Part 1 out of 3
Produced by Janet Kegg and PG Distributed Proofreaders
VAN BIBBER AND OTHERS
Richard Harding Davis
* * * * *
L. CLARKE DAVIS
WHO HAS BEEN MY KINDEST AND
MY SEVEREST CRITIC
* * * * *
HER FIRST APPEARANCE
VAN BIBBER'S MAN-SERVANT
THE HUNGRY MAN WAS FED
VAN BIBBER AT THE RACES
AN EXPERIMENT IN ECONOMY
MR. TRAVERS'S FIRST HUNT
LOVE ME, LOVE MY DOG
A RECRUIT AT CHRISTMAS
A PATRON OF ART
ANDY M'GEE'S CHORUS GIRL
A LEANDER OF THE EAST RIVER
HOW HEFTY BURKE GOT EVEN
OUTSIDE THE PRISON
AN UNFINISHED STORY
* * * * *
HER FIRST APPEARANCE
It was at the end of the first act of the first night of "The
Sultana," and every member of the Lester Comic Opera Company, from
Lester himself down to the wardrobe woman's son, who would have had to
work if his mother lost her place, was sick with anxiety.
There is perhaps only one other place as feverish as it is behind the
scenes on the first night of a comic opera, and that is a newspaper
office on the last night of a Presidential campaign, when the returns
are being flashed on the canvas outside, and the mob is howling, and
the editor-in-chief is expecting to go to the Court of St. James if
the election comes his way, and the office-boy is betting his wages
that it won't.
Such nights as these try men's souls; but Van Bibber passed the
stage-door man with as calmly polite a nod as though the piece had
been running a hundred nights, and the manager was thinking up
souvenirs for the one hundred and fiftieth, and the prima donna had,
as usual, began to hint for a new set of costumes. The stage-door
keeper hesitated and was lost, and Van Bibber stepped into the
unsuppressed excitement of the place with a pleased sniff at the
familiar smell of paint and burning gas, and the dusty odor that came
from the scene-lofts above.
For a moment he hesitated in the cross-lights and confusion about him,
failing to recognize in their new costumes his old acquaintances of
the company; but he saw Kripps, the stage-manager, in the centre of
the stage, perspiring and in his shirt-sleeves as always, wildly
waving an arm to some one in the flies, and beckoning with the other
to the gas-man in the front entrance. The stage hands were striking
the scene for the first act, and fighting with the set for the second,
and dragging out a canvas floor of tessellated marble, and running a
throne and a practical pair of steps over it, and aiming the high
quaking walls of a palace and abuse at whoever came in their way.
"Now then, Van Bibber," shouted Kripps, with a wild glance of
recognition, as the white-and-black figure came towards him, "you know
you're the only man in New York who gets behind here to-night. But you
can't stay. Lower it, lower it, can't you?" This to the man in the
flies. "Any other night goes, but not this night. I can't have it.
I--Where is the backing for the centre entrance? Didn't I tell you
Van Bibber dodged two stage hands who were steering a scene at him,
stepped over the carpet as it unrolled, and brushed through a group of
anxious, whispering chorus people into the quiet of the star's
The star saw him in the long mirror before which he sat, while his
dresser tugged at his boots, and threw up his hands desperately.
"Well," he cried, in mock resignation, "are we in it or are we not?
Are they in their seats still or have they fled?"
"How are you, John?" said Van Bibber to the dresser. Then he dropped
into a big arm-chair in the corner, and got up again with a protesting
sigh to light his cigar between the wires around the gas-burner. "Oh,
it's going very well. I wouldn't have come around if it wasn't. If the
rest of it is as good as the first act, you needn't worry."
Van Bibber's unchallenged freedom behind the scenes had been a source
of much comment and perplexity to the members of the Lester Comic
Opera Company. He had made his first appearance there during one hot
night of the long run of the previous summer, and had continued to be
an almost nightly visitor for several weeks. At first it was supposed
that he was backing the piece, that he was the "Angel," as those weak
and wealthy individuals are called who allow themselves to be led into
supplying the finances for theatrical experiments. But as he never
peered through the curtain-hole to count the house, nor made frequent
trips to the front of it to look at the box sheet, but was, on the
contrary, just as undisturbed on a rainy night as on those when the
"standing room only" sign blocked the front entrance, this supposition
was discarded as untenable. Nor did he show the least interest in the
prima donna, or in any of the other pretty women of the company; he
did not know them, nor did he make any effort to know them, and it was
not until they inquired concerning him outside of the theatre that
they learned what a figure in the social life of the city he really
was. He spent most of his time in Lester's dressing-room smoking,
listening to the reminiscences of Lester's dresser when Lester was on
the stage; and this seclusion and his clerical attire of evening dress
led the second comedian to call him Lester's father confessor, and to
suggest that he came to the theatre only to take the star to task for
his sins. And in this the second comedian was unknowingly not so very
far wrong. Lester, the comedian, and young Van Bibber had known each
other at the university, when Lester's voice and gift of mimicry had
made him the leader in the college theatricals; and later, when he had
gone upon the stage, and had been cut off by his family even after he
had become famous, or on account of it, Van Bibber had gone to visit
him, and had found him as simple and sincere and boyish as he had been
in the days of his Hasty-Pudding successes. And Lester, for his part,
had found Van Bibber as likable as did every one else, and welcomed
his quiet voice and youthful knowledge of the world as a grateful
relief to the boisterous _camaraderie_ of his professional
acquaintances. And he allowed Van Bibber to scold him, and to remind
him of what he owed to himself, and to touch, even whether it hurt or
not, upon his better side. And in time he admitted to finding his
friend's occasional comments on stage matters of value as coming from
the point of view of those who look on at the game; and even Kripps,
the veteran, regarded him with respect after he had told him that he
could turn a set of purple costumes black by throwing a red light on
them. To the company, after he came to know them, he was gravely
polite, and, to those who knew him if they had overheard, amusingly
commonplace in his conversation. He understood them better than they
did themselves, and made no mistakes. The women smiled on him, but the
men were suspicious and shy of him until they saw that he was quite as
shy of the women; and then they made him a confidant, and told him all
their woes and troubles, and exhibited all their little jealousies and
ambitions, in the innocent hope that he would repeat what they said to
Lester. They were simple, unconventional, light-hearted folk, and Van
Bibber found them vastly more entertaining and preferable to the
silence of the deserted club, where the matting was down, and from
whence the regular _habitues_ had departed to the other side or to
Newport. He liked the swing of the light, bright music as it came to
him through the open door of the dressing-room, and the glimpse he
got of the chorus people crowding and pushing for a quick charge up
the iron stairway, and the feverish smell of oxygen in the air, and
the picturesque disorder of Lester's wardrobe, and the wigs and
swords, and the mysterious articles of make-up, all mixed together on
a tray with half-finished cigars and autograph books and newspaper
And he often wished he was clever enough to be an artist with the
talent to paint the unconsciously graceful groups in the sharply
divided light and shadow of the wings as he saw them. The brilliantly
colored, fantastically clothed girls leaning against the bare brick
wall of the theatre, or whispering together in circles, with their
arms close about one another, or reading apart and solitary, or
working at some piece of fancy-work as soberly as though they were in
a rocking-chair in their own flat, and not leaning against a scene
brace, with the glare of the stage and the applause of the house just
behind them. He liked to watch them coquetting with the big fireman
detailed from the precinct engine-house, and clinging desperately to
the curtain wire, or with one of the chorus men on the stairs, or
teasing the phlegmatic scene-shifters as they tried to catch a
minute's sleep on a pile of canvas. He even forgave the prima donna's
smiling at him from the stage, as he stood watching her from the
wings, and smiled back at her with polite cynicism, as though he did
not know and she did not know that her smiles were not for him, but
to disturb some more interested one in the front row. And so, in time,
the company became so well accustomed to him that he moved in and
about as unnoticed as the stage-manager himself, who prowled around
hissing "hush" on principle, even though he was the only person who
could fairly be said to be making a noise.
The second act was on, and Lester came off the stage and ran to the
dressing-room and beckoned violently. "Come here," he said; "you ought
to see this; the children are doing their turn. You want to hear them.
Van Bibber put his cigar into a tumbler and stepped out into the
wings. They were crowded on both sides of the stage with the members
of the company; the girls were tiptoeing, with their hands on the
shoulders of the men, and making futile little leaps into the air to
get a better view, and others were resting on one knee that those
behind might see over their shoulders. There were over a dozen
children before the footlights, with the prima donna in the centre.
She was singing the verses of a song, and they were following her
movements, and joining in the chorus with high piping voices. They
seemed entirely too much at home and too self-conscious to please Van
Bibber; but there was one exception. The one exception was the
smallest of them, a very, very little girl, with long auburn hair and
black eyes; such a very little girl that every one in the house
looked at her first, and then looked at no one else. She was
apparently as unconcerned to all about her, excepting the pretty prima
donna, as though she were by a piano at home practising a singing
lesson. She seemed to think it was some new sort of a game. When the
prima donna raised her arms, the child raised hers; when the prima
donna courtesied, she stumbled into one, and straightened herself just
in time to get the curls out of her eyes, and to see that the prima
donna was laughing at her, and to smile cheerfully back, as if to say,
"_We_ are doing our best anyway, aren't we?" She had big, gentle eyes
and two wonderful dimples, and in the excitement of the dancing and
the singing her eyes laughed and flashed, and the dimples deepened and
disappeared and reappeared again. She was as happy and innocent
looking as though it were nine in the morning and she were playing
school at a kindergarten. From all over the house the women were
murmuring their delight, and the men were laughing and pulling their
mustaches and nudging each other to "look at the littlest one."
The girls in the wings were rapturous in their enthusiasm, and were
calling her absurdly extravagant titles of endearment, and making so
much noise that Kripps stopped grinning at her from the entrance, and
looked back over his shoulder as he looked when he threatened fines
and calls for early rehearsal. And when she had finished finally, and
the prima donna and the children ran off together, there was a roar
from the house that went to Lester's head like wine, and seemed to
leap clear across the footlights and drag the children back again.
"That settles it!" cried Lester, in a suppressed roar of triumph. "I
knew that child would catch them."
There were four encores, and then the children and Elise Broughten,
the pretty prima donna, came off jubilant and happy, with the Littlest
Girl's arms full of flowers, which the management had with kindly
forethought prepared for the prima donna, but which that delightful
young person and the delighted leader of the orchestra had passed over
to the little girl.
"Well," gasped Miss Broughten, as she came up to Van Bibber laughing,
and with one hand on her side and breathing very quickly, "will you
kindly tell me who is the leading woman now? Am I the prima donna, or
am I not? I wasn't in it, was I?"
"You were not," said Van Bibber.
He turned from the pretty prima donna and hunted up the wardrobe
woman, and told her he wanted to meet the Littlest Girl. And the
wardrobe woman, who was fluttering wildly about, and as delighted as
though they were all her own children, told him to come into the
property-room, where the children were, and which had been changed
into a dressing-room that they might be by themselves. The six little
girls were in six different states of dishabille, but they were too
little to mind that, and Van Bibber was too polite to observe it.
"This is the little girl, sir," said the wardrobe woman, excitedly,
proud at being the means of bringing together two such prominent
people. "Her name is Madeline. Speak to the gentleman, Madeline; he
wants to tell you what a great big hit youse made."
The little girl was seated on one of the cushions of a double throne
so high from the ground that the young woman who was pulling off the
child's silk stockings and putting woollen ones on in their place did
so without stooping. The young woman looked at Van Bibber and nodded
somewhat doubtfully and ungraciously, and Van Bibber turned to the
little girl in preference. The young woman's face was one of a type
that was too familiar to be pleasant.
He took the Littlest Girl's small hand in his and shook it solemnly,
and said, "I am very glad to know you. Can I sit up here beside you,
or do you rule alone?"
"Yes, ma'am--yes, sir," answered the little girl.
Van Bibber put his hands on the arms of the throne and vaulted up
beside the girl, and pulled out the flower in his button-hole and gave
it to her.
"Now," prompted the wardrobe woman, "what do you say to the
"Thank you, sir," stammered the little girl.
"She is not much used to gentlemen's society," explained the woman who
was pulling on the stockings.
"I see," said Van Bibber. He did not know exactly what to say next.
And yet he wanted to talk to the child very much, so much more than he
generally wanted to talk to most young women, who showed no hesitation
in talking to him. With them he had no difficulty whatsoever. There
was a doll lying on the top of a chest near them, and he picked this
up and surveyed it critically. "Is this your doll?" he asked.
"No," said Madeline, pointing to one of the children, who was much
taller than herself; "it's 'at 'ittle durl's. My doll he's dead."
"Dear me!" said Van Bibber. He made a mental note to get a live one in
the morning, and then he said: "That's very sad. But dead dolls do
come to life."
The little girl looked up at him, and surveyed him intently and
critically, and then smiled, with the dimples showing, as much as to
say that she understood him and approved of him entirely. Van Bibber
answered this sign language by taking Madeline's hand in his and
asking her how she liked being a great actress, and how soon she would
begin to storm because _that_ photographer hadn't sent the proofs. The
young woman understood this, and deigned to smile at it, but Madeline
yawned a very polite and sleepy yawn, and closed her eyes. Van Bibber
moved up closer, and she leaned over until her bare shoulder touched
his arm, and while the woman buttoned on her absurdly small shoes, she
let her curly head fall on his elbow and rest there. Any number of
people had shown confidence in Van Bibber--not in that form exactly,
but in the same spirit--and though he was used to being trusted, he
felt a sharp thrill of pleasure at the touch of the child's head on
his arm, and in the warm clasp of her fingers around his. And he was
conscious of a keen sense of pity and sorrow for her rising in him,
which he crushed by thinking that it was entirely wasted, and that the
child was probably perfectly and ignorantly happy.
"Look at that, now," said the wardrobe woman, catching sight of the
child's closed eyelids; "just look at the rest of the little dears,
all that excited they can't stand still to get their hats on, and she
just as unconcerned as you please, and after making the hit of the
"She's not used to it, you see," said the young woman, knowingly; "she
don't know what it means. It's just that much play to her."
This last was said with a questioning glance at Van Bibber, in whom
she still feared to find the disguised agent of a Children's Aid
Society. Van Bibber only nodded in reply, and did not answer her,
because he found he could not very well, for he was looking a long way
ahead at what the future was to bring to the confiding little being at
his side, and of the evil knowledge and temptations that would mar
the beauty of her quaintly sweet face, and its strange mark of
gentleness and refinement. Outside he could bear his friend Lester
shouting the refrain of his new topical song, and the laughter and the
hand-clapping came in through the wings and open door, broken but
"Does she come of professional people?" Van Bibber asked, dropping
into the vernacular. He spoke softly, not so much that he might not
disturb the child, but that she might not understand what he said.
"Yes," the woman answered, shortly, and bent her head to smooth out
the child's stage dress across her knees.
Van Bibber touched the little girl's head with his hand and found that
she was asleep, and so let his hand rest there, with the curls between
his fingers. "Are--are you her mother?" he asked, with a slight
inclination of his head. He felt quite confident she was not; at
least, he hoped not.
The woman shook her head. "No," she said.
"Who is her mother?"
The woman looked at the sleeping child and then up at him almost
defiantly. "Ida Clare was her mother," she said.
Van Bibber's protecting hand left the child as suddenly as though
something had burned it, and he drew back so quickly that her head
slipped from his arm, and she awoke and raised her eyes and looked up
at him questioningly. He looked back at her with a glance of the
strangest concern and of the deepest pity. Then he stooped and drew
her towards him very tenderly, put her head back in the corner of his
arm, and watched her in silence while she smiled drowsily and went to
"And who takes care of her now?" he asked.
The woman straightened herself and seemed relieved. She saw that the
stranger had recognized the child's pedigree and knew her story, and
that he was not going to comment on it. "I do," she said. "After the
divorce Ida came to me," she said, speaking more freely. "I used to be
in her company when she was doing 'Aladdin,' and then when I left the
stage and started to keep an actors' boarding-house, she came to me.
She lived on with us a year, until she died, and she made me the
guardian of the child. I train children for the stage, you know, me
and my sister, Ada Dyer; you've heard of her, I guess. The courts pay
us for her keep, but it isn't much, and I'm expecting to get what I
spent on her from what she makes on the stage. Two of them other
children are my pupils; but they can't touch Madie. She is a better
dancer an' singer than any of them. If it hadn't been for the Society
keeping her back, she would have been on the stage two years ago.
She's great, she is. She'll be just as good as her mother was."
Van Bibber gave a little start, and winced visibly, but turned it off
into a cough. "And her father," he said, hesitatingly, "does he--"
"Her father," said the woman, tossing back her head, "he looks after
himself, he does. We don't ask no favors of _him_. She'll get along
without him or his folks, thank you. Call him a gentleman? Nice
gentleman he is!" Then she stopped abruptly. "I guess, though, you
know him," she added. "Perhaps he's a friend of yourn?"
"I just know him," said Van Bibber, wearily.
He sat with the child asleep beside him while the woman turned to the
others and dressed them for the third act. She explained that Madie
would not appear in the last act, only the two larger girls, so she
let her sleep, with the cape of Van Bibber's cloak around her.
Van Bibber sat there for several long minutes thinking, and then
looked up quickly, and dropped his eyes again as quickly, and said,
with an effort to speak quietly and unconcernedly: "If the little girl
is not on in this act, would you mind if I took her home? I have a cab
at the stage-door, and she's so sleepy it seems a pity to keep her up.
The sister you spoke of or some one could put her to bed."
"Yes," the woman said, doubtfully, "Ada's home. Yes, you can take her
around, if you want to."
She gave him the address, and he sprang down to the floor, and
gathered the child up in his arms and stepped out on the stage. The
prima donna had the centre of it to herself at that moment, and all
the rest of the company were waiting to go on; but when they saw the
little girl in Van Bibber's arms they made a rush at her, and the
girls leaned over and kissed her with a great show of rapture and with
many gasps of delight.
"Don't," said Van Bibber, he could not tell just why. "Don't."
"Why not?" asked one of the girls, looking up at him sharply.
"She was asleep; you've wakened her," he said, gently.
But he knew that was not the reason. He stepped into the cab at the
stage entrance, and put the child carefully down in one corner. Then
he looked back over his shoulder to see that there was no one near
enough to hear him, and said to the driver, "To the Berkeley Flats, on
Fifth Avenue." He picked the child up gently in his arms as the
carriage started, and sat looking out thoughtfully and anxiously as
they flashed past the lighted shop-windows on Broadway. He was far
from certain of this errand, and nervous with doubt, but he reassured
himself that he was acting on impulse, and that his impulses were so
often good. The hall-boy at the Berkeley said, yes, Mr. Caruthers was
in, and Van Bibber gave a quick sigh of relief. He took this as an
omen that his impulse was a good one. The young English servant who
opened the hall door to Mr. Caruthers's apartment suppressed his
surprise with an effort, and watched Van Bibber with alarm as he laid
the child on the divan in the hall, and pulled a covert coat from the
rack to throw over her.
"Just say Mr. Van Bibber would like to see him," he said, "and you
need not speak of the little girl having come with me."
She was still sleeping, and Van Bibber turned down the light in the
hall, and stood looking down at her gravely while the servant went to
speak to his master.
"Will you come this way, please, sir?" he said.
"You had better stay out here," said Van Bibber, "and come and tell me
if she wakes."
Mr. Caruthers was standing by the mantel over the empty fireplace,
wrapped in a long, loose dressing-gown which he was tying around him
as Van Bibber entered. He was partly undressed, and had been just on
the point of getting into bed. Mr. Caruthers was a tall, handsome man,
with dark reddish hair, turning below the temples into gray; his
moustache was quite white, and his eyes and face showed the signs of
either dissipation or of great trouble, or of both. But even in the
formless dressing-gown he had the look and the confident bearing of a
gentleman, or, at least, of the man of the world. The room was very
rich-looking, and was filled with the medley of a man's choice of good
paintings and fine china, and papered with irregular rows of original
drawings and signed etchings. The windows were open, and the lights
were turned very low, so that Van Bibber could see the many gas lamps
and the dark roofs of Broadway and the Avenue where they crossed a few
blocks off, and the bunches of light on the Madison Square Garden, and
to the lights on the boats of the East River. From below in the
streets came the rattle of hurrying omnibuses and the rush of the
hansom cabs. If Mr. Caruthers was surprised at this late visit, he hid
it, and came forward to receive his caller as if his presence were
"Excuse my costume, will you?" he said. "I turned in rather early
to-night, it was so hot." He pointed to a decanter and some soda
bottles on the table and a bowl of ice, and asked, "Will you have some
of this?" And while he opened one of the bottles, he watched Van
Bibber's face as though he were curious to have him explain the object
of his visit.
"No, I think not, thank you," said the younger man. He touched his
forehead with his handkerchief nervously. "Yes, it is hot," he said.
Mr. Caruthers filled a glass with ice and brandy and soda, and walked
back to his place by the mantel, on which he rested his arm, while he
clinked the ice in the glass and looked down into it.
"I was at the first night of 'The Sultana' this evening," said Van
Bibber, slowly and uncertainly.
"Oh, yes," assented the elder man, politely, and tasting his drink.
"Lester's new piece. Was it any good?"
"I don't know," said Van Bibber. "Yes, I think it was. I didn't see it
from the front. There were a lot of children in it--little ones; they
danced and sang, and made a great hit. One of them had never been on
the stage before. It was her first appearance."
He was turning one of the glasses around between his fingers as he
spoke. He stopped, and poured out some of the soda, and drank it down
in a gulp, and then continued turning the empty glass between the tips
of his fingers.
"It seems to me," he said, "that it is a great pity." He looked up
interrogatively at the other man, but Mr. Caruthers met his glance
without any returning show of interest. "I say," repeated Van
Bibber--"I say it seems a pity that a child like that should be
allowed to go on in that business. A grown woman can go into it with
her eyes open, or a girl who has had decent training can too. But it's
different with a child. She has no choice in the matter; they don't
ask her permission; and she isn't old enough to know what it means;
and she gets used to it and fond of it before she grows to know what
the danger is. And then it's too late. It seemed to me that if there
was any one who had a right to stop it, it would be a very good thing
to let that person know about her--about this child, I mean; the one
who made the hit--before it was too late. It seems to me a
responsibility I wouldn't care to take myself. I wouldn't care to
think that I had the chance to stop it, and had let the chance go by.
You know what the life is, and what the temptation a woman--" Van
Bibber stopped with a gasp of concern, and added, hurriedly, "I mean
we all know--every man knows."
Mr. Caruthers was looking at him with his lips pressed closely
together, and his eyebrows drawn into the shape of the letter V. He
leaned forward, and looked at Van Bibber intently.
"What is all this about?" he asked. "Did you come here, Mr. Van
Bibber, simply to tell me this? What have you to do with it? What have
I to do with it? Why did you come?"
"Because of the child."
"Your child." said Van Bibber.
Young Van Bibber was quite prepared for an outbreak of some sort, and
mentally braced himself to receive it. He rapidly assured himself that
this man had every reason to be angry, and that he, if he meant to
accomplish anything, had every reason to be considerate and patient.
So he faced Mr. Caruthers with shoulders squared, as though it were a
physical shock he had to stand against, and in consequence he was
quite unprepared for what followed. For Mr. Caruthers raised his face
without a trace of feeling in it, and, with his eyes still fixed on
the glass in his hand, set it carefully down on the mantel beside
him, and girded himself about with the rope of his robe. When he
spoke, it was in a tone of quiet politeness.
"Mr. Van Bibber," he began, "you are a very brave young man. You have
dared to say to me what those who are my best friends--what even my
own family would not care to say. They are afraid it might hurt me, I
suppose. They have some absurd regard for my feelings; they hesitate
to touch upon a subject which in no way concerns them, and which they
know must be very painful to me. But you have the courage of your
convictions; you have no compunctions about tearing open old wounds;
and you come here, unasked and uninvited, to let me know what you
think of my conduct, to let me understand that it does not agree with
your own ideas of what I ought to do, and to tell me how I, who am old
enough to be your father, should behave. You have rushed in where
angels fear to tread, Mr. Van Bibber, to show me the error of my ways.
I suppose I ought to thank you for it; but I have always said that it
is not the wicked people who are to be feared in this world, or who do
the most harm. We know them; we can prepare for them, and checkmate
them. It is the well-meaning fool who makes all the trouble. For no
one knows him until he discloses himself, and the mischief is done
before he can be stopped. I think, if you will allow me to say so,
that you have demonstrated my theory pretty thoroughly and have done
about as much needless harm for one evening as you can possibly wish.
And so, if you will excuse me," he continued, sternly, and moving from
his place, "I will ask to say good-night, and will request of you that
you grow older and wiser and much more considerate before you come to
see me again."
Van Bibber had flushed at Mr. Caruthers's first words, and had then
grown somewhat pale, and straightened himself visibly. He did not move
when the elder man had finished, but cleared his throat, and then
spoke with some little difficulty. "It is very easy to call a man a
fool," he said, slowly, "but it is much harder to be called a fool and
not to throw the other man out of the window. But that, you see, would
not do any good, and I have something to say to you first. I am quite
clear in my own mind as to my position, and I am not going to allow
anything you have said or can say to annoy me much until I am through.
There will be time enough to resent it then. I am quite well aware
that I did an unconventional thing in coming here--a bold thing or a
foolish thing, as you choose--but the situation is pretty bad, and I
did as I would have wished to be done by if I had had a child going to
the devil and didn't know it. I should have been glad to learn of it
even from a stranger. However," he said, smiling grimly, and pulling
his cape about him, "there are other kindly disposed people in the
world besides fathers. There is an aunt, perhaps, or an uncle or two;
and sometimes, even to-day, there is the chance Samaritan."
Van Bibber picked up his high hat from the table, looked into it
critically, and settled it on his head. "Good-night," he said, and
walked slowly towards the door. He had his hand on the knob, when Mr.
Caruthers raised his head.
"Wait just one minute, please, Mr. Van Bibber?" asked Mr. Caruthers.
Van Bibber stopped with a prompt obedience which would have led one to
conclude that be might have put on his hat only to precipitate
"Before you go," said Mr. Caruthers, grudgingly, "I want to say--I
want you to understand my position."
"Oh, that's all right," said Van Bibber, lightly, opening the door.
"No, it is not all right. One moment, please. I do not intend that you
shall go away from here with the idea that you have tried to do me a
service, and that I have been unable to appreciate it, and that you
are a much-abused and much-misunderstood young man. Since you have
done me the honor to make my affairs your business, I would prefer
that you should understand them fully. I do not care to have you
discuss my conduct at clubs and afternoon teas with young women until
Van Bibber drew in his breath sharply, with a peculiar whistling
sound, and opened and shut his hands. "Oh, I wouldn't say that if I
were you," he said, simply.
"I beg your pardon," the older man said, quickly. "That was a mistake.
I was wrong. I beg your pardon. But you have tried me very sorely. You
have intruded upon a private trouble that you ought to know must be
very painful to me. But I believe you meant well. I know you to be a
gentleman, and I am willing to think you acted on impulse, and that
you will see to-morrow what a mistake you have made. It is not a thing
I talk about; I do not speak of it to my friends, and they are far too
considerate to speak of it to me. But you have put me on the
defensive. You have made me out more or less of a brute, and I don't
intend to be so far misunderstood. There are two sides to every story,
and there is something to be said about this, even for me."
He walked back to his place beside the mantel, and put his shoulders
against it, and faced Van Bibber, with his fingers twisted in the cord
around his waist.
"When I married," said Mr. Caruthers, "I did so against the wishes of
my people and the advice of all my friends. You know all about that.
God help us! who doesn't?" he added, bitterly. "It was very rich, rare
reading for you and for every one else who saw the daily papers, and
we gave them all they wanted of it. I took her out of that life and
married her because I believed she was as good a woman as any of those
who had never had to work for their living, and I was bound that my
friends and your friends should recognize her and respect her as my
wife had a right to be respected; and I took her abroad that I might
give all you sensitive, fine people a chance to get used to the idea
of being polite to a woman who had once been a burlesque actress. It
began over there in Paris. What I went through then no one knows; but
when I came back--and I would never have come back if she had not made
me--it was my friends I had to consider, and not her. It was in the
blood; it was in the life she had led, and in the life men like you
and me had taught her to live. And it had to come out."
The muscles of Mr. Caruthers's face were moving, and beyond his
control; but Van Bibber did not see this, for he was looking intently
out of the window, over the roofs of the city.
"She had every chance when she married me that a woman ever had,"
continued the older man. "It only depended on herself. I didn't try to
make a housewife of her or a drudge. She had all the healthy
excitement and all the money she wanted, and she had a home here ready
for her whenever she was tired of travelling about and wished to
settle down. And I was--and a husband that loved her as--she had
everything. Everything that a man's whole thought and love and money
could bring to her. And you know what she did."
He looked at Van Bibber, but Van Bibber's eyes were still turned
towards the open window and the night.
"And after the divorce--and she was free to go where she pleased, and
to live as she pleased and with whom she pleased, without bringing
disgrace on a husband who honestly loved her--I swore to my God that I
would never see her nor her child again. And I never saw her again,
not even when she died. I loved the mother, and she deceived me and
disgraced me and broke my heart, and I only wish she had killed me;
and I was beginning to love her child, and I vowed she should not live
to trick me too. I had suffered as no man I know had suffered; in a
way a boy like you cannot understand, and that no one can understand
who has not gone to hell and been forced to live after it. And was I
to go through that again? Was I to love and care for and worship this
child, and have her grow up with all her mother's vanity and animal
nature, and have her turn on me some day and show me that what is bred
in the bone must tell, and that I was a fool again--a pitiful fond
fool? I could not trust her. I can never trust any woman or child
again, and least of all that woman's child. She is as dead to me as
though she were buried with her mother, and it is nothing to me what
she is or what her life is. I know in time what it will be. She has
begun earlier than I had supposed, that is all; but she is nothing to
me." The man stopped and turned his back to Van Bibber, and hid his
head in his hands, with his elbows on the mantel-piece. "I care too
much," he said. "I cannot let it mean anything to me; when I do care,
it means so much more to me than to other men. They may pretend to
laugh and to forget and to outgrow it, but it is not so with me. It
means too much." He took a quick stride towards one of the arm-chairs,
and threw himself into it. "Why, man," he cried, "I loved that child's
mother to the day of her death. I loved that woman then, and, God help
me! I love that woman still."
He covered his face with his hands, and sat leaning forward and
breathing heavily as he rocked himself to and fro. Van Bibber still
stood looking gravely out at the lights that picketed the black
surface of the city. He was to all appearances as unmoved by the
outburst of feeling into which the older man had been surprised as
though it had been something in a play. There was an unbroken silence
for a moment, and then it was Van Bibber who was the first to speak.
"I came here, as you say, on impulse," he said; "but I am glad I came,
for I have your decisive answer now about the little girl. I have
been thinking," he continued, slowly, "since you have been speaking,
and before, when I first saw her dancing in front of the footlights,
when I did not know who she was, that I could give up a horse or
two, if necessary, and support this child instead. Children are
worth more than horses, and a man who saves a soul, as it says"--he
flushed slightly, and looked up with a hesitating, deprecatory
smile--"somewhere, wipes out a multitude of sins. And it may be I'd
like to try and get rid of some of mine. I know just where to send
her; I know the very place. It's down in Evergreen Bay, on Long
Island. They are tenants of mine there, and very nice farm sort of
people, who will be very good to her. They wouldn't know anything
about her, and she'd forget what little she knows of this present life
very soon, and grow up with the other children to be one of them; and
then, when she gets older and becomes a young lady, she could go to
some school--but that's a bit too far ahead to plan for the present;
but that's what I am going to do, though," said the young man,
confidently, and as though speaking to himself. "That theatrical
boarding-house person could be bought off easily enough," he went on,
quickly, "and Lester won't mind letting her go if I ask it, and--and
that's what I'll do. As you say, it's a good deal of an experiment,
but I think I'll run the risk."
He walked quickly to the door and disappeared in the hall, and then
came back, kicking the door open as he returned, and holding the child
in his arms.
"This is she," he said, quietly. He did not look at or notice the
father, but stood, with the child asleep in the bend of his left arm,
gazing down at her. "This is she," he repeated; "this is your child."
There was something cold and satisfied in Van Bibber's tone and
manner, as though he were congratulating himself upon the engaging of
a new groom; something that placed the father entirely outside of it.
He might have been a disinterested looker-on.
"She will need to be fed a bit," Van Bibber ran on, cheerfully. "They
did not treat her very well, I fancy. She is thin and peaked and
tired-looking." He drew up the loose sleeve of her jacket, and showed
the bare forearm to the light. He put his thumb and little finger
about it, and closed them on it gently. "It is very thin," he said.
"And under her eyes, if it were not for the paint," he went on,
mercilessly, "you could see how deep the lines are. This red spot on
her cheek," he said, gravely, "is where Mary Vane kissed her to-night,
and this is where Alma Stantley kissed her, and that Lee girl. You
have heard of them, perhaps. They will never kiss her again. She is
going to grow up a sweet, fine, beautiful woman--are you not?" he
said, gently drawing the child higher up on his shoulder, until her
face touched his, and still keeping his eyes from the face of the
older man. "She does not look like her mother," he said; "she has her
father's auburn hair and straight nose and finer-cut lips and chin.
She looks very much like her father. It seems a pity," he added,
abruptly. "She will grow up," he went on, "without knowing him, or
who he is--or was, if he should die. She will never speak with him, or
see him, or take his hand. She may pass him some day on the street and
will not know him, and he will not know her, but she will grow to be
very fond and to be very grateful to the simple, kind-hearted old
people who will have cared for her when she was a little girl."
The child in his arms stirred, shivered slightly, and awoke. The two
men watched her breathlessly, with silent intentness. She raised her
head and stared around the unfamiliar room doubtfully, then turned to
where her father stood, looking at him a moment, and passed him by;
and then, looking up into Van Bibber's face, recognized him, and gave
a gentle, sleepy smile, and, with a sigh of content and confidence,
drew her arm up closer around his neck, and let her head fall back
upon his breast.
The father sprang to his feet with a quick, jealous gasp of pain.
"Give her to me!" he said, fiercely, under his breath, snatching her
out of Van Bibber's arms. "She is mine; give her to me!"
Van Bibber closed the door gently behind him, and went jumping down
the winding stairs of the Berkeley three steps at a time.
And an hour later, when the English servant came to his master's door,
he found him still awake and sitting in the dark by the open window,
holding something in his arms and looking out over the sleeping city.
"James," he said, "you can make up a place for me here on the lounge.
Miss Caruthers, my daughter, will sleep in my room to-night."
VAN BIBBER'S MAN-SERVANT
Van Bibber's man Walters was the envy and admiration of his friends.
He was English, of course, and he had been trained in the household of
the Marquis Bendinot, and had travelled, in his younger days, as the
valet of young Lord Upton. He was now rather well on in years,
although it would have been impossible to say just how old he was.
Walters had a dignified and repellent air about him, and he brushed
his hair in such a way as to conceal his baldness.
And when a smirking, slavish youth with red cheeks and awkward
gestures turned up in Van Bibber's livery, his friends were naturally
surprised, and asked how he had come to lose Walters. Van Bibber could
not say exactly, at least he could not rightly tell whether he had
dismissed Walters or Walters had dismissed himself. The facts of the
unfortunate separation were like this:
Van Bibber gave a great many dinners during the course of the season
at Delmonico's, dinners hardly formal enough to require a private
room, and yet too important to allow of his running the risk of
keeping his guests standing in the hall waiting for a vacant table.
So he conceived the idea of sending Walters over about half-past six
to keep a table for him. As everybody knows, you can hold a table
yourself at Delmonico's for any length of time until the other guests
arrive, but the rule is very strict about servants. Because, as the
head waiter will tell you, if servants were allowed to reserve a table
during the big rush at seven o'clock, why not messenger boys? And it
would certainly never do to have half a dozen large tables securely
held by minute messengers while the hungry and impatient waited their
turn at the door.
But Walters looked as much like a gentleman as did many of the diners;
and when he seated himself at the largest table and told the waiter to
serve for a party of eight or ten; he did it with such an air that the
head waiter came over himself and took the orders. Walters knew quite
as much about ordering a dinner as did his master; and when Van Bibber
was too tired to make out the menu, Walters would look over the card
himself and order the proper wines and side dishes; and with such a
carelessly severe air and in such a masterly manner did he discharge
this high function that the waiters looked upon him with much respect.
But respect even from your equals and the satisfaction of having your
fellow-servants mistake you for a member of the Few Hundred are not
enough. Walters wanted more. He wanted the further satisfaction of
enjoying the delicious dishes he had ordered; of sitting as a coequal
with the people for whom he had kept a place; of completing the
deception he practised only up to the point where it became most
It certainly was trying to have to rise with a subservient and
unobtrusive bow and glide out unnoticed by the real guests when they
arrived; to have to relinquish the feast just when the feast should
begin. It would not be pleasant, certainly, to sit for an hour at a
big empty table, ordering dishes fit only for epicures, and then, just
as the waiters bore down with the Little Neck clams, so nicely iced
and so cool and bitter-looking, to have to rise and go out into the
street to a _table d'hote_ around the corner.
This was Walters's state of mind when Mr. Van Bibber told him for the
hundredth time to keep a table for him for three at Delmonico's.
Walters wrapped his severe figure in a frock-coat and brushed his
hair, and allowed himself the dignity of a walking-stick. He would
have liked to act as a substitute in an evening dress-suit, but Van
Bibber would not have allowed it. So Walters walked over to
Delmonico's and took a table near a window, and said that the other
gentlemen would arrive later. Then he looked at his watch and ordered
the dinner. It was just the sort of dinner he would have ordered had
he ordered it for himself at some one else's expense. He suggested
Little Neck clams first, with chablis, and pea-soup, and caviare on
toast, before the oyster crabs, with Johannisberger Cabinet; then an
_entree_ of calves' brains and rice; then no roast, but a bird, cold
asparagus with French dressing, Camembert cheese, and Turkish coffee.
As there were to be no women, he omitted the sweets and added three
other wines to follow the white wine. It struck him as a particularly
well-chosen dinner, and the longer he sat and thought about it the
more he wished he were to test its excellence. And then the people all
around him were so bright and happy, and seemed to be enjoying what
they had ordered with such a refinement of zest that he felt he would
give a great deal could he just sit there as one of them for a brief
At that moment the servant deferentially handed him a note which a
messenger boy had brought. It said:
"Dinner off called out town send clothes and things after me to
Young's Boston. VAN BIBBER."
Walter rose involuntarily, and then sat still to think about it. He
would have to countermand the dinner which he had ordered over half an
hour before, and he would have to explain who he was to those other
servants who had always regarded him as such a great gentleman. It was
And then Walters was tempted. He was a very good servant, and he knew
his place as only an English servant can, and he had always accepted
it, but to-night he was tempted--and he fell. He met the waiter's
anxious look with a grave smile.
"The other gentlemen will not be with me to-night," he said, glancing
at the note. "But I will dine here as I intended. You can serve for
That was perhaps the proudest night in the history of Walters. He had
always felt that he was born out of his proper sphere, and to-night he
was assured of it. He was a little nervous at first, lest some of Van
Bibber's friends should come in and recognize him; but as the dinner
progressed and the warm odor of the dishes touched his sense, and the
rich wines ran through his veins, and the women around him smiled and
bent and moved like beautiful birds of beautiful plumage, he became
content, grandly content; and he half closed his eyes and imagined he
was giving a dinner to everybody in the place. Vain and idle thoughts
came to him and went again, and he eyed the others about him calmly
and with polite courtesy, as they did him, and he felt that if he must
later pay for this moment it was worth the paying.
Then he gave the waiter a couple of dollars out of his own pocket and
wrote Van Bibber's name on the check, and walked in state into the
_cafe_, where he ordered a green mint and a heavy, black, and
expensive cigar, and seated himself at the window, where he felt that
he should always have sat if the fates had been just. The smoke hung
in light clouds about him, and the lights shone and glistened on the
white cloths and the broad shirt-fronts of the smart young men and
distinguished foreign-looking older men at the surrounding tables.
And then, in the midst of his dreamings, he heard the soft, careless
drawl of his master, which sounded at that time and in that place like
the awful voice of a condemning judge. Van Bibber pulled out a chair
and dropped into it. His side was towards Walters, so that he did not
see him. He had some men with him, and he was explaining how he had
missed his train and had come back to find that one of the party had
eaten the dinner without him, and he wondered who it could be; and
then turning easily in his seat he saw Walters with the green mint and
the cigar, trembling behind a copy of the London _Graphic_.
"Walters!" said Van Bibber, "what are you doing here?"
Walters looked his guilt and rose stiffly. He began with a feeble "If
you please, sir--"
"Go back to my rooms and wait for me there," said Van Bibber, who was
too decent a fellow to scold a servant in public.
Walters rose and left the half-finished cigar and the mint with the
ice melting in it on the table. His one evening of sublimity was over,
and he walked away, bending before the glance of his young master and
the smiles of his master's friends.
When Van Bibber came back he found on his dressing-table a note from
Walters stating that he could not, of course, expect to remain longer
in his service, and that he left behind him the twenty-eight dollars
which the dinner had cost.
"If he had only gone off with all my waistcoats and scarf-pins, I'd
have liked it better," said Van Bibber, "than his leaving me cash
for infernal dinner. Why, a servant like Walters is worth
twenty-eight-dollar dinners--twice a day."
THE HUNGRY MAN WAS FED
Young Van Bibber broke one of his rules of life one day and came
down-town. This unusual journey into the marts of trade and finance
was in response to a call from his lawyer, who wanted his signature to
some papers. It was five years since Van Bibber had been south of the
north side of Washington Square, except as a transient traveller to
the ferries on the elevated road. And as he walked through the City
Hall Square he looked about him at the new buildings in the air, and
the bustle and confusion of the streets, with as much interest as a
lately arrived immigrant.
He rather enjoyed the novelty of the situation, and after he had
completed his business at the lawyer's office he tried to stroll along
lower Broadway as he did on the Avenue.
But people bumped against him, and carts and drays tried to run him
down when he crossed the side streets, and those young men whom he
knew seemed to be in a great hurry, and expressed such amused surprise
at seeing him that he felt very much out of place indeed. And so he
decided to get back to his club window and its quiet as soon as
"Hello, Van Bibber," said one of the young men who were speeding by,
"what brings you here? Have you lost your way?"
"I think I have," said Van Bibber. "If you'll kindly tell me how I can
get back to civilization again, be obliged to you."
"Take the elevated from Park Place," said his friend from over his
shoulder, as he nodded and dived into the crowd.
The visitor from up-town had not a very distinct idea as to where Park
Place was, but he struck off Broadway and followed the line of the
elevated road along Church Street. It was at the corner of Vesey
Street that a miserable-looking, dirty, and red-eyed object stood
still in his tracks and begged Van Bibber for a few cents to buy food.
"I've come all the way from Chicago," said the Object, "and I haven't
tasted food for twenty-four hours."
Van Bibber drew away as though the Object had a contagious disease in
his rags, and handed him a quarter without waiting to receive the
"Poor devil!" said Van Bibber. "Fancy going without dinner all day!"
He could not fancy this, though he tried, and the impossibility of it
impressed him so much that he amiably determined to go back and hunt
up the Object and give him more money. Van Bibber's ideas of a dinner
were rather exalted. He did not know of places where a quarter was
good for a "square meal," including "one roast, three vegetables, and
pie." He hardly considered a quarter a sufficiently large tip for the
waiter who served the dinner, and decidedly not enough for the dinner
itself. He did not see his man at first, and when he did the man did
not see him. Van Bibber watched him stop three gentlemen, two of whom
gave him some money, and then the Object approached Van Bibber and
repeated his sad tale in a monotone. He evidently did not recognize
Van Bibber, and the clubman gave him a half-dollar and walked away,
feeling that the man must surely have enough by this time with which
to get something to eat, if only a luncheon.
This retracing of his footsteps had confused Van Bibber, and he made a
complete circuit of the block before he discovered that he had lost
his bearings. He was standing just where he had started, and gazing
along the line of the elevated road, looking for a station, when the
familiar accents of the Object again saluted him.
When Van Bibber faced him the beggar looked uneasy. He was not sure
whether or not he had approached this particular gentleman before, but
Van Bibber conceived an idea of much subtlety, and deceived the Object
by again putting his hand in his pocket.
"Nothing to eat for twenty-four hours! Dear me!" drawled the clubman,
sympathetically. "Haven't you any money, either?"
"Not a cent," groaned the Object, "an' I'm just faint for food, sir.
S'help me. I hate to beg, sir. It isn't the money I want, it's jest
food. I'm starvin', sir."
"Well," said Van Bibber, suddenly, "if it is just something to eat you
want, come in here with me and I'll give you your breakfast." But the
man held back and began to whine and complain that they wouldn't let
the likes of him in such a fine place.
"Oh, yes, they will," said Van Bibber, glancing at the bill of fare in
front of the place. "It seems to be extremely cheap. Beefsteak fifteen
cents, for instance. Go in," he added, and there was something in his
tone which made the Object move ungraciously into the eating-house.
It was a very queer place, Van Bibber thought, and the people stared
very hard at him and his gloves and the gardenia in his coat and at
the tramp accompanying him.
"You ain't going to eat two breakfasts, are yer?" asked one of the
very tough-looking waiters of the Object. The Object looked uneasy,
and Van Bibber, who stood beside his chair, smiled in triumph.
"You're mistaken," he said to the waiter. "This gentleman is starving;
he has not tasted food for twenty-four hours. Give him whatever he
The Object scowled and the waiter grinned behind his tin tray, and
had the impudence to wink at Van Bibber, who recovered from this in
time to give the man a half-dollar and so to make of him a friend for
life. The Object ordered milk, but Van Bibber protested and ordered
two beefsteaks and fried potatoes, hot rolls and two omelettes,
coffee, and ham with bacon.
"Holy smoke! watcher think I am?" yelled the Object, in desperation.
"Hungry," said Van Bibber, very gently. "Or else an impostor. And, you
know, if you should happen to be the latter I should have to hand you
over to the police."
Van Bibber leaned easily against the wall and read the signs about
him, and kept one eye on a policeman across the street. The Object was
choking and cursing through his breakfast. It did not seem to agree
with him. Whenever he stopped Van Bibber would point with his stick to
a still unfinished dish, and the Object, after a husky protest, would
attack it as though it were poison. The people sitting about were
laughing, and the proprietor behind the desk smiling grimly.
"There, darn ye!" said the Object at last. "I've eat all I can eat for
a year. You think you're mighty smart, don't ye? But if you choose to
pay that high for your fun, I s'pose you can afford it. Only don't let
me catch you around these streets after dark, that's all."
And the Object started off, shaking his fist.
"Wait a minute," said Van Bibber. "You haven't paid them for your
"Haven't what?" shouted the Object. "Paid 'em! How could I pay him?
Youse asked me to come in here and eat. I didn't want no breakfast,
did I? Youse'll have to pay for your fun yerself, or they'll throw yer
out. Don't try to be too smart."
"I gave you," said Van Bibber, slowly, "seventy-five cents with which
to buy a breakfast. This check calls for eighty-five cents, and
extremely cheap it is," he added, with a bow to the fat proprietor.
"Several other gentlemen, on your representation that you were
starving, gave you other sums to be expended on a breakfast. You have
the money with you now. So pay what you owe at once, or I'll call that
officer across the street and tell him what I know, and have you put
where you belong."
"I'll see you blowed first!" gasped the Object.
Van Bibber turned to the waiter. "Kindly beckon to that officer," said
The waiter ran to the door and the Object ran too, but the tough
waiter grabbed him by the back of his neck and held him.
"Lemme go!" yelled the Object. "Lemme go an' I'll pay you."
Everybody in the place came up now and formed a circle around the
group and watched the Object count out eighty-five cents into the
waiter's hand, which left him just one dime to himself.
"You have forgotten the waiter who served you," said Van Bibber,
severely pointing with his stick at the dime.
"No, you don't," groaned the Object.
"Oh, yes," said Van Bibber, "do the decent thing now, or I'll--"
The Object dropped the dime in the waiter's hand, and Van Bibber,
smiling and easy, made his way through the admiring crowd and out into
"I suspect," said Mr. Van Bibber later in the day, when recounting his
adventure to a fellow-clubman, "that, after I left, fellow tried to
get tip back from waiter, for I saw him come out of place very
suddenly, you see, and without touching pavement till he lit on back
of his head in gutter. He was most remarkable waiter."
VAN BIBBER AT THE RACES
Young Van Bibber had never spent a Fourth of July in the city, as he
had always understood it was given over to armies of small boys on
that day, who sat on all the curbstones and set off fire-crackers, and
that the thermometer always showed ninety degrees in the shade, and
cannon boomed and bells rang from daybreak to midnight. He had refused
all invitations to join any Fourth-of-July parties at the seashore or
on the Sound or at Tuxedo, because he expected his people home from
Europe, and had to be in New York to meet them. He was accordingly
greatly annoyed when he received a telegram saying they would sail in
a boat a week later.
He finished his coffee at the club on the morning of the Fourth about
ten o'clock, in absolute solitude, and with no one to expect and
nothing to anticipate; so he asked for a morning paper and looked up
the amusements offered for the Fourth. There were plenty of excursions
with brass bands, and refreshments served on board, baseball matches
by the hundred, athletic meetings and picnics by the dozen, but
nothing that seemed to exactly please him.
The races sounded attractive, but then he always lost such a lot of
money, and the crowd pushed so, and the sun and the excitement made
his head ache between the eyes and spoiled his appetite for dinner. He
had vowed again and again that he would not go to the races; but as
the day wore on and the solitude of the club became oppressive and the
silence of the Avenue began to tell on him, he changed his mind, and
made his preparations accordingly.
First, he sent out after all the morning papers and read their tips on
the probable winners. Very few of them agreed, so he took the horse
which most of them seemed to think was best, and determined to back
it, no matter what might happen or what new tips he might get later.
Then he put two hundred dollars in his pocket-book to bet with, and
twenty dollars for expenses, and sent around for his field-glasses.
He was rather late in starting, and he made up his mind on the way to
Morris Park that he would be true to the list of winners he had
written out, and not make any side bets on any suggestions or inside
information given him by others. He vowed a solemn vow on the rail of
the boat to plunge on each of the six horses he had selected from the
newspaper tips, and on no others. He hoped in this way to win
something. He did not care so much to win, but he hated to lose. He
always felt so flat and silly after it was over; and when it
happened, as it often did, that he had paid several hundred dollars
for the afternoon's sport, his sentiments did him credit.
"I shall probably, or rather certainly, be tramped on and shoved,"
soliloquized Van Bibber.
"I shall smoke more cigars than are good for me, and drink more than I
want, owing to the unnatural excitement and heat, and I shall be late
for my dinner. And for all this I shall probably pay two hundred
dollars. It really seems as if I were a young man of little intellect,
and yet thousands of others are going to do exactly the same thing."
The train was very late. One of the men in front said they would
probably just be able to get their money up in time for the first
race. A horse named Firefly was Van Bibber's choice, and he took one
hundred dollars of his two hundred to put up on her. He had it already
in his hand when the train reached the track, and he hurried with the
rest towards the bookmakers to get his one hundred on as quickly as
possible. But while he was crossing the lawn back of the stand, he
heard cheers and wild yells that told him they were running the race
at that moment.
"Raceland!" "Raceland!" "Raceland by a length!" shouted the crowd.
"Who's second?" a fat man shouted at another fat man.
"Firefly," called back the second, joyously, "and I've got her for a
place and I win eight dollars."
"Ah!" said Van Bibber, as he slipped his one hundred dollars back in
his pocket, "good thing I got here a bit late."
"What'd you win, Van Bibber?" asked a friend who rushed past him,
clutching his tickets as though they were precious stones.
"I win one hundred dollars," answered Van Bibber, calmly, as he walked
on up into the boxes. It was delightfully cool up there, and to his
satisfaction and surprise he found several people there whom he knew.
He went into Her box and accepted some _pate_ sandwiches and iced
champagne, and chatted and laughed with Her so industriously, and so
much to the exclusion of all else, that the horses were at the
starting-post before he was aware of it, and he had to excuse himself
hurriedly and run to put up his money on Bugler, the second on his
list. He decided that as he had won one hundred dollars on the first
race he could afford to plunge on this one, so he counted out fifty
more, and putting this with the original one hundred dollars, crowded
into the betting-ring and said, "A hundred and fifty on Bugler
"Bugler's just been scratched," said the bookie, leaning over Van
Bibber's shoulder for a greasy five-dollar bill.
"Will you play anything else?" he asked, as the young gentleman stood
"No, thank you," said Van Bibber, remembering his vow, and turning
hastily away. "Well," he mused, "I'm one hundred and fifty dollars
better off than I might have been if Bugler hadn't been scratched and
hadn't won. One hundred and fifty dollars added to one hundred makes
two hundred and fifty dollars. That puts me 'way ahead of the game. I
am fifty dollars better off than when I left New York. I'm playing in
great luck." So, on the strength of this, he bought out the man who
sells bouquets, and ordered more champagne to be sent up to the box
where She was sitting, and they all congratulated him on his winnings,
which were suggested by his generous and sudden expenditures.
"You must have a great eye for picking a winner," said one of the
older men, grudgingly.
"Y-e-s," said Van Bibber, modestly. "I know a horse when I see it, I
think; and," he added to himself, "that's about all."
His horse for the third race was Rover, and the odds were five to one
against him. Van Bibber wanted very much to bet on Pirate King
instead, but he remembered his vow to keep to the list he had
originally prepared, whether he lost or won. This running after
strange gods was always a losing business. He took one hundred dollars
in five-dollar bills, and went down to the ring and put the hundred up
on Rover and returned to the box. The horses had been weighed in and
the bugle had sounded, and three of the racers were making their way
up the track, when one of them plunged suddenly forward and went down
on his knees and then stretched out dead. Van Bibber was confident it
was Rover, although he had no idea which the horse was, but he knew
his horse would not run. There was a great deal of excitement, and
people who did not know the rule, which requires the return of all
money if any accident happens to a horse on the race-track between the
time of weighing in and arriving at the post, were needlessly alarmed.
Van Bibber walked down to the ring and received his money back with a
"I'm just one hundred dollars better off than I was three minutes
ago," he said. "I've really had a most remarkable day."
Mayfair was his choice for the fourth race, and she was selling at
three to one. Van Bibber determined to put one hundred and
seventy-five dollars up on her, for, as he said, he had not lost on
any one race yet. The girl in the box was very interesting, though,
and Van Bibber found a great deal to say to her. He interrupted
himself once to call to one of the messenger-boys who ran with bets,
and gave him one hundred and seventy-five dollars to put on Mayfair.
Several other gentlemen gave the boy large sums as well, and Van
Bibber continued to talk earnestly with the girl. He raised his head
to see Mayfair straggle in a bad second, and shrugged his shoulders.
"How much did you lose?" she asked.
"Oh, 'bout two hundred dollars," said Van Bibber; "but it's the first
time I've lost to-day, so I'm still ahead." He bent over to continue
what he was saying, when a rude commotion and loud talking caused
those in the boxes to raise their heads and look around. Several
gentlemen were pointing out Van Bibber to one of the Pinkerton
detectives, who had a struggling messenger-boy in his grasp.
"These gentlemen say you gave this boy some money, sir," said the
detective. "He tried to do a welsh with it, and I caught him just as
he was getting over the fence. How much and on what horse, sir?"
Van Bibber showed his memoranda, and the officer handed him over one
hundred and seventy-five dollars.
"Now, let me see," said Van Bibber, shutting one eye and calculating
intently, "one hundred and seventy-five to three hundred and fifty
dollars makes me a winner by five hundred and twenty-five dollars.
That's purty good, isn't it? I'll have a great dinner at Delmonico's
to-night. You'd better all come back with me!"
But She said he had much better come back with her and her party on
top of the coach and take dinner in the cool country instead of the
hot, close city, and Van Bibber said he would like to, only he did
wish to get his one hundred dollars up on at least one race. But they
said "no," they must be off at once, for the ride was a long one, and
Van Bibber looked at his list and saw that his choice was Jack Frost,
a very likely winner, indeed; but, nevertheless, he walked out to the
enclosure with them and mounted the coach beside the girl on the back
seat, with only the two coachmen behind to hear what he chose to say.
And just as they finally were all harnessed up and the horn sounded,
the crowd yelled, "They're off," and Van Bibber and all of them turned
on their high seats to look back.
"Magpie wins," said the whip.
"And Jack Frost's last," said another.
"And I win my one hundred dollars," said Van Bibber. "It's really very
curious," he added, turning to the girl. "I started out with two
hundred dollars to-day, I spent only twenty-five dollars on flowers, I
won six hundred and twenty-five dollars, and I have only one hundred
and seventy-five dollars to show for it, and yet I've had a very
AN EXPERIMENT IN ECONOMY
Of course, Van Bibber lost all the money he saved at the races on the
Fourth of July. He went to the track the next day, and he saw the
whole sum melt away, and in his vexation tried to "get back," with the
usual result. He plunged desperately, and when he had reached his
rooms and run over his losses, he found he was a financial wreck, and
that he, as his sporting friends expressed it, "would have to smoke a
pipe" for several years to come, instead of indulging in Regalias. He
could not conceive how he had come to make such a fool of himself, and
he wondered if he would have enough confidence to spend a dollar on
It was awful to contemplate the amount he had lost. He felt as if it
were sinful extravagance to even pay his car-fare up-town, and he
contemplated giving his landlord the rent with keen distress. It
almost hurt him to part with five cents to the conductor, and as he
looked at the hansoms dashing by with lucky winners inside he groaned
"I've got to economize," he soliloquized. "No use talking; must
economize. I'll begin to-morrow morning and keep it up for a month.
Then I'll be on my feet again. Then I can stop economizing, and enjoy
myself. But no more races; never, never again."
He was delighted with this idea of economizing. He liked the idea of
self-punishment that it involved, and as he had never denied himself
anything in his life, the novelty of the idea charmed him. He rolled
over to sleep, feeling very much happier in his mind than he had been
before his determination was taken, and quite eager to begin on the
morrow. He arose very early, about ten o'clock, and recalled his idea
of economy for a month, as a saving clause to his having lost a
month's spending money.
He was in the habit of taking his coffee and rolls and a parsley
omelette, at Delmonico's every morning. He decided that he would start
out on his road of economy by omitting the omelette and ordering only
a pot of coffee. By some rare intuition he guessed that there were
places up-town where things were cheaper than at his usual haunt, only
he did not know where they were. He stumbled into a restaurant on a
side street finally, and ordered a cup of coffee and some rolls.
The waiter seemed to think that was a very poor sort of breakfast, and
suggested some nice chops or a bit of steak or "ham and eggs, sah,"
all of which made Van Bibber shudder. The waiter finally concluded
that Van Bibber was poor and couldn't afford any more, which, as it
happened to be more or less true, worried that young gentleman; so
much so, indeed, that when the waiter brought him a check for fifteen
cents, Van Bibber handed him a half-dollar and told him to "keep the
The satisfaction he felt in this wore off very soon when he
appreciated that, while he had economized in his breakfast, his vanity
had been very extravagantly pampered, and he felt how absurd it was
when he remembered he would not have spent more if he had gone to
Delmonico's in the first place. He wanted one of those large black
Regalias very much, but they cost entirely too much. He went carefully
through his pockets to see if he had one with him, but he had not, and
he determined to get a pipe. Pipes are always cheap.
"What sort of a pipe, sir?" said the man behind the counter.
"A cheap pipe," said Van Bibber.
"But what sort?" persisted the man.
Van Bibber thought a brier pipe, with an amber mouth-piece and a
silver band, would about suit his fancy. The man had just such a pipe,
with trade-marks on the brier and hall-marks and "Sterling" on the
silver band. It lay in a very pretty silk box, and there was another
mouth-piece you could screw in, and a cleaner and top piece with which
to press the tobacco down. It was most complete, and only five
dollars. "Isn't that a good deal for a pipe?" asked Van Bibber. The
man said, being entirely unprejudiced, that he thought not. It was
cheaper, he said, to get a good thing at the start. It lasted longer.
And cheap pipes bite your tongue. This seemed to Van Bibber most
excellent reasoning. Some Oxford-Cambridge mixture attracted Van
Bibber on account of its name. This cost one dollar more. As he left
the shop he saw a lot of pipes, brier and corn-cob and Sallie
Michaels, in the window marked, "Any of these for a quarter." This
made him feel badly, and he was conscious he was not making a success
of his economy. He started back to the club, but it was so hot that he
thought he would faint before he got there; so he called a hansom, on
the principle that it was cheaper to ride and keep well than to walk
and have a sunstroke.
He saw some people that he knew going by in a cab with a pile of
trunks on the top of it, and that reminded him that they had asked him
to come down and see them off when the steamer left that afternoon. So
he waved his hand when they passed, and bowed to them, and cried, "See
you later," before he counted the consequences. He did not wish to
arrive empty-handed, so he stopped in at a florist's and got a big
basket of flowers and another of fruit, and piled them into the
When be came to pay the driver he found the trip from Thirty-fifth
Street to the foot of Liberty was two dollars and a half, and the
fruit and flowers came to twenty-two dollars. He was greatly
distressed over this, and could not see how it had happened. He rode
back in the elevated for five cents and felt much better. Then some
men just back from a yachting trip joined him at the club and ordered
a great many things to drink, and of course he had to do the same, and
seven dollars were added to his economy fund. He argued that this did
not matter, because he signed a check for it, and that he would not
have to pay for it until the end of the month, when the necessity of
economizing would be over.
Still, his conscience did not seem convinced, and he grew very
desperate. He felt he was not doing it at all properly, and he
determined that he would spend next to nothing on his dinner. He
remembered with a shudder the place he had taken the tramp to dinner,
and he vowed that before he would economize as rigidly as that he
would starve; but he had heard of the _table d'hote_ places on Sixth
Avenue, so he went there and wandered along the street until he found
one that looked clean and nice. He began with a heavy soup, shoved a
rich, fat, fried fish over his plate, and followed it with a queer
_entree_ of spaghetti with a tomato dressing that satisfied his hunger
and killed his appetite as if with the blow of a lead pipe. But he
went through with the rest of it, for he felt it was the truest
economy to get his money's worth, and the limp salad in bad oil and
the ice-cream of sour milk made him feel that eating was a positive
pain rather than a pleasure; and in this state of mind and body,
drugged and disgusted, he lighted his pipe and walked slowly towards
the club along Twenty-sixth Street.
He looked in at the _cafe_ at Delmonico's with envy and disgust, and,
going disheartenedly on, passed the dining-room windows that were wide
open and showed the heavy white linen, the silver, and the women
coolly dressed and everybody happy.
And then there was a wild waving of arms inside, and white hands
beckoning him, and he saw with mingled feelings of regret that the
whole party of the Fourth of July were inside and motioning to him.
They made room for him, and the captain's daughter helped him to
olives, and the chaperon told how they had come into town for the day,
and had been telegraphing for him and Edgar and Fred and "dear Bill,"
and the rest said they were so glad to see him because they knew he
could appreciate a good dinner if any one could.
But Van Bibber only groaned, and the awful memories of the lead-like
spaghetti and the bad oil and the queer cheese made him shudder, and
turned things before him into a Tantalus feast of rare cruelty. There
were Little Neck clams, delicious cold consomme, and white fish, and
French chops with a dressing of truffles, and Roman punch and woodcock
to follow, and crisp lettuce and toasted crackers-and-cheese, with a
most remarkable combination of fruits and ices; and Van Bibber could
eat nothing, and sat unhappily looking at his plate and shaking his
head when the waiter urged him gently. "Economy!" he said, with
disgusted solemnity. "It's all tommy rot. It wouldn't have cost me a
cent to have eaten this dinner, and yet I've paid half a dollar to
make myself ill so that I can't. If you know how to economize, it may
be all right; but if you don't understand it, you must leave it alone.
It's dangerous. I'll economize no more."
And he accordingly broke his vow by taking the whole party up to see
the lady who would not be photographed in tights, and put them in a
box where they were gagged by the comedian, and where the soubrette
smiled on them and all went well.
MR. TRAVERS'S FIRST HUNT
Young Travers, who had been engaged to a girl down on Long Island for
the last three months, only met her father and brother a few weeks
before the day set for the wedding. The brother is a master of hounds
near Southampton, and shared the expense of importing a pack from
England with Van Bibber. The father and son talked horse all day and
until one in the morning; for they owned fast thoroughbreds, and
entered them at the Sheepshead Bay and other race-tracks. Old Mr.
Paddock, the father of the girl to whom Travers was engaged, had often
said that when a young man asked him for his daughter's hand he would
ask him in return, not if he had lived straight, but if he could ride
straight. And on his answering this question in the affirmative
depended his gaining her parent's consent. Travers had met Miss
Paddock and her mother in Europe, while the men of the family were at
home. He was invited to their place in the fall when the hunting
season opened, and spent the evening most pleasantly and
satisfactorily with his _fiancee_ in a corner of the drawing-room.
But as soon as the women had gone, young Paddock joined him and said,
"You ride, of course?" Travers had never ridden; but he had been
prompted how to answer by Miss Paddock, and so said there was nothing
he liked better. As he expressed it, he would rather ride than sleep.
"That's good," said Paddock. "I'll give you a mount on Satan to-morrow
morning at the meet. He is a bit nasty at the start of the season; and
ever since he killed Wallis, the second groom, last year, none of us
care much to ride him. But you can manage him, no doubt. He'll just
carry your weight."
Mr. Travers dreamed that night of taking large, desperate leaps into
space on a wild horse that snorted forth flames, and that rose at
solid stone walls as though they were hayricks.
He was tempted to say he was ill in the morning--which was,
considering his state of mind, more or less true--but concluded that,
as he would have to ride sooner or later during his visit, and that if
he did break his neck it would be in a good cause, he determined to do
his best. He did not want to ride at all, for two excellent
reasons--first, because he wanted to live for Miss Paddock's sake,
and, second, because he wanted to live for his own.
The next morning was a most forbidding and doleful-looking morning,
and young Travers had great hopes that the meet would be declared off;
but, just as he lay in doubt, the servant knocked at his door with
his riding things and his hot water.
He came down-stairs looking very miserable indeed. Satan had been
taken to the place where they were to meet, and Travers viewed him on
his arrival there with a sickening sense of fear as he saw him pulling
three grooms off their feet.
Travers decided that he would stay with his feet on solid earth just
as long as he could, and when the hounds were thrown off and the rest
had started at a gallop he waited, under the pretence of adjusting his
gaiters, until they were all well away. Then he clenched his teeth,
crammed his hat down over his ears, and scrambled up on to the saddle.
His feet fell quite by accident into the stirrups, and the next
instant he was off after the others, with an indistinct feeling that
he was on a locomotive that was jumping the ties. Satan was in among
and had passed the other horses in less than five minutes, and was so
close on the hounds that the whippers-in gave a cry of warning. But
Travers could as soon have pulled a boat back from going over the
Niagara Falls as Satan, and it was only because the hounds were well
ahead that saved them from having Satan ride them down. Travers had
taken hold of the saddle with his left hand to keep himself down, and
sawed and swayed on the reins with his right. He shut his eyes
whenever Satan jumped, and never knew how he happened to stick on; but
he did stick on, and was so far ahead that no one could see in the
misty morning just how badly he rode. As it was, for daring and speed
he led the field, and not even young Paddock was near him from the
start. There was a broad stream in front of him, and a hill just on
its other side. No one had ever tried to take this at a jump. It was
considered more of a swim than anything else, and the hunters always
crossed it by the bridge, towards the left. Travers saw the bridge and
tried to jerk Satan's head in that direction; but Satan kept right on
as straight as an express train over the prairie. Fences and trees and
furrows passed by and under Travers like a panorama run by
electricity, and he only breathed by accident. They went on at the
stream and the hill beyond as though they were riding at a stretch of
turf, and, though the whole field set up a shout of warning and
dismay, Travers could only gasp and shut his eyes. He remembered the
fate of the second groom and shivered. Then the horse rose like a
rocket, lifting Travers so high in the air that he thought Satan would
never come down again; but he did come down, with his feet bunched, on
the opposite side of the stream. The next instant he was up and over
the hill, and had stopped panting in the very centre of the pack that
were snarling and snapping around the fox. And then Travers showed
that he was a thoroughbred, even though he could not ride, for he
hastily fumbled for his cigar-case, and when the field came pounding
up over the bridge and around the hill, they saw him seated
nonchalantly on his saddle, puffing critically at a cigar and giving
Satan patronizing pats on the head.
"My dear girl," said old Mr. Paddock to his daughter as they rode
back, "if you love that young man of yours and want to keep him, make
him promise to give up riding. A more reckless and more brilliant
horseman I have never seen. He took that double jump at the gate and
that stream like a centaur. But he will break his neck sooner or
later, and he ought to be stopped." Young Paddock was so delighted
with his prospective brother-in-law's great riding that that night in
the smoking-room he made him a present of Satan before all the men.
"No," said Travers, gloomily, "I can't take him. Your sister has asked
me to give up what is dearer to me than anything next to herself, and
that is my riding. You see, she is absurdly anxious for my safety, and
she has asked me to promise never to ride again, and I have given my
A chorus of sympathetic remonstrance rose from the men.
"Yes, I know," said Travers to her brother, "it is rough, but it just
shows what sacrifices a man will make for the woman he loves."
LOVE ME, LOVE MY DOG
Young Van Bibber had been staying with some people at Southampton,
L.I., where, the fall before, his friend Travers made his reputation
as a cross-country rider. He did this, it may be remembered, by
shutting his eyes and holding on by the horse's mane and letting the
horse go as it pleased. His recklessness and courage are still spoken
of with awe; and the place where he cleared the water jump that every
one else avoided is pointed out as Travers's Leap to visiting
horsemen, who look at it gloomily and shake their heads. Miss Arnett,
whose mother was giving the house-party, was an attractive young
woman, with an admiring retinue of youths who gave attention without
intention, and for none of whom Miss Arnett showed particular
preference. Her whole interest, indeed, was centred in a dog, a Scotch
collie called Duncan. She allowed this dog every liberty, and made a
decided nuisance of him for every one around her. He always went with
her when she walked, or trotted beside her horse when she rode. He
stretched himself before the fire in the dining-room, and startled
people at table by placing his cold nose against their hands or
putting his paws on their gowns. He was generally voted a most
annoying adjunct to the Arnett household; but no one dared hint so to
Miss Arnett, as she only loved those who loved the dog, or pretended
to do it. On the morning of the afternoon on which Van Bibber and his
bag arrived, the dog disappeared and could not be recovered. Van
Bibber found the household in a state of much excitement in
consequence, and his welcome was necessarily brief. The arriving guest
was not to be considered at all with the departed dog. The men told
Van Bibber, in confidence, that the general relief among the guests
was something ecstatic, but this was marred later by the gloom of Miss
Arnett and her inability to think of anything else but the finding of
the lost collie. Things became so feverish that for the sake of rest
and peace the house-party proposed to contribute to a joint purse for
the return of the dog, as even, nuisance as it was, it was not so bad
as having their visit spoiled by Miss Arnett's abandonment to grief
"I think," said the young woman, after luncheon, "that some of you men
might be civil enough to offer to look for him. I'm sure he can't have
gone far, or, if he has been stolen, the men who took him couldn't
have gone very far away either. Now which of you will volunteer? I'm
sure you'll do it to please me. Mr. Van Bibber, now: you say you're so
clever. We're all the time hearing of your adventures. Why don't you
show how full of expedients you are and rise to the occasion?" The
suggestion of scorn in this speech nettled Van Bibber.
"I'm sure I never posed as being clever," he said, "and finding a lost
dog with all Long Island to pick and choose from isn't a particularly
easy thing to pull off successfully, I should think."
"I didn't suppose you'd take a dare like that, Van Bibber," said one
of the men. "Why, it's just the sort of thing you do so well."
"Yes," said another, "I'll back you to find him if you try."
"Thanks," said Van Bibber, dryly. "There seems to be a disposition on
the part of the young men present to turn me into a dog-catcher. I
doubt whether this is altogether unselfish. I do not say that they
would rather remain indoors and teach the girls how to play billiards,
but I quite appreciate their reasons for not wishing to roam about in
the snow and whistle for a dog. However, to oblige the despondent
mistress of this valuable member of the household, I will risk
pneumonia, and I will, at the same time, in order to make the event
interesting to all concerned, back myself to bring that dog back by
eight o'clock. Now, then, if any of you unselfish youths have any
sporting blood, you will just name the sum."
They named one hundred dollars, and arranged that Van Bibber was to
have the dog back by eight o'clock, or just in time for dinner; for
Van Bibber said he wouldn't miss his dinner for all the dogs in the
two hemispheres, unless the dogs happened to be his own.
Van Bibber put on his great-coat and told the man to bring around the
dog-cart; then he filled his pockets with cigars and placed a flask of
brandy under the seat, and wrapped the robes around his knees.
"I feel just like a relief expedition to the North Pole. I think I
ought to have some lieutenants," he suggested.
"Well," cried one of the men, "suppose we make a pool and each chip in
fifty dollars, and the man who brings the dog back in time gets the
whole of it?"
"That bet of mine stands, doesn't it?" asked Van Bibber.
The men said it did, and went off to put on their riding things, and
four horses were saddled and brought around from the stable. Each of
the four explorers was furnished with a long rope to tie to Duncan's
collar, and with which he was to be led back if they found him. They
were cheered ironically by the maidens they had deserted on
compulsion, and were smiled upon severally by Miss Arnett. Then they
separated and took different roads. It was snowing gently, and was
very cold. Van Bibber drove aimlessly ahead, looking to the right and
left and scanning each back yard and side street. Every now and then
he hailed some passing farm wagon and asked the driver if he had seen
a stray collie dog, but the answer was invariably in the negative. He
soon left the village in the rear, and plunged out over the downs. The
wind was bitter cold, and swept from the water with a chill that cut
through his clothes.
"Oh, this is great," said Van Bibber to the patient horse in front of
him; "this _is_ sport, this is. The next time I come to this part of
the world I'll be dragged here with a rope. Nice, hospitable people
those Arnetts, aren't they? Ask you to make yourself at home chasing
dogs over an ice fjord. Don't know when I've enjoyed myself so much."
Every now and then he stood up and looked all over the hills and
valleys to see if he could not distinguish a black object running over
the white surface of the snow, but he saw nothing like a dog, not even
the track of one.
Twice he came across one of the other men, shivering and swearing from
his saddle, and with teeth chattering.
"Well," said one of them, shuddering, "you haven't found that dog yet,
"No," said Van Bibber. "Oh, no. I've given up looking for the dog. I'm
just driving around enjoying myself. The air's so invigorating, and I
like to feel the snow settling between my collar and the back of my
At four o'clock Van Bibber was about as nearly frozen as a man could
be after he had swallowed half a bottle of brandy. It was so cold that
the ice formed on his cigar when he took it from his lips, and his
feet and the dashboard seemed to have become stuck together.
"I think I'll give it up," he said, finally, as he turned the horse's
head towards Southampton. "I hate to lose three hundred and fifty
dollars as much as any man; but I love my fair young life, and I'm not
going to turn into an equestrian statue in ice for anybody's collie
He drove the cart to the stable and unharnessed the horse himself, as
all the grooms were out scouring the country, and then went upstairs
unobserved and locked himself in his room, for he did not care to have
the others know that he had given out so early in the chase. There was
a big open fire in his room, and he put on his warm things and
stretched out before it in a great easy-chair, and smoked and sipped
the brandy and chuckled with delight as he thought of the four other
men racing around in the snow.
"They may have more nerve than I," he soliloquized, "and I don't say
they have not; but they can have all the credit and rewards they want,
and I'll be satisfied to stay just where I am."
At seven he saw the four riders coming back dejectedly, and without
the dog. As they passed his room he heard one of the men ask if Van
Bibber had got back yet, and another say yes, he had, as he had left
the cart in the stable, but that one of the servants had said that he
had started out again on foot.
"He has, has he?" said the voice. "Well, he's got sporting blood, and
he'll need to keep it at fever heat if he expects to live. I'm frozen
so that I can't bend my fingers."
Van Bibber smiled, and moved comfortably in the big chair; he had
dozed a little, and was feeling very contented. At half-past seven he
began to dress, and at five minutes to eight he was ready for dinner
and stood looking out of the window at the moonlight on the white lawn
below. The snow had stopped falling, and everything lay quiet and
still as though it were cut in marble. And then suddenly, across the
lawn, came a black, bedraggled object on four legs, limping painfully,
and lifting its feet as though there were lead on them.
"Great heavens!" cried Van Bibber, "it's the dog!" He was out of the
room in a moment and down into the hall. He heard the murmur of voices
in the drawing-room, and the sympathetic tones of the women who were
pitying the men. Van Bibber pulled on his overshoes and a great-coat
that covered him from his ears to his ankles, and dashed out into the
snow. The dog had just enough spirit left to try and dodge him, and
with a leap to one side went off again across the lawn. It was, as Van
Bibber knew, but three minutes to eight o'clock, and have the dog he
must and would. The collie sprang first to one side and then to the
other, and snarled and snapped; but Van Bibber was keen with the
excitement of the chase, so he plunged forward recklessly and tackled
the dog around the body, and they both rolled over and over together.
Then Van Bibber scrambled to his feet and dashed up the steps and into
the drawing-room just as the people were in line for dinner, and while
the minute-hand stood at a minute to eight o'clock.
"How is this?" shouted Van Bibber, holding up one hand and clasping
the dog under his other arm.
Miss Arnett flew at the collie and embraced it, wet as it was, and
ruined her gown, and all the men glanced instinctively at the clock
"You've won, Van."
"But you must be frozen to death," said Miss Arnett, looking up at him
with gratitude in her eyes.
"Yes, yes," said Van Bibber, beginning to shiver. "I've had a terrible
long walk, and I had to carry him all the way. If you'll excuse me,
I'll go change my things."
He reappeared again in a suspiciously short time for one who had to
change outright, and the men admired his endurance and paid up the
"Where did you find him, Van?" one of them asked.
"Oh, yes," they all chorused. "Where was he?"
"That," said Mr. Van Bibber, "is a thing known to only two beings,
Duncan and myself. Duncan can't tell, and I won't. If I did, you'd say
I was trying to make myself out clever, and I never boast about the
things I do."
Miss Eleanore Cuyler had dined alone with her mother that night, and
she was now sitting in the drawing-room, near the open fire, with her
gloves and fan on the divan beside her, for she was going out later to
She was reading a somewhat weighty German review, and the contrast
which the smartness of her gown presented to the seriousness of her
occupation made her smile slightly as she paused for a moment to cut
And when the bell sounded in the hall she put the book away from her
altogether, and wondered who it might be.
It might be young Wainwright, with the proof-sheets of the new story
he had promised to let her see, or flowers for the dance from
Bruce-Brice, of the English Legation at Washington, who for the time
being was practising diplomatic moves in New York, or some of her
working-girls with a new perplexity for her to unravel, or only one of
the men from the stable to tell her how her hunter was getting on
after his fall. It might be any of these and more. The possibilities
were diverse and all of interest, and she acknowledged this to
herself, with a little sigh of content that it was so. For she found
her pleasure in doing many things, and in the fact that there were so
many. She rejoiced daily that she was free, and her own mistress in
everything; free to do these many things denied to other young women,
and that she had the health and position and cleverness to carry them
on and through to success. She did them all, and equally well and
gracefully, whether it was the rejection of a too ambitious devotee
who dared to want to have her all to himself, or the planning of a
woman's luncheon, or the pushing of a bill to provide kindergartens in
the public schools. But it was rather a relief when the man opened the
curtains and said, "Mr. Wainwright," and Wainwright walked quickly
towards her, tugging at his glove.
"You are very good to see me so late," he said, speaking as he
entered, "but I had to see you to-night, and I wasn't asked to that
dance. I'm going away," he went on, taking his place by the fire, with
his arm resting on the mantel. He had a trick of standing there when
he had something of interest to say, and he was tall and well-looking
enough to appear best in that position, and she was used to it. He was
the most frequent of her visitors.
"Going away," she repeated, smiling up at him; "not for long, I hope.
Where are you going now?"
"I'm going to London," he said. "They cabled me this morning. It
seems they've taken the play, and are going to put it on at once." He
smiled, and blushed slightly at her exclamation of pleasure. "Yes, it
is rather nice. It seems 'Jilted' was a failure, and they've taken it
off, and are going to put on 'School,' with the old cast, until they
can get my play rehearsed, and they want me to come over and suggest
She stopped him with another little cry of delight that was very sweet
to him, and full of moment.
"Oh, how glad I am!" she said. "How proud you must be! Now, why do you
pretend you are not? And I suppose Tree and the rest of them will be
in the cast, and all that dreadful American colony in the stalls, and
you will make a speech--and I won't be there to hear it." She rose
suddenly with a quick, graceful movement, and held out her hand to
him, which he took, laughing and conscious-looking with pleasure.
She sank back on the divan, and shook her head doubtfully at him.
"When will you stop?" she said. "Don't tell me you mean to be an
Admirable Crichton. You are too fine for that."
He looked down at the fire, and said, slowly, "It is not as if I were
trying my hand at an entirely different kind of work. No, I don't
think I did wrong in dramatizing it. The papers all said, when the
book first came out, that it would make a good play; and then so many
men wrote to me for permission to dramatize it that I thought I might
as well try to do it myself. No, I think it is in line with my other
work. I don't think I am straying after strange gods."
"You should not," she said, softly. "The old ones have been so kind to
you. But you took me too seriously," she added.
"I am afraid sometimes," he answered, "that you do not know how
seriously I do take you."
"Yes, I do," she said, quickly. "And when I am serious, that is all
very well; but to-night I only want to laugh. I am very happy, it is
such good news. And after the New York managers refusing it, too. They
will _have_ to take it _now_, now that it is a London success."
"Well, it isn't a London success yet," he said, dryly. "The books went
well over there because the kind of Western things I wrote about met
their ideas of this country--cowboys and prairies and Indian maidens
and all that. And so I rather hope the play will suit them for the
"And you will go out a great deal, I hope," she said. "Oh, you will
have to! You will find so many people to like, almost friends already.
They were talking about you even when I was there, and I used to shine
in reflected glory because I knew you."
"Yes, I can fancy it," he said. "But I should like to see something of
them if I have time. Lowes wants me to stay with them, and I suppose I
will. He would feel hurt if I didn't. He has a most absurd idea of
what I did for him on the ranche when he had the fever that time, and
ever since he went back to enjoy his ill-gotten gains and his title
and all that, he has kept writing to me to come out. Yes, I suppose I
will stay with them. They are in town now."
Miss Cuyler's face was still lit with pleasure at his good fortune,
but her smile was less spontaneous than it had been. "That will be
very nice. I quite envy you," she said. "I suppose you know about his
"The Honorable Evelyn?" he asked. "Yes; he used to have a photograph
of her, and I saw some others the other day in a shop-window on
"She is a very nice girl," Miss Cuyler said, thoughtfully. "I wonder
how you two will get along?" and then she added, as if with sudden
compunction, "but I am sure you will like her very much. She is very
"I don't know how a professional beauty will wear if one sees her
every day at breakfast," he said. "One always associates them with
functions and varnishing days and lawn-parties. You will write to me,
will you not?" he added.
"That sounds," she said, "as though you meant to be gone such a very
He turned one of the ornaments on the mantel with his fingers, and
looked at it curiously. "It depends," he said, slowly--"it depends on
so many things. No," he went on, looking at her; "it does not depend
on many things; just on one."
Miss Cuyler looked up at him questioningly, and then down again very
quickly, and reached meaninglessly for the book beside her. She saw
something in his face and in the rigidity of his position that made
her breathe more rapidly. She had not been afraid of this from him,
because she had always taken the attitude towards him of a very dear
friend and of one who was older, not in years, but in experience of
the world, for she had lived abroad while he had gone from the
university to the West, which he had made his own, in books. They were
both very young.
She did not want him to say anything. She could only answer him in one
way, and in a way that would hurt and give pain to them both. She had
hoped he could remain just as he was, a very dear friend, with a
suggestion sometimes in the background of his becoming something more.
She was, of course, too experienced to believe in a long platonic
Uppermost in her mind was the thought that, no matter what he urged,
she must remember that she wanted to be free, to live her own life, to
fill her own sphere of usefulness, and she must not let him tempt her
to forget this. She had next to consider him, and that she must be