Part 4 out of 7
tales of his tips; cabmen fought for the privilege of transporting him;
and the hangers-on of rich young men picked pieces of lint assiduously
and solicitously from his coat.
One of his favourite resorts was the sumptuous gambling-house in
Forty-fourth Street. The man who slides back the panel of the stout
oaken door early learned to welcome him through the slit, barred by its
grill of wrought iron. The attendant who took his coat and hat, the
waiter who took his order for food, and the croupier who took his
money, were all gladdened by his coming; for his gratuities were as
large when he lost as when he won Even the reserved proprietor,
accustomed as he was to a wealthy and careless clientele, treated
Percival with marked consideration after a night when the young man
persuaded him to withdraw the limit at roulette, and spent a large sum
in testing a system for breaking the wheel, given to him by a friend
lately returned from Monte Carlo.
"I think, really the fellow who gave me that system is an ass," he
said, lighting a cigarette when the play was done. "Now I'm going down
and demolish eight dollars' worth of food and drink--you won't be all
to the good on that, you know."
His host decided that a young man who was hungry, after losing a
hundred thousand dollars in five hours' play, was a person to be not
And, though he loved the rhythmic whir and the ensuing rattle of the
little ivory ball at the roulette wheel, he did not disdain the quieter
faro, playing that dignified game exclusively with the chocolate-coloured
chips, which cost a thousand dollars a stack. Sometimes he won; but not
often enough to disturb his host's belief that there is less of chance in
his business than in any other known to the captains of industry.
There were, too, sociable games of poker, played with Garmer, of the
Lead Trust, Burman, the intrepid young wheat operator from Chicago, and
half a dozen other well-moneyed spirits; games in which the limit, to
use the Chicagoan's phrase, was "the beautiful but lofty North Star."
At these games he lost even more regularly than at those where, with
the exception of a trifling percentage, he was solely at the mercy of
chance. But he was a joyous loser, endearing himself to the other
players; to Garmer, whom Burman habitually accused of being "closer
than a warm night," as well as to the open-handed son of the
chewing-gum magnate, who had been raised abroad and who protested
nightly that there was an element of beastly American commercialism in the
game. When Percival was by some chance absent from a sitting, the others
calculated the precise sum he probably would have lost and humourously
acquainted him with the amount by telegraph next morning,--it was apt to
be nine hundred and some odd dollars,--requesting that he cover by check
at his early convenience.
Yet the diversion was not all gambling. There were Jong sessions at
all-night restaurants where the element of chance in his favour,
inconspicuous elsewhere, was wholly eliminated; suppers for hungry
Thespians and thirsty parasites, protracted with song and talk until
the gas-flames grew pale yellow, and the cabmen, when the party went
out into the wan light, would be low-voiced, confidential, and
suggestive in their approaches.
Broadway would be weirdly quiet at such times, save for the occasional
frenzied clatter of a hurrying milk-wagon. Even the cars seemed to move
with less sound than by day, and the early-rising workers inside,
holding dinner-pails and lunch-baskets, were subdued and silent, yet
strangely observing, as if the hour were one in which the vision was
made clear to appraise the values of life justly. To the north, whence
the cars bulked silently, would be an awakening sky of such tender
beauty that the revellers often paid it the tribute of a moment's
"Pure turquoise," one would declare.
"With just a dash of orange bitters in it," another might add.
And then perhaps they burst into song under the spell, blending their
voices into what the professional gentlemen termed "barber-shop
harmonies," until a policeman would saunter across the street,
pretending, however, that he was not aware of them.
Then perhaps a ride toward the beautiful northern sky would be
proposed, whereupon three or four hansom or coupe loads would begin a
journey that wound up through Central Park toward the northern light,
but which never attained a point remoter than some suburban road-house,
where sleepy cooks and bartenders would have to be routed out to
collaborate toward breakfast.
Oftener the party fell away into straggling groups with notions for
sleep, chanting at last, perhaps:
"While beer brings gladness, don't forget That water only makes you
Percival would walk to the hotel, sobered and perhaps made a little
reflective by the unwonted quiet. But they were pleasant, careless
folk, he concluded always. They permitted him to spend his money, but
he was quite sure they would spend it as freely as he if they had it.
More than one appreciative soubrette, met under such circumstances, was
subsequently enabled to laud the sureness of his taste in jewels,--he
cared little for anything but large diamonds, it transpired. It was a
feeling tribute paid to his munificence by one of these in converse
with a sister artist, who had yet to meet him:
"Say, Myrtle, on the dead, he spends money just like a young Jew trying
to be white!"
Under this more or less happy surface of diversion, however, was an
experience decidedly less felicitous. He knew he should not, must not,
hold Avice Milbrey in his mind; yet when he tried to put her out it
At first he had plumed himself upon his lucky escape that night, when
he would have declared his love to her. To have married a girl who
cared only for his money; that would have been dire enough. But to
marry a girl like _that!_ He had been lucky indeed!
Yet, as the weeks went by the shock of the scene wore off. The scene
itself remained clear, with the grinning grotesquerie of the
Jack-o'-lanterns lighting it and mocking his simplicity. But the first
sharp physical hurt had healed. He was forced to admit that the girl
still had power to trouble him. At times his strained nerves would
relax to no other device than the picturing of her as his own. Exactly
in the measure that he indulged this would his pride smart. With a
budding gift for negation he could imagine her caring for nothing but
his money; and there was that other picture, swift and awful, a
pantomime in shadow, with the leering yellow faces above it.
In the far night, when he awoke to sudden and hungry aloneness, he
would let his arms feel their hunger for her. The vision of her would
be flowers and music and sunlight and time and all things perfect to
mystify and delight, to satisfy and--greatest of all boons--to
unsatisfy. The thought of her became a rest-house for all weariness; a
haven where he was free to choose his nook and lie down away from all
that was not her, which was all that was not beautiful. He would go
back to seek the lost sweetness of their first meeting; to mount the
poor dead belief that she would care for him--that he could make her
care for him--and endow the thing with artificial life, trying to
capture the faint breath of it; but the memory was always fleeting,
attenuated, like the spirit of the memory of a perfume that had been
elusive at best. And always, to banish what joy even this poor device
might bring, came the more vivid vision of the brutal, sordid facts. He
forced himself to face them regularly as a penance and a corrective.
They came before him with especial clearness when he met her from time
to time during the winter. He watched her in talk with others, noting
the contradiction in her that she would at one moment appear knowing
and masterful, with depths of reserve that the other people neither
fathomed nor knew of; and at another moment frankly girlish, with an
appealing feminine helplessness which is woman's greatest strength,
coercing every strong masculine instinct.
When the reserve showed in her, he became afraid. What was she not
capable of? In the other mood, frankly appealing, she drew him
mightily, so that he abandoned himself for the moment, responding to
her fresh exulting youth, longing to take her, to give her things, to
make her laugh, to enfold and protect her, to tell her secrets, to
feather her cheek with the softest kiss, to be the child-mate of her.
Toward him, directly, when they met she would sometimes be glacial and
forbidding, sometimes uninterestedly frank, as if they were but the
best of commonplace friends. Yet sometimes she made him feel that she,
too, threw herself heartily to rest in the thought of their loving, and
cheated herself, as he did, with dreams of comradeship. She left him at
these times with the feeling that they were deaf, dumb, and blind to
each other; that if some means of communication could be devised,
something surer than the invisible play of secret longings, all might
yet be well. They talked as the people about them talked, words that
meant nothing to either, and if there were mute questionings, naked
appeals, unuttered declarations, they were only such as language serves
to divert attention from. Speech, doubtless, has its uses as well as
its abuses. Politics, for example, would be less entertaining without
it. But in matters of the heart, certain it is that there would be
fewer misunderstandings if it were forbidden between the couple under
the penalty of immediate separation. In this affair real meanings are
rarely conveyed except by silences. Words are not more than tasteless
drapery to obscure their lines. The silence of lovers is the plainest
of all speech, warning, disconcerting indeed, by its very bluntness,
any but the truly mated. An hour's silence with these two people by
themselves might have worked wonders.
Another diversion of Percival's during this somewhat feverish winter
was Mrs. Akemit. Not only was she a woman of finished and expert
daintiness in dress and manner and surroundings, but she soothed,
flattered, and stimulated him. With the wisdom of her thirty-two years,
devoted chiefly to a study of his species, she took care never to be
exigent. She had the way of referring to herself as "poor little me,"
yet she never made demands or allowed him to feel that she expected
anything from him in the way of allegiance.
Mrs. Akemit was not only like St. Paul, "all things to all men," but
she had gone a step beyond that excellent theologue. She could be all
things to one man. She was light-heartedly frivolous, soberly
reflective, shallow, profound, cynical or naive, ingenuous, or
inscrutable. She prized dearly the ecclesiastical background provided
by her uncle, the bishop, and had him to dine with the same unerring
sense of artistry that led her to select swiftly the becoming shade of
sofa-cushion to put her blond head back upon.
The good bishop believed she had jeopardised her soul with divorce. He
feared now she meant to lose it irrevocably through remarriage. As a
foil to his austerity, therefore, she would be audaciously gay in his
"Hell," she said to him one evening, "is given up _so_ reluctantly by
those who don't expect to go there." And while the bishop frowned into
his salad she invited Percival to drink with her in the manner of a
woman who is mad to invite perdition. If the good man could have beheld
her before a background of frivolity he might have suffered less
anxiety. For there her sense of contrast-values led her to be grave and
deep, to express distaste for society with its hollowness, and to
expose timidly the cruel scars on a soul meant for higher things.
Many afternoons Percival drank tea with her in the little red
drawing-room of her dainty apartment up the avenue. Here in the half
light which she had preferred since thirty, in a soft corner with which
she harmonised faultlessly, and where the blaze from the open fire
coloured her animated face just enough, she talked him usually into the
glow of a high conceit with himself. When she dwelt upon the
shortcomings of man, she did it with the air of frankly presuming him
to be different from all others, one who could sympathise with her
through knowing the frailties of his sex, yet one immeasurably superior
to them. When he was led to talk of himself--of whom, it seemed, she
could never learn enough--he at once came to take high views of
himself: to gaze, through her tactful prompting, with a gentle, purring
appreciation upon the manifest spectacle of his own worth.
Sometimes, away from her, he wondered how she did it. Sometimes, in her
very presence, his sense of humour became alert and suspicious. Part of
the time he decided her to be a charming woman, with a depth and
quality of sweetness unguessed by the world. The rest of the time he
remembered a saying about alfalfa made by Uncle Peter: "It's an
innocent lookin', triflin' vegetable, but its roots go right down into
the ground a hundred feet."
"My dear," Mrs. Akemit had once confided to an intimate in an hour of
_negligee_, "to meet a man, any man, from a red-cheeked butcher boy to
a bloodless monk, and not make him feel something new for
you--something he never before felt for any other woman--really it's as
criminal as a wrinkled stocking, or for blondes to wear shiny things.
Every woman can do it, if she'll study a little how to reduce them to
their least common denominator--how to make them primitive."
Of another member of Mrs. Akemit's household Percival acknowledged the
sway with never a misgiving. He had been the devoted lover of Baby
Akemit from the afternoon when he had first cajoled her into
autobiography--a vivid, fire-tipped little thing with her mother's
piquancy. He gleaned that day that she was "a quarter to four years
old;" that she was mamma's girl, but papa was a friend of Santa Claus;
that she went to "ball-dances" every day clad in "dest a stirt 'cause
big ladies don't ever wear waist-es at night;" that she had once ridden
in a merry-go-round and it made her "all homesick right here," patting
her stomach; and that "elephants are horrid, but you mustn't be cruel
to them and cut their eyes out. Oh, no!"
Her Percival courted with results that left nothing to be desired. She
fell to the floor in helpless, shrieking laughter when he came. In his
honour she composed and sang songs to an improvised and spirited
accompaniment upon her toy piano. His favourites among these were
"'Cause Why I Love You" and "Darling, Ask Myself to Come to You." She
rendered them with much feeling. If he were present when her bed-time
came she refused to sleep until he had consented to an interview.
Avice Milbrey had the fortune to witness one of these bed-time
_causeries_. One late afternoon the young man's summons came while he
was one of a group that lingered late about Mrs. Akemit's little
tea-table, Miss Milbrey being of the number.
He followed the maid dutifully out through the hall to the door of the
bedroom, and entered on all-fours with what they two had agreed was the
growl of a famished bear.
The familiar performance was viewed by the mother and by Miss Milbrey,
whom the mother had urged to follow. Baby Akemit in her crib, modestly
arrayed in blue pajamas, after simulating the extreme terror required
by the situation, fell to chatting, while her mother and Miss Milbrey
looked on from the doorway.
Miss Akemit had once been out in the woods, it appeared, and a
"biting-wolf" chased her, and she ran and ran until she came to a river
all full of pigs and fishes and berries, so she jumped in and had
supper, and it wasn't a "biting-wolf" at all--and then--
But the narrative was cut short by her mother.
"Come, Pet! Mr. Bines wishes to go now."
Miss Akemit, it appeared, was bent upon relating the adventures of
Goldie Locks, subsequent to her leap from the window of the bears'
house. She had, it seemed, been compelled to ride nine-twenty miles on
a trolley, and, reaching home too late for luncheon, had been obliged
to eat in the kitchen with the cook.
"Mr. Bines can't stay, darling!"
Baby Akemit calculated briefly, and consented to his departure if Mr.
Bines would bring her something next time.
Mr. Bines promised, and moved away after the customary embrace, but she
was not through:
"Oh! oh! go out like a bear! dere's a bear come in here!"
And so, having brought the bear in, he was forced to drop again and
growl the beast out, whereupon, appeased by this strict observance of
the unities, the child sat up and demanded:
"You sure you'll bring me somefin next time?"
"Yes, sure, Lady Grenville St. Clare." "Well, you sure you're _comin'_
Being reassured on this point, and satisfied that no more bears were at
large, she lay down once more while Percival and the two observers
returned to the drawing-room.
"You love children so!" Miss Milbrey said. And never had she been so
girlishly appealing to all that was strong in him as a man. The frolic
with the child seemed to have blown away a fog from between them. Yet
never had the other scene been more vivid to him, and never had the
pain of her heartlessness been more poignant.
When he "played" with Baby Akemit thereafter, the pretence was not all
with the child. For while she might "play" at giving a vexatiously
large dinner, for which she was obliged to do the cooking because she
had discharged all the servants, or when they "played" that the big
couch was a splendid ferry-boat in which they were sailing to Chicago
where Uncle David lived--with many stern threats to tell the janitor of
the boat if the captain didn't behave himself and sail faster--Percival
"played" that his companion's name was Baby Bines, and that her mother,
who watched them with loving eyes, was a sweet and gracious young woman
named Avice. And when he told Baby Akemit that she was "the only
original sweetheart" he meant it of some one else than her.
When the play was over he always conducted himself back to sane reality
by viewing this some one else in the cold light of truth.
The Distressing Adventure of Mrs. Bines
The fame of the Bines family for despising money was not fed wholly by
Percival's unremitting activities. Miss Psyche Bines, during the
winter, achieved wide and enviable renown as a player of bridge whist.
Not for the excellence of her play; rather for the inveteracy and size
of her losses and the unconcerned cheerfulness with which she defrayed
them. She paid the considerable sums with an air of gratitude for
having been permitted to lose them. Especially did she seem grateful
for the zealous tutelage and chaperonage of Mrs. Drelmer.
"Everybody in New York plays bridge, my dear, and of course you must
learn," that capable lady had said in the beginning.
"But I never was bright at cards," the girl confessed, "and I'm afraid
I couldn't learn bridge well enough to interest you good players."
"Nonsense!" was Mrs. Drelmer's assurance. "Bridge is easy to learn and
easy to play. I'll teach you, and I promise you the people you play
with shall never complain."
Mrs. Drelmer, it soon appeared, knew what she was talking about.
Indeed, that well-informed woman was always likely to. Her husband was
an intellectual delinquent whom she spoke of largely as being "in Wall
Street," and in that feat of jugglery known as "keeping up
appearances," his wife had long been the more dexterous performer.
She was apt not only to know what she talked about, but she was a woman
of resource, unafraid of action. She drilled Miss Bines in the
rudiments of bridge. If the teacher became subsequently much the
largest winner of the pupil's losings, it was, perhaps, not more than
her fit recompense. For Miss Bines enjoyed not only the sport of the
game, but her manner of playing it, combined with the social prestige
of her amiable sponsor, procured her a circle of acquaintances that
would otherwise have remained considerably narrower. An enthusiastic
player of bridge, of passable exterior, mediocre skill, and unlimited
resources, need never want in New York for very excellent society. Not
only was the Western girl received by Mrs. Drelmer's immediate circle,
but more than one member of what the lady called "that snubby set"
would now and then make a place for her at the card-table. A few of
Mrs. Drelmer's intimates were so wanting in good taste as to intimate
that she exploited Miss Bines even to the degree of an understanding
expressed in bald percentage, with certain of those to whom she secured
the girl's society at cards. Whether this ill-natured gossip was true
or false, it is certain that the exigencies of life on next to nothing
a year, with a husband who could boast of next to nothing but Family,
had developed an unerring business sense in Mrs. Drelmer; and certain
it also is that this winter was one when the appearances with which she
had to strive were unwontedly buoyant.
Miss Bines tirelessly memorised rules. She would disclose to her placid
mother that the lead of a trump to the third hand's go-over of hearts
is of doubtful expediency; or that one must "follow suit with the
smallest, except when you have only two, neither of them better than
the Jack. Then play the higher first, so that when the lower falls your
partner may know you are out of the suit, and ruff it."
Mrs. Bines declared that it did seem to her very much like out-and-out
gambling. But Percival, looking over the stubs of his sister's
check-book, warmly protested her innocence of this charge.
"Heaven knows sis has her shortcomings," he observed, patronisingly, in
that young woman's presence, "but she's no gambler; don't say it, ma, I
beg of you! She only knows five rules of the game, and I judge it's
cost her about three thousand dollars each to learn those. And the only
one she never forgets is, 'When in doubt, lead your highest check.' But
don't ever accuse her of gambling. Poor girl, if she keeps on playing
bridge she'll have writer's cramp; that's all I'm afraid of. I see
there's a new rapid-fire check-book on the market, and an improved
fountain pen that doesn't slobber. I'll have to get her one of each."
Yet Psyche Bines's experience, like her brother's, was not without a
proper leaven of sentiment. There was Fred Milbrey, handsome, clever,
amusing, knowing every one, and giving her a pleasant sense of intimacy
with all that was worth while in New York. Him she felt very friendly
Then there was Mauburn, presently to be Lord Casselthorpe, with his
lazy, high-pitched drawl; good-natured, frank, carrying an atmosphere
of high-class British worldliness, and delicately awakening within her
while she was with him a sense of her own latent superiority to the
institutions of her native land. She liked Mauburn, too.
More impressive than either of these, however, was the Baron Ronault de
Palliac. Tall, swarthy, saturnine, a polished man of all the world, of
manners finished, elaborate, and ceremonious, she found herself feeling
foreign and distinguished in his presence, quite as if she were the
heroine of a romantic novel, and might at any instant be called upon to
assist in royalist intrigues. The baron, to her intuition, nursed
secret sorrows. For these she secretly worshipped him. It is true that
when he dined with her and her mother, which he was frequently gracious
enough to do, he ate with a heartiness that belied this secret sorrow
she had imagined. But he was fascinating at all times, with a grace at
table not less finished than that with which he bowed at their meetings
and partings. It was not unpleasant to think of basking daily in the
shine of that grand manner, even if she did feel friendlier with
Milbrey, and more at ease with Mauburn.
If the truth must be told, Miss Bines was less impressionable than
either of the three would have wished. Her heart seemed not easy to
reach; her impulses were not inflammable. Young Milbrey early confided
to his family a suspicion that she was singularly hard-headed, and the
definite information that she had "a hob-nailed Western way" of
treating her admirers.
Mauburn, too, was shrewd enough to see that, while she frankly liked
him, he was for some reason less a favourite than the Baron de Palliac.
"It'll be no easy matter marrying that girl," he told Mrs. Drelmer.
"She's really a dear, and awfully good fun, but she's not a bit silly,
and I dare say she'll marry some chap because she likes him, and not
because he's anybody, you know."
"Make her like you," insisted his adviser.
"On my word, I wish she did. And I'm not so sure, you know, she doesn't
fancy that Frenchman, or even young Milbrey."
"I'll keep you before her," promised Mrs. Drelmer, "and I wish you'd
not think you can't win her. 'Tisn't like you."
Miss Bines accordingly heard that it was such a pity young Milbrey
drank so, because his only salvation lay in making a rich marriage, and
a young man, nowadays, had to keep fairly sober to accomplish that.
Really, Mrs. Drelmer felt sorry for the poor weak fellow. "Good-hearted
chap, but he has no character, my dear, so I'm afraid there's no hope
for him. He has the soul of a merchant tailor, actually, but not the
tailor's manhood. Otherwise he'd be above marrying some unsuspecting
girl for her money and breaking her heart after marriage. Now, Mauburn
is a type so different; honest, unaffected, healthy, really he's a man
for any girl to be proud of, even if he were not heir to a title--one
of the best in all England, and an ornament of the most exclusively
correct set; of a line, my dear, that is truly great--not like that
shoddy French nobility, discredited in France, that sends so many of
its comic-opera barons here looking for large dowries to pay their
gambling debts and put furniture in their rattle-trap old chateaux, and
keep them in absinthe and their other peculiar diversions. And Mauburn,
you lucky minx, simply adores you--he's quite mad about you, really!"
In spite of Mrs. Drelmer's two-edged sword, Miss Bines continued rather
more favourable to the line of De Palliac. The baron was so splendid,
so gloomy, so deferential. He had the air of laying at her feet, as a
rug, the whole glorious history of France. And he appeared so well in
the victoria when they drove in the park.
It is true that the heart of Miss Bines was as yet quite untouched; and
it was not more than a cool, dim, aesthetic light in which she surveyed
the three suitors impartially, to behold the impressive figure of the
baron towering above the others. Had the baron proposed for her hand,
it is not impossible that, facing the question directly, she would have
parried or evaded.
But certain events befell unpropitiously at a time when the baron was
most certain of his conquest; at the very time, indeed, when he had
determined to open his suit definitely by extending a proposal to the
young lady through the orthodox medium of her nearest male relative.
"I admit," wrote the baron to his expectant father, "that it is what
one calls '_very chances_' in the English, but one must venture in this
country, and your son is not without much hope. And if not, there is
still Mlle. Higbee."
The baron shuddered as he wrote it. He preferred not to recognise even
the existence of this alternative, for the reason that the father of
Mlle. Higbee distressed him by an incompleteness of suavity.
"He conducts himself like a pork," the baron would declare to himself,
by way of perfecting his English.
The secret cause of his subsequent determination not to propose for the
hand of Miss Bines lay in the hopelessly middle-class leanings of the
lady who might have incurred the supreme honour of becoming his
mother-in-law. Had Mrs. Bines been above talking to low people, a
catastrophe might have been averted. But Mrs. Bines was not above it.
She was quite unable to repress a vulgar interest in the menials that
She knew the butler's life history two days after she had ceased to be
afraid of him. She knew the distressing family affairs of the maids;
how many were the ignoble progeny of the elevator-man, and what his
plebeian wife did for their croup; how much rent the hall-boy's
low-born father paid for his mean two-story dwelling in Jersey City;
and how many hours a day or night the debased scrub-women devoted to
their unrefining toil.
Brazenly, too, she held converse with Philippe, the active and voluble
Alsatian who served her when she chose to dine in the public restaurant
instead of at her own private table. Philippe acquainted her with the
joys and griefs of his difficult profession. There were fourteen
thousand waiters in New York, if, by waiters, you meant any one. Of
course there were not so many like Philippe, men of the world who had
served their time as assistants and their three years as sub-waiters;
men who spoke English, French, and German, who knew something of
cooking, how to dress a salad, and how to carve. Only such, it
appeared, could be members of the exclusive Geneva Club that procured a
place for you when you were idle, and paid you eight dollars a week
when you were sick.
Having the qualifications, one could earn twenty-five dollars a month
in salary and three or four times as much in gratuities. Philippe's
income was never less than one hundred and twenty dollars a month; for
was he not one who had come from Europe as a master, after two seasons
at Paris where a man acquires his polish--his perfection of manner, his
finish, his grace? Philippe could never enough prize that post-graduate
course at the _Maison d'Or_, where he had personally known--madame
might not believe it--the incomparable Casmir, a _chef_ who served two
generations of epicures, princes, kings, statesmen, travelling
Americans,--all the truly great.
With his own lips Casmir had told him, Philippe, of the occasion when
Dumas, _pere_, had invited him to dinner that they might discuss the
esoterics of salad dressing and sauces; also of the time when the
Marquis de St. Georges embraced Casmir for inventing the precious soup
that afterwards became famous as _Potage Germine_. And now the skilled
and puissant Casmir had retired. It was a calamity. The _Maison
d'Or_--Paris--would no longer be what they had been.
For that matter, since one must live, Philippe preferred it to be in
America, for in no other country could an adept acquire so much money.
And Philippe knew the whole dining world. With Celine and the baby,
Paul, Philippe dwelt in an apartment that would really amaze madame by
its appointments of luxury, in East 38th Street, and only the four
flights to climb. And Paul was three, the largest for his age, quite
the largest, that either Philippe or Celine had ever beheld. Even the
brother of Celine and his wife, who had a restaurant of their
own--serving the _table d'hote_ at two and one-half francs the plate,
with wine--even these swore they had never seen an infant so big, for
his years, as Paul.
And so Mrs. Bines grew actually to feel an interest in the creature and
his wretched affairs, and even fell into the deplorable habit of
saying, "I must come to see you and your wife and Paul some pleasant
day, Philippe," and Philippe, being a man of the world, thought none
the less of her for believing that she did not mean it.
Yet it befell on an afternoon that Mrs. Bines found herself in a
populous side-street, driving home from a visit to the rheumatic
scrub-woman who had now to be supported by the papers her miserable
offspring sold. Mrs. Bines had never seen so many children as flooded
this street. She wondered if an orphan asylum were in the
neighbourhood. And though the day was pleasantly warm, she decided that
there were about her at least a thousand cases of incipient pneumonia,
for not one child in five had on a hat. They raged and dashed and
rippled from curb to curb so that they might have made her think of a
swift mountain torrent at the bottom of a gloomy canyon, but that the
worthy woman was too literal-minded for such fancies. She only warned
the man to drive slowly.
And then by a street sign she saw that she was near the home of
Philippe. It was three o'clock, and he would be resting from his work.
The man found the number. The waves parted and piled themselves on
either side in hushed wonder as she entered the hallway and searched
for the name on the little cards under the bells. She had never known
the surname, and on two of the cards "Ph." appeared. She rang one of
the bells, the door mysteriously opened with a repeated double click,
and she began the toilsome climb. The waves of children fell together
behind her in turbulent play again.
At the top she breathed a moment and then knocked at a door before her.
A voice within called:
"_Entres!_" and Mrs. Bines opened the door.
It was the tiny kitchen of Philippe. Philippe, himself, in
shirt-sleeves, sat in a chair tilted back close to the gas-range, the
_Courier des Etats Unis_ in his hands and Paul on his lap. Celine
ironed the bosom of a gentleman's white shirt on an ironing board
supported by the backs of two chairs.
Hemmed in the corner by this board and by the gas-range, seated at a
table covered by the oilcloth that simulates the marble of Italy's most
famous quarry, sat, undoubtedly, the Baron Ronault de Palliac. A
steaming plate of spaghetti _a la Italien_ was before him, to his left
a large bowl of salad, to his right a bottle of red wine.
For a space of three seconds the entire party behaved as if it were
being photographed under time-exposure. Philippe and the baby stared,
motionless. Celine stared, resting no slight weight on the hot
flat-iron. The Baron Ronault de Palliac stared, his fork poised in
mid-air and festooned with gay little streamers of spaghetti.
Then came smoke, the smell of scorching linen, and a cry of horror from
"_Ah, la seule chemise blanche de Monsieur le Baron!_"
The spell was broken. Philippe was on his feet, bowing effusively.
"Ah! it is Madame Bines. _Je suis tres honore_--I am very honoured to
welcome you, madame. It is madame, _ma femme_, Celine,--and--Monsieur
le Baron de Palliac--"
Philippe had turned with evident distress toward the latter. But
Philippe was only a waiter, and had not behind him the centuries of
schooling that enable a gentleman to remain a gentleman under adverse
The Baron Ronault de Palliac arose with unruffled aplomb and favoured
the caller with his stateliest bow. He was at the moment a graceful and
silencing rebuke to those who aver that manner and attire be
interdependent. The baron's manner was ideal, undiminished in volume,
faultless as to decorative qualities. One fitted to savour its
exquisite finish would scarce have noted that above his waist the noble
gentleman was clad in a single woollen undergarment of revolutionary
Or, if such a one had observed this trifling circumstance, he would,
assuredly, have treated it as of no value to the moment; something to
note, perhaps, and then gracefully to forget.
The baron's own behaviour would have served as a model. One swift
glance had shown him there was no way of instant retreat. That being
impossible, none other was graceful; hence none other was to be
considered. He permitted himself not even a glance at the shirt upon
whose fair, defenceless bosom the iron of the overcome Celine had
burned its cruel brown imprimature. Mrs. Bines had greeted him as he
would have wished, unconscious, apparently, that there could be cause
[Illustration: "THE SPELL WAS BROKEN."]
"Ah! madame," he said, handsomely, "you see me, I unfast with the fork.
You see me here, I have envy of the simple life. I am content of to do
it--_comme ca_--as that, see you," waving in the direction of his
unfinished repast. "All that magnificence of your grand hotel, there is
not the why of it, the most big of the world, and suchly stupefying,
with its 'infernil rackit' as you say. And of more--what droll of idea,
enough curious, by example! to dwell with the good Philippe and his
_femme aimable_. Their hotel is of the most littles, but I rest here
very volunteerly since longtime. Is it that one can to comprehend
liking the vast hotel American?"
"Monsieur le Baron lodges with us; we have so much of the chambers,"
"Monsieur le Baron wishes to retire to his apartment," said Philippe,
raising the ironing-board. "Will madame be so good to enter our _petit
salon_ at the front, _n'est-ce-pas?_"
The baron stepped forth from his corner and bowed himself graciously
"Madame, my compliments--and to the adorable Mademoiselle Bines! _Au
revoir_, madame--to the soontime--_avant peu_--before little!"
On the farther side of his closed door the Baron Ronault de Palliac
swore--once. But the oath was one of the most awful that a Frenchman
may utter in his native tongue: "Sacred Name of a Name!"
"But the baron wasn't done eating," protested Mrs. Bines.
"Ah, yes, madame!" replied Philippe. "Monsieur le Baron has consumed
enough for now. _Paul, mon enfant, ne touche pas la robe de madame!_ He
is large, is he not, madame, as I have told you? A monster, yes?"
Mrs. Bines, stooping, took the limp and wide-eyed Paul up in her arms.
Whereupon he began to talk so fast to her in French that she set him
quickly down again, with the slightly helpless air of one who has
picked up an innocent-looking clock only to have the clanging alarm go
"Madame will honour our little salon," urged Philippe, opening the door
and bowing low.
"_Quel dommage!_" sighed Celine, moving after them; "_la seule chemise
blanche de Monsieur le Baron. Eh bien! il faut lui en acheter une
At dinner that evening Mrs. Bines related her adventure, to the
unfeigned delight of her graceless son, and to the somewhat troubled
amazement of her daughter.
"And, do you know," she ventured, "maybe he isn't a regular baron,
"Oh, I guess he's a regular one all right," said Percival; "only
perhaps he hasn't worked at it much lately."
"But his sitting there eating in that--that shirt--" said his sister.
"My dear young woman, even the nobility are prey to climatic rigours;
they are obliged, like the wretched low-born such as ourselves, to
wear--pardon me--undergarments. Again, I understand from Mrs.
Cadwallader here that the article in question was satisfactory and
fit--red, I believe you say, Mrs. Terwilliger?"
"Awful red!" replied his mother--"and they call their parlour a
"And of necessity, even the noble have their moments of _deshabille_."
"They needn't eat their lunch that way," declared his sister.
"Is _deshabille_ French for underclothes?" asked Mrs. Bines, struck by
"Partly," answered her son.
"And the way that child of Philippe's jabbered French! It's wonderful
how they can learn so young."
"They begin early, you know," Percival explained. "And as to our friend
the baron, I'm ready to make book that sis doesn't see him again,
except at a distance."
Sometime afterwards he computed the round sum he might have won if any
such bets had been made; for his sister's list of suitors, to adopt his
own lucent phrase, was thereafter "shy a baron."
The Summer Campaign Is Planned
Winter waned and spring charmed the land into blossom. The city-pent,
as we have intimated, must take this season largely on faith. If one
can find a patch of ground naked of stone or asphalt one may feel the
heart of the earth beat. But even now the shop-windows are more
inspiring. At least they copy the outer show. Tender-hued shirt-waists
first push up their sprouts of arms through the winter furs and
woollens, quite as the first violets out in the woodland thrust
themselves up through the brown carpet of leaves. Then every window
becomes a summery glade of lawn, tulle, and chiffon, more lavish of
tints, shades, and combinations, indeed, than ever nature dared to be.
Outside, where the unspoiled earth begins, the blossoms are clouding
the trees with a mist of pink and white, and the city-dweller knows it
from the bloom and foliage of these same windows.
Then it is that the spring "get away" urge is felt by each prisoner, by
those able to obey it, and by those, alike, who must wear it down in
the groomed and sophisticated wildness of the city parks.
On a morning late in May Mrs. Bines and her daughter were at breakfast.
"Isn't Percival coming?" asked his mother. "Everything will be cold."
"Can't say," Psyche answered. "I don't even know if he came in last
night. But don't worry about cold things. You can't get them too cold
for Perce at breakfast, nowadays. He takes a lot of ice-water and a
little something out of the decanter, and maybe some black coffee."
"Yes, and I'm sure it's bad for him. He doesn't look a bit healthy and
hasn't since he quit eating breakfast. He used to be such a hearty
eater at breakfast, steaks and bacon and chops and eggs and waffles. It
was a sight to see him eat; and since he's quit taking anything but
that cold stuff he's lost his colour and his eyes don't look right. I
know what he's got hold of--it's that 'no-breakfast' fad. I heard about
it from Mrs. Balldridge when we came here last fall. I never did
believe in it, either."
The object of her solicitude entered in dressing-gown and slippers.
"I'm just telling Psyche that this no-breakfast fad is hurting your
health, my son. Now do come and eat like you used to. You began to look
bad as soon as you left off your breakfast. It's a silly fad, that's
what it is. You can't tell _me!_"
The young man stared at his mother until he had mastered her meaning.
Then he put both hands to his head and turned to the sideboard as if to
conceal his emotion.
"That's it," he said, as he busied himself with a tall glass and the
cracked ice. "It's that 'no-breakfast' fad. I didn't think you knew
about it. The fact is," he continued, pouring out a measure of brandy,
and directing the butler to open a bottle of soda, "we all eat too
much. After a night of sound sleep we awaken refreshed and buoyant, all
our forces replenished; thirsty, of course, but not hungry"--he sat
down to the table and placed both hands again to his head--"and we have
no need of food. Yet such is the force of custom that we deaden
ourselves for the day by tanking up on coarse, loathsome stuff like
bacon. Ugh! Any one would think, the way you two eat so early in the
day, that you were a couple of cave-dwellers,--the kind that always
loaded up when they had a chance because it might be a week before they
He drained his glass and brightened visibly.
"Now, why not be reasonable?" he continued, pleadingly. "You know there
is plenty of food. I have observed it being brought into town in huge
wagon-loads in the early morning on many occasions. Why do you want to
eat it all at one sitting? No one's going to starve you. Why stupefy
yourselves when, by a little nervy self-denial, you can remain as fresh
and bright and clear-headed as I am at this moment? Why doesn't a fire
make its own escape, Mrs. Carstep-Jamwuddle?"
"I don't believe you feel right, either. I just know you've got an
awful headache right now. Do let the man give you a nice piece of this
"Don't, I beg of you, Lady Ashmorton! The suggestion is extremely
repugnant to me. Besides, I'm behaving this way because I arose with
the purely humourous fancy that my head was a fine large accordeon, and
that some meddler had drawn it out too far. I'm sportively pretending
that I can press it back into shape. Now you and sis never get up with
any such light poetic notion as that. You know you don't--don't attempt
to deceive me." He glanced over the table with swift disapproval.
"Strawberries, oatmeal, rolls, steak three inches thick, bacon,
omelette--oh, that I should live to see this day! It's disgraceful! And
at your age--before your own innocent woman-child, and leading her into
the same excesses. Do you know what that breakfast is? No; I'll tell
you. That breakfast is No. 78 in that book of Mrs. Rorer's, and she
expressly warns everybody that it can be eaten safely only by
steeple-climbers, piano-movers, and sea-captains. Really, Mrs.
Wrangleberry, I blush for you."
"I don't care how you go on. You ain't looked well for months."
"But think of my great big heart--a heart like an ox,"--he seemed on
the verge of tears--"and to think that you, a woman I have never
treated with anything but respect since we met in Honduras in the fall
of '93--to think _you_ should throw it up to my own face that I'm not
beautiful. Others there are, thank God, who can look into a man's heart
and prize him for what he is--not condemn him for his mere superficial
"And I just know you've got in with a fast set. I met Mr. Milbrey
yesterday in the corridor--"
"Did he tell you how to make a lovely asparagus short-cake or
"He told me those men you go with so much are dreadful gamblers, and
that when you all went to Palm Beach last February you played poker for
money night and day, and you told me you went for your health!"
"Oh, he did, did he? Well, I didn't get anything else. He's a dear old
soul, if you've got the copper handy. If that man was a woman he'd be a
warm neighbourhood gossip. He'd be the nice kind old lady that _starts_
things, that's what Hoddy Milbrey would be."
"And you said yourself you played poker most of the time when you went
to Aiken on the car last month."
"To be honest with you, ma, we did play poker. Say, they took it off of
me so fast I could feel myself catching cold."
"There, you see--and you really ought to wear one of those chamois-skin
chest protectors in this damp climate."
"Well, we'll see. If I can find one that an ace-full won't go through
I'll snatch it so quick the man'll think he's being robbed. Now I'll
join you ladies to the extent of some coffee, and then I want to know
what you two would rather do this summer _than_."
"Of course," said Psyche, "no one stays in town in summer."
"Exactly. And I've chartered a steam yacht as big as this hotel--all
but--But what I want to know is whether you two care to bunk on it or
whether you'd rather stay quietly at some place, Newport perhaps, and
maybe take a cruise with me now and then."
"Oh, that would be good fun. But here's ma getting so I can't do a
thing with her, on account of all those beggars and horrid people down
in the slums."
Mrs. Bines looked guilty and feebly deprecating. It was quite true that
in her own way she had achieved a reputation for prodigality not
inferior to that acquired by her children in ways of their own.
"You know it's so, ma," the daughter went on, accusingly. "One night
last winter when you were away we dined at the Balldridge's, in
Eighty-sixth Street, and the pavements were so sleety the horses
couldn't stand, so Colonel Balldridge brought us home in the Elevated,
about eleven o'clock. Well, at one of the stations a big policeman got
on with a little baby all wrapped up in red flannel. He'd found it in
an area-way, nearly covered with snow--where some one had left it, and
he was taking it down to police-headquarters, he said. Well, ma went
crazy right away. She made him undo it, and then she insisted on
holding it all the way down to Thirty-third Street. One man said it
might be President of the United States, some day; and Colonel
Balldridge said, 'Yes, it has unknown possibilities--it may even be a
President's wife'--just like that. But I thought ma would be demented.
It was all fat and so warm and sleepy it could hardly hold its eyes
open, and I believe she'd have kept it then and there if the policeman
would have let her. She made him promise to get it a bottle of warm
milk the first thing, and borrowed twenty dollars of the colonel to
give to the policeman to get it things with, and then all the way down
she talked against the authorities for allowing such things--as if they
could help it--and when we got home she cried--you _know_ you did,
ma--and you pretended it was toothache--and ever since then she's been
perfectly daft about babies. Why, whenever she sees a woman going along
with one she thinks the poor thing is going to leave it some place; and
now she's in with those charity workers and says she won't leave New
York at all this summer."
"I don't care," protested the guilty mother, "it would have frozen to
death in just a little while, and it's done so often. Why, up at the
Catholic Protectory they put out a basket at the side door, so a body
can leave their baby in it and ring the bell and run away; and they get
one twice a week sometimes; and this was such a sweet, fat little baby
with big blue eyes, and its forehead wrinkled, and it was all puckered
up around its little nose--"
"And that isn't the worst of it," the relentless daughter broke in.
"She gets begging letters by the score and gives money to all sorts of
people, and a man from the Charities Organisation, who had heard about
it, came and warned her that they were impostors--only she doesn't
care. Do you know, there was a poor old blind woman with a dismal,
wheezy organ down at Broadway and Twenty-third Street--the organ would
hardly play at all, and just one wretched tune--only the woman wasn't
blind at all we found out--and ma bought her a nice new organ that cost
seventy-five dollars and had it taken up to her. Well, she found out
through this man from the Organisation that the woman had pawned the
new organ for twenty dollars and was still playing on the old one. She
didn't want a new one because it was too cheerful; it didn't make
people sad when they heard it, like her old one did. And yesterday ma
bought an Indian--"
"A what?" asked her brother, in amazement.
"An Indian--a tobacco sign."
"You don't mean it? One of those lads that stand out in front and peer
under their hands to see what palefaces are moving into the house
across the street? Say, ma, what you going to do with him? There isn't
much room here, you know."
"I didn't buy him for myself," replied Mrs. Bines, with dignity; "I
wouldn't want such an object."
"She bought it," explained his sister, "for an Italian woman who keeps
a little tobacco-shop down in Rivington Street. A man goes around to
repaint them, you know, but hers was so battered that this man told her
it wasn't worth painting again, and she'd better get another, and the
woman said she didn't know what to do because they cost twenty-five
dollars and one doesn't last very long. The bad boys whittle him and
throw him down, and the people going along the street put their shoes
up to tie them and step on his feet, and they scratch matches on his
face, and when she goes out and says that isn't right they tell her
she's too fresh. And so ma gave her twenty-five dollars for a new one."
"But she has to support five children, and her husband hasn't been able
to work for three years, since he fell through a fire-escape where he
was sleeping one hot night," pleaded Mrs. Bines, "and I think I'd
rather stay here this summer. Just think of all those poor babies when
the weather gets hot. I never thought there were so many babies in the
"Well, have your own way," said her son. "If you've started out to look
after all the babies in New York you won't have any time left to play
the races, I'll promise you that."
"Why, my son, I never--"
"But sis here would probably rather do other things."
"I think," said Psyche, "I'd like Newport--Mrs. Drelmer says I
shouldn't think of going any place else. Only, of course, I can't go
there alone. She says she would be glad to chaperone me, but her
husband hasn't had a very good year in Wall Street, and she's afraid
she won't be able to go herself."
"Maybe," began Mrs. Bines, "if you'd offer--"
"Oh! she'd be offended," exclaimed Psyche.
"I'm not so sure of that," said her brother, "not if you suggest it in
the right way--put it on the ground that you'll be quite helpless
without her, and that she'd oblige you world without end and all that.
The more I see of people here the more I think they're quite reasonable
in little matters like that. They look at them in the right light. Just
lead up to it delicately with Mrs. Drelmer and see. Then if she's
willing to go with you, your summer will be provided for; except that
we shall both have to look in upon Mrs. Juzzlebraggin here now and then
to see that she doesn't overplay the game and get sick herself, and
make sure that they don't get her vaccination mark away from her. And,
ma, you'll have to come off on the yacht once or twice, just to give it
It appeared that Percival had been right in supposing that Mrs. Drelmer
might be led to regard Psyche's proposal in a light entirely rational.
She was reluctant, at first, it is true.
"It's awfully dear of you to ask me, child, but really, I'm afraid it
will be quite impossible. Oh!--for reasons which you, of course, with
your endless bank-account, cannot at all comprehend. You see we old New
York families have a secure position _here_ by right of birth; and even
when we are forced to practice little economies in dress and household
management it doesn't count against us--so long as we _stay_ here. Now,
Newport is different. One cannot economise gracefully there--not even
one of _us_. There are quiet and very decent places for those of us
that must. But at Newport one must not fall behind in display. A sense
of loyalty to the others, a _noblesse oblige_, compels one to be as
lavish as those flamboyant outsiders who go there. One doesn't want
them to report, you know, that such and such families of our smart set
are falling behind for lack of means. So, while we of the real stock
are chummy enough here, where there is only _us_ in a position to
observe ourselves, there is a sort of tacit agreement that only those
shall go to Newport who are able to keep up the pace. One need not, for
one season or so, be a cottager; but, for example, in the matter of
dress, one must be sinfully lavish. Really, child, I could spend three
months in the Engadine for the price of one decent month at Newport;
the parasols, gloves, fans, shoes, 'frillies'--enough to stock the Rue
de la Paix, to say nothing of gowns--but why do I run on? Here am I
with a few little simple summer things, fit enough indeed for the quiet
place we shall reach for July and August, but ab-so-lute-ly impossible
for Newport--so say no more about it, dear. You're a sweet--but it's
madness to think of it."
"And I had," reported Psyche to her mother that night, "such a time
getting her to agree. At first she wouldn't listen at all. Then, after
I'd just fairly begged her, she admitted she might because she's taken
such a fancy to me and hates to leave me--but she was sensitive about
what people might say. I told her they'd never have a chance to say a
word; and she was anxious Perce shouldn't know, because she says he's
so cynical about New York people since that Milbrey girl made such a
set for him; and at last she called me a dear and consented, though
she'd been looking forward to a quiet summer. To-morrow early we start
out for the shops."
So it came that the three members of the Bines family pursued during
the summer their respective careers of diversion under conditions most
satisfactory to each.
The steam yacht _Viluca_, chartered by Percival, was put into
commission early in June. Her first cruise of ten days was a signal
triumph. His eight guests were the men with whom he had played poker so
tirelessly during the winter. Perhaps the most illuminating log of that
cruise may be found in the reply of one of them whom Percival invited
for another early in July.
"Much obliged, old man, but I haven't touched a drop now in over three
weeks. My doctor says I must let it be for at least two months, and I
mean to stick by him. Awfully kind of you, though!"
The Sight of a New Beauty, and Some Advice from Higbee
From the landing on a still morning in late July, Mrs. Drelmer surveyed
the fleet of sailing and steam yachts at anchor in Newport harbour. She
was beautifully and expensively gowned in nun's grey chiffon; her toque
was of chiffon and lace, and she held a pale grey parasol, its ivory
handle studded with sapphires. She fixed a glass upon one of the white,
sharp-nosed steam yachts that rode in the distance near Goat Island.
"Can you tell me if that's the _Viluca?_" she asked a sailor landing
from a dinghy, "that boat just astern of the big schooner?"
"No ma'am; that's the _Alta_, Commodore Weckford."
"Looking for some one?" inquired a voice, and she turned to greet Fred
Milbrey descending the steps.
"Oh! Good-morning! yes; but they've not come in, evidently. It's the
_Viluca_--Mr. Bines, you know; he's bringing his sister back to me. And
"I'm expecting the folks on Shepler's craft. Been out two weeks now,
and were to have come down from New London last night. They're not in
sight either. Perhaps the gale last night kept them back."
Mrs. Drelmer glanced above to where some one seemed to be waiting for
"Who's your perfectly gorgeous companion? You've been so devoted to her
for three days that you've hardly bowed to old friends. Don't you want
her to know any one?"
The young man laughed with an air of great shrewdness.
"Come, now, Mrs. Drelmer, you're too good a friend of Mauburn's--about
his marrying, I mean. You fixed him to tackle me low the very first
half of one game we know about, right when I was making a fine run down
the field, too. I'm going to have better interference this time."
"Silly! Your chances are quite as good as his there this moment."
"You may think so; I know better."
"And of course, in any other affair, I'd never think of--"
"P'r'aps so; but I'd rather not chance it just yet."
"But who is she? What a magnificent mop of hair. It's like that rich
piece of ore Mr. Bines showed us, with copper and gold in it."
"Well, I don't mind telling you she's the widow of a Southern
gentleman, Colonel Brench Wybert."
"Ah, indeed! I did notice that two-inch band of black at the bottom of
her accordeon-plaited petticoat. I'll wager that's a _Rue de la Paix_
idea of mourning for one's dead husband. And she confides her grief to
the world with such charming discretion. Half the New York women can't
hold their skirts up as daintily as she does it. I dare say, now, her
tears could be dried?--by the right comforter?"
Milbrey looked important.
"And I don't mind telling you the late Colonel Brench Wybert left her a
fortune made in Montana copper. Can't say how much, but two weeks ago
she asked the governor's advice about where to put a spare million and
a half in cash. Not so bad, eh?"
"Oh, this new plutocracy! Where _do_ they get it?"
"How old, now, should you say she was?"
Mrs. Drelmer glanced up again at the colour-scheme of heliotrope seated
in a victoria upholstered in tan brocade.
"Thirty-five, I should say--about."
"Just about what I should say--she'd say."
"Come now, you women can't help it, can you? But you can't deny she's
"Indeed I can't! She's a beauty--and, good luck to you. Is that the
_Viluca_ coming in? No; it has two stacks; and it's not your people
because the _Lotus_ is black. I shall go back to the hotel. Bertie
Trafford brought me over on the trolley. I must find him first and do
an errand in Thames Street."
At the head of the stairs they parted, Milbrey joining the lady who had
waited for him.
Hers was a person to gladden the eye. Her figure, tall and full, was of
a graceful and abundant perfection of contours; her face, precisely
carved and showing the faintly generous rounding of maturity, was warm
in colouring, with dark eyes, well shaded and languorous; her full lips
betrayed their beauty in a ready and fascinating laugh; her voice was a
rich, warm contralto; and her speech bore just a hint of the soft
r-less drawl of the South.
She had blazed into young Milbrey's darkness one night in the palm-room
of the Hightower Hotel, escorted by a pleased and beefy youth of his
acquaintance, who later told him of their meeting at the American
Embassy in Paris, and who unsuspectingly presented him. Since their
meeting the young man had been her abject cavalier. The elder Milbrey,
too, had met her at his son's suggestion. He had been as deeply
impressed by her helplessness in the matter of a million and a half
dollars of idle funds as she had been by his aristocratic bearing and
enviable position in New York society.
"Sorry to have kept you waiting. The _Lotus_ hasn't come in sight yet.
Let's loaf over to the beach and have some tall, cold ones."
"Who was your elderly friend?" she asked, as they were driven slowly up
the old-fashioned street.
"Oh! that's Joe Drelmer. She's not so old, you know; not a day over
forty, Joe can't be; fine old stock; she was a Leydenbroek and her
husband's family is one of the very oldest in New York. Awfully
exclusive. Down to meet friends, but they'd not shown up, either. That
reminds me; they're friends of ours, too, and I must have you meet
them. They're from your part of the country--the Bines."
"Bines; family from Montana; decent enough sort; didn't know but you
might have heard of them, being from your part of the country."
"Ah, I never think of that vulgar West as 'my part of the country' at
all. _My_ part is dear old Virginia, where my father, General Tulver,
and his father and his father's father all lived the lives of country
gentlemen, after the family came here from Devonshire. It was there
Colonel Wybert wooed me, though we later removed to New Orleans." Mrs.
Wybert called it "New _Aw_-leens."
"But it was not until my husband became interested in Montana mines
that we ventured into that horrid West. So _do_ remember not to
confound me with your Western--ah--Bones,--was it not?"
"No, Bines; they'll be here presently, and you can meet them, anyway."
"Is there an old fellow--a queer old character, with them?"
"No, only a son and daughter and the mother."
"Of course I sha'n't mind meeting any friends of yours," she said, with
charming graciousness, "but, really, I always understood that you
Knickerbockers were so vastly more exclusive. I do recall this name
now. I remember hearing tales of the family in Spokane. They're a type,
you know. One sees many of the sort there. They make a strike in the
mines and set up ridiculous establishments regardless of expense. You
see them riding in their carriages with two men in the box--red-handed,
grizzled old vulgarians who've roughed it in the mountains for twenty
years with a pack-mule and a ham and a pick-axe--with their jug of
whiskey--and their frowsy red-faced wives decked out in impossible
finery. Yes, I do recall this family. There is a daughter, you say?"
"Yes; Miss Psyche Bines."
"Psyche; ah, yes; it's the same family. I recollect perfectly now. You
know they tell the funniest tales of them out there. Her mother found
the name 'Psyche' in a book, and liked it, but she pronounced it
'Pishy,' and so the girl was called until she became old enough to go
to school and learned better."
"Dear me; fancy now!"
"And there are countless tales of the mother's queer sayings. Once a
gentleman whom they were visiting in San Francisco was showing her a
cabinet of curios. 'Now, don't you find the Pompeiian figurines
exquisite?' he asked her. The poor creature, after looking around her
helplessly, declared that she _did_ like them; but that she liked the
California nectarines better--they were so much juicier."
"You don't tell me; gad! that was a good one. Oh, well, she's a meek,
harmless old soul, and really, my family's not the snobbish sort, you
In from the shining sea late that afternoon steamed the _Viluca_. As
her chain was rattling through the hawse-hole, Percival, with his
sister and Mauburn, came on deck.
"Why, there's the _Chicago_--Higbee's yacht."
"That's the boat," said Mauburn, "that's been piling the white water up
in front of her all afternoon trying to overhaul us."
"There's Millie Higbee and old Silas, now."
"And, as I live," exclaimed Psyche, "there's the Baron de Palliac
"Sure enough," said her brother. "We must call ma up to see him dressed
in those sweet, pretty yachting flannels. Oh, there you are!" as Mrs.
Bines joined them. "Just take this glass and treat yourself to a look
at your old friend, the baron. You'll notice he has one
on--see--they're waving to us."
"Doesn't the baron look just too distinguished beside Mr. Higbee?" said
Psyche, watching them.
"And doesn't Higbee look just too Chicago beside the baron?" replied
The Higbee craft cut her way gracefully up to an anchorage near the
_Viluca_, and launches from both yachts now prepared to land their
people. At the landing Percival telephoned for a carriage. While they
were waiting the Higbee party came ashore.
"Hello!" said Higbee; "if I'd known that was you we was chasing I'd
have put on steam and left you out of sight."
"It's much better you didn't recognise us; these boiler explosions are
"Know the baron here?"
"Of course we know the baron. Ah, baron!"
"Ah, ha! very charmed, Mr. Bines and Miss Bines; it is of a long time
that we are not encountered."
He was radiant; they had never before seen him thus. Mrs. Higbee
hovered near him with an air of proud ownership. Pretty Millie Higbee
posed gracefully at her side.
"This your carriage?" asked Higbee; "I must telephone for one myself.
Going to the Mayson? So are we. See you again to-night. We're off for
Bar Harbour early to-morrow."
"Looks as if there were something doing there," said Percival, as they
drove off the wharf.
"Of course, stupid!" said his sister; "that's plain; only it isn't
doing, it's already done. Isn't it funny, ma?"
"For a French person," observed Mrs. Bines, guardedly, "I always liked
"Of course," said her son, to Mauburn's mystification, "and the noblest
men on this earth have to wear 'em."
The surmise regarding the Baron de Palliac and Millie Higbee proved to
be correct. Percival came upon Higbee in the meditative enjoyment of
his after-dinner cigar, out on the broad piazza.
"I s'pose you're on," he began; "the girl's engaged to that Frenchy."
"I congratulate him," said Percival, heartily.
"A real baron," continued Higbee. "I looked him up and made sure of
that; title's good as wheat. God knows that never would 'a' got me, but
the madam was set on it, and the girl too, and I had to give in. It
seemed to be a question of him or some actor. The madam said I'd had my
way about Hank, puttin' his poor stubby nose to the grindstone out
there in Chicago, and makin' a plain insignificant business man out of
him, and I'd ought to let her have her way with the girl, being that I
couldn't expect her to go to work too. So Mil will work the society
end. I says to the madam, I says, 'All right, have your own way; and
we'll see whether you make more out of the girl than I make out of the
boy,' I says. But it ain't going to be _all_ digging up. I've made the
baron promise to go into business with me, and though I ain't told him
yet, I'm going to put out a line of Higbee's thin-sliced ham and bacon
in glass jars with his crest on 'em for the French trade. This baron'll
cost me more'n that sign I showed you coming out of the old town, and
he won't give any such returns, but the crest on them jars, printed in
three colours and gold, will be a bully ad; and it kept the women
quiet," he concluded, apologetically.
"The baron's a good fellow," said Percival.
"Sure," replied Higbee. "They're all good fellows. Hank had the makin's
of a good fellow in him. And say, young man, that reminds me; I hear
all kinds of reports about your getting to be one yourself. Now I knew
your father, Daniel J. Bines, and I liked him, and I like you; and I
hope you won't get huffy, but from what they tell me you ain't doing
yourself a bit of good."
"Don't believe all you hear," laughed Percival.
"Well, I'll tell you one thing plain, if you was my son, you'd fade
right back to the packing-house along with Henry-boy. It's a pity you
ain't got some one to shut down on you that way. They tell me you got
your father's capacity for carrying liquor, and I hear you're known
from one end of Broadway to the other as the easiest mark that ever
came to town. They say you couldn't walk in your sleep without spending
money. Now, excuse my plain speaking, but them are two reputations that
are mighty hard to live up to beyond a certain limit. They've put lots
of good weight-carriers off the track before they was due to go. I hear
you got pinched in that wheat deal of Burman's?"
"Oh, only for a few hundred thousand. The reports of our losses were
exaggerated. And we stood to win over--"
"Yes--you stood to win, and then you went 'way back and set down,' as
the saying is. But it ain't the money. You've got too much of that,
anyway, Lord knows. It's this everlasting hullabaloo and the drink that
goes with it, and the general trifling sort of a dub it makes out of a
young fellow. It's a pity you ain't my son; that's all I got to say. I
want to see you again along in September after I get back from San
Francisco; I'm going to try to get you interested in some business.
That'd be good for you."
"You're kind, Mr. Higbee, and really I appreciate all you say; but
you'll see me settle down pretty soon, quick as I get my bearings, and
be a credit to the State of Montana."
"I say," said Mauburn, coming up, "do you see that angel of the flaming
hair with that young Milbrey chap?"
The two men gazed where he was indicating.
"By Jove! she _is_ a stunner, isn't she?" exclaimed Percival.
"Might be one of Shepler's party," suggested Higbee. "He has the
Milbrey family out with him, and I see they landed awhile ago. You can
bet that party's got more than her good looks, if the Milbreys are
taking any interest in her. Well, I've got to take the madam and the
young folks over to the Casino. So long!"
Fred Milbrey came up.
"Hello, you fellows!"
"Who is she?" asked the two in faultless chorus.
"We're going over to hear the music awhile. Come along and I'll present
"Rot the luck!" said Mauburn; "I'm slated to take Mrs. Drelmer and Miss
Bines to a musicale at the Van Lorrecks, where I'm certain to fall
asleep trying to look as if I quite liked it, you know."
"You come," Milbrey urged Percival. "My sister's there and the governor
But for the moment Percival was reflecting, going over in his mind the
recent homily of Higbee. Higbee's opinion of the Milbreys also came
back to him.
"Sorry, old man, but I've a headache, so you must excuse me for
to-night. But I'll tell you, we'll all come over in the morning and go
for a dip with you."
"Good! Stop for us at the Laurels, about eleven, or p'r'aps I'll stroll
over and get you. I'm expecting some mail to be forwarded to this
He rejoined his companion, who had been chatting with a group of women
near the door, and they walked away.
"_Isn't_ she a stunner!" exclaimed Mauburn.
"She is a _peach!_" replied Percival, in tones of deliberate and
intense conviction. "Whoever she is, I'll meet her to-morrow and ask
her what she means by pretending to see anything in Milbrey. This thing
has gone too far!"
Mauburn looked wistful but said nothing. After he had gone away with
Mrs. Drelmer and Psyche, who soon came for him, Percival still sat
revolving the paternal warnings of Higbee. He considered them
seriously. He decided he ought to think more about what he was doing
and what he should do. He decided, too, that he could think better with
something mechanical to occupy his hands. He took a cab and was driven
to the local branch of his favourite temple of chance. His host
welcomed him at the door.
"Ah, Mr. Bines, a little recreation, eh? Your favourite dealer, Dutson,
is here to-night, if you prefer bank."
Passing through the crowded, brightly-lighted rooms to one of the faro
tables, where his host promptly secured a seat for him, he played
meditatively until one o'clock; adding materially to his host's reasons
for believing he had done wisely to follow his New York clients to
their summer annex.
Horace Milbrey Upholds the Dignity of His House
In the shade of the piazza at the Hotel Mayson next morning there was a
sorting out of the mail that had been forwarded from the hotel in New
York. The mail of Mrs. Bines was a joy to her son. There were three
conventional begging letters, heart-breaking in their pathos, and
composed with no mean literary skill. There was a letter from one of
the maids at the Hightower for whose mother Mrs. Bines had secured
employment in the family of a friend; a position, complained the
daughter, "in which she finds constant hard labour caused by the
quantity expected of her to attend to." There was also a letter from
the lady's employer, saying she would not so much mind her laziness if
she did not aggravate it by drink. Mrs. Bines sighed despairingly for
"And who's this wants more help until her husband's profession picks up
again?" asked Percival.
"Oh, that's a poor little woman I helped. They call her husband 'the
"But this is just the season for icemen!"
"Well," confessed his mother, with manifest reluctance, "he's a
prize-fighter or something."
"--and he had a chance to make some money, only the man he fought
against had some of his friends drug this poor fellow before
their--their meeting--and so of course he lost. If he hadn't been
drugged he would have won the money, and now there's a law passed
against it, and of course it isn't a very nice trade, but I think the
law ought to be changed. He's got to live."
"I don't see why; not if he's the man I saw box one night last winter.
He didn't have a single excuse for living. And what are these
tickets,--'Grand Annual Outing and Games of the Egg-Candlers & Butter
Drivers' Association at Sulzer's Harlem River Park. Ticket Admitting
Lady and Gent, One dollar.' Heavens! What is it?"
"I promised to take ten tickets," said Mrs. Bines. "I must send them a
"But what are they?" her son insisted; "egg-candlers may be all right,
but what are butter-drivers? Are you quite sure it's respectable? Why,
I ask you, should an honest man wish to drive butter? That shows you
what life in a great city does for the morally weak. Look out you don't
get mixed up in it yourself, that's all I ask. They'll have you driving
butter first thing you know. Thank heaven! thus far no Bines has ever
candled an egg--and as for driving butter--" he stopped, with a shudder
of extreme repugnance.
"And here's a notice about the excursions of the St. John's Guild. I've
been on four already, and I want you to get me back to New York right
away for the others. If you could only see all those babies we take out
on the floating hospital, with two men in little boats behind to pick
up those that fall overboard--and really it's a wonder any of them live
through the summer in that cruel city. Down in Hester Street the other
day four of them had a slice of watermelon from Mr. Slivinsky's stand
on the corner, and when I saw them they were actually eating the hard,
green rind. It was enough to kill a horse."
"Well, have your own fun," said her son, cheerfully. "Here's a letter
from Uncle Peter I must read."
He drew his chair aside and began the letter:
"MONTANA CITY, July 21st, 1900.
"DEAR PETE:--Your letter and Martha's rec'd, and glad to hear from you.
I leave latter part of this week for the mtns. Late setting out this
season acct. rhumatiz caught last winter that laid me up all spring. It
was so mortal dull here with you folks gone that I went out with a
locating party to get the M. P. branch located ahead of the Short Line
folks. So while you were having your fun there I was having mine here,
and I had it good and plenty.
"The worst weather I ever did see, and I have seen some bad. Snow six
to eight feet on a level and the mercury down as low as 62 with an
ornery fierce wind. We lost four horses froze to death, and all but two
of the men got froze up bad. We reached the head of Madison Valley Feb.
19, north of Red Bank Canyon, but it wasn't as easy as it sounds.
"Jan. 8, after getting out of supplies, we abandoned our camp at
Riverside and moved 10 m. down the river carrying what we could on our
backs. Met pack train with a few supplies that night, and next day I
took part of the force in boat to meet over-due load of supplies. We
got froze in the ice. Left party to break through and took Billy Brue
and went ahead to hunt team. Billy and me lived four days on one lb.
bacon. The second day Billy took some sickness so he could not eat
hardly any food; the next day he was worse, and the last day he was so
bad he said the bare sight of food made him gag. I think he was a liar,
because he wasn't troubled none after we got to supplies again, but I
couldn't do anything with him, and so I lived high and come out slick
and fat. Finally we found the team coming in. They had got stuck in the
river and we had to carry out the load on our backs, waist-deep in
running water. I see some man in the East has a fad for breaking the
ice in the river and going swimming. I would not do it for any fad.
Slept in snow-drift that night in wet clothes, mercury 40 below. Was 18
days going 33 miles. Broke wagon twice, then broke sled and crippled
one horse. Packed the other five and went on till snow was too deep.
Left the horses where four out of five died and carried supplies the
rest of the way on our backs. Moved camp again on our backs and got
caught in a blizzard and nearly all of us got our last freezeup that
time. Finally a Chinook opened the river and I took a boat up to get
the abandoned camp. Got froze in harder than ever and had to walk out.
Most of the men quit on account of frozen feet, etc., etc. They are a
getting to be a sissy lot these days, rather lie around a hot stove all
"I had to pull chain, cut brush, and shovel snow after the 1st Feb. Our
last stage was from Fire Hole Basin to Madison Valley, 45 m. It was
hell. Didn't see the sun but once after Feb. 1, and it stormed
insessant, making short sights necessary, and with each one we would
have to dig a hole to the ground and often a ditch or a tunnel through
the snow to look through. The snow was soft to the bottom and an
instrument would sink through."
"Here's a fine letter to read on a hot day," called Percival. "I'm
catching cold." He continued.
"We have a very good line, better than from Beaver Canon, our maps
filed and construction under way; all grading done and some track laid.
That's what you call hustling. The main drawback is that Red Bank
Canon. It's a regular avalanche for eight miles. The snow slides just
fill the river. One just above our camp filled it for 1/4 mile and 40
feet deep and cut down 3 ft. trees like a razor shaves your face. I had
to run to get out of the way. Reached Madison Valley with one tent and
it looked more like mosquito bar than canvas. The old cloth wouldn't
hardly hold the patches together. I slept out doors for six weeks. I
got frost-bit considerable and the rhumatiz. I tell you, at 75 I ain't
the man I used to be. I find I need a stout tent and a good warm
sleeping bag for them kind of doings nowdays.
"Well, this Western country would be pretty dull for you I suppose
going to balls and parties every night with the Astors and Vanderbilts.
I hope you ain't cut loose none.
"By the way, that party that ground-sluiced us, Coplen he met a party
in Spokane the other day that seen her in Paris last spring. She was
laying in a stock of duds and the party gethered that she was going
back to New York--"
The Milbreys, father and son, came up and greeted the group on the
"I've just frozen both ears reading a letter from my grandfather," said
Percival. "Excuse me one moment and I'll be done."
"All right, old chap. I'll see if there's some mail for me. Dad can
chat with the ladies. Ah, here's Mrs. Drelmer. Mornin'!"
Percival resumed his letter:
"--going back to New York and make the society bluff. They say she's
got the face to do it all right. Coplen learned she come out here with
a gambler from New Orleans and she was dealing bank herself up to
Wallace for a spell while he was broke. This gambler he was the
slickest short-card player ever struck hereabouts. He was too good. He
was so good they shot him all up one night last fall over to Wardner.
She hadn't lived with him for some time then, though Coplen says they
was lawful man and wife, so I guess maybe she was glad when he got it
good in the chest-place--"
Fred Milbrey came out of the hotel office.
"No mail," he said. "Come, let's be getting along. Finish your letter
on the way, Bines."
"I've just finished," said Percival, glancing down the last sheet.
"--Coplen says she is now calling herself Mrs. Brench Wybert or some
such name. I just thought I'd tell you in case you might run acrost her
"Come along, old chap," urged Milbrey; "Mrs. Wybert will be waiting."
His father had started off with Psyche. Mrs. Bines and Mrs. Drelmer
were preparing to follow.
"I beg your pardon," said Percival, "I didn't quite catch the name."
"I say Mrs. Wybert and mother will be waiting--come along!"
"Wybert--Mrs. Brench Wybert--my friend--what's the matter?"
"We can't go;--that is--we can't meet her. Sis, come back a moment," he
called to Psyche, and then:
"I want a word with you and your father, Milbrey."
The two joined the elder Milbrey and the three strolled out to the
flower-bordered walk, while Psyche Bines went, wondering, back to her
"What's all the row?" inquired Fred Milbrey.
"You've been imposed upon. This woman--this Mrs. Brench Wybert--there
can be no mistake; you are sure that's the name?"
"Of course I'm sure; she's the widow of a Southern gentleman, Colonel
Brench Wybert, from New Orleans."
"Yes, the same woman. There is no doubt that you have been imposed
upon. The thing to do is to drop her quick--she isn't right."
"In what way has my family been imposed upon, Mr. Bines?" asked the
elder Milbrey, somewhat perturbed; "Mrs. Wybert is a lady of family and
"Yes, I know, she has, or did have a while ago, two million dollars in
"Well, Mr. Bines--?"
"Can't you take my word for it, that she's not right--not the woman for
your wife and daughter to meet?"
"Look here, Bines," the younger Milbrey spluttered, "this won't do, you
know. If you've anything to say against Mrs. Wybert, you'll have to say
it out and you'll have to be responsible to me, sir."
"Take my word that you've been imposed upon; she's not--not the kind of
person you would care to know, to be thrown--"
"I and my family have found her quite acceptable, Mr. Bines,"
interposed the father, stiffly. "Her deportment is scrupulously
correct, and I am in her confidence regarding certain very extensive
investments--she cannot be an impostor, sir!"
"But I tell you she isn't right," insisted Percival, warmly.
"Oh, I see," said the younger Milbrey--his face clearing all at once.
"It's all right, dad, come on!"
"If you insist," said Percival, "but none of us can meet her."
"It's all right, dad--I understand--"
"Nor can we know any one who receives her."
"Really, sir," began the elder Milbrey, "your effrontery in assuming to
dictate the visiting list of my family is overwhelming."
"If you won't take my word I shall have to dictate so far as I have any
personal control over it."
"Don't mind him, dad--I know all about it, I tell you--I'll explain
later to you."
"Why," exclaimed Percival, stung to the revelation, "that woman, this
woman now waiting with your wife and daughter, was my--"
"Stop, Mr. Bines--not another word, if you please!" The father raised
his hand in graceful dismissal. "Let this terminate the acquaintance
between our families! No more, sir!" and he turned away, followed by
his son. As they walked out through the grounds and turned up the
street the young man spoke excitedly, while his father slightly bent
his head to listen, with an air of distant dignity.
"What's the trouble, Perce?" asked his sister, as he joined the group
on the piazza.
"The trouble is that we've just had to cut that fine old New York
family off our list."
"What, not the Milbreys!" exclaimed Mrs. Drelmer.
"The same. Now mind, sis, and you, ma--you're not to know them
again--and mind this--if any one else wants to present you to a Mrs.
Wybert--a Mrs. Brench Wybert--don't you let them. Understand?"
"I thought as much," said Mrs. Drelmer; "she acted just the least
little bit _too_ right."
"Well, I haven't my hammer with me--but remember, now, sis, it's for
something else than because her father's cravats were the ready-to-wear
kind, or because her worthy old grandfather inhaled his soup. Don't
"As there isn't anything else to do," he suggested, a few moments
later, "why not get under way and take a run up the coast?"
"But I must get back to my babies," said Mrs. Bines, plaintively. "Here
I've been away four days."
"All right, ma, I suppose we shall have to take you there, only let's
get out of here right away. We can bring sis and you back, Mrs.
Drelmer, when those people we don't know get off again. There's
Mauburn; I'll tell him."
"I'll have my dunnage down directly," said Mauburn.
Up the street driving a pony-cart came Avice Milbrey. Obeying a quick
impulse, Percival stepped to the curb as she came opposite to him. She
pulled over. She was radiant in the fluffs of summer white, her hat and
gown touched with bits of the same vivid blue that shone in her eyes.
The impulse that had prompted him to hail her now prompted wild words.
His long habit of thought concerning her enabled him to master this
foolishness. But at least he could give her a friendly word of warning.
She greeted him with the pretty reserve in her manner that had long
marked her bearing toward him.
"Good-morning! I've borrowed this cart of Elsie Vainer to drive down to
the yacht station for lost mail. Isn't the day perfect--and isn't this
the dearest fat, sleepy pony, with his hair in his eyes?"
"Miss Milbrey, there's a woman who seems to be a friend of your
"Mrs. Wybert; yes, you know her?"
"No, I'd never seen her until last night, nor heard that name until
this morning; but I know of her."
"It became necessary just now--really, it is not fair of me to speak to
you at all--"
"Why, pray?--not fair?"
"I had to tell your father and brother that we could not meet Mrs.
Wybert, and couldn't know any one who received her."
"There! I knew the woman wasn't right directly I heard her speak.
Surely a word to my father was enough."
"But it wasn't, I'm sorry to say. Neither he nor your brother would
take my word, and when I started to give my reasons--something it would
have been very painful for me to do--your father refused to listen, and
declared the acquaintance between our families at an end."
"It hurt me in a way I can't tell you, and now, even this talk with you
is off-side play. Miss Milbrey!"
"I wouldn't have said what I did to your father and brother without
"I am sure of that, Mr. Bines."
"Without reasons I was sure of, you know, so there could be no chance
of any mistake."
"Your word is enough for me, Mr. Bines."
"Miss Milbrey--you and I--there's always been something between
us--something different from what is between most people. We've never
talked straight out since I came to New York--I'll be sorry, perhaps,
for saying as much as I am saying, after awhile--but we may not talk
again at all--I'm afraid you may misunderstand me--but I must say it--I
should like to go away knowing you would have no friendship,--no
intimacy whatever with that woman."
"I promise you I shall not, Mr. Bines; they can row if they like."
"And yet it doesn't seem fair to have you promise as if it were a
consideration for _me_, because I've no right to ask it. But if I felt
sure that you took my word quite as if I were a stranger, and relied
upon it enough to have no communication or intercourse of any sort
whatsoever with her, it would be a great satisfaction to me."
"I shall not meet her again. And--thank you!" There was a slight
unsteadiness once in her voice, and he could almost have sworn her eyes
showed that old brave wistfulness.
"--and quite as if you were a stranger."
"Thank you! and, Miss Milbrey?"
"Your brother may become entangled in some way with this woman."
"It's entirely possible."
Her voice was cool and even again.
"He might even marry her."
"She has money, I believe; he might indeed."
"Always money!" he thought; then aloud:
"If you find he means to, Miss Milbrey, do anything you can to prevent
it. It wouldn't do at all, you know."
"Thank you, Mr. Bines; I shall remember."
"I--I think that's all--and I'm sorry we're not--our families are not
to be friends any more."
She smiled rather painfully, with an obvious effort to be conventional.
"_So_ sorry! Good-bye!"
He looked after her as she drove off. She sat erect, her head straight
to the front, her trim shoulders erect, and the whip grasped firmly. He
stood motionless until the fat pony had jolted sleepily around the
"Bines, old boy!" he said to himself, "you nearly _made_ one of
yourself there. I didn't know you had such ready capabilities for being
A Hot Day in New York, with News of an Interesting Marriage
At five o'clock that day the prow of the _Viluca_ cut the waters of
Newport harbour around Goat Island, and pointed for New York.
"Now is your time," said Mrs. Drelmer to Mauburn. "I'm sure the girl
likes you, and this row with the Milbreys has cut off any chance that
cub had. Why not propose to her to-night?"
"I _have_ seemed to be getting on," answered Mauburn. "But wait a bit.
There's that confounded girl over there. No telling what she'll do. She
might knock things on the head any moment."
"All the more reason for prompt action, and there couldn't very well be
anything to hurt you."
"By Jove! that's so; there couldn't, very well, could there? I'll take
And so it befell that Mauburn and Miss Bines sat late on deck that
night, and under the witchery of a moon that must long since have
become hardened to the spectacle, the old, old story was told, to the
accompaniment of the engine's muffled throb, and the soft purring of
the silver waters as they slipped by the boat and blended with the
creamy track astern. So little variation was there in the time-worn
tale, and in the maid's reception of it, that neither need here be told
of in detail.
Nor were the proceedings next morning less tamely orthodox. Mrs. Bines
managed to forget her relationship of elder sister to the poor long
enough to behave as a mother ought when the heart of her daughter has
been given into a true-love's keeping. Percival deported himself
"I'm really glad to hear it," he said to Mauburn. "I'm sure you'll make
sis as good a husband as she'll make you a wife; and that's very good,
indeed. Let's fracture a cold quart to the future Lady Casselthorpe."
"And to the future Lord Casselthorpe!" added Mrs. Drelmer, who was
"Such a brilliant match," she murmured to Percival, when they had
touched glasses in the after-cabin. "I know more than one New York girl
who'd have jumped at the chance."
"We'll try to bear our honours modestly," he answered her.
The yacht lay at her anchorage in the East River. Percival made
preparations to go ashore with his mother.
"Stay here with the turtle-doves," he said to Mrs. Drelmer, "far enough
off, of course, to let them coo, and I'll be back with any people I can
pick up for a cruise."
"Trust me to contract the visual and aural infirmities of the ideal
chaperone," was Mrs. Drelmer's cheerful response. "And if you should
run across that poor dear of a husband of mine, tell him not to slave
himself to death for his thoughtless butterfly of a wife, who toils
not, neither does she spin. Tell him," she added, "that I'm playing
dragon to this engaged couple. It will cheer up the poor dear."
The city was a fiery furnace. But its prisoners were not exempt from
its heat, like certain holy ones of old. On the dock where Percival and
his mother landed was a listless throng of them, gasping for the faint
little breezes that now and then blew in from the water. A worn woman
with unkempt hair, her waist flung open at the neck, sat in a spot of
shade, and soothed a baby already grown too weak to be fretful. Mrs.
Bines spoke to her, while Percival bought a morning paper from a tiny
newsboy, who held his complete attire under one arm, his papers under
the other, and his pennies in his mouth, keeping meantime a shifty
side-glance on the policeman a block away, who might be expected to
interfere with his contemplated plunge.
"That poor soul's been there all night," said Mrs. Bines. "She's afraid
her baby's going to die; and yet she was so cheerful and polite about
it, and when I gave her some money the poor thing blushed. I told her
to bring the baby down to the floating hospital to-morrow, but I
mistrust it won't be alive, and--oh, there's an ambulance backed up to
the sidewalk; see what the matter is."
As Percival pushed through the outer edge of the crowd, a battered
wreck of a man past middle age was being lifted into the ambulance. His
eyes were closed, his face a dead, chalky white, and his body hung
"Sunstroke?" asked Percival.
The overworked ambulance surgeon, who seemed himself to be in need of
help, looked up.
"Nope; this is a case of plain starvation. I'm nearer sunstroke myself
than he is--not a wink of sleep for two nights now. Fifty-two runs
since yesterday at this time, and the bell still ringing. Gee! but it's
hot. This lad won't ever care about the weather again, though," he
concluded, jumping on to the rear step and grasping the rails on either
side while the driver clanged his gong and started off.
"Was it sunstroke?" asked Mrs. Bines.
"Man with stomach trouble," answered her son, shortly.
"They're so careless about what they eat this hot weather," Mrs. Bines
began, as they walked toward a carriage; "all sorts of heavy foods and
"Well, if you must know, this one had been careless enough not to eat
anything at all. He was starved."
"Oh, dear! What a place! here people are starving, and look at us! Why,
we wasted enough from breakfast to feed a small family. It isn't right.
They never would allow such a thing in Montana City."
They entered the carriage and were driven slowly up a side street where
slovenly women idled in windows and doorways and half-naked children
chased excitedly after the ice-wagons.
"I used to think it wasn't right myself until I learned not to question
the ways of Providence."
"Providence, your grandmother! Look at those poor little mites fighting
for that ice!"
"We have to accept it. It seems to be proof of the Creator's
versatility. It isn't every one who would be nervy enough and original
enough to make a world where people starve to death right beside those
who have too much."