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The day book. (Chicago, Ill.) 1911-1917, September 02, 1913, Image 19

Image and text provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL

Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045487/1913-09-02/ed-1/seq-19/

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"Would the world be better off or
worse?"
The idea was so staggering that he
felt the need of time to think it over.
Time and a place! He had a little
private pffice in an unfrequented
street off Broadway. He employed
nobody there and no one knew of
this retreat, to which he sometimes
went to ponder over business deals in
solitude. He made his way there, un
locked the door, and sat down at his
desk.
If he were dead, wiped out, no
longer a factor in the affairs of men,
what would it mean to the world that
he had known? What did his life
mean? His death meant release and
money to his wife; to his musician
son it meant the inheritance of which
he was to have been deprived. His
partner, Prentice, and he had "always
been at loggerheads, and nine times
out of ten Prentice had been right in
his views. Coggswell tried to think
of one person whom his life benefit
ted, but could no do so.
Then why should he not be dead?
He could lay hands upon ten thou
sand dollars. With his experience and
knowledge he could take this, go to
some distant state, and renew his for
tune, shake 'off the past He had not
yet realized that our past binds us in
invisible chains of steel. Acting upon
the impulse, he donned a rough old
suit which he kept in a closet, clipped
his mustache close, and passed out
into the street. In the shabby figure
that thus emerged nobody would'
have recognized the president of one
of the largest corporations in the
country.
His plan, as yet roughly formed,
was to go to the Grand Central Sta
tion, take a ticket for "some distant
city, and, leave on the next train, first
purchasing a few toilet necessities,
change of linen, and, of course, a
suit-case. The adventure pleased
him. He felt a strange happiness
such as had long been unfamiliar to
him. There would be no more steak
a la reine; more,likely he would eat
in Pimlico and Harvard lunch rooms,
as the five-cent counters are euphonJ V
lously designated. He bent his steps
uptown, walking, because he needed
physical exercise to enable him to $
concentrate his actively working
brain. He had tra'veled into the Thir- x
ties before he realized how near he i
was to his destination. Then, since s
the habits of years are not lightly;
overcome, he discovered that his feet f,
had led him toward his club. A lit
tle group of members was gathered
round the hall porter. Coggswell
lingered near. Nobody recognized
him.
"Yes, gentlemen, I saw him enter
with my own eyes, at the very mo
ment he shot himself," the man was
saying. Don't tell me there ain't no
ghosts, for in the future I'll know dif
ferent. And Mr. Georges swears he
cooked him a steak a la reine with
his own hands."
"Ah! The old habits persist after
death," sneered Barnwell, one of his
business rivals.
"I'll bet he's busy cornering harps
and bulling halos," said another.
"Coggswell won't let a chance slip
by."
Some were too good hearted to
speakill of the dead, but none had a
good word for him. The shabby man
turned away.
It wag growing dark, when starting
up from a reverie, he discovered that
he was standing in front of his house
on Madison avenue. He liad forgot
ten all about his plans. An intense
desire to revisit his home had taken
possession of him, as though the in
animate bricks and mortar were all
that he could" have in life. All human
love seemed to have failed him. He
would go in. He v"'I'l 'oe the peo
ple whom he had known, to say good-5
bye. He longed now for companion-'
ship more than for anything, to feel
the warm clasp of a friend's hand, to
see his wife and ask her forgiveness.
He felt as though he were actually
the dead man. i
Nobody was stirring in the street.
.
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