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1. "There Are Heroisms All Round Us"
Mr. Hungerton, her father, really was the most tactless person upon earth,--a fluffy,
feathery, untidy cockatoo of a man, perfectly good-natured, but absolutely centered upon
his own silly self. If anything could have driven me from Gladys, it would have been the
thought of such a father-in-law. I am convinced that he really believed in his heart that I
came round to the Chestnuts three days a week for the pleasure of his company, and very
especially to hear his views upon bimetallism, a subject upon which he was by way of
being an authority.
For an hour or more that evening I listened to his monotonous chirrup about bad money
driving out good, the token value of silver, the depreciation of the rupee, and the true
standards of exchange.
"Suppose," he cried with feeble violence, "that all the debts in the world were called up
simultaneously, and immediate payment insisted upon,--what under our present
conditions would happen then?"
I gave the self-evident answer that I should be a ruined man, upon which he jumped from
his chair, reproved me for my habitual levity, which made it impossible for him to
discuss any reasonable subject in my presence, and bounced off out of the room to dress
for a Masonic meeting.
At last I was alone with Gladys, and the moment of Fate had come! All that evening I had
felt like the soldier who awaits the signal which will send him on a forlorn hope; hope of
victory and fear of repulse alternating in his mind.
She sat with that proud, delicate profile of hers outlined against the red curtain. How
beautiful she was! And yet how aloof! We had been friends, quite good friends; but never
could I get beyond the same comradeship which I might have established with one of my
fellow-reporters upon the Gazette,--perfectly frank, perfectly kindly, and perfectly
unsexual. My instincts are all against a woman being too frank and at her ease with me. It
is no compliment to a man. Where the real sex feeling begins, timidity and distrust are its
companions, heritage from old wicked days when love and violence went often hand in
hand. The bent head, the averted eye, the faltering voice, the wincing figure-- these, and
not the unshrinking gaze and frank reply, are the true signals of passion. Even in my short
life I had learned as much as that--or had inherited it in that race memory which we call
Gladys was full of every womanly quality. Some judged her to be cold and hard; but such
a thought was treason. That delicately bronzed skin, almost oriental in its coloring, that
raven hair, the large liquid eyes, the full but exquisite lips,--all the stigmata of passion
were there. But I was sadly conscious that up to now I had never found the secret of
drawing it forth. However, come what might, I should have done with suspense and bring