl of ten.  She's a lady
born, if ever there was one.  How her mother is to keep her straight,
living as she does, is more than I know. How she keeps her in that
school is a mystery.  There's apt to be a scandal here at any time.
I'm very sure the girl doesn't know anything about her mother's
business.  She never lets her come out here."

"Berenice Fleming," Cowperwood thought to himself.  "What a pleasing
name, and what a peculiar handicap in life."

"How old is the daughter now?" he inquired.

"Oh, she must be about fifteen--not more than that."

When they reached the house, which was located in a rather somber,
treeless street, Cowperwood was surprised to find the interior spacious
and tastefully furnished.  Presently Mrs. Carter, as she was generally
known in society, or Hattie Starr, as she was known to a less
satisfying world, appeared.  Cowperwood realized at once that he was in
the presence of a woman who, whatever her present occupation, was not
without marked evidences of refinement.  She was exceedingly
intelligent, if not highly intellectual, trig, vivacious, anything but
commonplace.  A certain spirited undulation in her walk, a seeming gay,
frank indifference to her position in life, an obvious accustomedness
to polite surroundings took his fancy.  Her hair was built up in a
loose Frenchy way, after the fashion of the empire, and her cheeks were
slightly mottled with red veins.  Her color was too high, and yet it
was not utterly unbecoming.  She had friendly gray-blue eyes, which
went well with her light-brown hair; along with a pink flowered
house-gown, which became her fulling figure, she wore pearls.

"The widow of two husbands," thought Cowperwood; "the mother of two
children!" With the Colonel's easy introduction began a light
conversation.  Mrs. Carter gracefully persisted that she had known of
Cowperwood for some time.  His strenuous street-railway operations were
more or less familiar to her.

"It would be nice," she suggested, "since Mr. Cowperwood is here, if we
invited Grace Deming to call."

The latter was a favorite of the Colonel's.

"I would be very glad if I could talk to Mrs. Carter," gallantly
volunteered Cowperwood--he scarcely knew why.  He was curious to learn
more of her history.  On subsequent occasions, and in more extended
conversation with the Colonel, it was retailed to him in full.

Nannie Hedden, or Mrs. John Alexander Fleming, or Mrs. Ira George
Carter, or Hattie Starr, was by birth a descendant of a long line of
Virginia and Kentucky Heddens and Colters, related in a definite or
vague way to half the aristocracy of four or five of the surrounding
states.  Now, although still a woman of brilliant parts, she was the
keeper of a select house of assignation in this meager city of perhaps
two hundred thousand population.  How had it happened? How could it
possibly have come about? She had been in her day a reigning beauty.
She had been born to money and had married money.  Her first husband,
John Alexander Fleming, who had inherited wealth, tastes, privileges,
and vices from a long line of slave-holding, tobacco-growing Flemings,
was a charming man of the Kentucky-Virginia society type.  He had been
trained in the law with a view to entering the diplomatic service, but,
being an idler by nature, had never done so.  Instead, horse-raising,
horse-racing, philandering, dancing, hunting, and the like, had taken
up his time.  When their wedding took place the Kentucky-Virginia
society world considered it a great match.  There was wealth on both
sides.  Then came much more of that idle social whirl which had
produced the marriage.  Even philanderings of a very vital character
were not barred, though deception, in some degree at least, would be
necessary.  As a natural result there followed the appearance in the
mountains of North Carolina during a charming autumn outing of a gay
young spark by the name of Tucker Tanner, and the bestowal on him by
the beautiful Nannie Fleming--as she was then called--of her temporary
affections.  Kind friends were quick to report what Fleming himself did
not see, and Fleming, roue that he was, encountering young Mr. Tanner
on a high mountain road one evening, said to him, "You get out of this
party by night, or I will let daylight through you in the morning."
Tucker Tanner, realizing that however senseless and unfair the
exaggerated chivalry of the South might be, the end would be bullets
just the same, departed.  Mrs. Fleming, disturbed but unrepentant,
considered herself greatly abused.  There was much scandal.  Then came
quarrels, drinking on both sides, finally a divorce.  Mr. Tucker Tanner
did not appear to claim his damaged love, but the aforementioned Ira
George Carter, a penniless never-do-well of the same generation and
social standing, offered himself and was accepted.  By the first
marriage there had been one child, a girl.  By the second there was
another child, a boy.  Ira George Carter, before the children were old
enough to impress Mrs. Carter with the importance of their needs or her
own affection for them, had squandered, in one ridiculous venture after
another, the bulk of the property willed to her by her father, Major
Wickham Hedden.  Ultimately, after drunkenness and dissipation on the
husband's side, and finally his death, came the approach of poverty.
Mrs. Carter was not practical, and still passionate and inclined to
dissipation. However, the aimless, fatuous going to pieces of Ira
George Carter, the looming pathos of the future of the children, and a
growing sense of affection and responsibility had finally sobered her.
The lure of love and life had not entirely disappeared, but her chance
of sipping at those crystal founts had grown sadly slender. A woman of
thirty-eight and still possessing some beauty, she was not content to
eat the husks provided for the unworthy.  Her gorge rose at the thought
of that neglected state into which the pariahs of society fall and on
which the inexperienced so cheerfully comment.  Neglected by her own
set, shunned by the respectable, her fortune quite gone, she was
nevertheless determined that she would not be a back-street seamstress
or a pensioner upon the bounty of quondam friends.  By insensible
degrees came first unhallowed relationships through friendship and
passing passion, then a curious intermediate state between the high
world of fashion and the half world of harlotry, until, finally, in
Louisville, she had become, not openly, but actually, the mistress of a
house of ill repute.  Men who knew how these things were done, and who
were consulting their own convenience far more than her welfare,
suggested the advisability of it.  Three or four friends like Colonel
Gillis wished rooms--convenient place in which to loaf, gamble, and
bring their women.  Hattie Starr was her name now, and as such she had
even become known in a vague way to the police--but only vaguely--as a
woman whose home was suspiciously gay on occasions.

Cowperwood, with his appetite for the wonders of life, his appreciation
of the dramas which produce either failure or success, could not help
being interested in this spoiled woman who was sailing so vaguely the
seas of chance.  Colonel Gillis once said that with some strong man to
back her, Nannie Fleming could be put back into society.  She had a
pleasant appeal--she and her two children, of whom she never spoke.
After a few visits to her home Cowperwood spent hours talking with Mrs.
Carter whenever he was in Louisville.  On one occasion, as they were
entering her boudoir, she picked up a photograph of her daughter from
the dresser and dropped it into a drawer.  Cowperwood had never seen
this picture before.  It was that of a girl of fifteen or sixteen, of
whom he obtained but the most fleeting glance.  Yet, with that instinct
for the essential and vital which invariably possessed him, he gained a
keen impression of it.  It was of a delicately haggard child with a
marvelously agreeable smile, a fine, high-poised head upon a thin neck,
and an air of bored superiority.  Combined with this was a touch of
weariness about the eyelids which drooped in a lofty way.  Cowperwood
was fascinated.  Because of the daughter he professed an interest in
the mother, which he really did not feel.

A little later Cowperwood was moved to definite action by the discovery
in a photographer's window in Louisville of a second picture of
Berenice--a rather large affair which Mrs. Carter had had enlarged from
a print sent her by her daughter some time before. Berenice was
standing rather indifferently posed at the corner of a colonial mantel,
a soft straw outing-hat held negligently in one hand, one hip sunk
lower than the other, a faint, elusive smile playing dimly around her
mouth.  The smile was really not a smile, but only the wraith of one,
and the eyes were wide, disingenuous, mock-simple.  The picture because
of its simplicity, appealed to him.  He did not know that Mrs. Carter
had never sanctioned its display.  "A personage," was Cowperwood's
comment to himself, and he walked into the photographer's office to see
what could be done about its removal and the destruction of the plates.
A half-hundred dollars, he found, would arrange it all--plates, prints,
everything. Since by this ruse he secured a picture for himself, he
promptly had it framed and hung in his Chicago rooms, where sometimes
of an afternoon when he was hurrying to change his clothes he stopped
to look at it.  With each succeeding examination his admiration and
curiosity grew.  Here was perhaps, he thought, the true society woman,
the high-born lady, the realization of that ideal which Mrs. Merrill
and many another grande dame had suggested.

It was not so long after this again that, chancing to be in Louisville,
he discovered Mrs. Carter in a very troubled social condition.  Her
affairs had received a severe setback.  A certain Major Hagenback, a
citizen of considerable prominence, had died in her home under peculiar
circumstances.  He was a man of wealth, married, and nominally living
with his wife in Lexington.  As a matter of fact, he spent very little
time there, and at the time of his death of heart failure was leading a
pleasurable existence with a Miss Trent, an actress, whom he had
introduced to Mrs. Carter as his friend.  The police, through a
talkative deputy coroner, were made aware of all the facts.  Pictures
of Miss Trent, Mrs. Carter, Major Hagenback, his wife, and many curious
details concerning Mrs. Carter's home were about to appear in the
papers when Colonel Gillis and others who were powerful socially and
politically interfered; the affair was hushed up, but Mrs. Carter was
in distress.  This was more than she had bargained for.

Her quondam friends were frightened away for the nonce.  She herself
had lost courage.  When Cowperwood saw her she had been in the very
human act of crying, and her eyes were red.

"Well, well," he commented, on seeing her--she was in moody gray in the
bargain--"you don't mean to tell me you're worrying about anything, are
you?"

"Oh, Mr. Cowperwood," she explained, pathetically, "I have had so much
trouble since I saw you.  You heard of Major Hagenback's death, didn't
you?" Cowperwood, who had heard something of the story from Colonel
Gillis, nodded.  "Well, I have just been notified by the police that I
will have to move, and the landlord has given me notice, too.  If it
just weren't for my two children--"

She dabbed at her eyes pathetically.

Cowperwood meditated interestedly.

"Haven't you any place you can go?" he asked.

"I have a summer place in Pennsylvania," she confessed; "but I can't go
there very well in February.  Besides, it's my living I'm worrying
about.  I have only this to depend on."

She waved her hand inclusively toward the various rooms.  "Don't you
own that place in Pennsylvania?" he inquired.

"Yes, but it isn't worth much, and I couldn't sell it.  I've been
trying to do that anyhow for some time, because Berenice is getting
tired of it."

"And haven't you any money laid away?"

"It's taken all I have to run this place and keep the children in
school.  I've been trying to give Berenice and Rolfe a chance to do
something for themselves."

At the repetition of Berenice's name Cowperwood consulted his own
interest or mood in the matter.  A little assistance for her would not
bother him much.  Besides, it would probably eventually bring about a
meeting with the daughter.

"Why don't you clear out of this?" he observed, finally.  "It's no
business to be in, anyhow, if you have any regard for your children.
They can't survive anything like this.  You want to put your daughter
back in society, don't you?"

"Oh yes," almost pleaded Mrs. Carter.

"Precisely," commented Cowperwood, who, when he was thinking, almost
invariably dropped into a short, cold, curt, business manner. Yet he
was humanely inclined in this instance.

"Well, then, why not live in your Pennsylvania place for the present,
or, if not that, go to New York? You can't stay here. Ship or sell
these things." He waved a hand toward the rooms.

"I would only too gladly," replied Mrs. Carter, "if I knew what to do."

"Take my advice and go to New York for the present.  You will get rid
of your expenses here, and I will help you with the rest--for the
present, anyhow.  You can get a start again.  It is too bad about these
children of yours.  I will take care of the boy as soon as he is old
enough.  As for Berenice"--he used her name softly--"if she can stay in
her school until she is nineteen or twenty the chances are that she
will make social connections which will save her nicely.  The thing for
you to do is to avoid meeting any of this old crowd out here in the
future if you can.  It might be advisable to take her abroad for a time
after she leaves school."

"Yes, if I just could," sighed Mrs. Carter, rather lamely.

"Well, do what I suggest now, and we will see," observed Cowperwood.
"It would be a pity if your two children were to have their lives
ruined by such an accident as this."

Mrs. Carter, realizing that here, in the shape of Cowperwood, if he
chose to be generous, was the open way out of a lowering dungeon of
misery, was inclined to give vent to a bit of grateful emotion, but,
finding him subtly remote, restrained herself.  His manner, while
warmly generous at times, was also easily distant, except when he
wished it to be otherwise.  Just now he was thinking of the high soul
of Berenice Fleming and of its possible value to him.




Chapter XLI

The Daughter of Mrs. Fleming


Berenice Fleming, at the time Cowperwood first encountered her mother,
was an inmate of the Misses Brewster's School for Girls, then on
Riverside Drive, New York, and one of the most exclusive establishments
of its kind in America.  The social prestige and connections of the
Heddens, Flemings, and Carters were sufficient to gain her this
introduction, though the social fortunes of her mother were already at
this time on the down grade.  A tall girl, delicately haggard, as he
had imagined her, with reddish-bronze hair of a tinge but distantly
allied to that of Aileen's, she was unlike any woman Cowperwood had
ever known.  Even at seventeen she stood up and out with an
inexplicable superiority which brought her the feverish and exotic
attention of lesser personalities whose emotional animality found an
outlet in swinging a censer at her shrine.

A strange maiden, decidedly! Even at this age, when she was, as one
might suppose, a mere slip of a girl, she was deeply conscious of
herself, her sex, her significance, her possible social import. Armed
with a fair skin, a few freckles, an almost too high color at times,
strange, deep, night-blue, cat-like eyes, a long nose, a rather
pleasant mouth, perfect teeth, and a really good chin, she moved always
with a feline grace that was careless, superior, sinuous, and yet the
acme of harmony and a rhythmic flow of lines. One of her mess-hall
tricks, when unobserved by her instructors, was to walk with six plates
and a water-pitcher all gracefully poised on the top of her head after
the fashion of the Asiatic and the African, her hips moving, her
shoulders, neck, and head still. Girls begged weeks on end to have her
repeat this "stunt," as they called it.  Another was to put her arms
behind her and with a rush imitate the Winged Victory, a copy of which
graced the library hall.

"You know," one little rosy-cheeked satellite used to urge on her,
adoringly, "she must have been like you.  Her head must have been like
yours.  You are lovely when you do it."

For answer Berenice's deep, almost black-blue eyes turned on her
admirer with solemn unflattered consideration.  She awed always by the
something that she did not say.

The school, for all the noble dames who presided over it--solemn,
inexperienced owl-like conventionalists who insisted on the last tittle
and jot of order and procedure--was a joke to Berenice. She recognized
the value of its social import, but even at fifteen and sixteen she was
superior to it.  She was superior to her superiors and to the specimens
of maidenhood--supposed to be perfect socially--who gathered about to
hear her talk, to hear her sing, declaim, or imitate.  She was deeply,
dramatically, urgently conscious of the value of her personality in
itself, not as connected with any inherited social standing, but of its
innate worth, and of the artistry and wonder of her body.  One of her
chief delights was to walk alone in her room--sometimes at night, the
lamp out, the moon perhaps faintly illuminating her chamber--and to
pose and survey her body, and dance in some naive, graceful, airy Greek
way a dance that was singularly free from sex consciousness--and yet
was it? She was conscious of her body--of every inch of it--under the
ivory-white clothes which she frequently wore.  Once she wrote in a
secret diary which she maintained--another art impulse or an
affectation, as you will: "My skin is so wonderful.  It tingles so with
rich life.  I love it and my strong muscles underneath. I love my hands
and my hair and my eyes.  My hands are long and thin and delicate; my
eyes are a dark, deep blue; my hair is a brown, rusty red, thick and
sleepy.  My long, firm, untired limbs can dance all night.  Oh, I love
life! I love life!"

You would not have called Berenice Fleming sensuous--though she
was--because she was self-controlled.  Her eyes lied to you.  They lied
to all the world.  They looked you through and through with a calm
savoir faire, a mocking defiance, which said with a faint curl of the
lips, barely suggested to help them out, "You cannot read me, you
cannot read me." She put her head to one side, smiled, lied (by
implication), assumed that there was nothing.  And there was nothing,
as yet.  Yet there was something, too--her inmost convictions, and
these she took good care to conceal.  The world--how little it should
ever, ever know!  How little it ever could know truly!

The first time Cowperwood encountered this Circe daughter of so
unfortunate a mother was on the occasion of a trip to New York, the
second spring following his introduction to Mrs. Carter in Louisville.
Berenice was taking some part in the closing exercises of the Brewster
School, and Mrs. Carter, with Cowperwood for an escort, decided to go
East.  Cowperwood having located himself at the Netherlands, and Mrs.
Carter at the much humbler Grenoble, they journeyed together to visit
this paragon whose picture he had had hanging in his rooms in Chicago
for months past.  When they were introduced into the somewhat somber
reception parlor of the Brewster School, Berenice came slipping in
after a few moments, a noiseless figure of a girl, tall and slim, and
deliciously sinuous. Cowperwood saw at first glance that she fulfilled
all the promise of her picture, and was delighted.  She had, he
thought, a strange, shrewd, intelligent smile, which, however, was
girlish and friendly. Without so much as a glance in his direction she
came forward, extending her arms and hands in an inimitable histrionic
manner, and exclaimed, with a practised and yet natural inflection:
"Mother, dear! So here you are really! You know, I've been thinking of
you all morning.  I wasn't sure whether you would come to-day, you
change about so.  I think I even dreamed of you last night."

Her skirts, still worn just below the shoe-tops, had the richness of
scraping silk then fashionable.  She was also guilty of using a faint
perfume of some kind.

Cowperwood could see that Mrs. Carter, despite a certain nervousness
due to the girl's superior individuality and his presence, was very
proud of her.  Berenice, he also saw quickly, was measuring him out of
the tail of her eye--a single sweeping glance which she vouchsafed from
beneath her long lashes sufficing; but she gathered quite accurately
the totality of Cowperwood's age, force, grace, wealth, and worldly
ability.  Without hesitation she classed him as a man of power in some
field, possibly finance, one of the numerous able men whom her mother
seemed to know.  She always wondered about her mother.  His large gray
eyes, that searched her with lightning accuracy, appealed to her as
pleasant, able eyes.  She knew on the instant, young as she was, that
he liked women, and that probably he would think her charming; but as
for giving him additional attention it was outside her code.  She
preferred to be interested in her dear mother exclusively.

"Berenice," observed Mrs. Carter, airily, "let me introduce Mr.
Cowperwood."

Berenice turned, and for the fraction of a second leveled a frank and
yet condescending glance from wells of what Cowperwood considered to be
indigo blue.

"Your mother has spoken of you from time to time," he said, pleasantly.

She withdrew a cool, thin hand as limp and soft as wax, and turned to
her mother again without comment, and yet without the least
embarrassment.  Cowperwood seemed in no way important to her.

"What would you say, dear," pursued Mrs. Carter, after a brief exchange
of commonplaces, "if I were to spend next winter in New York?"

"It would be charming if I could live at home.  I'm sick of this silly
boarding-school."

"Why, Berenice! I thought you liked it."

"I hate it, but only because it's so dull.  The girls here are so
silly."

Mrs. Carter lifted her eyebrows as much as to say to her escort, "Now
what do you think?" Cowperwood stood solemnly by.  It was not for him
to make a suggestion at present.  He could see that for some
reason--probably because of her disordered life--Mrs. Carter was
playing a game of manners with her daughter; she maintained always a
lofty, romantic air.  With Berenice it was natural--the expression of a
vain, self-conscious, superior disposition.

"A rather charming garden here," he observed, lifting a curtain and
looking out into a blooming plot.

"Yes, the flowers are nice," commented Berenice.

"Wait; I'll get some for you.  It's against the rules, but they can't
do more than send me away, and that's what I want."

"Berenice! Come back here!"

It was Mrs. Carter calling.

The daughter was gone in a fling of graceful lines and flounces. "Now
what do you make of her?" asked Mrs. Carter, turning to her friend.

"Youth, individuality, energy--a hundred things.  I see nothing wrong
with her."

"If I could only see to it that she had her opportunities unspoiled."

Already Berenice was returning, a subject for an artist in almost
studied lines.  Her arms were full of sweet-peas and roses which she
had ruthlessly gathered.

"You wilful girl!" scolded her mother, indulgently.  "I shall have to
go and explain to your superiors.  Whatever shall I do with her, Mr.
Cowperwood?"

"Load her with daisy chains and transport her to Cytherea," commented
Cowperwood, who had once visited this romantic isle, and therefore knew
its significance.

Berenice paused.  "What a pretty speech that is!" she exclaimed. "I
have a notion to give you a special flower for that.  I will, too." She
presented him with a rose.

For a girl who had slipped in shy and still, Cowperwood commented, her
mood had certainly changed.  Still, this was the privilege of the born
actress, to change.  And as he viewed Berenice Fleming now he felt her
to be such--a born actress, lissome, subtle, wise, indifferent,
superior, taking the world as she found it and expecting it to obey--to
sit up like a pet dog and be told to beg.  What a charming character!
What a pity it should not be allowed to bloom undisturbed in its
make-believe garden! What a pity, indeed!




Chapter XLII

F. A. Cowperwood, Guardian


It was some time after this first encounter before Cowperwood saw
Berenice again, and then only for a few days in that region of the
Pocono Mountains where Mrs. Carter had her summer home.  It was an
idyllic spot on a mountainside, some three miles from Stroudsburg,
among a peculiar juxtaposition of hills which, from the comfortable
recesses of a front veranda, had the appearance, as Mrs. Carter was
fond of explaining, of elephants and camels parading in the distance.
The humps of the hills--some of them as high as eighteen hundred
feet--rose stately and green.  Below, quite visible for a mile or more,
moved the dusty, white road descending to Stroudsburg. Out of her
Louisville earnings Mrs. Carter had managed to employ, for the several
summer seasons she had been here, a gardener, who kept the sloping
front lawn in seasonable flowers.  There was a trig two-wheeled trap
with a smart horse and harness, and both Rolfe and Berenice were
possessed of the latest novelty of the day--low-wheeled bicycles, which
had just then superseded the old, high-wheel variety.  For Berenice,
also, was a music-rack full of classic music and song collections, a
piano, a shelf of favorite books, painting-materials, various athletic
implements, and several types of Greek dancing-tunics which she had
designed herself, including sandals and fillet for her hair.  She was
an idle, reflective, erotic person dreaming strange dreams of a near
and yet far-off social supremacy, at other times busying herself with
such social opportunities as came to her.  A more safely calculating
and yet wilful girl than Berenice Fleming would have been hard to find.
By some trick of mental adjustment she had gained a clear prevision of
how necessary it was to select the right socially, and to conceal her
true motives and feelings; and yet she was by no means a snob,
mentally, nor utterly calculating.  Certain things in her own and in
her mother's life troubled her--quarrels in her early days, from her
seventh to her eleventh year, between her mother and her stepfather,
Mr. Carter; the latter's drunkenness verging upon delirium tremens at
times; movings from one place to another--all sorts of sordid and
depressing happenings.  Berenice had been an impressionable child.
Some things had gripped her memory mightily--once, for instance, when
she had seen her stepfather, in the presence of her governess, kick a
table over, and, seizing the toppling lamp with demoniac skill, hurl it
through a window. She, herself, had been tossed by him in one of these
tantrums, when, in answer to the cries of terror of those about her, he
had shouted: "Let her fall! It won't hurt the little devil to break a
few bones." This was her keenest memory of her stepfather, and it
rather softened her judgment of her mother, made her sympathetic with
her when she was inclined to be critical.  Of her own father she only
knew that he had divorced her mother--why, she could not say.  She
liked her mother on many counts, though she could not feel that she
actually loved her--Mrs. Carter was too fatuous at times, and at other
times too restrained.  This house at Pocono, or Forest Edge, as Mrs.
Carter had named it, was conducted after a peculiar fashion.  From June
to October only it was open, Mrs. Carter, in the past, having returned
to Louisville at that time, while Berenice and Rolfe went back to their
respective schools. Rolfe was a cheerful, pleasant-mannered youth, well
bred, genial, and courteous, but not very brilliant intellectually.
Cowperwood's judgment of him the first time he saw him was that under
ordinary circumstances he would make a good confidential clerk,
possibly in a bank.  Berenice, on the other hand, the child of the
first husband, was a creature of an exotic mind and an opalescent
heart. After his first contact with her in the reception-room of the
Brewster School Cowperwood was deeply conscious of the import of this
budding character.  He was by now so familiar with types and kinds of
women that an exceptional type--quite like an exceptional horse to a
judge of horse-flesh--stood out in his mind with singular vividness.
Quite as in some great racing-stable an ambitious horseman might
imagine that he detected in some likely filly the signs and lineaments
of the future winner of a Derby, so in Berenice Fleming, in the quiet
precincts of the Brewster School, Cowperwood previsioned the central
figure of a Newport lawn fete or a London drawing-room.  Why? She had
the air, the grace, the lineage, the blood--that was why; and on that
score she appealed to him intensely, quite as no other woman before had
ever done.

It was on the lawn of Forest Edge that Cowperwood now saw Berenice. The
latter had had the gardener set up a tall pole, to which was attached a
tennis-ball by a cord, and she and Rolfe were hard at work on a game of
tether-ball.  Cowperwood, after a telegram to Mrs. Carter, had been met
at the station in Pocono by her and rapidly driven out to the house.
The green hills pleased him, the up-winding, yellow road, the
silver-gray cottage with the brown-shingle roof in the distance.  It
was three in the afternoon, and bright for a sinking sun.

"There they are now," observed Mrs. Carter, cheerful and smiling, as
they came out from under a low ledge that skirted the road a little way
from the cottage.  Berenice, executing a tripping, running step to one
side, was striking the tethered ball with her racquet.  "They are hard
at it, as usual.  Two such romps!"

She surveyed them with pleased motherly interest, which Cowperwood
considered did her much credit.  He was thinking that it would be too
bad if her hopes for her children should not be realized.  Yet possibly
they might not be.  Life was very grim.  How strange, he thought, was
this type of woman--at once a sympathetic, affectionate mother and a
panderer to the vices of men.  How strange that she should have these
children at all.  Berenice had on a white skirt, white tennis-shoes, a
pale-cream silk waist or blouse, which fitted her very loosely.
Because of exercise her color was high--quite pink--and her dusty,
reddish hair was blowy.  Though they turned into the hedge gate and
drove to the west entrance, which was at one side of the house, there
was no cessation of the game, not even a glance from Berenice, so busy
was she.

He was merely her mother's friend to her.  Cowperwood noted, with
singular vividness of feeling, that the lines of her movements--the
fleeting, momentary positions she assumed--were full of a wondrous
natural charm.  He wanted to say so to Mrs. Carter, but restrained
himself.

"It's a brisk game," he commented, with a pleased glance.  "You play,
do you?"

"Oh, I did.  I don't much any more.  Sometimes I try a set with Rolfe
or Bevy; but they both beat me so badly."

"Bevy? Who is Bevy?"

"Oh, that's short of Berenice.  It's what Rolfe called her when he was
a baby."

"Bevy! I think that rather nice."

"I always like it, too.  Somehow it seems to suit her, and yet I don't
know why."

Before dinner Berenice made her appearance, freshened by a bath and
clad in a light summer dress that appeared to Cowperwood to be all
flounces, and the more graceful in its lines for the problematic
absence of a corset.  Her face and hands, however--a face thin, long,
and sweetly hollow, and hands that were slim and sinewy--gripped and
held his fancy.  He was reminded in the least degree of Stephanie; but
this girl's chin was firmer and more delicately, though more
aggressively, rounded.  Her eyes, too, were shrewder and less evasive,
though subtle enough.

"So I meet you again," he observed, with a somewhat aloof air, as she
came out on the porch and sank listlessly into a wicker chair.
 "The last time I met you you were hard at work in New York."

"Breaking the rules.  No, I forget; that was my easiest work.  Oh,
Rolfe," she called over her shoulder, indifferently, "I see your
pocket-knife out on the grass."

Cowperwood, properly suppressed, waited a brief space.  "Who won that
exciting game?"

"I did, of course.  I always win at tether-ball."

"Oh, do you?" commented Cowperwood.

"I mean with brother, of course.  He plays so poorly." She turned to
the west--the house faced south--and studied the road which came up
from Stroudsburg.  "I do believe that's Harry Kemp," she added, quite
to herself.  "If so, he'll have my mail, if there is any."

She got up again and disappeared into the house, coming out a few
moments later to saunter down to the gate, which was over a hundred
feet away.  To Cowperwood she seemed to float, so hale and graceful was
she.  A smart youth in blue serge coat, white trousers, and white shoes
drove by in a high-seated trap.

"Two letters for you," he called, in a high, almost falsetto voice. "I
thought you would have eight or nine.  Blessed hot, isn't it?" He had a
smart though somewhat effeminate manner, and Cowperwood at once wrote
him down as an ass.  Berenice took the mail with an engaging smile.
She sauntered past him reading, without so much as a glance.  Presently
he heard her voice within.

"Mother, the Haggertys have invited me for the last week in August. I
have half a mind to cut Tuxedo and go.  I like Bess Haggerty."

"Well, you'll have to decide that, dearest.  Are they going to be at
Tarrytown or Loon Lake?"

"Loon Lake, of course," came Berenice's voice.

What a world of social doings she was involved in, thought Cowperwood.
She had begun well.  The Haggertys were rich coal-mine operators in
Pennsylvania.  Harris Haggerty, to whose family she was probably
referring, was worth at least six or eight million.  The social world
they moved in was high.

They drove after dinner to The Saddler, at Saddler's Run, where a dance
and "moonlight promenade" was to be given.  On the way over, owing to
the remoteness of Berenice, Cowperwood for the first time in his life
felt himself to be getting old.  In spite of the vigor of his mind and
body, he realized constantly that he was over fifty-two, while she was
only seventeen.  Why should this lure of youth continue to possess him?
She wore a white concoction of lace and silk which showed a pair of
smooth young shoulders and a slender, queenly, inimitably modeled neck.
He could tell by the sleek lines of her arms how strong she was.

"It is perhaps too late," he said to himself, in comment.  "I am
getting old."

The freshness of the hills in the pale night was sad.

Saddler's, when they reached there after ten, was crowded with the
youth and beauty of the vicinity.  Mrs. Carter, who was prepossessing
in a ball costume of silver and old rose, expected that Cowperwood
would dance with her.  And he did, but all the time his eyes were on
Berenice, who was caught up by one youth and another of dapper mien
during the progress of the evening and carried rhythmically by in the
mazes of the waltz or schottische.  There was a new dance in vogue that
involved a gay, running step--kicking first one foot and then the other
forward, turning and running backward and kicking again, and then
swinging with a smart air, back to back, with one's partner.  Berenice,
in her lithe, rhythmic way, seemed to him the soul of spirited and
gracious ease--unconscious of everybody and everything save the spirit
of the dance itself as a medium of sweet emotion, of some far-off,
dreamlike spirit of gaiety.  He wondered. He was deeply impressed.

"Berenice," observed Mrs. Carter, when in an intermission she came
forward to where Cowperwood and she were sitting in the moonlight
discussing New York and Kentucky social life, "haven't you saved one
dance for Mr. Cowperwood?"

Cowperwood, with a momentary feeling of resentment, protested that he
did not care to dance any more.  Mrs. Carter, he observed to himself,
was a fool.

"I believe," said her daughter, with a languid air, "that I am full up.
I could break one engagement, though, somewhere."

"Not for me, though, please," pleaded Cowperwood.  "I don't care to
dance any more, thank you."

He almost hated her at the moment for a chilly cat.  And yet he did not.

"Why, Bevy, how you talk! I think you are acting very badly this
evening."

"Please, please," pleaded Cowperwood, quite sharply.  "Not any more.  I
don't care to dance any more."

Bevy looked at him oddly for a moment--a single thoughtful glance.

"But I have a dance, though," she pleaded, softly.  "I was just
teasing.  Won't you dance it with me?

"I can't refuse, of course," replied Cowperwood, coldly.

"It's the next one," she replied.

They danced, but he scarcely softened to her at first, so angry was he.
Somehow, because of all that had gone before, he felt stiff and
ungainly.  She had managed to break in upon his natural savoir
faire--this chit of a girl.  But as they went on through a second half
the spirit of her dancing soul caught him, and he felt more at ease,
quite rhythmic.  She drew close and swept him into a strange unison
with herself.

"You dance beautifully," he said.

"I love it," she replied.  She was already of an agreeable height for
him.

It was soon over.  "I wish you would take me where the ices are," she
said to Cowperwood.

He led her, half amused, half disturbed at her attitude toward him.

"You are having a pleasant time teasing me, aren't you?" he asked.

"I am only tired," she replied.  "The evening bores me.  Really it
does.  I wish we were all home."

"We can go when you say, no doubt."

As they reached the ices, and she took one from his hand, she surveyed
him with those cool, dull blue eyes of hers--eyes that had the flat
quality of unglazed Dutch tiles.

"I wish you would forgive me," she said.  "I was rude.  I couldn't help
it.  I am all out of sorts with myself."

"I hadn't felt you were rude," he observed, lying grandly, his mood
toward her changing entirely.

"Oh yes I was, and I hope you will forgive me.  I sincerely wish you
would."

"I do with all my heart--the little that there is to forgive."

He waited to take her back, and yielded her to a youth who was waiting.
He watched her trip away in a dance, and eventually led her mother to
the trap.  Berenice was not with them on the home drive; some one else
was bringing her.  Cowperwood wondered when she would come, and where
was her room, and whether she was really sorry, and-- As he fell asleep
Berenice Fleming and her slate-blue eyes were filling his mind
completely.




Chapter XLIII

The Planet Mars


The banking hostility to Cowperwood, which in its beginning had made
necessary his trip to Kentucky and elsewhere, finally reached a climax.
It followed an attempt on his part to furnish funds for the building of
elevated roads.  The hour for this new form of transit convenience had
struck.  The public demanded it.  Cowperwood saw one elevated road, the
South Side Alley Line, being built, and another, the West Side
Metropolitan Line, being proposed, largely, as he knew, in order to
create sentiment for the idea, and so to make his opposition to a
general franchise difficult.  He was well aware that if he did not
choose to build them others would.  It mattered little that electricity
had arrived finally as a perfected traction factor, and that all his
lines would soon have to be done over to meet that condition, or that
it was costing him thousands and thousands to stay the threatening
aspect of things politically. In addition he must now plunge into this
new realm, gaining franchises by the roughest and subtlest forms of
political bribery. The most serious aspect of this was not political,
but rather financial.  Elevated roads in Chicago, owing to the
sparseness of the population over large areas, were a serious thing to
contemplate. The mere cost of iron, right of way, rolling-stock, and
power-plants was immense.  Being chronically opposed to investing his
private funds where stocks could just as well be unloaded on the
public, and the management and control retained by him, Cowperwood, for
the time being, was puzzled as to where he should get credit for the
millions to be laid down in structural steel, engineering fees, labor,
and equipment before ever a dollar could be taken out in passenger
fares.  Owing to the advent of the World's Fair, the South Side 'L'--to
which, in order to have peace and quiet, he had finally conceded a
franchise--was doing reasonably well.  Yet it was not making any such
return on the investment as the New York roads.  The new lines which he
was preparing would traverse even less populous sections of the city,
and would in all likelihood yield even a smaller return.  Money had to
be forthcoming--something between twelve and fifteen million
dollars--and this on the stocks and bonds of a purely paper corporation
which might not yield paying dividends for years to come.  Addison,
finding that the Chicago Trust Company was already heavily loaded,
called upon various minor but prosperous local banks to take over the
new securities (each in part, of course).  He was astonished and
chagrined to find that one and all uniformly refused.

"I'll tell you how it is, Judah," one bank president confided to him,
in great secrecy.  "We owe Timothy Arneel at least three hundred
thousand dollars that we only have to pay three per cent. for.  It's a
call-loan.  Besides, the Lake National is our main standby when it
comes to quick trades, and he's in on that.  I understand from one or
two friends that he's at outs with Cowperwood, and we can't afford to
offend him.  I'd like to, but no more for me--not at present, anyhow."

"Why, Simmons," replied Addison, "these fellows are simply cutting off
their noses to spite their faces.  These stock and bond issues are
perfectly good investments, and no one knows it better than you do.
All this hue and cry in the newspapers against Cowperwood doesn't
amount to anything.  He's perfectly solvent.  Chicago is growing.  His
lines are becoming more valuable every year."

"I know that," replied Simmons.  "But what about this talk of a rival
elevated system? Won't that injure his lines for the time being,
anyhow, if it comes into the field?"

"If I know anything about Cowperwood," replied Addison, simply, "there
isn't going to be any rival elevated road.  It's true they got the city
council to give them a franchise for one line on the South Side; but
that's out of his territory, anyhow, and that other one to the Chicago
General Company doesn't amount to anything. It will be years and years
before it can be made to pay a dollar, and when the time comes he will
probably take it over if he wants it.  Another election will be held in
two years, and then the city administration may not be so unfavorable.
As it is, they haven't been able to hurt him through the council as
much as they thought they would."

"Yes; but he lost the election."

"True; but it doesn't follow he's going to lose the next one, or every
one."

"Just the same," replied Simmons, very secretively, "I understand
there's a concerted effort on to drive him out.  Schryhart, Hand,
Merrill, Arneel--they're the most powerful men we have.  I understand
Hand says that he'll never get his franchises renewed except on terms
that'll make his lines unprofitable.  There's going to be an awful
smash here one of these days if that's true." Mr. Simmons looked very
wise and solemn.

"Never believe it," replied Addison, contemptuously.  "Hand isn't
Chicago, neither is Schryhart, nor Arneel.  Cowperwood is a brainy man.
He isn't going to be put under so easily.  Did you ever hear what was
the real bottom cause of all this disturbance?"

"Yes, I've heard," replied Simmons.

"Do you believe it?"

"Oh, I don't know.  Yes, I suppose I do.  Still, I don't know that that
need have anything to do with it.  Money envy is enough to make any man
fight.  This man Hand is very powerful."

Not long after this Cowperwood, strolling into the president's office
of the Chicago Trust Company, inquired: "Well, Judah, how about those
Northwestern 'L' bonds?"

"It's just as I thought, Frank," replied Addison, softly.  "We'll have
to go outside of Chicago for that money.  Hand, Arneel, and the rest of
that crowd have decided to combine against us.  That's plain.
Something has started them off in full cry.  I suppose my resignation
may have had something to do with it.  Anyhow, every one of the banks
in which they have any hand has uniformly refused to come in.  To make
sure that I was right I even called up the little old Third National of
Lake View and the Drovers and Traders on Forty-seventh Street.  That's
Charlie Wallin's bank.  When I was over in the Lake National he used to
hang around the back door asking for anything I could give him that was
sound.  Now he says his orders are from his directors not to share in
anything we have to offer.  It's the same story everywhere--they
daren't.  I asked Wallin if he knew why the directors were down on the
Chicago Trust or on you, and at first he said he didn't.  Then he said
he'd stop in and lunch with me some day.  They're the silliest lot of
old ostriches I ever heard of.  As if refusing to let us have money on
any loan here was going to prevent us from getting it! They can take
their little old one-horse banks and play blockhouses with them if they
want to.  I can go to New York and in thirty-six hours raise twenty
million dollars if we need it."

Addison was a little warm.  It was a new experience for him. Cowperwood
merely curled his mustaches and smiled sardonically.

"Well, never mind," he said.  "Will you go down to New York, or shall
I?"

It was decided, after some talk, that Addison should go.  When he
reached New York he found, to his surprise, that the local opposition
to Cowperwood had, for some mysterious reason, begun to take root in
the East.

"I'll tell you how it is," observed Joseph Haeckelheimer, to whom
Addison applied--a short, smug, pussy person who was the head of
Haeckelheimer, Gotloeb & Co., international bankers.  "We hear odd
things concerning Mr. Cowperwood out in Chicago.  Some people say he is
sound--some not.  He has some very good franchises covering a large
portion of the city, but they are only twenty-year franchises, and they
will all run out by 1903 at the latest.  As I understand it, he has
managed to stir up all the local elements--some very powerful ones,
too--and he is certain to have a hard time to get his franchises
renewed.  I don't live in Chicago, of course.  I don't know much about
it, but our Western correspondent tells me this is so.  Mr. Cowperwood
is a very able man, as I understand it, but if all these influential
men are opposed to him they can make him a great deal of trouble.  The
public is very easily aroused."

"You do a very able man a great injustice, Mr. Haeckelheimer," Addison
retorted.  "Almost any one who starts out to do things successfully and
intelligently is sure to stir up a great deal of feeling.  The
particular men you mention seem to feel that they have a sort of
proprietor's interest in Chicago.  They really think they own it.  As a
matter of fact, the city made them; they didn't make the city."

Mr. Haeckelheimer lifted his eyebrows.  He laid two fine white hands,
plump and stubby, over the lower buttons of his protuberant waistcoat.
"Public favor is a great factor in all these enterprises," he almost
sighed.  "As you know, part of a man's resources lies in his ability to
avoid stirring up opposition.  It may be that Mr. Cowperwood is strong
enough to overcome all that.  I don't know.  I've never met him.  I'm
just telling you what I hear."

This offish attitude on the part of Mr. Haeckelheimer was indicative of
a new trend.  The man was enormously wealthy.  The firm of
Haeckelheimer, Gotloeb & Co. represented a controlling interest in some
of the principal railways and banks in America.  Their favor was not to
be held in light esteem.

It was plain that these rumors against Cowperwood in New York, unless
offset promptly by favorable events in Chicago, might mean--in the
large banking quarters, anyhow--the refusal of all subsequent
Cowperwood issues.  It might even close the doors of minor banks and
make private investors nervous.

Addison's report of all this annoyed Cowperwood no little.  It made him
angry.  He saw in it the work of Schryhart, Hand, and others who were
trying their best to discredit him.  "Let them talk," he declared,
crossly.  "I have the street-railways.  They're not going to rout me
out of here.  I can sell stocks and bonds to the public direct if need
be! There are plenty of private people who are glad to invest in these
properties."

At this psychological moment enter, as by the hand of Fate, the planet
Mars and the University.  This latter, from having been for years a
humble Baptist college of the cheapest character, had suddenly, through
the beneficence of a great Standard Oil multimillionaire, flared upward
into a great university, and was causing a stir throughout the length
and breadth of the educational world.

It was already a most noteworthy spectacle, one of the sights of the
city.  Millions were being poured into it; new and beautiful buildings
were almost monthly erected.  A brilliant, dynamic man had been called
from the East as president.  There were still many things
needed--dormitories, laboratories of one kind and another, a great
library; and, last but not least, a giant telescope--one that would
sweep the heavens with a hitherto unparalleled receptive eye, and wring
from it secrets not previously decipherable by the eye and the mind of
man.

Cowperwood had always been interested in the heavens and in the giant
mathematical and physical methods of interpreting them.  It so happened
that the war-like planet, with its sinister aspect, was just at this
time to be seen hanging in the west, a fiery red; and the easily
aroused public mind was being stirred to its shallow depth by
reflections and speculations regarding the famous canals of the
luminary.  The mere thought of the possibility of a larger telescope
than any now in existence, which might throw additional light on this
evasive mystery, was exciting not only Chicago, but the whole world.
Late one afternoon Cowperwood, looking over some open fields which
faced his new power-house in West Madison Street, observed the planet
hanging low and lucent in the evening sky, a warm, radiant bit of
orange in a sea of silver.  He paused and surveyed it.  Was it true
that there were canals on it, and people? Life was surely strange.

One day not long after this Alexander Rambaud called him up on the
'phone and remarked, jocosely:

"I say, Cowperwood, I've played a rather shabby trick on you just now.
Doctor Hooper, of the University, was in here a few minutes ago asking
me to be one of ten to guarantee the cost of a telescope lens that he
thinks he needs to run that one-horse school of his out there.  I told
him I thought you might possibly be interested. His idea is to find
some one who will guarantee forty thousand dollars, or eight or ten men
who will guarantee four or five thousand each.  I thought of you,
because I've heard you discuss astronomy from time to time."

"Let him come," replied Cowperwood, who was never willing to be behind
others in generosity, particularly where his efforts were likely to be
appreciated in significant quarters.

Shortly afterward appeared the doctor himself--short, rotund, rubicund,
displaying behind a pair of clear, thick, gold-rimmed glasses, round,
dancing, incisive eyes.  Imaginative grip, buoyant, self-delusive
self-respect were written all over him.  The two men eyed each
other--one with that broad-gage examination which sees even
universities as futile in the endless shift of things; the other with
that faith in the balance for right which makes even great personal
forces, such as financial magnates, serve an idealistic end.

"It's not a very long story I have to tell you, Mr. Cowperwood," said
the doctor.  "Our astronomical work is handicapped just now by the
simple fact that we have no lens at all, no telescope worthy of the
name.  I should like to see the University do original work in this
field, and do it in a great way.  The only way to do it, in my
judgment, is to do it better than any one else can.  Don't you agree
with me?" He showed a row of shining white teeth.

Cowperwood smiled urbanely.

"Will a forty-thousand-dollar lens be a better lens than any other
lens?" he inquired.

"Made by Appleman Brothers, of Dorchester, it will," replied the
college president.  "The whole story is here, Mr. Cowperwood. These men
are practical lens-makers.  A great lens, in the first place, is a
matter of finding a suitable crystal.  Large and flawless crystals are
not common, as you may possibly know.  Such a crystal has recently been
found, and is now owned by Mr. Appleman. It takes about four or five
years to grind and polish it.  Most of the polishing, as you may or may
not know, is done by the hand--smoothing it with the thumb and
forefinger.  The time, judgment, and skill of an optical expert is
required.  To-day, unfortunately, that is not cheap.  The laborer is
worthy of his hire, however, I suppose"--he waved a soft, full, white
hand--"and forty thousand is little enough.  It would be a great honor
if the University could have the largest, most serviceable, and most
perfect lens in the world.  It would reflect great credit, I take it,
on the men who would make this possible."

Cowperwood liked the man's artistically educational air; obviously here
was a personage of ability, brains, emotion, and scientific enthusiasm.
It was splendid to him to see any strong man in earnest, for himself or
others.

"And forty thousand will do this?" he asked.

"Yes, sir.  Forty thousand will guarantee us the lens, anyhow."

"And how about land, buildings, a telescope frame? Have you all those
things prepared for it?"

"Not as yet, but, since it takes four years at least to grind the lens,
there will be time enough, when the lens is nearing completion, to look
after the accessories.  We have picked our site, however--Lake
Geneva--and we would not refuse either land or accessories if we knew
where to get them."

Again the even, shining teeth, the keen eyes boring through the glasses.

Cowperwood saw a great opportunity.  He asked what would be the cost of
the entire project.  Dr. Hooper presumed that three hundred thousand
would do it all handsomely--lens, telescope, land, machinery,
building--a great monument.

"And how much have you guaranteed on the cost of your lens?" "Sixteen
thousand dollars, so far."

"To be paid when?"

"In instalments--ten thousand a year for four years.  Just enough to
keep the lens-maker busy for the present."

Cowperwood reflected.  Ten thousand a year for four years would be a
mere salary item, and at the end of that time he felt sure that he
could supply the remainder of the money quite easily.  He would be so
much richer; his plans would be so much more mature. On such a repute
(the ability to give a three-hundred-thousand-dollar telescope out of
hand to be known as the Cowperwood telescope) he could undoubtedly
raise money in London, New York, and elsewhere for his Chicago
enterprise.  The whole world would know him in a day.  He paused, his
enigmatic eyes revealing nothing of the splendid vision that danced
before them.  At last! At last!

"How would it do, Mr. Hooper," he said, sweetly, "if, instead of ten
men giving you four thousand each, as you plan, one man were to give
you forty thousand in annual instalments of ten thousand each? Could
that be arranged as well?"

"My dear Mr. Cowperwood," exclaimed the doctor, glowing, his eyes
alight, "do I understand that you personally might wish to give the
money for this lens?"

"I might, yes.  But I should have to exact one pledge, Mr. Hooper, if I
did any such thing."

"And what would that be?"

"The privilege of giving the land and the building--the whole
telescope, in fact.  I presume no word of this will be given out unless
the matter is favorably acted upon?" he added, cautiously and
diplomatically.

The new president of the university arose and eyed him with a
peculiarly approbative and grateful gaze.  He was a busy, overworked
man.  His task was large.  Any burden taken from his shoulders in this
fashion was a great relief.

"My answer to that, Mr. Cowperwood, if I had the authority, would be to
agree now in the name of the University, and thank you.  For form's
sake, I must submit the matter to the trustees of the University, but I
have no doubt as to the outcome.  I anticipate nothing but grateful
approbation.  Let me thank you again."

They shook hands warmly, and the solid collegian bustled forth.
Cowperwood sank quietly in his chair.  He pressed his fingers together,
and for a moment or two permitted himself to dream. Then he called a
stenographer and began a bit of dictation.  He did not care to think
even to himself how universally advantageous all this might yet prove
to be.

The result was that in the course of a few weeks the proffer was
formally accepted by the trustees of the University, and a report of
the matter, with Cowperwood's formal consent, was given out for
publication.  The fortuitous combination of circumstances already
described gave the matter a unique news value.  Giant reflectors and
refractors had been given and were in use in other parts of the world,
but none so large or so important as this.  The gift was sufficient to
set Cowperwood forth in the light of a public benefactor and patron of
science.  Not only in Chicago, but in London, Paris, and New York,
wherever, indeed, in the great capitals scientific and intellectual men
were gathered, this significant gift of an apparently fabulously rich
American became the subject of excited discussion.  Banking men, among
others, took sharp note of the donor, and when Cowperwood's emissaries
came around later with a suggestion that the fifty-year franchises
about to be voted him for elevated roads should be made a basis of bond
and mortgage loans, they were courteously received.  A man who could
give three-hundred-thousand-dollar telescopes in the hour of his
greatest difficulties must be in a rather satisfactory financial
condition. He must have great wealth in reserve.  After some
preliminaries, during which Cowperwood paid a flying visit to
Threadneedle Street in London, and to Wall Street in New York, an
arrangement was made with an English-American banking company by which
the majority of the bonds for his proposed roads were taken over by
them for sale in Europe and elsewhere, and he was given ample means
wherewith to proceed.  Instantly the stocks of his surface lines
bounded in price, and those who had been scheming to bring about
Cowperwood's downfall gnashed impotent teeth.  Even Haeckelheimer & Co.
were interested.

Anson Merrill, who had only a few weeks before given a large field for
athletic purposes to the University, pulled a wry face over this sudden
eclipse of his glory.  Hosmer Hand, who had given a chemical
laboratory, and Schryhart, who had presented a dormitory, were
depressed to think that a benefaction less costly than theirs should
create, because of the distinction of the idea, so much more notable
comment.  It was merely another example of the brilliant fortune which
seemed to pursue the man, the star that set all their plans at defiance.




Chapter XLIV

A Franchise Obtained


The money requisite for the construction of elevated roads having been
thus pyrotechnically obtained, the acquisition of franchises remained
no easy matter.  It involved, among other problems, the taming of
Chaffee Thayer Sluss, who, quite unconscious of the evidence stored up
against him, had begun to fulminate the moment it was suggested in
various secret political quarters that a new ordinance was about to be
introduced, and that Cowperwood was to be the beneficiary.  "Don't you
let them do that, Mr. Sluss," observed Mr. Hand, who for purposes of
conference had courteously but firmly bidden his hireling, the mayor,
to lunch.  "Don't you let them pass that if you can help it." (As
chairman or president of the city council Mr. Sluss held considerable
manipulative power over the machinery of procedure.) "Raise such a row
that they won't try to pass it over your head.  Your political future
really depends on it--your standing with the people of Chicago.  The
newspapers and the respectable financial and social elements will fully
support you in this.  Otherwise they will wholly desert you.  Things
have come to a handsome pass when men sworn and elected to perform
given services turn on their backers and betray them in this way!"

Mr. Hand was very wroth.

Mr. Sluss, immaculate in black broadcloth and white linen, was very
sure that he would fulfil to the letter all of Mr. Hand's suggestions.
The proposed ordinance should be denounced by him; its legislative
progress heartily opposed in council.

"They shall get no quarter from me!" he declared, emphatically. "I know
what the scheme is.  They know that I know it."

He looked at Mr. Hand quite as one advocate of righteousness should
look at another, and the rich promoter went away satisfied that the
reins of government were in safe hands.  Immediately afterward Mr.
Sluss gave out an interview in which he served warning on all aldermen
and councilmen that no such ordinance as the one in question would ever
be signed by him as mayor.

At half past ten on the same morning on which the interview
appeared--the hour at which Mr. Sluss usually reached his office--his
private telephone bell rang, and an assistant inquired if he would be
willing to speak with Mr. Frank A. Cowperwood.  Mr. Sluss, somehow
anticipating fresh laurels of victory, gratified by the front-page
display given his announcement in the morning papers, and swelling
internally with civic pride, announced, solemnly: "Yes; connect me."

"Mr. Sluss," began Cowperwood, at the other end, "this is Frank A.
Cowperwood."

"Yes.  What can I do for you, Mr. Cowperwood?"

"I see by the morning papers that you state that you will have nothing
to do with any proposed ordinance which looks to giving me a franchise
for any elevated road on the North or West Side?"

"That is quite true," replied Mr. Sluss, loftily.  "I will not."

"Don't you think it is rather premature, Mr. Sluss, to denounce
something which has only a rumored existence?" (Cowperwood, smiling
sweetly to himself, was quite like a cat playing with an unsuspicious
mouse.) "I should like very much to talk this whole matter over with
you personally before you take an irrevocable attitude.  It is just
possible that after you have heard my side you may not be so completely
opposed to me.  From time to time I have sent to you several of my
personal friends, but apparently you do not care to receive them."

"Quite true," replied Mr. Sluss, loftily; "but you must remember that I
am a very busy man, Mr. Cowperwood, and, besides, I do not see how I
can serve any of your purposes.  You are working for a set of
conditions to which I am morally and temperamentally opposed. I am
working for another.  I do not see that we have any common ground on
which to meet.  In fact, I do not see how I can be of any service to
you whatsoever."

"Just a moment, please, Mr. Mayor," replied Cowperwood, still very
sweetly, and fearing that Sluss might choose to hang up the receiver,
so superior was his tone.  "There may be some common ground of which
you do not know.  Wouldn't you like to come to lunch at my residence or
receive me at yours? Or let me come to your office and talk this matter
over.  I believe you will find it the part of wisdom as well as of
courtesy to do this."

"I cannot possibly lunch with you to-day," replied Sluss, "and I cannot
see you, either.  There are a number of things pressing for my
attention.  I must say also that I cannot hold any back-room
conferences with you or your emissaries.  If you come you must submit
to the presence of others."

"Very well, Mr. Sluss," replied Cowperwood, cheerfully.  "I will not
come to your office.  But unless you come to mine before five o'clock
this afternoon you will face by noon to-morrow a suit for breach of
promise, and your letters to Mrs. Brandon will be given to the public.
I wish to remind you that an election is coming on, and that Chicago
favors a mayor who is privately moral as well as publicly so.  Good
morning."

Mr. Cowperwood hung up his telephone receiver with a click, and Mr.
Sluss sensibly and visibly stiffened and paled.  Mrs. Brandon! The
charming, lovable, discreet Mrs. Brandon who had so ungenerously left
him! Why should she be thinking of suing him for breach of promise, and
how did his letter to her come to be in Cowperwood's hands? Good
heavens--those mushy letters! His wife! His children! His church and
the owlish pastor thereof! Chicago! And its conventional, moral,
religious atmosphere! Come to think of it, Mrs. Brandon had scarcely if
ever written him a note of any kind. He did not even know her history.

At the thought of Mrs. Sluss--her hard, cold, blue eyes--Mr. Sluss
arose, tall and distrait, and ran his hand through his hair.  He walked
to the window, snapping his thumb and middle finger and looking eagerly
at the floor.  He thought of the telephone switchboard just outside his
private office, and wondered whether his secretary, a handsome young
Presbyterian girl, had been listening, as usual. Oh, this sad, sad
world! If the North Side ever learned of this--Hand, the newspapers,
young MacDonald--would they protect him? They would not.  Would they
run him for mayor again? Never! Could the public be induced to vote for
him with all the churches fulminating against private immorality,
hypocrites, and whited sepulchers? Oh, Lord! Oh, Lord! And he was so
very, very much respected and looked up to--that was the worst of it
all.  This terrible demon Cowperwood had descended on him, and he had
thought himself so secure.  He had not even been civil to Cowperwood.
What if the latter chose to avenge the discourtesy?

Mr. Sluss went back to his chair, but he could not sit in it.  He went
for his coat, took it down, hung it up again, took it down, announced
over the 'phone that he could not see any one for several hours, and
went out by a private door.  Wearily he walked along North Clark
Street, looking at the hurly-burly of traffic, looking at the dirty,
crowded river, looking at the sky and smoke and gray buildings, and
wondering what he should do.  The world was so hard at times; it was so
cruel.  His wife, his family, his political career.  He could not
conscientiously sign any ordinances for Mr. Cowperwood--that would be
immoral, dishonest, a scandal to the city.  Mr. Cowperwood was a
notorious traitor to the public welfare. At the same time he could not
very well refuse, for here was Mrs. Brandon, the charming and
unscrupulous creature, playing into the hands of Cowperwood.  If he
could only meet her, beg of her, plead; but where was she? He had not
seen her for months and months. Could he go to Hand and confess all?
But Hand was a hard, cold, moral man also.  Oh, Lord! Oh, Lord! He
wondered and thought, and sighed and pondered--all without avail.

Pity the poor earthling caught in the toils of the moral law.  In
another country, perhaps, in another day, another age, such a situation
would have been capable of a solution, one not utterly destructive to
Mr. Sluss, and not entirely favorable to a man like Cowperwood.  But
here in the United States, here in Chicago, the ethical verities would
all, as he knew, be lined up against him. What Lake View would think,
what his pastor would think, what Hand and all his moral associates
would think--ah, these were the terrible, the incontrovertible
consequences of his lapse from virtue.

At four o'clock, after Mr. Sluss had wandered for hours in the snow and
cold, belaboring himself for a fool and a knave, and while Cowperwood
was sitting at his desk signing papers, contemplating a glowing fire,
and wondering whether the mayor would deem it advisable to put in an
appearance, his office door opened and one of his trim stenographers
entered announcing Mr. Chaffee Thayer Sluss.  Enter Mayor Sluss, sad,
heavy, subdued, shrunken, a very different gentleman from the one who
had talked so cavalierly over the wires some five and a half hours
before.  Gray weather, severe cold, and much contemplation of seemingly
irreconcilable facts had reduced his spirits greatly.  He was a little
pale and a little restless.  Mental distress has a reducing, congealing
effect, and Mayor Sluss seemed somewhat less than his usual self in
height, weight, and thickness.  Cowperwood had seen him more than once
on various political platforms, but he had never met him.  When the
troubled mayor entered he arose courteously and waved him to a chair.

"Sit down, Mr. Sluss," he said, genially.  "It's a disagreeable day
out, isn't it? I suppose you have come in regard to the matter we were
discussing this morning?"

Nor was this cordiality wholly assumed.  One of the primal instincts of
Cowperwood's nature--for all his chicane and subtlety--was to take no
rough advantage of a beaten enemy.  In the hour of victory he was
always courteous, bland, gentle, and even sympathetic; he was so
to-day, and quite honestly, too.

Mayor Sluss put down the high sugar-loaf hat he wore and said,
grandiosely, as was his manner even in the direst extremity: "Well, you
see, I am here, Mr. Cowperwood.  What is it you wish me to do, exactly?"

"Nothing unreasonable, I assure you, Mr. Sluss," replied Cowperwood.
"Your manner to me this morning was a little brusque, and, as I have
always wanted to have a sensible private talk with you, I took this way
of getting it.  I should like you to dismiss from your mind at once the
thought that I am going to take an unfair advantage of you in any way.
I have no present intention of publishing your correspondence with Mrs.
Brandon." (As he said this he took from his drawer a bundle of letters
which Mayor Sluss recognized at once as the enthusiastic missives which
he had sometime before penned to the fair Claudia.  Mr. Sluss groaned
as he beheld this incriminating evidence.) "I am not trying," continued
Cowperwood, "to wreck your career, nor to make you do anything which
you do not feel that you can conscientiously undertake.  The letters
that I have here, let me say, have come to me quite by accident. I did
not seek them.  But, since I do have them, I thought I might as well
mention them as a basis for a possible talk and compromise between us."

Cowperwood did not smile.  He merely looked thoughtfully at Sluss;
then, by way of testifying to the truthfulness of what he had been
saying, thumped the letters up and down, just to show that they were
real.

"Yes," said Mr. Sluss, heavily, "I see."

He studied the bundle--a small, solid affair--while Cowperwood looked
discreetly elsewhere.  He contemplated his own shoes, the floor.  He
rubbed his hands and then his knees.

Cowperwood saw how completely he had collapsed.  It was ridiculous,
pitiable.

"Come, Mr. Sluss," said Cowperwood, amiably, "cheer up.  Things are not
nearly as desperate as you think.  I give you my word right now that
nothing which you yourself, on mature thought, could say was unfair
will be done.  You are the mayor of Chicago.  I am a citizen.  I merely
wish fair play from you.  I merely ask you to give me your word of
honor that from now on you will take no part in this fight which is one
of pure spite against me.  If you cannot conscientiously aid me in what
I consider to be a perfectly legitimate demand for additional
franchises, you will, at least, not go out of your way to publicly
attack me.  I will put these letters in my safe, and there they will
stay until the next campaign is over, when I will take them out and
destroy them.  I have no personal feeling against you--none in the
world.  I do not ask you to sign any ordinance which the council may
pass giving me elevated-road rights.  What I do wish you to do at this
time is to refrain from stirring up public sentiment against me,
especially if the council should see fit to pass an ordinance over your
veto. Is that satisfactory?"

"But my friends? The public? The Republican party? Don't you see it is
expected of me that I should wage some form of campaign against you?"
queried Sluss, nervously.

"No, I don't," replied Cowperwood, succinctly, "and, anyhow, there are
ways and ways of waging a public campaign.  Go through the motions, if
you wish, but don't put too much heart in it.  And, anyhow, see some
one of my lawyers from time to time when they call on you.  Judge
Dickensheets is an able and fair man.  So is General Van Sickle.  Why
not confer with them occasionally?--not publicly, of course, but in
some less conspicuous way.  You will find both of them most helpful."

Cowperwood smiled encouragingly, quite beneficently, and Chaffee Thayer
Sluss, his political hopes gone glimmering, sat and mused for a few
moments in a sad and helpless quandary.

"Very well," he said, at last, rubbing his hands feverishly.  "It is
what I might have expected.  I should have known.  There is no other
way, but--" Hardly able to repress the hot tears now burning beneath
his eyelids, the Hon. Mr. Sluss picked up his hat and left the room.
Needless to add that his preachings against Cowperwood were permanently
silenced.




Chapter XLV

Changing Horizons


The effect of all this was to arouse in Cowperwood the keenest feelings
of superiority he had ever yet enjoyed.  Hitherto he had fancied that
his enemies might worst him, but at last his path seemed clear.  He was
now worth, all in all, the round sum of twenty million dollars.  His
art-collection had become the most important in the West--perhaps in
the nation, public collections excluded.  He began to envision himself
as a national figure, possibly even an international one.  And yet he
was coming to feel that, no matter how complete his financial victory
might ultimately be, the chances were that he and Aileen would never be
socially accepted here in Chicago.  He had done too many boisterous
things--alienated too many people.  He was as determined as ever to
retain a firm grip on the Chicago street-railway situation.  But he was
disturbed for a second time in his life by the thought that, owing to
the complexities of his own temperament, he had married unhappily and
would find the situation difficult of adjustment.  Aileen, whatever
might be said of her deficiencies, was by no means as tractable or
acquiescent as his first wife. And, besides, he felt that he owed her a
better turn.  By no means did he actually dislike her as yet; though
she was no longer soothing, stimulating, or suggestive to him as she
had formerly been.  Her woes, because of him, were too many; her
attitude toward him too censorious.  He was perfectly willing to
sympathize with her, to regret his own change of feeling, but what
would you? He could not control his own temperament any more than
Aileen could control hers.

The worst of this situation was that it was now becoming complicated on
Cowperwood's part with the most disturbing thoughts concerning Berenice
Fleming.  Ever since the days when he had first met her mother he had
been coming more and more to feel for the young girl a soul-stirring
passion--and that without a single look exchanged or a single word
spoken.  There is a static something which is beauty, and this may be
clothed in the habiliments of a ragged philosopher or in the silks and
satins of pampered coquetry.  It was a suggestion of this beauty which
is above sex and above age and above wealth that shone in the blowing
hair and night-blue eyes of Berenice Fleming.  His visit to the Carter
family at Pocono had been a disappointment to him, because of the
apparent hopelessness of arousing Berenice's interest, and since that
time, and during their casual encounters, she had remained politely
indifferent. Nevertheless, he remained true to his persistence in the
pursuit of any game he had fixed upon.

Mrs. Carter, whose relations with Cowperwood had in the past been not
wholly platonic, nevertheless attributed much of his interest in her to
her children and their vital chance.  Berenice and Rolfe themselves
knew nothing concerning the nature of their mother's arrangements with
Cowperwood.  True to his promise of protectorship and assistance, he
had established her in a New York apartment adjacent to her daughter's
school, and where he fancied that he himself might spend many happy
hours were Berenice but near. Proximity to Berenice! The desire to
arouse her interest and command her favor! Cowperwood would scarcely
have cared to admit to himself how great a part this played in a
thought which had recently been creeping into his mind.  It was that of
erecting a splendid house in New York.

By degrees this idea of building a New York house had grown upon him.
His Chicago mansion was a costly sepulcher in which Aileen sat brooding
over the woes which had befallen her.  Moreover, aside from the social
defeat which it represented, it was becoming merely as a structure, but
poorly typical of the splendor and ability of his imaginations.  This
second dwelling, if he ever achieved it, should be resplendent, a
monument to himself.  In his speculative wanderings abroad he had seen
many such great palaces, designed with the utmost care, which had
housed the taste and culture of generations of men.  His
art-collection, in which he took an immense pride, had been growing,
until it was the basis if not the completed substance for a very
splendid memorial.  Already in it were gathered paintings of all the
important schools; to say nothing of collections of jade, illumined
missals, porcelains, rugs, draperies, mirror frames, and a beginning at
rare originals of sculpture.  The beauty of these strange things, the
patient laborings of inspired souls of various times and places, moved
him, on occasion, to a gentle awe.  Of all individuals he respected,
indeed revered, the sincere artist.  Existence was a mystery, but these
souls who set themselves to quiet tasks of beauty had caught something
of which he was dimly conscious.  Life had touched them with a vision,
their hearts and souls were attuned to sweet harmonies of which the
common world knew nothing.  Sometimes, when he was weary after a
strenuous day, he would enter--late in the night--his now silent
gallery, and turning on the lights so that the whole sweet room stood
revealed, he would seat himself before some treasure, reflecting on the
nature, the mood, the time, and the man that had produced it.
Sometimes it would be one of Rembrandt's melancholy heads--the sad
"Portrait of a Rabbi"--or the sweet introspection of a Rousseau stream.
A solemn Dutch housewife, rendered with the bold fidelity and resonant
enameled surfaces of a Hals or the cold elegance of an Ingres,
commanded his utmost enthusiasm.  So he would sit and wonder at the
vision and skill of the original dreamer, exclaiming at times: "A
marvel! A marvel!"

At the same time, so far as Aileen was concerned things were obviously
shaping up for additional changes.  She was in that peculiar state
which has befallen many a woman--trying to substitute a lesser ideal
for a greater, and finding that the effort is useless or nearly so.  In
regard to her affair with Lynde, aside from the temporary relief and
diversion it had afforded her, she was beginning to feel that she had
made a serious mistake.  Lynde was delightful, after his fashion.  He
could amuse her with a different type of experience from any that
Cowperwood had to relate.  Once they were intimate he had, with an
easy, genial air, confessed to all sorts of liaisons in Europe and
America.  He was utterly pagan--a faun--and at the same time he was
truly of the smart world.  His open contempt of all but one or two of
the people in Chicago whom Aileen had secretly admired and wished to
associate with, and his easy references to figures of importance in the
East and in Paris and London, raised him amazingly in her estimation;
it made her feel, sad to relate, that she had by no means lowered
herself in succumbing so readily to his forceful charms.

Nevertheless, because he was what he was--genial, complimentary,
affectionate, but a playboy, merely, and a soldier of fortune, with no
desire to make over her life for her on any new basis--she was now
grieving over the futility of this romance which had got her nowhere,
and which, in all probability, had alienated Cowperwood for good.  He
was still outwardly genial and friendly, but their relationship was now
colored by a sense of mistake and uncertainty which existed on both
sides, but which, in Aileen's case, amounted to a subtle species of
soul-torture.  Hitherto she had been the aggrieved one, the one whose
loyalty had never been in question, and whose persistent affection and
faith had been greatly sinned against.  Now all this was changed.  The
manner in which he had sinned against her was plain enough, but the way
in which, out of pique, she had forsaken him was in the other balance.
Say what one will, the loyalty of woman, whether a condition in nature
or an evolved accident of sociology, persists as a dominating thought
in at least a section of the race; and women themselves, be it said,
are the ones who most loudly and openly subscribe to it. Cowperwood
himself was fully aware that Aileen had deserted him, not because she
loved him less or Lynde more, but because she was hurt--and deeply so.
Aileen knew that he knew this.  From one point of view it enraged her
and made her defiant; from another it grieved her to think she had
uselessly sinned against his faith in her.  Now he had ample excuse to
do anything he chose.  Her best claim on him--her wounds--she had
thrown away as one throws away a weapon.  Her pride would not let her
talk to him about this, and at the same time she could not endure the
easy, tolerant manner with which he took it.  His smiles, his
forgiveness, his sometimes pleasant jesting were all a horrible offense.

To complete her mental quandary, she was already beginning to quarrel
with Lynde over this matter of her unbreakable regard for Cowperwood.
With the sufficiency of a man of the world Lynde intended that she
should succumb to him completely and forget her wonderful husband.
When with him she was apparently charmed and interested, yielding
herself freely, but this was more out of pique at Cowperwood's neglect
than from any genuine passion for Lynde. In spite of her pretensions of
anger, her sneers, and criticisms whenever Cowperwood's name came up,
she was, nevertheless, hopelessly fond of him and identified with him
spiritually, and it was not long before Lynde began to suspect this.
Such a discovery is a sad one for any master of women to make.  It
jolted his pride severely.

"You care for him still, don't you?" he asked, with a wry smile, upon
one occasion.  They were sitting at dinner in a private room at
Kinsley's, and Aileen, whose color was high, and who was becomingly
garbed in metallic-green silk, was looking especially handsome.  Lynde
had been proposing that she should make special arrangements to depart
with him for a three-months' stay in Europe, but she would have nothing
to do with the project.  She did not dare.  Such a move would make
Cowperwood feel that she was alienating herself forever; it would give
him an excellent excuse to leave her.

"Oh, it isn't that," she had declared, in reply to Lynde's query. "I
just don't want to go.  I can't.  I'm not prepared.  It's nothing but a
notion of yours, anyhow.  You're tired of Chicago because it's getting
near spring.  You go and I'll be here when you come back, or I may
decide to come over later." She smiled.

Lynde pulled a dark face.

"Hell!" he said.  "I know how it is with you.  You still stick to him,
even when he treats you like a dog.  You pretend not to love him when
as a matter of fact you're mad about him.  I've seen it all along.  You
don't really care anything about me.  You can't. You're too crazy about
him."

"Oh, shut up!" replied Aileen, irritated greatly for the moment by this
onslaught.  "You talk like a fool.  I'm not anything of the sort.  I
admire him.  How could any one help it?" (At this time, of course,
Cowperwood's name was filling the city.) "He's a very wonderful man.
He was never brutal to me.  He's a full-sized man--I'll say that for
him."

By now Aileen had become sufficiently familiar with Lynde to criticize
him in her own mind, and even outwardly by innuendo, for being a loafer
and idler who had never created in any way the money he was so freely
spending.  She had little power to psychologize concerning social
conditions, but the stalwart constructive persistence of Cowperwood
along commercial lines coupled with the current American contempt of
leisure reflected somewhat unfavorably upon Lynde, she thought.

Lynde's face clouded still more at this outburst.  "You go to the
devil," he retorted.  "I don't get you at all.  Sometimes you talk as
though you were fond of me.  At other times you're all wrapped up in
him.  Now you either care for me or you don't.  Which is it? If you're
so crazy about him that you can't leave home for a month or so you
certainly can't care much about me."

Aileen, however, because of her long experience with Cowperwood, was
more than a match for Lynde.  At the same time she was afraid to let go
of him for fear that she should have no one to care for her.  She liked
him.  He was a happy resource in her misery, at least for the moment.
Yet the knowledge that Cowperwood looked upon this affair as a heavy
blemish on her pristine solidarity cooled her.  At the thought of him
and of her whole tarnished and troubled career she was very unhappy.

"Hell!" Lynde had repeated, irritably, "stay if you want to.  I'll not
be trying to over-persuade you--depend on that."

They quarreled still further over this matter, and, though they
eventually made up, both sensed the drift toward an ultimately
unsatisfactory conclusion.

It was one morning not long after this that Cowperwood, feeling in a
genial mood over his affairs, came into Aileen's room, as he still did
on occasions, to finish dressing and pass the time of day.

"Well," he observed, gaily, as he stood before the mirror adjusting his
collar and tie, "how are you and Lynde getting along these
days--nicely?"

"Oh, you go to the devil!" replied Aileen, flaring up and struggling
with her divided feelings, which pained her constantly.  "If it hadn't
been for you there wouldn't be any chance for your smarty
'how-am-I-getting-alongs.' I am getting along all
right--fine--regardless of anything you may think.  He's as good a man
as you are any day, and better.  I like him.  At least he's fond of me,
and that's more than you are.  Why should you care what I do? You
don't, so why talk about it? I want you to let me alone."

"Aileen, Aileen, how you carry on! Don't flare up so.  I meant nothing
by it.  I'm sorry as much for myself as for you.  I've told you I'm not
jealous.  You think I'm critical.  I'm not anything of the kind.  I
know how you feel.  That's all very good."

"Oh yes, yes," she replied.  "Well, you can keep your feelings to
yourself.  Go to the devil! Go to the devil, I tell you!" Her eyes
blazed.

He stood now, fully dressed, in the center of the rug before her, and
Aileen looked at him, keen, valiant, handsome--her old Frank. Once
again she regretted her nominal faithlessness, and raged at him in her
heart for his indifference.  "You dog," she was about to add, "you have
no heart!" but she changed her mind.  Her throat tightened and her eyes
filled.  She wanted to run to him and say: "Oh, Frank, don't you
understand how it all is, how it all came about? Won't you love me
again--can't you?" But she restrained herself.  It seemed to her that
he might understand--that he would, in fact--but that he would never
again be faithful, anyhow.  And she would so gladly have discarded
Lynde and any and all men if he would only have said the word, would
only have really and sincerely wished her to do so.

It was one day not long after their morning quarrel in her bedroom that
Cowperwood broached the matter of living in New York to Aileen,
pointing out that thereby his art-collection, which was growing
constantly, might be more suitably housed, and that it would give her a
second opportunity to enter social life.

"So that you can get rid of me out here," commented Aileen, little
knowing of Berenice Fleming.

"Not at all," replied Cowperwood, sweetly.  "You see how things are.
There's no chance of our getting into Chicago society. There's too much
financial opposition against me here.  If we had a big house in New
York, such as I would build, it would be an introduction in itself.
After all, these Chicagoans aren't even a snapper on the real society
whip.  It's the Easterners who set the pace, and the New-Yorkers most
of all.  If you want to say the word, I can sell this place and we can
live down there, part of the time, anyhow.  I could spend as much of my
time with you there as I have been doing here--perhaps more."

Because of her soul of vanity Aileen's mind ran forward in spite of
herself to the wider opportunities which his words suggested. This
house had become a nightmare to her--a place of neglect and bad
memories.  Here she had fought with Rita Sohlberg; here she had seen
society come for a very little while only to disappear; here she had
waited this long time for the renewal of Cowperwood's love, which was
now obviously never to be restored in its original glamour.  As he
spoke she looked at him quizzically, almost sadly in her great doubt.
At the same time she could not help reflecting that in New York where
money counted for so much, and with Cowperwood's great and growing
wealth and prestige behind her, she might hope to find herself socially
at last.  "Nothing venture, nothing have" had always been her motto,
nailed to her mast, though her equipment for the life she now craved
had never been more than the veriest make-believe--painted wood and
tinsel.  Vain, radiant, hopeful Aileen! Yet how was she to know?

"Very well," she observed, finally.  "Do as you like.  I can live down
there as well as I can here, I presume--alone."

Cowperwood knew the nature of her longings.  He knew what was running
in her mind, and how futile were her dreams.  Life had taught him how
fortuitous must be the circumstances which could enable a woman of
Aileen's handicaps and defects to enter that cold upper world.  Yet for
all the courage of him, for the very life of him, he could not tell
her.  He could not forget that once, behind the grim bars in the
penitentiary for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, he had cried on
her shoulder.  He could not be an ingrate and wound her with his inmost
thoughts any more than he could deceive himself.  A New York mansion
and the dreams of social supremacy which she might there entertain
would soothe her ruffled vanity and assuage her disappointed heart; and
at the same time he would be nearer Berenice Fleming.  Say what one
will of these ferret windings of the human mind, they are,
nevertheless, true and characteristic of the average human being, and
Cowperwood was no exception.  He saw it all, he calculated on it--he
calculated on the simple humanity of Aileen.




Chapter XLVI

Depths and Heights


The complications which had followed his various sentimental affairs
left Cowperwood in a quandary at times as to whether there could be any
peace or satisfaction outside of monogamy, after all. Although Mrs.
Hand had gone to Europe at the crisis of her affairs, she had returned
to seek him out.  Cecily Haguenin found many opportunities of writing
him letters and assuring him of her undying affection.  Florence
Cochrane persisted in seeing or attempting to see him even after his
interest in her began to wane.  For another thing Aileen, owing to the
complication and general degeneracy of her affairs, had recently begun
to drink.  Owing to the failure of her affair with Lynde--for in spite
of her yielding she had never had any real heart interest in it--and to
the cavalier attitude with which Cowperwood took her disloyalty, she
had reached that state of speculative doldrums where the human animal
turns upon itself in bitter self-analysis; the end with the more
sensitive or the less durable is dissipation or even death.  Woe to him
who places his faith in illusion--the only reality--and woe to him who
does not.  In one way lies disillusion with its pain, in the other way
regret.

After Lynde's departure for Europe, whither she had refused to follow
him, Aileen took up with a secondary personage by the name of Watson
Skeet, a sculptor.  Unlike most artists, he was the solitary heir of
the president of an immense furniture-manufacturing company in which he
refused to take any interest.  He had studied abroad, but had returned
to Chicago with a view to propagating art in the West.  A large, blond,
soft-fleshed man, he had a kind of archaic naturalness and simplicity
which appealed to Aileen.  They had met at the Rhees Griers'.  Feeling
herself neglected after Lynde's departure, and dreading loneliness
above all things, Aileen became intimate with Skeet, but to no intense
mental satisfaction. That driving standard within--that obsessing ideal
which requires that all things be measured by it--was still dominant.
Who has not experienced the chilling memory of the better thing? How it
creeps over the spirit of one's current dreams! Like the specter at the
banquet it stands, its substanceless eyes viewing with a sad philosophy
the makeshift feast.  The what-might-have-been of her life with
Cowperwood walked side by side with her wherever she went.  Once
occasionally indulging in cigarettes, she now smoked almost constantly.
Once barely sipping at wines, cocktails, brandy-and-soda, she now took
to the latter, or, rather, to a new whisky-and-soda combination known
as "highball" with a kind of vehemence which had little to do with a
taste for the thing itself.  True, drinking is, after all, a state of
mind, and not an appetite.  She had found on a number of occasions when
she had been quarreling with Lynde or was mentally depressed that in
partaking of these drinks a sort of warm, speculative indifference
seized upon her.  She was no longer so sad.  She might cry, but it was
in a soft, rainy, relieving way.  Her sorrows were as strange, enticing
figures in dreams.  They moved about and around her, not as things
actually identical with her, but as ills which she could view at a
distance.  Sometimes both she and they (for she saw herself also as in
a kind of mirage or inverted vision) seemed beings of another state,
troubled, but not bitterly painful. The old nepenthe of the bottle had
seized upon her.  After a few accidental lapses, in which she found it
acted as a solace or sedative, the highball visioned itself to her as a
resource.  Why should she not drink if it relieved her, as it actually
did, of physical and mental pain? There were apparently no bad
after-effects. The whisky involved was diluted to an almost watery
state.  It was her custom now when at home alone to go to the butler's
pantry where the liquors were stored and prepare a drink for herself,
or to order a tray with a siphon and bottle placed in her room.
Cowperwood, noticing the persistence of its presence there and the fact
that she drank heavily at table, commented upon it.

"You're not taking too much of that, are you, Aileen?" he questioned
one evening, watching her drink down a tumbler of whisky and water as
she sat contemplating a pattern of needlework with which the table was
ornamented.

"Certainly I'm not," she replied, irritably, a little flushed and thick
of tongue.  "Why do you ask?" She herself had been wondering whether in
the course of time it might not have a depreciating effect on her
complexion.  This was the only thing that still concerned her--her
beauty.

"Well, I see you have that bottle in your room all the time.  I was
wondering if you might not be forgetting how much you are using it."

Because she was so sensitive he was trying to be tactful.

"Well," she answered, crossly, "what if I am? It wouldn't make any
particular difference if I did.  I might as well drink as do some other
things that are done."

It was a kind of satisfaction to her to bait him in this way.  His
inquiry, being a proof of continued interest on his part, was of some
value.  At least he was not entirely indifferent to her.

"I wish you wouldn't talk that way, Aileen," he replied.  "I have no
objection to your drinking some.  I don't suppose it makes any
difference to you now whether I object or not.  But you are too
good-looking, too well set up physically, to begin that.  You don't
need it, and it's such a short road to hell.  Your state isn't so bad.
Good heavens! many another woman has been in your position. I'm not
going to leave you unless you want to leave me.  I've told you that
over and over.  I'm just sorry people change--we all do.  I suppose
I've changed some, but that's no reason for your letting yourself go to
pieces.  I wish you wouldn't be desperate about this business.  It may
come out better than you think in the long run."

He was merely talking to console her.

"Oh! oh! oh!" Aileen suddenly began to rock and cry in a foolish
drunken way, as though her heart would break, and Cowperwood got up.
He was horrified after a fashion.

"Oh, don't come near me!" Aileen suddenly exclaimed, sobering in an
equally strange way.  "I know why you come.  I know how much you care
about me or my looks.  Don't you worry whether I drink or not.  I'll
drink if I please, or do anything else if I choose. If it helps me over
my difficulties, that's my business, not yours," and in defiance she
prepared another glass and drank it.

Cowperwood shook his head, looking at her steadily and sorrowfully.
"It's too bad, Aileen," he said.  "I don't know what to do about you
exactly.  You oughtn't to go on this way.  Whisky won't get you
anywhere.  It will simply ruin your looks and make you miserable in the
bargain."

"Oh, to hell with my looks!" she snapped.  "A lot of good they've done
me." And, feeling contentious and sad, she got up and left the table.
Cowperwood followed her after a time, only to see her dabbing at her
eyes and nose with powder.  A half-filled glass of whisky and water was
on the dressing-table beside her.  It gave him a strange feeling of
responsibility and helplessness.

Mingled with his anxiety as to Aileen were thoughts of the alternate
rise and fall of his hopes in connection with Berenice.  She was such a
superior girl, developing so definitely as an individual. To his
satisfaction she had, on a few recent occasions when he had seen her,
unbent sufficiently to talk to him in a friendly and even intimate way,
for she was by no means hoity-toity, but a thinking, reasoning being of
the profoundest intellectual, or, rather, the highest artistic
tendencies.  She was so care-free, living in a high and solitary world,
at times apparently enwrapt in thoughts serene, at other times sharing
vividly in the current interests of the social world of which she was a
part, and which she dignified as much as it dignified her.

One Sunday morning at Pocono, in late June weather, when he had come
East to rest for a few days, and all was still and airy on the high
ground which the Carter cottage occupied, Berenice came out on the
veranda where Cowperwood was sitting, reading a fiscal report of one of
his companies and meditating on his affairs.  By now they had become
somewhat more sympatica than formerly, and Berenice had an easy, genial
way in his presence.  She liked him, rather.  With an indescribable
smile which wrinkled her nose and eyes, and played about the corners of
her mouth, she said: "Now I am going to catch a bird."

"A what?" asked Cowperwood, looking up and pretending he had not heard,
though he had.  He was all eyes for any movement of hers. She was
dressed in a flouncy morning gown eminently suitable for the world in
which she was moving.

"A bird," she replied, with an airy toss of her head.  "This is
June-time, and the sparrows are teaching their young to fly."

Cowperwood, previously engrossed in financial speculations, was
translated, as by the wave of a fairy wand, into another realm where
birds and fledglings and grass and the light winds of heaven were more
important than brick and stone and stocks and bonds. He got up and
followed her flowing steps across the grass to where, near a clump of
alder bushes, she had seen a mother sparrow enticing a fledgling to
take wing.  From her room upstairs, she had been watching this bit of
outdoor sociology.  It suddenly came to Cowperwood, with great force,
how comparatively unimportant in the great drift of life were his own
affairs when about him was operative all this splendid will to
existence, as sensed by her.  He saw her stretch out her hands
downward, and run in an airy, graceful way, stooping here and there,
while before her fluttered a baby sparrow, until suddenly she dived
quickly and then, turning, her face agleam, cried: "See, I have him! He
wants to fight, too! Oh, you little dear!"

She was holding "him," as she chose to characterize it, in the hollow
of her hand, the head between her thumb and forefinger, with the
forefinger of her free hand petting it the while she laughed and kissed
it.  It was not so much bird-love as the artistry of life and of
herself that was moving her.  Hearing the parent bird chirping
distractedly from a nearby limb, she turned and called: "Don't make
such a row! I sha'n't keep him long."

Cowperwood laughed--trig in the morning sun.  "You can scarcely blame
her," he commented.

"Oh, she knows well enough I wouldn't hurt him," Berenice replied,
spiritedly, as though it were literally true.

"Does she, indeed?" inquired Cowperwood.  "Why do you say that?"

"Because it's true.  Don't you think they know when their children are
really in danger?"

"But why should they?" persisted Cowperwood, charmed and interested by
the involute character of her logic.  She was quite deceptive to him.
He could not be sure what she thought.

She merely fixed him a moment with her cool, slate-blue eyes.  "Do you
think the senses of the world are only five?" she asked, in the most
charming and non-reproachful way.  "Indeed, they know well enough.  She
knows." She turned and waved a graceful hand in the direction of the
tree, where peace now reigned.  The chirping had ceased.  "She knows I
am not a cat."

Again that enticing, mocking smile that wrinkled her nose, her
eye-corners, her mouth.  The word "cat" had a sharp, sweet sound in her
mouth.  It seemed to be bitten off closely with force and airy spirit.
Cowperwood surveyed her as he would have surveyed the ablest person he
knew.  Here was a woman, he saw, who could and would command the utmost
reaches of his soul in every direction. If he interested her at all, he
would need them all.  The eyes of her were at once so elusive, so
direct, so friendly, so cool and keen.  "You will have to be
interesting, indeed, to interest me," they seemed to say; and yet they
were by no means averse, apparently, to a hearty camaraderie.  That
nose-wrinkling smile said as much.  Here was by no means a Stephanie
Platow, nor yet a Rita Sohlberg.  He could not assume her as he had
Ella Hubby, or Florence Cochrane, or Cecily Haguenin.  Here was an iron
individuality with a soul for romance and art and philosophy and life.
He could not take her as he had those others.  And yet Berenice was
really beginning to think more than a little about Cowperwood.  He must
be an extraordinary man; her mother said so, and the newspapers were
always mentioning his name and noting his movements.

A little later, at Southampton, whither she and her mother had gone,
they met again.  Together with a young man by the name of Greanelle,
Cowperwood and Berenice had gone into the sea to bathe. It was a
wonderful afternoon.

To the east and south and west spread the sea, a crinkling floor of
blue, and to their left, as they faced it, was a lovely outward-curving
shore of tawny sand.  Studying Berenice in blue-silk bathing costume
and shoes, Cowperwood had been stung by the wonder of passing life--how
youth comes in, ever fresh and fresh, and age goes out.  Here he was,
long crowded years of conflict and experience behind him, and yet this
twenty-year-old girl, with her incisive mind and keen tastes, was
apparently as wise in matters of general import as himself.  He could
find no flaw in her armor in those matters which they could discuss.
Her knowledge and comments were so ripe and sane, despite a tendency to
pose a little, which was quite within her rights.  Because Greanelle
had bored her a little she had shunted him off and was amusing herself
talking to Cowperwood, who fascinated her by his compact individuality.

"Do you know," she confided to him, on this occasion, "I get so very
tired of young men sometimes.  They can be so inane.  I do declare,
they are nothing more than shoes and ties and socks and canes strung
together in some unimaginable way.  Vaughn Greanelle is for all the
world like a perambulating manikin to-day.  He is just an English suit
with a cane attached walking about."

"Well, bless my soul," commented Cowperwood, "what an indictment!"

"It's true," she replied.  "He knows nothing at all except polo, and
the latest swimming-stroke, and where everybody is, and who is going to
marry who.  Isn't it dull?"

She tossed her head back and breathed as though to exhale the fumes of
the dull and the inane from her inmost being.

"Did you tell him that?" inquired Cowperwood, curiously.

"Certainly I did."

"I don't wonder he looks so solemn," he said, turning and looking back
at Greanelle and Mrs. Carter; they were sitting side by side in
sand-chairs, the former beating the sand with his toes.  "You're a
curious girl, Berenice," he went on, familiarly.  "You are so direct
and vital at times.

"Not any more than you are, from all I can hear," she replied, fixing
him with those steady eyes.  "Anyhow, why should I be bored? He is so
dull.  He follows me around out here all the time, and I don't want
him."

She tossed her head and began to run up the beach to where bathers were
fewer and fewer, looking back at Cowperwood as if to say, "Why don't
you follow?" He developed a burst of enthusiasm and ran quite briskly,
overtaking her near some shallows where, because of a sandbar offshore,
the waters were thin and bright.

"Oh, look!" exclaimed Berenice, when he came up.  "See, the fish! O-oh!"

She dashed in to where a few feet offshore a small school of minnows as
large as sardines were playing, silvery in the sun.  She ran as she had
for the bird, doing her best to frighten them into a neighboring pocket
or pool farther up on the shore.  Cowperwood, as gay as a boy of ten,
joined in the chase.  He raced after them briskly, losing one school,
but pocketing another a little farther on and calling to her to come.

"Oh!" exclaimed Berenice at one point.  "Here they are now.  Come
quick! Drive them in here!"

Her hair was blowy, her face a keen pink, her eyes an electric blue by
contrast.  She was bending low over the water--Cowperwood also--their
hands outstretched, the fish, some five in all, nervously dancing
before them in their efforts to escape.  All at once, having forced
them into a corner, they dived; Berenice actually caught one.
Cowperwood missed by a fraction, but drove the fish she did catch into
her hands.

"Oh," she exclaimed, jumping up, "how wonderful! It's alive.  I caught
it."

She danced up and down, and Cowperwood, standing before her, was
sobered by her charm.  He felt an impulse to speak to her of his
affection, to tell her how delicious she was to him.

"You," he said, pausing over the word and giving it special
emphasis--"you are the only thing here that is wonderful to me."

She looked at him a moment, the live fish in her extended hands, her
eyes keying to the situation.  For the least fraction of a moment she
was uncertain, as he could see, how to take this.  Many men had been
approximative before.  It was common to have compliments paid to her.
But this was different.  She said nothing, but fixed him with a look
which said quite plainly, "You had better not say anything more just
now, I think." Then, seeing that he understood, that his manner
softened, and that he was troubled, she crinkled her nose gaily and
added: "It's like fairyland.  I feel as though I had caught it out of
another world." Cowperwood understood.  The direct approach was not for
use in her case; and yet there was something, a camaraderie, a sympathy
which he felt and which she felt.  A girls' school, conventions, the
need of socially placing herself, her conservative friends, and their
viewpoint--all were working here.  If he were only single now, she told
herself, she would be willing to listen to him in a very different
spirit, for he was charming.  But this way-- And he, for his part,
concluded that here was one woman whom he would gladly marry if she
would have him.




Chapter XLVII

American Match


Following Cowperwood's coup in securing cash by means of his seeming
gift of three hundred thousand dollars for a telescope his enemies
rested for a time, but only because of a lack of ideas wherewith to
destroy him.  Public sentiment--created by the newspapers--was still
against him.  Yet his franchises had still from eight to ten years to
run, and meanwhile he might make himself unassailably powerful.  For
the present he was busy, surrounded by his engineers and managers and
legal advisers, constructing his several elevated lines at a whirlwind
rate.  At the same time, through Videra, Kaffrath, and Addison, he was
effecting a scheme of loaning money on call to the local Chicago
banks--the very banks which were most opposed to him--so that in a
crisis he could retaliate.  By manipulating the vast quantity of stocks
and bonds of which he was now the master he was making money hand over
fist, his one rule being that six per cent. was enough to pay any
holder who had merely purchased his stock as an outsider.  It was most
profitable to himself.  When his stocks earned more than that he issued
new ones, selling them on 'change and pocketing the difference.  Out of
the cash-drawers of his various companies he took immense sums,
temporary loans, as it were, which later he had charged by his humble
servitors to "construction," "equipment," or "operation." He was like a
canny wolf prowling in a forest of trees of his own creation.

The weak note in this whole project of elevated lines was that for some
time it was destined to be unprofitable.  Its very competition tended
to weaken the value of his surface-line companies.  His holdings in
these as well as in elevated-road shares were immense. If anything
happened to cause them to fall in price immense numbers of these same
stocks held by others would be thrown on the market, thus still further
depreciating their value and compelling him to come into the market and
buy.  With the most painstaking care he began at once to pile up a
reserve in government bonds for emergency purposes, which he decided
should be not less than eight or nine million dollars, for he feared
financial storms as well as financial reprisal, and where so much was
at stake he did not propose to be caught napping.

At the time that Cowperwood first entered on elevated-road construction
there was no evidence that any severe depression in the American
money-market was imminent.  But it was not long before a new difficulty
began to appear.  It was now the day of the trust in all its watery
magnificence.  Coal, iron, steel, oil, machinery, and a score of other
commercial necessities had already been "trustified," and others, such
as leather, shoes, cordage, and the like, were, almost hourly, being
brought under the control of shrewd and ruthless men.  Already in
Chicago Schryhart, Hand, Arneel, Merrill, and a score of others were
seeing their way to amazing profits by underwriting these ventures
which required ready cash, and to which lesser magnates, content with a
portion of the leavings of Dives's table, were glad to bring to their
attention. On the other hand, in the nation at large there was growing
up a feeling that at the top there were a set of giants--Titans--who,
without heart or soul, and without any understanding of or sympathy
with the condition of the rank and file, were setting forth to enchain
and enslave them.  The vast mass, writhing in ignorance and poverty,
finally turned with pathetic fury to the cure-all of a political leader
in the West.  This latter prophet, seeing gold becoming scarcer and
scarcer and the cash and credits of the land falling into the hands of
a few who were manipulating them for their own benefit, had decided
that what was needed was a greater volume of currency, so that credits
would be easier and money cheaper to come by in the matter of interest.
Silver, of which there was a superabundance in the mines, was to be
coined at the ratio of sixteen dollars of silver for every one of gold
in circulation, and the parity of the two metals maintained by fiat of
government.  Never again should the few be able to make a weapon of the
people's medium of exchange in order to bring about their undoing.
There was to be ample money, far beyond the control of central banks
and the men in power over them.  It was a splendid dream worthy of a
charitable heart, but because of it a disturbing war for political
control of the government was shortly threatened and soon began.  The
money element, sensing the danger of change involved in the theories of
the new political leader, began to fight him and the element in the
Democratic party which he represented.  The rank and file of both
parties--the more or less hungry and thirsty who lie ever at the bottom
on both sides--hailed him as a heaven-sent deliverer, a new Moses come
to lead them out of the wilderness of poverty and distress.  Woe to the
political leader who preaches a new doctrine of deliverance, and who,
out of tenderness of heart, offers a panacea for human ills.  His truly
shall be a crown of thorns.

Cowperwood, no less than other men of wealth, was opposed to what he
deemed a crack-brained idea--that of maintaining a parity between gold
and silver by law.  Confiscation was his word for it--the confiscation
of the wealth of the few for the benefit of the many. Most of all was
he opposed to it because he feared that this unrest, which was
obviously growing, foreshadowed a class war in which investors would
run to cover and money be locked in strong-boxes. At once he began to
shorten sail, to invest only in the soundest securities, and to convert
all his weaker ones into cash.

To meet current emergencies, however, he was compelled to borrow
heavily here and there, and in doing so he was quick to note that those
banks representing his enemies in Chicago and elsewhere were willing to
accept his various stocks as collateral, providing he would accept
loans subject to call.  He did so gladly, at the same time suspecting
Hand, Schryhart, Arneel, and Merrill of some scheme to wreck him,
providing they could get him where the calling of his loans suddenly
and in concert would financially embarrass him. "I think I know what
that crew are up to," he once observed to Addison, at this period.
"Well, they will have to rise very early in the morning if they catch
me napping."

The thing that he suspected was really true.  Schryhart, Hand, and
Arneel, watching him through their agents and brokers, had soon
discovered--in the very earliest phases of the silver agitation and
before the real storm broke--that he was borrowing in New York, in
London, in certain quarters of Chicago, and elsewhere.  "It looks to
me," said Schryhart, one day, to his friend Arneel, "as if our friend
has gotten in a little too deep.  He has overreached himself.  These
elevated-road schemes of his have eaten up too much capital.  There is
another election coming on next fall, and he knows we are going to
fight tooth and nail.  He needs money to electrify his surface lines.
If we could trace out exactly where he stands, and where he has
borrowed, we might know what to do."

"Unless I am greatly mistaken," replied Arneel, "he is in a tight place
or is rapidly getting there.  This silver agitation is beginning to
weaken stocks and tighten money.  I suggest that our banks here loan
him all the money he wants on call.  When the time comes, if he isn't
ready, we can shut him up tighter than a drum. If we can pick up any
other loans he's made anywhere else, well and good."

Mr. Arneel said this without a shadow of bitterness or humor.  In some
tight hour, perhaps, now fast approaching, Mr. Cowperwood would be
promised salvation--"saved" on condition that he should leave Chicago
forever.  There were those who would take over his property in the
interest of the city and upright government and administer it
accordingly.

Unfortunately, at this very time Messrs. Hand, Schryhart, and Arneel
were themselves concerned in a little venture to which the threatened
silver agitation could bode nothing but ill.  This concerned so simple
a thing as matches, a commodity which at this time, along with many
others, had been trustified and was yielding a fine profit.  "American
Match" was a stock which was already listed on every exchange and which
was selling steadily around one hundred and twenty.

The geniuses who had first planned a combination of all match concerns
and a monopoly of the trade in America were two men, Messrs. Hull and
Stackpole--bankers and brokers, primarily.  Mr. Phineas Hull was a
small, ferret-like, calculating man with a sparse growth of dusty-brown
hair and an eyelid, the right one, which was partially paralyzed and
drooped heavily, giving him a characterful and yet at times a sinister
expression.

His partner, Mr. Benoni Stackpole, had been once a stage-driver in
Arkansas, and later a horse-trader.  He was a man of great force and
calculation--large, oleaginous, politic, and courageous. Without the
ultimate brain capacity of such men as Arneel, Hand, and Merrill, he
was, nevertheless, resourceful and able.  He had started somewhat late
in the race for wealth, but now, with all his strength, he was
endeavoring to bring to fruition this plan which, with the aid of Hull,
he had formulated.  Inspired by the thought of great wealth, they had
first secured control of the stock of one match company, and had then
put themselves in a position to bargain with the owners of others.  The
patents and processes controlled by one company and another had been
combined, and the field had been broadened as much as possible.

But to do all this a great deal of money had been required, much more
than was in possession of either Hull or Stackpole.  Both of them being
Western men, they looked first to Western capital. Hand, Schryhart,
Arneel, and Merrill were in turn appealed to, and great blocks of the
new stock were sold to them at inside figures. By the means thus
afforded the combination proceeded apace. Patents for exclusive
processes were taken over from all sides, and the idea of invading
Europe and eventually controlling the market of the world had its
inception.  At the same time it occurred to each and all of their
lordly patrons that it would be a splendid thing if the stock they had
purchased at forty-five, and which was now selling in open market at
one hundred and twenty, should go to three hundred, where, if these
monopolistic dreams were true, it properly belonged.  A little more of
this stock--the destiny of which at this time seemed sure and
splendid--would not be amiss. And so there began a quiet campaign on
the part of each capitalist to gather enough of it to realize a true
fortune on the rise.

A game of this kind is never played with the remainder of the financial
community entirely unaware of what is on foot.  In the inner circles of
brokerage life rumors were soon abroad that a tremendous boom was in
store for American Match.  Cowperwood heard of it through Addison,
always at the center of financial rumor, and the two of them bought
heavily, though not so heavily but that they could clear out at any
time with at least a slight margin in their favor.  During a period of
eight months the stock slowly moved upward, finally crossing the
two-hundred mark and reaching two-twenty, at which figure both Addison
and Cowperwood sold, realizing nearly a million between them on their
investment.

In the mean time the foreshadowed political storm was brewing. At first
a cloud no larger than a man's hand, it matured swiftly in the late
months of 1895, and by the spring of 1896 it had become portentous and
was ready to burst.  With the climacteric nomination of the "Apostle of
Free Silver" for President of the United States, which followed in
July, a chill settled down over the conservative and financial elements
of the country.  What Cowperwood had wisely proceeded to do months
before, others less far-seeing, from Maine to California and from the
Gulf to Canada, began to do now. Bank-deposits were in part withdrawn;
feeble or uncertain securities were thrown upon the market.  All at
once Schryhart, Arneel, Hand, and Merrill realized that they were in
more or less of a trap in regard to their large holdings in American
Match.  Having gathered vast quantities of this stock, which had been
issued in blocks of millions, it was now necessary to sustain the
market or sell at a loss.  Since money was needed by many holders, and
this stock was selling at two-twenty, telegraphic orders began to pour
in from all parts of the country to sell on the Chicago Exchange, where
the deal was being engineered and where the market obviously existed.
All of the instigators of the deal conferred, and decided to sustain
the market.  Messrs. Hull and Stackpole, being the nominal heads of the
trust, were delegated to buy, they in turn calling on the principal
investors to take their share, pro rata. Hand, Schryhart, Arneel, and
Merrill, weighted with this inpouring flood of stock, which they had to
take at two-twenty, hurried to their favorite banks, hypothecating vast
quantities at one-fifty and over, and using the money so obtained to
take care of the additional shares which they were compelled to buy.

At last, however, their favorite banks were full to overflowing and at
the danger-point.  They could take no more.

"No, no, no!" Hand declared to Phineas Hull over the 'phone.  "I can't
risk another dollar in this venture, and I won't! It's a perfect
proposition.  I realize all its merits just as well as you do.  But
enough is enough.  I tell you a financial slump is coming. That's the
reason all this stock is coming out now.  I am willing to protect my
interests in this thing up to a certain point.  As I told you, I agree
not to throw a single share on the market of all that I now have.  But
more than that I cannot do.  The other gentlemen in this agreement will
have to protect themselves as best they can.  I have other things to
look out for that are just as important to me, and more so, than
American Match."

It was the same with Mr. Schryhart, who, stroking a crisp, black
mustache, was wondering whether he had not better throw over what
holdings he had and clear out; however, he feared the rage of Hand and
Arneel for breaking the market and thus bringing on a local panic.  It
was risky business.  Arneel and Merrill finally agreed to hold firm to
what they had; but, as they told Mr. Hull, nothing could induce them to
"protect" another share, come what might.

In this crisis naturally Messrs. Hull and Stackpole--estimable
gentlemen both--were greatly depressed.  By no means so wealthy as
their lofty patrons, their private fortunes were in much greater
jeopardy.  They were eager to make any port in so black a storm.
Witness, then, the arrival of Benoni Stackpole at the office of Frank
Algernon Cowperwood.  He was at the end of his tether, and Cowperwood
was the only really rich man in the city not yet involved in this
speculation.  In the beginning he had heard both Hand and Schryhart say
that they did not care to become involved if Cowperwood was in any way,
shape, or manner to be included, but that had been over a year ago, and
Schryhart and Hand were now, as it were, leaving both him and his
partner to their fates.  They could have no objection to his dealing
with Cowperwood in this crisis if he could make sure that the magnate
would not sell him out.  Mr. Stackpole was six feet one in his socks
and weighed two hundred and thirty pounds.  Clad in a brown linen suit
and straw hat (for it was late July), he carried a palm-leaf fan as
well as his troublesome stocks in a small yellow leather bag.  He was
wet with perspiration and in a gloomy state of mind.  Failure was
staring him in the face--giant failure.  If American Match fell below
two hundred he would have to close his doors as banker and broker and,
in view of what he was carrying, he and Hull would fail for
approximately twenty million dollars.  Messrs. Hand, Schryhart, Arneel,
and Merrill would lose in the neighborhood of six or eight millions
between them.  The local banks would suffer in proportion, though not
nearly so severely, for, loaning at one-fifty, they would only
sacrifice the difference between that and the lowest point to which the
stock might fall.

Cowperwood eyed the new-comer, when he entered, with an equivocal eye,
for he knew well now what was coming.  Only a few days before he had
predicted an eventual smash to Addison.

"Mr. Cowperwood," began Stackpole, "in this bag I have fifteen thousand
shares of American Match, par value one million five hundred thousand
dollars, market value three million three hundred thousand at this
moment, and worth every cent of three hundred dollars a share and more.
I don't know how closely you have been following the developments of
American Match.  We own all the patents on labor-saving machines and,
what's more, we're just about to close contracts with Italy and France
to lease our machines and processes to them for pretty nearly one
million dollars a year each.  We're dickering with Austria and England,
and of course we'll take up other countries later.  The American Match
Company will yet make matches for the whole world, whether I'm
connected with it or not.  This silver agitation has caught us right in
mid-ocean, and we're having a little trouble weathering the storm. I'm
a perfectly frank man when it comes to close business relations of this
kind, and I'm going to tell you just how things stand. If we can scull
over this rough place that has come up on account of the silver
agitation our stock will go to three hundred before the first of the
year.  Now, if you want to take it you can have it outright at one
hundred and fifty dollars--that is, providing you'll agree not to throw
any of it back on the market before next December; or, if you won't
promise that" (he paused to see if by any chance he could read
Cowperwood's inscrutable face) "I want you to loan me one hundred and
fifty dollars a share on these for thirty days at least at ten or
fifteen, or whatever rate you care to fix."

Cowperwood interlocked his fingers and twiddled his thumbs as he
contemplated this latest evidence of earthly difficulty and
uncertainty.  Time and chance certainly happened to all men, and here
was one opportunity of paying out those who had been nagging him.  To
take this stock at one-fifty on loan and peddle it out swiftly and
fully at two-twenty or less would bring American Match crumbling about
their ears.  When it was selling at one-fifty or less he could buy it
back, pocket his profit, complete his deal with Mr. Stackpole, pocket
his interest, and smile like the well-fed cat in the fable.  It was as
simple as twiddling his thumbs, which he was now doing.

"Who has been backing this stock here in Chicago besides yourself and
Mr. Hull?" he asked, pleasantly.  "I think that I already know, but I
should like to be certain if you have no objection."

"None in the least, none in the least," replied Mr. Stackpole,
accommodatingly.  "Mr. Hand, Mr. Schryhart, Mr. Arneel, and Mr.
Merrill."

"That is what I thought," commented Cowperwood, easily.  "They can't
take this up for you? Is that it? Saturated?"

"Saturated," agreed Mr. Stackpole, dully.  "But there's one thing I'd
have to stipulate in accepting a loan on these.  Not a share must be
thrown on the market, or, at least, not before I have failed to respond
to your call.  I have understood that there is a little feeling between
you and Mr. Hand and the other gentlemen I have mentioned.  But, as I
say--and I'm talking perfectly frankly now--I'm in a corner, and it's
any port in a storm.  If you want to help me I'll make the best terms I
can, and I won't forget the favor."

He opened the bag and began to take out the securities--long
greenish-yellow bundles, tightly gripped in the center by thick elastic
bands.  They were in bundles of one thousand shares each. Since
Stackpole half proffered them to him, Cowperwood took them in one hand
and lightly weighed them up and down.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Stackpole," he said, sympathetically, after a moment of
apparent reflection, "but I cannot possibly help you in this matter.
I'm too involved in other things myself, and I do not often indulge in
stock-peculations of any kind.  I have no particular malice toward any
one of the gentlemen you mention.  I do not trouble to dislike all who
dislike me.  I might, of course, if I chose, take these stocks and pay
them out and throw them on the market to-morrow, but I have no desire
to do anything of the sort. I only wish I could help you, and if I
thought I could carry them safely for three or four months I would.  As
it is--" He lifted his eyebrows sympathetically.  "Have you tried all
the bankers in town?"

"Practically every one."

"And they can't help you?"

"They are carrying all they can stand now."

"Too bad.  I'm sorry, very.  By the way, do you happen, by any chance,
to know Mr. Millard Bailey or Mr. Edwin Kaffrath?"

"No, I don't," replied Stackpole, hopefully.

"Well, now, there are two men who are much richer than is generally
supposed.  They often have very large sums at their disposal.  You
might look them up on a chance.  Then there's my friend Videra. I don't
know how he is fixed at present.  You can always find him at the
Twelfth Ward Bank.  He might be inclined to take a good portion of
that--I don't know.  He's much better off than most people seem to
think.  I wonder you haven't been directed to some one of these men
before." (As a matter of fact, no one of the individuals in question
would have been interested to take a dollar of this loan except on
Cowperwood's order, but Stackpole had no reason for knowing this.  They
were not prominently identified with the magnate.)

"Thank you very much.  I will," observed Stackpole, restoring his
undesired stocks to his bag.

Cowperwood, with an admirable show of courtesy, called a stenographer,
and pretended to secure for his guest the home addresses of these
gentlemen.  He then bade Mr. Stackpole an encouraging farewell. The
distrait promoter at once decided to try not only Bailey and Kaffrath,
but Videra; but even as he drove toward the office of the
first-mentioned Cowperwood was personally busy reaching him by
telephone.

"I say, Bailey," he called, when he had secured the wealthy lumberman
on the wire, "Benoni Stackpole, of Hull & Stackpole, was here to see me
just now."

"Yes."

"He has with him fifteen thousand shares of American Match--par value
one hundred, market value to-day two-twenty."

"Yes."

"He is trying to hypothecate the lot or any part of it at one-fifty."

"Yes."

"You know what the trouble with American Match is, don't you?"

"No.  I only know it's being driven up to where it is now by a bull
campaign."

"Well, listen to me.  It's going to break.  American Match is going to
bust."

"Yes."

"But I want you to loan this man five hundred thousand dollars at
one-twenty or less and then recommend that he go to Edwin Kaffrath or
Anton Videra for the balance."

"But, Frank, I haven't any five hundred thousand to spare.  You say
American Match is going to bust."

"I know you haven't, but draw the check on the Chicago Trust, and
Addison will honor it.  Send the stock to me and forget all about it.
I will do the rest.  But under no circumstances mention my name, and
don't appear too eager.  Not more than one-twenty at the outside, do
you hear? and less if you can get it.  You recognize my voice, do you?"

"Perfectly."

"Drive over afterward if you have time and let me know what happens."

"Very good," commented Mr. Bailey, in a businesslike way.

Cowperwood next called for Mr. Kaffrath.  Conversing to similar effect
with that individual and with Videra, before three-quarters of an hour
Cowperwood had arranged completely for Mr. Stackpole's tour.  He was to
have his total loan at one-twenty or less.  Checks were to be
forthcoming at once.  Different banks were to be drawn on--banks other
than the Chicago Trust Company.  Cowperwood would see, in some
roundabout way, that these checks were promptly honored, whether the
cash was there or not.  In each case the hypothecated stocks were to be
sent to him.  Then, having seen to the perfecting of this little
programme, and that the banks to be drawn upon in this connection
understood perfectly that the checks in question were guaranteed by him
or others, he sat down to await the arrival of his henchmen and the
turning of the stock into his private safe.




Chapter XLVIII

Panic


On August 4, 1896, the city of Chicago, and for that matter the entire
financial world, was startled and amazed by the collapse of American
Match, one of the strongest of market securities, and the coincident
failure of Messrs. Hull and Stackpole, its ostensible promoters, for
twenty millions.  As early as eleven o'clock of the preceding day the
banking and brokerage world of Chicago, trading in this stock, was
fully aware that something untoward was on foot in connection with it.
Owing to the high price at which the stock was "protected," and the
need of money to liquidate, blocks of this stock from all parts of the
country were being rushed to the market with the hope of realizing
before the ultimate break.  About the stock-exchange, which frowned
like a gray fortress at the foot of La Salle Street, all was
excitement--as though a giant anthill had been ruthlessly disturbed.
Clerks and messengers hurried to and fro in confused and apparently
aimless directions.  Brokers whose supply of American Match had been
apparently exhausted on the previous day now appeared on 'change bright
and early, and at the clang of the gong began to offer the stock in
sizable lots of from two hundred to five hundred shares.  The agents of
Hull & Stackpole were in the market, of course, in the front rank of
the scrambling, yelling throng, taking up whatever stock appeared at
the price they were hoping to maintain.  The two promoters were in
touch by 'phone and wire not only with those various important
personages whom they had induced to enter upon this bull campaign, but
with their various clerks and agents on 'change.  Naturally, under the
circumstances both were in a gloomy frame of mind.  This game was no
longer moving in those large, easy sweeps which characterize the more
favorable aspects of high finance.  Sad to relate, as in all the
troubled flumes of life where vast currents are compressed in narrow,
tortuous spaces, these two men were now concerned chiefly with the
momentary care of small but none the less heartbreaking burdens.  Where
to find fifty thousand to take care of this or that burden of stock
which was momentarily falling upon them? They were as two men called
upon, with their limited hands and strength, to seal up the
ever-increasing crevices of a dike beyond which raged a mountainous and
destructive sea.

At eleven o'clock Mr. Phineas Hull rose from the chair which sat before
his solid mahogany desk, and confronted his partner.

"I'll tell you, Ben," he said, "I'm afraid we can't make this. We've
hypothecated so much of this stock around town that we can't possibly
tell who's doing what.  I know as well as I'm standing on this floor
that some one, I can't say which one, is selling us out.  You don't
suppose it could be Cowperwood or any of those people he sent to us, do
you?"

Stackpole, worn by his experiences of the past few weeks, was inclined
to be irritable.

"How should I know, Phineas?" he inquired, scowling in troubled
thought.  "I don't think so.  I didn't notice any signs that they were
interested in stock-gambling.  Anyhow, we had to have the money in some
form.  Any one of the whole crowd is apt to get frightened now at any
moment and throw the whole thing over.  We're in a tight place, that's
plain."

For the fortieth time he plucked at a too-tight collar and pulled up
his shirt-sleeves, for it was stifling, and he was coatless and
waistcoatless.  Just then Mr. Hull's telephone bell rang--the one
connecting with the firm's private office on 'change, and the latter
jumped to seize the receiver.

"Yes?" he inquired, irritably.

"Two thousand shares of American offered at two-twenty! Shall I take
them?"

The man who was 'phoning was in sight of another man who stood at the
railing of the brokers' gallery overlooking "the pit," or central room
of the stock-exchange, and who instantly transferred any sign he might
receive to the man on the floor.  So Mr. Hull's "yea" or "nay" would be
almost instantly transmuted into a cash transaction on 'change.

"What do you think of that?" asked Hull of Stackpole, putting his hand
over the receiver's mouth, his right eyelid drooping heavier than ever.
"Two thousand more to take up! Where d'you suppose they are coming
from? Tch!"

"Well, the bottom's out, that's all," replied Stackpole, heavily and
gutturally.  "We can't do what we can't do.  I say this, though:
support it at two-twenty until three o'clock.  Then we'll figure up
where we stand and what we owe.  And meanwhile I'll see what I can do.
If the banks won't help us and Arneel and that crowd want to get from
under, we'll fail, that's all; but not before I've had one more try, by
Jericho! They may not help us, but--"

Actually Mr. Stackpole did not see what was to be done unless Messrs.
Hand, Schryhart, Merrill, and Arneel were willing to risk much more
money, but it grieved and angered him to think he and Hull should be
thus left to sink without a sigh.  He had tried Kaffrath, Videra, and
Bailey, but they were adamant.  Thus cogitating, Stackpole put on his
wide-brimmed straw hat and went out.  It was nearly ninety-six in the
shade.  The granite and asphalt pavements of the down-town district
reflected a dry, Turkish-bath-room heat. There was no air to speak of.
The sky was a burning, milky blue, with the sun gleaming feverishly
upon the upper walls of the tall buildings.

Mr. Hand, in his seventh-story suite of offices in the Rookery
Building, was suffering from the heat, but much more from mental
perturbation.  Though not a stingy or penurious man, it was still true
that of all earthly things he suffered most from a financial loss.  How
often had he seen chance or miscalculation sweep apparently strong and
valiant men into the limbo of the useless and forgotten! Since the
alienation of his wife's affections by Cowperwood, he had scarcely any
interest in the world outside his large financial holdings, which
included profitable investments in a half-hundred companies.  But they
must pay, pay, pay heavily in interest--all of them--and the thought
that one of them might become a failure or a drain on his resources was
enough to give him an almost physical sensation of dissatisfaction and
unrest, a sort of spiritual and mental nausea which would cling to him
for days and days or until he had surmounted the difficulty.  Mr. Hand
had no least corner in his heart for failure.

As a matter of fact, the situation in regard to American Match had
reached such proportions as to be almost numbing.  Aside from the
fifteen thousand shares which Messrs. Hull and Stackpole had originally
set aside for themselves, Hand, Arneel, Schryhart, and Merrill had
purchased five thousand shares each at forty, but had since been
compelled to sustain the market to the extent of over five thousand
shares more each, at prices ranging from one-twenty to two-twenty, the
largest blocks of shares having been bought at the latter figure.
Actually Hand was caught for nearly one million five hundred thousand
dollars, and his soul was as gray as a bat's wing.  At fifty-seven
years of age men who are used only to the most successful financial
calculations and the credit that goes with unerring judgment dread to
be made a mark by chance or fate. It opens the way for comment on their
possibly failing vitality or judgment.  And so Mr. Hand sat on this hot
August afternoon, ensconced in a large carved mahogany chair in the
inner recesses of his inner offices, and brooded.  Only this morning,
in the face of a falling market, he would have sold out openly had he
not been deterred by telephone messages from Arneel and Schryhart
suggesting the advisability of a pool conference before any action was
taken. Come what might on the morrow, he was determined to quit unless
he saw some clear way out--to be shut of the whole thing unless the
ingenuity of Stackpole and Hull should discover a way of sustaining the
market without his aid.  While he was meditating on how this was to be
done Mr. Stackpole appeared, pale, gloomy, wet with perspiration.

"Well, Mr. Hand," he exclaimed, wearily, "I've done all I can. Hull and
I have kept the market fairly stable so far.  You saw what happened
between ten and eleven this morning.  The jig's up. We've borrowed our
last dollar and hypothecated our last share. My personal fortune has
gone into the balance, and so has Hull's. Some one of the outside
stockholders, or all of them, are cutting the ground from under us.
Fourteen thousand shares since ten o'clock this morning! That tells the
story.  It can't be done just now--not unless you gentlemen are
prepared to go much further than you have yet gone.  If we could
organize a pool to take care of fifteen thousand more shares--"

Mr. Stackpole paused, for Mr. Hand was holding up a fat, pink digit.

"No more of that," he was saying, solemnly.  "It can't be done. I, for
one, won't sink another dollar in this proposition at this time.  I'd
rather throw what I have on the market and take what I can get.  I am
sure the others feel the same way."

Mr. Hand, to play safe, had hypothecated nearly all his shares with
various banks in order to release his money for other purposes, and he
knew he would not dare to throw over all his holdings, just as he knew
he would have to make good at the figure at which they had been
margined.  But it was a fine threat to make.

Mr. Stackpole stared ox-like at Mr. Hand.

"Very well," he said, "I might as well go back, then, and post a notice
on our front door.  We bought fourteen thousand shares and held the
market where it is, but we haven't a dollar to pay for them with.
Unless the banks or some one will take them over for us we're
gone--we're bankrupt."

Mr. Hand, who knew that if Mr. Stackpole carried out this decision it
meant the loss of his one million five hundred thousand, halted
mentally.  "Have you been to all the banks?" he asked.  "What does
Lawrence, of the Prairie National, have to say?"

"It's the same with all of them," replied Stackpole, now quite
desperate, "as it is with you.  They have all they can carry--every
one.  It's this damned silver agitation--that's it, and nothing else.
There's nothing the matter with this stock.  It will right itself in a
few months.  It's sure to."

"Will it?" commented Mr. Hand, sourly.  "That depends on what happens
next November." (He was referring to the coming national election.)

"Yes, I know," sighed Mr. Stackpole, seeing that it was a condition,
and not a theory, that confronted him.  Then, suddenly clenching his
right hand, he exclaimed, "Damn that upstart!" (He was thinking of the
"Apostle of Free Silver.") "He's the cause of all this. Well, if
there's nothing to be done I might as well be going. There's all those
shares we bought to-day which we ought to be able to hypothecate with
somebody.  It would be something if we could get even a hundred and
twenty on them."

"Very true," replied Hand.  "I wish it could be done.  I, personally,
cannot sink any more money.  But why don't you go and see Schryhart and
Arneel? I've been talking to them, and they seem to be in a position
similar to my own; but if they are willing to confer, I am.  I don't
see what's to be done, but it may be that all of us together might
arrange some way of heading off the slaughter of the stock to-morrow.
I don't know.  If only we don't have to suffer too great a decline."

Mr. Hand was thinking that Messrs. Hull and Stackpole might be forced
to part with all their remaining holdings at fifty cents on the dollar
or less.  Then if it could possibly be taken and carried by the united
banks for them (Schryhart, himself, Arneel) and sold at a profit later,
he and his associates might recoup some of their losses.  The local
banks at the behest of the big quadrumvirate might be coerced into
straining their resources still further.  But how was this to be done?
How, indeed?

It was Schryhart who, in pumping and digging at Stackpole when he
finally arrived there, managed to extract from him the truth in regard
to his visit to Cowperwood.  As a matter of fact, Schryhart himself had
been guilty this very day of having thrown two thousand shares of
American Match on the market unknown to his confreres. Naturally, he
was eager to learn whether Stackpole or any one else had the least
suspicion that he was involved.  As a consequence he questioned
Stackpole closely, and the latter, being anxious as to the outcome of
his own interests, was not unwilling to make a clean breast.  He had
the justification in his own mind that the quadrumvirate had been ready
to desert him anyhow.

"Why did you go to him?" exclaimed Schryhart, professing to be greatly
astonished and annoyed, as, indeed, in one sense he was. "I thought we
had a distinct understanding in the beginning that under no
circumstances was he to be included in any portion of this.  You might
as well go to the devil himself for assistance as go there." At the
same time he was thinking "How fortunate!" Here was not only a loophole
for himself in connection with his own subtle side-plays, but also, if
the quadrumvirate desired, an excuse for deserting the troublesome
fortunes of Hull & Stackpole.

"Well, the truth is," replied Stackpole, somewhat sheepishly and yet
defiantly, "last Thursday I had fifteen thousand shares on which I had
to raise money.  Neither you nor any of the others wanted any more.
The banks wouldn't take them.  I called up Rambaud on a chance, and he
suggested Cowperwood."

As has been related, Stackpole had really gone to Cowperwood direct,
but a lie under the circumstances seemed rather essential.

"Rambaud!" sneered Schryhart.  "Cowperwood's man--he and all the
others.  You couldn't have gone to a worse crowd if you had tried. So
that's where this stock is coming from, beyond a doubt.  That fellow or
his friends are selling us out.  You might have known he'd do it.  He
hates us.  So you're through, are you?--not another single trick to
turn?"

"Not one," replied Stackpole, solemnly.

"Well, that's too bad.  You have acted most unwisely in going to
Cowperwood; but we shall have to see what can be done."

Schryhart's idea, like that of Hand, was to cause Hull & Stackpole to
relinquish all their holdings for nothing to the banks in order that,
under pressure, the latter might carry the stocks he and the others had
hypothecated with them until such a time as the company might be
organized at a profit.  At the same time he was intensely resentful
against Cowperwood for having by any fluke of circumstance reaped so
large a profit as he must have done.  Plainly, the present crisis had
something to do with him.  Schryhart was quick to call up Hand and
Arneel, after Stackpole had gone, suggesting a conference, and
together, an hour later, at Arneel's office, they foregathered along
with Merrill to discuss this new and very interesting development.  As
a matter of fact, during the course of the afternoon all of these
gentlemen had been growing more and more uneasy.  Not that between them
they were not eminently capable of taking care of their own losses, but
the sympathetic effect of such a failure as this (twenty million
dollars), to say nothing of its reaction upon the honor of themselves
and the city as a financial center, was a most unsatisfactory if not
disastrous thing to contemplate, and now this matter of Cowperwood's
having gained handsomely by it all was added to their misery.  Both
Hand and Arneel growled in opposition when they heard, and Merrill
meditated, as he usually did, on the wonder of Cowperwood's subtlety.
He could not help liking him.

There is a sort of municipal pride latent in the bosoms of most members
of a really thriving community which often comes to the surface under
the most trying circumstances.  These four men were by no means an
exception to this rule.  Messrs. Schryhart, Hand, Arneel, and Merrill
were concerned as to the good name of Chicago and their united standing
in the eyes of Eastern financiers.  It was a sad blow to them to think
that the one great enterprise they had recently engineered--a foil to
some of the immense affairs which had recently had their genesis in New
York and elsewhere--should have come to so untimely an end.  Chicago
finance really should not be put to shame in this fashion if it could
be avoided. So that when Mr. Schryhart arrived, quite warm and
disturbed, and related in detail what he had just learned, his friends
listened to him with eager and wary ears.

It was now between five and six o'clock in the afternoon and still
blazing outside, though the walls of the buildings on the opposite side
of the street were a cool gray, picked out with pools of black shadow.
A newsboy's strident voice was heard here and there calling an extra,
mingled with the sound of homing feet and street-cars--Cowperwood's
street-cars.

"I'll tell you what it is," said Schryhart, finally.  "It seems to me
we have stood just about enough of this man's beggarly interference.
I'll admit that neither Hull nor Stackpole had any right to go to him.
They laid themselves and us open to just such a trick as has been
worked in this case." Mr. Schryhart was righteously incisive, cold,
immaculate, waspish.  "At the same time," he continued, "any other
moneyed man of equal standing with ourselves would have had the
courtesy to confer with us and give us, or at least our banks, an
opportunity for taking over these securities.  He would have come to
our aid for Chicago's sake. He had no occasion for throwing these
stocks on the market, considering the state of things.  He knows very
well what the effect of their failure will be.  The whole city is
involved, but it's little he cares.  Mr. Stackpole tells me that he had
an express understanding with him, or, rather, with the men who it is
plain have been representing him, that not a single share of this stock
was to be thrown on the market.  As it is, I venture to say not a
single share of it is to be found anywhere in any of their safes. I can
sympathize to a certain extent with poor Stackpole.  His position, of
course, was very trying.  But there is no excuse--none in the
world--for such a stroke of trickery on Cowperwood's part. It's just as
we've known all along--the man is nothing but a wrecker.  We certainly
ought to find some method of ending his career here if possible."

Mr. Schryhart kicked out his well-rounded legs, adjusted his soft-roll
collar, and smoothed his short, crisp, wiry, now blackish-gray
mustache.  His black eyes flashed an undying hate.

At this point Mr. Arneel, with a cogency of reasoning which did not at
the moment appear on the surface, inquired: "Do any of you happen to
know anything in particular about the state of Mr. Cowperwood's
finances at present? Of course we know of the Lake Street 'L' and the
Northwestern.  I hear he's building a house in New York, and I presume
that's drawing on him somewhat.  I know he has four hundred thousand
dollars in loans from the Chicago Central; but what else has he?"

"Well, there's the two hundred thousand he owes the Prairie National,"
piped up Schrybart, promptly.  "From time to time I've heard of several
other sums that escape my mind just now."

Mr. Merrill, a diplomatic mouse of a man--gray, Parisian,
dandified--was twisting in his large chair, surveying the others with
shrewd though somewhat propitiatory eyes.  In spite of his old grudge
against Cowperwood because of the latter's refusal to favor him in the
matter of running street-car lines past his store, he had always been
interested in the man as a spectacle.  He really disliked the thought
of plotting to injure Cowperwood.  Just the same, he felt it incumbent
to play his part in such a council as this.  "My financial agent, Mr.
Hill, loaned him several hundred thousand not long ago," he
volunteered, a little doubtfully.  "I presume he has many other
outstanding obligations."

Mr. Hand stirred irritably.

"Well, he's owing the Third National and the Lake City as much if not
more," he commented.  "I know where there are five hundred thousand
dollars of his loans that haven't been mentioned here. Colonel
Ballinger has two hundred thousand.  He must owe Anthony Ewer all of
that.  He owes the Drovers and Traders all of one hundred and fifty
thousand."

On the basis of these suggestions Arneel made a mental calculation, and
found that Cowperwood was indebted apparently to the tune of about
three million dollars on call, if not more.

"I haven't all the facts," he said, at last, slowly and distinctly. "If
we could talk with some of the presidents of our banks to-night, we
should probably find that there are other items of which we do not
know.  I do not like to be severe on any one, but our own situation is
serious.  Unless something is done to-night Hull & Stackpole will
certainly fail in the morning.  We are, of course, obligated to the
various banks for our loans, and we are in honor bound to do all we can
for them.  The good name of Chicago and its rank as a banking center is
to a certain extent involved.  As I have already told Mr. Stackpole and
Mr. Hull, I personally have gone as far as I can in this matter.  I
suppose it is the same with each of you.  The only other resources we
have under the circumstances are the banks, and they, as I understand
it, are pretty much involved with stock on hypothecation.  I know at
least that this is true of the Lake City and the Douglas Trust."

"It's true of nearly all of them," said Hand.  Both Schryhart and
Merrill nodded assent.

"We are not obligated to Mr. Cowperwood for anything so far as I know,"
continued Mr. Arneel, after a slight but somewhat portentous pause.
"As Mr. Schryhart has suggested here to-day, he seems to have a
tendency to interfere and disturb on every occasion. Apparently he
stands obligated to the various banks in the sums we have mentioned.
Why shouldn't his loans be called? It would help strengthen the local
banks, and possibly permit them to aid in meeting this situation for
us.  While he might be in a position to retaliate, I doubt it."

Mr. Arneel had no personal opposition to Cowperwood--none, at least, of
a deep-seated character.  At the same time Hand, Merrill, and Schryhart
were his friends.  In him, they felt, centered the financial leadership
of the city.  The rise of Cowperwood, his Napoleonic airs, threatened
this.  As Mr. Arneel talked he never raised his eyes from the desk
where he was sitting.  He merely drummed solemnly on the surface with
his fingers.  The others contemplated him a little tensely, catching
quite clearly the drift of his proposal.

"An excellent idea--excellent!" exclaimed Schryhart.  "I will join in
any programme that looks to the elimination of this man.  The present
situation may be just what is needed to accomplish this. Anyhow, it may
help to solve our difficulty.  If so, it will certainly be a case of
good coming out of evil."

"I see no reason why these loans should not be called," Hand commented.
"I'm willing to meet the situation on that basis."

"And I have no particular objection," said Merrill.  "I think, however,
it would be only fair to give as much notice as possible of any
decision we may reach," he added.

"Why not send for the various bankers now," suggested Schryhart, "and
find out exactly where he stands, and how much it will take to carry
Hull & Stackpole? Then we can inform Mr. Cowperwood of what we propose
to do."

To this proposition Mr. Hand nodded an assent, at the same time
consulting a large, heavily engraved gold watch of the most ponderous
and inartistic design.  "I think," he said, "that we have found the
solution to this situation at last.  I suggest that we get Candish and
Kramer, of the stock-exchange" (he was referring to the president and
secretary, respectively, of that organization), "and Simmons, of the
Douglas Trust.  We should soon be able to tell what we can do."

The library of Mr. Arneel's home was fixed upon as the most suitable
rendezvous.  Telephones were forthwith set ringing and messengers and
telegrams despatched in order that the subsidiary financial luminaries
and the watch-dogs of the various local treasuries might come and, as
it were, put their seal on this secret decision, which it was obviously
presumed no minor official or luminary would have the temerity to
gainsay.




Chapter XLIX

Mount Olympus


By eight o'clock, at which hour the conference was set, the principal
financial personages of Chicago were truly in a great turmoil. Messrs.
Hand, Schryhart, Merrill, and Arneel were personally interested! What
would you? As early as seven-thirty there was a pattering of horses'
hoofs and a jingle of harness, as splendid open carriages were drawn up
in front of various exclusive mansions and a bank president, or a
director at least, issued forth at the call of one of the big
quadrumvirate to journey to the home of Mr. Arneel.  Such interesting
figures as Samuel Blackman, once president of the old Chicago Gas
Company, and now a director of the Prairie National; Hudson Baker, once
president of the West Chicago Gas Company, and now a director of the
Chicago Central National; Ormonde Ricketts, publisher of the Chronicle
and director of the Third National; Norrie Simms, president of the
Douglas Trust Company; Walter Rysam Cotton, once an active wholesale
coffee-broker, but now a director principally of various institutions,
were all en route.  It was a procession of solemn, superior, thoughtful
gentlemen, and all desirous of giving the right appearance and of
making the correct impression.  For, be it known, of all men none are
so proud or vainglorious over the minor trappings of materialism as
those who have but newly achieved them.  It is so essential apparently
to fulfil in manner and air, if not in fact, the principle of
"presence" which befits the role of conservator of society and leader
of wealth.  Every one of those named and many more--to the number of
thirty--rode thus loftily forth in the hot, dry evening air and were
soon at the door of the large and comfortable home of Mr. Timothy
Arneel.

That important personage was not as yet present to receive his guests,
and neither were Messrs. Schryhart, Hand, nor Merrill. It would not be
fitting for such eminent potentates to receive their underlings in
person on such an occasion.  At the hour appointed these four were
still in their respective offices, perfecting separately the details of
the plan upon which they had agreed and which, with a show of
informality and of momentary inspiration, they would later present.
For the time being their guests had to make the best of their absence.
Drinks and liquors were served, but these were of small comfort.  A
rack provided for straw hats was for some reason not used, every one
preferring to retain his own head-gear.  Against the background of wood
panneling and the chairs covered with summer linen the company
presented a galleryesque variety and interest.  Messrs. Hull and
Stackpole, the corpses or victims over which this serious gathering
were about to sit in state, were not actually present within the room,
though they were within call in another part of the house, where, if
necessary, they could be reached and their advice or explanations
heard.  This presumably brilliant assemblage of the financial weight
and intelligence of the city appeared as solemn as owls under the
pressure of a rumored impending financial crisis.  Before Arneel's
appearance there was a perfect buzz of minor financial gossip, such as:

"You don't say?"

"Is it as serious as that?"

"I knew things were pretty shaky, but I was by no means certain how
shaky."

"Fortunately, we are not carrying much of that stock." (This from one
of the few really happy bankers.)

"This is a rather serious occasion, isn't it?"

"You don't tell me!"

"Dear, dear!"

Never a word in criticism from any source of either Hand or Schryhart
or Arneel or Merrill, though the fact that they were back of the pool
was well known.  Somehow they were looked upon as benefactors who were
calling this conference with a view of saving others from disaster
rather than for the purpose of assisting themselves. Such phrases as,
"Oh, Mr. Hand! Marvelous man! Marvelous!" or, "Mr. Schryhart--very
able--very able indeed!" or, "You may depend on it these men are not
going to allow anything serious to overtake the affairs of the city at
this time," were heard on every hand. The fact that immense quantities
of cash or paper were involved in behalf of one or other of these four
was secretly admitted by one banker to another.  No rumor that
Cowperwood or his friends had been profiting or were in any way
involved had come to any one present--not as yet.

At eight-thirty exactly Mr. Arneel first ambled in quite informally,
Hand, Schryhart, and Merrill appearing separately very shortly after.
Rubbing their hands and mopping their faces with their handkerchiefs,
they looked about them, making an attempt to appear as nonchalant and
cheerful as possible under such trying circumstances. There were many
old acquaintances and friends to greet, inquiries to be made as to the
health of wives and children.  Mr. Arneel, clad in yellowish linen,
with a white silk shirt of lavender stripe, and carrying a palm-leaf
fan, seemed quite refreshed; his fine expanse of neck and bosom looked
most paternal, and even Abrahamesque. His round, glistening pate exuded
beads of moisture.  Mr. Schryhart, on the contrary, for all the heat,
appeared quite hard and solid, as though he might be carved out of some
dark wood.  Mr. Hand, much of Mr. Arneel's type, but more solid and
apparently more vigorous, had donned for the occasion a blue serge coat
with trousers of an almost gaudy, bright stripe.  His ruddy, archaic
face was at once encouraging and serious, as though he were saying, "My
dear children, this is very trying, but we will do the best we can."
Mr. Merrill was as cool and ornate and lazy as it was possible for a
great merchant to be.  To one person and another he extended a cool,
soft hand, nodding and smiling half the time in silence.  To Mr. Arneel
as the foremost citizen and the one of largest wealth fell the duty (by
all agreed as most appropriate) of assuming the chair--which in this
case was an especially large one at the head of the table.

There was a slight stir as he finally, at the suggestion of Schryhart,
went forward and sat down.  The other great men found seats.

"Well, gentlemen," began Mr. Arneel, dryly (he had a low, husky voice),
"I'll be as brief as I can.  This is a very unusual occasion which
brings us together.  I suppose you all know how it is with Mr. Hull and
Mr. Stackpole.  American Match is likely to come down with a crash in
the morning if something very radical isn't done to-night.  It is at
the suggestion of a number of men and banks that this meeting is
called."

Mr. Arneel had an informal, tete-a-tete way of speaking as if he were
sitting on a chaise-longue with one other person.

"The failure," he went on, firmly, "if it comes, as I hope it won't,
will make a lot of trouble for a number of banks and private
individuals which we would like to avoid, I am sure.  The principal
creditors of American Match are our local banks and some private
individuals who have loaned money on the stock.  I have a list of them
here, along with the amounts for which they are responsible. It is in
the neighborhood of ten millions of dollars."

Mr. Arneel, with the unconscious arrogance of wealth and power, did not
trouble to explain how he got the list, neither did he show the
slightest perturbation.  He merely fished down in one pocket in a heavy
way and produced it, spreading it out on the table before him.  The
company wondered whose names and what amounts were down, and whether it
was his intention to read it.

"Now," resumed Mr. Arneel, seriously, "I want to say here that Mr.
Stackpole, Mr. Merrill, Mr. Hand, and myself have been to a certain
extent investors in this stock, and up to this afternoon we felt it to
be our duty, not so much to ourselves as to the various banks which
have accepted this stock as collateral and to the city at large, to
sustain it as much as possible.  We believed in Mr. Hull and Mr.
Stackpole.  We might have gone still further if there had been any hope
that a number of others could carry the stock without seriously
injuring themselves; but in view of recent developments we know that
this can't be done.  For some time Mr. Hull and Mr. Stackpole and the
various bank officers have had reason to think that some one has been
cutting the ground from under them, and now they know it.  It is
because of this, and because only concerted action on the part of banks
and individuals can save the financial credit of the city at this time,
that this meeting is called. Stocks are going to continue to be thrown
on the market.  It is possible that Hull & Stackpole may have to
liquidate in some way. One thing is certain: unless a large sum of
money is gathered to meet the claim against them in the morning, they
will fail.  The trouble is due indirectly, of course, to this silver
agitation; but it is due a great deal more, we believe, to a piece of
local sharp dealing which has just come to light, and which has really
been the cause of putting the financial community in the tight place
where it stands to-night.  I might as well speak plainly as to this
matter.  It is the work of one man--Mr. Cowperwood.  American Match
might have pulled through and the city been have spared the danger
which now confronts it if Mr. Hull and Mr. Stackpole had not made the
mistake of going to this man."

Mr. Arneel paused, and Mr. Norrie Simms, more excitable than most by
temperament, chose to exclaim, bitterly: "The wrecker!" A stir of
interest passed over the others accompanied by murmurs of disapproval.

"The moment he got the stock in his hands as collateral," continued Mr.
Arneel, solemnly, "and in the face of an agreement not to throw a share
on the market, he has been unloading steadily.  That is what has been
happening yesterday and to-day.  Over fifteen thousand shares of this
stock, which cannot very well be traced to outside sources, have been
thrown on the market, and we have every reason to believe that all of
it comes from the same place.  The result is that American Match, and
Mr. Hull and Mr. Stackpole, are on the verge of collapse."

"The scoundrel!" repeated Mr. Norrie Simms, bitterly, almost rising to
his feet.  The Douglas Trust Company was heavily interested in American
Match.

"What an outrage!" commented Mr. Lawrence, of the Prairie National,
which stood to lose at least three hundred thousand dollars in
shrinkage of values on hypothecated stock alone.  To this bank that
Cowperwood owed at least three hundred thousand dollars on call.

"Depend on it to find his devil's hoof in it somewhere," observed
Jordan Jules, who had never been able to make any satisfactory progress
in his fight on Cowperwood in connection with the city council and the
development of the Chicago General Company.  The Chicago Central, of
which he was now a director, was one of the banks from which Cowperwood
had judiciously borrowed.

"It's a pity he should be allowed to go on bedeviling the town in this
fashion," observed Mr. Sunderland Sledd to his neighbor, Mr. Duane
Kingsland, who was a director in a bank controlled by Mr. Hand.

The latter, as well as Schryhart, observed with satisfaction the effect
of Mr. Arneel's words on the company.

Mr. Arneel now again fished in his pocket laboriously, and drew forth a
second slip of paper which he spread out before him.  "This is a time
when frankness must prevail," he went on, solemnly, "if anything is to
be done, and I am in hopes that we can do something. I have here a
memorandum of some of the loans which the local banks have made to Mr.
Cowperwood and which are still standing on their books.  I want to know
if there are any further loans of which any of you happen to know and
which you are willing to mention at this time."

He looked solemnly around.

Immediately several loans were mentioned by Mr. Cotton and Mr. Osgood
which had not been heard of previously.  The company was now very well
aware, in a general way, of what was coming.

"Well, gentlemen," continued Mr. Arneel, "I have, previous to this
meeting, consulted with a number of our leading men.  They agree with
me that, since so many banks are in need of funds to carry this
situation, and since there is no particular obligation on anybody's
part to look after the interests of Mr. Cowperwood, it might be just as
well if these loans of his, which are outstanding, were called and the
money used to aid the banks and the men who have been behind Mr. Hull
and Mr. Stackpole.  I have no personal feeling against Mr.
Cowperwood--that is, he has never done me any direct injury--but
naturally I cannot approve of the course he has seen fit to take in
this case.  Now, if there isn't money available from some source to
enable you gentlemen to turn around, there will be a number of other
failures.  Runs may be started on a half-dozen banks.  Time is the
essence of a situation like this, and we haven't any time."

Mr. Arneel paused and looked around.  A slight buzz of conversation
sprang up, mostly bitter and destructive criticism of Cowperwood.

"It would be only just if he could be made to pay for this," commented
Mr. Blackman to Mr. Sledd.  "He has been allowed to play fast and loose
long enough.  It is time some one called a halt on him."

"Well, it looks to me as though it would be done tonight," Mr. Sledd
returned.

Meanwhile Mr. Schryhart was again rising to his feet.  "I think," he
was saying, "if there is no objection on any one's part, Mr. Arneel, as
chairman, might call for a formal expression of opinion from the
different gentlemen present which will be on record as the sense of
this meeting."

At this point Mr. Kingsland, a tall, whiskered gentleman, arose to
inquire exactly how it came that Cowperwood had secured these stocks,
and whether those present were absolutely sure that the stock has been
coming from him or from his friends.  "I would not like to think we
were doing any man an injustice," he concluded.

In reply to this Mr. Schryhart called in Mr. Stackpole to corroborate
him.  Some of the stocks had been positively identified.  Stackpole
related the full story, which somehow seemed to electrify the company,
so intense was the feeling against Cowperwood.

"It is amazing that men should be permitted to do things like this and
still hold up their heads in the business world," said one, Mr. Vasto,
president of the Third National, to his neighbor.

"I should think there would be no difficulty in securing united action
in a case of this kind," said Mr. Lawrence, president of the Prairie
National, who was very much beholden to Hand for past and present
favors.

"Here is a case," put in Schryhart, who was merely waiting for an
opportunity to explain further, "in which an unexpected political
situation develops an unexpected crisis, and this man uses it for his
personal aggrandizement and to the detriment of every other person.
The welfare of the city is nothing to him.  The stability of the very
banks he borrows from is nothing.  He is a pariah, and if this
opportunity to show him what we think of him and his methods is not
used we will be doing less than our duty to the city and to one
another."

"Gentlemen," said Mr. Arneel, finally, after Cowperwood's different
loans had been carefully tabulated, "don't you think it would be wise
to send for Mr. Cowperwood and state to him directly the decision we
have reached and the reasons for it? I presume all of us would agree
that he should be notified."

"I think he should be notified," said Mr. Merrill, who saw behind this
smooth talk the iron club that was being brandished.

Both Hand and Schryhart looked at each other and Arneel while they
politely waited for some one else to make a suggestion.  When no one
ventured, Hand, who was hoping this would prove a ripping blow to
Cowperwood, remarked, viciously:

"He might as well be told--if we can reach him.  It's sufficient
notice, in my judgment.  He might as well understand that this is the
united action of the leading financial forces of the city."

"Quite so," added Mr. Schryhart.  "It is time he understood, I think,
what the moneyed men of this community think of him and his crooked
ways."

A murmur of approval ran around the room.

"Very well," said Mr. Arneel.  "Anson, you know him better than some of
the rest of us.  Perhaps you had better see if you can get him on the
telephone and ask him to call.  Tell him that we are here in executive
session."

"I think he might take it more seriously if you spoke to him, Timothy,"
replied Merrill.

Arneel, being always a man of action, arose and left the room, seeking
a telephone which was located in a small workroom or office den on the
same floor, where he could talk without fear of being overheard.

Sitting in his library on this particular evening, and studying the
details of half a dozen art-catalogues which had accumulated during the
week, Cowperwood was decidedly conscious of the probable collapse of
American Match on the morrow.  Through his brokers and agents he was
well aware that a conference was on at this hour at the house of
Arneel.  More than once during the day he had seen bankers and brokers
who were anxious about possible shrinkage in connection with various
hypothecated securities, and to-night his valet had called him to the
'phone half a dozen times to talk with Addison, with Kaffrath, with a
broker by the name of Prosser who had succeeded Laughlin in active
control of his private speculations, and also, be it said, with several
of the banks whose presidents were at this particular conference.  If
Cowperwood was hated, mistrusted, or feared by the overlords of these
institutions, such was by no means the case with the underlings, some
of whom, through being merely civil, were hopeful of securing material
benefits from him at some future time.  With a feeling of amused
satisfaction he was meditating upon how heavily and neatly he had
countered on his enemies.  Whereas they were speculating as to how to
offset their heavy losses on the morrow, he was congratulating himself
on corresponding gains.  When all his deals should be closed up he
would clear within the neighborhood of a million dollars.  He did not
feel that he had worked Messrs. Hull and Stackpole any great injustice.
They were at their wit's end.  If he had not seized this opportunity to
undercut them Schryhart or Arneel would have done so, anyhow.

Mingled with thoughts of a forthcoming financial triumph were others of
Berenice Fleming.  There are such things as figments of the brain, even
in the heads of colossi.  He thought of Berenice early and late; he
even dreamed of her.  He laughed at himself at times for thus being
taken in the toils of a mere girl--the strands of her ruddy hair--but
working in Chicago these days he was always conscious of her, of what
she was doing, of where she was going in the East, of how happy he
would be if they were only together, happily mated.

It had so happened, unfortunately, that in the course of this summer's
stay at Narragansett Berenice, among other diversions, had assumed a
certain interest in one Lieutenant Lawrence Braxmar, U.S.N., whom she
found loitering there, and who was then connected with the naval
station at Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  Cowperwood, coming East at this
time for a few days' stay in order to catch another glimpse of his
ideal, had been keenly disturbed by the sight of Braxmar and by what
his presence might signify.  Up to this time he had not given much
thought to younger men in connection with her.  Engrossed in her
personality, he could think of nothing as being able to stand long
between him and the fulfilment of his dreams.  Berenice must be his.
That radiant spirit, enwrapt in so fair an outward seeming, must come
to see and rejoice in him. Yet she was so young and airy in her mood
that he sometimes wondered.  How was he to draw near? What say exactly?
What do? Berenice was in no way hypnotized by either his wealth or
fame. She was accustomed (she little knew to what extent by his
courtesy) to a world more resplendent in its social security than his
own. Surveying Braxmar keenly upon their first meeting, Cowperwood had
liked his face and intelligence, had judged him to be able, but had
wondered instantly how he could get rid of him.  Viewing Berenice and
the Lieutenant as they strolled off together along a summery seaside
veranda, he had been for once lonely, and had sighed.  These uncertain
phases of affection could become very trying at times.  He wished he
were young again, single.

To-night, therefore, this thought was haunting him like a gloomy
undertone, when at half past eleven the telephone rang once more, and
he heard a low, even voice which said:

"Mr. Cowperwood? This is Mr. Arneel."

"Yes."

"A number of the principal financial men of the city are gathered here
at my house this evening.  The question of ways and means of preventing
a panic to-morrow is up for discussion.  As you probably know, Hull &
Stackpole are in trouble.  Unless something is done for them tonight
they will certainly fail to-morrow for twenty million dollars.  It
isn't so much their failure that we are considering as it is the effect
on stocks in general, and on the banks.  As I understand it, a number
of your loans are involved. The gentlemen here have suggested that I
call you up and ask you to come here, if you will, to help us decide
what ought to be done. Something very drastic will have to be decided
on before morning."

During this speech Cowperwood's brain had been reciprocating like a
well-oiled machine.

"My loans?" he inquired, suavely.  "What have they to do with the
situation? I don't owe Hull & Stackpole anything."

"Very true.  But a number of the banks are carrying securities for you.
The idea is that a number of these will have to be called--the majority
of them--unless some other way can be devised to-night.  We thought you
might possibly wish to come and talk it over, and that you might be
able to suggest some other way out."

"I see," replied Cowperwood, caustically.  "The idea is to sacrifice me
in order to save Hull & Stackpole.  Is that it?"

His eyes, quite as though Arneel were before him, emitted malicious
sparks.

"Well, not precisely that," replied Arneel, conservatively; "but
something will have to be done.  Don't you think you had better come
over?"

"Very good.  I'll come," was the cheerful reply.  "It isn't anything
that can be discussed over the 'phone, anyhow."

He hung up the receiver and called for his runabout.  On the way over
he thanked the prevision which had caused him, in anticipation of some
such attack as this, to set aside in the safety vaults of the Chicago
Trust Company several millions in low-interest-bearing government
bonds.  Now, if worst came to worst, these could be drawn on and
hypothecated.  These men should see at last how powerful he was and how
secure.

As he entered the home of Arneel he was a picturesque and truly
representative figure of his day.  In a light summer suit of cream and
gray twill, with a straw hat ornamented by a blue-and-white band, and
wearing yellow quarter-shoes of the softest leather, he appeared a very
model of trig, well-groomed self-sufficiency.  As he was ushered into
the room he gazed about him in a brave, leonine way.

"A fine night for a conference, gentlemen," he said, walking toward a
chair indicated by Mr. Arneel.  "I must say I never saw so many straw
hats at a funeral before.  I understand that my obsequies are
contemplated.  What can I do?"

He beamed in a genial, sufficient way, which in any one else would have
brought a smile to the faces of the company.  In him it was an
implication of basic power which secretly enraged and envenomed nearly
all those present.  They merely stirred in a nervous and wholly
antagonistic way.  A number of those who knew him personally
nodded--Merrill, Lawrence, Simms; but there was no friendly light in
their eyes.

"Well, gentlemen?" he inquired, after a moment or two of ominous
silence, observing Hand's averted face and Schryhart's eyes, which were
lifted ceilingward.

"Mr. Cowperwood," began Mr. Arneel, quietly, in no way disturbed by
Cowperwood's jaunty air, "as I told you over the 'phone, this meeting
is called to avert, if possible, what is likely to be a very serious
panic in the morning.  Hull & Stackpole are on the verge of failure.
The outstanding loans are considerable--in the neighborhood of seven or
eight million here in Chicago.  On the other hand, there are assets in
the shape of American Match stocks and other properties sufficient to
carry them for a while longer if the banks can only continue their
loans.  As you know, we are all facing a falling market, and the banks
are short of ready money.  Something has to be done.  We have canvassed
the situation here to-night as thoroughly as possible, and the general
conclusion is that your loans are among the most available assets which
can be reached quickly.  Mr. Schryhart, Mr. Merrill, Mr. Hand, and
myself have done all we can thus far to avert a calamity, but we find
that some one with whom Hull & Stackpole have been hypothecating stocks
has been feeding them out in order to break the market. We shall know
how to avoid that in the future" (and he looked hard at Cowperwood),
"but the thing at present is immediate cash, and your loans are the
largest and the most available.  Do you think you can find the means to
pay them back in the morning?"

Arneel blinked his keen, blue eyes solemnly, while the rest, like a
pack of genial but hungry wolves, sat and surveyed this apparently
whole but now condemned scapegoat and victim.  Cowperwood, who was
keenly alive to the spirit of the company, looked blandly and
fearlessly around.  On his knee he held his blue--banded straw hat
neatly balanced on one edge.  His full mustache curled upward in a
jaunty, arrogant way.

"I can meet my loans," he replied, easily.  "But I would not advise you
or any of the gentlemen present to call them." His voice, for all its
lightness, had an ominous ring.

"Why not?" inquired Hand, grimly and heavily, turning squarely about
and facing him.  "It doesn't appear that you have extended any
particular courtesy to Hull or Stackpole." His face was red and
scowling.

"Because," replied Cowperwood, smiling, and ignoring the reference to
his trick, "I know why this meeting was called.  I know that these
gentlemen here, who are not saying a word, are mere catspaws and rubber
stamps for you and Mr. Schryhart and Mr. Arneel and Mr. Merrill.  I
know how you four gentlemen have been gambling in this stock, and what
your probable losses are, and that it is to save yourselves from
further loss that you have decided to make me the scapegoat.  I want to
tell you here"--and he got up, so that in his full stature he loomed
over the room--"you can't do it.  You can't make me your catspaw to
pull your chestnuts out of the fire, and no rubber-stamp conference can
make any such attempt successful. If you want to know what to do, I'll
tell you--close the Chicago Stock Exchange to-morrow morning and keep
it closed.  Then let Hull & Stackpole fail, or if not you four put up
the money to carry them.  If you can't, let your banks do it.  If you
open the day by calling a single one of my loans before I am ready to
pay it, I'll gut every bank from here to the river.  You'll have panic,
all the panic you want.  Good evening, gentlemen."

He drew out his watch, glanced at it, and quickly walked to the door,
putting on his hat as he went.  As he bustled jauntily down the wide
interior staircase, preceded by a footman to open the door, a murmur of
dissatisfaction arose in the room he had just left.

"The wrecker!" re-exclaimed Norrie Simms, angrily, astounded at this
demonstration of defiance.

"The scoundrel!" declared Mr. Blackman.  "Where does he get the wealth
to talk like that?"

"Gentlemen," said Mr. Arneel, stung to the quick by this amazing
effrontery, and yet made cautious by the blazing wrath of Cowperwood,
"it is useless to debate this question in anger.  Mr. Cowperwood
evidently refers to loans which can be controlled in his favor, and of
which I for one know nothing.  I do not see what can be done until we
do know.  Perhaps some of you can tell us what they are."

But no one could, and after due calculation advice was borrowed of
caution.  The loans of Frank Algernon Cowperwood were not called.




Chapter L

A New York Mansion


The failure of American Match the next morning was one of those events
that stirred the city and the nation and lingered in the minds of men
for years.  At the last moment it was decided that in lieu of calling
Cowperwood's loans Hull & Stackpole had best be sacrificed, the
stock-exchange closed, and all trading ended. This protected stocks
from at least a quotable decline and left the banks free for several
days (ten all told) in which to repair their disrupted finances and
buttress themselves against the eventual facts.  Naturally, the minor
speculators throughout the city--those who had expected to make a
fortune out of this crash--raged and complained, but, being faced by an
adamantine exchange directorate, a subservient press, and the alliance
between the big bankers and the heavy quadrumvirate, there was nothing
to be done. The respective bank presidents talked solemnly of "a mere
temporary flurry," Hand, Schryhart, Merrill, and Arneel went still
further into their pockets to protect their interests, and Cowperwood,
triumphant, was roundly denounced by the smaller fry as a "bucaneer," a
"pirate," a "wolf"--indeed, any opprobrious term that came into their
minds.  The larger men faced squarely the fact that here was an enemy
worthy of their steel.  Would he master them? Was he already the
dominant money power in Chicago? Could he thus flaunt their
helplessness and his superiority in their eyes and before their
underlings and go unwhipped?

"I must give in!" Hosmer Hand had declared to Arneel and Schryhart, at
the close of the Arneel house conference and as they stood in
consultation after the others had departed.  "We seem to be beaten
to-night, but I, for one, am not through yet.  He has won to-night, but
he won't win always.  This is a fight to a finish between me and him.
The rest of you can stay in or drop out, just as you wish."

"Hear, hear!" exclaimed Schryhart, laying a fervently sympathetic hand
on his shoulder.  "Every dollar that I have is at your service, Hosmer.
This fellow can't win eventually.  I'm with you to the end."

Arneel, walking with Merrill and the others to the door, was silent and
dour.  He had been cavalierly affronted by a man who, but a few short
years before, he would have considered a mere underling. Here was
Cowperwood bearding the lion in his den, dictating terms to the
principal financial figures of the city, standing up trig and resolute,
smiling in their faces and telling them in so many words to go to the
devil.  Mr. Arneel glowered under lowering brows, but what could he do?
"We must see," he said to the others, "what time will bring.  Just now
there is nothing much to do. This crisis has been too sudden.  You say
you are not through with him, Hosmer, and neither am I.  But we must
wait.  We shall have to break him politically in this city, and I am
confident that in the end we can do it." The others were grateful for
his courage even though to-morrow he and they must part with millions
to protect themselves and the banks.  For the first time Merrill
concluded that he would have to fight Cowperwood openly from now on,
though even yet he admired his courage.  "But he is too defiant, too
cavalier! A very lion of a man," he said to himself.  "A man with the
heart of a Numidian lion."

It was true.

From this day on for a little while, and because there was no immediate
political contest in sight, there was comparative peace in Chicago,
although it more resembled an armed camp operating under the terms of
some agreed neutrality than it did anything else.  Schryhart, Hand,
Arneel, and Merrill were quietly watchful. Cowperwood's chief concern
was lest his enemies might succeed in their project of worsting him
politically in one or all three of the succeeding elections which were
due to occur every two years between now and 1903, at which time his
franchises would have to be renewed.  As in the past they had made it
necessary for him to work against them through bribery and perjury, so
in ensuing struggles they might render it more and more difficult for
him or his agents to suborn the men elected to office.  The subservient
and venal councilmen whom he now controlled might be replaced by men
who, if no more honest, would be more loyal to the enemy, thus blocking
the extension of his franchises.  Yet upon a renewal period of at least
twenty and preferably fifty years depended the fulfilment of all the
colossal things he had begun--his art-collection, his new mansion, his
growing prestige as a financier, his rehabilitation socially, and the
celebration of his triumph by a union, morganatic or otherwise, with
some one who would be worthy to share his throne.

It is curious how that first and most potent tendency of the human
mind, ambition, becomes finally dominating.  Here was Cowperwood at
fifty-seven, rich beyond the wildest dream of the average man,
celebrated in a local and in some respects in a national way, who was
nevertheless feeling that by no means had his true aims been achieved.
He was not yet all-powerful as were divers Eastern magnates, or even
these four or five magnificently moneyed men here in Chicago who, by
plodding thought and labor in many dreary fields such as Cowperwood
himself frequently scorned, had reaped tremendous and uncontended
profits.  How was it, he asked himself, that his path had almost
constantly been strewn with stormy opposition and threatened calamity?
Was it due to his private immorality? Other men were immoral; the mass,
despite religious dogma and fol-de-rol theory imposed from the top, was
generally so.  Was it not rather due to his inability to control
without dominating personally--without standing out fully and clearly
in the sight of all men? Sometimes he thought so.  The humdrum
conventional world could not brook his daring, his insouciance, his
constant desire to call a spade a spade.  His genial sufficiency was a
taunt and a mockery to many.  The hard implication of his eye was
dreaded by the weaker as fire is feared by a burnt child. Dissembling
enough, he was not sufficiently oily and make-believe.

Well, come what might, he did not need to be or mean to be so, and
there the game must lie; but he had not by any means attained the
height of his ambition.  He was not yet looked upon as a money prince.
He could not rank as yet with the magnates of the East--the serried
Sequoias of Wall Street.  Until he could stand with these men, until he
could have a magnificent mansion, acknowledged as such by all, until he
could have a world-famous gallery, Berenice, millions--what did it
avail?

The character of Cowperwood's New York house, which proved one of the
central achievements of his later years, was one of those
flowerings--out of disposition which eventuate in the case of men quite
as in that of plants.  After the passing of the years neither a
modified Gothic (such as his Philadelphia house had been), nor a
conventionalized Norman-French, after the style of his Michigan Avenue
home, seemed suitable to him.  Only the Italian palaces of medieval or
Renaissance origin which he had seen abroad now appealed to him as
examples of what a stately residence should be.  He was really seeking
something which should not only reflect his private tastes as to a
home, but should have the more enduring qualities of a palace or even a
museum, which might stand as a monument to his memory.  After much
searching Cowperwood had found an architect in New York who suited him
entirely--one Raymond Pyne, rake, raconteur, man-about-town--who was
still first and foremost an artist, with an eye for the exceptional and
the perfect.  These two spent days and days together meditating on the
details of this home museum.  An immense gallery was to occupy the west
wing of the house and be devoted to pictures; a second gallery should
occupy the south wing and be given over to sculpture and large whorls
of art; and these two wings were to swing as an L around the house
proper, the latter standing in the angle between them. The whole
structure was to be of a rich brownstone, heavily carved. For its
interior decoration the richest woods, silks, tapestries, glass, and
marbles were canvassed.  The main rooms were to surround a great
central court with a colonnade of pink-veined alabaster, and in the
center there would be an electrically lighted fountain of alabaster and
silver.  Occupying the east wall a series of hanging baskets of
orchids, or of other fresh flowers, were to give a splendid glow of
color, a morning-sun effect, to this richly artificial realm.  One
chamber--a lounge on the second floor--was to be entirely lined with
thin-cut transparent marble of a peach-blow hue, the lighting coming
only through these walls and from without. Here in a perpetual
atmosphere of sunrise were to be racks for exotic birds, a trellis of
vines, stone benches, a central pool of glistening water, and an echo
of music.  Pyne assured him that after his death this room would make
an excellent chamber in which to exhibit porcelains, jades, ivories,
and other small objects of value.

Cowperwood was now actually transferring his possessions to New York,
and had persuaded Aileen to accompany him.  Fine compound of tact and
chicane that he was, he had the effrontery to assure her that they
could here create a happier social life.  His present plan was to
pretend a marital contentment which had no basis solely in order to
make this transition period as undisturbed as possible. Subsequently he
might get a divorce, or he might make an arrangement whereby his life
would be rendered happy outside the social pale.

Of all this Berenice Fleming knew nothing at all.  At the same time the
building of this splendid mansion eventually awakened her to an
understanding of the spirit of art that occupied the center of
Cowperwood's iron personality and caused her to take a real interest in
him.  Before this she had looked on him as a kind of Western interloper
coming East and taking advantage of her mother's good nature to scrape
a little social courtesy.  Now, however, all that Mrs. Carter had been
telling her of his personality and achievements was becoming
crystallized into a glittering chain of facts.  This house, the papers
were fond of repeating, would be a jewel of rare workmanship.
Obviously the Cowperwoods were going to try to enter society.  "What a
pity it is," Mrs. Carter once said to Berenice, "that he couldn't have
gotten a divorce from his wife before he began all this.  I am so
afraid they will never be received.  He would be if he only had the
right woman; but she--" Mrs. Carter, who had once seen Aileen in
Chicago, shook her head doubtfully.  "She is not the type," was her
comment.  "She has neither the air nor the understanding."

"If he is so unhappy with her," observed Berenice, thoughtfully, "why
doesn't he leave her? She can be happy without him.  It is so
silly--this cat-and-dog existence.  Still I suppose she values the
position he gives her," she added, "since she isn't so interesting
herself."

"I suppose," said Mrs. Carter, "that he married her twenty years ago,
when he was a very different man from what he is to-day.  She is not
exactly coarse, but not clever enough.  She cannot do what he would
like to see done.  I hate to see mismatings of this kind, and yet they
are so common.  I do hope, Bevy, that when you marry it will be some
one with whom you can get along, though I do believe I would rather see
you unhappy than poor."

This was delivered as an early breakfast peroration in Central Park
South, with the morning sun glittering on one of the nearest park
lakes.  Bevy, in spring-green and old-gold, was studying the social
notes in one of the morning papers.

"I think I should prefer to be unhappy with wealth than to be without
it," she said, idly, without looking up.

Her mother surveyed her admiringly, conscious of her imperious mood.
What was to become of her? Would she marry well? Would she marry in
time? Thus far no breath of the wretched days in Louisville had
affected Berenice.  Most of those with whom Mrs. Carter had found
herself compelled to deal would be kind enough to keep her secret.  But
there were others.  How near she had been to drifting on the rocks when
Cowperwood had appeared!

"After all," observed Berenice, thoughtfully, "Mr. Cowperwood isn't a
mere money-grabber, is he? So many of these Western moneyed men are so
dull."

"My dear," exclaimed Mrs. Carter, who by now had become a confirmed
satellite of her secret protector, "you don't understand him at all.
He is a very astonishing man, I tell you.  The world is certain to hear
a lot more of Frank Cowperwood before he dies. You can say what you
please, but some one has to make the money in the first place.  It's
little enough that good breeding does for you in poverty.  I know,
because I've seen plenty of our friends come down."

In the new house, on a scaffold one day, a famous sculptor and his
assistants were at work on a Greek frieze which represented dancing
nymphs linked together by looped wreaths.  Berenice and her mother
happened to be passing.  They stopped to look, and Cowperwood joined
them.  He waved his hand at the figures of the frieze, and said to
Berenice, with his old, gay air, "If they had copied you they would
have done better."

"How charming of you!" she replied, with her cool, strange, blue eyes
fixed on him.  "They are beautiful." In spite of her earlier prejudices
she knew now that he and she had one god in common--Art; and that his
mind was fixed on things beautiful as on a shrine.

He merely looked at her.

"This house can be little more than a museum to me," he remarked,
simply, when her mother was out of hearing; "but I shall build it as
perfectly as I can.  Perhaps others may enjoy it if I do not."

She looked at him musingly, understandingly, and he smiled.  She
realized, of course, that he was trying to convey to her that he was
lonely.




Chapter LI

The Revival of Hattie Starr


Engrossed in the pleasures and entertainments which Cowperwood's money
was providing, Berenice had until recently given very little thought to
her future.  Cowperwood had been most liberal.  "She is young," he once
said to Mrs. Carter, with an air of disinterested liberality, when they
were talking about Berenice and her future. "She is an exquisite.  Let
her have her day.  If she marries well she can pay you back, or me.
But give her all she needs now." And he signed checks with the air of a
gardener who is growing a wondrous orchid.

The truth was that Mrs. Carter had become so fond of Berenice as an
object of beauty, a prospective grande dame, that she would have sold
her soul to see her well placed; and as the money to provide the
dresses, setting, equipage had to come from somewhere, she had placed
her spirit in subjection to Cowperwood and pretended not to see the
compromising position in which she was placing all that was near and
dear to her.

"Oh, you're so good," she more than once said to him a mist of
gratitude commingled with joy in her eyes.  "I would never have
believed it of any one.  But Bevy--"

"An esthete is an esthete," Cowperwood replied.  "They are rare enough.
I like to see a spirit as fine as hers move untroubled. She will make
her way."

Seeing Lieutenant Braxmar in the foreground of Berenice's affairs, Mrs.
Carter was foolish enough to harp on the matter in a friendly,
ingratiating way.  Braxmar was really interesting after his fashion. He
was young, tall, muscular, and handsome, a graceful dancer; but, better
yet, he represented in his moods lineage, social position, a number of
the things which engaged Berenice most.  He was intelligent, serious,
with a kind of social grace which was gay, courteous, wistful.
Berenice met him first at a local dance, where a new step was being
practised--"dancing in the barn," as it was called--and so airily did
he tread it with her in his handsome uniform that she was half smitten
for the moment.

"You dance delightfully," she said.  "Is this a part of your life on
the ocean wave?"

"Deep-sea-going dancing," he replied, with a heavenly smile.  "All
battles are accompanied by balls, don't you know?"

"Oh, what a wretched jest!" she replied.  "It's unbelievably bad."

"Not for me.  I can make much worse ones."

"Not for me," she replied, "I can't stand them." And they went prancing
on.  Afterward he came and sat by her; they walked in the moonlight, he
told her of naval life, his Southern home and connections.

Mrs. Carter, seeing him with Berenice, and having been introduced,
observed the next morning, "I like your Lieutenant, Bevy.  I know some
of his relatives well.  They come from the Carolinas.  He's sure to
come into money.  The whole family is wealthy.  Do you think he might
be interested in you?"

"Oh, possibly--yes, I presume so," replied Berenice, airily, for she
did not take too kindly to this evidence of parental interest. She
preferred to see life drift on in some nebulous way at present, and
this was bringing matters too close to home.  "Still, he has so much
machinery on his mind I doubt whether he could take any serious
interest in a woman.  He is almost more of a battle-ship than he is a
man."

She made a mouth, and Mrs. Carter commented gaily: "You rogue! All the
men take an interest in you.  You don't think you could care for him,
then, at all?"

"Why, mother, what a question! Why do you ask? Is it so essential that
I should?"

"Oh, not that exactly," replied Mrs. Carter, sweetly, bracing herself
for a word which she felt incumbent upon her; "but think of his
position.  He comes of such a good family, and he must be heir to a
considerable fortune in his own right.  Oh, Bevy, I don't want to hurry
or spoil your life in any way, but do keep in mind the future.  With
your tastes and instincts money is so essential, and unless you marry
it I don't know where you are to get it.  Your father was so
thoughtless, and Rolfe's was even worse."

She sighed.

Berenice, for almost the first time in her life, took solemn heed of
this thought.  She pondered whether she could endure Braxmar as a life
partner, follow him around the world, perhaps retransferring her abode
to the South; but she could not make up her mind.  This suggestion on
the part of her mother rather poisoned the cup for her.  To tell the
truth, in this hour of doubt her thoughts turned vaguely to Cowperwood
as one who represented in his avid way more of the things she truly
desired.  She remembered his wealth, his plaint that his new house
could be only a museum, the manner in which he approached her with
looks and voiceless suggestions.  But he was old and married--out of
the question, therefore--and Braxmar was young and charming.  To think
her mother should have been so tactless as to suggest the necessity for
consideration in his case! It almost spoiled him for her.  And was
their financial state, then, as uncertain as her mother indicated?

In this crisis some of her previous social experiences became
significant.  For instance, only a few weeks previous to her meeting
with Braxmar she had been visiting at the country estate of the
Corscaden Batjers, at Redding Hills, Long Island, and had been sitting
with her hostess in the morning room of Hillcrest, which commanded a
lovely though distant view of Long Island Sound.

Mrs. Fredericka Batjer was a chestnut blonde, fair, cool, quiescent--a
type out of Dutch art.  Clad in a morning gown of gray and silver, her
hair piled in a Psyche knot, she had in her lap on this occasion a Java
basket filled with some attempt at Norwegian needlework.

"Bevy," she said, "you remember Kilmer Duelma, don't you? Wasn't he at
the Haggertys' last summer when you were there?"

Berenice, who was seated at a small Chippendale writing-desk penning
letters, glanced up, her mind visioning for the moment the youth in
question.  Kilmer Duelma--tall, stocky, swaggering, his clothes the
loose, nonchalant perfection of the season, his walk ambling, studied,
lackadaisical, aimless, his color high, his cheeks full, his eyes a
little vacuous, his mind acquiescing in a sort of genial,
inconsequential way to every query and thought that was put to him.
The younger of the two sons of Auguste Duelma, banker, promoter,
multimillionaire, he would come into a fortune estimated roughly at
between six and eight millions.  At the Haggertys' the year before he
had hung about her in an aimless fashion.

Mrs. Batjer studied Berenice curiously for a moment, then returned to
her needlework.  "I've asked him down over this week-end," she
suggested.

"Yes?" queried Berenice, sweetly.  "Are there others?"

"Of course," assented Mrs. Batjer, remotely.  "Kilmer doesn't interest
you, I presume."

Berenice smiled enigmatically.

"You remember Clarissa Faulkner, don't you, Bevy?" pursued Mrs. Batjer.
"She married Romulus Garrison."

"Perfectly.  Where is she now?"

"They have leased the Chateau Brieul at Ars for the winter.  Romulus is
a fool, but Clarissa is so clever.  You know she writes that she is
holding a veritable court there this season.  Half the smart set of
Paris and London are dropping in.  It is so charming for her to be able
to do those things now.  Poor dear! At one time I was quite troubled
over her."

Without giving any outward sign Berenice did not fail to gather the
full import of the analogy.  It was all true.  One must begin early to
take thought of one's life.  She suffered a disturbing sense of duty.
Kilmer Duelma arrived at noon Friday with six types of bags, a special
valet, and a preposterous enthusiasm for polo and hunting (diseases
lately acquired from a hunting set in the Berkshires).  A cleverly
contrived compliment supposed to have emanated from Miss Fleming and
conveyed to him with tact by Mrs. Batjer brought him ambling into
Berenice's presence suggesting a Sunday drive to Saddle Rock.

"Haw! haw! You know, I'm delighted to see you again.  Haw! haw! It's
been an age since I've seen the Haggertys.  We missed you after you
left.  Haw! haw! I did, you know.  Since I saw you I have taken up
polo--three ponies with me all the time now--haw! haw!--a regular
stable nearly."

Berenice strove valiantly to retain a serene interest.  Duty was in her
mind, the Chateau Brieul, the winter court of Clarissa Garrison, some
first premonitions of the flight of time.  Yet the drive was a bore,
conversation a burden, the struggle to respond titanic, impossible.
When Monday came she fled, leaving three days between that and a
week-end at Morristown.  Mrs. Batjer--who read straws most
capably--sighed.  Her own Corscaden was not much beyond his money, but
life must be lived and the ambitious must inherit wealth or gather it
wisely.  Some impossible scheming silly would soon collect Duelma, and
then-- She considered Berenice a little difficult.

Berenice could not help piecing together the memory of this incident
with her mother's recent appeal in behalf of Lieutenant Braxmar. A
great, cloying, disturbing, disintegrating factor in her life was
revealed by the dawning discovery that she and her mother were without
much money, that aside from her lineage she was in a certain sense an
interloper in society.  There were never rumors of great wealth in
connection with her--no flattering whispers or public notices regarding
her station as an heiress.  All the smug minor manikins of the social
world were on the qui vive for some cotton-headed doll of a girl with
an endless bank-account.  By nature sybaritic, an intense lover of art
fabrics, of stately functions, of power and success in every form, she
had been dreaming all this while of a great soul-freedom and
art-freedom under some such circumstances as the greatest individual
wealth of the day, and only that, could provide.  Simultaneously she
had vaguely cherished the idea that if she ever found some one who was
truly fond of her, and whom she could love or even admire
intensely--some one who needed her in a deep, sincere way--she would
give herself freely and gladly.  Yet who could it be? She had been
charmed by Braxmar, but her keen, analytic intelligence required some
one harder, more vivid, more ruthless, some one who would appeal to her
as an immense force.  Yet she must be conservative, she must play what
cards she had to win.

During his summer visit at Narragansett Cowperwood had not been long
disturbed by the presence of Braxmar, for, having received special
orders, the latter was compelled to hurry away to Hampton Roads.  But
the following November, forsaking temporarily his difficult affairs in
Chicago for New York and the Carter apartment in Central Park South,
Cowperwood again encountered the Lieutenant, who arrived one evening
brilliantly arrayed in full official regalia in order to escort
Berenice to a ball.  A high military cap surmounting his handsome face,
his epaulets gleaming in gold, the lapels of his cape thrown back to
reveal a handsome red silken lining, his sword clanking by his side, he
seemed a veritable singing flame of youth.  Cowperwood, caught in the
drift of circumstance--age, unsuitableness, the flaring
counter-attractions of romance and vigor--fairly writhed in pain.

Berenice was so beautiful in a storm of diaphanous clinging garments.
He stared at them from an adjacent room, where he pretended to be
reading, and sighed.  Alas, how was his cunning and foresight--even
his--to overcome the drift of life itself? How was he to make himself
appealing to youth? Braxmar had the years, the color, the bearing.
Berenice seemed to-night, as she prepared to leave, to be fairly
seething with youth, hope, gaiety.  He arose after a few moments and,
giving business as an excuse, hurried away.  But it was only to sit in
his own rooms in a neighboring hotel and meditate.  The logic of the
ordinary man under such circumstances, compounded of the age-old
notions of chivalry, self-sacrifice, duty to higher impulses, and the
like, would have been to step aside in favor of youth, to give
convention its day, and retire in favor of morality and virtue.
Cowperwood saw things in no such moralistic or altruistic light.  "I
satisfy myself," had ever been his motto, and under that, however much
he might sympathize with Berenice in love or with love itself, he was
not content to withdraw until he was sure that the end of hope for him
had really come. There had been moments between him and
Berenice--little approximations toward intimacy--which had led him to
believe that by no means was she seriously opposed to him.  At the same
time this business of the Lieutenant, so Mrs. Carter confided to him a
little later, was not to be regarded lightly.  While Berenice might not
care so much, obviously Braxmar did.

"Ever since he has been away he has been storming her with letters,"
she remarked to Cowperwood, one afternoon.  "I don't think he is the
kind that can be made to take no for an answer.

"A very successful kind," commented Cowperwood, dryly.  Mrs. Carter was
eager for advice in the matter.  Braxmar was a man of parts. She knew
his connections.  He would inherit at least six hundred thousand
dollars at his father's death, if not more.  What about her Louisville
record? Supposing that should come out later? Would it not be wise for
Berenice to marry, and have the danger over with?

"It is a problem, isn't it?" observed Cowperwood, calmly.  "Are you
sure she's in love?"

"Oh, I wouldn't say that, but such things so easily turn into love. I
have never believed that Berenice could be swept off her feet by any
one--she is so thoughtful--but she knows she has her own way to make in
the world, and Mr. Braxmar is certainly eligible. I know his cousins,
the Clifford Porters, very well."

Cowperwood knitted his brows.  He was sick to his soul with this worry
over Berenice.  He felt that he must have her, even at the cost of
inflicting upon her a serious social injury.  Better that she should
surmount it with him than escape it with another.  It so happened,
however, that the final grim necessity of acting on any such idea was
spared him.

Imagine a dining-room in one of the principal hotels of New York, the
hour midnight, after an evening at the opera, to which Cowperwood, as
host, had invited Berenice, Lieutenant Braxmar, and Mrs. Carter. He was
now playing the role of disinterested host and avuncular mentor.

His attitude toward Berenice, meditating, as he was, a course which
should be destructive to Braxmar, was gentle, courteous, serenely
thoughtful.  Like a true Mephistopheles he was waiting, surveying Mrs.
Carter and Berenice, who were seated in front chairs clad in such
exotic draperies as opera-goers affect--Mrs. Carter in pale-lemon silk
and diamonds; Berenice in purple and old-rose, with a jeweled comb in
her hair.  The Lieutenant in his dazzling uniform smiled and talked
blandly, complimented the singers, whispered pleasant nothings to
Berenice, descanted at odd moments to Cowperwood on naval personages
who happened to be present. Coming out of the opera and driving through
blowy, windy streets to the Waldorf, they took the table reserved for
them, and Cowperwood, after consulting with regard to the dishes and
ordering the wine, went back reminiscently to the music, which had been
"La Boheme." The death of Mimi and the grief of Rodolph, as voiced by
the splendid melodies of Puccini, interested him.

"That makeshift studio world may have no connection with the genuine
professional artist, but it's very representative of life," he remarked.

"I don't know, I'm sure," said Braxmar, seriously.

"All I know of Bohemia is what I have read in books--Trilby, for
instance, and--" He could think of no other, and stopped.  "I suppose
it is that way in Paris."

He looked at Berenice for confirmation and to win a smile.  Owing to
her mobile and sympathetic disposition, she had during the opera been
swept from period to period by surges of beauty too gay or pathetic for
words, but clearly comprehended of the spirit.  Once when she had been
lost in dreamy contemplation, her hands folded on her knees, her eyes
fixed on the stage, both Braxmar and Cowperwood had studied her parted
lips and fine profile with common impulses of emotion and enthusiasm.
Realizing after the mood was gone that they had been watching her,
Berenice had continued the pose for a moment, then had waked as from a
dream with a sigh. This incident now came back to her as well as her
feeling in regard to the opera generally.

"It is very beautiful," she said; "I do not know what to say. People
are like that, of course.  It is so much better than just dull comfort.
Life is really finest when it's tragic, anyhow."

She looked at Cowperwood, who was studying her; then at Braxmar, who
saw himself for the moment on the captain's bridge of a battle-ship
commanding in time of action.  To Cowperwood came back many of his
principal moments of difficulty.  Surely his life had been sufficiently
dramatic to satisfy her.

"I don't think I care so much for it," interposed Mrs. Carter. "One
gets tired of sad happenings.  We have enough drama in real life."

Cowperwood and Braxmar smiled faintly.  Berenice looked contemplatively
away.  The crush of diners, the clink of china and glass, the bustling
to and fro of waiters, and the strumming of the orchestra diverted her
somewhat, as did the nods and smiles of some entering guests who
recognized Braxmar and herself, but not Cowperwood.

Suddenly from a neighboring door, opening from the men's cafe and
grill, there appeared the semi-intoxicated figure of an ostensibly
swagger society man, his clothing somewhat awry, an opera-coat hanging
loosely from one shoulder, a crush-opera-hat dangling in one hand, his
eyes a little bloodshot, his under lip protruding slightly and
defiantly, and his whole visage proclaiming that devil-may-care,
superior, and malicious aspect which the drunken rake does not so much
assume as achieve.  He looked sullenly, uncertainly about; then,
perceiving Cowperwood and his party, made his way thither in the
half-determined, half-inconsequential fashion of one not quite sound
after his cups.  When he was directly opposite Cowperwood's table--the
cynosure of a number of eyes--he suddenly paused as if in recognition,
and, coming over, laid a genial and yet condescending hand on Mrs.
Carter's bare shoulder.

"Why, hello, Hattie!" he called, leeringly and jeeringly.  "What are
you doing down here in New York? You haven't given up your business in
Louisville, have you, eh, old sport? Say, lemme tell you something.  I
haven't had a single decent girl since you left--not one.  If you open
a house down here, let me know, will you?"

He bent over her smirkingly and patronizingly the while he made as if
to rummage in his white waistcoat pocket for a card.  At the same
moment Cowperwood and Braxmar, realizing quite clearly the import of
his words, were on their feet.  While Mrs. Carter was pulling and
struggling back from the stranger, Braxmar's hand (he being the
nearest) was on him, and the head waiter and two assistants had
appeared.

"What is the trouble here? What has he done?" they demanded.

Meanwhile the intruder, leering contentiously at them all, was
exclaiming in very audible tones: "Take your hands off.  Who are you?
What the devil have you got to do with this? Don't you think I know
what I'm about? She knows me--don't you, Hattie? That's Hattie Starr,
of Louisville--ask her! She kept one of the swellest ever run in
Louisville.  What do you people want to be so upset about? I know what
I'm doing.  She knows me."

He not only protested, but contested, and with some vehemence.
Cowperwood, Braxmar, and the waiters forming a cordon, he was shoved
and hustled out into the lobby and the outer entranceway, and an
officer was called.

"This man should be arrested," Cowperwood protested, vigorously, when
the latter appeared.  "He has grossly insulted lady guests of mine.  He
is drunk and disorderly, and I wish to make that charge.  Here is my
card.  Will you let me know where to come?" He handed it over, while
Braxmar, scrutinizing the stranger with military care, added: "I should
like to thrash you within an inch of your life.  If you weren't drunk I
would.  If you are a gentleman and have a card I want you to give it to
me.  I want to talk to you later." He leaned over and presented a cold,
hard face to that of Mr. Beales Chadsey, of Louisville, Kentucky.

"Tha's all right, Captain," leered Chadsey, mockingly.  "I got a card.
No harm done.  Here you are.  You c'n see me any time you want--Hotel
Buckingham, Fifth Avenue and Fiftieth Street.  I got a right to speak
to anybody I please, where I please, when I please. See?"

He fumbled and protested while the officer stood by read to take him in
charge.  Not finding a card, he added: "Tha's all right. Write it down.
Beales Chadsey, Hotel Buckingham, or Louisville, Kentucky.  See me any
time you want to.  Tha's Hattie Starr.  She knows me.  I couldn't make
a mistake about her--not once in a million.  Many's the night I spent
in her house."

Braxmar was quite ready to lunge at him had not the officer intervened.

Back in the dining-room Berenice and her mother were sitting, the
latter quite flustered, pale, distrait, horribly taken aback--by far
too much distressed for any convincing measure of deception.

"Why, the very idea!" she was saying.  "That dreadful man! How
terrible! I never saw him before in my life."

Berenice, disturbed and nonplussed, was thinking of the familiar and
lecherous leer with which the stranger had addressed her mother--the
horror, the shame of it.  Could even a drunken man, if utterly
mistaken, be so defiant, so persistent, so willing to explain? What
shameful things had she been hearing?

"Come, mother," she said, gently, and with dignity; "never mind, it is
all right.  We can go home at once.  You will feel better when you are
out of here."

She called a waiter and asked him to say to the gentlemen that they had
gone to the women's dressing-room.  She pushed an intervening chair out
of the way and gave her mother her arm.

"To think I should be so insulted," Mrs. Carter mumbled on, "here in a
great hotel, in the presence of Lieutenant Braxmar and Mr. Cowperwood!
This is too dreadful.  Well, I never."

She half whimpered as she walked; and Berenice, surveying the room with
dignity, a lofty superiority in her face, led solemnly forth, a
strange, lacerating pain about her heart.  What was at the bottom of
these shameful statements? Why should this drunken roisterer have
selected her mother, of all other women in the dining-room, for the
object of these outrageous remarks? Why should her mother be stricken,
so utterly collapsed, if there were not some truth in what he had said?
It was very strange, very sad, very grim, very horrible.  What would
that gossiping, scandal-loving world of which she knew so much say to a
scene like this? For the first time in her life the import and horror
of social ostracism flashed upon her.

The following morning, owing to a visit paid to the Jefferson Market
Police Court by Lieutenant Braxmar, where he proposed, if satisfaction
were not immediately guaranteed, to empty cold lead into Mr. Beales
Chadsey's stomach, the following letter on Buckingham stationery was
written and sent to Mrs. Ira George Carter--36 Central Park South:

DEAR MADAM:

Last evening, owing to a drunken debauch, for which I have no
satisfactory or suitable explanation to make, I was the unfortunate
occasion of an outrage upon your feelings and those of your daughter
and friends, for which I wish most humbly to apologize.  I cannot tell
you how sincerely I regret whatever I said or did, which I cannot now
clearly recall.  My mental attitude when drinking is both contentious
and malicious, and while in this mood and state I was the author of
statements which I know to be wholly unfounded. In my drunken stupor I
mistook you for a certain notorious woman of Louisville--why, I have
not the slightest idea.  For this wholly shameful and outrageous
conduct I sincerely ask your pardon--beg your forgiveness.  I do not
know what amends I can make, but anything you may wish to suggest I
shall gladly do.  In the mean while I hope you will accept this letter
in the spirit in which it is written and as a slight attempt at
recompense which I know can never fully be made.

Very sincerely,

BEALES CHADSEY.

At the same time Lieutenant Braxmar was fully aware before this letter
was written or sent that the charges implied against Mrs. Carter were
only too well founded.  Beales Chadsey had said drunk what twenty men
in all sobriety and even the police at Louisville would corroborate.
Chadsey had insisted on making this clear to Braxmar before writing the
letter.




Chapter LII

Behind the Arras


Berenice, perusing the apology from Beales Chadsey, which her
mother--very much fagged and weary--handed her the next morning,
thought that it read like the overnight gallantry of some one who was
seeking to make amends without changing his point of view. Mrs. Carter
was too obviously self-conscious.  She protested too much.  Berenice
knew that she could find out for herself if she chose, but would she
choose? The thought sickened her, and yet who was she to judge too
severely?

Cowperwood came in bright and early to put as good a face on the matter
as he could.  He explained how he and Braxmar had gone to the police
station to make a charge; how Chadsey, sobered by arrest, had abandoned
his bravado and humbly apologized.  When viewing the letter handed him
by Mrs. Carter he exclaimed:

"Oh yes.  He was very glad to promise to write that if we would let him
off.  Braxmar seemed to think it was necessary that he should.  I
wanted the judge to impose a fine and let it go at that. He was drunk,
and that's all there was to it."

He assumed a very unknowing air when in the presence of Berenice and
her mother, but when alone with the latter his manner changed
completely.

"Brazen it out," he commanded.  "It doesn't amount to anything. Braxmar
doesn't believe that this man really knows anything.  This letter is
enough to convince Berenice.  Put a good face on it; more depends on
your manner than on anything else.  You're much too upset.  That won't
do at all; you'll tell the whole story that way."

At the same time he privately regarded this incident as a fine windfall
of chance--in all likelihood the one thing which would serve to scare
the Lieutenant away.  Outwardly, however, he demanded effrontery,
assumption; and Mrs. Carter was somewhat cheered, but when she was
alone she cried.  Berenice, coming upon her accidentally and finding
her eyes wet, exclaimed:

"Oh, mother, please don't be foolish.  How can you act this way? We had
better go up in the country and rest a little while if you are so
unstrung."

Mrs. Carter protested that it was merely nervous reaction, but to
Berenice it seemed that where there was so much smoke there must be
some fire.

Her manner in the aftermath toward Braxmar was gracious, but remote. He
called the next day to say how sorry he was, and to ask her to a new
diversion.  She was sweet, but distant.  In so far as she was concerned
it was plain that the Beales Chadsey incident was closed, but she did
not accept his invitation.

"Mother and I are planning to go to the country for a few days," she
observed, genially.  "I can't say just when we shall return, but if you
are still here we shall meet, no doubt.  You must be sure and come to
see us."  She turned to an east court-window, where the morning sun was
gleaming on some flowers in a window-box, and began to pinch off a dead
leaf here and there.

Braxmar, full of the tradition of American romance, captivated by her
vibrant charm, her poise and superiority under the circumstances, her
obvious readiness to dismiss him, was overcome, as the human mind
frequently is, by a riddle of the spirit, a chemical reaction as
mysterious to its victim as to one who is its witness.  Stepping
forward with a motion that was at once gallant, reverent, eager,
unconscious, he exclaimed:

"Berenice! Miss Fleming! Please don't send me away like this. Don't
leave me.  It isn't anything I have done, is it? I am mad about you.  I
can't bear to think that anything that has happened could make any
difference between you and me.  I haven't had the courage to tell you
before, but I want to tell you now.  I have been in love with you from
the very first night I saw you.  You are such a wonderful girl! I don't
feel that I deserve you, but I love you.  I love you with all the honor
and force in me.  I admire and respect you.  Whatever may or may not be
true, it is all one and the same to me.  Be my wife, will you? Marry
me, please! Oh, I'm not fit to be the lacer of your shoes, but I have
position and I'll make a name for myself, I hope.  Oh, Berenice!" He
extended his arms in a dramatic fashion, not outward, but downward,
stiff and straight, and declared: "I don't know what I shall do without
you.  Is there no hope for me at all?"

An artist in all the graces of sex--histrionic, plastic,
many-faceted--Berenice debated for the fraction of a minute what she
should do and say.  She did not love the Lieutenant as he loved her by
any means, and somehow this discovery concerning her mother shamed her
pride, suggesting an obligation to save herself in one form or another,
which she resented bitterly.  She was sorry for his tactless proposal
at this time, although she knew well enough the innocence and virtue of
the emotion from which it sprung.

"Really, Mr. Braxmar," she replied, turning on him with solemn eyes,
"you mustn't ask me to decide that now.  I know how you feel. I'm
afraid, though, that I may have been a little misleading in my manner.
I didn't mean to be.  I'm quite sure you'd better forget your interest
in me for the present anyhow.  I could only make up my mind in one way
if you should insist.  I should have to ask you to forget me entirely.
I wonder if you can see how I feel--how it hurts me to say this?"

She paused, perfectly poised, yet quite moved really, as charming a
figure as one would have wished to see--part Greek, part
Oriental--contemplative, calculating.

In that moment, for the first time, Braxmar realized that he was
talking to some one whom he could not comprehend really.  She was
strangely self-contained, enigmatic, more beautiful perhaps because
more remote than he had ever seen her before.  In a strange flash this
young American saw the isles of Greece, Cytherea, the lost Atlantis,
Cyprus, and its Paphian shrine.  His eyes burned with a strange,
comprehending luster; his color, at first high, went pale.

"I can't believe you don't care for me at all, Miss Berenice," he went
on, quite strainedly.  "I felt you did care about me.  But here," he
added, all at once, with a real, if summoned, military force, "I won't
bother you.  You do understand me.  You know how I feel.  I won't
change.  Can't we be friends, anyhow?"

He held out his hand, and she took it, feeling now that she was putting
an end to what might have been an idyllic romance.

"Of course we can," she said.  "I hope I shall see you again soon."

After he was gone she walked into the adjoining room and sat down in a
wicker chair, putting her elbows on her knees and resting her chin in
her hands.  What a denouement to a thing so innocent, so charming! And
now he was gone.  She would not see him any more, would not want to see
him--not much, anyhow.  Life had sad, even ugly facts.  Oh yes, yes,
and she was beginning to perceive them clearly.

Some two days later, when Berenice had brooded and brooded until she
could endure it no longer, she finally went to Mrs. Carter and said:
"Mother, why don't you tell me all about this Louisville matter so that
I may really know? I can see something is worrying you.  Can't you
trust me? I am no longer a child by any means, and I am your daughter.
It may help me to straighten things out, to know what to do."

Mrs. Carter, who had always played a game of lofty though loving
motherhood, was greatly taken aback by this courageous attitude. She
flushed and chilled a little; then decided to lie.

"I tell you there was nothing at all," she declared, nervously and
pettishly.  "It is all an awful mistake.  I wish that dreadful man
could be punished severely for what he said to me.  To be outraged and
insulted this way before my own child!"

"Mother," questioned Berenice, fixing her with those cool, blue eyes,
"why don't you tell me all about Louisville? You and I shouldn't have
things between us.  Maybe I can help you."

All at once Mrs. Carter, realizing that her daughter was no longer a
child nor a mere social butterfly, but a woman superior, cool,
sympathetic, with intuitions much deeper than her own, sank into a
heavily flowered wing-chair behind her, and, seeking a small
pocket-handkerchief with one hand, placed the other over her eyes and
began to cry.

"I was so driven, Bevy, I didn't know which way to turn.  Colonel
Gillis suggested it.  I wanted to keep you and Rolfe in school and give
you a chance.  It isn't true--anything that horrible man said.  It
wasn't anything like what he suggested.  Colonel Gillis and several
others wanted me to rent them bachelor quarters, and that's the way it
all came about.  It wasn't my fault; I couldn't help myself, Bevy."

"And what about Mr. Cowperwood?" inquired Berenice curiously.  She had
begun of late to think a great deal about Cowperwood.  He was so cool,
deep, dynamic, in a way resourceful, like herself.

"There's nothing about him," replied Mrs. Carter, looking up
defensively.  Of all her men friends she best liked Cowperwood. He had
never advised her to evil ways or used her house as a convenience to
himself alone.  "He never did anything but help me out.  He advised me
to give up my house in Louisville and come East and devote myself to
looking after you and Rolfe.  He offered to help me until you two
should be able to help yourselves, and so I came.  Oh, if I had only
not been so foolish--so afraid of life! But your father and Mr. Carter
just ran through everything."

She heaved a deep, heartfelt sigh.

"Then we really haven't anything at all, have we, mother--property or
anything else?"

Mrs. Carter shook her head, meaning no.

"And the money we have been spending is Mr. Cowperwood's?"

"Yes."

Berenice paused and looked out the window over the wide stretch of park
which it commanded.  Framed in it like a picture were a small lake, a
hill of trees, with a Japanese pagoda effect in the foreground.  Over
the hill were the yellow towering walls of a great hotel in Central
Park West.  In the street below could be heard the jingle of
street-cars.  On a road in the park could be seen a moving line of
pleasure vehicles--society taking an airing in the chill November
afternoon.

"Poverty, ostracism," she thought.  And should she marry rich? Of
course, if she could.  And whom should she marry? The Lieutenant?
Never.  He was really not masterful enough mentally, and he had
witnessed her discomfiture.  And who, then? Oh, the long line of
sillies, light-weights, rakes, ne'er-do-wells, who, combined with
sober, prosperous, conventional, muddle-headed oofs, constituted
society.  Here and there, at far jumps, was a real man, but would he be
interested in her if he knew the whole truth about her?

"Have you broken with Mr. Braxmar?" asked her mother, curiously,
nervously, hopefully, hopelessly.

"I haven't seen him since," replied Berenice, lying conservatively. "I
don't know whether I shall or not.  I want to think." She arose.  "But
don't you mind, mother.  Only I wish we had some other way of living
besides being dependent on Mr. Cowperwood."

She walked into her boudoir, and before her mirror began to dress for a
dinner to which she had been invited.  So it was Cowperwood's money
that had been sustaining them all during the last few years; and she
had been so liberal with his means--so proud, vain, boastful, superior.
And he had only fixed her with those inquiring, examining eyes.  Why?
But she did not need to ask herself why.  She knew now.  What a game he
had been playing, and what a silly she had been not to see it.  Did her
mother in any way suspect? She doubted it.  This queer, paradoxical,
impossible world! The eyes of Cowperwood burned at her as she thought.




Chapter LIII

A Declaration of Love


For the first time in her life Berenice now pondered seriously what she
could do.  She thought of marriage, but decided that instead of sending
for Braxmar or taking up some sickening chase of an individual even
less satisfactory it might be advisable to announce in a simple social
way to her friends that her mother had lost her money, and that she
herself was now compelled to take up some form of employment--the
teaching of dancing, perhaps, or the practice of it professionally.
She suggested this calmly to her mother one day.  Mrs. Carter, who had
been long a parasite really, without any constructive monetary notions
of real import, was terrified.  To think that she and "Bevy," her
wonderful daughter, and by reaction her son, should come to anything so
humdrum and prosaic as ordinary struggling life, and after all her
dreams. She sighed and cried in secret, writing Cowperwood a cautious
explanation and asking him to see her privately in New York when he
returned.

"Don't you think we had best go on a little while longer?" she
suggested to Berenice.  "It just wrings my heart to think that you,
with your qualifications, should have to stoop to giving
dancing-lessons.  We had better do almost anything for a while yet.
You can make a suitable marriage, and then everything will be all right
for you.  It doesn't matter about me.  I can live. But you--" Mrs.
Carter's strained eyes indicated the misery she felt.  Berenice was
moved by this affection for her, which she knew to be genuine; but what
a fool her mother had been, what a weak reed, indeed, she was to lean
upon! Cowperwood, when he conferred with Mrs. Carter, insisted that
Berenice was quixotic, nervously awry, to wish to modify her state, to
eschew society and invalidate her wondrous charm by any sort of
professional life. By prearrangement with Mrs. Carter he hurried to
Pocono at a time when he knew that Berenice was there alone.  Ever
since the Beales Chadsey incident she had been evading him.

When he arrived, as he did about one in the afternoon of a crisp
January day, there was snow on the ground, and the surrounding
landscape was bathed in a crystalline light that gave back to the eye
endless facets of luster--jewel beams that cut space with a flash.  The
automobile had been introduced by now, and he rode in a touring-car of
eighty horse-power that gave back from its dark-brown, varnished
surface a lacquered light.  In a great fur coat and cap of round, black
lamb's-wool he arrived at the door.

"Well, Bevy," he exclaimed, pretending not to know of Mrs. Carter's
absence, "how are you? How's your mother? Is she in?"

Berenice fixed him with her cool, steady-gazing eyes, as frank and
incisive as they were daring, and smiled him an equivocal welcome. She
wore a blue denim painter's apron, and a palette of many colors
glistened under her thumb.  She was painting and thinking--thinking
being her special occupation these days, and her thoughts had been of
Braxmar, Cowperwood, Kilmer Duelma, a half-dozen others, as well as of
the stage, dancing, painting.  Her life was in a melting-pot, as it
were, before her; again it was like a disarranged puzzle, the pieces of
which might be fitted together into some interesting picture if she
could but endure.

"Do come in," she said.  "It's cold, isn't it? Well, there's a nice
fire here for you.  No, mother isn't here.  She went down to New York.
I should think you might have found her at the apartment. Are you in
New York for long?"

She was gay, cheerful, genial, but remote.  Cowperwood felt the
protective gap that lay between him and her.  It had always been there.
He felt that, even though she might understand and like him, yet there
was something--convention, ambition, or some deficiency on his
part--that was keeping her from him, keeping her eternally distant.

He looked about the room, at the picture she was attempting (a
snow-scape, of a view down a slope), at the view itself which he
contemplated from the window, at some dancing sketches she had recently
executed and hung on the wall for the time being--lovely, short tunic
motives.  He looked at her in her interesting and becoming painter's
apron.  "Well, Berenice," he said, "always the artist first.  It is
your world.  You will never escape it.  These things are beautiful." He
waved an ungloved hand in the direction of a choric line.  "It wasn't
your mother I came to see, anyhow. It is you.  I had such a curious
letter from her.  She tells me you want to give up society and take to
teaching or something of that sort.  I came because I wanted to talk to
you about that. Don't you think you are acting rather hastily?"

He spoke now as though there were some reason entirely disassociated
from himself that was impelling him to this interest in her.

Berenice, brush in hand, standing by her picture, gave him a look that
was cool, curious, defiant, equivocal.

"No, I don't think so," she replied, quietly.  "You know how things
have been, so I may speak quite frankly.  I know that mother's
intentions were always of the best."

Her mouth moved with the faintest touch of sadness.  "Her heart, I am
afraid, is better than her head.  As for your motives, I am satisfied
to believe that they have been of the best also.  I know that they have
been, in fact--it would be ungenerous of me to suggest anything else."
(Cowperwood's fixed eyes, it seemed to her, had moved somewhere in
their deepest depths.) "Yet I don't feel we can go on as we have been
doing.  We have no money of our own.  Why shouldn't I do something?
What else can I really do?"

She paused, and Cowperwood gazed at her, quite still.  In her informal,
bunchy painter's apron, and with her blue eyes looking out at him from
beneath her loose red hair, it seemed to him she was the most perfect
thing he had ever known.  Such a keen, fixed, enthroned mind.  She was
so capable, so splendid, and, like his own, her eyes were unafraid.
Her spiritual equipoise was undisturbed.

"Berenice," he said, quietly, "let me tell you something.  You did me
the honor just now to speak of my motives ingiving your mother money as
of the best.  They were--from my own point of view--the best I have
ever known.  I will not say what I thought they were in the beginning.
I know what they were now.  I am going to speak quite frankly with you,
if you will let me, as long as we are here together.  I don't know
whether you know this or not, but when I first met your mother I only
knew by chance that she had a daughter, and it was of no particular
interest to me then.  I went to her house as the guest of a financial
friend of mine who admired her greatly.  From the first I myself
admired her, because I found her to be a lady to the manner born--she
was interesting.  One day I happened to see a photograph of you in her
home, and before I could mention it she put it away.  Perhaps you
recall the one.  It is in profile--taken when you were about sixteen."

"Yes, I remember," replied Berenice, simply--as quietly as though she
were hearing a confession.

"Well, that picture interested me intensely.  I inquired about you, and
learned all I could.  After that I saw another picture of you,
enlarged, in a Louisville photographer's window.  I bought it.  It is
in my office now--my private office--in Chicago.  You are standing by a
mantelpiece."

"I remember," replied Berenice, moved, but uncertain.

"Let me tell you a little something about my life, will you? It won't
take long.  I was born in Philadelphia.  My family had always belonged
there.  I have been in the banking and street-railway business all my
life.  My first wife was a Presbyterian girl, religious, conventional.
She was older than I by six or seven years.  I was happy for a
while--five or six years.  We had two children--both still living.
Then I met my present wife.  She was younger than myself--at least ten
years, and very good-looking. She was in some respects more intelligent
than my first wife--at least less conventional, more generous, I
thought.  I fell in love with her, and when I eventually left
Philadelphia I got a divorce and married her.  I was greatly in love
with her at the time.  I thought she was an ideal mate for me, and I
still think she has many qualities which make her attractive.  But my
own ideals in regard to women have all the time been slowly changing.
I have come to see, through various experiments, that she is not the
ideal woman for me at all.  She does not understand me.  I don't
pretend to understand myself, but it has occurred to me that there
might be a woman somewhere who would understand me better than I
understand myself, who would see the things that I don't see about
myself, and would like me, anyhow.  I might as well tell you that I
have been a lover of women always.  There is just one ideal thing in
this world to me, and that is the woman that I would like to have."

"I should think it would make it rather difficult for any one woman to
discover just which woman you would like to have?" smiled Berenice,
whimsically.  Cowperwood was unabashed.

"It would, I presume, unless she should chance to be the very one woman
I am talking about," he replied, impressively.

"I should think she would have her work cut out for her under any
circumstances," added Berenice, lightly, but with a touch of sympathy
in her voice.

"I am making a confession," replied Cowperwood, seriously and a little
heavily.  "I am not apologizing for myself.  The women I have known
would make ideal wives for some men, but not for me. Life has taught me
that much.  It has changed me."

"And do you think the process has stopped by any means?" she replied,
quaintly, with that air of superior banter which puzzled, fascinated,
defied him.

"No, I will not say that.  My ideal has become fixed, though,
apparently.  I have had it for a number of years now.  It spoils other
matters for me.  There is such a thing as an ideal.  We do have a
pole-star in physics."

As he said this Cowperwood realized that for him he was making a very
remarkable confession.  He had come here primarily to magnetize her and
control her judgment.  As a matter of fact, it was almost the other way
about.  She was almost dominating him.  Lithe, slender, resourceful,
histrionic, she was standing before him making him explain himself,
only he did not see her so much in that light as in the way of a large,
kindly, mothering intelligence which could see, feel, and understand.
She would know how it was, he felt sure.  He could make himself
understood if he tried. Whatever he was or had been, she would not take
a petty view.  She could not.  Her answers thus far guaranteed as much.

"Yes," she replied, "we do have a pole-star, but you do not seem able
to find it.  Do you expect to find your ideal in any living woman?"

"I have found it," he answered, wondering at the ingenuity and
complexity of her mind--and of his own, for that matter--of all mind
indeed.  Deep below deep it lay, staggering him at times by its
fathomless reaches.  "I hope you will take seriously what I am going to
say, for it will explain so much.  When I began to be interested in
your picture I was so because it coincided with the ideal I had in
mind--the thing that you think changes swiftly. That was nearly seven
years ago.  Since then it has never changed. When I saw you at your
school on Riverside Drive I was fully convinced.  Although I have said
nothing, I have remained so. Perhaps you think I had no right to any
such feelings.  Most people would agree with you.  I had them and do
have them just the same, and it explains my relation to your mother.
When she came to me once in Louisville and told me of her difficulties
I was glad to help her for your sake.  That has been my reason ever
since, although she does not know that.  In some respects, Berenice,
your mother is a little dull.  All this while I have been in love with
you--intensely so.  As you stand there now you seem to me amazingly
beautiful--the ideal I have been telling you about.  Don't be
disturbed; I sha'n't press any attentions on you." (Berenice had moved
very slightly.  She was concerned as much for him as for herself.  His
power was so wide, his power so great.  She could not help taking him
seriously when he was so serious.) "I have done whatever I have done in
connection with you and your mother because I have been in love with
you and because I wanted you to become the splendid thing I thought you
ought to become.  You have not known it, but you are the cause of my
building the house on Fifth Avenue--the principal reason.  I wanted to
build something worthy of you.  A dream? Certainly.  Everything we do
seems to have something of that quality.  Its beauty, if there is any,
is due to you.  I made it beautiful thinking of you."

He paused, and Berenice gave no sign.  Her first impulse had been to
object, but her vanity, her love of art, her love of power--all were
touched.  At the same time she was curious now as to whether he had
merely expected to take her as his mistress or to wait until he could
honor her as his wife.

"I suppose you are wondering whether I ever expected to marry you or
not," he went on, getting the thought out of her mind.  "I am no
different from many men in that respect, Berenice.  I will be frank.  I
wanted you in any way that I could get you.  I was living in the hope
all along that you would fall in love with me--as I had with you.  I
hated Braxmar here, not long ago, when he appeared on the scene, but I
could never have thought of interfering.  I was quite prepared to give
you up.  I have envied every man I have ever seen with you--young and
old.  I have even envied your mother for being so close to you when I
could not be.  At the same time I have wanted you to have everything
that would help you in any way.  I did not want to interfere with you
in case you found some one whom you could truly love if I knew that you
could not love me.  There is the whole story outside of anything you
may know. But it is not because of this that I came to-day.  Not to
tell you this."

He paused, as if expecting her to say something, though she made no
comment beyond a questioning "Yes?"

"The thing that I have come to say is that I want you to go on as you
were before.  Whatever you may think of me or of what I have just told
you, I want you to believe that I am sincere and disinterested in what
I am telling you now.  My dream in connection with you is not quite
over.  Chance might make me eligible if you should happen to care.  But
I want you to go on and be happy, regardless of me.  I have dreamed,
but I dare say it has been a mistake.  Hold your head high--you have a
right to.  Be a lady. Marry any one you really love.  I will see that
you have a suitable marriage portion.  I love you, Berenice, but I will
make it a fatherly affection from now on.  When I die I will put you in
my will.  But go on now in the spirit you were going before.  I really
can't be happy unless I think you are going to be."

He paused, still looking at her, believing for the time being what he
said.  If he should die she would find herself in his will. If she were
to go on and socialize and seek she might find some one to love, but
also she might think of him more kindly before she did so.  What would
be the cost of her as a ward compared to his satisfaction and delight
in having her at least friendly and sympathetic and being in her good
graces and confidence?

Berenice, who had always been more or less interested in him,
temperamentally biased, indeed, in his direction because of his
efficiency, simplicity, directness, and force, was especially touched
in this instance by his utter frankness and generosity. She might
question his temperamental control over his own sincerity in the
future, but she could scarcely question that at present he was sincere.
Moreover, his long period of secret love and admiration, the thought of
so powerful a man dreaming of her in this fashion, was so flattering.
It soothed her troubled vanity and shame in what had gone before.  His
straightforward confession had a kind of nobility which was electric,
moving.  She looked at him as he stood there, a little gray about the
temples--the most appealing ornament of some men to some women--and for
the life of her she could not help being moved by a kind of tenderness,
sympathy, mothering affection.  Obviously he did need the woman his
attitude seemed to show that he needed, some woman of culture, spirit,
taste, amorousness; or, at least, he was entitled to dream of her. As
he stood before her he seemed a kind of superman, and yet also a bad
boy--handsome, powerful, hopeful, not so very much older than herself
now, impelled by some blazing internal force which harried him on and
on.  How much did he really care for her? How much could he? How much
could he care for any one? Yet see all he had done to interest her.
What did that mean? To say all this? To do all this? Outside was his
car brown and radiant in the snow. He was the great Frank Algernon
Cowperwood, of Chicago, and he was pleading with her, a mere chit of a
girl, to be kind to him, not to put him out of her life entirely.  It
touched her intellect, her pride, her fancy.

Aloud she said: "I like you better now.  I really believe in you. I
never did, quite, before.  Not that I think I ought to let you spend
your money on me or mother--I don't.  But I admire you.  You make me.
I understand how it is, I think.  I know what your ambitions are.  I
have always felt that I did, in part.  But you mustn't talk to me any
more now.  I want to think.  I want to think over what you have said.
I don't know whether I can bring myself to it or not." (She noticed
that his eyes seemed to move somehow in their deepest depths again.)
"But we won't talk about it any more at present."

"But, Berenice," he added, with a real plea in his voice, "I wonder if
you do understand.  I have been so lonely--I am--"

"Yes, I do," she replied, holding out her hand.  "We are going to be
friends, whatever happens, from now on, because I really like you.  You
mustn't ask me to decide about the other, though, to-day. I can't do
it.  I don't want to.  I don't care to."

"Not when I would so gladly give you everything--when I need it so
little?"

"Not until I think it out for myself.  I don't think so, though. No,"
she replied, with an air.  "There, Mr. Guardian Father," she laughed,
pushing his hand away.

Cowperwood's heart bounded.  He would have given millions to take her
close in his arms.  As it was he smiled appealingly.

"Don't you want to jump in and come to New York with me? If your mother
isn't at the apartment you could stop at the Netherland."

"No, not to-day.  I expect to be in soon.  I will let you know, or
mother will."

He bustled out and into the machine after a moment of parley, waving to
her over the purpling snow of the evening as his machine tore eastward,
planning to make New York by dinner-time.  If he could just keep her in
this friendly, sympathetic attitude.  If he only could!




Chapter LIV

Wanted--Fifty-year Franchises


Whatever his momentary satisfaction in her friendly acceptance of his
confession, the uncertain attitude of Berenice left Cowperwood about
where he was before.  By a strange stroke of fate Braxmar, his young
rival, had been eliminated, and Berenice had been made to see him,
Cowperwood, in his true colors of love and of service for her.  Yet
plainly she did not accept them at his own valuation. More than ever
was he conscious of the fact that he had fallen in tow of an amazing
individual, one who saw life from a distinct and peculiar point of view
and who was not to be bent to his will. That fact more than anything
else--for her grace and beauty merely emblazoned it--caused him to fall
into a hopeless infatuation.

He said to himself over and over, "Well, I can live without her if I
must," but at this stage the mere thought was an actual stab in his
vitals.  What, after all, was life, wealth, fame, if you couldn't have
the woman you wanted--love, that indefinable, unnamable coddling of the
spirit which the strongest almost more than the weakest crave? At last
he saw clearly, as within a chalice-like nimbus, that the ultimate end
of fame, power, vigor was beauty, and that beauty was a compound of the
taste, the emotion, the innate culture, passion, and dreams of a woman
like Berenice Fleming.  That was it: that was it.  And beyond was
nothing save crumbling age, darkness, silence.

In the mean time, owing to the preliminary activity and tact of his
agents and advisers, the Sunday newspapers were vying with one another
in describing the wonders of his new house in New York--its cost, the
value of its ground, the wealthy citizens with whom the Cowperwoods
would now be neighbors.  There were double-column pictures of Aileen
and Cowperwood, with articles indicating them as prospective
entertainers on a grand scale who would unquestionably be received
because of their tremendous wealth.  As a matter of fact, this was
purely newspaper gossip and speculation.  While the general columns
made news and capital of his wealth, special society columns, which
dealt with the ultra-fashionable, ignored him entirely.  Already the
machination of certain Chicago social figures in distributing
information as to his past was discernible in the attitude of those
clubs, organizations, and even churches, membership in which
constitutes a form of social passport to better and higher earthly, if
not spiritual, realms.  His emissaries were active enough, but soon
found that their end was not to be gained in a day.  Many were waiting
locally, anxious enough to get in, and with social equipments which the
Cowperwoods could scarcely boast. After being blackballed by one or two
exclusive clubs, seeing his application for a pew at St. Thomas's
quietly pigeon-holed for the present, and his invitations declined by
several multimillionaires whom he met in the course of commercial
transactions, he began to feel that his splendid home, aside from its
final purpose as an art-museum, could be of little value.

At the same time Cowperwood's financial genius was constantly being
rewarded by many new phases of materiality chiefly by an offensive and
defensive alliance he was now able to engineer between himself and the
house of Haeckelheimer, Gotloeb & Co.  Seeing the iron manner in which
he had managed to wrest victory out of defeat after the first seriously
contested election, these gentlemen had experienced a change of heart
and announced that they would now gladly help finance any new
enterprise which Cowperwood might undertake.  Among many other
financiers, they had heard of his triumph in connection with the
failure of American Match.

"Dot must be a right cleffer man, dot Cowperwood," Mr. Gotloeb told
several of his partners, rubbing his hands and smiling.  "I shouldt
like to meet him."

And so Cowperwood was manoeuvered into the giant banking office, where
Mr. Gotloeb extended a genial hand.

"I hear much of Chicawkgo," he explained, in his semi-German,
semi-Hebraic dialect, "but almozd more uff you.  Are you goink to
swallow up all de street-railwaiss unt elefated roats out dere?"

Cowperwood smiled his most ingenuous smile.

"Why? Would you like me to leave a few for you?"

"Not dot exzagly, but I might not mint sharink in some uff dem wit you."

"You can join with me at any time, Mr. Gotloeb, as you must know. The
door is always very, very wide open for you."

"I musd look into dot some more.  It loogs very promising to me. I am
gladt to meet you."

The great external element in Cowperwood's financial success--and one
which he himself had foreseen from the very beginning--was the fact
that Chicago was developing constantly.  What had been when he arrived
a soggy, messy plain strewn with shanties, ragged sidewalks, a
higgledy-piggledy business heart, was now truly an astounding
metropolis which had passed the million mark in population and which
stretched proud and strong over the greater part of Cook County.  Where
once had been a meager, makeshift financial section, with here and
there only a splendid business building or hotel or a public office of
some kind, there were now canon-like streets lined with fifteen and
even eighteen story office buildings, from the upper stories of which,
as from watch-towers, might be surveyed the vast expanding regions of
simple home life below.  Farther out were districts of mansions, parks,
pleasure resorts, great worlds of train-yards and manufacturing areas.
In the commercial heart of this world Frank Algernon Cowperwood had
truly become a figure of giant significance.  How wonderful it is that
men grow until, like colossi, they bestride the world, or, like
banyan-trees, they drop roots from every branch and are themselves a
forest--a forest of intricate commercial life, of which a thousand
material aspects are the evidence.  His street-railway properties were
like a net--the parasite Gold Thread--linked together as they were, and
draining two of the three important "sides" of the city.

In 1886, when he had first secured a foothold, they had been
capitalized at between six and seven millions (every device for issuing
a dollar on real property having been exhausted).  To-day, under his
management, they were capitalized at between sixty and seventy
millions.  The majority of the stock issued and sold was subject to a
financial device whereby twenty per cent. controlled eighty per cent.,
Cowperwood holding that twenty per cent. and borrowing money on it as
hypothecated collateral.  In the case of the West Side corporation, a
corporate issue of over thirty millions had been made, and these
stocks, owing to the tremendous carrying power of the roads and the
swelling traffic night and morning of poor sheep who paid their
hard-earned nickels, had a market value which gave the road an assured
physical value of about three times the sum for which it could have
been built.  The North Chicago company, which in 1886 had a physical
value of little more than a million, could not now be duplicated for
less than seven millions, and was capitalized at nearly fifteen
millions.  The road was valued at over one hundred thousand dollars
more per mile than the sum for which it could actually have been
replaced.  Pity the poor groveling hack at the bottom who has not the
brain-power either to understand or to control that which his very
presence and necessities create.

These tremendous holdings, paying from ten to twelve per cent. on every
hundred-dollar share, were in the control, if not in the actual
ownership, of Cowperwood.  Millions in loans that did not appear on the
books of the companies he had converted into actual cash, wherewith he
had bought houses, lands, equipages, paintings, government bonds of the
purest gold value, thereby assuring himself to that extent of a fortune
vaulted and locked, absolutely secure. After much toiling and moiling
on the part of his overworked legal department he had secured a
consolidation, under the title of the Consolidated Traction Company of
Illinois, of all outlying lines, each having separate franchises and
capitalized separately, yet operated by an amazing hocus-pocus of
contracts and agreements in single, harmonious union with all his other
properties.  The North and West Chicago companies he now proposed to
unite into a third company to be called the Union Traction Company.  By
taking up the ten and twelve per cent. issues of the old North and West
companies and giving two for one of the new six-per-cent
one-hundred-dollar-share Union Traction stocks in their stead, he could
satisfy the current stockholders, who were apparently made somewhat
better off thereby, and still create and leave for himself a handsome
margin of nearly eighty million dollars.  With a renewal of his
franchises for twenty, fifty, or one hundred years he would have
fastened on the city of Chicago the burden of yielding interest on this
somewhat fictitious value and would leave himself personally worth in
the neighborhood of one hundred millions.

This matter of extending his franchises was a most difficult and
intricate business, however.  It involved overcoming or outwitting a
recent and very treacherous increase of local sentiment against him.
This had been occasioned by various details which related to his
elevated roads.  To the two lines already built he now added a third
property, the Union Loop.  This he prepared to connect not only with
his own, but with other outside elevated properties, chief among which
was Mr. Schryhart's South Side "L." He would then farm out to his
enemies the privilege of running trains on this new line.  However
unwillingly, they would be forced to avail themselves of the proffered
opportunity, because within the region covered by the new loop was the
true congestion--here every one desired to come either once or twice
during the day or night.  By this means Cowperwood would secure to his
property a paying interest from the start.

This scheme aroused a really unprecedented antagonism in the breasts of
Cowperwood's enemies.  By the Arneel-Hand-Schryhart contingent it was
looked upon as nothing short of diabolical.  The newspapers, directed
by such men as Haguenin, Hyssop, Ormonde Ricketts, and Truman Leslie
MacDonald (whose father was now dead, and whose thoughts as editor of
the Inquirer were almost solely directed toward driving Cowperwood out
of Chicago), began to shout, as a last resort, in the interests of
democracy.  Seats for everybody (on Cowperwood's lines), no more straps
in the rush hours, three-cent fares for workingmen, morning and
evening, free transfers from all of Cowperwood's lines north to west
and west to north, twenty per cent. of the gross income of his lines to
be paid to the city. The masses should be made cognizant of their
individual rights and privileges.  Such a course, while decidedly
inimical to Cowperwood's interests at the present time, and as such
strongly favored by the majority of his opponents, had nevertheless its
disturbing elements to an ultra-conservative like Hosmer Hand.

"I don't know about this, Norman," he remarked to Schryhart, on one
occasion.  "I don't know about this.  It's one thing to stir up the
public, but it's another to make them forget.  This is a restless,
socialistic country, and Chicago is the very hotbed and center of it.
Still, if it will serve to trip him up I suppose it will do for the
present.  The newspapers can probably smooth it all over later.  But I
don't know."

Mr. Hand was of that order of mind that sees socialism as a horrible
importation of monarchy-ridden Europe.  Why couldn't the people be
satisfied to allow the strong, intelligent, God-fearing men of the
community to arrange things for them? Wasn't that what democracy meant?
Certainly it was--he himself was one of the strong.  He could not help
distrusting all this radical palaver.  Still, anything to hurt
Cowperwood--anything.

Cowperwood was not slow to realize that public sentiment was now in
danger of being thoroughly crystallized against him by newspaper
agitation.  Although his franchises would not expire--the large
majority of them--before January 1, 1903, yet if things went on at this
rate it would be doubtful soon whether ever again he would be able to
win another election by methods legitimate or illegitimate. Hungry
aldermen and councilmen might be venal and greedy enough to do anything
he should ask, provided he was willing to pay enough, but even the
thickest-hided, the most voracious and corrupt politician could
scarcely withstand the searching glare of publicity and the infuriated
rage of a possibly aroused public opinion.  By degrees this last, owing
to the untiring efforts of the newspapers, was being whipped into a
wild foam.  To come into council at this time and ask for a twenty-year
extension of franchises not destined to expire for seven years was too
much.  It could not be done. Even suborned councilmen would be
unwilling to undertake it just now.  There are some things which even
politically are impossible.

To make matters worse, the twenty-year-franchise limit was really not
at all sufficient for his present needs.  In order to bring about the
consolidation of his North and West surface lines, which he was now
proposing and on the strength of which he wished to issue at least two
hundred million dollars' worth of one-hundred-dollar-six-per-cent.
shares in place of the seventy million dollars current of ten and
twelve per cents., it was necessary for him to secure a much more
respectable term of years than the brief one now permitted by the state
legislature, even providing that this latter could be obtained.

"Peeble are not ferry much indrested in tees short-time frangizes,"
observed Mr. Gotloeb once, when Cowperwood was talking the matter over
with him.  He wanted Haeckelheimer & Co. to underwrite the whole issue.
"Dey are so insigure.  Now if you couldt get, say, a frangize for fifty
or one hunnert years or something like dot your stocks wouldt go off
like hot cakes.  I know where I couldt dispose of fifty million dollars
off dem in Cermany alone."

He was most unctuous and pleading.

Cowperwood understood this quite as well as Gotloeb, if not better. He
was not at all satisfied with the thought of obtaining a beggarly
twenty-year extension for his giant schemes when cities like
Philadelphia, Boston, New York, and Pittsburg were apparently glad to
grant their corporations franchises which would not expire for
ninety-nine years at the earliest, and in most cases were given in
perpetuity.  This was the kind of franchise favored by the great
moneyed houses of New York and Europe, and which Gotloeb, and even
Addison, locally, were demanding.

"It is certainly important that we get these franchises renewed for
fifty years," Addison used to say to him, and it was seriously and
disagreeably true.

The various lights of Cowperwood's legal department, constantly on the
search for new legislative devices, were not slow to grasp the import
of the situation.  It was not long before the resourceful Mr. Joel
Avery appeared with a suggestion.

"Did you notice what the state legislature of New York is doing in
connection with the various local transit problems down there?" asked
this honorable gentleman of Cowperwood, one morning, ambling in when
announced and seating himself in the great presence.  A half-burned
cigar was between his fingers, and a little round felt hat looked
peculiarly rakish above his sinister, intellectual, constructive face
and eyes.

"No, I didn't," replied Cowperwood, who had actually noted and pondered
upon the item in question, but who did not care to say so.  "I saw
something about it, but I didn't pay much attention to it.  What of it?"

"Well, it plans to authorize a body of four or five men--one branch in
New York, one in Buffalo, I presume--to grant all new franchises and
extend old ones with the consent of the various local communities
involved.  They are to fix the rate of compensation to be paid to the
state or the city, and the rates of fare.  They can regulate transfers,
stock issues, and all that sort of thing.  I was thinking if at any
time we find this business of renewing the franchises too uncertain
here we might go into the state legislature and see what can be done
about introducing a public-service commission of that kind into this
state.  We are not the only corporation that would welcome it.  Of
course, it would be better if there were a general or special demand
for it outside of ourselves.  It ought not to originate with us."

He stared at Cowperwood heavily, the latter returning a reflective gaze.

"I'll think it over," he said.  "There may be something in that."

Henceforth the thought of instituting such a commission never left
Cowperwood's mind.  It contained the germ of a solution--the
possibility of extending his franchises for fifty or even a hundred
years.

This plan, as Cowperwood was subsequently to discover, was a thing more
or less expressly forbidden by the state constitution of Illinois.  The
latter provided that no special or exclusive privilege, immunity, or
franchise whatsoever should be granted to any corporation, association,
or individual.  Yet, "What is a little matter like the constitution
between friends, anyhow?" some one had already asked.  There are fads
in legislation as well as dusty pigeonholes in which phases of older
law are tucked away and forgotten.  Many earlier ideals of the
constitution-makers had long since been conveniently obscured or
nullified by decisions, appeals to the federal government, appeals to
the state government, communal contracts, and the like--fine cobwebby
figments, all, but sufficient, just the same, to render inoperative the
original intention.  Besides, Cowperwood had but small respect for
either the intelligence or the self-protective capacity of such men as
constituted the rural voting element of the state.  From his lawyers
and from others he had heard innumerable droll stories of life in the
state legislature, and the state counties and towns--on the bench, at
the rural huskings where the state elections were won, in country
hotels, on country roads and farms.  "One day as I was getting on the
train at Petunkey," old General Van Sickle, or Judge Dickensheets, or
ex-Judge Avery would begin--and then would follow some amazing
narration of rural immorality or dullness, or political or social
misconception.  Of the total population of the state at this time over
half were in the city itself, and these he had managed to keep in
control.  For the remaining million, divided between twelve small
cities and an agricultural population, he had small respect.  What did
this handful of yokels amount to, anyhow?--dull, frivoling,
barn-dancing boors.

The great state of Illinois--a territory as large as England proper and
as fertile as Egypt, bordered by a great lake and a vast river, and
with a population of over two million free-born Americans--would
scarcely seem a fit subject for corporate manipulation and control.
Yet a more trade-ridden commonwealth might not have been found anywhere
at this time within the entire length and breadth of the universe.
Cowperwood personally, though contemptuous of the bucolic mass when
regarded as individuals, had always been impressed by this great
community of his election.  Here had come Marquette and Joliet, La
Salle and Hennepin, dreaming a way to the Pacific.  Here Lincoln and
Douglas, antagonist and protagonist of slavery argument, had contested;
here had arisen "Joe" Smith, propagator of that strange American dogma
of the Latter-Day Saints. What a state, Cowperwood sometimes thought;
what a figment of the brain, and yet how wonderful! He had crossed it
often on his way to St. Louis, to Memphis, to Denver, and had been
touched by its very simplicity--the small, new wooden towns, so
redolent of American tradition, prejudice, force, and illusion.  The
white-steepled church, the lawn-faced, tree-shaded village streets, the
long stretches of flat, open country where corn grew in serried rows or
where in winter the snow bedded lightly--it all reminded him a little
of his own father and mother, who had been in many respects suited to
such a world as this.  Yet none the less did he hesitate to press on
the measure which was to adjust his own future, to make profitable his
issue of two hundred million dollars' worth of Union Traction, to
secure him a fixed place in the financial oligarchy of America and of
the world.

The state legislature at this time was ruled over by a small group of
wire-pulling, pettifogging, corporation-controlled individuals who came
up from the respective towns, counties, and cities of the state, but
who bore the same relation to the communities which they represented
and to their superiors and equals in and out of the legislative halls
at Springfield that men do to such allies anywhere in any given field.
Why do we call them pettifogging and dismiss them? Perhaps they were
pettifogging, but certainly no more so than any other shrewd rat or
animal that burrows its way onward--and shall we say upward? The
deepest controlling principle which animated these individuals was the
oldest and first, that of self-preservation.  Picture, for example, a
common occurrence--that of Senator John H. Southack, conversing with,
perhaps, Senator George Mason Wade, of Gallatin County, behind a
legislative door in one of the senate conference chambers toward the
close of a session--Senator Southack, blinking, buttonholing his
well-dressed colleague and drawing very near; Senator Wade, curious,
confidential, expectant (a genial, solid, experienced, slightly paunchy
but well-built Senator Wade--and handsome, too).

"You know, George, I told you there would be something eventually in
the Quincy water-front improvement if it ever worked out.  Well, here
it is.  Ed Truesdale was in town yesterday." (This with a knowing eye,
as much as to say, "Mum's the word.") "Here's five hundred; count it."

A quick flashing out of some green and yellow bills from a vest pocket,
a light thumbing and counting on the part of Senator Wade. A flare of
comprehension, approval, gratitude, admiration, as though to signify,
"This is something like." "Thanks, John.  I had pretty near forgot all
about it.  Nice people, eh? If you see Ed again give him my regards.
When that Bellville contest comes up let me know."

Mr. Wade, being a good speaker, was frequently in request to stir up
the populace to a sense of pro or con in connection with some
legislative crisis impending, and it was to some such future
opportunity that he now pleasantly referred.  O life, O politics, O
necessity, O hunger, O burning human appetite and desire on every hand!

Mr. Southack was an unobtrusive, pleasant, quiet man of the type that
would usually be patronized as rural and pettifogging by men high in
commercial affairs.  He was none the less well fitted to his task, a
capable and diligent beneficiary and agent.  He was well dressed,
middle-aged,--only forty-five--cool, courageous, genial, with eyes that
were material, but not cold or hard, and a light, springy, energetic
step and manner.  A holder of some C. W. & I. R.R. shares, a director
of one of his local county banks, a silent partner in the Effingham
Herald, he was a personage in his district, one much revered by local
swains.  Yet a more game and rascally type was not to be found in all
rural legislation.

It was old General Van Sickle who sought out Southack, having
remembered him from his earlier legislative days.  It was Avery who
conducted the negotiations.  Primarily, in all state scheming at
Springfield, Senator Southack was supposed to represent the C. W. I.,
one of the great trunk-lines traversing the state, and incidentally
connecting Chicago with the South, West, and East. This road, having a
large local mileage and being anxious to extend its franchises in
Chicago and elsewhere, was deep in state politics. By a curious
coincidence it was mainly financed by Haeckelheimer, Gotloeb & Co., of
New York, though Cowperwood's connection with that concern was not as
yet known.  Going to Southack, who was the Republican whip in the
senate, Avery proposed that he, in conjunction with Judge Dickensheets
and one Gilson Bickel, counsel for the C. W. I., should now undertake
to secure sufficient support in the state senate and house for a scheme
introducing the New York idea of a public-service commission into the
governing machinery of the state of Illinois.  This measure, be it
noted, was to be supplemented by one very interesting and important
little proviso to the effect that all franchise-holding corporations
should hereby, for a period of fifty years from the date of the
enactment of the bill into law, be assured of all their rights,
privileges, and immunities--including franchises, of course.  This was
justified on the ground that any such radical change as that involved
in the introduction of a public-service commission might disturb the
peace and well-being of corporations with franchises which still had
years to run.

Senator Southack saw nothing very wrong with this idea, though he
naturally perceived what it was all about and whom it was truly
designed to protect.

"Yes," he said, succinctly, "I see the lay of that land, but what do I
get out of it?"

"Fifty thousand dollars for yourself if it's successful, ten thousand
if it isn't--provided you make an honest effort; two thousand dollars
apiece for any of the boys who see fit to help you if we win.  Is that
perfectly satisfactory?"

"Perfectly," replied Senator Southack.




Chapter LV

Cowperwood and the Governor


A Public-service-commission law might, ipso facto, have been quietly
passed at this session, if the arbitrary franchise-extending proviso
had not been introduced, and this on the thin excuse that so novel a
change in the working scheme of the state government might bring about
hardship to some.  This redounded too obviously to the benefit of one
particular corporation.  The newspaper men--as thick as flies about the
halls of the state capitol at Springfield, and essentially watchful and
loyal to their papers--were quick to sense the true state of affairs.
Never were there such hawks as newspapermen.  These wretches (employed
by sniveling, mud-snouting newspapers of the opposition) were not only
in the councils of politicians, in the pay of rival corporations, in
the confidence of the governor, in the secrets of the senators and
local representatives, but were here and there in one another's
confidence. A piece of news--a rumor, a dream, a fancy--whispered by
Senator Smith to Senator Jones, or by Representative Smith to
Representative Jones, and confided by him in turn to Charlie White, of
the Globe, or Eddie Burns, of the Democrat, would in turn be
communicated to Robert Hazlitt, of the Press, or Harry Emonds, of the
Transcript.

All at once a disturbing announcement in one or other of the papers, no
one knowing whence it came.  Neither Senator Smith nor Senator Jones
had told any one.  No word of the confidence imposed in Charlie White
or Eddie Burns had ever been breathed.  But there you were--the thing
was in the papers, the storm of inquiry, opinion, opposition was on.
No one knew, no one was to blame, but it was on, and the battle had
henceforth to be fought in the open.

Consider also the governor who presided at this time in the executive
chamber at Springfield.  He was a strange, tall, dark, osseous man who,
owing to the brooding, melancholy character of his own disposition, had
a checkered and a somewhat sad career behind him. Born in Sweden, he
had been brought to America as a child, and allowed or compelled to
fight his own way upward under all the grinding aspects of poverty.
Owing to an energetic and indomitable temperament, he had through years
of law practice and public labors of various kinds built up for himself
a following among Chicago Swedes which amounted to adoration.  He had
been city tax-collector, city surveyor, district attorney, and for six
or eight years a state circuit judge.  In all these capacities he had
manifested a tendency to do the right as he saw it and play
fair--qualities which endeared him to the idealistic.  Honest, and with
a hopeless brooding sympathy for the miseries of the poor, he had as
circuit judge, and also as district attorney, rendered various
decisions which had made him very unpopular with the rich and
powerful--decisions in damage cases, fraud cases, railroad claim cases,
where the city or the state was seeking to oust various powerful
railway corporations from possession of property--yards,
water-frontages, and the like, to which they had no just claim. At the
same time the populace, reading the news items of his doings and
hearing him speak on various and sundry occasions, conceived a great
fancy for him.  He was primarily soft-hearted, sweet-minded, fiery, a
brilliant orator, a dynamic presence.  In addition he was
woman-hungry--a phase which homely, sex-starved intellectuals the world
over will understand, to the shame of a lying age, that because of
quixotic dogma belies its greatest desire, its greatest sorrow, its
greatest joy.  All these factors turned an ultra-conservative element
in the community against him, and he was considered dangerous.  At the
same time he had by careful economy and investment built up a fair
sized fortune.  Recently, however, owing to the craze for sky-scrapers,
he had placed much of his holdings in a somewhat poorly constructed and
therefore unprofitable office building.  Because of this error
financial wreck was threatening him.  Even now he was knocking at the
doors of large bonding companies for assistance.

This man, in company with the antagonistic financial element and the
newspapers, constituted, as regards Cowperwood's
public-service-commission scheme, a triumvirate of difficulties not
easy to overcome.  The newspapers, in due time, catching wind of the
true purport of the plan, ran screaming to their readers with the
horrible intelligence.  In the offices of Schryhart, Arneel, Hand, and
Merrill, as well as in other centers of finance, there was considerable
puzzling over the situation, and then a shrewd, intelligent deduction
was made.

"Do you see what he's up to, Hosmer?" inquired Schryhart of Hand. "He
sees that we have him scotched here in Chicago.  As things stand now he
can't go into the city council and ask for a franchise for more than
twenty years under the state law, and he can't do that for three or
four years yet, anyhow.  His franchises don't expire soon enough.  He
knows that by the time they do expire we will have public sentiment
aroused to such a point that no council, however crooked it may be,
will dare to give him what he asks unless he is willing to make a heavy
return to the city.  If he does that it will end his scheme of selling
any two hundred million dollars of Union Traction at six per cent.  The
market won't back him up.  He can't pay twenty per cent. to the city
and give universal transfers and pay six per cent. on two hundred
million dollars, and everybody knows it.  He has a fine scheme of
making a cool hundred million out of this.  Well, he can't do it.  We
must get the newspapers to hammer this legislative scheme of his to
death.  When he comes into the local council he must pay twenty or
thirty per cent. of the gross receipts of his roads to the city. He
must give free transfers from every one of his lines to every other
one.  Then we have him.  I dislike to see socialistic ideas fostered,
but it can't be helped.  We have to do it.  If we ever get him out of
here we can hush up the newspapers, and the public will forget about
it; at least we can hope so."

In the mean time the governor had heard the whisper of "boodle"--a word
of the day expressive of a corrupt legislative fund.  Not at all a
small-minded man, nor involved in the financial campaign being waged
against Cowperwood, nor inclined to be influenced mentally or
emotionally by superheated charges against the latter, he nevertheless
speculated deeply.  In a vague way he sensed the dreams of Cowperwood.
The charge of seducing women so frequently made against the
street-railway magnate, so shocking to the yoked conventionalists, did
not disturb him at all.  Back of the onward sweep of the generations he
himself sensed the mystic Aphrodite and her magic.  He realized that
Cowperwood had traveled fast--that he was pressing to the utmost a
great advantage in the face of great obstacles.  At the same time he
knew that the present street-car service of Chicago was by no means
bad.  Would he be proving unfaithful to the trust imposed on him by the
great electorate of Illinois if he were to advantage Cowperwood's
cause? Must he not rather in the sight of all men smoke out the
animating causes here--greed, over-weening ambition, colossal
self-interest as opposed to the selflessness of a Christian ideal and
of a democratic theory of government?

Life rises to a high plane of the dramatic, and hence of the artistic,
whenever and wherever in the conflict regarding material possession
there enters a conception of the ideal.  It was this that lit forever
the beacon fires of Troy, that thundered eternally in the horses' hoofs
at Arbela and in the guns at Waterloo.  Ideals were here at stake--the
dreams of one man as opposed perhaps to the ultimate dreams of a city
or state or nation--the grovelings and wallowings of a democracy
slowly, blindly trying to stagger to its feet.  In this
conflict--taking place in an inland cottage-dotted state where men were
clowns and churls, dancing fiddlers at country fairs--were opposed, as
the governor saw it, the ideals of one man and the ideals of men.

Governor Swanson decided after mature deliberation to veto the bill.
Cowperwood, debonair as ever, faithful as ever to his logic and his
conception of individuality, was determined that no stone should be
left unturned that would permit him to triumph, that would carry him
finally to the gorgeous throne of his own construction. Having first
engineered the matter through the legislature by a tortuous process,
fired upon at every step by the press, he next sent various
individuals--state legislators, representatives of the C. W. & I.,
members of outside corporations to see the governor, but Swanson was
adamant.  He did not see how he could conscientiously sanction the
bill.  Finally, one day, as he was seated in his Chicago business
office--a fateful chamber located in the troublesome building which was
subsequently to wreck his fortune and which was the raison d'etre of a
present period of care and depression--enter the smug, comfortable
presence of Judge Nahum Dickensheets, at present senior counsel of the
North Chicago Street Railway.  He was a very mountain of a man
physically--smooth-faced, agreeably clothed, hard and yet ingratiating
of eye, a thinker, a reasoner. Swanson knew much of him by reputation
and otherwise, although personally they were no more than speaking
acquaintances.

"How are you, Governor? I'm glad to see you again.  I heard you were
back in Chicago.  I see by the morning papers that you have that
Southack public-service bill up before you.  I thought I would come
over and have a few words with you about it if you have no objection.
I've been trying to get down to Springfield for the last three weeks to
have a little chat with you before you reached a conclusion one way or
the other.  Do you mind if I inquire whether you have decided to veto
it?"

The ex-judge, faintly perfumed, clean and agreeable, carried in his
hand a large-sized black hand-satchel which he put down beside him on
the floor.

"Yes, Judge," replied Swanson, "I've practically decided to veto it.  I
can see no practical reason for supporting it.  As I look at it now,
it's specious and special, not particularly called for or necessary at
this time."

The governor talked with a slight Swedish accent, intellectual,
individual.

A long, placid, philosophic discussion of all the pros and cons of the
situation followed.  The governor was tired, distrait, but ready to
listen in a tolerant way to more argument along a line with which he
was already fully familiar.  He knew, of course, that Dickensheets was
counsel for the North Chicago Street Railway Company.

"I'm very glad to have heard what you have to say, Judge," finally
commented the governor.  I don't want you to think I haven't given this
matter serious thought--I have.  I know most of the things that have
been done down at Springfield.  Mr. Cowperwood is an able man; I don't
charge any more against him than I do against twenty other agencies
that are operating down there at this very moment.  I know what his
difficulties are.  I can hardly be accused of sympathizing with his
enemies, for they certainly do not sympathize with me.  I am not even
listening to the newspapers. This is a matter of faith in democracy--a
difference in ideals between myself and many other men.  I haven't
vetoed the bill yet. I don't say that something may not arise to make
me sign it.  My present intention, unless I hear something much more
favorable in its behalf than I have already heard, is to veto it.

"Governor," said Dickensheets, rising, "let me thank you for your
courtesy.  I would be the last person in the world to wish to influence
you outside the line of your private convictions and your personal
sense of fair play.  At the same time I have tried to make plain to you
how essential it is, how only fair and right, that this local
street-railway-franchise business should be removed out of the realm of
sentiment, emotion, public passion, envy, buncombe, and all the other
influences that are at work to frustrate and make difficult the work of
Mr. Cowperwood.  All envy, I tell you.  His enemies are willing to
sacrifice every principle of justice and fair play to see him
eliminated.  That sums it up.

"That may all be true," replied Swanson.  "Just the same, there is
another principle involved here which you do not seem to see or do not
care to consider--the right of the people under the state constitution
to a consideration, a revaluation, of their contracts at the time and
in the manner agreed upon under the original franchise.  What you
propose is sumptuary legislation; it makes null and void an agreement
between the people and the street-railway companies at a time when the
people have a right to expect a full and free consideration of this
matter aside from state legislative influence and control.  To persuade
the state legislature, by influence or by any other means, to step in
at this time and interfere is unfair.  The propositions involved in
those bills should be referred to the people at the next election for
approval or not, just as they see fit.  That is the way this matter
should be arranged.  It will not do to come into the legislature and
influence or buy votes, and then expect me to write my signature under
the whole matter as satisfactory."

Swanson was not heated or antipathetic.  He was cool, firm,
well-intentioned.

Dickensheets passed his hand over a wide, high temple.  He seemed to be
meditating something--some hitherto untried statement or course of
action.

"Well, Governor," he repeated, "I want to thank you, anyhow.  You have
been exceedingly kind.  By the way, I see you have a large, roomy safe
here." He had picked up the bag he was carrying.  "I wonder if I might
leave this here for a day or two in your care? It contains some papers
that I do not wish to carry into the country with me.  Would you mind
locking it up in your safe and letting me have it when I send for it?"

"With pleasure," replied the governor.

He took it, placed it in lower storage space, and closed and locked the
door.  The two men parted with a genial hand-shake.  The governor
returned to his meditations, the judge hurried to catch a car.

About eleven o'clock the next morning Swanson was still working in his
office, worrying greatly over some method whereby he could raise one
hundred thousand dollars to defray interest charges, repairs, and other
payments, on a structure that was by no means meeting expenses and was
hence a drain.  At this juncture his office door opened, and his very
youthful office-boy presented him the card of F. A. Cowperwood.  The
governor had never seen him before.  Cowperwood entered brisk, fresh,
forceful.  He was as crisp as a new dollar bill--as clean, sharp,
firmly limned.

"Governor Swanson, I believe?"

"Yes, sir."

The two were scrutinizing each other defensively.

"I am Mr. Cowperwood.  I come to have a very few words with you. I will
take very little of your time.  I do not wish to go over any of the
arguments that have been gone over before.  I am satisfied that you
know all about them."

"Yes, I had a talk with Judge Dickensheets yesterday."

"Just so, Governor.  Knowing all that you do, permit me to put one more
matter before you.  I know that you are, comparatively, a poor
man--that every dollar you have is at present practically tied in this
building.  I know of two places where you have applied for a loan of
one hundred thousand dollars and have been refused because you haven't
sufficient security to offer outside of this building, which is
mortgaged up to its limit as it stands.  The men, as you must know, who
are fighting you are fighting me.  I am a scoundrel because I am
selfish and ambitious--a materialist. You are not a scoundrel, but a
dangerous person because you are an idealist.  Whether you veto this
bill or not, you will never again be elected Governor of Illinois if
the people who are fighting me succeed, as they will succeed, in
fighting you."

Swanson's dark eyes burned illuminatively.  He nodded his head in
assent.

"Governor, I have come here this morning to bribe you, if I can. I do
not agree with your ideals; in the last analysis I do not believe that
they will work.  I am sure I do not believe in most of the things that
you believe in.  Life is different at bottom perhaps from what either
you or I may think.  Just the same, as compared with other men, I
sympathize with you.  I will loan you that one hundred thousand dollars
and two or three or four hundred thousand dollars more besides if you
wish.  You need never pay me a dollar--or you can if you wish.  Suit
yourself.  In that black bag which Judge Dickensheets brought here
yesterday, and which is in your safe, is three hundred thousand dollars
in cash.  He did not have the courage to mention it.  Sign the bill and
let me beat the men who are trying to beat me.  I will support you in
the future with any amount of money or influence that I can bring to
bear in any political contest you may choose to enter, state or
national."

Cowperwood's eyes glowed like a large, genial collie's.  There was a
suggestion of sympathetic appeal in them, rich and deep, and, even more
than that, a philosophic perception of ineffable things. Swanson arose.
"You really don't mean to say that you are trying to bribe me openly,
do you?" he inquired.  In spite of a conventional impulse to burst
forth in moralistic denunciation, solemnly phrased, he was compelled
for the moment to see the other man's viewpoint. They were working in
different directions, going different ways, to what ultimate end?

"Mr. Cowperwood," continued the governor, his face a physiognomy out of
Goya, his eye alight with a kind of understanding sympathy, "I suppose
I ought to resent this, but I can't.  I see your point of view.  I'm
sorry, but I can't help you nor myself.  My political belief, my
ideals, compel me to veto this bill; when I forsake these I am done
politically with myself.  I may not be elected governor again, but that
does not matter, either.  I could use your money, but I won't.  I shall
have to bid you good morning."

He moved toward the safe, slowly, opened it, took out the bag and
brought it over.

"You must take that with you," he added.

The two men looked at each other a moment curiously, sadly--the one
with a burden of financial, political, and moral worry on his spirit,
the other with an unconquerable determination not to be worsted even in
defeat.

"Governor," concluded Cowperwood, in the most genial, contented,
undisturbed voice, "you will live to see another legislature pass and
another governor sign some such bill.  It will not be done this
session, apparently, but it will be done.  I am not through, because my
case is right and fair.  Just the same, after you have vetoed the bill,
come and see me, and I will loan you that one hundred thousand if you
want it."

Cowperwood went out.  Swanson vetoed the bill.  It is on record that
subsequently he borrowed one hundred thousand dollars from Cowperwood
to stay him from ruin.




Chapter LVI

The Ordeal of Berenice


At the news that Swanson had refused to sign the bill and that the
legislature lacked sufficient courage to pass it over his veto both
Schryhart and Hand literally rubbed their hands in comfortable
satisfaction.

"Well, Hosmer," said Schryhart the next day, when they met at their
favorite club--the Union League--"it looks as though we were making
some little progress, after all, doesn't it? Our friend didn't succeed
in turning that little trick, did he?"

He beamed almost ecstatically upon his solid companion.

"Not this time.  I wonder what move he will decide to make next."

"I don't see very well what it can be.  He knows now that he can't get
his franchises without a compromise that will eat into his profits, and
if that happens he can't sell his Union Traction stock.  This
legislative scheme of his must have cost him all of three hundred
thousand dollars, and what has he to show for it? The new legislature,
unless I'm greatly mistaken, will be afraid to touch anything in
connection with him.  It's hardly likely that any of the Springfield
politicians will want to draw the fire of the newspapers again."

Schryhart felt very powerful, imposing--sleek, indeed--now that his
theory of newspaper publicity as a cure was apparently beginning to
work.  Hand, more saturnine, more responsive to the uncertainty of
things mundane--the shifty undercurrents that are perpetually sapping
and mining below--was agreeable, but not sure.  Perhaps so.

In regard to his Eastern life during this interlude, Cowperwood had
been becoming more and more keenly alive to the futility of the attempt
to effect a social rescue for Aileen.  "What was the use?" he often
asked himself, as he contemplated her movements, thoughts, plans, as
contrasted with the natural efficiency, taste, grace, and subtlety of a
woman like Berenice.  He felt that the latter could, if she would,
smooth over in an adroit way all the silly social antagonisms which
were now afflicting him.  It was a woman's game, he frequently told
himself, and would never be adjusted till he had the woman.

Simultaneously Aileen, looking at the situation from her own point of
view and nonplussed by the ineffectiveness of mere wealth when not
combined with a certain social something which she did not appear to
have, was, nevertheless, unwilling to surrender her dream.  What was
it, she asked herself over and over, that made this great difference
between women and women? The question contained its own answer, but she
did not know that.  She was still good-looking--very--and an adept in
self-ornamentation, after her manner and taste.  So great had been the
newspaper palaver regarding the arrival of a new multimillionaire from
the West and the palace he was erecting that even tradesmen, clerks,
and hall-boys knew of her.  Almost invariably, when called upon to
state her name in such quarters, she was greeted by a slight start of
recognition, a swift glance of examination, whispers, even open
comment.  That was something.  Yet how much more, and how different
were those rarefied reaches of social supremacy to which popular repute
bears scarcely any relationship at all.  How different, indeed? From
what Cowperwood had said in Chicago she had fancied that when they took
up their formal abode in New York he would make an attempt to
straighten out his life somewhat, to modify the number of his
indifferent amours and to present an illusion of solidarity and unity.
Yet, now that they had actually arrived, she noticed that he was more
concerned with his heightened political and financial complications in
Illinois and with his art-collection than he was with what might happen
to be going on in the new home or what could be made to happen there.
As in the days of old, she was constantly puzzled by his persistent
evenings out and his sudden appearances and disappearances.  Yet,
determine as she might, rage secretly or openly as she would, she could
not cure herself of the infection of Cowperwood, the lure that
surrounded and substantiated a mind and spirit far greater than any
other she had ever known.  Neither honor, virtue, consistent charity,
nor sympathy was there, but only a gay, foamy, unterrified sufficiency
and a creative, constructive sense of beauty that, like sunlit spray,
glowing with all the irradiative glories of the morning, danced and
fled, spun driftwise over a heavy sea of circumstance.  Life, however
dark and somber, could never apparently cloud his soul.  Brooding and
idling in the wonder palace of his construction, Aileen could see what
he was like.  The silver fountain in the court of orchids, the
peach-like glow of the pink marble chamber, with its birds and flowers,
the serried brilliance of his amazing art-collections were all like
him, were really the color of his soul.  To think that after all she
was not the one to bind him to subjection, to hold him by golden yet
steely threads of fancy to the hem of her garment! To think that he
should no longer walk, a slave of his desire, behind the chariot of her
spiritual and physical superiority. Yet she could not give up.

By this time Cowperwood had managed through infinite tact and a stoic
disregard of his own aches and pains to re-establish at least a
temporary working arrangement with the Carter household.  To Mrs.
Carter he was still a Heaven-sent son of light.  Actually in a mournful
way she pleaded for Cowperwood, vouching for his disinterestedness and
long-standing generosity.  Berenice, on the other hand, was swept
between her craving for a great state for herself--luxury, power--and
her desire to conform to the current ethics and morals of life.
Cowperwood was married, and because of his attitude of affection for
her his money was tainted.  She had long speculated on his relation to
Aileen, the basis of their differences, had often wondered why neither
she nor her mother had ever been introduced.  What type of woman was
the second Mrs. Cowperwood? Beyond generalities Cowperwood had never
mentioned her.  Berenice actually thought to seek her out in some
inconspicuous way, but, as it chanced, one night her curiosity was
rewarded without effort.  She was at the opera with friends, and her
escort nudged her arm.

"Have you noticed Box 9--the lady in white satin with the green lace
shawl?"

"Yes." Berenice raised her glasses.

"Mrs. Frank Algernon Cowperwood, the wife of the Chicago millionaire.
They have just built that house at 68th Street.  He has part lease of
number 9, I believe."

Berenice almost started, but retained her composure, giving merely an
indifferent glance.  A little while after, she adjusted her glasses
carefully and studied Mrs. Cowperwood.  She noted curiously that
Aileen's hair was somewhat the color of her own--more carroty red.  She
studied her eyes, which were slightly ringed, her smooth cheeks and
full mouth, thickened somewhat by drinking and dissipation. Aileen was
good-looking, she thought--handsome in a material way, though so much
older than herself.  Was it merely age that was alienating Cowperwood,
or was it some deep-seated intellectual difference? Obviously Mrs.
Cowperwood was well over forty--a fact which did not give Berenice any
sense of satisfaction or of advantage.  She really did not care enough.
It did occur to her, however, that this woman whom she was observing
had probably given the best years of her life to Cowperwood--the
brilliant years of her girlhood.  And now he was tired of her! There
were small carefully powdered lines at the tails of Aileen's eyes and
at the corners of her mouth.  At the same time she seemed
preternaturally gay, kittenish, spoiled.  With her were two men--one a
well-known actor, sinisterly handsome, a man with a brutal, unclean
reputation, the other a young social pretender--both unknown to
Berenice.  Her knowledge was to come from her escort, a loquacious
youth, more or less versed, as it happened, in the gay life of the city.

"I hear that she is creating quite a stir in Bohemia," he observed. "If
she expects to enter society it's a poor way to begin, don't you think?"

"Do you know that she expects to?"

"All the usual signs are out--a box here, a house on Fifth Avenue."

This study of Aileen puzzled and disturbed Berenice a little.
Nevertheless, she felt immensely superior.  Her soul seemed to soar
over the plain Aileen inhabited.  The type of the latter's escorts
suggested error--a lack of social discrimination.  Because of the high
position he had succeeded in achieving Cowperwood was entitled, no
doubt, to be dissatisfied.  His wife had not kept pace with him, or,
rather, had not eluded him in his onward flight--had not run swiftly
before, like a winged victory.  Berenice reflected that if she were
dealing with such a man he should never know her truly--he should be
made to wonder and to doubt.  Lines of care and disappointment should
never mar her face.  She would scheme and dream and conceal and evade.
He should dance attendance, whoever he was.

Nevertheless, here she herself was, at twenty-two, unmarried, her
background insecure, the very ground on which she walked treacherous.
Braxmar knew, and Beales Chadsey, and Cowperwood.  At least three or
four of her acquaintances must have been at the Waldorf on that fatal
night.  How long would it be before others became aware? She tried
eluding her mother, Cowperwood, and the situation generally by freely
accepting more extended invitations and by trying to see whether there
was not some opening for her in the field of art. She thought of
painting and essayed several canvases which she took to dealers.  The
work was subtle, remote, fanciful--a snow scene with purple edges; a
thinking satyr, iron-like in his heaviness, brooding over a cloudy
valley; a lurking devil peering at a praying Marguerite; a Dutch
interior inspired by Mrs. Batjer, and various dancing figures.
Phlegmatic dealers of somber mien admitted some promise, but pointed
out the difficulty of sales. Beginners were numerous.  Art was long.
If she went on, of course....  Let them see other things.  She turned
her thoughts to dancing.

This art in its interpretative sense was just being introduced into
America, a certain Althea Baker having created a good deal of stir in
society by this means.  With the idea of duplicating or surpassing the
success of this woman Berenice conceived a dance series of her own.
One was to be "The Terror"--a nymph dancing in the spring woods, but
eventually pursued and terrorized by a faun; another, "The Peacock," a
fantasy illustrative of proud self-adulation; another, "The Vestal," a
study from Roman choric worship.  After spending considerable time at
Pocono evolving costumes, poses, and the like, Berenice finally hinted
at the plan to Mrs. Batjer, declaring that she would enjoy the artistic
outlet it would afford, and indicating at the same time that it might
provide the necessary solution of a problem of ways and means.

"Why, Bevy, how you talk!" commented Mrs. Batjer.  "And with your
possibilities.  Why don't you marry first, and do your dancing
afterward? You might compel a certain amount of attention that way."

"Because of hubby? How droll! Whom would you suggest that I marry at
once?"

"Oh, when it comes to that--" replied Mrs. Batjer, with a slight
reproachful lift in her voice, and thinking of Kilmer Duelma. "But
surely your need isn't so pressing.  If you were to take up
professional dancing I might have to cut you afterward--particularly if
any one else did."

She smiled the sweetest, most sensible smile.  Mrs. Batjer accompanied
her suggestions nearly always with a slight sniff and cough. Berenice
could see that the mere fact of this conversation made a slight
difference.  In Mrs. Batjer's world poverty was a dangerous topic.  The
mere odor of it suggested a kind of horror--perhaps the equivalent of
error or sin.  Others, Berenice now suspected, would take affright even
more swiftly.

Subsequent to this, however, she made one slight investigation of those
realms that govern professional theatrical engagements.  It was a most
disturbing experience.  The mere color and odor of the stuffy offices,
the gauche, material attendants, the impossible aspirants and
participants in this make-believe world! The crudeness! The effrontery!
The materiality! The sensuality! It came to her as a sickening breath
and for the moment frightened her.  What would become of refinement
there? What of delicacy? How could one rise and sustain an individual
dignity and control in such a world as this?

Cowperwood was now suggesting as a binding link that he should buy a
home for them in Park Avenue, where such social functions as would be
of advantage to Berenice and in some measure to himself as an
occasional guest might be indulged in.  Mrs. Carter, a fool of comfort,
was pleased to welcome this idea.  It promised to give her absolute
financial security for the future.

"I know how it is with you, Frank," she declared.  "I know you need
some place that you can call a home.  The whole difficulty will be with
Bevy.  Ever since that miserable puppy made those charges against me I
haven't been able to talk to her at all.  She doesn't seem to want to
do anything I suggest.  You have much more influence with her than I
have.  If you explain, it may be all right."

Instantly Cowperwood saw an opportunity.  Intensely pleased with this
confession of weakness on the part of the mother, he went to Berenice,
but by his usual method of indirect direction.

"You know, Bevy," he said, one afternoon when he found her alone, "I
have been wondering if it wouldn't be better if I bought a large house
for you and your mother here in New York, where you and she could do
entertaining on a large scale.  Since I can't spend my money on myself,
I might as well spend it on some one who would make an interesting use
of it.  You might include me as an uncle or father's cousin or
something of that sort," he added, lightly.

Berenice, who saw quite clearly the trap he was setting for her, was
nonplussed.  At the same time she could not help seeing that a house,
if it were beautifully furnished, would be an interesting asset.
People in society loved fixed, notable dwellings; she had observed
that.  What functions could not be held if only her mother's past were
not charged against her! That was the great difficulty.  It was almost
an Arabian situation, heightened by the glitter of gold.  And
Cowperwood was always so diplomatic.  He came forward with such a
bland, engaging smile.  His hands were so shapely and seeking.

"A house such as you speak of would enlarge the debt beyond payment, I
presume," she remarked, sardonically and with a sad, almost
contemptuous gesture.  Cowperwood realized how her piercing intellect
was following his shifty trail, and winced.  She must see that her fate
was in his hands, but oh! if she would only surrender, how swiftly
every dollar of his vast fortune should be piled humbly at her feet.
She should have her heart's desire, if money would buy it.  She could
say to him go, and he would go; come, and he would come.

"Berenice," he said, getting up, "I know what you think.  You fancy I
am trying to further my own interests in this way, but I'm not. I
wouldn't compromise you ultimately for all the wealth of India. I have
told you where I stand.  Every dollar that I have is yours to do with
as you choose on any basis that you may care to name. I have no future
outside of you, none except art.  I do not expect you to marry me.
Take all that I have.  Wipe society under your feet.  Don't think that
I will ever charge it up as a debt.  I won't.  I want you to hold your
own.  Just answer me one question; I won't ever ask another."

"Yes?"

"If I were single now, and you were not in love or married, would you
consider me at all?"

His eyes pleaded as never had they pleaded before.

She started, looked concerned, severe, then relaxed as suddenly. "Let
me see," she said, with a slight brightening of the eyes and a toss of
her head.  "That is a second cousin to a proposal, isn't it? You have
no right to make it.  You aren't single, and aren't likely to be.  Why
should I try to read the future?"

She walked indifferently out of the room, and Cowperwood stayed a
moment to think.  Obviously he had triumphed in a way.  She had not
taken great offense.  She must like him and would marry him if only...

Only Aileen.

And now he wished more definitely and forcefully than ever that he were
really and truly free.  He felt that if ever he wished to attain
Berenice he must persuade Aileen to divorce him.




Chapter LVII

Aileen's Last Card


It was not until some little time after they were established in the
new house that Aileen first came upon any evidence of the existence of
Berenice Fleming.  In a general way she assumed that there were
women--possibly some of whom she had known--Stephanie, Mrs. Hand,
Florence Cochrane, or later arrivals--yet so long as they were not
obtruded on her she permitted herself the semi-comforting thought that
things were not as bad as they might be.  So long, indeed, as
Cowperwood was genuinely promiscuous, so long as he trotted here and
there, not snared by any particular siren, she could not despair, for,
after all, she had ensnared him and held him deliciously--without
variation, she believed, for all of ten years--a feat which no other
woman had achieved before or after. Rita Sohlberg might have
succeeded--the beast! How she hated the thought of Rita! By this time,
however, Cowperwood was getting on in years.  The day must come when he
would be less keen for variability, or, at least, would think it no
longer worth while to change.  If only he did not find some one woman,
some Circe, who would bind and enslave him in these Later years as she
had herself done in his earlier ones all might yet be well.  At the
same time she lived in daily terror of a discovery which was soon to
follow.

She had gone out one day to pay a call on some one to whom Rhees Grier,
the Chicago sculptor, had given her an introduction. Crossing Central
Park in one of the new French machines which Cowperwood had purchased
for her indulgence, her glance wandered down a branch road to where
another automobile similar to her own was stalled.  It was early in the
afternoon, at which time Cowperwood was presumably engaged in Wall
Street.  Yet there he was, and with him two women, neither of whom, in
the speed of passing, could Aileen quite make out.  She had her car
halted and driven to within seeing-distance behind a clump of bushes.
A chauffeur whom she did not know was tinkering at a handsome machine,
while on the grass near by stood Cowperwood and a tall, slender girl
with red hair somewhat like Aileen's own.  Her expression was aloof,
poetic, rhapsodical.  Aileen could not analyze it, but it fixed her
attention completely.  In the tonneau sat an elderly lady, whom Aileen
at once assumed to be the girl's mother.  Who were they? What was
Cowperwood doing here in the Park at this hour? Where were they going?
With a horrible retch of envy she noted upon Cowperwood's face a smile
the like and import of which she well knew.  How often she had seen it
years and years before! Having escaped detection, she ordered her
chauffeur to follow the car, which soon started, at a safe distance.
She saw Cowperwood and the two ladies put down at one of the great
hotels, and followed them into the dining-room, where, from behind a
screen, after the most careful manoeuvering, she had an opportunity of
studying them at her leisure.  She drank in every detail of Berenice's
face--the delicately pointed chin, the clear, fixed blue eyes, the
straight, sensitive nose and tawny hair.  Calling the head waiter, she
inquired the names of the two women, and in return for a liberal tip
was informed at once.  "Mrs. Ira Carter, I believe, and her daughter,
Miss Fleming, Miss Berenice Fleming.  Mrs. Carter was Mrs. Fleming
once." Aileen followed them out eventually, and in her own car pursued
them to their door, into which Cowperwood also disappeared.  The next
day, by telephoning the apartment to make inquiry, she learned that
they actually lived there.  After a few days of brooding she employed a
detective, and learned that Cowperwood was a constant visitor at the
Carters', that the machine in which they rode was his maintained at a
separate garage, and that they were of society truly.  Aileen would
never have followed the clue so vigorously had it not been for the look
she had seen Cowperwood fix on the girl in the Park and in the
restaurant--an air of soul-hunger which could not be gainsaid.

Let no one ridicule the terrors of unrequited love.  Its tentacles are
cancerous, its grip is of icy death.  Sitting in her boudoir
immediately after these events, driving, walking, shopping, calling on
the few with whom she had managed to scrape an acquaintance, Aileen
thought morning, noon, and night of this new woman.  The pale, delicate
face haunted her.  What were those eyes, so remote in their gaze,
surveying? Love? Cowperwood? Yes! Yes! Gone in a flash, and
permanently, as it seemed to Aileen, was the value of this house, her
dream of a new social entrance.  And she had already suffered so much;
endured so much.  Cowperwood being absent for a fortnight, she moped in
her room, sighed, raged, and then began to drink.  Finally she sent for
an actor who had once paid attention to her in Chicago, and whom she
had later met here in the circle of the theaters.  She was not so much
burning with lust as determined in her drunken gloom that she would
have revenge.  For days there followed an orgy, in which wine,
bestiality, mutual recrimination, hatred, and despair were involved.
Sobering eventually, she wondered what Cowperwood would think of her
now if he knew this? Could he ever love her any more? Could he even
tolerate her? But what did he care? It served him right, the dog! She
would show him, she would wreck his dream, she would make her own life
a scandal, and his too! She would shame him before all the world. He
should never have a divorce! He should never be able to marry a girl
like that and leave her alone--never, never, never! When Cowperwood
returned she snarled at him without vouchsafing an explanation.

He suspected at once that she had been spying upon his manoeuvers.
Moreover, he did not fail to notice her heavy eyes, superheated cheeks,
and sickly breath.  Obviously she had abandoned her dream of a social
victory of some kind, and was entering on a career of what--debauchery?
Since coming to New York she had failed utterly, he thought, to make
any single intelligent move toward her social rehabilitation.  The
banal realms of art and the stage, with which in his absence or neglect
she had trifled with here, as she had done in Chicago, were worse than
useless; they were destructive. He must have a long talk with her one
of these days, must confess frankly to his passion for Berenice, and
appeal to her sympathy and good sense.   What scenes would follow! Yet
she might succumb, at that.  Despair, pride, disgust might move her.
Besides, he could now bestow upon her a very large fortune.  She could
go to Europe or remain here and live in luxury.  He would always remain
friendly with her--helpful, advisory--if she would permit it.

The conversation which eventually followed on this topic was of such
stuff as dreams are made of.  It sounded hollow and unnatural within
the walls where it took place.  Consider the great house in upper Fifth
Avenue, its magnificent chambers aglow, of a stormy Sunday night.
Cowperwood was lingering in the city at this time, busy with a group of
Eastern financiers who were influencing his contest in the state
legislature of Illinois.  Aileen was momentarily consoled by the
thought that for him perhaps love might, after all, be a thing apart--a
thing no longer vital and soul-controlling. To-night he was sitting in
the court of orchids, reading a book--the diary of Cellini, which some
one had recommended to him--stopping to think now and then of things in
Chicago or Springfield, or to make a note.  Outside the rain was
splashing in torrents on the electric-lighted asphalt of Fifth
Avenue--the Park opposite a Corot-like shadow.  Aileen was in the
music-room strumming indifferently.  She was thinking of times
past--Lynde, from whom she had not heard in half a year; Watson Skeet,
the sculptor, who was also out of her ken at present.  When Cowperwood
was in the city and in the house she was accustomed from habit to
remain indoors or near.  So great is the influence of past customs of
devotion that they linger long past the hour when the act ceases to
become valid.

"What an awful night!" she observed once, strolling to a window to peer
out from behind a brocaded valance.

"It is bad, isn't it?" replied Cowperwood, as she returned.  "Hadn't
you thought of going anywhere this evening?"

"No--oh no," replied Aileen, indifferently.  She rose restlessly from
the piano, and strolled on into the great picture-gallery. Stopping
before one of Raphael Sanzio's Holy Families, only recently hung, she
paused to contemplate the serene face--medieval, Madonnaesque, Italian.

The lady seemed fragile, colorless, spineless--without life.  Were
there such women? Why did artists paint them? Yet the little Christ was
sweet.  Art bored Aileen unless others were enthusiastic.  She craved
only the fanfare of the living--not painted resemblances. She returned
to the music-room, to the court of orchids, and was just about to go
up-stairs to prepare herself a drink and read a novel when Cowperwood
observed:

"You're bored, aren't you?"

"Oh no; I'm used to lonely evenings," she replied, quietly and without
any attempt at sarcasm.

Relentless as he was in hewing life to his theory--hammering substance
to the form of his thought--yet he was tender, too, in the manner of a
rainbow dancing over an abyss.  For the moment he wanted to say, "Poor
girlie, you do have a hard time, don't you, with me?" but he reflected
instantly how such a remark would be received.  He meditated, holding
his book in his hand above his knee, looking at the purling water that
flowed and flowed in sprinkling showers over the sportive marble
figures of mermaids, a Triton, and nymphs astride of fishes.

"You're really not happy in this state, any more, are you?" he
inquired.  "Would you feel any more comfortable if I stayed away
entirely?"

His mind had turned of a sudden to the one problem that was fretting
him and to the opportunities of this hour.

"You would," she replied, for her boredom merely concealed her
unhappiness in no longer being able to command in the least his
interest or his sentiment.

"Why do you say that in just that way?" he asked.

"Because I know you would.  I know why you ask.  You know well enough
that it isn't anything I want to do that is concerned. It's what you
want to do.  You'd like to turn me off like an old horse now that you
are tired of me, and so you ask whether I would feel any more
comfortable.  What a liar you are, Frank! How really shifty you are! I
don't wonder you're a multimillionaire.  If you could live long enough
you would eat up the whole world.  Don't you think for one moment that
I don't know of Berenice Fleming here in New York, and how you're
dancing attendance on her--because I do.  I know how you have been
hanging about her for months and months--ever since we have been here,
and for long before.  You think she's wonderful now because she's young
and in society. I've seen you in the Waldorf and in the Park hanging on
her every word, looking at her with adoring eyes.  What a fool you are,
to be so big a man! Every little snip, if she has pink cheeks and a
doll's face, can wind you right around her finger.  Rita Sohlberg did
it; Stephanie Platow did it; Florence Cochrane did it; Cecily
Haguenin--and Heaven knows how many more that I never heard of. I
suppose Mrs. Hand still lives with you in Chicago--the cheap strumpet!
Now it's Berenice Fleming and her frump of a mother. From all I can
learn you haven't been able to get her yet--because her mother's too
shrewd, perhaps--but you probably will in the end.  It isn't you so
much as your money that they're after.  Pah! Well, I'm unhappy enough,
but it isn't anything you can remedy any more.  Whatever you could do
to make me unhappy you have done, and now you talk of my being happier
away from you.  Clever boy, you! I know you the way I know my ten
fingers.  You don't deceive me at any time in any way any more.  I
can't do anything about it.  I can't stop you from making a fool of
yourself with every woman you meet, and having people talk from one end
of the country to the other.  Why, for a woman to be seen with you is
enough to fix her reputation forever.  Right now all Broadway knows
you're running after Berenice Fleming.  Her name will soon be as sweet
as those of the others you've had.  She might as well give herself to
you. If she ever had a decent reputation it's gone by now, you can
depend upon that."

These remarks irr