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Title: Pandora
Author: James, Henry
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Pandora" ***

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Transcribed from 1922 MacMillan and Co. “Daisy Miller, Pandora, The
Patagonia and Other Tales” edition by David Price, email
ccx074@pglaf.org.  Proofed by David, Jeremy Kwock and Uzma G.

                          [Picture: Book cover]



                                 PANDORA
                              by Henry James


I


IT has long been the custom of the North German Lloyd steamers, which
convey passengers from Bremen to New York, to anchor for several hours in
the pleasant port of Southampton, where their human cargo receives many
additions.  An intelligent young German, Count Otto Vogelstein, hardly
knew a few years ago whether to condemn this custom or approve it.  He
leaned over the bulwarks of the _Donau_ as the American passengers
crossed the plank—the travellers who embark at Southampton are mainly of
that nationality—and curiously, indifferently, vaguely, through the smoke
of his cigar, saw them absorbed in the huge capacity of the ship, where
he had the agreeable consciousness that his own nest was comfortably
made.  To watch from such a point of vantage the struggles of those less
fortunate than ourselves—of the uninformed, the unprovided, the belated,
the bewildered—is an occupation not devoid of sweetness, and there was
nothing to mitigate the complacency with which our young friend gave
himself up to it; nothing, that is, save a natural benevolence which had
not yet been extinguished by the consciousness of official greatness.
For Count Vogelstein was official, as I think you would have seen from
the straightness of his back, the lustre of his light elegant spectacles,
and something discreet and diplomatic in the curve of his moustache,
which looked as if it might well contribute to the principal function, as
cynics say, of the lips—the active concealment of thought.  He had been
appointed to the secretaryship of the German legation at Washington and
in these first days of the autumn was about to take possession of his
post.  He was a model character for such a purpose—serious civil
ceremonious curious stiff, stuffed with knowledge and convinced that, as
lately rearranged, the German Empire places in the most striking light
the highest of all the possibilities of the greatest of all the peoples.
He was quite aware, however, of the claims to economic and other
consideration of the United States, and that this quarter of the globe
offered a vast field for study.

The process of inquiry had already begun for him, in spite of his having
as yet spoken to none of his fellow-passengers; the case being that
Vogelstein inquired not only with his tongue, but with his eyes—that is
with his spectacles—with his ears, with his nose, with his palate, with
all his senses and organs.  He was a highly upright young man, whose only
fault was that his sense of comedy, or of the humour of things, had never
been specifically disengaged from his several other senses.  He vaguely
felt that something should be done about this, and in a general manner
proposed to do it, for he was on his way to explore a society abounding
in comic aspects.  This consciousness of a missing measure gave him a
certain mistrust of what might be said of him; and if circumspection is
the essence of diplomacy our young aspirant promised well.  His mind
contained several millions of facts, packed too closely together for the
light breeze of the imagination to draw through the mass.  He was
impatient to report himself to his superior in Washington, and the loss
of time in an English port could only incommode him, inasmuch as the
study of English institutions was no part of his mission.  On the other
hand the day was charming; the blue sea, in Southampton Water, pricked
all over with light, had no movement but that of its infinite shimmer.
Moreover he was by no means sure that he should be happy in the United
States, where doubtless he should find himself soon enough disembarked.
He knew that this was not an important question and that happiness was an
unscientific term, such as a man of his education should be ashamed to
use even in the silence of his thoughts.  Lost none the less in the
inconsiderate crowd and feeling himself neither in his own country nor in
that to which he was in a manner accredited, he was reduced to his mere
personality; so that during the hour, to save his importance, he
cultivated such ground as lay in sight for a judgement of this delay to
which the German steamer was subjected in English waters.  Mightn’t it be
proved, facts, figures and documents—or at least watch—in hand,
considerably greater than the occasion demanded?

Count Vogelstein was still young enough in diplomacy to think it
necessary to have opinions.  He had a good many indeed which had been
formed without difficulty; they had been received ready-made from a line
of ancestors who knew what they liked.  This was of course—and under
pressure, being candid, he would have admitted it—an unscientific way of
furnishing one’s mind.  Our young man was a stiff conservative, a Junker
of Junkers; he thought modern democracy a temporary phase and expected to
find many arguments against it in the great Republic.  In regard to these
things it was a pleasure to him to feel that, with his complete training,
he had been taught thoroughly to appreciate the nature of evidence.  The
ship was heavily laden with German emigrants, whose mission in the United
States differed considerably from Count Otto’s.  They hung over the
bulwarks, densely grouped; they leaned forward on their elbows for hours,
their shoulders kept on a level with their ears; the men in furred caps,
smoking long-bowled pipes, the women with babies hidden in remarkably
ugly shawls.  Some were yellow Germans and some were black, and all
looked greasy and matted with the sea-damp.  They were destined to swell
still further the huge current of the Western democracy; and Count
Vogelstein doubtless said to himself that they wouldn’t improve its
quality.  Their numbers, however, were striking, and I know not what he
thought of the nature of this particular evidence.

The passengers who came on board at Southampton were not of the greasy
class; they were for the most part American families who had been
spending the summer, or a longer period, in Europe.  They had a great
deal of luggage, innumerable bags and rugs and hampers and sea-chairs,
and were composed largely of ladies of various ages, a little pale with
anticipation, wrapped also in striped shawls, though in prettier ones
than the nursing mothers of the steerage, and crowned with very high hats
and feathers.  They darted to and fro across the gangway, looking for
each other and for their scattered parcels; they separated and reunited,
they exclaimed and declared, they eyed with dismay the occupants of the
forward quarter, who seemed numerous enough to sink the vessel, and their
voices sounded faint and far as they rose to Vogelstein’s ear over the
latter’s great tarred sides.  He noticed that in the new contingent there
were many young girls, and he remembered what a lady in Dresden had once
said to him—that America was the country of the Mädchen.  He wondered
whether he should like that, and reflected that it would be an aspect to
study, like everything else.  He had known in Dresden an American family
in which there were three daughters who used to skate with the officers,
and some of the ladies now coming on board struck him as of that same
habit, except that in the Dresden days feathers weren’t worn quite so
high.

At last the ship began to creak and slowly bridge, and the delay at
Southampton came to an end.  The gangway was removed and the vessel
indulged in the awkward evolutions that were to detach her from the land.
Count Vogelstein had finished his cigar, and he spent a long time in
walking up and down the upper deck.  The charming English coast passed
before him, and he felt this to be the last of the old world.  The
American coast also might be pretty—he hardly knew what one would expect
of an American coast; but he was sure it would be different.
Differences, however, were notoriously half the charm of travel, and
perhaps even most when they couldn’t be expressed in figures, numbers,
diagrams or the other merely useful symbols.  As yet indeed there were
very few among the objects presented to sight on the steamer.  Most of
his fellow-passengers appeared of one and the same persuasion, and that
persuasion the least to be mistaken.  They were Jews and commercial to a
man.  And by this time they had lighted their cigars and put on all
manner of seafaring caps, some of them with big ear-lappets which somehow
had the effect of bringing out their peculiar facial type.  At last the
new voyagers began to emerge from below and to look about them, vaguely,
with that suspicious expression of face always to be noted in the newly
embarked and which, as directed to the receding land, resembles that of a
person who begins to perceive himself the victim of a trick.  Earth and
ocean, in such glances, are made the subject of a sweeping objection, and
many travellers, in the general plight, have an air at once duped and
superior, which seems to say that they could easily go ashore if they
would.

It still wanted two hours of dinner, and by the time Vogelstein’s long
legs had measured three or four miles on the deck he was ready to settle
himself in his sea-chair and draw from his pocket a Tauchnitz novel by an
American author whose pages, he had been assured, would help to prepare
him for some of the oddities.  On the back of his chair his name was
painted in rather large letters, this being a precaution taken at the
recommendation of a friend who had told him that on the American steamers
the passengers—especially the ladies—thought nothing of pilfering one’s
little comforts.  His friend had even hinted at the correct reproduction
of his coronet.  This marked man of the world had added that the
Americans are greatly impressed by a coronet.  I know not whether it was
scepticism or modesty, but Count Vogelstein had omitted every pictured
plea for his rank; there were others of which he might have made use.
The precious piece of furniture which on the Atlantic voyage is trusted
never to flinch among universal concussions was emblazoned simply with
his title and name.  It happened, however, that the blazonry was huge;
the back of the chair was covered with enormous German characters.  This
time there can be no doubt: it was modesty that caused the secretary of
legation, in placing himself, to turn this portion of his seat outward,
away from the eyes of his companions—to present it to the balustrade of
the deck.  The ship was passing the Needles—the beautiful uttermost point
of the Isle of Wight.  Certain tall white cones of rock rose out of the
purple sea; they flushed in the afternoon light and their vague rosiness
gave them a human expression in face of the cold expanse toward which the
prow was turned; they seemed to say farewell, to be the last note of a
peopled world.  Vogelstein saw them very comfortably from his place and
after a while turned his eyes to the other quarter, where the elements of
air and water managed to make between them so comparatively poor an
opposition.  Even his American novelist was more amusing than that, and
he prepared to return to this author.  In the great curve which it
described, however, his glance was arrested by the figure of a young lady
who had just ascended to the deck and who paused at the mouth of the
companionway.

This was not in itself an extraordinary phenomenon; but what attracted
Vogelstein’s attention was the fact that the young person appeared to
have fixed her eyes on him.  She was slim, brightly dressed, rather
pretty; Vogelstein remembered in a moment that he had noticed her among
the people on the wharf at Southampton.  She was soon aware he had
observed her; whereupon she began to move along the deck with a step that
seemed to indicate a purpose of approaching him.  Vogelstein had time to
wonder whether she could be one of the girls he had known at Dresden; but
he presently reflected that they would now be much older than that.  It
was true they were apt to advance, like this one, straight upon their
victim.  Yet the present specimen was no longer looking at him, and
though she passed near him it was now tolerably clear she had come above
but to take a general survey.  She was a quick handsome competent girl,
and she simply wanted to see what one could think of the ship, of the
weather, of the appearance of England, from such a position as that;
possibly even of one’s fellow-passengers.  She satisfied herself promptly
on these points, and then she looked about, while she walked, as if in
keen search of a missing object; so that Vogelstein finally arrived at a
conviction of her real motive.  She passed near him again and this time
almost stopped, her eyes bent upon him attentively.  He thought her
conduct remarkable even after he had gathered that it was not at his
face, with its yellow moustache, she was looking, but at the chair on
which he was seated.  Then those words of his friend came back to him—the
speech about the tendency of the people, especially of the ladies, on the
American steamers to take to themselves one’s little belongings.
Especially the ladies, he might well say; for here was one who apparently
wished to pull from under him the very chair he was sitting on.  He was
afraid she would ask him for it, so he pretended to read, systematically
avoiding her eye.  He was conscious she hovered near him, and was
moreover curious to see what she would do.  It seemed to him strange that
such a nice-looking girl—for her appearance was really charming—should
endeavour by arts so flagrant to work upon the quiet dignity of a
secretary of legation.  At last it stood out that she was trying to look
round a corner, as it were—trying to see what was written on the back of
his chair.  “She wants to find out my name; she wants to see who I am!”
This reflexion passed through his mind and caused him to raise his eyes.
They rested on her own—which for an appreciable moment she didn’t
withdraw.  The latter were brilliant and expressive, and surmounted a
delicate aquiline nose, which, though pretty, was perhaps just a trifle
too hawk-like.  It was the oddest coincidence in the world; the story
Vogelstein had taken up treated of a flighty forward little American girl
who plants herself in front of a young man in the garden of an hotel.
Wasn’t the conduct of this young lady a testimony to the truthfulness of
the tale, and wasn’t Vogelstein himself in the position of the young man
in the garden?  That young man—though with more, in such connexions in
general, to go upon—ended by addressing himself to his aggressor, as she
might be called, and after a very short hesitation Vogelstein followed
his example.  “If she wants to know who I am she’s welcome,” he said to
himself; and he got out of the chair, seized it by the back and, turning
it round, exhibited the superscription to the girl.  She coloured
slightly, but smiled and read his name, while Vogelstein raised his hat.

“I’m much obliged to you.  That’s all right,” she remarked as if the
discovery had made her very happy.

It affected him indeed as all right that he should be Count Otto
Vogelstein; this appeared even rather a flippant mode of disposing of the
fact.  By way of rejoinder he asked her if she desired of him the
surrender of his seat.

“I’m much obliged to you; of course not.  I thought you had one of our
chairs, and I didn’t like to ask you.  It looks exactly like one of ours;
not so much now as when you sit in it.  Please sit down again.  I don’t
want to trouble you.  We’ve lost one of ours, and I’ve been looking for
it everywhere.  They look so much alike; you can’t tell till you see the
back.  Of course I see there will be no mistake about yours,” the young
lady went on with a smile of which the serenity matched her other
abundance.  “But we’ve got such a small name—you can scarcely see it,”
she added with the same friendly intention.  “Our name’s just Day—you
mightn’t think it _was_ a name, might you? if we didn’t make the most of
it.  If you see that on anything, I’d be so obliged if you’d tell me.  It
isn’t for myself, it’s for my mother; she’s so dependent on her chair,
and that one I’m looking for pulls out so beautifully.  Now that you sit
down again and hide the lower part it does look just like ours.  Well, it
must be somewhere.  You must excuse me; I wouldn’t disturb you.”

This was a long and even confidential speech for a young woman,
presumably unmarried, to make to a perfect stranger; but Miss Day
acquitted herself of it with perfect simplicity and self-possession.  She
held up her head and stepped away, and Vogelstein could see that the foot
she pressed upon the clean smooth deck was slender and shapely.  He
watched her disappear through the trap by which she had ascended, and he
felt more than ever like the young man in his American tale.  The girl in
the present case was older and not so pretty, as he could easily judge,
for the image of her smiling eyes and speaking lips still hovered before
him.  He went back to his book with the feeling that it would give him
some information about her.  This was rather illogical, but it indicated
a certain amount of curiosity on the part of Count Vogelstein.  The girl
in the book had a mother, it appeared, and so had this young lady; the
former had also a brother, and he now remembered that he had noticed a
young man on the wharf—a young man in a high hat and a white overcoat—who
seemed united to Miss Day by this natural tie.  And there was some one
else too, as he gradually recollected, an older man, also in a high hat,
but in a black overcoat—in black altogether—who completed the group and
who was presumably the head of the family.  These reflexions would
indicate that Count Vogelstein read his volume of Tauchnitz rather
interruptedly.  Moreover they represented but the loosest economy of
consciousness; for wasn’t he to be afloat in an oblong box for ten days
with such people, and could it be doubted he should see at least enough
of them?

It may as well be written without delay that he saw a great deal of them.
I have sketched in some detail the conditions in which he made the
acquaintance of Miss Day, because the event had a certain importance for
this fair square Teuton; but I must pass briefly over the incidents that
immediately followed it.  He wondered what it was open to him, after such
an introduction, to do in relation to her, and he determined he would
push through his American tale and discover what the hero did.  But he
satisfied himself in a very short time that Miss Day had nothing in
common with the heroine of that work save certain signs of habitat and
climate—and save, further, the fact that the male sex wasn’t terrible to
her.  The local stamp sharply, as he gathered, impressed upon her he
estimated indeed rather in a borrowed than in a natural light, for if she
was native to a small town in the interior of the American continent one
of their fellow-passengers, a lady from New York with whom he had a good
deal of conversation, pronounced her “atrociously” provincial.  How the
lady arrived at this certitude didn’t appear, for Vogelstein observed
that she held no communication with the girl.  It was true she gave it
the support of her laying down that certain Americans could tell
immediately who other Americans were, leaving him to judge whether or no
she herself belonged to the critical or only to the criticised half of
the nation.  Mrs. Dangerfield was a handsome confidential insinuating
woman, with whom Vogelstein felt his talk take a very wide range indeed.
She convinced him rather effectually that even in a great democracy there
are human differences, and that American life was full of social
distinctions, of delicate shades, which foreigners often lack the
intelligence to perceive.  Did he suppose every one knew every one else
in the biggest country in the world, and that one wasn’t as free to
choose one’s company there as in the most monarchical and most exclusive
societies?  She laughed such delusions to scorn as Vogelstein tucked her
beautiful furred coverlet—they reclined together a great deal in their
elongated chairs—well over her feet.  How free an American lady was to
choose her company she abundantly proved by not knowing any one on the
steamer but Count Otto.

He could see for himself that Mr. and Mrs. Day had not at all her grand
air.  They were fat plain serious people who sat side by side on the deck
for hours and looked straight before them.  Mrs. Day had a white face,
large cheeks and small eyes: her forehead was surrounded with a multitude
of little tight black curls; her lips moved as if she had always a
lozenge in her mouth.  She wore entwined about her head an article which
Mrs. Dangerfield spoke of as a “nuby,” a knitted pink scarf concealing
her hair, encircling her neck and having among its convolutions a hole
for her perfectly expressionless face.  Her hands were folded on her
stomach, and in her still, swathed figure her little bead-like eyes,
which occasionally changed their direction, alone represented life.  Her
husband had a stiff grey beard on his chin and a bare spacious upper lip,
to which constant shaving had imparted a hard glaze.  His eyebrows were
thick and his nostrils wide, and when he was uncovered, in the saloon, it
was visible that his grizzled hair was dense and perpendicular.  He might
have looked rather grim and truculent hadn’t it been for the mild
familiar accommodating gaze with which his large light-coloured
pupils—the leisurely eyes of a silent man—appeared to consider
surrounding objects.  He was evidently more friendly than fierce, but he
was more diffident than friendly.  He liked to have you in sight, but
wouldn’t have pretended to understand you much or to classify you, and
would have been sorry it should put you under an obligation.  He and his
wife spoke sometimes, but seldom talked, and there was something vague
and patient in them, as if they had become victims of a wrought spell.
The spell however was of no sinister cast; it was the fascination of
prosperity, the confidence of security, which sometimes makes people
arrogant, but which had had such a different effect on this simple
satisfied pair, in whom further development of every kind appeared to
have been happily arrested.

Mrs. Dangerfield made it known to Count Otto that every morning after
breakfast, the hour at which he wrote his journal in his cabin, the old
couple were guided upstairs and installed in their customary corner by
Pandora.  This she had learned to be the name of their elder daughter,
and she was immensely amused by her discovery.  “Pandora”—that was in the
highest degree typical; it placed them in the social scale if other
evidence had been wanting; you could tell that a girl was from the
interior, the mysterious interior about which Vogelstein’s imagination
was now quite excited, when she had such a name as that.  This young lady
managed the whole family, even a little the small beflounced sister, who,
with bold pretty innocent eyes, a torrent of fair silky hair, a crimson
fez, such as is worn by male Turks, very much askew on top of it, and a
way of galloping and straddling about the ship in any company she could
pick up—she had long thin legs, very short skirts and stockings of every
tint—was going home, in elegant French clothes, to resume an interrupted
education.  Pandora overlooked and directed her relatives; Vogelstein
could see this for himself, could see she was very active and decided,
that she had in a high degree the sentiment of responsibility, settling
on the spot most of the questions that could come up for a family from
the interior.

The voyage was remarkably fine, and day after day it was possible to sit
there under the salt sky and feel one’s self rounding the great curves of
the globe.  The long deck made a white spot in the sharp black circle of
the ocean and in the intense sea-light, while the shadow of the
smoke-streamers trembled on the familiar floor, the shoes of
fellow-passengers, distinctive now, and in some cases irritating, passed
and repassed, accompanied, in the air so tremendously “open,” that
rendered all voices weak and most remarks rather flat, by fragments of
opinion on the run of the ship.  Vogelstein by this time had finished his
little American story and now definitely judged that Pandora Day was not
at all like the heroine.  She was of quite another type; much more
serious and strenuous, and not at all keen, as he had supposed, about
making the acquaintance of gentlemen.  Her speaking to him that first
afternoon had been, he was bound to believe, an incident without
importance for herself; in spite of her having followed it up the next
day by the remark, thrown at him as she passed, with a smile that was
almost fraternal: “It’s all right, sir!  I’ve found that old chair.”
After this she hadn’t spoken to him again and had scarcely looked at him.
She read a great deal, and almost always French books, in fresh yellow
paper; not the lighter forms of that literature, but a volume of
Sainte-Beuve, of Renan or at the most, in the way of dissipation, of
Alfred de Musset.  She took frequent exercise and almost always walked
alone, apparently not having made many friends on the ship and being
without the resource of her parents, who, as has been related, never
budged out of the cosy corner in which she planted them for the day.

Her brother was always in the smoking-room, where Vogelstein observed
him, in very tight clothes, his neck encircled with a collar like a
palisade.  He had a sharp little face, which was not disagreeable; he
smoked enormous cigars and began his drinking early in the day: but his
appearance gave no sign of these excesses.  As regards euchre and poker
and the other distractions of the place he was guilty of none.  He
evidently understood such games in perfection, for he used to watch the
players, and even at moments impartially advise them; but Vogelstein
never saw the cards in his hand.  He was referred to as regards disputed
points, and his opinion carried the day.  He took little part in the
conversation, usually much relaxed, that prevailed in the smoking-room,
but from time to time he made, in his soft flat youthful voice, a remark
which every one paused to listen to and which was greeted with roars of
laughter.  Vogelstein, well as he knew English, could rarely catch the
joke; but he could see at least that these must be choice specimens of
that American humour admired and practised by a whole continent and yet
to be rendered accessible to a trained diplomatist, clearly, but by some
special and incalculable revelation.  The young man, in his way, was very
remarkable, for, as Vogelstein heard some one say once after the laughter
had subsided, he was only nineteen.  If his sister didn’t resemble the
dreadful little girl in the tale already mentioned, there was for
Vogelstein at least an analogy between young Mr. Day and a certain small
brother—a candy-loving Madison, Hamilton or Jefferson—who was, in the
Tauchnitz volume, attributed to that unfortunate maid.  This was what the
little Madison would have grown up to at nineteen, and the improvement
was greater than might have been expected.

The days were long, but the voyage was short, and it had almost come to
an end before Count Otto yielded to an attraction peculiar in its nature
and finally irresistible, and, in spite of Mrs. Dangerfield’s emphatic
warning, sought occasion for a little continuous talk with Miss Pandora.
To mention that this impulse took effect without mentioning sundry other
of his current impressions with which it had nothing to do is perhaps to
violate proportion and give a false idea; but to pass it by would be
still more unjust.  The Germans, as we know, are a transcendental people,
and there was at last an irresistible appeal for Vogelstein in this quick
bright silent girl who could smile and turn vocal in an instant, who
imparted a rare originality to the filial character, and whose profile
was delicate as she bent it over a volume which she cut as she read, or
presented it in musing attitudes, at the side of the ship, to the horizon
they had left behind.  But he felt it to be a pity, as regards a possible
acquaintance with her, that her parents should be heavy little burghers,
that her brother should not correspond to his conception of a young man
of the upper class, and that her sister should be a Daisy Miller _en
herbe_.  Repeatedly admonished by Mrs. Dangerfield, the young diplomatist
was doubly careful as to the relations he might form at the beginning of
his sojourn in the United States.  That lady reminded him, and he had
himself made the observation in other capitals, that the first year, and
even the second, is the time for prudence.  One was ignorant of
proportions and values; one was exposed to mistakes and thankful for
attention, and one might give one’s self away to people who would
afterwards be as a millstone round one’s neck: Mrs. Dangerfield struck
and sustained that note, which resounded in the young man’s imagination.
She assured him that if he didn’t “look out” he would be committing
himself to some American girl with an impossible family.  In America,
when one committed one’s self, there was nothing to do but march to the
altar, and what should he say for instance to finding himself a near
relation of Mr. and Mrs. P. W. Day?—since such were the initials
inscribed on the back of the two chairs of that couple.  Count Otto felt
the peril, for he could immediately think of a dozen men he knew who had
married American girls.  There appeared now to be a constant danger of
marrying the American girl; it was something one had to reckon with, like
the railway, the telegraph, the discovery of dynamite, the Chassepôt
rifle, the Socialistic spirit: it was one of the complications of modern
life.

It would doubtless be too much to say that he feared being carried away
by a passion for a young woman who was not strikingly beautiful and with
whom he had talked, in all, but ten minutes.  But, as we recognise, he
went so far as to wish that the human belongings of a person whose high
spirit appeared to have no taint either of fastness, as they said in
England, or of subversive opinion, and whose mouth had charming lines,
should not be a little more distinguished.  There was an effect of
drollery in her behaviour to these subjects of her zeal, whom she seemed
to regard as a care, but not as an interest; it was as if they had been
entrusted to her honour and she had engaged to convey them safe to a
certain point; she was detached and inadvertent, and then suddenly
remembered, repented and came back to tuck them into their blankets, to
alter the position of her mother’s umbrella, to tell them something about
the run of the ship.  These little offices were usually performed deftly,
rapidly, with the minimum of words, and when their daughter drew near
them Mr. and Mrs. Day closed their eyes after the fashion of a pair of
household dogs who expect to be scratched.

One morning she brought up the Captain of the ship to present to them;
she appeared to have a private and independent acquaintance with this
officer, and the introduction to her parents had the air of a sudden
happy thought.  It wasn’t so much an introduction as an exhibition, as if
she were saying to him: “This is what they look like; see how comfortable
I make them.  Aren’t they rather queer and rather dear little people?
But they leave me perfectly free.  Oh I can assure you of that.  Besides,
you must see it for yourself.”  Mr. and Mrs. Day looked up at the high
functionary who thus unbent to them with very little change of
countenance; then looked at each other in the same way.  He saluted, he
inclined himself a moment; but Pandora shook her head, she seemed to be
answering for them; she made little gestures as if in explanation to the
good Captain of some of their peculiarities, as for instance that he
needn’t expect them to speak.  They closed their eyes at last; she
appeared to have a kind of mesmeric influence on them, and Miss Day
walked away with the important friend, who treated her with evident
consideration, bowing very low, for all his importance, when the two
presently after separated.  Vogelstein could see she was capable of
making an impression; and the moral of our little matter is that in spite
of Mrs. Dangerfield, in spite of the resolutions of his prudence, in
spite of the limits of such acquaintance as he had momentarily made with
her, in spite of Mr. and Mrs. Day and the young man in the smoking-room,
she had fixed his attention.

It was in the course of the evening after the scene with the Captain that
he joined her, awkwardly, abruptly, irresistibly, on the deck, where she
was pacing to and fro alone, the hour being auspiciously mild and the
stars remarkably fine.  There were scattered talkers and smokers and
couples, unrecognisable, that moved quickly through the gloom.  The
vessel dipped with long regular pulsations; vague and spectral under the
low stars, its swaying pinnacles spotted here and there with lights, it
seemed to rush through the darkness faster than by day.  Count Otto had
come up to walk, and as the girl brushed past him he distinguished
Pandora’s face—with Mrs. Dangerfield he always spoke of her as
Pandora—under the veil worn to protect it from the sea-damp.  He stopped,
turned, hurried after her, threw away his cigar—then asked her if she
would do him the honour to accept his arm.  She declined his arm but
accepted his company, and he allowed her to enjoy it for an hour.  They
had a great deal of talk, and he was to remember afterwards some of the
things she had said.  There was now a certainty of the ship’s getting
into dock the next morning but one, and this prospect afforded an obvious
topic.  Some of Miss Day’s expressions struck him as singular, but of
course, as he was aware, his knowledge of English was not nice enough to
give him a perfect measure.

“I’m not in a hurry to arrive; I’m very happy here,” she said.  “I’m
afraid I shall have such a time putting my people through.”

“Putting them through?”

“Through the Custom-House.  We’ve made so many purchases.  Well, I’ve
written to a friend to come down, and perhaps he can help us.  He’s very
well acquainted with the head.  Once I’m chalked I don’t care.  I feel
like a kind of blackboard by this time anyway.  We found them awful in
Germany.”

Count Otto wondered if the friend she had written to were her lover and
if they had plighted their troth, especially when she alluded to him
again as “that gentleman who’s coming down.”  He asked her about her
travels, her impressions, whether she had been long in Europe and what
she liked best, and she put it to him that they had gone abroad, she and
her family, for a little fresh experience.  Though he found her very
intelligent he suspected she gave this as a reason because he was a
German and she had heard the Germans were rich in culture.  He wondered
what form of culture Mr. and Mrs. Day had brought back from Italy, Greece
and Palestine—they had travelled for two years and been
everywhere—especially when their daughter said: “I wanted father and
mother to see the best things.  I kept them three hours on the Acropolis.
I guess they won’t forget that!”  Perhaps it was of Phidias and Pericles
they were thinking, Vogelstein reflected, as they sat ruminating in their
rugs.  Pandora remarked also that she wanted to show her little sister
everything while she was comparatively unformed (“comparatively!” he
mutely gasped); remarkable sights made so much more impression when the
mind was fresh: she had read something of that sort somewhere in Goethe.
She had wanted to come herself when she was her sister’s age; but her
father was in business then and they couldn’t leave Utica.  The young man
thought of the little sister frisking over the Parthenon and the Mount of
Olives and sharing for two years, the years of the school-room, this
extraordinary pilgrimage of her parents; he wondered whether Goethe’s
dictum had been justified in this case.  He asked Pandora if Utica were
the seat of her family, if it were an important or typical place, if it
would be an interesting city for him, as a stranger, to see.  His
companion replied frankly that this was a big question, but added that
all the same she would ask him to “come and visit us at our home” if it
weren’t that they should probably soon leave it.

“Ah, you’re going to live elsewhere?” Vogelstein asked, as if that fact
too would be typical.

“Well, I’m working for New York.  I flatter myself I’ve loosened them
while we’ve been away,” the girl went on.  “They won’t find in Utica the
same charm; that was my idea.  I want a big place, and of course Utica—!”
She broke off as before a complex statement.

“I suppose Utica is inferior—?” Vogelstein seemed to see his way to
suggest.

“Well no, I guess I can’t have you call Utica inferior.  It isn’t
supreme—that’s what’s the matter with it, and I hate anything middling,”
said Pandora Day.  She gave a light dry laugh, tossing back her head a
little as she made this declaration.  And looking at her askance in the
dusk, as she trod the deck that vaguely swayed, he recognised something
in her air and port that matched such a pronouncement.

“What’s her social position?” he inquired of Mrs. Dangerfield the next
day.  “I can’t make it out at all—it’s so contradictory.  She strikes me
as having much cultivation and much spirit.  Her appearance, too, is very
neat.  Yet her parents are complete little burghers.  That’s easily
seen.”

“Oh, social position,” and Mrs. Dangerfield nodded two or three times
portentously.  “What big expressions you use!  Do you think everybody in
the world has a social position?  That’s reserved for an infinitely small
majority of mankind.  You can’t have a social position at Utica any more
than you can have an opera-box.  Pandora hasn’t got one; where, if you
please, should she have got it?  Poor girl, it isn’t fair of you to make
her the subject of such questions as that.”

“Well,” said Vogelstein, “if she’s of the lower class it seems to me
very—very—”  And he paused a moment, as he often paused in speaking
English, looking for his word.

“Very what, dear Count?”

“Very significant, very representative.”

“Oh dear, she isn’t of the lower class,” Mrs. Dangerfield returned with
an irritated sense of wasted wisdom.  She liked to explain her country,
but that somehow always required two persons.

“What is she then?”

“Well, I’m bound to admit that since I was at home last she’s a novelty.
A girl like that with such people—it _is_ a new type.”

“I like novelties”—and Count Otto smiled with an air of considerable
resolution.  He couldn’t however be satisfied with a demonstration that
only begged the question; and when they disembarked in New York he felt,
even amid the confusion of the wharf and the heaps of disembowelled
baggage, a certain acuteness of regret at the idea that Pandora and her
family were about to vanish into the unknown.  He had a consolation
however: it was apparent that for some reason or other—illness or absence
from town—the gentleman to whom she had written had not, as she said,
come down.  Vogelstein was glad—he couldn’t have told you why—that this
sympathetic person had failed her; even though without him Pandora had to
engage single-handed with the United States Custom-House.  Our young
man’s first impression of the Western world was received on the
landing-place of the German steamers at Jersey City—a huge wooden shed
covering a wooden wharf which resounded under the feet, an expanse
palisaded with rough-hewn piles that leaned this way and that, and
bestrewn with masses of heterogeneous luggage.  At one end; toward the
town, was a row of tall painted palings, behind which he could
distinguish a press of hackney-coachmen, who brandished their whips and
awaited their victims, while their voices rose, incessant, with a sharp
strange sound, a challenge at once fierce and familiar.  The whole place,
behind the fence, appeared to bristle and resound.  Out there was
America, Count Otto said to himself, and he looked toward it with a sense
that he should have to muster resolution.  On the wharf people were
rushing about amid their trunks, pulling their things together, trying to
unite their scattered parcels.  They were heated and angry, or else quite
bewildered and discouraged.  The few that had succeeded in collecting
their battered boxes had an air of flushed indifference to the efforts of
their neighbours, not even looking at people with whom they had been
fondly intimate on the steamer.  A detachment of the officers of the
Customs was in attendance, and energetic passengers were engaged in
attempts to drag them toward their luggage or to drag heavy pieces toward
them.  These functionaries were good-natured and taciturn, except when
occasionally they remarked to a passenger whose open trunk stared up at
them, eloquent, imploring, that they were afraid the voyage had been
“rather glassy.”  They had a friendly leisurely speculative way of
discharging their duty, and if they perceived a victim’s name written on
the portmanteau they addressed him by it in a tone of old acquaintance.
Vogelstein found however that if they were familiar they weren’t
indiscreet.  He had heard that in America all public functionaries were
the same, that there wasn’t a different _tenue_, as they said in France,
for different positions, and he wondered whether at Washington the
President and ministers, whom he expected to see—to _have_ to see—a good
deal of, would be like that.

He was diverted from these speculations by the sight of Mr. and Mrs. Day
seated side by side upon a trunk and encompassed apparently by the
accumulations of their tour.  Their faces expressed more consciousness of
surrounding objects than he had hitherto recognised, and there was an air
of placid expansion in the mysterious couple which suggested that this
consciousness was agreeable.  Mr. and Mrs. Day were, as they would have
said, real glad to get back.  At a little distance, on the edge of the
dock, our observer remarked their son, who had found a place where,
between the sides of two big ships, he could see the ferry-boats pass;
the large pyramidal low-laden ferry-boats of American waters.  He stood
there, patient and considering, with his small neat foot on a coil of
rope, his back to everything that had been disembarked, his neck
elongated in its polished cylinder, while the fragrance of his big cigar
mingled with the odour of the rotting piles, and his little sister,
beside him, hugged a huge post and tried to see how far she could crane
over the water without falling in.  Vogelstein’s servant was off in
search of an examiner; Count Otto himself had got his things together and
was waiting to be released, fully expecting that for a person of his
importance the ceremony would be brief.

Before it began he said a word to young Mr. Day, raising his hat at the
same time to the little girl, whom he had not yet greeted and who dodged
his salute by swinging herself boldly outward to the dangerous side of
the pier.  She was indeed still unformed, but was evidently as light as a
feather.

“I see you’re kept waiting like me.  It’s very tiresome,” Count Otto
said.

The young American answered without looking behind him.  “As soon as
we’re started we’ll go all right.  My sister has written to a gentleman
to come down.”

“I’ve looked for Miss Day to bid her good-bye,” Vogelstein went on; “but
I don’t see her.”

“I guess she has gone to meet that gentleman; he’s a great friend of
hers.”

“I guess he’s her lover!” the little girl broke out.  “She was always
writing to him in Europe.”

Her brother puffed his cigar in silence a moment.  “That was only for
this.  I’ll tell on you, sis,” he presently added.

But the younger Miss Day gave no heed to his menace; she addressed
herself only, though with all freedom, to Vogelstein.  “This is New York;
I like it better than Utica.”

He had no time to reply, for his servant had arrived with one of the
dispensers of fortune; but as he turned away he wondered, in the light of
the child’s preference, about the towns of the interior.  He was
naturally exempt from the common doom.  The officer who took him in hand,
and who had a large straw hat and a diamond breastpin, was quite a man of
the world, and in reply to the Count’s formal declarations only said,
“Well, I guess it’s all right; I guess I’ll just pass you,” distributing
chalk-marks as if they had been so many love-pats.  The servant had done
some superfluous unlocking and unbuckling, and while he closed the pieces
the officer stood there wiping his forehead and conversing with
Vogelstein.  “First visit to our country, sir?—quite alone—no ladies?  Of
course the ladies are what we’re most after.”  It was in this manner he
expressed himself, while the young diplomatist wondered what he was
waiting for and whether he ought to slip something into his palm.  But
this representative of order left our friend only a moment in suspense;
he presently turned away with the remark quite paternally uttered, that
he hoped the Count would make quite a stay; upon which the young man saw
how wrong he should have been to offer a tip.  It was simply the American
manner, which had a finish of its own after all.  Vogelstein’s servant
had secured a porter with a truck, and he was about to leave the place
when he saw Pandora Day dart out of the crowd and address herself with
much eagerness to the functionary who had just liberated him.  She had an
open letter in her hand which she gave him to read and over which he cast
his eyes, thoughtfully stroking his beard.  Then she led him away to
where her parents sat on their luggage.  Count Otto sent off his servant
with the porter and followed Pandora, to whom he really wished to address
a word of farewell.  The last thing they had said to each other on the
ship was that they should meet again on shore.  It seemed improbable
however that the meeting would occur anywhere but just here on the dock;
inasmuch as Pandora was decidedly not in society, where Vogelstein would
be of course, and as, if Utica—he had her sharp little sister’s word for
it—was worse than what was about him there, he’d be hanged if he’d go to
Utica.  He overtook Pandora quickly; she was in the act of introducing
the representative of order to her parents, quite in the same manner in
which she had introduced the Captain of the ship.  Mr. and Mrs. Day got
up and shook hands with him and they evidently all prepared to have a
little talk.  “I should like to introduce you to my brother and sister,”
he heard the girl say, and he saw her look about for these appendages.
He caught her eye as she did so, and advanced with his hand outstretched,
reflecting the while that evidently the Americans, whom he had always
heard described as silent and practical, rejoiced to extravagance in the
social graces.  They dawdled and chattered like so many Neapolitans.

“Good-bye, Count Vogelstein,” said Pandora, who was a little flushed with
her various exertions but didn’t look the worse for it.  “I hope you’ll
have a splendid time and appreciate our country.”

“I hope you’ll get through all right,” Vogelstein answered, smiling and
feeling himself already more idiomatic.

“That gentleman’s sick that I wrote to,” she rejoined; “isn’t it too bad?
But he sent me down a letter to a friend of his—one of the examiners—and
I guess we won’t have any trouble.  Mr. Lansing, let me make you
acquainted with Count Vogelstein,” she went on, presenting to her
fellow-passenger the wearer of the straw hat and the breastpin, who shook
hands with the young German as if he had never seen him before.
Vogelstein’s heart rose for an instant to his throat; he thanked his
stars he hadn’t offered a tip to the friend of a gentleman who had often
been mentioned to him and who had also been described by a member of
Pandora’s family as Pandora’s lover.

“It’s a case of ladies this time,” Mr. Lansing remarked to him with a
smile which seemed to confess surreptitiously, and as if neither party
could be eager, to recognition.

“Well, Mr. Bellamy says you’ll do anything for _him_,” Pandora said,
smiling very sweetly at Mr. Lansing.  “We haven’t got much; we’ve been
gone only two years.”

Mr. Lansing scratched his head a little behind, with a movement that sent
his straw hat forward in the direction of his nose.  “I don’t know as I’d
do anything for him that I wouldn’t do for you,” he responded with an
equal geniality.  “I guess you’d better open that one”—and he gave a
little affectionate kick to one of the trunks.

“Oh mother, isn’t he lovely?  It’s only your sea-things,” Pandora cried,
stooping over the coffer with the key in her hand.

“I don’t know as I like showing them,” Mrs. Day modestly murmured.

Vogelstein made his German salutation to the company in general, and to
Pandora he offered an audible good-bye, which she returned in a bright
friendly voice, but without looking round as she fumbled at the lock of
her trunk.

“We’ll try another, if you like,” said Mr. Lansing good-humouredly.

“Oh no it has got to be this one!  Good-bye, Count Vogelstein.  I hope
you’ll judge us correctly!”

The young man went his way and passed the barrier of the dock.  Here he
was met by his English valet with a face of consternation which led him
to ask if a cab weren’t forthcoming.

“They call ’em ’acks ’ere, sir,” said the man, “and they’re beyond
everything.  He wants thirty shillings to take you to the inn.”

Vogelstein hesitated a moment.  “Couldn’t you find a German?”

“By the way he talks he _is_ a German!” said the man; and in a moment
Count Otto began his career in America by discussing the tariff of
hackney-coaches in the language of the fatherland.



II


HE went wherever he was asked, on principle, partly to study American
society and partly because in Washington pastimes seemed to him not so
numerous that one could afford to neglect occasions.  At the end of two
winters he had naturally had a good many of various kinds—his study of
American society had yielded considerable fruit.  When, however, in
April, during the second year of his residence, he presented himself at a
large party given by Mrs. Bonnycastle and of which it was believed that
it would be the last serious affair of the season, his being there (and
still more his looking very fresh and talkative) was not the consequence
of a rule of conduct.  He went to Mrs. Bonnycastle’s simply because he
liked the lady, whose receptions were the pleasantest in Washington, and
because if he didn’t go there he didn’t know what he should do; that
absence of alternatives having become familiar to him by the waters of
the Potomac.  There were a great many things he did because if he didn’t
do them he didn’t know what he should do.  It must be added that in this
case even if there had been an alternative he would still have decided to
go to Mrs. Bonnycastle’s.  If her house wasn’t the pleasantest there it
was at least difficult to say which was pleasanter; and the complaint
sometimes made of it that it was too limited, that it left out, on the
whole, more people than it took in, applied with much less force when it
was thrown open for a general party.  Toward the end of the social year,
in those soft scented days of the Washington spring when the air began to
show a southern glow and the Squares and Circles (to which the wide empty
avenues converged according to a plan so ingenious, yet so bewildering)
to flush with pink blossom and to make one wish to sit on benches—under
this magic of expansion and condonation Mrs. Bonnycastle, who during the
winter had been a good deal on the defensive, relaxed her vigilance a
little, became whimsically wilful, vernally reckless, as it were, and
ceased to calculate the consequences of an hospitality which a reference
to the back files or even to the morning’s issue of the newspapers might
easily prove a mistake.  But Washington life, to Count Otto’s
apprehension, was paved with mistakes; he felt himself in a society
founded on fundamental fallacies and triumphant blunders.  Little
addicted as he was to the sportive view of existence, he had said to
himself at an early stage of his sojourn that the only way to enjoy the
great Republic would be to burn one’s standards and warm one’s self at
the blaze.  Such were the reflexions of a theoretic Teuton who now walked
for the most part amid the ashes of his prejudices.

Mrs. Bonnycastle had endeavoured more than once to explain to him the
principles on which she received certain people and ignored certain
others; but it was with difficulty that he entered into her
discriminations.  American promiscuity, goodness knew, had been strange
to him, but it was nothing to the queerness of American criticism.  This
lady would discourse to him _à perte de vue_ on differences where he only
saw resemblances, and both the merits and the defects of a good many
members of Washington society, as this society was interpreted to him by
Mrs. Bonnycastle, he was often at a loss to understand.  Fortunately she
had a fund of good humour which, as I have intimated, was apt to come
uppermost with the April blossoms and which made the people she didn’t
invite to her house almost as amusing to her as those she did.  Her
husband was not in politics, though politics were much in him; but the
couple had taken upon themselves the responsibilities of an active
patriotism; they thought it right to live in America, differing therein
from many of their acquaintances who only, with some grimness, thought it
inevitable.  They had that burdensome heritage of foreign reminiscence
with which so many Americans were saddled; but they carried it more
easily than most of their country-people, and one knew they had lived in
Europe only by their present exultation, never in the least by their
regrets.  Their regrets, that is, were only for their ever having lived
there, as Mrs. Bonnycastle once told the wife of a foreign minister.
They solved all their problems successfully, including those of knowing
none of the people they didn’t wish to, and of finding plenty of
occupation in a society supposed to be meagrely provided with resources
for that body which Vogelstein was to hear invoked, again and again, with
the mixture of desire and of deprecation that might have attended the
mention of a secret vice, under the name of a leisure-class.  When as the
warm weather approached they opened both the wings of their house-door,
it was because they thought it would entertain them and not because they
were conscious of a pressure.  Alfred Bonnycastle all winter indeed
chafed a little at the definiteness of some of his wife’s reserves; it
struck him that for Washington their society was really a little too
good.  Vogelstein still remembered the puzzled feeling—it had cleared up
somewhat now—with which, more than a year before, he had heard Mr.
Bonnycastle exclaim one evening, after a dinner in his own house, when
every guest but the German secretary (who often sat late with the pair)
had departed: “Hang it, there’s only a month left; let us be vulgar and
have some fun—let us invite the President.”

This was Mrs. Bonnycastle’s carnival, and on the occasion to which I
began my chapter by referring the President had not only been invited but
had signified his intention of being present.  I hasten to add that this
was not the same august ruler to whom Alfred Bonnycastle’s irreverent
allusion had been made.  The White House had received a new tenant—the
old one was then just leaving it—and Count Otto had had the advantage,
during the first eighteen months of his stay in America, of seeing an
electoral campaign, a presidential inauguration and a distribution of
spoils.  He had been bewildered during those first weeks by finding that
at the national capital in the houses he supposed to be the best, the
head of the State was not a coveted guest; for this could be the only
explanation of Mr. Bonnycastle’s whimsical suggestion of their inviting
him, as it were, in carnival.  His successor went out a good deal for a
President.

The legislative session was over, but this made little difference in the
aspect of Mrs. Bonnycastle’s rooms, which even at the height of the
congressional season could scarce be said to overflow with the
representatives of the people.  They were garnished with an occasional
Senator, whose movements and utterances often appeared to be regarded
with a mixture of alarm and indulgence, as if they would be disappointing
if they weren’t rather odd and yet might be dangerous if not carefully
watched.  Our young man had come to entertain a kindness for these
conscript fathers of invisible families, who had something of the toga in
the voluminous folds of their conversation, but were otherwise rather
bare and bald, with stony wrinkles in their faces, like busts and statues
of ancient law-givers.  There seemed to him something chill and exposed
in their being at once so exalted and so naked; there were frequent
lonesome glances in their eyes, as if in the social world their
legislative consciousness longed for the warmth of a few comfortable laws
ready-made.  Members of the House were very rare, and when Washington was
new to the inquiring secretary he used sometimes to mistake them, in the
halls and on the staircases where he met them, for the functionaries
engaged, under stress, to usher in guests and wait at supper.  It was
only a little later that he perceived these latter public characters
almost always to be impressive and of that rich racial hue which of
itself served as a livery.  At present, however, such confounding figures
were much less to be met than during the months of winter, and indeed
they were never frequent at Mrs. Bonnycastle’s.  At present the social
vistas of Washington, like the vast fresh flatness of the lettered and
numbered streets, which at this season seemed to Vogelstein more spacious
and vague than ever, suggested but a paucity of political phenomena.
Count Otto that evening knew every one or almost every one.  There were
often inquiring strangers, expecting great things, from New York and
Boston, and to them, in the friendly Washington way, the young German was
promptly introduced.  It was a society in which familiarity reigned and
in which people were liable to meet three times a day, so that their
ultimate essence really became a matter of importance.

“I’ve got three new girls,” Mrs. Bonnycastle said.  “You must talk to
them all.”

“All at once?” Vogelstein asked, reversing in fancy a position not at all
unknown to him.  He had so repeatedly heard himself addressed in even
more than triple simultaneity.

“Oh no; you must have something different for each; you can’t get off
that way.  Haven’t you discovered that the American girl expects
something especially adapted to herself?  It’s very well for Europe to
have a few phrases that will do for any girl.  The American girl isn’t
_any_ girl; she’s a remarkable specimen in a remarkable species.  But you
must keep the best this evening for Miss Day.”

“For Miss Day!”—and Vogelstein had a stare of intelligence.  “Do you mean
for Pandora?”

Mrs. Bonnycastle broke on her side into free amusement.  “One would think
you had been looking for her over the globe!  So you know her already—and
you call her by her pet name?”

“Oh no, I don’t know her; that is I haven’t seen her or thought of her
from that day to this.  We came to America in the same ship.”

“Isn’t she an American then?”

“Oh yes; she lives at Utica—in the interior.”

“In the interior of Utica?  You can’t mean my young woman then, who lives
in New York, where she’s a great beauty and a great belle and has been
immensely admired this winter.”

“After all,” said Count Otto, considering and a little disappointed, “the
name’s not so uncommon; it’s perhaps another.  But has she rather strange
eyes, a little yellow, but very pretty, and a nose a little arched?”

“I can’t tell you all that; I haven’t seen her.  She’s staying with Mrs.
Steuben.  She only came a day or two ago, and Mrs. Steuben’s to bring
her.  When she wrote to me to ask leave she told me what I tell you.
They haven’t come yet.”

Vogelstein felt a quick hope that the subject of this correspondence
might indeed be the young lady he had parted from on the dock at New
York, but the indications seemed to point another way, and he had no wish
to cherish an illusion.  It didn’t seem to him probable that the
energetic girl who had introduced him to Mr. Lansing would have the
entrée of the best house in Washington; besides, Mrs. Bonnycastle’s guest
was described as a beauty and belonging to the brilliant city.

“What’s the social position of Mrs. Steuben?” it occurred to him to ask
while he meditated.  He had an earnest artless literal way of putting
such a question as that; you could see from it that he was very thorough.

Mrs. Bonnycastle met it, however, but, with mocking laughter.  “I’m sure
I don’t know!  What’s your own?”—and she left him to turn to her other
guests, to several of whom she repeated his question.  Could they tell
her what was the social position of Mrs. Steuben?  There was Count
Vogelstein who wanted to know.  He instantly became aware of course that
he oughtn’t so to have expressed himself.  Wasn’t the lady’s place in the
scale sufficiently indicated by Mrs. Bonnycastle’s acquaintance with her?
Still there were fine degrees, and he felt a little unduly snubbed.  It
was perfectly true, as he told his hostess, that with the quick wave of
new impressions that had rolled over him after his arrival in America the
image of Pandora was almost completely effaced; he had seen innumerable
things that were quite as remarkable in their way as the heroine of the
_Donau_, but at the touch of the idea that he might see her and hear her
again at any moment she became as vivid in his mind as if they had parted
the day before: he remembered the exact shade of the eyes he had
described to Mrs. Bonnycastle as yellow, the tone of her voice when at
the last she expressed the hope he might judge America correctly.  _Had_
he judged America correctly?  If he were to meet her again she doubtless
would try to ascertain.  It would be going much too far to say that the
idea of such an ordeal was terrible to Count Otto; but it may at least be
said that the thought of meeting Pandora Day made him nervous.  The fact
is certainly singular, but I shall not take on myself to explain it;
there are some things that even the most philosophic historian isn’t
bound to account for.

He wandered into another room, and there, at the end of five minutes, he
was introduced by Mrs. Bonnycastle to one of the young ladies of whom she
had spoken.  This was a very intelligent girl who came from Boston and
showed much acquaintance with Spielhagen’s novels.  “Do you like them?”
Vogelstein asked rather vaguely, not taking much interest in the matter,
as he read works of fiction only in case of a sea-voyage.  The young lady
from Boston looked pensive and concentrated; then she answered that she
liked _some_ of them _very_ much, but that there were others she didn’t
like—and she enumerated the works that came under each of these heads.
Spielhagen is a voluminous writer, and such a catalogue took some time;
at the end of it moreover Vogelstein’s question was not answered, for he
couldn’t have told us whether she liked Spielhagen or not.

On the next topic, however, there was no doubt about her feelings.  They
talked about Washington as people talk only in the place itself,
revolving about the subject in widening and narrowing circles, perching
successively on its many branches, considering it from every point of
view.  Our young man had been long enough in America to discover that
after half a century of social neglect Washington had become the fashion
and enjoyed the great advantage of being a new resource in conversation.
This was especially the case in the months of spring, when the
inhabitants of the commercial cities came so far southward to escape,
after the long winter, that final affront.  They were all agreed that
Washington was fascinating, and none of them were better prepared to talk
it over than the Bostonians.  Vogelstein originally had been rather out
of step with them; he hadn’t seized their point of view, hadn’t known
with what they compared this object of their infatuation.  But now he
knew everything; he had settled down to the pace; there wasn’t a possible
phase of the discussion that could find him at a loss.  There was a kind
of Hegelian element in it; in the light of these considerations the
American capital took on the semblance of a monstrous mystical infinite
_Werden_.  But they fatigued Vogelstein a little, and it was his
preference, as a general thing, not to engage the same evening with more
than one newcomer, one visitor in the freshness of initiation.  This was
why Mrs. Bonnycastle’s expression of a wish to introduce him to three
young ladies had startled him a little; he saw a certain process, in
which he flattered himself that he had become proficient, but which was
after all tolerably exhausting, repeated for each of the damsels.  After
separating from his judicious Bostonian he rather evaded Mrs.
Bonnycastle, contenting himself with the conversation of old friends,
pitched for the most part in a lower and easier key.

At last he heard it mentioned that the President had arrived, had been
some half-hour in the house, and he went in search of the illustrious
guest, whose whereabouts at Washington parties was never indicated by a
cluster of courtiers.  He made it a point, whenever he found himself in
company with the President, to pay him his respects, and he had not been
discouraged by the fact that there was no association of ideas in the eye
of the great man as he put out his hand presidentially and said, “Happy
to meet you, sir.”  Count Otto felt himself taken for a mere loyal
subject, possibly for an office-seeker; and he used to reflect at such
moments that the monarchical form had its merits it provided a line of
heredity for the faculty of quick recognition.  He had now some
difficulty in finding the chief magistrate, and ended by learning that he
was in the tea-room, a small apartment devoted to light refection near
the entrance of the house.  Here our young man presently perceived him
seated on a sofa and in conversation with a lady.  There were a number of
people about the table, eating, drinking, talking; and the couple on the
sofa, which was not near it but against the wall, in a shallow recess,
looked a little withdrawn, as if they had sought seclusion and were
disposed to profit by the diverted attention of the others.  The
President leaned back; his gloved hands, resting on either knee, made
large white spots.  He looked eminent, but he looked relaxed, and the
lady beside him ministered freely and without scruple, it was clear, to
this effect of his comfortably unbending.  Vogelstein caught her voice as
he approached.  He heard her say “Well now, remember; I consider it a
promise.”  She was beautifully dressed, in rose-colour; her hands were
clasped in her lap and her eyes attached to the presidential profile.

“Well, madam, in that case it’s about the fiftieth promise I’ve given
to-day.”

It was just as he heard these words, uttered by her companion in reply,
that Count Otto checked himself, turned away and pretended to be looking
for a cup of tea.  It wasn’t usual to disturb the President, even simply
to shake hands, when he was sitting on a sofa with a lady, and the young
secretary felt it in this case less possible than ever to break the rule,
for the lady on the sofa was none other than Pandora Day.  He had
recognised her without her appearing to see him, and even with half an
eye, as they said, had taken in that she was now a person to be reckoned
with.  She had an air of elation, of success; she shone, to intensity, in
her rose-coloured dress; she was extracting promises from the ruler of
fifty millions of people.  What an odd place to meet her, her old
shipmate thought, and how little one could tell, after all, in America,
who people were!  He didn’t want to speak to her yet; he wanted to wait a
little and learn more; but meanwhile there was something attractive in
the fact that she was just behind him, a few yards off, that if he should
turn he might see her again.  It was she Mrs. Bonnycastle had meant, it
was she who was so much admired in New York.  Her face was the same, yet
he had made out in a moment that she was vaguely prettier; he had
recognised the arch of her nose, which suggested a fine ambition.  He
took some tea, which he hadn’t desired, in order not to go away.  He
remembered her _entourage_ on the steamer; her father and mother, the
silent senseless burghers, so little “of the world,” her infant sister,
so much of it, her humorous brother with his tall hat and his influence
in the smoking-room.  He remembered Mrs. Dangerfield’s warnings—yet her
perplexities too—and the letter from Mr. Bellamy, and the introduction to
Mr. Lansing, and the way Pandora had stooped down on the dirty dock,
laughing and talking, mistress of the situation, to open her trunk for
the Customs.  He was pretty sure she had paid no duties that day; this
would naturally have been the purpose of Mr. Bellamy’s letter.  Was she
still in correspondence with that gentleman, and had he got over the
sickness interfering with their reunion?  These images and these
questions coursed through Count Otto’s mind, and he saw it must be quite
in Pandora’s line to be mistress of the situation, for there was
evidently nothing on the present occasion that could call itself her
master.  He drank his tea and as; he put down his cup heard the
President, behind him, say: “Well, I guess my wife will wonder why I
don’t come home.”

“Why didn’t you bring her with you?” Pandora benevolently asked.

“Well, she doesn’t go out much.  Then she has got her sister staying with
her—Mrs. Runkle, from Natchez.  She’s a good deal of an invalid, and my
wife doesn’t like to leave her.”

“She must be a very kind woman”—and there was a high mature competence in
the way the girl sounded the note of approval.

“Well, I guess she isn’t spoiled—yet.”

“I should like very much to come and see her,” said Pandora.

“Do come round.  Couldn’t you come some night?” the great man responded.

“Well, I’ll come some time.  And I shall remind you of your promise.”

“All right.  There’s nothing like keeping it up.  Well,” said the
President, “I must bid good-bye to these bright folks.”

Vogelstein heard him rise from the sofa with his companion; after which
he gave the pair time to pass out of the room before him.  They did it
with a certain impressive deliberation, people making way for the ruler
of fifty millions and looking with a certain curiosity at the striking
pink person at his side.  When a little later he followed them across the
hall, into one of the other rooms, he saw the host and hostess accompany
the President to the door and two foreign ministers and a judge of the
Supreme Court address themselves to Pandora Day.  He resisted the impulse
to join this circle: if he should speak to her at all he would somehow
wish it to be in more privacy.  She continued nevertheless to occupy him,
and when Mrs. Bonnycastle came back from the hall he immediately
approached her with an appeal.  “I wish you’d tell me something more
about that girl—that one opposite and in pink.”

“The lovely Day—that’s what they call her, I believe?  I wanted you to
talk with her.”

“I find she is the one I’ve met.  But she seems to be so different here.
I can’t make it out,” said Count Otto.

There was something in his expression that again moved Mrs. Bonnycastle
to mirth.  “How we do puzzle you Europeans!  You look quite bewildered.”

“I’m sorry I look so—I try to hide it.  But of course we’re very simple.
Let me ask then a simple earnest childlike question.  Are her parents
also in society?”

“Parents in society?  D’où tombez-vous?  Did you ever hear of the parents
of a triumphant girl in rose-colour, with a nose all her own, in
society?”

“Is she then all alone?” he went on with a strain of melancholy in his
voice.

Mrs. Bonnycastle launched at him all her laughter.

“You’re too pathetic.  Don’t you know what she is?  I supposed of course
you knew.”

“It’s exactly what I’m asking you.”

“Why she’s the new type.  It has only come up lately.  They have had
articles about it in the papers.  That’s the reason I told Mrs. Steuben
to bring her.”

“The new type?  _What_ new type, Mrs. Bonnycastle?” he returned
pleadingly—so conscious was he that all types in America were new.

Her laughter checked her reply a moment, and by the time she had
recovered herself the young lady from Boston, with whom Vogelstein had
been talking, stood there to take leave.  This, for an American type, was
an old one, he was sure; and the process of parting between the guest and
her hostess had an ancient elaboration.  Count Otto waited a little; then
he turned away and walked up to Pandora Day, whose group of interlocutors
had now been re-enforced by a gentleman who had held an important place
in the cabinet of the late occupant of the presidential chair.  He had
asked Mrs. Bonnycastle if she were “all alone”; but there was nothing in
her present situation to show her for solitary.  She wasn’t sufficiently
alone for our friend’s taste; but he was impatient and he hoped she’d
give him a few words to himself.  She recognised him without a moment’s
hesitation and with the sweetest smile, a smile matching to a shade the
tone in which she said: “I was watching you.  I wondered if you weren’t
going to speak to me.”

“Miss Day was watching him!” one of the foreign ministers exclaimed; “and
we flattered ourselves that her attention was all with us.”

“I mean before,” said the girl, “while I was talking with the President.”

At which the gentlemen began to laugh, one of them remarking that this
was the way the absent were sacrificed, even the great; while another put
on record that he hoped Vogelstein was duly flattered.

“Oh I was watching the President too,” said Pandora.  “I’ve got to watch
_him_.  He has promised me something.”

“It must be the mission to England,” the judge of the Supreme Court
suggested.  “A good position for a lady; they’ve got a lady at the head
over there.”

“I wish they would send you to my country,” one of the foreign ministers
suggested.  “I’d immediately get recalled.”

“Why perhaps in your country I wouldn’t speak to you!  It’s only because
you’re here,” the ex-heroine of the _Donau_ returned with a gay
familiarity which evidently ranked with her but as one of the arts of
defence.  “You’ll see what mission it is when it comes out.  But I’ll
speak to Count Vogelstein anywhere,” she went on.  “He’s an older friend
than any right here.  I’ve known him in difficult days.”

“Oh yes, on the great ocean,” the young man smiled.  “On the watery
waste, in the tempest!”

“Oh I don’t mean that so much; we had a beautiful voyage and there wasn’t
any tempest.  I mean when I was living in Utica.  That’s a watery waste
if you like, and a tempest there would have been a pleasant variety.”

“Your parents seemed to me so peaceful!” her associate in the other
memories sighed with a vague wish to say something sympathetic.

“Oh you haven’t seen them ashore!  At Utica they were very lively.  But
that’s no longer our natural home.  Don’t you remember I told you I was
working for New York?  Well, I worked—I had to work hard.  But we’ve
moved.”

Count Otto clung to his interest.  “And I hope they’re happy.”

“My father and mother?  Oh they will be, in time.  I must give them time.
They’re very young yet, they’ve years before them.  And you’ve been
always in Washington?” Pandora continued.  “I suppose you’ve found out
everything about everything.”

“Oh no—there are some things I _can’t_ find out.”

“Come and see me and perhaps I can help you.  I’m very different from
what I was in that phase.  I’ve advanced a great deal since then.”

“Oh how was Miss Day in that phase?” asked a cabinet minister of the last
administration.

“She was delightful of course,” Count Otto said.

“He’s very flattering; I didn’t open my mouth!” Pandora cried.  “Here
comes Mrs. Steuben to take me to some other place.  I believe it’s a
literary party near the Capitol.  Everything seems so separate in
Washington.  Mrs. Steuben’s going to read a poem.  I wish she’d read it
here; wouldn’t it do as well?”

This lady, arriving, signified to her young friend the necessity of their
moving on.  But Miss Day’s companions had various things to say to her
before giving her up.  She had a vivid answer for each, and it was
brought home to Vogelstein while he listened that this would be indeed,
in her development, as she said, another phase.  Daughter of small
burghers as she might be she was really brilliant.  He turned away a
little and while Mrs. Steuben waited put her a question.  He had made her
half an hour before the subject of that inquiry to which Mrs. Bonnycastle
returned so ambiguous an answer; but this wasn’t because he failed of all
direct acquaintance with the amiable woman or of any general idea of the
esteem in which she was held.  He had met her in various places and had
been at her house.  She was the widow of a commodore, was a handsome mild
soft swaying person, whom every one liked, with glossy bands of black
hair and a little ringlet depending behind each ear.  Some one had said
that she looked like the _vieux jeu_, idea of the queen in _Hamlet_.  She
had written verses which were admired in the South, wore a full-length
portrait of the commodore on her bosom and spoke with the accent of
Savannah.  She had about her a positive strong odour of Washington.  It
had certainly been very superfluous in our young man to question Mrs.
Bonnycastle about her social position.

“Do kindly tell me,” he said, lowering his voice, “what’s the type to
which that young lady belongs?  Mrs. Bonnycastle tells me it’s a new
one.”

Mrs. Steuben for a moment fixed her liquid eyes on the secretary of
legation.  She always seemed to be translating the prose of your speech
into the finer rhythms with which her own mind was familiar.  “Do you
think anything’s really new?” she then began to flute.  “I’m very fond of
the old; you know that’s a weakness of we Southerners.”  The poor lady,
it will be observed, had another weakness as well.  “What we often take
to be the new is simply the old under some novel form.  Were there not
remarkable natures in the past?  If you doubt it you should visit the
South, where the past still lingers.”

Vogelstein had been struck before this with Mrs. Steuben’s pronunciation
of the word by which her native latitudes were designated; transcribing
it from her lips you would have written it (as the nearest approach) the
Sooth.  But at present he scarce heeded this peculiarity; he was
wondering rather how a woman could be at once so copious and so
uninforming.  What did he care about the past or even about the Sooth?
He was afraid of starting her again.  He looked at her, discouraged and
helpless, as bewildered almost as Mrs. Bonnycastle had found him half an
hour before; looked also at the commodore, who, on her bosom, seemed to
breathe again with his widow’s respirations.  “Call it an old type then
if you like,” he said in a moment.  “All I want to know is what type it
_is_!  It seems impossible,” he gasped, “to find out.”

“You can find out in the newspapers.  They’ve had articles about it.
They write about everything now.  But it isn’t true about Miss Day.  It’s
one of the first families.  Her great-grandfather was in the Revolution.”
Pandora by this time had given her attention again to Mrs. Steuben.  She
seemed to signify that she was ready to move on.  “Wasn’t your
great-grandfather in the Revolution?” the elder lady asked.  “I’m telling
Count Vogelstein about him.”

“Why are you asking about my ancestors?” the girl demanded of the young
German with untempered brightness.  “Is that the thing you said just now
that you can’t find out?  Well, if Mrs. Steuben will only be quiet you
never will.”

Mrs. Steuben shook her head rather dreamily.  “Well, it’s no trouble for
we of the Sooth to be quiet.  There’s a kind of languor in our blood.
Besides, we have to be to-day.  But I’ve got to show some energy
to-night.  I’ve got to get you to the end of Pennsylvania Avenue.”

Pandora gave her hand to Count Otto and asked him if he thought they
should meet again.  He answered that in Washington people were always
meeting again and that at any rate he shouldn’t fail to wait upon her.
Hereupon, just as the two ladies were detaching themselves, Mrs. Steuben
remarked that if the Count and Miss Day wished to meet again the picnic
would be a good chance—the picnic she was getting up for the following
Thursday.  It was to consist of about twenty bright people, and they’d go
down the Potomac to Mount Vernon.  The Count answered that if Mrs.
Steuben thought him bright enough he should be delighted to join the
party; and he was told the hour for which the tryst was taken.

He remained at Mrs. Bonnycastle’s after every one had gone, and then he
informed this lady of his reason for waiting.  Would she have mercy on
him and let him know, in a single word, before he went to rest—for
without it rest would be impossible—what was this famous type to which
Pandora Day belonged?

“Gracious, you don’t mean to say you’ve not found out that type yet!”
Mrs. Bonnycastle exclaimed with a return of her hilarity.  “What have you
been doing all the evening?  You Germans may be thorough, but you
certainly are not quick!”

It was Alfred Bonnycastle who at last took pity on him.  “My dear
Vogelstein, she’s the latest freshest fruit of our great American
evolution.  She’s the self-made girl!”

Count Otto gazed a moment.  “The fruit of the great American Revolution?
Yes, Mrs. Steuben told me her great-grandfather—” but the rest of his
sentence was lost in a renewed explosion of Mrs. Bonnycastle’s sense of
the ridiculous.  He bravely pushed his advantage, such as it was,
however, and, desiring his host’s definition to be defined, inquired what
the self-made girl might be.

“Sit down and we’ll tell you all about it,” Mrs. Bonnycastle said.  “I
like talking this way, after a party’s over.  You can smoke if you like,
and Alfred will open another window.  Well, to begin with, the self-made
girl’s a new feature.  That, however, you know.  In the second place she
isn’t self-made at all.  We all help to make her—we take such an interest
in her.”

“That’s only after she’s made!” Alfred Bonnycastle broke in.  “But it’s
Vogelstein that takes an interest.  What on earth has started you up so
on the subject of Miss Day?”

The visitor explained as well as he could that it was merely the accident
of his having crossed the ocean in the steamer with her; but he felt the
inadequacy of this account of the matter, felt it more than his hosts,
who could know neither how little actual contact he had had with her on
the ship, how much he had been affected by Mrs. Dangerfield’s warnings,
nor how much observation at the same time he had lavished on her.  He sat
there half an hour, and the warm dead stillness of the Washington
night—nowhere are the nights so silent—came in at the open window,
mingled with a soft sweet earthy smell, the smell of growing things and
in particular, as he thought, of Mrs. Steuben’s Sooth.  Before he went
away he had heard all about the self-made girl, and there was something
in the picture that strongly impressed him.  She was possible doubtless
only in America; American life had smoothed the way for her.  She was not
fast, nor emancipated, nor crude, nor loud, and there wasn’t in her, of
necessity at least, a grain of the stuff of which the adventuress is
made.  She was simply very successful, and her success was entirely
personal.  She hadn’t been born with the silver spoon of social
opportunity; she had grasped it by honest exertion.  You knew her by many
different signs, but chiefly, infallibly, by the appearance of her
parents.  It was her parents who told her story; you always saw how
little her parents could have made her.  Her attitude with regard to them
might vary in different ways.  As the great fact on her own side was that
she had lifted herself from a lower social plane, done it all herself,
and done it by the simple lever of her personality, it was naturally to
be expected that she would leave the authors of her mere material being
in the shade.  Sometimes she had them in her wake, lost in the bubbles
and the foam that showed where she had passed; sometimes, as Alfred
Bonnycastle said, she let them slide altogether; sometimes she kept them
in close confinement, resorting to them under cover of night and with
every precaution; sometimes she exhibited them to the public in discreet
glimpses, in prearranged attitudes.  But the general characteristic of
the self-made girl was that, though it was frequently understood that she
was privately devoted to her kindred, she never attempted to impose them
on society, and it was striking that, though in some of her
manifestations a bore, she was at her worst less of a bore than they.
They were almost always solemn and portentous, and they were for the most
part of a deathly respectability.  She wasn’t necessarily snobbish,
unless it was snobbish to want the best.  She didn’t cringe, she didn’t
make herself smaller than she was; she took on the contrary a stand of
her own and attracted things to herself.  Naturally she was possible only
in America—only in a country where whole ranges of competition and
comparison were absent.  The natural history of this interesting creature
was at last completely laid bare to the earnest stranger, who, as he sat
there in the animated stillness, with the fragrant breath of the Western
world in his nostrils, was convinced of what he had already suspected,
that conversation in the great Republic was more yearningly, not to say
gropingly, psychological than elsewhere.  Another thing, as he learned,
that you knew the self-made girl by was her culture, which was perhaps a
little too restless and obvious.  She had usually got into society more
or less by reading, and her conversation was apt to be garnished with
literary allusions, even with familiar quotations.  Vogelstein hadn’t had
time to observe this element as a developed form in Pandora Day; but
Alfred Bonnycastle hinted that he wouldn’t trust her to keep it under in
a _tête-à-tête_.  It was needless to say that these young persons had
always been to Europe; that was usually the first place they got to.  By
such arts they sometimes entered society on the other side before they
did so at home; it was to be added at the same time that this resource
was less and less valuable, for Europe, in the American world, had less
and less prestige and people in the Western hemisphere now kept a watch
on that roundabout road.  All of which quite applied to Pandora Day—the
journey to Europe, the culture (as exemplified in the books she read on
the ship), the relegation, the effacement, of the family.  The only thing
that was exceptional was the rapidity of her march; for the jump she had
taken since he left her in the hands of Mr. Lansing struck Vogelstein,
even after he had made all allowance for the abnormal homogeneity of the
American mass, as really considerable.  It took all her cleverness to
account for such things.  When she “moved” from Utica—mobilised her
commissariat—the battle appeared virtually to have been gained.

Count Otto called the next day, and Mrs. Steuben’s blackamoor informed
him, in the communicative manner of his race, that the ladies had gone
out to pay some visits and look at the Capitol.  Pandora apparently had
not hitherto examined this monument, and our young man wished he had
known, the evening before, of her omission, so that he might have offered
to be her initiator.  There is too obvious a connexion for us to fail of
catching it between his regret and the fact that in leaving Mrs.
Steuben’s door he reminded himself that he wanted a good walk, and that
he thereupon took his way along Pennsylvania Avenue.  His walk had become
fairly good by the time he reached the great white edifice that unfolds
its repeated colonnades and uplifts its isolated dome at the end of a
long vista of saloons and tobacco-shops.  He slowly climbed the great
steps, hesitating a little, even wondering why he had come.  The
superficial reason was obvious enough, but there was a real one behind it
that struck him as rather wanting in the solidity which should
characterise the motives of an emissary of Prince Bismarck.  The
superficial reason was a belief that Mrs. Steuben would pay her visit
first—it was probably only a question of leaving cards—and bring her
young friend to the Capitol at the hour when the yellow afternoon light
would give a tone to the blankness of its marble walls.  The Capitol was
a splendid building, but it was rather wanting in tone.  Vogelstein’s
curiosity about Pandora Day had been much more quickened than checked by
the revelations made to him in Mrs. Bonnycastle’s drawing-room.  It was a
relief to have the creature classified; but he had a desire, of which he
had not been conscious before, to see really to the end how well, in
other words how completely and artistically, a girl could make herself.
His calculations had been just, and he had wandered about the rotunda for
only ten minutes, looking again at the paintings, commemorative of the
national annals, which occupy its lower spaces, and at the simulated
sculptures, so touchingly characteristic of early American taste, which
adorn its upper reaches, when the charming women he had been counting on
presented themselves in charge of a licensed guide.  He went to meet them
and didn’t conceal from them that he had marked them for his very own.
The encounter was happy on both sides, and he accompanied them through
the queer and endless interior, through labyrinths of bleak bare
development, into legislative and judicial halls.  He thought it a
hideous place; he had seen it all before and asked himself what senseless
game he was playing.  In the lower House were certain bedaubed walls, in
the basest style of imitation, which made him feel faintly sick, not to
speak of a lobby adorned with artless prints and photographs of eminent
defunct Congressmen that was all too serious for a joke and too comic for
a Valhalla.  But Pandora was greatly interested; she thought the Capitol
very fine; it was easy to criticise the details, but as a whole it was
the most impressive building she had ever seen.  She proved a charming
fellow tourist; she had constantly something to say, but never said it
too much; it was impossible to drag in the wake of a _cicerone_ less of a
lengthening or an irritating chain.  Vogelstein could see too that she
wished to improve her mind; she looked at the historical pictures, at the
uncanny statues of local worthies, presented by the different States—they
were of different sizes, as if they had been “numbered,” in a shop—she
asked questions of the guide and in the chamber of the Senate requested
him to show her the chairs of the gentlemen from New York.  She sat down
in one of them, though Mrs. Steuben told her _that_ Senator (she mistook
the chair, dropping into another State) was a horrid old thing.

Throughout the hour he spent with her Vogelstein seemed to see how it was
she had made herself.  They walked about, afterwards on the splendid
terrace that surrounds the Capitol, the great marble floor on which it
stands, and made vague remarks—Pandora’s were the most definite—about the
yellow sheen of the Potomac, the hazy hills of Virginia, the far-gleaming
pediment of Arlington, the raw confused-looking country.  Washington was
beneath them, bristling and geometrical; the long lines of its avenues
seemed to stretch into national futures.  Pandora asked Count Otto if he
had ever been to Athens and, on his admitting so much, sought to know
whether the eminence on which they stood didn’t give him an idea of the
Acropolis in its prime.  Vogelstein deferred the satisfaction of this
appeal to their next meeting; he was glad—in spite of the appeal—to make
pretexts for seeing her again.  He did so on the morrow; Mrs. Steuben’s
picnic was still three days distant.  He called on Pandora a second time,
also met her each evening in the Washington world.  It took very little
of this to remind him that he was forgetting both Mrs. Dangerfield’s
warnings and the admonitions—long familiar to him—of his own conscience.
Was he in peril of love?  Was he to be sacrificed on the altar of the
American girl, an altar at which those other poor fellows had poured out
some of the bluest blood in Germany and he had himself taken oath he
would never seriously worship?  He decided that he wasn’t in real danger,
that he had rather clinched his precautions.  It was true that a young
person who had succeeded so well for herself might be a great help to her
husband; but this diplomatic aspirant preferred on the whole that his
success should be his own: it wouldn’t please him to have the air of
being pushed by his wife.  Such a wife as that would wish to push him,
and he could hardly admit to himself that this was what fate had in
reserve for him—to be propelled in his career by a young lady who would
perhaps attempt to talk to the Kaiser as he had heard her the other night
talk to the President.  Would she consent to discontinue relations with
her family, or would she wish still to borrow plastic relief from that
domestic background?  That her family was so impossible was to a certain
extent an advantage; for if they had been a little better the question of
a rupture would be less easy.  He turned over these questions in spite of
his security, or perhaps indeed because of it.  The security made them
speculative and disinterested.

They haunted him during the excursion to Mount Vernon, which took place
according to traditions long established.  Mrs. Steuben’s confederates
assembled on the steamer and were set afloat on the big brown stream
which had already seemed to our special traveller to have too much bosom
and too little bank.  Here and there, however, he became conscious of a
shore where there was something to look at, even though conscious at the
same time that he had of old lost great opportunities of an idyllic cast
in not having managed to be more “thrown with” a certain young lady on
the deck of the North German Lloyd.  The two turned round together to
hang over Alexandria, which for Pandora, as she declared, was a picture
of Old Virginia.  She told Vogelstein that she was always hearing about
it during the Civil War, ages before.  Little girl as she had been at the
time she remembered all the names that were on people’s lips during those
years of reiteration.  This historic spot had a touch of the romance of
rich decay, a reference to older things, to a dramatic past.  The past of
Alexandria appeared in the vista of three or four short streets sloping
up a hill and lined with poor brick warehouses erected for merchandise
that had ceased to come or go.  It looked hot and blank and sleepy, down
to the shabby waterside where tattered darkies dangled their bare feet
from the edge of rotting wharves.  Pandora was even more interested in
Mount Vernon—when at last its wooded bluff began to command the
river—than she had been in the Capitol, and after they had disembarked
and ascended to the celebrated mansion she insisted on going into every
room it contained.  She “claimed for it,” as she said—some of her turns
were so characteristic both of her nationality and her own style—the
finest situation in the world, and was distinct as to the shame of their
not giving it to the President for his country-seat.  Most of her
companions had seen the house often, and were now coupling themselves in
the grounds according to their sympathies, so that it was easy for
Vogelstein to offer the benefit of his own experience to the most
inquisitive member of the party.  They were not to lunch for another
hour, and in the interval the young man roamed with his first and fairest
acquaintance.  The breath of the Potomac, on the boat, had been a little
harsh, but on the softly-curving lawn, beneath the clustered trees, with
the river relegated to a mere shining presence far below and in the
distance, the day gave out nothing but its mildness, the whole scene
became noble and genial.

Count Otto could joke a little on great occasions, and the present one
was worthy of his humour.  He maintained to his companion that the
shallow painted mansion resembled a false house, a “wing” or structure of
daubed canvas, on the stage; but she answered him so well with certain
economical palaces she had seen in Germany, where, as she said, there was
nothing but china stoves and stuffed birds, that he was obliged to allow
the home of Washington to be after all really _gemüthlich_.  What he
found so in fact was the soft texture of the day, his personal situation,
the sweetness of his suspense.  For suspense had decidedly become his
portion; he was under a charm that made him feel he was watching his own
life and that his susceptibilities were beyond his control.  It hung over
him that things might take a turn, from one hour to the other, which
would make them very different from what they had been yet; and his heart
certainly beat a little faster as he wondered what that turn might be.
Why did he come to picnics on fragrant April days with American girls who
might lead him too far?  Wouldn’t such girls be glad to marry a
Pomeranian count?  And _would_ they, after all, talk that way to the
Kaiser?  If he were to marry one of them he should have to give her
several thorough lessons.

In their little tour of the house our young friend and his companion had
had a great many fellow visitors, who had also arrived by the steamer and
who had hitherto not left them an ideal privacy.  But the others
gradually dispersed; they circled about a kind of showman who was the
authorised guide, a big slow genial vulgar heavily-bearded man, with a
whimsical edifying patronising tone, a tone that had immense success when
he stopped here and there to make his points—to pass his eyes over his
listening flock, then fix them quite above it with a meditative look and
bring out some ancient pleasantry as if it were a sudden inspiration.  He
made a cheerful thing, an echo of the platform before the booth of a
country fair, even of a visit to the tomb of the _pater patriæ_.  It is
enshrined in a kind of grotto in the grounds, and Vogelstein remarked to
Pandora that he was a good man for the place, but was too familiar.  “Oh
he’d have been familiar with Washington,” said the girl with the bright
dryness with which she often uttered amusing things.  Vogelstein looked
at her a moment, and it came over him, as he smiled, that she herself
probably wouldn’t have been abashed even by the hero with whom history
has taken fewest liberties.  “You look as if you could hardly believe
that,” Pandora went on.  “You Germans are always in such awe of great
people.”  And it occurred to her critic that perhaps after all Washington
would have liked her manner, which was wonderfully fresh and natural.
The man with the beard was an ideal minister to American shrines; he
played on the curiosity of his little band with the touch of a master,
drawing them at the right moment away to see the classic ice-house where
the old lady had been found weeping in the belief it was Washington’s
grave.  While this monument was under inspection our interesting couple
had the house to themselves, and they spent some time on a pretty terrace
where certain windows of the second floor opened—a little rootless
verandah which overhung, in a manner, obliquely, all the magnificence of
the view; the immense sweep of the river, the artistic plantations, the
last-century garden with its big box hedges and remains of old espaliers.
They lingered here for nearly half an hour, and it was in this retirement
that Vogelstein enjoyed the only approach to intimate conversation
appointed for him, as was to appear, with a young woman in whom he had
been unable to persuade himself that he was not absorbed.  It’s not
necessary, and it’s not possible, that I should reproduce this colloquy;
but I may mention that it began—as they leaned against the parapet of the
terrace and heard the cheerful voice of the showman wafted up to them
from a distance—with his saying to her rather abruptly that he couldn’t
make out why they hadn’t had more talk together when they crossed the
Atlantic.

“Well, I can if you can’t,” said Pandora.  “I’d have talked quick enough
if you had spoken to me.  I spoke to you first.”

“Yes, I remember that”—and it affected him awkwardly.

“You listened too much to Mrs. Dangerfield.”

He feigned a vagueness.  “To Mrs. Dangerfield?”

“That woman you were always sitting with; she told you not to speak to
me.  I’ve seen her in New York; she speaks to me now herself.  She
recommended you to have nothing to do with me.”

“Oh how can you say such dreadful things?” Count Otto cried with a very
becoming blush.

“You know you can’t deny it.  You weren’t attracted by my family.
They’re charming people when you know them.  I don’t have a better time
anywhere than I have at home,” the girl went on loyally.  “But what does
it matter?  My family are very happy.  They’re getting quite used to New
York.  Mrs. Dangerfield’s a vulgar wretch—next winter she’ll call on me.”

“You are unlike any Mädchen I’ve ever seen—I don’t understand you,” said
poor Vogelstein with the colour still in his face.

“Well, you never _will_ understand me—probably; but what difference does
it make?”

He attempted to tell her what difference, but I’ve no space to follow him
here.  It’s known that when the German mind attempts to explain things it
doesn’t always reduce them to simplicity, and Pandora was first
mystified, then amused, by some of the Count’s revelations.  At last I
think she was a little frightened, for she remarked irrelevantly, with
some decision, that luncheon would be ready and that they ought to join
Mrs. Steuben.  Her companion walked slowly, on purpose, as they left the
house together, for he knew the pang of a vague sense that he was losing
her.

“And shall you be in Washington many days yet?” he appealed as they went.

“It will all depend.  I’m expecting important news.  What I shall do will
be influenced by that.”

The way she talked about expecting news—and important!—made him feel
somehow that she had a career, that she was active and independent, so
that he could scarcely hope to stop her as she passed.  It was certainly
true that he had never seen any girl like her.  It would have occurred to
him that the news she was expecting might have reference to the favour
she had begged of the President, if he hadn’t already made up his mind—in
the calm of meditation after that talk with the Bonnycastles—that this
favour must be a pleasantry.  What she had said to him had a
discouraging, a somewhat chilling effect; nevertheless it was not without
a certain ardour that he inquired of her whether, so long as she stayed
in Washington, he mightn’t pay her certain respectful attentions.

“As many as you like—and as respectful ones; but you won’t keep them up
for ever!”

“You try to torment me,” said Count Otto.

She waited to explain.  “I mean that I may have some of my family.”

“I shall be delighted to see them again.”

Again she just hung fire.  “There are some you’ve never seen.”

In the afternoon, returning to Washington on the steamer, Vogelstein
received a warning.  It came from Mrs. Bonnycastle and constituted, oddly
enough, the second juncture at which an officious female friend had,
while sociably afloat with him, advised him on the subject of Pandora
Day.

“There’s one thing we forgot to tell you the other night about the
self-made girl,” said the lady of infinite mirth.  “It’s never safe to
fix your affections on her, because she has almost always an impediment
somewhere in the background.”

He looked at her askance, but smiled and said: “I should understand your
information—for which I’m so much obliged—a little better if I knew what
you mean by an impediment.”

“Oh I mean she’s always engaged to some young man who belongs to her
earlier phase.”

“Her earlier phase?”

“The time before she had made herself—when she lived unconscious of her
powers.  A young man from Utica, say.  They usually have to wait; he’s
probably in a store.  It’s a long engagement.”

Count Otto somehow preferred to understand as little as possible.  “Do
you mean a betrothal—to take effect?”

“I don’t mean anything German and moonstruck.  I mean that piece of
peculiarly American enterprise a premature engagement—to take effect, but
too complacently, at the end of time.”

Vogelstein very properly reflected that it was no use his having entered
the diplomatic career if he weren’t able to bear himself as if this
interesting generalisation had no particular message for him.  He did
Mrs. Bonnycastle moreover the justice to believe that she wouldn’t have
approached the question with such levity if she had supposed she should
make him wince.  The whole thing was, like everything else, but for her
to laugh at, and the betrayal moreover of a good intention.  “I see, I
see—the self-made girl has of course always had a past.  Yes, and the
young man in the store—from Utica—is part of her past.”

“You express it perfectly,” said Mrs. Bonnycastle.  “I couldn’t say it
better myself.”

“But with her present, with her future, when they change like this young
lady’s, I suppose everything else changes.  How do you say it in America?
She lets him slide.”

“We don’t say it at all!” Mrs. Bonnycastle cried.  “She does nothing of
the sort; for what do you take her?  She sticks to him; that at least is
what we _expect_ her to do,” she added with less assurance.  “As I tell
you, the type’s new and the case under consideration.  We haven’t yet had
time for complete study.”

“Oh of course I hope she sticks to him,” Vogelstein declared simply and
with his German accent more audible, as it always was when he was
slightly agitated.

For the rest of the trip he was rather restless.  He wandered about the
boat, talking little with the returning picnickers.  Toward the last, as
they drew near Washington and the white dome of the Capitol hung aloft
before them, looking as simple as a suspended snowball, he found himself,
on the deck, in proximity to Mrs. Steuben.  He reproached himself with
having rather neglected her during an entertainment for which he was
indebted to her bounty, and he sought to repair his omission by a proper
deference.  But the only act of homage that occurred to him was to ask
her as by chance whether Miss Day were, to her knowledge, engaged.

Mrs. Steuben turned her Southern eyes upon him with a look of almost
romantic compassion.  “To my knowledge?  Why of course I’d know!  I
should think you’d know too.  Didn’t you know she was engaged?  Why she
has been engaged since she was sixteen.”

Count Otto gazed at the dome of the Capitol.  “To a gentleman from Utica?

“Yes, a native of her place.  She’s expecting him soon.”

“I’m so very glad to hear it,” said Vogelstein, who decidedly, for his
career, had promise.  “And is she going to marry him?”

“Why what do people fall in love with each other _for_?  I presume
they’ll marry when she gets round to it.  Ah if she had only been from
the Sooth—!”

At this he broke quickly in: “But why have they never brought it off, as
you say, in so many years?”

“Well, at first she was too young, and then she thought her family ought
to see Europe—of course they could see it better _with_ her—and they
spent some time there.  And then Mr. Bellamy had some business
difficulties that made him feel as if he didn’t want to marry just then.
But he has given up business and I presume feels more free.  Of course
it’s rather long, but all the while they’ve been engaged.  It’s a true,
true love,” said Mrs. Steuben, whose sound of the adjective was that of a
feeble flute.

“Is his name Mr. Bellamy?” the Count asked with his haunting
reminiscence.  “D. F. Bellamy, so?  And has he been in a store?”

“I don’t know what kind of business it was: it was some kind of business
in Utica.  I think he had a branch in New York.  He’s one of the leading
gentlemen of Utica and very highly educated.  He’s a good deal older than
Miss Day.  He’s a very fine man—I presume a college man.  He stands very
high in Utica.  I don’t know why you look as if you doubted it.”

Vogelstein assured Mrs. Steuben that he doubted nothing, and indeed what
she told him was probably the more credible for seeming to him eminently
strange.  Bellamy had been the name of the gentleman who, a year and a
half before, was to have met Pandora on the arrival of the German
steamer; it was in Bellamy’s name that she had addressed herself with
such effusion to Bellamy’s friend, the man in the straw hat who was about
to fumble in her mother’s old clothes.  This was a fact that seemed to
Count Otto to finish the picture of her contradictions; it wanted at
present no touch to be complete.  Yet even as it hung there before him it
continued to fascinate him, and he stared at it, detached from
surrounding things and feeling a little as if he had been pitched out of
an overturned vehicle, till the boat bumped against one of the
outstanding piles of the wharf at which Mrs. Steuben’s party was to
disembark.  There was some delay in getting the steamer adjusted to the
dock, during which the passengers watched the process over its side and
extracted what entertainment they might from the appearance of the
various persons collected to receive it.  There were darkies and loafers
and hackmen, and also vague individuals, the loosest and blankest he had
ever seen anywhere, with tufts on their chins, toothpicks in their
mouths, hands in their pockets, rumination in their jaws and diamond pins
in their shirt-fronts, who looked as if they had sauntered over from
Pennsylvania Avenue to while away half an hour, forsaking for that
interval their various slanting postures in the porticoes of the hotels
and the doorways of the saloons.

“Oh I’m so glad!  How sweet of you to come down!”  It was a voice close
to Count Otto’s shoulder that spoke these words, and he had no need to
turn to see from whom it proceeded.  It had been in his ears the greater
part of the day, though, as he now perceived, without the fullest
richness of expression of which it was capable.  Still less was he
obliged to turn to discover to whom it was addressed, for the few simple
words I have quoted had been flung across the narrowing interval of
water, and a gentleman who had stepped to the edge of the dock without
our young man’s observing him tossed back an immediate reply.

“I got here by the three o’clock train.  They told me in K Street where
you were, and I thought I’d come down and meet you.”

“Charming attention!” said Pandora Day with the laugh that seemed always
to invite the whole of any company to partake in it; though for some
moments after this she and her interlocutor appeared to continue the
conversation only with their eyes.  Meanwhile Vogelstein’s also were not
idle.  He looked at her visitor from head to foot, and he was aware that
she was quite unconscious of his own proximity.  The gentleman before him
was tall, good-looking, well-dressed; evidently he would stand well not
only at Utica, but, judging from the way he had planted himself on the
dock, in any position that circumstances might compel him to take up.  He
was about forty years old; he had a black moustache and he seemed to look
at the world over some counter-like expanse on which he invited it all
warily and pleasantly to put down first its idea of the terms of a
transaction.  He waved a gloved hand at Pandora as if, when she exclaimed
“Gracious, ain’t they long!” to urge her to be patient.  She was patient
several seconds and then asked him if he had any news.  He looked at her
briefly, in silence, smiling, after which he drew from his pocket a large
letter with an official-looking seal and shook it jocosely above his
head.  This was discreetly, covertly done.  No one but our young man
appeared aware of how much was taking place—and poor Count Otto mainly
felt it in the air.  The boat was touching the wharf and the space
between the pair inconsiderable.

“Department of State?” Pandora very prettily and soundlessly mouthed
across at him.

“That’s what they call it.”

“Well, what country?”

“What’s your opinion of the Dutch?” the gentleman asked for answer.

“Oh gracious!” cried Pandora.

“Well, are you going to wait for the return trip?” said the gentleman.

Our silent sufferer turned away, and presently Mrs. Steuben and her
companion disembarked together.  When this lady entered a carriage with
Miss Day the gentleman who had spoken to the girl followed them; the
others scattered, and Vogelstein, declining with thanks a “lift” from
Mrs. Bonnycastle, walked home alone and in some intensity of meditation.
Two days later he saw in a newspaper an announcement that the President
had offered the post of Minister to Holland to Mr. D. F. Bellamy of
Utica; and in the course of a month he heard from Mrs. Steuben that
Pandora, a thousand other duties performed, had finally “got round” to
the altar of her own nuptials.  He communicated this news to Mrs.
Bonnycastle, who had not heard it but who, shrieking at the queer face he
showed her, met it with the remark that there was now ground for a new
induction as to the self-made girl.





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