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that emphasized the breadth of experience afforded by Wycherly. For the first time he smiled and his smile was- winning. Welborn's eye fell again upon the laborworn hands, and his thoughts flew back to the manuscript that had so roused his curiosity. If he had indeed found Harlow, his imagination was unequal to the task of reconciling the traits Fenton had described with the man before him. Several times he mentioned Fenton carelessly in the hope of eliciting some word or a gleam of the gray eyes that would encourage and strengthen suspicion; but Walters met his gaze with perfect serenity. A curtain had fallen between this man and his past, whatever it might be, and Welborn was convinced that he was not likely to startle him into drawing it aside.
"We all feel that the publication of this novel will be an event in the history of the house, and we want you to be satisfied in every particular," he said warmly, feeling that, after all, his chief concern was with the man's work.
Walters expressed his thanks courteously; but when Welborn attempted to speak of terms his mind seemed to have wandered far afield, and then, as though he were thinking aloud, he began speaking of the great masters of fiction. Welborn, momentarily annoyed by this tangential departure from the course of the interview as he had planned it, became aware that he was listening to very unusual talk. In his mind's eye Welborn saw it falling into paragraphs, into pages; it was criticism of the most striking sort, incisive, vigorous, broad in its sweep. He determined that Walters should write it out, that he might carry it back in triumph to Fenton to be published in the number preceding the first instalment of "The Heart of Life." Walters, without lifting his voice and with only an occasional smile, a quiet gesture, was saying memorable things.
"For years," he concluded, "I've schooled myself for such work as I've attempted in 'The Heart of Life.' I have tried to find out what these men think and feel who spend their days underground, who are scorched daily by the great furnaces—what they and their women-folk and their children suffer and hope and gain and lose. That is what I have prayed
God to show me how to do! To express something of the deep underlying passion of America, to measure and weigh the happiness striven for, won or lost, by these thousands—that's what I have aimed at, in the hope of making some contribution to my country's literature that would live a little while."
He caught himself up with an impatient shrug of the shoulders. "I hate talking about it," he added, frowning; "there'saltogether too much talk about it; and after all I may have failed."
His hands worked convulsively from the stress of his long speech. He placed a tightened fist upon his heart as though to stifle a sudden pain, and paid no heed to Welborn's cordially expressed praise of his high aspirations and stern apprenticeship. Welborn was inured to much discussion of the questions Walters had expounded so freshly and strikingly; in quiet club corners late at night young men had explained in familiar cliches their own theories of the novelist's craft, but here was a man who had entered upon a long and laborious preparation and whose bowed shoulders and scarred, twisted hands testified to his intense sincerity. Welborn was humble, deeply humble, before Frederic Walters, who had probed so deep into the heart of life, who had won all that the senses may yield of the particular thing he had sought to master.
Sounds from the rear of the house hinted of preparations for the noonday meal, and it was in Welborn's mind to withdraw and return later in the dayThe raucous blasts of whistles from the mills that rimmed the town brought him to his feet.
"Oh, I want you to stay for luncheon —we call it dinner in our simple menage," Walters remarked. "We live alone—my daughter and I. She takes very good care of me." His smile had an added charm from its rarity and unexpectedness. Seeing that Welborn hesitated, he added: "Helen is up to date in the domestic arts, and you'll find her cooking superior to anything the village inn offers. We expected you to stay."
With deepening mystification Welborn murmured his acceptance. The presence of the daughter, as yet unseen, lent color
to a suspicion that this might indeed be Harlow; and yet Harlow, as Fenton had described him, would be the last man in the world to subject himself to a laborer's lot, much less impose exile upon a daughter, unless spurred by necessity. Welborn saw the already vast area of his ignorance of this man, who had written a novel of challenging power, extending beyond the range of speculation.
The door opened and he rose to confront a tall, fair girl who paused for a moment on the threshold and then advanced quickly into the room. She wore a plain blue skirt and white waist with a wide collar. Her abundant light hair was combed back loosely Irom her forehead. Her eyes—they were a feminized version of Walters's—met his gravely. She gave her hand cordially, saying:
"It's so kind of you to come when father couldn't go to you. I may know everything, too, papa, mayn't I? Won't you go right on with your talk at the table?" •
She had placed a cup of broth at each place before calling them, and after tasting a spoonful Walters praised it. smiling at his daughter in a way that satisfied Welborn of their perfect sympathy and accord.
"Helen is a public-school girl," Walters remarked "She took what the high school had to offer and stopped there. Beyond that we have made some little experiments at home."
"Knowing father is in itself a liberal education," laughed the girl. "But he's a very, very hard taskmaster!"—this with a smiling glance at Welborn that conveyed all necessary contradiction of this indictment. "I've been fortunate in being allowed to learn without really knowing T was acquiring knowledge. It's an admirable system!"
If Walters himself was a mystery, the girl was even more puzzling. Walters was praising the public schools; they were the great bulwark of democracy, he averred, but they had not yet realized all that had been expected of them. Welborn noticed that any statements Walters made were uttered in such phrases as he might have used in writing; he said nothing carelessly; he had lived intensely and showed the strain of it. The daughter,
however, had humor; to her father's manner of speech she had added a lightness that expressed itself drolly in self-mockery.
"I always warn papa that we must remember that democracy isn't a complete thing all tied up in pretty ribbons—and never can be; it's strife, it's struggle for a goal that never can be reached. If it were all perfected, then we shouldn't have anything to work for and fight for! And then there wouldn't be any fun!"
This she uttered quietly, with a smile playing about her lips, that parted upon even, white teeth. The color in her cheeks spoke for health and wholesome living. She imparted a sense of vigor, of youthful zest and spirit, of fathomless reserves. In her wonderful gray eyes alone there were serenity and maturity; they were enormously provocative. Welborn found himself awaiting with trepidation those moments when she turned them upon him, or he caught them subdued to one of the fleeting reveries to which they appeared to be habituated.
"That is true, very true indeed!'' Welborn affirmed. "It's a part of the game to be patient and never to stop hoping."
They had put down their spoons ana she rose quietly and took the cups away and brought in broiled chops and vegetables and resumed her place. Her move ments were informed with a definite grace; it occurred to Welborn that she had probably trained herself to perform these offices with a minimum amount of effort, deftly and quite as a matter of course
"The bread is my own making—if I may brag a little," she remarked, "so you won't mind if I cut the loaf here. It was Queen Victoria, wasn't it, who made a ceremonial of cutting her own bread?"
"I'm glad we haven't altogether abandoned the Victorian customs," said Welborn, noting that her hands, which were long and supple, showed little traces of the labor to which she confessed. He was watching them fixedly when, glancing up from the bread-cutting, she saw the direction of his gaze and reddened. Then immediately she laughed, saying:
"I see I'm in the way; you are really not talking about the book at all! I want to hear you say the things you wrote papa
about his novel; I shan't really believe them if you don't."
Walters seemed anxious that she should be satisfied as to all the details of publication. She expressed frank dissent when Welborn spoke of cuts that would be necessary for purposes of serialization.
"It can be done, of course," she agreed reluctantly, when Welborn had mentioned passages which he thought might be compressed. "You see I do papa's typewriting and I know the story by heart. I can see that by dovetailing some "of those earlier chapters the story would start more briskly. And it's important to break the instalments so the reader will have something to carry him over the month. I always hate serials myself; you lose the flow and movement of a thing."
"But there will be no such trouble with 'The Heart of Life'!" Welborn declared. "It marches like a mighty phalanx!"
Walters, lapsing into silence, left these matters for her to settle with Welborn. He roused himself presently to protest against illustrations, but on this point she sustained Welborn's plea that pictures were essential for the magazine but could be dispensed with in the book. She showed famil'arity with the work of the illustrators Welborn suggested, and left the table to bring a late magazine containing some drawings by Brockton, a new man who had illustrated a series of articles on the steel industry. Walters conceded their excellence and it was agreed that Welborn should telegraph Fenton to engage him.
"I hope I may wire Mr. Fenton that we have agreed on terms and that he may begin laying plans for the publication? You see we have to be forehanded in planning numbers."
The terms Fenton had authorized were more generous than were usually conceded to a new writer, but Walters seemed little interested in this phase of the matter.
"If you think this all right, Helen, we'll consider it settled," he remarked indifferently.
"Yes, I'm sure we're in good hands," said the girl.
She brought a simple fruit pudding and lighted the lamp of a patent coffee-machine.
"One good thing about your coming is that it keeps papa at home for a day. It's very hard to get him to take a holiday."
'Walters listened absently as Helen explained, in answer to a question in Welborn's eyes, that her father was busy every day in one of the great steel plants, and that his writing was done at night.
"Only two hours every evening! That's all I'll give him," she said. "It's remarkable how much he does in those hours after a hard day's work. And there are pages and pages in that manuscript that have been rewritten a dozen times."
"You see," Walters roused himself to say, "I have a very stern critic here. It's not my standard but hers that keeps me up to the mark."
"You must have other manuscripts; we want to see anything you have," said Welborn. "The public is going to be impatient for more of Frederic Walters's work."
Walters referred this to his daughter with a glance of uncertainty.
"Oh, there are other things that seem to me quite as good," she said. "Perhaps 'The Iron Hand' would interest Mr. Welborn."
Walters consented that "The Iron Hand" might be submitted, and upon this promise they rose from the table.
"Suppose you go up to the study and I'll come along later. Don't smoke too much, papa!" she admonished as they left the room.
The room above, designated as a study, was a bedroom—one of three the cottage afforded. Walters took a chair behind a long oak table and drew out a box of cigars.
"I prefer a pipe myself, if you don't mind." The cigars were of good quality, and as the box was newly opened it was patent that they had been procured for Welborn's benefit. He seated himself in a low wicker chair which he assumed to be the special property of the daughter, and Walters, his pipe alight, resumed the discussion of books and writers. Welborn had as yet only touched upon the changes he and Fenton had agreed would improve "The Heart of Life," thinking this was better done in the daughter's absence. Writers, he had found, were sensitive in such matters and disposed to resent criti