It was two days later—Thursday—that Conrad Lagrange made his memorable visit to the Taines—memorable, in my story, because, at that time, Mrs. Taine gave such unmistakable evidence of her interest in Aaron King and his future.
At the House on Fairlands Heights
As my friend the social scientist would say; it is a phenomenon peculiar to urban life, that the social strata are more or less clearly defined geographically.
That is,—in the English of everyday,—people of different classes live in different parts of the city. As certain streets and blocks are given to the wholesale establishments, others to retail stores, and still others to the manufacturing plants; so there are the tenement districts, the slums, and the streets where may be found the homes of wealth and fashion.
In Fairlands, the social rating is largely marked by altitude. The city, lying in the lap of the hills and looking a little down upon the valley—plebeian business together with those who do the work of Fairlands occupies the lowest levels in the corporate limits. The heights are held by Fairlands’ Pride. Between these two extremes, the Fairlanders are graded fairly by the levels they occupy. It is most gratifying to observe how generally the citizens of this fortunate community aspire to higher things; and to note that the peculiarly proud spirit of this people is undoubtedly explained by this happy arrangement which enables every one to look down upon his neighbor.
The view from the winter home of the Taines was magnificent.
From the window of the room where Mrs. Taine sat, that afternoon, one could have looked down upon all Fairlands. One might, indeed, have done better than that. Looking over the wealth of semi-tropical foliage that—save for the tower of the red-brick Y.M.C.A. building, the white, municipal flagstaff, and the steeples and belfries of the churches—hid the city, one might have looked up at the mountains. High, high, above the low levels occupied by the hill-climbing Fairlanders, the mountains lift their heads in solemn dignity; looking down upon the loftiest Fairlander of them all—looking down upon even the Taines themselves.
But the glory of Mrs. Taine’s God was not declared by the mountains. She sat by the window, indeed, but her eyes were upon the open pages of a book—a popular novel that by some strange legal lapse of the governmental conscience was—and is still—permitted in print.
The author of the story that so engrossed Mrs. Taine was—in her opinion—almost as great in literature as Conrad Lagrange, himself. By those in authority who pronounce upon the worthiness or the unworthiness of writer folk, he is, to-day, said to be one of the greatest writers of his generation. He is a realist—a modern of the moderns. His pen has never been debased by an inartistic and antiquated idealism. His claim to genius rests