Mr. Duxbury Farley asked these questions pathetically and insistently; at the Cupola Club, in the Manufacturers’ Association, in season and out of season, wherever there was a willing ear to hear or the smallest current of public sentiment to be diverted into the channel so patiently dug for it. Was his virtuous indignation merely the mental attitude of all the Duxbury Farleys toward things external? That bubble is too huge for this pen to prick; besides, its bursting might devastate a world.
But if we may not probe too deeply into primal causes, we may still be regardful of the effects. Mr. Farley’s bid for public sympathy was not without results. True, there were those who hinted that the veteran promoter was only paving the way for a coup de grace which should obliterate the Gordons, root and branch; but when the days and weeks passed, and Mr. Farley had done nothing more revolutionary than to reelect himself president of Chiawassee Consolidated, and to resume, with Dyckman as his lieutenant, the direction of its affairs, these prophets of evil were discredited.
It was observed also that Caleb remained general manager at Gordonia, and still received the patronizing friendship of former times; and to Tom the full width of the pike was given—a distance which he kept scrupulously. But as for the younger Gordon, he knew it was the lull before the storm, and he was watching the horizon for the signs of its coming—when he was not searching for clues or brooding behind the closed door of his private office with the devil of homicide for a closet companion.
During this reproachful period Vincent Farley gave himself unreservedly, as it would seem, to the sentimental requirements, spending much time on the mountain top and linking his days to Ardea’s in a way to give her a sinking of the heart at the thought that this was an earnest of all time to come.
Mountain View Avenue had understood that the wedding was to be in September; but as late as the final week in August the cards were not out, and Miss Euphrasia, the source and fountainhead of the Avenue’s information, could only say that she supposed the young people were making up for the time lost by separation and absence, and were willing to prolong the delights sentimental of an acknowledged engagement.
But at the risk of cutting sentiment to the very bone, it must be admitted that, after the first ardent attempt to commit Ardea to a certain and early day, the delay was of Vincent’s own making; and the motive was basely commercial. Through Major Dabney, who was not proof against Colonel Duxbury’s blandishments at short range, however much he might distrust them at a distance, Tom’s plan of reorganization, with the suggestion of the trusteeship for Ardea’s third, had become known to the Farleys. Thereupon ensued a conference of two held in Vincent’s room in the hotel, and sentence of extinction was passed on Tom and Caleb.