**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


The Consequences
by [?]

Eastman always smiled when he met Cavenaugh in the entrance hall, serenely going forth to or returning from gladiatorial combats with joy, or when he saw him rolling smoothly up to the door in his car in the morning after a restful night in one of the remarkable new roadhouses he was always finding. Eastman had seen a good many young men disappear on Cavenaugh’s route, and he admired this young man’s endurance.

To-night, for the first time, he had got a whiff of something unwholesome about the fellow–bad nerves, bad company, something on hand that he was ashamed of, a visitor old and vicious, who must have had a key to Cavenaugh’s apartment, for he was evidently there when Cavenaugh returned at seven o’clock. Probably it was the same man Cavenaugh had seen in the hansom. He must have been able to let himself in, for Cavenaugh kept no man but his chauffeur; or perhaps the janitor had been instructed to let him in. In either case, and whoever he was, it was clear enough that Cavenaugh was ashamed of him and was mixing up in questionable business of some kind.

Eastman sent Cavenaugh’s book back by Rollins, and for the next few weeks he had no word with him beyond a casual greeting when they happened to meet in the hall or the elevator. One Sunday morning Cavenaugh telephoned up to him to ask if he could motor out to a roadhouse in Connecticut that afternoon and have supper; but when Eastman found there were to be other guests he declined.

* * * * *

On New Year’s eve Eastman dined at the University Club at six o’clock and hurried home before the usual manifestations of insanity had begun in the streets. When Rollins brought his smoking coat, he asked him whether he wouldn’t like to get off early.

“Yes, sir. But won’t you be dressing, Mr. Eastman?” he inquired.

“Not to-night.” Eastman handed him a bill. “Bring some change in the morning. There’ll be fees.”

Rollins lost no time in putting everything to rights for the night, and Eastman couldn’t help wishing that he were in such a hurry to be off somewhere himself. When he heard the hall door close softly, he wondered if there were any place, after all, that he wanted to go. From his window he looked down at the long lines of motors and taxis waiting for a signal to cross Broadway. He thought of some of their probable destinations and decided that none of those places pulled him very hard. The night was warm and wet, the air was drizzly. Vapor hung in clouds about the Times Building, half hid the top of it, and made a luminous haze along Broadway. While he was looking down at the army of wet, black carriage-tops and their reflected headlights and tail-lights, Eastman heard a ring at his door. He deliberated. If it were a caller, the hall porter would have telephoned up. It must be the janitor. When he opened the door, there stood a rosy young man in a tuxedo, without a coat or hat.

“Pardon. Should I have telephoned? I half thought you wouldn’t be in.”

Eastman laughed. “Come in, Cavenaugh. You weren’t sure whether you wanted company or not, eh, and you were trying to let chance decide it? That was exactly my state of mind. Let’s accept the verdict.” When they emerged from the narrow hall into his sitting-room, he pointed out a seat by the fire to his guest. He brought a tray of decanters and soda bottles and placed it on his writing table.

Cavenaugh hesitated, standing by the fire. “Sure you weren’t starting for somewhere?”

“Do I look it? No, I was just making up my mind to stick it out alone when you rang. Have one?” he picked up a tall tumbler.

“Yes, thank you. I always do.”

Eastman chuckled. “Lucky boy! So will I. I had a very early dinner. New York is the most arid place on holidays,” he continued as he rattled the ice in the glasses. “When one gets too old to hit the rapids down there, and tired of gobbling food to heathenish dance music, there is absolutely no place where you can get a chop and some milk toast in peace, unless you have strong ties of blood brotherhood on upper Fifth Avenue. But you, why aren’t you starting for somewhere?”