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"You can't scare me, Kimberly."
"I don't want to; I don't want to choke you; but if you wish to see me try it, pass that limitjust once. Now go on, MacBirney."
"I could have nothing to say against Alice."
Kimberly nodded heartily in approval.
"But I have something to say about a man whopretended to be my friend-"
"I never pretended to be your friend."
" – And played traitor to me as you have done.But it's of a piece with your whole record. Firstyou got me down here-"
"I never got you down here."
" – Then you began to lay your plans to ruinmy home."
"What were you doing all this time? Tryingto circumvent me by making your home happyor trying to help me by neglecting it?"
MacBirney shook his finger at Kimberly inrage. "You can't escape with smooth phrases.You broke up my home!"
Kimberly had regained his coolness. "No, youbroke it up. Long before I ever saw you, youbroke up your home. It was broken up and onlywaiting for some one to save your wife from thewreck. MacBirney, you have made a success ofyour business; one one-hundredth of the effort youhave given to your business would have saved yourhome. Yet you thought you could treat your wifelike a servant, humiliate and abuse her and stillhold her forth a figurehead for your 'home'!"muttered Kimberly with scorn.
"You, yourself, put her up to the divorce.Deny that, will you?"
"No, I will not deny it," retorted Kimberlyrelapsing into indifference. "After I came into herlife she followed my advice. I believe I haveadvised her for the best."
"I see your finger trailing through every turn ofmy trouble now. I saw it too late. But I'm notdone with you. And I'm not the only man thatunderstands your trickery. Lambert will haveyou on your knees in the sugar business beforeyou are very much older. Now, I have come toyou with a straight proposition. I want theescrow control of the Western refineries. If you areready to give it to me we will make a workingagreement and have peace. If you are not, I willback Lambert in a string of modern plants thatwill drive you out of the Western field. We areready; the question for you to consider is whetheryou want to compromise."
At this threat Kimberly, so far as the wordscould be used of him, went to pieces. To beoutfaced in his own headquarters by one whom hewould have termed a hare-brained upstart in therefining world was too much for his poise. Theonly outward indication of his surprise anddisgust was a smile; but it was a dangerous smile."I am afraid I am not enough of a business manto compromise, MacBirney," he responded inlow tones. "You can't have the escrow controlof the Western refineries."
"Very good. That decision suits me. I amnow practically out of your stock; we shall seewhat we shall see."
"One moment, MacBirney," said Kimberly, moved by some sudden impulse of mercy followinghis rage, as if MacBirney were really too smallfry to pit himself against."You have brought apersonal affair and a business affair before me.The business affair, as you are still my associate, Imay say a word on. Don't put any money youcan't afford to lose behind Lambert, for it willall go. I myself have not got resources enough togive that man a free hand. He has a genius in onedirection-that of talking men out of their money.
"Moreover, in this case there is a personalfriction of long standing between him and me, andI will never let him lift his head in the sugarbusiness in this country while I am at the head ofthese companies, not if I have to work twenty-fourhours a day to clean him out. But that wouldnot be necessary-for he will not only attend toruining himself but to ruining every man thatgoes with him. If you want to quit us, do so.Build as many refineries as you like and we willtry to get on peaceably with you-though Imyself would not put a dollar into new refineriesto-day. You are rich; you had eight hundredthousand dollars when I paid you for your junk, and you made two million dollars in the Decemberpool alone-a good part of it out of me. Youwill take from these offices eight million dollars inless than three years."
MacBirney's alarm at Kimberly's intimateknowledge of his resources showed in his face."In railroads you might make it forty millionsin the next ten years, with even average prudence,"continued Kimberly calmly. "Sugar will be aload, anyway you go into it; but sugar andLambert will beat you to a frazzle."
Charles Kimberly walked into the room as hisbrother concluded. "Talk a few moments withCharles about this," suggested Kimberly, coolly, ringing for his office secretary.
"MacBirney," explained Robert Kimberly tohis brother, "has sold out his common and hasa lot of money loose. I am telling him to go infor railroads."
The secretary entered. Robert Kimberly aftergiving him some directions, got into his car andwas driven up-town to the residence of thearchbishop. He alighted before a large, remodelledcity house not far from the cathedral. Amessenger had already delivered Hamilton's letter ofintroduction and Kimberly was presentinghimself by appointment.
At the door a man-servant took his card and hewas met in the reception room by a youngclergyman, who conducted him to the second floor. AsKimberly entered the large room into which hewas ushered he saw the prelate rising from histable. He was a grave man and somewhat sparein his height, slightly stooped with the passing ofseventy years, and bearing in the weariness of hisface an expression of kindliness and intelligence.
"This is a pleasure, Mr. Kimberly," he said, extending his hand.
"It is a pleasure for me, your grace."
"Come this way," continued the archbishop, indicating a divan in one corner of the room.
"I brought no letter of introduction other thanthat from Doctor Hamilton, which I sent you,"Kimberly began as the archbishop seated himself.
"Surely, you did not consider even DoctorHamilton's note necessary," returned the archbishop, while his secretary withdrew. "Your name andthat of your family have been familiar to me formany years. And I fear those of my people whoventure in upon you with their petitions do notalways bring letters."
"You have occupied this see for many years,"suggested Kimberly in compliment.
"As priest and bishop I have lived in this diocesemore than forty years. It seems a long time. Yetthe name of Kimberly was very old here when Icame, and without ever meeting one of your family,I have heard much of you all since. So if therewere no other reason, I should welcome your callas an opportunity to tell you how grateful I am, and the charities of the archdiocese are, for yourrepeated generosities. You know we are notblessed among our own people with many benefactorsof large means. And the calls come uponus with surprising frequency."
"My father," responded Kimberly, "who wasmore of a philosopher than a merchant, impressed me very early with the truth that yourchurch was a bulwark of social order-one whichto that extent laid all thoughtful men under adebt to it."
"You are a man of wide interests, Mr. Kimberly."
"The country grows too fast, your grace.There seems no escape from expansion."
"Yet you find time for all of your work?"
Kimberly made a deprecatory gesture. "Mychief affair is to find men to do my work for me.Personally, I am fairly free."
"From all save responsibility, perhaps. Iknow how hard it is to delegate that. And yougive all of your energy to business. You haveno family?"
"No, and this brings me to the object of myvisit." Kimberly paused a moment. "I shallsoon enter into marriage."
"Ah, I see!"
"And the subject is a difficult one to lay beforeyour grace."
The archbishop saw an indefinable embarrassmentin his visitor's manner and raised his thinhand. "Then it has every claim to sympatheticconsideration. Forget for a moment that I amalmost a stranger-I am certainly no stranger todifficulties. And do no longer address meformally. I said a moment ago that I was glad tomeet you if only to thank you for your responsesto our numerous needs. But there is another reason.
"When I was a young man, first ordained, mycharge was the little village of Sunbury up in thelake country. You may imagine how familiarthe Kimberly estates became to me in my dailyrounds of exercise. I heard much of yourpeople. Some of their households were of mycongregation. Your mother I never met. I usedto hear of her as exceedingly frail in health.Once, at least, I recall seeing her driving. Buther servants at The Towers were alwaysinstructed not alone to offer me flowers for thealtar but diligently to see that the altar wasgenerously provided from her gardens and hot-houses.
"I once learned," the archbishop's head droopedslightly in the reminiscence and his eyes rested fullupon his visitor, "that she was passing through adreaded ordeal, concerning which many feared forher. It was on a Sunday before mass that theword came to me. And at the mass I told mylittle flock that the patroness to whom we owedour constant offering of altar flowers was passingthat morning through the valley of the shadowof death, and I asked them to pray for her withme. You were born on a Sunday, Mr. Kimberly." Kimberlydid not break the silence and thearchbishop spoke on. "You see I am quite old enoughmyself to be your father. I remember reading anaccount of your baptism."
Kimberly looked keenly into the clear, grayeyes. Not a shade of thought in the mind of theman before him was lost upon his penetration."Any recollection of my mother," he said slowly,"touches me deeply. To think that you recall herso beautifully is very grateful to me-as you maywell imagine. And that was my birthday! Thenif my mother was, or I have ever been, able tohelp you I am sure we are repaid in being soremembered all these years. I lost my father andmy mother many years ago-"
He paused. "It is very pleasant to be remembered,"he repeated uncertainly, as if collectinghimself. "I shall never forget what you havejust told me. And I thank you now for theprayers you said for my mother when she broughtme into the world. Your grace," he addedabruptly, "I am greatly perplexed."
"Tell me frankly, how and why."
"I came here with some confidence of gettingwhat I should ask for. I am naturally aconfident man. Yet my assurance deserts me. Itseems, suddenly, that my mission here is vain, that my hopes have deluded me-I even askmyself why I have come. I could almost say Iam sorry that I have come."
The archbishop lifted his hand to speak. "Believeme, it is not other than for good that youhave come," he said.
Kimberly looked at him questioningly. "Icannot tell for what good," added the archbishopas if to say he could not answer the unspokenquestion. "But believe me, you have doneright and not wrong in coming-of that I amsure. Tell me, first, what you came to tell me, what it is in your heart that has brought you here."
"I must tell you," began Kimberly, "that whileseemingly in a wide authority in directing thebusiness with which I am connected I am notalways able to do just as I please. Either voluntarilyor involuntarily, I yield at times to the viewsof those associated with me. If my authority isfinal, I prefer not to let the fact obtrude itself.Again, circumstances are at times too strong forany business man to set his mere personal viewsagainst. Yielding some years ago to therepresentations of my associates I took into ourcompanies a group of Western factories controlled bya man whom I distrusted.
"To protect our interests it was necessary tomove, in the premises, in one of two ways. Ifavored the alternative or driving him out of thebusiness then and there. There were difficultiesin either direction. If we ruined him we shouldbe accused of 'trust methods,' of crushing acompetitor, and should thus incur added public enmity.On the other hand, I contended if the man wereuntrustworthy he would grow more dangerouswith power. I need hardly explain to an intelligentman, regardless of his views on trusts, thatany man of integrity, no matter how threateningor violent a competitor he may be in the beginning,is a man we welcome as an associate into ourbusiness. We need him just as he needsus-but that is aside. We took the man in-"
"Against your judgment?"
"Against my judgment. I never met himuntil he came East. My estimates of him weremade wholly on his record, and I knew what isknown to but few-that he had ruined his ownfather-in-law, who died a bankrupt directlythrough this man's machinations, and withoutever suspecting him. This seemed to me sounspeakable, so cannibalistic, that I never needed toknow anything further of the man. Yet I tookhim in, determined only to add a new care inwatching him and still to keep him in my powerso that I could crush him if he ever played false.
"He came to us-and brought his wife. I knewthe man thoroughly the instant I set eyes on him.His appearance confirmed my impression. But Imet his wife, and found in her a woman toengage respect, homage, and devotion, one with acharm of manner and person to me unequalled; with a modesty coupled with spirit and humor thatconfounded my ideas of women-a woman, in aword, like my own mother. I am keepingnothing from you-"
"Your confidence is safely bestowed."
"I was moved the moment I saw her. Butunhappy experiences had checked and changed mesomewhat. I did not disclose my feelings thoughI already knew how she affected me. If I hadmisjudged her husband I would make amends-onher account. Then as I watched them thequestion came to me-how is he treating her? Iwill make, for her sake, a new judgment of him, Isaid. But I saw him as indifferent to her as if shedid not exist. I saw him neglect her and go outof his way to humiliate her with attentions towomen of our circle that were not fit to be herservants. I asked myself whether she could behappy-and I saw that as far as affection wasconcerned she sat at a hearthstone of ashes.
"Even her religion-she was a Catholic-withpetty and contemptible persecutions he hadrobbed her of. She was wretched and I knew itbefore I let even her suspect my interest. Afterthat I vacillated, not knowing what I should do.I advanced and retreated in a way I never didbefore. But one day-it was an accident-herankle turned as she stepped out of her car and asshe fell forward I caught her on my arm. Sherepelled me in an instant. But from that momentI determined to win her for my wife."
The archbishop regarded him in silence.
"I am telling you the exact truth. It wouldprofit me nothing to deceive you, nor have I everdeceived myself or her. She fought my persistencewith all her strength. I tried to make her see thatI was right and she was wrong, and my best aidcame from her own husband. I knew it wouldbe said I was to blame. But this man never hadmade a home in any sense for his wife. And if itcould be urged that he ever did do so, it was he, long before I ever saw him, who wrecked it-nothis wife-not I."
"You say she was a Catholic. Has this poorchild lost her faith?"
Kimberly paused. "I do not know. I shouldsay that whatever her faith was, he robbed her of it."
"Do not say exactly that. You have said wemust not deceive ourselves and you are right-thisis of first importance. And for this reasonalone I say, no one can deprive me of my faithwithout my consent; if I part with it, I do sovoluntarily."
"I understand, quite. Whatever I myselfmight profess, I feel I should have no difficulty inpractising. But here is a delicate woman in thepower of a brute. There is an element of coercionwhich should not be lost sight of and it mightworry such a woman out of the possession of herprinciples. However, whatever the case may be, she does not go to church. She says she never can.But some keen unhappiness lies underneath thereason-if I could explain it I should not be here."
"Has she left her husband?"
"No. He, after one of his periodical fits ofabuse, and I suspect violence, left her, and notuntil he knew he had lost her did he make anyeffort to claim her again. But he had imperilledher health-it is this that is my chiefanxiety-wrecked her happiness, and made himselfintolerable by his conduct. She divorced him and isfree forever from his brutality.
"So I have come to you. I am to make hermy wife-after I had thought never to make anywoman my wife-and for me it is a very greathappiness. It is a happiness to my brother and mysister. Through it, the home and the family whichwe believed was fated to die with this generation-mybrother is, unhappily, childless-may yet live.Can you understand all this?"
"I understand all."
"Help me in some way to reconcile her religiousdifficulties, to remove if possible, this source ofher unhappiness. Is it asking too much?"
The archbishop clasped his hands. His eyesfixed slowly upon Kimberly. "You know, do younot, that the Catholic Church cannot countenancethe remarriage of a wife while the husband lives."
"I know this. I have a profound respect forthe principles that restrain the abuses of divorce.But I am a business man and I know that nothingis impossible of arrangement when it is right thatit should be arranged. This, I cannot say toostrongly, is the exceptional case and therefore Ibelieve there is a way. If you were to come tome with a difficult problem within the provinceof my affairs as I come to you bringing one withinyours, I should find a means to arrange it-ifthe case had merit."
"Unhappily, you bring before me a question inwhich neither the least nor the greatest of thechurch-neither bishop nor pope-has the slightestdiscretionary power. The indissolubility ofmarriage is not a matter of church discipline; it is alaw of divine institution. Christ's own wordsbear no other meaning. 'What God hath joinedtogether let not man put asunder.' He declaredthat in restoring the indissolubility of marriage heonly re?stablished what was from the beginning, though Moses because of Jewish hardness of hearthad tolerated a temporary departure. Noconsent that I could give, Mr. Kimberly, to amarriage such as you purpose, would in the leastalter its status. I am helpless to relieve eitherof you in contracting it.
"It is true that the church in guarding sacredlythe marriage bond is jealous that it shall be amarriage bond that she undertakes to guard. Ifthere should have been an impediment in this firstmarriage-but I hardly dare think of it, for thechances are very slender. A prohibited degree ofkindred would nullify a marriage. There isnothing of this, I take it. If consent had clearlybeen lacking-we cannot hope for that. If herhusband never had been baptized-"
"What difference would that make?"
"A Christian could not contract marriage witha pagan-such a union would be null."
"Would a good Catholic enter into such a union?"
Kimberly shook his head. "Then she wouldnot. If she had been a disgrace to her religionshe might have done it. If she had been a womanof less character, less intelligence it might be.If she had been a worse Catholic," he concludedwith a tinge of bitterness, "she might stand better now."
"Better perhaps, as to present difficulties; worse as to that character which you have justpaid tribute to; which makes, in part, her charmas a woman-the charm of any good woman toa good man. You cannot have and not have.When you surrender character a great deal goes with it."
The archbishop's words sounded a knell toKimberly's hopes, and his manner as he spokereflected the passing of his momentary encouragement."There is nothing then that you can do."
"If there be no defect-if this first marriagewas a valid marriage-I am powerless in thecircumstances. I can do nothing to allow her toremarry while her husband lives."
Kimberly arose. "We cannot, of course, killhim," he said quietly. "And I am sorry," headded, as if to close the interview, "not to be ableto relieve her mind. I have made an effort tolay before you the truth and the merit of the caseas far as she is concerned. I had hoped by beingabsolutely unreserved to invoke successfullysomething of that generosity which you find edifyingin others; to find something of that mercy andtolerance which are always so commendable whenyour church is not called on to exercise them."
The archbishop, too, had risen. The two menfaced each other. If the elder felt resentment, none was revealed in his manner or in his answer."You said a few moments ago that you couldnot always do as you pleased," he began; "I,too, am one under authority." His fingers closedover the cross on his breast. "All generosity, allmercy, all tolerance that lie within His law, nothingcould prevent my granting to you, and to less thanyou-to the least of those that could ask it. Iknow too much of the misery, the unhappiness of awoman's life and of the love she gives to man, towithhold anything within my power to alleviateher suffering.
"I have wounded you, and you rebuke me withharsh words. But do not carry harshness againstme in your heart. Let us be sure that these wordsmean the same thing to both of us. If generosityand tolerance are to override a law given by God,of what use am I? Why am I here to beappealed to? On the other hand, if by generosity ortolerance you mean patience toward those whodo not recognize the law that binds me, if youmean hesitancy in judging those whose views andpractices differ from my own, then I have theright to ask you to grant these qualities to me.
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