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   Chapter 2 THE PATH OF PHILANTHROPY

A Modern Chronicle -- Volume 05 By Winston Churchill Characters: 33039

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:03


Mrs. Cecil Grainger may safely have been called a Personality, and one of the proofs of this was that she haunted people who had never seen her. Honora might have looked at her, it is true, on the memorable night of the dinner with Mrs. Holt and Trixton Brent; but-for sufficiently obvious reasons-refrained. It would be an exaggeration to say that Mrs. Grainger became an obsession with our heroine; yet it cannot be denied that, since Honora's arrival at Quicksands, this lady had, in increasing degrees, been the subject of her speculations. The threads of Mrs. Grainger's influence were so ramified, indeed, as to be found in Mrs. Dallam, who declared she was the rudest woman in New York and yet had copied her brougham; in Mr. Cuthbert and Trixton Brent; in Mrs. Kame; in Mrs. Holt, who proclaimed her a tower of strength in charities; and lastly in Mr. Grainger himself, who, although he did not spend much time in his wife's company, had for her an admiration that amounted to awe.

Elizabeth Grainger, who was at once modern and tenaciously conservative, might have been likened to some of the Roman matrons of the aristocracy in the last years of the Republic. Her family, the Pendletons, had traditions: so, for that matter, had the Graingers. But Senator Pendleton, antique homo virtute et fide, had been a Roman of the old school who would have preferred exile after the battle of Philippi; and who, could he have foreseen modern New York and modern finance, would have been more content to die when he did. He had lived in Washington Square. His daughter inherited his executive ability, many of his prejudices (as they would now be called), and his habit of regarding favourable impressions with profound suspicion. She had never known the necessity of making friends: hers she had inherited, and for some reason specially decreed, they were better than those of less fortunate people.

Mrs. Grainger was very tall. And Sargent, in his portrait of her, had caught with admirable art the indefinable, yet partly supercilious and scornful smile with which she looked down upon the world about her. She possessed the rare gift of combining conventionality with personal distinction in her dress. Her hair was almost Titian red in colour, and her face (on the authority of Mr. Reginald Farwell) was at once modern and Italian Renaissance. Not the languid, amorous Renaissance, but the lady of decision who chose, and did not wait to be chosen. Her eyes had all the colours of the tapaz, and her regard was so baffling as to arouse intense antagonism in those who were not her friends.

To Honora, groping about for a better and a higher life, the path of philanthropy had more than once suggested itself. And on the day of Peter's visit to New York, when she had lunched with Mrs. Holt, she had signified her willingness (now that she had come to live in town) to join the Working Girls' Relief Society. Mrs. Holt, needless to say, was overjoyed: they were to have a meeting at her house in the near future which Honora must not fail to attend. It was not, however, without a feeling of trepidation natural to a stranger that she made her way to that meeting when the afternoon arrived.

No sooner was she seated in Mrs. Holt's drawing-room-filled with camp-chairs for the occasion-than she found herself listening breathlessly to a recital of personal experiences by a young woman who worked in a bindery on the East side. Honora's heart was soft: her sympathies, as we know, easily aroused. And after the young woman had told with great simplicity and earnestness of the struggle to support herself and lead an honest and self-respecting existence, it seemed to Honora that at last she had opened the book of life at the proper page.

Afterwards there were questions, and a report by Miss Harber, a middle-aged lady with glasses who was the secretary. Honora looked around her. The membership of the Society, judging by those present, was surely of a sufficiently heterogeneous character to satisfy even the catholic tastes of her hostess. There were elderly ladies, some benevolent and some formidable, some bedecked and others unadorned; there were earnest-looking younger women, to whom dress was evidently a secondary consideration; and there was a sprinkling of others, perfectly gowned, several of whom were gathered in an opposite corner. Honora's eyes, as the reading of the report progressed, were drawn by a continual and resistless attraction to this group; or rather to the face of one of the women in it, which seemed to stare out at her like the eat in the tree of an old-fashioned picture puzzle, or the lineaments of George Washington among a mass of boulders on a cliff. Once one has discovered it, one can see nothing else. In vain Honora dropped her eyes; some strange fascination compelled her to raise them again until they met those of the other woman: Did their glances meet? She could never quite be sure, so disconcerting were the lights in that regard-lights, seemingly, of laughter and mockery.

Some instinct informed Honora that the woman was Mrs. Grainger, and immediately the scene in the Holland House dining-room came back to her. Never until now had she felt the full horror of its comedy. And then, as though to fill the cup of humiliation, came the thought of Cecil Grainger's call. She longed, in an agony with which sensitive natures will sympathize, for the reading to be over.

The last paragraph of the report contained tributes to Mrs. Joshua Holt and Mrs. Cecil Grainger for the work each had done during the year, and amidst enthusiastic hand-clapping the formal part of the meeting came to an end. The servants were entering with tea as Honora made her way towards the door, where she was stopped by Susan Holt.

"My dear Honora," cried Mrs. Holt, who had hurried after her daughter, "you're not going?"

Honora suddenly found herself without an excuse.

"I really ought to, Mrs. Holt. I've had such a good time-and I've been so interested. I never realized that such things occurred. And I've got one of the reports, which I intend to read over again."

"But my dear," protested Mrs. Holt, "you must meet some of the members of the Society. Bessie!"

Mrs. Grainger, indeed-for Honora had been right in her surmise-was standing within ear-shot of this conversation. And Honora, who knew she was there, could not help feeling that she took a rather redoubtable interest in it. At Mrs. Holt's words she turned.

"Bessie, I've found a new recruit-one that I can answer for, Mrs.

Spence, whom I spoke to you about."

Mrs. Grainger bestowed upon Honora her enigmatic smile.

"Oh," she declared, "I've heard of Mrs. Spence from other sources, and

I've seen her, too."

Honora grew a fiery red. There was obviously no answer to such a remark, which seemed the quintessence of rudeness. But Mrs. Grainger continued to smile, and to stare at her with the air of trying to solve a riddle.

"I'm coming to see you, if I may," she said. "I've been intending to since I've been in town, but I'm always so busy that I don't get time to do the things I want to do."

An announcement that fairly took away Honora's breath. She managed to express her appreciation of Mrs. Grainger's intention, and presently found herself walking rapidly up-town through swirling snow, somewhat dazed by the events of the afternoon. And these, by the way, were not yet finished. As she reached her own door, a voice vaguely familiar called her name.

"Honora!"

She turned. The slim, tall figure of a young woman descended from a carriage and crossed the pavement, and in the soft light of the vestibule she recognized Ethel Wing.

"I'm so glad I caught you," said that young lady when they entered the drawing-room. And she gazed at her school friend. The colour glowed in Honora's cheeks, but health alone could not account for the sparkle in her eyes. "Why, you look radiant. You are more beautiful than you were at Sutcliffe. Is it marriage?"

Honora laughed happily, and they sat down side by side on the lounge behind the tea table.

"I heard you'd married," said Ethel, "but I didn't know what had become of you until the other day. Jim never tells me anything. It appears that he's seen something of you. But it wasn't from Jim that I heard about you first. You'd never guess who told me you were here."

"Who?" asked Honora, curiously.

"Mr. Erwin."

"Peter Erwin!"

"I'm perfectly shameless," proclaimed Ethel Wing. "I've lost my heart to him, and I don't care who knows it. Why in the world didn't you marry him?"

"But-where did you see him?" Honora demanded as soon as she could command herself sufficiently to speak. Her voice must have sounded odd. Ethel did not appear to notice that.

"He lunched with us one day when father had gout. Didn't he tell you about it? He said he was coming to see you that afternoon."

"Yes-he came. But he didn't mention being at lunch at your house."

"I'm sure that was like him," declared her friend. And for the first time in her life Honora experienced a twinge of that world-old ailment -jealousy. How did Ethel know what was like him? "I made father give him up for a little while after lunch, and he talked about you the whole time. But he was most interesting at the table," continued Ethel, sublimely unconscious of the lack of compliment in the comparison; "as Jim would say, he fairly wiped up the ground with father, and it isn't an easy thing to do."

"Wiped up the ground with Mr. Wing!" Honora repeated.

"Oh, in a delightfully quiet, humorous way. That's what made it so effective. I couldn't understand all of it; but I grasped enough to enjoy it hugely. Father's so used to bullying people that it's become second nature with him. I've seen him lay down the law to some of the biggest lawyers in New York, and they took it like little lambs. He caught a Tartar in Mr. Erwin. I didn't dare to laugh, but I wanted to."

"What was the discussion about?" asked Honora.

"I'm not sure that I can give you a very clear idea of it," said Ethel. "Generally speaking, it was about modern trust methods, and what a self-respecting lawyer would do and what he wouldn't. Father took the ground that the laws weren't logical, and that they were different and conflicting, anyway, in different States. He said they impeded the natural development of business, and that it was justifiable for the great legal brains of the country to devise means by which these laws could be eluded. He didn't quite say that, but he meant it, and he honestly believes it. The manner in which Mr. Erwin refuted it was a revelation to me. I've been thinking about it since. You see, I'd never heard that side of the argument. Mr. Erwin said, in the nicest way possible, but very firmly, that a lawyer who hired himself out to enable one man to take advantage of another prostituted his talents: that the brains of the legal profession were out of politics in these days, and that it was almost impossible for the men in the legislatures to frame laws that couldn't be evaded by clever and unscrupulous devices. He cited ever so many cases . . . "

Ethel's voice became indistinct, as though some one had shut a door in front of it. Honora was trembling on the brink of a discovery: holding herself back from it, as one who has climbed a fair mountain recoils from the lip of an unsuspected crater at sight of the lazy, sulphurous fumes. All the years of her marriage, ever since she had first heard his name, the stature of James Wing had been insensibly growing, and the vastness of his empire gradually disclosed. She had lived in that empire: in it his word had stood for authority, his genius had been worshipped, his decrees had been absolute.

She had met him once, in Howard's office, when he had greeted her gruffly, and the memory of his rugged features and small red eyes, like live coals, had remained. And she saw now the drama that had taken place before Ethel's eyes. The capitalist, overbearing, tyrannical, hearing a few, simple truths in his own house from Peter-her Peter. And she recalled her husband's account of his talk with James Wing. Peter had refused to sell himself. Had Howard? Many times during the days that followed she summoned her courage to ask her husband that question, and kept silence. She did not wish to know.

"I don't want to seem disloyal to papa," Ethel was saying. "He is under great responsibilities to other people, to stockholders; and he must get things done. But oh, Honora, I'm so tired of money, money, money and its standards, and the things people are willing to do for it. I've seen too much."

Honora looked at her friend, and believed her. One glance at the girl's tired eyes-a weariness somehow enhanced-in effect by the gold sheen of her hair-confirmed the truth of her words.

"You've changed, Ethel, since Sutcliffe," she said.

"Yes, I've changed," said Ethel Wing, and the weariness was in her voice, too. "I've had too much, Honora. Life was all glitter, like a Christmas tree, when I left Sutcliffe. I had no heart. I'm not at all sure that I have one now. I've known all kinds of people-except the right kind. And if I were to tell you some of the things that have happened to me in five years you wouldn't believe them. Money has been at the bottom of it all,-it ruined my brother, and it has ruined me. And then, the other day, I beheld a man whose standards simply take no account of money, a man who holds something else higher. I-I had been groping lately, and then I seemed to see clear for the first time in my life. But I'm afraid it comes too late."

Honora took her friend's hand in her own and pressed it.

"I don't know why I'm telling you all this," said Ethel: "It seems to-day as though I had always known you, and yet we weren't particularly intimate at school. I suppose I'm inclined to be oversuspicious. Heaven knows I've had enough to make me so. But I always thought that you were a little-ambitious. You'll forgive my frankness, Honora. I don't think you're at all so, now." She glanced at Honora suddenly. "Perhaps you've changed, too," she said.

Honora nodded.

"I think I'm changing all the time," she replied.

After a moment's silence, Ethel Wing pursued her own train of thought.

"Curiously enough when he-when Mr. Erwin spoke of you I seemed to get a very different idea of you than the one I had always had. I had to go out of town, but I made up my mind I'd come to see you as soon as I got back, and ask you to tell me something about him."

"What shall I tell you?" asked Honora. "He is what you think he is, and more."

"Tell me something of his early life," said Ethel Wing.

…………………

There is a famous river in the western part of our country that disappears into a canon, the walls of which are some thousands of feet high, and the bottom so narrow that the confined waters roar through it at breakneck speed. Sometimes they disappear entirely under the rock, to emerge again below more furiously than ever. From the river-bed can be seen, far, far above, a blue ribbon of sky. Once upon a time, not long ago, two heroes in the service of the government of the United States, whose names should be graven in the immortal rock and whose story read wherever the language is spoken, made the journey through this canon and came out alive. That journey once started, there could be no turning back. Down and down they were buffeted by the rushing waters, over the falls and through the tunnels, with time to think only of that which would save them from immediate death, until they emerged into the sunlight of the plain below.

All of which by way of parallel. For our own chronicle, hitherto leisurely enough, is coming to its canon-perhaps even now begins to feel the pressure of the shelving sides. And if our heroine be somewhat rudely tossed from one boulder to another, if we fail wholly to understand her emotions and her acts, we must blame the canon. She had, indeed, little time to think.

One evening, three weeks or so after the conversation with Ethel Wing just related, Honora's husband entered her room as her maid was giving the finishing touches to her toilet.

"You're not going to wear that dress!" he exclaimed.

"Why not?" she asked, without turning from the mirror.

He lighted a cigarette.

"I thought you'd put on something handsome-to go to the Graingers'. And where are your jewels? You'll find the women there load

ed with 'em."

"One string of pearls is all I care to wear," said Honora-a reply with which he was fain to be content until they were in the carriage, when she added: "Howard, I must ask you as a favour not to talk that way before the servants."

"What way?" he demanded.

"Oh," she exclaimed, "if you don't know I suppose it is impossible to explain. You wouldn't understand."

"I understand one thing, Honora, that you're too confoundedly clever for me," he declared.

Honora did not reply. For at that moment they drew up at a carpet stretched across the pavement.

Unlike the mansions of vast and imposing facades that were beginning everywhere to catch the eye on Fifth Avenue, and that followed mostly the continental styles of architecture, the house of the Cecil Graingers had a substantial, "middle of-the-eighties" appearance. It stood on a corner, with a high iron fence protecting the area around it. Within, it gave one an idea of space that the exterior strangely belied; and it was furnished, not in a French, but in what might be called a comfortably English, manner. It was filled, Honora saw, with handsome and priceless things which did not immediately and aggressively strike the eye, but which somehow gave the impression of having always been there. What struck her, as she sat in the little withdrawing room while the maid removed her overshoes, was the note of permanence.

Some of those who were present at Mrs. Grainger's that evening remember her entrance into the drawing-room. Her gown, the colour of a rose-tinted cloud, set off the exceeding whiteness of her neck and arms and vied with the crimson in her cheeks, and the single glistening string of pearls about the slender column of her neck served as a contrast to the shadowy masses of her hair. Mr. Reginald Farwell, who was there, afterwards declared that she seemed to have stepped out of the gentle landscape of an old painting. She stood, indeed, hesitating for a moment in the doorway, her eyes softly alight, in the very pose of expectancy that such a picture suggested.

Honora herself was almost frightened by a sense of augury, of triumph, as she went forward to greet her hostess. Conversation, for the moment, had stopped. Cecil Grainger, with the air of one who had pulled aside the curtain and revealed this vision of beauty and innocence, crossed the room to welcome her. And Mrs. Grainger herself was not a little surprised; she was not a dramatic person, and it was not often that her drawing-room was the scene of even a mild sensation. No entrance could have been at once so startling and so unexceptionable as Honora's.

"I was sorry not to find you when I called," she said. "I was sorry, too," replied Mrs. Grainger, regarding her with an interest that was undisguised, and a little embarrassing. "I'm scarcely ever at home, except when I'm with the children. Do you know these people?"

"I'm not sure," said Honora, "but-I must introduce my husband to you."

"How d'ye do!" said Mr. Grainger, blinking at her when this ceremony was accomplished. "I'm awfully glad to see you, Mrs. Spence, upon my word."

Honora could not doubt it. But he had little time to express his joy, because of the appearance of his wife at Honora's elbow with a tall man she had summoned from a corner.

"Before we go to dinner I must introduce my cousin, Mr. Chiltern-he is to have the pleasure of taking you out," she said.

His name was in the class of those vaguely familiar: vaguely familiar, too, was his face. An extraordinary face, Honora thought, glancing at it as she took his arm, although she was struck by something less tangible than the unusual features. He might have belonged to any nationality within the limits of the Caucasian race. His short, kinky, black hair suggested great virility, an effect intensified by a strongly bridged nose, sinewy hands, and bushy eyebrows. But the intangible distinction was in the eyes that looked out from under these brows the glimpse she had of them as he bowed to her gravely, might be likened to the hasty reading of a chance page in a forbidden book. Her attention was arrested, her curiosity aroused. She was on that evening, so to speak, exposed for and sensitive to impressions. She was on the threshold of the Alhambra.

"Hugh has such a faculty," complained Mr. Grainger, "of turning up at the wrong moment!"

Dinner was announced. She took Chiltern's arm, and they fell into file behind a lady in yellow, with a long train, who looked at her rather hard. It was Mrs. Freddy Maitland. Her glance shifted to Chiltern, and it seemed to Honora that she started a little.

"Hello, Hugh," she said indifferently, looking back over her shoulder; "have you turned up again?"

"Still sticking to the same side of your horse, I see." he replied, ignoring the question. "I told you you'd get lop-sided."

The deformity, if there were any, did not seem to trouble her.

"I'm going to Florida Wednesday. We want another man. Think it over."

"Sorry, but I've got something else to do," he said.

"The devil and idle hands," retorted Mrs. Maitland.

Honora was sure as she could be that Chiltern was angry, although he gave no visible sign of this. It was as though the current ran from his arm into hers.

"Have you been away?" she asked.

"It seems to me as though I had never been anywhere else," he answered, and he glanced curiously at the guests ranging about the great, flower-laden table. They sat down.

She was a little repelled, a little piqued; and a little relieved when the man on her other side spoke to her, and she recognized Mr. Reginald Farwell, the architect. The table capriciously swung that way. She did not feel prepared to talk to Mr. Chiltern. And before entering upon her explorations she was in need of a guide. She could have found none more charming, none more impersonal, none more subtly aware of her wants (which had once been his) than Mr. Farwell. With his hair parted with geometrical precision from the back of his collar to his forehead, with his silky mustache and eyes of soft hazel lights, he was all things to all men and women-within reason. He was an achievement that civilization had not hitherto produced, a combination of the Beaux Arts and the Jockey Club and American adaptability. He was of those upon whom labour leaves no trace.

There were preliminaries, mutually satisfactory. To see Mrs. Spence was never to forget her, but more delicately intimated. He remembered to have caught a glimpse of her at the Quicksands Club, and Mrs. Dallam nor her house were not mentioned by either. Honora could not have been in New York Long. No, it was her first winter, and she felt like a stranger. Would Mr. Farwell tell her who some of these people were? Nothing charmed Mr. Farwell so much as simplicity-when it was combined with personal attractions. He did not say so, but contrived to intimate the former.

"It's always difficult when one first comes to New York," he declared, "but it soon straightens itself out, and one is surprised at how few people there are, after all. We'll begin on Cecil's right. That's Mrs. George Grenfell."

"Oh, yes," said Honora, looking at a tall, thin woman of middle age who wore a tiara, and whose throat was covered with jewels. Honora did not imply that Mrs. Grenfell's name, and most of those that followed, were extremely familiar to her.

"In my opinion she's got the best garden in Newport, and she did most of it herself. Next to her, with the bald head, is Freddy Maitland. Next to him is Miss Godfrey. She's a little eccentric, but she can afford to be-the Godfreys for generations have done so much for the city. The man with the beard, next her, is John Laurens, the philanthropist. That pretty woman, who's just as nice as she looks, is Mrs. Victor Strange. She was Agatha Pendleton-Mrs. Grainger's cousin. And the gentleman with the pink face, whom she is entertaining-"

"Is my husband," said Honora, smiling. "I know something about him."

Mr. Farwell laughed. He admired her aplomb, and he did not himself change countenance. Indeed, the incident seemed rather to heighten the confidence between them. Honora was looking rather critically at Howard. It was a fact that his face did grow red at this stage of a dinner, and she wondered what Mrs. Strange found to talk to him about.

"And the woman on the other side of him?" she asked. "By the way, she has a red face, too."

"So she has," he replied amusedly. "That is Mrs. Littleton Pryor, the greatest living rebuke to the modern woman. Most of those jewels are inherited, but she has accustomed herself by long practice to carry them, as well as other burdens. She has eight children, and she's on every charity list. Her ancestors were the very roots of Manhattan. She looks like a Holbein-doesn't she?"

"And the extraordinary looking man on my right?" Honora asked. "I've got to talk to him presently."

"Chiltern!" he said. "Is it possible you haven't heard something about

Hugh Chiltern?"

"Is it such lamentable ignorance?" she asked.

"That depends upon one's point of view," he replied. "He's always been a sort of a-well, Viking," said Farwell.

Honora was struck by the appropriateness of the word.

"Viking-yes, he looks it exactly. I couldn't think. Tell me something about him."

"Well," he laughed, lowering his voice a little, here goes for a little rough and ready editing. One thing about Chiltern that's to be admired is that he's never cared a rap what people think. Of course, in a way, he never had to. His family own a section of the state, where they've had woollen mills for a hundred years, more or less. I believe Hugh Chiltern has sold 'em, or they've gone into a trust, or something, but the estate is still there, at Grenoble-one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. The General-this man's father-was a violent, dictatorial man. There is a story about his taking a battery at Gettysburg which is almost incredible. But he went back to Grenoble after the war, and became the typical public-spirited citizen; built up the mills which his own pioneer grandfather had founded, and all that. He married an aunt of Mrs. Grainger's,-one of those delicate, gentle women who never dare to call their soul their own."

"And then?" prompted Honora, with interest.

"It's only fair to Hugh," Farwell continued, "to take his early years into account. The General never understood him, and his mother died before he went off to school. Men who were at Harvard with him say he has a brilliant mind, but he spent most of his time across the Charles River breaking things. It was, probably, the energy the General got rid of at Gettysburg. What Hugh really needed was a war, and he had too much money. He has a curious literary streak, I'm told, and wrote a rather remarkable article-I've forgotten just where it appeared. He raced a yacht for a while in a dare-devil, fiendish way, as one might expect; and used to go off on cruises and not be heard of for months. At last he got engaged to Sally Harrington-Mrs. Freddy Maitland."

Honora glanced across the table.

"Exactly," said Mr. Farwell. "That was seven or eight years ago. Nobody ever knew the reason why she broke it-though it may have been pretty closely guessed. He went away, and nobody's laid eyes on him until he turned up to-night."

Honora's innocence was not too great to enable her to read between the lines of this biography which Reginald Farwell had related with such praiseworthy delicacy. It was a biography, she well knew, that, like a score of others, had been guarded as jealously as possible within the circle on the borders of which she now found herself. Mrs. Grainger with her charities, Mrs. Littleton Pryor with her good works, Miss Godfrey with her virtue-all swallowed it as gracefully as possible. Noblesse oblige. Honora had read French and English memoirs, and knew that history repeats itself. And a biography that is printed in black letter and illuminated in gold is attractive in spite of its contents. The contents, indeed, our heroine had not found uninteresting, and she turned now to the subject with a flutter of anticipation.

He looked at her intently, almost boldly, she thought, and before she dropped her eyes she had made a discovery. The thing stamped upon his face and burning in his eyes was not world-weariness, disappointment, despair. She could not tell what it was, yet; that it was none of these, she knew. It was not unrelated to experience, but transcended it. There was an element of purpose in it, of determination, almost-she would have believed-of hope. That Mrs. Maitland nor any other woman was a part of it she became equally sure. Nothing could have been more commonplace than the conversation which began, and yet it held for her, between the lines as in the biography, the thrill of interest. She was a woman, and embarked on a voyage of discovery.

"Do you live in New York?" he asked.

"Yes," said Honora, "since this autumn."

"I've been away a good many years," he said, in explanation of his question. "I haven't quite got my bearings. I can't tell you how queerly this sort of thing affects me."

"You mean civilization?" she hazarded.

"Yes. And yet I've come back to it."

Of course she did not ask him why. Their talk was like the starting of a heavy train-a series of jerks; and yet both were aware of an irresistible forward traction. She had not recovered from her surprise in finding herself already so far in his confidence.

"And the time will come, I suppose, when you'll long to get away again."

"No," he said, "I've come back to stay. It's taken me a long while to learn it, but there's only one place for a man, and that's his own country."

Her eyes lighted.

"There's always so much for a man to do."

"What would you do?" he asked curiously.

She considered this.

"If you had asked me that question two years ago-even a year ago-I should have given you a different answer. It's taken me some time to learn it, too, you see, and I'm not a man. I once thought I should have liked to have been a king amongst money changers, and own railroad and steamship lines, and dominate men by sheer power."

He was clearly interested.

"And now?" he prompted her.

She laughed a little, to relieve the tension.

"Well-I've found out that there are some men that kind of power can't control-the best kind. And I've found out that that isn't the best kind of power. It seems to be a brutal, barbarous cunning power now that I've seen it at close range. There's another kind that springs from a man himself, that speaks through his works and acts, that influences first those around him, and then his community, convincing people of their own folly, and that finally spreads in ever widening circles to those whom he cannot see, and never will see."

She paused, breathing deeply, a little frightened at her own eloquence. Something told her that she was not only addressing her own soul-she was speaking to his.

"I'm afraid you'll think I'm preaching," she apologized.

"No," he said impatiently, "no."

"To answer your question, then, if I were a man of independent means, I think I should go into politics. And I should put on my first campaign banner the words, 'No Compromise.'"

It was a little strange that, until now-to-night-she had not definitely formulated these ambitions. The idea of the banner with its inscription had come as an inspiration. He did not answer, but sat regarding her, drumming on the cloth with his strong, brown fingers.

"I have learned this much in New York," she said, carried on by her impetus, "that men and women are like plants. To be useful, and to grow properly, they must be firmly rooted in their own soil. This city seems to me like a luxurious, overgrown hothouse. Of course," she added hastily, "there are many people who belong here, and whose best work is done here. I was thinking about those whom it attracts. And I have seen so many who are only watered and fed and warmed, and who become -distorted."

"It's extraordinary," replied Chiltern, slowly, "that you should say this to me. It is what I have come to believe, but I couldn't have said it half so well."

Mrs. Grainger gave the signal to rise. Honora took Chiltern's arm, and he led her back to the drawing-room. She was standing alone by the fire when Mrs. Maitland approached her.

"Haven't I seen you before?" she asked.

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