Mr. Hungerton, her father, really was the most tactless person upon
earth, -a fluffy, feathery, untidy cockatoo of a man, perfectly
good-natured, but absolutely centered upon his own silly self. If
anything could have driven me from Gladys, it would have been the
thought of such a father-in-law. I am convinced that he really
believed in his heart that I came round to the Chestnuts three days
a week for the pleasure of his company, and very especially to hear
his views upon bimetallism, a subject upon which he was by way of
being an authority. For an hour or more that evening I listened to
his monotonous chirrup about bad money driving out good, the token
value of silver, the depreciation of the rupee, and the true
standards of exchange. "Suppose," he cried with feeble violence,
"that all the debts in the world were called up simultaneously, and
immediate payment insisted upon, -what under our present conditions
would happen then?" I gave the self-evident answer that I should be
a ruined man, upon which he jumped from his chair, reproved me for
my habitual levity, which made it impossible for him to discuss any
reasonable subject in my presence, and bounced off out of the room
to dress for a Masonic meeting. At last I was alone with Gladys,
and the moment of Fate had come All that evening I had felt like
the soldier who awaits the signal which will send him on a forlorn
hope; hope of victory and fear of repulse alternating in his mind.
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