Arms and the Woman
Arms and the Woman
In my bedroom the next morning there was a sad and heavy heart. The owner woke up, stared at the ceiling, then at the sun-baked bricks beyond his window. He saw not the glory of the sun and the heavens. To his eyes there was nothing poetic in the flash of the distant church-spires against the billowy cloudbanks. The gray doves, circling about the chimneys, did not inspire him, nor the twittering of the sparrows on the window ledge. There was nothing at all in the world but a long stretch of barren, lonely years. And he wondered how, without her at his side, he ever could traverse them. He was driftwood again. He had built upon sands as usual, and the tide had come in; his castle was flotsam and jetsam. He was drifting, and he didn't care where. He was very sorry for himself, and he had the blue devils the worst kind of way. Finally he crawled out of bed and dressed because it had to be done. He was not particularly painstaking with the procedure. It mattered not what collar became him best, and he picked up a tie at random. A man generally dresses for a certain woman's approval, and when that is no longer to be gained he grows indifferent. The other women do not count.
My breakfast consisted of a cup of coffee; and as the generous nectar warmed my veins my thoughts took a philosophical turn. It is fate who writes the was, the is, and the shall be. We have a proverb for every joy and misfortune. It is the only consolation fate gives us. It is like a conqueror asking the vanquished to witness the looting. All roads lead to Rome, and all proverbs are merely sign posts by which we pursue our destinies. And how was I to get to Rome? I knew not. Hope is better than clairvoyance.
Was Phyllis right when she said that I did not truly love her? I believed not. Should I go on loving her all my life? Undoubtedly I should. As to affinities, I had met mine, but it had proved a one-sided affair.
It was after ten by the clock when I remembered that I was to meet the lawyer, the arbiter of my new fortunes. Money is a balm for most things, and coupled with travel it might lead me to forget.
He was the family lawyer, and he had come all the way North to see that I received my uncle's bequest. He was bent, gray and partially bald. He must have been close to seventy, but for all that there was a youthful twinkle in his eyes as he took my card and looked up into my face.
"So you are John Winthrop?" he said in way of preliminary. You may hand a card case full of your name to a lawyer, and still he will insist upon a verbal admission.
"I have always been led to believe so," I answered smartly, placing my hat beside the chair in which I sat down. "How did you manage to locate me in this big city?"
"Your uncle had seen some of your signed articles in New York papers, and said that in all probability I should find you here. A few inquiries set me on your track." Here he pulled out a lengthy document from his handbag. "I confess, however," he added, "that I am somewhat disappointed in your looks."
"Disappointed in my looks!" was my cry. "What sort of a duffer were you expecting to see?"
He laughed. "Well, your uncle gave me the idea that I should find a good-for-nothing hack-writer, a dweller in some obscure garret."
"If that is the case, what under the sun did he send you up here for?"
The merriment went out of the old man's face and his eyes became grave. "Of that anon. Let me proceed with my business and read the will to you. You will find it rather a remarkable document."
I settled back in my chair in a waiting attitude. To tell the truth, I was somewhat confused by all this preamble. To his son my uncle left the bulk of his property, which amounted to more than a million. I was listless. The head overseer received the munificent sum of $50,000; to the butler, the ho