It has long been the custom of the North German Lloyd
steamers, which convey passengers from
The process of inquiry had already begun for him, in spite
of his having as yet spoken to none of his fellow-passengers; the case being
that Vogelstein inquired not only with his tongue, but with his eyes--that is
with his spectacles--with his ears, with his nose, with his palate, with all
his senses and organs. He was a highly
upright young man, whose only fault was that his sense of comedy, or of the humour of things, had never been specifically disengaged
from his several other senses. He
vaguely felt that something should be done about this, and in a general manner
proposed to do it, for he was on his way to explore a society abounding in
comic aspects. This consciousness of a missing measure gave him a certain
mistrust of what might be said of him; and if circumspection is the essence of
diplomacy our young aspirant promised well.
His mind contained several millions of facts, packed too closely
together for the light breeze of the imagination to draw through the mass. He was impatient to report himself to his
Count Vogelstein was still young enough in diplomacy to
think it necessary to have opinions. He
had a good many indeed which had been formed without difficulty; they had been
received ready-made from a line of ancestors who knew what they liked. This was of course--and under pressure, being
candid, he would have admitted it --an unscientific way of furnishing one's
mind. Our young man was a stiff conservative,
a Junker of Junkers; he thought modern democracy a temporary phase and expected
to find many arguments against it in the great Republic. In regard to these things it was a pleasure
to him to feel that, with his complete training, he had been taught thoroughly
to appreciate the nature of evidence.
The ship was heavily laden with German emigrants, whose mission in the
The passengers who came on board at Southampton were not of
the greasy class; they were for the most part American families who had been
spending the summer, or a longer period, in
At last the ship began to creak and slowly bridge, and the delay at
It still wanted two hours of dinner, and by the time
Vogelstein's long legs had measured three or four miles on the deck he was
ready to settle himself in his sea-chair and draw from his pocket a Tauchnitz novel by an American author whose pages, he had
been assured, would help to prepare him for some of the oddities. On the back of his chair his name was painted
in rather large letters, this being a precaution taken at the recommendation of
a friend who had told him that on the American steamers the
passengers--especially the ladies--thought nothing of pilfering one's little
comforts. His friend had even hinted at
the correct reproduction of his coronet. This marked man of the world had added
that the Americans are greatly impressed by a coronet. I know not whether it was scepticism
or modesty, but Count Vogelstein had omitted every pictured plea for his rank;
there were others of which he might have made use. The precious piece of furniture which on the
Atlantic voyage is trusted never to flinch among universal concussions was
emblazoned simply with his title and name.
It happened, however, that the blazonry was huge; the back of the chair
was covered with enormous German characters.
This time there can be no doubt:
it was modesty that caused the secretary of legation, in placing
himself, to turn this portion of his seat outward, away from the eyes of his
companions--to present it to the balustrade of the deck. The ship was passing
the Needles--the beautiful uttermost point of the
This was not in itself an extraordinary phenomenon; but what
attracted Vogelstein's attention was the fact that the young person appeared to
have fixed her eyes on him. She was
slim, brightly dressed, rather pretty; Vogelstein remembered in a moment that
he had noticed her among the people on the wharf at
"I'm much obliged to you. That's all right," she remarked as if the discovery had made her very happy.
It affected him indeed as all right that he should be Count Otto Vogelstein; this appeared even rather a flippant mode of disposing of the fact. By way of rejoinder he asked her if she desired of him the surrender of his seat.
"I'm much obliged to you; of course not. I thought you had one of our chairs, and I didn't like to ask you. It looks exactly like one of ours; not so much now as when you sit in it. Please sit down again. I don't want to trouble you. We've lost one of ours, and I've been looking for it everywhere. They look so much alike; you can't tell till you see the back. Of course I see there will be no mistake about yours," the young lady went on with a smile of which the serenity matched her other abundance. "But we've got such a small name--you can scarcely see it," she added with the same friendly intention. "Our name's just Day--you mightn't think it WAS a name, might you? if we didn't make the most of it. If you see that on anything, I'd be so obliged if you'd tell me. It isn't for myself, it's for my mother; she's so dependent on her chair, and that one I'm looking for pulls out so beautifully. Now that you sit down again and hide the lower part it does look just like ours. Well, it must be somewhere. You must excuse me; I wouldn't disturb you."
This was a long and even confidential speech for a young woman, presumably unmarried, to make to a perfect stranger; but Miss Day acquitted herself of it with perfect simplicity and self-possession. She held up her head and stepped away, and Vogelstein could see that the foot she pressed upon the clean smooth deck was slender and shapely. He watched her disappear through the trap by which she had ascended, and he felt more than ever like the young man in his American tale. The girl in the present case was older and not so pretty, as he could easily judge, for the image of her smiling eyes and speaking lips still hovered before him. He went back to his book with the feeling that it would give him some information about her. This was rather illogical, but it indicated a certain amount of curiosity on the part of Count Vogelstein. The girl in the book had a mother, it appeared, and so had this young lady; the former had also a brother, and he now remembered that he had noticed a young man on the wharf--a young man in a high hat and a white overcoat--who seemed united to Miss Day by this natural tie. And there was some one else too, as he gradually recollected, an older man, also in a high hat, but in a black overcoat--in black altogether--who completed the group and who was presumably the head of the family. These reflexions would indicate that Count Vogelstein read his volume of Tauchnitz rather interruptedly. Moreover they represented but the loosest economy of consciousness; for wasn't he to be afloat in an oblong box for ten days with such people, and could it be doubted he should see at least enough of them?
It may as well be written without delay that he saw a great deal of them. I have sketched in some detail the conditions in which he made the acquaintance of Miss Day, because the event had a certain importance for this fair square Teuton; but I must pass briefly over the incidents that immediately followed it. He wondered what it was open to him, after such an introduction, to do in relation to her, and he determined he would push through his American tale and discover what the hero did. But he satisfied himself in a very short time that Miss Day had nothing in common with the heroine of that work save certain signs of habitat and climate--and save, further, the fact that the male sex wasn't terrible to her. The local stamp sharply, as he gathered, impressed upon her he estimated indeed rather in a borrowed than in a natural light, for if she was native to a small town in the interior of the American continent one of their fellow-passengers, a lady from New York with whom he had a good deal of conversation, pronounced her "atrociously" provincial. How the lady arrived at this certitude didn't appear, for Vogelstein observed that she held no communication with the girl. It was true she gave it the support of her laying down that certain Americans could tell immediately who other Americans were, leaving him to judge whether or no she herself belonged to the critical or only to the criticised half of the nation. Mrs. Dangerfield was a handsome confidential insinuating woman, with whom Vogelstein felt his talk take a very wide range indeed. She convinced him rather effectually that even in a great democracy there are human differences, and that American life was full of social distinctions, of delicate shades, which foreigners often lack the intelligence to perceive. Did he suppose every one knew every one else in the biggest country in the world, and that one wasn't as free to choose one's company there as in the most monarchical and most exclusive societies? She laughed such delusions to scorn as Vogelstein tucked her beautiful furred coverlet--they reclined together a great deal in their elongated chairs--well over her feet. How free an American lady was to choose her company she abundantly proved by not knowing any one on the steamer but Count Otto.
He could see for himself that Mr. and Mrs. Day had not at all her grand air. They were fat plain serious people who sat side by side on the deck for hours and looked straight before them. Mrs. Day had a white face, large cheeks and small eyes: her forehead was surrounded with a multitude of little tight black curls; her lips moved as if she had always a lozenge in her mouth. She wore entwined about her head an article which Mrs. Dangerfield spoke of as a "nuby," a knitted pink scarf concealing her hair, encircling her neck and having among its convolutions a hole for her perfectly expressionless face. Her hands were folded on her stomach, and in her still, swathed figure her little bead-like eyes, which occasionally changed their direction, alone represented life. Her husband had a stiff grey beard on his chin and a bare spacious upper lip, to which constant shaving had imparted a hard glaze. His eyebrows were thick and his nostrils wide, and when he was uncovered, in the saloon, it was visible that his grizzled hair was dense and perpendicular. He might have looked rather grim and truculent hadn't it been for the mild familiar accommodating gaze with which his large light-coloured pupils--the leisurely eyes of a silent man--appeared to consider surrounding objects. He was evidently more friendly than fierce, but he was more diffident than friendly. He liked to have you in sight, but wouldn't have pretended to understand you much or to classify you, and would have been sorry it should put you under an obligation. He and his wife spoke sometimes, but seldom talked, and there was something vague and patient in them, as if they had become victims of a wrought spell. The spell however was of no sinister cast; it was the fascination of prosperity, the confidence of security, which sometimes makes people arrogant, but which had had such a different effect on this simple satisfied pair, in whom further development of every kind appeared to have been happily arrested.
Mrs. Dangerfield made it known to Count Otto that every morning after breakfast, the hour at which he wrote his journal in his cabin, the old couple were guided upstairs and installed in their customary corner by Pandora. This she had learned to be the name of their elder daughter, and she was immensely amused by her discovery. "Pandora"--that was in the highest degree typical; it placed them in the social scale if other evidence had been wanting; you could tell that a girl was from the interior, the mysterious interior about which Vogelstein's imagination was now quite excited, when she had such a name as that. This young lady managed the whole family, even a little the small beflounced sister, who, with bold pretty innocent eyes, a torrent of fair silky hair, a crimson fez, such as is worn by male Turks, very much askew on top of it, and a way of galloping and straddling about the ship in any company she could pick up--she had long thin legs, very short skirts and stockings of every tint--was going home, in elegant French clothes, to resume an interrupted education. Pandora overlooked and directed her relatives; Vogelstein could see this for himself, could see she was very active and decided, that she had in a high degree the sentiment of responsibility, settling on the spot most of the questions that could come up for a family from the interior.
The voyage was remarkably fine, and day after day it was possible to sit there under the salt sky and feel one's self rounding the great curves of the globe. The long deck made a white spot in the sharp black circle of the ocean and in the intense sea-light, while the shadow of the smoke-streamers trembled on the familiar floor, the shoes of fellow-passengers, distinctive now, and in some cases irritating, passed and repassed, accompanied, in the air so tremendously "open," that rendered all voices weak and most remarks rather flat, by fragments of opinion on the run of the ship. Vogelstein by this time had finished his little American story and now definitely judged that Pandora Day was not at all like the heroine. She was of quite another type; much more serious and strenuous, and not at all keen, as he had supposed, about making the acquaintance of gentlemen. Her speaking to him that first afternoon had been, he was bound to believe, an incident without importance for herself; in spite of her having followed it up the next day by the remark, thrown at him as she passed, with a smile that was almost fraternal: "It's all right, sir! I've found that old chair." After this she hadn't spoken to him again and had scarcely looked at him. She read a great deal, and almost always French books, in fresh yellow paper; not the lighter forms of that literature, but a volume of Sainte-Beuve, of Renan or at the most, in the way of dissipation, of Alfred de Musset. She took frequent exercise and almost always walked alone, apparently not having made many friends on the ship and being without the resource of her parents, who, as has been related, never budged out of the cosy corner in which she planted them for the day.
Her brother was always in the smoking-room, where Vogelstein
observed him, in very tight clothes, his neck encircled with a collar like a
palisade. He had a sharp little face,
which was not disagreeable; he smoked enormous cigars and began his drinking
early in the day: but his appearance
gave no sign of these excesses. As
regards euchre and poker and the other distractions of the place he was guilty
of none. He evidently understood such
games in perfection, for he used to watch the players, and even at moments
impartially advise them; but Vogelstein never saw the cards in his hand. He was referred to as regards disputed points,
and his opinion carried the day. He took
little part in the conversation, usually much relaxed, that prevailed in the
smoking-room, but from time to time he made, in his soft flat youthful voice, a
remark which every one paused to listen to and which was greeted with roars of
laughter. Vogelstein, well as he knew
English, could rarely catch the joke; but he could see at least that these must
be choice specimens of that American humour admired
and practised by a whole continent and yet to be
rendered accessible to a trained diplomatist, clearly, but by some special and
incalculable revelation. The young man,
in his way, was very remarkable, for, as Vogelstein heard some one say once
after the laughter had subsided, he was only nineteen. If his sister didn't resemble the dreadful
little girl in the tale already mentioned, there was for Vogelstein at least an
analogy between young Mr. Day and a certain small brother--a candy-loving
Madison, Hamilton or Jefferson--who was, in the Tauchnitz
volume, attributed to that unfortunate maid.
This was what the little
The days were long, but the voyage was short, and it had
almost come to an end before Count Otto yielded to an attraction peculiar in
its nature and finally irresistible, and, in spite of Mrs. Dangerfield's
emphatic warning, sought occasion for a little continuous talk with Miss
Pandora. To mention that this impulse
took effect without mentioning sundry other of his current impressions with
which it had nothing to do is perhaps to violate proportion and give a false
idea; but to pass it by would be still more unjust. The Germans, as we know, are a transcendental
people, and there was at last an irresistible appeal for Vogelstein in this
quick bright silent girl who could smile and turn vocal in an instant, who
imparted a rare originality to the filial character, and whose profile was
delicate as she bent it over a volume which she cut as she read, or presented
it in musing attitudes, at the side of the ship, to the horizon they had left
behind. But he felt it to be a pity, as
regards a possible acquaintance with her, that her parents should be heavy
little burghers, that her brother should not correspond to his conception of a
young man of the upper class, and that her sister should be a Daisy Miller en herbe. Repeatedly
admonished by Mrs. Dangerfield, the young diplomatist was doubly careful as to
the relations he might form at the beginning of his sojourn in the
It would doubtless be too much to say that he feared being carried away by a passion for a young woman who was not strikingly beautiful and with whom he had talked, in all, but ten minutes. But, as we recognise, he went so far as to wish that the human belongings of a person whose high spirit appeared to have no taint either of fastness, as they said in England, or of subversive opinion, and whose mouth had charming lines, should not be a little more distinguished. There was an effect of drollery in her behaviour to these subjects of her zeal, whom she seemed to regard as a care, but not as an interest; it was as if they had been entrusted to her honour and she had engaged to convey them safe to a certain point; she was detached and inadvertent, and then suddenly remembered, repented and came back to tuck them into their blankets, to alter the position of her mother's umbrella, to tell them something about the run of the ship. These little offices were usually performed deftly, rapidly, with the minimum of words, and when their daughter drew near them Mr. and Mrs. Day closed their eyes after the fashion of a pair of household dogs who expect to be scratched.
One morning she brought up the Captain of the ship to present to them; she appeared to have a private and independent acquaintance with this officer, and the introduction to her parents had the air of a sudden happy thought. It wasn't so much an introduction as an exhibition, as if she were saying to him: "This is what they look like; see how comfortable I make them. Aren't they rather queer and rather dear little people? But they leave me perfectly free. Oh I can assure you of that. Besides, you must see it for yourself." Mr. and Mrs. Day looked up at the high functionary who thus unbent to them with very little change of countenance; then looked at each other in the same way. He saluted, he inclined himself a moment; but Pandora shook her head, she seemed to be answering for them; she made little gestures as if in explanation to the good Captain of some of their peculiarities, as for instance that he needn't expect them to speak. They closed their eyes at last; she appeared to have a kind of mesmeric influence on them, and Miss Day walked away with the important friend, who treated her with evident consideration, bowing very low, for all his importance, when the two presently after separated. Vogelstein could see she was capable of making an impression; and the moral of our little matter is that in spite of Mrs. Dangerfield, in spite of the resolutions of his prudence, in spite of the limits of such acquaintance as he had momentarily made with her, in spite of Mr. and Mrs. Day and the young man in the smoking-room, she had fixed his attention.
It was in the course of the evening after the scene with the Captain that he joined her, awkwardly, abruptly, irresistibly, on the deck, where she was pacing to and fro alone, the hour being auspiciously mild and the stars remarkably fine. There were scattered talkers and smokers and couples, unrecognisable, that moved quickly through the gloom. The vessel dipped with long regular pulsations; vague and spectral under the low stars, its swaying pinnacles spotted here and there with lights, it seemed to rush through the darkness faster than by day. Count Otto had come up to walk, and as the girl brushed past him he distinguished Pandora's face--with Mrs. Dangerfield he always spoke of her as Pandora--under the veil worn to protect it from the sea-damp. He stopped, turned, hurried after her, threw away his cigar--then asked her if she would do him the honour to accept his arm. She declined his arm but accepted his company, and he allowed her to enjoy it for an hour. They had a great deal of talk, and he was to remember afterwards some of the things she had said. There was now a certainty of the ship's getting into dock the next morning but one, and this prospect afforded an obvious topic. Some of Miss Day's expressions struck him as singular, but of course, as he was aware, his knowledge of English was not nice enough to give him a perfect measure.
"I'm not in a hurry to arrive; I'm very happy here," she said. "I'm afraid I shall have such a time putting my people through."
"Putting them through?"
"Through the Custom-House. We've made so many purchases. Well, I've written to a friend to come down,
and perhaps he can help us. He's very well acquainted with the head. Once I'm chalked I don't care. I feel like a kind of blackboard by this time
anyway. We found them awful in
Count Otto wondered if the friend she had written to were
her lover and if they had plighted their troth, especially when she alluded to
him again as "that gentleman who's coming down." He asked her about her travels, her
impressions, whether she had been long in
"Ah, you're going to live elsewhere?" Vogelstein asked, as if that fact too would be typical.
"Well, I'm working for
"Well no, I guess I can't have you call
"What's her social position?" he inquired of Mrs. Dangerfield the next day. "I can't make it out at all--it's so contradictory. She strikes me as having much cultivation and much spirit. Her appearance, too, is very neat. Yet her parents are complete little burghers. That's easily seen."
"Oh, social position," and Mrs. Dangerfield nodded
two or three times portentously.
"What big expressions you use!
Do you think everybody in the world has a social position? That's reserved for an infinitely small
majority of mankind. You can't have a
social position at
"Well," said Vogelstein, "if she's of the lower class it seems to me very--very--" And he paused a moment, as he often paused in speaking English, looking for his word.
"Very what, dear Count?"
"Very significant, very representative."
"Oh dear, she isn't of the lower class," Mrs. Dangerfield returned with an irritated sense of wasted wisdom. She liked to explain her country, but that somehow always required two persons.
"What is she then?"
"Well, I'm bound to admit that since I was at home last she's a novelty. A girl like that with such people--it IS a new type."
"I like novelties"--and Count Otto smiled with an
air of considerable resolution. He
couldn't however be satisfied with a demonstration that only begged the
question; and when they disembarked in New York he felt, even amid the
confusion of the wharf and the heaps of disembowelled
baggage, a certain acuteness of regret at the idea that Pandora and her family
were about to vanish into the unknown.
He had a consolation however: it
was apparent that for some reason or other--illness or absence from town--the
gentleman to whom she had written had not, as she said, come down. Vogelstein
was glad--he couldn't have told you why--that this sympathetic person had
failed her; even though without him Pandora had to engage single-handed with
the United States Custom-House. Our young man's first impression of the Western
world was received on the landing-place of the German steamers at
He was diverted from these speculations by the sight of Mr. and Mrs. Day seated side by side upon a trunk and encompassed apparently by the accumulations of their tour. Their faces expressed more consciousness of surrounding objects than he had hitherto recognised, and there was an air of placid expansion in the mysterious couple which suggested that this consciousness was agreeable. Mr. and Mrs. Day were, as they would have said, real glad to get back. At a little distance, on the edge of the dock, our observer remarked their son, who had found a place where, between the sides of two big ships, he could see the ferry-boats pass; the large pyramidal low-laden ferry-boats of American waters. He stood there, patient and considering, with his small neat foot on a coil of rope, his back to everything that had been disembarked, his neck elongated in its polished cylinder, while the fragrance of his big cigar mingled with the odour of the rotting piles, and his little sister, beside him, hugged a huge post and tried to see how far she could crane over the water without falling in. Vogelstein's servant was off in search of an examiner; Count Otto himself had got his things together and was waiting to be released, fully expecting that for a person of his importance the ceremony would be brief.
Before it began he said a word to young Mr. Day, raising his hat at the same time to the little girl, whom he had not yet greeted and who dodged his salute by swinging herself boldly outward to the dangerous side of the pier. She was indeed still unformed, but was evidently as light as a feather.
"I see you're kept waiting like me. It's very tiresome," Count Otto said.
The young American answered without looking behind him. "As soon as we're started we'll go all right. My sister has written to a gentleman to come down."
"I've looked for Miss Day to bid her good-bye," Vogelstein went on; "but I don't see her."
"I guess she has gone to meet that gentleman; he's a great friend of hers."
"I guess he's her lover!" the little girl broke
out. "She was always writing to him
Her brother puffed his cigar in silence a moment. "That was only for this. I'll tell on you, sis," he presently added.
But the younger Miss Day gave no heed to his menace; she
addressed herself only, though with all freedom, to Vogelstein. "This is
He had no time to reply, for his servant had arrived with one of the dispensers of fortune; but as he turned away he wondered, in the light of the child's preference, about the towns of the interior. He was naturally exempt from the common doom. The officer who took him in hand, and who had a large straw hat and a diamond breastpin, was quite a man of the world, and in reply to the Count's formal declarations only said, "Well, I guess it's all right; I guess I'll just pass you," distributing chalk-marks as if they had been so many love-pats. The servant had done some superfluous unlocking and unbuckling, and while he closed the pieces the officer stood there wiping his forehead and conversing with Vogelstein. "First visit to our country, sir?--quite alone--no ladies? Of course the ladies are what we're most after." It was in this manner he expressed himself, while the young diplomatist wondered what he was waiting for and whether he ought to slip something into his palm. But this representative of order left our friend only a moment in suspense; he presently turned away with the remark quite paternally uttered, that he hoped the Count would make quite a stay; upon which the young man saw how wrong he should have been to offer a tip. It was simply the American manner, which had a finish of its own after all. Vogelstein's servant had secured a porter with a truck, and he was about to leave the place when he saw Pandora Day dart out of the crowd and address herself with much eagerness to the functionary who had just liberated him. She had an open letter in her hand which she gave him to read and over which he cast his eyes, thoughtfully stroking his beard. Then she led him away to where her parents sat on their luggage. Count Otto sent off his servant with the porter and followed Pandora, to whom he really wished to address a word of farewell. The last thing they had said to each other on the ship was that they should meet again on shore. It seemed improbable however that the meeting would occur anywhere but just here on the dock; inasmuch as Pandora was decidedly not in society, where Vogelstein would be of course, and as, if Utica--he had her sharp little sister's word for it--was worse than what was about him there, he'd be hanged if he'd go to Utica. He overtook Pandora quickly; she was in the act of introducing the representative of order to her parents, quite in the same manner in which she had introduced the Captain of the ship. Mr. and Mrs. Day got up and shook hands with him and they evidently all prepared to have a little talk. "I should like to introduce you to my brother and sister," he heard the girl say, and he saw her look about for these appendages. He caught her eye as she did so, and advanced with his hand outstretched, reflecting the while that evidently the Americans, whom he had always heard described as silent and practical, rejoiced to extravagance in the social graces. They dawdled and chattered like so many Neapolitans.
"Good-bye, Count Vogelstein," said Pandora, who was a little flushed with her various exertions but didn't look the worse for it. "I hope you'll have a splendid time and appreciate our country."
"I hope you'll get through all right," Vogelstein answered, smiling and feeling himself already more idiomatic.
"That gentleman's sick that I wrote to," she rejoined; "isn't it too bad? But he sent me down a letter to a friend of his--one of the examiners--and I guess we won't have any trouble. Mr. Lansing, let me make you acquainted with Count Vogelstein," she went on, presenting to her fellow-passenger the wearer of the straw hat and the breastpin, who shook hands with the young German as if he had never seen him before. Vogelstein's heart rose for an instant to his throat; he thanked his stars he hadn't offered a tip to the friend of a gentleman who had often been mentioned to him and who had also been described by a member of Pandora's family as Pandora's lover.
"It's a case of ladies this time," Mr. Lansing remarked to him with a smile which seemed to confess surreptitiously, and as if neither party could be eager, to recognition.
"Well, Mr. Bellamy says you'll do anything for HIM," Pandora said, smiling very sweetly at Mr. Lansing. "We haven't got much; we've been gone only two years."
Mr. Lansing scratched his head a little behind, with a movement that sent his straw hat forward in the direction of his nose. "I don't know as I'd do anything for him that I wouldn't do for you," he responded with an equal geniality. "I guess you'd better open that one"--and he gave a little affectionate kick to one of the trunks.
"Oh mother, isn't he lovely? It's only your sea-things," Pandora cried, stooping over the coffer with the key in her hand.
"I don't know as I like showing them," Mrs. Day modestly murmured.
Vogelstein made his German salutation to the company in general, and to Pandora he offered an audible good-bye, which she returned in a bright friendly voice, but without looking round as she fumbled at the lock of her trunk.
"We'll try another, if you like," said Mr. Lansing good-humouredly.
"Oh no it has got to be this one! Good-bye, Count Vogelstein. I hope you'll judge us correctly!"
The young man went his way and passed the barrier of the dock. Here he was met by his English valet with a face of consternation which led him to ask if a cab weren't forthcoming.
"They call 'em 'acks 'ere, sir," said the man, "and they're beyond everything. He wants thirty shillings to take you to the inn."
Vogelstein hesitated a moment. "Couldn't you find a German?"
"By the way he talks he IS a German said the man; and
in a moment Count Otto began his career in
He went wherever he was asked, on principle, partly to study
American society and partly because in
Mrs. Bonnycastle had endeavoured more than once to explain to him the principles
on which she received certain people and ignored certain others; but it was
with difficulty that he entered into her discriminations. American promiscuity, goodness knew, had been
strange to him, but it was nothing to the queerness of American criticism. This lady would discourse to him a perte de vue on differences where
he only saw resemblances, and both the merits and the defects of a good many
members of Washington society, as this society was interpreted to him by Mrs. Bonnycastle, he was often at a loss to understand. Fortunately she had a fund of good humour which, as I have intimated, was apt to come
uppermost with the April blossoms and which made the people she didn't invite
to her house almost as amusing to her as those she did. Her husband was not in politics, though
politics were much in him; but the couple had taken upon themselves the
responsibilities of an active patriotism; they thought it right to live in
America, differing therein from many of their acquaintances who only, with some
grimness, thought it inevitable. They
had that burdensome heritage of foreign reminiscence with which so many Americans
were saddled; but they carried it more easily than most of their
country-people, and one knew they had lived in
This was Mrs. Bonnycastle's
carnival, and on the occasion to which I began my chapter by referring the
President had not only been invited but had signified his intention of being
present. I hasten to add that this was
not the same august ruler to whom Alfred Bonnycastle's
irreverent allusion had been made. The
White House had received a new tenant--the old one was then just leaving
it--and Count Otto had had the advantage, during the first eighteen months of
his stay in
The legislative session was over, but this made little
difference in the aspect of Mrs. Bonnycastle's rooms,
which even at the height of the congressional season could scarce be said to
overflow with the representatives of the people. They were garnished with an occasional
Senator, whose movements and utterances often appeared to be regarded with a
mixture of alarm and indulgence, as if they would be disappointing if they
weren't rather odd and yet might be dangerous if not carefully watched. Our young man had come to entertain a
kindness for these conscript fathers of invisible families, who had something
of the toga in the voluminous folds of their conversation, but were otherwise
rather bare and bald, with stony wrinkles in their faces, like busts and
statues of ancient law-givers. There
seemed to him something chill and exposed in their being at once so exalted and
so naked; there were frequent lonesome glances in their eyes, as if in the
social world their legislative consciousness longed for the warmth of a few
comfortable laws ready-made. Members of
the House were very rare, and when
"I've got three new girls," Mrs. Bonnycastle said. "You must talk to them all."
"All at once?" Vogelstein asked, reversing in fancy a position not at all unknown to him. He had so repeatedly heard himself addressed in even more than triple simultaneity.
"Oh no; you must have something different for each; you
can't get off that way. Haven't you
discovered that the American girl expects something especially adapted to
herself? It's very well for
"For Miss Day!"--and Vogelstein had a stare of intelligence. "Do you mean for Pandora?"
Mrs. Bonnycastle broke on her side into free amusement. "One would think you had been looking for her over the globe! So you know her already--and you call her by her pet name?"
"Oh no, I don't know her; that is I haven't seen her or
thought of her from that day to this. We
"Isn't she an American then?"
"Oh yes; she lives at
"In the interior of
"After all," said Count Otto, considering and a little disappointed, "the name's not so uncommon; it's perhaps another. But has she rather strange eyes, a little yellow, but very pretty, and a nose a little arched?"
"I can't tell you all that; I haven't seen her. She's staying with Mrs. Steuben. She only came a day or two ago, and Mrs. Steuben's to bring her. When she wrote to me to ask leave she told me what I tell you. They haven't come yet."
Vogelstein felt a quick hope that the subject of this
correspondence might indeed be the young lady he had parted from on the dock at
"What's the social position of Mrs. Steuben?" it occurred to him to ask while he meditated. He had an earnest artless literal way of putting such a question as that; you could see from it that he was very thorough.
Mrs. Bonnycastle met it, however,
but, with mocking laughter. "I'm
sure I don't know! What's your
own?"--and she left him to turn to her other guests, to several of whom
she repeated his question. Could they tell her what was the social position of
Mrs. Steuben? There was Count Vogelstein who wanted to know. He instantly became aware of course that he
oughtn't so to have expressed himself. Wasn't the lady's place in the scale
sufficiently indicated by Mrs. Bonnycastle's
acquaintance with her? Still there were
fine degrees, and he felt a little unduly snubbed. It was perfectly true, as he told his
hostess, that with the quick wave of new impressions that had rolled over him
after his arrival in America the image of Pandora was almost completely
effaced; he had seen innumerable things that were quite as remarkable in their
way as the heroine of the Donau, but at the touch of
the idea that he might see her and hear her again at any moment she became as
vivid in his mind as if they had parted the day before: he remembered the exact shade of the eyes he
had described to Mrs. Bonnycastle as yellow, the tone
of her voice when at the last she expressed the hope he might judge America
correctly. HAD he judged
He wandered into another room, and there, at the end of five
minutes, he was introduced by Mrs. Bonnycastle to one
of the young ladies of whom she had spoken.
This was a very intelligent girl who came from
On the next topic, however, there was no doubt about her
feelings. They talked about Washington as people talk only in the place itself,
revolving about the subject in widening and narrowing circles, perching
successively on its many branches, considering it from every point of
view. Our young man had been long enough
At last he heard it mentioned that the President had arrived, had been some half-hour in the house, and he went in search of the illustrious guest, whose whereabouts at Washington parties was never indicated by a cluster of courtiers. He made it a point, whenever he found himself in company with the President, to pay him his respects, and he had not been discouraged by the fact that there was no association of ideas in the eye of the great man as he put out his hand presidentially and said, "Happy to meet you, sir." Count Otto felt himself taken for a mere loyal subject, possibly for an office-seeker; and he used to reflect at such moments that the monarchical form had its merits it provided a line of heredity for the faculty of quick recognition. He had now some difficulty in finding the chief magistrate, and ended by learning that he was in the tea-room, a small apartment devoted to light refection near the entrance of the house. Here our young man presently perceived him seated on a sofa and in conversation with a lady. There were a number of people about the table, eating, drinking, talking; and the couple on the sofa, which was not near it but against the wall, in a shallow recess, looked a little withdrawn, as if they had sought seclusion and were disposed to profit by the diverted attention of the others. The President leaned back; his gloved hands, resting on either knee, made large white spots. He looked eminent, but he looked relaxed, and the lady beside him ministered freely and without scruple, it was clear, to this effect of his comfortably unbending. Vogelstein caught her voice as he approached. He heard her say "Well now, remember; I consider it a promise." She was beautifully dressed, in rose-colour; her hands were clasped in her lap and her eyes attached to the presidential profile.
"Well, madam, in that case it's about the fiftieth promise I've given to-day."
It was just as he heard these words, uttered by her
companion in reply, that Count Otto checked himself, turned away and pretended
to be looking for a cup of tea. It
wasn't usual to disturb the President, even simply to shake hands, when he was
sitting on a sofa with a lady, and the young secretary felt it in this case
less possible than ever to break the rule, for the lady on the sofa was none
other than Pandora Day. He had recognised her without her appearing to see him, and even
with half an eye, as they said, had taken in that she was now a person to be
reckoned with. She had an air of
elation, of success; she shone, to intensity, in her rose-coloured
dress; she was extracting promises from the ruler of fifty millions of
people. What an odd place to meet her,
her old shipmate thought, and how little one could tell, after all, in
"Why didn't you bring her with you?" Pandora benevolently asked.
"Well, she doesn't go out much. Then she has got her sister staying with
her--Mrs. Runkle, from
"She must be a very kind woman"--and there was a high mature competence in the way the girl sounded the note of approval.
"Well, I guess she isn't spoiled--yet."
"I should like very much to come and see her," said Pandora.
"Do come round. Couldn't you come some night?" the great man responded.
"Well, I'll come some time. And I shall remind you of your promise."
"All right. There's nothing like keeping it up. Well," said the President, "I must bid good-bye to these bright folks."
Vogelstein heard him rise from the sofa with his companion; after which he gave the pair time to pass out of the room before him. They did it with a certain impressive deliberation, people making way for the ruler of fifty millions and looking with a certain curiosity at the striking pink person at his side. When a little later he followed them across the hall, into one of the other rooms, he saw the host and hostess accompany the President to the door and two foreign ministers and a judge of the Supreme Court address themselves to Pandora Day. He resisted the impulse to join this circle: if he should speak to her at all he would somehow wish it to be in more privacy. She continued nevertheless to occupy him, and when Mrs. Bonnycastle came back from the hall he immediately approached her with an appeal. "I wish you'd tell me something more about that girl--that one opposite and in pink."
"The lovely Day--that's what they call her, I believe? I wanted you to talk with her."
"I find she is the one I've met. But she seems to be so different here. I can't make it out," said Count Otto.
There was something in his expression that again moved Mrs. Bonnycastle to mirth. "How we do puzzle you Europeans! You look quite bewildered."
"I'm sorry I look so--I try to hide it. But of course we're very simple. Let me ask then a simple earnest childlike question. Are her parents also in society?"
"Parents in society? D'ou tombez-vous? Did you ever hear of the parents of a triumphant girl in rose-colour, with a nose all her own, in society?"
"Is she then all alone?" he went on with a strain of melancholy in his voice.
Mrs. Bonnycastle launched at him all her laughter.
"You're too pathetic. Don't you know what she is? I supposed of course you knew."
"It's exactly what I'm asking you."
"Why she's the new type. It has only come up lately. They have had articles about it in the papers. That's the reason I told Mrs. Steuben to bring her."
"The new type? WHAT new type, Mrs. Bonnycastle?"
he returned pleadingly--so conscious was he that all types in
Her laughter checked her reply a moment, and by the time she
had recovered herself the young lady from
"Miss Day was watching him!" one of the foreign ministers exclaimed; "and we flattered ourselves that her attention was all with us."
"I mean before," said the girl, "while I was talking with the President."
At which the gentlemen began to laugh, one of them remarking that this was the way the absent were sacrificed, even the great; while another put on record that he hoped Vogelstein was duly flattered.
"Oh I was watching the President too," said Pandora. "I've got to watch HIM. He has promised me something."
"It must be the mission to
"I wish they would send you to my country," one of the foreign ministers suggested. "I'd immediately get recalled."
"Why perhaps in your country I wouldn't speak to you! It's only because you're here," the ex-heroine of the Donau returned with a gay familiarity which evidently ranked with her but as one of the arts of defence. "You'll see what mission it is when it comes out. But I'll speak to Count Vogelstein anywhere," she went on. "He's an older friend than any right here. I've known him in difficult days."
"Oh yes, on the great ocean," the young man smiled. "On the watery waste, in the tempest!"
"Oh I don't mean that so much; we had a beautiful
voyage and there wasn't any tempest. I
mean when I was living in
"Your parents seemed to me so peaceful!" her associate in the other memories sighed with a vague wish to say something sympathetic.
"Oh you haven't seen them ashore! At
Count Otto clung to his interest. "And I hope they're happy."
"My father and mother? Oh they will be, in time. I must give them time. They're very young yet, they've years before
them. And you've been always in
"Oh no--there are some things I CAN'T find out."
"Come and see me and perhaps I can help you. I'm very different from what I was in that phase. I've advanced a great deal since then."
"Oh how was Miss Day in that phase?" asked a cabinet minister of the last administration.
"She was delightful of course," Count Otto said.
"He's very flattering; I didn't open my mouth!"
Pandora cried. "Here comes Mrs. Steuben to take me to some other
place. I believe it's a literary party
near the Capitol. Everything seems so
This lady, arriving, signified to her young friend the
necessity of their moving on. But Miss
Day's companions had various things to say to her before giving her up. She had a vivid answer for each, and it was
brought home to Vogelstein while he listened that this would be indeed, in her
development, as she said, another phase. Daughter of small burghers as she
might be she was really brilliant. He turned away a little and while Mrs.
Steuben waited put her a question. He had made her half an hour before the
subject of that inquiry to which Mrs. Bonnycastle
returned so ambiguous an answer; but this wasn't because he failed of all direct
acquaintance with the amiable woman or of any general idea of the esteem in
which she was held. He had met her in
various places and had been at her house.
She was the widow of a commodore, was a handsome mild soft swaying
person, whom every one liked, with glossy bands of black hair and a little
ringlet depending behind each ear. Some
one had said that she looked like the vieux jeu, idea of the queen in Hamlet. She had written verses which were admired in
the South, wore a full-length portrait of the commodore on her bosom and spoke
with the accent of
"Do kindly tell me," he said, lowering his voice, "what's the type to which that young lady belongs? Mrs. Bonnycastle tells me it's a new one."
Mrs. Steuben for a moment fixed her liquid eyes on the secretary of legation. She always seemed to be translating the prose of your speech into the finer rhythms with which her own mind was familiar. "Do you think anything's really new?" she then began to flute. "I'm very fond of the old; you know that's a weakness of we Southerners." The poor lady, it will be observed, had another weakness as well. "What we often take to be the new is simply the old under some novel form. Were there not remarkable natures in the past? If you doubt it you should visit the South, where the past still lingers."
Vogelstein had been struck before this with Mrs. Steuben's pronunciation of the word by which her native latitudes were designated; transcribing it from her lips you would have written it (as the nearest approach) the Sooth. But at present he scarce heeded this peculiarity; he was wondering rather how a woman could be at once so copious and so uninforming. What did he care about the past or even about the Sooth? He was afraid of starting her again. He looked at her, discouraged and helpless, as bewildered almost as Mrs. Bonnycastle had found him half an hour before; looked also at the commodore, who, on her bosom, seemed to breathe again with his widow's respirations. "Call it an old type then if you like," he said in a moment. "All I want to know is what type it IS! It seems impossible," he gasped, "to find out."
"You can find out in the newspapers. They've had articles about it. They write about everything now. But it isn't true about Miss Day. It's one of the first families. Her great-grandfather was in the Revolution." Pandora by this time had given her attention again to Mrs. Steuben. She seemed to signify that she was ready to move on. "Wasn't your great-grandfather in the Revolution?" the elder lady asked. "I'm telling Count Vogelstein about him."
"Why are you asking about my ancestors?" the girl demanded of the young German with untempered brightness. "Is that the thing you said just now that you can't find out? Well, if Mrs. Steuben will only be quiet you never will."
Mrs. Steuben shook her head rather dreamily. "Well, it's no trouble for we of the Sooth to be quiet.
There's a kind of languor in our blood.
Besides, we have to be to-day.
But I've got to show some energy to-night. I've got to get you to the end of
Pandora gave her hand to Count Otto and asked him if he
thought they should meet again. He
answered that in
He remained at Mrs. Bonnycastle's after every one had gone, and then he informed this lady of his reason for waiting. Would she have mercy on him and let him know, in a single word, before he went to rest--for without it rest would be impossible--what was this famous type to which Pandora Day belonged?
"Gracious, you don't mean to say you've not found out that type yet!" Mrs. Bonnycastle exclaimed with a return of her hilarity. "What have you been doing all the evening? You Germans may be thorough, but you certainly are not quick!"
It was Alfred Bonnycastle who at last took pity on him. "My dear Vogelstein, she's the latest freshest fruit of our great American evolution. She's the self-made girl!"
Count Otto gazed a moment. "The fruit of the great American Revolution? Yes, Mrs. Steuben told me her great-grandfather--" but the rest of his sentence was lost in a renewed explosion of Mrs. Bonnycastle's sense of the ridiculous. He bravely pushed his advantage, such as it was, however, and, desiring his host's definition to be defined, inquired what the self-made girl might be.
"Sit down and we'll tell you all about it," Mrs. Bonnycastle said. "I like talking this way, after a party's over. You can smoke if you like, and Alfred will open another window. Well, to begin with, the self-made girl's a new feature. That, however, you know. In the second place she isn't self-made at all. We all help to make her--we take such an interest in her."
"That's only after she's made!" Alfred Bonnycastle broke in. "But it's Vogelstein that takes an interest. What on earth has started you up so on the subject of Miss Day?"
The visitor explained as well as he could that it was merely
the accident of his having crossed the ocean in the steamer with her; but he
felt the inadequacy of this account of the matter, felt it more than his hosts,
who could know neither how little actual contact he had had with her on the
ship, how much he had been affected by Mrs. Dangerfield's warnings, nor how
much observation at the same time he had lavished on her. He sat there half an hour, and the warm dead
stillness of the Washington night--nowhere are the nights so silent--came in at
the open window, mingled with a soft sweet earthy smell, the smell of growing
things and in particular, as he thought, of Mrs. Steuben's Sooth. Before he went away he had heard all about
the self-made girl, and there was something in the picture that strongly
impressed him. She was possible
doubtless only in
Count Otto called the next day, and Mrs. Steuben's blackamoor informed him, in the communicative manner of his
race, that the ladies had gone out to pay some visits and look at the Capitol.
Pandora apparently had not hitherto examined this monument, and our young man
wished he had known, the evening before, of her omission, so that he might have
offered to be her initiator. There is
too obvious a connexion for us to fail of catching it
between his regret and the fact that in leaving Mrs. Steuben's door he reminded
himself that he wanted a good walk, and that he thereupon took his way along
Throughout the hour he spent with her Vogelstein seemed to
see how it was she had made herself.
They walked about, afterwards on the splendid terrace that surrounds the
Capitol, the great marble floor on which it stands, and made vague
remarks--Pandora's were the most definite--about the yellow sheen of the
Potomac, the hazy hills of
They haunted him during the excursion to
Count Otto could joke a little on great occasions, and the present one was worthy of his humour. He maintained to his companion that the shallow painted mansion resembled a false house, a "wing" or structure of daubed canvas, on the stage; but she answered him so well with certain economical palaces she had seen in Germany, where, as she said, there was nothing but china stoves and stuffed birds, that he was obliged to allow the home of Washington to be after all really gemuthlich. What he found so in fact was the soft texture of the day, his personal situation, the sweetness of his suspense. For suspense had decidedly become his portion; he was under a charm that made him feel he was watching his own life and that his susceptibilities were beyond his control. It hung over him that things might take a turn, from one hour to the other, which would make them very different from what they had been yet; and his heart certainly beat a little faster as he wondered what that turn might be. Why did he come to picnics on fragrant April days with American girls who might lead him too far? Wouldn't such girls be glad to marry a Pomeranian count? And WOULD they, after all, talk that way to the Kaiser? If he were to marry one of them he should have to give her several thorough lessons.
In their little tour of the house our young friend and his
companion had had a great many fellow visitors, who had also arrived by the
steamer and who had hitherto not left them an ideal privacy. But the others gradually dispersed; they
circled about a kind of showman who was the authorised
guide, a big slow genial vulgar heavily-bearded man, with a whimsical edifying patronising tone, a tone that had immense success when he stopped
here and there to make his points--to pass his eyes over his listening flock,
then fix them quite above it with a meditative look and bring out some ancient
pleasantry as if it were a sudden inspiration.
He made a cheerful thing, an echo of the platform before the booth of a
country fair, even of a visit to the tomb of the pater
patriae. It is
enshrined in a kind of grotto in the grounds, and Vogelstein remarked to
Pandora that he was a good man for the place, but was too familiar. "Oh
he'd have been familiar with
"Well, I can if you can't," said Pandora. "I'd have talked quick enough if you had spoken to me. I spoke to you first."
"Yes, I remember that"--and it affected him awkwardly.
"You listened too much to Mrs. Dangerfield."
He feigned a vagueness. "To Mrs. Dangerfield?"
"That woman you were always sitting with; she told you
not to speak to me. I've seen her in
"Oh how can you say such dreadful things?" Count Otto cried with a very becoming blush.
"You know you can't deny it. You weren't attracted by my family. They're
charming people when you know them. I
don't have a better time anywhere than I have at home," the girl went on
loyally. "But what does it matter? My family are very
happy. They're getting quite used to
"You are unlike any Madchen I've ever seen--I don't understand you," said poor Vogelstein with the colour still in his face.
"Well, you never WILL understand me--probably; but what difference does it make?"
He attempted to tell her what difference, but I've no space to follow him here. It's known that when the German mind attempts to explain things it doesn't always reduce them to simplicity, and Pandora was first mystified, then amused, by some of the Count's revelations. At last I think she was a little frightened, for she remarked irrelevantly, with some decision, that luncheon would be ready and that they ought to join Mrs. Steuben. Her companion walked slowly, on purpose, as they left the house together, for he knew the pang of a vague sense that he was losing her.
"And shall you be in
"It will all depend. I'm expecting important news. What I shall do will be influenced by that."
The way she talked about expecting news--and important!--made him feel somehow that she had a career, that she was active and independent, so that he could scarcely hope to stop her as she passed. It was certainly true that he had never seen any girl like her. It would have occurred to him that the news she was expecting might have reference to the favour she had begged of the President, if he hadn't already made up his mind--in the calm of meditation after that talk with the Bonnycastles--that this favour must be a pleasantry. What she had said to him had a discouraging, a somewhat chilling effect; nevertheless it was not without a certain ardour that he inquired of her whether, so long as she stayed in Washington, he mightn't pay her certain respectful attentions.
"As many as you like--and as respectful ones; but you won't keep them up for ever!"
"You try to torment me," said Count Otto.
She waited to explain. "I mean that I may have some of my family."
"I shall be delighted to see them again."
Again she just hung fire. "There are some you've never seen."
In the afternoon, returning to
"There's one thing we forgot to tell you the other night about the self-made girl," said the lady of infinite mirth. "It's never safe to fix your affections on her, because she has almost always an impediment somewhere in the background."
He looked at her askance, but smiled and said: "I should understand your information--for which I'm so much obliged--a little better if I knew what you mean by an impediment."
"Oh I mean she's always engaged to some young man who belongs to her earlier phase."
"Her earlier phase?"
"The time before she had made
herself--when she lived unconscious of her powers. A young man from
Count Otto somehow preferred to understand as little as possible. "Do you mean a betrothal--to take effect?"
"I don't mean anything German and moonstruck. I mean that piece of peculiarly American enterprise a premature engagement--to take effect, but too complacently, at the end of time."
Vogelstein very properly reflected that it was no use his
having entered the diplomatic career if he weren't able to bear himself as if
this interesting generalisation had no particular
message for him. He did Mrs. Bonnycastle moreover the justice to believe that she
wouldn't have approached the question with such levity if she had supposed she
should make him wince. The whole thing
was, like everything else, but for her to laugh at, and the betrayal moreover
of a good intention. "I see, I
see--the self-made girl has of course always had a past. Yes, and the young
man in the store--from
"You express it perfectly," said Mrs. Bonnycastle. "I couldn't say it better myself."
"But with her present, with her future, when they
change like this young lady's, I suppose everything else changes. How do you say it in
"We don't say it at all!" Mrs. Bonnycastle cried. "She does nothing of the sort; for what do you take her? She sticks to him; that at least is what we EXPECT her to do," she added with less assurance. "As I tell you, the type's new and the case under consideration. We haven't yet had time for complete study."
"Oh of course I hope she sticks to him," Vogelstein declared simply and with his German accent more audible, as it always was when he was slightly agitated.
For the rest of the trip he was rather restless. He wandered about the boat, talking little
with the returning picnickers. Toward
the last, as they drew near
Mrs. Steuben turned her Southern eyes upon him with a look of almost romantic compassion. "To my knowledge? Why of course I'd know! I should think you'd know too. Didn't you know she was engaged? Why she has been engaged since she was sixteen."
Count Otto gazed at the dome of the Capitol. "To a gentleman from
"Yes, a native of her place. She's expecting him soon."
"I'm so very glad to hear it," said Vogelstein, who decidedly, for his career, had promise. "And is she going to marry him?"
"Why what do people fall in love with each other FOR? I presume they'll marry when she gets round to it. Ah if she had only been from the Sooth--!"
At this he broke quickly in: "But why have they never brought it off, as you say, in so many years?"
"Well, at first she was too young, and then she thought
her family ought to see
"Is his name Mr. Bellamy?" the Count asked with his haunting reminiscence. "D. F. Bellamy, so? And has he been in a store?"
"I don't know what kind of business it was: it was some kind of business in
Vogelstein assured Mrs. Steuben that he doubted nothing, and indeed what she told him was probably the more credible for seeming to him eminently strange. Bellamy had been the name of the gentleman who, a year and a half before, was to have met Pandora on the arrival of the German steamer; it was in Bellamy's name that she had addressed herself with such effusion to Bellamy's friend, the man in the straw hat who was about to fumble in her mother's old clothes. This was a fact that seemed to Count Otto to finish the picture of her contradictions; it wanted at present no touch to be complete. Yet even as it hung there before him it continued to fascinate him, and he stared at it, detached from surrounding things and feeling a little as if he had been pitched out of an overturned vehicle, till the boat bumped against one of the outstanding piles of the wharf at which Mrs. Steuben's party was to disembark. There was some delay in getting the steamer adjusted to the dock, during which the passengers watched the process over its side and extracted what entertainment they might from the appearance of the various persons collected to receive it. There were darkies and loafers and hackmen, and also vague individuals, the loosest and blankest he had ever seen anywhere, with tufts on their chins, toothpicks in their mouths, hands in their pockets, rumination in their jaws and diamond pins in their shirt-fronts, who looked as if they had sauntered over from Pennsylvania Avenue to while away half an hour, forsaking for that interval their various slanting postures in the porticoes of the hotels and the doorways of the saloons.
"Oh I'm so glad! How sweet of you to come down!" It was a voice close to Count Otto's shoulder that spoke these words, and he had no need to turn to see from whom it proceeded. It had been in his ears the greater part of the day, though, as he now perceived, without the fullest richness of expression of which it was capable. Still less was he obliged to turn to discover to whom it was addressed, for the few simple words I have quoted had been flung across the narrowing interval of water, and a gentleman who had stepped to the edge of the dock without our young man's observing him tossed back an immediate reply.
"I got here by the three o'clock train. They told me in
"Charming attention!" said Pandora Day with the laugh that seemed always to invite the whole of any company to partake in it; though for some moments after this she and her interlocutor appeared to continue the conversation only with their eyes. Meanwhile Vogelstein's also were not idle. He looked at her visitor from head to foot, and he was aware that she was quite unconscious of his own proximity. The gentleman before him was tall, good-looking, well-dressed; evidently he would stand well not only at Utica, but, judging from the way he had planted himself on the dock, in any position that circumstances might compel him to take up. He was about forty years old; he had a black moustache and he seemed to look at the world over some counter-like expanse on which he invited it all warily and pleasantly to put down first its idea of the terms of a transaction. He waved a gloved hand at Pandora as if, when she exclaimed "Gracious, ain't they long!" to urge her to be patient. She was patient several seconds and then asked him if he had any news. He looked at her briefly, in silence, smiling, after which he drew from his pocket a large letter with an official-looking seal and shook it jocosely above his head. This was discreetly, covertly done. No one but our young man appeared aware of how much was taking place--and poor Count Otto mainly felt it in the air. The boat was touching the wharf and the space between the pair inconsiderable.
"Department of State?" Pandora very prettily and soundlessly mouthed across at him.
"That's what they call it."
"Well, what country?"
"What's your opinion of the Dutch?" the gentleman asked for answer.
"Oh gracious!" cried Pandora.
"Well, are you going to wait for the return trip?" said the gentleman.
Our silent sufferer turned away, and presently Mrs. Steuben and her companion disembarked together. When this lady entered a carriage with Miss Day the gentleman who had spoken to the girl followed them; the others scattered, and Vogelstein, declining with thanks a "lift" from Mrs. Bonnycastle, walked home alone and in some intensity of meditation. Two days later he saw in a newspaper an announcement that the President had offered the post of Minister to Holland to Mr. D. F. Bellamy of Utica; and in the course of a month he heard from Mrs. Steuben that Pandora, a thousand other duties performed, had finally "got round" to the altar of her own nuptials. He communicated this news to Mrs. Bonnycastle, who had not heard it but who, shrieking at the queer face he showed her, met it with the remark that there was now ground for a new induction as to the self-made girl.