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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Web Of Life - Part 2 - Chapter 13
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The Web Of Life - Part 2 - Chapter 13 Post by :sk1442 Category :Long Stories Author :Robert Herrick Date :February 2011 Read :3019

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The Web Of Life - Part 2 - Chapter 13

Part II Chapter XIII

The dinner at the Hitchcocks' was very simple. Parker had gone out "to enjoy his success in not getting to Cuba," as Colonel Hitchcock expressed it grimly. The old merchant's manner toward the doctor was cordial, but constrained. At times during the dinner Sommers found Colonel Hitchcock's eyes resting upon him, as if he were trying to understand him. Sommers was conscious of the fact that Lindsay had probably done his best to paint his character in an unflattering light; and though he knew that the old colonel's shrewdness and kindliness would not permit him to accept bitter gossip at its face value, yet there must have been enough in his career to lead to speculation. While they were smoking, Colonel Hitchcock remarked:

"So you're back in Chicago. Do you think you'll stay?"

Sommers described the offer Dr. Knowles had made.

"I used to see Knowles,--a West Side man,--not very able as a money-getter, I guess, but a good fellow," Colonel Hitchcock emitted meditatively.

"He has a very commonplace practice," Sommers replied. "An old-fashioned kind of practice."

"Do you think you'll like Chicago any better?" Colonel Hitchcock asked bluntly.

"I haven't thought much about that," the doctor admitted, uncomfortably. He felt that the kind old merchant had lost whatever interest he might have had in him. Any man who played ducks and drakes with his chances in life was not to be depended upon, according to Colonel Hitchcock's philosophy. And a man who could not be depended upon to do the rational thing was more or less dangerous. It was easier for him to understand Parker's defects than Sommers's wilfulness. They were both lamentable eccentricities.

"Chicago isn't what it was," the old man resumed reminiscently. "It's too big, and there is too much speculation. A man is rich to-day and poor to-morrow. That sort of thing used to be confined to the Board of Trade, but now it's everywhere, in legitimate business. People don't seem to be willing to work hard for success." He relapsed into silence, and shortly after went upstairs, saying as he excused himself,--"Hope we shall see you again, Dr. Sommers."

When Colonel Hitchcock had left the room, Miss Hitchcock said, as if to remove the sting of her father's indifference:

"Uncle Brome's transactions worry papa,--for a time papa was deeply involved in one of his schemes,--and he worries over Parker, too. He doesn't like to think of--what will happen when he is dead. Parker will have a good deal of money, more than he will know what to do with. It's sad, don't you think so? To be ending one's life with a feeling that you have failed to make permanent your ideals, to leave things stable in your family at least?"

Instead of replying Sommers left his chair and walked aimlessly about the room. At last he came back to the large table near which Miss Hitchcock was seated.

"You know why I came to-night," he began nervously.

Miss Hitchcock put down the book she held in her hands and turned her face to him.

"Will you help me--to live?" he said bluntly.

She rose from her seat, and, with a slight smile of irony, replied,

"Can I?"

"The past,--" Sommers stammered. "You know it all better than any one else."

"I would not have it different, not one thing changed," she protested with warmth. "What I cannot understand in it, I will believe was best for you and for me."

"And the lack of success, the failure?" Sommers questioned eagerly; a touch of fear in his voice. "I am asking much and giving very little."

"You understand so badly!" The smile this time was sad. "I shall never know that it is failure."

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Part II Chapter XIV Miss Hitchcock's wedding was extremely quiet. It was regarded by all but the two persons immediately concerned as an eccentric mistake. Even Colonel Hitchcock, to whom Louise was almost infallible, could not trust himself to discuss with her, her decision to marry Dr. Sommers. It was all a sign of the irrational drift of things that seemed to thwart his energetic, honorable life. Even Sommers's attitude in the frank talk the two men had about the marriage offended the old merchant. Sommers had met his distant references to money matters by saying bluntly that he and Louise
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Part II Chapter XII "Yes, he lost that--what was left when you sold for him," Miss M'Gann admitted dejectedly. "And so we had to start over again. Part of it was mine, too." "Did he put your savings in?" Sommers asked incredulously. "It was that Dresser man. I wish we'd never laid eyes on him--he kept getting tips from Carson, the man who owned most of his paper. I guess Carson didn't take much interest in giving _him the right tip, or perhaps Dresser didn't give _us what he knew straight out. Anyway, Jack's been losing!" "So you aren't married?" Sommers
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