This was sadly disillusionizing to Littleton, and the second experience was no less so. The refined outline sketches proffered by him were unenthusiastically surveyed and languidly discarded like so many wall-papers. It was evident that both the mother and daughter were disappointed, and Littleton presently divined that their chief objection was to the plainness of the several designs. This was made unmistakably obvious when Mrs. Parsons, after exhibiting a number of photographs of foreign public buildings with which she had armed herself, surveyed the most ornate, holding it out with her head on one side, and exclaimed impressively, “This is more the sort of thing we should like. I think Mr. Parsons has already explained to you that he desired our house to be as handsome as possible.”
“I had endeavored to bear that in mind,” Littleton retorted with spirit. “I believe that either of these plans would give you a house which would be handsome, interesting and in good taste.”
“It does not seem to me that there is anything unique about any of them,” said Mrs. Parsons, with a cold sniff intended to be conclusive. Nor did Littleton’s efforts to explain that elaboration in a private residence was liable to detract from architectural dignity and to produce the effect of vulgarity fall upon receptive soil. The rich man’s wife listened in stony silence, at times raising her lorgnette to examine as a curiosity this young man who was telling her—an American woman who had travelled around the world and seen everything to be seen—how she ought to build her own house. The upshot of this interview was that Littleton was sent away with languid instructions to try again. He departed, thinking melancholy thoughts and with fire in his soul, which, for Selma’s sake, he endeavored to keep out of his eyes.
The departure of the Williamses to a smarter neighborhood was a trial for Selma. She nursed the dispiriting reflection that she and Wilbur might just as well be moving also; that a little foresight and shrewdness on her husband’s part would have enabled him to sell at a handsome profit the house in which they were living; and that there was no reason, except the sheer, happy faculty of making the most of opportunities, to account for the social recognition which Flossy