A few days later I was surprised by a call from Dannevig, who seemed again to be in the full bloom of prosperity. And yet, that inexpressible flavor of aristocracy, and that absolute fineness of type which at our first meeting had so fascinated me, had undergone some subtle change which was almost too fleeting for words to express. To put it bluntly, he had not borne transplantation well. Like the finest European grapes, he had thriven in our soil, but turned out a coarser product than nature intended. He talked with oppressive brilliancy about everything under the sun, patronized me (as indeed he had always done), and behaved with a certain effusive amiability, the impudence of which was simply masterly.
“By the way,” he cried, with fine unconcern, “speaking of beer, how is your friend, Miss Pfeifer? Her old man, I believe, owns a good deal of stock in this paper, quite a controlling interest, I am told.”
“It will not pay to make love to her on that ground, Dannevig,” I answered, gravely, knowing well enough that he had come on a diplomatic errand. “Mr. Pfeifer is, in the first place, not her father, and secondly, he has at least a dozen other heirs.”
“Make love to Miss Pfeifer!” he exclaimed, with a hearty laugh. “Why, I should just as soon think of making love to General Grant! Taking her all in all, bodily and mentally, there is a certain Teutonic heaviness and tenacity about her—a certain professorial ponderosity of thought which would give me a nightmare. She is the innocent result of twenty generations of beer-drinking.”
“Suppose we change the subject, Dannevig,” I interrupted, rather impatiently.
“Well, if you are not the oddest piece I ever did come across!” he replied, laughingly. “You don’t suppose she is a saint, do you?”
“Yes, I do!” I thundered, “and you would greatly oblige by never mentioning her name again in my presence, or I might be tempted to do what I might regret.”
“Heavens!” he cried, laying hold of the door-knob. “I didn’t know you were in your dangerous mood to-day. You might at least have given a fellow warning. Suppose, henceforth, when you have your bad days, you post a placard on the door, with the inscription: ’Dangerous—must not be crossed.’ Then I might know when not to call. Good-morning.”
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