List Of Contents | Contents of The Golden House, by Charles Dudley Warner
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laughter at the idea.

"No, indeed.  Dear, you are just a goose, socially.  It is nothing to
you, but you don't understand what we women have to go through.  You
don't know how hard it is--that woman!"

"What has she done?"

"Nothing.  That's just it.  What do you say in the Street--freeze?  Well,
she is trying to freeze me out."

Henderson laughed again.  "Oh, I'll back you against the field."

"I don't want to be backed," said Carmen; "I want some sympathy."

"Well, what is your idea?"

"I was going to tell you.  Mr. Delancy dropped in this afternoon for a
cup of tea--"


"Yes, and he knows Mrs. Schuyler Blunt well; they are old friends, and he
is going to arrange it."

"Arrange what?"

"Why, smooth everything out, don't you know.  But, Rodney, I do want you
to do something for me; not for me exactly, but about this.  Won't you
look out for Mr. Delancy in this deal?"

"Seems to me you are a good deal interested in Jack Delancy," said
Henderson, in a sneering tone.  The remark was a mistake, for it gave
Carmen the advantage, and he did not believe it was just.  He knew that
Carmen was as passionless as a diamond, whatever even she might pretend
for a purpose.

"Aren't you ashamed!" she cried, with indignation, and her eyes flared
for an instant and then filled with tears.  "And I try so hard."

"But I can't look out for all the lame ducks."

"He isn't a duck," said Carmen, using her handkerchief; "I'd hate him for
a duck.  It's just to help me, when you know, when you know--and it is so
hard," and the tears came again.

Did Henderson believe?  After all, what did it matter?  Perhaps, after
all, the woman had a right to her game, as he had to his.

"Oh, well," he said, "don't take on about it.  I'll fix it.  I'll make a
memorandum this minute.  Only don't you bother me in the future with too
many private kites."

Carmen dried her eyes.  She did not look triumphant; she just looked
sweet and grateful, like a person who had been helped.  She went over and
kissed her lord on the forehead, and sat on the arm of his chair, not too
long, and then patted him on the shoulder, and said he was a good fellow,
and she was a little bother, and so went away like a dutiful little wife.

And Henderson sat looking into the fire and musing, with the feeling that
he had been at the theatre, and that the comedy had been beautifully

His part of the play was carried out next day in good faith.  One of the
secrets of Henderson's success was that he always did what he said he
would do.  This attracted men to him personally, and besides he found, as
Bismarck did, that it was more serviceable to him than lying, for the
crafty world usually banks upon insincerity and indirectness.  But while
he kept his word he also kept his schemes to himself, and executed them
with a single regard to his own interest and a Napoleonic selfishness.
He did not lie to enemy or friend, but he did not spare either when
either was in his way.  He knew how to appeal to the self-interest of his
fellows, and in time those who had most to do with him trusted him least
when he seemed most generous in his offers.

When, the next day, his secretary reported to him briefly that Delancy
was greatly elated with the turn things had taken for him, and was going
in again, Henderson smiled sardonically, and said, "It was the worst
thing I could have done for him."

Jack, who did not understand the irony of his temporary rescue, and had
little experience of commercial integrity, so called, was intent on
fulfilling his part of the understanding with Carmen.  This could best be
effected by a return dinner to the Hendersons.  The subject was broached
at breakfast in an off-hand manner to Edith.

It was not an agreeable subject to Edith, that was evident; but it was
not easy for her to raise objections to the dinner.  She had gone to the
Hendersons' to please Jack, in her policy of yielding in order to
influence him; but having accepted the hospitality, she could not object
to returning it.  The trouble was in making the list.

"I do not know," said Edith, "who are the Hendersons' friends."

"Oh, that doesn't matter.  Ask our friends.  If we are going to do a
thing to please them, no use in doing it half-way, so as to offend them,
by drawing social lines against them."

"Well, suggest."

"There's Mavick; he'll be over from Washington next week."

"That's good; and, oh, I'll ask Father Damon."

"Yes; he'll give a kind of flavor to it.  I shouldn't wonder if he would
like to meet such a man as Henderson."

"And then the Van Dams and Miss Tavish; they were at Henderson's, and
would help to make it easy."

"Yes; well, let's see.  The Schuyler Blunts?"

"Oh, they wouldn't do at all.  They wouldn't come.  She wouldn't think of
going to the Hendersons'."

"But she would come to us.  I don't think she would mind once in a way."

"But why do you want them?"

"I don't want them particularly; but it would no doubt please the
Hendersons more than any other thing we could do-and, well, I don't want
to offend Henderson just now.  It's a little thing, anyway.  What's the
use of all this social nonsense?  We are not responsible for either the
Hendersons or the Blunts being in the world.  No harm done if they don't
come.  You invite them, and I'll take the responsibility."

So it was settled, against Edith's instinct of propriety, and the dinner
was made up by the addition of the elder Miss Chesney.  And Jack did
persuade Mrs. Blunt to accept.  In fact, she had a little curiosity to
see the man whose name was in the newspapers more prominently than that
of the President.

It was a bright thought to secure Mr. Mavick.  Mr. Thomas Mavick was
socially one of the most desirable young men of the day.  Matrimonially
he was not a prize, for he was without fortune and without powerful
connections.  He had a position in the State Department.  Originally he
came from somewhere in the West, it was said, but he had early obtained
one or two minor diplomatic places; he had lived a good deal abroad;
he had traveled a little--a good deal, it would seem, from his occasional
Oriental allusions.  He threw over his past a slight mystery, not too
much; and he always took himself seriously.  His salary was sufficient to
set up a bachelor very comfortably who always dined out; he dressed in
the severity of the fashion; he belonged only to the best clubs, where he
unbent more than anywhere else; he was credited with knowing a good deal
more than he would tell.  It was believed, in fact, that he had a great
deal of influence.  The President had been known to send for him on
delicate personal business with regard to appointments, and there were
certain ticklish diplomatic transactions that he was known to have
managed most cleverly.  His friends could see his hand in state papers.
This he disclaimed, but he never denied that he knew the inside of
whatever was going on in Washington.  Even those who thought him a snob
said he was clever.  He had perfectly the diplomatic manner, and the
reserve of one charged with grave secrets.  Whatever he disclosed was
always in confidence, so that he had the reputation of being as discreet
as he was knowing.  With women he was of course a favorite, for he knew
how to be confidential without disclosing anything, and the hints he
dropped about persons in power simply showed that he was secretly
manoeuvring important affairs, and could make the most interesting
revelations if he chose.  His smile and the shake of his head at the club
when talk was personal conveyed a world of meaning.  Tom Mavick was, in
short, a most accomplished fellow.  It was evident that he carried on the
State Department, and the wonder to many was that he was not in a
position to do it openly.  His social prestige was as mysterious as his
diplomatic, but it was now unquestioned, and he might be considered as
one of the first of a class who are to reconcile social and political
life in this country.


Looking back upon this dinner of the Delancys, the student of human
affairs can see how Providence uses small means for the accomplishment of
its purposes.  Of all our social contrivances, the formal dinner is
probably the cause of more anxiety in the arrangement, of more weariness
in the performance, and usually of less satisfaction in the retrospect
than any other social function.  However carefully the guests are
selected, it lacks the spontaneity that gives intellectual zest to the
chance dining together of friends.  This Delancy party was made up for
reasons which are well understood, and it seemed to have been admirably
well selected; and yet the moment it assembled it was evident that it
could not be very brilliant or very enjoyable.  Doubtless you, madam,
would have arranged it differently, and not made it up of such
incongruous elements.

As a matter of fact, scarcely one of those present would not have had
more enjoyment somewhere else.  Father Damon, whose theory was that the
rich needed saving quite as much as the poor, would nevertheless have
been in better spirits sitting down to a collation with the working-women
in Clinton Place.  It was a good occasion for the cynical observation of
Mr. Mavick, but it was not a company that he could take in hand and
impress with his mysterious influence in public affairs.  Henderson was
not in the mood, and would have had much more ease over a chop and a
bottle of half-and-half with Uncle Jerry.  Carmen, socially triumphant,
would have been much more in her element at a petit souper of a not too
fastidious four.  Mrs. Schuyler Blunt was in the unaccustomed position of
having to maintain a not too familiar and not too distant line of
deportment.  Edith and Jack felt the responsibility of having put an
incongruous company on thin conventional ice.  It was only the easy-going
Miss Tavish and two or three others who carried along their own animal
spirits and love of amusement who enjoyed the chance of a possible

And yet the dinner was providentially arranged.  If these people had not

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