One evening, four or five days after this supper party, Wilbur laid down the book which he was pretending to read, and said, “Selma, I have come to the conclusion that I must give up dabbling in stocks. I am being injured by it—not financially, for, as you know, I have made a few thousand dollars—but morally.”
“I thought you were convinced that it was not immoral,” answered Selma, in a constrained voice.
“I do not refer to whether speculation is justifiable in itself, but to its effect on me as an individual—its distraction to my mind and consequent interference with my professional work.”
“For a year now, the greater portion of the time, I have had some interest in the market, and as a consequence, have felt impelled to look in on Williams and VanHorne every day—sometimes oftener. I am unable to dismiss my speculations from my thoughts. I find myself wondering what has happened to the stocks I am carrying, and I am satisfied that the practice is thoroughly demoralizing to my self-respect and to my progress. I am going to give it up.”
“I suppose you must give it up if it affects you like that,” responded Selma drily. “I don’t see exactly why it should.”
“It may seem foolish to you, but I am unable to put my ventures out of my mind. The consequences of loss would be so serious to me that I suppose my imagination becomes unduly active and apprehensive. Also, I find myself eager to secure large gains. I must renounce Aladdin’s lamp from this day forth, my dear, and trust to my legitimate business for my income.”
Selma folded her hands and looked grave. “It’s disappointing that you feel so just when we are beginning to get on, Wilbur.”
“I have realized, Selma, that you have enjoyed and—er—been made happier by the freedom to spend which this extra money has afforded you. But I know, when you reflect, you will understand that I am right, and that it would be disastrous to both of us if I were to continue to do what I believe demoralizing. It is a mortification to me to ask you to retrench, but I said to myself that Selma would be the first to insist on our doing so if she knew my feelings, and it makes me happy to be sure of your approval.”