Press enter after choosing selection

... Circle In The Sand

... Circle In The Sand image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

lutlior of j W77h?Css ef GodThe Ofier ffousc: Ifcy't 92, öy ca avíaos . -,+- ■ter xi. Hver his after dinner Hpected at the office, a ■ enter the world of Hry niastered bini. Ho Huil fanciful ruood. He Hwindow, conscious of Bg under the lamps, ■reet sounds. He talkBut him on social hapBktics, bnt ahvays, no Bsaid, feit a fine disreHuse the glamour of the Bh him still and his Has of that alone. Har Anne sing a bailad HMght, as he went down li between his lips. "I ■ at home. She can't be ■ anywhere, f or he wasn't I 111 see if she's in, at I walk down the lower Hue and across WashingH be glorióos on a night ■'. a mood when a man is Han and reads the facts of Kasure or a sense of failure Khe truth in that intímate, Htecord. He saw noue of the Ks ouly half conscions of the gaslit streets. He was Hiis years from boyhood and pg tts completeness of his preshis nseVif opportnnities. is a cour fortable rêverie. He had Ltoregvet. The death of his faId been ais only grief, sooii lived h the fo'llness of ambition and Went wealth. No shadow lurked past. He had experimented with orld, the fiesh and the devil," I formed no ignoble ties. He had II health, invincible will, limit■re for success in whatever he K clean years behind him, a j rs fnture. Suppose he marBkcture rose before him as in■Lway as the others of the Hot'.' A woman, gentle, ftthetic, reflecting him, ■cbildren in his home, Hbe laid and finished H was practically over. ■([; a spirit singing of H:h bim. Hl' he walked quickly - ■ Vhe almost empty square H'here Anne lived. Her i Hint much to him, since he ■tly for her tonight, as if ■vine the power of the new Kmsing him and all bis secret He might lead her on to talk Ht Olga. Hat toward the house his eyes Hed on her windows. He was ■ that a man had come down H path and, having opened Bood catching him. But when Hecame accustomed to the Hnav Donald's face nnder the H ha't. It was almost unfaHeard, of a sick pallor, the ■ tb a new shame upon it. Hked at him in silence. The H secret brotherhood between HRtely iufluenced his inward Howard Donald, and there was Hirother's scrutiny and impaHhe look he fixed upon him. ■ I sent for you tbis morning, B heard you hadn't been home Ie dayB,"hesaid gravely. "I ryoa'd gone to the lightship to 'he picures for Arnold's story, next week woald have done for idyju go?" ld dijew back into the path, the the treet lamp npon him. He to agfe. He lifted his hands and 3 fallj heavily. I didn't. I roeant; to go. I - au see how it's been with me," bluntly. i've been drinking again." ï've hit it. Going at the devil's ■■f- lathetic admission of one I always thought of him Bi e as one deliberately bad, m ■congenial thougn it meant B he bad mentally washed Hiim long ago. Just becanse ■her and dependent he had Ion The Citizen despite his B; him for wbat work he Bver questioning him, letBrely alone. He had always Biings as bopeless - a wom■obby, a man with a vice. H lasting virtue in reformaH seen so many failures even wEën inen ancl wornen hungered for the good they were not strong enough to grasp. And uow Donald - the old story! It was a pity. The years behind hirn were his future temptation. There is shock in a fall, bnt a step to familiar conditions is easy pnougb. He fiugered his cigar uneasily, almost at a loss for words. "I'm sorry you were weak, Douald," and the words, despite his effort, had a flat, stereotyped ring, "but you niustn't fancy it's hopeless. Yon must just begin the battle over again. " Donald's eyes feil, a faint smile p!ayed over his face, "So she said, " and ho looked up shrinkingly at Anne's window. "She Can 't save me, nor eau auy one else. I must save rnyself. That's what she said when she sent meaway ttonight - I must save inyself. I tried before - I was so sure - so sure - so happy. But when temptation got to a climax it was like a paper honse trying to get the better of a flame. You wouldn't bet on the paper house, would you?" he said sharply. "Get away from the flame." "Suppose you carry itwith younight and day, night and day, here, here, here?" he called out, his hand tight upon his breast. His expression changed to stolid glooin, and he looked past David. "Only for her I'd give it all up aud go to the devil without a regret. I didn't mind so ruuch before Iknew her. Now when I know what a poor thing I am why can't I forget that she cares what happens to rue, go away, quench this damnable torture by satisfying it and die, the sooner the better? Wby can't I do it?" and his voice rose and quivered, but sank again to a whisper. "I cau't. I can't. No oue else cares a I hang what becomes of me, but as long i as she cares I've got to try in spito of myself. I've got to try aud suffer and deserve a little her belief in me. " He laid his arm aloug the icy bars and let his head fall upon it. David thought of his late self congratulation and contented review of his life, and the sight of this tormented soul was terrible. "Look here, Donald, this is all nonsense. You mustn't take this lapse se seriously. You must forget it and start anew, " and he pulled at the bent sboulj der, his tone encouraging. "That's ! what you must do. And yon mustn't think no one cares but Ariue, " he added softly, his hand tighteuiug where it lay. "I care very much. " "You?" Donald lifted his head and looked at David steadily. "Yes, L Don 't forget that. No one was more glad tban I when you started in to make something of yourself. I pity you now. By aud by I want to be proud of you. Don 't say you have no friend but Anne Garrick. I hope you'll deserve her good opinión. But, reinember, I count on you too. I will do auything in the world to help you. Don 't you believe it?" He held out his hand. Donald looked at it, but did not stir. There was almost irresistible magnetism in David's kindling eyes, aud Donald had always Btealthily loved him. But he could not touch the proffered hand, much as he longed to. It would be renouncing toe sweet a revengo. "Won't you take my hand?" "No, " he said insolently. "What have you ever been to me that I should flatter this poetic impulse of yours - this impulse now - that means nothing?" Chagrin and uneasiness seized David ; his hand feil. "I'm sincere. What do yon mean?" "You care what becomes of me? You care for my contemptible existence? You?" He stood erect, buttoning his coat tightly across his breast, his eyes brilliant and dry. "You seem skeptical, " and David's tone was uncertain in a way most unusual for him. "Believe it or not, I'm ready to help you now or at any time. " "Oh, are you?" said Donald slowly, nodding his head. "Your generosity comes too late. This is a strange place to have this matter out between us. I never supposed I'd speak of myself to yon, but I'm not myself tonight. You, too, seem to have undergone a wonder - ful ohange. The words you speak are unfamiliar. Why didn't you say years ago what you've said tonight? Did you ever think of the difference between us - what love and care can make of a boy, what scorn and intoleranoe can make of him? There were nights when I thought I'd go mad from sheer loneliness, and you, full of your schemes and pleasures, never gave me a thought. My heart starved for syinpathy, but I couldu't get near you. Don't let me think of those things before I had learned to say, 'I don't care,' and when you could have helped me. Don't let me think of them." He brushed past David and pulled open the gate. " Wait a minute, Donald. What yon say requires an answer. Listen to me. You forget circumstances made it almost impossible for us to be friends. My father's nnhappiness with your mother, his dislike of you - cruelly unjust, I admit" - "I was his sin." And a sneer made Donald ugly for a moment. "His eyes couldn't bear to light on me. The sight of me turned him sick and made him nose for comfort araong thePsalms telling of King David's repentance. I was his ínateriálizetl sin, and he scourged rne. Yon know that. " ] "Yes, but there, don 't let us go into j that miserable business. I'm only trying to defend niyself. The injustioe of those days wasn't ruy fault. " "Aud af ter John Temple died was there any difference? You gave me , woi'k, but I was nothing to you. For ] eight years I've been busy atslow ' oide, strangliug whateyer was good in , me. You said nothing. You didn't teil me then to braoe up and make something of myself. Now" - andthewords ', were a cry of anguish - "I seeni to have a malformed soul unfit for struggle. ! It's like entering a cripple against a giant. Ünce what wonldn't I havegiven to have feit you really oaredl Think , what it would have been to me ! I was without a friend, as ready for evil as a laid powder trail is for a matoh. If ' you'd spoken then as you did tonight" - he paused, looking away from David. ] "You didn't. You offer your encouragiug words now. They're useless, and I refuse them. " He closed the gate sharply, and David watched him down the street. There was a sick sense of guilt at bis heart. For the first time he faoed the truth. He saw himself wrapped in egotism, living for personal success, never thinking of want in Donald's life. He had always known he was cold, practical, gtern, apt to view the failures of life with impatience, the road to nis heart 0 narrow one beset by roughnesses; but to realize he had been cruel, too, and that the remorseful soul he had faced tonight was in soine degree a result of bis self absorption, was a new and hateEul fact. Even this new consideration for Donald had been selfish. His own unqualified content had made him kind, es an overfull glass must waste some of its wine. On leaving the club he had looked forward to a cozy hour with Anne, when he might have led her to talk about her cousin ; but he had 'oeen roused to something sterner, to face a delayed duty, and when he did anything he did it well. Anne was writing when he went into the sitting room. , "I met Donald at the gate, " were his fint words, and he noticed a look of anxiety pass over her face. "Were you speaking to him?" "Yes, we bad it out. Curious, wasn't it, after all these years to know for the first time the real Donald at your garden gate?" "Don't be hard on him," she said clearly, standing up. An expression of defianoe in her eyes added to his self reproach. He looked at her thoughtfully. "I must have seemed a brute to you. Sit down by me here, Anne, and help me a little. I've always been so obedient to my conscience it has never been a nuisance. Well, tonight it stings me like a fretful woman, and I must silence it, " he said bitterly. "I'm going to do something for Donald. I've a scheine I think would save him. I'm going to help him with all my heart." "You wül?" "With all my heart." "Oh, yes!" she said, seizing David's hand, her love for him rushing ever her. "He's done all he could to ruin his life, but you'll help him to value it now. Yon 're so good!" CHAPTBE XII. Mrs. Ericsson fluttered into the green and white room and stood before Olga. She looked like a quivering interrogation mark. "Whywon't yon go to see Irving with the Kents? The invitation has come at the last moment, but you know they got the box unexpectedly, so you needn't fancy you've been asked just to fill in." She surveyed Olga with pleading eyes and irritaïed air. Never had she seemed so purposely provoking as now, lying before the window in a steamer chair, calm, attentive and polite. "I'm not going, dear, " Eaid Olga, EQttling herself at an augle which brought added comfort and turniug the fashion magazine she had been reading face downward on her knee, "becanse I'm lazy, because this dry cold makes my nose an ugly magneta"- "You have furs" - "Because I hate the theater in the daytime, am sick to death of Mrs. Kent and her knobby headed son" - "Olga, you'll simply drive me distracted by your indifference." "And because David Temple is coming at 5 o'clock. " "Oh, "with a comprehensivo gasp, "is he?" "I asked him in last night." Mrs. Ericsson dropped into a chair and folded her hands in her lap. "Olga," she said seriously, "for the past month, ever sinoe Smedley Joyce's tea, he has been following you about. You've enoouraged him, whether for fnn, as yon cali it, ornot I don't know. But people say David Temple is not a marrying man and tohavehim loom np like your shadow wberever you go will hurt your chances. It certainly will. " "Think so?" and Olga drew a loóse strand of hair through her fingers. "I know it. You're very perverse. There's Bob Deschalles making a fooi of himself over yon, a man with one of the largest fortunes" - I 11 Ana a Tool. Tin uot exacting when inillions are appended, but I draw the line at him. Don't talk of Mm any more. " She looked fully at her mofcher with open critioism. "How little yon understand me. If yon knew auything of character, you'd have seen long ago T must be prond of the man I marry. I need not care a pin for him, but beoause of braius, family or personality with wealth, I must regard him as a prizo and have other women envy me. D'ye see? Now who'd envy me Bob Deschalles - who uuder heaven?" She gave a conclusivo shrug-and returned to the magazine. Her mother looked at her and sighed impatieutly. "Well, about David Temple?" she said sharply. "And what about him? He's coming at 5. I'm goiug to pour tea for him, wbich he'll pretend to drink. I'll see he thinks me beautifnl, which I am, as well as a great inany other things which I'm not." "You know well enough what I mean, Olga. You can be so provoking. Why don't you answer me?" "You haven't asked me anythiug." "Does he mean anything?" she asked angrily. "Yes, he means everything. " "Has he said anything?" And a look of rapacity made Mrs. Ericssou's eyes giy"Notexactly." "Then how can you teil? You only think so. You've thought so before and been mistaken." "Ifeelit." "And you'd marry him?" "Why not? I've used my eyes to good advantage, mamma, though I haven't seemed to seemuch. Women have stopped running after David Temple because he's been given up as hopeless. Suppose I win him? If auy have doubted my power they'll doubt no more. Besides he inspires a delicious sense of fear in me. As for what he is" - and she extended her hands - "show me anything better. He'srich. The position he holds at the head of The Citizen, representing its brains and money, is the nearest thing to a title to be had in this country. More than this, he's ambitious, and he'll keep advancing. He may go into politics, be the president - who knows - and I'll make things hum at the White House." She rose and in passing her mother drew her hand teasingly down her small, worried face, flattening the nose. "How would you look, dear, between two foreign diplomats at a state dinner? Just like a puesy cat, " she laughed rnerrily. "And how wonld it like to look like a pussy oat?' ' "Don't be childiáb, Olga." Mrs. Ericsson rearranged her nose and rosetestily. "You've evidently made up your mind. Well, I'll be glad when it's settled and the strain of beeping up appearances is over. ' ' "If yon only wouldn't worry," said Olga placidly. "Not worry?" flasbed Mrs. Ericsson f rom the doorway. "And.where would you be and how would things be with you today if didn't worry to find some way of making ends meet? I'll say, 'Thank God,' when it's ended." "And I'll say 'Amen,' " said Olga, with more emphasis than was usual with her.