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suddenly brilliant, as she saw him, with his umbrella over his shoulder, coming up the walk.
Arranging with trembling hands her toilet, she found her way along the hall, past the curtained door-ways, whose chintz hangings swayed to and fro, and down the wide, uncarpeted stair-way, which also seemed to sway to and fro; assuming, as she went, an air of going to meet nothing in particular. What she might by chance have encountered was not near the office-desk, nor in the largest and mustiest of the parlors, nor in the ball-room; but, entering a small receptionroom between the two, she saw him standing near the window, with his hand on the back of a chair which he was about to Occupy. He had a carnation in his buttonhole. She went forward, borne by a current distinct from the common provisions for locomotion, when she observed that he was not alone. He was apparently the guest of a lady, who, seated on the sofa, looked at Anne with inquiring eyes. She inquired into the nature of the interruption, and Slade's own gaze seemed to say that her presence at that moment was unexpected. He took the hand she had extended with a mechanical grasp, while the stranger looked on, and the loose springs of her sofa made a slight clanking noise. In a breath, Anne asked after his welfare, and, murmuring something about looking somewhere for somebody, summoned a smile and passed on through the room with greater haste than she had entered. Outside, her haste continued, and she rushed through the parlor, through the hall,-where her mother sat, with a group of embroidering friends,-up the swinging stairs, past the swaying curtains, till her progress was checked by the height between her window and the lawn.
Presently, as she stood there, she grew calmer. She recalled the looks of the lady in conference with Slade, her mourning garments, her no less than thirty-six years, her appearance of amiable gentility,-and she finally made out that this was the person whom he had long been expecting; whom her mother had declared would never arrive; and who, now she was here, was to illumine his station and instate him in favor. She repented her haste in going down before he had sent his card, and reproached him faintly for his subservience to discretion; then wished more than ever to see him, and ended by smiling faintly down the vista of the future.
The last few days had wrought a great
change in Anne Rittenhouse, though its outward signs were slight. She massed more lace than ever about her throat, and arranged her hair in looser braids. Her face was less inanimate, her eyes less shady, and she felt she was learning the first words of the only language worth while to speak.
If there was anything which retarded these words, it was the too great circumspection on the part of Slade. The beach stretched away into an opportunity whose extent she had measured in the company of young Corbin; and the days stretched away into evenings whose extent she had not fully measured in the company of any one; and she was occasionally conscious that, with some persuasion, she might experiment for a short distance along both these lines, if her friend, with his superior prudence, would not restrict her to ordinary times and chances of meeting.
As she stood at her window, again watching and waiting, she saw him depart, but felt that the train had been laid which would bring him freely and frequently back.
It was that fact which made her less guarded when her mother soon after mentioned the subject.
"That Mr. Slade seems at last to have found a person who knows him," the lady observed. "He made a call here this afternoon upon some one who received him; a stranger. She signs herself from Richmond, I am told."
"Then, if you want to, you can learn all about him," replied Anne.
"I don't know that I want to. I know all I care to already."
"So do I," the girl asserted.
And, indeed, the idea of asking prying questions regarding him had become repugnant to her.
"You haven't been taking any more long walks with him, I trust?"
"No," said Anne, "I haven't."
Which was very true.
Mrs. Rittenhouse looked at her child again, more closely.
"What have you been doing?" she inquired.
Anne hesitated, flushing to the roots of her hair. Then :
"I have seen him twice," she declared; and as if to take advantage of her sudden powers of confession, she went rapidly on: "I have seen him at the beach, and I have had a long talk with him. I like him very much, but there is always that feeling about
it as if there was something in the way. I think you ought to receive him, to invite him, to try to know him, to give him a chance, and not make him act, and me, too, as if there was something doubtful about it. I am sure he feels that he ought not to see me if he can't see you. He knows how you look upon him, and if you have made up your mind you wont like him, he isn't going to thrust his society upon you. He has too much pride; he will let you alone. He would like to let me alone, too, but he can't exactly. He keeps coming back."
She paused a moment, but the expression of her mother's face drove her on again.
"I like the men best who are trying to get on. They have more energy; they know what to do in emergencies; they are more interesting. They take people for what they are, and they find them better than we do. We don't find anybody who is just right. It is because we look down, and they look up, or else they just look around. They are all trying to get on together, and are not afraid to help one another. We are afraid, somehow, though dear knows what we have that they need want. Whatever we have, we don't use it. We stand off and keep it."
"Are these Mr. Slade's sentiments?" asked Mrs. Rittenhouse.
"I don't know what his sentiments are. He has never told me what he thinks of us. I know what I think of him. I think he pities us on account of the way we take things. It helps him to stand the way we take him. He smiles at us on account of our exclusiveness and our uselessness. He thinks the rats have got into us! He believes in every one making the most of himself, and making his own position and fortune. He is very liberal about those things. He is connected with some copperworks."
"Oh, Anne Rittenhouse!" exclaimed her mother.
She had been looking at her daughter with astonishment and incredulity, first at her dereliction, then at her extraordinary and interesting outburst, then at her escape into independent womanhood.
"He had heard of us," the girl went on, "and he thought he would like to meet us. Then Mr. Corbin introduced him, and we had that lovely afternoon. It has never been quite the same since. I don't know how you treated him, but I know it has
made a difference. There has been something in the way."
Suppose we say that he is afraid of me; that he thinks I will find him out," suggested the lady, dryly.
"Find him out, then," cried Anne; "why don't you?"
"So I am. I am finding out that he has been having clandestine meetings with you." "I am not afraid to meet him. It is he who is afraid to meet me. He is afraid of doing what he ought not. I haven't had meetings with him. We don't appoint them, but when they have happened it has happened, too, that nobody knew much about them. They are not clandestine, and yet again they are. I think he feels that they have to be, while he doesn't wish it, and wont acknowledge that they are. It bores him. It insults him. I think he means now that we must either take him up or drop him; he wants it understood that he isn't a man to do things in an underhand way. He is going to give us an opportunity to take him up. There is no objection to it really, except that you think there is. No one ever treated me with more respect than he does. He isn't formal, but neither is he the least presuming. You suspect everything in those you don't know, and pardon everything in those you do. Everything is suspicious if one thinks so. He is more than all right. He is head and shoulders above the other men I know."
"It is very interesting," returned Mrs. Rittenhouse, still with curious eyes and a very little smile ; "I have no doubt he is all that you say, and more; but that does not prevent his being all that I suspect. It rather helps it. It accords with his appearance, with his big nose, his rich color, his freedom. Even his affectation of propriety would deceive nobody but you, considering the remote point at which it begins. I have no doubt his manner is very respectful, since you say so; and I have no doubt that while rating himself at his full value, he is conscious of differences that make it difficult for him
to go very far. He knows his disadvantages better than any of us, but he sees you occasionally in spite of them, it seems; and on those occasions it is safe to say he does not omit to make himself as brilliant as possible, -very brilliant, we will suppose. It is sad that these occasions should be few, and that they should all be accidentally secret. No doubt he is honorable, according to his sense, but it wouldn't astonish him if some day proofs were given him that the happi
ness of the young lady was irrevocably involved. When that time comes, he will be equally honorable. He will repair his thoughtlessness by offering his not very attractive person, his commercial interests, his newspaper knowledge, and other valuables, perhaps, not yet brought to light. It is this proof that you are already desiring to give him, probably before he is prepared for it. You are too hasty; you should have had him advise you. If you are generous, and Mr. Slade has no ready excuse, I think it would be well for you to let your father, when he comes, have the benefit of his conversational powers some afternoon. He might help you in forming a judgment."
"I am not forming a judgment," said Anne, with another effort at self-suppression, "and I don't want any help. I have formed it already, without help from anybody."
"He may render you a greater service, then, in revising your opinions. I should not wonder if we should go home with him, -with your father;-or if not there, we may go some place else. I don't think he will stay long here."
And she looked around her little chamber, full of pine furniture and trunks, as if measuring the first impressions which might strike a large capitalist. One of the chief satisfactions which Mrs. Rittenhouse enjoyed at home was derived from the survey of her various apartments, which resembled those of a grand hotel.
"It is hard enough for us," she said; "it will be impossible for him."
The social brilliancy supposed to pertain to a watering-place was represented on the floor below by a number of children scampering through the halls, followed by pugs which were declared cheap at three hundred dollars; by a small roomful of gentlewomen of quiet ages, with their heads bowed over pale worsteds; and by a party of ladies in the parlor, gathered about a center-table bestrewn with letters printed on bits of yellow pasteboard. It was near this group that Anne and her mother stopped, on their final descent from the little chamber, and where they tarried to observe the game of forming words from those materials. There was no word yet formed of more than three letters; but the luster of the lamps overhead was reflected from the many facets of the shining stones adorning the hands outspread upon the table.
Presently Mrs. Rittenhouse, seeing a word, sat down, and Anne turned away, casting
her eyes over the sofas ranged around the room, where lingered a few solitary transients. Between these and the players, who formed the nucleus of the house, there was a wide vacant space; and in this space, near the outskirts of the solid central body, sat the lady who had enjoyed a visit from Mr. Slade in the afternoon. She was quite alone, but, unlike the other strangers, seemed to suffer from no sense of unfamiliarity with the ruling spirits who gave the house its tone. She had drawn her chair within the circle of light falling from the chandelier, yet found the illumination still insufficient for the octavo volume between whose pages she held a finger. She was inconspicuous yet agreeable in appearance, and the mourning which rested so solemnly within the folds of crape upon her dress was not deeply depicted upon her face.
The Philadelphians who chanced to come in and linger about the players all observed her, and to one of these, a little girl of twelve or thirteen, she kindly spoke, taking her hand. This little girl drew back, but a much young. er sister, seeing the advance, ran up and leaned over the lady's knee. To this child she also spoke, as to the mother who led her away, and within the hour that Anne observed her she had begun a slight initiatory intercourse with several persons, who answered briefly, but with respect. One of these, a cordial New-Yorker, soon went so far as to exchange views with her on the merits of the place, and to observe that there was no hotel-life in Newport. Anne regarded her with an interest which the stranger did not seem to return; but the young girl's attention to any object was confused by thoughts which led her, with recurring impulse, from a point in the hall to the piazza steps. The point in the hall was a small sheet of paper tacked on the wall, bearing a general invitation to the guests of the house to a ball the following night at the hotel which Mr. Slade had chosen for its broader basis; and the attrac tion on the piazza was the occasional umbrella which passed under the lamp-post.
The rain was ceasing, as if absorbed by the atmosphere, and the few lights to be seen were more murky and dim than the points as yet known of Slade's history. A low murmur came from the sullen ocean, and the fog everywhere was more dense than that which obscured Anne's mental view. As she wandered restlessly about, amid this general dampness and depression. an umbrella turned in at the gate, and, not
to be again too forward, she retreated to her
Nothing disturbed her there, however, and as her seclusion grew insupportable, she returned once more to the piazza below. Large, slow drops fell from the piazza roof, and a slight, sweet odor came with the light which fell in lines between the slats of the blinds. Voices also came from the same quarter-one advising resignation, the other gloomy and rebellious; and, not to be surprised by any persons who might be in the ball-room, Anne moved on. She visited once more the invitation on the wall, and the game, where her mother still selected small yellow letters with an emblazoned finger. The lady in mourning was no longer there; neither was she among those of quiet ages who, over their worsted, mentioned to one another the quality of their various possessions at home; but she met her unexpectedly, coming from the ball-room near the end of the side-hall. She was sniffing a bunch of carnations. Barney was with her.
With a slight recognition, Anne passed on, and traversing again with slow steps the two lengths of the piazza, while they, with steps equally slow, traversed the two halls, she met them once more at the front entrance. Barney then, rather awkwardly, introduced them. He was standing on one foot and supplying the support of the other with a curious stout cane.
"Mrs. Hine," he said, "is from Richmond, and will be at your house for a few days," and abruptly took his leave.
But the lady by no means required further assistance. She was amply able, from any given starting-point, to range through those anterooms to one's acquaintance which are kept for the reception of formal callers; and, indeed, she circulated among them with an ease which seemed to honor the person whom she visited. She was even capable, here and there, of brushing the doors leading into inner sanctuaries, and, owing to her sympathetic manner, was frequently admitted into friendly and confidential interiors. It was intimated by some that there was more pleasure in taking her into one's confidence than was derived from the return visits, but if she kept many of her sanctuaries closed, she certainly had saloons unusually commodious. She took Anne's hand, as she had that of a younger and equally unobjectionable child a short time before, and looked at her with kindly, but not obtrusive, interest. Her grasp was firm and warm, and Anne at once felt a
sense of support. "Here is some one," the lady seemed to say, "whom you can rely upon; some one whose nose is not too long, who is not English, and who can have no commercial interests; some one who is cordial, unembarrassed by any association whatever, and whose relations toward society were never those of a weaver to his loom; a lady who has a number of beautifully dressed young girls receive New Year's calls with her, with wax candles and a band, from three to twelve; and who, when she does not know the names of the boy callers, still mentions that she used to know their fathers; a lady who makes it her thoughtful care to promote the cheerful, prosperous, comfortable side of life; whose mourning fits her like a passing shadow, and whom one may now expect almost any morning to appear in blue."
The carnations among which she conducted her observations were as yet her only ornaments. Even on her hands she wore no jewels; but, considering her affliction, Anne thought it the best of taste to have left these off. Probably she had them in her trunk. If any fault was to be found with her, it was in her evident capacity to shed all falling storms and to keep her small brown eyes well burnished. Even those who liked her best-on whose side Anne instantly ranged herself-could not call her handsome. She was of moderate height, and well rounded; indeed, her features, as well as her figure, were a trifle large-not thick enough to be heavy, but so thick as to have expelled all suggestion of the attenuated and acrid, and of the delicate and spiritual as well. Her complexion was opaque; her hair, loosely arranged, was brown; and her movements were those of a person capable of much energy in a cause she once espoused.
Standing before her, without strictly noting any of these things, a sense of her graceful flexibility, as distinguished from stiffness, filled the young girl with confidence.
Anne's reception-rooms were very small and poorly furnished, and it was only a few moments before she opened the crack of an inner door.
"Mr. Slade," she said, "has been expecting you for some time. He has called upon you before."
But the lady did not at once go in. She sat down in sight of this interior, and attended only to a little fuller presentation of herself.
"I have been coming for some days," she
replied, in her modulated voice. "I have a little girl who is an invalid, and who, it was thought, might be benefited by the outdoor life and salt air. I don't know that anything else could have brought me. I am not fond of traveling in warm weather. I don't know, indeed, just what temperature I am fond of traveling in. I have tried it in all weathers but the right one-if there is a right one. A fair day is too good, and a stormy one too bad. There is a great deal gained if one can do it in the night; it is one of the disagreeable things that may be slept through."
"It was certainly too bad to-day," Anne observed. "I hope your little girl is no worse."
"I hope not," said the mother. "She had every care. It was very pleasant when we started." And she described the route from Richmond.
Anne also told how they came from Philadelphia.
"You are from Philadelphia, then," the lady observed. "I understand this is a Philadelphia house."
"There is quite a little colony of us." "That was why I came,-I and my little sick girl. It was a great recommendation." "You thought it would be a good place for a little sick girl ?" said Anne. "Well, so it is. The sicker the better."
Presently Anne again opened the inner door for a very modest distance. "What beautiful carnations!" she said.
rather not ;-it was forced; it was bad taste, but something compelled her to say:
"Mr. Slade had some this afternoon. He seems to be fond of them."
My little girl had a great bunch sent her to-day," Madam Hine asserted. made me carry a few."
The lady, strictly speaking, still did not enter, but she threw open a door of her own, disclosing a small compartment whose occupant was the same as the one Anne's sanctuaries could not contain.
"Not that," Mrs. Hine protested. "I didn't mean quite that. I had at one time some very dear friends who were Philadelphians. We were neighbors at Orange."
"The Cockerills?" cried Anne, eagerly. "They spent their summers there. They have gone abroad-they have gone to the Holy Land; I understand they are to stay four years."
"So I hear," assented the lady, without steps. sharing Anne's elation.
So far as she knew them, Anne had a profound admiration for the Cockerills, which she freely expressed, their former neighbor at Orange agreeing.
"They are very thorough in all they do," the latter observed, "from the trimming of their hedges to the scrubbing of their horseblock. It isn't likely that they will slur over Palestine."
"I have known Mr. Slade for a good many years," she said. "We are very good friends. I am glad he has found time to spend a few weeks here. He generally has no time. It has made quite a change in him already; he looks quite weather-beaten. When I saw him last, he was a differentlooking person,-not that his looks were ever much to boast of."
She made her way without embarrassment to a group whom she knew, but had barely taken her seat when she saw both Slade and Barney descending the steps, apparently about to serve as escorts to two ladies, whose umbrellas and white skirts were alone visible. She had no doubt they were the merry ladies whose white teeth had nibbled the bits of lemon, and their appearance and disappearance at that moment silenced the sociable intentions of which her little party of friends were to have had the benefit. Her acquaintances, who were also from across the way, were soon ready to return with her whence they came, and to avoid the wet grass, they went down the
Miss Rittenhouse would a great deal paved walk to the street. Midway between
Anne would have been charmed to have heard more, but her new acquaintance had apparently no more to say at present. She was anxious about the little invalid upstairs and Anne had to wait till another day to see more of this interesting and attractive woman. As she moved through the hall with noiseless step, Anne returned to the corner of the veranda. The Providence boat was passing, which told the hour of half after nine. There was still some evening left, and she looked over to the more animated piazza of the adjacent house, where a number of visitors were agreeably spending it. She could hear the voices and recognize the figures of some of her friends. The little gate between the two widely yawned; and some boys and girls were crossing through the grass, taking long strides. The lights in the windows grew brighter; even the promenaders seemed to be expecting a crisis across the way; and, thus solicited, Anne also crossed over, with a few long