“We are too sad to be true lovers,” she sighs. “Yet I could wish to have you all to myself.”
The man is flattered. He, too, is in love. “I will go with you if you would be happier amid other scenes,” he suggests.
“I have nothing to be ashamed of, have I?” she asks proudly, thinking of her noble David and his fragrant memory.
“If I am to have a widow I should like such a widow,” the man replies.
“I pray God you shall never have one,” she vows.
Both are exquisitely happy. Neither can say aught that displeases or hurts the other. For Esther it is the dawn—the glorious sun rising out of a winter night. She never had a lover before.
With George Harpwood it is the crowning of an edifice built with infinitely more pains than the David Lockwin Annex.
The noise of all this is abroad. “The wedding will be private,” says Mrs. Grundy with sorrow. “But the Mrs. Harpwood that is to be will this winter entertain on a lavish scale. She is devoted to Harpwood’s political aspirations.”
“That man Harpwood, if he gets to Congress this winter, will begin a great career. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him President,” says one bank cashier to another.
“Well, he’s marrying the woman who can help him most. The labor people are all on her side.”
“When shall the day be, Esther?” the friend of her sorrows asks.
“Let it be the last Thursday of next month at 6 o’clock,” she replies, and is far more peaceful than when David Lockwin asked her to marry him far on in the long ago, for on that night she cried.
“I suppose the number of guests should be small,” he notes.
“Only our nearest friends. A Thursday, dear, at 6 o’clock.”
The neighborhood is agog. The servants outdo each other in gossip. There are household arrangements which are to turn a gloomy abode into a merry dwelling-place.
The decorators must work night and day. The mansion is as brilliant with gas as on the evening Esther Wandrell put her hands in David Lockwin’s and listened rapturously to his praise of the beautiful child.
Is that a shadow skulking about this corner! Probably it is some night policeman employed by the widow.
Certainly it is a faithful watch the figure keeps on the great house where the decorators toil.
“I’m glad I’m not rich,” says one pedestrian to his companion.
“They’re awfully afraid of burglary,” says the companion.
AT 3 IN THE MORNING
“Where is Chalmers?” asks Corkey.
“Mr. Chalmers is not in,” answers the clerk.
“I want to see him,” says Corkey, authoritatively.
“He is not in,” retorts the clerk with spirit.
“Has he sold out?”
“When will he be in?”