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ordinate did not even feel hurt. People were willing to lose. their own enthusiasms in Michaelson's; he carried everyone with him.
Except his wife. He faced her that evening, but he did not say anything to her about the opening of the cut. She was still silent toward him; he had subdued her there by the edge of the canal, but perhaps he had not conquered her after all. The tension between them was vague, not to be understood. He could not resolve it. Even as he met her in the hallway, coming in, he felt it. He thrust his hands into his coat pockets, leaned back against the wall, his brows puckering in the curious, irresolute way that he sometimes, but very rarely, had.
"What is the earthly use, Lucy?" he demanded suddenly. She stood facing him for a moment, undecided, suppressed, full of a great nervous force.
"None at all, Hal," she said simply.
"Then why-?" and he moved toward her. She shrank back. "Don't let's talk about it. You have made the sacrifice. That is all."
"No," he said, again level-eyed and firm and dominant. "This is your whim. I have not made a sacrifice. There is no sacrifice!"
“That is not true." She laughed very shortly. "It wouldn't be complimentary to me if it were."
"This is merest madness," he said. "How crazy! We are man and wife, not children to play at quarrels in this way."
"You call it playing?"
"It is playing-nonsense. You will get over it; you will see the realities. Do you think that I could let myself believe what you say?"
She seemed for a moment at a loss. It was a deeper flash from his nature than she could comprehend. He stepped toward her again. "Things would not be possible for me if I did. You will know that in a little while. And then you will laugh with me over this foolery."
It was the last word that jarred upon her. She turned away abruptly and left him alone. He could not understand, and stood with his brow wrinkling again. The waters were troubled, but
he had a clear purpose, a sure goal. He knew himself. He went upstairs to change his clothes. He would fight his way through somehow.
So he held himself to it. That "somehow" was the pin upon which his life's fabric hung. Day after day he watched the big, ugly, rattling dredges eat out the channel-way in the canal cut, slowly coming up from either end, deepening, widening, overcoming all obstacles-somehow. Day after day he sat in his offices or went up and down in the launches, jacking things up here, pushing them along there, keeping all his human machinery running steadily, while the sea-gulls circled above and cried their derision at the men who fed them with their scraps. He was doing a great work that was to serve a great sea-coast city and many other cities and towns and farms that poured their streams of commerce through its ocean gates, a work that was to operate on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, in countless ways. And if the sea-gulls laughed at him, he did not notice them.
With the coming of the high spring tides the task began to shape up to its completion. But here a new thing began to force itself gradually upon him. One day he was going down the canal in his motor-launch. There was a particularly strong tide that morning and it set into the new channel, pouring along in disquieting rips and eddies. Michaelson anxiously watched the sea-water racing in flat, treacherous, turning pools. The launch made heavy work against it. A dredge and a couple of barges were anchored near the bank. In trying to go alongside, the launch man bungled, brought the boat around too late, and the current carried it full into the side of the dredge. Michaelson was standing in the stern-sheets; the tide caught the launch so quickly that it struck before he realized what was happening, and he was thrown out on the dredge's deck.
"Strong tide to-day," he said to the engine-man, when he had picked himself up.
"Yes, sir; it do set in here a bit pert. It's been gettin' stronger lately."
"Yes, sir. I guess diggin' out the channel sort o' lets it through easier. Yesterday we pretty near lost them two barges, in the
bend. One line parted just where the current strikes in right below the elbow, but the other held till the tug jockeyed 'em up all right."
Michaelson pondered on that, and went away down the channel in his launch very thoughtfully. His eyes fell on the gunwale where it had struck the dredge. The wooden top-streak was all crushed in.
It worried him a good deal. A month later a tugboat captain came into his office shack. The man's face showed an expressionless kind of suffering that is common with sailors.
"What is it, Captain?"
"I-I have to report-my tug's been lost, sir."
"The tide makes very strong, sir-"
"The tide?" said Michaelson, very quickly looking up.
"Yes, sir, just below the bend. My barges got out of hand. Tried to hold 'em out to the east side, but the current swung me around. I couldn't help it."
"It carried me into the new bridge. Hit broadside on to the second pier. It stove me in. I tried to beach her, but the engine-room flooded. She sank just on the east side of the channel. No one lost."
Michaelson, studying the wall, forgot the captain. The man shiftly uneasily. "Oh," said Michaelson, "that's all. I daresay it was unavoidable." The sailor went out, and Michaelson kept his eyes on the wall. He could not domineer over the tides. In the evening, as he went back to the city across the new bridge, he saw the funnel and pilot house of the tug rising from the surface just below him. The sea-water ran in and out of the windows wickedly.
Facing his wife across the supper table, he told her about the accident. She said nothing in reply.
"You aren't interested?" he asked.
"No. Why should I be?”
"Then you don't understand quite. The currents are very much stronger than we expected. If they are too strong, the canal will be useless. Utterly useless."
"Lucy," he said, suddenly appealing to her as he had never done before in their strange conflict, "it would ruin the whole thing! Ruin it, all."
"And everything would go for nothing?"
She pondered a moment, and said in a curious, musing tone, only half ironical, "You can't tell the ocean what you told those strikers, can you?"
She did not answer. He got up, and walked around the table until he stood by her chair. But, as if she were afraid to, she did not look up.
"Lucy, why do you say that to me?"
"I don't know, Hal. Because I thought it, I suppose. Perhaps" and there was a slight softening in her tone-"perhaps I should not have."
"You must not keep this up! You must support me. You
She jerked her head quickly, and repeated the word, hard and sharp again. “Must ?"
"Oh, don't let's have any more of this nonsense."
"I am not seeking it."
He walked up and down the room, more shaken than she realized, because she did not look at him. "Why do you keep it up? Why will you be so foolish?"
"Is it such foolishness? Then why don't you tell me what you told the strikers, and sweep it all away? Yes, why don't you?"
He paused. "Because I-" he began, and broke off. At the first word she had glanced at him eagerly, then her face set once. more in the old antagonism. He went on: "What is the matter with you?"
"Nothing is the matter with me-except yourself. You domineer over me, triumph over me, force me to your way. And I don't like it."
"But that's not the point!"
He was checked, stopped dead. He returned to his chair and stared at her wretchedly. It was a strange clash of wills, a subtle sort of war that perhaps neither of them understood in the least. It was a tension of ghastly forces, forces that were beyond him, and that cracked his endurance... . .
A great many people came down to see the opening of the canal. It was mid-summer, and they brought their lunches, and sat on the ground eating them. The loose papers fluttered about and fell into the running stream of blue sea-water that sparkled between the raw, sandy banks. And the papers spun foolishly in the eddies and then went sailing down on the rapid current, until it swallowed them. The people went on eating and throwing more papers into the canal, and the bushes high along the edge of the cut, all dusty green above the blank white slope, nodded. All sorts of small-craft were anchored by the inner entrance, and the financiers came back up the river again in their white steam-yacht. They sat on the after deck under the awnings and drank superlative whiskey and really enjoyed themselves very much in watching the jelly-fish going by overside. There would be speeches and ceremonies-the usual thing. The speeches would bore them tremendously, but the crowds would look at them and whisper their names about and perhaps even point at them, and quite unconsciously they looked forward to the affair. After all one must have some compensation for being a magnate, and they were in excellent good humor. They joked with Michaelson, who met them at the dock.
Michaelson and his striking young wife. He was so absorbed that he nearly forgot to introduce her. The first financier rallied him about that, but he did not respond. One of the lunch papers was whirling along in the tide past the dock. Very rapidly. Michaelson was worried. The bankers were very much too absurd.
They climbed over railroad tracks, went around a big steamshovel, and up to the speaking stand in front of the canal's office shack. That was the place where he had faced his striking workmen. "How easily they gave in," he thought. He said to his wife, "People are so stupid," thinking out loud, as it were. She regarded him curiously, half afraid of the mood he was in. He