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another man," said Miss Van Studdiford. "That's a family secret, of course, but you're a person of discretion. . . . And then Laurettethe third-perhaps you knew her? You've seen her, at least. Wild, impetuous, high-tempered-the most unsuitable woman in the world for Matthew. He knew it; he didn't like her; but she flattered him, and petted him, and kept after him, and presently he began to purr. Thank Heaven, she became flagrant enough to be divorced."
"Such a pity," said Alicia vaguely. "The marriage was the pity. She knew that underneath his shell he was absurdly sensitive, that he could never endure her tongue."
"Why did she marry him, then?" The question, Mrs. Rayleigh perceived, was painfully pertinent to current history; but she had to ask it.
"Why did they all marry him? For the money they thought he had. . . . Well, perhaps not poor Gwen, of course. She at least was reasonably disinterested, which is one reason why he'll never be able to give any other woman what he gave her. Phyllida and Laurette didn't know till they married him that he spends all he makes, or that my will was drawn twenty years ago and leaves everything to hospitals.
"Not that I blame them for not getting along with him. Matthew. is a perfectly impossible husband, of He works in bursts. For weeks he lies about the house, idle, irritable, doing nothing, and letting the bills pile up; then the fit strikes him, and he works like a madmanrefuses to go out anywhere, growls like a bear if he's asked to leave the typewriter long enough for dinner.
No sensible woman would live in the same house with him. His wives had expected to be able to lie back and rest, and when they found they'd have to work as they would at any other job, to build something up, and with appallingly little help from Matthew -what can you expect?"
"I suppose so," Alicia agreed. "Besides," Miss Van Studdiford pursued, "his shell is really too thin. It excites women to break through it, but the thrill of triumph doesn't last. To have broken through the shell no longer seems much of an achievement, when you know him. Anybody could have done it. And before long I suppose some one else will do it, and then-another divorce.'
"What a pity!" Alicia mumbled. "Yes, indeed," said Miss Van Studdiford comfortably. "There, now! You've let me ramble on unpardonably. I can't talk about Matthew to most people, but it's always a delight to meet a mind like my own. A hard mind, that hates mush and syrup and cats who purr for anybody. . . . Oh, must you be going, my dear? Do come and see me, won't you? I get infinite joy out of those biting lines of yours. It's a wonderful wonderful gift; one that doesn't pass, either, like the more perishable charms. Hard on thinskinned people like Matthew, but it's something to be able to say things that can never be forgotten."
In which case, thought Alicia as she came out into the street and looked for a taxi, Miss Van Studdiford ought to be happy.
By the time she dressed for dinner with Leashe, she would have cried, if
of course. That was what made it a luxury-a luxury she owed to Matthew Leashe.
They dined at Cadenabbia's, in an alcove that combined the propriety of the public dining-room with the seclusion of a private dining-room. Leashe had a gift for planning dinners; indeed it was something of a gift to be able to dine at Cadenabbia's at all. He might seem poor to his wealthy aunt, but his income was gigantic beside Alicia's. To refuse all this was the rarest luxury of all. She must savor it drop by drop; and she was furious as her gourmet's pleasure began to be spoiled by the reflection that the inevitable refusal wouldn't look like a luxury to Leashe. Yet she must hurt him; there was no escape. . ..
"Matthew, dear," she said rather dolorously, "I'm afraid it won't do."
"Quite right," he agreed. "I've come to the same conclusion."
"What?" She was astounded and furious. Was the wretch going to cheat her out of this unique opportunity? "Why do you think it won't do?"
She reddened helplessly.
"Matthew, if you knew how ashamed I am! Oh, no, it wasn't fair. It was rotten. You-you haven't the technique of Bluebeard, anyway. . . . But, you see, I can't help saying things like that. I couldn't stop even if I married you. Oh, I wouldn't say them about you, of course; but about other people. And that would ruin you." "Too bad," said Leashe. "For of course I'm the one person it couldn't ruin. Whenever you'd think up a good line I could use it in one of my plays. I need all I can get. Too bad."
"Well!" said Alicia. "You don't "You don't seem to think much of my reasons. Let's hear yours."
He shrugged. "I'd hardly be offering you a unique compliment, if I asked you to marry me. Almost everybody has married me, at one time or another. . . . But you're not like the others."
Alicia's heart fluttered. Damn the silly thing, she thought furiously, and tried to keep her hands from trembling as she asked him:
"Well, if you found me equally disappointing it would hardly be fair. Because I did all of this myself."
"You- Why, Matthew! Listen. I'm exactly like all the others. I went after you. It gave me a thrill of triumph to-to break through that shell and find you so perfectly sweet and delightful. I started this just-just to see if I were still young enough and attractive enough to start anything. It's all artificialsynthetic-cultivated. Any woman could have done it. And I won't be like the others. If you-if you purr like a cat when anybody strokes you, it isn't fair to take advantage of you."
"I see you've been talking to Aunt Regina," he informed her. "Though that was my line originally, about the cat. I invent so few that I insist on getting the credit, when I do think of something clever. Well, if you started this, Alicia, you're certainly a good starter.”
"Oh, I know," she said miserably. "You thrill and tingle and see everything in bright colors—and so do I. But I made you feel that way, and I'm not going to be mean enough to marry you like those other women. You're too nice."
"I don't see that at all," he observed. (His composure was infuriating.) "No matter how it was started-there it is. Any woman might have done it, perhaps, last night. No other woman could do it now. Suppose it was artificial and synthetic. How many things ever happen of their own accord? Somebody has to start them; but if they
"Well-it's a delicate thing to say, but perfectly true. They all—more or less went after me. Rather as a sport, you see. It's no news that they all found me rather disappointing; but that was a chance they deliberately chose to take. But you-"
"Yes?" Alicia queried, in madden- work, who cares?" ing suspense.
"Who cares?" she repeated weakly,
wondering if she dared to believe would be nastier than all the rest— there was a way out.
"Why, that's utter nonsense, Alicia. That isn't the reason why it won't do."
because it's true. You're a senti-
"So am I," he agreed. "And we'd certainly be laughed out of town, both of us, if we didn't keep that secret-in the family. . . . Yet Yet you were going to let me go because you wanted that final sentimental thrill of self-sacrifice. It won't do, my dear. Let me go by all means, if—" "If?" (Her tortured couldn't stand much more.)
"If you can look me in the eye and say you want to."
"You know I'm crazy about you," said Alicia weakly.
"I do now," he admitted with visible relief. "But I could never have been sure if "
She straightened up; now that the tension was over, her black eyes were snapping again, with amusement and a little anger, and a reluctant admiration.
"Oh!" she said. "Well, why, then-for Heaven's sake?" "Well-you say I purr whenever purr whenever anybody pets me. If you married If you married me, and some other woman tried to be nice to me
Alicia straightened up.
"Well! I'd like to see anybody I mean, if it came to a competition in encouraging purrs-Matthew, you certainly don't think I'd let That Dreadful Woman take you away from me."
"Meaning the lady who had her eye on you last night. If you're likely to marry anybody who gives you any provocation, you'd much better marry me than Dolores Duvetyne. I don't care how many arguments there are against it."
"Neither do I," he confessed. "But I could see that you were going to have a reaction and feel that you ought to be noble and self-sacrificing. You know I'm easy, so you feel you ought to let me go . . . Alicia, I've said about all the nasty things about you that I could think of, but I never knew till last night the one thing that
"Matthew! I do believe you've been-using a technique on me.”
He grinned, like a cat—a cat that has just swallowed a particularly toothsome canary.
"I'm an experienced playwright," he told her. "It takes technique to bring out the-er-hidden merits of an unsympathetic character.”
A REVIEW AND SOME REMARKS With the United States Steel Corporation as a Background
ELBERT H. GARY
WITHIN the last twenty-five years there has been a noteworthy change in the standards and practices of American business. A new technique of morality has been evolved. Even to-day many well-intentioned and fairminded men and women are incredulous when they are told that business, large or small, involves delicate decisions as well as broad questions of ethics. Yet thousands upon thousands of business men all over this country, who as short a time ago as the beginning of this century were frankly skeptical whether ethics had any rightful place in business conduct, now assert that it is essential and controlling.
The managers of some large private corporations, a score or so of years ago, apparently believed that if their conduct was within the strict technical regulations of the law, it was immune from public or private criticism; that if no legal provision were actually violated, a corporation should be free to accumulate unlimited profits and might indeed treat with indifference its customers, its employees, its competitors, and the general public. In consonance with that unsound reasoning, not a few officials were inclined to take advantage of inside advance information to
promote their own pecuniary interests, to the prejudice of shareholders.
In such cases moral principles were ignored. Competition was ruthless, tyrannical, and destructive. Weaker rivals were forced to the wall and destroyed, often by means not only unethical but brutal. The financially strong grew stronger and richer. Employees did not receive just consideration; wage rates were adjusted in strict accordance with supply and demand in the labor market, without regard to humane considerations; and employees themselves, as might have been expected, were governed by ideas which were entirely selfish, and in many cases arbitrary, unreasonable, and cruel.
Conditions such as these brought hardship to the general purchasing and consuming public. In the long run the costs of production and distribution were heightened, and they were then, as they must always be, passed on to those whose necessities compelled them to purchase and use commodities. The ultimate consumer paid the extra cost due to friction, misunderstanding, and ill-will in the industrial world.
Business throughout the United States is transacted to-day on a higher plane. Several forces have been in play to effect the change.