“But you are already rich—you must be worth half a million? and you are a single man, with no children to leave it to.”
“Yes, but I mean to be worth double that.”
“Oh!—so that I can tell any man I choose to go to the d—–l,” he had said half jestingly, being rather put to it by his friend’s earnestness. His friend had laughed too, he remembered, but not heartily.
“Well, that is not much of a satisfaction after all,” he had said; “the real satisfaction is in helping him the other way;”—and this Livingstone remembered he had said very earnestly.
Livingstone now had reached this point of his aspiration—he could tell any man he chose “to go to the devil.”
His content over this reflection was shadowed only by a momentary recollection that Henry Trelane was since dead. He regretted that his friend could not know of his success.
Another friend suddenly floated into his memory. Catherine Trelane was his college-mate’s sister. Once she had been all the world to Livingstone, and he had found out afterwards that she had cared for him too, and would have married him had he spoken at one time. But he had not known this at first, and when he began to grow he could not bring himself to it. He could not afford to burden himself with a family that might interfere with his success. Then later, when he had succeeded and was well off and had asked Catherine Trelane to be his wife, she had declined. She said Livingstone had not offered her himself, but his fortune. It had stung Livingstone deeply, and he had awakened, but too late, to find for a while that he had really loved her. She was well off too, having been left a comfortable sum by a relative.
However, Livingstone was glad now, as he reflected on it, that it had turned out so. Catherine Trelane’s refusal had really been the incentive which had spurred him on to greater success. It was to revenge himself that he had plunged deeper into business than ever, and he had bought his fine house to show that he could afford to live in style. He had intended then to marry; but he had not had time to do so; he had always been too busy.
Catherine Trelane, at least, was not dead. He had not heard of her in a long time; she had married, he knew, a man named—Shepherd, he believed, and he had heard that her husband was dead.
He would see that she knew he was worth—the page of figures suddenly flashed in before his eyes like a magic-lantern slide. Yes, he was worth all that! and he could now marry whom and when he pleased.
Livingstone closed his books. He had put everything in such shape that Clark, his confidential clerk, would not have the least trouble this year in transferring everything and starting the new books that would now be necessary.
Last year Clark had been at his house a good many nights writing up these private books; but that was because Clark had been in a sort of muddle last winter,—his wife was sick, or one of his dozen children had met with an accident,—or something,—Livingstone vaguely remembered.