Part 2 out of 13
the dawning of this idea had frightened the girl. She was so
inexperienced and ignorant that she felt it might be possible
that in England one's husband and one's mother-in-law could
do what they liked. It might be that they could take possession
of one's money as they seemed to take possession of one's
self and one's very soul. She would have been very glad to
give them money, and had indeed wondered frequently if she
might dare to offer it to them, if they would be outraged and
insulted and slay her in their wrath at her purse-proud daring.
She had tried to invent ways in which she could approach the
subject, but had not been able to screw up her courage to any
sticking point. She was so overpowered by her consciousness
that they seemed continually to intimate that Americans with
money were ostentatious and always laying stress upon the
amount of their possessions. She had no conception of the
primeval simpleness of their attitude in such matters, and that
no ceremonies were necessary save the process of transferring
sufficiently large sums as though they were the mere right of
the recipients. She was taught to understand this later. In
the meantime, however, ready as she would have been to give
large sums if she had known how, she was terrified by the
thought that it might be possible that she could be deprived of
her bank account and reduced to the condition of a sort of
dependent upon the humours of her lately acquired relations.
She thought over this a good deal, and would have found
immense relief if she dared have consulted anyone. But she
could not make up her mind to reveal her unhappiness to her
people. She had been married so recently, everybody had
thought her marriage so delightful, she could not bear that her
father and mother should be distressed by knowing that she
was wretched. She also reflected with misery that New York
would talk the matter over excitedly and that finally the
newspapers would get hold of the gossip. She could even imagine
interviewers calling at the house in Fifth Avenue and
endeavouring to obtain particulars of the situation. Her father
would be angry and refuse to give them, but that would make no
difference; the newspapers would give them and everybody would
read what they said, whether it was true or not. She could not
possibly write facts, she thought, so her poor little letters
were restrained and unlike herself, and to the warm-hearted souls
in New York, even appearing stiff and unaffectionate, as if her
aristocratic surroundings had chilled her love for them. In
fact, it became far from easy for her to write at all, since Sir
Nigel so disapproved of her interest in the American mail. His
objections had indeed taken the form of his feeling himself
quite within his rights when he occasionally intercepted letters
from her relations, with a view of finding out whether they
contained criticisms of himself, which would betray that she
had been guilty of indiscreet confidences. He discovered that
she had not apparently been so guilty, but it was evident that
there were moments when Mrs. Vanderpoel was uneasy and
disposed to ask anxious questions. When this occurred he
destroyed the letters, and as a result of this precaution on his
part her motherly queries seemed to be ignored, and she several
times shed tears in the belief that Rosy had grown so
patrician that she was capable of snubbing her mother in her
resentment at feeling her privacy intruded upon and an unrefined
"I just feel as if she was beginning not to care about us at
all, Betty," she said. "I couldn't have believed it of Rosy.
She was always such an affectionate girl."
"I don't believe it now," replied Betty sharply. "Rosy
couldn't grow hateful and stuck up. It's that nasty Nigel
I know it is."
Sir Nigel's intention was that there should be as little
intercourse between Fifth Avenue and Stornham Court as was
possible. Among other things, he did not intend that a lot of
American relations should come tumbling in when they chose
to cross the Atlantic. He would not have it, and took
discreet steps to prevent any accident of the sort. He wrote to
America occasionally himself, and knowing well how to make
himself civilly repellent, so subtly chilled his parents-in-law
as to discourage in them more than once their half-formed plan
of paying a visit to their child in her new home. He opened,
read and reclosed all epistles to and from New York, and while
Mrs. Vanderpoel was much hurt to find that Rosalie never
condescended to make any response to her tentatives concerning
her possible visit, Rosalie herself was mystified by the fact
that the journey "to Europe" was never spoken of.
"I don't see why they never seem to think of coming over,"
she said plaintively one day. "They used to talk so much
"They?" ejaculated the Dowager Lady Anstruthers. "Whom may you
"Mother and father and Betty and some of the others."
Her mother-in-law put up her eye-glasses to stare at her.
"The whole family?" she inquired.
"There are not so many of them," Rosalie answered.
"A family is always too many to descend upon a young
woman when she is married," observed her ladyship unmovedly.
Nigel glanced over the top of his Times.
"I may as well tell you that it would not do at all," he put in.
"Why--why not?" exclaimed Rosalie, aghast.
"Americans don't do in English society," slightingly.
"But they are coming over so much. They like London so--
all Americans like London."
"Do they?" with a drawl which made Rosalie blush until
the tears started to her eyes. "I am afraid the sentiment is
Rosalie turned and fled from the room. She turned and
fled because she realised that she should burst out crying if
she waited to hear another word, and she realised that of
late she seemed always to be bursting out crying before one
or the other of those two. She could not help it. They always
seemed to be implying something slighting or scathing. They
were always putting her in the wrong and hurting her
The day was damp and chill, but she put on her hat and
ran out into the park. She went down the avenue and turned
into a coppice. There, among the wet bracken, she sank down
on the mossy trunk of a fallen tree and huddled herself in a
small heap, her head on her arms, actually wailing.
"Oh, mother! Oh, mother!" she cried hysterically. "Oh,
I do wish you would come. I'm so cold, mother; I'm so ill!
I can't bear it! It seems as if you'd forgotten all about me!
You're all so happy in New York that perhaps you have forgotten--
perhaps you have! Oh, don't, mother--don't! "
It was a month later that through the vicar's wife she
reached a discovery and a climax. She had heard one morning
from this lady of a misfortune which had befallen a small
farmer. It was a misfortune which was an actual catastrophe
to a man in his position. His house had caught fire during a
gale of wind and the fire had spread to the outbuildings and
rickyard and swept away all his belongings, his house, his
furniture, his hayricks, and stored grain, and even his few cows
and horses. He had been a poor, hard-working fellow, and
his small insurance had lapsed the day before the fire. He
was absolutely ruined, and with his wife and six children
stood face to face with beggary and starvation.
Rosalie Anstruthers entered the vicarage to find the poor
woman who was his companion in calamity sobbing in the
hall. A child of a few weeks was in her arms, and two
small creatures clung crying to her skirts.
"We've worked hard," she wept; "we have, ma'am. Father,
he's always been steady, an' up early an' late. P'r'aps it's the
Lord's 'and, as you say, ma'am, but we've been decent people
an' never missed church when we could 'elp it--father didn't
deserve it--that he didn't."
She was heartbroken in her downtrodden hopelessness. Rosalie
literally quaked with sympathy. She poured forth her pity
in such words as the poor woman had never heard spoken by
a great lady to a humble creature like herself. The villagers
found the new Lady Anstruthers' interviews with them curiously
simple and suggestive of an equality they could not understand.
Stornham was a conservative old village, where the
distinction between the gentry and the peasants was clearly
marked. The cottagers were puzzled by Sir Nigel's wife, but
they decided that she was kind, if unusual.
As Rosalie talked to the farmer's wife she longed for her
father's presence. She had remembered a time when a man
in his employ had lost his all by fire, the small house he
had just made his last payment upon having been burned
to the ground. He had lost one of his children in the fire, and
the details had been heartrending. The entire Vanderpoel
household had wept on hearing them, and Mr. Vanderpoel had
drawn a cheque which had seemed like a fortune to the
sufferer. A new house had been bought, and Mrs. Vanderpoel
and her daughters and friends had bestowed furniture and
clothing enough to make the family comfortable to the verge
"See, you poor thing," said Rosalie, glowing with memories
of this incident, her homesick young soul comforted by the
mere likeness in the two calamities. "I brought my cheque
book with me because I meant to help you. A man
worked for my father had his house burned, just as yours
was, and my father made everything all right for him again.
I'll make it all right for you; I'll make you a cheque for a
hundred pounds now, and then when your husband begins to
build I'll give him some more."
The woman gasped for breath and turned pale. She was
frightened. It really seemed as if her ladyship must have lost
her wits a little. She could not mean this. The vicaress
turned pale also.
"Lady Anstruthers," she said, "Lady Anstruthers, it--it
is too much. Sir Nigel----"
"Too much!" exclaimed Rosalie. "They have lost everything,
you know; their hayricks and cattle as well as their
house; I guess it won't be half enough."
Mrs. Brent dragged her into the vicar's study and talked to
her. She tried to explain that in English villages such things
were not done in a manner so casual, as if they were the mere
result of unconsidered feeling, as if they were quite natural
things, such as any human person might do. When Rosalie
cried: "But why not--why not? They ought to be." Mrs.
Brent could not seem to make herself quite clear. Rosalie only
gathered in a bewildered way that there ought to be more
ceremony, more deliberation, more holding off, before a person
of rank indulged in such munificence. The recipient ought
to be made to feel it more, to understand fully what a great
thing was being done.
"They will think you will do anything for them."
"So I will," said young Lady Anstruthers, "if I have the
money when they are in such awful trouble. Suppose we
lost everything in the world and there were people who could
easily help us and wouldn't?"
"You and Sir Nigel--that is quite different," said Mrs.
Brent. "I am afraid that if you do not discuss the matter
and ask advice from your husband and mother-in-law they
will be very much offended."
"If I were doing it with their money they would have
the right to be," replied Rosalie, with entire ingenuousness.
"I wouldn't presume to do such a thing as that. That wouldn't
be right, of course."
"They will be angry with me," said the vicaress
awkwardly. This queer, silly girl, who seemed to see nothing in
the right light, frequently made her feel awkward. Mrs. Brent
told her husband that she appeared to have no sense of dignity
or proper appreciation of her position.
The wife of the farmer, John Wilson, carried away the
cheque, quite stunned. She was breathless with amazement
and turned rather faint with excitement, bewilderment and
her sense of relief. She had to sit down in the vicarage kitchen
for a few minutes and drink a glass of the thin vicarage beer.
Rosalie promised that she would discuss the matter and ask
advice when she returned to the Court. Just as she left the
house Mrs. Brent suddenly remembered something she had forgotten.
"The Wilson trouble completely drove it out of my mind,"
she said. "It was a stupid mistake of the postboy's. He left
a letter of yours among mine when he came this morning. It
was most careless. I shall speak to his father about it. It
might have been important that you should receive it early."
When she saw the letter Rosalie uttered an exclamation. It
was addressed in her father's handwriting.
"Oh!" she cried. "It's from father! And the postmark
is Havre. What does it mean?"
She was so excited that she almost forgot to express her
thanks. Her heart leaped up in her throat. Could they have
come over from America--could they? Why was it written
from Havre? Could they be near her?
She walked along the road choked with ecstatic, laughing
sobs. Her hand shook so that she could scarcely tear open
the envelope; she tore a corner of the letter, and when the
sheet was spread open her eyes were full of wild, delighted
tears, which made it impossible for her to see for the moment.
But she swept the tears away and read this:
It seems as if we had had pretty bad luck in not seeing you.
We had counted on it very much, and your mother feels it
all the more because she is weak after her illness. We don't
quite understand why you did not seem to know about her
having had diphtheria in Paris. You did not answer Betty's
letter. Perhaps it missed you in some way. Things do sometimes
go wrong in the mail, and several times your mother has
thought a letter has been lost. She thought so because you
seemed to forget to refer to things. We came over to leave
Betty at a French school and we had expected to visit you
later. But your mother fell ill of diphtheria and not hearing
from you seemed to make her homesick, so we decided to return
to New York by the next steamer. I ran over to London,
however, to make some inquiries about you, and on the
first day I arrived I met your husband in Bond Street. He at
once explained to me that you had gone to a house party
at some castle in Scotland, and said you were well and
enjoying yourself very much, and he was on his way to join you.
I am sorry, daughter, that it has turned out that we could
not see each other. It seems a long time since you left us.
But I am very glad, however, that you are so well and
really like English life. If we had time for it I am sure it
would be delightful. Your mother sends her love and wants
very much to hear of all you are doing and enjoying. Hoping
that we may have better luck the next time we cross--
Your affectionate father,
REUBEN L. VANDERPOEL.
Rosalie found herself running breathlessly up the avenue.
She was clutching the letter still in her hand, and staggering
from side to side. Now and then she uttered horrible little
short cries, like an animal's. She ran and ran, seeing nothing,
and now and then with the clenched hand in which the letter
was crushed striking a sharp blow at her breast.
She stumbled up the big stone steps she had mounted on the
day she was brought home as a bride. Her dress caught her
feet and she fell on her knees and scrambled up again, gasping;
she dashed across the huge dark hall, and, hurling herself
against the door of the morning room, appeared, dishevelled,
haggard-eyed, and with scarlet patches on her wild,
white face, before the Dowager, who started angrily to her
"Where is Nigel? Where is Nigel?" she cried out frenziedly.
"What in heaven's name do you mean by such manners?"
demanded her ladyship. "Apologise at once!"
"Where is Nigel? Nigel! Nigel!" the girl raved. "I will
see him--I will--I will see him!"
She who had been the mildest of sweet-tempered creatures
all her life had suddenly gone almost insane with heartbroken,
hysteric grief and rage. She did not know what she was saying
and doing; she only realised in an agony of despair that she
was a thing caught in a trap; that these people had her in their
power, and that they had tricked and lied to her and kept her
apart from what her girl's heart so cried out to and longed for.
Her father, her mother, her little sister; they had been near
her and had been lied to and sent away
"You are quite mad, you violent, uncontrolled creature!"
cried the Dowager furiously. "You ought to be put in a
straitjacket and drenched with cold water."
Then the door opened again and Nigel strode in. He was
in riding dress and was breathless and livid with anger. He
was in a nice mood to confront a wife on the verge of screaming
hysterics. After a bad half hour with his steward, who
had been talking of impending disasters, he had heard by
chance of Wilson's conflagration and the hundred-pound
cheque. He had galloped home at the top of his horse's speed.
"Here is your wife raving mad," cried out his mother.
Rosalie staggered across the room to him. She held up her
hand clenching the letter and shook it at him.
"My mother and father have been here," she shrieked.
My mother has been ill. They wanted to come to see me.
You knew and you kept it from me. You told my father lies
--lies--hideous lies! You said I was away in Scotland--
enjoying myself--when I was here and dying with homesickness.
You made them think I did not care for them--or for New York!
You have killed me! Why did you do such a wicked thing!
He looked at her with glaring eyes. If a man born a
gentleman is ever in the mood to kick his wife to death, as
costermongers do, he was in that mood. He had lost control over
himself as completely as she had, and while she was only a
desperate, hysteric girl, he was a violent man.
"I did it because I did not mean to have them here," he
said. "I did it because I won't have them here."
"They shall come," she quavered shrilly in her wildness.
"They shall come to see me. They are my own father and
mother, and I will have them."
He caught her arm in such a grip that she must have thought he
would break it, if she could have thought or felt anything.
"No, you will not have them," he ground forth between
his teeth. "You will do as I order you and learn to behave
yourself as a decent married woman should. You will learn
to obey your husband and respect his wishes and control your
devilish American temper."
"They have gone--gone!" wailed Rosalie. "You sent them
away! My father, my mother, my sister!"
"Stop your indecent ravings!" ordered Sir Nigel, shaking
her. "I will not submit to be disgraced before the servants."
"Put your hand over her mouth, Nigel," cried his mother.
"The very scullery maids will hear."
She was as infuriated as her son. And, indeed, to behold
civilised human beings in the state of uncontrolled violence
these three had reached was a sight to shudder at.
"I won't stop," cried the girl. "Why did you take me
away from everything--I was quite happy. Everybody was
kind to me. I loved people, I had everything. No one ever--
ever--ever ill-used anyone----"
Sir Nigel clutched her arm more brutally still and shook
her with absolute violence. Her hair broke loose and fell
about her awful little distorted, sobbing face.
"I did not take you to give you an opportunity to display
your vulgar ostentation by throwing away hundred-pound
cheques to villagers," he said. "I didn't take you to give you
the position of a lady and be made a fool of by you."
"You have ruined him," burst forth his mother. "You
have put it out of his power to marry an Englishwoman who
would have known it was her duty to give something in return
for his name and protection."
Her ladyship had begun to rave also, and as mother and
son were of equal violence when they had ceased to control
themselves, Rosalie began to find herself enlightened
unsparingly. She and her people were vulgar sharpers. They had
trapped a gentleman into a low American marriage and had
not the decency to pay for what they had got. If she had
been an Englishwoman, well born, and of decent breeding,
all her fortune would have been properly transferred to her
husband and he would have had the dispensing of it. Her
husband would have been in the position to control her
expenditure and see that she did not make a fool of herself. As
it was she was the derision of all decent people, of all people
who had been properly brought up and knew what was in
good taste and of good morality.
First it was the Dowager who poured forth, and then it
was Sir Nigel. They broke in on each other, they interrupted
one another with exclamations and interpolations. They had
so far lost themselves that they did not know they became
grotesque in the violence of their fury. Rosalie's brain
whirled. Her hysteria mounted and mounted. She stared first at
one and then at the other, gasping and sobbing by turns; she
swayed on her feet and clutched at a chair.
"I did not know," she broke forth at last, trying to make
her voice heard in the storm. "I never understood. I knew
something made you hate me, but I didn't know you were
angry about money." She laughed tremulously and wildly.
"I would have given it to you--father would have given you
some--if you had been good to me." The laugh became
hysterical beyond her management. Peal after peal broke from
her, she shook all over with her ghastly merriment, sobbing
at one and the same time.
"Oh! oh! oh!" she shrieked. "You see, I thought you
were so aristocratic. I wouldn't have dared to think of such
a thing. I thought an English gentleman--an English gentleman--
oh! oh! to think it was all because I did not give you
money--just common dollars and cents that--that I daren't
offer to a decent American who could work for himself."
Sir Nigel sprang at her. He struck her with his open hand
upon the cheek, and as she reeled she held up her small,
feverish, shaking hand, laughing more wildly than before.
"You ought not to strike me," she cried. "You oughtn't!
You don't know how valuable I am. Perhaps----" with a
little, crazy scream--"perhaps I might have a son."
She fell in a shuddering heap, and as she dropped she struck
heavily against the protruding end of an oak chest and lay upon
the floor, her arms flung out and limp, as if she were a dead
ON BOTH SIDES OF THE ATLANTIC
In the course of twelve years the Shuttle had woven steadily
and--its movements lubricated by time and custom--with
increasing rapidity. Threads of commerce it caught up and shot
to and fro, with threads of literature and art, threads of life
drawn from one shore to the other and back again, until they
were bound in the fabric of its weaving. Coldness there had
been between both lands, broad divergence of taste and thought,
argument across seas, sometimes resentment, but the web in
Fate's hands broadened and strengthened and held fast. Coldness
faintly warmed despite itself, taste and thought drawn into
nearer contact, reflecting upon their divergences, grew into
tolerance and the knowledge that the diverging, seen more
clearly, was not so broad; argument coming within speaking
distance reasoned itself to logical and practical conclusions.
Problems which had stirred anger began to find solutions.
Books, in the first place, did perhaps more than all else.
Cheap, pirated editions of English works, much quarrelled over by
authors and publishers, being scattered over the land, brought
before American eyes soft, home-like pictures of places which
were, after all was said and done, the homes of those who read
of them, at least in the sense of having been the birthplaces
of fathers or grandfathers. Some subtle, far-reaching power
of nature caused a stirring of the blood, a vague, unexpressed
yearning and lingering over pages which depicted sweet, green
lanes, broad acres rich with centuries of nourishment and care;
grey church towers, red roofs, and village children playing
before cottage doors. None of these things were new to those
who pondered over them, kinsmen had dwelt on memories of
them in their fireside talk, and their children had seen them in
fancy and in dreams. Old grievances having had time to fade
away and take on less poignant colour, the stirring of the blood
stirred also imaginations, and wakened something akin to
homesickness, though no man called the feeling by its name. And
this, perhaps, was the strongest cord the Shuttle wove and was
the true meaning of its power. Being drawn by it, Americans
in increasing numbers turned their faces towards the older
land. Gradually it was discovered that it was the simplest
affair in the world to drive down to the wharves and take a
steamer which landed one, after a more or less interesting
voyage, in Liverpool, or at some other convenient port. From
there one went to London, or Paris, or Rome; in fact, whither-
soever one's fancy guided, but first or last it always led the
traveller to the treading of green, velvet English turf. And
once standing on such velvet, both men and women, looking
about them, felt, despite themselves, the strange old thrill
which some of them half resented and some warmly loved.
In the course of twelve years, a length of time which will
transform a little girl wearing a short frock into a young
woman wearing a long one, the pace of life and the ordering
of society may become so altered as to appear amazing when
one finds time to reflect on the subject. But one does not
often find time. Changes occur so gradually that one scarcely
observes them, or so swiftly that they take the form of a kind of
amazed shock which one gets over as quickly as one experiences it
and realises that its cause is already a fixed fact.
In the United States of America, which have not yet acquired the
serene sense of conservative self-satisfaction and repose which
centuries of age may bestow, the spirit of life itself is the
aspiration for change. Ambition itself only means the insistence
on change. Each day is to be better than yesterday fuller of
plans, of briskness, of initiative. Each to-day demands
of to-morrow new men, new minds, new work. A to-day which
has not launched new ships, explored new countries, constructed
new buildings, added stories to old ones, may consider
itself a failure, unworthy even of being consigned to the limbo
of respectable yesterdays. Such a country lives by leaps and
bounds, and the ten years which followed the marriage of
Reuben Vanderpoel's eldest daughter made many such bounds
and leaps. They were years which initiated and established
international social relations in a manner which caused them
to incorporate themselves with the history of both countries.
As America discovered Europe, that continent discovered America.
American beauties began to appear in English drawing-rooms and
Continental salons. They were presented at court
and commented upon in the Row and the Bois. Their little
transatlantic tricks of speech and their mots were repeated with
gusto. It became understood that they were amusing and
amazing. Americans "came in" as the heroes and heroines of
novels and stories. Punch delighted in them vastly. Shop-
keepers and hotel proprietors stocked, furnished, and
provisioned for them. They spent money enormously and were
singularly indifferent (at the outset) under imposition. They
"came over" in a manner as epoch-making, though less war-like
than that of William the Conqueror.
International marriages ceased to be a novelty. As Bettina
Vanderpoel grew up, she grew up, so to speak, in the midst
of them. She saw her country, its people, its newspapers, its
literature, innocently rejoiced by the alliances its charming
young women contracted with foreign rank. She saw it
affectionately, gleefully, rubbing its hands over its duchesses,
its countesses, its miladies. The American Eagle spread its
wings and flapped them sometimes a trifle, over this new but so
natural and inevitable triumph of its virgins. It was of course
only "American" that such things should happen. America
ruled the universe, and its women ruled America, bullying it
a little, prettily, perhaps. What could be more a matter of
course than that American women, being aided by adoring
fathers, brothers and husbands, sumptuously to ship themselves
to other lands, should begin to rule these lands also? Betty,
in her growing up, heard all this intimated. At twelve years
old, though she had detested Rosalie's marriage, she had rather
liked to hear people talk of the picturesqueness of places like
Stornham Court, and of the life led by women of rank in
their houses in town and country. Such talk nearly always
involved the description of things and people, whose colour
and tone had only reached her through the medium of books,
most frequently fiction.
She was, however, of an unusually observing mind, even as
a child, and the time came when she realised that the national
bird spread its wings less proudly when the subject of
international matches was touched upon, and even at such times
showed signs of restlessness. Now and then things had not
turned out as they appeared to promise; two or three seemingly
brilliant unions had resulted in disaster. She had not
understood all the details the newspapers cheerfully provided,
but it was clear to her that more than one previously envied
young woman had had practical reasons for discovering that she
had made an astonishingly bad bargain. This being the case, she
used frequently to ponder over the case of Rosy--Rosy! who had
been swept away from them and swallowed up, as it seemed,
by that other and older world. She was in certain ways a
silent child, and no one but herself knew how little she had
forgotten Rosy, how often she pondered over her, how sometimes
she had lain awake in the night and puzzled out lines
of argument concerning her and things which might be true.
The one grief of poor Mrs. Vanderpoel's life had been the
apparent estrangement of her eldest child. After her first
six months in England Lady Anstruthers' letters had become
fewer and farther between, and had given so little information
connected with herself that affectionate curiosity became
discouraged. Sir Nigel's brief and rare epistles revealed so
little desire for any relationship with his wife's family that
gradually Rosy's image seemed to fade into far distance and
become fainter with the passing of each month. It seemed
almost an incredible thing, when they allowed themselves to think
of it, but no member of the family had ever been to Stornham
Court. Two or three efforts to arrange a visit had been
made, but on each occasion had failed through some apparently
accidental cause. Once Lady Anstruthers had been
away, once a letter had seemingly failed to reach her, once
her children had had scarlet fever and the orders of the
physicians in attendance had been stringent in regard to
visitors, even relatives who did not fear contagion.
"If she had been living in New York and her children had
been ill I should have been with her all the time," poor Mrs.
Vanderpoel had said with tears. "Rosy's changed awfully,
somehow. Her letters don't sound a bit like she used to be.
It seems as if she just doesn't care to see her mother and
Betty had frowned a good deal and thought intensely in
secret. She did not believe that Rosy was ashamed of her
relations. She remembered, however, it is true, that Clara
Newell (who had been a schoolmate) had become very super-fine and
indifferent to her family after her marriage to an
aristocratic and learned German. Hers had been one of the
successful alliances, and after living a few years in Berlin she
had quite looked down upon New Yorkers, and had made herself
exceedingly unpopular during her one brief visit to her
relatives. She seemed to think her father and mother undignified
and uncultivated, and she disapproved entirely of her
sisters dress and bearing. She said that they had no distinction
of manner and that all their interests were frivolous and
"But Clara always was a conceited girl," thought Betty.
"She was always patronising people, and Rosy was only pretty
and sweet. She always said herself that she had no brains.
But she had a heart."
After the lapse of a few years there had been no further
discussion of plans for visiting Stornham. Rosalie had become
so remote as to appear almost unreachable. She had been
presented at Court, she had had three children, the Dowager
Lady Anstruthers had died. Once she had written to her
father to ask for a large sum of money, which he had sent to
her, because she seemed to want it very much. She required
it to pay off certain debts on the estate and spoke touchingly
of her boy who would inherit.
"He is a delicate boy, father," she wrote, "and I don't
want the estate to come to him burdened."
When she received the money she wrote gratefully of the
generosity shown her, but she spoke very vaguely of the prospect
of their seeing each other in the future. It was as if she
felt her own remoteness even more than they felt it themselves.
In the meantime Bettina had been taken to France and
placed at school there. The resulting experience was an
enlightening one, far more illuminating to the quick-witted
American child than it would have been to an English, French,
or German one, who would not have had so much to learn,
and probably would not have been so quick at the learning.
Betty Vanderpoel knew nothing which was not American,
and only vaguely a few things which were not of New York.
She had lived in Fifth Avenue, attended school in a numbered
street near her own home, played in and been driven round
Central Park. She had spent the hot months of the summer
in places up the Hudson, or on Long Island, and such resorts
of pleasure. She had believed implicitly in all she saw and
knew. She had been surrounded by wealth and decent good
nature throughout her existence, and had enjoyed her life far
too much to admit of any doubt that America was the most
perfect country in the world, Americans the cleverest and most
amusing people, and that other nations were a little out of it,
and consequently sufficiently scant of resource to render pity
without condemnation a natural sentiment in connection with
one's occasional thoughts of them.
But hers was a mentality by no means ordinary. Inheritance
in her nature had combined with circumstances, as it has a
habit of doing in all human beings. But in her case the
combinations were unusual and produced a result somewhat
remarkable. The quality of brains which, in the first Reuben
Vanderpoel had expressed itself in the marvellously successful
planning and carrying to their ends of commercial and financial
schemes, the absolute genius of penetration and calculation
of the sordid and uneducated little trader in skins and
barterer of goods, having filtered through two generations of
gradual education and refinement of existence, which was no
longer that of the mere trader, had been transformed in the
great-granddaughter into keen, clear sight, level-headed
perceptiveness and a logical sense of values. As the first
Reuben had known by instinct the values of pelts and lands,
Bettina knew by instinct the values of qualities, of brains, of
hearts, of circumstances, and the incidents which affect them.
She was as unaware of the significance of her great possession as
werethose around her. Nevertheless it was an unerring thing. As
a mere child, unformed and uneducated by life, she had not
been one of the small creatures to be deceived or flattered.
"She's an awfully smart little thing, that Betty," her New
York aunts and cousins often remarked. "She seems to see
what people mean, it doesn't matter what they say. She likes
people you would not expect her to like, and then again she
sometimes doesn't care the least for people who are thought
As has been already intimated, the child was crude enough
and not particularly well bred, but her small brain had always
been at work, and each day of her life recorded for her valuable
impressions. The page of her young mind had ceased to
be a blank much earlier than is usual.
The comparing of these impressions with such as she
received when her life in the French school was new afforded
her active mental exercise
She began with natural, secret indignation and rebellion.
There was no other American pupil in the establishment besides
herself. But for the fact that the name of Vanderpoel
represented wealth so enormous as to amount to a sort of
rank in itself, Bettina would not have been received. The
proprietress of the institution had gravely disquieting doubts of
the propriety of America. Her pupils were not accustomed to
freedom of opinions and customs. An American child might
either consciously or unconsciously introduce them. As this
must be guarded against, Betty's first few months at the school
were not agreeable to her. She was supervised and expurgated,
as it were. Special Sisters were told off to converse and
walk with her, and she soon perceived that conversations were
not only French lessons in disguise, but were lectures on ethics,
morals, and good manners, imperfectly concealed by the mask
and domino of amiable entertainment. She translated into
English after the following manner the facts her swift young
perceptions gathered. There were things it was so inelegant
to say that only the most impossible persons said them; there
were things it was so inexcusable to do that when done their
inexcusability assumed the proportions of a crime. There were
movements, expressions, points of view, which one must avoid
as one would avoid the plague. And they were all things, acts,
expressions, attitudes of mind which Bettina had been familiar
with from her infancy, and which she was well aware were
considered almost entirely harmless and unobjectionable in New
York, in her beloved New York, which was the centre of the
world, which was bigger, richer, gayer, more admirable than
any other city known upon the earth.
If she had not so loved it, if she had ever dreamed of the
existence of any other place as being absolutely necessary, she
would not have felt the thing so bitterly. But it seemed to her
that all these amiable diatribes in exquisite French were
directed at her New York, and it must be admitted that she was
humiliated and enraged. It was a personal, indeed, a family
matter. Her father, her mother, her relatives, and friends
were all in some degree exactly the kind of persons whose speech,
habits, and opinions she must conscientiously avoid. But for the
instinct of summing up values, circumstances, and intentions,
it is probable that she would have lost her head, let loose
her temper and her tongue, and have become insubordinate.
But the quickness of perception which had revealed practical
potentialities to old Reuben Vanderpoel, revealed to her the
value of French which was perfectly fluent, a voice which was
musical, movements which were grace, manners which had a still
beauty, and comparing these things with others less charming
she listened and restrained herself, learning, marking, and
inwardly digesting with a cleverness most enviable.
Among her fellow pensionnaires she met with discomforting
illuminations, which were fine discipline also, though if she
herself had been a less intellectual creature they might have
been embittering. Without doubt Betty, even at twelve years,
was intellectual. Hers was the practical working intellect
which begins duty at birth and does not lay down its tools
because the sun sets. The little and big girls who wrote their
exercises at her side did not deliberately enlighten her, but she
learned from them in vague ways that it was not New York
which was the centre of the earth, but Paris, or Berlin, Madrid,
London, or Rome. Paris and London were perhaps more calmly
positive of themselves than other capitals, and were a little
inclined to smile at the lack of seriousness in other claims.
But one strange fact was more predominant than any other,
and this was that New York was not counted as a civilised
centre at all; it had no particular existence. Nobody expressed
this rudely; in fact, it did not acquire the form of actual
statement at any time. It was merely revealed by amiable and
ingenuous unconsciousness of the circumstance that such a part
of the world expected to be regarded or referred to at all.
Betty began early to realise that as her companions did not
talk of Timbuctoo or Zanzibar, so they did not talk of New
York. Stockholm or Amsterdam seemed, despite their smallness,
to be considered. No one denied the presence of Zanzibar
on the map, but as it conveyed nothing more than the impression
of being a mere geographical fact, there was no reason
why one should dwell on it in conversation. Remembering
all she had left behind, the crowded streets, the brilliant shop
windows, the buzz of individual people, there were moments
when Betty ground her strong little teeth. She wanted to
express all these things, to call out, to explain, and command
recognition for them. But her cleverness showed to her that
argument or protestation would be useless. She could not
make such hearers understand. There were girls whose interest
in America was founded on their impression that magnificent
Indian chieftains in blankets and feathers stalked about
the streets of the towns, and that Betty's own thick black hair
had been handed down to her by some beautiful Minnehaha
or Pocahontas. When first she was approached by timid, tentative
questionings revealing this point of view, Betty felt hot
and answered with unamiable curtness. No, there were no
red Indians in New York. There had been no red Indians
in her family. She had neither grandmothers nor aunts who
were squaws, if they meant that.
She felt so scornfully, so disgustedly indignant at their
benighted ignorance, that she knew she behaved very well in
saying so little in reply. She could have said so much, but
whatsoever she had said would have conveyed nothing to them,
so she thought it all out alone. She went over the whole ground
and little realised how much she was teaching herself as she
turned and tossed in her narrow, spotlessly white bed at night,
arguing, comparing, drawing deductions from what she knew
and did not know of the two continents. Her childish anger,
combining itself with the practical, alert brain of Reuben
Vanderpoel the first, developed in her a logical reasoning power
which led her to arrive at many an excellent and curiously
mature conclusion. The result was finely educational. All
the more so that in her fevered desire for justification of
the things she loved, she began to read books such as little
girls do not usually take interest in. She found some difficulty
in obtaining them at first, but a letter or two written to her
father obtained for her permission to read what she chose. The
third Reuben Vanderpoel was deeply fond of his younger
daughter, and felt in secret a profound admiration for her,
which was saved from becoming too obvious by the ever present
American sense of humour.
"Betty seems to be going in for politics," he said after
reading the letter containing her request and her first list of
books. "She's about as mad as she can be at the ignorance of the
French girls about America and Americans. She wants to fill
up on solid facts, so that she can come out strong in argument.
She's got an understanding of the power of solid facts
that would be a fortune to her if she were a man."
It was no doubt her understanding of the power of facts
which led her to learn everything well and to develop in many
directions. She began to dip into political and historical
volumes because she was furious, and wished to be able to refute
idiocy, but she found herself continuing to read because she
was interested in a way she had not expected. She began to
see things. Once she made a remark which was prophetic.
She made it in answer to a guileless observation concerning the
gold mines with which Boston was supposed to be enriched.
"You don't know anything about America, you others," she
said. "But you WILL know!"
"Do you think it will become the fashion to travel in
America?" asked a German girl.
"Perhaps," said Betty. "But--it isn't so much that you will go
to America. I believe it will come to you. It's like
that--America. It doesn't stand still. It goes and gets what
She laughed as she ended, and so did the other girls. But
in ten years' time, when they were young women, some of
them married, some of them court beauties, one of them
recalled this speech to another, whom she encountered in an
important house in St. Petersburg, the wife of the celebrated
diplomat who was its owner being an American woman.
Bettina Vanderpoel's education was a rather fine thing. She
herself had more to do with it than girls usually have to do
with their own training. In a few months' time those in
authority in the French school found that it was not necessary
to supervise and expurgate her. She learned with an interested
rapacity which was at once unusual and amazing. And
she evidently did not learn from books alone. Her voice, as
an organ, had been musical and full from babyhood. It began
to modulate itself and to express things most voices are
incapable of expressing. She had been so built by nature that
the carriage of her head and limbs was good to behold. She
acquired a harmony of movement which caused her to lose no
shade of grace and spirit. Her eyes were full of thought, of
speculation, and intentness.
"She thinks a great deal for one so young," was said of her
frequently by one or the other of her teachers. One finally
went further and added, "She has genius."
This was true. She had genius, but it was not specialised.
It was not genius which expressed itself through any one art. It
was a genius for life, for living herself, for aiding others to
live, for vivifying mere existence. She herself was, however,
aware only of an eagerness of temperament, a passion for seeing,
doing, and gaining knowledge. Everything interested her,
everybody was suggestive and more or less enlightening.
Her relatives thought her original in her fancies. They
called them fancies because she was so young. Fortunately for
her, there was no reason why she should not be gratified. Most
girls preferred to spend their holidays on the Continent. She
elected to return to America every alternate year. She enjoyed
the voyage and she liked the entire change of atmosphere and
"It makes me like both places more," she said to her father
when she was thirteen. "It makes me see things."
Her father discovered that she saw everything. She was
the pleasure of his life. He was attracted greatly by the
interest she exhibited in all orders of things. He saw her make
bold, ingenuous plunges into all waters, without any apparent
consciousness that the scraps of knowledge she brought to the
surface were unusual possessions for a schoolgirl. She had
young views on the politics and commerce of different countries,
as she had views on their literature. When Reuben Vanderpoel
swooped across the American continent on journeys of
thousands of miles, taking her as a companion, he discovered
that he actually placed a sort of confidence in her summing up
of men and schemes. He took her to see mines and railroads
and those who worked them, and he talked them over with her
afterward, half with a sense of humour, half with a sense of
finding comfort in her intelligent comprehension of all he said.
She enjoyed herself immensely and gained a strong picturesqueness
of character. After an American holiday she used to return to
France, Germany, or Italy, with a renewed zest of feeling for all
things romantic and antique. After a few years in the French
convent she asked that she might be sent to Germany.
"I am gradually changing into a French girl," she wrote
to her father. "One morning I found I was thinking it
would be nice to go into a convent, and another day I almost
entirely agreed with one of the girls who was declaiming
against her brother who had fallen in love with a Californian.
You had better take me away and send me to Germany.
Reuben Vanderpoel laughed. He understood Betty much
better than most of her relations did. He knew when seriousness
underlay her jests and his respect for her seriousness was
great. He sent her to school in Germany. During the early
years of her schooldays Betty had observed that America
appeared upon the whole to be regarded by her schoolfellows
principally as a place to which the more unfortunate among
the peasantry emigrated as steerage passengers when things
could become no worse for them in their own country. The
United States was not mentally detached from any other
portion of the huge Western Continent. Quite well-educated
persons spoke casually of individuals having "gone to America,"
as if there were no particular difference between Brazil
"I wonder if you ever saw my cousin Gaston," a French
girl once asked her as they sat at their desks. "He became
very poor through ill living. He was quite without money
and he went to America."
"To New York?" inquired Bettina.
"I am not sure. The town is called Concepcion."
"That is not in the United States," Betty answered
disdainfully. "It is in Chili."
She dragged her atlas towards her and found the place.
"See," she said. "It is thousands of miles from New York."
Her companion was a near-sighted, rather slow girl. She peered
at the map, drawing a line with her finger from New York
"Yes, they are at a great distance from one another," she
admitted, "but they are both in America."
"But not both in the United States," cried Betty. "French
girls always seem to think that North and South America
are the same, that they are both the United States."
"Yes," said the slow girl with deliberation. "We do make
odd mistakes sometimes." To which she added with entire
innocence of any ironic intention. "But you Americans, you
seem to feel the United States, your New York, to be all America.
Betty started a little and flushed. During a few minutes
of rapid reflection she sat bolt upright at her desk and looked
straight before her. Her mentality was of the order which is
capable of making discoveries concerning itself as well as
concerning others. She had never thought of this view of the
matter before, but it was quite true. To passionate young
patriots such as herself at least, that portion of the map
covered by the United States was America. She suddenly saw also
that to her New York had been America. Fifth Avenue
Broadway, Central Park, even Tiffany's had been "America."
She laughed and reddened a shade as she put the atlas aside
having recorded a new idea. She had found out that it was
not only Europeans who were local, which was a discovery of
some importance to her fervid youth.
Because she thought so often of Rosalie, her attention was,
during the passing years, naturally attracted by the many
things she heard of such marriages as were made by Americans
with men of other countries than their own. She discovered
that notwithstanding certain commercial views of matrimony,
all foreigners who united themselves with American heiresses
were not the entire brutes primitive prejudice might lead one
to imagine. There were rather one-sided alliances which proved
themselves far from happy. The Cousin Gaston, for instance,
brought home a bride whose fortune rebuilt and refurnished
his dilapidated chateau and who ended by making of him a
well-behaved and cheery country gentleman not at all to be
despised in his amiable, if light-minded good nature and
good spirits. His wife, fortunately, was not a young woman
who yearned for sentiment. She was a nice-tempered, practical
American girl, who adored French country life and
knew how to amuse and manage her husband. It was a genial
sort of menage and yet though this was an undeniable fact,
Bettina observed that when the union was spoken of it was
always referred to with a certain tone which conveyed that
though one did not exactly complain of its having been
undesirable, it was not quite what Gaston might have expected.
His wife had money and was good-natured, but there were
limitations to one's appreciation of a marriage in which
husband and wife were not on the same plane.
"She is an excellent person, and it has been good for Gaston,"
said Bettina's friend. "We like her, but she is not--she is
not----" She paused there, evidently seeing that the remark was
unlucky. Bettina, who was still in short frocks, took her up.
"What is she not?" she asked.
"Ah!--it is difficult to explain--to Americans. It is really
not exactly a fault. But she is not of his world."
"But if he does not like that," said Bettina coolly, "why did
he let her buy him and pay for him?"
It was young and brutal, but there were times when the
business perspicuity of the first Reuben Vanderpoel, combining
with the fiery, wounded spirit of his young descendant, rendered
Bettina brutal. She saw certain unadorned facts with
unsparing young eyes and wanted to state them. After her
frocks were lengthened, she learned how to state them with
more fineness of phrase, but even then she was sometimes still
In this case her companion, who was not fiery of temperament,
only coloured slightly.
"It was not quite that," she answered. "Gaston really is fond of
her. She amuses him, and he says she is far cleverer than he
But there were unions less satisfactory, and Bettina had
opportunities to reflect upon these also. The English and
Continental papers did not give enthusiastic, detailed
descriptions of the marriages New York journals dwelt upon with
such delight. They were passed over with a paragraph.
When Betty heard them spoken of in France, Germany or
Italy, she observed that they were not, as a rule, spoken of
respectfully. It seemed to her that the bridegrooms were, in
conversation, treated by their equals with scant respect. It
appeared that there had always been some extremely practical
reason for the passion which had led them to the altar.
One generally gathered that they or their estates were very
much out at elbow, and frequently their characters were not
considered admirable by their relatives and acquaintances.
Some had been rather cold shouldered in certain capitals on
account of embarrassing little, or big, stories. Some had spent
their patrimonies in riotous living. Those who had merely
begun by coming into impoverished estates, and had later
attenuated their resources by comparatively decent follies, were
of the more desirable order. By the time she was nineteen,
Bettina had felt the blood surge in her veins more than once
when she heard some comments on alliances over which she
had seen her compatriots glow with affectionate delight.
"It was time Ludlow married some girl with money," she
heard said of one such union. "He had been playing the fool
ever since he came into the estate. Horses and a lot of stupid
women. He had come some awful croppers during the last
ten years. Good-enough looking girl, they tell me--the
American he has married--tremendous lot of money. Couldn't
have picked it up on this side. English young women of
fortune are not looking for that kind of thing. Poor old Billy
wasn't good enough.'
Bettina told the story to her father when they next met.
She had grown into a tall young creature by this time. Her
low, full voice was like a bell and was capable of ringing forth
some fine, mellow tones of irony
"And in America we are pleased," she said, "and flatter
ourselves that we are receiving the proper tribute of adoration
of our American wit and beauty. We plume ourselves on
"No, Betty," said her father, and his reflective deliberation
had meaning. "There are a lot of us who don't plume ourselves
particularly in these days. We are not as innocent as
we were when this sort of thing began. We are not as innocent
as we were when Rosy was married." And he sighed and
rubbed his forehead with the handle of his pen. "Not as
innocent as we were when Rosy was married," he repeated.
Bettina went to him and slid her fine young arm round his
neck. It was a long, slim, round arm with a wonderful power
to caress in its curves. She kissed Vanderpoel's lined cheek.
"Have you had time to think much about Rosy?" she said.
"I've not had time, but I've done it," he answered.
"Anything that hurts your mother hurts me. Sometimes she begins
to cry in her sleep, and when I wake her she tells me she has
been dreaming that she has seen Rosy."
"I have had time to think of her," said Bettina. "I have
heard so much of these things. I was at school in Germany
when Annie Butterfield and Baron von Steindahl were married.
I heard it talked about there, and then my mother sent
me some American papers."
She laughed a little, and for a moment her laugh did not
sound like a girl's.
"Well, it's turned out badly enough," her father commented.
"The papers had plenty to say about it later. There wasn't
much he was too good to do to his wife, apparently."
"There was nothing too bad for him to do before he had
a wife," said Bettina. "He was black. It was an insolence
that he should have dared to speak to Annie Butterfield.
Somebody ought to have beaten him."
"He beat her instead."
"Yes, and I think his family thought it quite natural.
They said that she was so vulgar and American that she
exasperated Frederick beyond endurance. She was not geboren,
that was it." She laughed her severe little laugh again.
"Perhaps we shall get tired in time," she added. "I think
we are learning. If it is made a matter of business quite open
and aboveboard, it will be fair. You know, father, you always
said that I was businesslike."
There was interested curiosity in Vanderpoel's steady look
at her. There were times when he felt that Betty's summing
up of things was well worth listening to. He saw that now she
was in one of her moods when it would pay one to hear her out.
She held her chin up a little, and her face took on a fine
stillness at once sweet and unrelenting. She was very good to
look at in such moments.
"Yes," he answered, "you have a particularly level head
for a girl."
"Well," she went on. "What I see is that these things are
not business, and they ought to be. If a man comes to a rich
American girl and says, `I and my title are for sale. Will you
buy us?' If the girl is--is that kind of a girl and wants that
kind of man, she can look them both over and say, `Yes, I will
buy you,' and it can be arranged. He will not return the
money if he is unsatisfactory, but she cannot complain that she
has been deceived. She can only complain of that when he
pretends that he asks her to marry him because he wants her for
his wife, because he would want her for his wife if she were as
poor as himself. Let it be understood that he is property for
sale, let her make sure that he is the kind of property she wants
to buy. Then, if, when they are married, he is brutal or
impudent, or his people are brutal or impudent, she can say, `I
will forfeit the purchase money, but I will not forfeit myself.
I will not stay with you.' "
"They would not like to hear you say that, Betty," said her
father, rubbing his chin reflectively.
"No," she answered. "Neither the girl nor the man would
like it, and it is their business, not mine. But it is practical
and would prevent silly mistakes. It would prevent the girls
being laughed at. It is when they are flattered by the choice
made of them that they are laughed at. No one can sneer at a
man or woman for buying what they think they want, and
throwing it aside if it turns out a bad bargain."
She had seated herself near her father. She rested her elbow
slightly on the table and her chin in the hollow of her hand.
She was a beautiful young creature. She had a soft curving
mouth, and a soft curving cheek which was warm rose. Taken
in conjunction with those young charms, her next words had
an air of incongruity.
"You think I am hard," she said. "When I think of these
things I am hard--as hard as nails. That is an Americanism,
but it is a good expression. I am angry for America. If we
are sordid and undignified, let us get what we pay for and make
the others acknowledge that we have paid."
She did not smile, nor did her father. Mr. Vanderpoel, on
the contrary, sighed. He had a dreary suspicion that Rosy, at
least, had not received what she had paid for, and he knew she
had not been in the least aware that she had paid or that she
was expected to do so. Several times during the last few years
he had thought that if he had not been so hard worked, if he
had had time, he would have seriously investigated the case of
Rosy. But who is not aware that the profession of
multimillionaire does not allow of any swerving from duty or of
any interests requiring leisure?
"I wonder, Betty," he said quite deliberately, "if you know
how handsome you are?"
"Yes," answered Bettina. "I think so. And I am tall. It
is the fashion to be tall now. It was Early Victorian to be
little. The Queen brought in the `dear little woman,' and
now the type has gone out."
"They will come to look at you pretty soon," said
Vanderpoel. "What shall you say then?"
"I?" said Bettina, and her voice sounded particularly low
and mellow. "I have a little monomania, father. Some
people have a monomania for one thing and some for another.
Mine is for NOT taking a bargain from the ducal remnant counter."
AN UNFAIR ENDOWMENT
To Bettina Vanderpoel had been given, to an extraordinary
extent, the extraordinary thing which is called beauty--which
is a thing entirely set apart from mere good looks or prettiness.
This thing is extraordinary because, if statistics were taken,
the result would probably be the discovery that not three human
beings in a million really possess it. That it should be
bestowed at all--since it is so rare--seems as unfair a thing as
appears to the mere mortal mind the bestowal of unbounded wealth,
since it quite as inevitably places the life of its owner upon an
abnormal plane. There are millions of pretty women, and
billions of personable men, but the man or woman of entire
physical beauty may cross one's pathway only once in a life-
time--or not at all. In the latter case it is natural to doubt
the absolute truth of the rumours that the thing exists. The
abnormal creature seems a mere freak of nature and may
chance to be angel, criminal, total insipidity, virago or
enchanter, but let such an one enter a room or appear in the
street, and heads must turn, eyes light and follow, souls yearn
or envy, or sink under the discouragement of comparison. With
the complete harmony and perfect balance of the singular thing,
it would be folly for the rest of the world to compete. A
human being who had lived in poverty for half a lifetime,
might, if suddenly endowed with limitless fortune, retain, to
a certain extent, balance of mind; but the same creature having
lived the same number of years a wholly unlovely thing, suddenly
awakening to the possession of entire physical beauty,
might find the strain upon pure sanity greater and the balance
less easy to preserve. The relief from the conscious or
unconscious tension bred by the sense of imperfection, the calm
surety of the fearlessness of meeting in any eye a look not
lighted by pleasure, would be less normal than the knowledge
that no wish need remain unfulfilled, no fancy ungratified.
Even at sixteen Betty was a long-limbed young nymph whose
small head, set high on a fine slim column of throat, might well
have been crowned with the garland of some goddess of health
and the joy of life. She was light and swift, and being a
creature of long lines and tender curves, there was pleasure in
the mere seeing her move. The cut of her spirited lip, and
delicate nostril, made for a profile at which one turned to look
more than once, despite one's self. Her hair was soft and black
and repeated its colour in the extravagant lashes of her
childhood, which made mysterious the changeful dense blue of her
eyes. They were eyes with laughter in them and pride, and a
suggestion of many deep things yet unstirred. She was rather
unusually tall, and her body had the suppleness of a young
bamboo. The deep corners of her red mouth curled generously,
and the chin, melting into the fine line of the lovely throat,
was at once strong and soft and lovely. She was a creature of
harmony, warm richness of colour, and brilliantly alluring
When her school days were over she returned to New York
and gave herself into her mother's hands. Her mother's kindness
of heart and sweet-tempered lovingness were touching
things to Bettina. In the midst of her millions Mrs. Vanderpoel
was wholly unworldly. Bettina knew that she felt a perpetual
homesickness when she allowed herself to think of the daughter
who seemed lost to her, and the girl's realisation of this caused
her to wish to be especially affectionate and amenable. She was
glad that she was tall and beautiful, not merely because such
physical gifts added to the colour and agreeableness of life,
but because hers gave comfort and happiness to
her mother. To Mrs. Vanderpoel, to introduce to the world
the loveliest debutante of many years was to be launched into
a new future. To concern one's self about her exquisite
wardrobe was to have an enlivening occupation. To see her
surrounded, to watch eyes as they followed her, to hear her
praised, was to feel something of the happiness she had known
in those younger days when New York had been less advanced
in its news and methods, and slim little blonde Rosalie had
come out in white tulle and waltzed like a fairy with a
"I wonder what Rosy looks like now," the poor woman said
involuntarily one day. Bettina was not a fairy. When her
mother uttered her exclamation Bettina was on the point of
going out, and as she stood near her, wrapped in splendid furs,
she had the air of a Russian princess.
"She could not have worn the things you do, Betty, said
the affectionate maternal creature. "She was such a little,
slight thing. But she was very pretty. I wonder if twelve
years have changed her much?"
Betty turned towards her rather suddenly.
"Mother," she said, "sometime, before very long, I am going
"To see!" exclaimed Mrs. Vanderpoel. "To see Rosy!"
"Yes," Betty answered. "I have a plan. I have never
told you of it, but I have been thinking over it ever since I
was fifteen years old."
She went to her mother and kissed her. She wore a
becoming but resolute expression.
"We will not talk about it now," she said. "There are
some things I must find out."
When she had left the room, which she did almost immediately,
Mrs. Vanderpoel sat down and cried. She nearly always
shed a few tears when anyone touched upon the subject of
Rosy. On her desk were some photographs. One was of
Rosy as a little girl with long hair, one was of Lady Anstruthers
in her wedding dress, and one was of Sir Nigel.
"I never felt as if I quite liked him," she said, looking at
this last, "but I suppose she does, or she would not be so
happy that she could forget her mother and sister.
There was another picture she looked at. Rosalie had sent
it with the letter she wrote to her father after he had forwarded
the money she asked for. It was a little study in water
colours of the head of her boy. It was nothing but a head, the
shoulders being fancifully draped, but the face was a peculiar
one. It was over-mature, and unlovely, but for a mouth at
once pathetic and sweet.
"He is not a pretty child," sighed Mrs. Vanderpoel. "I
should have thought Rosy would have had pretty babies.
Ughtred is more like his father than his mother."
She spoke to her husband later, of what Betty had said.
"What do you think she has in her mind, Reuben?" she asked.
"What Betty has in her mind is usually good sense," was
his response. "She will begin to talk to me about it presently.
I shall not ask questions yet. She is probably thinking: things
She was, in truth, thinking things over, as she had been
doing for some time. She had asked questions on several
occasions of English people she had met abroad. But a school-
girl cannot ask many questions, and though she had once met
someone who knew Sir Nigel Anstruthers, it was a person who
did not know him well, for the reason that she had not desired
to increase her slight acquaintance. This lady was the aunt
of one of Bettina's fellow pupils, and she was not aware of
the girl's relationship to Sir Nigel. What Betty gathered
was that her brother-in-law was regarded as a decidedly bad
lot, that since his marriage to some American girl he had
seemed to have money which he spent in riotous living, and that
the wife, who was said to be a silly creature, was kept in the
country, either because her husband did not want her in London,
or because she preferred to stay at Stornham. About
the wife no one appeared to know anything, in fact.
"She is rather a fool, I believe, and Sir Nigel Anstruthers
is the kind of man a simpleton would be obliged to submit to,"
Bettina had heard the lady say.
Her own reflections upon these comments had led her
through various paths of thought. She could recall Rosalie's
girlhood, and what she herself, as an unconsciously observing
child, had known of her character. She remembered the simple
impressionability of her mind. She had been the most amenable
little creature in the world. Her yielding amiability
could always be counted upon as a factor by the calculating;
sweet-tempered to weakness, she could be beguiled or
distressed into any course the desires of others dictated. An
ill-tempered or self-pitying person could alter any line of
conduct she herself wished to pursue.
"She was neither clever nor strong-minded," Betty said to
herself. " A man like Sir Nigel Anstruthers could make what
he chose of her. I wonder what he has done to her?"
Of one thing she thought she was sure. This was that
Rosalie's aloofness from her family was the result of his design.
She comprehended, in her maturer years, the dislike of her
childhood. She remembered a certain look in his face which
she had detested. She had not known then that it was the
look of a rather clever brute, who was malignant, but she
"He used to hate us all," she said to herself. "He did not
mean to know us when he had taken Rosalie away, and he did
not intend that she should know us."
She had heard rumours of cases somewhat parallel, cases in
which girls' lives had become swamped in those of their
husbands, and their husbands' families. And she had also
heard unpleasant details of the means employed to reach the
desired results. Annie Butterfield's husband had forbidden her
to correspond with her American relatives. He had argued
that such correspondence was disturbing to her mind, and to
the domestic duties which should be every decent woman's
religion. One of the occasions of his beating her had been in
consequence of his finding her writing to her mother a letter
blotted with tears. Husbands frequently objected to their
wives' relatives, but there was a special order of European
husband who opposed violently any intimacy with American
relations on the practical ground that their views of a wife's
position, with regard to her husband, were of a revolutionary
Mrs. Vanderpoel had in her possession every letter Rosalie
or her husband had ever written. Bettina asked to be allowed
to read them, and one morning seated herself in her own room
before a blazing fire, with the collection on a table at her
side. She read them in order. Nigel's began as they went on.
They were all in one tone, formal, uninteresting, and requiring
no answers. There was not a suggestion of human feeling in one
"He wrote them," said Betty, "so that we could not say
that he had never written."
Rosalie's first epistles were affectionate, but timid. At the
outset she was evidently trying to conceal the fact that she
was homesick. Gradually she became briefer and more
constrained. In one she said pathetically, "I am such a bad
letter writer. I always feel as if I want to tear up what I
have written, because I never say half that is in my heart.
Mrs. Vanderpoel had kissed that letter many a time. She
was sure that a mark on the paper near this particular sentence
was where a tear had fallen. Bettina was sure of this, too, and
sat and looked at the fire for some time.
That night she went to a ball, and when she returned home,
she persuaded her mother to go to bed.
"I want to have a talk with father," she exclaimed. "I
am going to ask him something."
She went to the great man's private room, where he sat at
work, even after the hours when less seriously engaged people
come home from balls. The room he sat in was one of the
apartments newspapers had with much detail described. It
was luxuriously comfortable, and its effect was sober and rich
When Bettina came in, Vanderpoel, looking up to smile at
her in welcome, was struck by the fact that as a background
to an entering figure of tall, splendid girlhood in a ball dress
it was admirable, throwing up all its whiteness and grace and
sweep of line. He was always glad to see Betty. The rich
strength of the life radiating from her, the reality and glow of
her were good for him and had the power of detaching him from
work of which he was tired.
She smiled back at him, and, coming forward took her place
in a big armchair close to him, her lace-frilled cloak slipping
from her shoulders with a soft rustling sound which seemed to
convey her intention to stay.
"Are you too busy to be interrupted?" she asked, her
mellow voice caressing him. "I want to talk to you about
something I am going to do." She put out her hand and laid it
on his with a clinging firmness which meant strong feeling.
"At least, I am going to do it if you will help me," she ended.
"What is it, Betty?" he inquired, his usual interest in her
accentuated by her manner.
She laid her other hand on his and he clasped both with
"When the Worthingtons sail for England next month,"
she explained, "I want to go with them. Mrs. Worthington
is very kind and will be good enough to take care of me until
I reach London."
Mr. Vanderpoel moved slightly in his chair. Then their
eyes met comprehendingly. He saw what hers held.
"From there you are going to Stornham Court!" he exclaimed.
"To see Rosy," she answered, leaning a little forward. "To
"You believe that what has happened has not been her
fault?" he said. There was a look in her face which warmed
"I have always been sure that Nigel Anstruthers arranged it."
"Do you think he has been unkind to her?"
"I am going to see," she answered.
"Betty," he said, "tell me all about it."
He knew that this was no suddenly-formed plan, and he
knew it would be well worth while to hear the details of its
growth. It was so interestingly like her to have remained silent
through the process of thinking a thing out, evolving her final
idea without having disturbed him by bringing to him any
"It's a sort of confession," she answered. "Father, I have
been thinking about it for years. I said nothing because for so
long I knew I was only a child, and a child's judgment might
be worth so little. But through all those years I was learning
things and gathering evidence. When I was at school,
first in one country and then another, I used to tell myself
that I was growing up and preparing myself to do a particular
thing--to go to rescue Rosy."
"I used to guess you thought of her in a way of your own,"
Vanderpoel said, "but I did not guess you were thinking that
much. You were always a solid, loyal little thing, and there
was business capacity in your keeping your scheme to yourself.
Let us look the matter in the face. Suppose she does
not need rescuing. Suppose, after all, she is a comfortable,
fine lady and adores her husband. What then?"
"If I should find that to be true, I will behave myself very
well--as if we had expected nothing else. I will make her a
short visit and come away. Lady Cecilia Orme, whom I
knew in Florence, has asked me to stay with her in London. I
will go to her. She is a charming woman. But I must first
see Rosy--SEE her."
Mr. Vanderpoel thought the matter over during a few
moments of silence.
"You do not wish your mother to go with you?" he said presently.
"I believe it will be better that she should not," she
answered. "If there are difficulties or disappointments she
would be too unhappy."
"Yes," he said slowly, "and she could not control her
feelings. She would give the whole thing away, poor girl."
He had been looking at the carpet reflectively, and now he
looked at Bettina.
"What are you expecting to find, at the worst?" he asked
her. "The kind of thing which will need management while
it is being looked into?"
"I do not know what I am expecting to find," was her reply.
"We know absolutely nothing; but that Rosy was fond of us,
and that her marriage has seemed to make her cease to care.
She was not like that; she was not like that! Was she, father?"
"No, she wasn't," he exclaimed. The memory of her in
her short-frocked and early girlish days, a pretty, smiling,
effusive thing, given to lavish caresses and affectionate little
surprises for them all, came back to him vividly. "She was the
most affectionate girl I ever knew," he said. "She was more
affectionate than you, Betty," with a smile.
Bettina smiled in return and bent her head to put a kiss on
his hand, a warm, lovely, comprehending kiss.
"If she had been different I should not have thought so
much of the change," she said. "I believe that people are
always more or less LIKE themselves as long as they live. What
has seemed to happen has been so unlike Rosy that there must
be some reason for it."
"You think that she has been prevented from seeing us?"
"I think it so possible that I am not going to announce my
"You have a good head, Betty," her father said.
"If Sir Nigel has put obstacles in our way before, he will
do it again. I shall try to find out, when I reach London, if
Rosalie is at Stornham. When I am sure she is there, I shall
go and present myself. If Sir Nigel meets me at the park
gates and orders his gamekeepers to drive me off the premises,
we shall at least know that he has some reason for not wishing
to regard the usual social and domestic amenities. I feel rather
like a detective. It entertains me and excites me a little."
The deep blue of her eyes shone under the shadow of the
extravagant lashes as she laughed.
"Are you willing that I should go, father?" she said next.
"Yes," he answered. "I am willing to trust you, Betty, to
do things I would not trust other girls to try at. If you were
not my girl at all, if you were a man on Wall Street, I should
know you would be pretty safe to come out a little more than
even in any venture you made. You know how to keep cool."
Bettina picked up her fallen cloak and laid it over her arm.
It was made of billowy frills of Malines lace, such as only
Vanderpoels could buy. She looked down at the amazing
thing and touched up the frills with her fingers as she
"There are a good many girls who can he trusted to do
things in these days," she said. "Women have found out so
much. Perhaps it is because the heroines of novels have
informed them. Heroines and heroes always bring in the new
fashions in character. I believe it is years since a heroine
`burst into a flood of tears.' It has been discovered, really,
that nothing is to be gained by it. Whatsoever I find at
Stornham Court, I shall neither weep nor be helpless. There is
the Atlantic cable, you know. Perhaps that is one of the reasons
why heroines have changed. When they could not escape from
their persecutors except in a stage coach, and could not send
telegrams, they were more or less in everyone's hands. It is
different now. Thank you, father, you are very good to believe
ON BOARD THE "MERIDIANA"
A large transatlantic steamer lying at the wharf on a brilliant,
sunny morning just before its departure is an interesting
and suggestive object to those who are fond of following
suggestion to its end. One sometimes wonders if it is possible
that the excitement in the dock atmosphere could ever become a
thing to which one was sufficiently accustomed to be able to
regard it as among things commonplace. The rumbling and
rattling of waggons and carts, the loading and unloading of
boxes and bales, the people who are late, and the people who
are early, the faces which are excited, and the faces which are
sad, the trunks and bales, and cranes which creak and groan,
the shouts and cries, the hurry and confusion of movement,
notwithstanding that every day has seen them all for years, have
a sort of perennial interest to the looker-on.
This is, perhaps, more especially the case when the looker-on
is to be a passenger on the outgoing ship; and the exhilaration
of his point of view may greatly depend upon the reason for his
voyage and the class by which he travels. Gaiety and youth
usually appear upon the promenade deck, having taken saloon
passage. Dulness, commerce, and eld mingling with them, it
is true, but with a discretion which does not seem to dominate.
Second-class passengers wear a more practical aspect, and youth
among them is rarer and more grave. People who must travel
second and third class make voyages for utilitarian reasons.
Their object is usually to better themselves in one way or
another. When they are going from Liverpool to New York,
it is usually to enter upon new efforts and new labours. When
they are returning from New York to Liverpool, it is often
because the new life has proved less to be depended upon than
the old, and they are bearing back with them bitterness of
soul and discouragement of spirit.
On the brilliant spring morning when the huge liner
Meridiana was to sail for England a young man, who was a
second-class passenger, leaned upon the ship's rail and watched
the turmoil on the wharf with a detached and not at all buoyant
His air was detached because he had other things in his
mind than those merely passing before him, and he was not
buoyant because they were not cheerful or encouraging subjects
for reflection. He was a big young man, well hung together,
and carrying himself well; his face was square-jawed
and rugged, and he had dark red hair restrained by its close
cut from waving strongly on his forehead. His eyes were
red brown, and a few dark freckles marked his clear skin. He
was of the order of man one looks at twice, having looked at
him once, though one does not in the least know why, unless
one finally reaches some degree of intimacy.
He watched the vehicles, heavy and light, roll into the big
shed-like building and deposit their freight; he heard the voices
and caught the sentences of instruction and comment; he saw
boxes and bales hauled from the dock side to the deck and
swung below with the rattling of machinery and chains. But
these formed merely a noisy background to his mood, which
was self-centred and gloomy. He was one of those who go
back to their native land knowing themselves conquered. He
had left England two years before, feeling obstinately determined
to accomplish a certain difficult thing, but forces of
nature combining with the circumstances of previous education
and living had beaten him. He had lost two years and all the
money he had ventured. He was going back to the place he
had come from, and he was carrying with him a sense of having
been used hardly by fortune, and in a way he had not deserved.
He had gone out to the West with the intention of working
hard and using his hands as well as his brains; he had not
been squeamish; he had, in fact, laboured like a ploughman; and
to be obliged to give in had been galling and bitter. There are
human beings into whose consciousness of themselves the
possibility of being beaten does not enter. This man was one of
The ship was of the huge and luxuriously-fitted class by
which the rich and fortunate are transported from one continent
to another. Passengers could indulge themselves in suites
of rooms and live sumptuously. As the man leaning on the
rail looked on, he saw messengers bearing baskets and boxes of
fruit and flowers with cards and notes attached, hurrying up
the gangway to deliver them to waiting stewards. These were
the farewell offerings to be placed in staterooms, or to await
their owners on the saloon tables. Salter--the second-class
passenger's name was Salter--had seen a few such offerings
before on the first crossing. But there had not been such
lavishness at Liverpool. It was the New Yorkers who were
sumptuous in such matters, as he had been told. He had also
heard casually that the passenger list on this voyage was to
record important names, the names of multi-millionaire people
who were going over for the London season.
Two stewards talking near him, earlier in the morning, had
been exulting over the probable largesse such a list would result
in at the end of the passage.
"The Worthingtons and the Hirams and the John William
Spayters," said one. "They travel all right. They know what
they want and they want a good deal, and they're willing to
pay for it."
"Yes. They're not school teachers going over to improve
their minds and contriving to cross in a big ship by economising
in everything else. Miss Vanderpoel's sailing with the
Worthingtons. She's got the best suite all to herself. She'll
bring back a duke or one of those prince fellows. How many
millions has Vanderpoel?"
"How many millions. How many hundred millions!" said
his companion, gloating cheerfully over the vastness of unknown
possibilities. "I've crossed with Miss Vanderpoel often, two
or three times when she was in short frocks. She's the kind
of girl you read about. And she's got money enough to buy
in half a dozen princes."
"There are New Yorkers who won't like it if she does,"
returned the other. "There's been too much money going out
of the country. Her suite is crammed full of Jack roses, now,
and there are boxes waiting outside."
Salter moved away and heard no more. He moved away, in
fact, because he was conscious that to a man in his case, this
dwelling upon millions, this plethora of wealth, was a little
revolting. He had walked down Broadway and seen the price
of Jacqueminot roses, and he was not soothed or allured at this
particular moment by the picture of a girl whose half-dozen
cabins were crowded with them.
"Oh, the devil!" he said. "It sounds vulgar." And he
walked up and down fast, squaring his shoulders, with his
hands in the pockets of his rough, well-worn coat. He had
seen in England something of the American young woman
with millionaire relatives. He had been scarcely more than a
boy when the American flood first began to rise. He had been
old enough, however, to hear people talk. As he had grown
older, Salter had observed its advance. Englishmen had married
American beauties. American fortunes had built up English
houses, which otherwise threatened to fall into decay. Then
the American faculty of adaptability came into play. Anglo-
American wives became sometimes more English than their
husbands. They proceeded to Anglicise their relations, their
relations' clothes, even, in time, their speech. They carried or
sent English conventions to the States, their brothers ordered
their clothes from West End tailors, their sisters began to wear
walking dresses, to play out-of-door games and take active
exercise. Their mothers tentatively took houses in London or
Paris, there came a period when their fathers or uncles, serious
or anxious business men, the most unsporting of human beings,
rented castles or manors with huge moors and covers attached
and entertained large parties of shooters or fishers who could
be lured to any quarter by the promise of the particular form
of slaughter for which they burned.
"Sheer American business perspicacity, that," said Salter, as
he marched up and down, thinking of a particular case of this
order. "There's something admirable in the practical way they
make for what they want. They want to amalgamate with
English people, not for their own sake, but because their women
like it, and so they offer the men thousands of acres full of
things to kill. They can get them by paying for them, and they
know how to pay." He laughed a little, lifting his square
shoulders. "Balthamor's six thousand acres of grouse moor
and Elsty's salmon fishing are rented by the Chicago man. He
doesn't care twopence for them, and does not know a pheasant
from a caper-cailzie, but his wife wants to know men who do."
It must be confessed that Salter was of the English who
were not pleased with the American Invasion. In some of his
views of the matter he was a little prehistoric and savage, but
the modern side of his character was too intelligent to lack
reason. He was by no means entirely modern, however; a large
part of his nature belonged to the age in which men had
fought fiercely for what they wanted to get or keep, and when
the amenities of commerce had not become powerful factors in
"They're not a bad lot," he was thinking at this moment.
"They are rather fine in a way. They are clever and powerful
and interesting--more so than they know themselves. But it
is all commerce. They don't come and fight with us and get
possession of us by force. They come and buy us. They buy
our land and our homes, and our landowners, for that matter--
when they don't buy them, they send their women to marry
them, confound it! "
He took half a dozen more strides and lifted his shoulders
"Beggarly lot as I am," he said, "unlikely as it seems that
I can marry at all, I'm hanged if I don't marry an Englishwoman,
if I give my life to a woman at all."
But, in fact, he was of the opinion that he should never give
his life to any woman, and this was because he was, at this
period, also of the opinion that there was small prospect of
its ever being worth the giving or taking. It had been one of
those lives which begin untowardly and are ruled by unfair
He had a particularly well-cut and expressive mouth, and, as
he went back to the ship's side and leaned on his folded arms
on the rail again, its curves concealed a good deal of strong
The wharf was busier than before. In less than half an
hour the ship was to sail. The bustle and confusion had
increased. There were people hurrying about looking for friends,
and there were people scribbling off excited farewell messages
at the telegraph office. The situation was working up to its
climax. An observing looker-on might catch glimpses of emotional
scenes. Many of the passengers were already on board, parties of
them accompanied by their friends were making their
way up the gangplank.
Salter had just been watching a luxuriously cared-for little
invalid woman being carried on deck in a reclining chair, when
his attention was attracted by the sound of trampling hoofs
and rolling wheels. Two noticeably big and smart carriages
had driven up to the stopping-place for vehicles. They were
gorgeously of the latest mode, and their tall, satin-skinned
horses jangled silver chains and stepped up to their noses.
"Here come the Worthingtons, whosoever they may be,"
thought Salter. "The fine up-standing young woman is, no
doubt, the multi-millionairess."
The fine, up-standing young woman WAS the multi-millionairess.
Bettina walked up the gangway in the sunshine, and
the passengers upon the upper deck craned their necks to look
at her. Her carriage of her head and shoulders invariably made
people turn to look.
"My, ain't she fine-looking!" exclaimed an excited lady
beholder above. "I guess that must be Miss Vanderpoel, the
multi-millionaire's daughter. Jane told me she'd heard she was
crossing this trip."
Bettina heard her. She sometimes wondered if she was ever
pointed out, if her name was ever mentioned without the addition
of the explanatory statement that she was the multi-millionaire's
daughter. As a child she had thought it ridiculous
and tiresome, as she had grown older she had felt that only
a remarkable individuality could surmount a fact so ever present.
It was like a tremendous quality which overshadowed
"It wounds my vanity, I have no doubt," she had said to
her father. "Nobody ever sees me, they only see you and your
millions and millions of dollars."
Salter watched her pass up the gangway. The phase
through which he was living was not of the order which leads
a man to dwell upon the beautiful and inspiriting as expressed
by the female image. Success and the hopefulness which
engender warmth of soul and quickness of heart are required for
the development of such allurements. He thought of the
Vanderpoel millions as the lady on the deck had thought of them,
and in his mind somehow the girl herself appeared to express
them. The rich up-springing sweep of her abundant hair, her
height, her colouring, the remarkable shade and length of her
lashes, the full curve of her mouth, all, he told himself, looked
expensive, as if even nature herself had been given carte
blanche, and the best possible articles procured for the money.
"She moves," he thought sardonically, "as if she were
perfectly aware that she could pay for anything. An unlimited
income, no doubt, establishes in the owner the equivalent to
a sense of rank."
He changed his position for one in which he could command
a view of the promenade deck where the arriving passengers
were gradually appearing. He did this from the idle and
careless curiosity which, though it is not a matter of absolute
interest, does not object to being entertained by passing
objects. He saw the Worthington party reappear. It struck
Salter that they looked not so much like persons coming on board
a ship, as like people who were returning to a hotel to which
they were accustomed, and which was also accustomed to them. He
argued that they had probably crossed the Atlantic innumerable
times in this particular steamer. The deck stewards knew them
and made obeisance with empressement. Miss Vanderpoel
nodded to the steward Salter had heard discussing her. She
gave him a smile of recognition and paused a moment to speak
to him. Salter saw her sweep the deck with her glance and
then designate a sequestered corner, such as the experienced
voyager would recognise as being desirably sheltered. She was
evidently giving an order concerning the placing of her deck
chair, which was presently brought. An elegantly neat and
decorous person in black, who was evidently her maid, appeared
later, followed by a steward who carried cushions and sumptuous
fur rugs. These being arranged, a delightful corner was
left alluringly prepared. Miss Vanderpoel, after her
instructions to the deck steward, had joined her party and seemed
to be awaiting some arrival anxiously.
"She knows how to do herself well," Salter commented, "and she
realises that forethought is a practical factor. Millions have
been productive of composure. It is not unnatural, either."
It was but a short time later that the warning bell was
rung. Stewards passed through the crowds calling out, "All
ashore, if you please--all ashore." Final embraces were in
order on all sides. People shook hands with fervour and
laughed a little nervously. Women kissed each other and
poured forth hurried messages to be delivered on the other side
of the Atlantic. Having kissed and parted, some of them rushed
back and indulged in little clutches again. Notwithstanding
that the tide of humanity surges across the Atlantic almost as
regularly as the daily tide surges in on its shores, a wave of
emotion sweeps through every ship at such partings.
Salter stood on deck and watched the crowd dispersing.
Some of the people were laughing and some had red eyes.
Groups collected on the wharf and tried to say still more last
words to their friends crowding against the rail.
The Worthingtons kept their places and were still looking
out, by this time disappointedly. It seemed that the friend or
friends they expected were not coming. Salter saw that Miss
Vanderpoel looked more disappointed than the rest. She leaned
forward and strained her eyes to see. Just at the last moment
there was the sound of trampling horses and rolling wheels
again. From the arriving carriage descended hastily an elderly
woman, who lifted out a little boy excited almost to tears. He
was a dear, chubby little person in flapping sailor trousers, and
he carried a splendidly-caparisoned toy donkey in his arms.
Salter could not help feeling slightly excited himself as they
rushed forward. He wondered if they were passengers who
would be left behind.
They were not passengers, but the arrivals Miss Vanderpoel
had been expecting so ardently. They had come to say
good-bye to her and were too late for that, at least, as the
gangway was just about to be withdrawn.