Vandover and the Brute
About a week later Hiram Wade, Ida's father, brought suit against Vandover to recover
twenty-five thousand dollars, claiming that his daughter had killed herself because she
had been ruined by him and that he alone was responsible for her suicide.
Vandover had passed this week in an agony of grief over the loss of his art, a grief that
seemed even sharper than that which he had felt over the death of his father. For this last
calamity was like the death of a child of his, some dear, sweet child, that might have been
his companion throughout all his life. At times it seemed to him impossible that his art
should fail him in this manner, and again and again he would put himself at his easel,
only to experience afresh the return of the numbness in his brain, the impotency of his
He had begun little by little to pick up the course of his life once more, and on a certain
Wednesday morning was looking listlessly through the morning paper as he sat in his
window-seat. The room was delightful, flooded with the morning sun, the Assyrian bas-
reliefs just touched with a ruddy light, the Renaissance portraits looking down at him
through a fine golden haze; a little fire, just enough to blunt the keenness of the early
morning air, snapping in the famous tiled and flamboyant stove. All about the room was a
pleasant fragrance of coffee and good tobacco.
Vandover caught sight of the announcement of the suit with a sudden sharp intake of
breath that was half gasp, half cry, starting up from the window-seat, reading it over
again and again with staring eyes.
It was a very short paragraph, not more than a dozen lines, lost at the bottom of a column,
among the cheap advertisements. It made no allusion to any former stage of the affair;
from its tone Ida might have killed herself only the day before. It seemed hardly more
than a notice that some enterprising reporter, burrowing in the records at the City Hall,
had unearthed and brought to light with the idea that it might be of possible interest to a
few readers of the paper. But there was his name staring back at him from out the gray
blur of the type, like some reflection of himself seen in a mirror. Insignificant as the
paragraph was, it seemed to Vandover as though it was the only item in the whole paper.
One might as well have trumpeted his crime through the streets.
"But twenty-five thousand dollars!" exclaimed Vandover, terrified. "Where will I find
twenty-five thousand dollars?" And at once he fell to wondering as to whether or no in
default of payment he could be sent to the penitentiary. The idea of winning the suit did
not enter his mind an instant; he did not even dream of fighting it.
For the moment it was like fire driving out fire. He forgot the loss of his art, his mind
filled only with the sense of the last disaster. What could he do? Twenty-five thousand
dollars! It would ruin him. A cry of exasperation, of rage at his own folly, escaped him.
"Ah, what a fool I've been!"