A Woman's Luncheon

MRS. CHESTER REX, hostess, assisted by her daughter ISABEL, a girl of twenty-eight. The guests (invited to meet MISS WALTON, just re- turned from a long residence abroad) are : — MRS. LORING, a woman of seventy.

MRS. TERESA BRINTON MUNN, an ardent believer in and worker for thy cause of the New Womanhood.

MRS. CLEVELAND COXE, very fashionable. ETHEL, her daughter, in her third season. MRS. OGDEN-SMITH, very rich.

Miss OGDEN-SMITH, an heiress, very plain, but a social success. MRS. JOHN REX, a young matron.

1. Grape Fruit.

Mrs. Rex. Isabel tells me that my choice of flowers is tame and old-fashioned ; that the flower of the New Woman is the orchid.

Miss Walton. An orchid never seems to me a flower at all, — a sort of cross between a flower and a butterfly.

Mrs. Loring. In my day women used to be compared to roses.

Miss Synnott. But we modern women are orchids. I like that. Next to a mushroom, an orchid has a look of mystery, of being perhaps deadly and poisonous. Yes, we are orchids. But all the same. Mrs. Rex, I prefer your Dresden china effect.

Mrs. Rex. You will observe that I have given all of you who are not married the carnations, which, as they say in Italy, are for good luck. We matrons have the violets.

Mrs. Van Cott. Which are typical of our giving out most perfume when most crushed.

Miss Walton. You seem to make no distinction between us spinsters, dear Mrs. Rex, whether we are eighteen or a hundred.

Miss Rex. Here is Jack’s wife, just twenty, and she has a bunch of violets. Age makes no difference. Either a woman is married or she is not married.

MRS. VAN COTT, a novelist.

MISS CRAVEN, a Fellow of Victoria College and a Ph. D.

Miss SYNNOTT, a piquant-looking girl, a clever writer.

MABEL SYNNOTT, her sister, a débutante, and the beauty of the season.

The table is round ; the decorations are car- nations and violets. Each married woman has a bunch of violets, and each unmarried woman a bunch of carnations.

Admiring comments are buzzed round the table as the guests take their places.

The moment she has crossed the Rubicon, she has crossed the Rubicon.

Mrs. Van Cott. Some man said of matrimony that it was a state into which all who were outside longed to enter, while all who were inside longed to be out. Somehow we women never make those little jokes about our condition.

Mrs. Teresa Brinton Munn. They would mean too much.

Miss Rex. Now, Teresa, do you intend to suggest that we girls are all longing to be married ? I protest.

Mrs. John Rex. Do you mean that we married women are all longing to be maids ? I protest.

Miss Walton. We women mix up our personal emotions with our theories of life, and cannot speak with the ease and finesse of men on certain subjects. For example, a bachelor of my age might declare, in joke or earnest, that he had an inextinguishable desire for matrimony, but not so a woman.

Teresa. Simply because woman’s whole habit of thought and expression has so long been regulated by a very complicated and insincere formula, according to what appeared proper and correct. Now that we are finding a freer outlet for our personal opinions, feelings, cravings —

Miss Synnott. We shall all, no doubt, be declaring that we might, could, would, and should be married at once.

Mrs. Coxe. But really, Teresa, don’t you think there is some fundamental spiritual difference between the sexes ? I fancy girls are still girls, and will go on being girls in spite of all the new creeds about woman’s place in the world.

Mrs. John Rex. I hope so. I adore girls. My only objection to marrying Jack was that I could not be both a girl and a married woman. And I observe nowadays, with some humility, a certain condescension in the manner of girls. "Of course, you poor thing, you can’t do it! “ they seem to say. I am so grateful, dear Mrs. Rex, when you set us all down at one table at once, and make no difference between girls and matrons.

Mrs. Loring. So am I. I have an undying curiosity about you young people, — what you say, what you do. I know that I lag superfluous in a world which has outgrown me, that perhaps I am a bore to the generation which is presently to wear my diamonds and lace and spend my money ; but I still feel that it is an unkind fashion to build up any wall between the young and the old.

Mrs. Coxe. I confess I never quite approve of too much being done in the way of rosebud luncheons and dinners for débutantes. Yet it is the fashion to set aside all other claims for them.

Mrs. Rex. Not in this house. What a girl’s coming-out means is simply that she is admitted on equal terms to the society of her betters.

Mabel Synnott. I feel it, I realize it.

Mrs. Rex. I do not consider society, so to speak, society at all unless it includes women of every age. I delight in girls, I love my contemporaries, but I particularly adore old women.

Mrs. Loring. Oh, thank you, thank you.

I’m quite unique here, and you may all say nice things of me. We have all been young, but you have not yet been old.

2. Bouillon.

Miss Walton. I assure you, I feel a veritable Rip Van Winkle, returning to a world of novelty and surprise which has outgrown me.

Teresa. You must know, Miss Walton, I never go out to mere luncheons, and I came to-day to find out what impressions you have gathered in your return to America.

Miss Walton. Do not ask me for any clear impressions yet. Everything so far is surmise, conjecture, bewildered observation. For example, when you say you never go out to a “ mere ” luncheon, I am not sure what you mean.

Teresa. I mean that I never go out for amusement. I enjoy society, but it dissipates an incalculable amount of valuable time. I have to divide up my days very carefully, in order to get through the duties I have appointed to myself and the work that others lay out for me to do. I go to my desk punctually at a quarter past eight o’clock each morning, glance through my correspondence, next for two hours dictate letters and papers to my secretary, which she takes down in shorthand, and afterwards type-writes. By eleven or twelve I see the people who are waiting to consult me ; then I am ready for the actual work of the day.

Mrs. Ogden-Smith. When she has already accomplished more in one morning than I find time to do in a month!

Miss Walton. Pray go on, Mrs, Munn, and tell me how yon occupy yourself until bedtime.

Teresa. I attend committee meetings; I am president of a woman’s club ; and there are often meetings where I preside, — at least sit on the platform.

Ethel Coxe. She often addresses meetings herself.

Teresa. There are so many important questions to be agitated.

Miss Walton. Female suffrage ?

Teresa. Of course, first and foremost everything which concerns the full enfranchisement of woman ; but besides, the questions of water filtration, street-cleaning, school boards, nominations for mayor and city council.

Miss Walton. Although I hardly venture to offer a compliment, a cat may look even at a king, and say, “ How wonderfully in earnest, not to say energetic, your majesty has grown since I saw you last!”

Teresa. You must, I am sure, see with one glance that American women have gained in seriousness, in high purpose, since you went abroad.

Miss Walton. In old days, it seems to me, ennui used to be rather the fashionable complaint. To be bored by things in general was considered rather the correct tone.

Miss Synnott. Nowadays, instead of being bored, we bore.

Miss Walton. When I went abroad to live, everybody envied me for being able to get away from America. Since I have come back, everybody pities me for having lived in Europe so long that I am, so to speak, dépaysée, out of touch with America.

Miss Synnott. Oh, we love to go to Europe still ; only formerly we used to go for ideas, stimulus, occupation ; now we go for intellectual rest.

Mrs. Rex. That is right, Miss Synnott, brush up our wits a little with your sarcasm. But actually, Miss Walton, we have grown patriotic.

Miss Synnott. Yes, formerly we used to be a little ashamed of America, like the woman who explained she was so high-toned that when she went to visit her relations she was obliged to sit down and weep because they had no manners.

3. Lobster en Coquilles, Sauce Tartare.

Mrs. Coxe. Since we rummaged up our genealogies to find out whether we could be Colonial Dames, and brought out our silver candlesticks and our grandmothers’ brocades, we have plucked up a spirit, and stand by our country, its history, and our pedigrees.

Miss Walton. Yes, I have perceived that notable change. You have discovered America.

Teresa. The American woman has discovered herself; she is finding her relations to her surroundings, to the events of past, present, and future. She no longer ignores the great events of the world. She is interested in public affairs, in good administration of government, in purity of politics. Our young girls, instead of being taken up with balls and germans, are absorbed in cleansing and uplifting the world.

Mrs. Coxe. Here is my little Ethel, who belongs to nine clubs and is on eleven committees.

Ethel. Isabel far surpasses me, Miss Walton, and she has the delightful talent not only of doing more all day and doing it better than any other woman, but of going to balls at night and beating all the society girls at their own game.

Teresa (with admiration). The New Woman is not one-sided. She is a complete microcosm.

Mrs. Rex. The dear girls do pick up and assimilate all the new ideas with the most astonishing ease.

Mrs. Ogden-Smith. They read everything; they understand everything. Nothing daunts them, — they undertake everything.

Miss Synnott. Oh, don’t we ! Somebody said of a scientific man that he would create a new continent, to carry out a theory, as easily as a cook made a pancake.

Teresa. Women are raising the general average of truth, cleanliness, and purity day by day.

Mrs. Rex. We used to be taught the beauty of self-abnegation : that it was the duty of a woman to put up with everything uncomplainingly ; that to be a woman was to learn how sublime a thing it was to suffer and be strong.

Teresa. The first lesson the New Woman had to learn was how to complain. She does not bear a grievance silently : she writes letters about it to the papers ; she sets all the members of her club talking about it; she calls a meeting : they discuss it, they pass resolutions, they petition, — they leave the men no peace. No, what the modern woman insists on, dear Mrs. Rex, is how sublime a thing it is to make things go right. She does not attempt to serve two masters, to acknowledge a higher and a lower law of action.

Mrs. Rex. We older women feel our banks ; not she. She overflows, carries everything along with her. She approaches life so differently from the way we were taught to do ; ideas which startle us she can handle with a real scientific knowledge of the subject.

Mrs. Van Cott. Still I do feel like saying, “ Be clever, be clever, by all means be clever ; but, my dear New Woman, be not too clever! Leave yourself just a few illusions.”

Miss Walton. I would n’t flatter the New Womanhood too much. It may become puffed up with incense. Don’t you remember Voltaire’s story of the grand vizier who was afflicted with such inordinate vanity that his master, the king of Babylon, ordered him to be set upon a throne, and a grand chorus to stand before him and sing,—

“ Ah, combien monseigneur
Doit être content, de lui-même ! ”

And when the chorus got out of breath, the lords and chamberlains took up the refrain,—

“ Ah, combien monseigneur
Doit être content de même ! ”

The New Woman ought to beg everybody to wait until she has accomplished some of the miracles predicted of her.

Teresa. But she has, dear Miss Walton. I assure you she has accomplished wonders.

Mrs. Loring. But what I claim, Teresa, is that we have always been accomplishing wonders ever since the beginning of the world. I will confess that when people first began to talk about the New Woman, her profound learning, her degrees, her professions, her public speeches, I was inspired with some awe of her superior wisdom, her higher education, her fine-spun sense of duty. I said to myself that my day and the day of such as I was past and gone ; that I must give way to fitter survivors. Then, just as I was about to retire from society, the fashion of sleeves like barrels and skirts like umbrellas came in, and I perceived that women had not changed to any alarming extent; that no matter how many clubs they belonged to, or how many hard questions they could answer at a pinch, radically they were just the same, identical, sweet, silly, charming, clever creatures I had known and loved for seventy years.

4. Hors d’œuvres.

Miss Synnott. Frances Power Cobbe says she believes in her sex until she sees a fashion-plate.

Miss Rex. Nevertheless, I insist that if we were the dowdies we used to be we could n’t venture to do half we do. The sleeves and the furbelows and the stiff skirts are our wings and tail feathers, so to speak ; they enable us to fly gracefully.

I sometimes wonder if Redfern did not chiefly contrive the modern woman. For it is he who gives us chic, just the natty, jaunty, half-defiant air which makes us piquant to ourselves. I am ready to confess that when I look in the glass at my hat, jacket, and skirt, I receive a high moral support and feel my energies revive. Even Teresa, the strong-minded Teresa, gets her things from Redfern.

Teresa. Of course one would prefer never to think of clothes at all.

Miss Walton. It does seem as if woman could not change to any surprising degree until the question of her good looks is eliminated.

Miss Craven (with peculiar energy). Eliminate the question of good looks, and the solution of every feminine problem becomes easy at once.

Mrs. Coxe. I think, Miss Craven, if the question of good looks were eliminated, the feminine problem would be difficult indeed.

Mrs. Rex. Increasingly difficult.

Mrs. Loring. Impossible.

5. Sweetbreads ; Green Peas.

Mrs. Van Cott. The necessity of preserving her good looks has always been a large part of the bondage of woman. I fancy that the new movement might gain dignity and consistency, if all who belonged to it were to adopt a sort of uniform.

Miss Craven. I agree with you.

Miss Synnott. Bifurcated skirts?

Mrs. Van Cott. Notnecessarily. Look at trained nurses, look at sisterhoods, at the Salvation Army. Their dress is not only the badge of their calling, but it gives clear meaning to the ideas they profess, and sanctity to the work they undertake.

Mabel. And it is very becoming. Ethel. Oh, Mabel, don’t let yourself be carried away by any such ideas. The men laugh at us now, but they admire us ; they would laugh at us, and not admire us, if we tried to set ourselves apart. And I find that when I go to the Settlement and the Guild, when I visit the sick, everybody, boys and girls, old men and old women, admire me the more for being pretty and fashionable. They delight in the swish and flare of my skirts and the balloon-like circumference of my sleeves.

Teresa. A woman should use all her talents. Did you see Henrietta Coan Brown yesterday ?

Ethel. See her? I blushed for her. Miss Rex (explaining to Miss Walton). Poor Henrietta never had in all her life the leisure and repose of mind to dress herself properly. Her hooks never quite catch, and, being always in a hurry, she goes straight through her sleeves.

Mrs. Van Cott. She is so earnest she is carried beyond those futile strivings ; she has no feeble self-consciousness ; does not, I am certain, ever wake up in the middle of the night, as I do, in a cold perspiration, at the thought that she has possibly made herself absurd.

Miss Synnott. I wonder if Miss Caroline Weeks does.

Mrs. Rex. Oh, did you see her at the Friday Club ?

Mrs. Van Cott. No, but I can imagine her, — all black satin, and a regular lace exhibition hung over it.

Miss Synnott. There was a great deal of lace in Miss Weeks’s family, Miss Walton, and she inherited it.

Mrs. Coxe. Also, no doubt, the unique bracelet.

Miss Rex. And the arms. You must understand, Miss Walton, that, like Madame de Staël, Miss Weeks possesses one beauty: her arms are always en évidence.

Miss Synnott. Even at midday there is a hint of them. Her sleeves fall off at the elbow. She wears long gloves.

Ethel. And the bracelet, quite a gorgeous thing, set with— What is it set with ? Can they be diamonds ?

Mrs. Ogden-Smith. They may be her family diamonds. I should call them moonstones.

Ethel. At any rate, the bracelet with those priceless gems is always clasped midway between her wrist and elbow, and she plays with it.

Miss Ogden-Smith. In a pretty, girlish way, as if she were sixteen years old.

Teresa. Caroline Weeks has her absurdities, but she is always effective, and helps to give any cause she undertakes the cachet of elegance. I find her useful as a sort of link between the fashionable woman of old family and the New Womanhood.

Mabel. The living link.

6. Croquettes.

Teresa. A little individuality in dress may add charm to private life, but, actually, the tailor-made gown is an important factor in social evolution. Hitherto, the Western woman has been impeded in everything she undertook by her clothes, just as a Chinese woman is crippled by her feet. She could not go out if it were wet, if it were dusty, if it were hot, if it were cold, because her dress never suited the weather. Then her whole life was absorbed in making the useless, ill-fitting things, or having them tried on; in winter she was preparing for spring, in spring for summer, and so round the circle. Nowadays, she is born, as it were, ready-made ; she steps forth, like Minerva, armed and equipped for battle. Her housekeeping is no longer a makeshift, but a science. She can put on her bonnet when she dresses for breakfast, set forth at nine o’clock, lunch at her club, and stay out till dinner-time.

Mrs. Van Cott. Why not until bedtime, and then let herself in decently and quietly with a latch-key ?

Teresa. Of course she can do so, if she wishes ; she is no longer hampered by foolish terrors and conventions.

Mrs. Loring. But my chief grievance against your superior modern woman is that she is always out. Thank Heaven, I have two friends who are chronic invalids, or I should never have a chance to go and tell anybody my news.

Mrs. Coxe. The other day, as I was passing, I thought I might as well drop a card at Mrs. James Wise’s door; and when the man said she was at home, and ushered me into the room where she was sitting with her feet on the fender, reading a novel, I was quite taken aback. I really thought there must have been a death in the family.

Mrs. Van Cott. Was it Lady Ashburton who said she wished her husband had two wives, and then she would let the second wife stay at home and work, while she went out and enjoyed herself, and came back and amused the second by telling her all about it ? One needs that sort of thing.

Miss Walton. I wish I were rich, I wish I could take a house : then you could all find me sitting before the fire, with my feet on the fender, ready to see my friends.

Miss Synnott. Nobody would come. I have tried it. It is of no use fighting against the stream of tendency. The modern woman has no inclination to sit down with you in front of the fire, with her feet on the fender; she has no time to do anything except to go out. In a week you would do just as the rest of us do.

Mrs. Rex. You see, Miss Walton, there are so many charities, lectures, club meetings, classes, afternoons, that, as Teresa says, we cannot afford time or strength to be merely friendly and sociable.

Mrs. John Rex. Jack says the girls are so wrapped up in their fads of all sorts, it is driving all the best fellows into athletics.

Ethel. Oh, we do not venture to think of vying with football as an attraction.

Mabel. We are not so presumptuous.

Teresa. Let the men console themselves with football. We used to be the football ourselves.

Mrs. Van Cott. Men have always some sham solution of the feminine problem. They have been explaining all their faults by our follies since the beginning of the world.

Mrs. Loring. But young men do find girls nowadays too dreadfully serious. Only last night I was telling a nice fellow he ought to marry, and he said he was looking for a, wife who was n’t “ viewy.”

Miss Rex. Find me a girl who is n’t “ viewy,” and you will find a girl who is not worth a man’s loving. The best of us are impetuous idealists.

Miss Synnott. All bent on reforming something; and no doubt the reason young men run away from us is that they are afraid of being reformed themselves.

Mrs. Coxe. I confess I have some sympathy for the men. I myself love to go and sit down for an hour with some dear woman who is as comfortable as an old shoe ; who has no fad, no hobby, no quarrel with the universe ; who simply accepts the every-day facts of existence and makes the most of them.

Mrs. Loring. In my day the men had n’t so many clubs, and they ran after girls instead of running away from them. They loved to dance, they fell in love irresistibly; unless I had at least three offers the day after a ball, I was sure some other girl had outshone me.

Mabel. Oh, dear Mrs. Loring, I want to say it — but I don’t dare —

Mrs. Loring. I give you absolution. Go on.

Mabel. What a dreadful flirt you must have been !

Mrs. Loring. I hope I was, my dear. When I was of your age, a girl had to be something of a coquette in self-defense.

Mrs. Rex. You see we expected to fall in love and marry ; we did not put ourselves in antagonism to love and marriage. We were taught not to intrude too much of our individuality upon society. If a girl looked pretty and held her tongue, she did enough.

Mrs. Coxe. We were not pulled this way and that by contrary ideas ; we did not stop to think whether our life offered us the best chance of development.

Mrs. Loring. We did not aspire to development. We simply wanted a happy life all of a piece.

Miss Craven. Did you find it?

Mrs. Loring. More than you bright critical girls ever will.

Miss Synnott. It is lucky that humanitarianism or social science offers an alternative to taking the veil.

7. Pâtés.

Teresa. Miss Synnott will have her little joke. The fact is that social evolution has finally reached woman, drawn her into the arena, and put her into rivalry with man. She says to him, not, “ Admire me, make love to me, marry and support me,” but, “You have more than your fair share of rights. Give me mine! ”

Miss Rex. I hate to have it said even in joke that our fads are taken up as an alternative to matrimony, or in rivalry with men. What I feel is that women are at last awakening to the injustice of a scheme of things whereby only the happiness of a few is secured, and the others take their chances. The sentiment of humanity condemned slavery, and that was gotten rid of at any cost; and now the sentiment of humanity is condemning poverty, and more and more we are so heartbroken by the thought of the wrong and evil which poverty brings along with it that the question of individual comfort, of individual happiness, seems something to be postponed until poverty is cured.

Miss Craven. This sensitiveness to the pain of humanity, indeed to the pain of every sentient being, is increasing; still, there are people going hungry in this very city, while here are we, who ate breakfast a few hours ago, now enjoying a most delicious luncheon ; we shall go on to two, three, or four places between now and six o’clock, where we shall be offered ices, muffins, sandwiches, tea, and chocolate ; then we shall dine, and not a few of us may probably take an elaborate supper at midnight.

Miss Rex. That is what I say, that poverty is to he gotten rid of at any cost.

Mrs. Ogden-Smith (plaintively, as if personally addressed). I give to everything. I am willing to do anything the right sort of person advises. There is no day I do not fill out a check or two. As for Mr. Ogden-Smith, he is munificent.

Miss Synnott. There are drawbacks to being Dives even in this world.

Miss Ogden-Smith. And everybody is so sure that Dives has no chance in the next, it seems to them no particular in justice if his torments begin before their appointed time.

Miss Walton. When Dickens wrote Bleak House, Mrs. Jellyby was considered an amusing caricature, just the type of woman to be avoided. It seems rather odd that she is at last being brought to the front as the typical modern woman.

Teresa. I cannot admit it. We neglect no home duties.

Mrs. Coxe. I’m sure I do. I neglect everything.

Mrs. Ogden-Smith. And so do I.

Miss Walton. Mrs. Jellyby was in advance of her day. Nowadays civilization has caught up with women’s expanding energies.

Mrs. Ogden-Smith. Everything, as Mrs. Munn says, can be bought readymade, and there are kindergartens.

Teresa. I cannot admit that Mrs. Jellyby —

Miss Synnott. Oh yes, Dickens possessed

“the prophetic soul
Of the wide world dreaming on things to come,”

and actually invented the modern woman.

8. Petites Timbales.

Teresa(with energy). The real enemies to woman’s advance are to be found in her own sex. Of course I know that a cause which cannot stand being laughed at is too feeble to live; but believe me, my dear Miss Walton, in spite of wit, satire, paradox, a great natural force is working through the New Womanhood, and if any of us refuse to acknowledge it, it is because mankind has always refused to acknowledge the miracle which takes place before its eyes.

Mrs. Rex. It startles me sometimes when I find that my own private tastes and prepossessions seem more important than the future welfare of the whole sex.

Miss Synnott. I too have to confess that my antagonism to woman’s emancipation is largely a matter of whim and caprice. If I long to ride a bicycle, the moment I see a certain pet aversion of mine astride one I feel it to be a violation of every feminine instinct.

Ethel. Now I love to dare and do ; I like to float on the rising wave.

Miss Synnott. But the rising wave is so frothy with sham idealism ; you have to be associated with women who simply love agitation, noise, self-display ; who like to jump over barriers for the notoriety of the thing ; who want something new, something hitherto untried, be it another husband, or a new religion, hypnotism. spiritualism, Buddhism.

Teresa. You must love and pity and take in the aspirations of all women, good or bad, wise or foolish. You must realize that they are all your sisters ; that the whole sex is developing from the chaotic conditions in which it has existed until now; that the fact of your dislikings has nothing to do with an evolution which is working itself out irresistibly.

Miss Synnott. I feel helpless when people talk about evolution, but I do not believe that the general scheme of things provides for any development out of normal conditions. And does not the old deep-seated centripetal instinct of woman for a merging of her life in that of her husband and children rest on a really more scientific basis of natural and spiritual law than the centrifugal force which you describe as carrying her off into wildly erratic orbits ?

Teresa. There is a centrifugal law just as there is a centripetal.

Miss Craven. Woman has hitherto accepted a fable man has imposed upon her; she has been under the witchery of the ideal the poets have held up ; she has been flattered, and has conceded everything for the sake of harmonizing with pretty fictions, has sold her birthright for the sake of being petted and beloved.

Mrs. John Rex. Is n’t that better than throwing away a pearl richer than all our tribe ? After you have evolved and developed all that is sweet and womanly out of existence, what remains ? If we are n’t just women, what are we ?

I confess I object quite decidedly to being developed, if it is to separate me from Jack.

9. Sorbet à la Romaine.

Miss Rex. Is not that delightful ? Is not that the irrepressible feminine instinct ? It reminds me of the new engagement.

Teresa. Cora Bellamy’s ? You know I never gossip, but I had wondered that no one had alluded to it.

Mrs. Ogden-Smith. Cora Bellamy engaged ? To whom ?

Mrs. Coxe. Well, after that, nobody need despair.

Mrs. Rex. Of course to some man in Washington !

Miss Synnott. Let us trust, some faroff attaché, Russian, Turkish, Japanese.

Mrs. Van Cott. They have tried New York, they have tried Philadelphia, Bar Harbor, Newport, and Lenox, without result; they have taken three trips to Europe, and one to the East. When Mrs. Bellamy told me they were to winter in Washington —

Ethel. I wondered at their being back so early. I saw Cora in the street yesterday.

Mabel. So did I, looking positively ancient in that sage-green thing, every line straight up and down, and not a particle of flare.

Miss Ogden-Smith. I spoke to her, and she seemed a little out of spirits.

Mrs. John Rex (as if with a sensation of relief). Perhaps she is not engaged, after all.

Teresa. I assure you, I could n’t have invented it if I had tried. Cora is engaged, and not to a stranger, but to somebody in town, whom you all know.

Mabel. Surely not to Frank Bellamy ?

Ethel. Frank Bellamy ! Oh, impossible !

Miss Rex (laughing). Quite impossible. We know where Frank Bellamy was last night at one o’clock, do we not, mamma ?

Miss Ogden-Smith. Oh, tell us, tell us!

Miss Rex. It would n’t be fair.

Mabel. Everything is fair in love or war. We want to know where Frank was last night at one o’clock. Young men need to be looked after.

Mrs. Rex. I assure you, we looked after Frank up and down, and right and left. Not that he was our first object. You see I was chaperoning a very (charming girl, and she vanished. You know what a huge house Mrs. Clark’s is ; well, this charming girl vanished, flatly vanished out of sight.

Mabel. I see, and Frank Bellamy also.

Mrs. Rex. I did not think at first of that coincidence. I suspected old oak chests, some place of solitary confinement, not solitude à deux. I said to Mrs. Clark, “ I cannot think where Ethel is !”

Ethel. Oh, oh !

Mabel and Miss Ogden-Smith. Ah, ah, ah !

Mrs. Rex (correcting herself). Yes,

I said to Mrs. Clark, “ I cannot think where one of my charges is. I have looked everywhere for her.” Mrs. Clark smiled, and returned, “ Do you happen to see Frank Bellamy anywhere ? ” “ No,”

I answered, startled. “ Then,”she explained, “ you might happen to look in the window nook on the staircase.”

Miss Rex. Accordingly we looked, and I agree with Ethel that it is quite impossible that Frank is engaged to his cousin Cora.

Ethel. We were only talking about —

Mrs. Loring. My dear, you began by saying it was impossible.

Teresa. Quite impossible. Guess again.

Miss Rex. Is it Dupont-Smith ?

Mrs. Ogden-Smith. I will vouch for its not being Dupont.

Mrs. Coxe. He may have been in the hunt, but it was a case where the tiger hunted the man, not the man the tiger.

Miss Synnott. How droll to call Cora a tiger ! But what is the use of exhausting ourselves in conjectures ! Whoever it is, Mrs. Munn, we will accept him like the dew from heaven after the long agony of drought and longing.

Teresa. John Tucker Green.

Miss Rex. John Tucker Green ? I never heard of him.

Mabel. Oh yes, you saw him constantly at Bar Harbor. His mother calls him “ Collie ; ” I don’t know why.

Miss Rex (pointedly to Miss Synnott). Oh, your faithful shepherd dog.

Miss Synnott. Yes, my collie, or Cora’s, which is not exactly the same thing. “ ’T was mine, ’t is hers, and has been slave to thousands ! ”

Miss Rex. Indeed, no ; he was yours, you trained him, you made him. I remember the first time I ever saw him, all legs and arms ; bright, no doubt, but — Miss Synnott. I do hate to see a bright man whose bad manners are in his way. Besides, it was very dull last summer at Bar Harbor.

Miss Rex. For other people, who had only to look on, — not for you, surely ; for him it seemed exciting in the extreme.

Miss Synnott. But you see he has transferred his affections.

Miss Rex. Let us hope so.

Ethel. I wonder how she managed it.

Miss Synnott. I? How I managed it ?

Ethel. Oh, we know very well how you manage such things. I meant, how Cora induced him to fall in love with her.

Miss Synnott. Who ever said he was in love with Cora ?

Miss Ogden-Smith. Yes, I noticed she seemed not in high spirits.

Mabel. It must be a painful check to high spirits to be engaged to Collie Green.

10. Suprême de Volaille.

Miss Rex. But nobody has asked about the new engagement I alluded to.

Miss Synnott. What ? Another ? How can I endure these successive blows ?

Mabel. Perhaps this is Frank Bellamy’s —

Miss Rex. Not quite yet. I shall give no names; I shall leave them to your imagination to fill up. This is the story. There is a club, no matter where ; it is not one of the clubs which get into the papers. It exists solely for the satisfaction of twenty girls who try to carry zeal and truth into whatever they undertake, be it visiting the slums or reading one of Ibsen’s plays. They discuss everything that comes in their way, and particularly they discuss the novels, of which there seem to be so many nowadays, that touch on delicate and essential questions of life and of art. Now, the other night the subject came up of a certain book which you have all read.

Miss Synnott. Name, name !

Miss Rex. Well, say it was Heavenly Twins. At least it was a book which set several of the more serious girls to talking about the grim tragical mistake girls might make in marrying ; they spoke of men’s ideas, their freedom, their license, their insisting, “ One law for me, and another for you,” and so on ; and one of them became just a little bitter against the dominant sex. Well, all at once, one very pretty girl, who had been listening, with eyes growing bigger and bigger, and cheeks redder and redder, and lips wider and wider apart, jumped up, and said, “ I don’t know what other girls’ experience may have been, but I have a dear father and three brothers whom I love and respect with all my heart, and I cannot stay any longer to listen to such horrible insinuations against men.” And she walked straight out of the room and out of the house, although her carriage was not ordered until an hour later, and the streets were deep in slush.

11. Asperges en Branche ; Caille et Salade ; Fagots de Fromage.

Mrs. Loring. Oh, what a dear girl!

Miss Synnott. What happened afterwards ? An engagement, you say ?

Miss Rex. Before dinner-time next day, two men had offered themselves, and she had accepted one.

Miss Synnott. Was it a coincidence ? Or had anybody told ?

Miss Rex. Who could have told ? Yet I heard of a third man’s saying he was just about to propose to her, if the others had not been ahead of him.

Miss Synnott. Of course I know whom you mean.

Mrs. Loring. I wish I did. I would go to her and say, My dear, I love you.

I like a girl to be loyal. I don’t think loyalty can be safely left out of a woman’s heart, soul, and intellect. It is not only a good old-fashioned motive of thought and action, but it has a thousand times more to do with a girl’s real happiness and usefulness than any clear-eyed analysis and speculation. After living for seventy odd years, I should say that a woman was better off for loving and believing blindly, even if she were disappointed, than in beginning with a spirit of skepticism and doubt, and an entire absence of illusion.

Teresa. I cannot agree with you. I cannot agree with you at all, Mrs. Loring!

Mrs. Loring. Man is a creature who can love only what belongs to him, what looks up to him, what he can guard.

Ethel. Woman ought to be a creature who can love only what belongs to her, what she can look up to, what will protect and cherish her.

Mrs. Loring. I see, my dear, you know all about it. The world will go on the next thousand years the way it has gone on the last thousand years, in spite of a few little earthquakes and avalanches.

Mrs. Rex. Every generation has a new language of its own, I suppose, and the writers make use of it. But the new books do startle one.

Mrs. Coxe. I have not read any of them. My mother used to decide what I might be permitted to read, and now my daughters choose my books for me.

12. Fraises Glaces.

Ethel. We do rather insist that mamma shall stick to Miss Austen and Cranford, as a rule. After all, one likes to know that one’s axis is turning round safely.

Mrs. Loring. I rather like these girls, Miss Walton, in spite of the books they read and the ideas they profess.

Miss Walton. I admire them; they are absolutely sublime to my perceptions. After they have turned the world upside down a little more, I should like to come back and see what sort of a place they have made it.

Mrs. Loring. Heaven defend me from seeing ! Of course, society — that is, society in any real sense of the term — will be out of the question. Indeed, it is already.

Miss Walton. There are too many people, you mean.

Mrs. Loring. What people call society to-day has become a mere matter of coaching - parties, of dressing, of sitting at tables, — a fashion of offering attractive novelties. Real society, man’s best invention —

Miss Walton. Was it not a woman’s invention ?

Mrs. Loring. Oh no; women may pile the fagots, but men bring the fire. Man is the social animal. Don’t you know most women like to carry about little bits of tatting, or crochet, or embroidery, as a defense against sheer idleness ? But take half a dozen men, and they are contented to sit idle for hours, with only their brains active, as the talk leaps from topic to topic, and each opens a chapter in his memory, and brings out some striking experience, some characteristic anecdote.

Miss Ogden-Smith. But, dear Mrs. Loring, none of us ever sew, or crochet, or do tatting, and I cannot even embroider.

Mrs. Loring. All the worse for you, my dear. Life will be just so much the more dull for you.

Teresa. You would n’t surely have these highly educated girls —

Mrs. Loring. I am an old woman, and must have my say ; and I tell you that when you all come into the fullest intelligence, you will find that the three really interesting things of life are, that human beings are born, marry, and die ; that we grow up in families, have friends, lovers, husbands, children ; that the real fillip of existence, the stimulating charm, the ever renewed cordial, come from these simple elementary facts ; that they occasion the talk, the wit, the fun, the absurdities, the follies, the heartaches, which make life worth having. Oh, you unlucky people who have to live bustling and rushing on into the dreary twentieth century ! I see you all now surreptitiously looking at your watches. You each have to go somewhere else,

Teresa. Yes, indeed, much as one regrets to break up this pleasant reunion. I am obliged to be at the Club exactly at a quarter past three.

Mrs. Rex. Coffee shall be served at once. Isabel, too, has something on hand.

Miss Rex. Only a private concert, where I have to play a very unimportant part.

Ethel. I wish we could go, but the historical tableaux have to be rehearsed, and mamma and I are in for it until dinner-time.

Mrs. Ogden-Smith. I have five teas before me, — to meet certain people, so that a card will not do.

Mrs. Van Cott. None of you speak of the lecture at Mrs. Kelsey’s ; but, alas, I have promised to be there.

Miss Craven. It is I who am to lecture, alas.

Miss Synnott. Ah, unhappy ones ! I am simply going home to read a novel, quietly, until dinner-time; are n’t you, Mabel ?

Mabel. No, dear — I — promised — to go to walk.

Coffee is brought. Each takes a cup in great haste, and the guests make their adieux.