“He’s a swell,” said Peter Quick Banta. “Look at that face! I don’t care if he did crawl outa the gutter. I’m an artist and I reco’nize aristocracy when I see it. And I want him brung up accordin’.”
So I inducted the youngster into such modest groves of learning as an old, half-shelved pedagogue has access to, and when the Bonnie Lassie came to Our Square to make herself and us famous with her tiny bronzes (this was before she had captured, reformed, and married Cyrus the Gaunt), I took him to her and he fell boyishly and violently in love with her beauty and her genius alike, all of which was good for his developing soul. She arranged for his art training.
“But you know, Dominie,” she used to say, wagging her head like a profound and thoughtful bird; “this is all very foolish and shortsighted on my part. Five years from now that gutter-godling of yours will be doing work that will make people forget poor little me and my poor little figurines.”
To which I replied that even if it were true, instead of the veriest nonsense, about Julien Tenney or any one else ever eclipsing her, she would help him just the same!
But five years from then Julien had gone over to the Philistines.
Justly catalogued, Roberta Holland belonged to the idle rich. She would have objected to the latter classification, averring that, with the rising cost of furs and automobile upkeep, she had barely enough to keep her head above the high tide of Fifth Avenue prices. As to idleness, she scorned the charge. Had she not, throughout the war, performed prodigious feats of committee work, all of it meritorious and some of it useful? She had. It had left her with a dangerous and destructive appetite for doing good to people. Aside from this, Miss Roberta was a distracting young person. Few looked at her once without wanting to look again, and not a few looked again to their undoing.
Being-done-good-to is, I understand, much in vogue in the purlieus of Fifth Avenue where it is practiced with skill and persistence by a large and needy cult of grateful recipients. Our Square doesn’t take to it. As recipients we are, I fear, grudgingly grateful. So when Miss Holland transferred her enthusiasms and activities to our far-away corner of the world she met with a lack of response which might have discouraged one with a less new and superior sense of duty to the lower orders. She came to us through the Bonnie Lassie, guardian of the gateway from the upper strata to our humbler domain, who—Pagan that she is!—indiscriminately accepts all things beautiful simply for their beauty. Having arrived, Miss Holland proceeded to organize us with all the energy of high-blooded sweet-and-twenty and all the imperiousness of confident wealth and beauty. She organized an evening sewing-circle for women whose eyelids would not stay open after their long day’s