List Of Contents | Contents of The Golden House, by Charles Dudley Warner
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he remembered another face as sweet as hers, and ideals, faint and long
ago, that were once mixed with his ideas of success.  At any rate, it was
with an accent of increased deference, and with a look she had not seen
in his face before, that he said:

"People get tired of everything.  I'm not sure but it would interest me
to see for a minute how the world looks through your eyes."  And then he
added, in a different tone, "As to your East Side, Mrs. Henderson tried
that some years ago."

"Wasn't she interested?"

"Oh, very much.  For a time.  But she said there was too much of it."
And Edith could detect no tone of sarcasm in the remark.

Down at the other end of the table, matters were going very smoothly.
Jack was charmed with his hostess.  That clever woman had felt her way
along from the heresy trial, through Tuxedo and the Independent Theatre
and the Horse Show, until they were launched in a perfectly free
conversation, and Carmen knew that she hadn't to look out for thin ice.

"Were you thinking of going on to the Conventional Club tonight, Mr.
Delancy?" she was saying.

"I don't belong," said Jack.  "Mrs. Delancy said she didn't care for it."

"Oh, I don't care for it, for myself," replied Carmen.

"I do," struck in Miss Tavish.  "It's awfully nice."

"Yes, it does seem to fill a want.  Why, what do you do with your
evenings, Mr. Delancy?"

"Well, here's one of them."

"Yes, I know, but I mean between twelve o'clock and bedtime."

"Oh," said Jack, laughing out loud, "I go to bed--sometimes."

"Yes, 'there's always that.  But you want some place to go to after the
theatres and the dinners; after the other places are shut up you want to
go somewhere and be amused."

"Yes," said Jack, falling in, "it is a fact that there are not many
places of amusement for the rich; I understand.  After the theatres you
want to be amused.  This Conventional Club is--"

"I tell you what it is.  It's a sort of Midnight Mission for the rich.
They never have had anything of the kind in the city."

"And it's very nice," said Miss Tavish, demurely.

The performers are selected.  You can see things there that you want to
see at other places to which you can't go.  And everybody you know is

"Oh, I see," said Jack.  "It's what the Independent Theatre is trying to
do, and what all the theatrical people say needs to be done, to elevate
the character of the audiences, and then the managers can give better

"That's just it.  We want to elevate the stage," Carmen explained.

"But," continued Jack, "it seems to me that now the audience is select
and elevated, it wants to see the same sort of things it liked to see
before it was elevated."

"You may laugh, Mr. Delancy," replied Carmen, throwing an earnest
simplicity into her eyes, "but why shouldn't women know what is going on
as well as men?"

"And why," Miss Tavish asked, "will the serpentine dances and the London
topical songs do any more harm to women than to men?"

"And besides, Mr. Delancy," Carmen said, chiming in, "isn't it just as
proper that women should see women dance and throw somersaults on the
stage as that men should see them?  And then, you know, women are such a
restraining influence."

"I hadn't thought of that," said Jack.  "I thought the Conventional was
for the benefit of the audience, not for the salvation of the

"It's both.  It's life.  Don't you think women ought to know life?  How
are they to take their place in the world unless they know life as men
know it?"

"I'm sure I don't know whose place they are to take, the serpentine
dancer's or mine," said Jack, as if he were studying a problem.  "How
does your experiment get on, Miss Tavish?"

Carmen looked up quickly.

"Oh, I haven't any experiment," said Miss Tavish, shaking her head.
"It's just Mr. Delancy's nonsense."

"I wish I had an experiment.  There is so little for women to do.  I wish
I knew what was right."  And Carmen looked mournfully demure, as if life,
after all, were a serious thing with her.

"Whatever Mrs. Henderson does is sure to be right," said Jack, gallantly.

Carmen shot at him a quick sympathetic glance, tempered by a grateful
smile.  "There are so many points of view."

Jack felt the force of the remark as he did the revealing glance.  And he
had a swift vision of Miss Tavish leading him a serpentine dance, and of
Carmen sweetly beckoning him to a pleasant point of view.  After all it
doesn't much matter.  Everything is in the point of view.

After dinner and cigars and cigarettes in the library, the talk dragged a
little in duets.  The dinner had been charming, the house was lovely, the
company was most agreeable.  All said that.  It had been so somewhere
else the night before that, and would be the next night.  And the ennui
of it all!  No one expressed it, but Henderson could not help looking it,
and Carmen saw it.  That charming hostess had been devoting herself to
Edith since dinner.  She was so full of sympathy with the East-Side work,
asked a hundred questions about it, and declared that she must take it up
again.  She would order a cage of canaries from that poor German for her
kitchen.  It was such a beautiful idea.  But Edith did not believe in her
one bit.  She told Jack afterwards that "Mrs. Henderson cares no more for
the poor of New York than she does for--"

"Henderson?" suggested Jack.

"Oh, I don't know anything about that.  Henderson has only one idea--to
get the better of everybody, and be the money king of New York.  But I
should not wonder if he had once a soft spot in his heart.  He is better
than she is."

It was still early, lacked half an hour of midnight, and the night was
before them.  Some one proposed the Conventional.  "Yes," said Carmen;
"all come to our box."  The Van Dams would go, Miss Tavish, the Chesneys;
the suggestion was a relief to everybody.  Only Mr. Henderson pleaded
important papers that must have his attention that night.  Edith said
that she was too tired, but that her desertion must not break up the

"Then you will excuse me also," said Jack, a little shade of
disappointment in his face.

"No, no," said Edith, quickly; "you can drop me on the way.  Go, by all
means, Jack."

"Do you really want me to go, dear?" said Jack, aside.

"Why of course; I want you to be happy."

And Jack recalled the loving look that accompanied these words, later on,
as he sat in the Henderson box at the Conventional, between Carmen and
Miss Tavish, and saw, through the slight haze of smoke, beyond the
orchestra, the praiseworthy efforts of the Montana Kicker, who had just
returned with the imprimatur of Paris, to relieve the ennui of the modern

The complex affair we call the world requires a great variety of people
to keep it going.  At one o'clock in the morning Carmen and our friend
Mr. Delancy and Miss Tavish were doing their part.  Edith lay awake
listening for Jack's return.  And in an alley off Rivington Street a
young girl, pretty once, unknown to fortune but not to fame, was about to
render the last service she could to the world by leaving it.

The impartial historian scarcely knows how to distribute his pathos.
By the electric light (and that is the modern light) gayety is almost as
pathetic as suffering.  Before the Montana girl hit upon the happy device
that gave her notoriety, her feet, whose every twinkle now was worth a
gold eagle, had trod a thorny path.  There was a fortune now in the whirl
of her illusory robes, but any day--such are the whims of fashion--she
might be wandering again, sick at heart, about the great city, knocking
at the side doors of variety shows for any engagement that would give her
a pittance of a few dollars a week.  How long had Carmen waited on the
social outskirts; and now she had come into her kingdom, was she anything
but a tinsel queen?  Even Henderson, the great Henderson, did the friends
of his youth respect him? had he public esteem?  Carmen used to cut out
the newspaper paragraphs that extolled Henderson's domestic virtue and
his generosity to his family, and show them to her lord, with a queer
smile on her face.  Miss Tavish, in the nervous consciousness of fleeting
years, was she not still waiting, dashing here and there like a bird in a
net for the sort of freedom, audacious as she was, that seemed denied
her?  She was still beautiful, everybody said, and she was sought and
flattered, because she was always merry and good-natured.  Why should Van
Dam, speaking of women, say that there were horses that had been set up,
and checked up and trained, that held their heads in an aristocratic
fashion, moved elegantly, and showed style, long after the spirit had
gone out of them?  And Jack himself, happily married, with a comfortable
income, why was life getting flat to him?  What sort of career was it
that needed the aid of Carmen and the serpentine dancer?  And why not,
since it is absolutely necessary that the world should be amused?

We are in no other world when we enter the mean tenement in the alley off
Rivington Street.  Here also is the life of the town.  The room is small,
but it contains a cook-stove, a chest of drawers, a small table, a couple
of chairs, and two narrow beds.  On the top of the chest are a looking-
glass, some toilet articles, and bottles of medicine.  The cracked walls
are bare and not clean.  In one of the beds are two children, sleeping
soundly, and on the foot of it is a middle-aged woman, in a soiled woolen
gown with a thin figured shawl drawn about her shoulders, a dirty cap
half concealing her frowzy hair; she looks tired and worn and sleepy.
On the other bed lies a girl of twenty years, a woman in experience.
The kerosene lamp on the stand at the head of the bed casts a spectral
light on her flushed face, and the thin arms that are restlessly thrown
outside the cover.  By the bedside sits the doctor, patient, silent, and
watchful.  The doctor puts her hand caressingly on that of the girl.
It is hot and dry.  The girl opens her eyes with a startled look, and
says, feebly:

"Do you think he will come?"

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