Part 3 out of 5
to his family--and he was in Rivervale twice during the season--that the
newspapers did not chronicle his every movement, and attribute other
motives than family affection to these excursions into New England. Was
the Central system or the Pennsylvania system contemplating another raid?
It could not be denied that the big operator's connection with any great
interest raised suspicion and often caused anxiety.
Naturally, thought Celia, in such a little village, Philip would fall in
with the only strangers there, so that he was giving her no news in
saying so. But there was a new tone in his letters; she detected an
unusual reserve that was in itself suspicious. Why did he say so much
about Mrs. Mavick and the governess, and so little about the girl?
"You don't tell me," she wrote," anything about the Infant Phenomenon.
And you know I am dying to know."
This Philip resented. Phenomenon! The little brown girl, with eyes that
saw so much and were so impenetrably deep, and the mobile face, so alert-
and responsive. If ever there was a natural person, it was Evelyn. So
"There is nothing to tell; she is not an infant and she is not a
phenomenon. Only this: she has less rubbish in her mind than any person
you ever saw. And I guess the things she does not know about life are
not worth knowing."
"I see," replied Celia; "poor boy! it's the moth and the star. [That's
just like her, muttered Philip, she always assumed to be the older.] But
don't mind. I've come to the conclusion that I am a moth myself, and
some of the lights I used to think stars have fallen. And, seriously,
dear friend, I am glad there is a person who does not know the things not
worth knowing. It is a step in the right direction. I have been this
summer up in the hills, meditating. And I am not so sure of things as I
was. I used to think that all women needed was what is called education-
-science, history, literature--and you could safely turn them loose on
the world. It certainly is not safe to turn them loose without
education--but I begin to wonder what we are all coming to. I don't mind
telling you that I have got into a pretty psychological muddle, and I
don't see much to hold on to.
"I suppose that Scotch governess is pious; I mean she has a backbone of
what they call dogma; things are right or wrong in her mind--no haziness.
Now, I am going to make a confession. I've been thinking of religion.
Don't mock. You know I was brought up religious, and I am religious. I
go to church--well, you know how I feel and especially the things I don't
believe. I go to church to be entertained. I read the other day that
Cardinal Manning said: 'The three greatest evils in the world today are
French devotional books, theatrical music, and the pulpit orator. And
the last is the worst.' I wonder. I often feel as if I had been to a
performance. No. It is not about sin that I am especially thinking, but
the sinner. One ought to do something. Sometimes I think I ought to go
to the city. You know I was in a College Settlement for a while. Now I
mean something permanent, devoted to the poor as a life occupation, like
a nun or something of that sort. You think this is a mood? Perhaps.
There have always been so many things before me to do, and I wanted to do
them all. And I do not stick to anything? You must not presume to say
that, because I confide to you all my errant thoughts. You have not
confided in me--I don't insinuate that you have anything to confide but I
cannot help saying that if you have found a pure and clear-minded girl--
Heaven knows what she will be when she is a woman I--I am sorry she is
But if Philip did not pour out his heart to his old friend, he did open a
lively and frequent correspondence with Alice. Not about the person who
was always in his thoughts--oh, no--but about himself, and all he was
doing, in the not unreasonable expectation that the news would go where
he could not send it directly--so many ingenious ways has love of
attaining its object. And if Alice, no doubt, understood all this, she
was nevertheless delighted, and took great pleasure in chronicling the
news of the village and giving all the details that came in her way about
the millionaire family. This connection with the world, if only by
correspondence, was an outlet to her reserved and secluded life. And her
letters recorded more of her character, of her feeling, than he had known
in all his boyhood. When Alice mentioned, as it were by chance, that
Evelyn had asked, more than once, when she had spoken of receiving
letters, if her cousin was going on with his story, Philip felt that
the connection was not broken.
Going on with his story he was, and with good heart. The thought that
"she" might some day read it was inspiration enough. Any real creation,
by pen or brush or chisel, must express the artist and be made in
independence of the demands of a vague public. Art is vitiated when the
commercial demand, which may be a needed stimulus, presides at the
creation. But it is doubtful if any artist in letters, or in form or
color, ever did anything well without having in mind some special person,
whose approval was desired or whose criticism was feared. Such is the
universal need of human sympathy. It is, at any rate, true that Philip's
story, recast and reinspired, was thenceforth written under the spell of
the pure divining eyes of Evelyn Mavick. Unconsciously this was so. For
at this time Philip had not come to know that the reason why so many
degraded and degrading stories and sketches are written is because the
writers' standard is the approval of one or two or a group of persons of
vitiated tastes and low ideals.
The Mavicks did not return to town till late in the autumn. By this time
Philip's novel had been submitted to a publisher, or, rather, to state
the exact truth, it had begun to go the rounds of the publishers. Mr.
Brad, to whose nineteenth-century and newspaper eye Philip had shrunk
from confiding his modest creation, but who was consulted in the
business, consoled him with the suggestion that this was a sure way of
getting his production read. There was already in the city a
considerable body of professional "readers," mostly young men and women,
to whom manuscripts were submitted by the publishers, so that the author
could be sure, if he kept at it long enough, to get a pretty fair
circulation for his story. They were selected because they were good
judges of literature and because they had a keen appreciation of what the
public wanted at the moment. Many of them are overworked, naturally so,
in the mass of manuscripts turned over to their inspection day after day,
and are compelled often to adopt the method of tea-tasters, who sip but
do not swallow, for to drink a cup or two of the decoction would spoil
their taste and impair their judgment, especially on new brands. Philip
liked to imagine, as the weeks passed away--the story is old and need not
be retold here--that at any given hour somebody was reading him. He did
not, however, dwell with much delight upon this process, for the idea
that some unknown Rhadamanthus was sitting in judgment upon him much more
wounded his 'amour propre', and seemed much more like an invading of his
inner, secret life and feeling, than would be an instant appeal to the
general public. Why, he thought, it is just as if I had shown it to Brad
himself--apiece of confidence that he could not bring himself to. He did
not know that Brad himself was a reader for a well-known house--which had
employed him on the strength of his newspaper notoriety--and that very
likely he had already praised the quality of the work and damned it as
It was, however, weary waiting, and would have been intolerable if his
duties in the law office had not excluded other thoughts from his mind a
good part of the time. There were days when he almost resolved to
confine himself to the solid and remunerative business of law, and give
up the vague aspirations of authorship. But those vague aspirations were
in the end more enticing than the courts. Common-sense is not an
antidote to the virus of the literary infection when once a young soul
has taken it. In his long walks it was not on the law that Philip was
ruminating, nor was the fame of success in it occupying his mind.
Suppose he could write one book that should touch the heart of the world.
Would he exchange the sweetness of that for the fleeting reputation of
the most brilliant lawyer? In short, he magnified beyond all reason the
career and reputation of the author, and mistook the consideration he
occupies in the great world. And what a world it would be if there had
not been a continuous line of such mistaken fools as he!
That it was not literature alone that inflated his dreams was evidenced
by the direction his walks took. Whatever their original destination or
purpose, he was sure to pass through upper Fifth Avenue, and walk by the
Mavick mansion. And never without a lift in his spirits. What comfort
there is to a lover in gazing at the blank and empty house once occupied
by his mistress has never been explained; but Philip would have counted
the day lost in which he did not see it.
After he heard from Alice that the Mavicks had returned, the house had
still stronger attractions for him, for there was added the chance of a
glimpse of Evelyn or one of the family. Many a day passed, however,
before he mustered up courage to mount the steps and touch the button.
"Yes, sir," said the servant, "the family is returned, but they is
Philip left his card. But nothing came of it, and he did not try again.
In fact, he was a little depressed as the days went by. How much doubt
and anxiety, even suffering, might have been spared him if the historian
at that moment could have informed him of a little shopping incident at
Tiffany's a few days after the Mavicks' return.
A middle-aged lady and a young girl were inspecting some antiques. The
girl, indeed, had been asking for ancient coins, and they were shown two
superb gold staters with the heads of Alexander and Philip.
"Aren't they beautiful?" said the younger. "How lovely one would be for
"Yes, indeed," replied the elder, "and quite in the line of our Greek
The girl held them in her hand and looked at one and the other with a
"Which would you choose?"
"Oh, both are fine. Philip of Macedon has a certain youthful freshness,
in the curling hair and uncovered head. But, of course, Alexander the
Great is more important, and then there is the classic casque. I should
take the Alexander." The girl still hesitated, weighing the choice in
her mind from the classic point of view.
"Doubtless you are right. But"--and she held up the lovely head--"this
is not quite so common, and--and--I think I'll take the Macedon one.
Yes, you may set that for me," turning to the salesman.
"Diamonds or pearls?" asked the jeweler.
"Oh, dear, no!" exclaimed the girl; "just the head."
Evelyn's education was advancing. For the first time in her life she had
something to conceal. The privilege of this sort of secret is, however,
an inheritance of Eve. The first morning she wore it at breakfast Mrs.
Mavick asked her what it was.
"It's a coin, antique Greek," Evelyn replied, passing it across the
"How pretty it is; it is very pretty. Ought to have pearls around it.
Seems to be an inscription on it."
"Yes, it is real old. McDonald says it is a stater, about the same as a
Persian daric-something like the value of a sovereign."
"Oh, indeed; very interesting."
To give Evelyn her due, it must be confessed that she blushed at this
equivocation about the inscription, and she got quite hot with shame
thinking what would become of her if Philip should ever know that she was
regarding him as a stater and wearing his name on her breast.
One can fancy what philosophical deductions as to the education of women
Celia Howard would have drawn out of this coin incident; one of them
doubtless being that a classical education is no protection against love.
But for Philip's connection with the thriving firm of Hunt, Sharp &
Tweedle, it is safe to say that he would have known little of the world
of affairs in Wall Street, and might never have gained entrance into that
other world, for which Wall Street exists, that society where its wealth
and ambitious vulgarity are displayed. Thomas Mavick was a client of the
firm. At first they had been only associated with his lawyer, and
consulted occasionally. But as time went on Mr. Mavick opened to them
his affairs more and more, as he found the advantage of being represented
to the public by a firm that combined the highest social and
professional standing with all the acumen and adroitness that his
complicated affairs required.
It was a time of great financial feverishness and uncertainty, and of
opportunity for the most reckless adventurers. Houses the most solid
were shaken and crippled, and those which were much extended in a variety
of adventures were put to their wits' ends to escape shipwreck.
Financial operations are perpetual war. It is easy to calculate about
the regular forces, but the danger is from the unexpected "raids" and the
bushwhackers and guerrillas. And since politics has become inextricably
involved in financial speculations (as it has in real war), the
excitement and danger of business on a large scale increase.
Philip as a trusted clerk, without being admitted into interior secrets,
came to know a good deal about Mavick's affairs, and to be more than ever
impressed with his enormous wealth and the magnitude of his operations.
From time to time he was sent on errands to Mavick's office, and
gradually, as Mavick became accustomed to him as a representative of the
firm, they came on a somewhat familiar footing, and talked of other
things than business. And Mavick, who was not a bad judge of the
capacities of men, conceived a high idea of Philip's single-mindedness,
of his integrity and general culture, and, as well, of his agreeableness
(for Philip had a certain charm where he felt at ease), while at the same
time he discovered that his mind was more upon something else than law,
and that, if his success in his profession depended upon his adoption of
the business methods of the Street, he could not go very far.
Consequently he did not venture upon the same confidences with him that
he habitually did with Mr. Sharp. Yet, business aside, he had an
intellectual pleasure in exchanging views with Philip which Mr. Sharp's
conversation did not offer him.
When, therefore, Mrs. Mavick came to consult her husband about the list
for the coming-out reception of Evelyn, Philip found a friend at court.
"It is all plain enough," said Carmen, as she sat down with book and
pencil in hand, "till you come to the young men, the unattached young
men. Here is my visiting-list, that of course. But for the young ladies
we must have more young men. Can't you suggest any?"
"Perhaps. I know a lot of young fellows."
"But I mean available young men, those that count socially. I don't want
a broker's board or a Chamber of Commerce here."
Mr. Mavick named half a dozen, and Carmen looked for their names in the
social register. "Any more?"
"Why, you forgot young Burnett, who was with you last summer at
Rivervale. I thought you liked him."
"So I did in Rivervale. Plain farmer people. Yes, he was very nice to
us. I've been thinking if I couldn't send him something Christmas and
pay off the debt."
"He'd think a great deal more of an invitation to your reception."
"But you don't understand. You never think of Evelyn's future. We are
asking people that we think she ought to know."
"Well, Burnett is a very agreeable fellow."
"Fiddlesticks! He is nothing but a law clerk. Worse than that, he is a
"I thought you liked his essays and stories."
"So I do. But you don't want to associate with everybody you like that
way. I am talking about society. You must draw the line somewhere. Oh,
I forgot Fogg--Dr. LeRoy Fogg, from Pittsburg." And down went the name
"You mean that young swell whose business it is to drive a four-in-hand
to Yonkers and back, and toot on a horn?"
"Well, what of that? Everybody who is anybody, I mean all the girls,
want to go on his coach."
"Oh, Lord! I'd rather go on the Elevated." And Mavick laughed very
heartily, for him. "Well, I'll make a compromise. You take Fogg and
I'll take Burnett. He is in a good firm, he belongs to a first-rate
club, he goes to the Hunts' and the Scammels', I hear of him in good
"Well, if you make a point of it. I've nothing against him. But if you
knew the feelings of a mother about her only daughter you would know,
that you cannot be too careful."
When, several days after this conversation, Philip received his big
invitation, gorgeously engraved on what he took to be a sublimated sort
of wrapping-paper, he felt ashamed that he had doubted the sincere
friendship and the goodness of heart of Mrs. Mavick.
One morning in December, Philip was sent down to Mr. Mavick's office with
some important papers. He was kept waiting a considerable time in the
outer room where the clerks were at work. A couple of clerks at desks
near the chair he occupied were evidently discussing some one and he
overheard fragments of sentences--"Yes, that's he." "Well, I guess the
old man's got his match this time."
When he was admitted to the private office, he encountered coming out in
the anteroom a man of striking appearance. For an instant they were face
to face, and then bowed and passed on. The instant seemed to awaken some
memory in Philip which greatly puzzled him.
The man had closely cropped black hair, black Whiskers, a little curling,
but also closely trimmed, piercing black eyes, and the complexion of a
Spaniard. The nose was large but regular, the mouth square-cut and firm,
and the powerful jaw emphasized the decision of the mouth. The frame
corresponded with the head. It was Herculean, and yet with no
exaggerated developments. The man was over six feet in height, the
shoulders were square, the chest deep, the hips and legs modeled for
strength, and with no superfluous flesh. Philip noticed, as they fronted
each other for an instant and the stranger raised his hat, that his hands
and feet were smaller than usually accompany such a large frame. The
impression was that of great physical energy, self-confidence, and
determined will. The face was not bad, certainly not in detail, and even
the penetrating eyes seemed at the moment capable of a humorous
expression, but it was that of a man whom you would not like to have your
enemy. He wore a business suit of rough material and fashionable cut,
but he wore it like a man who did not give much thought to his clothes.
"What a striking-looking man," said Philip, motioning with his hand
towards the anteroom as he greeted Mr. Mavick.
"Who, Ault?" answered Mavick, indifferently.
"Ault! What, Murad Ault?"
"Is it possible? I thought I saw a resemblance. Several times I have
wondered, but I fancied it only a coincidence of names. It seemed
absurd. Why, I used to know Murad Ault when we were boys. And to think
that he should be the great Murad Ault."
"He hasn't been that for more than a couple of years," Mavick answered,
with a smile at the other's astonishment, and then, with more interest,
"What do you know about him?"
"If this is the same person, he used to live at Rivervale. Came there,
no one knew where from, and lived with his mother, a little withered old
woman, on a little cleared patch up in the hills, in a comfortable sort
of shanty. She used to come to the village with herbs and roots to sell.
Nobody knew whether she was a gypsy or a decayed lady, she had such an
air, and the children were half afraid of her, as a sort of witch. Murad
went to school, and occasionally worked for some farmer, but nobody knew
him; he rarely spoke to any one, and he had the reputation of being a
perfect devil; his only delight seemed to be in doing some dare-devil
feat to frighten the children. We used to say that Murad Ault would
become either a pirate or--"
"Broker," suggested Mr. Mavick, with a smile.
"I didn't know much about brokers at that time," Philip hastened to say,
and then laughed himself at his escape from actual rudeness.
"What became of him?"
"Oh, he just disappeared. After I went away to school I heard that his
mother had died, and Murad had gone off--gone West it was said. Nothing
was ever heard of him."
The advent and rise of Murad Ault in New York was the sort of phenomenon
to which the metropolis, which picks up its great men as Napoleon did his
marshals, is accustomed. The mystery of his origin, which was at first
against him, became at length an element of his strength and of the fear
he inspired, as a sort of elemental force of unknown power. Newspaper
biographies of him constantly appeared, but he had evaded every attempt
to include him and his portrait in the Lives of Successful Men. The
publishers of these useful volumes for stimulating speculation and
ambition did not dare to take the least liberties with Murad Ault.
The man was like the boy whom Philip remembered. Doubtless he
appreciated now as then the value of the mystery that surrounded his name
and origin; and he very soon had a humorous conception of the situation
that made him decline to be pilloried with others in one of those
volumes, which won from a reviewer the confession that "lives of great
men all remind us we may make our lives sublime." One of the legends
current about him was that he first appeared in New York as a "hand" on a
canal-boat, that he got employment as a check-clerk on the dock, that he
made the acquaintance of politicians in his ward, and went into politics
far enough to get a city contract, which paid him very well and showed
him how easily a resolute man could get money and use it in the city. He
was first heard of in Wall Street as a curbstone broker, taking enormous
risks and always lucky. Very soon he set up an office, with one clerk or
errand-boy, and his growing reputation for sagacity and boldness began to
attract customers; his ventures soon engaged the attention of guerrillas
like himself, who were wont to consult him. They found that his advice
was generally sound, and that he had not only sensitiveness but
prescience about the state of the market. His office was presently
enlarged, and displayed a modest sign of "Murad Ault, Banker and Broker."
Mr. Ault's operations constantly enlarged, his schemes went beyond the
business of registering other people's bets and taking a commission on
them; he was known as a daring but successful promoter, and he had a
visible ownership in steamships and railways, and projected such vast
operations as draining the Jersey marshes. If he had been a citizen of
Italy he would have attacked the Roman Campagna with the same confidence.
At any rate, he made himself so much felt and seemed to command so many
resources that it was not long before he forced his way into the Stock
Exchange and had a seat in the Board of Brokers. He was at first an odd
figure there. There was something flash about his appearance, and his
heavy double watch-chain and diamond shirt-studs gave him the look of an
ephemeral adventurer. But he soon took his cue, the diamonds
disappeared, and the dress was toned down. There seemed to be two models
in the Board, the smart and neat, and the hayseed style adopted by some
of the most wily old operators, who posed as honest dealers who retained
their rural simplicity. Mr. Ault adopted a middle course, and took the
respectable yet fashionable, solid dress of a man of affairs.
There is no other place in the world where merit is so quickly recognized
as in the Stock Exchange, especially if it is backed by brass and a good
head. Ault's audacity made him feared; he was believed to be as
unscrupulous as he was reckless, but this did not much injure his
reputation when it was seen that he was marvelously successful. That
Ault would wreck the market, if he could and it was to his advantage, no
one doubted; but still he had a quality that begot confidence. He kept
his word. Though men might be shy of entering into a contract with Ault,
they learned that what he said he would do he would do literally. He was
not a man of many words, but he was always decided and apparently open,
and, as whatever he touched seemed to thrive, his associates got the
habit of saying, "What Ault says goes."
Murad Ault had married, so it was said, the daughter of a boarding-house
keeper on the dock. She was a pretty girl, had been educated in a
convent (perhaps by his aid after he was engaged to marry her), and was a
sweet mother to a little brood of charming children, and a devout member
of her parish church. Those who had seen Mrs. Ault when her carriage
took her occasionally to Ault's office in the city were much impressed by
her graceful manner and sweet face, and her appearance gave Ault a sort
of anchorage in the region of respectability. No one would have accused
Ault of being devoted to any special kind of religious worship; but he
was equally tolerant of all religions, and report said was liberal in his
wife's church charities. Besides the fact that he owned a somewhat
pretentious house in Sixtieth Street, society had very little knowledge
It was, however, undeniable that he was a power in the Street. No other
man's name was oftener mentioned in the daily journals in connection with
some bold and successful operation. He seemed to thrive on panics, and
to grow strong and rich with every turn of the wheel. There is only one
stock expression in America for a man who is very able and unscrupulous,
and carries things successfully with a high hand--he is Napoleonic. It
needed only a few brilliant operations, madly reckless in appearance but
successful, to give Ault the newspaper sobriquet of the Young Napoleon.
"Papa, what does he mean?" asked the eldest boy. "Jim Dustin says the
papers call you Napoleon."
"It means, my boy," said Ault, with a grim smile, that I am devoted to
your mother, St. Helena."
"Don't say that, Murad," exclaimed his wife; I'm far enough from a saint,
and your destiny isn't the Island."
"What's the Island, mamma?"
"It's a place people are sent to for their health."
"In a boat? Can I go?"
"You ask too many questions, Sinclair," said Mr. Ault; "it's time you
were off to school."
There seems to have been not the least suspicion in this household that
the head of it was a pirate.
It must be said that Mavick still looked upon Ault as an adventurer, one
of those erratic beings who appear from time to time in the Street, upset
everything, and then disappear. They had been associated occasionally in
small deals, and Ault had more than once appealed to Mavick, as a great
capitalist, with some promising scheme. They had, indeed, co-operated in
reorganizing a Western railway, but seemed to have come out of the
operation without increased confidence in each other. What had occurred
nobody knew, but thereafter there developed a slight antagonism between
the two operators. Ault went no more to consult the elder man, and they
had two or three little bouts, in which Mavick did not get the best of
it. This was not an unusual thing in the Street. Mr. Ault never
expressed his opinion of Mr. Mavick, but it became more and more apparent
that their interests were opposed. Some one who knew both men, and said
that the one was as cold and selfish as a pike, and the other was a most
unscrupulous dare-devil, believed that Mavick had attempted some sort of
a trick on Ault, and that it was the kind of thing that the Spaniard (his
complexion had given him this nickname) never forgot.
It is not intended to enter into a defense of the local pool known as the
New York Stock Exchange. It needs none. Some regard it as a necessary
standpipe to promote and equalize distribution, others consult it as a
sort of Nilometer, to note the rise and fall of the waters and the
probabilities of drought or flood. Everybody knows that it is full of
the most gamy and beautiful fish in the world--namely, the speckled
trout, whose honest occupation it is to devour whatever is thrown into
the pool--a body governed by the strictest laws of political economy in
guarding against over-population, by carrying out the Malthusian idea, in
the habit the big ones have of eating the little ones. But occasionally
this harmonious family, which is animated by one of the most conspicuous
traits of human nature--to which we owe very much of our progress--
namely, the desire to get hold of everything within reach, and is such a
useful object-lesson of the universal law of upward struggle that results
in the survival of the fittest, this harmonious family is disturbed by
the advent of a pickerel, which makes a raid, introduces confusion into
all the calculations of the pool, roils the water, and drives the trout
into their holes.
The presence in the pool of a slimy eel or a blundering bullhead or a
lethargic sucker is bad enough, but the rush in of the pickerel is the
advent of the devil himself. Until he is got rid of, all the delicate
machinery for the calculation of chances is hopelessly disturbed; and no
one could tell what would become of the business of the country if there
were not a considerable number of devoted men engaged in registering its
fluctuations and the change of values, and willing to back their opinions
by investing their own capital or, more often, the capital of others.
This somewhat mixed figure cannot be pursued further without losing its
analogy, becoming fantastic, and violating natural law. For it is matter
of observation that in this arena the pickerel, if he succeeds in
clearing out the pool, suddenly becomes a trout, and is respected as the
biggest and most useful fish in the pond.
What is meant is simply that Murad Ault was fighting for position, and
that for some reason, known to himself, Thomas Mavick stood in his way.
Mr. Mavick had never been under the necessity of making such a contest.
He stepped into a commanding position as the manager if not the owner of
the great fortune of Rodney Henderson. His position was undisputed, for
the Street believed with the world in the magnitude of that fortune,
though there were shrewd operators who said that Mavick had more chicane
but not a tenth part of the ability of Rodney Henderson. Mr. Ault had
made the fortune the object of keen scrutiny, when his antagonism was
aroused, and none knew better than he its assailable points. Henderson
had died suddenly in the midst of vast schemes which needed his genius to
perfect. Apparently the Mavick estate was second to only a few fortunes
in the country. Mr. Ault had set himself to find out whether this vast
structure stood upon rock foundations. The knowledge he acquired about
it and his intentions he communicated to no one. But the drift of his
mind might be gathered from a remark he made to his wife one day, when
some social allusion was made to Mavick: "I'll bring down that snob."
The use of such men as Ault in the social structure is very doubtful, as
doubtful as that of a summer tempest or local cyclone, which it is said
clears the air and removes rubbish, but is a scourge that involves the
innocent as often as the guilty. It is popularly supposed that the
disintegration and distribution of a great fortune, especially if it has
been accumulated by doubtful methods, is a benefit to mankind. Mr. Ault
may have shared this impression, but it is unlikely that he philosophized
on the subject. No one, except perhaps his own family, had ever
discovered that he had any sensibilities that could be appealed to, and,
if he had known the ideas beginning to take shape in the mind of the
millionaire heiress in regard to this fortune, he would have approved or
comprehended them as little as did her mother.
Evelyn had lived hitherto with little comprehension of her peculiar
position. That the world went well with her, and that no obstacle was
opposed to the gratification of her reasonable desires, or to her
impulses of charity and pity, was about all she knew of her power. But
she was now eighteen and about to appear in the world. Her mother,
therefore, had been enlightening her in regard to her expectations and
the career that lay open to her. And Carmen thought the girl a little
perverse, in that this prospect, instead of exciting her worldly
ambition, seemed to affect her only seriously as a matter of
In their talks Mrs. Mavick was in fact becoming acquainted with the mind
of her daughter, and learning, somewhat to her chagrin, the limitations
of her education produced by the policy of isolation.
To her dismay, she found that the girl did not care much for the things
that she herself cared most for. The whole world of society, its
strifes, ambitions, triumphs, defeats, rewards, did not seem to Evelyn so
real or so important as that world in which she had lived with her
governess and her tutors. And, worse than this, the estimate she placed
upon the values of material things was shockingly inadequate to her
That her father was a very great man was one of the earliest things
Evelyn began to know, exterior to herself. This was impressed upon her
by the deference paid to him not only at home but wherever they went, and
by the deference shown to her as his daughter. And she was proud of
this. He was not one of the great men whose careers she was familiar
with in literature, not a general or a statesman or an orator or a
scientist or a poet or a philanthropist she never thought of him in
connection with these heroes of her imagination--but he was certainly a
great power in the world. And she had for him a profound admiration,
which might have become affection if Mavick had ever taken the pains to
interest himself in the child's affairs. Her mother she loved, and
believed there could be no one in the world more sweet and graceful and
attractive, and as she grew up she yearned for more of the motherly
companionship, for something more than the odd moments of petting that
were given to her in the whirl of the life of a woman of the world. What
that life was, however, she had only the dimmest comprehension, and it
was only in the last two years, since she was sixteen, that she began to
understand it, and that mainly in contrast to her own guarded life. And
she was now able to see that her own secluded life had been unusual.
Not till long after this did she speak to any one of her experience as a
child, of the time when she became conscious that she was never alone,
and that she was only free to act within certain limits.
To McDonald, indeed, she had often shown her irritation, and it was only
the strong good sense of the governess that kept her from revolt. It was
not until very recently that it could be explained to her, without
putting her in terror hourly, why she must always be watched and guarded.
It had required all the tact and sophistry of her governess to make her
acquiesce in a system of education--so it was called-that had been
devised in order to give her the highest and purest development. That
the education was mainly left to McDonald, and that her parents were
simply anxious about her safety, she did not learn till long afterwards.
In the first years Mrs. Mavick had been greatly relieved to be spared all
the care of the baby, and as the years went on, the arrangement seemed
more and more convenient, and she gave little thought to the character
that was being formed. To Mr. Mavick, indeed, as to his wife, it was
enough to see that she was uncommonly intelligent, and that she had a
certain charm that made her attractive. Mrs. Mavick took it for granted
that when it came time to introduce her into the world she would be like
other girls, eager for its pleasures and susceptible to all its
allurements. Of the direction of the undercurrents of the girl's life
she had no conception, until she began to unfold to her the views of the
world that prevailed in her circle, and what (in the Carmen scheme of
life) ought to be a woman's ambition.
That she was to be an heiress Evelyn had long known, that she would one
day have a great fortune at her disposal had indeed come into her serious
thought, but the brilliant use of it in relation to herself, at which her
mother was always lately hinting, came to her as a disagreeable shock.
For the moment the fortune seemed to her rather a fetter than an
opportunity, if she was to fulfill her mother's expectations. These
hints were conveyed with all the tact of which her mother was master, but
the girl was nevertheless somewhat alarmed, and she began to regard the
"coming out" as an entrance into servitude rather than an enlargement of
liberty. One day she surprised Miss McDonald by asking her if she didn't
think that rich people were the only ones not free to do as they pleased?
"Why, my dear, it is not generally so considered. Most people fancy that
if they had money enough they could do anything."
"Yes, of course," said the girl, putting down her stitching and looking
up; "that is not exactly what I mean. They can go in the current, they
can do what they like with their money, but I mean with themselves.
Aren't they in a condition that binds them half the time to do what they
don't wish to do?"
"It's a condition that all the world is trying to get into."
"I know. I've been talking with mamma about the world and about society,
and what is expected and what you must live up to."
"But you have always known that you must one day go into the world and
take your share in life."
"That, yes. But I would rather live up to myself. Mamma seems to think
that society will do a great deal for me, that I will get a wider view of
life, that I can do so much for society, and, with my position, mamma
says, have such a career. McDonald, what is society for?"
That was such a poser that the governess threw up her hands, and then
laughed aloud, and then shook her head. "Wiser people than you have
asked that question."
"I asked mamma that, for she is in it all the time. She didn't like it
much, and asked, 'What is anything for?' You see, McDonald, I've been
with mamma many a time when her friends came to see her, and they never
have anything to say, never--what I call anything. I wonder if in
society they go about saying that? What do they do it for?"
Miss McDonald had her own opinion about what is called society and its
occupations and functions, but she did not propose to encourage this
girl, who would soon take her place in it, in such odd notions.
"Don't you know, child, that there is society and society? That it is
all sorts of a world, that it gets into groups and circles about, and
that is the way the world is stirred up and kept from stagnation. And,
my dear, you have just to do your duty where you are placed, and that is
all there is about it."
"Don't be cross, McDonald. I suppose I can think my thoughts?"
"Yes, you can think, and you can learn to keep a good deal that you think
to yourself. Now, Evelyn, haven't you any curiosity to see what this
world we are talking about is like?"
"Indeed I have," said Evelyn, coming out of her reflective mood into a
girlish enthusiasm. "And I want to see what I shall be like in it.
Only--well, how is that?" And she held out the handkerchief she had been
plying her needle on.
Miss McDonald looked at the stitches critically, at the letters T.M.
enclosed in an oval.
"That is very good, not too mechanical. It will please your father. The
oval makes a pretty effect; but what are those signs between the
"Don't you see? It is a cartouche, and those are hieroglyphics--his name
in Egyptian. I got it out of Petrie's book."
"It certainly is odd."
"And every one of the twelve is going to be different. It is so
interesting to hunt up the signs for qualities. If papa can read it he
will find out a good deal that I think about him."
The governess only smiled for reply. It was so like Evelyn, so different
from others even in the commonplace task of marking handkerchiefs, to
work a little archaeology into her expression of family affection.
Mrs. Mavick's talks with her daughter in which she attempted to give
Evelyn some conception of her importance as the heiress of a great
fortune, of her position in society, what would be expected of her, and
of the brilliant social career her mother imagined for her, had an effect
opposite to that intended. There had been nothing in her shielded life,
provided for at every step without effort, that had given her any idea of
the value and importance of money.
To a girl in her position, educated in the ordinary way and mingling with
school companions, one of the earliest lessons would be a comprehension
of the power that wealth gave her; and by the time that she was of
Evelyn's age her opinion of men would begin to be colored by the notion
that they were polite or attentive to her on account of her fortune and
not for any charm of hers, and so a cruel suspicion of selfishness would
have entered her mind to poison the very thought of love.
No such idea had entered Evelyn's mind. She would not readily have
understood that love could have any sort of relation to riches or
poverty. And if, deep down in her heart, not acknowledged, scarcely
recognized, by herself, there had begun to grow an image about which she
had sweet and tender thoughts, it certainly did not occur to her that her
father's wealth could make any difference in the relations of friendship
or even of affection. And as for the fortune, if she was, as her mother
said, some day to be mistress of it, she began to turn over in her mind
objects quite different from the display and the career suggested by her
mother, and to think how she could use it.
In her ignorance of practical life and of what the world generally
values, of course the scheme that was rather hazy in her mind was simply
Quixotic, as appeared in a conversation with her father one evening while
he smoked his cigar. He had called Evelyn to the library, on the
suggestion of Carmen that he should "have a little talk with the girl."
Mr. Mavick began, when Evelyn was seated beside him, and he had drawn her
close to him and she had taken possession of his big hand with both her
little hands, about the reception and about balls to come, and the opera,
and what was going on in New York generally in the season, and suddenly
"My dear, if you had a lot of money, what would you do with it?"
"What would you?" said the girl, looking up into his face. "What do
people generally do?"
"Why," and Mavick hesitated, "they use it to add more to it."
"And then?" pursued the girl.
"I suppose they leave it to somebody. Suppose it was left to you?"
"Don't think me silly, papa; I've thought a lot about it, and I shall do
something quite different."
"Different from what?"
"You know mamma is in the Orthopedic Hospital, and in the Ragged Schools,
and in the Infirmary, and I don't know what all."
"And wouldn't you help them?"
"Of course, I would help. But everybody does those things, the practical
things, the charities; I mean to do things for the higher life."
Mr. Mavick took his cigar from his mouth and looked puzzled. "You want
to build a cathedral?"
"No, I don't mean that sort of higher life, I mean civilization, the
things at the top. I read an essay the other day that said it was easy
to raise money for anything mechanical and practical in a school, but
nobody wanted to give for anything ideal."
"Quite right," said her father; "the world is full of cranks. You seem
as vague as your essayist."
"Don't you remember, papa, when we were in Oxford how amused you were
with the master, or professor, who grumbled because the college was full
of students, and there wasn't a single college for research?
"I asked McDonald afterwards what he meant; that is how I first got my
idea, but I didn't see exactly what it was until recently. You've got to
cultivate the high things--that essay says--the abstract, that which does
not seem practically useful, or society will become low and material."
"By George!" cried Mavick, with a burst of laughter, "you've got the
lingo. Go on, I want to see where you are going to light."
"Well, I'll tell you some more. You know my tutor is English. McDonald
says she believes he is the most learned man in eighteenth-century
literature living, and his dream is to write a history of it. He is
poor, and engaged all the time teaching, and McDonald says he will die,
no doubt, and leave nothing of his investigations to the world."
"And you want to endow him?"
"He is only one. There is the tutor of history. Teach, teach, teach,
and no time or strength left for investigation. You ought to hear him
tell of the things just to be found out in American history. You see
what I mean? It is plainer in the sciences. The scholars who could
really make investigations, and do something for the world, have to earn
their living and have no time or means for experiments. It seems foolish
as I say it, but I do think, papa, there is something in it."
"And what would you do?"
Evelyn saw that she was making no headway, and her ideas, exposed to so
practical a man as her father, did seem rather ridiculous. But she
struck out boldly with the scheme that she had been evolving.
"I'd found Institutions of Research, where there should be no teaching,
and students who had demonstrated that they had anything promising in
them, in science, literature, languages, history, anything, should have
the means and the opportunity to make investigations and do work. See
what a hard time inventors and men of genius have; it is pitiful."
"And how much money do you want for this modest scheme of yours?"
"I hadn't thought," said Evelyn, patting her father's hand. And then, at
a venture, "I guess about ten millions."
"Whew! Have you any idea how much ten millions are, or how much one
"Why, ten millions, if you have a hundred, is no more than one million if
you have only ten. Doesn't it depend?"
"If it depends upon you, child, I don't think money has any value for you
whatever. You are a born financier for getting rid of a surplus. You
ought to be Secretary of the Treasury."
Mavick rose, lifted up his daughter, and, kissing her with more than
usual tenderness, said, "You'll learn about the world in time," and bade
Law and love go very well together as occupations, but, when literature
is added, the trio is not harmonious. Either of the two might pull
together, but the combination of the three is certainly disastrous.
It would be difficult to conceive of a person more obviously up in the
air than Philip at this moment. He went through his office duties
intelligently and perfunctorily, but his heart was not in the work, and
reason as he would his career did not seem to be that way. He was lured
too strongly by that siren, the ever-alluring woman who sits upon the
rocks and sings so deliciously to youth of the sweets of authorship. He
who listens once to that song hears it always in his ears, through
disappointment and success--and the success is often the greatest
disappointment--through poverty and hope deferred and heart-sickness for
recognition, through the hot time of youth and the creeping incapacity of
old age. The song never ceases. Were the longing and the hunger it
arouses ever satisfied with anything, money for instance, any more than
And if the law had a feeble hold on him, how much more uncertain was his
grasp on literature. He had thrown his line, he had been encouraged by
nibbles, but publishers were too wary to take hold. It seemed to him
that he had literally cast his bread upon the waters, and apparently at
an ebb tide, and his venture had gone to the fathomless sea. He had put
his heart into the story, and, more than that, his hope of something
dearer than any public favor. As he went over the story in his mind,
scene after scene, and dwelt upon the theme that held the whole in unity,
he felt that Evelyn would be touched by the recognition of her part in
the inspiration, and that the great public must give some heed to it.
Perhaps not the great public--for its liking now ran in quite another
direction, but a considerable number of people like Celia, who were
struggling with problems of life, and the Alices in country homes who
still preserved in their souls a belief in the power of a noble life, and
perhaps some critics who had not rid themselves of the old traditions.
If the publishers would only give him a chance!
But if law and literature were to him little more than unsubstantial
dreams, the love he cherished was, in the cool examination of reason,
preposterous. What! the heiress of so many millions, brought up
doubtless in the expectation of the most brilliant worldly alliance, the
heiress with the world presently at her feet, would she look at a
lawyer's clerk and an unsuccessful scribbler? Oh, the vanity of youth
and the conceit of intellect!
Down in his heart Philip thought that she might. And he went on nursing
this vain passion, knowing as well as any one can know the social code,
that Mr. Mavick and Mrs. Mavick would simply laugh in his face at such a
preposterous idea. And yet he knew that he had her sympathy in his
ambition, that to a certain extent she was interested in him. The girl
was too guileless to conceal that. And then suppose he should become
famous--well, not exactly famous, but an author who was talked about, and
becoming known, and said to be promising? And then he could fancy Mavick
weighing this sort of reputation in his office scales against money, and
Mrs. Mavick weighing it in her boudoir against social position. He was a
fool to think of it. And yet, suppose, suppose the girl should come to
love him. It would not be lightly. He knew that, by looking into her
deep, clear, beautiful eyes. There were in them determination and
tenacity of purpose as well as the capability of passion. Heavens and
earth, if that girl once loved, there was a force that no opposition
could subdue! That was true. But what had he to offer to evoke such a
In those days Philip saw much of Celia, who at length had given up
teaching, and had come to the city to try her experiment, into which she
was willing to embark her small income. She had taken a room in the
midst of poverty and misery on the East Side, and was studying the
"I am not certain," she said, "whether I or any one else can do anything,
or whether any organization down there can effect much.
But I will find out."
"Aren't you lonesome--and disgusted?" asked Philip.
"Disgusted? You might as well be disgusted with one thing as another. I
am generally disgusted with the way things go. But, lonely? No, there
is too much to do and to learn. And do you know, Philip, that people are
more interesting over there, more individual, have more queer sorts of
character. I begin to believe, with a lovely philanthropist I know, who
had charge of female criminals, that 'wicked women are more interesting
than good women.'"
"You have struck a rich mine of interest in New York, then."
"Don't be cynical, Phil. There are different kinds of interest. Stuff!
But I won't explain." And then, abruptly changing the subject, "Seems to
me you have something on your mind lately. Is it the novel?"
"The publishers haven't decided?"
"I am afraid they have."
"Well, Philip, do you know that I think the best thing that could happen
to you would be to have the story rejected."
"It has been rejected several times," said Philip. "That didn't seem to
do me any good."
"But finally, so that you would stop thinking about it, stop expecting
anything that way, and take up your profession in earnest."
"You are a nice comforter!" retorted Philip, with a sort of smirking grin
and a look of keen inspection, as if he saw something new in the
character of his adviser. "What has come over you? Suppose I should
give you that sort of sympathy in the projects you set your heart on?"
"It does seem hard and mean, doesn't it? I knew you wouldn't like it.
That is, not now. But it is for your lifetime. As for me, I've wanted
so many things and I've tried so many things. And do you know, Phil,
that I have about come to the conclusion that the best things for us in
this world are the things we don't get."
"You are always coming to some new conclusion."
"Yes, I know. But just look at it rationally. Suppose your story is
published, cast into the sea of new books, and has a very fair sale.
What will you get out of it? You can reckon how many copies at ten cents
a copy it will need to make as much as some writers get for a trivial
magazine paper. Recognition? Yes, from a very few people. Notoriety?
You would soon find what that is. Suppose you make what is called a
'hit.' If you did not better that with the next book, you would be
called a failure. And you must keep at it, keep giving the public
something new all the time, or you will drop out of sight. And then the
anxiety and the strain of it, and the temptation, because you must live,
to lower your ideal, and go down to what you conceive to be the buying
public. And if your story does not take the popular fancy, where will
you be then?"
"Celia, you have become a perfect materialist. You don't allow anything
for the joy of creation, for the impulse of a man's mind, for the delight
in fighting for a place in the world of letters."
"So it seems to you now. If you have anything that must be said, of
course you ought to say it, no matter what comes after. If you are
looking round for something you can say in order to get the position you
covet, that is another thing. People so deceive themselves about this.
I know literary workers who lead a dog's life and are slaves to their
pursuit, simply because they have deceived themselves in this. I want
you to be free and independent, to live your own life and do what work
you can in the world. There, I've said it, and of course you will go
right on. I know you. And maybe I am all wrong. When I see the story I
may take the other side and urge you to go on, even if you are as poor as
a church-mouse, and have to be under the harrow of poverty for years."
"Then you have some curiosity to see the story?"
"You know I have. And I know I shall like it. It isn't that, Phil; it
is what is the happiest career for you."
"Well, I will send it to you when it comes back."
But the unexpected happened. It did not come back. One morning Philip
received a letter from the publishers that set his head in a whirl. The
story was accepted. The publisher wrote that the verdict of the readers
was favorable, and he would venture on it, though he cautioned Mr.
Burnett not to expect a great commercial success. And he added, as to
terms, it being a new name, though he hoped one that would become famous,
that the copyright of ten per cent. would not begin until after the sale
of the first thousand copies.
The latter part of the letter made no impression on Philip. So long as
the book was published, and by a respectable firm, he was indifferent as
a lord to the ignoble details of royalty. The publisher had recognized
the value of the book, and it was accepted on its merits. That was
enough. The first thing he did was to enclose the letter to Celia, with
the simple remark that he would try to sympathize with her in her
Philip would have been a little less jubilant if he had known how the
decision of the publishing house was arrived at. It was true that the
readers had reported favorably, but had refused to express any opinion on
the market value. The manuscript had therefore been put in the grave-
yard of manuscripts, from which there is commonly no resurrection except
in the funeral progress of the manuscript back to the author. But the
head of the house happened to dine at the house of Mr. Hunt, the senior
of Philip's law firm. Some chance allusion was made by a lady to an
article in a recent magazine which had pleased her more than anything she
had seen lately. Mr. Hunt also had seen it, for his wife had insisted on
reading it to him, and he was proud to say that the author was a clerk in
his office--a fine fellow, who, he always fancied, had more taste for
literature than for law, but he had the stuff in him to succeed in
anything. The publisher pricked up his ears and asked some questions.
He found that Mr. Burnett stood well in the most prominent law firm in
the city, that ladies of social position recognized his talent, that he
dined here and there in a good set, and that he belonged to one of the
best clubs. When he went to his office the next morning he sent for the
manuscript, looked it over critically, and then announced to his partners
that he thought the thing was worth trying.
In a day or two it was announced in the advertising lists as forthcoming.
There it stared Philip in the face and seemed to be the only conspicuous
thing in the journal. He had not paid much attention before to the
advertisements, but now this department seemed the most interesting part
of the paper, and he read every announcement, and then came back and read
his over and over. There it stood:--"On Saturday, The Puritan Nun. An
Idyl. By Philip Burnett."
The naming of the book had been almost as difficult as the creation. His
first choice had been "The Lily of the Valley," but Balzac had pre-empted
that. And then he had thought of "The Enclosed Garden" (Hortus Clausus),
the title of a lovely picture he had seen. That was Biblical, but in the
present ignorance of the old scriptures it would be thought either
agricultural or sentimental. It is not uncommon that a book owes its
notoriety and sale to its title, and it is not easy to find a title that
will attract attention without being too sensational. The title chosen
was paradoxical, for while a nun might be a puritan, it was unthinkable
that a Puritan should be a nun.
Mr. Brad said he liked it, because it looked well and did not mean
anything; he liked all such titles, the "Pious Pirate," the "Lucid
Lunatic," the "Sympathetic Siren," the "Guileless Girl," and so on.
The announcement of publication had the effect of putting Philip in high
spirits for the Mavick reception-spirits tempered, however, by the
embarrassment natural to a modest man that he would be painfully
conspicuous. This first placarding of one's name is a peculiar and mixed
sensation. The letters seem shamefully naked, and the owner seems
exposed and to have parted with a considerable portion of his innate
privacy. His first fancy is that everybody will see it. But this fancy
only comes once. With experience he comes to doubt if anybody except
himself will see it.
To those most concerned the Mavick reception was the event of a lifetime.
To the town--that is, to a thousand or two persons occupying in their own
eyes an exclusive position it was one of the events of the season, and,
indeed, it was the sensation for a couple of days. The historian of
social life formerly had put upon him the task of painfully describing
all that went to make such an occasion brilliant--the house itself, the
decorations, the notable company, men distinguished in the State or the
Street, women as remarkable for their beauty as for their courage in its
exhibition, the whole world of fashion and of splendid extravagance upon
which the modiste and the tailor could look with as much pride as the
gardener does upon a show of flowers which his genius has brought to
The historian has no longer this responsibility. It is transferred to a
kind of trust. A race of skillful artists has arisen, who, in
combination with the caterers, the decorators, and the milliners, produce
a composite piece of literature in which all details are woven into a
splendid whole--a composition rhetorical, humorous, lyrical, a noble
apotheosis of wealth and beauty which carefully satisfies individual
vanity and raises in the mind a noble picture of modern civilization.
The pen and the pencil contribute to this splendid result in the daily
chronicle of our life. Those who are not present are really witnesses of
the scene, and this pictorial and literary triumph is justified in the
fact that no other effort of the genius of reproduction is so eagerly
studied by the general public. Not only in the city, but in the remote
villages, these accounts are perused with interest, and it must be taken
as an evidence of the new conception of the duties of the favored of
fortune to the public pleasure that the participants in these fetes
overcome, though reluctantly, their objection to notoriety.
No other people in the world are so hospitable as the Americans, and so
willing to incur discomfort in showing hospitality. No greater proof of
this can be needed than the effort to give princely entertainments in un-
princely houses, where opposing streams of guests fight for progress in
scant passages and on narrow stairways, and pack themselves in stifling
rooms. The Mavick house, it should be said, was perfectly adapted to the
throng that seemed to fill but did not crowd it. The spacious halls, the
noble stairways, the ample drawing-rooms, the ballroom, the music-room,
the library, the picture-gallery, the dining-room, the conservatory--into
these the crowd flowed or lingered without confusion or annoyance and in
a continual pleasure of surprise. "The best point of view," said an
artist of Philip's acquaintance, "is just here." They were standing in
the great hall looking up at that noble gallery from which flowed down on
either hand a broad stairway.
"I didn't know there was so much beauty in New York. It never before had
such an opportunity to display itself. There is room for the exhibition
of the most elaborate toilets, and the costumes really look regal in such
When Philip was shown to the dressing-room, conscious that the servant
was weighing him lightly in the social scale on account of his early
arrival, he found a few men who were waiting to make their appearance
more seasonable. They were young men, who had the air of being bored by
this sort of thing, and greeted each other with a look of courteous
surprise, as much as to say, "Hello! you here?" One of them, whom Philip
knew slightly, who had the reputation of being the distributer if not the
fountain of social information, and had the power of attracting gossip as
a magnet does iron filings, gave Philip much valuable information
concerning the function.
"Mrs. Mavick has done it this time. Everybody has tumbled in.
Washington is drained of its foreign diplomats, the heavy part of the
cabinet is moved over to represent the President, who sent a gracious
letter, the select from Boston, the most ancient from Philadelphia, and I
know that Chicago comes in a special train. Oh, it's the thing. I
assure you there was a scramble for invitations in the city. Lots of
visiting nobility--Count de l'Auney, I know, and that little snob, Lord
"Who is he?"
"Lord Crewe Monmouth Fitzwilliam, the Marquis of Montague, eldest son of
the Duke of Tewkesbury. He's a daisy.
"They say he is over here looking for capital to carry on his peer
business when he comes into it. Don't know who put up the money for the
trip. These foreigners keep a sharp eye on our market, I can tell you.
They say she is a nice little girl, rather a blue-stocking, face rather
intelligent than pretty, but Montague won't care for that--excuse the old
joke, but it is the figure Monte is after. He hasn't any manners, but
he's not a bad sort of a fellow, generally good-natured, immensely
pleased with New York, and an enthusiastic connoisseur in club drinks."
At the proper hour--the hour, it came into, his mind, when the dear ones
at Rivervale had been long in sleep, lulled by the musical flow of the
Deerfield--Philip made his way to the reception room, where there
actually was some press of a crowd, in lines, to approach the attraction
of the evening, and as he waited his turn he had leisure to observe the
brilliant scene. There was scarcely a person in the room he knew. One
or two ladies gave him a preoccupied nod, a plain little woman whom he
had talked with about books at a recent dinner smiled upon him
encouragingly. But what specially impressed him at the moment was the
seriousness of the function, the intentness upon the presentation, and
the look of worry on the faces of the women in arranging trains and
As he approached he fancied that Mr. Mavick looked weary and bored, and
that a shade of abstraction occasionally came over his face as if it were
difficult to keep his thoughts on the changing line.
But his face lighted up a little when he took Philip's hand and exchanged
with him the commonplaces of the evening. But before this he had to wait
a moment, for he was preceded by an important personage. A dapper little
figure, trim, neat, at the moment drew himself up before Mrs. Mavick,
brought his heels together with a click, and made a low bow. Doubtless
this was the French count. Mrs. Mavick was radiant. Philip had never
seen her in such spirits or so fascinating in manner.
"It is a great honor, count."
"It ees to me," said the count, with a marked accent; "I assure you it is
like Paris in ze time of ze monarchy. Ah, ze Great Republic, madame--so
it was in France in ze ancien regime. Ah, mademoiselle! Permit me," and
he raised her hand to his lips; "I salute--is it not" (turning to Mrs.
Mavick)--"ze princess of ze house?"
The next man who shook hands with the host, and then stood in an easy
attitude before the hostess, attracted Philip's attention strongly, for
he fancied from the deference shown him it must be the lord of whom he
had heard. He was a short, little man, with heavy limbs and a clumsy
figure, reddish hair, very thin on the crown, small eyes that were not
improved in expression by white eyebrows, a red face, smooth shaven and
freckled. It might have been the face of a hostler or a billiard-marker.
"I am delighted, my lord, that you could make room in your engagements to
"Ah, Mrs. Mavick, I wouldn't have missed it," said my lord, with easy
assurance; "I'd have thrown over anything to have come. And, do you
know" (looking about him coolly), "it's quite English, 'pon my honor,
quite English--St. James and that sort of thing."
"You flatter me, my lord," replied the lady of the house, with a winning
"No, I do assure you, it's bang-up. Ah, Miss Mavick, delighted,
delighted. Most charming. Lucky for me, wasn't it? I'm just in time."
"You've only recently come over, Lord Montague?" asked Evelyn.
"Been here before--Rockies, shooting, all that. Just arrived now--
beastly trip, beastly."
"And so you were glad to land?"
"Glad to land anywhere. But New York suits me down to the ground.
It goes, as you say over here. You know Paris?"
"We have been in Paris. You prefer it?"
"For some thing. Paris as it was in the Empire. For sport, no.
For horses, no. And" (looking boldly into her face) "when you speak of
American women, Paris ain't in it, as you say over here."
And the noble lord, instead of passing on, wheeled about and took a
position near Evelyn, so that he could drop his valuable observations
into her ear as occasion offered.
To Philip Mrs. Mavick was civil, but she did not beam upon him, and she
did not detain him longer than to say, "Glad to see you." But Evelyn--
could Philip be deceived?--she gave him her hand cordially and looked
into his eyes trustfully, as she had the habit of doing in the country,
and as if it were a momentary relief to her to encounter in all this
parade a friend.
"I need not say that I am glad you could come. And oh" (there was time
only for a word), "I saw the announcement. Later, if you can, you will
tell me more about it."
Lord Montague stared at him as if to say, "Who the deuce are you?" and as
Philip met his gaze he thought, "No, he hasn't the manner of a stable
boy; no one but a born nobleman could be so confident with women and so
supercilious to men."
But my lord, was little in his thought. It was the face of Evelyn that
he saw, and the dainty little figure; the warmth of the little hand still
thrilled him. So simple, and only a bunch of violets in her corsage for
all ornament! The clear, dark complexion, the sweet mouth, the wonderful
eyes! What could Jenks mean by intimating that she was plain?
Philip drifted along with the crowd. He was very much alone. And he
enjoyed his solitude. A word and a smile now and then from an
acquaintance did not tempt him to come out of his seclusion. The gay
scene pleased him. He looked for a moment into the ballroom. At another
time he would have tried his fortune in the whirl. But now he looked on
as at a spectacle from which he was detached. He had had his moment and
he waited for another. The voluptuous music, the fascinating toilets,
the beautiful faces, the graceful forms that were woven together in this
shifting kaleidoscope, were, indeed, a part of his beautiful dream. But
how unreal they all were! There was no doubt that Evelyn's eyes had
kindled for him as for no one else whom she had greeted. She singled him
out in all this crush, her look, the cordial pressure of her hand,
conveyed the feeling of comradeship and understanding. This was enough
to fill his thought with foolish anticipations. Is there any being quite
so happy, quite so stupid, as a lover? A lover, who hopes everything and
fears everything, who goes in an instant from the heights of bliss to the
depths of despair.
When the "reception" was over and the company was breaking up into groups
and moving about, Philip again sought Evelyn. But she was the centre of
a somewhat noisy group, and it was not easy to join it.
Yet it was something that he could feast his eyes on her and was rewarded
by a look now and then that told him she was conscious of his presence.
Encouraged by this, he was making his way to her, when there was a
movement towards the supper-room, and Mrs. Mavick had taken the arm of
the Count de l'Auney, and the little lord was jauntily leading away
Evelyn. Philip had a pang of disgust and jealousy. Evelyn was actually
chatting with him and seemed amused. Lord Montague was evidently laying
himself out to please and exerting all the powers of his subtle humor and
exploiting his newly acquired slang. That Philip could hear as they
moved past him. "The brute!" Philip said to himself, with the injustice
which always clouds the estimate of a lover of a rival whose
accomplishments differ from his own.
In the supper-room, however, in the confusion and crowding of it, Philip
at length found his opportunity to get to the side of Evelyn, whose smile
showed him that he was welcome. It was in that fortunate interval when
Lord Montague was showing that devotion to women was not incompatible
with careful attention to terrapin and champagne. Philip was at once
inspired to say:
"How lovely it is! Aren't you tired?"
"Not at all. Everybody is very kind, and some are very amusing. I am
learning a great deal," and there was a quizzical look in her eyes,
"about the world."
"Well," said Philip, "t's all here."
"I suppose so. But do you know," and there was quite an ingenuous blush
in her cheeks as she said it, "it isn't half so nice, Mr. Burnett, as a
picnic in Zoar."
"So you remember that?" Philip had not command of himself enough not to
attempt the sentimental.
"You must think I have a weak memory," she replied, with a laugh.
"And the story? When shall we have it?"
"Soon, I hope. And, Miss Mavick, I owe so much of it to you that I hope
you will let me send you the very first copy from the press."
"Will you? And do you Of course I shall be pleased and" (making him a
little curtsy) "honored, as one ought to say in this company."
Lord Montague was evidently getting uneasy, for his attention was
distracted from the occupation of feeding.
"No, don't go Lord Montague, an old friend, Mr. Burnett."
"Much pleased," said his lordship, looking round rather inquiringly at
the intruder. "I can't say much for the champagne--ah, not bad, you
know--but I always said that your terrapin isn't half so nasty as it
looks." And his lordship laughed most good-humoredly, as if he were
paying the American nation a deserved compliment.
"Yes," said Philip, "we have to depend upon France for the champagne, but
the terrapin is native."
"Quite so, and devilish good! That ain't bad, 'depend upon France for
the champagne!' There is nothing like your American humor, Miss Mavick."
"It needs an Englishman to appreciate it," replied Evelyn, with a twinkle
in her eyes which was lost upon her guest.
In the midst of these courtesies Philip bowed himself away. The party
was over for him, though he wandered about for a while, was attracted
again by the music to the ballroom, and did find there a dinner
acquaintance with whom he took a turn. The lady must have thought him a
very uninteresting or a very absent-minded companion.
As for Lord Montague, after he had what he called a "go" in the dancing-
room, he found his way back to the buffet in the supper-room, and the
historian says that he greatly enjoyed himself, and was very amusing, and
that he cultivated the friendship of an obliging waiter early in the
morning, who conducted his lordship to his cab.
The morning after The Puritan Nun was out, as Philip sat at his office
desk, conscious that the eyes of the world were on him, Mr. Mavick
entered, bowed to him absent-mindedly, and was shown into Mr. Hunt's
Philip had dreaded to come to the office that morning and encounter the
inquisition and perhaps the compliments of his fellow-clerks.
He had seen his name in staring capitals in the book-seller's window as
he came down, and he felt that it was shamefully exposed to the public
gaze, and that everybody had seen it. The clerks, however, gave no sign
that the event had disturbed them. He had encountered many people he
knew on the street, but there had been no recognition of his leap into
notoriety. Not a fellow in the club, where he had stopped a moment, had
treated him with any increased interest or deference. In the office only
one person seemed aware of his extraordinary good fortune. Mr. Tweedle
had come to the desk and offered his hand in his usual conciliatory and
"I see by the paper, Mr. Burnett, that we are an author. Let me
congratulate you. Mrs. Tweedle told me not to come home without bringing
your story. Who publishes it?"
"I shall be much honored," said Philip, blushing, "if Mrs. Tweedle will
accept a copy from me."
"I didn't mean that, Mr. Burnett; but, of course, gift of the author--
Mrs. Tweedle will be very much pleased."
In half an hour Mr. Mavick came out, passed him without recognition, and
hurried from the office, and Philip was summoned to Mr. Hunt's room.
"I want you to go to Washington immediately, Mr. Burnett. Return by the
night train. You can do without your grip? Take these papers to
Buckston Higgins--you see the address--who represents the British
Argentine syndicate. Wait till he reads them and get his reply. Here is
the money for the trip. Oh, after Mr. Higgins writes his answer, ask him
if you can telegraph me 'yes' or 'no.' Good-morning."
While Philip was speeding to Washington, an important conference was
taking place in Murad Ault's office. He was seated at his desk, and
before him lay two despatches, one from Chicago and a cable from London.
Opposite him, leaning forward in his chair, was a lean, hatchet-faced
man, with keen eyes and aquiline nose, who watched his old curbstone
confidant like a cat.
"I tell you, Wheatstone," said Mr. Ault, with an unmoved face, bringing
his fist down on the table, "now is the time to sell these three stocks."
"Why," said Mr. Wheatstone, with a look of wonder, "they are about the
strongest on the list. Mavick controls them."
"Does he?" said Ault. "Then he can take care of them."
"Have you any news, Mr. Ault?"
"Nothing to speak of," replied Ault, grimly. "It just looks so to me.
All you've got to do is to sell. Make a break this afternoon, about two
or three points off."
"They are too strong," protested Mr. Wheatstone.
"That is just the reason. Everybody will think something must be the
matter, or nobody would be fool enough to sell. You keep your eye on the
Spectrum this afternoon and tomorrow morning. About Organization and one
or two other matters."
"Ah, they do say that Mavick is in Argentine up to his neck," said the
broker, beginning to be enlightened.
"Is he? Then you think he would rather sell than buy?"
Mr. Wheatstone laughed and looked admiringly at his leader. "He may have
Mr. Ault took up the cable cipher and read it to himself again. If Mr.
Hunt had known its contents he need not have waited for Philip to
telegraph "no" from Washington.
"It's all right, Wheatstone. It's the biggest thing you ever struck.
Pitch 'em overboard in the morning. The Street is shaky about Argentine.
There'll be h--- to pay before half past twelve. I guess you can safely
go ten points. Lower yet, if Mavick's brokers begin to unload. I guess
he will have to unless he can borrow. Rumor is a big thing, especially
in a panic, eh? Keep your eye peeled. And, oh, won't you ask Babcock to
step round here?"
Mr. Babcock came round, and had his instructions when to buy. He had the
reputation of being a reckless broker, and not a safe man to follow.
The panic next day, both in London and New York, was long remembered. In
the unreasoning scare the best stocks were sacrificed. Small country
"investors" lost their stakes. Some operators were ruined. Many men
were poorer at the end of the scrimmage, and a few were richer. Murad
Ault was one of the latter. Mavick pulled through, though at an enormous
cost, and with some diminution of the notion of his solidity. The wise
ones suspected that his resources had been overestimated, or that they
were not so well at his command as had been supposed.
When he went home that night he looked five years older, and was too worn
and jaded to be civil to his family. The dinner passed mostly in
silence. Carmen saw that something serious had happened. Lord Montague
"Eh, what did he want?" said Mavick, surlily.
Carmen looked up surprised. "What does anybody after a reception call
"The Lord only knows."
"He is the funniest little man," Evelyn ventured to say.
"That is no way, child, to speak of the son of a duke," said Mavick,
relaxing a little.
Carmen did not like the tone in which this was said, but she prudently
kept silent. And presently Evelyn continued:
"He asked for you, papa, and said he wanted to pay his respects."
"I am glad he wants to pay anything," was the ungracious answer. Still
Evelyn was not to be put down.
"It was such a bright day in the Park. What were you doing all day,
"Why, my dear, I was engaged in Research; you will be pleased to know.
Looking after those ten millions."
When the dinner was over, Carmen followed Mr. Mavick to his study.
"What is the matter, Tom?"
"Nothing uncommon. It's a beastly hole down there. The Board used to be
made up of gentlemen. Now there are such fellows as Ault, a black-
"But he has no influence. He is nothing socially," said Carmen.
"Neither is a wolf or a cyclone. But I don't care to talk about him.
Don't you see, I don't want to be bothered?"
While these great events were taking place Philip was enjoying all the
tremors and delights of expectation which attend callow authorship. He
did not expect much, he said to himself, but deep down in his heart there
was that sweet hope, which fortunately always attends young writers, that
his would be an exceptional experience in the shoal of candidates for
fame, and he was secretly preparing himself not to be surprised if he
should "awake one morning and find himself famous."
The first response was from Celia. She wrote warm-heartedly. She wrote
at length, analyzing the characters, recalling the striking scenes, and
praising without stint the conception and the working out of the
character of the heroine. She pointed out the little faults of
construction and of language, and then minimized them in comparison with
the noble motive and the unity and beauty of the whole. She told Philip
that she was proud of him, and then insisted that, when his biography,
life, and letters was published, it would appear, she hoped, that his
dear friend had just a little to do with inspiring him. It was exactly
the sort of letter an author likes to receive, critical, perfectly
impartial, and with entire understanding of his purpose. All the author
wants is to be understood.
The letter from Alice was quite of another sort, a little shy in speaking
of the story, but full of affection. "Perhaps, dear Phil," she wrote, "I
ought not to tell you how much I like it, how it quite makes me blush in
its revelation of the secrets of a New England girl's heart. I read it
through fast, and then I read it again slowly. It seemed better even the
second time. I do think, Phil, it is a dear little book. Patience says
she hopes it will not become common; it is too fine to be nosed about by
the ordinary. I suppose you had to make it pathetic. Dear me! that is
just the truth of it. Forgive me for writing so freely. I hope it will
not be long before we see you. To think it is done by little Phil!"
The most eagerly expected acknowledgment was, however, a disappointment.
Philip knew Mrs. Mavick too well by this time to expect a letter from her
daughter, but there might have been a line. But Mrs. Mavick wrote
herself. Her daughter, she said, had asked her to acknowledge the
receipt of his very charming story. When he had so many friends it was
very thoughtful in him to remember the acquaintances of last summer. She
hoped the book would have the success it deserved.
This polite note was felt to be a slap in the face, but the effect of it
was softened a little later by a cordial and appreciative letter from
Miss McDonald, telling the author what great delight and satisfaction
they had had in reading it, and thanking him for a prose idyl that showed
in the old-fashioned way that common life was not necessarily vulgar.
The critics seemed to Philip very slow in letting the public know of the
birth of the book. Presently, however, the little notices, all very much
alike, began to drop along, longer or shorter paragraphs, commonly in
undiscriminating praise of the beauty of the story, the majority of them
evidently written by reviewers who sat down to a pile of volumes to be
turned off, and who had not more than five or ten minutes to be lost.
Rarely, however, did any one condemn it, and that showed that it was
harmless. Mr. Brad had given it quite a lift in the Spectrum. The
notice was mainly personal--the first work of a brilliant young man at
the bar who was destined to go high in his profession, unless literature
should, fortunately for the public, have stronger attractions for him.
That such a country idyl should be born amid law-books was sufficiently
remarkable. It was an open secret that the scene of the story was the
birthplace of the author--a lovely village that was brought into notice a
summer ago as the chosen residence of Thomas Mavick and his family.
Eagerly looked for at first, the newspaper notices soon palled upon
Philip, the uniform tone of good-natured praise, unanimous in the
extravagance of unmeaning adjectives. Now and then he welcomed one that
was ill-natured and cruelly censorious. That was a relief. And yet
there were some reviews of a different sort, half a dozen in all, and
half of them from Western journals, which took the book seriously, saw
its pathos, its artistic merit, its failure of construction through
inexperience. A few commended it warmly to readers who loved ideal
purity and could recognize the noble in common life. And some, whom
Philip regarded as authorities, welcomed a writer who avoided
sensationalism, and predicted for him an honorable career in letters, if
he did not become self-conscious and remained true to his ideals.
The book clearly had not made a hit, the publishers had sold one edition
and ordered half another, and no longer regarded the author as a risk.
But, better than this, the book had attracted the attention of many
lovers of literature. Philip was surprised day after day by meeting
people who had read it. His name began to be known in a small circle who
are interested in the business, and it was not long before he had offers
from editors, who were always on the lookout for new writers of promise,
to send something for their magazines. And, perhaps more flattering than
all, he began to have society invitations to dine, and professional
invitations to those little breakfasts that publishers give to old
writers and to young whose names are beginning to be spoken of. All this
was very exhilarating and encouraging. And yet Philip was not allowed to
be unduly elated by the attention of his fellow-craftsmen, for he soon
found that a man's consequence in this circle, as well as with the great
public, depended largely upon the amount of the sale of his book. How
else should it be rated, when a very popular author, by whom Philip sat
one day at luncheon, confessed that he never read books?
"So," said Mr. Sharp, one morning, "I see you have gone into literature,
"Not very deep," replied Philip with a smile, as he rose from his desk.
"Going to drop law, eh?"
"I haven't had occasion to drop much of anything yet," said Philip, still
"Oh well, two masters, you know," and Mr. Sharp passed on to his room.
It was not, however, Mr. Sharp's opinion that Philip was concerned about.
The polite note from Mrs. Mavick stuck in his mind. It was a civil way
of telling him that all summer debts were now paid, and that his
relations with the house of Mavick were at an end. This conclusion was
forced upon him when he left his card, a few days after the reception,
and had the ill luck not to find the ladies at home. The situation had
no element of tragedy in it, but Philip was powerless. He could not
storm the house. He had no visible grievance. There was nothing to
fight. He had simply run against one of the invisible social barriers
that neither offer resistance nor yield. No one had shown him any
discourtesy that society would recognize as a matter of offense. Nay,
more than that, it could have no sympathy with him. It was only the case
of a presumptuous and poor young man who was after a rich girl. The
position itself was ignoble, if it were disclosed.
Yet fortune, which sometimes likes to play the mischief with the best
social arrangements, did give Philip an unlooked-for chance. At a dinner
given by the lady who had been Philip's only partner at the Mavick
reception, and who had read his story and had written to "her partner" a
most kind little note regretting that she had not known she was dancing
with an author, and saying that she and her husband would be delighted to
make his acquaintance, Philip was surprised by the presence of the
Mavicks in the drawing-room. Neither Mr. nor Mrs. Mavick seemed
especially pleased when they encountered him, and in fact his sole
welcome from the family was in the eyes of Evelyn.
The hostess had supposed that the Mavicks would be pleased to meet the
rising author, and in still further carrying out her benevolent purpose,
and with, no doubt, a sympathy in the feelings of the young, Mrs. Van
Cortlandt had assigned Miss Mavick to Mr. Burnett. It was certainly a
natural arrangement, and yet it called a blank look to Mrs. Mavick's
face, that Philip saw, and put her in a bad humor which needed an effort
for her to conceal it from Mr. Van Cortlandt. The dinner-party was
large, and her ill-temper was not assuaged by the fact that the young
people were seated at a distance from her and on the same side of the
"How charming your daughter is looking, Mrs. Mavick!" Mr. Van Cortlandt
began, by way of being agreeable. Mrs. Mavick inclined her head. "That
young Burnett seems to be a nice sort of chap; Mrs. Van Cortlandt says he
is very clever."
"I haven't read his book. They say he is a lawyer."
"Lawyer's clerk, I believe," said Mrs. Mavick, indifferently.
"Authors are pretty plenty nowadays."
"That's a fact. Everybody writes. I don't see how all the poor devils
live." Mr. Van Cortlandt had now caught the proper tone, and the
conversation drifted away from personalities.
It was a very brilliant dinner, but Philip could not have given much
account of it. He made an effort to be civil to his left-hand neighbor,
and he affected an ease in replying to cross-table remarks. He fancied
that he carried himself very well, and so he did for a man unexpectedly
elevated to the seventh heaven, seated for two hours beside the girl
whose near presence filled him with indescribable happiness. Every look,
every tone of her voice thrilled him. How dear she was! how adorable she
was! How radiantly happy she seemed to be whenever she turned her face
towards him to ask a question or to make a reply!
At moments his passion seemed so overmastering that he could hardly
restrain himself from whispering, "Evelyn, I love you." In a hundred
ways he was telling her so. And she must understand. She must know that
this was not an affair of the moment, but that there was condensed in it
all the constant devotion of months and months.
A woman, even any girl with the least social experience, would have seen
this. Was Evelyn's sympathetic attention, her evident enjoyment in
talking with him, any evidence of a personal interest, or only a young
girl's enjoyment of her new position in the world? That she liked him he
was sure. Did she, was she beginning in any degree to return his
passion? He could not tell, for guilelessness in a woman is as
impenetrable as coquetry.
Of what did they talk? A stenographer would have made a meagre report of
it, for the most significant part of this conversation of two fresh,
honest natures was not in words. One thing, however, Philip could bring
away with him that was not a mere haze of delicious impressions. She had
been longing, she said, to talk to him about his story. She told him how
eagerly she had read it, and in talking about its meaning she revealed to
him her inner thought more completely than she could have done in any
other way, her sympathy with his mind, her interest in his work.
"Have you begun another?" she asked, at last.
"No, not on paper."
"But you must. It must be such a world to you. I can't imagine anything
so fine as that. There is so much about life to be said.
To make people see it as it is; yes, and as it ought to be. Will you?"
"You forget that I am a lawyer."
"And you prefer to be that, a lawyer, rather than an author?"
"It is not exactly what I prefer, Miss Mavick."
"Why not? Does anybody do anything well if his heart is not in it?"
"But circumstances sometimes compel a man."
"I like better for men to compel circumstances," the girl exclaimed, with
that disposition to look at things in the abstract that Philip so well
"Perhaps I do not make myself understood. One must have a career."
"A career?" And Evelyn looked puzzled for a moment. "You mean for
himself, for his own self?" There is a lawyer who comes to see papa.
I've been in the room sometimes, when they don't mind. Such talk about
schemes, and how to do this and that, and twisting about. And not a word
about anything any of the time. And one day when he was waiting for papa
I talked with him. You would have been surprised.
I told papa that I could not find anything to interest him. Papa laughed
and said it was my fault, he was one of the sharpest lawyers in the city.
Would you rather be that than to write?"
"Oh, all lawyers are not like that. And, don't you know, literature
"Yes, I have heard that." And then she thought a minute and with a
quizzical look continued: "That is such a queer word, 'pay.' McDonald
says that it pays to be good. Do you think, Mr. Burnett, that law would
Evidently the girl had a standard of judging people that was not much in
Before they rose from the table, Philip asked, speaking low, "Miss
Mavick, won't you give me a violet from your bunch in memory of this
Evelyn hesitated an instant, and then, without looking up, disengaged
three, and shyly laid them at her left hand. "I like the number three
Philip covered the flowers with his hand, and said, "I will keep them
"That is a long time," Evelyn answered, but still without looking up.
But when they rose the color mounted to her cheeks, and Philip thought
that the glorious eyes turned upon him were full of trust.
"It is all your doing," said Carmen, snappishly, when Mavick joined her
in the drawing-room.
"You insisted upon having him at the reception."
"Burnett? Oh, stuff, he isn't a fool!"
There was not much said as the three drove home. Evelyn, flushed with
pleasure and absorbed in her own thoughts, saw that something had gone
wrong with her mother and kept silent. Mr. Mavick at length broke the
"Did you have a good time, child?"
"Oh, yes," replied Evelyn, cheerfully, "and Mrs. Van Cortlandt was very
sweet to me. Don't you think she is very hospitable, mamma?"
"Tries to be," Mrs. Mavick replied, in no cordial tone. "Good-natured
and eccentric. She picks up the queerest lot of people. You can never
know whom you will not meet at her house. Just now she goes in for being
Evelyn was not so reticent with McDonald. While she was undressing she
disclosed that she had had a beautiful evening, that she was taken out by
Mr. Burnett, and talked about his story.
"And, do you know, I think I almost persuaded him to write another."
"It's an awful responsibility," dryly said the shrewd Scotch woman,
"advising young men what to do."
Upon the recollection of this dinner Philip maintained his hope and
courage for a long time. The day after it, New York seemed more
brilliant to him than it had ever been. In the afternoon he rode down to
the Battery. It was a mild winter day, with a haze in the atmosphere
that softened all outlines and gave an enchanting appearance to the
harbor shores. The water was silvery, and he watched a long time the
craft plying on it--the businesslike ferry-boats, the spiteful tugs, the
great ocean steamers, boldly pushing out upon the Atlantic through the
Narrows or cautiously drawing in as if weary with the buffeting of the
waves. The scene kindled in him a vigorous sense of life, of prosperity,
of longing for the activity of the great world.
Clearly he must do something and not be moping in indecision.
Uncertainty is harder to bear than disaster itself. When he thought of
Evelyn, and he always thought of her, it seemed cowardly to hesitate.
Celia, after her first outburst of enthusiasm, had returned to her
cautious advice. The law was much surer. Literature was a mere chance.
Why not be content with his little success and buckle down to his
profession? Perhaps by-and-by he would have leisure to indulge his
inclination. The advice seemed sound.
But there was Evelyn, with her innocent question.
"Would the law pay you?" Evelyn? Would he be more likely to win her by
obeying the advice of Celia, or by trusting to Evelyn's inexperienced
discernment? Indeed, what chance was there to win her at all? What had
he to offer her?
His spirits invariably fell when he thought of submitting his pretensions
to the great man of Wall Street or to his worldly wife. Already it was
the gossip of the clubs that Lord Montague was a frequent visitor at the
Mavicks', that he was often seen in their box at the opera, and that Mrs.
Mavick had said to Bob Shafter that it was a scandal to talk of Lord
Montague as a fortune-hunter. He was a most kind-hearted, domestic man.
She should not join in the newspaper talk about him. He belonged to an
old English family, and she should be civil to him. Generally she did
not fancy Englishmen, and this one she liked neither better nor worse
because he had a title. And when you came to that, why shouldn't any
American girl marry her equal?
As to Montague, he was her friend, and she knew that he had not the least
intention at present of marrying anybody. And then the uncharitable
gossip went on, that there was the Count de l'Auney, and that Mrs. Mavick
was playing the one off against the other.
As the days went on and spring began to appear in the light, fleeting
clouds in the blue sky and in the greening foliage in the city squares,
Philip became more and more restless. The situation was intolerable.
Evelyn he could never see. Perhaps she wondered that he made no effort
to see her. Perhaps she never thought of him at all, and simply, like an
obedient child, accepted her mother's leading, and was getting to like
that society life which was recorded in the daily journals. What did it
matter to him whether he stuck to the law or launched himself into the
Bohemia of literature, so long as doubt about Evelyn haunted him day and
night? If she was indifferent to him, he would know the worst, and go
about his business like a man. Who were the Mavicks, anyway?
Alice had written him once that Evelyn was a dear girl, no one could help
loving her; but she did not like the blood of father and mother. "And
remember, Phil--you must let me say this--there is not a drop of mean
blood in your ancestors."
Philip smiled at this. He was not in love with Mrs. Mavick nor with her
husband. They were for him simply guardians of a treasure he very much
coveted, and yet they were to a certain extent ennobled in his mind as
the authors of the being he worshiped. If it should be true that his
love for her was returned, it would not be possible even for them to
insist upon a course that would make their daughter unhappy for life.
They might reject him--no doubt he was a wholly unequal match for the
heiress--but could they, to the very end, be cruel to her?
Thus the ingenuous young man argued with himself, until it seemed plain
to him that if Evelyn loved him, and the conviction grew that she did,
all obstacles must give way to this overmastering passion of his life.
If he were living in a fool's paradise he would know it, and he ventured
to put his fortune to the test of experiment. The only manly course was
to gain the consent of the parents to ask their daughter to marry him; if
not that, then to be permitted to see her. He was nobly resolved to
pledge himself to make no proposals to her without their approval.
This seemed a very easy thing to do until he attempted it. He would
simply happen into Mr. Mavick's office, and, as Mr. Mavick frequently
talked familiarly with him, he would contrive to lead the conversation to
Evelyn, and make his confession. He mapped out the whole conversation,
and even to the manner in which he would represent his own prospects and
ambitions and his hopes of happiness. Of course Mr. Mavick would evade,
and say that it would be a long time before they should think of
disposing of their daughter's hand, and that--well, he must see himself
that he was in no position to support a wife accustomed to luxury;
in short, that one could not create situations in real life as he could
in novels, that personally he could give him no encouragement,
but that he would consult his wife.
This dream got no further than a private rehearsal. When he called at
Mr. Mavick's office he learned that Mr. Mavick had gone to the Pacific
coast, and that he would probably be absent several weeks. But Philip
could not wait. He resolved to end his torture by a bold stroke.
He wrote to Mrs. Mavick, saying that he had called at Mr. Mavick's
office, and, not finding him at home, he begged that she would give him
an interview concerning a matter of the deepest personal interest to
Mrs. Mavick understood in an instant what this meant. She had feared it.
Her first impulse was to write him a curt note of a character that would
end at once all intercourse. On second thought she determined to see
him, to discover how far the affair had gone, and to have it out with him
once for all. She accordingly wrote that she would have a few minutes at
half past five the next day.
As Philip went up the steps of the Mavick house at the appointed hour, he
met coming out of the door--and it seemed a bad omen--Lord Montague, who
seemed in high spirits, stared at Philip without recognition, whistled
for his cab, and drove away.
Mrs. Mavick received him politely, and, without offering her hand, asked
him to be seated. Philip was horribly embarrassed. The woman was so
cool, so civil, so perfectly indifferent. He stammered out something
about the weather and the coming spring, and made an allusion to the
dinner at Mrs. Van Cortlandt's. Mrs. Mavick was not in the mood to help
him with any general conversation, and presently said, looking at her
"You wrote me that you wanted to consult me. Is there anything I can do
"It was a personal matter," said Philip, getting control of himself.
"So you wrote. Mr. Mavick is away, and if it is in regard to anything in
your office, any promotion, you know, I don't understand anything about
business." And Mrs. Mavick smiled graciously.
"No, it is not about the office. I should not think of troubling my
friends in that way. It is just that--"
"Oh, I see," Mrs. Mavick interrupted, with good-humor, "it's about the
novel. I hear that it has sold very well. And you are not certain
whether its success will warrant your giving up your clerkship. Now as
for me," and she leaned back in her chair, with the air of weighing the
chances in her mind, "it doesn't seem to me that a writer--"
"No, it is not that," said Philip, leaning forward and looking her full
in the face with all the courage he could summon, "it is your daughter."
"What!" cried Mrs. Mavick, in a tone of incredulous surprise.
"I was afraid you would think me very presumptuous."
"Presumptuous! Why, she is a child. Do you know what you are talking
"My mother married at eighteen," said Philip, gently.
"That is an interesting piece of information, but I don't see its
bearing. Will you tell me, Mr. Burnett, what nonsense you have got into
"I want," and Philip spoke very gently--"I want, Mrs. Mavick, permission
to see your daughter."
"Ah! I thought in Rivervale, Mr. Burnett, that you were a gentleman.
You presume upon my invitation to this house, in an underhand way,
to--What right have you?"
Mrs. Mavick was so beside herself that she could hardly speak. The lines
in her face deepened into wrinkles and scowls. There was something
malevolent and mean in it. Philip was astonished at the transformation.
And she looked old and ugly in her passion.
"You!" she repeated.
"It is only this, Mrs. Mavick," and Philip spoke calmly, though his blood
was boiling at her insulting manner--"it is only this--I love your
"And you have told her this?"
"No, never, never a word."
"Does she know anything of this absurd, this silly attempt?"
"I am afraid not."
"Ah! Then you have spared yourself one humiliation. My daughter's
affections are not likely to be placed where her parents do not approve.
Her mother is her only confidante. I can tell you, Mr. Burnett, and when
you are over this delusion you will thank me for being so plain with you,
my daughter would laugh at the idea of such a proposal. But I will not
have her annoyed by impecunious aspirants."