Sidney's letter was not the only one he received that day. When, in
response to Katie's summons, he rose heavily and prepared for dinner, he
found an unopened envelope on the table. It was from Max Wilson:-DEAR LE MOYNE,--I have been going around in a sort of haze all day. The
fact that I only heard your voice and scarcely saw you last night has made
the whole thing even more unreal.
I have a feeling of delicacy about trying to see you again so soon. I'm
bound to respect your seclusion. But there are some things that have got
to be discussed.
You said last night that things were "different" with you. I know about
that. You'd had one or two unlucky accidents. Do you know any man in our
profession who has not? And, for fear you think I do not know what I am
talking about, the thing was threshed out at the State Society when the
question of the tablet came up. Old Barnes got up and said: "Gentlemen,
all of us live more or less in glass houses. Let him who is without guilt
among us throw the first stone!" By George! You should have heard them!
I didn't sleep last night. I took my little car and drove around the
country roads, and the farther I went the more outrageous your position
became. I'm not going to write any rot about the world needing men like
you, although it's true enough. But our profession does. You working in a
gas office, while old O'Hara bungles and hacks, and I struggle along on
what I learned from you!
It takes courage to step down from the pinnacle you stood on. So it's not
cowardice that has set you down here. It's wrong conception. And I've
thought of two things. The first, and best, is for you to go back. No one
has taken your place, because no one could do the work. But if that's out
of the question,--and only you know that, for only you know the facts,--the
next best thing is this, and in all humility I make the suggestion.
Take the State exams under your present name, and when you've got your
certificate, come in with me. This isn't magnanimity. I'll be getting a
damn sight more than I give.
Think it over, old man.
It is a curious fact that a man who is absolutely untrustworthy about women
is often the soul of honor to other men. The younger Wilson, taking his
pleasures lightly and not too discriminatingly, was making an offer that
meant his ultimate eclipse, and doing it cheerfully, with his eyes open.