Westover saw at once that when he made his studio tea for the Vostrands he must ask Jeff; it would be cruel, and for several reasons impossible, not to do so, and he really did not see why he should not. Mrs. Vostrand was taking him on the right ground, as a Harvard student, and nobody need take him on any other. Possibly people would ask him to teas at their own houses, from Westover’s studio, but he could not feel that he was concerned in that. Society is interested in a man’s future, not his past, as it is interested in a woman’s past, not her future.
But when he gave his tea it went off wonderfully well in every way, perhaps because it was one of the first teas of the fall. It brought people together in their autumnal freshness before the winter had begun to wither their resolutions to be amiable to one another, to dull their wits, to stale their stories, or to give so wide a currency to their sayings that they could not freely risk them with every one.
Westover had thought it best to be frank with the leading lady of his class, when she said she should be delighted to receive for him, and would provide suitable young ladies to pour: a brunette for the tea, and a blonde for the chocolate. She took his scrupulosity very lightly when he spoke of Mrs. Vostrand’s educational sojourn in Europe; she laughed and said she knew the type, and the situation was one of the most obvious phases of the American marriage.
He protested in vain that Mrs. Vostrand was not the type; she laughed again, and said, Oh, types were never typical. But she was hospitably gracious both to her and to Miss Genevieve; she would not allow that the mother was not the type when Westover challenged her experience, but she said they were charming, and made haste to get rid of the question with the vivid demand: “But who was your young friend who ought to have worn a lion-skin and carried a club?”
Westover by this time disdained palliation. He said that Jeff was the son of the landlady at Lion’s Head Mountain, which he had painted so much, and he was now in his second year at Harvard, where he was going to make a lawyer of himself; and this interested the lady. She asked if he had talent, and a number of other things about him and about his mother; and Westover permitted himself to be rather graphic in telling of his acquaintance with Mrs. Durgin.