The Price She Paid by David Graham Phillips Page 1 of 334
HENRY GOWER was dead at sixty-one - the end of a lifelong fraud which never had been suspected, and never would be. With the world, with his acquaintances and neighbors, with his wife and son and daughter, he passed as a generous, warm-hearted, good-natured man, ready at all times to do anything to help anybody, incapable of envy or hatred or meanness.
In fact, not once in all his days had he ever thought or done a single thing except for his own comfort. Like all intensely selfish people who are wise, he was cheerful and amiable, because that was the way to be healthy and happy and to have those around one agreeable and in the mood to do what one wished them to do.
He told people, not the truth, not the unpleasant thing that might help them, but what they wished to hear. His family lived in luxurious comfort only because he himself was fond of luxurious comfort. His wife and his daughter dressed fashionably and went about and entertained in the fashionable, expensive way only because that was the sort of life that gratified his vanity.
He lived to get what he wanted; he got it every day and every hour of a life into which no rain ever fell; he died, honored, respected, beloved, and lamented.
The clever trick he had played upon his fellow beings came very near to discovery a few days after his death. His widow and her son and daughter-in-law and daughter were in the living-room of the charming house at Hanging Rock, near New York, alternating between sorrowings over the dead man and plannings for the future. Said the widow:
"If Henry had only thought what would become of us if he were taken away!"
"If he had saved even a small part of what he made every year from the time he was twenty-six - for he always made a big income," said his son, Frank.
"But he was so generous, so soft-hearted!" exclaimed the widow. "He could deny us nothing."
"He couldn't bear seeing us with the slightest wish ungratified," said Frank.