Kept her out of them, that is, until, in Vienna, as I have said, she met James Randolph. That she fell in love with him is one of those facts which seem astonishing the first time you look at them, and inevitable when you look again. Physically, a sanguine blond, with a narrow head, a forward thrusting nose, and really blue eyes, his dominating spiritual quality was the sort of asceticism which proclaims not weak anemic desires, but strong unruly ones, curbed in by the hand of a still stronger will. He was highly imaginative, as a successful follower of the Freudian method must be. He was capable of the gentlest sympathy, and of the most relentless insistence. And he thought, until he met Eleanor Blair, that he was, indisputably, his own master.
The wide social gulf between them—between a beautiful American heiress with the entry into all circles of aristocratic society, except the highest, and an only decently pecunious medical student, caught both of them off their guard. The utter unlikelihood of anything coming of such an acquaintance as theirs, was just the ambush needed to make it possible for them to fall in love. They would, probably, have attracted each other anywhere. But, in a city like Vienna, where all the sensuous appurtenances of life are raised to their highest power, the attraction became irresistible.
He did resist as long as he could—successfully, indeed, to the point of holding himself back from asking her to marry him, or even explicitly from making love to her. But the thing shone through his deeply-colored emotions, like light through a stained-glass window. And when she asked him to marry her, as she did in so many words—pleaded her homesickness for a home she had never known, and a loneliness she had suddenly become aware of, amid would-be friends and lovers, who could not, not one of them, be called disinterested, his resistance melted like a powder of April snow.
It was the only serious obstacle she had to overcome. The terms of her father’s will left her share of the income of the estate wholly at her disposal. And so, in spite of her mother’s horrified protest, they were married, and not long afterward, her mother, who was still a year or two on the sunny side of fifty, gratified her aristocratic yearnings by marrying a count herself.
The Randolphs came back to America and, somewhat against Eleanor’s wishes, settled in Chicago. With her really very large income, her exotic type of beauty and her social skill, she was probably right in thinking she could have made a success anywhere. One of the larger eastern cities—preferably New York or Washington, would have suited her better. But Chicago, he said, was where he belonged and where his best chance for professional success lay, and she yielded, though without waiving her privilege of making a more or less good-humored grievance of it. However, she found the place much more tolerable than riding into and out of it on the train a few times had led her to expect.