White Ashes

Sidney R. Kennedy
White Ashes, by Sidney R.
Kennedy and Alden

The Project Gutenberg eBook, White Ashes, by Sidney R. Kennedy
and Alden C. Noble
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org

Title: White Ashes
Author: Sidney R. Kennedy and Alden C. Noble

Release Date: January 7, 2007 [eBook #20308]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
E-text prepared by Al Haines


[Transcriber's note: Full names--Sidney R. Kennedy, Alden C. Noble.]

New York The MacMillan Company 1912 All rights reserved
Copyright, 1912, by The MacMillan Company. Set up and electrotyped.
Published April, 1912.


On the top floor of one of the lesser office buildings in the insurance
district of lower New York, a man stood silent before a map desk on
which was laid an opened map of the burned city. No other man was in
the office, for this was on a Sunday; but it would not have mattered to
the man at the map had the big room presented its usual busy
appearance. All that went on about him would have passed his notice;
he only gazed stolidly from the map to the newspaper with flaring
headlines, and from newspaper back to map, trying to gauge the

measure of his calamity.
The morning papers had been able to print nothing save the bare facts
that the fire had started near a large hotel, had spread with appalling
rapidity to the adjacent buildings, and getting beyond the control of the
fire department was sweeping southward under a wind of thirty miles
an hour. The afternoon extras, however, gave fuller--and graver--details.
The central business section of the city was entirely in ruins, and the
conflagration had as yet shown no sign of a stay.
Sunday though it was, in many of the greater insurance offices on
William Street the executives had gathered and were endeavoring to
calculate the effect of this catastrophe on their assets.
But in the office on the top floor, where the man stood alone, there was
no longer any doubt. Whether the fire was checked or whether it swept
onward mattered now to him not at all; he was looking into the eyes of
ruin utter and absolute. . . . But this, perhaps, is premature, since before
this day was to arrive much water was to flow under many bridges, and
it is with the flowing of some of that water that this story has to deal.
About five o'clock, Charles Wilkinson called, as he often did, through
inclinations in which the gastronomic and the amatory were about
evenly divided. Long since, after a series of titanic but perfectly
hopeless struggles, he had abandoned all direct attempts to borrow
money from his opulent step-uncle; subsequent efforts to achieve
indirectly the same result by a myriad of methods admirably subtle and
of marked ingenuity had resulted only in equal failure. To be sure, there
had never been any really valid reason why his endeavors should have
been successful unless as compensation for years of patient labor. He
conceived his esteemed relation as a sort of safe-deposit box, to a share
of whose contents he was entitled if he could contrive to open it.
Farther back in the quest, he had approached Mr. Hurd with the dash
and confidence of a successful burglar, but of late the pursuit had
lapsed to a mere occasional half-hearted fumble at the combination.
However, he often came to tea. Tea was something--tangibly of no
great importance, but from Wilkinson's viewpoint a sop to his

self-respect in the reflection that he was getting it from old man Hurd.
Besides, it kept the proximity established. Charles was as simple an
optimist as a frankly predatory young man could be; some day the vault
door might quite unexpectedly swing open, and it would be highly
desirable to be close at hand and to have an intimate knowledge of the
exits. Mr. Hurd was his only rich relation, and the step-nephew clung to
him with tentacles of despair.
Tea at John M. Hurd's was something,--comparatively a more vital
factor to Wilkinson, who lived in a cheap boarding house, than to its
other partakers,--and Isabel Hurd was something more.
He felt a sincere admiration for Isabel, and his admiration had the
substantial foundation of real respect. It happened that his step-cousin
was what is kindly called a nice girl, but Wilkinson's regard passed
hurriedly across any
Continue reading on your phone by scaning this QR Code

 / 157
Tip: The current page has been bookmarked automatically. If you wish to continue reading later, just open the Dertz Homepage, and click on the 'continue reading' link at the bottom of the page.