“One must make one’s own ‘Land,’” Katrine answered. “And besides,” with a curious, lovable puckering of her eyelids, “men mustn’t dream things. Men must do.”
There was a silence.
“Must they?” he asked, at length. “Why?”
“Did it ever occur to you,” she asked, abruptly, “that you might work—ever, I mean—when you were a boy?”
“Never for a second.”
“You never felt that you would like to take a part in great affairs, as other men do?”
“Why should I, Katrine? I have all the money I can possibly want. Life is short. I come of a family who tire of living quickly. Say, for instance, I live until I’m sixty. I probably sha’n’t, you know, but we’ll say so for argument. One-third of the time I sleep, which reduces the real living to forty years. Until the time of fifteen one doesn’t count, anyway. That gives me but twenty-five years of life. Now, I ask you”—he threw back his head as he spoke, his face charming with a humorous smile, an illuminated eye—“now, I ask you, if you would be so hard-hearted as to desire me—with but twenty-five years at my disposal, remember—to spend them in a treadmill of work when I might be spending them under the pines and the beeches with you, Katrine—with you!”
She had clasped her knees, making of herself a magnetic bunch of color and lovableness, and she let her eyes rest in his a moment before she spoke. “Don’t talk that way, will you? I like to think of you always as a great man—a man of action, a man who helps.”
They regarded each other steadily for a full minute before he said:
“It has begun.”
“What?” she asked, mystified.
“That mental treatment you spoke of some time ago. You are having a terrible effect on me, Katrine, and I find it extremely uncomfortable,” he added, laughing.
FRANK YIELDS TO TEMPTATION
During the time of the house-party at Ravenel, Katrine gave vent to the natural rebellion against her position but once. Dermott was away on some business in New York; the daily letter from Dr. Johnston concerning her father’s condition had not arrived; and she had seen the gay people from Ravenel coach past her as she sat alone on the Chestnut Ridge.
For nearly a week she had been sleeping badly, awakening every hour or two through the night with something—something that could not be put aside—pressing upon her soul.
Huddled in a sad little heap, in her white gown by the side of the bed, one unbearable night she stretched her arms along the coverlet, sobbing out to the everlasting silence the questionings as to what she had done to be so neglected and set apart.
“What has been in my life but shame—shame which was not mine?” she cried, as the horror of life with her drunken father came back to her. “Why are some given everything,” she demanded, “and I nothing? Where is God’s justice? What have I done; oh, what have I done?”