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Elizabeth Visits America by Elinor Glyn

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Author of

"Three Weeks,"
"The Visits of Elizabeth,"
"The Reflections of Ambrosine,"
"The Vicissitudes of Evangeline,"
"Beyond the Rocks,"
"The damsel and the Sage"


[Illustration "the Marchioness of Valmond" (Elizabeth)]


Heaviland Manor
Plaza Hotel, New York
Plaza Hotel, New York
Latour Court, Long Island
Plaza Hotel, New York
Ringwood, Philadelphia
Plaza Hotel, New York
Going West
San Francisco
On the Private Car
Osages City
Camp of Moonbeams
On the Private Car Again
Osages City Again

Elizabeth Visits America

After a few years of really perfect domestic bliss Elizabeth and her
"Harry" had a rather serious quarrel, which ended in Lord Valmond's going
off to shoot big game in the wilds of Africa, leaving Elizabeth, who (in
the absence of her mother and her favourite cousin, Octavia, abroad) had
taken refuge with her great aunt Maria at Heaviland Manor, in an obstinate
and disconsolate frame of mind.

Lord Valmond was two days out on his voyage when Elizabeth wrote to her


Heaviland Manor

Dearest Mamma,--I hope you are taking every possible care of Hurstbridge
and Ermyntrude and seeing that the sweet angels do not eat pounds of
chocolate between meals. If I had known how Harry was going to behave to me
over such a simple thing as the Vicomte's letter, I could never have let
you take the children with you to Arcachon for these next months--I am
feeling so lonely.

I came to great aunt Maria's because on Saturday night when Harry refused
to say he was sorry, it seemed the only dignified thing to do. I never
thought of course that he would rush off to Africa like this, and although
I feel I was perfectly right and should act in the very same way
again--still--well, there is no use talking about it, dearest Mamma--and
please don't write me a sermon on wifely duty and submission--because it
will only make me worse.

I don't know what I shall do next or where I shall go--I mean to take the
first chance of having some fun I can get. If he could go off in a
huff--but I won't speak of him even--I am going to forget I am married and
have a good time like everyone else does. Naturally, I haven't told a soul
but you about it all--our quarrel I mean--and Aunt Maria thinks I am a poor
ill-used darling to have a husband who wants to shoot lions, but Uncle John
said it is quite natural, and Aunt Maria heard that and said, "Tut tut," at

There is a tremendous excitement here! Can you imagine it, Mamma? They have
actually got an automobile! It came this morning, and if it had been a
flying machine it could not have been considered more wonderful. It is
Uncle John's fiftieth wedding present to Aunt Maria!--and they are going
in it on the same tour they took on their wedding journey! Aunt Maria, as
you know, has never been abroad since. We all went into the stable yard to
see it. The face of the coachman! (You remember him?--always the same one.)
It was a mixture of contempt and defiance. They did suggest having him
taught a chauffeur's duties, but the man who came from the place they
bought the car wisely suggested it might, at his age, be dangerous, and
Aunt Maria also feared it would be bad for his sore throat--it is still
sore!--so they have abandoned this idea.

They start on Monday--the anniversary of their wedding--and they have asked
me to go with them, and I really think I shall.

The most marvellous preparations are being made. One would think it was a
journey to the South Pole. Aunt Maria spends hours each day in writing and
rewriting lists of things she must have with her, and then Uncle John
protests that only the smallest amount of luggage can be taken. So she
consults with Janet Mackintosh, her maid, and then she turns to me and in a
loud whisper says that of course she has to be patient with poor Janet as
she is a newcomer and does not yet know her ways! She has been with her
five years now, ever since her last Methuselah died, so one would have
thought that long enough to learn, wouldn't one, Mamma?

The automobile is most remarkable, as it has a rumble on the back, because,
as Aunt Maria explained, her maid and Uncle John's valet went in the rumble
of the carriage on their wedding journey, and it is the proper place for
servants, so she insisted upon the motor being arranged in the same way.
Janet and the valet will have a suffocatingly dusty drive--enveloped in
complete coverings of leather. Agnes is to sit beside the chauffeur and we
three inside. I suppose everyone will scream with laughter as we career
through the towns, but what matter! I shall go down to Cannes with them and
join Octavia there if I find it too boring, and Harry cannot have a word to
say to my travelling with my own relations. I feel like crying, dearest
Mamma, so I won't write any more now.

Your affectionate daughter,


_(Somewhere on the way to Dijon.)_

Dearest Mamma,--We have got this far! Never have you imagined such an
affair as our trip is. Coming across the Channel was bad enough. Aunt Maria
sniffed chloroform and remained semi-conscious until we got to Boulogne,
because she said one never could trust the sea, although it looked smooth
enough from the pier; on her honeymoon she recollected just the same
deceitful appearance and they took five hours and she was very sick and
decided not to chance it again! Uncle John had to hold one of her hands and
I the bottle, but we got there safely in the usual time and not a ripple on
the water! The motor had been sent on, and after sleeping at Boulogne we
started. The little gamins shouted, "Quel drole de char triomphant! Bon
voyage, Mesdames," and Aunt Maria smiled and bowed as pleased as possible,
not having heard a word.

Uncle John was as gay and attentive as I suppose he was on the
journey--this is how they speak of it--and made one or two quite risque
jokes down the ear trumpet, and Aunt Maria blushed and looked so coy.
Apparently she had had hysterics at Folkestone originally--did you have
them when you married, Mamma? I never thought of such a thing when Harry
and I--but I did not mean to speak of him again. Aunt Maria wears the same
shaped bonnet now as she did then, and strangely enough it is exactly like
my new lovely chinchilla motor one Caroline sent for me to travel in. We
have the car open all the time and in the noise Aunt Maria hears much
better, so one has only to speak in an ordinary voice down the trumpet.

Everything went all right until this morning; we left Versailles at
dawn--how they were ever ready I don't know, considering the tremendous lot
of wraps and pillows and footwarmers and heaven knows what they
have;--besides Uncle John saying all the time it is their second honeymoon.
However, we got off, and as we have been on the road two days, even Janet,
who is naturally as meek as a mouse, is beginning to "turn" at her seat in
the rumble; because, it having rained and there being no dust, she and
Uncle John's valet are covered with mud instead, each time we arrive at a
place, and have to be scraped off before they can even enter a hotel.

Agnes would simply have had a fit of blue rage if one had put her
there;--as it is she is having an affair with the chauffeur. There must be
an epidemic in the air now for women of forty to play with boys, as they
get it even in her class. What was I saying, Oh! yes--Well, the first
trouble began with a burst tyre, and we all had to get out while the new
one was being put on; and as we were standing near, another car came up
from the opposite direction, and would have passed us, only I suppose Aunt
Maria looked so unusual the occupants stopped--occupant, I meant--it was an
American--and asked if it--he, I mean, could be of any assistance. Uncle
John, who thinks it right to gain information whenever he can from
travellers, said, No, not materially, but he would be obliged to know if
the country we were coming to was smooth or not. Then we knew it was an
American! In those big coats one can't tell the nation at first, but
directly he said: "It's like a base-ball ground--and I should say you'd
find any machine could do it--" we guessed at once. He was so nice looking,
Mamma--rather ugly, but good looking all the same; you know what I mean.
His nose was crooked but his jaw was so square, and he had such jolly brown
eyes--and they twinkled at one, and he was very, very tall. "We hope to get
to Dijon tonight," Uncle John said. "Can you tell us, sir, if we shall have
any difficulty?" The American did not bother to raise his hat or any fuss,
but just got out of his car and told the facts to Uncle John; and then he
turned to the chauffeur, who was fumbling with the tyre--it was something
complicated, not only just the bursting--and in a minute or two he was down
in the mud giving such practical advice. And you never heard such slang!
But I believe men like that sort of thing, as the chauffeur was not a bit
offended at being interfered with.

When they had finished grovelling, he got in again, and Uncle John insisted
upon exchanging cards with the stranger. He got out his from some pocket,
but the American had not one. "By the living jingo," he said, "I've no bit
of pasteboard handy--but my name is Horatio Thomas Nelson Renour--and
you'll find me any day at the Nelson Building, Osages City, Nevada. This is
my first visit to Europe." Perhaps I am not repeating exactly the right
American, Mamma, but it was something like that. But I wish you could have
seen him, I know you would have liked him as I did. Wait till I tell you
what he did afterwards, then you will, anyway. "Anyway" is American--you
see I have picked it up already!

We waved a kind of grateful goodbye and went our different ways, and beyond
its raining most of the time we had a quick journey; but at last we felt in
the dusk we were off the right road. Like all chauffeurs ours had whizzed
past every notice of the direction--so carefully printed up as they are in
France, too. From the way they behave one would think chauffeurs believe
themselves to possess a sixth sense and can feel in some occult manner the
right turns, as they never bother to look at sign posts, or condescend to
ask the way like ordinary mortals. Ours did not so much as stop even when
the lane got into a mere track, until, with the weight of Uncle John, Aunt
Maria and me in the back seat, and the extra stones in the rumble, as he
made a sensational backing turn into a fieldish looking place, (it was dark
twilight) our hind wheels sunk in up to their axles,--and the poor
machinery groaned in its endeavours to extricate us! We had to get out in
the gloom and mud, and Aunt Maria looked almost pathetic in her elastic
side "prunella" boots, edged with fur, white silk stockings and red quilted
silk petticoat held up very high. But she was so good tempered over it all!
She said when one had been married happily for fifty years, and was having
one's honeymoon all over again--(she had forgotten the hysterics)--one
ought not to grumble at trifles.

Meanwhile the hind wheels of the car sank deeper and deeper. I believe we
should never have got out, and it would have been there still, if we had
not heard a scream from a siren, and our American friend tore up again! It
was pitch dark by now, and the valet, the chauffeur, and Uncle John were
shoving and straining, and nothing was happening. Why he was returning this
way, right out of the main road, he did not explain, but he jumped out and
in a minute took command of the situation. He said, "If we had taken a
waggon over the desert, we'd know how to fix up this in a shake." He sent
his chauffeur back to the nearest village for some boards and a shovel, and
then dug out to firm ground and got the boards under, all so neatly and
quickly, and no one thought of disobeying him! And we were soon all packed
into the car again none the worse. Then he said he also found he was
obliged to go back and would show us the way as far as we liked. Uncle John
was so grateful, and we started.

Tonnerre was all as far as we could get to-night, and about six o'clock we
arrived at this hotel I am writing from.

Mr. Horatio Thomas Nelson Renour was a few yards in front of us. "Say, Lord
Wordon," he said to Uncle John, "I guess this is no kind of a place your
ladies have been accustomed to, but it's probably pretty decent in spite of
appearances. I know these sort of little shanties, and they aren't half as
bad as they look."

He took as much pains to shout down Aunt Maria's trumpet as Harry used in
the beginning when he wanted to please me, and when we got upstairs she
said she had no idea Americans were such "superior persons." "One of
Nature's gentlemen, my dear, which are the only sort of true gentlemen you
will find."

Such a hotel, Mamma! And Uncle John and Aunt Maria had to have the only big
bedroom on the first floor, and Mr. Renour and I were given two little ones
communicating on the back part. They thought of course we were of the same
party, and married.

"Madame" could have the inner one, they explained, and "Monsieur" the
outer! Aunt Maria, who thought, I suppose, they said Agnes, not "Monsieur,"
smiled pleasantly and agreed--that would be "tout a fait bien." Of course
if Horatio Thomas Nelson Renour had been a Frenchman, or even heaps of
Englishmen we know, he would have been delighted; instead of which he got
perfectly crimson all over his bronzed face and explained in fearful French
to the landlady he could not sleep except on a top floor. Wasn't it nice of
him, Mamma?

Dinner was at seven o'clock in the table d'hote, and about eight commercial
travellers were already seated when we got down. We had glass racks to put
our forks and knives on, and that wrung out kind of table linen, not
ironed, but all beautifully clean; and wonderfully good food.

Uncle John made one end of our party and Mr. Renour the other, with Aunt
Maria and me in the middle, and the commercial travellers, who all tucked
in their table napkins under their chins, beyond. The American was so
amusing:--it was his language, not exactly what he said. I shall get into
it soon and tell you some of the sentences, but at first it is too
difficult. Presently he said he did not understand about English titles; he
supposed I had one, but he was not "kinder used to them," so did I mind his
calling me Lady Elizabeth, as he heard Aunt Maria calling me Elizabeth, and
he felt sure "Miss" wouldn't be all right, but would "Lady" be near enough?
I said, quite, I was so enchanted, Mamma, to be taken for a young girl,
after having been married nearly seven years and being twenty-four last
month! I would not undeceive him for the world, and as we shall never see
him again it won't matter. Think, too, how cross Harry--but I won't speak
of him!

Aunt Maria had an amiable smile on all the time. Can you imagine them
dining in a public room in an English hotel! The idea would horrify her,
but she says no one should make fusses travelling, and I believe she would
look just as pleased if we were shipwrecked on a desert island.

There was no salon to sit in after dinner, and the moon came out, so Mr.
Renour suggested we ought to see the church, which is one of the things
marked in the guide book. Uncle John said he would light his cigar and come
with us, while Aunt Maria went to bed, but when we got outside the dear old
fellow seemed tired and was quite glad to return when I suggested it; so
the American and I went on alone. I must say, Mamma, it is lovely being
married, when one comes to think of it, being able to stroll out like this
with a young man all alone;--and I have never had the chance before, with
Harry always so jealous, and forever at my heels. I shall make hay while
the sun shines! He was so nice. He told me all about himself--he is a very
rich mine owner--out West in America, and began as a poor boy without any
education, who went out first as a cow-boy on a ranch and then took to
mining and got a stroke of luck, and now owns the half of the great Osage
Mine. And he is only twenty-nine. "I kinder felt I ought to see Europe," he
said, "never having been further East than Chicago; so I came over at
Christmas time and have been around in this machine ever since." He calls
his automobile, an immense 90 h.p. Charon, his "machine!" He said all this
so simply, as if it were quite natural to tell a stranger his life story,
and he is perfectly direct--only you have to speak to him with the meaning
you intend in the words. Metaphor is not the least use: he answers

The church was shut, and as we had no excuse to stay out longer we strolled
back. He was intensely respectful, and he ended up by saying he found me
just the nicest girl he had seen "this side." I was so pleased. I hope he
will come on the rest of the way with us; we start at dawn. So good night,
dearest Mamma.

Your affectionate daughter,



Dearest Mamma,--You will be surprised to hear my plans! Octavia came over
from Monte Carlo directly we arrived, and in less than ten minutes had got
most of the story of Harry's and my quarrel out of me. I never meant to
tell her anything, but she is such a dear. She said at once that she should
take care of me, as she could not have me running about alone. And I really
can't stand any more of the honeymoon pair--and sitting three in the back
seat. So prepare yourself for a great surprise, Mamma! I am going to
America with Tom and Octavia! They sail in the Lusitania next Saturday and
we are flying back to England tonight. I shan't have any clothes but I
don't care; I shall not worry over that. We are going to see New York and
then go right out to California, where Tom is going on to Mexico to kill
tarpons or shoot turtles or whatever they do there.

The rest of our journey after Tonnerre was simple. At each place Mr. Renour
was just in front of us, and showed us the way, and we grew quite to feel
he was one of our party. Uncle John is devoted to him--and Aunt Maria, too.
She says considering he speaks a foreign language--he does almost!--it is
wonderful how he makes her hear!

Avignon interested me. It looks so wally and fortified, but I am greatly
disappointed, the romantic story of Petrarque and his Laure is all
nonsense. I find Laure had eleven children in about fifteen years, the
guide said, and Petrarque continued making sonnets to her, never minding
that a bit. Now do you believe it, Mamma? A man to stay in love for twenty
years with a woman who kept on having eleven children all the image of the
husband as good as gold! I don't! Petrarque was probably some tiresome prig
like all poets, and thought her a suitable peg to hang his verses on.

Mr. Renour and I are so friendly. He is not with us now because he had to
go to Monte Carlo, so he does not yet know I am going to America. He still
thinks I am not married--and do you know, Mamma, I believe he is falling in
love with me--and I feel rather mean--but I expect we shan't see him before
we start, so it will not so much matter. This morning quantities of flowers
came up to my room with his card, and just written underneath, "got to meet
a man at Monte Carlo, shan't be gone long." I am leaving him a note
thanking him and saying we are off to his country. I have signed it,
"Elizabeth Valmond" of course, so that may illuminate him--but I still feel
rather mean.

We are only to be away two months and I think the change will do me good,
and I know you will take every care of Hurstbridge and Ermyntrude. I hate
not having time to run over to see you and them, but Octavia says it can't
possibly be done, and I am not to be silly; that two months is nothing, and
I shall be back again at the original time you were to bring them to
England--so I suppose she is right. I shall send Harry a cable to meet him
at Zanzibar. He can't stop me then because we shall be on the sea, and if
he is furious I shall be doubly pleased.

Aunt Maria and Uncle John have been so kind, but I can see are relieved
Octavia is going to take me. They have grown more sentimental. At each
place we come to they recollect some tender passage of their former trip.
It seems Aunt Maria's hysterics ended at Folkstone. Octavia says she means
really to see America and not only go to the houses of the smart people one
knows when they are in England, because she is sure there are lots of other
kinds quite as interesting and more original. We are to stay in New York
and then go West. I shall not have a moment to write until I am on the
ship, and trust I shall not be seasick.

Fondest love to my two angels and yourself,

Your affectionate daughter,


_Fourth day out_.

Dearest Mamma,--It is perfectly delightful being at sea--in this
ship--because you don't really know you are on the hateful element. We have
a charming suite with two real windows and beds, and even Agnes has not
grumbled. There are lots of American on board, and really these travelling
ones are quite as bad as the awful English people one meets on the
Continent, only instead of having stick out teeth and elephants' feet,
their general shapes are odd. It appears as if in the beginning Peter, or
someone, called up to the Creator that so many thousands of arms and legs
and bodies and heads were wanted to make this new nation, and so the
requisite amount were pitched down and then joined up without anyone's
worrying to get them en suite. Thus A seems to have received B's head with
C's arms, his own body and D's legs--and so on; not the least thought shown
in their construction. They seem rough-hewn--with foreheads too prominent
or noses too big, or too square shoulders or too deep set eyes, nearly
always too something--and the women the same; whereas the children (there
are only a few of them fortunately) are really impossible. There is one
family of the fattest boys you ever saw--simply like the pictures of the
fat boy of Peckham, and a little girl of six called Matilda. Matilda is
certainly over thirty in her conversation--she told me she was sick of
ocean travelling--her eighth voyage; and she was sick of the Continent,
too--you get no good candy there and her Momma did nothing but shop. She
has the voice of a young peacock and the repartee of a Dublin car
driver--absolutely "all there." They are fairly rich "store keepers" from
Buffalo. The mother has nerves, the father dyspepsia and the nurse is
seasick, so Matilda is quite her own mistress, and rushes over the entire
ship conversing with everyone. She is most amusing for a short time, if it
were not pathetic. She plays off one fat boy (cousins they are of hers)
against the other, and one steward against another for biscuits and
figs--with the most consummate skill. It is no wonder if this quality can
be perfected so young by Americans that they can snatch all our best young
men from us when they grow up.

I don't know how it is the most unattractive creatures of every nation seem
to be the ones who travel. There is a family of English who have the next
table to us, for instance; they make us blush for our country. The two
young men are the most impossible bounders one could meet, and I am sure
their names must be Percy and Ernest! When there was a dance last night
they smoked pipes in the faces of their partners between the valses, and
altogether were unspeakably aggressive. No American in the world would
behave like that to women. I really think the English middle classes are
the most odious--except, perhaps, the Germans--of any people on earth. And
as these are the ones other nations see most of, no wonder they hate us.

Octavia is so entertained at everything. We have not spoken to anyone
except one family who sit near us on the deck, and they have asked us to
stay with them at their country place on the New Jersey shore. But--Oh! I
forgot to tell you, Mamma, Mr. Renour is on board. Is it not a strange
coincidence? He seemed very surprised to see us, and for a moment it was
quite awkward when I introduced him to Octavia--because she, not being deaf
like Aunt Maria, I knew would hear him calling me Lady Elizabeth and think
it odd, and he would be certain to discover from her that I am married. So
the best thing to do seemed to be to take a walk with him at once on the
top deck and explain matters--this was just before dinner in the twilight.

He told me it was unkind to have given him the slip as we did, and that he
had had "quite a worry" to "come up with" us--but if I imagined he was
going to let me get out of range again I was mistaken! You can't think,
Mamma, how difficult it was to screw up my courage to tell him I was
married--he has such nice brown eyes;--and although his language is more
remarkable than anything you ever heard, he is not the least little bit
common. At last I blurted it out straight and explained and asked him to
forgive me. He looked away at the sea for quite five minutes and his jaw
was square as a box. Then he turned round and held out his hand. "Say," he
said, "I expect you didn't mean to play a low down trick on me but it has
hit pretty straight anyway. We'll shake hands and I reckon I'll keep out of
your track for a day or so till I size up things and put them on the new
elevation." And then he went away, saying, "Good evening, Lady Valmond." I
could have cried, Mamma, I felt so small and paltry. He is a great big
splendid creature and I wish I had not been so silly as to pretend in the
beginning. Octavia thinks him delightful. He never appeared for two
days--then he came up as if nothing had happened; only he looks at my hat
or my chin or my feet now and never into my eyes as before, and he calls me
Lady Valmond every other minute--and that is irritating. We shall get in
to-morrow and this will be posted at Sandy Hook, so good-night, dearest

Your affectionate daughter,



Dearest Mamma,--We are here now, so this is where to address your letters.
We went to another hotel first but we could not stand the impudence of the
servants, and having to shout down the telephone for everything instead of
ringing a bell--and here it is much nicer and one is humanly waited on.

America is too quaint. Crowds of reporters came on board to interview us!
We never dreamed that they would bother just private people, but it was
because of the titles, I suppose. Tom was furious but Octavia was
delighted. She said she wanted to see all the American customs and if
talking to reporters was one of them, she wanted that, too. So she was
sweetly gracious and never told them a word of truth.

They were perfectly polite, but they asked direct questions, how we liked
America (we had not landed!), how long we were going to stay, what was our
object in coming there, what we thought of the American divorce, etc., etc.
All but two were the same type: very prominent foreheads, deep set eyes,
white faces, origin South of France or Corsican mixed with Jew to look at,
with the astounding American acuteness added, and all had the expression of
a good terrier after a rat--the most intense concentration.

When we actually landed female ones attacked us, but Octavia who, as you
know, doesn't really care for women, was not nearly so nice to them, and
their articles in the papers about us are virulent!

"Lady Chevenix is a homely looking person with henna-assisted hair and the
true British haughty manner," they put! They were not so disagreeable about
me, but not flattering. Then they snap-shotted us, and Octavia really does
look rather odd, as her nose got out of focus, I suppose, and appears like
Mr. Punch's; underneath is written, "An English Peeress and Society
Beauty." We laughed so!

New York Harbour is a wonderful sight, but you have read all about it
often. The streets by it are awful, badly paved and hideous architecture,
immense tall houses here and there, gaunt and staring like giants who have
seen Medusa's head and been turned into stone. Farther up town the
buildings are all much the same, so their huge height does not show so
greatly as with a few lower ones in between.

Every creature in the street has got a purposeful determined air, and even
the horses, many of them without blinkers, have it, too, I wonder if we
shall catch it before we leave. Nobody appears English--I mean of origin,
even if their name is Smith or Brown; every other nation, with the strong
stamp of "American" dominating whatever country they originally hailed
from, but not English. They have all the appearance of rushing to some
special place, not just taking a walk to nowhere.

You would have to come here to understand the insolence of the servants in
most places. We naturally ordered tea (down the telephone) when we arrived,
and presently a waiter brought a teapot and two cups and nothing else; and
when we remonstrated he picked his teeth and grinned and said, "If you
don't ask for what you want you won't get it. You said tea, and you've got
tea, you never mentioned sugar and milk." Then he bounced off, and when the
lift boy whistled as he brought me up, and the Irish chambermaid began to
chat to Octavia, she said she could not bear it any longer, and Tom must go
out and find another hotel. So late last night we got here, which is
charming; perhaps the attendants are paid extra for manners. But even here
they call Octavia "Lady Chevenix" and me "Lady Valmond" every minute--never
just "My Lady" like at home, and I am sure they would rather die than say
"Your Ladyship!"

Mr. Renour had to leave us; we were so sorry, but he got a telegram as we
landed, saying the superintendent of his mine had been shot and there was
"trouble" out there, so he had to fly off at once. However, we have
promised to go and stay with him presently and he is going to show us all
the mining camps.

To-day we have rested, and quantities of the people one knows in London
sent us flowers, and they are the best I have ever seen--roses so enormous
they look like peonies, and on colossal stalks--in fact, everything is
twice the size of at home.

We are going to dine at Sherry's to-night with a party. It is the
fashionable restaurant, and I will finish when I come back.

1:30 A.M.

Everything is so amusing! and we have had a delightful evening. It is more
like Paris than England, because one wears a hat at dinner, which I always
think looks so much better in a restaurant. The party was about eighteen,
and I sat next the host. American men; as far as I have yet seen, are of
quite another sex to English or French--I mean you feel more as if you were
out with kind Aunts or Grandmothers or benevolent Uncles than just men.
They don't try to make the least love to you or say things with two
meanings, and they are perfectly brotherly and serious, unless they are
telling anecdotes with American humour--and that is not subtle. It is
something that makes you laugh the moment you hear it, you have not to
think a scrap. When they are not practically English, like the ones we see
in London every season, they wear such funny clothes--often velvet collars
on their coats! and the shoulders padded out so that every man is perfectly
square; but everything looks extraordinarily well sewn and ironed and
everybody is clean shaven; and Octavia says it takes at least two hundred
years of gently bred ancestors to look like a gentleman clean shaven in
evening dress, so perhaps that is why lots of them have the appearance of
actors. Tom, with his ugly face and his long lean limbs, seemed as some
other species of animal, or a Derby winner let loose among a pen of prize
hackneys and cobs. Many of them are splendid of their kind, but it is
perfectly absurd to pretend they look thoroughbred. One would not expect it
of animals, with their mixed ancestry, so why of human beings.

Octavia says they would be insulted to hear me saying that, but I am sure
they are far too sensible and logical; for if you were a mixture of cart
horse, hunter, thoroughbred, Shetland and cob, you might have the good
qualities of all and be a magnificent splendid creature, but you could not
expect to look like one of the direct descendants of the Godolphin Arabian,
could you, Mamma?

I don't mind that part in the least, but I would rather they had a more
outdoor expression. As I looked round the room numbers of their faces
seemed pasty, and their shapes thick through, and soft, as if they would
bruise easily if one touched them, and lived a good deal in the dark. Also
they don't have "flowers and honey" on their hair, so it does not shine and
keep tidy, and it is not brushed smartly; and after our lovely guardsmen
they look a little ungroomed about the head. This, of course, is only my
first impression, after seeing the fashionable restaurant one evening. I
may be quite wrong, generally speaking.

The women are so exquisitely dressed that it is difficult to form an
opinion. They have whatever is the latest fashion, perfectly made; all
their hair is done exactly alike in the way it is worn in Paris. Their
figures have the last "look" and their jewels are simply divine. With all
this beyond criticism, it is very difficult to say whether they are
beautiful or not, naturally; the general effect is so perfect. They, as far
as grooming and superlative "turnedoutness" is concerned (I had to make a
new word), are the counterpart of our guardsmen.

The food was exquisite and we had terrapin and canvas back ducks; and they
are both the best things you ever tasted, only when you cut the duck you
have to look the other way, and take the first bite with your eyes shut,
because it has only run through the kitchen. And one would prefer to have
the terrapin alone in one's room, because of the bones--a greater test in
nice eating than the bunch of grapes which were given to the young diplomat
in the story book.

But to begin with, I have not told you of the cocktail! I had to have one.
You are handed it before anything else, while you are waiting for the soup,
and it tastes like ipecacuanha wine mixed with brandy and something bitter
and a touch of orange; but you have not swallowed it five minutes when you
feel you have not a care in the world and nothing matters. You can't think,
Mamma, how insidious and delightful--but of course I could not possibly
have drunk anything after it, and I was so surprised to see everyone else
swallowing champagne all through dinner; so I suppose it is a thing one
gets accustomed to.

Now I am very sleepy, so good-night, dear Mamma.

Kisses to my angels.

Your affectionate daughter,


_Up the Hudson_.

Dearest Mamma,--A whole week since we landed! and we are terribly amused
("terribly" is American for "much"); and do you know that describes almost
everything in comparison to at home. Everything is "colossalised"--events,
fortunes, accidents, climate, conversation, ambitions--everything is in the
extreme--all en-gros, not en-detail. They can't even have a tram run off a
line, which in England or France might kill one or two people, without its
making a holocaust of half a street full. Even in their hospitality they
are twice the size of other nations, simply too kind and generous for
words. They have loaded us with invitations; we have been out morning, noon
and night.

The thing which surprises me is they should still employ animals of normal
size; one would expect to see elephants and mammoths drawing the hansoms
and carts!

Now we are staying in a country palace with the family we met on the boat,
whom the Americans we know in England would not speak to; in fact, I am
sure they are rather hurt at our coming here; but Octavia says she prefers
to see something we do not see in England. The Van Verdens, and Courtfields
and Latours are almost like us, only they are richer and have better French
furniture. So she says she wants to see the others, the American Americans
we don't meet at home. If people are nice in themselves how can it matter
who they are or if "fashionable" or not. The whole thing is nonsense and if
you belong to a country where the longest tradition is sixteen hundred and
something, and your ancestor got there then through being a middle class
puritan, or a ne'er-do-weel shipped off to colonise a savage land, it is
too absurd to boast about ancestry or worry in the least over such things.
The facts to be proud of are the splendid, vivid, vital, successful
creatures they are now, no matter what their origin; but just like
Hurstbridge and Ermyntrude in the nursery, the one thing they can't have
they think immensely of. Nearly everyone tells you here, their
great-great-grandfather came over in the Mayflower. (How absurd of the
Cunard line to be proud of the Mauretania! The Mayflower, of course, must
have been twice the size.) I wonder if in Virginia they would inform us
theirs were the original cavaliers. I don't expect so, because cavaliers
always were gentlemen, and puritans of any century only of the middle
classes. Fancy if we had to announce to strangers that Tom's ancestor
carried the standard at Agincourt and Octavia's and mine came over with the

Even in a week Tom has got so wearied about the Mayflower that yesterday at
lunch when some new people came, and one woman began again, he said his
father had collected rags and bones, and his great-great-grandfather was
hung for sheep stealing! The woman nearly had a fit, and I heard her
reproaching our hostess afterwards, as she said she had been invited to
meet an English Earl! And the poor hostess looked so unhappy and came and
asked me in such a worried voice if it were really true; so I told her I
thought not exactly, but that the late Earl had a wonderful collection of
Persian carpets and ivories which Tom might be alluding to. Even this did
not comfort her, I could see she was still troubled over the sheep
stealing, and the only thing I could think of to explain that was about the
eighth Earl, don't you remember, Mamma? who was beheaded for the Old

But the exquisite part of it all is the lady Tom told the story to was
interviewed directly she got home, I suppose, for this morning in most of
the papers there are headlines six inches tall:




Tom is so enchanted he is going to have them framed for the smoking room at
Chevenix. But our hostess is too unhappy and burns to get him to deny it
publicly. "My dear lady," Tom said, "would you have me deny I've got a
green nose?" She looked so puzzled, "Oh, Lord Chevenix," she said, "why, of
course you have not. A little sunburnt, perhaps--but _green!"_ Think
of it, Mamma! Octavia and I nearly collapsed, and she is such a nice woman,
too, and not really a fool; bright and cheery and sensible; but I am afraid
out here they don't yet quite understand Tom, or Octavia either, for the
matter of that.

There is a lovely place in New York called the Riverside Drive, charming
houses looking straight out on the Hudson. But if you live in that part
none of the Four Hundred or Two Hundred and Fifty, or whatever it is, would
visit you, hardly. These people we are staying with now have a mansion
there but are soon going to move. The daughter, Natalie, told me to-day,
that after this her Poppa would also take a house at Newport, because now
they would have no difficulty in getting into the swim!

We came here for the Sunday and it was raining when we arrived--after an
odious train journey. Tom's valet and both the maids are perfectly at sea
as yet, and while burning with rage over the lack of, and indifference of,
the porters, are too scornfully haughty to adapt themselves to
circumstances; so they still bring unnecessary hand luggage and argue with
the conductor. We made a mistake in the train and there was no Pullman, so
that means there is only one class. It really is so quaint. Mamma, having
to travel as if it were third. It amused me immensely, two people on a seat
on either side and an aisle through the middle down which the ticket
collector walks, and for most of the journey a child raced backwards and
forwards, jumping with sticky hands clinging to the sides of each seat
while it sucked candy. The mother screeched, "Say, Willie, if you don't
quit that game, I'll tell your pa when we get home!" However, Willie
shouted, "You bet," and paid not the least attention!

Nearly everywhere where you have to come in contact with people in an
obviously inferior or menial position, manners don't exist. They seem to
think they can demonstrate their equality, if not superiority, by being as
rude as possible. Of course if they were really the ladies and gentlemen
they are trying to prove they are, they would be courteous and gentle. The
attitude is, "I'm as good as you, indeed better!" Either you are a
gentleman or woman, aren't you, Mamma? and you do not have to demonstrate
it, everyone can see it; or you are not, and no amount of your own
assertion that you are will make anyone believe you. So, of what use to be
rude, or clamour, or boast? Doesn't it make you laugh, Mamma? Though it
surprises me here because as a people they are certainly more intelligent
than any other people on earth, and one would have thought they would have
seen how futile and funny that side of them is.

The talk of equality is just as much nonsense in America as in every other
place under the sun. How can people be called equal when the Browns won't
know the Smiths! And the Van Brounckers won't know either, and Fifth Avenue
does not bow to the West Side, and everyone is striving to "go one better"
than his neighbour.

Station is as strictly defined as in England, where the village grocer's
daughter at Valmond no longer could speak to a school friend, a little
general servant who came to fetch treacle at the shop, when Pappa Grocer
bought a piano! So you see, Mamma, it is in human nature, whether you are
English or American, if you haven't a sense of humour. I suppose you have
to be up where we are for it all to seem nonsense and not to matter; and,
who knows? If there were another grade beyond us we might be just the same,
too; but it is trash to talk of equality. Even a Socialist leader thinks
himself above the crowd--and is, too, though I should imagine that the
American middle and lower classes would assert they have no equal but
God--if they don't actually look down on Him.

How I am rambling on, and I wanted to tell you heaps of things! I shall
never get them all into this letter.

When we arrived at this palace it was, as I say, raining, but that did not
prevent the marble steps from being decorated with three footmen at equal
distances to usher us into the care of a cabinet minister-looking butler,
and then through a porphyry hall hung with priceless tapestry and some
shockingly glaring imitation Elizabethan oak chairs--to the library, where
our hostess awaited us in a magnificent decollete tea gown, and at least
forty thousand pounds' worth of pearls. Natalie had the sweetest of frocks
possible and was quite simple and nice, and there is not the least
difference in her to the daughters of any of our "smart" friends.

The library was a library because they told us so, but there were not any
books there, only groups of impossible furniture covered with magnificent
brocade, and the finest flowers one ever saw, most perfectly put in huge
vases by a really clever gardener; no subtle arrangement of colours, but
every blossom the largest there could be in nature. The tea seemed to get
mostly poured out by the servants, and the table was covered with a cloth
so encrusted with Venetian lace one's cup was unsteady on it. That is one
of the most remarkable points here--I mean America--as far as I have seen.
The table cloths at every meal are masses of lace, and every sort of
wonderful implement in the way of different gold forks and knives for every
dish lie by your plate; and such exquisite glass; and some even have old
polished tables like Aunt Maria, but instead of the simple slips they have
mats and centrepieces and squares of magnificent lace. Only the very
highest cream of the inner elect have plain table cloths and a little
silver like we do at home. And it is always a "party"--everyone is
conscious they are there, and they either assume bad manners or good ones,
but nobody is sans gene. Octavia says it takes as long to be that as to
look like a gentleman clean shaven in evening dress. The rooms are awfully
hot, steam heated up to about 75, and it makes your head swim after a
while. There is only the son and a married daughter and husband in the
house besides ourselves and two young men. We should call them bank clerks
at home, and that is, I suppose, what they are here; only it is all
different. Every man works just like our middle classes; it is not the
least unaristocratic to be a lawyer or a doctor or a wholesale
store-keeper, or any profession you can name, so long as it makes you rich.
A man who does nothing is not considered to "amount to anything," and he
generally doesn't, either! And I suppose it must be the climate, because
directly they get immensely rich, so that the sons need not work, when it
gets to the third generation, they often are invalids or weaklings, or have
some funny vice or mania, and lots of them die of drink; which shows it is
intended in some climates for men to work. Octavia says it takes centuries
of wielding battle-axes and commanding vassals to give the consciousness of
superiority which enables people to be idle without being vicious; but Tom
says it is because they don't hunt and shoot, and go to the bench, and
attend to their estates and county business; so instead they have to go
crazy over fast motoring or flying machines, or any fad which is uppermost,
not having any traditions of how their forefathers passed their time.

Last night there was a dinner party and some such clever men came. They
were great financiers or business men or heads of Trusts. That means you
have a splendid opportunity to speculate, only if anything goes wrong you
have to chance all your other associates on the trust turning against you
and saying it was all your fault, and then you generally have to commit
suicide; but while you are head you can become frightfully rich and
respected. I sat between two of the most successful of different things,
and they talked all the time. They don't want to hear what you have to say,
only to tell you about themselves and their ideas, so it is most
interesting. They are not the least cultivated in literature or art or
anything decorative, but full of ideas upon the future evolution of schemes
and things; really intensely clever, some of them. Only the odd part of it
is they don't seem to speculate upon what the marvellous conglomeration of
false proportions, unbalance and luxury are going to bring their nation to,
if they are not careful.

Mr. Spleist (that is our host's name) is so kind! He spoils his wife and
Natalie more even than Harry spoils Ermyntrude; and the son-in-law is just
the same to his wife. American husbands fetch and carry and come to heel
like trained spaniels, and it is perfectly lovely; everything is so simple.
If you happen to get bored with your husband, or he has a cold in his head,
or anything that gets on your nerves, or you suddenly fancy some other man,
you have not got all the bother and subterfuge of taking him for a lover
and chancing a scandal like in England. You simply get your husband to let
_you_ divorce _him,_ and make him give you heaps of money, and
you keep the children if you happen to want them; or--there is generally
only one--you agree to give that up for an extra million if he fancies it;
and then you go off and marry your young man when he is free; because all
American men are married, and he will have had to get his wife to divorce
him. But when it is all "through," then it is comfortable and tidy, only
the families get mixed after a while, and people have to be awfully careful
not to ask them out to dinner together. One little girl at a dancing class
is reported to have said to another: "What do you think of your new Papa? I
think he is a mean cuss. He gave me no candy when he was mine."

Octavia says, from a morality standard, she does not see there is the least
difference to our lovers in England and France, but I do, because here they
have the comforting sense of the law finding it all right. The only
tiresome part of it is, it must quite take away the zest of forbidden fruit
that European nations get out of such affairs.

Our bedrooms are marvels. Mine is immense, with two suites of impossible
rococo Louis XV. furniture in it; the richest curtains with heaps of
arranged draperies and fringe, grand writing table things, a few
embroidered cushions; but no new books, or comfy sofas, or look of cosy
anywhere. The bathrooms to each room are superb; miles beyond one's ideas
of them in general at home. Tom says he can't sleep because the embroidered
monograms on the pillows and things scratch his cheek, and the lace frills
tickle his nose, while he catches his toes in the Venetian insertion in the
sheets. The linen itself is the finest you ever saw, Mamma, and would be
too exquisite plain. Now one knows where all those marvellously over-worked
things in the Paris shops go to, and all the wonderful gold incrusted
Carlsbad glass. You meet it here in every house.

The gardens are absurd, as compared with ours in England, but they have far
better glass houses and forcing processes and perfection of each plant;
because you see even the gardener would feel his had to be just one better
than the people's next door. They are far prouder of these imported things
than their divine natural trees, or the perfectly glorious view over the
Hudson, and insisted upon us examining all that, while Mr. Spleist told us
how much it all cost and would not let us linger to get the lovely picture
of the river and the opposite shore; until Octavia said we had a few
greenhouses at home and some fairly fine gardens, but nowhere had we so
noble a river or so vast a view, and he seemed to be quite hurt at all
that, because he had not bought them, I suppose! And yet, Mamma, I cannot
tell you what kind, nice people the Spleists really are; only the strange
quality of boast and application of personal material gain is most

The outside of the house is brownish red sandstone, and is a wonderful
mixture of all styles.

There is no room in it where there is any look of what we call "home," and
not one shabby thing. Mrs. Spleist has a "boudoir"--and it is a boudoir! It
is as if you went into the best shop and said, "I want a boudoir;" just as
you would, "I want a hat," and paid for it and brought it home with you.
Natalie has a sitting-room, and it is just the same. They are not quite far
enough up yet on the social ladder to have every corner of the
establishment done by Duveen, and the result is truly appalling.

The food is wonderful, extraordinarily good; but although the footmen are
English they don't wait anything like as well as if they had remained at
home; and Octavia's old maid, Wilbor, told her the hurly burly downstairs
is beyond description; snatching their meals anywhere, with no time or
etiquette or housekeeper's room; all, everyone for himself, and the devil
take the hindmost. And the absolutely disrespectful way they speak of their
master and mistress--machines to make money out of, they seem to
think--perfectly astonished Wilbor, who highly disapproves of it all.
Agnes, having a French woman's eye to the main chance, says, "N'importe,
ici on gagne beaucoup d'argent!" So probably she will leave me before we

What volumes I have written, dearest Mamma!

Best love from your,

Affectionate daughter,



Dearest Mamma,--Octavia and I feel we are growing quite "rattled." (Do
forgive me for using such a word, but it is American and describes us.) The
telephone rings from the moment we wake until we go out, and reporters wait
to pounce upon us if we leave our rooms. We are entertained at countless
feasts, and to-morrow we are going down town to lunch at a city restaurant,
after seeing the Stock Exchange, so I will tell you of that presently. We
can't do or say a thing that a totally different and garbled version of it
does not appear in the papers, often with pictures; and yesterday, while
Octavia was out with me, she was made to have given an interview upon
whether or no Mr. Roosevelt should propose a law to enforce American wives
to each have at least six children! It is printed that she asked how many
husbands they were allowed, and the reporter lady who writes the interview
expresses herself as quite shocked; but Octavia said, when she read it this
morning, that she thought whoever was speaking for her asked a very
sensible question. What do you think, Mamma? Octavia is enchanted with all
these things, and is keeping a large scrap book. But the one we like best
was in the Sunday's paper, when there was a full sheet with dark hints as
to our private lives by "One Who Knows."

All the history of the little dancer Ottalie Cheveny was tacked on to
Octavia's past! The name sounding something the same is quite enough reason
for its being Octavia's story here! Tom is having this one put with his
collection for the smoking-room, because he says when Octavia "fluffs"
(that, I think, means "ruffles") him, he will be able to look up at it and
think of "what might have been!"

I am said to be here while a divorce is being arranged by my family because
Harry has gone off to India with a fair haired widow!!! Think, Mamma, of
his rage when I send him a copy. Isn't it lovely?

We are enjoying ourselves more than I can say, and they are perfect dears,
most of the people who entertain us;--so gay and merry and kind;--and we
are growing quite accustomed to the voices and the odd grammar and
phrasing. At first you get a singing in your head from the noise of a room
full of people speaking. They simply scream, and it makes a peculiar echo,
as if the walls were metal. Everyone talks at once, and no one ever listens
to anything the person near them says.

A ladies' lunch is like this: Octavia and I arrive at a gorgeous mansion,
and are ushered into a marvellous Louis XV. morning room, with wonderful
tapestry furniture and beautiful pictures arranged rather like a museum.
There is never a look of the mistress of the house having settled anything
herself, or chosen a pillow because the colours in a certain sofa required
it; or, in fact, there is never the expression of any individuality of
ownership; anyone could have just such another house if he or she were rich
enough to give carte blanche to the best antique art shop; but the things
all being really good and beautiful do not jar like the mixture at the
Spleists did. Often whole rooms have been brought out, just as they were,
from foreign palaces, panelling, pictures and all, and it gives such a
quaint sense of unreality to feel the old atmosphere in this young,
vigorous country. The hostess's bedroom and boudoir and bath room are often
shown to us, and they are all masterpieces of decoration and luxury; and I
can't think how they can keep on feeling as good as gold in them! Perfectly
lovely luxurious surroundings always make me long for Harry to play with,
or some other nice young man--did not they you, Mamma, when you were young
and felt things?

About twenty other women are probably there besides us, all dressed in the
most expensive magnificent afternoon frocks; and they all have lovely
Cartier jewelled watches, and those beautiful black ribbon and diamond
chains round their necks, like Harry gave me last birthday. No one wears
old fashioned or ugly jewels, all are in exquisite taste, while the pearls
at one lunch would have paid for a kingdom.

When everyone has been presented to us, being the strangers, luncheon is
announced, and we go into a magnificent dining-room, sometimes with the
blinds so much drawn that we have to have electric lights. The footmen are
in full dress, with silk stockings, and one or two places they had them
powdered, and that did make Octavia smile. I don't think one ought to have
powder unless it has been the custom of the family for generations, do you,
Mamma? Well, then, beside each person's plate, beyond the countless food
implements lying on the lace-encrusted cloth, are lovely bunches of
orchids, or whatever is the most rare and difficult to get; and cocktails
have sometimes been handed in the salon before, and sometimes are handed in
the dining-room, but at the ladies' lunches in very small glasses.

With such heaps of divorces, in a very large party you can't help having
some what Mrs. Van Brounker-Courtfield (a perfect old darling of nearly
eighty whom we lunched with on Wednesday) calls "court relations,"
together; by that meaning, supposing Mrs. A. has divorced Mr. A., and
re-married Mr. B., who has been divorced by Mrs. B., who has re-married Mr.
C., who happened to be a widower with grown up married daughters--then the
daughters and the present Mrs. B., late Mrs. A., would be "court
relations," and might meet at lunch. Mr. A. himself and his present wife
would also be the late Mrs. B.'s and present Mrs. C.'s court relations. Do
you understand, Mamma? It is the sort of ones connected with the case whom
it would be unpleasant to speak about it to, but not the actual principals.
And when I asked Mrs. Van Brounker-Courtfield why she called them "court
relations" she said because the divorce court was their common ground of
connection, and it was a very good reason, and quite as true as calling
people blood relations in London or Paris! And that pleased Octavia very
much, because she said it was the first subtle thing she had heard in New
York. But I must get on with the lunch.

You begin your clam broth (such an "exquit" soup, as Ermyntrude would call
it), and the lady next you says she has been "just crazy" to meet you, and
heaps of nice things that make you pleased with yourself and ready to enjoy
your food. You are just going to say something civil in return, and get a
few words out, when your neighbour interrupts you with more nice things,
and stacks of questions, and remarks about herself, all rather
disconnected, and before you can speak again, the lady beyond, or even
across the table, has interpolated with a sentence beginning always like
this, "Now let me tell you something;" and long before she can get to the
end of that, the person at her side has interrupted her. And so it goes on.
It sounds as if I were telling you of another Mad Hatter's tea party,
Mamma, but it is not at all; and it is wonderful how much sense you can get
out of it, and what amusing and clever bright things they say, though at
the end you feel a little confused; and what with the smell of the
innumerable flowers and the steam heated rooms, and the cigarettes, I can't
think how they have wits enough left to play bridge all the afternoon, as
they do, with never a young man to wake them up. Of course it is amusing
for Octavia and me to see all this, as we are merely visitors, but fancy,
Mamma! doing it as a part of one's life! Dressing up and making oneself
splendid and attractive to meet only _women!_

They are not the least interested in politics or the pursuits of their
husbands or brothers, and hardly any of them have the duties we have to do,
like opening bazaars and giving away prizes and being heads of all sorts of
organisations, nor do they have quantities of tenants' welfare to look
after, or be responsible for anything. Of course they must pass the time
somehow, and they all have secretaries who take every sort of ordinary
trouble of notes and letters and things off their shoulders, so they ought
to be awfully happy, oughtn't they? But they often have nerves or some
imaginary disease or fad, and are frightfully restless, and Octavia says it
is because in the natural development of the female of any country, numbers
of these are really at the stage when they should be doing manual labour,
according to their ancestry, and so having nothing to occupy them and
living in every dreamed-of luxury, they get nerves instead. But I think it
is because they never have nice young men to play with, everyone being busy
working down town in the day time. We are told that even when the husbands
do come home before dinner they are too tired to talk much, and as I said
before nearly all the men, married or single, make you feel as good as
gold, so it is no wonder such numbers of beautiful Americans come to
Europe. I am quite sure if we had to lead their life we would turn into the
most awful creatures. It is greatly to their credit they remain so nice.

When you can get one or two alone to have a connected conversation they are
perfectly charming, and often very cultivated, and nearly always knowing
about music; but sometimes, supposing one is discussing a phaze of the
Renaissance, say, they will suddenly speak of something as belonging to it
of quite another period, and you feel perfectly nonplussed, it seems so
remarkable with the clever things they have just said they can make such
mistakes. Perhaps it's that they do not study any one subject very deeply.

One thing is noticeable and nice. The conversations everywhere are all
absolutely "jeune fille"; never anything the least "risque," though it is
often amusing.

Among the "smart set" (do forgive this awful term, Mamma, but I mean by
that the ones who are "in the swim" and whose society is the goal of the
other's desire: I don't know what else to call them) they don't often tell
you about the Mayflower and their ancestors; though on Wednesday a
frightfully rich person who has only lately been admitted into this inner
circle because her daughters have both married foreign Princes, said to me,
she loved the English, and was indeed English herself and some distant
connection of our King, being descended from Queen Elizabeth!!! It was
rather unfortunate her having pitched upon our Virgin Queen, wasn't it,
Mamma!? But perhaps as she had rather an Italian look it was the affair of
the Venetian attache, and when I suggested that to her, she gazed at me
blankly and said, "Why, no, there never has been any side-tracking in our
family; we've always been virtuous and always shall be."

Now that you know, generally, what a luncheon is, I must tell you of the
particular one at Mrs. Van Brounker-Courtfield's. She is the dearest old
lady you ever met, Mamma--witty and quaint and downright, with an immense
chic--grey hair brushed up into the most elaborate coiffure, jet black eyes
with the wickedest twinkle in them, and a strong cleft in a double chin.
She is rather stout but has Paris clothes and perfect jewels. She is not a
bit like English old ladies, sticking to their hideous early Victorian
settings for their diamonds; hers are the very latest, and although she is
seventy-eight, she crosses the ocean twice a year to have her frocks
fitted, and see what is going on.

She was of a real old Southern family, before the war, very rich and
aristocratic. She, of course, never mentions the Mayflower or the
cavaliers, but you can read all about her ancestors in any history of
America. She has such a strong sense of humour and the fitness of things,
that she has adapted herself to the present, instead of remaining aloof and
going to the wall as she told me so many of her friends and relations did.

We met at Mrs. Latour's (you know Valerie Latour, Lady Holloway's sister;
when she is in England she often stays with us at Valmond). She took to
Octavia and me at once, and we to her, and on Wednesday we lunched with
her, and when Queen Elizabeth's descendant, Mrs. Clerehart, said what I
told you, she caught my eye, and you never saw such a look of fun in a
human eye, and we became great friends at once. She says one must take New
York as it is, and one will find it a most amusing place. She never
hesitates to say what she thinks anywhere, and lots of people hate her, and
most of them are afraid of her, but all find it an honour when she will
receive them.

"My dear," she said, "in my young days there were gentle people and common
people, but now there is no distinction in society, only one of dollars and
cents, and whether you get into the right swim or not. I receive all sorts,
and some of the last risen are quite the nicest, and amuse me more than my
own old friends!"

She says the young men in New York are mostly awful, according to her
ideas, and nearly all drink too many cocktails, and that is what makes them
so unreserved when they get to their clubs, so the women can't have them
for lovers because they talk about it. She does not think it is because
American women are so cold or so good that they are so virtuous, but
because the men don't tempt them at all. Also she says it's being such a
young nation they are still dreadfully provincial. But there are other and
good qualities from being young, Mamma; it makes them have the kindest
hearts, and be more generous and hospitable, so I think I like it as well
as our old ones.

Mrs. Van Brounker-Courtfield said she had asked a sprinkling of all sorts
to meet us, and it was then she explained about the court relations,
because she found she had Mrs. Clem Busfield with the sister-in-law of Clem
Busfield's new wife, and that inadvertently her secretary, who arranged the
table, had put them side by side.

She sat in the middle, at the end of the table, with Octavia and me at her
right and left, and it was beyond Octavia these two sat. She explained it
all to me in so distinct a voice I was afraid they would hear, but she
added that Julia Busfield was really a lady and would pull through all

"My dear," she said, "it is in these situations sometimes the parvenues
show the yellow streak, these and being touchy. They don't always come up
to the scratch, otherwise there is no difference in them, and that is the
glory of our country."

Then she told me that is the way she judges their advance, according to
their touchiness. They can't stand any chaff, she said, and if a stranger
dares to make any criticism of Americans to them, they are up in arms at
once and tear them to pieces! "Now, you in old countries, are amused or
supremely indifferent if foreigners laugh at you," she said, "as we are in
the South, but our parvenues in the East haven't got to that plane yet, and
resent the slightest show of criticism or raillerie. You see they are not
quite sure of themselves." Isn't that quaint of them, Mamma?

Then she asked me to look round the table and to tell her if I had ever
seen a better looking set of women, and of course I had not; they were
really charming and so exquisitely dressed, and the apparently most
aristocratic of all she told me was the daughter of a Western miner and an
English housemaid! And she even had a soft, sweet voice. I talked to her
afterwards. Is it not too wonderful to think of what such parentage would
make English people look! It must be climate and that splendid go ahead
vitality--whatever it is, I do admire it. And as Mrs. Van
Brounker-Courtfield seemed so human and not touchy I asked her why a number
of the New York men did not appear to have caught the same appearance of
wonderful refinement and breeding, and she said because the sort of life a
man leads makes him look what he does far more than blood, and that the few
that lived the life of English gentlemen looked like them, just as the rest
who live the life of our city clerks look like them, minus our City clerks'
Saturday interest in sport, and plus the cocktail. And this must be true,
Mamma, because Mr. Renour, who was what all these people would call a rough
Westerner, and would probably not speak to (until he became a trillionaire
of course) was a nature's gentleman and looked out-door and hard; and if he
had been dressed by Mr. Davis, and his hair cut by Mr. Charles, would have
been as good looking as anyone in the world.

These "reasons why" do interest me so much, and I am always collecting
them. But I must get back to what happened at lunch. I heard it from
Octavia afterwards, who made a fearful betise.

We had met the new Mrs. Busfield the day before but had not been told a
word of the story, so Octavia being vaguely aware that there were two
brothers Busfield, thought this one, who for the sake of non-confusion I
must speak of as "Julia," was the other brother's wife, and to be amiable
told her how charming she thought "Arma" (the new wife) was, and how
awfully devoted the husband seemed, and were they not very proud to have
such a perfect beauty in the family!

"Julia" got crimson and coughed, and then the lady from the other side
joined in telling Octavia that "Arma" was _her_ sister-in-law, but no
relation to this Mrs. Busfield! Octavia, of course, turned the conversation
and spoke to the hostess, but she said the two beside her, in spite of not
being on speaking terms chatted feverishly to each other for the rest of
lunch to avoid pauses, in case, Octavia supposes, she should ask any more
difficult questions. So you see, Mamma, even a person with as fine
perceptions as Octavia can make awkward betises here. It is like steering
among the Thousand Islands and hidden rocks and currents.

Mrs. Van B.-C.'s (the name is really too long to go on writing) house is
perfectly awful. She told us so before we could even formulate the thought
ourselves! It was done up about fourteen years ago, she said, when it was
one of the first houses as high up on Fifth Avenue, and was the time of the
most appalling taste in decoration. Every sort of gilding and dreadful
Louis XV., and gorged cupids sitting on cannon ball clouds, with here and
there a good picture and bit of china, and crimson brocade edged with plush
for curtains!

She told us she did not mean to change it. It is comfortable, she said, and
lots of her new people really admire it in their hearts! And it will last
her time, and when her granddaughter comes into it it will no doubt be
"down town" and turned into a shop, things move so fast.

After lunch we all came up to this fearful salon, and then we saw what a
perfect hostess she is, moving from group to group and saying exactly the
right thing in her crisp, old voice--there is nothing sleepy and Southern
about her. At last she sat down by me and she told me such an exquisite
story, showing the feeling after the war and the real aristocrats the
Southerners were. Two old aunts of hers were left absolutely destitute,
having been great heiresses, and to support themselves took in sewing,
making dresses for their friends. Their overseer became immediately rich,
and a year or so afterwards gave a grand ball for his daughter. The day
before the ball an old and not bright friend called, and found Miss Barbara
sewing a white satin frock and the tears dropping from her eyes. She
pressed her hand in sympathy, and said she felt as badly as she did to see
her making when she ought to be wearing, the frock; but Miss Barbara sat up
straight and said, "It is not that; I like the work, but what do you think!
Timothy Murran (the overseer) has had the impudence to send us an
invitation!" Isn't this a dear story, Mamma, and should not we have loved
and honoured those old ladies?

But Mrs. Van B.-C. says the modern people in New York would not in the
least understand this subtle pride, and would only think them old fools,
and she added--"which they probably were!"

She says we are not to judge of American men by most of those we have seen
in New York as yet; that there are a section of elderly, refined and
cultivated gentlemen, no longer interested in trade now, who were
contemporaries of her daughter (the beautiful Duchesse de Ville Tranche,
who died so tragically). She wants us to meet them.

But Octavia and I both told her we liked those we had seen very much
indeed; they were so kind, only not naughty like Englishmen. And she had
such a look in her eye as she said, "That is just it, my dear, and it makes
all the difference."

You see, Mamma, I am not telling you of any of the people we know in
England, because as I said before they are just like us, and not
interesting in consequence. Octavia and I feel we want to see quite others,
and next week perhaps we start for the West.

Heavens! The mail is going. I must stop!

Fondest love to my angels,

Your affectionate daughter,



Dearest Mamma,--We are here for Sunday, but first I must tell you of the
day "down town." We went with one of the interesting business men we have
met lately, and we seemed to motor for miles along Fifth Avenue until one
would think one was dreaming; all the houses seemed to be from fifteen to
twenty-five stories high, and so the air rushes down the gorges the streets
are, like a tornado, even if it is not a particularly windy day. It is a
mercy American women have such lovely feet and nice shapes, because when
they cross to a place called the Flat Iron Building the gusts do what they
please with their garments. I am quite sure if the Roues' Club in
Piccadilly could get itself removed to a house just here, those wicked old
men would spend their days glued to the windows. Well, we passed Washington
Square, which has a look of Russell or Bedford Squares, part of it, and
beyond that I can't remember the names of the streets; it all was so
crowded and intent and wonderful,--people racing and chasing after wealth,
I suppose.

Finally we got to Wall Street and the Stock Exchange. And Wall Street is
quite a little narrow, ordinary street, almost as mean as our Threadneedle
or Lombard Streets! The Stock Exchange is the most beautiful building! I
don't suppose you have ever been in one, Mamma, and I certainly shall never
want to see another. Imagine a colossal room as high as a church, with a
Greek roof and a gallery at one end, and down below countless human
beings--men at highest tension dealing with stocks and shares, in a noise
of hell which in groups here and there rose to a scream of exaltation or a
roar of disappointment. How anyone could keep nerves or hearing sense,
after a week of it, one cannot imagine. No wonder American men have nervous
prostration, and are so often a little deaf. The floor was strewn with bits
of paper, that they had used to make calculations on, and they had a lovely
kind of game of snowballing with it now and then--I suppose to vary the
monotony of shouting and screaming. The young ones would pelt each other.
It must have been a nice change.--Then there were a lot of partitions with
glass panels at the end of the room, and into these they kept rushing like
rabbits into their holes, to send telegrams about the prices, I suppose.
And all the while in a balcony half way up one of the great blank empty
walls, a dear old white bearded gentleman sat and gazed in a benevolent way
at the shrieking crowd below.

They told us he was there to keep order! But no one appeared to care a pin
for his presence, and as he did not seem to mind, either, what row they
made, we rather wondered what the occasions could be when he would exert
his authority! Presently he went away to lunch, and as no one else took his
place, they were able to make as much noise as they liked, though it did
not seem any greater than before.

Can you imagine, Mamma, spending days in a place like that? No wonder when
they get up town they don't want to talk. But Mrs. Van Brounker-Courtfield
says everyone is too restless to stay quietly at home in the evenings, and
when they have pulled themselves together with a cocktail they have to
dress and go out to dine at some restaurant or with friends, and then the
theatre. At first one thinks they are simply angels to their wives, working
all day long down town like that--they seem a race of predestined
husbands. If one wanted a husband who spent his entire day away from one
and was too tired when he came in to talk of anything but a few sentences
on Wall Street affairs, one would certainly choose a rich American, because
he would load one with money and jewels, and absolutely obey one when he
was at home, and let one spend most of the time in Europe. But Mrs. Van
Brounker-Courtfield says all that is only a sop to Cerberus, to keep the
wives from grumbling at not being made love to like women of other nations
are; that all men are hunters, and while ours in England chase foxes and
are thrilled with politics the New Yorkers hunt dollars, and it is the same
thing. Wall Street is their adored mistress, and the wives are just their
family. As you were married such ages ago I don't know if you quite
understand what I mean about men, Mamma, and the effect they have on one.
There are creatures who,--the moment they come into the room you know they
are there. You _know_ it isn't a woman. It is not an intellectual or
soul feeling, but it is rather lovely, all the same, and although I am
furious with Harry and intend to be horrid to him, I must say he has this
power stronger than anyone I have ever met; when he is close to me I have a
kind of creep of pleasure, and when he kisses those little curls at the
back of my neck I feel thrills all down my back. Do you know what I mean,
Mamma? I have divided men up into two lots. Those one could go to Australia
alone with, and those one couldn't, and it does not matter in the least
their age or looks or station or anything, it is just whether or no they
have got this quality. Well, as far as I have seen, Valerie Latour's
husband and one or two others are the only men who have it here in New
York, although lots are very good looking and intelligent, and all are
kind; but there is a didactic way of talking, a complete absence of
subtlety or romance.--And even those it would be perfectly safe to go
with; because they would not dream of making love to one, but they have the
igniting quality in themselves. Some of the elder men over forty are really
attractive and intensely clever, but as everyone is married, one would
always have the bore of the wives' frowns if one played with them. How I do
wander from what I was telling you!

Tom came with us to the Stock Exchange. We have to leave him at home when
we go to the women's lunches, but he spends the time with Valerie Latour,
and in the late afternoons he goes to the Clubs with the husbands, and he
says they are awfully good fellows and many brilliantly amusing, and full
of common sense; but at some of the clubs they have not got any unwritten
laws as to manners, so now and then when they get rather drunk, they are
astonishingly rude to one another. It is not considered a great disgrace
for a young man to get tipsy here; the slang for it is to get "full." There
are two grades, "fresh" and "full." When you are "fresh" you are just
breezy and what we would call "above yourself;" but when you are "full,"
you can't speak plain, and are sometimes unsteady on your feet, so it is
very unpleasant. You can be "fresh," too, without having drunk anything, if
you have an uppish nature. Octavia and I were perfectly astonished the
first time we heard it spoken of. A rather nice looking boy who was at
dinner had apparently been "full" the night before, and the women on both
sides of him chaffed him and scolded him as if it were a joke. I am glad it
is still considered a disgrace in England, because when it does occur it is
kept out of sight.

After the Stock Exchange we went to see the workings of one of the great
journals. That was too wonderful, Mamma, everything happening in a vast
room on one floor; compositing, typewriting, printing, and sorting. It is
astonishing the tremendous power of concentrating the will to be able to
think in that flurry and noise;--hundreds of clean-shaven young men in
shirt-sleeves smoking cigars or cigarettes and doing their various duties.
The types interested us so; physiognomy counts for nothing,
apparently,--faces that might have been the first Napoleon or Tennyson or
even Shakespeare,--doing the simple manual part of lifting the blocks of
metal and attending to the machinery, older men, these;--and the Editor,
who naturally must have been very clever, had a round moon face, tiny baby
nose, two marbles stuffed in for eyes and the look of a boyish simpleton.

Tom was so enchanted because at the sporting editor's desk there were a
party of prize fighters, the "world's light weight"--whatever that means, a
half "coloured gentleman," that is what niggers are called--with such white
teeth and wiry and slight; and two large bull dogs of men who were
heavyweights. I felt obliged to ask them if they minded at all having their
noses smashed in and black eyes, and if they felt nervous ever, and the
little coloured gentleman grinned and said he only felt nervous over the
money of the thing! He was not anxious about the art or fame! He just
wanted to win. Is not that an extraordinary point of view, Mamma--_To
win_? It is the national motto, it seems; _how_, does not matter so
much; and that is what makes them so splendidly successful, and that is
what the other nations who play games with them don't understand. They,
poor old-fashioned things, are taking an interest in the sport part, and
so scattering their forces, while the Americans are concentrating on the
winning. And it is this quality which of course will make them the rulers
of the world in time.

All the people were so courteous to us, and naturally Tom was more
interested in this than any of the things we have yet seen. One reporter
who showed us round had a whimsical sense of humour (not "American humour,"
that, as I told you before, is different) and we really enjoyed ourselves,
and before we were out of the building they presented us with copies of the
paper with accounts of our visit in the usual colossalised style. Was not
that quick work, Mamma?

The things they put in the papers here are really terrible, and must be
awfully exciting for the little boys and girls who read them going to
school; every paltry scandal in enormous headlines, and the most intimate
details of people's lives exposed and exaggerated, while the divorces and
suicides fill every page. But if there is anything good happening, like
sailors behaving well at sea and saving lives, or any fine but
unsensational thing, it only gets a small notice. The poor reporters can't
help it; they are dismissed unless they worry people for interviews and
write "catchy" articles about them, so, of course, they can't stick to the
truth; and as the people who read like to hear something spicy, they are
obliged to give it all a lurid turn. The female ones are sometimes
spiteful; I expect because women often can't help being so about
everything. These wonderfully sensational papers have only developed in the
last ten years, we are told, so they have not had time to see the effect it
is going to have upon the coming generation.

The better people don't pay the least attention to anything that is
printed, but of course ordinary people in any country would.

We lunched in the most fashionable restaurant down town, but I never can
describe to you, Mamma, the noise and flurry and rush of it. As if
countless men screaming at the top of their voices and every plate being
rattled by scurrying waiters, were not enough, there was the loudest band
as well! Unless you simply yelled you could not make your neighbour hear. I
suppose it is listening to the other din at the Stock Exchange all the
morning;--they would feel lonely if they had quiet to eat in.

Our party was augmented by a celebrated judge, and some other lawyers. We
had been told he was most learned and a wonderful wit, and someone we
should see as a representative American; half the people said he was a
"crook," and the other half that he was the "only straight" judge; and when
I asked what a "crook" was, our host told me the word explained itself, but
that you would be called a crook by all the trusts if you gave judgment
against them, just as, if you let them off, you would be the only honest
judge. So whatever you were called did not amount to anything! The Judge
was much younger than our judges, and had a moustache, and looked just like
ordinary people, and not a bit dignified.

As he has to deliver long speeches when he is judging, one would have
thought he might have liked a little rest and light conversation when he
came out to lunch, especially as every man likes to talk to Octavia and me;
but not a bit of it, he continued to lay down the law in a didactic way so
that no one else could speak. He did not even pretend to be interested in
us. What he said was all quite clever and splendidly put, but having to
show politeness and listen with one's fork suspended in the air, lets the
food get cold, and as it was excellent, all sorts of lovely American
dishes, at last I just attended to that, and did not hear some of his

The band suddenly stopped and Octavia's voice saying, "Indeed" (all she
could get in) rang out like the man on the Lusitania shouting orders down
the megaphone; and when we got outside we all felt deaf and had sore

The intense relief to come here out of all noise or hustle, to Valerie
Latour's for Sunday! But I am so tired now I will finish this to-morrow.

Your affectionate daughter,



DEAREST MAMMA,--I am resting, so I can put another letter in with the
one I wrote last night. We came here, as I said, after the down town
luncheon, and it is so quaint going over on the ferry; we just sat in
the motor we have hired while we are in New York, and it rolled on to a
broad place on a huge flat steamer, with all the rest of the traffic,
and the boat quietly steamed across the water, and when it touched the
other side we drove off again. And presently as one gets past the
station it looks like going into the wilds, but along the edges of the
roads are small villas made of boards with shingle roofs; here the
clerks (they pronounce it just as it is spelt) and small business
people live, their little bits of land a few feet round each house not
railed or hedged off, but simply mown grass marking them from public

Most of them are spruce and painted, and they can be moved if
necessary. We met one coming down the road, the lace curtains in the
windows and a cat looking out and brushing its whiskers. The house was
set on rollers and being pulled along. Isn't it a splendid idea, Mamma?
Fancy if I could have the east wing of Valmond, that was added in
eighteen hundred, cut off and just trotted round to the north
courtyard, where it would not show so much, how nice that would be; but
everything is so dreadfully stable and solid with us, and here
everything is transitory and can come and go in a night. All the
country we came through looks the wilds, uncultivated, almost as if
bears could live in the woods. Farms have been there, but now the land
is too valuable and is only sold for building purposes. But the effect
of wild is intense and makes the contrast of the over-cultivated avenue
borders greater. Once inside the gates, the winding avenue begins,
covered like all the avenues we have seen with fine granite gravel. But
even in the wildest wild it is lit with electric light, and here and
there a neat villa. This is typical of America, the contrivances of the
brain of man forced upon primitive nature.

The house is simply charming; outside a beautiful colonial style, so
suitable to the splendid trees and general look of the land, and inside
all panelled, and everything in the most perfect taste, and not too
grand. But it surprises me that Valerie, who has been so much in
England, should still have the same want of the personal note in her
house. Everything is beyond criticism, so perfect and suitable, but not
in a single room, even her own sitting room, is there that strong sense
of her as I think we all have in our rooms at home. I am sure, Mamma,
you would know even the great state drawing-rooms at Chevenix were
Octavia's, and there is not a corner of Valmond or Hurstbridge or even
the town house, that I do not decide upon the arranging of. But here I
don't think they would be bothered; and they only stay in their houses
for so short a period, rushing from New York to Newport and the country
to Europe, so none of the places feel like home. That is the only
possible thing which spoils this one,--otherwise it is perfection. But
then you see they could start fair by building it themselves; they had
not to inherit a huge castle from their forefathers, with difficult
drains to combat and an insufficient water supply, to say nothing of
the trail of the serpent of fearful early Victorian taste over even the
best things of the eighteenth century. The _horrors_ that now live in
the housemaids' bed rooms which I collected from the royal suite at

It was a perfect joy to get here into peace, and we were allowed to
rest quietly until dinner, and Valerie came and talked to me while I
lay on the sofa. She said her husband was "crazy" about me, and she
thought it would do him a great deal of good for me to play with him a
little, and that she was crazy about Tom; so I said if she could find
someone for Octavia it seemed a nice little chasse croisee and we ought
all to be very happy together. Then she said she had someone coming
down by a later train who ought to be just Octavia's affair, and who in
the world do you think it is, Mamma? The Vicomte! Gaston de la

Think of what Harry will say when he hears! Isn't it too lovely? He
will of course believe I made a rendezvous with him, considering the
furious rage he was in when I got the Vicomte's letter. You remember,
Mamma, he used to be in love with me at the Chateau de Croixmare, and
always has been a red rag to a bull for Harry. When we met him by
chance at Monte Carlo last year, the first time since my marriage,
there was nearly a scene; and, as you know, his simple letter saying he
would be in London, and might he see me, was the cause of Harry's and
my quarrel. So now, when he finds poor Gaston is out here, he will be
foaming with rage, and will of course come back from Africa at once,
and probably beat me and shoot the Vicomte; so I had better have a
little fun while I can. It has sent my spirits up to the skies; and I
am so glad Agnes brought my loveliest garments here. You need not worry
about me, Mamma, as I am sure you are beginning to! I really will be as
good as gold, but I must amuse myself a little in this my only chance.
I took such care dressing for dinner, and wore no jewels, because
everyone here has such wonderful ones. And when I was going down the
stairs I felt quite excited.

Gaston has not altered much, and I think I told you last year when we
saw him his hair is not coupe en brosse now, so he is better looking,
and he gets his clothes at an English tailor; and as Harry is not here
to contrast him with, he really seemed very attractive and you couldn't
for one instant feel he was your aunt or grandmother, or that you could
go to Australia with him safely! And while all the nice American
men--and Valerie only has the nicest--were saying bright pleasant
things, he, who was behind my chair and apparently talking to Mrs. Van
Brounker-Courtfield (she is here), managed to bend down and tell me he
adored me, and had only come to America because he found I was not in

There was that lovely sense of having a secret, and although he sat on
one side of Valerie, and Tom at the other, and I was miles away with
the host--it was a huge dinner party--still his eyes said whatever eyes
could say between bouquets of flowers. On my other hand was the father
of one of the guests. Valerie had told us beforehand she considered him
not of their world, but the daughter was charming and married to a
youth who is one of their friends, so as he was staying with them she
had to ask him too. Both Octavia and I wanted to have him next us
because these characters are so much more interesting than just their
world, who are the same as Englishmen, almost, with the sex taken out,
and a more emphasised way of talking.

Octavia and I tossed up for him and I won and he was a gem,--a rugged
powerful face and grey bushy hair and really well dressed. He had eyes
that saw through one at once and beyond, and his hands were strong and
well shaped, with the most exquisitely polished nails. He did not make
horrid noises clearing his throat as lots of them do, and he was not
the least deaf. Instantly we got on. He said if we were seeing America
we were not to judge the nation by the men we should see in society in
New York (each person we meet tells us this!); that we should go out
West if we wanted to find the giant brains who make the country great.

"It's not that I mean to disparage Mrs. Latour's guests," he said,
looking round the table; "they are what they are, good enough in their
way, humming birds and mocking birds to flit among the flowers, and
pretty poor at that when you compare them with Europeans; but they
don't amount to anything for the nation. They couldn't evolve a scheme
that would benefit a foot beyond their noses!" And when I asked him why
he had allowed his daughter to marry one of them, he said with such a
whimsical air, that women in America did what they "darned well
pleased," and that he guessed that everyone had to "work out their own
problem along that line."

"The Almighty played a trick on us," he said. "Putting the desire for
one particular person into our heads, now and again in our lives leads
to heaps of trouble, and don't benefit the race. If we'd no feelings we
could select according to reason and evolve perfection in time."

Isn't that a splendid idea, Mamma? He went on to say he studied
psychology a good deal, and he found to look at life from that
standpoint was the most satisfactory way. He said it was no use mixing
up sentiment and what you thought things ought to be with what things
really were. "We've got to see the truth Ma'am, that's all," he said.
Then he said, "these cotton wool ba-lambs" never saw the truth of
anything from one year's end to another, and, "it ain't because it's
too difficult, but because they have not got a red cent of brains to
think for themselves!"

While he was saying all this he never took his eyes off me, and he
spoke with quiet force. He went on and was too interesting expounding
his theories along every line (I am getting American), and I looked up
and caught Valerie's eye, and she collapsed with laughter; she thought
it quite funny that I should find him thrilling. Presently I asked him
what his views were about us in England, we of the leisure class, and
he said he thought most of us were pretty sound because we did our
duties and generally kept our heads.

"Now, I guess, Ma'am, your husband has quite a lot of business to do in
a year?" and I said yes, that of course there was endless work in the
management of a large estate, and politics, besides hunting and
shooting, which was stern business with us! Then he told me with them
the leisured class had no responsibilities, except to keep an eye on
their brokers, and so they got into mischief.

"'Tisn't in the American blood to be idle," he said; "they can't keep
straight if they are." After that I asked him what he thought about the
English and American marriages among our nobility, and he got so
vehement that he brought his hand down on the table and made such a
clatter everyone looked.

It would take too long, Mamma, to repeat all his words, which were too
quaint; but the sense of them, was that he would forbid them by law,
because American girls to begin with had been brought up with the idea
they were to be petted and bowed down to by all men, and no Englishman
in his heart considered a woman his equal! And then to go on with, they
did not know a thing of the duties of the position, or the tenue which
is required to keep up the dignity of an old title, so when it came to
the scratch they were found wanting. "Which of 'em's got prestige, I
ask you, Ma'am, in your country? They may rub along all right, and when
it is a question of society I guess they're queens, but which of 'em
acts like the real thing in the country, or is respected by the

I really did not know what to say, Mamma, so he went on. "They're all
right sometimes till the rub, and they may do better if they've been
educated in Europe--they are so mightily adaptable; but just an
American girl like my Lola there,--I'd rather see her dead than married
to your greatest Dook."

I said I knew numbers of perfect dears married in England, and he said,
"Maybe, maybe, but if there comes a ruction, they won't grin and bear
it in silence on account of the family as you would, they will take it
into the courts, and come out on top, too; but it causes a talk and
that is not good for prestige. You asked me about the thing in
principle and I'm bound to tell you the truth. We aren't brought up on
tradition in our country, and our girls don't know what noblesse oblige
means; they consider natural feelings first; guess it's old fashioned
anyway, but it is necessary in your old country, or the game won't
work." I said I thought he held quite different views to the rest of
his countrymen, who placed their women on a pedestal above the whole
world. Then he blazed at me! "Don't you make any mistake about that.
I'm with them there; I think our women are ahead, taking them all
round, but that don't make them suited to old countries, any more than
new wine in old bottles or new patches in old garments;--breaks the
bottle and wears out the stuff."

I said I would not misunderstand him, but I was sure most of his own
country-women at the table would be offended to hear his views, and
again he said, "Maybe, maybe! Pretty empty heads; they can't reason;
they only see what they want to, but I see the straight truth."

I am not clever enough to have argued with him properly, but I did ask
him in his theorising if he did not think it was good for our old race
to have the mixture of new blood; and he said no, that by the rules of
breeding we wanted re-stocking from the primitive. "Your old families
should take a strong country lass now and then. Let 'em marry their
milk-maids and leave our hot-house plants alone. Have you read
Burbank's books?" he added. "No? Well, read 'em; you'll understand then
cause and effect; though his are all about plants. He's the greatest
giant we've got in America, in my opinion."

You will think I am being a frightful bore, Mamma, telling you all
this; and I can't give you the strange force and power of this man's
personality, which made him so interesting; but I had to write it all
because I am telling you everything which strikes me as American, and
different to us, and we have nothing like this man at home; and when
the lady at his other hand did claim his attention, Daniel Latour,
after reproaching me for my shoulder being turned to him for so long,
told me some of his history. Elias P. Arden, his name is, and he is a
senator. He has had a remarkable career, rising from nothing, and being
the bravest, coolest, hardest man in the mining camps. He is colossally
rich, and his daughter Lola is perfectly lovely, and married to a silly
young Vinerhorn, who has a country house close here.

It is so quaint how all the men stand in awe of their wives! Daniel
Latour, even though he knows Valerie is a great friend of mine, and
would not mind a bit, still kept glancing nervously across at her
whenever he said anything a little go-ahead.

After dinner, of course, the Vicomte immediately came to me. Here the
men leave the dining-room with us, like in France, and the Vicomte did
not even go back with the others to smoke. But it was all done in such
a clever way it attracted no attention.

Jack Brandon had turned up, you know, Lord Felixtowe's brother: he came
with some people with whom he is spending the Sunday, and his methods
to speak with the lady he admires were so different to the Vicomte's.
Of course he had that extraordinary sans-gene of all those men, that
absolute unselfconsciousness which is not aware there is anyone else in
the room but himself and the lady he is bent upon; but instead of being
discreet, and making a semblance of taking an interest in the rest of
the company, as the Vicomte did, he just sprawled into a chair near
her, monopolised her conversation, and stared blankly in front of him
whenever she spoke to any one else. And Tom was doing almost the same
by Valerie. It is undoubtedly this quality of perfect ease and
unconscious insolence which for some unaccountable reason is attractive
in Englishmen. If it were assumed it would be insupportable
impertinence, but as you know, Mamma, it is not in the least. They are
perfectly unconscious of their behaviour; it is just that there is one
woman they want to speak to in a room, so that is all they see; the
rest of the people are merely furniture. Now, American men are always
polite and unselfish, and almost self-conscious where women are
concerned, whereas the French have too polished manners naturally to
allow them to forget the general company.

I tried to keep Gaston from making love to me, and when he would go on,
I said it bored me to death, and if he wanted to remain friends with me
he must simply amuse me; and then to tease him I got up and went and
talked to the Western senator. He had such a quizzical entertaining
look in his keen eye--he was being stiffly deferential to one of the
ladies, a Mrs. Welsh, who was talking to him so brightly. It looked
like a huge mastiff allowing a teeny griffon to play with it.

"They're bright as paint," he said to me when we sat down on a sofa,
pointing to Mrs. Welsh. "Dainty, pretty creatures. I don't think women
want brains, not man's brains, anyway." I am sure you would agree with
this, Mamma, and I am sure he is right.

I said to him how extraordinarily generous all American husbands and
fathers seemed to their women-kind, and what lovely clothes they had,
and what heaps of money they must spend on them; and he said, "By the
Lord, why shouldn't they? What's the use of money but to spend, and if
that's what makes them happy, let 'em." Then he added, "I'm always
grateful and kind of devotional towards women. It's only through them
we ever get a taste of heaven on this used-up old earth, and it doesn't
matter how low they've sunk, any of 'em would die for the man they
really love. Whenever I hear a man speak a disparaging word of a woman,
I know, no matter what his other qualifications are, he's a mean yellow
dog underneath."

Did you ever hear of such a darling, chivalrous gentleman, Mamma? And
his eyes got all soft, and I am _sure_, when he was younger, he had all
the quality I told you of; and though it would have been safe to go to
the moon with him because of his honour, he would have made _you_ feel
it would have been nice if he kissed you.

I told him I thought he was lovely, and he smiled rather sadly; and
although he seems to have not much knowledge of literature in a
dilettante sense, he has a great splendid mind; and if there are many
more senators like him at Washington this country ought to be the best
governed in the world. He makes you feel you are on a mountain top or
in pine forests, or some vast space, and all the people of society such
poor little things. But he is too kindly even to despise them really;
and he looks at his daughter's weak, reedy husband with affectionate
toleration as the last toy she wanted and had got. "Lola had a keen
fancy for Randolph," he said. "She liked his being a swell, and if he's
her joy, what's it to me that I could break his bones with one clasp of
my hand?" And he put out his strong well kept fingers.

You know, Mamma, I do wonder if such a man could marry one of us, who
understand that a really fine male creature is our superior and not
meant to obey us, and who would appreciate all his splendid aims, and
not think they were there just to buy us diamonds--I wonder what sort
of children we should have? They ought to be absolutely superb,
oughtn't they?

I was so thrilled with Mr. Elias P. Arden that I stayed on the sofa
with him all the evening, and he told me every sort of interesting
thing, and at last said he would like us to come and see the mining
camps with him in the West. He is a president of the railway there, and
he has a private car.

"I'll bring along a specimen of young man for your inspection, Ma'am,"
he said. "Nelson Renour, the finest young chap I've met in my life."

And when he said that, a great rush of remembrance came over me, and I
felt I should love to see him again, and I told the Senator so, and how
we had met him, and just then Tom joined us and we have arranged it
all; when we have been to Philadelphia to stay with Kitty Bond for a
day or two, we are going right out West, and shall all meet the private
car at Los Angeles and go to the camps. "Lola" and her husband are
coming, too, and anyone else we like; and the Vicomte immediately
proposed himself, as he said he is deeply interested in mining and
wants to invest some money. I think we shall have a superb time, don't
you, Mamma? And I am longing to be off, but we have still some more
social things to do, and go to one dance.

It is so late in the year all the balls are finished and lots of people
have already gone to Europe. They are having this one on purpose for
us, because Octavia said she wanted to see some young men and girls,
and how they amuse themselves. The girls have a perfectly emancipated
and glorious time, and are petted and spoilt to a degree. They don't
come much to the ladies' lunches, but they have girls' lunches of their
own, and their own motor cars and horses, or whatever else they want,
and do not have to ask their mothers' leave about anything.

Among the married women there are two distinct sets here in the inner
cream, the one which Valerie leads, and which has everything like
England, and does not go in for any of those wonderful entertainments
where elephants do the waiting with their trunks, or you sit in golden
swings over a lake while swans swim with the food on trays on their
backs--I am exaggerating, of course, but you know what I mean. Valerie
says all that is in shocking taste, which of course it is. She never
has anything eccentric, only splendid presents at her cotillons, and
all the diplomats from Washington come over, and the whole tone of her
house is exactly as it is at home, except that many of them are
brighter and more amusing than we are.

Then the other set is the "go one better set,"--that is the best way I
can describe it. If one has a party one week, another must have a finer
one the week after, and so on, until thousands and thousands of dollars
are spent on flowers, for instance, for one afternoon; and in it
nothing is like England. I believe it must be purely American, or
perhaps one ought to say New York.

These two sets meet at Newport, but they won't speak to any others. I
wish we were going to stay long enough to go there.

When all the dinner party had gone, Octavia and I and one of the other
women who are staying in the house, went up with Valerie into her
sitting room, and coseyed round the fire; but when Tom and the Vicomte
knocked at the door, and wanted to come in, too, and cosey with us,
Valerie looked the wee-est trifle shocked, and rather nervously put
them off; and she said to me afterwards that the room opened right into
her bedroom, and Daniel would have been awfully cross if they had come
in! It is in tiny trifles like this that even Valerie is a fraction
provincial. I suppose she had a Puritan ancestor. Puritans, as one
knows, always have those odd minds that see something bad in

This morning some of them went to church, but I was not in time. I was
so tired I overslept myself and then stayed hours in my bath. The
bath-rooms here are superb. Certainly the American plumbers are the
best in the world. I can't imagine what the American women do when they
marry foreign noblemen and go home with them to their old castles where
they would be expected to wash in a dish.

When I got down I found Gaston pacing the library like a maniac.
_"Enfin, enfin,"_ he cried, as he kissed my hand.

"_Enfin_ what?" I said, and he told me he had been waiting here for me
the whole morning, and they would soon be home from church and he would
not get another chance to see me alone. So I just played with him a
little, Mamma!--and it was too delightful being as provoking as
possible and yet perfectly sage. Harry could not have really objected
to a word I said, but all the same it drove Gaston crazy. I have never
had a chance before, you know, because all these years, what with
having babies and the fuss and time that takes, and Harry never leaving
me for a moment, and glaring at every other man who came near, I did
not know how enjoyable a little fencing could be. And when the rest did
come back I only talked to Daniel Latour on purpose to tease Gaston,
and I really amused myself.

Lots more people came to luncheon, and though it is in the wilds of the
country, what we would call, they were all in lovely afternoon dresses,
as if it were town and the height of the season. But we were so merry
at lunch. A general conversation is far more bright and entertaining
than at home.

After lunch we walked in the woods, and I can never tell you of the
beauty of it, with the scent of Spring in the air, and the quaint wild
flowers. It is their last Sunday down here; they go off to Europe next

Shoals more visitors for tea, among them a little bride who had already
got her husband to heel. She talked all the time of what _she_ was
going to do and he did not speak a word. But it is only in that sort of
way they are very emancipated, it seems, for while they are actually
married they are as good as gold, as far as looking at anyone else is
concerned. It is when they come to Europe they have flirtations like
us. But as I said before, there would not be any zest, because you can
get a divorce and marry the man so easily it makes it always _une
affaire de jeune fille_.

Now I must dress for dinner, so good-bye, dear Mamma.

Kisses to my angels.

Your affectionate daughter,




DEAREST MAMMA,--I have a theatre and dance to tell you of in this
letter. To begin with, the theatres themselves are far better built
than ours; everyone can see, and there is no pit, and the boxes are in
graduated heights so that you have not to crane your neck,--but the
decorations in every one we have yet been to are unspeakable. This one
last night had grouped around the proscenium what looked exactly like a
turkey's insides (I hope you aren't shocked, Mamma!). I once saw the
marmiton taken out at Arrachon, when I was a little girl and got into
the kitchen,--just those awful colours, and strange long, twisted,
curled-up tuby-looking things. They are massed on the boxes, too, and
were, I suppose, German "Art Nouveau."

I always think Art Nouveau must have been originated by a would-be
artist who got drunk on absinthe after eating too much pate de foie
gras in a batard-Louis XV. room, then slept, then woke, and in a fit of
D.T. conceived it. He saw impossible flowers and almost rats running up
the furniture, and every leg and line out of balance and twisted; and
fancy, if one could avoid it, putting it in a theatre! The play itself
was very well acted, but, as is nearly always the case here, unless it
is a lovely blood-and-shooting, far West play, the heroine is drawn to
be a selfish puny character, full of egotism and thinking of her own
feelings. The men were perfectly splendid actors, but they distracted
my eye so with their padded shoulders it quite worried me. The hero was
a small person, and when he appeared in tennis flannels his shoulders
were sloping, and in proportion to his little body; but when the coat
got on again they were at least eight inches wider, and, as he lifted
his arms to clasp his lady, one saw where the padding ended; it was
absolutely ridiculous and made me laugh in a serious place.

When one looks down at the audience, the women not being in evening
dress gives the coup d'oeil a less festive note, but I think people in
theatres look perfectly awful anywhere, don't you, Mamma? One wonders
where they come from.

This was a play about "Graft," which as far as I can understand
means,--supposing you wanted to be elected a member of the Government,
you could agree with some large contractor, who had influence over
countless votes, to get the order for him to put up a public building
which millions had been voted for; and instead of making it of solid
marble, to face it and fill it up with rubbish, and you and he would
pocket the difference. I think that would be "graft," and there seems
to a lot of it about, judging from the play and the papers; and we were
told some of the splendid buildings in San Francisco showed all these
tricks when they fell down in the earthquake. I should hate to live in
an earthquake country, shouldn't you, Mamma? It could interrupt one in
such awkward or agreeable moments,--and one would feel one ought to be

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