Gamaliel Bradford.

Between two masters online

. (page 1 of 17)
Online LibraryGamaliel BradfordBetween two masters → online text (page 1 of 17)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


c^o . $,.l^1?)vV \X



•^^. ..^^






Wu^-'O^rMiiC^VtSs l '








Published April igob

< c c e

, t i i
lift e

,*e ««C

* : ^ *

«^ « «

«, * t


S. H. B.



An Offer of Millions .



A Game of Billiards ....



Gloria .....

• 30


The Reverend Marcus



Milly declines ....

. 51


Coppers ......



" I step down and out "

. 76


Robertsville .....



A Jester's Wooing

. 98


A Canoe Accident ....



Harvey's Philanthropy . . :



The Fleshpots .....



A Golf Tournament . . . ,



The Crackling of Thorns .



Mrs. O'Brien



Harvey explains ....



Tainted Money . . . . .



The Settlement ....



The Baiting of Diana . . . ,



Mr. Phelps's Will ....



Impertinent Questions . . . .



The Personal Element



XXIII. Diana and Marcus .... 252

XXIV. The End of the O'Briens ... 265
XXV. The Everlasting Arms .... 279

XXVI. " Go ask her To-morrow " . . 286

XXVII. The Windflower ..... 294

XXVIII. The Coming of the Tide . . . 309

XXIX. Milly 324

XXX. Diana ...... 332





On a warm October evening Amos K. Phelps and
his brother's son Harvey sat and smoked in the
great dining-room of Amos's house on Common-
wealth Avenue.

The uncle was a man of something over fifty, slight
in build, very handsome and dignified in his evening
dress, hair already quite gray, skin as dark as an In-
dian's, eyes dark, shrewd, penetrating, the face smooth,
except for a soft, gray mustache. The nephew was
a young fellow, as dark as his uncle, but of a very
different figure, tall, broad-shouldered, stoutly mus-
cled, making even slight movements with the soft
ease of strength. His clean-shaven face was full, the
features a trifle heavy, yet by no rrieans unintelligent,
and touched with a singularly winning frankness
when he smiled.

The uncle opened the conversation, speaking in a
quiet, even tone, with the deliberateness of a man


who means never to regret anything he has uttered.
" Well, my boy, it looks like the beginning of life
for you now. Twenty-two years old, college over, a
long summer's vacation doing nothing."

Harvey took his cigar out of his mouth, as if to
remonstrate, but he thought better of it.

"I know," continued Amos. *Tf you prefer, we
won't say doing nothing ; but teaching boys to row
and swim in a summer camp is hardly a serious pur-
suit. Of course, without saying very much about it,
I've always hoped that when this time came you
would go into business with me. That 's always been
the understanding, I suppose. You 've been my boy
ever since your parents died, and if I 'd had a son of
my own I could n't have loved him any better, and
no son of my own could have behaved better to
me. Now, I think, we should begin to talk about
the future."

Harvey Phelps was not the sort of man who speaks
easily, and it was with an evident efiort that he made
the response which seemed to be demanded of him.
*' You 've been awfully good to me, Uncle Amos. I
don't know what I 've done to deserve it."

*' Well, not so good as that comes to either," the
uncle answered. ''You have your own income, —
not much, but enough to live on. You could have
got along without me, I suppose. I 'm willing to call


it square, so far. But you won't want to loaf forever
on two thousand dollars a year. It's the future we
must think about, my boy, — the future."

Harvey looked, listened, smoked, — and said no-

" The future," Amos repeated, a little more slowly.
"I 've always lived in it, — perhaps too much." Then
he went on in his ordinary business-like tone : " I 'm
fifty-three years old. When I was your age I had
nothing, and no prospect of anything. I was clerking
it on a small salary for Williams & Harding, bank-
ers and brokers. Before I was thirty, by two or three
turns of extraordinary luck, I was a partner in the
house, making money by handfuls. Now I 'm the
senior partner of my own house, worth from six to
seven millions. For the last five years I Ve had it
in my head all the time that you should succeed me
and carry on the business. I believe you 're just the
one to do it. Mind you, Harvey, I don't care about
money in itself. I don't care to hoard it, and I 've
no taste for spending it. All this sort of thing" — he
lifted his hand lightly towards the table with its spar-
kling glass and silver — '' means very little to me. The
women like it I built this house to please them ;
but I should be just as contented myself in the story-
and-a-half cottage where I was born. It's the suc-
cess that counts, — to be all the time reaching after


something bigger and getting it, — to lay long plans
and carry them out just as you foresaw them, — to
put your hand on men and things and feel them
give." He stretched out his thin, dark, strong fingers
and closed them slowly, as if the world were yielding
to his grip.

*' Lately, since I 've had this heart trouble, which
may carry me off at any time, you 've been in all my
plans," he went on. "I feel, somehow, that you've
got it in you, and we can work together. And I want
to leave the business and the name associated, after
I 'm gone. I did hope I should have a son, — a child
of my own, at any rate ; but that was denied me.
Of course, there 's Ethel. When I married Mrs. Har-
per, Ethel was hardly more than a baby, and she 's
been almost like my own daughter, especially since
your aunt died. She 's a good girl — and very nearly
your age, Harvey ; of course, I shall provide for her
amply, — and sometimes I have thought" —

He did not finish the sentence. Again Harvey
seemed about to speak, but he took a long pull at
his cigar instead.

Once more Mr. Phelps continued the conversation.
**Well, there it is. It's a good opening for you.
There 's no doubt about that. You '11 have to begin
at the bottom at first, till you know the ways and get
the hang of the street. But that won't last long. I 'm



I sure you Ve got it in you. You '11 go to the top in no
time. Now, then, what do you say ? "

Evidently it was impossible for the young man to
keep silent any longer. Yet it was equally evident
that he was reluctant to speak. He looked thought-
fully at the long ash on the end of his cigar, knocked
it off into the tray beside him, then looked at the end
of his cigar again.

" Uncle," he began at length, " it 's awfully hard
for me to put my ideas into shape. You know that."

Amos nodded.

" Whatever happens, I want you to feel that I
appreciate your kindness. Not one young fellow in
ten thousand has the chance you 're offering me, and
I 'm grateful."

Again a pause, which Amos this time showed no
disposition to break. He simply surveyed his nephew,
through the curling smoke, with quiet curiosity.

" The truth is" — Harvey made a desperate plunge
— "I have queer, fool doubts about whether it would
be quite right for me to do this."

" How right ?" was Amos's calm inquiry.

** If I try to say what I mean, you '11 suppose I 'm
finding fault with you, in some way, and I think
you 're one of the greatest men alive."

" Just go ahead with your ideas. Leave me out.
I want to get at the facts."


** Well, then, the last year or so I 've been looking
into things a little and I begin to wonder whether
our ways of doing are n't all wrong. These big trusts
and combinations, the graft, the boodle, the corrup-
tion in politics and big rich men taking mean advan-
tage of it — I Ve heard there's something infamous
at the bottom of every great fortune — there. Uncle
Amos, that's just what I didn't mean to say — it
sounds ungrateful, and I 'm not ungrateful."

*' I know it," answered Amos, without the faintest
trace of irritation or disturbance. " Go on."

'* These are n't my own ideas," Harvey continued,
with a little more confidence. " They 're just floating
in the air. I have n't made them mine. I may never.
But they 've got hold of me, and I think slowly, you
know. I 've got to work them out. I 'm not ready
yet to join the capitalist ranks for good and all."

Another pause. This time Harvey waited for his
uncle to break it.

** Well," said the latter, at last, ** I don't say but
you're right. These things weren't the fashion in
my day and I don't care much for them now. They
seem to me fanciful. Of course, every man has got
to draw his own line, and there are few men that
don't draw one somewhere. I 've alwaj^s drawn mine,
I know, hard and sharp. But life is a practical thing.
Most of this talk comes from ministers and teachers


— men who have never put through a business deal
in their Uves, and don't know what it means. You ' ve
got to do business by business methods. You 've got
to beat a rascal at his own game. We don't make
the politicians corrupt. We wish they were otherwise.
But they are what they are. You 've got to accept
them so, or get out. Some may get out. I don't."

Still Harvey did not seem quite satisfied. " But it
w^orks unfairly," he said. " The strong and the un-
scrupulous and the rich get the best of it. We pre-
tend to have justice in this country and give every
man his chance; but we don't."

" Nature does n't give every man a chance — very
few," suggested the millionaire.

" That 's just it. Nature is brutal. We ought to
be different. Of course, I 'm a child in these matters,
Uncle Amos. I don't even know what poverty and
suffering there is in the world. But somehow I seem
to have a strange feeling of it all about me. Things
seem wrong."

"And you want to make them right?" The in-
quiry was gentle and almost sympathetic, not a trace
of sarcasm in it. " It 's natural, at your age. But it 's
an old, old world, and the wrongs in it right slowly.
As for the poverty and suffering, we can do a little
to relieve them here and there ; but nine tenths of
them come from folly and improvidence and vice.


You talk of giving every man a chance. We do.
The man who is thrifty and self-denying and fore-
sighted gets his chance and profits by it. Every man
has a chance to show what is in him. Most men have
nothing in them."

Both smoked on in silence for a few moments.
Through the open window came the brassy blare of
a German band, playing a few blocks away.

" You must think I 'm a fool," said Harvey.

" No," answered his uncle ; ** though every man
has his moments of being a fool, and those not always
his worst moments either."

**The truth is," the young man continued, **I
haven't the least idea of finding fault with your
method of life or any man's. I don't know enough.
It would be too absurd. I 've never done anything
serious but play football. I want to look about me.
I want to learn. I want to make up my mind for my-
self as to all these things. But I don't feel ready
quite yet to give my whole life to the accumulation
of money."

" There 's just one thing," said Amos. " Is busi-
ness distasteful to you in itself? Do you feel that
you would prefer some other occupation?"

Harvey shook his head with a smile. '* That 's the
worst of it. I know I should like it. As you say, it
is n't the money, it 's the dealing with men, the work-


ing out of large schemes, the sense of mastery. I
don't want to do anything else. I want to do that.'*

Amos's answering smile had a gleam of quiet sat-
isfaction in it. *' Then why not at least make a trial ? "
he said. " Come into the office for six months. See
how bad we are. You 're not signing any articles.
You can leave when you like. You want to look
about you. How could you get a better opportu-

" You're tempting me," was Harvey's slow answer,
" and I 'm afraid you know it. Did any man who got
in there and succeeded ever get out?"

** Why not?"

'* Ah, indeed, why not? But do they?"

" Well," said Mr. Phelps, rising, " you know what
I should like in the matter. Think it over."

" Yes, sir, I will ; and I have no doubt I shall accept
your offer — for a time, at any rate."

After this, Amos retired to his private sitting-room,
and Harvey went upstairs to the library. There he
found Ethel Harper, his uncle's step-daughter, and
Miss Lucia Phelps, who had kept house for Amos
before his marriage and again since his wife's death.

Miss Phelps was a small, somewhat insignificant,
old lady, an excellent housekeeper, and a thorough-
going adorer of her brother, nephew, and niece, but
not conversationally or socially remarkable. Just at


present she was slumbering over the editorial col-
umns of the '' Transcript."

Ethel Harper was a large girl, with a certain gen-
eral resemblance in type to Harvey, — brown hair,
brown eyes, face rather full and a trifle slow and
heavy in expression, figure splendidly robust and
muscular. Her skin was as tanned as constant ex-
posure to wind and sun could make it.

** That 's right, Harvey," she began. " Do come
and wake me up. I know you 've been talking busi-
ness with papa. Talk football with me."

The future banker drew a long breath and shook
his shoulders. '' Don't mention football. I miss it
too much."

" I should think you would. Should n't I like to
play ! " Indeed she looked as if she might buck the
centre with considerable effect. " Can they beat Yale
without you at right tackle?" she went on.

'*I don't know, I'm sure. Football is my natural
atmosphere, and I'm jolted out of it. Let's talk of
something else. Why did n't you win the golf tour-

" Do you suppose I like to talk about that ? I had
an off day, practiced too much the day before, broke
my brassey on the third hole and had to take another
that didn't suit me. And then, it might be that the
other girl played better golf."


"It might be," agreed Harvey sympathetically.
" Still, you furnish a very good article."

** Thank you."

There was silence for a moment in the great library,
with its rows of glass-covered, gilt-backed, unread
books. Both the man and the girl were quicker with
their hands than with their tongues. Miss Lucia began
to sleep audibly.

''So, you're just off the Windflower?" inquired
Harvey. *' Good cruise ? "

"Perfect!" was the enthusiastic response. "We
went farther down than I 've ever been before, —
almost to Newfoundland. Such fog ! Papa pattered
about all day on deck in his oilskins. It did him a
world of good. He gets the stock quotations now by
wireless, so he 's more contented than he used to be.
We had a jolly big sea one day, — scared me blue.
Aunt Lucia's heart was in her bed-slippers, — poor
thing! Captain Jim has it in for you, Harvey, as
they say. He wants to know why you 've deserted
him like this, — says he can't run the ship without
you. I told him you were at a summer camp, doing
good. He said he hoped you would n't get notions.
Have you got notions?"

Harvey nodded, with mock melancholy. " I 'm
afraid I have, — a mild case."

" That 's too bad. What 's your variety ? "


" I 'm getting to think you and I have too good a
time in the world."

** Nonsense ! It 's every one's duty to have as good
a time as he can without hurting others."

*' Ah, but," said Harvey, though reluctantly, and
as if indisposed to preach, " don't we hurt others ?
There 's the point."

" I 'm sure I don't mean to," Ethel answered,
with entire good nature. '' I '11 take you a hundred
miles in my auto before long and blow all this out
of you."

** To be sure, the new auto." The change of sub-
ject was accepted with evident relief. "An 'Excel-
sior,' is it? How does she go?"

"The best ever. When she's running over forty
the motion just rocks you to sleep."

" Does it, now ? Smell much ? "

"Not a bit. You might be riding on a bed of

" I know that kind. Ever hang up ? "

"No. That is, of course you might burst a tire.
And the other day something in the gearing went
on strike for a while. We don't want to have too
good a time in the world, you know. You must ex-
pect those little things."

" I should."

Harvey was wonderfully contented. It was his


nature to be contented, and it cost him an effort to
be otherwise. Physical ease was pleasant to him as
well as physical effort. It was pleasant to recline
almost at length in the great Morris chair and watch
his cousin's pleasant, tranquil countenance and the
graceful play of her firm figure in her semi-evening
frock of blue crepe. It was so natural to have a good
time in the world and had been so habitual with him,
until lately there had come up that vague spectre of
the others.

''Just wait and see," Ethel went on. "Some fine
day soon, I 'm going to take you and Milly a good
long ride."

"Milly?" repeated Harvey.

" Milly Erskine. Surely you remember her."

" I believe I did meet her here last year two or
three times. Is n't she the girl whose father went up
for half a million and then shot himself ? "

" Was n't it cruel of him ! "

"Was it?"

" Well, perhaps it would have made more trouble
if he had n't. But to leave his wife and daughter in
that way, instead of living and going to work and
taking care of them ! "

" They have to take care of themselves, then ? "

" Oh, they have something, I believe ; but Milly
has to teach in Miss Corliss's school, where she and


I used to go, you know. And she hates it and does
it beautifully. It seems too bad."

''Well, I'm not so sure," answered Harvey
thoughtfully. *' Do you think it would be so bad for
you, for instance ? "

" I do, indeed. Milly hates it, but she can do it.
I should hate it, and I could n't do it at all."

Once more there was silence. Miss Lucia had
made one or two ineffectual efforts to refix her
attention upon the "Transcript" and had subsided

" And the Reverend what 's his name," asked
Ethel, *'is he well?"

*' The Reverend what's his name is well," was the
deliberate reply.

" By the way, what is his name ? I always forget,"
continued the athletic cousin.

** Marcus Upham."

*' Do you know, Harvey, I 'm afraid he is n't very
good for you."

" Perhaps not."

** He 's thin, is n't he, and looks anxious, and
preaches in the pulpit and out of it, and has a ter-
rible sense of duty."

** He 's a good fellow."

" I don't question it. But that sort of thing is n't
suited to you and me."


" A sense of duty ? "

" A sense of duty is well enough, but it ought to
be quiet and reasonable and every day. It 's hard to
drag such a weight up on the heights. Perhaps you
think I might speak for myself."

Harvey frowned a little, not as if he were annoyed,
but as if he were puzzled. "I'm afraid you 're right,"
he said. '* But don't suppose I 've been on the heights
this summer. I 've taught a dozen boys to swim and
kept them out of mischief. That 's all."

At this point Miss Lucia made a definite effort to
rouse herself, with the evident desire of transferring
her slumbers to a more suitable resting-place. " Go-
ing, Harvey?" she asked.

"Well, no, I wasn't; but perhaps I'd better."

Miss Lucia protested civilly and Ethel decidedly.
" It must be so dismal over in those dreary chambers
all by yourself. Why don't you come and live here,
as you used to ? "

" We must n't have too good a time, you know,"
Harvey suggested. " I manage to worry along over
there. But I shan't forget your auto invitation," he
added, as he said good-night.



Two or three evenings after this, Ethel and her
friend Milly Erskine were in the great billiard-room
at the Phelps's. Both pool and billiards were avail-
able, but the girls had chosen the nobler and more
difhcult game. Ethel entered into billiards, as she
did into every sport, with all the solid application of
her nature. To her such things were the serious part
of life. Miss Erskine did not appear to regard any
part of life as very serious. She was a slight, fair per-
son, with deep blue eyes, which sparkled like little
waves in sunshine. Her hair floated softly about her
forehead. All her features were firm and delicate
now ; but it seemed likely that in twenty years they
would be rather sharp and angular.

Billiards is a pretty exercise for women, and any
judicious observer would have been charmed to watch
these two figures, in their light dinner gowns, Ethel's
green, Milly's gray, falling, with unconscious grace,
into the odd attitudes which the game demands.

" This is my natural atmosphere," said Milly, as


she stood back and chalked her cue, while Ethel,
with long deliberation, tried a difficult shot — and
missed it by a hair. '' I ought to live in it always.
I 'm too delicate to labor. These hands — this brain
— are they framed for toil ? Now you" —

" Oh, yes, I " — Ethel took her turn at the chalk,
" I don't say you would n't shine in any sphere. Miss
Erskine ; but you 're much more fit to work than I
am — at least, so far as brain goes. I might take in

Here she began a run of phenomenal successes,
which absorbed them both. When it ended, Ethel
spoke again. " Oh, but, Milly, it is such a shame ! "

"That you should beat your guest? I know it."

" Nonsense ! That you should have to teach : day
after day shoving stupid girls — such as I was —
through French verbs and La Tulipe Noire. You
ought to be in Washington, astonishing the diplo-
matic corps with American jokes, or the wife of the
minister in London — something distinguished, some-
thing startling. That 's what you were born for ; not
to waste your sweetness on a Boston finishing school."

Milly dropped the end of her cue with a bang.
" Ethel Harper, you are positively eloquent. To think
that my misfortunes should inspire such a burst of
glowing oratory ! But don't tantalize me. Ah, if only
I could live to enchant young diplomats in the dim


corners of half-lit conservatories and to wheedle
state secrets out of gray ambassadors by the magic
of my girlish charms ! Alas, such things are not to
be. And I shall be known to the rising generation
of men as that cross Erskine girl who teaches my
sister French. The pity of it ! Come, let 's forget
and play out the play."

So they played. Milly, who could do pretty much
anything she chose, gave her attention strictly to
business for a time, making a series of brilliant shots,
which put her in the lead. Then she grew indiffer-
ent again ; and Ethel, who was never inspired and
never indifferent, drew up quietly to where she was

" Harvey says," she began, dropping the bridge
back into its place, " Harvey says that perhaps it 's
rather a good thing for you to have to work, that it
might be a good thing for me too."

*' Harvey says so, does he ? Well, now, that 's in-
teresting. How did your cousin get such an idea
as that ? From what I Ve seen and heard of him, I
should hardly think it would have budded unassisted
in his own brain."

" You see Harvey 's made a friend."

** Indeed ? One who does n't eat at the training
table ? "

Ethel scored three and then answered quietly,


" You did n't seem to take to Harvey last winter,
Milly. I want you to. He 's got muscle, but he 's got
brains too, lots of them. And he's a good fellow.
He said he would come in to-night, with a friend of
his, and I hope he will. I want you to like him."

"I will. The friend, you mean?"

" No, Harvey." Here Ethel made a run of eleven
and won the game.

*' Let's sit down and talk about your cousin," said
Milly. ** I 'm not of your force in billiards."

So they sat down, Milly curling her feet under her
comfortably, in one of the great leather-covered arm-
chairs. " Is this friend who 's coming to-night the
one who supplies the ideas ? " she began.

" Not at all. That 's the Reverend Marcus some-

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Online LibraryGamaliel BradfordBetween two masters → online text (page 1 of 17)