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List Of Contents | Contents of The Golden House, by Charles Dudley Warner
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sweet, as if veiled in femineity.  This note of royal womanhood was also
in her figure, a little more than medium in height, and full of natural
grace.  Somehow Edith, with all these good points, had not the reputation
of a belle or a beauty--perhaps for want of some artificial splendor--but
one could not be long in her company without feeling that she had great
charm, without which beauty becomes insipid and even commonplace, and
with which the plainest woman is attractive.

Edith's theory of life, if one may so dignify the longings of a young
girl, had been very simple, and not at all such as would be selected by
the heroine of a romance.  She had no mission, nor was she afflicted by
that modern form of altruism which is a yearning for notoriety by
conspicuous devotion to causes and reforms quite outside her normal
sphere of activity.  A very sincere person, with strong sympathy for
humanity tempered by a keen perception of the humorous side of things,
she had a purpose, perhaps not exactly formulated, of making the most out
of her own life, not in any outward and shining career, but by a
development of herself in the most helpful and harmonious relations to
her world.  And it seemed to her, though she had never philosophized it,
that a marriage such as she believed she had made was the woman's way to
the greatest happiness and usefulness.  In this she followed the dictates
of a clear mind and a warm heart.  If she had reasoned about it,
considering how brief life is, and how small can be any single
contribution to a better social condition, she might have felt more
strongly the struggle against nature, and the false position involved in
the new idea that marriage is only a kind of occupation, instead of an
ordinance decreed in the very constitution of the human race.  With the
mere instinct of femineity she saw the falseness of the assumption that
the higher life for man or woman lies in separate and solitary paths
through the wilderness of this world.  To an intelligent angel, seated on
the arch of the heavens, the spectacle of the latter-day pseudo-
philosophic and economic dribble about the doubtful expediency of having
a wife, and the failure of marriage, must seem as ludicrous as would a
convention of birds or of flowers reasoning that the processes of nature
had continued long enough.  Edith was simply a natural woman, who felt
rather than reasoned that in a marriage such as her heart approved she
should make the most of her life.

But as she sat here this morning this did not seem to be so simple a
matter as it had appeared.  It began to be suspected that in order to
make the most of one's self it was necessary to make the most of many
other persons and things.  The stream in its own channel flowed along not
without vexations, friction and foaming and dashings from bank to bank;
but it became quite another and a more difficult movement when it was
joined to another stream, with its own currents and eddies and
impetuosities and sluggishness, constantly liable to be deflected if not
put altogether on another course.  Edith was not putting it in this form
as she turned over her notes of invitation and appointments and
engagements, but simply wondering where the time for her life was to come
in, and for Jack's life, which occupied a much larger space than it
seemed to occupy in the days before it was joined to hers.  Very curious
this discovery of what another's life really is.  Of course the society
life must go on, that had always gone on, for what purpose no one could
tell, only it was the accepted way of disposing of time; and now there
were the dozen ways in which she was solicited to show her interest in
those supposed to be less fortunate in life than herself-the alleviation
of the miseries of her own city.  And with society, and charity, and
sympathy with the working classes, and her own reading, and a little
drawing and painting, for which she had some talent, what became of that
comradeship with Jack, that union of interests and affections, which was
to make her life altogether so high and sweet?

This reverie, which did not last many minutes, and was interrupted by the
abrupt moving away of Edith to the writing-desk in her own room, was
caused by a moment's vivid realization of what Jack's interests in life
were.  Could she possibly make them her own?  And if she did, what would
become of her own ideals?




III

It was indeed a busy day for Jack.  Great injustice would be done him if
it were supposed that he did not take himself and his occupations
seriously.  His mind was not disturbed by trifles.  He knew that he had
on the right sort of four-in-hand necktie, with the appropriate pin of
pear-shaped pearl, and that he carried the cane of the season.  These
things come by a sort of social instinct, are in the air, as it were, and
do not much tax the mind.  He had to hasten a little to keep his half-
past-eleven o'clock appointment at Stalker's stables, and when he arrived
several men of his set were already waiting, who were also busy men, and
had made a little effort to come round early and assist Jack in making up
his mind about the horse.

When Mr. Stalker brought out Storm, and led him around to show his
action, the connoisseurs took on a critical attitude, an attitude of
judgment, exhibited not less in the poise of the head and the serious
face than in the holding of the cane and the planting of legs wide apart.
And the attitude had a refined nonchalance which professional horsemen
scarcely ever attain.  Storm could not have received more critical and
serious attention if he had been a cooked terrapin.  He could afford to
stand this scrutiny, and he seemed to move about with the consciousness
that he knew more about being a horse than his judges.

Storm was, in fact, a splendid animal, instinct with life from his thin
flaring nostril to his small hoof; black as a raven, his highly groomed
skin took the polish of ebony, and showed the play of his powerful
muscles, and, one might say, almost the nervous currents that thrilled
his fine texture.  His large, bold eyes, though not wicked, flamed now
and then with an energy and excitement that gave ample notice that he
would obey no master who had not stronger will and nerve than his own.
It was a tribute to Jack's manliness that, when he mounted him for a turn
in the ring, Storm seemed to recognize the fine quality of both seat and
hand, and appeared willing to take him on probation.

"He's got good points," said Mr. Herbert Albert Flick, "but I'd like a
straighter back."

"I'll be hanged, though, Jack," was Mr. Mowbray Russell's comment, "if
I'd ride him in the Park before he's docked.  Say what you like about
action, a horse has got to have style."

"Moves easy, falls off a little too much to suit me in the quarter,"
suggested Mr. Pennington Docstater, sucking the head of his cane.
"How about his staying quality, Stalker?"

"That's just where he is, Mr. Docstater; take him on the road, he's a
stayer for all day.  Goes like a bird.  He'll take you along at the rate
of nine miles in forty-five minutes as long as you want to sit there."

"Jump?" queried little Bobby Simerton, whose strong suit at the club was
talking about meets and hunters.

"Never refused anything I put him at," replied Stalker; "takes every
fence as if it was the regular thing."

Storm was in this way entirely taken to pieces, praised and disparaged,
in a way to give Stalker, it might be inferred from his manner, a high
opinion of the knowledge of these young gentlemen.  "It takes a
gentleman," in fact, Stalker said, "to judge a hoss, for a good hoss is a
gentleman himself."  It was much discussed whether Storm would do better
for the Park or for the country, whether it would be better to put him in
the field or keep him for a roadster.  It might, indeed, be inferred that
Jack had not made up his mind whether he should buy a horse for use in
the Park or for country riding.  Even more than this might be inferred
from the long morning's work, and that was that while Jack's occupation
was to buy a horse, if he should buy one his occupation would be gone.
He was known at the club to be looking for the right sort of a horse, and
that he knew what he wanted, and was not easily satisfied; and as long as
he occupied this position he was an object of interest to sellers and to
his companions.

Perhaps Mr. Stalker understood this, for when the buyers had gone he
remarked to the stable-boy, "Mr. Delancy, he don't want to buy no hoss."

When the inspection of the horse was finished it was time for lunch, and
the labors of the morning were felt to justify this indulgence, though
each of the party had other engagements, and was too busy to waste the
time.  They went down to the Knickerbocker.

The lunch was slight, but its ordering took time and consideration, as it
ought, for nothing is so destructive of health and mental tone as the
snatching of a mid-day meal at a lunch counter from a bill of fare
prepared by God knows whom.  Mr. Russell said that if it took time to buy
a horse, it ought to take at least equal time and care to select the
fodder that was to make a human being wretched or happy.  Indeed, a man
who didn't give his mind to what he ate wouldn't have any mind by-and-by
to give to anything.  This sentiment had the assent of the table, and was
illustrated by varied personal experience; and a deep feeling prevailed,
a serious feeling, that in ordering and eating the right sort of lunch a
chief duty of a useful day had been discharged.

It must not be imagined from this, however, that the conversation was
about trifles.  Business men and operators could have learned something
about stocks and investments, and politicians about city politics.
Mademoiselle Vivienne, the new skirt dancer, might have been surprised at
the intimate tone in which she was alluded to, but she could have got
some useful hints in effects, for her judges were cosmopolitans who had
seen the most suggestive dancing in all parts of the world.  It came out
incidentally that every one at table had been "over" in the course of the

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