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Full text of "The highroad, being the autobiography of an ambitious mother"

PS 3500 A6 A52 
... ;..:. r PRN A. SAN DIEG 



3 1822 01096 1415 



HIGH ROAD 







PS 



The 
Highroad 



Ike 

Highroad 

BEING 

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

OF AN AMBITIOUS 

MOTHER 




CHICAGO 

HERBERT S. STONE & COMPANY 
MCMIV 



COPYRIGHT, 1904, BY 

HERBERT S, STONE & COMPANY 

CHICAGO 



PRKSSOF 

STROMBERG, ALLEN & CO. 
CHICAGO 

12845 



PREFACE 

They call me the most successful mother in 
New York. This summer, with my tall Jane in 
her honeymoon, I am left alone, and I am 
taking a holiday in the house where I was born, 
in West Virginia in the hills. As I walk 
through the fields, poor, grown up in ragweed 
and the white boneset that I used to gather for 
"bitters" when I was a child, and realize that I 
am the mother-in-law of an Ambassador, an 
Earl with old Elizabethan houses mellowing in 
the English sunshine, a brilliant New York 
lawyer who may become anything and is now 
rich and well born and one of the greatest of 
American heiresses, my sense of humor is 
aroused. 

I am on the sunny side of fifty. Once I 
walked barefoot in the furrows of the very field 
where I am writing this, and dropped potatoes 
before my father's hoe! Sometimes in these 
late years when I have read the newspaper 
accounts of my "old Virginia family," it was 
hard to keep my face straight. But I did. 

In this world the successful always keep their 
faces straight. I have heard people who have 
not the power to do so at the important 
5 



Pref; 



ace 



moment, bitterly declare that success comes 
only to those who lack a sense of humor. It 
sometimes comes to those lacking that best 
sense, that complement of the other five, but 
rarely. The true secret of power is to see your 
actions in every light and then to choose the 
point of view which you will stand by and from 
which you will cause others to see you. 
Success does not consist altogether in seeing, 
but in being seen. 

But I will confess that I never encouraged a 
sense of humor in my girls. They never knew 
that we and our pretensions were altogether 
comical. They were real inasmuch as they 
believed in themselves at least while they 
were very young. Sometimes I have wanted a 
confidant until I ached. I have wanted to go 
to some level-headed, "broad-minded" person 
and tell the story and laugh. 

I have read a clever story now and then in 
which an Abbe figured. I have 'always had an 
ideal of an Abbe in my mind. If I had ever 
run across him I should have become a convert 
to Rome 'for no reason on earth except that I 
wanted a confidant. I could have been happy 
if my lot had been thrown with that Father 
Forbes, of whom Harold Frederic gave a bril- 



Preface 7 

liant picture in Theron Ware. I am sure we 
should have been the best of friends. 

Having now no children of my own to settle, 
I would throw out as a hint to other mothers 
that there is a wonderful career for a poor, 
clever, ambitious boy in the Church. If my 
own boy had not early shown that the way of the 
world was his way, I should have put him there. 

The idle class in America is made up of 
women, and of men who think along feminine 
lines. They want a confidant. The woman 
does not dare make one of her husband. In 
the first place, he would refuse to understand, 
or he would be worried to death over a "hys 
terical wife" if he did understand. The priest 
or the clergyman who can fill this want is a 
"made" man. He must be a celibate. Some 
women find a confidant in a judiciously selected 
doctor. 

It is in the final and complete lack of an 
"other self," as the sentimental old maids say, 
that I am writing this. And then, I wish to 
see how the story looks when it is all finished. 
It will give me exactly the same sort of pleas 
ure that one has in looking at her own photo 
graph. I want to see how I look to my own 
critical eyes. 



8 Pref; 



ace 



I here disclaim any idea of making a moral 
story, or a sentimental story, or any sort of 
story save a true story. If I neglect sometimes 
to write down the good in people and call 
attention to the bad that, too, is part of the 
portrait I am making of myself. What I see 
reveals my character also. 1 should be a fool 
to "fake" the story of my struggles to present 
a more pleasing picture, to paint a portrait of 
myself after the manner of Chartran. I believe 
in truly good people, but I do not hold as an 
article of that belief that they are the only 
happy people. The successful are the happy 
they and those who haven't the power to real 
ize that they are unhappy. I should not 
"rather be good than be happy." Would 
you? I am happy; and in this narrative I 
have not hidden my faults nor tried to explain 
them. 

Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes said that any 
one could write one interesting novel by tell 
ing the plain unvarnished tale of his own life. 
This narrative is made after that formula, and 
I can only hope that he told the truth, for I 
might say with Montaigne, "All the world 
knows me in my book." 



The Highroad 



i 

A Mother 

My father was the son of a hard-shell Bap 
tist preacher who wandered up and down the 
Ohio River preaching from a flat-boat. My 
grandmother was reported to be the daughter 
of a Kentucky farmer somewhere near Mays- 
ville, who was fascinated by my grandfather's 
tongue, and eloped with him. She died when 
my father was born, and he, a physically weak 
little creature, was brought up in careless fash 
ion among the people of the country who 
listened while my grandfather preached and 
took him home to dinner. I have sometimes 
thought that my grandfather, educated and in 
another environment, might have been that 
priest of whom I have dreamed. 

My father never spoke of this period of his 
life to me, but he talked to my mother, and she 
has told me something of it. 

He had no education whatever, as education 
is known to-day. He learned to read and 
o 



IO The Highroad 

write, and, a little later when he began to 
"trade," to keep rude accounts. I believe it 
was horses at first, and then anything, until he 
had acquired the farm here. 

I have often thought that had my father mar 
ried an ambitious woman, or even an ordinarily 
"smart" woman, he would have reached out 
into the world and become a man of substance 
and it may be wealth. But my mother was 
simply a rather stupid, pretty daughter of a 
farmer. It is from her that the Countess of 
Truesdale, who is my youngest daughter, in 
herits her delicate blonde beauty, which causes 
the English aristocracy to look heavy and 
overfed. 

Northern people, and even southern people 
of the present generation, have no idea of the 
position of the southern farmers of the non- 
slave-holding class before the Civil War. They 
were more surely outcasts than the negroes 
themselves. In the Virginia and Tennessee 
mountains 'their position was less noticeable 
than in the great plantation countries, but even 
there, "the quality" was a caste apart. 

It was to these outcasts that my father 
nelonged. My mother's people, by virtue of 
a dozen slaves (one family of negroes) were a 



A Mother it 

little higher in the social scale, and notwith 
standing the fact that my father was infinitely 
their superior in every possible way, my 
mother's people held themselves aloof. This 
attitude was very convenient to me later, as it 
freed me from the clog of their presence and 
blood claims. I have noticed this often in 
other families. Unless relatives are very good, 
a distinct advantage anywhere, they hamper. 
As Mr. Kipling says, "He travels fastest who 
travels alone." 

I was born just before the Civil War, and was 
old enough as it passed away to see that my 
father's sympathies were with "the Union," 
and my mother's with "the Rebels." I was 
taught by my father to sing: "Hang Jeff Davis 
on a Sour Apple Tree," and I knew that my 
mother treasured in the first place in her 
"album" a photograph of Wilkes Booth. I 
have that photograph still. It is part of our 
"local color," as southerners. 

But they did not quarrel. My father did as 
he pleased, and my mother resented nothing 
that was done by anybody. 

After the war the schools in our part of the 
country were improved, and by the time I was 
old enough to attend school, there were two 



12 The Highroad 

sessions a year, making in all seven months, 
and I was sent there. 

The school house was of logs heated by a 
big iron stove in which wood was burned, and 
the teachers who came to us were the rawest of 
men, some of them men who had served in the 
war, and were seeking a way to fortune through 
the new state of West Virginia. 

When I was fifteen the man who became my 
husband came to the Bethel school. He was 
then a lank, shy, red-haired young man from 
Pennsylvania, with what my father called a 
"wonderful head fer figgers." 

After the school term was over for that year 
he stayed and opened a country store, giving 
groceries to the farmers for produce. They 
brought their crops and then their pork to him 
in exchange for coffee and tea and sugar, dry 
goods and "town-cured" hams. Then in the 
spring and early summer they would buy their 
own pork back at a slight increase in price, 
giving a lien on the coming crop. This 
method brought profits of about seventy-five 
per cent, but our customers did not discover it. 
It was that sense of seeing something which 
those about us did not see that first drew us 
apart from our neighbors, and caused us to look 



A Mother 13 

upon ourselves as aloof from them. It was 
that more than our prosperity. We sometimes 
talked of the people and my husband wondered 
why the public <=chools did not teach them 
more. We finally came to the conclusion that 
they are not really taught anything but surface 
book-knowledge. They can add, multiply and 
subtract figures but not facts. There appears 
to be a wall between their learning, such as it 
is, and their actual living. The relation 
between the two, which is education, is un 
known to them. 

My husband in those early days talked to 
me of everything. There was one man who 
amused us very much. He had a piece of what 
is known as wild land, covered with heavy 
walnut timber. This was before the day of 
lumber companies in West Virginia. As he 
could produce nothing on his land (so he said) 
he wanted to sell it. My husband, in bargain 
ing, said that the land certainly could not be 
worth much to anybody, and the man finally 
accepted the offer that was made for it. Then 
my husband employed the late owner and his 
two sons to clear the land. The timber taken 
off more than paid for the labor and for the 
land, leaving my husband with the great tract 



14 The Highroad 

of new land absolutely free of any cost what 
ever. Neither the man nor his sons saw any 
thing unusual in the transaction. 

By this perfectly legitimate method of carry 
ing on his business, it was not long before my 
husband owned large tracts of land. He was 
doing a banking and loan business in a small 
way, although his customers had no idea of it, 
nor do I believe had he. 

New York is always wondering at the coun 
trymen who come into the "street" and man 
age it "without previous experience." As 
a matter of fact, there are hundreds of men all 
over this country who are playing Wall Street's 
tricks every day of their lives, and never know 
it. When they discover it they come to town. 
The games have a different name in the 
country. 

Undoubtedly had my husband lived, my boy 
and girls would have been very rich, and it 
would not have been necessary for me to make 
the efforts through which I struggled for so 
many years. But I cannot call them anything 
but happy years. I was like a strong man shoot 
ing rapids. I might go to pieces any minute, but 
then it was all exhilarating sport, and if I 
came out into clear, deep water, it would be a 



A Mother 15 

haven. I touched bottom and I touched rocks. 
Sometimes my boat swung in an eddy. Once 
it was all but capsized. A cold chill goes over 
me when I remember! I never expected to 
get out alive socially alive, that is. 

My two eldest girls, Lucile and Genevieve, 
are nearly the same age as nearly as they can 
be. Robert, my boy, is more than a year older. 
They belong to my more or less romantic 
period when I was beginning to read books. 
I called novels books, and I never thought of 
trying to read anything else. 

I cannot read novels now, but in those days I 
read Augusta J. Evans, Sir Walter Scott some 
times (I found him too remote, although inter 
esting at times), Disraeli, G. P. R. James, and 
any other book which told of people of wealth 
and position. They were text books to me. I 
have sometimes wondered why I did not find 
"Vanity Fair" a great book. I always thought 
Becky Sharp a fool. Clever people hold their 
own. They make the world respect them, and 
they are seldom found out. I had no advantages 
of education, not even Dr. Johnson's Diction 
ary, but I could teach Becky Sharp things 
that neither she nor her creator ever dreamed 
of. Of all of them I liked Disraeli best. He 



1 6 The Highroad 

wrote of high life that he had actually seen. 
For every crumb of information concerning it 
I was eager and hungering. 

At the time the children were born we were 
living on the farm in a house my husband built 
soon after our marriage. It had four rooms 
and a kitchen. There was a wash house out 
side. I "did my own work," as they say in 
the country, with a deaf and dumb woman who 
was a sort of dependent of my father's to come 
in and do the washing. I made my children's 
clothes on the sewing machine that my hus 
band gave me on our first wedding anniversary, 
and as a matter of course my own clothes. 

Our sitting-room had an ingrain carpet on 
the floor, a rug with a lion in plush in the cen 
ter, a "set" of cane-seated chairs with a rocker, 
a coal stove. A Lady Washington's reception 
engraving (considered very grand), a "what 
not" with some vases and shells, and a bracket 
or two decorated the walls. We called it the 
parlor. 

My own bed-room was our real sitting-room. 
Here was a thick, and I know now, a beauti 
ful rag carpet, white curtains, an open fire, 
my sewing-machine, my bed, the trundle bed 
and the crib. 



A Mother 17 

We had besides a "spare room" for chance 
visitors, a dining-room and the kitchen. A 
bath-room? There isn't a West Virginia farm 
er's family in this year 1904 that bathes every 
day. Not one, unless it is some "crank" who 
is considered crazy by his neighbors. There 
are not a dozen bath-rooms outside of the 
towns. 

A few years ago, I went back there to attend 
to some business, and an acquaintance of mine 
in Fowlersburg took me to see her daughter's 
new house, a modern "Queen Anne," not yet 
completed. Fowlersburg is now a town of 
fifteen thousand inhabitants. 

"Here," said my friend, "is the place the 
book said" (it was a house out of a builder's 
book) "to put a bath-room. But Mamie said 
she would rather have a sewing-room. In the 
summer time they could take their Saturday 
baths in the wash-house, and in the winter they 
wouldn't need them." 

And Mamie was a good girl and a good 
housekeeper. 

I have kept my friendship for a few of the old 
people in Fowlersburg, particularly those of 
the old families. Of course my children have 
never been there since early childhood. The 



1 8 The Highroad 

ideals they have concerning the place and the 
people are perfectly beautiful. Let me beg all 
mothers who wish to be successful, never by 
any chance to wreck a child's ideals. If they 
once truly know, what they are talking about 
they must be geniuses to make other people 
see the ideal. I myself am something of a 
genius, but I never brought one into the world. 
My children thought they always told the 
truth. At least all but one, and her lapses 
could hardly be called keeping up an ideal. 



Early Days in Fowlersburg 19 



II 



Early Days in Fowlersburg 

I like to linger on the days when I was learn 
ing, and day by day coming out of the general 
into the special. 

The town is interesting to me as the scene 
of my earliest attempts to live after the fash 
ion of the world to which I longed to belong. 
I wanted to be a part of it. 

I often think of the crowds of humanity and 
of how few of us there are who do more than 
jostle along and elbow our neighbors. When 
Shakespeare says, "All the world's a stage and 
all the men and women merely players," he is 
not exactly right. There is a stage, but only 
a few of us are the players. The rest make up 
the gaping audience. Sometimes a clown or a 
columbine sets up a booth at the street corner, 
but they are the tawdry "notorious. " Some of 
us are artists and play on the world's stage, 
strutting to heroics (too often) in the glare of 
limelight. We know that there is a place, often 
dingy and dark and unpleasant, where we put 
aside our splendors and sit down to solitude. 



2O The Highroad 

It is our solace there to believe that the audience 
at least thinks us real. 

How many of us realize that the visible 
world about us is no measure of what is, but 
merely of what we are capable of seeing and 
understanding? Ghosts may walk for aught we 
know. Our poor little five senses are inade 
quate for our best uses, nature's grudging dole 
to us, mere pitiful tools to enable us to exist 
and work for that vague end she has in view so 
far beyond the limits of our vision. 

Your real novelist has something like second 
sight. He sees the realities behind the trivial 
little happenings which divert the common 
place minds. Life is a sleight-of-hand magi 
cian who plays her tricks while she fastens your 
attention somewhere else than on her object. 
The novelist, like Balzac or Hardy, smiles 
grimly and points out the machinery. 

I had from the beginning the wish to be one 
of those who played. I am not a remarkable 
woman to look at. I have always tried not to 
be. In those early years in Fowlersburg it was 
my ambition to win a solid foundation of re 
spect and a place. I did not want one woman 
ever to remember that her husband's eyes had 
rested upon me with the sort of admiration that 



Early Days in Fowlersburg 21 

all women love for themselves and hate for 
another; but I wanted to be known. 

When we decided to leave the farm and go 
into town to live, I thought the matter over 
very carefully. My husband said that he 
wanted to go because he intended to open a 
general store there to dispose of the country 
produce that came in. By this time he had a 
chain of country stores through what are 
known as the "back counties" in West Vir 
ginia. And he also wanted to send the chil 
dren to school as they grew a little larger. 
"Give them advantages," he said. 

Lucile and Genevieve were five and six, 
Robert was seven, and Jane a baby. 

I lay awake a good many nights turning over 
in my mind this change of residence. I knew 
absolutely nobody in Fowlersburg. It was this 
which finally caused me to go there this, and 
the fact that I was little hampered by relatives. 
My father had no kinfolk that I knew. My 
mother had plenty, but they were, like her, 
quiet, shy people, who bothered nobody, and 
least of all my father's family. In these days 
my father and mother had acquired a taste 
which made them happy and contented alone. 
The old New York Ledger was then edited by 



22 The Highroad 

Robert Bonner, who published every week 
installments of novels by Mrs. E. D. E. N. South- 
worth, Mrs. Harriet Lewis and other romance 
writers of that school. Four of these stories 
were published weekly. Besides, there were 
editorials by Henry Ward Beecher and James 
Parton, a correspondence column, and some 
short stories. It is impossible to tell this 
generation anything about the fascination of 
the old New York Ledger. 

My father and mother found sufficient amuse 
ment in keeping four intricate plots in their 
heads from week to week. I believe that not 
half as many farmer's wives went to the insane 
asylum in the days of the Ledger. 

I remember once going up home (my father's 
house was always "home") and finding father 
churning, with half the Ledger in one hand 
while he worked the dasher up and down with 
the other, and mother kneading bread, with the 
other half of the paper propped up behind the 
bread board. They always cut it in two when 
it came, and drew straws which should have the 
part containing Mrs. Southworth's story. 
When they had finished it I borrowed it and 
read it myself. 

I did not tell my husband why I hesitated 



Early Days in Fowlersburg 23 

about going to Fowlersburg. There are some 
things a man cannot understand. I told him 
that I loved the country and my little home 
which was true. I had my work and my dreams. 

I hardly know whether it was in the Ledger 
or in some of the English novels in cheap edi 
tions that I was beginning to get my hands on, 
that I learned that a "tradesman" was not a 
social personage. To me a tradesman meant 
one thing: a storekeeper. I was trying to fig 
ure out some way in which we could slip away 
from that odium. Naturally I did not tell my 
husband that. 

Finally, one night, I had an idea. It was 
never my way to give my husband a joggle, 
waken him out of a sound sleep and expect 
him to discuss matters. He was a good hus 
band, but I doubt if there is any man suffi 
ciently perfect to enjoy that. But I felt that I 
must talk about it now. I arose from my bed, 
put on a pair of knitted slippers and a blue 
quilted dressing gown which I kept for slight 
illnesses, lighted the lamp and sat down by the 
fire. By this time, naturally, my husband was 
awake. 

"What is it, Mary?" he asked anxiously. 
"Are you sick?" 



24 The Highroad 

"I have a suffocating feeling, " I said. "It 
hurt me to lie down." 

By this time he was over the side of the bed 
inquiring if I wanted the doctor. I was seldom 
ill, and it frightened him thoroughly awake. 

I said I was not ill. It was but a passing 
unhappiness, and he must go to sleep. In the 
effort to keep me from thinking I was ill, he 
began to talk and in five minutes I was mak 
ing my suggestions. He was in the humor to 
agree with me on any subject. Like all men 
whose whole happiness lies in their homes, a 
fear of illness in the wife is potent. Silly 
women, learning that, wear it out. 

In an hour we had agreed that instead of 
having a general retail store in Fowlersburg, 
we were to have a wholesale house, principally 
for tobacco, barrel staves and "ties" (the 
blocks of wood on which railroads are laid). 
I proved to my husband that his brain was so 
great that he should use it in making other 
men do the petty detail of work. 

When we went back to bed my suffocation 
was gone and my husband had a new set of 
ideas and a warm glow at his heart because his 
wife understood him. 

There was one point upon which I was firm. 



Early Days in Fowlersburg 25 

My husband wanted to build a new house in 
town. He told me he could now afford a home 
which would cost five thousand dollars, and he 
had talked to Mr. Gallison, the chief carpenter 
in Fowlersburg who built all its houses, about 
making a plan. But I begged that just now 
he would not take five thousand dollars from 
his capital. With his cleverness that five thou 
sand dollars would increase faster than it would 
in real estate. 

The fact was, I knew that when a man buys 
a home or builds one, he is reluctant to move. 
I meant to know the town before I settled in 
one spot for a long term of years. 

In going to Fowlersburg there was another 
question the Church. My people naturally 
went to the Baptist church when they went 
anywhere. There was, however, no Baptist 
church in our neighborhood. Once a month 
there was preaching in the school house by a 
Methodist circuit rider. My parents had all 
the scorn for "sprinklers" that a Scotch Pres 
byterian has fora "Romanist." My husband's 
family in Pennsylvania had been Dunkards, 
but he kept no traces of it nor ever mentioned 
it. 

When I was twelve years old, my grand- 



26 The Highroad 

father, who died the following year, took me 
two counties away to a Baptist Association. 
This is something like a Methodist Conference. 
Delegates are sent from all the churches round 
about, and as many other people come as wish 
to have a change of scene. The people in the 
place where the Association meets entertain 
them. I believe they still hold these meet 
ings, and I fancy in some parts of this my 
native state, the entertainment is as crude now 
as it was then. 

In this place where my grandfather and I 
went, there was but one house large enough to 
hold many guests, and it consisted chiefly of 
one big room and an enormous "porch." We 
ate on the "porch" and we all slept in that one 
big room. The farmer's wife, who must have 
been a very clever woman, sewed all her sheets 
and her neighbor's sheets together until she 
made one as big as the room. She had straw 
brought and put down on the floor a foot deep, 
then she made one enormous bed. The sleep 
ers lay in tiers. Have you ever seen the paint 
ing called "The Conquerors"? It represents 
the great captains of the world riding through 
Inferno, their way bordered by rows of the 
dead slain on victorious fields. It was in such 



Early Days in Fowlersburg 27 

tiers that we slept on Mrs. Daggett's floor. In 
the center of each row a man and his wife 
would lie side by side. From his other side 
would go out a row of men, from hers a row of 
women. I didn't like it. After we were all 
settled one night, I called out to my grand 
father. Isaid: 

"Grandpap, were they sleeping like this 
when Ruth got up and lay at the feet of Boaz?" 

He reached over two ladies and a husband 
and slapped me. 

I had read of nothing like this in mysteries, 
and I imbibed the idea that Baptists were vul 
gar. As I grew a little older I knew that all 
"dissenters" were outcasts. What a dissenter 
was I didn't know only that he was something 
that did not belong to the Established Church. 
I thought we had an Establishment in Amer 
ica, and I believed it to be a sect. Naturally 
when I found we had nothing of the kind, my 
impulse was toward the Episcopalian church. 
A church is a club that any man can force his 
way into. But I was cautious, I did not want 
to make any mistakes. 

We went to Fowlersburg presently, taking a 
little house on the one central street. My 
husband had begun his business, and already 



28 ^he Highroad 

knew all the business men. As he was pros 
perous and a little better educated than most 
of the men there, he became very speedily a 
leading citizen. The town was small then, with 
one paved sidewalk and about three thousand 
inhabitants. 

Socially it was fit for Mr. Thomas Hardy's 
consideration. The leading family was named 
Jones. Its founder was still alive; he was 
the illegitimate son of a roystering blade 
who was said to have had sons enough on the 
right and left hands in his congressional dis 
trict to send him to Congress when he was 
fifty. He use'd to acknowledge any that were 
brought to his notice, provided they were 
good looking or "smart." He always declared 
that he had brought no "lunk heads" into the 
world. 

The Fowlersburg Jones was acknowleged, 
and as his mother died at his birth he was 
adopted by his father's wife. Now and then 
the story of a woman's doing such a thing is 
told as though it were the unique act of self- 
sacrifice. In fact it happened hundreds of 
times before our civilization became so com 
plex. Mrs. Benjamin Franklin adopted her 
husband's illegitimate son. It is an American 



Early Days in Fowlersburg 29 

habit to furnish the generations behind with 
the same set of ideas that controls this one. 
It is folly to say that an American woman will 
do that thing to-day, although I have heard 
men call it "a womanly thing to do." 

This man at this time was very old and had 
a large family of children and grandchildren. 
He had been educated, studied law, and had 
educated his children. They seemed to have 
a conviction that nobody knew of old Colonel 
(of militia) Jones's parentage. Heaven knows! 
They may not have known it themselves. If 
they did they had unusually thick skins. I 
have always much admired the idea of the old 
Colonel, coming back to the very county in 
which he was born to make his fight against his 
birth. The story couldn't follow him, because 
he met it on its own doorstep. But his family 
made itself an object of ridicule by the high 
and mighty airs affected. And yet, such is the 
power of assurance and audacity, it became 
the leading family of the town, although there 
were people there of gentle birth. 

The story of that one family would fill this 
book many times. Old Colonel Jones married 
a farmer's daughter, who was clever, and her 
sons were clever men; yet it is a curious 



30 tfhe Highroad 

study to see how the original pair, the royster- 
ing grandfather and the weak farm girl have 
marked the generations. One of them caused 
me a bad half hour years ago by- suddenly 
claiming my acquaintance. She was yellow 
wigged and painted and perfumed and dia 
monded. There is a grandson in the peniten 
tiary, they tell me now. After all, there is 
something in having your blood honest. 

There was another family, very intimate with 
this one in a surface fashion, that was equally 
amusing to the lover of comedy. Do not 
imagine that my sense of humor was suffi 
ciently cultivated in those days to appreciate 
the situation at its true value. It took years 
and experience for me to get my glass adjusted. 
But it was there all the time for the seeing eye. 

The name of this second family was Lossing, 
and it was what my father would have 
called "chief cook and bottle washer" (to 
think of the grandfather of my girls saying a 
vulgar thing like that!), in the Episcopal 
church. This made another example of the 
power of assurance. 

Then there were two women, sisters they 
said, and the meek little husband of one of 
them who kept books while his womenkind 



Early Days in Fowlersburg 31 

taught music and disseminated gossip. He 
was a bookkeeper for my husband for a time, a 
position which he lost very suddenly after I 
had heard the reading of my character which 
the music teacher gave. Poor things! Fow 
lersburg made the appalling discovery one day 
that instead of being Berlin Protestants as they 
were supposed to be, German born, they were 
Baltimore Jews who had dropped their religion 
as unprofitable. Never shall I forget the pall 
which fell that day upon the church which they 
had deceived. I shared in it, for I naturally 
became an Episcopalian. 



32 'The Highroad 



III 



We 'Take a House 

According to Mr. Herbert Spencer, each of 
us is the result of environment. I suppose I 
am one of the exceptions which proves the rule. 
Otherwise, I should give a careful study of 
Fowlersburg society at this time that the stu 
dents of human nature (myself included), for 
whose pleasure and enlightenment this history 
is written, might see the forces which created 
me. These people taught me little except what 
to avoid. 

I used to look at the women who had grown 
old in contentment in Fowlersburg and won 
der. They were, some of them, women of 
beauty, with small but certain incomes, with 
fairly good families. They had a chance I 
had never had, and yet they had been content 
to live all their lives in a little round of gossip 
and housekeeping. They felt satisfied when 
their daughters married the first young man 
who presented himself. Of course I had done 
the same thing, but I had no choice and 
looked far beyond for my own children. 



We Take a House 33 

My ignorance was such in those days that I 
actually expected the people who made up the 
little society in Fowlersburg to live like the 
people in my English novels. These novels 
were my text-books and my only ones. Natu 
rally, I tried to form my own simple household 
upon their models. It was a little while before 
I realized how different it was from the ways 
of other people and how fortunate for me. 
They, dear simple souls, could not conceive of 
anybody doing anything, particularly anything 
so simple as the ordering of a household in any 
other manner than the manner in which she 
had been brought up. 

I had two servants now one was a nurse for 
the children and the other the general servant 
that was customary in the town. The wages of 
a "girl," as this general servant was called, 
ranged from a dollar and a quarter to two dol 
lars a week. I didn't know that. I had never 
had a servant, but only a woman to work by 
the day. I had given her fifty cents a day. 
Naturally I concluded that this was the proper 
wage. My husband paid his men by the month. 
I consequently told the first servant who applied 
that I paid fifteen dollars a month. This may 
sound most trivial, but I discovered later that 



34 The Highroad 



no circus which came to Fowlersburg with bands 
and posters and parades ever so successfully 
advertised as I did by that simple statement. 

This move might have made me most un 
popular except that I was following my text 
books. I asked for a recommendation from 
the last mistress and I would not take a servant 
without it. This effectually prevented my com 
mitting that unpardonable sin, known in Fow 
lersburg as "coaxing off other people's girls." 

I finally by this means secured two sisters, 
the daughters of a respectable farmer. In 
deed, they were of about the same origin as my 
own, a fact which I did not then acknowledge 
even to myself. I knew how to cook, and with 
the aid of a cook book I managed to teach the 
really intelligent elder girl ways which not only 
filled her with awe but sent her about proudly 
proclaiming that she didn't live with "common 
people." 

I had of course supposed that society in 
Fowlersburg, which seemed to me then like a 
metropolis, ate its dinners in the evening 
according to my English novel standards. I 
didn't quite dare ask my husband to do that. 
But as a country breakfast, dinner and supper 
are almost identical in constituents, I had no 



We Take a House 35 

difficulty. The servants simply called the 
dinner "luncheon," and the supper "dinner." 
My husband thought (if the innovation gave 
his busy brain a thought at all) that it was the 
servants' peculiarity instead of mine. 

It was the same with another thing which 
seems too trivial to mention, and yet its prac 
tice made a difference. That was the "Papa" 
and "Mamma" by which my children ad 
dressed us. I had said "Pap" and "Mother," 
but I had the children say Father and Mother, 
because the French Papa and Mamma would 
have been impossible of pronunciation to me in 
my country home. With the coming of the 
new servants the change was easy. They un 
consciously taught the children what I told 
them to say. Does this seem too trivial? 
Believe me, it is of trifles that life, or at any 
rate, social life is made. 

At this time we had a regular income of 
about seven thousand dollars a year but we 
spent about twenty-five hundred and were rich. 

How I struggled over that little house in 
which we lived! We went into the house at 
the period of black wall paper and shaded 
rooms. I wonder if the memory of anyone else 
goes back to that time. I believe they called 



36 'The Highroad 

it Morris paper, and it was supposed to have 
something to do with sunflowers and aestheti- 
cism. Living in the country and on old fash 
ioned English novels, this movement escaped 
me. I had not even a friend to tell me of it. 
I never read a newspaper, seldom a magazine. 
I could only follow the lines of the English 
"cottages" I read of, and work in chintz. 
"The ladies' morning room" was always chintz 
with "bunches of roses" in my novels. 

Entering now into a place where I could let 
myself "go," I also had a morning room, and 
it was done in chintz with bunches of roses. 

In some of the early reprints of English 
books, were copied the good English illustra 
tions by men like Frederick Leighton and Fred 
Walker. When these represented interiors I 
pinned my faith to them. Low book shelves, 
wicker chairs and a tea table, wide couches 
with chintz flounces, draped dressing tables 
I had them all. 

Nobody will ever know the bitterness of my 
mortification at discovering, when I went to 
return my visits, that I was all out of fashion, 
that I ought to have had black wall paper and 
a dark carpet, and dingy curtains. But I had 
the chintz and wicker and I couldn't afford to 



We Take a House 37 

change them, so I made the best of them. 
Like anything else you make the best of, other 
people came in a little time, to copying them 
and envying me the possession of them. They, 
too, most of them, had read an English novel or 
two (there seemed to be nothing else to read in 
those days), and "morning room" and "draw 
ing-room" finished in chintz sounded as ele 
gant to them as the "lark rising to meet the 
sun" sounded poetic when they read it in 
newspaper verses. That every room in my 
little cottage was morning room and afternoon 
room, too, was as unsuspected by them as that 
America has no lark. 

Again 1 must call attention to that curious 
lack of application by the majority of peo 
ple of what they know. My new acquaint 
ances looked upon me as a superior sort of per 
son because I had possessions of which they had 
read. Even the fact that my children wore 
white pinafores like those in English illustra 
tions and had their pretty fair hair brushed down 
their backs, made them in a sense superior. 
There was not a woman in the town who could 
not have done what I did, who had not my 
information. What she lacked was the con 
nection between information and action. 



38 The Highroad 

I shall never forget the sensation when I 
gave some callers afternoon tea, from my 
"drawing-room" tea table. My servants told 
me how they heard of it everywhere and people 
wanted to know if' it was a regular meal and if 
we had anything after it. That was long before 
the day of wrought-iron tea kettles and the 
souvenir spoons which became in 1888 as gen 
eral as upright pianos. 

But these things were not funny to me in 
those days. I was blundering along after the 
only model I had. I knew these village 
women to be far above me in breeding, educa 
tion, everything. I was humble before them. 
I had come there believing that "society" in 
one place was exactly like society in another, 
and I was trying my best to take my place 
by behaving as nearly like a respectable 
English duchess as circumstances would per 
mit. I even had the conscience of the good 
Duchess in those days. I used to search my 
soul and dream of the higher life. Oh, how 
the comedy of it has come like a sharp scent in 
my nostrils since, half a pleasure and half a 
pain, poor ignorant me truckling to the 
Joneses and the Mendals! 



I Become the Head of the Family 39 



IV 



/ Become the Head of the Family 

I wish that I could keep this narrative in 
Fowlersburg a little longer. There were so 
many people there that I should enjoy writing 
about telling even to myself, if this story is 
never read by another what I saw below the 
surface they believed themselves to present to 
the world. 

There was Mr. Bliss, the clergyman. He 
was, I heard later, the son of a Methodist book 
agent up in Pennsylvania somewhere. He had 
infinite tact and a "beautiful manner." Some 
times he took afternoon tea with me and talked 
about the age of confirmation, or neatly demol 
ished heresy. He was as easy in his acquired 
theology as I in my own new manners. We 
each had the air of inheritors. We played the 
game as solemnly as two children who are 
"dressing up." 

We lived in Fowlersburg for seven years. I 
have heard since, many times, in many a 
roundabout way, that the people in the town 
who knew me "cannot understand" my sue- 



4O 'xbe Highroad 



cess. They call it luck. They remind them 
selves and each other what an "ordinary, quiet, 
plain little woman" I was. They give my 
children credit for having developed a wonder 
ful talent for social conquest, and they speak 
of the remarkable influence of a foreign educa 
tion and the opportunities for meeting men of 
title and fortune in the old world. I believe 
myself to be responsible for the breaking up of 
several respectable and ambitious Fowlersburg 
families whose fathers toil at law office or 
"store" while the wives and children live in 
pensions in Rome or Paris waiting for my 
"luck." It is pitiful, isn't it? 

They have no sort of conception that to be a 
"plain, quiet little woman" was my success in 
Fowlersburg. 

My husband died. 

His death came after one of the journeys 10 
the hills he had been taking very frequently 
lately, and the typhoid pneumonia, which 
strikes so swiftly in West Virginia, had waited 
for a moment of extra fatigue in his hard-work 
ing life to find him defenseless. 

It is the custom in West Virginia to bury the 
dead within thirty-six hours but I couldn't. 
By delaying the funeral four days, I uncon- 



I Become the Head of the Family 41 

sciously added another instance to my record 
of doing everything "in style" (as they said). 
They all knew that in the east (everything 
beyond Harper's Ferry is "the east") they 
delayed funerals. 

My husband had been caught by death at an 
unlucky moment. He had made moves which 
he alone understood for his methods of doing 
business had become swift, and it was impos 
sible to consult me on every transaction. He 
had purchased wild land. He had planned to 
build railroads through the back counties of 
West Virginia where there was then not a 
church nor a school house, and where the in 
habitants were as wild as the Scotch in the days 
of James I. 

Mark Twain has accused Sir Walter Scott of 
creating the southern feuds by setting up a 
false idea of chivalry a generation or two ago, 
which has degenerated with the people. He 
leaves out of consideration the fact that these 
people are the actual descendants of the blood 
of which Walter Scott wrote. They have de 
generated in some instances, and in some have 
remained simply stationary, giving the appear 
ance of degeneration in the light of the present 
day. 



42 The Highroad 

I have heard old border ballads sung at a 
back county "play party' ' where they danced to 
the tunes they sang themselves instead of to a 
fiddle. They called the dances "plays. " One 
of the popular ones is called "Over the Water 
to Charlie." They have not the faintest idea 
that such a person as Charlie Stuart ever lived, 
but the children know the song even to-day. 

Like Queen Victoria, I date my later life 
from the beginning of my widowhood. It was 
an event that had never entered into our calcu 
lations. My husband was so strong, so certain. 
When in those early days I looked forward, it 
was to becoming the great lady of West Vir 
ginia. After a while we should have a place 
somewhere in the mountains, a great game 
preserve, and we should be the important 
people, spending our winters in Washington. 
I am sure that had I kept a diary then and 
recorded my day dreams, I should find on turn 
ing the leaves that I had destined one of my 
girls for a President's wife, and one for a Sen 
ator's wife. My boy was to have been a Sen 
ator himself. That was before the days when it 
came to be so generally understood that a 
Senatorship is sometimes for sale. Now I 
know that my husband would probably have 



I Become the Head of the Family 43 

had one had he lived, and 1 suppose in that 
case Fowlersburg would have pointed him out 
as another wonderful genius with a poor idiot 
for a wife. 

These plans were too great for my carrying 
out, although everything was left to me. My 
husband trusted me. As for the executors of 
my husband's will, one a bank cashier named 
Less, and the other one an honest conservative 
old lawyer who had once been the governor of 
the state, they gave me to understand that they 
feared that my husband's illness had been corn 
ing on for some time and that his brain had 
been affected, judging by his investments. 
They told me that I could count upon noth 
ing from these wild lands. It was impossible 
to sell them at any price. 

This worthless land became my most valu 
able asset. Everything depends upon the use 
to which you put a thing. The Kohinoor would 
not save a man from starving if nobody knew he 
owned it, while one could live for a long time 
on a few paste diamonds that people believed 
to be real. 

After my husband was buried I insisted upon 
having the stores sold and everything put into 
safe securities, so that I knew my income ex- 



44 2^<? Highroad 

actly. I found that I had from that source 
thirty-two hundred dollars a year. That was 
all. I had expected to have at the very least 
twelve thousand; and had not the wild lands 
and certain railroad concessions (if that is what 
they are called) been purchased, I should have 
had that. Outside of this income was the life 
insurance policy for forty thousand dollars, for 
my sole benefit. 

In the early days I made my plans. * would 
go abroad and educate the children. 

I could cry now at the pathos of my belief in 
the things I read. One of these that was re 
peated so often that I never thought of ques 
tioning it, was that living on "the continent" 
was cheap. Whenever my English families in 
the novels became hard up, they always went 
to the cheap places abroad to economize. I 
have never discovered any place on the globe 
any cheaper than Fowlersburg, West Virginia. 
They say there are some villages in Virginia 
and Georgia that are cheaper, places where you 
can buy a broiler for ten cents, and have a 
large washing done for twenty-five. In Fowlers- 
burg a day's washing cost fifty cents in those 
days. I believe they ask seventy-five in these. 

We had never built a house, so I sold my 



I Become the Head of the Family 45 

furniture and we went away to Baltimore, 
where we took a small steamer for Bremen. 

My forty thousand dollars added another fif 
teen hundred a year to my income for the pres 
ent. I made up my mind, however, that when 
the time came the forty thousand dollars should 
be spent to launch my girls. 



46 The Highroad 



V 



Seek a Wider Life 

Ignorance is the most foolish thing in this 
world, but the proverb maker who said, "A 
little knowledge is a dangerous thing" was a 
genius. We are a good deal like bread. As raw 
dough we are promising. Until we get so old 
that we sour, we may be manipulated into good 
loaves at any time; but put us in the oven, 
take us out half-baked and allow us to cool in 
that state and we are done for. As for me, 
I was below the "little knowledge" state. I 
had been only near enough to the fire to rise a 
little. 

If we had gone to Europe by way of a 
Cunarder, with its crowds of travelers, I doubt 
if we should have reached my destination at 
all. I think I should have developed an ill 
ness which would have brought us back to 
Fowlersburg. But on the little ship that took 
us out in late August was a German scientific 
man from Jena. I had not so much as a maid 
with me, only four children, ranging from eight 
to sixteen years. Fortunately, they were as 



We Seek a Wider Life 47 

healthy as little animals and none of us was at 
all seasick. 

There were but five passengers besides our 
selves, and the four were ill the first days, 
allowing Dr. Helmholz to become friends 
with us. It was he who told me bluntly that 
Germany was not the place for us, but Lau 
sanne; it was he who made out the lessons for 
the children; it was he who told me that places 
like Lausanne were filled with ignorant Eng 
lish, of the stupidest class "to be let alone." 
(How I have blessed him since for keeping me 
out of the middle-class, although that was so 
far from his object!) He finally gave me a let 
ter to a man who "might give me some advice 
for my boy," and headed me for Lausanne. 

The "advice," when I reached it, was from 
a man whose original home had been in Hun 
gary. He was a nobleman who had resigned 
his titles and given himself up to scientific 
pursuits in a villa on Lake Geneva. He had a 
wife somewhere. Dr. Helmholz knew him 
only as a learned man, and had no thought of 
his position otherwise. That he knew man as 
well as his origin was a matter of no moment 
to Jena. 

Monsieur Prolmann, as he was known. 



48 The Highroad 

became, most inconspicuously, my friend. He 
was a man of fifty-five, who sometimes enter 
tained distinguished guests. The English and 
Americans who gossiped in the pensions around 
Lausanne and Geneva hardly knew his name. 
His life was lived in the beautiful walled gar 
den where presently my children played. 

Instead of settling in a pension, as had been 
my intention, I took a tiny cottage, on his 
advice. Being in heavy mourning, I did not 
visit at all which was fortunate, as I made 
a reputation for reserve which was most use 
ful. The woman who was the social arbiter 
of Lausanne in those days is the mother-in-law 
of the steward of my youngest son-in-law's 
Devon estates. It would be rather awkward if 
we had ever been on visiting terms and she 
could speak of Jane's childhood as one of its 
monitors. 

The next year my girls went to Paris to a 
famous convent, and it was my only regret that 
they had not gone earlier. A girl should come 
out at seventeen. The "new woman" may talk 
nonsense and higher education and all that sort 
of thing, but the fact remains that between 
sixteen and twenty-two, a well-brought-up girl 
has her best chances to marry. Men of sense 



We Seek a Wider Life 49 

want to marry a girl of that age. They want 
to teach her what to know. If I were a man 
there is nothing on earth that would induce me 
to marry a girl past twenty-one. A widow 
perhaps. She has been taught by another man. 
But the majority of women are bad teachers for 
their sex. I can give one instance. A mother 
almost invariably tells her daughter (when she 
begins to see that she is going to need advice) 
that indifference is the way to a man's heart. 
Nothing was ever so utterly absurd. A man is 
a human being, and it is the law of human na 
ture that we should like those who like us. A 
man craves sympathy, understanding, sweet 
ness, trustfulness. Naturally he despises a 
fool, or what he is capable of recognizing as a 
fool. We instinctively admire ourselves, be 
cause we try to be, and we flatter ourselves we 
succeed in appearing to be, the thing we admire. 
When another finds us admirable we at once 
pay tribute to his sense and taste. 

My eldest girl would not be ready for society 
for two years. In Continental society of the 
best class, it is necessary for a woman not only 
to speak French, but to speak it elegantly. 
The suppressed smiles I have seen on the faces 
of foreigners when some American women 



50 'The Highroad 

attempted French, have made me ashamed. 
Many of them speak fluently and confidently 
servant's French. They have had nurse maids 
in their childhood and dressing maids after 
wards, who have all described themselves as 
"Parisian." 

In most cases the servants are from the prov 
inces. In all cases they speak a tongue impos 
sible to an educated Frenchman. As well 
might a French lady enter a New York draw 
ing-room and chatter "h'aints" and "his'ns" 
or Boweryese. 

The nuns in the convent where I sent my 
little girls were ladies not very clever ladies, 
some of them, but bound by the cast-iron 
mould of their religious and social order. I 
have heard Americans say that they feared that 
their girls might become Catholics, and have 
hesitated at this convent on that account. 

A nun who educates girls never teaches them 
anything which will interfere with a marriage 
to anybody except a cad. 

Monsieur Prolmann, kind in those early 
days, with the grave kindness of a great man 
whose word I little dreamed of disputing, had 
given Robert his own secretary for some 
studies. For others he went to a private school 



We Seek a Wider Life 51 

where German boys come for French. Prol- 
mann had suggested a lady he knew of in 
Geneva as a governess for the girls. I found 
that my little income was stretched by my ex 
penses, living even in this way. 

The first summer we made an excursion to 
the Italian lakes, taking the governess with us. 
Quite by chance we encountered Mr. Prolmann 
in the little hotel where we were stopping. I 
do not know why a chance encounter like this 
seems to give an intimate air to a casual 
acquaintance, but we all know that it does. I 
had allowed the children to play in the great 
garden of his home on the lake, had my 
self once or twice had tea on the terrace with 
the children and governess, and had once gone 
in informally after dinner to hear a great pian 
ist who was staying at the villa. I had learned 
many things from Prolmann, many that I felt 
sure he was unconscious of having taught me. 

I had spent that first winter in a feverish 
study of French and I had succeeded in at least 
speaking carefully and grammatically. One 
can make few mistakes in conduct when one 
does nothing, but still I followed suggestions. 

This night, after our meeting in Italy, the 
moon had come up gloriously, and the elderly 



52 'The Highroad 

governess and the dry middle-aged secretary 
had taken the children for a walk to a famous 
view. It was early and Prolmann and I sat on 
a balcony of the hotel. I had found crepe a 
trifle heavy for travel, and I had on a thin 
gown of black gauze and a little white cloak 
belonging to Lucile. 

Suddenly Prolmann spoke. I had been con 
scious for some time that he was looking at 
me, instead of the ripple of the moon on the 
lake with a scrap of a chateau showing be 
yond, the whole looking quite like the painted 
views with mother-of-pearl high lights which 
one sees on old fashioned work boxes. 

He was a most distinguished-looking man, 
with thin white hair and waxed moustache, 
thick black eyebrows accenting the pale lined 
face of an ascetic. It was the first time I ever 
had sat alone in the evening with any man ex 
cept my husband and seldom with him. He, 
dead a year now, had usually gone to his 
office or to bed immediately after the evening 
meal, leaving me alone. And in any case he 
was by no means a romantic figure. He wore 
a chin beard. I am a creature of imagination, 
and I suppose it was because it was the first 
time that I so well remember every detail of 



We Seek a Wider Life 53 

that evening over the lake. I even remember 
that the chair in which I sat was a Moorish one 
made of rushes which gave me a long slender 
look, like a tall willowy woman. I admired 
myself in it as though I were somebody 
else. 

"You are very young to be the mother of two 
tall daughters," Prolmann said. He waited as 
though he expected me to speak and then he 
went on: "It will be a pleasant but an arduous 
task to put them into the world they should 
adorn." 

"It is concerning their lives that I need 
advice," I said. 

Prolmann leaned over and took my hand in 
a fatherly fashion. "It is wrong for so young 
and so attractive a woman to lack an adviser. 
I am going to ask that I may put my expe 
rience at your disposal. Had you always lived 
in this country, I should doubtless have been 
your husband's friend. (I wondered even then 
if Prolmann believed that. The thought 
causes me to smile now.) I should probably 
have been god-father to your children. Allow 
me to take that position which distance denied 
me." He was still holding my hand, and 
pressing it gently. Then he said softly: "I 



54 The Highroad 

might have been god-father and guardian to 
you." 

I did not speak for a minute. I have always 
found that silence needs no explanation. I 
had two replies and I wished to choose between 
them. The first was a light sentence saying 
that careful parents did not choose children for 
god-parents, and as he must have been a child 
when I was christened, he could not have been 
mine. That would have done for some men 
most men. They like to be called young when 
youth has past, however bold the flattery. But 
not this one. I chose my second. 

"Oh, that you had!" I said softly. "You 
would have saved me so much." 

And my sense of humor did not twitch a 
muscle of my face. But imagine, if you will, 
this finished worldling, this scientist, this 
courtier, as the god-father of my parents' child 
in the wilds of West Virginia! Yet actually, 
there in the moonlight, lying in the Moorish 
chair, I felt my part of an interesting young 
widow who had suffered. 

In his role of adviser, Prolmann suggested 
sending the girls to the great Parisian convent. 
I told him frankly that to do so would make 
serious inroads upon my capital, as the school 



We Seek a Wider Life 55 

was a very expensive one. My income was a 
little over four thousand dollars. The convent 
would demand a thousand apiece for the girls. 
But even to Prolmann I did not betray any 
thing. It was at this time that I began to make 
an asset of the wild land. 

I told him that our estates were unremunera- 
tive and that sentiment would not allow me to 
sell them. They comprised an area that was 
astounding in acre numbers. Considering how 
the ownership of the utterly worthless land put 
me into the class of great land owners in 
Europe, I have often wondered why such a pos 
session has not been oftener used by clever 
Americans with small capital. There are miles 
of desert lands in Arizona and California that 
would sound just as well as the most cultivated 
farms and a clever person can always let in 
formation get about. In Europe, where every 
decent American and some indecent ones 
are sized up and labelled, a little matter of a 
hundred thousand acres looks just as well as 
the title of an Italian prince looks over here. 
I think those acres impressed even Prolmann. 
He looked at me gravely and then puffed his 
delicate lips. 

"Those prices at the convent are for the 



56 'The Highroad 

bourgeoisie and foreigners only; not for my 
god-child." 

He went up to Paris and arranged matters. 
A little later I thought it probable that he paid 
the bills out of his own pocket. If he did, 
that was his own lookout. He could never 
know that I suspected it. Consequently we 
were in exactly the same position as though it 
were influence instead of money that he used. 

I was enabled to send the girls to the con 
vent for one thousand dollars payment for the 
three. I took a lease of my little house in 
Lausanne for another year, and settled down 
with Robert. 

The house had been altered for an American 
invalid who came to Lausanne to be near the 
famous Dr. Roux, and it was actually comfort 
able. An open fire and a bath-room were its 
distinguishing features. Ah! I enjoyed that 
winter! 

In some subtle way I seemed to be more of a 
girl than I had ever been in my life. Girlhood 
is a matter of education with many. Some 
have it by genius, but the majority of the 
female young of the human species are simply 
raw, unripe women who need to be as carefully 
looked after as other unripe fruit. Unfortu- 



We Seek a Wider Life 57 

nately a good many are of such a poor species, 
or are so stung by insects or spoiled by wind 
and rain and handling, that the proportion of 
well-flavored, handsome, sweet women is 
small. 

I was a widow with four children, but when 
the girls were safely in the convent, and Rob 
ert was away with his tutors, I was as- free as 
air and my nature seemed to be awakening. 

I arose in the mornings and put aside my 
curtains for a view of the beautiful mountains. 
I had my coffee in bed in the French fashion 
with an end of delicious French bread and 
sweet, saltless butter. After that, I supposed 
(in my tale of the day) I went for a walk; in 
reality I generally threw myself on a broad 
couch before my open fire and read the French 
books Prolmann sent me as well as some I 
purchased myself. Prolmann would have dis 
approved of some of my literature I am afraid. 
I remember his saying once that a woman 
might do almost anything, but that she must 
never hear or speak a word that was not deli 
cate. 

My little cottage adjoined Prolmann's gar 
den, so that his visits to me were not the sub 
ject of comment to the little band of big-footed, 



58 The Highroad 

badly-dressed English and their American 
imitators, who called themselves the "English 
Colony." My servants even had been supplied 
by Prolmann. 

Every day he came and had dejeuner with 
me Robert had his luncheon with the tutor in 
the villa above and we talked about every 
thing in the universe. I wonder if I can ever 
explain how I felt toward him. He was the 
first man who is what the world calls a gentle 
man, that I had ever known in my life. 

The training, the understanding of civiliza 
tion, society and the rules of comfortable liv 
ing which are crystallized into the gentleman 
create a charm which can never die. It is all 
the more potent to one unaccustomed to it. 
Even Prolmann' s manners at the table were 
charming to me. 

I have since discovered that not all gentle 
men on the continent of Europe know how to 
eat even though they be most accomplished in 
recognizing what to eat. I have seen a Grand 
Duke whose table manners would disgrace a 
motherless school boy in West Virginia and 
the majority of his friends did not know it. 

In West Virginia we sat down to the table 
for the primary purpose of obtaining nourish- 



We Seek a Wider Life 59 

ment and our whole attention was directed 
toward that end. Our food was good, but it 
had no more "rhythm," as Prolmann would 
have said, than the hay and oats in the horses' 
mangers. I was learning now that each dish 
should complement the other; that a meal was 
a composition intended to appeal to two senses 
besides that of taste. We thought in West Vir 
ginia, that a "course dinner" was "stylish" 
simply as a certain cut of skirt might be styl 
ish, but I learned now that the element of har 
mony in dining would prevent serving all the 
dishes at once, as it would prevent all the keys 
on a piano being played at once, or all the 
instruments in an orchestra. 

To be put into a gay humor, to be awakened 
to the zest of life, and to share your joy and 
play it in talk against the moods of others, is 
the art of dining as Prolmann taught it; other 
wise it were best to feed alone. 

Sometimes in the early days of our success I 
used to wonder what I should have been with 
out Prolmann, and I shuddered, thinking of 
myself as one of the poor, silly mothers who 
drag their girls about Europe and expect them 
to make chance acquaintances of Dukes as 
described in the novels. They imagine that 



60 'fbe Highroad 

the aristocracy of Europe marries after that 
loose fashion. Sometimes it does, but not the 
daughters of those mothers. In the rare cases 
where it happens the daughters do their own 
fishing. We see it over and over again; we 
read of it every day in the newspapers. The 
popular comment upon the Marquis who mar 
ries a music-hall singer is "Fool" ! Not at all.. 
All men are exactly like that, only they have 
not run against the attractive bait and the ex 
pert fisher. 

Now I know there was no real need for my 
shudders. If I had not learned Prolmann's 
lesson I should have learned another. That, 
however, does not lessen my gratitude to him. 

There was one object lesson that came to 
me under his auspices, which I very probably 
never should have seen otherwise. 

He told me one day that he was expecting 
some visitors. It was late in the winter and 
fashionable people were on their way to the 
South, to Cape Martin after the Queen, to Pau 
and Nice. Prolmann never spoke of men and 
women with adjectives which defined their sta 
tions in life. He had never found it necessary. 
But I classified in my own mind. So it was 
with a real thrill in my provincial heart, which 



We Seek a Wider Life 61 

has always kept the habit of thrilling notwith 
standing the contempt of my head, that I dis 
covered that his cousin and old playmate from 
England was the famous Duchess of Belcourt 
whose photograph, wearing her necklace of 
pearls the size of cherries, I had long admired. 
I was asked to the villa to luncheon on one of 
the two days she spent with Prolmann, and my 
girls' old governess was pressed into duty as 
my companion. Actually, until Prolmann tact 
fully suggested her in that capacity, I had no 
idea that I stood in need of such an appendage. 
I found the Duchess walking on the terrace 
with Prolmann and another man, a tall, 
stooped, slovenly creature with tired, bored 
eyes. The Duchess wore a dress of cheviot, 
badly made to my eyes, and her lined, dis 
agreeable face was smeared (there is no other 
word for it) with cosmetics, over which a 
veil was tightly drawn. Her figure was laced 
in, but with the thickness finding its distorted 
way into evidence. I think she was utterly 
indifferent to my presence, and I doubt if she 
had any clear idea who I was. But the man 
with her remembered me in after years when 
he was her husband and a little more tired, a 
little more bored than in those days. 



62 The Highroad 

When I joined them, Prolmann coming for 
ward to meet me, she was lecturing him upon 
some appointments he had made and some 
policy pursued not to her liking, for he was a 
Cabinet Minister of England, and she was an 
English Duchess who was supposed by an ad 
miring country to be his adviser, one of those 
women behind the throne of which even Peck- 
sniffian England boasts. 

They were traveling together as they often 
had done in the twenty years since they had 
been friends. 

At luncheon she paid no attention to me, but 
kept on with her talk of people and events and 
theories concerning which I knew nothing. 
Lord Hastings now and then spoke to Prol 
mann or to me, always upon subjects far from 
the line of thought carried on by the Duchess. 
She called him by his Christian name, and 
seemed to me to speak at times almost with 
rudeness. She looked years his senior, as I 
afterwards discovered she was. I knew the 
story of their devotion to each other. I had 
read it as one reads the chronicles of royalties, 
and I had to pinch myself to realize that I was 
sitting here facing two people who figured to 
those who saw them from afar as a sort of mod- 



We Seek a Wider Life 63 

ern Abelard and Heloise. Could these be 
they? As I looked at the heavy old face of 
the woman, with the untidy masses of dyed and 
false hair above it, the eyebrows marked on 
above contemptuous old eyes, and at the man 
the ancestral legislator, I almost laughed aloud. 
I went frantically back over my opinion of my 
own belongings, and for at least a moment, 
revised them. My husband had been some 
thing like this man, beard and all, only more 
intelligent. The woman, in Fowlersburg, 
West Virginia, would have been considered a 
type of cheap lodging-house keeper. And 
then I lashed myself for a fool. Was I to go 
through life with the standards of Fowlers- 
burg? That was provincialism with a ven 
geance. 

This was a great party leader of the greatest 
nation on earth. What was I? I, without 
traditions, who knew nothing whose eyes 
were blind, who had not the key of under 
standing to enter in and judge. The glamour 
of their great position took me. At least if it 
did not entirely take me, it was no fault of my 
volition. This friendship I told myself, was 
historic. It was of consequence to the nation. 
"Nice customs to great natures bow," I found 



64 The Highroad 



myself saying. And then that envy of the 
world I was born outside of, came to me. 
What must it mean to be in that rare world 
above the laws of conventionality, laws, 
which I saw in that hour, are created by those 
above them that those beneath may stand solid 
and uphold the structure upon which the great 
disport themselves. 

I tried to express something of this to Prol- 
mann the day after they left. We sat at 
dejeuner in my sunny little sitting-room, with 
the white-topped Swiss mountains outside. 
He gave one of his unusual smiles, which was 
like a breaking up of his face, so much of the 
humorous man of the world did it show behind 
the impassive mask which he usually carried 
like a blank wall against curiosity. Prol- 
mann's teeth were beautiful, and I realized at 
times like these that at some time, some 
woman might have passionately loved that 
man behind. It was with my reason I knew 
this, however. He never struck the hour of 
my heart. Now he leaned over my little round 
table, glistening with the beautiful light silver 
and glass, most of which he had given to me. 

"Catherine is my cousin. We are friends 
from youth. A shrewder bargainer and a less 



We Seek a Wider Life 65 

intelligent human being never lived. Poor 
Hastings." 

"But," I said, "She seems such a remark 
able help to him. She has such a knowledge 
of affairs." 

"She has not even the wit to repeat to him 
what she has heard him say. Most women 
know as much as that." 

"But ?" I stammered over my next ques 
tion. 

. "But why does he still attach himself? 
Because he would be cut if he did not. 
Because he wants to continue in office. He 
would not be forgiven if he dropped away. 
In this world a man must be true to some 
thing." He hesitated a moment and the smile 
faded. "They allow more latitude to a 
woman. Hastings is paying a debt of honor 
contracted twenty years ago and he must pay it 
until the Duke of Belcourt is dead. Then he 
will be free." 

I suppose my eyes were puzzled. 

"Then he may marry her and go his own 
way. ' ' 

In that winter I used to walk as high up on 
the mountains as I dared to go. It seemed to 
me that I could not breathe as long as there was 



66 The Highroad 

anything above me. I must climb even into 
dangerous places. It was with delight that I 
realized my own sure-footedness, my coolness 
of head. 

The following summer Prolmann told me 
that he was growing old (as a matter of fact he 
was younger in every way than when I had first 
known him), and that his physician had ordered 
him to take a long yachting trip to Norway and 
the Hebrides. He asked that, in the capacity 
of his god-daughter, I would come with him. 
Robert would go for a tour with the secretary, 
and I, with a new maid (my old one was sub 
ject to seasickness), went. This plan was car 
ried out for another summer, and then I found 
myself a little bored. 

Prolmann had taught me much which I de 
sired to use. What was the need of longer 
spending my days in idle dreaming and in as 
idle practicing upon my teacher? And I was 
a little bored. I exulted in the feeling when I 
discovered it in myself. This wonderful, bril 
liant man of the world had brought me to the 
stage where he could teach me nothing more, 
and he bored me. 

One day near the end of our second summer, 
he told me that he was negotiating with his 



We Seek a Wider Life 67 

wife's people for a divorce. I thought rapidly. 
Undoubtedly a marriage with Prolmann would 
give me a large fortune, but was it worth 
while? Would I not be considered somewhat 
in the light of an adventuress? 

An unknown woman is always considered to 
have been an adventuress when she marries a 
conspicuous man. And while Prolmann had 
discarded his title and was living in retire 
ment, any act of his, such as a marriage fol 
lowing a divorce, would bring up his whole 
history and mine. And he bored me. 

I told him that to me divorce seems the 
violation of a sacrament, and I begged him for 
the sake of his soul to reconsider the matter. 

The next remark he made was wide of the 
subject, and that autumn I went to Paris to be 
near the girls and prepare the way for Lucile's 
debut into the world. He gave me many let 
ters and the arrangement at the convent went 
on as before. We carried on a correspondence 
of a semi-formal character with long lapses. 

I was foolish to let Prolmann get away from 
me then. His arm would have saved me much 
in the succeeding years, but it was the first time 
I had ever been truly bored and I was fasci 
nated by the experience and inclined to in- 



68 'The Highroad 

dulge it. I had practically saved two years' 
income also, and my "god-father" had pre 
sented me with some magnificent jewels. 

He showed his spirit by sending each of the 
elder girls a pearl necklace on her marriage 
and keepi'ng an eye on Robert's early educa 
tion. 



In Paris 69 



VI 



In Paris 

My first idea in going to Paris was to stay a 
while in the convent where my girls were. But 
I thought better of that. I did not want the 
nuns to be too explicit concerning the cost of 
their charges. They were paid through my 
bankers in Paris, and I had nothing to do 
with it. 

I could not go to a pension. I had learned 
by this time how it marked a woman, gave 
her undesirable acquaintances, and was alto 
gether the wrong road to the goal I had set out 
to reach. I lived at a quiet little hotel with 
my maid for a week, and then set about reap 
ing the harvest of the letters Prolmann had 
given me. I had no scruples whatever in 
opening them, but they told me nothing. 
They were of the most formal description. 
But my first visitor gave me a clue to what 
Prolmann had sent out privately. 

She was a Viennese, an old woman with a 
sad face, more like an old hound's than any- 



7o 'The Highroad 

thing else I can think of. The old-fashioned 
way in which she wore her hair carried out the 
idea. The mouse-colored wings on her cheeks 
were like a hound's ears. But in the lobes of 
her ears were beautiful rubies of enormous 
value, and on the delicate old hands, encased in 
lace mitts, were stones in dim, worn, deep set 
tings that made the flashy shallow diamonds 
we see nowadays seem like vulgar paste. Her 
gown was made with an overskirt and her bon 
net had wide strings. 

She rose and bowed stiffly when I entered, 
and said in beautiful French: 

"It gives me pleasure to welcome the 
daughter of my cousin's old friend to Paris." 

For an instant I was bewildered, and later I 
was confused as I realized that the old brown 
eyes that looked out so pathetically had seen 
my hesitation. The "cousin" was Prolmann 
and he had claimed me as the daughter of an 
old friend. He was a man of spirit. 

"I, too, am suffering from an unproductive 
estate," she said. 

I flushed. It seemed to me that Prolmann 
need not have flaunted my poverty all at once. 
But I have learned since then that the great of 
the world hasten to speak of their limitation of 



In Paris 71 

fortune that nothing may be expected of them 
which they cannot perform. 

In a moment I was matching fortunes with 
this old lady, telling her of the hundreds of 
thousands of acres which were "tied up" until 
my children were all of age. Actually as the 
years went by I came to believe in these acres 
as a fortune. Who knows? It may be true 
that there is nothing in the world but what we 
ourselves create, that everything is in our own 
minds. We all, who think, have had expe 
riences which would seem to corroborate such 
a theory. 

Madame Vestrine was a distant cousin of 
Prolmann. A Hungarian by birth, who had 
passed a brilliant youth at many courts with 
her father, a famous diplomatist. She had 
married against her father's will, making a 
marriage, which she told me with entire sim 
plicity had been most disastrous. She had 
one child, a son, who was content to let the 
world slip by while he lived on his Hungarian 
estates, forever out of the world. I gathered 
from Madame that she considered him also in 
the light of a disaster. She hoped that my son 
would not so disappoint me. 

I had left Robert in Lausanne to be prepared 



72 The Highroad 

for college. It was Prolmann's advice that he 
should go back to America to college. A man 
should be educated in his own country, he said. 
In no other way could he understand his people. 

Madame Vestrine invited me to her house, 
or rather her apartment in the Rue Miromesnil, 
the following Thursday, when she would have 
some of her old friends between the hours of 
four and six. 

I'went, and here it maybe interesting to tell 
of the manage of this old aristocrat, whose birth 
gave her access to the Vienna court circle, and 
who, I learned later, had been one of the great 
ladies who had snubbed the young Empress 
and added so much to the misery of her un 
happy life. One could not understand so sim 
ple and kind a creature hurting any one at 
first. Later I came to see that presumption 
was the one thing which found her inflexible. 
It was always more or less a source of amuse 
ment to me that she did not always recognize 
it. She knew the ways of her caste, as all true 
aristocrats, but what she did not know were the 
ways of the casteless. 

Sooner or later some queer people found 
their way into her little salon, and it was I who 
weeded them out. 



In Paris 73 

This first afternoon, I was a trifle early, and 
1 discovered Madame talking to a curious pop- 
eyed Belgian, who was quite frankly relating 
an anecdote concerning the supposed claimant 
of the Bonapartist party. It was not a pleasant 
anecdote. 

"The worst of it was," the Belgian said, "it 
took place before his innocent children. The 
man is impossible." 

And then I made one of my early blunders. 

"His children?" I asked, as innocently as 
one of them. "I did not know that the Prince 
was married?" 

"Nor is he," was the reply. "Not even 
morganatically, I believe. He has put his 
children in a very unpleasant position and 
there was no necessity for it. It is impossible 
to vitiate the blood of the Bonapartes." 

This gentleman's card was on a table near 
me and I saw it then and many times later. 
His name was followed by the Roman numbers 
IV. They puzzled me then, but later I learned 
that an ancestor of his had been a friend of 
Henry IV. of France. The reason of the 
friendship would have supplied Mr. Stanley 
Weyman's readers with a long novel, had he 
ever had as free access to it as he had to 



74 The Highroad 



Sully's diary, out of which his best tales are 
made. It was a gay mixture of intrigue, com 
edy, farce and tragedy. It smelled of blood 
and musk and garlic after the fashion of all 
intimate things of Navarre. When it was over 
and I suppose the lady was done with and 
safely out of the way (married to the friend after 
the fashion of the day, for aught I know), 
Henry in his love and gratitude gave part of 
his name to the friend, and his children wear it 
to this day. 

I could but think how surprised Henry would 
be to see that the strain hadn't lasted better. 
But then there are the Bourbons! 

The apartment of Madame Vestrine might 
have been a little corner of one of the new 
apartment houses in New York, except that 
the conveniences were lacking. It consisted 
of a tiny salon, two bed-rooms, and in the 
place where a bath would be in New York was 
a tiny kitchen. The antiquated maid slept in 
the kitchen. 

The walls of the salon were covered by 
splendid tapestry woven in the Louvre before 
the days of the Gobelins. Gold threads as 
brilliant as if of to-day enriched the soft, 
old colors. Lace fit for a museum draped the 



In Paris 75 

mantle, on which stood alone an alabaster 
bust of Marie Antoinette, given as a souvenir 
to Madame Vestrine's great-grandmother, who 
had been the Queen's maid of honor before her 
marriage to Louis. 

On top of a writing-desk painted by some 
romanticist in garlands and fetes and varnished 
by the Martins, stood an old miniature, waxy, 
yellow, faded, of a young woman, that I knew 
must have been Madame in her youth. 

In half an hour the place was crowded to 
suffocation and we were given some dry sweet 
cakes and a glass of wine. 

There were few young people. Here and 
there was a young girl with her mother, but 
these did not stay long. They were chiefly the 
old-fashioned sort of young French girls. One 
I recognized as a girl I had seen at the convent, 
and I ventured to speak to her. She scarcely 
lifted her eyes from the floor and said only 
"Out," and "Non." 

Her mother gave me a half-suspicious glance 
and before my face walked the two or three 
steps to Madame Vestrine and asked her quite 
audibly who I was. I heard Prolmann's name, 
and the Marquise (I discovered she was that) 
came back and greeted me very affably. 



76 The Highroad 

"Do you know Madame 's daughter?" 

she asked her child. 

The girl gave her a quick upward look from 
her black eyes, and then satisfied of the correct 
answer, said: 

"Unpeu, Maman." 

When I asked Lucile concerning this girl, 
she said carelessly, "Oh, Lili! She is Gene- 
vieve's friend. They are inseparable and they 
plan all the mischief in the convent. She is a 
petit (liable, that Lili! I tried to keep her away 
from Genevieve, but there is no parting them." 

Lucile, I was beginning to see, had some of 
the elements of a prig. That makes a girl easy 
to manage in some ways, but difficult in others, 
and it is nearly always accompanied by a bit 
ter obstinacy. 

"She has a beautiful mother," I said. 

I repeated the story of the beauty of the 
Marquise to Genevieve, sure that it would 
reach the ears of her friend and certain also 
that Lili would place the remark in her turn 
where it would do the most good. The Mar 
quise's beauty had reached that stage where 
she would like to have it corroborated. 

You can buy almost anything in Paris, and 
when I went about furnishing my own apart- 



In Paris 77 

ment I used a hint that Madame Vestrine's 
room had given me. 

I could not afford to have so tiny a place. 
I was not great enough to suffocate people, 
nor could I hang priceless tapestries and lace 
on the walls. I found an apartment in the 
rue Marbeuf, and was about to take it when I 
discovered that I had alighted in the midst of 
the American Colony. I fled as from a pesti 
lence. At last, Madame Vestrine came to my 
rescue and established me on the second floor 
of a walled house in the Faubourg St. Germain. 
There were four rooms besides the kitchen and 
a hole under the roof for my servant. 

There was a little graveled court where a car 
riage could drive in, and altogether it was 
gloomy and correct. I was obliged to take a 
lease for two years, and then I was allowed to 
put in a bath-room (at a ridiculous expense) 
on the condition that when I left I was to tear 
out all the pipes and leave the walls as I found 
them. 

Madame Vestrine tried to persuade me to 
give up the mad project of a bath. She ex 
plained to me that the weekly bath could be 
brought in from the street (linen, soap and all) 
foi three francs fifty. But I explained that I 



7 8 ^he Highroad 

wanted my daughter to preserve her complex 
ion and the doctor had said daily baths 
would do it. She bowed to that. 

"I have heard," she said in her tired, meek 
way, "that some of the Americans and the 
actresses use baths of milk. Certainly it pays 
to keep the complexion." 

I made up my mind that as I could not fur 
nish my rooms magnificently, I would do the 
next best thing and furnish "temporarily" 
never forgetting that I was an American of 
the colonial school. 

I went to chintz and comfortable chairs and 
soft rugs for my foundation. I have discov 
ered that Frenchmen like comfort as well as 
anybody. I have sometimes thought that it is 
for this reason that they so often seek the 
society of the half-world tired of formal 
chairs at home. 

Then, in the old shops, and later at Hotel 
Druot, I bought anything that antedated 1865, 
candlesticks, some pictures, china, a minia 
ture or two all English. I even purchased a 
number of old English books. These were 
my treasures which were supposed to have fol 
lowed me from America. I even allowed 
Lucile to think so. 



In Paris 79 

My mother died the last year I was in Lau 
sanne, and my father wrote me a letter and 
sent me a crayon portrait he had had "en 
larged" from an old photograph. It was a 
dreadful thing, but it could not quite destroy 
my mother's maiden prettiness and gentleness 
of expression. 

I took the paper out of the hideous plaster 
and gilt frame in which it arrived and I care 
fully wiped out all of the drawing except the 
face, and that I smirched. Then I took it to a 
clever young artist in Paris, and told him that 
my only portrait of my mother had been de 
stroyed. I asked him to paint a portrait from 
this remnant. I brought to him an old-fash 
ioned silk gown, a lace fichu smelling of rose 
leaves, and a tiny satin shoe, all of which I 
purchased in a shop on the hill leading up to 
Montmartre. I told him that these were 
hers, "showing the delicate character of my 
mother, which I knew that his art could repro 
duce." 

He created a lovely creature sitting meekly 
behind the frame, which made Lucile start and 
cry out when she saw it: "Grandmamma!" 

I told her that her grandfather had sent me 
the picture. She looked at it a Long time, and 



8o The Highroad 

- * 

then turned to me with something almost 
pathetic in her face and voice. 

"I am so glad he did. I never understood 
before I think I must have dreamed things." 

I never asked what she had dreamed. I 
knew that she could remember the simple 
country life of my parents. I had glorified it 
for her by showing her this vision of her grand 
mother's youth which was not the less true to 
her that it was altogether false to fact. 



I Bring Lucile into View 81 



VII 



/ Bring Lucile into View 

Lucile was at this time eighteen years old, 
and, if the truth be told, a perfectly common 
place girl. Her only gleam of beauty was in 
the red shade her hair had caught from her 
father's, but that was not a real point. Her 
features were small, her teeth fairly good, her 
figure was acceptable. Had she been left in our 
native land and town she would have been 
conservatively happy with never a longing. 
She would have belonged to a literary club 
where the members sewed on commonplace 
"art work," while one of them read good litera 
ture something "solid," and watched the 
clock for tea time. 

I went to a meeting of one of those clubs in 
Fowlersburg not long after Lucile's marriage. 
I was being entertained with some awe, which 
I could see was not a little mixed with wonder. 
They all looked hard at me as if to discover 
my "trick," and I think they were disappointed 
that I did not talk about Lucile and her hus- 



82 'The Highroad 

band. They all remembered (to me) what a 
beautiful, interesting child she had been, and 
some of them, hoped to see her if they ever 
went to London or Ludovika, where her hus 
band resides as Ambassador. I hoped they 
might, but I doubted it. Lucile is not demo 
cratic. The wife of the new clergyman of 
Fowlersburg was president of the club. She 
was a large woman, reconciled to her figure 
because it resembled that of the late Queen 
Victoria. She came from eastern Virginia, 
the offspring of an English tobacco merchant 
of before the war and a Richmond woman. 
On the English side she was more than cordial 
to me as the mother-in-law of one of England's 
famous men and a Lord. On the Richmond 
side she was a little resentful that any Fowlers- 
burg woman from the looked-down-upon West 
Virginia should have achieved such glory. 

But she could and she did assert her English 
parentage. She finally said that a monarchy 
was the only proper form of government. As 
nobody else seemed likely to deny this asser 
tion, and as I myself thank the Fates hourly 
that I was born in a republic where I would 
alone have been a possibility, I asked her, 

"Why?" 



I Bring Lucile into View 83 

"Because," answered she, "Heaven is a 
monarchy." 

Now that is exactly the kind of logic 
which would have appealed to Lucile. I 
wanted to tell those good souls how she would 
have enjoyed herself with them, but I feared 
they would consider that I was boasting of her 
intellectuality, and I wished to leave no cor 
ners for comment to hang upon. 

Lucile's feet and hands, her neck and waist 
were what the shops call "stock sizes," as well 
as her mind and manners. 

Many mothers would have considered her 
hopeless but I knew better. The majority of 
the world is itself commonplace and resentful 
of anything out of the ordinary. 

Nobody knows how I dreaded the coming of 
Lucile, because I knew that she would bore 
me. I had grown accustomed in these years 
to my own society. I made plans and dreamed 
dreams all day long, dreams and plans for my 
children, but they were like counters to me. 

I suppose at heart I am an extremely selfish 
woman. I want everybody around me to be 
contented, gratified in every sense, from appe 
tite to vanity (vanity is the unnamed sense), 
but I am conscious that it is because unhappi- 



84 The Highroad 

ness jars and disturbs me. It is my instinct to 
make people near me happy as it is my instinct 
to keep my house clean. It is more comfort 
able. I wonder how many people are like me, 
and if they were to speak the truth would say 
that a million Chinese might be tortured 
without causing them a moment's pain, so the 
sufferers were welh out of sight and hearing? 

When the convent gate opened, I took up 
my Stendhal, my Gautier, my Maupassant and 
their companions and locked them away. 
That was before I knew that Lucile would 
never have read them in any case. Her favor 
ite author was Mrs. Humphry Ward, after she 
began to read at all, which was not until she 
was safely married. Before that she looked at 
the pictures in the English and American peri 
odicals. She had a natural taste for The Ladies' 
Pictorial and The Century. 

I had a pretty salon by the time she came to 
me, with an open fire, many shaded candles 
and plenty of fresh flowers. We had a dress 
ing maid in common, who slept out of the 
house. This woman was rather high priced, 
but she was most useful. She could do any 
thing from trimming a hat to making a plau 
sible excuse, and her manner toward Lucile was 



I Bring Lucile into View 85 

that of an old servant to a young princess. 
She gave an air to her charge. 

I hesitated a long time about the gowning of 
Lucile. (I wonder if these details are tedious. 
I know they would not have been to me in the 
days when I was seeking information. I am 
trying to make this book as practical as a cook 
book.) 

This was all gone over and arranged before 
she left the convent. For myself, I adore the 
garments of Paquin and Walles and Callot, but 
I have seldom had one. They are a little en 
Evidence. I know that American girls gowned 
by these people have achieved coronets, but 
they were rich girls, not poor girls whose 
mothers were feeling their way. 

I never saw a well-bred French girl in one of 
those beautiful toilets, I might say if I were 
"making up," but the fact is I have seen well- 
bred French girls in all sorts of horrors. They 
were never models for my original spirit. I 
made up my mind that Lucile should be a 
"type," and I chose that of 1830. It was I 
who made that radical change in the fashions 
which came about when the designs became 
known because Lucile was wearing them. 

Of course there was no "coming out" or 



86 The Highroad 

anything of that sort. I had made a few 
friends, for Prolmann's letters had given 
people to understand that I was one of them, 
and they speedily discovered that I was not 
like the usual American in Paris. Lili's 
mother had become almost an intimate, and 
she took me under her wing and allowed me 
to share some of her expenses, although she 
was a rich woman. Had I been childless, I 
think that I myself might have had something 
of a career at this time. Once I was tempted 
to leave Lucile in the convent another year, 
but I thoroughly comprehend the folly of that. 
She must come out young and fresh, before 
time and convent habits had made her into an 
old child. And then, to be truly successful in 
my role 'of mother, it must be the only one in 
which I was known. 

I succeeded in a little while in making Ma 
dame Vestrine' our every-day companion, as I 
am sure Prolmann intended. It was cheaper 
for her to dine with us than at home, and still 
more amusing for her to have us included in 
invitations where we supplied the carriage. 
And here, riding as I believed upon the wave 
of social success, I made the first of my serious 
blunders, 



I Feel My Way 87 



VIII 

/ Feel My Way 

The set in which the Marquise de Malpierre 
(Lili's mother) disported herself was a gay one. 

I have heard Americans speak of exclusive 
French society as "stupid," "formal." Noth 
ing could be farther from the truth, except the 
middle class English belief that all French 
great ladies have lovers. 

As a matter of fact there are very few lovers 
in the world. The connections between men 
and women are generally those of mutual 
interest of one sort and another. "Love" as 
the world knows it, is confined to the awaken 
ing to maturity in children and to some circum 
stances or temperaments which are a little 
abnormal. Habit can so delicately replace 
love that nobody discovers the difference until 
some crisis comes. These French women have 
men friends to whom they talk freely and from 
whom they hear much, but they give them 
nothing but talk. They are the finished flowers 
of modernity, they understand their own tem 
peraments and they understand the men about 



88 The Highroad 

them. And they have a lucid mother tongue 
in which they can tell them so without offense. 

After the weather became warm and all 
Paris went away to the country, I longed for 
my little house at Lausanne. 

At this opportune moment came an invita 
tion from the Marquise for me to spend some 
time with her at Varriere, her chateau in Nor 
mandy. She expressly asked that Genevieve 
should come also as Lili was heart-broken at 
leaving her. I hardly knew what to do. 
There were Robert and Jane to consider. 

I wrote to Prolmann and asked if the little 
house in Lausanne could be rented for the 
summer. 

The answer was so long in coming that I had 
an unpleasant feeling that I had received my 
just deserts, but it finally reached me, post 
marked Vienna. It was the letter of a sick old 
man. He told me that his own villa was 
empty, he should nevr return to it, and he 
offered it to me for as long as I chose. The 
housekeeper was there as caretaker. 

I made a flying trip to Lausanne and in 
stalled Madame Vestrine with the two younger 
children and Genevieve. Then I begged the 
Marquise to allow Lili to join them there. 



I Feel My Way 89 

Madame Vestrine would have some visits to 
make, but she was very glad of the villa. 

I discovered a governess for the children, a 
woman well recommended, as I believed that 
Madame Vestrine would regard the children 
simply as drawbacks to her enjoyment. In 
that I was mistaken. She had grown old 
enough to enjoy their society. Robert became 
her darling, and I consider much of his success 
in life due to her influence. Having seen the 
necessity of making a boy properly worldly in 
his youth, she impressed upon him, as she had 
neglected to impress upon her son, the value 
of living in the world. 

The Marquise and her mother welcomed 
Lili's departure. A grown girl who is not 
entirely ready for society and marriage is an 
anomalous thing. 

The house party at Varriere was made up of 
relatives and friends of the family, of whom 
the most important to me was Comte Julien 
Malpierre, the brother-in-law of my hostess. 

During the winter I had decided that this 
was the son-in-law that I coveted. 

The husband of the Marquise was a heavy, 
handsome man, who ate a great deal, talked a 
little, and spent most of his time on board a 



9O 'The Highroad 

yacht, where his companion was said to be a 
very plain intellectual French woman, the 
daughter of the physician in the village near 
Varriere. The connection had lasted for 
twelve years and nobody paid the slightest 
attention to it. When anybody in the chateau 
had a slight ailment, the doctor was called in 
and was treated with respect. The Marquise 
seemed to be unaware that he had a daughter. 

The men of the Malpierre family were con 
tradictions of the preconceived Frenchmen, 
being pure types of the blonde Franks who 
conquered the Gauls. They were tall, broad- 
shouldered and full of vitality. They delighted 
in all sorts of sport, and were like handsome 
Englishmen with the addition of ideal man 
ners. The Marquis talked with a deep rumble 
in his voice which reminded me of the bumble 
bees swinging home over the red clover in 
these fields. 

The Marquise's mother, a faded old doll 
over-dressed, adored him. He seemed to be a 
general favorite and there was mourning when 
he and his companion went off to the North 
Sea. 

His going left Julien as master of the house. 
I used to look at him and think that I could be 



I Feel My Way 91 

as silly over him as the Marquise's mother over 
his brother. 

Everything seemed to be going the way I 
desired it should. The Count treated me 
with a deference which caused the other 
guests to realize the situation was as I would 
have it, even before I became aware that my 
hopes were not in vain. 

Lucile was a lovely product of my artistic 
eye and the Paris dressmakers and her own 
adaptability to the conditions surrounding her. 
Any young thing cared for and at ease is 
pretty. We had accented the red in her hair 
by a wash which left it transparent, and every 
night Emelie, our maid, spent an hour over 
her complexion. My jewel wasn't of the first 
water, but it made a brave showing in my 
hands. 

The gaieties consisted of coaching (automo- 
biling was not yet in fashion), yachting (before 
the Marquis departed), dancing and theatricals. 
There were several other chateaux near by, and 
when our large party was not making an occa 
sion, the others were. 

The young French girl who is conspicuous 
and is not yet married, what somebody has 
called the " ' demi-vierge ," was just coming into 



92 'The Highroad 

vogue then, and there was more than one 
about. But Frenchmen are not interested in 
her as a possible wife unless she is an heiress 
even now. Lili was destined to be one of these 
a little later: the sort of French girl who has 
plenty to talk about, and who goes in for 
everything. But Lucile, even with her Ameri 
can blood, had none of this. She had proved to 
me that she was no fool, however, and that she 
had a good serviceable working mind. My 
grandfather used to talk a good deal about 
horse sense, and Lucile has it. Her practical 
turn has always been fairly well hidden, but it 
is the framework on which her whole life is 
built. And where is there a safer? 

A good many people were constantly coming 
and going at the chateau, and we had a succes 
sion of visits. 

Among others, came the Due and the 

Duchesse de B . The Duchess I had long 

wanted to meet, for she, too, was the product 
of audacity. I had thought that we might be 
friends. I saw later what a mistake that would 
have been. Each of us needed to be rock 
bound, to be bolstered by the solidest pillars of 
society. We could only injure each other. 
But I was learning then. 



I Feel My Way 93 

The B 's had a chateau about fifteen miles 

away, where they were said by the American 
journals to live like two turtle doves. Little 
as I even then believed the American journals, 
I did believe that. The Duke had married the 
Duchess practically with no dot at all because 
he was in love with her, they said. The Amer 
ican journals had been in the habit of printing 
her entire family history (with photographs) 
every time her name was mentioned. She was a 
daughter of a United States Senator, who should 
have come from Utah, but chose another state. 

He had lived a respectable life in a country 
village until he was the husband of a New Eng 
land wife, and the father of several children, 
when he suddenly took a fancy to elope with 
the village school teacher. Being a loving 
father, he took one of the children along. 
That always seemed to me a particularly pleas 
ing touch. 

He deserted the school teacher presently, 
changed his name and took up with another 
lady whose father (he was practicing law now) 
he was defending on a charge of stealing. 

After some years and the birth of the 
Duchess, they went through the formality of a 
marriage, and lived happily (the story ran) 



94 The Highroad 

until he was nominated for the United States 
Senate. Then the discarded school teacher 
told the whole story. And here comes the 
marvel. He didn't deny it. He reconciled 
his two families. The western state cheered 
him and the legislature elected him as the re 
markable man he was but "stuck-up" Wash 
ington would have none of his daughter. So 
she went to France and married into one of its 
oldest families. How she did it, I do not 
know; but after knowing her husband, I think 
almost anybody might have done it. 

They arrived at the chateau in their own car 
riage an hour before dinner. The Duchess 
with her maid went immediately to her apart 
ment and the Duke joined us where we sat 
after the teacups had been taken away. 

I had been talking to Lady Flora Hastings, 
whom I knew to be the daughter of a hundred 
earls, but found as uppish and pretentious 
as though her mother had been a housemaid. 
As I had no English friends, and as Prolmann's 
influence would hardly reach so far, I was try 
ing not to neglect my opportunities, but Lady 
Flora was giving me as disagreeable a time as 
possible while allowing me to understand that 
I was probably wasting my time. 



I Feel My Way 95 

Now there is some demon of tenacity in me 
which makes me hold on. I dislike being 
snubbed. I am in reality very thin skinned, 
I cringe from blows, but I simply cannot 
leave a field unwon. Had Lady Flora been 
fairly decent to me I should have forgiven her, 
but she challenged my powers. Sooner or 
later everybody will show you their weaknesses 
if you stand and wait, and after they have 
done that 

When the Due de B entered the room 

(a pale thin man with a dry, precise manner) 
Lady Flora gave a start as though she would 
rise to her feet, and then with a flush strug 
gling under her cosmetics, she settled back 
into her cushions again and actually began 
talking to me in an amiable manner. 

It is an open secret in England that the 
Duchess of Strood in "The Gay Lord Quex," 
was taken direct from Lady Flora, so she may 
be better understood by those who have seen 
or read that brilliant play. Mr. Pinero husked 
her, as it were, just as Mr. Sargent husks a per 
sonality when he paints it. 

The shell was beginning to crack a little for 
me, giving me a glimpse of the woman under 
neath. I took myself out of the way and the 



g6 The Highroad 

Duke and his old acquaintance had a little talk 
together quite naturally. 

It was all natural except that Lady Flora 
seemed never to have met the Duchesse de 

B , and even while they were inmates of 

the same house declined the honor seemingly, 
for the Marquise never found them together. 

The Duchesse de B was almost as artificial 

as Lady Flora, although of a very different style. 
She was undeniably pretty, but it was the pret- 
tiness of Queen Alexandra: the sort the pho 
tographer has no need to retouch. Her hair, 
arranged in such fashion as to give a similitude 
of abundance, was tinted a chestnut, the skin 
of the face and shoulders was as carefully 
cured as a choice bit of superfine leather. 
She was not old, she was comparatively young, 
but she had gone into the business of preserv 
ing herself while she was at her best. 

"Ah, my lady," I said to myself, "you are 
afraid!" 

She was near me before we went into the 
great dining-room, and the Marquise men 
tioned our names to each other and said that we 
were Americans. 

The Duchess turned at once toward me. I 
know that with her sharp intuitions she knew 



I Feel My Way 97 

me and my little pretences. Probably with 
her father's means of discovery she knew all 
about my "estates." A woman going about 
Europe with great estates "entangled" would 
interest a countrywoman like the Duchesse 
de B . 

"You are a Virginian, I believe," she said in 
a voice like honey. "Then you must know 
Mrs. Carey Page." 

Evidently the Duchess thought I was too 
poor an antagonist even to play with. Mrs. 
Carey Page was the cousin to everybody in 
Virginia. She lived in Washington half the 
year, where she chaperoned those girls who 
had old families and pretty faces. Mrs. Carey 
Page knew everybody. I had learned this 
from the Cincinnati Enquirer, which was sent to 
me by my father as a sweet reminder of home 
and friends. 

I was only to stammer a bit and be smiled 
at the Duchess evidently believed. Oh, no! 

"Mrs. Carey Page is my dear cousin," I said 
suavely. "Have I ever met you at her home 
in Washington?" 

"Probably," the Duchess said, still in her 
honey voice. 

And then we looked into each other's eyes 



98 'The Highroad 

with the deep seriousness of two cats facing 
each other on a disputed boundary fence. 

We retired with dignity, and the Duchess 
came my way no more. The amusing part 
came after Lucile's marriage, when we were 
in New York. 

Poor old Mrs. Carey Page with her frumpy, 
frowsy "Southern Set" heard that I was her 
cousin, and I was beset with letters from her, 
written on perfumed paper and sealed with a 
crest. 

Every now and then, even to this day, a girl 
who sings or recites begs to appear in my 
drawing-room, and says that she, too, is a 
"cousin of Mrs. Carey Page." 



I Am Asked for My Daughter's Hand 99 



IX 



/ Am Asked for My Daughter s Rand 

One afternoon I took a book (that looking 
glass of human nature, Rouge et Noir) and went 
into the old garden of the chateau. It was the 
hour when every one had retired for a siesta or 
for the particular form of work which they 
carefully concealed from their friends, be it 
beautifying their persons or keeping accounts. 
It usually goes by the name of "writing let 
ters." 

The old garden of the chateau was one of the 
things I envied with all my heart and soul. 
Sometimes the longing to have it mine, to have 
grown up with old marble satyrs and nymphs 
grinning and simpering behind the bushes, 
with old yellow marble seats on which my 
ancestors had sat for my every-day compan 
ions, sickened me so that I could not stay 
there. Whatever the world might give me, 
whatever my wits might acquire for me, I could 
never, never have that. 

I know that this feeling is impossible to the 
healthy and sensible. 



zoo tfhe Highroad 

Probably Mr. William D. Howells could dis 
miss me in a clever sentence about sentimental 
ists, but the sickness was as real as any realist's 
sea-sickness. 

My only pleasure was to sit and dream of the 
time when my children's children might have 
places like this. I revelled in the thought of 
Lucile's little boys and girls playing perhaps 
over these very formal paths, and talking about 
their great grandfather who was a great and 
gentle nobleman. Good birth brings a tran 
quillity of spirit that is a precious heritage. It 
is worth a millionaire's purchase for his de 
scendants. 

The Count came down one of these paths 
and after a bow and a question seated himself 
beside me. 

I said to him some flattering things sug 
gested by my reveries, although it may readily 
be imagined that I kept the core of them in 
my own heart. 

"It is a beautiful old place," he said. "We 
all love it. I wish there were more money to 
keep it up." 

"But I thought " I said before I reflected. 

"That my sister-in-law, the Marquise was 
very rich? That is true, but she has no son. 



1 Am Asked for My Daughter's Hand 101 

It is a tradition that Verriere shall go with the 
title. Naturally my brother and sister will 
enrich their own daughter with their fortune. 
I shall doubtless, or my children, come into 
Verriere. 

"I am sure," I said, "that there could be no 
prouder task for a woman than to make this 
place beautiful for her son." 

The Count took my hand and kissed it in 
quite the old manner. I had a rush of maternal 
affection for him. He was handsome and he 
seemed sincere. 

There was a pause, during which we each felt 
that we were drawing long breaths. 

"Madame, lam sure that you will not mis 
understand me when I say that I hope that it 
will be the children of your beautiful daughter 
who will inherit Verriere." 

For an instant my cheeks burned. There 
are some things which we Americans never 
say. I wonder why. I suppose I would be 
told that it comes from Puritanism in the early 
settlers. But those Puritans were English, and 
they were hard-headed, simple folk who had 
large families and wrote down some curious 
things in their diaries. As for the Virginians, 
they were of a notoriously easy manner of 



IO2 T'he Highroad 

speech, yet their descendants consider it in 
delicate to mention posterity. Not only con 
sider it, but feel it, indelicate. I had that 
instant been thinking of Lucile's children until 
I could almost feel their soft little hands, but 
when Julien spoke I was almost resentful. It 
hurried my words. 

"I suppose," I said, "you are making a pro 
posal for the hand of Lucile. " 

"I am, Madame, on one condition. It is 
best to be frank, is it not? It is necessary that 
the bride who comes to Verriere shall be rich. 
However much I love your daughter I should 
be false to my race, to the trust of my ances 
tors, if for my own selfish happiness during a 
few years, I condemned my children to pov 
erty. Were I so reckless I should not be 
worthy to be the husband of your daughter. 
Is it not so?" 

His manner was winning, and his argument 
was good. 

"I am of the old families of France, Ma 
dame. There are too few of us now. I am, as 
my ancestors have been for two hundred years, 
an agnostic. We are nominally Catholics 
because it is necessary that the lower classes 
shall have an example. But to me my im- 



I Am Asked for My Daughter's Hand 103 

mortality means the immortality of my race. 
I shall live again in my line, and I want them 
to be people of the great world still holding 
their lands and their peasants unto many 
generations." 

"You do my child a great honor." 

"I love her. I want her for my wife. It has 
always been my hope to be able to marry a 
wife who would be not only the mother of my 
sons, but my beloved. I am not like my 

brother ' He threw out his hands in 

more or less contempt. 

"Let me think," I said, and we sat there in 
the vine-hooded recess, the little stupid lizards 
running over the hot stones, and a cicada call 
ing out its news of coming autumn. There was 
a lattice behind us matted with vines, and a 
seat quite hidden from ours on the other side. 
The way up to this seat was over the sod, and 
therefore noiseless. It was with a start that I 
heard voices coming from there. I put out my 
hand involuntarily and touched that of Julien, 
and made to rise. He held me and smiled. 
Evidently they had stopped but to pick a rose 
from the climber. 

It was Lady Flora and the Due de B . 

"This old garden is so neglected, that I am 



IO4 The Highroad 

sure they will not mind our having a great 
bunch. They will look so lovely on my white 
gown at dinner." 

Now surely that conversation sounded inno 
cent enough, and as though en passant. It 
seemed a pity for the Count and me to break 
up our tete-a-tete at this stage. Smiling at 
each other, we sat quite still. 

"Oh, Henri!" were the next words, "How 
can we bear it!" 

"It must be borne. There is no other way." 

I could see in my mental vision the dry little 
shrug which went with the words. 

"Oh, Henri, how can you say so? We are 
both miserable. You with that American, and 
I with a man old enough to be my grandfather. 
Why should love and our own lives be denied 
us? Why?" 

"Because, my dear Flora," the Duke said, 
"we are not in a position to elope. We must 
make the most of it as it is. We see each 
other." 

"But how, how?" she interrupted passion 
ately. "Like this, where I cannot even " 

"But, my dear, you are " 

At this I arose, but Julien drew me oack to 
the seat. 



I Am Asked for My Daughter's Hand 105 

"Impossible!" his lips framed 

I looked a scarlet protest, but really I could 
not clatter out over the stone walk and let 
them know we had heard. If it had been only 
I but Julien was in the place of a host to 
them. It would not do. 

I put my fingers up to my ears and sat side- 
wise so that Julien might not see that the tips 
of them did not very seriously impair my hear, 
ing. 

Lady Flora had not oeen kind enough to me 
for me to wish to spare her, for one thing. 
For another, I had never heard a real conver 
sation of this sort and I was curious about it. 
I wanted to know if they talked like the people 
in novels. Lady Flora did. It was because 
she did it so often to so many men that Mr. 
Pinero caught her and made her into a type. 
But of course in reality she lacked some of 
the smartness of silliness with which the play 
wright endowed her. 

"What is this?' she asked. "I want again 
the happiness of the old days in Ajaccio. I 
want the rest of my life to be spent with you, 
only with you in some spot sunshiny with our 
affection." 

"On what?" asked the Duke. 



io6 The Highroad 

"Had you married nobody, or even a wife 
with money, it could be done." 

The utterly commonplace tone of this remark 
of Lady Flora's following the high-flown non 
sense of the other, almost made me smile 
before I realized that Julien did not know that 
I could hear. 

He grinned. 

They kept at it for half an hour, while we 
sat there afraid to move. Lady Flora seemed 
to be always urging the Duke to a divorce, to 
desert his wife and come to England to do 
anything so that she could be near him. To 
her overtures he was cynical sometimes, polite 
sometimes, and negative always. I fairly 
gloated over that. He was almost snubbing. 

After they had gone away, Julien took my 
hands gently from my ears. I afterwards 
found it extremely useful not to have heard 
that conversation. Had Julien known that I 
had done so he must have wondered at my sub 
sequent conduct. If silence is the goddess of 
the lucky, deafness is her cup-bearer. 

"I feared I should recognize their voices," I 
said 

"It was that of a man who feels that he has 
given his wife more than he receives. It is 



I Am Asked for My Daughter's Hand 107 

right that a husband and wife should be equal 
at least in France. A woman is foolish who 
puts herself in the position of a dependent/' 

I looked over the garden again, but the little 
children of Lucile were not there any more 
They had faded away like the rainbows we see 
sometimes in reflections from quite common 
bits of glass Already I was laughing at my 
self for thinking that I could do it. And sup 
pose I could? Would it be worth while? 

"Let me tell you this to-morrow," I said. 
"I am a little upset now. I am glad you have 
been so frank with me. It is a strange idea to 
an American parent, but you are right I am 
quite sure you are right." 

"Then you will tell me now that I may be 
sure of speaking to Lucile to-morrow?" He 
was holding my hand as we stood by the little 
garden door. 

"Oh," I laughed, "almost sure. I would like 
first to tell you exactly her fortune. And do 
you not want the family lawyers to verify it?" 

"Why," he asked practically, "should you 
deceive us? The family will ask that but that 
need be only a last formality. I want to speak 
to my lovely Lucile, my pretty white flower, 
my dainty little bit by Nattier." 



io8 'The Highroad 

He was quite the poet and lover. 

I went into the house and I was wondering 
how sure I was of Lucile and an idea that 
was growing in my mind began to fill it. I felt 
as wise as old Talleyrand. 



Lucile's Mind 109 

X 

Lucile s Mind 

I had a task before me and I hardly knew 
how to carry it out. I sat down before my 
open window and looked across the country 
which had suddenly ceased to be interesting to 
me. Only a few hours before, it had been 
almost my future home. My grandchildren 
were to play and ride and perform the tasks of 
life here, on this soil, in this air. In time they 
would become part of it. In a thousand years, 
I had thought, the lump of West Virginia clay 
that was I, would be in thousands of French 
men leavening them, I had hoped. The his 
tory of France would be different because I had 
been. Napoleon could say no more. 

And now, thank heaven, I know where to 
draw out of the game! But what was I to say 
to Lucile? I intended, of course, that she 
should refuse Julien. Nothing less would 
leave the child her assurance. To be given up 
and never to be told the reason might be 
a tonic to some strong characters, but not to 
Lucile. She was practical and not particularly 



no I'he Highroad 

sensitive, but she was not a Damascus blade. I 
knew her limitations. 

At first I thought of telling her the truth, 
but she would never be the same again if she 
once knew that she was pretending that I was 
pretending. It might, too, make a difficulty 
in the future. I brushed my hair and thought. 
Anyway, I need do nothing to-night. 

But I did. 

We went down to dinner and ate the daily 
French dishes, which are stale and stupid 
enough. The English have given the French 
a reputation for being wonderful cooks 
because they know how to make bread and 
mayonnaise, and have the wit to keep fresh 
olive oil in the house. In reality French cook 
ing is only really fine when it is done for 
Americans. The French are too economical 
in their kitchens. 

The talk was smarter than usual. The 
Count in particular was brilliant of eye and 
ready of tongue. Lady Flora was full of the 
sort of mildly vicious epigram which she had 
learned from the various men she had known 
not wisely, but too well. You can always see 
how men regard a fool by the reflections of 
them the fool gives out. 



Lucile's Mind 1 1 1 

"I heard some one say once," Lady Flora 
said, "that a diplomatist did not need to know 
the secret of his adversary. He need only 
pretend that he knew it. Everybody has 
one." 

"Do you think, then," I asked, "that it is 
fair to use a knowledge of another's secret for 
your own end?" 

"In diplomacy, as in love and war, all is 
fair," she said with an air of being original and 
witty. 

Two hours later I sat beside Lady Flora on 
the sofa where fehe had spread her white lace 
gown, and I wasted little time coming to my 
point. 

"I expect to bring my daughter to England 
next season." I spoke as though I were sure 
that this was the piece of information she had 
been waiting for. 

She put up her lorgnette and looked at me. 
It was a beautiful jewel. The handle was a 
stem of roses worked in diamonds, emeralds 
and rubies. I took time thoroughly to exam 
ine it. 

"I wonder," I said, "if I shall meet the 

Due de B there. I hear that he is an old 

friend &*, v ur husband." 



H2 The Highroad 

"My husband," she began, and she put 
down the lorgnette. 

"You must sometimes find it very lonely 
with no young people near you. I suppose it is 
for that reason you are away from England so 
much." 

My tone was full of sympathy. I took the 
lorgnette out of her hand in a quite familiar 
fashion. We were like two dear friends chat 
ting there together on the tete-a-tete. It was a 
long conversation and most impersonal. I 
spoke more freely to Lady Flora than to any 
one I had known since Prolmann. I told her 
how I pitied women whose husbands were jeal 
ous and disagreeable, and how I would always 
stand by my friends. A woman who was tied 
for life to a man like that had enough to bear 
without the censoriousness of the world. I 
kept moralizing. It happened that few women 
were happy enough to spend their lives in 
some of the earth's sunny spots with those 
they loved. I was almost eloquent over that. 
Lady Flora became a little pale, but she was 
agreeable, and we arrived at something like a 
sudden intimacy, which culminated in an invi 
tation to Lucile and me for a house party in 
Scotland that autumn at Lady Flora's magnifi- 



Lucile's Mind 113 



cent place. "I suppose," she said, "I must 
ask Comte Julien also." 

"I do not know," I answered frankly, "Lu- 
cile has the American girl's privilege; I shall 
not try to influence her in any way. And, 
from all I hear, I doubt the advisability of 
American girls marrying Frenchmen. And 
the Frenchmen, too, would be happier with 
women more like themselves." 

Actually the woman was so stupendously silly 
that she brightened at that as though I had 
paid her a compliment. She had been thor 
oughly frightened when she understood that I 
knew her intrigue. I could see her moistening 
her lips, and she had at once begun to placate 
me, to take me into her circle, to make herself 
too valuable to me to be ruined by me. She 
was even weaker and sillier than I had thought 
her; but she loved to hear the suggestion that 

de B would be happier with a woman of 

his own sort. She wanted somebody to notice 
(what was not entirely true) that he was un 
happy with his wife. She did not quite believe 
de B . 

After Lucile had gone to her room I followed 
her in my negligee, and discovered her on her 
knees saying her prayers. I have often won- 



H4 The Highroad 



dered how long a modern woman keeps up that 
habit. It is one that was never taught to me. 
Am I vulgar as I laugh at the remembrance 
that my childish nightly formality was washing 
my bare feet? I gave that up when I began to 
wear shoes. 

I waited respectfully until the praying was 
over, and Lucile, looking very demure and pretty 
in her lace-trimmed gown with her reddish hair 
in two smooth braids, was between the sheets. 

"Is it anything, Mamma?" she asked. 
"Didn't you like the way my hair was done? 
The Duchess's maid taught it to Emelie." 

"I think you will never care to have it 
dressed so again, when I tell you what I have 
come to say," I said gravely. 

Lucile sat up. 

"What is it?" 

"My dear," I said as I took her hand. "I 
have tried to keep all knowledge of the evil of 
the world from you, but unhappily it cannot be 
altogether shut out of any life." 

Lucile did not look frightened, but puzzled, 
and then her face cleared. 

"Isn't the Duchess altogether comme ilfauf?" 
she asked, "Do you know, Mamma, I thought 
so!" 



Lucile's Mind 115 



It was my turn to gasp. 

"To begin with they told stories about her 
at the convent. You know she was educated 
there. Girls said their aunts and sisters had 
said that in their day she was always toadying 
to girls who were a little silly and would invite 
her home with them. They said her mother 
was quite uneducated, and used to pick at her 
teeth r 

Oh these innocent children of ours! 

"Was that all?" I asked meekly. 

"No," said Lucile, "of course, Mamma, I 
should speak of this only to you. They said 
she got herself called 'the rich American' and 
in that way made some friends and came to 
know the Duke, and he was attracted by her 
had had" Lucile looked away and blushed 
"kissed her, and not like a lady at all you 
know." 

"You wouldn't care to be married like 
that?" 

"No, oh, no!" she said with horror. "Of 
course one would like to care a great deal for 
the man one married, but to have him care for 
you like that oh, that is so disrespectful. I 
like everything comme il fout" Lucile fin 
ished loftily. 



n6 The Highroad 

"And you certainly would not wish to marry 
a man who had that sort of "caring" for an 
other woman?" 

"Never!" 

"Then, my dear, I must tell you some 
thing. I have discovered that the Count 
has been attracted by the Duchess. It is 
a thing no young girl should know, but I tell 
you because before discovering it, I had told 
Julien that he might propose for your hand.. 
Of course you will not tell him that you know 
this." 

Lucile looked positively ugly. Her nostrils 
flared flat, and her complexion became a dull 
red. I held my breath. What blood had I 
called out? What was there back behind us 
that made a woman look like that? Presently 
the blood went back. 

"I'll not tell him," she said. "Do you 
think I would let him know that I knew my 
self the rival of an old married flirt? And 

what can you expect? Her mother " 

Lucile threw out her hands in an expressive 
gesture. 

What do girls speak of as they pace the 
peaceful garden walks in their sheltered 
schools? 



Lucile's Mind 117 



"My dear," I said, "the Count is our host. 
You will remember les convenances?" 

"I am an American. I do not care for him. 
An American can always say that." And then 
she turned over in bed. 

I drew a long sigh of relief. 



n8 The Highroad 



XI 

A Glimpse of England 

I actually do not know in what terms Lucile 
refused to become the wife of Julien. I only 
know that I felt I could trust her to make her 
refusal graceful and as the result of her own 
wish. When it was over, I spoke to Julien in a 
shocked and sorry way. I think there were 
tears in my eyes. I did feel it. I had wanted 
him, and I had wanted that beautiful and 
charming place for mine. We were sympatica, 
Julien and I, and it was with a nervous heart 
ache that I relinquished him. It was not so 
much to Lucile. Talk, you romancers, as 
much as you like. Love is not paramount in 
the heart of the average girl. Her pride had 
been wounded and she was angry, but the con 
vent years had given her a peaceful mask. 
She seemed distressed in a well-bred way dis 
tressed that she could not love the man who 
loved her. It was admirable. And I? I lay 
awake at night almost knowing what hysterics 
meant in my balancing between tears over the 



A Glimpse of England 119 

lost opportunity and laughter over the comedy 
of it all. 

Julien behaved admirably but I saw that we 
must go. The Marquise could not understand 
us, and she said so. She felt that I was giving 
Lucile too free a rein. It frightened her. She 
said she thought she must bring Lili home. If 
the American ideas permeated my entire fam 
ily, there would be no means of judging to 
what extent Lili was already contaminated by 
them. I sorrowfully agreed with her. I was 
not in a position to make enemies anywhere, 
but I mentioned that Madame Vestrine was not 
an American, and as having Lili at home would 
have seriously put her out, the child was 
allowed to remain, thus giving me a continued 
hold upon the family. I could see by the 
shrewdness in the Marquise's eyes that she was 
holding me also. Genevieve might be more 
amenable to reason, and after the American 
fashion, one girl would be as great an heiress 
as the other. 

I could see the curiosity all about us when 
we took our departure for Homburg. Those 
of the party who had been inclined to think us 
nobodies had changed their minds. To refuse 
the Count was a thing that only those sure 



I2O 'The Highroad 

of themselves could afford. After all my 
defeat became triumph. 

We went to Homburg because Lady Hastings 
was going there. Being two women alone, we 
did not go to the great hotel where the then 
Prince of Wales stayed, except for a day and 
night. He had already arrived and Homburg 
was filling up with the few friends who accom 
panied him and the many who wished to 
appear to have done so. Besides, there were 
the Americans. 

A number of years ago, a certain cousin of 
Queen Victoria was a gay young soldier. It was 
hard to realize it that autumn at Homburg, for 
his lined, wrinkled, rather foolish old face had 
little suggestion of either beauty or gallantry. 
It is probable that had he not been surrounded 
by the glamour of royalty he would have been 
like dozens of his race, only a thick-headed, 
thick-skinned, middle class young man in that 
long ago. But he was the grandson of that 
puissant king, whom our ancestors derided, 
George the Third. At any rate he had all the 
privileges of gallantry and bravery and beauty, 
and he fell in love with a rather heavy young 
actress in a minor role at one of the London 
theaters. She almost died with delight. Vic- 



A Glimpse of England 121 

toria had not been long enough on the throne 
then for the traditiori of the splendor of being 
a king's favorite to have died away. Of course 
the young soldier wasn't a king, but he was 
near enough for a poor young actress. He had 
a suite of rooms in the old St. James palace, 
where his widowed mother also lived, and with 
the delicacy which has always distinguished his 
race he took the actress there. Nobody 
thought much of it. William had made Lon 
don pretty well acquainted with the train of 
ladies whom he honored with his attentions, 
and George the Fourth had preceded him. 
Even Queen Victoria probably considered it a 
necessary whiling away of the Royal Duke's 
time until some princess came out of the school 
room. It was just as her own father had spent 
his time before it became necessary to marry. 
But one day the Duke's mother wanted to go 
to drive, and the actress had taken her car 
riage. She sent for her son and she said things 
that hurt his feelings. He went out and told 
everybody about it, and drank a great deal, 
and then he went up to talk to the actress. 
She told him that he could make it all right by 
allowing her to call herself Mrs. Fitz and going 
through a marriage ceremony. Of course it 



122 'The Highroad 

would not be legal because he was a royalty, 
but it would serve. "So by this time," old Gen 
eral Steyn who told me the story said, "the 
Duke being oblivious to all except the fact that 
he wanted his boots off and peace, the lady, 
who had prepared for just this, married him." 

The strong-minded lady kept him married. 
She was the man of the family and even defied 
the Queen herself, when that stern moralist 
wished to break up her rapidly increasing 
home circle. The son of the actress was a 
colonel in the English army, and he followed 
royalty about and gave some Americans a taste 
of the bliss of shaking his hand and pour 
ing wine for the great-grandson of a king. 
They seemed to find it thrilling that season at 
Homburg, although the king was a poor old 
lunatic and the great-grandson was ill-born. 
One can see photographs of Americans taken 
with the Royal Duke's son, at the Homburg 
photographer's even now. They probably send 
them home as a proof that they are in the really 
smart English set. The colonel's wife massages 
faces on Bond Street in London now, I believe. 

Poor funny old English royalty! It always 
has been funny since the Stuarts left, and 
nobody knows it better than some of the 



A Glimpse of England 123 

English nobles. But I didn't know it when I 
reached Homburg that autumn. When we 
went into the hotel I saw a man in scarlet liv 
ery standing by a little table on which lay H. 
R. H.'s Visitor's Book. He had been keeping 
it since early spring in Copenhagen. It must 
be confessed that the names in it were not all 
distinguished; one or two weic frankly Jewish. 
Sometimes an old friend had written a line or 
two. I looked at it, hesitated as though I 
would write my name, and then decided not, 
for the benefit of the servant. But I have writ 
ten my name since on bits of paper which are 
actually read by the Royalties themselves. 

When I saw the Americans at Homburg, I 
almost ran. Many of them were people of 
position in New York. There was one woman, 
who had endured there in the long ago some 
thing almost like bellehood. Her father had 
been a famous hotelkeeper. She had married an 
Englishman of good family, not very well off, 
and they were among those who are asked 
about to be amusing, but whose real position is 
one which the newspaper writers who keep her 
photographs before the public could never 
understand. She is an "American," and that 
is practically her entire distinction. 



124 We Highroad 



But how ignorant I was of all this then! I 
felt that these people could annihilate me, 
could tear my pretensions to flimsy rags which 
would never cover me. So they could, if they 
had known enough. My very shakiness kept 
me well balanced Like a tight-rope walker, 
I could not afford to make the slightest blun 
der. Consequently Lucile and I were hardly 
seen until Lady Flora arrived. Then we went 
over to the hotel and lunched with her on the 
veranda. 

"It is not quite the thing to do, ' Lady Flora 
said shrugging her shoulders, "'but I can do it. 
I like to see the people when I come to a place 
like this." 

"I hope," I said almost timidly, "that 
people will not hear that Lucile has just re 
fused Comte Julien Malpierre. It would sur 
round us with gossip, make us conspicuous. It 
would be very unfortunate." 

Lady Flora opened her mouth as though to 
speak. I saw a gleam of relief in her eyes. 
At last her stupid brain had caught an excuse 
for having us. If we were a bad bargain, she 
did not want her world to discover it. After 
all we were presentable. 

A dozen men and one or two women came 



A Glimpse ^England 125 

up to speak to Lady Flora. Sometimes she 
introduced one or two shortly, English man 
ners not requiring that she should do so. But 
I could hear quite audible inquiries concerning 
us, and Lady Flora's invariable answer that 
we were "some of those Americans who had 
lived in Europe for a generation or two, inter 
married and all that, ye know. Some connec 
tions of old Madame Vestrine's. Millionaires. 
They have just refused Julien Malpierre." 

"Evidently tired of the continentals," one 
astute gentleman said. "That shows good 
taste." 

Now when a family has rejected a particu 
larly good match, it seems to show that they 
have a treasure that they are in no hurry about 
disposing of. Lucile was talked about at once, 
examined, criticized. She looked like a piece 
of Dresden china because she was artistically 
complete, but everybody agreed that there 
was nothing so tremendously wonderful about 
her personally, so it must be the fortune that 
made her so valuable. 

A fortune is more valuable any time than 
a delightful personality, whatever novelists 
may say. Why do we value the personality of 
another? Simply and only for the pleasure it 



126 I'be Highroad 

can give us. A great deal of money without 
any drawbacks can give more pleasure than 
anything else. Beauty has no place in the 
running against it. Of course, a monstrosity 
and a fool are drawbacks which no money can 
really overcome, but Lucile was neither of 
these. 

Our manner was good, and within a week I 
was serenely unconscious of Americans. We 
moved in that charmed set which had hardly 
been touched by America in those days. We 
were, according to Lady Flora, people who 
had lived abroad for a generation or two. I 
even spoke to one of the great whom I came 
to know, of my "Godfather" Prolmann, giving 
him his discarded title; and I did laugh a little 
when I ventured to tell of the summers I had 
spent on his yacht. I found one old nobleman 
very much interested when he heard that Ma 
dame Vestrine was with my other children at 
Lausanne. He had known her as a girl in Vienna 
when he was a young attache* there. 

Actually, within two weeks people were 
wondering a little why a person of so much 
importance as I should be about with Lady 
Flora Hastings. Lady Flora was fashionable, 
but hardly the friend one would have expected 



A Glimpse of England 127 

a woman of my evident character and position 
to have chosen. It was finally put down to 
Lucile's youthful taste. But I clung to Lady 
Flora. Nothing better was in sight. We 
might have done a great deal for ourselves now 
had we really had the fortune, but a few pitiful 
hundreds of pounds a years was all we had for 
everything. 

I had not yet seen Lady Flora's husband, but 
I knew that he was old, and I gathered from 
Lady Flora's conversation that he was a man 
with many interests separate from hers. She 
spoke of him as being jealous, but that, I 
already knew, was the purest fiction. One of 
the most amusing things in my amusing life 
has been the contemplation of the casual liar. 
Somebody has said that a liar needs a long 
memory. More than anything else, a liar needs 
to be a thorough artist in human nature. The 
common liar takes a character built on firm 
lines, and gives to it an attribute or an act 
which would be as impossible to that particular 
person as song would be to a crow. 

I gathered a fairly correct idea of Mr. Her 
bert (he had no title) from his wife, and during 
all our stay in Homburg I was carefully learn 
ing the way into his regard. He was old 



128 The Highroad 

according to Lady Flora, almost seventy. 
Whether or not that is age depends upon cir 
cumstances. 

We did not meet the Great Personage who 
has made the Homburg of to-day. We were 
not conspicuous enough for that, although I 
suppose we are the only Americans above the 
tourist class who ever went to Homburg who 
did not come home and give that as one of 
their experiences. 

Homburg is a hot, not very pretty, little 
place, and there was none of the gay, romantic 
air which always surrounds a Latin resort. We 
made some good acquaintances, and before 
Lucile became in any sense an old story I sent 
her and Emelie, our old maid, over to Lau 
sanne, and I went to London. There were 
some things I wanted to arrange. 

If there is a more forlorn and lonely place 
on earth than London in August, I do not 
know where it can be. The pavements are 
torn up, the streets small, the people hide 
ous. There is never, never, a time when Paris 
is not delightful. In the summer in the dullest 
days, if you are the possessor of but a handful 
of copper sous, you may take one of the little 
boats and go up the Seine and be amused all 



A Glimpse of England 129 

the way. A little vine-clad balcony at a river 
restaurant will be like a scene in a theater. 
A girl in a white frock with a red hat will lean 
over a table to talk to a young man. The 
French are artists from the highest to the 
lowest. If I am ever an outcast, with not a 
soul to speak to in all the world, I shall go to 
Paris, and be comparatively happy in the con 
templation of joyous, cynical, artistic life. 
But London is as stodgy as her putty-like 
bread. 

I went to a boarding-house near Kensington 
Gardens because I wanted to save every 
penny. I wish I could stop long enough to 
describe that manage. The landlady deserves 
a long character study. She was the widow of 
a fishmonger "in the city," she always said, 
and she had an imagination that was truly re 
markable. She attended auctions, and her 
house was filled with plunder of the most re 
markable description. She declared that this 
was made up of heirlooms from her uncle, who 
had died in India and left a great fortune which 
she had been cheated out of. Her pretences 
were so transparent that they hurt me. After 
all she was something like me. I wondered if 
people could see through me as easily. 



130 I'he Highroad 

There was an old couple who had lived in 
Canada for some years and thought it the 
America of to-day, there were too an Arme 
nian, who was devoted to the cause of his people 
(we heard a good deal of Armenia in those 
days), and a negro from the French Islands 
who was studying in London at the expense 
of his government. 

I laughed at myself as I sat by this colored 
man every day at dinner, and realized that I 
had no feeling of repulsion for him at all. We 
conversed quite amiably. And yet even in 
Fowlersburg I should have left a table in hor 
ror at the thought of eating with a negro. 
Here of course I said nothing about my na 
tionality; I was a simple meek little woman, 
and I think they believed me a governess out 
of employment. 

One day I put on my most governess-like air 
and went down to the office of one of the big 
illustrated weeklies. This was long, long before 
the day of the exploiting of women through 
the press, as we now know it in America. In 
those days it was only royal or criminal women's 
faces which were common in print. I fancy 
sometimes that that is one of the things which 
the world owes to me. 



A Glimpse of England 131 

I took with me a large and most beautiful 
picture of Lucile, which had been made by a 
young Parisian photographer who has since 
become famous. It gave her all the charms 
she lacked and accented those she pos 
sessed. I represented to that weekly news 
paper editor that I should like to supply 
him now and then with society notes. I 
offered my wares very cheap. I had here 
a photograph of Mademoiselle Lucile, the 
god-daughter of all of Prolmann's titles, a 
great heiress, whose father had been an 
American, and who had recently rejected 
Comte Julien Malpierre 

The editor of the paper almost laughed in 
my face. It seems that he had a correspond 
ent at Homburg who had casually mentioned 
the Malpierre story. He said he knew it 
all. He gave me ten shillings for the photo 
graph. 

When I saw the stupendous, amazing story 
of our wealth and glory which accompanied its 
publication I was frightened. Lucile was said 
to have half a million acres in the "fertile 
tobacco lands of Virginia." She was an 
"American Princess." 

I dreaded a contradiction from Fowlersburg. 



13 2 'The Highroad 

But I doubt much if a copy of the English 
paper ever reached there, and if it had, the in 
habitants were of the order of mind that 
believes what it sees in print even when it is 
known to be untrue. 



We Visit Lady Flora Hastings 133 



XII 

We Visit Lady Flora Hastings 

The photograph of Lucile made a mild sen 
sation. In launching a young girl advertising 
of the right sort undeniably is of advantage. 
Those who cannot get into the newspapers 
or have better ways of reaching the public 
they wish to impress argue differently, but I 
know of what I speak. As a matter of course, 
for a woman who is a nobody to have her pic 
ture labelled "society woman" in the columns 
of the yellow journals means nothing. It is 
sometimes a distinct disadvantage to a woman 
who is hovering on the outer edge of the inner 
set. And a bad picture, one which shows her 
in an unattractive fashion, is worse than none 
at all. But advertising of the right sort pays. 
After all what is fashion? It exists entirely in 
the minds of the world. If the world agrees 
that you are famous or fashionable, you are so, 
and most decidedly if it ignores you you are 
not. You can become that intangible thing 
fashionable only by impressing the public in 



134 tte Highroad 



one way or another. It is surprising to me 
that the use of personal photographs was so 
long in coming. It was very lucky for Lucile 
that it was so, as to-day or even a year or two 
after my experiment, her picture would have 
been lost in the crowd of "beauties" that 
adorned the pages of all the weeklies and the 
cheap monthlies. Naturally when I saw the 
picture I was indignant to all my friends, thus 
calling their attention to it. To the Mal- 
pierres I was fairly humble, and I begged them 
to believe that neither Lucile nor I had had the 
bad taste to mention the affair. It was at 
Breck Castle that I saw the effect of it. We 
were regarded with curiosity. There was no 
quiet slipping-in for us. 

Mr. Herbert having married late in life (and 
a fool) considered all women poor creatures, 
and he rather enjoyed what he considered the 
fact. It took them out of the realm of serious 
things with claims to being considered seri 
ously. He went about his affairs almost as 
though his wife had no existence. She was 
indulged in every way, but she knew that if she 
gave him any cause, his treatment of her would 
be absolutely free from sentiment. She lived in 
a sort of nervous terror that some day he might 



We Visit Lady Flora Hastings 135 

find a pretext to divorce her, because she had 
not fulfilled expectations in providing him with 
an heir. He hated his cousin's son who would 
succeed him, while believing firmly in primo 
geniture and the rights of the family name. 
This fear of a divorce actually seemed at times 
to drive Lady Flora into doing questionable 
things. I suppose the great danger she ran 
fascinated her, just as physical danger some 
times fascinates. 

Mr. Herbert and I became friends after a 
fashion. I am a very conservative, modest, 
unassuming woman who can take a fairly intel 
ligent interest in almost anything; consequently 
I always get along with men. There is noth 
ing about me to dislike. I ask nothing of them 
and I make them comfortable when they are 
near me. 

It was at Breck Castle that we met Lord 
Horton. 

Lord Horton was at this time under a tem- 
f porary cloud politically and he had leisure to 
go a-visitingas it were, something he had had 
little time to do during the years he was mak 
ing the reputation which brought him his Vic 
torian title. 

He often stayed at great houses during those 



136 The Highroad 

years, but I doubt if he had ever gone any 
where in all his life except for some other pur 
pose than that of enjoying himself. It was not 
altogether pleasure that brought him to Breck 
Castle. 

There had always been titles and money in 
the Horton family, but this one, a younger son, 
had earned his own by way of a political 
career, beginning as secretary to an austere 
statesman. Poor Horton! He had had a dull 
life of it! And the saddest part of it is, he 
never knew it. He always typifies middle 
class England to me. It is quite a mistake to 
imagine that the English people of title are all 
true aristocracy. 

By no means. There have never been many 
families in Britain who were truly of the haut, 
in spirit or tastes. The present royal family is 
most distressingly middle class. Queen Alex 
andra's favorite amusement is copying por 
traits of her family on teacups very badly 
and taking photographs of her daughters (very 
bad) with their heads on their husbands' 
shoulders. 

They have a portrait of Horton's mother at 
Rutherford, done about 1870, when she was in 
the forties. She wears a headdress and a look 



We Visit Lady Flora Hastings 137 

of extreme virtue. I know that they had 
boiled mutton, brussels sprouts and rice pud 
ding for dinner five times a week, followed by 
a supper of spiced meats, cheese, whiskey and 
water. It is easy to tell what they did, so 
many of Horton's kin are now doing the same 
thing every day. 

I can imagine poor Horton's youth. He is 
fifty. I know that at Eton he was a serious 
lad, who pointed out to his fag that obedi 
ence was a duty, and would have said his 
prayers in the face of the whole school. At 
Oxford he was called a "serious and promising 
young man," who scorned frivolities. It is a 
certainty that frivolities never sought him out, 
for a less amusing person never lived. What 
a number of people scorn the lives they could 
never have lived! 

The general company at Breck was a gay 
one. It is only people of position who can 
afford to be truly gay and let such wit as they 
have show itself. They are like artists who 
know their technique thoroughly and can 
afford to paint in bold dashes I do not 
know in all the social world anything more 
pitiable than the poor imitators of society. 
In England particularly they make a sad and 



138 The Highroad 

woeful band, waiting to see what "they" will 
do. 

It settled down into a cold and rainy autumn. 
Mr. Herbert had once let Breck to an Ameri 
can family and they had fitted it with steam. 
He declared that he never would have thought 
of it himself, but that it doubled the value of 
the property to him. 

In these days, sometimes too bad even for 
shooting, with long evenings in the house, 
Lucile shone. She was not forward, but she 
was always good tempered, always prettily 
dressed, always ready for any amusement, and 
best of all always comme ilfatit. How I con 
gratulated myself that I had arranged it that 
she should reject Julien! There is nothing 
truer than that the world is inclined to accept 
us at our own valuation. Lucile felt herself of 
value, and a princess royal could not have 
taken homage and consideration more as a 
matter of course. 

I mentioned one day that I had found a 
trunk among those which had come 'with us 
which I supposed in France. It contained 
Lucile's costume worn in the little play that 
had been given at Verriere. I took a stupid 
day, when everybody was yawning and the 



We Visit Lady Flora Hastings 139 

men were aimlessly knocking billiard balls 
about, to tell of the stupidity of my maid in 
bringing this trunk. As I had anticipated, the 
news was received with interest. "Yes, the 
manuscript copy of the play was there also." 

In an hour we had the play-book down and 
were giving out the parts. As I had seen the 
play at Verriere I was called upon as an 
authority, and to the amazement of everybody 
I gave to Lord Horton the part which had 
been taken at Verriere by Julien. Of course 
Lucile played the companion part to it. 

At first Horton hesitated in accepting it, 
although I could see that he was tremendously 
flattered. It had been a pure piece of audacity 
on my part, but I believed then, and I believe 
now, that there is not a soul on earth, however 
stupid and unsocial it may be, who does not in 
day dreams see itself shining as a social light. 
Flattery is potent just because we believe our 
selves the real standard of excellence. We 
know that there are people handsomer and 
cleverer, according to the world's standard, 
but that standard is movable, and a truly en 
lightened world would come around to see in 
us the model. Of course we know we lapse, 
but we could be everything if we wished, and we 



140 The Highroad 

should be, we say to ourselves, if the world 
were taking notice. 

As I had shown no sort of preference for 
Lord Horton's society, and as I was frank and 
sincere in all my other assignments, the rest of 
the party, after a clack of wonder, conceded 
that I knew my business and tried to see in 
Horton the characteristics I assured them he 
possessed, which were revealed in the dialogue 
and action of the little play. For one thing, 
it was in French, and that necessarily was a lan 
guage with which he was entirely conversant. 

I concluded that those delicate lover-like 
speeches which he must make to Lucile would 
be easier for him to say in French, for I 
guessed that lover-like speeches were not at 
home on Horton's tongue, which made me all 
the more certain that I had found in him one 
who would make a good husband. The foun 
dation virtues of a good husband do not in 
clude gallantry. 

After the play Horton followed Lucile 
about, fascinated as I had felt sure he would 
be. 

Once when I was a little child a traveling 
preacher visited my grandfather. He was an 
uneducated man, but with an unusually original 



We Visit Lady Flora Hastings 141 

mind. According to his faith he continually 
tried to convert me. I liked him very much 
and spoke to him with entire freedom. I told 
him that I couldn't cry over my sins, which he 
invited me to do, because I hadn't any. I 
couldn't think of any sins then but lying and 
stealing. I couldn't steal, because I never saw 
anything on the farm which I couldn't have if 
I wanted it, and why should I lie when my 
father and mother allowed me to do exactly as 
I pleased? 

The preacher assured me that we were all 
sinners and told me a story of a child who 
was in my "state. " She was told to pray every 
night, "Lord, show me that I am a miserable 
sinner," and in a few short weeks she was 
"crying at the mercy seat. " That story made 
a profound impression upon me. I carefully 
refrained from making such a prayer because I 
had no desire to "cry at the mercy seat," but 
I thought about it and I reasoned out in my 
little mind that she told herself she was a sin 
ner until she believed she was one, and in doing 
so I unconsciously touched a point in mental 
science on which much is built. 

After Horton had rehearsed lines telling 
Lucile she was a paragon of beauty and virtue 



142 The Highroad 

and that he loved her, his mind began to accept 
it as a fact. He could not do it mechanically 
as another accustomed to the trick would have 
done. His mind was not adjusted to the say 
ing of lover-like things which he did not mean. 

I was not at all surprised when Horton came 
to me and told me that he had asked Lucile to 
marry him and as was natural had been re 
ferred to me. 

I became agitated at once, and a good deal 
of it was real. Horton was not only charmed 
by Lucile's youth and sweetness, but he felt 
that he was making a brilliant match from a 
financial point of view. 

No need to undeceive him now. If we got 
him to the shadow of the church he would not 
face back. He was English. He might sulk 
a little and even say some plain impolite 
things, but he would not desert Lucile and 
make a scandal when he discovered that she 
was practically penniless. 

I asked him if he loved my daughter or if 
he were taken by the charm of simple girlhood, 
and then he told me some things which sur 
prised me. He said that Lucile was much 
more than a simple child. She thought deeply 
upon serious subjects. I discovered later that 



We Visit Lady Flora Hastings 143 

the nuns at the convent in Paris prepare the 
girls for this sort of emergency. Many of the 
girls educated at that convent are expected to 
marry statesmen, and they are given a thin 
wash of general information, or what looks like 
information. They have a patter of phrases, 
which they can use for the amazement of a 
man. 

Horton told me seriously that he expected 
Lucile to be a "helpmeet" to him, and that he 
had dared ask her to marry him because her 
mind was so mature. 

Considering all things, Horton was a much 
better husband for Lucile than Julien would 
have ever been. But when was a "better" 
thing too attractive? Lucile, now that girl 
hood is gone, is a cold practical woman. I 
am always wondering what she might have 
been, and all my life I shall miss Julien Mal- 
pierre and my vision of French history. Yet 
Horton is a faithful and I believe an admiring 
husband. 



144 c Tb e Highroad 



XIII 

The Settling of Lucile 

We Americans acquire some curious ideas of 
England from books. Among others, is a 
belief that in winter London is practically 
deserted by everything that could be called 
society. "The season" in early summer was 
supposed by me to constitute the only time 
when anybody above the middle class was seen 
in London. Really nowadays those of the 
aristocracy who can afford it keep their town 
house open the greater part of the year. 

Now that Lucile was engaged my first im 
pulse was to go back to Paris for the winter, 
let her marry there, and save the expense of a 
London establishment. But this plan had dis 
advantages. In the first place, the Malpierres 
were the best people I knew in Paris, and they 
could hardly be expected to take a great inter 
est in Lucile's marriage. I even doubted if 
they would come in from the country for it. 
I could not drive Lady Flora to the point of 
rebellion by insisting that she should give Lucile 



Settling of Lucile 145 



her wedding. There was nothing for it but to 
take a furnished house in Mayfair by dipping 
into my reserve fund. I considered this from 
every side and then took a good house while I 
was about it. Genevieve was now ready for 
the world. With her sister well married she 
would of course have a tremendous advan 
tage and would stay with her a great deal of 
the time. If necessary, I would even go into 
debt a little to get my second daughter settled. 
I looked at the jewels Prolmann had given me. 
At the worst I could do something with them. 
If I could marry Genevieve well and quickly, 
the two girls could take care of Jane. 

In watching families I have noticed that the 
first marriage usually settles the status of a 
family of girls. If the first marries badly or 
rests a long time in the family nest, it has a 
bad effect upon the prospects of the rest. Men 
are apt to wonder if there is something wrong 
that has warned off other men. They grow 
suspicious. And whatever we women say, 
men believe that an unmarried woman has 
lacked opportunities, and justly so gener 
ally. 

If it can be avoided it is not well to show 
two marriageable daughters at the same time. 



146 'The Highroad 

Two hot-house peaches are not so rare as one 
hot-house peach. I know that to say this is in 
very bad taste. The romantic and those who 
take what they call a "serious" view of mar 
riage will call it a vulgar and deplorable state 
ment. Oh, I know the patter of the romantic 
and the "serious." 

Many, many times have I said, and saying, 
believed, the most beautiful and conventional 
things concerning the relations of men and 
women. But here I am allowing myself the 
privilege of telling the truth. I have discov 
ered that a man's nature changes not at all in 
acquiring a wife unless, perchance, he has a 
very undisciplined "nature. In that case he 
will make a very bad husband. 

I considered myself a model of diplomacy 
when I was able to secure Lili de Malpierre as 
one of Lucile's bridesmaids. Lili's mother 
was a clever woman in some ways. She 
believed the story of our fortune, and believ 
ing saw in Genevieve a more desirable heiress 
than Lucile, for Lucile had not an elder sister 
who was the wife of an English Lord. Then 
too the Marquise was progressive. France is 
a republic, and say what you will, a title in a 
republic has not the same value as in a mon- 



'The Settling of Lucile 147 

archy. Who could say what advantage Lili 
might not derive from visits to England? The 
Marquise could trust me to ward off the inel 
igible. Added to this were the facts of the 
independent nature of Lili which makes her 
to-day one of the most conspicuous women in 
France, her fondness for Genevieve, and her 
determination to come. 

Lucile's wedding was a fairly brilliant one. 
The bad half-hour with Horton was over. I 
actually made him see Lucile as a rich girl to 
the end, and we went as formally about settling 
part of those wild West Virginia lands upon 
her and her children as though they had been 
located in Kent and Surrey. Lucile has two 
nice little boys, and I am fond of them, but 
they do not laugh up into my eyes as Julien 
Malpierre's children would have laughed. 
Had I only known, had I only dreamed of the 
future, I might have managed some way. I 
comfort myself with the reflection that it would 
not have been best for Lucile. She is the 
proper wife for Horton. She likes her life, 
but I want my darling little French grand 
children playing about the yellow and green 
old marbles at Verriere. 

It was at the time of Lucile's wedding that I 



148 The Highroad 

first came into contact with the Kensington 
Palace crowd, and some others. 

Kensington Palace and Hampton Court are a 
sort of royal alms houses, places to keep poor 
relations and the widows and orphans of those 
who have a claim of some sort upon the royal 
family. The late Queen was born at Kensing 
ton when her parents were very poor relations, 
and so I believe was the present Princess of 
Wales. At any rate, the family of the Prin 
cess May lived there and it was there that the 
famous auction took place which scattered so 
many of the royal heirlooms. A red flag was 
hung out of the palace window and the Tecks 
were "sold up" that tradesmen might be paid. 
And I suppose the sons and daughters of these 
same tradesmen tremble and shed tears when 
they see "royalty, " like the rest of their 
kind, and see nothing humorous in the situa 
tion. 

I have a work-table, once the property of 
Queen Adelaide, which came from that sale. 

There are some frumpy old ladies living in 
Kensington Palace who are not above taking 
in "paying guests." These are often Ameri 
cans, who pay handsomely for the introductions 
that come their way through their hostesses. 



'The Settling of Lucile 149 

As Lord Horton was not to be ignored as a 
political factor and as his family itself was 
entitled to recognition, we of course had a 
sprig of royalty at the wedding. But Horton 
had besides a second cousin who lived in Ken 
sington Palace, so we were thoroughly adver 
tised in that abode of court gossip. 

A bishop's widow, resident there at that 
time, had a California girl as her guest, and 
she arranged with Horton's cousin that her 
American should receive an invitation to 
Lucile's wedding. 

I should have had a fellow feeling for that 
American girl, and have done what I could to 
give her a lift. Up to that time the only intro 
ductions she had achieved were to the Princess 
Christian and Miss Marie Corelli. But I had 
long ago made up my mind that I could not 
stand one grain of handicap. Good-nature, a 
fellow feeling, kindness of any sort were ex 
pensive luxuries which it was impossible for me 
to afford. And I rather enjoyed snubbing that 
girl. My mind ran ahead. I saw the possi 
bility of her name being cabled to America as 
one of the Americans at the wedding, and I 
knew she was a nobody or she would not be 
where she was. I declined to give any reason 



150 The Highroad 

for refusing the invitation, but I refused it, 
even in the face of a demand for it from Hor- 
ton's mother. 

"Poor Lucia (the cousin) had promised this 
invitation," Horton's mother said. "Poor 
Mrs. Beamish (the bishop's widow) must live, 
and if she cannot secure good invitations for 
her guest she will leave her. As it is, they 
have had no desserts but milk puddings for two 
years. Of course you rich Americans do not 
understand poverty." 

But I smiled and declined to be moved even 
by milk puddings. I wondered what Horton's 
mother would have thought could she have 
known that "dessert" was almost unknown to 
my youth. 

So Lady Caulfield (Horton is a younger son 
of Baron Caulfield), unable to realize that I 
could refuse her anything except for some very 
good reason, took the usual Victorian idea that 
the girl's character was not good, and pro 
ceeded to drop a word at Kensington Palace 
which sent her home ruined so far as England 
was concerned. 

But there were some Americans at the 
wedding. They were New Yorkers with 
whose family history I am sure I was just a 



"The Settling of Lucile 1 5 1 

trifle better acquainted than they were. They 
belonged to the rich new set which was just at 
that time coming into some vogue. In that 
day the old Knickerbocker families still con 
sidered that they led New York society. 
What a little while ago that was! I confess 
that I was green enough then to ignore the 
certain rise into prominence of the tremen 
dously wealthy. Had I been able to do so, or 
had it been demanded of me, I should very 
readily have put myself on the side of the old 
families. Fortunately I had not to choose. 
I realized that to know Americans at all, I 
must be introduced somehow. It was very 
easy, going about London as the mother of 
Lord Horton's fiancee, to make what acquaint 
ances I chose there. Everybody by this time 
accepted us as enormously rich people who had 
lived abroad for generations; Lady Hastings 
had arranged that. Lucile and I had week's 
ends at the best country houses, and many din 
ners and evening parties in London. 

It was in the midst of all these festivities 
that I heard of my father's death. Poor 
father! A pang struck my heart as I thought 
of his loneliness. I had not even written often. 
There was so little to say to him. After 



152 *fbe Highroad 

mother died he had lived on the farm all alone, 
even doing his own cooking. He had not a 
relative in the world that he knew, and he and 
mother's family were not friends. The lawyers 
who had charge of my property wrote after the 
funeral sending the letter to the bankers. 

For a little while the vision of good-tem 
pered, indulgent "pappy" sent me into hys 
terical sobs. They had found him one day 
where he had fallen by the stove, with some 
cornmeal mush in a pan beside him. He had 
been dead a day. < 

For a little while I was unreasonable. It 
seemed my fault. I was sure that the gossip 
of Fowlersburg would say that it was my fault! 
But when I saw that he had left me almost 
fifty thousand dollars in this farm and in 
money, I knew that he would simply be called 
eccentric. 

The question now was what I was to do 
about the wedding. It seemed best to let it go 
on. Later I could say that father had known 
of it, had spoken of his illness, and begged 
that nothing should stop it. I was sick with 
remorse, I knew that I should have gone to 
him had I known. It hurt me with a real 
physical pain. If I had had only myself to 



'The Settling of Lucile 153 

think of how differently I should have behaved. 

Madame Vestrine and the children did not 
come over until the last minute. 

Lucile's wedding dress was made with a 
simple long satin train covered by a magnifi 
cent web of a lace veil as its chief feature. 
That veil was hired from a French house, and 
it figured in the descriptions as an heirloom. 
I believe that Lucile thought that it was an 
heirloom. She asked me where I had kept it 
all these years. I told her that her grand 
father had sent it to me with her grandmother's 
portrait, and I gave her the idea that it had 
belonged to her grandmother. Why not? If I 
could not produce it again it could easily be 
stolen as the annals of the family ran on. 

The wedding was beautiful. It was Decem 
ber, just a little before Christmas, but the air 
was crisp and the sun bright, for London. 
"St. George's, Hanover Square!" How many, 
many times had I read those words in my 
English novels in the old days! How many 
times had I thrilled at the thought of being 
the heroine who was married there! And here 
was my daughter being married in St. 
George's, Hanover Square, to an English 
Lordl 



154 The Highroad 

Who shall say that we do not create condi 
tions by thinking and dreaming of them? Cer 
tain it is, and I defy any to deny it, that had I 
never seen a copy of the old New York Ledger 
away back in the beginning, and followed it 
up by Harper's cheap editions and "Seasides," 
my daughter would never have stood at the 
altar in St. George's and promised to love, 
honor and obey a Lord. 

I wonder what conventional mothers think 
about when their daughters marry. I wish I 
could have another life in which to feel the 
reality of conventional living, conventional 
thinking. As it is, I have never had anything 
but the shadow. Behind the active me is 
always the woman who must plan and move 
the springs by which I move. I can no more 
"let myself go" than an actress on the stage 
can be natural. To be natural is not art in her 
case, nor in mine. It would bring the play to 
an end. 

I am always letting my imagination tell me 
how the woman that I seem to be would feel 
under certain circumstances, and then I try to 
act as though I felt like that. 

At Lucile's wedding I was not tearful, but I 
was very serious and a little wistful. Mr. 



'The Settling of Lucile 155 

Herbert gave the bride away. The papers all 
announced that "until the last moment" it had 
been expected that Prolmann (by his titles) 
would perform that office, bul illness had pre 
vented. As a matter of fact I wrote to Prol 
mann and told him that Lucile had asked that 
he would come. But he declined, and sent the 
pearl necklace. 

I thought once of having the American Min 
ister. The Minister at that time was a man 
whose father had been a great American, but 
he had had no training in social usages. 
Everybody used him for any purpose, and it 
would have been no trouble at all to secure 
him as an assistant at Lucile's wedding. But 
I wisely decided that he could be no advan 
tage like most things easily acquired. 

As I saw Lucile come down from the altar 
on her husband's arm, I had a touch of what 
we call sentiment. Had it been possible I 
should have put my head down and cried like 
a child. But I knew better. I was acting the 
better bred mother. And all through the after 
ceremonies, the breakfast and the going away, 
I was thinking, thinking, "Will Lucile begin 
right?" 

How thankful I was that the child had noth- 



156 The Highroad 

ing to reveal, for she knew nothing. She 
could be natural, I said to myself. And then 
I wondered. Had she forgotten Julien, or did 
his big figure and sweet heavy voice seem alive 
about her? After all she was a woman now 
and must take up and bear a woman's burden 
which must always be borne in silence and 
secrecy if she is a successful woman. 



My Second Daughter 1157 



XIV 

My Second Daughter 

It was after Lucile had gone away to Italy 
with her husband that I was invited to take 
Genevieve and Lili to a week's end in the 
country to meet the then Prince of Wales and 
his wife and daughters. We were asked at the 
very last minute and I never knew exactly why. 

The Prince was in the habit of naming the 
guests he wished to meet, and it was in those 
days his one sincere hope that he might find 
somebody who would amuse him. Now I was 
not, am not, and never shall be amusing. I 
never said a witty or a clever thing in my 
life. I am not beautiful, nor particularly well 
dressed. I confess that I did not want to go 
to that house party. We could not afford to 
keep up in any way with the people who made 
the so-called "Prince of Wales Set," nor I 
confess did I court the position of belonging 
to it. 

There has been now and then a strange idea 
in America that there exists an English set 



158 The Highroad 

that did not care to be friends with the King 
when he was Prince of Wales. There never 
was an Englishman nor an Englishwoman who 
did not always remember that here was the 
country's future king, of necessity the very 
head of English society. 

The strange idea came in some manner from 
the Duke of Richmond's action in once declin 
ing to entertain the Royal party at Goodwood. 
I am in no position to know the facts of that 
affair nor is any one else who is at all likely to 
tell them; but the family history of the Duke 
of Richmond does not make it likely that he 
would slight a king. Nor has he ever done so, 
the English people are very sure. 

I was nervous over this visit, and I took my 
self to task because of it. What was the use 
of all my work, my ambition, my contriving, if 
I could not meet the realization of my hopes, 
fill the role to which I aspired? I always look 
with contempt upon the women and men who 
"do not care for society." They are adver 
tising themselves as poor things, lacking in 
some vital nerve, some sense of equality with 
their kind, for we never shun the places where 
we are comfortable and pur vanity is soothed. 
Nature is inexorable, and an understanding of 



My Second Daughter 159 

her methods is philosophy. The man who 
falls out of the race for any reason is simply 
making way for one stronger than he, one more 
to nature's mind, and is illustrating the rule of 
the survival of the fittest. 

The recluse does not realize that he is simply 
a discarded building-stone in the structure of 
civilization, who puts himself out of the way, 
not by free will, but according to a law, 
because his weaknesses make him useless. 

I discovered that the visiting with Royalty 
was very simple. The Royalties often did not 
appear until noon and some days not then. 
It was at dinner and in the evening that the 
other guests most often saw them, and each 
evening only a few of us were brought into 
actual contact with them. 

They were very simple and unostentatious, 
and the Princesses seemed almost anxious to 
please, which is natural, as royalty exists in 
England by sufferance. The then Princess of 
Wales reminded me, in her evening dress, of a 
mechanical doll. She has a high, affected, 
musical voice, a stiff figure, a painted face, 
and a very well made, light-brown wig. She 
sat on a sofa in the center of one of the draw 
ing-rooms, and said pleasant things. Her large 



160 The Highroad 

and truly beautiful eyes give the only expres 
sion to a face from which every line has been 
eliminated by stretching the skin. A frown is 
a physical impossibility to her, which sounds 
like the story of a gift to a princess from a fairy 
godmother instead a "plastic surgeon." Roy 
alty comes too near to us in these days. Who 
knows? that long-ago princess who couldn't 
laugh, and inspired so many romantic folk-tales 
of poor young adventurers who broke the curse 
and ascended the throne, may have had a sim 
ple paralysis of the facial muscles! 

They have some pathetic reserves, these 
poor figureheads. One day our hostess 
brought out an album to show the Princess of 
Wales. It was silver bound and carefully 
locked. It contained "private photographs" 
of the royal family. In other days, when his 
sovereign wished to compliment a subject, he 
sent for the best painter in the country and 
ordered a portrait for his friend. The walls of 
this very house held portraits of sovereigns 
from Queen Elizabeth down to the end of the 
Stuart line. In those days a good portrait cost 
about ten pounds. Nowadays, except in rare 
instances, the best Victoria's family can do is 
to offer a "private photograph," one which the 



My Second Daughter 161 

public has not been allowed to see. The 
young princesses were tremendously amused by 
this collection and spent a whole evening over 
it; but the Princess of Wales, to the visible 
annoyance of her hostess, slipped out two or 
three of her own old photographs. "You will 
give me these, will you not?" she said sweetly. 
"I have no duplicates." I did not see them, 
but I heard two women laughing a little later; 
"They had looped-up skirts and showed her 
feet. She has destroyed almost all of them. 
They are awful." 

"The Princess should have busts made of 
herself, like those of the ancient Roman 
ladies," Colonel Cameron said to them. 
"They had a sort of marble wig that could be 
changed with the fashions." 

"A very good idea, but you made it up in 
this instant," one of the women said. 

"I did not. I saw them in the British 
Museum." 

"I have never been there," one of the 
women said smartly, "I never have occasion 
for clandestine interviews. I shall keep a 
watch on any friend of mine who knows about 
those Roman ladies." 

This Colonel Cameron was a close friend of 



1 62 'The Highroad 

the Prince, and a man whose vicinity I found 
vaguely unpleasant. 

We were presented to the Prince the first 
evening. He said some polite things to us and 
graciously remembered Lili's parents. I think 
he was disappointed in me. I was so common 
place. He had looked at me with some curi 
osity, and said rather bluntly that he was 
surprised to see Horton's mother-in-law so 
young. He asked me a question or two about 
Prolmann, showing that he had heard our so- 
called history. Prolmann had entertained him 
once on his Hungarian estate long years 
before. 

The Prince found the girls more amusing, 
although generally girls bore him after he has 
given them a little of that patronizing advice 
which, like all men of his type, he prefaces 
with "My dear." The Prince at this time had 
the boldest eyes I ever saw. He is a short, 
stout man, with a thick German tongue in 
speaking, and it must be confessed in eating 
also. Genevieve made me nervous. Had 
Genevieve been brought up differently, she 
would have made a most attractive milliners' 
saleswoman. I never deceive myself, and she 
always reminds me of a superior sort of shop 



My Second Daughter 163 

girl. She has the same haughty manner, style 
in dress and undercurrent of blague. Her 
waist (that was before the day of "straight 
fronts") was seventeen inches around, and her 
shoulders were forty. Naturally, her dress was 
as simple as white muslin could be made, and 
her slippers were even bowless, but she looked 
like . a fashion-plate, or an illustration by 
"Mars." 

Before I had been in that house twenty-four 
hours I knew that between her and Lili I 
should have my hands full. 

I have no idea what they talked about to the 
men who found their society so absorbing; I 
only know that the subject was obviously 
changed whenever I came within hearing dis 
tance. It was Colonel Cameron who fright 
ened me. He was the middle-aged heir to a 
Dukedom, a man who had married an heiress 
when he was barely twenty-one, and had since 
used his opportunities. He followed Gene- 
vieve about from morning until night, but in 
such a way that I could formulate no objec 
tions, even to Genevieve. This was not the 
society, nor were mine the methods which said, 
"Beware of a married man." If Genevieve 
could not be trusted to think of a man except 



164 I'be Highroad 

as a possible husband, it were better to send 
her back to West Virginia, where they are still 
in that era. 

But I was afraid. I did not want my peach 
handled, although this one had not the reti 
cence and bloom of innocence which had made 
Lucile's charm. As for Lili, she was past my 
control altogether. She smoked cigarettes 
openly at tea time, and discussed Anatole 
France's latest novel with the old Duchess of 
Lawrence. She ridiculed his knowledge of real 
French society, calmly contradicting the 
Duchess when her argument demanded. 

"I have not visited in France for twenty 
years," the Duchess said. "I remember your 
grandfather. A charming man." 

"Society has changed since then," Lili said, 
putting one slender arm behind her head and 
lolling in the deep velvet chair she had chosen. 
One might have imagined from her assurance 
that she had known all about the life of that 
day, instead of being unborn. "Even in the 
old nobility there is a respect for money, which 
we have learned from you money-mad English. 
Papa married for money, you know, and I can 
not say I am sorry. It saves me the annoyance 
of doing so." 



My Second Daughter 165 

"And you, I suppose, you young girl of the 
convent, will marry for love?" the Duchess 
asked with some sarcasm. 

"I shall not marry at all," Lili said non 
chalantly. 

Now these new ideas might do for Lili, but 
I could not afford them for Genevieve, and as 
soon as we were again in London, I arranged 
for Lili's return to her mother. She and Gene 
vieve arranged, I vaguely understood, finally 
to have an establishment in Paris where they 
were to live together in the utmost freedom, 
entertaining what they called "interesting 
people," who were, so far as I made out, any 
body who had been talked about. Poor young 
fools! They were grievously disappointed that 
the Prince was only a fat, bold-eyed, oldish 
man. I think he had stood high on their list 
before that visit. 

There was nothing subtle about Genevieve. 
All her goods were in the window. She morti 
fied me. Much prettier and showier than 
Lucile, I could make no effects with her. She 
would never attract a conservative Englishman 
like Horton. I had cherished some hope that the 
rather fast stupid young eldest son of some 
noble family might be taken by her as he 



1 66 'The Highroad 

might have been taken as so many of them 
are by a music hall singer or an actress. And 
I found that they were attracted at first by that 
curious atmosphere of sex which women like 
Genevieve throw -about them, but they were 
stupid in her eyes, and she would have none 
of them. She wanted the hero of a French 
novel, and the nearest approach to it that she 
had seen was Colonel Cameron. His face 
was pale, his eyes brilliant, and his upcurled 
and pointed mustache showed large sound 
teeth. 

His wife and the Duchess of Lawrence left 
cards when we were all returned to town. The 
Duchess of Lawrence had spent the early 
years of her married life going about from one 
court to another, while her husband went in the 
other direction. And then, tired out, they had 
come home in middle age to discover, seem 
ingly to their surprise, that their youth was 
gone and there was no heir except the son of 
a cousin. 

"All of us are prone to overlook some de 
tail," the Duke is said to have remarked to a 
friend. "And, come to think of it, I believe 
I'd as soon an enemy inherited my debts." 

Cameron had married an heiress who wanted 



My Second Daughter 167 

to be a Duchess. He awaited the title with 
equanimity, going his devious ways, very sure 
that so long as he was a prospective duke his 
wife would never divorce him. 

A month later, a little after the New Year, I 
went to Genevieve's bed-room after she was 
supposed to have gone to bed. It was not a 
habit of mine, but that evening we had been 
rather dull at home and had retired early. I 
remembered something I wanted to say to her 
concerning our plans for the next day. 

Jane and Robert had gone back to school. I 
would have kept Jane in London, but the rates 
which I paid at Paris in the beginning still 
held, and necessarily I could get nothing as 
advantageous in England. 

Robert was a manly boy now, not too tall, 
but broad and square, with a clean, frank, 
well-bred face. He had naturally courteous 
manners. Madame Vestrine was in love with 
the boy, and decided to spend the winter in 
Switzerland to be near him. 

Genevieve and I were alone in the London 
house. 

When I opened Genevieve's door I saw that 
she was not there. The bed was untouched, 
and a wrap or two was thrown hastily aside as 



1 68 The Highroad 

though she had tried two or three before she 
had found one to her mind. 

I had met with some difficulty in opening the 
door, as it was locked. It was only after I had 
knocked and called and felt my heart stand 
still at no response that I remembered the 
housekeeper's keys (I was the housekeeper 
here now) and opened the door with one from 
that bunch. 

Genevieve had very plainly gone out. No 
body will ever know what I felt then. I have 
no ability to express the feeling that went 
over me. I hardly expected her to return, and 
except for the wreck and ruin it would have 
been for all of us, I would have wished that 
she might never come back. Could I have 
wished her dead and buried, how gladly I 
would have done so. How I despised her, and 
how I pitied her! I remembered her as a little 
chubby red and white baby whose gay laugh 
and romping ways made her her father's dar 
ling. How little she knew! what a fool she 
was! 

I knew that she had gone out with Cameron. 
A sudden thought sent me to the box where 
we kept the latch key. It was gone. Then 
she intended to come back. 



My Second Daughter 169 

I detest scenes, and I do not know how to 
manage them. I went into my own room, put 
the door ajar and waited for my child to come 
home. 

She came in, stealing up the stairs in the 
dark, and slipped into the corridor which led 
to her own apartments. The door of her bed 
room was locked as she had left it. I heard it 
close and then I went to bed. 

The next morning I engaged passage from 
Liverpool for the following week. I told 
Genevieve that I was going to put Robert in an 
American college next year, and thought it 
well to have him prepare for his entrance the 
next autumn. He came hastily from Switzer 
land, and we started for New York. 



170 'The Highroad 



XV 

We Return to America 

I came up New York bay with mixed emo 
tions. If I had made my way in England and 
France, I kept reminding myself, I should 
have no difficulty in conquering here. But 
underneath the bravado by which I endeavored 
to keep up my own spirit was an undercurrent 
of doubt. Here Prolmann could only be a 
serious disadvantage; here I was practically 
stripped of my wonderful estates in Virginia, 
but here, I said to myself, I was Lady Hor- 
ton's mother. The Americans I had met in 
London had let me see that that was fairly 
potent, at least over there. But what would it 
do for me here? I knew that there were 
people who had been graciously received even 
by Victoria who were not received in the New 
York set for which I was ambitious. I could 
not imagine, either, that the mother of the 

Duchesse de B was received in New York. 

And I had almost no money. 

We went at once to a small hotel on Union 



We Return to America , 171 

Square, which we had heard of as the stopping- 
place of some English people. And even 
there we could not afford to stay long. We 
must get something "quieter" which would 
yet have the appearance of choice instead of 
necessity. 

It was a terrible March day when we landed. 
The dirt in the unclean streets was blowing in 
clouds. The sharp clear air was as unbecoming 
as the light from a hospital window. I looked 
at my children, and my boy seemed raw and 
commonplace and my girl entirely vulgar. 

It was one of the few times in my life when 
I lost heart, when the struggle seemed impos 
sible. All my plans turned tawdry and trans 
parent. How I wanted help! How I wanted 
to turn to my children and say, "Help me! I 
am doing everything I can for you. We must 
work together to keep up appearances, to be 
able to go along at all." But my common 
sense told me the absurd folly of that. If 
either of them had known that keeping up ap 
pearances was what we were doing they would 
have lost the ability to do it. 

They did know, of course, that our income 
was limited and that they could not spend 
much money, but their training had taught 



1 72 fhe Highroad 

them that it was no disgrace, simply a tem 
porary inconvenience in their case, not to be 
spoken of purely for financial reasons. 

I had come to America before I desired to, 
absolutely forced here by Genevieve. Later 
we might have come as guests on somebody's 
yacht and made our first appearance at New 
port. I thought of all these things. I wished 
that I had put Genevieve back into the con 
vent while I brought Robert over. I wished 
that I had done everything but what I had 
done. Dozens of times I have dreamed of 
finding myself at entertainments in my night 
clothes. Well, that March morning in New 
York I had exactly the same feeling. How I 
wished I had stayed in Europe! 

Robert was polite and Genevieve was sullen. 
She sneered at the hotel, she sneered at the 
profusion of American food. She listened with 
contemptuous ears to the American voices in 
the hotel dining-room, and viewed with dis 
dainful eyes the garments upon the speakers. 
I must confess that the voices distressed me. 
For the first time I understood what foreigners 
mean by our nasal voices. 

We walked up Fifth Avenue the second day, 
the dirt whirling into our faces, and then we 



We Return to America 173 

crossed over into famous Broadway. I wonder 
if there is anybody else who remembers the 
Fifth Avenue and Broadway of only a few 
years ago? To us, aliens, without a tie in 
America, setting our feet for the first time in 
New York, it seemed on the surface ridiculous 
to have come. And had I lived only from day 
to day, taking what came to me, had I been the 
woman I was when I went to Europe, I should 
have turned and left it, so little did it seem 
worth while. And yet I knew that this was 
America, and we were Americans. Never 
could our position be sound before the world 
until this was conquered. A nobody in his own 
land is a nobody in all the world. And my 
boy must make his own life. If he were to 
marry a rich wife and achieve riches in that 
way, which I confess was the best I hoped for, 
it must be an American wife. No rich woman 
of any position in any other country would 
consider him for an instant. But to do that 
he must have some place in the world, some 
thing to stand upon. I had given his career a 
good deal of thought. The church and medi 
cine were the only professions which I thought 
possible for him. I laughed at my own 
thoughts sometimes as I lay in my bed at 



174 The Highroad 



night. I imagined myself as the tactful mother 
of a parish, hunting through old books for ser 
mons to rewrite. Robert could have written an 
average sermon, neat and didactic, but that 
never would have satisfied me. Still I feared I 
should have trouble to induce him to let me 
lead him into the church. I was sure as I 
looked into his handsome sunny face, unaggres- 
sive, agreeable, a little slow, much like my 
mother's, that he would make a successful 
physician. He would bolster up his patients' 
spirits, -employ a good nurse, and let nature 
alone. But he shrugged his shoulders over its 
disagreeable features, and sweetly asked to be 
given other work to do. 

"My son," I asked, "what do you want to 
do?" 

He laughed easily and bowed in a little 
foreign fashion that he had learned from Prol- 
mann. 

"My dear mamma," he said in French, "I 
would be a duke." 

"But, alas," I returned, "I am not a fairy 
godmother." 

To my amazement his frank eyes took on a 
suddenly shrewd expression. He looked at 
me with almost a beam of real intelligence, of 



We Return to America 175 

understanding. "That is not so sure," he 
sard. 

For an instant fright possessed me. Was it 
possible that he knew, could see, could under 
stand all I had done? Had that beam rested in 
his eyes an instant longer, perhaps I should 
have broken down the wall between us. But a 
second later it had disappeared and I could not 
convince myself that it had ever been there. 

"You have always indulged us in our de 
sires," he said in a commonplace polite 
manner. 

I took him over to Boston and put him 
under a tutor to prepare for Harvard the next 
year. I found that he could enter as a sopho 
more, and that he was unusually well grounded, 
particularly in languages. I left him then, 
having given no sign that he was preparing to 
be anything but a duke. 



ij6 'The Highroad 



XVI 

We Look About Us. 

New York had no literature, as England and 
France have, to teach me the habits and ways 
of the people with whom I wished to associate. 
Of course New York supposed itself then, and 
supposes itself now, to be exactly like London. 
But this is not altogether true. There has 
never been a novelist who has thoroughly pic 
tured American society, so that you may use 
the record for a guide-book to find your way 
about. 

There are one or two women who belong to 
what is known as society who write, but they 
color their narratives with personal feeling. 
Most of the stories of society are written by 
young men and women whose imagination is 
whetted by the sight of carriages on Fifth 
Avenue and the possession of an admission 
ticket to the horse show. Sometimes they secure 
an opportunity to see the inside of a million 
aire's house, for most of them are reporters on 
the papers. As smart society is fundamentally 



We Look About Us 177 

like any other, human nature being exactly the 
same everywhere, they cannot make tremen 
dous mistakes except in detail. People eat, 
sleep, quarrel, make up, lie and cry, whether 
they are Esquimaux or Americans, and they are 
moved by ambition, envy, spite, avarice or 
passion on Central Park East and Henry Street. 
But few of these stories had been written 
then. Mrs. Burton Harrison and Mr. Edgar 
Fawcett were about all I had. I have often 
wondered if Mrs. Harrison ever suspected that 
the great vogue of her "Anglomaniacs" was 
due to the desire on the part of outsiders to 
know about the "real thing." Mr. Clyde 
Fitch, even, had not risen to show that the 
"smart set" is made of paper. I believe the 
out-of-town people who make up the greater 
part of our theater audiences believe Mr. Fitch 
to know all about the people he depicts. He 
probably does, but they are not New York's 
society people at all. Nor is Mr. Richard 
Harding Davis in a position to tell us how to 
behave in the houses of smartness. As with 
the rest of them, the jargon of the class that 
seems only seems to be living simply for 
amusement is not my mother tongue; but I 
have gone a little below the skin of "society" 



1 78 The Highroad 

in New York. I have a son-in-law, whom I 
know well, who was born in that class. I have 
a daughter-in-law who is an amiable, rather 
domestic woman, -who has known no other 
class and who has never discovered that her 
husband is a parvenu. And I have learned the 
rules with the care with which one studies a 
foreign language. 

Yellow journals to the contrary, the "so 
ciety" class of New York is not made up of 
butterflies entirely. The flower garden of 
pleasure attracts butterflies, but they only live 
a few days at the best, and they never truly 
play the game. No, it isn't all amusement. 
It is the eternal struggle to have the best. 

Philosophers, men who sit in college li 
braries, novelists who were brought up on 
Ohio farms, descendants of Puritan families 
that failed to take and keep the lead in the 
colony, the editorial writer who wants to sell 
the workingman his penny paper, and the sheep 
who follow the last speaker, may cry out at the 
thought of the society man or woman having or 
seeking for the best. When you ask those teach 
ers what the best is, they give you answers ac 
cording to their minds. But what are they all 
struggling for? To be free to go where they 



We Look About Us 179 

please, to see what the world has to offer, and 
to reach out their hands and take what they 
want of it. They all agree that that is what 
they want. (Maeterlinck has shown us how low 
our ideals are, how selfish, compared even with 
the bees, but it does not make us less selfish to 
deny the fact.) Who gets that opportunity 
except the people who make and keep money, 
the people whose manners are polished until 
they do not offend, who have a free masonry 
of fair play in social intercourse? Whatever 
lies are told, those are the necessities of a per 
manent social position. 

Some of the "sociologists" will indignantly 
deny that this is what they want. They say that 
they want to "uplift mankind." To what do 
they want to lift him? To what does he want 
to be lifted? I will tell you, because he can 
only feel. To be free to go where he pleases, 
to see what the world has to offer and to reach 
out his hand and take what he wants of it. 
The clever ones learn that it can come only 
through wealth and civilization, through so 
ciety. How many heads of the families who 
make the real "smart set" in New York are 
not superior men? 

Suppose they do play. How many of the 



180 The Highroad 

great middle class would love to break the 
stupid monotony of their lives by playing if 
they only knew how! Did you ever see a man 
or woman, who was not a fool, who did not 
respond to gaiety? If you think the "smart 
set" is all play you are much mistaken, and 
show that you have only seen it from the out 
side. 

It, too, has its fools, its wickedness, its 
absurdities, being purely human. 

It was with one of its women, a woman born 
in it, whose nature was sweet but inclined to 
folly, that my lot was cast for a little. 

I spent some time looking for an apartment. 
A hotel was too expensive. And of course a 
boarding-house, where we should be obliged to 
meet all sorts of curiosities and become known 
to them, was quite out of the question. 

I finally discovered an apartment house 
which had all of my requirements. It was in a 
quiet street, was owned by a woman who had 
imbibed some of the "art ideas" which had 
been gradually making their way in America 
since the "Centennial Year," and had con 
verted her old home into apartments. She had 
succeeded in turning out something which to 
the American idea was "French," although I 



We Look About Us 181 

never saw anything in France like it. The old- 
fashioned brownstone steps had been taken 
away and a portico built over the basement 
door, which became the rez-de-chauss^e. The 
strip in front was asphalted, and a high iron 
fence separated it from the street. Balconies 
and latticed bow windows were thrown out at 
the front and back of the house and the walls 
of the rooms wainscoted. Open fire-places 
with brass fittings and high colonial mantle- 
pieces were put in as a compensation for dark 
middle rooms and tin bath-tubs. 

I was fortunate in securing a furnished apart 
ment here, which we made tasteful by the dra 
peries and knick-knacks we had brought with 
us. We paid one hundred and thirty dollars a 
month for it. 

I was actually so ignorant of New York ways 
that I did not know how foolish I was to rent a 
furnished apartment in April. To my mind 
New York was in the north and consequently 
cool, and I did not realize that the whole 
world of people whom I wished to know was 
already away or going. I discovered this after 
I had settled and sent my cards to the Ameri 
cans I knew. Not one of them was in town. 

There was not so much to amuse one in New 



1 82 'The Highroad 

York as there is now. There were not so many 
theaters and those that were open were not lively. 
When 1 look back upon the audiences of those 
days it is with a smile. Every woman wore a 
hat, and she was not far from the black silk 
era. One of the pretty evening frocks which 
are so common in our audiences now would 
have created a sensation and usurped the atten 
tion usually given to the stage. 

We found it terribly dull, and Genevieve 
was at no .pains to conceal her disgust. I think 
that I was in danger of losing all hold of her 
at this time. She would have been quite 
capable of finding the money in some fashion 
and buying a ticket back to England had a 
diversion not arrived. 

I came home one day, warm, tired, fancying 
that my judgment was a thing of the past; it 
had seemed to desert me lately. I wondered if 
I could touch Genevieve's heart by letting her 
see that I loved her. It seemed to me that 
here was the place for me to "show my heart." 
In a novel she would have found me some day 
with "a look in my eyes" which would have 
"broken down reserves" between us. We 
should have been mother and child. Her 
heart would have softened to me. 



We Look About Us 183 

Those are -the climaxes of imaginary stories. 
The magazines teem with them. I wonder if 
the people who write them ever knew people 
like that. I used sometimes to think that I 
might do that if it ever seemed expedient 
until I saw Genevieve again. It was in me to 
pretend to be sentimental, but I realized when 
I faced her that never for an instant was it in 
Genevieve. 

I came home this afternoon and wearily 
climbed the narrow gas-lighted stairs that led 
to our apartment. The art burlap on the wall 
and the thoroughly original treatment of the 
niche on the turn of the stairs which marks 
every old New York house, did not compensate 
me for an elevator this day. I was physically 
and mentally tired and realized that we had 
spent too much money. We had spent so 
much that it was going to be impossible for us 
to go away properly for the summer without 
danger to our capital. What a bad manager I 
had shown myself! All at once a thought 
struck me. Had I passed the climax of my 
powers? With chills running over my shoul 
ders and tingling along the backs of my hands, 
I remembered my kinfolk. My mother was an 
old woman at thirty-five. All ill-bred things 



184 The Highroad 

grow old early. It is a law. It is the sure 
mark of inferiority. And as we grow old we 
return to our race to its characteristics. 

Was I going to become one of those silent, 
wizened women, going through the tread-mill 
of existence, never thinking, marching to the 
end of life in a tired indifference? My aunts, my 
mother's sisters, and my cousins passed before 
me. I felt for that moment as Dryope must 
have felt when she knew herself turning into a 
tree, the bark growing stiff about her; only 
instead of weeping I wanted to shriek a pro 
test, to push the enlacing bark aside. With an 
effort of will I ceased to plod wearily up the 
stairs and went up like a girl, bounding into 
the "hall" of our apartment (which was a con 
verted hall bed-room). 

I had put on a pretty little pearl gown that 
morning and a toque of violets, and as it was 
the day of dowdy street dressing in New York, 
had felt myself ridiculous in my simple Paris 
frock as I saw the looks of the fat women I 
passed. But I met a different glance now. 

As I entered two young men arose. They 
had been sitting together on a couch facing 
Genevieve, the lattices of the bay-window 
behind them. One of them was so magnifi- 



We Look About Us 185 

cent that he left the other colorless and insig 
nificant. 

When I think of the good-looking men I have 
known in my life, my mind always goes back 
to Chester Ward as not only the handsomest 
man but the most absolutely beautiful human 
being I ever saw. His mother told me once 
that she had heard the old tale of ./Esop's wife 
and had marked her child with beauty, and she 
showed me the engraving which she had kept 
ever facing her eyes before Chester's birth. 
It was a banal portrait of Wilkes Booth! But 
surely the gods themselves had waited on the 
marking of Chester. He had the form of 
Apollo and the ox eyes of Juno. 

I knew him at once, although when I had 
last seen him he was a lank, curly-haired boy, 
bringing in wood and water for his mother, 
who had lived next door to us in Fowlersburg. 
In my surprise at seeing him and asking how 
he had found us I almost forgot the small 
square clever-eyed young man who waited 
politely by his side. 

He was presently introduced to me as Mr. 
Babcock, a college friend of Chester's whom 
he had met in New York only that day. Ches 
ter, he told me, was living in Washington, 



1 86 'The Highroad 

where he was practicing law. He was over in 
New York for a week and had taken the occa 
sion to call upon us, as he had heard from 
Fowlersburg that we were living here. Ches 
ter talked staccato in a charming voice: 

"I suppose you will be going down soon. 
They are going to put a railroad through your 
place, they tell me. Property is advancing in 
price around Fowlersburg. You will be sell 
ing your farm for town lots in a few years. 
Mother talks about you all the time. She told 
me, if I saw you, to be sure and tell you to 
come down and spend the whole summer with 
her, and you could talk over old times." 

Of course I said that I would never sell the 
old place, town lots or no town lots. The 
town has never grown out in this direction, so 
I have kept that promise, but the prospect of it 
at that moment put new life into me. 

Babcock, whose eyes were fastened on Gene- 
vieve, let us talk on, but I could see my 
daughter casting backward glances toward the 
wonderful young man whose magnetic pres 
ence and caressing voice seemed to fill the 
whole room. 

Through all the Fowlersburg gossip, the 
story of how this or that girl had married, of 



We Look About Us 187 

how the tale of Lucile's marriage had fairly 
awakened the town, my mind was working. 
Was this beautiful creature available as a hus 
band for Genevieve? I knew that his family 
was among the best in the state. They were 
not rich, but if he were a lawyer in Washing 
ton he might make money. He bore every 
sign of prosperity, and not one of struggle. 
And then the young man with him, I knew by 
his name to belong to a famous New York 
family. 

I turned to Mr. Baocock presently and told 
him that I thought that I had met his cousin, 
Mrs. Dodds, in London. 

I had hesitated over this at first. I was 
making a complete chain by which ail my pre 
tensions could be exposed to New York, If 
Chester wished, he could tell the story of our 
pretensions to this young man. But something 
very tangible told me that Chester would do 
nothing of the sort. 

I, Lady Horton's mother, was very useful to 
him. It is one thing to belong to an old We,st 
Virginia family, and another to reach New 
York society. And in Chester's eyes we had 
always been unusual people. He had seen the 
wicker chairs and chintz roses, those wonders 



1 88 The Highroad 

of his day. From the way he accented the old 
friendship for his mother, and led the talk to 
France and England, I could see that he had 
brought Babcock to us that we might impress 
him; and so ungrateful was I, that that one 
thing decided me that Chester would not do. 
He did not ring sound. 

It was luncheon time presently, and we in 
sisted that the young men should stay for a 
"woman's luncheon." 

"Old-fashioned West Virginia manner," I 
said to Babcock, and we all took the remark 
seriously. 

We had the French servant I had brought 
with me, and I knew that the soup pot was full, 
as always, and that a salad, a bottle of wine 
and informality would go a great way with 
young men. 

They, in their turn, asked us to go out to 
dinner with them at Delmonico's that even 
ing. 

As we went down the stairs in the evening's 
dusk, we passed our upstairs neighbor, who 
had already begun to excite my curiosity. She 
looked at Chester with frank admiration, but 
she nodded with a smile which lowered her 
eyelids and drew up one side of her mouth 



We Look About Us 189 

whimsically when she saw Babcock. He 
greeted her with formality. 

Chester walked along for a moment in 
silence. 

"Wasn't that Mrs. Wallingford?" he asked. 

"I think that is her name." 

"Do you mean to say you never heard of 
her?" 

"Never. There is no need to pretend that 
I know New York. I do not." 

"Ever see the great William B. about 
here?" 

"William B.?" 

"Large man with a slight limp." 

"Oh, you mean I thought isn't that her 
father?" 

"He is here then!" 

"What do you mean?" I asked impatiently. 

"I'll come around some day and tell you," 
Chester said. 

"She seemed to take an interest in you," I 
said, "but I suppose you are accustomed to 
that." 

"I don't believe I care to encourage any 
interest on the part of Mrs. Wallingford. Wil 
liam B. is said to stop at nothing. I might find 
myself dead some evening." 



190 The Highroad 

He walked along with me for a moment and 
then he laughed again. "I have just treated 
myself to Burton's Arabian Nights," he said. 
"A wonderful book which ladies of course 
never read." 

"It contains a good deal of human nature 
which is western as well as eastern," I said 
absently. 

"Oh you have ?" Chester began. 

"I was speaking of the usual edition. The 
Burton, of course, never gets into general cir 
culation," I said. 

"Conversational or otherwise?" Chester ven 
tured. 

But Mr. Babcock asked me a question and I 
made no reply. 



My Neighbor 191 



XVII 

My Neighbor 

Babcock had fallen in love with Genevieve. 
It was one of those passions which astonish us 
when they come to sober clever men and 
seemingly change every taste and habit of 
their lives. We have all seen men in the thrall 
of such a fascination. 

The women of the Babcock family had been 
generally pretty and always commonplace, 
well born and bred, and doing in the appointed 
time the things which were expected of them. 

Genevieve's caprice, her foreign education, 
her cheap cynicism played upon Elwin Bab- 
cock's nerves. She was a bit of gaudy color, 
and he had lived in a family life which was 
colorless. He had not gone into Bohemian 
society because that was outside his taste. He 
was ambitious to make a name for himself at 
the bar. He and Chester had fallen together 
at college because Chester lacked the means to 
keep up with the fast set. They had met on 



192 be Highroad 

the common ground of athletics; for while 
Babcock was small, he was sturdy and a cap 
ital football player, with the virtues and the 
hardness of that particular pastime, as one 
could figure out by looking at him. 

I went frankly about ascertaining his for 
tune, by going to an agency which put me in 
possession of the bare facts. He had fifteen 
thousand dollars a year income from his grand 
father, would have more when his mother died, 
and was making between four and five thousand 
dollars a year as the law partner of a relative. 

Twenty thousand dollars a year was a better 
income in New York then than it is now, and 
he belonged to the best people in the town. 
I wanted Genevieve off my hands. I was 
afraid for her. I wondered if she would marry 
Babcock and I did not dare to ask her, 
although no motives of delicacy hindered me, 
as with Lucile. 

I had thought of my children always as 
pieces on my chess-board that could be moved 
about as I wished, but here was one that I 
could not count upon one who might ruin 
us all. 

Two days after the two young men called, 
Genevieve spent the whole afternoon out. 



My Neighbor 193 

When she came in I asked her where she had 
been. 

"To walk," she said, shortly. 

"I do not wish you to go out alone, my 
dear," I said gently. 

"This is not Paris nor yet London," she 
returned indifferently. "When are we going 
away for the summer? It is suffocating here 
now." 

I had been awaiting this moment and I was 
actually afraid to say outright that it was im 
possible for us to go at all. Indeed, I began 
to think it might be possible. I used to won 
der what people meant when they talked about 
the influence of a strong will. I never remem 
bered having been influenced by a strong will, 
but Genevieve taught me that in the case of a 
daughter it is worked like a species of black 
mail. If I did not do what she wished, she 
would most certainly do something I did not 
like. 

I had had every drawer and box which be 
longed to Genevieve fitted with keys of my 
own, and I went through them for letters every 
time she went out. I had discovered nothing 
from London, and from her attitude I con 
cluded that the affair I had nipped in the bud 



194 *rbe Highroad 

had been merely a passing amusement on both 
sides. I found a locket with some diamonds 
on the outside, but nothing within. 

"They say," Genevieve went on, "that a 
cottage at Newport is the best thing over here." 

"We cannot afford that." 

"You might send for old Prolmann and get 
him to take one." She did not look at me, 
but sprinkled paprika on her salad with an 
ostentatious care. 

My heart stopped beating for a moment and 
then went heavily on. I had control of my 
voice by the second beat. 

"He would doubtless do that to give his old 
friends pleasure, but he is very ill. You know 
he could not come to Lucile's wedding." And 
I looked straight into her insolent face. 

The question of the summer was settled 
before long. Mrs. Dodds was going to Paris 
for a week or two, to come back on a yacht 
which her husband had leased from an English 
man. To please her cousin Elwin and to meet 
the Malpierres and have Lady Horton's sister 
as a guest, she asked to take Genevieve with 
her, and bring her back for the Newport 
season in August. It is expensive to stay with 
people of wealth like the Dodds, but there was 



My Neighbor 195 

nothing else to do. Mr. Dodds was one of 
the new rich men who had married rather late 
in life into an old family. Robert and I would 
stay in the New York apartment and nobody 
would know the difference. But naturally we 
did not speak of that to Mrs. Dodds in all the 
hurry of her departure. 

It was Mrs. Dodds who introduced me to 
Mrs. Wallingford. We met in the big square 
hall which had been the basement dining-room 
of the old house from which our apartment 
house had been converted. 

The two ladies greeted each other with a half 
indifferent smile which lifted the corner of her 
soft mouth on the part of my fellow tenant, 
and something like embarrassment in the man 
ner of Mrs. Dodds. We were going for a drive 
in Central Park in the Dodds's carriage. 

When we were seated in the victoria Mrs. 
Dodds said almost apologetically, "I went to 
school with Lily Mainwaring and she was 
always an agreeable girl, Her marriage was 
most unfortunate. Of course I never knew 
the facts," she added hastily. "My husband 
will never have her at the house even for the 
largest affairs. He does not feel that the old 
family ties hold." Mrs. Dodds waited for 



196 'The Highroad 

questions. She evidently had an impression 
that as she had introduced me to my neighbor 
she must tell me all about her. The introduc 
tion had been part of the embarrassment of the 
moment of meeting, something that her con 
fusion had not known how to avoid. "Her 
husband is dead. He spent all of her fortune, 
and it is said" more hesitation "that he 
borrowed a great deal from her friends." 

"Surely she was not to blame for that," I 
ventured. 

"She was to blame for even marrying the 
man in the first place. She was at school in 
Paris when she met him. He was an officer in 
the English army, and a great deal older and 
married." 

"Married?" 

"Yes. Imagine a girl ever thinking of a 
married man!" I saw that I must give Gene- 
vieve a word of warning for this visit with 
Mrs. Dodds. She might listen to advice con 
cerning a thing which was going to affect her 
pleasure, as Mrs. Dodds's displeasure could 
do. 

"I cannot," I said. 

"Well, maybe she didn't. It may have been 
only himself. At any rate, he went back to 



My Neighbor 197 

England, persuaded his wife to get a divorce 
or made her do so, changed his name, and 
came over here and married Lily Mainwaring. 
People accepted him before they knew all the 
story and it is very difficult to drop people 
after they have been taken up. Then he 
spent her money, and well, entertained a 
good deal." She stopped. 

"Isn't her father living?" I asked inno 
cently, and then before Mrs. Dodds could 
answer, I went on, "I see him going up every 
day almost. A tall old man with a limp." 

Mrs. Dodds's face expressed excitement 
but she was not a gossip. "That is Mr. Wil 
liam B. Clancy. He is he was an old friend 
of her husband. But you must be mistaken 
in thinking that he goes up there every day?" 
There was a distinct interrogation at the end 
of the sentence. 

"I doubtless am," I laughed. "See how 
one may hypnotize oneself, and what human 
testimony is worth. I thought he was her 
father, and when I saw him once or twice, I 
imagined he came every day." She looked at 
me keenly. I knew that he came almost every 
day, that he stayed to dinner often, that a 
caterer's man came at seven o'clock with the 



198 'The Highroad 

elaborate meal and stayed to see that it was 
sent into the dining-room. One hears a great 
deal in the shaft of a dumb waiter. But there 
is an old proverb which says that "Silence is 
the god of the lucky." 



My Neighbor's Ways 199 



XVIII 

My Neighbor's Ways 

After Genevieve had sailed away with advice 
as plain as I could give, I went up to Cam 
bridge and Robert came home with me. 

I found him much more agreeable than I had 
expected. Prolmann and his secretary and 
Madame Vestrine had done wonders for the 
boy. He was still a boy, of course. In that 
lay his charm. 

There were no complaints from him when 
the smothering heat of July came upon us. 
Some days we would take the boat to Long 
Branch, on others we would go up to the casino 
in the park or to Claremont for dinner. But our 
own little cold dinners in the negligee of home 
and in the half dusk were more comfortable. 

I grew fond of Robert then. He had a sweet 
nature too sweet a nature, I felt sure, to make 
his way in the rough and tumble of the financial 
world. And yet he had no real mind for a 
profession. I thought a good deal of Robert's 
future. 

It was in July that we became friends with 



2oo The Highroad 

Mrs. Wallingford. For some days I had not 
seen "the Great William B." limping up the 
stairs, nor had I heard the sounds of gay 
laughter and the popping of champagne corks. 
One morning I read in my Herald that Mr. 
Clancy had gone west upon an important rail 
road matter. He would go on to the north 
west and be gone a month. I was sure from 
the sounds above that Mrs. Wallingford was 
still in the house. Tire caterer came as usual, 
but with no such elaboration of equipment. I 
could open the door of the dumb waiter and 
see what went up, as well as the champagne 
bottles and pati terrines that came down in the 
mornings. Sometimes there had been broken 
china and glasses after a particularly lively 
supper. 

Mrs. Wallingford seemed to have few 
women visitors and most of them came in the 
morning. In the evenings and afternoons of 
the first month we came, there had been three 
constant visitors. Usually they came sep 
arately, but sometimes they happened in 
together. They almost never all dined there, 
but sometimes I heard all three voices at sup 
per. There was a delightful big bow window 
in each back room of the apartments. I used 



My Neighbor's Ways 201 

this room for my bed-room, but evidently Mrs. 
Wallingford used hers for a dining-room, for I 
could hear the sounds of supper in the window 
on warm spring nights. I could hear very few 
words, but enough to know that the big, ath 
letic, highly-colored clergyman who was so 
often a guest, was not leading Mrs. Walling 
ford and her friends in prayer. 

This clergyman I once went to hear preach 
later, simply to become accustomed to the 
cadences of his powerful voice. I sat in a pew 
in his well-filled church and heard him preach 
practical life. His text was from Habakkuk: 
"Woe is him that giveth his neighbor drink, 
that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him 
drunken also." 

His congregation was made up of all sorts of 
people, as the pews were free and he had ad 
mirers in all classes, but I doubt if any of them 
enjoyed that sermon as much as I did. 

Church had grown to be a habit with me, and 
it was not until the next autumn that I discov 
ered that Mr. Bliss Mr. Bliss of Fowlers- 
burg had charge of the most fashionable 
church in New York. When I heard it I 
laughed, and I made one comment to myself: 
"You cannot keep us down!" 



2O2 'The Highroad 

It came to my ears later that Mr. Bliss was 
now exercising his tact toward a very rich, 
very stupid man, whose temper had been 
soured by the social successes of a sister-in- 
law who was then in the act of leading the 
family into the giddy heights of "society." 
This sister-in-law, as a matter of fact, created 
the "new" society in New York, the society 
which is founded upon money. She had a 
sense of humor and no bump of reverence. 
When her heavy brother-in-law asked for rever 
ence, as the head of the family, she gave him 
the sort of laughter which he furiously likened 
to the crackling of thorns under a pot. She 
asked "society" to go to the great house he 
had built and see how funny he and his wife 
were. She entertained guests with stories of 
the economies of a man whose income was 
three millions a year. 

Mr. Bliss soothed the baited one's sore 
nerves by showing him how he could distance 
her by becoming a great philanthropist. Inci 
dentally, Mr. Bliss became his almoner and a 
part of his church. Mr. Bliss had first been a 
mission worker in New York. He left Fow- 
lersburg because in a moment of a return to 
nature he married the paid organist. I went 



My Neighbor's Ways 203 

to Mr. Bliss' church. He welcomed me with 
solemn joy. I was the mother-in-law of Lord 
Horton. Like Chester, he needed friends of 
his youth who were presentable in his new 
field of action. 

This story has no coherence, I see. I digress 
like any other old woman. 

The third friend of Mrs. Wallingford was a 
mystery to me for a long time. I should 
never have dreamed of asking questions of the 
janitress, and it would have done no good had 
I done so, as Mrs. Wallingford' s visitors were 
more than freehanded. But one day I saw his 
picture in the Herald and recognized it, with a 
tingling shock. He was one of the greatest of 
financiers, a man whose projects were world 
wide greater even than "the great William 
B." He was a thin, spare, active-looking 
man, with brilliant eyes set very close to 
gether. I studied his face with curiosity. 
These men made Mrs. Wallingford very inter 
esting to me. 

My admiration for her was acute at first, and 
then what a fool she was to risk her reputa 
tion! Both of these men were married. So 
was the clergyman, but I left him out. What 
was she doing? What was she going to do? 



2O4 Tbe Highroad 

The situation lay there before me like a puz 
zle, and the great question finally became, 
what was I going to do? To let this situation 
alone was impossible. I needed too much. 
Do not imagine that I put it to myself like 
that. But rich men, men who juggled with 
the finances of the world, were valuable friends, 
if one knew how to use them. That Mrs. Wal- 
lingford did not know. 

The hall of the apartment house was simply 
the old basement front room. (The janitress 
pigged along in a room or two behind.) It had 
been made pretty with stained glass, an open 
fire-place and soft couches. It was an easy 
place to linger for a moment before mounting 
the stairs, and one day I was there waiting 
for Robert to come downstairs, when Mrs. 
Wallingford came in. She looked pale from 
the heat and sat down hastily, almost strug 
gling for breath. Robert came down the stairs 
and faced her, as she sat there pale and ex 
hausted. He gave a soft little exclamation of 
concern at the sight of her suffering, and tak 
ing up a palm leaf fan, which lay on the table, 
began fanning her. 

"May I get you a glass of water, some 
wine anything?" he asked. His manner was 



My Neighbor's Ways 205' 

perfect. He had never seen her before. She 
looked at him gratefully with her pretty, one 
sided smile which showed a dimple in her 
cheek. . She was almost as old as I, but there 
was an indefinable girlishness about her, some 
thing sweet, appealing, tender. 

I joined my solicitude to Robert's. She 
assured us that it was a momentary faintness 
due to the heat. She had not been well of late. 
She ought to get out of town. 

Robert (whom I had introduced as my son) 
went upstairs with her. 

The next morning I mounted to her apart 
ment to ask about her health. I found her in 
a bed-room which should have been preserved 
in a museum as typical. 

She had taken the dark middle room just 
back of the "parlor" as her bed-room. The 
bed was on a dais which jutted out into the 
room, the head coming against the wall. At 
first in the dim rose-shaded lights this bed 
looked like something very handsome, and 
then I saw what it was. An old-fashioned four 
poster bedstead had been painted old ivory 
color and set against the wall. Between the 
posts at the head had been hung a high relief 
of Delia Robbia's singing boys in plaster with 



206 fbe Highroad 

an ivory finish. From the ceiling swung a 
canopy of rose-colored tarlatan in full folds, 
enveloping the bed and the dais. The walls of 
the room had first been covered with pink and 
then hung in full folds of the tarlatan. Folds 
of the thin stuff draped the dressing-table, 
which glittered with ivory and gold. A cheval 
glass, and a six-fold screen of mirrors, set in 
gilt garlands, enlarged the room and reflected 
all this soft rosiness, which was full of the 
scent of orris and carnation, making a peculiar, 
pungent combination which took my nerves. 
Hot as it was, there were a half dozen candles 
lighted under pink shades. Mrs. Wallingford 
lay on the wide bed in a nightgown (if you 
could imagine so wonderful a creation as made 
for darkness) which showed her neck and arms. 
Across her feet was a spread of lace lined with 
pink, each fold as exact as though it had been 
drawn by a rule and compass. She did not 
seem to be reading. There was no light suffi 
cient for reading. She was simply lying there 
like a great white rose in her pink nest. Even 
the lace handkerchief in her hand seemed to 
be arranged as part of the picture. 

She was most agreeable, almost cordial in a 
languid way. And with a childish naivett she 



My Neighbor's Ways 207 

asked about Robert, and told me to ask him 
to come and see her. 

"He was so kind," she said. 

As I went downstairs I met Van Nest, the 
great financier, with his bright eyes glancing at 
me curiously, coming up the stairs. I did not 
wonder how long Mrs. Wallingford kept him 
waiting, he, whose time was so precious, while 
she dressed for a visitor. 



208 'The Highroad 

XIX 

/ Plant a Seed 

In the days which followed, we came to 
know Mrs. Wallingford very well, and I think 
she felt that we were a godsend to her indolent 
life. She of course knew something of us, or 
thought she did, and like all women in her 
position, she may then have dreamed of hav 
ing some friends who might make her inde 
pendent of the society which was bit by bit 
drawing away from her. 

She was almost simple-minded, disarmingly 
so, almost lovable in her ingenuousness, 
although love for her was inhibited in me by 
the contempt with which she filled me. She 
seemed to have no will-power at all, no re 
serves except the reserve of indolence. She 
gave of herself out of her sweetness, as a 
flower gives perfume. It was a sensuous per 
fume, something that troubled. I could recon 
struct her marriage. I could picture to myself 
that young girl who met the admiration of 
everybody with kindness and who had no 



I Plant a Seed 209 

hardness anywhere with which to rebuff. The 
older man had simply taken what she had no 
power to refuse and history was doubtless 
repeating itself. 

Nature is never more blandly oblivious of 
our frantic civilization than in a woman like 
this. Is she a weed or a flower? What is a 
flower except a weed that appeals to some one 
of our senses. Our scheme of civilization is 
utilitarian, founded on the inheritance of 
property, and this woman will never keep in 
line. The women who do are quite right in 
condemning her, in pushing her out of the way. 

I knew that Mrs. Wallingford had no money. 
Every one possessed that bit of information, 
and yet she spent money lavishly. She seemed 
to have no idea of its value. I saw very soon 
that the expenditures of the little apartment 
would serve to keep up a house. I doubt not, 
in fact I know, that the portfolio in her gay 
little Louis XV. desk grew packages of pink 
bank notes, that her debts were paid by a 
"secretary." She gave ways and means no 
thought at all. She rested upon life as tran 
quilly as she rested on her rosy bed. 

It was through an accident that I met Mr. 
Van Nest. 



2io 'The Highroad 

I too was a little bored. New York was 
very dreary and depressing, and sometimes 
when the silence above told me that my neigh 
bor was alone, I would go up in the evening 
with Robert. The boy must have some one 
upon whom to practice his social graces, and 
Mrs. Wallingford was thirty-five. 

One evening we had gone upstairs about 
nine. We found the lattices of the drawing- 
room wide open to catch the air, the pink- 
shaded candles few and dim, and Mrs. 
Wallingford a fluff of white lace lying idly in 
a long chair. We came in without disturbing 
her, and sat and talked of the heat, of the 
nothings which make up so much of social con 
verse that it seems wonderful that we should 
take the trouble to speak. 

Robert told her of some old French songs 
which Madame Vestrine had given him, and he 
went downstairs and brought them up. They 
lighted the candles at the piano and tried them 
over, the quaint music, written for a spinnet, 
the sentimental old words sounding strange in 
their full rich voices with the piano. 

Mrs. Wallingford's maid opened the door 
and a man came in. Mrs. Wallingford turned 
her face over her shoulder, smiled, and with- 



I Plant a Seed 211 

out other greeting mentioned Van Nest's 
name and mine, and went on with her song. 
No proof of intimacy could have been more 
complete. 

He sat down beside me in the window and 
presently we talked. After the song was fin 
ished Mrs. Wallingford came over with Robert, 
and I would have gone, but they begged us to 
stay and I found in Van Nest an attitude 
which puzzled me then. He seemed glad that 
we were there and he wanted to keep us. He 
spoke to me frankly of Mrs. Wallingford' s 
loneliness, and showed that he knew that we 
had lightened it. He said that she would not 
go away. And there was that in his voice, 
gratified vanity, whatever it may be, which 
gave me to understand that she would not go 
while he remained. 

It was late when we left them, and I would 
have given anything to have sat downstairs 
and gone over that affair with some intelligent 
human being. When Henry and William 
James gossip, how delightful they must find it! 

We saw as much of Van Nest during the 
next ten days as though he had been a friend. 
My "ignorance" of New York stood me here. 
I knew nothing from gossip, of course; how 



212 The Highroad 

could I? And I am sure that in Van Nest's 
eyes I was too innocent, too stupid, to see any 
thing for myself. It has been my lot to under 
stand why men like fools of women. They 
have shown it to me, because they have so 
often done me the honor to consider me half- 
fool. Men love to talk, to pose before a mirror, 
as it were, and they want the mirror to be shal 
low and really to hold no permanent reflections. 
They do the posing for their own pleasure and 
want to leave no records. 

Here and now, as many other times, I ached 
to be my own self. How I wanted to show 
myself that I understood this man, whose 
mind was considered so great that kings and 
emperors had sought his society that they 
might learn some of his secrets for their 
people. Truly to interest is so easy that I 
wonder why any woman is uninteresting, if that 
is her chief care. All that is necessary is to 
know what is in the mind of a man at the 
moment and throw a new light on it, or play 
with it, so that he has a chance to bring it out 
into the open. Nobody on this earth cares for 
any truly new thing that has not a vital asso 
ciation with (not the present) his personal pres 
ent. Wit only reaches its point when it is a 



I Plant a Seed 213 

new light upon what we already love or hate. 
And what trivial things were in the mind of 
this "great" man! It did not take me long to 
realize that his greatness consisted simply in 
seeing the world small. It was as though he 
had a world in miniature before his eyes, like a 
living map like a game. Here was a line of 
steamships, and here a railroad, so much corn 
grew in this section, the population yonder 
consumed so much. Some other man who 
owned something which this man wanted had 
no map, and was like a blind man going over a 
path which he vaguely knew from having been 
led over it by some predecessor. It was easy 
for the man with the map in his head to be 
wilder that blind man, put him in a new path, 
alter his goal, and take his business. 

But something which this man with the vi 
sion of the earth did not see small was himself. 
I could see how all at once in his later years 
there had come to him a ,sudden feeling of 
fright that there was something he had 
missed. It was something that all the poets, 
the painters, the historians even, had agreed 
was the greatest thing in the whole universe, 
the thing which gave savor to everything else. 
And he, like thousands of other men married 



214 The Highroad 

in their youth, had never felt it. I could imag 
ine how Mrs. Wallingford's one-sided smile, 
her tender eyes, her air of "I am kind, let me 
love you I ant kind," had first made him believe 
that this was still possible for him. It was 
something that she could not help, for which 
she was in no sense morally responsible, if 
after all, anybody is morally responsible for 
anything. Why is a too soft heart, a desire to 
be held and protected and sheltered, different 
from a soft complexion? Do we create our 
selves? In his very dignified Gifford lectures, 
Prof. William James of Harvard tells of a 
woman who said she "loved to cuddle up to 
God." To some women the understanding of 
God is not given, although the instinct to 
"cuddle" is there. 

I saw much in this week, and the chief thing 
was that I must get away. I was growing too 
intimate with the great Van Nest; and the 
thought that I, with my ambitions, should be 
flying from that possibility gave me smiles. 
But I was on the wrong road, and if I went 
farther I should be hopelessly lost. Mrs. Wal- 
lingford would not do. I suppose had I at this 
time ventured one hint to Van Nest he would 
have given me a "tip" on the market or even 



1 Plant a Seed 2 15 

made some investments for me and despised 
me forever after. As I have clearly seen many 
times, money may be purchased too dearly. 
The bare possibility of money is so often the 
lure which ruins. But then ^Esop, who pic 
tured most things, gave us that too in the long 
ago in his dog and stream story. 

One evening Mrs. Wallingford brought Mr. 
Van Nest downstairs to us, and he asked Rob 
ert and me to go off for a cruise in his yacht 
with Mrs. Wallingford. 

I thank God for presence of mind. I pro 
duced a telegram calling me to West Virginia 
the next day, but there was no reason why 
Robert should not go. I had many thoughts 
over the situation. I had waited late at night 
for Robert to come bright-eyed down the 
stairs. The boy was not a fool and he had 
attracted Mrs. Wallingford in a way which had 
probably never come to her before. I let my 
fancy go as to the effect this sudden intimacy 
of theirs, the woman whose ties seemed to be 
so many and the boy whose ties were all to 
make, would have upon those who claimed 
her attention. In the necessities of the case 
there could be no violence of any sort. If 
Robert was to be eliminated it would most 



216 The Highroad 

naturally be by that method known as kicking 
him upstairs to bed. His reluctance to be 
take himself to innocuous rest would doubtless 
measure the distance to which he was elevated. 

Two days after my talk with Mr. Van Nest, I 
went down to Fowlersburg, leaving Robert 
behind. 

We sat in the window the last evening, my 
only son and I, and talked of many things of 
the letters from Lucile, of little Jane at school, 
of Madame Vestrine. 

"I am gratified that you had the association 
with a woman of the world," I said to him. 

"She made me see life a little more broadly," 
he answered. 

"She had been disappointed in her own 
son." 

"I think," Robert said hesitatingly, lighting 
a new cigarette, "that he was what she should 
have expected. She married a man she should 
never have married for love, so called. Her 
son was born of that union." 

I sat there gasping. I think I almost blushed 
at these words from the boy. 

"What could she expect except a lapse from 
the highest civilization? a return to nature?" 

"I am beginning to think," I allowed my- 



I Plant a Seed 217 



self to say, "that the rule does not hold good. 
I married your father for love." 

"But, would you if he had been a laborer 
on your father's farm?" 

Truly, I felt that in my son Robert there 
might not be great force, the great energy 
which is but another name for righting instinct, 
but there was more insight than in most. I 
might even, in time, take him into my confi 
dence. As a matter of fact I never have. 
Our manner to each other is, however, one of 
complete understanding. 



218 The Highroad 



XX 



Fowlersburg 

My visit to Fowlersburg interested and 
amused me more than any experience I had 
ever had in my life. Now it was that I thor 
oughly realized what an education the passing 
years had been to me, what new vision and 
understanding was mine. How sorry I felt for 
those who, seeing, saw not. When I left Fow 
lersburg I had had nothing real with which to 
compare people. I valued them wrongly, 
sometimes too high and sometimes too low. 
Here on one little canvas was the drama of 
life, all within one's vision, not partly hid 
den as in larger places. I do not wonder that 
it is the men from small towns who go to cities 
and control them. It is a simple problem as 
soon as they learn, as Van Nest had learned, 
that great concerns follow exactly the same 
laws as small ones. Society is necessarily 
much the same everywhere, being made up of 
individuals of the human family. Again, here 
in Fowlersburg I thought how little the ma- 



Fowlersburg 219 

jority of the world sees. When I went out to 
"tea" (it was "supper" when they were not 
entertaining) or to the various forms of enter 
tainment to which they invited me, almost 
every one expressed surprise that I did not 
find it dull in Fowlersburg. "Why?" I some 
times asked. 

"Oh, but you must miss society. Although," 
they would often add, "I suppose you realize 
its hollowness." (I wonder who was the first 
person to call society "hollow.") "But even 
so," they would go on, "there are all the ad 
vantages of music and the drama." 

And I used to answer politely, and look at 
the speaker and fairly ache to tell her that she 
was a character in a drama, that the stage could 
never produce anything so interesting. 

Isn't it strange that people will die of ennui 
in the midst of a life and people that would 
thrill them with interest if it were shown to 
them through the eyes of another? 

Fowlersburg fairly reeked with characters 
and they lived stories, too, which are worthy 
of an artist in narrative. One woman down 
there possessed my mind. Often I have seen a 
landscape which for an instant developed itself 
through an atmosphere which made my. heart 



220 'The Highroad 

ache because I was not Corot that I might 
record the fleeting Mona Lisa smile of mys 
terious nature. So Mrs. Cavendish tormented 
me. She was old, old in body, and her spirit 
was young and hated her old body and tried to 
hide it. She came to "tea" with us one even 
ing when Mrs. Ward had invited a number of 
her old friends, and she sat there gay of voice, 
youthfully dressed, wigged, scattering the wit 
ticisms, the theories of life, the anecdotes that 
she had taken from years of reading but which 
her audience accepted as original, her poor, 
lined, parchment-like old face covered by a 
heavy veil hanging from a "picture hat," 
which she lifted for each mouthful of food. Is 
there anything in fiction, in drama, if you will, 
stranger than this woman? How Thackeray 
would have loved her! 

Mrs. Ward came to take me home with her 
the day I reached the town, which I had found 
greatly changed. The hotel was a new one, 
rejoicing in its modern improvements of 
fringed napkins, blue glass finger-bowls and 
red brussels carpets. The food in that land of 
plenty was tough or canned, and to me, a little 
dainty about what I ate in these latter years 
since the flavor of the pickled pork which was 



Fowlersburg 221 

my husband's favorite dish had gone from my 
palate, it was impossible. When my old 
acquaintance came to see me, I rejoiced at the 
prospect of being asked out to supper, and my 
joy shone in my face. 

Mrs. Ward was noticeably nervous. She had 
put on her best dress, which was a black gros- 
grain silk trimmed with jet, and a new pair of 
shoes. The yellow soles of those new shoes, 
and the tight strings to the black lace bonnet 
which sat, narrow and assertive, on the tightly 
crimped hair above the pretty forehead, gave 
me my first hint of what an important person I 
had grown to be in Fowlersburg. 

"Chester said he had seen you in New York, 
and that you were just like old times" she 
held me away from her and looked at me with 
real affection. "I couldn't believe that you'd 
come back just the same old neighbor that 
used to pass cake over the fence." I had for 
gotten the cake-passing episode because it was 
never a habit of mine, but it had evidently 
become part of my history since my daughter 
had married a lord, and I was ready enough to 
accept it. Mrs. Ward belonged to one of the 
real old blue-blood families of the state. 
Quite unconsciously she was taking me into an 



222 I'be Highroad 

intimacy which, with all the respect we had 
had in Fowlersburg in those old days I had 
never enjoyed. I had never been really one of 
them. 

"And now," she went on, "if you can put up 
with us, won't you bring your trunk and come 
up and stay? Now Chester has gone, I'm all 
alone. Sometimes it seems to me I can't 
stand it." 

"I should think," I ventured later, when I 
had put on my bonnet (I had put on mourning 
for my father down here) and gone home with 
her, "that you would go to Washington and 
make a home for Chester." 

"I would in a minute, but he doesn't think 
it best. You know his friends are 'all very 
wealthy people, and he has to make as good a 
show as anybody. If you do not, Chester 
says, people will think you are nobody, and if 
that happens he never will get any business, 
Chester says." 

The refrain to every sentence was, "Chester 
says." Chester was the heart of her life, and 
like many another mother she sat at home 
and economized that her son should have "his 
chance." I wondered what my children would 
have done had that been my ideal of duty. I 



Fowlersburg 223 

suppose the sort of teachers of ethics who 
preach in pulpits or newspaper editorials would 
assure me that they would have made good 
Americans, that the iron of self-reliance would 
have developed in them as it had in their 
father and in me, that I had dwarfed their lives 
by having miserable snobbish ideals myself 
and educating them, forcing them, into false 
positions. That may be, but unfortunately I 
notice that the young men and women, and 
even the older ones, who were educated in all 
of these strong American ideals consider the 
finest flower of their success an admission into 
the society where my children live, of which 
they are a part. Lucile, my good narrow 
Lucile, who in her natural environment would 
have read papers on "The Influence of Byzan 
tine Architecture on Russia," to Fowlersburg 
women who have never seen a Russian in their 
lives, is a figure of importance even in her own 
world of English political and social life, just 
as she would have been in the small world of 
Fowlersburg; the big world of England being 
made up of precisely the same sort of people 
with a different education. 

This is not a oopular theory, it is simply the 
truth. 



224 fbe Highroad 

I grew very fond of Mrs. Ward. I was not 
only approved by Chester, but I was a constaat 
source of pride to her. She took excited 
pleasure from reading in the grimy little even 
ing paper which was thrown over the fence at 
supper time every day, that the mother of 
Lady Horton, who was an attractive addition 
to the English peerage, was the guest of Mrs. 
Sarah Canfield Ward of Tenth Street. There 
followed the usual spread-eagle account of 
Lucile's beauty and accomplishments which 
made her "the pride of royalty," the paper 
said. 

Mrs. Ward used to sit up half the summer 
nights to ask me questions concerning the 
habits of the Queen of England and her fam 
ily. To my amazement I discovered that there 
was not a sixteenth cousin of a royalty in 
Europe whose history was unknown to my 
hostess. She had had a Virginia uncle who 
was a traveled young man, and in his youth 
had once come across that adventurer who 
eloped with the Prince Consort's mother, and 
after her death carried her embalmed body 
about Europe in his luggage until Queen Vic 
toria persuaded him to bury it. Mrs. Ward 
enjoyed scandals, but her kindness of heart 



Fowlersburg 225 

prevented her from believing or repeating the 
stories of laxity which are always rife in a town 
like Fowlersburg, where the people grow into a 
liking for coarse intellectual flavors through a 
lack of education in the finer. Few of those 
who repeat scandals concerning their friends 
believe the stories. They go on receiving and 
visiting, in these small towns, ladies concern 
ing whom tales are told, whose shocking coarse 
ness is the invention of the lowest minds. 
Mrs. Ward, a little sentimental, truly sweet, 
would have none of this; but undoubtedly she 
revelled in the "romances" of royalty, and she 
listened breathless to the story of the Duchess 
of Belcourt. I had actually seen this heroine 
of romance. 

I had a pleasant summer down there and I 
grew very, very fond of Mrs. Ward. Chester 
made a flying visit home, and would have given 
me some of the attentions due a young woman, 
but I grew suddenly old and almost frumpy 
during his stay, and closer than ever to his 
mother. I could not afford to have the one 
servant in the house carrying tales of "Chester 
Ward and the widow." I was a quiet, black- 
clad, head-achey little figure during his stay, 
which was not long. 



226 The Highroad 

It was during this visit that my trustees 
kindly offered to relieve me of my "wild 
lands." But a word front Mr. Van Nest had 
fallen on my ear, and something of his way of 
looking at this earth we live on had been for an 
instant possible to me. "West Virginia," Van 
Nest had said, "is the most interesting and 
curious state in this Union. It is practically a 
virgin state, rich in mineral as anyone of the 
western states, and right here at the markets 
for its coal and iron." At any rate I could 
add this opinion to my assets. 

I gently, timidly, mentioned this (quite as 
an original opinion) to Mr. Less, and was met 
with a slight lifting of the eyebrows and a 
superior smile. 

"There is, I believe, coal on the land, is 
there not?" This was pure guess work upon 
my part, from Mr. Van Nest's remarks. 

"It may be a little," Mr. Less said, "but it 
is quite undeveloped and far from markets. 
There is no possible chance of the Pennsyl 
vania coal fields allowing West Virginia coal to 
take any place for another hundred years, and 
by that time your land will be eaten up by 
taxes. You had much better give it away. I 
advise you to take any offer for it." 



Fowlersburg 227 

"But," I said, more and more tirmdly, "my 
husband must have had some reason for buy 
ing it, and I think I should keep it for the chil 
dren. " Then I met with some of that bullying 
which, had I been really the weak, gentle, 
almost tearful little woman I seemed, would 
have certainly been successful. Less assured 
me that as an executor of my husband's will 
he must insist upon my taking his advice. 
"Your children will never forgive you. You 
have a duty to perform toward them. When 
your husband left you everything, he left it as 
a trust, with me as adviser to you." 

"He must have wanted the children to have 
it," I said obstinately. Mr. Less even sent the 
clergyman to remonstrate with me, and Mrs. 
Ward, through a sense of duty, told me that 
Mrs. Less had told her that my obstinacy had 
caused Mr. Less sleepless nights. But even 
for him I could not give up my "estates," and 
his "sleepless nights" made me certain of 
what I had begun to suspect that somewhere 
in the future there might be something. 

I slipped through that summer enjoying the 
social spectacle of Fowlersburg and as always, 
everywhere, learning, learning. Somebody 
has said somewhere, that there is no book so 



228 The Highroad 

stupid, so banal, that it does not contain some 
scraps of information. Surely there is no com 
munity of people which is not teeming with 
illustrations of success and failure and the 
roots thereof. Psychology is the most inter 
esting study in the world, and now that I have 
time I shall search out its rules as formulated 
by the wise. But there are no new examples to 
present to me; I have seen them all. 

Robert did not write me full letters, merely 
notes from here and there. He spent much of 
his time on the yacht of Van Nest. 

By the papers I saw that "the great William 
B. Clancy" was again in the social world, enter 
taining magnificently at Newport. Mrs. Wall- 
ingford never went to Newport, though some 
times to Narragansett; but wherever she went 
Robert was in her train. That he did not get 
into the newspapers was to me an evidence of 
infinite tact. Every Sunday's edition I took 
up with the fear of seeing his frank smiling 
face looking out in a "half-tone." 

It was not long before Genevieve appeared 
in the accounts of Newport. She had spent a 
great deal more money than we could afford, 
while in Paris, and the results seemed to be 
showing at Newport. How I prayed that one 



Fowlersburg 229 

of the young or old millionaires would take 
her off my hands! She seemed to be having a 
success with what was in those days known as 
"the Brass Band" set. Genevieve was past- 
mistress of the art of insolence, and in that 
company there were plenty of glass houses. 
This caused her to "get along," but it did not 
marry her off. In any set a man wants some 
thing more intimate than a battering ram for a 
wife. When one like Genevieve is chosen it is 
usually because she has been idealized. No 
man ever really knows a woman even after he 
marries her. It is not because she is difficult 
to understand, or indeed different from a man 
of the same type. It is simply that he must 
see her through the film of sex. 

To most people Genevieve was antagonistic. 
Underneath even her best manners men felt her 
contempt for them, the contempt born of a 
friendship for Lili, a contempt that I knew was 
in the beginning born of me, but which I had 
almost always succeeded in hiding even from 
myself. Through Genevieve's short letters 
there was always a strain which "rubbed me 
the wrong way." I was angry that even I was 
shown her unpleasantness. A woman of wis 
dom, a safe woman, hides her worst traits. 



230 'The Highroad 

Sometimes I answered these letters in a man 
ner which made my cheeks burn as I put the 
words on paper. And then I destroyed what 
I had written. I did not intend to have any 
thing in my family save sweet peace. 

How I writhed under Genevieve's vulgarity! 
All the more because some of it came to her 
through me. We talk a great deal of mother- 
love. It is truly the passion of my life. What 
have I lived for, save my children? They are 
my immortality. They have in them Me with 
a new start. And yet how well I understand a 
cruel parent! It is their own sins, their own 
vices, their own tendencies born again, that 
they are crushing. How I pitied and hated 
Genevieve's ignorance! Pity is the feeling to 
give those who are called "bad." These 
"New Thought" people have stumbled into a 
truth or two. "Goodness" means nothing ex 
cept the element of growth, the thing which is 
"good" for us, for our bodies, our minds, our 
general happiness, and "bad" is degeneration, 
decay. That is why codes of morals are 
different in different civilizations. Polygamy 
was right and "blessed of God" when a vast 
new land must be peopled, but when we are 
confronted with, a greater population than the 



Fowlers burg 231 

earth can comfortably feed nothing can be so 
"bad." The "bad" in this world those who 
grow ugly with sin are those who do not know 
how to extract the sweetness from the world, 
to live in harmony with their place and time. 

For Genevieve personally I could be said to 
have no love, for myself I had a great deal, 
and I sacrificed much that her way should be 
easy. I kept up a constant correspondence 
with Mrs. Dodds, and I asked Lucile to write 
to her also. I wished to surround Genevieve, 
to soften by the cushions of our convention 
ality, our correctness, the angularities of her 
nature. She must not be just for self, but also 
for Lucile and me. 

And while I was bolstering Genevieve, her 
triumphs at Newport were assisting me. I 
smiled sometimes at the flattering attentions 
given me by the young girls in Fowlersburg. 
Each of them saw herself, in fancy, sharing 
our life in New York. They were insistent 
that I should bring Genevieve down and allow 
them to give her a "good time." 

It was in the middle of August that Mrs. 
Van Nest died and I saw by the papers that 
Mr. Van Nest had taken his two daughters 
and gone abroad. 



232 I'be Highroad 

Mrs. Wallingford went somewhere on the 
Maine coast, and when next I heard from 
Robert the letter was written at her cottage 
there. 



I Add to My Income 233 



XXI 

/ Add to My Income 

There seemed to be nothing for me to do but 
to take a house in New York. The apartment 
had been a blunder. Mrs. Wallingford was an 
acquaintance I could not afford to have, nor 
could we afford to be hidden in an apartment. 
Our vintage required the bush. 

After infinite worry and trouble I found a 
house on Gramercy Park. It was too large, 
too expensive, but I would risk one year of it. 
I was forced into it. Genevieve drove me. 
She fancied that it was entirely by her brutal 
will and I was indifferent concerning her 
thought. I wanted to do what I could for her 
ultimate happiness, that she might be at least 
no disadvantage to the rest of us. To do the 
best for her was instinct with me simply 
because she was my child. It had nothing to 
do with my heart or head. It was primitive. 

I was terribly anxious now about money. 
Some nights my fears caused me to see myself 
building a fire of my last possessions, this 



234 The Highroad 



using of money like millionaires when we had 
almost nothing. I determined that when we 
reached the bottom of the forty thousand dol 
lars of life insurance which my husband had 
left me I would stop. And then what would 
Genevieve do? 

But the problem of finding a larger income 
somewhere, somehow, was ever before me. 
If I had been left alone I should probably have 
made a fair business woman, but my mind was 
developed in another direction. My income 
must come from something which I could do 
secretly. Those advertisements in the news 
papers offering ladies "occupation at home" 
must have been started by a student of social 
conditions, but I was not sufficiently stupid as 
to try that avenue to fortune. 

The time I chose to come to New York 
marked some sharp changes. For example, 
what is known as "yellow journalism" was first 
sufficiently conspicuous among intelligent 
people to acquire the name. All sorts of 
replies have been made to the question as to 
why it was named "yellow." It really came 
from an editorial by Charles Dudley Warner, 
\n Harper's, I think. He wrote apropos of "The 
Yellow Book" which was then new and said 



I Add to My Income 235 

that literature was "getting the yellows" like 
a sick peach-tree. But did you ever stop and 
think that there is some nerve-irritating force 
which flows from the color yellow? I wonder 
if the critic who will grow sarcastic over that 
statement doubts that red inflames the bovine 
nature? The French, those experts in the 
study of nerves, first discovered its peculiar 
quality, and put yellow outside their novels as 
a cryer of the wares within. It was at this 
time that a publisher brought out a cheap 
magazine in yellow yellow outside and men 
tal spoon-food within and promptly discov 
ered how many ignorant people there were in 
America who were pathetically in need of pre- 
digested information upon all subjects. The 
yellow called them and they rejoiced at finding 
"easy reading" within. I speak of this phase 
of New York life because I used it. 

That picture of Lucile which had appeared 
in England had taught me something; in the 
first place, how easy it is to get into print, and 
in the second place, that here was a powerful 
weapon if one knew how to make it serve. 
But then all phenomena are but tools to the 
wise. 

After we were settled in Gramercy Park, I 



236 T'be Highroad 

went to a branch post-office and secured a box 
in the name of "Mary Clay. ' I wrote a meek 
little letter to the editor of the newest of the 
sensational journals and told him that I had 
many opportunities for hearing the stories of 
"society" both in New York and Europe and 
that I should be very glad to sell this informa 
tion to him secretly. My first idea was to place 
my own name continually before the public in 
the best manner. We are like wax, all of us, 
ready for impressions. If we repeatedly hear 
a thing, we end by believing it. They say now 
that there is a physical reason for it, that every 
thought makes a little channel in the brain like 
a crease in a sheet of once-folded paper. If 
the same thought runs along its channel many 
times it ends by changing the very structure of 
the brain. I wanted to be a part of the world's 
idea of fashionable life. 

I found the pursuit of newspaper writing not 
only informing to the public upon my own 
standing, but profitable and exquisitely amus 
ing. Out of pure caprice I made and unmade. 
My "stories" became so popular presently 
that they were to be found almost every Sun 
day occupying a full page in the paper I had 
chosen. Sometimes the photographs were 



I Add to My Income 237 

genuine and sometimes not, the stories cor 
responding. As Mr. Whistler has suggested, 
nature is inartistic and must be dressed up a 
little. I made the heroes and heroines of my 
tales better, and I made them worse as the 
exigencies demanded, and many a girl has 
headed into fame as an heiress and a beauty 
because I could put my hands on a handsome 
photograph of her. As I am not the only 
shrewd American woman, this idea fell into 
the minds of many others. 

About this time the new magazine, whose 
editor was entirely untrammeled by traditions 
of any sort, and who was unable to see why a 
monthly magazine should be less frivolous and 
enlivening than a daily, began to publish a 
department called, 'The American Beauty," 
and I was one of its most useful contributors. 
They used to pay me five or ten dollars apiece 
for those photographs, according to their 
rarity. Alas! How few of them were rare! 
Photographs and cheques "for my trouble," 
came upon me in an avalanche. The originals 
protested to their friends, sometimes even to 
me in my own person, when the very photo 
graph they had pressed upon "Mary Clay" was 
published. And they used to say very unkind 



238 tfbe Highroad 



things about the owner of the magazine for his 
impertinence in presenting their faces to the 
public. 

The Sunday newspapers published almost 
anything I sent. What did they care for the 
truth or falsity of a story, so it was sensational 
or amusing? 

When I could get no American photographs 
I bought them from foreign photographers by 
many devious ways. Naturally, that there 
might be no libel suits, the American stories 
were fairly innocuous, vulgar to the last de 
gree but not libellous. But the royalty and 
nobility of Europe could have any sort of 
story told of them, limited only by my imagina 
tion. And when, after one of my tales about 
royalty that touched the English common 
people on the raw, the very heir of the throne 
changed his plans and went to visit the family 
concerning whom the story was told, I grew 
reckless with my new power, and took a seri 
ous chance. I saw in a foreign paper that a 
certain well-known peeress was about to add a 
new bulwark to her husband's family. In an 
other part of the paper was a notice of that 
Vienna physician who announced his power to 
change the sex of infants before their birth. I 



I Add to My Income -239 

wrote a rapid account of this peeress' desire to 
have a son, and said that the doctor had sent a 
young assistant to England to prepare the food 
of the mother. I sent this story to my former 
maid in Paris and asked her to mail it there. I 
gave a Paris address. The paper published 
the story, and the peeress, luckily, gave birth 
to a boy. The story was reprinted in almost 
every newspaper in the world, and the czar of 
Russia sent for the Vienna doctor! And I 
alone of all the world could laugh/ 

I was and am ashamed of the newspaper 
connection. It was tawdry and cheap and 
undignified. I despised myself when I did 
that work, and I come so near despising my 
self when I tell of it, that it is with an 
effort that I write it down. It is as though 
I were painting my own portrait in oils and 
found myself compelled to put in some vul 
garity of feature or expression. My only 
excuse is (if I made excuses, which I do not) 
that I needed the social help of newspaper 
notice at first and after that the money that was 
paid for my articles. I earned in this way 
what would have been the yearly income upon 
almost thirty thousand dollars; for the yellow 
journals and magazines paid very handsomely 



240 The Highroad 

for pictures and gossip in those days, before 
everybody went into the business of supplying 
them. 

I even sometimes wrote book reviews. 
Everybody has some vanities. I think I know 
a good book when I read it, and I think I can 
tell why it is good. But I wrote only one 
good review for my papers. After that I con 
fined myself to personal anecdotes of the 
authors. The authors themselves are gener 
ally happy to give an "illustrated interview" to 
anybody and to have photographs made of 
themselves and their most intimate surround 
ings. I did none of this interviewing. I sug 
gested authors and poses to the papers and 
then rewrote the interviews. I am sure that 
many novels owed much to my artistic 
"reviews." 

Naturally, I immediately saw a field here for 
myself. I would write a novel and advertise it 
by sensational 'articles. I fairly shivered with 
nervous delight as I thought of it. I felt as a 
scientific man must feel when he sees approach 
ing a beautiful but unexpected end of an ex 
periment. But like the scientific man more 
often than not, I had made a slight error in my 
calculations. 



I Add to My Income 241 

Primarily, of course, I had no message for 
the world which pushed me toward pen and 
ink. After the fact, authors who really say 
anything are always supplied by their solemn 
admirers with a preconceived plan to add to 
the world's knowledge. I have never discov 
ered any of these. All artists produce their 
wares for money. That rule has been so gen 
eral that the few exceptions merely prove it 
and these exceptions are generally working for 
fame and doing mediocre work because it is 
affected work, "over the heads of the people." 
To do a thing professionally means to do it for 
the criticism of buyers. But after I had the 
idea, I went to my store of understanding and 
I took of my best material to make my book. 
I would write a real book. I had no beauties 
of style, but I had seen, and I knew that the 
coherent mind cannot express itself inco 
herently. What I knew I could say. I had 
wanted a real story of New York. Why 
should I not write one? I remembered Flau 
bert and Balzac. I will follow in the wake of 
these great ones, thought I. 

As I look back, I enjoyed something in those 
months that should have warned me even then. 
When I closed my door and sat down at my 



242 T'he Highroad 

desk, I ceased to act. I became myself. I 
wrote down not the expedient thing, but what 
I actually knew. 

My book was the story of Mrs. Wallingford. 
I loved every page of the manuscript because 
on every page was something I knew to be 
true. And 1 even descended to the sentimen 
tality of dreams. "Mary Clay" would not 
only advertise it, but the great critics must 
understand it and some day I might even 
claim it as my own. 

, Ah, but I was inexperienced! I believed 
that the first publisher who saw it must 'take it. 
He must recognize that here was a study of 
a present condition of our civilization, a 
pound of real living flesh cut from the social 
body. 

After all my experience of men, after all my 
experience of the world, I still had that rag of 
superstition that publishers and juries are 
different from other people, and I, believing 
myself intelligent, expected understanding. 
But publishers are only Oh, Unenlightened 
Ones! a collection of business men whose 
constant effort it is to supply the public with 
what they know they want. To look at a new 
thing and choose it, guessing that the public 



I Add to My Income 243 

will want it, is the part of the psychologist, the 
genius, or the bankrupt. 

I sent my story to a publisher who kept it 
seven weeks. Then I wrote a note and asked 
about it. He returned it. The enclosed let 
ter said that it was original and clever, but 
there was not enough story. Mrs. Walling- 
ford neither married nor died, and she was 
hardly sufficiently young to make a heroine. 
If I could introduce a sweet young girl as a 
contrast, make the young girl the heroine and 
show her against the shadowed background of 
Mrs. Wallingford, I might have a story. 

The next publisher said that it was "clever." 
(They all know that useful word.) But it was 
not moral. The better class of American 
people would not stand a book in which im 
morality was not used as a lesson. They could 
see no lesson in the story of Mrs. Wallingford. 
She did not suffer. She pointed no moral. 
Then it was that I discovered that to the 
average human being and a publisher who 
has not at least half his brain in sympathy 
with the average could not make a living 
physical well-being and a fair place in society is 
success. That a fine nature goes astray through 
circumstances and loses its fineness is no tra- 



244 fbe Highroad 

gedy to the public so long as the body is 
clothed and fed and of fairly good repute. 
This publisher said that he thought the story 
would work harm. It might have a sort of 
success but it could not be permanent. 

I was growing meek now, and I studied the 
publishers. There was then a new publishing 
house made up of young men, one of whom 
had a reputation as a critic. They had pub 
lished a number of commonplace books, but 
one of late whose vulgarity was startling. It 
was so bad in every way that the critics had 
hardly touched it, but it was selling because 
the author did not know it was vulgar, and 
consequently gave his readers no clue. They 
read as ingenuously as he wrote. Here, 
thought I, is a publisher who cannot say that 
this book is immoral. At least he cannot 
object to it upon that account. And this critic 
who is in the firm, this man who knows, surely 
he can see what Mrs. Wallingford means. He 
can see that she is no more immoral than life 
itself, because she is actually true to life. 
That she is a reality is a pity, and that she is 
to be pitied. That she does not suffer that 
she has no tears for herself is the core of the 
tragedy. Surely he can see. 



I Add to My Income 245 

He did. He wrote me that they would 
accept the book, but that my "frank treatment 
of the relation between the sexes would cut my 
book off from a market that it would reach if 
more heed were paid to the American point of 
view." And they must ask me to omit those 
passages that would thus give offense. I was 
impatient for publication now, and I agreed. 
They returned the manuscript with the objec 
tionable passages marked. I am wondering 
still what principle the editor used in making 
his corrections. Then and there I saw how 
absurd a task he had given himself and I saw 
how many a promising book becomes inco 
herent. Suppose an art critic, a good one, 
were to object to a picture, say one of Ru 
bens' or Sargent's, because it had lines of bru 
tality. What would the world say if the critic 
undertook to paint out the objectionable lines 
and shadows? And yet this same thing is 
done in publishing houses every day. 

I smoothed over the rough places, and let 
the manuscript go back to them. The book 
was accepted and was to be brought out in a 
month. The only reason a contract had not 
been signed was because I was wondering how 
I was to sign it. And then one day I had a 



246 The Highroad 

humble letter from the firm asking me to allow 
them to return the manuscript. They had de 
cided after all that it was not the sort of book 
they wanted. 

My curiosity simply my insatiable curiosity 
to understand motives caused me to risk a visit 
to that publishing house. I presented myself 
as the friend of the author, not giving my 
name, and asked for an explanation. I discov 
ered that the business man of the firm had 
finally read the book and declined it. The 
critic, whom I saw, paid the tale compliments, 
and every compliment he paid it damned it in 
my own eyes. He thought it a remarkable 
book. But he gently told me that it was too 
much like life. In it I was being natural 
real and the world no more wants the naked 
truth than it wants uncooked food. The busi 
ness man was a citizen of the world as he found 
it, he hinted. 

I saw life like that, too, I remembered, ex 
cept for a curious blunder now and then. This 
had been one of my blunders. I took the 
manuscript home and reread it, and I laughed 
aloud. 1 reminded myself of that ridiculous 
creature who thinks she can do anything by 
intuition. Judge Grant has since shown her 



I Add to My Income 247 

in Selma White. My theme was good enough, 
and it was true, but the trouble was that I had 
not had the technical ability to do an original 
thing and do it well. How many people have? 
How many novels, readable novels, do you 
know that are not built on conventional lines? 
The unconventional ones are generally so 
badly made that they fall to pieces. And 
after all, isn't conventionality morality? Most 
people are unable to distinguish between them. 
As Robert Louis Stevenson reminded us, "Man 
lives not by bread alone, but mostly by catch 
words." 

I took the manuscript over which I had 
dreamed, into which I had put what I knew of 
life, and laid it away. I had put what I knew 
of life into it of a certainty, but I had put it in 
so that it was unable to express itself to others. 
And with experience, I set about producing 
a book which the public would want which a 
publisher, a piece of the public, would want. 

Mr. Stanley Weyman had discovered Sully's 
Memoirs not long before this and was making 
historical novels fashionable. Mr. Anthony 
Hope had a moment's inspiration and put a 
modern Englishman into a setting of romance. 
I did not wish to be too obvious, and yet I had 



248 The Highroad 

learned to build my next house by an approved 
plan. If I had not the skill to be original, I 
must find a type to imitate. And then an 
idea came to me. Suppose I were to take a 
well-known writer's style, even some of his 
well-known stock incidents (they all have 
them) and make an anonymous story which 
would seem to be too intimate a revelation of 
a woman's heart (it must be a woman, people 
have no sympathy with a man with a "heart" 
unless he be a poet) to allow her to sign her 
name to it. I could probably gather about my 
"heart experience" all of the author's readers, 
and some others. The anonymity, with my 
newspaper advertising, my scientific probing of 
the authorship, would attract attention. I 
spent days hunting for a writer who might have 
a "heart experience," and at last I discovered 
her. It was a painful, intimate story, but one 
which was known to many, one upon which 
she had always kept a dignified silence. I 
bought every one of her books and studied 
them carefully and then I blocked out my tale 
her tale and wrote it in a high key. It was 
eminently respectable, and yet there was a 
suggestion all through it that the conventions 
might be broken. Sometimes when I finished 



I Add to My Income 249 

a page that raved like a respectable Zaza, I 
almost felt as though I meant it, as though 
those sad, sad experiences had been mine. 
Some astute critics have questioned since if the 
story was real. Here and there they have 
caught a gleam of humorous exaggeration; but 
never the buying public. 

The story was accepted at once by one of the 
great magazines which was seeking some way 
to keep even with the more vulgar journals, and 
coming under such auspices the art was ac 
cepted as good art. I saw to it that public 
curiosity was whetted by full pages in the Sun 
day papers, and the author's sorrows were 
presently discussed by the ladies' reading club 
in Fowlersburg. Many things, however, hap 
pened before that came to pass. 



250 I'he Highroad 



XXII 

W 'e See Something of New York Society 

I had sublet my little apartment, and I had 
allowed my acquaintance with Mrs. Wallingford 
to become more and more formal, although Rob 
ert kept it up, I felt sure. I am also sure she 
never missed me and hardly had an idea that 
I had dropped her, although she had enjoyed 
my society. Her hold on women friends was 
lax and indolent. I had reason to believe that 
Robert saw her frequently. 

Through Mrs. Dodds and other introduc 
tions, we began to go out more and more. My 
first move after I was settled in New York had 
been to unite myself with Mr. Bliss' church, 
and to take Genevieve there with me when I 
could. Mr. Bliss was excessively proud of our 
old friendship, and spoke of me often to the 
members of his fashionable congregation. I was 
always at his church on Sunday mornings, listen 
ing with an approving intelligence to ideas which 
I often recognized. Sometimes they were my 
own; but oftener they were Stendhal's or 



Something 0/*New York Society 251 

Kenan's or Tourguenieff's, first made into a ra 
gout by me, and rechaufft by Mr. Bliss. 

Itwas very seldom that I could take Genevieve 
with me. I could influence her in no ways except 
the most primitive. She was headstrong and 
unreasonable to the point of maliciousness, it 
would seem, but rather, it was to the point of 
ignorance. A cigarette, a French novel of the 
most abominable type were her Sunday morn 
ing relaxations. Sometimes I comforted my 
self with the reflection that she felt the 
antagonism for me which I felt for her, and 
that with the folly of youth and ignorance she 
was flaunting her worst self before me, out of 
a silly desire to hurt and annoy me. Surely 
she had not behaved like this with Mrs. Dodds. 
When I saw that the friendship between them, 
while not intense, was not broken, I knew that 
at least Genevieve knew how not to be entirely 
impossible. I discovered, too, that Mrs. 
Dodds had been wonderfully impressed, as are 
all Americans, by our titled friends, and 
probably Genevieve owed some toleration to 
that. Is it not quaint that the world, literally 
the whole world will call a man by a certain 
name and then grow cold with awe before him 
because he is known by it? "Duke," "Lord," 



252 The Highroad 

"Prince" what are they, anyway? Simply a 
gift from the tongues of the people. 

It is a part of human nature to make a god 
of some sort and worship it. If a people has 
nothing better it will take the mud from under 
its feet and fashion it into something to bow 
before. But all the time, underneath, we all 
know that when we get ready to cry out alto 
gether that the fetich is merely clay, the 
godship will disappear. Who cares now for 
the thunders of mighty Jupiter? One can blas 
pheme only the God that is behind the high 
altar of to-day. You may spit upon yester 
day's god unrebuked. 

Lucile had been gracious enough, but not 
too ready, to her sister's new acquaintance, 
and Mrs. Dodds had been impressed. 

I discovered that there were just now two 
women whom it was necessary to know, to 
bring to my house, before I was firmly estab 
lished in New York society. 

One, Mrs. Etten, was a woman of enormous 
wealth who had climbed up to her present 
place over old prejudices and who was insolent 
with the power that had come to her. She was 
vulgar in her appearance, with a short un 
graceful body and an animal-like nose. Her 



Something of New York^ Society 253 

hair was dyed a shade of dark red to hide the 
gray that had begun to appear in it, and she 
was maquiltie. 

The other woman was the sister of William 
B. Clancy, married to a man her equal in 
wealth and with children who had married into 
the old and influential families in Boston and 
Philadelphia as well as New York, and one 
daughter still with her. Mrs. Thomas was a 
woman not unlike the late Queen Victoria, 
not very clever, obstinate, sure of herself, 
vain, and conventional. She was, I plainly 
saw, invincible because invulnerable. She 
utterly ignored us seemingly never seeing us. 
Genevieve was of a type which she had plainly 
shown many times was distasteful to her. And 
although I was the last person to blame her for 
that, it made my task infinitely harder. 

Mrs. Etten was easy to approach, because 
she had in her daily existence what she 
believed to be a secret. She was something 
like Lady Flora Hastings, with a difference of 
less breeding. Feeling insecure (it was that 
psychologist of forty-two years before the birth 
of Christ, Publius Syrus, who wrote down: "A 
guilty conscience never feels secure"), she 
was ready to give way anywhere. 



254 be Highroad 



Character is destiny, and it did not require 
a seer to see that Mrs. Etten was not solid in 
her place. I had, by chance, the opportunity 
to precipitate the scandal which came upon her 
a few years later, but I did not take it. Why 
should I ? I have no time to waste upon idle 
spite, no time to cease rolling my stone up hill 
to cast down another. She was to me already 
off the board and one for whose favor I cared 
not at all. 

With Mr. Clancy's sister it was different. I 
must have her acquaintance at least. 

To be seen at her house was to have a sort 
of cachet of social respectability. I never was 
quite able to discover why she, in all New 
York, had this dignity, but so long as every 
one agreed that it was hers, it was. Notwith 
standing she knew all about Lucile's position 
in London, we were not asked to her house at 
once. And as the winter went on I began to 
fear that we were, through Genevieve's folly at 
Newport, I felt sure, to rest just on the edge of 
what is known as real New York society. 
That was a situation which I felt that I could 
not tolerate. 

Studio receptions were just becoming fash 
ionable, and there was talk of "American art." 



Something o/*New York Society 255 

American art just then consisted in taking up 
some portrait painter who was socially eligible 
and having him make pretty presentments of 
ladies in evening dress. The sitters generally 
selected the gowns and poses, and patronized 
the artists. It has always been so. Romney 
and Sir Joshua Reynolds went through the 
same experience. In the studio of Romney all 
the sitters insisted on looking like Emma, and 
Sir Joshua plaintively complained that after he 
painted Nellie Farren all the duchesses desired 
to be portrayed with roguish eyes. 

I had an idea. I wrote to the young artist 
in Paris who had painted my mother's portrait 
from that old crayon, and told him that I 
thought there was a field for him in New York. 
I might be mistaken, but I thought that here 
was something I could add to my forces. 

He came, and painted Genevieve, and he did 
for her exactly what he had done for my 
mother's picture. He idealized her. He 
kept, in some intangible way, that physical 
force which was her only possession, but he 
seemed by some necromancy (the beautiful 
necromancy of his art!) to make it into a 
classic thing. The Helens, the Cleopatras, 
not of reality, but of tradition, might have had 



256 The Highroad 

an allure such as this. He painted Mrs. 
Dodds, and me. I let him have his way with 
my portrait, because I was curious to see what 
he would do with it. He painted me in a plain 
white satin gown, sitting on a marble seat, 
something like those in the garden atVerriere. 
That portrait has never had a frame, and it 
reposes in swathings in the house here in West 
Virginia. I think it is the woman who sits 
there on that bench who incited this narrative. 
No one has seen it except the artist and my 
self. And yet it represents a much more 
beautiful and intelligent woman than I ever 
was. 

After it was finished, I asked for it, and sug 
gested that the artist do something for exhibi 
tion. Tears came into his eyes. "It is the great 
est thing I shall ever do," he said. "And it will 
delight me if posterity says so." I returned: 
"But I want something for New York. Do 
not mistake New York of to-day for the voice 
of Fame." 

I appeared on a canvas at his exhibition in a 
violet velvet gown, and the portrait was chiefly 
gown, a sublimated still-life. 

One of the old magazines reproduced the 
portraits with an article upon the talented 



Something of New York Society 257 

artist. The editor of the magazine was of the 
class which was just then scorning "The 
American Beauty" department of the cheap 
magazine, and loudly deploring the "vitiating 
of taste," the "lowering of the standards" of 
the public, as exhibited by its popularity. 
But as no magazine was ever published for 
any other purpose than to produce a revenue, 
the "popular" methods were grasped at, and 
the editor waS glad of an excuse to reproduce 
the portraits of "society" under the pretence 
of art. My artist was really so clever that the 
women who wished to appear at their best em 
ployed him, and my portrait appeared facing 
that of Mrs. Thomas. 

Another one of my advantages came in my 
dinners. 

Americans, generally, have never cared much 
about dinner giving for two reasons: a dinner is 
almost as expensive as a dancing party, and at 
that time very few of even the wealthiest 
people had servants who were able to carry a 
dinner to a triumphant conclusion. It has 
been within a comparatively short time that 
the brisk short menu has taken the place of 
that old, strained, elaborate dinner which no 
body but Mr. Ward McAllister ever enjoyed. 



258 The Highroad 

Certainly not a hostess who sat in fear and 
trembling of what the next course might bring 
forth. 

The second reason for not enjoying a dinner 
was that they didn't know what to talk 
about. For all our present-day smartness, 
American society is not so very far from the 
Christmas and Thanksgiving turkey feasts 
where husbands went out with their wives. 
And neither is England! Old people in Eng 
land have told me of the dinners at Windsor 
Castle in the Queen's youth that were as bour 
geois as anything social New York was show 
ing. The Queen, in those days, used to sit at 
a table after dinner and play solitaire, and it 
was considered sufficient entertainment to her 
guests to see her do it. 

It was no wonder that Mr. McAllister be 
came a sort of social mentor in New York. 
He came from a part of the country where 
gaiety at least was considered well bred, and 
they had been entertaining in some fashion 
ever since they had four walls. 

In France and in England I had learned to 
dine and so had Genevieve. She had the 
technique of the game. The things she said 
might be a trifle impertinent, but she talked, 



Something of New York Society 259 

and she did not devote herself to the man who 
took her out. And I knew, thanks to Prol- 
mann, how to give a dinner. I never learned 
how not to, for I had gone from Fowlersburg 
to Prolmann. It was I who first threw aside 
the half-dozen silly wines, and clung to cham 
pagne after the soup, and it was I who banished 
pastry trash. When I came, chicken salad was 
still a dinner dish in New York. And it was at 
my house in Gramercy Park that an opera singer 
first sang after one of my dinners, and after 
another two distinguished French actors gave 
a little dialogue. The opera singer I had 
known a long time. He had been a guest on 
Prolmann' s yacht one year. The French ac 
tors had met a ba dseason in America and were 
willing to advertise themselves. It is impos 
sible to get even "coon" songs on those terms 
now, but that sort of entertaining was new 
then and it created a sensation which my 
newspaper made much of. I was supposed to 
have paid all of these artists incredible sums. 
How I should have loved to have done so! 
Mean economies never appealed to me. It 
has always been my wish to pay more for a 
thing than it is worth, because I despise an 
obligation. 



160 The Highroad 

I acquired a reputation for having an in 
comparable chef whom I had brought from 
abroad (such was the rarity of delicious, 
hot, appetizing courses quickly following each 
other), and for an atmosphere of smartness. 
The last came from the fact that my son, my 
daughter and myself knew what sort of con 
versation to serve with the food. And it became 
a house to which men, business men, did not 
have to be dragged in chains, because they 
were well fed and amused. 

There was one mistake I almost made about 
this time. I had thought that I might bring into 
New York the English and French fashion of 
entertaining celebrities, literary, political or 
scientific. Fortunately, before I had the op 
portunity to meet them I learned what a mistake 
it would have been. To belong to the 
"Literary Set" in New York is to be hopeless 
to be forever cut off even from Mrs. Thomas' 
largest balls. And, anyway, even in Eng 
land and France, literature is indulged in sel 
dom. Most writers are impossible. Their 
energies have gone into another channel than 
that of what I might call bodily expres 
sion. They do not know how to dress, they 
are seldom pretty to look at, and I have met 



Something of New York Society 261 

very few who have any idea of conversation. 
They despise "society" because it makes them 
uncomfortable. It doesn't seem worth while 
to them; they have no key to its meanings. 
For life and literature are reality and arti 
ficiality. Art to be art must be a symbol. But 
that is something it takes experience to dis 
cover. 

Bit by bit I crept into the eye of the world. 
There was never a moment when I could have 
been said to "push." I suppose when a 
mushroom pushes up a paving stone, the slab 
considers that it lifted itself out of politeness 
to a thing so tender and helpless. 

I saw as little of Genevieve as she could 
arrange, but one day she came to me of her 
own accord. It was almost the first time she 
had done such a thing since she had left the 
convent since her intimacy with Lili. 

"Do you know that Bob is being talked 
about with Mrs. Wallingford ?" she asked 
abruptly. 

"I am sure you are mistaken," I answered 
gently. "How absurd a story! Mrs. Walling 
ford is old enough to be Robert's mother." 

"Baby-snatching is not unknown even in 
New York. They say she is infatuated with 



262 'The Highroad 

him and is throwing off even Clancy on his 
account, that she intends to marry Bob." 

"I shall believe no such ridiculous tale." 
And I took up my book again. 

"Cela rriest tgal!" Genevieve said, and then 
she turned to me swiftly, "I suppose the young 
fool knows that he hasn't a penny?" 

"That is a fact you must all know," I said, 
and we looked at each other squarely in the 
face for a fraction of a second, curtains up. 
Then I went on. "Of course what I have is 
yours, and in time will be valuable. But Mr. 
Less, who was one of our executors, tells me 
that it may be many many years before our 
coal lands will be valuable." 

"I thought it was tobacco," the girl sneered. 
"It used to be tobacco." 

"It was always coal," I said patiently. 

After Christmas my boy came to me and told 
me that he did not care to go back to college. 
He said he wanted to go into business. 

"But where? How?" I asked. 

"I do not know. But college here seems 
young after Europe. I do not feel like a boy, 
and many of the studies there seem absurd to 
me. I have already read, for my own enter 
tainment, many of the books they study, and I 



Something o/'New York Society 263 

have read a good many of the books our lec 
tures are made out of. I am making good 
friends and all that sort of thing but I am not 
preparing for the life I want and we cannot 
afford it." 

This was the time to ask if he wanted to take 
up new responsibilities, but I did not. Some 
how I understood Robert. He soothed my 
nerves as no other child of mine ever did. In 
some vague way I felt that he was to be trusted 
with his own destiny. And I trusted my own 
instincts. Given certain premises, certain 
results are bound to follow. This is no hap 
hazard world. 

I did not mention the story Genevieve had 
told me to him, but she did. He met it with a 
laugh, and a "Who knows? Mrs. Wallingford 
is a charming woman, but she wouldn't look at 
a chap like me." 

"If she did," said my daughter, "you would 
both starve to death. You couldn't very well 
p live on a fire-escape even if it were twined with 
morning glories." 

One morning soon after, I heard Gene 
vieve say that she had received a message from 
Mrs. Dodds and was going to join her for a 
restaurant dinner. She drove away in the han- 



264 The Highroad 

som she had sent for, looking very sophisti 
cated and like a fashion-plate in her black cloth 
gown with an enormous bunch of violets pinned 
to the plain corsage. It went through my 
mind idly that the violets must have come 
from somewhere, because it was quite outside 
of character for Genevieve to buy flowers. 
Heredity is a curious thing. Genevieve was 
masterful in many ways, but she had some 
small, mean economies, and she was intensely 
practical. She saw no reason for having a 
fresh napkin at every meal, nor a fresh towel 
at every bath. Nor was it possible for me to 
insist upon a bath for her every morning. 
They had not demanded that at her convent, 
and there was no inherent daintiness in her 
that required it. But Genevieve was in the 
back of my mind now. 

Robert and I sat down to dinner alone, and 
I let him talk on in his gentle well-bred way 
of the new pictures at Durand-Ruel's, of the 
dozens of light scraps of nonsense which he 
heard, heaven knows how, for he went out 
very little and belonged to no clubs. He had 
devoted himself almost exclusively to Mrs. 
Wallingford. 

We took our coffee cups and went into the 



Something of New York Society 265 

library and I enjoyed the pleasure of look 
ing at the light falling on his handsome blonde 
head with its good contour, its carriage of assur 
ance. I was at work on the story of Mrs. 
Wallingford then, and I wanted to talk to him 
about it but that 1 did not dare. 

Suddenly he stopped stirring his coffee and 
put it down untasted. 

"How about Genevieve and Babcock?" he 
asked abruptly. "Does he truly want to 
marry her?" 

"I do not know," I said. "It may be; it 
doubtless is one of those affairs in which a man 
will do anything to gain a woman, but if he 
fails he will pretend to himself that he never 
was truly in earnest. He isn't a continental. 
He is very much American New Yorker. He 
will never tell me he wants to marry Genevieve 
until he has told her and it is all arranged. I 
do not believe either that Babcock cares to be 
rejected." 

"Where is Genevieve?" 

"With Mrs. Dodds." 

"Do you mind telephoning up there and dis 
covering if she is?" 

I sat up straight in my chair. "What do 
you mean?" 



266 'The Highroad 

"I mean that I saw Ward in town this after 
noon, and he avoided me." 

"Why should he?" 

"That's it, why should he?" 

"Robert," I said, "you do not mean to in 
sinuate that Genevieve and Chester Ward 
would meet anywhere? Why should they? 
Chester can come here." 

"He may not care to." 

"Why?" 

Robert shrugged his shoulders. "I am sure 
I do not know. But I imagine that a man and 
woman like Genevieve and Ward would be 
happier unrestrained." 

"What do you mean?" 

"I hardly know what I mean, but when he is 
here you plainly show that you do not care to 
leave those two together, and it seems to me 
that they like to be together." 

"Why shouldn't they say so? I should 
rather that they married each other I suppose 
it will come to that than to meet like this." 

"I am not at all sure that they want to marry 
each other. Does Genevieve seem to you the 
sort of girl to whom marriage, particularly mar 
riage to a man like Ward, would appeal? Can 
you imagine Genevieve living in a Washington 



Something tf/'New York Society 267 

third-class hotel with two or three children, or 
down in West Virginia?" 

"But Chester is getting along in the world" 
I stopped. What was the use of arguing with 
Robert concerning his sister. I went to the 
telephone and asked to speak with Mrs. 
Dodds. She had gone to Lakewood that 
morning, one of her servants replied. 

I hesitated at the telephone, wondering 
whether or not to tell Robert. Could it do 
any good to ruin all his faith in his sister? 
Would he be clever enough to stick to her even 
though he knew that she was what? A liar 
anyway. 

When I came back into the library Rob 
ert was walking up and down, his hands in his 
pockets. The expanse of white in his even 
ing dress was very becoming to him. 

"My dear," I said, "I fear that you are in a 
bad atmosphere." 

"And why?" 

"You are generalizing going too readily 
from the special example you happen to 
know " 

"Was she with Mrs. Dodds?" 

"Certainly," I answered. 

"I beg her pardon," he said. 



268 'The Highroad 

I debated also whether or not I should tell 
Genevieve what I knew. I hated the thought 
of it. But here was something we could not 
run away from. As a matter of fact running 
away is always useless. A character cannot 
be run away from. We carry the weaknesses 
which make new failings along with us. 

Genevieve came in after eleven o'clock, and 
I followed her into her bed-room. I knew 
that anywhere else she would leave me. I 
opened the conversation at once. She was a 
little flushed, her violets faded and sagging 
from her corsage, shadows under her eyes. I 
wonder how many mothers have faced that 
aspect in a daughter. 

"I allowed Robert to believe that. you were 
with Mrs. Dodds, " I said. She started and 
then she laughed. 

"That was good of you if it made any sort 
of difference." 

"If you want to see Chester Ward, why do 
you not see him here?" 

She sat down, crossed her knees, scratched a 
match on the sole of her shoe and lighted a 
cigarette. 

"Because I wanted to dine out with him, 
without discussion, I suppose." 



Something 0/~New York Society 269 

"And why do you suppose " 

"Oh, pshaw, what's the use! Chester and I 
suit each other. You do not want him here; 
you show it plainly. He isn't the sort you 
want around." 1 could feel myself growing 
cold. 

"Do you want to marry him?" 

"Ah that's a different thing. I am not sure 
that I care to marry anybody." 

"But" I spoke as reasonably and calmly as 
I could "it is necessary that you should 
marry. It is not a pleasant thing to call your 
attention to that necessity, but then marriage 
is the natural, the happiest destiny for a 
woman." 

Genevieve looked at me oddly through the 
smoke that wreathed her face. 

"Do not believe it. Not one woman in a 
million wants to be married wants a husband. 
She marries for freedom and I fancy you 
have heard the other theories on the subject." 
She leaned down and unfastened her shoes, 
kicking them off, and showing her well-shaped 
foot in its open-work stocking. 

"Genevieve," I said gravely, "we are poor, 
and it is necessary for us to understand each 
other. I cannot let you make a wreck of vour 



ijo 'The Highroad 

life. If you do not care for a conventional life 
let us give up trying. If you want to marry 
Chester Ward if it is your ambition to spend 
the rest of your life in boarding-houses with 
him, marry him and be done with it. I shall 
send for him to-morrow and tell him so." 

To my amazement, Genevieve sprang up, 
her face scarlet. "That you shall not do. I 
will not be flung at any man's head. We are 
not in France." 

'Oh, then," I said, "he has not done you 
the honor to ask you to marry him? It is for 
that reason he does not come here. I think 
there is all the more reason for my seeing 
him." 

"I tell you, if you speak to Chester Ward 
about me I shall leave this house, and you 
will be sorry the last day you live." 

"You have given me reason for being that 
already," I said. I am sure I was not wise. 
There must have been a way to approach my 
child. But I did not know it. I was astounded 
at the turn affairs had taken, and running 
through my mind was a wonder at Chester. 
Genevieve became a poorer thing than I had 
thought her, when he did not want to marry 
her. 



Something 0/"New York Society 271 

I wrote to Chester the next day; I asked him 
over to dinner. He came, and watching them, 
I could but believe that these two felt a strong 
attraction for one another. Genevieve was un 
like herself. I could see that she wanted to 
keep me away from him. And continually 
between them were those glances, those move 
ments which betray the closest intimacy. 

It was with dismay that I realized our situa 
tion. What possibility had I of extricating 
ourselves? There is no combination of circum 
stances which can ruin a human being unless 
they have their inception in his own person 
ality. Genevieve was, practically speaking, 
my own personality. It was for her I worked. 
Her success was mine; her failure and dis 
grace were my failure and disgrace. I suppose 
I hated her as a drunkard hates his uncontrol 
lable vice. And yet I must save her. 



272 'The Highroad 

XXIII 

/ Make a Discovery 

Chester's attitude toward Genevieve puzzled 
me. I know that there are some men who 
have so little respect for themselves that when 
a woman begins to admire or love one of them, 
he immediately despises her, considers her of 
poor taste and judgment for setting up in her 
heart what he knows to be so poor a thing. 
But after seeing Genevieve and Chester to 
gether I could not believe that this was true of 
him. There was something else. Chester 
seemed to be fond of Genevieve, to have an 
affection, a friendship for her. There is a 
reason for every departure from the normal, 
the usual. A brook does not alter its current 
unless there is an obstruction in the way. If 
one could only know, how often we should 
change our feelings toward some sinner! A 
little sin away back in the beginning may change 
the current of a life. 

There was, too, something apologetic in 
Chester's attitude toward me. And Genevieve 
loved him I could see that she did. Whatever 



I Make a Discovery 273 

her flippancy of speech might be, I saw that 
here, if ever, was the solvent for her hard 
nature; because it is the truth that our own 
feelings, our own emotions are what, save us or 
undo us. The inspirers of our moods have 
little to do with it. Hate is as corrosive to the 
spirit when the object is bad as when it is good. 
Love true affection when by chance it is 
found, expands even such a nature as Gene- 
vieve's. 

I felt sure, too, that Genevieve had not told 
Chester of my discovery. Her reluctance to 
do so, the difficulty she must have found in 
doing so, was the first womanly trait I had 
ever seen in her. 

But, how long would it last even though the 
obstacle could be removed? And what was 
that which made them hide their affection 
instead of flaunting it? Genevieve was surely 
not so worldly wise. 

Naturally, in this crisis (and it was a crisis 
I had spent money which I could not afford; I 
was handicapping us for all time) I thought of 
the newspaper as a weapon. I had something 
to work upon in Genevieve's affection for 
Chester. It was necessary to kill that if I 
could. It was a luxury we could not afford. 



274 Tbe Highroad 



I sighed sometimes with sorrow for her, and 
sometimes with relief that she had had it. 
Kill it once, and the barren soil of her heart 
would never grow love again. Love was, I 
reasoned, with a woman like her, but a short 
lived thing at best, and it would die, as it dies 
in many a woman after her life is ruined. 
This is the wrong view to take, of course, but it 
is so full of reason that at least one great 
philosopher reduced it to rule and formula. 
People who read novels are seldom acquainted 
with the writings of Schopenhauer, but I think 
some of the great novelists must have had great 
respect for his theories. Reason is so seldom 
romantic. 

My first idea was very crude. I would write 
a newspaper article about Chester, connecting 
his name with that of another woman. Gene- 
vieve was of the cheap temperament that is 
easily inflamed and would be full of jealousy. 

And then, rejecting that, I saw presently 
what to do. I wrote a letter to one of the 
newspapers and told them that Chester Ward 
of Washington, "a club and society man," 
the nephew and cousin of various distinguished 
Virginians, was secretly meeting a well-known 
Washington woman of international reputation. 



I Make a Discovery 275 

There was "a story in it," which I was pre 
pared to write, if their clever young men in 
Washington would substantiate my "tip." I 
signed this "Mary Clay," and as I had given 
them so much "good stuff," they were very 
glad to do this. They were to watch his apart 
ments, bribe servants, find out the last detail 
of his life by any means. 

For ten days I heard nothing. I concluded 
that I had been mistaken, that there was noth 
ing tangible to discover. And then the story 
came. 

Since then I have ceased to be astonished. 
I have discovered that you may take almost 
any human being and after you have watched 
him for days you will find something eccentric 
enough to make anewspaper story by judicious 
patching here and there. 

Here was poor foolish Chester's wrecked 
life spread out before me. 

According to the newspaper's lurid-seeing 
young men in Washington, Chester was keep 
ing a gambling-house. As a matter of fact, 
young men met at his rooms for very high 
play, and cases of wine were sent there for 
their consumption. 

And Chester had married a chorus girl from 



2j6 'The Highroad 

comic opera circles during his first year in 
Washington, and when she was "off the road," 
she sometimes assisted in receiving the guests. 
No wonder he could not marry Genevieve! 
Nobody knew that the girl was his wife. The 
paper's young men discovered that. 

When I took those facts and made them in 
a page shocker for a sensational Sunday paper, 
I trembled as with a chill. My pen would 
hardly travel across the sheet of white paper. 
When Robert was a baby, he looked at the 
primer words they were trying to teach him, 
and said, "Writing is just pictures of the words 
we say." The writing I put into that story 
seemed alive, seemed to look up at me with 
suggestions of horror. 

I thought of Mrs. Ward, and of her sweet 
ness and kindness. She would never say an 
unkind word of any one, not even a dissi 
pated son of royalty. As I wrote a picture came 
before me of a summer night in Fowlersburg 
last year. I sat in the unlighted window in 
Chester's bed-room the evening after he had 
left, and his mother lay on the narrow white 
bed where he had slept through all his boy 
hood. The moon was full, flooding the quiet 
street outside, and the yellow honeysuckle that 



I Make a Discovery 



covered the porches filled the air with a senti 
mental, old-fashioned sweetness. A half dozen 
negro boys came by and stopped at the street 
corner to sing, as they are wont to do in the 
southern towns. Their plaintive boyish voices 
went through the lament of "Massy's in th' 
col', col' groun'." When they went away I 
found Mrs. Ward weeping as one weeps with a 
friend. 

"I am very much alone" sne said, her usually 
cheerful voice broken. "I have only Chester, 
but he is so good. It is compensation for 
loneliness; it keeps me happy to think of the 
full happy life he is having. Some women 
have sorrow with their boys." 

Could I do it? I said to myself that I could 
not even as my hand went across the paper, 
making shameful a story of weakness. 

At heart I am a sentimentalist, but I did not 
dare sacrifice my child to save hers. Why 
should I? 

There was this one chance of saving mine 
from a present peril, but all my hopes seemed 
tumbling about me even as I wrote. What can 
one do with stupidity? 



27 8 'The Highroad 

XXIV 

A Business Interview 

I was terrified, and yet there was something, 
some sense of tranquillity, deep below my sur 
face disturbance which told me that the day 
was not lost. What is that sustaining force 
which holds some of us fast to a course of con 
duct even when it seems hopeless? Is it our 
reliance upon the universal plan? It is we to 
whom the day finally turns always People 
say "a fool for luck." Have you ever seen a 
lucky fool? I never have. 

Sunday morning brought the story of Ches 
ter's marriage in naked type, with his picture 
and that of his wife in the center of the page 
surrounded by the emblems of chance. The 
hideousness of it nauseated me. I hid the 
paper away at first, and then I allowed it to 
be carried up to Genevieve with the rest of 
her Sunday morning literature. What it meant 
to her I shall never know. She came down 
stairs dressed for the street and went out, only 
coming in to dress and go to a dinner. There is 
a wall between my child and me which can 



A Business Interview 279 

never be pierced; I have no insight into a na 
ture such as hers. I cannot think her thoughts. 
Sometimes when I have been in the midst of 
despising a personality, a wave of humility 
has swept over me, and I wonder. I try to 
have a clear vision, to be honest, to see the 
real. But I must see through my eyes with my 
brain and nerves. I have so often verified my 
judgment of people that I have grown to 
accept it. Like everybody else I admire my 
own point of view my own opinions. There 
is no mind which deserves the name which 
does not; for if we did not like our own opin 
ions we should change them and get another 
set. But after all, understanding is much a 
thing of tranquil nerves. There is some aura, 
some vibration, some electrical force, perhaps, 
from one person we each know, which dis 
turbs us. When that comes it dazzles our vi 
sion, and we love or hate for the same reason 
that we love or hate at any time; for that we 
are supremely comfortable or supremely un 
comfortable. Some unfortunates cannot dis 
tinguish the difference between the two states. 
My daughter Genevieve made me supremely 
uncomfortable. I could not penetrate her 
mind because I was turned back at its very 



280 'The Highroad 

portals. She was all outside to me. I pene 
trated her nature as I might have peeled an 
onion, finding always an outer skin. 

The next day found me undecided I 
seemed waiting. I looked at Robert and won 
dered if he, too, was to disappoint me. Sup 
pose my judgment of him were wrong and he 
was after all only a young man whose fancy 
was taken by an older woman? Suppose all my 
plans should come to the cheap end of my son 
being the husband of a woman like Mrs. Wal- 
lingford. And my daughter I shuddered to 
think of my daughter's possibilities. 

For two days she was hardly in the house. 
Whether or not she saw Chester Ward in that 
interval I never knew. 

On Wednesday morning she came to me. 
There was a hard look in her eyes and around 
the corners of her mouth, and she was deadly 
pale. 

"I want to go to Europe leave here," she 
said. She seated herself on a small chair by 
my desk, and made her request as one might 
ask possibilities of a lawyer. 

"My dear," I began. She brought her 
tight fist in its walking glove down upon the 
corner of my desk with force. 



A Business Interview 281 

"Don't 'my dear' me!" she said furiously. 
"You hold the family money. I want enough 
to take me to Paris." 

"And what will you do there?" 

She looked at me for a moment with some 
thing like malice trying to break through the 
tragedy in her face. "Enjoy myself," she said 
finally. 

"Genevieve," I said, "as soon as I can I 
will dispose of this house and we shall go. 
But there is no money to-day." 

"You can always get whatever you want. 
Get it," she said. 

A few moments later I heard her go out. I 
sat in my own room and my thoughts were not 
pleasant thoughts. 

An hour afterward Emelie came in with a 
card. I read the neat unostentatious script as 
though "Mr. William B. Clancy" called upon 
me once a week. It was only at the drawing- 
room door that fear came. 

I found him sitting in the easiest chair in 
the room, a pair of eyeglasses, which were on 
a black ribbon around his neck, held in a hand 
which was too dainty and long-fingered for a 
man of his bulk. That imaginative hand was 
a traitor which told secrets. 



282 'The Highroad 

When I entered, slipping in, he arose and 
balanced himself so that his lameness was not 
visible. 

"I shall ask you to pardon my unannounced 
visit," he said with ceremony, "I hope my 
reasons for coming may be my excuse." 

I shivered. Could it be possible his repu 
tation for boldness was unparalleled that he 
was going actually to speak of Mrs. Walling- 
ford? Was he going to threaten? There are 
some things that seem almost romantic as long 
as they are covered in roses, but held up to 
view, defined in words, they become ghastly, 
miserable. I drew into a shell of reserve, I 
shrunk, I was a timid little woman. I made 
him no reply, but simply a little bow with what 
Prolmann once called my "pathetic smile." 

"You have, I understand, large tracts of 
West Virginia coal land," he said abruptly, 
"and a railroad concession leading to it." 

I almost laughed in my relief. "I have a 
large tract of land which I believe contains 
coal." 

"It is a well-founded belief. Do you wish 
to sell it?" 

"I do not." 

"Good I" he said. "I had heard that you 



A Business Interview 283 

desired to hold it, and in any case I should 
have advised you to do so. The property will 
be very valuable when it is developed. A 
syndicate, of which I am a member, is about to 
open up that part of West Virginia, although 
the project has not yet been made public. It 
is for that reason that I have asked to speak to 
you personally. I felt that we could rely upon 
your discretion." 

"You can," I said, and as I said it I realized 
that this- man's agents had sifted my story 
from beginning to end. And I exulted in it. 
At any rate, here was one person who did not 
believe me altogether a fool. Tears of self- 
pity tried to find their way to my eyes, while I 
despised myself that I was so feminine a thing. 

"We wished to propose an arrangement by 
which we could take over your property and 
develop it upon a basis of profits. The coun 
try is greatly depressed now, but this condition 
cannot last. The pendulum goes so far in one 
direction and then comes back again. When 
the moment comes it will have an enormous 
impetus, and it is rational to prepare for it." 

"What do you propose?" I asked. To the 
bottom of my consciousness I was disturbed. 
Why? Why was this man going so far from 



284 The Highroad 

his usual methods? Nothing gives me such 
impatience as a lack of understanding. When 
I have read the fairy stories of people who had 
three wishes, or even one wish, magically 
gratified, it has always been a wonder to me 
that nobody ever begged for perfect under 
standing. Think what it would be to know! 

Could it be that he was bribing me to take 
Robert away putting me upon my honor? 
It was to Robert that I had expected advances 
to be made, and never anything like this. 

I know that those who are instructed in life 
by sentimental novels will say that naturally 
Mr. Clancy would lose interest in Mrs. Wal- 
lingford when she showed that she no longer 
cared for him, that she was infatuated with a 
boy which only goes to show how little histor 
ical novelists know their history. It was Mrs. 
Wallingford that he was fighting for, that he 
was using his diplomacy, his power, to bring 
back to himself, I felt sure. 

He gave me a plan for the development of 
the property. He would pay me a percentage 
upon all the coal taken out, and would agree 
to take out so many tons a year for a term of 
fifty years. I hardly heard what he said. I 
was waiting for what came at last. 



A Business Interview 285 

"I suppose you would like to have an agent 
of your own upon the premises?" 

"Yes," I said. 

"Your son? Has he finished college?" 

"Yes." 

"If you will ask him to call upon me, I 
should be -glad to talk the matter over with 
him. The development of that property is a 
great opportunity for a young man." 

"Yes," I said. 

I bowed to him in his formal departure, and 
sat down with my head in my hands. I was 
not ready to comprehend. 

When Robert came in I sent for him at once. 
I felt that the bargain was not concluded until 
he had given his consent to go. I saw that he 
held an evening paper in his hand, with a look 
of gravity in his face, but after I had spoken 
for a moment he put down the paper and rang 
the bell. 

"Bring me a carafe of water and some 
whiskey," he said to Emelie. I looked at 
him astonished. He, who hardly touched a 
glass of claret at dinner. 

"It is not for me," he said when it came. 
"It is for you. You have looked like death 
for days." 



286 The Highroad 

But I pushed the stuff away with disgust. I 
loathe the sight of it. 

"Do you not think it would be well to go 
down there and develop the property?" I 
asked after I had told the story. 

Robert poured out some whiskey and drank 
it, and smiled at me. 

"Genevieve wants to go to Europe," I 
began. 

"I wonder," he said gaily, "if Clancy would 
put me up at the Union Club." 

"There is a long waiting-list there," I said 
stupidly. I wondered if the boy were a fool, 
after all. 

"And, I wonder, my dear mother, if he will 
not ask us to dinner." 

"But it is a question of your going to West 
Virginia. I will go down with you and" my 
mind was working slowly "stay with Mrs. 
Ward." 

Robert reached for the paper he had brought 
in. 

"It would be too bad to bury oneself in West 
Virginia when one may enjoy the advantages 
of New York." He smiled at me. "I hear 
that Mr. Van Nest is coming home." 

"But," -1 tried to expostulate. 



A Business Interview 287 

Robert looked at me suddenly with a flash of 
understanding in his face that I had seen there 
once before. 

"You think Clancy is giving you money. 
Mother, that property is worth millions. It is 
necessary to their plans. Father must have 
been a prophet to see so far ahead. Let me 
arrange the details of the working of the prop 
erty. We shall all be millionaires, and I do 
not believe you want to go to West Virginia. 
Mrs. Ward killed herself yesterday on account 
of that story about Chester." 

And then, for the first time in my life, I lost 
control of my senses and fainted dead away 



288 The Highroad 

XXV 

We Arrive 

The rest of the story is entirely commonplace. 
We were really rich. No more lies, no more 
mean ways. I took Genevieve abroad, and 
Babcock followed and married her. It has 
been as happy as most marriages. Robert 
stayed behind and managed our affairs, and 
married Mr. Clancy's niece, Mrs. Thomas' 
daughter. A month later Mr. Van Nest mar 
ried Mrs. Wallingford, with the result that one 
of his daughters never spoke to him again, but 
all the rest of society remembered that it had 
always loved her. What comedy was played 
before these things came about, only Robert 
could tell. 

Jane, young, an heiress, brought up abroad, 
with the best connections, naturally married 
into the nobility. She needed none of my 
offices. 

Chester Ward divorced his wife, and, seem 
ingly without the least difficulty, married a 
western girl with great wealth. They were at 



We Arrive 289 

Kiel on their yacht this summer, enjoying the 
usual Imperial attentions. 

And as I sit here, there is just one thing 
that my heart aches over. The money was 
there all the time! Lucile might have married 
Julien, and those little French children might 
have played among the old marbles atVerriere. 
There was where my faith and heart failed me, 
and I can never forgive myself. 

You may not be able to forgive me else 
where. My road has not always been flower- 
strewn, nor always free from mud. But I am 
here! 

Some of you will put down this page with 
expressions of disgust, and yet, you have fol 
lowed me! The best proof that I am not alto 
gether alien to you is the fact that we are here 
together. 



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