“I do not.” Selwyn’s tone was irritable. “My business dealings with them have not inspired desire for a closer acquaintance. To get as much money as possible from the men who employ them and give in return as little work as they can, is the creed of most of them. You can do nothing with people like that. I know them better than you will ever know them.”
“As a corporation attorney, yes. As a division of the human race, as working people, you know them. As beings much more like yourself than you imagine, you don’t.”
Selwyn again stopped. “You’d hardly expect me to find them congenial—the beings you refer to.”
“I would not.” I laughed. “They are generations removed from you in education and culture, in many of the things essential to you, but some of them see more clearly than you. Both need to understand you owe each other something. And how are you going to find out what it is, see from each other’s point of view, unless you know each other better? Unless—”
“For the love of Heaven, get rid of such nonsense! That particular kind of sentiment has gone to seed. Every sane man recognizes certain obligations to his fellow-man, every normal one tries to pay them, but all this rot about bringing better relations to pass between masters and men through familiarity, through putting people in places they are not fitted to fill, is idle dreaming based on ignorance of human nature. To give a man what he doesn’t earn is to do him an injury. Most men win the rewards they are entitled to. You’re a visionist. You always have been—”
“And am always going to be! Life would hardly be endurable were it not for dreaming, hoping, believing. I could stand any loss better than that of my faith in humankind.” I sat upright, my hands locked in my lap. “I’m not here to do things for the people you have so little patience with. I told you I wanted to see what sort of people we are. You’re perfectly certain those who live in Scarborough Squares don’t make a success of life. Do you think we do?”
Again Selwyn stopped, stared at me, but before he could answer a queer, curdling, smothered sound reached us faintly from the street below. A cry low, yet clear and anguished, followed. Then a fall and hurrying footsteps, and then silence. Selwyn sprang to the window and opened it.
“My God!” he said. His face was white. “What was that?”
I was out of the door before Selwyn had left the window. Quickly he followed me, however, and on the front porch, where Mrs. Mundy was already standing, we stood for a half-moment, looking up and down the street.
The small arc of light made by the corner gaslamp lessened but little the darkness of the seemingly deserted street, and for a while we could distinguish nothing save the shadows cast by the gaunt trees of the Square. Then I saw Selwyn start.