“Pardon!” he said. “Is it not better? What do women know of money? They throw it away on trifles, dress, jewels—American women are extravagant. It is one result of their—of their spoiling.”
Mr. Pierce got up and emptied his pipe into the fire. Then he turned.
“I’m afraid you have not known the best type of American women,” he said, looking hard at the prince. “Our representative women are our middle-class women. They do not contract European alliances, not having sufficient money to attract the attention of the nobility, or enough to buy titles, as they do pearls, for the purpose of adornment.”
Mr. von Inwald got up, and his face was red. Mr. Pierce was white and sneering.
“Also,” he went on, “when they marry they wish to control their own money, and not see it spent in—ways with which you are doubtless familiar.”
We were all paralyzed. Nobody moved. Mr. Pierce put his pipe in his pocket and stalked out, slamming the door. Then Mr. von Inwald shrugged his shoulders and laughed.
“I see I shall have to talk to our young friend,” he said and picked up his glass. “I’m afraid I’ve given a wrong impression. I like the American women very much; too well,” he went on with a flash of his teeth, looking around the room, and brought the glass to the spring for me to fill. But as I’ve said before, I can tell a good bit about a man from the way he gives me his glass, and he was in a perfect frenzy of rage. When I reached it back to him he gripped it until his nails were white.
My joint ached all the rest of the afternoon. About five o’clock Mr. Thoburn stopped in long enough to say: “What’s this I hear about Carter making an ass of himself to-day?”
“I haven’t heard it,” I answered. “What is it?”
But he only laughed and turned up his collar to go.
“Jove, Minnie,” he said, “why do women of your spirit always champion the losing side? Be a good girl; give me a hand now and then with this thing, and I’ll see you don’t lose by it.”
“We’re not going to lose,” I retorted angrily. “Nobody has left yet. We are still ahead on the books.”
He came over and shook a finger in my face.
“Nobody has left—and why? Because they’re all taking a series of baths. Wait until they’ve had their fifteen, or twenty-one, or whatever the cure is, and then see them run!”
It was true enough; I knew it.
THE PRINCE, WITH APOLOGIES
Tillie brought the supper basket for the shelter-house about six o’clock and sat down for a minute by the fire. She said Mr. Pierce (Carter to her) had started out with a gun about five o’clock. It was foolish, but it made me uneasy.
“They’ve gone plumb crazy over that Mr. von Inwald,” she declared. “It makes me tired. How do they know he’s anything but what he says he is? He may be a messenger from the emperor of Austria, and he may be selling flannel chest protectors. Miss Cobb’s all set up; she’s talking about getting up an entertainment and asking that Miss Summers to recite.”