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Title: Mrs. Radigan - Her Biography, with that of Miss Pearl Veal, and the Memoirs - of J. Madison Mudison
Author: Lloyd, Nelson
Language: English
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MRS. RADIGAN



  MRS. RADIGAN

  HER BIOGRAPHY, WITH THAT OF MISS
  PEARL VEAL, AND THE MEMOIRS
  OF J. MADISON MUDISON

  BY

  NELSON Lloyd

  AUTHOR OF "THE SOLDIER OF THE VALLEY," ETC.

  NEW YORK
  CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
  1905



  Copyright, 1905, by
  Charles Scribner's Sons

  _Published, September, 1905_

  TROW DIRECTORY
  PRINTING AND BOOKBINDING COMPANY
  NEW YORK



CONTENTS


    CHAPTER                                                          PAGE

    I. The First Chapter and the Last                                 1

    II. My First Great Social Adventure--The
    Horse-show with the Radigans                                     21

    III. A Week-end at Westbury                                      33

    IV. In the New Box at the Opera                                  41

    V. Mrs. Radigan's First Thursday                                 48

    VI. The Monday Cotillons                                         57

    VII. Mrs. Radigan Captures Miss Bumpschus                        65

    VIII. The Small Dance at Flurry's                                73

    IX. Our Talk Over Tea                                            81

    X. Miss Veal's Engagement is Announced                           89

    XI. An Awfully Good Time                                         96

    XII. We Inspect the New House                                   103

    XIII. We Go Skating at Exudo                                    114

    XIV. Exit Plumstone Smith, Jr.                                  123

    XV. My Dinner to Miss Pearl Veal                                130

    XVI. Mrs. Radigan's Costume-ball                                139

    XVII. The Duke of Nocastle Arrives                              149

    XVIII. A Problem for the Duke                                   158

    XIX. His Grace Still Hesitates                                  168

    XX. Sir Charles Wigge Takes Possession                          180

    XXI. Pearl Veal's Answer to the Duke
    of Nocastle                                                     193

    XXII. Tumbleton Tumm, the Minstrel                              205

    XXIII. The Wedding of the Season                                215

    XXIV. Mrs. Radigan Being Smart, Becomes
    Clever                                                          230

    XXV. Pearl Veal and I                                           244

    XXVI. In which Mr. Mudison in His Memoirs Gives Us Some
    Insight into Mrs. Radigan's Shattered Romance                   257

    XXVII. Mr. Mudison Gives a Theatre-Party
    for Mrs. Underbunk                                              270

    XXVIII. Mr. Mudison Sees Mrs. Underbunk
    at the Opera                                                    283

    XXIX. Mr. Mudison Leads the Cotillon
    at the Twitters'                                                297

    XXX. At the Races                                               313

    XXXI. Mr. Mudison is Uncomfortable
    but Happy                                                       328



MRS. RADIGAN



CHAPTER I

_The First Chapter and the Last_


When I was in college, in that brief interval between the foot-ball
and the rowing season in which my mind was turned to books, I had
dreams, very faint and illusive, but still dreams, that some day, when
the four-year eligibility rule barred me from further struggles on
the gridiron and the river, I should fall to work and win fame. Even
at that time I was famous. My picture was almost a daily feature of
the metropolitan journals, and my weight, height, and chest-measure
were solemnly recorded at regular intervals for the information and
instruction of the hundreds of thousands of students of that greatest
of modern educators--the newspaper. It cannot be frankly said that
I looked for anything finer than this, but I did want something more
lasting. Young as I was, I realized that the great half-back of to-day
is the coach of to-morrow, and the day after the clerk in a country
store, or the garrulous bore who sits about the club and talks of games
long since forgotten. So I cast about for fields where new laurels
could be gathered. But how quickly laurels wither! How fine they are to
the eye, yet as food how unsatisfying! So I opened a real-estate office.

I went into business after much deliberation. Had I been born rich,
secure in the possession of a home with a full larder, a full wardrobe,
and a full stable, I should have preferred to take up brain-work and
to occupy myself in one of the learned professions, but I simply could
not afford it, and lacked that spirit of self-sacrifice and family
sacrifice which causes men to give up all for art and science, and
to go down to their graves full of honors and degrees, but empty of
all else. To use a metaphor, mixed, like all expressive metaphors,
the pen called to me, but when I thought of Homer, of Cervantes, of
Goldsmith, of Johnson, of Poe, of scores of others, gentlemen all and
men of art and learning, but frayed and shabby, the roll-top desk and
the revolving chair seemed safer though less glorious. Fame is won
easily with the pen, but to win money you must give more than words,
however fraught with wisdom and beauty--you must give yards of cotton,
boxes of buttons, and tons of pig-iron and pork. Occasionally a learned
scientist discovers something that brings him riches, but, if he is
a true scientist, that wealth is quickly dissipated in journeys to
that murky, unreal bourne where the world's genius wanders, groping,
while the rest of mankind is eating grass with the animals. I wanted
to wander, but was afraid. The thought of short rations held me back.
Two roads were open, and I chose the easier, but the longing for the
other way has never left me. Still, there is consolation, as there
is consolation for everyone in this world, even to the Christian
Scientist with gout. In life it is a comfort to know that when you are
gone your name is still to live, that your bust will adorn some hall
of fame, and that women's clubs will haggle over the meaning of what
you have written. But to live in starvation and in ignorance of your
own importance, to have the laurels placed upon a marble brow--that is
different. To be in bronze in a public square is well enough, but it is
better by far to have yourself in the flesh in one of the broad windows
of the Ticktock Club. Fifty years of terrapin and champagne are better
than two thousand of honored memory. Real estate offered me the fifty
years. I chose it, and the wisdom of that choice becomes more apparent
daily. I know now that it profits one more to have his name signed
to a thirty-foot front on Fifth Avenue than to an idyllic poem or a
masterpiece of prose.

Giving up all hope of fame and setting out to woo fortune, I elected
to deal in lots and buildings because of the tremendous social
opportunities that offered there. Fortune is better than poverty, but
fortune without fashion is little so. Fashion is ephemeral fame, and
those thus famous treat the poor more kindly than they do the merely
wealthy. So with fortune I demanded fashion, for I was ambitious and
not given to half-way measures or rewards.

You see I am frank. When I saw what would be the cost of a life of
usefulness, I boldly set out to be smart. Perhaps my friend, Mr.
Mudison, puts it more tersely when he places the proposition in the
reverse way: If you cannot be smart, be famous. I knew that I could
be smart. From my little office with its map-covered wall, from my
revolving chair by the roll-top desk, I viewed the charmed circle,
still very far off. But I viewed it with calm confidence that some
day I should be of it. For me it had no terrors, for its history was
written in the history of the country's industry, in the history
of its railroads, of its mines, of its patent devices to make life
worth living, and its patent medicines to make the living longer. Of
illusions I had none. I knew that life in the palace and life in the
slum were of equal interest to him who observed, that they showed him
the same humor and pathos, the same vices and virtues. Snobbery exists
as much in Harlem, in Brooklyn, in Jamaica, on Grand Street or Houston
as on Fifth Avenue. But if you are going to climb, it is well to reach
that dizzy pinnacle where none can snub you. I climbed. Now I can drive
a public coach, give a monkey dinner or a costume dance, and while
the town jeers it envies, and those rail loudest on whom my door is
tightest closed.

You will notice that this chapter is entitled "The First and the
Last." It is the last, because it was written after I had recorded
the adventures that follow, for when I had reached the climax of the
story of my life and that of my friends, I found that it seemed to have
no beginning. And there was a good reason for this slight omission.
Setting out on my own career, I believed that there was a story in
every man's life, that the Italian digging in the subway had as
many hair-raising adventures as the hero of a historical novel; that
the clubman who walked the avenue had as much romance in him as the
sprightly fellows who step through Balzac's pages. The idea grew. The
future might be unfolding my own story. So one day, when wearied of
rentals and repairs, of sales and loans, daily duties that seemed dull,
commonplace, and futile, I turned to my pen for relief and began to set
before me in black and white the history of the week. The result was
not satisfactory, but I had not seen my friend Mrs. Radigan for months,
and my days had been given to business and my evenings to economy. I
persevered. Time passed. My weekly records offered little but dull
accounts of real-estate transactions and the cynical reflections of
discouraged youth. Then she came again, and with her an adventure.
Dinners and dances, week-ends and weddings began to crowd themselves
upon the pages that I scribbled off in this desultory fashion. I was
right. A story did unfold. And now I am putting first the chapter
I have written last, partly to explain the rambling manner of the
telling, partly to provide the missing beginning.

The beginning of the story was really that day when Mrs. Radigan
entered my office, but I did not know it then, and made no full record
of the event. My books tell me that it was in June, and my memory that
the day was piping hot, a Friday, I think, for my partner had gone to
Easthampton for a Sunday with the Van Rundouns, and I was left alone
with the office-boy, cursing the fate that held me in town in such
weather. I envied my partner then. Since, I have blessed the day, for
it brought me Mrs. Radigan and life. He still visits the Van Rundouns.

She came in a hansom. Standing at the window, smoking a cigarette, I
was listlessly watching the almost deserted street, when a two-wheeler
bowled up to the curb, and the scene offering nothing better--only a
few delivery wagons and antiquated traps full of families parkward
bound--I noted every movement of the horse, the vehicle, the cabby,
and the fare. The horse went down on one leg, forward, resting easily
and drooping his head to dodge the sun. As Mr. Howells or Mr. James
would say in describing such an event, his right eyelid closed and his
skin shivered as he shook from him an insistent fly. The jehu opened
the roof-window and bawled something. A parasol, a white, filmy thing,
shot out in front, opened, and came toward me with a woman appended.
I could not see her face for the sunshade. I saw only her figure, a
large figure clad in summery things, gauzy, fluffy, in colors bright
and cheery, yet subdued and blending with the day, a paradox of some
Parisian modiste. The clothes, the carriage, the delicate parasol spoke
of means, and instinctively I tossed aside my cigarette and, to be
frank, posed in my revolving chair, for I knew that this could not be
for the tailor overhead or the music-college still a story higher.

The door creaked behind me, but I was absorbed in papers. Then the
office-boy spoke, and I wheeled to find her towering over me.

"Scorching, isn't it?" she said, when I had fetched a chair, and she
sat fanning herself with a tiny handkerchief.

While she fanned, I observed. She was a large woman, not fat nor merely
heavy, but strong and well-knit--masterful, I said at once when I saw
her face and could consider all. There was health in that face, color
and life, but not beauty as we judge it. The nose was too broad and
tilted up, the mouth was too large, the chin inclined to corpulence;
the eyes were small, but there was in them a twinkle of good-humor.
Altogether I liked her immensely.

"Well," she went on after a minute, "now that I have my breath again, I
shall explain. I am Mrs. John Radigan."

Instinctively I glanced across the street to a great plate-glass window
bearing in golden letters the legend that within was the uptown office
of Radigan & Co., Bankers and Brokers, of New York, London, Paris, and
Chicago. The name of Radigan was synonymous with wealth the world
over. It had become so with the last bulge in the stock-market, and
now hardly a Sunday passed without some paper covering a page with the
story of this newest of our great fortunes, of its marvellous growth
and its present lucky owner. From this I knew the story well. The elder
Radigan went West in the early eighties with a tidy sum which he had
accumulated as a book-maker. He had multiplied this a hundredfold by
speculating in worthless mining properties, and had quadrupled that in
real estate and wrecked railroads. At his death, a few years before,
he had left an estate estimated by the popular writers at two hundred
million dollars. Dividing this figure by four, as is necessary to get
at the truth in such cases, we see that his only son inherited about
fifty. But as well be on a desert island with such a sum as in Kansas
City. The Radigans were wise as well as wealthy. Charming as was their
home, they saw that it was no place for persons with millions.

Now you can come from Kansas City to New York to stay at a hotel or to
exist. To come here to live, the way lies by London and Paris, Long
Island and Newport. The dust of the plain is swept away by the Riviera
breezes; London's gloom reduces the fever of life; Paris beats down the
rough edges of the voice and the manner, giving finish and form. The
Radigans followed the rule, but they hurried. They toured abroad, did
not live there, and the dust still clung.

"You see, we have just got back, from Paris," said my visitor,
impressively. "We had a villa at Cannes in April, you know, and met
some very _recherche_ people there. Our apartment in Paris was most
delightful, and we should have liked to stay on, but we intend to make
New York our permanent home, and thought it would be well to come over
and get settled."

"So you are looking for a house," said I, pulling a bundle of papers
from my desk.

"A temporary house," said Mrs. Radigan. "I don't see anything
here that I should care to live in continuously. We will have to
build--positively have to--and Mr. Radigan is negotiating now for a
block on Fifth Avenue. He managed to rent a little box on the hills
near Westbury for the summer, but I am looking for something to exist
in next winter while the new house is going up."

"Here is just the thing you want." The plans were unfolded before her.
"It is situated on Seventy----"

"I know," she interrupted. "That is why I came to you, seeing your name
on the sign. A rather decent house on the north side, three doors from
the avenue, with an American basement and----"

"French windows," said I.

"And a Dutch roof--exactly," she cried. "It is stunning."

"One of the best in town," I declared with emphasis. "Thirty feet
front, six stories high. It was built last January by Mr. Bull when he
had wheat cornered. Subsequently the receiver sold it to my client, who
took it on speculation."

"It is stunning, but small," said Mrs. Radigan. "I should not care
to live in it right along, but we can all squeeze into it for a few
months, till the new one is done."

"You have a large family?" I asked.

"Three," she replied. "My husband, my sister Pearl, and myself. We
shall keep our boy Jack in the country."

"Why, you can have a floor apiece," I declared cheerfully. "Just look
at the elevation."

Mrs. Radigan raised her lorgnette and looked, but seemed to see
nothing, though her gaze was intense and her brow knitted.

"The entire fourth floor, you see, could be used by Miss Radigan," I
ventured softly, to arouse her from her mood of abstraction.

"Miss Ve-al," said she, suddenly abandoning the lorgnette and getting
down under bare eyes to solve the mystery of the blueprint. "Is that
funny white line the design of the wall-paper?"

"It's the stairs," I explained. "As I suggested, Miss Veal----"

"Ve-al," she corrected, looking up sharply. "V-e, ve--a-l, al--Ve-al.
It's French."

"Pardon me," said I abjectly. "Your sister, Miss Ve-al, could have----"

"Oh, don't bother about the old plans," she cried, gently pushing the
paper from her. "It gives me a headache to try to make them out. I'm
sure you had them upside down. But I'll take your word for it that
there's plenty of room to live in. But how about entertaining? How can
one entertain in a box like that?"

"There's a ballroom, as you see," said I, trying in vain to guide her
eye to it. "Then, on the same floor, you see a large dining-room, a
fair-size music-room, and a very fine salon."

"Well," she returned musingly, "as we don't know a soul in town as yet,
I suppose it will hold all our friends for a while, but when we get
in----"

"The new house will be done by the time you get in," I declared with
considerable emphasis.

"Certainly," said she pleasantly, not comprehending the hidden meaning.
"Tell me, is that old Mrs. Plumstone's house next door?"

"On the right," I replied. "The Hegerton Hummings are across the way,
and the Jack Twitters have the French château on the corner."

"But some common people called Gallegher are on the other side," said
she.

"My dear Mrs. Radigan," I argued, "some of the smartest people in town
live on that block."

"But the Galleghers might call," she ventured after a moment of
hesitation.

"Do not worry," was my retort. "This is not Kansas City. New Yorkers
never call on their neighbors."

"Wouldn't old Mrs. Plumstone?" she demanded, a touch of disappointment
being evident in her tone.

"Hardly."

"Well, that explains it," she said with a sigh.

"Explains what?" I asked.

"Not a soul around Westbury has been to see me," she answered. "Do tell
me, how do people get to know you in New York?"

"They don't," said I. "The question is, how do you get to know them?"

"Well, how?"

"It's very simple," I explained. "When you are buying your property,
see as many real-estate firms uptown as you can, for they have some
very nice young men connected with them. All the cotillon leaders
are in real estate or architecture, as dancing is a branch of their
business. Then there are the brokers. Some of the smartest men in town
are two-dollar brokers, and surely a great house like Radigan & Co. can
make it worth their while to be polite. Why, there are dozens of ways
you can collect acquaintances in New York. It is easy if you know how."

"But I did not," said Mrs. Radigan rather sadly. "It has worried me
dreadfully, too. Sometimes, since we have been at Westbury, it has
seemed as though we must be dead. Of course, one or two people there
have been very nice, but they were not the kind we care to know.
Evidently, you have made a study of society."

"Not at all," I protested. "It just happens that I have had a number of
clients from Pittsburg."

"Oh, I see!" she exclaimed, brightening, and, rising, she took my hand
effusively. "You are certainly awfully kind, and I consider myself in
luck to find you. You can count on us taking the house, and I hope we
can count on your being there often."

It seemed as though she was wasting no time about taking my advice,
but there was no necessity of my enlightening her as to my own humble
place. It would be delightful, charming, splendid, I averred, as we
moved toward the door together. Simply social hyperbole, I thought at
that moment. Truth, real truth, I vowed to myself at the next, when I
happened to glance to the street, and there in the cab, gazing up at
the office-window with a frown of impatience, saw a girl's face.

"I will see you to your hansom, Mrs. Radigan," I said gallantly.

"Oh, don't bother," said she.

"I insist."

So I seized my hat, and a moment later we stood together at the curb.

"To Thirty-fourth Street ferry," she called to the cabby.

"The Long Island Railroad," I shouted at the jehu, wanting to be of
service of some kind, and give reason for my presence.

The girl leaned out of the cab.

"I thought you were never coming, Sally," she said petulantly.

"This is my sister, Miss Pearl Veal," said Mrs. Radigan, not heeding
her, but turning to me.

I took the tips of the proffered fingers in mine, let them drop, and
bowed. I stammered something--something inane, I suppose, but the girl
gave me a lustrous smile just the same.

"Warmish day," I ventured, more courageously.

"Indeed," said she quietly, but still sweetly smiling.

"Good-by," said Mrs. Radigan, holding out her hand. "You can count on
me."

"You can count on me," said I firmly.

And the cab rattled away.

For months I did not see that splendid pair. They were often in my
thoughts, but as a clerk from the banking office carried through the
rental of the house, I seemed to be forgotten. My summer scribblings
were no less dull, but more cynical than ever. A Sunday with the Van
Rundouns and a two-days' stay in Morristown made the sum of my social
successes. The future seemed to offer little better. But November came.
The horse-show bugle called the Radigans to town, and with them brought
me adventures, adventures in numbers and often strange. The records of
these, made at the time when their impression on my mind was sharp and
clear, are set forth in the succeeding chapters.



CHAPTER II

_My First Great Social Adventure--The Horse-show with the Radigans_


I picked up my paper at breakfast this morning to be informed in
flaring headlines that "The Horse is King." One day in every year we
must face that black-typed legend, just as at certain other times we
must be instructed, as though we were ignorant of the fact, that it
is a "Noisy Fourth," a "Bright Thanksgiving," or a "Merry Christmas."
To further impress upon our sluggish brains the regal position of
the horse we must be confronted with an impressionistic picture of a
long-legged, bow-legged, knock-kneed animal, with a thin body, a neck
arched like a giraffe's and a swelled head, being towed around a ring
by a bandy-legged groom. It seems to me that this figure bears about
as close a relation to the great Madison Square Garden circus as the
lion rampant, the crest of my dear friends the Van Rundouns, has to
that ancient and anæmic family. Somebody told me the other day that a
certain railroad in this country used as its trademark the identical
Egg that the blind woman in Mr. Kipling's "They" traced upon the rug
to the confusion of reading-circles and cultured sets all over the
English-speaking world. The Egg is the Oriental symbol of Life and
has no connection whatever with a dining-car service, which goes to
demonstrate that the equine wonder that stares at us from the front
page of our morning paper on the first Tuesday after the first Monday
of the show is after all only a symbol handed down from the remote ages.

This county fair of ours has always had an element of mystery for me.
The horse may be king, but his is a very limited monarchy indeed.
I decided that as I sat last night in the Radigan box studying the
endless procession of men and women passing in review before me. Why
do they come here? I found myself asking. More than eighty per cent.
of them do not know a breeching from a fetlock, and is there anything
more uninteresting than watching a half-dozen horses circle twice
around a ring, line up in the centre, be inspected by three solemn
judges, and run around and out with ribbons attached? Of course, if
you own or deal in horses, it is different. Likewise if you are a
multi-millionaire--inherited--and depend on horses to keep your mind
working. But why thousands of well-balanced persons with moderate
incomes waste time and money to yawn through an evening in a hard seat
or be trampled on and crushed in that procession is a mystery. Yet they
will do it. And they generally look bored--all of them.

Of course sitting in a box is different. It is like being on the stage
in a thinking part. And we mediocre, humdrum folks, who cannot shine
ourselves, do enjoy reflecting a little lime-light. So every minute
of that long three hours was a rare pleasure to me. A first night
with the Radigans, though they did make their money in pool-rooms and
will not get "in" for several years, is vastly superior to a Saturday
evening in a cast-off box with old New Yorkers like the Van Rundouns.
I went with them last year, and then for the first time realized the
chasm that separated the man in the box from the poor crushed creatures
who swept around and around the promenade. I know how I felt when the
fellows from my old boarding-house came along and stopped square in
front of our party and stared up at me. Of course they all had to take
off their hats, because that very act gave them a certain distinction
in the mob, and of course I had to return their greeting. The box was
Bobby Q. Williegilt's own, but they did not know that he had lent it to
some poor cousins of his who had sent the tickets to some friends of
theirs, who had given them to the Van Rundouns, who asked me to join
them, so the boys treated me with marked deference forever after.

Now when it comes to a choice it is a toss-up between the Radigans
and the Van Rundouns. I had to make a choice and I ventured all.
Radigan met me on Broadway last week and brought me uptown in his new
90 horse-power car. He told me that several well-known men from the
Rollers Club had promised to sit in his box, and he invited me to join
the party. I recalled what the Van Rundouns said about the Radigans and
rather hesitated at first, but then I remembered that after all they
would only have that left-over on Saturday night and possibly not at
all. Like all else in this world, old families must die. It is the new
family, cradled in the 90 horse-power imported French car, that in a
few years will reach that maturity which we call "smartness." In that
gilded circle, supported on rickety wooden chairs, that is the great
feature of the horse-show, mature families are really surprisingly
scarce. There are many Radigans, with a goodly sprinkling of Van
Rundouns--besides the dealers. The mature do not have to go any more.
They can afford to look upon it as an "amusing show," where you can see
"all kinds of people" if you drop in for, say, just one evening. The
Radigans must go to prove that they are growing, and the Van Rundouns
to show that they still live. The Radigan star is ascending, and I
decided to grasp one of its points and go up with it.

Evidently the Radigans are willing to carry me along, for I notice
that they have lost no time about taking my advice. Those Rollers Club
fellows, it seems, are clerks in the office, rather decent chaps and
exceedingly well groomed. Besides them, our party consisted of our host
and hostess, Miss Pearl Veal, and myself. We had an excellent dinner
at the St. Regis before starting, and I know positively that Radigan
gave the waiters a ten-dollar tip, so you can see what the original
cost must have been. There was no rare old wine on the list that was
too expensive, and the club fellows made it disappear with great
rapidity and relish. For myself, I kept to champagne, for, though it
was cheaper, I felt that I knew just what it would do. Mrs. Radigan's
sister--I can never think of her by her name--drank nothing at all,
explaining to me that it made her eyes water; but our hostess was not
so abstemious, and when we left the table she was beaming. We ran down
to the Garden in the new car, as Radigan was scheduled to drive his
high-stepping pair, Samson and Delilah, in the opening class. Mrs.
Radigan told me, by the way, that she named all their horses, and asked
if I did not admire her taste in this case. She had taken the names
from an historical novel.

Radigan drove splendidly and won the blue ribbon. He ran up to receive
our congratulations, and then hurried away to put on his riding togs
and come on again with his fine saddle mare Ulysses, which his wife
had named after a play. The jam in the promenade was tremendous by
this time and we attracted a great deal of attention. Mrs. Radigan had
on a green velvety creation, with a hat that might have been modelled
after an elevated railroad station, but she is a handsome woman and
looked stunning, though she did at times suggest to me the pin-cushion
our Sunday-school gave the minister's wife many years ago. Her sister
was playing the simple rôle in plain black, and really was lovely and
attracted a vast amount of staring. What element is lacking in blue
blood that it leaves most of its possessors so pale and ill-moulded?
What a delight are these red-blooded beauties that Kansas and other
remote places send us! And generally they have names that should be
changed. Both the club fellows seemed to feel as I do and occupied
themselves with the sister, and talked stocks to her. One of them
had just caught a ten-point rise in two days on a thousand X.Y. & Z.
preferred, and so was very interesting, for it is pleasant to hear
how quickly and easily other people make money. The girl learned all
about the way they did it, and murmured, "Indeed!" and "Really!" and
smiled at everything they said about "Chickasaw common" and "Carbonic
Acid Gas first preferred." I had hoped to get some points on polite
conversation from these club fellows, thinking they had been asked to
be entertaining, but I realized soon that they were there for looks.
And they did look well. There was a block in front of our box nearly
all the evening.

The fellows from my old boarding-house went by eight distinct times,
close under me, on each occasion taking off their hats and bowing. The
crowd must have soon thought that they knew everybody in the place
worth knowing. I had not seen them since I moved into a bachelor
apartment, into rooms with red paper, a telephone, and private
refrigerator, so I had to lean over the front of the box once anyway
to shake hands with them, which pleased them greatly. I should have
presented them to Mrs. Radigan, but she had turned around to talk
to the club fellows. I could not blame her for being so distant,
for my friends were wonderfully dressed. There was young Hawkins,
for instance, in a very shiny top hat, a dinner-coat, and a white
ready-made-up tie, and Green, who has the fourth floor rear hall-room,
in a derby and a tail coat and a turn-down collar so large that he
could have drawn in his head like a turtle. Robinson had a top hat and
white gloves, but he kept his overcoat buttoned, so I could not see
what was underneath. And all the time that these idiots were staring
up at me, basking in the reflected social sunlight, a half-dozen women
were looking up our box in the programme to find out who we were, and a
newspaper artist was drawing me. Then Green got his courage up, seized
opportunity by the bit, and began to talk volubly about the horses.
Apparently he intended to stay there all evening, and there was nothing
for me to do but to exclaim suddenly, "Rather smart-looking cob that!"
So when he turned around to look at the animal, I turned, too, and lost
myself in conversation with Miss Veal.

It would seem that I had done enough for those three climbers, but
they were not satisfied. All the evening they kept circulating around
that tan-bark ring--on the outside--and whenever they passed us they
all bowed most elaborately. Still, I suppose that is a starter on the
upward way. Some year soon they may land in a fourth-hand box on a
Saturday evening, but then I feel sure the newspapers will refer to
me as that familiar figure So-and-so, "who, though he has no horses
entered this year, is to be seen regularly with the Williegilts." They
did have my picture in last year, only they got my name wrong. They
showed me in a very flat-rimmed topper, with a half acre of white
shirt-front, and I was sucking a cane. Why I should carry a cane in
the evening I could not make out, but as I looked very Gibsonesque,
I forgave them. It was a bit aggravating, though, to be presented
as Bobbie Q. He must have been as much surprised as I, and possibly
flattered.

I think my boarding-house friends rather annoyed Mrs. Radigan. She
asked me who they were, and when I told her she raised her eyebrows.
She said with a sigh that we should be just as nice to queer people as
to anybody else. Then she gave a beaming bow to one of her husband's
customers, and got a beaming salute in return, with a cold glance from
the customer's wife. Several other customers spoke to her. Altogether
she is getting along swimmingly.

But the great event of the evening was after Radigan had won in the
class for spike-teams, and he brought up Bobbie Q. Williegilt, and
introduced him. You should have seen the stir in the surrounding boxes.
It seemed that young Williegilt wanted to buy Samson and Delilah. Mrs.
Radigan would not part with them for anything till Mr. Williegilt
actually got into the box alongside of her. Then she sparred with him
in smiling whispers for a half-hour, and in the end let him have the
pair for a song. Meantime the sketch-artists were hovering around in
multitudes, and after Williegilt left us, three other club fellows came
of their own accord and talked stocks to Mrs. Radigan and her sister.

All our pictures were in the paper this morning.



CHAPTER III

_A Week-end at Westbury_


I am just back from the Radigans'. To-night I am going to dine at
a dairy restaurant, and for some evenings to come, I fear, the
performance must be repeated. But to move in society costs, everybody
knows that, and the only reason everybody does not join the mad whirl
is that there is a difference of opinion as to whether or not the
income compensates for the output. For me it is a necessity, as I am in
a business that widens with your circle of rich friends, and, like the
champagne agent, I must have social position to be a real success. I do
not think I should have gone to Westbury from pure love of adventure,
but the Radigans are a good speculation. They are among the outside
securities in the polite market and are likely to go away over par and
be admitted to the floor or to be quoted at one-eighth.

The very next day after I sat in their box at the horse-show I received
a note from Mrs. Radigan. It was written on beautiful note-paper
bearing the family crest, a tandem rampant. It struck me that it
would be more appropriate to have a pool-room rampant, emblematic of
Radigan _père_, but after all in New York time goes so fast that the
performances of the first generation are quickly whirled out of the
mind of the second. So under the tandem rampant came the summons to
what the good woman termed a "weak-end house-party," a name strangely
fitting to my case. The real-estate market has been so active of late
that I could not go down on Friday but had to land myself at Westbury
on Saturday afternoon, to be met at the station by my hostess with a
coach and four and driven home in great state.

Save for the two grooms away off in the stern we were alone, Mrs.
Radigan holding the ribbons over four spanking grays and I on the
box-seat at her side. It is a dreadful way to drive. I can never
understand why people who can afford to be free and independent should
subject themselves to the constant scrutiny of these superior servants.
Every word I ventured rattled with hollow inanity on my own ears, to
be wafted back to those bandy-legged cynics and be laughed over by
them in the seclusion of the stable. I heaved a sigh of relief when we
pulled up in the _porte-cochère_ at the Hall and I was in the hands
of those I knew, with Radigan and the Rollers Club fellows just back
from golf, with Miss Veal and--the surprise of all--Miss Angelica Van
Rundoun. Her presence was a shock, but she subsequently cleared herself
by explaining to me privately that her father had become a customer of
Radigan & Co. and had put her up as margins. The last member of the
party I met at dinner. She was Miss Constance Mint Wherry, a product of
the union of the poor branches of the two fabulously wealthy families
whose names she bears. A large woman, weighing well over two hundred
pounds, with an extensive area of neck and shoulders, decorated with
rusty-looking jewels, she was an imposing figure. I was awed, though
she could not have been more gracious. She spoke of Williegilt as
"Bobbie" and told us what she said to him at the horse-show and what
he said to her, which caused Radigan to burst in with the remark
that "Bobbie" was a "lovely fellow--a lovely fel-low," and Mrs.
Radigan ventured demurely that she was going to have him down for a
week-end--she "liked him so much."

Miss Wherry took to me very rapidly. She said that I was so original,
which of course pleased me tremendously, till she spoiled it all by
declaring that "society men" bored her--they were so vapid. I could
not see but what my tie and collar matched those of the Rollers Club
fellows, and the only outward difference I could discern between us was
that when they _did_ talk, they talked very loud, and when they _did
not_ talk, they drank much more than I.

But I could not get away from Miss Wherry. When we sat down to bridge
after dinner she insisted on being my partner, much to the disgust of
Radigan, who wanted to talk to her about "Bobbie Williegilt." Then
she said that she would let me "carry her," and when the Rollers
Club fellow who sat across from Mrs. Radigan cut an ace and remarked
calmly, "Of course it's ten cents a point," I replied, "Of course,"
but my temperature went up to about 120. I would carry Miss Wherry's
200 avoirdupois with a glad heart any day, but her score at bridge is
a load I should shudder to assume again. She made it "without" on two
aces and a queen, with a short suit of hearts, depending on her partner
to have something, and when I laid down a jack high hand she was
awfully good-natured about it and said she forgave me. Then she lost
one of her three tricks by leading out of the wrong hand. When I made
it "without" in my own hand and the Rollers Club fellow on my left,
sitting behind eight sure tricks in hearts, doubled, she went back
at him, and they made 144 before we got in at all. My shirt-front had
collapsed as completely as my little bank-account when at last I was
allowed to retire. Miss Wherry held my hand lingeringly and said she
hoped that I would go to service with them in the morning.

Mrs. Radigan said that she hoped everybody would attend service; the
wagon would be ready at 10:30. But the Rollers Club fellows guessed
that they would go to even-song. To this our hostess replied that that
would be impossible, as in the afternoon everybody was to run down to
the Southshore Club in the bubble to have tea with the Mints, who had
invited them especially. This upset the Rollers Club fellows terribly,
and they said they would try to get up but not to wait for them.

We did not wait. Radigan was late, too, so I had Mrs. Radigan, Miss
Veal, and Miss Wherry on my hands all morning. We went over to the
"cathedral" in Garden City, and I was kept so busy finding their places
in the prayer-book that I forgot my own troubles for a time. But the
rector brought them all to mind again by his text: Proverbs 10:4--"He
becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand."

He applied it to Life, not Whist, but somehow I could not but twist
his words to suit my own troubles. Miss Wherry said that it was a very
thoughtful sermon; Miss Veal declared that he was a lovely looking
young man, and Mrs. Radigan, that she "liked him so much."

But that text rang in my brain all afternoon, and by the time we got
home from the Southshore Club I had such a splitting headache I could
not appear for dinner. They sent to my room all kinds of medicine and
stimulants to brace me up for bridge, but I grew steadily worse. Even
a nice little note from Miss Wherry, declaring that she forgave me for
my bad hands of the evening before, and was waiting for me to join her
in having revenge, failed to stir me. This morning I felt much better,
though poor. I came up to town in the train with one Rollers Club
fellow and he was feeling rather blue, as he had to carry Miss Wherry
against Radigan and Miss Van Rundoun. He made my check payable to the
Radigans.



CHAPTER IV

_In the New Box at the Opera_


The Radigans have a box at the Metropolitan on even Tuesdays, odd
matinées, and every third Thursday. They asked me to support them on
their first appearance in grand opera, and as I had just sold Radigan
a Harlem apartment-house, the Ophelia, of course I had to accept, and,
to be frank, it was a most enjoyable evening. The box is an excellent
one. It belongs to a branch of the Plaster family, who are abroad
this winter and have sublet it. It was a bit full that night, as Mrs.
Radigan seemed to have asked most of her friends, but by the help of
two extra chairs we all got in. There were the Radigans, and Miss Veal,
of course, with myself and the two Rollers Club fellows, Miss Constance
Mint Wherry, and a Miss Mignonette Klapper, a rare beauty, who really
had no right to be there as she is only a pupil at a finishing school
and is not even out in Milwaukee. I must admit that the girl is
charming, not at all breezy as we always picture these Westerners, but
very soft and insinuating, with most expressive eyes and teeth. She
kept me very much occupied after I succeeded in shutting off one of the
Rollers Club men and making him fight with the other over Miss Veal.

The opera, I think, was "Tannhäuser," though I paid so little attention
to it that I cannot be sure. In the criticism of it in my paper next
day I discovered this enlightening paragraph:

"Box 506--J. John Radigan, Mrs. Radigan, Miss Veal, Miss Wherry, Miss
Klapper, Messrs. Brown, Jones, and Robinson."

Again, a little farther down in the criticism: "Mrs. Radigan,
cold-cream-colored silk, diamond tiara, diamond collarette, diamonds."

I remember the diamonds very well, but of the rest of our hostess's
costume I have no recollection. But she was very imposing. She is
really a handsome woman, not sallowed by blue blood, with a large
figure and plenty of bust room for the display of jewels. And how
she did shine! Whenever the curtain went down and the lights went
up, hundreds of those social astronomers down on the common earth
of the orchestra circle turned their telescopes our way and studied
her. How sublimely indifferent to them she looked! She kept that
beautifully rounded arm of hers resting carelessly on the rail, and
with her fingers played a silent tattoo, so that her rings flashed
heliograph signals all over the house, while with her other hand she
made expressive motions with her fan. The Williegilts were in their
box across the way, and she managed, after much engineering, to catch
Bobbie's eye and smile at him, which he graciously and charitably
returned, remembering, perhaps, the low price at which she had let him
have her prize-winning pair, Samson and Delilah, after the horse-show.
These signals between the Radigan and the Williegilt boxes aroused the
astronomers below still further, and pointed a hundred more glasses
our way, and brought on a rustle of programmes while those excellent
aids to opera astronomy were consulted to find out who we were. It was
a triumph indeed. Then Miss Wherry helped out by whispering to some
people in the next box; the Rollers Club fellows excused themselves
a few minutes to appear on the other side with the Mints, and Willie
Lite actually called in our box and showed himself right out in front
whispering and laughing with Mrs. Radigan and Miss Veal for some
minutes, and talking with Radigan in the back long enough to sell him
ten cases of champagne. Altogether we seemed quite in the swim.

But we were too overcrowded. Four to a box is all that looks proper.
More than that gives you the appearance of a delegation from some home,
as I suggested to Radigan. He agreed with me entirely, and on the next
third Thursday there will just be three of us in the opera--Radigan,
his wife, and myself. We men are to stand back in the shadow and look
as if we were hatching some dark conspiracy, while she stays out in
front where the astronomers can study her. To get along in society,
people must observe.

Still, we did fairly well for a first appearance. The objection I had
was that there was too much music and too little opera. The curtain
was up and the lights down much longer than it was down and the lights
up, and it is difficult to talk comfortably when the people above and
below are hissing at you. Then operatic music is so absurd. Of the
actual music, of course, I have no complaint. The price paid for it is
a guarantee of its excellence, and certainly many of the stars have
beautiful voices. It is a pleasure to hear them sing. It is _seeing_
them sing that destroys all illusions. I can lean back and close my
eyes and enjoy it. But how different it is when one's eyes are open,
and Juliet, age fifty, weight 200 pounds, has her head back, her eyes
on the chandelier, her hands clasping her throat, and tosses high Cs
at Romeo, age fifty, weight 195, who stands with bowed head, silent,
making all the gestures of a conjurer who is throwing coins into the
air, making them disappear. I have seen many operatic Juliets in my
time, and absurd they all seem when I compare them with the girl who
took the part in our high-school performance of the play at home years
ago. Of course she did not sing the part, but she _did_ look it, and
I must say I like, first of all, to see a thing; the hearing of it is
merely icing on the cake.

I happened to suggest a few of these ideas to Mrs. Radigan that night,
and she did not agree with me at all. She said, surely--pointing her
fan at me--I liked the "Pilgrim's Progress" in "Tan-howser" and the
"quintette" in "Whoop-de-doodle-do." That woman has such a clinching
way of saying things, I find it quite useless to argue with her. I
believe now that she thinks John Bunyan wrote "Tannhäuser" and that the
parlor-car effects in so many of the stage-settings are due entirely
to the influence of Wagner. But with all her faults she is a most
excellent soul. She gets along amazingly and will soon be varnished
over. I know, for example, that she is making rapid progress in her
French, for, after the opera, at supper she ordered some Philadelphia
"capong" cooked in some remarkable French way. Her nasal twang was
perfection, and I had no sympathy with the Rollers Club fellows who
began to choke violently. I don't care much for those Rollers Club
fellows, anyway, and am more than satisfied that when Mrs. Radigan
appears again in grand opera she will have only Radigan and myself as a
supporting company.



CHAPTER V

_Mrs. Radigan's First Thursday_


The other day I received Mrs. Radigan's card for her "every other
Thursday in December." A delicate bit of card-board bearing the name
of Miss Veal was enclosed with it. As they had sent out some 5,000 of
them, it seemed to me that a splendid opportunity for advertising was
missed, as they might have included Radigan's, with his downtown and
uptown office addresses, and the list of his firm's various exchanges.
But as I have said before, my friends are observing. They have learned
that when a man goes into society he must leave his business behind
him, unless he be an architect, a real-estate man, or a champagne
agent. These three classes are, of course, exceptions to the rule.
Society tolerates them, realizing that they must live, but makes them
lead cotillons and do other foolish things, as a part compensation for
the concessions in their case. One of the first observations I ever
made to Radigan was on this point, and I must say that he has generally
shown rare good sense. He says that they do so well because they have
horse sense. With a four-in-hand or two, and a stable of polo ponies, a
man can butt down many a closed door. An evidence of this lies in the
fact that Mrs. Radigan got a card from one of the Williegilt families,
which is presenting a plain daughter with a large fortune. Mrs. Radigan
almost died of disappointment that her own "day" interfered with her
going, and at one time I thought she would order a recess in the home
function to give her an opportunity of showing herself at the other
most exclusive house. But she repressed her ambition and went through
the ordeal at home most nobly.

I happened to pass the Williegilt house that afternoon and I could
not help contrasting the scene there with that I saw later before my
friends' mansion. The street was blocked by a tangle of carriages, two
or three seeming lunatics were running up and down shouting numbers
like mad, a couple of policemen were kept busy regulating traffic at
the avenue corner, and the awning from the curb to the door was so
bulging with humanity that you could see the elbows working along the
canvas as the compressed human beings squirmed in and out. The Radigans
could boast no such scene as this, but I feel sure that in two years
more they will beat it, and perhaps they will even have a riot when
they marry Miss Veal to a title. As it was, their preliminary event
was most satisfactory. Of course, they could not ask any of their old
friends, and had to depend entirely on the new crop, which, divided
between two days, made the attendance light.

I broke through the line of bandy-legged cynics along the curb, and
paused to look up the deserted awning. There is something chillsome
always about one of these empty canvas passage-ways, with the
half-light, the tawdry, muddied carpet under foot, the dark door away
off above you, that seems a cavernous entrance to some wonderland.
Fortunately for me one of the Rollers Club fellows came out and he
stopped long enough to reassure me. Things were not so bad, he said.
The real-estate men who had heard that Radigan was looking for half
a block on Fifth Avenue were helping wonderfully, and the architects
who understood that a million-dollar house was to be built on the
half-block were supporting them splendidly. Fortunately, several of
Radigan's smartest customers were on the bear side of the bull market,
and their wives and daughters had come to meet dear Mrs. Radigan.
Moreover, and best of all--the Rollers Club fellow winked--Willie Lite
was within, which would cost Radigan the price of ten more cases of
champagne, a small enough payment for so great an honor. So I passed
on. Of course the man who announced me got my name wrong, and gave it
an Irish twist that made Mrs. Radigan start visibly as he shouted it
in her ear. She was vastly relieved to see me, and introduced me to
Willie Lite, who was in close attendance and talked most volubly.

They were discussing the "simple life," and I heard Mrs. Radigan say
that "of the two, she preferred his 'Parsifal,'" which seemed to amuse
Lite tremendously, though to me it sounded rather inane. Mrs. Radigan
was an earnest believer in the simple life and regretted that she could
not lead it. People did not realize the dreadful responsibilities that
devolved on one who was born in our set. There was the endless round
of calls, always boresome, and callers, often worse, and dinners and
operas, and dances that we just had to go to. Sometimes she longed
to get away from it all and go to some quiet place where she could
study and store up riches in her own mind and do good to others. But
there was Radigan; he simply could not live away from his clubs and
his horses. He simply had to have excitement and terrapin, while she
longed for repose and brown bread. The good woman heaved a sigh. I had
never seen her in that mood before. But as I stood aside and surveyed
her splendid massiveness, I forgave her, for I saw that, even did she
so will it, she could not, like Diogenes, get into a tub. I fled lest
I might forgetfully suggest this, and found rest with Miss Veal, in
a simple white effect, very pretty, holding a large bunch of roses
that I felt sure one of the Rollers Club fellows had sent her. She was
talking sweetly about the weather to old Mr. Stuyvesant Mint, one of
the bear customers. Mr. Mint, as I gathered from some five minutes'
close attention, seemed convinced that it would rain before Sunday,
and Miss Veal's views on the subject were summed up in a smile and an
"Indeed." But while I was inclined to be bored by Mr. Mint's ideas, I
soon found that I had to make them my own, and solemnly repeat them
all over again, for when he became aware of my presence he fled to the
dining-room, leaving me to bear his cross.

The burden was light enough awhile, for Pearl Veal is so beautiful.
She delights my eye. I could sit with her by the hour, as I can lounge
beneath a spreading tree on some hill-top, smoking, watching the valley
below, thought arrested, in my mind mirrored the rolling fields,
the woods, the meadows, the blue sky, the lazy clouds, and cheerful
sunlight. To me she always is a lovely view, a prospect restful. But
the world can offer few so fair; it seeks to hide its homeliness; it
makes its laws to suit the greatest number. Talk it commands--talk,
else you stare--talk small, say things inane, chatter, chatter, let the
brain run mad, gabble, gabble, and so forget the universal plainness.
Pearl Veal, I suspect, would revel in the quiet valley, away from the
clatter of mills and the roar of trade. Her mood is peaceful. She knows
that Nature keeps the eyes open and the mouth closed, but perverse man
reverses the rule. She would speak when she had something worth while
saying. At conversation she fails lamentably. But the world says, talk,
and that day it interfered with my happiness. Talk we did, or rather
I did, for Miss Veal seems not yet to have learned that the art of
polite conversation is to settle nothing, to leave everything up in the
air, and if by chance you do make a definite statement, to preserve
the subject for further use by that saving, "Don't you think so?" When
I said that I believed it was going to rain, she agreed with me and
that ended it. When I brought up tennis as an absorbingly interesting
subject for sustained repartee, she knocked it on the head in like
fashion and left me standing first on one foot and then on the other,
gazing into space. Some hours later, it seemed, an innocent young man,
with an eye to beauty, relieved me, and I bolted for the dining-room,
away off in the rear, where Miss Wherry was pouring tea, and took me
under her protecting wing. Radigan was there, penned up in a corner
between Coppe, the business half of the architectural firm of Coppe
& Coppe, and young Crayon, whose sole hold on life is a Beaux Arts
education and a drawing-board. Then there were several bear customers'
wives, who were standing around the great table sampling things, and
talking between bites to one or two of the social representatives of
leading real-estate houses. A few persons, strangers to me, wandered
in, took a nibble or two, looked absently about as though they were
in a dream, and then ambled out. When I had had a cup of tea, a
sugar-coated bit of cake with cream inside, a glass of champagne, and a
chocolate peppermint, I wandered out, too. Miss Veal gave me a lustrous
smile on parting, and Mrs. Radigan said she was so glad I could come.
I paused long enough upstairs to exchange hats with the other Rollers
Club fellow, as I saw my new one on top of his coat and remembered
that after the opera the other night I had been left with a derelict
headgear with many bald spots. Then I went softly away, down the gloomy
awning, over the muddied red carpet. I had no trouble getting out, but
I prophesy that next time I shall have to fight to reach the street.



CHAPTER VI

_The Monday Cotillons_


A few days ago I received under the tandem rampant a hurried summons
from Mrs. Radigan. She was dying to see me, so I closed up my desk
somewhat earlier than usual and turned my toes toward Billionville. I
had never before seen her so beaming. She reminded me that Mrs. Tucker
Ten Broeck had died some weeks ago. Well, she had been asked to take
the vacant place among the patronesses of the Monday Cotillon. Now,
I realized that society that is really worth knowing frowns on these
subscription things, but considering that the previous generation
of Radigans had probably waited at the Mondays, it seemed that the
present generation was soaring when it danced there. Moreover, there
are many thousands of simple, unassuming women in town who would give
their heads to appear in that list of eminently respectable names. The
Mondays looked down on the Tuesdays, and the Tuesdays looked blank
and never heard of the Fridays, and as Mrs. Radigan had, in one wild
leap, gone over the Fridays into the Mondays, there was indeed cause
for congratulation. In a year or two, with her money, she can raise
her eyebrows when the Mondays are mentioned, just as she does now when
we speak of the Tuesdays or Fridays. She has had wonderful luck in
skipping intermediate social degrees, and at the present rate she will
soon take the thirty-third and become a grand commander. I could not
understand how she worked it out so quickly.

Mrs. Radigan is inclined to regard the decease of Mrs. Ten Broeck as
an intervention of Providence. It seems that on her demand Radigan--to
use her own expression--has become "a patron of the church." He is now
a vestryman at St. Edwards, a director of the Hydropathic Hospital,
vice-president of the Improvident Pawning Society, and a heavy
stockholder in the Underground Café Company. Mrs. Radigan is herself a
manageress of the "Home for Aged but Respectable Unmarried Women." With
Radigan passing the plate every Sunday with Major Plaster, and Mrs.
Radigan constantly telephoning to Mrs. Plumstone Smith about the home,
it just had to come.

After all, it is the brains that rise like cream in the social crock.
There are plenty of people in this town with just as much money as the
Radigans, but, struggle though they may, they will stay down. They swim
dog-fashion, then drown. Their palaces rise on Riverside Drive, and
even Harlem knows their countenances. But the Radigans have brains.
They never seem to be swimming for dear life; they float up on their
money. Now floating seemed so easy, so blissful. They were able to
dispense with one of the Rollers Club fellows for the dinner before
the dance and to put in his place young Plumstone Smith, which was a
pleasant change for all, so we sat down at the table, besides the
new fellow, the Radigans, Miss Constance Mint Wherry, Miss Veal, Miss
Hope Van Rundoun, the other Rollers Club fellow and myself. And such a
dinner! The Radigans never do things half-way. For each of the young
women there was an enormous bunch of American Beauties, and as the men
could not take flowers, Radigan loaded our cases with cigars that the
gods might smoke. They did not churn us all up in a Fifth Avenue stage,
as is the custom in some circles, but rolled us downtown, swiftly,
gently, in their new electric carryall.

Mrs. Radigan had come to her own! You should have seen her as she
stood in that august row of patronesses, right between Mrs. Plumstone
Smith and Mrs. Stuyvesant Mint. They simply looked like the setting.
She seemed to have been born and raised right in that spot, so natural
did she appear. Mrs. Plumstone Smith let me tip up one of her gloved
hands, and then recognized the existence of her son. Mrs. Radigan made
a one-quarter bow at us and smiled vacantly, then turned and whispered
to Mrs. Mint. But she thawed out later. I found her sitting behind the
favor-counter, a part in a scene that called to my mind a street-bazaar
in Cairo, though I did not suggest it to her as I led her forth into
the mazes of the dance.

Mrs. Radigan hops. Mrs. Radigan loves dancing. Mrs. Radigan tells you
to stop when you are tired--she can keep on forever. What an awful
combination! The first time we hopped by that row of immaculately clad
statuary known as the "stags" I recognized every face distinctly, and
even saw the Rollers Club fellow wink at me. The second time around,
young Plumstone Smith winked. At the third circuit two or three of
the stags had their heads together and seemed to be looking our way
and commenting. On the fourth, Tumbleton Wherry, who was leading the
cotillon, stopped running around clapping his hands as if he were
shooing chickens, and stood in the centre of the room just gazing our
way. The last time I saw the stags they seemed to my distorted vision
just a long band of black and white. I am positive that Mrs. Radigan,
in the early ages of her existence--ages now remote--danced to the
music of a hurdy-gurdy.

When the dizziness had gone, I was called to the business of the hour
by Tumbleton Wherry, who dropped in my lap a corn-cob pipe tied with
pink ribbon and hurried on. So I gathered my feet together, and by
sliding madly across the room, managed to place it in the hands of Miss
Veal before the Rollers Club fellow could claim her by the presentation
of a gilt paper pin-wheel. Oh, but that girl can glide! Perhaps it was
the sudden contrast with the hopping performance of Mrs. Radigan that
made my new partner seem immaterial. I seemed to be clasping merely a
bust, she moved so easily, and I found myself doubting if she had any
feet at all, even going to the extent of kicking, gently, to satisfy
myself. There was nothing there, she glided so airily. It is the
Chicago way. I cannot say that I like it. It is uncanny. Still, it is,
perhaps, preferable to the Boston style, which requires that the young
woman stand erect like a soldier and move around as though she had
castors on the soles of her shoes. But Miss Veal compensated for her
over-gracefulness by not talking, which is a blessing, for nothing is
so trying as to have to make remarks about this dance being better than
some others when a mesh of pink trimmings is swishing around your feet.

Then she smiled! That smile went to many hearts, and when it was
seen that I knew her I was besieged with demands to be presented.
Consequently she had what society calls a good time, and when along
toward morning the band struck up "Home, Sweet Home," she was hung over
with favors till she looked like a Christmas-tree, and, besides I had
to carry to the automobile for her a whole grab-bag full of corn-cob
pipes and pin-wheels.

I walked home with the other Rollers Club fellow. He was very silent.
It seems she danced just once around the room with him and then
sailed off and sat in a quiet corner for a whole half-hour with young
Plumstone Smith. The future is all clear now. From the Rollers Club
fellow to Plumstone Smith, then a Williegilt, who will give place to a
title and a real wedding with a riot.



CHAPTER VII

_Mrs. Radigan Captures Miss Bumpschus_


If Solomon had been living in these days he would have classed the
doings of society folk with the ship on the sea, the snake on a rock,
and the way of a man with a maid, the things that pass understanding.
Why, for instance, should people who have a comfortable home of their
own and money to buy their seats in a theatre, or, indeed, the theatre
itself, like the Williegilts, wittingly accept an invitation from the
Radigans for dinner and the play, and supper at Flurry's afterward? It
meant six hours with that remarkable family, or one-quarter of a day,
and when we consider that even the Williegilts' days are numbered, we
begin to wonder if it can be true that of all the animals, man is the
most intelligent. Stranger still, now that the Williegilts have placed
on the broad brow of Mrs. Radigan the laurel wreath of social victory,
there are in the town a thousand simple, unambitious souls who would
give a year of their lives for six hours with a woman so conspicuous
as my friend. The Radigans are in. The Radigans are smart. And by
smartness we mean that highly intellectual state which requires yachts,
horses, automobiles, dancing, and bridge to keep the mind occupied.

I was walking up the avenue the other afternoon when a brougham swerved
into the curb, and a familiar voice hailed me and bade me get in, as
she wanted to see me. There is no mistaking a Radigan carriage. They
are always perfectly turned out, though I have suspected that the
mistress would have three men on the box were there room. She makes
up for this misfortune, however, by adopting the London wrinkle of
having her footman sit with hands clasped and uplifted in an attitude
of prayer; and as I had recognized one of my bandy-legged cynics of
the Westbury days at his devotions as the equipage approached, I
was prepared to be gathered in. Mrs. Radigan simply had to have me
to dinner. Young Plumstone Smith had accepted and then backed out,
pleading grippe, though she had seen him going to the Grand Central in
a hansom. She must have me to fill in, and though I am accustomed to
filling in, I doubt that even the astonishing fact that the Williegilts
were coming would have enticed me, but then Miss Ethel Bumpschus was
to be there, and I surrendered. I had seen the young woman's picture
covering the half-page over the society notes in the Sunday paper,
showing her with lustrous eyes and a furry thing around her neck, an
Oriental beauty reduced to New York; and on the promise that I should
take her in, I accepted. When I heard what was on the programme,
dinner, the play, and supper, I asked Mrs. Radigan if we should bring
trunks, and she said of course not.

But there were times that evening when it seemed to me that we were
of one family, the Radigans, the Williegilts, all of us; that we had
lived together all our lives and were to spend eternity in company.
It began at seven o'clock, very informally, and when I entered the
drawing-room the very last, prepared to besiege Miss Bumpschus, I had
suddenly impressed on me a profound respect for the art of photography.
She seemed to have aged since Sunday, and though she slipped her arm
through mine and worked her way with me through a maze of chairs and
tables to the dining-room, I felt that, after all, Mrs. Radigan had
taken me in.

Miss Bumpschus is very smart. Besides, she is intellectual. The
Bumpschuses have been prominent in New York society for fifty years;
one of her cousins married the Duke of Nothingham, and she is herself
rated at some ten millions. So, really, Mrs. Radigan was doing me a
favor and giving me what she called an opportunity. Then if I wanted
to rest my eyes I could gaze on the lovely Miss Veal across the table,
smiling at Willie Lite, and saying, "Indeed." Miss Bumpschus, I found,
was religious. To her the world was peopled with only two sets of
people worth knowing--the very rich and the very poor. She would cut
one of the Rollers Club fellows dead in the street, but she would, with
her own hands, bake a cake for one of those dear old friends of hers at
the Home for Aged Elevated Ticket-choppers. If she had not been born
just what she was, the heiress to the great Bumpschus fortune, she
would far rather have been a nurse than a person merely well-to-do.
But she was an accomplished talker, and though I cannot remember a
thing she said, she left none of those dreadful pauses. For this I
was grateful, anyway, as I could not break in on Mrs. Williegilt's
engrossing discussion of glanders and carbureters with Radigan, nor on
Mrs. Radigan's sermon on carbureters and glanders to Bobbie Williegilt;
nor could I turn from Willie Lite the smile of Miss Veal. Anyway,
whatever I said and whatever she said, Mrs. Radigan whispered in my
ear as we were going down the steps to the wagon that I had won Miss
Bumpschus's heart, and that if I would complete the conquest I must
send my old dress-clothes and top hats to the aged ticket-choppers.

Mrs. Radigan has not yet learned that when you give theatre-parties in
New York you must spend a week visiting the plays quietly if you are
going to have young girls in the party. Miss Bumpschus is not young,
but she is still classed as a girl, and, moreover, as I have said,
she is puritanical. Of Miss Veal there was no real cause for fear.
She smokes. But Mrs. Radigan informed us that she had chosen this
particular play because she knew by the name that it was something Miss
Bumpschus and her little sister could see. Poor Mrs. Radigan! Poor Miss
Bumpschus! Really it was all harmless enough, but the underlying theme
was not a burned will nor a stolen necklace. The play was more for bald
heads and switches, like most of our up-to-date dramatic exhibitions,
so Miss Bumpschus quickly lapsed into unconsciousness behind her
programme, and Miss Veal looked as though it was all a mystery to her.

"It's just my luck," Mrs. Radigan groaned to me. "Now had she been
Constance Wherry I should not have cared, but Ethel Bumpschus will not
speak to me again. A woman is foolish nowadays who takes a party to see
anything but Shakespeare, Ibsen, or the wax-works."

Rare sense is Mrs. Radigan beginning to show! Gleams of high
intelligence break through occasionally. But I fear she exaggerated the
effect on her younger guests. We did have to arouse Miss Bumpschus from
behind her programme when the curtain went down, and when Willie Lite
asked her if she did not think it was awfully clever, she turned to me
and asked me not to forget the old clothes for the ticket-choppers.
But she braced up at supper, and under the protection of Radigan, he
being a married man, and the enlivening influences of a few glasses of
champagne, she lost all her color again and became very chipper. I, for
the moment, took on the character of a horse-doctor, and entertained
Mrs. Williegilt with my opinions of glanders, while Williegilt basked
in the light of Miss Veal's smiles, and Willie Lite laid the wires to
sell a heavy line of champagne to our hostess. Altogether the evening
was a success, particularly as I read in my paper the next morning
that "Mr. and Mrs. J. John Radigan entertained Mr. and Mrs. Bobbie Q.
Williegilt and several other smart people at dinner, the play, and
supper last evening."



CHAPTER VIII

_The Small Dance at Flurry's_


By one bold leap Mrs. Radigan has landed herself among the smartest of
the smart and has fixed herself there so firmly that heaven and earth
cannot move her as long as she holds on to her money. She staked all
and won. If she failed to become a smart woman, there was that dreadful
alternative of being a club woman, but she risked it. She is safe
now. Her husband can abscond or can sue for divorce, she can sue for
divorce or can become totally demented, they can abandon each other and
their son can abandon them, but as long as the great Radigan fortune
hangs together they will be smart. And after all that adjective is not
misused, for it is money that makes people interesting in this world.
We will listen with bated breath to the twaddle of a multi-millionaire,
while we would yawn in the face of a college professor. Everybody says
the Radigans are interesting. Those who knew them in their poorer days
must have thought them dull.

I said that Mrs. Radigan risked all. That is not exaggeration. When I
heard how she had rented Flurry's entire establishment for an evening,
and calmly sent out invitations to a dance, I shuddered.

"Why, that great ballroom will look like Asbury Park in December," said
I, "unless you have made some foolish blunder like asking your old
friends."

"Never," she answered firmly. "I have made a list of just 600 names. My
annual ball is to be a great gathering of all the clans, you see. Then
I want to give it a cosmopolitan tinge, so I have asked representatives
of each of the trades: one actress, one author, one artist, one
clergyman, and a college professor. You see it will look as though I
were able to ask just whom I chose, in spite of their social position."

With that she handed me a press copy of her list, and as my eye ran
from name to name, I groaned. There was hardly a perfumery, a brokerage
house, a breakfast-food, a real-estate firm, a bank, or a business
combination of any kind in the city that was not represented.

"Why, these are the smartest people in town!" I cried. "And I am sure
you don't know one-tenth of the lot, and that only half that number
know you. How many do you think will come?"

"I cannot guess," she said calmly. "The cards went out only yesterday.
It is a gamble, of course. If nobody comes, we shall move to Riverside
Drive. If everybody comes, we go on with our new house on the avenue."

It was a pity, indeed, that that new house could not be finished in
time. If money could have completed it, there would have been no
question, but Coppe & Coppe, the architects, said they had to have
at least three months to build such a palace. The designs alone took
them ten days, so there was nothing to do but to have the affair at
Flurry's. It is difficult at a public place like that to take from a
private affair the air of one of these subscription things, for there
is no change of scene, no change of actors, and were you not versed
in socialology you could not tell Mrs. Plumstone's dance from one of
those Wednesdays or Thursdays. So Mrs. Radigan was handicapped from the
start; but she made a masterly stroke by giving the champagne contract
to Willie Lite, making it his interest to gather in as many of his
friends as possible. It was there that she won the battle, I suspect,
and her calm demeanor in those awful minutes preceding the arrival
of the first guests came, I believe, from her absolute faith in him.
Radigan was terribly nervous. He said it would break his heart if all
his polo in the fall, all his countless knocks and bruises and tumbles
were to go for nothing, and the first of their annual balls be the last.

They had a dinner at home to a few of their "close friends," which
included about one dozen, and nearly everybody they knew. The
Williegilts and Miss Bumpschus had declined, which looked ominous, and
the outlook was still darker when we arrived on the field of battle on
the minute of ten, and for an hour had the great rooms to ourselves.
There is nothing more depressing than the ballroom where, to the music
of a big orchestra, a half-dozen men and women are cavorting around
in lonely state. Dancing made easy is dancing made uninteresting, for
take away the jam of whirling figures, the sweep of bedraggled trains
beneath the feet, the stab of elbows, and the wild plunges of the
nimbler footed, and you take away the dangers that make the sport.

So that was a deadly hour. But through it all, in the hush before the
battle, Mrs. Radigan stood undaunted in the big reception-room, firm
and masterful, while Radigan wandered aimlessly about adjusting his
cuffs. Then the noble lord who stands in the entrance and announces
the events, fired the first big gun. There was a swish of skirts and
the name of Miss Bumpschus, $10,000,000 plus, resounding almost to
the ballroom, indicated to the watchers there that the conflict was
on and that victory was in the air. Miss Bumpschus was an hour late,
apologized for being early, and came on to the dance with the much
flustered Radigan. A pause. A hush. The noble lord was in action again,
and Mr. Pomade, $1,000,000 down and five more sure to come, made his
appearance. Mrs. Radigan was beaming and she had a right. At the heels
of the exquisite Pomade came Count Popperwhistle, $1,500,000 minus and
open to propositions. After him, a mob. The opera was over. From the
street below sounded the shouts of a hundred coachmen, and elevator
after elevator dumped into the hall all the flowers that bloom to-day
in society. There were no last roses, no century-plants; I don't think
the Van Rundouns were even asked, and I know the Rollers Club fellows
were left out. Even the Monday Cotillons were almost forgotten, except
for a few like the Mints and the Plumstone Smiths, who are in one set
on account of their poverty, but have a hold on the other because
of their family. Willie Lite had made good. While a great number had
sent regrets, they all came, anyway, and where had been a weary waste
of polished floor, there now was a whirling struggle for a foothold
and breathing-space. All the Bumpschuses, the Wherry-Mints, the
Mint-Wherrys, the Jack Twitters, the Willies and Bobbies, the Tommies
and Harrys were there. Willie Lite dancing with Miss Veal, simple white
and pearls, led at one end, while Plumstone Smith dancing with Miss
Marie Antoinette Williegilt, led at the other. The favors were the
finest that New York has ever seen, and our smart matrons will have to
make inroads into their bank-accounts to beat them. The silver-bound
whiskey-flasks for the men, I know, cost $25 apiece, and the carved
ivory cigarette-cases for the girls were still more expensive. Then
there were riding-crops and parasols and useful things like that, which
really made dancing profitable.

The supper was as excellent as it was unpronounceable and
indigestible, and Willie Lite must have made a good thing in
commissions. But he deserved it. More, too, I thought, when I clipped
this morning, from the journal that gives all the news that is worth
printing, a list of those who were at Mrs. Radigan's first annual ball
last night and are pledged to those to come. Here are a few of the
names:

  Mrs. E. Williegilt,
  The Misses Williegilt,
  Mrs. Robert Q. Williegilt,
  Miss E. Bumpschus,
  Mrs. Plumstone,
  Miss Constance Wherry,
  Miss Wherry-Mint,
  The Misses Speechless,
  Mrs. John Twitter,
  Miss Clarissa Mudison,
  Miss Tumbleton,
  Mrs. Timpleton Duff,
  Mrs. Hegerton Humming,
  Mrs. Thomas Tattler,
  Mr. E. Williegilt,
  Mr. Williegilt Bumpschus,
  Mr. J. Madison Mudison,
  Mr. Plumstone Smith,
  Mr. Cecil Hash,
  Mr. Winthrop Jumpkin, 7th,
  Mr. Humming,
  Mr. J. Twitter,
  Mr. Duff,
  Mr. Tattler.



CHAPTER IX

_Our Talk Over Tea_


Mrs. Radigan untwisted her furs and laid her muff and gloves on the
chair at her side, and proceeded to make tea.

"Well," she said, when the water was boiling industriously and the
alcohol lamp had ceased its explosions, "I have just leased a cottage
for the coming season at Newport. We are going quietly, you know,
and it's just a tiny little box on Bellevue Avenue and only costs us
$12,000 a year."

"Indeed?" said I. "How sensible!"

"I think it is sensible," said Mrs. Radigan. "Now, John in his usual
way wanted to take the Mints' villa at $40,000 for the season, but I
said no--people would say we were _nouveaux riches_, and I prefer to
live quietly and modestly. It is so much better taste. So many people
get in nowadays on their mere money."

Mrs. Radigan heaved a sigh. She made me some brackish-looking tea, more
for herself, and over her cup she eyed me archly. Just a week before
she had sat there with me over her afternoon tea wondering whether
Society would come to her ball, or she would be doomed to move in the
Waldorf-Astoria set for the rest of her existence. Now she was so
firmly established that she could rail, because in so doing she was
acting the dual rôle of the attacker and the attacked. I showed no
surprise. She had long since ceased to astonish me.

"So many common people go to Newport thinking they can buy their way
in," Mrs. Radigan went on. "They rent great houses and they give balls,
they entertain a German baron or a Hindoo prince, and nobody pays any
attention to them. They disappear next year. Sometimes they are barred
because there is a scandal in the family, like a divorce."

I raised my eyebrows. Mrs. Radigan must have noted it, but I think she
could not have understood, for she went right on.

"It is always better form not to seem ostentatious. That's what Mr.
Lite told me, but I had a hard time driving it into John's head. John
likes show. But I just put my foot down and said that now we were in,
we must have a conservative spell, a quiet period, so people would get
used to us. I have made up my mind to have one or two little things
that will be very, _very_ exclusive. For instance, I have decided on a
donkey-dinner, for one."

"Who is to be asked?" said I.

"Only the smartest people," she answered, stirring her tea
meditatively. "But it's a splendid idea. I am so afraid it will get
in the papers and make a dreadful stir all over the country. I intend
to write to the editors particularly and ask them not to print it.
The outsiders are always so horrid, anyway. They can do all kinds
of foolish things and nobody ever says a word, but the minute _we_
have something a little original, we never hear the end of it. Why, I
remember years ago, when we were Baptists, going to church sociables,
and nothing could be more absurd than an apron-and-necktie party,
but nothing was ever heard of them outside of the church itself. If
we were Presbyterians, and lived on Lenox Avenue, no one would print
anything about a beach-party we gave in our house on New Year's
eve, or something foolish like that. But now, simply because we are
Episcopalians and have a donkey-dinner in Newport, I know I shall be
mentioned in sermons and prayers all over the country. It is dreadful!"

"But, Mrs. Radigan," said I, "if you will leave the wings and get out
in the middle of the stage and stand in the lime-light, you must expect
to have some hissing from the audience."

"But we never get any applause," said she, with a touch of resentment
in her voice.

"Because," said I, "all those in the body of the house want to be on
the stage themselves--a strange condition, but one that really exists.
And as they are not in the company, they find comfort in picking flaws
in the acting and the actors. Now, for instance, a donkey-party for the
benefit of your old Baptist church would not excite any comment at all."

"But at Newport it will make a sensation," she cried, clasping her
hands and smiling. "Oh, it will be perfectly dreadful!"

I had to smile too. Mrs. Radigan is a wonderfully clever woman in a
social way. She seems instinctively to do the most startling thing at
the right time, and to have it all published in just the right place.
I expect that within a year she will be known as New York's grandest
dame, and that to be admitted to her house will be to be marked
socially sterling. But Society is not an aristocracy. It is the purest
democracy. The Radigans, for example, could never in the world have got
in the smart set at Harvard or Princeton. They do not know enough. But
here is Mrs. Radigan, whose father-in-law laid the foundation of a
great fortune in pool-rooms, whose father lived a useful life between
his home and his distillery; here is Mrs. Radigan, an immigrant from
Kansas City, actually planning donkey-dinners. To what heights may she
not soar?

I sat sipping tea and silently admiring this remarkable woman. But she
never lets you rest with one surprise.

"Have you heard about Pearl?" she asked suddenly.

"Surely, Miss Veal is not ill?" I exclaimed, in some alarm.

"Oh, no--engaged," Mrs. Radigan replied laughing. "Engaged to Plumstone
Smith."

I had been expecting this for some days, and believed myself prepared
for it, but the announcement was none the less disagreeable. Of course
I have never had anything more than admiration for the girl. What man
could help that! Perhaps once or twice, in a vague way, there have
come to me thoughts more ambitious, but they seemed too absurd. Pearl
Veal is rich and beautiful, a rare combination, and it was not to be
expected that she would waste herself, all her charm and wealth, on a
struggling nobody, a man who could boast nothing. So such silly dreams
were laughed at in my sober moments. But when the announcement came,
when I realized that, vague and silly though they were, they must be
put away forever, I was a bit hard hit--harder hit than I expected.

"Well, it is fine!" I cried, putting the best face possible on the
matter. "Of course I knew it all along. But when are they to be
married?"

"Never," said Mrs. Radigan, sipping tea. "You see, it's just for a
while. It was announced, by mistake, in the papers this morning, but we
have denied it. It will make a great deal of talk, you know, and the
formal announcement will be made next week."

"I see," said I. "But you say they are not to be married?"

"Of course," said Mrs. Radigan. "You see, Pearl came to me and asked my
consent, and I said they could be engaged for a while; he is such a
well-known cotillon-leader."

"But doesn't she love him?"

"Possibly, but that makes no difference. She doesn't know what love is,
the dear thing, and is flattered because he is so dreadfully devoted
to her. I encouraged it, because I don't think it does any harm for a
girl to be engaged to one or two men before she really settles down. It
improves her greatly. It gives her poise, manner, independence. Pearl
is such a simple thing. Why, she thought at first that he wanted her
money, but he assured her that it would never have made any difference
at all if papa had never left her all those millions. He wanted her for
herself alone. It's sweet of him, isn't it? Well, I told her that as
long as they were so devoted to each other they might be engaged for a
while--until May, anyway. We are going to London then for the season
and will bring back a duke."

"For the donkey-dinner?" said I.

"Yes," said Mrs. Radigan. "Won't you have another cup of tea?"



CHAPTER X

_Miss Veal's Engagement is Announced_


Mrs. Radigan has now announced the engagement of her sister to
Plumstone Smith, Jr. She let it leak out a few weeks ago, and then
kept the matter well before the public by daily denials. But it was
finally announced the other day, and on Sunday pictures of the happy
pair, with cupids hovering around them, and views of the new Radigan
mansion, where, it was said, they were to be married in the fall,
filled a page in several papers. Miss Veal's fortune was placed by
the social historians at $20,000,000, though I know positively it is
only a fifth of that sum. However, the Plumstone Smiths are secretly
quite satisfied, for I notice that they are having their old-fashioned
brown-stone-front house redecorated, and Junior seems to have purchased
himself an entire new wardrobe. Deluded youth! He does not know Mrs.
Radigan. He thinks that he has fixed himself for life, when, really,
he is simply the isle of safety on which my good friends will rest
secure for a few months in the smart whirl. After him, a London season
and a duke. And he needs the money so! Besides, Miss Veal is really a
great catch. Miss Bumpschus, of course, is a greater prize financially,
but, on her mother's side, her family is very old. She traces her line
back to the eighteenth century without a break, so she might safely be
called plain.

Miss Veal, it always seemed to me, would make an ideal wife. She is
rich and beautiful, she can read and write, she is ineligible to be a
Daughter of anything, and I have never heard her give forth an idea
of any kind; she is stunning in an opera-box, and even her motoring
garb cannot smother her loveliness. But, of course, Mrs. Plumstone
Smith had to intimate to a few close friends that her son was making a
_mésalliance_ in wedding this upstart from Kansas City. The Plumstone
Smiths are as old as the Bumpschuses, but they have always been
cultivated, and so are poor. But Plumstone Junior is a rising cotillon
leader, and has a brilliant career before him in any event. His mother
felt that more wealth and family, and less looks would be desirable.
Echoes of this came to Mrs. Radigan's ears, and with that rare strategy
of hers she announced that she had bitterly opposed the match from the
start, as she felt that Plumstone had nothing to recommend him but
his pedigree. Family would not make the automobile go. This country
was bursting with old families. Philadelphia alone could supply the
rightful heir to every title in Europe. If Plumstone had some brains
she would hail him as a brother, but as he was only a glorified
dancing-master, she would receive him on sufferance.

Forthwith came Mrs. Plumstone Smith, in a Williegilt carriage, to call
on Mrs. Radigan and kiss her and call her "Sally." After her came the
whole family, some vastly rich, some vastly poor, to rave over Mrs.
Radigan and her beautiful sister. And Mrs. Radigan took them all in.

Last night my friend gave a dinner in honor of her sister, and followed
it with a marvellous musicale. The parade to the dining-room was led by
Radigan with Mrs. Plumstone Smith on his wrong arm, while Mrs. Radigan,
with the happy young man's father, acted as rear-guard, thus signifying
the union of two great families. J. Madison Mudison, the smartest and
clubiest member of the opposing faction, took in Miss Veal, while, as
an artfully arranged contrast, Miss Bumpschus fell to Plumstone Smith,
who was allowed, however, to sit next his fiancée. I am learning.
By shuffling up the cards in the dressing-room I secured for myself
the beautiful Marian Speechless, throwing Bertie Bumpschus between
Constance Wherry and the Countess Poglioso Spinnigini, who cannot
speak English. To avoid confusion, Bertie had to take my place at the
table, for I was in his chair first, delightfully fixed with Mrs.
Bobbie Q. Williegilt on my left. He glared at me in silence through the
four courses, and then the champagne came to his aid and he began to
engage the Countess in a voluble conversation.

Miss Speechless was a delightful change from Miss Wherry, with her
ideas, and Miss Bumpschus, with her charities. She rattled on and on
at me without any regard for what I was saying to her, which always
makes conversation easy. I have not the remotest idea what she said.
She laughed a good deal, and threw in lots of color occasionally for no
reason at all, and as she is very pretty, I set her down as charming.
She is a human phonograph and seems to talk out what at some other time
another has talked into her. But she must change the records often,
else she would never be such a great belle. When she turned to Count
Poglioso Spinnigini, I found on my other hand Mrs. Williegilt, as
interested as ever in carbureters, bridge, and glanders.

The dinner was a huge success. The twenty-four at the table, with the
possible exception of Bertie Bumpschus, were in fine fettle, and as I
glanced at the illustrious company, picking lackadaisically at course
after course of the Radigan bounty, I felt that my friend had no need
to give a donkey-dinner at Newport to make herself secure. Madison
Mudison toasted Miss Veal in a few charming words. He envied his young
cousin. Too late in life he was coming to the realization that love
in a cottage was better than bachelorhood in a dozen clubs. Were he
young again, he would search the world to find another like Pearl Veal,
were that possible. Radigan expressed his delight in having Plumstone
Smith as a brother-in-law. If anyone had asked him a month ago what man
in all the world he would choose for his dear little sister he would
have said "Plumstone Smith." This caused Plumstone to declare that he
considered himself a devilish lucky fellow; Miss Veal was a devilish
lucky girl; they were all devilish lucky. Miss Veal smiled radiantly. I
caught Mrs. Radigan's eye and thought of the duke to come.

The musicale that followed was a fitting finish. The hosts arrived
about ten o'clock, and half an hour later began to enjoy $25,000
worth of music. The house was comfortably filled with the smartest of
the smart. The Skimphony Orchestra silenced them, and then Furioso's
splendid voice rang out from the smoking-room. After he had sung
several thousand dollars' worth, Herr String, the eminent 'cellist,
supported by the full Skimphony, played beautifully. Roardika, Hemstop,
and several other high-priced artists followed him. Furioso closed the
programme with _"Ah mio, mi mio."_ After Furioso, supper. And such a
supper! The Radigans' chef is an artist.

When the duke comes for Miss Veal and the new house is done, they will
show the town how to do things.



CHAPTER XI

_An Awfully Good Time_


Since her engagement to Plumstone Smith, Jr., was announced, Miss Pearl
Veal is having what in Society is called an awfully good time. This
means that her day ends in the early morning and she awakens about
noon; stands around other people's drawing-rooms at teas for some
hours; hurries home to change her costume for dinner; sits smiling
through a half-dozen courses; is whirled away for a few acts of opera;
hustled off to dance till close to dawn. Society has taken her up.
People are doing things for her. Consequently, I am beginning to
fear that she will lose the color she brought from Kansas City; that
the lines of her face, once so round and soft, will straighten and
harden; that she will give up smiling and take to talking, or become
phonographic, like Miss Marion Speechless.

Mrs. Radigan, of course, is delighted. Mrs. Radigan has cause to be
pleased. She has become a personage. She is being gossiped about in the
most outlandish fashion, much to her own amusement and the indignation
of J. John, who always was slow-witted and not ready to appraise things
at their real value. For instance, Radigan was in a towering rage when
a weekly journal that chronicles the doings of the smart set hinted
broadly that Mrs. Radigan was engaged to marry J. Madison Mudison
as soon as she had cleared away the present matrimonial barriers by
visiting South Dakota. Moreover, it was said that the husband had
already found consolation and was acquiescing in the arrangement, as it
was long known that he had been making eyes at Miss Ethel Bumpschus.
The purest fiction! Radigan and his wife are the most devoted pair
imaginable, and even if it were the smart thing to do, I cannot
conceive their separating, particularly if Radigan's winnings in such
an arrangement were to be Miss Bumpschus. The story was, of course,
promptly denied and put to sleep, but it serves to show the high place
my friends at present fill in the public eye. Radigan was brought to
this view and cooled down, but it required some diplomacy to soothe
the ruffled feelings of Miss Bumpschus. A check for $5,000 for her pet
charity, the Home for Aged Elevated Ticket-choppers, acted as a balm,
and to show that she bore no ill-will against her fellow-sufferers she
gave a dinner-dance in honor of Miss Veal.

And this was but one of about fifteen "things" given for the girl in
the past week. Mrs. Plumstone Smith, Miss Bobbie Williegilt, and Mrs.
Lenox Mint all gave her luncheons; Miss Wherry and J. Madison Mudison
gave her theatre-parties; the Dewberry Lambs a dance. Besides, she has
been kept jumping from house to house every afternoon to meet people
who have been asked to meet her. Then she has been asked to act as
bridesmaid at eleven weddings in the near future, and it will take no
small part of her income for the year, large though it is, to buy gowns
and hats for these joyous affairs, which will vary in shade from pink
to saffron. Poor Miss Veal! My heart goes out to her.

I was favored with an invitation to the dinner preceding the Bumpschus
dance, and had the honor of sitting between Miss Ethel and the Countess
Poglioso Spinnigini, an arrangement which I suspected was effected by
Bertie Bumpschus in revenge for my taking his place at the Radigan
table last week. I talked to the Countess in English, French, German,
and Italian till my head ached, then turned her over to the guileless
J. Madison Mudison at her other side. But Mudison is an old campaigner.
He did not try to entertain the fair Italian at all, but let her talk
to him, occasionally breaking into her flow of jargon with the French
expressions he had picked up at the bridge-table. How I admired him! He
is a man of tact.

Meantime I was in the hands of Miss Bumpschus discussing the needs of
the aged ticket-choppers, and covertly watching Miss Veal down the
table having an awfully good time. She was seated between old Mr.
Bumpschus and Dewberry Lamb, talking out to them a few thoughts that
I had talked into her the day before concerning the great novel of
the week. Mr. Bumpschus showed his deep interest by eying her over
the top of his upraised glass and exclaiming, "Ah! Indeed!" at proper
intervals, and when she had exhausted him she turned to Dewberry Lamb
and said, "I was just telling Mr. Bumpschus," etc. "How intensely
interesting!" exclaimed Mr. Lamb. "Indeed!"

Blessed is the tobacco habit at times like this! When the women had
gone, I had an opportunity to soothe my nerves with a strong cigar and
relieve the pressure of thought upon my brain by discussing stocks and
real-estate with Madison Mudison. He also talked entertainingly about
the invasion of upper Fifth Avenue by tradesmen. It was with regret
that I left him to get down to the business of dancing.

Dancing is the strangest of diversions. It is a curious relic of
barbarity. To glide over a glassy floor, a beautiful girl on your
arm, to the strains of some dreamy waltz, sweeping around and around,
free and fearless, that is one thing, but not the real. To go bumping
and thumping through a maze of a hundred hopping and skipping and
kicking men and women, to have your feet tramped on, to tangle them up
in meshy trains, to have elbows poked into your eye, to strain your
sight hunting for vacant places--is that pleasure? I waited in line a
half-hour for the opportunity to take Miss Veal twice around the room.
My collar was gone, my shirt front caved in, but waiting had given me
rest. When she came staggering up she was on the point of collapse, her
hair was awry, she was panting for air, and seemed to be wobbling on
her legs, but when I handed her a paper parasol she said "Whew!" long
drawn, and away we went. Miss Bumpschus stepped on my heel, Bobbie
Williegilt's toe caught in the lace trimming of Miss Veal's gown and we
had to stop in the most dangerous spot while I gathered up the trailing
yards of it, at the peril of being bowled over at any minute. Miss
Speechless rammed a paper parasol into my ear, and a near-sighted stag
rushing onto the floor for the hand of Miss Mint jumped heavily on my
partner's foot, crushing her diamond buckle. But we got twice around.
She said it was lovely.

"I am almost dead," she gasped. "I've been having such an awfully good
time."

With that she passed into the hands of the next man in that devoted row
awaiting her, and was whirled from sight in the dancing maelstrom.

Yet man prides himself on being a reasoning creature.



CHAPTER XII

_We Inspect the New House_


I went through the new Radigan house on Fifth Avenue the other day, and
I must say that not in years have I had so delightful an adventure as
that trip through my friends' fairy-palace. The phrase fairy-palace is
used not to imply beauty, but the marvel of its building, for it might
be said to have arisen in a night. But Coppe & Coppe are masterful
architects. They hold the time record for a twenty-seven-story office
building, and with artists like these, Radigan's money, and a cousin
who is a walking delegate, wonders can be accomplished. The mansion
to-day is practically finished, except for the lightning-rods on the
tower, which rises from the western front, an exact copy of those
truncated ones of Notre Dame.

We strolled up in the afternoon, the Radigans, Miss Veal, and myself,
and on the way picked up J. Madison Mudison, who was walking off a
little stag dinner of the night before, and seemed rather depressed.
As we passed Seventieth Street we got the first view of the new house
and crossed the street to get the best effects. Mrs. Radigan, with
much pride, pointed out the exterior beauties of the structure. With
the gardens, it occupies an entire block, save for a row of apartment
houses on the Madison Avenue end, and I must confess that the bare
backs of these plebeian structures, with their laundry work floating
in the breeze, do not make an agreeable setting; but Mrs. Radigan said
that that objection would soon be done away with, as the upward trend
of trade would eventually replace the flats with fine office buildings.
So we tried to rub them from our eyes and see only the splendid edifice
that was glistening in the afternoon sun.

Mrs. Radigan was beaming. As mistress of such a home she had a good
right.

"Mr. Coppe assures me that it is perfect," she said, when we had stood
for some minutes in mute admiration. "He declares that it is his firm's
she-dove."

"Mr. Coppe tells me," she went on, "that the front is just like
Ver-sales, the palace of the Lewises, Lewis cattorze, Lewis cans, and
Lewis seeze. The tower is like that of Notre Dayme exactly, only red
to match the front." Mrs. Radigan had assumed something of the air
of a sight-seeing automobile lecturer, and fearing that her strident
tones would collect a crowd I began to move ahead with Miss Veal. Then
I caught a few words more and loath to lose so lucid a treatise on
architecture, paused to catch this: "Mr. Coppe says a building must
always express something. You observe how he has carried out the idea.
Look along the north end of the second story and you will see a window
with six classic columns outside. That is John's study."

Meaning, of course, I pondered, that the Greeks always had columns
outside their study windows. The tower, then, was meant to indicate
that John was a vestryman in St. Edward's, and the French front below
that his wife was a leader of the fashion. I was curious to know what
the back of the house expressed and was graciously informed that Mr.
Coppe said that it was not a reproduction, but had been inspired by the
Villa Medici in Rome.

So we went on. A loud banging at a brass knocker, taken from one of
Washington's head-quarters, set electric bells going inside and brought
a workman, who summoned Mr. Coppe, he having been prepared for our
coming. Coppe is a charming fellow. He has danced his way to the very
front of his profession, and as a cotillon-leader and artist has no
rival in the city. Of late he has been giving his entire time to the
Radigans, and his commissions on the interior decorations alone would
allow him to retire for life. I could see that at a glance. In every
room there was a goodly company of workmen--working, for the walking
delegate was there looking after the interests of his relatives.

The entrance-floor did not interest me much. A few small reception
and dressing rooms were surrounded by servants' quarters and kitchens,
and Mrs. Radigan refused to look at the kitchen. Cooking odors, she
said, always nauseated her, a condition for which she had to thank
her surfeited maternal ancestors, I suspect. So we went up the wide
staircase, part of which was brought from an old French château. At the
first landing Mr. Coppe drew our attention to a niche in the wall.

"Here," he said, "we shall hang the famous Velasquez which I recently
discovered on the East Side and purchased for Mr. Radigan for
$40,000--a bargain."

This was the first Radigan had heard of his prize, and it pleased him
greatly.

"Is it an ancient or a modern?" he inquired gravely.

Hearing its age and that it was so old that the central figure hardly
showed at all, he expressed his delight. Radigan has been developing
wonderfully of late as a patron of the arts.

At the second landing we came to the well-known portrait of J. John
Radigan, Esq., in hunting costume, and at the head of the stairs, in
the foyer, the first thing to catch the eye was the picture of Mrs.
Radigan, which made such a furore at the recent Academy. It is by
the great Fatuous, who did the Kaiser, the Duke of Lummix, and Lady
Angelica Mumm, and so has had a great vogue here this winter. In
securing him to paint her into society last fall, Mrs. Radigan executed
a master-stroke. She sat day and night that it might be done in time
for the exhibition, but nothing ever daunts her. She declared that poor
Radigan was risking life and limb playing polo and hunting foxes for
her sake, and she just had to do something. Between sitting and polo I
should say that the latter was the easier, but surely she was repaid
for her suffering.

Fatuous is an artist, indeed! The woman of his canvas is lovely. She
is about six inches taller than Mrs. Radigan, and perhaps fifty pounds
lighter in weight. Leaning back gracefully in her chair, her eyes are
turned down, as she gazes tenderly and pensively at the child at her
side. Spirituelle she looks, high-born and high-strung as becomes the
daughter of a hundred Americans and the mistress of the largest house
that fronts the park.

"It's charming," said Mr. Mudison. "But who is the boy?"

"Jack," Mrs. Radigan answered.

"Jack?" exclaimed the clubman, puzzled.

"Not my husband--my son," she returned.

"Ah," cried Mr. Mudison. "I see, I see. The child I met at Westbury,
walking with a governess."

One of the greatest triumphs of this democratic country of ours is the
ease with which the plain Johns of one generation are succeeded by
Jacks. I have never seen this Radigan hopeful but once, and have hardly
heard mention of him much oftener, but our modern system of keeping the
children in storage until they are full-grown often leads us to the
erroneous idea that somebody's millions are just lying in wait for a
library to found.

"Mr. Fatuous said I must have a child to balance the composition,"
explained Mrs. Radigan. "So I had Jack brought up from Westbury, where
we had been keeping him for the winter. He just hated sitting and it
generally took me and the governess and a nurse to hold him. Sometimes
he kicked dreadfully, but Mr. Fatuous made him look like a perfect
dear. Thank goodness, though, that's over. I just couldn't stand the
kicks any longer, so we got a child from an asylum I am interested in.
He did splendidly."

I wondered why Mrs. Radigan troubled sitting herself, and was on the
point of making the suggestion when she went on:

"So here I am, sitting looking pensively at Jack, one of my hands
resting on the arm of the chair and the other holding Jack's, who is
looking up affectionately at me. A bit of light comes through the
window, shining on my face and on the diamond buckle on my slipper,
which rests on a silk cushion. I am awfully angular and lovely and
thin. Mr. Fatuous says he considers the woman in the picture one of the
handsomest he has ever done. It really looks something like me."

"A perfect likeness," cried Mr. Mudison.

Mrs. Radigan was splendid when she felt the slippery floors of her
real home beneath her feet. Her mien became majestic as we went from
room to room--first through the portrait-gallery, where already a few
of the gems Mr. Coppe had bought on commission were being hung; then
into the ballroom, all white and gold, and so artfully arranged with
mirrors as to make a small dance appear like a charity ball; on into
the conservatory, where the artificial palms were already in place, and
everything was being prepared for the rest of the plants. We retraced
our steps to the other side, where the suite begins with a small salon,
finished, as Mrs. Radigan explained, in light blue and gold, in the
style of "Lewis cans." Beyond this is a large drawing-room in dark
red, with several cosy-corners, making it the only homelike apartment
in the house. It opens into the dining-room, done in light oak and
very smart tapestries, showing a series of hunting scenes on Hempstead
Plain. After this, a good idea, all Radigan's own and very original,
is the little café, which opens off one corner and joins the smoking
and billiard-rooms. It gives him all the comforts of his club in his
own home, he says, for he can either sit down and punch a brass bell on
the Flemish oak table, or have his choice passed to him through a small
hole which communicates with the butler's pantry.

Altogether the house is very complete. An elevator took us to the next
floor. We saw Radigan's study, with a gymnasium adjoining it, and
stairs leading to a swimming-tank below; the sleeping apartments, all
exact copies of the royal suite in the Hotel St. Regis; the library,
where room is provided for 10,000 volumes, for which Mr. Coppe has
already placed a lump order.

Everybody was delighted. For myself, I have never seen a more perfect
house, one which so shows in every crack and cranny the wealth and
taste that have been lavished on it. Even J. Madison Mudison, who had
been wandering around rather dazed and mute, as we turned to leave,
said that it was "awfully jolly." It is. If Mr. Coppe had worked for
years instead of two weeks over his plans he could not have conceived a
dwelling that would better express its occupants.

Mrs. Radigan was more than satisfied. I thought she would embrace the
architect when we parted, so effusive was she. But instead she gave him
her royal command.

"You must positively be out of the house in three weeks," she said. "I
am going to give an Indian ball and want the rooms fixed up like woods
and wigwams and things. I simply must have the affair before Lent."



CHAPTER XIII

_We Go Skating at Exudo_


I am beginning to suspect that the unwarranted report that Mrs. Radigan
is to marry J. Madison Mudison and Radigan to marry Miss Bumpschus
may prove true, after all. At the time when it was printed there was
absolutely no ground for the story, but the publication seems to
have turned the thoughts of all concerned in a new direction and the
suggestion is pleasing. In their efforts to prove that such a report
is cruel Miss Bumpschus is having the Radigans to something two or
three times a week, and Mudison calls daily on Mrs. Radigan to express
his regret. Radigan is supporting the Home for Aged Ticket-choppers,
and has discovered many bonds of sympathy between Miss Ethel and
himself. For instance, she loves church-work and abominates polo and
bridge. J. John, in his efforts to further his wife's ambitions, has
been twice hit on the head by a mallet and has been rolled on by his
ponies a score of times. Poker and passing the plate at St. Edward's
are much more to his taste. His wife has sporting proclivities. She
likes to have a bishop to dinner. It delights her to see her husband
being beaten on the head by the mallets of the smartest men in town,
and to watch him in his automobile tearing off one hundred miles of
beach an hour. She was in ecstasy when the story got out that he had
lost $100,000 in one night's play at Potlots, and he had to spend a few
weeks at Newport to avoid the subpoena servers and reporters. As he
had really lost the money, Radigan did not appreciate the additional
prestige the incident had won for him. So you see there is a great
incompatibility in temperament. In Mudison, on the other hand, Mrs.
Radigan has found her ideal man. He belongs to seven clubs; his polo
handicap is nine; he is arrested monthly for overspeeding; he is
literary and talks delightfully on the works of Winston Churchill and
Anna K. Green; his family has been known in New York for nearly half a
century, its founder being Sheriff Mudison, who left a large fortune.
Of course there is the question of young Radigan, but he could easily
be given to a third party, so I am not altogether sure that the change
would not be a good one if Miss Bumpschus could be made to overcome her
old-fashioned prejudices.

There is at present, however, no sign of a movement toward South
Dakota; but I suppose if it comes to that, Mrs. Radigan would prefer to
go in Lent, so as not to miss any of the winter season, and then she
could be back for Newport in August. That would, of course, necessitate
her giving up her plans to spend May and June in London and capture
a duke for Miss Pearl Veal, but I fear she is occupying herself more
with her own heart now than with her sister's hand. But the clouds
are gathering for the storm--if storm it can be called. Then, are not
storms always followed by fair weather? We all went to Exudo skating
the other day--one of the clouds--as the guests of J. Madison, who
was endeavoring to show the world that there was nothing in the cruel
gossip. Besides the Radigans and Miss Bumpschus, Plumstone Smith and
his fiancée, Miss Veal, he kindly asked Miss Marian Speechless and
myself. By a special effort Mrs. Radigan got up very early and we were
able to catch the eleven-o'clock train, so we reached the club by one.
Who should we see there but Willie Lite, the Dewberry Lambs with the
Count and Countess Poglioso Spinnigini, the Harry Stumbles and a lot of
other nice people we know! I had a glimpse of the Van Rundouns, with
some queer-looking friends from Boston, but I had no chance to speak to
them. The Dewberry Lamb party joined us at luncheon and we had a very
jolly time at the big round table.

Madison Mudison knows how to order--a rare accomplishment. When we got
through I felt as if I never wanted to move again, but would rather
stretch my legs toward the blazing fire and smoke, smoke, smoke; but
when you accept an invitation your host becomes your keeper, so we were
all corralled and trotted away to the lake.

Miss Speechless had brought her sister's skates, so I had to freeze
my fingers adjusting the clamps to fit. Then, as I kneeled on the ice
before her in a devoted attitude, while I fixed them on her feet and
complained of their being too large, I froze my knees. By the time I
had prepared myself to go gliding over the ice, I was all a-shiver
and eager for a spurt that would start the blood going. But there,
waiting for me, was Miss Speechless, standing with her feet together,
balancing as though she were on a tight rope, pleading to me to hurry.
She was afraid to strike out, and when I reached her, was fluttering
helplessly in the wind. So there was nothing for me to do but to tow
her--a difficult and dangerous task, as I am not an adept at going
backward. It was work, more than I had counted on, and I was soon in a
condition bordering on exhaustion. At last I was allowed a moment's
rest, and as I stood there panting, Miss Speechless, fluttering in the
wind, told me how jolly it was; but I paid no attention to her, my eyes
being fixed on the others. At one end of the lake J. Madison Mudison
and Mrs. Radigan, hand in hand, were gliding gracefully around. It was
beautiful to see them. I am sure Mrs. Radigan learned the art on the
canal at home, though she says she spent her winters in Canada as a
child. And as for Mudison, I forgave him his legs--he should never wear
knickerbockers--when I saw the way he soared around on one skate. Out
would go the right feet, left feet waving gently in the air; a swerve,
and they were off in the other direction. They swept around in a
graceful curve and came rolling down toward us, as lightly and airily,
as unconscious of all but themselves, as though there were no laws of
gravitation. It was beautiful to see them!

But at the other end of the lake, what a picture! Radigan and Miss
Bumpschus, hand in hand, fluttering aimlessly about. They went in
little jiggety steps, and every now and then she would stop suddenly,
without warning, while he would go on to destruction. He was earnestly
good-natured about it, though, and would clamber up to his feet and
go on with her, undaunted. I worried about them once when I saw them
coasting toward a weak spot in the ice, but Radigan, with rare good
judgment and self-sacrifice, sat down and averted a disaster. And Miss
Bumpschus seemed to enjoy it all tremendously.

I could not stand forever in that freezing wind watching the progress
of these two romances. Miss Speechless on skates was on my hands, and
I had to resume my towing. A blessed moment came when Plumstone Smith
rolled up and addressed some graceful nothings to her, upon which she
seized his hands and asked him to take her around just once. That just
once was lengthened into numberless times, for I slipped noiselessly
away to the secluded spot where Miss Veal was airily cutting eights and
double eights and other figures. Together we sat on the bank, she in
the shelter of her automobile coat smoking a cigarette with me, while
we watched the others. Plumstone went by backward, puffing, dragging
Miss Speechless after him. A smile crossed my companion's face--you
should see Pearl Veal smile!--as she gazed at the spire of smoke that
went heavenward from her lips. She looked at me when they had gone by,
and somehow we laughed.

Mudison and Mrs. Radigan came rolling past us. They swept about and
glided back to the secluded corners of the lake. Radigan and Miss
Bumpschus came clattering up. They parted while they turned about, and
then half-trotted, half-skated toward their end of the ice.

"Isn't it a shame that Sally should be tied down to such a poor skater
as John," said Miss Veal.

But I was not thinking of John and Sally, I was covertly watching
Pearl Veal, her rounded cheeks richly colored by the wind, her soft
reddish hair fluttering over the top of the upturned collar of fur, her
glorious eyes on mine. I was wishing I were a duke or a member of the
Stock Exchange or a champagne agent, or something like that.



CHAPTER XIV

_Exit Plumstone Smith, Jr._


It has come at last, and much sooner than I had dared to expect. Of
course I am speaking of Miss Pearl Veal's engagement to Plumstone
Smith, Jr. Poor Plumstone! He is heart-broken. I saw him at the
Ping-pong Club the other afternoon, smoking a cigarette and gazing
abstractedly into the depths of a Scotch highball. He did not speak to
me, and even though he might not have intended to cut me dead, such
action would surely be in his right. And the cruel stories in _Town
Twaddle_ are at the bottom of it all. Last week that paper in its
leader, in a guarded statement giving no names, announced that the
engagement of a certain rich and beautiful girl, a new-comer from the
West in Society, to a well-known clubman and cotillon-leader, a son
of an old and impoverished family, had been broken. It said that the
young man's mother was in bed with nervous prostration, as she had had
her house elaborately decorated and had bought some stock on margins
on the strength of the improvement in the family prospects; that the
youth himself was spending his days in one of his clubs, pounding a
bell and crying, "The same!" But still more cruel, it laid the wreck
of this home to a young real-estate agent, name not given, who had
been insinuating himself into the graces of the innocent beauty. Now,
did you ever hear the beat of that? In a separate paragraph it most
politely intimated that Miss Pearl Veal's engagement to me would soon
be announced.

Where _Town Twaddle_ got the story is a mystery, for it is true to the
part where it accuses me of insinuating myself into the affections of
another man's fiancée. Though I have known Pearl Veal many months, I do
not think we had spoken a dozen words to each other up to the day when
we all went skating at Exudo. Then I must admit, as we sat on the bank
smoking cigarettes and watching Plumstone cavorting around the ice
with Marian Speechless, she revealed her heart to me. No one was more
astounded than I.

Love steals upon us strangely in these days. Time was when men won
women with the sword, when gallant deeds and pretty speeches, when
a noble bearing and a nimble wit were the snare we set for beauty.
How different now! Little did I dream as I sat at the Radigan table,
covertly admiring Miss Veal across the board, that I was awakening a
divine flame as I consumed terrapin and champagne; that I was fanning
that flame when I said "Ah!" and "You don't say!" when I discoursed
on the weather or the beauty of the opera. These were the snares I
set--these, with a few well-cut clothes, some immaculate shirt-fronts
and rather snappy ties. My conscience is clear. She would never have
been happy with Plumstone had she allowed the affair to proceed to a
church terminus, for it was evident that he was after her millions,
and her only reason for accepting him was to gain social position.
But this reason exists no longer. To-day the Radigans are smarter
than the Smiths. There are those who will bemoan the fact that such a
condition can exist in Society. Croakers all! Possibly they are the
sons of some war, who, boasting the deeds of ancestors, are doing
nothing themselves, and so are being pressed back by those who are
doing to-day what the others' forebears did yesterday. For myself, I
like new things; fresh people as well as fresh vegetables; new families
as well as new clothes. Old families new painted are pleasant to know,
but spare us the heirlooms. After all, the Plumstone Smiths are the
Radigans of yesterday.

So Pearl Veal is in a position to choose. She has chosen and I bow to
her will. There was a time when I suspected that she would take nothing
less than a duke and would have a wedding-riot, but she says that love
in a cottage is all she asks. So she has bought a forty-foot front lot
on Seventy-ninth Street, and Coppe & Coppe are making plans for it.
So far I have had nothing to say in the whole affair. I seem to have
done my part when I ate terrapin and drank my wine, and caught the
occasional lustrous glance of the blue eyes over the board; when I said
"Ah!" and "You don't say!" Then Pearl took a hand and now Mrs. Radigan
is running the whole affair.

Mrs. Radigan has been wonderful. Of course she never intended that
her sister should marry Plumstone Smith, but after him she looked to
a duke. That she consented to a real-estate agent I owe to J. Madison
Mudison. She loves Mudison devotedly, I know, and it has softened her
wonderfully. Her view of life has changed. She is less selfish. She
sighs more and says less, and when Pearl and I asked her blessing, she
just stirred her tea and said, "Oh, well, if you will."

Pearl and I were too surprised to speak for a moment.

Mrs. Radigan looked up from her tea and asked, "Who are your ushers to
be?"

I said I did not care, but that I would like to have Green, who had
lived in the same boarding-house with me in my lean years. At that
she put her cup down and said fiercely: "I think I will have Mr. Lite
act as best man. The ushers will be Harry Mint, Mr. Mudison, Bobbie
Williegilt, and Dewberry Duff. John will give an ushers' dinner for you
at the Ticktock Club."

"But--" I was about to protest, but even Cupid had not taken the fire
from those masterful eyes, and I collapsed.

"And your bridesmaids, Pearl?" said Mrs. Radigan, turning to my fiancée.

"I would like to have my old school-friend, Mignonette Klapper," said
Pearl, groping nervously for her cigarette-case.

"Nonsense," said Mrs. Radigan. "Clarissa Mudison will be maid of honor,
and the other bridesmaids will be Ethel Bumpschus, Marian Speechless,
Pinkey Mint, and Marguerite Lamb. You see I have been expecting this
and have made my plans."

"When is the wedding to be?" I asked feebly.

"In Lent," said Mrs. Radigan, untouched by the covert sarcasm.
"Some time after we move into the new house. I want to have the
wedding-breakfast there. The wedding will be in St. Edward's, and will
be performed by the rector. Of course I'll have some of our Long Island
clergy with the Bishop to do some blessing."

"Is there nothing that I can do?" said I.

"You can look after the police arrangements," said Mrs. Radigan. "It
will take about sixty men at the church and as many at the house. Be
sure and have some of the new mounted squad if possible."

"But Sally--" Pearl began to protest.

Her sister cut her short with a sigh.

"That will do for the present, dear," she said sweetly.

Then she gazed into the depths of her tea just as I had seen Plumstone
Smith do at the club. Poor Mrs. Radigan!



CHAPTER XV

_My Dinner to Miss Pearl Veal_


I gave a delightful little dinner in my rooms the other evening in
honor of my fiancée, Miss Pearl Veal. Of course there were some
hitches, but they were such as are likely to occur in any similar
affair in a bachelor room-hold, so altogether it was a success. The
company was limited by the size of my study, but I managed to get
together a thoroughly interesting and congenial crowd of people.
Radigan could not come, as there was an important meeting of the
vestry of St. Edward's to devise ways and means of redecorating the
rectory, but J. Madison Mudison took his place at the last minute,
after telephoning to Miss Bumpschus that he had been called suddenly
out of town and could not go to the opera with them. Mrs. Radigan
chaperoned, and, besides Miss Veal, the Countess Poglioso Spinnigini
and Mrs. Bobbie Q. Williegilt were there, and with Bobbie Q., Arthur
Slaughterblock-Jones, and myself we just had elbow-room at the table.

Slaughterblock-Jones was the only new-comer and doubtful quantity.
He is from Chicago, but having made a fortune in the formation and
collapse of the United States Stove-lifter Company, he has hyphenated
his name, moved to New York, and is living at the Ping-pong Club. I
must say his acquaintance has hitherto been limited to rather queer
people, but as he has given me some useful tips in the market, I
thought I would show my appreciation by letting him have an opportunity
to meet a few of the smart set. He really did fairly well, and his
stories, fresh from the woolly West, were an agreeable change from the
worn jokes of Mr. Mudison. Mrs. Radigan has taken him up, and has sent
him an invitation to the Indian ball, with which the new house is to
be opened. But, of course, he had to make some bad breaks. When he had
sent us all off into convulsions over his anecdote about the Irishman
and the life-insurance agent, he had to be reminded of another which
he had heard at the Van Rundouns. Of all the people in the world to
mention! Turning to Mrs. Williegilt he asked her if, by the way, she
knew the Van Rundouns, and she replied that she believed they at one
time had a place next hers in Westchester, but she did not know them.
She said it very quietly, but so firmly that he should have understood.
He did not. He had to go blundering on, talking familiarly--I might
almost say boastingly--of those queer friends of his. He did not seem
to realize that these were the swells of yesterday; that they no longer
stirred the social sea. For a moment I was in a panic lest he ask Mrs.
Radigan if she knew the Van Rundouns, and I had to break in and ask Mr.
Mudison to propound the riddle he had given me the day before when we
happened to meet on the avenue.

But I am getting into the middle of the dinner before even the soup.
To begin with, my rooms looked charmingly cosey. I had taken down the
overflow of real-estate maps from my office and the pictures I got in
Paris and put in their places some sporting prints and a dozen or so
photographs of Pearl Veal. Stalk looked after everything. He is my new
man, for it seemed to me that I was justified in having him when I
was soon to marry four millions, and he looked so extremely well that
Mrs. Radigan, thinking he was a man she had met somewhere, bowed most
familiarly to him when she came in. The Countess thought he was Mr.
Williegilt, and to avoid further trouble I had to whisper to him to
stand in the hall till everybody arrived.

The worst hitch of the evening was the ruin of the bottle of cocktails
I had had mixed by William at the Ticktock Club. He makes the only
cocktail in New York that is fit to drink. And after I had explained
to everybody how good it was, Stalk went to the patent ammonia
refrigerator in the bathroom, to find that the temperature there had
suddenly dropped about 100 below zero, and the precious beverage was
frozen solid. As it would have taken an hour to thaw that amber ice, we
had to send downstairs for aid. Such cocktails as they sent up! There
was entirely too much bitters in them, and Mrs. Williegilt got a bad
olive in hers. As it went down she looked as if she were my enemy for
life. I don't know what the other stuff in them was, but the effect was
immediate. All the steam in the building seemed to be pouring into the
radiator and to defy all efforts to keep it out. We had to open the
windows wide to reduce our temperature, and the contest between Mrs.
Williegilt and the olive waxed fierce for a time, but we hurried the
champagne and she won.

Gray care was soon cast aside. The dinner was excellent in spite of the
distance to the apartment-house kitchen. Madison Mudison was inclined
to think that the champagne, though fair, was a trifle too sweet, but
he always makes it a point to find some slight fault with the wine,
and I did not mind it. Pearl smiled delightfully from soup to coffee.
Mudison and Slaughterblock-Jones vied with each other in telling
stories. Even Mrs. Radigan asked what was the difference between a
cab horse and a bunch of roses, but when we all gave it up she had
forgotten. Bobbie Williegilt made two rolls into dough balls, and I
interpreted to the Countess all that was said, resorting to French,
German, and gestures as a mode of communication.

It was about coffee that a lull in the conversation gave me an
opportunity to say that I had gathered my few nearest friends together
in my bachelor quarters; it would be my last dinner of the kind in my
rooms, as I was about to give up the delightful freedom of bachelorhood
for the still more delightful captivity of a home with a wife for a
jailer. Miss Veal and I--I got no further than that, there was such an
outburst of congratulations. Everybody pretended to be so surprised,
though, of course, they had read all about it in _Town Twaddle_.

The Countess made a little trouble in the lull that followed the
applause, for, not being able to understand me very well, she
conceived the idea that the demonstration had something to do with
Pearl's former engagement to Plumstone Smith, and, smiling at my
fiancée, she raised her glass and proposed, "Monsieur Smees." They had
a terrible time explaining it all to her, and Pearl and I had to look
as if we were not in the room, though we could have heard Mrs. Radigan
a block away as she made her French plain by shouting.

Madison Mudison was charming. He saved the day. He choked the Countess
off, and, pushing his chair back from the table and eying his glass
meditatively, he made a delightful little informal speech, forgetting
entirely that but a few weeks before at the Radigan dinner he had
welcomed Pearl Veal into the family of Smith. As Mrs. Radigan's
sister, he said, he regarded Miss Veal as near and dear to him. Were
he a younger man, a richer man, a handsomer and a wiser man, he might
perhaps be here in a different rôle--with apologies to his host--he
might aspire to a relationship still nearer and dearer. Too late in
life he had come to realize that love in a cottage was better than
bachelorhood in a dozen clubs. His part was to bless the mating of
others. He wanted now, speaking for his dear friends, to welcome into
the house of Radigan his young host. Money was not all of life; family
was not all; brains were not all. He gloried in his young host, who,
having none of these things, had come to New York, had made an honored
name for himself in the real-estate world, had won the beautiful
daughter of one of the city's best families. Miss Veal was lucky to win
such a man. His young host was lucky to win such a girl. The Radigans
were lucky. We all were lucky.

I was just remarking that I believed I was the luckiest man in all the
world when the telephone-bell interrupted, and Mrs. Bobbie Williegilt,
being nearest it, playfully took up the receiver. She dropped it in a
jiffy and sternly called to me.

"I was sayin'," came a voice from the office, "that our rules requires
that all ladies leaves the buildin' at eleven o'clock."

"But--" I began to protest.

"We can't make no exceptions," said the idiot in the office.

"See here," I began, getting desperate, for I heard Mrs. Williegilt
calling for her wraps.

"We can't run no risks," said the big, loud voice below. "It's past the
hour now."

Stalk went down with a five-dollar bill and got an hour's grace, but
fifteen minutes was all that was really needed, for by that time Mrs.
Williegilt had led my guests on the retreat.



CHAPTER XVI

_Mrs. Radigan's Costume-ball_


I have just been going over the newspaper accounts of the Radigans'
costume-ball, and I must say that the columns and columns devoted to
it, speak well for my friends' standing in Society. It is generally
conceded that New York has never before seen such a lavish affair, and
the estimates of its cost go from $50,000 up. Yet these do not consider
the new house, which was built primarily as a place of entertainment,
not as a home; so part of the million spent there should be charged
against the dance. The whole affair was colossal. But the Radigans are
paying the bills without a word, for they are more than satisfied with
the advertising they have received. Their position is now absolutely
established, and nothing can shake them out of smart society but the
loss of their money.

The new house was a dream. Young Mr. Coppe, of Coppe & Coppe, the
architects, had arranged all the decorations, and he showed rare taste
and ingenuity, for to contrive the surroundings for an Indian dance was
no simple matter. But he worked it out cleverly. Entering the great
hall, the guests left civilization behind them and stood in a giant
wigwam. It was a little out of shape, because of the proportions of
the room, but the illusion was well maintained by the arrangement of
poles and hides, with decorations of bows, arrows, and imitation scalps
hanging everywhere. Of course it was necessary to leave this for a
moment and plunge into the civilization of the dressing-rooms, where a
score of servants costumed like trappers were in attendance. But when
your costume was arranged you plunged into the wild again, passing
through the wigwam, up the broad stairway, past the famous Velasquez
and the Fatuous portrait of Mrs. Radigan and her child, pausing in the
foyer, a charming forest with a pool full of goldfish in the centre,
on into the wigwam, once the portrait-gallery, where Mrs. Radigan
received her guests.

Mrs. Radigan was superb. Mrs. Radigan was unique. Mrs. Radigan was
lovely. She was Pocahontas, and that there should be not the slightest
color of scandal she made Radigan appear as Captain John Smith, so
when he wandered up, dragging his long rifle, she could with propriety
acknowledge him as her husband. I do not know what the real Pocahontas
looked like, but if she was anything like Mrs. Radigan she must have
been capable of any heroism. Mrs. Radigan is massive. Her hair, black,
flowing down over her shoulders, interworked with flowers and feathers,
gave her in the higher altitudes the appearance of Hamlet's unhappy
love. Her gown might be described as that of a _nouveau-riche_ Indian
maiden, for the famous Radigan pearls put the bead-work to sleep,
speaking figuratively; and the rather short skirt gave a glimpse of
open-work silks that might have been a gift from her Majesty of England.

Mrs. Radigan was charming. There was a smile and a hearty,
whole-souled hand-shake for all, and as they came trooping past her in
their Indian garb she had a word of admiration for every one of them.
Pearl Veal as Minnehaha, and myself as Hiawatha, each got a resounding
kiss, which in my case disarranged my deep bronze complexion. And as
for J. Madison Mudison! Pearl and I were at Mrs. Radigan's side when
he arrived, and we noted that she held his hand very long and seemed
to say nothing. But he might well have set anybody speechless. We
should never have known him had not the giant trapper at the door, the
pride of the servants' hall, announced "Mr. Madison Mudison, the great
medicine-man." He was simply hideous. His face was painted all the
colors of the rainbow, and from his neck down he was festooned with
stuffed snakes and carried a vicious-looking war-club. When he had made
his obeisance he stared open-mouthed at the marvellous alteration of
the gallery, all hung as it was with hides and scalps, weapons, and
trophies of the chase. "Jolly," was his comment--"awfully jolly!"
Then, shouldering his weapon, he gathered in Miss Veal and went on into
the ballroom.

To go into the ballroom was like stepping into some primeval forest, so
artfully had Mr. Coppe carried out his scheme. You seemed in an open
place among the trees, a glade, with a green waxed floor underfoot,
a starry sky--twinkling stars--overhead and about you the receding
woods, whose unreality you only realized when you bumped into the wall.
To carry out the illusion, the whistler of a downtown music-hall was
hidden in the ceiling, and made a noise like a bird. There was a little
stage at one end, and half of the Skimphony Orchestra was concealed in
the conservatory, playing divine music.

A remarkable scene! The place was packed with Indians, all laughing
and chatting till the noise they made sounded like a knitting-mill,
and among them, his long rifle over his shoulders, moved Captain John
Smith, nobly playing his part as host to the distinguished company.
Miss Bumpschus was there and she almost fainted when I sailed up with
J. Madison Mudison, who made a threatening demonstration with his awful
spiked club. I must confess I think Miss Bumpschus as an Indian looked
better than usual, though her spectacles might have been dispensed
with. Still, I suppose she wanted to see what was going on. Mrs.
Bobbie Williegilt, on the other hand, was perfect, even to the papoose
which she carried on her back. This infant caused some excitement
by falling off on the floor later in a dance, for she had failed to
explain to some of the dowagers that it was only imitation. Marian
Speechless as an Apache maiden, Dewberry Lamb as Red Cloud, and Arthur
Slaughterblock-Jones as a youth, were especially excellent in their
make-up. By eleven o'clock you might have fancied yourself back in the
seventeenth century, sporting in the Virginia forests with Pocahontas
and her people.

A company of trappers marched in, and with ropes of roses marked off
a ring in the centre of the great room, so that clustered about
it the smart tribes were regaled by a war-dance, in which seven of
the cleverest men in town took part under the leadership of Madison
Mudison. It was very well done, except that young Stuyvesant Mint's
head hit one of the spikes of Mudison's club and he had to retire. They
were followed by a company of débutantes and young men, including Miss
Veal and myself, who did a minuet, which everybody said was charming,
as the Indian costumes made it different from anything of the kind they
had ever seen.

A fanfare of trumpets announced the arrival of Miss Maggie McBride,
the prima donna of the Hodge-Podge Company, who at present, you know,
is the wife of young Bullion, or am I thinking of old Emerson Dotty?
The company immediately divided, forming a lane. Radigan advanced
to the sedan chair in which four trappers had carried the actress,
and helping her to alight, he gracefully led her to the stage. She,
too, was in Indian costume, and about her neck wore the famous Dotty
diamond collar, for the possession of which the aged Emerson's former
wife is now suing. Her performance was inimitable. She sang the same
songs and danced the same dances that we can see any night for $2, but
some of the Indians did not realize what it cost to have her perform
in a private house, and became bored and began to move toward the odor
of cooking. This necessitated cutting her programme short, and rather
hurrying the feast.

There was a general sigh of relief on the part of the bored Indians
when Radigan led the way to the feast with Miss McBride on his arm,
looking very lovely. Of course it was necessary at this juncture to
part from Indian customs, so supper was served at small tables in the
great suite of rooms which begins at the salon and ends in Radigan's
little café, all arranged like wigwams. The waiters, attired as
trappers, were very picturesque; indeed, the supper was most excellent
and the fire-water of many kinds and unlimited in quantity. The heat
of the rooms made the paint run somewhat, and consequently there was
a considerable exit of the more elderly Indians after the last course.
The younger element stayed to dance, until almost daybreak. Many before
going home went to the billiard-room, where Radigan had thoughtfully
established a number of professional photographers, who took pictures
of the guests at his expense, for the Radigans have a way of leaving
nothing undone that will add to the pleasure of their guests. They
spare no expense. That is the way they have been able to become so
extremely smart, and that they are smart none can doubt who reads the
list of their guests. Take, for example:

    Mrs. Plumstone,

    Count and Countess Poglioso
    Spinnigini,

    Mrs. Bobbie Q. Williegilt,

    Miss Speechless,

    Miss Constance Wherry,

    Mr. and Mrs. Dewberry
    Lamb,

    Mr. and Mrs. John Twitter,

    Mrs. Very,

    Mrs. Garish,

    Miss Bumpschus,

    Mr. Williegilt,

    Mr. Stuyvesant Mint,

    Joshua Jumpkin, 7th,

    J. Madison Mudison,

    Williegilt Bumpschus,

    Mrs. Edgerton Twaddell,

    The Misses Twaddell,

    Mr. E. Williegilt,

    Mr. and Mrs. Timpleton
    Duff,

    Mrs. Hegerton Humming,

    Miss Humming,

    Mr. E. Humming,

    Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Tattler,

    Miss Bilberry,

    Miss Clarissa Mudison,

    Miss Tumbleton,

    Mr. Cecil Hash,

    Prince Cosmospopolis,

    Miss Mint,

    Mr. Willie Lite,

    Mr. Garish,

    Mr. Horatio Gastly.



CHAPTER XVII

_The Duke of Nocastle Arrives_


His Grace the Duke of Nocastle is in town, and the way the wheels are
buzzing within wheels keeps me in one long headache. I must confess I
am worried. As I was sitting in the Ping-Pong Club the other afternoon,
gazing into the depths of a Scotch, Plumstone Smith, Jr., addressed me
in an airy way.

"I see that the Duke has arrived," said he smiling.

I have no recollection of what I said to him, but I hope he does not
report it to the governors, for I suspect that it was not the kind of
language one gentleman should use to another in the club. He seems
content, however, to smile at me and cut me dead. But I do not care
for him, for he is nothing but one of these dingy heirlooms that is
handed down in Society from generation to generation. Of course I think
all will come out well in the end, but still I shall not be sure till
Pearl Veal and I have walked down from the altar together and the mob
at the church-door is actually pulling her dress to pieces. Naturally,
the matter lies entirely with his Grace, but I find strength in the
fact that Ethel Bumpschus has ten millions, while Pearl can boast
but four. But Miss Bumpschus is so plain! Of course, once she became
a duchess we should all rave over her beauty, but while she is an
American "Miss," there are some doubts on that point. It is unfortunate
that the Duke should be visiting the Bumpschuses, for distance lends
enchantment, and Pearl Veal, with $4,000,000 six blocks away, must be
fascinating to a man who dines daily with Miss Bumpschus and her ten.

Nocastle is a relative of Nothingham, who a few years ago married a
Bumpschus. His arrival in this country was announced by the papers with
a great flourish of trumpets, and the social historians even went so
far as to say that he was to marry Miss Ethel, that the match was one
of love, pure and simple, that he had met her at Nice while he was
staying there incog., and had lost his heart on sight to the sweet and
simple little New Yorker. They did meet at Nice last winter; but he
hurried back to England and stuck to his pride and his leaky castles
till a few heavy rains had mildewed his wardrobe. Thereupon he set sail
for this country to get the means to mend his roofs. To mend the roofs
of a half-dozen English castles requires the fortune of a Radigan.

When a picture of the Duke in his Guard's uniform burst upon my eye as
I opened my paper at breakfast on the morning of his arrival, I was
panic-stricken. He was magnificent, seemed to stand about six feet six,
and wore as many decorations as one of our own Sons of the Revolution.
When I read of his achievements I was in despair. A man of action,
he. He had served in the Soudan with the Red Cross Society; had been
decorated by her Majesty for his services in the commissary department
in South Africa; had written a pamphlet on the ginger-beer evil, and
had made several speeches on that subject in the House of Lords. What
chance would a plain American real-estate agent have against a man like
this?

That afternoon I dropped in at the Bumpschuses to see him, and seeing
him, hope rose again. His Grace is possibly five feet four, partially
bald, very pale, and wears a tiny, fuzzy mustache turned upside down.
His collar was much too big for him, and seemed designed to allow him
to draw his head in like a turtle. As for his clothes, they were cut
in the English fashion, to fit a fire-plug or an upright piano. I must
say that he was very affable, and declared that everything he had seen
was "jolly little," or "jolly big," or "jolly good." For a while he
looked so small and harmless and behaved so decently all around that
I quite lost my heart to him and promised to show him the sights of
the town, the Flatiron Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Clark
mansion. Then Miss Speechless pulled me over to one corner and told me
not to be so familiar with him, as he was one of the greatest men in
England. And when she got through reciting his name I was so overcome I
hardly dared speak in his presence. Fancy my clapping on the shoulder
Charles John Peter Michael Henry Edwin Reginald Clarence Angus Joseph
Fitznit, Duke of Nocastle, Marquis of Bumpshire, Earl of Duckham, Baron
Llfygntynllan, Baron McGonigle in Ireland, Knight of the Garter, the
Bath, the Fleece. When I raised my eyes again to his Grace I saw him
as in the photograph, six feet six in the uniform of the Guards; I saw
Mrs. Radigan, just in, holding his hand and calling him "Duke"; I saw
Pearl Veal in an attitude of rapt admiration and I shuddered.

It was evident that Mrs. Radigan did not know his entire name, for
she talked to him so familiarly, tapping him with her fan, calling
him "Your Royal Highness," "Your Grace," "My Lord," and "Duke" with
equal facility. Miss Bumpschus was furious. She tried in vain to get
her guest out of the masterful woman's hands, but was outgeneralled.
You simply cannot awe Mrs. Radigan. She showed the Duke that she was
on easy terms with nobility by asking him if he knew the Count and
Countess Poglioso Spinnigini and her dear friend, Prince Cosmospopolis
of Greece. When he replied that he had not that pleasure, she got up a
dinner on the spot for Thursday evening. Miss Bumpschus kept breaking
in all the time, but accomplished nothing. Mrs. Radigan told the Duke
plainly that she would not let Ethel monopolize him. She wanted him to
know her little sister, Pearl Veal, who had long been reading about
him and was devoted to Red Cross work and the ginger-beer problem.
Pearl was looking very lovely indeed, as she stood silently smiling at
her sister's side, and his Grace promised to come to lunch the very
next day. By this time I joined my cause with Miss Bumpschus and we
surrounded them and forced the Dewberry Lambs between Mrs. Radigan and
the prize. She took it good-naturedly and sipped tea with Willie Lite.
While Mrs. Dewberry Lamb was telling Nocastle how her automobile had
broken down on the way, he cross-examined me as to my friends.

"Who," he asked, "is the jolly girl with the eyes, that that jolly Mrs.
Bannigan introduced to me--Cutter--Cuttle--Cutlet?"

"Ve-al," said I, emphasizing the French pronunciation indignantly.

"Veal," said he. "A jolly name. I knew it had something to do with
dinner."

"Miss Veal is my fiancée," said I sternly.

"Lucky fel-lah," said he; "jolly lucky. I lunch there to-morrow."

Lucky! At that moment I was the most unhappy man in all the world. I
saw myself at the mercy of this great Englishman; I saw myself going
the way of Plumstone Smith; I saw slipping from my grasp, not four
millions, but Pearl. Strange as it may seem, I have never given a
thought for her money. I know no one will believe it, but nevertheless
it is true. To sit quietly with her is happiness. She is altogether
lovely in her eyes, in her color, in the roundness of her face, and
the fulness of her form. Mere talk is the complement that makes
plainness attractive. Pearl Veal seldom talks. She smiles. She smokes.
And when the gray clouds float around her she is like a charming
sunset. People say she is brainless. When I want learning I can find it
in books; when I want wit, I can read my Richardson and Lamb. I am not
blind. Beauty feasts my eye. To delight me it only has to smile. Pearl
and I are boon companions. She says she finds real contentment in my
company; I do not bore her with chatter about stocks and real estate,
about novels and plays, about tennis and bridge; I just smoke and
smile; my clothes fit so very well and my taste in ties appeals to her.
Then, when the air is clear and crisp, when the sunlight kaleidoscopes
the avenue and its many-colored fronts, when all the town seems to be
afoot or awheel, we find it rare sport to escape Mrs. Radigan and go
tearing along together, speaking to those we ought not to speak to, and
leaving unspoken to those to whom we should speak, to hail Mignonette
Klapper and Estelle Beerberger, Green, and the fellows of my old
boarding-house. Sometimes, in more serious mood, we turn into Madison,
the avenue of sentiment, the thoroughfare along which the young and
thoughtless wander into matrimony. Sometimes Pearl becomes cynical.
Sometimes she rails. She wonders whether it really pays to be so smart
as we have become under Mrs. Radigan's generalship. Then it is that I
know that she has brains.

Are these days over? I am looking to the future with dread. Few women,
however noble, can refuse a Duke. When the opportunity comes they deem
it a sacred duty to mend the roofs of historic castles. I feel that my
fate lies entirely with his Grace. Will he take Miss Bumpschus and her
ten millions, or Pearl Veal with her four? I await his decision. He had
luncheon with the Radigans yesterday. To-morrow he dines there with
Prince Cosmospopolis, the Poglioso Spinniginis, and other local nobles.
A few days will decide all.



CHAPTER XVIII

_A Problem for the Duke_


Poor Nocastle! His Grace seems to have a problem to solve that
is beyond his intellectuality. Here stands Ethel Bumpschus, with
spectacles and ten millions; there Pearl Veal, beautiful, with but
four. Which will he choose? And surely he has only to choose, for he
is a peer of England. He is only five feet four, partially bald, pale,
fuzzy mustache upside down, but then, besides, he is Charles John Peter
Michael Henry Edwin Reginald Clarence Angus Joseph Fitznit, Duke of
Nocastle, Marquis of Bumpshire, Earl of Duckham, Baron Llfygntynllan,
Baron McGonigle in Ireland, etc. He has been here nearly two weeks now,
turning the Bumpschus house upside down, and yet his engagement to its
heiress has not been announced. _Town Twaddle_ cruelly reported that
there had been a hitch over the settlements, that his solicitor had
been cabled for, and that pending the arrival of Sir Charles Wigge no
announcements would be made. But I know better. The hitch came that
afternoon at the Bumpschuses when the noble eyes lighted on Pearl Veal,
as she stood beside Mrs. Radigan, smiling. Since then his Grace has
haunted the Radigan house, and when he is not loafing in the shadow of
its mistress, he is sitting on a bench in the Park Mall, seeking an
inspiration in the bust of Robert Burns. Time is flying. He will have
to decide soon, for he has bought a brace of bull pups and the fancier
is standing all day in the Bumpschus hall, respectfully waiting for his
money.

My position is a hard one. Were Pearl the only one to be coped with,
there would be no doubt of the future, but with a social Oyama like
Mrs. Radigan opposing you, there can be little hope. Mrs. Radigan is
very frank. She got me in a corner the other day and proceeded to
explain to me why the engagement should be broken at once. Pearl's
happiness for life was at stake, she said, and surely I would sacrifice
myself for her. But is it happiness? said I. She told me that I was
a child. Pearl would be a duchess, the mistress of four castles; she
would take precedence over Clarissa Bumpschus, who had married the
Duke of Nothingham, and over Evangeline Very, who was to wed the Earl
of Less; she could snub Ethel Bumpschus, who had always been a snob,
anyway; and the Japanese war would be forgotten while the wedding
was under way. Was this not happiness for any girl? As for me, she
promised me that I should be best man, and surely it would give me more
distinction to be best man for a duke than to be the groom myself.

I admitted that the prospect was dazzling all around, but asked
about the Duke's debts, which I had heard ran up close to a million,
not counting the bull pups, and would eat a large hole in Pearl's
pocket-book. Mrs. Radigan laughed. Trust her for that, she said. The
Bumpschuses had settled Nothingham's debts for ten cents on the
dollar, and she was sure that $500,000 would mend Nocastle's roofs and
satisfy his creditors. She appealed to my sense of honor. Was it right
for me to expect Pearl to marry a plain American real-estate agent when
she could have at her call one of the greatest men in England? It was
selfish of me, I admitted. Then, weary of it all, in rather hopeless
fashion, I said that we had best leave it all to Pearl.

Mrs. Radigan was triumphant. She seemed to think the last obstacle to
a noble brother-in-law removed. She said that I was a dear, unselfish
boy, and all that. She could now go on with her plans, and would have
the wedding right after Lent at St. Edward's. Just then Pearl came in,
all aglow from a forty-mile spin in her car with Marian Speechless, and
when she had emerged from her furs she sank into a chair and called for
tea and cigarettes.

I gave her a light, and when she was smoking contentedly, Mrs. Radigan
said: "It's all settled." Then she explained that I was willing to
retire in favor of his Grace.

Pearl just smiled and smoked--that inscrutable smile of hers.

"Well?" said Mrs. Radigan sharply.

"Well?" said Pearl, blowing rings.

"The engagement's off," said Mrs. Radigan.

"Which one?" said Pearl smiling.

"The present one," said Mrs. Radigan sharply.

"Why?" said Pearl.

"Because I think you should marry the Duke," said Mrs. Radigan.

"Indeed?" said Pearl.

"You would be happier with a duke," said Mrs. Radigan firmly.

"You think so?" said Pearl.

"There is no woman living that would not jump at a duke," said Mrs.
Radigan. "You will be the envy of every girl in town."

Pearl smiled and smoked--smoked inscrutably.

"Well?" said Mrs. Radigan.

"We will walk down Madison Avenue," said Pearl, rising, and turning her
lustrous eyes to me.

Her conduct has puzzled me greatly. It seemed like prolonging the
torture before the end. For when it comes to a choice between a duke
and a real-estate agent, there can be but one answer. It only remains
for his Grace to make up that feeble mind of his, and my day-dream will
be over. Now I am enjoying it as best I can.

As we strolled down Madison that afternoon, it seemed to me that
it would likely be our last appearance together on the avenue of
sentiment. We were silent. My mood was too despairing for silly
prattle, and Pearl seldom speaks, and then in hardly more than
monosyllables. Once I thought I would end it all there, and so let my
tongue run away with me for a moment. I think I referred to the duke in
ungentlemanly language. Her answer was a smile more inscrutable than
ever.

That night the Duke dined with us to meet the local nobility. Of
course it was informal, being Lent, and Mrs. Radigan being religious,
so the dinner was set for 7.30 in accordance with the church ritual,
but no one appeared until after 8. Of course his Grace took Mrs.
Radigan in, and with her usual tact she had fixed Ethel Bumpschus at
his right, with Pearl across the table, so the contrasts were very
sharp. Artfully, too, she had exiled me to the other end, between
the Countess Poglioso Spinnigini and Mrs. Bobbie Q. Williegilt. Mrs.
Radigan was in high feather, with a noble to the right of her, a noble
to the left of her, and champagne in front of her. Prince Cosmospopolis
of Greece is a very delightful man, and as he has been in this country
a long while as agent of a Sicilian olive house, he speaks English
very well, and so kept the attention of Pearl Veal through the whole
dinner, as Count Poglioso Spinnigini on her other hand early gave up
trying to make himself understood and found consolation in his plate
and glasses. Clever Mrs. Radigan! The Duke was evidently much worried
by the princely olive agent's attentions to his hostess's beautiful
sister. Occasionally he would turn his eyes from her to venture that
something was "jolly," but for the most part he was silently gazing
over the board. Once he got his courage up and tried to break up Prince
Cosmospopolis's tête-à-tête by giving a loud "haw," and then: "I say,
Miss Cutlet."

Naturally, there was a hush. Then everyone began talking as loud as
possible, and the desperate Duke absently drained Mrs. Radigan's
champagne glass to the bottom. Pearl looked my way, and I saw the
corner of her mouth twitch.

Miss Bumpschus was triumphant. I could see that in her well-bred laugh.
Poor young woman! She did not realize for what purpose Mrs. Radigan
had been engaging her across the Duke in a long dissertation on the
needs of the aged ticket-choppers. She did not know that in me a new
champion had arisen in her cause. The idea of joining forces with her
came to me by a sudden thought, and quick as the women had gone, and
we were in the smoking-room, I got his Grace off in one corner. We are
very good friends, for I have put him up at one or two clubs, besides
showing him the sights of the town. Glorious were the colors in which I
painted the plain Ethel. She had ten millions now in her own name, and
when old Bumpschus died there was another ten coming. Better still, old
Bumpschus had heart disease, and I had information that he was likely
to drop off at any time. The Duke smoked up a cigarette in a minute
and a half, and his lips moved as though he were working a problem in
mental arithmetic. Then I intimated that Miss Veal's money was rather
precariously invested, that with the present Stock Exchange quotations
her fortune varied daily from one to two millions. His Grace seemed
much affected.

"She's a jolly girl--a jolly, lovely girl," he said, as we were
returning to the drawing-room.

"Miss Veal?" said I nonchalantly.

"She's jolly, too," he said.

But when he sat down on the sofa beside Miss Bumpschus and began to
count the lights in the chandelier, I knew of whom he was thinking.
A moment there only, and his gaze fell on Pearl, looking up into the
face of the gallant Cosmospopolis. She glanced his way and smiled
lustrously. Ethel Bumpschus was forgotten, deserted. His Grace shot
across the room and secured the prized vacant place before the Prince
was aware of the danger.

"Jolly evening," cried the Duke; "awfully jolly!"

"It is delightful that your Royal Highness cares for our simple
American ways," said Mrs. Radigan beaming, as she sat shuffling the
cards for a table of bridge.



CHAPTER XIX

_His Grace Still Hesitates_


I do not believe that Mrs. Radigan will marry again. Time was very
recently when she had a fond eye on J. Madison Mudison, for he was
undoubtedly the smartest bachelor in town, while she had risen no
higher than to stand in the line of patronesses at subscription dances.
Now with the new house, the costume-ball, and the completion of a
traffic agreement between the Radigan and the Williegilt railroads, she
has set herself on such a dizzy height that a match with Mr. Mudison
would be a tumble, for Radigan to-day belongs to just as many clubs,
and, besides, has millions that keep adding unto themselves. She just
sighs when Mudison is mentioned, and perhaps she will blush a little
and say there was really never anything in the reports that were
abroad. So we regard the affair as history, and Mrs. Radigan never
troubles about the past. Her concern is with the future, and to-day
the future lies over the sea, among the beer-pots of England, among
the leaky palaces of the great Duke of Nocastle, and in the court of
his Majesty the King. I grow sad when she reveals her ambition, for to
me it means the loss of Pearl Veal; for though at times there comes to
me through the cloud of cigarette smoke that hovers around that lovely
girl, comes with her smile and her monosyllabic utterances a gleam of
hope, it seems really madness to think that when the crucial question
is popped by his Grace's solicitor she will refuse. Mrs. Radigan says
that her sister is not mad. Mrs. Radigan interprets the inscrutable
smile as favorable. Mrs. Radigan goes on laying her plans for a great
wedding, and has already hired a press agent.

"We can let him have an office in the little reception-room
downstairs," she said to me over her teacup the other day. "He can
have his type-writers and telephone there, and I am sure that the noise
will not disturb us away off here."

"But my dear Mrs. Radigan," said I, "you must remember that I am still
engaged to your sister, and that Ethel Bumpschus is in the field
pitting her ten millions against Pearl's paltry four."

"Your engagement is a minor matter," replied Mrs. Radigan pleasantly;
"you must remember that while it may seem important to you, it is
Pearl's third or fourth, for before Plumstone Smith she had several
devoted admirers in Kansas City. As for Ethel, I have plainly intimated
to his Highness that if worst comes to worst, Radigan and I will
make up a purse between us to quite bring Pearl's dot to Bumpschus
proportions."

Truly, when Mrs. Radigan sets her mind on accomplishing anything, one
might as well get out of her way. But I die hard myself.

"Has the Duke proposed?" I asked.

"Pearl tells me not," was the quiet reply. "But you know his Highness
is waiting for his solicitor, and when Sir Charles Wigge arrives from
London, we can look for doings, real doings. I tell you, any girl might
well be proud of having a 'Sir' come to her to lay the hand of a duke
at her feet."

"A ghastly ceremony," said I, thinking of one thing.

"You are not qualified to judge," said she smiling, and evidently
misinterpreting my remark.

But how clever she is! Most women conducting such a campaign would
seek to separate the Duke from the Bumpschuses and bring him entirely
within their own sphere of influence. But Mrs. Radigan regards Ethel
Bumpschus as her chief ally, though an unwitting one, and when she gets
possession of his Grace she likes to have the great heiress around. She
says Pearl shows so well against a plain background. The poor Duke is
almost distracted. What with Pearl's beauty and my insidious remarks
to him about the enormous wealth of the house of Bumpschus and the
speculative character of the Radigan fortunes, he flutters about as
aimlessly as a wounded butterfly and has about as much to say. When the
dog-fancier is particularly pressing for a payment on the bull pups his
Grace will concentrate his attentions on one heiress or the other for a
day at a time, then he will go all to pieces again and aimlessly wander
up and down the Park Mall or stand on the Battery wall watching the
steamships come in.

Mrs. Radigan told him the other day that she could see by his face
that he was working too hard, and insisted that the bracing air of
Hempstead Plain could alone save him to his country. So we all went
down to the Westbury place for a week-end, even Miss Bumpschus, with
Constance Wherry and Williegilt Mint, a youngish chap, who is studying
at Harvard, and so has not much to do except go about. Pearl took
some of us down in her car in the afternoon, while the rest went by
train, arriving in time for dinner. The Duke was in our party, but I
doubt if ever again he will trust himself to the mercy of our fair
chauffeuse, for Pearl is an expert with her car and can run as close
to a hub without scraping it as can the Frenchman who looks after the
Radigan machine-shop. We put the Duke and Miss Bumpschus behind, with
Gascan as chaperone, and we should never have known they were there
as we ran down the avenue to Thirty-fourth Street had not the Duke
once remarked that it was "jolly." Then I gave Pearl a gentle nudge
and she made a figure S around two rapidly approaching trolley cars. I
expected a scream, but there was an ominous silence. Covertly I turned
my head, first to look into the expressionless face of Gascan, his eye
set along the track, then into the pale eyes of the great Englishman.
He was terror-stricken, but to do him justice, I think he was not so
much frightened by the smartness with which Pearl ran across the fender
of the trolley car, as by Miss Bumpschus, who lay gasping in one of
his arms. I could not help smiling, and in smiling I aroused him to
action. With the bull-dog perseverance that is the characteristic of
the Anglo-Saxon, he propped Ethel up in her corner.

"That was a jolly close call," he said, speaking, we supposed, of the
delightful way Pearl handled the car.

"Another like that and you lose the Duke," I whispered. I could see
just a bit of pink cheek turn pinker, just the full mouth curling at
the corners, for all the rest was hidden from me by fur and goggles.

We shot between a vegetable truck and an elevated post, at top speed,
and came to a standstill within an inch of the ferry-gate; and when
on the other side of the river, we whirled away again at the legal
speed, going like the wind. The keen air put the mischief in Pearl's
veins, and she ran with a recklessness that at times even disturbed
my equanimity, though, of course, I did not dare show it, for I have
noticed that these silent women set more store by nerve than by
brains. We turned corners on one tire; we ran up to trolley cars at a
forty-mile clip, then circled around them with a wild scream of the
horn; over crossings we bowled with a succession of shocks that were
likely to hurl his Grace off into the sky, but he clung to the hem
of the silent Gascan's cow-skin coat. Just once the noble Englishman
spoke. The mud, gentle harbinger of spring, was rising around us in
clouds, and the engine, called on for double exertion, was roaring
demoniacally.

"Jolly!" he cried. "Je-je-je-olly!"

Miss Bumpschus said nothing. I fear that the cynical expression of
Gascan, the chauffeur, had for the time blighted her hope that in their
mutual peril she and the Duke would find a tie to bind them. But such
peril had to have its end; such a journey could not long continue, for
in all the world there were not enough thousands of miles for speed
like that to cover. We chipped the paint off the iron gate of the
Westbury place as Jamaica lay hallowed in the gold of the setting sun,
and the groans of the resting engine brought the whole house to the
veranda. Gascan handed down the frozen Duke and Ethel Bumpschus, and
in the warm smile of Sally Radigan they were thawed out.

"Of course my little sister brought your Highness down quietly," said
Mrs. Radigan, when she had fixed him before the library fire and
despatched a man for hot Scotch.

"It was jolly," replied the great Englishman. "I'm used to fast
going--jolly fast going."

But I think that had the Duke the power at that moment he would have
fled home to his leaky castles, leaving behind wealth and loveliness,
broken hearts and full purses. Pearl had shown a phase of her character
that made him fear for his ducal rights, and as for Miss Bumpschus, his
man told my man that--but these are kitchen secrets.

Night came, bringing with it Constance Wherry, large and good-natured
as ever, with Williegilt Mint and Radigan. Dinner came, bringing the
Duke down in a coat that fitted over his shoulders as on a wire hanger;
bringing Pearl Veal in simple black that set off her rounded shoulders
to perfection, and Ethel Bumpschus in a spangly pink creation, with
eye-glasses, and a black patch on her chin; bringing Constance Wherry
with her neck squeezed into one of the finest pearl collarettes I
have ever seen, though it was not tight enough to prevent her talking
as volubly as ever. Mrs. Radigan was in splendid tune with her
surroundings. As one of the men pushed the Duke into his place at her
side, I heard her remark: "We are all so glad your Highness has come.
You will enjoy it here, I am sure. To-night we have bridge. To-morrow
there are a lot of things to see: the Cathedral at Garden City, and
the beautiful view of the plains from the hill behind the stables. I'm
sure it's as fine as anything you have in Europe. It reminds me of
Bar-beyzun, the place Mil-let painted, you know."

His Grace said it would be jolly.

Then she said that Sir Charles Wigge must see it when he came. She
would insist on the Duke bringing him down for a few days. When Sir
Charles did come, all would be over with me, I thought. There was
plenty of time to ponder on the situation, for Constance Wherry was
giving me in detail the plot of a play she had seen the night before,
and by leaning interestedly toward her I was able to get an occasional
glance around the monstrous jardinière, and see Pearl, as she covered
his Grace with smiles. The Duke quite warmed up and smiled, too, and
made several remarks, after he had had some champagne. There was little
consolation for me there, except the meagre possibility in Pearl's
promise to take Sir Charles out in her car--the roads would be better
then, she said, and they would be able to go.

"It would be jolly," Nocastle stammered, twirling his glass.

After dinner we had bridge, but it was rather tame at our table, his
Grace declining to play for more than a ha'penny a point, as he had
to carry Miss Bumpschus, who never gambles. It was rather a bore, but
I found some pleasure in the polite row we had at the end, over the
question as to whether we were playing on the American or English
coinage basis. His Grace said English, of course, as he never could
understand our American money. It was folly to be wise, indeed, as
he had won three rubbers; but as the amount involved was only $5, I
settled in English and let it go at that, but Miss Wherry stuck to
cents, paid, and went to bed in a towering rage. She lacks humor. Now,
when I told Pearl about it she blew a smoke ring and said simply, "He's
a jolly duke."



CHAPTER XX

_Sir Charles Wigge Takes Possession_


Mrs. Radigan has been overawed at last. Sir Charles Wigge has arrived,
and the masterful English solicitor is more than a match for her,
clever though she is. He seldom gives her an opportunity to speak, and
then her voice sounds in a faint tremolo that is almost pitiful. If you
asked her why England was great, she would simply point to the Duke of
Nocastle's friend and guide, and I do not know but that I should agree
with her. Fortunate, indeed, is the land that possesses such a man,
for, having him, it must be the centre of all the virtues. He must be
the court of last appeal at home, as there is nothing that he does not
know absolutely, no opinion not his that is worth considering. We all
feel very humble since we have had him around for a day or two, and I
actually have found myself wondering how I ever attained majority under
the barbarous conditions in which we live, in the glare of the sun, in
a dry and wholesome atmosphere, in warm houses, with little that is fit
to eat, and then so far from London. Our beer is bad, too, and as for
the water, Sir Charles spurns it. Men, says he, are like plants, that
to fully flower should be rained on daily, in proof of which he has
only to point to his own people.

I refuse to apologize. Pearl smiles. Mrs. Radigan is abject. Realizing
that this modern knight carries the Duke in his waistcoat pocket, she
fears to offend him and so agrees with everything he says.

"Ah, Sir Wigge," she said to him the other afternoon, "it must be a
great hardship for you to have to give up your beloved London for the
discomforts of New York."

"It is not a hardship," Sir Charles replied with a courtly grace. "You
know that as a youngster I served in the campaign against the Zulus.
An Englishman, Mrs. Radigan, adapts himself to his circumstances. He is
as much at home in a Zulu kraal or in America as he is in Piccadilly."

Now when Sir Charles speaks like this, it comes as if from Zeus. He
looks like Zeus shaved. I suggested this to Mrs. Radigan, but she
replied that she would not say, until she had seen the two together,
and I decided that it was not worth while for me to explain; I could
cherish for myself the conceit that this was some barbaric god, dressed
up by a Piccadilly tailor, and surveying the world through a monocle.
When I saw him first, I was standing in the Radigan library, gazing
disconsolately over the park, watching the endless stream of carriages
rolling along the drive-way, for the town was out enjoying the breath
of early spring. I was thinking of him, wondering when he would arrive,
when he would present himself to Pearl Veal to claim her hand and
her fortune for his noble master, the Duke of Nocastle. Then a smart
brougham bowled up to the curb, and by the Frenchmen on the box I
recognized a Bumpschus carriage, and I was not surprised when his Grace
climbed out. A great man followed, a very large man, with gray hair and
gray side-whiskers, clad in the conventional attire, so he might have
been taken for either a statesman or an undertaker. The two paused a
moment while the stranger gazed over the Radigan house. Then he turned
and, looking down at his companion, said something. The Duke laughed so
heartily that he dropped his monocle, and it took several moments of
beating around the air before his hands discovered it, dangling at the
end of its string.

"The Duke and Sir Charles Wigge have just come in," said I to Mrs.
Radigan.

"At last," said she, laying down her picture-paper and gliding over
to me. "My poor boy, I fear this is the end of your romance. It is
splendid of you to stand ready to give up Pearl to the Duke, and no
doubt you will find your reward in the consciousness of a duty done. To
a certain extent, it is hard for my little sister, for I think she is
fond of you, but while she says nothing, I am sure that she believes as
I do, that it would be wrong, absolutely wrong, for her to refuse an
offer from so great a man, a man any girl would deem it a privilege to
marry."

An appeal to Pearl brought me not even a smile.

"I thought Sir Charles would be here soon," she said, "for this
despatch in the papers from London says that the meeting of Nocastle's
creditors was postponed on receipt of a cablegram from him. Perhaps he
would like to see it, Sally."

But Sally did not hear. She was already hurrying downstairs to greet
her distinguished callers and to be utterly crushed. Just what Sir
Charles said to her I do not know, but how he said it I can easily
realize, for she brought the pair up to the library to have "a real
comfy time," as she put it, leaving word downstairs that if anyone
except Miss Bumpschus called she was not at home.

"And what do you think of America, Sir Wigge?" said Mrs. Radigan, when
she had him comfortably fixed with a glass of whiskey and a cigar.

"I had only to drive up Broadway, as you call your Strand, to realize
why _we_ did not care to keep New York," Sir Charles replied with a
grand smile.

"But did you not admire the skyscrapers?" said I boldly.

"In England," replied our visitor, "we have buildings every bit as
long, longer, indeed, much longer, but we lay them along the ground, as
they should be laid."

"But, your Lordship," put in Mrs. Radigan with some spirit, "we have
not the room, and must build up."

"You should find the room," said Sir Charles with royal good-nature.
"We find it in England, Mrs. Bannigan, and I am told that America is
somewhat larger even than England."

"Did Fifth Avenue not impress you?" inquired Pearl rather sweetly.

"Your Piccadilly--it is your Piccadilly, I believe--should be toned
down," replied the Englishman graciously. "It is too loud. The glare of
the sun is blinding and overheating, Miss Vial."

He spoke to my fiancée as though she were a bottle or an adjective, and
I could not forbear to interpose mildly, "Miss Ve-al, Sir Charles."

"In England," returned Sir Charles, "it would be Vial or possibly
Willy. I am told that in America you have an absurd custom of
pronouncing words the way they are spelled. Is it not so, Miss Weal?"

"Yes," Pearl replied, "but----"

"On the contrary," said Sir Charles, "it is easier, much easier, to
spell words the way they are not pronounced. The minute you begin to
pronounce as you spell, it becomes impossible to spell correctly at
all. Is it not so, your Grace?"

The Duke said that it was so. Moreover, he added admiringly that
whatever Sir Charles said was so. Mrs. Radigan, with some of her native
fire still smouldering, ventured to remark that she spelled entirely
by sound and then had her secretary make the corrections, which amused
her visitor immensely. When he had recovered his equanimity and
polished his glass, he proceeded to demonstrate how absurd was her view.

"In England, Mrs. Lanigan, we have for centuries pronounced words the
way they are not spelled. Don't you suppose that if we had not found it
the best thing to do we should have changed?"

"But, my Lord--" began Mrs. Radigan.

"The question is not one which allows any argument at all, Mrs.
Stranahan," said the solicitor. "We threshed it all over in England,
long ago, and decided it."

Then it was that Mrs. Radigan began to sympathize with him about the
hardships of his visit, and learned how the Zulu campaign had hardened
him for it. Then it was that Mrs. Radigan broached her plan for another
week-end at Westbury and secured his consent to come, though she had
discreetly promised not to show him anything, feeling, perhaps, that
there was nothing for such a man to see. Then it was that Sir Charles
graciously admitted that there was one thing in this country to see,
and announced his intention of honoring it with a look.

"While my visit to America is purely connected with matters of
business," he said, "I am going to make use of an opportunity to view
Niagara. I think I shall run out and back to-morrow. Possibly I shall
take an extra day and have a look at the Yellowstone Park, which I am
told in its way quite equals anything we have in England."

Now, it happened that Sir Charles Wigge was unable to work in that
extra day to visit the Yellowstone, as he was longer than he had
expected on his visit to Niagara, so Friday evening found us gathered
again around the board at Westbury, except Ethel Bumpschus, whose
absence I regarded as an ill-omen, one that presaged a defeat for her
and thus for me. His Grace was still a guest at the Bumpschus house,
but of late he had been spending all his afternoons and evenings with
the Radigans, not even the attentions of Prince Cosmospopolis of
Greece to his host's daughter serving to arouse him to action in that
quarter. Ethel was asked, I know, but she sent a polite but stiff note
of regret, whereupon Mrs. Radigan telephoned for Marian Speechless,
who came in a rush and made a vigorous attack on the Duke, talking him
almost to death. Perhaps Marian had dreams, but they could never be
more than dreams, as she has nothing but ancestry and charm. I thought,
perhaps, she would be able to do something with Sir Charles Wigge,
she is such a voluble person, so I carefully arranged a meeting after
dinner, when Mrs. Radigan had his Grace at her side and was drawing out
his ideas on the ginger-beer evil, the only subject on which he talks
complete sentences.

"I am so glad to have an opportunity to meet you," Marian gasped, while
Sir Charles polished his monocle. "There are so many things about which
I want to ask you."

"And I, for my part, shall be delighted to answer any questions you
care to put," returned Sir Charles gallantly, "but Miss Peaches----"

"Miss Speechless," I corrected gently.

"Impossible," said he. "It must have been Peaches originally in
England--then why did your family change the pronunciation? Now----"

"But--" began Marian indignantly.

"On the contrary," said Sir Charles, "you Americans----"

Ignobly I left the girl to bear the brunt of it, for I had glanced
about the drawing-room and saw that Pearl had gone. So I vanished, too,
coming to life in the deserted smoking-room, where she had settled
herself beside the fire and was contentedly blowing rings.

"It will be the last time," said I, taking a cigarette from her case
and her proffered light. "To-morrow, I think, I shall go the way of
Plumstone Smith and those Kansas City men you knew before you became
smart."

"Fellows," corrected Pearl.

"To-morrow," I went on unheeding, "Sir Charles Wigge will offer you
the hand of the great Duke of Nocastle."

"I should not be surprised," said Pearl, blowing a big ring and sending
a second hurtling through it.

"Mrs. Radigan has told me that it is settled beyond question," said I,
"for she has intimated plainly to Sir Charles that she and John will
make up a purse for you. They won't be outbid by the Bumpschuses."

"Then it is settled," said Pearl, "for who could refuse a duke? Think
of being a duchess, of taking precedence over a dozen other American
girls who have bought lords, of being able to snub that Bumpschus girl
who married Nothingham, and Ethel Bumpschus, who won't marry Nocastle.
Think of the columns in the papers, of the wedding-riot, and all that."

Seldom had I heard Pearl say so much, never with such a burst of
spirit, for generally she is in quiet mood. All was over now, it seemed
to me. With the Duke the end had come and it was useless to fight
against it.

"It is dazzling," said I meekly, "and I do not blame you."

"Still," said she meditatively, after a moment's silence, "there is one
thing greater than to marry a duke."

"And that?" said I.

"That," said she, "is to----"

Sir Charles loomed up before us, with Sally Radigan at his side.

"It will take just a moment to settle it," I heard him say to his
hostess.

"Sir Wigge wishes to speak to you, Pearl," said Mrs. Radigan softly to
her sister. And to me: "Come and make a four at bridge. Marian has gone
to bed with a violent headache."

"My dear Miss Vial," I heard Sir Charles say.

Pearl blew one last smoke ring, tossed away her cigarette, and turned
those lustrous eyes on him. I saw the inscrutable smile.

"Do you wonder his Highness is crazy about her?" said Mrs. Radigan, as
she led me away.



CHAPTER XXI

_Pearl Veal's Answer to the Duke of Nocastle_


The engagement of Miss Bumpschus to the Duke of Nocastle was announced
in this morning's papers almost to the exclusion of all other news.
There were pictures of Ethel looking like an Oriental beauty, of the
little Duke, magnificent in the uniform of the Guards, of the Bumpschus
house in town and the Newport villa; of Leeking Castle, the ancestral
seat of the Fitznits--indeed, of everything in the lives of the high
contracting parties that could be photographed. The equanimity with
which Mrs. Radigan received the news was most surprising. I had
expected to find her completely unstrung when I called this afternoon,
but instead she was in the library, just back from a drive, and making
tea.

"Isn't it absurd?" she said laughingly, pointing to the paper behind
which Pearl Veal was ensconced in a deep chair, reading of the glories
of the Duke and the house of Bumpschus. "They are making the best of
it, I hear; have a press agent and all that; so for weeks we shall read
of nothing else. It is disgusting to see people courting notoriety that
way."

I thought of her own plans of last week and involuntarily raised my
eyebrows in astonishment. She noticed it, but went calmly on:

"Ethel actually looks beautiful in some of those pictures--I wonder how
they were made?--and as for the Duke, you might suppose he was a real
dashing sort of a fellow. Won't they look well coming down the aisle
together! Why, in order to take his arm she will have to walk like a
camel."

Pearl's paper rattled to the floor, revealing her smiling softly, those
fine eyes of hers intent upon her sister.

Mrs. Radigan understood. "Of course, my dear," she said grimly,
"if you had taken him we should have avoided such an absurd picture
somehow." She paused a moment, trying to think how. The inspiration
came to me first.

"Sir Charles Wigge," said I, "as long as he did the proposing, he might
well lead the bride down the aisle--the Duke could toddle after him."

Mrs. Radigan shuddered. She always shudders when Sir Charles is
mentioned; but on my part I feel that I owe him a heavy debt, for by
the time we had had him with us two days at Westbury, the suppression
of the solicitor became more the ambition of Mrs. Radigan than the
capture of his noble client. Pearl says frankly that she never in the
world could have refused the Duke of her own accord, as a girl can't
marry a nobleman every day, and real-estate agents are a drug in the
market. But when Sir Charles came, when he took possession of the house
and of the opinions of all its occupants, when he had utterly crushed
us and made us feel our ignorance and humbleness, her future became
a second thought, and the desire to turn possessed her. Pearl smiles
softly as she says this. It is her inscrutable smile, and may hide
something; but I care little, for she did turn.

That night when Mrs. Radigan brought Sir Charles into the smoking-room,
when she tucked me under her arm and dragged me away, when I looked
back and saw Pearl toss her cigarette into the fire and fix her
lustrous eyes on the English solicitor, I thought all was over. Sir
Charles had said that it would only take a minute to settle the whole
thing; but he did not know Pearl Veal. She listened to him silently,
and the proposal in behalf of the Duke of Nocastle must have been
well worth hearing. Sir Charles repeated all his Grace's titles, told
her the history of the ducal house of Fitznit and its glories, of its
manors, halls, and bowers; of its present head and his virtues, his
service in the commissary department in South Africa, and his speech in
the House of Lords on the ginger-beer evil. Lastly, in a softer voice,
Sir Charles spoke to Pearl of his Grace's love. He talked very nicely,
too, she says, and quite affected her, quite overwhelmed her with the
sense of her lowliness and the high honor his Grace had conferred in
stooping to offer her his hand, when he had the proudest women in
England at his feet.

"And now," said the lawyer rising, "I may tell his Grace that you will
be proud to accept his offer."

Pearl rose, too, stepped to the table and picked up a bit of paper and
a pencil.

"How much does he owe?" she said, chewing the rubber while she eyed the
great man.

"But, my dear Miss Vial, he is a duke," protested Sir Charles. "And
that little matter has been arranged by Mrs. Batigan."

"But I might like to spend my money in other ways," said Pearl.

So Sir Charles indignantly got out a note-book and gave her the
figures. It was a paltry sum compared to our Wall Street failures, and
he assured her that the creditors would take two shillings in the pound
and be thankful for it. They seldom got more from dukes.

Pearl lighted a cigarette, and as she leaned easily against the table
she watched a spire of smoke go curling away into the dark recesses of
the ceiling.

"Well, Miss Vial?" said Sir Charles testily.

"I'll let you know Monday," came the quiet answer, with the quiet smile.

"But 'pon my word!" protested the great Englishman.

Pearl curled up in her chair again and began blowing smoke rings.

"He is an English duke," said Sir Charles angrily.

Pearl seemed intensely occupied watching the gray halo that was
floating above her head.

"Do you realize what it means to marry a peer of England?" came again
in a louder tone.

The corners of the girl's mouth turned up, just a trifle.

"Do you consider whom you are keeping waiting?" demanded the lawyer
solemnly.

Pearl smiled.

That inscrutable smile proved a match for Sir Charles, and he gave
up his attack, but I think he was convinced that the delay was only
for the moment, and that Monday would witness the ratification of his
plans. So for two days he was gloriously good-natured and overbearing,
and by Monday none of us dared to raise a voice in his presence. Even
Marian Speechless became as silent as the tomb. Mrs. Radigan was
depressed. I have never seen her so utterly dispirited. "Oh, if we
could only blow him up or something," she whispered to me after dinner
on Sunday evening, when we had had an hour's discourse by Sir Charles
on the unhealthy American climate and the advantages of constant
drizzles.

"To-morrow," said I, "it will be over."

"Yes," said she, "thank Heaven, to-morrow it will be over, and we
shall have the dear Duke to ourselves."

And on the morrow it was over. All Mrs. Radigan's dreams were
shattered. All my own fears were swept away. True to her promise, Pearl
Veal gave Sir Charles her answer.

"Of course," said the great English solicitor, "I shall tell his Grace
that Miss Vial loves him and accepts his generous offer."

"No," said Pearl, closing one eye and scrutinizing the figures on the
paper in her hand. "Tell him that I like him, Sir Charles; tell him I
am deeply grateful, but I cannot afford him."

Sir Charles took down his monocle and polished it. Then he eyed her
through it very hard.

"Do you realize, Miss Weal, that you are refusing a peer of England?"
he said sternly.

"But I want to get a new automobile," Pearl answered quietly.

The monocle flew fiercely to the very end of its guard-string. It was
a minute before the astonished Englishman found it again, for his hands
were trembling violently as they beat the air in search of it. Finding
the glass, he sat down and polished it very hard. Then, returning it
to his eye, he inspected Pearl Veal from head to foot, being evidently
convinced that he had to do with an insane person.

"Miss Willy," he said hoarsely, "am I to understand that you spurn the
offer of my noble client, the Duke of Nocastle?"

"I simply can't afford him," Pearl answered. "Tell him I like him very
much," was added sweetly.

Sir Charles arose and paced up and down the room, looking as though he
might begin to roar at any moment.

"Beyond comprehension--utterly beyond it--incredible," he said. "It is
the first time it has ever been done."

"And I feel so sorry for the Duke," put in Pearl sweetly. "He will have
to marry Ethel Bumpschus."

This was the spark that set fire to the already over-heated brain of
Sir Charles Wigge. He hurried from the room and called for time-tables;
he called for the Duke and his boxes, his man, and a trap to get them
to the station; he forgot to say good-by to his hostess, and when at
last we saw him drive away, Mrs. Radigan sank into a chair and cried
feelingly: "Well, anyway, we sat on him!"

They must have gone straight to the Bumpschus house and closed the
deal, for we followed them to town from Westbury, and yesterday morning
we knew about the engagement. In the evening they gave it to the press
with the pictures. That is why Mrs. Radigan shuddered this afternoon
when I mentioned Sir Charles Wigge. She stirred her tea meditatively
for a very long time. Then she exclaimed: "Well, I'm glad we did sit on
them!"

She talked as though she had refused the Duke, instead of cringing for
days at his solicitor's feet, but I deemed it wise to let well enough
alone, for I had not expected to find her in so amiable a mood after
all her plans had been turned so topsy-turvy.

"You certainly did," said I, giving Pearl a sidelong glance, which was
returned with interest.

"The idea of their wanting us to settle all the Duke's debts before the
wedding even!" cried Mrs. Radigan with sudden indignation. "Then we
should have had to give the Duke five million more, and Pearl was to
fix the castle roofs and keep what was left."

"Naturally, I could not afford it," said Pearl smiling.

"Naturally," said Mrs. Radigan firmly. "But, my dear, we did not want
to interfere with your happiness. We simply stood ready to buy the Duke
if you cared to have him."

"A duke is a duke," said Pearl, "but they come very high."

"And when I think of Ethel Bumpschus," said Mrs. Radigan, holding the
paper at arm's length and staring at the photograph of the Oriental
beauty, "when I think of her, with her spectacles and her charities,
her aged ticket-choppers and her taffy-colored hair, I must say I feel
that his Highness got the worst of the bargain."

We dine at the Bumpschus house to-morrow evening. It will be an
informal affair, of course, on account of Lent, and I am looking
forward with pleasure to seeing Mrs. Radigan congratulating Ethel and
wishing the Duke happiness.



CHAPTER XXII

_Tumbleton Tumm, the Minstrel_


Ethel Bumpschus is rushing preparations for her wedding to the Duke
of Nocastle, and vastly amusing we find it. The upper floors of the
Bumpschus house, Pearl Veal tells me, look as though some large
business enterprise were being carried on, as there is a constant
coming and going of milliners, dress-makers, and tailors, hurrying the
costumes for the great show; and above it all sounds the ceaseless
click of Tumbleton Tumm's type-writer. Poor Tumm! He regularly writes
scandal for _Town Twaddle_ and has a hard time to keep that fact a
secret, retain his membership in one club, look respectable and make
both ends meet; so that when Mrs. Bumpschus called him in to help
them it was a great boon. They should give him a fat retainer for his
press-agent work, for I must say he is doing it well, as the papers
daily chronicle every act of the Duke and his fiancée. He realizes
how eagerly the public devours this kind of reading-matter, and his
type-writer goes all day as he prepares the feast. Interest has been
aroused to a high pitch. Were it not for Tumm's pride, he would do
well on the Rialto, for in some of his work he has evinced signs of
positive genius. I remember when Ethel's cousin married Nothingham
a furor was created by the illustrated-page articles describing her
entire trousseau. We have progressed wonderfully since then, for Tumm
is making that a serial story and got five columns on hosiery alone in
every Sunday paper in town. This is but one of many masterly strokes.

I must say that to me there is something pathetic in the picture of
this bearer of a fine old New York name, reduced to a task that cannot
but be distasteful to him, for though he may have a saving gleam of
humor, he cannot but feel that in every way he is the better of his
employers. But it is his father's fault. Hegerton Tumm was one of those
gentlemen of the old school, a Patriarch with a house in Washington
Square and all that. He never worked. He looked down on Grandfather
Bumpschus, who was busy wrecking railroads and piling up other people's
money. He died and left his children to social charity. I remember
before I took to golf and tennis, that somewhere in the church service
there was a reference to dust returning to dust. How keen those old
Bible fellows were! It seems as though they must have foreseen the
first Tumm crawling on his knees among the cabbages of his patch in
Union Square; must have foreseen real estate rise and carry with it
to power half a hundred Tumms; and, last, poor Tumbleton on his knees
again, a mere retainer in the railroad house of Bumpschus.

Pearl said to-day that Tumm was the Bumpschus jester. I protested, but
it was just one of those little cuts which make a woman all the more
lovely to those for whom she has only balm. I think of him, I told
her, as the minstrel of the house, at his type-writer all day long,
singing of its glories, of the riches of the master and the beauty of
the daughter, of the greatness of her lover and of their love--for
under a hundred flaring black heads the world has been told that this
is a love-match. A safety match, said Pearl, blowing a smoke ring
solemnly--she was evidently thinking of his Grace's debts. Singing,
I went on, for I always ignore these little jibes of hers, singing
and carolling of the vastness of the trousseau and the value of the
presents, of the smartness of the bridesmaids and the colors of their
dresses; singing of the ushers, of their waistcoats, their spats, their
gloves, and boutonnières; of the music at the wedding, of the breakfast
later, with its menu and its wines. Fortunate the world that every word
that Tumm, the minstrel, sings is caught upon the manifold, seized
by the educating press, illuminated with pen-sketch and photograph,
and sent forth to be read by the millions in the outer darkness!
Fortunate, indeed, said Pearl, for she always agrees with me in the end.

Sometimes I suspect that because she can always agree with me, she
declined the proffered heart and hand of his Grace, and now is
perfectly contented with the humbler rôle of maid of honor at the
great wedding of the season. I must confess that I was surprised that
Ethel Bumpschus asked Pearl to accompany her to the altar, but then
the reason was very evident when I saw the list of the wedding-party.
Ethel is going in for beauty. No expense is being spared on flowers and
music, and she must have been conscious of the discord created in the
first bars of many a grand sweet song by a procession of exquisitely
gowned ancients moving slowly down the aisle at the heels of a lovely
bride. Now Ethel is not beautiful, but she will have the advantage of a
veil.

Who first blessed womankind with that artful covering? This question I
put to Pearl, and, of course, she did not know, but when I said that
she must wear a picture-hat at her own wedding, she smiled. She thought
this some subtle flattery, though I spoke in all sincerity, having seen
her that very day gowned as she will be when she follows the Duchess
of Nocastle down the aisle. Ethel Bumpschus is wise. She is putting
her close friends in good seats with the family while she will lead up
the aisle five of the fairest of the town. Angelica Clime and Gladys
Tumbleton, Clarissa Mudison and Emily Lumpley, Hebes every one, with
Pearl Veal still more glorious, will turn all eyes from the tiny Duke
and his towering bride. I should like to stand in a pew and watch them
myself as they move down the flowery pathway, for I am still simple
enough to find more charm in a lovely face than in a lovely voice or
a pedigree. But I shall have to follow them, to be of the unfortunate
four who risk everything to gain nothing, who win undying hatred by
putting aunts with the old family servants, husbands next former wives,
and mere business friends where the cousins ought to be; that bring
on themselves the ridicule of the society-writers who hover on the
outskirts of the charmed circle and scoff at us because we wear pink
waistcoats and white spats.

No, I do not suppose that I shall wear a pink waistcoat and white spats
at my own wedding. Heaven knows I would rather choose tennis flannels,
but I must follow orders for the Bumpschus nuptials, and we will do
things for a duke that we would do for no other man, particularly when
we contemplate spending a season in London. I do not think his Grace
has any ideas even on clothes, but attribute the pink waistcoats to
Ethel, and the white spats to her brother Williegilt. She wants pink
waistcoats to harmonize with the bridesmaids' gowns, and Williegilt's
hobby is spats. You can see him any day on the avenue displaying his
feet in a new shade. Pearl says that it distracts attention from his
head, but I protest against such an uncharitable view, for I must say
he has been extremely square to me. The Duke, of course, cabled for
his brother, Captain Lord Algernon Fitznit, to sail for this side at
once, as he is to be best man, which seems to be almost like taking
part in his own funeral, he being the heir to the dukedom. As the
Captain cannot get here until the day before the wedding, Williegilt
is arranging for the ushers, and while Ethel is going in for beauty,
he is choosing for size, to make some sort of a showing against the
soldier, who is six feet four. I think Williegilt with Stuyve Mint,
Tommy Clime and myself will average around six feet two, and, as I told
Pearl, when we get fixed up in our uniform we should make a rather
imposing showing, so I find myself looking forward to the occasion with
considerable interest. It will be a real adventure, no doubt, and I
am training for it--have even taken to spats, which I abhor, and have
accustomed myself to walking without looking at my feet, though I am a
little afraid white will rather discompose me.

Pearl declines to be excited at all, but she is an unusually quiet
soul, and says she is not going to rush herself into a decline simply
because Ethel Bumpschus, a mere acquaintance, is to marry a nobleman
that she could have had herself if she would have spent the money. She
will go to the church and walk down the aisle and back, looking as
well as she can, fight her way through the mob outside, drive to the
house, sip the health of the happy pair, and go home to oblivion. Of
course I am the oblivion. She must have some lingering regret for the
Duke, and I cannot blame her for it. She says frankly that she would
give anything to be the Dowager Duchess of Nocastle, but that title is
not purchasable, so she is perfectly satisfied with her real-estate
agent. Pearl has a way of saying things like that when we are walking
on Madison Avenue, but even there a few people are always about, which
makes it rather aggravating. And we walk on Madison Avenue a great
deal now, and she seems to delight in such maddening remarks, but when
we are home in the quiet of the library, when Mrs. Radigan has made
the tea and become absorbed in picture-papers, when she is in her deep
chair and I in mine, close by, I try again to draw them from her, but
she just smiles--blows a ring of smoke, and smiles inscrutably as she
watches it float away.



CHAPTER XXIII

_The Wedding of the Season_


Mrs. Radigan pulled off her gloves, tossed her hat on the drawing-room
table, threw her coat at her maid, and sank into a deep chair.

"Well, thank Heaven, it is all over," she said, "that we got through
it alive, and now we shall see something in the papers besides the
Bumpschuses and the Nocastles and all those tiresome people."

She called for tea, and when it came Pearl Veal would have made it for
her but her sister waved her away firmly.

"You must rest, my dear," she said. "Quiet your nerves with a smoke and
offer up silent thanksgiving that you are living at this minute."

She seemed to think that Pearl should be on the verge of collapse,
which amused me greatly, for when I passed a cigarette to my fiancée I
saw that her hand was as steady as a church with the match. Then she
smiled at me and gave her head a slight inclination toward Sally.

"No one was hurt," she said. "The police arrangements were excellent,
only it took so many men to get Ethel and the Duke safely into the
carriage, that we were left unguarded for a moment."

"It's a wonder you were not killed," said Mrs. Radigan.

Pearl laughed. I never knew a girl so brave as she. Had she just come
from a Lenten service instead of the wedding of the season she could
not have been more unruffled. But Mrs. Radigan was bent on making the
most of the adventure, as she does of all adventures, exaggerating,
finding pleasure in dances, and getting excitement out of dinners. Her
teacup was arrested in midair, and over its top she eyed her sister
solicitously.

"Do not tell me you weren't dreadfully frightened!" she cried.

Pearl blew a smoke ring.

"No," she said, "I was not afraid. I was mad--downright mad. Just as
we came out of the church the awning burst in. For the moment I was
dazed, for through the rent in the canvas I could see a multitude of
faces, a sea of people that stretched away from the church for blocks,
in every direction, and beat against it with irresistible force. As the
mounted police tried to get the Duke and Duchess out, they drove the
crowd back and something had to give. Naturally, it was the awning.
Angelica Clime screamed and seized me by the arm, so that I had but one
hand for defence, the one in which I was carrying my roses. A large fat
woman with blond hair came first. I really don't think she meant to be
rude but was just pushed through the hole, and, being through, wanted
to know what our dresses were made of, so gave a grab for my gown to
feel the material, and without thinking, I brought my roses down over
her head--quite unintentionally--and her bonnet was knocked askew. She
jumped back and fell, and those behind her, unable to stop themselves,
piled over her."

"It must have been dreadful!" said Mrs. Radigan. "We could hear the
shouts inside the church and thought you had all been massacred."

"And so the churchful of people came hurrying out, pinning us between
two mobs," said Pearl. "It looked for a moment as though we should be
crushed, torn in pieces and carried off in bits as souvenirs; but,
fortunately, Williegilt Bumpschus knew what he was about when he chose
giants for ushers, for when they saw our peril, they charged down the
awning, swept the crowd out through the hole, and were able to keep
them at bay till the police had got the Duke's carriage free, and came
to our aid."

"Was anyone hurt?" I asked, for, though I had been in the thick of
the adventure, my attention had been held by the delicate task of
protecting the imperilled bridesmaids without being rude to any of the
attacking party.

"We got off very well," Pearl laughed. "I saw a red-haired woman go
away waving my roses, and Gladys Tumbleton was almost dragged into the
mob at the end of a long strip of trimming that someone had secured as
a prize, but, fortunately, Stuyve Mint had presence of mind enough to
cut her free. It really was not half as bad as some other weddings, but
I suppose the papers will call it a riot--they always exaggerate things
so--yet, as a matter of fact, it was all over in a minute; the police
got the crowd under control, and we were able to get away."

"But the Duke--the poor, dear little Duke!" cried Mrs. Radigan. "He
must have been terribly frightened."

"On the contrary," said I, "he told me emphatically that it was jolly."

"As he says about everything," said Mrs. Radigan. "But I noticed him
particularly at the house. He looked terribly decomposed."

Pearl Veal turned her head slowly and gazed at her sister, then
glanced at me out of the corner of one of those glorious eyes of hers.
Her mouth twitched and from those pouted lips a thin spire of smoke
arose heavenward. The cigarette was poised in midair; she flicked the
ashes from it with that fine little finger of hers and was about to
take another puff when, by a sudden impulse, she tossed it away and,
arising, came to my chair and seated herself on the arm in an attitude
so half-caressing, so unusual for her, that Sally Radigan put down
her cup and stared at her in amazement. For myself, I was astounded,
but I yielded not an inch. And they say in our set that Pearl Veal is
cold; that she is vapid, and has neither heart nor brains; that she
is beautiful in her way, but knows it and poses; that she smiles on
the men and then mulcts them at bridge; that I am marrying her for
money, and why she is marrying me is a mystery! It is a mystery--this
last--and to none more than to me. I find it hard to convince myself
that it is not all a dream, and when she sat on the arm of my chair,
when I felt her hand on my shoulder, and saw her stick out her little
foot beside mine, inspecting them as though to see which was the
larger--when all this happened at once, this perfect avalanche of good
things, I gasped and stared up at her, as astounded as Sally Radigan.

"The Duke was decomposed--greatly decomposed," said Mrs. Radigan, when
she had regained her own composure.

"He is always that way," said Pearl, "and yet you wanted me to marry
him."

I saw it then. We were facing the masterful Mrs. Radigan together,
defying her.

"I told you a hundred times," said she, waving the tea aside and
settling herself back in her chair to tell it all again, "that I simply
thought it would be best for you, because----"

"Because I would be happier," said Pearl laughing.

"No," said Mrs. Radigan. "But it is much more interesting to be an
unhappy duchess than a happy common person. Think of the children
alone. It must be lovely to have your picture taken holding Lord
Algernon Percy Montmorency Fitznit and all that in one hand, and Lady
Angeline Mary Maria Fitznit in the other--sounds much better than when
Mrs. John Jones is seen with just Jim and Kate. A duke is a duke,
Pearl, and even if he is a jibbering idiot, he takes precedence over a
mere genius all over the world, even in our common democratic America.
Now, if you had married Lord Nocastle----"

Poor Pearl! She had already talked a great deal for her and was
not disposed to argue with her worldly wise sister, which nettled
Mrs. Radigan, who likes to be contradicted if it will give her the
opportunity to drive home another point. As she went on and met only
a smiling acquiescence to everything she said, or now and then a
monosyllabic remark, or a puff of smoke, she became disconcerted and
at last angry, as angry as she can become, for at heart she is a good
soul.

"Well?" she demanded at last.

"Well?" said Pearl, blowing a ring.

"Don't you think I am right?"

"Certainly," replied Pearl, shifting over on the arm of my chair till
she leaned quite heavily on me, quite delightfully so, but I manfully
refused to budge an inch.

At that Mrs. Radigan arose.

"You are terribly exasperating," she said, flaunting toward the door.

But she paused there and stood framed in the heavy portières gazing at
us. And we gazed back defiantly.

"You must admit that it was a lovely wedding, except for the bride and
groom," she said a little more softly.

"Certainly," Pearl answered smiling. "It cost them thousands."

"But we could have done it much better, Pearl," Mrs. Radigan went on,
now in quite a gentle tone. "I hated so to see you only maid of honor
at the wedding of so great a man as the Duke of Nocastle. It seemed
to me as though Ethel Bumpschus were taking you up the aisle at her
chariot-wheels. And you looked so lovely."

"Certainly," said Pearl. "How could I help it?"

Thereupon I grew bold and said something that Mrs. Radigan did not
hear. Pearl laughed and Mrs. Radigan did not understand.

"It was funny," she said. "I really almost laughed myself. And all the
rest was so lovely that it did seem a pity that Ethel Bumpschus and
that little Duke had to come in and spoil it. Did you notice them at
the chancel? Everything was perfect; the Bishop of New York and the
Bishop of Long Island and the other clergymen did look so smart in
their vestments, and that Captain Lord Algernon is a magnificent man,
like all heirs presumptious, and the bridesmaids were exquisite, Pearl,
exquisite; and I have never seen such ushers, except those white spats
did make their feet more attractive than their faces; but, 'pon my
word, when I saw the Duke kneeling beside Ethel and just reaching her
shoulders, I thought I should collapse. Do you suppose he said anything
during the ceremony?"

"I think," said Pearl, "I think, but I wouldn't swear to it, of course,
that when the Bishop asked if he took Ethel he said it would be jolly."

"Poor little fellow," said Mrs. Radigan. "He looked so good and kind
and harmless when he came down the aisle on Ethel's arm that I really
pitied him. Afterward at the breakfast I told Sir Charles Wigge how
much sympathy I felt for his Grace, and he polished up his monocle and
inspected me. 'Mrs. Jornigan,' he said--I think that is what he called
me--'the Duchess of Nocastle is one of the loveliest women I have ever
known. You must remember, when you speak of her, that she is an English
peeress.' But still, Pearl, I could not help thinking how much better
it would have looked if the Duke had died and Captain Lord Fitznit
had succeeded him and you had taken him, and he had put on his Guards
uniform, and you had the same bridesmaids and ushers, and the two of
you----"

Pearl Veal has been simply astounding me of late. Suddenly she leaned
over, and for an instant I thought her cigarette was going to burn my
nose, but she remembered it.

"Well, Pearl, you are an idiot!" cried Mrs. Radigan. But as she closed
the portières and disappeared, we did not heed her taunts.

Now I do not agree with Sally Radigan that the Duke and his bride
spoiled the wedding. She exaggerates. Ethel was partly protected by her
veil and really was quite presentable. Of course the Duke's head could
only reach her shoulder, but as he kept on his toes and she stooped,
they did not really appear so badly. And everything else was perfect. I
have never seen a more expensive nor a smarter affair. St. Edward's was
simply lined with flowers. The music was perfect, Roardika, Furioso,
and the Skimphony Orchestra making it really the concert of the
year. The pink waistcoats and white spats were a great success, and
everybody said that Williegilt Bumpschus had an eye for beauty when he
arranged the ushers. We made very few mistakes too. Tommy Clime did fix
Archibald Killing in the same pew as Mr. and Mrs. Harry Stutter, which
made a commotion in that part of the church, as Mrs. Stutter was once
Mrs. Killing. Stuyve Mint, who is near-sighted, mistook the old family
nurse for Mrs. Bumpschus and led her up the aisle with a grand flourish
and put her in the seat of honor; but Williegilt managed to get her out
just as I came up with the real mother of the Duchess-elect. So, on the
whole, there was hardly a hitch. And it was worth going a long way to
see those bridesmaids; worth going early and sitting through an hour of
music; worth the long wait afterward for your carriage, with all the
attendant perils of such a crowd as filled the streets. Visions in pink
those girls were, stepping airily down a rosy pathway. Angelica Clime
with Gladys Tumbleton, Clarissa Mudison with Emily Lumpley, Hebes all.
And then Pearl Veal!

We talk of the daughters of a hundred earls. I have seen them, too. God
save me from them! Give me this daughter of Kansas City, whose blood
runs red. No proud anæmia pales her cheek. She can boast a family as
old as the Fitznits, a hundred generations of men and women, rugged
folk with good digestions and little else. They left her no crest. She
had to adopt one. But from them came the most perfect face and form
in all the town--the red-gold hair that frames that perfect face; the
round, dimpled cheeks from which the color never goes, but plays now
deeper, now softer, like the sunlight on the clouds; those glorious
blue eyes with the quiet gleam lurking in their depths; that mouth
that says so little in words and yet speaks volumes; the foot, the
hand--they would seem the heritage of the storied daughters of the
storied nobles. She glided down the aisle that day, so quietly proud,
so proudly quiet, that I doubt if in all that church, filled to
suffocation with the smartest of the town, there came to one soul the
thought that her grandfather was--But why think of it? As Mrs. Radigan
says, money covers a multitude of ancestors.



CHAPTER XXIV

_Mrs. Radigan Being Smart, Becomes Clever_


One week more and I shall be married. It used to be said that there
were three great events in a woman's life--birth, marriage, and
death--and I take it that the same is true of man. But under our
improved social system we are not quite so restricted. As Mrs.
Radigan remarked the other afternoon, there are now a number of great
events--birth, marriages, and death--but I fear she becomes more
cynical as she grows smarter. I will not take such a view, and when she
expressed it, I put down my foot hard, and looking fiercely at Pearl
Veal, said that I wanted it understood then and there that after next
Tuesday she had nothing to look forward to but death. She was very
good about it, and smilingly replied that she agreed with me very
thoroughly. Pearl is so different from her sister. Mrs. Radigan has
become very broad and says that nothing keeps her with John but her
affection for him, and his dog-like admiration for her. She has become
brilliant and is writing a book, a satire on society, I believe, so has
begun to surround herself with what she calls clever people, whom she
patronizes. He has not changed. He knows nothing of "atmosphere" or of
"color," has no imagination, and cannot rise above stocks, carbureters,
and glanders. His wife loves him, but pities him. She says that their
tastes are utterly different, that he is dull and worldly, and thinks
this beautiful earth of ours nothing more than a mint, and life simply
a job. He yawns when she talks to him about the "soul" and the "music
of things," so they never have common ground to meet on except when
they go over the household-bills.

Now with Captain Lord Algernon Fitznit it is different. It was
different, we remember, with Mr. Mudison. He came into our lives as
Mrs. Radigan was growing smart, and naturally she found the _premiere
danseur_ of the cotillons, the member of seven clubs, the polo player
with nine handicap a more congenial companion than John, who hopped
when he danced and was just learning to take a fence and handle a
mallet. Poor John! At the risk of life and limb, he became a thorough
sport to please his wife, and then found that, having established
herself as smart, she was looking on life with a cynical eye and
becoming clever. Lord Algernon is clever, she says. He has been
spending a week with us at the Westbury place, and will be here until
after the wedding. Mrs. Radigan laid hands on him at the Bumpschus
breakfast and simply would not let him go back to England until he had
given us some of his valuable time, so down he came, with all his six
feet four, his sad, drooping mustache, his monocle, and his "Aw." He is
to sail in a few weeks with the Duke and Duchess of Nocastle, and the
bull pups, who are now South on their wedding-trip.

Pearl Veal said that we shall be having the Colossus of Rhodes down
next, but I cannot see that Lord Algernon bothers her very much, as
her sister hardly lets him out of her sight, though at various times
she has had a lot of people to meet him. One of the first was Carrie
de Bowler, the actress, who goes everywhere now. Pearl argues that
she is really not an actress, but is simply a star, and is received
because she is beautiful and has good manners. Mrs. Radigan has been
very kind to Miss de Bowler this winter, and when she found out that
Lord Algernon had once married a dancer, but that it had been broken
off by the family, she immediately concluded that he liked clever
people, and asked the lovely Carrie for a week-end, with Hetherington
Hopper, who writes nonsense novels. I cannot understand where she
conceived the idea that the English giant was intellectual. Of course
his predilection for the stage is well known, in London it is a common
scandal, but on my fishing expeditions into his brains I have hooked
up only a few facts relating to dogs and horses, and two anecdotes
from the _Sporting Times_. But he is as good-natured as he is big. He
listens well on any subject. Give him a comfortable chair, a cigar,
a Scotch-and-soda, and he seems to enjoy Mrs. Radigan's views on the
futility of life and the saving power of art just as well as Radigan's
discourses on gasoline cars and stocks. Now when Mrs. Radigan reads
scenes from her novel to her husband he dozes off to sleep and dreams
of stocks and horses, so that when she pauses at the end of a thrilling
climax, to hear him snoring gently, she is rightly indignant. But Lord
Algernon seems to sleep with his eyes open, and every now and then he
says "Aw" or "Jolly" or "Clever--very clever," and sips his Scotch. So
Mrs. Radigan feels that their tastes are the same.

The other afternoon we were in the library having tea, after our return
from the Fishing Club. Hetherington and Carrie had left the trap and
were walking home, so there were six of us--Pearl Veal and I sitting
by the library window watching the sun set, Radigan studying the stock
quotations in the afternoon paper, Mignonette Klapper playing a new
game of solitaire, and Mrs. Radigan reading to the soldier, the soldier
drinking Scotch and smoking.

"You see how I am developing the heroine, my Lord," we heard her say,
laying aside her manuscript. "Of course Caroline, being enormously
rich, suspects unjustly that the men who flock about her care only for
her money. Her money is her curse, which brings us back to the great
principle of compensation in life. For instance, John has had to give
up raw onions, of which he used to be passionately fond. So Caroline
has everything in the world but love, while Alonzo, the poor artist,
who goes every morning to the park just to see her walk by, loves her
for herself, knows nothing of her wealth, and yet they are divided by
a wide gulf. Our silly conventions require that they must not speak,
and yet she rides by daily and sees him standing by the reservoir in an
attitude of adoration and she yearns for him, but how are they to be
introduced? Of course, as I go on, I shall develop Alonzo."

"Clever, very clever," interrupted his Lordship. "But Mrs. Radigan,
tell me, what do you do about the spelling?"

"That, of course," replied Mrs. Radigan sagely, "is the most difficult
part of literary work, for I have tried using a dictionary and know
what it means. Now I let my secretary do it. I just go kind of
sketching along the ideas and she puts them together, and very well,
too, Hethy Hopper says. Hethy says, too, that if I sign my name the
book will be a success, anyway, because I am well known, to start with.
But I've a better idea than that--have it look as though John and I
collaborated--is that the word? There is something so delightful in
the picture of a husband and wife writing a book together, and think
of the interest that would be aroused by the announcement of 'The Calf
Worshippers,' by John and Sally Radigan."

Radigan's paper rattled to the floor and he sat bolt upright in his
chair, staring at his wife.

"Clever--very clever," cried Lord Algernon, pulling at his long, blond
mustache.

Radigan's voice trembled a little. "My dear," he said, "it is kind of
you to want to share your glory with me, but I would not think of it.
A man can have a clever wife, but the minute he becomes clever himself
he is lost. Remember, my name is up for membership in the Cholmondeley
Club."

"Nonsense," said Mrs. Radigan firmly. "It would silence all those silly
stories in _Town Twaddle_ if people thought we had written a novel
together."

"But think of my having to go on the Stock Exchange after the book was
published," pleaded Radigan.

"You are afraid of yourself, John," replied his wife kindly. "You do
not realize that now you are smart enough and rich enough to be a fool
without hurting your position in the world. Hethy Hopper thinks the
book will be very clever, and by getting it out under both our names
we will demonstrate to the world how versified, I mean volatile, we
are."

"Clever--awfully clever," said Lord Algernon rising and wandering,
apparently aimlessly, to the table, where Mignonette Klapper was
knitting her brow over a puzzle of cards.

"Sally is clever," said Pearl Veal quietly to me. "What a woman she is!
She has been poor and rich. She was common and became a Knickerbocker
and then smart. Now she is clever, and when she wearies of that she
will settle down and be good. She thinks she has never been good, and
it would hurt her dreadfully to be disillusioned."

A spindly French chair creaked as the Guardsman sat down beside
Mignonette.

"Captain, you have not heard all of the chapter," cried Mrs. Radigan
sweetly from the divan, where she sat enthroned amid cushions.

The Guardsman was strangely deaf. He seemed to become strangely
talkative, too, for we heard Mignonette laugh and say, "Oh, your
Lordship is too flattering." He did say "Aw," but he added something
to it, very much to it, indeed, and when he had finished I noticed
that she was blushing delightfully and smiling. Poor Mrs. Radigan! The
soldier's broad back was toward her, but she could see the two heads
together and hear Miss Klapper's musical laugh and the Englishman's
joyous "Aw." For a moment she stared at them in amazement; then
gathered up the scattered pages of "The Calf Worshippers," arose and
exclaimed, "Come girls, it's high time to dress for dinner. I see
Carrie and Hethy just coming in."

"Jolly girl, Miss Klapper?" said Lord Algernon to me as we were going
upstairs together toward the bachelor quarter of the house.

"From the West," said I.

"Are all your Western girls beautiful?" inquired he gravely.

"All that are asked to visit in the East are," I answered. "Or else
rich. The others marry at home."

"Miss Klapper is, of course, rich?" said his Lordship in an offhand way
as he polished his monocle.

"Milwaukee," said I. "Klapper's Extra Pale."

"Aw," said he cheerfully.

"But she has no family." I thought it best just to tell him that.

"Family?" said he in a puzzled way. "Do you have them in America?"

"One or two," said I. "But they are nearly all buried now."

The Guardsman paused at his own door.

"She is certainly stunning," he mused. "Lovely face; charming figure;
eyes fairly crackle; and clever, very clever. You say she comes from
Klapper's Extra Pale? Aw."

He softly closed the door.

I saw then that Mrs. Radigan was right. Captain Lord Algernon Fitznit
is clever, but in the English way. All those hours when he seemed to
be listening attentively to ideas on life and art he was really taking
stock of Miss Klapper and making an eye at her through his monocle. And
all those hours when she was sitting alone with her cards, demurely,
as became a girl just out of school, knitting her pretty brow over
the puzzle they presented, she had been conscious of it, charmingly
conscious, and had kept her dark eyes intent on the knaves in the
pack--except now and then.

Mignonette has just been finished. They finish them well, nowadays,
in our schools; polish them up so not a rough spot shows. She had
"gentlemen friends" a few years ago. Now she is somewhat wiser. But
in New York she can boast only a few acquaintances, and those on
Riverside Drive, in Harlem, and in Brooklyn. Therefore, says Mrs.
Radigan, she is a person you ought not to know; in herself she may not
be objectionable, but when we take people up we should not look at them
so critically as at their friends, who number more, and may try to
come into our lives in hordes. But Pearl Veal has stood by Mignonette.
They went to school together, and though she has a trained laugh and a
finished smile, and all those other accomplishments that girls learn
at school to unfit them for good society, she is Pearl's oldest friend
and will attend her at her wedding, attend her alone. Announcing that,
Pearl's foot went down and Mrs. Radigan gasped, for she had already
intimated to Marie Antoinette Williegilt, Marian Speechless, and one
or two other young women one should know, that they would be called
on to be bridesmaids. Beaten there, Mrs. Radigan sought consolation
in Lord Algernon. And as now that gallant Guardsman is making an eye
through his monocle at the person one ought not to know, it looks as
though Mrs. Radigan will have to console herself with Green of my old
boarding-house, who comes down to-morrow and is to be my best man.
Green is my oldest friend, but I must confess I am nervous about him.
In all probability this is the first week-end he ever spent, and he
is likely to appear at Westbury in a topper and frock-coat, and it is
two to one that he will talk about the latest "show," and festoon a
watch-chain across his dress waistcoat. But I have known him for years,
while with Williegilt Bumpschus, who was pressed on me by Mrs. Radigan,
I have only a passing acquaintance.



CHAPTER XXV

_Pearl Veal and I_


Pearl's new car is a wonder. It picked us up last Tuesday at the
Westbury house, gathered us in with a shower of rice and old shoes.
With a fiendish roar it started, but all the devils went out of it with
a siss and a bang, and by the time we had swung through the gate it
was going sweetly and swiftly, so softly that we seemed to be borne on
the wind that swept over the plain, so quickly that, did the road hold
straight and hard and smooth, we could circle the world in a day. How
we flew! Constables shouted from the fences, but we outsped the sound
of their voices. Horses shied into ditches, and drivers called down
maledictions; but when Pearl Veal is abroad in her car you hear just
the rustle of the angels' wings and see nothing. At Jamaica a mounted
policeman thought that he saw something, put spurs to his steed, came
clattering down the road in chase, yelling fiercely, and the answer
was a wild scream of the horn as we shot around a corner and knew him
no more. She cut across three funerals just to show that she was not
superstitious, then almost cost us all our lives to save a dog from
being flattened under the wheels.

"Madam," said Gascan, the chauffeur, with a tremble even in his voice,
"they will catch us at the ferry."

"We will go by the bridge, then," was the quiet answer. "It will take
but a few minutes longer."

So by the bridge we came, losing ourselves in the mazes of the East
Side and ending forever all chances of pursuit; turning at last
sedately into the avenue and picking our way uptown through the crush
of carriages that block the way on a bright spring afternoon.

"Why, we have been over an hour from Westbury," she said, glancing at
the clock on the Brick Church tower.

That is the way we have been travelling for a week--flying. Sometimes
Gascan, the silent, takes the wheel, and we roll easily along at legal
speed, not at all to keep within the absurd law, but to quiet our
nerves with a smoke, to rest our eyes on the blue sky and the stately
clouds, and our ears with the music of the wood and meadow. Then Pearl
will take command, Pearl, all goggled and armored, all enwrapped in
dust cloth and ashes till she would seem an animated mummy instead of
the fairest girl in town. With her eyes intent on the road, intent on
the spot a mile ahead where we are to be an instant later, and mine
intent on her as she sits beside me, strong, alert, resourceful, we
go at top speed, a mad pace, for miles and miles and miles, running
away from the law and the world. We forget them all, all the Mints and
Bumpschuses, the Wherrys and Lites, the Nocastles and Nothinghams, all
the smart folk and noble folk with whom God and Mrs. Radigan have
seen fit to cast our lot in the past few years. Sometimes we forget
even John and Sally, but that is only in the excitement of the road
when we are hurling ourselves over hill and valley. When evening comes
and Gascan has unloaded the car, and dinner comes, and Pearl and I sit
over coffee and a cigarette, she will blow a smoke ring and say, as she
watches it rise into the darkness: "I wonder what Sally is doing now."

"Reading her novel to Lord Algernon Fitznit," I will venture.

"Or to Green," Pearl will say with a quiet smile.

"Or preparing for Newport," I will suggest.

"And planning the donkey-dinner," Pearl will laugh.

"She was to give a fair for the hospital, you may remember," I say,
"and she told me distinctly that she proposed to spend almost all her
time in church-work."

"After the racing season," Pearl explains. "You know she has started
a stable with Constance Wherry, and promises to give to the church all
she makes in the ring."

"Their colors?" I inquire.

"Gold," Pearl answers; "all gold with narrow silver hoops--and the
horses entered by 'Mr. Nagidar,' the new firm's name and 'Radigan'
backward."

Then I will raise my glass and clink it gently over the table with
Pearl's. "To Mr. Nagidar, success," I say.

A sip. Up go the glasses again, and I suggest: "To Mrs.
Radigan--yesterday in Kansas City, to-day the smartest woman in town,
to-morrow the patron saint of Society."

"But Sally was never so enthusiastic over you," Pearl says, resting her
chin on her clinched fists as she leans on the table and smiles at me.
"Remember Plumstone Smith and the Duke of Nocastle--even Captain Lord
Algernon Fitznit."

"I prefer to forget them," I exclaim, "and will remember only that but
for Mrs. Radigan I should never have met Pearl Veal!"

"Ve-al," Pearl corrects me laughingly. "Thank Heaven, I have at last
got rid of that dreadful name. People simply would not help me out with
the French pronunciation."

"Names are made in heaven--like marriages," I aver, lighting a cigar.

"The same insight into human needs is shown in both cases," Pearl
declares. "But, anyway, I could change mine."

"And, thank Heaven, not to Smith nor to Fitznit," I murmur devoutly.

"Thank Heaven," says she. And she raises her glass and murmurs softly,
"To Us!"

Then we forget the Radigans again, the Mints and the Bumpschuses, the
Nocastles and the Fitznits, and all those tiresome folk. Sometimes
letters follow us, and when they start in time and follow fast they
catch us and for a while drag us back again to home and friends. To-day
we had quite a batch of them, mostly from Mrs. Radigan, with one from
Mignonette Klapper announcing her engagement to Captain Lord Algernon
Fitznit, and a marked paper containing a picture of the Guardsman and
his fiancée, and telling all about the romance that began at the Long
Island house. I must confess I can see nothing romantic in the match,
for the giant soldier seemed to have too plain sailing; did nothing,
just eyed Mignonette through his monocle while Mrs. Radigan read to
him, as he smoked and sipped Scotch, and the girl played solitaire
so innocently. Then he proposed and she took him, and that is the
end of it. I suppose they arranged it the day of our wedding, for he
was to leave Westbury next morning and she to start that night for
her Milwaukee home. But she stayed over, announced the engagement at
breakfast, and took him West to show to the family.

"Her conduct was horrid," wrote Mrs. Radigan to Pearl. "It makes my
blood boil to think that all those hours when I was reading my novel
to him, he was flirting with that little minx. I told you from the
first that this is what you might expect if you persisted in your
friendships with people you ought not to know. Now she will go to
London and, with her money and his family, will be in the thick of the
Court set and in prime shape to snub me back if I do not cringe. Her
conduct the day of the wedding was dreadful, though I suppose you were
too busy to notice it. She kept him trailing after her all day long,
when he should have been attentive to Marian Speechless and Clarissa
Mudison and Gladys Tumbleton, and all those nice girls who have been
so kind to him since he came over. He simply ignored them and followed
her around wherever she went, like a little dog, and after you had gone
away in the car the two of them slipped out for a long walk and never
got back till nearly dinner-time. The first I heard of the engagement
was late in the evening, when, thinking no one was there, I happened to
look into the library."

"Poor Sally!" said Pearl as she laid down the letter. "She will never
forgive me for having a quiet wedding."

"A quiet wedding!" I cried. "What is a quiet wedding?"

My mind, of course, went back to the dreadful day--or three days, for
the trouble began on Saturday--when the house filled with people and
there was no rest till that afternoon, when we jumped into the car
amid a shower of rubbish and flew away. There was all the worry about
Green, enough to break down any man, particularly as there was no need
of it, after all. He is my oldest friend, so I did want him to stand by
me at that trying time, but, of course, he knows only queer people and
I was sure he would behave like a fish out of water. But Green proved
wonderful. He has picked up a lot of things in the past year, has quite
changed his style of dressing, and as he is a handsome fellow, he got
along splendidly with everybody, told some new stories, cleaned up
considerable at bridge, beat Radigan at billiards, and killed a long
Sunday evening for us with an improvised musicale, in which he and Miss
Klapper did everything, except that Lord Algernon sang a drinking-song.
The Count and Countess Poglioso Spinnigini invited him to visit them
in Italy when they return there ten years hence; Marian Speechless got
him promised for a week-end in June; Stuyve Mint asked him to go out to
the races on their coach next week, and as for Mrs. Radigan, I heard
her distinctly introduce him to Mrs. Hegerton Humming as the "most
brilliant man I know."

Pearl looked up from another letter: "Sally writes that she has asked
'that lovely Mr. Green' to Newport in August," she said, handing the
note across the table for my inspection.

So I pinched myself to make sure that it was I, as I have pinched
myself a dozen times in the past week when my mind has gone back to
the old days in the boarding-house and to that dreadful real-estate
time. And here is Green, my friend Green, yesterday in a hall bedroom,
to-day spending week-ends, to-morrow being toted around Newport as the
most "brilliant man Mrs. Radigan knows," which can only mean the most
brilliant in all the town. Green was splendid. Even she approved of
him, and there were few things about that wedding which did meet her
approbation.

I cannot see why Mrs. Radigan was disappointed, except that the
Bumpschus-Nocastle affair overshadowed it, as it did all other of the
season's functions. It was small. They say it was quiet. It certainly
was smart, for, except for Miss Klapper and Green, only those worth
knowing were asked, some four hundred all told, of whom perhaps a
half came down on a special train, and it took every trap in the
neighborhood to get them over to the house. Well could Mrs. Radigan
view with pride that assemblage beneath her roof, when the orchestra
struck up the wedding-march and Radigan led Pearl Veal through that
splendid company, down the aisle they had formed to the rosy bower
where stood two bishops and a half-dozen other of the clergy, where I
stood with Green. Mint and Bumpschus, Williegilt and Wherry, Hegerton
and Humming--every great name in the city was there. Every railroad
had sent its representative; every street-car line and bank; every
race-track and towing company--even some medicines and breakfast-foods.
These were the proudest of the city. These were the great folk of the
land. Yesterday none knew her. Yesterday some snubbed her. To-day they
journey miles to see her sister married, not because they are very
interested, but because she is a power and it is well to be there; they
call her Sally and her husband Jack; they throw rice at her sister and
old shoes at me in an outburst of affection. Is it a wonder that I
pinch myself to make sure that it is I?

And of the future, what? Shall we climb higher or shall we fall? Higher
we cannot climb, but of a fall I have little fear, while the money
lasts. To-morrow the Radigans will be old and conservative, and Sally
will be content with four houses and one small dance a year, will honor
her friends with a card handed in by the footman, will head the list of
patronesses of all charities, and spend Lent in a retreat. New Radigans
will rise, Radigans with more money and more brains and more push. For
the Radigans of to-day are the Bumpschuses of to-morrow and the Van
Rundouns of the day after. Then they disappear in the great human sea
of those who are not worth knowing.



CHAPTER XXVI

_In which Mr. Mudison in His Memoirs Gives Us Some Insight into Mrs.
Radigan's Shattered Romance_


My own story lies unfolded in my fragmentary record. As I glance back
over my pages so leisurely scribbled it seems as though the great
events of my life had been squeezed into two years. A man's romance
ends when he is married--generally. After that he may be happy, but
existence is humdrum. I am floating on placid waters, flowing gently,
carrying me easily along, sometimes into the shadow of rugged,
threatening shores, but always out again into the delicious calm and
sunshine. Some day, weary even of the little paddling, I shall sink.
That will complete my history, but others must record it. For myself
and of myself I shall write no more.

Into my pages, however, there have come others whose lives I should
like to follow. Pearl says that, written, they would make dull reading.
Possibly. Still it would seem that were Marian Speechless to disclose
the inwardness of her intrigue to capture Williegilt Bumpschus and
his millions we should have a narrative full of humor and pathos. We
shall never know that story, even if it reaches a happy conclusion, for
it will be told to the world in a notice of an engagement and a few
newspaper paragraphs concerning the wedding. Gay Cecil Hash is an ideal
hero, and his affair with the lovely Sunday-school teacher, his reform,
his marriage, and withdrawal from worldly gayety would delight the most
romantic reader. That book is closed. So with scores of others. But in
one thing I feel that I have been fortunate--Mr. Mudison's memoirs have
been rescued from oblivion. Aside from their interest as the story of
a famous man and their historical value, I find that they round out my
own pages, clearing up many points left obscure by my limited range of
observation. His name occurs frequently in the notes made during the
summer following my wedding, most conspicuously in August, when Mrs.
Radigan, in a letter to Pearl, tells how she has refused him positively
for the sixth and last time, for the simple reason that she still loves
John devotedly. Then Mr. Mudison for a while disappears from our life,
and though through the fall and winter I heard many rumors concerning
him, I did not get at the truth until I undertook for him the task of
editing his memoirs.

A glance at the _Social Register_ gives at once an idea of the
importance of my friend. After his name we find these extremely smart
hieroglyphics: T., C., Cm., P., Wh., B., H., Ex., Sr., Sm., H. '90.
This, of course, as everyone knows, means that his clubs are the
Ticktock, the Cholmondeley, the Cosmopolitan, the Ping-pong, the
Westbury Hunt, the Boxing, the Horseback, and the Exudo. Besides,
he is a member of the Sons of the Rebellion and the Society of the
Mexican War, while the last abbreviation stamps him a man of Harvard
education. So Mudison is worth knowing. The greatest figures in the
financial world, the political powers of the country, the artistic
and literary celebrities, deem it a matter of pride to be seen in his
company, for he is what so many millions strive to be and only a few
hundred are--he is tremendously smart. I do not use the word in its
vulgar sense. Mudison does not know a Greek root from an X-ray, but
his family has been prominent in New York for fifty years, and its
founder, the sheriff of the name, left a fortune that, though divided
and subdivided, suffices to keep my friend in clothes and clubs.

The memoirs of such a man are of immense value, as they give to
posterity an intimate picture of the life of his day, which, after all,
is vastly more important than accounts of battles and Presidential
elections. But I do not for an instant suppose that Mr. Mudison, in
those hours between his morning coffee and his breakfast at the
Ping-pong Club, when he scribbled his fragmentary accounts of his
adventures, had any idea that he was rendering a service to future
generations. He was simply killing time. In truth, there is much in his
notes that is trivial, even much that might be called worthless. But
there is a great deal that will be of immense interest, dealing as it
does with some of the most important social events of the day. A part
of this it has been my good fortune to gather together in more lasting
form than his scattered pages, and with a few corrections in spelling
and grammar it has been prepared for future study.

       *       *       *       *       *

I am just back from a most charming week-end at R. Timpleton Duff's
in Westchester, and, upon my word, I do not know whether I am glad or
sorry that I went. My appetite this morning was completely satiated
with half a roll and a cup of coffee, so I think that instead of going
to the club I shall take a stroll in the park and ponder it all over.

Confound women, anyway! A man should never let himself be caught
straying from within call of the avenue. There only is he safe. You
meet women in town, but you never get to know them. It is on these
infernal house-parties that they depend. There it is that they get
you off in a corner and talk to you about your hopes and ambitions,
discover that they agree with you exactly on the latest plays and
novels, reveal to you their own unhappiness and their belief in the
hollowness of life as it is at present. It always takes me a week to
recover my appetite after a house-party, and I vow that each one will
be my last. But Mrs. Duff is artful. She knows me of old. She never
writes, lest she give me an opportunity to think up an excuse. She
calls me on the 'phone, and asks if I have anything to do to-morrow,
and being taken by surprise and fearing to betray myself by a quaver in
my voice, I stupidly say no. There I am caught! A few hours later down
she comes in a car, and I am whirled away at a forty-mile-an-hour clip
to Restabit-- I think that is the name of their place.

As is usual when you go by car and your luggage by rail, my bag did
not arrive in time for dinner, and I had to array myself in one of
Timpleton's old suits, which fit so abominably that Mrs. Underbunk,
evidently thinking me a servant, swept proudly by when we met in the
hall. This, of course, made a huge joke when I followed her into the
drawing-room and was formally presented.

A charming woman! She might be twenty-five; she might be fifty. Yet
there is no evidence of art about her. She is a simple little thing,
with bright eyes, and a figure that she sets off very well in a black
gown all shimmery with spangles, and a snappy little waist with narrow
ribbons for sleeves. She let me drape over her shoulders a gauzy
network shawl to keep off the cold, and then tucked her arm snugly
under mine and was led in to dinner. My hostess was at my left, and she
whispered to me that Gladys, as she called her, had been the wife of
Joshua Underbunk, who has since married Amy Lightly, the prima donna
of the "Whoop-de-doodle" company. Mrs. Duff said it was awfully sad,
but, glancing at my companion, I confess I could not see but that she
was bearing up well. She was talking gayly to the literary fellow on
her right. The Duffs, you see, have a penchant for queer people. The
Tommy Tattlers, of course, are nice, as are Harry Pumley and Sally
Bilberry, but where they ever raked up that Miss Sapper, the artist,
and Julius Hogginson Fairfield, is beyond me. Mrs. Duff told me over
oysters that Fairfield was awfully clever, and had written "The Smash,"
the heaviest-selling novel of the day. He had been taken up by the
Twitters, who rather pride themselves on not being exclusive. I have
no personal objection to literary people and their kind, but it is
so seldom that they know anything. Fairfield, for instance, did not
understand that he was to talk half the time to Mrs. Tommy Tattler, and
give me a chance with Mrs. Underbunk. Instead, he took up her entire
dinner, telling her how he happened to write "The Smash," and what a
poor book it really was, and how the public had greatly over-estimated
its literary worth. Once I began to give her my famous story of the
Irishman in the diving-bell, and he had to break in and engage her
eyes, her smile, and all her attention, leaving me to discuss stocks
with Harry Pumley, across Mrs. Duff.

My revenge and my chance came later in the evening, when we sat down
to bridge, and Fairfield by a strange fate cut Mrs. Underbunk for a
partner, against myself and Sally Bilberry, who depends on cards for
her clothes. Mrs. Underbunk announced that she never played for money,
which I admire immensely in her, for I don't think that women who are
living on alimony should gamble. Julius Hogginson Fairfield gallantly
said that he would carry her, and asked how she discarded. She did
not know. I saw him flush, and his hand trembled as he led. But to me
his partner was tremendously pretty and ingenuous in her game. It
was delightful the way she protested after she had revoked and Miss
Bilberry sternly claimed three tricks. Her apologies were charming
after we had doubled Fairfield's no-trump make and she had doubled
back, allowing us to run up a score of 288 points. At the end of two
rubbers the author looked very warm. His collar and shirt-front had
wilted completely. Having shared with Sally Bilberry a considerable
part of the royalties from "The Smash," I was lucky enough to cut out
with Mrs. Underbunk to let in Mrs. Duff and Pumley.

When, an hour later, they called to us in our secluded corner of the
library that it was our turn to take a hand, the dear woman replied
that she had a headache and really did not care to play, and I, for my
part, vowed that bridge bored me to death. So we talked on. I must say
that I was at my best. She was tremendously interested in everything,
and seemed to enjoy having me explain how we bought stock on margins,
and hearing about the time I was arrested for over-speeding my
car, and of the coup I made at the Brooklyn Handicap last year. We
got on tremendously. At first we thought it strange that we had not
met before, as her former husband and I belong to the same clubs,
but then she has been living abroad and has but lately returned.
Curiously enough, we found that we had the same tastes in everything.
She is devoted to riding and motoring and yachting. She is fond of
the theatre, and abhors German opera. She loves literature, and was
delighted when I promised to send her a batch of new detective-stories
I recently picked up at my bookseller's. Then she is very strict in
her religious views, a quality which I greatly admire in her sex, and
I must confess that, as I peeped out of the window in the morning and
saw her alone climbing into the trap and driving off to church at White
Plains, I roundly cursed myself for sleeping so late and promising to
ride with Mrs. Tommy Tattler before luncheon.

But we go through fire to victory. In the afternoon a drive down to
the Country Club for tea gave me an opportunity on the quiet to propose
to her a little theatre-party next week, with supper at Flurry's, and
at bridge in the evening I actually insisted on carrying her, thereby
in three rubbers losing to Tommy Tattler and Sally Bilberry all I had
taken from Julius Hogginson Fairfield, with quite a sum more. But I
have a good tip on Kalabash, second preferred, and can afford to be
reckless. Love does make us reckless, and I suppose this is love. Of
course these attacks never amount to anything as long as a man keeps
his head when he loses his heart. I have ever managed to hold on to
my head. The trouble with most men is that they think that death or
matrimony is the only cure for heart-trouble. They succumb at the first
attack.

A little experience would teach them better, but they never gather it.
I know how it has always been with me. For example, now as always,
there will be a loss of appetite, a few books and flowers, the
theatre-party, and perhaps another week-end down on Long Island or at
Exudo.

Then I shall, as of old, run over my accounts and see that to marry I
should have to resign from half my clubs, for, of course, I could not
live on alimony. Then some day I'll smoke it all off. A headache, and
love's old dream will have vanished.

Still, I agree with Mrs. Timpleton Duff. Some of us came down to town
in her car to-day, and when we had left Mrs. Underbunk at the Holland
House and were heading uptown, my hostess said to me, "Isn't Gladys a
dear?"

"Thoroughly charming," said I. "Tremendously jolly."

"I wanted you so to meet her," said she. "I knew you would find each
other so congenial. Gladys has brains."

So I am off for a stroll alone in the park.



CHAPTER XXVII

_Mr. Mudison Gives a Theatre-party for Mrs. Underbunk_


'Twixt love and clubs--oh, dreadful state! A week ago I was boasting
that with a few flowers and books, a theatre-party, and a week-end or
two all would be over. To-day I know that I have never been in love
before; that I have only hovered on the borders of the dismal swamp;
that now I am in the mire. My appetite has forsaken me entirely; I find
no pleasure in my cigars, and the other day I actually gave up drinking
because I believed that it was morally wrong. If this regeneration
keeps up I shall become the worst bore in town. The deuce of it is
that I find myself in a condition--in an indescribable condition. The
nearest approach to a diagnosis of my case is to say that were I again
confronted with the possibility of falling in love I should avoid it,
but being in love, all the money in the world would not make me change
my mood. Curiously, the reverse definition works just as well--I would
give everything to be free, but free, would not avoid another capture.
Strange! No wonder so many other well-known men have been made fools by
women! Why, I find myself doing all kinds of absurd things--then just
laugh. Tuesday morning I spent figuring from how many clubs I should
have to resign in order to make my income meet the expenses of a wife.
It was worse than squaring the circle, for no man is more unfortunate
than he who has a fixed income of $20,000 a year, with no business in
which to increase it; for sooner or later he will be confronted with a
demand that he give up his comfort or his happiness. It is a problem
to stagger any well-balanced person. So I am taking long walks, alone,
at unheard-of hours, just yesterday appearing on the Avenue at eleven
o'clock in the morning. Could I blame Mrs. Timpleton Duff for smiling
as she drove by?

When I had typhoid they gave me cold baths to reduce the fever. Well,
in the last few days I have had enough chills to bring me back to a
normal life. Instead, I grow worse, and I see no end, no peace, except
in that matrimonial bourne whence so comparatively few men return. Of
that I am convinced. It was impressed on me with double force when I
dropped in at the Ticktock Club the other afternoon to have a cup of
tea. Whom should I find eying me over a paper but Joshua Underbunk, a
man for whom I have never cared, since, though a captain of industry,
he has not an idea in his head except on pig-iron and pictures. But
as there were some things I wanted to know, I was pleasant, and in
return he was most affable, principally, I suspect, because he is up
for membership in the Cholmondeley Club, where some objection has been
raised to him by the High-Church set. After casual remarks on things in
general, I said, rather adroitly, "By the bye, I had the pleasure of
meeting Mrs. Underbunk at a house-party last week."

"Indeed!" said he, looking rather surprised. "Her company was playing
in Boston, I thought."

Naturally that was rather a blow to me, but it seemed best to have it
over, so I explained boldly, "I mean Mrs. Gladys Underbunk."

"Oh," said he laughing, "not the present Mrs. Underbunk, then. I should
like very much to have you meet her. But how is----"

He hesitated, and seeing that he was at loss how to designate
delicately his relation to my delightful friend, I promptly interposed:
"She is very well. A charming woman."

"A charming woman!" cried Mr. Underbunk, without a trace of
insincerity. "I heard that she was in this country. She has been living
at San Moritz, but I believe she ran over to see our eldest boy at
Harvard."

My mind tumbled back to typhoid time. This was the cold plunge
that failed to reduce my fever. The eldest boy at Harvard! Joshua
Underbunk's tone indicated a half-dozen more somewhere else, yet I
found myself actually making excuses for the woman.

Calmly, with no emotion whatever, I said, "She did not mention the
children, that I remember."

"They are a delightful lot," said Mr. Underbunk nonchalantly. "I am
sorry I cannot see more of them, but her lawyers send me quarterly
reports of their health and financial needs."

His expression "a delightful lot" would more than have justified me in
calling off the theatre-party that evening and pleading severe illness,
and as I walked homeward I seriously contemplated such a step, but the
end of an hour found me despatching my man Jangle to the Holland House
with a note reminding Mrs. Underbunk of the engagement. Moreover, "the
delightful lot" were entirely forgotten when later I stood before her,
before the simple little woman, the woman of that most attractive of
all ages, the undefinable; the frank, the demure, the vivacious soul;
and, most of all, calling especially for my sympathy, the neglected.
That Mrs. Underbunk had suffered, that she had children, that she had
been forsaken, made her trebly attractive to me in my highly sensitive
state. She is thoroughly conventional without being wooden; pious, but
not priggish. I do like to see a regard for the outward forms of life,
and that she insisted that her maid chaperon us to the theatre, a few
blocks away, served to raise her higher in my estimation. To some it
might seem that she was a trifle over-particular, but a once-married
woman has to be very careful.

Of all the plays for me to have chosen, "The Smash" was the worst.
It was the first night, and the present Mrs. Underbunk, formerly Amy
Lightly, of the "Whoop-de-doodle" company, was making her début in
the legitimate drama; so, eying us from the dark recesses of the box
across the house was Joshua himself. My mind reverted to that Mrs.
Topper-Tompkins who last summer invaded Newport from Chicago, and had
Jack Tattler to dinner with both Mrs. Bobbie Dingingham and Mrs. Willie
Timpleton. These things will happen nowadays, and we must expect them
and make the best of them. Mrs. Underbunk carried herself beautifully,
and even went so far as to applaud Amy Lightly very generously. The
others in our box noticed it, and when she was not looking they would
get their heads together and discuss her conduct with enthusiastic
admiration. The Tommy Tattlers, of course, knew her, but Winthrop
Jumpkin, 7th, and Constance Twitter had only heard of her. Jumpkin, by
the way, is a new friend of mine, a very decent fellow, though poor;
being from Boston, and tracing his ancestry without a break to the
Puritan who did not come to this country in the _Mayflower_. I had
asked him to match Miss Twitter, but he did not seem to appreciate
the opportunity I had given him to meet many millions, and talked
incessantly to Mrs. Underbunk, leaving me entirely to Mrs. Tattler.
Finally, by getting him nervous about his fur overcoat I engineered
myself into his chair, so when he returned to report the precious
garment safe, I was too deeply engrossed to notice that I had evicted
him.

This was between the acts, of course, during the storm of calls for the
author. To my astonishment, who should come on the stage but Julius
Hogginson Fairfield, the play being only a dramatization of his great
historical novel.

Mrs. Underbunk clapped wildly. "Don't you remember him?" she whispered,
as he was making the usual author's speech refusing a laurel-wreath.
"He is the clever man we met at the Duffs'."

"Ah," said I, pretending that it had just occurred to me. "The fellow
with the queer shoes and the three mother-of-pearl studs."

"Society," said she prettily, "should make allowances for genius."

"Genius," said I, "should make allowances to society. The best nine
tailors living cannot fit a genius. Is there any pall on a properly
conducted social function like the entrance of a man who wears
congress gaiters and mother-of-pearl studs?"

"Ah, Mr. Mudison, you should look at the brain," she protested, shaking
her fan at me.

"But the brains should be well served," said I. "Why should we always
have to have them garnished with hair, with lay-down collars, with awry
coats?"

"It is true," she answered, after a moment of thought. "I should not
care to have them around all the time, but occasionally they give
variety."

As Julius Hogginson Fairfield was in that part of his speech where he
leaves his work to posterity to judge, I could not help continuing
for a time this line of speculation, as it gave me an opportunity to
explain to Mrs. Underbunk the hollowness of certain kinds of fame which
she was evidently inclined to acclaim.

"It must be splendid," she said, "to really do something yourself; to
achieve something with your own intellect and hands; to stand with
your head just a bit above the common herd."

"Yes--if you are common," said I. "Fame is attractive to the masses. If
you cannot be smart, be famous."

"And do you not envy Mr. Fairfield?" said she, looking at me in a
puzzled way, "a man whose books are the best sellers of the year, who
at this moment is taking his place among the leading playwrights of the
time."

"No," I answered, following up my advantage. "To-day he is a celebrity;
to-morrow they will give a theatrical benefit for him; the day after,
his obituary notice will be cut by the newspapers to make room for a
bucket-shop advertisement. But the names of the great cotillon-leaders
are on every tongue as long as they can stay on their feet."

I think Mrs. Underbunk is being converted to my ideas. Of course
she has been living abroad for a long time and does not altogether
understand our New York view of life, but I noticed that when Julius
Hogginson Fairfield stepped into the box to speak to us, she did not
give him that absorbed look which had so worried me at the Duffs'.
There was balm for him, though, in Constance Twitter's admiration. She
simply raved over him. She had "The Smash," and considered it one of
the greatest books she had ever read.

Just to show my own good-nature and my fearlessness of him, I invited
the author to come to Flurry's with us, but he had an engagement with
the other Underbunks.

There was a little trouble at supper, as Joshua's party took a table
right next to ours, but on a plea of draughts I managed to change to a
cozy corner far from this disagreeable company.

Everything passed off most delightfully. I had Mrs. Underbunk on my
right and Mrs. Tattler on my left, with Constance Twitter across the
table, between Tommy and Winthrop Jumpkin, 7th. Then I was in my best
form. Mrs. Underbunk responded splendidly. She seemed to have no end of
subjects of conversation, and never allowed any of those embarrassing
pauses, but skipped lightly from one topic to another, till we touched
life in its every phase.

Her maid was on hand to chaperon her back to the hotel, but it did seem
to me that as we parted at the elevator she held my hand longer than
convention absolutely required.

"I have learned much from you to-night," she said simply.

So this morning I am in high feather, though my appetite is as poor as
ever.

       *       *       *       *       *

A careful study of Mr. Mudison's pages, covering his life for some
weeks following, does not reveal much of vital interest. He deals
largely with matters that are purely personal. Here we find that he has
changed his breakfast-food; again, that he has discovered that gin and
champagne are not wholesome, and is keeping entirely to rye and plain
water. Later we learn that, with a handicap of thirty points, he won
the annual billiard tournament at the Ping-pong Club. His comments on
the houses at which he has dined and on the people he has met there,
are sometimes interesting as bits of gossip, but we are dealing only
with matters of larger interest in his life. Such is his account of
Roardika's début as _Isolde_, which forms the next chapter of his
edited memoirs.



CHAPTER XXVIII

_Mr. Mudison Sees Mrs. Underbunk at the Opera_


I feel very happy to-day for two reasons. Firstly, as my rector says,
I have full particulars about the "delightful lot," being informed
that they number but three, two small boys besides the Harvard man,
for all of whom Joshua provides liberally. Secondly, I have learned
that Mrs. Underbunk was the aggrieved party; that Joshua had the
bad temper; that the South Dakota courts forbade him to marry again
in that State. Immediately on receipt of this information I sent an
armful of American Beauties to the Holland House, and yesterday morning
one of her characteristic little notes brought her thanks. Then she
expressed her regret that she would miss seeing me that evening, as
she understood that I was going to the theatre with the Trimmings,
and she had an opera engagement with the Stynes. Where did she get to
know those people? They have been long regarded as simply impossible.
I understand that they are Episcopalians now, but that they formerly
had "berger" at the end of their name, and but recently took to the
"y." However, they are enormously rich, having made their money in
my favorite breakfast-food, but it will take them a few years to get
in. Mrs. Underbunk is entirely too good-natured. She says that they
are interesting; but evidently her life abroad has blinded her. She
thinks because they hobnobbed with royalty they will be received here
at once, and she does not realize that they must first serve a term
at Southampton and Bar Harbor, and then have a season of snubbing at
Newport. She even went so far as to ask me to do something for them--to
call, or drop in at their box at the opera. Of course I had to say that
I would, but I had no idea that I should be called on so soon to make a
public appearance with these climbers. However, it was my own fault.
Her note decided me. I pleaded a headache to the Trimmings, and by nine
o'clock had sufficiently recovered to wander over to the opera-house.

In social as well as military operations a reconnaissance is always
wise. I dropped in to speak to the Twitters first, and made a few
observations. I must admit that to the eye the Styne box was everything
that it should be. From the artistic point of view it was without a
flaw, for with two lovely women like young Mrs. Morgan Styne and Mrs.
Underbunk in the front, and such distinguished-looking men as Styne
and Julius Hogginson Fairfield whispering over-shoulder to them, they
were really conspicuous. In every way they seemed to have emphasized
their good taste and their ignorance of the customs of our society. I
saw an oasis. I saw a restful, quiet spot, surrounded by the glare of
the desert of jewels. From them my eyes wandered around the horseshoe,
wandered along that diamond-fronted row, now and again pausing to
rest on some familiar figure where a pathetic effort had been made
to secure with money what Nature had not given. I fear that Gladys
Underbunk is warping my view of life. Why, I actually found myself
admitting that young Mrs. Harry Garish, with her hair done in Merodish
fashion and intertwined with pearls to the value of a king's ransom,
was hopelessly plain. She poses as clever as well as smart, and so
affects Cleopatra costumes. Her elbow almost touched Mrs. Underbunk's
over the railing, and the comparison was such that I was simply
astonished that for so many years I had been one of her train. Mrs.
Garish was probably wondering where Gladys Underbunk had picked up such
friends. She would faint when she saw me joining the party. But I was
bold.

Without even waiting for the curtain to go up and the lights down, I
made my way between acts to the Styne box, and in the great red glare
that beats upon the parterre was presented to the ambitious Morgan and
his wife, shook hands effusively with Julius Hogginson Fairfield, and
sat down to whisper over the shoulders of Gladys Underbunk. It must
have made a great stir. I could see a score of glasses turned on us;
I could see great excitement among the Twitter clan over the way; I
could see Horatio Gastly direct the gaze of old Mrs. Plumstone to the
astounding scene. Evelyn Garish gave me a mechanical nod, and then
tried to look at the gallery. It was quite amusing. And as for the
Stynes, of course they were delighted and most cordial, and I must say
I was surprised to find them so decent. Morgan was dressed perfectly,
even to his one shirt-stud, and his wife is simply stunning; but when
I know them I shall advise her that even though she looks infinitely
better without jewels, at the opera, at least, she should decorate
herself if she wants to cut anything of a figure. Smart women make
their money sparkle, as old Gastly remarked to me at the club. Mrs.
Styne will probably be very smart after a few years. She has the means
to do it, but she would hurry things a bit if she gave up her ideas on
good taste; if she either looked startling or did something startling.
Both she and her husband, I found, spoke excellent English, as well as
half a dozen other languages, and seemed to know all about music and
art. Indeed, instead of being impossible persons, as I had heard, they
proved to be very much like other people; but, after all, it takes
only a generation and a half to make gentlefolk in this town. The old
families like the Mudisons and the Plumstones, who have been prominent
for a half-century, are likely to become very narrow. Still, as I
remarked to Mrs. Underbunk, society is made up of people who play, and
to have time to play you have to have money. If you have only brains,
you would probably rather kill time some other way.

Mrs. Underbunk said that I contradicted myself, for I had remarked some
time ago that if a man could not be smart he should be famous, to which
I replied that a great astronomer was happy in his observatory because
he had nothing else, and occasionally discovered a new star and got a
paragraph notice in the papers, while with an automobile, and the money
to run it properly and to subscribe to a clipping bureau, his vanity
would be tickled daily with column-accounts of his breaking records,
of his arrests for over-speeding, and his protests against the cruel
laws. Yet, I argued on, smartness was an intangible virtue. It was not
right to say that only by money could it be won, for there were in
society a considerable number of persons who seemed to lack everything,
even family, that most easily attained of all social virtues. There,
for example, was Horatio Gastly, dancing attendance on old Mrs.
Plumstone. He had only a few thousand a year, spent his days stretching
ticker-tape, his late afternoons at the Cholmondeley Club, and his
evenings in the smartest houses in town. He got into the Cholmondeley
simply because nobody had ever heard of him. A counterpart in the fair
sex was Sally Bilberry, who almost supported herself playing bridge.
She had sailed in on the tail of the Plasters' kite. It seems that
they owed her something, as old Mr. Plaster had at one time been her
father's gardener, and as she is always ready to make a fourth and
knows one or two awfully clever stories, she is quite a favorite.

"Ah, Mr. Mudison," said Mrs. Underbunk, "I fear you are a sad cynic."

"Not a cynic," said I. "On the contrary, I am rising as a defender.
Those who attack us most are those who have tried to get in and cannot."

"The bee scorns the butterfly," said she.

"Yet the butterfly's brain is as big as the bee's," said I, as quick as
a flash. Sometimes I quite surprise myself.

For a few moments Mrs. Underbunk was silent and seemed to be listening
to the music or the whispering in the next box. Roardika was making a
great hit in the scene in _Isolde's_ garden, and for a time even I was
content to listen silently. I have never been a devotee of Wagner, but
I must admit that there are spots in "Tristan" where the singing is
music, and I can lean back and enjoy it, with eyes closed to shut out
the absurd sight of the princess and her clandestine caller awakening
with melody the forest in which her husband is hunting. Gladys
Underbunk and I thoroughly agree. When Dumple began to make coins
disappear in the air to an accompaniment of "michs" and "dichs" and
"sichs," she turned to me and whispered, "Do you know, Mr. Mudison, I
sometimes wonder why a man of your lovable nature has never married."

"My bachelor vows have been strangely shaken of late," I whispered back.

Thereupon she chastised my knee delicately with her fan.

"Seriously?" she said.

"Seriously," said I. "I have often thought of marriage, but, you know,
I am one of those unfortunates who have been born to high place. In
me you see the apotheosis of the Mudison ambition for centuries. My
brothers all married for love, and have been forgotten. To me it
was left to uphold the family name, and to do it I have an income
sufficient to pay for my apartment in town and my visits to my friends
at Newport; to allow me a few luxuries like a horse or two and a car.
But I have to economize. Suppose I married? I see the decline of the
Mudisons. I see my fortune divided, say into three, and my children
compelled by our straitened circumstances to move in the dancing-class
set, their children going to the upper West Side, and our name
plastered beneath the speaking-tubes of the Ophelia and the Clarissa.
We owe something to posterity, so I had vowed that I should be the last
of the Mudisons."

By this time, _King Mark_, aroused by the singing, had reached the
garden, and _Sir Melot_ had mortally wounded _Tristan_ between the
right side and the arm. The curtain was down. The house was in
ecstasies, and Roardika and Dumple were seesawing to and fro across the
stage, showing their teeth in thanks.

"You notice that I said I had vowed," I whispered to Mrs. Underbunk.

"Ah," she cried, "fortunate Miss Twitter!" It is very clever the way
women have of seeming to try to sidetrack you when they want you to
keep on the main line.

But I am an old campaigner myself. The trout is never so beautiful
as when he is running away from the hook. "You flatter me," said I.
"Miss Twitter may be fortunate, but I know that at present I am the
most forlorn of mortals. Don't you notice how interested she seems in
Winthrop Jumpkin?"

Mrs. Underbunk raised her glasses and inspected Constance eagerly.

"She has a little color to-night," she said.

"That is one of her charms," said I, refusing her proffered glasses.
"It does enhance her beauty. Ordinarily, you know, she is rather of the
marble-statuesque style."

"A style men admire very much when it's fixed on a gold pedestal," said
Mrs. Underbunk. She had recovered her temper, and was smiling.

My heart was beating outrageously fast, and for my own preservation I
had about determined not to punish her further.

"I said that I had vowed," I began. But she suddenly became interested
in her glasses.

"Who are those people in the third box from that absurd-looking person
in red with a diamond coronet in her hair?" she said. "Everybody is
staring at them. You see the sad-looking little man sitting beside a
very tall, thin girl? That other, I suppose, is her mother--looks like
the old woman who went to market, only her gown has been snipped off
from the top."

"It's Mrs. Very," I answered, a bit nettled that Mrs. Underbunk had
become interested in others; but women are generally more than a match
for us. "The little man is the Earl of Less--the Verys have just bought
him. But I said I had vowed----"

She was most exasperating. Of course I knew that she was only playing
a game, but it angered me to be wasting these precious minutes between
the acts telling her who everybody was. By and by, however, she did
dismount from her high horse, and inquired sweetly, "You said you had
once vowed?"

Then that Julius Hogginson Fairfield had to switch from Mrs. Styne to
our side, and break in with a lot of nonsense about motifs, timbre,
and orchestration, none of which was of the slightest interest. Mrs.
Underbunk did manage to get rid of him by sending him over to tell
Constance Twitter that she would take luncheon with her to-day, but
from bad, things went to worse, and Horatio Gastly came bobbing in,
with Winthrop Jumpkin, 7th, at his heels. I seemed to have taken
down the yellow flag that had fluttered so long above the Styne box.
The intruders, in the confusion following their entrance, secured
the chairs by Mrs. Underbunk, and left me talking to Mrs. Styne, who
started in to make me commit myself to spend a week-end with them at
Westbury. By the time I had filled my Sundays for a month with previous
engagements I found myself getting rather entangled, and deemed it wise
to abandon the field to Gastly and Jumpkin. I have heard _Tristan_
die so often that there was no inducement to stay longer. But Gladys
Underbunk smiled as I made my flight, and whispered that she was
terribly jealous of Constance Twitter.

From the opera I went to the Flusters' small dance.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Mudison's papers for some days after this are taken up almost
entirely with denunciations of Winthrop Jumpkin, 7th, whom he considers
he has made, only to have him turn, hire a car, and take Mrs. Underbunk
for a spin to Exudo. This treachery Mr. Mudison discovered while on one
of his own wild rides, and for a week he abjured the world and kept to
his club sanctuary. A long-standing promise to lead the cotillon at
Mrs. Jack Twitter's small dance for her youngest daughter, Susanna,
compelled him to give up a monastic life, and it is with this important
event that the next part of his edited memoirs has to do.



CHAPTER XXIX

_Mr. Mudison Leads the Cotillon at the Twitters'_


I am feeling worn out to-day--utterly exhausted--and am registering all
kinds of vows that I shall never lead another cotillon--that is, after
I keep my promises to Mrs. Timpleton Duff, Jimmy Doily, and one or two
others. I thought last night that the Twitters' small dance would be
the end of me. In one of those solemn moments when death seemed very
near, when, in an effort to arrange a new figure, I was being trampled
on, and elbowed and hurled to and fro in the maelstrom, there flashed
to my mind the simple epitaph I would have on my tombstone: "He died
for Society." But I survived. What a seasoned veteran of these social
engagements I have become! Teas, dinners, operas, and dances--I seem
to move through them bearing a charmed life. I am a bit like Achilles
or Ulysses, that old Trojan hero, whoever he was, whose heel was his
only vulnerable spot, a fact which seems to have become known among
the younger set, for that was the target at which they all aimed. I
did not mind an elbow or two in the eye; I did not mind a blow over
the nose with a parasol-favor; I did not mind when Winthrop Jumpkin,
7th, who was trying to dance the Boston, struck me violently in the
small of the back with Sally Bilberry; but when Mrs. John Radigan,
who hops dreadfully, landed her two hundred pounds on my heel in some
indescribable fashion, everything seemed to swim before my eyes, and
for a minute I had difficulty in retaining my expression. Of course
there is some balm in seeing in to-day's paper, the one that prints
all the news that is worth reading, that Mr. Mudison led a delightful
cotillon, dancing with Miss Susanna Twitter, a statement which I
believe emanated from Mrs. Twitter's secretary, and was given out for
publication quite early in the afternoon. But, then, all cotillons
are delightful; all dinners delightful; everything that we do is
delightful. It is best to be optimistic. It is best to rave over this
boresome round of festivity when it is one's life.

Curious how Gladys Underbunk has warped my line of vision! More than
once last night I paused to step apart from the scene, to view it
from afar off, to think. It is a good thing to think sometimes. When
you do, you will be surprised at the ideas that will come into your
head. I don't believe I had ever really thought at a dance before, so
never before had there come to me even a suggestion of an element of
absurdity. It was not the people who were there that suggested it, but
the people who were not, and would have given a year of their lives
to be of that blessed company--the Morgan Stynes, who had moved Wall
Street to get a card and had failed; the Lanigans, who had succeeded
and were now whirling around an over-heated room, being bumped and
jostled and trampled on, yet deemed themselves happy. Still, I suppose
it is well to be seen at these very smart affairs. They are life to so
many that to be absent is a sign of a social decline, which, unless
checked by a few invitations, will lead to that graveyard of so many
hopes--the page of the Sunday papers that tells what the clubwomen are
doing.

Mrs. Twitter's dance was certainly very smart. She gives two every
year, and last night's was the first, the one to which she invites the
people she knows. To the next she will ask her list. So last night
there were about four hundred present. At the next I suspect there will
be just about that many absent, including myself. I fear the house will
burst, and I have no mind to run risks, and am more than satisfied that
to Williegilt Bumpschus will fall the task of bringing a cotillon out
of chaos.

What a lot of fuss it takes, anyway, to introduce a plain daughter
with millions! Still, I suppose the same is true everywhere and of all
classes, for as ice-cream and angel-cake are to the Brooklynite, so are
terrapin and champagne to our set. It is no more wasteful extravagance
for the Twitters to spend ten thousand in one night than for some
aspiring Harlemite to spread crash over the parlor floor and ruin the
stair-carpet with lemonade. That is exactly the way I put it to my
rector at the club the other day when he was inclined to complain of
the difficulty in getting subscriptions for new altar-cloths. I don't
suppose that he was at all influenced by my argument, but I noticed him
last night paying devoted attention to Constance Twitter, which caused
me to suspect that he might be contemplating giving up bachelor life
and becoming a benefice--I think that is the term. It would really be a
very sensible match, for Constance is intellectual, and could help him
with his little sermons on the travels of St. Paul and the needs of the
women's guild, and the rest of us might not have such continual calls
to supply new apparatus for the gymnasium. She is interested in him
too. I could see that at once. A collar buttoned behind has a wonderful
fascination for women.

I do not think that Susanna Twitter would make so good a clergyman's
wife as her sister, as she is rather more attractive and might do
better. Constance is one of those girls of whom her friends will say
"she is lovely when you get to know her." More than that can be claimed
for Susanna. It would even be unjust to class her as good-hearted. She
has neither face nor figure, but is just a great big hobble-de-hoy,
can play a man's game of tennis, and is studying jiu jitsu. In a few
years she will have a double chin and a beam. I like her immensely,
though I do wish she would not dance as though she were patting down a
tennis-court with her feet.

It is very delightful to read in the paper this morning that Mr.
Mudison led, dancing with the beautiful débutante. I suppose at this
very moment thousands of unfortunates who were not there are studying
the columns and columns that tell about it, and picturing Mr. Mudison
gliding airily about a brilliant ballroom, in his arms clasping a
slender fair-haired girl, with Grecian features and a marvellous
complexion; Mr. Mudison, delicately holding the tips of her slender
fingers, leading her gracefully through the intricate mazes of some
figure; Mr. Mudison, followed by flunkeys bearing gifts, priceless
gifts of paper parasols and pin-wheels; the music stilled at his beck;
at his call the dreamy strains again filling the room. A delightful
picture!

I do like Susanna Twitter immensely, but the rare times I danced
with her I entirely lost control, thanks to her having always been
accustomed to leading at boarding-schools, and I felt as though I
were clinging to a fly-wheel. It was on one of these mad careers that
Winthrop Jumpkin, dancing the Boston in a corner, hurled Sally Bilberry
violently against me, and a moment later Evelyn Garish's partner poked
his elbow in my eye. Susanna said that she could go on forever, and I
think she would have, for I do waltz well, but luckily Horatio Gastly
stepped on her bit of flying train, and before we could overcome
our momentum she had unravelled down one side of the room. We had to
retrace her gown, a dangerous task, as a dozen nimble feet had caught
it up, and seemed to resent my wild efforts to disentangle them.

The cotillon as a means of allowing the greatest possible number of
persons to dance in the least possible space is a failure. If we could
only have a few policemen to keep the stags in their proper place,
besides the detectives who see that no suspicious persons get in as
guests; if we could have laws making it petty larceny to "steal,"
and a misdemeanor to dance at a speed exceeding ten miles an hour,
then our germans might partake somewhat of the stately measure of the
olden time. Now we leaders are proud if we can preserve a semblance of
order, for, instead of conducting a chosen few through some graceful
manoeuvres, our chief duty is to shoo the invading hosts back to their
chairs; to dance with the lovely débutante, and manage a penny bazaar.
Still, everyone said that I did very well, considering the crush,
and they particularly praised the new figure which I got up out of
my own head. [We find here in Mr. Mudison's rough draught a diagram
which looks like a map of Port Arthur during the siege, but it is not
necessary to reproduce it, as he makes his terpsichorean invention
clear.] Forming the girls in the outer circle and the men in the
inner, standing in the middle myself, I made the two wheels revolve
rapidly in opposite directions, the men going backward. The result was
simply kaleidoscopic; dazzling, the on-lookers said, and not without
a humorous side, for there were several collisions, in one of which
the Earl of Less had his monocle broken. In the general shuffle-up of
partners, due to dizziness, there fell to me one of the most charming
girls I have met this winter, Wisteria Plumstone, who is just out,
and so has lost none of her good looks. I must confess the older I
get the more I like débutantes. They appreciate it thoroughly when I
dance with them. Wisteria smiled all over when she saw young Cackling
hunting for her at the other end of the room, and me approaching her
with wide-spread arms. She clung to me as if for protection, and,
contrary to my usual rule to go only once around the room with them, I
circled it four times. A sensible child too; she did not try to talk
further than to venture that the floor was too slippery, and that she
was having a lovely dance. Now, most girls of her age in their efforts
to say something, drive you mad with their disjointed comments on the
music and the people, and when they have learned to keep up a continual
chatter it is no small mental strain to hold your mind on their line
of thought, so as to chime in occasionally with something that would
indicate that you have been listening. However, when I was younger I
used to think that talking with these mere infants about the music
and the people, the last dance and the one to come, about that girl
in pink and the other in blue--I used to think that of such stuff a
divine time was made. The pretty débutante, fresh, unsophisticated,
self-conscious, is a delight to the eye of us old social adventurers,
but our minds demand something more. When I would dance with Wisteria
Plumstone I would take Gladys Underbunk in to supper.

But Mrs. Underbunk dances too--superbly. I found her in an exhausted
condition on her chair, with Horatio Gastly trying to fan her back
to life, and when she had recovered her breath and speech, she
explained that she had been dancing with the Earl of Less, who had
kept her revolving so rapidly in one direction that she had almost
lost consciousness. Dancing with Englishmen, she said, always gave her
exactly the same sensation as drowning, but never before had she come
so near the bottom. She had been about to go down for the third time
when Mr. Gastly thoughtfully bumped into Lord Less, throwing him all
out of step with the music, and giving her an opportunity to grasp a
chair for support and save herself. Horatio, of course, was claiming
his reward, but the delightful woman told him that she had promised it
to me, so as we glided around together, she every now and then giving
me one of those maddening glances out of the corner of her eye, I had
an opportunity to tell her how cut up I was when I went down with my
car to take her a spin last week and found that Jumpkin had whirled her
away in that dreadful old loco-sewing-machine. She did not say a word,
but looked down at her whirling feet, which was wonderfully encouraging.

At supper I continued on this line, becoming thoughtless and reckless,
as men will sometimes, and, positively, I think I should have made a
fool of myself before the bird was served if Evelyn Garish had not
burst in and asked Gladys where in the world she met those dreadful
Styne people, in whose box she had been at the opera the other night.
Mrs. Underbunk replied very quietly that she had just run across them
at a house-party at the Duke of Guile's place in Devonshire, last
winter. For a moment Mrs. Garish did not seem to have any breath left,
and made dough-balls convulsively. Then she said sharply that it was
high time the English realized that there were social distinctions in
this country, instead of treating those with one generation of American
gentlemen behind them with the same consideration as those who had
two or three. Mrs. Underbunk said simply that the Stynes were very
rich. She has a way of getting right at the heart of everything. But
that did not satisfy Evelyn. To get in, something more than mere money
should be required, said she, forgetting entirely that the Garishes had
been generally snubbed until the old man worked the corner in Western
Pacific. I supported Mrs. Underbunk nobly, and declared that I had
found the Stynes quite like other people, and would certainly go to the
dance they are to give soon at Flurry's. This made Mrs. Garish lose her
temper, and she turned abruptly and began to ask Jack Twitter if he had
an ace, queen, and seven-spot, which would he lead.

Gladys Underbunk gave me one of her grateful glances. She said that
she would go out in the car with me Saturday if I would promise to talk
sense. So I promised.

       *       *       *       *       *

As we read Mr. Mudison's fragmentary diary for some weeks we see how
evidently the old campaigner is being enmeshed by the simple little
Mrs. Underbunk. He frankly admits that he is in love, but he has been
in love a hundred times before. He frankly admits that never before
has his heart been so deeply affected. Curiously, he makes no mention
of Mrs. Radigan. He is happy in his unhappiness. He is not dreaming of
matrimony. It is evident that he has given it no thought, as he regards
it out of the question for a man of his small income and many clubs. He
does not want to win Mrs. Underbunk, for several times when the things
she says make it clear that he has only to ask, we find him hurriedly
turning the conversation to more serious matters; we see him abandoning
her for days while he whirls madly around the country in his car, or
sits for hours at the Ping-pong Club gazing despairingly into the
depths of his Scotch.

Mr. Mudison's conduct reminds one of the practice manoeuvres in the
army, where one division is pitted against another, each striving to
win a technical victory. He seeks by a series of masterly advances
to surround the charming Mrs. Underbunk, and to have her declared
his captive in theory. Then he would beat a hasty retreat. Poor
Mudison! There is something in his reference to her grateful glances,
her quiet smiles, her caustic retorts, that convinces us that the
warfare is real, and that it is he who is being enmeshed. The story
unconsciously unfolded by him is the same old one of love, and not
worth consideration where there is so much that is valuable, giving, as
it does, a picture of this well-known man and his time.

Mr. Mudison repeats himself a great deal. We find very much the same
reflections concerning Mrs. Radigan's small dance and Mrs. Duff's ball
at Flurry's as are scattered through his notes on the affair at the
Twitters'. So these are omitted from his edited papers to allow fuller
space for his account of his afternoon at the races with Mrs. Underbunk
and several other smart people.



CHAPTER XXX

_At the Races_


"Horse-racing is undoubtedly the sport of kings," I observed to
Mrs. Underbunk, as we sat on the club-house balcony at Morris Park,
yesterday.

"Undoubtedly," she said sweetly. "But kings, you know, are a pretty bad
lot."

Of course she did not really mean it, but she has a way of railing at
things just to be clever, yet it struck me that there might possibly
be some underlying sense in her remark. It was rather unfair of her,
however, as she had just cashed in on Morgan Styne's Sassafras at 10 to
1. When I suggested that she was a bit inconsistent, she retorted that
she had only a woman's passion for gambling.

"Last year I went to Nice for Lent, thinking it would be quiet down
there," she said. "As a result I lost six months' allowance at Monte
Carlo."

"You are safe here," said I laughing. "There are no wheels running in
New York. We do not allow gambling in this State."

She opened her blue eyes so wide that to escape their baneful influence
I ran away to the ring, ostensibly to put up a hundred for her at 7 to
1 on the Garish stable's Umbrella.

Now horse-racing may be the sport of kings, but I maintain that it is
still very respectable, and I have no sympathy with the bigots who are
constantly attacking the tracks. These tracks are owned and supported
by our very best people, and it is quite the smartest thing you can do
to run a stable. Take, for instance, our little party yesterday--the
Morgan Stynes, Evelyn Garish with Harry, the Plumstones, and Timpleton
Duff--all with horses running, besides dozens of others we know. Would
they support anything that was not eminently proper? The charge is made
that it is gambling. Harry Garish or Timpey Duff would no more have
their names connected with the ownership of a gambling-establishment
than they would die, but they support racing because it is a noble
sport; it takes people out-of-doors, out in the fresh air and
sunshine, among the green lawns and trees; and is there anything
more exciting, more exhilarating, than to see the thorough-breds
struggling for the mastery, when you stand to win or lose a few
thousands? Fortunate, indeed, is the public to have such men as Garish
and Duff working in the interest of clean sport, and putting it on a
thoroughly business-like and paying basis, men whose fathers' names
were symbols of integrity in the business world, whose own names head
the subscription lists of every charity in the city. As I told Mrs.
Underbunk, Garish is the moving spirit in the Anti-pool-room League,
and has done a great deal for the community in ridding it of those
gambling-holes, which are so demoralizing to the wage-earners. She
immediately inquired whether the thousands of men and women we saw all
about us consulting their information sheets were not wage-earners,
thinking of course that she had me cornered, but I was able to reply
like a flash that they were not--most of them got their money in other
ways.

Womanlike, she was not satisfied, but went on to inquire if Garish had
tried to root out gambling at the tracks.

An absurd question! But patiently, as simply as I could, I explained
to her that while a few persons might watch horses race just to see
which was the fastest, the great majority of the public demanded the
additional interest given by an opportunity to make ten dollars by
risking one. It cost a great deal to support the tracks and stables,
and no company of philanthropists living would dare to go into such a
venture without being sure of enough gate-receipts to pay expenses,
and twenty per cent. on the money invested. The betting-ring was,
therefore, a necessity if we were to have the glorious sport at all.

Mrs. Underbunk was only about half satisfied, but she is a very
strict little soul in her theories, and I saw that it was useless to
argue with her. That she had come at all was a surprise to me, but
Evelyn Garish asked her up to their Westchester house to spend a few
days, and help her with the bazaar they are to have at Lazydays, to
secure money for the work of St. Simon's parish. She suggested that
we all meet at the track yesterday, as her filly Umbrella was to run
in the May Handicap and would be a sure thing at long odds, so I
agreed to take Gladys up in my car. We were to have had luncheon at
the club-house with the Garishes and their party, which included the
Stynes, the Duffs, and the Plumstones, but as luck would have it a
policeman held me up for over-speeding on Seventh Avenue, and took us
to the police-station. What a nuisance those fellows are! He said we
were running at twenty-five miles an hour, though my chauffeur and I
both swore that our machine could not do better than eight, under any
circumstances. Fortunately, the police-court was still in session
nearby, and I was able to get away after giving cash bail to appear
next Wednesday. The judge was a very decent fellow and apologized for
holding me. He said it was the law, to which I retorted emphatically
that the law should be changed, as I was getting thoroughly tired
of being arrested every time I took out my car. For fear of another
interruption by the police I had to proceed very slowly, and after we
reached the track we had hardly more than enough time to swallow a bite
of luncheon before the call for the first race.

There was quite a gathering of the clans, and I must say it was
very jolly to see everybody again, fresh and rested after their
Lenten seclusion. Long Island and Westchester seemed to have emptied
themselves into the club-house. Jack Twitters was there with his two
daughters, and Julius Hogginson Fairfield in close attendance on
Constance. Charley Bullington, who was in on the recent bulge in Potash
common, brought up the Verys and Lord Less on his new coach, and made
a mess of it, after he passed the gates, as his leaders got beyond his
control, when Winthrop Jumpkin, 7th, came up behind in that infernal
car he hires. It sounds like a rolling-mill in busy times. The Earl of
Less jumped and landed in a bush, scratching himself severely, though
he would have been perfectly safe on top as a half-dozen policemen and
a couple of grooms were hanging to the fractious pair. Then there were
the Plumstones, Gastly, with some men from the Cholmondeley Club, and
a number of the professional horsey set who seem to stable themselves
somewhere for the winter, and come forth in the spring with red faces
and waistcoats.

Gladys Underbunk is a thorough-going sport in a quiet way, for when
Morgan Styne had tipped me on his Sassafras and I had told her what
a good thing it was, she got a small roll out of the recesses of her
automobile-coat, and asked me to put up twenty-five for her to win. As
Sassafras was understood to be a cripple, and the tipsters had Uncle
Bill as a sure thing, I got 10 to 1 on the Styne colt, and he won in a
romp. It was a splendid race. This was sport at its best, as I pointed
out to Gladys. The air, clear and soft; the sunshine glimmering over
the rolling greensward; the gay, happy thousands keyed to the highest
pitch of excitement, while the clean-limbed horses, the brightly clad
boys crouching tight in the saddles, struggled nose-and-nose for the
mastery, then flashed under the wire with the gallant little Sassafras
full two lengths in the lead--this was glorious. Mrs. Underbunk asked
why there was not more enthusiasm over the winner, and I, of course,
had to explain that Uncle Bill at 2 to 1 carried the money of the
crowd, and as he had broken down at the entrance to the stretch, there
was naturally some disappointment among the masses. Simple creature!
When I handed her a roll of $275 she was loath to take it, said that it
seemed wrong to make money so easily, and wanted to know whose it was.
When she heard that it came from the bookies she was concerned lest
they could not afford it, but I explained that they had got it from the
crowd who had mostly backed Uncle Bill. Then she wanted to know if I
knew of any other good things.

Julius Hogginson Fairfield came strutting up, all smiles, and told
us in an offhand way that he had put up five hundred on Sassafras,
making quite a killing. It sounded very well, only I had happened to
be right in line behind him when he placed a ten-dollar bill on the
Styne colt. But people do like to give the impression of being real
sports. I was tempted to remark that men who had to depend on their
brains for a living, like writers, had no business risking even ten
on the result of a race, but I decided to leave him happy in the
profound impression he had created as a wise one. Though we did not
ask him, he followed us down to the paddock with Evelyn Garish when
we went to look over their Umbrella, and he declared positively that
he was going to bet his imaginary five thousand straight and place on
the black filly. But when I heard that Pebble, the darky, was to be
up in place of Tomlinson, the boy who rides regularly for the Garish
stable but was under suspension, I got my friend Cantle, the trainer,
behind a tree and consulted him. Evelyn Garish said she would never
forgive herself if we did not back Umbrella, for she believed it was
like finding money, and I had to assure her that I would, but when
Mrs. Underbunk handed me $100 I whispered to her for permission to use
my own judgment. It came so straight from that trainer that 4 to 1 on
Doctor B. to win seemed too good a thing to miss. In all my life I have
never seen such a poor race. Doctor B., undoubtedly the best of the
lot, was practically left at the post, thanks to the starter, and the
Garish filly led all the way and finished in a walk. Mrs. Underbunk was
so wildly excited over the result that she forgot all about there ever
having been any other horse in the race at all, and I just had not the
courage to enlighten her. So when she told me to hurry down to those
dear bookies and get her money, I returned to a quiet spot and found
solace in a Scotch and soda. Then I counted eight hundred out of my
own pocket and went back to the balcony and paid up, and effusively
thanked Mrs. Garish for having let me know about Umbrella. It was
pretty hard to have to look pleased to death, after Doctor B. had taken
a large part of my money, in addition to my settling with Gladys. Then
to make matters worse, that infernal Fairfield had to come bowling up
and intimate that he had hit the ring for close to twenty thousand,
though I had seen him pass a small roll of tens into the hands of the
shirt-sleeved gentleman who takes in the money for J. Cohen.

Still Mrs. Underbunk's gratitude was worth paying for. She had got
thoroughly into the spirit of the sport, and wanted to know if I had
any more good things. I asked her playfully if she did not think
betting was wrong.

"It is delightfully wrong," said she seriously. "But I understand
those book-makers are a horrid lot of men, and why shouldn't I take
their money?"

So she made a sentimental bet on Harry Garish to win the steeple-chase
at two miles and a half, on Fencerail, heavily weighted. Garish did not
seem to have a ghost of a chance on his ancient jumper, and was quoted
at times as long as 20 to 1. I got her 15 to 1 for a hundred, but was
wise myself. I always was afraid of steeple-chases, particularly with
gentlemen riders up. Fencerail was never in the running till the last
two jumps, one of which Blue Fox, the favorite, refused absolutely,
while the second sent Tommy Tattler off his Rockaway into the water. It
was a positive sin the way Fencerail came home lengths in front of the
surviving bunch.

By this time I inwardly vowed that I should follow Mrs. Underbunk, and
at least quit the game even. Gastly came up and said that he liked
Primrose in the fourth, and she declared sweetly that she would back
anything Mr. Gastly liked. So I proceeded to send my money along with
hers, and Primrose came down the stretch when the bugle was calling,
the fifth to the post. Gastly was not seen about the club-house again.
With a like result in the last two with horses chosen for their pretty
names, I had not enough money left to give cash bail, so the run over
to Lazydays was made at a very sedate speed. However, I did not mind
going slowly. The Garishes in their brake, with the Stynes, Cecil
Hash, and Sally Bilberry passed us on the road, and when I explained
that the machine was out of order, they wanted Gladys Underbunk to go
on with them. Delightful woman! She refused. She was in the highest
of spirits with a couple of thousand in winnings tucked away in her
automobile-coat, and I was quite consoled for my own losses. When
I railed at her for the sudden change in her views on betting, she
replied that she thought racing was fairer than roulette, because you
could get inside information, like our tip on Umbrella.

Luck changed a bit last night. I won quite a little at bridge from
Cecil Hash and Evelyn Garish. This morning I am feeling brighter, but
I am staying in my room, as the rector at St. Simon's always bores me
to death. This afternoon I am to try a little golf, though I have not
played it in years. I feel that I need some violent exercise.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Mudison married Mrs. Underbunk at St. Simon's in June. The wedding
was a quiet one, but so important, because of the character of the
contracting parties, that full details of it were given at the time in
the newspaper accounts. The ceremony was the simplest possible, there
being no bridesmaids, though the bride had as pages her two small sons,
Devereux and Maltravers Underbunk. Mr. Gastly was best man, and there
was a small breakfast later at Mrs. Garish's country house. Many pages
of Mr. Mudison's manuscripts are devoted to the days preceding this
important event in his life, but when it is considered that after all
he chronicles only an everyday romance, that he is telling again the
story that has been told thousands and thousands of times before, it
is readily understood why this part of his memoirs is not deemed of
great value. Of far more interest it is to see him settled down happily
with his wife and step-children in a modest house; and it is with this
epoch that the next part of his edited papers has to do. But to some
persons there may be a tragedy in this line in the recent _Social
Register_: Mudison, Mr. & Mrs. Madison (Gladys Tinkle--Underbunk), C.,
H. '90--Lexington Avenue.



CHAPTER XXXI

_Mr. Mudison is Uncomfortable but Happy_


Curious! If anybody had told me a year ago that to-day I should be
living at Lexington Avenue and Seventy-ninth Street, I would have
laughed at them. Now I am laughing at myself, for while I am terribly
uncomfortable all the time--or ought to be so--I am ridiculously happy.
Gladys says things will look up with us financially after a while, as
she has a rich old aunt somewhere, and we may be able to move west a
block or two. But I don't indulge much in dreams. I try to take things
as they come, and find solace in the fact that the only time in my life
that I was ever stirred by ambition I lost a quarter of my capital. Yet
I can hardly call it ambition, but rather necessity, for, confronted
with the problem of supporting my suddenly acquired family, I bought
stocks heavily on a rising market, with the inevitable result; so
now we have only $15,000 a year. Of course Joshua pays ten thousand
annually for the children's board, but Gladys has nobly refused her
allowance from him.

There must be lots of people who get along on less than we do; but
if they are anybody, it requires scrimping. Surely, I had to give up
enough. Gastly has my car, as he sold stocks on the bulge; Duff has my
saddle-horses, and Jangle has been turned into a general man about the
house--a combination butler, footman, and furnace-tender. Doing without
Jangle is not so hard, as I have to economize on clothes, and they are
learning to take care of themselves, but I do feel the need of more
clubs than the Cholmondeley, alone. Of course no man could live without
the Cholmondeley. When I walk by the Ticktock and the Ping-pong, all
those favorite old haunts of mine, I think of Enoch Arden or Rip Van
Winkle, whoever the fellow was that stayed away from home so long.
When I see the men in the windows looking bored, how I long to join
them!

Belonging to one club is like having a port to clear from, but no
destination. There is little pleasure in strolling down the avenue
when there is no place for you to drop in, so I have been keeping
close to home, though my reading had given me the idea that it was
the last place anyone would want to be. Yet it is quite endurable. I
suppose this is because Mrs. Mudison understands me so well. There
are discomforts. I have to take breakfast much earlier, but you don't
really mind getting up at nine o'clock when you have not been out late
the night before. There are long hours when there is nothing to do,
hours when in the old days I could ride, but which now must be filled
in with pictorial papers. I do miss that daily canter, but Gladys had
to have a pair for her brougham, so I take my exercise by walking in
the park with the children. Rather amusing they are too.

The other morning I was watching Devereux and Maltravers racing around
on the grass, when along the bridle-path came Cecil Hash on his smart
piebald pony. Pulling up in front of me he shouted, "Lord! Mudison, you
are not going to throw yourself in the reservoir?"

Really, I was feeling very cheerful, but my meditative attitude misled
him.

"I am just taking the children for a walk," said I, pointing to the
small pair.

Cecil kind of stared at the boys. His expression nettled me.

"They are Mrs. Mudison's," said I, rather sharply. "Perhaps you
remember that she was Mrs. Joshua Underbunk."

"Oh, yes," cried Hash, his face clearing, "I do remember, now. Come
to think of it, I ran across Underbunk in the Ticktock Club, just
yesterday."

Up ran that confounded little Maltravers and shouted, "Come along, dad."

Now I do not object to that appellation in the privacy of our home,
for the lad is very fond of me, but I do wish he would not be so
demonstrative in public. Still, it is simply extra pay for the
amusement I have had taking him on tours of exploration through the
toy-stores. It is well for Cecil Hash that he never saw me in a
toy-store, judging from the effect of our present meeting, for he had
to push his crop down his throat to save himself from choking to death.
I wanted to wipe up the bridle-path with him, but controlled myself,
and said, in a dignified way, "Come along, children."

As I began to move away, with one in each hand, Cecil asked me to join
him at the Ping-pong Club at three, for billiards. It was hard to have
to own up that I had resigned, but there was nothing else to do. He was
astonished, tremendously astonished, but was too well-bred to show it
other than by staring at me with wide-open eyes.

"Well?" said I.

That aroused him. "We'll miss you, old man; miss you terribly,"
said he, as if he meant it. "Thank Heaven, we can still meet at the
Cholmondeley and cut each other's throats at bridge."

He quite touched me. "We can meet," said I, "but not at bridge, unless
you care to play a penny a point. I only play for a penny a point now."

Even the pony jumped, but I suppose that was because his rider gave
such a long whistle.

"Mudison," said Cecil, "you don't mean to tell me that you have stopped
playing for money?"

"Yes, Cecil," I answered frankly. "You must remember that to only a few
people in this world is it given to be happy and also have pleasure."

With that I marched away. I heard the wild clatter of the pony's hoofs
as he galloped off, so I turned for a covert look at him, not in envy,
but thinking perhaps of the days we used to canter along together.
Suddenly he drew rein and turned in the saddle. I saw him smile.

For that moment, that smile put me all out of gear, and I sat down on a
bench to think things over. In a little while the piebald pony flashed
by again, and I summed up the situation thus:

There goes Cecil Hash, bachelor. He has everything to make a single
life worth living. He thinks he is happy because he has an airy,
roomy apartment, an ammonia refrigerator, a full sideboard, and a
man; because he belongs to a half-dozen clubs, keeps a car, and a few
hunters and polo ponies; because he need not worry about money-matters
so long as he adheres to his simple life and limits his wants; because
he does not have to learn anything, as he is already smart. He
thinks he is happy. He pities me. Let him smile. Really, he is only
comfortable, thoroughly comfortable.

"Come boys!" said I, rising. "Mamma says we must be home in time for
luncheon to-day."

"What are you laughing at, dad?" Devereux inquired.

And, hang it! I could not have told him whether it was Cecil Hash or J.
Madison Mudison.

Somehow my meeting with Cecil made me a little discontented for the
time being. It did seem that so long as I had not enough millions
to be a really smart married man, I should do something to save the
name of Mudison from social oblivion in the next generation, become a
captain of industry and buy back what I had lost when I ceased to be a
well-known bachelor and became just a well-to-do husband. My suggestion
almost killed Gladys at luncheon that day.

"But, my dear Muddy," she said kindly, when she had recovered her
breath, "you are absolutely unqualified to earn a living in any way."

"Are you sure?" I returned, a trifle put out.

"Of course you are a Harvard man," she went on, "but I should not say
that you were very well educated."

"Simply because I had to play in the team," I snapped.

"And Muddy," said she, as sweetly as only Gladys can, "while you have
a certain peculiar kind of intelligence, I should hardly say that you
had brains."

"I know all that," said I. "And for that very reason I am thinking of
becoming a stock broker."

"Oh, you might do that," said she pensively.

My wife was quite taken with the idea until she heard that I should
have to be downtown at ten o'clock every morning and stand around on
my feet till three, yelling continually. Down went her little foot, as
only Gladys Mudison's can, and she declared that it was not a dignified
business at all.

"You would only be a respectable auctioneer," she declared.

"But I should make a lot of money," I pleaded.

"I would rather have you do without a few things," she retorted, "than
send you down to that bear-garden every day."

So my dreams of great wealth have fled me, and I cannot say that I am
wholly sorry. I did suggest becoming a corporation lawyer, but Gladys
has the European idea of being satisfied with what you have, and she
does not realize that in this city you must keep on piling up more and
more or you will become a Knickerbocker. She told me she would think it
over a while, and she has been thinking ever since, very quietly.

Meantime I am finding consolation in chickens, and am looking forward
to good sport next summer at the little box we have just bought down
on the Wheatley Hills. The study of incubators alone is a life-task,
and my mind is not quite made up as to what kind we shall get, but all
my other plans have been secretly laid. Only Devereux, the eldest boy,
knows about it, and we slipped down to the country day before yesterday
on a prospecting tour. We were standing at the stable with the local
carpenter, making estimates on the lumber needed for the hennery, when
in rode Gastly and Timpey Duff, the latter on my old roan hunter, the
homeliest and fastest brute that ever followed a big pack of hounds and
a diminutive fox over Hempstead Plain. The sight of a red coat did
stir my blood, and though I cannot say that I looked at them with envy,
yet it occurred to me that it would be mighty pleasant to be astride
old Christopher again, bound for the meet, as they were. Surely there
is no sight so inspiring as a company of daring fellows, with the pack
in full cry, running a ferocious animal from Dan to Beersheba. A noble
sport!

"Saw you in here," said Gastly, in that jerky way of his. "Thought you
might be coming over for the fun."

Now, of course, I did not intend to tell them my real business, that my
fun in the future would be found in the humble and ignoble occupation
of incubating Plymouth Rocks, but Devereux had to speak up and give it
all away.

"Huh!" said Gastly.

"Ye gods!" said Timpey Duff.

So they rode away, and as they turned through the gate Horatio leaned
over and slapped his companion on the back. It seemed they would both
roll out of their saddles.

So I am getting accustomed to being regarded as one dead. But there
is one consoling thing in this unfortunately fortunate situation.
Gladys seems confoundedly satisfied. When I see her happy I feel that
I should not growl because I have had to give up comfort and pleasure
for her sake. She says she was thoroughly tired of being the late
Mrs. Underbunk, and having people, who did not know, condole with her
as though she were a widow; as long as she can have two comfortable
houses, her carriage, plenty of clothes, and a husband who does not
drink too much, she thinks she should consider herself a lucky woman. I
suppose I should consider myself a lucky man, if all my old friends did
not treat me as though I were a bore.

For instance, we dined at the Garishes last night, a formal affair of
twenty-four covers, and instead of my taking in Evelyn, as of old, she
had Cecil Hash on one side, and on the other, Winthrop Jumpkin, 7th,
whom I made. Gladys was at the other end with a jolly crowd--Gastly,
Garish, and the Countess of Less, who was Evangeline Very, and has just
returned alone to this country from England for a prolonged stay. As
for me, I took in old Mrs. Handy, somebody's poor relative, and had
on my left Timpey Duff's deaf-and-dumb sister--I think she was deaf
and dumb, for she only spoke once all evening. It was positively the
only night in my life that I have eaten anything at a formal dinner,
and the single time I attracted the slightest attention was when I
almost choked to death on a lot of terrapin bone that got crosswise in
my throat. Afterward, in the smoking-room, Garish, Gastly, Hash, and
Jumpkin, the only interesting men there, got off in a corner and talked
nothing but stocks. Since my last flyer, that has been a delicate
subject with me, and I sought peace basking in the benign smile of
old Bishop Bumble, who, over his cognac, discoursed, at great length,
on his new scheme for a church race-track. He argued that as long as
people had to have racing, it would be best to place the control of
the sport in proper hands. The present odds were manifestly unfair,
he declared, and with upright bookies in the ring, the public could
have an honest run for its money, which would make the track immensely
popular and insure its success as a business proposition. He would
allow only ten-per-cent. dividends on the stock of the operating
company, and all over that would be set aside as a fund with which
to start new church tracks in different parts of the country. An
interesting idea, indeed. There were one or two points about which I
wanted to take issue with the distinguished divine, but Garish began to
lead the way to the drawing-room.

So I was mighty glad, after I had stood around for ten minutes, looking
at the women, to feel Gladys tugging at my sleeve; to be able to tell
our hostess what a charming evening I had had; to be able to go home.

As Shakespeare or Milton, or whoever it was, said, "There is no place
like home."

From this period of his life on, Mr. Mudison seems to devote much less
of his time than formerly to writing down his experiences, impressions,
and thoughts. His diary, if such it could be called, becomes more
fragmentary than ever. Particularly is he silent regarding the summer
at Wheatley Hills. There is one mention of his having purchased an
incubator, and a few thoughts on the annual nuisance of moving from
town to country. When he picks up his life-narrative again, he is back
on Lexington Avenue, and beyond a hint that he is looking forward to
breeding Irish terriers next year, there is no clew to the events of
his rural life.

The latest papers are rather disjointed. Mr. Mudison seems to have
settled down to the placid existence of a well-to-do married man with
no vocation. He has ceased either to act or to think. We do learn in
one place, however, that Julius Hogginson Fairfield wed an actress,
settled in Sioux City, and is writing two historical novels, yearly.
We read in another place that Winthrop Jumpkin, 7th, has married the
youngest Twitter girl, and become president of one of the Twitter
railroads. There is a touch of romance in the disappearance of Cecil
Hash, who in an evil moment fell in love with a poor beauty, married,
and moved to Morristown, so is known no more in the world. Again,
there is pathos in this note, almost lost in a page of argument with
Gladys on the foreign-mission question: "I see by the morning paper
that Horatio Gastly led the cotillon at Mrs. Twitter's small dance
last night--a spirited cotillon--dancing with the beautiful Miss
Constance Twitter." It calls to mind the poor rector, but our momentary
sympathy for him disappears when we learn later that he has gone to a
broader field, and is comfortably settled in the Garish chair of moral
philosophy at Hale University. With these facts we have taken the grain
from a considerable mass of chaff, so it is hardly worth while to
continue working over Mr. Mudison's papers unless some upheaval occurs
to shake him out of the groove down which he seems to be comfortably
sliding to actual as well as social oblivion. Some day we shall see
the flag of the Cholmondeley Club flying at half-mast; some day we
shall miss the familiar figure, the dingy old man with a rusty silk
hat, asleep in his window, the third window from the corner. Then
perhaps we shall agree with him that, after all, it is just as well to
be smart as it is to be famous.



By NELSON Lloyd

THE SOLDIER OF THE VALLEY

ILLUSTRATED BY A.B. FROST

12mo, $1.50


"A story full of artistic quality, a story of genuine feeling and quiet
humor, pervaded by that repose which is so painfully lacking in current
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form."--_Hamilton W. Mabie._

"A wholly delightful book that leaves one full of pleasant thoughts
and that everyone must feel the better for having read. The characters
are full of genuine charm and humor. A book not only to read, but to
keep."--_London Literary World._

"It would be difficult to find anywhere in recent fiction a novel that
is so vivid and graphic a picture of life. It is vital and vigorous, a
human picture, where men and women of flesh and blood and not manikins
move and have their being."--_Brooklyn Eagle._


CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS, New York



By NELSON Lloyd

THE SOLDIER OF THE VALLEY

ILLUSTRATED BY A.B. FROST

12mo, $1.50


"Abounding in humor and pathos."--_Pittsburg Chronicle._

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