Masses & Mainstream
March, 1955, pp 22-34
THE LAST SUPPER
By HOWARD FAST
ONE of the advantages of living in a tower apartment in the Elmsford on Fifth Avenue was that your place was the only stop on the floor for the elevator. It gave one the maximum amount of privacy that one could expect living in New York, and Harvey Crane enjoyed privacy when he wanted privacy. He felt that he had earned the privilege of privacy. He was forty-six years old, tall, broad-shouldered and distinguished in appearance except that he bulged a little over his belt, and he felt that at forty-six, with a career that stretched back over a quarter of an century, one deserved a little privacy.
Therefore, when he was handed a subpoena, this sense of violated privacy - a violation of all that a tower apartment in the Elmsford meant - well nigh overcame his mixed response of fear and surprise. Instead of reacting in terms of a sense of terror and expectancy that had been building up in him these five years past, he thought,
"Well, God damn it, if this is all you can expect when you pay seven thousand dollars a year rent, then the hell with it! They can take their God damn lease and put it you know where!"
Then he read the subpoena, mixed himself a drink, even though it was only noon, and called his lawyer, Jack Henderson, of Henderson, Hoke, Baily and Cohen, thinking to himself that it was a break for him that he had never been represented by Mike Cohen, of the same firm, not because he had anything against Jews - most of his best friends were Jews, when you came right down to it - and if there was one thing he despised, it was a racist; but because you had to think of everything once you were in this lousy spot, and say what you would, they felt differently down there about a Jew lawyer than they did about someone like Henderson.
"Jack," he said, when he got through to Henderson, - "Jack, just listen to this. Just Listen. Of all the stinking, lousy breaks - what do you suppose happened not five minutes ago?"
Henderson couldn't imagine, but he felt that whatever it was, Harvey should take it easy and not get excited.
"I love lawyers," Crane said. "The whole world could collapse, but don't get excited. Not at all. I'm as calm as a cucumber, exactly. I've just been handed a subpoena - right at my front door, can you imagine, and God help the little rat that's on the elevator - a subpoena to appear before the House Committee on Un-American Activities tomorrow, no less, but you don't want me to get excited! "
Now Henderson agreed that it was a very worrisome thing, but also that it was just such worrisome things that one had to resist worrying about. The thing to do, he explained in his calm, balanced and warmly comforting voice, was to come out of such an experience positively. Like a good friend or physician, rather than simply as a lawyer, Henderson told Harvey Crane to eat lunch, have a few drinks, and drop into his office at about three o'clock, and such was his ability to reassure, even over the telephone, that Crane felt considerably relieved after speaking to him.
Nevertheless, he obeyed an impulse that had begun to form the moment the subpoena was handed to him; and as soon as he was through speaking to Henderson, he broke his date with Madaline Briggs, the lead in his current show, called his former wife, and begged her to have lunch with him. When she pointed out that she already had a luncheon date, he told her that he had broken his own date, that he needed her desperately, that something, perhaps the most awful and consequential thing in his whole life, had just happened, and that he had to have lunch with her, and that he would not take no for an answer.
HE KNEW this kind of pleading would be effective, because it always had been; and that was something you could say about Jane, his second wife, that she had a heart; and as he had often told his analyst, the deepest trouble with his second marriage was that he felt more like Jane's son than her husband, not because she wasn't sufficiently young and attractive, but precisely because she was so responsive to his woes, particularly his deepest conflicts. His first wife, Anita Bruce, the actress, whom he had met on his first distant assignment to Hollywood, had been much too concerned with herself, her body, her face and her admirers to allow him to use her as a mother, and as Crane often put it, he had simply leaped from one extreme to the other.
"Look, Harvey," Jane said, "when I divorced you, I divorced you - I didn't simply step out of a professional status to take on an amateur rating." And then more gently, "You can't keep calling me every time anything goes wrong. At least, you have to try to get out of the habit-" He could sense that underneath her irritation, she was flattered, and thereby felt that he had won; and he wondered why he felt her so much more attractive and needed her so much more than when they were married, but at the same time had a pleasant sense of power in his being able to demand her and have the demand answered, even though some people - those who didn't know the whole story - felt that he had acted rather shamefully when he broke up the marriage. "I'm not your analyst after all," she said lamely. "What is this awful crisis?"
He assured her that it was something that could hardly be discussed on the telephone, and arranged to meet her at twelve forty-five at the Plaza. Once he had finished with the luncheon arrangements, his sense of power went away, as did his anger with the elevator operator who had allowed the process server to come to the door of his apartment.
For the first time since the thing had happened, the true icy tentacles of fear began to creep down around his neck, along his spine, and like blood circulating into his body and into his heart. He was caught in a sudden paralysis that did not even allow him the privilege of reflection upon the fear itself. His thoughts slowed down and caught themselves in a circle; the circle said, "This is the end. It's over. There's no way out - no way out. Over. Over. Over." Then his thoughts broke out of the circle and raced back through his past, and he found himself suddenly full of rage at something he had been, at himself in the long gone past. The anger helped him. It was an anger that involved no danger, and so he dressed and left the house in a fierce, pugnacious mood.
Some of the mood still remained when he met Jane at the Plaza. Somehow, it made him feel a little bit like a hero, a little bit like a martyr, true, but more like a martyred hero as he strode past the fountain and into the hotel. Jane was there ahead of him, and as she smiled and greeted him, she seemed genuinely glad to see him. She was a tall, dark-haired woman with a good figure, now dressed neatly in a gray flannel suit, but attractive to him and kindling in him a sudden wave of desire. The desire and the remnants of his rage at his own past combined to give him a new sense of being both romantic and desirable, and he felt an excitement he had never experienced before, not even in the wave of a successful opening night.
"YOU look different, Harvey," his ex-wife acknowledged. "I hope it's nothing really bad."
He ordered lunch before he would discuss it. Then he told her what had happened.
"But is it really so dreadful, Harvey?" Jane asked. "I mean, I never did agree with your ideas in that direction. I mean, I guess, when you come right down to it, I'm just an old fashioned conservative and you were always such a fire-breather, a real radical, I mean, and I never could feel that nothing was right and everything had to be changed, but you never belonged to anything, did you, and isn't there this Fifth Amendment thing that you read about in the papers and everybody talks about?"
"Oh yes - yes, indeed," he nodded, gobbling nervously at his Hudson River shad roe, "yes, indeed, there is such a thing as the Fifth Amendment. You take the Fifth and don't answer their questions and then all that happens is that you don't work again and never have another show produced and that's the end of the three hundred thousand dollars we've raised already for the new musical and that's the end of Hollywood and TV and everything else. That's all that happens. Nothing happens."
"Please don't eat so fast," she reminded him, in the tone one would take with a small boy. "You know that when you eat and talk at the same time and eat too fast it gives you a nervous stomach and starts your ulcers up. Anyway, I don't think you should be eating shad roe with bacon."
"Never mind how I eat," he retorted. "This isn't me alone. Don't you see that I have a larger responsibility than myself? I pay you two hundred dollars a week, don't I? The truth is that I need a gross income of eighty thousand a year just to exist. Not to pamper myself, but just for hand to mouth existence!"
"Of course, I know that," she said more sympathetically. "The fact is that I always defend you, Harvey. I know how hard it is. I know what it means to be a creative artist. That's why I could always understand and make allowances for everything that happened. It wasn't I who wanted the divorce, Harvey."
"Look, baby, let's not rehash our marriage. Right now I'm in a devil of a spot."
"And I want to help you, Harvey. Couldn't that word be the key to it - help? Perhaps they are calling you to have you help them. You know, there are witnesses that help, Harvey - people who help to keep us free from tyranny. Perhaps you won't have to take the Fifth at all. After all, you've written nothing for fifteen years to make them think you're subversive."
"God knows what's subversive today! "
"And you could tell them that those old plays you wrote so many years ago were just done by a foolish young man. And a very poor one. You know, you did always say that when you wrote Let the Sun Shine, you lived for three weeks on crackers and cheese and water. What would they expect under such circumstances?"
"And betray what I wrote? Renounce it? Condemn it? - No - God damn it, no! There's talent in thee stuff! Yes, it's off base, it's not in the stream of the American way of life - hell, it may even be subversive, for all I know. But it's good, and a damn sight better dialogue than anything being written today!"
"Harvey, you're shouting. The point is, you wouldn't write it today, would you?"
"No, I don't suppose I would."
"And you can't be held responsible all your life for what you did as a child."
"I wasn't a child at twenty-two."
"Of course you were. You didn't have a penny to your name."
"That's true enough. Jane, I wish I could make you understand how rough it was then. But that's the trouble with people who are born with a silver spoon in their mouths. They never can understand real poverty. I don't suppose it would do any good to try to make you understand-"
"Harvey," she said patiently, "we've been through all that, and there's no need to go through it again. You talk as if being poor were something to be proud of, and you always made me feel like an outsider because I had a decent bringing up. But you can see what being poor has gotten you into, writing all those plays about terrible people who hated everything and actually did want to overthrow the government with force and violence."
"No - no, they were poor people. They didn't want to overthrow the government. They just wanted to have things better. That's perfectly natural, Jane. After all, it was in the worst part of the depression. Isn't it the American way of life to want to have a better standard of living?"
"That's just what I've been saying. And just consider your last four productions - they're about people who are content with the American way of life, and they've been very successful. As a matter of fact, Harvey, they prove that you are helping to strengthen the American way of life. Don't you suppose some of the congressmen on the committee have seen some of your plays during the past six years?"
"Well, there you are. Why should they be angry with you? All you have to do is explain that you were poor and misguided and were taken in by the lies and machinations of all those terrible people. You know whom I mean, the kind of people you used to have at the house who would always talk about how wonderful the Group Theatre was and how decadent the theatre is today, and after all, it's not as if you were Jewish."
"What has that got to do with it?"
"Harvey, please, you know I'm not anti-Semitic, and Sarah Wolf is practically my best friend, but the truth is that they don't seem to like Jews. You can tell them that one of your ancestors came over here in 1794. You remember how Martin Leland went before the committee and he was so deeply moved when he told them how the Communists had tricked him and lied to him and used him as a dupe that he actually began to cry right there in front of the television cameras-"
"God damn it, you don't want me to cry, do you? That's a contemptible thing-"
"I didn't say you should cry. But the point is that Martin was so unquestionably sincere that they just couldn't doubt him. And then when he told them his grandfather had been police commissioner in Cleveland or Toledo or some place, they really saw that he was a true American and not a subversive, and then when he took an oath that he would never sign anything or join anything again as long as he lived because he had no business in politics anyway - well, they understood how deeply American he felt." Crane was silent, and she looked at him anxiously. "You do see what I mean?"
"There's still a question of dignity," he said slowly.
"I don't see how it can be undignified to be patriotic."
"It also depends upon the way you look at it."
"You know, Harvey," she said to him, so kindly that for a moment he regretted the whole business of separation and divorce, as necessary as it had been, "that's just the trouble with you. You're probably the most principled person I've ever known, and that's what makes you such a child in this world. Principles are fine things, but how are you to know whether your principles are the right ones? I think you have to respect the principles of men who really have the good of the country at heart. You can't deny that America is the most principled nation in the world. Look at the way we are practically giving away our whole lives to all those foreign nations that couldn't exist for one week, if we didn't support them. It's fine to have principles, but sometimes they can be wrong. And I know you're big enough to have humility."
"It's damned hard," Crane said.
"But you have to be big enough. Of course it's hard. But people honor you more for having humility than for anything else. . .
AFTER he had left her and was in a taxicab on his way down to his lawyer's office, Harvey Crane reflected on the fact that of all the women he had known - not a few - there was no one like Jane. She was a jewel. She was something that happened only to a very lucky man, and he - he was such a miserable neurotic fool that he had not been able to rest until he broke up the marriage. Now he could face the truth. It was his doing, and entirely his doing, and he wasn't man enough to come face to face with happiness. How deeply profound were Jane's remarks about humility! And how few people possessed real humility! When he went through his friends, it was almost impossible to find one who was a truly humble man, and for some reason, that brought into his mind a line from the Bible- "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." He said the line over and over, and found it truly comforting. A new mood had come upon him, a benign, deeply-reflective, and philosophically satisfying mood. For a moment, anger and fear departed and he felt uplifted and ennobled.
He began to feel that there was something providential in what had happened to him. He had been too satisfied with himself, in spite of his inner conflicts, and even his daily sessions with his analyst had not wholly dispelled his arrogance and self-justification. Now, in his present glow of beneficence, he began to wonder whether he was not having what his analyst referred to as a true passage of insight. If he were a Catholic - and it was strange how often this possibility had occurred to him recently - he would have been certain that what moved him was a high form of religious experience, and even though he was not a Catholic, he played with the thought.
When his cab turned into lower Broadway, with its high buildings and narrow side streets and throngs of hurrying people, his feeling of assurance increased and he was filled with pity for all these hurrying, faceless, nameless people who lived out their lives in these high offices, wondering whether this wasn't material for a new play - but then thrusting the thought aside as he recalled the difficulties and reprisals inherent in such material. He had paid a full and sufficient price, and who was to say that this was the role of an artist? He must remember what Jane had said concerning humility.
He maintained that feeling as he passed into the sumptuous waiting room of Henderson, Hoke, Baily and Cohen, and he greeted the girl at the reception desk with a smile as gentle as it was pure. And when Jack Henderson came bustling out, Crane greeted him with the same benign smile.
"WELL, thank God you don't seem as worried as you sounded this morning," Henderson said. Henderson was a stout, broad-shouldered man, with a fine thatch of prematurely white hair, and given to wearing gray tweeds and dark bow-ties. He had that thing as necessary to a succesful attorney as a bedside manner is to a successful physician, an air of self-possession and calm assurance which never deserted him. Just looking at him reassured a client; but such was Crane's mood that he even felt superior to a need for reassurance, and was a little amused at what Henderson's reaction would be when he discovered that he, Crane, had already worked out the problem.
Henderson led Crane into his private office, a commodious and well-furnished room, the windows of which overlooked the mouth of the Hudson River and the Bay. Then he asked Crane to let him see the subpoena, which he read carefully while Crane made himself comfortable in the leather chair facing Henderson's desk.
"I guess you've given some thought to this, Harvey," the lawyer said finally. "I'm glad you're less worried. I don't say this isn't a serious business, but I would call it more of a serious nuisance."
"I was nervous for a while," Crane admitted. "Then I got to thinking. Had lunch with a friend of mine, and we discussed it rather thoroughly." He told Henderson the substance of the discussion at lunch. "And the fact is," he finished, "that I think I'm man enough to confess that what I wrote in those years was wrong - yes, even subversive, the way we look at things today. I'm man enough to say that I'm sorry for what I wrote then - sorry and ready to disown it. In other words, I've found the humility that a creative artist must find at a certain point in his career, or stagnate. Humility. I'm not afraid of the word, Jack."
The lawyer shook his head and said, "Harvey," again.
"You don't believe me?"
"Oh, hell, I believe you. Of course, I believe you. Only - Oh, Christ, Harvey, the truth of the matter is that they don't give a damn what you've written. They don't read books. They don't go to the theatre. This is a lot simpler and a lot more complicated. Yes, it's the sins of your youth, but not the way you think. The fact is that someone has tipped them off to your past - either that you were a member of the Communist Party at one time or you associated with people who were, or maybe they think you still are. What this subpoena says is, come down to Washington and be prepared to talk or we'll ruin you. That's all it says, Harvey, no more, no less."
"You mean, they think I'm a member of the party?" Crane said slowly. "That's fantastic."
"I think it's fantastic, yes."
"But how can you be so certain-"
"Because our firm has handled half a dozen of these cases. They run to form. We also are not without our own lines to Washington."
"Then can't you fix it?" Crane demanded, his state of beatification beginning to dissolve. "If you have lines to Washington, can't you put a fix in? God damn it, Jack, I pay you a retainer of five thousand dollars a year. That ain't hay. If they think I'm a commie, that ought to be easy enough to disabuse them of. You know those politicians are crooked as hell. For a thousand dollars, you can buy a senator-"
"I know, I know, Harvey. Don't think I haven't thought of that. But the subpoena is already served, and it's no lead pipe cinch to fix it now. The point is, you have to be prepared to go down there and clear yourself, and, as I said this morning, to come out of this thing positively with your career unimpaired."
"And isn't that what I was saying, Jack?"
"Not quite. It may help to tell them that you're sorry for what you wrote and that you were misled and misguided and even used as a tool. You can tell them how disillusioned you became with that whole commie crowd, and that will also help a little. But that's background material, if you follow me. They are going to want to know if and when you were a member of the party and who else is or was. In other words, Harvey, they want cooperation. They
want names. That's how you wipe the slate clean. You name names."
"You mean I become - an informer?"
Henderson shook his head reprovingly. "I don't even like the word, Harvey. We'll think of cooperation, from here on."
"AND if I refuse?" Crane asked, stiffening, head up, thinking to himself, God damn it, that's the trouble with men like Henderson: Nothing but expediency! Everything gives way to expediency! They can't understand that there's such a thing as human dignity.
"Well, if you refused - and I think we have to talk a good deal about this, Harvey - one of two things would happen. You could take a position on the Fifth Amendment and refuse to answer any questions, and then you're through, finished, your career over. No play of yours could ever be produced again. Your name would never be mentioned on a dramatic page again. But - let me put it bluntly, Harvey - you would have to find other attorneys. We don't represent Fifth Amendment Communists. Either we serve a client or we don't, and you can't serve a Fifth Amendment Communist. The second alternative would be to lie, and then you take your chances with a five-year perjury rap - again with other lawyers. We don't advise our clients to commit perjury."
Suddenly, his voice changed; it became soft and warm and ingratiating. "Now isn't that a hell of a note, for me to talk to you like that, Harvey. The thing for us to do is to get down to cases and work our way out of this - and come out clean and proper. I'm your attorney, you understand? We're in a crisis now, and we have no secrets from each other. Suppose we get down to cases. Were you ever a member of the Communist Party?"
"Can he understand?" Crane asked himself. "Can anyone understand? There's no use getting sore at Jack Henderson. I should be proud and pleased that I have someone like Jack Henderson to stand by me. But how can he understand? Did he ever feel a knot of hunger in his belly? Did he ever know what it means to go for a week with never more than ten cents in your pocket? Did he ever stand on a soup line?" Such thoughts filled him with self-pity, which restored some of the pleasant state of ennoblement he had felt after talking to Jane. Once again, he felt a part of a certain elect, a man of unique sensitivity and experience, apart from other men.
He sensed that he was being seared now by deep and angry flames, and out of the chaotic flow of his thoughts, there emerged vague currents of creativity, a sense of wonderful things he would write in the future, the drama of hurt and inner suffering, not the bald, vulgar pain of people who were poor, hungry and cold, but the deeper travail of those who struggled with their own souls and emerged in a victory composed of meekness and humility. And so he said to the lawyer, his voice low and compassionate.
"Jack, I'm not here only as a client, but also as a friend. If I seem headstrong, it's due to a lack of knowledge. Then it's up to you to put me straight."
"I'm glad to hear you say that, Harvey. I'm damn glad to hear you say that. Now suppose we talk."
Crane talked. He told how he had joined the Communist Party in 1934, of his poverty, his heartsickness and despair - of how suddenly he found friends, comrades, warmth, of how he became a part of a little group of actors and writers who were working for and dreaming of a new kind of theatre-
"In other words they used you as a dupe for their ends," Henderson said understandingly. "How long did you remain a member?"
"Until September of 1935. That was when my first play was produced on Broadway - the first bit of success I ever had. It brought me to my senses, I suppose."
"All right - now the thing is this, Harvey. When you were a member of the party, you met with a group. We have to have a list of the people in that group, and when the time comes, you have to be prepared to name them."
"That's right, Harvey."
Crane's face fell. "The truth is, Jack - and you've got to believe me - the truth is I don't remember but one of them. There were only seven or eight in that group, and it is almost twenty years - and I can't for the life of me recall their names-"
Henderson's face hardened. "You said you were leveling with me, Harvey. Do you mean to tell me that you met with a group of people for over a year, and you don't remember their names?"
"Jack, look, I told you I'm talking to you as a friend, and I am. These people were Communists - and none of them except the one I remember are important people today. They were just names, and they faded away. Of course, there were others in the theatre group who are people of some reputation today, but of the Communists, I only remember the name of one of them."
"And what was his name?"
Henderson raised his brows. "You mean the Hollywood star?"
"Well, I'll be damned! Grant Summerson a commie! You never know, do you, Harvey. Well, that doesn't help us one bit. You can't name Summerson. It's out of the question."
"Isn't it obvious why? There's maybe six million dollars invested in Summerson. He's Joe Lunck's biggest property, and two of his pictures are on Broadway right this minute. As a matter of fact, Lunck is represented by Stillman, Levy and Smith, and this is just something you don't do. It's not playing the game, Harvey. We're not wreckers. We may face some rough situations, but we're still Americans, and we have to behave like Americans, don't we?"
"Of course we do," Crane agreed, secretly relieved. "I have no desire to ruin Surnmerson."
"None of us do. Nevertheless, they're going to want names and you're going to have to produce names. How about the others in the theatre group?"
"But they weren't Communists Jack."
"What difference does that make? A subversive is a subversive. It's just a technicality as to whether he's a commie and pays dues. Anyway, how can you be sure they weren't commies? How can you be sure they didn't join after you had left? Isn't it a little arrogant to set yourself up as a judge in these cases, Harvey? You were talking about humility yourself just a moment ago."
"That's true, I was," Crane admitted.
"Then you have to be consistent. You're still friendly with Joseph Freidman, aren't you. Wasn't he with that group?"
"He was," Crane nodded.
"Then suppose we use him as a starting point."
IT OCCURRED to Crane that it was Freidman who had first read something he had written, Friedman who had gotten him to join the group, and Freidman who had encouraged him constantly while he was writing Let the Sun Shine. As a matter of fact, if not for Freidman, he would never have been in the spot he was in now, and Freidman was a television director now, well-paid, without a care in the world, while he, Harvey Crane, faced the "inquisition." Well, the mills of the Gods did grind, no matter how you looked at it.
"Yes, Freidman," he said, Freidman and Pat MacIntosh, both of them feeding him that same line about a man who wrote for the people and of the people. "Start with Freidman and add Pat MacIntosh."
"MacIntosh? The old character actor?"
"That's right. They did it to me - now I do it to them!" He felt firm and righteous in his anger. They did it to him when he was just a kid, too green and innocent to know what the score was - taking him, twisting him, using him. Now he was returning the favor....
When they had eighteen names on the list, four of them deceased, six more already named several times over, and eight bright fresh ones, never spoken before in the august halls of Congress, Jack Henderson felt that they were sufficiently armed. He called in his secretary to make copies of the list, and then he lit a fresh cigar and smiled at Crane with the satisfaction of a job well done. "And don't think," he told Crane, "that it's a small thing to come down there with eight fresh, clean names. God damn it, at this point there just aren't enough pinkos working to satisfy those wolves in Washington. Now it's up to you, Harvey, to know these names backwards and forward. Don't worry about calling a spade a spade. You saw them at commie meetings. What the hell - if you talk about anything but the weather these days, it's a commie meeting. The point is - and this must always be in your mind - that you're doing a service for your country. You're exposing a group of subversives, and the sooner they put their hands on all of them, the better you and I will be able to sleep nights. Now I want you to put your own past out of your mind. Let me worry about it. Today you're a firm, true part of the American way of life, the way of life that means so much to all of us - yes, to the whole free world."
"But for God's sake, Jack, I can't just go down there and testify off the cuff. I hardly know some of those people."
"Let me worry about that. We'll have four and a half hours on the train tomorrow morning. I'll get a compartment, and by the time we hit Washington, there won't be any loose ends. I'll have a dossier on every one of them before I leave here tonight. But that's what I'm paid for, Harvey. You just memorize those names and forget about everything else for the moment. And above all, don't worry. Tomorrow night, you'll have the respect and admiration of everyone in this city."
THERE was no resisting Jack Henderson when he put on this warm and hearty manner, and Crane could not help absorbing some of that warm, glowing confidence. All day, he had been in a process of fighting
through this, the deepest and most terrifying crisis of his life. Now, as he left the offices of Henderson, Hoke, Baily and Cohen, he felt a new lightness of heart, an added sense of benignity. It remained with him all the way home, and such was his mood of compassion that he withheld the tirade he had planned to launch against the manager of the building for allowing a process server to come to the door of his apartment. "After all," he said to himself, "we all serve in our own way. Like me, he simply had the best interests of his country at heart. For all he knows, I might be a Bolshevik with a bomb in each hand."
He also felt a twinge of conscience at the way he had treated Madaline Briggs, breaking a luncheon date without a word of explanation. It wasn't only that she was the lead in his show; she was one of the most beautiful women he had ever known, and he had gone so far that she had every right to expect a certain sense of responsibility from him. He had always been proud of a decent and forthright manner toward women. With these thoughts in mind, he telephoned Miss Briggs, and asked her to dine with him before the show.
"No, I'm not angry," she said, "not at all, not even annoyed, Harvey. I knew something important had come up. Is it all straightened out now?"
"But, darling, I already have a dinner date. Now, don't be jealous. As a matter of fact, I'd love it if you joined us. Please do. It will be just perfect, and I'm sure he'll want to meet you again. He said he knew you many years ago, and it would make your face burn, the nice things he said about you."
"Who said about me?"
"The old man?"
"Yes - he's so sweet, Haney. You know, he gave me my first job. So we're having dinner at Sardi's, and you will come, won't you?"
He hesitated at first, because his immediate instinct was to say no. But he wanted to see Madaline now as much as he had wanted to see Jane at noontime, and he thought to himself, "Why not? It's probably the last time I'll see the old man socially. Why shouldn't I show him that I have nothing against him personally - that this is bigger than both of us?"
So he told Madaline, "Sure, sure - and you'll both be my guests, At Seven."
"And you'll tell me all about whatever disturbed you?"
"After the show," he said gently, "when there are just the two of us. God, Madaline, do you know what you mean to me, honey?"
"Not now - later," she whispered.
Harvey Crane was smiling compassionately as he put down the telephone. He felt a pervading warmth, and he reflected that nothing made a man more conscious of a woman he cared for than the trials of sorrow and danger. Perhaps not everyone would understand his role and actions - but not everyone had the same opportunity offered to him to serve in humility and meekness. A little self-consciously, he thought of himself as Harvey Crane, American.