Ralph was now under the charge of a tutor, Professor Barre by name, who took a great interest in this American boy, whose travels and experiences had given him a precocity which the professor had never met with in any of his other scholars. Ralph would have much preferred to study Paris instead of books, and the professor, who was able to give a great deal of time to his pupil, did not altogether ignore this natural instinct of a youthful heart. In consequence, the two became very good friends, and Ralph was the best-satisfied member of the party.
It was in regard to social affairs that the lives of Edna and Mrs. Cliff diverged most frequently. Through the influence of Mrs. Sylvester, a handsome woman with a vivacious intelligence which would have made her conspicuous in any society, Edna found that social engagements, not only in diplomatic circles and in those of the American colony, but, to some extent, in Parisian society, were coming upon her much more rapidly than she had expected. The secretary’s wife was proud of her countrywoman, and glad to bring her forward in social functions. Into this new life Edna entered as if it had been a gallery she had not yet visited, or a museum which she saw for the first time. She studied it, and enjoyed the study.
But only in a limited degree did Mrs. Cliff enjoy society in Paris. To be sure, it was only in a limited degree that she had been asked to do it. Even with a well-filled purse and all the advantages of Paris at her command, she was nothing more than a plain and highly respectable woman from a country town in Maine. More than this silks and velvets could not make her, and more than this she did not wish to be. As Edna’s friend and companion, she had been kindly received at the legation, but after attending two or three large gatherings, she concluded that she would wait until her return to Plainton before she entered upon any further social exercises. But she was not at all dissatisfied or homesick. She preferred Plainton to all places in the world, but that little town should not see her again until she could exhibit her Californian blankets to her friends, and tell them where she got the money to buy them.
“Blankets!” she said to herself. “I am afraid they will hardly notice them when they see the other things I shall take back there.”
With society, especially such society as she could not enjoy, Mrs. Cliff could easily dispense. So long as the shops of Paris were open to her, the delights of these wonderful marts satisfied the utmost cravings of her heart; and as she had a fine mind for bargaining, and plenty of time on her hands, she was gradually accumulating a well-chosen stock of furnishings and adornments, not only for her present house in Plainton, but for the large and handsome addition to it which she intended to build on an adjoining lot. These schemes for establishing herself in Plainton, as a wealthy citizen, did not depend on