“Warrington is home over Sunday. Saw him on horseback this morning.”
“There’s one thing I’m thankful for: the wedding will not be in Herculaneum.”
“It’s disgusting; and we shall have to receive her. But I do not envy her her lot.”
“Neither do I,” said Haldene. “You women have already mapped out a nice little hell for her. Why should you be so vindictive simply because she is an actress? If she is good and honest, what the deuce?”
“There’s no use arguing with you.”
“I’m glad you’ve found that out. You’d find out lots of other things if you stayed home long enough. I shall treat the woman decently.”
“I dare say all you men will.”
“And you, Madam, shall be among the first to call on her. Mind that!”
She looked at the man pityingly. Men never understood. Call on her? Of course, she would call on her. For how could she make the woman unhappy if she did not call on her?
Every city has its Fifth Avenue. That which we can not have as our own we strive to imitate. Animal and vegetable life simply reproduces itself; humanity does more than that, it imitates. Williams Street was the Fifth Avenue of Herculaneum. It was broad, handsome, and climbed a hill of easy incline. It was a street of which any city might be justly proud. Only two or three houses jarred the artistic sense. These were built by men who grew rich so suddenly and unexpectedly that their sense of the grotesque became abnormal. It is an interesting fact to note that the children of this class become immediately seized with a species of insanity, an insanity which urges them on the one hand to buy newspapers with dollar-bills, and on the other to treat their parents with scant respect. Sudden riches have, it would seem, but two generations: the parent who accumulates and the son who spends.
The Warrington home (manor was applied to but few houses in town) stood back from the street two hundred feet or more, on a beautiful natural terrace. The lawn was wide and crisp and green, and the oak trees were the envy of many. The house itself had been built by one of the early settlers, and Warrington had admired it since boyhood. It was of wood, white, with green blinds and wide verandas, pillared after the colonial style. Warrington had purchased it on a bank foreclosure, and rather cheaply, considering the location. The interior was simple but rich. The great fireplace was made of old Roman bricks; there were exquisite paintings and marbles and rugs and china, and books and books. Very few persons in Herculaneum had been inside, but these few circulated the report that the old house had the handsomest interior in town. Straightway Warrington’s income became four times as large as it really was.
The old aunt and the “girl” kept the house scrupulously clean, for there was no knowing when Richard might take it into his head to come home. The “girl’s” husband took care of the stables and exercised the horses. And all went very well.