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Her Husband?

By Dorothy Dix

Illustrated by W. D. Stevens

I

T was when I was doing a series

of articles on “The New Woman
in Business" for the Sunday

Star that I first met Mrs. Radner. She was a youngish woman, pretty, magnetic, charmingly dressed, alert-eyed, with the mouth of a lover and the chin of a bank president—the woman, I thought as I looked at her, not so much of today as of tomorrow.

Mrs. Radner had made, as a hotelkeeper,a fortune that even men respected. Her house, the "Delnord," overflowed the year round with guests who swore by it as by their own Lares and Penates. Every inch of it, from the cretonne hangings in the bedrooms to the chastened splendor of the lobby entrance, was not only subtly expressive of a refined woman's taste and gift in home-making, but eloquent also of a commanding generalship that kept every private at his post, doing his duty.

"It's wonderful," I enthused, as we ended our inspection of the place in Mrs. Radner's sumptuous little office, and she sank down in a swivel-chair before a businesslike desk with a double row of call-buttons.

"Oh, not that,” she deprecated, "only good housekeeping multiplied, by a thousand or so. Any woman who can run her own house successfully should be able to manage a hotel. In fact, I think it's the coming profession for women. Some day all of the big hotels will be run by women. Women would bring to the profession what Darwin calls hereditary instincts' that have come down to them through hundreds of generations of good housewives—_"

The opening of the door interrupted her. I looked up and saw the figure of a man in

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, She was a youngish woman, pretty, magnetic, charmingly dressed, alert-eyed, with the mouth of a lover and the chin of a bank president-the woman not so much of

today as of tomorrow

yachting flannels silhouetted against the that I was giving the very best that was in darkness of the hall behind him.

me-every bit of intelligence and effort of “Don't wait lunch for me, Maida,” he which I was capable-to trying to help said. “I'm going to take Dalhousie up the my husband, I know now that I did him river in the boat, and I may not be back a wrong as deadly as the bitterest malignity until night.”

could invent. "My husband," said Mrs. Radner in “When I look back, I think that I marexplanation, as the man disappeared; and ried my husband because I was sweet-andthen she smiled. “He's got a new motor- twenty and had come to the love-time of boat, and he's as crazy over it as a little life, and he was the man whom I knew least boy over a Christmas toy."

in all the world, and so was clothed with “Are you also fond of motor-boating?” a romance that the boys with whom I I inquired, to make conversation.

had grown up did not possess. He had "Oh, I don't know," she replied, “I come as a stranger to the little Middlesuppose I should be if I had time, but the Western town in which I lived, and he was difference between failure and success in a tall, upstanding young fellow, and he running a house like this depends on whether found me at the psychological moment, you are always on the job or not."

when I was ready to fall in love with any That was the beginning of my acquaint- man who made love to me. ance with Mrs. Radner, an acquaintance "In our provincial community, parents that ripened into friendship and close in- took no more responsibility about the martimacy. For I found no other woman riage of their daughters than the birds do more congenial than this keen-eyed, about the mating of their young, nor do strong, capable business woman, who was I remember that I looked an inch into the full of a wise philosophy of life, and a future. Tom Radner was good-looking, tenderness and a sympathy that I never he danced well, he had the manners and knew to fail.

bearing of a gentleman, and he was the Gradually I fell into the habit of drop- agent for some sort of business house in ping into her little office for a cup of tea Chicago. That was all I knew about him, in the late afternoon, when the work of the and all I sought to know. In my experience day was done for her and the work of and observation of life, girls always picked the evening had not begun. Gradually out their husbands for themselves, and their I grew accustomed to fleeting glimpses of parents acquiesced without a murmur; her big, handsome husband, always im- and after people got married, the husbands maculately dressed, always starting off worked and made comfortable incomes to play golf or to motor-boat or to auto- which their wives spent, and they lived mobile or to amuse himself in some way, happily ever after. always idle and irresponsible.

“Of course, there was Matty Allen, whose It was in one of these talks in the dusk husband drank. They were dreadfully over our tea that Mrs. Radner first broached poor and she had to come home to live, to me a problem that I had never consid- but nothing so terrible could happen to me. ered before--the problem of the difficulty In fact, it had never happened but once of a wife helping a husband without hinder- to anyone whom I knew. We were such ing him, and without making him hate her a prosperous, moral, decent little comas we hate those to whom we are under munity. obligations.

“So I was married. The first shock I had been congratulating her for the I got, as a bride, was when I found out that thousandth time upon her success.

Tom didn't like to get up of a morning, "Have I achieved success?" she replied, and that he did like to dawdle over his vith a note of sadness in her buoyant breakfast, and that he was fully two hours voice. "I wonder if I have succeeded? later getting down to business every day I've made money. I've done good work. than anybody else in the town. This I've won for myself a position of respect didn't seem the right way to go about makamong those who know me; but I have ing a fortune to me, and I would wake him failed in the biggest thing in life. I have up a dozen times each morning before he failed as a wife; and the curious part of it would get up. I tried in every way to hurry is that my failure was the result of ту

love him off; but as he made the excuse that it and tenderness, and in the very moment was so hard for him to leave me, even for

was no use.

a few hours, my flattered vanity would not could do. I tried to make him believe that permit me to be severe.

I thought he had the making of a second “So matters went along for two or three Rockefeller in him; I tried in every way months, Tom attending less and less to in the world to inspire him, to supplement business, letting opportunities to make his weakness with my strength. But it sales that even I could see go by, if it

He would start off with great happened to be a good day for fishing, or enthusiasm, but in a little while, as soon as some one proposed a pleasure-jaunt some- the novelty of what he was doing wore off, where. Letters from the house for which he he would throw it up. He wouldn't work. worked came, breathing dissatisfaction with He wouldn't stick to anything when it the way that affairs were going, but he ceased to be play and the long steady grind refused to be warned, and called his em- started. ployers old grouches, and declared he wasn't "He lost that position. He lost many going to work himself to death for any- other positions that his patient brotherbody.

in-law got for him, or that I got for him, and "Finally one day the blow fell. He was we grew poorer and poorer, until I knew summarily dismissed, and a new man put every hardship and want.

At last we were in his place. We had been able to save again penniless, and this time we took refnothing out of his salary, and as we were uge in our destitution with his people. practically penniless, I had to undergo that "But I had had enough of eating the crowning humiliation of a woman's life- bitter bread of dependence. As Tom going back home to live on my people. could not, or rather would not, make a

“Apparently Tom did not feel about this living, I determined to strike out myself. as I did. I thought that he would move I knew that if I could not do anything else heaven and earth to get employment. He I could sweep floors and make beds, and did look around a bit in a listless, half- I made up my mind that I would do both hearted way, and if anyone had offered him for hire in somebody's house before I a bank presidency or something of the sort, would live in another home on sufferance. with short hours and nothing to do but “The one thing I knew how best to do, sign checks, he would have accepted it. the thing I have always liked to do best, But soft snaps and easy jobs are not pur- was cooking and keeping house, and so suing men in these days, and as nothing I went out and, literally on my honest face, agreeable presented itself, he would come I rented a house. I furnished it on the home after one of these bootless quests instalment plan, because that was the only and announce that business was rotten- way I could get furniture, and I advertised that there was ‘nothing doing.' Then he for boarders. And because I was deterwould throw himself into the hammock mined to succeed, because I gave every parand doze the day peacefully away.

ticle of intelligence I had to learning the “I was frantic. My people were gener- business, because I thought of it day and osity itself and made me welcome as the night, and always of how to do it better day to all they had, but they were poor and and better, and because I worked eighteen needed their moderate income for them- hours a day during those first years, I made selves. My father was old and worked a success of it, and the boarding-house grew hard, and the sight of him toiling to feed into the 'Delnord,' and I became a rich and me and my big, strong, husky husband prosperous woman. · ate into my very soul. Besides, I am “Because I loved him, because I was so naturally energetic and industrious myself, sorry for him, because his weakness appealed and I think there is nothing on earth that to the eternal mother in me that is in every fills an active woman with such contempt woman, I made my husband my most for a man as for him to be just trifling, lazy, cherished guest, my 'star boarder. All of and ‘no account.' She could forgive dis- his friends had fallen away from him, dishonesty or murder more easily

gusted by his lack of energy and manliness, "With the coming of the fall I persuaded but I chung the tighter to him. I still Tom to go to Chicago and look for work. believed, with a woman's fatuous faith His brother-in-law secured a place for him and her insane egotism, that I could make in a wholesale house at a small salary, and a man of him by encouraging him, by bolI flew to him to help him by my presence stering him up, and by never letting him and brace him up. I did all that a woman see that I thought that he had failed.

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We were talking in Mrs. Rauner's businesslike little office when the door opened and a man in yachting flannels

Dalhousie up the river in the boat, and I may not be back until night." "My husband,"

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now

or

did him so terrible a wrong. That was where my love misused him more than hate could have done. That is why I cannot but accuse myself. “I know

that when I did not shut my door in his face and tell him that I would not support a strong, ablebodied man—that

he must either

either work starve-I took

away from him his one chance of manhood. I made him a parasite. I enervated him by making it so easy and so comfortable at home that he succumbed to the temptation of taking life easily. If I had cast him out and made my love the reward for his effort, he might have struggled with his weakness and triumphed over it.

“But I didn't do it. I didn't have the courage to do it. I couldn't bear to think of his being cold and hungry when I had warmth and food, and so I have made him into the weakling he is. I robbed him of his one last chance of manhood, and he hates me for it, without knowing why.

“And that is why I say that I have failed as a wife, and why most of us women who achieve professional successes fail as wives. The wives who really help their husbands are the weak, dependent women who force out of men the best that is in them. Believe me, the Daughter of the Horse Leech, continually crying more, more,' is behind the door of many a rich man's success.'

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interrupted us. “Don't wait lunch for me, Maida," he said. “I'm going to take said Mrs. Radner in explanation, as the man disappeared

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