“I should hope not!” exclaimed Craig. “Now for the plunge.”
IN THE BEST SOCIETY
Grant’s electric had swung in at the end of the long line of carriages of all kinds, from coach of ambassador and costly limousine of multi-millionaire to humble herdic wherein poor, official grandee’s wife and daughter were feeling almost as common as if they had come in a street car or afoot. Josh Craig, leaning from the open window, could see the grand entrance under the wide and lofty porte-cochere—the women, swathed in silk and fur, descending from the carriages and entering the wide-flung doors of the vestibule; liveries, flowers, lights, sounds of stringed instruments, intoxicating glimpses of magnificence at windows, high and low. And now the electric was at the door. He and Arkwright sprang out, hastened up the broad steps. His expression amused Arkwright; it was intensely self-conscious, resolutely indifferent—the kind of look that betrays tempestuous inward perturbations and misgivings. “Josh is a good deal of a snob, for all his brave talk,” thought he. “But,” he went on to reflect, “that’s only human. We’re all impressed by externals, no matter what we may pretend to ourselves and to others. I’ve been used to this sort of thing all my life and I know how little there is in it, yet I’m in much the same state of bedazzlement as Josh.”
Josh had a way of answering people’s thoughts direct which Arkwright sometimes suspected was not altogether accidental. He now said: “But there’s a difference between your point of view and mine. You take this seriously through and through. I laugh at it in the bottom of my heart, and size it up at its true value. I’m like a child that don’t really believe in goblins, yet likes the shivery effects of goblin stories.”
“I don’t believe in goblins, either,” said Arkwright.
“You don’t believe in anything else,” said Josh.
Arkwright steered him through the throng, and up to the hostess— Mrs. Burke, stout, honest, with sympathy in her eyes and humor in the lines round her sweet mouth. “Well, Josh,” she said in a slow, pleasant monotone, “you have done a lot of growing since I saw you. I always knew you’d come to some bad end. And here you are— in politics and in society. Gus!”
A tall, haughty-looking young woman, standing next her, turned and fixed upon Craig a pair of deep, deep eyes that somehow flustered him. Mrs. Burke presented him, and he discovered that it was her daughter-in-law. While she was talking with Arkwright, he examined her toilette. He thought it startling—audacious in its display of shoulders and back—until he got over his dazed, dazzled feeling, and noted the other women about. Wild horses could not have dragged it from him, but he felt that this physical display was extremely immodest; and at the same time that he eagerly looked his face burned. “If I do pick one of these,” said he to himself, “I’m jiggered if I let her appear in public dressed this way. Why, out home women have been white-capped for less.”