Some twenty thousand or so was the amount, and I did not even put myself to the trouble of recovering it. I placed a friend of mine, a plodder and one of those chaps who are honest on account of lack of imagination, in the position thus vacated and sighed with mild relief.
My experiment with Harry had proved a complete success. Left to the management of his own affairs, he had shown a wisdom and restraint none the less welcome because unexpected. He was glad to see me, and I was no less glad to see him.
There was little new in town.
Bob Garforth, having gambled away his entire patrimony, had shot and killed himself on the street; Mrs. Ludworth had publicly defied gossip and smiled with favor on young Driscoll; the new director of the Metropolitan Museum had announced himself an enemy to tradition and a friend of progress; and Desiree Le Mire had consented to a two weeks’ engagement at the Stuyvesant.
The French dancer was the favorite topic of discussion in all circles.
The newspapers were full of her and filled entire columns with lists of the kings, princes, and dukes who had been at her feet.
Bets were made on her nationality, the color of her eyes, the value of her pearls, the number of suicides she had caused— corresponding, in some sort, to the notches on the gun of a Western bad man. Gowns and hats were named for her by the enterprising department stores.
It was announced that her engagement at the Stuyvesant would open in ten days, and when the box-office opened for the advance sale every seat for every performance was sold within a few hours.
In the mean time the great Le Mire kept herself secluded in her hotel. She had appeared but once in the public dining-room, and on that occasion had nearly caused a riot, whereupon she had discreetly withdrawn. She remained unseen while the town shouted itself hoarse.
I had not mentioned her name to Harry, nor had I heard him speak of her, until one evening about two weeks after my return.
We were at dinner and had been discussing some commonplace subject, from which, by one of the freaks of association, the conversation veered and touched on classical dancing.
“The Russians are preeminent,” said I, “because they possess both the inspiration—the fire—and the training. In no other nation or school are the two so perfectly joined. In the Turkish dancers there is perfect grace and freedom, but no life. In Desiree Le Mire, for example, there is indeed life; but she has not had the necessary training.”
“What? Le Mire! Have you seen her?” cried Harry.
“Not on the stage,” I answered; “but I crossed on the same ship with her, and she was kind enough to give me a great deal of her time. She seems to understand perfectly her own artistic limitations, and I am taking her word for it.”
But Harry was no longer interested in the subject of dancing. I was besieged on the instant with a thousand questions.