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“He is innocent of the charges brought against him," urged Jefferson.
“Mr. Ryder is not considering that point. All he can see is that it is necessary to put this poor old man in the public pillory, to set him up as a warning to others of his class not to act in accordance with the principles of Truth and Justice-not to dare to obstruct the car of Juggernaut set in motion by the money gods of the country!"
"It's the survival of the fittest, my dear.”
“Oh! use your great influence with this governing body for good, not evil! Urge them to vote not in accordance with party policy and personal interest, but in accordance with their consciences, in accordance with Truth and Justice! Ah, for God's sake, Mr. Ryder! don't permit this foul injustice to blot the name of the highest tribunal in the Western world! Suppose, suppose, this daughter promises that she will never-never see your son again—that she will go away to some foreign country!"
“No!" burst in Jefferson, “why should she? If my father is not man enough to do a simple act of justice without bartering a woman's happiness and his son's happiness, let him find comfort in his self-justification !"
Ryder made a quick movement towards his son and took him by the arm. Pointing to Shirley, he said in a low tone:
“You see how that girl pleads your cause for you! She loves you, my boy!" Jefferson started. "Yes, she does. She's worth a thousand of the Rossinore woman. Make her your wife and I'11- -”
“Make her my wife? Make her my wife?" he repeated, incredulously.
"Well, what do you say?" demanded Ryder, Sr.
“Yes, yes, Shir—Miss Green, will you ?” Seeing that Shirley made no sign, he said: “Not now, father. I will speak to her later."
“No, no, to-night-at once!" Addressing Shirley, he went on: "Miss Green, my son is much affected by your disinterested appea!
in his behalf. He-he-you can save him from himself—my son wishes you—he asks you to become his wife! Is it not so, Jefferson?”
“Yes, yes, my wife!"
“Why not?" demanded Ryder, Sr., appealingly. “Ah, don't- — don't decide hastily."
Shirley, her face set and drawn and keen mental distress showing in every line of it, faced the two men, pale and determined. The time had come to reveal the truth. This masquerade could go on no longer. It was not honorable either to her father or to herself. Her self-respect demanded that she inform the financier of her true identity.
“I cannot marry your son with these lies upon my lips! I cannot go on with this deception. I told you you did not know
I who I was, who my people were. My story about them, my name, everything about me is false, every word I have uttered is a lie, a fraud, a cheat! I would not tell you now, but you trusted me and are willing to entrust your son's future, your family honor in my keeping, and I can't keep back the truth from you. Mr. Ryder, I am the daughter of the man you hate. I am the woman your son loves. I am Shirley Rossmore!"
Ryder took his cigar from his lips and rose slowly to his feet. “You ?—you?” “Yes-yes, I am the Rossmore woman! Listen, Mr. Ryder.
— Don't turn away from me. Go to Washington on behalf of my father and I promise you I will never see your son again-never, never!”
“No, no, I will not. You have wormed yourself into my confidence by means of lies and deceit. You have tricked me, fooled me to the very limit! Oh, it is easy to see how you have beguiled my son into the folly of loving you! And you—you have the brazen effrontery to ask me to plead for your father! No! no! no! Let the law take its course; and now, Miss Rossmore, you will please leave my house to-morrow morning!"
“Yes, I will leave your house to-night. Do you think I would remain another hour beneath the roof of a man who is so blind to justice, as deaf to mercy, as incapable of human sympathy as
"Leave the room!” shouted Ryder, beside himself, and pointing to the door.
“Father!" cried Jefferson, starting forward to protect the girl he loved.
“You have tricked him as you have me!"
"It is your own vanity that has tricked you! You lay traps for yourself and walk into them. You compel everyone around you to lie to you, to cajole you, to praise you, to deceive you! least, you cannot accuse me of flattering you ! I have never fawned upon you as you compel your family and your friends and your dependents to do. I have always appealed to your better nature by telling you the truth, and in your heart you know that I am speaking the truth now."
“Go!" “Yes, let us go, Shirley !” said Jefferson. “No, Jeff. I came here alone and I'm going alone !" “You are not. I shall go with you. I intend to make you
“No! Do you think I'd marry a man whose father is as deep a discredit to the human race as your father is ? No, I wouldn't marry the son of such a merciless tyrant! He refuses to lift his voice to save my father; I refuse to marry his son !
“You think if you lived in the olden days you'd be a Cæsar or an Alexander. But you wouldn't! You'd be a Nero—a Nero! Sink my self-respect to the extent of marrying into your family!" she exclaimed, contemptuously. “Never! I am going to Washington without your aid. I am going to save my father if I have to go on my knees to every United States Senator. I'll go to the White House; I'll tell the President what you are! Marry your son? No, thank you! No, thank you!"
And Shirley swept from the room, leaving Ryder speechless, staring at his son.
When she reached her room she broke into a fit of violent sobbing. She realized it was too late to leave the house that night; she must wait until morning.
In the library a solitary figure paced to and fro—to and fro; he was having his first fight with himself.
Presently he called the long-distance to Washington, then went to Shirley's room. She was sitting as she had been, but when she heard the knock she rose, went to the door and opened it; but, when she saw who it was, all her old hauteur came back; she was again the daughter fighting for her father, even though vanquished, still proud. Coldly she waited for him to speak.
"You make it very hard for me to begin. I've had Washington by 'phone this morning-you needn't worry any more—about your father.”
"You mean that you are going to Washington and going to save my father?" “Not for his sake, but because I want you to marry my son.
A girl so loyal to her father will be loyal to her husband. You're the first living soul who ever has beaten John Burkett Ryder, and still I don't feel that I've been beaten so badly after all, for I always try to get the best of everything for the family—and I want you in the family."
him a cabinet photo, he gazed for a moment or two, Then pleaded, “Sweetheart, won't you give me the lovely original,
too?" “If you're positive, dear, you love me," she said, through a film of
tears, "A negative I cannot give you—I'm yours to the end of our years. So the courtship was quick to develop, their marriage was fixed up
And now in a middle-class suburb she is steadily toning him down.