Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Elizabeth Visits America by Elinor Glyn

Part 2 out of 3

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

ready and looking as attractive as possible all the time. It would be
so wearing.

I think English people are stodgy and behind-hand about things. Why
don't they come here and take a few hints before they build any more
theatres? You can't think how infinitely better these are to see in.

The difference in the comic operas to ours is, they have no refinement
or colours or subtleties to please the eye--all is gaudy and blatant.
The "Merry Widow," for instance, could make one weep, it is so vulgar
and changed, especially the end. But if the people prefer it like that
the managers are quite right to let them have what they want.

After the theatre we went, a huge party, to sup at such a funny place
which was all mirrors; and a man at the next table, who was perhaps a
little beyond "fresh," got perfectly furious thinking another man was
staring at him, and wanted to get up and fight him. The lady next him
pulled his sleeve, and had to keep telling him, "Hush, Bob, hush! Can't
you see it's yourself?" "Certainly not!" shouted the man, so loud we
could not help hearing. "I'll fight anyone who says I am that ugly
mug!" and he gesticulated at the reflection and it gesticulated back at
him. It was the funniest sight you can imagine, Mamma, and it was not
until the lady meekly demanded if the person he saw sitting by the
"ugly mug" resembled her that he could be convinced, and be got to go
on quietly with his supper. And all the rest of the time he kept
glancing at the glass and muttering to himself like distant thunder,
just as Agnes does when things displease her.

In Paris, at the restaurants one goes to, there is only the one
class--unless, of course, one is doing Montmartre, but I mean the best
ones bourgeoises would not think of thrusting themselves in; and in
London there is only the Ritz and Carlton where one goes, and it is the
rarest thing certainly at the Ritz to see any awful people there. But
here, heaps of the most ordinary are very rich and think they have the
best right, which of course they have if they pay, to enter the most
select places; so the conglomeration even at Sherry's sometimes is too
amusing, and at the mirror place, which society would only go to as a
freak, the company is beyond description. But they all seem such
kindly, jolly people, all amusing themselves, and gay and happy. I like
it, and the courtesy and fatherly kindness of the men to the women is
beautiful, and a lesson to the male creatures of other nations. I have
not yet seen an American man who is not the cavalier servante of his
wife and sisters and daughters. And what flowers they send one!
Everything is generous and opulent.

The dance was such fun, a bal blanc, as only young people were asked,
and they all come without chaperones, so sensible, and all seemed to
have a lovely romp, and enjoy themselves in a far, far greater degree
than we do. It was more like a tenants' ball or a children's party,
they seemed so happy; and towards the end lots of the girls' hair
became untidy and their dresses torn, and the young men's faces damp
and their collars limp.

The house was a perfectly magnificent palace, far up on Fifth Avenue,
which has been built so lately that the taste is faultless; but it was
a rather new family gave the dance, whom Valerie has not yet received.
She thinks she will next year, because the daughter is so lovely and
admired, and everyone else knows them.

At the beginning of the evening some of the girls looked beautiful, but
as a rule much too richly dressed, like married women; only when even
the most exquisite creatures get hot and dishevelled the charm goes
off--don't you think so, Mamma? It is more like France than England, as
there is very little sitting out; one just goes to the buffet. And
there is always the cotillon; but the favours and flowers are much
better than anyone would have in Paris. The girls must get quite rich
in trinkets at the end of a season.

We are told a real ball, where the married women are, is much more
range, and one does not see people get so untidy. But all the balls are
over now, so we shall not be able to judge.

What struck us most was the young people seemed much more familiar with
each other than we should ever allow them to be; just like playful
brothers and sisters, not a bit loverish, but almost as if it could
develop into what they call "rough-housing" in a minute, although it
never did at the dance.

"Rough-housing" is throwing your neighbour's bread across the table at
someone else, and he throwing his table napkin back at you, and yelling
and screaming with mirth; and it often ends with being mauled and
pulled about, and water being poured down someone's neck.

The Spleists had a young people's tea last week, which I have not had
time to tell you of, where they did all this. They flung themselves
about, and were as natural and tiresome as baby puppies are, barking
and bouncing and eating up people's shoes.

Fancy, Mamma, when Ermyntrude grows up, my allowing her to pour water
down a man's neck, and to be mauled and fought with in consequence! But
I am sure they are all as innocent and lighthearted as the young
puppies whose behaviour theirs resembles; so it may be a natural outlet
for high spirits, and have its good side, though we could not possibly
stand it.

The whole tenue in moving, of the girls, is "fling about," even in the
street, but no other nation can compare to them in their exquisitely
spruce, exquisitely soigne appearance, and their perfect feet and
superlatively perfect boots, and short tailor dresses. To see Fifth
Avenue on a bright day, morning or afternoon, is like a procession of
glowing flowers passing. Minxes of fifteen with merry roving eyes,
women of all ages, _all_ as beautifully dressed as it is possible to be,
swinging along to the soda-water fountain shops where you can get candy
and ice cream and lovely chocolates. No one has that draggled, too long
in the back and too short in the front look, of lots of English women
holding up their garments in a frightful fashion. Here they are too
sensible; they have perfect short skirts for walking, and look too
dainty and attractive for words. Also there are no old people much--a
few old women but never any old men. I suppose they all die off with
their hard life.

But isn't human nature funny, Mamma, and how male creatures' instincts
will break out sometimes even in a country like this, where sex does
not "amount to much." We are told that now and then the most
respectable father of a family will "side track," and go off on a jaunt
with a glaringly golden-haired chorus lady! But one thing is better
than with us, the eldest sons don't defy fate and marry them! When he
gets to fifteen I shall begin to have nightmares in case Hurstbridge
should bring me home a Gaiety daughter-in-law, though probably by then
there will be such numbers of Birdie and Tottie and Rosie Peeresses,
that I shall have got used to it, unless, of course, the fashion
changes and goes back to the time Uncle Geoffrey talks of, when those
ladies found their own world more amusing.

There is not much romance here. I don't see how they ever get in love.
How could one get in love with a young man whom one romped with and
danced with, till his face became dripping, and his collar limp; whom
one saw when one wanted to without any restrictions, and altogether
treated like a big brother? I suppose getting "crazy" about a person is
as near being in love as they know. Each country has its ways, but I
like romance.

Their astounding adaptability is what strikes one--the women's I mean.
The ones who have been to Europe only on trips even, have all acquired
a more reserved tone and gentler voices, while the girls who went to
school in Paris or have lived in England are wonders of brilliant
attraction. I do not know if any of those would make a noise and
rough-house. They would be clever enough to choose their time and place
if they did.

The children skate on roller skates along the streets, and on the
asphalte paths of the parks. There is a delightful happy-go-lucky-way
about everything. In the country trains cross the roads with no gates
to keep people off the track, and in every branch of life you have to
look out for yourself and learn self-reliance.

We are so amused because Octavia is considered to have "an English
accent," and mine not so strong, the papers say. What can an "English
accent" be, Mamma? Since English came from England and is till spoken
as we do, there would be some logic in saying "an American accent," but
what can an "English" one be! One might as sensibly remark upon a
Frenchman from Paris having a French accent, or a German from Berlin.

I suppose it must be the climate which obliges people to make such
disagreeable throat-clearing noises. In any public place it is
absolutely distressing, and makes one creep with disgust.

At all the restaurants we have been to, the food is most excellent, and
they have such delightfully original dishes and ways of serving things.
There are not such quantities of "coloured gentlemen" as one supposed,
about; and they don't have them even for servants in the big hotels,
but at a smaller one, where Southern people go, and we went to call on
some-one, there were lots of them; and they have such gentle voices and
good manners I like them.

Yesterday Octavia and I went to a "department store" to buy, among
other things, some of their lovely ready-made costumes to take out West
with us, and it was so amusing; the young ladies at the ribbon counter
were chatting with the young ladies at the flowers, divided by a high
set of drawers, so they had to climb up or speak through the passage
opening. Presently after we had tried to attract their attention, one
condescended to serve us, while she finished her conversation with her
friend round the corner perfectly indifferent as to our wants, or if we
bought or not! The friend surveyed us and chewed gum. But when we got
to the costume salon, they were most polite. Two perfect dears attended
to us, and were so sympathetic as to our requirements, and talked
intelligently and well on outside subjects. Octavia and I felt we were
leaving old friends when we went. Why should you be rude measuring off
ribbons, and polite showing clothes?

To-morrow we go to Philadelphia to stay with Kitty Bond, who as you
know isn't so colossally rich as the rest, but just as nice as Valerie;
and they have a house which has been there for a hundred years, so it
will be interesting to see the difference.

The Vicomte has been good and docile. I have not had to keep him in
order once, but he comes round all the time, and when he thinks people
are looking he gazes devotedly at Octavia, and everyone thinks he is
her affair. Isn't it intelligent of him, Mamma?

I am glad you have not scolded me about Harry and our quarrel in your
last letter; but there is no use your being angry with him and saying
he behaved like a brute. He did not, a bit, because it really was my
fault, principally; only it's all just as well, as I should never have
been allowed to come here if it had not happened, and I am enjoying
myself and seeing the world.

Good-bye, dearest Mamma. Best love from,

Your affectionate daughter,




DEAREST MAMMA,--I think you would like this place better than New York
if you came to America. It is much quieter and less up-to-date, and
there is the most beautiful park; only you have to get at it by going
through the lowest slums of the town, which must rather put one off on
a summer day, and it is dominated by a cemetery on a high cliff above
it, so that as you drive you see the evidences of death always in front
of you; and one of the reporters who came to interview us said it made
"a cunning place to take your best girl on Sunday to do a bit of a
spoon!!" Are they not an astonishing people, Mamma? So devoid of
sentiment that they choose this, their best site, for a cemetery! and
then spend their gayest recreation hours there!! I couldn't have let
even Harry make love to me in a cemetery. Of course it must be only the
working class who go there, as a jaunt, not one's friends; but it
surprised me in any case.

Kitty's house is the sweetest place, rather in the country, and just
made of wood with a shingle roof; but so quaint, and people look at it
with the same sort of reverence we look at Aikin's Farm, which was
built in fourteen hundred, you remember? This one was put up before the
revolution, in Colonial days, and it has a veranda in front running up
with Ionic pillars all in wood like a portico. Inside it is just an
English home--do you hear, Mamma? I said _home!_ because it is the
first we have seen. And it came as some new thing, and to be
appreciated, to find the furniture a little shabby from having been in
the same place so long; and the pictures most of them rather bad, but
really ancestors; and the drawing-room and our bedrooms lovely and
bright with flowery chintzes, fresh and shiny, no tapestry and
wonderful brocade; and the table-cloths plain, and no lace on the
sheets, nor embroideries to scratch the ear. It shows what foolish
creatures of habit we are, because in the other houses there has been
every possible thing one could want, and masterpieces of art and riches
and often beauty; but just because Kitty's house is like a home, and
has the indescribable atmosphere of gentle owners for generations, we
like it the best! It is ridiculous to be so prejudiced, isn't it?

Jim Bond says they are too poor to go to Europe more than once in three
years, and they only run over to New York to stay with Valerie now and
then, and sometimes down South or camping out in the summer, so they
spend all the time at Ringwood, and there is not a corner of the garden
or house they do not tend and love. Jim is a great gardener, so Octavia
and he became absorbed at once. He has not got much business to do, and
only has to go in to Philadelphia about once a week, so his time is
spent with Kitty and books and horses and the trees and flowers; and if
you could see the difference it makes, Mamma, in a man! His eyes do not
have a bit the look of a terrier after a rat, and he does not always
answer literally to everything you say, and if you speak about books or
art or anything of other countries, he is familiar with it all, and
listens and isn't bored, and hardly attending, so anxious to get his
anecdote in, as lots of them were in New York. But on the other hand
the Americans would never be the splendid successful nation they are if
they were all peaceful and cultivated like Jim Bond; so all is as it
should be, and both kinds are interesting.

Kitty is a darling, an immense sense of humour, perfectly indifferent
about dress, and as lanky and unshaped a figure as any sporting
Englishwoman; when she comes to stay with us at Valmond she only brings
two frocks for even a big party! But she is like Octavia, a character,
and everyone loves her, and would not mind if she did not wear any
clothes at all. You must meet her the next time, Mamma. She did not
tremendously apologize because the hot water tap in my bath-room would
not run (as Mrs. Spleist did when one of the twenty electric light
branches round my bed-room would not shine); she just said, "You must
call Ambrosia" (a sweet darkie servant) "and she will bring you a can
from the kitchen."

She sat on the floor by the wood fire in the old-fashioned grate, and
made me laugh so I was late for dinner. They had a dinner party for us,
because they said it was their duty to show us their best, as we had
seen a little of New York; and it was a delightful evening. Several of
the men had moustaches, and they were all perfectly at ease, and not
quite so kind and polite as the others, and you felt more as if they
were of the same sex as Englishmen, and you quite understood that they
could get in love. The one at my right hand was a pet, and has asked us
to a dinner at the Squirrels Club to-night, and I am looking forward to
it so. The women were charming, not so well dressed as in New York, and
perhaps not so pretty, or so very bright and ready with repartee as
there, but sweet all the same. And I am sure they are all as good as
gold, and don't have divorces in the family nearly so often. That was
the impression they gave me. One even spoke to me of her baby, and we
had quite a "young mother's conversation," and I was able to let myself
go and talk of my two angels without feeling I should be a dreadful
bore. It was, of course, while the men stayed in the dining-room,
which they did here just like England.

The Squirrels Club is as old as Kitty's house, and is such a quaint
idea. All the members cook the dinner in a great kitchen, and there are
no servants to wait or lay the table, or anything, only a care-taker
who washes up. We are to go there about seven--it is in the country,
too--and help to cook also; won't it be too delightful, Mamma! Octavia
says she feels young again at the thought. I will finish this
to-morrow, and tell you all about it before the post goes.


I am only just awake, Mamma. We had such an enchanting evening last
night, and stayed up so late I slept like a top. We drove to the club
house in motors, and there were about six or seven women beside
ourselves and ten or twelve men all in shirt-sleeves and aprons, and
the badge of the Club, a squirrel, embroidered on their chests. I don't
know why, but I think men look attractive in shirt-sleeves. Sometimes
at home in the evening, if I am dressed first, I go into Harry's room
to hurry him up, and if I find him standing brushing his hair I always
want him to kiss me, when his valet isn't there, he looks such a
darling like that; and he always does, and then we are generally late.
But I must not think of him, because when I do I just long for him to
come back, and to rush into his arms, and of course I have got to
remain angry with him for ages yet.

How I have wandered from the delightful squirrels! Well, the one who
asked us was called Dick Seton, and as I told you he is a pet, and a
_young man!_ That is, not elderly, like the business ones we met in New
York, and not a boy like the partners at the dance, but a young man of
thirty, perhaps, with such nice curly light hair and blue eyes, and
actually _not married!_ Everything of this age is married in New York.

There was a huge slate in the kitchen with who was to do each course
written up, and it looked so quaint to see in among the serious dishes:

"Cutting Grouts for Soup"--the Countess of Chevenix assisted by Mr.

"Hollandaise Sauce"--The Marchioness of Valmond, Mr. Dick Seton.

And we did do ours badly, I am afraid, because there was a nice low
dresser in a cool gloomy place, and we sat down on that, and my
assistant whispered such lovely things that we forgot, and stirred all
wrong, and the head cook came and scolded us, and said we had spoilt
six eggs, and he should not give us another job; we were only fit to
arrange flowers! So we went to the dining-room, and you can't think of
the fun we had. The Club house is an old place with low rooms and all
cosey. Octavia was in there--the dining-room--helping to lay the cloth,
as she had been rather clumsy, too, and been sent away, and her young
man was as nice as mine; and we four had a superb time, as happy as
children, but Tom was nothing but a drone, for he sat with Kitty in a
window seat behind some curtains, and did not do a thing.

My one said he had never seen such a sweet squirrel as me in my apron,
and I do wish, Mamma, we could have fun like this in England; it is so
original to cook one's dinner! And when it came in, all so well
arranged, each member knowing his appointed duties, it was excellent,
the best one could taste. And everybody was witty and brilliant, and
nobody wanted to interrupt with their story before the other had
finished his. So the time simply flew until it came to dessert, and
there were speeches and toasts, and Octavia and I as the guests of
honour each received a present of a box of bonbons like a huge acorn;
but when we opened them, out of mine there jumped a darling little real
squirrel, quite tame and gentle, and coddled up in my neck and was too
attractive, so I purred to it of course and caressed it, for the rest
of the time; and Mr. Dick said it was not fair to waste all that on a
dumb animal, when there were so many deserving talking squirrels in the
room, and especially himself. I have never had such an amusing evening.
Even the quaint and rather solemn touch pleased me, of the first toast
being said between two freshly lighted candles, to those members who
were dead. The club dates from Colonial times, too, so there must have
been a number of them, and if their spirits were there in the room they
must have seen as merry a party as the old room had ever witnessed.

Dear, polite, courteous gentlemen! And I wish you had been with us,
Mamma. I came a roundabout way back alone with my "partner-in-sauce" as
we called him, in his automobile, an open one, and we just tore along
for miles as fast as we could, and though he was driving himself, he
managed to say all sorts of charming things; and when we got back to
Kitty's more people came, and we had an impromptu dance and then
supper, and all the servants had gone to bed, so we had to forage for
things in the pantry, and altogether I have never had such fun in my
life, and Octavia, too.

To-day we go back to New York and then out West, so good-bye, dearest
Mamma. I will cable you from each stopping place, and write by every

Fond love to my babies.

Your affectionate daughter,




DEAREST MAMMA,--All our preparations are made, and we start for the
West by Niagara Falls, which I have always wanted to see. The Vicomte
is coming with us, and our charming Senator, Elias P. Arden. So I am
sure we shall have an agreeable time. "Lola" and the husband have
already started, and will join us at Los Angeles from San Francisco;
and the Senator says he is "in touch" with Mr. Renour, and he hopes he
will "be along" by the time we get to the private car.

These few days in New York have confirmed our opinion of everyone's
extraordinary kindness and hospitality. All their peculiarities are
just caused by being so young a nation; they are quite natural;
whatever their real feelings are come out. As children are touchy, so
are they, and as children boast, so do they, and just as children's
hearts are warm and generous, so are theirs. So I think this quality of
youth is a splendid one, don't you, Mamma?

Valerie's set are practically the same as ours at home in their tone,
and way of living, and amusements, so I have not told you anything
special of them, the only difference being we never worry in the least
about what people think of us, and when we talk seriously it is of
politics, and they of Wall Street affairs, which shows, doesn't it,
that such things are more interesting to them than the making of laws.
We have not heard politics talked about in any class in New York.
Attacks on the President often, because he is said to have interfered
with trusts by probing their methods, which gets back to the vital
point of dollars and cents. People will speak for and against him for
hours, but not from a political point of view, and abstract political
discussions we have never heard.

I have not yet grasped the difference between "Democrat" and
"Republican," and so I don't know if it is just the same as at home,
that whichever is Radical wants to snatch each one for his own hand and
does not care a rush about the nation; while whichever is Conservative
cares nothing for personal advancement--having arrived there
already--so has time and experience to look ahead and think of the

If you had a delicate baby, Mamma, would not you rather give it into
the hands of a thoroughly trained nurse than an ignorant aspiring
nursery maid taking her first place, who was more likely to be thinking
of the head nurse's wages she was going to get than her duties to the
child? That is how I look upon the parties at home, but here I expect
it is more as the Whigs and Tories were, each equal in class and
experience, only holding different views. I should like to have a peep
about five hundred years ahead. I am sure the ignorant nurse-maids will
have killed our baby by then, and we shall be a wretched down-trodden
commune, while they will be a splendidly governed aristocratic nation
under one autocratic king!

I have not told you a thing about the Park, or the general aspect of
the houses; we are rushed so it is hard to write. But the Park is a
perfectly charming place, as nice as the Bois, and much nicer than our
attempt that way, and everyone who goes there seems to be out on a
holiday. Fifth Avenue runs beside it like our Park Lane, beginning at
Fifty-ninth Street, and about every five years people have to move
further up, because of the encroaching shops. So it hardly seems worth
while to spend millions on building white marble palaces which may be
torn down or converted in so short a time. Nothing is allowed to last.
Heaps of the mansions are perfectly beautiful in style, and many simple
as well, which is always the prettiest; but you can meet Francois
Premier Castles, and Gothic Halls, and all sorts of mixed freaks, too,
in half an hour's walk, and it seems to me a pity they can't use their
rollers and just cart these into the side streets. But if I were
rebuilding Valmond House I would get an American architect to do it for
me, and on the American principle, that is, I should get him to study
all the best they have done and then "go one better!"

Unless you are quite in the poor parts every creature in the streets is
spruce and well dressed; men and women have that look of their things
being brushed and ironed to the last state of perfection. And if it is
the fashion in Paris to have hats two feet across they will have them a
yard; but as they all have the same, one's eye gets accustomed to it,
and it does not look ridiculous.

The longer one stays the more one admires that extraordinary quality of
"go"--a mental alertness and lucidity they have immeasurably beyond
European nations; very few people are intellectual, but all are
intelligent and advancing. No one browses like such hundreds do at
home, and all are much more amusing companions in consequence.

Last night we went to see China Town with Valerie's brother and some
other young men, and two or three women. Valerie would not come because
she has done it before and it bores her, and no American woman
deliberately does what she finds wearisome. They are sensible. First we
dined at the Cafe Lafayette, which is almost down town, and near
Washington Square, and then started in automobiles which we left in the
Bowery. One always thought that was a kind of cut throat Whitechapel,
did not one? But it is most quiet and respectable, so is China Town,
and I am sure we need not have had the two detectives who accompanied

Outside there is nothing very lurid to look at. The Mayor met us at the
opening of the street, a most entertaining character of what
would answer to our Coster class I suppose. He spoke pure
Bowery-Irish-Coster-American slang, which the detectives translated for
us. It was about this: That he had seen English Lords before, and they
weren't half bad when you knew 'em, and he took a particular fancy to
Octavia because he said "her Nobs" (his late wife, or one of them) had
red hair, too, and "ginger for pluck." He had several teeth missing,
lost in fights, I suppose, and a perfectly delicious sense of humour. I
wish we could have understood all he said, but our host insinuated it
was just as well not! He led us first to "the theatre"--a den
underground, with the stage still lower at one end, where a Chinese
play was going on. The atmosphere was an unbelievable mixture of heat
and smell. And wouldn't you hate to be a Chinese woman, Mamma, packed
away in a sort of pen at one corner with all the other women and
children and not allowed to sit with the men. We went in there, too,
for as long as we could stand it. The audience were too quaint, not in
their national dress, but ordinary clothes and pigtails; you couldn't
have been sure they were human beings, or of what sex.

The play seemed to a thrilling one as far as we could see; they had
just got to a part where the whole company were going to be beheaded.
One of our party felt faint from the heat, and no wonder, so we
continued our travels. We descended a kind of ladder near the door,
into the bowels of the earth; and I was glad it was almost pitch dark,
because Gaston was just below me and made the greatest fuss of the
necessity of putting each of my feet safely on the steps for me; and
once towards the bottom I am sure he kissed my instep, but as it might
have been a bundle of tow which was sticking out on the last step,
brushing against me, I did not like to say anything to him about it. We
crossed some kind of rat hole rooms in utter darkness, and here one
respectful brotherly arm, and one passionate, _entreprenant_ one came
round my waist! And while in my right ear the voice of Valerie's
brother said kindly, "I'm obliged to hold on to you or you'll have an
awful fall"--in my left Gaston was whispering, "Je vous adore, vous
savez; n'allez pas si vite!" So I had to be very angry with him, and
clung to Valerie's brother, who toward the end of the evening got into
being quite a cousin instead of an aunt or father.

We had been burrowing under the auditorium, and presently found
ourselves in a large cellar where a Chinese was cooking on a brazier an
unspeakable melange of dog, fish, and rat for the actors' supper, with
not a scrap of ventilation anywhere!! Finally, up some steps, we
emerged behind the scenes, and saw all the performers dressing--rows of
false beards and wonderful garments hanging all around the walls; the
most indescribable smell of opium, warm eastern humanity, and grease
paint, and no _air_! A tiny baby was there being played with by its
proud father. Their lung capacity must be quite different to ours,
because if we had not quickly returned I am sure some of us would have
fainted. I felt strangely excited; it had a weird, fierce effect. What
a fatal mysterious nation the Chinese! Unlike any others on earth. I
did not much care who held me going back. I only wanted to rush to the
open air, and when we had climbed up again and got outside in the
street, we all staggered a little and could not speak.

When breath returned, further down the street, we recommenced burrowing
into a passage to the opium den, and this was a most wonderful and
terrible sight; a room with a stove in it, not more than ten feet
square and about eight feet high, no perceptible ventilation but the
door, which the detective put his foot in to keep a little open; a
raised platform along one side of the place, and on it four Chinamen
lying in different stages of the effects of opium. The first one's eyes
were beginning to glaze, the pipe had fallen from his hand, and he was
staring in front of him, and clutching some sheets of paper with
Chinese writing on them in one hand, a ghastly smile of extraordinary
bliss on his poor thin face. He was "happy and dreamin'," the detective
told us. I do wonder what about, don't you, Mamma? The next had just
begun to smoke, and was angry at our entrance because we let in some
air! The detectives made him give us the pipe to smell, and we watched
the way it was smoked, the man looking sullen and fierce and resentful,
crouching like a beast ready to spring. So Valerie's brother and Gaston
both thought it their duty to take care of me. The next man was half
asleep, also smoking, and the fourth what they call "quite sick." He
was the most dreadful of all, as he might have been a corpse except for
the rising and falling of his chest. The Mayor told us, with the most
amusing reflections upon this serious subject, that he would lie like
that for forty-eight hours and then wake. A fearful looking creature
crouched by the stove, cooking some more dog, or preparing something
for the opium; and a glaring piece of scarlet cloth hung down from a
rail at the top. There were some wicked long knives lying about, and
the whole thing, lit up by the light of one lantern, was a grim picture
of horror I shall never forget and hope never to see again. And this is
called pleasure! What a mercy, Mamma, our idea of joy is different. I
am glad to have seen these strange things, but I never want to again.

Everyone's head swam from the smell of the opium, and Tom said he was
rather sorry he had let us go there because of that; but Octavia told
him not to be ridiculous; experience is what we had come to America
for, and this is one of the sights.

After that we just had fun, going to a joss-house to have our fortunes
told, where a quaint priest and acolyte went through all sorts of comic
mysteries, and finally paired Octavia off with one of the detectives
for her fate! (Tom was furious!) and me with Valerie's brother, and
Gaston looked in despair at that! Then after buying curiosities at the
curio shop, we returned to the automobiles and went to Delmonico's to
supper. But the opium had got into our brains I think, for we could
only tell gruesome stories, and all felt "afraid to go home in the

And now, Mamma, in case you have been worrying over us going into awful
places, I may as well tell you that at the end of supper our host
informed us that the whole show of the opium den had been got up for
our benefit, and was not the real thing at all!!! But whether this is
true or no I can't say; if it was "got up" it was awfully well done,
and I don't want to see any realler.

We can't get enough "drawing-rooms" on the train for everybody
to-morrow, so Octavia and I shall have one, and the senator and either
Tom or the Vicomte the other, and whoever is left out will have to
sleep in the general place. I believe it is too odd, but I will tell
you all about it when I have seen it.--If Harry writes to you and asks
about me, just say I am enjoying myself awfully, and say I am thinking
of becoming a naturalised American! That ought to bring him back at
once. I have been dying to cable and make it up with him, but of course
as I have determined not to, I can't. I am sorry to hear Hurstbridge
got under the piano and then banged the German Governess's head as she
tried to pull him out; but what can you expect, Mamma? His temper is
the image of Harry's.

Kiss the angels for me, both of them!

Your affectionate daughter,




DEAREST MAMMA,--We got here this morning after such a night!--The
sleeping cars are too amusing. Picture to yourself the arrangement of
seats I told you about going to the Spleists, with a piece put in
between to make into a bed, and then another bed arranged on top, these
going all down each side and just divided from the aisle by green
curtains; so that if A. likes to take a top berth and B. an underneath
one, they can bend over their edges, and chat together all night, and
no one would know except for the bump in the curtains. But fancy having
to crouch up and dress on one's bed! And when Octavia and I peeped out
of our drawing-room this morning we saw heaps of unattractive looking
arms and legs protruding, while the struggle to get into clothes was
going on.

A frightful thing happened to poor Agnes. Tom's valet, who took our
tickets, did not get enough, not understanding the ways, and Tom and
the senator and the Vicomte had tossed up which two were to have the
drawing-room, and Tom lost; so when Hopkins, who is a timid creature,
found a berth did not mean a section, he of course gave up his without
saying anything to Tom, and as the conductor told him there was not
another on the train he wandered along and at last came to Agnes's. She
had a lower berth next our door, and was away undressing me. Hopkins
says he thought it was an unoccupied one the conductor had overlooked,
so he took it, and when Agnes got back and crawled in in the dark she
found him there!! There was a dreadful scene!! We heard Hopkins scream,
and I believe he ran for his life, and no one knows where he slept.

Agnes said it was too ridiculous and "_tres mauvais gout_" on his part
to make such a fuss over "_un petit accident de voyage." "Je puis
assurer Madame la Marquise_," she said, "_que s'il etait reste c'eut
ete la meme chose. Son type ne me dit rien_!" At the same time she does
not think these trains "_comme il faut_!"

We were just in time for an early breakfast when we arrived at this
hotel, and the quaintest coloured gentlemen waited on us; they were
rather aged, and had a shambling way of dragging their feet, but the
most sympathetic manners, just suited to the four honeymoon pairs who
were seated at little tables round. That was a curious coincidence,
wasn't it, Mamma, to find four pairs in one hotel in that state. None
of the bridegrooms were over twenty-five, and the brides varied from
about eighteen to twenty-eight; we got the senator to ask about them,
and one lot had been married a week, and they each read a paper propped
up against their cups, and did not speak much, and you would have
thought they were quite indifferent; but from where I sat I could see
their right and left hands clasped under the table! Another pair with a
dour Scotch look ate an enormous meal in solemn silence, and then they
went off and played tennis! Their wedding took place three days ago!!
The third had been there a fortnight, and seemed very jaded and bored,
while the last were mere children, and only married yesterday! She was
too sweet, and got crimson when she poured out his tea, and asked him if
he took sugar? I suppose up till now they had only been allowed nursery
bread and milk.

I don't believe I should like to have had my honeymoon breakfasts in
public, would you, Mamma? Because I remember Harry always wanted--but I
really must not let myself think of him or all my pride will vanish,
and I shall not be able to resist cabling.

I find the senator too attractive. He does not speak much generally,
and never boasts of anything he has done. We have to drag stories out
of him, but he must have had such a life, and I am sure there is some
tragedy in his past connected with his wife. He has such a whimsical
sense of humour, and yet underneath there is a ring of melancholy
sometimes. I know he and I are going to be the greatest friends. Gaston
is getting seriously in love, which is perfectly ridiculous; he almost
threatened to throw himself into the falls when we went to look at
them; but fortunately I said only the very curly-haired could look well
when picked up drowned, so that put him off.

I was not half so impressed with the falls as I ought to have been.
They don't seem so high as in the pictures, and the terrible buildings
on one side distract one so it seems as if even the water can't be
natural, and must be just arranged by machinery. But it was fun going
under them, and those oilskin coats and caps are most becoming. You go
down in a lift and then walk along passages scooped out of the rock
until you are underneath the volume of water, which pours over in front
of you like a curtain. It was here Gaston suggested his suicide, and
all because I had told the senator that he was to arrange for us to
have a drive alone in the afternoon, and he overheard in the echo the
place makes. I had never asked him to drive alone he said, and I said,
certainly not, the senator and I would talk philosophy, whereas he
would make love to me, I knew, and it would not be safe. That pacified
him a good deal, and as I had been rather unsympathetic and horrid all
the morning, I was lovely to him for the rest of the day; and he is
really quite a dear, Mamma, as I have always told you.

Octavia says she thinks it rather hard my grabbing everybody like this,
and she had wanted the senator for herself on our trip, so we have
agreed to share him, and Tom says it is mean no one has been asked for
him. So the senator has wired to "Lola" to bring two cousins to meet us
at Los Angeles. He says they are the sweetest girls in the world, and
would keep anyone alive. I am rather longing to get there and begin our
fun. After the falls we did the rapids, and they impressed me far more
deeply; they are rushing, wicked-looking things if you like, Mamma, and
how anyone ever swam them I can't imagine. The spring is all too
beautiful, only just beginning, and some of the bends of the river and
views are exquisite. I felt quite romantic on the way back, and allowed
Gaston to repeat poetry to me. We are just starting to get on to
Chicago, so good-bye, dear Mamma.

Love from your affectionate daughter,


P.S.--Octavia says she thinks I am leading Gaston on, but I don't, do
you, Mamma? Considering I stop him every time he begins any long
sentence about love--what more can I do, eh?



DEAREST MAMMA,--We had such an interesting dinner on the train the
night we left Niagara, and here we are. A millionaire travelling also,
whom the senator knew, joined us for the meal, so we sat four at one
table, and Gaston and Octavia alone at the other side. He was such a
wonderful person, the first of just this kind we have met yet, although
we are told there are more like him in Pittsburg and Chicago.

He was thick-set everywhere, a bull neck and fierce moustache and bushy
eyebrows, and gave one the impression of sledge-hammer force. The whole
character seemed to be so dominated and obsessed by an immense personal
laudation, that his conversation created in our minds the doubt that
qualities which required so much vaunting could really be there. It was
_his_ wonderful will which had won his game, _his_ wonderful diplomacy,
_his_ wonderful knowledge of men, _his_ clever perception, _his_
supreme tact; in short, _his_ everything in the world. The slightest
show of a contrary opinion to anything he said was instantly pounced
upon and annihilated. I do wonder, Mamma, if two of his sort got
together what their conversation would be about? Would they shout one
another down, each saying he was perfect, and so end in thunder or
silence? Or would they contradict each other immediately and come to
blows, or would they realise it was no use boasting to one of their own
species, and so talk business or be quiet?

We, being strangers, were splendid victims for him, and I am sure he
spent a dinner of pure joy. After each speech of self appreciation he
would look round the table in a triumphant challenging way, and say,
"Say, senator, isn't that so?" and the dear senator, with a twinkle in
his grey eye, would reply:

"Why, certainly, Governor." (He was a governor of some place once, the
senator knew.)

Finally he got on to his marvellous cleverness in the training of the
young. He had no children himself, he said, but he had "raised" two
young men in his office, and as a proof of their wonderful astuteness
from his teaching, "I give you my word, Ma'am," he said, "either of
them could draw a contract now for me, out of which I could slip at any

Isn't that a superb idea, Mamma! And the complete frankness with which
it was said! What we would call sharp practice he considered "smart,"
and no doubt that is the way to get rich; for when he had gone on to
the smoking car, the senator told us he was five times a millionaire,
and really a good fellow underneath.

"We've got to have all sorts to make a nation, and he's the kind of
machine that does the rough-hewing," he said. "He did no bragging when
he was under dog; he just bottled it up and pushed on, but it was that
spirit which caused him to rise. Now he's made good, won his millions,
and it bursts out."--(It certainly did!)

The Senator always sees straight. He said also: "He rough-hews
everything he handles, including his neighbours' nerves; he has no
mercy or pity or consideration for anyone serving him, and yet he's the
kindest heart towards children and animals, and the good he does to
them is about the only thing he don't brag about."

It interested me immensely, but Tom had got so ruffled that I am sure
even his sense of humour could not have kept him from contradicting
Craik Purdy, his name is--Craik V. Purdy, I mean!

The Senator told us lots more about him and his methods, succeeding by
sheer brute force and shouting all opposition down. Don't you wish,
Mamma, we had some like him at home to deal with the socialists? These
men are the real autocrats of the world, even though America is a
republic. But wouldn't it be frightful to be married to a person like
that! Octavia, who even in the noise of the train had heard some of it,
asked the Senator what the wife was like, and he told us she had been a
girl of his own class who had never risen with him, and was a rare
exception in American women, who rise quicker than the men as a rule.

"She's been every sort of drawback to him," he said, "and yet he is
almighty kind to her and covers her with diamonds; and she is a dullish
sort of woman with a cold in her head."

Octavia said at once that was the kind she wanted to see in Chicago. Of
what use to meet more charming and refined people like in New York or
Philadelphia. She wanted to sample the "rough-hewn." And we both felt,
Mamma, one must have a nice streak in one to go on being kind to a
person who has a continual cold in her head.

The Senator said he would arrange a luncheon party for us in Chicago
unlike anything we had had in any place yet, and it is coming off
to-morrow. But first I must tell you of Detroit, where we stopped the
night before last, and of our arrival here. The whole train goes over
in a ferry boat from the Canadian to the American side and dinner and
screaming tram cars under the window are the only distinct memories I
have after our arrival, until next day, when we took a motor and went
for a drive.

Detroit is really the most perfectly laid out city one could imagine,
and such an enchanting park and lake,--infinitely better than any town
I know in Europe. It ought to be a paradise in about fifty years when
it has all matured. That is where the Americans are clever, in the
beautiful laying-out of their towns; but then, as I said, they have not
old debris to contend with, though I shall always think it looks queer
and unfinished to see houses standing just in a mown patch unseparated
from the road by any fence. I should hate the idea of strangers being
able to peep into my windows.

We left about twelve, after being interviewed by several reporters in
the hall of the hotel. These halls are apparently meeting places for
countless men, simply crammed like one could have imagined a portico in
the Roman days,--not people necessarily staying there, but herds of
others from outside. The type gets thicker as one leaves New York. It
reminds one of a funny man I once saw in the pantomime who put on about
six suits, one after another, growing gradually larger, though no
taller or fatter--just thick. All these in the hall were meaty, not one
with that lean look of the pictures of "Uncle Sam," but more like our
"John Bull," only not portly and complacent as he is, but just thick
all over, at about the three coat stage; thick noses, thick hair, thick
arms, thick legs, and nearly invariably clean-shaven and keen looking.
The Senator said they were the ordinary business people and might any
of them rise to be President of the Republic. We are perfectly overcome
with admiration and respect for their enormous advancing and adaptive
power, because just to look at we should not call these of the
Senator's class. But think what brains they must have, and what
vitality; and those things matter a great deal more than looks to a

The Senator said the type would culminate in Chicago, and gradually get
finer again out in the far West. And he seemed right, from the
impression we got of the crowd in this hotel. It was rather like a
Christmas nightmare, when everyone had turned into a plum pudding, or
those gingerbread men the old woman by the Wavebeach pier used to sell.
Do you remember, Mamma? Perfectly square and solid. They are ahead of
Detroit, and at the six coat stage here. Probably all as good as gold,
and kind and nice and full of virtues; but for strangers who don't know
all these things, just to look at, they make one think one is dreaming.

Do you suppose it is, if they have to be so much among pork and meat
generally, perhaps that makes them solid? We did not know a soul to
speak to, nor did the Senator either, though he said he was acquainted
with many nice people in Chicago; so perhaps they were just travellers
like us after all, and we have no right to judge of a place by them.

We supped--we had arrived very late--and watched the world in from the
theatres. We don't know of what class they were, or of what society,
only they were not the least like New York. The women were, some of
them, very wonderfully dressed, though not that exquisite Paris look of
the New Yorkers, and they had larger hats and brighter colours; and
numbers of them were what the Senator calls "homely." We were very
silent,--naturally, we did not like to say our thoughts aloud to the
Senator, an American; but he spoke of it to us himself.

He said his eye, accustomed to the slender lean cowboys and miners,
found them just as displeasing as he was sure we must. "Lordy," he
said, "they look a set of qualifying prize-fighters gorged with
sausage-meat, and then soaked in cocktails." And though that sounds
frightfully coarse to write, Mamma, it is rather true. Then he added,
"And yet some of the brightest brains of our country have come from
Chicago. I guess they kept pretty clear of this crowd."

One of the strangest things is that no one is old, never more than
sixty and generally younger; the majority from eighteen to thirty-five,
and also, something we have remarked everywhere, everyone seems happy.
You do not see weary, tired, bored faces, like in Europe, and no one is
shabby or dejected, and they are all talking and drinking and laughing
with the same intent concentrated force they bring to everything they
do, and it is simply splendid.

To-morrow we are going to drive about and see everything. The
aristocracy live in fine houses just outside the town, we are told, and
the Senator has arranged with Mr. Craik Purdy for us all to go and have
lunch with him in his mansion. This is the party he promised us, which
would be different to what we had seen before, and we are looking
forward to it. And there is one thing I feel sure: even if they are
odd, we shall find a generous welcome, original ideas, and kind hearts;
and the more I see the more I think these qualities matter most.

Now I must go to bed, dearest Mamma.

You haven't heard from Harry, I suppose? Because if you have you might
let me know.

Your affectionate daughter,



_In the train going West._

DEAREST MAMMA,--Forgive this shaky writing, but I had no time before we
left, and I feel I must tell you at once about our luncheon at the
Purdy Castle, in case anything gets dulled in my memory. It was a
unique experience. We spent the morning seeing the town, an immense
busy place with colossal blocks of houses, and some really fine
architecture, all giving the impression of a mighty prosperous and
advancing nation, and quite the best shops one could wish for, not too
crowded, and polite assistants--even at the ribbon counter!

Octavia and I made ourselves look as smart as we could in travelling
dresses, because there would be no time to change after the lunch; we
had to go straight to the train. I always think it is such impertinence
imposing your customs upon other nations when you are travelling among
them, like the English people who will go to the Paris restaurants
without hats, and one Englishwoman we met at a party at Sherry's in New
York in a draggled tweed skirt and coat, when all the other women were
in long afternoon dresses. One should do as one's hosts do, but we
could not help it this time and did not look at all bad considering.

However, when we got there we felt we were indeed out of it! But I must
begin from the very door-step.

We drove a little way beyond the town to rows of dwelling mansions more
or less important and growing in magnificence until we arrived at one
inside some gates, a cross between a robber's castle on the stage, and
a Henri III. chateau, mixed with a "little English Gothic." Huge,
un-nameable animals were carved on top of the gates. Tom said the
fathers of them must have been "gazeekas," and their mothers "slithy
toves," out of "Through the Looking-glass." They were Mr. Purdy's
crest, we suppose. Then came a short gravel path and a robber's castle,
nail-studded door. All the down-stairs windows had the shutters shut,
so we were rather nervous ringing the bell in case there had been a
death since our invitation came; but the door was opened immediately by
a German butler--one of those people one sees at sea-side hotels, who
have come over to learn English, with a slow sort of walk and
stentorian breathing.

The hall was full of pictures in the widest gold frames, all sorts:
landscapes, portraits, cats, dogs, groups of still life, good, bad, and
indifferent massed together on a wall covered with large-patterned
scarlet and gilt Japanese leather paper. Guarding the doors and
staircase were imitation suits of armour on dummy men, standing under
some really beautiful Toledo blades crossed above their heads. Then,
through crimson plush curtains with gold applique Florentine patterned
borders, we were ushered into the drawing-room.

It was so original! Think, Mamma, of a sarcophagus for a drawing-room!
Stone walls and floor, tombstone mantlepieces (mixed Gothic), really
good Persian rugs, and the very most carved, brand new gilt Louis
Philippe suite of furniture, helped out by mammoth armchairs and sofa,
covered in gold brocade. These had the same shape and look for
furniture as the men in the hotel hall had for men, so colossally
stuffed out and large. The Vicomte said, "Dieu! Un salon
d'Hippopotames!" It was a glorious sunny day, but from the hall onwards
all daylight had been excluded, and the drawing-room was a blaze of
electric light, flashing from countless gilt branches; while the guests
to meet us were drawn up on the hearth rug, the women in full
restaurant evening dress, a little decollete, and hats, and glittering
with jewels.

Octavia and I felt miserably cheap creatures. Mr. Craik V. Purdy,
simply gorgeous about waistcoat and watchchain, presented us to his
wife, a short, red-haired woman (I do dislike red hair, don't you,
Mamma?). She was very stout, but I don't understand why she was such a
"drawback." She had the jolliest face and laugh, even if her voice was
the voice of the Lusitania's siren.

The customs are so quaint! She introduced us to each guest (not the
guests to us!) and they each repeated our names after her like this:

"Lady Chevenix and Lady Valmond, I want to present you to Mrs. Colonel
Prodgers." Then Mrs. Colonel Prodgers repeated, "Lady Chevenix, Lady
Valmond," and so on all down the line, until our poor names rang in our
heads; and Tom and the Senator and the Vicomte just the same. The
company were about seven women besides our hostess, and only three
young, the others verging on forty; and all the men were husbands, whom
the wives spoke of as "Mr." So and So when they mentioned them--just as
the townspeople do when they come out to the Conservative meetings or
bazaars at home; and the husbands did the same. But they do this in New
York even, unless in the very highest set; no man is spoken of by his
wife as "Bob" or "Charlie" or "my husband;" always "Mr." So and So.

Is it not odd, Mamma, that they who are so wonderfully quick and
adaptive should not have noticed that this is a purely middle class
peculiarity? Mr. Purdy had just time to tell us he had paid $40,000 for
a large Dutch picture hanging against the Gothic stone of one panel of
the wall, and $50,000 for a Gainsborough on the next (yes, Mamma, a
beautiful powdered lady in a white robe was smiling down with whimsical
sorrow upon us). Then luncheon was announced and we went in.

The dining-room had been decorated, he told us, a year or two ago, when
taste was even different to what it is now! And he was thinking of
altering it and having it pure Louis XIV. At present it was composed of
saddle-bag coverings, varnished mahogany and a stencilled fleur-de-lys
wall with crossed battle-axes upon it, between pictures and some china
plates, while the table was lit by two huge lamps from the ceiling,
shaded by old gold silk shades with frills. It was as gay as possible,
and the time flew. Here the implements to eat with were more varied and
numerous than even at the Spleists, and the tablecloths more lacy, and
quantities of gold dishes full of almonds and olives and candies and
other nice things, were by one's plate, and one could eat them all
through the meal. Everyone else did, so we did, too, Mamma! and I think
it is a splendid idea. Our host spent his time in telling, first
Octavia, then me, of his fortune and possessions, and how there was no
picture in Europe he could not buy if he wished it, and he intended to
start a gallery. Octavia said he was quite right, as he evidently had a
most original taste; and he was delighted.

The cold in the wife's head could be heard quite plainly even where we
were, and the host shouted so kindly: "Say, Anabel, be careful of that

Fancy an English husband bothering to think of a draught after a
catarrh had been there for fifteen years!

I admired her diamond dog collar and splendid pearls, and he replied
with open-hearted pride, "They came from Tiffany's in New York, Ma'am.
I don't hold with buying foreign goods for American ladies; Mrs. Purdy
has got as first-class stones as any Princess in the world, and they
are every one purchased in America!"

The man at my other hand was very young, but even so a husband. I asked
him how it was all the men were married, and he said he "didn't kinder
know"; it was a habit they dropped into on leaving college; but for his
part he though perhaps it was a pity not to be able to have a look
round a little longer. And then he said thoughtfully, "I guess you're
right. I don't recollect many single men. Why, there's not one here!"

And I said we had found it like that everywhere; they all seemed
married except in Philadelphia.

"But you see we can quit if we want to," he added, "though we don't
start out with that idea." And probably they don't, but I think it must
give an underneath, comforting sort of feeling to know, when you are
trotting up the aisle, or walking across the drawing-room to a lovely
rigged-up altar to swear fidelity to the person who is waiting for you
there, that if he annoys you in a fortnight, you can get free; and all
the experience gained, and not a stain upon your character. I do wish
we were half as sensible in England.

Just think of it, Mamma! I could have divorced Harry by now for
quarrelling with me. I might then marry someone else, divorce him, and
then presently make up with Harry and have the fun of getting married
all over again. Just imagine what stories we could then tell one
another! I could say "My intermediate husband never did such and such,"
or, "Jack would not have spoken in that tone; he made love quite
differently;" and so on, and Harry could say, "You are far sweeter than
Clara; I am glad we have returned to one another." Don't you think it
is a splendid plan? Or are you ridiculously old fashioned like most
English people, who think their worn out old laws the only ones in the

I hope I am not being impertinent, Mamma, to you, but really, after
being in America for a while, where everything is so progressive, I get
impatient with our solidity of thought. It is quite as wearisome to
contemplate, as the Chicago solid body is unattractive to look at.

When we got back the Senator told us that the very young man I had been
talking to had had a quarrel with his wife, and they were actually
settling the divorce proceedings when Mr. Purdy's invitation to meet
the English travellers came the evening before, and they had sent off
the lawyers and made it up to be able to come, and now they may go on
happily for another two years, he says!

Our host told us all sorts of interesting things of his greatness, and
how acquired. He is really a wonderful person, almost a socialist in
politics, and a complete autocrat in his life and methods. Tom and the
Vicomte sat at each side of the hostess, of course, and they told us
she practically did not hear a word they said, she was so anxious that
the servants should do their duty and ply them with food.

"Mr. Purdy would never forgive me if you didn't get just what you
fancy," she said; and however quaint the idea, the spirit which
prompted it was so kind; they said they just gorged everything which
was put in front of them, to please her.

"An admirable woman, and first class wife," Tom told Octavia
afterwards; so she said she would ask Mr. Purdy to arrange a divorce
and they would have an exchange, she becoming Mrs. Purdy and Mrs. Purdy
Countess of Chevenix for a while; but Tom would not agree to that. Men
are selfish, aren't they, Mamma?

After lunch we were taken to see the pictures in the hall and different
rooms, and some of them were really beautiful, and I have no doubt in a
few years' time, when Mr. Purdy has travelled more, and educated his
eye, he really will collect a gallery worth having, and eliminate the
atrocities. His feeling was more to have a better collection than
anyone else in Chicago, or indeed America, rather than the joy of the
possession of the exquisite pictures themselves. But even this spirit
gets together lovely things, which will benefit future, and more highly
cultured people; so it all has good in it.

They were so kind we could hardly get away to catch our train, and we
have promised to go again if ever we pass this way. The women after
lunch talked among themselves, and were deeply intent and confidential
when we got back to the drawing-room after seeing the pictures; but
they made way for us and were most agreeable. All of them had set views
on every subject, not any hesitation or indecision, and they all used
each other's names in every sentence. They were full of practical
common sense, and rigid virtue; and did not worry about intellectual

At this moment the Vicomte has peeped in to call Octavia and me to
dinner; we were resting in our drawing-room. So I must stop. I will
post this to-morrow when we get to a big station.

Your affectionate daughter,



P.S.--These sleeping cars are really wonderful. Such a thing happened
last night! But it shows how comfortable the beds are, and how soundly
people can sleep. At the station where we stopped after dinner, two
couples got in, an uncle and nephew, married to an aunt and niece; only
the uncle's wife was the niece, and the nephew's the aunt, a plain
elderly person with a fierce commanding glance and a mole on her upper
lip, while he was a nice-looking boy with droopy grey eyes. The train
was very crowded, and they could only get two single berths--lower
ones, but they are quite wide enough for two people to sleep in at a
pinch. It appears the husbands went off to smoke while the wives
undressed and got into bed, and when they returned the coloured
conductor showed them to their places, naturally thinking, as they were
the same name, the old ones were a pair and the young ones another. And
fancy, Mamma, they never found out till the morning, when the whole car
was awakened by the old lady's yells! And the old gentleman flew out
like Hopkins and wanted to nearly murder the conductor. But it was not
the least his fault, was it? And the nephew, such a nice, generous
fellow, gave the poor nigger twenty-five dollars to make up for being
roughly handled. The niece still slept on through all this noise, and
Tom, who was passing at the time the old gentleman lifted the curtains
to climb in there, said she looked the sweetest thing possible with her
long eyelashes on her cheek.

The four had the next table to us at lunch, and they seemed all at
sixes and sevens with one another, the elderly lady glaring at her
young husband, and the uncle frowning at the niece, while the nephew
had just the look of Hurstbridge when Mademoiselle scolds him unjustly.
It was dreadful for them, wasn't it, Mamma? and not a soul to blame.

_Still in the train._

DEAREST MAMMA,--You can't think what interesting country we are going
through. We woke yesterday morning and peeped out about five to see the
most perfect desolation one could imagine,--much more grim than the
Egyptian desert: vast unending plains of uneven ground, with a rough
dried drab grass in splodges, and high scrub. Not a bird or animal in
all these hundreds of miles, only desolation; generally perfectly flat,
but here and there rising ground and rough hills. The Senator says it
is the end of the ranch country, but we have seen no sign of cattle or
any beast, and what could they eat? At long intervals we have passed a
few board shanties like card houses grouped together near the track;
just fancy living there, Mamma! Even with the nicest young man in the
world it would be a trial, wouldn't it? And those Mormons crossed it
all in waggons! And we are finding it quite long in a train! It is
still going on, and now the surface is a little different; low hills
are sticking up just like elephants' backs, and the same colour; no
ranches are here or any living thing. We get into our drawing-room, all
of us, and the Senator tells us stories of his young days, too
exciting, they must have been, when he came through here before all the
railway was built. No wonder he is so splendid a character now, having
had to be so strong and fearless all his life. Every word he says is
interesting, and perfectly vivid and true; and his views on every
subject that is discussed are common-sense and exact. He has no
prejudices, and is not touchy. He can see his own nation's faults as
well as ours, and his first thought is to appreciate the good

He says there is a very grave danger to the country in the liberty of
the press, which has a most debasing influence by printing all the
sensational news, and encouraging the interest in these things in the
youthful mind. It must bring a paltry taint into the glorious freedom
of the true American spirit, but that will right itself. He says: "They
are too darned sane to suffer a scourge when once they begin to see
its fruits." And while the rest were in the observation car after tea
he talked to me of happiness. Happiness, he said, was the main and
chief object in life, and yet nine-tenths of the people of the world
throw it away for such imitation pleasure; and you can't often catch it
again once you have lost it.

I asked him what the greatest was, and he said perfect happiness was to
be close to the woman you loved. If that was impossible there were
several substitutes of a secondary sort--your children, ambition,
success, and even rest. Then his eyes grew all misty and sad, and he
looked out on the desert, and at that moment we were passing a group of
a few shanties close to the rails. They were tumbled down and deserted,
and nearby lay the skeleton of a horse. "It was in just such a place as
that, only a good bit farther west, I first saw my Hearts-ease," he
said. "The boys called her 'Hearts-ease' because she was the sweetest
English flower, drifted out to the mines with the people who had
adopted her." He paused, and I slipped my hand into his, he looked so
sad, and then he told me all the story, Mamma, and it has touched me
so, I tell it to you.

He had gone to this small rough camp, about thirty miles short of the
Great Eagles, with only ten cents in his pocket, from the ranch where
he had been a cowboy. He had ridden for days, and there his horse had
died. He crept up half dead, carrying his saddle bags, and these
people, "human devils," he called them, who owned Hearts-ease, let him
come in and lie in a shed. They kept a sort of a gambling den, all of
the most primitive, and the worst rogues of the world congregated there
in the evenings.

Hearts-ease was about sixteen, and they looked upon her as a promising
decoy-duck, but she was "just the purest flower of the prairies," he
said, and so they beat and starved her in consequence, for not falling
in with their views.

That night when he lay in the straw, she crept out of some corner where
she slept, and warned him not to remain, if he had gold in the bags, or
they would certainly murder him before morning; and she gave him some
water, and half her wretched supper, because he had been too tired to
eat when he arrived. Then he told her he was only a poor cowboy, hoping
to get on to the Great Eagles Camp and make his fortune; and they
stayed there talking till dawn, and she bathed his poor feet, all
bleeding from his long tramp, and must have been too sweet and
adorable, Mamma. And when the morning came and her adopted parents
found he was still there and had only ten cents to pay with, they tried
to make him leave, and beat Hearts-ease before his eyes, which made him
so mad he got out his gun (that means revolver) and would have shot the
man, only Hearts-ease clung to him, and begged him not to. Then they
called in some more brutes, who had been drinking and gambling all
night in the bar, and overpowered him, and threw him out, and the girl,
too, and said he might take her to hell with him, they would shelter
her no more. And one of the brutes said he would fight him for her, and
they made a ring and the brute tried to get his pistol off first; but
it hit another man, and before he could shoot again, the Senator fired
and wounded him in the side; and as he fell, and the others, angry at
his hitting one of them, all began to quarrel together, the Senator and
the girl slipped away, and ran and hid in the scrub. If you could have
heard him telling all this, Mamma, in the dying light, his strong face
and quiet voice so impressive! I shall never forget it. Well, the girl
had brought some bread in a handkerchief, which he had not eaten, and
they shared that together, and when it was dark they slept under the
stars; and "by then I'd just grown to love her," he said, and "we were
quite content to die together if we couldn't push on to the big camp;
but we meant to make an almighty try."

They did get there, finally, and the sheriff married them, and here his
voice broke a little and was so low I could hardly hear him. There were
no two people ever so happy, he said. He built a little shack of boards
not twelve feet long, "way up on the mountain," and she kept it like a
new pin, and was dainty and sweet and loving, and when he came in from
the mines she would run to meet him "as gentle as a fawn," and he never
wanted to go to the saloons or drink like the other men, "though I was
always pretty handy with my gun," he said, "and had been through the
whole ugly show."

And presently he began to make a little money and would contrive to
give her small things for the house; it gave her more pleasure than
anything in the world to make it pretty, so that the little shed was
the admiration of all the other miners' wives. And once he was able to
buy some flower seeds, and she grew a pansy in a pot because there is
no green thing in that barren land, and she tended it and watched it as
it came through the earth, and no one was so joyous as she. "It hurts
me to look at pansies even now," he said; and I was glad, Mamma, it was
getting dark, because I felt the tears coming in my eyes. They were
perfectly happy like this for about three years, and then Lola was born
and they were happier still; but before that she used to take him up on
the mountains, above their shack, to look down at the camps, and watch
the stars, and she always used to see things in the future--how they
would be very rich, and he would be a great man. "And this is where
blood tells," he said. "She was nothing but the love-child of some
young English lord, drifted out to our land with her servant-girl
mother. And she'd spent all her life in gambling hells among rogues,
but her soul was the daintiest lady angel that ever walked this earth,
though she could hardly read or write, and all the stars were her
friends, and even a rattlesnake wouldn't have wounded her." Mustn't she
have been a darling, Mamma? She had hair like gold, and little ears,
pink as sea shells, and big blue eyes and a flower for a mouth. No
wonder he loved her so. He said her baby was even more pleasure to her
than the pansy had been, and they both were "just kind of foolish over
it." Well, when Lola was about three months old a gang of desperadoes
came to the camp, and among them the man the Senator had wounded for
his wife. Before the Senator came in from the mine Hearts-ease heard
the other miners' wives talking of this, and how this man had boasted
he would kill him. She knew her husband was unarmed, having left his
gun behind him that day because his second one was broken, and he would
not leave her with none in the shack; quite unsuspiciously he returned
with his comrades, and went into a bar to have a drink on his way back,
as he often did to hear the news of the day. And when Hearts-ease could
not find him on the road, she ran down there, carrying the gun and the
baby, to warn him and give him his weapon, and got into the saloon just
as the desperado and his following entered by another door.

The enemy called out to the Senator that he meant to "do for him this
time," and as Hearts-ease rushed up to her husband with no fear for
herself, holding out the gun, the brute fired and shot her through the
heart, and she fell forward with Lola, dead in the Senator's arms. "And
then the heavens turned to blood," he said, "and I took the gun out of
her dead clasp and killed him like a dog." But by this time, Mamma, I
really was crying so I could hardly hear what he said. No wonder his
eyes have a sad look sometimes, or his hair is gray.

We neither of us spoke for a while. I could only press his strong kind
hand. Then he recovered his voice, and went on as if dreaming: "It all
came true what she prophesied. I am rich beyond her uttermost
fancyings, and I've sampled pretty well most all the world, but I've
always tried to do the things she would have liked me to do. I guess
you've wondered at my dandy clothes, and shiny finger nails. Well, it's
just to please her--if she's looking on." Wasn't he a man worth loving,
Mamma! And of course she did not mind dying for him, and how happy and
glad she must be now, if she is "looking on." Somehow the whole story
has made me so long for Harry, that I have been perfectly miserable all
the evening, and if you think you could cable to him and tell him to
come back I think perhaps you might, and I will say I am sorry.

Your affectionate daughter,



San Francisco.

Dearest Mamma,--I have just got a letter from Jane Roose about having
heard of Mrs. Smith's being on the ship with Harry. Has it come to your
ears, too? What on earth could a woman like that want to be going to
Zanzibar for, unless she was hunting some man who was going to hunt
lions? I call it most extraordinary, don't you? And probably that is
what these papers meant by saying he had gone to India with a fair
haired widow, and I was so silly I never suspected a thing. Well, if he
thinks it will annoy me he is very much mistaken. I don't care in _the
least_, and am amusing myself _awfully_ with Gaston, and you can tell
him so; and as for cabling to him, as I think I asked you to in my last
letter, don't dream of it! Let him enjoy himself if he can. But how any
man could, with that woman, old enough to be his mother! I suppose she
has taken some lovely clothes. She always has that sort of attraction,
and no doubt she is pouring sympathy into his ears in the moonlight
about my unkindness. It makes me feel perfectly sick that anyone can be
such a fool as Harry to be taken in by her;--having got away from her
once, to go back again.

No doubt it was she prompted him to be so horrible to me (he behaved
like a perfect brute you know, Mamma, and I never did a thing). It is
only because I can't bear him to be made a fool of that I mind in the
least, otherwise I am perfectly indifferent. He can play with whom he
chooses, it is nothing to me. Gaston is devoted to me, and although I
should not think of divorcing Harry, No matter what he does, because of
letting that odious woman become Marchioness of Valmond, still it is
nice to know someone else would absolutely die for you, isn't it, even
though I don't want to marry him--Gaston, I mean--We arrived here last
night. We have come all round this way because now we are about it
Octavia felt we ought to see Salt Lake City and San Francisco, and go
down the coast to Los Angeles. Then we shall have done this side of
America thoroughly. We only rushed through everywhere, of course, but
got a general coup d'oeil. Crossing the great Salt Lake was wonderful.
It seemed like being at sea on a bridge, and I could not help wondering
what it would be like if the lake were rough. You can't think of
anything so intelligent as the way that Brigham Young laid out Salt Lake
City, seeing far ahead; he planned splendid avenues, and planted trees,
and even though lots of them still have only mud roads, and little board
shanties down them, they are there all ready for the time when the
splendid houses are built, and tram cars and electric light everywhere;
and such green and beautiful rich looking country! No wonder, after the
desert it seemed the promised land.

I should hate to be a Mormon, wouldn't you, Mamma? Worse than being a
Chinee and having to sit at the theatre penned up with only females.
Think of sharing a man with six other women, and being a kind of
servant. It is natural they look cowed and colourless,--the ones we saw;
at least they were pointed out to us. But really it seems much honester
to call them wives openly than to be like--but no, I won't speak of it
any more. Only _I_ will never share a man with another woman! Not the
least little scrap of him; and if Harry thinks I will he is mistaken. To
have six husbands is a much better plan; that, at least, would teach
one to be awfully agreeable, and to understand the creatures' different
ways; but a man to have six wives is an impossible idea,--specially as
now it is not necessary, the way they behave. I wish I had got Jane's
letter sooner, Mamma, because I could have amused myself more with
Gaston than I have. I feel I have lost some opportunities, snubbing him
all the time.

San Francisco is perfectly wonderful. Imagine colossal switchbacks going
for miles, and other switchbacks crossing them like a chess board,
and you have some idea of the way of the streets; hills as steep as
staircases, and the roads straight up and down, not zigzag, just being
obliged to take the land as it comes; some persons in the beginning, I
suppose, having ruled the plan on flat paper without considering what
the formation was like, and then insisting on its being ruthlessly
carried out.

When we arrived at the station, Octavia and I were put into a two horse
fly because it was very windy and cold. It always is, we are told, and
the motors for hire were all open. So we started to go to Fairmount, the
big hotel right up on the hill. At first it was a sort of gradual slope
past such sad desolation of levelled houses, with hardly the foundations
left. The results of the earthquake and the fire are so incredible that
you would think I was recounting travellers' tales if I described them,
so I won't. Presently the coachman turned his two strong fat horses to
the right, up one of the perpendicular roads, to get to our destination,
but they would have none of it! They backed and jibbed and got as cross
as possible, and he was obliged to continue along the slope, explaining
to us that there was another turning further on which they might be
persuaded to face. But when we got there it was just the same, no
whipping or coaxing could get them to sample it. They backed so
violently that we nearly went over into the cellars of a ruin at the
corner, and the man asked us to get out, as he said it was no use, none
of his horses would face these streets. And to go on to a gradual hill
was miles further along, and he advised us to walk, as the hotel was
only about six hundred yards away!! So in the growing night Octavia and
I, clutching our jewel cases, were left to our own devices. We really
felt deserted, as now that nearly everything in this neighbourhood is in
ruins there are no people about much, and it felt like being alone in a
graveyard, or Pompeii after dark. We almost expected bandits and
wolves or jackals. We started, holding on our hats and feeling very
ill-tempered, but we had not got a hundred yards on our climb, when a
motor tore down upon us, and Gaston and the Senator jumped out; they had
been getting quite anxious at our non-arrival and come to look for us.
Tom, of course, being an English husband, was sure nothing had happened;
and when we got there we found him having a cocktail and smoking a cigar
calmly in the hotel.

As we have come this way we have picked up Lola sooner. I must call her
that, Mamma, although I dislike using peoples' Christian names, but
Mrs. Vinerhorn is so long, and everyone calls her Lola, and the Senator
wished it; he wants us to be friends. He and I have been even more
intimate since he told me his story. I am deeply attached to him; he is
a sort of father and yet not--much nicer, really; and the best friend
I have in the world, except you, Mamma, and one I would rather tell
anything to. He is a perfect dear; we all love him. The two cousins, who
were promised Tom, live here and came to dinner; such amusing girls,
they would make any party merry, and we had the most gay and festive
evening; and one of the Senator's secretaries has joined the party also,
a very nice worthy young fellow whom the girls bully. Columbia and
Mercedes are the girls' names, and they are both small and dark and
pretty. They are both heiresses, and wonderfully dressed. Their two
mothers were the Senator's sisters, and "raised" somewhere down South,
where he originally came from. But the girls have been educated in New
York with Lola.

The crowd in this hotel are totally different looking to Chicago. Some
have moustaches, and some even look like sportsmen, and as if they led
an idle life and enjoyed it; and a few of the women are lovely, pure
pink and white, and golden haired, and that air of breezy go-aheadness
which is always so attractive. And all of them seem well dressed, though
naturally one or two freaks are about, as in every country.

The food was as excellent as in all the places, and rather more
varied--dishes with wonderful salads and ices; and after dinner we sat
in the hall and made plans, and Gaston said such entreprenant things in
my ear that I was obliged to be really angry with him. So to pay me
out he sulked, and then devoted himself to Mercedes. Men are really
impossible people to deal with, aren't they, Mamma? So ridiculously vain
and unreasonable. I shall be glad to see Mr. Renour again; he was quite
different; respectful and yet devoted, not wanting to eat one up like
Gaston, and I am _sure_ incapable of treating me like Harry has. I
suppose by now they have got right up into Africa. I wonder if she is
going to shoot lions, too, or be a shikari or cook his food. I am sure
she would look hideous roughing it without her maid. Her hair has to be
crimped with tongs, and she has to have washes for her complexion, and
things. You know, Mamma, though I don't care a bit, the whole affair has
upset me so that the dear Senator noticed I was not quite myself after
the post came in, and asked me if there was anything else I wanted that
he could do for me. And when I told him only to teach me to be a brazen
heartless creature, as hard as nails, he held my hand like I held his,
and pressed it, and said we should soon be in the sunshine where the
winds did not blow.

"You are too broad gauge to want things like that," he said; "those
bitter thoughts are for the puny growths."

And I suddenly felt inclined to cry, Mamma; I can't think why. So I came
up to bed;--and I am homesick and I want Hurstbridge and Ermyntrude, and
what's the good of anything?

Your affectionate daughter,



_On the private car_.

DEAREST MAMMA,--My spirits have quite recovered; you can't imagine the
fun we are having! We only stayed the day in San Francisco to look round
at those Golden Gates and other things. The astonishing pluck of the
people, reconstructing the whole town with twenty storey houses on
the old sites! One would think they would be afraid of their being
earthquaked again, but not a bit, and the city part is nearly all
re-made. Everything being brand new is naturally not so interesting as
the results of the tragedy, but you have read all about it so often
there is no use my telling you. We were shown one of the "graft"
buildings, and one wonders how they were able to put it up without
people seeing the tricks at the time. There are numbers of ways to get
rich, aren't there?

Finally the whole party started for Los Angeles, passing down the coast.
A company of ten, five drawing-rooms were naturally impossible; indeed
we could only get two, so this time Octavia and I insisted upon sleeping
under the green curtains and let the girls have our drawing-room,
because we wanted to see what it was like. They said they often
travelled like that, and did not mind a bit; but we insisted, and we
felt quite excited when bed-time came! Lola and the husband had the
other drawing-room, and the Senator and Tom the section next to us on
one side, and the Vicomte and secretary the one on the other, so we were
well guarded.

We laughed so tremendously undressing;--Lola let us take off the outside
things with her and Agnes and Wilbor helping made so many remarks and
fuss, we sent them off to their berths, and crept in dressing-gowns to
our section, which was fortunately by the door. Of course Gaston was
waiting to know if he could be of any use, because he said I would
remember he could be a "tres habile" lady's maid years ago on the
Sauterelle! But we would not let him tuck us up, and so he got into his
own and peeped out through the curtains while Tom and the Senator saw we
were all right.

I had the top of ours, so had Gaston of theirs, and ever so many times
he tapped on the division. I do hope the other people thought it was a
mouse; but when he began to give terrible sighs, and at last exclaimed,
"Sapristi!" they must have wondered what was the matter. He was so
dreadfully tiresome and restless, the poor secretary could not get a
wink of sleep, he told me to-day; and at last fearing he was ill he
climbed up and offered him some brandy. He must be a very good man, the
secretary said, because he found him kneeling with his forehead pressed
against the division which separated him from me, evidently saying his
prayers. Aren't the French odd? And when I asked him next day how he had
slept he looked at me with eyes of the deepest reproach and said I
had taken care he could not sleep; just as though it was I who was
troublesome and snored! Wasn't it crazy of him, Mamma? And since he has
devoted himself entirely to Mercedes, and I am perfectly thankful, as
very soon at the first mining town we are expecting Mr. Renour!

We have two tables of four for meals, and whichever two have been
naughty we put at a little one by themselves; and it is generally Tom
and Columbia. They are getting on splendidly, and Octavia is so pleased,
as she was afraid Tom might grow bored and give up the trip and go
straight on to Mexico: Englishman can't stay long without killing
things, can they, Mamma, and they never think about their wives'
pleasure, as the Americans do. The dear Senator divides himself between
Octavia and me, and when she has the secretary she gets him to give her
information about the country, and we are all as happy as possible. Mr.
Renour is bringing a friend with him, so that will make twelve. The
coast is pretty, but I can't describe scenery, especially as all of this
has been done dozens of times before, and also, though it is beautiful,
it is rather of a sameness; and half the time, having been so long in
the train we did not look out, there are such a number of amusing things
to do in a party like this.

Lola's husband is a poor creature; how she adores him as she does is a
mystery; he simply "don't amount to anything;" only he is beautifully
dressed, like an Englishman, and has as nice socks as Harry. The
Senator, without asking me any questions, has soothed me so that I am
not feeling as cross as I was, though I am determined not to go near
Harry again for months and months. When we get back, if he is still in
Africa with that creature, I shall take the children for a voyage
round the world. He shall see he can't behave like a brute to me with
impunity. But yesterday morning when that silly little Vinerhorn wore
a shirt of Charvet's of exactly the same silk as I chose Harry last in
Paris, a nasty feeling came in my throat, and I seemed to see his blue
eyes flashing angry flames at me like when we said good-bye.

Just think, Mamma, all these years since I have been married I have
never so much as looked at anyone else. He has kept me knowing hardly
anything more of the world than I did then. But I am not going to _stay_
stupid I can assure you! If he can go off to Africa with Mrs. Smith, why
can't I play with Mr. Renour?

(I am tired of Gaston, really.)

The second night in the train was quite peaceful. We went to bed before
they came in from smoking, and Octavia had the top berth and heard
nothing, so I suppose the Vicomte said his prayers with his forehead
glued against the other side. And when we arrived at Los Angeles there
was the private car. It is so comfortable. The salon at the end has an
observation veranda on it, and at night three berths let down in it for
three of the men, and in the dining-room three others can sleep. The
Senator has a tiny place to himself. The Vinerhorns, who never will be
separated, have one cabin, and Tom and Octavia the other. Octavia says
she likes experiences, and she had no idea Tom could be so handy, for
Wilbor and Agnes and all the valets have been sent on to the Osages
City in an ordinary train and he had to dress her. I am in the larger
compartment with the two girls, and we have only one enormous bed for
the three of us! And it does seem quaint, Mamma, sleeping with women. I
felt quite shy at first; then we laughed so we could not get to sleep.
They are perfect angels and do everything for me, and make me so vain
admiring my hair being so long and curly. Columbia brushed it for half
an hour last night, and we were just in the middle of it when we pulled
up at a small station, on the beginning of the mining world, and to our
surprise Mr. Renour and his friend got in. We heard the noise and the
greetings and all peeped out to see, and the Senator, sans gene, brought
them down the passage to say how do you do.

Mr. Renour does look a pet! He was (and still is to-day) in miner's
dress, and it is corduroy trousers tucked into high-laced boots and a
grey flannel shirt with a shallow turn down collar which has been turned
up again, looking like a Lord Palmerton, or someone of that date; a
loose tie and a corduroy Norfolk jacket, all a sort of earth colour
except the tie, which is blue. The friend is the same, and they both
have queer American-looking sort of sombrero greenish felt hats, and the
friend hasn't even a tie.

We were glad to see them, at least I was. We were all in dressing-gowns,
with our hair down, and the girls pretended to hide behind me and be
coy, and we played the fool just like children. It was fun, Mamma, and
think of the faces of Harry's two aunts, the Duchess and Lady Archibald,
if they could have seen me being so undignified. But here no one has any
nasty thoughts, they are all happy and natural and innocent as kittens,
and I am enjoying myself.

Gaston is frightfully jealous of the newcomers, but he is too much of a
polished gentleman to be disagreeable over it; it is only the English
who have remained savages in that respect, showing their tempers as
plainly as a child would do. If you remember, Harry had a thunderous
face before we were married, whenever I teased him, and since, my
heavens! If people even look a good deal in a restaurant he is annoyed.
But I don't mind so much, because my time has always been taken up with
him making love to me himself. It is the cold ones who are jealous just
from vanity that are insupportable, as it is not that they love the
woman so much themselves as because they think it is "dam cheek"
(forgive me, Mamma) for any other man to dare to look at _their_
belongings? Now American men don't seem jealous at all; they are so kind
they are thinking of the woman's pleasure, not their own. Really, I am
sure in the long run they must be far nicer to live with--not a tenth
part as vain as Englishmen.

The most jolly looking, jet-black old nigger in white duck livery
brought us our coffee in the morning. His face is a full moon of
laughter. No one could feel gloomy if he were near, and his voice, like
a little child's, is as sweet as a bird, and such delightful phrasing.
He has been with the Senator for fifteen years and couldn't live "way
from de car." His name is Marcus Aurelius, and I am sure he is just as
great a philosopher as the Emperor was.

The girls have known him since they were babies, of course, and it
is such fun to hear him talking to them, a mixture of authority,
worshipping affection, and familiarity, which I believe only old niggers
can have.

"A pretty sight to see dem tree young ladies as happy as birds in dar
nests;" we heard him telling Gaston just outside, when he met on his way
to the bath (there are two lovely bath-rooms).

So Gaston said he was sure the coffee-pot was heavy and he could not
hold so many plates, and he would with pleasure help him with our
breakfast. But Tom, who joined them, said Marcus Aurelius must not set
fire to tinder, and that he was the only one of the party who could be
considered suitable to be morning waiter, being my cousin and a married
man. We were so entertained beyond the open door, and were quite
surprised at Gaston's silence, until we saw his face reflected in the
looking glass, where he had been gazing at us all the time through the
crack! What a mercy on a picnic of this kind that we all look so lovely
in bed! We felt it our duty to scream, and then Marcus Aurelius shut the
door. Are you fearfully shocked at my being so schoolgirlish, Mamma?
Don't be, I shall get old directly I get back home, and it is all the
infectious gaiety of these dear merry girls.

Everybody was ready for breakfast, and we had rather a squash to get
seated, and had to be very near. Mr. Renour was next me, and he is
simply delightful in a party; and the friend, Octavia says, is exactly
her affair, as she is past thirty, and he is a charming boy of

There is a nigger cook and he makes such lovely corn cakes and rolls and
agreeable breakfast dishes, and we were all so hungry.

Mr. Renour had been down to this other place on business, and there
waited to board us sooner.

The country seemed to grow more desolate and grim as we went on. After
breakfast we sat outside in the observation car together, and he told me
all about it, and the way they prospect to find the ore. And everything
one hears makes one respect their pluck and endurance more. He asked
me to call him Nelson; he said Mr. Renour was so "kinder stiff" and he
wasn't used to it, so I did, but the good taste which characterizes
everything about him made him never suggest he should be familiar with
me. He was just as gentle and dear as anyone could be, and seemed to be
trying to efface the remembrance in my mind that he had ever rather made
love to me.

Life had always been so kind to him, he said, even though from a child
he had always had to work so hard. He said the Senator was the biggest
man he had ever seen (meaning by that the biggest soul), and it was
owing to his help and encouragement and splendid advice, that he had
been able to stand out against the other sharks who wanted to get the
shares of his mine when at one moment he was a "bit shaky"; and now all
was well, and he would soon be many times a millionaire. Then I asked
him what he would do with it, and he said, "I'll just make those nearest
to me happy and then those further off; and then I'll set my brains to
devise some scheme to benefit my country; and p'r'aps you'd help me,"
he said. "You great ladies in England think so much of the poor and
suffering. I don't want just to put my name on big charities; p'r'aps
you'd suggest something which could be of value?"

His whole face is so fine and open, Mamma, and his lithe, sinewy figure
reminds me of the Ludovici Mars; not quite so slender as Harry and Tom,
but just as strong, and those balanced lines of rugged strength are
quite as beautiful. I wonder what one of the meaty Easterners would look
beside him, if they could both have nothing on and be made in bronze!

"I think I'd like to marry an English girl," he said at last. "Our women
are very beautiful and very smart, but yours have a tenderness which
appeals to me. I could do with a mighty lot of love when once I took one
for my own." Then he said he had always kept his ideal of a woman, and
when he found her she should have him, "body and heart and soul." And
think, Mamma, what a fortunate woman she would be, wouldn't she?

He is quite different here to in France or on the boat; he has a quiet
dignity and ease, and that perfect calm of a man of the world on his own
ground. I think there must be something Irish about him, too, for he has
a strain of sentiment and melancholy which can come directly after his
most brilliant burst of spirits. We stayed there talking for about an
hour undisturbed, and then the Senator opened the door and joined us.

"You are as quiet as mice, my children," he said, "what have you been

And Nelson looked up at him, his eyes full of mist.

"Just dreamin'," he said. "All on a bright spring morning."

And now I must stop, Mamma, for this must be posted at the next station
to catch the mail.

Your affectionate daughter,




Dearest Mamma,--We arrived here last night and I am still enjoying
myself more than I can say, and just after I wrote yesterday such an
interesting thing happened. At lunch the Senator told us about a strange
character who abides in these parts--an almost outlaw who has done such
wild things and gets his money from heaven knows where. He is supposed
to have murdered several men, and every incredible story fit for pirates
of the Spanish Main has been tacked on to him--only of the land, not
the sea. He is called "Ruby Mine Bill;" isn't that a nice name! And no
one cares to "run up against him," because he is such a wonderful shot
and does not hesitate to practise a little when things annoy him.

Octavia and I said we simply longed to see him, and Nelson, who had been
talking to Lola (I have not said much of Lola, because she is really
so in love with her husband she is not a great deal of use to
other people), joined in the conversation, and said he had heard
"Ruby-Mine-Bill" was expected in the town he (Nelson) had joined us at,
and it was possible we might meet him at the next station where the
trains would pass each other. We were thrilled, and crowded into the
observation veranda as we got near, on the chance of catching a glimpse
of him. We drew up on a rough track; it is a sort of junction with
several lines, and the train from Osages was drawn up on the one
farthest off, and both the Senator and Nelson exclaimed, because on its
observation car there he was.

They shouted out, "Say, Bill, is that you?" And from among the four
or five men who were leaning over the balcony one who looked like a
respectable country piano tuner, or a plumber out for Sunday, called
out, "You bet!" and began to come down the steps.

"Move along, Bill, and be introduced to some English ladies," the
Senator said; so with an easy slogging stride he came over, and the
Senator presented him to us. He had a moustache and was most mild
looking and about thirty-four. He was dressed in ordinary clothes, with
a bowler hat, only no waistcoat, and a great leather belt round his
waist. He expressed himself as proud to meet us, and when he heard I was
married, too, his eyebrows went up in the most comic way. "Guess they
pair in the kid pens over there," he said! He was standing below us on
the track, with his hands in both his trouser pockets, while he looked
up at us with gentle grey eyes.

"Will you show our ladies how you can shoot, Bill?" the Senator asked,
and Octavia and I implored him to be kind and do so. "Runs rather fine,"
he said, spitting slowly to some distance; "reckon she's about levantin,
but I never refuse ladies' requests." Nelson had rushed to the dining
saloon and was back as he spoke with two empty bottles. "Bill's" train
was just going to move, already making groaning noises. He put his hand
under his coat in a leisurely way and pulled out his "gun" (you can be
arrested immediately for wearing one concealed)! Then his train gave a
snort and got slowly in motion, so he was obliged to run. He turned his
head over his shoulders and looked back as Nelson flung one bottle in
the air--bang! It went into atoms on the ground, and then, as he had
almost reached the steps, running at full speed now, the Senator flung
the other. It was high up, the most difficult shot even facing it, but
tearing as fast as one could in the opposite direction to jump on to a
moving train, it was a rather remarkable feat to be able to hit it, with
just a glance backwards, wasn't it, Mamma?! And no wonder people don't
care to "run up against him!" As the scraps of the bottle fell, he
bounded on the steps and was dragged in by his companions, while with
cheers from both trains and waving of hats we steamed our different
ways. Tom was transported with admiration. How those things please
English men, don't they? And I am sure he thought far more of
"Ruby-Mine-Bill" than all the clever people we had met in New York. And
certainly skill of this sort does affect one. The Senator can shoot like
that. Nelson told us. "He's had some near squeaks in his life and come
off top; and everyone in this country knows him."

The land along which we were passing, and indeed what has been ever
since we entered the mining country, is the most bleak and desolate on
the earth, I should think; not a living thing or blade of grass except
once when we passed a stream where low bushes bordered it; only barren
hills with a little scrub on them and a rough stony surface. What
courage to have started exploring on such places!

We passed one or two smaller camps on the way to Osages, with board
shanties and a shaft here and there sticking up from the earth. "All
going on," the Senator said. I can't tell you, Mamma, the fun we had
in the car; the party is so harmonious, and Nelson and the friend such
amusing people to keep it going. The friend is too attractive, that long
lean shape like Tom, and the same assurance of manner. Octavia says she
has not enjoyed herself so much for years.

Towards evening we arrived at Osages, and a most wonderful wind-swept
town it is. Imagine a bare plain of rubbly, stony ground, with a few not
very high hills round it, with shafts piercing them, and then dotted all
about on the outskirts with tents; then board houses of one story high,
looking rather like sheds for gardeners' tools, and then in the middle
a few stone and frame habitations, and standing out among the rest the
Nelson building, a hideous structure of grey stone making the corner
of a block. We got from the train and climbed into motors; to see them
seemed strange in such a wild; we ought to have been met by a Buffalo
Bill stage coach;--but there they were. It was a gorgeous sunset, but a
wind like a mistral cutting one in two, and such clouds of dust, that
even driving to the hotel our hair all looked drab coloured. The hall
was full of miners, some of them in what is as near an approach to
evening dress as is permitted; that is, ordinary blue serge or flannel
suits, with sometimes linen collars and ties; the others in the dress I
have already told you about that Nelson wears. Nearly all were young,
not twenty per cent. over forty, and none beyond fifty, and they were
awfully nice-looking and strong, and couldn't possibly have bruised if
you hit them hard!

We raced through and up to our rooms, and can you believe it, Mamma,
each bedroom had a splendid bath room, and all as modern as possible;
there was not a sign of roughing it. The Senator said we were not really
to dress as in the East--only "sort of Sunday." He was greeted by
everyone with adoring respect that yet had a casual ease in it, and when
we were all bathed and combed and tidy we found he had a dinner party
awaiting us--two women and about six men. The women were so nice and
simple, but we naturally had not much chance to speak to them--the men
were next us, superintendents of mines, and owners, and selected ones
who have "made good." They were such characters, and seemed to bring a
breezy delightful atmosphere with them. The Eastern America seemed as
far away as England; much farther really, because all these people have
exactly the casual, perfectly sans gene manners of at home: not the "I'm
as good as you, only one better," but the sort that does not have to
demonstrate because the thought has never entered its head. You know
Octavia's and Tom's and Harry's manner, Mamma;--well, just the same; I
can't describe it any other way. It is the real thing when you are not
trying to impress anyone, just being you, and what you are. I can only
say even if their words are astonishing slang and their grammar absent,
they are the most perfect gentlemen, with the repose and unconsciousness
of the original Clara Vere de Vere. They had all the extraordinary
thoughtful kindness and chivalry which marks every American towards
women, but they weren't a bit auntish or grandmammaish. The sex is the
same as in England, and as far as that quality I told you about, Mamma,
you remember, they all seemed to have it; and going to Australia alone
with them would have been a temptation, though I am sure they have
none of them that wicked way of improving every possible occasion like
Frenchmen and Englishmen; I mean, you know, some Englishmen, as I am
sure, for instance, Harry is doing at the present moment over that
horrible Mrs. Smith.

We had such fun at dinner. The one on my right was a lovely creature,
about six foot six tall, with deep-set eyes and a scar up from one
eyebrow into his thick hair, got, the Senator told us afterwards, in one
of the usual shooting frays.

"We've been so mighty quiet, Nelson," this man said leaning across the
table to Mr. Renour, "since you went East. A garden for babes. Not a
single gun handled in six months. Don't rightly know what's took us."
The girls at once said they would love to see some shooting and a
twinkle came in one or two eyes, so I am sure they will try to get some
up for us before we leave.

The restaurant was wonderful--this rough place miles in a desert and
yet decent food! And think of the horrible, tasteless, pretentious mess
cooking we have to put with in hotels in England anywhere except London.
Whatever mood one might be in coming to America, even if it were fault
finding and hostile, one would be convinced of their extraordinary go
ahead ability, and be filled with respect for their energy. As for us
who have grown to just love them we can't say half what we feel.

Tom is perfectly happy. He understands every word of their slang, he
says, and they understand him; and Octavia says it is because they are
all sportsmen together, and have the same point of view. It won't be us
who have to make Tom stay away from the tarpons, he wants to himself
now. Gaston, too, has risen to the occasion, and is being extra
agreeable. I had a teeny scene with him in the lift as we came down. We
were the last two. He reproached me for my caprice--years of devotion he
said, did not count with me as much as "Ce Mineur with the figure of a
bronze Mercury" (that is how he aptly described Nelson). He could bear
it no more, and intended to cut me from his heart, and throw it at the
feet of Mercedes. I said I thought it was an excellent place for it, and
would please everyone, and he had my kindest blessing. He was so hurt.
"Could I but have seen you minded!" he said, "my felicity would be
greater," so I promised I would bring tears somehow to my eyes, if that
would satisfy him. Then, as he has really a sense of humour, Mamma, even
if he is in an awkward position, between two loves, we both burst into
peals of laughter; and he caught and kissed my hand, and said we would
ever be friends and he adored me. So I said, "Bless you, my children,"
and saw he sat by Mercedes at dinner, and all is smooth and happy, and
Gaston is placed; and now I can really amuse myself with Nelson, who is
more attractive than ever, to say nothing of a new one who had a roguish
eye, and teeth as white as Harry's, who peeped at me from across the
table. But I must get on with the evening. Octavia and I wanted to see
everything, gambling saloons, dance halls, fights, whatever was going,
and as Lola has done it all before, she said she would stay with the
girls, and have a little mild flutter in the saloon of the hotel at
roulette while our stalwart cavaliers escorted us "around." Gaston, too,
remained behind with them; the Senator manoeuvred this, because he said,
it was not wise to be with people who were quarrelsome, and Gaston is
that now and then with his Latin blood.

We went first to a gambling saloon. Think of a huge room with no carpet
and a horseshoe kind of bar up the middle, with every sort of drink on
it; and up at the end and round the sides gambling tables of all kinds
of weird games that I did not understand, and can't explain--except
roulette. There were hundreds of men in there, of all sorts, miners in
their miners' dress; team drivers, superintendents--every species. If
one said "gambling hell" in Europe it would sound as if it meant a most
desperate place, with people drunk, and impossible to go into, but here
not at all! Naturally, Octavia and I looked remarkable, although we were
dressed in the plainest clothes, and yet not a soul stared or was the
least rude. The only thing that was horrid was their spitting on the
floor, but we tried not to see that. Otherwise not a soul was drunk
or rude or anything but courteous. And such interesting types! Massed
together one could judge of them, and the remarkable thing was there was
no smell, like there would have been in any other country where workmen
in their ordinary clothes were grouped together;--only tobacco smoke.

They were some of them playing very high, and it looked so quaint to see
a rough miner putting $500 on a single throw. We had a sheriff among
our party. There was to have been a raid of the state police on this
particular saloon, for some new rule which had been made, but the
sheriff quietly said the law might wait a night; as they were showing
round some English ladies! Now, don't you call that exquisite courtesy,
Mamma? And what a sensible sort of administration of law, knowing its
suitable time like that, the essence of tact and good taste, I call it;
but I can't say in every way what darlings all these Westerners are. Our
escort presented numbers of them to us, and without exception they had
beautiful manners, the quiet ease of perfect breeding. It is
upsetting all Octavia's theories, and she is coming round to Mrs. Van

Book of the day: