The Titan

by Theodore Dreiser

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Chapter XXXI: Untoward Disclosures

Coincident with these public disturbances and of subsequent hearing upon them was the discovery by Editor Haguenin of Cowperwood's relationship with Cecily. It came about not through Aileen, who was no longer willing to fight Cowperwood in this matter, but through Haguenin's lady society editor, who, hearing rumors in the social world, springing from heaven knows where, and being beholden to Haguenin for many favors, had carried the matter to him in a very direct way. Haguenin, a man of insufficient worldliness in spite of his journalistic profession, scarcely believed it. Cowperwood was so suave, so commercial. He had heard many things concerning him—his past—but Cowperwood's present state in Chicago was such, it seemed to him, as to preclude petty affairs of this kind. Still, the name of his daughter being involved, he took the matter up with Cecily, who under pressure confessed. She made the usual plea that she was of age, and that she wished to live her own life—logic which she had gathered largely from Cowperwood's attitude. Haguenin did nothing about it at first, thinking to send Cecily off to an aunt in Nebraska; but, finding her intractable, and fearing some counter-advice or reprisal on the part of Cowperwood, who, by the way, had indorsed paper to the extent of one hundred thousand dollars for him, he decided to discuss matters first. It meant a cessation of relations and some inconvenient financial readjustments; but it had to be. He was just on the point of calling on Cowperwood when the latter, unaware as yet of the latest development in regard to Cecily, and having some variation of his council programme to discuss with Haguenin, asked him over the 'phone to lunch. Haguenin was much surprised, but in a way relieved. "I am busy," he said, very heavily, "but cannot you come to the office some time to-day? There is something I would like to see you about."

Cowperwood, imagining that there was some editorial or local political development on foot which might be of interest to him, made an appointment for shortly after four. He drove to the publisher's office in the Press Building, and was greeted by a grave and almost despondent man.

"Mr. Cowperwood," began Haguenin, when the financier entered, smart and trig, his usual air of genial sufficiency written all over him, "I have known you now for something like fourteen years, and during this time I have shown you nothing but courtesy and good will. It is true that quite recently you have done me various financial favors, but that was more due, I thought, to the sincere friendship you bore me than to anything else. Quite accidentally I have learned of the relationship that exists between you and my daughter. I have recently spoken to her, and she admitted all that I need to know. Common decency, it seems to me, might have suggested to you that you leave my child out of the list of women you have degraded. Since it has not, I merely wish to say to you"—and Mr. Haguenin's face was very tense and white—"that the relationship between you and me is ended. The one hundred thousand dollars you have indorsed for me will be arranged for otherwise as soon as possible, and I hope you will return to me the stock of this paper that you hold as collateral. Another type of man, Mr. Cowperwood, might attempt to make you suffer in another way. I presume that you have no children of your own, or that if you have you lack the parental instinct; otherwise you could not have injured me in this fashion. I believe that you will live to see that this policy does not pay in Chicago or anywhere else."

Haguenin turned slowly on his heel toward his desk. Cowperwood, who had listened very patiently and very fixedly, without a tremor of an eyelash, merely said: "There seems to be no common intellectual ground, Mr. Haguenin, upon which you and I can meet in this matter. You cannot understand my point of view. I could not possibly adopt yours. However, as you wish it, the stock will be returned to you upon receipt of my indorsements. I cannot say more than that."

He turned and walked unconcernedly out, thinking that it was too bad to lose the support of so respectable a man, but also that he could do without it. It was silly the way parents insisted on their daughters being something that they did not wish to be.

Haguenin stood by his desk after Cowperwood had gone, wondering where he should get one hundred thousand dollars quickly, and also what he should do to make his daughter see the error of her ways. It was an astonishing blow he had received, he thought, in the house of a friend. It occurred to him that Walter Melville Hyssop, who was succeeding mightily with his two papers, might come to his rescue, and that later he could repay him when the Press was more prosperous. He went out to his house in a quandary concerning life and chance; while Cowperwood went to the Chicago Trust Company to confer with Videra, and later out to his own home to consider how he should equalize this loss. The state and fate of Cecily Haguenin was not of so much importance as many other things on his mind at this time.

Far more serious were his cogitations with regard to a liaison he had recently ventured to establish with Mrs. Hosmer Hand, wife of an eminent investor and financier. Hand was a solid, phlegmatic, heavy-thinking person who had some years before lost his first wife, to whom he had been eminently faithful. After that, for a period of years he had been a lonely speculator, attending to his vast affairs; but finally because of his enormous wealth, his rather presentable appearance and social rank, he had been entrapped by much social attention on the part of a Mrs. Jessie Drew Barrett into marrying her daughter Caroline, a dashing skip of a girl who was clever, incisive, calculating, and intensely gay. Since she was socially ambitious, and without much heart, the thought of Hand's millions, and how advantageous would be her situation in case he should die, had enabled her to overlook quite easily his heavy, unyouthful appearance and to see him in the light of a lover. There was criticism, of course. Hand was considered a victim, and Caroline and her mother designing minxes and cats; but since the wealthy financier was truly ensnared it behooved friends and future satellites to be courteous, and so they were. The wedding was very well attended. Mrs. Hand began to give house-parties, teas, musicales, and receptions on a lavish scale.

Cowperwood never met either her or her husband until he was well launched on his street-car programme. Needing two hundred and fifty thousand dollars in a hurry, and finding the Chicago Trust Company, the Lake City Bank, and other institutions heavily loaded with his securities, he turned in a moment of inspirational thought to Hand. Cowperwood was always a great borrower. His paper was out in large quantities. He introduced himself frequently to powerful men in this way, taking long or short loans at high or low rates of interest, as the case might be, and sometimes finding some one whom he could work with or use. In the case of Hand, though the latter was ostensibly of the enemies' camp—the Schryhart-Union-Gas-Douglas-Trust-Company crowd—nevertheless Cowperwood had no hesitation in going to him. He wished to overcome or forestall any unfavorable impression. Though Hand, a solemn man of shrewd but honest nature, had heard a number of unfavorable rumors, he was inclined to be fair and think the best. Perhaps Cowperwood was merely the victim of envious rivals.

When the latter first called on him at his office in the Rookery Building, he was most cordial. "Come in, Mr. Cowperwood," he said. "I have heard a great deal about you from one person and another—mostly from the newspapers. What can I do for you?"

Cowperwood exhibited five hundred thousand dollars' worth of West Chicago Street Railway stock. "I want to know if I can get two hundred and fifty thousand dollars on those by to-morrow morning."

Hand, a placid man, looked at the securities peacefully. "What's the matter with your own bank?" He was referring to the Chicago Trust Company. "Can't it take care of them for you?"

"Loaded up with other things just now," smiled Cowperwood, ingratiatingly.

"Well, if I can believe all the papers say, you're going to wreck these roads or Chicago or yourself; but I don't live by the papers. How long would you want it for?"

"Six months, perhaps. A year, if you choose."

Hand turned over the securities, eying their gold seals. "Five hundred thousand dollars' worth of six per cent. West Chicago preferred," he commented. "Are you earning six per cent.?"

"We're earning eight right now. You'll live to see the day when these shares will sell at two hundred dollars and pay twelve per cent. at that."

"And you've quadrupled the issue of the old company? Well, Chicago's growing. Leave them here until to-morrow or bring them back. Send over or call me, and I'll tell you."

They talked for a little while on street-railway and corporation matters. Hand wanted to know something concerning West Chicago land—a region adjoining Ravenswood. Cowperwood gave him his best advice.

The next day he 'phoned, and the stocks, so Hand informed him, were available. He would send a check over. So thus a tentative friendship began, and it lasted until the relationship between Cowperwood and Mrs. Hand was consummated and discovered.

In Caroline Barrett, as she occasionally preferred to sign herself, Cowperwood encountered a woman who was as restless and fickle as himself, but not so shrewd. Socially ambitious, she was anything but socially conventional, and she did not care for Hand. Once married, she had planned to repay herself in part by a very gay existence. The affair between her and Cowperwood had begun at a dinner at the magnificent residence of Hand on the North Shore Drive overlooking the lake. Cowperwood had gone to talk over with her husband various Chicago matters. Mrs. Hand was excited by his risque reputation. A little woman in stature, with intensely white teeth, red lips which she did not hesitate to rouge on occasion, brown hair, and small brown eyes which had a gay, searching, defiant twinkle in them, she did her best to be interesting, clever, witty, and she was.

"I know Frank Cowperwood by reputation, anyhow," she exclaimed, holding out a small, white, jeweled hand, the nails of which at their juncture with the flesh were tinged with henna, and the palms of which were slightly rouged. Her eyes blazed, and her teeth gleamed. "One can scarcely read of anything else in the Chicago papers."

Cowperwood returned his most winning beam. "I'm delighted to meet you, Mrs. Hand. I have read of you, too. But I hope you don't believe all the papers say about me."

"And if I did it wouldn't hurt you in my estimation. To do is to be talked about in these days."

Cowperwood, because of his desire to employ the services of Hand, was at his best. He kept the conversation within conventional lines; but all the while he was exchanging secret, unobserved smiles with Mrs. Hand, whom he realized at once had married Hand for his money, and was bent, under a somewhat jealous espionage, to have a good time anyhow. There is a kind of eagerness that goes with those who are watched and wish to escape that gives them a gay, electric awareness and sparkle in the presence of an opportunity for release. Mrs. Hand had this. Cowperwood, a past master in this matter of femininity, studied her hands, her hair, her eyes, her smile. After some contemplation he decided, other things being equal, that Mrs. Hand would do, and that he could be interested if she were very much interested in him. Her telling eyes and smiles, the heightened color of her cheeks indicated after a time that she was.

Meeting him on the street one day not long after they had first met, she told him that she was going for a visit to friends at Oconomowoc, in Wisconsin.

"I don't suppose you ever get up that far north in summer, do you?" she asked, with an air, and smiled.

"I never have," he replied; "but there's no telling what I might do if I were bantered. I suppose you ride and canoe?"

"Oh yes; and play tennis and golf, too."

"But where would a mere idler like me stay?"

"Oh, there are several good hotels. There's never any trouble about that. I suppose you ride yourself?"

"After a fashion," replied Cowperwood, who was an expert.

Witness then the casual encounter on horseback, early one Sunday morning in the painted hills of Wisconsin, of Frank Algernon Cowperwood and Caroline Hand. A jaunty, racing canter, side by side; idle talk concerning people, scenery, conveniences; his usual direct suggestions and love-making, and then, subsequently—

The day of reckoning, if such it might be called, came later.

Caroline Hand was, perhaps, unduly reckless. She admired Cowperwood greatly without really loving him. He found her interesting, principally because she was young, debonair, sufficient—a new type. They met in Chicago after a time instead of in Wisconsin, then in Detroit (where she had friends), then in Rockford, where a sister had gone to live. It was easy for him with his time and means. Finally, Duane Kingsland, wholesale flour merchant, religious, moral, conventional, who knew Cowperwood and his repute, encountered Mrs. Hand and Cowperwood first near Oconomowoc one summer's day, and later in Randolph Street, near Cowperwood's bachelor rooms. Being the man that he was and knowing old Hand well, he thought it was his duty to ask the latter if his wife knew Cowperwood intimately. There was an explosion in the Hand home. Mrs. Hand, when confronted by her husband, denied, of course, that there was anything wrong between her and Cowperwood. Her elderly husband, from a certain telltale excitement and resentment in her manner, did not believe this. He thought once of confronting Cowperwood; but, being heavy and practical, he finally decided to sever all business relationships with him and fight him in other ways. Mrs. Hand was watched very closely, and a suborned maid discovered an old note she had written to Cowperwood. An attempt to persuade her to leave for Europe—as old Butler had once attempted to send Aileen years before—raised a storm of protest, but she went. Hand, from being neutral if not friendly, became quite the most dangerous and forceful of all Cowperwood's Chicago enemies. He was a powerful man. His wrath was boundless. He looked upon Cowperwood now as a dark and dangerous man—one of whom Chicago would be well rid.

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