THE GLORY OF THE CONQUERED
THE STORY OF A GREAT LOVE
To DR. A. L. HAGEBOECK,
Who Made This Book Possible
I. ERNESTINE II. THE LETTER III. KARL IV. JACK AND "HIGHER TRUTH" V. THE HOME-COMING VI. "GLORIA VICTIS" VII. ERNESTINE IN HER STUDIO VIII. SCIENCE, ART AND LOVE IX. As THE SURGEON SAW IT X. KARL IN HIS LABORATORY XI. PICTURES IN THE EMBERS XII. A WARNING AND A PREMONITION XIII. AN UNCROSSED BRIDGE XIV. "TO THE GREAT UNWHIMPERING!" XV. THE VERDICT XVI. "GOOD LUCK, BEASON!" XVII. DISTANT STRAINS OF TRIUMPH XVIII. TELLING ERNESTINE XIX. INTO THE DARK
XX. MARRIAGE AND PAPER BAGS XXI. FACTORY-MADE OPTIMISM XXII. A BLIND MAN'S TWILIGHT XXIII. HER VISION XXIV. LOVE CHALLENGES FATE XXV. DR. PARKMAN'S WAY XXVI. OLD-FASHIONED LOVE XXVII. LEARNING TO BE KARL'S EYES XXVIII. WITH BROKEN SWORD XXIX. UNPAINTED MASTERPIECES XXX. EYES FOR TWO XXXI. SCIENCE AND SUPER-SCIENCE XXXII. THE DOCTOR HAS HIS WAY XXXIII. LOVE'S OWN HOUR XXXIV. ALMOST DAWN XXXV. "OH, HURRY—HURRY!" XXXVI. WITH THE OUTGOING TIDE
XXXVII. BENEATH DEAD LEAVES XXXVIII. PATCHWORK QUILTS XXXIX. ASH HEAP AND ROSE JAR XL. "LET THERE BE LIGHT" XLI. WHEN THE TIDE CAME IN XLII. WORK, THE SAVIOUR XLIII. "AND THERE WAS LIGHT"
THE GLORY OF THE CONQUERED
She had promised to marry a scientist! It was too overwhelming a thought to entertain standing there by the window. She sought the room's most comfortable chair and braced herself to the situation.
If, one month before, a gossiping daughter of Fate had come to her with—"Shall I tell you something?—You are going to marry a man of science!"—she would have smiled serenely at Fate's amusing mistake and responded—"My good friend, it is quite true that great uncertainty attends this subject. So much to be expected is the unexpected, that I am quite willing to admit I may marry the hurdy-gurdy man who plays beneath my window. I know life well enough to appreciate that I may marry a pawnbroker or the Sultan of Turkey. I assert but one thing. I shall not marry a 'man of science.'"
And now, not only had she promised to marry a man of science, but she had quite overlooked the fact of his being one! And the thing which stripped her of the last shred of consistency was that she was to marry, not the every-day, average "man of science," but one of the foremost scientists of all the world! The powers in charge of things matrimonial must be smiling a quiet little smile to-night.
But ah—here was the vindication! He had not asked her to marry him. He had simply come and told her she was to marry him. And he was a great, strong man—far more powerful than she. She had had positively nothing to do with it! Was it her fault that he chanced to be engaged in scientific pursuits? And when he took her face so tenderly in his two hands—looked so far down into her eyes—and told her in a voice she would follow to the ends of the earth that he loved her—was there any time then to think of paltry non-essentials like art and science?
But she thought of them a little now. How could she get away from them when each year of her past marched slowly in front of her, paused for an instant that she might get a full view, and then passed grinningly back to the abyss of things gone, from over the shoulder tossing straight into her consciousness a jeering, deep sinking "You too?"
Ernestine Stanley—that was the name she read in one of her books open beside her. Why her very name stood for that quarrel which had rent all the years!
Until she was ten years old she had been nameless. She had been You—and Baby—and Dear—and Mother's Girl—and Father's Girl, but her mother and father had been unable to agree upon a name for her. Each discussion served to send them a little farther apart. Finally they spoke of Ernestine and reached the point of agreement through separate channels. Her father approved it for what it meant in the dictionary;—her mother for the music of its sound. That told the whole story; their attitudes toward her name spoke for the things of themselves bestowed upon her.
Her father had been a disciple of exact science,—a professor of biology. He believed only in that which could be reduced to a formula. The knowable was to him the only real. He viewed life microscopically and spent his portion of emotion in an aggressive hatred of all those things which he consigned to the rubbish heap labeled non-scientific.
And her mother—she never thought of her mother without that sad little shake of her head—was a dreamer, a lover of things beautiful, a hater of all she felt to be at war with her gods. Ernestine's loyalty did not permit the analysis to go further, except to deplore her mother's unhappiness as unnecessary. Even when a very little girl she wondered why her father could not have his bottles and things, and her mother have her poems and the things she liked, and just let each other alone about it. She wondered that long before she appreciated its significance.
As she grew a little older she used to wonder if something inside her would not some day be pulled in two. It seemed the desire of each of her parents to guide her from what they saw as the rocks surrounding her. Elementary science was all mixed up with Keats and Heine and Byron. Another one of her early speculations was as to whether or not poetry and science really meant to make so much trouble.
Of course from the very first there had been the blackboard—the blackboard and all its logical successors. As perversity would have it, it was her father bought her that blackboard. It was to help turn her in the way she should go, for upon this blackboard she was to do her sums. But the sums executed thereon were all performed when some one was standing at her shoulder, while many were the hours spent in the drawing of cats and dogs and fish and birds, of lakes and trees and other little girls and boys. She never had that being-pulled-in-two feeling when she and the blackboard were alone together. The blackboard seemed the only thing which made her all one, and she often wished her father and mother loved their things as she did hers, for if they were only sure, as she was, then what some one else said would not matter at all.
They lived in a university town, her father being a professor in the school. In the later years of her college life he forced her into the scientific courses which she hated. She sighed even now at the memory of those weary hours in the laboratory, though while hating the detail of it, she responded, as her father had never done, to the glimpses she caught of the thing as a whole. It was ironical enough that the only thing she seemed to get from her scientific studies was an enthusiasm for the poetry of science. In those days many thoughts beat hard against the door of Ernestine's loyalty. Why did not her mother see all this—and make her father see it? Was there not a point at which they could have met—and did they not fail in meeting because neither of them went far enough?
It was when she was in her senior year that her father died. She finished out her laboratory work with lavish conscientiousness, feeling a new tenderness of him in the consciousness that his ideas for her had failed. That hour before his funeral, when she sat beside him alone, stood out as among the very vivid moments of her life. The tragedy of his life seemed that he had failed in impressing himself. His keenness of mind had not made for bigness. Life had left an aggressiveness, a certain sullenness in the lines of his face. His mind and his soul had never found one another—was it because his heart had closed the channel between the two?
And then they went to New York and Ernestine began her study of art.
A great light seemed turned back over it all tonight. She understood much now which she had lived through wonderingly. She seemed now really to know that girl who went to New York with all the dreams of all her years calling upon her for fulfillment. She knew what that girl had dreamed when she dreamed she knew not what; knew what she thought when she thought the undefined. She smiled understandingly, tenderly, at thought of it all—the bounding joy and the stubborn determination, the fearing and the demanding and the resolving with which she began her work. She was a great deal like a child on the long-promised holiday, and much like the pilgrim at the shrine. Somewhere between those two was Ernestine that first winter in New York.
It was after the second year, after that strange mixture of things within her had unified to fixed purpose, and after it had become quite certain her dreams had not played her false, that the other big change had come. Her mother slipped away from the life which had never held her in the big grip of reality. She had been so long a longing looker-on from the outer circle that the slipping away was the less hard. Ernestine stopped work in order to care for her, reproaching herself with never having been able to give to her mother with the unrestraint and bounteousness she had given to her work. During those last weeks she often found her mother's eyes—sombre, brooding eyes—following her about the room like the spirit of unrest.
"Try to be happy, Ernestine," she said, when about to leave the house in which she had ever been a stranger. "Life is so awful if you are not happy."
She took her back to the little town and put her away beside the man with whom her soul had never been at peace. That first night she awakened in the dark hours and fancied she heard them quarreling. The hideous fancy would not let her go to sleep, though she told herself over and over that surely death would bring them the peace life had so long withheld.
She went back to her work then with a new steadiness; loneliness feeding the fire of consecration. Often when alone in her room at night she felt those disappointed eyes following her about, heard again that plaintive: "Try to be happy, Ernestine. Life is so awful if you are not happy." She had many times opened the book in which her mother copied the poems written at intervals during the years, but always would come the feeling of their holding something at which it would be hard to look. To-night, with her new understanding, this wondrous new touchstone, she took them from her trunk with eagerness. She longed now to know the secret of her mother's life; she would know why happiness had passed her by.
There was tragedy in those little poems—a soul's long tragedy in their halting lines, in the faltering breath with which they were sung. Indeed they were not the songs of a poet at all; they were but the helpless reaching out of an unsatisfied, unanchored soul. The blackboard had never given back what it should; the crayon would not write. Was it true there were countless souls who went away like this—leaving unsaid a word they had craved to say?
"For our souls were not in tune"—was a line she found in one of the verses and which she sat a long time pondering. Was not the secret of it here? This the rock which held the wreckage of their lives?
She left her room and went out of doors. The night was very still. A tender peace brooded over the world. She lifted her eyes to the stars—her soul to the great Wonder. Enveloping her was Life—drawing her straight to the heart of things was Love. Doubts and speculations and ominous memories seemed blown away by the breath of the night. The years had no lesson to teach save this—One must love! All that was wrong in the world came through too little loving. All that was great and beautiful sprang from love which knew not doubts nor fears. What was a "point of view" when one throbbed with the memory of his good-bye kiss!
There was a force which moved the world. She was in the grip of that force to-night. All else was but the tiny whirlpool against the mighty current. And she was not afraid. Love would deal kindly with her own. She lifted her soul to the great Mother and Father of the world. "Oh take me and teach me!"—was her passionate prayer.
What was that story the old Greeks told about love being the union—or reunion—of the two halves of an originally perfect whole? The envious gods—who were a very bad lot—cut the original perfect being in two. Then love is a finding of one's own—also, a getting ahead of the gods. I have more respect for the old Greeks to-night than I ever had before! But you cannot know just how it is. You are younger than I, and I do not believe the fear of life passing you by ever entered and chilled your heart. You were always sure it was coming some time, weren't you, my new-found little one? You could not have had that calm, sweet look in those big eyes of yours had you feared the best of life might be withheld from you. But can you fancy what it would mean to have felt for many years that somewhere there was a cool, sweet spring of eternal joy, and to become fearful your footsteps might never lead you to those blessed waters? And then can you fancy the profound thankfulness that would fill one's being, when after long wandering, after several mistakes and disappointments, the music of those waters was borne to the ear? And when, almost fearful to believe, and yet very, very sure, one stepped a little nearer, can you fancy the joy in finding the cooling breeze from that eternal spring upon one's face, of seeing it there as one had ever dreamed of it, knowing that beside it one could drink deep—long and very deep—of those life-giving, soul-satisfying waters? Can you fancy the all-pervading thankfulness, almost unbelievable joy, in that first hour of standing beside the long-desired, the half-despaired of water of life?
"Thank God I was not weak enough to resign the whole for the half! There was once a voice said to me: 'This is a pretty good spring. There is not much chance of your finding the other. Why not take this?' But something—your voice from a far distance?—called me on.
"A strange enough letter for a man to be writing the girl who has just promised to marry him! Conventionally, I suppose, I should say to you: 'I never knew anything like this before.' And instead I am saying: 'There was something once of somewhat similar exterior. But I was mistaken. I was disappointed.' But doesn't this make you see—dear new love—dear real love—how happy I am, and why?
"But you poor little girl—how I've cheated you! Why, liebchen—God bless the Germans for inventing that name for you—you were entitled to weeks and weeks of beautiful, delicate courtship. Will you forgive me for jumping right over those days when I should have sent you roses and nice pretty notes, and prepared you in proper and approved way for all of this? But I had been waiting for you so long that when I found you, I just couldn't wait a minute longer.
"And it was Georgia—my red-headed, freckled, foolish cousin Georgia did this! Why, liebchen, I'll take my oath right this minute Georgia hasn't a freckle! I'm even willing—(oh Lord, am I?—Yes, by the gods I am)—to read every abominable line she writes for that abominable paper. Am I an ingrate? Didn't Georgia bring me to you?—and is anything too much, even to the reading of her stuff—yes, by Jove, and liking it?
"Now prepare yourself to receive the sympathy of every one you know when you tell them you are going to marry me. Some kind of divine hallucination is upon you, acting for my good, and you do not see how profoundly you are to be pitied. But other people will see, and will tell you about it, only you will think they are under a hallucination, which is one of the phases of yours. The truth is I am a grubbing old scientist. I prowl around in laboratories and don't know much of anything else, and more than half the time my hands are stained with unaesthetic colours you won't like at all. And they tell me I have a foolish way of sitting and thinking about one thing, and that sometimes I don't do things I say I am going to—meet my appointments and things like that, although of course that won't apply to you. And here you might have married some artist chap, or society fellow who would know all about the proper thing!
"But never mind, poor little girl—I'll make it up to you. You may miss some of the lesser, but you'll have the greater. You'll have the love that enfolds one's whole being—the love that is eternal. Yes, dear—eternal. The mariner has his compass, the astronomer his stars, the Swiss peasant has his Alps—and we have our love. It must mean all those eternal things to us. Don't you feel that it will?
"This train is rushing along jostling my hand so I can scarcely write. But then my heart is rushing on jostling my brain so I can scarcely think, so perhaps my handwriting matches my thoughts.
"And we'll work! We'll work to prove how much we love—is there better reason for working than that? I can work now as I never did before, for don't I want to prove to this old world that I appreciate its bringing me to you? And you'll teach me about this art of yours, won't you, my little girl with the long, serious name? I'm ignorant, sweetheart, I don't know much about pictures, but don't you think that I can learn? Why, liebchen, I'm learning already! I never knew what they meant by lights and shadows until I saw your face.
"But tell me, how does it happen your hair grows back from your temples that way? Why, no one else's hair does that. And where did you learn about tilting your chin forward like that and looking straight out of your eyes at one? It is so strange—no one else does any of those things. I've often thought of the many things in science I do not understand and never will, but they are the very simplest things imaginable in comparison with that puzzling way you smile, the wonderful way your face lights up when you are happy.
"Are you looking up at the stars? I think you are. And in the heavens do you see one newly discovered, unvanishable star? That is the star of our love, dear,—the star which has changed heaven and earth. Are you dreaming about it all?—Oh but I know you are. I will fulfill those dreams, dear girl. I have waited for you too long, I prize you too inestimably not to consecrate my life to the fulfilling of those dreams."
He was one of the men who go before. Out in the great field of knowledge's unsurveyed territory he worked—a blazer of the trail, a voice crying from the wilderness: "I have opened up another few feet. You can come now a little farther." Then they would come in and take possession, soon to become accustomed to the ground, forgetting that only a little while before it had been impassable, scarcely thinking of the little body of men who had opened the way for them, and now were out farther, where again the way was blocked, trying to beat down a few more of the barriers, open up a little more of that untrodden territory. And only the little band itself would ever know how stony that path, how deep the ditches, how thick and thorny the underbrush. "Why this couldn't have been so bad," the crowd said, after it had flocked in—"strange it should have taken so long!"
Not that the little band sought popular acclaim, or desired it. "Heavens!" he had once exclaimed to a laboratory assistant, after a reporter had been vainly trying to persuade him to "tell the whole story of his work in popular vein,"—"you don't suppose medical research is going to become a drawing-room lap dog!"
But he need not have feared. A capricious fancy might rest upon them for the minute, but the big world which followed along behind would never come into any complete understanding of such as they. In an age of each man seeking what he himself can gain, how could there be understanding of the manner of man who would perhaps work all of his lifetime only to put up at the end the sign-board: "Do not take this road. I have gone over it and found it profitless." Failure is not the name they give to that. They say his wanderings astray brought others that much nearer to the goal.
In his last year at the medical school one of his professors had put it to him like this: "You must make your choice. It is certain you can not do both. You will become a general practitioner, or you will go into the research work for which you have shown aptitude here. I am confident you would succeed as a surgeon. In that you would make more money, and, in all probability, a bigger name. That is certain. In this other, you take your chances. But if I were you, I would do whichever I cared for more."
That settled it, for he had long before heard the cry from the unknown: "Come out and take us! We are here—if only you know how to get us." There was in his blood that which thrilled to the thought of doing what had not been done before. With the abandonment of his intense and rugged nature, he yielded himself to the delights of the untravelled path.
At the time of his falling in love, Dr. Karl Hubers was thirty-nine years old. He had worked in European laboratories, notably the Pasteur Institute of Paris, and among men of his kind was regarded as one to be reckoned with. Within the profession his name already stood for vital things, and it was associated now with one of the big problems, the solving of which it was believed this generation would have to its credit. The scientific and medical journals were watching him, believing that when the great victory was won, his would be the name to reach round the world.
Three years before, the president of a great university, but newly sprung up by the side of a great lake, sitting in his high watch tower and with mammoth spy-glass looking around for men of initiative in the intellectual domain, had spied Karl Hubers, working away over there in Europe. This man of the watch tower had a genius for perceiving when a man stood on the verge of great celebrity, and so he cried out now: "Come over and do some teaching for us! We will give you just as good a laboratory as you have there and plenty of time for your own work." Now, while he would be glad enough to have Dr. Hubers do the teaching, what he wanted most of all was to possess him, so that in the day of victory that young giant of a university would rise up with the peon: "See! We have done it!" And Dr. Hubers, lured by the promise of time and facility for his own work, liking what he knew of the young university, had come over and established himself in Chicago.
In those three years he had not been disappointing. He had contributed steadily to the sum of the profession's knowledge, for he worked in little by-paths as well as on his central thing, and he himself felt, though he said but little, that he was coming nearer and nearer the goal he had set for himself.
His place in the university was an enviable one. The enthusiasm of the students for him quite reached the borderland of reverence. To get some work in Dr. Hubers' laboratory was regarded, among the scientific students, as the triumph of a whole university career. And it was those students who worked as his assistants who came to know the fine fibre of the man. They could tell best the real story of his work. They it was who told him when he must go to his classes and when he must go to his meals, who kept him, in times of complete surrender to his idea, in so much of touch with the world about him as they felt a necessity. Their hearts beat with his heart when a little of the way was cleared; their spirits sank in disappointment as they lived with him through the days of depression. And as they came day by day to know of the honesty of his mind, the steadfastness of his purpose, to feel that flame which glowed within him, they fairly spoke his name in different voice from that used for other things, and when they told their stories of his eccentricities, it was with a tenderness in their humour, never as though blurring his greatness, but rather as if his very little weaknesses and foibles set him apart from and above every one else.
Generations before, his ancestors up there in North Europe had swept things before them with a mighty hand. With defeat and renunciation they did not reckon. If they loved a woman, they picked her up and took her away. And civilisation has not quite washed the blood of those men from the earth. Germany gave to Karl Hubers something more than a scholar's mind. At any rate, he did a very unapproved and most uncivilised thing. When he fell in love and decided he wanted to marry Ernestine Stanley, and that he wanted to take her right over to Europe and show her the things he loved there, he asked for his year's leave of absence before he went to find out whether Miss Stanley was kindly disposed to the idea of marrying him. Now why he did that, it is not possible to state, but the thing proving him quite hopeless as a civilised product is that it never struck him there was anything so very peculiar in his order of procedure.
His assistants had to do a great deal of reminding after he came back that week, and they never knew until afterwards that his abstraction was caused by something quite different from germs. They thought—unknowing assistants—that he was on a new trail, and judged from the expression of his face that it was going to prove most productive.
FACTS AND "HIGHER TRUTH"
"Mr. Beason," said Georgia McCormick, looking across the dinner table at the new student who had come to live with them—almost every one who lived around the university had "students"—"if you had a dear cousin who had married a dear friend, if said dear cousin and dear friend had gone skipping away to Europe, and for one year and a half had flitted gayly from country to country, looking into each other's eyes and murmuring sweet nothings all the while that you had been earning your daily bread by telling daily untruths for a daily paper, if at the end of said period said cousin and friend, forced by a steadily diminishing bank account to return to the stern necessities of life, had written you a nonchalant little note telling you to 'look up a place for them to lay their heads'—which being translated in terms of action meant that you were to walk the streets looking for vacant houses when vacant houses there were none—if this combination of circumstances befell you, Mr. Beason—just what would you do?"
Beason pondered the matter carefully. Mr. Beason applied the scientific method to everything in life, and was not one to commit himself rashly. "I think," he announced, weightily, "that I would tell them to go to a hotel and stay there until they could look up their own house."
"But Mr. Beason," she rambled on, eyes twinkling—Georgia had decided this young man needed "waking up"—"suppose you loved them both very dearly—suppose they were positively the dearest people who ever walked the earth—and that breaking your neck for them was the greatest pleasure life could confer upon you—what would you do then?"
"I'm sure I don't know," said Beason, bluntly; "I never loved any one that dearly."
"'Tis better to love and break one's neck,"—began Harry Wyman, who aspired to the position of class poet.
"If you had ever known Ernestine and Karl,"—a tenderness creeping into Georgia's voice—"you'd be almost willing to hunt houses for them. Almost, I say—for I doubt if any affection on earth should be put to the house-hunting test. Even my cousin Dr. Karl Hubers———"
"Your—cousin?"—Beason broke in. "Your—?"—in telling the story Georgia always spoke of the unflattering emphasis on the final your. But at the time she could think of nothing save the transformed face of John Beason. The instantaneousness with which he had waked up was fairly gruesome. He was looking straight at Georgia; all three were held by his manner.
"Now my dear Mr. Beason," she laughed finally, "don't be so hard on us. My mother and Dr. Hubers' mother were sisters, but please don't rub it in so unmercifully that poor mother has been altogether distanced in the matter of offspring. You see mother married an Irish politician—hence me. While Aunt Katherine—Karl's mother—married a German scholar—therefore Karl. And the German scholar was the son of a German professor. In fact, from all I have been led to believe the Hubers were busily engaged in the professoring business at the time Julius Caesar stalked up from Italy."
"Now Georgia," hastened Mrs. McCormick earnestly, "this newspaper work gives you such a tendency to exaggerate. I never heard it said before that the family went that far back."
"Perhaps not. But just because a thing has never been said before, isn't there all the more reason for saying it now? And I'm just trying to make Mr. Beason understand"—demurely—"why some people are scholars and others are not."
But Season's mind was working straight from the shoulder.
"Does he ever come here?" he demanded.
"Yes, indeed; he honours our poor board quite often with the light of his countenance."
Beason accepted that as unextravagant statement of fact.
"Well, do you—know about him?" he asked, bluntly.
"That he's 'way up? Oh, my, yes. And we're tremendously proud of him."
"I should think you would be," said Beason, rather grimly.
"Karl is indeed remarkable," said Mrs. McCormick, blandly expansive, well pleased with both Karl and her own appreciation of him. "I feel that our family has much to be proud of, to think both he and Georgia have done so well with their work."
The expression of Beason's face was a study. Georgia laughed over it for weeks afterwards.
"Now my chief interest," said Wyman, who was at the stage where he put life in capital letters, and cherished harmless ideas about his own deep understanding of the human heart, "is in Mrs. Hubers. There, I fancy,"—it was his capital letter voice—"is a woman who understands."
"A dandy girl," said Georgia, briskly.
"She has the artistic temperament?" he pursued.
"Oh, not disagreeably so," she retorted.
"You see," turning to Beason, who was plainly impatient at this shifting to anything so irrelevant as a wife, "I play quite a leading part in Dr. Hubers' life. I'm his cousin—that's the accident of birth; but I handed over to him his wife, for which he owes me undying gratitude. I'm looking for something really splendid from Europe."
"I wish I hadn't gone home so early that spring," sighed Wyman. "I'd like to have seen that little affair. It must have been the real thing in romance."
"But it was nothing of the sort! It was the most disgraceful thing I ever had anything to do with."
"Now Georgia," protested her mother, "you know you are so apt to be misunderstood."
"Well I couldn't be misunderstood about this! Oh, it was awful!—the suddenness of it, you know. You see Miss Stanley was an old college friend of mine. In fact, I roomed at their house,"—she paused and seemed to be thinking of other things—serious things. "A year ago last spring," she went on, "Ernestine stopped here on her way home from New York. Her parents had died, but an old aunt lived in their house, and she was going to see her. I had always told her about Karl, but she had never met him, because when Ernestine and I were together so much, he was in Europe. So I wanted her to meet him—well, principally because he was a good deal of a celebrity, and I thought it would be nice. I'll be real honest and confess it never occurred to me there would be anything exciting doing. Well, Karl didn't want to come. First he said he would, and then he telephoned he was busy. So I just went over to the laboratory and got him. I told him he was expected, and if he didn't come, mother and I never would forgive him. He washed his hands and came along, grumbling all the way about how one's relatives interfered with one's life—oh, Karl and I are tremendously frank, and then when he got here—well, I'll just leave it to mother."
"He did seem to be greatly impressed with Georgia's friend." said Mrs. McCormick, consciously conservative.
"I never saw him act so stupid! Oh, but I was mad at him! I wanted him to talk about Europe and be brilliant, but he didn't do anything but sit and look at Ernestine. Fact of the matter is, Ernestine doesn't look quite like the rest of us. At least Karl thought she didn't, and evidently he made up his mind then and there he was going to have her. Ernestine left Chicago sooner than he thought she was going to, and what does he do but go after her—and get her! You see, all of Karl's ancestors weren't meek and gentle scholars and wise professors. Lots of them were soldiers and bloodthirsty brigands, and those are the ones he brags about most and in spite of his mind, and all that, those are the ones he is most like. I suppose it was in the blood to get what he wanted. I'm sure I don't know how he did it. Lots of men had wanted Ernestine, and she had the caring-for-her-art notion—she's made good tremendously, you know—but art took a back seat when Dr. Hubers arrived on the scene. That's all there is to it. I wouldn't call it a romance. It was more in the line of a hop, skip and jump."
She had pushed back her chair a little, but laughed now, reminiscently.
"Oh it was just too funny! Some of it was too rich to keep. Karl came here the day after he returned—wanted to hear me talk of Ernestine, you know. People in love aren't exactly versatile in their conversation. I did talk about her for two hours, and then I ventured to change the subject. 'Karl,' I said, 'what do you think of the colour they're painting the new Fifty-seventh Street station?'
"He had been sitting there in rapt silence and he looked up at me with a seraphic, far-away smile. 'Colour,' he said, dreamily, 'was there ever such a colour before?'
"'There certainly never was,' I replied, meaning of course the brick red of the aforesaid station.
"'That divine brown,' he pursued,' that soft, dark, liquid brown of unfathomable depth!' Now there," nodding laughingly at Beason, "you have a sample of the great Dr. Hubers' mighty intellect."
Beason hovered around, hoping for a few more stray words, but as Harry Wyman and Georgia were talking about some foolish newspaper affairs, he went to his room and tried to settle down to work.
A half hour later Wyman, who had also gone in to do a little studying, came out to where Georgia was looking over the other evening papers.
"Say," he laughed, "you've got to do something for that fellow in there—he's crazy as a loon. You've got him all stirred up, and if you don't go in and get him calmed down he won't sleep a wink to-night, and neither will I. He says Dr. Hubers is the greatest man in the world. He says he won't except anybody—no, sir, not a living human soul! He's been walking up and down the floor talking about it. Gee! you ought to hear him. He says he came to this university on purpose to get some work with Dr. Hubers, that his life will be ruined if he doesn't get it, and that he's going to make all kinds of a ten-strike, if he does. And you can't laugh at the fellow, for he's just dead down in earnest! He wanted me to come out here and ask you some questions—I can't remember 'em straight. How he worked—whether he was approachable. Oh, he fired them at me thick. Say now, he would appreciate it, if you'd just go in and give him a little talk about your cousin. Kind of serious talk, you know. Why, he'd just hang on every word."
And Georgia, laughing—Georgia was strongly addicted to laughing—said if there was any man ready to hang upon her every word, that she, being twenty-seven and prospectless, must not let him get away.
She told Beason many things—some of them facts and some of them "higher truth," Georgia holding that things which ought to be true were higher truth. She told him how Karl had tried to burn down his father's house, when a very small boy, to see if something somebody had said about fire was true, how he dissected a strange and wonderful bird which came to the house on a visitor's hat, how he inspired a whole crew of small boys to run away from home as explorers, how he whipped a bigger boy most unmercifully for calling the Germans big fools. Georgia arranged for her cousin what she called a thoroughly consistent childhood. And then some less high truth about his working his way through college, getting money enough to go abroad, his absolute forgetfulness of everything when immersed in work—facts and higher truth tallied here.
"Karl's queer," she said. "He's roasted a good deal by the academic folks—pooh-hoos a lot of their stuff, you know. He seems to have a strange notion that science, learning, the whole business is for humanity. Unique conception, isn't it?"
After she went away, Beason said he had no doubt that when one came to know Miss McCormick, he would see, in spite of her lightness of manner, that she had many fine qualities.
"Qualities!" burst forth the enthusiastic Wyman. "Say—you just ought to hear the newspaper fellows talk about Georgia McCormick! I tell you she's a peach, and more than that, she's a brick. She's the divide-her-last-penny kind—Georgia McCormick is. And I want you to know that if ever any one had the joy of living stunt down pat, she's it. It's an honest fact that if she was put in the penitentiary and you went to see her after she'd been there awhile, she'd tell you so many funny and interesting things about the pen. that you'd feel sore to think you weren't in yourself. And smart? And a hustler? Well, her paper's done some fool things, but it's had sense to hold on to her all right-all right."
And Beason replied that of course Dr. Hubers' cousin was bound to be smart.
"Yes, suh, Chicago only two hours, suh," and the porter smiled broadly. There was both memory and anticipation in that smile.
The car was almost empty. Across the aisle a man slept peacefully; a little farther ahead a young lady read of the joys and sorrows of a knight and his lady who had lived some several hundred years before, and still farther on a lady all in black was looking from the window, evidently lost to sorrows of more recent date. As no one was paying any attention to the man and woman back there in the rear of the car it was perfectly safe, when the porter passed on, for her hand to slip over into his.
He responded with that quiet, protecting smile which always made it seem no bad thing could ever come to her.
"Almost home, dear," he said, and then for a long time neither of them spoke. Many big forces flowed freely into the silence of that moment.
She looked up at him at last with a smile which broke from her seriousness as a ripple breaks from a wave.
"Suppose we had to say everything in words!"
"Suppose we had to walk on one leg!"
"Oh, but that—you know, Karl, it's a little like the rivers and the ocean. The words are the rivers flowing into the ocean of silence. Rivers flow into oceans—but do they make them? And then the ocean gives back to the rivers in the things which it breathes out. There are so many reasons why it seems like that."
"Ernestine, where did you get all this? I sometimes think I'm not square with you at all. Why, I've been in all those places before! I saw the Bay of Naples long before I ever saw you—and yet I didn't really see it before at all. Don't you see? Eyes and appreciation and every decent thing I take from you. Where did you get it all, Ernestine?"
She pushed back a little curl which was always coming loose,—he loved that little curl for always coming loose.
"Perhaps I 'got it' from that way you have of looking at me—the way you're looking at me now; or maybe I got it from the way you say 'Ernestine'—the way you said it just now. But does it matter much what comes from which?"—with which bit of lucidity she wrinkled up her nose at him in a way which always vanquished argument and returned to the silence which seemed waiting to claim her.
He watched her then; he loved so to do that—just see how far he could follow. Ernestine seemed to draw things to her in a way very wonderful to him.
"You know, liebchen,"—as he saw that steady light of resolution shine through the veil of her tenderness—"it seems so queer to me that you really do anything."
"Well for a neatly turned compliment—"
"I mean it seems so queer you should really amount to anything."
"Now before you overwhelm me with further adulation, what are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about your being an artist. I can't get used to your being anything but Ernestine! That day last spring when we went to see your Salon picture, and when those chaps were talking to you, and I realised that they just simply accepted you as one of them—that you belonged, and that that was all there was about it—I, oh I had such a funny feeling that day. And now, a minute ago, when I saw that look, I had it again."
"Why, Karl, you don't mind, do you?"
"No, it's just that it seems queer. You see you're such a wonderful sweetheart, it's hard to think of you as anything else. I'll never forget that day over there. Something just seemed to leap up within you. I—well I think I was a little scared—or was I awed? Something that was shining from your eyes made me feel things in my backbone."
"But you're glad?" she laughed.
"Of course I'm glad; and I'm proud. But it's—queer."
She smiled at him understandingly; the understandingness of her smile always went beyond her words. It was a beautiful face upon which he watched the play of lights, saw the changing currents of thought and dreams and purpose. But the thing most rare in it, that which made one quite forget accepted standards, was the steadfastness with which a certain great light shone through the aura of her tenderness. There were moments in which she transcended both her beauty and her beauty's weaknesses.
As the flower to the sun, naturally, quietly, inevitably, she had expanded under the breath of life. With the fullness of a rich nature she had responded to the touch of the spirit of living. Love loved her for what she had been able to take.
And in the year which had passed, life, with tender rather than defacing lines, had put upon her face the touch of sorrow. Europe meant more to her than an Old World civilisation, more than tradition, beauty or art. It even meant more than the place where she had spent those first dear months of her love. It meant to her the place where she had hoped with woman's dearest hope, and where she had given up the child which should have been hers. Her tenderest, deepest thoughts were not of the wonders and beauties she had seen; they were of the dreams within, of the holy happiness of first knowledge, and then the grief in giving up the much desired, which she had known only in anticipation. The most cherished memories of their love were memories of those days in which he had comforted her, of the tenderness with which he had consoled, the strength with which he had upheld. Those hours had reached far into her soul, deepening it, giving her, as if in compensation, new channels for love, new understanding of those innermost things of life. But in those first days, even while the soul of the woman was deepening, the bruised heart was as the heart of a child. It was as a child she had been to him in those days, and he had comforted her as one would comfort an idolised child, whose hurt one strove to take wholly unto one's self. The memory of those hours knit them together as no other thing could have done.
Looking down at her face now he saw that look he had come to know—that far-away, frightened, wistful look. Very gently he laid his hand upon her knee.
"I am going to make you so happy. Life is going to be so beautiful," he said.
She smiled at him, but the tears were in it.
"Yes, Karl—I know. But now that we are coming home—together—alone, doesn't it seem—"
He turned away. The man had suffered too.
"And we are leaving it over there—over there, alone—away from us—the life that should have been—"
With that he turned resolutely back to her.
"Ernestine, isn't there another way to look at it? It came of our love, and now, dear, it has gone back into our love. It isn't something apart from us,—something gone. We have taken it back unto ourselves. It is here with us. The greater love we have—that is it, dear."
The flame of understanding leaped quickly to her eyes.
"Oh, I like that Karl," she whispered. "I like that better than anything you ever said."
She turned then and looked from the window. Across the fields, over near the horizon, she could see a little house. The smoke was curling from the chimney. The autumn twilight had come on and they had lighted the lamp. A bit of home! The tears came to her eyes—tears of tender anticipation. She too was to make a home. And was it not good to think that smoke was coming from many chimneys and many lamps were being lighted? Was it not good to feel that the dear world was full of homes?
To the man this coming back to Chicago, returning to his work after the year and a half he had been away, was charged with a happy significance. As they drew nearer and nearer, an impatience possessed him to begin at once; that desire of the worker to start in immediately. He had worked some over there, had done a few things which were most satisfactory, but he wanted now to settle down to actual work in his old place, 'with his own things. He fell to wondering if they had changed the laboratory, resentful at the possibility.
"Why look here, Ernestine," he suddenly burst forth, turning to her eagerly, "to-morrow's a school day, we're late getting home, everything is in swing—they're waiting for me, and, by Jove, I can just as well as not begin to-morrow!"
A woman who never made one feel things in one's backbone might have resented the quick, eager plunge into work, but Ernestine knew the love of work herself, and her eyes brightened to his spirit.
"But dear me, Karl," after a second's hesitation, "it seems you should take a day or two first."
"Why?" he demanded.
"Well,"—vaguely—"to get rested up."
"Rested up!" He stretched forth his arm and then doubled it back, and they both laughed. "That's a joke—my getting rested up. Why I feel like a fighting cock!"
"And crazy to get to work?"
"Getting that way. Oh, I tell you, Ernestine, there's nothing like it."
Again she did not mind; she understood. She looked at his glowing face, all alight with enthusiasm for the work to which he was going back. She was never tired of thinking how Karl's face was just what Karl's face should be—reflective of a clear-cut, far-seeing, deeply comprehending mind. It seemed all written there—all those things of mind and character, and something too of those other things—the things which were for her alone. Ernestine held that one could tell by looking at Karl that he was doing some great thing.
"But see here, Dr. Hubers, a nice way you have of shirking your domestic duties! Who is going to help me settle this famous house Georgia tells about?"
"I'll do it at night," he protested eagerly. "I'll work every night until the house is spick and span."
Ernestine sighed. "I have a sad feeling that our house never will be spick and span. But we'll have some fun,"—eagerly—"fixing it up."
"Of course we'll have fun fixing it up! Georgia's sure to be on hand, and I'll make old Parkman get busy too—do him good."
"I don't care about knowing a lot of men—"
"Well I should hope not"
"You didn't let me finish. I was going to say that Dr. Parkman is one man I do want to know."
"You'll like Parkman; and he'll like you. By Jove, he's got to! You mustn't mind if he snaps your head off occasionally. His life's made him savage, but even his life—he's had an awful one, Ernestine—couldn't make him vicious. He's the gruffest, snarliest, biggest man I ever knew—meaner than the devil, and the best friend on top of earth. And Lord, how he works! I don't know any other three men could swing the same load. And I tell you, Ernestine, he's great. There's not a better surgeon in all Europe. Parkman's a tremendous help to me. Oh, it's going to be great to get back!"
"We have some really nice things for our house," mused Ernestine. "I'm glad we decided to take that rug for the library. Of course it seemed pretty high, but a library without a nice rug wouldn't do at all—not for us."
"No—that's right—library without a rug—now I wonder if I am to have my old eight o'clock lecture hour? I want that hour! I want to get all the school business out of the way in the morning. I must have plenty of uninterrupted time for myself. I tell you what it is, Ernestine, I'm going to get it! What I saw over there of the other fellows makes me all the more sure of myself. And coming back now after being made all over new—you see there's such a thing as inspiration in my work, just as there is in yours. Of course it's work—work—work, work your way through this and that, but there's something or other that leads you on—and I know I'm going to do something now!"
"I know it too, Karl," she responded, and the steadfastness shone strong through the tenderness now. "We all know it."
"I've got to," he murmured—"got to." And then his whole mind seized upon it; some suggestion had come to him, some of that inspiration of which he had spoken. He sat there looking straight ahead, brows drawn, eyes sometimes half closing, occasionally nodding his head as he saw a point more clearly. He looked in such moments as though indeed made for conquest,—indomitable. One could almost feel his mind at work, could fancy the skillful cutting away of error, the inevitable working ahead to truth.
At last he turned to her. "There's no reason for not beginning to-morrow," he said, with the eagerness of a boy who would try a new gun or fishing rod. "There are a whole lot of things I want to get right at now."
"We'll just put our Russian friend back here in the corner, where the shelf suppresses him," said Georgia, who seemed to have accepted the self-appointed position of head cataloguer. "Some of the students might happen to call."
"This," said Dr. Parkman, who was dusting Gibbon's Rome, "is the sort of thing that is called the backbone of a library."
"Consequently," replied Georgia glibly, "we will put it up here on the top shelf. Nobody wants a library's backbone. It's to be had, not read. Now the trimmings, like our friend Mr. Shaw here, must be given places of accessibility."
The host was picking his way around among the contents of a box which he had just emptied upon the floor. The hostess was yielding to the temptation of an interesting bit which had caught her eye in dusting "An Attic Philosopher in Paris."
"Now here," said Dr. Hubers, picking up a thick, green book, "is Walt Whitman and that means trouble. No one is going to know whether he is prose or poetry."
"When art weds science," observed Georgia, "the resulting library is difficult to manage. Mr. Haeckel and Mr. Maeterlinck may not like being bumped up here together."
"Then put Haeckel somewhere else," said Ernestine, looking up from her book.
"No, fire Maeterlinck," commanded Karl.
"See," said Georgia—"it's begun. Strife and dissension have set in."
"I'm neither a literary man nor a librarian," ventured Dr. Parkman, "but it seems a slight oversight to complete the list of poets and leave Shakespeare lying out there on the floor."
"Got my Goethe in?" asked Karl, after Shakespeare had been left immersed in Georgia's vituperations.
"I think Browning and Keats are over there under the Encyclopedia Britannica," said Ernestine, roused to the necessity of securing a favourable position for her friends.
"Observe," said Georgia, "how they have begun insisting on their favourite authors. This is one of the early stages."
Ernestine, looking over their shoulders, made some critical remark about the place accorded Balzac's letters to Madam Hanska, which caused Georgia to retort that perhaps it would be better if people arranged their own libraries, and then they could put things where they wanted them. Then after she had given a resting place to what she denounced as some very disreputable French novels, she leaned against the shelves and declared it was time to rest.
"This function," she began, "will make a nice little item for our society girl. Usually she disdains people who do not live on the Lake Shore Drive, but she will have to admit there is snap in this 'Dr. and Mrs. Karl Ludwig Hubers,'"—pounding it out on a copy of Walden as typewriter—"' but newly returned from foreign shores, entertained last night at a book dusting party. Those present were Dr. Murray Parkman, eminent surgeon, and Miss Georgia McCormick, well and unfavourably known in some parts of the city. Rug beating and other athletic games were indulged in. The hostess wore a beautifully ruffled apron of white and kindly presented her guest with a kitchen apron of blue. Beer was served freely during the evening.'"
"Is that last as close as your paper comes to the truth?" asked Ernestine, piling up Emerson that he might not be walked upon.
"That last, my dear, is a hint—a good, straight-from-the-shoulder hint. I did it for Dr. Parkman. He looks warm and unhappy."
Dr. Parkman protested that while a little warm, he was not at all unhappy, but upon further questioning as to thirst was led into damaging admissions. So the little party divided, Georgia calling back over her shoulder that as the host was of Teutonic origin, there need be no fear about the newly stocked larder.
Left alone a curious change came over the two men. They had entered with the heartiness of schoolboys into the raillery of a few minutes before, but all of that dropped from them now, and as they pulled up the big chairs and Dr. Parkman's "Well?" brought the light of a great enthusiasm to the face of his friend, drawing him into the things he had been so eager to reach, one would not readily have associated them with the flippant conversation from which they had just turned.
For here were men who in truth had little time for the lighter, gayer things of life. They stood well to the front in that proportionally small army of men who do the world's work. "Tommy-rot!" Dr. Parkman had responded a few days before to a beautiful tribute some one was seeking to pay "The Doctor"—"A doctor is a man who helps people make the best of their bad bargains—and damned sick he gets of his job. A man must make a living some way, so some of us earn our salt by bucking up against the law of the survival of the fittest, thereby rendering humanity the beautiful service of encumbering the earth with the weak. If the medical profession would just quit its damn meddling, nature might manage, in time, to do something worth while."
But all the while, by day and by night, at the expense of leisure and pleasure,—often to the exclusion of sleep and food, he kept steadily at his "damn meddling,"—proving the most effective enemy nature had in that part of the country; and sadly enough—for his philosophy—he was even stripped of the vindication of earning his salt. In the one hour a day given to his business affairs, Dr. Parkman made more money than in the ten or twelve devoted to his profession. Men said he had financial genius, and he admitted that possibly he had, stipulating only that financial genius was an inflated name for devil's luck. He liked the money game better than poker, and played it as his pet dissipation, his one real diversion. But having more salt than he could use during the remainder of his days, did not tend toward an abatement of this war he waged against nature's ultimate design. He himself would analyse that as a species of stubbornness, an egotistic desire to see how good an interference he could establish, but he gave body and brain and soul to his meddling with a fire suspiciously like consecration.
They all knew that Dr. Parkman worked hard. Some few knew that he overworked, and a very few knew why. Of the personal things of his own life he never spoke, and though he was but fifty, his lined face and deep-set eyes made him seem much closer to sixty.
The two men were an interesting contrast; Dr. Parkman was singularly, conspicuously dark, while Karl Hubers was a true Teuton in colouring. Dr. Parkman was a large man, and all of him seemed to count for force. Something about him made people prefer not to get in his way. It was his hands spoke for his work—superbly the surgeon's hands, that magical union of power and skill, hands for the strongest grip and the lightest touch, lithe, sure, relentless, fairly intuitive. His hands made one believe in him.
With Karl it was the eyes told most. They seemed to be looking such a long way ahead, and yet not missing the smallest thing close at hand. As he talked now, his face lighted with enthusiasm, it occurred to Dr. Parkman that Hubers was a curious blending of the two kinds of men there were behind him. Some of those men had been fighters and some had been thinkers, but Karl was the thinker who fights. He had drawn from both of them, and that gave him peculiar fitness for the work he was doing. It was work for the thinker, the scholar, but work which must have the fighting blood. Even his appearance bore the mark of the two kinds of things bequeathed him. He had the well-knit body of the soldier, the face of the student. He was not a large man, but he gave the sense of large things. He had the slight stoop of the laboratory, but when interested, aflame, he straightened up and was then in every line the man who fights. His eyes, to the understanding observer, told the story of much work with the microscope. They were curiously, though not unattractively, unlike. The left he used for observations, the right for making the accompanying drawings. That gave them a peculiarity only the man of science would understand.
The things which the two men radiated were different things. One felt their different adjustment toward life. Dr. Parkman had turned to hard work as some men turn to strong drink, to submerge himself, to take him out of himself, to make life possible; while with Karl Hubers, work and life and love were all one great force. Dr. Parkman worked in order that he might not remember; Karl in order that he might fulfill.
Their friendship had begun ten years before in Vienna, one of those rare friendships which seem all the more intimate because formed in a foreign land; a friendship taking root in the rich soil of kindred interests,—comradeship which drew from the deep springs of understanding. To come close to Karl's work had been one of the real joys of Dr. Parkman's very active but very barren life.—He loved Karl; his own heart was wrapped up in the work his friend was doing. And the doctor meant much to Karl; had done much for him. The one was the man of affairs; the other the man of thought; they supplemented and helped each other. As the practicing physician, Dr. Parkman could see many things from which the laboratory man would be shut out. He was Karl's channel of communication with the human side of the work. And Karl gave Parkman his complete confidence; that was why there was so much to tell now. He must go over the story of his year's work, touch upon his plans, his new ideas. And the doctor had something to say of the observations he had made for Karl; he told of an operation day after to-morrow he must see and said he had several cases worth watching.
"You will have to come out to the laboratory," Karl finally urged. "We can't begin to get at it here."
"We're forgetting the hungry and thirsty men," said Georgia, after they had been eagerly chatting across the kitchen table for ten or fifteen minutes. But Ernestine said it did not matter. She knew what was going on in the library and how glad they were of their chance. She and Georgia too had much to discuss: the work done in Europe, Georgia's work here, how splendid Karl was, what a glorious time they had had, something of the good times they would all have together here, and then this house which Georgia had found for them and into which they had gone at once.
"I knew well enough," she said, buttering a sandwich in order to stay her conscience, "that you and Karl didn't belong in a flat. There couldn't be a studio and a laboratory and library and various other exotic things in a flat. But only old settlers and millionaires live in detached houses here, so please appreciate my efforts. I thought this place looked like you—not that you're exactly old-fashioned and irregular."
"I liked it at once. Big enough and interestingly queer, and not savouring of Chicago enterprise."
"Not that there is anything the matter with Chicago enterprise," insisted Georgia.
"You like Chicago, don't you, Georgia?"
"Love it! I know one doesn't usually associate love with Chicago, but I love even its abominations. You know I had a tough time here, but I won out, and most of us are vain enough to be awfully fond of the place where we've been up against it and come out on top. I haven't forgotten the days when I edited farm journals and wrote thirty-cent lives of great men and peddled feature stories from office to office, standing with my hand on door knobs fighting for nerve to go in, but now that it is all safely tucked away in the past, I'm not sorry I had to do it. It helps one understand a few things, and when new girls come to me I don't tell them, as I was told, that they'd better learn the millinery trade or do honest work in somebody's kitchen. None of that kind of talk do they get from me!"
It was always absorbing to see Georgia very much in earnest. Her alert face kept pace with her words, and her emphatic little nods seemed to be clinching her thought. People who had good cause to know, said it was just as well not to turn the full tide of her emotions to wrath. She was a little taller than Ernestine, very quick in her movements, and if one insisted on an adverse criticism it might be admitted she was rather lacking in repose. The people who liked her, put it the other way. They said she was so breezy and delightful. But even friendship could not deny her freckles, nor claim beauty for her bright, quick face.
They seemed to fall naturally into more serious things when they met over what Georgia called the evening bite. Although differing so widely, they were homogeneous in that all were workers; they touched many things, their talk live with differences.
"How do you like it?" asked Ernestine, following Dr. Parkman's eyes to her favourite bronze, a copy of Mercie's Gloria Victis, which she had unpacked just that day and given a place of honour on the mantel.
"It's so Christian," he objected laughingly.
"Oh, but is it?"
"A defeated man being borne aloft? I call it the very essence of Christianity. I can see submission and renunciation and other objectionable virtues in every line of it."
"Go after it, Parkman," laughed Karl. "Ernestine and I all but came to blows over it. I wanted her to buy a Napoleon instead. I tell her there is no glory in defeat."
"I don't think of it as the glory of defeat," said Ernestine. "I think of it as the glory of the conquered."
"But even so, Ernestine," said Georgia, who had been looking it over carefully, "there's no real glory. When I fall down on an assignment, I fall down, and that's all there is to it—at least my city editor thinks so. If Dr. Parkman doesn't win a case, he loses it. His efforts may have been very worthy—but gloria's surely not the word for them. Or take a football game," she laughed. "Sometimes the defeated team really does better work than the winners—but wouldn't we rather our fellows would win on a fluke than go down to defeat putting up a good, steady fight? The thing is to get there!"
"In football or in life," laughed Karl. "Defeat furnishes good material to the poets and the artists, but none of us care to have the glory of the conquered apply to us."
They were all looking at the bronze and Ernestine looked from one face to another, trying to understand why it moved none of them as it had her. Karl's face was very purposeful tonight, reflecting the stimulus of his talk with his friend. Filled with enthusiasm for this fight he was making, he had no eye in this hour for the triumph of the vanquished.
"Why I don't want to submit," he laughed just then. "I want to win!"
"An idea which has done a great deal of harm," observed Dr. Parkman. "That 'you'll-get-your-reward-somewhere-else' doctrine is the worst possible armour for life. The poets, of course, have always coddled the weak, but I see more poetry in the to-hell-with-defeat spirit myself."
That too she could understand—a simple matter of the arrogance of the successful.
And with Georgia it was that thing of "getting there"—the world's hard and fast standards of success and failure.
She too turned to the statue. Were they right, and she wrong? Was it just the art of it, the effectiveness, which moved her, and was the thought back of it indeed weakening sentimentality?
"Defend it, Ernestine," laughed Karl; and then, affectionately, seeing her seriousness, "Tell us what you see in it."
Dr. Parkman turned from the statue to her. He never forgot her face as it was then.
He had decided during the evening that her great charm was her exquisite femininity; she seemed to have all those graces of both mind and body which make for perfect loving. It was the world force of love, splendidly manifest in gentleness, he had felt in her first. But now something new flamed up within her. Here was power—power moving in the waves of passion through the channel of understanding. Her face had grown fairly stern in its insistence.
"But don't you see The keynote of it is that stubborn grip on the broken sword. I should think every fighter would love it for that. And it is more than the glory of the good fight. It is the glory of the unconquerable will. Look at the woman's face! The world calls him beaten. She knows that he has won. I see behind it the world's battlefields—'way back from the first I see them all, and I see that the thing which has shaped the world is not the success or failure of individual battles one-half so much as it is this wresting of victory from defeat by simply breathing victory even after the sword has been broken in the hand. What we call victory and defeat are incidents—things individual and temporal. The thing universal and eternal is this immortality of the spirit of victory. Why, every time I look at that grip on the broken sword,"—laughing now, but eyes shining—"I can feel the world take a bound ahead!"
ERNESTINE IN HER STUDIO
The next morning she went to work. She had never wanted anything with quite the eagerness that she wanted to work that morning.
"What I want to know is," Georgia had demanded the night before, "did either of you do any work? I hear a great deal about quaint little villages and festive cafes, but what did you actually do?"
Now if Georgia were only here to repeat the question, she could answer jubilantly: "What did I do? Why, I got ready for this morning! Wasn't that a fine year's work?"
It had seemed queer at first. "Why don't I work," she would ask Karl, "now that I am here where I always wanted to be?" But Karl would only laugh, and say that was too obvious to explain. Once he had talked a little about it. "I wouldn't worry, liebchen. Isn't it possible that the creative instinct is being all used up? It's your dream time, sweetheart. It's your time to do nothing but love. After a while you'll turn to the work, and you'll do things easily then that were hard to do before."
How had he known? For nothing had ever been more true than that. She knew this morning that she could do things easily now which had been hard to do before.
One of the very best things about this curious, old-fashioned house was that it had an attic which had all the possibilities of a studio. Just a little remodeling—and Paris itself could do no better.
To that attic she turned just as soon as Karl had gone over to the university. Her things had been carried up; now for a fine morning of sorting them out! But instead of attacking the unpacking and sorting and arranging she got no farther than a book of her sketches. Sitting down on the floor she spread them all around her.
Despite the fact that she had not at once settled down to serious work, she made sketches everywhere, just rough, hasty little things—"bubbles of joy" she called them to Karl. It seemed now that these were counting for more than she had thought. Everything was counting for more than she had thought!
Something of the joy of it carried her back to the days when she was a little girl and had had such happy times with her blackboard. The thought came that now, out of her great happiness, she must pay back to the blackboard all that it had given her in those less happy days. Work was but the overflow of love!
During the last five months, when Karl had been working in Paris, she had studied with Laplace. He had taken her in at once, rejoiced in her and scolded her. One day in an unguarded moment he said she knew something about colour. No one remembered his ever having said a thing like that before. And Ernestine had seen a teardrop on his face when he stood before her picture of rain in the autumn woods. That teardrop was very precious to her. It seemed she could work years on just the memory of it.
So there were many reasons why she felt like working this morning. All the loving and the living and the dreaming and the thinking and the working of a lifetime! Karl had understood. Her dream time! She loved that way of putting it. Beautiful days to be cherished forever! How rich she was in the things she had known! How unstinted love had been with her! She wanted now to give with that same largeness, that same overwhelming richness, with which she had received. Enthusiasm and desire and joy settled to fixed purpose. She began upon actual work.
She kept at it until late in the afternoon. She had never had such a day, and the great thing about it was that it seemed a mere beginning, just an opening up. A new day had dawned; a day which meant, not the death of the dream days, but their reincarnation into life. Those hours when she sat idly beneath blue skies, looking dreamily out upon beautiful vistas it seemed she should have been painting—how well, after all, they had done their work! Dreams which she had not understood were making themselves plain to her now. The love days were translating themselves in terms of life and work. She wanted to glorify the world until it should be to all eyes as the eyes of love had made it to her.
Laplace had said once it was too bad she had married. She thought of that now, and smiled. She was sorry for any one who thought it too bad she had married!
And then Karl telephoned. Would she come over to the university? He had been wanting to show her around, and this would be a good time. She dressed hurriedly, humming a little song they had heard often in Paris.
SCIENCE, ART, AND LOVE
From his window in the laboratory he saw her as she was coming across the campus, and waved. She waved back, and then wondered if it were proper to wave at learned professors who were looking from their windows. In one sense it was hard to comprehend that it was her Karl who was such an important man about this great university. Karl was so completely just her Karl, so human and dear, and a great scientist seemed a remote abstraction. She must tell that to Karl. He would enjoy himself as a remote abstraction.
She was still smiling about Karl's remoteness as she came into the building. He had come down to meet her. "You see I thought you might get lost," he explained.
"I might have," she responded, and then laughed, for when people are very happy it is not at all difficult to laugh.
"Do you know what you look like?" he said. "You look like a kind of spiritualised rainbow—or like the flowers after the rain."
"I dressed in five minutes," said Ernestine, smoothing down her gown with the complacency of a woman who knows she has nothing to fear from scrutiny.
"As if that had anything to do with it! You dress as the birds and flowers dress—by just being yourself."
She let that bit of masculine ignorance pass with a wise little smile.
They were in the laboratory now. "I came," said Ernestine severely, "to listen to an elucidation of the mysteries of science."
"Then you had no business to come looking like this," he responded promptly.
She was looking around the room. "And this is where all those great things are done?"
"Um—well this is where we make attempts at things."
He was not quite through, and Ernestine sat down by the window to wait for him. It seemed surprising, somehow, that it should be such a simple looking room. Karl was doing something with some tubes, writing something on a chart-like thing. Something in the expression of his face as he bent over the work carried her back to other days.
"Karl," she said abruptly, "why don't you and I have any quarrels about which is greater—science or art?"
He looked up at her in such absolute astonishment that she laughed.
"Liebchen," he said, "don't you think that would be going a long way out of our road to hunt a quarrel? Now I can think up much better subjects for a quarrel than that. For instance: Do I love you more than you love me, or do you love me more than I love you? Your subject makes me think of our old debating society. We used to get up and argue in thunderous tones something about which was worse—fire or water!"
"But Karl—it isn't logical that you and I should love each other this way!"
He pushed back his work and turned squarely around to her. He was smiling in his tenderly humorous way. "Well, sweetheart," he said, "would you rather be logical, or would you rather be happy?"
"Oh, I'm not insisting upon the logic. I'm just wondering about it."
"Isn't love greater than either a test tube or a paint brush?" Karl asked softly.
She nodded, smiling at him lovingly.
He sat there looking a long way ahead. She knew he was thinking something out. "Ernestine," he began, "do you ever think much about the oneness of the world?"
"Why, yes—I do, but I didn't suppose you did."
"But, liebchen—who would be more apt to think about it than I? Doesn't my work teach oneness more than it teaches anything else? All the quarrelling comes through a failure to recognise the oneness. I often think of the different ways Goethe and Darwin got at evolution. Goethe had the poetic conception of it all right; Darwin worked it out step by step. Who's ahead? And which has any business scoffing at the other?"
He went back to his notes, and her thoughts returned to the battles she had heard fought in the name of science. She looked about the room, out at the great buildings all around, and then back to Karl, who seemed soul of it all. How different all this was! What would her father think to hear a man like Karl Hubers giving to a poet place in the developing of the theory of evolution? What was the difference between Karl and her father? Was it that the school to which they belonged was itself changing, or was it just a difference in type? Or, perhaps, most of all, was it not a difference in degree? Her father had only seen a little way, and that down a narrow path bounded by high walls of bigotry. Karl had reached the heights from which he could see the oneness! And was it not love had helped him to those heights?
A little later, when Karl was seeking to explain what he evidently regarded as a very simple little thing, and just as a few glimmers of light were beginning to penetrate her darkness, she looked up and at the half open door saw a boy whose consternation at sight of her made it difficult for Ernestine to repress a smile.
"Come in, Beason," said Karl, who had just noticed him. "I want you to meet Mrs. Hubers." Ernestine looked at Karl suspiciously—something in his voice signified he was enjoying something.
But there was nothing about Mr. Beason which signified any kind of enjoyment. He advanced to meet her sturdily, as one determined to do his duty at any cost. The boy was rendered peculiar in appearance by an abnormally long, heavy jaw, which gave his face a heavy, stolid appearance which might or might not be characteristic. He had small, sharp eyes, and Ernestine was quite sure from one look at his face that he did not laugh often, or see many things to laugh about.
He was not impenetrable to graciousness, however, for within five minutes he had told her that he was born in southern Indiana, that he lived in Minneapolis now, and that he had come to Chicago to get some work with Dr. Hubers. Upon hearing that Ernestine immediately noticed what a remarkably intelligent face he had, and felt sure that that heavy jaw gave him a phlegmatic look which was most misleading.
Karl laughed as the boy went away. "Funny fellow—Beason. He'll have to cut away a lot of the trees before he gets a good look at the woods. Never in his life has one gleam of humour penetrated him. In fact if a few humour cells were to creep in by mistake, they'd be so alien as to make a tremendous disturbance."
"He seems to think a great deal of you," said Ernestine, a little reproachfully.
"Oh, yes; and I like him. I like the fellow first rate. He's a splendid worker—conscientious, absolutely to be depended upon. 'Way ahead of lots of these fellows around here who think they know it all. But he has those uncompromising ideas about science; ready to fight for it at the drop of the hat. Oh, Beason's all right. We need his sort. I'll tell you whom I do want you to meet, Ernestine, and that's Hastings. You'll like him. He's such a success as a human being. He's more like the old-time professor of the small college, has a fatherly, benevolent feeling toward all the students. You see we're so big here that we haven't many of the small college characteristics about us. It's each fellow doing his own work, and not that close comradeship that there is in the small school. But Hastings is a connecting link. Then, on the other hand, there's Lane. You must meet him too, for he's a rare specimen: pedantic, academic; I don't know just why they have him, he doesn't represent the spirit of the place at all. He's entirely too erudite to be of much use. But I'll let Parkman tell you about Lane. Oh, but he hates him! They met here in the laboratory one day and upon my soul I thought Parkman was going to pick him up and throw him out the window."
As they were looking through the general laboratory they met Professor Hastings, and she could see at once what Karl meant. He was apparently a man of about sixty, and kindness was written large upon him. Ernestine could fancy his looking after students who were ill, and trying to devise some way of helping the poverty-stricken boy through another year in college.
They left the building and sauntered slowly across the campus. Almost in the centre of the quadrangle Ernestine stopped and looked all around. She was beginning to feel what it was for which the University of Chicago stood. It was not "college life," all those things vital to the undergraduate heart, which this university suggested. She fancied there might be things the undergraduate would miss here; she was even a little glad her own college days had been spent at the smaller school. As she stood looking about at building upon building she had visions, not of boys and girls singing their college songs, but of men and women working their way toward truth. She looked from one red roof to another, and each building seemed to her a separate channel through which men were working ahead to the light. It was a place for research, for striving for new knowledge, for clearing the way. She turned her face for the moment to the north; there was great Chicago, where men fought for wealth and power, Chicago, with all the enthusiasm of youth, and the arrogance of youthful success, with all the strength of youthful muscle, all the power and possibility of young brain and heart. This seemed far away from the Board of Trade, from State Street and Michigan Avenue. But was not the spirit of it all one? This, too, was Chicago, the Chicago which had fought its way through criticism, indifference and jeers to a place in the world of scholarship. People who knew what they were talking about did not laugh at the University of Chicago any more. It had too much to its credit to be passed over lightly. Men were doing things here; she felt all about her the ideas here in embryo. How would they develop? Where would they strike? What things now slumbering here would step, robust and mighty, into the next generation?
And greatest of all these was Karl! She turned to him with flushed, glowing face. He had been watching her, following much of her thought. "I like this place," she said—her eyes telling all the rest. "I was not sure I was going to, but I do."
AS THE SURGEON SAW IT
"But, Karl, you must!"
"I tell you, my dear, I can't!"
"Well, I think it's just—"
"Now, Ernestine,"—in tones maddeningly calm and conciliatory—"you go on down to Parkman's office and I'll come just as soon as I can. Now be sensible—there's a good girl."
"Well, I call it mean!"—this after hanging up the receiver. "I don't care,"—still talking into the telephone, as if there were satisfaction in having something understand—"it's not nice of Karl."
They had an engagement with Dr. Parkman for dinner at his club, to meet some people he wanted her to know, and now Karl had telephoned from the laboratory at the last minute that he was not ready to leave and for her to go on down alone.
"And he'll come late—and not dressed—and they'll think,"—she went over and sat down by the window to enjoy the mournful luxury of contemplating just what they would think.
Couldn't he go over to the laboratory a little earlier in the morning and finish up this terribly important thing? Was it nice of a man to have people being sorry for his wife? Was it considerate of Karl to ask her to put on this pearl-coloured dress and then let her go down in the train all alone?
She would telephone Dr. Parkman that they could not come. Then Karl would be sorry! But no—severely and with dignity—she would show that one member of the family had some sense of the conventions. Oh, yes—this in long-suffering vein—she would do her part, and would also do her best to make up for Karl. No doubt she might as well become accustomed to that first as last.
Going down in the train she had a very clear picture of herself as the poor, neglected wife of the man absorbed in his work. She saw so many reasons for being unhappy. Was it kind the way Karl had told her in that first letter about some other woman in his life, and then had never so much as revealed to her that other woman's name? Where did this woman live? When had Karl known her? How well had he known her? And all the while her sense of humour was striving to make attacks upon her and the consciousness in her inmost heart that all this was absurd and most unworthy only made her the more persistently forlorn.
She had never been to Dr. Parkman's office, and she was not very familiar with Chicago—had it never occurred to Karl she might get lost and have some unfortunate experience? But fate did not favour her mood, and she reached the office in safety. Dr. Parkman did not seem at all surprised at seeing her alone, which flamed the fire anew.
"He hasn't backed out?" he demanded, laughing a little.
She explained with considerable dignity that her husband had been detained at the laboratory, that he regretted it exceedingly, but would be with them just as soon as circumstances permitted.
He took her into his private office, and Ernestine was too sincere a lover of beautiful things to be wholly miserable in a room like that.
"Why, this doesn't look like an office," she exclaimed. "It's more like a pet room in a beautiful home."
He laughed, not mirthfully.
"I hardly think you could call it that, but this is where I spend a good deal of my time, so I tried to make it livable."
He was busy at his desk, and she watched his hands. She was thinking that she would like to paint a picture and call it "The Surgeon." She would leave the man's face and figure in shadow, concentrating the light upon those hands, letting them tell their own story.
The whole man stood for force. She was sure that he always had his way about things, that he simply took for granted having his own way. Yet there was something in which he had not had his way. Karl had told her a little about that; she must ask him more about it. It seemed suddenly that there was something pathetic about this beautiful room. Did it not reflect a man trying to make up to himself for the things he did not have? It was a room which suggested pleasant hours and fine, quiet enjoyment. The deep, leather chairs seemed made for long, intimate conversations. The dark red tapestry, the oak panelling, this richly toned rug, the few real pictures, the little odds and ends suggestive of remote corners of the world—it seemed a setting for some beautiful companionship, some close sympathy, a place where one would like to sit for hours and be just one's self. But was not Dr. Parkman's life lacking in the very things of which this bespoke an appreciation? There was a subtle pathos in a beautiful room which breathed loneliness. She thought of their own library at home, quick to sense the difference.
The doctor went into an adjoining room, and her thoughts were broken by the low murmur of voices. Then the inner door opened; he was showing a man through to the outer office. The man stumbled over the rug, and at his exclamation Ernestine looked up. Her own face paled; she half rose from her chair;—the native impulse to do something. She looked at Dr. Parkman. His face was entirely masked. The man passed into the outer room, leaving behind him something which caused Ernestine's heart to beat fast.
The doctor walked slowly over to his chair and sat down. He seemed unconscious of her for a moment, and then he looked at her and saw that she had seen and that she wanted to know.
"You'd think a man would get used to it," he said in his short, gruff way. "You'd think it would become a matter of course, but it doesn't. That man's wife is dying of cancer. It's not an operable case. I told him that to-day. He asked for the truth and I gave it. I even gave my estimate of the time." He swung his chair around and looked out at the roof of the building below, and then turned sharply back to her. "You said a while ago that this looked like a home. Well, it's not. It's like a good many other things—empty show. Where that man lives, it's not much for looks, but it is a home, and this means—breaking it up. In there a minute ago, I told him he had to lose the only thing in life he cares anything about. He—oh, well!" and with one of his abrupt changes, he turned away.
But Ernestine was leaning forward in her chair. Her lips were parted. Her eyes were very dark.
"Cancer—you say, doctor?"—her voice was so low he could barely catch it. "Cancer?"
He nodded, looking at her intently.
"But that's what Karl's working on! That's what Karl's doing this very minute!"
"Yes, and do you ever think of it like that? Do you ever think of the lives and homes he is going to save; the tragedies and heartbreaks he is going to avert; the children he is going to keep from being motherless or fatherless if he does do this thing?—and I believe with all my heart he will! I tell you, Mrs. Hubers, you want to help him! I'm not sorry you saw that little thing just now. It will show you the other side of it—the human side. And there wasn't anything unusual in it. All over the world, physicians are doing this same thing every day—telling people it's hopeless, admitting there's nothing to be done. Then think of the tremendousness of this work Karl Hubers is doing!—where it strikes—the hearts breaking for it—the thousands praying for it! Is it any wonder we're watching it? Interested? I tell you we know what it means."
She was unconscious of the tear on her cheek, of the quivering of her face.
"And Karl is doing that? That is what Karl's work means?"
"Karl's work simply means giving into our hands the power to save more lives. Now we're doing the best we can with what we have—but God knows we're short on power! We're groping around in the dark. Karl's work means letting in the light."
His voice had grown warm. Something had fallen from him—leaving him himself. In his eyes was a wealth of unspeakable feeling.
"Doctor, I want to thank you!"—but it was her face thanked him most eloquently.
She was glad when he left her for a minute before they finally went away. Her heart was very full. This was Karl! This the real meaning of Karl's work! To think she had looked at it in that small, paltry way—that even in her thoughts she had put the slightest stumbling block in his path. This very afternoon had come new inspiration and she had resented it, had said small, mean things in her heart because he stayed to work out his precious thoughts. Why, it would have been fairly criminal for Karl to run away from that call of his work!
She wanted to tell him all about it; she yearned to "make it up to him," make him more happy than he had ever been before. She dwelt upon it all until, when Dr. Parkman came in for her, he was startled at the light shining from her face.
KARL IN HIS LABORATORY
One of their favourite speculations, as the days went on, was as to whether any one had ever been so happy before. They argued it from all sides, in a purely unprejudiced and dispassionate manner, and always arrived at the conclusion that of course no one ever had. "Because," Ernestine would say, "no one ever had so many reasons for being happy." "And if they had," he would respond, "they would have said something about it."