The House of a Merchant Prince

III.

AT MUSICAL MRS. CLEF’S.

MRS. CLEF was a lady of excellent social standing, being of the old, so much esteemed Knickerbocker stock. She had had losses, and had reconstructed her circle thereafter, contracting it to moderate dimensions, and basing it upon her ruling taste for music.

She had the faculty of enlisting in her service the leading professionals who appeared before the public in turn. They came willingly to a hostess of cordial, unconstrained manners, who was a person of such intelligent sympathy, and a performer besides of no mean skill herself. She had played before Thalberg and Liszt.

In her apartment at the Brandenberg, a fashionable semi-hotel on Madison Avenue, the occupants of which either took their meals at a dining-room in the house, or had them sent in from neighboring restaurants, she had some old family portraits, long, low mirrors and other furniture, of an elegant, antiquated cast, which had been imported by her grandfather, when communication with Europe was by no means the easy matter it is at present. These formed an interesting reminder of her former more stately and expensive style of living. A great violinist, in a freak, had written his name across one of the doorjambs. She pointed out the autograph as one of her treasures.

She was of an easy liberality of views, and encouraged sprightliness in her guests. She was fonder of young than of elderly company, as a means, perhaps, of keeping off intrusive suggestions of advancing age. She made a delightful chaperon for certain young ladies of her acquaintance, who often came in search of her for this service, and was usually ready at short notice for their excursions.

Most things were treated of there with a tone of humorous cynicism, that nothing greatly shocked. Mrs. Clef, in a kind of bravado of throwing off the tiresome caution with which the world was stifling itself, said sharp and bright things of people ; but generally with the implication that she thought little the worse of them in consequence, and that she herself was subject to the same treatment as a matter of course.

The graceless Huyskamps, who fell with a sort of helplessness from one sin and folly to another, came in for hardly more caustic disparagement than the upright Walkills, who made profession, with large wealth and not a little fashion, of strict evangelical piety, — to whose large houses, in fact, a certificate of church membership was almost a necessity for admission.

The air of refined Bohemianism, with the excellent music, attracted Bainbridge. He had a long-established repugnance to the conventional and ordinary ; and, in a desultory frequenting of society, in which he was to be but irregularly counted upon at best, he sought by preference those places which promised a little variation from it. The extremely worldly tone, too, was that which he was pleased to call his own. Alter an experience of life which had not answered to his sanguine expectations, he considered himself a deeply knowing person. He constituted himself, in speech, the apostle of views and practices he declared to prevail, not such as ought to prevail; though it is probable it would still have troubled very much the conscience of which he made so light to injure in the slightest any human being.

To the ambitious of both sexes, after the long miscarriage in succession of favorite plans, there is apt to come a period of revolt against most that had been deemed sufficient and established. Since all that is usually received has been so unpropitious to the warmly-cherished aspirations for happiness, perhaps there are other systems, other directions, heretofore undreamed of, by which it may be attained.

Bainbridge passed a life (now unlikely to be of any special importance, he deemed) in an attitude, if the contradictory traits may be framed together, of calm recklessness. “ At least,” he said, putting the new experiences together with the old, “ I shall have lived ; I shall not have stagnated.”

A volatile spirit and a susceptibility to humor, not wholly repressible by any adversity, played over this really tragic substratum, so far as it was genuine and of probable cause, as will-o’-thewisps are said to dance cheerfully above very black and dangerous pools.

Mrs. Clef sang, swelling out her ample throat and bosom in the process. Signor Banderoli gave a comic duet from Don Pasquale, with Miss Stella Burgess, who had been his pupil, and nearly put that young lady herself out of countenance with his droll grimaces, though she knew them so well.

Among those who played, with a skilled touch and quite a noticeable degree of feeling, was a Miss Emily Rawson. She captured Bainbridge afterwards, as she had often done before, and led him away to one of the chintzcovered sofas for conference.

“ What shall we do with you ? What a stranger you are ! I had to put up my eye-glass before I knew you,” she began. “ Are you never coming near me any more ? I did want you to come so much last Thursday night, and just rehearse once, even if you afterwards found you could not take part in the little concert. What made vou drop out of the club ? I suppose we shall never get you around to the reading-class any more. And as to that poor German class, you and some others have set such an example of neglect we are quite in despair. Professor Blauvelt says we must have fines. We think of going to the German theatre again in a body, a week from to-morrow night. Can you not come ? ”

She spoke in a high-pitched, agreeably modulated voice, which conveyed in itself an intimate association with fashion, or at least with refined prosperity. She was handsomely attired, and of a plain but lady-like aspect. A dot or two of court-plaster coquettishly aided her complexion, which was not of the most brilliant. Of a frail and nervous type which fades early, she appeared to be not far from Bainbridge’s own age.

This was a young woman who, in her native city, — it was Bridgefield, — had “outgrown her set.” Experiencing a certain mortification to see all her friends and acquaintances married about her, she set off on her travels ; first to Europe, where she sojourned in numerous pensions and perfected her music, then through the West and South of her own country, — to the health springs of Colorado and to Florida. She settled finally, for its “ advantages,” in New York, making a portion of that accretion which the great city gathers every year, as planets gather star-dust: part come to seek their fortune, part to spend it in the greatest variety of pleasures.

Daughter of a semi-invalid, unenergetic, widowed mother, one whose easy motto was, “ Whatever is to be will be,” she had latterly taken the disposition of her fate and of all their affairs very much into her own hands. She was ambitious both of the married state (taking no warning from the revelations of the divorce courts, and from others, not a few, daily before her eyes), as an essential condition of happiness, and of a social career. But thus far she had had no great success in any plans she may have laid for either result. Without fortune sufficient to impress so great a city, though a very snug amount in itself, she had been able only to draw around her and join herself to a somewhat miscellaneous circle, composed of acquaintances of watering-places and of travel, those of coteries of music, languages, the decorative arts, and religion, — into all of which she had plunged in turn, in the craving for excitement and new opportunities, — and of some few lesser society people, to whom they had brought letters of introduction.

She had secured a great deal of the society of Bainbridge, after a first meeting on some minor musical occasion, by a pertinacious ingenuity of inventions. They had been associated together in the pleasant intimacy of private theatricals, musical duets, the Amaranth German, and classes in reading and the languages. She had even asked him to come and smoke to her, as another might have asked him to play or declaim. She believed in him, or affected to, and predicted fine things of his future. When he grumbled at his ill-luck in the world and his poverty, of which he made no sort of secret, she said, “ We are all poor in a genteel way,” and professed simple, domestic tastes, and at the same time artfully dangled before him, under pretext of taking counsel on the prices of certain bonds and shares, glimpses of her private fortune.

Bainbridge, since his losses and the affair of Madeline Scarrett (who had given him a successful rival in the person of the capitalist and invalid, Elphinstone Swan, the father of children, by a former marriage, much older than herself), had not looked upon himself as a desirable person from the matrimonial point of view. He would not have been averse to continuing a platonic relation with a person who was prepossessing in many ways, and had the good taste to appreciate his merits so excellently.

But Miss Rawson secretly thought otherwise. She made her own estimate of his character as a trustworthy and interesting person, and of the value of his connection with the Hudson Hendricks, an elegant family of the first prominence, whose near kinsman he was. With her income and the social advantages open to one of his blood, she would have counted on making a bold push to the front rank in society.

From certain signs, — he hoped it was not a mere masculine vanity, — the young man regretted to suspect her of making what is called a “ dead set ” at him, and had thought it prudent for some time past to withdraw as much as possible from the intimacy. He yielded himself easily now to her old air of bon cameraderie ; he could hardly do less, but whispered to himself at the same time, “ Suaviter in modo, fortiter in re.”

“ I really fear I shall not be able to. An engagement, that” — he began, in reply to her invitation.

“ Oh, always some excuse,” she interrupted, — “ always something ! You do not wish to.”

“ Oh, really ” — he protested. He by no means wished her to divine from his manner his changed point of view.

She began to question him on the doings of late, that kept him away from her. What was the McMurray-Bourdon wedding like ? And were there as many guests at Mrs. Antram’s ball as usual ? She had the names and personal descriptions of the leading society people all at the tip of her tongue, acquiring them from the position of a very close observer.

As to the first, he had had a headache, and taken a Turkish bath instead. On the evening of the other he had got mixed up with some young artist acquaintances in a rather jolly time at the Sketch Club, and forgotten all about it, or at least given it the go-by.

This neglect of what was so choice and distinguished, in favor of something very ordinary and vulgar, seemed to Miss Emily Rawson little short of sacrilege. The Antrams’ ball was the principal event of the winter. A team of wild horses should not have kept her from either that or the McMurray-Bourdon wedding, had she been asked.

“ Society and I neglect each other very much,” said Bainbridge. “ I wonder they don’t cross me off the books more than they do. I suppose they forget it. Mrs. Rifflard, for instance, must be in a very pretty muddle, with her list of a thousand invitations. I always tell her my name when I go in. ‘Mr. Bainbridge.’ ‘Ah, Mr. Bainbridge ! I am so pleased.’ Then my successor follows. My Hudson Hendricks were good enough to start me very fairly in that sort of thing some years ago ; but I have cultivated it about as little, I dare say,—it really seems amusingly impudent, — as the greatest snob in town : as young Kingbolt, or Austin Sprowle, or Sprowle Onderdonk, for example, who assert that it is only the inexperienced and strugglers for a foothold that make party calls and dinner visits, or show any particular recognition of the civilities offered them. The certain-of-their-position get their invitations just the same. For my case, it is partly a native apathy, and partly — I could hardly tell you what. If they treat me ill, that stands for itself ; if well, I consider it a case of false pretenses. They attribute to me, no doubt, a bank account and all sorts of other advantages I don’t possess.”

“ Then you think money of so much consequence ?”

“ Lack of it is the only crime that is not forgiven. Its possession is the cardinal virtue, the one thing that it is interesting to hear about. What is done in courts and camps is of no importance nowadays. It is what is done in a bank.”

To vary a line of discussion which was not uncommon with them, he told her in an easy way, as an amusing anecdote of an indifferent person she would never be likely to see, of the visit of Ottilie to the store, that afternoon, her chiding by her uncle, at which he had been unwillingly obliged to be present her piquant manifestation of independence, and how Rodman Harvey had just been bequeathing her an infinitesimal legacy (he supposed he could say thus much without breach of professional confidence), which added to the interest.

“ Is she pretty ? You men always ask that. Nothing else will do you.”

“ Oh, she is pretty enough. I should not call that kind of looks particularly imposing in themselves. It all depends on the manners. I should think that she might have manners of quite a nice sort. I should judge that she might have that sentiment of rhythm, that touch of delicate suppleness that is a great thing in a woman.”

“ Since she is so very fine, I should think her uncle would give her more. He is a hard, disagreeable man, as I have always heard. He never did anybody a good turn in his life.”

“ I have come to have considerable regard for anybody who does not do you a bad turn.”

“ Oh, yes ! you stand by him because he gives you business, and you hope, very likely, to become his principal attorney.”

“ I know of no better reason, if that were so. But I believe I am candid enough to judge of people apart from their relations to me. I should say that affection was not Rodman Harvey’s strong point ; but that he would be a person very regular and upright in his dealings ; that he might be a person who would cherish a very high ideal of commercial integrity, if only for the neatness and symmetry of it.”

Later in the evening the same name was a subject of discussion in another group; to which Miss Rawson called him, vivaciously, crying, —

Au secours! Your beloved Harveys are in danger.”

Mrs. Clef was dissertating casually, in her tart way, on the engagement, not long since made public, of the daughter, Angelica Harvey, and an extremely well-connected, though, according to her, not especially brilliant, young man, Austin Sprowle, who had at one time been an under secretary of legation at Paris.

“ They say they were engaged, or at least there was an understanding, for some time before it was formally announced,” she said. " The way it came out was, some of the girls were rather ridiculing his appearance, at Mrs. Bloomfield’s kettle-drum, and Angelica Harvey, who was present and heard them, broke out with, ' He is of the finest family in America, and — I am engaged to him ! ’ She happened to be in one of her vicious, domineering moods, I suppose, that day. They say it was positively dreadful, the way her eyes flashed ! However, that does not prevent her from flirting with other men, and notably with that young Kingbolt, as much as before. The match was made by the two mothers, at Pau. Family is Mrs. Harvey’s hobby. Having married as she did herself, she thinks that is the direction in which they chiefly need strengthening ; and her daughter shares her taste. I suppose the Sprowles are expecting something very handsome in the way of dowry from Harvey ; but I should be inclined to think, with his fancy of piling up the largest sum possible for his eldest son, they would be rather disappointed. The Sprowles are far from poor, of course, but people who have had so many generations behind them unconnected in any way with trade cannot expect to compete with the vulgar modern style of fortunes. He is not, in fact, a fine-looking person,” Mrs. Clef continued. “ I always think, somehow, of the knobs of his body. His feet stick out at an awkward angle, and he has one of those gourd-shaped heads with nothing in particular in them which I should think would be the despair of the phrenologists. It looks topply ; his neck is so very slender. He never said a brilliant thing in his life. I wonder how she puts up with him, she is so very ready with her tongue. Though she is a vixen of a girl, too, when she wishes to be ; and he has no great treasure in her, either.”

“ As to his doing nobody a bad turn,” said Miss Rawson, returning to the subject of Rodman Harvey with Bainbridge, “ you know what I think of his conduct towards my friends, and yours, the Hasbrouck family, in the matter of their property. I was talking about it with Mrs. Hasbrouck only the other day.”

“ What ! Is Mrs. Hasbrouck here ? Since how long ? Why did I not know of it before ? ”

“ She has been here some little time, — at the Regina Flats. She is going to have an evening, and get together some of the Southern element in New York, I believe. She must have entertained very charmingly, I think, when she had the means. How should I have told you anything about her, or anything else, when you never come to see me ? ”

IV.

SUNDAY ON THE AVENUE.

By the middle of April the high board fence which had long obscured the view of the work in progress at the new mansion of Rodman Harvey, at the corner of Fifth Avenue and West Blank Street, was down. It came down of a Saturday afternoon, and on the Sunday following, the completion of the house was a matter of general notoriety.

On Sunday noons, in New York, on the letting out of the churches, there streams along Fifth Avenue, the chief thoroughfare of the great quarter of brown sandstone and plate-glass inhabited by its wealth and fashion, a procession which is unique in the civilized world. In the charming early springtime, after the severities of the winter, it is swollen to its fullest dimensions. Then the most exclusive people, who properly consider a promenade so open to all as quite too vulgar for their usual participation therein, are often allured to take part. To-day was not only in the genial spring-time, but it was Easter Day, the great festival of the Christian year, and a recognized occasion for the display of feminine fashions.

The air yet seemed full of the chiming of bells, the swelling notes of organ, harp, and viol, and of clear voices chanting anthems, and perfumed with the white lilies and roses from around all the fonts and chancel rails. The Resurrection had been, naturally, the theme in all the pulpits of the line of Gothic churches following each other interminably down the Avenue; but the Rev. Mr. Haggerson had managed to combine with it a discourse which made the fourth in his regular series to young men. The Rev. Mr. Gqswin had attacked skepticism. The Rev. Mr. Telfair demonstrated the absurdity of imagining any necessary connection between ideas of supernaturalism and morality. Mr. Dillman had drawn the lessons of the City of Trebizond disaster. The Bishop of Orinoco, at Saint Barnabas’, had made an eloquent appeal for the missionary work of his far-off station. The Rev. Mr. Gambit, taking the parable of the barren fig-tree, had divided his subject under three heads : first, the conditions of fruitfulness ; second, the penalties of unfruitfulness ; third, the fruits which his hearers might be reasonably expected to bring forth. The Rev. Mr. Bashan utilized in some appropriate way the blowing down of the walls of Jericho by the blasts of rams’ horns. How simple, how apparently contemptible, were the means ; and yet at the fated hour, at the final note, the fortifications of the derisive city, that contained the elements of weakness in itself, crumbled to inevitable ruin. An analogy, he thought, might be found to this in the terrible force of public opinion when directed upon reputations falsely enjoyed, and undermined by secret consciousness of guilt.

The pastor of Rodman Harvey, the polished Dr. Miltimore, had little of all this hewing down of barren fig-trees and blowing of rams’ horns of judgment. He softened the asperities of theology. He adopted a temperate, scholarly air, as of a person delivering addresses before historical societies. He devoted himself somewhat to reconciling the supposed inconsistency between temporal and spiritual welfare. Rodman Harvey had had one of his sermons of this sort put into pamphlet form, and kept copies of it by him, which he sometimes presented to new acquaintances, saying, “ My good minister preached a sermon the other day that pleased me so well that I had to have it printed ; ” and this by no means did him harm in his business relations down town. Watervliet, the club wit, complimented the gentlemanly tone of things at Dr. Miltimore’s highly. “ He never touches on politics or religion,” he said, “ and offends the prejudices of no man.”

Was Dr. Miltimore then to harrow up the feelings of the much-burdened capitalists, his parishioners, on their sole day of rest? Why, the responsibilities of Rodman Harvey alone, sitting there in his crimson-lined, oaken pew, were something incredible. Stockholder and director in the Antarctic, Cosmopolitan, and Union banks, the Alien-Mutual and Planet insurance companies, the Great Western Mail steamers, the Great Southern Devious Air Line, the Rio Bravo and Willamette, the Onalaska and Maumee railways, the Vulcan Rolling Mills, the Franklin Telegraph, the Metropolis Gas, the Featherstone Hay-Scale companies, and in the Chamber of Commerce, the Union League Club, the Academy of Music, the Historical, the Agricultural, the St. Nicholas, and the New England societies ; treasurer and active worker in that excellent association for the purification of municipal affairs, the Civic Reform Association, — these, with his mines, his charities, his great business house, involving the calculation of effects of climate, seasons, and changing political conditions on goods purchased from distant lands, to be sold in lands as remote, his family, and the supervision of the new mansion, even these were but a portion of his titles to more than ordinary tenderness and exemption from annoyance.

Rodman Harvey issued from the porch of Dr. Miltimore’s church, accompanied by his wife, his younger son, Rodman, Jr., and his younger daughter, Calista, this last a tall girl aged ten, with dull blue eyes, a profusion of yellow hair hanging down her back, and a languid, complaining way of speaking. Rodman, Jr., a well-grown youth, still wore the gray uniform of the military school from which, it appeared, he had been, but a few days since, summarily dismissed, — a circumstance which by no means seemed to weigh heavily on his spirits at the present time.

Their landau, with the front let down, two tall men in drab on the box, the strong, large horses set off with silvermounted harness and saddle blankets in dark green embroidered with a monogram in red, was awaiting them, in the concourse of carriages in front. Alphonse called the attention of Joseph, who was gossiping across to the coachman of General Burlington, — there was no valid reason why the serving-men should disagree, though there might be a coolness between their masters, — and Joseph promptly drew up to the curbstone.

“ Let us walk, mamma ; I am so tired of riding,” pleaded Callista, in her complaining voice. Rodman, Jr., left them at once on some no doubt important business of his own.

Quite unexceptionable people were going by. “ Very well,” said Mrs. Harvey, putting up a little parasol above a plump face still retaining a middle-aged prettiness. “ Joseph, nous allons promener jusqu’à la nouvelle maison. Attendez nous là ! ”

“ Parfaitement, madame,” replied the Swiss Joseph. He drove decorously before them to the new house, and there took them up, and conveyed them to their stopping-place at the Bayswater Hotel.

The elder son, Selkirk, according to an account being given of him at about this very time by his brilliant elder sister, Miss Angelica Harvey, passed his Sunday mornings in moping over Herbert Spencer and such rubbish in his room, or in rearranging his books, or in calling on one Aureolin Slab, who set up to be an arbiter of taste in matters of art, to whom he brought late acquisitions of Banko and Kaga and old Kiyoto wares for discussion and advice.

The critical Angelica herself found Saint Barnabas’ better adapted to her spiritual needs than Dr. Miltimore’s. She had no great leaning towards historical society discourses, in fact, and the system here was more like what one was used to abroad, the stately religions of the people of title one knew. She thought of walking down the aisle at Saint Barnabas’ with a footman carrying prayer-books behind her, as they do in England, but had hesitated as yet to introduce this innovation. At Dr. Miltimore’s, however, there were no prayerbooks to carry. She was on her way up from Saint Barnabas’ now, attended by two young men, one on either hand, engaged in livelytalk. These were recognized, by the set which knew them, the one as Austin Sprowle, formerly an under secretary of legation at Paris, her affianced husband; the other—who had alighted from a dog-cart in which he was driving up the Avenue with a friend, on getting a little past, and come back and joined her — as Arthur Kingbolt, a fortunate person in the world, heir to that great manufacturing property, the Eureka Tool Works, of Kingboltsville, Connecticut.

Now that the fence was down, the new house of Rodman Harvey was seen to be a substantial edifice of brown stone, not differing greatly, except in size, from others in the neighborhood. It might have been fifty feet on the Avenue, and two hundred, with all its appurtenances, on the side street. It was of three liberal stories in height, covered by a mansard roof, which was topped by a gilded railing. The classic pediments over the first row of windows were of a curved form, those of the second triangular, and of the third straight. A stone balustrade inclosed the low “ area ” in front of the basement windows, which were protected by iron gratings with gilded spear-heads.

A flight of broad steps, curving hospitably outwards, led up to a porch with a couple of Corinthian columns, a pair of heavily embossed doors, and a little paved vestibule within these, which was closed by lighter doors, with amber-colored stained glass in their panels. The long stretch on the side-street was broken first by a bay-window reaching past the several stories. Then an expanse of blank wall, relieved by panels, and a glimpse of opaque sky-light above it indicated a picture-gallery. Following this, a brick wall, considerably higher than a man’s head, extended back to where two tall posts, topped with stone balls, formed an entrance gateway to the low brick stables.

Promenaders, who had so long been filled with disquietude by the blasting, forced into close proximity to beds of slacking lime, and made to walk the plank over dubious chasms, welcomed the disappearance of the last obstacles with genuine relief. The absence of the fence, so long blazoned with advertisements in the most florid style of ornamentation known to the art, was a novelty that could not escape attention. A flying nymph had symbolized the virtues of Kalophlogullmos, the unfailing complexion renovator; the Comet velocipede, the Schwartzbrod piano, the Pocahontas tobacco, and the winter route to Florida had all had their panels, and the Evening Meteor, which it is well known has a larger circulation than all of its contemporaries together, had been seen welcomed into the bosoms of delighted families.

The Prudential Land and Loan Company had announced its attractive system of combining the savings of many small depositors into investments for the extraordinary advantage of all. For prospectuses describing the plan in detail, application was to be had to the management, Fletcher, Sisson & Co., at the Magoon Building, in lower Broadway.

Whatever other matters then filled up the discourse of the crowd elsewhere, at this point — as the same light cloud always appears to hover at the mountain top, though the particles of which it is actually composed are flying past at the rate of sixty miles an hour — it was unfailingly Rodman Harvey and his affairs. He was a person hardly ever spoken of by the press except as “ one of our leading merchant princes.” Those who knew little of him now learned more ; and those who knew much were glad to rehearse their stock of information. So that one could have obtained a very tolerable idea of the history and leading traits of this merchant prince only by lingering a little, and taking heed, in front of the mansion he had reared.

Aureolin Slab and the young architect, G. Lloyd, regretted that wealth should ever consist with such lack of taste ; that the residence of so prominent a person should he neither Elizabethan, Queen Anne, Francis I., nor Eclectic Gothic, but a great nondescript monument to a wasted opportunity.

“ He was of mere farmer origin, of course,” remarked the severely aristocratic and Roman-nosed dowager, Mrs. Sprowle, to her stalwart kinsman, Sprowle-Onderdonk, who was walking with her a little distance, on his way to a late breakfast at the Empire Club; “ but I must say he has conducted himself in a very praiseworthy manner. His first wife, I believe, was rpiite of his own sort,— a wise Puritan virgin, who knitted stockings, sang psalms, and quoted the maxims of Cobbett and Poor Richard to him. But the present Mrs. Harvey is one of the Muffetts, and all that could be desired, from the point of view of family. Her first husband — for she was a widow — was thrown from his carriage and killed, early in their marriage. He left her very little, and her own family, who had the habit of spending all they could get, could not extend much aid. She inherited the Muffett place, however, which Harvey has lately built up into blocks of houses, and lived in it when she met him. I dare say she was having a very stupid time. I remember that it was thought quite a piece of presumption, his aspiring so high, particularly as he was not as rich then as now, and nobody had ever heard of him socially. However, as I have said, he has certainly used his money in a gentlemanly way. I have no adverse criticism to make either upon him or his daughter. Your cousin Austin seems very happy in his choice of her for a wife, and, as you know, I have never at any time withheld my approval.”

Dr. Wyburd — diner-out, dabbler in literary and scientific matters in addition to the exercise of the medical profession, depositary of universal information, a tall man verging to portliness, with a shining, ruddy complexion — dwelt on the beginnings of his fortune. " He made most of it during and after the War of the Rebellion,” he said. “ Previous to that he catered eagerly for the Southern trade. His credits were widely extended over the South at the breaking out of hostilities, and his losses must have been very heavy. He was one of those who showed at the time no great antipathy to slavery, but accepted things as he found them. The consequence was that the Southern dealers continued, and even increased, their trade with him, when they withdrew it from others of more radical opinions. This was all very well for a time, but when the separation came, and debts were repudiated, it was quite another story. He was lucky, I fancy, to pull through that business at all.”

The dashing Cutter and the steady-going Whittemore, of the merchant’s own clerks, went by, among others. Cutter had apparently been so much pleased with the boarding-house in Harvey’s Terrace that he also had lately taken up his abode there.

“ The old man is as obstinate a person, and as set in his way, when he once starts in, as ever was,” said Whittemore. “ They tell of a bank, some years ago, at Bridgefield, which refused him some small accommodation. He went to work and bought up its bills, and presented the whole issue for redemption at once. The officers apologized humbly, and begged him not to wind them up, but he paid no attention to them. It was the end of that concern.”

“ What I like,” said Cutter, “ is to get him on the subject of the economies he used to practice when he was young. He lets us have it, you know, as a reward of merit, occasionally, when he comes around in his snooping way, and finds everything going straight. Probably that was all right, you know, for those times ; but this thing of walking to save your car-fare, never taking a drink, or a shine, or a day off, does not figure up the same way under the present system. Trade is too large. Look at the size of our place ! — a hundred and twenty employees, sales of ten and fifteen millions a year. It would take a good many car-fares to compete with that, eh ? The retail business is even worse, if anything. The big concerns eat up the little ones. It is no time for small fry nowadays.”

“ Of course a man would expect to go into the country, somewhere,” said Whittemore, “ to begin.”

“ No country for me ! none of that in mine ! I stay here. Where will you find anything of this sort, for instance, in your rural districts ? ”

Whittemore looked about with a pleasure perhaps almost equal to his companion’s in the bright and animated scene of which they formed a part.

Two slow divisions passed, one up, one down, on each sidewalk, almost touching shoulder to shoulder. The individuals composing them gazed into one another’s faces, at these close quarters, nonchalantly, amiably, haughtily, impertinently, admiringly, distrustfully, according to the character of each. There were modish young women and young men without end; old beaux, gray, experienced, and distinguished-looking.; stately matrons, with an air of solid elegance; children in plushes, velvets, and laces, like young princes of Vandyke. A sweet-faced girl, of a kind of pathetic interest, walked with a rosewood and silver crutch. Some, in deep mourning, seemed to hold in their crapes airs from the laurel and cypress dells of the cemeteries. At one point a tramp, his torn clothing held by a girdle of rope, crossed from a side-street, like some wild beast out of its jungle, and gave the whole concourse a momentary check, as those nearest shrank back on the others.

Almost the first parasols were out. There were some of pure crimson ; others in concentric rings of black, gold, and scarlet, like the patterns of archery targets. Bluish shadows streamed from the figures along the pavements. The sunshine, filtered through a thin haze, arising from the burning of stubble in the country round about, had a mysterious quality, like the smile of the Mona Lisa. The first leafage showed on the willows and maples in the public squares. The generative feeling of the time was in the air. Housewives planned to buy on the morrow new pots of geraniums, and sods of grass for the little city dooryards, tramped out in the winter by the feet of the serving-maids.

“ No. The thing to do,” continued Cutter, " if it were possible, would be to die and collect one’s own life insurance. But since that cannot be done, what is wanted is a safe speculation. There are plenty of good ones, if one could only find them. I was down the other day to see a party, St. Hill, at the Prudential Land and Loan Company, who would give me a position, with good pay and a chance to take a hand in the deals they are constantly making, without any risk worth mentioning, if I only had a small sum of money, to put up as a guarantee. It would be regarded by them merely as a deposit for the proper performance of the duties. If I had it I should certainly have taken the place ; but there’s the rub. When Miss Speller and I are married ” —

“ When what ? ”

“ Oh ! by the way, had I not told you ? Yes, it is all fixed. The engagement will be but a short one. Then, as I was saying, there will be two of us to take care of. I am particularly interested, you see, in looking out for something better than before. I shall not stick to dry goods any longer than I can help, I can tell you. Look at McKinley ! He has drawn exactly the same salary for the last fifteen years, and he will go on drawing just that and no more if he lives to the age of Methuselah.”

It was rather odd, Whittemore mused, that Cutter, who had always insisted on his worldly wisdom in the matter of settling himself in life, should be going to marry Miss Speller. But she was pretty ; they had been getting on capitally together, — he had seen that, —and no doubt, like prudent men before him, he had yielded to fascinations which he had not properly estimated.

V.

A MAN OF FASHION DRIVES OUT A FRIEND.

Young Kingbolt, of Kingboltsville, had the fancy this morning to take a turn up the road in his dog-cart. He had invited to a seat beside him his friend, intimate, and protégé, though a man much older than himself,— St. Hill, the leading manager of the Prudential Land and Loan Company.

A large, high-stepping, gray horse, with a quantity of silver chains rattling about his harness, drew along the boxlike vehicle, with a slight rocking motion on its single axle. The master of this conveyance, half standing against its thickly cushioned seat, with one hand forward on the reins, and the other near the breast of his well-fitting frock coat, with a bunch of violets at the lapel, was as fine a picture of supercilious young patriciandom as one would wish to see. He was of a type of feature, not uncommon in the well-looking American race, in which almost any change must be for the worse, and which therefore does not always grow old so agreeably as others of less perfection. His expression denoted petulance and self-will. There was something terrierlike (of the best breed, be it understood) in the trimness of his cut, — his small ears, his close-cropped hair brushed to a polish, his slight, dark mustache, his teeth, which glistened when he smiled.

While he was probably twenty-six, his companion must have been towards forty, and was a much stouter man, blonde, with a glass in one eye, and a round, red face, above which he wore a hat of the smallest size permitted by the prevailing mode.

The contribution of these two to the discussion of the merchant prince was of quite an unusual character.

“ I am thinking of giving him a twist with some papers that were sent up to me the other day,” said St. Hill.

“ Giving him a twist ? ”

“ Yes. Well, if a man won’t pay you what he owes you in one way, I suppose you have a right to make him, if you can, in another. I have a lot of his letters, which he would not be at all anxious to have see daylight, especially about these times, when he begins to have political aspirations. I think I shall have to crowd Rodman Harvey for about twelve thousand dollars.”

“ He ought to be good for anything against him in the regular way. If you have a claim, why do you not put it into the hands of a lawyer ? ”

“ Oh, this is an old matter, and barred out long since by the statute of limitations. He owed my father for cotton at the outbreak of the war. When we applied to him for payment, after it was over, he refused in the most abusive terms. He said he had lost enough by our side— meaning the South — already, and we might see how we liked it ourselves. At the same time, as I happen to know, he was remorselessly following up all who owed him there, and had anything left to bless themselves with.”

“ But you could have made him pay you then, you know ; the five years’ limitation was not out.”

“ It was pretty nearly out. Both my father and myself had had the misfortune to be rather actively engaged in what you call here the rebel service, and thought it advisable to go for a time to Europe, and to Egypt, as you know, and did not quite understand what our rights were. When we did understand that we could sue in your courts it was too late. I wrote to him from London, asking for payment on grounds of justice, and it was then that he sent the response I have told you of. I did not have these letters then, nor have I had them at any time since till within a couple of days, or I should have given him a turn before.”

“ And these letters, what are they ? ”

“Well, they show him up, great philanthropist as he is on that subject now, as an actual slave-owner, for one thing. He used to take slaves on chattel mortgage for goods, and buy them outright also, and hire them out to work on the plantations. We had some of his niggers on a place of our own, up the Ashley River. And there are plenty more things. You see, he and my father used to be very thick at one time, and carried on an intimate correspondence, business and otherwise. The letters turned up only the other day, at an auction sale, for the third or fourth time, of the Ashley place. It was racketed to pieces, by troops of both sides, during the war, and has been in the hands of the Jews ever since. The papers were picked out of a barrel, with some other traps, by an old overseer of mine, who sent them up here to me to see if they might be of any interest.”

“ Now, see here ! I’ve been a friend of yours, have n’t I?” said young Kingbolt, when the scheme of forcing Rodman Harvey to restitution had been explicitly laid before him. “I don't say anything about what I did for you in Europe ; but you were rather down on your luck, and I got you over here, and put you through at the Empire Club, and gave you a send-off in some good houses, — old Mrs. Sprowle, who is a great snob, was cracking you up only the other day on the score of family ; and now you have got a big financial scheme, in which you think there is a fortune, and some of my money in it to boot, have n’t you ? Well, now what I say about this bluff game is, Let it alone ! Drop it! See?” Perhaps the superior age of the protégé added zest to the domineering air assumed by his younger patron. “ You don’t want to stir up anything of that kind,” he continued. “ Your rôle is to go on and get as many persons as possible favorable to your new enterprise. You asked me, when you first came here, what kind of a reception you were likely to meet with, on account of having been connected with the other side during the war. I told you that New York was too big and too bustling a place to devote much time to antiquated bygones. I said it might make you a bit of a curiosity and be a point in your favor, and so it has. But now, if you go to raking up those dead and buried issues that people had rather forget, if you go to attacking one of the few men who has not forgotten, but for some reason or other of his own keeps up a peculiar grudge about it, it will not be to your advantage with the community. And as to getting money out of Rodman Harvey, you may dismiss that idea at once. It can’t be done. You would come out second best. Besides, I don’t see that it would be right.”

This was an unusual display of morality and consideration in one who was not noted for squeamishness, and was rather known for readiness in putting things at cross-purposes, if only for the sake of the sport. St. Hill cogitated whether there were not some hidden motive inclining his friend in Rodman Harvey’s favor.

At this time Rodman Harvey’s beautiful daughter went by, with the young Sprowle to whom she was engaged. Kingbolt acknowledged her bow from the sidewalk with much effusiveness, and glanced back at her furtively.

“It is too good a thing to give up. It is too much money to forego,” St. Hill persisted in arguing.

“ You ’ll have to choose between that and me, then,” said Kingbolt sharply. “ See here! I think I ’ll get down. You can take the trap up by yourself. I believe I won’t ride to-day.”

St. Hill saw him go back and join Angelica Harvey. A sudden theory flashed into his mind as a solution of his previous meditations. He put together the recollection of extreme eulogies he had heard from Kingbolt on the beauty and style of this prominent social ornament, and other attentions he had paid her, engaged as she was, and securely fixed in her choice by her own wishes, the plans of two prominent families, and the respect due to the usages of society.

“Oho ! is that it ? ” he said to himself. “ He is a little gone on the young woman, and so takes the family under his protection. It is like one of his whims. Well, we must wait a little for the weather-cock to blow around. It can’t sit long in that quarter. There is altogether too slim a prospect even for him.”

It is not too much to say that Mr. St. Hill was very considerably disappointed. He had not even arrived at the subject of a small loan he had intended to propose, on the basis of the profits to be derived from Harvey. And further than this, a positive interdict had been laid on the promising scheme itself, which he could not disregard without the loss of a connection from which he expected many substantial favors in the future, as he had received them in the past. But he had occasion to know something of his friend’s vacillations of purpose. He was encouraged to believe that in a brief period Kingbolt would have forgotten Harvey and his daughter, even to the bare fact of their existence, and that he could then again proceed with his design, for the present postponed.

There was not a group on the Avenue that drew more admiring attention than the trio of Miss Angelica Harvey and her two cavaliers, proceeding towards the Bayswater Hotel. Not that the one on the right, her accepted suitor, was a model of perfection in looks. He had, indeed, something of the ungainly aspect pictured by Mrs. Clef in her lively descriptions. On the other hand, there was hardly any mistaking his fashion, his membership in a select circle. He affected a quiet elegance. All his costume, to his black gaiters, was black. He wore a weed on his hat, carried his elbows at an artificial angle, and balanced a small stick between a thumb and finger. “ Commonness ” was understood to be the chief avoidance of Austin Sprowle in life. When under secretary of legation at Paris, retained there through a number of changes by family influence, he was said to have spoken of the ministers who came and went above him as “ common.”

But the one on the left was a very handsome young man. And then the young woman herself! She had fine, large, dark eyes, which she rolled about vivaciously as she talked. She had a small dimple in her cheek, and a smile which, in showing her fine teeth to the most complete advantage, caused little wrinkles to appear momentarily around her quite enchanting nose.

Her costume was of some drab or pale yellowish cloth, which fitted her like her skin. Well defined triangles of daylight appeared between her slim arms and the contours of her shapely waist. As she moved her skirts flew off from the hips, first this way and then that, in the undulations of a walk which was broken into syllables, as it were. At the breast was a nosegay of yellow flowers. Kingbolt always noticed in her some subtle touch of distinction from the crowd. Yellow flowers, now ? It was a small thing, but nobody else wore yellow flowers. And be assured that when, partly through her example, they should have become the mode, she would be as far in advance again with some new bit of tasteful ingenuity.

It was to these two, Kingbolt and Angelica, that the interested glances were principally directed. So perfect in every artificial appointment, so elastic of tread, so comely and blooming in looks, so airily free from every shade of self-distrust, a young Diana and her brother, Phœbus Apollo, of the upper society, they radiated around them to those below a kind of awful splendor.

“ I got down on your account,” said Kingbolt. “ I saw you walking. I was going for a turn up the road after my breakfast.”

“ How very good of you ! I have not seen you for a long time. What news have you for me ? ”

“ I am bringing over an English tilbury. I like to have something a little different now and then, you know,” he said, twisting a finger nonchalantly into the front of his collar, to relieve some slight pressure there. “ It has a rumble, you know, for one’s man, and the horses are harnessed with a silver bar across their backs, and are put in this way,” indicating by a gesture with his hands.

“ You must take me out in it.”

“ I think I ’ll get a tilbury, too,” said Sprowle, in an imitative way, not to be wholly relegated to the position of a listener merely because he was less fluent in talk. As to the tilbury, he might have intended to get it, and might not, at least till after his marriage. The standing of the Sprowles, fortunately, did not depend upon their lavish expenditure of money.

Being of those who had not often taken part in the procession, the group set themselves to making satirical comments on it, as if at some display of the manners and customs of aborigines.

“ I am told that many of these persons who make such a fine appearance are mere clerks,” said Kingbolt. " Indeed, I have seen some of them in the shops myself.”

“ I never go to shops,” said Angelica.

“ I send my maid. As much as possible I order things directly from the manufacturers, gotten up to special designs for myself. Then you get things that all the world cannot tiresomely imitate. There ought to be some special dress for the lower classes, — for all that kind of people,” she recommended. “ Simple caps and aprons for the women, and blouses for the men, so that mistakes could not be made.”

“ Yes, there ought to be a law, you know,” said Sprowle.

Mr. Cutter, for instance, who, with Whittemore, was hardily scanning the fair proposer of the measure herself with an air of connoisseurship, from the steps of the Windsor Hotel, at this moment, would have made a very pretty resistance to being put in a blouse, as a mark of his social station.

“ I suppose you will be going out a great deal again, now that Lent is over,” suggested Kingbolt, turning to a new topic.

“ Yes, I suppose so. I am so lately back from abroad that I do not find the novelty exhausted, you see. Besides, one is so uncomfortable in a hotel, what else can one do ? It will be such a blessed relief when our new house is done. I went to two or three places almost every night during the winter, and was hardly ever in bed before two in the morning. I wonder, sometimes, how I stand it.”

“ You are made of i-on,” said Sprowle, admiringly.

“ I have done my share of all that, too,” said Kingbolt. " I used to lead the German, you know, a good deal, while you were abroad. I recollect at one time going to ten young people’s dinners, followed by ten large balls, in succession. New York did not content me in those times, either. I used to go into the country. I made it a point to know every society belle from here to St. Louis. I thought nothing of running out to Cleveland for a wedding, or to Cincinnati for private theatricals. You would hear about me yet, I dare say, almost anywhere out there. But I am not going in for that sort of thing now. I shall just give a theatre party or so pretty soon, and perhaps a dance, at Delmonico’s, or the club house up at Jerome Park, and then clear out.”

“ Where shall you go ?”

“Up to my place at Kingboltsville.” He would have liked to hear her protest against this ; but she only said, —

“ What do you do there ? It must be very stupid.”

“ Oh, I have my horses, you know. I speed them on a track I have had made. Then I get some of the men up from here. We are close to Bridgefield, you know, which is quite a big city. We shall probably be taken in soon as a suburb. We have a club there, of which I am president. Then they have made me president of a railroad. They make me president of almost anything, there, you know, if I like. I have a lot of trustees, who expect me to be around and be nagged at a part of the time. And then there is building going on.”

“ I recollect that when I first met you, at Pau, we learned of your traveling with your architect, to get up plans for some industrial museum, or library, or something of that kind, for the improvement of your tenantry. I suppose that is finished by this time.”

“ Oh, all that rot! No, I abandoned it long ago. You can’t do much for people of that kind, you know ; they don’t appreciate it. Besides, I could not stand the person, this Lloyd, that I took along with me. He was an old acquaintance of mine, and I thought I could depend on him to follow my directions and do as I said. Why, you would have thought that he was the one who was going to do the building, and had hired me! I had to turn him adrift. No, it is my sisters, — they are two widows, a good deal older than I am, — who are tinkering with a church and a new wing to the house. They make me subscribe to the church, though I started it originally, and let it go again; that was another of my ideas ; and the house has more wings now than it knows what to do with. They went over a while ago to the Maximoff sale, at Florence, if you remember, and brought back a lot of vases and things to put into the house and the church.”

“ I used to go to school with one of the little Maximoff princesses, at Geneva,” said Angelica, by way of reminiscence. “ She had some trouble with her spine, I believe. She took a liking to me. They were enormously wealthy. They had one of their residences there, and when they sent their great menservants,—I was about twelve then, — I was often taken out for an airing with her in the carriage.”

They were continually passing, while engaged in such discourse, people they knew. The two young men were never done doffing their hats and putting them on again. The old beau, Robert Rink, who was sometimes spoken of as “ the gray deceiver,” Judge Chippendale, Watervliet the wit, and Dr. Wyburd looked for the bow of the young beauty with interest. Baron Au, of the Pomeranian legation, and Bulbul Effendi, the Turkish secretary, whom the women tolerated as a hideous little piece of live bricabrac, chuckled over it audibly. De Longbow Rowley, failing to receive it, though she knew him perfectly well, — it was a trick she had, occasionally, to keep them on their mettle, — said to Whitehead Finch,—

I don’t admit that she is such a howling belle.”

When site passed Ada Trull, whose blonde hair, smoothed over her forehead and cut to an even line, resembled a cap of gold, these two exchanged many nods, and smiled brightly in recognition of things in common between them. But with Alice Burlington, between whose father and her own there was a feud, only glances of far-off, pensive criticism were exchanged.

“ She has the knack of making herself the most distinguished figure of every company,” said Kingbolt, walking away after leaving her at the Bayswater Hotel. “ She would do a man credit.”

Had he been a marrying man, he thought, in season, he could have found no one who would do so more completely. She was haughty; he did not mind that. They would have been haughty together. “ Why did I not see her before ? ” he said. “ Or rather, why were not my eyes opened ? I had the same chance to know her at Pau as Sprowle.”

It was not possible, after all his experiences of life, after the atmosphere of gentle sighs, the swath of damaged affections, which he had left behind him in his career around the world, that he could have come to the absurd pass of being inconvenienced in mind by one who was irremediably beyond his reach.

“ What in the world, at any rate,” he cried, “ could she have seen in that muff of a Sprowle, to take up with him ? ” Then he scoffed at himself for the unprofitable speculation, and went down to join a group of his friends of the Empire Club, ruminating in the large windows with their sticks under their chins.

William Henry Bishop.