The Tempting of Tavernake
I.11. A Bewildering Offer
Elizabeth stood with her hands behind her back, leaning slightly against the writing-table.
The professor, with his broad-brimmed hat clinched in his fingers, walked restlessly up
and down the little room. The discussion had not been altogether a pleasant one.
Elizabeth was composed but serious, her father nervous and excited.
"You are mad, Elizabeth!" he declared. "Is it that you do not understand, or will not? I tell
you that we must go."
She shrugged her shoulders.
"Where would you drag me to?" she asked. "We certainly can't go back to New York."
He turned fiercely upon her.
"Whose fault is it that we can't?" he demanded. "If it weren't for you and your
confounded schemes, I could be walking down Broadway next week. God's own city it is,
too!" he muttered. "I wish we'd never seen those two young men."
"It was a pity, perhaps," she admitted, "yet we had to do something. We were absolutely
stonybroke, as they say over here."
"Anyway, we've got to get out of this," the professor declared.
"My dear father," she replied, "I will agree that if a new city or a new world could arise
from the bottom of the
Once more he struck the table. Then he threw out his hands above his head with the
melodramatic instinct which had always been strong in his blood.
"Do you think that I am a fool?" he cried. "Do you think I do not know that if there were
not something moving in your brain you would think no more of that clerk, that
bourgeois estate agent, than of the door-mat beneath your feet? It is what I always
complain about. You make use of me as a tool. There are always things which I do not
understand. He comes here, this young man, under a pretext, whether he knows it or not.
You talk to him for an hour at a time. There should be nothing in your life which I do not
know of, Elizabeth," he continued, his voice suddenly hoarse as he leaned towards her.
"Can't you see that there is danger in friendships for you and for me, there is danger in
intimacies of any sort? I share the danger; I have a right to share the knowledge. This
young man has no money of his own, I take it. Of what use is he to us?"
"You are too hasty, my dear father," she replied. "Let me assure you that there is nothing
at all mysterious about Mr. Tavernake. The simple truth is that the young man rather