An Ambitious Man (Chapter 7, page 1 of 4)


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Chapter 7

More than two decades had passed since Preston Cheney followed the
dictates of his ambition and married Mabel Lawrence.

Many of his early hopes and desires had been realised during these
years. He had attained to high political positions; and honour and
wealth were his to enjoy. Yet Senator Cheney, as he was now known,
was far from a happy man. Disappointment was written in every
lineament of his face, restlessness and discontent spoke in his every
movement, and at times the spirit of despair seemed to look from the
depths of his eyes.

To a man of any nobility of nature, there can be small satisfaction
in honours which he knows are bought with money and bribes; and to
the proud young American there was the additional sting of knowing
that even the money by which his honours were purchased was not his
own.

It was the second Mrs Lawrence (still designated as the "Baroness" by
her stepdaughter and by old acquaintances) to whom Preston owed the
constant reminder of his dependence upon the purse of his father-in-
law. In those subtle, occult ways known only to a jealous and
designing nature, the Baroness found it possible to make Preston's
life a torture, without revealing her weapons of warfare to her
husband; indeed, without allowing him to even smell the powder, while
she still kept up a constant small fire upon the helpless enemy.

Owing to the fact that Mabel had come as completely under the
hypnotic influence of the Baroness as the first Mrs Lawrence had been
during her lifetime, Preston was subjected to a great deal more of
her persecutions than would otherwise have been possible. Mabel was
never happier than when enjoying the companionship of her new mother;
a condition of things which pleased the Judge as much as it made his
son-in-law miserable.

With a malicious adroitness possible only to such a woman as the
second Mrs Lawrence, she endeared herself to Mrs Cheney, by a
thousand flattering and caressing ways, and by a constant exhibition
of sympathy, which to a weak and selfish nature is as pleasing as it
is distasteful to the proud and strong. And by this inexhaustible
flow of sympathetic feeling, she caused the wife to drift farther and
farther away from her husband's influence, and to accuse him of all
manner of shortcomings and faults which had not suggested themselves
to her own mind.

Mabel had not given or demanded a devoted love when she married
Preston Cheney. She was quite satisfied to bear his name, and do the
honours of his house, and to be let alone as much as possible. It
was the name, not the estate, of wifehood she desired; and motherhood
she had accepted with reluctance and distaste.

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