Meantime, far across the map at a famous Florida hostelry, the Great American Pumess, in the first flush and pride of her engagement which all commentators agree upon as characteristic of maidenhood’s vital resolution, lay curled up in a little fluffy coil of misery and tears, repeating between sobs, “I hate him! I hate him!” Meaning her fiance, Mr. William Douglas, with whom her mind and emotions should properly have been concerned? Not so, perspicacious reader. Meaning Mr. Harrington Surtaine.
Upon his small portion of the map, that gentleman wooed sleep in vain for hours. Presently he arose from his tossed bed, dressed quietly, slipped out of the big door and walked with long, swinging steps down to the “Clarion” Building. There it stood, a plexus of energies, in the midst of darkness and sleep. Eye-like, its windows peered vigilantly out into the city. A door opened to emit a voice that bawled across the way some profane demand for haste in the delivery of “that grub”; and through the shaft of light Hal could see brisk figures moving, and hear the roar and thrill of the press sealing its irrevocable message.
Again he felt, with a pride so profound that its roots struck down into the depths of humility, his own responsibility to all that straining life and energy and endeavor. He, the small atom, alone in the night, was the “Clarion.” Those men, the fighting fellowship of the office, were rushing and toiling and coordinating their powers to carry out some ideal still dimly inchoate in his brain. What mattered his little pangs? There was a man’s test to meet, and the man within him stretched spiritual muscles for the trial.
“If I could only be sure what’s right,” he said within himself, voicing the doubt of every high-minded adventurer upon unbeaten paths. Sharply, and, as it seemed to him, incongruously, he wondered that he had never learned to pray; not knowing that, in the unfinished phrase he had uttered true prayer. A chill breeze swept down upon him. Looking up into the jeweled heavens he recalled from the far distance of memory, the prayer of a great and simple soul,—
“Make thou my spirit pure and clear
As are the frosty skies.”
Hal set out for home, ready now for a few hours’ sleep. At a blind corner he all but collided with a man and a woman, walking at high speed. The woman half turned, flinging him a quick and silvery “Good-evening.” It was Milly Neal. The man with her was Max Veltman.
Worthington began to find the “Clarion” amusing. It blared a new note. Common matter of everyday acceptance which no other paper in town had ever considered as news, became, when trumpeted from between the rampant roosters, vital with interest. And whithersoever it directed the public attention, some highly respectable private privilege winced and snarled. Worthington did not particularly love the “Clarion” for the enemies it made. But it read it.