She entered at a fortunate moment. Dr. Buchlieber was a near-sighted old gentleman who read without glasses, but could see nothing six feet away. He usually received and dismissed his visitors without bothering himself to discover or imagine what manner of people they were. “I do not care how they look,” he would say. “They probably look as they talk, without form and void.” But at the moment when Maud entered his little room, he had put on his lenses to look out of the window, and he turned to see a perfect form in a closely fit ting dress, and a face pretty enough to look on with a critical pleasure. He received her kindly, and encouraged her to hope for an appointment, and it was in accordance with his suggestion that she called upon Farnham, as we have related.
She did not go immediately. She took several days to prepare what she called “a harness” of sufficient splendor, and while she was at work upon it she thought of many things. She was not even yet quite sure that she wanted a place in the library. The Doctor had been very kind, but he had given her clearly to understand that the work required of her would be severe, and the pay very light. She had for a long time thought of trying to obtain a clerkship at Washington,—perhaps Farnham would help her to that,—and her mind wandered off among the possibilities of chance acquaintance with bachelor senators and diplomats. But the more she thought of the coming interview, the more her mind dwelt upon the man himself whom she was going to see—his bow and his smile, his teeth and his mustache, and the perfect fit of his clothes. One point in regard to him was still vague in her mind, and as to that her doubts were soon resolved. One evening she said to her father:
“Did you ever see Captain Farnham?”
“Now, what a foolish question that is I’d like to know who built his greenhouses, ef I didn’t?”
“He is pretty well off, ain’t he?”
Saul laughed with that satisfied arrogance of ignorant men when they are asked a question they can answer easily.
“I rather guess he is; that is, ef you call three, four, five millions well off. I don’t know how it strikes you” (with a withering sarcasm), “but I call Arthur Farnham pretty well fixed.”
These words ran in Maud’s brain with a ravishing sound. She built upon them a fantastic palace of mist and cloud. When at last her dress was finished and she started, after three unsuccessful attempts, to walk to Algonquin Avenue, she was in no condition to do herself simple justice. She hardly knew whether she wanted a place in the library, a clerkship at Washington, or the post of amanuensis to the young millionaire. She was confused by his reception of her; his good-natured irony made her feel ill at ease; she was nervous and flurried; and she felt, as she walked away, that the battle had gone against her.