Paul Verville. Nascitur.
At a very remote period, when editorials were mostly devoted to discussion as to whether the Democratic Convention (shortly to be held in Chicago) would or would not declare in favor of bi-metallism; when golf was a novel form of recreation in America, and people disputed how to pronounce its name, and pedestrians still turned to stare after an automobile; when, according to the fashion notes, “the godet skirts and huge sleeves of the present modes” were already doomed to extinction; when the baseball season had just begun, and some of our people were discussing the national game, and others the spectacular burning of the old Pennsylvania Railway depot at Thirty-third and Market Street in Philadelphia, and yet others the significance of General Fitzhugh Lee’s recent appointment as consul-general to Habana:—at this remote time, Lichfield talked of nothing except the Pendomer divorce case.
And Colonel Rudolph Musgrave had very narrowly escaped being named as the co-respondent. This much, at least, all Lichfield knew when George Pendomer—evincing unsuspected funds of generosity—permitted his wife to secure a divorce on the euphemistic grounds of “desertion.” John Charteris, acting as Rudolph Musgrave’s friend, had patched up this arrangement; and the colonel and Mrs. Pendomer, so rumor ran, were to be married very quietly after a decent interval.
Remained only to deliberate whether this sop to the conventions should be accepted as sufficient.
“At least,” as Mrs. Ashmeade sagely observed, “we can combine vituperation with common-sense, and remember it is not the first time a Musgrave has figured in an entanglement of the sort. A lecherous race! proverbial flutterers of petticoats! His surname convicts the man unheard and almost excuses him. All of us feel that. And, moreover, it is not as if the idiots had committed any unpardonable sin, for they have kept out of the newspapers.”
Her friend seemed dubious, and hazarded something concerning “the merest sense of decency.”
“In the name of the Prophet, figs! People—I mean the people who count in Lichfield—are charitable enough to ignore almost any crime which is just a matter of common knowledge. In fact, they are mildly grateful. It gives them something to talk about. But when detraction is printed in the morning paper you can’t overlook it without incurring the suspicion of being illiterate and virtueless. That’s Lichfield.”
“Sophist, don’t I know my Lichfield? I know it almost as well as I know Rudolph Musgrave. And so I prophesy that he will not marry Clarice Pendomer, because he is inevitably tired of her by this. He will marry money, just as all the Musgraves do. Moreover, I prophesy that we will gabble about this mess until we find a newer target for our stone throwing, and be just as friendly with the participants to their faces as we ever were. So don’t let me hear any idiotic talk about whether or no I am going to receive her—”