By that time, walking in the crisp air of the winter night, he had soothed, somewhat, his fever of anger, sorrow, and shame.
Calmer, he had thoughts only for the bitter wrong that had been done Clare Kavanagh. Somehow it seemed that all were leagued against her—and him! Memory of her unselfishness, her simple faith in him, her abnegation, her true, little-woman trust in his career—it all rushed upon him. For a time he was almost ashamed to face what memory brought to him. Then manfully he set himself to read his heart—at least, he tried to. In the end, hidden in his room, he wept—honest tears of a strong man conscious that he was unable by his strength to hold disaster from an innocent. Even his attempt to find the rogue, Spinney, was futile. He wept, thinking of Clare Kavanagh—exiled from her home, bravely solving her problem of life alone. He went to sleep thinking of Clare Kavanagh.
It was fortunate for his self-respect that she filled his mind so completely at that moment. Otherwise the reflection that he had led himself by degrees to covet the brains and beauty of Madeleine Presson would have convinced him that in his relations with women he was either fool or knave.
Youth, untried in the ways of women and the wiles of loving and the everlasting problem of what the heart most truly desires, has wondered and wept the long ages through!
WOMEN, AND ONE WOMAN
The next day brought the reign of woman. That festal day in mid-session which preceded the legislative ball had been made woman’s field-day by long custom. The politicians arranged the programme in order to bunch events: for the women demanded that they be heard each session on the suffrage question; and the women pleaded for one opportunity to show their best gowns in parade for fashion’s sake. So the politicians made one bite at the cherry; “took a double dose and had it over with,” as Thelismer Thornton ungraciously expressed it. Frivolity was combined with feminine fervor on the suffrage question. One element was invited to neutralize the other. The politicians could endure the combination better than they could face each faction separately. The advocates of suffrage made their plea while their sisters promenaded the State House corridors to the music of the band. The festival spirit dominated.
The members of the Judiciary Committee wore fresh waistcoats, pinks in their buttonholes, and a genial air—and had not the least idea of granting the suffragists anything except a benignant hearing. The report of “ought not to pass” was a foregone conclusion.
But there were potted palms in the lobbies, decorations in the rotunda, and masses of flowers in the House chamber which was given over to the hearing. And sweet music softened legislative asperities. The women asked, smiling. The men refused, smiling.