He had great trouble to drive the figures away. It was only when he thought fixedly of Catherine Trelane as she used to be that they disappeared. She was a vision then to banish all else. He had a picture of her somewhere among his papers. He had not seen it for years, but no picture could do her justice: as rich as was her coloring, as beautiful as were her eyes, her mouth, her riante face, her slim, willowy, girlish figure and fine carriage, it was not these that came to him when he thought of her; it was rather the spirit of which these were but the golden shell: it was the smile, the music, the sunshine, the radiance which came to him and warmed his blood and set his pulses throbbing across all those years. He would get the picture and look at it.
But memory swept him on.
He had got in the tide of success and the current had borne him away. First it had been the necessity to succeed; then ambition; then opportunity to do better and better always taking firmer hold of him and bearing him further and further until the pressure of business, change of ambition and, at last, of ideals swept him beyond sight of all he had known or cared for.
He could almost see the process of the metamorphosis. Year after year he had waited and worked and Catherine Trelane had waited; then had come a time when he did not wish her to wait longer. His ideals had changed. Success had come to mean but one thing for him: gold; he no longer strove for honors but for riches. He abandoned the thought of glory and of power, of which he had once dreamed. Now he wanted gold. Beauty would fade, culture prove futile; but gold was king, and all he saw bowed before it. Why marry a poor girl when another had wealth?
He found a girl as handsome as Catherine Trelane. It was not a chapter in his history in which he took much pride. Just when he thought he had succeeded, her father had interposed and she had yielded easily. She had married a fool with ten times Livingstone’s wealth. It was a blow to Livingstone, but he had recovered, and after that he had a new incentive in life; he would be richer than her father or her husband.
He had become so and had bought his house partly to testify to the fact. Then he had gone back to Catherine Trelane. She had come unexpectedly into property. He had not dared quite to face her, but had written to her, asking her to marry him. He had her reply somewhere now; it had cut deeper than she ever knew or would know. She wrote that the time had been when she might have married him even had he asked her by letter, but it was too late now. The man she might have loved was dead. He had gone to see her then, but had found what she said was true. She was more beautiful than when he had last seen her—so beautiful that the charm of her maturity had almost eclipsed in his mind the memory of her girlish loveliness. But she was inexorable. He had not blamed her, he had only cursed himself, and had plunged once more into the boiling current of the struggle for wealth. And he had won—yes, won!