AS for Marshall Haney, as he went about New York and Brooklyn in search of his relations, he was astounded at the translation of the Irish laborer into something else. "In my time, when I left Troy, all the work in the streets was done by 'micks,' as they called 'em. Now they're gone—whisked away as ye'd sweep away a swarm of red ants, and here's these black Dagos in their places. Where's the Irishman gone— up or down? That's what's eatin' me. Is he dead or translated to a higher speer? 'Tis a mysterious dispensation, and troubles me much."
He found a good many Donahues in Brooklyn, and plenty of them barkeepers; and after he'd pulled up half a dozen times at these "joints" Bertha began to pout. She didn't like such places; and as they were riding in a showy auto-car (the grandest Lucius could secure), they were pretty middling noticeable. At last she said, more sharply than she had ever spoken to him before: "Mart, I don't want any more of this. If you want to visit all the saloons in Brooklyn, I don't. Here's where I get out."
He was instantly remorseful. "I was thinkin' of that myself, Bertie. Lucius and I will go on alone. We'll send you back to the hotel in the 'mobile whilst we take a hack."
Half doubting, half glad, she consented to this arrangement, and was soon whirling back towards the ferry, her guilty feeling giving place to a sense of relief, as if a huge weight had been lifted from her shoulders—-for a moment. She began to understand that half the pleasure she had taken in her hours with Moss and Humiston lay in the freedom from her husband's overshadowing presence. He was not a man to be ignored, as she had seen wives ignore and put aside their meek partners. Marshall Haney even yet was a dominating personality, even though his family affairs were so insistent and so difficult to manage or explain. If the father came her joy in her home would be gone, and yet she had no right to refuse him shelter.
At the same time she was less sure of her place in the world, now that she was alone. She had the feeling that if anything were to happen — if the motorman should demand his pay at the door, or the hotel-keeper refuse to go her bond, she would be helpless. The Captain, for all his shortcomings and physical disability, was master of every situation. He had been schooled by stern powers, and his capabilities of defence were still equal to almost any need.
On the ferry-boat she found herself surrounded by the swarms of people who are forever calculating expenditures, who never desert a garment, and who finger a nickel lovingly; and she caught them looking at her as upon one of those who enjoy without earning it the product of their toil. They made way for her, as she got down and walked to the railing, as they would have done for a millionaire's daughter, a little surlily, and she divined without understanding this enmity, but was too exalted by the glittering bay, with its romance of ship and sea and shore and town, to very much mind what her threadbare fellow-passengers thought of her. These dark-hulled, ocean-going vessels, these alien flags, widened her horizon—deepened her sense of the earth's wonder and the wide-flung nerves of national interest. From this sea-level she looked up in fancy to her brother's ranch near Sibley as at a cabin on a mountain-side. How still and faint and far it seemed at the moment!
At the word of the chauffeur she climbed back into her car, returning to the isolation which money now provided for her. And so, girt about with velvet and costly wood and gilding, she rode up through the tearing throngs of the wharf, whirling past cars and trucks, outspeeding cabs and carriages, protected by a gambler's name, royally isolated and defensible by his money. As she spun through Fifth Avenue, so smooth of pave, so crowded, so sparkling, so far-reaching in its suggestions of security and power, the girl's soul entered upon a new and fierce phase of its struggle.
It was a larger and more absorbing fairy story than any in the Arabian Nights. Without Marshall Haney, without the gold he brought, she could never have even looked upon this scene. She would at this moment have been standing inside her little counter at the Golden Eagle, selling cigars to some brakeman or cowboy. Ed Winchell would be coming to ask her, as usual, to marry him, and her mother would still be toiling in the hot kitchen or be at rest in her grave. Did ever Aladdin's lamp translate its owner farther or lift him higher ? Was not her refusal to be Marshall Haney's wife the basest ingratitude ?
Not merely so, but the girl felt in herself potentialities not yet drawn upon, unlimited capabilities leading towards the accomplishment of good. Money had not merely the magic of exalting, educating, refining, and ennobling the individual (herself); it had radiating, transforming power for others. It could diffuse warmth like a flame, and send forth joy like a bell. "With it I am safe, strong: I can help the poor. Without it I am only a struggling girl, like millions of others, with no chance and no power to aid those who suffer." But at this point her love re-entered and her sense of right was confused. After all the heart ruled.
At the hotel entrance the head porter was waiting to help her out, and the chauffeur, without a word or look of reminder, puffed away, secure in the reputation Lucius had given to Haney. As she went to her room the maid met her with gentle solicitude, and, after attending to her needs, considerately withdrew, leaving her deep-sunk in troubled musing.
Up to the coming of Ben Fordyce she had accepted all that Haney gave her as from one good friend to another. Once having satisfied herself that the money was clean of any taint from gambling-hall and saloon, she had not hesitated to use it. But now something was rising within her which changed the current of her purpose. Haney was no longer before the bar of her conscience; the soul under question was her own. Dimly, yet with ever-growing definiteness, she saw the moment of decision approach. She must soon decide whether to continue on the smooth, broad highway with Haney, or to return to the mountain-trail from which he had taken her.