“Certainly,” said Duane, surprised; “what about them? They acted for Dysart at one time, didn’t they?”
“They do now.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I am. I didn’t want to say so before Mrs. Dysart. But the afternoon papers have it. I don’t know why they take such a malicious pleasure in harrying Dysart—unless on account of his connections with that Yo Espero crowd—what’s their names?—Skelton! Oh, yes, James Skelton—and Emanuel Klawber with his thirty millions and his string of banks and trusts and mines; and that plunger, Max Moebus, and old Amos Flack—Flack the hack stalking-horse of every bull-market, who laid down on his own brokers and has done everybody’s dirty work ever since. How on earth, Mallett, do you suppose Jack Dysart ever got himself mixed up with such a lot of skyrockets and disreputable fly-by-nights?”
Duane did not answer. He had nothing good to say or think of Dysart.
Rosalie reappeared at that moment in her distractingly pretty pongee motor-coat and hat.
“Do come back with us, Duane,” she said. “There’s a rumble and we’ll get the mud off you with a hose.”
“I’d like to run down sometimes if you’ll let me,” he said, shaking hands.
So they parted, he to return to his studio, where models booked long ahead awaited him for canvases which he was going on with, although the great Trust Company that ordered them had practically thrown them back on his hands.
That evening at home when he came downstairs dressed in white serge for dinner, he found his father unusually silent, very pale, and so tired that he barely tasted the dishes the butler offered, and sat for the most part motionless, head and shoulders sagging against the back of his chair.
And after dinner in the conservatory Duane lighted his father’s cigar and then his own.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, pleasantly invading the privacy of years because he felt it was the time to do it.
His father slowly turned his head and looked at him—seemed to study the well-knit, loosely built, athletic figure of this strong young man—his only son—as though searching for some support in the youthful strength he gazed upon.
He said, very deliberately, but with a voice not perfectly steady:
“Matters are not going very well, my boy.”
“What matters, father?”
“Yes, I’ve heard. But, after all, you people in the Half Moon need only crawl into your shell and lie still.”
After a silence:
“Father, have you any outside matters that trouble you?”
“You are not involved seriously?”
His father made an effort: “I think not, Duane.”
“Oh, all right. If you were, I was going to suggest that I’ve deposited what I have, subject to your order, with your own cashier.”
“That is—very kind of you, my son. I may—find use for it—for a short time. Would you take my note?”