He was surprised at himself. Now that he was face to face with a possibility of her adopting his own proposition, he disliked it intensely. He looked at her; never had she seemed so alluring, so representative of what he called distinction. At the very idea of such refinement at the mercy of the coarse and boisterous Craig, his blood boiled. “Josh is a fine, splendid chap, as a man among men,” said he to himself.” But to marry this dainty aristocrat to him—it’d be a damned disgraceful outrage. He’s not fit to marry among our women.... What a pity such a stunning girl shouldn’t have the accessories to make her eligible.” And he hastily turned his longing eyes away, lest she should see and attach too much importance to a mere longing—for, he felt it would be a pitiful weakness, a betrayal of opportunity, for him to marry, in a mood of passion that passes, a woman who was merely well born, when he had the right to demand both birth and wealth in his wife.
“I’ve often thought,” pursued Margaret, “that to be loved by a man of the Craig sort would be—interesting.”
“While being loved by one of your own sort would be dull?” suggested Arkwright with a strained smile.
Margaret shrugged her bare white shoulders in an inflammatory assent. “Will you go with me to the Supreme Court on Tuesday?”
“Delighted,” said Arkwright. And he did not realize that the deep-hidden source of his enthusiasm was a belief that Josh Craig would make an ass of himself.
In human affairs, great and small, there are always many reasons for every action; then, snugly tucked away underneath all these reasons that might be and ought to be and pretend to be but aren’t, hides the real reason, the real moving cause of action. By tacit agreement among human beings there is an unwritten law against the exposing of this real reason, whose naked and ugly face would put in sorry countenance professions of patriotism or philanthropy or altruism or virtue of whatever kind. Stillwater, the Attorney-General and Craig’s chief, had a dozen reasons for letting him appear alone for the Administration—that is, for the people—in that important case. Each of these reasons—except one —shed a pure, white light upon Stillwater’s public spirit and private generosity. That one was the reason supposed by Mrs. Stillwater to be real. “Since you don’t seem able to get rid of Josh Craig, Pa,” said she, in the seclusion of the marital couch, “we might as well marry him to Jessie”—Jessie being their homeliest daughter.
“Very well,” said “Pa” Stillwater. “I’ll give him a chance.”
Still, we have not got the real reason for Josh’s getting what Stillwater had publicly called “the opportunity of a lifetime.” The really real reason was that Stillwater wished, and calculated, to kill a whole flock of birds with one stone.