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.
After all, it was rather a simple-hearted thing of Westover to have either hoped or feared very much for the Vostrands. Society, in the sense of good society, can always take care of itself, and does so perfectly. In the case of Mrs. Vostrand some ladies who liked Westover and wished to be civil to him asked her and her daughter to other afternoon teas, shook hands with them at their coming, and said, when they went, they were sorry they must be going so soon. In the crowds people recognized them now and then, both of those who had met them at Westover’s studio, and of those who had met them at Florence and Lausanne. But if these were merely people of fashion they were readily, rid of the Vostrands, whom the dullest among them quickly perceived not to be of their own sort, somehow. Many of the ladies of Westover’s class made Genevieve promise to let them paint her; and her beauty and her grace availed for several large dances at the houses of more daring spirits, where the daughters made a duty of getting partners for her, and discharged it conscientiously. But there never was an approach to more intimate hospitalities, and toward the end of February, when good society in Boston goes southward to indulge a Lenten grief at Old Point Comfort, Genevieve had so many vacant afternoons and evenings at her disposal that she could not have truthfully pleaded a previous engagement to the invitations Jeff Durgin made her. They were chiefly for the theatre, and Westover saw him with her and her mother at different plays; he wondered how Jeff had caught on to the notion of asking Mrs. Vostrand to come with them.
Jeff’s introductions at Westover’s tea had not been many, and they had not availed him at all. He had been asked to no Boston houses, and when other students, whom he knew, were going in to dances, the whole winter he was socially as quiet, but for the Vostrands, as at the Mid-year Examinations. Westover could not resent the neglect of society in his case, and he could not find that he quite regretted it; but he thought it characteristically nice of Mrs. Vostrand to make as much of the friendless fellow as she fitly could. He had no doubt but her tact would be equal to his management in every way, and that she could easily see to it that he did not become embarrassing to her daughter or herself.