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   Chapter 37 No.37

The Web of Life By Robert Herrick Characters: 6731

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03

Miss Hitchcock's wedding was extremely quiet. It was regarded by all but the two persons immediately concerned as an eccentric mistake. Even Colonel Hitchcock, to whom Louise was almost infallible, could not trust himself to discuss with her, her decision to marry Dr. Sommers. It was all a sign of the irrational drift of things that seemed to thwart his energetic, honorable life. Even Sommers's attitude in the frank talk the two men had about the marriage offended the old merchant. Sommers had met his distant references to money matters by saying bluntly that he and Louise had decided it would be best for them not to be the beneficiaries of Colonel Hitchcock's wealth to any large extent. He wished it distinctly understood that little was to be done for them now, or in the future by bequest. Louise had agreed with him that for many reasons their lives would be happier without the expectation of unearned wealth. He did not explain that one potent reason for their decision in this matter was the hope they had that Colonel Hitchcock would realize the futility of leaving any considerable sum of money to Parker, and would finally place his money where it could be useful to the community in which he had earned it. Colonel Hitchcock rather resented the doctor's independence, and, at the same time, disliked the direct reference to his fortune. Those matters arranged themselves discreetly in families, and if Louise had children, why….

It did not take Louise and Sommers long, however, to convince Colonel Hitchcock that they were absolutely sincere in their decision, and to interest him in methods of returning his wealth, at his death, to the world. As the months wore on, and Sommers settled into the peaceful routine of Dr. Knowles's mediocre practice, Colonel Hitchcock revised, to a certain extent, his judgment of the marriage. It must always remain a mystery to him, however, that the able young surgeon neglected the brilliant opportunities he had on coming to Chicago, and had, apparently, thrown away four years of his life. Probably he attributed this mistake to the young doctor's ignorance of the world, due to the regrettable fact that Dr. Isaac Sommers had remained in Marion, Ohio, instead of courting cosmopolitan experiences in Chicago. When his grandchild came, he saw that Louise was entirely happy, and he was content. Neither Louise nor Sommers looked back into the past, or troubled themselves about the future. The practice which Dr. Knowles had left, if not lucrative, was sufficiently large and varied to satisfy Sommers.

Brome Porter had transferred all his interests to New York. He had recouped himself by selling "Rag" short before it was really launched and by some other clever strokes of stock manipulation, and had undertaken at length the much-needed trip to Carlsbad. The suspicion that Porter had won back the money he owed to Colonel Hitchcock by a trick upon the small fry of speculators, such as Webber, had its influence in the feeling which Sommers and his wife had about the Hitchcock money. The last move of the "operator" had made something of a scandal in Chicago, for many of Porter's friends and acquaintances lost heavily in "Rag," and felt sore because "they had been left on the outside." If Porter was not in good odor in Chicago, Carson's name was anathema, not only to a host of little specu

lators, who had followed this ingenious promoter's star, but to substantial men of wealth as well. After the first flush of optimism, people began to examine Carson's specialties, and found them very rotten. Carson, and those who were near him in these companies, it turned out, had got their holdings at low figures and made money when those not equally favored lost. When "Rag" went to pieces, it was rumored that Carson had been caught in his own leaky tub; but, later, it turned out that Carson and Porter had had an understanding in this affair. "Rag" was never meant to "go." So Carson betook himself to Europe, and the great Sargent was removed from public exhibition to a storage warehouse. In some future generation, on the disintegration of the Carson family, the portrait may come back to the world again, labelled "A Soldier of Fortune."

Sommers met Dr. Lindsay at rare intervals; the great specialist treated him with a nice discrimination of values, adjusting the contempt he felt for the successor of Dr. Knowles to the respect he felt for the son-in-law of Colonel Alexander Hitchcock. Report had it that Lindsay had been forced to return to office practice after virtually retiring from the profession. And, in the fickle world of Chicago, the offices on the top floor of the Athenian Building did not "take in" what they once had gathered. For this as well as other reasons Sommers was not surprised when his wife opened Miss Laura Lindsay's wedding cards one morning, and read out the name of the intended bridegroom, Mr. Samuel Thompson Dresser.

"Shall we go?" Louise asked, scrutinizing the cards with feminine keenness.

"I have reasons for not going," Sommers answered hesitatingly. "But you used to know Laura Lindsay, and-"

"I think she will not miss me," Louise answered quickly. "It was queer, though," she continued, idly waving the invitation to and fro, "that a girl like Laura should marry a man like Dresser."

"Did I ever hear you say that it was to be expected that Miss Blank should marry Mr. Blank?" her husband asked. "In this case I think it is beautifully appropriate."

"But he was not exactly in our set, and you once said he was given to theories, was turned out of a place on account of the ideas he held, didn't you?"

"He has seen the folly of those ideas," Sommers responded dryly. "He has become a bond broker, and has a neat little office in the building where White and Einstein had their trade."

"Well," Mrs. Sommers insisted, "Laura never was what you might call serious."

"She has taught him a good deal, though, I have no doubt."

Mrs. Sommers looked puzzled.

"As other excellent women have taught other men," the doctor added, with a laugh.

"What shall we send them?" his wife asked, disregarding the flippancy of the remark.

"A handsomely bound copy of the 'Report of the Commission to Examine into the Chicago Strike, June-July, 1894.'"

As Louise failed to see the point, he remarked:

"I think I hear your son talking about something more important. Shall we go upstairs to see him? I must be off in a few minutes."

They watched the little child without speaking, while he cautiously manipulated his arms and interested himself in the puzzle of his own anatomy.

"What tremendous faith!" Sommers exclaimed at last.

"In what?"

"In the good of it all-in life."

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