She heard the great artists of the two operas sing in private; was regaled with information concerning the remarkable decency or indecency of their private careers. She saw fashionable plays which instructed the public about squalor, murder, and men’s mistresses, which dissected very skilfully and artistically the ethics of moral degradation. And being as healthy and curious as the average girl, she found in the theatres material with which to inform herself about certain occult mysteries concerning which, heretofore, she had been left mercifully in doubt.
In spite of Kathleen, it was inevitable that she should acquire from the fashionable in literature, music, and the drama, that sorry and unnecessary wisdom which ages souls.
And if what she saw or heard ever puzzled her, there was always somebody, young or old, to enlighten her innocent perplexity; and with each illumination she shrank a little less aloof from this shabby wisdom gilded with “art,” which she could not choose but accept as fact, but the depravity of which she never was entirely able to comprehend.
In March the Seagrave twins arrived at the alleged age of discretion. On their twenty-first birthday the Half Moon Trust Company went solemnly into court and rendered an accounting of its stewardship; the yearly reports which it had made during the term of its trusteeship were brought forward, examined by the court, and the great Half Moon Trust Company was given an honourable discharge. It had done its duty. The twins were masters of their financial and moral fate.
It was about that moribund period of the social solstice when the fag end of the season had fizzled out like a wet firecracker in the April rains; and Geraldine and Kathleen were tired, mentally and bodily. And Scott was buying polo ponies from a British friend and shotguns from a needy gentleman from Long Island.
It had been rather trying work to rid Geraldine of the aspirants for her fortune; during the winter she was proposed to under almost every conceivable condition and circumstance. Kathleen had been bored and badgered and bothered and importuned to the verge of exhaustion; Scott was used, shamelessly, without his suspecting it, and he generally had in tow a string of financially spavined aspirants who linked arms with him from club to club, from theatre to opera, from grille to grille, until he was pleasantly bewildered at his own popularity.
Geraldine was surprised, confused, shamed, irritated in turn with every new importunity. But she remained sensible enough to be quite frank and truthful with Kathleen, except for an exciting secret engagement with Bunbury Gray which lasted for two weeks. And Kathleen was given strength sufficient for each case as it presented itself; and now the fag end of the season died out; the last noble and indigent foreigner had been eluded; the last old beau foiled; the last squab-headed dancing man successfully circumvented. And now the gallinaceous half of the world was leaving town in noisy and glittering migration, headed for temporary roosts all over the globe, from Newport to Nova Scotia, from Kineo to Kara Dagh.