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I said that I believed the fancy was mutual, and that there was nothing my wife liked better than telling people about stores. I added, in generalization, that when a woman had spent all her own money on dress, it did her quite as much good to see other women spending theirs; and Deering said he guessed that was about so. He gave me a push on the shoulder to make me understand how keenly he appreciated the joke, and I perceived that we had won his heart, too.

We joined the ladies, and I thought that my sufferings for her authorized me to attach myself more especially to Miss Gage, and to find out all I could about her. We walked ahead of the others, and I was aware of her making believe that it was quite the same as if she were going to the music with a young man. Not that she seemed disposed to trifle with my gray hairs; I quickly saw that this would not be in character with her; but some sort of illusion was essential to her youth, and she could not help rejuvenating me. This was quite like the goddess she looked, I reflected, but otherwise she was not formidably divine, and, in fact, I suppose the goddesses were, after all, only nice girls at heart. This one, at any rate, I decided, was a very nice girl when she was not sulking; and she was so brightened by her little adven

ture, which was really no adventure, that I could not believe I had ever seen

her sulking.

The hotel people did not keep us from going into the court of the hotel, as I was afraid they might, and we all easily found places. In the pauses of the music I pointed out such notables and characters as I saw about us, and tried to possess her of as much of the Saratoga world as I knew. It was largely there in that bold evidence it loves, and in that social solitude to which the Saratoga of the hotels condemns the denizens of her world. I do not mean that the Saratoga crowd is at all a fast-looking crowd. There are sporting people and gamblers; but the great mass of the frequenters are plain, honest Americans, out upon a holiday from all parts of the country, and of an innocence too inveterate to have grasped the fact that there is no fashion in Saratoga now but the fashion of the ladies' dresses. These, I must say, are of the newest and prettiest; the dressing of the women always strikes me there. My companion was eager to recog

nize the splendors which she had heard of, and I pointed out an old lady by the door, who sat there displaying upon her vast bosom an assortment of gems and jewels which she seemed as personally indifferent to as if she were a show-window, and I was glad to have the girl shrink from the spectacle in a kind of mute alarm. I tried to make her share my pleasure in a group of Cubans-fat father,




fat mother, fat daughter-who came down the walk toward us in the halo of tropical tradition; but she had not the taste for olives, and I saw that I failed to persuade her of the esthetic value of this alien element among us. She apparently could do almost as little with some old figures of bygone beaus spectrally revisiting the hotel haunts of their youth; but she was charmed with the sylvan loveliness of that incomparable court. It is, in fact, a park of the tall, slim Saratoga trees inclosed by the quadrangle of the hotel, exquisitely kept, and with its acres of greensward now showing their color vividly in the

light of the electrics, which shone from all sides on the fountain flashing and plashing in the midst. I said that here was that union of the sylvan and the urban which was always the dream of art, and which formed the delicate charm of pastoral poetry; and although I do not think she quite grasped the notion, I saw that she had a pleasure in the visible fact, and that was much better. Besides, she listened very respectfully, and with no signs of being bored.

In the wait between the two parts of the concert, I invited her to walk round the court with me, and under the approving eye of Mrs. March we made this expedition. It seemed to me that I could not do a wiser thing, both for the satisfaction of my own curiosity and for the gratification of the autobiographical passion we all feel, than to lead her on to speak of herself. But she had little or nothing to say of herself, and what she said of other things was marked by a straightforward good sense, if not a wide intelligence. I think we make a mistake when we suppose that a beautiful woman must always be vain or conscious. I fancy that a beauty is quite as often a solid and sensible person, with no inordinate wish to be worshiped, and this young lady struck me as wholly unspoiled by flattery. I decided that she was not the type that would take the fancy of De Witt Point, and that she had grown up without local attention for that reason, or possibly because a certain coldness in her overawed the free spirit of rustic lovemaking. No doubt she knew that she was beautiful, and I began to think that it was not so much disappointment at finding Saratoga as indifferent as De Witt Point which gave her the effect of disgust I had first noted in her the night before. That might rather have come from the sense of feeling herself a helpless burden on her friends, and from that young longing for companionship which is as far as may be from the desire of conquest, of triumph. Finding her now so gratefully content with the poor efforts to amuse her which an old fellow like me could make, I perceived that the society of other girls would suffice to make Saratoga quite another thing for her, and I cast about in my mind to contrive this somehow.

I confess that I liked her better and better, and before the evening was out I had quite transferred my compassion from the Deerings to her. It was forlorn and dreary for her to be attached to this good couple, whose interests were primarily in each other, and who had not the first of those arts which could provide her VOL. LII.-77-78.

with other company. She willingly told about their journey to Saratoga, and her story did not differ materially from the account Deering had already given me; but even the outward form of adventure had fallen from their experience since they had come to Saratoga. They had formed the habit of Congress Park by accident; but they had not been to the lake, or the races, or the House of Pansa, or Mount McGregor, or Hilton Park, or even the outlying springs. It was the first time they had been inside of the Grand Union. «Then you have never seen the parlor? » I asked; and after the concert I boldly led the way into the parlor, and lavished its magnificence upon them as if I had been the host, or one of the hotel guests at the very least. I enjoyed the breathlessness of the Deerings so much, as we walked up and down the vast drawing-rooms accompanied by our images in the mirrors, that I insisted upon sitting down with them all upon some of the richest pieces of furniture; and I was so flown with my success as cicerone that I made them come with me to the United States. I showed them through the parlors there, and then led them through to the inner verandas, which commanded another wooded court like that of the Grand Union. I tried to make them feel the statelier sentiment of the older hotel, and to stir their imaginations with a picture of the old times, when the Southern planters used to throng the place, and all that was gay and brilliant in fashionable society was to be seen there some time during the summer. I think that I failed in this, but apparently I succeeded in giving them an evening of dazzling splendor.

<«<Well, sir, this has been a great treat,» said Mr. Deering, when he bade us good-by as well as good night; he was going early in the morning.

The ladies murmured their gratitude, Mrs. Deering with an emotion that suited her thanks, and Miss Gage with a touch of something daughterly toward me that I thought pretty.


«WELL, what did you make of her, my dear? » Mrs. March demanded the instant she was beyond their hearing. «I must say, you did n't spare yourself in the cause; you did bravely. What is she like?»

«Really, I don't know,» I answered, after a moment's reflection. «I should say she was almost purely potential. She's not so much this or that kind of girl; she 's merely a radiant image of girlhood.»

«Now, you're chicquing it, you're faking

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tell me how she really impressed you. Does she know anything? Has she read anything? Has she any ideas?»

«Really, I can't say whether they were ideas or not. She knew what Every Other Week was; she had read the stories in it; but I'm not sure she valued it at its true worth. She is very plain-minded.>>

« Don't keep repeating that! What do you mean by plain-minded?»



minded. I'm a little puzzled by her attitude toward her own beauty. She does n't live her beauty any more than a poet lives his poetry or a painter his painting; though I've no doubt she knows her gift is hers just as they do.»

<< I think I understand. You mean she is n't conscious.>>

«No. Conscious is n't quite the word,» I said fastidiously. «Is n't there some word that says less, or more, in the same direction?»

"No, there is n't; and I shall think you don't mean anything at all if you keep on. Now,

"Well, honest, single, commonsense, coherent, arithmetical.» «Horrors! Do you mean that she is mannish? »

«No, not mannish. And yet she gave me the notion that, when it came to companionship, she would be just as well satisfied with a lot of girls as young men.»

Mrs. March pulled her hand out of my arm, and stopped short under one of those tall Saratoga shadetrees to dramatize her inference. Then she is the slyest of all possible pusses! Did she give you the notion that she would be just as well satisfied with you as with a young man?»

«She could n't deceive me so far as that, my dear.>>

«Very well; I shall take her in hand myself to-morrow, and find out what she really is.»>

Mrs. March went shopping the next forenoon with what was left of the Deering party; Deering had taken the early train north, and she seemed to have found the ladies livelier without him. She formed the impression from their more joyous behavior that he kept his wife from spending as much money as she would naturally have done,

and that, while he was not perhaps exactly selfish, he was forgetful of her youth, of the difference in years between them, and of her capacity for pleasures which he could not care for. She said that Mrs. Deering and Miss Gage now acted like two girls together, and, if anything, Miss Gage seemed the elder of the two.

«And what did you decide about her? » I inquired.

"Well, I helped her buy a hat and a jacket at one of these nice shops just below the hotel where they 're stopping, and we've started an


evening dress for her. She can't wear that white duck morning, noon, and night.»

«But her character-her nature?» «Oh! Well, she is rather plain-minded, as you call it. I think she shows out her real feelings too much for a woman.»

does n't seem to go with her beauty; it takes away from that-I don't know how to express it exactly.>>

«You mean that she has no charm.>>

«No: I don't mean that at all. She has a great deal of charm of a certain kind, but "Why do you prefer dissimulation in your it's a very peculiar kind. After all, the truth sex, my dear?» is the truth, Basil, is n't it? »

« I don't call it dissimulation. But of course a girl ought to hide her feelings. Don't you think it would have been better for her not to have looked so obviously out of humor when you first saw her the other night?»

«She would n't have interested me so much, then, and she probably would n't have had your acquaintance now.»

«Oh, I don't mean to say that even that kind of girl won't get on, if she gives her mind to it; but I think I should prefer a little less plain-mindedness, as you call it, if I were a


I did not know exactly what to say to this, and I let Mrs. March go on.

"It's so in the smallest thing. If you 're choosing a thing for her, and she likes another, she lets you feel it at once. I don't mean that she's rude about it, but she seems to set herself so square across the way, and you come up with a kind of bump against her. I don't think that's very feminine. That's what I meant by mannish. You always knew where to find her.»

I don't know why this criticism should have amused me so much, but I began to laugh quite uncontrollably, and I kept on and on. Mrs. March kept her temper with me admirably. When I was quiet again, she said: «Mrs. Deering is a person that wins your heart at once; she has that appealing quality. You can see that she's cowed by her husband, though he means to be kind to her; and yet you may be sure she gets round him, and has her own way all the time. I know it was her idea to have him go home and leave them here, and of course she made him think it was his. She saw that as long as he was here, and anxious to get back to his (stock, there was no hope of giving Miss Gage the sort of chance she came for, and so she determined to manage it. At the same time, you can see that she is as true as steel, and would abhor anything like deceit worse than the pest.>>

«I see; and that is why you dislike Miss Gage

«Dislike her? No, I don't dislike her; but she is disappointing. If she were a plain girl her plain-mindedness would be all right; it would be amusing; she would turn it to account and make it seem humorous. But it

«It is sometimes, my dear,» I assented. « And the truth has its charm, even when it's too blunt.»>

« Ah, I'm not so sure of that.>>

«Yes-yes, it has. You must n't say so, Basil, or I shall lose all my faith in you. If I could n't trust you I don't know what I should do.»>

« What are you after now, Isabel?»

«I am not after anything. I want you to go round to all the hotels and see if there is not some young man you know at one of them. There surely must be.»>

« Would one young man be enough? »

<< If he were attentive enough, he would be. One young man is as good as a thousand if the girl is the right kind.>>

«But you have just been implying that Miss Gage is cold and selfish and greedy. Shall I go round exploring hotel registers for a victim to such a divinity as that?»

«No; you need n't go till I have had a talk with her. I am not sure she is worth it; I am not sure that I want to do a single thing for her.>>


THE next day, after another forenoon's shopping with her friends, Mrs. March announced: « Well, now, it has all come out, Basil, and I wonder you did n't get the secret at once from your Mr. Deering. Have you been supposing that Miss Gage was a poor girl whom the Deerings had done the favor of bringing with them?>>

«Why, what of it?» I asked provisionally.

«She is very well off. Her father is not only the president, as they call it, of the village, but he 's the president of the bank.»>

«Yes; I told you that Deering told me so—»

«But he is very queer. He has kept her very close from the other young people, and Mrs. Deering is the only girl friend she's ever had, and she's grown up without having been anywhere without him. They had to plead with him to let her come with them,—or Mrs. Deering had,-but when he once consented, he consented handsomely. He gave her a lot of money, and told them he wanted her to have the best time that money could buy; and of course you can understand how such a man would think that money would buy

a good time anywhere. But the Deerings did n't know how to go about it. She confessed as much when we were talking the girl over. I could see that she stood in awe of her somehow from the beginning, and that she felt more than the usual responsibility for her. That was the reason she was so eager to get her husband off home; as long as he was with them she would have to work everything through him, and that would be double labor, because he is so hopelessly villaginous, don't you know, that he never could rise to the conception of anything else. He took them to a cheap, second-class hotel, and he was afraid to go with them anywhere because he never was sure that it was the right thing to do; and he was too proud to ask, and they had to keep prodding him all the time.»>

«That's delightful!»

«Oh, I dare say you think so; but if you knew how it wounded a woman's self-respect you would feel differently; or you would n't, rather. But now, thank goodness! they 've got him off their hands, and they can begin to breathe freely. That is, Mrs. Deering could, if she had n't her heart in her mouth all the time, wondering what she can do for the girl, and bullying herself with the notion that she is to blame if she does n't have a good time. You can understand just how it was with them always. Mrs. Deering is one of those meek little things that a great, splendid, lonely creature like Miss Gage would take to in a small place, and perfectly crush under the weight of her confidence; and she would want to make her husband live up to her ideal of the girl, and would be miserable because he would n't or could n't.»

«I believe the good Deering did n't even think her handsome.»

<<That's it. And he thought anything that was good enough for his wife was good enough for Miss Gage, and he 'd be stubborn about doing things on her account, even to please his wife.»

«Such conduct is imaginable of the good Deering. I don't think he liked her.»>

«Nor she him. Mrs. Deering helplessly hinted as much. She said he did n't like to have her worrying so much about Miss Gage's not having a good time, and she could n't make him feel as she did about it, and she was half glad for his own sake that he had to go home.>>

«Did she say that?»

«Not exactly; but you could see that she meant it. Do you think it would do for them to change from their hotel, and go to the Grand Union or the States or Congress Hall?»

<< Have you been putting them up to that, Isabel?»

«I knew you would suspect me, and I would n't have asked for your opinion if I had cared anything for it, really. What would be the harm of their doing it?»

«None whatever, if you really want my worthless opinion. But what could they do there?»

<< They could see something if they could n't do anything, and as soon as Miss Gage has got her new gowns I'm going to tell them you thought they could do it. It was their own idea, at any rate.»> «Miss Gage's?»

«Mrs. Deering's. She has the courage of a-I don't know what. She sees that it 's a desperate case, and she would n't stop at anything.»

«Now that her husband has gone home.»
"Well, which hotel shall they go to?»
«Oh, that requires reflection.>>

<< Very well, then, when you 've reflected I want you to go to the hotel you 've chosen, and introduce yourself to the clerk, and tell him your wife has two friends coming, and you want something very pleasant for them. Tell him all about yourself and Every Other Week.>>>

«He'll think I want them deadheaded.>>

«No matter, if your conscience is clear; and don't be so shamefully modest as you always are, but speak up boldly. Now, will you? Promise me you will!>>

<< I will try, as the good little boy says. But, Isabel, we don't know these people except from their own account.»>

«And that is quite enough.>>

"It will be quite enough for the hotelkeeper if they run their board. I shall have to pay it.»

«Now, Basil dear, don't be disgusting, and go and do as you 're bid.»

It was amusing, but it was perfectly safe, and there was no reason why I should not engage rooms for the ladies at another hotel. I had not the least question of them, and I had failed to worry my wife with a pretended doubt. So I decided that I would go up at once and inquire at the Grand Union. I chose this hotel because, though it lacked the fine flower of the more ancient respectability and the legendary charm of the States, it was so spectacular that it would be in itself a perpetual excitement for those ladies, and would form an effect of society which, with some help from us, might very well deceive them. This was what I said to myself, though in my heart I knew better. Whatever Mrs. Deering

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