“Oh, give in, heigh! And what will you say then, I should like to know? How will you feel about it then? Speak!”
“I shall feel as I do now. I know you don’t think that way, and I don’t blame you—or anybody. But if I have got to say how I shall feel, why, I shall feel sorry they didn’t succeed, for I believe they have a righteous cause, though they go the wrong way to help themselves.”
His father came close to him, his eyes blazing, his teeth set. “Do you dare so say that to me?”
“Yes. I can’t help it. I pity them; my whole heart is with those poor men.”
“You impudent puppy!” shouted the old man. He lifted his hand and struck his son in the face. Conrad caught his hand with his own left, and, while the blood began to trickle from a wound that Christine’s intaglio ring had made in his temple, he looked at him with a kind of grieving wonder, and said, “Father!”
The old man wrenched his fist away and ran out of the house. He remembered his address now, and he gave it as he plunged into the coupe. He trembled with his evil passion, and glared out of the windows at the passers as he drove home; he only saw Conrad’s mild, grieving, wondering eyes, and the blood slowly trickling from the wound in his temple.
Conrad went to the neat-set bowl in Fulkerson’s comfortable room and washed the blood away, and kept bathing the wound with the cold water till it stopped bleeding. The cut was not deep, and he thought he would not put anything on it. After a while he locked up the office and started out, he hardly knew where. But he walked on, in the direction he had taken, till he found himself in Union Square, on the pavement in front of Brentano’s. It seemed to him that he heard some one calling gently to him, “Mr. Dryfoos!”
Conrad looked confusedly around, and the same voice said again, “Mr. Dryfoos!” and he saw that it was a lady speaking to him from a coupe beside the curbing, and then he saw that it was Miss Vance.
She smiled when, he gave signs of having discovered her, and came up to the door of her carriage. “I am so glad to meet you. I have been longing to talk to somebody; nobody seems to feel about it as I do. Oh, isn’t it horrible? Must they fail? I saw cars running on all the lines as I came across; it made me sick at heart. Must those brave fellows give in? And everybody seems to hate them so—I can’t bear it.” Her face was estranged with excitement, and there were traces of tears on it. “You must think me almost crazy to stop you in the street this way; but when I caught sight of you I had to speak. I knew you would sympathize—I knew you would feel as I do. Oh, how can anybody help honoring those poor men for standing by one another as they do? They are risking all they have in the world for the sake of justice! Oh, they are true heroes! They are staking the bread of their wives and children on the dreadful chance they’ve taken! But no one seems to understand it. No one seems to see that they are willing to suffer more now that other poor men may suffer less hereafter. And those wretched creatures that are coming in to take their places—those traitors—”