BUDS, in Nellie Grogan’s world, come out like morning-glories. It is upon the morning when first she stands behind the counter — in the department of kitchen things, let us say, down under a shop — that Nellie enters society. Her industrial début implies her social début. That is why, all the evening before, she is an excited arrangement in curl-papers, flushed cheeks, and dancing eyes. Society! Independence ! An end of school-days and the maternal suzerainty! Already there looms aureoled in romance the figure of a “ steady.” Fancy, peering still further into the enchanted future, reveals the Sunday Star one day printing Miss Helen Grogan’s picture among portraits of “ The North Cove’s Society Belles.” A week ago Sadie Fogarty achieved that distinction, and, as Nellie put it, she “ ain’t such a much.”

Observed superficially, the North Cove might seem rather less than a stronghold of society. It has too many tall chimneys, too many gas-tanks, too many tenements like the one where the particular Nellie I select as typical shares a room with her widowed mother. It were a shabby enough folly, though, to contest the Cove’s pretensions. “ Society,” in itself a graceful vocable, adds but one more humbug to the lexicon of inflated terminology that lends consolation to “ sales-ladies,” “ manicure-ladies,” and “ chorus-ladies; ” turns bell-boys into “hotel bellmen,” and hod-carriers into “ plasterers’ assistants; ” and makes an “ engineer ” of the furnace-man down cellar. Peculiar, however, are certain ladies and gentlemen in society. Said a North Cove girl to the deaconess at the mission, “ How do, Miss Harvey ? Been havin’ the time o’ me life. Been up in the jail, callin’ on a gentleman friend o’ mine. He was put in for stabbin’ a lady.” At the Thalia, when an uproar had interrupted East Lynne, a voice explained, “ It’s all over now; there was two ladies fightin’.” At the Settlement, the ethical adviser may dauntlessly accuse a man of lying, stealing, or monstrous intemperance, but must never exclaim, “ You’re no gentleman! ” Society avenges that formula by awarding a “ slam in the slats.” And if, by its insistence upon distinguished appellations, society seems to be lifting itself by its bootstraps, pray note the beneficent results. “ Society,” “ lady,” “ gentleman,” express and stimulate a craving for gentility. Without those agreeable fictions, the North Cove would be notably more wretched, and intruders would still more commonly come off with cracked heads.

Now, between beginning to be in society and beginning to be of it, there yawns an interval. Six days divide Nellie from that sceptre of her sovereignty over her destiny, the Saturday night pay-envelope. Yet the interval hums with sociability, there in the basement, “ An’ Terry, he says to me, he says ” — you know the vein. Indeed, one might marvel that it lacks for our bud the tang of freedom. It does, though, and when comes at last the little envelope, there surges through Nellie’s blood a wild exultancy. There’s only one thing for it — a ball!

You are not to interpolate an invitation. The beauty of being in and of society is that one lives above invitations. Neither are you to demand a delicately enthusiastic paragraph about Nellie’s ball-dress. Save for a new pink ribbon, set jauntily in her hair, she goes clad as for her Sunday afternoon parading of the Cove’s “ Peacock Row.” You may, however, insert a shudder. For we purpose to send Nellie to Spread Eagle Hall — as why, forsooth, should we not? Often she has heard of it, in glowing reports by other girls; a jolly place it must be — a bit adventurous, perhaps, but suiting her mood. She sets forth alone, and takes her way beneath the elevated railroad to the corner where a sign in a doorway proclaims, “ Social To-night — Gents 25 cents, Ladies 15.” Head high, she ignores the “ kidding ” idlers who dangle about the entrance; she buys her ticket; she trips down a dirty hall-way, the clamor of Doolan’s Orchestra banging in her ears, and a hundred apprehensions hammering in her heart. She is of society now — her own mistress, and duly scared.

Consider it. Upon the walls of the dance-hall she sees posters announcing students’ nights, masquerades, a French ball, a pas seul by Little Egypt — frauds, every one, though they augur no good. She sees a roisterous multitude, whose faces tell tales. Pasty faces there are, suggesting the creatures one finds under stones; yes, and here and there a painted face. Worse, the girl sees faces pure, for Spread Eagle Hall is not only a haven of sinners, it is also a school and forcing-bed of crime, Ruskin, who wrote of “ girls dancing because of their misery,” might have written with equal fidelity of girls miserable because of their dancing. But what especially alarms Nellie is the manner of the dancing. Instead of “ dancing society,” as the phrase goes, yonder merry-makers permit themselves to “ spiel,” and for spieling there exists no adequate condemnation. Nevertheless, one may try a blow at it, possibly, by intimating that, were it ninefold more bacchanalian and executed for hire and before an audience of three thousand people, aristocrats would clap their hands. The costuming, of course, would require revision. Street clothes violate the canons of taste and decorum established by musical comedy and sanctioned by the applause that drowns disgust in a semblance of glee.

Having brought Nellie hither, for sake of probability, it behooves us for sake of chivalry to snatch her away, which should scarce be difficult. Look! A churlish, slouching fellow has seized her about the waist and swung her out into the dance. “ Fresh! ” she snaps. The youth lets her go; in society, “ Fresh! ” declares a suspension of civilities. It announces “ trouble.” Perplexed, not guessing why a lass should resent his advances, he blurts sulkily, “ Y’ ain’t sore, are you? ” But Nellie has no mind for parleying. She flees, almost prepared to “ beat it for home and mother.” She has identified Spread Eagle Hall with that highway to perdition which forty blood-and-thunder melodramas have taught her to abhor.

At this point, since the background teems with his kind, and his advent is never untimely, let us bring on the “ steady.” A heaver of packing-boxes in the basement where Nellie works, Mr. Hefty MeCafferty (as we assume) has already adored from afar. Happening by as the girl emerges from the social and stands beneath the ” el,” her eyes moist and her cheeks blazing, Hefty notes Nellie’s all too evident infelicity, and addresses her with the compassionate though perchance over-conventional query, “ Stung ? ”

If Nellie replies, and undoubtedly she will, we have a clear case of “ pick-up.” Spare the term, though. As well address a saleslady as “ Cash,” or ask a Celtic lad “ how he likes the country.” If this sounds odd, remember that on oceanliners there develops an all-around good fellowship only partly come at by way of introductions; also, that in certain highly genteel circles, “ the house is the introduction.”

So Nellie responds cordially to Mr. MeCafferty’s overtures, and berates Spread Eagle Hall in language at once tart and vivid. Hefty finds her disenchanted — pessimistic, even — if not inclined toward arraigning society with harshness unseemly in one so young. “ Say, yous ain’t wise, Nell! ” he urges, pointing out that Spread Eagle Hall is by no means representative of that mainly harmless institution, the promiscuous dance. For his part, I fear, he leans a trifle too genially toward optimism. Nevertheless, he fortifies his contentions by adding, “ Mebbe we could butt in at the Captain’s.” A kind, obliging steady, then — to Nellie, and, for that matter, to us. We pause, however, to elucidate.

Among society swains, “ wise ” is a snug, Anglo-Saxon equivalent for “sophisticated.” A “ wise guy,” in truth, is our Hefty. In yonder throng of spielers, he will distinguish with rare criminological nicety between “ guns ” and “ dips,” between “ students ” and “ boiler-makers.” He knows the proprietor’s court record — can tell how often that worthy has been “ on the carpet,” and when, and by how long a sojourn each time, he has “ squared it ” on “ the island.” He knows the umbrageous methods by which the fellow gets his license renewed in return for umbrageous votes. Moreover, he is “ hep ” — or, for sake of elegance, should I not say “ jerry ” ? — to much lore fetched down from the Parnassus of pugilism. Versed in good as well as evil, he knows Nellie, at a glance, and knows what joy awaits her at the Captain’s.

Would that you possessed a copy of the Captain’s prospectus! It begins in charming phrases: “ Captain Riordan’s Dancing School and Club was founded by the business men of our city in order that there might be one place where they could take their wives and lady friends in safety and cultivate the polite art of ball-room dancing.” Bravo, Captain! Well may you boast the quality of your clientèle, among whom, as you proudly assert, “ there are three policemen! ” And well may you quote by way of superemphasis such rules as, “ No smoking, no intoxicating liquors, and no profane language permitted in the Club,” and “ No high kicking, separating, or splits allowed.”

Nor is Captain Riordan a mere ethical “ four-flusher.” A retired petty officer, he glories in discipline. “ First offense, reprimand; second offense, expulsion.” His personality extends to the very door. There he has posted a gimlet-eyed dame, who sights Hefty and demurs, though presently, seeing Nellie, she softens. “ Fifty cents each,” she concedes; “ but mind you, no bad language, no vulgar dancing! ” Fify cents—oh, saints preserve us, what a monstrous “ bunch of change ”! Nevertheless, all are plutocrats on a Saturday evening; preach socialism on Friday. As usage requires, Hefty suffers Nellie to finance her entrance; and it is with a little thrill of pride that the girl surrenders the coin. She worked for it, now it shall work for her. In return for the half-dollar she receives a claim for checking her hat. While admitting to a quasi-public dance, that bit of pasteboard dodges the look of commercialism ; for Riordan’s club and school exist, extending hospitality to refined outsiders for the better augmentation of profits, but reserving the right to borrow an epigram in favor at the mission, “Your worth is warrant for your welcome.” At grand houses one tips the servants. Here one pays for the keeping of hats.

Just within the doorway of the ballroom stands a shaven, priestly-seeming person, with hair well moistened before combing. This is Captain Riordan, who smilingly greets Hefty. “ Find you a partner, if you say, or you can ask any lady. We inculcate that in the school.” Then, turning encouragingly to Nellie, “ The ladies know they won’t ever meet a man here that is n’t a gentleman.” But Hefty, you may be sure, has eyes only for his protégée. He is about to slip an arm around her, when lo, a nimbler, fiercer lad cuts in ahead. As the pair go blithely two-stepping across the smooth hardmaple floor, Hefty has leisure to reflect upon a theme dear to Dr. Johnson, namely, the vanity of human washes. His thoughts, however, shape themselves in words somewhat more spirited than those vouchsafed to the author of Rasselas. “ Gee! ” he gasps, “ would n’t that sting you ? ”

Moping here in the doorway, he surveys the room, — its Nile green walls, its lugubrious Welsbach lights, its platform for the orchestra, its blazoned moral precepts. The dancers — men in business suits and thick-soled boots, girls in shirtwaists and skirts — he finds eminently genteel. They “ dance society ” with true elegance, admitting every variety of hold, from the dorsal and long-distance to the cervical and strangle, and clasping hands with that contempt of method which is the soul of art. About their glide there lurks something of the Puritanic. This, and Nellie’s defection, may reasonably induce in Hefty a mood like that owned up to by DeQuincey, who described the impression of melancholy afforded by a room full of dancers.

Suddenly the music stops. Each cavalier pilots his lady to her seat, keeping an arm attentively about her waist and prepared dutifully to maintain the posture till the band strikes up again. Thereupon Hefty charges through the crowd, breathing out threatenings and slaughter. Luckily, the disappearance of his rival precludes a “ mix-up,” but there is fire in his eye as he faces Nellie and blurts, “ Say, ain’t you the frosty article ? ” Her ruse has succeeded. The lad’s rage is a sort of proposal, the débutante’s blush a sort of acceptance. He her steady, she his lady-friend, the two have shipped aboard that pretty, rose-tinted galleon, a shortterm love-affair. Until further notice, the world may take cognizance that Hefty and Nellie are “ keeping company.” Let other suitors stand aloof! With Hefty she dances the rest of the evening, “ off ” Hefty she consumes raspberry ice-cream soda at the cut-price drug-store during the intermission, and it is Hefty who sees her home, receiving, in all innocence, a good-night kiss.

How easily we have played Providence, thus far! Now comes the rub. It devolves upon conjecture rather than upon knowledge to arrange that, next evening, Mr. Hefty McCafferty shall commit a call. Calls, being rare in the North Cove, elude scientific observation. I think Hefty should present his card, covering his embarrassment by apologizing for its being a printed instead of a written card — gentlemen, you know, should have their names done into canary-bird curlicues by a professional penman. But how cover the embarrassment of the ladies Grogan ? One rented chamber in a tenement suite makes a sorry enough drawing-room. Hence I suggest the amiable intervention of Mrs. Donnelly, who deduces affliction through the wall and hastens to proffer the use of her parlor. A moment later, the couple are seated upon Mrs. Donnelly’s installment-plan red-plush sofa, next the installment-plan graphophone. To pay them honor come seven small Donnellys, to say nothing of Mrs. Donnelly, Mrs. Grogan, and three neighbors from across the hall. If this be calling, let us make the least of it, though pausing a moment longer to be sure the graphophone is playing. Fancy hints even the tune — “The Bird on Nellie’s Hat; or, You Don’t Know Nellie Like I Do.”

Here we return to terra cognita. No man can doubt that Hefty has seen a great, light. He declares (and I quote him textually) that the park bench “ has calling skun a mile.” So next morning in the basement be and Nellie formulate a “ date,” the two to present themselves at seven that evening “ under the big clock.” What more romantic trysting-plaee ? In the jeweler’s window, behind the clock, you have seen the announcement of “ genuine imitation diamonds,” while from that establishment emanates the thrilling advertisement, “ Marry me, Gladys ” (or Rosie, or Susie, or Queenie

— a new name each day), “ and I’ll buy the ring at Carter’s.” Meeting there at the wished, the trysted hour, the pair proceed to a near-by park, where they choose a green bench beside the shore of the pretty toy lake. On other benches, all about, sit other mooning couples, each lad with an arm around his lass. Need I say that Hefty’s already encircles Nellie ?

Ever so gentle is his caress. In fact, it is scarce a caress at all. The arm slips lightly behind Nellie, and the hand hangs listless beyond her further shoulder. It has almost an air of the extraneous and academic, that posture. It seems to imply, “ I, Hefty, take thee, Nellie, to be a lady of charm and dignity, toward whom, in obedience to convention, I thus symbolize my respect. Being a gentleman, I am above omitting a ceremony whose neglect would affront thee.” Society, I sometimes think, went not wholly wrong when it contrived this singular custom. Hefty and his breed lack the skill to betoken regard by those delicate nuances of expression which lend sweet eloquence to eye and voice. Nor have their ladies the skill to interpret subtleties. Instead, they are half-way between the gentle-bred girl and the Matabele miss who, when clubbed mightily on the head, knows she is made love to. Society recognizes, however, that strangers, passing its affectionate benchers, feign horror. What of it ? Once, when Sadie Fogarty had lectured Nellie touching the inadvisability of being seen in Chinatown, Nellie rejoined, “ Take it from me, Sade, you won’t never get on in this world till you quits carin’ what strangers thinks! ” So here. Besides, the more complete the publicity, the more impersonal it becomes, till one finds seclusion in “ the tumultuous privacy of a crowd.”

What do they talk of on benches ? Of themselves, mostly. They unmask their “past lives.” Nellie’s, as is normal, divides itself into two periods, the pickled lime, and the chewing gum; the latter, by its noble persistency, bringing us down to the present day. “ The flavor lasts.” Simpler still is Hefty’s story. He is, was, and aspires evermore to remain, a devotee of pugilism. His fistic passion he confides to Nellie, telling how he “ put away ” Kid Briggs in an amateur bout before the Thoroughbred Club, and how he shone, as a luminary of the ninetythird degree, at John L. Sullivan’s benefit. For these disclosures concerning his rank in the “ sporting fraternity,” Hefty is destined to receive a “ jar.” To his amazement, Nellie intimates that he has crossed himself before unworthy shrines. For thus, not infrequently, do ladyfriends essay the amelioration of steadies. They will at times do a braver thing; as when some shuddering girl comes before the city editor and beseeches him to suppress a bit of news, owning tremulously and with downcast eyes, “ A friend o’ mine has stole sump’n’.” As for Nellie, she labors with her swain, evening after evening, till he gives over sparring, “cuts out the booze,” deserts the “ 21/2-cents-acue ” billiard-rooms, breaks with noxious comrades, and in inspired moments thinks of night-school, and yearns to resemble the self-made captains of industry whose biographies embellish the Sunday Star. Mayhap he will say of her in years to come, —

“ Showed me the way to promotion and pay;
More like a mother she were.”

Among benchers of the inner willowgrove there exists, I grant you, abundant silliness. Nevertheless, as you pass, you may witness without suspecting it the turning-point in a career — in a girl’s career, perhaps. When Nellie plays chaplain to Hefty, be sure the youth will reply, “ An’ you sellin’ mousetraps? Yous ain’t got no ambition, Nell, or you’d go to college ” — meaning, of course, Green and Wiggs’s Institute of Commercial Science. This hitching of wagons to stars — what comes of it ? In Nellie’s case, we shall see; but Hefty — such is the unsteadiness of steadies — must ere long swim out of our ken. After perhaps a twelvemonth of consecutive Nellie — Nellie on the green bench, Nellie on the merry-go-round,Nellie parading in “glad rags ” on a Sunday afternoon, Nellie breasting the surf at Idlewdld Beach, Nellie at the “ theaytre,” Nellie tripping it bravely at the Captain’s (and at dances less refined, I grieve to say, though always policed by Hefty) — the lad lends ear to the refrain, “ The world is full of girls the same as you-ou-ou.” There comes a broken tryst, and Nellie learns that her late adorer has transferred his allegiance to a professional beauty, Miss Kitty Hughes, who “ demonstrates ” in a shop-window.

Heinous — ineffably, inconceivably heinous — is Hefty’s secession, particularly in its method. Let me cite you an opinion by that master of social jurisprudence, Mr. Chuck Connors. “ It’s a dirty Irish trick,” says he, “ for a gorilla to get a bundle stuck on him an’ den go off an’ leave de bundle to go up in de air — see ? ” Nevertheless, society tempers the law for frail humanity, admitting that keeping company may eventually pall upon a gentleman; in which afflictive emergency it provides a balm for feminine pride by requiring that the final step toward rupture shall remain the prerogative of the lady. A gentleman, when a-weary, must act in an obnoxious and hostile manner, thus courting dismissal.

Here let us state the case fairly. Keeping company, as interpreted by the best sages, simulates an engagement without involving an engagement. In society, one takes short views of life; while Nellie gave Hefty her lips to kiss and her waist to clasp, she has kept her heart whole. They were chums, those two. Chums no more, each may seek a new comrade; only the smash should have been come at more decorously. “ He ain’t no gentleman! ” cries Nellie, as she rends to bits Mr. McCafferty’s literary remains — those clumsy brief notes written on ruled paper with an embossed design in the upper left-hand corner, and beginning, as is proper, “ Friend Nellie.” She reiterates the verdict as she pitches his gifts down the air-shaft — “ soov-neers ” from the benches, medals reminiscent of holidays, and simdry buttons and badges inscribed, “ Skidoo,” or “ I’m Afraid to Go Home in the Dark,” or “23 for you.”

This frenzy of vandalism redoubles her fury, and affords us our opportunity to awaken within her a resolve to have done with the whole race of Hefty McCaffertys, and to choose her next steady in a more distinguished social milieu. The thing is perfectly possible. It happens. Like many another girl, she will rise in the world. She will enter realms where no “ gorillas ” ever “ leave bundles to go up in de air ” — realms, forsooth where neither gorillas nor bundles exist. Did n’t we say, back yonder in the park, that Hefty’s disdain for the vending of mousetraps wrnuld bear fruit? Little thought he then that Nellie would flee mousetraps to avoid henceforth his brand of gentility.

So Nellie becomes a climber. Society applauds climbing, since it is not by diplomacy or pretense or display of opulence that one mounts from class to class in that infinitely complicated social organization we naïvely term “ the masses.” It is by giving a more and more dazzling answer to the question, “ Where do you work?” For work is selective, and quality determines jobs. To improve your social position, improve your industrial position. Brevets of rank are conferred by employers, who choose the most eligible from among many applicants. They are ratified by one’s new associates, who, if one shows deficiency of intelligence, dignity, comeliness, or delicacy, may apply the eliminatory treatment known as “ passing the ice-pitcher.”

Hefty, you perceive, was altogether right in prescribing “ college ” for Nellie; yet it costs, both in time and money. We may therefore suggest for her that most accessible of social elevators, the telephone school. No tuition fees there; indeed, the school gives each pupil four dollars a week for lunches and carfares. Nor are bills rendered for “sarcasm,” or “ the cold, bitter laugh of scorn,” when girls conspicuously better bred than “ the North Cove’s society belles ” resent Nellie’s hoydenish, graceless ways, her coarse, guttural voice, her sibilant enunciation her slang, her defiance of grammar, and her occasional indulgence in swear-words. Such hazing continues till a girl gentler than the rest draws the parvenue aside and “ tips her off.” “ Honest to goodness, dear,” says Nellie’s counselor, “ you won’t ever get on unless you put up an up-to-date front.”

Now the up-to-date front will involve a threefold revision of Miss Grogan, who must acquire the speech, the dress, and the manners of the class she would adorn. To speak softly and grammatically and in the main without slang — that is relatively easy; it means only doing what she has been taught to do in the public school. Waitresses do as much — except when off duty. Dress, too, yields readily to reform, which demands chiefly a striving after simplicity, with the dismissal of portrait-brooches, diamond-studded sidecombs, and the tendency to distribute one’s favors simultaneously and impartially among the colors, — in a word, it demands a deference to the distinction between the gay and the “ guy.”

Perhaps you have wondered why, with us as lovely patterns, society parades the caste-insignia that excite the mirth of aristocrats. You had only to glance at Nellie to deduce shop, while as for Hefty, he gloried in his “ roached ” hair, his tilted derby, his celluloid collar, and a pink ready-made four-in-hand tucked into his shirt-bosom. The fact is, society craves no admiration from aristocrats. It ignores their existence or deplores it. None too flattering, you will find, is the cat’s-eye view of the queen. Society reads of aristocratic divorces; it hears from a veracious butler how seventeen highly aristocratic young gentlemen tarried too patiently over their glasses and were ultimately subtabulated. Besides, society judges the “ high lifes ” more harshly than the “ high lifes ” judge society, since the Cove never tempers its arraignment with compassion. Queens may pity cats, but cats won’t pity queens.

Yet who can progress socially without in some sort stooping to conquer ? As Nellie approximates the “ bonn-tonn’s ” dress, so she sets about approximating its manners.

Already schooled in kindness and sincerity, she strives to master the amenities. Partly by imitation, partly by perusing a valuable treatise called “ Don’t,” and partly by heeding counsel imparted by the girl who “ tips her off,” she acquires a sort of business, or pidgin, decorum that wall later become second nature. Thus panoplied, she may invite us to furnish her a job. What better, for our purpose and hers, than the post of switch-board operator at that modest but very respectable hotel, the Topsfield ? There, let us assume, the manager is favorably impressed with Miss Grogan’s “ up-to-date front,” and promises her “ ten dollars per.”

Now, hotel lobbies, you have heard, bulge with temptations. Possibly; but so do street-corners and socials and beaches, and even, through the contacts they enforce, the basements of shops. But a new armament has of late been added for Nellie’s protection — pride. She was vain before — grotesquely vain. To-day the dominant passion springs from a sense of importance, of success, of still bigger success ahead.

Slowly and not without squirms of selfreproof, Nellie has come to look scornfully upon the North Cove. She would prefer Arlington Avenue, where the Topsfield’s telegraph operator has lodgings, and where one may proclaim one’s address with some elation. Little does she dream how soon she too will dwell there, or how grievous a calamity is to facilitate her transplantation. If we follow for the moment the individual Nellie, who is presently to lose her mother, we shall find a motherless Nellie more typical than before. In general, the Cove is as unmothered as unchaperoned, and were scarce less fortunate if orphaned.

Now an interval; an interval dictated by the biography of the individual Nellie who impersonates the type. A year passes, — to be exact, a year and four months, — after which Miss Helen Grogan, of Arlington Avenue, has begun to recover her blithe spirits. Will you venture to call ? Hers is the fine tall mansion between the one with the palmist’s sign and the one where they teach stagedancing. To the north and south lie endless solid blocks of mansions just like it, save as here and there a lower story has become a shop. Cast shells of the rich, they are now the abodes of “ trotmealers” and “folding-Bedouins.” Families have moved out. Detached individuals have moved in. Society, here, consists of single folks in chambers. To you — and likewise to the youths who dock to see Nellie — her landlady says bluntly, “ Miss Grogan? Fourth floor, rear. Sure! You can go right up.”

Well, two centuries ago, as you may read in The Spectator, ladies of fashion received admirers in their chambers — and ere the ladies had risen. Addison denounced the custom, and quite numerous are they who denounce with equal solemnity this infinitely less startling arrangement. To such I rejoin, Nellie and all Arlington Avenue will unite in protesting the innocency of a usage based upon compulsion. The boarding-house had a common parlor, but when the boarders slew the boarding-house, they slew the parlor along with it; the lodginghouse has none; it can’t have — and yield a profit. Exceptions ? Yes, but how rare they are! Again, neither Nellie nor her guests will demand a parlor. They respect the fourth-floor call, and enjoy its cozy informality; for a timorous race are they of the Avenue; most of them have come but lately from the country.

Threadbare stair-carpets, niches where once stood statuettes, doors half ajar, each door veiling a human life, or not quite veiling it — till you reach Nellie’s door and knock. She springs to let you in — a changed Nellie, changed and wondrously improved since her entrance into society. Though perhaps she lacks reserve, she has charm, sweet graciousness, and little piquant traces of culture, among them the broad A. The up-to-date front has struck in. She is prettier, too. Her face has outgrown the slight under-lying sullenness so common in “ society,” and has meanwhile gained that significant look of focus which North Cove beauty almost invariably lacks. Shelias acquired it through the discipline the switch-board forces upon attention. And Nellie can talk — so engagingly that you almost forget to scrutinize this room where the fourth-floor calls obtain. Glance about you. Yonder lugubrious sarcophagus — that’s the folding-bed. This music cabinet ? A wash-stand. The artlessly, though ever so artfully, arranged screen ? A nook for the bureau. Laughs Nellie, “ In my room everything is something else!” So is the room. At present it is a parlor. And if no chaperon presides, neither are there chaperons at the Topsfield, or in offices where the bachelor maids of Arlington Avenue pass whole days in masculine company.

But what, you ask, means the litter of papers that dropped from Nellie’s lap as she rose to let you in ? Stenography ! The same eager ambition that got its start when Hefty McCafferty derided mousetraps and the vending thereof, is still active. Why spend one’s life among the “ Have-you-got-’ems ? ” Though “ Central ” stands well socially, she merely stands. A stenographer may progress — become, by your leave, a law-clerk, a private secretary, or even a journalist, improving her social status as she improves her professional status. That is why Nellie fashions pot-hooks and chicken-tracks during otherwise idle intervals at the switch-board, attends a class at the People’s Institute, and trains her fingers in nimbleness at “ home.” I call her case typical; not universally representative by any means, but typical in the sense that here you have in full flower a spirit germinal throughout society — the spirit that depopulates the kitchen to crowd the mill, the spirit that puts brass buttons and a helmet on your erstwhile truckman, the spirit that drives men out of the Navy into less attractive but more eminent callings, the spirit that inspires a thousand applicants for the puniest crumbs of officialism at City Hall, the spirit that hails night school with joyous gratitude and enlists patrons for innumerable correspondence schools. Never a hint of advancement but society grows excited — that is, all save a sunken residue not worthy the name of society. What if aspiration ends but too commonly in disappointment? The aspiration is splendid.

Considering the elegance of Nellie’s present entourage, one may marvel that she yearns for yet better. When she dines at the Exclusive, the Bon-Ton, the Elite, or indeed at any of the Avenue’s magnificent twenty-one-meal-ticket cafés, she receives nods of merry recognition from the most fashionable of feminine wage-earners; while as for her masculine retinue, it constitutes a veritable salon. In Miss Grogan’s sky-parlor one may meet three highly polished “ sales-persons,” a student of watch-making, a book-keeper or so, a developer of photographs two telegraph operators, and a proof-reader who describes himself as “ on the Star.” Decorous youths are these. In their urban state they display the zeal of the convert. In manner and speech, and particularly in dress, they achieve a more than metropolitan virtuosity. The developer of photographs, having worn a black tie with his hired evening clothes at the Mutual Aid Society’s annual dinner, remained under a cloud for six weeks.

But are n’t there times when so much grandeur rests heavily on Nellie’s spirits, times when she wishes she was back in the North Cove? Perhaps, just as there are times when a lass newly endowed with long skirts and coiled tresses bewails her extinct occupation of climbing trees. Moreover, you will appreciate that in certain respects the Cove was superior to the Avenue. There, Nellie courted what acquaintanceship she chose; now she waits for introductions — a rather drastic limitation, when you come to think of it. There, a girl sought what fun she liked and paid her way; here she goes where she’s invited, mainly, and at a man’s expense— a fine arrangement, on its economic side, but a damper upon spontaneity, and, to many a girl, the cause of much tarrying at home. There, the steady prevailed, while he lasted ; here a whole battalion of suitors — some over-serious and in need of a squelching, others mere roving knights attaching themselves to girl after girl with a shockingly inconstant levity not tolerated in the Cove. They flirt, these errant beaux; some even make a virtue of flirtation. “ Flirting is beneficial,” writes one of them in the People’s Column. “ It gives a backward or bashful fellow confidence in himself and encourages him to study and read, that he may be interesting when talking to new friends.”

Nevertheless, the Cove’s gayeties savored too often of the penurious and cheapy-cheapy. One dangled about the edges of bliss, lacking the cash to plunge in. Not contentedly does society look on while the opulent afford rented bathingsuits, go moonlight-riding in canoes, or ascend hilariously in the Big Eli Wheel; and there lurks a certain ignominy about going to the “ theaytre ” on tickets laid hold of through politics. The Avenue, meanwhile, maintains a wild and splendid disregard of expense; it has the mood of him who cries, “ Come on in, the water’s fine! ” Says the developer of photographs, “ Scrimp all you like when you’re out alone, but when you take a lady, do it right! ” Not that all Nellie’s admirers live up to that lofty principle; the student of watch-making, I dread to own, retains a noble bucolic thrift. At home it was his wont to invite his inamorata to prayer-meetings, auctions, funerals, and fires. To him, consequently, Miss Grogan owes the exhilaration of attending a Prohibitionist rally, a policemen’s parade, the grand opening of the International Clothing Store, and a service in memory of deceased Elks. And of course he takes her walking.

You would love to go walking with Nellie. She prefers the fashionable thoroughfares. but a little coaxing will lure her into the parks, and there the fun begins. All around her she sees representatives of the life that once was hers, and that she now finds most mockable. Girls go by, with an air of “I’m here with the berries,” — the phrase is Hefty’s, — and Nellie laughs. Silly couples on benches express their regard after the fashion of their kind — and Nellie jeers. Other couples pass, invariably the man taking the girl’s arm; out in rowboats, amateur mariners exhibit their imperfect acquaintance with oars; on shore, the facetious point out commanding objects in the landscape,—“There’s the Himmalay Mountains, hee, hee!” or “That’s Blackwell’s Island, hee, hee!”—while Nellie indulges a glorious, incommensurable mirth. But why has she halted so suddenly to pick up a newspaper some bencher has abandoned ? See! The paper contains the announcement of the prizes awarded in the Sunday Star’s Beauty Contest. “ First Prize: Miss Sadie Fogarty, the North Cove Hebe.”

Three years ago Nellie would have burst with envy. A year ago, the up-todate front would have slipped its adjustment; a frantic storm of giggles would have concluded with, “ Say, ain’t she the limit? Ain’t she the scream? ” To-day Nellie laughs heartily enough, but keeps her dignity. She has assimilated the elegance, the refinement, the savoir faire of Arlington Avenue. In fact, she no longer insists on being called a lady or upon calling the Avenue’s social life “ society.” Wish her success, then, with her pothooks and chicken-tracks! No matter to what pinnacles of gentility she may ascend, she will adorn them.

But deeds outdo wishes, and I think we may reasonably undertake to marry Nellie off. She has piloted us up from darkest society to the point where it blends with the world “ not in society.” Let us manifest our gratitude by allying her with a rising restaurateur of the Avenue. Congratulations, now, to both bride and groom — to the groom especially. If he deplores certain incidents in Nellie’s’past, let him give thanks for the merits her past has developed. Having earned her living, she knows the value of money. Having grown up among workers, she can share her husband’s business cares. “ Wise,” she can protect her children against many a foe whose existence the gentle-bred mother knows nothing of. And her goodness —it is the tested, tempted, disciplined goodness a man can count on. Here and there other girls, in the Cove and the Avenue, have come to grief under the conditions that have made Nellie strong; and now and then their stories are held up as typical, casting a burden and a stain upon those who had burdens enough before and who struggle hard enough, God knows, to maintain their fair name. Is that right, think you ? Ask Nellie! Better yet, ask Nellie’s husband.