List Of Contents | Contents of The Golden House, by Charles Dudley Warner
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biggest rooms, and give the most expensive entertainments.  It's all
show.  The old flavor has gone."

"But they cannot spoil the scenery.".

"My child, they are the scenery.  You can't see anything else.  It
doesn't bother me, but some of my old neighbors are just ruining
themselves trying to keep the pace.  I do think the Americans are the
biggest fools on earth."

"Father Damon says the trouble is we haven't any middle class for a

"Yes, that's the English of it.  But it's a pity that fashion has got
hold of the country, and is turning our summers into a worry and a
burden.  I thought years ago when we went to Lenox that it was a good
thing the country was getting to be the fashion; but now it's
fashionable, and before we know it every desirable spot will be what they
call syndicated.  Miss Tavish says she is coming to visit the Hendersons

"I thought she went to Bar Harbor."

"But she is coming down for part of the season.  These people don't stay
anywhere.  Just long enough in one place to upset everything with their
extravagance.  That's the reason I didn't ask you and Jack up this

"Thank you, we couldn't go, you know," said Edith, simply, and then, with
curiosity in her eyes, asked; "but I don't quite understand what's the

"Well," said Mrs. Blunt, as if nerving herself up to say what must be
said, "I thought perhaps you wouldn't like to be where they are."

"I don't know why I should or why I should not," Edith replied.

"Nor have Jack with them," continued Mrs. Blunt, stoutly.

"What do you mean, Mrs. Blunt?" cried Edith, her brown eyes flaming.

"Don't turn on me, Edith dear.  I oughtn't to have said anything.  But I
thought it was my duty.  Of course it is only talk."


"That Jack is always with one or the other of those women."

"It is false!" cried Edith, starting up, with tears now in her eyes;
"it's a cruel lie if it means anything wrong in Jack.  So am I with those
women; so are you.  It's a shame.  If you hear any one say such things,
you can tell them for me that I despise them."

"I said it was a shame, all such talk.  I said it was nonsense.  But,
dear, as a friend, oughtn't I to tell you?"  And the kind-hearted gossip
put her arm round Edith, and kept saying that she perfectly understood
it, and that nobody really meant anything.  But Edith was crying now,
with a heart both hurt and indignant.

"It's a most hateful world, I know," Mrs, Blunt answered; "but it's the
best we have, and it's no use to fret about it."

When the visitor had gone, Edith sat a long time in misery.  It was the
first real shock of her married life.  And in her heart she prayed.  For
Jack?  Oh no.  The dear girl prayed for herself, that suspicions might
not enter her heart.  She could not endure that the world should talk
thus of him.  That was all.  And when she had thought it all over and
grown calm, she went to her desk and wrote a note to Carmen.  It asked
Mrs. Henderson, as they were so soon to leave town, to do her the favor
to come round informally and lunch with her the next day, and afterwards
perhaps a little drive in the Park.


Jack was grateful for Edith's intervention.  He comprehended that she had
stepped forward as a shield to him in the gossip about Carmen.  He showed
his appreciation in certain lover-like attentions and in a gayety of
manner, but it was not in his nature to feel the sacrifice she had made
or its full magnanimity; he was relieved, and in a manner absolved.
Another sort of woman might have made him very uncomfortable.  Instead of
being rebuked he had a new sense of freedom.

"Not one woman in a thousand would have done it," was the comment of
Major Fairfax when he heard of the drive in the Park.  "Gad! most of 'em
would have cut Carmen dead and put Jack in Coventry, and then there would
have been the devil to pay.  It takes quality, though; she's such a woman
as Jack's mother.  If there were not one of them now and then society
would deliquesce."  And the Major knew, for his principal experience had
been with a deliquescent society.

Whether Carmen admired Mrs. Delancy or thought her weak it is impossible
to say, but she understood the advances made and responded to them, for
they fell in perfectly with her social plans.  She even had the face to
eulogize Mrs. Delancy to Jack, her breadth of view, her lack of
prejudice, and she had even dared to say, "My dear friend, she is too
good for us," and Jack had not protested, but with a laugh had accepted
the implication of his position on a lower moral level.  Perhaps he did
not see exactly what it meant, this being on confidential terms about his
wife with another woman; all he cared for at the moment was that the
comradeship of Miss Tavish and Carmen was agreeable to him.  They were no
restraint upon him.  So long as they remained in town the exchange of
civilities was kept up.  Carmen and Miss Tavish were often at his house,
and there was something reassuring to Jack in the openness with which
affairs went on.

Early in June Edith went down to their rented cottage on the south Long
Island shore.  In her delicate health the doctor had recommended the
seaside, and this locality as quiet and restful, and not too far from the
whirl of the city.  The place had a charm of its own, the charm, namely,
of a wide sky, illimitable, flashing, changing sea, rolling in from the
far tropical South with its message of romance to the barren Northern
shore, and the pure sand dunes, the product of the whippings of tempests
and wild weather.  The cottage was in fact an old farmhouse, not an
impertinent, gay, painted piece of architecture set on the sand like a
tent for a month, but a solid, ugly, fascinating habitation, with barns
and outhouses, and shrubs, and an old garden--a place with a salty air
friendly to delicate spring blossoms and summer fruits and foliage.
If it was a farmhouse, the sea was an important part of the farm, and the
low-ceiled rooms suggested cabins; it required little imagination to
fancy that an East-Indian ship had some time come ashore and settled in
the sand, that it had been remodeled and roofed over, and its sides
pierced with casement windows, over which roses had climbed in order to
bind the wanderer to the soil.  It had been painted by the sun and the
wind and the salt air, so that its color depended upon the day, and it
was sometimes dull and almost black, or blue-black, under a lowering sky,
and again a golden brown, especially at sunset, and Edith, feeling its
character rather than its appearance to ordinary eyes, had named it the
Golden House.  Nature is such a beautiful painter of wood.

With Edith went one of her Baltimore cousins, a young kindergarten
teacher of fine intelligence and sympathetic manner, who brought to her
work a long tradition of gentle breeding and gayety and simplicity--
qualities which all children are sure to recognize.  What a hopeful thing
it is, by-the-way, in the world, that all conditions of people know a
lady at sight!  Jack found the place delightful.  He liked its
quaintness, the primitiveness of the farmer-fisherman neighbors, he liked
the sea.  And then he could run up to the city any morning and back at
night.  He spent the summer with Edith at the Golden House.  This was his
theory.  When he went to town in the morning he expected to return at
night.  But often he telegraphed in the afternoon that he was detained by
business; he had to see Henderson, or Mavick was over from Washington.
Occasionally, but not often, he missed the train.  He had too keen a
sense of the ridiculous to miss the train often.  When he was detained
over for two or three days, or the better part of the week, he wrote
Edith dashing, hurried letters, speaking of ever so many places he had
been to and ever so many people he had seen--yes, Carmen and Miss Tavish
and everybody who was in town, and he did not say too much about the hot
city and its discomforts.

Henderson's affairs kept him in town, Miss Tavish still postponed Bar
Harbor, and Carmen willingly remained.  She knew the comfort of a big New
York house when the season is over, when no social duties are required,
and one is at leisure to lounge about in cool costumes, to read or dream,
to open the windows at night for the salt breeze from the bay, to take
little excursions by boat or rail, to dine al fresco in the garden of
some semi-foreign hotel, to taste the unconventional pleasures of the
town, as if one were in some foreign city.  She used to say that New York
in matting and hollands was almost as nice as BudaPesth.  These were
really summer nights, operatic sorts of nights, with music floating in
the air, gay groups in the streets, a stage imitation of nature in the
squares with the thick foliage and the heavy shadows cast on the asphalt
by the electric lights, the brilliant shops, the nonsense of the summer
theatres, where no one expected anything, and no one was disappointed,
the general air of enjoyment, and the suggestion of intrigue.  Sometimes,
when Mavick was over, a party was made up for the East Side, to see the
foreign costumes, the picturesque street markets, the dime museums, and
the serious, tragical theatres of the people.  The East Side was left
pretty much to itself, now that the winter philanthropists had gone away,
and was enjoying its summer nights and its irresponsible poverty.

They even looked in at Father Damon's chapel, the dimly lighted fragrant
refuge from the world and from sin.  Why not?  They were interested in
the morals of the region.  Had not Miss Tavish danced for one of the
guilds; and had not Carmen given Father Damon a handsome check in support
of his mission?  It was so satisfactory to go into such a place and see
the penitents kneeling here and there, the little group of very plainly
dressed sinners attracted by Father Damon's spiritual face and unselfish
enthusiasm.  Carmen said she felt like kneeling at one of the little
boxes and confessing--the sins of her neighbors.  And then the four-
Carmen, Miss Tavish, Mavick, and Jack--had a little supper at Wherry's,

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