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through a prodigious clatter, amid traffic. that seemed in constant danger of collision, between buildings that leaned halfway across the sky. There stole through them a feeling of defenselessness, of insignificance. Before the hotel which they had chosen-carved portico, glimpses of marble pillars and palm-trees within, servants rigged out in gaudy livery-Aurelius completely lost his courage. Waving back the porters, he called to the chauffeur to drive on; and after careering through the streets for half an hour, they found a family hotel like a dingy obelisk, sufficiently unfashionable to abate the most of their reluctance. The clerk offered to board and lodge them all for fifteen dollars a day.
"Fifteen!" Thallie's mouth fell open, Euphrosyne turned slightly pale, Mr. Goodchild's hunted look gave place to consternation; but Aglaia, her emeraldgreen eyes already calm again, moved forward, touched her father's arm, and mur
"This is New York. Let's make the best of it."
They made the best of it.
From their high rooms they looked out at a New York beyond their expectations a city of bright towers rising far into the limpid air. Each unique in detail, though all shaped slenderly for the same defiance of the heavens, those structures seemed to float above the humbler roofs like the vision of a more audacious civilization than to-day's. And far off to the south, where the haze of distance thickened, other edifices appeared, only vaguely showing all their upward flight, their domes sending forth soft golden glimmerings from the midst of space.
But down below, in the streets that resembled the bottoms of crevasses, humanity was rendered trivial by its own works. Those tiny creatures rippling along the pavements were not persons, but the seething system of one physical body, each atom linked to the rest by invisible ganglia which drove all to an equal agitation. And the thought came to Aurelius that here he saw humanity revealed
somewhat as it might look to God-a whole made up of countless parts, all moving in many ways toward the same ends, none more important than the rest, none capable of injury without some subtle alteration of the whole.
Yet when he descended into the streets, he regained the feeling that his fellows. were vastly different from one another.
But when they found Fifth Avenue, New York at last fulfilled the girls' anticipations. Here rolled the motor-cars with crested panels, full of flowers and furs. Here alighted the young girls who had stepped out of the fashion-books, impressively bizarre in their costumes of the latest hour. But the show-windows suggested even more extravagance than one saw in motion on this thoroughfare. Passing the classic restaurants, the famous hotels, the mansions like foreign palaces, the three Graces wondered if their happiness would ever equal that of women who were born to such surroundings. For the moment the prospect before them-the voyage and strange lands, the long study and slow climb to triumph in their chosen arts seemed less inspiring than formerly.
All at once they drew Aurelius toward the shops. In spacious rooms, lined with mirrors, salesgirls advanced upon them, willowy in black satin frocks of the most recent cut, with the bearing of Oriental handmaids raised, through some pasha's caprice, to feminine authority. A suave patronage underlay their words and gestures as their glances ran over these garments that had come from Zenasville, as they exhibited the gowns of lace, of cloth of silver, of painted gauze, and glittering embroidery. Mr. Goodchild, seated in a corner, nervously smoothing his thick, tangled beard, blinked at this finery, such as he had never seen before. Euphrosyne and Thalia, afflicted by sensations of humbleness, fell mute. Aglaia, however, after calmly pricing and examining everything, at last ended her sisters' torments with the nonchalant remark, "I think before we finally decide we 'll look a little farther." But for her, their retreat would have been a flight.
Thallie, blushing in the sunshine, cried:
"What must they think of us, buying nothing after putting them to so much. trouble!"
"Who cares what they think? All the same, they gave me some ideas. And now we'll go to the department stores, and get off cheaper."
But it was not till three days later that the sisters managed to reform their dress completely.
At first they hardly knew one another in those draperies looped and puffed like costumes in a Franco-Persian comic opera, in the hats tilted at extraordinary angles, in the fur scarfs worn, as it seemed, back foremost, in the little slippers revealing the sheen of ankles through a mesh of silk. Thus arrayed, two at least found themselves abashed-till they remembered they were, after all, no more than fashionably arrayed. And even Thallie was moved to favor her new outfit with an unprecedented care, herself replacing every hook and button lost, and mending each hole at once in the heels of her silk stockings.
In that transformation each, to be sure, had made concessions to her nature. Frossie's colors were the quietest, her whole attire, as befitted her "strong" features, pince-nez, bright-red hair, the most conservative. Thallie had chosen clear hues and indecisive contours, according with her vivid, though still uncompleted, loveliness. But Aglaia's was, perhaps, the greatest triumph. Though garbed with the sophisticated daintiness of a young matron breathing the very air of style, she managed to look younger than Euphrosyne.
The swift change in them surprised the other patrons of the family hotel-the elderly ladies who prowled the parlors in Egyptian shawls, the bluff old gentlemen. who "put on no frills" with Mr. GoodIchild in the lobby, the wives of traveling. salesmen who, every morning, eased babycarriages down the front steps. These honest folk, humdrum even in New York, had not realized that the dingy obelisk
was serving the three Graces only as a sort of chrysalis.
Aurelius, when they came to preen themselves before him, found his daughters almost too grand to kiss; he thought, with sinking heart, "I shall surely lose. them very soon."
Indeed, everywhere they now went the eyes of young men brightened at the sight of them. But the sisters, when they ventured forth alone, found that masculine. homage in New York was bolder than in Zenasville. For self-protection, they were forced to end their clear, frank gazing, to repress the friendly interest natural to their faces, to assume the mask discreet young girls must wear in the great cities.
"Why, these New York men are terrible!" protested Thallie, though dimpling, despite herself, beneath her frown.
"It 's clear," murmured Frossie, "that with the slightest encouragement-"
"I suppose men are men wherever one finds them," said Aglaia, with a shrug, "though I understand that in Europe they 're even more frankly so."
The three fell silent, wondering about the men of Europe, and, after all, not displeased by the idea that they might prove "more so."
New York, however, still sufficiently amazed them.
They visited the museums and the parks, inspected the monuments, peeped into Chinatown and Wall Street. From the tops of sky-scrapers they saw at last, beyond roofs and masts and shredding clouds of smoke, the sea, a-shimmer clear to the horizon. Every night they went to the theater to watch the hysterics of the problem-plays or the sensuous confusion of the musical comedies. It was Thallie who decided that the drama in New York was immoral.
"The drama, maybe," Euphrosyne assented; "but the musical shows are less immoral than amoral."
"Most of them are imported from Europe," Aglaia at last volunteered. "Even pruned a bit, they say, before we see them!"
And the sisters pictured for themselves
CHILDREN OF HOPE
those lands whose amusements so shamelessly confessed their cynicism.
But at concerts they could approve of One afternoon everything they heard. they attended a song-recital by Mme. Bertha Linkow, a famous soprano whose season at the Metropolitan had just ended.
They sat far back in a sea of millinery that spread through the concert-hall clear under the wide sweep of the boxes. On the stage appeared a tall, robust woman, majestic even in an azure gown of the most fashionable eccentricity. Her voice, stealing out above the throng, was like warm, flawless gold. She sang "Nymphs and Shepherds," "Wie mir 's Weh tut," Carey's "Pastorale," and other numbers also. When the first group of her selections was done, the sisters sat silent, their hands half open on their laps, their hearts deeply moved by all those exquisite. sounds. But at last Aglaia, with an accent maybe due to envy, murmured:
streets, the museums, the theaters, the countless show-places of New York, his
wife upon his arm. She wore a full
skirted dress of poplin covered with a fringed polonaise; a tiny tip-tilted hat was set upon her chignon; long cameo ear-rings dangled against her milk-white throat, adorned with a double crease. The years had not aged her: youth was exhaled from her person like the perfume of a flower. But when they passed before a mirror, he saw, beside his gray hairs and stooping shoulders, the countenance of Thallie! In the morning, however, he had forgotten that disappointment.
But their week in New York was passing. The steamship tickets, good clear to Paris, were already in the hotel safe. The antique trunks, their curved lids plastered inside with gay-colored paper blossoms, yawned open, as if begging to be packed in time. Yet the Goodchild family continued to run hither and thither through the city, the girls ever thrilling anew,
"I'm sure she scooped three times in readjusting their perceptions, and only Grieg's 'Lauf der Welt."
The recital ending, the women of the audience swarmed toward the stage; the girls dragged Aurelius forward, Now they saw the prima donna at close quarters. Bowing and beaming, her arms full of roses, she glowed with the wholesome blonde beauty of a magnificent peas
She was nearer forty than thirty, yet that night they all dreamed of her.
Aurelius, when he stretched out his tired limbs between the sheets, mused for a while on all the marvels of the city. Each reminiscence ended with the thought, "If she could have shared that with her husband and her children!" Sadness crept round him, as tenuous and penetrating as the autumn mists of thirty years ago, when he and she, returning arm in arm through Maple Lane, had ended their evening walk, among the garden-plats, with a long kiss, and the words "Some day! Some day!" At last, on the border-land of sleep, it seemed to him that the expectations of that time were realized. With the ease of those who make pilgrimages in their dreams, he returned through the
late at night, when back again in the topsyturvy bedrooms, pausing to think, "Four days, three days, and we shall be in America no longer!"
Already their young, eager brains had profited by a thousand fleeting observations; but how much more did they not feel they had to learn! Hardly an hour passed that they were not humiliated by their inexperience, that they did not flush because they had not acted like "NewYorkers.' All their real cultivation seemed insignificant to them, compared with the savoir-faire of the metropolis. Their acquaintance with ancient and European literature, the histories of music. and of painting, the political development of nations, did not, in New York, excuse their ignorance of how to pass triumphantly the velvet cord at the threshold of smart restaurants, how to order tea, how to tip the waiter neither lavishly nor parsimoniously. At last, forgetting even the art treasures they had so long desired to study here, they succumbed completely to Fifth Avenue, to the great hotels where, if only they had known it,
they learned lessons in deportment chiefly from aliens like themselves.
"She gave him fifty cents."
"Two teas complete are eighty, and her extra tartlet makes one dollar. The Baedeker for France says only one tenth of the bill."
"But this is New York."
"That fat one does n't take her escort's arm; he holds her by the elbow."
"In Europe a gentleman never touches a lady except when dancing or kissing her hand."
"And will they kiss our hands, those foreigners?"
"One could hardly object, if it's the custom."
"Who said anything about objecting!" "Now the one in yellow 's smoking another cigarette."
"If a girl ever smoked like that in Zenasville!"
"But this is New York."
"Maybe she 's not quite respectable."
"Perhaps they wonder if we are?"
Thallie giggled outright at the idea of any one imagining that sedate Euphrosyne might not be respectable. The latter retorted:
"I don't think it's a subject to laugh at, anyway."
"But," said Aglaia, her shadowy smile appearing, "this is New York."
When they had paid their tea-bill, glancing furtively at the waiter to see how he received the tip, the three Graces went out to the sunny avenue. They strolled past the shops, as much to gaze on their reflected images as to view the window-displays. A photographer's showcase engrossed them; they contemplated the print of a bride in her wedding-dress. And they wondered if the fashions in wedding-dresses would change before their own marriages. The sky was fading between the white marble towers when they turned back to the family hotel, where their father was beginning to worry about them.
makes some of its happiest discoveries when undisturbed by age, sent them off nearly every afternoon to "play by themselves." If they asked him, on their return, what he had been doing, he answered with a smile:
"I've been in much-reviled Nineveh. But the heathen, who respect the foolish, sent me back safe and sound."
On their last night in New York, after the play, the girls inveigled him into a Broadway restaurant for supper.
They entered a room embellished with marble, gilt, and mirrors, full of flowering-shrubs and white-spread tables. tween the lustrous pillars, knee-deep, as it seemed, in the rich bloom of azalea-plants, the supper-parties moved to their places. The women, against a background of white and black, assumed a regal mien, aware, no doubt, of their elaborate headgear, of the scanty corsages which they had eked out with jewels, of the artful folds that pretended to conceal their forms. When they gathered together by their chairs, there appeared for an instant a dazzlement of pale satin, powdered flesh, and diamonds. When they took their seats, it was as if a dewy garland had been flung around the table.
The sisters neglected their suppers to watch those others, so gay, so much at ease, so well surrounded by dapper cavaliers. They wondered what it must be like to live such lives, which they pictured as one round of social triumph and ro
But this scene depressed their father for a different reason. The strange, unnecessary foods, the many bottles of champagne, the air thick with tobacco-smoke, heavy with perfumes, throbbing with erotic music, seemed to Aurelius degrading stimulants to pleasure. He thought: "Could they not find recreation in some simpler, healthier way? All these influences must finally react upon the soul. So the ancients began to feast before their downfall."
Into an open space emerged a man with an orange scarf wrapped around his eve
For Aurelius, remembering that youth ning waistcoat, and a woman in a pea
green wig. The band struck up a Spanish tune; the pair, after bawling out some verses of a slangy song, fell into each other's arms and began to undulate languorously among the tables. Slowly the pallor of Mr. Goodchild's brow disappeared beneath a wave of red. Looking away, he met the eyes of a gentleman who sat near by alone.
This stranger was a tall, rather thickset man of forty, whose calm, smoothshaven face revealed at the same time sophistication and a hint of gentleness. He wore a dinner-jacket; two fine black pearls adorned his shirt-front; on his left hand shone a gold ring set with a graved carnelian. The plate before him contained some remnants of a light repast, his tall glass was still half-full of welldiluted whisky, and he was just letting the waiter lay match to his cigar when he caught Mr. Goodchild's gaze. By way of response, he produced a slight grimace of sympathy, an almost imperceptible shrug, an effect of having remarked: "Everything you suggest is quite true. But then, my poor fellow-sufferer, this is New York." And after his glance had passed over the Goodchild family in one swift flash, he stared into space as before, smoking at ease, his thoughts apparently traveling far away.
Euphrosyne fancied she had seen his picture somewhere. Aglaia summoned
"Can you tell me who—” "Aggie! He'll hear you!"
"Who that gentleman is over there?" "That gentleman? That is Mr. Holland, Miss."
"Oh, Mr. Holland."
And fear of appearing still more ignorant kept them from asking who "Mr. Holland" might be.
They decided that while he could never have been handsome, he was quite distinguished-looking.
Now the head waiter himself came bowing to his table!
"Mr. Holland has found everything all right this evening?"
"Quite all right, Humbert."
But "Mr. Holland" was tipping the waiter, not lavishly, yet receiving that tyrant's humble thanks. And he departed like a man who walks out of his own dining-room.
"If only we knew some one like that," Aglaia exclaimed, "to show us the ropes over there!"
"As if anybody like that would bother with us!"
"Who knows who will and who won't before we 're through?"
Then, realizing that the ship sailed next morning, that it was one o'clock, that nothing had been packed, they went home as fast as they could.
The next morning was all hazy from excitement. As they sped for the last time through the city's streets, wild apprehensions darted into their minds. They remembered tales of storms and fires at sea; they pictured panics round life-boats on the sloping decks; they saw themselves clinging to a raft between two mountainous waves. But as they entered the pier, and viewed, through tall doorways, black bulwarks rising clear out of sight, like the walls of an immovable building, there came to them a feeling of immense relief. That whole structure was so vast, So strong, so still, one could not imagine it even rocking in the highest storms.
When they had climbed the gangway,