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The Price Of Romance
by [?]

They were paying the price of their romance, and the question was whether they would pay it cheerfully. They had been married a couple of years, and the first flush of excitement over their passion and the stumbling-blocks it had met was fading away. When he, an untried young lawyer and delicate dilettante, had married her she was a Miss Benton, of St. Louis, “niece of Oliphant, that queer old fellow who made his money in the Tobacco Trust,” and hence with no end of prospects. Edwards had been a pleasant enough fellow, and Oliphant had not objected to his loafing away a vacation about the old house at Quogue. Marriage with his niece, the one remaining member of his family who walked the path that pleased him, was another thing. She had plenty of warning. Had he not sent his only son adrift as a beggar because he had married a little country cousin? He could make nothing out of Edwards except that he was not keen after business–loafed much, smoked much, and fooled with music, possibly wrote songs at times.

Yet Miss Benton had not expected that cruel indifference when she announced her engagement to the keen old man. For she was fond of him and grateful.

“When do you think of marrying?” had been his single comment. She guessed the unexpressed complement to that thought, “You can stay here until that time. Then good-by.”

She found in herself an admirable spirit, and her love added devotion and faith in the future, her lover’s future. So she tided over the months of her engagement, when her uncle’s displeasure settled down like a fog over the pleasant house. Edwards would run down frequently, but Oliphant managed to keep out of his way. It was none of his affair, and he let them see plainly this aspect of it. Her spirit rose. She could do as other women did, get on without candy and roses, and it hurt her to feel that she had expected money from her uncle. She could show him that they were above that.

So they were married and went to live in a little flat in Harlem, very modest, to fit their income. Oliphant had bade her good-by with the courtesy due to a tiresome Sunday visitor. “Oh, you’re off, are you?” his indifferent tones had said. “Well, good-by; I hope you will have a good time.” And that was all. Even the colored cook had said more; the servants in general looked deplorable. Wealth goes so well with a pretty, bright young woman!

Thus it all rested in the way they would accept the bed they had made. Success would be ample justification. Their friends watched to see how well they would solve the problem they had so jauntily set themselves.

Edwards was by no means a faineant–his record at the Columbia Law School promised better than that, and he had found a place in a large office that might answer for the stepping-stone. As yet he had not individualized himself; he was simply charming, especially in correct summer costume, luxuriating in indolent conversation. He had the well- bred, fine-featured air of so many of the graduates from our Eastern colleges. The suspicion of effeminacy which he suggested might be unjust, but he certainly had not experienced what Oliphant would call “life.” He had enough interest in music to dissipate in it. Marriage was an excellent settler, though, on a possible income of twelve hundred!

The two years had not the expected aspiring march, however; ten-dollar cases, even, had not been plenty in Edwards’s path, and he suspected that he was not highly valued in his office. He had been compelled to tutor a boy the second year, and the hot summers made him listless. In short, he felt that he had missed his particular round in the ladder. He should have studied music, or tried for the newspapers as a musical critic. Sunday afternoons he would loll over the piano, picturing the other life– that life which is always so alluring! His wife followed him heroically into all his moods with that pitiful absorption such women give to the men they love. She believed in him tremendously, if not as a lawyer, as a man and an artist. Somehow she hadn’t been an inspiration, and for that she humbly blamed herself. How was it accomplished, this inspiration? A loving wife inspired the ordinary man. Why not an artist?