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Nobody
by Susan Warner
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[Transcriber's note: Susan Warner (1819-1885), Nobody (1883), Nisbet edition]



NOBODY



BY



SUSAN WARNER



AUTHOR OF "THE WIDE, WIDE WORLD" "QUEECHY" ETC. ETC.



"Let me see; What think you of falling in love?"

As You Like It



LONDON

JAMES NISBET & C deg. LIMITED

31 BERNERS STREET



NOTICE TO READER.



The following is again a true story of real life. For character and colouring, no doubt, I am responsible; but the facts are facts.



MARTLAER'S ROCK,

Aug. 9, 1882.



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER



I. WHO IS SHE?

II. AT BREAKFAST

III. A LUNCHEON PARTY

IV. ANOTHER LUNCHEON PARTY

V. IN COUNCIL

VI. HAPPINESS

VII. THE WORTH OF THINGS

VIII. MRS. ARMADALE

IX. THE FAMILY

X. LOIS'S GARDEN

XI. SUMMER MOVEMENTS

XII. APPLEDORE

XIII. A SUMMER HOTEL

XIV. WATCHED

XV. TACTICS

XVI. MRS. MARX'S OPINION

XVII. TOM'S DECISION

XVIII. MR. DILLWYN'S PLAN

XIX. NEWS

XX. SHAMPUASHUH

XXI. GREVILLE'S MEMOIRS

XXII. LEARNING

XXIII. A BREAKFAST TABLE

XXIV. THE CARPENTER

XXV. ROAST PIG

XXVI. SCRUPLES

XXVII. PEAS AND RADISHES

XXVIII. THE LAGOON OF VENICE

XXIX. AN OX CART

XXX. POETRY

XXXI. LONG CLAMS

XXXII. A VISITOR

XXXIII. THE VALUE OF MONEY

XXXIV. UNDER AN UMBRELLA

XXXV. OPINIONS

XXXVI. TWO SUNDAY SCHOOLS

XXXVII. AN OYSTER SUPPER

XXXVIII. BREAKING UP

XXXIX. LUXURY

XL. ATTENTIONS

XLI. CHESS

XLII. RULES

XLIII. ABOUT WORK

XLIV. CHOOSING A WIFE

XLV. DUTY

XLVI. OFF AND ON

XLVII. PLANS

XLVIII. ANNOUNCEMENTS

XLIX. ON THE PASS



NOBODY.



CHAPTER I.



WHO IS SHE?



"Tom, who was that girl you were so taken with last night?"

"Wasn't particularly taken last night with anybody."

Which practical falsehood the gentleman escaped from by a mental reservation, saying to himself that it was not last night that he was "taken."

"I mean the girl you had so much to do with. Come, Tom!"

"I hadn't much to do with her. I had to be civil to somebody. She was the easiest."

"Who is she, Tom?"

"Her name is Lothrop."

"O you tedious boy! I know what her name is, for I was introduced to her, and Mrs. Wishart spoke so I could not help but understand her; but I mean something else, and you know I do. Who is she? And where does she come from?"

"She is a cousin of Mrs. Wishart; and she comes from the country somewhere."

"One can see that."

"How can you?" the brother asked rather fiercely.

"You see it as well as I do," the sister returned coolly. "Her dress shows it."

"I didn't notice anything about her dress."

"You are a man."

"Well, you women dress for the men. If you only knew a thing or two, you would dress differently."

"That will do! You would not take me anywhere, if I dressed like Miss Lothrop."

"I'll tell you what," said the young man, stopping short in his walk up and down the floor;—"she can afford to do without your advantages!"

"Mamma!" appealed the sister now to a third member of the party,—"do you hear? Tom has lost his head."

The lady addressed sat busy with newspapers, at a table a little withdrawn from the fire; a lady in fresh middle age, and comely to look at. The daughter, not comely, but sensible-looking, sat in the glow of the fireshine, doing nothing. Both were extremely well dressed, if "well" means in the fashion and in rich stuffs, and with no sparing of money or care. The elder woman looked up from her studies now for a moment, with the remark, that she did not care about Tom's head, if he would keep his heart.

"But that is just precisely what he will not do, mamma. Tom can't keep anything, his heart least of all. And this girl mamma, I tell you he is in danger. Tom, how many times have you been to see her?"

"I don't go to see her; I go to see Mrs. Wishart."

"Oh!—and you see Miss Lothrop by accident! Well, how many times, Tom? Three—four—five."

"Don't be ridiculous!" the brother struck in. "Of course a fellow goes where he can amuse himself and have the best time; and Mrs. Wishart keeps a pleasant house."

"Especially lately. Well, Tom, take care! it won't do. I warn you."

"What won't do?"—angrily.

"This girl; not for our family. Not for you, Tom. She hasn't anything,—and she isn't anybody; and it will not do for you to marry in that way. If your fortune was ready made to your hand, or if you were established in your profession and at the top of it,—why, perhaps you might be justified in pleasing yourself; but as it is, don't, Tom! Be a good boy, and don't!"

"My dear, he will not," said the elder lady here. "Tom is wiser than you give him credit for."

"I don't give any man credit for being wise, mamma, when a pretty face is in question. And this girl has a pretty face; she is very pretty. But she has no style; she' is as poor as a mouse; she knows nothing of the world; and to crown all, Tom, she's one of the religious sort.—Think of that! One of the real religious sort, you know. Think how that would fit."

"What sort are you?" asked her brother.

"Not that sort, Tom, and you aren't either."

"How do you know she is?"

"Very easy," said the girl coolly. "She told me herself."

"She told you!"

"Yes."

"How?"

"O, simply enough. I was confessing that Sunday is such a fearfully long day to me, and I did not know what to do with it; and she looked at me as if I were a poor heathen—which I suppose she thought me—and said, 'But there is always the Bible!' Fancy!—'always the Bible.' So I knew in a moment where to place her."

"I don't think religion hurts a woman," said the young man.

"But you do not want her to have too much of it—" the mother remarked, without looking up from her paper.

"I don't know what you mean by too much, mother. I'd as lief she found Sunday short as long. By her own showing, Julia has the worst of it."

"Mamma! speak to him," urged the girl.

"No need, my dear, I think. Tom isn't a fool."

"Any man is, when he is in love, mamma."

Tom came and stood by the mantelpiece, confronting them. He was a remarkably handsome young man; tall, well formed, very well dressed, hair and moustaches carefully trimmed, and features of regular though manly beauty, with an expression of genial kindness and courtesy.

"I am not in love," he said, half laughing. "But I will tell you,—I never saw a nicer girl than Lois Lothrop. And I think all that you say about her being poor, and all that, is just—bosh."

The newspapers went down.

"My dear boy, Julia is right. I should be very sorry to see you hurt your career and injure your chances by choosing a girl who would give you no sort of help. And you would regret it yourself, when it was too late. You would be certain to regret it. You could not help but regret it."

"I am not going to do it. But why should I regret it?"

"You know why, as well as I do. Such a girl would not be a good wife for you. She would be a millstone round your neck."

Perhaps Mr. Tom thought she would be a pleasant millstone in those circumstances; but he only remarked that he believed the lady in question would be a good wife for whoever could get her.

"Well, not for you. You can have anybody you want to, Tom; and you may just as well have money and family as well as beauty. It is a very bad thing for a girl not to have family. That deprives her husband of a great advantage; and besides, saddles upon him often most undesirable burdens in the shape of brothers and sisters, and nephews perhaps. What is this girl's family, do you know?"

"Respectable," said Tom, "or she would not be a cousin of Mrs. Wishart. And that makes her a cousin of Edward's wife."

"My dear, everybody has cousins; and people are not responsible for them. She is a poor relation, whom Mrs. Wishart has here for the purpose of befriending her; she'll marry her off if she can; and you would do as well as another. Indeed you would do splendidly; but the advantage would be all on their side; and that is what I do not wish for you."

Tom was silent. His sister remarked that Mrs. Wishart really was not a match-maker.

"No more than everybody is; it is no harm; of course she would like to see this little girl well married. Is she educated? Accomplished?"

"Tom can tell," said the daughter. "I never saw her do anything. What can she do, Tom?"

"Do?" said Tom, flaring up. "What do you mean?"

"Can she play?"

"No, and I am glad she can't. If ever there was a bore, it is the performances of you young ladies on the piano. It's just to show what you can do. Who cares, except the music master?"

"Does she sing?"

"I don't know!"

"Can she speak French?"

"French!" cried Tom. "Who wants her to speak French? We talk English in this country."

"But, my dear boy, we often have to use French or some other language, there are so many foreigners that one meets in society. And a lady must know French at least. Does she know anything?"

"I don't know," said Tom. "I have no doubt she does. I haven't tried her. How much, do you suppose, do girls in general know? girls with ever so much money and family? And who cares how much they know? One does not seek a lady's society for the purpose of being instructed."

"One might, and get no harm," said the sister softly; but Tom flung out of the room. "Mamma, it is serious."

"Do you think so?" asked the elder lady, now thrusting aside all her papers.

"I am sure of it. And if we do not do something—we shall all be sorry for it."

"What is this girl, Julia? Is she pretty?"

Julia hesitated. "Yes," she said. "I suppose the men would call her so."

"You don't?"

"Well, yes, mamma; she is pretty, handsome, in a way; though she has not the least bit of style; not the least bit! She is rather peculiar; and I suppose with the men that is one of her attractions."

"Peculiar how?" said the mother, looking anxious.

"I cannot tell; it is indefinable. And yet it is very marked. Just that want of style makes her peculiar."

"Awkward?"

"No."

"Not awkward. How then? Shy?"

"No."

"How then, Julia? What is she like?"

"It is hard to tell in words what people are like. She is plainly dressed, but not badly; Mrs. Wishart would see to that; so it isn't exactly her dress that makes her want of style. She has a very good figure; uncommonly good. Then she has most beautiful hair, mamma; a full head of bright brown hair, that would be auburn if it were a shade or two darker; and it is somewhat wavy and curly, and heaps itself around her head in a way that is like a picture. She don't dress it in the fashion; I don't believe there is a hairpin in it, and I am sure there isn't a cushion, or anything; only this bright brown hair puffing and waving and curling itself together in some inexplicable way, that would be very pretty if it were not so altogether out of the way that everybody else wears. Then there is a sweet, pretty face under it; but you can see at the first look that she was never born or brought up in New York or any other city, and knows just nothing about the world."

"Dangerous!" said the mother, knitting her brows.

"Yes; for just that sort of thing is taking to the men; and they don't look any further. And Tom above all. I tell you, he is smitten, mamma. And he goes to Mrs. Wishart's with a regularity which is appalling."

"Tom takes things hard, too," said the mother.

"Foolish boy!" was the sister's comment.

"What can be done?"

"I'll tell you, mamma. I've been thinking. Your health will never stand the March winds in New York. You must go somewhere."

"Where?"

"Florida, for instance?"

"I should like it very well."

"It would be better anyhow than to let Tom get hopelessly entangled."

"Anything would be better than that."

"And prevention is better than cure. You can't apply a cure, besides. When a man like Tom, or any man, once gets a thing of this sort in his head, it is hopeless. He'll go through thick and thin, and take time to repent afterwards. Men are so stupid!"



"Women sometimes."

"Not I, mamma; if you mean me. I hope for the credit of your discernment you don't."

"Lent will begin soon," observed the elder lady presently.

"Lent will not make any difference with Tom," returned the daughter. "And little parties are more dangerous than big ones."

"What shall I do about the party we were going to give? I should be obliged to ask Mrs. Wishart."

"I'll tell you, mamma," Julia said after a little thinking. "Let it be a luncheon party; and get Tom to go down into the country that day. And then go off to Florida, both of you."



CHAPTER II.



AT BREAKFAST.



"How do you like New York, Lois? You have been here long enough to judge of us now?"

"Have I?"

Mrs. Wishart and her guest being at breakfast, this question and answer go over the table. It is not exactly in New York, however. That is, it is within the city bounds, but not yet among the city buildings. Some little distance out of town, with green fields about it, and trees, and lawn sloping down to the river bank, and a view of the Jersey shore on the other side. The breakfast room windows look out over this view, upon which the winter sun is shining; and green fields stand in beautiful illumination, with patches of snow lying here and there. Snow is not on the lawn, however. Mrs. Wishart's is a handsome old house, not according to the latest fashion, either in itself or its fitting up; both are of a simpler style than anybody of any pretension would choose now-a-days; but Mrs. Wishart has no need to make any pretension; her standing and her title to it are too well known. Moreover, there are certain quain't witnesses to it all over, wherever you look. None but one of such secured position would have such an old carpet on her floor; and few but those of like antecedents could show such rare old silver on the board. The shawl that wraps the lady is Indian, and not worn for show; there are portraits on the walls that go back to a respectable English ancestry; there is precious old furniture about, that money could not buy; old and quain't and rich, and yet not striking the eye; and the lady is served in the most observant style by one of those ancient house servants whose dignity is inseparably connected with the dignity of the house and springs from it. No new comer to wealth and place can be served so. The whole air of everything in the room is easy, refined, leisurely, assured, and comfortable. The coffee is capital; and the meal, simple enough, is very delicate in its arrangement.

Only the two ladies are at the table; one behind the coffee urn, and the other near her. The mistress of the house has a sensible, agreeable face, and well-bred manner; the other lady is the one who has been so jealously discussed and described in another family. As Miss Julia described her, there she sits, in a morning dress which lends her figure no attraction whatever. And—her figure can do without it. As the question is asked her about New York, her eye goes over to the glittering western shore.

"I like this a great deal better than the city," she added to her former words.

"O, of course, the brick and stone!" answered her hostess. "I did not mean that. I mean, how do you like us?"

"Mrs. Wishart, I like you very much," said the girl with a certain sweet spirit.

"Thank you! but I did not mean that either. Do you like no one but me?"

"I do not know anybody else."

"You have seen plenty of people."

"I do not know them, though. Not a bit. One thing I do not like. People talk so on the surface of things."

"Do you want them to go deep in an evening party?"

"It is not only in evening parties. If you want me to say what I think, Mrs. Wishart. It is the same always, if people come for morning calls, or if we go to them, or if we see them in the evening; people talk about nothing; nothing they care about."

"Nothing you care about."

"They do not seem to care about it either."

"Why do you suppose they talk it then?" Mrs. Wishart asked, amused.

"It seems to be a form they must go through," Lois said, laughing a little. "Perhaps they enjoy it, but they do not seem as if they did. And they laugh so incessantly,—some of them,—at what has no fun in it. That seems to be a form too; but laughing for form's sake seems to me hard work."

"My dear, do you want people to be always serious?"

"How do you mean, 'serious'?"

"Do you want them to be always going 'deep' into things?"

"N-o, perhaps not; but I would like them to be always in earnest."

"My dear! What a fearful state of society you would bring about! Imagine for a moment that everybody was always in earnest!"

"Why not? I mean, not always sober; did you think I meant that? I mean, whether they laugh or talk, doing it heartily, and feeling and thinking as they speak. Or rather, speaking and laughing only as they feel."

"My dear, do you know what would become of society?"

"No. What?"

"I go to see Mrs. Brinkerhoff, for instance. I have something on my mind, and I do not feel like discussing any light matter, so I sit silent. Mrs. Brinkerhoff has a fearfully hard piece of work to keep the conversation going; and when I have departed she votes me a great bore, and hopes I will never come again. When she returns my visit, the conditions are reversed; I vote her a bore; and we conclude it is easier to do without each other's company."

"But do you never find people a bore as it is?"

Mrs. Wishart laughed. "Do you?"

"Sometimes. At least I should if I lived among them. Now, all is new, and I am curious."

"I can tell you one thing, Lois; nobody votes you a bore."

"But I never talk as they do."

"Never mind. There are exceptions to all rules. But, my dear, even you must not be always so desperately in earnest. By the way! That handsome young Mr. Caruthers—does he make himself a bore too? You have seen a good deal of him."

"No," said Lois with some deliberation. "He is pleasant, what I have seen of him."

"And, as I remarked, that is a good deal. Isn't he a handsome fellow? I think Tom Caruthers is a good fellow, too. And he is likely to be a successful fellow. He is starting well in life, and he has connections that will help him on. It is a good family; and they have money enough."

"How do you mean, 'a good family'?"

"Why, you know what that phrase expresses, don't you?"

"I am not sure that I do, in your sense. You do not mean religious?"

"No," said Mrs. Wishart, smiling; "not necessarily. Religion has nothing to do with it. I mean—we mean— It is astonishing how hard it is to put some things! I mean, a family that has had a good social standing for generations. Of course such a family is connected with other good families, and it is consequently strong, and has advantages for all belonging to it."

"I mean," said Lois slowly, "a family that has served God for generations. Such a family has connections too, and advantages."

"Why, my dear," said Mrs. Wishart, opening her eyes a little at the girl, "the two things are not inconsistent, I hope."

"I hope not."

"Wealth and position are good things at any rate, are they not?"

"So far as they go, I suppose so," said Lois. "O yes, they are pleasant things; and good things, if they are used right."

"They are whether or no. Come! I can't have you holding any extravagant ideas, Lois. They don't do in the world. They make one peculiar, and it is not good taste to be peculiar."

"You know, I am not in the world," Lois answered quietly.

"Not when you are at home, I grant you; but here, in my house, you are; and when you have a house of your own, it is likely you will be. No more coffee, my dear? Then let us go to the order of the day. What is this, Williams?"

"For Miss Lot'rop," the obsequious servant replied with a bow,—"de bo-quet." But he presented to his mistress a little note on his salver, and then handed to Lois a magnificent bunch of hothouse flowers. Mrs. Wishart's eyes followed the bouquet, and she even rose up to examine it.

"That is beautiful, my dear. What camellias! And what geraniums! That is the Black Prince, one of those, I am certain; yes, I am sure it is; and that is one of the new rare varieties. That has not come from any florist's greenhouse. Never. And that rose-coloured geranium is Lady Sutherland. Who sent the flowers, Williams?"

"Here is his card, Mrs. Wishart," said Lois. "Mr. Caruthers."

"Tom Caruthers!" echoed Mrs. Wishart. "He has cut them in his mother's greenhouse, the sinner!"

"Why?" said Lois. "Would that be not right?"

"It would be right, if—. Here's a note from Tom's mother, Lois—but not about the flowers. It is to ask us to a luncheon party. Shall we go?"

"You know, dear Mrs. Wishart, I go just where you choose to take me," said the girl, on whose cheeks an exquisite rose tint rivalled the Lady Sutherland geranium blossoms. Mrs. Wishart noticed it, and eyed the girl as she was engrossed with her flowers, examining, smelling, and smiling at them. It was pleasure that raised that delicious bloom in her cheeks, she decided; was it anything more than pleasure? What a fair creature! thought her hostess; and yet, fair as she is, what possible chance for her in a good family? A young man may be taken with beauty, but not his relations; and they would object to a girl who is nobody and has nothing. Well, there is a chance for her, and she shall have the chance.

"Lois, what will you wear to this luncheon party?"

"You know all my dresses, Mrs. Wishart. I suppose my black silk would be right."

"No, it would not be right at all. You are too young to wear black silk to a luncheon party. And your white dress is not the thing either."

"I have nothing else that would do. You must let me be old, in a black silk."

"I will not let you be anything of the kind. I will get you a dress."

"No, Mrs. Wishart; I cannot pay for it."

"I will pay for it."

"I cannot let you do that. You have done enough for me already. Mrs. Wishart, it is no matter. People will just think I cannot afford anything better, and that is the very truth."

"No, Lois; they will think you do not know any better."

"That is the truth too," said Lois, laughing.

"No it isn't; and if it is, I do not choose they should think so. I shall dress you for this once, my dear; and I shall not ruin myself either."

Mrs. Wishart had her way; and so it came to pass that Lois went to the luncheon party in a dress of bright green silk; and how lovely she looked in it is impossible to describe. The colour, which would have been ruinous to another person, simply set off her delicate complexion and bright brown hair in the most charming manner; while at the same time the green was not so brilliant as to make an obvious patch of colour wherever its wearer might be. Mrs. Wishart was a great enemy of startling effects, in any kind; and the hue was deep and rich and decided, without being flashy.

"You never looked so well in anything," was Mrs. Wishart's comment. "I have hit just the right thing. My dear, I would put one of those white camellias in your hair—that will relieve the eye."

"From what?" Lois asked, laughing.

"Never mind; you do as I tell you."



CHAPTER III.



A LUNCHEON PARTY.



Luncheon parties were not then precisely what they are now; nevertheless the entertainment was extremely handsome. Lois and her friend had first a long drive from their home in the country to a house in one of the older parts of the city. Old the house also was; but it was after a roomy and luxurious fashion, if somewhat antiquated; and the air of ancient respectability, even of ancient distinction, was stamped upon it, as upon the family that inhabited it. Mrs. Wishart and Lois were received with warm cordiality by Miss Caruthers; but the former did not fail to observe a shadow that crossed Mrs. Caruthers' face when Lois was presented to her. Lois did not see it, and would not have known how to interpret it if she had seen it. She is safe, thought Mrs. Wishart, as she noticed the calm unembarrassed air with which Lois sat down to talk with the younger of her hostesses.

"You are making a long stay with Mrs. Wishart," was the unpromising opening remark.

"Mrs. Wishart keeps me."

"Do you often come to visit her?"

"I was never here before."

"Then this is your first acquain'tance with New York?"

"Yes."

"How does it strike you? One loves to get at new impressions of what one has known all one's life. Nothing strikes us here, I suppose. Do tell me what strikes you."

"I might say, everything."

"How delightful! Nothing strikes me. I have seen it all five hundred times. Nothing is new."

"But people are new," said Lois. "I mean they are different from one another. There is continual variety there."

"To me there seems continual sameness!" said the other, with a half shutting up of her eyes, as of one dazed with monotony. "They are all alike. I know beforehand exactly what every one will say to me, and how every one will behave."

"That is not how it is at home," returned Lois. "It is different there."

"People are not all alike?"

"No indeed. Perfectly unlike, and individual."

"How agreeable! So that is one of the things that strike you here? the contrast?"

"No," said Lois, laughing; "I find here the same variety that I find at home. People are not alike to me."

"But different, I suppose, from the varieties you are accustomed to at home?"

Lois admitted that.

"Well, now tell me how. I have never travelled in New England; I have travelled everywhere else. Tell me, won't you, how those whom you see here differ from the people you see at home."

"In the same sort of way that a sea-gull differs from a land sparrow," Lois answered demurely.

"I don't understand. Are we like the sparrows, or like the gulls?"

"I do not know that. I mean merely that the different sorts are fitted to different spheres and ways of life."

Miss Caruthers looked a little curiously at the girl. "I know this sphere," she said. "I want you to tell me yours."

"It is free space instead of narrow streets, and clear air instead of smoke. And the people all have something to do, and are doing it."

"And you think we are doing nothing?" asked Miss Caruthers, laughing.

"Perhaps I am mistaken. It seems to me so."

"O, you are mistaken. We work hard. And yet, since I went to school, I never had anything that I must do, in my life."

"That can be only because you did not know what it was."

"I had nothing that I must do."

"But nobody is put in this world without some thing to do," said Lois. "Do you think a good watchmaker would carefully make and finish a very costly pin or wheel, and put it in the works of his watch to do nothing?"

Miss Caruthers stared now at the girl. Had this soft, innocent-looking maiden absolutely dared to read a lesson to her?—"You are religious!" she remarked dryly.

Lois neither affirmed nor denied it. Her eye roved over the gathering throng; the rustle of silks, the shimmer of lustrous satin, the falls of lace, the drapery of one or two magnificent camels'-hair shawls, the carefully dressed heads, the carefully gloved hands; for the ladies did not keep on their bonnets then; and the soft murmur of voices, which, however, did not remain soft. It waxed and grew, rising and falling, until the room was filled with a breaking sea of sound. Miss Caruthers had been called off to attend to other guests, and then came to conduct Lois herself to the dining-room.

The party was large, the table was long; and it was a mass of glitter and glisten with plate and glass. A superb old-fashioned epergne in the middle, great dishes of flowers sending their perfumed breath through the room, and bearing their delicate exotic witness to the luxury that reigned in the house. And not they alone. Before each guest's plate a semicircular wreath of flowers stood, seemingly upon the tablecloth; but Lois made the discovery that the stems were safe in water in crescent-shaped glass dishes, like little troughs, which the flowers completely covered up and hid. Her own special wreath was of heliotropes. Miss Caruthers had placed her next herself.

There were no gentlemen present, nor expected, Lois observed. It was simply a company of ladies, met apparently for the purpose of eating; for that business went on for some time with a degree of satisfaction, and a supply of means to afford satisfaction, which Lois had never seen equalled. From one delicate and delicious thing to another she was required to go, until she came to a stop; but that was the case, she observed, with no one else of the party.

"You do not drink wine?" asked Miss Caruthers civilly.

"No, thank you."

"Have you scruples?" said the young lady, with a half smile.

Lois assented.

"Why? what's the harm?"

"We all have scruples at Shampuashuh."

"About drinking wine?"

"Or cider, or beer, or anything of the sort."

"Do tell me why."

"It does so much mischief."

"Among low people," said Miss Caruthers, opening her eyes; "but not among respectable people."

"We are willing to hinder mischief anywhere," said Lois with a smile of some fun.

"But what good does your not drinking it do? That will not hinder them."

"It does hinder them, though," said Lois; "for we will not have liquor shops. And so, we have no crime in the town. We could leave our doors unlocked, with perfect safety, if it were not for the people that come wandering through from the next towns, where liquor is sold. We have no crime, and no poverty; or next to none."

"Bless me! what an agreeable state of things! But that need not hinder your taking a glass of champagne here? Everybody here has no scruple, and there are liquor shops at every corner; there is no use in setting an example."

But Lois declined the wine.

"A cup of coffee then?"

Lois accepted the coffee.

"I think you know my brother?" observed Miss Caruthers then, making her observations as she spoke.

"Mr. Caruthers? yes; I believe he is your brother."

"I have heard him speak of you. He has seen you at Mrs. Wishart's, I think."

"At Mrs. Wishart's—yes."

Lois spoke naturally, yet Miss Caruthers fancied she could discern a certain check to the flow of her words.

"You could not be in a better place for seeing what New York is like, for everybody goes to Mrs. Wishart's; that is, everybody who is anybody."

This did not seem to Lois to require any answer. Her eye went over the long tableful; went from face to face. Everybody was talking, nearly everybody was smiling. Why not? If enjoyment would make them smile, where could more means of enjoyment be heaped up, than at this feast? Yet Lois could not help thinking that the tokens of real pleasure-taking were not unequivocal. She was having a very good time; full of amusement; to the others it was an old story. Of what use, then?

Miss Caruthers had been engaged in a lively battle of words with some of her young companions; and now her attention came back to Lois, whose meditative, amused expression struck her.

"I am sure," she said, "you are philosophizing! Let me have the results of your observations, do! What do your eyes see, that mine perhaps do not?"

"I cannot tell," said Lois. "Yours ought to know it all."

"But you know, we do not see what we have always seen."

"Then I have an advantage," said Lois pleasantly. "My eyes see something very pretty."

"But you were criticizing something.—O you unlucky boy!"

This exclamation, and the change of tone with it, seemed to be called forth by the entrance of a new comer, even Tom Caruthers himself. Tom was not in company trim exactly, but with his gloves in his hand and his overcoat evidently just pulled off. He was surveying the company with a contented expression; then came forward and began a series of greetings round the table; not hurrying them, but pausing here and there for a little talk.

"Tom!" cried his mother, "is that you?"

"To command. Yes, Mrs. Badger, I am just off the cars. I did not know what I should find here."

"How did you get back so soon, Tom?"

"Had nothing to keep me longer, ma'am. Miss Farrel, I have the honour to remind you of a phillipoena."

There was a shout of laughter. It bewildered Lois, who could not understand what they were laughing about, and could as little keep her attention from following Tom's progress round the table. Miss Caruthers observed this, and was annoyed.

"Careless boy!" she said. "I don't believe he has done the half of what he had to do, Tom, what brought you home?"

Tom was by this time approaching them.

"Is the question to be understood in a physical or moral sense?" said he.

"As you understand it!" said his sister.

Tom disregarded the question, and paid his respects to Miss Lothrop. Julia's jealous eyes saw more than the ordinary gay civility in his face and manner.

"Tom," she cried, "have you done everything? I don't believe you have."

"Have, though," said Tom. And he offered to Lois a basket of bon-bons.

"Did you see the carpenter?"

"Saw him and gave him his orders."

"Were the dogs well?"

"I wish you had seen them bid me good morning!"

"Did you look at the mare's foot?"

"Yes."

"What is the matter with it?"

"Nothing—a nail—Miss Lothrop, you have no wine."

"Nothing! and a nail!" cried Miss Julia as Lois covered her glass with her hand and forbade the wine. "As if a nail were not enough to ruin a horse! O you careless boy! Miss Lothrop is more of a philosopher than you are. She drinks no wine."

Tom passed on, speaking to other ladies. Lois had scarcely spoken at all; but Miss Caruthers thought she could discern a little stir in the soft colour of the cheeks and a little additional life in the grave soft eyes; and she wished Tom heartily at a distance.

At a distance, however, he was no more that day. He made himself gracefully busy indeed with the rest of his mother's guests; but after they quitted the table, he contrived to be at Lois's side, and asked if she would not like to see the greenhouse? It was a welcome proposition, and while nobody at the moment paid any attention to the two young people, they passed out by a glass door at the other end of the dining-room into the conservatory, while the stream of guests went the other way. Then Lois was plunged in a wilderness of green leafage and brilliant bloom, warm atmosphere and mixed perfume; her first breath was an involuntary exclamation of delight and relief.

"Ah! you like this better than the other room, don't you?" said Tom.

Lois did not answer; however, she went with such an absorbed expression from one plant to another, that Tom must needs conclude she liked this better than the other company too.

"I never saw such a beautiful greenhouse," she said at last, "nor so large a one."

"This is not much," replied Tom. "Most of our plants are in the country—where I have come from to-day; this is just a city affair. Shampuashuh don't cultivate exotics, then?"

"O no! Nor anything much, except the needful."

"That sounds rather—tiresome," said Tom.

"O, it is not tiresome. One does not get tired of the needful, you know."

"Don't you! I do," said Tom. "Awfully. But what do you do for pleasure then, up there in Shampuashuh?"

"Pleasure? O, we have it—I have it— But we do not spend much time in the search of it. O how beautiful! what is that?"

"It's got some long name—Metrosideros, I believe. What do you do for pleasure up there then, Miss Lothrop?"

"Dig clams."

"Clams!" cried Tom.

"Yes. Long clams. It's great fun. But I find pleasure all over."

"How come you to be such a philosopher?"

"That is not philosophy."

"What is it? I can tell you, there isn't a girl in New York that would say what you have just said."

Lois thought the faces around the lunch table had quite harmonized with this statement. She forgot them again in a most luxuriant trailing Pelargonium covered with large white blossoms of great elegance.

"But it is philosophy that makes you not drink wine? Or don't you like it?"

"O no," said Lois, "it is not philosophy; it is humanity."

"How? I think it is humanity to share in people's social pleasures."

"If they were harmless."

"This is harmless!"

Lois shook her head. "To you, maybe."

"And to you. Then why shouldn't we take it?"

"For the sake of others, to whom it is not harmless."

"They must look out for themselves."

"Yes, and we must help them."

"We can't help them. If a man hasn't strength enough to stand, you cannot hold him up."

"O yes," said Lois gently, "you can and you must. That is not much to do! When on one side it is life, and on the other side it is only a minute's taste of something sweet, it is very little, I think, to give up one for the other."

"That is because you are so good," said Tom. "I am not so good."

At this instant a voice was heard within, and sounds of the servants removing the lunch dishes.

"I never heard anybody in my life talk as you do," Tom went on.

Lois thought she had talked enough, and would say no more. Tom saw she would not, and gave her glance after glance of admiration, which began to grow into veneration. What a pure creature was this! what a gentle simplicity, and yet what a quiet dignity! what absolutely natural sweetness, with no airs whatever! and what a fresh beauty.

"I think it must be easier to be good where you live," Tom added presently, and sincerely.

"Why?" said Lois.

"I assure you it ain't easy for a fellow here."

"What do you mean by 'good,' Mr. Caruthers? not drinking wine?" said Lois, somewhat amused.

"I mean, to be like you," said he softly. "You are better than all the rest of us here."

"I hope not. Mr. Caruthers, we must go back to Mrs. Wishart, or certainly she will not think me good."

So they went back, through the empty lunch room.

"I thought you would be here to-day," said Tom. "I was not going to miss the pleasure; so I took a frightfully early train, and despatched business faster than it had ever been despatched before, at our house. I surprised the people, almost as much as I surprised my mother and Julia. You ought always to wear a white camellia in your hair!"

Lois smiled to herself. If he knew what things she had to do at her own home, and how such an adornment would be in place! Was it easier to be good there? she queried. It was easier to be pleased here. The guests were mostly gone.

"Well, my dear," said Mrs. Wishart on the drive home, "how have you enjoyed yourself?"

Lois looked grave. "I am afraid it turns my head," she answered.

"That shows your head is not turned. It must carry a good deal of ballast too, somewhere."

"It does," said Lois. "And I don't like to have my head turned."

"Tom," said Miss Julia, as Mrs. Wishart's carriage drove off and Tom came back to the drawing-room, "you mustn't turn that little girl's head."

"I can't," said Tom.

"You are trying."

"I am doing nothing of the sort."

"Then what are you doing? You are paying her a great deal of attention. She is not accustomed to our ways; she will not understand it. I do not think it is fair to her."

"I don't mean anything that is not fair to her. She is worth attention ten times as much as all the rest of the girls that were here to-day."

"But, Tom, she would not take it as coolly. She knows only country ways. She might think attentions mean more than they do."

"I don't care," said Tom.

"My dear boy," said his mother now, "it will not do, not to care. It would not be honourable to raise hopes you do not mean to fulfil; and to take such a girl for your wife, would be simply ruinous."

"Where will you find such another girl?" cried Tom, flaring up.

"But she has nothing, and she is nobody."

"She is her own sweet self," said Tom.

"But not an advantageous wife for you, my dear. Society does not know her, and she does not know society. Your career would be a much more humble one with her by your side. And money you want, too. You need it, to get on properly; as I wish to see you get on, and as you wish it your self. My dear boy, do not throw your chances away!"

"It's my belief, that is just what you are trying to make me do!" said the young man; and he went off in something of a huff.

"Mamma, we must do something. And soon," remarked Miss Julia. "Men are such fools! He rushed through with everything and came home to-day just to see that girl. A pretty face absolutely bewitches them." N. B. Miss Julia herself did not possess that bewitching power.

"I will go to Florida," said Mrs. Caruthers, sighing.



CHAPTER IV.



ANOTHER LUNCHEON PARTY.



A journey can be decided upon in a minute, but not so soon entered upon. Mrs. Caruthers needed a week to make ready; and during that week her son and heir found opportunity to make several visits at Mrs. Wishart's. A certain marriage connection between the families gave him somewhat the familiar right of a cousin; he could go when he pleased; and Mrs. Wishart liked him, and used no means to keep him away. Tom Caruthers was a model of manly beauty; gentle and agreeable in his manners; and of an evidently affectionate and kindly disposition. Why should not the young people like each other? she thought; and things were in fair train. Upon this came the departure for Florida. Tom spoke his regrets unreservedly out; he could not help himself, his mother's health required her to go to the South for the month of March, and she must necessarily have his escort. Lois said little. Mrs. Wishart feared, or hoped, she felt the more. A little absence is no harm, the lady thought; may be no harm. But now Lois began to speak of returning to Shampuashuh; and that indeed might make the separation too long for profit. She thought too that Lois was a little more thoughtful and a trifle more quiet than she had been before this journey was talked of.

One day, it was a cold, blustering day in March, Mrs. Wishart and her guest had gone down into the lower part of the city to do some particular shopping; Mrs. Wishart having promised Lois that they would take lunch and rest at a particular fashionable restaurant. Such an expedition had a great charm for the little country girl, to whom everything was new, and to whose healthy mental senses the ways and manners of the business world, with all the accessories thereof, were as interesting as the gayer regions and the lighter life of fashion. Mrs. Wishart had occasion to go to a banker's in Wall Street; she had business at the Post Office; she had something to do which took her to several furrier's shops; she visited a particular magazine of varieties in Maiden Lane, where things, she told Lois, were about half the price they bore up town. She spent near an hour at the Tract House in Nassau Street. There was no question of taking the carriage into these regions; an omnibus had brought them to Wall Street, and from there they went about on their own feet, walking and standing alternately, till both ladies were well tired. Mrs. Wishart breathed out a sigh of relief as she took her seat in the omnibus which was to carry them up town again.

"Tired out, Lois, are you? I am."

"I am not. I have been too much amused."

"It's delightful to take you anywhere! You reverse the old fairy-tale catastrophe, and a little handful of ashes turns to fruit for you, or to gold. Well, I will make some silver turn to fruit presently. I want my lunch, and I know you do. I should like to have you with me always, Lois. I get some of the good of your fairy fruit and gold when you are along with me. Tell me, child, do you do that sort of thing at home?"

"What sort?" said Lois, laughing.

"Turning nothings into gold."

"I don't know," said Lois. "I believe I do pick up a good deal of that sort of gold as I go along. But at home our life has a great deal of sameness about it, you know. Here everything is wonderful."

"Wonderful!" repeated Mrs. Wishart. "To you it is wonderful. And to me it is the dullest old story, the whole of it. I feel as dusty now, mentally, as I am outwardly. But we'll have some luncheon, Lois, and that will be refreshing, I hope."

Hopes were to be much disappointed. Getting out of the omnibus near the locality of the desired restaurant, the whole street was found in confusion. There had been a fire, it seemed, that morning, in a house adjoining or very near, and loungers and firemen and an engine and hose took up all the way. No restaurant to be reached there that morning. Greatly dismayed, Mrs. Wishart put herself and Lois in one of the street cars to go on up town.

"I am famishing!" she declared. "And now I do not know where to go. Everybody has had lunch at home by this time, or there are half-a-dozen houses I could go to."

"Are there no other restaurants but that one?"

"Plenty; but I could not eat in comfort unless I know things are clean. I know that place, and the others I don't know. Ha, Mr. Dillwyn!"—

This exclamation was called forth by the sight of a gentleman who just at that moment was entering the car. Apparently he was an old acquain'tance, for the recognition was eager on both sides. The new comer took a seat on the other side of Mrs. Wishart.

"Where do you come from," said he, "that I find you here?"

"From the depths of business—Wall Street—and all over; and now the depths of despair, that we cannot get lunch. I am going home starving."

"What does that mean?"

"Just a contretemps. I promised my young friend here I would give her a good lunch at the best restaurant I knew; and to-day of all days, and just as we come tired out to get some refreshment, there's a fire and firemen and all the street in a hubbub. Nothing for it but to go home fasting."

"No," said he, "there is a better thing. You will do me the honour and give me the pleasure of lunching with me. I am living at the 'Imperial,'—and here we are!"

He signalled the car to stop, even as he spoke, and rose to help the ladies out. Mrs. Wishart had no time to think about it, and on the sudden impulse yielded. They left the car, and a few steps brought them to the immense beautiful building called the Imperial Hotel. Mr. Dillwyn took them in as one at home, conducted them to the great dining-room; proposed to them to go first to a dressing-room, but this Mrs. Wishart declined. So they took places at a small table, near enough to one of the great clear windows for Lois to look down into the Avenue and see all that was going on there. But first the place where she was occupied her. With a kind of wondering delight her eye went down the lines of the immense room, reviewed its loftiness, its adornments, its light and airiness and beauty; its perfection of luxurious furnishing and outfitting. Few people were in it just at this hour, and the few were too far off to trouble at all the sense of privacy. Lois was tired, she was hungry; this sudden escape from din and motion and dust, to refreshment and stillness and a soft atmosphere, was like the changes in an Arabian Nights' enchantment. And the place was splendid enough and dainty enough to fit into one of those stories too. Lois sat back in her chair, quietly but intensely enjoying. It never occurred to her that she herself might be a worthy object of contemplation.

Yet a fairer might have been sought for, all New York through. She was not vulgarly gazing; she had not the aspect of one strange to the place; quiet, grave, withdrawn into herself, she wore an air of most sweet reserve and unconscious dignity. Features more beautiful might be found, no doubt, and in numbers; it was not the mere lines, nor the mere colours of her face, which made it so remarkable, but rather the mental character. The beautiful poise of a spirit at rest within itself; the simplicity of unconsciousness; the freshness of a mind to which nothing has grown stale or old, and which sees nothing in its conventional shell; along with the sweetness that comes of habitual dwelling in sweetness. Both her companions occasionally looked at her; Lois did not know it; she did not think herself of sufficient importance to be looked at.

And then came the luncheon. Such a luncheon! and served with a delicacy which became it. Chocolate which was a rich froth; rolls which were puff balls of perfection; salad, and fruit. Anything yet more substantial Mrs. Wishart declined. Also she declined wine.

"I should not dare, before Lois," she said.

Therewith came their entertainer's eyes round to Lois again.

"Is she allowed to keep your conscience, Mrs. Wishart?"

"Poor child! I don't charge her with that. But you know, Mr. Dillwyn, in presence of angels one would walk a little carefully!"

"That almost sounds as if the angels would be uncomfortable companions," said Lois.

"Not quite sans gene"—the gentleman added, Then Lois's eyes met his full.

"I do not know what that is," she said.

"Only a couple of French words."

"I do not know French," said Lois simply.

He had not seen before what beautiful eyes they were; soft and grave, and true with the clearness of the blue ether. He thought he would like another such look into their transparent depths. So he asked,

"But what is it about the wine?"

"O, we are water-drinkers up about my home," Lois answered, looking, however, at her chocolate cup from which she was refreshing herself.

"That is what the English call us as a nation, I am sure most inappropriately. Some of us know good wine when we see it; and most of the rest have an intimate acquain'tance with wine or some thing else that is not good. Perhaps Miss Lothrop has formed her opinion, and practice, upon knowledge of this latter kind?"

Lois did not say; she thought her opinions, or practice, could have very little interest for this fine gentleman.

"Lois is unfashionable enough to form her own opinions," Mrs. Wishart remarked.

"But not inconsistent enough to build them on nothing, I hope?"

"I could tell you what they are built on," said Lois, brought out by this challenge; "but I do not know that you would see from that how well founded they are."

"I should be very grateful for such an indulgence."

"In this particular case we are speaking of, they are built on two foundation stones—both out of the same quarry," said Lois, her colour rising a little, while she smiled too. "One is this—'Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.' And the other—'I will neither eat meat, nor drink wine, nor anything, by which my brother stumbleth, or is offended, or made weak.'"

Lois did not look up as she spoke, and Mrs. Wishart smiled with amusement. Their host's face expressed an undoubted astonishment. He regarded the gentle and yet bold speaker with steady attention for a minute or two, noting the modesty, and the gentleness, and the fearlessness with which she spoke. Noting her great beauty too.

"Precious stones!" said he lightly, when she had done speaking. "I do not know whether they are broad enough for such a superstructure as you would build on them." And then he turned to Mrs. Wishart again, and they left the subject and plunged into a variety of other subjects where Lois scarce could follow them.

What did they not talk of! Mr. Dillwyn, it appeared, had lately returned from abroad, where Mrs. Wishart had also formerly lived for some time; and now they went over a multitude of things and people familiar to both of them, but of which Lois did not even know the names. She listened, however, eagerly; and gleaned, as an eager listener generally may, a good deal. Places, until now unheard of, took a certain form and aspect in Lois's imagination; people were discerned, also in imagination, as being of different types and wonderfully different habits and manners of life from any Lois knew at home, or had even seen in New York. She heard pictures talked of, and wondered what sort of a world that art world might be, in which Mr. Dillwyn was so much at home. Lois had never seen any pictures in her life which were much to her. And the talk about countries sounded strange. She knew where Germany was on the map, and could give its boundaries no doubt accurately; but all this gossip about the Rhineland and its vineyards and the vintages there and in France, sounded fascinatingly novel. And she knew where Italy was on the map; but Italy's skies, and soft air, and mementos of past times of history and art, were unknown; and she listened with ever-quickening attention. The result of the whole at last was a mortifying sense that she knew nothing. These people, her friend and this other, lived in a world of mental impressions and mentally stored-up knowledge, which seemed to make their life unendingly broader and richer than her own. Especially the gentleman. Lois observed that it was constantly he who had something new to tell Mrs. Wishart, and that in all the ground they went over, he was more at home than she. Indeed, Lois got the impression that Mr. Dillwyn knew the world and everything in it better than anybody she had ever seen. Mr. Caruthers was extremely au fait in many things; Lois had the thought, not the word; but Mr. Dillwyn was an older man and had seen much more. He was terrifically wise in it all, she thought; and by degrees she got a kind of awe of him. A little of Mrs. Wishart too. How much her friend knew, how at home she was in this big world! what a plain little piece of ignorance was she herself beside her. Well, thought Lois—every one to his place! My place is Shampuashuh. I suppose I am fitted for that.

"Miss Lothrop," said their entertainer here, "will you allow me to give you some grapes?"

"Grapes in March!" said Lois, smiling, as a beautiful white bunch was laid before her. "People who live in New York can have everything, it seems, that they want."

"Provided they can pay for it," Mrs. Wishart put in.

"How is it in your part of the world?" said Mr. Dillwyn. "You cannot have what you want?"

"Depends upon what order you keep your wishes in," said Lois. "You can have strawberries in June—and grapes in September."

"What order do you keep your wishes in?" was the next question.

"I think it best to have as few as possible."

"But that would reduce life to a mere framework of life,—if one had no wishes!"

"One can find something else to fill it up," said Lois.

"Pray what would you substitute? For with wishes I connect the accomplishment of wishes."

"Are they always connected?"

"Not always; but generally, the one are the means to the other."

"I believe I do not find it so."

"Then, pardon me, what would you substitute, Miss Lothrop, to fill up your life, and not have it a bare existence?"

"There is always work—" said Lois shyly; "and there are the pleasures that come without being wished for. I mean, without being particularly sought and expected."

"Does much come that way?" asked their entertainer, with an incredulous smile of mockery.

"O, a great deal!" cried Lois; and then she checked herself.

"This is a very interesting investigation, Mrs. Wishart," said the gentleman. "Do you think I may presume upon Miss Lothrop's good nature, and carry it further?"

"Miss Lothrop's good nature is a commodity I never knew yet to fail."

"Then I will go on, for I am curious to know, with an honest desire to enlarge my circle of knowledge. Will you tell me, Miss Lothrop, what are the pleasures in your mind when you speak of their coming unsought?"

Lois tried to draw back. "I do not believe you would understand them," she said a little shyly.

"I trust you do my understanding less than justice!"

"No," said Lois, blushing, "for your enjoyments are in another line."

"Please indulge me, and tell me the line of yours."

He is laughing at me, thought Lois. And her next thought was, What matter! So, after an instant's hesitation, she answered simply.

"To anybody who has travelled over the world, Shampuashuh is a small place; and to anybody who knows all you have been talking about, what we know at Shampuashuh would seem very little. But every morning it is a pleasure to me to wake and see the sun rise; and the fields, and the river, and the Sound, are a constant delight to me at all times of day, and in all sorts of weather. A walk or a ride is always a great pleasure, and different every time. Then I take constant pleasure in my work."

"Mrs. Wishart," said the gentleman, "this is a revelation to me. Would it be indiscreet, if I were to ask Miss Lothrop what she can possibly mean under the use of the term 'work'?"

I think Mrs. Wishart considered that it would be rather indiscreet, and wished Lois would be a little reticent about her home affairs. Lois, however, had no such feeling.

"I mean work," she said. "I can have no objection that anybody should know what our life is at home. We have a little farm, very small; it just keeps a few cows and sheep. In the house we are three sisters; and we have an old grandmother to take care of, and to keep the house, and manage the farm."

"But surely you cannot do that last?" said the gentleman.

"We do not manage the cows and sheep," said Lois, smiling; "men's hands do that; but we make the butter, and we spin the wool, and we cultivate our garden. That we do ourselves entirely; and we have a good garden too. And that is one of the things," added Lois, smiling, "in which I take unending pleasure."

"What can you do in a garden?"

"All there is to do, except ploughing. We get a neighbour to do that."

"And the digging?"

"I can dig," said Lois, laughing.

"But do not?"

"Certainly I do."

"And sow seeds, and dress beds?"

"Certainly. And enjoy every moment of it. I do it early, before the sun gets hot. And then, there is all the rest; gathering the fruit, and pulling the vegetables, and the care of them when we have got them; and I take great pleasure in it all. The summer mornings and spring mornings in the garden are delightful, and all the work of a garden is delightful, I think."

"You will except the digging?"

"You are laughing at me," said Lois quietly. "No, I do not except the digging. I like it particularly. Hoeing and raking I do not like half so well."

"I am not laughing," said Mr. Dillwyn, "or certainly not at you. If at anybody, it is myself. I am filled with admiration."

"There is no room for that either," said Lois. "We just have it to do, and we do it; that is all."

"Miss Lothrop, I never have had to do anything in my life, since I left college."

Lois thought privately her own thoughts, but did not give them expression; she had talked a great deal more than she meant to do. Perhaps Mrs. Wishart too thought there had been enough of it, for she began to make preparations for departure.

"Mrs. Wishart," said Mr. Dillwyn, "I have to thank you for the greatest pleasure I have enjoyed since I landed."

"Unsought and unwished-for, too, according to Miss Lothrop's theory. Certainly we have to thank you, Philip, for we were in a distressed condition when you found us. Come and see me. And," she added sotto voce as he was leading her out, and Lois had stepped on before them, "I consider that all the information that has been given you is strictly in confidence."

"Quite delicious confidence!"

"Yes, but not for all ears," added Mrs. Wishart somewhat anxiously.

"I am glad you think me worthy. I will not abuse the trust."

"I did not say I thought you worthy," said the lady, laughing; "I was not consulted. Young eyes see the world in the fresh colours of morning, and think daisies grow everywhere."

They had reached the street. Mr. Dillwyn accompanied the ladies a part of their way, and then took leave of them.



CHAPTER V.



IN COUNCIL.



Sauntering back to his hotel, Mr. Dillwyn's thoughts were a good deal engaged with the impressions of the last hour. It was odd, too; he had seen all varieties and descriptions of feminine fascination, or he thought he had; some of them in very high places, and with all the adventitious charms which wealth and place and breeding can add to those of nature's giving. Yet here was something new. A novelty as fresh as one of the daisies Mrs. Wishart had spoken of. He had seen daisies too before, he thought; and was not particularly fond of that style. No; this was something other than a daisy.

Sauntering along and not heeding his surroundings, he was suddenly hailed by a joyful voice, and an arm was thrust within his own.

"Philip! where did you come from? and when did you come?"

"Only the other day—from Egypt—was coming to see you, but have been bothered with custom-house business. How do you all do, Tom?"

"What are you bringing over? curiosities? or precious things?"

"Might be both. How do you do, old boy?"

"Very much put out, just at present, by a notion of my mother's; she will go to Florida to escape March winds."

"Florida! Well, Florida is a good place, when March is stalking abroad like this. What are you put out for? I don't comprehend."

"Yes, but you see, the month will be half over before she gets ready to be off; and what's the use? April will be here directly; she might just as well wait here for April."

"You cannot pick oranges off the trees here in April. You forget that."

"Don't want to pick 'em anywhere. But come along, and see them at home. They'll be awfully glad to see you."

It was not far, and talking of nothings the two strolled that way. There was much rejoicing over Philip's return, and much curiosity expressed as to where he had been and what he had been doing for a long time past. Finally, Mrs. Caruthers proposed that he should go on to Florida with them.

"Yes, do!" cried Tom. "You go, and I'll stay."

"My dear Tom!" said his mother, "I could not possibly do without you."

"Take Julia. I'll look after the house, and Dillwyn will look after your baggage."

"And who will look after you, you silly boy?" said his sister. "You're the worst charge of all."

"What is the matter?" Philip asked now.

"Women's notions," said Tom. "Women are always full of notions! They can spy game at hawk's distance; only they make a mistake sometimes, which the hawk don't, I reckon; and think they see something when there is nothing."

"We know what we see this time," said his sister. "Philip, he's dreadfully caught."

"Not the first time?" said Dillwyn humorously. "No danger, is there?"

"There is real danger," said Miss Julia. "He is caught with an impossible country girl."

"Caught by her? Fie, Tom! aren't you wiser?"

"That's not fair!" cried Tom hotly. "She catches nobody, nor tries it, in the way you mean. I am not caught, either; that's more; but you shouldn't speak in that way."

"Who is the lady? It is very plain Tom isn't caught. But where is she?"

"She is a little country girl come to see the world for the first time. Of course she makes great eyes; and the eyes are pretty; and Tom couldn't stand it." Miss Julia spoke laughing, yet serious.

"I should not think a little country girl would be dangerous to Tom."

"No, would you? It's vexatious, to have one's confidence in one's brother so shaken."

"What's the matter with her?" broke out Tom here. "I am not caught, as you call it, neither by her nor with her; but if you want to discuss her, I say, what's the matter with her?"

"Nothing, Tom!" said his mother soothingly; "there is nothing whatever the matter with her; and I have no doubt she is a nice girl. But she has no education."

"Hang education!" said Tom. "Anybody can pick that up. She can talk, I can tell you, better than anybody of all those you had round your table the other day. She's an uncommon good talker."

"You are, you mean," said his sister; "and she listens and makes big eyes. Of course nothing can be more delightful. But, Tom, she knows nothing at all; not so much as how to dress herself."

"Wasn't she well enough dressed the other day?"

"Somebody arranged that for her."

"Well, somebody could do it again. You girls think so much of dressing. It isn't the first thing about a woman, after all."

"You men think enough about it, though. What would tempt you to go out with me if I wasn't assez bien mise? Or what would take any man down Broadway with his wife if she hadn't a hoop on?"

"Doesn't the lady in question wear a hoop?" inquired Philip.

"No, she don't."

"Singular want of taste!"

"Well, you don't like them; but, after all, it's the fashion, and one can't help oneself. And, as I said, you may not like them, but you wouldn't walk with me if I hadn't one."

"Then, to sum up—the deficiencies of this lady, as I understand, are,—education and a hoop? Is that all?"

"By no means!" cried Mrs. Caruthers. "She is nobody, Philip. She comes from a family in the country—very respectable people, I have no doubt, but,—well, she is nobody. No connections, no habit of the world. And no money. They are quite poor people."



"That is serious," said Dillwyn. "Tom is in such straitened circumstances himself. I was thinking, he might be able to provide the hoop; but if she has no money, it is critical."

"You may laugh!" said Miss Julia. "That is all the comfort one gets from a man. But he does not laugh when it comes to be his own case, and matters have gone too far to be mended, and he is feeling the consequences of his rashness."

"You speak as if I were in danger! But I do not see how it should come to be 'my own case,' as I never even saw the lady. Who is she? and where is she? and how comes she—so dangerous—to be visiting you?"

All spoke now at once, and Philip heard a confused medley of "Mrs. Wishart"—"Miss Lothrop"—"staying with her"—"poor cousin"—"kind to her of course."

Mr. Dillwyn's countenance changed.

"Mrs. Wishart!" he echoed. "Mrs. Wishart is irreproachable."

"Certainly, but that does not put a penny in Miss Lothrop's pocket, nor give her position, nor knowledge of the world."

"What do you mean by knowledge of the world?" Mr. Dillwyn inquired with slow words.

"Why! you know. Just the sort of thing that makes the difference between the raw and the manufactured article," Miss Julia answered, laughing. She was comfortably conscious of being thoroughly "manufactured" herself. No crude ignorances or deficiencies there.—"The sort of thing that makes a person at home and au fait everywhere, and in all companies, and shuts out awkwardnesses and inelegancies.

"Does it shut them out?"

"Why, of course! How can you ask? What else will shut them out? All that makes the difference between a woman of the world and a milkmaid."

"This little girl, I understand, then, is awkward and inelegant?"

"She is nothing of the kind!" Tom burst out. "Ridiculous!" But Dillwyn waited for Miss Julia's answer.

"I cannot call her just awkward," said Mrs. Caruthers.

"N-o," said Julia, "perhaps not. She has been living with Mrs. Wishart, you know, and has got accustomed to a certain set of things. She does not strike you unpleasantly in society, seated at a lunch table, for instance; but of course all beyond the lunch table is like London to a Laplander."

Tom flung himself out of the room.

"And that is what you are going to Florida for?" pursued Dillwyn.

"You have guessed it! Yes, indeed. Do you know, there seems to be nothing else to do. Tom is in actual danger. I know he goes very often to Mrs. Wishart's; and you know Tom is impressible; and before we know it he might do something he would be sorry for. The only thing is to get him away."

"I think I will go to Mrs. Wishart's too," said Philip. "Do you think there would be danger?"

"I don't know!" said Miss Julia, arching her brows. "I never can comprehend why the men take such furies of fancies for this girl or for that. To me they do not seem so different. I believe this girl takes just because she is not like the rest of what one sees every day."

"That might be a recommendation. Did it never strike you, Miss Julia, that there is a certain degree of sameness in our world? Not in nature, for there the variety is simply endless; but in our ways of living. Here the effort seems to be to fall in with one general pattern. Houses and dresses; and entertainments, and even the routine of conversation. Generally speaking, it is all one thing."

"Well," said Miss Julia, with spirit, "when anything is once recognized as the right thing, of course everybody wants to conform to it."

"I have not recognized it as the right thing."

"What?"

"This uniformity."

"What would you have?"

"I think I would like to see, for a change, freedom and individuality. Why should a woman with sharp features dress her hair in a manner that sets off their sharpness, because her neighbour with a classic head can draw it severely about her in close bands and coils, and so only the better show its nobility of contour? Why may not a beautiful head of hair be dressed flowingly, because the fashion favours the people who have no hair at all? Why may not a plain dress set off a fine figure, because the mode is to leave no unbroken line or sweeping drapery anywhere? And I might go on endlessly."

"I can't tell, I am sure," said Miss Julia; "but if one lives in the world, it won't do to defy the world. And that you know as well as I."

"What would happen, I wonder?"

"The world would quietly drop you. Unless you are a person of importance enough to set a new fashion."

"Is there not some unworthy bondage about that?"

"You can't help it, Philip Dillwyn, if there is. We have got to take it as it is; and make the best of it."

"And this new Fate of Tom's—this new Fancy rather,—as I understand, she is quite out of the world?"

"Quite. Lives in a village in New England somewhere, and grows onions."

"For market?" said Philip, with a somewhat startled face.

"No, no!" said Julia, laughing—"how could you think I meant that? No; I don't know anything about the onions; but she has lived among farmers and sailors all her life, and that is all she knows. And it is perfectly ridiculous, but Tom is so smitten with her that all we can do is to get him away. Fancy, Tom!"

"He has got to come back," said Philip, rising. "You had better get somebody to take the girl away."

"Perhaps you will do that?" said Miss Julia, laughing.

"I'll think of it," said Dillwyn as he took leave.



CHAPTER VI.



HAPPINESS.



Philip kept his promise. Thinking, however, he soon found, did not amount to much till he had seen more; and he went a few days after to Mrs. Wishart's house.

It was afternoon. The sun was streaming in from the west, filling the sitting-room with its splendour; and in the radiance of it Lois was sitting with some work. She was as unadorned as when Philip had seen her the other day in the street; her gown was of some plain stuff, plainly made; she was a very unfashionable-looking person. But the good figure that Mr. Dillwyn liked to see was there; the fair outlines, simple and graceful, light and girlish; and the exquisite hair caught the light, and showed its varying, warm, bright tints. It was massed up somehow, without the least artificiality, in order, and yet lying loose and wavy; a beautiful combination which only a few heads can attain to.

There was nobody else in the room; and as Lois rose to meet the visitor, he was not flattered to see that she did not recognize him. Then the next minute a flash of light came into her face.

"I have had the pleasure," said Dillwyn. "I was afraid you were going to ignore the fact."

"You gave us lunch the other day," said Lois, smiling. "Yes, I remember. I shall always remember."

"You got home comfortably?"

"O yes, after we were so fortified. Mrs. Wishart was quite exhausted, before lunch, I mean."

"This is a pleasant situation," said Philip, going a step nearer the window.

"Yes, very! I enjoy those rocks very much."

"You have no rocks at home?"

"No rocks," said Lois; "plenty of rock, or stone; but it comes up out of the ground just enough to make trouble, not to give pleasure. The country is all level."

"And you enjoy the variety?"

"O, not because it is variety. But I have been nowhere and have seen nothing in my life."

"So the world is a great unopened book to you?" said Philip, with a smile regarding her.

"It will always be that, I think," Lois replied, shaking her head.

"Why should it?"

"I live at Shampuashuh."

"What then? Here you are in New York."

"Yes, wonderfully. But I am going home again."

"Not soon?"

"Very soon. It will be time to begin to make garden in a few days."

"Can the garden not be made without you?"

"Not very well; for nobody knows, except me, just where things were planted last year."

"And is that important?"

"Very important." Lois smiled at his simplicity. "Because many things must be changed. They must not be planted where they were last year."

"Why not?"

"They would not do so well. They have all to shift about, like Puss-in-the-corner; and it is puzzling. The peas must go where the corn or the potatoes went; and the corn must find another place, and so on."

"And you are the only one who keeps a map of the garden in your head?"

"Not in my head," said Lois, smiling. "I keep it in my drawer."

"Ah! That is being more systematic than I gave you credit for."

"But you cannot do anything with a garden if you have not system."

"Nor with anything else! But where did you learn that?"

"In the garden, I suppose," said Lois simply.

She talked frankly and quietly. Mr. Dillwyn could see by her manner, he thought, that she would be glad if Mrs. Wishart would come in and take him off her hands; but there was no awkwardness or ungracefulness or unreadiness. In fact, it was the grace of the girl that struck him, not her want of it. Then she was so very lovely. A quiet little figure, in her very plain dress; but the features were exceedingly fair, the clear skin was as pure as a pearl, the head with its crown of soft bright hair might have belonged to one of the Graces. More than all, was the very rare expression and air of the face. That Philip could not read; he could not decide what gave the girl her special beauty. Something in the mind or soul of her, he was sure; and he longed to get at it and find out what it was.

She is not commonplace, he said to himself, while he was talking something else to her;—but it is more than being not commonplace. She is very pure; but I have seen other pure faces. It is not that she is a Madonna; this is no creature



". . . . too bright and good For human nature's daily food."



But what "daily food" for human nature she would be! She is a lofty creature; yet she is a half-timid country girl; and I suppose she does not know much beyond her garden. Yes, probably Mrs. Caruthers was right; she would not do for Tom. Tom is not a quarter good enough for her! She is a little country girl, and she does not know much; and yet—happy will be the man to whom she will give a free kiss of those wise, sweet lips!

With these somewhat contradictory thoughts running through his mind, Mr. Dillwyn set himself seriously to entertain Lois. As she had never travelled, he told her of things he had seen—and things he had known without seeing—in his own many journeyings about the world. Presently Lois dropped her work out of her hands, forgot it, and turned upon Mr. Dillwyn a pair of eager, intelligent eyes, which it was a pleasure to talk to. He became absorbed in his turn, and equally; ministering to the attention and curiosity and power of imagination he had aroused. What listeners her eyes were! and how quick to receive and keen to pass judgement was the intelligence behind them. It surprised him; however, its responses were mainly given through the eyes. In vain he tried to get a fair share of words from her too; sought to draw her out. Lois was not afraid to speak; and yet, for sheer modesty and simpleness, that supposed her words incapable of giving pleasure and would not speak them as a matter of conventionality, she said very few. At last Philip made a determined effort to draw her out.

"I have told you now about my home," he said. "What is yours like?" And his manner said, I am going to stop, and you are going to begin.

"There is nothing striking about it, I think," said Lois.

"Perhaps you think so, just because it is familiar to you."

"No, it is because there is really not much to tell about it. There are just level farm fields; and the river, and the Sound."

"The river?"

"The Connecticut."

"O, that is where you are, is it? And are you near the river?"

"Not very near. About as near the river on one side as we are to the Sound on the other; either of them is a mile and more away."

"You wish they were nearer?"

"No," said Lois; "I don't think I do; there is always the pleasure of going to them."

"Then you should wish them further. A mile is a short drive."

"O, we do not drive much. We walk to the shore often, and sometimes to the river."

"You like the large water so much the best?"

"I think I like it best," said Lois, laughing a little; "but we go for clams."

"Can you get them yourself?"

"Certainly! It is great fun. While you go to drive in the Park, we go to dig clams. And I think we have the best of it too, for a stand-by."

"Do tell me about the clams."

"Do you like them?"

"I suppose I do. I do not know them. What are they? the usual little soup fish?"

"I don't know about soup fish. O no! not those; they are not the sort Mrs. Wishart has sometimes. These are long; ours in the Sound, I mean; longish and blackish; and do not taste like the clams you have here."

"Better, I hope?"

"A great deal better. There is nothing much pleasanter than a dish of long clams that you have dug yourself. At least we think so."

"Because you have got them yourself!"

"No; but I suppose that helps."

"So you get them by digging?"

"Yes. It is funny work. The clams are at the edge of the water, where the rushes grow, in the mud. We go for them when the tide is out. Then, in the blue mud you see quantities of small holes as big as a lead pencil would make; those are the clam holes."

"And what then?"

"Then we dig for them; dig with a hoe; and you must dig very fast, or the clam will get away from you. Then, if you get pretty near him he spits at you."

"I suppose that is a harmless remonstrance."

"It may come in your face."

Mr. Dillwyn laughed a little, looking at this fair creature, who was talking to him, and finding it hard to imagine her among the rushes racing with a long clam.

"It is wet ground I suppose, where you find the clams?"

"O yes. One must take off shoes and stockings and go barefoot. But the mud is warm, and it is pleasant enough."

"The clams must be good, to reward the trouble?"

"We think it is as pleasant to get them as to eat them."

"I believe you remarked, this sport is your substitute for our Central Park?"

"Yes, it is a sort of a substitute."

"And, in the comparison, you think you are the gainers?"

"You cannot compare the two things," said Lois; "only that both are ways of seeking pleasure."

"So you say; and I wanted your comparative estimate of the two ways."

"Central Park is new to me, you know," said Lois; "and I am very fond of riding,—driving, Mrs. Wishart says I ought to call it; the scene is like fairyland to me. But I do not think it is better fun, really, than going after clams. And the people do not seem to enjoy it a quarter as much."

"The people whom you see driving?"

"Yes. They do not look as if they were taking much pleasure. Most of them."

"Pray why should they go, if they do not find pleasure in it?"

Lois looked at her questioner.

"You can tell, better than I, Mr. Dillwyn. For the same reasons, I suppose, that they do other things."

"Pardon me,—what things do you mean?"

"I mean, all the things they do for pleasure, or that are supposed to be for pleasure. Parties—luncheon parties, and dinners, and—" Lois hesitated.

"Supposed to be for pleasure!" Philip echoed the words. "Excuse me—but what makes you think they do not gain their end?"

"People do not look really happy," said Lois. "They do not seem to me as if they really enjoyed what they were doing."

"You are a nice observer!"

"Am I?"

"Pray, at—I forget the name—your home in the country, are the people more happily constituted?"

"Not that I know of. Not more happily constituted; but I think they live more natural lives."

"Instance!" said Philip, looking curious.

"Well," said Lois, laughing and colouring, "I do not think they do things unless they want to. They do not ask people unless they want to see them; and when they do make a party, everybody has a good time. It is not brilliant, or splendid, or wonderful, like parties here; but yet I think it is more really what it is meant to be."

"And here you think things are not what they are meant to be?"

"Perhaps I am mistaken," said Lois modestly. "I have seen so little."

"You are not mistaken in your general view. It would be a mistake to think there are no exceptions."

"O, I do not think that."

"But it is matter of astonishment to me, how you have so soon acquired such keen discernment. Is it that you do not enjoy these occasions yourself?"

"O, I enjoy them intensely," said Lois, smiling. "Sometimes I think I am the only one of the company that does; but I enjoy them."

"By the power of what secret talisman?"

"I don't know;—being happy, I suppose," said Lois shyly.

"You are speaking seriously; and therefore you are touching the greatest question of human life. Can you say of yourself that you are truly happy?"

Lois met his eyes in a little wonderment at this questioning, and answered a plain "yes."

"But, to be happy, with me, means, to be independent of circumstances. I do not call him happy, whose happiness is gone if the east wind blow, or a party miscarry, or a bank break; even though it were the bank in which his property is involved."

"Nor do I," said Lois gravely.

"And—pray forgive me for asking!—but, are you happy in this exclusive sense?"

"I have no property in a bank," said Lois, smiling again; "I have not been tried that way; but I suppose it may do as well to have no property anywhere. Yes, Mr. Dillwyn."

"But that is equal to having the philosopher's stone!" cried Dillwyn.

"What is the philosopher's stone?"

"The wise men of old time made themselves very busy in the search for some substance, or composition, which would turn other substances to gold. Looking upon gold as the source and sum of all felicity, they spent endless pains and countless time upon the search for this transmuting substance. They thought, if they could get gold enough, they would be happy. Sometimes some one of them fancied he was just upon the point of making the immortal discovery; but there he always broke down."

"They were looking in the wrong place," said Lois thoughtfully.

"Is there a right place to look then?"

Lois smiled. It was a smile that struck Philip very much, for its calm and confident sweetness; yes, more than that; for its gladness. She was not in haste to answer; apparently she felt some difficulty.

"I do not think gold ever made anybody happy," she said at length.

"That is what moralists tell us. But, after all, Miss Lothrop, money is the means to everything else in this world."

"Not to happiness, is it?"

"Well, what is, then? They say—and perhaps you will say—that friendships and affections can do more; but I assure you, where there are not the means to stave off grinding toil or crushing poverty, affections wither; or if they do not quite wither, they bear no golden fruit of happiness. On the contrary, they offer vulnerable spots to the stings of pain."

"Money can do a great deal," said Lois.

"What can do more?"

Lois lifted up her eyes and looked at her questioner inquiringly. Did he know no better than that?

"With money, one can do everything," he went on, though struck by her expression.

"Yes," said Lois; "and yet—all that never satisfied anybody."

"Satisfied!" cried Philip. "Satisfied is a very large word. Who is satisfied?"

Lois glanced up again, mutely.

"If I dared venture to say so—you look, Miss Lothrop, you absolutely look, as if you were; and yet it is impossible."

"Why is it impossible?"

"Because it is what all the generations of men have been trying for, ever since the world began; and none of them ever found it."

"Not if they looked for it in their money bags," said Lois. "It was never found there."

"Was it ever found anywhere?"

"Why, yes!"

"Pray tell me where, that I may have it too!"

The girl's cheeks flushed; and what was very odd to Philip, her eyes, he was sure, had grown moist; but the lids fell over them, and he could not see as well as he wished. What a lovely face it was, he thought, in this its mood of stirred gravity!

"Do you ever read the Bible, Mr. Dillwyn?"

The question occasioned him a kind of revulsion. The Bible! was that to be brought upon his head? A confused notion of organ-song, the solemnity of a still house, a white surplice, and words in measured cadence, came over him. Nothing in that connection had ever given him the idea of being satisfied. But Lois's question—

"The Bible?" he repeated. "May I ask, why you ask?"

"I thought you did not know something that is in it."

"Very possibly. It is the business of clergymen, isn't it, to tell us what is in it? That is what they are paid for. Of what are you thinking?"

"I was thinking of a person in it, mentioned in it, I mean,—who said just what you said a minute ago."

"What was that? And who was that?"

"It was a poor woman who once held a long talk with the Lord Jesus as he was resting beside a well. She had come to draw water, and Jesus asked her for some; and then he told her that whoever drank of that water would thirst again—as she knew; but whoever should drink of the water that he would give, should never thirst. I was telling you of that water, Mr. Dillwyn. And the woman answered just what you answered—'Give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.'"

"Did she get it?"

"I think she did."

"You mean, something that satisfied her, and would satisfy me?"

"It satisfies every one who drinks of it," said Lois.

"But you know, I do not in the least understand you."

The girl rose up and fetched a Bible which lay upon a distant table. Philip looked at the book as she brought it near; no volume of Mrs. Wishart's, he was sure. Lois had had her own Bible with her in the drawing-room. She must be one of the devout kind. He was sorry. He believed they were a narrow and prejudiced sort of people, given to laying down the law and erecting barricades across other people's paths. He was sorry this fair girl was one of them. But she was a lovely specimen. Could she unlearn these ways, perhaps? But now, what was she going to bring forth to him out of the Bible? He watched the fingers that turned the leaves; pretty fingers enough, and delicate, but not very white. Gardening probably was not conducive to the blanching of a lady's hand. It was a pity. She found her place so soon that he had little time to think his regrets.

"You allowed that nobody is satisfied, Mr. Dillwyn," said Lois then. "See if you understand this."

"'Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money: come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.'"

Lois closed her book.

"Who says that?" Philip inquired.

"God himself, by his messenger."

"And to whom?"

"I think, just now, the words come to you, Mr. Dillwyn." Lois said this with a manner and look of such simplicity, that Philip was not even reminded of the class of monitors he had in his mind assigned her with. It was absolute simple matter of fact; she meant business.

"May I look at it?" he said.

She found the page again, and he considered it. Then as he gave it back, remarked,

"This does not tell me yet what this satisfying food is?"

"No, that you can know only by experience."

"How is the experience to be obtained?"

Again Lois found the words in her book and showed them to him. "'Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him'—and again, above, 'If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.' Christ gives it, and he must be asked for it."

"And then—?" said Philip.

"Then you would be satisfied."

"You think it?"

"I know it."

"It takes a great deal to satisfy a man!"

"Not more than it does for a woman."

"And you are satisfied?" he asked searchingly.

But Lois smiled as she gave her answer; and it was an odd and very inconsistent thing that Philip should be disposed to quarrel with her for that smile. I think he wished she were not satisfied. It was very absurd, but he did not reason about it; he only felt annoyed.

"Well, Miss Lothrop," he said as he rose, "I shall never forget this conversation. I am very glad no one came in to interrupt it."

Lois had no phrases of society ready, and replied nothing.



CHAPTER VII.



THE WORTH OF THINGS.



Mr. Dillwyn walked away from Mrs. Wishart's in a discontented mood, which was not usual with him. He felt almost annoyed with something; yet did not quite know what, and he did not stop to analyze the feeling. He walked away, wondering at himself for being so discomposed, and pondering with sufficient distinctness one or two questions which stood out from the discomposure.

He was a man who had gone through all the usual routine of education and experience common to those who belong to the upper class of society, and can boast of a good name and family. He had lived his college life; he had travelled; he knew the principal cities of his own country, and many in other lands, with sufficient familiarity. Speaking generally, he had seen everything, and knew everybody. He had ceased to be surprised at anything, or to expect much from the world beyond what his own efforts and talents could procure him. His connections and associations had been always with good society and with the old and established portions of it; but he had come into possession of his property not so very long ago, and the pleasure of that was not yet worn off. He was a man who thought himself happy, and certainly possessed a very high place in the esteem of those who knew him; being educated, travelled, clever, and of noble character, and withal rich. It was the oddest thing for Philip to walk as he walked now, musingly, with measured steps, and eyes bent on the ground. There was a most strange sense of uneasiness upon him.

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