Moffatt raised a deprecating hand. "Oh, you needn't warn me off. I don't want to be invited to the wedding. And I don't want to forbid the banns." There was a derisive sound in Mr. Spragg's throat. "But I DO want to get out of Driscoll's office," Moffatt imperturbably continued. "There's no future there for a fellow like me. I see things big. That's the reason Apex was too tight a fit for me. It's only the little fellows that succeed in little places. New York's my size--without a single alteration. I could prove it to you to-morrow if I could put my hand on fifty thousand dollars." Mr. Spragg did not repeat his gesture of dismissal: he was once more listening guardedly but intently. Moffatt saw it and continued. "And I could put my hand on double that sum--yes, sir, DOUBLE--if you'd just step round with me to old Driscoll's office before five P. M. See the connection, Mr. Spragg?" The older man remained silent while his visitor hummed a bar or two of "In the Gloaming"; then he said: "You want me to tell Driscoll what I know about James J. Rolliver?" "I want you to tell the truth--I want you to stand for political purity in your native state. A man of your prominence owes it to the community, sir," cried Moffatt. Mr. Spragg was still tormenting his Masonic emblem. "Rolliver and I always stood together," he said at last, with a tinge of reluctance. "Well, how much have you made out of it? Ain't he always been ahead of the game?" "I can't do it--I can't do it," said Mr. Spragg, bringing his nike air max 1 clenched hand down on the desk, as if addressing an invisible throng of assailants. Moffatt rose without any evidence of disappointment in his ruddy countenance. "Well, so long," he said, moving toward the door. Near the threshold he paused to add carelessly: "Excuse my referring to a personal matter--but I understand Miss Spragg's wedding takes place next Monday." Mr. Spragg was silent. "How's that?" Moffatt continued unabashed. "I saw in the papers the date was set for the end of June." Mr. Spragg rose heavily from his seat. "I presume my daughter has her reasons," he said, moving toward the door in Moffatt's wake. "I guess she has--same as I have for wanting you to step round with me to old Driscoll's. If Undine's reasons are as good as mine--" "Stop right here, Elmer Moffatt!" the older man broke out with lifted hand. Moffatt made a burlesque feint of evading a blow; then his face grew serious, and he moved close to Mr. Spragg, whose arm had fallen to his side. "See here, I know Undine's reasons. I've had a talk with her--didn't she tell you? SHE don't beat about the bush the way you do. She told me straight out what was bothering her. She wants the Marvells to think she's right out of Kindergarten. 'No goods sent out on approval from this counter.' And I see her point--_I_ don't mean to publish my meemo'rs. Only a deal's a deal." He paused a moment, twisting his fingers about the heavy gold watch-chain that crossed his waistcoat. "Tell you what, Mr. Spragg, I don't bear malice--not against Undine, anyway--and if I could have afforded it I'd have been glad enough to oblige her and forget old times. But you didn't hesitate to kick me when I was down and it's taken me a day or two to get on my legs again after that kicking. I see my way now to get there and keep there; and there's a kinder poetic justice in your being the man to help me up. If I can get hold of fifty thousand dollars within a day or so I don't care who's got the start of me. I've got a dead sure thing in sight, and you're the only man that can get it for me. Now do you see where we're coming out?" Mr. Spragg, during this discourse, had remained motionless, his hands in his pockets, his jaws moving mechanically, as though he mumbled a tooth-pick under his beard. His sallow cheek had turned a shade paler, and his brows hung threateningly nike air max 90 over his half-closed eyes. But there was no threat--there was scarcely more than a note of dull curiosity--in the voice with which he said: "You mean to talk?" Moffatt's rosy face grew as hard as a steel safe. "I mean YOU to talk--to old Driscoll." He paused, and then added: "It's a hundred thousand down, between us." Mr. Spragg once more consulted his watch. "I'll see you again," he said with an effort. Moffatt struck one fist against the other. "No, SIR--you won't! You'll only hear from me--through the Marvell family. Your news ain't worth a dollar to Driscoll if he don't get it to-day." He was checked by the sound of steps in the outer office, and Mr. Spragg's stenographer appeared in the doorway. "It's Mr. Marvell," she announced; and Ralph Marvell, glowing with haste and happiness, stood between the two men, holding out his hand to Mr. Spragg. "Am I awfully in the way, sir? Turn me out if I am--but first let me just say a word about this necklace I've ordered for Un--" He broke off, made aware by Mr. Spragg's glance of the presence of Elmer Moffatt, who, with unwonted discretion, had dropped back into the shadow of the door. Marvell turned on Moffatt a bright gaze full of the instinctive hospitality of youth; but Moffatt looked straight past him at Mr. Spragg. The latter, as if in response to an imperceptible signal, mechanically pronounced his visitor's name; and the two young men moved toward each other. "I beg your pardon most awfully--am I breaking up an important conference?" Ralph asked as he shook hands. "Why, no--I guess we're pretty nearly through. I'll step outside and woo the blonde while you're talking," Moffatt rejoined in the same key. "Thanks so much--I shan't take two seconds." Ralph broke off to scrutinize him. "But haven't we met before? It seems to me I've seen you--just lately--" Moffatt seemed about to answer, but his reply was checked by an abrupt movement on the part of Mr. Spragg. There was a perceptible pause, during which Moffatt's bright black glance rested questioningly on Ralph; then he looked again at the older man, and their eyes held each other for a silent moment. "Why, no--not as I'm aware of, Mr. Marvell," Moffatt said, addressing himself amicably to Ralph. "Better late than never, though--and I hope to have the pleasure soon again." He divided a nod between the two men, and passed into the outer office, nike free 4.0v2 where they heard him addressing the stenographer in a strain of exaggerated gallantry. Chapter 11 The July sun enclosed in a ring of fire the ilex grove of a villa in the hills near Siena. Below, by the roadside, the long yellow house seemed to waver and palpitate in the glare; but steep by steep, behind it, the cool ilex-dusk mounted to the ledge where Ralph Marvell, stretched on his back in the grass, lay gazing up at a black reticulation of branches between which bits of sky gleamed with the hardness and brilliancy of blue enamel. Up there too the air was thick with heat; but compared with the white fire below it was a dim and tempered warmth, like that of the churches in which he and Undine sometimes took refuge at the height of the torrid days. Ralph loved the heavy Italian summer, as he had loved the light spring days leading up to it: the long line of dancing days that had drawn them on and on ever since they had left their ship at Naples four months earlier. Four months of beauty, changeful, inexhaustible, weaving itself about him in shapes of softness and strength; and beside him, hand in hand with him, embodying that spirit of shifting magic, the radiant creature through whose eyes he saw it. This was what their hastened marriage had blessed them with, giving them leisure, before summer came, to penetrate to remote folds of the southern mountains, to linger in the shade of Sicilian orange-groves, and finally, travelling by slow stages to the Adriatic, to reach the central hill-country where even in July they might hope for a breathable air. To Ralph the Sienese air was not only breathable but intoxicating. The sun, treading the earth like a vintager, drew from it heady fragrances, crushed out of it new colours. All the values of the temperate landscape were reversed: the noon high-lights were whiter but the shadows had unimagined colour. On the blackness of cork and ilex and cypress lay the green and purple lustres, the coppery iridescences, of old bronze; and night after night the skies were wine-blue and bubbling with stars. Ralph said to himself that no one who had not seen Italy thus prostrate nike free 5.0v4 beneath the sun knew what secret treasures she could yield. As he lay there, fragments of past states of emotion, fugitive felicities of thought and sensation, rose and floated on the surface of his thoughts. It was one of those moments when the accumulated impressions of life converge on heart and brain, elucidating, enlacing each other, in a mysterious confusion of beauty. He had had glimpses of such a state before, of such mergings of the personal with the general life that one felt one's self a mere wave on the wild stream of being, yet thrilled with a sharper sense of individuality than can be known within the mere bounds of the actual. But now he knew the sensation in its fulness, and with it came the releasing power of language. Words were flashing like brilliant birds through the boughs overhead; he had but to wave his magic wand to have them flutter down to him. Only they were so beautiful up there, weaving their fantastic flights against the blue, that it was pleasanter, for the moment, to watch them and let the wand lie. He stared up at the pattern they made till his eyes ached with excess of light; then he changed his position and looked at his wife. Undine, near by, leaned against a gnarled tree with the slightly constrained air of a person unused to sylvan abandonments. Her beautiful back could not adapt itself to the irregularities of the tree-trunk, and she moved a little now and then in the effort to find an easier position. But her expression was serene, and Ralph, looking up at her through drowsy lids, thought her face had never been more exquisite.  
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