He changes his mind and rides back upstairs. He enters the telegraph operators’ room, where five men are at work receiving special intelligence.
“Get Collingwood, boys.”
“That drops off at Detroit. Collingwood’s a day job.”
The instrument is clicking. The operator takes each word as the laborious Corkey, with short pencil, presses it into the buff-colored paper.
CHICAGO, 14.—Let it be! Will be at
A RASH ACT
David Lockwin reads the letter of Dr. Tarpion with horror.
“Heavens and earth!” he cries, and pulls at his hair, rubs his eyes and stamps on the floor. “Heavens and earth!” This, an edifice built with the patience and cunning of a lover, must fall to nothing.
He is as dead to Esther as on the day the yawl danced on the shining sands of Georgian Bay.
He is terrified to know his loss. To believe that he was in daily communication with Esther, and that she must ache to know him, has sustained David Lockwin in his penance.
The crime he committed, he feels, has been atoned in this year of lover’s agony. That agony was necessary—in order that Esther might be gradually prepared for the revelation.
She has not been prepared. The labor must begin again, and on new lines.
The receiver of the Coal and Oil Trust Company’s Institution this day declares a dividend of 10 per cent. The lover may draw over $7,000—a magnificent estate. It seems greater to him than the wealth of the Indies or the Peruvians seemed to the early navigators.
He sells his belongings to a second-hand dealer. He hastens his departure. The folks at Walker street can get another book-keeper. Robert Chalmers is going to San Francisco. Easy to lie now after the practice of nearly two years.
But to think that Esther has not read a word of all he has written! David Lockwin hisses the name of Dr. Tarpion. Many is the time they have tented together. But how did the doctor know? He had only a type-written anonymous communication.
Nevertheless this lover curses the administrator as the cause of the fiasco.
“But for him my path would be easy.”
David Lockwin thinks of Tarpion’s threat about a claimant. It grows clear to him that there is a Chicagoan alive who can view his own cenotaph, his own memorial hospital, his own home—who can proclaim himself to be the husband, and yet there will be men like Tarpion who will deny all.
Lockwin’s face annoys him. “Why was I such a fool to go without the proper treatment in that outlandish region! Why was I so anxious to be disguised?”
Oh, it is all on account of the letters. That busybody of an administrator and censor has undone all! Better he had never been born. Why should a doctor neglect his patients to separate husband and wife? The wise way will be to march to the house at Chicago and take possession.