“And so may he,” Phineas Duge answered, “but I am not sure that his time has come yet. You must let me think this over, gentlemen, until to-morrow morning. I will meet you with my broker and lawyer at ten o’clock at your office, Weiss, and if I make up my mind to go to Europe, my luggage will be on the steamer by that time. On the whole I might tell you that I am inclined to go.”
Weiss drew a great breath of relief. He poured himself out a glass of wine and drank it off.
“It’s good to hear you say that, Duge,” he said. “I tell you we have come pretty near being scared the last week or so. I feel a lot more comfortable fighting with you in the ranks.”
Phineas Duge forbore from all recrimination. He filled Higgins’ glass and his own. He could afford to be magnanimous. He had fought them one against four, and they had come to him for mercy!
“We will drink,” he said, “to the new President. This one has tilted against the windmills once too often. He must learn his lesson.”
Virginia slept little that night. Her room, one of the smallest and least expensive in the cosmopolitan boarding-house where she was staying, was high up, almost in an attic. The windows were small, and opened with difficulty. The heat, combined with her own restlessness, made the weary hours one long nightmare for her. Early in the morning she rose and sat in front of the little window, looking out across the wilderness of house-tops, where a pall of smoke seemed to convert to luminous chaos the rising sun. There was a lump in her throat, and gathering tears in her eyes. It seemed to her that no one could ever realize a loneliness more absolute and complete than hers. She thought of the early summer mornings in that tiny farmhouse perched on the side of the lonely valley, where the air at least was clear and pure and bright, musical with the song of birds, and the west wind which stirred always in the pine-woods behind heralded the coming morning. If only she could have dropped from her shoulders the burden of the last few months, and found herself back there once more. Then a pang of remorse shook her heart. She remembered the happiness which through her had come to those whom she loved, and the thought was like a tonic to her. She forgot her own sorrows, she forgot that dim tremendous feeling, which had shown through her life for a minute or two, only to pass away and leave behind longings and regrets which were in themselves a constant pain. She forgot everything except the thought of what it might mean to those others who were dear to her if she should fail in her task. Her face seemed suddenly aged as she sat there, crushing down the sweeter things, clenching her fingers upon the window-sill, and telling herself that at any cost she must succeed, hopeless though the task might seem.