CORKEY’S GOOD SCHEME
The courtly and affable George Harpwood has fought the good fight and is finishing the course. It is he who has labored with the prominent citizens. It is he who has moved the great editors to place David Lockwin in the western pantheon—to pay him the honors due to Lincoln and Douglas. It is Harpwood who has carried the banquet to success. It is he who, in the midnight of Esther Lockwin’s grief, prepared for her confidential reading those long and scholarly essays of consolation which she studied so gratefully. Mr. Harpwood did not put his lucubrations in the care of Dr. Tarpion. Each and every one was written for no other eye but Esther’s.
While Dr. Tarpion was holding the husband at bay, Dr. Tarpion was rapidly overcoming a prejudice against Harpwood.
“Really, the man has been invaluable to me,” the administrator now vows. “No one could deliberately and selfishly enter the grief-life of such a widow.”
For Harpwood, smarting with a double defeat, in the loss of Esther and the election of Lockwin, has at once devoted himself to the saddest offices. He has been diligent in all kinds of weather. He has discreetly avoided the outer appearance of personal service. But he has filled the place of spiritual comforter to Esther Lockwin, and has filled it well.
If you ask what friends Mrs. Lockwin has, the servants will speak of Dr. Tarpion first, of the architects, and of Corkey. Harpwood they do not mention. He may have called—so have a thousand other gentlemen. They have rarely seen Mrs. Lockwin, for she has been at the cenotaph, the hospital, and the grave of little Davy.
So long as Harpwood’s suit has flourished by letter, why should the less cautious method of speech be interposed? To-day, Esther could not sustain the intermission of the usual consolatory epistle.
George Harpwood is one of those characters who have many friends and are friends to few. Others need him—not he them. He can please if he attempt the task, and if the task be exceedingly difficult, he will become infatuated with it. He will then grow sincere. At least he believes he is sincere. Thus his patience is superb.
His manners are widely praised. If he have served Esther Lockwin with rare personal devotion, it cannot be denied that it has piqued many other beautiful, eligible and desirable women.
He can well support the air of a disinterested friend. The ladies generally bewail his absence from their society. Esther Lockwin must soon be warm in the praise of a gentleman who, divining the needs of a widow, has so chivalrously taken up her woes as his own. Tenderly—like a mother—he has touched upon her projects. Gladly he has accepted the mission she has given to him. At last when he brings Dr. Tarpion to the special censorship of Esther’s mail, and to the fear of claimants, George Harpwood is in command of the situation.