“God forgive me!” he cried, as he sat down to write the following letter:
DEAR RAVENEL,—You will remember, I said in my last interview that the matter upon which we spoke could not be fully proven until I received further letters from France. They have come, and I hasten to write you that the marriage we spoke of was not a legal one, the witness, Quantrelle Le Rouge, being a great liar. It is thoroughly proven. Pray give yourself no more anxiety on the subject, and forgive me for doing what my duty prompted me to do. The thing is completely by with as far as I am concerned, and I have burned all of the papers relative to the matter. With best wishes for your complete restoration to health, I remain,
He folded the letter and sealed it, a curious smile upon his lips as he did so. Afterward he began looking over securities and making a list of them in steady, fine writing for the work in the day to come.
About eight he went to his hotel, bathed, dressed himself for the day, and neither of the facts that his heart was breaking, nor that he was about to shake the money market of New York, prevented him from regarding himself critically in the mirror to see if he showed suffering, nor from changing his neck-scarf to one of gallant red.
Underneath the bitterness of his heart lay a desire to square accounts with Marix. But it was part of his nature to excuse the weak, and on the way down to Wall Street the remembrance of the broker’s timid-looking wife and the three little ones came to him. It was easy, after all, to forgive. Marix was too unintelligent to understand that it paid to be honest. “Perhaps,” he reasoned, “God meant that even the fools and traitors should be helped, too.”
Going into the stock-room, he looked over the quotations of the day before in an unimportant manner, waiting for Marix to come in.
“Hello! Hello!” he cried, at sight of him, with a genial laugh, putting a hand on each of the little broker’s shoulders and looking down at him with warning eyes. “I’m going on the floor myself to-day. It’s been a long time since I’ve been there. Ravenel and I have come to an understanding,” his long, sinewy hands gripped Marix for a minute so hard they made him wince, “and I’m going on to protect his interests.”
The blue light of battle was in his eyes; his hat was far back on his head and his hands thrust deep in his pockets as he waited for the gong to call him to the fight. He saw that many were regarding him curiously, and his cheeks flushed with the Celtic instinct to do the thing well—dramatically well. He knew that, in the long night vigil, part of him had died forever, but with chin well up, like a knight of old, he went, at the sound of the great bell, to battle for the happiness of the woman he loved.