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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 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.

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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

she hadn't known that her face couldn't stand tears. For all day she had been going about quite foolishly; the city that for so many years had been black and white and gray was iridescent for the first time in a decade.

But it wouldn't do. That was evident now; indeed it had been dawning on her even before she talked to Miss Van Studdiford. ... She knew she looked well this evening; but for the patches of gray in her hair she might have been twenty-eight. Still she felt very sorry for herself; helplessly buffeted

What was it Holderness had said? A poor frail woman helpless in the hands of Fate, compelled to dash hopes that had been raised by hand till they got to the dashing-point.

"He knows me," she reflected cheerlessly. "Certainly he knows me. . . . Well! If I must spend the evening dashing hopes, I might as well make a thorough job if it." She sat down at her writing-desk and scribbled:

"My dear Edward:

"No time like the present to break the news that I'm not going to marry you. Nor-if it interests youanybody else.


Quite unnecessary, she knew; Holderness would still want her, and when she had got over this madness --but she forced herself to drop the letter down the mail-chute before she could change her mind. It was foolish, utterly mad; but she had never expected to be able to afford the luxury of making a fool of herself again. . . . She couldn't afford it,

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


"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?"

"Why do you?" he countered. Alicia's lips parted, and closed in silence. She couldn't bear to tell him that after Aunt Regina's exposure it seemed a little too much like abduction.

"It would be so preposterous," she explained lamely. "Everybody knows what we've said about each other. We'd be laughed out of town."

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He nodded. "But I could stand that," he observed. "Let 'em laugh so long as they continue to stand in line at the box-office. Curious-I'd supposed you could stand it too. I

thought you had had more courage, Alicia."

"I'm not afraid!" she exploded. "No? It takes some hardihood to be Bluebeard's fourth wife."

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 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.'

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Alicia's heart fluttered. Damn the silly thing, she thought furiously, and tried to keep her hands from trembling as she asked him:

"Why not?"

"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 "

"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 artificial— synthetic-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

"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.

because it's true. You're a sentimentalist-a shameless raw senti

"Why, that's that's utter nonsense, Alicia. That isn't the reason why it mentalist." won't do."

"Oh!" she said. "Well, why, then-for Heaven's sake?"

"Well-you say I purr whenever anybody pets me. If you married me, and some other woman tried to be nice to me—'

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"So are you!"

"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 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, ifif " "If?" (Her tortured nerves 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.

"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."


With the United States Steel Corporation as a Background



ITHIN 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.

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