List Of Contents | Contents of The Golden House, by Charles Dudley Warner
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melody in a shrill voice, action and words flowing together into the
passion of the daughter of tents in a desert life.  It was all vigorous,
suggestive, more properly religious, Mavick would have said, and the
applause was vociferous.

More wine went about.  There was another dance, and then another, a slow
languid movement, half melancholy and full of sorrow, if one might say
that of a movement, for unrepented sin; a gypsy dance this, accompanied
by the mournful song of Boabdil, "The Last Sigh of the Moor."  And
suddenly, when the feelings of the spectators were melted to tender
regret, a flash out of all this into a joyous defiance, a wooing of
pleasure with smiling lips and swift feet, with the clash of cymbals and
the quickened throb of the drum.  And so an end with the dawn of a new

It was not yet dawn, however, for the clocks were only striking three as
the assembly, in winter coats and soft wraps, fluttered out to its
carriages, chattering and laughing, with endless good-nights in the
languages of France, Germany, and Spain.

The streets were as nearly deserted as they ever are; here and there a
lumbering market-wagon from Jersey, an occasional street-car with its
tinkling bell, rarer still the rush of a trembling train on the elevated,
the voice of a belated reveler, a flitting female figure at a street
corner, the roll of a livery hack over the ragged pavement.  But mainly
the noise of the town was hushed, and in the sharp air the stars, far off
and uncontaminated, glowed with a pure lustre.

Farther up town it was quite still, and in one of the noble houses in the
neighborhood of the Park sat Edith Delancy, married not quite a year,
listening for the roll of wheels and the click of a night-key.


Everybody liked John Corlear Delancy, and this in spite of himself, for
no one ever knew him to make any effort to incur either love or hate.
The handsome boy was a favorite without lifting his eyebrows, and he
sauntered through the university, picking his easy way along an elective
course, winning the affectionate regard of every one with whom he came in
contact.  And this was not because he lacked quality, or was merely easy-
going and negative or effeminate, for the same thing happened to him when
he went shooting in the summer in the Rockies.  The cowboys and the
severe moralists of the plains, whose sedate business in life is to get
the drop on offensive persons, regarded him as a brother.  It isn't a bad
test of personal quality, this power to win the loyalty of men who have
few or none of the conventional virtues.  These non-moral enforcers of
justice--as they understood it liked Jack exactly as his friends in the
New York clubs liked him--and perhaps the moral standard of approval of
the one was as good as the other.

Jack was a very good shot and a fair rider, and in the climate of England
he might have taken first-rate rank in athletics.  But he had never taken
first-rate rank in anything, except good-fellowship.  He had a great many
expensive tastes, which he could not afford to indulge, except in
imagination.  The luxury of a racing-stable, or a yacht, or a library of
scarce books bound by Paris craftsmen was denied him.  Those who account
for failures in life by a man's circumstances, and not by a lack in the
man himself, which is always the secret of failure, said that Jack was
unfortunate in coming into a certain income of twenty thousand a year.
This was just enough to paralyze effort, and not enough to permit a man
to expand in any direction.  It is true that he was related to millions
and moved in a millionaire atmosphere, but these millions might never
flow into his bank account.  They were not in hand to use, and they also
helped to paralyze effort--like black clouds of an impending shower that
may pass around, but meantime keeps the watcher indoors.

The best thing that Jack Delancy ever did, for himself, was to marry
Edith Fletcher.  The wedding, which took place some eight months before
the advent of the Spanish dancer, was a surprise to many, for the girl
had even less fortune than Jack, and though in and of his society
entirely, was supposed to have ideals.  Her family, indeed, was an old
one on the island, and was prominent long before the building of the
stone bridge on Canal Street over the outlet of Collect Pond.  Those who
knew Edith well detected in her that strain of moral earnestness which
made the old Fletchers such stanch and trusty citizens.  The wonder was
not that Jack, with his easy susceptibility to refined beauty, should
have been attracted to her, or have responded to a true instinct of what
was best for him, but that Edith should have taken up with such a perfect
type of the aimlessness of the society strata of modern life.  The
wonder, however, was based upon a shallow conception of the nature of
woman.  It would have been more wonderful if the qualities that endeared
Jack to college friends and club men, to the mighty sportsmen who do not
hesitate, in the clubs, to devastate Canada and the United States of big
game, and to the border ruffians of Dakota, should not have gone straight
to the tender heart of a woman of ideals.  And when in all history was
there a woman who did not believe, when her heart went with respect for
certain manly traits, that she could inspire and lift a man into a noble

The silver clock in the breakfast-room was striking ten, and Edith was
already seated at the coffee-urn, when Jack appeared.  She was as fresh
as a rose, and greeted him with a bright smile as he came behind her
chair and bent over for the morning kiss--a ceremony of affection which,
if omitted, would have left a cloud on the day for both of them, and
which Jack always declared was simply a necessity, or the coffee would
have no flavor.  But when a man has picked a rose, it is always a sort of
climax which is followed by an awkward moment, and Jack sat down with the
air of a man who has another day to get through with.

"Were you amused with the dancing--this morning?"

"So, so," said Jack, sipping his coffee.  "It was a stunning place for
it, that studio; you'd have liked that.  The Lamons and Mavick and a lot
of people from the provinces were there.  The company was more fun than
the dance, especially to a fellow who has seen how good it can be and how
bad in its home."

"You have a chance to see the Spanish dancer again, under proper
auspices," said Edith, without looking up.

"How's that?"

"We are invited by Mrs. Brown--"

"The mother of the Bible class at St. Philip's?"

"Yes--to attend a charity performance for the benefit of the Female
Waifs' Refuge.  She is to dance."

"Who?  Mrs. Brown?"

Edith paid no attention to this impertinence.  "They are to make an
artificial evening at eleven o'clock in the morning."

"They must have got hold of Mavick's notion that this dance is religious
in its origin.  Do you, know if the exercises will open with prayer?"

"Nonsense, Jack.  You know I don't intend to go.  I shall send a small

"Well, draw it mild.  But isn't this what I'm accused of doing--shirking
my duty of personal service by a contribution?"

"Perhaps.  But you didn't have any of that shirking feeling last night,
did you?"

Jack laughed, and ran round to give the only reply possible to such a
gibe.  These breakfast interludes had not lost piquancy in all these
months.  "I'm half a mind to go to this thing.  I would, if it didn't
break up my day so."

"As for instance?"

"Well, this morning I have to go up to the riding-school to see a horse--
Storm; I want to try him.  And then I have to go down to Twist's and see
a lot of Japanese drawings he's got over.  Do you know that the birds and
other animals those beggars have been drawing, which we thought were
caricatures, are the real thing?  They have eyes sharp enough to see
things in motion--flying birds and moving horses which we never caught
till we put the camera on them.  Awfully curious.  Then I shall step into
the club a minute, and--"

"Be in at lunch?  Bess is coming."

"Don't wait lunch.  I've a lot to do."

Edith followed him with her eyes, a little wistfully; she heard the outer
door close, and still sat at the table, turning over the pile of notes at
her plate, and thinking of many things--things that it began to dawn upon
her mind could not be done, and things of immediate urgency that must be
done.  Life did not seem quite such a simple problem to her as it had
looked a year ago.  That there is nothing like experiment to clear the
vision is the general idea, but oftener it is experience that perplexes.
Indeed, Edith was thinking that some things seemed much easier to her
before she had tried them.

As she sat at the table with a faultless morning-gown, with a bunch of
English violets in her bosom, an artist could have desired no better
subject.  Many people thought her eyes her best feature; they were large
brown eyes, yet not always brown, green at times, liquid, but never
uncertain, apt to have a smile in them, yet their chief appealing
characteristic was trustfulness, a pure sort of steadfastness, that
always conveyed the impression of a womanly personal interest in the
person upon whom they were fixed.  They were eyes that haunted one like a
remembered strain of music.  The lips were full, and the mouth was drawn
in such exquisite lines that it needed the clear-cut and emphasized chin
to give firmness to its beauty.  The broad forehead, with arching
eyebrows, gave an intellectual cast to a face the special stamp of which
was purity.  The nose, with thin open nostrils, a little too strong for
beauty, together with the chin, gave the impression of firmness and
courage; but the wonderful eyes, the inviting mouth, so modified this
that the total impression was that of high spirit and great sweetness of
character.  It was the sort of face from which one might expect
passionate love or unflinching martyrdom.  Her voice had a quality the
memory of which lingered longer even than the expression of her eyes; it
was low, and, as one might say, a fruity voice, not quite clear, though

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